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themselves from church.
He must fine the men who have neglected to approach the sacrament, as well as the women who have lingered in the churchyard wasting their time in senseless gossip. Children who have been overheard speaking disrespectfully of their parents, couples whose connubial quarrels are audible in the village street, dogs wantonly beaten by their masters, vain young matrons who have exceeded the prescribed num. ber of glittering pins in their head-dress, or girls surpassing their proper allowance of ribbon, all come under his jurisdiction, and the Nachbarvater is himself subject to punishment if he neglect to report a culprit, or show himself too lenient in the dictation of punishment.
It is by the rigid observance of many such rules that the Transylvanian Saxons have now become a curious remnant of the Middle Ages—a living anachronism in the nineteenth century; for such as these people wandered forth from the far West to seek a home in a strange land seven centuries ago, such we find them again to-day, like a corpse frozen in a glacier, which comes to light unchanged after a long lapse of years.
if, however, we admit the Roumanians, though undoubtedly descended from the Romans, to
be a people more nearly related to the Slav than to the Teutonic race, it must be conceded that such fusion could only have taken place where a Slav race already existed previous to the advent of the Roman conquerors. That people, therefore, whose progressive development have produced the present Roumanian race, did not exist before this fusion took place, and thereto its origin is distinctly to be traced. The ethnographical importance of the Roumanians, therefore, does not lie in the fact of their being descendants of the ancient Romans, nor in that of their connection to the long-vanished Dacians, but simply and entirely therein that this people, placed between two sharply contrasting races, form an important connecting link in the chain of European tribes."
The classical type of feature, so often met with among Roumanian peasants, pleads strongly for the theory of Roman extraction, and if just now I compared the Saxon peasants to Noak's ark figures rudely carved out of the coarsest wood, the Roumanians as often remind me of a type of face chiefly to be seen on cameo ornaments, or ancient signet rings. Take at random a score of individuals from any Roumanian village, and, like a handful of antique gems which have been strewn broadcast over the land, you will there surely find a goodly choice of classical profiles worthy to be immortalized on agate, onyx, or jasper.
There has been of late years so much learned discussion about the origin of the Roumanians that it were presumpAn air of plaintive melancholy genertion to advance any independent opinion ally characterizes the Roumanian peason the subject. German writers-more ant it is the melancholy of a long-subespecially Saxon ones-have been stren- jected and oppressed race; but spite of uous in deriding all claim to Roman ex- his degradation the Roumanian not untraction, contending that whatever Ro- frequently possesses a grace and inherent man elements remained over after the dignity of deportment totally wanting in evacuation of this territory, must long his Saxon neighbor. There is a wealth since have been swallowed up in the of unraised treasure, of ability in the raw great rush of successive nations which block, and of uncultured talent lying passed over the land in the early part of dormant in this ignorant peasantry, who the Middle Ages. Roumanian writers, seem only lately to have begun to underon the contrary, are fond of laying great stand that they need not always bend stress on the direct Roman lineage which their neck beneath the yoke of other nait is their pride to believe in, sometimes, tions, and that slavery and humiliation however, injuring their own cause by are not inevitable conditions of their exover-anxiety to claim too much, and lay- istence. Devoid of all artistic training, ing too little stress on the admixture of and until quite lately possessing no sort Slav blood which is as surely a funda- of national literature of their own, there mental ingredient of the race. One of are here to be found the elements of both the more impartial Roumanian writers, poet and painter. The Roumanian folkJoan Slavici, states the case with greater songs betray alike pathos and imaginafairness when he writes as follows:- tion; the pictures adorning each village church are wanting neither in harmony of color nor of design. Encouragement and training alone are required to mature
"If we simply were to deny the crossing of Roman with Slav blood, then the whole question of Roumanian origin loses its significance;
these gifts to the highest pitch demand- special word to define this uncleanness ed by culture.
In order to understand the Roumanian we must first of all begin by understanding his religion, which alone gives us the clew to the curiously contrasting shades of his complicated character. A French writer, speaking of the Wallachians (as they were then called) some forty years ago, says:
Aujourd'hui leur seul mobile est la religion, si on peut donner ce nom à l'ensemble de leurs pratiques superstitieuses; and another author remarks, with equal justice, that the whole life of a Wallachian is taken up in devising talismans against the devil.
It is supposed that the Roumanians were very early converted to Christianity-probably in the third century. Old chronicles of the thirteenth century, however, make mention of them as a people,which, though professing the Christian faith, is yet nevertheless given to the practice of manifold Pagan rites and customs, wholly at variance with Christianity," and even to-day the Roumanians are best described by the paradoxical definition of ChristianPagans, or Pagan-Christians.
True, the Roumanian peasant will never fail to uncover his head whenever he pass by a wayside cross, but his salutation to the rising sun will be at least equally profound; and though he goes to church and abstains from work on the Lord's Day, it is by no means certain whether he does not regard the Friday (Vinere) dedicated to Paraschiva (Venus) as the holier day of the two. The list of the other un-Christian festivals is lengthy, and still lengthier that of Christian festivals, in whose celebration Pagan rites and customs may still be traced.
Whoever buries his dead without placing a coin in the hand of the corpse is regarded as a Pagan by the orthodox Roumanian. Nu i de legea noastra ("he is not of our law''), he says of such a one, meaning, "he is not of our religion, and whosoever lives outside the Roumanian religion, be he Christian, Pagan, Jew, or Mohammedan, is regarded as unclean, and, consequently, whatever comes in contact with any such individual is unclean likewise.
The Roumanian language has a
-spurcat, which somewhat corresponds to the koscher and unkoscher of the Jews. If, for instance, any animal fall into a well of drinking water, then the well forthwith becomes spurcat, and spurcat likewise whosoever drinks of this water. If it is a large animal, such as a calf or goat, which has fallen in, then the whole water must be baled out, and should this fail to satisfy the conscience of any ultra-orthodox proprietor, then the Popa must be called in to read a mass over the spot where perchance a donkey has found a watery grave; but when it is a man who has been drowned there, no further rehabilitation is possible for the unlucky well, which must therefore be filled up and discarded as quite too hopelessly spurcat.
Every orthodox Roumanian household possesses three different classes of cooking and eating utensils unclean, clean for the meat days, and the cleanest of all for fast days. The cleansing of a vessel, which through some accident has become spurcat, is only conceded in the case of very large and expensive articles, such as barrels and tubs, copious ablutions of holy water, besides much scouring, scraping, and rubbing, being resorted to in such cases. All other utensils which do not come under this denomination must be simply thrown away, or at best employed for feeding the domestic animals. The Roumanian who does not strictly observe all these regulations is himself spurcat, this same measure being applied to all individuals, who are therefore considered to be clean or unclean, according to their observance of these rules. The uncleanness, however, is not supposed to be in the individual but in his laws, which fail to enforce cleanliness; therefore it is the law which is unclean, legé spurcat, which for the Roumanian is synonymous with unChristian. For instance, a man who eats horse-flesh is necessarily a Pagan in his eyes.
This recognition of the uncleanness of most of his fellow-creatures is, however, wholly free from either hatred or contempt on the part of the Roumanian. On the contrary, he shows much interest in foreign countries and habits, and when desirous of affirming the high char
acter of any stranger, he says of him that he is a man who keeps his own law, tine la legea lui, spite of which eulogium the Roumanian will refuse to wear the coat, or eat off the plate of this honorable stranger.
The idea so strongly inrooted in the Roumanian mind, that they alone are Christians, and that consequently no man can be a Christian without also being a Roumanian, seems to imply that there was a time when the two words were absolutely identical, and that surrounded for long by Pagan nations, with whom they could hold no sort of community, they lacked all knowledge of other existing Christian races.
On the other hand, these people are curiously liberal toward strangers in the matter of religion, allowing each one, whatever be his confession, to enter their churches and receive their sacraments; nor is it allowed for a Popa to refuse the administration of a sacrament to whosoever apply to him, be he Catholic, Protestant, Turk, or Jew, provided the applicant submit to receive it in the manner prescribed by the Oriental church.
The position occupied by the Roumanian clergyman toward his flock is such a peculiar one that it deserves a few words of notice. Though his influence over the people is unlimited, it is no wise dependent on his personal character. It is quite superfluous for the Popa to present in his person a model of the virtues he is in the habit of describing from the altar, and he may for his part be drunken, dishonest, ignorant and profligate to his heart's content, without losing one whit of his prestige or spiritual head. His official character is absolutely intangible, and not to be shaken by any private misdemeanor, and the Roumanian proverb which says, Face sice Popa dar unce face el," that is, Do as the Popa tells you, but do not act as he does," defines his attitude with perfect accuracy. Only the Popa has the privilege of wearing a beard, as he alone is privileged to indulge in certain pet vices which it is his mission officially to condemn, and, like the goodly virtue of charity, this beard must often be said to cover a very great multitude of sins.
Of recent years no doubt-thanks
chiefly to the enlightened efforts of the late Archbishop Schaguna-much has been done to raise the moral standard of the Roumanian clergy in Transylvania, but there remains still much to do before the prevailing coarseness, ignorance and hypocrisy too often characterizing this class can be removed. At present the average village Popa is simply a peasant with a beard, who on week-days goes about his agricultural duties like any other villager, digging his potatoes or going behind the plough; his wife is a simple peasant woman, and his children run about as dirty and dishevelled as any other brats in the village.
A distinguishing quality of the Roumanian race is the touching family affection which mostly unites all relations. Unlike the Saxon, who seeks to limit the number of his offspring, the poor Roumanian, even when plunged in the direst poverty, welcomes each new-born child as another gift of God, while to be a childless wife is regarded as the greatest of misfortunes. Perhaps it is because the Roumanian has himself so few wants, that he feels no anxiety about the future of his children; and therefore the rapid increase of his family occasions him no sort of uneasiness. Having next to no personal property, he is a stranger to the cares which accompany their possession, and the whole programme of his life of admirable simplicity may be thus summed up:
In early infancy the Roumanian babe is more or less treated as a bundle, often slung on its mother's back, packed in a little oval wooden box, and thus carried about wherever she goes; if to work in the field she attaches the box to the branch of a tree, and when sitting at market it may be stowed away on the ground between a basket of eggs and a pair of cackling fowls, or a squeaking sucking-pig. When, after a very few months, the baby outgrows the box and crawls out of its cocoon, it begins to share its parent's food (mostly consisting in maize flour boiled in water or in milk), and soon learns to manage for itself. When it has reached a reasonable age, which in this case means five or six, it is old enough to assist its parents in gaining an honest livelihood, which, as generally understood by the
Roumanians, means helping them to steal wood in the forest. Later on the boy is bound over as swine or cowherd to some Saxon landowner for a period of several years, on quitting whose service after the appointed term, he is entitled to the gift of a calf or pig. Once in possession of a calf the Roumanian lad considers himself a made man for life. He has no ground of his own, but such petty considerations not affecting him, he proceeds to build wherever best suits his purpose. Stone or brick hardly ever enters into the frabrication of his building; the framework is roughly put together of wooden beams, and the walls composed of wattled willow twigs plastered with clay, while the roof is covered with thatch of reeds, or wooden shingles, according as he happens to live nearest to a marsh or a forest.
The inside of a Roumanian's hut is, however, far less miserable-looking than its outward appearance would lead us to suppose. The walls are all hung with a profusion of holy pictures, mostly painted on glass, and the furniture brightly adorned in rough but not inartistic designs-the Roumanian's passion for thus ornamenting all his woodwork leading him to paint even the yoke of his oxen and the handles of his tools. There is usually a new-born baby swinging in a basket suspended from the rafters, and always a weaving-loom set up at one end of the room. The produce of this loom-gay-looking stuff striped in effective Oriental patterns of blue, scarlet, and white, often with gold or silver threads introduced in the weaving-are suspended from ropes, or displayed along the walls. Each village has its own set of colors and patterns, according to its particular costume, and every Roumanian woman spins, dyes, and weaves as a matter of course. In some places you never see a Roumanian woman without her distaff; she even takes it with her on the way to market, and may frequently be seen trudging along the road a distance of several miles twirling the spindle as she goes.
The men do not seem to share this love of labor, but have, on the contrary, much of the Italian lazzarone in their composition, not taking to any sort of manual labor unless driven to it by necessity. The life of a shepherd is the
only calling which the Roumanian really embraces con amore, and his love for his sheep may truly be likened to the Arab's love of his horse. A real Roumanian shepherd, bred and brought up to the life, has so completely identified himself with his calling, that everything about him, food and dress, mind and matter, has, so to say, become completely sheepified. Sheep's milk and cheese form the staple of his nourishment, his dress principally consists of sheepskin, four sheep furnishing him with a coat which lasts through life, one new-born lamb giving him the cap he wears, and when he dies a tuft of snowy wool is attached to the wooden cross which marks his last resting-place. His mental faculties are entirely concentrated on the study of his sheep; and so sharpened have become his perceptions on this one point, that the shepherd is able to divine and foretell to a nicety every change of the weather merely from observing the demeanor of his flock. The idyllic bond between shepherd and sheep has formed the subject of many quaintly graceful Roumanian folk-songs, which want of space forbids me here from quoting.
Forests have no charm for the Roumanian shepherd, who regards each tree as an enemy depriving his sheep of their rightful nourishment, and he covertly seeks to increase his pastures by setting fire to the woods whenever he can hope to do so with impunity. Whole tracts of noble forests in Translyvania have thus been laid waste, and it is much to be feared that fifty years hence the country will present a bleak and desolate appearance, unless energetic measures are taken to do away with this abuse.
The Roumanian is very obstinate in character, and is hard to convince. He does nothing without reflection, and often he reflects so long that the time for action has passed. This slowness has become proverbial, the Saxon saying, "God give me the light which the Roumanian always gets too late. the same proportion as the Roumanian is slow to make up his mind, he is also slow to change it. Frankness is not regarded as a virtue, and the Roumanian language has no word which directly expresses this quality. Hungarians, on the contrary, regard frankness and truth
speaking as a duty, and are, therefore, laughed at by the Roumanians, who consider as a fool any man who injures himself by speaking the truth. Of pride, also, the Roumanian has little notion; he has been too long treated as a degraded and serf-like being; and what he understands by that word would rather seem to express the child-like vanity of a handsome man who sees himself admired. Revenge is cultivated as a virtue, and whoever would be considered a respectable man must keep in mind the injuries done to him, and show resentment thereof on fitting cccasions. Reconciliation is regarded as opprobrious, and forgiveness of wrongs degrading. But the Roumanian's rage is stealthy and disguised, and while the Hungarian lets his anger openly explode, the Roumanian will dissemble, and mutter between his teeth, tine mente ("thou shallst remember'), and his memory is good, for he does not suffer himself to forget. When an injury has been done to him, henceforward it becomes his sacred duty to brood over his vengeance. He may not say a good word more to his enemy, nor do him a service, but must strive to injure him to the best of his ability, with, however, this nice distinction, that he himself do not profit by the injury done. Thus it would not be consistent with the Roumanian's code of honor were he to steal the horse or ox of his enemy, but there can be no objection to his inducing another man to do Such behavior is considered only right and just, and by acting in this manner he will only be fulfilling his duty as an honest and honorable man.
Much of the spirit of the ancient Spartans lies in the Roumanian conception of virtue and vice. Stealing and drunkenness are not considered to be intrinsically wrong, only the publicity which may attend these proceedings conveying any sense of shame to the offender. Thus, a man is not yet a thief because he has stolen, and whoever becomes accidentally aware of the, theft should, if he have no personal interest in the matter, hold his peace. Even the injured party whose property has been abstracted is advised, if possible, to reckon alone with the thief, without drawing general attention to his fault.
Neither is drunkenness necessarily de
grading; on the contrary, every decent man should get drunk on fitting occasions, such as weddings, christenings, etc., and then go quietly to a barn or loft and sleep off his tipsiness. Bea-cat vrei apoi te culcu si dormi ("Drink thy fill and then lie down and sleep") says their proverb; but any man who has been seen reeling drunk in the open street, hooted by children and barked at by dogs, and were it only once, is henceforward branded as a drunkard. It is therefore the duty of each Roumanian who sees a drunken man to conduct him quietly to the nearest barn.
Another curious side of the Roumanian's morality is the point of view from which he regards personal property, such as grain and fruit. In general whatever grows plentifully in the fields, or as he terms it, whatever God has given,' may be taken with impunity by whoever passes that way, but with the restriction that he may only take so much as he can consume at the moment. The proprietor who makes complaint at having his vineyard or his plumtrees rifled in this manner only exposes himself to ridicule.
Whoever carries away of the grain or fruits with him is a thief, but strictly speaking only then when he sells the stolen goods, not when he quietly shares it with his own family.
The Roumanian looks only at deeds and results, motives being absolutely indifferent to him. So the word "passion" he translates as patima, which really expresses weakness. Whatever is bad is weak. Thus an om pâtima, a weak man, may either mean a consumptive invalid, a love-sick youth, or a furious ruffian. Passion of all kind is a misfortune which should excite compassion but not resentment, and whoever commits a bad action is above all foolish because it is sure to be found out sooner or later.
Mr. Patterson in his very interesting work on Hungary and Transylvania, gives an anecdote which aptly characterizes the nature of the Roumanian's morality: Three Roumanian peasants waylaid and murdered a traveller, dividing his possessions between them. Among these they discovered a cold roast fowl, which they did not eat, however, but gave to the dog, as being a fast-day they feared to commit sin by