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Roumania Past and Present   By: (1829-)

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[Illustration: THE CATHEDRAL OF CURTEA D'ARDGES.]

ROUMANIA PAST AND PRESENT

BY

JAMES SAMUELSON

Of the Middle Temple, Barrister at Law

ILLUSTRATED WITH MAPS (BY E. WELLER), PORTRAITS, AUTOTYPE AND OTHER FULL PAGE PLATES, AND NUMEROUS PLANS AND WOODCUTS (BY G. PEARSON), CHIEFLY FROM PHOTOGRAPHS BY F. DUSCHEK, BUCAREST

Post Tenebras Lux

LONDON LONGMANS, GREEN, AND CO. 1882

All rights reserved

PREFACE.

There is no country in Europe which at the present time possesses greater interest for Englishmen than does the Kingdom of Roumania, and there is none with whose present state and past history, nay, with whose very geographical position, they are less familiar.

Only about nine years since Consul General Green, the British representative there, reported to his Government as follows: 'Ignorance seems to extend even to the geographical position of Bucharest. It is not surprising that letters directed to the Roumanian capital should sometimes travel to India in search of Bokhara, but there can be no excuse for the issue of a writ of summons by one of the superior law courts of the British metropolis, directed to Bucharest in the Kingdom of Egypt, as I have known to happen.' The reader may perhaps attribute such mistakes as these to our insular ignorance of geography, or to the fact that the proverbial blindness of justice prevented her from consulting the map before issuing her process; but the fact remains, that notwithstanding the occurrence of a great war subsequent to the date above specified, which completely changed the map of Europe, wherein Roumania took a very prominent part and England assisted at the settlement, there are few intelligent readers in this country who could say off hand where precisely Roumania is situated.

And yet, as already remarked, the country possesses an absorbing interest for us as a nation. Placed, to a large extent through English instrumentality, as an independent kingdom, of daily increasing influence, between Russia and Turkey, for whom she served for centuries as a bone of contention, she is now a formidable barrier against the aggressions of the stronger power upon her weaker neighbour, and it is satisfactory to reflect that, so far, the blood and money of England have not flowed in vain. Then, again, the question of the free navigation of the great stream that serves as her southern boundary is at present occupying the serious consideration of many leading European statesmen, and the solution of the Danubian difficulty will materially affect our trade with the whole of Eastern Europe; whilst the peaceable creation of a peasant proprietary in Roumania about sixteen years since, and the advantages which have accrued to her from this social and political reform, present features of peculiar interest for those who favour the establishment of a similar class of landholders in Ireland.

In treating of these two questions, I have laboured under the great disadvantage of not being able to follow current events. It is understood that the Danubian difficulty will be settled on the plan, referred to in the text, suggested by Austria for her own advantage, with certain modifications, having for their object the limitation of her preponderance. My readers will be able to judge for themselves, after reading the brief review of the question, and the references to our own commercial relations with the countries bordering on the Danube in the third and fifth chapters, whether such a settlement is likely to be final. For myself I cannot believe that any solution will be permanently satisfactory which interferes with the jurisdiction of Roumania in her own waters.

As to the land question, it calls up some awkward reflections when its history is contrasted with recent and passing events in Ireland. So long as the conquerors in Roumania endeavoured to solve the problem, their efforts were unavailing... Continue reading book >>




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