The chief cities of Roumania—The capital, Bucarest—Ignorance concerning it—Conflicting accounts—Its true character—The 'sweet waters of the Dambovitza'—Dimensions of Bucarest—External aspect—The Chaussée, the ladies' mile of Bucarest—Streets, shops, and houses—The Academy—Its collections—Coins—Dacian, Roman, and other antiquities—Excellent physical laboratory—Professor Bacologlu—The Coltza laboratory—Dr. Bernath—The Cismegiu Garden—Shabby courts of justice—Other buildings—Churches—Railway stations—Fine hospitals—Dr. Davila—The Colentina Hospital—The 'police des mœurs' and the morality of Bucarest—The 'Philanthropic' Hospital—The 'Coltza'—Its museums—Life in Bucarest—Hotels—The upper classes—Places of amusement—Cost of land and houses for different classes—Wages of artisans; of gipsies—Habits of the working-classes—Cost of living, food, clothing, &c.—Native costumes made by the peasantry—Their beauty and variety—The poorest class—Mamaliga—The gipsies—Their origin and history—Their slavery—Wilkinson's account of them in his day—Their emancipation and present condition—Laoutari or musicians—Their other occupations—Their religion—Fusion with the native Roumanians—Striking contrast between gipsies and natives—Lipovans—Roumanian love of bright colours—Pictorial advertisements—Amusing signboards—Absence of intellectual entertainments and occupations—Want of exchange and market buildings—Great advances since 1857—Edgar Quinet's account of Roumania in his day—'The Roumanian Company for erecting Public Edifices'—Funerals—Octroi duties—Their onerous character—A few words on the Jews—Bitter journalistic attacks upon them—Curtea d'Ardges—Its beautiful cathedral—The exterior—Fine tracery and ornaments—The interior—Legendary history—Negru Voda and Manole—Poem of Manole—Entombs his wife alive in the foundation—His fate—True history—Neagu Bassarab, its founder—John Radul—Quaint and interesting tablets concerning its history down to 1804—Subsequent history and present condition—(Note: Brief history of Christianity in Roumania—Atheism and indifference to religion).


The chief cities or towns in Roumania are Bucarest, the capital, in the district of Ilfovǔ; Jassy or Iasi, the old capital of Moldavia, in that of the same name; Galatz or Galati, in Covurluiǔ; Curtea d'Ardges, in the district of that name; Braila or Ibrail, Craiova, Botosani, Ploiestĭ, and Pitesti. We have not named them exactly in the order of their size, as it is our intention to give some details of the first four only.

1. Filaret Railway Station. 9. Post and Telegraph Offices.
2. Tirgovistea Railway Station. 10. Church, Radu Voda.
3. Metropolitan Cathedral. 11. Ministry of Finance.
4. Palace. 12. Summer Palace (Cotroceni).
5. National Theatre. 13. Asyle Hélène.
6. Council of Ministers. 14. Coltza Hospital.
7. Academy. 15. Colentina Hospital.
8. British Embassy. 16. Bank of Roumania.

Of the capital, Bucarest, the reader will here find a general plan, in case he should at any time visit the city. To give any lengthened account of it, however, would be a mistake; for such a description would certainly be inaccurate a few years hence, as the city is undergoing great change and improvement from day to day. Still it is the heart of Roumania, the centre from which all progress emanates; and whilst we shall refer to some of its more valuable institutions when we come to deal with national and social questions of general importance, we propose to dwell upon it for a brief space.

Some of the questions that are asked concerning Bucarest, even by persons who believe themselves well-informed, are highly amusing. One friend, who is really a well-read man, asked us shortly after our visit whether it was not a great continuous 'Mabille,' and he looked very incredulous when we told him that, although we had walked through and through it, and had carefully looked at all the posters announcing amusements in various places, we had no recollection of seeing a dancing-garden amongst them, and that we believed none existed. Another friend, a highly educated professional man, was not quite sure whether Bucarest was north or south of the Danube; but it was a place, he knew, where the chief occupation was gambling. There may be some little truth in the latter statement, but gaming-tables are forbidden, and he need not go so far from home as that to see the law evaded.

But it is no wonder that strangers are puzzled to form a correct conception of Bucarest, and their perplexity is not likely to be relieved if they read the descriptions that have been given of the city and its inhabitants from time to time. Some writers have described it as an assemblage of dilapidated houses standing in unpaved streets. Its upper classes are represented as very polite depraved ladies and gentlemen, including a large proportion of the former who have been divorced three or four times, and are in the habit of entertaining simultaneously all their ci-devant husbands in the presence and with the sanction of the 'man in possession.' The lower classes comprise half-naked gipsies of both sexes, with a considerable sprinkling of priests or 'popes,' eating bread and onions or mamaliga (the maize pudding of the masses), or lounging on the doorsteps of the houses, or sauntering along the unpaved streets in charge of a lean pig. According to such writers the chief occupation of the Bucarester is getting divorced or being buried in state. Then there is the romantic school of authors who represent it as a city of palaces standing in their own grounds, with numerous beautiful Byzantine churches, pleasure-gardens in which plays are performed, or where the Laoutari or minstrels (gipsy bands) play wild and stirring music all day long. There are charming Roumanian belles, with flashing eyes and the sweetest of voices; dark-eyed gipsies, chaste as Diana and as fleet of foot; grave boyards, stately Turks (of whom, by the way, we never saw one whilst we were on Roumanian ground, although there were plenty, very much married indeed, on the Danube steamers); reverend abbots, with long black robes and flowing white beards; and nuns in unique costumes of dark cloth, with caps and hoods resembling a crusader's helmet. The truth, as usual, lies between these two opposite extremes.

Bucarest, or Bucuresci, 'the city of joy,' as it is called by the Roumanians, is a large, irregular, straggling city of about 175,000 inhabitants, situated on a dirty little stream called the Dambovitza (as already stated, a tributary of the Ardges), concerning which some very famous verses have been written, proclaiming its waters to be so sweet that any one who drinks of them never desires to leave Bucarest. What its retentive properties may have been in former times we are not able to say, but we can quite imagine any person who ventures to drink of the water being incapable of leaving the city for ever afterwards. However, the prosaic authorities are not greatly impressed by their national poetry in this instance. The river is being 'canalised,' or confined within stone embankments, and there is a plentiful supply of apa dulçe from another source, which exercises no controlling influence whatever upon the movements of the drinker. The greatest length of the city as the crow flies is about 3-1/10 miles, and its greatest breadth somewhat less, but many of the outlying parts resemble country roads rather than streets. Viewed from a distance, or from the hill upon which the metropolitan church stands, it has a most picturesque appearance, consisting of a vast number of churches, chiefly Byzantine, only a few of which are visible in our photograph, and many good-sized buildings. But what gives a peculiar charm to the city is that all these buildings appear to be placed in one vast garden, for there is hardly a single one without some trees in its immediate vicinity, and many of the larger houses really stand in gardens of considerable extent. This, too, is the cause of the city covering so large a space in proportion to the number of its inhabitants. It is built with perplexing irregularity, as will be seen even from our superficial plan, where only the main streets are given; but the intermediate spaces are filled with narrow, crooked, and ill-paved streets and lanes, their most disagreeable feature being that, in consequence of the soft yielding nature of the subsoil, the pavement gives way, and soon becomes inconveniently undulating. There are, however, several broad well-paved streets, the chief being the Podu Mogosoi, as it is still called, although after the fall of Plevna it received the more dignified appellation of the Strada Victoriei; it runs through the centre of the city from an incipient boulevard—which promises one of these days to metamorphose the whole place—to a park or garden of considerable extent, where it is further continued through an alley of trees known as the Chaussée. This is the favourite drive of the Bucaresters, and at stated hours a rapid succession of vehicles pours out from various parts of the city to see and to be seen. These birjas, as the little open carriages (resembling a small calèche) are called, contain the moat motley assemblage of sight-seers—ambassadors, state officials, and well-to-do citizens of both sexes in European dress; ladies of more humble rank in the national costume; gipsies and poor workmen and women, who, one might imagine, would be better on foot, half-clad, and very considerably unwashed. In or about the Strada Victoriei are many of the principal buildings—the national theatre, the King's palace (a very modest structure at present undergoing improvements), the Ministry of Finance, and some fine hotels. The shops, which are mostly kept by Germans and French-men, are of a fair kind, though not equal to those of Vienna, Paris, or indeed of many smaller continental capitals. The houses here, and everywhere in Bucarest, are built of brick, plastered white, and often very tastefully decorated externally with figures or foliage in terra cotta; but it is the cracking and falling off of this external coating, which occurs more readily in a place subject to great changes of temperature than in more equable temperate climes, that imparts to Bucarest the dilapidated appearance so often referred to by writers. This blemish is, however, likely soon to disappear; for the rise of a wealthy middle and trading class, and the general increase of prosperity, will lead to the substitution of stone buildings for what can only be regarded as temporary structures.

Besides the 'Victoriei,' there are several other very good streets, one of which is the Lipscanii, which derives its name from the Leipzig traders who formerly lived there, and it is still only a shop street. There are some small squares with central gardens, but the finest thoroughfare promises to be the Boulevard, which it is intended to carry round the city by connecting it with the wider roads. On this boulevard stands the Academy, a large classical building with a fine façade of columns; and in a square opposite is the bronze equestrian statue of Michael the Brave, engraved in the second part of this treatise.


The Academy is the centre of intellectual life in Bucarest. Temporarily the Senate meets there, but it also harbours many other institutions. First there is the National Library, with a collection of 30,000 volumes, most ably managed by M. Tocilesco, who is at the same time a well-known author, and professor of ancient history at the University. Through his acquaintance with the literature of most European nations, his own historical and ethnological attainments, and his readiness to put these as well as the treasures of the library at the disposal of strangers, this gentleman cannot fail to raise his country in the estimation of those who pay it a visit. He is also the curator of the fine Archæological Museum in the same building, which is very valuable to historians. It contains a complete series of Roumanian coins presented to the Academy by M. Stourdza; many Dacian, Roman, Greek, Egyptian, and Syrian relics; along with a smaller collection from the bronze, stone, and iron ages. Some of the Daco-Roman monuments and sarcophagi, found near the Oltu, have a special historical interest, and many of the more valuable objects, such as arms and ornaments of gold, bear runic inscriptions. Coming down to a later period, there are Albanian arms and costumes, mediæval vestments and ornaments of the clergy, a magnificent carved oak screen of the seventeenth century, probably one of the finest in existence, and numerous other objects of interest to the antiquary.

The natural history collection is poor, although local types are well represented; the gallery of paintings is small and good, the subjects being chiefly historical, with the addition of portraits of Heliade and other national heroes. The classes of the University meet here, but, with one exception, the appliances for higher scientific education are very inferior. That exception is the physical laboratory, which would reflect credit upon any public institution. It is contained in three or four large rooms, and comprises every modern physical appliance carefully protected from injury. Most of the instruments, which are of the first order, are made by Secretau of Paris, and a small engine and a Siemens-Halske magneto-electric machine were in course of erection during our visit. The selection of instruments and the order which pervades the whole bear practical testimony to the accomplishments of Professor M. Emanuel Bacologlu, of whose teaching power and wide-spread knowledge we heard nothing but praise on every side. The chemical laboratory is nothing more than a popular lecture hall, poor and disorderly in its arrangements, and quite unworthy of a national institution. On the other hand there is a small but perfect chemical laboratory in the Coltza Hospital close by, where the lecturers, Dr. Davila and his able assistant Dr. Bernath, give excellent instruction to the young medical students of the city. This is, however, far too small for its object, and we hope that the 'era of peace,' referred to in the speech from the throne last year, will enable the State to give greater efficiency to the instruction and appliances of the city. In any case, there is one practicable means of attaining this end which wilt be pointed out when we come to speak of the general education of the people.


Under the same roof the geographical and other learned societies meet. But we have said enough of this building, and must now pass on to a few more prominent edifices in the city. Besides the Chaussée and its surroundings, there is another large park or pleasure-garden in the centre of the city, called the Cismegiu, which contains ornamental waters, flower-beds, and fine alleys of trees, and is a favourite resort of the humbler classes. In the immediate vicinity of this garden stand the Courts of Justice, and the greatest service we can render to the people of Bucarest is to advise visitors to give them a wide berth, or at least to content themselves with a look at the exterior. The interior of some portions at least vies, in filth and disorder, with the meanest of our police courts. The Government buildings are of a much higher order, and that of the Ministerial Council is very spacious and well furnished. None of the numerous churches of Bucarest are really fine, excepting in their external appearance, which is often very picturesque. They are all built of brick and plastered, many roofed with metal, and the paintings in them are very inferior, however interesting some of them may be historically. The finest is the cathedral, or metropolitan church, which stands upon a commanding eminence not far from the boulevard, and beside it are two poor buildings, in one of which the metropolitan resides, whilst in the other the Chamber of Deputies meets. The church is comparatively recent, having been erected in 1656 and restored in 1859.

Bucarest has two railway stations, both situated at some distance from the centre of the city. One is the terminus of the railway from Giurgevo, situated on the Danube about two hours' ride distant; the other of the lines to Verciorova, Pesth, and Vienna, westward; Predeal and Kronstadt, Transylvania, to the north; and Galatz, Jassy, and Odessa to the north-east and east. Passengers going to Constantinople travel by rail to Giurgevo, where they cross the Danube to Rustchuk, and thence proceed again by rail through Bulgaria to Varna, and on by steamer to Constantinople; but a line is in progress from Bucarest which will take them to the Black Sea through the Dobrudscha, namely, from Cernavoda to Constanta (Kustendjie), thence to the capital of Turkey by steamer.

Returning once more to the consideration of the public buildings, we have to refer to the hospitals, which are admirably managed by the 'Eforia Spitalelor,' the hospital board, as we should call it, and by its Director-General, Dr. Davila, whose work one encounters continually in Bucarest. There are seven hospitals or infirmaries, of which three at least are well worth a visit. The Colentina hospital makes up 200 beds, 130 for women and 70 for men. The wards are roomy, well ventilated and warmed, and the beds and bedding clean and comfortable. (The same cannot, however, be said of certain other arrangements.) There are ten women nurses, and we heard complaints of a want of volunteers there and elsewhere, which detracts from the humanitarian character of the work. To the hospital a dispensary is attached, where from January 1 to September 8 last year, 10,791 persons had been relieved. A very repulsive feature in this hospital is the ward containing forty or fifty unfortunate women under the surveillance of the so-called 'Police des Mœurs,' who are very solicitous about the health of a few of these miserable creatures that live in a wretched lane in the city, whilst they allow the traffic to be carried on in some places as openly as it is in the Strand or Haymarket. Another hospital, which to the uninitiated is far more attractive than the Colentina, is the Philanthropic, a beautiful building of recent construction, containing wide passages and very fine wards, and admirably fitted up with baths and all modern conveniences. The third is situated close to the academy, and is called the Coltza hospital. This was originally a monastery, at the entrance of which a statue, already referred to, has been erected to Michael Cantacuzene, the founder, and it is said to have been converted into a hospital in 1715.

This may be called the students' hospital, for here is not only the little chemical laboratory of Dr. Bernath, but also dissecting rooms, amphitheatre, and anatomical museum. Of the latter, indeed, there are several, osteological, physiological, &c., and they reflect great credit upon the gentlemen who have formed them under almost insuperable difficulties. There are several other important buildings in or near Bucarest. Two of these, the Agricultural College and the Asyle Helene in the outskirts, will receive a special description hereafter; but in the city itself there are, besides those already named, the National Bank, some of the monasteries devoted to philanthropic purposes, and three or four hotels, where travellers may live with great comfort and luxury at an extravagant cost.


Whilst we are speaking on this subject it may not be uninteresting to add a few words on the mode and cost of living generally. The upper classes, and such middle classes as exist, are remarkably hospitable and social; they live in great comfort, and some of them in luxury, which we fear is not always warranted by their revenues. The style of living is Franco-German, in fact pretty much the same as in St. Petersburg. Many people dine regularly at the large hotels, especially in those which have open-air conveniences for that purpose during the summer months. The theatres are well frequented, and in summer the favourite resort is an open-air theatre of varieties near the St. George's Garden, where native as well as French plays are performed, and where the songs of 'Erin and Albion,' sung by natives of these shores, are well appreciated. Here may be seen grave diplomats sitting side by side with the bourgeoisie, and the only objectionable feature is the doubtful character of certain of the plays, which resemble some that are from time to time performed at our English theatres; both have a common origin, and would be better left in the place of their conception, that boasted centre of civilisation, Paris.

Whilst the upper and middle classes in Bucarest live in the style of many large continental cities, and often in great luxury, the poorer population are by no means so badly circumstanced as some writers have represented. A great many of the higher class of artisans occupy their own houses. Land is comparatively cheap, and a workman may procure a cottage with a couple of parlours, a small kitchen, and a little garden, for about 3,000 francs, or 125£. The cost of a residence in the best part of the city where land is comparatively dear, with six rooms, stable, and garden, averages 80,000 francs, or 3,200£., land varying in value in the city from two to twelve francs per square yard.

Much of the rougher work is done by gipsies, but the better class of Roumanian artisans, such as carpenters, joiners, painters, tin workers (who cover the roofs of buildings), receive from five to seven francs per day, working from sunrise to sunset, with two hours for meals, or on an average twelve hours per day. Italians and Germans, of whom many are employed, receive one or two francs more than natives, whilst engineers and fitters are paid eight to ten francs per day. A great deal of time is lost in Roumania through feasts and holidays, of which there are, including Sundays, over a hundred in the year. During this time not only is there no production, but time spent in idleness leads to the same demoralising waste there as elsewhere. The working classes are seen hanging about wine-shops, as they congregate about public-houses here; and, although it is a very rare thing to see people drunk in the streets, many are heavy drinkers, consuming large quantities of rachin (grain-spirit) and sour wine.

The cost of living is moderate. Dark bread varies from 1d. to 1-1/2d. per lb., white from 1-1/2d. to 2d., almost as dear, therefore, as with us. Roumania is essentially a stock breeding country, and whilst butcher's meat varies from 4d. to 5d., mutton costs 3d. to 3-1/2d. per lb. Common wine is 3d. to 4d. per pint; fruits of all kinds are very cheap, and afford an article of luxury to almost every class of the population. Tobacco is dear, owing to the monopoly. We believe there was an attempted revolution over the tobacco question in 1805, which, had to be put down by military force. All kinds of clothing for the poorer classes are imported, and a suit of best clothes costs about thirty francs, a pair of boots eleven to twelve francs. This does not, however, apply to the country. There the women, besides doing field work and managing the household, make all the clothes, the men's as well as their own; and by that is meant that they spin, weave, and make up the garments. The custom, already referred to, of wearing the national costume by ladies in the country and on state occasions in Bucarest, gives very lucrative employment to the native women, and such costumes are exposed for sale in the shops of the capital at prices varying from 6l. or 7l. to anything the wearer likes to pay. Many of these costumes testify to the exquisite taste of the females by whom they are made; for the combination of silk, wool, and thread, and the beautiful lace-work, the effect of which is heightened by diminutive spangles of gilt and silver, cannot fail to challenge admiration. These costumes are, however, better adapted for young girls than for ladies of a maturer age.

Not only the women, but the men also, wear much livelier descriptions of dress than we are accustomed to in the west of Europe; and whilst the frilled unmentionables of some of them would excite ridicule amongst our hardy operatives, the brocaded vests of others would perhaps be regarded by them with envy.

The preceding remarks concerning the working classes do not, however, apply to common labourers. These are chiefly gipsies, hundreds of whom, men, women, and children, may be seen carrying bricks and mortar, and performing every kind of drudgery, for which they receive about one or two francs per day. If they are engaged upon the erection of a building, they work, cook, and sleep in it; otherwise they find shelter where they are able. They are frequently half-naked, the children sometimes completely so; and their chief, if not their only food, which they eat in common with all the poorest classes, is mamaliga, or maize-meal boiled and flavoured with a little salt. This is sold at about 2d. for 3 lbs., but its price depends upon the maize crop.


As to the gipsies themselves, concerning whom our readers will no doubt have heard a great deal in connection with this country, they formed, until recently, a nation within a nation, and even now they speak a language of their own, and to some extent stand aloof from the remaining population. They are the same people variously named Bohemians by the French, Zigenner by the Germans, Gitanos in Spain, Tschinghenneh by the Turks, and Tsigani by the Roumanians, who look upon them pretty much as the white man regards the negro, between whose nature and that of the Roumanian gipsy there is much that is analogous. That they are of Hindoo origin few doubt, for their language has great affinity to the Sanscrit; and when they first entered Roumania, probably early in the fifteenth century, they were simply a race of wandering barbarians, a later arrival, who were soon enslaved by the boyards. Many of them followed the occupation of gold-washers in the Carpathians, and part if not all the product of their labour fell to the portion of the wives of the Voivodes; indeed, according to some writers, a considerable number were slaves, whom the princess or her officials did not hesitate to sell, maltreat, or even put to death with impunity.

Wilkinson has given us anything but a flattering description of them in his day (1820). The Principalities, he says, contained about 150,000 of them, and 'they make a more profitable use of them than other countries do by keeping them in a state of regular slavery.' They were able to undergo constant exposure to the rigours of the weather, and were fit for any labour or fatigue, but their natural indolence caused them to prefer all the miseries of indigence to the enjoyment of comforts that are to be reaped from industry. They were thieves from choice, but 'not with a view of enriching themselves, and their thefts never extend beyond trifles.' The women were well-shaped before they began to have children; both sexes slovenly and dirty in the extreme. An account of their habits in the coarse language of the historian would be unfit for our readers' perusal. There was no regular traffic in them, 'both purchases and sales being conducted in private, and the usual price for one of either sex was from five to six hundred piastres.' He says the Government owned 80,000, consequently more than one-half of them, and they were 'suffered to stroll about the country, provided they bound themselves not to leave it, and to pay an annual tribute of the value of forty piastres each man above the age of fifteen.' They lived in tents near the large towns, and seem only to have worked as much as was requisite to keep body and soul together. But, he adds, 'they possess a natural facility and quickness in acquiring the knowledge of the arts,' and musical performance was their forte. They were also employed as slaves in the households of the boyards, especially in the kitchens, which they made 'not less disgusting than the receptacles of swine.' They were bastinadoed, often in the presence of the master or mistress, and 'the ladies of quality, however young and beautiful, do not show much delicate reluctance in similar instances of authority.' Other punishments, some very inhuman, were inflicted; and although the owners had no power of life or death over them, if the latter were the result of too severe beating 'neither the Government nor the public took notice of the circumstance.' Not only was it 'under the care of these depraved servants that the boyards were brought up,' but as the women of the higher classes were not in the habit of nursing their infants, they placed them in the hands of gipsy wet-nurses, who imparted to them their diseases, and no doubt influenced the morals of their after-life. Although the gipsies were nominally freed in 1848, their condition remained unchanged after the revolution was suppressed, and it was not until 1854 that they were permanently liberated. To-day there are nominally 200,000 of them in Roumania, and until recently they were divided, or divided themselves, into distinct castes following various occupations. The highest of these were the Laoutari, or musicians, who generally perform in bands consisting of four or five men each. These usually play upon one or two violins, a mandoline, and the Pandean pipes. Their music is wild and plaintive, giving the impression from a distance that two or three bagpipes are being played. They have the credit of being very good musicians, and of being able to perform national airs from the ear alone. Some of them have risen to the position of acknowledged composers, and indeed, for that matter, many individuals amongst the gipsy race occupy comparatively high posts in other departments of human intelligence.

Another section are workers in metal, such as tinkers and brass-founders; a third work in wood, and perform various duties connected with the building trade; but a large proportion are still vagabonds and thieves, who infest the country, and are a nuisance to the honest peasants and labourers. The last-named class profess no religion and obey no law, excepting the criminal law when they are forced. The settled part of the gipsy community belong to the national Church; the women are chaste as against the Roumanians, but their morality is said to be very lax amongst themselves. It is, however, hardly fair to speak in these general terms of the gipsy race at present. As already stated, many of them occupy very honourable positions in society; and some years since a German writer predicted what is now taking place, namely, a fusion of the gipsies with the Roumanians. We were informed by a learned philologist in Bucarest that this process is rapidly going on; the castes are not so clearly defined; intermarriages with Roumanians are of daily occurrence; many of the gipsies do not even know their own language; and their number is rapidly diminishing. Intellectually they are talented, but lazy. Many of the men, and still more of the women, are very handsome. Although every gradation of shade is to be found amongst their faces, pretty much as one sees in the negro race in the United States, the features of the Roumanian gipsies are generally well-formed Indo-European. Nothing is more striking than to see two women pass each other, or walking side by side: the one a Roumanian, fair, florid, and blue-eyed, the other a gipsy with a skin as black as a sloe, jet-black hair, and black eyes, and yet the features similar in both cases, and each woman in her way handsome.

Many stories have been related concerning the gipsies, and their character has often been invested with romance; but we cannot afford them more space, and we are loth to give any to another class of beings whom one sees in Roumania, namely, the self-mutilated sect of Lipovans, well known to persons who are, or rather were formerly, acquainted with Russia, out of which country they were driven when they took up their abode in Roumania. They are chiefly hackney-carriage drivers, and wear the Russian dress, consisting of a long cloth coat bound at the waist by a belt, and a round peaked cap. We were informed that the police are making efforts to get hold of the leaders of this sect, which is undoubtedly a blot upon the civilisation of any country in which its members are to be found.


The Roumanians are very fond of bright colours, and one of the peculiarities which strike the visitor to Bucarest is the hues of the women's dresses, sometimes, but not always, as tasteful as they are brilliant. Another feature is the love of the pictorial art in connection with the advertisements of tradespeople. Amongst many examples of this, in various vocations, is the frequent recurrence of signboards, representing a lady reposing in her bed after an interesting event, whilst the nurse (who thus advertises her profession) is holding up a beautiful infant in her arms for the admiration of its parent and the general public. The amusements of the working classes, and for that matter of all classes, are by no means of the highest order. The Roumanians love music, and many are accomplished musicians. The national theatre is well attended by the middle classes during the season, so are the cafés chantants by the lower orders; but there is no intellectual enjoyment as in Western countries, no popular lectures nor entertainments, no societies for mutual improvement for any class of the community. If one enquires what learned societies there are, he may probably receive, as we did, a long list of them, bearing imposing names, and many said to publish 'Transactions' (Zeitschrift); but enquire a little further, and you will find that this society has been defunct for so many years, and that one never met—that this 'Zeitschrift' was published once, but not a second time, and so on. The Geographical Society has done some good work. In 1875 they published a report through their secretary, M. Cantacuzeno, which contains a great deal of valuable information concerning Roumania; but unfortunately, as in the case of all Roumanian statistical records, this differs in many cases from the statements of other 'authorities,' and cannot be accepted as entirely trustworthy.

These remarks, however, are not applicable to the researches and publications, in transactions and reviews, by savants such as Hasdeu, Aurelian, Tocilesco, Bacologlu, Prince Jon Ghika, Cogalniceanu, and many others. These are, however, entirely out of the reach of the multitude, who stand greatly in need of popular instruction, a fact which has been recognised by the Queen, who is not only doing all in her power to popularise information by means of simple publications, but we believe made an effort, hitherto ineffectual, to introduce a system of popular lectures.

In another respect the city is behind the age, and that is in its commercial arrangements. Although there are large transactions in raw produce, in the manufactures of all nations, in stocks and shares, there is no public Exchange, no Stock Market, no Corn Exchange, all the business being transacted by ambulating brokers. But if the reader knew in what condition the country was before the Crimean war, he would marvel, not at the absence of such institutions, but that there should be any need of them. In his work on the Roumanians published in 1857, Edgar Quinet suggests as the means of their regeneration after so many years of oppression 'a bank,' 'an institution of credit,' and railways, of which there were at that time none in existence. Now there are banks, credit institutions, railways between most of the important centres, and others in progress. In fact, it is no exaggeration to say that the progress which has been effected in this country in twenty-five years has in other European States necessitated one or two centuries; and this is a circumstance of which most writers on the country have lost sight in their criticisms. For the purpose of erecting suitable buildings for trade, and for public bodies generally, a corporation has recently been started which calls itself the 'Roumanian Company for building Public Works.' Its capital is ten millions of francs, and Prince Demetrius Ghika, President of the Senate, is the chairman, with an unexceptionable board of directors, and no doubt the next five or ten years will witness changes and improvements as rapid as those which have occurred in the immediate past.

Much, perhaps too much, has been written concerning Roumanian funerals. That they are showy, almost to irreverence, and that the exposure of the face of the corpse in its glazed coffin is repulsive, there can be no doubt, but they are not one whit worse than the lugubrious processions with their 'arrangements' in black and feathers which are still to be seen in England; and there, as here, it is to be hoped that with improving national taste these exhibitions will be discontinued.

Very different, however, is the old-fashioned system of octroi, of which the poorer classes complain bitterly, still in vogue not only in Bucarest but in all the other large towns of Roumania, and the still more iniquitous poll-tax. The latter amounts to eighteen francs per head, and is levied on rich and poor alike. It is, however, needless to say more on that subject; for the 'Romanul,' a daily journal, owned by M. Rosetti, and published by him whilst he was Home Secretary (August 27, 1881), contained a most effective leading article against the tax, from which it is clear that its injustice is recognised in the highest quarters. As to the octroi system, it is bad beyond all conception. A municipal tax, sometimes of so much per 100 kilos (4 to 44 francs), at others ad valorem, or again upon each article, is levied upon almost everything required by the inhabitants as it is brought into the city, from food, clothing, and the necessaries of life, to such luxuries as wine, artificial flowers, and carriages. And what aggravates the evils of the system is that the municipality farms these duties to men (usually Jews) who evade the authorised schedule by giving credit to needy persons and then compelling them to pay exorbitant rates of interest (if it can be so called) for the accommodation they receive. It is for such practices as these, resulting in part from the want of good government combined with the improvidence of the people, and from the readiness of the Jews to turn these and similar circumstances to favourable account, that the latter have been subjected to persecution which formerly took the shape of violence and outrage, and which is now confined to bitter invective and national ill-will.

The Jews, said 'Romania Libera' (a very inappropriate title for the exponent of such views), are masters of the trade of the country and poison everything economically. Joint-stock establishments are recommended by it for the sale of clothes, shoes, and linen. The Government must regard it as its sacred duty to foster this movement with all its influence. 'The Jews need have no apprehensions. We will not pitch them into the Danube, nor requite them with a Sicilian Vesper as they deserve. Preventive economical regulations are much more effective than the above-named measures.' It is needless to remark what a pernicious influence such an article as this would have upon an excitable people who had been the victims of usury and oppression; and whilst no language is sufficiently strong to apply to the perpetrators of such outrages upon the Jews as have disgraced the Eastern nations who have been guilty of them, Englishmen should hesitate before they fix the blame upon the government of any country in which they occur. The Jews are the chief traders in Roumania, and if they are exorbitant and usurious the way to meet them is by competition and enterprise on the part of the native traders, not by invective and abuse.


Before passing to the consideration of one or two other Roumanian towns which will necessitate a reference to the trade of the country, we will devote a few pages to the description of one of the most interesting localities, or rather of a building therein, which is generally considered its most noteworthy historical relic, and that is the church or cathedral of Curtea d'Ardges.

The small city of Curtea d'Ardges, which contains one or two good old churches, is situated on the river of the same name, a few hours' drive from the station of Pitesti on the Bucarest and Verciorova (Vienna) Railway; it is the seat of a bishop, and is one of the oldest towns in Roumania. It is said to have been founded by Radu Negru, which is tantamount to saying that its foundation is lost in obscurity. In its immediate vicinity is a monastery containing a most beautiful cathedral, around which cluster many interesting historical associations, and whereof we propose to give a brief description. It is of the Byzantine order, but the architect has employed in its decoration a large amount of Moorish or arabesque ornament, and the whole building resembles a beautiful large mausoleum. The stone with which the cathedral is faced has usually been called marble, but it is a whitish grey limestone somewhat resembling lithographic stone, which is very easily workable with the chisel, but hardens on exposure to the air. We have said it is faced with this stone, that is externally, for the internal face of the building is of brick plastered for the reception of paintings. The church is of an irregular form, being composed of a square block, behind which is a large polygonal annexe; the whole is raised upon a pediment seven feet in height, and the portal, which is Moorish, is approached by twelve marble steps, said to symbolise the twelve tribes of Israel. From the square main portion of the church a large dome rises in the centre, and two smaller cupolas in front, whilst a secondary dome which is larger and higher than the central one surmounts the annexe behind. The domes and cupolas constitute the summits of what are called by architects 'tambours;' the tambours of the cupolas are round, that of the central dome octagonal, and that of the hinder secondary one pentagonal. From all the domes alike there spring inverted pear-shaped stones, each bearing a cross which consists of an upright rod traversed horizontally by three smaller ones; the crosses bear balls and chains, and symbolise the Trinity. On the ground, opposite the portal, and within the stone balustrade which surrounds the church, there is an exquisite little open structure resembling a shrine. This consists of four plain Arabic pillars supporting a series of mouldings which form a square cornice, and crowned with a dome, pear-shaped ornament, and cross, precisely as in the cupolas of the church itself. The windows in the body of the church and on the tambours of the domes are very narrow, and those on the tambours or cylinders of the smaller cupolas are curved and slope obliquely at an angle of seventy degrees, which gives the spectator the impression that they are leaning, somewhat in the same manner as the well-known spire at Chesterfield. The ornamentation on the outside surpasses all powers of description. It comprises a large corded moulding, about halfway between the pediment and the cornice, passing right round the main building; and circular shields above this moulding, which, along with the windows, are decorated with the most exquisite tracery, wherein flowers (chiefly lilies), leaves, and convoluted bands play a conspicuous part. Everywhere, on the cornices, tambours, and balconies, chaste wreaths and crowns of lilies add beauty and lightness to the fabric, and give to the whole the appearance of a fairy structure.

Within, the building is less interesting; it is dimly lighted by the narrow windows, artificial light being furnished by means of numerous candelabra during divine service. The secondary dome is supported by twelve Arabic pillars, and the walls and domes are decorated with frescoes of the orthodox kind—the Saviour, Virgin, and Apostles, with scenes from the Old and New Testament, also with portraits of princes and bishops of the See. The length of the building inside is about 76 Vienna feet, the greatest breadth 41 feet. The height of the two domes is 86 feet and 81 feet respectively, and of the smaller cupolas 66 feet.

If the architecture and ornamentation of the cathedral are beautiful, the historical records which it contains are even more interesting. It is true that great uncertainty hangs over these, as over all other Roumanian chronicles, but certain facts in connection with the building and its history are well established.

Its archives have been carried off by the invaders who, from time to time, sacked and plundered its valuable treasures; but several inscriptions inside and outside of the church, some of which are in the Servian and old Slavonian language, and others in Roumanian, throw light upon its history and construction.

First, however, we must inflict upon our readers a little legendary lore, which, although it illustrates the uncertainty of the early history of the country, will give them a glimpse of the national thought and feeling in the past. According to tradition the cathedral was founded by 'Neagu Voda,' of whom we shall speak hereafter; and it is said that whilst he was a hostage at Constantinople he built a magnificent mosque for the Sultan, who allowed him to take away to his own country the surplus materials, and that from these he constructed the cathedral after his own designs. A still wilder legend makes one Manoll or Manole the architect, and it is said that he had several master-masons associated with him in the work, but that the efforts of the combined masons failed to raise the building. Neagu Voda had commanded them on pain of death to proceed with it, when Manole, to save their lives, proposed that they should follow the old custom (legendary let us hope) of building up a woman in the foundation; and it was decided that the woman who first made her appearance with the provisions for her husband on the following day should be the victim. They all swore to keep the fact secret from their wives; but Manole was the only one who kept his word, and consequently his wife Utza was the first to appear.

'He took her by the hand at once
And led her to the building,
Then pointed out where she should stand,
And he began to build:
"Be, my beloved, without fear."
She did not interrupt his discourse.
'The other masons in astonishment
All look at him with terror,
And all stand at a distance,
For they dare not venture near;
When he softly speaks to her,
And with haste builds her up.
'"This joke is not good,
Manole, my beloved;
Reflect that I am a mother,
And that I am bringing up your son."
But Manole still jokes
And hastens as much as he can.
'Up to her breast he had built up,
And she sweetly sings to him;
The strong wall bruised her,
And she swims in tears,
But when he had finished,
The wall more than overtopped her.
'This was the remedy:
And the wall was able to stand;
And after this the monastery
Ceased to fall any more;
The wind, the earthquake do not shake it.
Utza within the wall upholds it.'

Thus far the poet; but the legend does not end there. The boasts of the masons were so arrogant after the cathedral was completed that Radul, or Neagu (for he is called by both names), gave orders for the scaffolding to be removed, and left them to die of hunger on the roof. Manole and his companions sought to save themselves by constructing parachutes of light wood, but as each attempted to descend he was dashed to the ground and turned into stone. Manole himself was the last to make the attempt, but when he approached the parapet he was horror-struck at hearing the plaint of his wife as he had heard it when he was building her up in the foundation, and, losing all sense and power, he fell to the ground. From the spot where he fell dead a spring of clear water gushed forth, and a fountain which was erected there is still known as Manoll's.

And now to pass from fiction to fact. According to the inscription upon a tablet outside of the church, it was founded by Neagu Bassarab, a prince of Wallachia, to whom we shall refer hereafter in our historical sketch. He is reported to have been very pious and patriotic, to have founded many monasteries and restored the cathedral of Tirgovistea. He died about a.d. 1520, and was buried in the church at Ardges. He did not, however, live to complete the cathedral, for another tablet within the church says that John Radul, or Radul d'Affumaz, to whom reference will also be made in our historical summary, caused the paintings to be executed in 1526.

During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the church was desecrated and plundered by ruthless invaders, Christians (Hungarians) as well as Mohammedans, who carried off its treasures, which are said to have been of great value. In 1681, however, Prince Serban Cantacuzene, of whose good deeds we shall speak hereafter, completely restored the cathedral, as appears from the Roumanian inscription on a tablet outside near the portal. This inscription is quaint and interesting, and deserves a place in any work professing to deal with the history of the country. After a number of deeply pious and moral reflections it goes on to say:—

'Therefore Nyagoe Voivode Beserab, of happy memory, the great grandfather of my wife on the mother's side, who was a pious and God-fearing man, when he was invested with the government of Wallachia, did, amongst many other good deeds, cause to be erected a large and splendid monastery in this town of Argesia, along with the other cloister buildings in the vicinity, for the worship of God and in honour of his sainted mother; which monastery, as it may readily lie imagined from the high wages paid to the workmen engaged in its erection, must have been a very costly undertaking. After a considerable period the foundation and steps began to give way, either through some error of the builders or owing to the damp caused by long-continued rains which loosened the stones. About that time I, Johann Scherban Kantakosino Beserab Voivode, in the name of God, was entrusted with the government of my ancestors. As soon as I became acquainted with the dilapidation of the monastery, I at once resolved to restore the building of my ancestors in order that the memory of that famous prince (Nyagoe) might not be forgotten, and I sent our boyard Dona Pepano as superintendent with numerous workmen, and thereupon restored the whole building where it had suffered damage, and bolted with iron the stones which had loosened, that they might thus continue to hold together, and then I further determined to endow the sacred monastery with the income from the hill of Menesti, near Ardges, to hold and enjoy its entire revenues. These shall be in support of the holy monastery and in eternal remembrance of us and our ancestors.

'In the year 7190, the 26th August.

'This happened under the Metropolitan Kyr Theodosius.'

At the close of the eighteenth century Ardges was constituted a bishopric, and at the beginning of the present, Bishop Joseph was at great pains to renew and restore several portions of the cathedral. The inscription commemorating this event is brief:—

'To the glory of the Holy Trinity, to the glory and praise of the Holy Virgin Mary the Mother of God, this church was restored where it was injured by the rain. Where, however, the colour was only obliterated, it was repainted; at the instigation of Joseph the first Bishop of Ardges, in whose time also other work was done, under the Metropolitan Dositheos and Prince Constantine Ypsilanti. The superintendent of the work was Meletin (of the Monastery). In the year 1804, 25th October.'

Besides having suffered at the hands of barbarians of various nations, this beautiful fabric has from time to time been injured by earthquakes; but it has survived all these calamities, and has been frequently repaired, restored, and beautified since the beginning of this century. The property and incomes of monasteries have been largely applied to secular purposes, and amongst those whose resources have been much curtailed is that of Ardges. It is to be hoped, however, that, either through State support or private benevolence, this beautiful monument of mediæval art and valuable historical record may not again be allowed to fall into decay, but may long remain what it is at present, undoubtedly the gem of Roumania.