Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

out. These fine qualities not being It is of no earthly use to her-a apparent to the traveller, their ab source of weakness rather than of sence is charged upon the five pro- strength, and sure to be attacked tecting Powers, who, it is contended, before long. When it is attacked, sacrifice the interests of the country she need no more calculate upon to their own selfish purposes, and England coming to her rescue, than enable those in power to keep them. to that of Poland, Denmark, or any selves there against the will of the of the other numerous countries and country by mere intrigue. It is causes which we abandon and beindeed an open question whether tray the moment it suits us. Far we should not have better consulted better let her make a merit of neour own interests as well as those cessity, and at a time when there is of the Principalities, if, instead of no pressure at work, no coercion agreeing to place them under the used, cede what will otherwise prove protection of five Powers all jealous her ruin, and obtain in return rights of each other, we had left them to which will strengthen her Danutheir own devices. Upon a future bian frontier. The reason that Rusoccasion, in a conversation which I sia and France may have a cause of had with Prince Couza, he graphi- quarrel with us upon this question cally described the liberty he enjoyed at any moment they choose, is simunder the present system. There ply because Turkey has rights in was no violation of the stipulations it which we are bound to protect. which he did not daringly commit Up to this moment it has not suited under the protecting ægis of one or either Power to open the Eastern other Power. However illegal or Question. The insurrection in Poarbitrary his acts, however much in land for a time divided the interests defiance of treaty-right, he was al- of France and Russia, and a skilful ways sure to have one Power on his

diplomacy on our part at that time side sometimes France, some- might have pushed matters to the times Russia, generally both if his point of an open breach. This policy was directed against Turkey. would have given a coup-de-grace to If, instead of joining in an agree the Franco-Russian policy in the ment with other Powers which ob East. It was one of the indirect liges us as a point of honour to in advantages which would have acterfere whenever an unscrupulous crued from the gratification of the ruler breaks the constitution, we sentimentalism of the English in had confined ourselves to a treaty the matter of Poland. There has prohibiting any Power under any probably never been a question in pretence whatever from interfering which the interests of diplomacy in the internal administration of could have been so well served by these Principalities, we should have the unreasoning impulses of the saved ourselves from those diffi masses as in this matter of Poland. culties which are likely soon to Never could the oppressed - naarise and embarrass our policy as tionality twaddle have been made seriously as the Schleswig-Hol more available to the far-seeing stein complications have done. statesman. To the ignorant it The pretensions of Turkey, un would have been a matter of sentifortunately, were those which we ment; to the initiated, one of prothought it necessary to support, not found diplomacy. While the Emperceiving that in diplomatic as in peror was in an agony lest we military strategy you increase the should have pushed him on to an strength of your position exactly open rupture with Russia, he was in proportion as you retract your deluding his own people into the lines. At this moment the vulner- idea that there was nothing he able point of Turkey is her suze wished for more than a war for rainty over the Principalities; she Poland, which we prevented. It has got this “tabia” of diplomacy would, indeed, have been well worth lying outside all her fortifications. our while to have brought this

us.

about. The first principle of diplo- verbial; but the national policy is macy is to keep on good terms with held up as the type of all that is foreign Powersone's self; the second, sordid, cold-blooded, and selfish. to foster dissensions between those Everything, in fact, that the Engwho, if united, would be dangerous lishman is, the English Government to you. It is this latter principle is not; and it requires no little which Prince Couza works to such patience and temper in the present great advantage. We seem carefully day to travel, and venture upon poto reverse this order; and the result litical discussions with foreigners. of our recent diplomacy has been Nor does the secret conviction that to quarrel with every European they are right tend to increase one's Power, and to unite them against serenity.

Thus we are quite as much de In this little out-of-the-way Moltested as a nation in the Principali- davian town, the vices of England ties as in Germany or Denmark; were crammed down our throats. and being about to lure the Turks We were accused of egotism, of beto their destruction, we shall end ing mercenary, of impeding the deby being execrated by the only velopment of these provinces for people which still in its simplicity our own selfish ends, of intrigues so clings to our alliance, and believes black that even a Moldavian imain its efficacy. At the same time, gination shuddered to contemplate while the Roumains, like the Greeks, them, and of designs so elaborate hate and abuse us, I have little and far-seeing that the only way it doubt that, like them, if they were was possible to convince people that called on to elect a prince by popu- they did not exist, was by explainlar vote, they would unite in favour ing the phenomenon of extremes of an English one. However much meeting. Thus a sublime degree of we are despised as a friend or dis- folly and simplicity may at last be liked as an enemy, we are immense- mistaken fora

wisdom and a subtlety ly respected by virtue of our inter- not appreciable by the masses. nal institutions, and of our indi English travellers are so rare in vidual independence of character. Moldavia that even in Jassy one is While the English Government is looked upon rather as a curiosity ; universally unpopular, the English- and the ignorance of society with man abroad is usually preferred to reference to England is as great as any other foreigner, and to a great that usually displayed by British extent redeems or extenuates the members of Parliament when they faults of his administration in the are discussing our relations with eyes of those with whom he is stay- China. Perhaps when one coning. The wonder to every foreigner siders the superior opportunities is, that the national policy should which such a man as Mr Cobden be the result of the national char- enjoys of obtaining information, acter. As individuals, Englishmen there is less excuse for him than have the credit of being the most for a Jassy politician. In general, scrupulously truthful and honour- the few ideas upon any subject able of men; as a nation we are which the Moldavian men possess “perfide;" and so far from the lat- they derive from the women. Noest efforts of our diplomacy having thing was more striking than the tended to remove this impression, invariable rule which insured your we have achieved a higher reputa- hearing from the men in the morntion for perfidy during the last two ing what had been propounded to or three years than we ever enjoyed you by the old women the night before. Individually, the English- before. As is usually the case in man is admitted to be brave; poli- communities in a low state of Eurotically, the name of England is a pean civilisation, the female portion byword for cowardice. Individu- of society is immeasurably superior ally he is regarded as absurdly to the male; indeed, it would be open-handed his generosity is pro- difficult to find anything in Europe

honest man,

inferior to a Moldavian male, ex soldiers after them, take universalcept, perhaps, a Wallachian. With suffrage votes after them, cook after the men, therefore, it was rarely them, furnish after them, dance, possible to discuss politics, or any flirt, gamble after them, and another subject. They scarcely ever xiously watch for the impression open a book; they only engage in which this admirable imitation of politics because they offer such everything French makes upon the splendid opportunities for looting stranger. Far more particular about the public money; they only tra- the polish of their boots than the vel to pick up the vices of civi- purity of their honour, a Roumain lisation; they only marry because gentleman would prefer you to comthe facilities for divorce are so pliment him on his French accent great that marriage ceases to be rather than on his integrity. Ina tie. That there are rare excep- deed, I am bound to say that nothing tions to the general rule is only to that I have said of them here is half be expected; but with every desire so severe as what I have heard them to do justice to a country where, at say of one another. It was quite all events, the rites of hospitality disheartening at last, when, on are thoroughly understood, it is im- making some new acquaintance, possible to be blind to its faults. and hearing him give vent to ferIf the traveller never ventured upon vent patriotic sentiments, and lofty a general and impartial criticism of aspirations for himself and his counthe people of a country because he try, I was always told, when I dehappened to be well received in it, scribed to one of his friends my there would be little use in his tra- pleasure at having at last found an velling; nor are the Moldavians or

“What! that man Wallachians likely to cure their honest? Of all the unprincipled faults unless they hear what those scoundrels in the Principalities he who would willingly extenuate them, is chief.” In the end one is obwere it possible, find reprehensible. liged, from sheer despair, to abanOne of the peculiarities of the race don one sex for the other. Were is a great sensitiveness to criticism it not for the men, the women would by a stranger; and it made one un be nicer than they are; but as it comfortable to feel that any chance is, they do what they can to reremark was likely to be twisted deem their country. They have into an uncomplimentary sense, nobler aspirations, higher intelliwhether one meant it or not. It is gences, and more force of character. true, this only applies to superficials. They are so glad to see a stranger, It is so generally admitted among that, if he is the least presentable, themselves that nobody can be he is sure of an entrée into society; trusted, that it is the habit never and as, more especially since the to play cards except with the stakes seat of government has been moved on the table. Nor do they care for to Bucharest, the number of firstbeing charged with moral defects. class boyard families now resident What hurts their pride is an unfav- in Jassy is considerably diminished, ourable contrast between a Molda- he will soon know every one. The vian and a French made dish, or a town itself is not a particularly cynical expression of countenance agreeable place of residence, apart on entering a salon, as though you from its society. It is neither one were comparing the furniture with thing nor the other. It has neither that of a handsome Paris apparte- the repose and languor of the East, ment. They have the most su nor the stir and vivacity of the preme admiration for all the worst West. The streets are irregular and points in the French character; they ill-paved; the shops are poor, and go to Paris expressly to pick them there is no great thoroughfare where up, and are very indignant if you it is amusing to flâner. Indeed, do not praise them for having them. in the absence of a trottoir, nobody They dress after the French, play dreams of walking. The back car.

riages are the best in Europe-light, proportion of society English, so open, one-horse phaetons, as daintily that nothing can be pleasanter than got up as though they were private to be drawn for a brief period into property: the ladies and gentlemen its vortex. are flying about in them, jolting There are picnics to be underover the rough pavement at a rapid taken to charming country-houses pace all day and night. The drivers -among others, to one upon the of these are for the most part Rus- banks of the Pruth — to which sians, belonging to that peculiar sect we all go in a cortège of light carin the Greek Church which enjoins riages and four, and dash across the mutilation. As there is a law in steppe through clouds of dust; but Russia prohibiting the practice, they our fair companions in their light flock across the frontier, and for gauzy dresses and gay parasols are some reason or other almost invari as indifferent to it as our wild gypsy ably become cab-drivers. There is postboys. Here we find a handsome something particularly loathsome chateau, magnificently furnished, and unhealthy-looking in their ap- and commanding an extensive view pearance.

of the plains of Bessarabia ; the The city contains between fifty Pruth winds at the base of the steep and sixty thousand inhabitants, hill, clothed to the water's edge composed of Jews, gypsies, Ar- with wood, through which are cut menians, Germans, Sclaves, Rou- romantic paths, doubly delightful mains, Poles, and other foreigners. in this country,where wood is scarce. The best proof of the mongrel na From here we can see with a glass ture of the population is to be found the soldiers of the Russian garrion the signboards, where German, son; and if General Kotzebue does Italian, Moldavian, French, and intend to cross the Pruth, it will sometimes Russian or Turkish, ap- be at this point that the operpear indiscriminately. The fact of ation is likely to be effected. being only ten miles from Russia Even then there was a very geneon the one hand, and of having ral impression that an invasion of been for many years in the occupa- the province by Russia was immition of the Turks on the other, nent, and rumours were constantly gives the city a half-Russian, half- flying about of reinforcements of Turkish aspect, which makes it un- troops arriving in Bessarabia. The like any other—Turkish suburbs of Polish insurrection and the Circashovels, and Russian silent streets sian war, however, gave full emand grand houses, Turkish baths ployment to the armies of the Czar. and Russian churches

, with the cor- Now everything is changed — the ruption and intrigue of both coun- subjugation and deportation of the tries concentrated. There are some warlike race which is migrating unpublic gardens in the outskirts of der such distressing circumstances the town, where the band plays to Turkey, will release from Cautwo or three times a-week, and casian service an army of 120,000 where one is quite sure to see con men, who will be available for any gregated all the beauty and fashion stroke of policy which may be unof the Moldavian capital; and there dertaken by Russia in this direction; is a theatre, which was closed at the while the Polish insurrection is so period of my visit, but we made up utterly extinguished for the time for it by dancing every night in- at least, that the state of that counstead. The houses are large palatial try need not embarrass any aggresresidences, usually standing in court- sive movement. That before the yards, and elaborately furnished. expiration of this year another army In fact, in so far as servants, equi- of occupation will be quartered in pages, and the externals of domestic Moldavia, is a very fair subject for life are concerned, everything is prophecy ; but whether that army scrupulously French. Everybody will be Russian or Austrian is not so talks French perfectly, and a large easy to determine. The Moldavi

ans. are rich in their experiences be forgotten. The race-course is of armies of occupation, and it is within a mile of the town, situated amusing to hear them indulging in a valley, altogether the most picin invidious comparisons between turesque spot in the neighbourhood. them. I found one universal opin- A motley crowd gathers here to ion. First, of course, all armies of see Russian horses compete with occupation are hateful and detest- English and every variety of crossable, tyrannise over society, rob breeds. In this respect the horses the poor, and otherwise misconduct and the people who are collected to themselves. If an army of angels look at them are pretty much on a could occupy the country, they would par. Some of the Moldavian ladies be disliked and complained of; but went on horseback ; and as the the order in which the three na- weather was bright, the scene was tions who have been severally repre- gay in spite of the dust. As usual, sented in this military form in the there were two or three English Principalities are disliked, is as fol- jockeys, and Moldavian and Russian lows : First, the Austrians—officers jockeys in remarkable half-Cossackand men both cordially hated, but looking costumes, who flogged their officers especially so. Second, the horses without intermission from Turks—Preferred to the Austrians, the starting to the winning post, but very naturally disliked upon re and seemed to think the only use ligious and social grounds. And, of the reins was to shake them near thirdly, the Russians - the least the horse's ears. The chief defect abused of the three, thanks especi- in the scenery round Jassy is the ally to a certain General Kotzebue, absence of wood and water, otherwho governed Moldavia with judg wise the country is prettily broken; ment and honesty. So that the and where money has been spent crossing of the Pruth by the Russi- upon planting and otherwise beauans would be preferred to the cross- tifying it, there are some charming ing of the Dniester by the Austri- spots. The most celebrated of these ans. It is rumoured that Austria is a country-house called Sokola, and Russia have come to an arrange- the property of one of the late ment with reference to these Princi- hospodars; but the glory of Jassy palities, and that Austria is to an has departed since the seat of nex Moldavia, and Russia Walla- government has been moved to chia ; but it is impossible to say in Bucharest—in other words, since an atmosphere of intrigue which the the union of the two provinces. inner wheel of all is, or who is be- In order to hear a Moldavian really traying whom. It used to be sup- eloquent, this is the subject to posed that France and Russia tho- get him on; it is the only piece of roughly understood each other in politics in which he is thoroughly their policy here ; but Prince Cou- interested, because it touches his za's coup d'état has given consider- pocket. It also gives him an opable dissatisfaction to the latter portunity for indulging in vituperaPower. However, the slopes of tion, which is his strong point. It Stinka are not the place to talk is only by abusing the Wallachians, politics. The men could not if they collectively and individually, that wished, and the women are not in- he can in any way console himself clined to be bored with so dry a for the injury he feels they have subject. So we play games and done him. In this respect the dance until far on into the night, Moldavian is very like the Neapoliand then, with the brightest of full tan; and it is not unnatural, conmoons lighting up our way, gallop sidering the origin of both, that back again across the steppe to there should be a strong family Jassy.

resemblance. To hear him abusing Among other social pastimes of Wallachia, is like listening to a the gay capital, the races are not to Neapolitan abusing Piedmont. All

VOL. XCVI. --NO, DLXXXV,

D

« IndietroContinua »