Barbu Stefanescu Delavrancea was a Romanian lawyer and public speaker, mayor of Bucharest etc. He also wrote as a hobby, much in the manner one'd be keeping a blog a century and a half later. Allow me to quote a fragment, originally published as "Zig Zag" in Romania Libera, sometime between 1880 and 1882 (ie, aged about 25).
Trăsurile-și fac fără preget cursul lor regulat: de la rontul întăi pînă la al doilea, și de la al doilea pînă la cel dîntăi.
Un landou trece cu mare zgomot: numai argint și coroane de principe se văd pe dobitoacele din ham, numai mătase și aur pe cele din landou. Cocoanele îl privesc cu aviditate: unele fac ochii rotunzi, altele privesc pe sub sprincene, altele strîmbă din nas… În dreptul Bufetului o trăsură odihnește și într-însa sunt două artiste ale Teatrului Național. Amîndouă sunt brune și palide și obosite la față. Una e grasă, cu mușchii morți și gelatinoși, cu sprincenele negre și îmbinate; ochii îi joacă în toate părțile; cealaltă e slabă și tristă: arta te slăbește, mai ales cînd n-o posezi. Amîndouă poartă mantale spaniole și pălării cealmale și buchete la pept, buchete pe umer, buchete pe volane; stau cu spatele în fundul trăsurei și cu picioarele pe scăunelul dinainte; au ghete la fel; de culoarea gîndacului cu elitre d-un albastru metalic; au ciorapii rose-pâle; este cea din urmă modă.
— Ei, ma chere, zice încet cea trupeșe, privește pe înfumurata, sanchia noastră colegă; n-o vezi? la dreapta, înainte, trece în birja muscalului cu caii vineți. De unde dracu scoate atîtea rochi, mă mir, zău, că nu e a prămatie! e o dobitoacă, o ignorentă! pe scenă zice cilivizație în loc de civilizație; voce n-are; talent n-are…
— Are tot, răspunse cealaltă, dacă nu pentru parter, cel puțin pentru comitetul teatral: e frumoasă.
— Aș, frumoasă! da’ de unde frumoasă? Ce fel frumoasă?… Ma chere, să știi că sunt sigură de izbîndă în stagiunea anului acesta; aseară am vorbit cu d-nu F… cu d-nu V… criticii noștri, amîndoi sunt prea gentili, prea binecrescuți, mi-au dat parola de onoare că mă vor lăuda.
Doi prieteni se plimbă braț la braț pe aleiul din dreapta. Amîndoi au joben și ochelari; amîndoi văd bine. Unul fluieră; altul fumează, izbind cu un baston subțire de abanos pietricelele de pe potecă.
And now, in your familiar doggerel :
The carriages continue undeterred on their regular revolutions : from the first run to the second, and from the second to the first.
A landau goes by with great noise: nothing but silver and princelyi crowns on the beasts in harness, nothing but gold and silk on the beasts in the cab. The ladiesii track it avidly: some round their eyes, others glance from under eyebrow, yet some others twitch their nose.
In front of the Buffet a carriage rests with two actresses of the National Theater inside. Both are dark haired and pale, their faces tired. One is fat, with dead, gelatinous muscles and thick black eyebrows coming together over her nose. Her eyes dart in all directions. The other is thin and sad : art thins one out, especially when not possessed. Both wear Spanish capes and tourbansiii, with corsage on the waist, corsage on the shoulder, corsage on the flounces. They sit with their posteriors inside the carriage and their feet on the stair. They wear the same boots, Scutelleridae metallic blue ; their stockings pale pink - the latest fashion.
— Eh, ma chereiv, says softly the corpulent one, behold our bumptious, taciturnv, can't you see her ? To the right, ahead, goes in the cart of that Muscovitevi with the roan horses. Where the hell does she pull so many dresses from, I wonder, it's not clear merchandisevii. She's a dumbassviii, an ignoremus!ix On the stage she says cilivisation instead of civilisation. She's got no voice, she's got no talent...
— She's got everything, answers the other, if not for the hall then at least for the Theatrical Committee : she's beautiful.
— No way, beautiful! Whence, beautiful ? What kind of beautiful ? My dear, let me tell you I'm certain of success this season. Last night I spoke with Mr. F and Mr. V, our critics. They're both too gentle, too well bred, they gave me their word of honor they'll praise me.
A century ago, like a millenium ago, like today or a century, millenium or billenium thereafter : the ugly, fat broad's strategy is three pronged :
- to "question" and outright deny reality,
- to conspire with whosoever may misuse a position of authority to support her denial,
- and to publicize the denial and the conspiracy of denial as much as possible in any venue which may provide allies, or at the very least repress or downregulate competitors.
This isn't likely to ever change : the blob of shit wants to eat, and reproduce ; and knows exactly, instinctively, how to go about it. Thus do me a favour : whenever you see the blob in action, beat the shit out of it. I don't mean, educatively, beat it so it may learn. It's not ever going to learn anything. I mean beat it into a pulp, beat it to death, kill it slowly and painfully.
No rights for wights! Thank you.———
- Very likely misplaced. Romania's only prince at the time, Karl of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, had barely proclaimed the country's sovereignity a year or two prior. He'd only become king himself in 1881, but never had a son.
On the other hand, there's never been any shortage of Gore Pirgus aspirationally misrepresenting themselves, as princes as well as anything else. Romania takes very well after Italy on this, as well as almost every other rotten, score. [↩]
- English is its usual uselessly pathetic self. Romanian has numerous words to say "ladies", much like it has numerous ways to say "cunt" and "whore". Because they're needed, that's why, no two ladies, cunts or whores are alike. So let's learn a more useful language together :
- Doamna, most properly "lady", is a term of deference without remainder, such as would be applied to the king's wife, for instance, as well as commonly to any married female in a polite setting.
- Cucoana, literally from cucon, the word for a potentate's son. The term drifted under pressure from the one above to denote deference with remainder, usually with regards to the woman's education, taste, wealth or social standing. It's never that she's not pretty enough, young enough, and not usually that she's not modest enough. It's always that she's insufficiently washed, cultivated, her husband's too poor, her voice too loud, such things.
- Coana, no doubt shortened from the above, is usually a vocative of familiarity, such as the house servants of an unpretentious merchant's wife would attach to her. It carries less sting than the above, but only by virtue of being emitted by social inferiors as opposed to social superiors (and perhaps also through being a face to face thing as opposed to a third person thing).
- Jupineasa, originally exactly equivalent to the above, but under its pressure evolved towards housemaid, soubrette.
- Dama, almost exactly equivalent to the American English dame, as used in the vernacular of the gangster era. It can transparently mean whore, or else have "de companie" tailed on to make the matter plain.
- Literally, "cealmale", from Turkish çalma. As part of the art of the artist, the Turkish root principally means theft, swindle (which responds in Romanian as cacealma, which is how you say bluff in poker). But it also means tourban (and... matches!), which works. He's using it to characterize the two, you see, which is how actual literature actually works, among literate people who, allow me to underscore, aren't ESLtards.
If you're curious, the difference between the literate and the ESLtard is that the former understands it is his job to decode the written word, and failure sits upon his head. The ESLtard meanwhile falsely believes it is the text's job to be understood by such a great nobody as himself, and deludes himself in thinking failure somehow sits upon the text, as if it were its fault the ESLtard can't read. The former enjoys the chase through roots of neologisms to fully appreciate the subtext, the latter desires a language made out of maybe four or five words. Because the former's a person and the latter's an orangutan. [↩]
- "My dear", in French. For some reason Romanians of the 1800s sounded like Franco-Nigerian spammers, "Dear" this and that and the other all the time. Must have something to do with pure coincidence and nothing whatsoever to do with anything else. [↩]
- There appears to be a contradiction in terms here, but it's apparence only. The Romanian notion of bumptious has more to do with posturing than with speech. Holding one's head like a modern "feminist" (nose too high, chin too forward) is guaranteed to attract the Romanian epithet of infumurata, literally ensmokened, but more practically "cockroach-headed". [↩]
- Romanian muscal, the word for a cab driver throughout the 1800s. For some reason slavic people (mostly from the Ukraine - Romanians do distinguish the Western slavs such as Serbs or Bulgarians from each other as well as from the Eastern, but do not really distinguish the Eastern from each other, except perhaps for the Gagauzian - otherwise Ukrainian, Georgian, Russian's all the same, and the word is muscal) ended up with a de-facto monopoly of this trade in Bucharest (not exactly rare for ethnic groups to monopolize specific trades, incidentally) and so gave their name to the job. [↩]
- The term pramatie ended up meaning something very much like knave in Romanian, but the original Greek πραμματεια seems to be employed here by the author.
Yes, this means that in order to read cultured Romanian you must be fluent in French, Turkish, Greek and German, as a bare minimum, plus some Hungarian and Russian for good measure. That's what being cultured is! [↩]
- Dobitoc is how you say beast of burden. But if you don't say it about an animal, but about a person, it backfires slightly. Sort-of like calling someone a dumbass. [↩]
- The original is misspelled, a to e, I suspect deliberately. [↩]