But n’importe. Roumania was free; and this time she had fought for and won her complete independence.
There is something unsettled in the nature of an independent principality. The title fails to convey the idea of a free and sovereign people, and we are always disposed to regard it as the possible province of some annexing neighbour. So thought a writer on Roumania four years ago, at the close of the war of liberation. ’Situated as it is, as an independent State, it must sooner or later fall to Russia or Austria, more probably to the former.’ So, in all probability, thought the Russian diplomatists when they created a number of weak principalities south of the Danube to serve them as stepping-stones to Constantinople. And so, too, thought the Roumanians themselves. They knew that a name is ’neither hand, nor foot, nor arm, nor face, nor any other part belonging to a man,’ and so they ‘doffed the name,’ and on May 23, 1881, with the concurrence of the great Powers of Europe, they invested their prince and princess with the royal dignity, placing upon their sovereign’s head a crown made from the very guns which he had captured whilst he was fighting for their liberties.
The poetic sentiment which attaches to this last act of the people of Roumania brings vividly before our mind’s eye the dramatic character of her whole national career. Twice have we found the course of her history lost in darkness—first in the clouds of antiquity by which the early life of every nation is obscured; then in the still impenetrable gloom of the so-called dark ages, which continued to hang over the Danubian plains long after it was lifted from every other part of Europe. Conquered first, and civilised by one who ranks amongst the greatest heroes of the Roman Empire, she has inherited a high antiquity of which she may be justly proud, remembering, however, that honourable ancestry alone is not the measure of a nation’s greatness. But then, for ages we might almost say, the blast which swept across her plains with all the fury of a tempest, but, as it travelled westward, broke and moderated under the influence of the older civilisation, caused a second blank in her existence; and when she once more rose from her prostration, she found herself whole centuries behind the western peoples. But hardly had she time to breathe again, and ere the wounds inflicted on her by the Goths, and Huns, and Avars were yet fully healed, another ruthless conqueror