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206

POLITICS OF MOLDAVIA.

vous for all the gossips of the place, and ordinary recreations and amusements are absorbed in that superlatively gratifying one, seeing and being seen, talking and being talked to.

Moldavia derives its name from the river Moldau. It was once occupied " by the Venedic nations, or the people who dwelt on fens; the same tribes who first inhabited that part of England now called Cambridgeshire. The ancient Venedi appear to have been the beavers of the human race; all their settlements were on the banks of small rivers and lakes, or by the side of fens. It is more than probable that their diet was fish and the flesh of water-birds; and finding that the effluvia from the marshes was best obviated by covering them with water, they constructed dams across the narrows and rapids of the small rivers and filled the marshy hollows with water, around which they dwelt in security, and lived upon

the salmon and wild fowl which fattened in these artificial lakes. Most of the rivers in Moldavia are at this hour intersected with weirs which dam the waters and form ponds; mills are built on these weirs, and the villages are placed around them."* In the north there is

* Neale's Travels. Doubtless the name Venedi is connected with the Teutonic word fen; and a similar relation

ITS GENERAL ASPECT.

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some beautiful scenery, but the southern parts are flat and uninteresting.

From what we could learn of the politics of the country, it seems that they are so intimately blended with those of Wallachia as scarcely to require a separate mention. Once subject to the tyranny of Turkey, Moldavia, at the same time with her sister principality, was virtually released from the Ottoman yoke to bow to one no less galling; and though governed by a hospodar of her own, yet he is the creature and the tool of Russia. The population, amounting to half a million, is thinly scattered over the province, which, from the fertility of its soil, is capable of supporting four or five times the existing number. The towns participate the general dearth of inhabitants; and Jassi, the capital, contains scarcely more than twelve thousand souls.

The first information obtained at Galatz relative to the quarantine on the frontier of Russia was discouraging. The period of probation prescribed for travellers arriving at the neighbouring town of Reni, instead of being four days, as we had been informed, proved to be fourteen ; at the same tiine, bills of health re

may be traced between the Saxon fenn and the Dutch venne, each signifying a marshy spot.

208

VARIOUS ROUTES.

ceived from the English consul at Constantinople certified that, though the plague existed there, it was not raging with malignity ; thus it appeared that, in descending the Danube nearly to its embouchure, we had acted on incorrect information ; and we were almost inclined to wish that we had proceeded, like some of our companions, direct from Rustchuk to Varna, and thence by water to Constantinople. It was now too late to pursue this course ; and there is no road from Galatz to the capital of Turkey: while, owing to the prevalent winds, a voyage is so tedious and the vessels are so ill adapted for the reception of passengers, that we resolved to submit to quarantine and make the best of our way to Odessa, whence a steamer plies to Constantinople. In this decision we were confirmed by hearing that at Liova, distant eighteen hours from Galatz, travellers might enter Russia with a detention of only four days.

Preparatory to departure, it was necessary that the Russian consul should sign our passports, to attest that we had not been travelling in any part of Turkey but Wallachia and Moldavia, in neither of which provinces the plague existed. This form, with the exchange of money and purchase of provisions for a journey

PREPARATIONS FOR JOURNEY.

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through a country supplying none, occupied the morning; and it was 4 P.m. before our carriage made its appearance. As there is no highroad to Liova, it was impracticable to travel with post-horses, and the best vehicle the consul could procure was so rickety that we feared it would scarcely carry us to the journey's end. To this five ponies were attached with less of tackle than we had ever seen used; and what there was consisted solely of cord which had been repeatedly broken and re-tied. The wheeler on which the driver mounted had a bit, the other only a halter: of the three leaders two were furnished with bits and were linked together; to the third nothing whatever was affixed but the traces round his chest; he was governed entirely by the voice, heedless of which, he frequently strayed in the course of the journey and made direct for a piece of grass or a well; while his comrades, pursuing their course, left him behind the vehicle ; in which state he was dragged backwards by the traces, till the driver descending chastised him for his erratic propensities. This man was a Moldavian, who spoke not a word of any other language than that of his native wilds. His coarse white shirt, with long sleeves, was fastened over a pair of yet coarser trowsers by a

210

DEPARTURE FROM GALATZ.

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broad girdle of green cloth, ornamented with two leather straps studded with large brass buttons. Over this was a sheepskin cloak, with the wool inside. His cap was made of the same material with the wool outside; and be was furnished with large top-boots.

The sight of this equipage was almost sufficient to deter us from undertaking the journey; but we had no alternative : whether we advanced or receded, whether we returned to Giorgervo, or directed our course to Odessa or Constantinople, this was the best conveyance the town supplied; and in it we were compelled to proceed.

Our luggage was soon stowed away in the vehicle; the lighter articles were placed behind, and two large portmanteaux, to serve as seats, in front. No interpreter could be obtained who spoke Moldavian and Russ together with any language with which we were acquainted; and thus, to all other discomforts was added that of an inability to communicate with our driver or with the people of the country.

At length, we bade adieu to our friends at Galatz, through whose kindness we were provided with a little English porter, some good bread, roast fowls, butter, and a few bottles of mineral water. It was 5 P. M. when we started;

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