Roumania Past and Present eBook

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

[Footnote 6:  Prince Jon Ghika says 87 metres.]

[Footnote 7:  According to various works and maps, the heights of the mountain summits differ.  In his work, Terra Nostra, edition of 1880, M. Aurelian gives the height of Pionul as 2,720.1 metres, or about 8,934 English feet, and that of Caraiman as 2,650.2 metres, or 8,705 feet; but some of the maps give measurements differing from these.]

[Footnote 8:  Fuller details concerning the soil and agricultural productions will be found in the chapter devoted to those subjects.]

II.

The appearance of the plain on leaving the flat monotonous banks of the Danube is anything but prepossessing.  Although the land begins to rise almost immediately, the surrounding scenery is flat and arid.  The soil, which is black or dark grey, is chiefly argillo-siliceous, and the plain is overrun with coarse grass, weeds, and stunted shrubs, diversified by fields of maize, patches of yellow gourds, and kitchen vegetables.  Here and there the railway runs through or skirts plantations.  The chief plants in this region (and this applies to the plains generally) are willows, alders, poplars, and tamarinds, but chiefly willows and poplars amongst the trees and larger plants; maize, wheat, millet, and other cereals, and a variety of fruits and vegetables which will be spoken of in connection with the more elevated regions.  The first impression which is made upon the traveller coming from our own beautiful hedgerows and pastures, or from the richly cultivated plains of Transylvania, is that agriculture is slovenly and neglected, and that impression is never wholly lost in whatever direction he may travel; although, as we shall see presently, the higher zones are much more carefully cultivated.[9]

[Illustration:  ROUMANIAN PEASANTS IN WORKING DRESS.]

The peasantry at work in the fields present a novel and interesting appearance to the stranger, and still more striking are some of their habitations.  The men generally wear a long white coarse linen blouse with trousers of the same material.  The blouse is drawn in at the waist by a coil of cords or by a belt, and frequently sandals are worn, in which case the cords fastening them are wound some distance up the leg.  Hats of common felt, cheap cloth, or high cylindrical caps of sheepskin, complete the external attire.  In winter sheepskins take the place of the coarse linen tunic.  There are two types of face to be met with amongst them, both of which are here depicted.  The one has long moustaches and shaven face; the other type, which is said to resemble the Dacians of Trajan’s Column, has the hair growing all over the face.  The latter appeared to the author to resemble the generality of Russian peasants, and this view was confirmed by one or two lending observers in the country.[10]

[Illustration:  PEASANTS AT A WELL.]

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Roumania Past and Present from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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