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

CHAPTER V.

TOPOGRAPHICAL—­COMMERCIAL.

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.

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