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A person who had been the valet-dechambre of a Wallachian gentleman, rose, under Stirbey, by Russian protection, to be great boyard and minister. All the present Caimacan's old footmen are little boyards. "Besides the boyarie, or official nobility, an aristocracy of fact and of tradition exists, enjoying no legal privilege, but whose origin is to be sought in the most brilliant pages of the Rouman annals. Those who, belonging to the category, respect themselves, make it a point of honour not to accept a rank in the boyarie. Of the 400 families that compose the great boyarie of the two Principalities, hardly fifty belong to the historical aristocracy. The nobility or ennoblement of the others dates from ten, twenty, or at most forty years back." The writer insists strongly on the difference between a boyarie and an aristocracy, which have been commonly confounded by foreigners. If this confusion be permitted, one may seek in vain for a middle class in Moldo- Wallachia. In Wallachia there are 3000 families of boyards, great and small, but of these 2900 are, socially speak. ing, bourgeois, or persons of the middle class. In Moldavia, which is smaller than Wallachia, there are twice as many boyards, and the present Caimacan, Vogorides, continues to make them.

Whilst endeavouring, by the aid of the "Letters," and of our own recollections, to give the reader an idea of the profound selfishness, shameless venality, and continual intrigues of that influential class in the Principalities from which the hospodars are chosen, we are naturally led to the condition of the unhappy Rouman peasantry. The 13th and 14th chapters give a clear and animated picture of the legal position of the peasant, and of his real one. We shall not dwell long upon them, because much of the information they contain was given, in substance, in a former paper in this Magazine.* The peasants' sufferings date from 1731, at which period the boyards, seduced

Blackwood's Magazine, Feb. 1857.


by the pomps and splendours of the Fanariot court, ceased to inhabit and to cultivate their own estates, and took up their abode in the capital. In the words of St Marc Girardin, "those who were masters in their castles became valets at the court." The custom of farming property then grew general, and all intercourse between proprietors and peasants ceased. Listen to the consequences, as witnessed at the present day. "The best farmers" (and remember that it is a Wallachian landed proprietor who writes this, and who writes of what he has seen) are those who exact only two or three times as much as they are entitled to. Bad ones exact two hundred days of labour instead of twenty-two,f and occasionally beat a peasant to death. When things are carried as far as this, and a complaint is lodged, the murderer gets off by paying a heavy sum. But as long as a farmer contents himself with beating his peasants moderately, everything is arranged between him and the sub-prefect. Instances of murder are not uncommon. I saw recently, at the Ministry of the Interior, two reports establishing such facts." The sub-prefect is the curse of the peasant. He is usually either the former domestic of some great boyard, or a ruined small proprietor desirous to reconstruct his fortune. Three candidates are elected; the hospodar selects from the three the one who offers most money. Under Stirbey, we learn from this pamphlet, the market price rose to 6000 francs. The salary is 140 francs a-month, on which the sub-prefect has to keep himself, his family, a carriage and four horses, and pay the expenses of his office and the salary of his employés. It is clear that in Moldo-Wallachia a man, to be a sub-prefect, must either be very rich, or a great robber. The farmers pay him black mail for liberty to grind and beat their peasants. The peasants seek to conciliate him by such presents as their poverty permits; and when they take the great liberty

The legal return to the proprietor for the lands he grants to the peasant, and whose quantity is fixed by law, is twenty-two days of labour per annum, a tithe of the corn, and a fifth of the hay.

of presenting a petition to him, they invariably accompany it with a gift -perhaps a pair of fowls, perhaps a calf. From a less authentic and trustworthy source, the following trait would be incredible :

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"If it be a calf that is offered to him (when proceeding on his rounds through his district), the sub-prefect points out the impossibility of carrying it away with him, and says to the petitioner, Keep it.' The peasant goes away joyful, and rather surprised at such disinterestedness. He sells the calf, or the calf dies, and he thinks no more about it. But, two or three years afterwards, he is applied to for the aforesaid calf, left in his care, and which must have grown into an ox.' Remonstrance is unavailing; the unlucky peasant has to give his best ox. This scene is repeated four or five times in every village; and there are sub-prefects who have acquired by this means magnificent herds of cattle."

Not only the sub-prefects, but the great majority of all the Moldo-Wallachian functionaries, are corrupt in the highest degree. "At least seventyfive per cent of the whole number," says the author of the "Letters," "and I do not fear contradiction." Bribery and extortion are the universal rule. This arises in great part from the wretched salaries given to public servants. A judge gets 180 francs a-month; a prefect receives 300, and cannot spend less than 3000. The bad example is set by the very highest in the land-by the hospodar himself and his ministers. The most barefaced peculations and downright theft are left unpunished. When the Russian army retired from the Principalities, the prefect of Jalomitza accompanied it, and took with him the funds of his district, amounting to 80,000 francs. In Russia he received rank and decorations. The war over, he returned to Bucharest. No account was ever demanded of him. Cases of this kind are of frequent occurrence. There are, however, it appears, some honest prefects. In Wallachia, we are told, there are seven out of seventeen, but all the sub-prefects rob. "What can the most honest prefect do against a system of pillage, having the hospodar

for the summit, and the gendarme for the base?" In the present state of things, our author assures us, none but rich and extraordinarily virtuous persons can long resist the temptation, and preserve clean hands. He expresses his wonder that there should be so large a proportion of honest functionaries as twenty-five in a hundred, and considers this a proof that honesty, with certain men, is an incurable chronic affection. No previous misconduct, or even infamy, disqualifies for high office in the eyes of the unscrupulous Rouman satraps of the Porte. Alexander Ghica had no sooner assumed the powers of caimacan, than he made appointments which at once disgusted and drove from his side all the respectable men of his party. He seemed to take pleasure in surrounding himself with persons whom public opinion had long since condemned and branded. And public opinion, indignant, extended its scorn and censure to himself. "The old man did not hesitate to strip himself of a popularity which would have adorned his tomb." Amongst the highest appointments he had to bestow, we are told of that of a Greek, who had been condemned to punishment for embezzlement; of a man who had been sentenced to death for the murder of his father-inlaw, and who was pardoned only at the foot of the gallows, and with the condition that he should be suspended from it by the shoulders for an hour; of an officer who had been broken for theft; of sub-prefects who had undergone three years' imprisonment for the same crime, &c., &c. With this acute writer's picture of the Rouman public servant, we will conclude this sketchy exposition, founded chiefly on the pamphlet before us, of the moral, or rather immoral, condition of Moldo-Wallachia under the present system and rulers.

"The type of the Rouman bureaucrat is a functionary serving, for forty years past, with the same zeal and the same profits, all the governments, Greek, Russian, or indigenous, that have passed in procession over him. The various armies of occupation, which ruined and demoralised his country, enriched him, and placed around his neck a collar of foreign

A Plea for the Principalities.

1858.] decorations. Inured to business, skilful, active, and in most cases risen from very low, he ends by becoming grand boyard and minister. Whilst those who follow in his footsteps style him Excellency, the people cast in his face the epithet of Tchokoi, a word they have created to stigmatise infamy and baseness. Tchokoi is untranslatable; it means valet, pied plat, lâche, parvenu, all combined. In the rest of the world there is probably no word equivalent to it, because there is not another nation that has suffered so much from the baseness and vileness of its rulers."

One question will naturally suggest itself to whomsoever has read the foregoing pages. In a country where the lower classes are notoriously ignorant, and where the greater portion of the higher ones are, upon your own showing, profoundly venal and unpatriotic, where will you find the materials for an honest administration? You ask the union of the provinces under one hereditary prince, who is to rule constitutionally in short, you aspire to make of Roumania an eastern Piedmont or Belgium, under the suzeraineté of Turkey, but restricting the Porte to the rights conferred by that suzeraineté - rights which, it must be owned, have hitherto been frequently and grossly abused. But, although we at once allow that you have much cause for complaint, that you have been oppressed and plundered, preyed upon by those who should have protected you, despoiled and exhausted by Turk, Russian, and Austrian, we may ask whether you really think, after the admissions and statement you have made with regard to your countrymen, that the country is fit to walk alone, contains the elements of a good administration, and would not be in danger of becoming, within a short time, were your demands complied with, a pitiable spectacle of misrule and corruption, an arena of intrigues and strife, a playground for unscrupulous adventurers, and a scandal which the nations of Europe could not suffer to exist? If we rightly interpret, and may venture to condense, the views and arguments to be found in several chapters of the


pamphlet, we can state in small com-
pass its author's reply. He main-
tains that there exists in Moldo-
Wallachia a sufficient number of
honest men to lead the way to social
reforms, and to set an efficacious
He proposes the abolition
of the absurd system of boyards, the
cancelling of all these ranks or tchinns
(which serve merely as means of
corruption), and of the unjust ex-
emptions attached to them. Wit-
nessing the incurable venality and
selfishness of the great majority of
the grand boyards, he looks a step
lower for honesty, and believes it
might there be found united with
capacity. There are unquestionably
young men of promise in the Princi-
palities, and it is to be regretted that
some of them have embraced repub-
lican and even socialist ideas. Not
a few of the sons and nephews of the
great boyards themselves, of those
men who have grown grey in poli-
tical profligacy and villany, display
a far more patriotic spirit than their
fathers. Amongst the professional
and commercial classes, men of edu-
cation and practical sense might be
found. But, above all, the Rouman
writer adjures the great Powers to
establish such an order of things in
his country as shall enable his coun-
trymen to select their own ruler, and
not to have him imposed upon them
by this or that foreign influence-
exerted often from motives diame-
trically opposed to the welfare of Mol-
do-Wallachia, and, not unfrequently,
purchased by the gold of the wealth-
est candidate. In that country, it
has always been from the summit of
the social pyramid that the corrup-
tion proceeded, spreading downwards
and infecting the mass. By subser-
viency to alien interests, by huge
bribes to corrupt ministers, by bak-
shish unsparingly distributed to
countless officials at Stamboul, that
sink of official corruption--by every
vile and costly means, in short, that
will serve his turn, the hospodar at-
tains to power. But it is not merely
for the honour of the post that he
has wriggled through dirty paths to
the proud eminence, in attaining
which he has befouled himself mo-
rally as much as ever did physically
the climber of a greasy pole at an

English fair. He must get back his expenses; he must make a fortune besides ; he must also have plentiful funds in hand to make head against the intrigues of his disappointed competitors. So he at once commences an organised system of plunder, extortion, and bribe-taking. His ministers assist him, and follow his example-or if, as has been known in one or two cases of late years, they scruple to do so, they are not long his ministers. The lower classes of officials, generally ill paid, do as they see their betters do. In the provinces, we have already shown how the local authorities and the farmers are leagued together to rob and crush the peasant; if here and there a prefect would gladly do justice, he finds it scarcely possible. He reports a sub-prefect to the minister; the subprefect has friends at court, whom he has duly bought, and his superior is told to mind his own business. A public functionary, at all highly placed, who will not do as others do, but who strives to do his duty, had better give in his resignation, and it is thus that the obstinately honest generally end. "The healthy portion of the public functionaries," says the author of the "Letters," "those who love their country, and whose hands are pure, live in the fear of a dismissal, which is seldom long in coming, or vegetate eternally in subaltern posts."

The second of the two chapters devoted to the condition of the peasantry concludes with the following paragraphs, which we think it apropos to quote here, as throwing additional light on the grievances of the Principalities, and on the mode of action of the remedy proposed by the more enlightened and patriotic portion of their inhabitants.

"Let me not be accused of colouring the picture too highly! There are many other iniquities of which I have said nothing, lest I should appear to exaggerate the shameful vices of the present regime. On whom is to be cast the responsibility of such a state of things? On the law and on the government? But they are themselves only the consequences of a cause which must be sought in a higher sphere, and which

we shall find in the political situation of the Principalities.

"Under the Fanariot regime, the ruin and debasement of these countries was the aim to which the reigning princes directed all their efforts. Subsequently, the Russian protectorate, wishing to attain the same end, employed the same means. The most infamous men were raised to the first dignities of the State; every private vice and every public corruption was sure to find, with the Russian consul, and, consequently, with the Prince, open support and encouragement. On the other hand, honest men were suspected, and no persecution was spared them. Had one of them a lawsuit? He was certain to lose it. Would he rescue his peasants from the rapine of the farmers, and establish himself on his estates to cultivate them himself? Forthwith he was accused of fomenting troubles. Russia only did, after all, what Austria and Turkey have been doing for the last four years. One cannot be a Reschid, a Buol, an Aali-that is to say, a statesman of the first order— without understanding that, to reduce the Principalities to the condition of the Herzegovina or of Gallicia, to arrive at their incorporation, it does not do to reckon on the co-operation of honest men.

"The consequence which I deduce from all that precedes is, that the best laws are inefficacious when they are not applied; and that, applied by a hand that has been purchased, they become dangerous. So long as the Principalities shall be bound to a political regime forged by their enemies, it will be useless, and even ridiculous, to alter their internal laws. Messieurs les diplomates, restore the Roumans to the plenitude of their rights; restore to them their autonomy; let them give themselves a government which shall be neither Turkish, nor Russian, nor English, nor French, and, above all, not Austrian, but which shall be Rouman, and you will see that they know as well as you, if not better, how to apply a remedy to their ills."

It would lead us too far were we to enter upon the question of the union at anything like the length at which our author discusses it; we

can but place upon record two or three salient points of his argument. In reply to a common objection of the anti-unionists, he asks if Russia would find the Principalities an easier prey in the form of a compact well-organised State, containing 5,000,000 of free inhabitants, than in their present mal-administered, divided, and ruined condition. With respect to the rights of the Porte, the integrity of Turkey, which it has been alleged would be infringed by the union of the Provinces, he inquires whether the capitulations by which the two Principalities are linked to Turkey be still in force or not? If they be, the Sultan has no right to more than homage and tribute, which can be paid him as well by one State as by two small ones. If they be not, what title has Turkey to interfere at all with Moldavia and Wallachia? He strenuously denies that the Principalities, if fairly treated by Turkey, would in the least desire to cast off their allegiance to her. They perfectly understand,” he says, "that as long as there shall be a Russia and an Austria which covet them, they must remain attached to Turkey. To say the contrary, is to calumniate them. Have they not given abundant proofs of their fidelity to the Sultan? With out recalling the part played by Moldo-Wallachia in 1828, and its energetic resistance to Greek-Russian ideas, it cannot have been forgotten that, in 1854, when Omar Pasha entered Bucharest, addresses, in which the Wallachians asked to march against the Russians, were covered, in two days, with innumerable signatures, and were rejected by the Allies. During the campaign on the Danube, the Wallachian soldiers, whom their chief had basely delivered to the Russians, deserted by hundreds, and went over to the Turks. It is true that the latter, as generous enemies, contented themselves with disarming them, and sending them to their homes, where they were seized and shot by order of the Muscovite generals."

The suzeraineté of Turkey, this author observes, restored to its true nature, and circumscribed in the terms of the capitulation, will in no way impede the moral and material de

velopment of the Principalities. Why, then, should they seek to shake off a light yoke, when they have so long endured one that crushed them? The second point of the political programme voted by the divans was a foreign prince over the united Principalities. The chiefs of the national party have been accused of want of judgment in putting forward this pretension, which complicates the question of the union, and renders its solution doubly difficult.

"In the eyes of the powers that signed the treaty of Paris," said M. de Talleyrand in the presence of the author of the pamphlet, "the foreign prince is a graver matter than the union itself, and of a local affair you have made a European question." It appears, however, that the pressure of the masses, the public feeling on this point, was so strong, that the chiefs of the Unionist party had scarcely a choice but to yield. The whole country was unanimous. Even Bibesco and Stirbey, deputies to the Wallachian Divan, and who, it is well known, have their own private hopes for the future, dared not oppose the tide, and voted for the foreign prince. The feeling on the part of the masses had its origin in the abominable misgovernment of the native princes. The foreign prince, however, is not made a sine qua non, although those who best know the Principalities, believe that the appointment of a native would greatly impair the chances of stability of the new order of things.

"I will not conclude without adding, that the Principalities reckon, at this moment, more than twenty earnest pretenders to the supreme power, and that sixteen of these, at least, depend upon foreign governments, to which they have promised a large share of influence in the affairs of the country. To win the favour of the powers that dispose of the fate of Moldo-Wallachia, there is no guilty engagement that this throng of candidates has not beforehand taken. The most skilful are those who promise the same thing to two, and even to three different cabinets.

Would you know their titles to the productive honour they seek? These are, an ill-acquired fortune, a

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