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Decameron. A lady of high rank sent her confidential
servant to pay her milliner's bill. It
amounted to one hundred and sixty ducats, or
about eighty pounds of our money. The
roguish servant dressed himself smartly and
sought the milliner. She was one of the
belles of the city. He made love to her; and,
in earnest of his wealth and liberality pressed
the hundred and sixty ducats into her eager
hand. He became her accepted lover. A
few days afterwards, the milliner saw him
behind the carriage of one of her best customers;
he let down the steps; the lady
tripped in, and casually mentioned the recent
payment of her bill. The milliner blushed
denial; the varlet grinned; the story got
wind, and was considered one of the best jokes
of the season by all parties.

The Wallachians, however, sometimes meet
their masters in practical joking. A Russian
major made fierce love to a Wallachian lady
noted for gambling and gallantries.

"I want three thousand ducats," said the
lady pleasantly.

"Here they are," answered the major with
great politeness, " but I shall be at home to-morrow
morning, and the least you can do
is to call and thank me." The lady went.
The major locked the door and quietly departed
about his business. In the course of
the day there was an unceasing search made
for the lost lady. She was traced to the
house of the Russian major. Her husband
followed, and asked for his wife.

"Wife! " sneered the major, " I have
indeed a woman here somewhere, but she is
my slave. I have bought her for three thousand
ducats. If she is your wife, pay me
back the ducats and you shall, have her."

The exceeding wit of this jest supplied
laughter among all classes for months, and
the major became one of the most popular
men in the countrysuch things seem incredible,
yet such things are.

It is odd to hobanob across the table with
a man in diamond studs who has just committed
a burglary; to exchange jests with
a card-sharper; and to look round on a company
of well-dressed ladies, who are each and
all the subject of some astounding history.

The state of Wallachia is a fine example of
Turco-Russian rule. The principles of despotic
government have been here pushed just as
far as they will go. This is the result:—You
cannot extinguish men's minds utterly, but
you can most thoroughly pervert them. The
Wallachians were made by nature a shrewd,
active, energetic people. They were formed
to be a race of hardy agriculturists, and keen
adventurous traders. But,

"Alas! " said a Boyard, mournfully, to me,
"we have never known ten years of quiet and
peace for centuries."

Their prosperity by no means agreed with
the immediate designs of Russia. They were
looked upon by the Turks as aliens and unbelievers.
The Austrians eyed them with
the lust of conquest. They were made the
battle-ground of the endless wars between
the Czar and the Sultan. In their most halcyon
days they received the melancholy name
of the Peru of the Greeks. They were plundered
by every party in turn. After supporting
for months the harassing burthen of
a Russian army, down swept the Turks upon
them. Then came a venal Hospodar, with
his tribe of hungry sycophants; till public
virtue and private worth were paralysed and
stricken down. Such also might have been
the doom brought upon the whole of the
Turkish empire, had Russia been able to
effect the conquest of Constantinople.

What if peace had been only another name
for Russian triumph? The imagination positively
refuses to grasp the scene of unspeakable
horrors which would have ensued. It is
not so much despotism that dismays us; the
government of a wise despot has often been
mild and kindly, but Russian despotism is
diabolical. It degrades God's image
the very nature and the soul of man. This
is not a mere figure of speech; it is not
an ungenerous and illiberal sneer at Russia,
because we are at war with her; it is merely
a plain, indisputable fact. The countries
under Russian sway are unquestionably the
worst and most immoral countries in the
world. Everything is in the hands of a nobility,
gay and brilliant indeed, but most
entirely unprincipled. The commonalty, the
great mass of the people, not only groan
under insufferable tyranny and hardships,
blows, scourgings, unutterable wrongs; but
they are forbidden to exercise the intellect
and powers which God has given them, and
they are substantially cut off from the great,
family of mankind.

And how has all this ended? Russian
despots have carried out their theory of
government to the full; for several generations,
the vast empire of Russia has been
swayed altogether by the will or caprice of
one man. It has been, as a French writer
wittily observed, an absolutism tempered by
assassination. What has been the result?
The wily secresy of her councils has been
confounded; the boasted might of her armies
has melted away; the czars have denied their
subjects all right to inquire into grievances,
and the government has been cheated in
every conceivable manner accordingly. The
object she has laboured to attain so long
eludes her grasp as she stretches out her
hand to seize it; and the power she has
built up by fraud, cunning, and manifold
oppressions, has been contemptuously disputed
and pushed down when it threatened
to become mischievous. The disciplined
slaves who man her armies have never
dared to look a host of knights and free-men
fairly in the face; and the tricks of
her boasted diplomacy have been indignantly
unveiled, defied, and despised.

To return to Bucharest. The Austrians

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