PRESENT ROUMANIAN LEADERS AND THEIR POLICY.
The King—Customs of the Court—The Queen—Her attainments—Extract from her poetry—Madame Rosetti—Her patriotism and adventures—M. Constantin A. Rosetti—His career and public services—M. Bratiano—Other leaders of public opinion—The party of progress—Their past foreign and domestic policy—Geographical boundaries—Panslavism and Panroumanism—The future policy of Roumania—Growth by pacific means—(Note: Comparative values of Russian, Turkish, and Roumanian securities)—Roumania and Great Britain—Conclusion.
We have passed in hasty and imperfect review those features in the national life of Roumania which we believed would be of interest to our readers, and will now endeavour to present to them sketches of a few of the persons of distinction who are forming public opinion, and are the leaders of progress in the country, premising, however, that there are many omissions, due partly to our own ignorance, and partly to the fact that the discussion of the merits and demerits of some of the public men would not have been fitting in this treatise.
By his rank and patriotism, and not least by his extensive knowledge, his Majesty King Charles is entitled to our first consideration. Of his political career we have spoken in our historical summary, and little more need be added. He was born on April 20, 1839, and is therefore about forty-three years of age. On November 15, 1869, he married Pauline Elisabeth, Princess of Wied, who was then about twenty-six years old; but, unfortunately, the sole offspring of their union, a little girl, lies interred in the grounds of the Asyle Hélène. The King is a handsome man, rather above the average height, and, so far as his regularly formed features are concerned, he might belong to any nationality of Western Europe. He usually wears a somewhat severe expression, but the moment he begins to converse this at once disappears. His manner is quiet and earnest, although he often warms into enthusiasm, and he has the happy faculty of placing all with whom he comes into contact at perfect ease. He possesses a wide range of information, and speaks with evident knowledge on all matters of interest to his subjects or to civilisation. Of course he is well acquainted with his adopted country and its resources, takes a lively interest in its trade and capabilities; and so far as the geographical configuration of Roumania is concerned, he not only knows all about the level country, but has either ridden or walked through every part of the Carpathians. His scientific knowledge is such as one might expect in an educated German, and is chiefly of a practical kind. He is deeply interested in arboriculture, about which he knows more than many who are entrusted with the care and fate of the vast woods that clothe the mountain districts, and he has often pointed out to such persons errors in their mode of felling timber. In private life the King is hospitable, genial, and very regular in his habits; he is a devout Catholic, but a constant attendant upon the services of the Greek Church.
But of course our interest in him is necessarily rather of a public than of a private character. Is he constitutional? or is Europe likely some day to be favoured with a Roumanian coup d'état? The answer to these questions is clear and emphatic. Although a Hohenzollern, he is a Constitutional Liberal, we should say of an advanced type. We spoke before of his misunderstandings with his ministers; but even those who were originally opposed to him, and who watched his every act with suspicion, state that he has managed with great tact to steer clear of unconstitutional courses; indeed, from their own admissions and the facts of history, it is clear that he must have served a very trying apprenticeship in the art of constitutional rule. His demeanour towards his subjects and that of his queen, of whom we shall speak presently, is everything that can be desired, and both are winning their affections more completely year by year.
When the court is at Bucarest a great portion of the king's time is devoted to giving audiences, not only to officials, but to all who desire to know their sovereign, and even to seek his counsel or that of his amiable consort. Two books are kept at the palace, one for callers only, and the other for persons who desire to see and speak with the king or queen, for they give audiences apart. Those who enter their names in the second book must give notice to the 'Hofmarschall,' and they are then sent for in turn, and punctuality above all things is insisted upon. The king gives audiences from 1 to 3 or 4 p.m.; the queen for a longer time, and young as she is, for she has not yet attained her fortieth year, she is regarded as the mother of her people, and many there are who come to her for advice or consolation. But we are digressing. If the king interests himself in the civil affairs of Roumania, he is a soldier before everything else. The virtual as well as the nominal head of the army, he always wears uniform, and nothing is too unimportant for his consideration in the organisation of his army. Those who have been in the field with him and much about his person extol his coolness, bravery, and endurance. He has often risked his life in battle, was always to the fore visiting outposts and bivouacs in the most inclement weather, and there can be no doubt that it is to his bravery as a general, and to his tact and patience as a statesman, that Roumania is largely indebted for her independence and her promise in the future.