The Rumanian peasant looks upon himself as the descendant of the patricians of Rome

The Hellenic element was strongly represented last century, when the government of the country was farmed out by the Sultan to Greek merchants of Constantinople. At the present time the Greeks are not numerous—not exceeding, perhaps, 10,000 souls, even if we include amongst them Hellenized Zinzares—but they occupy influential positions as managers of estates or merchants, and the export of corn is almost exclusively in their hands. Traces of the ancient government of these Phanariotes still exist in the language of the country, and in the relationships resulting from intermarriages between seignorial families. Far more numerous than these Greeks, and of greater importance, are the members of those homeless nations—the Jews and Tsigani (or gipsies). A few Spanish Jews are met with in the large towns, but the majority are "German" Jews, who have come hither from Poland, Little Russia, Galicia, and Hungary. As publicans and middlemen they come into close contact with the poor people, and they are universally detested, not on account of their religion, but because of the wonderful skill with which they manage to secure the savings of the people. Imaginary crimes of all kinds are attributed to them, and they have repeatedly been exposed to maltreatment on the frivolous charge of having eaten little children at their Passover. The Ruma­nians, however, can hardly manage without these detested Jews, and their laws, by preventing the Jews from acquiring land, fortify their commercial monopoly. The Jews, if certain estimates may be credited, constitute one-fifth of the total population of Moldavia. The Armenians, the other great commercial people of the Orient, are represented by a few flourishing colonies, more especially in Moldavia. These Haikanes are the descendants of immigrants who settled in the country at various epochs between the eleventh and seventeenth centuries. They live amongst themselves, and, though not exactly liked by the people, they have known how to avoid becoming objects of hatred. A few Armenians from Con­stantinople, and speaking Turkish, are met with on the Lower Danube.

The Tsigani, or gipsies, so despised formerly, become merged by degrees in the rest of the population. Not long ago they were slaves, the property of the State, of boyards, or monasteries. They led a wandering life—working, trafficking, or stealing for the benefit of their masters. They were divided into castes, the principal of which were the lingurari, or spoon-makers; ursari, or bear-leaders; ferrari, or smiths; aunari, or collectors of gold dust; and lautari, or musicians. These latter were the most polished of all, and were employed to celebrate the glory and the virtues of the boyards. They are now the minstrels of the country and the musicians of the town. Very few in number are the Netotzi, a degraded caste who live in woods or tents, subsist upon the foulest food, and do not bury their dead. The Tsigani were assimilated in 1837 with the peasantry, and since their emancipation nearly all of them lead a settled life, cultivating the soil with great care, or exercising some handicraft. The fusion between Tsigani and Rumanians is making rapid progress, for both races have the same religion and speak the same language.  Intermarriages between the two are frequent, and in a time not far off the Tsigani of Rumania will be a thing of the past. They are supposed still to number between 100,000 and 300,000 souls.

Approximate population of Rumania, 4,926,000 souls, of whom 3,090,000 were in Wallachia, 1,836,000 in Moldavia, and 221,000 in the Dobruja. There were 4,288,000 Rumanians, 127,000 Turks and Tartars, 70,000 Bulgarians, 15,000 Russians, 50,000 Magyars, 131,000 Tsigani (gipsies), 400,000 Jews, 9,000 Armenians, and 50,000 foreigners (30,000 Austrians, 15,000 Greeks, 5,000 Germans, 1,500 French).

The Rumanian nation is still in a state of transition from a feudal to a modern epoch. The revolution of 1848 shook the ancient system to its founda­tion, but did not destroy it. As recently as 1856 the peasants were attached to the soil. They had no rights, but were at the mercy of the boyards and monas­teries whose soil they were doomed to till, and lived in miserable hovels. The whole of the country and its inhabitants belonged to five or six thousand boyards, who were either the descendants of the ancient "braves," or had purchased their patents of nobility. Most of these boyards were only small proprietors, and nearly the whole of the land belonged to seventy feudatories in Wallachia, and three hundred in Moldavia.

This state of affairs led to the most frightful demoralisation amongst masters and serfs, and even the good qualities of the Rumanian—his energy, his gene­rosity, and friendliness—were turned into evil. The nobles lived far away from their estates, spending the income forwarded by their Greek bailiffs in debauchery and gambling. The peasants worked but little, for they had no share in the produce of the soil; they were mistrustful and full of deceit, as are all slaves; they were ignorant and superstitious, for they depended for their education upon illiterate and fanatical priests. Their popes were magicians, and cured maladies by incantations and holy philtres. As to the monks, some of them were rich proprietors, as rapacious as the temporal lords; others lived on alms, having exchanged a life of slavery for mendicity.