And after all there is another phase of this question which must not be lost sight of when we criticise the institutions of a young nation which has only just achieved its independence, and whose first step was to abolish the vindictive capital sentence of ‘a life for a life.’ The first law of nature is self-preservation, and Roumania is still obliged to economise in all departments of the State in order to place her national police—her army—on a sound footing. It is wonderful how she is able to conduct her department of justice even as she does. Her convict labour is so well utilised that it leaves her a handsome profit. Her total expenditure on all judicial and penal matters in 1880 was under 170,000_l._ with a population of 5,000,000, whilst with only seven times that number of inhabitants the Government outlay of Great Britain in the same year amounted to the enormous sum of 5,922,443_l._, without reckoning the heavy local burdens for the protection of life and property. And yet both life and property are certainly as secure in Roumania as in England, without the halter or the cat, two of the barbarous expedients for the prevention of crime which are still employed in our boasted Western civilisation.
[Footnote 73: Obedenare names four, but we believe he has coupled two neighbouring mines together as one.]
[Footnote 74: This does not, however, keep the water effectually out of the mine, for, from whatever source, one portion of it was partially flooded whilst we were there. Some of the prisoners had struck and refused to enter the shaft, and the chief inspector who had come from Bucarest to enquire into the cause of the emeute said the men were justified in their refusal to work, considering the condition of that part of the mine.]
[Footnote 75: We understand that the mine is to be lighted with the electric light this year.]
[Footnote 76: A touch of the ludicrous intervened to relieve the painful feelings we experienced on this occasion. We were standing with the engineer of the mine watching the men hewing salt, when the latter said (in German) ’Here are the worst criminals’—meaning in that mine. Not quite understanding him, we got the undeserved credit of making a joke by asking,’ Here, where we stand?’—meaning in that part of the mine. The engineer burst into a laugh, which sounded very hollow there, and then we noticed the double entendre, and mutual explanations ensued.]
The arena swims around him; he is gone
Ere ceased the inhuman shout which hailed the wretch who won.
He heard it, but he heeded not;
Were with his heart, and that was far away:
He recked not of the life he lost nor prize,
But where his rude hut by the Danube lay,
There were his young barbarians all at play,
There was their Dacian mother—be their sire,
Butchered to make a Roman holiday.
All this rushed with his blood. Shall he expire,
And unavenged? Arise, ye Goths, and glut your ire!