A few years ago, among the most brilliant students of our University was a young man named Coriolan Drăgănescu. He was the possessor of a brisk intelligence, a character of bronze, and the temperament of a hero; besides, nature had endowed him with an oratory talent impossible to resist. It goes without saying that all these qualities destined Coriolan to be the head of his colleagues. He was the leader of every student movement. Whenever the generous university youth was no longer able to remain passive in the face of the political circumstances and decided to speak up its mind, Coriolan would bring it together, organise, encourage and enflame it, and led it – to the statue of Michael the Brave. All the way up to that point Coriolan was great, he was beyond comparison; but there, at the statue of the hero of Călugăreni, he was stupendous. His speech would be so shattering that, listening to it, one couldn't help wondering about the indifference of the bronze hero: how came he did not dismount, as Don Juan's commander had, to join in the demonstration? Whenever I heard Coriolan inflaming the generous youth – and I did hear him many a time – I thought that the young man was at least two or three hundred years late for this earthly world. Ah! He should have been born in those times when tyranny was stifling the peoples, when human rights had not yet been proclaimed, when the world was moaning with its neck crushed under the boot of despotism. I wish I had seen those despots facing Coriolan Drăgănescu! No doubt, the proclamation of human rights would not have taken that long. But today? Today when we enjoy so many liberties, when the name of tyranny is not even mentioned anymore, when the work of progress is no longer hindered in any way… Still, even today there are but too many the situations when the public order would be seriously disturbed would it not be for the interference of the generous youth. I will not resort to pompous sentences to give you an image of Coriolan Drăgănescu and of his activity as a tribune of the youth; I will confine myself to quoting a few excerpts from 'The People's Friend', from the times when this young man frequented Michael's statue quite a lot… Let's see. 'The university youth, led as always by the distinguished law student, the illustrious young man, Coriolan Drăgănescu, had set off in a compact group from Cişmigiu, aiming to get to the statue of Michael the Brave, where they wished to bring their homage to the great hero of our nationality at these times of mourning for our country, for our people, for our nation. Although the students were advancing in perfect order, at the corner of the boulevard they were stopped by a cordon of sergeants, secret agents, and brawlers. In vain did Coriolan Drăgănescu, together with every youth, protest in the name of the rights inscribed in the Constitution. Those despicable policemen just wouldn't let them pass. The brave young man Coriolan Drăgănescu then shouted: "Brothers! To Michael the Brave, follow me, to Michael the Brave!" and he tried to advance. The enthusiastic youth tried to follow its brave tribune. Then the brutes started to hit in all directions with their clubs and sword sheaths…' Then: 'Coriolan Drăgănescu, the brave student that was last night at the head of the university youth down the boulevard, was arrested by those police bandits. Locked up in a secret place, he's not allowed to communicate with anybody, not even his parents. It is believed that he's been beaten badly and tortured at the police station; that is why that despicable judge, that shame of the legal profession, whose name we make a point of honour of not mentioning anymore in our columns, will not allow anyone see the young victim of this regime of terror!' And another: 'The government has gone crazy! The bastards would just do their own things! Last night, while the students gathered around the statue of Michael the Brave were listening strain-hearted and souls afloat to the patriotic and magnificent discourse of the young and eminent student Coriolan Drăgănescu on the right people have to protest against the bandit government, the police broke in violently on those who will tomorrow be the pride of our country and, hitting, smashing, and ploughing into them blindly, they made their way to the hero's statue where on one of the steps our orator stood speaking. It was a scene of terror that defies description. Seeing that the agents were trying to apprehend him, the young Coriolan clambered the statue quickly and a moment later was standing on the haunch of the horse crying: "Let everybody be the witness of this new foul deed of the foulest regime!" But the bruits had grabbed his feet. Then the brave young man embraced from behind the body of Michael the Brave clenching at it as hard as he could. The bruits were pulling at his legs so hard that, had he not given up and let go of Michael the Brave, he would have either broken the bronze body of the hero or had his legs pulled out by those wild beasts. No! no! This government has definitely gone berserk.!…' This was Coriolan Drăgănescu… And in spite of this fervent activity as a political tribune he did not, but very little, neglect his studies. He constantly attended the courses of the University for seven or eight years, and not little was the joy of his parents, relatives, and numerous friends when one day they could read in 'The People's Friend' the following note under the latest news: 'It is with great pleasure that we have found out the young Coriolan Drăgănescu, the brilliant student of our University, has successfully defended his graduation thesis in law on "Public Order in the ModernState". The brilliant young man was enthusiastically congratulated by the members of the commission. In our turn, we consider it our duty to congratulate him too, wishing him the wonderful career that his talents undoubtedly entitle him to.' Degree in law! Brilliant young man! Irresistible orator! Great character! Generous ideas!… No doubt, I thought, here we have a citizen with a great future ahead of him. wonderful career!… I had always kept an eye on the brilliant young man. His achievements as a student were so noisy that hardly any day passed without my hearing, reading, or speaking about this beautiful name, Coriolan Drăgănescu! But, as luck would sometimes have it, after I'd read about his graduation thesis, I gradually began to forget about the name that had been so famous. And natural it was too that I should do that: I was forgetting it because I was no longer coming across it all the time. At some point I had long forgotten it entirely. The times were murky. Acute political matters; financial, agricultural, and economical crises; more or less serious breaches of the fundamental pact – all these had irritated the public opinion a lot. The students were fuming and decided to demonstrate. I wonder what's happened today at Michael the Brave's statue? Let's see. I take 'The People's Friend' and read: 'They have gone past the limits of infamy! Citizens, take a stand! The regime has gone mad! What these criminals have done today goes beyond anything possibly imaginable from such lawless and Godless creatures! The students were tortured, crashed, butchered! The brutes of the regime had order to shoot and they did! It was horrible and dirty! The blood of the generous Romanian youth has reddened the white marble on which stands the statue of the greatest Romanian hero! But they should be wary, these criminals, for the hour of punishment is near! The killers of the youth are known and will not be able to shun responsibility for there's no hiding place for them… We particularly address the shameless police inspector, the despicable lowlife, the conscience-less bastard, the wild beast and cannibal that bears the disgusting name of Coriolan Drăg…'

by I. L. Caragiale (1852-1912)