Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

fact of a liberal constitution for a people that is in nowise prepared for it. A humane prince is thus powerless against the greatest barbarities committed by a party calling itself liberal, and committing outrages in the name of progress. Its unfitness for liberal institutions was clearly proved on a recent occasion when a jury in a case of murder of some Jews notoriously released the murderers and condemned to prison some of the Jews who had escaped massacre. And still these liberal institutions of Roumania are lauded to the skies by French publicists and journalists of a certain stripe, who in their enthusiasm for Roumania do their fair share in making this semibarbarous people vain of their most shameful deeds.

These persecutions against Jews and Germans have largely increased since the war of 1870. German artisans and scholars, merchants a*hd railroad builders, have been made to feel it most painfully. The radical leader, Bratiano, recently declared that he would rather wade in the mud than travel on railroads built by the Germans, and appealed to his countrymen to form associations all over the country with a view to break off all intercourse with the Jews aud the Germans by refusing to buy from or sell to them, or in any manner to associate with them, and to the press to oppose every effort at German colonization, which had been recommended as a means to revive the industries of the country and develop its resources. In these sentiments and aims Bratiano is supported bv many journalists, and by municipal magistrates and teachers in the public schools, and these teachings and instigations have borne a rich crop of outrages. Houses have been plundered, synagogues destroyed, cemeteries desecrated, wives and daughters outraged, and men and children murdered. And the slightest provocations are sufficient to start these outrages. Some time ago a renegade Jew from Russia robbed a Greek church of some of its valuable ornaments, and hid them, by chance or intent, in an immense buildiug where lived a Jewish Rabbi and some forty Jewish families. The things were discovered, and the thief, to shield himself, declared the Rabbi a party to the crime. This was enough to start the excitement, and immediately there commenced a fearful attack on Rabbi and people, all that could be found, and after these had suffered veritable martyrdom, a judicial investigation proved them all innocent and perfectly ignorant of the fellow who had stolen the articles aud thus inculpated them. But the persecution had continued for days, until the Jews had lost nearly all they possessed, and it was only arrested by the authorities when the mob could find nothing more to steal. The Jews then received the poor satisfaction of being declared innocent, and the permission to depart unpunished. They were fortunate in escaping with their lives through such an excitement.

On another occasion a child was lost for some days. At last it was found waudering about in the porches of an old synagogue. This was enough to start an outcry—the child had evidently been stolen by the Jews and hidden in the building that they might have Christian blood with which to sprinkle their door-posts on the occasion of the approaching Passover. This flimsy story flew like wildfire, and in a few minutes every Jew who was so unfortunate as to be on the public street was attacked with stones and clubs, and the outrage soon extended to their homes and synagogues, growing into fearful proportions, and resulting in cruelties that would put to blush the Parisian Commune. This outbreak was in a fair way of extending all over the provinces where the persecutors could find victims, especially in the large cities, when the foreign consuls in Bucharest joined in a protest to the government against this cruel bestiality toward the Jews; and this combined action of the foreign representatives was officially communicated to their respective governments, who again threatened to interfere.

This threat starts up the Turk; he reprimands the prince; the latter appeals to the police and military authorities to be vigilant in suppressing the disorders; these authorities succeed in getting into operation by the time the excesses have exhausted themselves for the time being, and nobody suffers but the innocent Jews. And it is probable that these disgraceful scenes will be repeated from time to time until some great revolution shall wipe out Roumania or place it unconditionally into the hands of some power strong enough to control the violence of its ignorant and prejudiced masses. But as long as the European Chess-board has its pieces so arranged that not one can be moved in the least without alarming all the others, so long the kings will look out for their own interests and leave the pawns to shift for themselves.

The peculjar position of Roumania, surrounded by so many nationalities that would gladly possess her, has really given her existence, and still secures it to her, notwithstanding her apparent unworthiness of this distinction and favor. On the east is Russia, separated only by a small river, across which this great power can look and perceive a portion of her own territory violently wrested from her, and which she will seize the first opportunity to regain. Bulgaria on the south, and the other Slavonian provinces of Turkey, would like nothing better than, under the stimulating influence of a revival of the RussoGreek Church, to take Roumania and make a Slavonic Confederation of the Danube. In the west, Anstro-Hungary would not hesitate a moment to seize and incorporate Roumania, with a view to possess the fertile land and an unobstructed passage to the Black Sea, if the other powers were not on the watch to prevent it. Swarms of foreign agents from France and Russia help keep up an agitation in the interior, and prepare parties to favor one or the other of these foreign interests when the time to decide shall arrive; and so the peculiar position of the new nation in regard to her surroundings seems to protect her from interference from without or within, no matter how strong may be the appeal of the sufferers.

The true course for Roumania to follow would be to tend to her own internal development during these dissensions of her enemies, and in the meanwhile to become so strong and respectable that when they are prepared to absorb her she might be prepared to resist, and claim the-sympathies of Europe, not from position or policy, but because of her worth and the most significant fact that a strong semi-oriental nation seems to be needed on the Lower Danube as a sort of transition land between the Orient and the Occident. And she has the means to accomplish this in her midst in the very elements which she is insanely trying to drive away. But instead of tending to her own political and industrial development, she is continually fighting over the battles of half the Continent of Europe. During the entire war between Germany and France she was in a fever of excitement and exasperation, and when the German forces entered Paris the principal radical journal appeared with a deep black border, to give, as it said, an outward expression to its internal grief at the barbaric invasion of the Teutonic hordes into the center of civilization.

When in Bucharest the Germans desired to assemble, as they did throughout the world, to celebrate a "festival of Peace," they were not allowed to do it unmolested—almost the only instance the world over. They were disturbed by noisy crowds in tiie religious services of the festival, and their banquet was totally broken up by the invasion of a brutal mob that smashed in windows, burst in doors, and demolished all the preparations for a joyous feast. Even the German consul-general was attacked with stones with the cry of " Death to the Germans! Long live the French!" The conservative premier, Ghika, who doubtless greatly regretted the outrage, did his best, with the aid of the tardy police, to quell the disturbance, but nobody heeded him. Young Iioumania was on its mettle, and was determined that neither banquet should be eaten nor speech be delivered; and so it was—the rioters having it all their own way until the military and the firemen appeared, when the latter dispersed the mob by discharging streams of water on the people.

But the Young Roumanians found that they had no helpless Jews to deal with this time. Bismarck demanded full reparation for the insult, and received it. The entire ministry fell. Some eighty individuals, mainly students and policemen, were convicted of being engaged in the disorder, and even the chief of police was discharged. The Sultan informed the ruling prince, who, as a German, was of course innocent of the outrage, that on its repetition thirty thousand Turkish troops would march in and keep order. The Prince in return replied that in future every effort would be made to protect the Germans from violence or insult, but showed very evident chagrin that the Sultan had taken this occasion to remind him that the Turk was still the supreme power in Rouunania.

Since then the Germans have been let alone, and the Young Roumanians have confined their amusements to the defenseless Jews. The spirit is the same, but they indulge it where there is less danger. This new ministry lived but a little while; it met at the outset the accusation that it was the creation of foreign influence, and received the nickname of "Prussian." The opposition did nothing but oppose, and at last succeeded in defeating the ministry by a majority of six. The Prince, however, determined not to yield, ordered the ministers to retain their places, and dissolved the Assembly, while the latter left the hall with the cry of " Live the Constitution!" This was the first decided effort on the part of* the Prince to introduce a sterner regime than had been adopted by his predecessors, and as the people knew that the garrison was remanded to the barracks, and was ready at any moment to put down a hostile demonstration, they thought it best quietly to disperse.

It was supposed for a little while that this bold step on the part of Prince Charles would cost him his throne; but he was fully sustained by encouraging telegrams from Berlin and Vienna, the publication of which gave a moral influence stronger than any military demonstration that he could have njade. The dissolution of the Chambers was not, however, regarded so much a solution as a postponement of the troubles botween people and prince, for the elections to follow for a new house could alone solve the difficulty. These were attended with great agitation, and the "Reds" made a desperate effort to stir up the country against the "imported prince" whom they desired to banish. Their efforts proved fruitless, for the thinking classes became more and more convinced that, however much the country needed regeneration, these fierce, irreconcilable radicals were not the men to do it. Charles received numerous addresses from the most influential families of the various provinces, assuring him of their support, and inviting him to visit their sections of country for a personal acquaintance with the inhabitants.

The elections resulted in a complete defeat of the "Reds;" not one of their prominent candidates was elected, while most of the leading conservatives were returned by a large majority. The nervous agitation attending the election was largely owing to the fact, which was generally uuderst ood, that in case the Prince was not supported in the popular elections he would abdicate and leave the country. His triumphant indorsement was therefore the cause of much joy throughout the land, and was followed by popular festivals in Bucharest and other cities.

This looked like the commencement of a new era for Rou

« IndietroContinua »