Roumania Past and Present eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 315 pages of information about Roumania Past and Present.

[Footnote 167:  Regnault says (p. 437):  ’Twice in three weeks the provisional government had fallen, first through an audacious coup de main, then through a spontaneous act of weakness.  Twice the people had reinstated it, setting a resolute example for the conduct of their leaders.  It is worth noting that this nation, new to political life of which the birth is manifested by courage and wisdom, retired before its leaders when they triumphed, raised them when they fell, giving alternate evidences of energy and moderation.’]

X.

Much has been said here, and a great deal more in the works of those French writers who were unfriendly towards Russia, concerning her intrigues and encroachments in the Principalities, but it is only fair to admit that her interference invariably resulted in the ameliorating of their condition.  This the French writers sometimes grudgingly admit, and the facts of history clearly prove.  In nearly every instance Russian interference meant relief to the peasantry and enforced moderation in the rulers.  In 1710, when Cantemir III. of Moldavia sought the aid of Peter the Great, it was ‘to put an end to the spoliations of the Porte.’  In 1769 Constantine Mavrocordato entered into secret relations with Catherine II., and after the Russian invasion the Porte was compelled by the Treaty of Kainardji to grant autonomy to the Principalities, and to diminish its exactions; in 1802, through Russian remonstrances, abuses were suppressed and the evil-doers punished.  In 1812 the chicanery of the rulers and the exactions of the Porte had brought the people to the brink of starvation; the Russians interfered, and put a limit to the demands of the Porte; but after their departure, we are told, the current value of agricultural produce again fell so low that it was impossible for the cultivator to live, and this circumstance, along with the renewed exactions of the rulers and officials, once more brought ruin upon the peasantry.  In 1820 Wilkinson, who, it must be remembered, was Consul at Bucarest, and who was far from being enamoured of Russia, says:  ’During my residence in the Principalities several instances have occurred within my observation of very active exertion on the part of Russia to keep the accustomed system of extortion in restraint, and to relieve the inhabitants from oppression, and such exertion has certainly on many occasions prevented the condition of the inhabitants from becoming worse.’[168]

But that the ultimate design of Russia was to secure and incorporate the Principalities as part of her general scheme of aggression, there can be no doubt in the mind of anyone who has followed her operations previous to the Crimean campaign.  That and subsequent events may be said to belong to contemporary history; but we must briefly refer to such incidents of the war as affected the Danubian Principalities and laid the foundation of Roumanian freedom.  The Emperor

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