Tramways in Bucarest—Other efforts at improvement—Galatz—Its position on the Danube—Quays, streets, buildings, &c.—Importance as a seaport—Languages requisite for trading there—Almost entire absence of English firms—Reports of the Consul-General, Mr. Percy Sanderson—The quality of British manufactures—(Note: The author's experience)—Causes of preference for foreign over British manufactures—Commercial treaties—Austrian pressure to the detriment of Great Britain—Statistics of our import and export trade with Roumania—Infancy of her manufacturing industries—Difficulties hitherto existing—War and uncertainty of investments—The new port of Constanta (Kustendjie)—Other Roumanian towns—Jassy—Its position and institutions—(Note: Conflicting estimates of its population)—Ibrail, Craiova, Ploiesti, &c.

If many of the streets of Bucarest are badly paved and the city imperfectly sewered, it is at least striving hard to keep pace with other European towns in regard to modern conveniences. Its main streets are well lighted with gas, and it boasts a good line of tramways round and through various parts of the city. But when we come to consider what is now the second town of importance in Roumania, Galatz, we have to step back a few decades before we can realise its condition. It is situated on the left bank of the Danube about ninety miles from the Sulina mouth, and to the east of it is Lake Bratish, which is only separated from the great river by a strip of marshy land. On the whole it is more regularly built than Bucarest, and for about a mile along the river's bank the business portion extends, with its quays for ships discharging, ships loading, foreign agencies, timber yards, and railway loading and discharging berths. In the town itself there is nothing of interest to strangers. The streets are in a condition alternating between mud over your knees and dust over your ankles, imperfectly if at all drained, and lighted with oil lamps, of which one in every three is usually put into requisition. There are some good-sized public buildings, including the Prefecture, some hospitals, two of which, one called St. Spiridion, and another built during the Russo-Turkish war, were a great boon to the wounded of all the armies. There is also a cathedral, such as it is, and several Greek churches, one of which is said to contain the remains of Mazeppa; a synagogue or two, and a few other places of worship. Then there is a 'park' and a garden, and altogether Galatz resembles Bucarest on a small scale, and without its improvements. The chief boast of the place seems to be a constant water-supply, which is, however, so regulated that whilst one householder is watering his garden his neighbour cannot perform the same operation, but must wait patiently until he has finished; and finally there are, as a matter of course, a good many brick houses, some of one story and some of two, in which dwell a very kindly and hospitable set of inmates.

The importance of Galatz as a seaport is, however, quite another matter. Although this country transacts a very considerable trade with it, there are very few English houses or agencies there, the chief business being carried on by German, Italian, Greek, and French firms; and not only those languages, but also Turkish and Bulgarian, are requisite for trading purposes.

The chief commodities exported to England are, as already stated, maize and barley, and the chief importations from this country are cotton yarn, cottons, woollens, machinery, hardware, cutlery, dry stuffs, spices, tea and sugar, but besides those there is hardly an article used by a civilised community which is not supplied to Roumania from this country. In two admirable reports published in 1877 and 1878, our Consul-General in Roumania, Mr. Percy Sanderson, has reviewed the trade between the two nations, and he gives some rather significant hints to 'fair traders,' that is to say not in the refined sense in which the term has been recently employed, but in its good old-fashioned signification of honest dealers. 'It cannot be said,' he remarks, 'that the bulk of the goods imported from Great Britain forms by any means a fair sample of its produce and manufactures,' and 'there is already a tendency amongst the well-to-do classes to purchase French or Austrian manufactures when they are prepared to pay a high price for a really good article, although the same goods might possibly be furnished them from Great Britain at a lower rate.' But Consul Sanderson gives another reason for the preference shown for foreign as distinguished from English manufactures. It is that the local trade is chiefly carried on by natives of those countries from which the articles preferred are imported, 'whilst there is not a single shop in Galatz kept by an Englishman—it seems doubtful whether there be one in the whole of Roumania.' And there is still a third reason, to which he only refers incidentally, but we question whether it is not the most cogent of all. Whilst continental states, and especially Austria, have shown little delicacy in exacting favourable treaties of commerce from the Roumanian Government, England has been at a disadvantage in that respect. We may be told that we are placed on the most favoured nation footing, but we were informed at Bucarest by persons occupying high positions, and whose statements may be trusted implicitly, that, although this is apparently and nominally the case, it is not so in reality, as the commercial treaties have been initiated by Austria, and so framed as to give a preference to her manufactures.

Notwithstanding these drawbacks, however, our exports to Roumania are on the whole increasing, as witness the following statistics (Board of Trade, 1881), although there has been a slight falling off in cotton stuffs on which the tariff is high, and in manufactured iron.

Total Exports from Great Britain to Roumania.

  1878. 1879. 1880.
British manufactures £887,488 £997,078 £1,112,761
Foreign and colonial produce and manufactures 112,987 100,354 86,501
Total £1,000,475 £1,097,432 £1,199,262

Total Imports into Great Britain from Roumania.

  1878. 1879. 1880.
Maize £587,635 £805,788 £558,745
Barley 316,402 462,622 796,808
Other produce 66,518 104,592 106,283
Total £970,555 £1,373,002 £1,461,836

The manufacturing industries of Roumania generally are hardly in their infancy, but at Galatz are to be found a wood factory and sawmills of a very superior order, owned by Messrs. P. Goetz & Co. They are lighted with the electric light, and are doing a large and increasing export trade; indeed last year (1881), as we are informed, a cargo of deals &c. was shipped from this factory to the Panama Canal Works. There is a very large flour mill, and also the 'Galatz Soap and Candle Company;' but this last has not proved a success, inasmuch as the raw products, including stearine (which is found in Roumania as ozokerit), are all imported at a cost which interferes with their profitable employment. Whilst we are dealing with the question of manufactures, we may mention that besides the petroleum refineries referred to in a former chapter, there are in Roumania sugar factories at Chitilla and Jassy, match factories in Bucarest and Jassy, and one cloth factory. Steam mills for grinding flour abound, and there are water mills for assisting in the preparation of flannel.

This seems a small beginning, but there is much hope in the future. The same causes that militated against the prosperity of Roumania in other respects have rendered the prosecution of national industries an absolute impossibility. Wilkinson referred at considerable length to this matter sixty years since. Who would have ventured to invest capital in mills and factories which were liable to be burned or plundered by Turks or Russians for strategical or other warlike purposes, or would be taxed beyond endurance by a suzerain master for the maintenance of his Constantinople harem and of his needy officials? The soil indeed could not be carried off, or there would not have been even an agricultural industry. But the time is not far distant when the advantages of Roumania as a manufacturing country will become apparent, and when her native products, coupled with her proximity to the Danube and Black Sea, will enable her to compete successfully with other nations, especially with those near neighbours from whom she is at present compelled to draw her supplies of manufactured commodities.

Her statesmen already recognise these facts, and they are taking steps accordingly. A new seaport is in course of formation at Constanta (Kustendjie), which will be connected with Bucarest and the whole of Roumania through the existing line to Cernavoda, and one in progress to Bucarest. Besides being useful as a defensive maritime station, this new port will give an impetus to trade, which will be further stimulated by the establishment of entrepôts, hitherto confined to the seaports, at Bucarest and elsewhere.

But we have devoted sufficient space to Galatz and the nascent commercial and manufacturing industries of the country, and before treating of what is by far the most important source of her wealth, namely, her agricultural resources, we must say a word or two about the old Moldavian capital, Jassy. This is picturesquely situated at an altitude of more than 1,000 feet above the sea-level, on the railway from Pascani (Galatz-Cernowitz) to Kischeneff in Russia. The number of its inhabitants is uncertain, probably about 75,000, and includes a very large proportion of Jews, who monopolise the trade and banking business of the place. It stands upon three eminences, and its principal streets have been paved by contract with a London firm at a cost of 200,000£. It is lighted with petroleum lamps, and is badly drained and sewered, but possesses some important buildings, and contains many fine residences belonging to the landed gentry. Besides a university where there are some men of considerable attainments, it has a museum, school of art, various secondary educational establishments, and law courts, including a court of appeal. A noteworthy circumstance connected with the inhabitants of Jassy, and which applies equally to the whole of Roumania, is that the death-rate is persistently lower and the birth-rate higher amongst the Jews than the Christians, and in fact there have been periods when the Jewish population was increasing whilst the remainder was at a standstill. When Jassy ceased to be the capital of Moldavia, it claimed and was awarded compensation by the legislature; but, according to the authority just quoted, 'no payment has ever been or appears likely to be made.'

Next in importance to Galatz as a port is Ibrail, or Braila, also near the mouth of the Danube; indeed, according to Consul Sanderson, the exports of the latter exceed those of the former, whilst Galatz imports much more largely owing to its nearer proximity to the embouchure and to the fact that the steamers first touch there. The same writer believes it probable that some day Ibrail will be a more considerable port than Galatz, but both are likely to be interfered with by the new port of Constanta. The other large towns, Craiova, the former capital of Little Wallachia; Ploiesti, a considerable town, with many picturesque churches, on the line from Bucarest to Kronstadt, and the junction from whence the railway branches off to Galatz, &c.; Tirgovistea, a former capital of Wallachia, not situated on the railway; Pitesti, &c., are all interesting in their way, but not sufficiently so to detain us, and we must now direct our attention to other phases of Roumanian progress.