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Th, right ^Tramlathn U unrvti. ^ ^'^'^^^ ^^ GoOglc 


• •• .• 

•.• ^ •-• ? •• • • • 


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The journeys, of which an account is given in these 
volumes, were made in the summers of 1853, 1861, and 
1865. The first of these in order of time has been 
placed last in order of narration, as it is best suited to 
supplement the information given in the other two. 

It has been my endeavour to compress what I have to 
say into a moderately narrow compass, excluding for 
the most part matters merely personal, together with the 
ordinary features of Eastern life and daily incidents of 
travel, with which most persons are by this time ac- 
quainted At the same time I have discussed, to the 
best of my ability, the various questions — historical, 
antiquarian, and topographical — which such a tour 
naturally suggests, and have illustrated them by such 
information as I have been able to obtain. 

Turkey is at present the least known of all the coun- 
tries of Europe, yet few contain so much to reward the 
trouble of investigation. I shall be glad if I succeed in 
persuading any persons, who are desirous of leaving the 
beaten track of tourists, that there are no insuperable 

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vi Preface. 

difficulties in the way of travelling in the interior, even 
during the summer months. But in any case I shall be 
amply satisfied, if I am able to impart to my readers a 
fraction of the pleasure which the original tours fur- 
nished to myself. 

Oxford^ March lo, 1869. 

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Departure firom Constantinople— The Hellespont— The Plain of Troy — 
Bnnarbashi — An Earthquake — A wealthy Armenian — Rivers of 
Greece and Asia Minor — Beyramitch — Eyjilar — Guards and Robbers 
— The Yuruk — Night Bivouac — Ascent of the Mountain — View 
from the Simmiit — Its Flora — Descent to Turcoman Encampment — 
Source of the Scamander — Return to Bunarbashi Page i 



The Springs at Bunarbashi — Mode of treating the Subject — Accuracy of 
Homeric epithets and descriptions — Topography of the Iliad — The 
Springs near Troy — Correspondence with those at Bimarbashi — The 
Bali-dagh — Its Tumuli — View from it — Floods of the Mendere — 
Site of Troy — The Ileian Plain — Excavations on the Bali-dagh — 
Batieia — Atchi-keui — The Hanai-Tepe — Ilium Novum — Return to 
the Dardanelles 22 



Departure for Mount Athos — Thasos — Cavalla — The Holy Mountain 
— General Description — Vegetation, Scenery, and Climate — Rigorous 
Fast— Monastery of Vatopedi — Its Opulence — School of Eugenius 
Bulgaris — Village of Caryes — Exclusion of Females — ^The Holy 
Synod — Monastic Dispute — Phases of Monastic Life — Revenues — 
Numbers — Races — Pantocratoros — A Russian Dignitary— The Sand- 
bath 50 

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viii Contents of Vol. L 


MOUNT ATHOS {continued). 

Monastery of Iveron — Description of it — The central Church — Byzantine 
Pictures — The Refectory — The Library— Miraculous Picture — Theory 
of Eastern Monastic Life — Occupations of the Monks — Their love of 
tranquillity — Fallmerayer influenced by it — Mysticism — Monastery 
of Philotheu — Caracalla — The Lavra — Relics and Jewellery — Retreat of 
** the Forerunner" — A Conversation on Canals — A Painter — Legends 
of the Peak — Ascent to the Summit — Festival of the Transfiguration 

— Light of Tajjor Page 76 


MOUNT ATHOS {cofttinued). 

Descent to the Sketeof St Anne — St. Paul's — A Monastic meal — St. 
Dionysius — St Gregor/s — Simopetra — Russians and Greeks — 
Xeropotamu — Ancient diamonds — Xenophu — Docheiareiu — ^A Hermit 

— Constamonitu — Monastic group — Zographu — Chilandari — The 
Monks* views of other Churches 107 


MOUNT ATHOS {continued). 

Canal of Xerxes — Sphigmenu — The Central Ridge — The Russian Mo- 
nastery — Estimate of the Monastic System — The future of the Holy 
Mountain — History of the Conmiunity — Earliest Period — Time of 
the Conmeni — Attack by the Latins — Time of the Palaeologi — Canta- 
cuzene — Theological Movements — Submission to the Turks — Later 
History .. .. .. 127 



Salonica — Its Triumphal Arches — Inscription — Population and History 
— The Egnatian Way— Roads in Turkey — The Vardar— Khans— 
Site of Pella— Yenidj^ — Vodena— Its Beautiful Situation — The 
Ancient Edessa — Village and Lake of Ostrovo — Subterranean Chan- 
nels* — Gumitzovo — Pigs in Turkey — Nidj^ and Peristeri — Approach 
to Monastir 143 

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Contents of Vol. I. ix 



Monastir — Its Importance — Massacre of the Albanian Be3rs — Monastery 
of Bukova — Plain of Monastir — L^end of the Temenidae — Turkish 
Outrages — The Bulgarians — Their History — Bulgarian Church Move- 
ment — Monastir to Ochrida — Lake of Presba — Lake of Ochrida — 
The City — Ancient Statue and Crucifix — Legend of St Clement — 
Cyril and Methodius — Statues and Pictures Page i66 



The Menzil — Primitive Boats -^ The Drin at Struga — Roman Milestone 

— Bulgarian School — Kukus — Wild Mountain Road — Elbassan — 
Concealed Treasures — lUtreatment of Women — Value set on Water — 
The Albanians — Their Origin — Character — Riddles and Superstitions 

— Ghegs and Tosks — Albanian Heroes — History of Scanderbeg — 
Ballad on his Death 195 



Bent — Mount Tomohr — Local Chieftains — Castle of Berat — Siege 
under Scanderbeg — Malaria Fever — A Mountain Residence — Sla- 
vonic Names — Pass of Glava — The Viosa — Tepelen — Ali Pasha's 
Palace — Argyro-Castro — Albanians and Greeks — Pass of Mount 
Sopoti — Delvino — River Vistritza — Lake of Butrinto — Departure for 
Corfu 218 



Journey in 1865 — Coast of Dalmatia — Bocche di Cattaro — Austrian 
Defences — Views of the Black Mountain — Cattaro — The Scala — 
Approach to Montenegro — Ni^gush — Laborious Agriculture — Monte- 
n^rin Dress — Destruction of Forests — Mount Lovchen — Plain of 
Cetinj^ — History of Montenegro — The Vladika or Prince-Bishop — 
Sicilian Vespers of Montenegro — Epbode of Stephen the Little — • The 
Two Last Vladikas 234 

VOL. I. b 

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Contents of Vol L 

MONTENEGRO (continued), 

Cetinj^ — Political Constitution of the Country — Population and Revenue 
—Need of a Port— The Monastery— Right of Asylum— The Archi- 
mandrite and Bishop — The Montenegrin Church — Ecclesiastical Views 
— Feeling of the People towards England — Piesmas or National Songs 
— Sitting of the Senate — The Credit Mobilier— Prince Nicolas — 
Mirkho — Descent to Rieka — Estimate of the Montenegrins — Their 
Political Importance — Atrocious Murder — Lake of Scodra — Fishery 
—Pelicans Page 253 



Bazaars and City of Scodra — Vendetta — Turkish Toleration — Turks and 
Montenegrins — Ismael Pasha — The Castle — View from it — Sieges — 
Departure for the Mirdita — The Drin — First Impressions of the Mir- 
dita — Night-bivouac — Mirdite Dress — Extensive Oak-forests — The 
Priest of St. George — Religious Views of the People — Their Fana- 
ticism — Rivers of the Country — Arrival at Orosch 280 

THE MIRDITA (continued). 

The Mirdite Prince — History of his Family — Political Constitution of the 
Mirdita — Administration of Justice — Fraternal Friendships — Ravages 
of the Vendetta — The Prince's Hospitality — Derivation of the name 
Mirdite — Excursion to the Monte Santo — View from it — Topography 
of the Country — Capture of Wives — McLennan on * Piinitive 
Marriage * — Prevalence of the Custom of Exogamy — Bride-radng 
— Mirdite Wives Mahometans 302 



Departure fix>m Orosch — A Native Guide — The Bertiscus Mountains— 
Mirdite Shepherds* Encampment — Mode of Divination — Junction of 
Black and White Drin — A Nocturnal Visitor— Prisrend — The Kaima- 
kam — Turkish Administration — The Castle — View from it — Churches 
— Visit of Dr. Barth — The Roman Catholic Archbishop — Popula- 
tion — Concealed Christians — Their Origin, History, and Present Con- 
dition 327 

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Contents of Vol, L xi 



The Scardus Pass — Its Flora — View from the Summit — Calcandele — 
The Khanji and the Mudir — Fonner Condition of the Country — Here- 
ditary Pashas — The Tettovo -— Mount Liubatrin — The Vardar — 
Uskiub — Its History — General Geography of the Country — District 
East of Scardus — District West of Scardus — The Kurschumli-khan 
— Ancient Clock-tower — Justinian's Aqueduct — Circassian Colony. 

Page 350 



Justinian's Birthplace — Kiuprili — Unexplored Route to Salonica — The 
Site of Stobi — Negotin — Banja — Demirkapu or Iron Gate of the 
Vardar — Boats Shooting the Rapids — Traffic to Perlepe — Lower 
Course of the River — Ardjen Lake — Avret Hissar — Arrival at Salo- 
nica — Railway Route across Turkey — Lines to India — Migrations of 
Labourers — Commercial Treaty with England — The Eastern Ques- 
tion — Greek and Slavonic Races — Future Prospects of Turkey . . 371 

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Monastery of Simopetra (Mount Athos) Frontispiece. 

Map of the Plain of Troy p. 23 

Map of Mount Athos P* 53 

Monastery of Iveron (Mount Athos) to face -^.'jd 

Orosch ; residence of the Mirdite Prince to/ace\t.yx> 

Map of the Highlands of Turkey at end of volume. 

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Departure from Constantinople — The Hellespont — The Plain of Troy — 
Bunarbashi — An Earthquake — A wealthy Armenian — Rivers of 
Greece and Asia Minor — Beyramitch — Evjilar — Guards and Robbers 
— The Yuruk — Night Bivouac — Ascent of the Mountain — View 
from the Summit — Its Flora — Descent to Turcoman Encampment — 
Source of the Scamander — Return to Bunarbashi. 

On the evening^ of the last day of July, 1861, I left Con- 
stantinople by one of the Austrian Lloyd's steamers, in 
company with an old travelling companion, Mr. Crowdef, 
bound in the first instance for the Dardanelles and the 
Plains of Troy. We had spent the three previous weeks 
partly at the Turkish capital, and partly at the delightful 
old Ottoman city of Brusa in Asia Minor, in making pre- 
parations for a succession of journeys into the interior, and 
acclimatising ourselves in some degree to the heat of a 
southern summer, a precaution which is almost necessary 
^ after a rapid transition from a northgdi climate. Constan- 
tinople can noy be^ reached in a week from England by 
two different routes. Persons who are not averse to a sea 
voyage can take the express French steamers from Mar- 
seilles, which only stop at Messina and Athens on the 

VOL. I. B 

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A ' • .< •/• :'•/:• • • ••• ^^nt Ida. Chap. I. 

way; while those who prefer a land route have the option 
of going by Vienna and the Danube, from the lower course 
of which river a line of railway, crossing the base of the 
Dobrudscha, leads to Kustendji on the Black Sea ; from 
that point there is only a short sea passage to the 
capital. Our travelling servant, whose name, as he 
accompanied us on two separate occasions, I will men- 
tion once for all at starting, was George Jacouthis, a 
Greek of Constantinople, and the best dragoman I have 
ever met with. His knowledge of Eastern languages 
was excellent, and his versatility in adapting himself to 
the emergencies of rough travelling in countries wholly 
unknown to him, and his freedom from any desire to 
take the lead or make difficulties, were qualities such 
as one seldom finds in men of his occupation. Besides 
this, he possessed unfailing good humour, and, what is 
rarer still, the most scrupulous honesty. To him we 
have good reason to ascribe much of the comfort which 
we enjoyed on our expeditions. 

On the 1st of August we landed at the town of the 
Dardanelles, which lies on the Asiatic side, about half 
way down the strait. Our first care was to procure 
horses, for, as there are no roads in Turkey, but only 
paths and tracks, all the travelling has to be performed 
on horseback. By the assistance of Mr. Frederic Calvert, 
who at that time was the English consul, we obtained 
the number we required from one of the carriers of the 
country, who are usually willing to enter into an arrange- 
ment of this kind, as it is more profitable than their 
ordinary occupation of transporting merchandizes In 
such cases the horses are accompanied either by the 
owner himself, or by some person employed by him. 
Our baggage was of the lightest description. In addi- 
tion to railway rugs to sleep on, and bags to serve as a 

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Chap. I. ' The Hellespont. 

protection against vermin at night, we carried only a few 
knives, forks, and tin plates, together with a supply of 
coffee, sugar, and brandy, but nothing else except clothes 
and books ; in this way all our belongings could easily be 
strapped on one horse. 

We started in the afternoon of the same day, and rode 
along the coast under the sandy hills, which, on the 
Asiatic as well as the European side, border the winding 
waters of the Hellespont The strangeness of the ap- 
pearance of this "ocean stream" is not diminished by a 
nearer acquaintance, forming as it does so narrow, and 
apparently so slight, a boundary between two gfreat con- 
tinents. Yet in reality it has been a most effectual 
barrier to prevent communication between them. Even 
now, the Slavonic tribes, which form the bulk of the 
population of European Turkey, are nowhere foimd in 
Asia ; nor have the Turcomans and other nomad races^ 
which inhabit the mountains of Asia Minor, at any point 
penetrated into Europe. Still, it is in reality but a salt- 
water river ; and that it was regarded as such in ancient 
times is clear from the epithet " broad " which is applied 
to it by classical writers, and which would be unsuitable 
if it was conceived of as a sea. 

The sun was setting when we came in sight of the open 
sea. The splendid forms of Imbros and Samothrace 
were standing out against the orange light; but we 
looked in vain for Athos in the far west, though we knew 
that it ought to be visible when the daylight was not 
too bright, from having seen it on a former visit from the 
hills above. At last, when the twilight was far advanced, 
half an hour after sunset, its strange conical peak ap- 
peared above the waters, like an effect in a diorama, and 
continued to be distinctly seen until night came on. It 
is here between 90 and 100 miles off. It was dark when 

B 2 

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Mount Ida. Chap. I, 

we reached the Plains of Troy, across which we had to 
find our way as best we could, passing here and there 
over narrow wooden bridges which span a number of 
estuaries and lagoons ; the furthest of these is at the 
mouth of the Mendere, the principal river of the plain, 
the ancient Scamander. Late at night we arrived at the 
village of Yenishehr, the Sigeum of classical times, which 
stands on a hill at the north-west angle of the plain, 
overlooking the iEgean. Here we were lodged at the 
house of a Greek priest called Hadji Papas, or the " Pil- 
grim Father," for the name Hadji, which properly belongs 
to Mahometan pilgfrims to Mecca, is applied by the 
Christians to those of their body who have visited Jeru- 

From this place is seen the whole of the Trojan plain, 
which is seven miles in length from north to south, and 
varies from two to three in breadth, enclosed on the two 
sides by low ranges of hills, on which are numerous 
tumuli. Instead of being a green swamp, as it is during 
the winter and early spring, it had now a brown, or 
rather, when seen from a distance, a golden hue, from the 
crops having been lately removed ; in contrast to which 
the serpentine course of the Mendere formed a conspi- 
cuous object, from the line, 'of willow trees by which its 
banks are shaded. On the opposite side appeared the 
site of Ilium Novum, the form of an ancient theatre, 
excavated in the slope of the hill, being distinctly visible. 
To the south-east, at a distance of 30 miles in a direct 
line, the view is bounded by the heights of Mount Ida, 
which are clearly seen from all the lower parts of the 
plain, overtopping the nearer mountains. Towards the 
Hellespont appeared the shining surfaces of the lagoons 
which we had crossed the night before, and the Turkish 
castle of Kumkaleh, one of the two which guard the 

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Chap. I. The Plain of Troy. 5 

entrance of the strait on the European and Asiatic shore 
respectively. On the slope of the hill of Yenishehr, 
where it begins to sink down towards the village of 
Kumkaleh, are the two tumuli of Achilles and Patroclus ; 
or rather, perhaps, the second is that of Antilochus, for it 
would seem that the ashes of Achilles and Patroclus 
were ultimately deposited in the same tomb.* Their 
mound is described by Homer as serving for a landmark 
to sailors when passing the headland.* None of these 
objects were new to us, for we had both of us explored 
the plains eight years before ; on this occasion our object 
was to examine more minutely some points in connec- 
tion with the topography of the district, and to penetrate 
further into the interior. 

The following morning we proceeded along the foot of 
the western range of hills in the direction of Bunarbashi, 
the village which lies at the head of the plain. The 
peasants whom we passed were mostly employed in 
threshing, the operation being performed by cattle 
drawing a hurdle on which a man was standing. It was 
easy to distinguish a Greek and a Turkish threshing- 
floor. In the latter everything was transacted with a 
dignified solemnity, while, on the other hand, the lively 
Greeks might be seen poking fun at one another with a 
strong sense of enjoyment. When we had ridden about 
halfway we crossed the river of Bunarbashi, a full and 
clear, though narrow, stream, which at one period must 
have been a tributary of the Mendere (for the old 
channel is traceable which joined the two), but now flows 
into Besika Bay through an artificial cutting in the hills. 
It was partly, I believe, in consequence of the nearness 
of this, which, imlike so many of the rivers of the iEgean, 

> Horn. Od. xxiv. 76 folU • Ibid. 82 foil. 

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Mount Ida. Chap. I- 

suffers no diminution of its supply of water during the 
summer months, that the neighbouring harbour — ^now, as 
of old, "a treacherous station for ships"' — ^was chosen 
for the allied fleets in the summer of 1853, before the 
commencement of the Russian war. We followed it up 
to its source at Bunarbashi, where it gushes out from a 
number of springs in the limestone rocks in the midst of 
a plantation of willows, fig-trees, and agnus castus bushes. 
This position is one of considerable importance in con- 
nection with the topography of Troy ; but we will not 
enter on that subject at present, as it may be more con- 
venient to defer it until after our return from Mount 

At the principal house in this village we were enter- 
tained by a Greek, who farmed a considerable amount of 
ground in the neighbourhood. He was an intelligent 
man ; and his son, he told me, was at a "higher school" 
at the Dardanelles — one of the many excellent schools 
which are found in those towns of Turkey where the 
Greeks are congregated : there he was taught modem 
languages as well as ancient Greek. As I was sitting on 
the divan in one of the upper rooms, suddenly the house 
was violently shaken, and there was a sound of crackmg 
and breaking in the lower story. "What is that!" I 
exclaimed. "It is an earthquake," he replied, quite 
quietly, like one accustomed to it ; and then added that 
they were not uncommon in those parts, and that the 
great shock which destroyed a portion of the city of 
Brusa in 1855 had been felt there. It is to the frequent 
occurrence of these throughout Greece and Asia Minor, 
both in ancient and modem times, that the extraordinary 
disappearance of the old temples is for the most part to* 

> " Stado malefida carinia^" Virg., i£m ii. 23. 

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Chap. I. An Earthquake. 

be Teferred. No doubt the hand of man has had much 
to do with the work of destruction, as squared blocks of 
stone are too tempting objects to be spared in a country 
where quarrying is almost unknown ; but this cause 
would not be sufficient in itself to explain the downfall of 
so many massive buildings, especially in remote parts 
of the country.* 

On the occasion of our former visit, in 1853, we passed 
a night at this farm, at which time it was occupied by an 
Armenian named Meyerditch. This man's subsequent 
history shows that, though in the remoter parts of Turkey 
life and property are insecure, yet in the more favoured 
districts, and where European consuls are able to exercise 
supervision, an intelligent and active man may rise 
rapidly. We found him studying a French and Armenian 
grammar, in hopes of having some commercial transac- 
tions with the allied fleets, which were then lying together 
in the neighbouring harbour. This augured well for his 
future prospects; and on inquiring for him eight years 
afterwards, we found that he had become quite a gfreat 
man, had travelled in Syria, and was the proprietor of 
several farms about ten miles off. At one of these we 
stopped on our return from Ida, and witnessed the curious 
sight of thirty Turkish women employed as labourers to 
shell and pound the Valonia acorns, working and chat- 
tering through their close veils, under the supervision of 
a taskmaster. The owner himself was absent at Smyrna^ 
where he had gone to be married, having no doubt made 
a good match among the far-famed ladies of that city« 
Anything relating to the Armenians is interesting, because 
from their wealth and ability they are likely to have a 
considerable share in deciding the Eastern question. So 

^ Of Laconia in particular Strabo says, ci^o-cioroy ^ Aoucapyiic^. (viii. 5, 

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8 Mount Ida. * ^ Chap. I. 

great is their national vitality and the hold their religion 
has upon them, that Haxthausen, in his ' Transcaucasia/ 
has given it as his opinion that, dispersed as they are 
throughout the whole of Asia, it is their mission to over- 
power Mahometanism by the united power of Christianity 
and civilisation. And as regards their capacity for busi- 
ness, Mr. Curzon has wittily remarked, that while it 
takes four Turks to cheat one Frank, two Franks to 
cheat one Greek, and two Greeks to cheat one Jew, 
it takes six Jews to cheat one Armenian. In most points 
their character is a great contrast to that of the Greeks. 
One of the American missionaries at Constantinople, who 
had educated a great number of young men of both 
nations, told me that he found the Greek mind the better 
of the two for the study of scientific subjects, and fonder 
of them ; but that the Armenian mind was far deeper 
and soberer, and suited to embrace moral and religious 
truth. Some Armenians read (and understand) Butler's 

It has been remarked of the principal rivers of Greece 
and Asia Minor that there is a striking resemblance in 
the general features of their courses. Each of them rises 
in a lofty mountain range opposite the coast, and from 
thence descends into an inland plain bounded at the sides 
by transverse spurs, which run off from the main chain. 
At the lower extremity of this, where the mountains close 
in, the river passes by a narrow gorge into another plajn, 
through which it flows into the sea. This is exactly the 
case with the Mendere. Rising in Mount Ida, which 
runs from west to east, facing the Hellespont, it flows 
successively through the plain of Beyramitch and the 
Trojan plain, which are separated from one another by a 
confined valley, several miles in length, at the northern 
termination of which stands the hill of Bunarbashl It 

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Chap. I. Rivers. 9 

vas through this valley that the first part of our route 
lay on the way to Mount Ida. In order to reach it, we 
had to cross the low ridge which connects the hill of 
Bunarbashi with the chain to the west ; on descending 
from which we passed over a small tract of fertile ground^ 
wlich those who have fixed the site of Troy on the 
neighbouring height have regarded as the Ileian plain.* 
The principal vegetation here, as in all the more level 
pans of the surrounding district, is the Valonia oak (the 
ancient /SoXow^), the husk of the acorn of which is used 
in tanning, and is exported from hence in considerable 
quantities. The sides of the river are fringed with plane- 
trees, and the sandy hills, which close in the valley, are 
covered with pines. Owing to the narrowness of its bed^ 
the Mendere in the winter time, when the floods come 
down from Mount Ida, often rises to a great height above 
its banks. The valley continues to wind with pretty 
scenery for some ten miles, until the upper plain is 
reached ; at the western end of which, on a tributary of 
the Mendere, is the town of Enaeh, the ancient Neandria. 
We entered it about nightfall, passing a fine cypress- 
grove and a burial-ground on the way, and took up our 
quarters at the house of a hospitable Armenian, to whom 
we had an introduction. 

The next morning we rode, in four hours, along the 
plain to. Beyfamitch, the chief town of the district and 
the residence of Achmet Bey, the governor. The gfround 
was in parts left untilled, but where it was cultivated the 
crops were fine, and the farming seemed better than in 
most parts of Turkey. On the way we met strings of 
camels, bringing down the produce of the interior to the 
sea : over our heads large flights of storks were wheeling 

* IL xxl 558. 

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lO Mount Ida. Chap. I. 

about in the air. The heat at this time was very gfreat 
at midday, but was modified by a refreshing breeze from 
the north-east — ^the same, in all probability, which blows 
down the Bosphorus with little intermission during the 
summer months, and gives employment to the number of 
tug-steamers which ply between the sea of Marmora and 
the Black Sea. The governor, at whose house we made 
our midday halt, was a portly person dressed in Euro- 
pean costume, which looked out of place in the midst of 
his gaily attired guards. He had a depressed look, and 
I have since heard that, like so many of the Turkish 
upper class, he is a great drunkard ; but to an English- 
man he may fairly assume a romantic aspect, as he is 
gjreat-grandson of Byron's Giaffir in the 'Bride of Abydos,' 
who was governor of the Dardanelles. When, however, 
he was once asked by an English acquaintance whether 
he had had a great-aunt called Zuleika, he reflected a 
little, then shook his head vacantly, and replied, '* Allah 
knows ! " 

The town of Beyramitch, the population of which is 
principally Turkish, is a place of some size, prettily 
situated on a hill-side at the edge of the plain, and sur- 
mounted by a conspicuous gfrove of superb pine-trees, 
which here, as well as in other places in the neighbour- 
hood, serve instead of cypresses to mark the cemeteries, 
the graves being distinguished by ovals of stones. From 
this place to Eyjilar, which was to be our starting-point 
for the ascent of Ida, the usual route lies through the 
plain ; but, as it was circuitous, in consequence of the pro- 
jecting spurs which are here thrown out by the moun- 
tain, we preferred to follow a less frequented track over 
the hills. After a light repast on stewed cucumbers and 
cold maccaroni pancakes, which made us regret the more 
liberal hospitality of our humbler entertainers, we started 

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Chap. I. Beyramitch — Evjilar. 1 1 

again on our way in the midst of magnificent scenery, 
the whole range of Ida being displayed on our right, 
stretching from east to west in a long line of wooded 
heights of beautiful form, broken only here and there by 
transverse buttresses. When we had proceeded some dis- 
tance we missed our path, and, in the course of our 
wanderings among the hills, came upon an encampment 
of Turcomans with their flocks, who were living in huts 
composed of branches and leaves. Ultimately, however, 
we arrived before sunset at our destination, Evjilar, a 
small Turkish village, composed of rude cottages, on the 
banks of the Mendere. 

The river had changed considerably in appearance 
since we last saw it near Enaeh. Instead of being a 
broad and tranquil piece of water, it had now all the 
characteristics of a Devonshire trout-stream, including 
among them the excellent small trout which abound in 
it; indeed, when we looked along its glancing waters, 
rippling among the rocks, we might easily have fancied 
ourselves in that county of England, had it not been for 
the Oriental plane-trees by which it is shaded. Just 
below the village is a rustic wooden bridge, the view 
from which is exquisitely romantic Looking up the 
confined valley in which the crystal river flows, you see 
the picturesque wooded spurs which descend on either 
side of it from the main chain, beyond which rises the 
great mountain itself, clothed with dark forests until 
within a thousand feet of the summit, which rises bold 
and bare, a mass of grey limestone surmounting all. 

The house in which we were lodged was a mill belong- 
ing to an old Turk, close to the stream, and commanding 
a view of the place where the young men of the village 
came to fetch water. It was in itself a refreshing sight 
to see the luxurious enjoyment with which they waded 

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12 Mount Ida. Chap. I. 

into the river after depositing their pitchers on the bank, 
then performed their ablutions, took a long draught, and 
at last leisurely rinsed and filled their vessels, as if the 
whole process were too delightful to be carelessly hurried 
over. For ourselves, however, we were glad to find that 
the water was deep enough for bathing — 

" Beneath the plane-tree's shade, 

Whence flows the glittering stream " — 

though swimming was hardly practicable. On the even- 
ing of our arrival, that we might have provisions for our 
mountain-excursion, we bought a kid for about four 
shillings, and, as it was skinned in our presence, we had 
an opportunity of seeing the way in which the operation 
is performed in these countries. After its throat had 
been cut, an incision was made in one of the hind legs, to 
which the operator applied his mouth and blew until the 
whole carcase was inflated beneath the skin, after which 
the rest of the process was accomplished with perfect 

We found that the friendly Bey had sent after us two 
guards and a cavass, or armed attendant (something 
between a footman and a gendarme), to serve as an 
escort on the mountain. This move was not to our 
liking, as we had found by previous experience that such 
gentry are an expense and an impediment, and in case 
of any real danger they are certain to leave you in the 
lurch. Accordingly, we did not hesitate long between 
politeness and expediency, but dismissed two of them ; 
retaining one, whom we discovered to be well acquainted 
with the mountain paths, to serve as a guide. Sub- 
sequently, however, we were told by a competent local 
authority that it would have been wiser to take them, as 
there are generally several gangs of robbers on Mount 

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Chap. I. Guards — Robbers. 13 

Ida — ^men who have run away from the conscription, or 
deserted from the Turkish army, and find the Hfe of an 
outlaw the best suited to their circumstances — and that 
though the guard would have been no protection in case 
of falling in with them, yet, if you are accompanied by 
an escort when you are robbed, you can claim compen- 
sation from the authorities. But even then the delay 
involved in this process is such as few travellers can 

Between two and three o'clock the next afternoon we 
started to ascend the mountain. Our guide was a middle- 
aged Turk, a short but strong and active man, who 
carried in his belt a magazine of small arms — ^yataghans, 
pistols, and other weapons. We followed the eastern- 
most of the two streams into which the river divides, and 
when we reached the foot of Ida began to mount 
gradually by a sloping path overlooking the most lovely 
dells imaginable, in the midst of a mixed vegetation of 
plane, oak, chestnut, fir, pine, alder, and arbutus. In one 
of these glades we found a tribe of Yuruk with their 
flocks. This race and the Turcomans are remains of the 
nomads by whom Asia Minor was occupied at a period 
anterior perhaps to the rise of the Ottomans. The two 
races are distinct ; for, though the contrary of this has 
been stated,' yet the Osmanlis in the neighbourhood of 
the Dardanelles declare that they will not intermarry 
with one another, and have other marked points of 
difference. Thus the Yuruk are Mahometans, while the 
Turcomans are thought to have no religion, or, if they 
have any, it is a mystery, and they are reported to keep 

• E,g,y in the article Turkey in the * Encyclopaedia Britannica.* It has 
also been attempted to show that Yuruk and Turk are the same name, 
an early form of which is supposed to be found in the lyrcae, a hunting 
tribe mentioned by Herodotus ; but this is improbable on every ground. 

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14 Mount Ida. Chap. I. 

the Jewish Sabbath. Again, the Yuruk are wholly- 
pastoral ; but the Turcomans, in addition to the care of 
their flocks, employ themselves in cutting wood and 
collecting pitch, which they sell In many parts of these 
forests we observed trees which were black and charred, 
and on inquiry we learned that they are fired in order to 
extract the pitch from them. The pitch of Ida was 
famous also in ancient times.'' The natives of these 
parts, too, are fond, we were told, of burning the trees for 
amusement, as a resinous pine serves admirably for a 
firework. It is a wonder that great conflagrations do 
not arise from time to time from this cause when the 
woods are dry, but we could not discover traces of any 
on a large scale.* 

One object which we had in view, when we started on 
our expedition, was to visit the sources of the Scamander, 
which were said to flow from a fine cavern on the moun- 
tain side. Accordingly our guide, who had been pro- 
perly instructed on this subject, conducted us up a side 
valley, near the spot where we had seen the Yuruk, to 
the mouth of a cavern, below which flowed one of the 
tributaries of the stream. Here he drew his yataghan, 
and after cleaving a pine branch into a number of small 
pieces, in a short time constructed a torch, which he 
lighted, and entered the cave. We followed him for some 
distance, crawling along with difficulty, up and down, 
through a narrow passage in the limestone rock, which 
was honeycombed by the action of water. However, 
when we had proceeded some 60 feet, finding it led to 

^ " Idsas pices," Virg. Georg. iii. 45a 

* That this used to happen in ancient times is evident from the Homeric 
simile: — 

00/>cof 4p Kopwftfs, %KoBw U re 4>a(ycrcu a^. — ^IL ii. 455, 6. 

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Chap. I. The Scamander. 1$ 

nothing, we returned somewhat disconsolate, feeling that 
we had explored a curious cavern, but not the source of 
the Scamander. It bears the name of "the Lidja," Le, 
''the refuge," being so called apparently from its suitable- 
ness for a place of concealment Persons who have tra- 
velled in the desert will remember that this name (for it 
is an Arabic word imported into Turkish) belongs also to 
the sacred valley in Sinai, in which is the " rock of Moses." 
No reason has been assigned, as far as I know, why it 
should have been attached to that place, but it may have 
been from its having at one period afforded shelter to 
numerous pilgrims.* 

From this point we proceeded to mount on foot, 
driving our horses with difficulty before us, as in many 
places there was no track, and the wood was tangled or 
obstructed by felled trees. Towards sunset we emerged 
from the forest on to the open face of the mountain, com- 
manding an extensive view towards the north ; and after 
making our way along this for some distance, selected a 
sheltered place for our bivouac, by the side of a tiny 
spring among the trees a little below the limit of v^eta- 
tion. There are numerous and copious sources of water 
about the lower slopes of " many-fountained " Ida, but in 
these upper regions there are remarkably few. We sub- 
sequently found a fine spring between our resting-place 
and the summit, but its position was too exposed to 
allow of our camping near it Our dragoman and the 
Turkish guide set to work at once to pile logs of wood 
and trunks of trees together, and made a huge bonfire, 
as well to keep off the cold as to scare the jackals and 
other unwelcome visitors, for this mountain is still what 
Homer described it, the "mother of wild beasts." That 

• See Ritter's 'Erdkunde,' xiv. p. 603. 

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i6 Mount Ida. Ckap. I. 

there is abundance of game in these woods is shown by 
the name of the place from which we started, Evjilar, 
which signifies " the hunter's village.** We all partook of 
supper off the kid, which had been roasted whole before 
our departure, and then composed ourselves to sleep 
round the fire. There was bright starlight, but no moon. 
On the Greek festival of the prophet Elijah, to whom the 
summits of many of the Greek mountains are dedicated,*® 
a large number of people from the neighbouring villages, 
sometimes as many as 300, pass the night on the moun- 
tain-side, and afterwards have service on the top. The 
modern Greeks, like their heathen forefathers, are every- 
where fond of consecrating high peaks ; but Ida has 
something of a sacred character about it, for it is men- 
tioned by the mediaeval Byzantine writers, together with 
Athos and Olympus, as having had in those times a 
number of monasteries and cells built along its sides. 
The ruins of some of these remained until the beginning 
of the present century. 

The spreading daylight at last warned us that we must 
be up and on our way to the summit. When we emerged 
from among the firs we commenced the steep ascent over 
bare slopes and broken fragments of rock, and after an 
hour's climbing reached "topmost Gargarus," which is 
5750 feet high,** but commands from its position a more 

** This circumstance is usually explained by the supposition, that in con- 
sequence of the great sacrifice on Mount Carmel, Elijah came to be regarded 
in the Greek Church as a patron of high places. Independently of this, 
when we consider the way in which heathen names and customs were 
adapted to Christian purposes in early times, it is far from improbable that 
from the similarity of names Elias was made to take the place of the Greek 
Helios, who possessed sanctuaries on many of the Greek mountains. (Set 
Wachsmuth, *Das alte Griechenland im neuen,' p. 23.) 

** This measurement is taken from the Admiralty Chart, the most trust- 
worthy authority. It is given by Choiseul Gouffier as 775 toises, />., 4650 
Frendi feet, or 5084 English feet. In Smith's * Dictionary of Geography 

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Chap. I. Ascent of the Mountain. 17 

than proportionately fine prospect We had mounted at 
a good pace, but the sun was before us, and had risen 
half an hour when we arrived. The view was clear and 
cloudless, but the horizon was obscured by mist, as it 
usually is during the summer months in the iEgean, 
except now and then at sunrise. This effect contrasts 
somewhat strikingly with the distinctness of the nearer 
objects, and seems to be what Homer intends to express 
by the epithet ^6/50€t&^, which is applied to "the 
dim sea," and is also used of " the far distance," for 
objects as much as 80 miles off may be seen notwith- 

The view towards the north had been gradually open- 
ing before us during our ascent ; but that towards the 
south, which was far more beautiful, burst on us at once 
when we reached the summit Far below, and separated 
from us only by a succession of finely-wooded mountain 
spurs, was the deep bay of Adramyttium, whose blue 
waters were dotted here and there with white sails ; at 
its head was an alluvial plain stretching inland, while 
about its mouth the sea was studded with a number of 
small islands, the Hecatonnesi ; beyond which rose the 
two peaks of Lesbos, separated from one another by an 
inlet ; and far in the distance the heights of Chios, and 
on the neighbouring mainland those near Smyrna. To 
the south-east, as we looked into the interior of Asia 
Minor, range beyond range of mountains appeared, the 
last and highest of which was probably Mount Tmolus. 
We also conjectured that the easternmost peaks were 
the summits of the Mysian Olympus, on which we had 
been standing only a few weeks before. The view is 

(s.v. Ida), the height is wrongly stated as being 4650 English feet, 
the mistake having probably arisen from copying the numbers in Kiepert's 

VOL. I. C 

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1 8 Mount Ida. Chap. I. 

divided into two parts by the long dorsal ridge of Ida, 
thickly clothed with the pine forests from which it derives 
its name (J&y, wood), and reaching from far away in the 
east to where it sinks into the sea at Cape Lectum^ 
the point at which, according to Homer's description,^ 
Hera landed in the company of the God of Sleep, when 
about to meet Zeus on Gargarus, and from whence she 
ascended over the heights, leaving her companion to keep 
watch on one of the lofty pines. Turning to the north, 
we looked over the plains we had crossed, and the hilly 
district which stretches towards the Propontis ; then the 
Hellespont came in view, the Plains of Troy, and the 
Hill of Sigeum, Tenedos with its white town, the Thra- 
cian Chersonese, and the broken outline of Imbros, 
beyond which, in the dim distance, as we stood ourselves 
on the watch-tower of Zeus, from whence he used to 
survey the combats of Greeks and Trojans, we descried 
far away the lofty peak of Samothrace, the station of 

The flowers on and about the summit were numerous 
and varied, considering the stony character of the soil. 
Among those that I found were dianthus neglectuSy gypso- 
phila cretica, pterocephalus plumosus, genista tinctoria^ 
viola calcarata, scabiosa holocerisia, centaurea aurea, 
thymus angustifolius, allium carinatum. As the floras of 
high mountains are interesting for purposes of com- 
parison, I will here mention those that I found shortly 
before this on the Mysian Olympus : saxifraga porophylla, 
dianthus leucophceus^ vesicaria utriculata^ galium purpu-- 
reumy scilla bifolia, pedicularis comosa, leucanthemum 
cebennense^ alysum compactum^ myosotis alpestris, erigeron 
alpinus^ armaria grandiflora, anthyllis montana^ ranun- 
culus montanuSf androsace villosa. 

" IL xiv. 284. 

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Chap. I. Turcoman Encamptneftt. 19 

The cold was very great while we were on the summit, 
from the keenness of the east wind ; and accordingly, 
after staying there more than an hour, we were glad to 
return to our bivouac, from whence we descended with 
our horses by a steeper route than that which we had 
followed on the previous day, to a small open plateau on 
the mountain-side. In this were pitched the tents of a 
tribe of Turcomans, the most important we had yet met 
with, who were encamped here during the summer 
months. These tents were circular in form, and rounded 
towards the top, where there was an aperture ; they were 
composed of light trellis-work covered with felt, and 
seemed comfortably furnished inside with carpets and 
cushions. Though unlike any that I had ever seen 
before, they correspond in all their features to the de- 
scription of the tents of the Calmuck Tartars. Their 
occupants had rather broad faces, high cheek-bones, black 
eyes, and swarthy complexions. The women were not 
veiled, and wore coins strung in their hair. One of them 
was occupied in making butter by the somewhat labo- 
rious process of rolling backwards* and forwards on the 
ground a goatskin in which the cream was contained ; 
others were baking flat cakes on metal plates over a fire. 
They seemed pleased to see us, and brought us some 
coffee and a bowl of milk. The children were disporting 
themselves, in true English fashion, in swings attached to 
branches of the trees, showing the primaeval character of 
that pastime. If for no other reason, these tribes are 
interesting as enabling us to realise what the Ottomans 
were before Othman's time ; for that people differed in 
no respect from the surrounding tribes, except in having 
a strongly marked character and settled purpose, which 
ultimately raised them to be one of the g^reatest nations 
that the world has seen. The monogram of the Sultan 

c 2 

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20 • Mount Ida. Chap. I. 

is to this day an evidence of this early stage in their his- 
tory; for, though now an elaborate specimen of calli- 
gfraphy, it represents the old sign-manual, which was 
made by dipping the palm in ink and leaving its print on 
the paper. Few things in history are more striking than 
to watch a family or tribe, like the Hellenes in ancient 
Greece, the Ottomans, and many others, eliminating 
themselves in this manner by a process of natural selec- 
tion, and rising above their neighbours. 

Leaving our horses to follow us, we scrambled down a 
steep hill-side from the plateau into a gorge below, on 
the opposite side of which a pretty waterfall shot over the 
face of the rock. We clambered up a cliff by the side of 
this, and reached the entrance of a cavern, on descending 
into which we again came upon the stream, as it was 
hurrying along in the darkness to the point where it 
issued forth and formed the cascade. Again our guide*s 
yataghan was called into requisition, and when a pine- 
torch had been made and lighted, we bared our feet and 
legs and waded up the stream, which was icy cold and 
deliciously refreshing after the temperature of the outer 
air, the heat of which had already become oppressive. 
After we had proceeded in this way for several hundred 
feet, the cavern opened out into a spacious hall, the sides 
of which rose gradually to a groove at the top, as in the 
" Ear of Dionysius," at Syracuse. At the farther end of 
this the clear water burst forth from the bowels of the 
earth. This was the source of the Scamander — a striking 
origin for any stream, from the grandeur of the cave and 
the copiousness of the water, which is almost a river at 
its birth, but from its mysterious seclusion especially 
suited to be the fountain-head of one of the great Homeric 
rivers. Its existence is just noticed by Strabo ;^ the 
»» xiiL I. § 43. 

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Chap. I. Source of tlte Scanuznder. 2 1 

inhabitants of the neighbourhood call it Buyuk Magara, 
J. e., the Great Cavern. Before we returned to daylight 
our Turk fired off one of his pistols, and the effect of this 
was remarkable ; for when the brawling of the stream 
was silenced by the reverberations, it seemed as if the 
water had suddenly ceased to flow. 

From this, point we descended to Eyjilar, and from 
thence made our way the same evening through the plain 
to Beyramitch, where we were once more received by 
Achmet Bey. On our return journey to the Plains of 
Troy we diverged from our former route at Enaeh, in 
order to visit the fine Roman remains of Alexandria 
Troas ; these, however, have been described sufficiently 
often to render it unnecessary for me to notice them. It 
is owing to the British ambassador that they are still in 
existence ; for, had it not been for his remonstrances, the 
Turkish authorities would have blown them up, and car- 
ried away the stones as materials for building the arsenal 
at Constantinople. About half-way between Enaeh and 
this place is a hill called Chigri, which deserves more 
notice than it has hitherto attracted. It is a long and 
lofty mass of gfranite, on which are fine remains of a 
Greek city, with Hellenic walls built in parallel courses 
of masonry, of which in some places as many as four- 
teen remain ; but it has not been satisfactorily identified 
with any ancient site. By the middle of the next day 
we had returned to Bunarbashi, at the head of the plain 
of Troy. 

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( 22 ) 



The Springs at Bunarbashi — Mode of treating the Subject — Accuracy of 
Homeric epithets and descriptions — Topography of the Iliad — The 
Springs near Troy — Correspondence with those at Bunarbashi — The 

t Bali-dagh — Its Tumuli — View from it — Floods of the Mendere — 
Site of Troy — The Ileian Plain — Excavations on the Bali-dagh — 
Batieia — Atchi-keui — The Hanai-Tepe — Iliimi Novimi — Return to 
the Dardanelles. 

Just before reaching the village of Bunarbashi, we once 
more passed the springs from which its name, " the Head 
of the Waters," is derived. The springs themselves are 
called Kirke Gheuz, or "the Forty Eyes." As these 
have been the most important point in Homeric topo- 
graphy, ever since their discovery by Lechevalier towards 
the end of the last century, and as the question of the 
site of the city of Troy depends in no slight degree 
upon them, I propose that we should examine them 
with, some care, and make them a starting-point from 
which to notice the principal objects and features of the 
country that seem to correspond to those which Homer 
describes. The plain of Troy has been a battle-field, 
not only of heroes, but of scholars and geographers, and 
the works which have been written on the subject form a 
literature to themselves. In this discussion, and the 
investigation of minute details which it involves, I do 
not wish to entangle my readers, but will confine myself 
for the present to some of the most general conclusions, 
referring those who are interested in the question to the 

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Chap. II. The City and Plain of Troy. 


Appendix at the end of Volume II.* But, before entering 
on the subject at all, it is necessary to premise a few 



The Plain of Troy. 

remarks on the way in which the Homeric topogfraphy 
ought to be treated. 

In the first place, it is well to remember that the state- 

' See Appendix A, On the Topography of Troy. 

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24 The City and Plain of Troy. Chap. I L 

ments of an ancient epic poet ought not to be criticised^ 
as they have been by some writers, in the spirit of a land- 
surveyor. To take the numbers which the poet gives, 
and the distances which he describes, as a basis for exact 
calculation, is to disregard the poetic element in the 
narrative, and to treat verse as if it were prose. Numbers 
must be mentioned in the poem, and distances must, 
here and there, be either stated or implied, for otherwise 
the action would lack reality; but these are not to be 
regarded as literal statements of fact. All that we can 
expect is, that what is introduced should be in accord- 
ance with the general conception, and that the probabili- 
ties of the case should not be rudely violated ; though 
even here considerable allowance must be made for 
poetic licence : as where Helen on the walls of Troy 
distinguishes and describes to Priam and his councillors 
the Greek chieftains who are marshalling their forces 
far off on the plain. In like manner we must not be 
surprised if some of the features of the g^round are 
ignored, when it suits the convenience of the poet ; as, 
for instance, the rivers, which are sometimes mentioned 
and sometimes omitted in connexion with the movement 
of the armies, as they pursue one another up and down 
the plain. And, generally, the limits of what is possible 
are overstepped, and absolute consistency is disregarded 
both in respect of time and place. Thus the fortification 
with which the Greeks protect their ships — a massive 
structure, provided with gates and towers — is erected in 
one day; and this is not merely vaguely stated, but 
we are told that they rose at early dawn to commence it 
and finished it at nightfall. Similarly as regards dis- 
tance : though the space between the city and the Greek 
encampment is so great that until a late period of the 
war the ships are left without any defence, and that 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. II, Mode of treating ttu Subject. 25 

when it is necessary for the Trojans to reconnoitre the 
movements of the Greeks a spy has to be sent to a 
point at a considerable distance from the city, yet the 
two places are frequently treated as if they were near 
one another, as when Hector, in his night bivouac in 
front of the Greek lines, sends to the city for oxen and 
sheep to provide a meal for his army,* and when the two 
hosts march from end to end of the plain several times 
in the same day. 

Further than this — in attempting to determine the 
topography, the question that presents itself to us is not 
so much what was the actual site of the city, or what 
the actual features of the ground, but how were they 
conceived in the mind of the poet, and what were the 
objects that suggested these conceptions to him. And 
though this distinction in many cases will not involve 
a difference, yet in some it will prove to be of import- 
ance, where the realities have been adapted or idealised 
for the sake of poetic treatment. In this way, too, 
though we may not doubt the historical character of the 
Trojan war, yet we keep ourselves clear of the discussion 
of that question. 

It might, indeed, seem an easier course to go a step 
further, and suppose the topography to be wholly 
imaginary, and to have existed only in the mind of the 
poet, especially as there is more than one place that 
claims to be the site of the city ; but this we are for- 

• This is in the evening which succeeds the combats described in 
Book VIII. The same night Hector is said to be encamped near th 
monument of Ilus (x. 415), which is in the middle of the plain (xi. 166, 1\ 
He is there spoken of as being near the ships (ix. 76), and at the sam 
time in front of Troy (viii. 560). In conceiving the scene, we feel that tfa 
whole thing is foreshortened. Elsewhere the ships are said to be '*& 
from the city" (v. 791, xviiL 256), and it is possible to ''wander" from 00 
to the other (xviil 286). 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

26 The City and Plain of Troy. Chap. II. 

bidden to do by the contents of the poem itself. The 
geographical descriptions which the * Iliad * contains are 
sing^lariy exact and gfraphic — far more so than those of 
later Greek poets. Homer's local epithets are, with 
rare exceptions, remarkably appropriate: nothing can 
better describe the thin cascade of the Styx in Arcadia 
than the epithet " down-dropping " {Kareifiofievov) which 
he applies to it ;' nor could the features of the Thessalian 
Olympus be better characterised than as "long," "many- 
crested," and "very snowy." And though the descrip- 
tions of the position of towns, such as "craggy," "lofty," 
"spacious," "abounding in vineyards," "exposed to 
tempests," are somewhat general in their meaning, yet, if 
they had been distributed at random as ornamental 
decorations, and not derived from a knowledge of the 
localities themselves, it would be strange if they were 
not frequently attached to the wrong places, instead 
of being as strikingly applicable as they are found to be 
at the present day. We should not then find Sparta 
so exactly described as being situated in a deep vale full 

' In ssiymg this I venture to differ from my friend Mr. Clark, who in his 
* Peloponnesus ' (pp. 304-310) endeavours to show that Homer was not 
acquainted with the Arcadian waterfall. The passage in Hesiod, which 
describes the Styx as — 

^XP^p, S r' ^fc w4rpris KaraA.e(/3€rai iiXtfidroto 
inlni\ris (Theog. 785)— 

explains more fully what Homer meant by KorcifiSfxcvov : indeed, Mr. Clark 
himself sajrs that " the Homeric ideal is that of a great river falling down 
in a sheer cataract to the underworld, and there running with a mighty 
stream to mfinite distance." Now, considering that the waterfall of the 
Styx in Arcadia is almost the only cascade in Greece, and is of great 
height, and in a remarkably precipitous position, it is hard to believe that 
the coincidence between this and the Homeric description is merely acci- 
dental No doubt the Styx was conceived of as a river of the nether world, 
but that does not prevent the idea of it from having been derived from a 
stream flowing in daylight, and being pennanently associated with it. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. II. Homeric Epithets. 27 

of rifts and fissures, nor Epidaurus as being suited for 
the growth of vines, nor Tiryns, the ruins of which 
are the most massive in all Greece, as "well walled."* 
Again, to come nearer to the district of Troy, we find 
the features of the neighbouring region described with 
equal accuracy ; the islands of Tenedos, Lemnos, and 
Imbros, in their respective positions ; the peak of lofty 
Samothrace appearing over the intervening mass of the 
last-named island, and thus, as the author of * Eothen ' 
has so well described it, enabling Poseidon to look down 
from its summit on the plain of Troy ; the Hellespont, 
with its rapid current, and the opposite coast of Thrace ; 
and to the south the promontory of Lectum, which 
terminates the chain of Ida towards the iEgean, and 
Gargarus, the highest point in all the surrounding 
country, which is chosen as the fitting seat of the king 
of gods and men. When we find the geographical 
accuracy of the poet extending thus far, we cannot but 
feel that there is an antecedent probability in favour 
of its being found also in the locality which is the scene 
of the action, and this is confirmed by the fact that, 
though the plan of the topography of the poem is 
simple, yet the position of the sites and objects which it 
contains are definitely conceived. Indeed, on this point 
all those who have lately explored the plain, and among 
them several very able scholars, are agreed. Nor does 
this question seem to be materially affected by the 
independent question of the unity or plurality of author- 
ship of the poem. Some of those who have worked out 
the details of the topography most carefully are advo- 
cates of a plurality of authors ; and the latest explorer 
in the field, von Hahn, while he believes in the mythical 

^ Koi\n\v Aasc€9€dfiova Kryr^tHra'aVj ^/ATcA^crr* 'EvUavpoy, Tipvy$a rci- 

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28 Tlie City and Plain of Troy. Chap. II. 

origin of the story of Troy, is so firmly convinced of the 
accuracy of the description of the localities, that he 
considers it probable that "the form in which the ' Iliad ^ 
has come down to us in its essential features is derived 
from the Troad itself"* 

The topography of the 'Iliad* is somewhat of the 
following character. A plain of considerable extent, 
large enough for the movement of vast armies, extends 
between the city of Troy and the Hellespont, where 
there is a long line of beach inclosed between two pro- 
montories.® The city is situated on a hill, behind which, 
at no great distance off, is another plain, called the 
Ileian or Idaean, close to the valleys of Mount Ida:'' 
the citadel or Pergamus is in a lofty position, while the 
lower part of the city reaches almost to the plain, where 
is the principal gate, called the Scaean, and in its 
neighbourhood two remarkable sources of water.* In 
the plain in front of the city flow two rivers, the Sca- 
mander and Simois, running nearly parallel to one 
another, it would seem, for some distance, as one of the 
principal conflicts is described as taking place between 
them,* and then joining their waters,^** and flowing in a 
united stream to the Hellespont In the same part 
of the plain rises a conspicuous hillock, called Batieia, or 
"Bramble-hill,"^^ and a good way off, though in what 
exact direction we are not told, a tumulus, named after 
an old hero iEsyetes, stands in a commanding position, 
and serves as a point from which to reconnoitre the 
movements of the Greeks.^* In addition to this, there is 
a high hill, called Callicolone or " The Beautiful Mound," 
in the neighbourhood of the Simois,"*^ and other objects> 

• * Die Ausgrabungen auf der Homerischen Peigamos,* p. 36. 

• H. xiv. 33-6. ' xxi. 556-561. * xxii. 147. » vi. 2, 3. 
^ V. 774. " ii. 811. " il 791-4. '» XX. 55. 

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Chap. II. Topography of the Iliad. 29 

such as the monument of Ilus, which are used as land- 
marks in the descriptions, but on which little stress can 
be laid. Any position, however, which is to claim to 
be the site of Homer's Troy, ought to correspond 
sufficiently well to the general description given above to 
account for the conceptions in the mind of the poet, 
allowance of course being made for such changes as 
may have passed over the country in the lapse of 

To return now to the springs at BunarbashL Pro- 
ceeding westwards from the village, you soon arrive at 
the two first of these, which are situated in the rocky 
ground at the edge of the plain, about sixty feet from 
one another, with a gnarled willow-tree growing between 
them. They are both about five feet square, and are 
encased on three sides by marble slabs, on which the 
Greek women of Bunarbashi wash their clothes ; beneath 
these the water gashes out from numerous sources. The 
streams thus formed join one another a little way below, 
and are shortly afterwards met by a rivulet flowing from 
the mountains, by the side of which another limpid 
spring issues from the rocks. From this group of foun- 
tains the little river continues its course towards the 
west in several channels, through a natural garden of its 
own making, receiving occasional contributions from 
other springs, until, after running somewhat less than 
half a mile, it is joined by a more copious stream, which 
rises hard by in a broad shallow basin, large enough 
almost to be called a small pond. This basin is enclosed 
by masonry, which is thought to be of great antiquity. 
All the environs of these sources and rivulets are of the 
most charming description, from the freshness of the 
grass, so rare a sight during the summer in these parched 
countries, and the abundant foliage by which they are 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

30 The City and Plain of Troy. Chap. IL 

shaded. Besides the willows and other more imposing 
trees, there is a plentiful undergrowth of bright green 
fig-bushes, of 'agnus castus, with its lilac flowers, and of 
palluria, with its flat, circular, pale-yellow pods, which 
hang from the branches like so many coins. 

Now, let us take Homer's description of the springs in 
the neighbourhood of Troy. It occurs in the story of the 
pursuit of Hector by Achilles in front of the city-walls, 
and is thus translated by Lord Derby : — 

" They by the watch-tower, and beneath the wall 
Where stood the wind-beat fig-tree, rac*d amain 
Along the public road, until they reach'd 
The fairly-flowing fount whence issued forth 
From double source, Scamander's eddying streams. 
One with hot current flows, and from beneath, 
As from a furnace, clouds of steam arise ; 
'Mid summer's heat the other rises cold 
As hail, or snow, or water crystallized ; 
Beside the fountain stood the washing-troughs 
Of well-wrought stone, where erst the wives of Troy 
And daughters fair their choicest garments wash'd 
In peaceful times, ere came the sons of Greece." " 

In reading this passage, the first point that strikes us 
is that the description is definitely drawn, and is intended 
in the main to represent a really existing place. Next, 
the question suggests itself, in what sense are these 
fountains spoken of as streams of the Scamander.^ They 
cannot be the sources of that river, for these, as we have 
seen, are far away in Mount Ida — if, that is to say, the 

" IL xxii. 145-156, The following are the most important lines :— 

Kpouyit S* Tfcoyov KaWif^6<o, Ma 8i vriyaX 
8o(a2 iwatinrovffi 'XKo/idyipov Sii^evTOf. 
^ fUy ydp ff Hiart Xiop^ ^^ci, iifjupl Zh Kcervhs 
ylyvrrai ^| abrris, &<rcl wvphs al0oiJ,4yoio- 
^ 8* Mpfi 04p€X wpopiti c^KVM x^^Cl7» 
^ Xi-^vi ^XPV* ^ ^€ S^etros Kpv<rrd\X<p* 

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Chap. II. The Springs near Troy. 31 

Mendere corresponds to the Scamander; and of this 
there can be little doubt, as it is so pre-eminently the 
river of the plain, from its size and body of water : 
the epithets, too, which are applied to the Scamander — 
"great," "deep flowing," "with deep eddies" — and the 
actions attributed to it, such as bearing along* crowds of 
drowning men and horses,^* only suit its stream ; and the 
appellation of Xanthus, or "yellow," which belonged to 
Homer's river, implies a current at times swollen and 
turbid, and' not a quiet stream, with a short course, and 
derived almost entirely from springs.^® Probably the two 
best explanations of the difficulty are those which were 
given in ancient times.^''^ According to one of these, the 
fountains are called sources of the Scamander, as being 
the head-waters of a tributary of that river ; and instances 
are not wanting to show that the intermediate course of 
a stream is sometimes ignored in this way at the fountain- 
head. According to the other, they are so called because, 
in accordance with an idea common amongst the Greeks 
concerning rivers, part of the waters of the Scamander 
were supposed to pass underground and reappear at this 
point The latter interpretation is given very clearly by 
Cowper, who translates the passage thus : — 

" And now they reached the running rivulets clear, 
Where from Scamander*s dizzy flood arise 
Two fountains."" 

Let US see now whether any correspondence can be 
traced between the springs described above and those 

" iUyttSy fiaB^^pooSy ^a0vdlprii, — ^11. xxi. IO-16. 

*« Lechevalier's idea, that the Bunarbashi river is the Scamander, and 
the Mendere the Simois, is now pretty generally given up. 

" Strabo, xiii. I. § 43. 

1* The Scholiast on this passage says : 6 yap '^KdfjLoyBpos ix6y€ios yfv6» 
lAtvos ip 'IX(^ 8</o kifoiHiiZnfn T777&S, &^* &v ol KpovvoL 

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32 The City and Plain of Troy. Chap. II. 

which Homer mentions. The poet speaks of two foun- 
tains, one of which is cold in summer, while the other is 
warm /;/ winter{$ox this seems to be implied by the anti- 
thesis), and is covered with smoke. In the literal sense 
of the words this certainly is not the case with the 
sources at Bunarbashi ; but yet, on further examination, 
it may perhaps be shown that there is that in their 
appearance which would suggest to the poet the idea he 
has thus expressed. Though the springs are not two 
only, but many, yet they would naturally be conceived 
of as forming two groups, since one of the two rivulets is 
derived from those nearest to the village, while the other 
is drawn from the large shallow reservoir. Again, as 
regards the temperature, there does not appear to be any 
real difference between them, as most of them measure 
about 64° Fahrenheit; the variations which some tra- 
vellers have observed are probably to be accounted for 
by their not having placed the thermometer close to the 
point from which the water issues, since everywhere else 
it is very soon affected by the heat of the atmosphere. 
But the smaller sources, from not being so much exposed 
to the heat of the sun, are naturally colder in summer 
than what is contained in the wide basin : in winter, on 
the other hand, as all the springs are deep-seated, and 
consequently of the same temperature all the year round, 
they must be warmer than the atmosphere, and must 
emit vapour in cold weather — an effect which would be 
far more visible over a considerable pool than over a 
number of small and scattered fountains. On this point 
I made inquiries from my Greek host, at Bunarbashi, 
George Menzous, and he assured me that he had often 
seen the sources smoking in winter. The popular ima- 
gination would naturally lay hold of these two pecu- 
liarities — ^the one spring or group of springs being cool in 

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Chap. II. Temperature of the Springs, 33 

summer, the other smoking in winter; and the poet, 
finding the tradition of a hot and cold spring existing on 
the spot, and admirably suited for poetic treatment, 
would make use of it for his own purposes, without 
caring whether it was literally true. It should also be 
observed, if we take the latter of the two explanations 
given above of the Homeric fountains being sources of 
the Scamander, how well adapted this position is to 
foster the idea that part of that river reappeared here 
after running underground, since the Mendere flows 
directly on the opposite side of the intervening hill to the 
south, and from thence makes a sudden bend before it 
emerges into the plain. 

The spectacle here presented to us of two streams 
rising so near one another at separate points, and then 
by their combined waters at once forming a river, is one 
that would anywhere attract the attention of the geo- 
grapher, and still more that of the poet ; but especially 
is this the case in a country like Turkey, where water 
is so valuable and copious perennial streams so rare. 
There are not, indeed, many such in the whole of the 
Levant Hence it is with good reason that this feature 
has been taken as a strong argument in favour of placing 
the city of Troy on the neighbouring heights behind 
BunarbashL There is no other position in the neighbour- 
hood of the plain which possesses a source of water that 
can in any way correspond to those which Homer 
describes. Of course it is possible that these fountains 
may have disappeared, as some fountains are said to 
have disappeared in classical times ; but, as a matter of 
fact, almost all the famous sources of antiquity — Castalia, 
Arethusa, Callirrhoe, Aganippe, and others — have come 
down to us, some of which are insignificant in size when 
compared with those we are speaking of. And when we 

VOL. I. D 

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34 The City and Plain of Troy. Chap. II. 

do find in a position otherwise suitable a remarkable 
natural object of this kind, corresponding fairly to the 
ancient description, we shall not be far wrong in con- 
cluding that they may be identified. 

Let us now mount the hill behind Bunarbashi, or Bali- 
dagh, as it is called, and see whether it is an appropriate 
place for the site of ancient Troy. A gradual ascent of 
about a mile and a half from the village, towards the 
south-east, brings you to three tumuli, which stand near 
together at the commencement of a level ridge of some 
width : the first of these is conspicuous from below, and 
forms an excellent landmark to point out the direction 
to the summit On the way two slight depressions have 
to be crossed, one of which is a sort of gully ; the hard 
limestone is half covered with a thin sprinkling of soil, 
but the dwarf oaks and undergrowth are plentiful, and 
serve as cover for game. We put up a hare and a large 
covey of red-legged partridges, as we passed through 
them, and several eagles were soaring above, probably on 
the look-out for such prey. The first tumulus is com- 
posed of small stones, and has a few shrubs growing 
about it ; on the side where the ascent was longest, it 
measured twenty paces from top to bottom. This mound 
has been sometimes called the tomb of Hector, but with- 
out good reason ; for if this was the site of Troy, the 
buildings must have extended much further towards the 
plain, and Homer relates that Hector was buried without 
the walls. ^® The second and largest tumulus was opened 
some years ago by Mr. Frank Calvert, the Consul's 
brother, who carried a shaft into the centre of it, whence 
the interior lies exposed to view. The mound itself is 
formed of a mixture of earth and stones, but in the centre 

" n. xxiv. 783, foil. 

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Chap. II. Bali-dagh. 35 

there is a structure, square in form, and measuring about 
14 feet by 12, which rises from the rock which forms its 
base to the top of the mound. This is composed of 
large irregular stones, roughly hewn on the outward face 
alone, and put together without cement, the space in the 
interior being filled in with small loose stones. Its 
appearance is certainly not that of a place of burial, and 
it has been conjectured that it may have been the base 
of a public monument, or the foundation of an altar or 
shrine.** The third, which is smaller than the other two, 
and flat at the top, has more the appearance of a heaped 
mound of earth. In the neighbourhood of each of these 
tumuli is a pit, from which, perhaps, the materials may 
have been taken of which they were made. 

The view towards the north from the so-called tomb of 
Hector is very extensive and striking, and the country is 
better seen from this point than from any other, because 
from the summit of the Bali-dagh the sources at Bunar- 
bashi and the nearer part of the plain are excluded by 
this shoulder of the ridge. The character of the scenery 
is in marked contrast with that of Greece, in which 
5harply-cut mountain outlines and deep valleys or dry 
light-soiled plains prevail: here the low hills, which 
enclose the level ground, are rounded in form, and the 
patches and stripes of green, which remain in places even ( 
during the summer months, give evidence of an unusually 
abundant supply of water. The distant view comprises 
the European shore of the Hellespont, Imbros with the 
peak of Samothrace appearing over its broken summits, 
Tenedos lying close to the coast, and Lemnos forming a 
long line on the horizon, just over the east end of which 

** See Mr. F. Calvert's account of the excavation in the 'Archaeo- 
logical Journal' for 1864, pp. 49, 50, 

D 2' 

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36 TJie City and Plain of Troy. Chap. II. 

the conical shape of Athos is dimly seen. The plain of 
Troy is displayed in its whole length of seven miles,*^ 
from the Dardanelles to the village of Bunarbashi, and 
about halfway between these points a ridge, which pro- 
jects into it from the eastern side, forms a conspicuous 
object. But what most attracts the eye are the two 
rivers — ^the Mendere, in the middle of the plain, tracked 
through all its numerous serpentine windings by the 
willow-trees on its banks, until it trends across and flows 
close under the heights of Yenishehr into the Hellespont; 
and the Bunarbashi river, which is marked at first by the 
plantation at its source, and afterwards by the green 
marshes which fringe its sides, as it skirts the foot of the 
hills to the west, until it is carried off by the canal 
already mentioned into the blue iEgean. 

From the three tumuli we pursued our way along the 
ridge towards the south, and in no long time came to an 
artificial mound, which runs across it, with some indica- 
tions of a wall having surmounted it. A little further on 
we found a raised circle formed of small stones, sixty- 
five paces round inside, resembling in some respects the 
threshing-floors of the country ; it is impossible, however, 
that it could have been intended for that object, being 
at so great a height above the plain, and it is difficult to 
conjecture what purpose it could have served. Beyond 
* this again the ridge contracts to a narrow neck, from 
which a short, but steep, ascent leads up to the summit 
Here there was a level area of a few acres in extent, 
running from west to east, which evidently had been 
once an acropolis, for we found traces of ancient walls in 
numerous places both along the edges of the cliffs and 

2* This and the other measurements I have given are taken from 
Dr. Forchhammer*s map of the Troad, enlarged from that which he made 
in connexion with the English Admiralty survey. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. II. Cliaracter of the Scenery, 37 

across the angular projections of the ground, where it 
appeared that there had been towers. Below this level, 
on the northern side, close to the entrance, was an exca- 
vation, resembling the pits already noticed, only much 
larger. The Mendere flows round the base of this hill on 
three sides, at a depth of 400 feet below, and the descent 
to it is steep everywhere, but especially so towards the 
south, where the rocks are almost precipitous. In the 
sides of these rocks there are caves, the abode of numerous 
wild bees, and from the honey produced by these the 
entire hill has obtained the name of Bali-dagh, or "Honey 
Mount" The view in this direction, though in every 
respect different from that on the other side, is hardly 
inferior to it. The wild mountain masses rise x:lose at 
hand on the further bank of the river, and the valleys, 
which descend from them, shape themselves with strange 
regularity into a succession of graceful curves, resembling 
the form of a theatre. In the neighbourhood of the 
stream, and closely backed by the mountains, lies the little 
plain which we crossed when first setting out for Mount 
Ida. The highest peak of that chain is excluded from 
view, but one of the lower summits rises finely in the 
distance, appearing at the end of the gorge, through 
which the Mendere passes on its way from Enaeh. All 
the features of the scene are bold, and spacious, and 

The Mendere, which is now a clear and quiet stream, 
covering only a small part of its wide sandy bed, is said 
to present a very different aspect in winter, when the 
floods come down from the mountains. Owing to the 
narrowness of the passage, through which it has to make 
its way at the foot of the acropolis, it then rushes 
through with a mighty current, and rises sometimes to 
the height of thirty or forty feet above its natural level. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

3 8 The City and Plain of Troy. Chap. IP- 

At such times, when the rain falls for several days 
together on the higher ranges of Ida, the inland plain of 
Beyramitch is soon converted into a lake, as the valley 
which forms the passage from that to the lower plain is 
too confined to admit of the water being carried off with 
sufficient rapidity. Afterwards, when the clouds descend 
on to the lower mountains, the plain of Troy is also 
inundated ; for the Mendere, dashing through the gorge 
beneath the Bali-dagh, and being shortly afterwards 
joined by the Kimar, which drains a considerable valley 
towards the east, at once overflows its banks and covers 
the level land ; while the numerous springs and water- 
courses in the neighbourhood of the plain contribute an 
additional supply ; and, last of all, the Bunarbashi river, 
emerging from its channel at the point where the canal 
commences by which it is carried off to the west, resumes 
its ancient course and once more joins the Mendere. 
Again, when at the time of these inundations strong 
south-west winds prevail and obstruct the current of the 
Hellespont at its mouth, the lower part of the plain is 
still further flooded by the combined action of the sea 
and the rivers.^ It is such a scene as this which must 
have suggested the magnificent description of the 
combat between Achilles and the Scamander, in the 2ist 
Book of the * Iliad,' when the river-god rises in defence 
of his favoured city, and forces the hero from his stream, 
and pursues him with a mighty wave over the plain, 
calling to his brother Simois to hasten to his aid, until 
the whole region is inundated by their waters. The 
narrow valley which intervenes between the two plains 
was fabled to have been cleft asunder by the hand of 
Hercules, to whom great na^tural changes were usually 
ascribed ; and the story was embodied in a quaint 

** Forchhammer, * Beschreibung der Ebene von Troia,' pp. 17-19. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. II. The Mendere. 39 

etymology of the name Scamander, as if it was "the 
hero's dyke " {aKa/jufui dvBp6<;),^ 

No one who stands on the summit of the Bali-dagh 
can fail to be impressed with the magnificence of the 
position, and its suitableness for the site of a great 
ancient city. You feel at once that it commands the 
plain. Indeed, a person accustomed to observe the 
situation of Hellenic cities, would at once fix on this as 
far more likely to have recommended itself to the old 
inhabitants of the country than any other in the neigh- 
bourhood. It combines all the requisites they were 
accustomed to look for, **a height overlooking a fertile 
maritime plain, situated at a sufficient distance from the 
sea to be secure from the attacks of pirates, and fur- 
nished with a copious and perennial supply of water, 
presenting a very strong and healthy position for the 
city ; and for the citadel a hill beyond the reach of bow- 
shot from the neighbouring heights, defended at the 
back by isteep rocks and precipices, surrounded by a 
deep valley and broad torrent, and backed beyond the 
river by mountains which supplied timber and fuel."^ 
And in addition to this, it fulfils in the most material 
points the conditions which are required for the site of 
Troy. The area on the summit, with its precipices, 
represents the " lofty " " beetling '* ** citadel ; below this, 
the northern slopes afford ample space for an extensive 
city, reaching as far as Bunarbashi, where the Scaean 
gates would stand ; the neighbouring fountains were 
those that were believed to well up from the Scamander, 
which flowed on the opposite side of the hill. The river 

•• Eustathius on II. xx. 74. The old commentator himself reports the 
story as being that Hercules had opened the fountains of the Scamander. 
** Leake's *Asia Minor,* pp. 279, 280. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

40 The City aitd Plain of Troy, Chap. II. 

which is thus formed, and which skirts the western side 
of the plain, is the Simois, which from its community of 
origin with the Scamander is rightly called its brother ; 
while the greater stream, which runs parallel to it for 
some distance and formerly received the tribute of its 
waters, passes on towards the naval station of the Greeks 
on the Hellespont. The tumulus of ^Esyetes, the look- 
out station of the Trojans, is recognised in the Ujek-tepe, 
in the direction of Besika Bay, which commands so 
extensive a prospect that an English traveller, when 
wishing to take a panoramic view of the plain and its 
environs, selected it as the best point of view;** and 
from its position in the neighbourhood of the Simois, 
it is probable that it also bore the name of Callicolone. 

The correspondence between the plain at the back 
of the Bali-dagh and the Ileian plain of Homer is a 
further confirmation of this view of the site of ancient 
Troy. This place is introduced in connexion with the 
fight of Achilles and Agenor before the walls of the 
city. Before they engage, the Trojan hero, knowing 
that he is overmatched, debates with himself whether he 
should not escape from the battle-field, and, taking 
another direction away from the walls, fly to the Ileian 
plain, and so make his way to the valleys of Ida, and 
conceal himself there in the brushwood ; then, as evening 
drew on, he might return to the city after refreshing 
himself by a bathe in the river.^ The position we have 

^ Dr. Acland, in his * Panorama of the Plains of Troy.' 
^ cj S* &y ly^ ro6rovs ft^y tiroK\ov4€<r$ai idem 
ni7Xc(8|7 *Ax«A^r, voalp 5* 4irb rtlx^os iWy 
^iyw wpibs ircS/oy 'IK-fiXow, o^p* ty tKVfiai 
"iJi-qs T6 Kyrifio^s, icard rt ^wirfila Jww 
iair4pioi 8* hv firctra \o€<r<rdix€vos iroro^oio, 
%« ivotfrvx^iU, irori^IXiov aroy^oifiriv, — II. xxi. 556-56 1. 

Whether the name of the plain is 'IKilov or *l9^ioy, it cannot evidently 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. II. The Site of Troy, 41 

selected for this spot corresponds singularly well to all 
that is here implied. It is away from the battle-field, 
and a safe place of refuge from lying on the other side 
of the acropolis. It is on the way to Ida ; for all these 
heights at the back of the Bali-dagh— and, in fact, the 
mountains generally in the neighbourhood of the plains 
— are called by this name in Homer ; as is shown by the 
poet's speaking of all the rivers in the neighbourhood 
of Troy as flowing from Ida, whereas only one of them 
rises in the upper part of the chain. Lastly, the river in 
which Agenor proposes to have his bathe can be none 
other than the Scamander, whose waters glide by in 
tempting proximity. 

This height, then, and the region over which the eye 
ranges between it and the Dardanelles, we may regard 
as the scene of those events which the earliest epic poet 
has celebrated in undying verse. The level summit, on 
which we stand, is the Pergamus, which contained the 
palace of king Priam and the temples of the gods. The 
precipices that overhang the river are those from which 
it was proposed to cast the wooden horse.^ Between 
the two rivers, in the plain below, the contending armies 
were arranged against one another, and the battle 
swayed furiously to and fro, and heroes engaged one 
another in single combat. Halfway to the Hellespont, 
where the Mendere crosses the plain, was the ford of the 
Scamander, by which the combatants passed it, and 
where Priam stopped to let his horses drink, when on his 
way to beg the body of Hector from his fierce con- 
be the plain of Troy which is intended. The latter reading is better suited 
to the rest of the passage, but Heyne objected to it on metrical grounds, 
because that word has not the digamma, which 'lA^Joy has. Notwithstanding 
this, Voss, whose translation is almost as good as a commentary, approves 
it ; and Welcker adopts it unhesitatingly. (*Kleine Schriften,' ii. p. Ixi.) 

•• ^ Koahi x^rpdoov fia\49ty ipdffayrat lir* &fcpi7s. — Od. viii. 508. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

42 The City and Plain of Troy. Chap. IL 

queror.^ Beyond, in the distance, on the level shore, 
the ships of the Greeks were drawn up within their 
entrenchments. It is a magnificent arena for a struggle 
in which Europe and Asia were the contending parties ; 
too extensive, it may be, if measured by line and rule, 
for some of the movements described in the poem, but in 
no wise too spacious for the exploits of heroes of super- 
human power, or for conflicts in which the gods them- 
selves descended from Olympus to take part 

In the spring of 1864, subsequently to my last visit to 
the Troad, the acropolis on the Bali-dagh was excavated 
by Von Hahn, the Austrian Consul at Syra in the 
Archipelago, an indefatigable explorer of the antiquities 
of Turkey, whose name will frequently recur in these 
volumes. The discoveries which he made, though they 
cannot be said completely to have set at rest the 
question of the site of Troy, have done a great deal 
towards it, as they have proved that a city of high 
antiquity must have occupied this position. Traces of 
the outer walls were found throughout their whole 
circuit, except on the southern side, where, it would 
seem, the steepness of the ground was regarded as a 
sufficient defence. The line of the foundations of the 
northern wall was complete from end to end. But the 
most important remains were those at the western 
extremity of the area, on either ^side of the ascent, by 
which the acropolis was entered. On the left-hand side 
a sort of bastion was found, and in its neighbourhood a 
gateway, in which the upper blocks on the two sides 
approach one another, and must have been originally 
covered by a horizontal lintel of stone. In these 
features it resembles the gateways which have been 
found in many of the ancient Greek cities. On the 
* IL xxiv. 3$a 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. II. Excavations on the Bali-dagh. 43 

other side, at the south-west angle of the place, the 
oldest walls were brought to light. These were com- 
posed of polygonal blocks, carefully fitted together, 
which reminded Von Hahn of the architecture of Tiryns ; 
and from the appearance of them he was led to the con- 
clusion that the place must have been fortified in pre- 
Homeric times. But few works of art were found in 
the course of the excavations — a terra-cotta figure, some 
earthenware lamps, and a few other vessels, being almost 
the only ones which were dug up perfect. The coins, 
however, are of importance, as they furnish us with 
data for determining the time when the city was probably 
deserted They are Greek coins, mostly of the neigh- 
bouring towns, and belong to the second and third cen- 
tury B.C ; but what is especially to be remarked is, that 
no Roman or Byzantine coins were discovered among 
them. From this we may gather with some confidence, 
that since the second century B.C. the place has remained 
uninhabited. What was the name of the Greek city 
which replaced the more ancient one, and to which most 
of the walls now remaining must have belonged, it is 
not easy to determine. The name of Scamandria, which 
was one of the iEolic townships of these parts, has been 
suggested, on account of the close proximity of the 
Scamander; but the evidence of the coins is against 
this, for Scamandria is mentioned by Byzantine writers 
as still existing in their times. Perhaps it may have 
been Gergithus, which is stated by Livy to have been 
handed over by the Romans to the people of New IHum 
in the year 188 B.C., after their conquest of Antiochus.** 

** Livy, xxxviii. 39. To this view Mr. F. Calvert inclines, in his essay- 
on the subject in the 'Archaeolc^cal Journal' for 1864. The account of 
(he excavations on the Bali-dagh is given in Von Hahn*s * Ausgrabungen 
aof der Homerischen Pergamos.' 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

44 The City and Plain of Troy. Chap. II. 

When we left Bunarbashi, on our return journey, we 
descended in an easterly direction towards the plain, 
passing on our left hand a nearly isolated hill. This 
eminence, which is now called Garlik, corresponds very 
well in its position to the Homeric description of the hill 
of Batieia, in front of which the Trojan army was 
marshalled : — 

" Before the city stands a lofty mound, 
In the mid plain, by open space enclosed ; 
Men call it Batiaea ; but the gods 
The tomb of swift Myrinna; muster'd there 
The Trojans and allies their troops array'd,'"' 

At the distance of somewhat less than half an hour from 
the village we reached the Mendere, which is bounded at 
the sides by steep banks, and extends about a hundred 
feet in breadth, the whole of its bed being now covered 
with a shallow stream. Even until the end of the 
summer it usually contains some water, though on two 
or three occasions during the last hundred years it is 
reported by travellers to have been dried up. After 
crossing it we proceeded to the farm of Atchi-keui, 
which lies on the slope of the hills on the eastern side of 
the plain, not far from the point where the Kimar joins 
the Mendere. At the summit of the rocky knoll above 
this place some persons have fancied that they discovered 
layers of stones and the sockets of a gateway ; but the 
traces of these are very questionable. There is, how- 
ever, little doubt that it was the site of the ancient 
Village of the Ilians (TXtewj/ /c(Ofj/tj), and is therefore 
interesting, because that locality was regarded by as 
great an authority as Strabo in ancient times, and more 
recently by Ulrichs, as the site of ancient Troy. Yet, 

'* Horn. II. ii. 8ii s^^. (Lord Derby's translation.) 

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Chap. II. Atchi-keuL 45 

even if this view were not overthrown by many other 
difficulties, such as the position of the city relatively 
to the rivers of the plain, the insignificance of the site 
would of itself render it highly improbable. There is, 
in fact, hardly any place in the neighbourhood less 
striking, and less likely to have attracted the original 

Rather more than half a mile from the foot of the 
hills there lies an extensive marsh, which is green in 
summer-time and in winter forms a lake, and is called 
the Djudan. We had heard that within this two con- 
siderable springs had been lately discovered, and that 
this discovery had been connected with the claims of the 
neighbouring site, on the ground that they might repre- 
sent the Homeric fountains ; so we determined to visit 
them. When we arrived at the edge of the marsh, my 
companion waded into it, and when he had penetrated 
through the reeds for some distance, came upon a clear 
basin of water, appareritly fed by underground springs, 
about twenty feet across. There is said to be another 
source not far from it ; but we must suppose the ground 
to have altered considerably before we could conceive of 
these as corresponding to what Homer describes. 

Another object of far greater interest in the neighbour- 
hood of Atchi-keui, and close to the stream of the Kimar, 
is the Hanai Tepe. This is the largest of the many 
tumuli in the surrounding district, and its size is so great 
that Dr. Forchhammer, who accompanied the English 
Admiralty survey of the plains, questioned the possibility 
of its being an artificial mound. Shortly before my first 
visit, in 1853, it was excavated by Mr. Frank Calvert, the 
Consul's brother, who first sunk a perpendicular shaft 
through the centre, and then carried a horizontal shaft to 
meet it from the side. The investigation proved not only 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

46 The City and Plain of Troy. Chap. II. 

that the tumulus was artificial, but also that it had risen 
to its present height by strata superimposed on one 
another at very different times. Just below the surface 
were Turkish tombs, belonging to a village which for- 
merly existed on the hill-side hard by. Underneath 
these were found large Greek jar-tombs, resembling those 
which are found elsewhere in the Troad, composed of a 
coarse red clay, mixed with gravel, and laid in a hori- 
zontal position. Within these were human skeletons, 
placed on their backs, with raised knees. From the style 
of the art shown in the vases and glass phials which were 
arranged round the bones, their date must have been 
about the fourth century B.C. Below this again was a 
layer of a light whitish substance, which proved to be 
calcined bones, about six feet thick ; and intermixed with 
the lower part of the stratum were rounded river pebbles, 
bearing marks of violent heat. The ashes were perfectly 
dry, and so light that the labourers employed in digging 
through them were frequently unable to proceed from 
coughing. Then came a layer of wood ashes, intermixed 
with small pieces of charcoal and fragments of coarse 
pottery ; and between this and the solid rock, on which 
the whole rested, was a stratum of earth, two feet thick, 
containing the skeleton of a man extended at full length, 
with a large unhewn stone at its head. The entire height 
of the mound was fifteen feet. In opening the horizontal 
shaft a wall of huge rough stones was disclosed, five feet 
in thickness, and forming a circle ninety-five feet in 
diameter, which served to enclose the ashes, and rose as 
high as the top of that stratum. It is estimated to con- 
tain as much as 27,cxx) cubic feet of calcined bones.^ 
This discovery was certainly a very remarkable one. 

•• A full account of the excavation is given by Mr. Frank Calvert in the 
'Archseological Journal ' for 1859. 

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Chap. II. ' The Hanai Tepe. 47 

It proved that one, at all events, of the tumuli in the 
Troad was constructed for purposes of sepulture. The 
skeleton which was found at the bottom was evidently 
deposited at an earlier date than the mass of ashes, as 
the signs of the action of fire were altogether above it 
It may not improbably have belonged to some ancient 
Icing or hero, and the fact of his bones reposing on the 
spot may have caused it to be regarded with veneration, 
and consequently to l?e chosen as a fitting place for a 
national pyre on some important occasion. What that 
occasion was, we have no means of ascertaining ; but the 
superincumbent jar-tombs show that it was earlier than 
the fourth century, and no supposition is so natural as 
that it was after some great battle fought at a remote 
period. During the truce which succeeded the first en- 
gagement in the * Iliad,' we are told that the dead on 
both sides were burned, and that the Greeks raised a 
mound over the spot where their slain were consumed. 
In the account of the burial of Patroclus we have a de- 
scription of the way in which such a monument was con- 
structed, and it corresponds very closely to what is found 
in the Hanai Tepe : — 

" Deigning, neirt, the compass of the tomb, 
They mark'd its boundary with stones, then fiU'd 
The wide enclosure hastily with earth, 
And, having heaped it to its height, retum'd."" 

Or, in plainer prose, " they traced a round monument, 
and laid foundations around the pyre, and forthwith 
heaped earth on the top of it ; and when they had heaped 
up the mound they returned." It seems hardly im- 
probable that this tumulus may have been erected by the 
Trojans at ithe time of the war of Troy, and that some 

" II. xxiii. 255-257. (Cowper's translation.) 

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48 The City and Plain of Troy, Chap. II. 

tradition of the great battle after which it was raised may- 
have come down to the Homeric period. 

Leaving Atchi-keui on the following morning, we rode 
along the hills that bound the eastern side of the plain 
to the village of Chiblak, where the ground begins to 
descend towards the valley of the Dumbrek. This river 
runs parallel to the Hellespont, from which it is separated 
by the Rhcetean ridge, and enters the Trojan plain shortly 
before discharging its waters into the sea. At Chiblak 
we saw squared blocks of stone and capitals of Greek 
columns among the buildings, from whigh we gathered 
that an ancient site was in the neighbourhood ; and, after 
proceeding about twenty minutes further towards the 
north-west, we arrived at the ruins of Ilium Novum, 
which the Turks call Hissarlik, or " the place of a castle." 
The situation is fine, as it commands the meeting of the 
two plains of the Dumbrek and the Mendere ; but the re- 
mains of the ancient city are few, being principally com- 
posed of lines of walls and pieces of mosaic pavement, 
which have been excavated. At the extreme angle was 
the acropolis, and close to this is the form of a theatre 
excavated in the hill-side, the same which we had seen 
from Yenishehr. This place in ancient times claimed to 
be the site of old Troy, and its inhabitants regarded 
themselves as the representatives of the Trojans. And 
though we cannot allow their claim, especially on account 
of their nearness to the sea — which formerly, when the 
alluvium formed by the rivers did not extend as far as at 
present, could hardly have been more than two miles off 
— yet there is an interest attaching to the place where 
Xerxes and Alexander offered sacrifices on the supposi- 
tion that it was the ancient Pergamos, and which was 
reverenced on the same ground by many successive 
generations. In the view from this point the most con- 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. II. Return to the Dardanelles. 49 

spicuous object is the Rhoetean promontory, with the 
tumulus on its side, which from very early times has 
been regarded as the burial-place of Ajax. That posi- 
tion was the one originally chosen by Constantine for 
his great eastern city ; so that it may be regarded almost 
as an accident that Constantinople, instead of this place, 
became the second capital of the Roman Empire. 

From Hissarlik we descended to the Dumbrek valley, 
and from thence returned to the town of the Darda- 
nelles by a more inland route than that by which we had 

VOL. I. E 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

( 50 ) 



Departure for Mount Athos — Thasos — Cavalla — The Holy Mountam- 
— General Description — Vegetation, Scenery, and Climate — Rigorous 
Fast— Monastery of Vatopedi — Its Opulence — School of Eugenius 
Bulgaris — Village of Caryes — Exclusion of Females — The Holy 
Sjmod — Monastic Dispute — Phases of Monastic Life — Revenues — 
Numbers — Races — Pantocratoros — A Russian Dignitary — The Sand- 

About midday, on the nth of August, we left the 
Dardanelles by the Austrian steamer, intending to dis- 
embark at the nearest point to the coasts of Mount 
Athos, which was the next object of our investigation. 
Shortly after sunset we were passing under the steep 
cliffs of Imbros, and during the night we left behind 
us the towering summit of Samothrace, the early seat of 
Phoenician influence in the iEgean, and of strange 
religious associations in the mysterious worship of the 
Cabeiri. At daybreak we touched at the port of Lagos, 
and during the morning were passing through the 
channel between the mainland, and the wooded heights 
of Thasos. This island is described by Archilochus as 
"an ass's backbone, covered with wild wood," and the 
comparison is still appropriate, for, unlike most of the 
islands of this sea, it is still thickly clothed with trees, 
from which emerges the gaunt but picturesque line of 
the dorsal ridge which intersects it The- same idea of 
the resemblance between a bare range of limestone 
mountains and the skeleton of an animal is embodied in 
the name Oneium, or "the ass's back," which is given to 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 


Chap. III. Cavalla. 51 

the chain that runs down to the Isthmus of Corinth ; 
and the way in which these outlines are formed, especially 
in small islands, by the falling away of the earth from 
the rocks, is aptly described in a remarkable passage of 
Plato's *Critias' by the similitude of the decay of a 

At 1 1 o'clock we reached Cavalla, where we left the 
steamer. The position of this town is remarkably fine, 
and in many respects resembles that of Cadiz, though 
the ground is more elevated than in the latter place. 
It occupies a triangle of land, which projects into the 
sea with its apex towards the mainland, where it is 
joined by an isthmus to the grand mountains that rise 
behind. The Turkish walls by which it is surrounded, 
together with the minarets, and the castle which crowns 
the highest position, produce a striking effect; but the 
object which attracts the eye more than anything else is 
the lofty Roman aqueduct, that crosses the low ground 
of the isthmus with its massive piers, which support two 
tiers of arches ; it is still used to convey water to the 
city. Another mass of building which is conspicuous 
from the sea on the western side, forming a long line 
of walls and cupolas, is the great educational and charit- 
able establishment founded and endowed by Mehemet 
All of Egypt, who was a native of this place. This 
institution was once productive of great benefit, but, like 
most places of the kind when left to themselves, especially 
in Turkey, it has been much abused, and is now of little 
use. The great potentate always retained a warm regard 
for his birth-place, though he never revisited it. Another 
memorial of him is to be found in the numerous negroes 

' Plato, *" CritiaSt p. III. B. \i\€vwrai 8^, KoBdxtp iy reus fiiKptus v^ois, 
Tp6s T^ rdrt rJk yvv otov vo(Hi<rtunos ff^fxarot o<rra, xtpt€Ji^riKvias r^s 
y^s S<ni vl€ipa Kcd futKeuefij rod Xcirrov ff^fMros rris x^P^ fiSyov Kti^Oiyros, 

E 2 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

5 2 Mount A tlios. Chap. III. 

who are to be met with in the streets of Cavalla, 
having originally come over from Egypt in consequence 
of the intercourse between the two places in his time. 
A more important person whose history is associated 
with this spot is St Paul, of whom we read that, following 
the same route which we had just taken, he went "from 
Troas with a straight course to Samothrace, and the 
next day to Neapolis," which was the name of the city 
in ancient times. It was thus the first place where the 
Apostle of the Gentiles set foot in Europe. 

The Turks are numerous in this town, but they are 
mostly poor, and their numbers are declining; a con- 
siderable amount of the wealth is in the hands of the 
Jews. The chief product is tobacco, which is extensively 
grown in the neighbouring districts. As the part of the 
mainland opposite Thasos was famed in ancient times 
for gold mines, we enquired whether any minerals were 
discovered at the present day; all, however, that we 
could learn was that quartz is found all about Cavalla, 
and that therefore it is likely enough that there is gold, 
but that no traces of mines had been discovered. We 
spent the day pleasantly at the house of our Vice-Consul, 
Mr. Maling, and at nightfall embarked in a sailing-boat, 
which we had engaged to take us across to Athos. After 
tossing and tacking for a long time under the western 
heights of Thasos, with plentiful experience of the light 
and fickle winds of the iEgean, about noon the following 
day we found ourselves approaching the monastery of 
Vatopedi, which is now the largest and most important 
of all the convents. Before we land, however, it may be 
well to say a few words by way of introduction, and 
then briefly sketch the general features of the Holy 

The easternmost of the three peninsulas, which stretch 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. III. 

The Holy Mountain. 


like a trident from the coast of Macedonia into the north 
of the iEgeanj^p<ifwithstanding its important position and 
striking internal features, does not seem to have risen to 
much importance before the Christian era. On one occa^ 
sion it comes prominently forward, when Xerxes, warned 
by the destruction of the fleet of Mardonius on its rocky 
coasts, cut the canal through the isthmus, the traces of 



CA^isr •Konaft 

Flan of Mount Athot . 

which, notwithstanding the soil which has accumulated in 
the course of ages, are still distinctly visible. At a later 
period the architect Dinocrates proposed to carve its huge 
peak into a statue of Alexander. But the small towns 
that fringed its shores never attained to opulence, and 
are seldom mentioned in history. In Christian times, 
however, this spot has gradually become the seat of a 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

54 Mount Atlios. Chap. III. 

community, which is probably without a parallel in the 
world. At what period monks and anchorites first began 
to resort to Mount Athos, it is difficult to determine. 
Several of the monasteries possess relics and ancient 
works of art, which are described as presents from the 
Empress Pulcheria ; some of them refer their foundation 
to the time of Constantine ; and, though we may hesitate 
to accept these statements, and though a large number 
of monks seem to have come over from Egypt, when 
that country was overrun by the Mahometans, yet it is 
highly probable that hermitages and retreats existed 
there at a very early time. It is in consequence of this 
antiquity of the monastic community, and the freedom 
both from attacks and from external influences which 
their isolated situation has secured to them, that Athos 
possesses so many features of interest at the present day. 
Nowhere in Europe, probably, can such a collection of 
ancient jewellery and goldsmith's work be found as is 
presented by the relics preserved in the different monas- 
teries; nowhere certainly can the Byzantine school of 
painting be studied with equal advantage ; and some 
of the illuminated MSS. are inestimable treasures of art. 
The buildings of the monasteries are, with the sole excep- 
tion of Pompeii, the most ancient existing specimens of 
domestic architecture ; and within their walls the life 
of the Middle Ages is enacted before your eyes, with its 
manners and customs, dress, and modes of thought and 
belief, absolutely unchanged. And it is no slight addi- 
tion to the pleasure of a visit, that, in passing from one 
monastery to another, you are surrounded by scenery 
certainly not surpassed, and hardly equalled, by any in 

This peninsula, which in ancient times was called Acte, 
and now is known as Hagion Oros or Monte Santo, is 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. 1 1 1. Vegetation. 5 5 

.about forty mUes in length, running from north-west to 
.south-east, and on an average about four miles broad. 
At the isthmus, where are the remains of Xerxes' canal, 
its breadth is about a mile and a half, and the ground is 
comparatively level ; but from this point it rises in undu- 
lations until it forms a steep central ridge, which runs 
like a backbone through the whole peninsula. Towards 
the southern end it attains the elevation of about 4000 
feet, and then, after a slight depression, suddenly throws 
up a vast conical peak, 6400 feet high, the base of which 
is washed on three sides by the sea. From the central 
ridge, lateral valleys and deep gorges run down to the 
•coast ; but the character of the ground on the two sides 
of the peninsula is entirely different, the western side 
being rugged and precipitous, while the eastern is com- 
paratively soft and clothed with magnificent trees. The 
v^etation of this part surpasses everything that I have 
seen elsewhere : on the ridge itself and its steep decli- 
vities are forests of beech and chestnut ; below this oaks 
and plane trees are found, together with the olive, 
cypress, arbutus, catalpa, and a plentiful undergrowth of 
heath and broom ; in addition to which, as if the earth 
could never tire of pouring forth her stores, numerous 
creepers trail over the trees and hang in festoons from 
the branches. The peak itself, to which the name of 
Athos is now restricted, is, from its height and solitary 
position, its conical form and delicate colour, a most im- / 
pressive mountain. It rises several thousand feet above i 
the region of firs in a steep mass of white marble, which, 1 
from exposure to the atmosphere, assumes a faint tender 
tint of grey, of the strange beauty of which some idea 
may be formed by those who have seen the dolomite ; 
peaks of the Tyrol. I have already described how its 
pyramidal outline may be seen from the Plains of Troy 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

$6 Mount Athos. Chap. IIP. 

at sunset, when the faintness of the light allows it to 
appear, towering up from the horizon, like a vast spirit 
of the waters, when the rest of the peninsula is concealed 
below. Nor is it a less conspicuous object from the 
shores and .slopes of Olympus, Ossa, and Pelion, on 
the opposite side. From its isolated situation it is a 
centre of attraction to the storms in the north of the 
iEgean ; in consequence of which the Greek sailors have 
so great a dread of rounding it in the winter, that it 
would be no unreasonable speculation for an enterprising 
government to renew the work of Xerxes. 

It may easily be conceived from this how exquisite 
the scenery is. Such combinations of rock, wood, and 
water, can hardly be seen elsewhere. The deep-blue 
expanse of the iEgean forms a part of every view, and on 
the horizon to the north and east appear the heights of 
Mount Pangaeus, and the Magnificent outlines of the 
islands of Thasos, Samothrace, Imbros, and Lemnos* 
The slopes of the Holy Mountain itself are dotted with 
farms and monastic buildings, about which lie bright 
patches of cultivated land, which have been reclaimed by 
the hands of the monks. Perhaps the most beautiful 
ride is along the south-east coast of the peninsula ; in 
this part you are sometimes in the midst of brushwood 
close to the sea, sometimes in shrubberies excluding the 
sun, through which here and there you get peeps of 
the -^gean far below; from these again you penetrate 
inland, from time to time, into dells filled with planes 
and chestnuts, and embowered with creepers — a wilder- 
ness of leafy shade — places which Shelley would have 
delighted in ; from the openings in which the majestic 
peak is frequently visible, its lower slopes melting into 
purple haze, while its summit assumes that unearthly, 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. III. Climate. $7 

ethereal, lilac-grey tinge, which I have before mentioned. 
The positions of the monasteries are singularly pictu- 
resque: a few are built in secluded positions on the 
higher ridge, but the greater number of them are situated i 
on the seaboard, either at the mouths of gorges, or rising 
from promontories of rock which project into the sea. 

The principal exports are wood, charcoal, and nuts, of . 
which last article a large quantity is carried to Constan- 
tinople. The climate is healthy and the air extremely 
fine. The monasteries which lie under the western pre- 
cipices are much exposed to the summer heat, and on 
some of those higher up the mountain snow often lies in 
winter for several days together ; but on the whole the 
temperature is equable, and epidemics are almost un- 
known. It may have been owing to this that, in ancient 
times, according to Lucian,' the inhabitants of Athos 
were celebrated for their loiigevity, being said to reach 
130 years of age. In one or two of the larger monasteries 
there are resident physicians ; but many of the monks, 
partly perhaps from being unaccustomed to medical 
treatment, seem to take rather a fatalist view of diseases. 
At one place where there were lepers, I asked whether 
they came to Athos to be cured. " No, not to be cured," 
was the reply ; " they get well whenever the Holy Virgin 
pleases :" and on another occasion some of them said, 
"We have brethren in the monastery who can treat slight 
maladies ; the greater diseases we leave to God." We 
shall not perhaps be far wrong in tracing here the influ- 
ence of Mahometanism. But the same feeling existed 
among the ancient Greeks as well. In the 'Odyssey,' 
when the Cyclops at the mouth of Polyphemus' cave 

• Lttcian, 'Macrobii,* cap. 5. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

5 8 Mount A thos. Chap. III. 

enquire the cause of his ravings, they are represented as 
saying, " It is in no wise possible to escape disease sent 
by mighty Zeus." * 

My companion and I had spent a week in this [inte- 
resting place in the spring of 1853 ; but as there were 
many objects which we were obliged to leave unseen at 
that time, and many points in connection with the life of 
the monks which we were anxious further to investigate, 
we were glad to have this opportunity of revisiting it. 
We expected to find that the number of visitors would 
have greatly increased since our former stay, particularly 
as a Russian steamer from Constantinople had begun in 
the interval to touch on the western coast. We were 
consequently surprised to discover that fewer travellers 
come there now than formerly. At one monastery, when 
we asked the monk who waited on us whether they saw 
many strangers — "Oh! yes," he replied, **they come 
from all the kingdoms of the world" — an instance of the 
Scripture phraseology which not unfrequently occurs in 
the monks* conversation : however, when we questioned 
hiin more closely, he allowed that no one had been there 
for two years. On several occasions, when we asked 
what they supposed to be the reason of this change, we 
received almost identically the same answer, that they 
could not altogether account for it, but they thought 
"there was misfortune and poverty abroad in the world." 
Eight years had sufficed to work numerous changes. 
Many of the old superiors, whom we had seen in 1853, 
were now no more ; parts of two monasteries had been 
shaken down by earthquakes ; other buildings had suf- 
fered from the effects of fires ; and one monastery had 
altered its constitution and form of government We 

' vovffov V othrws tvn A(b$ /ueTcUov ix^aofoi. — Od. ix. 411. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. III. Rigorous Fast 59 

noticed also, what to us was particularly agreeable, a 
marked improvement in respect of cleanliness in the 
rooms we occupied. In one respect our visit was some- 
what ill-timed — for the day of our arrival coincided with 
the commencement of a fourteen days* fast, which pre- 
cedes the festival of the Repose of the Virgin, the strictest 
in the year next to Lent. As the monks do not eat meat 
even on feast days, we had not expected to have our 
carnivorous appetites satisfied ; but we were rather dis- 
mayed at finding that we could not even get fish — not 
because the monks wished to make us conform to their 
rules, for they gaye us the very best of what they had, 
but because they did not catch fish at that time. On one 
or two occasions they paid us the acceptable compliment 
of sending out a boat to take some for us; but the 
greater part of the twelve days of our sojourn there we 
subsisted on rice, eggs, vegetables, and wine. We had, 
however, some compensation in being able to observe the 
extreme rigour of an Athos fast. 

The name of the monastery under which we landed, 
Vatopedi (^aronralZiov), is derived, according to the 
monks, from the legend that the Emperor Arcadius, 
when an infant, having been shipwrecked on the coast, 
was found miraculously preserved under a thorn-bush ; 
and in acknowledgment of this, his father, Theodosius 
the Great, erected the monastery and called it Vatopedi, 
or " The bush of the child." The story is embodied in 
an extremely rude and quaint woodcut of the monastery, 
which was presented to us on our departure ; but in 
reality there can be little doubt that the name originally 
signified " The plain of thorn-bushes " (BaroTr^Stoi/), thus 
describing the comparatively level ground on which it 
stands. When we reached the shore we sent on our drago- 
man to give notice of our coming, and ourselves proceeded 

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6o Mount A tkos. Chap. 1 1 L 

to bathe; after which we also made our way to the 
monastery. The forms with which a traveller is received 
on his arrival are universally the same : after delivering^ 
his letter of introduction to the porter, who carries it to 
the hegumen or warden, he is conducted to the guest 
chamber, one of the best rooms in the monastery, 
generally commanding a superb view, where he is regaled 
with sweetmeats, arrack, cold water, and coffee; and 
when he is supposed to be sufficiently rested, he receives 
a visit from the superiors and some of the more intel- 
ligent monks, who, before they leave the room, inquire if 
he would like to "eat bread." There are ceremonies 
also which accompany his departure, though they are not 
so regularly observed. These are the stirrup-cup or 
" tooth-wash," as it is called (ttT^voBovtiop), a small glass 
of good wine, and apologies for any omissions which may 
be supposed to have occurred in his entertainment, offered 
by the superiors at the gateway. Besides the visits just 
mentioned, which are renewed throughout the day, we 
had frequent opportunities, during our sojourn in each 
convent, of talking to the monks in the courts and 
corridors, or while we were seeing in their company the 
objects of interest which they had to show ; and as both 
parties were equally anxious to ask questions, the result 
was that our life on the Holy Mountain became one con- 
stant stream of conversation, from which we could not 
fail to learn a great deal, not only of the system and 
manner of life, but also of the feelings and modes of 
thought, of the monks. 

The monastery showed evident signs of being in a 
flourishing condition. Its numbers had increased of late 
years, and it now contained 300 monks, together with 
servants and dependants amounting to about as many 
more. Since our last visit they had erected a hospital, 

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Chap. III. MofiasHc Opulence. 6 1 

and they were engaged in rebuilding the walls and 
adjacent dwellings in one part which had been burnt 
down. The strings of well-fed mules, too, which stood 
outside the gate of entrance, suggested the idea of 
opulence. As seen from without, its appearance is very- 
striking, from the vast extent of ground covered by its 
buildings, which, like those of all the monasteries, are 
enclosed by a high wall, and from the variety of forms it 
presents to the eye, and the rich colours of its lichen- 
covered roofs. Nor is the aspect of the interior less 
remarkable, from the quaintness and variety of the 
structures which surround the great court, and the tall 
campanile, which rises by itself in the centre of it It is 
not my object, however, to enter into details about the 
various edifices, as I hope to give a more minute descrip- 
tion of one of the monasteries further on; but the 
principal church should be noticed in passing, as it is 
certainly one of the most ancient on Athos. Although 
in most of its architectural features and elaborate decora- 
tions it is not distinguishable from ordinary Byzantine 
buildings, yet there are two peculiarities which argue 
a great antiquity. These are the mosaics above and at 
the sides of the western doors, and the fact that the 
eastern apse is polygonal instead of being semicircular. 
When these are found, there is every reason for believing 
that the structure to which they belong is not later than 
the tenth century. The monks ascribe it to Theodosius, 
but this, like most of their statements with regard to 
events of high antiquity, is deserving of no credit. One 
relic which it contains is the object of the greatest 
veneration. This is the girdle of the Virgin Mary, which 
appears to be of leather, as far as one can see through 
the glass case in which it is kept, and is ornamented with 
diamonjjs and numerous rows of rudely worked and very 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

62 Mount A thos. Chap. 1 1 L 

ancient pearls. So great is the fame of its miraculous 
powers throughout the iEgean, that frequently, when a 
city is afflicted with pestilence, it is sent for to restore 
health to the inhabitants. There is also a cup of the 
Emperor Michael Palaeologus, which is composed of a 
transparent kind of cement; said to be made out of 
twelve different stones ; it is supported by a metal stand 
of some height. 

When Prince Alfred was in the Levant he paid a visit 
to this monastery, and the monks looked back to it with 
great pleasure. Among its inmates, at the time of our 
stay, were three Greek Bishops, one of whom, the Bishop 
of Varna, had retired thither of his own accord, from 
preference for the monastic life ; the others were in exile, 
for Athos, among the other purposes which it serves, 
is used as a place of rustication for refractory prelates, 
who are often removed from their sees on very trivial 
charges. One of them, the Bishop of Philippopolis, was 
said to have been deprived by the influence of the then 
French ambassador at Constantinople. I need hardly 
tell my readers that the bishops throughout the Eastern 
Church are taken from the monasteries, and not from 
the ranks of the secular clergy; it may therefore be 
regarded, perhaps, as a merciful arrangement, that when 
they are banished, they should be sent to the place from 
which they came. 

On the hillside, some way above Vatopedi, are the 
ruins of an extensive building, which was the scene of a 
great experiment on the Holy Mountain. It was a school, 
founded in the last century by the enlightened Eugeniiis 
Bulgaris of Corfu, in the hope of making the peninsula 
in some measure a centre of learning and education for 
the Eastern world. For some time it flourished, and 
was attended by numerous scholars, but, like other 

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Chap. III. Village of Caryes. 63 

schemes of the kmd in Turkey, it ultimately failed, in 

this instance, rather on account of the opposition of the 

more ignorant monks and an uncongenial atmosphere^ 

than from the remoteness of its situation. Any one who 

has seen the number of students that flock to the Uni- ^ 

versity of Athos at the beginning of a term from the ^- €^ j 

neighbouring parts of Turkey, notwithstanding long .,-j 

quarantines and other obstacles, cannot but feel that 

such institutions are needed, and under more favourable 

circumstances might be successful. Still further up the 

mountain, in a sheltered nook, lies the Russian skete, or 

community, of St Andrew, bearing the name of their 

patron saint It is attached to Vatopedi. 

The day after our arrival we proceeded on mules, lent 
to us by the monks of Vatopedi, to Caryes, or "The 
Hazels," the central and only village in Athos, where the 
Holy Synod of the mountain holds its sittings, and 
the Turkish governor resides. This village, which lies in 
a lovely position high up on the eastern slopes of the 
central ridge, in the midst of the trees from which it 
takes its name, consists mainly of one long street, with 
open shops forming a kind of bazaar, and is remarkable 
for its cleanliness, and for the entire absence of women 
and children. The exclusion of females from Athos is 
absolute : not only are women prevented from landing 
on its sacred shores, but no cow, ewe, shegpat, sow, hen, 
or other creature of the forbidden sex, is under any 
circumstances admitted. This restriction, which seems 
absurd at first sight, is in reality a singular parallel to 
some of the ordinances of the Mosaic law; such, for 
instance, as those in Lev. xix. 19, where garments of 
mixed linen and woollen texture are forbidden to be 
worn ; the object being in both instances to enforce the 
main precept by keeping it before the mind of the 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

64 Mount Athos. Chap. III. 

people in a number of minor analogous cases. Even 
the Turkish governor is obliged to leave his Harem 
behind him during his term of residence. This officer, 
the representative of the Porte, and the only Mahometan 
who is allowed to live here, is in reality of very little 
influence in the affairs of the monastic community, his 
duties being for the most part confined to the collection 
of- taxes. The defence of the district is confided to a 
body of about twenty-five Christian soldiers, who may 
sometimes be seen in the monasteries, flaunting about in 
their gay Albanian dresses; but they are under the 
direction of the Holy Synod. The independence and 
immunities of Athos, in respect of which it is the most 
favoured part of the Turkish dominions, are of long 
standing. Shortly before the taking of Constantinople 
the monks of that period agreed to submit to the rule of 
Amurath II., on his guaranteeing them the privileges 
which they then enjoyed, and this engagement has been 
observed with tolerable fidelity by later Sultans. The 
tribute, when divided among the different monasteries, 
amounts to about ten shillings a head, and they are not 
exposed to any irregular exactions. 

The Holy Synod of the Mountain is a representative 
body, which, like the Councils of our two English Uni- 
versities, manages the general affairs of the community 
at large, without interfering with the independent self- 
government of the several monasteries. Each of the 
twenty monasteries sends a representative {aimirpoa'miros), 
who is maintained at Caryes at the expense of his 
society; besides these, there are four presidents (eVt- 
oraTiu), taken in rotation from the different monasteries, 
who form the administrative body ; and one of them again, 
according to a fixed cycle, takes precedence of the rest, 
and during his year of office is called " The First Man of 

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Chap. III. The Holy Synod. 65 

Athos." After paying a visit to the Turkish governor, 
and presenting to him the firman of the new sultan,* 
which he kissed and reverently pressed to his forehead, 
we were introduced to the " First Man," who was a monk 
from Vatopedi, and gave him an introduction which we 
had brought from the Patriarch of Constantinople. We 
were then conducted to the chamber of meeting, a room 
of moderate size, with a divan running round three sides 
of it, where ten of the representatives were waiting to 
receive us. We were seated at the -upper end, and after 
the customary refreshments and some informal conver- 
sation, received a commendatory letter to the monas- 
teries, written by the secretary in ancient Greek, a very 
curious document, stating the object of our visit, and 
requesting them to entertain us and pay attention to our 
"creature comforts" {akyfiarucqv avdiravaiv icaX aveai^v), 
to show us all we desired to see, and to "speed the 
parting guest" from place to place by means of the 
mules of the monasteries (SaA Movaan^puiK&v fcocoi/). This 
letter serves as a passport, to show the monks that your 
visit is sanctioned by the authorities ; as a stimulus to 
their hospitality it certainly is not needed, for it would 
be hard to find elsewhere such unvarying kindness and 
liberal entertainment as the traveller meets with here. 
He is not expected, as in the smaller Greek monasteries 
and the conventual establishments of the west, to defray 
the expenses of his entertainment by a donation ; and 
the means of transit are provided for him gratisy both by 
land and water. A present to the servants, however, will 
generally be found acceptable. 

After the assembly was dismissed, several of the 
caloyers, as the Greek monks are called (/ca\o7€po9, a 

^ Abdul Aziz succeeded to the throne early in the summer of 186 1. 
VOL. I. F 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

66 Mount A tkos. Chap. 1 1 1^ 

good old man), Accompanied us to the school, which has 
been established at Caryes for the education of some of 
the younger monks, two on an average being sent by 
each monastery. It is a commodious building, with well- 
arranged class-rooms, and a library containing editions 
of the classics, and standard authors in several European 
languages ; but it had a deserted aspect, as the school 
was. closed at this time, in consequence of a dispute 
which had arisen amongst the monasteries. The history 
of this I will now relate, not from any wish to expose the 
quarrels of my hospitable entertainers, but because it 
illustrates in a curious way the influence of the Great 
Powers, and of England in particular, in very remote 
districts. Who would imagine that Great Britain could' 
be deeply involved in a dispute of the monks of Athos } 

The subject which was the origin of the dispute carries 
us back to the Emperor Alexius Comnenus. That 
eminent personage founded the two monasteries of Cut- 
lumusi and Pantocratoros, the former of which is close to* 
Caryes on the mountain side, the latter on the sea-coast 
below. He endowed them with adjoining lands, and one 
farm belonging to Pantocratoros lies within the territory 
of Cutlumusi. A dispute arose about a watercourse, that 
fruitful source of litigation, connected with this piece of 
ground. The Holy Synod took up the question, and 
cited the warden of Cutlumusi to appear before them ; 
this however he refused to do, as he knew beforehand 
that judgment would be given against him, and main- 
tained that they had no authority in the matter. The 
Cutlumusi monks had a further story, about a Russian 
general who, during a long stay on Athos, had become 
enamoured of some MSS. in their library, and had 
fomented this quarrel for his own purposes ; but it seemed 
to rest on a somewhat doubtful foundation. However^ 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

^ Chap. III. Monastic Dispute. 67 

one morning a number of the members of the Synod 
^ coming with soldiers, broke open the doors of the 

monastery, seized and imprisoned the most influential 
monks, and stripped the warden naked, in order to search 
his clothes for papers, on a suspicion of treachery. It 
happened, however, that these monks were from the 
Ionian Islands, and therefore British subjects ; so when 
they saw that they had no hopes of redress 'from other 
quarters, they appealed for protection to the consuls at 
Salonica and Cavalla. Mr. Wilkinson, the English consul 
at Salonica, laid the matter before the Pasha of that 
place, whom he found already preparing for a voyage to 
the Holy Mountain ; accordingly when he arrived there, 
and the case was put into his hands, he decided that the 
ejected monks should be reinstated. After procuring 
the acquiescence of the monks generally in various 
changes, such as the dismissal of the guard of soldiers, 
the Pasha returned home laden with presents, or, more 
properly speaking, plunder, in the shape of works of art, 
which he had obtained from the monasteries. At a later 
period, however, by means of representations from the 
Russian embassy at Constantinople, the decision of the 
Pasha was reversed in several points ; in consequence of 
which five of the monasteries, which disapproved of the 
whole proceeding, seceded, and withdrew their represen- 
tatives from the Synod. This was the state of things at 
the time of our visit, but there was some hope of a recon- 
ciliation being brought about by the good offices of 
Mr. Wilkinson. Subsequently, when we were again at 
Salonica, in the summer of 1865, we learned from that 
gentleman that this had been effected shortly after our 
departure, and that outwardly, at all events, harmony 
had been restored. 
We were at that time so accustomed to look on the 

F 2 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 

68 Mount Athos. Chap. III. 

position of the inhabitants of the Ionian Islands towards 
the English as one of undisguised opposition, that' it 
seemed curious to find them relying so much on the pro- 
tection of England when at a distance from home. But, 
as one of them frankly admitted, it was only in the 
Islands, where the fact of the Protectorate was before 
their eyes, that they grumbled, while here they enjoyfed 
all the advantages of a powerful connection. This how- 
ever led to much bitter feeling and jealousy of England 
on the part of the other caloyers. " Whatever fault is 
found with an Ionian monk," they would say, "he cries 
directly, * Hands off ! I'm a British subject ; I shall 
appeal to the English consul.' " But I am bound to add 
that the feeling of these lonians towards an English 
traveller was of the most friendly description, and that 
the disinterested kindness which we received from many 
of them was remarkable, even in the midst of the hospi- 
talities of the Holy Mountain. 

One of the greatest sources of interest in a visit to 
Athos consists in this, that here can be seen in one view 
all the different phases of Eastern monastic life. First 
of all there are the hermits, who dwell, like St. Antony, 
the first anchorite, in perfect solitude, practising the 
sternest asceticism. In the retreats {icajBlafmTa) we find 
small associations of monks living together in retirement, 
and working for a common stock. Again, when a 
number of these retreats are assembled round a central 
church, a skete {aa-tcrfrripLov) is formed, which in some 
cases differs from a monastery only in not possessing an 
independent constitution. And lastly, there are the 
regular monasteries, each enjoying a separate corporate 
existence, possessing lands on the mountain, and gene- 
rally also beyond its limits, and having the right to be 
represented in the Synod. These again must be divided 

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Chap. III. Government of Monasteries. 69 

into two classes, according to their different forms of 
government ; the one kind being Coenobite^ where there is 
one warden or hegumen, and a common stock and com- 
mon table ; the other the IdiorrhythmiCy where *' every- 
man is a rule to himself," and the constitution is a sort of 
republic, the government being in the hands of two 
superiors annually elected ; in these the inmates generally 
take their meals in their own cells, and both in respect of 
laying by money and the disposal of their time are in a 
position of comparative freedom. Here also a wealthy 
monk, if he desires it, can have as many servants as he 
chooses to pay for. The Idiorrhythmic rule is a depar- 
ture from the original form, and of somewhat recent 
introduction ; and it is a significant fact, that by far the 
greater number of the monasteries on the eastern slopes 
have adopted the less stringent discipline, while those 
which lie in more secluded positions under the rugged 
precipices of the western side, have, with only two ex- 
ceptions, remained Coenobite. The monastery of Cut- 
lumusi had been Idiorrhythmic at the time of our former 
visit, but subsequently returned to the stricter rule, and 
its inmates maintained that the change had produced 
great benefit. In the Coenobite convents the monks 
generally communicate once a fortnight, and this is un- 
usually often, according to the practice of the Greek 
Church in this matter. The lands which these monasteries 
possess out of Athos are partly in Macedonia, partly 
in Thasos, Lemnos, and other islands of the ^Egean ; but 
by far the greatest part consists (or, I should rather say, 
consisted) of estates in the Danubian Principalities, which 
were made over to them in former centuries by Hospo- 
dars of Moldavia and Wallachia. From these sources 
some of them derive large revenues, but of late years their 
prosperity has been considerably checked by debts in- 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

yo Mount Attios. Chap. III. 

curred during the Greek War of Independence, when a 
large body of Turkish soldiers was quartered on them 
for nine years, from 1821 to 1830. 

The qualified statement, which has been introduced 
above with regard to their possessions in the Principa- 
lities, is rendered necessary by the important changes 
which have taken place in respect of these since our visit. 
They have, in fact, been confiscated by the government of 
that country. Against this the monks, naturally enough, 
exclaim with great vehemence, but the rights of the case 
seem to be as follows. When the local monasteries in 
Wallachia and Moldavia, to which these properties 
belonged, were originally established, their founders in- 
tended that they should be of service to the country as 
places of refuge and means of assisting the needy. But 
in order to secure the good management of the land and 
its produce, they were attached to one or other of the 
large convents in Greece or the Holy Land, from which 
they received their superior, on the understanding that 
whatever surplus accrued from the property, year by 
year, in addition to the regfular fixed income of the local 
monastery, should be paid over to the convent on which 
they were dependent. In the course of time, however, 
the relative position of the two parties was changed, and 
the local monasteries became completely subject to the 
patron convents, so that they were regarded merely as 
their farms, and the income derived from them went 
entirely out of the country. The Principalities now 
reclaim their lands, as having been alienated from their 
original purpose; and their cause appears a just one, 
though the change must fall with great severity on the 
Greek monasteries, as the present system has existed for 
many generations, and they are accustomed in no slight 
d^ree to look to this source for their support. The 

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Chap. III. Revenues. 71 

question was carefully considered by the European com- 
mission which was sent into the Principalities in 1857, 
and after investigating the original state of things, and 
finding that the circumstances were such as have just 
been stated, they advised a return to the system intended 
by the founders, only with the substitution of a fixed 
annual payment to the Greek monasteries for the former 
fluctuating income, on condition that they should res^n 
all control and all further claims. When Prince Couza 
proceeded to strike the blow by which the Greek monks 
were deprived of their possessions, he promised that an 
indemnification should be paid to them once for all ; 
whether they will ever receive this, however, may be con- 
sidered more than doubtful. These losses, no doubt, will 
greatly cripple their revenues, but it is thought by 
persons who are acquainted with their affairs that the 
Jands and funds which they possess in other quarters will 
be sufficient to enable them to exist* 

The whole number of monks on Athos is believed to 
be about 3000 ; besides these there is a fluctuating popu- 
lation of seculars (icocfuicoC)^ some of whom reside per- 
manently in the monasteries as servants or labourers, 
though without taking any monastic vows, while others 
come for a time from the adjoining country, and after- 
wards retire to their homes. These may perhaps amount 
to 3000 more. The number of monks in the separate 
monasteries varies from 25 to 300, but about 100 is the 
commonest number. It seldom happens, however, that 
all are present at the same time, as a certain proportion 
are generally engaged in superintending the outlying 
farms. We found it extremely difficult to get any 
accurate information on these points, owing to that 

• The whole question is very clearly put in an article in the * Revue des 
JDenx Mondes' for Oct I, 1862, p. 728. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

7? Mount A thos. Chap. 1 1 L 

singular dislike of statistics which is so characteristic of 
Orientals. A Turk, when asked a question of figures, to 
save himself further trouble, replies at once with a good 
round number ; a Greek winces, utters a peculiar excla- 
mation expressing something between doubt and annoy- 

J ance, and when he sees no means of escape tells you as 
much as he knows himself. "How many monks are 
there in the monastery 1 " " Do you mean this monas- 
tery ? " " Yes ; how many are there in this monastery ? " 
** Eigh ! a great many." " But what do you suppose is 
the exact number?" "Eigh! I don't know; about 80 
or 90." We seldom arrived at anything more definite 
than this. By far the greater number of the monks are 
Greeks by race, natives of free Greece, including the 
Ionian Islands, or from the Turkish dominions ; two of 
the monasteries, however, — Zographu and Chilandari, — 
situated in the northern part of the peninsula, are exclu- 
sively inhabited by Bulgarians and Servians, and have 
the service in the Slavonic tongue ; there are also a few 
Georgians in the Iberian monastery ; and there are a • 
great many Russians, who are found partly in the Rus- 
sian monastery and the sketes which they have founded, 
partly scattered about among the other monasteries. It 
was curious to observe the contrast between the children 

' of the north and the south, and I could not help fancying 
that the Greek regarded the Russian as a large uncouth 
being, somewhat like the Troll of the Norse tales, simple- 
minded and easily outwitted. An incident will soon 
occur in the course of our narrative, which will illustrate 
what I mean. Notwithstanding this, as the Russian 
Church has been the progressive branch of the Eastern 
Church since the time of Peter the Great, so the Russian 
monks are the most progressive element in the society of 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. III. Pantocratoros. 73 

the Holy Mountain. The other monks are aware of this, 
and used to speak of their good bell-ringing and har- 
monious chanting, which is indeed an agreeable contrast 
to the dismal drone of the Greek services ; in addition to 
this, the only printing-press on Athos is in the Russian 

When we had arrived at Caryes, we took up our 
quarters at the neighbouring Cutlumusi, where we were 
received with especial attention as being Englishmen, in 
consequence of the suit that was pending. On the even- 
ing of the same day we descended to the other principal 
in the dispute, the monastery of Pantocratoros, or The 
Almighty. Our path lay over steep slopes, commanding 
views of extraordinary beauty, from the hanging woods 
which rose above us to the ridge of the mountain, the wide 
expanse of sea below, and to the south the winding shores 
of the peninsula, and undulations of fertile land, diversified 
with the white-walled retreats of the monks, and reaching 
far away to the base of the great peak, which displayed 
its fullest proportions, and appeared indescribably beau- 
tiful in the light of the westering sun. Pantocratoros 
is a small monastery, containing only forty monks, and 
its position is confined, as it is placed on a rock which is 
washed on two sides by the sea, with a little port running 
in on the land side, where small vessels can lie. In con- 
sequence of this it is much crowded in its arrangements, 
and the buildings have to be stowed away wherever room 
can be found. One of the superiors, a venerable-looking 
old man, had left the monastery at the time of the War 
of Independence, when the Turks came to Athos, and 
fled to Greece, where he joined the insurgents, but sub- 
sequently he had returned. We were sitting with him and 
some of the others in a room overlooking the sea, which 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

74 Mount Atfios. Chap. III. 

was dashing in below, when suddenly they exclaimed, 
"''Ah! here he is; here comes the Archimandrite!"* As 
we looked up, in expectation of some great dignitary, there 
walked, or rather rolled, into the room a burly man, whose 
light hair and ruddy complexion formed a complete con- 
trast to the appearance of the other monks. He tumbled 
himself down on the divan, and turning to us, exclaimed, 
laughing, ** Good evening ; you are welcome : I am a 
Muscovite — a barbarian ! " We returned his salutations, 
and then I asked, " As there are so many monasteries in 
Russia, why do you come to Athos ? Why do you not 
remain in one of the establishments in your own country ? " 
^' It's because of the women, sir," he replied ; " it's the 
women ! In Russia there are women in the monasteries, 
and I can't endure them; and therefore I come here, 
where there are no women." ' And then he went off into 
a rigmarole story in broken Greek, until the rest of the 
company told him, in very plain terms, that he was a 
bore, and talked unintelligible nonsense ; on which he 
took himself off, but, before the evening was over, showed 
that he was not offended, by sending us some tea (rjalf), 
which is found wherever the Russians are. 

Among the relics preserved in this convent there is a 
very old book containing the Gospels and other writings, 
mentioned by Mr. Curzon, probably of the eleventh cen- 
tury, in extremely minute handwriting, accompanied by 
small delicate illuminations: the binding, which is of 
silver, and very curious, is embossed with strange figures, 
and has chainwork at the back, which yields when it is 

• This name, which in Russia still retains its original sense of "head of a 
monastery," in the Byzantine Church is simply titular. 

' In most of the Greek monasteries, except those of Athos, women of 
advanced age are admitted as servants. These are called KoXiypiaiy that 
name being the feminine of 'caloyer.* Nunneries, as such, are almost 
unknown in the Greek church. 

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Chap. III. The Sand-bath. 75 

opened. The only other thing which deserves special 
notice is the frescoes of the interior of the church, which 
are ancient and well executed, the arrangement of the 
groups of figures being more carefully studied than is 
usual in Byzantine painting. Those of the outer part of 
the building have been restored, but exactly in the old 
style. Leaving Pantocratoros, we rode southward along 
the coast in the direction of Iveron, and stopped on the 
way for a short time at the intermediate monastery of 
Stavroniceta, which, like the one we had just left, 
stands on a projecting mass of rock, whose steep sides 
descend below it into the sea, and rises conspicuous with 
its massive tower. Beyond it there is a small skete be- 
longing to Cutlumusi, from which that society procures 
its fish. Just before passing this we saw a patient under- 
going the sand-bath, a curious and primitive remedy for 
rheumatism. He was buried in the shingle up to his 
chest, his head and shoulders alone appearing, and an 
umbrella was spread over him, to protect him from the 
scorching rays of the sun. 

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( 7(^ ) 

MOUNT ATHOS (continued). 

Monastery of Iveron — Description of it — The central Church — Byzantine 
Pictures — The Refectory — The Library— Miraculous Picture — Theory 
of Eastern Monastic Life — Occupations of the Monks — Their love of 
tranquillity — Fallmerayer influenced by it — Mysticism — Monastery of 
Philotheu — Caracalla — The Lavra — Relics and Jewellery — Retreat of 
" the Forerunner" — A Conversation on Canals — A Pamter — Legends 
of the Peak — Ascent to the Summit — Festival of the Transfiguration 
-— Light of Tabor. 

Our next resting-place was the convent of Iveron, that is, 
of the Iberians or Georgians, which was founded by three 
persons of that nation at the end of the tenth century, 
and stands near the sea, between steep wooded hills, at 
the mouth of a deep valley, which runs down eastward 
from the central ridge. As it ranks the third in number 
and importance, and is a good specimen of the larger 
Idiorrhythmic monasteries, I propose to describe it some- 
what minutely. In shape it is an irregular square, and 
its appearance is extremely imposing, as the high stone 
wall by which it is surrounded makes it resemble a vast 
castle. The domestic buildings, however, by which this 
wall is surmounted are entirely at variance with this mi- 
litary aspect : they are of wood, singularly picturesque, 
projecting at different levels and angles, and supported 
by sloping beams, which lean like brackets against the 
wall. From the roofs of these houses rise numerous 
-chimneys, many of which, like the house-fronts them- 
selves, are painted with bright colours; behind these 
appear the domes of the church ; while at the back of all 
a massive tower, which was probably used as a watch- 

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Chap. IV. Iveron. 77 

tower in more troublous times,^ forms a conspicuous 
object Close to a dry river-bed, which lies behind the 
monastery, is a poor-house, where distressed seculars are 
provided for; and on the heights above is a skete for 
lepers, who, as well as madmen, are sent to the Holy 
Mountain to be taken care of. It is no slight praise to 
the monks that they provide a refuge for these outcasts 
of society. Again, on the hills to the north, is a skete 
for Georgians, to which nation also 10 of the 200 inmates 
of the monastery belong. The cemetery may generally 
be distinguished by a group of cypresses ; but there are 
no tombstones, as the bones are removed a certain time 
after interment, and laid in a common heap. 

Entering the monastery by the gateway, we pass 
through a dark and winding passage, intended apparently 
to baffle a besieging force, and find ourselves in the great 
court, in the centre of which, detached from the other 
buildings, stands the principal church. What first attracts 
our attention on looking round is the extreme irregularity 
of everything. In one place you see a wooden cloister, 
in another an outhouse ; here a chapel appears, there a 
vine-covered trellis peeps out, and the mixed brick and 
stone work of the more regular buildings contributes to 
increase the variety. Not the least conspicuous objects 
are two magnificent cypresses with velvet foliage, which 
rise near the east end of the church. It is this pic- 
turesqueness which constitutes the charm of domestic 
buildings of the Byzantine style, to which all these mo- 
nasteries belong ; for they cannot aspire to beauty, and 

' Abp. Georgirenes (* Description of the present state of Samos, Patmos, 
Nicaria, and Mount Athos*) says, in a.d. 1678, speaking of the monastery 
of Lavra (p. 88), ** They have a strong magazine, and a sentinel perpetually 
standing to give notice of any Corsair;" and of St Gregory's (p. 95), that 
it is " near the sea, and much infested with pirates, for want of fortifications 
and men to defend it, having but sixty monks." 

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78 Mount Athos. Chap. IV. 

the few which are built regularly are far from pleasing. 
As wood is so much used as a material for building, 
many parts of these structures must be of a compara- 
tively late date ; but still they represent to us very fairly 
the original edifices, in consequence of the conservative 
and traditionary spirit of the Greek Church, which 
appears nowhere so strikingly as on Athos ; in accord- 
ance with which every part, when it falls into decay, is 
repaired so as to correspond in style, even if it is not 
exactly similar, to the original design. 

Let us now visit what in all the monasteries is the 
most important building, the central church, entering at 
the west end, and observing as we pass the subjects of 
the frescoes, which are disposed in regular order along the 
walls.* We first find ourselves in the proaulion, or porch, 
a corridor supported on the outside by light pillars, 
running the whole width of the building : in this part are 
represented scenes from the Apocalypse, especially the 
punishment of the wicked ; and in one place there are 
pictures of the CEcumenical Councils, that of Nice being 
particularly striking. In this Athanasius is represented 
as a young man stooping down to write the Creed, while 
Arius is in the act of disputing between his two g^eat ad- 
versaries, Spiridion and Nicholas, and on the right of this 
group is a band of Arians, dressed as philosophers, some 
of whom are coming into the council chamber to recant 
their errors, whilst the rest are being driven into a prison 
by a man armed with a club. Passing onwards from the 
Proaulion, we enter the narthex, or antechapel, which 
contains representations of various forms of martyrdom : 
on either side of the central door, which leads into the 

* For the plan of a Byzantine church, though differing slightly from that 
which is here described, the reader is referred to the ground-plan of the 
church in the monastery of St. Demetrius, on Mount Ossa, in voL iL 

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Chap. IV. The Central Church. 79 

second narthex, are figures of SS. Peter and Paul. These 
narthexes, which are divided by walls from one another 
and from the body of the church, seem originally to have 
been intended for catechumens and penitents, and must 
have been introduced into the monastic churches more 
for the sake of maintaining the usual type, than with a 
view to actual use : as it is, they are employed for the 
celebration of the more ordinary services, and when 
the body of the church is too small for the number of 
worshippers, they serve to provide additional room. In 
the second narthex are frescoes of saints and hermits, 
who look down in g^m solemnity from the walls : the 
hermits especially are most striking objects, being almost 
human skeletons, and stark naked, except for their long 
grey beards, which reach to the ground. From this we 
pass into the .main body of the church, which is in the 
form of a Greek cross, with a central cupola supported 
on four pillars, which symbolize the Four Evangelists. 
At the east end and in the transepts are semi-cupolas, 
but the whole of the sanctuary is concealed by the Icono- 
stase, a wooden screen reaching nearly to the roof, and 
most elaborately carved and gilt, in which are set pic- 
tures of our Lord and saints. The position of two of 
the frescoes in this part is invariably the same in all the 
monasteries : in the cupola is a colossal figure of the Sa- 
viour, and over the western door of entrance a represen- 
tation of the Repose {Kolfj/qa-i,^) of the Virgin. Other 
parts of the walls are covered with Scripture subjects, 
and generally in one of the transepts is a group of young 
warrior saints, among whom St George is always con- 
spicuous. From the drum of the cupola hangs an elegant 
brass coronal, and from this are suspended silver lamps, 
small Byzantine pictures, and ostrich eggs, which are said 
to symbolize faith, according to a strange but beautiful 

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8o Mount Atkos. Chap. IV. 

fable, that the ostrich hatches its eggs by gazing stead- 
fastly at them : within this coronal again is a large chan- 
delier. The floor is ornamented in parts with opusAlexan- 
drinunty a kind of inlaid work in white marble, porphyry, 
and verd antique ; and here and there are placed lecterns, 
elaborately decorated with mother-of-pearl and tortoise- 
shell. The stalls are ranged all round the sides, and are 
provided with misereres^ which, however, are seldom used, 
as the monks generally stand during the whole service. 

At first sight the general appearance of the building- 
seems rather marred by the multiplicity of details 
crowded into so small a space; but, when the eye is 
once accustomed to this, the effect is magnificent, from 
the brilliancy of the ornaments and the harmonious 
though sober colours of the frescoes. In the Byzantine 
pictures, as well as the frescoes, which one sees on Athos, 
the drawing and perspective are generally bad, and 
when the description of strong passion or violent action 
IS attempted, they are often indescribably grotesque ; 
and we look in vain for the delicacy and spirituality of 
Fra Angelico; but the more passive feelings, such as 
humility, resignation, and devotion, are often admirably 
expressed, with a grace and sweetness which are rarely 
found in the specimens by which Byzantine art is repre- 
sented in Western Europe.* There was, however, one 
artist of real power, some of whose frescoes still re- 
main in the peninsula, called Panselenus, a name but 
little known away from Athos. He lived in the' nth or 
1 2th century, and is called by M. Didron "the Raphael, 
or rather the Giotto, of the Byzantine school." His 
most famous works are in the church at Caryes, and 

• M. Didron says ('Manuel dlconographie Chr^tienne,* p. xlv.), "La 
beaut^ des andens ouvrages de cette ^le est incontestable.'' He attri- 
butes the oldest of the frescoes to the ninth century. 

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Chap. IV. Byzantine Pictures. 8i 

consist of single figures and groups of saints, the drapery 
and arrangement of which are excellent, and the faces 
full of originality and power. There are also frescoes 
attributed to him in the monasteries of Pantocratoros 
and Lavra, and though we are naturally suspicious of the 
indiscriminate use of a distinguished name, yet these are 
so superior to the ordinary pictures, as to make it 
probable that they are by his hand. 

Returning to the external porch of the church, we see 
two Semantra, or instruments for calling the brethren to 
prayers. One of these is a long flat board, narrow in the 
centre, so that it may be grasped by one hand, while 
it is struck with a wooden mallet by the other. The 
second is of iron, resembling a piece of the tire of a 
wheel, which is struck with a hammer. The monotonous 
sound of these instruments may often be heard in the 
dead of night, summoning the caloyers to the midnight 
service. Outside the west end of the church is an 
elegant cupola supported on pillars, inside which is a 
stone basin, where the holy water is blessed which is 
used in the ceremonies of the Epiphany and in other rites 
of the Greek church. Opposite this is the Refectory 
(T/w»7r€5a), a building in the form of a Latin cross, along 
the walls of which, inside, are ranged small stone tables, 
one of which at the further end is placed so as to form a 
high table. At the angle, where one of the transepts 
joins the nave, is a pulpit, attached to the wall, from 
which the homily is read during meals. Most of the 
refectories are decorated with frescoes of saints along the 
side walls, and a representation of the Last Supper over 
the high table ; but here the structure is of a recent date, 
and consequently plain, as the monks have not yet been 
able to afford the decorations. Over the entrance of the 
refectory is a bell tower, in the lower story of which 

VOL. I. • G 

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S2 Mount Athos. Chap. IV. 

a new library has been constructed ; to this some of the 
books were being removed from the old library, a con- 
fined room over the church porch. The contents of 
these libraries consist mainly of Greek ecclesiastical 
writings, together with a fair number of classical authors 
and mathematical works. I noticed also a good many 
books published at Venice at the beginning of this cen- 
tury. In this library there is a curious Greek translation 
of Goldsmith's history of Greece, which was "well 
spoken of" by the monks. The best account of the 
libraries generally will be found in Dr. Hunt's notice in 
Walpole's 'Turkey;' of the MSS. a full description is 
given in Mr. Curzon's ' Monasteries of the Levant' I 
shall therefore only occasionally refer to some of the 
most remarkable. Many of these are fine works of art ; 
but the effects of damp and neglect are sadly visible. 
It is possible that unknown literary treasures may still 
be concealed in these libraries ; but they have been so 
carefully examined by savants from Russia and else- 
where, that it is hardly likely. It is, however, the 
opinion of competent authorities, that the contents of 
the liturgical and musical manuscripts are of great value 
for those subjects, and that the publication of the 
charters and numerous other documents would throw 
a vast amount of light on Byzantine history.* 

Among the other buildings which are most worthy of 
notice are the kitchen, a curious square building, in the 
centre of which is the hearth, and a long chimney running up 
through the roof; the underground cellars, which contain 
some huge tuns ; and the numerous chapels and oratories, 
which are found in all parts of the building. There are 

* See Gass's essay, *De CJaustris in Monte Atho sitis Commentatio 
Historica,' pp. 60, 61. 

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Chap. IV. Miraculous Picture, 83 

as many as twenty-two of these,* and one, which is built 
near the gateway, contains a miraculous picture of the 
Virgin, the story of which is worth relating, as a specimen 
of the numerous legends which abound on Athos, and 
are believed and told by the monks with the simplest 
faith. It was cast into the sea near Nicaea, but was 
carried safely to the Holy Mountain. When it had been 
brought to the monastery, and the monks were deliberating 
where they should place it, it knocked several times on a 
spot close to the gate, to signify that her chapel should 
be erected there; and from this circumstance she is 
called the Portaitissa, or Portress. In one part there 
is a scar, where an unbeliever stuck his lance into it ; 
blood issued immediately ; and the malefactor was con- 
verted and died a saint : he is represented in a fresco in 
the narthex of- the chapel, where he is called " The Bar- 
barian Saint." The face of the picture, like most of the 
sacred paintings of the Greek Church, is in the hardest style ; 
but it is surrounded by embossed work, or sheathing, of 
gold, which is covered with the most magnificent jewels. 
A copy of it was taken to Russia in the 17th century, 
by order of the Patriarch Nicon, and is still to be seen 
at Moscow.* 

Having thus taken a survey of the buildings of the 
monastery, let us enquire, what is the employment of 
the pale, grave men, with long beards and flowing hair, 
dressed in dark blue serge gowns, and high caps, who 
move about its court and its corridors. But first, perhaps 
it may be well for us to notice some of the points in 

• It is said that there are in all 935 churches, chapels, and oratories, on 
the Holy Mountain. 

• See Stanle3r*s 'Eastern Church,' p. 424. The legend, with some 
variations from the account given me by the monks, is related at length in 
the * Travels of Macariiis,* il p. 172. 

G 2 

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84 Mount At/ios. Chap. IV. 

which the life of the monks of Athos differs from our 
ordinary ideas of monastic life. 

)t In the first place, then, only a small proportion of 
these monks are clergVy and the clerical office is in no 
way connected with the monastic profession. Even in 
the large establishments, such as Vatopedi and Iveron, it 
is not usual to find more than ten or twelve of the com- 
munity in Holy Orders ; and at Philotheu, the smallest 
of the monasteries, there were but three priests, just 
enough to carry on the services. Still less are they 

•y teachers or missioiiaries, except in one instance, the Bul- 
garian monastery of Chilandari, where, of late years, a 
system has been established of sending a number of 
ordained monks into Bulgaria on a sort of home mission, 
to assist the parish priests in extensive districts. This 
" Apostolic " system, as they call it, is said to have worked 
well, but it is wholly an excrescence from the monastic 
life of Athos. Again, they are not students, or learned 

^ men, though from the way in which the books have been 
used and marked in the libraries, there is evidence that 
there were such among them in former times ; and they 
have traditions of a period, shortly before the taking of 
Constantinople, when teachers went out from this place, 
as a centre, to the whole of the Eastern church. Now, 
however, the libraries are rarely opened, and the monks 
do not pretend to make study a part of their occupation. 
Yet they profess a desire for learning, and we perceived 
many signs of a move in that direction, especially in the 
wealthier convents. The existence of the school at 
Caryes is in itself a proof of this : the books, too, which 
they possess are beginning to be more cared for than for- 
merly, and here and there catalogues have been made : one 
or two of the monasteries also have lately sent some 
of their younger members to the University of Athens 

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Chap. IV. Eastern Monastic Life. 85 

to study at the expense of the society, in order that they 
in turn may become teachers to the rising generation. 
A few of the monks we found to be acquainted with the 
ancient Greek authors; and one or two would have 
passed an excellent examination in the details of Greek 
history. One remarkably intelligent young fellow, who 
had left his convent on a former occasion, against the 
will of the Hegumen, in order to get instruction at 
Athens, amused us by remarking, " I don't get on par- 
ticularly well with Hellenic (ancient Greek) ; Xenophon 
and some other authors I can read easily enough, but 
I find the speeches in Thucydides so very hard ! " We 
consoled him by telling him that he was not singular 
in his difficulties. Modern languages are almost entirely 
unknown ; only a few could speak a little French or 
Italian ; and theology, to which at least one would 
expect that some time would be devoted, is hardly in-. 
a better condition. In fact, the great proportion of the [ 
caloyers are of the class of peasants and artizans, and / 

are wholly uneducated and ignorant > 

Still the ludicrous inexperience of ordinary things, 
which has been attributed to them, certainly does not 
exist now. There may be monks who have never seen a 
woman, or who believe that Western Europe is governed 
by an Emperor of the Franks, or that England is situated 
in London; but anyhow the generality must not be 
estimated from them, any more than from the more 
intelligent men whom I have mentioned above. There 
is hardly one monastery in which they do not from time 
to time see some newspaper, either the 'Byzantis' of 
Constantinople, or one of the Athens journals ; and a 
good many had seen, and some even took in, the Greek 
newspaper published in London, the * Bretannikos Aster,' 
which was in high favour on account of its illustrations 

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86 Mount Athos. Chap. I v;. 

Accordingly, one of the commonest questions to be 
asked us was, whether the Queen had recovered her 
health ; and they were quite ready to talk on such 
subjects as Victor Emmanuel and the state of Italy, the 
war in America, and the Atlantic Telegraph, the Levia- 
than, as they called the * Great Eastern,' the Suez Canal, 
and similar topics of the day. All these things, nO' 
doubt, were regarded from a very distant point of view :. 
indeed, it is the effect of a secluded spot, like the Holy 
Mountain, where the routine of life is so unexciting, and 
the pulse seems to beat faintly, to make even a stranger 
look upon the events of the world around " as through a 

But if the monks of Athos are neither clergy, nor 
missionaries, nor students, yet they realize the primitive 
idea of monasticism in a way in which it is not realized 
elsewhere. When Antony and his followers withdrew 
to the deserts of Egypt, their object was not the pursuit 
of learning, or the benefit of their fellow-men, but retire- 
ment from a dangerous and distracting world, and 
leisure for devotion and religious exercises. This idea 
of monastic life is still maintained in the Eastern Church ;, 
and accordingly, as in those early times there was no 
distinction of Monastic Orders, so here one rule alone is 
followed, that established by St. Basil. Six or seven 
hours of every day, and more on Sundays, are occupied 
by the Church services ; and on some of the greater 
festivals the almost incredible time of from sixteen to 
twenty hours is spent in church.'' Their life is one of the 
sternest bodily mortification. In the Coenobite convents 

' For an account of the services and other details connected with the 
monasteries, the reader is referred to an elaborate and impartial article 
in the 'Christian Remembrancer' for April, 1851, to which I am much> 

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Chap. IV. Occupations of the Monks, 8y 

they never touch meat, and rarely in the Idiorrhythmic. 
Nearly half the days in the year are fast days, and on 
these they take only one meal, which is generally com- 
posed of bread, vegetables, and water : and during the 
first three days of Lent those whose constitutions can 
stand it, eat nothing. In addition to this they never get 
an unbroken night's rest, as the first service commences 
between i and 2 A.M. The remainder of their time 
which is not occupied in public prayer is spent by the 
Superiors in the management of the affairs of their 
society, and by the lower monks in various menial occu- 
pations which are required of them. There is, however, 
a class intermediate between these two, whose time 
cannot be so easily accounted for. In the Idiorrhythmic 
convents any person who pays on entrance a sum equal 
to about 45/. of our money, becomes permanently free 
from any obligation to work in the monastery. Those who 
are on this footing must have a considerable amount of 
spare time, and, as far as we could discover, but scanty 
means of employing it. In some of the Coenobite monas- 
teries the brethren work in the fields ; but even in these 
it is only for a few hours in the day ; and in general this 
kind of labour, and other outdoor employments, such as 
fishing, are left to the Seculars. 

As the system of life which has just been described 
is not such as to prove attractive to ordinary men, it will 
naturally be asked, what are the inducements and 
motives which lead men to come to Athos, and from 
what classes the monks are chiefly drawn, being, as they 
have been called, gens ceternay in qud nemo nascitur. / 
I have already stated that most of the inferior monks y 
belong to the class of peasants and artisans : a large 
number of these come to this place early in life, between 
the ages of 15 and 25 years, being naturally quiet men. 

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88 Mount Athos. Chap. IV. 

and disposed for a religious life (dpi^a-fceia). Of those 
who come at a more advanced age, some have led 
irregular lives and desire to repent of their sins ; some 
have been monks at other convents, such as those of 
Jerusalem and Mount Sinai; while others have been 
engaged in trade, and similar employments. Among 
those to whom we talked on the subject were a grocer 
from Corfu, a tailor from Constantinople, a merchant 
from Syra, a sailor from Cephalonia, and a leech- 
gatherer from Larissa in Thessaly, who had been em- 
ployed there by a man who rented the monopoly of 
leeches from the Government. Very few, even of the 
superiors, are above the class of tradesmen or merchants. 
But when we came to enquire, further, what constituted 
the attractiveness of the monastic life, we constantly 

Jeceived the same reply — tranquillity {w^^h rest of 
►ody_^and_soul, which was Valued by some as freeing 
them from temptation and giving them time for devotion, 
by others as securing them comparative ease ; by the 
greater number probably from a mixture of these two feel- 
ings. But to the Christian subjects of the Porte the first 
attraction is the security which they enjoy here, and 
freedom from the ill-treatment and exactions to which 
they are exposed elsewhere. No one could travel 
through the parts of Macedonia and Albania, which we 
visited later in the summer, and hear, as we heard, 
both from the natives themselves and from less pre- 
judiced sources, of the utter insecurity of life and 
property among the rayoAs, and their sad persecution 
by their Turkish oppressors — murders, violence, rob- 
beries, and extortion, being quite ordinary occurrences — 
without often saying to himself " Who would not gladly 
be a monk on Athos, rather than suffer these miseries ? " 
The monks of Athos are not the only persons in the 

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Chap. IV. Love of Tranquillity, 89 

present day for whom the "tranquillity" of which we 
have just spoken has had powerful attractions. Fall- 
merayer, the German historian and man of letters, who 
IS best known for his thankless attempt to prove that the 
modem Greeks have no Hellenic blood in their veins, 
confesses that, during his visit to this spot, he was sorely 
tempted to yield himself up to it He thus describes 
his own feelings and those of the caloyers. " * Forsake 
the world and join us,' said the monks ; ' with us you 
will find your happiness. Do but look at the Retreat 
there with its fair walls, at the hermitage on the moun- 
tain, how the westering sun flashes on its window-panes ! 
How charmingly the chapel peeps out from the bright 
green of the leafy chestnut forest, in the midst of vine- 
branches, laurel hedges, valerian, and myrtle ! How the 
water bubbles forth, bright as silver, from beneath the 
stones, how it murmurs amid the oleander bushes! 
Here you will find soft breezes, and the greatest of all 
blessings — freedom and inward peace. For he alone is 
free, who has overcome the world, and has his abode in 
the laboratory of all virtues {ipya<TTqptov iraa&v aper&v) 
on Mount Athos.* It was spoken in perfect sincerity ; 
the pious fathers knew their man ; they recognized in 
him the melancholy, the longings, the appreciation of 
solitude they knew so well, and the magic influence that 
wild woods and the fresh scenes of nature exercise on 
world-weary souls. I was to set up my abode in the 
neighbourhood of their holy society, not as a monk (for 
that a special vocation was required), but as an inde- 
pendent associate ; and was to pass my time, free from 
all constraint, like a temporary participator in earthly 
joys, in prayer, in recollectedness of spirit, in devotional 
reading, in cultivating my garden, and in wandering 
alone, or with others, through the woodland thickets, but 

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90 Mount Athos. Chap. IV, 

evermore in peace, until the thread of life should have 
run out, and the dawning light of the brighter world 
appear. ••**•• it was, I confess, a seductive 

He then proceeds to describe the jar of party conflicts,, 
the confusion of thought, the weary search after know* 
ledge, and all the other disadvantages which accompany 
the progressive movement of western civilization, and 
from which he might have for ever freed himself by 
embracing this proposal.® Many others, when placed in 
the same circumstances, have felt like him. Many an 
Englishman, when, after being long engaged in the 
turmoil of business or political life, he has visited such a 
place of retirement as the Grande Chartreuse, will have 
understood the longing for the permanent enjoyment 
of the life of tranquillity. We cannot wonder, therefore, 
if beneath the sky of Greece, and in the midst of so 
many favouring circumstances, it proves highly attractive 
to the Oriental temperament This state of mind has 
naturally given birth at various times to different forms 
of mysticism, the most remarkable phase of which is 
found in the tenets of those who from this cause received 

• 'Fragmenta aus dem Orient,' ii. p. i. 

* Fallmerayer soon changed his mind when he got back to Salonica. 
His recantation occurs someway further on in his work, but it is amusing to 
put the two passages side by side : — ** Thirty days' penitential living on the 
Holy Mountain had forcibly reduced my spirits to a low pitch, and lent an 
impulse to the longing to enter once more within the sphere of European 
life. If the moral law could only, be satisfied at such a price, I honestly 
confess that, little as I care for elaborate enjoyments, I should still occupy a 
very low position in the scale of righteousness." And again: — **The 
eagerness with which, immediately after my journey to Athos, I devoured 
the political contents of the Augsburg, Paris, Malta, and Smyrna news- 
papers, perused the scientific reviews, and foraged in the select library of our 
hospitable consul, clearly showed how empty and unenjoyable life would be 
without the range of European ideas." — pp. 147- 15a 

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Chap. IV. Mysticism. 91 

the name of Hesychasts {fi(nrxa^ovT&;) or Quietists. Of 
these persons, and their dogma concerning the light of 
Tabor, we shall have to speak further on. Whether 
religious contemplation forms any part of the life of the 
monks of the present day, it is very difficult to discover. 
Amongst those of the lower grades, of course, we should 
not expect to find it ; the sum- of their religious views is 
that heaven is to be won by mortification of the flesh 
and constant attendance on the Church services. But in 
the ranks of the more educated monks there is reason to 
believe that some devote themselves to it, and it is 
affirmed that the images which fill their minds are 
mainly drawn from the book of Revelation, and that in 
some circles traces of the spirit of mediaeval mysticism 
may still be discovered.^® . ^^ 

Continuing our journey from Iveron the next day, we 
rode for some distance along the coast, and then struck 
up the side of the mountain, through groves of ilex, 
arbutus, and catalpa, to Philotheu, which lies in a retired 
but pretty situation, rather more than a mile from the 
sea. It is the smallest monastery, containing only twenty- 
five monks, and very simple-minded they seemed. They 
spoke with pleasure of the smallness of their society, as a 
source of quiet, but in winter, they said, the cold was very 
great, owing to their elevated position, the snow often 
lying on th^ ground for several days together. When I 
asked whether they did not in consequence feel the severe 
fasting very much, they replied that this was the case, so 
that it even injured their health ; in some ancient histories 
{^dXeuk ovyypdfjLfiaTa) they had read that the Egyptian 
monks used sometimes to eat hardly anything for weeks 
together, and they wished they could imitate them ; but 

'• See Gass's * Commentatio Historica,' p. 53. 

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92 Mount Athos. Chap. IV, 

there the climate was warm, and on Athos it was impos- 
sible to do so. They referred with some bitterness to 
the comparatively easy lives led by the monks in the 
larger convents. The church here has the unusual feature 
of a tower with a sloping roof, rising from the middle of 
the proaulion. They possess a curious cross, ornamented 
with ancient pearls, diamonds and emeralds. 

From this place we descended to the path we had left, 
and after proceeding some way further along the lower 
slopes, once more climbed the mountain side to Cara- 
calla, which occupies one of the finest positions on Athos, 
at the head of a gorge, with cultivated land, vineyards, 
and hazel groves about it, a wide expanse of sea below, 
and banks of woodland above, over which the great peak 
was visible. This place was the scene of Mr. Curzon's 
amusing story of the Abbot and the nuts, and we were 
forcibly reminded of it, for it was the nutting season, and 
all hands were busily engaged in gathering and storing 
them ; the floor of one passage, which led to the guest 
chamber, was covered with them several inches deep." 
The hegumen, however, on this occasion was an agree- 
able and sensible man, and talked more refined Greek 
than most of the monks ; he had been a monk at Jeru- 
salem, and had resided on Athos ten years. At dinner 
we were presented with the round Eucharistic cakes {irpoa- 
<f>opd) which are used in the Greek Church, stamped in 
the centre with the words "Jesus Christ conquers" (Irjaov^ 
XpcoTo^ vLKq). When the monk who waited on us saw 
that we hesitated to eat them, not knowing whether they 

** In default of a better explanation of the strange name of this monas- 
tery I would suggest that, like Caryes, it is derived from these nuts. 
Kipvai KoXai (the 'fine hazels') might, without much difficulty, be cor- 
rupted into Caracalla. The received story is that the convent was founded 
by one Antonius, the son of a Roman prince named Caracalla. 

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Chap. IV. Caracalla, 93 

were intended for a common meal, he said, "Don't be 
afraid, — it's not sinfuL" We found that they are set before 
strangers because they are made of finer flour than what 
is commonly used in the monasteries. Our saltcellar and 
tumblers were curious specimens of old glass, and my 
tumbler in particular was engraved with most unmonastic 
Cupids. They may not improbably have come from 

The road from Caracalla to the Lavra lies through the / 
scenery which I have already described as the mostNx 
beautiful in the peninsula. Its bowery glades were all 
the more delightful after the intense heat of the midday 
sun, which caused us to linger at the former monastery. 
As we also stopped to bathe about sunset, on a beach 
composed of pebbles of white marble, it was moonlight 
when we reached our destination, and the gates were 
closed ; after knocking for a long time, and answering 
numerous questions which were put to us from within, to 
guard against the intrusion of objectionable visitors, we 
were at length admitted. The name Lavra, or Laura, 
signifies a street of cells, the early form of a monastery, 
and was given to this place as being the monastery par 
excellence^ for it was once the largest on Athos, though it 
has somewhat declined of late years. It is situated at 
the south-east angle of the peninsula, and overlooks the 
sea at a height of some hundred feet, having a port 
below, guarded by a small fortress. It is the nearest 
point to the Island of Lemnos, which forms a conspicuous 
object, though at supper-time we discovered that the 
distance must be considerable, for the eggs of the monas- 
tery are brought from farms which they possess there 
(hens, as I have said, not being allowed on the Holy 
Mountain), and those which were set before us had taken 
so long on the passage that we were obliged to dismiss 

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94 Mount Atltos. Chap. IV. 

them through the window, as soon as the monk who 
waited on us had left the room. During the night 
the neighbouring hill-sides frequently resounded with 
loud shouts and discharges of fire-arms, intended to 
drive away the numerous jackals i^i^aKoKui) which prey 
upon the vineyards. 

We received great attention and kindness from the 
superiors of this society, but they seemed to care less 
about improvements or the introduction of learning than 
most that we had seen. One of them, called Melchize- 
deck, a man of vast proportions, and overflowing with 
fun and humour, was a well-known character on the Holy 
Mountain. " Have you seen that great, stout man, Mel- 
chizedeck of the Lavra V was a question more than once 
put to us in other monasteries. The stories that were 
abroad in Salonica relative to some extremely rough- 
handed proceedings of his, certainly did not go to show 
that he was possessed of either a meek or a spiritual 
temperament, but whether or no the contrast which his 
burly frame and worldly ways presented to the ordinary 
monastic type had made an impression on his brethren, 
he certainly assumed something of the aspect of a hero 
in their eyes. The date of the foundation of the Lavra 
goes back to about the year 963, when a man of noble 
birth in Trebizond, who had been educated at Constan- 
tinople, and had subsequently devoted himself with great 
zeal to the monastic life, came to Athos, and set to work 
to establish it. He took the name of Athanasius, and 
though there is evidence of another regular monastery 
having existed on the Holy Mountain before this time, 
he found the monks and ascetics so scattered about 
throughout the peninsula, and in such a state of poverty, 
that he may virtually be regarded as the originator of 
the present conventual system. His great supporter in 

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Chap. IV. The Lavra. 95 

this work was the Emperor Nicephorus Phocas, to whom 
he had made a prediction that he would repulse the 
Saracens ; and when that came to pass, the grateful com- 
mander (it was before he came to the throne) sent a 
larg^ sum of money from the spoils of his victory towards 
the erection of the new monastery. The principal church 
is probably coeval with its foundation, for it shows sig^s 
of great antiquity. The cupola, which is unusually large, 
is decorated at the top with a figure of Christ in mosaic ; 
and in the eastern apse, behind the altar, is the bishop's 
seat in stone, flanked with stone benches for the pres- 
byters, according to the arrangement which is found in a 
few very early churches in the west, such as San Cle- 
mente at Rome, and Torcello at Venice. We were also 
shown a very old mosaic, finely executed, representing 
St. John the Evangelist, contained in a frame of delicate 
filigree work in gold or silver gilt, in which are set mi- 
niatures of the founder of the monastery. 

Some of the relics preserved in this monastery are 
magnificent works of art, and were it not for fear of 
wearying the reader I would willingly describe both these 
and many others which are found elsewhere. As it is, I 
shall mention only a few of them here and there, referring 
those who are interested in the subject to Mr. Curzon's 
book for more detailed information. But as an account 
of the mountain would be incomplete without some> 
general remarks on this point, I will here add a few words 
about them. They are mainly composed of heads, limbs, 
and bones of saints, partially cased in silver, and pieces 
of the true cross, which are frequently surrounded by 
filigree and flower work in metal, of great antiquity and 
the most exquisite workmanship. The caskets in which 
these are kept are often superb specimens of the gold- 
smith's art, and ornamented with diamonds, extremely 

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96 Mount Athos, Chap. IV. 

rare from their antiquity, and pearls, rubies, and emeralds, 
of immense size, and for the most part uncut As works 
of art, however, they are not appreciated by the monks, 
who value the relics themselves, and not their decora- 
tions. They are always kept behind the Iconostase, near 
the Holy Table, and are brought out and arranged on a 
kind of desk when they are to be shown to pilgrims and 
visitors. It was curious to observe the various degrees of 
respect with which they were treated in different monas- 
teries. Generally the candles were lighted in their 
honour, and the priest who handled them put on his 
stole (iircrpaxn^^^v) ] but in some places the caloyers 
treated them with the utmost veneration, keeping silence 
in their presence, and kissing them fervently ; in others 
they treated the exhibition more as a matter of course, 
and here and there they knew very little about them. 
Actual carelessness or irreverence we never saw; the 
nearest approach to it was on the present occasion, at 
the Lavra, when Melchizedech, as we were looking at 
them, observed aside to our dragoman, "When I am 
dead, and they preserve my relics, it will cost the 
monastery ^precious lot to case my head with silver ! " 

Early the next morning we sallied forth to visit a 
Retreat {icddv(r[id), which lies on the hill-side a few hun- 
dred yards above the monastery. The life in these 
Retreats, and in the sketes, which are composed of asso- 
ciations of them, differs from that in the convents, in 
respect of the amount of manual labour which is per- 
formed in the former. In these reside most of the arti- 
sans, by whom the shops at Caryes, and through them the 
monasteries, are provided with clothing and other neces- 
sary articles. In consequence of their laborious occupa- 
tions, their inmates are considered to live a very severe life, 
and I was certainly far more favourably impressed with 

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Chap. IV. Retreat of " Tlie Forerunner^ 97 

these societies than with the convents. The one towards 
which our steps were now directed is dedicated to " The 
Forerunner " (6 ar^m^ irpoSpofjuos:), as St. John the Baptist 
is called. The building itself has nothing to distinguish 
it from an ordinary cottage, except that in one part the 
apse and dome of a small chapel peep out ; on different 
sides of it rise superb cypresses, while the sloping hill- 
side below is covered with well-tended vineyards, which 
are cultivated by the monks themselves, and afford a 
proof of their careful husbandry. It was tenanted by 
four monks, one of whom was a priest, in consequence of 
which they were able to have all the services in their own 
chapel. Where this is not the case, the lay monks per- 
form the ordinary services for themselves, and go for the 
Eucharistic service to some neighbouring monastery. 
They shewed us their cells, which were clean and well 
kept, and the workshop, where they make stockings and 
monks' caps, by which they get their livelihood. Very 
simple, gentle men they were, and appeared perfectly 
contented. They were surprised, but much pleased by 
our visit, and pressed us to partake of the same kind of 
refreshments as were brought to us on our arrival at a 
convent, but which we had not expected here. They 
were especially proud of their /i^At water, the spring at 
the back of the retreat having been given to their prede- 
cessors by St. Athanasius, the founder of the Lavra. 
One old caloyer had come from " the city," i e., Constan- 
tinople,^* at fifteen years of age, and had remained fifty 

*• The constant use of the term ^ x6\is for Constantinople throughout 
the iEgean, just as, in England, London is called "town," confirms the 
derivation of Stamboul from tls r^y x6\iy. There is, however, something 
to be said for the derivation from Constantinopolis, the first syllable having 
been lost (as in Salonica, from Thessalonica), and the rest compressed, as 
is constantly the case with names of places. Stantinopol would easily pass 
into SiaynbouL 


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98 Mount Athos. Chap. IV. 

years on Athos, without once leaving it They had a 
balcony, commanding a bird's-eye view of the monastery, 
together with its little harbour and tower below, and the 
wide blue sea beyond, with the islands of Lemnos, Imbros, 
and Samothrace. The monks delight in their views, 
though they rarely speak of them, and never criticise 
them : a fact which is worthy of the consideration of 
those who think that the ancient Greeks had no appre- 
ciation of natural scenery, because it is so little noticed 
m their writings. There was something very primitive 
and very prepossessing in the life of these men. If any 
one would see how near a resemblance to the life of 
the fourth century may be found in the nineteenth, I 
would ask him to compare this slight sketch with the 
elaborate and beautiful description of the Laura of Scetis, 
in Upper Egypt, in the first chaptef of Mr. Kingsley's 

Returning to the monastery, I stopped at a kiosk, or 
summer-house, outside the gateway, to talk to two monks 
and a secular, whom I found seated there. After the 
usual questions about the health of the Queen, the con- 
versation turned on the Suez canal, which was in every- 
body's mouth at that time. Lord Palmerston's unreason- 
able opposition to this scheme appeared for the moment 
to have seriously damaged the prestige of England in 
the East, for the idea was just one of those which capti- 
vate the Oriental imagination, and it seemed an act of 
selfishness on the part of England to obstruct it Con- 
sequently M. de Lesseps was everywhere a hero. This 
subject naturally led to the canal of Xerxes, of the his-* 
tory of which the secular was aware. He had also re- 
marked, what I myself observed on a former occasion, — 
though, as far as I know, it has not been noticed in any 
book of travels, — that a similar, though narrower and 

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Chap. IV. A Conversation on Canals, 99 

shallower, dike has been cut through the Isthmus of Pal- 
lene, the westernmost of the three peninsulas of Chalci- 
dice. It runs across from sea to sea, and is now filled 
with sand, and two dry lagoons have been formed at its 
western end ; on account of its narrowness, it never could 
have been passable except for boats and small vessels. 
Its length is about half a mile, and it was probably the 
work of the Venetians at the time when they occupied 
Salonica, as a wall of Venetian construction runs along 
the slopes on the southern side of it, near the site of the 
ancient Cassandra or Potidaea. 

One principal object which we had in view in visiting 
Athos at this time was to be present at the festival of the 
Transfiguration, which is celebrated on the summit of 
the peak, on the 6th of August (old style). Any monk 
from any of the monasteries is welcome to attend it, 
though it is quite a voluntary matter ; and we found that 
they regarded the mountain expedition not by any means 
as a member of the Alpine Club would have regarded it, 
but in the light of a pilgrimage. We had arranged our 
plans so as to arrive at the Lavra, which is the nearest 
monastery, two days bfefore : the monks, however, we 
found, had already started to make their preparations. 
Accordingly, on the afternoon of the day after our arrival, 
that is, on the eve of the festival, we rode along the paths 
which skirt the sea-face of the great peak at some height 
above the sea, until we reached the Retreat of St. Deme- 
trius, one of the few buildings which stand at the southern 
end of the peninsula, where the ground descends with 
great steepness to the sea. It contained 12 monks, en- 
gaged in different occupations, but working for a common 
stock. Going into one of the rooms, I found a painter 
sitting by a window, which opened out on a lovely gorge 
running down to the sea, and engaged in painting on a 

H 2 

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lOO Mount Athos, Chap. IV. 

thick block of wood a picture in exactly the same style 
as those from which the early Italian artists copied. He 
was a small, emaciated, delicate-looking man, with a pen- 
sive countenance, and quite realised my idea of a me- 
diaeval artist He wore the Great Habit (/Lteya <r;^/Lta), a 
kind of breastplate or stomacher of a woollen material,, 
worked with a cross and other devices, which is the sign 
of the highest grade of monastic austerity. I afterwards 
discovered that he was a free Greek from Vostitza, on the 
Corinthian Gulf. He was so intent on his work that at 
first he hardly noticed me ; and I watched him for some 
time, as he worked on without a copy, and yet too 
rapidly and mechanically to allow me to suppose that he 
was painting from imagination. However, when I asked 
him some questions, and he saw that I was interested in 
his art, he put down his brush, and showed me the secret 
of his inspiration — the * Guide to Painting' of Dionysius of 
Agrapha, which has been translated into French by M. 
Didron, under the title of ' Manuel d'Iconographie Chre- 
tienne,' from a MS. which he obtained from Athos. This 
remarkable book, compiled at an unknown, but very 
early period, by a man who professed himself a diligent 
student of the works of Panselenus, contains the expla- 
nation of the singular uniformity of design in the paint- 
ings, both ancient and modern, of the Greek Church, as 
it is composed of rules, very often of a minute descrip- 
tion, for the treatment of all kinds of sacred subjects, 
specifying the position and attitudes of the figures, the 
expression of the faces, and the backgrounds and accom- 
paniments. The art of painting has existed uninter- 
ruptedly on Athos, and it has possessed, and still pos- 
sesses, so many artists, that we may say with M. Didron, 
"c'est v^ritablement I'ltalie de I'^glise orientale." Sir 
Thomas Wyse tells us, in his ' Excursion in the Pelopon- 

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Chap. IV. A Sporting Monk, ' \6i 

nese/ ^ that he found one of the churches in Laconia, at 
the time of his visit, being decorated by a painter from 
the Holy Mountain. 

Having left our baggage-mule at the retreat, we 
ascended from thence through forests of beech and fir, by 
an extremely steep mule-track, commanding views of 
indescribable beauty, until about sunset we arrived at a 
Chapel of the Virgin, situated in the midst of grassy 
sloi>es on a rocky projection of the mountain, just where 
the trees begin to cease. From this point the two other 
peninsulas, which form the trident of Chalcidice, were 
visible, and to the south the line of small islands which 
run off from the north of Euboea : far below us a steamer 
was making its way like a fly on the water. A few 
monks were here, preparing, in an immense stewpan, the 
viands for the next day, — a suspicious-looking mess of fish 
and vegetables, of which they gave us a dish for supper. 
After this repast we commenced the ascent on foot, ac- 
companied by two monks, one of whom was a sportsman 
and carried his gun, a curious contrast to his monastic 
dress, and talked with evident satisfaction of the price 
which wild boars fetched, when killed and exported. 
Before long the other monk and our dragoman fell into 
the rear ; but our sporting friend was in training, and we 
soon found ourselves rapidly mounting by a rough zig- 
zag path, and scaling the white marble summits, which 
looked almost like snow-peaks in the light of the bril- 
liant moon. After about an hour of this work, when we 
had almost reached the top, we sat down to wait for our 
companions, to listen to the tinkling bells of the mules in 
the distance, and to watch the moonbeams streaming on 
the water thousands of feet below us. Our sportsman 
whiled away the time by relating to us some of the 
" Vol i. p. %z. 

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•••.♦• • 
I • • %• • • • 
• • • • •• 

• ••-•."•-• 

162 Mount Athos, Chap. IV.. 

legends of the mountain ; how, before the birth of Christ, 
a heathen image had existed on the summit ;'* and how St. 
Athanasius, the founder of the Lavra, had destroyed it ; 
and how, when he was building his monastery, the Devil, 
according to that legend so common throughout Chris- 
tendom, had thrown down the stones by night which he 
had put together by day. As a great mountain has the 
power of attracting legends, let me add a few of those 
which at different times have gathered round this peak. 
Listen to Sir John Maundeville's account in the fourteenth 
century. "And there is another Hille, that is clept 
AthoSy that is so highe, that the Schadewe of hym 
rechethe to Lampne^* (Lemnos), that is an He; and it 
is 76 Myle betwene. And aboven at the cop of the 
Hille, is the Eir so cleer, that Men may fynde no Wynd 
there. And therefore may no Best lyve there ; and so 
is the Eyr drye. And Men szy^ in theise Contrees that 
Philosophres som tyme wenten upon theise Hilles, and 
helden to here Nose a Spounge moysted with Watre, for 
to have Eyr; for the Eyr above was so drye. And 
aboven, in the Dust and in the Powder of tho Hilles, the! 
wroot Lettres and Figures with hire Fingres : and at the 
zeres ende thei comen azen, and founden the same 
Lettres and Figures, the whiche thei hadde writen the 
zeer before, withouten ony defaute. And therfore it 
semethe wel, that theise Hilles passen the Clowdes and 
joynen to the pure Eyr." ^^ Another tradition is said to 
have related that it was on this mountain that Satan 
placed our Lord at the Temptation ; and here, in 1821, 
just before the Greek Revolution, a cross of light was 

** There seems to have been an altar to Zeus here, as on many "high, 
places" in Greece. See 'Pomp. Mela.*, ii. 2.' 

** The story dates from classical times. See Pliny, iv. 12. 
•* Maundeville's 'Travels,* p. 20. 

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Chap. IV. Ascent of the Peak. 103 

seen by the monks, with the words " in this conquer." " 
At present, however, there is no trace remaining of these 

The summit of the mountain rises to so sharp a point, 
that it only just leaves room for a small chapel, dedi- 
cated to the Transfiguration, on the north side of which 
the crags descend in tremendous precipices, while to the 
south is a narrow platform of rock, a few feet wide, from 
which again the cliffs fall rapidly away. As we ap- 
proached from the east, we first heard the sound of 
chanting from within the chapel, and when we came 
round to the platform in front, a scene appeared which 
I shall never forget. Distinctly seen in the moonlight 
were the weird, ghostly figures of the monks, closely 
wrapped in their gowns, with long dark beards and 
unshorn locks, some sitting close to the window of the 
little chapel, where service was going on, some lying 
about in groups, like the figures of the three Apostles in 
Raphael's picture of the Transfiguration ; and on going 
about to different points we could see them lying relieved 
against the white rocks, or dimly seen in the dark 
shadows, — themselves "a shadowy band." There were 
about sixty of them, besides a number of Russian 
pilgrims. We were not less an object of wonder to them 
than they were to us ; they even forgot the usual saluta- 
tions. " Where do you come from ? " (aTTo ttoO eltrBi) was 
all that they could say. We told them we were English- 
men, and that we came from the Lavra; on learning 
which they brought us to the wood fire they had lighted, 
and made some coffee for us. In connection with the 
fire, the classical reader will remember that this peak was 
one of the stations of the fire-beacons, which carried Aga- 

*7 Sir G. F. Bowen's 'Mount Athos, Thessaly, and Albania,' p. 52. 

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I04 Mount Athos. Chap. IV. 

memnon's telegram to Clytemnestra. At intervals, as 
we sat there, the priest came out, arrayed in gorgeous 
vestments, and swung the incense about us ; until at last, 
as the vigil service lasted the whole night, I betook 
myself to a small cornice in the rock, where I slept, 
wrapt in my plaid, for a couple of hours ; after which 
I lay awake, gazing up into the bright heaven, and 
feeling the strange sensation of being elevated on such a 
rocky pinnacle, with nothing but sea and sky around. 
One could almost realise the feelings of Simeon Stylites. 

At dawn the service ceased, and the monks kissed one 
another, and were sprinkled with holy water. When the 
sun rose, the shadow of the peak was projected over sea 
and land to the west in a distinctly marked pyramid ; 
but daylight added little to the view, as the greater part 
of the peninsulas of Athos and Sithonia had been visible 
during the night, and the distance was hazy. Eight of 
the monasteries, however, could be distinguished, and 
the expanse of sea was an extraordinary sight. On a 
clear day both Ida and Olympus may be seen. Half an 
hour after sunrise the Eucharistic service — the Liturgy, 
as it is called — commenced ; and at its conclusion a 
bunch of grapes was brought in and blessed, this being 
the first day on which they are allowed to be eaten. 
They then descended the mountain by the zigzag path 
in companies, singing psalms ; and after breakfasting on 
the grass by the chapel of the Virgin, we dispersed 
to our several destinations. 

There is an interest attaching to this festival, indepen- 
dent of its strangeness, from its carrying us back to a 
theological discussion of the 14th century, which was the 
neplus ultra of controversial folly. In the only passage 
in Gibbon's history in which the monks of Athos are 

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.Chap. IV. Festival of the Transfiguration. 105 

mentioned,^* the historian points one of his bitterest 
sneers by a reference to the dispute as to the divine 
light of Mount Tabor, which was the doctrine of the 
Hesychasts, who maintained that after long abstinence 
and contemplation they could see in the middle of their 
belly, which was the seat of the soul, the light which 
appeared to the disciples at the transfiguration of Christ, 
and that this light was part of the essence of God him- 
self, and therefore immortal and eternal. This view, 
which Gibbon describes as the product of an empty 
stomach and an empty brain,' was combated by a Cala- 
brian monk called Barlaam, and thereupon a fierce dis- 
cussion arose, which ended in the discomfiture and 
condemnation of the sceptic, and the establishment of 
the doctrine of the uncreated light of Tabor. I en- 
deavoured to discover if any traces of this controversy 
were still remaining, but I could find none. No monk 
now expected to see this light in ecstatic moments ; the 
name of Barlaam was almost unknown, and the contro- 
versy forgotten : and though they still maintained that 
the light of the Transfiguration was an uncreated light, 
they did not anathematize those who held the contrary. 
Indeed, not only on this, but on most points connected 
with religion, I was forcibly struck by their breadth of 
view, which made itself seen in the midst of much forma- ^ 

lism and superstition, and by their tolerance of others' 
opinions, and charitable feelings towards other Christian 

Owing to the exposed position and southern aspect of 
this peak, the flowers were almost all past at this season 

" Smith's 'Gibbon,' vii. 404. Compare Mosheim, ii. 660. 
" On this, as a characteristic of Eastern Christendom, see Stanley's 
* Eastern Church,' p. 57. 

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io6 Mount Athos. Chap. IV* 

of the year, notwithstanding its great elevation. At the 
time of my former visit, however, which happened early 
in June, 1853, 1 found a considerable number, and it may 
be worth while to mention some of those which occur in 
the upper parts. Above the region of trees were Viola 
tricolor y Saxifraga mediae Saxifraga aizoon^ Vesicaria 
utriculata; and in 186 1 I found Saxifraga porophylla and 
Centaurea aurea. Within the region of trees were first 
Asphodelus luteus and Epipactis grandiflora\ and some- 
what lower down Melittis^ melissophyllufn^ Epipactis rubra^ 
and Atropa belladonna. 

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( 107 ) 


MOUNT ATHOS {continued). 

Descent to the Skete of St. Anne— St. Paul's— A Monastic meal — St. 
Dionysins — St Gregory's — Simopetra — Russians and Greeks — 
Xeropotamu — Ancient diamonds — Xenophu — Docheiareiu — A Hennit 
— Constamonitu — Monastic group — Zograpbu — Chilandari — The 
Monks' views of other Churches. 

We now descended on the side of the mountain opposite 
to the Lavra, and entered on the first of a succession of 
dreadful roads, which run along the precipices of the 
south-west part of the peninsula, the like of which I have 
never seen in any country. These are sometimes cut or 
worn in the rocks, which overlook the sea at a height 
of several hundred feet ; and sometimes, as in this first 
part of the descent, are formed of a series of steps, to 
which the sagacious mules of the mountain are ac- 
customed, but which would be almost impassable to any 
other beasts of burden. These pathways are said to 
have been made by a former bishop, who resided on 
Athos, and is looked back to as a great benefactor ; they 
are of the same kind as those commonly found in the 
mountainous parts of Turkey, the stone steps being 
intended to support the ground, and prevent the soil 
from falling away; indeed, in the winter, when the 
torrents come down from the heights, if it were not for 
these, the means of communication would be entirely 
destroyed; but in summer, from the hardness of the 
limestone of which they are composed, they become as 
slippery as glass, and greatly increase the difficulty of 

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io8 Mount Athos. Chap. V. 

travelling. At the bottom of the first long descent, 
following a narrow cornice in the rock, we reached the 
skete of St Anne, which stands in a most precipitous 
position, and still at a great elevation above the sea; 
near its site is said to have been the place called 
Nymphaeum in classical times ; and if Virgil's description 
of such a spot — 

"In front, retiring from the wave,"I 
Opes on the view a rock-hung cave, 
A home that nymphs might call their own, 
Fresh springs, and seats of living stone" — 

may guide us in our search for it, it would seem to corre- 
spond very charmingly. The dwellings of the monks 
are grouped round a central church, and niched pic- 
turesquely in the terraced cliffs. Amongst its 120 
members it numbers many of the best artificers on Athos, 
including painters, calligraphers (who, however, are 
merely copiers of liturgies and other manuscripts), and 
singers (-^aXTflw), who go about to different monasteries 
for the great festivals. But the particular branch of the 
fine arts, of which this is the principal home, and for 
which the monks of Athos have been celebrated from 
time immemorial, is wood carving. This is employed 
both for the decoration of the churches, and for the 
manufacture of crosses and other mementos, which are 
bought by pilgrims, and are frequently of extreme 
delicacy and almost Chinese minuteness. A colony of 
carvers has existed at this skete for many centuries. 
They are mentioned by Archbishop Georgirenes in the 
17th century, and had probably been there long before 
his time. The most famous, however, of all the artificers 
of the present day is a monk of the neighbouring 

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Chap. V. Monastery of St Paul 109 

monastery of St. Paul, called Cosmas, who, when we saw 
him, was engaged on a very large and elaborate piece of 
work, which he was intending to send to the Great Exhi- 
bition of 1862. 

We reached St PauFs early in the afternoon. It 
stands on one side of a wide and deep gully, which runs 
down to the sea from the base of the great peak, and is 
inhabited mainly by Greeks from the Ionian islands 
(eTTTai^o-tot), who consequently at that time were British 
subjects. They entertained us in first-rate style, and 
two fowls (cocks, of course), which were reserved for 
distinguished visitors, were slaughtered in our honour ; 
but we could not avoid the uncomfortable feeling that 
we were treated rather as the patrons of "rayahs ;" and 
it seemed to be an object with them to get us to say a 
word for them to the Consul at Salonica about a farm on 
the peninsula of Sithonia, concerning which they had a 
dispute with the monastery of St. Dionysius. Litigation 
is now, as it always has been, the bane of these societies. 
Another point in their life, which I may notice here, is 
the wonderfully intimate knowledge the monks have of 
what is going on in other monasteries. They seem to 
visit one another very little, though, when they do so, 
they are received in a very friendly and fraternal manner ; 
but, notwithstanding this, if any hegumen left his 
monastery, or any other trivial occurrence happened in 
any other society, they appeared at once to get wind of 
it. There must be a vast amount of gossip on Athos. 

As this was a festival day we had an opportunity of 
being present at a monastic meal. There is generally a 
little difficulty in persuading the monks to admit you to 
their public meals, as they consider it a greater honour 
that you should be entertained alone, or with some of the 

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1 10 Mount A thos. Chap. V. 

dignitaries, and thus they are able to set before you some- 
what better fare than is allowed at the common table. On 
this occasion we asked permission, as a special favour, and 
no objection was made. When dinner was ready, one of 
the superiors, in the absence of the hegumen, came to 
escort us to the refectory, — a room having the propor- 
tions of a college hall, but with a flat roof, and entered 
by a doorway in the middle of one side, opposite to 
which there runs off" a semicircular alcove. Two rows of 
pillars run down the hall, thus dividing it into a nave 
and aisles : the nave was left open, while the aisles were 
occupied by oblong tables, placed across between the 
wall and the pillars, each accommodating eight persons. 
At the upper end of the nave was the high table, a 
semicircular marble slab, at which we were seated with 
three of the principal monks : the rest of the dark-robed 
company sat at the other tables, and at the bottom of 
the hall were some Russian pilgrims, who had come for 
the festival. Besides a piece of bread and a tankard of 
light red wine, two small dishes of fish and a pear were 
set before each of us. During dinner one of the monks 
read a homily on the Transfiguration from a lectern 
placed near our table : there was a pulpit attached to the 
wall near the centre of the building, intended for this 
purpose, but it did not seem to be used Talking, of 
course, was interdicted. At the conclusion of the meal 
the reader prostrated himself before the Superior, and 
received from him a piece of bread, in token that he was 
allowed to have his dinner : after this all rose, and turned 
to the East, while the Superior said grace, and then we 
filed out of the hall. As we passed through the door- 
way, the two cooks and the reader prostrated themselves 
on the steps, and remained in that position until all the 

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Chap. V. A Monastic Meal III 

brethren had gone by, to signify that they asked pardon 
for any shortcomings in the entertainment 

The saint from whom this monastery takes its name is 
not the Apostle of the Gentiles, but a monk who was its 
founder in the fourteenth century. Among the relics is 
kept an iron cross, which he used to wear suspended from 
his neck. There is also a large silver cross, set with 
jewels, which I have not seen mentioned elsewhere; it 
stands about 3 feet high, and has exquisite miniature 
pictures in enamel inlaid in it, the heads of the saints 
being encircled with tiny pearls. It is a superb work of 
art, and is said by the monks to have been the gift of the 
Emperor Constantine Romanus, though what emperor 
they meant I cannot tell. The principal church is of 
recent erection, and differs from the usual type in having 
no wall of separation between the body of the church and 
the narthex. The division is made by a curtain instead, 
the effect of which is not very good ; the use of it, how- 
ever, is ancient, for similar ones are represented in the 
mosaics of S. Apollinare di dentro at Ravenna. Another 
consequence of this arrangement is that other pillars are 
introduced besides the four that support the central 
cupola. This assimilates the building more to the western 
type, but it greatly destroys the unity and proportion, in 
which the impressiveness of a Byzantine interior consists. 

The precipices which intervene between this monastery 
and that of St Dionysius are so tremendous, and the 
paths so bad, that the monks do not like their mules to 
go that way. Accordingly we were provided with a boat 
and two naval caloyers {yaxmKoi tcdXlrfepoi), who rowed 
us round, and landed us under the latter convent, which 
stands on a steep rock that projects over the sea from 
the mountain-side. Owing to its position, it is much 

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11^ Mount A tJios. Chap. V. 

confined for room, and only contains sixty monks, though 
it holds a high rank among the other convents. The 
buildings, though closely packed together, are among the 
handsomest on Athos, especially the church, the refec- 
tory, and a^ corridor with pillars in front of that struc- 
ture, all of which are covered with frescoes and gilding. 
A young monk, who had been a pupil of an older 
member of the same society, was restoring some of these 
paintings. The illuminated MSS. also, and the relics 
which are kept in the church, are singularly fine. The 
casket in which one of these, the arm of St. Nephon, is 
kept, is one of the most curious remains of ancient art. 
It is thus very accurately described by Mr. Curzon : — 
" This shrine was the gift of Neagulus, Waywode or Hos- 
podar of Wallachia. It is about 2 feet long and 2 feet 
high, and is in the shape of a Byzantine church ; the 
material is silver gilt, but the admirable and singular 
style of the workmanship gives it a value far surpassing 
its intrinsic worth. The roof is covered with five domes 
of gold ; on each side it has sixteen recesses, in which 
are portraits of the saints in niello, and at each end there 
are eight others. All the windows are enriched in open- 
work tracery, of a strange sort of Gothic pattern, unlike 
anything in Europe. It is altogether a wonderful and 
precious monument of ancient art, the production of an 
almost unknown country, rich, quaint, and original in its 
design and execution, and is indeed one of the most 
curious objects on Mount Athos.' " Several other works 
of art, which Mr. Curzon describes, are now no longer 
shown, and some of them the monks refuse to acknow- 
ledge that they possess, saying that they have been car- 
ried off by the Turks, or making some other excuse : but 

' 'Monasteries of the Levant,' p. 382. 

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Chap. V. St Dionysius\ 113 

on both occasions that I have visited this convent I have 
found its inmates singularly suspicious, and unwilling to 
show their treasures. The library, in which the MSS. are 
kept, is over the church porch : while we were there I 
had a long conversation on theological subjects with the 
librarian, who was the best-informed person we had met 
with on Athos, while other pale fathers sat round, stern 
and grim, looking like the impersonifications of contro- 
versial theology. We talked of the light of Tabor, the 
differences of the Greek and Anglican churches, and 
many other points ; and I found him quite up to the 
subjects under discussion, and quick in his way of putting 
his arguments. Amongst other things, he asked why our 
priests shaved, not suspecting how soon the Anglican 
clergy might be converted to the practice of tl;e Ortho- 
dox. This, however, he allowed to be an unimportant 
point, though such has not always been the case, as is 
shown by the remark of Sir John Maundeville : — " Also 
thei saye that wee synne dedly in schavynge our 

Returning to our boat, we coasted along to St. Gre- 
gory's, a monastery of 100 monks, mostly from free Greece, 
-which lies under the rocks close to the sea. It is the 
poorest of all, and as it has been rebuilt within the last 
hundred years there is nothing to see. So, after a long 
talk with the hegumen, an earnest and intelligent man, 
■who had been a merchant in his early life, and afterwards 
was a monk at St. Paul's, we re-embarked and rowed in 
the direction of Simopetra, or the rock of Simon, the 
anchorite, the most remarkable in its situation of all 
the monasteries, which is conspicuous from a long dis- 
tance off on this side of the mountain. We landed at a 

• Maundeville's 'Travels,' p. 24. 

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114 Mount Athos, Chap. V. 

tiny port, provided with a pier and landing-place, above 
which the monastery towers, perched on a rock, at a 
height of 800 feet. Shortly after our arrival a monk 
appeared, and finding that we wanted our saddle-bags- 
carried up, took out a large speaking-trumpet and 
shouted through it to the monastery in Greek, "two 
mules" (Svo fivkapLo). He was answered from above, 
and not long after, as we sauntered up the zigzag path, 
we met the animals on their way down. Just below the 
monastery the ground is carefully made into terraces, 
where vegetables are grown, while vines and gourds trail 
over the high supporting walls. From these rises the 
perpendicular rock on which the building stands, isolated 
on all sides from the surrounding ground, except at the 
back, where it is joined to the cliffs by an aqueduct with 
two rows of arches. The upper part of its high walls is 
lined with wooden balconies and corridors, which are 
supported on projecting brackets, and rise, tier above 
tier, to the roof, with the most picturesque irr^ularity. 
Inside, the buildings are most curiously packed away. 
In the lower part are the storehouses, between the side 
walls and the upper part of the rock which crops out in 
the interior court ; the court itself is so narrow that the 
whole building has been roofed over, the light penetrating 
by side windows and a variety of openings and crevices. 
In consequence of this the church is not isolated, as in 
most of the monasteries, but closely surrounded by the 
other buildings, and its walls are pierced with numerous 
windows for a Byzantine edifice, in order to admit more 
light into the interior. The view from it is magnificent^ 
comprising a wide expanse of sea, with the opposite 
coast of Sithonia, and towards the south the steep cliffs of 
the peninsula and the peak of Athos. It was a superb 
sight at nightfall to see the vaporous clouds gather like a 

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Chap. V. Simopetra. 115 

glory on the summit, and creep down or circulate round 
it, while the moon rose and poured her golden light over 
the whole scene. 

Amongst the inmates of this convent there was an old 
Russian monk, who was evidently the butt of the others. 
Poor old fellow ! five-and-twenty years he had been in 
the monastery, and yet he could hardly speak a word of 
Greek. "Two, three words I know," he said; "wine, 
bread — no more." His principal companion was a clever 
tom-cat, which he had trained to turn most wonderful 
somersaults, and which was brought out into the court of 
the monastery to perform before us. " Ah ! " exclaimed a 
sharp-witted young Zantiote, who was standing by, with 
a look of compassion, "the Russians are thick-skulled" (ot 
'V&a-a-oi ehac 'XpvhpoKkifxiKoi). Besides this Zantiote there 
was another very clever young monk — the same, whom 
I have mentioned as finding difficulties in Thucydides, 
who for inquisitiveness and thirst for knowledge was a 
thorough Greek, and a striking contrast to the Russian. 
He knew all about the Greek authors and their dialects, 
and his acquaintance with ancient Greek history was as 
minute as if he had just been preparing it for an examina- 
tion. Again, he was perfectly familiar with modern 
European geography, and understood the position of 
second-rate towns, such as Strasburg and Buda. He 
asked numerous questions about the " English Episcopal 
Protestant {Ztafutprupovfihrj) Church," and when he dis- 
covered my companion was in the militia he asked 
for information about the English army, the different 
branches of the service, the sub-divisions of the regi- 
ments, the officers, and a variety of other points. Seeing 
that he had an evident taste for secular subjects, I was 
curious to discover whether a grain of scepticism had 
entered his mind with regard to the system of beliefs by 

I 2 

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1 1 6 Mount A thos. Chap. V. 

which he was surrounded, and accordingly I put one or 
two leading questions to test this ; but nothing of the 
kind was traceable. He spoke of the miraculous legends 
with the same simple faith as the others, and on any 
point of doctrine referred at once to the Councils as 
being of unquestionable authority. 

The next morning a three hours' ride over the moun- 
tains, in the midst of scattered shrubs, with views of the 
sea far below, brought us to the monastery of Xero- 
potamu, or " The Torrent," which is so called from the 
ravine and river-bed which lies directly beneath it. The 
Superior, by whom we were entertained during the few 
hours we spent there, had been a grocer at Corfu, and 
though he talked of the delights of tranquillity, yet the 
fidgetty restlessness of his manner suggested the idea 
that he would have been much happier behind the 
counter. In his company we visited the church, which is 
truly magnificent, perhaps the finest on Athos, and con- 
tains two very remarkable relics. One of these is a frag- 
ment of the true cross, and consists of one long piece of 
dark wood, and two cross pieces, one above the other, 
the upper one, which is the shorter of the two, being 
intended for the superscription. Though not exactly a 
crucifix, it has a small figure of our Lord on the middle 
of it, in ivory or bone ; from the great abhorrence in which 
anything approaching an image is held in the Greek 
Church, even this would probably not have been spared, 
had it not been a jreputed present from the Empress 
Pulcheria. Near the foot is a representation in gold 
plate of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and under it, 
in ancient Greek characters, the inscription, Kovaravrlvov 
'Eiv(l)poavvrj^ /cal r&v re/cvcov; but what is most remark- 
able about it is the wonderful size of the uncut diamonds 
and emeralds with which it is set. This is, in all 

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Chap. V. A ncient Diamonds, 1 1 7 

probability, the same piece of the true cross which is 
mentioned in a golden bull of the Emperor Romanus 
Lecapenus (a.d. 924) as having been taken from the 
Queen's treasury, and presented by him to this monas- 
tery after his recovery from a severe illness, on which 
occasion it was conducted thither with great pomp and 
ceremonial.* The Euphrosyne mentioned in the inscrip- 
tion is probably the daughter of Constantine VI., who 
was married to the Emperor Michael the Stammerer 
(A.D. 820). In the monastery of Sphigmenu there is 
another cross, inferior in other resects, but not less 
valuable for its ancient diamonds, and the two together 
form a pair which it would be difficult to match else- 
where. It has lately been pointed out that the great 
rarity of large diamonds in ancient works of art, even in 
Byzantine times, when we should have expected that the 
gorgeousness of the Court, and the communication with 
Asia, would have introduced them, is to be accounted for, 
not by the scarcity of the gem itself at that period, but 
by the prohibition which was imposed by the Indian 
sovereigns against the exportation from that country of 
any above a certain size.* The other relic is noteworthy 
for the curious superstition attached to it. It is a cup, 
which is said also to have belonged to the empress Pul- 
cheria, covered on the outside with old red gold ; inside 
there is very curious and beautiful carving, representing 
figures, done in bone, or, according to the legend, in the 
horn of a serpent This had the power of curing a person 
who had been poisoned, if wine or water were administered 
in it to the patient ; it is still used by the monks for the 
same purpose, and they say that if liquid remains in it 
for any length of time it will boil. The same idea is 

» Gass, p. 7. 

* King, on the 'Natural History of Precious Stones,' p. 21, note \ 

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1 1 8 Mount A tJios. Chap. V. 

found to exist elsewhere. Thus, Mr. Hamilton, in his 
'Researches in Asia Minor,' speaking of an Armenian 
physician whom he met in that country, says: "His 
medical skill was proved by producing what he called a 
snake's horn, which he asserted was an infallible antidote 
against poison. 'If,' said he, 'a small quantity be scraped 
off with a piece of gold, and swallowed in a little water 
by onQ who has been either poisoned or stung, he will be 
immediately cured.' It appeared to me to resemble a 
boar's tusk, and may have been a piece of simple harts- 
horn ; its chief efficacy being in the piece of gold — 
supplied, of course, by the patient"* A similar supersti- 
tion to this in the west of Europe was attached to the 
tusk of the narwhal, which passed for the unicorn's horn, 
and was reputed to possess the virtue of neutralizing and 
even detecting the presence of poison. Edward IV. gave 
to the ambassador of Charles of Burgundy a cup of gold, 
garnished with pearls and a great sapphire ; and the 
chronicler adds, " in the myddes of the cuppe ys a grete 
pece of an Vnicomes home," • 

To the north of Xeropotamu the declivities of the 
western coast become more gentle, and the scenery 
softer and more wooded. We continued our journey in 
the evening, and passing the Russian monastery on our 
left, arrived at that of Xenophu, which lies on the sea- 
shore. From this place, notwithstanding its low situa- 
tion, the magnificent summits of the Thessalian Olympus 
were visible at sunset over the northern part of Sithonia. 
For our supper, amongst other things, the monks brought 
us a dish of rice and heptapodiy a kind of sea polypus, 
which is allowed to be eaten on fast days because it is 
supposed to be bloodless. The object of most interest 

* Hamilton's 'Asia Minor,' ii. p. 127. 

• See * Our English Home,' p. 61. 

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Chap. V. Docheiareiu. 1 19 

which they had to show was the new iconostase which 
they have erected in their church ; it is composed partly 
of Tenian and partly of Athoan marble, and is certainly 
very imposing.' 

It is less than half an hour's ride along the coast from 
this place to Docheiareiu, or " The Steward's Monastery," 
so called because it is said to have been founded by a 
monk named Euthymius, who was at one time steward 
or bursar of the Lavra. This and Xeropotamu are the 
only two Idiorrhythmic convents on this side of Athos, 
the ruggedness of the ground being apparently favourable 
to the retention of the older system. The buildings here 
are very grand, and the works of art, which seem to have 
escaped Mr. Curzon, are singularly fine. There are two 
splendid crosses ; one a single cross, magnificently set in 
gilt filigree work adorned with gems, the spaces between 
the limbs being also filled up with the same kind of orna- 
mentation, so that it assumes, roughly speaking, a 
diamond shape ; the other is a double cross, like that 
at Xeropotamu, and has beautiful metal flower-work 
wreathed all about it. In the library, too, is the finest 
illuminated MS. that I saw on Athos. It is a book of 

' Attached to this altar-screen was a copy of verses, which I append, 
in illustration of the ailtus of the Virgin in the Greek Church. It is 
written in ancient Greek, and composed in the modem accentual rhythm, 
rhymed : — 

6fio\oy& fiiir4pa o-e 6coD HeZo^ourfidmiv, 
icrjp6rrv trov rh $\€os ical r^y ivfpyftrlca', 
T^p fls ifi4 <rov ifiaxopf 94(nroiva, xpoarauriay. 
^ X^p^i 'ToO 4k4ovs ffov hii fi« aKtTourdrot, 
4^ itopdrvy fie 4x^9^^ icol 6par&y aoMrdrof" 

It must, however, be remembered that the worship of the Virgin has not 
been hardened into dogma in the Eastern, as it has in the Western Church ; 
nor has it overshadowed the worship of our Lord, as one cannot help 
feeling to be the case in the Church of Rome. 

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120 Mount A thos. Chap, v;- 

Lives of Saints of the nth century, decorated with 
miniatures of the saints, most delicately executed, and 
initial letters bordered with exquisite arabesques. The 
manuscripts here were bound in modern binding, and had 
been looked after by the master of the school at Caryes. 
Shortly after leaving this monastery I was fortunate 
enough to have an interview with a hermit. In one 
place, where the path lies along the beach, we had 
stopped for my companion to gather some pebbles, when 
our dragoman, looking up the steep clifTs, exclaimed that 
he saw a man standing at some distance above us. 
Guessing what he might be, I dismounted, and scrambled 
up 20 or 30 feet to the mouth of a cave, where I found a 
dark hollow-cheeked man, clothed in a single garment of 
rough cloth. In the inner part of the cave, which was. 
divided off from the rest by a low wall, was his bed of 
straw, and one book of prayers was lying on the walL 
In this place he lived both winter and summer. He 
came originally from Argyro-Castro, in Albania, and 
had served for some years as a corporal in the army 
of the King of Greece ; but after a time he was seized 
with a desire for the life of retirement, and came as a 
caloyer to the skete of St Anne. After remaining there 
for three years, he devoted himself to the life of a 
hermit, in which he had passed his time for seven years. 
His food was brought to him from the neighbouring 
monasteries. He spoke distinctly, like a man who had 
had some education ; and slowly, as one unaccustomed 
to conversation. As we were looking down on the 
tumbling waves, I said to him before leaving, " Here you 
have near you God and the sea." "Ah!" he replied, 
"we are all sinners," as if to deprecate the idea that 
he was on a higher spiritual level than other men. 
His answer illustrates the entire absence of pretension. 

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Chap. V. A Hermit. 1 2 1 

which we observed amongst the monks: they never 
represented themselves as more learned, or more reli- 
gious, or having higher aims, than was really the 
case ; and when they had devoted themselves to the mo- 
nastic life from mixed motives, they did not hesitate to 
avow it 

A wooded gorge that runs inland near this point led 
us to the small and secluded monastery of Constamonitu, 
one of the very few which do not command a sea view. 
On our arrival we were ushered into the guest chamber, 
a small gloomy room, where we were soon after visited 
by the hegumen — a kind, hearty old man, and very 
simple in his ideas, having been very little away from 
Athos ; yet we soon discovered that he knew everything 
of what was going on in Europe and America ; he was 
even aware that in England we use steam machinery 
in agriculture ; and a smile of grim satisfaction played 
over his features as he spoke of the probable downfall of 
the Papacy.® While we were talking with him, there 
came in a very old man, so venerable in his appearance. 

* At Cutlumusi and other monasteries there is a curious tradition that 
they were destroyed by the Pope of Rome, who came here "about the time 
of the great schism." The foundation for this was probably some attack of 
the Crusaders at the time of the Fourth Crusade ; or the expedition of the 
Emperor Michael Palaeologus to force the monks to accept the terms of 
the Concordat of Lyons, on which occasion they suffered great injury at 
his hands. The name Caryes, which, as I have before mentioned, means 
**The Hazels," is derived by many of the monks from icefpo (a head), in 
accordance with a story that the Pope cut off the heads of all the represen- 
tatives of that period, and placed them round the Protaton, or principal 
church of the place. Some authorities maintain the derivation from Kdpa^ 
though on different grounds from those given by the monks. According to 
them the earlier form of the name was Kap4at, or Kaf>a(, and consequently 
they consider it to mean "head centre" (Gass, p. 19). But the name 
Caiyes, as " The Hazels," is so frequently found, and the custom of caUing 
places fix)m the trees found there is so common, especially in Greece, that 
there can be little doubt that this derivation is the right one. 

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1 22 Mount A tlios. Chap. V. 

that the most thoughtless person could not but have 
risen up in his presence. His flowing beard was snowy- 
white, his limbs spare and ascetic, so that he looked 
more like one of the ancient hermits than anything else 
that we saw. Just such a figure Spenser has described 

in his portrait of heavenly contemplation : 


" — that godly aged sire, 
With snowy lockes adowne his shoulders shed ; 

As hoary frost with spangles doth attire 
The mossy braunches of an oke halfe ded. 
Each bone might through his body well be red, 

And every smew seene, through his long fiist: 
For naught he cared his carcas long unfed ; 

His mind was full of spirituall repast, 
And pyn'd his flesh to keep his body low and chast" — 

Faerie Queeue, L x. 48. 

He was bom in Mitylene, and was employed in a 
merchant's business in Egypt at the time of Napoleon's 
expedition : after this he retired to the convent of Mount 
Sinai, and, when he had spent three years there, came in 
1809 to Athos, where he had remained ever since. He 
had been tutor to the old Hegumen, with whom he had 
maintained a warm and unbroken friendship. The man, 
who waited on us, was a tall, gaunt caloyer, with a hard 
Scotch cast of features, who might have sat for a likeness 
of a Covenanter. He talked with fervour of the pro- 
tection afforded to them by the sacred relics, of the 
devoted lives of some of the hermits, their prophetic 
power, and the need of sternly subjugating the passions, 
in order to gain an insight into the higher spiritual 
mysteries, until at last he looked almost like one inspired ; 
and his utterance became so indistinct, that we could 
understand but little of what he said. The sight of 
these three men together in the dark monastic chamber 
was one not to be forgotten ; and it is a characteristic 

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Chap. V. Zographu. 123 

instance of the hospitality of the Holy Mountain that, 
though they were sternly fasting, they pressed us to 
feast on the best of what they had, and the Covenanter 
replenished our wine-glasses. • 

On leaving this place, we crossed a range of hills, and 
descended into another rich valley, where in the midst of 
numerous cypresses stands Zographu, or "The Painter's" 
— a monastery of 100 monks, all Bulgarians, who have the 
service in the old Slavonic tongue. The legend which is 
given to explain the name relates that a picture of St 
George, now in the monastery, which was painted by 
himself, having originally existed in Palestine, transported 
itself to Athos by its own wonder-working power. But 
when we consider that it is a Slavonic monastery, there 
is a strong probability that the Greek name is the 
corruption of an original Bulgarian one ; and this may 
very well have been Zagora ("behind the mountain"), 
which we find in many parts of Turkey. This would 
accurately describe its retired position. It is a handsome 
structure, and part of it has been lately rebuilt in con- 
sequence of the destruction caused by an earthquake, 
but it does not contain much that is worth seeing. 
A school, which was established here some time ago, 
has died a natural death, and the Hegumen spoke 
despondingly of the prospect of introducing study, 
which he feared was not reconcilable with monastic 
pursuits. He was the only one of the inmates that 
we met with who could speak Greek. The Greek 
monks in the other convents betrayed the spirit of their 
ancestors in an amusing manner, by always speaking of 
the Slavonic caloyers as " barbarians." 

We passed the night at Zographu, and continued our 
route the next morning across the peninsula, through 
country different from that of any other part of Athos — 

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1 24 Mount A thos. Chap. V. 

upland valleys and forest scenery, in the midst of which 
the light green foliage of the Isthmian pine was con- 
spicuous, the same of which the crown was composed 
at the games of the Isthmus. At last we caught sight 
of the blue Strymonic gulf, and descended to Chilandari, 
the second of the two Bulgarian monasteries, which 
contains also a number of Servians. It stands between 
wooded hills at the head of a narrow valley, and in con- 
sequence of its position is somewhat unhealthy. In the 
church is kept the staff of Andronicus Comnenus, who 
retired hither at the end of his life, and also a MS. the 
most precious of all that exist on Athos, which was the 
gift of that emperor, and is in perfect preservation, from 
having been kept with the sacred relics. It is a 4to 
Greek MS. of St. John's Gospel, of about the 12th cen- 
tury, written in gold letters on white vellum : there are 
very few manuscripts like it in existence. 

On both our visits to this monastery I was struck with 
the intelligence shown by the leading monks. On the 
first occasion I was much impressed by a father called 
Hilarion, and on enquiring for him subsequently, I found 
that he had been promoted to a high office in Bulgaria, 
and having taken the national side in the Bulgarian 
movement against the Patriarch of Constantinople, had 
afterwards been deprived. This time I had a long con- 
versation with one of the superiors, called Nilus, a man 
of imposing appearance, whose strong countenance, 
quick eye, long grey hair, and benevolent expression, 
were eminently attractive ; and he was liberal-minded as 
well as devout. Speaking to me of other churches, he 
said, " The Church is now divided, but all are Christians, 
and our first object ought to be to make it one again. 
The proper way to bring this about is to ignore minor 
differences as far as possible, and to leave each Church 

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Chap. V. Views of other Churcltes. 125 

free to maintain its established customs. If I were to 

visit England, I ought to be free to worship according 

to the rites to which I am accustomed ; if a member 

of the English Church comes here, he should have the 

same freedom." He thought there was hope of bringing 

this about, especially in case of the downfall of the 

Papacy, which he regarded as the great difficulty in the 

way of the unity of the Church. A book of travels is 

not the proper place for discussing theories of Christian 

union or comprehension, but I believe Nilus struck the 

right nail on the head. All honour to those who, in 

whatsoever way, endeavour to promote harmony among 

Christian communions ; but when we consider the vast 

differences which almost necessarily exfst between them, 

arising in great measure from temperament, from modes 

of thought, and from deeply-rooted associations, it is 

hard to conceive that a permanent basis of agreement 

could be fixed on any other principle than that just 

stated. No doubt, in such a case, some common standard 

of doctrine would be required, which should be accepted 

by all ; but such a one we have ready to hand in the 

one only form of faith which has been established 

and ratified by the whole Christian Church — the Nicene 


When we talked to the monks, as we often did, about 
their relation to other Christian churches, and to our 
own in particular, the answers they gave us were almost 
always sympathetic and liberal. "Do you receive the 
Gospels } Do you believe in the Trinity ? Are you 
baptized } " asked one. " Very well ; then you are a 
true Christian." Another volunteered the remark that 
all the Churches are one, the test being belief in Christ 
"The Ottomans," he said, "have also a Church, but 
them we cannot include, because they do not believe in 

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126 Mount Athos. Chap. V. 

Christ" These expressions, however, we must not take 
for more than what they really mean. When I was 
discussing the subject with the librarian of St Dionysius*, 
who was a rigid disciplinarian, and seized the points of 
difference in preference to those of agreement, I asked 
him at last the plain question, " Do you then consider 
us to be heretics ? " " No," he replied, " you are not 
heretics, but you are not of the Orthodox Church.*' 
This exactly represehts the point of view from which we 
are generally regarded by members of the Eastern 
communion ; and the same thing is taught in their 
catechisms, namely, that the universal Church is the 
aggregate of all the bodies of Christians which are found 
throughout the world, but that to belong to one of these 
is a very different thing from membership in the Church 
to which they have the privilege of belonging. In short, 
they regard us almost exactly in the same way as a 
large number of English Churchmen regard the dis- 
senters in their own country — that is to say, they 
acknowledge the reality of our Christian faith, and its 
vitality, as shown by the fruits it produces, and would 
shrink from denying that we shall ultimately be saved ; 
but at the same time they feel themselves unable to 
consider us as being in the same safe and, so to speak, 
guaranteed position as themselves. It will be seen, how- 
ever, that there are some, like Nilus, who take a wider 

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( 127 ) 


MOUNT ATHOS (continued). 

Canal of Xerxes — Sphigmenu — The Central Ridge — The Russian Mo- 
nastery — Estimate of the Monastic System — The future of the Holy 
Mountain — History of the Community — Earliest Period — Time of 
the Comneni — Attack by the Latins — Time of the Palaeologi — Canta- 
cuzene — Theological Movements — Submission to the Turks — Later 

We have now reached the last of the monasteries at this 
end of the peninsula ; but before we turn our faces once 
more in the other direction, a few words ought to be said 
about the canal and its environs, which we investigated 
when returning from Athos to Salonica by land in 1853. 
The isthmus through which it was cut is just a mile and 
a half in width, and the ground immediately about it is 
low, so that even in the middle, where there are some 
slight undulations, it hardly rises more than fifty feet 
above the sea. Thus the description of Herodotus is 
very accurate, as he speaks of it as " a neck of land 
about twelve furlongs across, the whole extent whereof, 
from the sea of the Acanthians to that over against 
Torone, is a level plain, broken only by a few low hills." ^ 
Through this isthmus the canal of Xerxes was cut, and 
the deep dyke which still remains, and forms the 
boundary of the Holy Mountain, is now called by the 
inhabitants ProvlakUy which name is evidently the cor- 
ruption of a word {7rpoav\a^) signifying "the canal in 

* Herod, vii. 22. 

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128 Mount Athos. Chap. VI. 

front of the peninsula of Athos." Thus the doubts of 
Juvenal and other writers, both ancient and modern, as 
to the execution of Xerxes' project, are proved to have 
been groundless. In the middle, it is true, it is not 
traceable for some distance ; but it has been suggested, 
with great probability, that this part was afterwards 
filled up in order to allow a more ready passage into and 
out of the peninsula. The canal is best traceable on the 
southern side, where it is deep and continuous, varying 
in breadth from time to time from the soil having 
accumulated in places, and marshy at intervals, even in 
summer ; in the wet season a considerable stream of 
water is said to flow down through it. Near the point 
where it reaches the sea on this side stood the ancient 
town of Sane. The whole place was carefully surveyed 
for the Admiralty by Captain Spratt. I may here 
mention, also, that when approaching from this direction 
the neighbouring village of Erisso (Acanthus), which lies 
on the other side of some low hills to the north-west, I 
passed a large and high mound, which at first I took for 
the acropolis, until the real acropolis came in view, with 
remains of Hellenic walls on one of its sides. I have 
little doubt that this was the tomb of Artachaees, who 
superintended the cutting of the canal, for Herodotus 
speaks of his having been buried at Acanthus, and of a 
mound having been raised over his grave by the whole 
Persian army.* 

The next monastery to Chilandari is Sphigmenu (toO 
€o-(l)ir/fM€vov), which derives its name from its cofifified 
position between wooded heights, which here approach 
one another in the recesses of a little bay. We were 
much interested in this place, because at the time of our 

* Herod, vii. 117. 

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Chap. VL The Central Ridge. 1 29 

former visit a large part of the front had been washed 
down by the encroaches of the sea, and the hegumen 
expressed great anxiety about obtaining funds to restore 
it. During the interval he had visited Russia and other 
countries, where he had collected the requisite sums, and 
the new building had been finished about a year, and 
presented a substantial and handsome appearance. The 
hegumen himself, too, had grown stout and hearty in 
the process ; he was much pleased with the contribution 
which we tendered to him, having been unable to find 
any channel of communication with him while we were 
in England. Anthimus, the ex-patriarch of Constanti- 
nople, was residing in the monastery at this time : after 
his deposition he had come here of his own accord. 

It took us five hours to ride from Sphigmenu to 
Caryes, by a path along the central ridge, descending 
occasionally on one side or the other, and frequently 
overlooking precipitous banks of wood, which shelved 
downwards from our feet. At one point the humble 
and homely Constamonitu appeared, nestling in its 
narrow valley ; in the opposite direction the lordly 
buildings of Vatopedi were conspicuous on the shore. 
In many places the peak was visible, and the wide sea of 
course lay below us on both sides ; but the prettiest 
effects were produced by the vignette views, seen through 
the depressions, where now and then two or three peeps 
of the blue water opened out at once on different sides. 
It is one of the finest rides in the peninsula. In one 
place a large eagle rose just below us, and soared away. 
On reaching the village we had a parting interview with 
the "First Man," and, after revisiting our friends at 
Cutlumusi, mounted again to the ridge by a steep track 
through dense forests, and then descended to Russico, 
or the Russian monastery, on the western coast, where 

VOL. I. K 

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r30^ Mount A thos. Chap. VI. 

we arrived just before the gates were closed for the 

In this society there are 300 monks, — Greeks, Russians, 
Servians^ and Bulgarians, — and it has the name of being 
a very strict and well-ordered body, notwithstanding the 
various- dements of which it is composed. The Greeks 
predominate in numbers, and the h^^men is of this race^ 
but many of the features of the place are Russian, such 
as whitewash, green cupolas, chiming bells, and tea. 
This IS the only convent where the service is performed 
in two languages. la the others, if any members of other 
nationalities come to reside, they have to conform to the 
worship of the majority — a thing which " is hot very 
edifying to them, as they can understand but little : here, 
however, there are two principal churches, one for the 
Gredc and the other for the Slavonic service The Rus^ 
siaa church has very few Byzantine features about it ; 
the architecture and pictures are Italian ; it was conse- 
quently unmterestmg enough, but the harmonious and 
musical sound of their chanting, and the chiming of the 
bells for Vespers, was highly agreeable. On great festi- 
vals the bells are sounded, as they are ordinarily in 
Russia, during the recital of the Nicene Creed ; a custom 
which has been noticed as illustrating the prominence 
which Eastern Christianity has always given to doctrinal 
orthodoxy. Amongst the Greeks, however, it is un- 

On the evening of the following day the Russiaa 
steamer from Constantinople touched her^ on her way to 
Salonica, and we embarked on board of her, and bade 
farewell to the Holy Mountain. And now that we have 
left the sacred ^ores^ let us cast a retrospective glance 
at them, and see what opinion we have formed of these 
monasteries, which are the very centre of the Greek 

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Chap. VI. Retrospective View. 131 

Church, and are r^farded with so great veneration by all 
Eastern Christians. 

Our estimate of them will vary, as we fix our thoughts 
on the present or the past Probably a considerable 
number of the monks r^;ard the monastic system in no 
other light than as a source of personal benefit to them- 
selves. The theory, however, which the more thoughtful 
of them maintain is this, — that these bodies serve as an 
example of holy life, as they contain a number of men 
devoted to piety and religion ; that they maintain intact 
the old^ customs and principles ; that their constant 
prayers are a support to the Church ; and that in pros- 
perous times they become seats of learning. How far 
this theory, even supposing it to be tenable, is carried 
out in practice, may be gathered from the fact that our 
dragoman, a trustworthy man, assured us that he had 
never heard so much foul and disgfusting language as in 
the conversation of the lower monks, among whom he 
was thrown. We are not to suppose that this applies to 
the conversation of the ordinary monks, but to a certain 
number of ntauvais sujets, who are to be found in each 
monastery ; yet it is in part the result of the system. 
Take a number of uneducated peasants from any country, 
separate them from female society, and give them a cer- 
tain amount of leisure ; the result will be, that even the 
purest religious influences, unalloyed by superstition, will 
not prevent a large amount of evil from being fostered 
among them. Notwithstanding that we find much that 
is pleasing in the life of the monks, and that strict mo- 
rality is enforced by the rigid discipline, yet we cannot 
but draw the conclusion that eastern monastic life has 
here been tried on a large scale, is displayed to the 
greatest advantage — and has failed. 

But, whatever may be their faults, and however false, 

K 2 

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132 Mount Athos, Chap. VI. 

in a healthy state of the church, the monastic system may 
be, yet, looking to the past, we must remember that they 
were once to a certain extent strongholds of learning, 
and still more strongholds of faith in the midst of un- 
believers. To one who reads, however cursorily, the his- 
tory of the Greek Church, the g^eat source of wonder is, 
not that its faith has been overlaid by superstition, but 
that it has retained its Christianity at all : and to this 
the monasteries have in no slight degree contributed. 
Besides this, they have served as refuges for the perse- 
cuted, and for those perplexed by the distractions and 
confusions of the world. Thousands have been saved 
from suicide by their means. And from this point of 
view the need of them cannot be said to have wholly 
passed away ; for as long as the Turks remain in Europe, 
the Christians will be persecuted, and as long as they are 
persecuted, they will need a refuge. 

It is a difficult matter to speculate on what may be 
the future of the Holy Mountain. It was a subject on 
which we often talked to the monks, and they invariably 
connected their own future with the political future of 
Turkey. When the happy period arrives, to which all 
Greeks look forward, wfien they are to regain Constan- 
tinople, Athos, they think, may once more become the 
learned place which they believe it to have been in former 
times. Yet some of them were not slow to see that 
freedom would open to men various sources of occupa- 
tion, which would cause them to be less disposed for the 
monastic calling. It may also be doubtful how far an 
educational system can be engrafted on the present life 
of the place, as the experiment was tried in the last cen- 
tury by Eugenius Bulgaris, whose school, as I have 
already mentioned, ultimately failed. Yet this is the best 
thing which we can hope for them. We should not wish 

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Chap. VI. History of the Commtmity. 133 

to see so venerable an institution destroyed, root and 
branch, if it is possible by any means to adapt it to the 
exigencies of a coming time. Let us hope that its 
suitableness for a seat of learning, from its central, 
healthy, and secluded position, may hereafter be appre- 
ciated, and that its fine buildings may not be left to the 
ravages of time, to the unavailing regret of future gene- 

In conclusion, let me add a very brief history of this 
unique community, the permanence of which as an insti- 
tution is altogether unparalleled. The first distinct men- 
tion of monks on Athos is in the reign of Basil the Ma- 
cedonian, who issued a rescript in the year A.D. 885, for- 
bidding the inhabitants of the neighbouring country to 
disturb " the holy hermits." At that time it appears that 
these monks were dependent on a monastery at Hierissus 
(Erisso) — a restriction on their freedom which was re- 
moved by the next emperor, Leo the Philosopher : and 
from the fact that they are termed "hermits" (pirov 
ifyqfiucov filov €K6fi€vot), we may conclude that no monas- 
tery had yet been founded on the Holy Mountain. Very 
shortly afterwards, however, such a society must have 
been formed, for in 924 a golden bull of Romanus Leca- 
penus speaks of the restoration by that emperor of the 
monastery of Xeropotamu, which had been destroyed by 
the Saracens, and was now rebuilt, with a handsome 
church, strong walls and towers, and dwellings for sick 
persons and strangers. But its prosperity was not of 
long duration, though whether it was again destroyed by 
the Saracens, or what other causes may have contributed 
to its downfall, we know not : but otherwise we could not 
account for the miserable condition in which the inha- 
bitants of the mountain are described as being at the 
time of the building of the Lavra, and the fact that its 

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1 34 Mount A thos. Chap. VI. 

founder, St Athanasius, is regarded as the real author of 
the existing system. Of the erection of his monastery 
(about A.D. 960), with the help of Nicephorus Phocas, we 
have already spoken ; but his ideas on the subject of the 
monastic community and its future development seem to 
have extended beyond this, for the office of " First Man " 
was founded in his time, apparently as a means of com- 
bining and regelating a number of separate societies. 
About the same period the village of Caryes, which even 
before this had been a meeting-place for the hermits, was 
appointed to be the seat of government The effect of 
this is seen in the establishment, within a few years, of 
three other important convents, also on the eastern coast 
of the peninsula — Iveron and Vatopedi before the end of 
that century, and Sphigmenu at the commencement of 
the next By the time of Constantine Monomachus, less 
than 100 years from the time of St Athanasius, the mo- 
nastic buildings, which had then numbered 58, amounted 
to 180, containing 700 monks. From that emperor they 
received a second constitution, in which the intrusion of 
the female sex was strongly prohibited, and various dis- 
putes about land, which had already risen between the 
various societies, were settled. From him also the penin- 
sula received the name of the Holy Mountain. 

Then follows the time of the Comneni (1056- 1204), 
characterized by violent opposition to the Latin Church 
and Western ideas, together with a temporary resusci- 
tation of Byzantine literature. The emperors of that 
race, finding the monastic system a support to them in 
carrying out those ideas, showered their favours upon 
these convents, and made them independent of the 
Patriarch of Constantinople, who in early times had 
appointed the First Man, and exercised a visitatorial 
authority. Meanwhile the monasteries of Philotheu and 

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Chap. VI. Time of the ComnenL 135 

•Caracalla had arisen on the eastern coast, and those of 
Xenophu and Docheiareiu on the western ; and to 
these Pantocratoros and Cutlumusi were added under 
Manuel and Alexius Comnenus. The fact that one so 
much interested in literary and theological pursuits as 
the latter of these two emperors should have been so 
partial to these convents, renders it probable that at that 
time they were homes of study and learning. Another 
event of some importance to the Greek Church, from its 
tendency to combine the nationalities of which it was 
composed, took place during his reign in the foundation 
of Chilandari, the first purely Slavonic monastery. 
Fallmerayer, indeed, maintains that the majority of the 
inmates of all the convents were from the first of Slavonic 
origin — ^a conclusion which he bases mainly on the fact 
that old service books in that language are found in 
many of the libraries.' And though this assumption is 
contrary to historical probability, yet it is shown by the 
evidence of names, that some persons of that race had 
settled on Athos as early as the end of the loth century. 
But this convent was founded exclusively for them, with 
the leave of the emperor, by the Servian Prince Stephen 
Nemanja, who himself retired thither ; and so inde- 
pendent was their position that at first they were not 
subject to the control of the First Man, and the other 
monks were forbidden to interfere in their affairs. These 
circumstances serve to explain its remote position at the 
further end of the peninsula. 

The taking of Constantinople by the Latins (A.D. 1204) 
could not fail to have disastrous consequences for the 
Holy Mountain. Everywhere the Greek rite was treated 
with the utmost contumely, and the Greek priests and 

* * Fragmenta aus dem Oxient,' iL p. 32. 

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1 36 Mount A thos. Chap. VL 

monks were regarded as heretics, and made the objects of 
unrelenting persecution. With a barbarity worthy of the 
Saracens, a number of the invaders landed on the coast;- 
and having erected a fort to serve as their head-quarters, 
destroyed the churches, pillaged the monasteries, and 
put the monks to the torture, in order to discover the 
secret of concealed treasures. Reduced to despair by 
this merciless treatment, the unfortunate community 
applied for aid to a quarter which, under other circum- 
stances, would have been *" the last for them to have 
recourse to— Pope Innocent III. That far-sighted pre- 
late, amongst whose extensive plans the reconciliation of 
the Eastern Church was one, seized the opportunity 
of displaying his power and his magnanimity. His 
answer to the monks breathes a tone of lofty conciliation. 
He believed the tiine was come when Samaria would 
return to Jerusalem. The mountain of the Lord, to 
which all nations flow, had chosen their mountain as a 
representative of its name; and it was a holy spot, 
a house of God, a fitting arena for the struggle with 
Satan. In answer, therefore, to their humble supplica- 
tions, he agreed to take them under the protection of St. 
Peter and the Holy See, confirmed to them the immu- 
nities and privileges they had hitherto enjoyed, and 
undertook to defend them from their persecutors. What 
was the effect of this letter we have no means of judging, 
but we may conclude that the influence of the Pope 
availed in their favour, as we hear nothing more of Athos 
until after the expulsion of the Latins from Constantinople 
(A.D. 1 261). 

The succeeding period was not marked by events of 
any great importance. The Palaeologi seem to have 
followed the example of their predecessors in bestowing 

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Chap. VI. Time of the Palaologu 1 37 

donations of land on the monasteries, and they were 
further enriched by gifts from the Servian princes. 
Among the latter the distinguished Stephen Dushan is 
mentioned as having visited them in 1 345, together with 
his wife ; from which we gather that the exclusion of 
females was not absolute; though, in fact, the same 
thing has occurred in the present day, Lord Stratford 
having been allowed on one occasion to bring some of 
the ladies of his family to the monastery of St. Paul. 
At this time also Zographu, the second Slavonic con- 
vent, was founded. In the struggle between Michael 
Palaeologus and the Patriarch Arsenius, and in the 
movements resulting from the intrigues of that emperor 
with the Western Church, the monks took the popular 
side against him, and in consequence, on one occasion, 
brought down his vengeance upon them. The other 
notices which have come down to us refer mainly to 
restrictions on the power of the First Man, whose office 
had gradually assumed overweening proportions. The 
Patriarch now once more regained his influence over the 
society ; the neighbouring Bishop of Erisso, who from 
early times had had certain episcopal rights over the 
peninsula, was restored to his former footing ; and there 
are traces of the establishment of a consultative body, 
comjxjsed of the leading monks, which may have been 
the original of the present representative system. But 
even with these limitations, the office with its executive 
powers was something very differeht from what it is at 
present, when its holder is merely the president of an 

The middle of the 14th century, however, brought 
with it events, both political and theological, in which 
the monks of Athos took a prominent part The 

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138 Mount Athos. Chap. VI. 

leading personage of this period is John Cantacuzene, 
who in his successive characters of rebel against Andro- 
nicus I., friend and counsellor of Andronicus II., regent 
and gfuardian of his son John Palaeologus, and ultimately 
of emperor, stands out as the most prominent figure in 
the later Byzantine annals. His history is in many 
ways interwoven with that of the monks. Already, in 
the struggle between the two Andronici, the elder of the 
two emperors had sent Isaac, the First Man of Athos at 
that period, to his grandson in the character of a 
mediator ; and, later on, after the death of the younger 
Andronicus, when the queen, his widow, was persuaded 
to declare against the authority of Cantacuzene as regent, 
the same man was employed by him, together with 
Macarius, the hegfumen of the Lavra, the future patriarch 
Callistus, and another monk famed for his sanctity, to 
exhort the queen to peace, and to warn her against 
introducing the horrors of civil war. So intimate 
was Cantacuzene's connection with the monks of the 
Holy Mountain, and so consistently did he defend 
them from the charges of heresy brought against them, 
that he was suspected of having betaken himself to 
them during the lifetime of Andronicus II., in order 
to avail himself of their prophetic power to discover 
his future prospects. At last, when the tide of fortune 
finally turned against him, he determined to embrace 
the monastic profession, for which he had for some 
time cherished a secret longing, and retired to Athos, 
where he composed his history and ended his life. 
His son Matthew, too, who had been associated with 
him in the empire, and the historian Nicephorus Gre- 
goras, with other writers of the period, betook them- 
selves to this retreat, so that Athos became a home 

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Chap. VL Theological Movements. 1 39 

at once for men of learning, and for politicians weary 
of the world. 

Among the theological movements of this time, the 
most prominent was that of the Hesychasts, who main- 
tained the doctrine of the uncreated light of Tabor, 
together with other mystical views connected with it, 
which we have already noticed. The dispute, which gave 
occasion for four councils, and involved emperors and 
patriarchs in its confusion, continued for ten years (1341- 
51), Gregory Palamas being the leader of the monks' 
party, on which side also Cantacuzene was found, while 
Nicephorus Gregoras supported Barlaam and their other 
opponents. But this was not the only cause of theo- 
logical excitement It was commonly reported, and 
there is good reason for thinking the charge well founded, 
that the belief of many of the monks was impregnated 
with the tenets of the Massalians, a sect which had arisen 
among the Slavonic races in the reign of Alexius Com- 
nenus. They were Dualists, and their doctrines in many 
respects resembled those of sdme of the early Gnostics — 
a class of views to which extravagant asceticism has 
always proved favourable. The suspicion went so far, 
that in 135 1 a formal investigation was set on foot against 
the First Man Nephon, before the bishops of Salonica 
and Erisso ; and though they decided that he had done 
nothing more than receive beggars and needy strangers 
of that sect, and " that the sun is sometimes darkened 
with clouds only to shine with greater lustre afterwards," 
yet for atimethecaloyerswere brought into considerable 

The century which intervened before the capture of 
Constantinople by the Turks was a time of prosperity to 
these societies, nor did the long death-struggle of the 

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I40 Mount Athos. Chap. VL 

empire affect them injuriously. It seemed almost as if 
the emperors and leading men of that time, conscious 
of the increasing weakness of their position, were disposed 
to make over a part of their possessions to what seemed 
to them the safer keeping of the monks. The number of 
the convents on the western coast was increased in the 
latter half of the fourteenth century by St. Dionysius', 
Simopetra, Constamonitu, Russico, and St Paul's, and 
numerous dotations in land and tithes were made to those 
already existing. When the councils of Ferrara and 
Florence (1438-9) were held, and the last attempt was 
made to enlist the powers of the West in the defence of 
Constantinople, by the reunion, or rather submission, of 
the Eastern to the Latin Church, these caloyers were the 
strongest opponents of any such concessions. But for 
themselves, they had already made their terms with the 
conqueror. The siege and storming of Salonica by 
Sultan Amurath had in all respects been a lesson to them. 
There the conqueror had made favourable offers to the 
Greek Christians, as opposed to the Venetian garrison, 
whom he treated as Western intruders ; and the pillage 
which accompanied his conquest warned them what they 
had to suffer in case of resistance. Moreover, the vio- 
lence and oppressiveness of the Latins had caused the 
ecclesiastics to regard the advance of the Mahometans in 
the light of a deliverance. Accordingly they sent an 
embassy to him, offering to submit to his government, 
and requesting a confirmation of their immunities and 
the possession of their territories — a request to which 
they obtained an unexpectedly favourable reply. So far 
indeed was the goodwill carried between the monks of 
that time and the Turkish conquerors, that in a MS. 
lately discovered by Professor Tischendorf, there is found 

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Chap. VI. Later History. 14 1 

an exaggerated laudation of Mahomet II. by Critobulus, 
a caloyer of Athos, in which his heroic deeds are cele- 
brated, and every virtue ascribed to him. 

From that time to the present the fortunes of the Holy 
Mountain have been for the most part uneventful, and 
its position almost unchanged Soliman the Magnificent 
is the only Sultan who seems to have attacked the 
monks ; in his reign their territory was laid waste with 
fire and sword, and great injury inflicted. On the other 
hand, his predecessor Selim I. bestowed great favours on 
them ; and though they have had to bear heavy taxation 
and exactions, yet they have been allowed to exercise their 
religion undisturbed. In this way their isolation as a purely 
Christian community in the midst of the Mahometans 
caused them to become a bulwark of the Christian faith, 
and a beacon-light to the whole Eastern Church. The 
last founded of the monasteries was Stavroniceta, whichv 
was established in 1545. The protectorate, which had 
previously been exercised by the Greek emperors, now 
passed into the hands of the Hospodars or Voyvodes of 
Wallachia and Moldavia, who enriched the societies with 
numerous benefactions. For some time, learning seems 
to have flourished among them ; thus Metrophanes Cri- 
topulus, a young man who was sent to England and Ger- 
many by the reforming prelate, Cyril Lucar, with a view 
of introducing western learning into the east, had been 
educated on Athos. But the natural tendency of their 
mode of life, in the absence of any stimulus from without, 
worked itself out as time went on, and left them as they 
are now, uninstructed and unprogressive. In all proba- 
bility, the present century will prove to have affected 
their fortunes more than any preceding one. The con- 
fiscation of their goods in free Greece by Capodistrias, at 

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142 Mount Athos. Chap. VI. 

the end of the War of Independence, was the b^inning 
of a change, and now the loss of their property in the 
Principalities must affect them still further. The next 
move, whatever that may be, will probably accompany 
the downfall of the Turkish empire, whenever that event 
comes to pass.* 

* The facts contained in this notice are mostly from Gass's * Commentatio 
Historica de Claustris in Monte Atho sitis;' the original documents are to 
be found in the * Urkundenverzeichniss/ in J. Muller's 'Denkmaler in den 
Klostem von Athos.* 

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( 143 ) 



Salonica — Its Triamphal Arches — Inscription — Population and History 
— The Egnatian Way — Roads in Turkey — The Vardar — Khans — 
Site of Pella— Yenidj^—Vodena— Its Beautiful Situation — The 
Ancient Edessa — Village and Lake of Ostrovo — Subterranean Chan- 
nels — Gumitzovo — Pigs in Turkey — Nidj6 and Peristeri — Approach 
to Monastir. 

About nine o'clock on the morning after we left Athos, 
the steamer cast anchor in the harbour of Salonica, which 
forms the innermost bay of the long gulf in which the 
iEgean terminates towards the north-west. As seen 
from the sea, the aspect of the place is very striking, and 
recalls the appearance of Genoa, though it is far inferior 
to that magnificent city. From the water's edge the 
houses rise gradually up the hill sides towards the north, 
until they reach the castle which crowns the summit 
Like that at Constantinople, it bears the name of the 
Seven Towers, and was probably called so before 
the time of the Turkish occupation. Behind it rise 
the lofty heights of Mount Khortiatzi, from which it 
IS separated by a ridge and a depression ; at this point 
two valleys commence, and gradually diverge from one 
another as they descend towards the sea, while their 
inner sides are surmounted by the picturesque lines of 
white walls which enclose the city, and are defended 
at their extremities by two massive towers which rise 
from the water. In this way, its triangular form, the 
compact mass of buildings which it presents at one view 
to the eye, and the numerous elegant minarets which 

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144 Salonica to Monastir, ' Chap. VII. 

stand up among them, combine to form an imposing 

Within, the place is intersected in its lower part by- 
one long street, which runs from east to west, marking 
the line of the old Via Egnatia, and crossed by two 
Roman triumphal arches, through which the road entered 
Thessalonica from the two sides. One of these, which 
lies some little way within the eastern wall, is a fine 
arch of brick springing from piers cased in white marble, 
which are ornamented with an elaborate cornice, and 
below with sculptured representations of a triumphal 
procession. This has been thought to have been erected 
in honour of Constantine, who visited this place after 
subduing the Sarmatians ; but from the very debased 
character of the sculpture, Leake is disposed to attribute 
it to the time of Theodosius, whose victories over the 
Goths were a common subject on the monuments of his 
age. The other and smaller arch is situated just inside 
the western wall, close to the Vardar gate, as the mo- 
dern entrance is called, from its leading in the direc- 
tion of that river. It is massively built of stone, but the 
construction is rude, and hardly worthy of a monument 
erected in commemoration of the battle of Philippi, as 
Beaujour supposed it to be. Another argument against 
its being of so early a date, is the occurrence in an 
inscription on one of the piers of the names Flavins 
Sabintis as belonging to one of the magistrates of that 
time; from which we may infer that it is later than 
Vespasian's age, as those names must have been adopted 
from his family.^ On the outer side of the arch, under 
the capitals of both pilasters, is the figure of a horse 
with hogged mane, and by its side a man wearing a toga. 
But the principal interest attaching to it is owing to the 

* Boeckh., * Corpus Inscriptionum,' No. 1967, ttote. 

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Chap. VI L Salonica, 145 

; name of " Politarchs," which is given in the inscription to 
i the chief officers of the city, thereby confirming the 

' passage in the Acts (xvii. 6), where the magistrates of 
this place are called by the same unusual name. In 
fact, this title does not occur again, except in one other 
inscription, also referring to Thessalonica, which is 
mentioned by a French writer of the last century.* They 
seem to have been seven in number. 

The day after our arrival we paid a visit to Mr. Wilkin- 
son, at the British Consulate, and there made the 
acquaintance of Mr. Crosbie, the Scotch Presbyterian 
missionary, who is well known for the attention which he 
shows to visitors to Salonica. Under his auspices we 
visited the ecclesiastical antiquities of the place ; and as 
the ancient churches have all been converted into 
mosques, the assistance of one who is acquainted with 
the Mahometan guardians was of great service in pro- 
curing a speedy admittance. Two of these were ori- 
ginally Pagan temples, and several others, which are of 
Byzantine construction, are of the greatest value for the 
history of art : in this respect, Salonica is only second to 
Constantinople. As full details and illustrations of these 
buildings have been lately published in Texier and 
Pullan's magnificent work on Byzantine architecture, 
which is principally devoted to this city and Trebizond, 
there is no need for me to say anything further about 

• The Abb^ Belley, in the * Academie des Inscriptions,* xxxviii. p. 125. 
All attempts to recover the original of this inscription have been unavail- 
ing. The inscription on the gateway has often been copied, but the only 
accurate reproduction of it is that given by Mr. Vaux of the British Museum 
in the 'Transactions of the Royal Society of Literature,* vol. viii., new series. 
Since this was written, my friend Mr. Curtis, of Constantinople, has found an 
inscription at Monastir, brought from a place twelve miles distant from that 
dty, in which the magistrates are called Politarchs. This shows that the 
title was not confined to Thessalonica, but was found elsewhere in Mace- 
donia. See Appendix B. 


Digitized by VjOOQIC 

146 Salonica to Monastir. Chap. VII. 

them. But as we shall return more than once to this 
city in the course of our travels, it may be well for me to 
give some information as to its population and history. 

Of the sixty thousand inhabitants of Salonica two- 
thirds are Jews, the rest being Turks and Greeks, together 
with a few Wallachs, Armenians, and Franks. The 
number of Jews is at first sight surprising, and the 
variation of numbers in the computations of different 
travellers is so great as to suggest doubts on the subject 
Thus Leake estimates them at only 13,000; Cousin^ry 
at 20,000 ; the 'Jewish Intelligencer' for 1849' at 3S,ooo; 
Miss Mackenzie at 40,000. These differences illustrate 
the difficulty of arriving at accuracy in matters of sta- 
tistics in Turkey, while in the present case the question 
is more than usually involved by the Jews having con- 
trived, in order to avoid taxation, that their numbers 
should be returned officially at a very much lower figure 
than the reality. But when wie find that Paul Lucas, 
writing in 1 7 14, estimates them at 30,000, and remember 
that they have always been highly favoured in this place, 
and that no cause has operated to check their increase, 
we see no reason to doubt the correctness of the state- 
ment given above. From early times the Hebrew race 
seems to have been attracted by the commercial advan- 
tages of Salonica. Thus when St Paul preached there, 
he found a considerable Jewish community. And in the 
twelfth century the traveller of that nation, Benjamin of 
Tudela, speaks of them as amounting to five hundred. 
But by far the larger proportion of the present Jewish 
population are descended from those who were expelled 
from Spain and migrated hither in the reign of Ferdinand 
and Isabella, as is proved by their still speaking among 
themselves a debased form of Spanish. A large number 

In Conybeare and Howson's 'Life and Epistles of St Paul,' L p. 383. 

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Chap. VIL History of the City. idt7 

of them are rich merchants, and a great part of the 
wealth of the place is in their hands. 

To turn now to the history of Salonica. The Greek 
city of Therma, which first occupied this site, though a 
place of some consideration, did not give promise of its 
future greatness. It was not until Roman times, when, 
under its new name of Thessalonica, it became an im- 
portant point on the line of communication between 
Rome and the East, that it came to be regarded as a 
centre, and was acknowledged as the chief city of 
Macedonia. From the establishment of the Imperial 
power to the building of Constantinople it was the capital 
of the whole country from the Adriatic to the Black Sea; 
and the position of the two gates now existing, together 
with the Roman work found in the naodern walls, prove 
that its extent could not have been very different then 
from what it is at present After the founding of the 
new seat of empire it retained its importance as a strong- 
hold of resistance to the barbarians, who now began to 
inundate the neighbouring countries. From the fourth 
to the end of the eighth century it succeeded in repelling 
the invaders ; first the Goths, and then the numerous 
Slavonic tribes who descended from the Danube. But it 
is from the calamities that have befallen it at various 
times that Thessalonica is principally known in history. 
The fearful massacre of the citizens by the order of 
Theodosius, which has been rendered famous by the ex- 
communication of that emperor, and his exclusion from 
the cathedral of Milan by St Ambrose, was the first in 
this list of tragedies. It was occasioned by the murder 
of the emperor's lieutenant by the populace ; on hearing 
the news of which, in an access of fury, Theodosius sent 
word from Milan, where he then resided, that the inhabi- 
tants should be gathered together into the hippodrome 

L 2 

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148 Salonicd to Moitastir. Chap. VI L 

on pretence of a spectacle, and there slaughtered by his 
soldiers. A memorial of the scene of this event still 
remains in a handsome white marble portico near the 
centre of the town, which was probably the entrance to 
the hippodrome. It is called by the neighbouring Jews, 
in whose quarter it stands. Las IncantadaSy or " the en- 
chanted women," from the eight caryatides which stand 
in the upper part of the structure, and were supposed to 
have been petrified by the effect of magia Subsequently 
to this, the city was three times besieged and captured. 
In the year 904 a Saracen fleet appeared before it, and 
after storming the sea-wall, pillaged the whole place, and 
butchered the citizens without respect of sex or age. A 
large number of those who were spared were carried off 
and sold as slaves in various parts of the Mediterranean. 
Again, in 1185, another enemy arose from a different 
quarter. The Normans of Sicily, under their commander 
Tancred, having landed at Dyrrhachium, marched across 
and gained possession of Thessalonica after a ten days' 
siege. An account of the barbarities that were perpe- 
trated on that occasion, and the wanton insults offered 
by the Latins to the Greek rite, has been left us by 
Eustathius, the celebrated commentator, who was Arch- 
bishop of that city at the time. Still later, in 1430, 
occurred the final siege by Sultan Amurath II., which 
has already been referred to in connection with Mount 
Athos. Since that time it has remained in possession of 
the Turks, and has continued to be a place of import- 
ance ; though, if Mr. Finlay is right in estimating its 
population at 220,000 at the time of the Saracen siege, it 
must have greatly declined since the Middle Ages. But 
from its fine harbour and admirable commercial position 
relatively to the interior of European Turkey, it can 
hardly fail at some future time, under more favourable 

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Chap. VII. . TJie Egnatian Way. 149 

auspices, to regain a considerable portion of its former 

After remaining two days at Salonica, we were pre- 
pared to start afresh, and penetrate once more into the 
interior ; our object being now to make for Corfu, which 
was the next stage in our journey. There are two routes 
by which that place may be reached from Salonica ; the 
one by Larissa and Joannina, the other through Central 
Albania, by Monastir, Elbassan, and Berat The former 
of these is in some respects the most interesting, as it 
comprises, besides the two cities already named, the Vale 
of Tempe and plains of Thessaly, the monasteries of 
Meteora and Zitza, and the gorge of the Acheron. This 
route we had taken on a former occasion, and I hope to 
give some account of it later on. We now determined 
to follow the more northerly course, which gives you 
unusual opportunities of studying the various races of 
European Turkey, especially the wilder tribes of Alba- 
nians. Besides this, as far as Elbassan, it corresponds 
in great measure, if not entirely, to the line of the 
Egnatian Way,* which for many centuries was the great 
artery of communication between Rome, Constantinople, 
and Jerusalem ; and again, during the Middle Ages, it 
was bn two occasions the route by which the Normans 
made inroads into the Eastern empire, and was the 
scene of many important conflicts in later Byzantine 

During the two days that we remained at Salonica the 
weather had been cloudy and stormy, and I then realised 
what I had never felt before — the pleasure of pale colours. 
After the glare of sunshine and bright tints to which we 
had been accustomed, the cool greys and browns of the 
sky and mountains were quite a relief to the eye. When, 
however, on the 27th of August, we left Salonica by the 

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rso Salonica to Monastir. Chap. VII* 

Vardar gat^ we were unpleasantly reminded of England 
by a driving rain and northerly wind. The first part of 
the way we rode along the remains of a wretched road^ 
full of ruts and mire, the history of which is worth 
relating, as a specimen of the way in which things are 
done in Turkey. The authorities determined that a 
Route ItnpAiale should be made from Salonica to Mo- 
nastir ; the Pasha fixed a day for the inauguration ; all 
the foreign consuls were requested to appear, each with 
his spade ; the Turkish engineer also came with a theo- 
dolite, which he did not know how to use ; the ceremony 
was celebrated with great pomp ; and the result is — ^that 
from Salonica to Vodena, the most important part of 
the way, almost the only approach to a road is this 
wretched piece, which has now been allowed to fall into- 
decay. Escaping from this we entered on a sandy plain,, 
which reaches for sixty miles westward from Salonica,. 
and is bounded on three sides by mountains of consider- 
able height ; in this part it is tufted by numerous tamarisk 
bushes, and bears many large tumulL The only persons 
whom we met on the way were a few trailers with pack- 
horses. Throughout the whole distance, at mtervals, we 
found two parallel trenches cut, about twenty yards apart, 
being the commencement of the route, but there were na 
signs of the road being in course of making. The need 
of means of communication is the first obstacle in the 
way of improvement in Turkey at the present day, nor 
does there seem any prospect of a change for the better 
in the condition of things in this respect. Now-a-days the 
cause is rather the inertness of the Government, and 
the peculation which pervades every branch of the public 
service ; but in former times there was a rooted dislike of 
any attempt to facilitate locomotion on the part of 
Turkish politicians^ and this in all probability survives 

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Chap. VIL The Vardar. 1 5 1 

among a certain class of them even now. M. Kinneir has 
pertinently remarked on this subject, in his * Memoir of 
the Persian Empire,' that " It is a favourite idea with all 
barbarous princes that the badness of the roads adds 
considerably to the natural strength of their dominions. 
The Turks and Persians are undoubtedly of this opinion ; 
the public highways are therefore neglected, and particu- 
larly so towards the frontiers." * 

We had been late in starting from the city, in conse- 
quence of the kharidji^ or carrier, whose horses we had 
hired for the journey, refusing to go, on account of the 
bad weather. We had neglected to take from him the 
caparra, or deposit, which may always be required when 
an agreement of this kind is made, until the horses are 
forthcoming : thus we had no means of holding him to 
his bargain, and were forced at the last moment to look 
out for another man. In consequence of this we were 
unable to reach the town of Yenidje, as we intended, and 
were forced to stop at a country khan, or inn, on the 
banks of the Vardar or Axius, whose red muddy stream 
is here crossed by a long wooden bridge. The turbid 
water of this river is mentioned by Strabo,* who finds a 
difficulty in reconciling it with the Homeric descrip- 
tion, " thefairest stream that flows on earth." The un- 
healthiness of the neighbourhood was shown by the 
appearance of the khanji, or innkeeper, a young Greek, 
with a yellow face and swollen legs. In like manner 
Salonica, from the proximity of marshes and undrained 
land, has a bad name for fevers throughout the Levant ; 
and though the English residents there combat this state- 
ment, yet it was confirmed by the numerous Italian 
contmis voyageurs who occupied the same locanda with 

* Kinncir's 'Persia,' p. 43. • vu. Fragm. 21, 23. 

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I S 2 Salonica to Monastir. Chap. VI I. 

ourselves, almost all of whom were suffering from malaria* 
As the general features of most khans are the same, I 
will describe our resting-place. It is a square enclosure, 
on one side of which are haylofts and stables, while on 
the opposite side are a number of small chambers, des- 
tined for the human part of the company, with clay floors 
and walls, and a thatched roof, through a hole in which, 
in the absence of windows, ventilation is conveniently 
carried on. The only furniture is a rush mat for each 
person. In one of these unpromising abodes, if there are 
neither rats nor scorpions (we heard of the latter, but 
never saw them), you can make yourself fairly com- 
fortable. I used to have a quantity of hay brought in to 
serve as a bed ; on this were spread railway rugs, of 
which we had a plentiful supply ; and over all the 
levinge^ or sleeping-bag, within which the traveller is safe 
from all kinds of vermin. A knapsack or air-cushion, 
with a great coat, used to serve as a pillow. No doubt a 
tent and mattresses will ensure you greater comfort, but 
apart from the expense and delay inseparable from a 
number of extra baggage-horses, there is one fatal objec- 
tion to tent-life in these countries — it separates you from 
the people, and prevents you from seeing their life and 
habits. The khans in the towns are somewhat less 
simple in their arrangements than what I have described, 
but the quantity of vermin that breeds in their wooden 
floors will soon make you wish yourself back in the 
country again. 

On starting the next morning, I asked our host the 
name of a mountain to the south-west, whose broad base 
alone was visible beneath a dense mass of cloud. " Elym- 
pos," was his reply. It is remarkable that the great 

* A description of this inestimable contrivance is given in Murray's 
* Handbook for Greece.' . 

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Chap. VII. Site of Pella. 1 5 3 

centre of Homeric mythology should have retained its 
name to the present time, — alone, I believe, of all the 
Greek mountains ; unless, perhaps, Liakura, the modem 
name of Parnassus, is a corruption of Likorea, the former 
name of one of its summits. Athos also must be ex- 
cepted, but there the name has been preserved by the 
monks; possibly the existence of the name Olympus 
may be due to the same cause, for there are several very 
ancient monasteries on its sides. But, at all events, it is 
not a mere revival of the classical name, as is the case 
with so many places in free Greece, for it occurs in some 
of the Romaic ballads. Further to the south the conical 
peak of Ossa was visible, separated from Olympus by a 
depression which marked the position of Tempe, and 
beyond all rose the broad hump of Pelion. The northern 
continuation of the range of Olympus, which is called the 
Bermian chain, lay in front of us, forming the western 
limit of the plain. After crossing another branch of the 
Axius by a ferry, we rode on for some distance, passing 
on the way numbers of four-wheeled carts of very simple 
construction, drawn by oxen or blear-eyed buffaloes, 
and driven by peasants with long lance-like staves. The 
country population throughout the whole district is Bul- 
garian. At last we reached a khan by the road-side, 
opposite which is a spring of water issuing from a ruined 
mass of Roman masonry. The ruins are called "The 
Baths " (ja Xovrpd) by the people of the country, and are 
probably the same baths which, in classical times, are 
alluded to as producing bilious attacks ;''^ the khan and 
its vicinity bear the name of Pel. This name, together 
with some pieces of pottery and marble blocks in the 
fields and Turkish cemeteries, and a number of large 

7 See the story in 'Athenseus,' viii. p. 348. 

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154 Salonica to Monasiir. Chap. VIL 

tumuli on the low hills to the south, in the neighbourhood 
of the village of Alaklisi, are the only remains of what 
was once Pella, the birthplace and capital of Alexander 
the Great It is not a striking position for a great me- 
tropolis, but its nearness to the sea must have been its 
chief recommendation. We are now entering the land of 
the two Iskanders : in this neighbourhood our thoughts 
are all of Alexander the Great, and before long we shall 
be passing the country of 

" his namesake, whose oft-baffled foes 

Shrank from his deeds of chiyah-ous emprise — " 

the heroic Scanderbeg. We halted about noon at the 
town of Yenidje, the views of which, as we approached, 
were backed by a fine moimtain ridge, the Peik Dagh. In 
the neighbourhood of this place and of the khan of Pel 
there extends to the southwards a dull green marsh, and 
beyond it a lake, though this is not visible from the 
plain: we were told, however, that a fish which was 
brought us for our dinner had been caught there. A 
canal, which ran in this direction in former times, formed 
a communication between Pella and the sea. The fish 
of this lake were also famous among the ancients, and 
were said to be particularly fat in summer.® The marsh 
used to bear the unprepossessing name of Borboros, or 
" Mud," as we learn from a satirical epigram directed 
against Aristotle, in which that philosopher is attacked 
for preferring the company of Philip and Alexander to 
that of the Athenians : he is there said to have " pre- 
ferred the mouth of the Borboros to the Academy."* 

fty $4pos i^."— {'Athen.,' vii p. 328.) 
* In Plutarch, 'De Exilic/ ctXrro raitiv hn* 'AnaJ^fAias Bop$6pov 4y 

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Chap. VII. Vodena. 155 

From thence pursuing our course along the plain, later in 
the day we forded the broad shallow stream of the Mogle- 
nitiko, which was probably called Lydias in ancient times. 
The stream which carries the waters of the lake of Pella 
into the sea was certainly called by that name, and as the 
Moglenitiko flows into that lake, and is its principal 
feeder, it probably bore the same appellation, and was 
regarded as passing through it. In the lower part of its 
course it seems to have changed its direction since the 
time of Herodotus, who speaks of it as joining the Ha- 
liacmon,*® whereas now it flows into the Vardar, just 
before that river reaches the sea : but in a wide extent 
of plain, intersected by several large rivers, such a change 
is easily explicable." In the neighbourhood of the Mogle- 
nitiko we passed some scenery of a very English character 
— an open common, with cattle grazing, near which was 
a Bulgarian village in the midst of trees. At sunset we 
entered a narrower plain, which forms an offset from the 
great plain of Salonica. The stream which waters this is 
a tributary of the river just mentioned, and leads up to 

This city stands in a singular and most beautiful situa- 
tion. Below three ranges of mountains, which, when seen 
from a distance, seem to rise one behind the other, a 
valley descends, about a mile and a half wide ; nearly 
half-way down it is filled up from side to side by a level 
table of land, the base of which projects towards the 
plain with a gradual curve, like the side of an amphi- 
theatre, and then falls in precipices of some two hundred 
feet in height The town lies on the level, and some of 
its houses overhang the edge of the precipice, which is 

*• * Herod.,' vii. 127. 

'^ The statement of Strabo (viL Fragm. 20), that the lake of Pella was 
fonned by a bianch. of the Axius, is undoubtedly erroneous. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

156 Salonica to Monastir. Chap. Vlli 

further diversified by poplars and other trees, and in one 
or two places by the tall minarets which rise behind. 
The precipices themselves, which consist of conglomerate 
rock, are picturesquely ornamented with bushes, while 
the well-irrigated plain below is covered with fruit-trees, 
and crops of maize, often rising to the height of ten feet 
But the most marked feature of all are the cascades ; for 
the clear river, which descends from the upper part of the 
valley, divides into a number of smaller streams, which 
pass through the town, and plunge at various points 
down the steep rocks, forming an exquisite addition to 
the view, wherever a number of them can be seen 
together. The view from the city, especially that from 
the Archbishop's palace, which is situated on the verge 
of the cliff, is not less fine. Beyond the orchards and 
maize-grounds, which are below you, you look over the 
narrow plain hemmed in by mountains, and beyond this 
the wide plain, only bounded, at a distance of sixty 
miles, by the heights beyond Salonica ; a bright stripe of 
sea also appears, and the lake of Pella, which from its 
marshy character we had not seen when crossing the 
plain : on both sides are fine mountain ranges, and to the 
south the chain of the long, many-crested, snowy Olympus 
(fiaxpo<; TTciKuBeipa^ arydwi<f)o^ "OXu/attov). As it is seen 
from this point, all the Homeric epithets are strikingly 
applicable ; even at this season the northern slopes were 
thickly patched with snow in consequence of the late 
storms. The position of this city is not less remarkable 
in a geographical point of view, commanding, as it does, 
the principal pass, which leads from the plains into the 
upper regions of Macedonia ; it was this which caused it 
to be selected early as the site of Edessa, the original 
capital of Macedonia, before the seat of government was 
removed to Pella by Philip of Macedon. Even after 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. VII. The Ancient Edcssa. 157 

that time it continued to be the national hearth of the 
Macedonian race, and the burial-place of their kings. It 
may in every respect be truly called a magnificent nursery 
for a magnificent kingdom. 

The interior of the place presents few objects of in- 
terest, but in passing through it the eye is everywhere 
refreshed by the abundance of water, which gushes 
forth from walls in unexpected places, and courses at 
will down the middle of the rough pavement of the 
streets. The point where the stream divides at the 
back of the city is the favourite lounge of the wealthier 
citizens, and is admirably adapted for Oriental enjoy- 
ment. Here twelve enormous plane-trees rise together 
in a group, affording a grateful shade, and forming a dim 
twilight of glancing green, while the ear is soothed by the 
murmur of rushing waters. The division of the river 
is said to be of natural formation, but at present its 
appearance is certainly artificial. Its numerous branches, 
together with the cascades below, have given the city its 
Slavonic name of Vodena, or "the place of waters " {voda^ 

Slav, for" water V* 

The valley behind Vodena is green and fertile, and at 
its head the Route Imp^riale, which in this part for some 
little distance is a very fair road, winds up a steep moun- 
tain-side, commanding superb views over the town and 
the wide expanse to the east. We were now leaving 
lower Macedonia, and entering the upper and more 
mountainous districts of that province. At intervals the 
valley opened out into narrow plains, the green vegeta- 
tion of which might at a distance be taken for rich crops, 

*• The ancient name, Edessa, had the same signification, being derived 
from bedu^ the Phrygian word for "water." Similarly the Edessa in 
Mesopotamia is said by Stephanns to have received its name from tlie 
force of its waters. iEgce, also, the earlier name of the Macedonian 
Edessa, perhaps corresponds in meaning to our "springs." 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

158 Salonka to MonasHr. Chap. VII. 

but in reality is nothing but the waving reeds that cover 
undrained morasses. At the sides of the roads are nume- 
rous melon gardens, which, being entirely open, render 
necessary a constant watch. Thus at some conspicuous 
point a shed of branches is raised upon a small platform 
to shelter the guardian of the fruit The weather had 
now cleared up, and was bright and fresh, and in conse- 
quence of the rain, and the wonderful transparency of the 
atmosphere, every leaf on the trees, and every stalk of 
maize, was clearly defined and extraordinarily bright 
From this time until we reached Corfu, though travelling 
in so hilly a country as Albania, we had a continuance of 
almost unbroken sunshine. The upper part of the pass 
was rugged and uncultivated. When we began to descend 
on the other side, we came in sight successively of two 
lakes ; first, the small lake of Gugova, which is situated 
high up a hill-side; and afterwards that of Ostrovo, a 
large sheet of water, which appears ten miles long by two 
broad, running nearly from north to south, and deeply 
imbedded amongst wild and bare mountains, one of 
which, above the head of the lake, was sprinkled with 
snow. This was the peak of Mount Nidjd, the highest 
point in all the district, reaching an elevation of between 
seven and eight thousand feet ; in respect of its position 
also it is important, since the mountain system of these 
parts may be regarded as culminating in it, while to the 
north of it commences the Babuna range, which forms 
the eastern boundary of the plain of Monastir. 

From the village of Ostrovo, which lies on the shore 
near the upper end, the object which most attracts the 
eye is a single mosque with a minaret by its side, which 
rises out of the water at the distance of half a mile. On 
inquiring from the inhabitants the history of this building, 
we found that it is the remains of a submerged town. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. VI I. Lake of Ostrovo. 159 

which formerly extended from this point to the present 
line of the shore. Less than a century ^%o there was no 
lake in this region, and many towns existed in various 
parts of the valley ; but about sixty years from the pre- 
sent time (so we were told) the waters rose and over- 
whelmed all the lower part of the valley; and about 
twenty-five years ^%o there was a further rise, and all but 
a small part of the town of Ostrovo was submerged. 
Again, in 1859, the lake rose several feet, but fortunately 
retired again : the signs of this last inundation are trace- 
able in several places about the head of the lake. The 
explanation of this phenomenon is to be found in the 
formation of the valley, which, like those in the Morea, 
which contain the lakes of Pheneus and Stymphalus, is 
so closely hemmed in by the mountains that it has no 
escape for its waters. No doubt, as in the case of these 
lakes, there is a subterranean channel, by which the 
water was formerly carried off, and discharged in the 
form of a river at a considerable distance, and the lake 
was formed in consequence of the stoppage of the chan- 
nel ; so that at some future time, when the weight of 
water is sufficient to remove the obstruction, the lake 
of Ostrovo may again be replaced by a green valley, and 
its submerged towns may reappear. When I visited the 
lake Stymphalus in the spring of 1853, the waters were 
low, and the cavern, which formed the mouth of the out- 
let, or Catavothra, as it is called (t^ KarafidpaSpOy tearor 
fi&Opa), was visible: the people of these parts did not 
know of the existence of such a place, but of course, 
while the lake is full, it is covered by the water. At 
the same time I should mention that, on bathing near the 
vills^e, we found the water deep close to the shore, and 
that there is reason to believe that a lake, though not 
necessarily of any size, existed here in former times. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

i6o Salonica to Monastir. Chap. VII. 

The name of Ostrovo is in itself an evidence of this, being 
derived from Ostrov, the Slavonic word for "island." 
But it is possible that at one period in the interval the 
lake may have become completely dry.^* 

The phenomena just mentioned seem to have given 
rise to a variety of legends among the ancient Greeks, 
such as that of Alpheius pursuing Arethusa beneath the 
sea, and the reappearance of the latter as a fountain in 
the island of Ortygia at Syracuse. A curious version of 
this legend arose at a later period, after it had been 
modified, apparently, by the pious fancies of Christian 
pilgrims. It is mentioned by Marifiotti, an old Italian 
writer," that the Syracusans of his time gave credit to a 
popular tradition concerning this fountain, that there 
existed a connexion between it and the river Jordan, 
since in autumn the fountain was said to throw up leaves 
of such trees as were known to flourish only on the 
banks of that river. A similar story with regard to the 
Alpheius still exists in the islands of the Strophades, 
which lie off* the west coast of the Morea. In the 
account of those islands, appended to his book on the 
* Condition of the Greek Church,' Dean Waddington 
tells us : " There exists a traditionary circumstance, by 
which it would seem that nature has intended a perpetual 
union between the Strophades and the continent; for 
the monks inform me of faithful records to prove that 
the Alpheius has frequently presented himself at a well 
in this island, and deposited there shrubs, flowers, roots, 
or leaves, which had been confided to him in Elis. The 

^' The MedijEvals seem to have had the idea of there being a catavothra 
from the lake of Ostrovo, but they supp>osed its waters to be carried to 
Vodena. Thus Cedrenus writes (ii. p. 453, ed. Bonn): — **<l>povptop Sh rh 
Bo^T^yA M icirpas kxorSyiOV Ktifi€voyt Si* ^s Karappu rh ttjs Xiixyris rod 
Oarpofiov SSctp 6to yrjs KdrwBfv p4ov iupavas K^LKutrt t6lKiv (nro9v6fifVov,^^ 
" Quoted in Wilkinson's * Magna Gnecia,* p. 15. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. VI L Subterranean Channels. i6i 

monks, who are certainly not very credulous except 
where their superstitions are concerned, are bold enough 
to disbelieve this story; but to me it seems nothing 
improbable that in his subteraqueous journey to visit 
his Arethusa, the old river god should pause at this 
delightful resting-place, and here resign some portion of 
the tribute intended for his Syracusan mistress." ^ The 
ancients had not failed to notice the same phenomenon. 
Thus Pliny, in one of his Letters, speaks of a lake being 
carried off by a river, " but when this has been visible for 
a short time, it disappears in a cavern, and flows at a 
great depth below; and whatever it received before it 
was engulfed is preserved and brought forth again." ^* 
Catullus also has framed a somewhat laboured simile 
out of the disappearance of the water of the lake 
Pheneus, — 

" Twas then, Laodamia, oh most fidr ! 

From thee was torn a husband, prized above 
Thy life and soul ; so wert thou hurried there, 
Upon the whirling torrent of thy love, 

" Into a steep-down gulf, as dark and deep 
As that which erst, in Grecian story &med, 
Where rolls Pheneus by Cyllene's sleep. 
From oozy marsh the fertile soil reclaim'd."" 

In cases where the river reappears at a great distance 
from the lake which supplies it with water, such as the 
instance which Herodotus mentions, of the Erasinus 
in Argolis being connected with the Stymphalian lake,'® 
the real way in which the correspondence is proved is 

** * Waddington, on the Greek Church,' p. 105. 

^* Pliny, viii. 20. 

*7 CatulL, IxviiL 109 (Theodore Martin's translation). Mr. Martin 
reads Peyteus, which does not suit the passage, and the word is pronounced 

»» Herod. vL 76. 


Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

1 62 Salonica to Monastir. Chap. VI L 

by the subsidence of the one coincidmg with the overflow 
of the other.i» 

We rode round the head of the lake, the heavy oppres- 
sive atmosphere of which reminded my companion of that 
of the Dead Sea, and ascended the rough stony heights 
on the other side, leading up to the pass which connects 
this valley with the plain of Monastir. From one point 
we caught a glimpse of another lake to the south ; not,, 
however (as Mr. Lear says, in his 'Journals of a Land- 
scape Painter'), the lake of Castoria, which is hidden 
by intervening mountains, but that of SarigoL At the 
summit of the pass we stopped the night at the village 
of Gumitzovo, the inhabitants of which we at once 
discovered to be Christians by two infallible signs, one 
negative and the other positive — ^the absence of minarets 
and the presence of pigs. These signs have been noticed 
by other travellers. In the Journal of the Patriarck 
Macarius we find the observation, "There is a church 
in the town, and hogs feed at large in the streets,'" 
and Dr. Walsh, in his ' Journey from Constantinople to 
England,' says of a village in Bulgaria, " Its appearance 
at once struck me that I had got into a Christian 
country. In the g^een before the houses was a large 
herd of swine, the first I had seen since my arrival in 
Turkey." In consequence of the pig being in this 
manner a Christian animal, there is a tax on pigs in 
Turkey, and this at the present time is of a very oppres- 
sive character. Up to the year 1858 it was moderate 
enough, but since that date the rate has been ten piastres 

" The numerous words used in Greek to describe this phenomenon 
show how familiar it must have been to the ancients. Thus the subter- 
ranean passage itself was called fidpoBpoy (in Arcadia, {4p§0por), fi6$pos9 
ir6poSy ^€iOpoy bir6yonoy, tlyavKos, l^Kpvtris. The entrance was termed x^M^' 
the exit Upn^is, ixfioKfi, iLyafioX^^ ityaxfyh* See Ulrichs* * Reisen in Griechen- 
land,* p. 223* 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 

Chap. VII. Pigs in Turkey. 163 

(about twenty pence) per head, which is charged when 
the animal is three months* old. The risk incurred from 
the payment of so large a tax on so young an animal is 
so great, that many of them are killed shortly after 
birth, and the decrease in the numbers bred of late years 
has been fully 50 per cent In this way an important 
article of food is being lost to the peasantry, and sub- 
sistence rendered more difficult to them, without any 
corresponding advantage to the exchequer of the 
empire.** The subject population in the country districts 
of all this part of Turkey is composed of Bulgarian 
Christians ; there is also a considerable Turkish popula- 
tion, and the two races are found sometimes, as at 
Ostrovo, living together in the same village, sometimes in 
separate villages. Gumitzovo was sold by the Porte to 
All Pasha, or, more probably, was forcibly seized by 
him, and reduced to the condition of a farm, or peculiar. 
The same thing occurred to a great number of places 
throughout Thessaly and Epirus. On the death of that 
chieftain, and the overthrow of his government, the Porte 
thought fit to retain them as government farms, and in 
addition to this they are taxed most unmercifully. The 
people here complained bitterly of their condition. The 
imperial farms are said to be very badly managed, even 
as regards the land itself; for since the Government is 
unwilling to grant long leases, and the tenure is for the 
most part from year to year, the occupants are naturally 
unwilling to expend their energy or capital upon it, and 
the rental is very small, while the land is exhausted 
without care for the future. 

Owing to the elevation of this place (for it is 2900 feet 
above the sea), the air the next morning was clear and 

» See Farley's 'Turkey,' p. iia 

M 2 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

164 Salonica to Monastir. Chap. VII. 

cold. As we descended, at an hour's distance from the 
village, we reached a ridge, from which we beheld in 
front of us the long plain of Monastir stretching away 
to the north, with the town dimly visible at the foot 
of the mountains on the western side. The outline of 
this chain is flat, so that the view can be called grand 
only from its extent; and the one summit of great 
elevation, which rises above the rest, lies back from the 
plain, and is little seen from its opposite side. This 
is Mount Peristeri, which reaches an elevation somewhat 
higher than that of Mount Nidj4 and overlooks the 
valley behind Monastir. Its name, which signifies " The 
Dove," is an almost singular instance in this part of the 
country of the use of a Greek word to designate one of 
the natural features, the rest being almost universally 
either Turkish, or, as is most commonly the case, Sla- 
vonic. Descending still further, we passed the tomb of 
a Mahometan saint and a Turkish cemetery, while on 
our right the snow-capped ridge of Nidj6 once more 
appeared. Shortly after this we arrived at the pretty 
village of Tulbeli, which is dignified in Greek with the 
name of a K(oyJmdkvi^ or country town, as places of this 
size are called, to distinguish them from an ordinary 
village (x(opiov\ and a town (TroXtre/a).*^ 

From thence we rode over an expanse of loose stones, 
the aspect of which might almost recal the plain of the 
Crau, near Aries, in the south of France, where Jupiter, 
according to the legend, is said to have cast down the 
boulders and pebbles with which it is covered, to provide 
missiles for Hercules in his contest with the Ligurians. 
When at last we reached the plain, our track lay across 
it in an oblique direction towards the city. The small 

** On the scene of Brasidas* retreat from Lyncestis, see Appendix C. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. VII. Approach to Monastir. 165 

streams which we passed were running northwards, for 
the river Czema, the ancient Erigon, by which the plain 
is drained, after flowing from north to south throughout 
the greater part of its course, bends round to the north- 
east, where it reaches the lower end, and passing between 
Mount Nidj6 and the extremity of the Babuna moun- 
tains, descends towards the Vardar, which river it joins 
some way below the city of Kiuprili. As we approached 
Monastir, we once more joined the Route Impirialey on 
which we met numerous passengers — some on foot, others 
mounted on donkeys — as we entered the avenue which 
leads up to the city. Earlier in the year, the road is 
said for a time to be crowded with strings of horses and 
mules, which carry the com that is grown in this upland 
region for exportation to the sea. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

( 166 ) 



Monastir — Its Importance — Massacre of the Albanian Beys — Monastery 
of Bukova — Plain of Monastir — L^end of the Temenicbe — Turkish 
Outrages — The Bulgarians — Their History — Bulgarian Church Move- 
ment — Monastir to Ochrida — Lake of Presba — Lake of Ochrida — 
The City — Ancient Statue and Crucifix — Legend of St Clement — 
Cyril and Methodius — Statues and Pictures. 

Monastir, or, as the Christians call it, Bitolia, which 
is the military centre and most important place in this 
district of Turkey, is situated in an- angle running in 
from the western side of the plain. Its appearance from 
outside is beautiful from the trees, especially the bright 
glistening poplars, which are interspersed among the 
houses, and the numerous minarets and domed mosques, 
the latter of which features we had not seen since leaving 
Cavalla : inside, too, there is a more cleanly and regular 
appearance about the streets than is found in most 
Turkish towns, and there is an unusual air of business, 
and shops of some pretensions. Here, also, one meets 
once more such unwonted sights as cavalry barracks, a 
parade ground, Turkish soldiers, and foreign consuls. 
In the winter there is a force of about 4000 men 
stationed here, but at other times of the year they are 
dispersed about the country. We could not learn that 
any of them had been drawn off to join in the operations 
which were then preparing s^ainst Montenegro ; indeed 
they can hardly be spared, as there is no other military 
force in the country nearer than Salonica on the one side 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. VIIL Monastir. 167 

and Scodra on the other. The military importance of 
Monastir is great from several points of view. In the 
first place it is the meeting-point of several lines of road, 
from Salonica on the iEgean, from Durazzo on the 
Adriatic, and from Uskiub and Adrianople in the in- 
terior. Besides this, it is the most accessible point from 
which an army can penetrate into Albania, and the pas- 
sage into that country which it commands, though diffi- 
cult, is yet considered practicable for artillery. To this 
it must be added, that from here it is possible to act 
independently against Northern and Southern Albania, 
and separate the races which inhabit those countries 
respectively. The population is about 40,000, and is 
principally composed of Turks and Wallachs, the latter 
being the mercantile class, as the Bulgarians are the cul- 
tivators of the soil There are also a few Greeks. 

The parade-ground, which we had seen on entering the 
city, at the end of the avenue by which we approached, 
was in 1830 the scene of an event of considerable import- 
ance in later Turkish history — the massacre of the Alba- 
nian Beys. It was an act of the most scandalous perfidy, 
contrived with the utmost deliberation ; but, since the 
fall of Ali Pasha, no other circumstance has tended so 
much to establish the Ottoman power in these parts, as 
it led to the final overthrow of. the local chieftains in 
Albania. The history of it is as follows. After the con- 
clusion of the Greek War of Independence, the Albanian 
soldiery who had been employed by the Turks in that 
struggle returned to their native country, and there began 
to pillage the villages indiscriminately. When at last 
this state of things became unendurable, the petty chiefs 
combined themselves into a sort of oligarchy for the pur- 
pose of restoring order, the lead being taken amongst 
them by three persons — Seliktar Poda, who commanded 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

1 68 Monastir and Ochrida. Chap. VI I L 

Central Albania, and had gathered round him the re- 
mains of All Pasha's faction — Veli Bey, who held Yanina 
and the rest of Epirus, and concealed his ambitious de- 
signs by pretending to support the reforms introduced 
by the Porte — and Arslan Bey, a noble and dashing 
young officer of twenty-five years of age, who professed 
to represent the national party, and was consequently 
the most popular of the three. In reality, however,, 
another personage of greater importance was behind the 
scenes in this movement, which he was prepared to- 
employ for purposes of his own, in the shape of Mustapha 
Pasha of Scodra, the last of the hereditary Pashas of that 
place, and the most formidable chieftain then remaining 
in Albania, The three leaders just mentioned were at 
first at variance among themselves, and by their rivalry 
paralysed one another's action: when, however, they 
found that the Porte was about to undertake operations 
against them, and the danger became pressing, a confer- 
ence was arranged between Veli and Arslan, at which, 
after a protracted discussion, they gave one another the 
kiss of peace, and then proceeded to proclaim to their 
troops that they had made common cause with a view 
to united action. Meanwhile the Grand Vizir, Reschid 
Pasha, perceivmg that mischief was brewing in Albania,, 
and well aware of the ambitious designs of Mustapha^ 
had assembled a force at Adrianople, with which he 
marched to Monastir. On reaching that place, when 
he received intelligence of the reconciliation of the two 
chiefs, he conducted himself as if compelled to change his 
plan of action, and after proclaiming a general amnesty, 
invited all the Albanian Beys to a grand banquet at Mo- 
nastir, to celebrate the re-establishment of friendly rela- 
tions with the central government The invitation was 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. VIII. Massacre of tlie Beys, 169 

ax:cepted, and the Beys presented themselves, to the num- 
ber of four or five hundred, headed by Arslan and Veil. 

But the proposed meeting was only a device to conceal 
an act of the basest treachery. On their first arrival the 
Vizir received them with great affability and kindness, 
and encouraged them with the most specious promises. " 
But when, at the time appointed for the banquet, 
they approached the rendezvous, which was the parade- 
ground already mentioned, they were dismayed to find a 
thousand regular troops drawn up on two sides of a 
square, the one along their route, the other facing them. 
On seeing this, Arslan Bey exclaimed to Veli, "We have 
eaten dirt;" to which the other replied, "This is the 
regular way of doing honour." Immediately after, a 
fatal volley poured in amongst the Albanians, followed 
by a charge with the bayonet. Veli Bey instantly fell, 
but Arslan and others survived, and were wheeling off to 
the right, when the volley and charge of the second 
Turkish line took them in flank. From this Arslan alone 
escaped, and was soon at a distance from the bloody 
scene. But his flight had been observed, and Khior 
Ibrahim Pasha, one of the Grand Vizir's subordinates, 
immediately mounted a swift horse and gave chase. At 
the end of three miles he came up with him, when Arslan 
turned suddenly round, and, facing his opponent, dis- 
charged his pistol at him, which brought down his horse. 
But Ibrahim had already placed his lance in rest, and, as 
he fell, he ran Arslan Bey through and through. The 
scalps of the Beys were salted, and conveyed to Constan- 

The effect of this disgraceful massacre was to leave 
only two powers in Albania capable of making any resist- 
ance. The one was Seliktar Poda in the south, who had 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

I/O Monastir and Ockrida. Chap. VIII. 

made himself master of Yanina in the interval ; but when 
a force of i6,cxx) men was sent against him, he was forced 
to fly, and the whole of Epirus fell into the hands of the 
conquerors. The other was Mustapha Pasha, a more 
formidable opponent His resistance was of a serious 
character, and had he known how to profit by his oppor- 
tunities, he might have taken Reschid unprepared at 
Monastir, where he was accompanied by only a small 
body of troops. As it was, he gave that wily general 
time to enlist the Christians in his service, by holding out 
to them an opportunity of taking vengeance on their 
hereditary enemies, the Albanians ; and to win the sup- 
port of the Mahometan chiefs in Macedonia, by showing 
to them that the dismemberment of the empire would 
lead to their subjugation to Russia. The decisive struggle 
took place near Perlepe, where, after a hard fight, the 
Albanians were defeated. Mustapha Pasha was forced to 
retire to Scodra, where he was besieged in the fortress of 
Rosapha, and ultimately compelled to surrender.^ 

By the kindness of our consul, Mr. Charles Calvert, 
we were invited to pass the night at the little monastery 
of Bukova, or " The Beeches," which nestles in the moun- 
tain-side, at a height of several hundred feet above the 
town, and in which he had taken refuge from the intense 
heat of the summer. As we were riding out we met 
some of the Pasha's hawks, which were being brought 
home by mounted attendants from a hawking expedi- 
tion ; for that amusement is still a favourite one in these 
parts. The plain, which is forty miles in length by ten 
in breadth, is a wonderful sight as seen from the monas- 
tery ; it is extremely fertile, though at the end of August 
it was brown, from the crops having been removed. All 

* Cyprien Robert, *Les Slaves de Turquie,'iL pp. 197-212; Urquhart, 
' Spirit of the East,* i. pp. 3o8-3ia 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. VIII. Plain of Monastir. 171 

down the centre runs a long line of green, caused by the 
marshes which form along the banks of the river Czerna, 
the ground near which has never been drained ; and in 
various parts lie 170 villages, the inhabitants of which are 
partly small cultivators, partly peasants employed by the 
large proprietors. The whole plain is environed by fine 
mountains: directly opposite, to the east, is the long 
Babuna chain, which, though not seen in its full propor- 
tions, on account of the elevation of the plain, presents 
a picturesque and broken outline: but the most con- 
spicuous of all are the distant snow-capped heights of 
Kritchova to the north-east Close to the foot of these^ 
in another plain, lies the town of Perlepe, where a great 
fair for the whole of this territory and Albania is held 
once a year in the month of August. Traders resort to 
it from all parts of the country, and the retail dealers 
depend on it in great measure for their supply. A 
great quantity of merchandize is brought overland from 
Vienna ; but this year, in consequence of the financial 
and commercial crisis throughout the Levant, hardly any 
business was done. This part of the country appears to 
be a great mart for Austrian wares ; whereas in southern 
and part of central Albania the goods are, or were, 
almost entirely from England, being introduced by way 
of Corfu : this was one considerable advantage which this 
country used to derive from the possession of that island. 
The plain of Monastir, in consequence of its position, 
being removed from the sea, and 1 500 feet above it, and 
surrounded by high, mountains, is exposed to great and 
sudden changes of temperature; in summer the glass 
frequently standing at 104 in the shade, while in the 
winter for two months the ground is thickly covered with 
snow. It is the natural consequence of this that, as at 
Madrid, which is in a similar position, diseases of the 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

1/2 Monastir and Ochrida. Chap. VIII, 

chest are very common ; and furs are much worn at all 
times of the year, from the danger of sudden chills. 

The district, comprising this plain and that of Perlepe, 
was called in ancient times Pelagonia, and this name 
is still used to designate the bishopric of Bitolia.* The 
site of Monastir itself was probably occupied by Hera- 
clea, which was one of the principal cities on the line 
of the Egnatian Way. The Pelagonian plain was one of 
the primitive seats of the Macedonian race, and, as Mr. 
Grote has remarked,' formed a territory better calculated 
to nourish and to generate a considerable population, 
than the less favoured home, and smaller breadth of 
valley and plain, occupied by Epirots or lUyrians. In 
this way a hardy yet thriving race was developed which 
had in it the germs of a great nation. In the same dis- 
trict is laid the scene of the story which Herodotus has 
given of the foundation of the Macedonian monarchy, 
and which, from its quaint and graphic character, deserves 
to be introduced here. How far it contains historical 
elements, we cannot say;* but, as it stands, it bears a 
singular resemblance to those Popular Tales which since 
Grimm^s time have been recognised as the heritage of 
the peasantry in every country of Europe. The three 
brothers, the youngest of whom is the wisest and the 

' The derivation of the modem name Bitolia is doubtful. Bou^ suggests 
that it is derived from the Albanian word viitolja^ a **dove," as the place- 
was inhabited by the Skipetars before the Slaves. This he would connect 
with the corresponding name of Peristeri, given to the moimtain which 
rises above ('Recueil d'ltin^raires,' i. p. 257). Von Hahn, however, 
prefers to derive it from the Slavonic obitavati^ **to inhabit," and con- 
siders it a translation of the name Monastir. This latter name originated in 
the monastery of Bukova itself (Hahn, * Reise von Belgrad nach Salonik,* 

p. 115). 

■ * History of Greece,* iv. p. 15. 

* The historical side of the story is well given by Von Gutschmid, in the 
' Symbola Philologorum Bonnensium.' 

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Chap. VIII. Legend of the Temenida. 173 

most successful — the enigfmatical conversation about the 
sunshine — the sudden swelling of the river to save 
the fugitives — are all features commonly found in this 
class of stories ; in addition to which the general cast of 
the narrative is such as cannot fail to suggest a close 
resemblance to the Popular Tales to one accustomed 
to study this branch of literature. So that we need have 
no hesitation in finding a relationship between it and 
* Cinderella,' * The Sleeping Beauty/ ' Jack and the Bean- 
stalk/ and the innumerable other stories which a careful 
search is continually bringing to light. 

" Three brothers, descendants of Temenus, fled from Argos to the 
lUyrians; their names were Gauanes, Aeropus, and Perdicoas. From 
lUyria they went across to Upper Macedonia, where they came to a 
certain town called Lebsea. There they hired themselves out to serve 
the king, in different employs. One tended the horses ; another looked 
after the cows ; while Perdiccas, who was the youngest, took charge of 
the smaller cattle. In those early times poverty was not confined to the 
people ; kings themselves were poor, and so here it was the king's wife who 
cooked the victuals. Now, whenever she baked the bread, she always 
observed that the loaf of the labouring boy Perdiccas swelled to double 
its natural aze. So the queen, finding this never fiul, spoke of it to her 
husband. Directly that it came to his ears, the thought struck him 
that it was a miracle, and boded something of no small moment He 
therefore sent for the three labourers, and told them to be gone out of 
his dominions. They answered, * They had a right to their wages ; if he 
would pay them what was due, they were quite willing to go.' Now 
It happened that the sun was shining down the chimney into the room 
where they were ; and the king, hearing them talk of wages, lost his 
wits, and said, * There are the wages which you deserve ; take that — 
I give it you!' and pointed, as he spoke, to the sunshine. The two 
elder brothers, Gauanes and Aeropus, stood aghast at the reply, and 
did nothing ; but the boy, who had a knife in his hand, made a mark 
Avith it round the sunshine on the floor of the room, and said, ' O king! 
we accept thy payment' Then he received the light of the sun three 
times into his bosom, and so went away, and his brothers went with 

" When they were gone, one of those who sat by told the king what 
the youngest of the three had done, and hinted that he must have had 

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1 74 MonasHr and Ochrida, Chap. VI 1 1. 

some meaning in accepting the wages given. Then the king, when he 
heard what had happened, was angry, and sent horsemen after the 
youths to slay thenu Now there is a river in Macedonia to which 
the descendants of the Argives offer sacrifice as their saviour. This 
stream swelled so much, as soon as the sons of Temenus were safe 
across, that the horsemen found it impossible to follow. So the 
brothers escaped into another part of Macedonia, and took up then- 
abode near the place called *• the Gardens of Midas, son of Gordias.' 
In these gardens there are roses which grow of themselves, so sweet 
that no others can come near them, and with blossoms that have as 
many as sixty petals apiece. It was here, according to the Macedonians* 
that Silenus was made a prisoner. Above the gardens stands a moun-> 
tain called Bermius, which is so cold that none can reach the top. Here 
the brothers made their abode, and from this place, by degrees, they 
conquered all Macedonia.** ^ 

We soon discovered that the monastery at which we 
were staying, though built in many respects like the 
smaller Greek monasteries, was such only in name. It 
has, it is true, a central church, and a warden and one 
monk to perform the services ; but the buildings round 
the court are intended, not for monastic cells, but for 
places of meeting for the members of diflferent guilds of 
tradesmen in Monastir, who come here to hear service, 
and afterwards to feast and make merry, on the festival 
days of their patron saints. The great monastery of St 
Naum, near the southern end of the lake of Ochrida, is a 
similar institution. These guilds, which are found among 
the Christians in many of the cities of Turkey, and are 
governed by statutes of their own, and presided over by 
a judge elected by the body, correspond very closely to 
our corporations of the Middle Ages. We were lodged 
in a room belonging to the Worshipful Company of 

• * Herod.,' viii. 137-138 (Rawlinson's translation). The gardens here 
spoken of are the rich and fertile district in the neighbourhood of Verria 
(Berrhcea), to the south of Vodena. What is said of the roses reminds us 
of the name of that flower in modem Greek, triantaphyllon^ or ** the flower 
of thirty petals." 

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Chap. VIII. Turkish Outrages. i/S 

Greengrocers. The sitting-room occupied by Mr. Calvert 
and his wife was formed by an angle of the wide open 
gallery which here runs round the building, and was 
screened from the sun by a canvas covering extended 
from the wall to the balustrade of the gallery. The 
history of the old warden was a very sad one : he was in 
the last stage of a decline, brought on by a melancholy 
of several years* standing, in consequence of the death of 
his brother, who was wantonly murdered by a Turk, in 
the open streets, by his side. The murderer, after a few 
months' imprisonment at Constantinople, again walks 
the streets of Monastir, and from time to time comes to 
the monastery with others to levy black mail, and reqiiire 
entertainment from the brother of his victim. But these 
things are of common occurrence. It was revolting to 
hear, from the best authority, of the outrages which the 
Christians in these parts are continually suffering at the 
hands of the Turks. Besides the extortion carried on by 
government agents in the collection of the taxes, murders, 
assaults, robberies, and pillage, are constantly happening. 
The Turks have no occupation, either agricultural or 
mechanical; they support themselves by stealing from 
their neighbours. One seeming improvement has been 
introduced of late years, in the taxes not being farmed ; 
but the unscrupulousness and cupidity of the collectors 
remain the same. The people, in consequence of this, 
are afraid to show any outward signs of prosperity lest 
they should be despoiled. And so great is the fanaticism 
of the Mahometans, that until a very few years ago no 
Christian woman, not even a Frank lady, was allowed to 
appear in the streets unveiled. The wife of the Austrian 
consul, who was the first representative of Western 
Europe that appeared here, was for some time obliged to 
wear a veil. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

176 Monastir and Ochrida. Chap. VIII. 

One story that we heard at this time, which was well 
authenticated, is a remarkable instance of retribution- 
In the neighbourhood of Elbassan, in Central Albania, 
where the dearth had lately been so great as almost to 
amount to a famine, a young Mahometan, who was 
reduced to excess of want, went out foraging by night. 
He met a man driving a mule laden with sacks, and 
having shot him, according to the custom of the country, 
brought home his store of grain. The next night he 
went off to get it ground, and his father, desiring to 
emulate his son's success, started also to try his hand on 
a similar exploit He also shot his man, and brought 
home the captured sacks. On examining them, he found 
that they were his own, and that the victim was his son. 

The Bulgarians, who form the largest element in the 
Christian population from Salonica to the confines of 
Albania, are a very interesting people, and are highly 
spoken of for industry and honesty. They are the most 
numerous of all the nationalities inhabiting European 
Turkey, and are estimated at between five and six mil- 
lions. There can be no doubt that the original Bul- 
garians were of Turanian descent, and near relations, if 
not actual descendants, of Attila's Huns ; but after their 
settlement in Bulgaria Proper, on the Danube, they be- 
came so intermingled with the Slavonian inhabitants of 
that country that they adopted their language. A large 
number of them seem to have emigrated into Western 
Macedonia before the ninth century, and there, in all 
probability, received a further infusion of Slavonic blood. 
The traces of this are very evident in the present appear- 
ance of the people ; for the Tartar type of face, which 
generally is remarkable for its permanence, has here for 
the most part disappeared. Notwithstanding this, you 
will not often find a people with such well-marked 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. VIII. The Bulgarians. I Tj 

characteristics. They have straight noses, high cheek- 
bones, flat cheeks, and very commonly light eyes ; their 
complexions are frequently almost swarthy from expo- 
sure to the sun, but the children are generally fair. The 
dress of the women is peculiar ; the principal garment is 
a long coat, open in front, reaching nearly to the feet ; 
besides this and an under garment, there is a broad belt, 
elaborately embroidered, and an apron of bright colours ; 
they wear a veil, somewhat resembling the Turkish 
yashmaki but not so closely drawn. The national instru- 
ment is a small flute, the Arcadian sound of which may 
sometimes be heard in the wild unfrequented valleys. 

At an early period of Byzantine history this people 
was one of the most dreaded foes of the Greek empire. 
They first appeared on the further side of the Danube at 
the end of the fifth century, and not long after this their 
invasions commenced. Two centuries and a half later, 
m the time of the Iconoclastic emperors, we find their 
power so greatly increased that it required all the energy 
and military talents of Constantine Copronymus (A.D. 
757) to keep them at bay, and on one occasion they 
carried their ravages up to the walls of Constantinople. 
As might be expected from a rude and needy people 
settled in the neighbourhood of an old civilization, their 
inroads were continually renewed, and from these they 
usually returned home laden with plunder. In the 
beginning of the ninth century their king, Crumn,.was an 
able and warlike leader. After a protracted struggle 
with the emperor Nicephorus I., he defeated and slew 
that prince, who had invaded his territory, in a night 
attack on his camp, and converted his skull into a 
drinking-cup for his table. Until the end of his life 
Crumn was continually at war with the two succeeding 
emperors, and proved a terrible scourge to the provinces 

VOL. I. N 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

1 78 Monastir and Oehrida. Chap. VI 1 1. 

of Thrace and Macedonia, from the merciless way in 
which he ravaged the country, sacked the cities, and 
carried away the inhabitants into captivity. He seems, 
however, to have exhausted his own people in these 
wars, for after his death they remained tranquil for some 
time. The next occasion on which we hear of them was 
one of considerable importance. In the year 861 the 
country on the southern side of the Balkan range was 
ceded to them, and received from them the name of 
Zagora. At the same time the Bulgarian monarch 
Bogoris embraced Christianity, which had been intro- 
duced into his palace by his sister, who had been carried 
as a prisoner to Constantinople and educated there, and 
had afterwards been restored to her native country. At 
his baptism the Emperor Michael became his sponsor, 
and it was pretended that the cession of territory had 
been made as a baptismal donation. By the influence of 
Bogoris, who was a wise and beneficent prince, his entire 
people was converted to Christianity and advanced in 
civilization. He ultimately resigned his kingdom to his 
son Simeon, and retired into a monastery, where he 

The Bulgarians had now become a commercial nation, 
and were the most advanced in the arts of life of all the 
northern barbarians. Placed as they were between the 
Byzantine empire and the German and Scandinavian 
tribes, they became the medium for supplying the latter 
with the manufactures and gold of the former, and with 
the products of Asia. The trade thus caused was a 
source of great profit to them, but also involved them in 
war with Constantinople. Thus the peace which had 
been concluded with Bogoris was brought to an end, 
during the reign of his son, by the rapacity of the Greeks, 
who farmed the customs of the empire, and in so doing 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. VIII. Bulgarian History. 179 

seriously interfered with the traders. In the wars that 
succeeded, Simeon inflicted the greatest injury on his 
opponents, destroying the fruit trees and burning the 
houses of the peasantry, and treating his captives with 
merciless cruelty. When peace was re-established (A.D. 
923), the treaty was made under the very walls of Con- 
stantinople, on which occasion the Greeks were astonished 
at the splendid array of the body-guard of the Bulgarian 
monarch, and their steady discipline. One of the stipu- 
lations of this treaty is of great ecclesiastical importance, 
viz., that it required the public acknowledgment of the 
independence of the Bulgarian Church, and the official 
recognition of the Archbishop of Dorostylon as Patriarch 
of Bulgaria, both by the Emperor and the Patriarch of 
Constantinople. In the reign of Nicephorus Phocas the 
Russians, who had not long before appeared on the scene 
of action, were invited by the Greeks to invade Bulgaria ; 
this they did in the year 968, under the command of 
their chief Swatoslaf, and so effectually crushed the 
Bulgarians that the emperor was obliged himself to come 
to the aid of that people, in order to save his own ter- 
ritory from falling a prey to the new comers. When, at 
last, the Russians were finally defeated and expelled by 
the skill and military tactics of John Zimisces, the Bul- 
garians for a time became subject to the Eastern 

It was shortly after this, however, that their period of 
greatest glory commenced. Towards the end of the 
tenth century, while the Byzantine authorities were occu- 
pied with a rebellion at home, their chief, Samuel, a man 
of great vigour and ability, proclaimed himself king, and 
not only recovered the dominions of his predecessors, but 
extended his conquests over Macedonia and Thessaly, 
and made plundering excursions into Greece and the 

N 2 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

1 80 Mcnastir and Ochrida, Chap. VI I r, 

Peloponnese. Finding that the plains of Bulgaria were 
unfavourable to him as a scene of war, on account of the 
superior discipline of the Imperial forces, he transferred 
his seat of government to Achrida (now Ochrida), on the 
lake of the same name, in the midst of the mountains to 
the west of Monastir ; at the same time he transferred 
thither the Bulgarian patriarchate, and from thenceforth 
that place became the capital, and the focus of their na- 
tional associations. Before long the wisdom of his choice 
was shown, for he made himself master of all the country 
which now forms the centre of European Turkey, reach- 
ing from the iEgean to the Adriatic, and commanding 
the principal lines of communication, so that his domi- 
nions became as extensive as the European portion of 
the Byzantine empire. The rise of this new kingdom, 
however," coincided with the culminating period of By- 
zantine greatness, and Samuel found a worthy: rival in 
Basil II., who from his. subsequent victories obtained the 
title of " Slayer of the Bulgarians." In the year 1002 
this emperor defeated the Bulgarian king under the walls 
of Scopia (Uskiub), on the Vardar, when he was returning 
from a successful inroad into the heart of Thrace. Again 
in 1 014, in a battle that took place in the upper valley of 
the Strymon, by means of a manoeuvre which enabled 
him to attack his enemy at once in front and in the rear,. 
Basil inflicted a crushing blow on the Bulgarians ; and 
when that prince, with frightful inhumanity, blinded all 
his prisoners, and sent them home in that condition,. 
Samuel was so horrified at the sight that he died of rage 
and grief two days afterwards. Within four years from 
this time the Bulgarian power was at an end, and the 
whole people had submitted to the dominion of the Greek 
empire. Once again they rose to importance, when, at 
the end of the twelfth century, they joined with the Wal- 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. VIII. Church Mavetnent i8i 

lachs in establishing what was called the Bulgaro-Walla- 
-chian kingdom ; but as this event more properly belongs 
to Wallachian history, we will defer speaking of it until 
we have an opportunity of giving an account of that 
people. After the Turkish conquest the Bulgarians do 
not reappear as a nation ; they became the agricultural 
population of a large part of Turkey, and have borne 
their hard lot with passive resigjnation. Though endowed 
with a stubborn nature, they have shown themselves too 
unimpressible to take part in any of the movements which 
have affected the Turkish empire.* 

It may be well here to add a few words as to the recent 
movement in the Bulgarian Church. It will be remem- 
bered that in the spring of 1861 we received accounts of 
an agitation on the part of that church to free themselves 
from the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Constantinople, 
and that some of the leaders in that movement seceded 
to the Church of Rome, while others tried to fraternize 
with various Protestant bodies. The explanation of their 
hatred of what they call " Fanariote influence," which at 
Constantinople was generally ascribed to political causes, 
we easily discovered in the country itself. It has all 
along been the policy of the Greeks to keep the Bulgarian 
Church in subjection, so that traces of an antagonism to 
their ecclesiastical rule may be found as early as the 
tenth century ;^ and in this they have in later times been 
supported by the Turks, whose aim it has been to use 
the Greek Church as an instrument for keeping in order 
the other subject races. In consequence of this, Greek 
bishops have been appointed to Bulgarian dioceses ; many 
of the priests also are Greeks, and the Greek language, of 

> ThunmanOy ' Untersuchungen/ p. 275, foil.; Finlay, 'Byzantine 

7 Ibid., vu p. 81. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

i82 Monastir and Ochrida. Chap. VIII- 

which the people do not understand a word, has been, 
until lately, universally in use in the services. I know of 
one instance (I dare say it is not an uncommon one) 
where even the priest, a Bulgarian, did not know a word 
of Greek, and had only learnt to read the Greek letters, 
so that he recited the service without knowing the mean- 
ing of the words. In a few places, as, for instance, in the 
neighbourhood of Ochrida, permission has been givea 
within the last few years to introduce the Slavonic tongue, 
probably in consequence of considerable pressure ; but 
these are quite exceptions. During the summer of 1861 
a pamphlet of some learning, though tediously prolix, 
was put out by the Secretary of the Constantinopolitan 
Synod, to review the history of the Bulgarians in their 
relation to the Greek Church, and to show the ground- 
lessness of their pretensions and complaints. The writer 
urges that the Bulgarians form but a small part of the 
population of Western Macedonia ; he says that many of 
the people are only Greeks who speak Bulgarian (TpalKol 
Bov\yapo<f>a)vovvTe;) ; and even goes so far as to assert 
that the physical appearance and customs of the Bul- 
garians in these parts show them to be originally Greek, 
and not Bulgarian — all which statements can be contra- 
dicted by one who has travelled in the country. He 
comments severely on the theories of M. Fallmerayer 
(6 Tepfiavo^ ^aXfiepadepos:), who maintains, somewhat 
paradoxically, that there is no Greek blood in the veins 
of the modem Greeks ; he inveighs against the presump- 
tion of those who would drive out from this country th^ 
language of Homer, Demosthenes, and Plato, yea, of the 
Gospel — the language of civilization, "which not only 
teaches forms of speech, but also enlightens the mind, 
and moulds the affections, and informs the will:" and 
then, addressing himself to the Wallachians and other 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. VIII. Monastir to Ochrida. 183 

inhabitants of the district, with a view, apparently, to 
" divide and conquer," he warns them that the Bulgarians 
are endeavouring to get the ecclesiastical superiority over 
them, and that by submitting they will bring about their 
Bulgarisation {rijv ixfiovXr/dpcDai^v iaur&v). Moreover, he 
tells the Bulgfarians that it is unreasonable for them to 
desire bishops of their own race, because distinctions of 
race have been destroyed by the Gospel: they ought 
only to ask for men who can speak Slavonic, and this, he 
says, all their bishops can do ; and so far are the bishops 
from trying to Hellenize others, that they become de- 
nationalized and Bulgarized themselves. Some of these 
arguments it is impossible to read without a smile. But 
the real cause of all this indignation is the desire which 
the Bulgarians have expressed to be free from the Pa- 
triarch of Constantinople, and their claim to have a 
Patriarch of their own, as they had until less than a cen- 
tury ago. For a time the movement is brought to a 
standstill : it is to be hoped, however, that if it does not 
ultimately bring about the independence of the Bulgarian 
Church, it will at all events remove many of the abuses 
by which it is now afflicted. Most of those persons who 
joined the Church of Rome have already returned, since 
they found how galling a yoke the Pope would lay upon 
them. But it is striking to see in this instance, as in 
others with which we are more familiar, the attraction 
exercised by a great name and a central idea. 

In going from Monastir to Ochrida two passes have 
successively to be crossed, between which a broad and 
deep valley intervenes. The first of these is through the 
mountains which rise directly behind Monastir, and 
among which the lofty peak of Peristeri is the most con- 
spicuous object As we emerged from the town in this 
direction, we passed through a cemetery, and, on reaching 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

1 84 Monastir and Ochrida, Chap. VII L 

the open country, found ourselves on the right bank of the 
Dragor, a tributary of the Czema, which flows through 
the place. On our way, as we followed this stream up- 
wards, we met a number of horses bearing charcoal and 
skins, the produce of the country, to the town. For some 
distance the mountain-sides were dotted with villages, but 
in the upper regions the country was barren and unin- 
teresting, though the slopes in the neighbourhood of our 
track were covered with ferns. The summit reaches the 
height of about 3000 feet above the sea. Descending on 
the other side into the valley-plain of Presba, we stopped 
a short time, during the heat of the day, at the village of 
Resna ; and then again ascended the second mountain 
chain by a steep winding path amid the bright foliage 
of dwarf oaks andbeeches, with striking views of the Lake 
of Presba at the southern end of the plain, encased on 
three sides by finely-broken mountains, which loomed 
dimly forth through the warm haze. The Bulgarian pea- 
sants who accompanied our horses called this piece of 
water Edero, that is jezero^ the Slavonic word for " lake." 
As seen from this point, Mount Peristeri is a magnificent 
object, as its grey peak towers far above everything else, 
rising on the southern side of the heights we had just 
been crossing. 

The reader will have already discovered what is the 
general conformation of the country in this part of 
Turkey — high parallel mountain chains running from 
north to south, and separated from one another here and 
there by fertile plains, or lakes of considerable size, such 
as those of Ostrovo, Presba, and Ochrida. The mountains 
which we are now ascending form the central ridge, and 
are a northerly continuation of the Pindus range, which 
divides Thessaly from South Albania. Their ancient 
name was Scardus. Many of the trees were cut down in 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. VIII. Lake of Ochrida. 185 

this part, and thin wreaths of smoke curiing up from 
among the dense woods served to show that charcoal 
burning was going on. When we reached the summit of 
the pass, the elevation of which is nearly the same as 
that of the former one,® we rode for some time through 
upland glades and pastures, meeting no living creatures 
except a few magnificent shaggy shepherd's dogs, who 
did their best to oppose our passage; and then, after 
descending for half an hour, came in sight of the Lake of 
Ochrida, the largest of the lakes of Greece and Turkey. 
It lay far below us, a broad expanse of calm water, 
reaching far away to the south; its western shore was 
bounded by fine mountains, three ranges of which could 
be seen rising one behind the other ; at its northern end, 
over which we were Ipoking, was an alluvial plain ; and 
rising out of this, and projecting into the lake, a rocky 
height, on which stands the old town and castle of 
Ochrida, while the new town nestles close at its foot. 
The descent of the mountain on this side is long and 
steep, and night was beginning to close in before we 
reached the plain ; but our baggage-horse and dragoman 
were far behind ; so, after waiting in vain for an hour, 
and fearing that they might have taken some other path, 
we stumbled on through pitchy darkness in the direction 
of the city. When we reached it, it was silent as the 
grave, and we made our way through one long wet 
street until we met a Turkish guard, who directed us to 
a khan. Fortunately for us, the Bulgarian khanji could 
speak a little Greek, for Greek holds the same position 
in all these parts that French does in Western Europe, 
being the language of travellers and communication. 
Stepping over the bodies of prostrate muleteers, we 

' Bou^, 'Recueil d'ltin^raires,* L pp. 261-2. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

i86 Monastir and Ochrida. Chap. VIIL 

were conducted to a filthy room, furnished, as usual, 
with two rush mats, on which, however, we were soon 
fast asleep. Of the rest of our party we heard nothing 
till the following morning, when our dragoman appeared, 
having gone the round of the khans of the town in 
search of us. As we suspected, they had lost their way 
in the dusk of the evening, and when at last they reached 
the town, had found their way to another and somewhat 
superior place of entertainment, to which we afterwards 

The name of Ochrida, or, as it was formerly called, 
Achrida, is derived, not as some writers have said, from 
the Greek aKpo^, as being built on a height, but from the 
Slavonic ahavy " a court," since it was once the residence 
of the Bulgarian monarchs. The city is said to contain 
some 15,000 inhabitants, the Mahometans and Christians 
being about in equal numbers. The Mahometans are 
mostly Albanian, of the Gheg tribe; for though the 
name Turk is often heard throughout Albania, it only 
means Mahometan ; with the exception of the pashas 
and a few officials, hardly any Ottomans are found west- 
ward of this point. The Christians are Bulgarians, and 
these too cease with the mountains which bound the 
lake on the west. The lake, which was the Lacus 
Lychnitis of classical times, may be said to form the 
division between Western Macedonia and Central Al- 
bania. In a geographical point of view, indeed, the 
Scardus might more accurately be regarded as the 
boundary, but the Slavonic population in this part over- 
runs its natural limit. 

In the morning we went up into the upper city, which 
is inhabited by Christians, to see the metropolitan church, 
which we found to be situated within the precincts of the 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. VIII. Statue and Crucifix. 1 87 

Archbishop's palace. (One of the early Archbishops' of 
Achrida was Theophylact, the author of the commen- 
tary.) As I was looking about for some one to get me 
the key, a person, whom I afterwards found to be the 
Archbishop's secretary, beckoned me to come into his 
room, where he seated me by a window commanding 
a superb view over the lake, until he had disposed of a 
number of judicial cases which he was engaged in trying. 
The Archbishop himself was absent, which is not un- 
frequently the case with these dignitaries. When these 
were finished, he conversed with me for some time in 
Greek, and during the conversation surprised me not 
a little by asking, "Is your honour a Christian?" On 
my answering in the affirmative, he entered on a 
detailed account of the sufferings of the Christians, 
which seemed to be caused in no slight degree by the 
unsettled state of the country, as they could not venture 
two miles outside the city without the danger of being 
pillaged. After this he showed us over the church, a 
Byzantine edifice of some antiquity, unpretending in its 
architecture, but containing some objects of singular 
curiosity. On passing behind the Iconostase, or altar- 
screen, I observed in a niche a wooden statue of St. 
Clement of Rome, to whom the church is dedicated; 
and as if to distinguish the saint from St. Clement of 
Ochrida, there is a picture behind the altar, with the 
inscription, "Saint Clement, Pope of Rome" (6 07109 
KX17/LW79 na7ra9 V<i>fj/qi). Besides this, there was lying in 
one part a large wooden crucifix, the figure of Our Lord 
being in low relief, and the workmanship and ornaments 
Byzantine. I was quite taken aback by seeing these 
objects, never having met with anything of the kind in a 
Greek church before, except a small figure in ivory 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

1 88 Monastir and Ochrida. Chap. VIII. 

affixed to the valuable cross which I have described as 
being preserved at the monastery of Xeropotamu on 
Mount Athos, and a reputed gift of the Empress Pul- 
cheria. I asked the secretary and the priest, who ac- 
companied us, whether they were in accordance with 
their rites ? " No," they replied ; " such things were 
nowhere allowed by the orthodox communion." " Then 
how did they come there?" They did not know; only 
they had been there from very ancient times ; they had 
no idea that they came from abroad. Since that time 
I have searched in vain for any trace in history of lasting 
Roman Catholic influence in these parts. At the time 
of the Fourth Crusade, when the Latins occupied Con- 
stantinople, a Roman Catholic bishopric was established 
for a time at Castoria, between this and Salonica ; and 
in northern Albania most of the Christians are Roman 
Catholics : the Normans also passed by this place on more 
than one occasion, when on their way from Durazzo to 
attack the Eastern empire : but the Byzantine workman- 
ship of the crucifix, and the fact that these objects have 
been spared at all, point to a friendly and permanent 
influence ; and of such an influence of the Church of 
Rome on the Bulgarians of these parts I can discover no 
sign. It seems more probable that they have come 
down from a still earlier period, not much later than the 
original conversion of the Bulgarian nation by Methodius, 
who together with his brother Cyril evangelized the 
Slavonians in the ninth century : and their story in con- 
nexion with St. Clement and with these parts is so 
interesting, that I am tempted for a moment to refer to 
it. I may mention, in passing, that there does not exist 
in English, as far as I am aware, any sufficient account 
of this episode in ecclesiastical history, though it has 

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Chap. VIII. Legend of St. Clement 1 89 

been carefully treated in German by Dobrowsky ;• and 
the various legends about it, — Greek, Latin, Moravian, 
and Bulgarian, — are so curious, that it would be a most 
interesting subject for a monograph from an experienced 

It appears that Cyril was first sent from Constanti- 
nople as a missionary to the Chazars, a tribe inhabiting 
the neighbourhood of Cherson, at the mouth of the 
Dneiper. Here it was revealed to him that he should 
recover the body of St Clement of Rome, who, according 
to the story given in the 'Clementine Epitome,' had 
been banished to this place by Trajan, and, in con- 
sequence of the numerous conversions which he made, 
had been thrown into the sea by the heathen, with an 
anchor round his neck.^® After praying and fasting, 
Cyril was enabled to go down into the sea, which retired 
before him, and brought up the body, which had been 
preserved entire in a submarine tomb: the head was 
sent at a later period to Kieff, in Russia, where we are 
told that in the year 11 46 it was placed on the head 
of the Metropolitan of Russia as a form of consecration," 

» *Cyrill und Methodius,* Prag., 1823; and 'Mahrische Lcgende,* 
Prag., 1826. These works are to be found in the * Abhandlungen * of the 
Bohemian * Gcsellschaft der Wissenschaften,* vols. viii. and i. {netu folge) 

'• The legend of St. Clement has an especial interest at the present time, 
because, in the excavations which have been lately made underneath the 
ancient church of San Clemente, at Rome, a still older church has been 
discovered, the walls of which are covered with frescoes, representing the 
circumstances connected with his death. It is on account of the "sea- 
change into something rich and strange ** which the martyr's memory has 
passed through, that he was adopted as the representative of the Sea-Kings, 
and hence became the patron saint of Denmark and Norway. 

** Stredowsky, 'Sacra Moravioe Historia.* There is something very 
striking in the partition of the relics of this ancient saint between the 
Eastern and Western Churches, just at the time of the Great Schism. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

190 Monastir and Ochrida. Chap. VIII. 

while the rest of the body, together with the anchor and 
chain, was conveyed by Cyril to Constantinople. In the 
meanwhile his brother Methodius," a monk and painter, 
had been converting the Bulgarians ; and not long after, 
the two set out on a mission to the Moravians and 
Bohemians, carrying with them St Clement's remains ; 
on which occasion, as is well known, the Bible was 
translated into the Slavonic tongue, and the Cyrillic 
alphabet invented. The fact that Cyril was superior 
to the prejudice that ordinary languages are unfit for 
sacred and literary uses, a feeling which caused even 
Dante a severe struggle before composing his 'Divine 
Comedy ' in the vulgar tongue, and to which Cyril, as a 
Greek, and therefore accustomed to regard everything 
'' barbarian" with the greatest abhorrence, must have 
been especially alive, proves him at once to have been a 
very great man. In Moravia they were brought into 
contact with the Roman Catholic clergy, and from some 
unexplained cause — ^whether it was from Cyril's having 
been in former years an opponent of Photius, who was 
now Patriarch, or because, being monks, and one of 
them a painter, they were scandalised by the iconoclastic 
spirit rife at Constantinople," or whether political 
changes in Moravia made it more probable that they 
would be able to further Christianity by alliance widi 
the Western nations, and they were large-hearted enough 

** There is some doubt whether Methodius, the converter of the Bulga- 
rians, and the brother of Cyril, are the same. The question is discussed in 
the 'Acta Sanctorum' for March 9. 

** Dean Milman says (* Latin Christianity,* ii. p. 352) that an "untraced 
connexion had grown up between these Greek missionaries in Slavonia and 
the Roman See (the monks were probably image-worshippers, and so 
refused obedience to iconoclastic Constantinople) ;" and, in a note, "Metho- 
dius, it must be remembered, was a painter." 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. VIIL Cyril and Methodius. 191 

to ignore minor differences" — they connected themselves 
with the Roman church, though at the same time re- 
taining many of the customs of the Greek church, and 
saying mass in the vulgar tongjue. In consequence of 
these irregularities they were summoned to Rome by 
Pope Nicholas I., and were received with great honour 
on account of their bringing with them St Clement's 
body. On this occasion, according to the legend, — which, 
like so many others, embodies a very gfrand truth, — when 
the Pope and conclave were deliberating on the question 
whether the church services might be held in the vulgar 
tongue, their doubts were silenced by a supernatural voice, 
suddenly heard in the midst of them, exclaiming, " Let 
everything that hath breath praise the Lord" ^ 

Cyril resigned his office, and remained as a monk at 
Rome, where he died, and was buried in the basilica of 
his patron saint" Methodius returned as archbishop 
to Moravia, where, however, he was strongly opposed by 
the western clergy on account of what seemed to them 
his nonconformity in maintaining practices different from 
what they themselves observed. After his death, when 
a persecution was raised against his followers in Moravia, 
Clement of Ochrida, one of the most distinguished of the 
followers of the two brothers, retired to his native city, 
where he founded a monastery, and devoted himself to 

>* Neander says (* Church History,' v. p. 435) : — " When afterwards it so 
happened [that the Moravian princes, induced by political changes, entered 
into a closer connexion with the German Empire and the Western Church, 
this step, taken at a time when the schism between the Greek and Latin 
Churches first broke out, was naturally followed by an entanglement of 
ecclesiastical relations. Cyril and Methodius proved themselves to be men 
who placed a higher value on the interests of Christianity than on those of 
a particular church." 

** * Acta Sanctorum,* March 9, p. 16 B. >« Stredowsky, p. 394. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

192 Monastir and Ochrida, Chap. VI I L 

teaching the Bulgarians, who before this time had over- 
spread this part of the country. He had now returned 
to the Eastern communion, and before his death became 
bishop of Belitza, the first episcopal see established in 
these parts. His influence appears to have been de- 
servedly great, from the zeal with which he is said to 
have forwarded the improvement of his people, not only 
by giving oral instruction, but also by composing simple 
homilies for the use of the priests, by introducing the 
fine arts, and building beautiful churches, and by im- 
proving horticulture through the introduction of new 
fruit trees." To him we may trace the establishment of 
the cultus of St. Clement of Rome ; and it is not impos- 
sible that the statue of the saint and the crucifix may 
date from that period. Not long after this they would 
have been absolutely forbidden, and nothing but the 
veneration entertained for objects of antiquity would 
have caused them to be spared. 

Before leaving this subject, it will be well to notice 
what in reality is one of the most puzzling points in 
ecclesiastical history, and one which continually presents 
itself to the mind of the traveller in these countries — the 
growth of the distinction between statues and pictures in 

*7 This we learn, together "with many other interesting details, from a life 
of Clement of Ochrida, composed by one of his pupils, and preserved at the 
monastery of St Naum, at the southern end of the lake, where it was dis- 
covered, and published at Vienna in 1802. Neander, who would appre- 
ciate such a book at its full value — as giving an insight into the inner life 
and spirit of the age — speaks of it as very rare. He r^ards it as the work 
of Archbishop Theophylact, whose name is prefixed to it ; but this is a 
mistake, as Theophylact lived considerably later, and his name must have 
been attached to it subsequently, in order to enhance its value. It has since 
been re-published at Vienna, under the editorship of F. Miklosich, with 
the title *Vita S. Clementis, Episcopi Bulgarorum* {see his preface on the 
authorship). It contains, however, no information as to the external rela- 
tions of the Church at Ochrida. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. VIII. Statues and Pictures, 193 

the Eastern Church. It is well known that that com- 
munion at the present day proscribes statues (oy^iX/LuiTa), 
while pictures, or icons (et/coi/e?), are universally revered. 
In saying this, I do not mean to imply that the idola- 
trous worship of such objects is enjoined or encouraged 
as such, for neither is that the case in the Roman 
Church ; in one, as much as in the other, the theory is^ that 
the real objects of veneration are the persons or ideas 
which they suggest to the mind, though in practice it is 
certain that amongst the uneducated, in a large number 
of cases, the worship is offered to the thing itself But 
anyhow, the distinction between the views of the Eastern 
and Western Churches is broadly marked, in that the 
former reprobates the use of statues, while the latter 
advocates it. When talking to one of the more intel- 
ligent of the monks of Athos on this subject, I was 
assured by him that the distinction between statues and 
icons was drawn by the Sixth and Seventh General 
Councils ; to which he added, that the icon merely served 
for a likeness or remembrance of a person, while the 
statue expressed beauty and caused sensual gratification. 
In the first of these statements he was mistaken; all 
through the iconoclastic controversy statues were the 
objects of attack and defence just as much as pictures, 
and in the acts of the Fourth Synod of Constantinople, 
in 869, no such distinction is made. • The change was 
brought about very gradually ; so much so, that no trace 
remains to us of the steps by which it came to pass. 
But the latter part of the monk's statement is valuable, 
because it presents to us, in a Greek Christian of the 
present day, the same feeling which was really at work 
from the first, namely, an instinctive objection to a ma- 
terial image. In the only passage, as far as I know, in 
any ecclesiastical historian, where this subject has been 
VOL. I. o ^ 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

194 Monastir and Ochrida, Chap. VIII. 

philosophically treated, this idea has been brought pro- 
minently forward. Speaking of the time succeeding 
the period of Iconoclasm, Dean Milman says — "To the 
keener perception of the Greeks there may have arisen a 
feeling that, in its more rigid and solid form, the Image 
was more near to the Idol. At the same time, the art 
of sculpture and casting in bronze was probably more 
degenerate and out of use ; at all events, it was too slow 
and laborious to supply the demand of triumphant zeal 
in the restoration of the persecuted Images. There was, 
therefore, a tacit compromise; nothing appeared but 
painting, mosaics, engraving on cups and chalices, em- 
broidery on vestments. The renunciation of Sculpture 
grew into a rigid passionate aversion. The Greek at 
length learned to contemplate that kind of more definite 
and full representation of the Deity, or the saints, with 
the aversion of a Jew or a Mohammedan." ^® What has 
been said about statues naturally applies to the crucifix 
also; and this perhaps may have been disused all the 
more easily, because it had not long been introduced, for 
the crucifix did not exist until after the seventh cen- 

*• * Latin Christianity,* vi p 413. 

*• See Guericke's * Ecclesiastical Antiquities,' p. Ii6, 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

( 195 ) 



The Menzil — Primitive Boats — The Drin at Struga — Roman Milestone 

— Bulgarian School — Kukus — Wild Mountain Road — Elbassan — 
Concealed Treasures — lUtreatment of Women' — Value set on Water — 
The Albanians — Their Origin — Character — Riddles and Superstitions 

— Gh^^ and Tosks — Albanian Heroes — History of Scanderbeg — 
Ballad on his Death. 

Two hours' riding along the northern shore of the lake 
brought us to the town of Struga, which is situated at 
the place where the Black Drin makes its exit from the 
lake, from whence it flows first north, and afterwards 
^outh-west, and falls into the Adriatic near Alessio, after 
describing almost a semicircle in its course. We were 
jiow travelling by the Menzil or Turkish post, for along 
the main lines of communication horses are kept in 
readiness for government officials, and travellers who are 
provided with a firman of the Sultan can use them at 
three-fifths of the regular charge ; they can also impress 
the horses of the people of the country, if necessary, 
though we always preferred hiring them from carriers, if 
they were to be had, as the inconvenience to the peasants 
is often very great In this part of Turkey the charge 
for menzil horses is three piastres and a half (about 
-sevenpence) an hour ; but this is higher than what is 
found in some other parts of the country, and a great 
deal above the ordinary carrier's fare. At the same time 
the gain is great in respect of speed, as the post-horses 
are usually good : thus the ordinary "hour" of carriers' 
pace, which averages about three miles, may be com- 

O 2 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

196 Ochrida to Elbdssan. Chap. IX» 

passed into three-quarters of the time. In many other 
ways a firman will be found of great service ; it will 
secure you a night's lodging, if there is any difficulty ; and 
on one occasion, when a Turkish guard by the roadside 
required to see our passports, and demanded bakshish for 
himself, on hearing that we carried a firman he instantly 
lowered his tone, and said he had no wish to inspect it> 
and did not desire bakshish at all. 

The scenery of this part of the lake of Ochrida is 
extremely beautiful, and it is more easy for the traveller 
to fancy himself in the neighbourhood of the Italian 
lakes, than in the midst of the wild stem regions of 
European Turkey. One of the mediaeval travellers com- 
pares it to the lake of Gennesaret, and my companion 
assured me that from the level of the lake, where the 
distant mountains are hidden from view, the resemblance 
is striking. Great numbers of waterfowl might be seen 
near the shore, and huge buffaloes lay revelling in the 
coolness, and in freedom from the attacks of flies, with 
their heads just protruded above the surface, and their 
mouths idly gaping. But the greatest curiosity of these 
parts are the boats which are used on the lake. These 
are flat-bottomed vessels, with large logs of wood pro- 
jecting from their sides to keep them steady in the 
water ; and in the bow a sort of platform, rising in three 
steps, for the three rowers, who have their oars all on the 
same side ; while to counterbalance them another sits in 
the stem, and steers with an oar on the other side — a 
mode of progression the disadvantages of which are more 
apparent than the advantages. Their primitive shape 
and peculiar arrangement is probably intended to suit 
them for fishing purposes ; though, when the history of 
primaeval boats comes to be written, those which are 
found in the remote lakes of Turkey may perhaps be 
found to belong to a very early type. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

.Chap. IX. The Drift at Struga. 197 

At Struga the Drin is crossed by a long wooden 
ibridge, beneath which the full clear stream rushes along 
in a well-defined bed. As we looked down into it, we 
could see fish of all sizes swimming about in the water ; 
and before long we were able to pronounce on their ex- 
cellence as an article of food, as we purchased for six 
piastres (one shilling) a fine pink salmon-trout, of four 
pounds and a half, off" which we made a luxurious repast 
The trout and salmon-trout which abound in this lake 
-are rarely, if ever, found in the other lakes of Turkey. 
Struga is the head-quarters of the fishery, in consequence 
of the fish resorting at certain seasons to the outlet of 
the lake, where they are caught in immense quantities. 
A great part of the population of the place is occupied 
in catching and drying them, and they are exported to 
all parts of Turkey, being in great request on account of 
the frequent fasts of the Greek Church. The fishery is 
the property of the Sultan, and is sublet by him to con- 
tractors for a very large sum. The fishing takes place 
by night, and has been described to me as a very pic- 
turesque and exciting scene. These fisheries and the 
export of their produce must have existed from very 
early times, for Strabo mentions " the places for drying 
fish belonging to the lake near Lychnidus." ^ The em- 
bankment of the sides of the river, by which the neigh- 
bourhood was converted from a marsh into a habitable 
region, was the work of the Bulgarian prince Samuel, at 
the time when he made Ochrida the capital of his 
monarchy. Originally the system of desiccation must 
have been much more elaborate than what appears at 
present. Anna Comnena* speaks with warm admira- 
tion of the hundred channels into which the water was 
drawn off, with embankments and covered watercourses 

* Strabo, vii, 7, 8 8. » xu. p. 371. 

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198 Ochrida to Elbassan. Chap. IX. 

communicating with one another, by means of which the 
river Drin at length was formed. It was from these 
works that the place obtained its name, for struga in 
Bulgarian signifies " a dike, or arm of a river." 

At one angle of the outer wall of the church- at Struga 
is an ancient Roman milestone, a single cylindrical 
block rounded at the top, the base of which, and together 
with it the lower part of the inscription, is now buried in 
the earth. It was probably one of the milestones of the 
Egnatian Way, which passed by this place, and is. 
described by Strabo as being " measured by miles and 
marked by milestones."* It is not easy to decipher, but 
seems almost identical with one in the courtyard of a 
house at Ochrida, which was copied and communicated 
to me by my friend Mr. Curtis of Constantinople. As I 
am not aware that this has been copied before, I give it 
here. The greater part of the inscription is in Latin, 
that being the official language, but the distance is given 
in Greek for the information of the natives. In this 
respect I believe it is unique, for though many other 
Roman milestones have been discovered, the inscriptions 
on all of them are in Latin throughout.* 














• Slrabo, viu 4«. 

♦ They may be fotmd m Grater's 'Inscriptiones Antiquse,* pp^ IS3-IS9^ 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. IX. Bulgarian School. 199 

Close by the same church is a large school for Bul- 
garian children. There were 200 of them there, and 
very clean and orderly they looked as they sat at their 
desks, very much in the style of an English school. The 
master was a Bulgarian ; and the children are taught to 
read and write both Greek and Bulgarian, two days in 
the week being devoted to the latter langfuage. Here 
again the intrusive Greek element makes its appearance. 
I was told that other schools like this have lately sprung 
up among the Bulgarians of these parts (we saw one 
ourselves adjoining the metropolitan church at Ochrida), 
and in many ways they seem desirous of improvement. 
Before leaving I heard the children read the Gospel, but 
the room was crammed with people, who had followed 
me from curiosity to see a Frank, and to discover the 
reason of my interest in the inscription. Here, however, 
as elsewhere during this tour, I was not the least 
molested, nor did I meet with any incivility.* 

Leaving Struga in the afternoon we bade adieu to the 
beautiful lake of Ochrida, and crossed the mountains to 
the west by a low pass over stony ground, the sides of 
which were partly clad with oak trees, while the track 
itself was frequently shaded by walnuts. From the head 
of the ridge we descended into an upland plain, culti- 
vated in places and dotted with trees, from whence again 
we made our way by a similar pass into a deep valley 
beyond. All along this part of our route we saw nume- 
rous lazy tortoises crawling along by the path : they are 

The two first letters of the inscription given in the text are unintelligible ; 
we should expect it to b^;in with Imp. Cas^ Probably the word has been 

* Mr. Lear, who passed through this part of the country twelve years 
previously, describes himself as being constantly annoyed by the people, 
and having stones thrown at him. See his 'Journals of a Landscape 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

200 Ochrida ta Elbassan. Chap. IX. 

common throughout Greece and Turkey. As we de- 
scended, night came on, and it was a pretty sight to 
watch the bright fires in the shepherds' huts or encamp- 
ments, shining like glowworms all about the mountain 
side. At the bottom we crossed a narrow picturesque 
Turkish bridge, which spans the river Skumbi with a 
single lofty arch undefended by a parapet, and then 
scrambled along for some way in the darkness to the 
little village of Kukus, where we found only one small 
room' in the khan. In this some of the natives had 
already lighted a fire, so that we were thankful to sleep 
outside under a sort of kiosk, or summer-house, in the 
open air. Here we were only disturbed by the cats and 
fowls, which in the early morning skipped playfully over 
our prostrate bodies. 

The next day was spent in winding along the steep 
mountain sides by an extremely rough track, in and out, 
and up and down, wherever the steep rocks left room for 
the path. An Albanian, who was bound in the same 
direction as ourselves, had now joined our' company. 
At an hour's distance from our night's resting-place we 
stopped to breakfast at the Khan of Jura, which is one 
of the cleanest in this part of the country, and in every 
respect superior to that at Kukus. The room which 
Opens out from the gallery on the upper story has the 
advantage of a clay floor and stone walls, which, as I 
have before remarked, are preferable to wood from their 
not harbouring vermin. The gallery itself, where we had 
our meal, was fitted all round with hooks for the recep- 
tion of the long metal-bound guns without one of which 
an Albanian rarely moves. Some four or five of the 
owners of such weapons sat and smoked meanwhile, and 
eyed our proceedings with the utmost curiosity. When 
we resumed our journey, in many parts we passed 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. IX. Wild Mountain Road. 20i 

Mahometan cemeteries, placed, as they often are in 
Turkey, by the road-sides, and the graves marked by 
ovals of stones ; their number might almost lead one to 
suppose that these parts were once more thickly popu- 
lated than they are now. The mountain masses in this 
district are much more confused than in the country 
eastward of Ochrida, and the scenery, both here and 
throughout a great part of the route which I am 
describing, though it is broad and wild, yet wants 
grandeur in its mountain forms and delicacy in its 
outlines. It is quite surprising to read the rapturous 
epithets in which Mr. Lear indulges in describing it, 
when one considers how very inferior the landscape is to 
that of many parts of Europe. For . a considerable 
distance the road was carried along the heights far above 
the Skumbi, penetrating from time to time into the 
mountain side to round a gorge, while in some places 
the slopes below shelved away in a manner not seriously 
dangerous, but such as to require caution in passing. 
At last we descended by a steep and tortuous path to 
that river, the ancient Genusus, a considerable stream, 
which seems to have taken its modem name from the 
town of Scampae on the Via Egnatia. Just at this 
point, where the Skumbi emerges from the deep valley 
in which its upper course lies, its waters are spanned by 
a fine stone bridge of three arches. After fording it a 
little way below the bridge, and following its stream for 
some distance through softer scenery, we made our way 
through a picturesque wooded gorge into a plain, and, 
after passing ^ sheikh's tomb with a tiled roof, threaded 
the olive groves which skirt the city of Elbassan. 

This place probably represents the ancient Scampae, 
which seems in the middle ages to have been replaced 
by a city called Albanon, from which the modern name 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

202 Ochrida to Elbassan. Chap. IX» 

may be derived.* It holds an important position, as it 
commands the entrance to the mountain passes, and is 
the point where the road from Scodra, Durazzo, Berat, 
and Ochrida, converge. The population is said to be 
about ten thousand ; by far the greater number of these 
are Albanian Ghegs, a few of whom are Christians, the 
rest Mahometans ; besides these there are a few Walla- 
chians, and the keeper of the khan at which we stopped, 
like so many of his trade, was a Greek. The Christians 
of this part of Albania are mostly Roman Catholics, but 
they have been so persecuted of late years that a large 
number of them have become Mussulmans ; some also 
have joined the Greek Church ; but the light way in 
which religion hangs on an Albanian is shown by their 
proverb, " Where the sword is, the creed is also." Thus 
a Mahometan of this race who once accompanied us 
maintained stoutly that all good Mussulmans ought to 
drink wine, and that those who abstained were unfaithful 
to their creed. It is said, however, that the oppressive- 
ness of the conscription for the Turkish army is so great 
that many who have embraced the religion of the 
Prophet, would be glad enough to be Christians. again. 
The old city is square in form, and enclosed within 

• The identification of these places is arrived at in the following way. 
Amongst the many difficulties about the places on the Egnatian Way, 
arising firom the variation of numbers in the Itineraries, one point seems to 
be well established, namely, the Trajectm Genusi^ or crossing of the 
Genusus, which corresponds with the place where we forded the Skumbi 
between Kukus and Elbassan. Now both the Jerusalem and Tabular 
Itineraries give the distance from Trajectus to Scampae as nine miles, which 
just corresponds to the distance from the ford to Elbassan. Again, we 
learn fix>m Anna Comnena (xiii. p. 390), that the mediaeval Albanon com- 
manded the passes (rh.t wtpil rh ''Kp^ov KK^urolpai) which lead from the 
neighbourhood of the lake of Lychnidus to the plains by the coast ; and 
Farlat, in his *Illyricimi Sacrum,' shows that Elbassan was the seat of the 
bishopric of Albanon. See Hahn's 'Albanesische Studien,' i. pp. 81, 135. 

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Chap. IX. Elbassan. 203 

walls, the circuit of which cannot be more than a mile. 
From the brickwork which is in them they would seem 
to have been built by the Venetians ; but both the walls 
and the towers which rise out of them at intervals are in 
ruins, having been dismantled when the town was taken 
by Reschid Pasha, in the time of Sultan Mahmoud. 
This was during the events which succeeded the massacre 
of the Beys and the fall of Mustapha Pasha, when almost 
all the fortified places in Albania were destroyed. The 
suburbs seem now to form the most important part of 
the place. After paying a visit to the governor of the 
city, in order to get permission to visit the walls, we 
climbed up into one of the ruined towers, which com- 
manded a view over the city and surrounding country. 
The minarets and a large clock-tower, sheathed in glit- 
tering tin, form conspicuous objects ; and the trees that 
environ the houses, among which the fig, cypress, and 
poplar, are the most remarkable, are more numerous than 
is usual even in Oriental towns. Among these the towers 
and walls appear here and there, and around the whole 
city is a circuit of olive-groves. Close by, to the north, 
beautiful wooded hills descend into the plain, beyond 
which rises a high mountain, separating us from Tyrana 
and the country of Scanderbeg. To the south appears at 
a great distance, rising above the nearer mountains, the 
magnificent triple-crested peak of Mount Tomohr, quite 
a relief in this land of common-place mountain outlines. 

We were amused to find that the Governor (or rather 
his deputy, for he himself was absent, and had left a 
locum tenens to discharge his office) had given strict 
orders to the guard who accompanied us to the tower in 
the walls, that we were not on any account to be per- 
mitted to find hidden treasures. It is a fixed idea in the 
minds of all Orientals, that the object of antiquarian 

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204 Ochrida to Elbassan. Chap. IX. 

research in their country is to discover hoards of money, 
and this suspicion has frequently proved a fatal bar in 
the way 6f excavations. On a subsequent occasion, 
when we were performing quarantine on a small island 
off the shores of the Gulf of Volo, near the Greek and 
Turkish frontier, an old woman, who was the only per- 
manent inhabitant of the place, firmly believed that we 
were searchihg for treasure, and, what is more, that we 
should probably discover it She had heard that some 
time before, a band of robbers (this is a common form 
for the story to take) had been hunted down by the 
soldiery on the mainland, and after taking refuge in 
the island, had concealed their valuables in some secret 
spot: ; and when she saw us reading and writing in the 
hut we occupied, and in the intervals walking about 
the rocks, she took it into her head that we were prac- 
tising magic arts, in order to discover the locality of the 
deposit Captain Spratt' has suggested with consider- 
able probability that the frequent occurrence of the 
name "Jews' Castle" in the islands and on the continent 
of Greece (there is an Ebraio-Castro on Mount Pelion), 
may be accounted for by this same idea : that is to say, 
that ruins are regarded as likely places for finding trea- 
sures, and hoarded money is, or was in former times, 
associated with the Jews. It must have been from some 
notion of this kind that the name arose, for the fortresses 
themselves cannot be supposed to have belonged to 
members of that despised race. In Albania such deposits 
are supposed to be guarded by snakes or negroes, both 
of which are mythological representations of the powers 
below. From time to time these guardians bring them 
to the daylight, to preserve them from rust and mould ; 

' * Travels in Crete,' L p. 315, 316, 

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Chap. IX. Concealed Treasures. 205 

and the following story is told of the way in which a 
shepherd possessed himself of such a treasure. This 
man once found a snake asleep, coiled round a large heap 
of gold pieces ; and knowing how to set to work under 
the circumstances, placed a pail of milk by its side, and 
waited in a hiding-place until it should wake. It came 
to pass as he expected. The snake took to the milk 
with avidity, and drank its fill. On this it returned to 
the heap of gold, in order to go to sleep again, but the 
thirst, with which snakes are attacked after drinking 
milk, prevented it from doing so. It became restless, 
and moved irresolutely round and round the heap, till 
the burning within forced it to go in quest of water. The 
water, however, was far off, and before it had returned, 
the wary shepherd had carried off the whole heap of gold 
into a place of safety.® 

The inside of the city, as you pass through the streets, 
has a poor appearance, from the low wooden houses with 
rickety tiled roofs: the bazaars, however, have a gay 
look, from the bright dresses of their occupants, the red 
jacket and white kilt being common among the Ghegs, 
under which they have loose white trousers, girt in below 
by leggings, while their belts are filled with a variety of 
richly ornamented arms. Most of the Ghegs are finely 
made men ; their most marked characteristics are their 
long necks, long narrow faces, with sharp features, often 
aquiline, and frequently light hair ; they have a stern look, 
as if they were a daring, unmerciful people. In the even- 
ing we had a visit from a young Turk, who has charge of 
the telegraph here, on the line between Salonica and 
Scodra ; for this civilized institution has penetrated even 
to these barbarous regions, though it is viewed with some 

^ Hahn, 'Albanesische Studien,' i. p. 164. 

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2o6 Ochrida to Elbassan. Chap. IX. 

jealousy by the people of the country, and is kept up 
with considerable difficulty in the mountain passes during 
the winter. He was an educated and intelligent man, 
spoke French, and, as a Government official, was dressed 
in European costume, except for the fez cap. He ex- 
pressed great delight at seeing us, for with the exception 
of a young Greek, his c6adjutor, he had seen no traveller, 
' nor any person with whom he could have any ideas in 
common, during the nine months that he had been sta- 
tioned there. He spoke bitterly of the barbarism of the 
natives, and confirmed all that we had heard about 
the frequency of robberies and murders, and the danger 
that the people incurred if they ventured a few miles 
away from the place. "The Mahometans here," he 
impressively declared, "are not real Mahometans, and 
the Christians are not real Christians." 

As far as this point, our route from Salonica has lain 
in a north-westerly direction : here we change our course 
and go south.* It is a proof of the small number of 
Turks in this part, that the stork, the sacred bird of 
Turkey, is not found here : their place, however, is sup- 
plied by flocks of geese, which are numerous in the 
neighbourhood of the towns and villages. The country 
districts leave a most melancholy impression on the 
mind ; broken bridges, and roads almost impassable on 
horseback, evidently show neglect and decay ; and here 
and there your horse will start aside at the sight of a 
carcase left to rot where it has fallen. The land is mostly 
covered with tamarisk-bushes, prickly palluria, and ferns. 
Very little of it is cultivated, owing to the laziness of the 
people, and the contempt in which agricultural labour 
is held ; the consequence of which is frequent scarcity of 

* On the Egnatian Way, which we leave at this point, see Appendix D. 

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Chap. IX. Illtreattnent of Women. 207 

bread, and there is a sad look of poverty and misery 
about the lower classes. Much of this has resulted from 
the centralizing policy of Sultan Mahmoud, which has 
paralysed the outlying portions of the empire. In ancient 
times, both this plain, and that of Befat, further to the 
south, were cultivated at a very early period ; and the 
prosperity of the Greek colonies of Epidamnus and Apol- 
lonia was mainly attributable to their being the points of 
export respectively for the products of these two fertile 
regions. It roused one's indignation to see the way in 
which the women were treated. At one place on the 
road we passed a number of men, whose wives were 
walking by their sides> staggering under the weight of 
huge boxes. The position which the female sex occupies 
in these parts may, perhaps, be well illustrated by a 
story which I heard some years ago from the late Sir 
Henry Ward at Corfu. As he was riding, one day, into 
the country, he overtook a man who had laden his wife 
with a very heavy bundle of faggot-sticks ; he remon- 
strated with him, and said, " Really, my good man, it is 
too b^d that you should load your wife in that way ; 
what she is carrying is a mule's burden." "Yes, your 
Excellency," the man replied; "what you say is quite 
true, it w a mule's burden : but then, you see. Providence 
has not provided us with mules, and He has provided us 
with women." 

Shortly after leaving Elbassan we again forded the 
Skumbi, which is here a broad and shallow stream. As 
we proceeded along the plain we met a considerable 
number of ill-looking fellows, whose occupation was suffi- 
ciently shown by their arms and long pipes : guards they 
may have been, or robbers, or both, — for the line of de- 
marcation between these two classes is sometimes rather 
fine.' It was amusing to notice the curious mixture of 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

2oS Ochrida to Elbassan. Chap. IX. 

pride and poverty that showed itself in some of these 
men ; you might see them swaggering along in their dirty 
fustanellas (white kilt) with erect carriage, twirled mous- 
tachios, and the fez set on one side of the head, looking 
far too fine gentlemen to take any notice of passers-by 
like ourselves ; yet everything about them betokening 
the utmost indigence. The way, too, in which an Alba- 
nian often carries his gun across the back of his neck, 
with both arms extended over the two ends, gives an 
additional nonchalance to his air. Our surudjiy or pos- 
tilion, of the day before had warned us strongly against 
the robbers of these parts, and had stories to tell of the 
Pasha's baggage having been plundered ; the moral of 
all this was that we should take guards, but this we 
always refused to do, unless they were almost forced 
upon us, because we knew that they would take to their 
heels if there was any real danger ; but the truth is, that 
a western European is exposed to very slight risk in tra- 
velling here, for he is generally not worth robbing, and if 
anything happens to him, a considerable stir is sure to be 
made about it, and some one or other will probably be 
hanged. Thus the Frank comes to be regarded in the 
light of a sacred animal, and we used to ride along 
through the country unarmed and unguarded, with a feel- 
ing of security which was hard to analyse. 

After some hours' riding we forded the swift stream of 
the Devol, near a picturesque ruined bridge, two arches of 
which alone remain, and some way further on made our 
midday halt by a fountain, in the neighbourhood of which 
some trees afforded a refreshing shade. Here we had an 
example of the value that is set on water in these parched 
countries. The' fountain was an erection of masonry 
built against a bank, with a small spout in the centre of 
it (Colonel Leake believes that some of the great foun- 

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Chap. IX. Value set on Water. 209 

tains of antiquity were of this unpoetical character : cer- 
tainly that of Aganippe, on the side of Mount Helicon, is 
now represented by one of this sort, and there is an 
ancient inscription over it.) We expected to find water 
here, but alas ! there was none. So, at least, it appeared 
at first sight, but the surudji who accompanied us knew 
better, for he went up to the spout, and pulled out a small 
plug of linen or paper, on which there gushed out a thin 
crystal stream. When we had all drunk, the plug was 
carefully replaced. It is remarkable to find that in a 
country where human life is held so very cheap the 
common interest should cause men to regard water with 
almost religious respect Besides this. Orientals generally 
are very curious on the subject of the quality of their 
water ; indeed, they are as great connoisseurs of water as 
any Western epicure can be of wine. Both in Albania 
and elsewhere I have heard one spring distinguished as 
light (ika^pov), and another as heavy (fiapv), where the 
traveller can distinguish no difference in the taste. No 
one can doubt, after observing this, that it requires no 
refinement of criticism to understand Pindar's meaning 
when he says, " Water is the best of things." 

At no great distance from this fountain we arrived at 
a small village, which forms the boundary between the 
Gheg and Tosk tribes : here it may be convenient to 
rest awhile, and before we proceed take a survey of the 
Albanian nation, and the elements of which it is com- 

The Albanians call themselves Skipetar, and there is 
considerable evidence to show that they are a nation of 
great antiquity. The name Arnaout, which is given them 
by the Turks, is in reality only a corruption of "Alba- 
nian." The process of change is distinctly traceable in 
modem Greek, where the original Albanites (pronounced 


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2ra Ochrida to Elbassan. Chap. IX. 

Alvanites\ by a change of liquids becomes Arvanites^ and 
thence by a transposition of \t\XjttSy Arnavites^ from which 
the passage is easy to Arnaout Their language, which 
for a long time was a puzzle to philologists, has of late 
years been carefully examined by Professor Bopp, who- 
pronounces it to be an independent branch of the Indo- 
European family. Much of the system of inflexions and 
many of the words are strikingly similar to Latin and 
Greek, yet not in such a way as to render it supposable 
that they have been borrowed from either. In most 
points^ according to Bopp, it can be explained more 
readily by Sanscrit than by those languages. Dr. Von 
Hahn, who resided several years among the Albanians, and 
from whose learned work, ' Albanesische Studien,' many of 
these remarks are drawn, believes them to be the nearest 
existing representatives of the Pelasgians. He considers 
that the great similarities which exist in customs, national 
constitution, and other points, as well as language, between 
the Albanians and the early Greeks and Romans, are 
most naturally accounted for by the supposition that they 
were all originally of the same race, and that the Alba- 
nians, having been little civilised, and from their positioa 
little interfered with, have kept these original institutions. 
The Pelasgians, it is true, have so often been made to 
serve as the basis of untenable ethnographic theories, that 
the mention of them is apt to raise a smile ; but here 
there really seems much more to be said than in other 
cases. For the accounts given us by ancient authors 
seem to show that the present inhabitants are the same 
race who held the country in classical times, and imply a 
close connection between these Epirotic and Illyrian 
tribes and those of Macedonia, &c \ these statements, 
taken together with the existence of the great Pelasgian 
oracle of Dodona in this country, and other facts of the 

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Chap. IX. Albanian Riddles. 211 

same nature, seem to lend probability to the theory. 
There cdso exists among them an alphabet, apparently 
of great antiquity, which Hahn believes to have been 
derived by some of the Pelasgians from the Phoenicians 
— perhaps from the Phoenician settlements in the north of 
the iEgean — ^and to stand in the relation of a sister to 
the Greek alphabet. But, whatever may be thought 
of these views, and whether they are reconcilable or not 
with the results of philological investigation, the subject 
is one that deserves more attention than it has yet 
received ; and I cannot but believe that a careful study 
of the language might throw considerable light on the 
classical languages. 

In respect of character they are described by Finlay ^^ 
as proud, insolent, turbulent, and greedy of gain, but 
honest and truthful. They are shown to be a clever and 
imaginative people by their poems and stories, and still 
more by their riddles, of which Hahn has made a large 
collection. The following may be taken as favourable 
specimens ; they are generally propounded in the form of 
similes, and introduced with the question, " What is this ? " 

The field is white, the seed is black ; it is sown with 
the hand and reaped with the mouth .? — A letter. (How 
curiously this last clause illustrates the way in which 
half-educated people spell out a manuscript !) 

The father is green, the son is red ? — ^The blossoming 

The monkey dances, while the white cow is milked ? — 
The spinning-wheel. 

Though it is not an ox, it has horns ; though it is not 
an ass, it has a pack-saddle; and wherever it goes it 
leaves silver behind ? — A snail. 

*• * History of the Greek Revolution,' i. p. 38. 

P 2 

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212 Ochrida to Elbassan. Chap. IX. 

What is that which wears the wool inside and the 
flesh outside ? — A tallow candle. 

Among the many superstitions which exist in the 
country, none is more curious than that which relates to 
men with tails. Of these there are two kinds, one with 
goats' tails, the other with short horses' tails. Persons 
endowed with such appendages are always short-made 
and broad-shouldered, great walkers, and extremely 
strong." The evidence for their existence is so con- 
vincing that even the critical German who mentions the 
belief, is half inclined to think it true. His account is 
so curious as to be worth extracting : 

" This belief," he says, " is, perhaps, more than a popular supersti- 
tion. One of my cavasses at Yanina (Soliman of Dragoti) maintained, 
that in his part of the country tailed men of this sort were not un- 
common, and that he himself had a tailed cousin, whom in his youth 
he had often pulled by this gift of Nature when bathing. A much more 
trustworthy man, Theodoris, who when young had been a deft on 
the Pindus, related that in his band there was for several years a short- 
sized, broad-shouldered man of a very fidr complexion, called Captain 
Jannaki, who was reputed to have a tail In order to convince them- 
selves of this, once when he was asleep in the middle of the day sue of 
them fell upon him at once, for hjc was uncommonly strong, and he 
himself had taken part in this ocular inspection. He distinctly remem- 
bered to have seen a goat-like tail about four fingerbreadths long, 
covered on the outer side with short red bristles. My endeavours to 
see such an object were in vain ; and all the Turkish military surgeons 
to whom I spoke about it declared the thing to be fi^ibulous, because in 
their yearly inspection of so many recruits from all parts of the 
country no such lusus natura had ever come before them."" 

Mr. Baring Gould, in his * Curious Myths of the Middle 
Ages,* has shown that this superstition was once widely 

" This attribute is connected, I suspect, with the idea of their possessing 
something of the nature of a brute; for in the Popular Tales of many 
countries, immense strength is supposed to be the inheritance of a child 
whose father is a bear. 

>' Hahn, 'Albanesische Studien,' i. pp. 163, 164. 

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Chap. IX. Ghegs and Tosks. 213 

spread throughout Europe, though now it has almost 
perished. He is also sensible enough to remark, that 
whatever the evidence, such a conformation of the human 
body is physiologically impossible. 

The total number of Albanians in Turkey, according 
to the most trustworthy computation, amounts to one 
million souls ;^ to these must be added 200,cxx) in the 
kingdom of Greece, forming no inconsiderable part of 
the population of that country ; and 85,000, who have 
settled in the south of Italy and Sicily. The Albanian 
nation is divided, as I have already mentioned, into the 
two great tribes of Ghegs and Tosks, the Ghegs inhabit- 
ing the country to the north, the Tosks to the south, of 
the point where we are supposed to be stationed. The 
name Tosks belongs properly only to the inhabitants of 
the north bank of the lower Viosa, and is not acknow- 
ledged by the other inhabitants of South Albania, to 
whom it is applied to distinguish them from the Ghegs ; 
until we discovered this we were puzzled by an Albanian, 
who accompanied us during one part of our journey, 
describing himself as neither a Gheg nor a Tosk. How- 
ever, as all who are called by this name belong to the 
same tribe and speak the same dialect, it will be con- 
venient to use it. Strabo^^ represents the Egnatian Way, 
which followed the course of the Genusus (Skumbi), as 
lying on the borders of the Epirotic tribes to the south, 
and the lUyrian to the north. This division corresponds 
so closely to the modern line of demarcation of the two 
tribes, that it seems highly probable that the same races 
inhabited the country then as now, and that the Tosks 
correspond to the Epirots, the Ghegs to the Illyrians. 
The difference between the Gheg and Tosk dialects is as 

*• Hahn, *Reise von Belgrad naich Salonik,' p. 2ia " Strabo, viL 4. 

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214 Ochrida to Elbassaiu Chap. IX. 

great as between German and Danish ; they do not un- 
derstand one another, or, at most, can only hold com- 
munication in the simplest things, and that with difficulty. 
The distinction of dress is not as marked as has some- 
times been represented. The red jacket is generally 
peculiar to the Ghegs, the white capote to the Tosks ; 
the Ghegs also frequently wear the short white trouser, 
which the Tosks do not ; but none of these rules are of 
invariable application. Another difference also exists in 
respect of the form which Christianity takes in the two 
tribes ; speaking roughly, the small number of Ghegs 
who have maintained their allegiance to the Christian 
religion are Roman Catholics, while the Christian Tosks 
are of the orthodox communion. It is probably a con- 
sequence of this that the Ghegs, in writing, use the Latin 
letters, the Tosks the Greek ; for the national alphabet, 
which I have mentioned above, does not seem to be 
much used. The hereditary opposition between the 
tribes is so strong, that when they are serving toigether 
in the Turkish army feuds will break out among them, 
and the Turks have at times turned this animosity to 
their own advantage, by employing them to put down 
insurrections in one another's country. 

The historical heroes of Albania are Alexander the 
Great, Pyrrhus, and Scanderbeg ; and in modern times, 
if it is allowable to mention one so mean in connection 
with those great names — ^Ali Pasha. All that is inte- 
resting in the history of the country gathers round 
them ; the rest is a series of temporary conquests and 
barbarian inroads, the effects of which were transient, 
and have not permanently influenced either the people 
themselves or the neighbouring races. Alexander was 
connected with Albania through his mother Olympias, 
who was an Epirotic princess: his exploits, however, 

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Chap. IX. Scanderbegi 2I"S 

belong to universal History, as those of Pyrrhus do to 
that of Rome. Of the third, Scanderbeg, it may be 
well to give a brief account, for few warriors have left 
behind them a fame as lasting, or an admiration as 
enthusiastic, as that with which this hero is still regarded 
by his countrymen. George Castriote, for that was his 
real name, was bom in the north of Albania in the year 
1404, and as his father had been forced to become 
tributary to the Turks, he was sent with his three 
brothers as hostages to Sultan Amurath II. They were 
lodged in the palace of that prince, and, contrary to an 
express stipulation made by their father, were educated 
in the Mahometan religion. The other brothers died 
early, but George rose in favour with the Sultan, who 
enrolled him among his guards and appointed him to an 
important command: his ability and valour were con- 
-spicuous at an early age, and in consequence of this he 
xeceived from the Turks the name of Iskender Bey, or 
Lord Alexander. After his father's death, when his 
family possessions were seized and appropriated by 
Amurath, and a Turkish officer sent to govern them, 
Scanderbeg conceived the design of regaining them and 
asserting the independence of his native Albania. He 
carried out his scheme in the following manner. When 
engaged in a campaign against Hunniades he entered 
into a secret correspondence with that commander, and 
by deserting, at a critical moment, contributed to the 
defeat of the Turkish army on the plain of Nissa. 
During the confusion that followed he extorted from the 
Sultan's secretary a firman, by which the governor of 
Albania was ordered to surrender to him Croia, the 
capital of that country, with the command of the neigh- 
bouring district Armed with this mandate he hastened 
Xo the spot, and when he had by this means got the 

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2i6 Ochrida to Elbassan. Chap. IX. 

power into his own hands, he threw off the mask, 
declared himself the enemy of the Mahometans, and 
was acknowledged by his countrymen as their leader in 
the struggle for independence. For the remaining 
twenty-three years of his life he was engaged in almost 
unceasing hostilities with the Turks, and was renowned 
for his skill as a general, for the discipline he maintained 
among his soldiers, and for the prodigies of valour he 
performed with his own hand. On more than one 
occasion his enemies penetrated to Croia, but they were 
as often repulsed, and when Sultan Amurath himself laid 
siege to that place in 1450, he was forced to retire, and 
his death, which occurred in the following year, was 
attributed by some to the mortification caused by that 
defeat. At one period Scanderbeg retired from the 
scene, when, having concluded a truce with Mahomet II., 
he passed over into Italy, at the solicitation of Pope 
Pius II., to assist the King of Naples against his oppo- 
nent the Count of Anjou. In consequence of the services 
which he rendered on that occasion he received large 
grants of land in Italy, which were occupied in 1460 by 
a body of immigrants, the first of the numerous colonies 
which have passed over from Albania into that country. 
Towards the end of his life he was again engaged in 
hostilities with his former enemies, and again came off 
successful. He died at length at Alessio in the 63rd 
year of his age, and with him the hopes of his country- 
men were extinguished. He does not rest among them, 
for, after he was buried, the Turks tore up his body, and 
out of his bones constructed amulets, which were sup- 
posed to inspire courage into the wearer on the battle- 
field ; so great was their superstitious reverence for the 
man who during his long life had kept them at bay and 
repeatedly defeated them ! But his name is familiar 

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Chap. IX. Ballad on his Death. 2 1 7 

throughout Albania ; and even among the Albanians of 
Southern Italy, the descendants of those who left their 
country after his death, he is still the hero of popular 
songs, of which the following is a specimen : — 

"When Scanderbeg departed for the battle, on the road that he 
pursued he encountered Death, the ill-omened messenger of melan- 
choly fortune. * My. name is Death: return back, O Scanderbeg, for 
thy life approacheth its end.* He hears him and beholds him: he 
draws his sword, and Death remains unmoved. 

" * Phantom of air, dreaded only by cowards, whence knowest thou 
that I must die ? Can thy icy heart foretel my death ? Or is the book 
of heroes' destiny open unto thee ? ' 

" * Yesterday in heaven were opened before me the books of destiny, 
and cold and black, like a veil, it descended on thy head, and then 
passed on and fell on others also.' 

" Scanderbeg smote his hands together, and his heart gave vent to a 
sigh. * Ah ! woe is me ! I shall live no more.* He turns to contem- 
plate the times that must come after him ; he beholds his son fatherless, 
and his kingdom filled with tears. He assembles his warriors, and says 
to them : — 

" ' My trusty warriors, the Turk will conquer all your country, and 
you will become hb slaves. Ducadjin, bring hither my son, my lovely 
boy, that I may give him my commands. Unprotected flower, flower 
of my love, take with thee thy mother, and prepare three of thy finest 
galleys. If the Turk knows it he will come and lay hands on thee, and 
will insult thy mother. Descend to the shore ; there grows a cypress 
dark and sad. Fasten the horse to that cypress, and unfold my standard 
upon my horse to the sea breeze, and from my standard hang my 
sword. On its edge is the blood of the Turks, and death sleepeth 
there. The arms of the dreaded champion — say, will they remain dumb 
beneath the dark tree ? When the north wind blows furiously, the 
horse will neigh, the flag will wave in the wind, the sword will ring 
again. The Turk will hear it, and trembling, pale and sad, wiU 
retreat, thinking on death.* "'* 

" * Revue des Deux Mondes,* vol. liii. p. 404. 

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( 2i8 ) 



Berat — Mount Tomohr — Local Chieftains — Castle of Berat — Si^e 
under Scanderb^ — Malaria Fever — A Mountain Residence — Sla- 
vonic Names — Pass of Glava — The Viosa — Tepelen — AU Pasha's 
Palace — Argyro-Castro — Albanians and Greeks — Pass of Mount 
Sopoti — Delvino — River Vistritza — Lake of Butrinto — Departure for 

When we had reached the summit of the hills which 
separate the valley of the Devol from that of the Usumi, 
we obtained a view to the west over the winding course 
of the Beratino, which is formed by the combined waters 
of these two rivers ; and, again descending, caught sight 
of the white walls of the Castle of Berat, situated on a 
lofty pyramidal rock. A level plain intervenes, at the 
commencement of which lies the village of Fendroudi, a 
picturesque place intersected by a stream and shaded by 
magnificent plane-trees. Not far off, on the hill-side^ 
was a Christian church of some pretensions. We rode 
across the plain to the foot of the castle-rock on the 
north side, but did not come in sight of the city until we 
had made our way round to the opposite side. Here 
the River Usumi is hemmed in between the castle-rock 
and another still loftier height ; the city nestles at the 
foot of the former, and spreads itself along the sides of 
the wooded heights to the east, where the gorge opens 
out, while on the other side of the river is the suburb of 
Goritza, the dwelling-place of the Christians, joined to 
the town by a well-built bridge of several arches. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. X. Berat 219 

Looking upwards the eye is attracted by a quaint little 
Byzantine chapel, niched in the side of the castle-rock at 
a considerable height above the town, in a position 
difficult of access. Berat is a better looking place than 
any we had seen since leaving Monastir ; many of the 
wooden houses have an imposing exterior, and a cleanly 
habitable look about them. A splendid sight awaited 
us as we passed through the city, for at the end of the 
gorge in which it lies appeared the vast flank of Mount 
Tomohr, closing the vista at a few miles' distance, and 
flushed with rose-tints by the setting sun. This mountain, 
which when seen thus from the west is no longer triple- 
crested, but strongly resembles the Acro-Corinth, is said 
to have perpetual snow upon it ; and, as a proof of this, 
we had frozen snow brought to us as a substitute for ice 
at our meals. This luxury is almost one of the neces- 
saries of life, for the water-supply of the lower town 
seems to be entirely derived from the turbid river, and 
the drinking-water is consequently so full of sediment as 
to be hardly palatable without some admixture. 

The khan at which we lodged occupied an agreeable 
position, overlooking the Usumi, from which a refreshing 
stream of cool air passed into our apartment. In the 
adjoining room, separated only from us by a thin parti- 
tion of laths with widely gaping interstices, was a large 
party of Gypsies, men, women, and children, who made 
merry with the violin and tambourine, to the accompani- 
ment of which they sang in nasal and squeaky tones. 
They were a merry set, and kept up their performance 
till late at night, and their instrumental music was by no 
means inharmonious. These wanderers are to be found 
in great numbers in Turkey. More interesting to us 
were the local chieftains from the country districts, whQ ' 
swept in and out of the courtyard during the day with 

Digitized by VjOOQrC 

220 Berat to Corfu, Chap. X. 

their escorts of mounted retainers, gaily dressed, and 
betraying haughtiness in their countenances and restless- 
ness in their movements. Their appearance suggested 
to the imagination a lively picture of the state of things 
when the country was only half-subdued, in which clan- 
feeling was the first motive to action, and feuds were 
universally rife. The condition of Albania at this period 
is well described by Mr. Finlay in a passage relating to 
that country in his * History of the Greek Revolution.* ^ 

" The peculiarities of Albanian society," he says, " are most marked 
in the manner of life among those who are the proprietors of the soil* 
All of this class con^der that they are bom to carry arms. The great 
landlords are captains and leaders ; the peasant proprietors are soldiers 
or brigands. Landlords, whether large or small, possess flocks, which 
supply them with milk, cheese, and wool; olive-trees, which flunish 
them with olives and oil ; and ftiiit-trees, which enable them to vary 
their diet Every landlord who was rich enough to lay up consider- 
able supplies in his storehouse, expended them in maintaining as many 
armed followers as possible ; and if his relations were numerous, and his 
phara or clan warlike, he became a chieftain of some political im- 
portance. Every Albanian who can avoid working for his livelihood 
goes constantly armed, so that whenever the central authority was 
weak, bloody feuds were prevalent And at the conunencement of the 
present century, anarchy appeared to be the nonnal condition of 
Albanian society. Gueghs, Tosks, tribes, septs, pharas, towns, and 
villages, were engaged in unceasing hostilities ; open wars were waged, 
and extensive alliances were formed, in defiance of the power of the 
Pashas, and of the authority of the Sultan. 

'^ Most of the towns were divided into clusters of houses called 
makhalas, generally separated from one another by ravines. Each 
makhala was inhabited by a phara, which was a social division resem- 
bling a clan, but usually smaller. The warlike habits of the Albanians 
were displayed even in their town life. Large houses stood apart, 
surrounded by walled enclosures flanked by small towers. Within 
these feeble imitations of feudal castles there was always a well-stocked 
magazine of provisions. Richly caparisoned steeds occupied the court 
during the day; lean, muscular, and greedy-eyed soldiers, covered with 

' VoL i. pp. 44, 4$. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. X. Its Castle. 22 1 

embroidered dresses and ornamented arms, lounged at the gate; and, 
from an open gallery the proprietor watched the movements of his 
neighbours, smoking his long tchibouk anudst his select friends. The 
wealthy chieftain lived like his warlike followers. His only luxuries 
were more splendid arms, finer horses, and a longer pipe. His pride 
was in a numerous band of well-armed attendants." 

The population of Berat is reckoned at 6500, the 
greater proportion of whom are Mahometan Tosks ; 
the rest are Christian Albanians, Wallachians, and Bul^ 
garians, all belonging to the Greek Church. The history 
of the name Berat is instructive. It is a corruption of 
the Slavonic Beligrad (Belgrade), which signifies "white 
or beautiful castle," and this again, according to Schafa- 
rik,* is nothing but a literal translation of the earlier 
Byzantine name Pulcheriopolis. The castle, to which 
we ascended in the morning, is entirely occupied by 
Christians, with the exception of a few Turkish soldiers, 
who serve to guard the powder-magazine ; probably 
because here, as at Ochrida, the Bishop's palace is situ- 
ated in this, the oldest part of the city. On our way up 
we met the Bishop himself, clothed in purple robes, and 
mounted on a donkey. The castle is defended by two 
circuits of walls, now in ruins : at the summit stands a 
mosque and broken minaret, which are conspicuous ob- 
jects from the plain below ; and at the south-west angle, 
leading down to the river, is a covered stone staircase, 
also partly ruined, similar to one of the same kind at 
Nauplia in the Morea. Within the precincts there is an 
excellent cistern of pure water. In the outer wall, near 
the gateway, are remains of Hellenic masonry, which pro- 
bably mark the site of the ancient Antipatria.' The view 
to the north is striking, comprehending the plain, inter- 

• * Slawische Alterthiimer,' iL p. 227. 

• Leake, 'Northern Greece,' i. p. 361, 

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222 Berat to Corfu. Chap. X.. 

sected by the river, and diversified here and there by 
groves of trees, beyond which in the extreme distance 
rise the high serrated mountains of Croia. After what 
we had heard of the upper town being occupied by Chris- 
tians, I was surprised, in descending, at meeting on the 
steep path, which forms the approach, a woman on horse- 
back, wearing the close veil and black cloak, the usual 
costume of Mahometan women in these regions ; but I 
was informed of the curious fact, that the Christian 
women in this place have adopted Mahometan dress. 

The castle of Berat is celebrated in history as the 
scene of an important siege conducted by Scanderbeg, 
against whom it was defended by the Turks, at the com- 
mencement of the reign of Mahomet 11. Emboldened 
by a succession of victories over his opponents, the 
Albanian hero resolved to make himself master of that 
important position. Accordingly he invested it closely, 
at the same time arousing the ardour of his followers by 
reminding them of the famous defence of the Servian 
Belgrade by his great contemporary Hunniades. At last 
the place was reduced to such straits, that its garrison 
were forced to agree to a surrender, unless relieved within 
sixteen days. But before that period had expired, the 
Turkish General Sewali appeared with a large force in 
the plain to the north of the city, and there gave battle 
to the besiegers. After a severe struggle, Scanderbeg was 
defeated with the loss of Scxx) of his best troops, and 
of Musachi, one of his firmest friends and ablest captains. 
On this occasion, his biographer tells us,* from vexation 
at his ill-sucess, his under-lip split open and spurted 
blood, which used to be the case whenever he was vio- 
lently excited in the council or the camp : and when he 

* Barleti of Scodra, * De Vita et Gestis Scanderbcgi,* p. 142. 

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Chap. X. Malaria Fever. 223 

saw the Turks cutting off the heads of his dead com- 
rades on the field, he gave orders to 7000 of his men, 
notwithstanding the presence of the victorious enemy, to 
go and bury the slain at all hazards. The effect of this 
repulse, however, was but temporary, for before long we 
find Scanderbeg pursuing his victorious career elsewhere. 
At Berat the Turkish menzil or post-system comes to 
an end ; in consequence of which, as we could find no 
other means of transit, we were forced to impress horses 
from the country. In order to do this, we had to pay a 
visit to the Pasha to show him our firman. His name 
was Abdurrahman, and he was a young and heavy- 
looking Osmanli. Seated on the divan near him was 
a white-turbaned mollah, a personage who may often be 
met with in the audience chamber of a pasha. In the 
centre of this room stood a table, an unusual article 
of European furniture, and on it were ranged conical 
rifle bullets of various sizes. After the usual cigarettes 
and coffee^ and an interchange of compliments, he offered 
us guards, which we declined, but accepted the services 
of one of his retinue, as a guide to conduct us over the 
wild and intricate pass that leads to Tepelen. This man 
was a gay and vain Albanian, but lively and good- 
humoured. Poor fellow ! he was suffering from malaria 
fever, which made him very low-spirited at times ; but 
we relieved him considerably by doses of quinine, so that 
he expressed a fervent wish that it was to be found in 
Albania. This malady is a terrible scourge in many 
parts of Turkey : the man who accompanied our horses 
from Salonica to Monastir, was so ill with it that some- 
times he could hardly ride, and moaned piteously ; and 
in other places we saw persons in the khans miserably ill, 
and obtaining apparently no relief from the treatment of 
the native doctors. It is to the prevalence of this com- 

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224 Berat to Corfu, Chap. X. 

plaint that Hahn attributes the very small number of 
travellers that venture into Central Albania ; he himself 
had a bad attack of it, and Leake was obliged to turn 
back, and leave the country unvisited. In the afternoon 
our horses arrived, accompanied by their owners, two of 
whom were Wallachs, of which nation a considerable 
number lead an agricultural life in the neighbourhood of 
Berat. In this they differ from their countrymen of the 
Pindus, who are settled at the foot of the passes which , 
lead from Yanina to the plains of Thessaly, and mono- 
polize the carrying trade of that part of Turkey. Here 
they are called Rumuni or Romans, which is the only 
national name that they acknowledge, that of Wallach 
having been given them by foreigners. Their language 
is a corruption of Latin, very similar to Italian in its 
pronunciation, and this they speak among themselves, 
though they are compelled in self-defence to know the 
Albanian also. We proceeded southwards along a tri- 
butary of the Usumi, to which our guide gave the name 
of Planasnik, up a clayey valley, from various parts of 
which rose remarkable pyramidal heights. Late at night 
we found ourselves scrambling up a steep mountain side, 
on which we lost our way, and were obliged to dismount 
and lead our horses as well as we could, until at last, 
after wandering into a village by mistake, alarming the 
dogs and awaking the inhabitants, we reached a country- 
house of the Bey of Tepelen, to which the Pasha had 
ordered us to be conducted. In the absence of the Bey 
we were entertained by his cousin — a sort of country 
cousin, or humble relation, he appeared — and for one 
night we slept on cushions instead of hay. It was a 
small, neat, and solidly-built residence, situated at a great 
height above the valley : one-half of it was shut off from 
the rest, and appropriated to the Bey's harem ; the room 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. X. Slavonic Names. 225 

on the other side, in which we were lodged, was large 
and clean, garnished round the walls with long guns, and 
lighted by very small apertures for windows. 

The village in the neighbourhood of this place was 
called Jabokika, a name derived from jabuka, the Sla- 
vonic for " an apple." The frequent occurrence of Sla- 
vonic names throughout Albania (we have just noticed 
Berat as an instance of this, and Goritza and Flanasnik 
are others) points to the time when a large Slavonic 
element existed in this country. Nevertheless at the 
present time this element in the population has entirely 
disappeared, and while Wallachs are found in several 
districts, we look in vain for Bulgarians. For the ex- 
planation of this phenomenon we are left altogether to 
conjecture ; and though the probability is that here, as 
in Greece, the Bulgarian settlers were after a time assimi- 
lated by the earlier inhabitants of the land, yet in this 
case the problem is a more difficult one. For whereas 
the superiority of the Greek race, both in respect of 
intellectual power and of national institutions, rendered 
it comparatively an easy task for them to hellenizc 
others ; the Albanians, on the other hand, were not so 
advanced in either of these respects, when compared 
with the Slavonic peoples, as to account for their over- 
powering their nationality, and amalgamating them with 
themselves. Yet this would seem to have been the case, 
for that they were either exterminated or expelled there 
is no reason to believe. 

The track which led from this mountain eyrie to the 
top of the pass was, as our Albanian companion 
described it in delightful Greek, "all ups and downs 
and chokefuU of stones" i^Ko av^<f>opo KaT7]<f)opo koI 
rye/iaTo airo irerpai^). The ridge bears the name of 
Glava. The view from the summit is strangely wild. 

VOL. I. Q 

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226 Berat to Corfu. Chap. X. 

Vast barren mountains rise in every direction, and on 
both sides of the pass sloping grey clayey hills are seen, 
seamed with watercourses; to the north some very 
distant mountains appear, even beyond those of Elbassan 
and Croia ; to the south the eye rests here and there on 
scattered stone houses, scarcely distinguishable in colour 
from the soil on which they rest, and showing the wild 
life of the inhabitants by their resemblance to fortresses, 
the windows being few and high up in the building; 
to the west we obtained our first glimpse of the Adriatic 
After a long and bad descent, about midday we reached 
a khan, pleasantly situated in the midst of plane trees, 
by the side of the stream of the Luftinia, a tributary 
of the Viosa. The building itself was of solid construc- 
tion, but its occupants were clad in rags, and showed 
sig^s of great poverty ; the same was the case with the 
people whom we met at very rare intervals as we con- 
tinued our course down the valley ; and this, even more 
than the dreariness of the scenery, impressed us with 
a strong feeling of loneliness and desolation during this 
part of our journey. At the distance of three hours 
from the khan we reached the banks of the Viosa, the 
largest and swiftest river of Albania — " Laos, fierce and 
wide," as Byron calls it — which flows in a north-western 
direction. The path which we followed from this point 
along the river side was the only place in our whole 
journey which could really be called dangerous. In 
some places it was carried along the edge of a precipice 
nearly overhanging the water, and at some of the turnings 
the ground was so much broken away that the horses 
had difficulty in finding any footing. Fortunately we 
passed it before nightfall, and forded the river just below 
Tepelen. The process of fording was not altogether 
easy, owing to the swift current of the stream; the 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

<:hap. X. TepeletL ttj 

l^aggage horse required to be supported across by our 
four attendants, two of them keeping him up on either 
side. The distance from Berat is twelve or thirteen 

Having on a former occasion visited Yanina, the centre 
of AH Pasha's power, and the island in the lake, where 
he met his death, we were naturally anxious to see Te- 
pelen, his birthplace and favourite residence. It was a 
fortified city of small extent, occupying a triangular 
plateau which runs out from the foot of a steep and 
lofty mountain, so that its base is washed by the Viosa. 
The fortifications, which follow the line of the cliffs in 
a rude triangle, on one side overhang this river, on 
another the Bendscha, a smaller stream, which flows into 
it. Though part of them are ruined and the battlements 
broken, yet they are well and strongly built, and the 
angles are defended by polygonal towers. The interior 
is a place in which to moralise over the fall of human 
greatness. Hardly one house is inhabited, and a scene 
of more blank desolation can scarcely be conceived, for 
the ruins being comparatively new, are unrelieved by 
weeds and creepers, and have nothing of the venerable 
look which time bestows. At the angle which overlooks 
the junction of the rivers is All's palace, the scene of all 
the magnificence and display which Byron describes in 
^ Childe Harold.' Now the arched halls are bare, — except 
here and there, where the frescoes still remain upon the 
walls, — and all is ruinous and dismantled, A few white- 
kilted Albanians were grouped upon the western wall, 
but elsewhere we rambled about without meeting a souL 
The surrounding views are in harmony with this scene of 
destruction,— above, huge, wild mountain heights, as 
barren as can be imagined ; below, the shingly riverbeds, 
through which in winter the water must rush in an 

Q 2 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

228 Berat to Corfu, Chap. X, 

immense volume, and the piers of a fine bridge which 
has been destroyed by the river. On one occasion, we 
were told, a ferry-boat was upset here with forty-five 
persons and three horses ; the latter swam ashore, but all 
the human beings perished. Outside the walls, close to 
an aqueduct, which conveyed water into the city from 
the mountain side, is a small Albanian village of fifty 
families, who now form the entire population of the place. 
It is at first sight extraordinary that a barbarous chief- 
tain like Ali should have so much attracted the attention 
of Europe, and have become an important historical 
personage ; and it would be curious to trace how much 
of the interest which Englishmen have felt in him may 
be referred to Byron's visit, and the magnificent verses 
in which he has described it. But, if we put out of 
sight All's own character, a disgusting mixture of cruelty, 
perfidy, and selfishness, there is a strong romantic and 
dramatic element in his history. Still, ho doubt Mr. 
Finlay is right when he says, "that the reason why he 
has merited a place in history is, that circumstances 
caused him to be the herald of the Greek revolution." 

The road from Tepelen to Argyro-Castro follows the 
left bank of the Viosa as far as its junction with the 
Dryno. At this point we saw, on the opposite side of 
the valley, a deep gorge between lofty mountains, from 
which the Viosa emerges. This, which is now called 
Stena, was in old times the Fauces Antigonenses, near 
which Philip, son of Demetrius, who was defending the 
pass, was defeated in a great battle by the Romans. 
The Dryno, along the banks of which we ascended, is 
a clear rushing stream of green water, and, with the trees 
which clothe its steep banks in many places, presents 
some beautiful scenery. The mountains on the opposite 
side were terraced and cultivated below, but terminated 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. X. Argyro-Castro, 229 

above in bare grey ridges furrowed by gullies and water- 
courses. After about three hours we reached the khan of 
Su Bashi, hard by which a picturesque ivy-clad bridge 
of one steep arch spanned the stream. Here the head 
of the valley opens out into a plain of some size, running 
from north-west to south-east, on the western slopes of 
which stands the town of Argyro-Castro. The neighbour- 
hood appeared populous from the numerous villages 
upon the mountain sides which enclose it, but the ranges 
themselves resemble gigantic ridges of brown sand. The 
town, which is said to contain 10,000 people, has a scat- 
tered look from a distance, but as you approach its 
appearance is striking, as it is situated partly on spurs of 
the mountains running into the plain, partly on the semi- 
circular slopes which intervene between them. Many 
of the houses here are of stone, and strongly built, 
having been intended to serve as private fortresses, for 
the system of vendetta raged nowhere more furiously 
than here. Though it has ceased now, it even survived 
the time of Ali Pasha, who in other places was so 
successful in putting down the local feuds and local 
chieftains, that he may be said to have first brought 
Albania into subjection to the Porte. The inhabitants 
of these large dwellings form the nobility of the district, 
and are the proprietors of the farms which are scattered 
over the plain. 

At this place we meet with a new element in the popu- 
lation. To the northward of Argyro-Castro the inha- 
bitants, as we have seen, are almost entirely of the 
Albanian race ; to the south, however, Greeks are found 
in considerable numbers, especially in the more inland 
districts. Even if we had not heard the Greek language 
spoken all round us at the khan, there was no mistaking 
the quick, lively, inquisitive people whom we met. Strange 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

23a Berat to Corfu. Chap. X^ 

to say, the line of demarcation runs across the centre of 
the plain, and is so sharply drawn that the northern half 
is Albanian, and the southern Greek, and the two popu- 
lations do not intermingle with one another. The city 
itself is inhabited by Albanians, and the Greeks who are 
found there are regarded as strangers. The women here 
wear a white veil or towel, wound round the head, and 
hanging down behind. The morning after pur arrival^ 
having sent our dragoman to the Pasha to ask for horses, 
we thought it right to pay him a visit in his serai, which 
is situated within the castle built by Ali on the highest 
of the spurs on which the town is placed. From this^ 
castle the people of the neighbourhood seem usually to 
call the place "the Castro" (to Kcurrpo), omitting the first 
part of the name, as Constantinople is called " the city." 
The fortifications here, as elsewhere, are dismantled ; the 
Pasha has a few guards in his service, but with the excep- 
tion of a very few small bodies of this kind there is no 
military force nearer than Scodra or Monastir, to main- 
tain the authority of the Turkish Government throughout 
Central Albania. He received us with profuse civilities, 
and complained of our not having taken up our abode 
with him, instead of going to the khan. It is quite pos- 
sible for an English traveller, especially when provided 
with a firman, to be entertained in state at the houses of 
the Turkish dignitaries ; but, if he is wise, he will content 
himself with a humbler style of travelling, for otherwise 
he will lose much time in not being his own master ; he 
will greatly increase his expenses, from the numerous 
presents he is expected to make to the great man's 
servants ; and last, not least, he will have far fewer 
opportunities of intercourse with the people of the 

The Pasha offered to provide us either with horses or 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. X, Pass of Mount Sopotu 23 1 

mules, but recommended the latter, on account of the 
steepness of the road over Mount Sopoti, which intervenes 
between this place and Delvino. We followed his 
advice, and, mounted on these, made our way up a 
blinding pass, partly through a river bed, partly among 
fragments of broken limestone, over the mountains which 
rise behind the town. When at last we reached the 
summit, we obtained an extensive view, though the 
atmosphere was hazy, over the level country below, 
the lake of Butrinto lying close to the sea, and the shores 
and headlands of Corfu, divided from the mainland by a 
winding strait, while to the right the mountains of 
Chimara rose conspicuous. A rugged zigfzag path along 
the mountain side brought us, after a steep descent of 
some hours, to a grove of chestnut and other trees, which 
afforded most grateful shade. Below this was a foun-^ 
tain, where we saw a scene that reminded us of patri- 
archal times ; a number of women from a neighbouring 
village, picturesquely dressed in the costume of the country, 
with high head-dresses, white veils, and the hair in large 
braids at the sides of the face, were disputing with some 
men of another village about the right of drawing water ; 
and they upheld their rights manfully. From thence 
again we descended through more cultivated country to 
Delvino, a scattered and somewhat decayed town, pret- 
tily situated on verdant slopes, in the midst of plane-trees 
and running streams. 

The last day of our journey was occupied partly in 
wading for several hours through streams and marshes, 
by the side of the river Vistritza, which flows into the 
lake of Butrinto, partly in making a detour to avoid 
the lake, over low hills, thickly covered with thorn- 
bushes, and thistles, often rising to the height of ten feet. 
The palluria, which grows all about here, is a most for- 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

232 Berat to Corfu, Chap. X. 

midable bush, as it is covered all over with tenacious 
hooked prickles ; it is said that if a sheep gets regularly- 
entangled in it, it can never be extricated. The river is 
bordered throughout a great part of its course by rich 
woods of alder and willow, the shade of which, together 
with the abundance of water, was refreshing and pleasant ; 
occasionally, however, the watercourses were worn into 
holes, which had an awkwardly adhesive bottom. In 
one of these our dragoman's horse lost his footing and sub- 
sided into a mud bath, in which his rider and the saddle- 
bags partially shared. Further on, when we reached the 
higher ground, we found a village called Kinurio, or New- 
place, where we halted for some little time. The appear- 
ance of the people whom we met in these parts bordering 
on the coast, and especially the straw hats they wore, 
were decidedly of an Ionian character, and betrayed the 
influence of the neighbouring islands. The farms, how- 
ever, as elsewhere in Albania, are built with a view to 
defence, being massively constructed of stone, with no 
, windows in the lower portion, and those above of small 
dimensions. An aperture also appears sometimes above 
the entrance, opening downwards from a projecting piece 
of masonry, as in feudal castles, whereby communication 
I may be held with a visitor before admittance, and some- 
; thing warm dropped upon him if need be. We proceeded 
^Ibr some distance through thick undergrowth, but, not- 
withstanding the excellence of the cover, we saw no 
game. Towards evening we arrived at a village called 
Livari, a corruption, it is thought, of Vivarium, from the 
fisheries in the lake, which here finds an outlet into 
the sea by means of a river. By the people of the place 
the lake is also called Botdoporos, or Oxford. At Corfu 
the village is known as Butrinto or Vutzindro, but in the 
country itself we found these names unknown, a source 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. X. Departure for Corfu. 233 

of confusion which caused us much difficulty. On the 
opposite side of the water is a rocky height, with remains 
of walls, which mark the site of the ancient Buthrotum, 
the celsam Buihroti urbem of Virgil. 

As we were embarking to cross to Corfu, I said to a 
Turkish official who was standing by, "Now we are 
leaving Turkey." " Yes," he replied, " now you are going 
to Europe." He spoke the truth ; Turkey has no claim 
to be reckoned among European nations. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

( 234 ) 




Journey in 1865 — Coast of Dalmatia — Bocche di Cattaro — Austrian 
Defences — Views of the Black Mountain — Cattaro — The Scala — 
Approach to Montenegro — Niegush — Laborious Agriculture — Monte- 
n^rin Dress — Destruction of Forests — Mount Lovchen — Plain of 
Cetinj^ — History of Montenegro — The Vladika or Prince-Bishop — 
Sicilian Vespers of Monten^^ro — Episode of Stephen the Little — The 
Two Last Vladikas. 

The next opportunity which we had of visiting Turkey- 
was in the summer of 1865. On this occasion we deter- 
mined to cross the country from the Adriatic to the 
iEgean by a more northerly route than we had hitherto 
taken, passing through Montenegro and the border tribes 
of independent Albanians, and then by one of the upper 
passes of the Scardus range and the valley of the Vardar 
to Salonica. It promised to be an interesting journey, 
from the important geographical features of the country, 
the remarkable cities of the interior, and the variety of 
races to be seen on the way ; but the information to be 
had was very scanty. On Montenegro no doubt much 
had been written, but of the greater part of the remainder 
of the route, as far as I could discover, only one account 
had been published, viz., that of Dr. Grisebach, the cele- 
brated German botanist, who crossed this part of Turkey, 
though in an opposite direction, in 1839.^ The fullness 

* Since the above was written, the 'Travels in Turkey in Europe,* of 
Miss Mackenzie and Miss Irby, has been published ; the route taken by 
those adventurous and accomplished ladies intersects mine at several points. 
Some other parts have been described by the French geographer Ami 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. XI. Bocche di Cattaro, ' 235 

and clearness of his account left nothing to be desired for 
the parts which he saw, though even there, from the state 
of things which he described, we were prepared to find 
that great changes had taken place since his time ; but 
in several places the route which we had marked out 
diverged from his, and here we had to look forward to 
getting information on the spot. In order to reach our 
starting-point we made our way from England to Trieste, 
where we had appointed our old dragoman from Con- 
stantinople to meet us, and from thence coasted along 
Dalmatia, stopping to see the principal cities, such as 
Zara, Spalato, and Ragusa, and threading the numerous 
islands which fringe its shores, until on the afternoon of 
the 1 8th of July we found ourselves rounding the Punto 
d'Ostro, the headland which protects the entrance of the 
Bocche di Cattaro. 

The piece of water that bears this name is a narrow 
winding inlet, resembling rather a Norwegian fiord than 
any of the harbours of Southern Europe. Its length is 
computed at 24 miles, and it opens out from time to 
time into bays somewhat less than a mile across, while 
in the narrowest parts it may be a quarter of a mile 
in breadth. The whole of the seaboard is in the hands 
of Austria, except one small strip of the northern shore, 
which belongs to Turkey, a green tract of low land in the 
recesses of the first bay, which might form a sort of out- 
let for the Herzegovina, if the Turks had taken the 
trouble to make a port there. A little way beyond this 
is the town of Castelnuovo, where we landed a number 
of Austrian officers — agreeable men, as they usually are 
— who had been our fellow-passengers, together with a 
number of Dalmatian gentlemen bound for Cattaro, two 
young Albanians from Berat, who had been studying at 
a college in Trieste, and a young Montenegrin, dressed 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

236 Montenegro. Chap. XL 

in the uniform of one of the French Lyc^es, where he was 
at school, who was returning to his native country on a 
visit, together with a Parisian friend, whom he had in- 
duced to accompany him. After the departure of the 
Austrians, the Montenegrin became more communica- 
tive, and spoke depreciatingly of the numerous Austrian 
forts which guard the entrance to the Bocche, saying 
that they could stand but a very short time before a few 
French or English ships. About this, however, I have 
considerable doubt, as the Austrians are good engineers, 
and the forts with which the whole coast of Dalmatia 
bristles are generally strong. Indeed this very fact, and 
the great number of soldiers that are stationed in this 
district, show how vulnerable the Austrian government 
feels itself to be in this quarter. Of the state of political 
feeling in these parts I shall have to speak further on, 
but, if the doctrine of natural boundaries is worth any- 
thing, the position of a country which for some hundreds 
of miles possesses the seaboard of a great neighbouring 
country is wholly indefensible, particularly when this is 
backed up, as it is in Dalmatia, by an extensive system 
of prohibitive duties, which prevents the adjoining pro- 
vinces of Bosnia, the Herzegovina, &c., from having any 
outlet for their exports. It has been cleverly said that 
Dalmatia without Bosnia is a face without a head ; the 
converse also is true, that Bosnia without Dalmatia is a 
head without a face. In the case of a general European 
war, nothing could be more likely than that this point 
should be attacked, either by some power desiring to 
rectify the map of Europe, or by some assertor of the 
cause of the Southern Slavonians ; and if that should 
happen, it is as probable as not that Austria by some 
false move would neutralize all the benefit that had been 
gained by years of preparation. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. XI. The Black Mountain, 237 

The entrance of the Bocche, and the first bays through 
which you pass, are bounded at the sides by sloping 
hills, partly covered by vineyards and brushwood, and in 
general there is more vegetation than is commonly seen 
on the coasts and islands of Dalmatia. In the back- 
ground at some distance off rise the wild mountains, 
conspicuous among which from many turns in the wind- 
ing strait is the lofty peak of Lovchen, the highest sum- 
mit in these parts, and, as we shall see, almost a sacred 
spot As we approach nearer to these, the inlet divides 
into two branches, and at the point of separation lies the 
town of Perasto, in a picturesque position, running up 
the mountain side from the water's edge, and adorned 
with elegant campaniles and numerous trees interspersed 
among the houses. Just off the point lie two islets, one 
of which is occupied by a small fort, the other by a 
church, the tower of which and a campanile hard by are 
crowned by green metal domes, which have a very Rus- 
sian aspect. The branch which we followed from this 
point runs for some little distance due east, and then, 
turning at right angles, bends to the south, forming the 
Bay of Cattaro. The scenery of this part is of the wildest 
description. On both sides are lofty mountains ; but those 
towards Montenegro rise very steeply to the height of 
4000 and 5000 feet, in precipices of a whitish-gray colour, 
with bold outlines, though they are but little broken into 
sharp peaks. They are utterly bare, except here and 
there on the slopes of some of the higher summits, where 
patches of dark forest are seen, from which, when they 
were more general, the Black Mountain got its name. It 
was strange to think that on the other side of these, and 
in the heart of the wild mountains, a civilized district was 
to be found. At the foot of these precipices, and formed 
apparently from their debris, is a narrow strip of vegetation, 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

238 Montenegro. Chap. XI. 

and at many points along the shore flourishing villages 
appeared This part belongs to Austria. When I asked 
the young Montenegrin where was the boundary-line 
between the Austrian and Montenegrin territory, he 
pointed significantly enough to the place where vegeta- 
tion ceased and the steep rocks began to rise. At the 
head of the gulf is a sloping cultivated valley, and on 
the left as you approach, jammed in between the sea and 
the foot of a buttress of rock, which here projects from 
the mountain side, lies Cattaro, surmounted at a height 
of 900 feet by a Venetian castle. From this, lines of 
walls descend to the sea in innumerable angles, following 
the broken edges of the cliff on both sides in the most 
curious manner, while, between these, other interior walls 
run across in different directions in extremely steep posi- 
tions. By the side of this, along the face of the preci- 
pices, may be traced the zigzags of the famous Scala of 
Cattar o, the ladder of Montenegro. 

Over the sea-gate of the city stands the Lion of St. 
Mark, giving evidence of the days **when Venice was a 
queen with an unequalled dower," for nowhere is her 
former influence more clearly traceable than along this 
coast, where Ragusa is the only place that maintained 
its independence against her. The same thing is testified 
by the numerous specimens of Venetian palatial archi- 
tecture which attract the eye as you pass through the 
streets — white marble balconies, balustrades and win- 
dows with twisted pillars, or otherwise richly and deli- 
cately ornamented. The city itself, which is larger than 

kappearsfromJhe_seaj^^ and 

^x^ssTveljTliarrow streets,^ the effect of which is that 
thS^TrhardlyiLny circulation of air, and the atmosphere 
is close and oppressive. Add to this its position at the 
foot of a steep cliff facing the west, and it may easily be 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. XL Scala of Catiaro, 239 

supposed that Cattaro is anything but an agreeable 
residence in the month of July. After a terribly hot 
night we were thankful to escape at an early hour, and, 
after threading the tortuous streets, found the horses 
which we had hired to take us to Cetinj6, the capital of 
Montenegro, waiting for us outside the land-gate. Here, 
as in all the other Dalmatian towns, in consequence of 
the narrowness of the streets and their being universally 
paved with flags, no beasts of burden are allowed to 
come within the walls. \ 

In a few minutes we reached the foot of the Scala, and ) 
b^jan to ascend its zigzags. It is in every respect a 
most remarkable pass, from the steepness of the moun- 
tain-wall, and the narrowness of the sort of gully in 
which it lies, at the side of the buttress of rock on which 
stands the castle of Cattaro. It resembles the Gemmi 
more than any other of the Swiss passes, but is far better 
engineered and more carefully built than that rough 
road. On our way we met some of the Montenegrins, 
who wore rather a poverty-stricken appearance, on their 
way to the town with milk and other saleable articles. 
The commercial relations of the Cattarese and Monte- 
negrins seem to be regarded from somewhat different 
points of view by the two peoples. When we were talk- 
ing to the Austrian officers on board the steamer about 
Montenegro, one of them observed, "Ah ! poor things, 
they lead a hard life: it is lucky for them they have 
a market at Cattaro to sell their products in ; if it were 
not for that, they would be starved." At Cetinj6, on the 
other hand, we heard the following story. Not long ago, 
when some political refugees from Montenegro, — one of 
whom murdered the late Prince, Danilo, — had taken up 
their quarters at Cattaro, the present prince, Nicolas, 
sent to demand their removal. No notice being taken of 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

240 Montenegro. Chap. XI. 

this, recourse was had to another mode of action. The 
Prince requested his people — and his request is of equal 
force with a law — that they should take no provisions 
into the town for several days. The consequence was 
that the place was starved ; and when the authorities 
sent to expostulate, and were told in return . that the 
exiles must be removed, they professed themselves ready 
to do anything that was wished, provided they might 
have food ; so the obnoxious persons were sent to Zara, 
where they are still. 

During the first part of the ascent our views over the 
Bocche did not extend beyond Perastb, but these were 
extremely pretty. The water was perfectly smooth, ex- 
cept where a light breeze passed like a warm breath over 
its glassy surface ; little promontories, which from below 
had hardly been seen, now came out distinctly to view ; 
and when the sunlight reached the level of the bay, the 
villages which fringed the shore, with their tall campa- 
niles, formed conspicuous objects in the scene. For the 
first thousand feet the steps of the ladder had been so 
steep, that when we were above the level of the Venetian 
castle, we could look right down into the town itself; 
higher up, where the ascent was more gradual, and the 
area wider over which the zigzags extended, one could 
see them, like a loose rope, flung about the mountain 
side below us, and at last we reached a point where 
the more distant bays of the Bocche came in view, and the 
broad expanse of the Adriatic reaching far away to the 
west. After an hour and twenty minutes we found our- 
selves at the summit of the Scala, and then entered on a 
rugged mountain-path, at the top of which is the frontier. 
Just as we entered the territory of the Black Mountain, 
we overtook the young Montenegrin, together with his 
Parisian friend, whose polished leather boots looked 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. XI. Approach to Montenegro. 241 

rather out of place in this wilderness of rocks. They 
were followed by a woman carrying a heavy trunk, which 
she did good-humouredly enough: but though female 
porterage is the custom of the country, there was some- 
thing unpleasant in seeing a box marked with a number , 
of European luggage-labels on a woman's back. The 
Montenegrin was mounted on a handsome pony with 
elaborate trappings, which had evidently been sent to 
meet him ; this, together with his foreign education, led 
us to conjecture that he must be of some consequence in 
liis country, and we afterwards found that he was a 
cousin of the Prince, and son of Voyvode Mattanovitch, 
one of the chief men in Montenegro. He is not the first 
of his countrymen that has been sent abroad for instruc- 
tion ; and, among others, the Prince himself studied at 
Paris : but, on the whole, the experiment has succeeded 
but doubtfully, as one or two have since joined the 
Austrian service in preference to a retired life within 
their own narrow boundaries. It is a difficult question, 
for at home they can get no education that is worth the 
name. Perhaps the most sensible suggestion was one 
which I heard at Cetinj6, viz., that only those should be 
educated abroad who were intended for some special 
office in the State, but that they should provide them- 
selves in this way with at least a good lawyer, a good 
tactician, and a good financier. 

From the frontier we descended into a stony basin in 
the midst of the bare grey mountains, which is well culti- 
vated in parts ; maize, oats, and barley being grown, and 
a great quantity of potatoes, which are largely raised in 
Montenegro, though hardly known in the surrounding 
countries. But the most remarkable thing (and it is 
at the same time a striking proof of the industry of the 
natives) was the way in which every available inch of 

VOL. L ^ 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

242 Montenegro. Chap. xr. 

ground had been turned to account. Cuplike hollows 
had everywhere been scooped out in the mountain sides 
and carefully cleared of stones, leaving a beautiful black 
soil, in which tiny crops were grown ; and their sides were 
built round and banked up to prevent stones from falling^ 
in, and probably also because in this way they collect 
more moisture. In this valley lies the village of Ni^gush, 
where we stopped an hour at a little wayside inn to rest 
our horses. The houses here, and universally in Monte- 
negro, are built of stone, thus forming a marked contrast 
to the wooden buildings which are so characteristic of 
Turkey: there were also two stone churches, unpre- 
tending edifices, hardly distinguishable from the secular 
buildings except by the cross which surmounts them ; and 
a new school was in process of erection. At this place 
we saw our first group of Montenegrins ; for a great 
number had assembled to welcome our young com- 
panion, many of them probably being his relations, as. 
the present royal family came from Ni6gush, to which 
place they had migrated at an earlier period from the 
Herzegovina. They were fine, tall, muscular men, with 
a grand independent bearing ; and though their belts were 
full of pistols and yataghans, they had nothing of the 
wild and fierce look to which we were accustomed among 
the Albanians. One of them had the medal of Grahova, 
the last great battle in which they defeated the Turks \. 
two others were shown to belong to the National Guard 
by their wearing on their caps the arms of Montenegro 
in silver, the lion and double eagle, the original emblems 
of Servia, from which country they have inherited it, as 
its rightful representatives. The handsome Montenegrin 
dress was well represented among them. It consists of a 
long white cloth coat with sleeves, reaching nearly to the 
knees and open in front ; an ornamented red waistcoat^ 

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Chap. XI. Montenegrin Dress. 243 

and jacket of the same colour ; a thick red sash, and belt 
for arms ; full blue trousers down to the knee, and white 
gaiters below, while the ankle is covered by a thick 
worked sock, and the foot by a shoe of hide, fastened by 
innumerable cords, which run across up to the instep. 
This is the full dress, but the waistcoat, coat, and jacket, 
are seldom worn together. The cap is peculiar, and has 
a symbolism attached to it by the people. Its shape is 
round, with a flat crown, and it is covered with black, 
except the top, which is crimson, with a star and other 
ornaments in gold in one corner. The symbolism was 
thus explained to me at Cetinj6 by the Prince's Secretary, 
who took off the cap of one of the senators who was sit- 
ting near us, for the purpose. "This black," he said, 
pointing to the band that ran round it, "is worn in 
mourning for the kingdom of Servia, and the golden 
ornaments in the corner of the crown signify our suc- 
cesses over the Turks, and the freedom of Montenegro : 
when we have obtained perfect liberty for the Slavonians 
of Turkey, the whole of the crown will be ornamented in 
the same way." The priests in this country, or popes, as 
they are called, wear the same dress as the laity, and are 
only distinguishable from them by wearing a beard, while 
the others shave all except the moustache. One of them 
had joined our company outside the inn. 

Leaving Ni^gush we mounted on the other side of the 
valley in a southerly direction, until we found ourselves 
in the midst of dwarf beeches, which here in many places 
cover the mountain sides. After passing several flocks 
of small sheep and goats we reached the highest point of 
the road, where was a spring of water, a rare treasure in 
this thirsty land. In the neighbourhood of this the trees 
were being felled by woodcutters ; when I afterwards 
noticed this to the Prince, and asked him whether the 

R 2 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

244 Montenegro. Chap. XL 

destruction of the forests did not tend still further, to 
diminish their supply of water, he replied that it was a 
cause of considerable anxiety to him, and that he did his 
best to stop the practice, but found great difficulty in 
doing so. It is a question of the very first importance 
in the southern countries of Europe, especially in Greece 
and Spain, how to restore the trees which have suffered 
from centuries of merciless devastation ; but as wood 
and water are mutually dependent on one another, the 
one requiring moisture, the other shade, their restoration 
will be a tedious process, even with care and the use of 
artificial appliances. Yet until this is done the progress 
of those countries will be materially retarded. As we 
descended on the other side of the pass a superb view 
opened out before us. In the foreground was a succession 
of broken limestone ranges ; beyond these, to the south- 
east, the wide blue expanse of the Lake of Scodra, and 
at its head a level plain, intersected by the stream of the 
Moratza, and bounded by the lofty snow-capped moun- 
tains of North Albania : to the south and south-west 
appeared some very striking peaks, the highest of which 
is called Rumia, being a continuation of the chain 
which passes through Montenegro, and separates the 
lake from the sea. Near to us, on our right, was 
the lofty beech-clad mountain of Lovchen, on whose 
summit is the chapel, conspicuo^is from all parts of the 
country, where Peter II., the last Vladika or Prince- 
Bishop, the predecessor of Danilo, lies buried. The 
young Montenegrin described to me how this remark- 
able man, at once a poet, a warrior, and an administrator, 
and one of the greatest benefactors of his country from 
the civilization and order which he introduced, used to 
pass days together in a tent on this romantic spot, 
writing poetry and con^muning with nature ; and so 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. XL Plain of Cetinj^. 245 

great was his affection for it that he expressed a wish 
that his body should rest there after death. 

The path continues to wind steeply down among 
the rocks, about which the sage plant grows in such 
quantities* as to fill the air with aromatic fragrance 
all around, until at last the narrow plain of Cetinjd 
appears below you — running north and south — about 
three miles long, and deeply sunk in the heart of 
the mountains, though itself 2472 feet above the 
sea. The rocky character of this whole district is 
illustrated by a strange legend in one of the popular 
songs of Montenegro, that when the Almighty was 
passing over the face of the earth to sow it with moun- 
tains, he chanced to let fall in this land the bag which 
contained the rocks, and the boulders rolling out covered 
the surface of the country." The town, which lies on the 
western side of it, not far from its southern end, is hardly 
seen until you are close to it ; we were apprized, how- 
ever, of our approach by the appearance of another 
relation of the Prince, an elaborately dressed youth 
mounted on a caracoling grey pony, who came along the 
plain to meet and greet our companion. But, in order 
to make what follows more intelligible, it may be well, 
before we enter the capital, to give a brief sketch of the 
history of the country up to the present time. 

The history of Montenegro as an independent state 
dates from the Battle of Cossova (A.D. 1 389), when the 
Servian kingdom was overthrown by the Turks under 
Sultan Amurath I. Previously to that time it had 
formed a part of that empire, and was governed by a 
local Ban ; but after the subjugation of Servia the Ban 
of that period, who was called Balcha, and had married 
the daughter of Lazar, the last Servian king, proclaimed 

* Cyprien Robert, 'Slaves de Turquie,* i. p. 116. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

246 Montenegro. Chap. XI. 

himself independent, and succeeded in maintaining him- 
self in freedom in his stronghold of the Black Mountain. 
Thenceforward this country became the representative of 
Servia among the Slavonic races, and from its defensible 
position formed a place of asylum for refugees from that 
kingdom and from the neighbouring districts. Its 
history may be conveniently divided into three periods : 
(i) from the Battle of Cossova to the union of the 
secular and ecclesiastical powers in the same person 
(A.D. 1 5 16): (2) from that event to the accession to 
power of the present reigning family, that of Ni^gush 
(A.D. 1697) : (3) the remaining period to the present day. 
During the first period the nation was ruled by the 
descendants of the first prince, Balcha, who received the 
family name of Tsemoivitch. The most distinguished 
personage of this race was Ivan, sumamed the Black, 
whose memory still lives among the people in a variety 
of legends. According to one of these he is not dead, 
but only sleeping, and is expected to return at some 
future time — like Arthur and other heroes of romance — 
for the salvation of his people. In his time the country 
was exposed to a series of violent attacks on the part of 
the Turks, who had previously been kept at bay by the 
successes of Scanderbeg in the neighbouring parts of 
Albania. After the death of that hero in 1467, the 
invaders began to press the Montenegrins hard ; and at 
last, after vainly endeavouring to obtain succours from 
Venice, Ivan found himself obliged to withdraw from 
Jabliak, the original capital, which was situated in the 
plain to the north of the Lake of Scodra, and to establish 
his head-quarters at Cetinj6 in the heart of the moun- 
tains. From that time to the present that place has 
continued to be the capital, and though it has on several 
occasions been captured by the Turks, yet they have 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. XI. History of Montenegro. 247 

almost always been forced speedily to evacuate it, for 
a barren and rocky country like Montenegro is almost 
impossible to hold, and the invaders have usually suffered 
severely in their retreat. Though the Venetians on this 
occasion refused to help the Prince of the Black Moun- 
tain, having just before concluded a treaty with Sultan 
Bajazet, yet they soon perceived the importance of an 
alliance with that hardy race, which might prove a 
barrier to arrest the westward progress of the Maho- 
metan power. Accordingly, in the course of time, 
intimate relations were entered into between them — a 
connection which continued, more or less, for a long 
period with mutual advantage : but the first fruits of it 
were highly injurious to the Montenegrins. George 
Tsemoivitch, the son and successor of Ivan, had married 
a Venetian lady of high rank ; and being discouraged by 
the continued advances of the Turks, at length yielded 
to the solicitations of his wife, and, after abdicating the 
supreme authority in his native country, retired to end 
his days in the midst of Venetian civilization and luxury. 
At the same time, many of the chief families left the 
Black Mountain, and the anarchy which ensued opened 
the way to the invader. 

It was at this period that the secular and ecclesiastical 
power was united in the hands of the same person, an 
arrangement which has continued almost to the present 
day. When the last prince of the house of Tsernoivitch 
left the country, German, the Vladika, or Bishop, re- 
fused to follow his example, and remained at his post. 
At the request of the people he undertook the adminis- 
tration of the civil government ; and though the offices 
thus combined could not become hereditary, as the 
bishops in the Eastern Church are never married, yet 
the system was perpetuated, and it was arranged that the 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

248 Montenegro, Chap. XL 

Vladika should be appointed either by popular election, 
or, as was afterwards the case, by the nomination of his- 
predecessor. The two centuries that succeeded witnessed 
a continual struggle with the Turks, and were a time of 
great depression for the Montenegrins ; for though from* 
time to time they obtained help from Venice, and were 
enabled to reassert their independence, yet their territory 
was frequently occupied by Turkish armies, and they 
were forced to pay tribute to the Sultan. During this 
period many Montenegrin families apostatized to Maho- 
metanism, though afterwards, when the Montenegrins- 
regained their independence, their descendants were 
forced to return to Christianity ; so that even now there 
are names in the country denoting the Mussulman origin 
of those that have inherited them, such as Alich, Husseyn- 
ovich, that is, the sons of Ali and Husseyn. 

It was not until the year 1703 that the Black Moun- 
tain was once more completely free : in that year 
occurred the Sicilian Vespers of Montenegro. Danila 
Petrovitch of Ni^gush, who in A.D. 1697 had been 
elected Vladika by the people, was shortly afterwards 
taken prisoner by the Turks by means of a treacherous 
artifice, the Pasha in the neighbouring parts of Albania 
having promised him a safe -conduct through that 
country when he was on his way to consecrate a church 
for a Montenegrin settlement. The engagement was 
violated and the Vladika seized, ill-treated, and detained 
until a large sum of money was procured for his ransom. 
On his return to his country an act of signal vengeance 
was determined on in return for this deed of perfidy, and 
Christmas, 1703, was signalized by a general massacre of 
all the Mahometans who were to be found within the 
limits of the Black Mountain. The dreadful deed was 
perpetrated during the night, and on Christmas morning 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. XI, Struggles with the Turks, 249 

the people assembled at Cetinj6, exclaiming with shouts 
of joy that then, for the first time since the Battle of 
Cossova, their country was truly free. From that time 
the office of Vladika continued to belong to the house of 
Niegush, one of that family, though not necessarily the 
nearest of kin, being appointed by the holder of the office 
during his lifetime as his successor. After this deed of 
blood, as might be expected, the Turks did not leave 
them long unmolested. In 17 14 they invaded their 
territory, but were repulsed with great loss ; returning, 
however, two years after with overwhelming forces under 
Duman Kiuprili, they succeeded in inflicting on them 
the severest blow they had hitherto experienced. But it 
was rather by craft than by force of arms that the 
victory was won. The Turkish general offered them 
favourable conditions, and on the strength of a solemn 
promise thirty-seven Montenegrin chieftains entered the 
Turkish camp in order to negociate the treaty; they 
were immediately seized, and their country, being thus 
deprived of its bravest leaders, was invaded and overrun. 
Cetinj6 was taken, the church and convent burnt, the 
inhabitants of the country districts butchered without 
respect of sex or age, and more than 2000 persons 
dragged into captivity. Notwithstanding this we find 
them, in 17 18, assisting the Venetians, who were block- 
aded by the Turks in Antivari and Dulcigno ; but for 
the next half century they remained comparatively 

Russia was the first of the European powers to recog- 
nize the existence of this small but warlike state. In the 
early part of the i8th century Peter the Great, perceiving 
that the Montenegrins might be of use to him as a 
thorn in the side of the Ottomans, offered them his 
protection on condition that they should co-operate with 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

250 Montenegro. Chap. XL 

him when at war with the Porte, and should acknowledge 
his sovereignty. The results of this agreement were 
insignificant for many years, but in the latter half of the 
century it gave rise to the following very curious episode. 
An adventurer, named Stephen the Little, had settled in 
the Venetian territory on the borders of Montenegro, 
and after practising for some time as a doctor, succeeded 
in persuading the person in whose house he was living 
that he was Peter III., Emperor of Russia, who was 
believed to have been strangled by order of the Empress 
Catherine, in 1762. When the report had spread, he 
transferred his residence to Montenegro, and, notwith- 
standing the protests of the Vladika, was acknowledged 
as chief of the country. So general was the credence 
given to his story that the Servian patriarch sent him a 
splendid horse as a present ; and ultimately the Russian 
Court found themselves obliged to take some steps in 
the matter, and sent a Prince Dolgorouki to denounce 
him as an impostor. On his arrival the Vladika con- 
vened the chief men, and when they heard from the 
Russian agent that Peter III. was certainly dead, at first 
they seemed disposed to believe him ; but when Stephen 
was afterwards confined in the upper story of the con- 
vent at Cetinj6, he contrived to regain their confidence 
by a device, which could only have succeeded with a 
very simple-minded people. He exclaimed to them that 
they might themselves perceive that the Prince acknow- 
ledged him to be the Emperor, for otherwise he would 
not have placed him above himself, but beneath : and 
the effect of this declaration was so great that Dolgorouki 
was forced to leave the country without effecting his 
object. Stephen the Little ruled Montenegro for four 
years, but his reputation was impaired in a war with the 
Turks, in which he did not display the prowess that 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. XL The two last Vladikas, 25 1 

the mountaineers expected of him ; and ultimately, 
having lost his sight in the springing of a mine, he 
retired into a convent, where he was murdered by his 
Greek servant at the instigation of the Pasha of Scodra. 

The two last of the Vladikas were at the same time 
the two most distinguished, and their names are held in 
the greatest reverence by their countrymen. The elder 
of these, Peter I. — who, at the end of his long reign of 
fifty-three years, was declared a saint by the unanimous 
voice of the people, on account of his wisdom and his 
virtues — ^was distinguished alike by his administrative 
ability in peace and his courage in war. Having been 
educated at St. Petersburg, and having travelled much 
in Europe and learnt many European languages, he was 
in every respect superior to his countrymen, and contri- 
buted greatly towards the introduction of civilized arts 
among them. At the same time he showed considerable 
skill in negotiating with other powers at the time when 
Cattaro, and the neighbouring coasts and islands of the 
Adriatic, were the scene of a prolonged struggle between 
the French and Russians in the early part of the present 
century. As a warrior he distinguished himself by a 
crushing defeat of the Turks, who had invaded his 
territory in 1796, in which the whole Turkish force was 
destroyed, and their leader, Mahmoud Pasha of Scodra, 
killed, and which has ever since secured the inde- 
pendence of Montenegro. At his death, in 1830, he was 
succeeded by his nephew, Peter II. — the poet-priest of 
whom we have already spoken — by whose influence the 
reforms and schemes of improvement that had been 
initiated by his great namesake were carried into effiect. 
With him the union of the spiritual and temporal autho- 
rity, which had now continued for more than three 
centuries, came to an end. Prince Danilo, his successor. 

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252 Montenegro, Chap. XI. 

having fallen in love with a young Servian lady at 
Trieste, contrived that the two offices should be sepa- 
rated, and allowed the ecclesiastical power to pass into 
other hands. He also has been described as a ruler of 
great ability and large ideas, but the designs which he 
set on foot were cut short by his premature death. His 
nephew, Prince Nicolas, the present governor of the 
country, succeeded him in 1858, being at that time only 
eighteen years of age.' 

• Cyprien Robert, * Les Slaves de Turquie^' i. pp. 124, foil. ; * British and 
Foreign Review,' xL pp. 121^ foil. 

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( 253 ) 


MONTENEGRO (continued), 

Cetinj^ — Political Constitution of the Country — Population and Revenue 
— Need of a Port — The Monastery — Right of Asylum — The Archi- 
mandrite and Bishop — The Montenegrin Church — Ecclesiastical Views 
— Feeling of the People towards England — Piesmas or National Songs 
—Sitting of the Senate — The Credit Mobilier— Prince Nicolas — 
Mirkho — Descent to Rieka — Estimate of the Montenegrins — Their 
Political Importance — Atrocious Murder — Lake of Scodra — Fishery 
— Pelicans. 

Nothing could well be less romantic than the capital of 
the Black Mountain : except for the absence of water, it 
might easily be mistaken for a Dartmoor village. It 
consists of one long street of plain stone houses of two 
stories, and whitewashed, from the middle of which 
another wider street projects at right angles, leading up 
to the palace. Owing to its position at an angle of the 
plain, which has no outlet for its waters except a small 
subterraneous passage, the place is often flooded, espe- 
cially on the melting of the snow, which sometimes lies 
on the ground for three months together in the winter : 
in consequence of this, the ground floors of some of the 
houses are uninhabited. This was the case with the 
locanda at which we were housed, — a wretched abode in 
the middle of the village, consisting of two rooms on the 
upper floor, one of which served as a kitchen, the other 
as a bedroom for strangers, and a place of general resort 
for other persons, who came to take their meals there. 
In this narrow apartment there was but one small 
window, cold being evidently the principal enemy to be 
guarded against ; and round the walls were hung small 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

254 Montenegro, Chap. XII. 

prints of the Emperor and Empress of Austria, the late 
Prince Danilo, and his wife the Princess Darinka, toge- 
ther with a few others. For the sake of future travellers, 
we were glad to see that a large inn was in course of 
erection at the end of the main street, — a much more 
spacious building, in fact, than could ever be required 
for visitors ; but we were led to understand that it was 
intended also to accommodate such of the senators as 
came from other parts of the country to reside there 
from time to time. The publicity of our room, however, 
had its advantages, as it enabled us to see more of the 
people, and to get more information about the country, 
than we could otherwise have done. First came in a 
Servian who could speak a little German ; he was 
employed as inspector of small arms for Montenegro, as 
many muskets were being refitted which had been taken 
from the Turks or obtained from other quarters. When 
dinner-time arrived (for we had reached Cetinj6 before 
noon), there appeared the imposing figure of one of the 
senators. Pope Elia Plamenatz, a peaceful-looking giant, 
as most of these warriors of the Black Mountain are : he 
was the head of the Montenegrin representatives in a 
commission which was shortly to assemble, to arrange 
with the Porte some disputed points about the frontiers 
of Turkey and Montenegro. After dinner the Prince's 
secretary, M. Va^lik, arrived, a Bohemian by birth, 
though a naturalized subject of this Principality : he 
proved to be a very intelligent and well-read man, and 
as he could talk French as well as other languages, his 
society was an inestimable advantage to us. Those who 
know this country best say, that he has more head and 
more sense than any one in it ; and that his temperate 
counsels, as far as they are allowed to have weight, are 
of great benefit in counterbalancing the restless and 

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Chap. XII. Political Constitution. 255 

warlike spirit of the people. The pleasure of meeting 
seemed to be mutual, for he expressed himself greatly 
delighted at the opportunity of an interchange of ideas, as 
they see very few strangers (we were the first who had 
visited the country that year), and amongst themselves 
the conversation, month after month, is one everlasting 
round of local and national topics. It was from him that 
we principally obtained the following information. 

The constitution of Montenegro is in form a limited 
monarchy, but in reality approaches very closely to the 
patriarchal system. There is a senate of sixteen persons, 
a body of recent institution, but the whole system 
centres in the person of the Prince, or Gospodar, as he is 
called ; it is to him the people look, and he holds them 
together, and prevents them from falling asunder into a 
number of small clans. The senate, of whom ten are 
generally in residence, are elected by the people and 
confirmed by the Prince ; but in these and similar 
appointments the Prince consults the wishes of the 
people, or, when he has to decide between rival candi- 
dates, chooses the man who has won most honours — in 
war, of course. It was modelled to some extent on the 
Russian senate, and is at once a deliberative and judicial 
body. At its head is Mirkho, the father of the present 
Prince, who was passed over in the succession on account 
of his fire-eating propensities — an arrangement which was 
made before Danilo's death, and acquiesced in by 
Mirkho — as it was thought that his hasty temper would 
embroil them with the neighbouring countries. He has, 
however, received the highest offices under his son, as 
commander of the army and president of the senate, 
only he surrenders the latter office to the Prince when he 
is present. There is some talk now of forming a sort of 
Ministry, by giving the senators separate offices, so as to 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

2$6 Montenegro. Chap. XII. 

relieve the Prince of some part of his labours, and leave 
him more time for study ; for he is a great student, and 
a poet withal, being at present occupied in writing a 
tragedy. As it is now, all the people come to their 
Gospodar on every possible occasion ; if a peasant's crop 
has failed, he applies to him for advice and assistance ; 
and similarly every matter, whether small or great, is 
referred to him, so that he has no leisure. The change, 
if it is made, will be an experiment, for it is doubtful 
whether the people, with their strong personal feeling 
towards their Gospodar, will be satisfied with applying 
to a secondary agency ; and the Montenegrins are not 
very tolerant of changes, as was shown at the time of the 
introduction of the senate. The history of this, which is 
at the same time the history of the political exiles — of 
whom I have spoken in connexion with Cattaro — is as 
follows. Under the old regime, besides the Vladika or 
Prince-Bishop, there was another officer of great import- 
ance in the administration of the state, the civil governor, 
who was the representative of a sort of hereditary 
aristocracy, possessing considerable local influence. The 
effect of this system was that the power was lodged in 
the hands of very ignorant persons, who usually offered 
a determined opposition to all schemes of reform. The 
office was suppressed by Peter II., who seized the oppor- 
tunity of the civil governor being suspected of treachery ; 
and the aristocracy itself was done away with, as a 
power in the state, by him and his successor, and the 
elective senate substituted in its place, in order that 
distinction should be won by merit alone. But these 
measures, as might be expected, called forth strong 
opposition, and a reactionary party was formed who 
became dangerous to the Government, and at last were 
exiled or retired from the country. It was one of them 

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Chap. XI I. Population and Revenue. 257 

by whom Prince Danilo was murdered at Cattaro. 
M. Va9lik was one of his companions on that occasion, 
and had just helped him to land from a boat when he 
was shot through the body. 

The population of the whole country is estimated at 
200,ocx), of whom 25,000 are reckoned as forming the 
army ; but, in theory, every Montenegrin is supposed to 
be a soldier, and indeed it is necessary enough that all 
should be ready to serve, considering the length of the 
frontier they have to defend relatively to their numbers. 
This, too, agrees with the idea of the Black Mountain 
being a camp, the inhabitants of which should always be 
ready to act on the defensive. The National Guard is a 
picked body of 100 men, whose head-quarters are at 
Cetinj6, but they are employed as a rural police to keep 
order throughout the country. Besides these the Prince 
has a body-guard of ten men, but this is hardly more 
than nominal. : The whole revenue amounts to about 
12,000/., of which not more than one thousand goes into 
the Prince's privy purse, and out of this he supports 
twenty-five scholars at his own expense at the school at 
Cetinj6, and pays also in great measure for the education 
of his young cousin in France. Voyvode Mattanovitch, 
the father of this young man, is one of the wealthiest 
men in the country, having an income of about 100/. 
a year. There is also a sum of money which is paid 
annually by Russia to the Montenegrins, amounting to 
about 3400/. ; this, however, is not, as has sometimes 
been stated, a subsidy from that Power, but an indemnity 
for the losses which they sustained in assisting the 
Russians to drive out the French from Dalmatia. The 
revenue is now raised by taxation, though, as usual in 
countries unaccustomed to it, it was a work of no slight 
difficulty to introduce the system. Formerly they used 
VOL. I. S 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

2S8 Montenegro. Chap. XII. . 

to support themselves by tchetas, or raids into the 
Turkish territory ; and when that custom was abo- 
lished, and they were expected to pay themselves what 
before they had levied from their enemies, the people 
murmured, and even rose against it, complaining that 
they were being brought into servitude, and no better off 
than the rayafts in Turkey. Accordingly the demand 
was for a time withdrawn, but afterwards it was re-insti- 
tuted, and now the money is paid without opposition. 

The principal exports, besides the supplies which they 
send to Cattaro, are scodano, a wood used in dyeing; 
castradina^ or meat smoked and prepared in a peculiar 
way ; scoranziy small delicate fish, great quantities of 
which are found in the Lake of Scodra ; and insecticide 
powder, which is collected from a flower that grows 
plentifully on the mountains. Wine and oil are not 
exported in any large quantities, most of what is pro- 
duced being consumed in the country: but they are 
rather proud of sending their potatoes to Scodra, as the 
only supply of that vegetable which is to be had there, 
or, in fact, anywhere in Albania, comes from the Black 
Mountain. But their great want, of which they are 
continually and with great reason complaining, is that of 
a port. At present, it is true, both Austria and Turkey 
allow them free export and import; but this has not 
long been the case, and they have no guarantee that it 
will continue : they feel that they ought not to be thus 
dependent on others, and that the regular and peaceful 
employments which depend upon trade can never flourish 
while they are so. One of the reasons why they look 
upon England with affection is, that they remember how 
that country gave up Cattaro to them, when they took it 
from the French in 1813, only they were forced by 
Russia in the following year to cede the place to the 

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Chap. XII. Need of a Port. 259 

Austrians. Even now they do not doubt that if England 
desired the Turks to give them a port, they would do so ; 
and that Austria, if she cared to interfere, would not 
avail to prevent it. That this would probably be the 
case I have been assured by one who is well acquainted 
-with the views of the Turkish authorities about these 
parts, and no partisan of Montenegro. Their fear is, np 
doubt, that by this means they would be enabling the 
mountaineers to obtain an unlimited supply of arms, 
which would be used against themselves ; but whatever 
danger there might be of this would, even from this point 
of view, be fully compensated by a decrease of that 
restlessness, arising from want of occupation, which 
makes them at any moment ready for war. When I 
enquired how the people employed themselves during 
the winter months, and when the snow was on the 
ground, thinking that they might turn their hands to 
such things as are required to be prepared for the 
coming season, the answer I received was, "They do 
nothing in the world except try to keep themselves 
warm." Yet these same men, when they go abroad in 
-companies to work, remaining for several years together 
at Constantinople, Varna, and other places, where they 
are employed in making roads and similar occupations, 
are considered excellent workmen. 

In the course of the afternoon we went to the monas- 
tery to visit the ecclesiastical authorities. This building, 
which lies on the hill side, just where the ground begins 
to rise behind the palace, was formerly the reside^^ce of 
the Vladika, but now is made to serve a variety of pur- 
poses, as it contains a prison and a school, as well as the 
dwelling-places of the Archimandrite, the bishop, and one 
secular priest. These buildings rise on three sides of a 
court, the fourth being formed by a blank wall, on the 

S 2 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

26o Montenegro, Chap. XI L 

outside of which is a stone tablet with the double eagle 
of Servia in relief; this was brought from an older 
monastery, that stood in the plain, and was destroyed on 
the approach of the Turks, when on one occasion they 
penetrated to Cetinj6. We were told that some time aga 
two Evangelia with metal bindings were found in wells 
near its site, and they hope sooner or later to find other 
treasures which were secreted on that occasion. Above 
the rest of the monastery rises a tower, which contains 
the library. The chapel is a plain building with a gilt 
iconostase, the ornaments being in the Russian rather 
than the Greek style ; but it is regarded as a great sanc- 
tuary, as it contains the tomb of the sainted Peter I., and 
that of Danilo. On the first of these a cross was laid ; 
on the latter the sword which he wore at the time of his 
death. When we inquired about the prison, we were 
told there were but few prisoners, and those mostly for 
slight offences ; what they are said to feel more than the 
confinement is being deprived of their arms, which is a 
great disgrace to a Montenegrin. The punishment for 
theft is flogging, the offender being stretched over a 
cannon taken from the Turks, which is placed for that 
purpose, together with a number of others, in front of the 
palace. The people in general are said to be very honest ; 
when we visited the Prince's stables, which lie a little way 
out of the village, we found them unguarded and the 
doors open, though some of the bridles that hung there 
had ornaments of solid silver ; and at the meeting of the 
two streets there is a tree, where we noticed a musket 
suspended, that being the place where missing things are 
left to be reclaimed by their owners. One custom which 
used to exist in former times, and in theory, I believe, 
exists still, is remarkable as illustrating the primitive 
idea of the right of asylum. So absolutely was "every 

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Chap. XII. Right of Asylum. 261 

man's house his castle," that if a criminal took refuge in 
his home, there was no means of forcing him to surrender 
himself to the law ; and when Peter II., in the course of 
his reforms, had to meet this difficulty, he did so by 
setting fire to the building where the offender was con- 
cealed. Now, however, it is said that order is so well 
maintained throughout the country that the criminal has 
no option but to surrender himself when ordered to do 
so by the chief of his district, the only alternative being 
to fly the country, that is, in other words, to go into 
Turkey or Austria, which few Montenegrins would think 
of doing. 

We were first introduced to the Archimandrite, or 
head of the monastery, whom we found in a commodious 
and well-furnished room. He was a man of magnificent 
appearance and almost colossal proportions, the effect of 
which was still further increased by his long dark robes, 
open in front and lined with crimson, which reached 
nearly to his feet ; under this he wore a cassock with 
a crimson sash, and from his neck was suspended a 
cross i^chly ornamented with diamonds, turquoises, and 
other gems. His hair was long and flowing, and his 
open, intelligent, kindly, and humorous countenance was 
extremely prepossessing; he has the name of being 
a truly good man, an excellent priest, and a brave 
warrior. He came originally from the Herzegovina, and 
accordingly, when the Turks attacked Montenegro in 
1862, to him was entrusted the office of raising those 
of the mountaineers whose territory bordered on that 
district Though the office of Archimandrite is main- 
tained, there are now no monks in the convent, their 
place having been taken by scholars, of whom there are 
sixty at present in the school. This same change has 
passed over most of the other monasteries throughout 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

262 Montenegro. Chap. XI I^ 

the country, and by this means, and the building of 
schoolhouses in^ the principal villages, education is 
spreading, though it is retarded by want of funds. After 
some conversation with this dignitary (M. Va^lik inter- 
preting for us, as he spoke no language but Slavonic), we 
went with him to the apartments of the bishop, whose 
name was Hilarion, a middle-aged man, with a very dark 
complexion, and dark hair and eyes ; here we remained 
some time longer, conversing about their church and their 
political views. In the midst of our conversation a 
violent thunderstorm came on, accompanied by heavy, 
rain, which caused great rejoicing, as it had long been 
looked for and was much wanted. 

The Montenegrin Church, though a part of the ortho- 
dox communion, is wholly independent, owing no sub- 
mission either to the Patriarch of Constantinople on the 
one hand, or the Russian Synod on the other ; even with 
the Servian Church, notwithstanding the strong feeling 
that binds the two together, they have no closer connec- 
tion than that of sympathy. When a new bishop is 
appointed he is sent for consecration either to Russia, as 
has been the case on the last two occasions, or to Austria^ 
where there is a large body of orthodox Christians, 
composedjof Servians and others who migrated from the 
interior of Turkey, under the Bishop of Ipek, about 
the year 1690, at the invitation of the Emperor Leopold, 
and were settled partly in Slavonia, between the Save and 
Drave, and partly in other parts of the Austrian domi- 
nions. There are about 400 churches in Montenegro, and 
500 or 600 priests. What is most wanted is an eccle- 
siastical seminary, for at present the clergy have no 
education ; war, they said, had left them no time to turn 
their attention to such things. But an increase of intel- 
ligence among the priests, M. Va5lik remarked, would 

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Chap. XII. Ecclesiastical Views. 263 

tend more than anything to raise the tone of the people ; 
for though they observe the Sunday and the fast days 
carefully, and attend regularly at church, and are more- 
over a very moral people in their general conduct, yet 
their ideas on the subject of Christianity are very vague, 
and vital religion has but little hold on their hearts. Re- 
ligious toleration is fully established in the country; 
there are two or three Mahometans now living amongst 
them, and a few Roman Catholics, one of whom is M. 
Va^lik himself; and he assured me that no suspicion or 
prejudice had ever existed against him on account of his 
creed At Rieka, the port by which they communicate 
with the Lake of Scodra, a weekly market is held on 
Saturdays, to which thousands of people resort; and 
though numbers of these are Mahometans, not even a 
policeman is required to keep them in order. And the 
Archimandrite added, that their desire was that all 
the inhabitants of Turkey, whether Christian or Ma- 
hometan, or of any other creed, should have equal rights, 
and full power of exercising their religion freely. 

With a view of ascertaining their feelings towards the 
Greeks, I turned the conversation towards the monas- 
teries of Athos, expecting that at least the Slavonic 
convents there would have some interest for them. But 
I found that they knew but little about them, and cared 
still less ; nor did they manifest any regard for the Con- 
stantinopolitan Church in general, or for the independent 
Church of free Greece. But when I touched on the rela- 
tions of the Bulgarians to the Patriarch, and the questions 
pending between them, the feeling of nationality was at 
once roused ; they protested strongly against Fanariote 
interference with a Slavonic people, and maintained that 
the Bulgarians ought to have their own metropolitan, as 
they had in former days. Fanariote influence, they said. 

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264 Montenegro, Chap. XII. 

was only another name for Turkish influence. When the 
Bulgarians were independent, they would themselves be 
perfectly friendly with the Greek Church ; but not till then. 
With regard to their political relations, and the possibility 
of a community of action between Slaves and Greeks, 
they thought it quite possible to unite them under one 
common head, provided only that they might be allowed 
severally to retain their respective institutions. But it 
was easy to discover how strong the antipathy between 
them is, and how difficult it would be for the two races 
to combine in any matter where rival interests were at 
stake, or where vigorous and harmonious action was 
required. Both in this conversation, and in others which 
we held with some of the senators, we could not fail to 
remark the intimate knowledge which they seemed 
to possess of what was said in England about them and 
the South Slavonic peoples generally, and of the persons 
who espoused or opposed their cause. Not only the 
names of Lord Palmerston and Mr. Layard, in whom 
they recognised the chief supporters of the Turks against 
the Christians, and those of Lord Russell and Mr. Glad- 
stone, were familiar to them, but they spoke gratefully 
also of Mr. Gregory, Mr. Denton, Mr. Cobden, and 
others, for having espoused their cause ; and reminded us 
that when the news of the last-named statesman's death 
reached Belgrade, a funeral mass had been said in honour 
of his memory. The truth is, that whatever is spoken in 
Parliament or published in England about these nation- 
alities, is at once reproduced in the Servian newspapers, 
which pass as a matter of course into Montenegro ; thus 
we found that they were acquainted (and pleased) with 
Lady Strangford's account of this country, in her 'Eastern 
Shores of the Adriatic,' which had appeared not very- 
long before our visit. They expressed most kindly 

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Chap. XII. National Songs. 265 

feeling towards our country and Church, but thought the 
English generally, or at least our government, were mis- 
informed with regard to the condition and views of the 
Christians in Turkey; otherwise they would not dis- 
courage them on every occasion, and provide the Turks 
with money to subjugate them. 

The national instrument of these parts is the guzlay a 
parent of dismal sounds, but as dear to a Slavonic ear as 
the bagpipe is to a Highlander. In shape it is like an 
elongated pear cut in half, and it is something between a 
guitar and a violin ; the smaller kind, which the Bulgarians 
generally use, being more like the former, while the 
larger, which is in use in the Black Mountain, resembles 
the latter in having a bridge and being played with a 
bow, though it has only one string. As we were 
walking after nightfall, with the Secretary, up and down 
the main street of the village, we heard the- sound of 
this instrument issuing from one of the cottages, accom- 
panied by a human voice, which was droning out what 
seemed a kind of recitation. The movement was slow 
at first, but when we returned, after the lapse of a quar- 
ter of an hour, it had become rapid and excited. As 
it was evidently a popular entertainment, from the 
number of people who had gathered together to listen, 
we enquired what it meant, and were informed that it 
was dipiesmay that is, one of the national songs, or ballad 
narratives, which form the literature of the country, and in 
which their annals and the deeds of their great men are 
enshrined. When they are of a martial character, as is 
usually the case, all the events which precede the battle 
are chanted in measured time, while the fast and furious 
conflict is accompanied by corresponding rapidity of 
recitation. The number of these pieces is very great, and 
they are handed down orally from father to son, the 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

266 Montenegro. Chap. XI L 

blind man being, as of yore, the professional minstrel, 
though the art is not confined to any class. They are 
continually being added to, for the poetic art, such as it 
is, never fails. At the present time Mirkho, the Prince's 
father, is the principal composer of them ; and it was 
described to me by one who had to pass a long winter's 
evening at the palace, how enthusiastically the old war- 
rior recited his own compositions for hours together, and 
how difficult it was for some of his audience to avoid 
falling asleep during the proceeding. 

In the neighbourhood of Cetinj6 there are extensive 
meadows, without hedges, and divided from one another 
by hardly distinguishable landmarks, so that the level 
plain is unbroken. In consequence of its cold climate 
the grass was only now being mown, and from the same 
cause there are but few trees, only a few poplars, and a 
walnut or two, being seen here and there The moun- 
tains rise on both sides, range behind range, those towards 
the east being completely bare, while those opposite are 
prettily interspersed with bushes and other mountain 
v^etation. In a commanding position on one of the 
lowest of these heights, just above the monastery and 
overlooking the village, stands an old ruined tower, over 
the gate of which in more barbarous times used to be 
hung the gory heads of Turks killed in battle We had 
mounted to this point the next morning, and were on 
our way down, when a cave in the hill-side attracted our 
attention, on entering which we found it inhabited by a 
family, consisting of a mother and two boys, who had 
lost their father in the late war. They were compelled 
by poverty to seek refuge in this place, but what sur- 
prised us most was that the boys had books in their 
hands, and on enquiring we found that they could both 
read and write, an evident proof that the schoolmaster is 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. XII. The Senate. 267 

abroad in the country. Descending again to the plain^ 
we came to the open place in front of the palace, where 
the senate holds its sittings. We found them in full 
conclave, and it was a sight not easily to be forgotten, 
and one which impresses the spectator most forcibly with 
the patriarchal and primitive condition of things. Their 
parliament house, as they are never tired of saying, is 
the largest in the world, being the open air of heaven ; 
they meet under the shade of a spreading tree, round the 
foot of which two rows of seats are built On the upper- 
most of these Prince Nicolas was seated, and below him 
the senators in their grand costumes were ranged in 
order. They were engaged in hearing a case of justice ; 
the plaintiff and defendant were before them, and the 
witnesses and others standing round. From the warmth 
with which the discussion was carried on, and the demon- 
strative gesticulation used, the case appeared to excite 
considerable interest, until the Prince rose and gave 
judgment, and then walked away, followed by two of his 
guards, to the palace, while the senators retired to the 
village with their secretary, who afterwards wrote out 
the verdict. 

We also visited the offices of the press, and of the 
Credit Mobilier, At the former a second edition was 
being printed of some poems by the priest, who lives 
in the convent, and is said to have great poetic taste. 
The type of this was excellent, and we saw also that 
which was put up for printing Montenegrin passports. 
With regard to the other office, I anticipate that my 
readers will exclaim, What can be the Cridit Mobilier 
of a country like Montenegro ? Well, it is a sort of 
public pawnbrokers* establishment, where people can 
borrow money from the State, either for domestic pur- 
poses, or to improve their lands, or for any other object, 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

268 Montenegro, Chap. XII. 

by depositing any valuables which they have in their 
possession. In this way it gets an additional interest to 
a stranger, for a finer collection of handsome weapons 
cannot easily be seen. Most of them are yataghans and 
pistols taken from the Turks in battle, which are richly 
wrought in silver and ornamented with agates and 
precious stones. The workmanship of one set of car- 
touche boxes attached to a military belt was superb^ 
filigree york on solid silver. There were also several of 
the wide heavy belts which the women wear, set with 
large cornelians ; and one very curious deposit — an 
elaborate miniature likeness of the Sultan in a case, one 
of many siniilar ones which have been sent from time 
to time to the Montenegrins by the Turkish Government, 
when it was their purpose to conciliate them. These 
objects are sold after a time, if they are not reclaimed ; 
but in the case of more wealthy persons, in whose hands 
the money lent is supposed to be safe, the deposit is 
only a nominal guarantee; thus we were shown one 
dagger which was a receipt for 120/. 

In the afternoon we had an interview with Prince 
Nicolas. The palace is built on two sides of a court, 
the opposite sides of which are enclosed by high walls, 
and, like all the other houses in Cetinje, it is of two 
stories. It is simply, but comfortably arranged, the 
rooms on the first floor opening out from a passage 
which runs the whole length of the building; in one 
part of the passage a swallow had been allowed to build 
its nest. M. Vaglik ushered us into a handsomely fur- 
nished room, round which were hung portraits of the late 
Prince Danilo, and of the Emperors and Empresses of 
Russia, Austria, and France, all presented by themselves : 
here the Prince joined us. He is a handsome man, but 
old looking for his years ; for though he was only 

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Chap. XII. Prince Nicolas, 269 

twenty-five years of age, he looked certainly eight years 
older. He has a very agreeable countenance and fine 
aquiline features ; his hair is jet black, and his com- 
plexion very dark, in which respects he differs from 
his subjects, who have usually light hair and eyes. His 
tall, well-built figure was shown off to advantage by his 
magnificent dress, — an elaborate specimen of Montenegrin 
costume, though differing only from those we had seen 
before in its superior richness, and in his wearing Hessian 
boots, and carrying no arms. He talks French admirably, 
and we conversed with him for some time partly about his 
own country, and partly about subjects relating to 
England, among which he referred to Speke's discovery 
of the source of the Nile. At last he withdrew to pre- 
pare for a ride to Nidgush, where he was to meet his 
aunt, the Princess Darinka, Danilo's widow, who had 
been passing the previous winter at^ Zante, and was now 
expected from Cattaro. He is said to be extremely 
fond of her, and is now building her a house nearly 
opposite the palace. As she is a well-educated and 
clever woman, her influence over him is great ; and she 
is r^arded by some as the good genius of the country, 
as she s^ts the danger of war, and is able to counter- 
balance the fiery counsels of his father Mirkho: it is 
consequently to be regretted that she is so much absent 
from the country. 

We waited outside the palace gates to see the caval- 
cade start. First came the Prince, mounted on a 
prancing steed, and after him Mirkho, who was followed 
by the rest of the company. Mirkho is a man of about 
forty-five years of age, and short for a Montenegrin : like 
his son, he is very dark, and has a prominent nose 
and strongly marked features ; his countenance is very 
lively, and looks as if it could on occasions be very 

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2/0 Montenegro. Chap. XII. 

fierce. As we saw him, however, his appearance was 
peaceful, not to say comical, for he wore a straw hat, 
with a red fez stuck on the top of it to keep off the sun, 
and in his hand he held a long chibouque, at which 
he puffed away vigorously as he rode along. In a kiosk, 
or summer-house, attached to the palace there is a 
speaking likeness of him by a Bohemian artist named 
Czermak, the first Slavonic portrait painter of the day, 
which has been exhibited and much admired in London 
and elsewhere in Europe. After their departure we were 
taken to see the collection of trophies in the billiard- 
room of the palace, where in the winter the senate holds 
its sittings. This consists of swords and standards, 
which are hung along the walls ; and of medals, which 
are arranged in a case. Of these latter a considerable 
number were English Crimean medals, which had been 
presented by the English to the Turks who served in 
that campaign, and afterwards lost by them to the 

About four o'clock in the afternoon we left Cetinj6 for 
Rieka, on our way to Scodra. One of the persons that 
accompanied us to bring back our horses was a Mon- 
tenegrin woman, who would willingly have carried our 
ba^age for a consideration, if we had consented to that 
arrangement ; but, like most of the women of the country, 
she appeared not to have had her spirit at all broken by 
hard work, for anything more independent cannot well 
be conceived. Almost all the tillage of the ground is 
performed by the weaker sex, as manual labour is con- 
sidered degrading to men. When we reached the 
southern end of the plain, we mounted the heights that 
bound it on that side, from the summit of which, looking 
back, the best view of the little town is obtained, 
together with the mountains which surround it, and the 

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Chap. XII. Descent to Rieka. 271 

mass of Mount Lovchen magnificently towering over all. 
On the other side, the Lake of Scodra is finely seen at no 
great distance off. Descending from this point in the 
midst of grey rocks, interspersed with trees of a singularly 
bright green, we came at last to a fertile valley, dotted 
with thriving villages, where the eye was refreshed by 
the sight of vineyards, maize plantations, and other 
vegetation. This side of the country is generally more 
productive than that towards Niegush; but the part 
towards the northern and north-eastern frontier is said to 
be the softest and richest district During the first part 
of the descent the path had been very steep and stony, 
but from this upland valley down to that of Rieka it 
was still worse, and walking was preferable to riding; 
the whole journey, however, only occupied three hours, 
and from this, and the short time it took us to reach 
Cetinj6 from Cattaro, it may be gathered how narrow 
the territory of the Black Mountain is in this part The 
village of Rieka lies at the foot of the mountains, in a 
bend of the river of the same name, — a stream of con- 
siderable size, which is joined by another and larger 
tributary a little way below. In front of the houses is 
a well-built quay, and the river is spanned by a lofty 
bridge: it is altogether a more imposing place than 
Cetinj6, though it has hardly yet recovered from having 
been burnt by the Turks in the last war. Close to the 
bridge is a house belonging to the Prince, and in this, 
at his request, we took up our abode. Our original 
intention was to start the same evening for Scodra, in the 
hope of arriving there at an early hour the next morning, 
and thus avoiding the heat of the day, which would have 
been intolerable in an open boat on the lake ; but as the 
boats were few, and the men unwilling to leave at once, 
we were compelled to wait till the following afternoon. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

272 Montenegro. Chap. XIL 

The impression produced on us by our visit to the 
country was an agreeable one, and notwithstanding some 
circumstances which I have yet to mention, and with all 
due allowance for our information being derived from 
a not wholly unprejudiced quarter, was decidedly favour- 
able to the Montenegrins. Their appearance is certainly 
prepossessing, from their dignified yet natural bearing, 
and the composed and peaceful look which distinguishes 
them, notwithstanding that they all carry arms ; and 
their noble faces,' strongly marked features, and tall, well- 
built figures, impress you with a sense of character and 
power. Throughout the country, also, everything wore 
an appearance of quiet and industry, which, as well as 
the frank character of the people, especially attracted 
our attention from the contrast it presented to the 
restless life and wild, cruel look of the tatterdemalion 
Albanians whom we had last seen on the eastern shores 
of the Adriatic. At the same time, we could not but 
feel that their position would be improved, both in the 
eyes of strangers and in the opinion of European States, 
if they showed a little more modesty, and a somewhat 
less exalted opinion of themselves and their position : as 
it is, they are for ever striving to keep themselves before 
the world, and never contented unless they have some 
new project in which to distinguish themselves. That 
their political importance is considerable no one will 
deny who understands their position, forming, as they 
do, a strong keystone to support any movement on the 
part of the south Slavonian races towards asserting their 
nationality. And such a movement, in all probability, 
will not be long in coming. It is not only among the 
Servians and Montenegrins, who are closely bound 
together both by historical associations and by present 
sympathy, that the desire of political union exists, but 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. XI L Political Importance. 273 

throughout the Herzegovina also, and Bosnia, the same 
feeling is widely spread, so much so that though the 
inhabitants of the latter country are to a great extent 
Mahometans, yet, it is said, if they had to choose 
between the conflicting interests of religion and race, 
they would readily sacrifice the former to the latter, and 
assist their brethren in overthrowing the dominion of 
the Turk. Again, in all the cities of Dalmatia the 
inhabitants are divided into an Austrian and a national 
faction, which are usually about equally balanced in 
respect of numbers ; the Austrian party relying on the 
numerous families intermarried with Austrian officers, 
or themselves supplying officers to the army ; the national 
party on the widespread sympathy with the neighbouring 
Slavonic races. These parties are very jealous of one 
another, and a strong line of demarcation is drawn 
between them, so that they have separate clubs and 
caf(6s, and the national party is carefully watched by the 
military authorities. The Bulgarians, too, who form so 
considerable a part of the population of European 
Turkey, though, from their natural inertness and de- 
pressed condition, they have few political ideas, are 
beginning to be leavened with the same sentiment, and 
their leading men, at all events, look in the same direc- 
tion. In the case of a general rising, the Black Moun- 
tain would be K point cCappui of the very greatest import- 
ance. As an asylum for refugees it is still, as it always 
has been, serviceable to the neighbouring Christians. 
Though M. Vaglik assured me that there were no refugees 
at present in the country, and that Prince Nicolas would 
not receive them if he knew it, yet there can be no 
doubt that in case of a persecution or insurrection in the 
Herzegovina, or other neighbouring districts, fugitives 
would be received with open arms; indeed, the right 
VOL. I. T 

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274 Montenegro. Chap. XI L 

of asylum is one of the provisions of their constitu- 

With regard to their general policy, I had some doubts 
before visiting the country whether Mirkho's warlike 
views were not really the wisest, and whether a more 
peaceful policy, having for its object the internal develop- 
ment of the people, would not tend to undermine that 
love of liberty and resolute independence which alone 
has made them what they are. But this idea was dis- 
pelled by what we saw and heard. So strong is the 
national feeling, so instinctive their love of daring deeds,, 
so traditional the determination to resist all external 
force, that there seemed to be no danger of these being 
undermined by the introduction of commerce and 
civilization. On the contrary, the most useful function 
of the Prince seemed to be that, which to the best of his. 
ability he is endeavouring to carry out, — 

" by slow prudence to make mild 

A rugged people, and, through soft degrees, 
Subdue them to the useful and the good." 

Before leaving Rieka we heard of an occurrence which 
illustrates the wilder side of the Montenegrin character. 
While we were at Cetinj6 we had seen a procession of 
fifteen women accompanied by three of the guards leave 
the place, chanting, as they went, a shrill wailing dirge, 
and in the course of the evening they returned in the 
same fashion. On inquiring the meaning of this we were 
told, that they had gone to Rieka to attend the funeral of 
a relative ; but of the circumstances no further informa- 
tion was given us at the time. On arriving at the spot 
we learned that an atrocious murder had been com- 
mitted, the history of which was as follows. A Monte- 

' See an article in 'Vacation Tourists for 1861,' p. 406. 

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Chap. XII. Atrocious Murder^ 275 

negrin of the lower class had, from some unexplained 
cause, conceived a violent hatred against one of his 
countrymen at Rieka, an officer in the army, and deter- 
mined to compass his destruction. Accordingly he re- 
paired to the Prince at Cetinj6, and in a private interview 
laid information against the officer, saying that he had 
formed a plot to take the Prince's life. The Prince dis- 
credited the whole story, and refused at first to take any 
notice of it: but at last, when the man became very 
importunate, he consented to send some of the guards 
to bring the accused for examination. The informer 
insisted on accompanying them, and when they reached 
Rieka, seeing his enemy standing on the bridge, went on 
in front of the others, pulled out his pistol, and shot him 
in cold blood, exclaiming at the same time, " There, now 
he is punished !" This had happened a few days before 
our visit, and the murderer was to be executed on the 
day after we left, that being market day, when a great 
concourse of people would be gathered together. His 
sentence was, to be shot by the guards on the bridge, the 
same spot where he had killed his victim, and that his 
body should be exposed in the market-place for three 

Other circumstances combined to give us an unfavour- 
able impression of the people of Rieka. During our stay 
we had obtained our meals from a small inn hard by the 
Prince's residence, and when on our departure the next 
afternoon a somewhat exorbitant charge was made, we 
raised no objection, thinking that the guests of a prince 
must be content to pay in princely style. No sooner, 
however, had we reached the boat which we had hired to 
take us to Scodra, — and which, owing to the shallowness 
of the stream, was moored a quarter of a mile below the 
village, — than the master of the inn, who had been absent 

T 2 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

2/6 Montenegro. Chap. XI I. 

when our bill was presented to us, overtook us and 
demanded double of what we had already paid. When 
we steadily refused to pay, he flew into a violent passion, 
and nothing could be conceived more truly diabolical 
than the expression produced on his countenance by real 
or pretended rage. It reminded me forcibly of some of 
the most malignant faces of criminals in Gustave Dora's 
illustrations to Dante's *• Inferno.' The worst of it was, 
that the six boatmen who formed our crew,^ — partly, as it 
seemed, from a disposition to take their countryman's 
side, and partly from fear that they themselves should 
not get their money, — at first refused to move, and then 
demanded that they should be paid in full before starting. 
We at once flung down in the boat the three Turkish 
sovereigns for which we had bargained, and thereby re- 
stored confidence ; but it was with no little satisfaction 
that we found ourselves a few minutes afterwards floating 
down the middle of the stream. 

Our conveyance was one of the long clumsy boats 
regularly used on the lake (Londra is their name), about 
forty feet in length by seven wide, flat-bottomed and 
without seats, for the rowers, except those in the bows, 
stand up and push with the oar. The oars work in a 
band which is attached to the gunwale, thus serving 
instead of a thole: these bands are made of withies 
rudely twisted, as we learnt from having to stop some 
time by the side of a willow-bed to replace by fresh ones 
the old bands which had become rotten. Shortly after 
this our men stopped again by the other bank, to take in 
a young fellow, to whom they had promised to give a 
passage down to Scodra. He proved serviceable to us, 
as he could speak a little Italian ; but the crew would 
hardly have taken him on board, had they known what a 
bad character he gave both to them and to the Monte- 

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Chap. XII. Lake of Scodra. 277 

negrins generally who visit Scodra. He represented 
them as great cheats, and as having a bad name in the 
bazaars there for carrying off things for which they never 
pay. This is likely enough, for the facilities are great, 
and the temptation strong; and, to say the truth, we 
found them a lazy, rough, independent set of fellows, and 
anything but agreeable companions. But no people 
ought to be judged of from its boatmen, or from the 
inhabitants of a frontier market town like Rieka. 

The river for some way pursues a winding course 
between wild mountains, and as these recede to a greater 
distance, the sides of its wide channel are filled with 
extensive beds of rushes, while numerous egrets, divers, 
and other water birds, appeared on the surface. After 
about three hours we reached the point where it opens 
out into the lake ; near to this are several islands, Vranina, 
Monastir, and Lesendria, the two latter of which have often 
changed hands between the Turks and Montenegrins. 
They are now in the possession of the former, who are 
engaged, as the Pasha of Scodra afterwards told us, in 
completing and strengthening the fine old castle which 
covers almost the whole island of Lesendria. As we 
looked back from here after sunset, the mountains of the 
eastern part of Montenegro appeared extremely grand, 
rising range behind range, and deep blue in colour, while 
to the west of them the peak of Lovchen, with the chapel 
on its flat summit, was visible over all. On the opposite 
side of the lake were seen the lofty mountains inhabited 
by the Hotti and Clementi, two of the fiercest and most 
powerful of the Christian Albanian tribes. After night- 
fall a slight head-wind arose, and our boatmen, who were 
tired with rowing and singing innumerable piesinas (some 
of Mirkho's, probably, for the word Graliova and the 
name of the Sultan continually recurred), declared that 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

278 Montenegro. Chap. XII. 

the boat could not live in such a sea, and put in at the 
little village of Seltza on the mainland, close to the 
frontier of Turkey and Montenegro. Here they moored 
the boat, and very soon were all asleep. 

The mode of catching the scoranzi, of which fish there 
are great quantities in this lake, has been described by 
Count Karaczay and other authorities, and the truth of 
their accounts, strange as they are, was confirmed to us 
at Scodra. The Count's description is as follows :* — "It 
is about the size of a herring, and enters the lake in 
autumn from the river Boyana : it b then found in asto- 
nishing numbers. There are places in the lake which 
have a smooth bottom, and present, besides, the appear- 
ance of springs issuing from the earth. These places, 
called okoy are visited by the scoranzi when the weather 
becomes cold, because the temperature of the springs is 
more elevated than that of the waters of the lake : their 
number is then so great m these places, that an oar 
pushed into the water remains fixed. The oko are the 
property of a few individuals, chiefly Turks, and are, at 
the beginning of the cold season, surrounded by nets, in 
which an incredible quantity of fish is taken : they are 
dried, and form a considerable article of commerce." I 
have already mentioned that they are exported from 

At one o'clock in the morning we roused our sleeping 
crew, and once more got under way. The wind had 
fallen, and, as there was no moon, the stars were wonder- 
fully bright ; Venus in particular, which, hung in the 
eastern sky, threw a broad trail of light across the water. 
When daylight came, we found the western shore of the 
lake, along which we were coasting, extremely bare, but 

• 'Journal of Geographical Society,' voL xxiL p. 57. 

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Chap. XII. Pelicans. 279 

some of the distant mountains of Albania, which rose to 
the south-east, showed magnificent fonns. At one place, 
where a few rocks stood out from the middle of the 
water at no great distance from us, we saw a number of 
large birds singularly like pelicans ; and we were after- 
wards told that this bird is found on the lake of Scodra. 
One of our boatmen fired his pistol at them, and the 
bullet fell in the water just below the rocks on which 
they were resting, after which they flew lazily away. 
The heat of the day had become intense, when about ten 
o'clock we found that we had reached the exit of the 
river Boyana, which in a short course of twenty miles 
carries the waters of the lake into the Adriatic. We 
passed a steamer belonging to the Pasha, which is in- 
tended to play a prominent part in carrying troops, in 
case of another war breaking out between the Turks and 
Montenegrins, and, before reaching the landing-place, 
made our way through a number of enclosures for catch- 
ing fish, which intersect the stream in all directions at a 
variety of angles, with huts erected at intervals above 
the water, being supported from below on stakes, in 
which the people live who superintend the fishery. They 
brought forcibly to our minds the lacustrine habitations 
of which such considerable remains have been discovered 
in the Swiss lakes. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

( 28o ) 



Bazaars and City of Scodra — Vendetta — Turkish Toleration — Turks and? 
Montenegrins — Ismael Pasha — The Castle — View from it — Sieges — 
Departure for the Mirdita — The Drin — First Impressions of the Mir- 
dita — Night-bivouac — Mirdite Dress — Extensive Oak-forests — The 
Priest of St George — Religious Views of the People — Their Fana- 
ticism — Rivers of the Country — Arrival at Orosch. 

On landing from our boat we at once entered the bazaars 
of Scodra, which are built at a distance of two miles from 
the modem city, in a low and unhealthy position by the 
river side, at the foot of the castle hill, — a steep isolated 
mass of rock, which rises finely from the plain with a 
striking outline. Our first thought was to purchase 
saddles and other equipments for our journey into the 
interior. And here I may remark, for the information of 
future travellers, that it is not advisable to use English 
saddles in Turkey, because, whether rightly or not, the 
people of the country have the strongest objection ta 
them, believing that they injure the backs of their horses. 
It is far better to purchase a padded Turkish saddle in 
the first large town on your route, taking care to select 
one with the slightest peak that you can find, together 
with a surcingle, as well as girths, and a crupper. It is 
well, however, to take stirrups and stirrup leathers from 
England, as the Turkish ones are often awkward and 
untrustworthy. A number of rough horse-hair saddle- 
bags of various sizes will also be found extremely useful, 
and can be met with everywhere in Turkey. In the 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap.XIII. Scodra. 281 

larger ones you can stow your luggage, by which means 
an infinity of trouble is saved in loading your baggage- 
horse ; and the smaller ones, which can be thrown across 
the peak of the saddle, serve to carry provisions and any 
other etceteras. After providing ourselves with these 
and a few other articles, we proceeded over dilapidated 
roads and by the sides of broken bridges, which once 
spanned the numerous watercourses, to the city, if that 
name can properly be applied to a place where the 
houses are built so far apart, and so embowered in trees, 
that more than two or three can seldom be seen in one 
view. Yet Scodra is said to contain a population of 
27,000 souls, and is by far the most important place 
of all this part of Turkey. It can even boast a very fair 

In the course of the day we visited the British Consul, 
Mr. Read, who gave us a good deal of information about 
the state of the country, and kindly assisted us in arrang- 
ing our plans for the next stage of our journey. He 
described the continual vendetta as being the bane of this 
whole district. Though the condition of things is not as 
outrageous as formerly, yet with an average of one murder 
every week in the city and its neighbourhood, arising from 
this cause, it can be conceived how little real security 
there is to human life. The authorities do what they can 
to prevent it, but in ail probability no method would be 
effectual short of exiling the whole family of the mur- 
derer. From time to time, when the confusion becomes 
intolerable, it is a custom, handed down from ancient 
times, for a general truce to be proclaimed, when the 
persons who have the right to exercise the vendetta are 
required to appear before the heads of their tribes or the 
local governors, and swear that they will abstain from 
vengeance. M. Hecquard, who was formerly French 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

282 Scodra and the Mirdita. Chap. XIII. 

Consul at Scodra, mentions that in 1857, in consequence 
of no truce having been proclaimed for thirteen years, no 
less than 500 persons belonging to the city of Scodra 
alone were wandering about in the neighbouring plain 
and mountains as being compromised.^ But even the 
alleviation of the evil which is produced in this way is, as 
may be supposed, but partial and of short duration. 

Mr. Read expressed his belief that the Turkish autho- 
rities here are anxious to carry out a system of religious 
toleration, and mentioned, as a proof of this, that whereas 
until lately the only place where the Christians of Scodra 
were allowed to meet for worship was a field in the 
suburbs, a church is now in course of erection in the 
plain. My companion enquired whether the evidence of 
Christians was received in the courts of justice. He re- 
plied in the negative ; the Pasha, he thought, was a fair 
man, and wished them to be heard, but as soon as he 
proposed it, the Cadi would retire, and without his sig- 
nature the verdict becomes void. The same is the case 
in the medjlis^ or council. Within a few years the Pasha 
has nominated amongst its members two Christians, one 
a representative of the Latin, the other of the Greek com- 
munity; but from fear of ill-usage they are absolute 
cyphers, and wholly unable to prevent injurious measures. 
Whatever political influence is exercised by any foreign 
power on the Christians of North Albania is in the hands 
of Austria, from which country almost all the Roman 
Catholic bishops come : the priests who are introduced 
from that country he regarded as being injurious, from 

* Hecquard, 'La Haute Albanie,* p. 380. This book, though frequently 
inaccurate, as every one on the spot maintained, and we ourselves disco- 
vered, comprises a great deal of valuable information, and is the only 
authority on the subject. I have made considerable use of the historical 
notices it contains. The large map which accompanies it is almost 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. XIII. Turks and Montenegrins, 283 

the political ferments which they occasionally cause, and 
the jealousy they arouse among the native priests. As 
to the relations of the Turks and Montenegrins, he seemed 
to think they were in a very precarious position, and that 
war might break out any day. There were faults on both 
sides. The Turks were unreasonably hard in pressing 
points with regard to the frontier line, and similar ques- 
tions, and if the British embassy at Constantinople were 
to urge them to a more conciliatory course, it was highly 
probable they would consent On the other hand, the 
Montenegrins were ever ready to take up a matter, how- 
ever slight, and make it a cause of quarrel. Not long 
before this the Austrian Government had made them a 
present (not a very judicious one) of 1500 rifles, imme- 
diately after which a movement was felt all along the 
frontier, and though nothing ultimately came of it, yet it 
was enough to cause an uneasy sensation. The Turks 
maintain that according to the last convention Mirkho 
has no right to live any longer in the country, whereas he 
is dignified with the offices of President of the Senate and 
Commander-in-chief of the Army.* 

In company with Mr. Read, we paid a visit to Ismael 
Pasha, the governor of this province, who was one of 
Omer Pasha's officers, an able and strong-handed man, 
and in good repute even among the Montenegrins. We 
found him sitting with the Russian consul in the garden 
of his serai, where he welcomed us in a very friendly 
manner, and entertained us with coffee, sherbet, and the 
never-failing cigarettes. Like most Pashas, he is exces- 

' The rights of the case are as follows. In the original draft of the 
Convention of Scutari, in 1862, it was arranged that Mirkho should be 
banished from the country ; but this article was subsequently modified, and 
it was agreed that he should remain, on condition of his holding no office in 
the State. See Ubicini, * Les Serbes de Turquie,' p. 273, where the text 
of the Convention is given. 

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284 Scodra and the Mirdita. Chap. XIII. 

sively fat, and had the strongly-marked features of the 
OsmanlL He is confident, we were told, that in case of 
a war he could easily penetrate to Cetinj6, and subdue 
the Montenegrins ; but when I looked at his portly frame, 
and thought of the passes above Rieka, I felt not a little 
doubtful whether he would accomplish the task in person. 
He was proud, and with reason, considering the time of 
year, of the flowers in his garden ; they were mostly nas- 
turtiums and other gay plants, for the Turks delight in 
gaudy colours. The soil of this plain is excellent, both 
for flowers and vegetables; the violets and other wild 
flowers in spring are described as magnificent ; but owing 
to the ignorance of the people, very few kinds of vege- 
tables are grown, except gourds ; and their potatoes, as I 
have said, are imported from Montenegro. Ismael's brass 
band was in attendance, and played a number of airs, 
partly Italian, partly Turkish, very fairly ; but as no 
Turk has any ear, their style of playing was better suited 
to the latter, which has that peculiarly raw, half-discordant 
sound which is characteristic of all Oriental music. How 
cleverly Beethoven has imitated it in his Turkish March 
in the * Ruins of Athens ! ' 

On our expressing a wish to visit the castle, the Pasha 
sent one of his aides-de-camp to accompany us. We 
found the fortifications in a ruinous state in many parts ; 
they are, in fact, those of the old Servian fortress, dating 
from the time when Upper Albania, under the title of the 
province of Rascia, formed a part of the Servian king- 
dom. But, from the isolated position of the lofty rock on 
which it stands, the view is a very remarkable one. To 
the north extends the wide expanse of the lake, its 
eastern shore bounded by level land or gradual slopes 
extending to the foot of the mountains of the Hotti and 

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Chap. XIII. View from the Castle. 285 

Clementi, while on the opposite side rises the grand rocky- 
wall that separates it from the sea, the last spurs of which 
sink into the plain at our feet on the right bank of the 
Boyana, thus terminating the long limestone chain which 
skirts the Adriatic throughout the whole length of Dal- 
matia and Montenegro. The river, — ^which, as it passes 
the bazaars, is spanned by a long ricketty wooden bridge, 
— winds away through level ground in the direction of the 
Adriatic, whose waters may be seen far off through an 
opening in the hills ; and just after it has skirted the 
castle hill, it receives the combined streams of two other 
rivers. One of these, the Chiri, flows on the south side 
of the city, and is a source of continual anxiety to the 
inhabitants from its winter inundations, which threaten 
sooner or later to sweep away the whole place. The 
other is a branch of the Drin, which broke away from the 
main river two years before our visit, and taking a 
northerly course forced its way as far as this point So 
seriously may the face of a country be injured, where 
barbarism and neglect prevail ! At the foot of the castle 
on the south side, and separated from the bazaars by a 
rocky hill, are the half-ruined houses of the old town of 
Scodra ; while the modem city stretches over a consi- 
derable part of the plain to the east, having the appear- 
ance of a sea of trees, with minarets and other lofty 
buildings rising out of it, a most picturesque sight. Far 
away to the south-east appeared the snow-capped moun- 
tains of the Mirdite Albanians ; and directly to the east, 
rising over the nearer ranges, a group of striking peaks 
in the direction of Ipek, one of them pyramidal in form. 
Of these peaks, which were the Bertiscus of ancient times, 
we shall hear more as we proceed. 

The castle height on which we are standing was the 

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286 Scodra and the Mirdita. Chap. XIIL 

site of the original town of Scodra, for this name, which 
has been transformed into Scutari * by the Italians, signi- 
fies " on the hill." At different periods of history it has 
been a place of considerable importance, and has sus- 
tained numerous sieges. The first of these is mentioned 
by Livy, who describes the place as difficult of access, 
and the best fortified town in the country, and surrounded 
by two rivers, the Clausula (Chiri) on the east, and the 
Barbana (Boyana) on the west, the latter of which flows 
from the Palus Labeatis (lake of Scodra).* On this occa- 
sion Gentius, the last king of Illyria, having provoked the 
hostility of the Romans by his piracies, was attacked and 
besieged by the Roman Praetor Anicius, and after an un- 
successful sally, compelled to surrender at discretion ; 
after which Illyria became a Roman province (b.c. i68). 
To pass over a number of minor sieges, it was again the 
scene of an important conflict in the year 1478, when 
the Venetians, to whom it had been ceded by Scanderbeg 

* I have all along avoided this form of the name, in order to distinguish 
this place from the better-known Scutari on the Bosphonis. 

* Livy, xliv. 31. The remainder of this passage is as obscure and con- 
fusing, as the earlier part is dear: — ''Duo cingunt eam flumina, Clausula 
latere urbis, quod in orientem patet, profluens, Barbanna ab r^one ocd- 
dentis, ex Labeatide palude oriens. Hi duo amnes confluentes incidunt 
Oriundi flumini, qiiod ortum ex monte Scordo, multis et aliis auctum aquis, 
mari Hadriatico infertur. Mons Scordus, long^ altissimus regionis ejus, ab 
oriente Dardaniam subjectam habet, a meridie Macedonian!, ab occasu 
Illyricum.'' As the Drin is the only other river in this neighbourhood, and 
rises in the Schar-dagh, or Scardus, the position of which, between Dar- 
dania, in the neighbourhood of the Axius, and Illyricum, is so clearly 
pointed out, it is reasonable to suppose that Oriundi, a word of suspicious 
sound, is an error of the author or transcriber for Drilon, or Drinio, the 
ancient name of that river, and that Livy made the mistake of supposing 
that the Boyana fell into the Drin. Another authority, Vibius Sequester, 
(*De Fluminibus,' s.v. Barbana, quoted by Grisebach, < Reise durch 
Rumelien,' il 118), distinctly states that the Barbana flowed into the sea. 
But it is curious that Livy should have so nearly anticipated the present 
state of things when a connexion actually exists between the two rivers. 

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Chap. XIII. Sieges. 287 

by a secret convention which came into force after his 
death, were blockaded there by Mahomet 11. for nine 
months, and only yielded it to him in consequence of a 
treaty of peace being -signed. And to come nearer to 
our own times, it was the head-quarters of Mahmoud 
Pasha, or Mahmoud the Black, as he is more commonly 
called, who in the latter half of the eighteenth century 
held a similar position in Northern Albania to that which 
Ali of Yanina afterwards held in the south ; and who, 
after long defying the Ottomans from whom he had re- 
volted, and cutting in pieces the detachments which they 
sent against him, was ultimately defeated and slain by 
the Montenegrins under their Vladika Peter I., into whose 
mountains in an evil hour he had penetrated (A.D. 1796)^ 
One of his successors, Mustapha, a man of less ability, 
but for a time not less formidable, again declared himself 
independent of the central government, and taking advan- 
tage of the time when Sultan Mahmoud's power had been 
weakened by his war with Russia and the unpopularity of 
his internal reforms, induced a large number of the neigh- 
bouring chieftains to join his standard, and marched 
against the Turkish forces. But the general who was 
sent against him, Mehemet Reschid Pasha, though the 
forces at his command were considerably inferior, was a 
man of far greater capacity. Mustapha was first defeated 
in the field, and then forced to shut himself up in this 
fortress, where, after sustaining a siege and bombardment, 
he was compelled to surrender by the explosion of his 
powder magazine (A.D. 1832). Since that time the Otto- 
man flag has waved peacefully over its battlements. 

The next point that we intended to make for in our 
journey was the country of the Mirdites, whose moun- 
tains I have mentioned as visible from the castle. They 
have the reputation of being the fiercest and most 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

288 Scodra and the Mirdita. Chap. XIII. 

warlike of all the Albanians, and have never been 
subdued by the Turks, of whom they are absolutely- 
independent, being governed by a Prince of their own, 
who is a descendant of Scanderbeg. They are the 
hereditary enemies of the Montenegrins ; and it was 
strange to think that within so short a distance we 
should visit two Christian peoples so strongly contrasted 
with one another, differing in race, political organization, 
and even religion, for the Mirdites are all Roman Catho- 
lics. We were doubtful before arriving at Scodra 
whether it would be possible for us to enter their country, 
but as the Prince has a residence in that city, Mr. Read 
had become acquainted with him, and undertook to pro- 
vide us with an introduction. He found on enquiry that 
a servant or messenger of Bib Doda (such is the Prince's 
name) was about to start on the morrow for Orosch, his 
mountain residence, with despatches from Ismael Pasha 
and other commissions ; and accordingly it was arranged 
that this person should accompany us and act as guide. 
We hired four horses of an Albanian carrier called Nicola, 
a fine-looking middle-aged man, and in every respect a 
most capital fellow, far superior to the ordinary run of 
carriers and muleteers : in the first instance we agreed to 
take him as far as Frisrend, but, as we found his horses 
very fair, and himself all that we could desire, we ulti- 
mately went through with him all the way to Salonica. 

Shortly after midday we left the city. Our path ran 
in a south-easterly direction along a plain near the foot 
of a range of mountains, and was bordered by agnus- 
castus bushes, pomegfranates, palluria, and other shrubs, 
festooned here and there by the wild vine : the land on 
both sides was fairly cultivated, in some places corri 
being grown, in others vines and mulberry trees, and in 
one spot I saw a patch of tobacco. In two hours and 

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Chap. XIII. The Drin. 

a half we reached the main stream of the Drln, from 
which the branch that has made its way to Scodra 
separates lower down: at this point it is from lOO to 
1 50 yards wide, a rushing turbid current, very different 
from the pellucid river which, on our former journey, we 
had seen issue from the Lake of Ochrida About half- 
way between these two points it receives the waters of 
the White Drin, which rises in the mountains of Ipek 
and flows from north to south, after which the combined 
streams take a westerly course towards the sea. From 
the appearance of its bed it must have a wider stream in 
the winter. Here there is a ferry, and considering that 
this is the high road between Scodra and Prisrend, the 
ferry-boat is of a most primitive description. It is" 
composed of two boats of no great size fastened together, 
each of which is made out of one piece of wood (monoxyla 
the Greeks call them), and is paddled for some distance 
up the stream with instruments more resembling spades 
than oars, and then drifted across to the other side. 
When horses are ferried over they are arranged cross- 
wise, with their fore-feet in one boat and their hind-feet 
in the other. Above the ferry the rocks close in and 
form a narrow gorge, which extends for a distance of not 
less than sixty miles up the course of the stream, with 
such precipitous sides that it is impossible for any road 
to follow in that direction. We were informed that it 
had been explored in the previous year by Von Hahn, 
with the object of discovering whether it could be 
rendered navigable, but that he found the rapids so 
numerous and so steep as to make the attempt to utilize 
it hopeless.* In consequence of this, the high road to 

* It is even said that in one part there is a waterfall 150 feet high. S::c 
the account given by a Turkish officer in an Appendix to Von Hahn's 
* Reise von Belgrad nach Salonik,' p. 207. 

VOL. I. U 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

290 Scodra and the Mirdita. Chap. XIII. 

Prisrend has to pass for several days* journey over exces- 
sively steep and rugged ground some way to the south 
of the river, having on one side the wild tribe of the 
Ducadjini, and on the other the Mirdites, part of whose 
territory it traverses in the most difficult portion of the 
route. This is one great source of the influence of that 
people, and a cause of their independence, for no sooner 
have they a grievance to complain of, or any difference 
with the Turks, than they infest this road and render it 
impassable, thereby destroying commerce, cutting off 
supplies, and, what is still more important, hindering 
reinforcements being sent from the interior in case of a 
war with Montenegro. This route has been described 
by Dr. Grisebach, who passed this way in 1839. 

After crossing the river we stopped by a solitary khan 
on the opposite bank to wait for our Albanian guide, 
who had left Scodra later than ourselves, and was to 
overtake us here. We made our dinner off provisions 
which we had brought with us, having being warned 
beforehand that we should find nothing, except perhaps 
coffee and spirits, at the miserable hovels which are 
built at intervals along the main road, and form the only 
accommodation for the traveller between Scodra and 
Prisrend. Nevertheless, as this is the only line of com- 
munication by which the produce of a large inland 
district can be brought to the sea, the amount of traffic 
is very considerable, as we could see from the number of 
well-laden horses bearing merchandize which passed us 
on the way. When Bib Doda's messenger arrived we 
again started, and followed the track until it began to 
ascend into the mountains, near which point was a small 
Christian church with some pretensions to architecture 
and rough ornamental stone-work. Here we left it, and 
skirted the edge of the plain of Zadrima, which stretches 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

•Chap. XIII. First Impressions. 291 

southwards in the direction of Alessio, forming the 
T>oundary of the Mirdita on this side. We soon found 
our native gfuide indispensable, for the slight traces of a 
path vanished when we came to the broad shingly bed of 
a river called Djadri, which we followed upwards, fre- 
quently crossing and recrossing the shallow stream, 
which from the appearance of its channel must at times 
be swelled into a furious torrent. On one side the rocks 
were of limestone — ^the last of this formation which we 
«aw until reaching Orosch — on the other they appeared 
igneous, which, according to Grisebach, is the character 
of the greater part of this mountain mass south of the 
Drin. These last, as well as the debris that had fallen 
from them, were of a deep red colour, so that, as evening 
approached, the shadows that were thrown along them 
by the trees on their sides assumed a rich purple hue. 
We were now within the territory of the Mirdites, and 
the wildness of the scenery harmonized well with all that 
we had heard of the character of the natives. Here and 
there, however, gentle nooks appeared, where bright 
green poplars, with patches of maize and small vine- 
yards, gave an aspect of cultivation ; and the cows 
coming up from the water, and the sheep following the 
shepherd, as in the parable, suggested thoughts of rural 
life, though these were somewhat marred by the long 
gun which the shepherd carried on his shoulder. At one 
X)oint, where the river makes a considerable bend, an 
armed party suddenly appeared from behind a mass of 
rock which projected above the valley, and, after hailing 
us, enquired where we were going. Our guide was not 
with us, having made a detour into the mountains to 
avoid wading the stream, but Nicola satisfied them by 
shouting that we were on our way to visit the Prince. 
At last, about nightfall, we left the river and mounted 

U 2 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

292 Scodra and the Mirdita, Chap. XIIE. 

to a small upland plain, in which was a solitary 
house, where our Albanian proposed that we should 
stop : but as it had been arranged that he should take 
us to a priest's house in the village of Castagneti, which 
was said to be not far distant, and our time was precious^ 
we resolved to proceed thither. Having mounted hin> 
on one of our horses, we stumbled along behind him by 
the light of the stars, over very rough places, while he 
extemporized a way so cleverly and with such perfect 
nonchalance, that we were deceived into the idea that he 
knew where he was going, until suddenly he disappeared, 
horse and all, down a bank five feet high. On re- 
appearing unhurt he confessed that he was wholly out of 
his reckoning, and condescended to go off in the direc- 
tion of a light which we saw at no great distance, and 
which proved to proceed from a shepherds' encampment. 
From them we learnt that Castagneti was in a wholly 
different direction, and that we had no chance of reaching 
it that night: so we unloaded our horses and turned 
them loose into the neighbouring g^rass, and having 
lighted a fire and partaken of a scanty supper, lay down 
to rest under a spreading ash-tree, and were soon fast 

On waking the next morning we found at our heads a 
large cross carved on the bark of the tree, a sure Sign 
that we were among Christians. Around us was a 
pretty glade, surrounded by oak brushwood and dwarf 
pines, and hard by ran a narrow stream, down the steep 
side of which our man had tumbled the night before. 
The shepherds were an uncouth-looking set, and, like all 
the Mirdites, excessively plainly dressed, in which 
respect they are a great contrast to the other gay 
Albanians, and especially to those of Scodra, in whose 
rich costumes there is a tasteful mixture of white and 

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Chap. XIII. Mir dite Dress. 293 

jred, while the women wear a large crimson cloak with a 
x:overing for the head, reminding one of the costume 
which old women used to wear in England. Amongst 
the Mirdites the dress of the men consists of a long 
white woollen coat, which serves also for a shirt, fastened 
round the waist by a red belt ; underneath this are 
white pantaloons of the same material, tied with orna- 
jnented bands about the ankle : their feet are protected 
by shoes of hide, and their heads by a close-fitting cap 
of white felL Their women present a more picturesque 
appearance, as, in addition to a coat similar to that of 
the men, they wear red trousers, an embroidered apron 
with a fringe eighteen inches long, and a blue handker- 
chief twisted round the head. They are a wiry, active 
people, but small in stature ; indeed they appeared to us 
quite pigmies after seeing the Montenegrins : their faces 
are sharp and keen, with a rough expression, but by no 
means an unpleasant one, for they are less wild and cruel- 
looking than the other Ghegs. They shave all the head 
except the back part, where the hair is allowed to g^ow 
to its full length (yiriBev KOfiodDinesi) ; and from this and 
other customs of theirs, which are generally characteristic 
of the Mahometan races in Turkey, the stranger finds 
it hard at first to persuade himself that they are 

The undulating country over which we passed after 
leaving our night's resting-place was covered with oak- 
trees, which are the characteristic vegetation of the north 
and west of the Mirdita. It is described by Dr. Grise- 
bach as being universally found in the neighbourhood of 
his route, and the dense masses of it which we saw ex- 
tended as far as the eye could reach ; nowhere else in 
Europe, in all probability, are such extensive oak forests 
to be found. . After gradually ascending for three hours, 

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294 Scodra and the Mirdita. Chap. XIIL. 

we reached San Giorgio, where there is a church and a 
priest's residence ; in former times, when the inhabitants 
of this district had reason to fear hostilities from the 
Turks, — in fact, until quite lately, — ^this was the seat oF 
the Bishop of the Mirdites ; of late years, however, since 
they have been on good terms with their neighbours, he 
has removed to a place in the plain of Zadrima, not far 
distant from Alessio.* The little church is of the rudest 
description ; the sun shines through the rafters, and not 
only is there no church furniture, but there is not even a 
regular altar, the place of which is taken by a ledge of 
stone in a tiny apse which is scooped out of the eastern 
wall ; outside the west end there is a similar ledge, where 
the service is celebrated on great festivals, such as St. 
George's day, when two or three thousand people are: 
gathered together. This was once the metropolitan 
cathedral. We betook ourselves to the priest's house, 
which stood on a little eminence hard by, but the doors, 
were barred, and all our shouting and knocking elicited no 
responses except the loud barking of dogs. When we 
were on the point of going away in despair, the priest 
himself, Don Nicola Bianchi, appeared, having come in 
from the fields where he had been working. Don is the 
title applied to all the priests throughout this country. 
He was a jolly, broad-shouldered, bustling little man, 
dressed in a costume anything but ecclesiastical, which 
however is the regular dress of the Mirdite priests — a- 
red fez cap, a cloth jacket, apd full blue trousers gathered 
in below the knee, like those worn by Greek sailors. He 
spoke Italian, like all the priests of this country, who 
learn it at Scodra, a circumstance which we found ex- 
tremely serviceable, as we could in this way hold direct 

^ The Bishop of Alessio seems also to have some authority in this, 
country, but of what character it was we could not discover. 

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Chap. XIII. ' The Priest of St. George. 295 

communication with them. He expressed himself greatly- 
delighted at seeing us, and in a surprisingly short time 
had washed his floor, made coffee, killed a lamb, and 
prepared a good dinner, for which the mountain air had 
duly qualified our appetites. Of this he did not himself 
partake, as it was the vigil of St James's day, but he 
gfreatly enjoyed the bread, cheese, and tobacco, which we 
had brought with us from Scodra, for his own bread was 
of maize and roughly baked, and his tobacco of a very 
coarse description. He was proud of his wine, which he 
said the Prince himself had praised, and of his water, 
which he considered the lightest and best in the Mirdita. 
The room in which he entertained us had a decidedly 
martial aspect, from the number of guns and pistols hung 
about the walls ; these apparently are not unnecessary, 
for when he showed us round his premises, he described 
how, a few years ago, he was obliged to cut down all the 
trees and bushes in the neighbourhood of the house, on 
account of the robbers who concealed themselves there. 
Besides this sitting-room he had a kitchen and a bed- 
room, in which were several books of devotion ; all these 
were on the upper storey, for the lower part was occupied 
by stables and outhouses. In the garden close by, a large 
bell is suspended in a frame, and serves to call the people 
to church. 

Don Nicola had served as Chaplain-General of the 
Mirdite forces under Bib Doda, in the campaign in 
Bulgaria, at the commencement of the Russian war, when 
he led 1200 men to the assistance of the Sultan, — as 
auxiliaries, however, for, unlike the rest of the Albanians, . 
the Mirdites never serve as mercenaries. He was present 
at the battle of Giurgevo and the siege of Silistria, where 
he remembered the heroic Captain Butler. For these 
services he had received a decoration of the 3rd order of 

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296 Scodra and tfu Mirdita, Chap. XIII. 

the Medjidie, which he showed us, together with 2. finnan 
from the Sultan, written in gilt letters. "Ah ! you should 
have seen me," he said, " as I charged at the head of my 
men, with the cross in my hand !" "And a sword, per- 
haps, in the other?" I suggested. He laughed, but 
would not plead guilty to the soft impeachment. He 
expressed himself anxious to get an English Crimean 
medal, for though he had not been in the Crimea, yet he 
had taken part in the war, and he knew others who had 
received them in different parts of the country. The 
Prince was evidently a great object of admiration with 
him, and he described him to us as a bravo giovine. 

In answer to our enquiries our host informed us that 
there is a large quantity of metals in the country, — lead, 
iron, and silver; also coal, though it had never been 
worked, but some of the surface coal was so good that 
they could boast that a steamer had once made a voyage 
with it. Besides these, the resin which is extracted from 
their pine-trees might be made an article of commerce, 
together with the timber, of which they have so inex- 
haustible a supply; yet none is exported except the 
scodanOf which is used in dyeing. As to his own pro- 
fession, he told us that there are thirteen priests in the 
country, all of whom are native Albanians, except one, 
who is an Italian. The number of course is extremely 
small for a scattered population of more than 20,ocx) 
souls, but the churches are more numerous, and services 
are held from time to time in different places. These the 
people attend in great numbers, and they are careful in 
observing the fasts and festivals, but how superficial their 
Christianity is may be gathered from a fact which I 
heard at Orosch, that many of them are accustomed to 
pray to our Lord to intercede for them with St Nicolas, 
who is the leading saint of the country. Having touched 

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Chap. XIII. Religious Views. 297 

on ^heir religion, I may as well take the opportunity of 
saying a few more words about that subject. They are 
an extremely fanatical people, and will not under any 
circumstances allow a Mahometan to settle among them, 
nor is any insult offered to their religion suffered to pass 
unavenged. M. Hecquard relates, that at the time when 
the Pasha of Scodra opposed the building of a Roman 
Catholic seminary for priests, which was being con- 
structed in that place under Austrian auspices, and 
caused the walls that had been partly raised to be thrown 
down, the Mirdites prepared to descend into the plain to 
destroy a mosque, in requital of the wrong done to their 
faith, and that he himself met a body of 300 of them 
starting on such an expedition, and with difficulty per- 
suaded them to abstain, by pointing out to them the 
persecutions they were likely to bring on their fellow 
Christians in the plains."' At what exact time this 
country finally attached itself to the Latin Church it is 
hard to say, for having belonged first to the Byzantine 
empire, and then to the Servian kingdom, and, on the 
other hand, from its proximity to Italy, having at an 
early period had sees founded in it from Rome, Upper 
Albania was for many centuries the scene of continual 
struggles between the eastern and western communions, 
and swayed backwards and forwards from one to the 
other, according as force or policy required. Roman 
Catholic writers fix the date at which the change took 
place at A.D. 1250, quoting two letters of Innocent IV., 
in which he states that the whole of the province of 
Albania, following the example of their bishop, had 
joined the Catholic Church;® but there is evidence to 

7 Hecquard, *La Haute Albanie,* p. 225. 

® Baronius, as quoted by Hahn, * Albanesische Studien,' voL L p. 343, 
note »7. 

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298 Scodra and the Mirdita. Chap. XIII, 

show that the Greek Church exercised a powerful influ- 
ence in these parts until a much later period. Even at 
the present day a number of Greek observances remain 
embodied in the Latin rite, the most remarkable of 
which is the communion in both kinds. 

San Giorgio is by the barometer 2070 feet above the 
sea ; and from its commanding situation the view is one 
of the finest in the country. Far away to the north- 
west the castle of Scodra and its lake were clearly 
visible; the rest was a grand mountain panorama, the 
chief points in which were the conical Monte V^lia to 
the west, on the other side of which lies Alessio, and 
to the south-east the lofty peak of Mount Dyia, patched 
with snow, the highest summit in the Mirdita. The 
whole was harmonized by the soft blue of a midday 

Seeing a chestnut tree close by the house, I enquired 
whether any were found at Castagneti, the place where 
we were to have passed the previous night Don Nicola 
answered that there were several there, and that, as I had 
supposed, the name of the village was almost certainly 
derived from the Italian name for the tree It is one of 
many instances of the way in which words and names in 
that language have filtrated into the Albanian ; thus 
prift^ the Albanian for " priest," comes undoubtedly from 
that source, and our host's surname had distinctly an 
Italian sound. Speaking of Castagneti he also told us 
that in the neighbourhood of that place is the site 
of Castri, the birthplace of Scanderb^ from which he 
derived his name of George Castriote 

Having taken an affectionate farewell of our hospitable 
entertainer, who would hardly hear of our not passing 
the night with him, we pursued our way through a country 

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Chap. XIII. Rivers^ 299 

of exquisite beauty, at one time penetrating into the 
loveliest dells imaginable, at another crossing the uplands,, 
from which the eye ranged over a wide extent of moun- 
tains, whose sides and slopes seem clothed with velvet 
from their unbroken covering of oak foliage. Shortly 
after leaving San Giorgio we first caught sight of the 
village of Orosch, some twenty miles distant in a direct 
line to the east, and appearing like a white spot in the 
midst of a triangfular patch of cultivation lying in an 
open gully, which seamed the side of the distant moun- 
tain chain. From this point we descended first to the 
river Sperthoz, and again, after crossing an intervening 
range of hills, to the greater Fandi, the main stream of 
the country, which receives the waters of all the other 
rivers of this part of the Mirdita, except those on its 
northern frontier, which fall into the Drin. The Fandi 
in turn drains into the Matja, which flows from the 
district called the Mat, on the southern confines of 
the Mirdites, and enters the sea some way south of Alessio. 
By the fords of the Sperthoz and the Fandi we saw 
remains of bridges, testifying to the existence of more 
frequent communication in former times. After the 
passage of the latter of these rivers a very long and steep 
ascent succeeds, where a winding-path leads up the face 
of a rocky wall ; when this is surmounted, as we descend 
again towards the deep valley of the lesser Fandi, the 
trees become less numerous, and vegetation continually 
decreases as we follow its stream upwards in the direc- 
tion of Orosch. At last we struck up a side valley 
through the bed of a tributary stream, and about nine 
o'clock saw a bright light gleaming through the dark- 
ness, which we were told proceeded from the palace. 
Towards this we made our way, stumbling along over 

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30O Scodra and the Mirdita. Chap. XIII. 

a rugged track, in the midst of the flashing light of 
numerous fire-flies, until at last we passed through a 
gateway, and entering a courtyard found ourselves in 
front of the dwelling of Prince Bib. While our letter of 
introduction is being read, and preparation made for our 
reception, let me endeavour to describe it 

The palace or castle of Orosch is an ideal residence of 
a mountain chieftain, and both the building itself and the 
life enacted within it carried our thoughts back in many 
respects to the wildest times of the Middle Ages. The 
walls are massively constructed of stone, with loopholes 
at intervals, for purposes of defence, and the whole 
structure forms an irregular oblong, one end or wing of 
which is occupied by the Prince and his family. This 
part we did not enter, for the women were kept in as 
complete seclusion as in a Turkish harem ; of the rest, 
the ground floor is taken up with stables, while a flight 
of stone steps leads up to a large hall, open to the air in 
front, which occupies the greater part of the upper storey. 
From the roof of this was suspended an iron frame, con- 
taining pieces of resinous pine-wood, whose bright flame 
sent forth the light that we had seen on our approach. 
The walls on three sides of it were hung with long gfuns, 
richly set with silver and beautifully polished, for this is 
the occupation of the men, while the women perform the 
more menial ofiices. At the back of this are large un- 
furnished chambers occupied by the retainers and guards, 
who, from their fierce look and the long locks that 
streamed from the backs of their heads, appeared some 
of the wildest of the human race ; and its sides are 
flanked by two good-sized rooms, one of which formed 
the dining-hall, while the other was appropriated to our 
use as a bedroom. Both of these are roofed with the 

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Chap. XIII. Palace of Orosch. 301 

pinewood of the mountains, which was fragrant as cedar 
and beautifully carved. Round the walls, about a third of 
the way down, runs a cornice of the same material, below 
which stand handsome buffets for containing valuables. 
The windows are small, and carefully guarded with iron 
bars, and the hearths are open, the chimney not com- 
mencing until near the roof, which in consequence is 
blackened with smoke. 

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( 302 ) 


THE MIRDITA {continued). 

The Mirdite Prince — History of his Family — Political Constitution of the 
Mirdita — Administration of Justice — Fraternal Friendships — Ravages 
of the Vendetta — The Prince's Hospitality — Derivation of the name 
Mirdite — Excursion to the Monte Santo — View from it — Topography 
of the Country — Capture of Wives — McLennan on * Primitive 
Marriage ' — Prevalence of the Custom of Exogamy — Bridc'racing 
— Mirdite Wives Mahometans. 

As we were almost the only Europeans who had visited 
Orosch within the memory of its inhabitants, we were 
received with great distinction. Having been ushered 
into the dining-hall we found the Prince waiting to 
welcome us, which he did with profuse offers of hospi- 
tality, and apologies for the roughness of the entertain- 
ment we should meet with. He excused himself from 
supping with us, as it was a fest-day, and after a time 
retired, leaving us to the care of his aide-de-camp, AH 
Bey, a Hungarian by birth, and an officer in the Turkish 
army, and his secretary, Dr. Theodore Finzi, an Italian. 
Here again, as in Montenegro, we were fortunate in 
falling in with educated people, who could furnish us 
with the information we required, for both these gentle- 
men spoke Italian, and M. Finzi French also. Of the 
latter gentleman in particular I may say, that he was not 
only an agreeable companion, but remarkably well in- 
formed about the circumstances and statistics of the 
country. The party was completed by Don Giorgio, a 
rather sinister-looking man, the priest of a neighbouring 
village, who was staying there on a visit 

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Chap. XIV. The Mirdite Prince. 303 

Prenk Bib Doda is a powerfully built man of about 
forty years of age, with a dark olive complexion, pro- 
minent bony features, and an unintelligent expression of 
countenance. He is described by those who are ac- 
quainted with him as one to whom fear is unknown, and 
he has greatly distinguished himself in several campaigns 
in which he has assisted the Turkish Government — in 
Southern Albania, against the Montenegrins, and finally 
in the campaign on the Danube in 1854, where the 
prowess of the Mirdites was conspicuous. In recognition 
of his services on this last occasion he received from the 
Porte the title of Pasha, a dignity, however, which is, 
rather lightly esteemed in his own country, though he 
wears the dress of an officer of that rank. The title of 
Prenk, which is prefixed to his name, though it is in 
reality a Christian name, being another form of Peter, has 
come to be regarded, even among his own people, as 
equivalent to Prince. " Vous le trouverez unpen barbare** 
M. Finzi observed to us, apologetically ; and it is true 
that he can neither read nor write, and speaks no lan- 
guage but his native Albanian, though he understood a 
good deal of what we said in Italian ; but he is reported 
to have a good influence in the country, while a more 
civilized man might very possibly have no influence 
at all. 

Under the same roof where we were quietly passing 
the night, a series of domestic tragedies had been enacted 
not very long before, hardly unworthy of the palace of 
Atreus at Mycenae. To give the reader some idea 
of these, it is necessary to go back to the early history of 
the existing family. The ancestor to whom they prin- 
cipally refer as the head of their dynasty was Gion 
Marcu (John Mark), a renowned warrior, who lived in 
the first half of the eighteenth century, and having gained 

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304 TJie Mirdita. Chap. XIV: 

great fame by his success against the Turks, lent his 
assistance, for which a high price was paid, to the native 
Pashas in their resistance to the central government. It 
was he who first established his residence at Orosch. 
After his death he was succeeded by his eldest son, Prenlc 
Lech I. (Peter Alexander), who like him made war his 
profession and was killed in battle, leaving three sons, 
Prenk Lech II., Dod Lech, and Lech Sii (Alexander the 
Black) ; it is with these, as the ancestors of the existing 
members of the family, that we are most directly con- 
cerned. And here I may notice how often the shortened 
form of the name of Alexander occurs in these records, 
as it does also in the names of Lesendria, the island in 
the Lake of Scodra, in Alessio,* and in other names found 
in these parts. In some cases this is probably to be 
referred to the national recollection of Scanderbeg. 

Prenk Lech II., the eldest of the three, who succeeded 
his father as chief of the Mirdites by right of birth, at 
first allied himself with Mahmoud the Black of Scodra, 
and was with him in Montenegro at the time of his 
death. At a later period, he put his arms at the disposal 
of Ali Pasha of Yanina, and when Mustapha Pasha of 
Scodra became a formidabje rival to that potentate, at 
Ali's instigation he became a thorn in his side, con- 
tinually ravaging the plain of Zadrima, and pillaging the 
villages of the Mussulmans, until at last he was bought 
off by the payment of a sum of money. Like most of 
his race, he died of the wounds he received in fight, leaving 
his command to his son, Prenk Doda, the gfrandfather 
of the present Prince. This chieftain is reported to have 
shown himself intelligent and humane as well as brave, 

' The name of this town appears to be a corruption of the ancient name 
of Lissus; but its Albanian name of Lesch is, at all events, adapted to the 
local form of the name Alexander. 

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Chap. XIV. History of the Family, 305 

but his tenure of power was of short duration, for after 
fighting in the Morea at the time of the Greek revolution, 
he was poisoned by a Turkish woman at Scodra, and is 
buried at Cattaro, to which place he had gone in hopes 
of obtaining medical aid. His legitimate successor was 
his brother Nicola, but as he was a minor, the command 
was for the time entrusted to his uncle. Lech Sii, the 
youngest son of Prenk Lech I., and the fiercest and 
darkest character of his race. After some years, how- 
ever, this Alexander the Black was exiled to Yanina by 
order of the Grand Vizir, Mehemet Reschid Pasha, 
against whom he had sided with Mustapha in his war 
against the Porte, and was forced to surrender along 
' with that despot at the siege of Scodra. He thus disap- 
pears for the present from the scene, and his nephew 
assumed the command. 

It was at this time that the furies of the vendetta were 
let loose on the devoted house, and, as it is said, not 
without the co-operation of the Turkish authorities, who 
were only too glad of an opportunity of weakening a 
powerful neighbour. The sons of Alexander the Black, 
having seen their father in power, were jealous at the 
chieftainship having passed into the hands of their cousin, 
and at the instigation of their father, whom the Pasha 
of Scodra had promised to recall from exile, laid frequent 
plots against his life. But Nicola was aware of their 
machinations, and when he had several times parried 
their attempts, and at last saw no way of escape for 
himself except by anticipating the blow, had all three 
put to death in one day. Directly after this occurrence, 
the sentence of banishment against Lech Sii was an- 
nulled, and he reappeared on the scene, thirsting for 
vengeance. At first, at the earnest entreaty of the 
clergy, he consented to be reconciled to his nephew ; but 


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3o6 TheMirdita. Chap. XIV, 

a Mirdite never really forgets that blood has been shed, 
and accordingly it was not long before he watched an 
opportunity of taking Nicola unawares, and killed him 
one day when his back was turned, as he washed his 
hands before dinner. 

The moment had now arrived when the women of the 
family should take their share in the bloody work. 
Within a year after this treacherous deed, the murderer 
himself was slain in the night-time by the wife of his 
victim ; and on this followed a massacre, set on foot 
by the wife of Lech Sii in default of any male avenger, 
from which the present Prince only escaped by being 
removed from Orosch in the darkness, concealed in a 
chest. At last, when the family was on the eve of 
extinction, a truce was established, and as the number of 
deaths on both sides was found to be equal, they 
agreed that the past should be forgotten, — ^that Bib Doda, 
being the representative of the eldest branch, should 
be recognised as chieftain, — and that the rest of his rela- 
tions should dwell with him in the palace which had 
been the scene of the drama. They are but three in: 
number, two of them being of the second branch, 
descendants of Dod Lech, the* second son of Prenk 
Lech L, while the third is the son of Alexander the 
Black, and is said to inherit the ferocity of his father. 
Together with them live the two murderesses, the wives 
of Nicola and of Lech Sii.* Such was the happy family 
into which we were now introduced 

On leaving my room the next morning, I found M. 
Finzi outside, and proceeded with him to a small kiosk 
or summer-house, which projects from the front of the 
hall, and commands an extensive view, reaching almost 

' This notice is abridged from Hecquard, pp. 235-242. 

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Chap. XIV. Political Constitution. 307 

to the sea, of the deep valley to the west, while close in 
front the sloping green maize fields, interspersed with 
walnut and other trees, and a few cottages, form a 
refreshing object to the eye. Behind the house the 
mountain side rises steeply ; and in consequence of its 
western aspect and the gully in which it lies, the place 
only sees the sun for a few hours in winter, while in 
summer the heat is excessive during the afternoon. Both 
in the kiosk, and in a tent which had been set up in the 
court at the side of the house, I had long conversations 
with the Secretary at different times of the day : from 
these the information about the country which I have to 
communicate to the reader is mainly derived. 

The constitution of the Mirdita is a sort of military 
aristocracy ; for though there is a hereditary chief, and an 
assembly, in which the whole people is represented, yet 
the power is really vested in the heads of the chief 
families. All the relatives of the Prince have the title 
of Captain, and command the divisions of the army 
under him in time of war ; but they have no direct 
political influence in the country. Each district has its 
bayrakdar, or standard bearer, under whom are the 
senators. These are the heads of their respective clans, 
so that the office is hereditary, and a child may be a 
senator, only in that case his functions are administered 
by his guardian until he is of age. No measures can be 
taken without the consent of the bayrakdars and senators ; 
and when matters of the greatest importance have to be 
discussed, a council of the whole nation is called — that is 
to say, a representative is sent from each family; but 
these have practically no influence in the deliberations, 
and are only summoned in order to give weight to the 
general decision. When called together by the Prince, this 
senate meets at Orosch ; but they have also the power of 

X 2 

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3o8 The Mirdita. Chap. XIV. 

\ \ 

fneeting on their own account, in which case their rendez- 
vous i^ a church of St Paul in another part of the 
country, which belongs to no parish, but serves for an 
independent central point for the whole Mirdita. Only 
two days before our visit one of these parliaments had 
been held at the palace ; on which occasion three oxen 
and several sheep and goats had been killed, and great 
feasting had taken place at Bib Doda's expense. This 
kind of hospitality is always expected of the chief ; and 
when he is at Scodra, he keeps open house for any 
of his tribe who come there, and a sheep is killed every 
day for the entertainment of the lower classes. 

Justice is administered in the different districts by the 
senators according to the origfinal laws of the Ducadjini, 
from which tribe, though it has now become Mahometan, 
the Mirdites consider themselves to be descended. The 
rigour of these is extreme, and in some cases barbarous, 
as was shown by an instance that had lately occurred, 
where a woman who had murdered her husband was 
sentenced, . according to the law, to be burned alive. 
At the late meeting of the senate the Prince had 
endeavoured to persuade them to change the punish- 
ment and abolish the savage custom, but he did not 
seem as yet to have carried his point. In many 
similar ways he appears to be exerting his influence 
on the side of humanity ; thus the custom of salting and 
keeping the heads of enemies killed in battle, though 
it existed later, here than among the Montenegrins, is 
now forbidden. "But you must not think," observed 
Mr. Finzi, " that severity, not to say violence, is other- 
wise than necessary in dealing with this wild people. 
This was forcibly impressed on me by an occurrence 
that happened shortly after I entered the Prince's 
service. It was at Constantinople, to which place he 

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Chap. XIV. Administration of Justice. 309 

had gone to receive from the Sultan the title of Pasha, 
taking with him a number of his retainers. One of these, 
a groom, stayed out very late several nights, contrary 
to order, and was sharply reprimanded by his master for 
so doing. One night, however, he repeated the offence, 
and on his coming in the Prince was greatly enraged, 
and at once ordered him to receive one hundred blows 
of the bastinado on his feet. This punishment was 
inflicted in a room adjoining that in which I was sleeping, ^ 
and I was horrified at being waked by the shrieks of the 
miserable creature piercing the stillness of the night. 
On learning what was going on I was extremely dis- 
gusted at such barbarity, and determined to send in my 
resignation to the Prince the next morning. About 
daylight, however, two hours after this had happened, 
I visited the sufferer, and to my surprise found him 
sitting up and drinking a cup of coffee. As soon as he 
saw me, he hobbled across the room to me on his 
mangled soles, kissed my hand, and entreated me, — not, 
as I had expected, to procure him his escape from such 
treatment, but — to intercede for him with his master, that 
he might not be discharged from his service." 

The custom of forming fraternal friendships, and having 
adopted brothers {pobratim), is common among the 
Mirdites, as it is also among some of the other races 
of European Turkey. According to this, two young 
men engage to support and aid one another during their 
lives in all contingencies, whether of war or peace. This 
relationship, which reminds us of some of the passionate 
attachments of ancient history, such as those of David 
and Jonathan, of Achilles and Patroclus, is regarded as of 
the most sacred and inviolable character, insomuch that 
in some places, according to M. Hecquard, the children of 
those who have contracted the alliance are not allowed 

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3 lO The Mirdita. Chap. XIV. 

to marry one another ; and the same writer mentions the 
ceremony of initiation observed by some, in which the 
two persons, after receiving the Communion together, 
have a small quantity of their blood mixed in a bowl of 
wine, which is drunk by both when they have sworn an 
oath of fidelity, — a primitive form of contract mentioned 
by Herodotus' as existing among the Lydians and Scy- 
thians, and by Tacitus,* as practised by the Armenians 
and Iberians. It used even to happen that alliances of 
this sort were formed between persons of different sexes, 
but this is now of rare occurrence, for *^ messieurs les 
pritreSy' said the Secretary, appealing for confirmation to 
Don Giorgfio, who was standing by, "find that it often 
leads to concubinage, and use all their influence to put it 

The account he gave of the vendetta confirmed all that 
we had already heard of its ravages. Rightly, indeed, 
has it been called " the web of murderous feuds at which 
the barbarian sits all his life weaving, and which he 
bequeaths to his children."* The following instance 
which he mentioned may give an idea of its interminable 
character. Fifty years ago two men of this country 
quarrelled, and fought so desperately, that both of them 
died of the wounds they received Time rolled on, until 
It might have been thought that the event was forgotten. 
But it had happened that as they lay wounded on the 
ground, one of them had managed to deal the other a 
blow over the head, which caused him to die first The 
recollection*of this circumstance had been preserved, and 

* Herod., i. 74; iv. 70. 

* Tac, 'Ann.,* xii. 47. It would also seem to have been found among 
the Romans, from the existence of the word "assiratum" in Latin, signi* 
fying a mixture of wine and blood. 

* *Ecce Homo,' p. 299. 

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Chap. XIV. Ravages of the Vendetta. 311 

only the other day a descendant of the one who died 
first presented himself before a descendant of the other, 
and reminded him of the fact, threatening at the same 
time to burn his whole village unless he gave him one 
hundred goats by way of satisfaction. The Prince heard 
of the affair, and, sending for the man, persuaded him to 
delay his vengeance; but beyond this he could not 
proceed, for the laws of blood are superior to every other 
law. Thus the matter stood at the time of our visit 
This state of things has given rise to an institution^ * 
the existence of which forcibly realises to us the value of 
a similar establishment among the Jews. A number 
of the Mirdites who had fled their country as com- 
promised persons from fear of assassination, formed 
themselves into a colony, and settled in the plain near 
Prisrend, where they work as labourers. They have 
since been joined by many others who have left their 
homes for the same reason, and in this way the place has 
become a complete city of refuge. 

At ten o'clock we breakfasted with the Prince in the 
dining-hall : the party consisted of the Prince, his aide- 
de-camp and secretary, Don Giorgio, and ourselves. The 
entertainment had decidedly a martial appearance, for 
though the guests were not expected to "carve at the 
meal with gloves of steel," yet the dishes were handed to 
us by fierce-looking warriors (among them was one of the 
captains), with their belts full of pistols and daggers. A 
German butler, a Prussian by extraction, acted as major 
domOy so that the room contained a curious mixture of 
nationalities, — Italian, Hungarian, German, English, and 
Albanian. Before we took our places it was carefully 
inquired which of us was the elder, that he might be 
seated on the Prince's right hand : and when breakfast 
was half over, a boiled lamb's head was brought in on a 

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312 The Mirdita. Chap. XI v:. 

dish and placed before our host, who immediately trans- 
ferred it to my plate, to my no slight astonishment, until 
it was explained to me that this is the highest compliment 
in Albania, and is given to the man whom the chief 
"delighteth to honour." His idea of hospitality con- 
sisted in ordering that we should be helped to as much 
as possible, and that the silver tankards which were 
placed before us should be continually refilled with the: 
light wine of the country. Though he often apologized 
for the roughness of our reception, the viands were excel- 
lent, if not much varied On one occasion he tumbled 
on to my plate with his own hands half a dishful of mul- 
berries, a fruit which is scarce in these parts ; indeed I 
was surprised to find them at all at such an elevation, for 
Orosch is 2360 feet above the sea ; but there was a fine 
mulberry-tree growing in front of the building. The 
quantity of meat forced upon us at length became em- 
barrassing, until we were told that this profuse hospitality 
was the custom of the country, and a compliment, so that 
we should give no offence by leaving what we were not 
inclined for. All this was truly patriarchal, and our 
thoughts naturally reverted to Benjamin's mess, the size 
of which seems at first sight rather a questionable token 
of fraternal affection when all the party had as much 
as they could eat. The Prince's possessions are of an 
equally patriarchal character, consisting of 800 oxen and 
cows, 1300 sheep, and a number of horses and other 
cattle besides. Before the end of the meal, the Prince's 
son was introduced, — a tall fat boy of six years' old, with 
a round, heavy face, and dressed for the occasion in richly 
embroidered clothes. We rose to receive him, but his 
father requested us to be seated, and made him kiss our 

Hearing us mention the name of Scanderbeg, he told 

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Chap. XIV. Tlie name Mirdite. 3 1 3 

us he could show us a likeness of his reputed ancestor. 
Accordingly he ordered a book to be brought, which 
proved to be a life of that hero in Italian ; and, after 
turning over a number of the pages, holding the volume 
upside down, he had the satisfaction of displaying to us 
the grim (though not genuine) portrait. Passing from 
the domain of history to that of philology, he proceeded 
to explain the derivation of the name Mirdite, according 
to the tradition of the country. This relates that, on 
the morning of the battle of Kossova, Sultan Amurath 
meeting the chief of their tribe, who had brought an 
auxiliary force to his assistance, was saluted by him with 
the words mire dite ("good day " in Albanian) ; and that 
in consequence of this, when the battle was over, and he 
undertook to guarantee the rights of his valiant allies> 
he gave them the name of Mirdites, in commemoration 
of the words of good omen which he had heard in the 
morning.® Though this explanation is inadmissible, yet 
it has some plausibility in it ; for it will be remembered 
that in the Russian war the English and French soldiers 
who fraternized, used commonly to know one another 
only by the names of "I say" and "Dis done;" and 
readers of French history are aware that the regular 
name in French for the English at the time of Joan of 
Arc, was derived from an expression (not a very pious 
one) which was frequently in their mouths.^ 

In the course of the day it was proposed to us to make 
an expedition to the highest point of the mountain be- 
hind Orosch, which is called the Monte Santo. We were 
accompanied by Ali Bey with six attendants, three on 
horseback and three on foot, one of whom, an excessively 

• See also Hecquard, p. 233. 

' Michelet gives it as **Godden;" see also Sharon Turner's 'History of 
England in the Middle Ages,' ii. p. 567. 

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3 14 Tfte Mirdita. Chap. XIV. 

wild-looking fellow, though clad in the ordinary costume 
of the country, was a captain ; he is said to be a lion in 
battle, and one would not, I think, be far wrong in re- 
cognising in him the son of the ferocious Lech Sii. As 
soon as we were outside the palace, a feu de joie was 
fired, the guns being discharged at random, and the 
bullets flying in all directions about the valley. Our 
•cavalcade mounted the hill-side diagonally by a steep 
path, until a depression in the mountain-chain was 
reached ; from this we proceeded upwards over grassy 
slopes to a spring by the side of a cavern, in which in 
former times was a chapel of St George, though now it 
has been destroyed by a fall of rock. While we were 
resting at this place, a little diversion was caused by an 
accident happening to my saddle, which nearly resulted 
in the loss of that important part of a traveller's equip- 
ment. One of the Albanian attendants, wishing to make 
fast his horse, had attached his saddle to the stirrup- 
leathers of mine. The horse became fidgety, and at last 
by continual pulling dragged the saddle over the hind- 
quarters of my horse, a process which the bad girths of 
the country render comparatively easy ; and then, finding 
himself encumbered with this unusual appendage, took 
fright, and galloped off across country at full speed with 
the unhappy saddle trailing behind him. After he had 
gone about three-quarters of a mile, he pulled up, and 
one of the men was sent to secure him : meanwhile I had 
requested to be mounted on another horse, and we pro- 
ceeded up the mountain. At last we reached a very 
3teep part of the path, called the Scala SantOy where the 
rock was broken in steps (it was curious to hear the 
Italian words mutilated by the Albanians) ;® and on 

• Thus in Count Karaczay's map, which was constructed from informa- 
tion orally obtained, the Monte Santo is called Monte Scintet, or Shintit. 

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Chap. XIV. The Monte Santo. 3 1 5 

reaching the top of this we found a rude stone church, 
dedicated to St Benedict, with the ruins of an old Bene- 
dictine monastery, close to which rose a clump of finely- 
grown elms, the only ones which I saw in the country. 
Of the history of the place we could learn nothing. 

From this point we were taken to a spot about a 
quarter of a mile off, where was a deep hole, descending 
for some distance into the bowels of the earth, which was 
regarded with great wonder by the natives, from the 
booming sound it emitted when a large stone was cast 
down, and bounded from point to point of the narrow 
passage. A story of course was attached to it, and a 
very rigmarole one it was — ^how that a similar cavern 
existed in another part of the Mirdita, where the rever- 
berations of any sound produced in this place were 
heard ; and that once a shepherd, who had been robbed 
of his flock, by casting a stone down this hole sent tidings 
of his misfortune to his brother, who was feeding his 
sheep near the mouth of the other. It is an example of 
the small amount of consistency that a half-savage people 
require in a legend. A shooting match was then pro- 
posed, and, as a mark, I pointed out the broken stump 
of a fir-tree about five feet high, peeled and white, some 
300 yards off, on the other side of a gorge. My com- 
panion borrowed an European rifle from one of the party, 
and hit it in the middle, sending the splinters flying 
all about. Then came an Albanian with his long thin- 
stocked gun, and grazed the edge ; another followed, and 
missed ; last of all came the fortunate possessor of the 
rifle, and struck it full. Evidently the native weapon is 
not constructed for precision. At last we mounted to 
the grassy summit, which is 4890 feet above the sea, 
and a salvo was fired in honour of our arrival. On 
hearing this, the party we had left below returned the 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

3 1 6 The Mirdita, Chap. XIV. 

salute, and as they aimed their pieces in the direction 
from which the sound had come, we heard their bullets 
whizz over our heads, or spatter against the rocks below 
us, in a manner not wholly agreeable. From this eleva- 
tion almost the whole of the Mirdita is visible, together 
with a great part of the rest of Upper Albania. The 
wild Captain was here of the greatest service to us, for he 
proved to have a far more accurate knowledge of the 
geography and of the positions of the neighbouring tribes 
than any one else in the company. By means of his 
explanations, and by the aid of Kiepert's map of Euro- 
pean Turkey, which gives, on the whole,' a remarkably 
faithful delineation of this district, we were able to iden- 
tify most points in the view. The country of the Mir- 
dites forms nearly a square, as it extends about 35 miles 
in a direct line from north to south, between the territory 
of the Ducadjini and that of the Mat ; and 40 miles from 
east to west, between the mountains of the Dibra and the 
plain of Zadrima. The elevated ridge on which we are 
standing forms a well-marked backbone of considerable 
breadth, running directly north and south, and rising in 
the latter direction first to the striking summit of Mount 
Cunora, and then to the lofty peak of Dyia. The moun- 
tains to the west, including those which we had traversed, 
though extremely irregular, take the same direction on 

• Hecquard*s map in 'La Haute Albanie ' gives the river-valleys of the 
north-west portion more accurately ; in those of the north he is completely 
wrong. He is right in putting Orosch further from the Black Drin than the 
other maps, and consequently the chain of the Monte Santo should also be 
placed further west. Count Karaczay*s map in the 'Journal of the Geo* 
graphical Society,* vol. xxii., gives the valleys of the Fandis well, but he 
leaves far too little space between the main chain and the Drin, and places 
the whole country not sufficiently south relatively to Scodra. The moimtaii> 
which I have called Dyia, is probably his Mount Spileon. Kiepert is quite 
wrong in the northern boundary line of the Mirdita, which ought to run 
much further north, and cross the Prisrend road at one point. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. XIV. Topography of tlte Country, 317 

the whole as the main chain, but are intersected by the 
numerous river- valleys which radiate like a fan from 
a point in the neighbourhood of Alessio. The aspect of 
the country from this point readily explains the unwil- 
lingness which the Turks have always felt to attack it. 
To turn to the more distant objects — to the south-west 
appeared the mountains of Croia, the scene of Scander- 
beg's most brilliant triumphs ; a little north of west 
the Monte Veglia, beyond which the Adriatic was seen 
between Dulcigno and Antivari, about 80 miles off; the 
Lake of Scodra was concealed by the nearer mountains, 
but on the sea-side of it rose the Mount Rumia on the 
confines of Montenegro, and on the other the fine peaks 
of the Clementi ; to the north-east were seen the serrated 
ridges which overlook the plain of Jacova, while the whole 
eastern horizon was bounded by the long line of the 
Schar-dagh or Scardus, even at this season still patched 
with snow, between which and us lay the deep valley 
of the Black Drin. 

The mountain-side directly behind Orosch is a mass of 
granite, abutting against the precipices of the Monte Santo, 
which, like the rest of this central chain, and the greater 
part of the country eastwards as far as the Drin, is com- 
posed of limestone. The igneous rock of which so great 
a part of the Mirdita is composed has here disappeared. 
The vegetation is also changed, for the oaks are no longer 
seen, and from the level of Orosch to the summit there 
are numerous pines and firs. At this point, too, we take 
leave of the flora of the Adriatic, which, to some extent, 
we had found reaching up the interior valleys; many 
of these plants and shrubs we shall not see again until 
we reach the iEgean. After lingering long over this 
most instructive view, we at last began to descend to 
Orosch, where Bib Doda was expecting us to dinner. On 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

3 1 8 The Mirdita. Chap. XIV. 

the way we recovered the truant saddle, and, thanks to 
its padding, and the grassy slopes over which it had been 
trailed, though covered with scratches, it was practically 
unhurt, except for a broken g^rth, which had been re- 
paired in the interval. Great was the satisfaction of AH 
Bey, who remarked to me with some naweU, ^M molta 
airioso il nostra Principe — and as he had specially en- 
trusted you to my care, I might have got into an awkward 
scrape, if anything amiss had happened to you or your 

There was one object which we regretted being unable 
to see at Orosch, and that was the parish church, which 
contains an ancient cross of very rich workmanship, 
which is said to be Byzantine, and to date from the time 
of Scanderbeg. The ministrations of this church have 
been from time immemorial performed by an abbot, who 
was once a personage of considerable influence in the 
country ; but the office is now shorn of most of its privi- 
leges. The present holder was banished some years ago 
for causing political disturbances, but, after a time, re- 
turned and gathered his party round him ; in conse- 
quence of which, when he was again expelled, the Prince 
communicated with the Turkish Government, who put 
him in arrest at Constantinople, to which place he had 
fled for refuge. One result of this is that his church is 
placed under a sort of interdict, and no person is allowed 
to enter. 

One other custom of this people remains yet to be 
noticed, viz., their habit of capturing their wives. The 
Mirdites never intermarry ; but when any of them, from 
the highest to the lowest, wants a wife, he carries off" a 
Mahometan woman from one of the neighbouring tribes, 
baptizes her, and marries her. The parents, we were 
told, do not usually feel much aggrieved, as it is pretty 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. XIV. Capture of Wives. 3 ig* 

well understood that a sum of money will be paid in 
return ; and though the Mirdites themselves are very 
fanatical in matters of religfion, yet their neighbours are 
reputed to allow the sentiment of nationality to prevail 
over that of creed ; so much so that at Easter the Maho- 
metan shepherds undertake to guard the flocks of the 
Christians, while at the Turkish Bairam the Christians 
do the same for the Mahometans. Prince Bib himself 
won his present spouse in this way. My reader will 
naturally enquire, as I did on hearing this strange state- 
ment, what becomes of the Mirdite women ? The 
answer is, that they are given in marriage to the neigh- 
bouring Christian tribes. If any one considers this . 
incredible in so large a population, he is at liberty to 
adopt the more moderate statement of M. Hecquard,, 
who only speaks of this custom as existing among the 
chiefs ; *^ but I state the facts as they were stated to me, 
and since the gfround of the custom was distinctly 
affirmed to be the feeling that marriage within the tribe 
is incestuous, and wherever in similar cases this belief 
has existed the custom of exogamy, as it is called, 
together with the capture of wives, has existed also, I 
feel very little doubt in my own mind that the stronger 
statement is the true one. As the Mirdites are the only 
people in Europe, as far as I can learn, among whom 
this practice exists (though it is maintained by many^ 
savage tribes), and as great light has been lately thrown 
on the subject by Mr. McLennan in his remarkable 
book on * Primitive Marriage,' I propose to say a few 
words about its history and origfin. 

Amongst a large number of barbarous races the 
custom exists of killing female children. The cause of 

'• Hecquard, p. 229. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

320 The Mirdita. Chap. XIV. 

this is that females, being less capable of supporting 
themselves and defending the rest, are far less valuable 
members of such a community than males. Further on 
in this narrative I shall have to mention a remarkable 
instance of the aversion felt to the birth of female 
children even amongst the Christian population of one of 
the most civilized parts of European Turkey ; but this 
feeling is naturally much more powerful where, from 
scarcity of food and the neighbourhood of enemies, the 
strength of a tribe depends on its freedom from encum- 
brances. Side by side with this is to be placed the fact, 
that a state of hostility is the normal condition of savage 
tribes, so that every one who is foreign to a group is 
regarded as an enemy, and every group is hostile to the 
neighbouring groups. The result of this state of things 
is as follows. When the number of women in a tribe 
has been so reduced as to have no adequate proportion 
to that of the men — and in some cases this is known to 
have gone so far that a horde has no young women of 
its own — it is necessary that they should procure them- 
selves wives from somewhere else. Now if they were at 
peace with their neighbours, this might be brought about 
by contract or by purchase ; but as they are usually in a 
state of hostility, they are reduced to the same condition 
in which the tribe of Benjamin is described to have been 
in the Book of Judges, when cut off from intercourse 
with the rest of the tribes of Israel, and are forced to 
obtain their wives either by spoliation after conquest, or 
in some other way by stealth and violence. When this 
habit of procuring wives from without, originating first 
in the necessity of the case, has existed for some time, it 
passes into an actual law of exogamy, i,e,, the pro- 
hibition of marriage within the tribe, which in its turn 
renders the capturing of women more systematic and 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. XIV. McLennan on " Primitive Marriage^ 321 

universal. After a lapse of time again, when inter- 
marriage within the tribe has long ceased to be practised, 
the idea grows up that such marriages are incestuous, 
because all the members of the tribe are descended from 
a common ancestor ; and thus the custom of exogamy 
is subsequently explained and justified, receiving at the 
same time a religious sanction. The instances by which 
these statements may be supported are almost innu- 
merable. Mr. Latham, in his ' Descriptive Ethnology,' 
goes so far as to say that the principle of exogamy is, or 
has been, almost universal. It is found both in North 
and South America, in Australia, in the islands of the 
Pacific, in Africa, in India and Affghanistan, amongst 
the Calmucks and the Circassians. In most of the cases 
which have been collected it is accompanied by the 
practice of capturing wives, and usually marriage with 
the tribe is prohibited as incest. That a shrinking from 
incestuous connection was not, however, the original 
cause of exogamy, is sufficiently clearly shown from the 
fact that, in a primitive state of society, the marriage of 
near relatives does not seem to have been considered 
improper, as we see, for instance, in some of the marriages 
within the family of Abraham. And still more amongst 
savages the ties of blood appear, at an early stage of their 
existence, to have had very little force. 

So far we have been speaking of the state of tribes 
living in barbarism at the present time. But it must be 
remembered that this condition of existence is one 
through which almost every part of the human race has 
sooner or later passed, and consequently that there is a 
probability of exogamy having existed among them. 
That this was so is almost conclusively proved by the 
traces which are found in nearly all nations in a pro- 
gressive state of civilization, of customs and ceremonies 

VOL. I. Y 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

322 The Mirdita. Chap. XIV. 

connected with marriage which are explicable only on 
the supposition of the prevalence among them at some 
previous period of the system of capture. From these it 
would appear that, when the capture of wives as a reality 
began to die out, the form of capture was in each case 
retained ; that is to say, in order for a marriage to be 
considered complete, it was held to be necessary that, 
after the contract had been made, the bridegroom, or his 
friends, should feign to steal the bride or carry her off 
from her relations by force. The process of change by 
which this was brought about, and the way in which the 
original custom has been broken up and disintegrated 
into a variety of ceremonies, may be best learnt from the 
enumeration of a few instances. 

Olaus Magnus, in the i6th century, describing the 
state of Muscovy and Lithuania at that period, says that 
the tribes of the north of Europe were continually at war 
with one another on account of stolen women, or with 
the object of stealing women. When a man had seen a 
young woman in a neighbouring village whom he wished 
to make his wife, he would call his friends together, 
make a descent on the village, and carry off the prize, 
after a fight with her kinsmen, if they were on the spot to 
come to her aid. According to his account, however, a 
changfe had been already introduced from the original 
state of things, for he goes on to say that the marriage 
was never consummated until the consent of the parents 
had been obtained. Still, in this case, the capture is a 
reality : let us now take an instance — one out of very 
many — in which the contract comes first and the fight 
after, and where the capture is consequently a form. 

Lord Kames, writing at the beginning of this century, 
gives the following description of the marriage ceremony 
that, shortly before his time, had been customary among 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. XTV. Prevalence of the Custom. 323 

the Welsh. On the wedding-day the parties of the bride 
and bridegroom met on horseback, and when the bride- 
groom demanded the bride her friends gave him a 
positive refusal, and carried her off, while the other party- 
pursued them with loud shouts. At last, when both 
men and horses were tired out with charging and jostling, 
the bridegroom was suffered to overtake the bride and 
lead her away in triumph. Similarly at Berry, in 
France, at the present day, a regfular siege of the bride's 
house takes place, and after the bridegroom's party have 
gained admittance a scuffle ensues in which heads are 
not unfrequently broken. 

I must refer the reader to Mr. McLennan's book for 
other instances of the form of capture in its integrity, 
which he has collected with great learning from a variety 
of sources. Suffice it now to add one or two of the more 
disintegrated ceremonies in which it appears. 

There are traces of its existence among the Jews, 
Greeks, and Romans. It is said by good authorities 
that the Old Testament expression, "taking a wife," is 
to be accepted literally, implying that the ceremony of 
carrying off formed part of the marriage rite. Of the 
Spartans Plutarch informs us that the bridegroom 
always carried off the bride with violence, though 
latterly it was considered sufficient for the lady to be 
seized and carried from one room to another. At Rome 
the form was in different degrees of disintegration among 
the patricians and the plebeians. While in the marriage 
of the latter the bride's house was invaded, and she 
herself torn with feigned violence from her mother's lap ; 
in those of the former it was only required that she 
should be carried by the bridegroom over the threshold 
of his house, and her hair parted with a spear, "in 
memory," says Plutarch, "of the warlike manner in 

Y 2 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

324 The Mirdita. Chap. XIV. 

which early marriages were brought about." The vio- 
lence here offered was supposed to recall the rape of the 
Sabines, but there can be little doubt that that legend 
also embodied the original practice of capture. The 
idea that the resistance offered in these and similar cases 
proceeded from maidenly modesty is singularly impro- 
bable, being, in fact, the transference of the ideas of a 
later and more delicate age to the rude state of society^ 
where these customs took their rise: besides which il 
does not in any degree explain the combined plan of 
defence, shared in by a number of persons, which is 
found in some instances. Again, the old German ex- 
pression brAtloufti^ or " bride-racing," points to the 
existence among that people of a custom similar to that 
which exists among many wild tribes as part of the 
marriage ceremonial, of giving the bride a start either on 
foot or horseback, and making the bridegroom pursue 
her until he catches her. It has even been suggested 
that the English ceremony of " throwing the old shoe " 
may be a relic of some custom of the kind, as signifying 
a sham assault on the person who carries off the lady. 
This, of course, is a mere conjecture ; but as the cere- 
mony, though now absurd, must have had an origin, this 
explanation may deserve consideration in default of a 

It cannot be considered a valid objection to the view 
here put forward, that no trace of the system of capture, 
or of the circumstances which accompanied it, is to be 
found in the sketch of the condition of the early Aryan 
tribes which Comparative Philology has constructed for 
us. Those peoples were, even at that early period, in a 
far more highly developed condition than that which 
produced this practice ; nor will any one who has 
observed the permanence of customs and legends handed 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. XIV. Mirdite wives Maltometans. 325 

down from primitive times, especially those relating to 
birth, marriage, and death, be surprised to find that the 
form of capture, as a marriage ceremony, may have been 
inherited by them from much ruder ages, when the Indo- 
European family had not separated from the common 
human stock, and may have been passed on by them to 
later generations. But it should be remembered also 
that the practice of exogamy may arise at any period, 
when the same circumstances present themselves which 
<:aused it in the first instance ; and this, no doubt, was 
the case with several of the European races amongst 
whom it has been found, either as a reality or a symbol." 
From this imperfect survey of Mr. McLennan's con- 
<:lusions it will be seen that the case of the Mirdites, 
which seems to be unknown to him, is a peculiarly 
interesting one, because while the system of exogamy is 
perfect, it presents us with the reality of capture on the 
eve of merging in the form — ^since a sum of money is 
paid afterwards, and but little resistance apparently 
offered — ^but permanently checked in doing so by the 
fact that the women carried off are Mahometans, who 
cannot without violence be married to Christians. What 
causes led in this instance to the practice of marrying 
persons of another religion, when it is possible to obtain 
wives in a peaceful manner from other Christian tribes, 
and from what period it dates we have no means of 
knowing. In all probability this also was the per- 
petuation of some traditional idea that it was nobler to 
obtain a wife by force, and after a time it may have 
come to be regarded as an obligation that the object of 
the predatory excursion should be one of another creed. 

" See QTi the subject generally McLennan's 'Primitive Marriage,* chaps. 
L-vii., passim; also an Essay by the same writer in 'The Argosy' for 
June, 1866. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

525 Tlu Mirdita. Chap. XIV. 

It would also lessen the difficulty arising from the 
number of women in this tribe who have to be provided 
with husbands elsewhere, if we could suppose that female 
infanticide prevails. There is, however, no authority for 
saying that such is the case, and in a Christian com- 
munity, however wild, it is improbable, as there is na 
other crime which Christianity has more uncompro- 
misingly or more successfully opposed 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

( 327 ) 



Departure from Orosch — A Native Guide — The Bertiscus Mountains — 
Mirdite Shepherds' Encampment — Mode of Divination — Junction of 
Black and White Drin — A Nocturnal Visitor — -Prisrend — The Kaima- 
kam — Turkish Administration — The Castle — ^View from it — Churches 
— Visit of Dr. Barth — The Roman Catholic Archbishop — Popula- 
tion — Concealed Christians — Their Origin, History, and Present Con- 

Early the following morning we started from Orosch on 
our way to Prisrend. The Prince had risen to see us 
off, and we. took our leave of him and our other friends 
at the palace with many expressions of gratitude on our 
part and regret on theirs. A guard of three men had 
been appointed to accompany us, — two of them on foot, 
and the other, one of the captains, who was the Prince's 
financier or accountant, on horseback. At first we 
followed the same path which we had taken on the 
previous day, but when we reached the depression in 
the ridge, from which we had mounted to the Monte 
Santo, we descended into a thoroughly Swiss-looking 
upland valley, with firs and beeches clothing its steep 
sides, from which the limestone cliffs cropped out at 
intervals. The meadows at the bottom were occupied 
by numerous herds of cattle, some of those, no doubt, 
belonging to Bib Doda, while in other places hay was 
being made. The pastoral look of everything, combined 
with the freshness of the air, which was as balmy as that 
of a May morning in England, made this part of our ride 
extremely pleasant At last we reached a point where 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

328 Orosch to Prisrend. Chap. XV. 

the valley comes suddenly to an end, and a precipitous 
descent commences over loose rocks and dibris^ difficult 
for horses, by the side of steep and richly-coloured cliffs. 
When we reached the lower country we found a con- 
siderable undergrowth of hazels, but the oaks did not 
reappear until the following day when we began to 
descend to the Drin valley. There were few dwellings 
in this part and little cultivation, but both here and 
elsewhere in the Mirdita we observed that there was no 
appearance of want or misery among the population, nor 
any beggars, though we had several times met with 
these in Montenegro. 

At midday we rested at the village of Sedjin, where 
notice had been sent on to the chief man to prepare for 
our reception. The clay floor of his best room was 
strewn with a luxurious bed of ferns, and a large piece of 
beef had been dressed and a lamb roasted The liver 
was served as first course; but the most remarkable 
part of the entertainment was the bread, which was 
baked in circular flat cakes a couple of feet in diameter ; 
these were made of maize, which, when rudely ground 
and kneaded, is very heavy and heating food. When we 
had partaken the rest of the company had their meal ; 
but we observed that our host himself ate apart from his 
gfuests, and not until after they were served : this, we 
were told, is the custom of the country. During this 
time, one of the numerous storms which had been 
hanging about the mountains descended upon us, with 
thunder and lightning and torrents of rain ; but after an 
hour it cleared up, and we were able to pursue our 
journey under the guidance of our host, who replaced 
our other guards, as they were to leave us at this point. 
This man, a wild Albanian, with shaven head and one 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. XV. TIte Bertiscus Mountains. 329 

long lock hanging down behind, looked at first sight like 
one who might take your scalp, at any moment; but, 
despite his appearance, we found him not only a first- 
rate guide, but also a most agreeable companion — 
attentive, considerate, and polite. Our route lay along 
the mountain sides, through extensive forests of beech 
and fir, the general direction of our course, both on this 
and the following day, being towards the north-east. 
Before sunset we reached the only shelter that was to be 
found in the elevated region to which we had gradually 
ascended, a mandra or shepherd's encampment on the 
slopes of the mountains facing the north, from which 
there was a glorious view of the serrated, and in some 
places snowy, peaks of Jacova, which stretch along in 
that direction in a ms^ificent chain. These summits 
are described by Grisebach, who saw them from several 
points much nearer than this — on the road from Scodra 
to Prisrend — as presenting a superb spectacle, not easily 
surpassed in the Alps, from the aiguilles and pinnacles of 
limestone rock to which they rise. These, he says, form 
a striking contrast to the lower and less strongly marked 
shapes of the mountains of the Ducadjini, which, like 
those of the north and west of the Mirdita, are composed 
of greenstone, porphyry, and other igneous rocks. The 
long deep gorge of the Drin is caused by the meeting of 
these two different formations ; and the limestone 
masses which tower above its northern side he regards as 
the termination of that system of mountains which, 
under the name of Camian, Julian, Dinaric, and Turkish 
Alps, runs south-eastward from the end of the main 
Alpine chain. Here it is broken off and thrown up into 
lofty jagged peaks, exactly in the same way as the 
dolomite peaks of the southern Tyrol have been formed. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

330 Orosck to Prisrend. Chap. XV, 

and the mountain system terminated in that direction by 
volcanic upheaval.^ This range, together with the other 
mountains which intervene between Montenegro and the 
plain of Ipek, and are separated by the latter from 
the Schar-dagh, form the Bertiscus of Strabo,* and by 

* Grisebach, *Reise durch Rumelien,* ii. 341, 342, 351, 352. 

' In a passage which has caused great confusion — though rather, perha(>s, 
from error in its interpretation, than actual mistake on the part of the 
authoi^-he says: "Macedonia is bounded on the north by what may be 
conceived of as a straight line formed by Mounts Bertiscus, Scardus, 
Orbelus, Rhodope, and Haemus; for these mountains, commencing from 
the Adriatic, reach in a straight line as fJEur as the Euxine ['H Maic«9or£a 
tt^ptopiCerou — iie fiofPa rp yowfi4tni cMcff ypofifif rf Ztit Bfprlo'KOv Spovs koI 
"^icipiiov Kcd *Op^Kov icol 'PoS^m^s koI AXfiov t& 70^ Spii rovro, iipxSfitya 
kirh rov *ABplov, Si^icci icarit cMcIor ypofifiiip Zws rov E&|c(yov." — Strabo^ 
vii. fragm. 10]. It must always be remembered that this passage, though 
valuable as giving us the names of the mountain ranges that form this 
chain, is from the epitomizer of Strabo, and not directly from the author 
himself; it ought not, therefore, to be interpreted independently of a 
passage in the text of Strabo bearing on the same point, in which the 
statement about the "straight line" is given in a much more qualified 
manner: — "The mountains of Ulyricum, Pa^nia, and Thrace, are, in a 
certain way, parallel to the Ister, forming, as it were, a single line, which 
reaches from the Adriatic as far as the Pontus [Tp^or 7^ niw t4> "Ivrp^ 
itapiXKifiKik i^ri rd T€ *lXXvpuch ical rk Haioyiic^ ical rit Bpdieta Hpii, idoof wt 
ypofifA^w dTorcXoOyro, St^KOVirav &wh rod *AZplov fUxpi irphs rhy H6irrov^ — 
Straboy vii. 5, § i]. From these passages it was long supposed — ^and until 
lately the error was introduced into all modem maps of Turkey — ^that the 
country between the Danube and the iEgean was divided in the middle by 
a lofty range of mountains, which formed a continuation of the main chain 
of the Alps as far as the Euxine, and that the Scardus in particular formed 
part of this transverse range, and ran from west to east Now, however, it 
is known that along one important portion of this supposed line, namely, to 
the south-east of Servia, the hills do not rise to any considerable elevation. 
To persons ignorant of the interior of the country the mistake was perfectly 
natural, for the " straight line " of Strabo is apt to mislead ; and it does not at 
once approve itielf to our minds that a chain running directly north and south 
should form part of a series of mountain ranges whose course is from west to 
east Such, however, is in fact the case. The Bertiscus, with which the 
line commences towards the Adriatic, can be none other than the chain 
which lies before us in this view, reaching to the north of Ipek and the 
sources of the White Drin ; but here the direction changes, and the next 
link is formed by the Schar-dagh, which, as its name would lead us to 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. XV. Mirdite Shepherds' Encampment 331 

that name, as they have no distinctive modem appella- 
tion, we will in future call them. 

Our resting-place was a rude hut, whose roof and 
sides were constructed of boards roughly put together, 
through the interstices of which the smoke from the fire 
escaped. This was divided by a partition into two 
rooms, one of which served for a dairy and nursery, and 
for the women's apartments generally, while the other, a 
comer of which was given up to us, was appropriated to 
the men. Outside these was a kind of summer-house,, 
roofed with branches and dead leaves, as a shelter from 
the sun ; near this a number of calves were tethered ; 
and all around extended a large enclosure, within which 
at nightfall the goats were driven, and milked and 
folded While we were making our supper off the 
remains of the lamb which we had brought with us, 
the shepherds crowded round the wood fire which was 
lighted in the middle of the room to see us eating, which 
gave me the opportunity of observing that most of them 
had blue ^yt:^. When we had finished they took up the 
transparent shoulder-blade and divined through it. This 
is done by observing the light and dark spots, which 
respectively denote good and bad fortune : a groove on 
the outer edge of one side is said to denote the death of 
the owner of the animal. I had often heard of this 

suppose, is the ancient Scardus, and stretches first to the south-west as far 
as a point some way to the south of Prisrend, and then directly southwards 
to the plain of Monastir. This, again, is connected by the Nidj^ and other 
mountains north of the lake of Ostrovo, and afterwards by those that form 
the Stena, or Iron Gate of the Vardar, with the Perim-dagh, or Orbelus, 
between Seres and Philippopoli, from which the irr^ular line of mountains 
which bore the name of Rhodope, leads in a north-easterly direction to the 
Balkan. See Grisebach, 'Reise,' vol. ii. pp. no foil., where the whole 
subject is learnedly discussed, and Colonel Leake's supposition, that the 
Scardus or Scordus of the ancients represents the mountains on both sides. 
of the united Drin, is completely refuted. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

332 Orosch to Prisrend. Chap. XV. 

custom, and by several writers on Albania it has been 
brought forward as a proof of the gross superstition of 
the people : in the country, however, I was assured by 
more than one person that it was merely a fancy or 
amusement, and such it appeared to be on this occasion. 
When I asked one of the fellows what he divined, he 
answered, "that the Christians were stronger than the 
Turks " — a tolerably safe piece of augury in the moun- 
tains of the Mirdita, Still there can be no doubt that 
formerly great faith was placed in omens derived from 
this source, and it is probable enough that, in some parts 
of the country, it is so now. In Dr. Grisebach's account 
of his visit to Afsi Pasha of Uskiub, a native hereditary 
governor, in 1839, he relates that he found him in great 
dejection because a fortnight before he had discovered a 
groove such as I have described, and believed it to 
signify his impending death. Shortly after, however, 
when intelligence arrived of the death of Sultan Mah- 
moud, he cheered up, because he argued that, while the 
sheep had belonged to himself, both he and his were 
the property of the Sultan, and thus the omen had been 
satisfactorily fulfilled! In this view he was confirmed 
by the fact that the time of the Sultan's death closely 
coincided with the day on which he had observed the 

The number of the inhabitants of this rustic dwelling 
amounted in all to thirty-five, but only twelve, including 
ourselves, occupied our apartment. The fire was kept 
up all through the night ; and what with the keen moun- 
tain air, the smoke, the noise made both by sleepers and 
watchers, and other causes easily intelligible,' to get to 

' We are apt to suppose that the natives of these countries are not much 
annoyed by these troublesome visitors ; there is, however, a modem Greek 
proverb which seems to imply the contrary. It is intended to ridicule those 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. XV. Black and White Drin. 333 

sleep was no easy matter. At one period of the night 
there was a sudden barking of dogs, and two of the 
party outside came in to fetch their guns, as if they were 
going to reconnoitre ; after a quarter of an hour, how- 
ever, they brought them back again. The following 
morning was damp and chilly, and we pursued our way 
in the midst of the clouds over the mountain tops, at a 
height of 5000 feet, or through the thick forests of beech 
and fir which clothe their sides. The path was rendered 
intricate by the tangled roots of trees and fallen trunks, 
but our guide showed extraordinary sagacity and know- 
ledge of the country. At last, after following a north- 
easterly direction for several hours, during which all the 
surrounding country was concealed from our view, we 
began to descend to the valley of the Drin, at a point 
just below the junction of its two branches, where its 
waters are spanned by a lofty bridge. As we emerged 
from the clouds we saw before us, to the east, the upland 
valley of the White Drin which leads to Prisrend, while 
at some distance off to the south the Black Drin escapes 
from the mountains of the Dibra, as the district is called 
through which it flows from the Lake of Ochrida. The 
people of this district are the most famous carpenters in 
Turkey, and a large number of them make annual 
migrations in search of work. Notwithstanding that 
we obtained from this point an extensive view over 
mountains and valleys, what impressed us most was the 
apparent openness of everything as compared with 

who inflict on themselves a great evil in order to get rid of a small one, but, 
at the same time, it implies that the lesser of the two is a very real evil. It 
runs thus : — 

" Lik rovro HKWpa r^r KoXifia fiov, 
8t& yit ft-li fi€ ^atf ol i^Wou** 

" I burnt down my cottage ; my reason was this, 
That the fleas might not eat me alive." 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

334 Orosch to Prisrend. Chap. XV. 

the narrow valleys of the Mirdita. As we descended, 
the oaks, which we had not seen since leaving the valley 
of the Fandi, began to reappear, and the ground was 
covered with low box shrubs. The heat of the low 
ground, too, soon made itself felt, in contrast to the cold 
which we had experienced in the morning. Close to the 
bridge is a khan, called the Kiupri Khan, or " Bridge 
Hotel," where we rested in the middle of the day : the 
height of this place is about 980 feet above the sea, 
which shows how considerable the rapids of the river 
must be in its descent through the gorge of which I have 
so often spoken. Here we took leave of our friendly 
Albanian, whom we with difficulty persuaded to receive 
a present of money. 

Once more in Turkish territory, and on the main road 
between Scodra and Prisrend, we crossed the bridge, 
which IS supported by two high arches of unequal size, 
with other smaller ones between them. It is extremely 
^teep, like most of the bridges of the country, and as 
the stones with which they are paved are slippery, and 
the parapet hardly worthy of the name, and the horses 
are accustomed to mount them in zigzags, it is more 
pleasant to cross on foot, even for persons accustomed to 
precipitous places. This appears to be the custom 
among the natives, from the mounting stones which are 
placed at either end. For some distance the road follows 
the water upwards, until the meeting of the two rivers 
comes in view, when it cuts off the angle at which the 
White Drin flows in, and after reaching that stream, 
crosses its rapid torrent by a similar two-arched bridge. 
Here the valley becomes narrow, and the scenery Swiss- 
like and pretty, especially at a point where a tributary of 
some size — the Luma — flows in, and is surmounted by 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. XV. A Nocturnal Visitor. 335 

an arch of single span. The occurrence of so many- 
bridges within so short a space is very unusual m 
Turkey, but they are rendered necessary by the amount 
of traffic, for we met a surprising number of carriers 
with strings of mules and horses. In most cases these 
men, not being themselves the proprietors of the goods 
they were carrying, did not know what their bales con- 
tained; but we learned that the principal exports are 
wine, wool, and resin. From this place we continued to 
ascend the bank of the White Drin in the midst of fine 
alders, with fertile land in the foreground, and moorland 
in the distance, resembling parts of Devonshire, until, 
after three hours and a half from the Kiupri Khan we 
arrived at our resting-place, which was pointed out by 
the unanimous consent of the persons we met as the 
best on the way to Prisrend. Bad, indeed, was the best, 
for it was nothing but a spacious stable, with no accom- 
modation for human beings except the floor — the earth, 
I mean — ^where they were allowed to lie d discretion. 
Outside ^this I noticed a curious granary, in which the 
heads of the maize was stored; it was circular, and 
about ten feet in diameter, formed of branches plaited in 
and out of upright poles, and thatched at the top with 
maize stalks. During the night, while I was asleep on 
the bed of hay that had been made for me in the middle 
of the stable, I became aware of some movement going 
on near me, and, on waking up, felt that my bed was 
being gradually pulled from under me. At first I was 
too sleepy to resist, but when I summoned sufficient 
energy to kick out, my leg encountered the head of a 
horse, who had broken loose, and having finished his own 
allowance of hay, had come to poach on mine. I 
believe I suffered most from the concussion, for he con- 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

336 Orosch to Prisrend. Chap. XV. 

tinued to feed on placidly until I called up Nicola with 
loud shouts, and he was at length reconducted to the 

The next day we continued to ascend the Drin until 
it makes a bend to the north in the direction of Ipek ; 
here we left it, and crossed some low hills that descend 
from the mountains, near which is the village of Djuri, 
the first place surmounted by a minaret which we had 
seen since leaving Scodra. So completely had we been 
in Christian lands, and so different is the condition of 
the Mirdites from that of the other Christians of Turkey! 
From the foot of these hills the wide plain slopes 
gradually up^Vards towards Prisrend, backed by the 
mighty range of Scardus, which appeared close at hand 
in one long line, though its summits were shrouded by 
the clouds. At last the city itself became visible — 
first, the castle on a buttress of Scardus, with the houses 
of the Christian quarter creeping up its side ; and after- 
wards the wide extent of buildings which cover the lower 
ground, from among which the spiry forms of twenty 
minarets rise conspicuous. 

On entering we found it quite a city of waters. It is 
divided in two parts by the rapid stream of the Maritza, 
which, issuing from a deep gorge in the side of the 
Schar-dagh, pours down through the place with a steep 
descent ; and the eye is refreshed by runlets of limpid 
water flowing in many of the streets. When first we 
reached the river after following the main street, which 
runs through the heart of the town, its stream was clear 
and bright, but a heavy storm of rain having fallen 
shortly after our arrival, in the afternoon it was swollen 
to a violent and turbid torrent The bridge by which it 
is crossed in this part, from its arched roof and the 
booths at its sides, reminded us of the Ponte Vecchio at 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. XV. Prisrend. 337 

Florence, though it is entirely of wood, and on a much 
•smaller scale. The singularly picturesque bazaars, of 
which these booths form a part, have a gay appearance, 
from the bright-coloured handkerchiefs, waistcoats, and 
calicoes, which are hung about them ; and the effect of 
this is increased by the costume of their occupants, for 
the dresses at Prisrend surpass in magnificence all that 
I have seen elsewhere, even in Turkey. They are of two 
different sorts ; the one the richest form of the Albanian 
costume, — ^t,vAC\\.^ fustanella (kilt) and white shirt, with 
fez cap, gold-embroidered jacket, and broad belt, all 
of crihison ; while the other substitutes for ihefustanella 
full purple trousers reaching to the knee, with leggings 
of the same colour below. To our eyes they appeared 
truly superb, after having been accustomed to the simple 
dress of the Mirdites. Our khan, too, which lay near 
the opposite bank of the river, though not superior to . 
the better style of khans which are found in the large 
cities of Turkey, appeared to us a luxurious abode, as it 
was provided with private rooms, or dens, opening out 
from the wooden gallery which runs round the whole 
of the inside of the building, and lighted from it through 
a grating of strong iron bars ; furnished also with the 
usual rush mats, and arranged so that the door may be 
fastened with a padlock, which the experienced traveller 
carries about with him to ensure the safety of his 
property when he goes out The scene which this place 
presented at all times of the day, but especially in the 
morning and evening, was one of truly Oriental somno- 
lence. All about the gallery were people sitting cross- 
legged on carpets, either singly or in groups, smoking 
their pipes, and staring at the Frank strangers with large 
eyes of languid curiosity, while the plashing fountain at 
the further end of the court diffused a sense of repose 
VOL. I. Z 

, Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

33? Orosch to Prisrend. Chap. XV. 

over the whole place. It was exactly one of those scenes 
which Lewis represents so inimitably in his pictures of 
Eastern life. 

Shortly after our arrival we paid a visit to Nazif 
Pasha, the governor of the district, to whom we had a 
letter of introduction from Ismael Pasha of Stodra. 
Though he bore the title of Pasha, we found that in 
respect of his office he is only a Kaimakam, or governor 
of the second rank, and is under the Pasha of Monastir, 
to whom the authorities at Calcandele and Uskiub are 
also subject. His house was on a rising ground in the 
outskirts of the city, and we found him in the midst of 
bricks and mortar, for he was building himself a new 
and commodious Serai. He was a weak-looking young- 
man, and wore a blue silk overcoat trimmed with swans- 
down ; but he appeared to be an observer of the good 
old customs^ for he regaled us with chibouques of 
jasmine, instead of the inexpensive and almost universal 
cigarette. He spoke a few words of French, and pro- 
fessed to have known that language once, but excused 
himself for having forgotten it by long disuse since 
leaving Constantinople. Like most Turkish officials, he 
lamented the present state of things, and professed an 
ardent desire for improvement, propounding at the same 
time large schemes of his own, such as making the Drin 
navigable by a system of locks to coimteract the rapids. 
When not even a carriage-road exists in the country, it may 
easily be understood how little such expressions mean. "A 
Turk in action," Mr. Palgrave has truly said, "has rarely 
either head or heart save for his own individual rapacity 
and sensuality ; the same Turk in theory is a Mettemich 

in statesmanship, and a Wilberforce in benevolence. 

Video meliora proboque; Deteriora sequor^ should be the 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. XV. The Castle. 339 

device of their banner; it is the sum total of their 
history." * What traveller in Turkey has not often had 
occasion to feel what these words so forcibly express ! One 
improvement, however, to which Nazif drew our atten- 
tion, — namely, that the population under his jurisdiction 
were disarmed, — if fully carried out would be a real \/ 
reform. This is the first requisite for an established 
order of things in Turkey, and a sinequA non for securing 
the Christians from ill treatment; for while they are 
forbidden and the Mahometans allowed to carry arms, 
the necessary consequence is that the weaker party are 
exposed to continual outrages. As to this district, the 
Roman Catholic Archbishop afterwards told us that 
it is only within the city that the system of disarming 
has been carried out, and that in the neighbourhood thei 
insecurity is so great, as to cause large parts of the 
coimtry not to be cultivated. As he said to us, when 
speaking of this very point — "The Turkish theory is. 
good, but notliing can be worse than their administra- 

Under the guidance of one of the Pasha's attendants, 
we next proceeded to visit the castle. Though it con- 
tains a few Turkish soldiers, yet, like most of these old 
castles, it is useless for purposes of defence, being com- 
manded by a number of other heights from behind. In 
one part we noticed two Venetian g^ns, stamped with 
the lion of St. Mark, though whether they were brought 
here as trophies, or whether the Venetians ever occupied 
the place, we could not learn. Anyhow, considering the 
difficulty of transport from the coast, it must have cost 
no little trouble to bring them here. The view from this 

* Palgrave's 'Arabia,* i. 299. 

Z 2 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

340 Orosch to Prisrend. Chap. XV. 

point is extensive, and extremely fine. The whole city- 
lies extended below you, with the Maritza rushing 
through it in a winding course, bordered at the sides 
by willows and other trees, and spanned by half-a-dozen 
bridges, one of which is of stone. About the lower part, 
where the houses are larger and less closely built, the 
trees are thickly clustered; and beyond this the open 
country extends in a sea of green vegetation, which gives 
way after a time to uncultivated land, but reappears 
again in places, as the eye sweeps over the undulations 
of the vast plain that reaches as far as Ipek. The smoke 
of that place may be seen at the foot of the mountains 
to the north-west, more than forty miles off. The green 
appearance of everything, so striking a sight at this time 
of year, was accounted for partly by the height of this 
place above the sea, — 1577 feet by the barometer, — and 
partly by the large rainfall there had been throughout 
Turkey during the previous spring. Above Ipek, and 
stretchmg for some distance along the far horizon, are 
the magnificent peaks of the Bertiscus : directly opposite 
to you towards the west, rising from the right bank of 
the White Drin, stands the grand conical form of 
Mount Bastrik ; and to the south-west, on the opposite 
side of that river, just where the valley by which we had 
approached begins to close in, is Mount Koraphia (called 
Coridnik by Grisebach), part of a vast spur which is 
thrown out from Scardus at a f)oint south of Prisrend, 
and bounds the plain in that direction. Again, as you 
look backwards the deep goi^e is seen, through which the 
Maritza issues from the heart of Scardus, and rising from 
the middle of it an isolated rock, on which stands the 
castle built by the kings of Servia at the time when this 
district, which is now called Old Servia, formed part 
of their kingdom. At that period Prisrend was the 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. XV. Churches. 341 

Servian capital. The Archbishop informed us that it is 
thought this castle is on the site of the old Roman town 
of Ulpiana ; but this view is probably erroneous, as that 
place seems to have been in the neighbourhood of the 
modern Pristina, which lies between thirty and forty miles 
to the north-east of Prisrend.* It is not impossible that 
Theranda, which is mentioned as being on the ancient 
road running to Lissus (Alessio), from a point to the 
north of Scupi (Uskiub), may have been the same as 
Prisrend ; and the partial similarity of name lends some 
probability to the supposition. But here, as elsewhere, 
the absence of Roman remains to the west of the Scardus 
shows how slight a hold either the dominion or the 
civilization of Rome had on these parts, and how com- 
plete a barrier the mountains formed against external 

As we descended from the castle, we passed through 
the quarter of the Greek Christians, which is situated 
on the steep hill-side. So irregularly were the houses 
built in the upper part (for streets or lanes there were 
none) that even our Turkish attendant had some diffi- 
culty in finding a passage between them. In the midst 
of this district was a small and very ancient-looking 
church, built of brick, in the Byzantine style, which had 
attracted our notice from the castle. The original struc- 
ture was a tiny place, oblong in form, with one cupola 
and no transepts ; to one side of this another building of 
later construction had been added on. This is called the 
Church of the Agoghi, and is the only Christian church in 
Prisrend, though permission has lately been given for the 
erection of another and larger one in the lower town, 
the walls of which are now half built ; but the work has 

• For the proof of this see Leake's * Northern Greece,* iil 477. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

342 Orosch to Prisrend. Chap. XV 

been stopped for want of funds. By looking through the 
keyhole we could see a lamp burning before the image of 
a saint sheathed in silver, but we were disappointed of 
seeing the interior, as the people said the key was kept a 
long way off, and showed evident disinclination to help 
us in the matter, probably in consequence of our being 
accompanied by a Mussulman. We then descended, and 
made our way to the opposite angle of the city in the 
plain, where there is' another and still more interesting 
church, which has been converted into a mosque. It was 
formerly the cathedral. This building is also Byzantine, 
having one central cupola, and four others in various 
parts, and, what is very unusual in Byzantine churches, a 
western tower surmounting the outer porch, or proaulioft, 
on the top of which again a minaret has now been built. 
The architecture of the interior is extremely plain ; the 
nave is composed of five bays, two of which are west and 
two east of the central cupola ; there are aisles at the 
sides, and between these and the nave are two other ex- 
tremely curious narrow aisles, not more than six feet each 
in width, the object of which it is difficult to conceive ; 
but yet they appear to have formed part of the original 
structure. There are three apses at the ends of the nave 
and outer aisles ; and over the proaulion there are cham- 
bers under the tower. The whole effect of the building 
has, as usual, been spoilt by its re-arrangement as a 
mosque. The guardian of the place informed us that 
another Frank had visited it not more than a fortnight 
before ; and on further enquiry we discovered that this 
was none other than the distinguished African traveller 
Dr. Barth, who had left Scodra earlier than ourselves, 
and after passing through the confines of Montenegro, 
where he had nearly been killed in a dispute with a 
native, had reached this place, and started again with the 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. XV. , Visit of Dr. Bartlu 343 

view of exploring further south in Albania, liow sad to 
think that he should have escaped this danger only to be 
carried off by an epidemic on his return to Germany in 
the autumn ! His loss will be greatly felt by those who 
take an interest in the interior of Turkey, for he had 
made more than one journey through parts little known, 
and would probably have continued his investigations in 
-subsequent years. His name will frequently occur later 
on in this narrative, where our route will meet that which 
he took in 1862, and of which he has published an ac- 
count distinguished for its almost photographic accuracy. 
Our day was concluded with a visit fo the Roman 
Catholic Archbishop. He is a Dalmatian by birth, and 
consequently, like most, if not all, the prelates in Upper 
Albania, an Austrian subject : it was outside the Austrian 
Consulate that we met him (for that Power is represented 
even in Prisrend), and from thence he conducted us to his 
house, which was hard by. This was an unpretending 
structure, with a large courtyard on one side of it, the 
greater part of which was used as a Christian burial- 
ground. The chapel, which is the only Roman Catholic 
place of worship, might be called a very apostolical upper 
chamber, if it were not at the bottom of the house, and in 
part undergfround. It is a simple room, with a very low 
roof, and has been added to at different times ; in conse- 
quence of this, the original chapel, which contains the 
altar, is in one comer of the present building. The Arch- 
bishop, who is a handsome man, and young-looking for 
his position, conversed with us for some time in Italian, 
with a vivacity and energy truly delightful from its con- 
trast with Turkish languor ; while his companion, a Fran- 
ciscan monk, served us with coffee and cigarettes. He 
informed us that notwithstanding the importance of 
Scodra and Prisrend, no regular postal communication 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

344 Orosch to Prisrend. Chap. XV. 

exists between them, and there are only occasional means, 
of sending letters. Speaking of the general neglect that 
prevailed, and the absence of public works, such as roads, 
and other facilities for communication, he remarked how 
little excuse there is for this, when the system of the corvit 
or forced labour exists, according to which the governors^ 
have the power of employing the people at their discretion 
on government works, without being required to make 
them any remuneration. The population he estimated at 
fifty thousand, a number the magnitude of which surprised 
me, both from the appearance of the city and the accounts 
given by other travellers ; but his estimate seemed to 
have been carefully made, and he divided them according^ 
to their creeds, into 8oco Mahometan families, 300a 
Greek, and iSoLatm. The numerical increase cannot 
be very rapid, if it is true, as he assured us, that from the 
prevalence of infanticide and want of care in rearing the- 
children, from one-half to two-thirds of them die. Those 
who belonged to the Greek Church he described as being^ 
Bulgarians, but said that there were many Latin words 
interspersed in their language, from which I should 
gather that there must be a Wallach element amongst 
them, and this is confirmed by their church being called 
the Church of the Agoghi, as that name is applied to the 
Wallachs in Albania. It will be seen from the numbers 
here given that the Archbishop's own flock in Prisrend is 
a small one ; and when I enquired whether there were 
any Roman Catholics on the other side of the Scardus 
range, he answered that there were extremely few — only>- 
in fact, a few merchants in some of the larger towns. In 
former times this would seem not to have been the case, 
for originally the Archbishopric was at Uskiub, and it 
was afterwards transferred to this place. He spoke 
warmly of the persecutions and indignities to which the 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. XV. The Concealed Christians. 345 

Christians in these parts were exposed, and this applied 
to the Greeks as well as the Latins. Until a very few 
years ago, the Turks from a neighbouring slaughter-house 
used to fling all their offal into the burial-ground attached 
to the Archbishop's residence ; which insulting practice 
was not put a stop to until M. Hecquard visited the 
place as Consul, and obtained leave from the governor 
that a high wall might be built round the enclosure. 
Numbers of the Mahometans, he said, both here and in 
the neighbouring districts, are in reality Christians, only 
from fear of persecution they profess the dominant creed : 
they observe the fasts of the Church and the Sunday, but 
this is done in secret, while in public they appear as Ma- 
hometans, and worship in the mosques. In the country 
they are known by the name of Lavamani, and we had 
already heard them spoken of both in Montenegro and 
at Orosch. 

The origin of these people is a remarkable one, and 
would form an interesting episode in a history of perse- 
cutions. Like the Jews in Spain, they are an instance of 
the way in which ill-treatment may produce outward con- 
formity, and even to some extent acquiescence in a new 
creed, while at the same time the old belief has never 
been extinguished, but continues to reassert itself in a 
variety of ways. Thus it is, for instance, that the Maho- 
metans of Scodra, and in other parts of Albania, observe 
the festival of St Nicolas. In that case, indeed, nothing 
more of Christianity seems to remain than traditional 
customs, though in all probability there is enough of as- 
sociation underlying them to be easily rekindled and 
fanned into a flame. But those of whom I am now 
speaking have a great deal more than this, and some of 
them have gone so far as to throw off the mask, and avow 
thfcir real belief in the face of persecution. This will 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

346 Orosch to Prisrend. Chap. XV. 

appear from the follovang notice, which I have borrowed 
V from M. Hecquard's volume* : — 

" The origin of the concealed Christians is believed to date from 
the time when Servia was occupied by the Turks, but their numbers 
were increased at a later period When, after a series of rictories, the 
Imperialists had gained possession of Belgrade, the Albanian Catholics, 
encouraged by the promises of General Piccolomini, who held out to 
them a prospect of independence, rose in insurrection and joined the 
Austrian side. These latter, having shortly after made peace with 
Turkey, forgot their allies, and made no stipulations in their £ivour. 
To escape the fearful destiny that awaited them, some £unilies followed 
the Imperial troops ; while the rest saw their country invaded by the 
Tartars, who burned the churches, massacred the priests that minis- 
tered in them, and put to death all who dared to avow that they 
professed the Christian religion. Flying from this horrible persecution, 
part of the Christian families took refuge in the mountains of Monte- 
negro ; but when, after a short time, they were compeUed to descend 
to the towns to provide themselves with the necessaries of life, in 
order to avoid ill-treatment they assumed Turkish names, and, without 
.abandoning their religion, pretended, when out of the region of their 
mountains, to profess Mahometanism. Nevertheless, it was not the 
whole of the compromised Christians that had been able to fly ; and so, 
to avoid seeing themselves plundered or massacred, or to escape being 
forced to embrace Mahometanism, a great number of femilies, pos- 
sessing lands and goods in the territory of Prisrend, in the towns or 
villages of Ipek, Prisrend, Jacova, Janievo, Guilan, and Commanova, 
followed the example of the new inhabitants of Montenegro. When it 
could be done in secret, they used to frequent the churches and receive 
the sacraments ; and some among them used to have recourse to the 
Catholic priests, to obtain publicly from them the last comforts of 

" The Archbishops of Scopb (Uskiub), yielding to necessity, thought 
themselves justified in allowing their priests to administer the sacra- 
ments to the concealed Christians, and give them whatever spiritual aid 
they might need. This state of things lasted till the year 1703, when 
it was decided at a national council, convoked by the Archbishop 
of Antivari and attended by all the bishops of Albania, that those 
Christians who, while in heart they held fest to the feith of Christ, 
failed, nevertheless, to confess it openly, by following the practices of 

^ Hecquard, 'La Haute Albanie,' pp. 431-488. 

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Chap. XV. Their History. 347 

the Turks and assuming Mahometan names, should be expelled from 
communion in the sacraments. 

^ In confirmation of this decision, an encyclical letter of Benedict 
XIV., bearing date August ist, 1754, forbade the Albanian arch- 
bishops, bishops, priests, and missionaries, to allow Catholics to take 
Turkish names, either with the view of obtaining inununity from taxes, 
or for any other reason. * Let them persuade those,' the letter pro- 
ceeded, ' who, after having renounced the profimities of Mahometanism, 
have returned to the faith of Christ, to depart from these regions, if 
they mistrust their constancy and power of endurance, and to establish 
themselves in countries which are not subject to the Turks; for they 
ought not to be allowed, after having been regenerated in the name of 
Christ, to keep their old Turkish names ; and if they have the fiuth at 
heart, they ought not in any particular to fail in the outward pro- 
fession of Catholicism.' 

'' From that thne to the present these fiunilies, although deprived of 
all spuitual help, preserved, nevertheless, the memory of the festivals, 
observed the fasts, and handed down from one generation to another 
the prayers of the Church, which they never fiul to recite daily; 
although, in order not to expose themselves to the persecutions of 
the Turks, they pretend to practise their religion, and marry their 
daughters or give them their own in marriage. 

" The Christian priests, who are established as cures in the neigh- 
bouring villages, have on several occasions endeavoured to eradicate 
this abuse, and sought, as far as was compatible with their spiritual 
condition, to bring them to a public confession. The most remarkable 
among these was Father Antonio Marcovich. Being gifted with reso- 
lution and energy, he succeeded in persuading 120 funiUes, who com- 
posed the parish of Guilan, in Montenegro, to make public renunciation 
of Mahometanism, promising to endure with them all the persecutions 
they would have to suffer from, the Turks, and never, under any 
circumstances, to desert them. 

" So bold a move could not fkil to have disastrous consequences for 
these unhappy fiunilies. As soon as it was known, a cry of indignation rose 
on all sides, and, instead of tranquillising men's minds, the Ottoman autho- 
rities and Hafiz Pasha, the governor, did their best to inflame them. 

*' Tom from their homes, these femilies were brought to Scopia. 
There, after having been all the way exposed to the illtreatment of 
their conductors, they were thrown into dark cells, where they had to 
endure the torments of hunger. But Marcorich, the priest, full of 
charity and fiuthfiil to his promise, had followed them, and did every- 
thing in hb power to alleviate their sufferings. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

348 Orosch to Prisrejtd. Chap. XV. 

" Some days after, the heads of the village were brought before the 
Council for examination. Without sufifering themselves to be moved 
by the terrible threats of the Turks, all declared that they were, and 
would die, Christians. Exasperated by this constancy — which he 
called obstinacy— Hafiz Pasha gave orders that the unhappy bdngs 
should be put to the torture; but, being unable to overcome their 
firmness, he condemned them to be banished to Asia Minor and 
their goods confiscated. These were sold for the benefit of the public 
treasury, or rather, as some assert, for that of the Pasha's private 

'* On this the destitution of these unhappy £unilies, who had become 
the objects of fknatical rage, is indescribable. Old men, women, and 
children, made their way on foot towards their place of banishment^ 
joyfully enduring fatigues beyond their strength^ and supported b^ 
Marcovich, that worthy apostle of Christ, who led them to fix their 
eyes on a better future and an eternal recompense for all their 

" When, however, these occurrences came to the knowledge of the 
embassies of France, Austria, and England, they communicated them 
to the Turkish Government, which allotted to these families a village 
in the neighbourhood of Brusa, and gave them some land and the 
means of cultivating it Though apparently favoured by these conces- 
sions, the sufierers had much more to undergo. In spite of the injunc- 
tions of the Government, the Turkish authorities left them utterly in 
want, and on one pretext or another daily overwhelmed them with ill- 
treatment An epidemic put the finishing stroke to their miseries, 
and more than half of them perished. Father Marcovich, who had 
been appointed their cure in their new place of abode, bdng unable to 
remain indifferent to these sufferings, again betook hhnself to Con- 
stantinople, where, thanks to the urgent representations of the French 
and English ambassadors, he succeeded in obtaining the restoration of 
these unfortunate persons to their country, at the expense^of the Porte, 
and the restitution of their goods. 

" These orders were carried out : a steamer bore the conffessors of 
the fiuth to Salonica, fVom which place, with a special ^rm/7«, they 
were able to reach their homes. Of 120 families, amounting at the 
time of their departure to more than 1000 soub, there remained only 
80 persons. 

" Their return v^as un&vourably regarded by the Turks of the 
country, who were bound, according to the terms of the firman^ ta 
restore them their property. The Christians were on the point of 
perishing of hunger when in 1849 an attache of the English embassy 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. XV. Present Condition. 349 

arrived at Sco^na with a new JlrmaHf and by means of the energy he 
used obtained for them not only the restoration of their land, but also 
freedom of religious worship. From that time they were no longer 

" The example of the people of Guilan was not immediately fol- 
lowed ; the fear of persecution as yet acted as a check on the numerous 
families who were in a similar position, and, whilst beseeching their 
bishop to brmg their case under the notice of the Christian Governments, 
these unhappy persons still remained deprived of the means of grace. 

*> However, on one of the last episcopal visitations of Monsdgneur 
Bogdanovich (the late Archbishop), they declared to him that they 
were tired of waiting ; that as the batbumajoun recognised the prin- 
ciple of religious liberty, they should no longer be breaking the laws of 
the empire by practising their religion openly ; and that in every case 
they were ready to endure anything rather than remain any longer in 
this vexatious situation, and run the risk of dying without the pale of 
the Church. 

*' Monseigneur Bogdanovich, influenced by a feeling of prudence, 
induced them to wait patiently till the time should come when the new 
!aws would be brought into force, and the local government would 
have sufficient power to cause thdr sovereign's order to be respected. 
Their archbishop, however, had considerable difficulty in persuading 
them, and was reduced to great perplexity when they said to him, * If 
that time does not arrive before we are dead, will you not have to 
reproach yourself with having lost our souls ? ' 

" Is it not really time to put an end to this state of things ? The 
concealed Christians are known ; all the Turks are aware that they are 
Mahometans only in name. Would it not be better for the Ottoman 
Government to take the initiative and permit them to practise their 
religion openly, rather than expose itself to an immense scandal from 
innumerable persecutions, which will not foil to happen shortly; for 
the concealed Christians have made up their minds to declare them- 
selves, come what may, and it would only reqmre the zeal of a 
missionary to renew the scenes of 1847."' 

' Professor Ross mentions that in Cyprus there are from 2000 to 3000 
concealed Christians who profess Mahometanism, but have their children 
baptized. Among their neighbours they go by the nickname of " linen- 
cottons" (\ivofidfi0aKoi\ or, as we might say, "linsey-woolseys" (*Insel- 
reise,* iv. p. 2oa). Compare Hudibras: — 

'* A lawless linseywoolsie brother, 
Half of one order, half another. *' 

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( 3SO ) 



The Scardus Pass — Its Flora — View from the Summit — Calcandele — 
The Khanji and the Mudir — Former Condition of the Country — Here- 
ditary Pashas — The Tettovo — Momit Liubatrin — The Vaniar — 
Uskiub — Its History — General Geography of the Country ^ District 
East of Scardus — Districts West of Scardus — The Kurschumli-khan 
— Ancient Clock-tower — Justinian's Aqueduct — Circassian Colony. 

On the 29th of July we left Prisrend for the pass which 
here crosses the Scardus range. By this route it takes 
eight hours to reach the foot of the mountains on the 
opposite side at Calcandele. We heard, also, of another 
route, two hours longer, and somewhat further to the 
north, by which Uskiub may be reached without passing^ 
that place, but this appears to be a difficult and unfre- 
quented track, only suited to those who have special 
reasons for avoiding the highway. In fact, throughout 
the whole length of the Scardus chain, — from its northern 
extremity, Mount Liubatrin, which overlooks the famous 
plain of Cossova, and whose foot is skirted by the pass 
of Katschanik, to the gorge or Klissura of the Devol, 
which cuts through the mountain mass to its very base, 
thus enabling that river to flow through it from east to 
west, and forming the most marked point of demarcation 
between the Scardus and its southern continuation the 
Pindus, — there are only two passes of any importance, 
namely, that which we are now about to traverse, and 
that which we have already crossed to the east of 
Ochrida. This fact it is most important to keep in mind 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. XVI. The Scardus Pass. 35 r 

in studying the history of the country on either side of 
these mountains, both in ancient and modem times, as it 
was only by these that an army could pass from one ta 
the other.^ At first the ascent is steep both through and 
above the houses of the upper part of the town, until the 
summit of the great buttresses is reached, which, closely 
massed together and intersected by few lateral valleys, 
form the supports of the central chain. Along the ridge 
of these we proceeded for some distance, • gradually 
mounting over grassy slopes interspersed with hazel 
bushes, in a direction almost dup south, overlookfng on 
one side the vast plain of Prisrend and Ipek with its 
girdle of mountains, and on the other a broad upland 
valley, sloping away towards the stream of the Maritza, 
which appeared at some distance to the left. Beyond 
this rose the highest summits — finely formed peaks, and 
generally clothed to the top with grass. Along the 
sides of the valley a few villages were visible, and culti- 
vation extended in patches for a considerable distance 
along our track, but ceased when we began to ascend the 
steeper parts of the mountain : these were clothed here 
and there with beech forests — the only trees which grow 
in these upper regions — reaching upwards as high as 
5200 feet above the sea. A small stone-built khan was 
the only habitation above this altitude, and with the 
exception of the khanji^ the only other human beings 
that we saw before reaching the summit were some 
Wallach shepherds — Black Wallachs, as they are called, 
probably from the colour of their tents, to distinguish 
them from those who dwell in the towns.* These 

» See Grote's * History of Greece/ iv. 2, 3. 

* In a wider sense Uie name Black Wallach has been used from time 
immemorial as a distinctive appellation of the Wallachians of Dacia, or 
those living north of the Danube. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

352 Prisrend to Uskiub. Chap. XVI. 

families are completely nomad, having no settled habi- 
tation, and remaining in these mountain pastures during 
the summer months, until the snows drive them down 
towards the plains. As it was we passed several patches 
of snow, and saw a considerable quantity on the slopes 
of the higher summits. The flowers were magnificent 
during the last thousand feet of the ascent ; indeed no 
alpine or sub-alpine flora that I have ever seen could at 
all compare with them, either for variety of species, or 
abundance of plants, or luxuriance of growth. Con- 
spicuous among these were Saxifraga rotundifolioj 
Dianthus deltoides^ Viola tricolor^ Cerastium latifoliuniy 
Campanula patula, Geum montanum^ Potentilla aurea, 
Ranunculus Villarsii, Thymus serpyllum, and, above all, 
the brilliant Geum coccineum and the deep-pink clusters 
of the Erica spiculifolia. 

When we reached the col^ which was 7460 feet' above 
the sea, a fine view disclosed itself towards the east In 
front was a long deep valley, narrow and closely hemmed 
in by the mountains, at the end of which, where it opens 
out into a plain, lies the town of Calcandele, with its 
castle rising above it on one of the lower buttresses. 
Beyond the plain three mountain chains appeared, the 
highest and most distant of which was the Kara-dagh or 
Black Mountain ; on the near side of this, though not 
visible from this point, the city of Uskiub is situated. 
Further south than these rises a lofty distant peak, 
perhaps the Musdatsch, one of the principal summits of 
the Babuna range. On our left, to the north of the 
nearer valley, a sharp yet grassy height stood up con- 

» Boud gives the height as 6380 French feet {* RecueQ d'ltin^raires,' i. p. 
313). My own measurements were taken by the aneroid, corrected by the 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. XVI. View from the Summit 353 

spicuous ; but what most attracted the eye in the whole 
scene was the line of noble peaks which bounded this 
valley on the south — called Zaribaschina in Kiepert's 
map — the loftiest of which, standing like a keystone at 
the point where this offset meets the main chain of the 
Scardus, rises far above the others. Though the Liu- 
batrin and Kobelitza are generally considered higher, 
yet in Kiepert this is given as the highest elevation in 
the whole range, and certainly, when seen from the plain 
of Calcandele, it has that appearance, and bears far 
more snow than any other. 

The descent of the pass is considerably more rapid 
than the ascent, and before the valley is reached the 
path, as it winds over the rocks and broken ground in 
rough zigzags, is extremely steep, and would be very 
difficult for any except mountain horses. At one point 
we caught a view of the peak of Kobelitza between the 
nearer summits ; and at syx) feet the beeches re- 
appeared, loo feet higher than we had seen them on the 
other side, which may perhaps be accounted for by this 
side having a more southerly aspect Along with the 
first of these there stood a solitary stunted fir, the only 
one we saw on our whole route, for, as Grisebach has 
observed,* the class of coniferous trees is almost un- 
represented on the Scardus. Shortly after reaching the 
valley we crossed to the other side, along the steep 
slopes of which the track is carried some distance above 
the river all the way to Calcandele. The scattered 
villages which appeared here and there are inhabited by 
Albanians, and so in part is the plain below : there, 
however, they are mixed with Bulgarians, and beyond 

* * Reise,* ii. 259, 334. The same writer remarks that on Mount Nidje 
the beeches cease at the height of 5544 feet— il 168. 

VOL. L 2 A 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

J54 Prisrend to Uskiub. Chap. XVI. 

that no regular Albanian population is found, but only a 
few scattered villages. Thus in this more northerly- 
district, also, as we have already seen in the neigh- 
bourhood of Ochrida, the Scardus is, roughly speaking-,, 
the line of demarcation between the two races, though 
there the Bulgarians extend over it for a little distance 
to the west, as here the Albanians to the east We met 
a number of the inhabitants of one of these villages 
returning from Calcandele, where it had been market- 
day. They were mounted on mules, and most of them, 
with the true imperturbability of Mahometans — though 
probably they had never seen a Frank before — hardly 
lifted their eyes to look at us ; but one humorous-looking 
old fellow at the tail of the party turned round after we 
had passed, and shouted to us in his native Albanian,, 
which was afterwards translated for our benefit — " What 
are you come to Albania for, you Franks ? To see our 
country, eh ? Ah I 'tis a barren country, not worth your 
visiting, O Franks — d, good-for-nothing country ! " 

Seen from above, as you descend from the termination 
of the pass into its streets, Calcandele is an exquisite 
place — a mass of trees, principally willows and fruit 
trees, from amongst which only the house-roofs and 
minarets emerge, together with a picturesque clock- 
tower, the upper story of which is of wood Within, all 
is decay, filth and misery, and a large part of the popu- 
lation have a most unprepossessing look : it was the 
only place in all Turkey where we ever had stones 
thrown at us in the streets, or were called by the oppro- 
brious name of Giaour. It is a very small place as 
compared with Prisrend, though, like that city, it is 
rendered important by its position at the exit of the 
pass The information which we received as to the num- 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. XVI. Calcandele. 355 

ber of inhabitants was quite untrustworthy; but, ac- 
cording to Grisebach, it counts 1500 houses.* The rapid 
stream which we had followed during the latter part of 
our day's journey, and which is a tributary of the 
Vardar, passes through the town. The khan is the 
foulest place of the kind I ever saw. In the middle of 
the narrow court is a large cesspool, and the two 
sleeping-dens are on the ground floor and close to the 
stables, the only window having iron gratings open to 
the court. When we had taken up our abode in this 
mansion we almost regretted that we had not instead 
applied to the governor to quarter us on some family ; 
a plan which many travellers in Turkey, especially 
Germans, adopt, but which we had always been reluc- 
tant to practise. As it was, we passed the night better 
than usual. 

The governor of Calcandele is a mudir, or official of 
the third class, while Uskiub is under a kaimakam : both 
these, as well as the kaimakam of Prisrend, are subordi- 
nate to the Pasha of Monastir. We ivere forced to 
appeal to him in the morning, for the proprietor of our 
lordly residence, a Wallach, demanded double of the fair 
amount for our entertainment, and, when we offered him 
the usual sum, closed the gates of the khan to prevent 
our departure. On our telling him that the matter must 
be referred to the mudir, he assented with a readiness 
that surprised us; accordingly my companion set off 
with^him, taking our dragoman as interpreter, while I 
remained behind to guard the baggage. I was sitting on 
horseback just within the gates, in the same position in 
which I had been when they were slammed in our faces 

* Bou^ says, four or five thousand souls, of whom one-half are Christians 
— i. p. 307. The height of Calcandele is 1740 feet above the sea. 

2 A 2 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

3S6 Prisrendto Uskiub. Chap. XVI. 

— for, to say the truth, the resting-places within the 
khan were not such as to make me wish to dismount — 
and was intent on writing my journal, wholly unaware 
of the presence of company, when, on my friend's return, 
I looked up, and found the gates open, and in front of 
me a double semicircle of crimson fez caps, covering the 
heads of two rows of boys and men, who were watching 
my proceedings with the greatest curiosity. As to our 
suit, it had been settled without much difficulty. The 
mudir required the khanji to enumerate the articles with 
which he had supplied us, together with their prices. 
When he had done this, and, notwithstanding a liberal 
estimate in bis own favour, failed to make up more than 
half the sum he had demanded, he was ordered to receive 
what we had offered ; after which the mudir announced 
his intention of putting the knave in prison. My friend, 
however, interceded for him, and obtained the remission 
of that part of the sentence, knowing what sort of a 
place the interior of a Turkish prison is said to be. 

The difference between the existing state of this part 
of the country in respect of its government, and that 
which Grisebach describes when he passed through it in 
1839, is strikingly great, and serves to explain much 
both of the former condition of many provinces of the 
Turkish empire, and of the changes that have lately 
taken place. In his time Uskiub and Calcandele, with 
all the adjacent districts for a considerable distance, 
formed a hereditary Pashalik in the hands of one great 
family, the head of which, Afsi Pasha, resided at the 
former place, while the dependency of Calcandele was 
governed by his brother Abdurraman Pasha. Their 
family had held this important position for about 200 
years ; and so well established was the power in their 
possession, that when Afsi*s predecessor succeeded to 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. XVI. ' ' Hereditary PasJias. 357 

the office as a child of three years old, the administration 
was carried on during his minority by his relations, and 
he continued to rule from first to last during eighty years. 
The nature of their relation to the Sultan was one of 
practical independence, though they paid tribute and 
acknowledged themselves as his vassals. At any moment, 
if it suited their plans, either to promote their private 
interests or to counteract what seemed an offensive move 
on the part of the Porte, they were ready to rise in 
revolt ; and though in some similar cases the central 
Government succeeded in overthrowing the power of the 
local chiefs, and substituting a governor of their own, yet 
after the lapse of a few months they found' it politic to 
reinstate them on account of the authority they exer- 
cised over the population, and the powerful opposition 
they were able and ready to offer. On the other hand, 
if treated with favour and confidence, they were usually 
ready, as we have seen in the case of the Mirdite Prince, 
to assist the Sultan in his wars, and were especially 
serviceable from the number of men whom their private 
influence could bring into the field. This state of things, 
however, which Grisebach compares to the relation of 
the Princes of the Empire to the Emperor in Germany, 
was feudal rather than Oriental ; in fact, it was wholly 
alien to the Ottoman system, in which, as in that of the 
ancient Persian empire, which was in almost every point 
its prototype, the central authority is in theory supreme 
and absolute, and the assertion of independence by a 
Satrap or Pasha an unpardonable crime. In consequence, 
it is not surprising that the Turks should have taken the 
first opportunity of abolishing the rule of these families, 
and substituting in their place their own immediate 
agents. Sultan Mahmoud, with his usual wily policy, 
endeavoured to effect this, in the case of Afsi Pasha, by 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

35 8 Prisrend to Uskiub. Chap. XVI. 

offering him high office in the State with a view to 
withdraw him from the scene of his hereditary influence ; 
but that chieftain was wary enough to refuse the bait, 
and succeeded not only in excusing himself, but even in 
obtaining an enlargement of his Pashalik. Ultimately, 
however, the system of centralization prevailed, and 
along with it the Porte has obtained a firmer hold on its 
dominions, greater freedom of action, and increased 
facilities for carrying out reforms if it will. To travellers 
like ourselves the gain is considerable, as the authorities 
are always ready to facilitate one's progress as far as 
their power extends, while Grisebach seems to have had 
to rely in some measure on his skill as a physician for 
the favour of the native governors, and during his stay at 
Calcandele describes himself as in the position of a 
favoured member of the Pasha's household, who was 
expected to be at any moment at his beck and call. 
But to the people at large, in all probability, the change 
has been decidedly for the worse. Under the former 
governors, who seem on the whole to have exercised a 
beneficent rule, their wants were cared for, and there 
were persons on the spot to whom they could make 
complaints or apply for redress: besides this, under 
their influence the animosities produced by difference of 
nationality and creed seem to have been softened or 
forgotten. The effect of the present state of things 
is the very opposite of all this, since officers appointed at 
the most for a few years have no interest in the country 
or acquaintance with the inhabitants, and have every 
temptation to fill their own pockets by extortion and 
oppression. Centralization may be highly valuable, 
within certain limits, in a country whose vitality is 
strong, and where the administrative power is active 
and vigorous; but in an empire like Turkey, where 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. XVI. Tite Tettovo. 359 

neither of these conditions is present, the necessary 
effect of it must be what we see everywhere — neglect, 
stagnation, and decay. 

The Tettovo, as the district of Calcandele is called, is 
a long elevated plain lying under the eastern side of 
Scardus, and contrasted by its perfect level with the 
undulating tableland of Ipek. It is drained by the 
Vardar, which rises in the mountains at its southern end, 
and after flowing through it towards the north-east, on 
the opposite side to Calcandele, at last bends round in a 
great arc to the city of Uskiub, from which place it 
pursues its course in a south-easterly direction to the sea. 
The soil is extremely- rich, and produces well, notwith- 
standing the bad cultivation ; it has also a good fall 
of water from the foot of Scardus to the river, and is 
intersected by numerous streams which descend from 
that range, so that it possesses every requisite for drainage 
and irrigation, and with proper care would be magnifi- 
cently fertile. It was now harvest-time, and we could 
at once discover that we were in the midst of a Bulgarian 
population, from the industry with which they were 
working in the fields, especially as the men were the 
principal labourers, an unusual sight to persons coming 
from Albania, where such tasks are left almost entirely 
to the women. Where the land was not cultivated, 
large herds of cows and buffaloes were grazing ; some of 
these, which we counted, comprised from 150 to 200 head 
of cattle. The property mostly belongs to a native Bey, 
probably a member of the old ruling family; some of 
these Beys, it is said, got the lands into their own pos- 
session by the natives of the villages putting themselves 
on various occasions under their protection for the sake 
of security, on which they stipulated that they should 
hand over both their property and themselves unre- 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

36o Prisrendfo Uskiub. Chap.XVJ. 

servedly to them. * It took up an hour and a half to cross 
the plain to the Vardar, whose waters we had not seen 
since we passed its red and turbid current to the west of 
Salonica on our former journey ; we found it already 
a muddy stream, and near the bridge by which we 
crossed it, it was about 130 feet in breadth. From this 
point the Scardus presents a magnificent aspect, stretching^ 
in a long massive unbroken line until it is abruptly 
terminated by the g^rand pyramid of the Liubatrin, 
which slopes at once from its summit to the level country 
towards the north-east; its form, as it would seem,, 
suggesting its name, which signifies in Slavonic Lovely- 
Thorn, Almost behind Calcandele Mount Kobelitza 
was visible, another striking summit ; but it is especially 
noticeable in this chain, and must be taken into account 
in estimating the height both of the passes and of the 
summits themselves, that the elevation of tjie peaks is 
not great in proportion to that of the range from which 
they spring. 

After crossing the river, our route lay eastwards along- 
stony valleys, which cut successively through the two low 
mountain chains which we had seen from the Scardus 
pass lying on the hither side of the Karadagh : we thus 
cut off the chord of the arc that the Vardar is forced to 
describe in order to avoid these mountains, which are 
offsets from the great Babuna range which forms the 
eastern boundary of the districts of Monastir and Perlepe. 
In the second of these valleys lies a watershed, where 
the Vlainitza rises, which joins the Vardar a little distance 
above Uskiub : this we followed by a gradual descent 
throughout the greater part of its course. Near the 
point of junction stands a mosque, in the burial-ground 
of which are pieces of white marble columns, no doubt 
remains of antiquity, for hard by is seen a ruined wall. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. XVI. Uskiub. 361 

part of a building of mixed stone and brickwork, which 
probably belonged to some Roman baths, or similar 
structure. On the opposite side of the way some gypsies 
were encamped in black tents. We then crossed two 
rivers successively ; first the Vardar, over which a wooden 
bridge is thrown ; and then the Lepenatz, which we 
forded — a considerable tributary, flowing from the 
northern foot of Liubatrin, and the plain of Cossova. 
The towers of Uskiub had for some time been visible as 
we rode along the plain ; but as we approached nearer, 
they were hidden by the slopes of a long spur of low 
undulating ground which is thrown out by the Karadagh, 
and at its extremity, where it descends steeply to the 
river, bears the castle, which overlooks the fever-breeding 
swamps that extend below. We crossed the level ridge 
at a point behind the castle hill, and shortly afterwards 
entered the upper part of the city. 

The original name of this place was Scupi, but, in 
accordance with the practice so common among the 
Greeks of adapting an old name to a new meaning, it 
was altered by the Byzantines to Scopia, or " the look- 
out place," which is the name still in use among the 
Christians ; this was corrupted by the Turks to Uskiub. 
It» later name was happily given, as it explains the 
secret of the importance attached to it in all times. It 
was the watch-tower that commanded the passes of the 
Scardus, through which the barbarian tribes descended 
to the more level and fertile lands of Macedonia, while 
at the same time it dominated the great artery of com- 
munication with the country nearer the sea. In Roman 
times it formed a central station on the great road which 
led from Thessalonica to the Danube. Under its walls 
Samuel, the Bulgarian monarch, was defeated with great 
loss by the emperor Basil. At a later period it was 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

362 Prisrend to Uskiub. Chap. XVI. 

taken from Michael Palaeologus by the king of the 
Servians, who made it for a time his place of residence. 
Finally, the city was captured by the Turks ; and Sultan 
Bajazet, seeing the importance of the position, brought 
thither a number of Turkish families both from Europe 
and Asia, and planted them there as a colony. " This 
he did," says Chalcocondylas, "that he might have a 
starting-point from which to ravage lUyria."* From the 
Turks the place received the name of "The Bride of 

As we have now passed out of the mountain system 
connected with the Scardus and the highlands of Albania, 
and from this point almost until we reach Salonica shall 
be descending the valley of the Vardar, it may be well 
here to take a retrospective glance over the part of Turkey 
we have traversed in this and our former journey, in 
order to get a clearer idea of its somewhat intricate 
geography. The course which we have followed in our 
route from the Adriatic has lain throughout at some 
little distance south of the great watershed of European 
Turkey, which is formed by the northern heights of the 
mountains of Montenegro and the Bertiscus, by the plain 
of Cossova, and after that by a succession of low hills, 
following a direction generally north-eastwards until they 
reach the Balkan. To the northward of these all the 
rivers flow towards the Danube; to the southward 
they find their way on the one hand into the Adriatic, on 
the other into the iEgean. Nearly at right angles to this 
line runs the great central chain of Scardus, Ae back- 
bone of the western and more mountainous half of the 
country, rising at its northernmost extremity to almost 
its greatest elevation in Mount Liubatrin, and stretching 

* *De rebus Turcids,' p. 31. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. XVI. Country East of Scardus. 363 

first to the south-west, and afterwards directly south, 
until it is terminated by the Clissura of the Devol some 
distance beyond Ochrida. Here commences its con- 
tinuation, the Pindus, which runs in a lofty and well- 
defined range between Albania on the one side, and 
western Macedonia and Thessaly on the other, until it 
reaches the lofty peak of Veluki (Tymphrestus), near the 
head waters of the Spercheius, at the south-west angle 
of Thessaly, which forms a central point of divergence for 
the mountains of Greece — for Othrys and CEta to the east, 
for the mountains of iEtolia to the west, and for those 
which may be regarded as the most lineal descendants of 
the main chain, the successive heights of Parnassus, 
Helicon, and Cithaeron. The ground on the two sides 
of this great barrier is wholly different in its formation. 
That to the west is made up of a number of irregular, 
deep, and for the most part narrow river-valleys, divided 
from one another by rugged mountains : that to the east 
of a succession of valley-plains, generally elevated them- 
selves, though deeply sunk amid the rocky walls that 
surround them. To take the eastern side first : the 
characteristics of these valley-plains are the well-defined 
basins in which they lie, their rich alluvial soil, and the 
river which waters each of them respectively, and in each 
case makes its exit through a narrow . passage, which 
is its only means of escape. Some valleys there are, 
indeed, such as those which contain the lakes of Ostrovo 
and Presba, which have no outlet for their waters ; but 
in the four great valley-plains which succeed one another 
from north to south, divided by lateral spurs which run 
off at intervals from the central chain, all these charac- 
teristics are found. The northernmost and smallest of 
these is the Tettovo, the features of which we have 
already noticed, except the defile through which the 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

364 Prisrendto Uskiub, Chap. XVL 

Vardar passes between the mountains on its eastern side 
and the hills that descend from the foot of the Liubatrin. 
At the southern extremity of this a branch detaches 
itself from the Scardus, which, bending southwards, be- 
comes the important chain of the Babuna, and forms the 
eastern boundary of the second great valley-plain, that 
of Monastir, after which it is continued southward in 
other systems, such as that which runs behind Vodena, 
and lastly in Mount Bermius, on the western side of the 
plain of Salonica, the furthest offshoots of which 
approach the landward declivities of Mount Olympus. 
This second plain is enclosed on the west by another 
branch, which leaves the Scardus not far above Ochrida, 
and runs parallel to its parent chain, leaving room for 
the valley and lake of Presba between them : its highest 
summit is Mount Peristeri, behind Monastir, not far 
south of which place an offshoot from it bends round 
in a semicircle, bounding the southern side of the plain, 
and at last throws up the lofty mass of Nidj6, which 
overlooks Ostrovo. Between this mountain and the 
termination of the Babuna, the river of the plain, the 
Czema, forces its way to join the Vardar. South of this 
again, and close to the side of Pindus, is another ex- 
tensive plain, not touched by our route, from which the 
Vistritza (Haliacmon) draws its waters, and ultimately 
breaks through the Bermian range behind Verria (Berr- 
hoea), and flows into the Thermaic gulf The fourth 
and largest valley-plain, that of Thessaly, is divided from 
this by the Cambunian chain, which connects Pindus 
with Olympus, and, being similarly hemmed in by moun- 
tains, emits its waters into the iEgean through the Vale 
of Tempe. All these four districts may vie in fertility 
with any other part of Turkey. 

Turning from this to the western side, we find the 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. Xvr. Country West of Scardus. 365 

greatest possible contrast. Extensive level plains are 
here entirely wanting, for even that of Prisrend and Ipek 
is hardly more than an undulating plateau ; and instead 
of well-defined systems of mountains, we see such con- 
fused masses and irregular lines of divergence, that the 
plan of the country is better traceable in the rivers. 
Between Montenegro and the Bertiscus we have noticed 
how the land is drained by the Moratza flowing into the 
lake of Scodra, whose waters are carried into the sea by 
the Boyana. Further inland, the White Drin, rising near 
Ipek, and flowing southward through the plain between 
Scardus and Bertiscus — and the Black Drin, which carries 
off" the waters of the lake of Ochrida, and in its north- 
ward course separates Scardus from the mountains of 
the Mirdites — combine their waters, and run westward 
through the deep gorge so often mentioned to the 
Adriatic, near Alessio. South of this the masses of the 
Mirdite mountains and the contiguous groups of Tyrana 
and Croia fill up the whole country as far as Elbassan, 
where the Skumbi intersects it from near the lake of 
Ochrida to the sea. Nearly parallel to this, though with 
a longer course, rising on the further side of Scardus, 
is the Devol, with which in the plain westward of Berat 
the Usumi joins its stream, thus forming the Beratino. 
Between the upper waters of these two rivers stands the 
solitary mass of Mount Tomohr, which hardly shows 
any sign of connection with Pindus, or any of the neigh- 
bouring ranges. In this part of central Albania some small 
inland plains occur, such as those of Elbassan and Berat, 
but those that run in from the sea form the richest land 
in all Albania, especially that of Avlona, which at an 
early period attracted the notice of Greek settlers. The 
hills which approach the coast at intervals in this part 
are low, but immediately to the south rbe suddenly 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

366 Prisrend to Uskiub. Chap. XVI. 

to a great height, and form the stupendous precipices of 
the Acroceraunia. From this point the conformation 
of the country becomes extremely intricate, and the 
most important starting- place from which to examine 
its plan is the Zygos pass over Pindus, above Metzovo, 
where the head^waters of the Peneius run down into the 
innermost angle of the Thessalian plain. From this 
point the rivers of Albania radiate in different directions 
to the north-west, the Viosa towards Tepelen and Avlona, 
to the south the Arta flowing into the Ambracian Gulf, 
and the Aspropotamo (Achelous), which waters Acar- 
nania. Westward, in the heart of the mountains, lies the 
lake of Yanina, whose waters have no visible outlet ; and 
from the groups of mountains in its neighbourhood, the: 
Kalamas descends to the sea opposite Corfu.'' 

The city of Uskiub lies in the slope of a low valley 
reaching to the river, having on one side of it the castle 
hill, on the other a lower hill covered with g^vestones, 
of which also a vast number extend round the upper 
part of the place, testifying to the large population it 
must once have contained. The present inhabitants are 
said to amount to about 21,000, of whom 13,000 are Ma- 
hometans, 7000 Christians of the Greek Church, and 800 
Jews ;® but there is a look of decay about the city, and 
Its glories are of the past. As compared with the other 
cities of thisipart of Turkey, it has a great look of anti- 
quity, which is especially apparent in the baths and 
minarets. The khan in which we lodged was a fine 
specimen of these old buildings — ^a brickwork structure, 

f See on this subject Grisebach, chap, ry.^t passim ; and on the distribu- 
tion of the tribes of this district in ancient times, see chap. xxv. of Grote*s 
* History of Greece.' 

■ Hahn, < Reise,' p. 64. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. XVI. The Kurschumli-kJian. 367 

built round a spacious quadrangle, with two rows of 
stone arches and pillars, one above another, supporting 
its corridors and galleries. It is entered by a gateway- 
secured with strong iron-bound doors; in the centre 
stands a large stone basin, which once contained a 
fountain, and at the back of the building are excellent 
stables. The whole place is massive, and very pictu- 
resque. In former days, when there was an extensive 
trade between Ragusa and Uskiub, it was a great resort 
for Ragusan merchants, and in one place a Slavonic 
name, which is thought to have belonged to one of them, 
is inscribed in large red letters on the wall. From the 
arched gallery of the upper story, which is reached by two 
stone staircases, doors open out into square apartments, 
which were occupied by these merchants ; most of them 
are now left to decay, but a few we found in repair, and 
still tenanted. On the outside are seen the grated 
windows of the upper story, together with the dome- 
shaped attic roofs, covered with lead, from which it gets 
its name of Kurschumli-khan, or Lead Hotel. The bridge 
by which the Vardar is crossed was originally composed 
of nine arches, seven of which still remain, and the piers 
of two others, over which woodwork is now thrown ; the 
stones of which it is built are very large, and the piers 
very strong to resist the force of the rushing stream. The 
appearance of the workmanship, and the level roadway 
which passes over it, so different from the steep ascent of 
ordinary Turkish bridges, leaves little doubt that it 
dates from Roman times. In the castle walls there 
is also work which is evidently Roman. 

In the upper part of the city there is a lofty clock- 
tower, the lower part of which is of stone, — the upper, in 
which the clock is contained, of wood ; it is mentioned 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

368 Prisrend to Uskiub. Chap. XVI. 

by the English traveller Brown,* who passed by here in 
the seventeenth century, and before his time by the 
Mahometan writer Hadji Khalfa, in his description of 
Uskiub.^° The last-named writer speaks of the clock as 
dating from the time of the " unbelievers," and as being 
famed for its size and sound, so that its striking was 
heard at the distance of three hours' journey from the 
city. As it had not been investigated since that time, we 
were anxious to know whether it still remained, and 
accordingly laid siege to the tower, using a big stone in 
default of a knocker, for the door was fastened, and we 
could hear the keeper moving about in the upper story. 
At first he pretended not to hear us, and when at last he 
descended, a long palaver ensued before we were ad- 
mitted ; for, as he told our dragoman privately, he could 
not understand why we should want to examine the 
country, unless it was with the view of coming to conquer 
it afterwards. When the door at last was opened, we 
ascended the steep wooden staircase, which had been 
rendered neither cleaner nor safer by the multitude of 
pigeons that tenanted the tower, until we reached the 
clock ; from this to the bell, and to an opening above it, 
the stairs were very rotten and rickety, but we were 
rewarded for our trouble by a superb bird's-eye view 
over the country, including the city itself, the river and 
its plains, the Karadagh, about ten miles off to the north, 
and the distant range of Scardus to the west. The bell, 
which we examined, had no marks to explain its origin 
or date, and the old clock has unhappily been broken 
and removed (so the keeper told us), and has been 
replaced by a new one. 

» 'Travels,' p. 33- 

"• * Rumeli and Bosna,' p. 95, quoted by Hahn,'* Reise,' p. 63. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. XVI. Justiniaiis Aqueduct. 369 

Early on the morning after our arrival we visited an 
aqueduct, which lies a mile and a half beyond the 
northernmost extremity of the city, and is still used for 
its original purpose, to bring water into the city from the 
lower slopes of the Karadagh. This structure is specially 
interesting, because in all probability it was erected by 
the Emperor Justinian, when he adorned the city with 
buildings, in commemoration of his having been born in 
the immediate neighbourhood.^^ It crosses a depression 
in the ground over which the watercourse had to be 
carried, and is composed — not, as Brown says, of 200 
arches, nor, as Hahn computes it, of 120, but of 53 
round arches supported by strong piers, over which, in 
the intervals of the main arches, the masonry is pierced 
by small arches mostly pointed, though some here and 
there are round. In the lowest part of the depression its 
height is about forty feet, and at one point in its course 
it makes an angle; the material is mixed brick and 
stone, rather roughly put together, except that of the 
arches, which are entirely of brick ; the whole structure 
supports the watercourse, which is composed of stones 
and rubble, and covered in at the top. The architecture 
throughout is Byzantine. 

As we returned, we noticed at the door of a public 
building in the suburbs two armed men, who wore a 
peculiar head-dress of a rough brown material, in appear- 
ance something between our guards' bearskin and the 
chimney-pots of the dervishes, and ornamented with a 
knob at the crown. On enquiry we found they belonged 
to a Circassian colony which had lately been established 
in this place by the Turkish government. In doing so 

" See Appendix E, on The Birthplace of Justinian. 
VOL. I. 2 B 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

370 Prisrend to Uskiub. Chap. XVI. 

they have followed the example of their forefathers, for, 
as I have already mentioned, when the Turks first con- 
quered the city, they placed an Asiatic colony there. By 
some persons the planting of these colonies of Circas- 
sians, the most fanatical of Mahometans, in the inland 
districts is regarded with great suspicion, as being in- 
tended as a demonstration against the Christian popu- 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

( 371 ) 



Justinian's Birthplace — Kiuprili — Unexplored Route to Salonica — The 
Site of Stobi — Negotin — Banja — Demirkapu or Iron Gate of the 
Vardar — Boats Shooting the Rapids — Trafl&c to Perlepe — Lower 
Course of the River — Ardjen Lake — Avret Hissar — Arrival at Salo- 
nica — Railway Route across Turkey — Lines to India — Migrations of 
Labourers — Commercial Treaty with England — The Eastern Ques- 
tion — Greek and Slavonic Races — Future Prospects of Turkey. 

On leaving Uskiub we rode for four hours over a long 
plain which skirts the Vardar, with fine views of the 
majestic Liubatrin behind us, while at one point a lofty 
distant peak was seen through the nearer mountains to 
the west, perhaps one of those on the hither side of the 
Perim-dagh or Orbelus. A great quantity of corn is^ 
grown in the plain ; and where the land was left uncul- 
tivated, large herds of cows, horses, and buffaloes, were 
feeding on the rank grass. These last-named animals 
are also used here for drawing cars ; and when left at 
liberty may often be seen immersed in muddy pools, to 
which they betake themselves as a refuge from the flies ; 
occasionally I have seen their whole bodies encrusted 
with a coating of grey slime, bearing evident traces of 
their mud bath. In one part of our route we passed a 
large building, which serves as a factory or storehouse 
for saltpetre, which is collected in the neighbourhood and 
carried to Constantinople to be used in the manufacture 
of gunpowder. At the southern end of the plain the 
river makes a sudden bend and enters a narrow defile, in 
which the rapids must be very considerable, to judge by 

2 B 2 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 

372 The Vardar Valley. ' Chap. XVIF. 

the difference of elevation between the level of Uskiufr 
and that of Kiuprili in the plain below it '} just at its 
commencement are the villages of Taor and Bader, which 
are believed to correspond to the Tauresium and Bede- 
riana of ancient times.* The former of these villages, as 
having been Justinian's birthplace, was visited by Von 
Hahn in the winter of 1858. He found it to be situated 
on a small spur projecting towards the plain from the 
rocks which form the defile, and overhanging the river ; 
above it rises a small plateau, well suited to be the posi- 
tion of the Tetrapyrgion, or square castle, which Pro- 
copius describes as having been built by Justinian ; and 
here, the peasants told him, in ploughing they meet with 
traces of old masonry, and in one part there are remains 
of a watercourse of brickwork covered in with tiles. 

Above the defile the river is joined by a tributary 
flowing from the east, the Egri-su, which even at this 
time of year had a considerable stream ; but throughout 
this plain and the Tettovo we had observed, what we 
before noticed on the other side of Scardus, the remark- 
able freshness of all the vegetation, the explanation of 
which was to be found as well in the amount of rain that 
had fallen during the spring, as in the upland character 
of these districts. Close to this stream we stopped 
during the heat of the day at the Kaplan Khan ; and on 
resuming our journey left the river and made our way by 
a pass in the mountains through the spur which forms 
one side of the defile ; from this we descended into a 
lower and smaller plain, at the further end of which lies 
the town of Kiuprili, or, as the Christians call it, Velesa. 
The scenery of this part was extremely wild and barren ; 
a small quantity of corn was grown on the nearer slopes, 

* Uskiub is by the barometer 855 feet, Kiuprili 565 feet above the sea. 

* See Appendix E., on The Birthplace of Justinian. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. XVII. KiuprilL 373 

but all the mountains beyond were wholly uncultivated. 
Just before entering the place a single plane-tree greeted 
our eyes, the first we had seen throughout the whole of 
this journey, giving signs of the approach of more luxu- 
riant growths and more varied foliage than those to which 
we had lately been accustomed. Mulberry trees also are 
grown here in considerable numbers for the sake of 
the silkworms which are reared by the inhabitants, and 
their produce sold to merchants, principally Italians, who 
come hither to fetch it for exportation. 

The appearance of Kiuprili surprised us. We had 
expected to find it an insignificant place, for it is never 
named among the more important cities of Turkey ; but 
instead of this, it presents a very imposing aspect from 
its numerous well-built houses, and has an excellent 
khan, which, from the blue and yellow with which its 
front is decorated, is known as " the Painted Khan." We 
were told that it is the first town, as you emerge from the 
central part of European Turkey, where the Christians 
have comparative liberty, and enjoy something like pros- 
perity. During our stay we often heard Greek spoken in 
the streets ; and though the population is estimated at 
2S,cxx),^ only six or seven minarets were to be seen. It 
would almost seem as if the former greatness of Uskiub 
had migrated here. Its position on sloping hills on both 
sides of the Vardar, at the entrance of a narrow defile, is 
extremely striking; in places the steep clifTs rise close 
above it, and at one point there is a nook far up on the 
hill-side to the west, in which stands a newly-built church 
in a pretty position, though from being closed in by 
bare rock it must have the temperature of a furnace. 
The two parts of the town are united by a long wooden 

• ue,^ 5000 houses, as given by Grisebach, ii. 223. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

374 The Vardar Valley. Chap. XVIL 

bridge supported on stone piers, from which its Turkish 
name is derived The Christian name of Velesa is pro- 
bably a corruption of Bylazora, the name of the old 
Greek town which occupied the same site ; it is one of 
those important positions which are naturally occupied 
and defended from an early time, as it commands the 
entrance of the defile, the key of the lower country, from 
the north, the side from which barbarian invaders would 
be most likely to come. 

From Kiuprili our journey became one of exploration, 
for information was wholly wanting about the lower part 
of the Vardar valley, as no traveller seemed hitherto to 
have taken this route. Strange though it may appear, 
since this is the direct way, and presents no difficulties to 
the traveller, yet the post road or track from this place 
to Salonica, which was followed by Grisebach and Hahn^ 
makes a long detour westwards into the mountains to 
Monastir, and from thence descends by Vodena to the 
sea; the line of telegraph wires from Belgrade follows 
the same direction. As might be expected, we had not 
proceeded far from the beaten path before we found our 
maps — even Kiepert's, usually so accurate — quite at fault; 
so that, though we had no g^eat expectation of finding 
many objects of interest, and could look forward to 
increasing heat as we got further south and descended 
into the plains, we had at least the satisfaction of breaking 
new ground. Over this region I hope to carry my 
readers somewhat rapidly, but I would advise those who 
do not care for topographical details to avoid it alto- 

The market of Kiuprili, which is held in an open space 
close to the bridge, presented a busy scene as we passed 
through it early in the morning on the ist of August, in 
order to cross to the right bank of the river. Arrived 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. XVII. Unexplored RouU. 375 

there, we turned southwards through the defile, and after 
passing the last houses of the city, noticed some old By- 
zantine churches, now in ruins, which stand on a pro- 
jecting spur beneath the lofty rocks overlooking fine 
reaches of the river. Following its stream for some dis- 
tance, we reached the point where a good-sized tributary, 
the Babuna, flows in, descending from the mountains of 
the same name ; through the deep valley in which it runs 
lies the regular route to Monastir. This we crossed, and 
leaving the Vardar, which here makes a bend, pursued 
our course over country undulating in dull, desert-like, 
stony plateaux. The only human being we saw in this 
part was a shepherd-boy, playing shrilly on a curved 
pipe, and followed by his flock feeding on the scant dry 
herbs. At length we again descended towards the river 
and more cultivated regions, where the barley had only just 
been cut, and still lay out in sheaves. The maize grew 
to an immense height, so high that our baggage-horse, 
unable to resist the temptation, became almost invisible 
in the green thicket The river's course to our left could 
be traced by a partial line of poplars and willows, and 
between our track and it we passed scattered villages, 
miserable hovels of unbaked brick. Throughout our ride 
we passed excellent springs ; but requiring shade for our 
mid-day halt, we struck off a little way from our path, 
and stopped at the small village of Gratschan. Both the 
houses here and the neighbouring land belong to a Turk, at 
whose steward's house we stopped in the middle of the 
day : the fields are cultivated by Bulgarian peasants, who 
have half the produce, according to the metayer system, 
which is common in Turkey. They were a heavy-looking 
set of people, like most of their race ; but whether from 
natural dulness or from oppression, or both, it would be 
hard to say. The upper room, where we rested, was 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

376 TJte Vardar Valley, Chap. XVII. 

open on two sides to the air ; and in it were two speci- 
mens of the guzla — one of the same kind as we had seen 
in Montenegro, the other much smaller, and shaped like 
a guitar, with several jingling wire strings : this is the 
most common form of the instrument among the Bul- 
garians. At the foot of the wooden staircase which led 
up to this chamber outside the building, was a slice of 
the capital of a marble column, which, the proprietor told 
us, was brought from the neighbouring village of Czema 
Gratzko. This place is situated about two miles off, on 
a hill rising above the river Czerna, the ancient Erigon, 
which carries off the waters of the plain of Monastir, and 
is the largest tributary of the Vardar : here it is a wide 
stream, and we had to search for some time before we 
could discover a safe ford. The course of this river, 
which passes between Mount Nidj6 and the end of the 
Babuna chain, has never yet been explored, and well 
deserves the attention of future travellers. 

The position of Czerna Gratzko is precisely such as the 
Greeks were accustomed to choose for their towns — a lower 
height at the end of a range of mountains, separated by a 
depression from those behind, and projecting into a plain 
which it thus commands, while a river makes a bend under 
its walls. The site is now occupied by a walled Bulgarian 
village, the house of the chief man being placed at the 
angle which overlooks the river, and supported on high 
stone foundations. There can be little doubt that this 
place represents the important town of Stobi, which in 
Roman times was the meeting-point of four great roads ; 
one from the Danube by Scupi (Uskiub) ; another from 
Serdica, near the modern Sophia, to the north-east ; a 
third from Heracleia (Monastir), to the south-west, thus 
forming a line of connection with the Egnatian Way ; 
and a fourth to Thessalonica. It is mentioned in the 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. XVII. The Site of Stobi. 377 

Tabular Itinerary* as being 47 Roman miles from Hera- 
cleia, and 55 from Tauriana (Doiran), which is 33 from 
Thessalonica : these distances, as far as we can at 
present judge, agree very fairly with this position ; and 
still more exact is the distance of 23 Roman miles from 
the Stena, or Iron Gate of the Axius, at which we arrived 
on the following day. Again, as it was on the road 
from Thessalonica to Scupi, we should expect it to be 
near the Axius ; and it is described by Livy as being a 
town of Paeonia, in the district Deuriopus, which was 
watered by the Erigon :* the importance of this position 
also at the junction of two considerable rivers is in its 
favour, for the Czerna joins the Vardar less than a mile 
below. That it is an ancient site is shown by the piece 
of a column which had been brought from thence. I 
inquired for coins, but could not hear of any. After 
crossing the river, we ascended the height behind the 
village, which is the highest point of these hills, thinking 
that possibly the city might have stood there instead of 
being on the lower spur, but we found no traces of ruins ; 
and I have little doubt that Czerna Gratzko itself is on 
the site of Stobi. 

The heights just mentioned belong to one of the 
numerous spurs which from time to time are thrown out 
towards the Vardar, in this part of our route, from the 
loftier chains, which run parallel to it at a distance of 
about 20 miles to the west, and from 10 to 15 to the 
east : the still higher range which at intervals appeared 
far away to the west was probably the Babuna. From 
Czerna Gratzko we rode over a succession of low hills to 
Negotin, or Tikvesh, which was to be our resting-place 
for the night — a poor country-town, though far superior 

* See Leake's * Northern Greece,' iii 441, 

* Livy, xxxiii. 19, xxxix. 53, xlv. 29. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

378 Tlie Vardar Valley. Chap. XVII: 

to all the other places between Kiuprili and Salonica : it 
is divided into a Turkish and a Christian quarter, the 
former of which is distinguished by its mosque, the latter 
by its clock-tower. This place is situated at some dis- 
tance from the river, which here makes a considerable 
bend to the east ; we were much puzzled in finding it, as 
the two names are marked in Kiepert as representing 
two separate places. To us, both in the town itself and 
in the neig;hbouring village of Islam-Koi, the natives 
declared that they were two names for the same place ; 
at a khan near Marvinsta, however, a day's journey fur- 
ther south, the khanji said that Tikvesh is the name of 
the district, Negotin of the town ; and the same account 
is given by Dr. Barth,* whose route through Turkey, in 
1862, here cuts across ours. These conflicting statements 
can only be reconciled by supposing that while the town 
is called Negotin, of which there is no doubt, the name of 
Tikvesh is applied both to it and to the district. Certain 
it is that double names are frequently found in these 
parts, both for places and features of the country ; and 
though in many cases this arises from the mixed Turkish 
and Bulgarian population, yet apparently it does not 
always proceed from this cause. 

At half-past five the next morning we were on our 
way, still keeping on the low hills, from which we occa- 
sionally obtained peeps of the river, until we gradually 
descended to it near the miserable village of Banja, which 
lies about a mile-and-a-half above the Iron Gate. As 
the city of Antigoneia, according to the Tabular Itine- 
rary, was situated about half-way between Stobi and the 
Stena, its remains, if any exist, ought to be found some- 
where in this part of the country ; however, notwith- 

' ' Reise durch das Innere der Eiiropaischen Tiirkd,' p. 120. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. XVII. Iron Gate of tlte Vardar. 379- 

standing many inquiries, we could hear nothing of anti- 
quities, either at Negotin or Banja, or anywhere else 
along our route, nor did we see any squared stones or 
pieces of marble in the villages. Shortly before reaching 
Banja there is a hill suitable for the site of a city, in a 
position somewhat resembling that of Czerna Gratzko, 
and commanding the entrance to the defile : this, how- 
ever, is too far south for what is required, and at Banja 
we were informed that there were no old walls on its 
summit Throughout this part of the country the soil is 
composed of a sandy clay, which is very friable and pow- 
dery, and consequently ill-suited for preserving the traces 
of ancient cities. Below Banja, and just above the defile, 
is a wide river-bed, in which a narrow stream of clear 
water was flowing ; all about its bed dwarf plane-trees 
were growing, and this was the first place where we had 
seen any number of them ; below the defile they appear 
at once to have entered on a different temperature, for 
there they form the principal vegetation, and grow most 

The Demirkapu, or Iron Gate of the Vardar, resembles 
in its main features the more famous defile of the same 
name on the Danube, being a passage between steep- 
walls of rock, through which the river forces its way in a 
series of rapids. The first of these commences just above 
the pass, and makes a sharp turn on entering it ; then 
succeeds a long reach of calm water, until another rapid 
is formed towards its exit On the two sides, lofty cliffs 
of grey limestone patched with red rise almost precipi- 
tously over the river, bearing feathery trees and shrubs 
in their crevices. The path lies on the right bank ; just 
at its entrance, at the angle formed by the first rapid, a 
Turkish guard-house is built over an archway through 
which the road passes, and shortly after this, where a 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

38o TJie Vardar Valley. Chap. XVII. 

large rock on your left hand lies detached from the pre- 
cipices, a passage has been cut through, traces of the 
work being left in the ribbed lines and grooving with 
which its sides are marked. This is probably Roman 
work, and we saw exactly similar marks on the rocks in 
the pass of Tempe ; but it may date from a still earlier 
period, for this pass must always have been of import- 
ance for the traffic of the country, and we know from 
Thucydides that regular lines of communication existed 
in this district at least as early as the Peloponnesian 
war.^ In parts the road is supported on masonry, room 
being just left for it between the cliffs and the river, over 
which it hangs. The height of the precipices may be 
600 or 700 feet on the left bank, and somewhat less on 
the right ; they are steepest in the middle of the defile, 
where on the opposite side to the road they descend im- 
mediately to the water ; just below this, again, they are in- 
tersected by a deep cleft, and at the lower end of the gorge 
a lofty peak towers finely above the river. The pass is 
about a quarter of a mile long, and after you have passed 
the guard-house makes a curve, first to the left and then 
again to the right : the river is perhaps 500 feet in width ; 
while we were there a fine eagle soared across and settled 
on the rocks on the further side. It was an exciting 
sight to see the boats which navigate this part of the 
stream shooting the .rapids. We had noticed some of 
them at Kiuprili, from which place they start to carry 
corn to Salonica for exportation, and were anxious to 
know how they could make the return journey, for they 
are not arranged for rowing, and simply float down the 
rapid currents. We were informed that they never come 
back, but on reaching the sea are broken up and sold for 

? Thuc., ii. 100. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. XVII. Boats Shooting the Rapids. 38 1 

timber, while their freight is carried in boats to the city. 
They resemble huge punts, being simple parallelograms 
of boards constructed in the rudest way, two of which are 
fastened together side by side ; and when they come to 
the rapids, a man is stationed at either end of both boats, 
four in all, and as they are borne down through the 
surging current, they all steer with paddles, which are 
something between a rudder and an oar, and direct their 
unwieldy vessel very cleverly.® 

Perhaps the finest view of the defile is obtained from 
near its exit, where the path ascends over a rocky spur. 
Here, as you look back, nothing is seen but the course of 
the river, and the grand abrupt precipices which close 
it in. Below this point the valley becomes more open, 
but the succeeding fifteen miles of its descent are bounded 
on either side by high hills ; the road follows the stream, 
and is shaded in places by well-grown plane-trees. 
Above Banja we had met very little traffic, but here we 
were passed by numbers of mules, horses, and asses, laden 
with a variety of boxes and bales, and, as we advanced 
further towards Salonica, the road at intervals was lined 
with caravans of merchants and carriers. We found 
that they were on their way to the great fair at Perlepe, 
which was to take place in a fortnight's time ; they turn 
off from the main road near Banja by a track that leads 
westward from that point through the mountains. At 
the time of Dr. Barth*s visit in 1862, this part of the 
route seems to have been almost deserted ; perhaps on 
account of the robbers whom he frequently mentions as 
then infesting the country. About ten miles below the 
Iron Gate we crossed the river by a ferry, a short dis- 
tance from which is situated the Gradet Khan, where we 

' The barometer gave 280 feet as the height of the Demirkapu above 
the sea. . 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

.382 The Vardar Valley. Chap. XVII. 

made our midday halt Delightful it was to rest under 
the shadow of a spreading mulberry-tree in the midst of 
the tall maize, listening half-asleep to the song of the 
cicala — for both we and our horses began to feel the 
heat ; the latter especially had a right to show signs of 
fatigue towards the end of their long journey from 
Scodra, and we were obliged to ride them more slowly 
than heretofore. The khanji at this place, like several 
others whom we met with on this road, came from 
Zitza, near Yanina ; a district of Albania, many of the 
inhabitants of which seem to take to this occupation. 

Our course on leaving the khan continued along the 
river, until a considerable plain opened out to the east, 
through which we made a detour to avoid a bend of the 
stream. On the opposite side of this the hills again 
descend to the water, while another plain opens out from 
the opposite bank, and extends for some distance down 
the Vardar. As we pass through these hills, we leave on 
our left the village of Marvinsta, and descend to a place 
called Gradiska, which lies among them, composed of 
wretched Bulgarian hovels, containing a very stupid and 
boorish, but not uncivil, population. Nothing can "be 
more striking than the entire absence of towns along this 
great artery of internal communication, flowing, as it 
does, through a district capable of good cultivation, and 
well provided with springs of water ; it can only be re- 
garded as proceeding from complete neglect of the true 
means of developing the resources of the country. The 
river itself, which is visible from this place, is a fine sight 
when it flows in one stream, but in this part it is broken 
up by sand-banks, and consequently shallow : the work 
of making it navigable would now be a difficult one. On 
the enclosures built round the houses in the village were 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. XVII. Lower Course of t/ie River. 383 

suspended numerous bleached skulls of horses or oxen, 
as is frequently the case on hedges in Turkey: the 
Greeks use these as scarecrows, but the Bulgarians are 
^aid to regard them as signs of wealth, and of good 
omen. By both these races it is probable that the power 
of averting evil is attributed to them, as was the case 
also among the ancient Greeks.* The khanji with whom 
we passed the night informed me that there were remains 
of ancient walls on a height near Marvinsta, and that 
'Coins were found there, but the peasants had no use for 
them, anfl threw them away. This site may, perhaps, 
represent Idomene, a place situated on the great northern 
road between Tauriana and the Stena, which would 
naturally pass by here. Colonel Leake, who did not 
visit this part of the country, suggests that that place 
should be looked for on the other side of the river, 
because it is spoken of as being in the province of Ema- 
thia, which was bounded to the eastward by the Axius ;"* 
on the other hand, the statement of Thucydides " that 
Sitalces, King of Thrace, when invading Macedonia from 
the east, descended upon the Axius at Idomene, might 
seem to imply that it was situated on the left bank. It 
is true that that place is said to be only twelve Roman 
miles below the Stena, and this site is considerably 
further, but the numbers of the Itinerary are not very 
trustworthy, and in a land where important towns seem 
to have been scarce, the discovery of a city well situated 
on the road, not very far from the required position, is a 
presumption in its favour. Below Gradiska the rocks 
have evidently been cut to make a passage for the road, 
which may, perhaps, follow the ancient track. Fit)m this 

• See Wachsmuth, * Das alte Griechenland im neuen,' p. 62. 
w 'Northern Greece,' iiL p. 442. " Thuc, il 95. 

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384 The Vardar Valley. Chap. XVII. 

point the mountains on both sides of the valley retire 
from the river, especially those to the east, which trend 
away to a good distance; upon those on the opposite 
side somewhat further down is a village which contains 
a manufactory of cloth for the Turkish army. West- 
ward of these mountains again, and north of Vodena, is 
the district called Moglena, which is inhabited by the 
Pomaks, a colony of many thousand Bulgarians, who 
have turned Mahometans. 

After continuing our journey the next morning for 
some little way along the bank of the river, we at last 
take leave of it for good, and, crossing another plain, 
strike into a bare sandy table-land, on reaching the ridge 
at the further end of which the scenery entirely changes 
from what we have lately seen. Before us lay an alluvial 
plain, at the lower — u e., the western — end of which, 
bounded by green marshes, was spread a broad expanse 
of water, at least twelve miles long, at first enclosed 
between the line of hills on which we were standing and 
an opposite ridge of the same elevation, but afterwards 
extending into the level country in the direction of the 
Vardar. From the bare heights opposite there rose, at a 
point directly to the south-east, a rocky hill with a cas- 
tellated appearance, on which, we were told, on Easter 
morning a great number of Christians assemble for ser- 
vice. The summit itself, when seen near at hand, resem- 
bles a huge altar, but there is no church upon it It is 
dedicated to St Lazarus: the Turks call it Kalabak. 
Through the centre of the plain a narrow river flows into 
the Ardjen lake — as this piece of water is called — from 
the smaller lake of Doiran, on which, at a distance of 
three hours from the head of the Ardjen lake, stands the 
town of Doiran, the ancient Tauriana. Both the town 
and lake are hidden by intervening hills, and behind 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. XVII. The Ardjen Lake. 385 

this again, to the north-east, high mountains bound the 
horizon. This view impressed us all the more from being 
quite unexpected, as in Kiepert's map only a small lake 
is marked in the position of this fine expanse. In winter 
it extends still further into the plain at its head, but at 
the further extremity we could not trace any connection 
between it and the Vardar. At Salonica we were told 
that the water of the lake passes off by evaporation only, 
and there is no natural communication between their 
waters ; but that a gentleman, who possesses a farm in 
that part of the country, has lately cut a dike for pur- 
poses of drainage to carry some of its surplus water into 
the Vardar. 

As we were lying that afternoon during the over- 
powering heat on the gallery of the Ardj en-khan, in the 
midst of motley groups of Turkish, Bulgarian, and Alba- 
nian carriers, I fancied I traced above the end of the lake 
the grand form of a very dim and distant mountain. At 
first I mistrusted my eyes, but when at last I had per- 
suaded myself that it was no illusion, I knew that there 
was but one mountain which could present such an ap- 
pearance in that or in any other direction. Turning to 
an old Turk who was smoking his pipe close to me, I 
inquired its name ; " Elymb-dagh," he replied, giving the 
Turkish form of Olympus. There was refreshment in 
the very thought that, within a few days, we should be 
ensconced in some cool retreat upon its umbrageous 
ides ! As we crossed the plain on leaving this place we 
passed the stream which runs from the Doiran lake, now 
a trickling rivulet, and mounted the heights on the other 
side just west of the altar-formed hill, whence we obtained 
views over the lower course of the Vardar, which lay 
wholly in the plain. At last, after traversing some more 
barren undulating ground, we descended in the evening 

VOL. I. 2 C 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


The Vardar Valley, 

Chap. XVII. 

to Avret Hissar, a Turkish village lying under a steep 
height, surmounted by a mediaeval castle with pictu- 
resque walls of defence following the lines of the cliffs. 
Beyond this place another extensive plateau of sandy 
moor-land intervenes before the plain of Salonica is 
reached. In the midst of this lies a lake about a mile 
and a half in length, without any visible escape for its 
waters, from the neighbourhood of which our eyes were 
at length delighted with the sight of the clear blue sea. 
We wound our way down to the village of Galliko, on a 
river of the same name — the ancient Echidorus — an 
inconsiderable stream, which might easily have been 
drunk up by the army of Xerxes, as Herodotus tells us 
it was." Not far from this we found ourselves once more 
on the carriage-road which had been intended to go to 
Monastir — as dusty now as it had been muddy when last 
we passed it — and rode along this through the parched 
plain to Salonica. In the environs of the city we saw 
the cypress for the first time since leaving the Adriatic^^ 
Having thus followed the Vardar throughout the 
greater part of its course, it may not be amiss for me to 
say a few words about a project that has lately been 

" Herod, vii. 127. 

" The following are the distances in hours and minutes between Uskiub 
and Salonica. The hour may be reckoned as from 3 to 3! miles. The 
general direction all through was rather S. of S.S.E. : — 



Kaplan-khan .. ..4 5 

Kiuprili 4 40 

Gratschan .. ..4 40 

Ford of Czema . . — 3$ 

N^otin 3 o 

Banja 2 45 

Demir Kapu . . . . — 20 

Ferry 2 10 


Gradet-khan .. .. — 20 

Gradiska 3 10 

Kumlu-koi .. .. 2 30 

Ardjen-khan .. .. 2 15 

Avret Hissar .. .. 2 45 

Lake 2 15 

Khan Galliko.. .. 2 10 

Salonica 2 o 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 


Chap. XVF, Railway Route across Turkey, 387 

suggested, — of connecting the Danube with the iEgean 
by a line of railway. It was with the express object 
of discovering the practicability of this, with a view to 
making the line of communication between England and 
India pass through the Austrian dominions, that Von 
Hahn undertook his journey across Turkey in the winter 
of 1858, starting from Belgrade and following the stream 
of the Morava, which flows into the Danube at no great 
distance below that city, up to its head-waters, from 
whence he descended along the Vardar and its tributaries 
as far as Kiuprili. As long as the idea prevailed that a 
line of lofty mountains ran across Turkey from west to 
east between the head-waters of those rivers, such a pro- 
ject presented considerable difficulties ; these, however, 
have now disappeared, since he has shown from careful 
examination of the country, not only that no such barrier 
exists, but even that the tributaries of these two rivers 
rise together in an elevated plain at the inconsiderable 
height (according to his measurement) of 1 328 (French) 
feet above the sea. The line thus traversed is nearly 
direct, and the country itself such as would repay opening 
up, as it is one of the most favoured districts in Europe. 
With regard to the further circumstances to be con- 
sidered, the following remarks may be added in the 
writer's own words : — "A railway from Belgrade to Salo- 
nica, following the line which we have traversed, would 
not have to scale a single height, as it would run along 
the bed of rivers free from cataracts, and the only water- 
shed which it would have to cross lies in a level depres- 
sion. Consequently the only difficulties in the way of 
this railway consist in the river gorges that the line has 
to pass through, of which the Morava presents two, 
namely, those of Stalatsch and Masuritza, the Vardar 

2 C 2 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

388 The Vardar Valley. Chap. XVII. 

three. The total extent of all these gorges, so far as 
it was in our power approximately to estimate them, 
amounts to \^\ hours, consequently one-ninth of the 
entire length of the line, which we computed at 156 
hours. At the same time we consider ourselves justified 
in the supposition that a scientific investigation would 
result in showing that at least two of these gorges might 
be turned." 

The difficulties in the way of such a project being thus 
proved to be inconsiderable, it remains to show the points 
in which this route to India would be superior to any 
\ other. In the first place, the Bay of Salonica is one of 
the finest harbours in the whole of the Mediterranean ; 
and, in addition to this, it is certainly nearer to Alexan- 
dria than any of the ports through which the traffic with 
Western Europe is carried on. Thus, while Trieste is 
distant 1200 miles, Genoa 1300 miles, and Marseilles 
1380 miles from Alexandria, the distance from that place 
to Salonica is only 670 miles. ^* And if, looking to the 
future, it be considered superfluous to take into account 
the routes by those places as lines to India, since the 
Italian route is certain ultimately to supersede them ; 
comparing this with our proposed line, it will be found 
that the sea-passage from Alexandria to Otranto is more 
than 100 miles the longer of the two, being 786 miles ; 
besides which there is always the possibility of the Salo- 
nica line being extended further south to Porto Rafti, at 
the extremity of Attica, from whence the distance is 
much shorter. The journey from Vienna to Salonica, 
supposing this railway to be made, is estimated at 600 
miles : that from London to Vienna by Cologne is 1133, 

'^i " Hahn, * Reise von Bclgrad nach Salonik,' p. 3. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. XVI I. Migrations of Labourers, 389 

but this number will be considerably reduced when the 
line of communication between those places is less cir- 
cuitous. This makes a total of 1733 between London 
and Salonica. The distance from London to Otranto is 
about 1550 miles, and this gives the Italian line a certain 
advantage in respect of the land transit : but we must 
always take into consideration the superiority of land 
conveyance to that by sea, in respect both of speed and 
safety, and the consequent advantage of the line which 
has the shortest sea-passage. Again, in case of the Eu- 
phrates line of railway being opened, together with one 
from Belgrade to Constantinople, the latter would follow 
the same course with the one now proposed as far as 
Nitzch, which is one-third of the way to Salonica, while 
the rest of the Salonica line would be amply employed 
with the traffic from Smyrna and the Levant generally. 
In this way, though we may not share the expectation of 
the enthusiastic Austrian, that Vienna is destined, from 
its central position in Europe, to become the chief city of 
our hemisphere, yet there seems good reason for regard- 
ing his suggestion cis feasible, and capable of being turned 
to good account."* 

Let me now put together a few notes on one or two 
general points to which my attention was turned during 
this journey, and about some of which I obtained addi- 
tional information from Mr. Wilkinson, the English 
consul at Salonica, a man unusually well-informed about 
the geography and ethnography of Turkey. One sub- 
ject of considerable interest, about which I had made 
inquiries, is the migrations of large numbers of various 
races in search of employment. By these I mean not 

" See Hahn, * Reise von Belgrad nach Salonik,' Introduction, and pp. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

390 Ttu Vardar Valley. Chap. XVII. 

persons like the inhabitants of Zitza, who, as has been 
mentioned, leave their homes to establish themselves at 
a distance as innkeepers, in the same way as Scotch 
gardeners come to England ; nor yet the thoroughly 
nomad tribes, like the Black Wallachs, who change their 
quarters according to the season of the year and oppor- 
tunities of finding pasturage ; nor even bodies of men, 
such as some among the Montenegrins, who go abroad 
for a period of years to earn a livelihood by employment 
on public works, or in any other way that presents 
itself: but such as, exercising a regular trade, annually 
migrate with a view of obtaining occupation, and return 
to their homes at a fixed season. We have already 
mentioned the inhabitants of the Dibra, the district 
about the valley of the Black Drin, as being the most 
famous carpenters and woodcutters in Turkey ; a great 
number of this tribe of Albanians emigrate for the 
greater part of the year, partly to cut wood in the moun- 
tains, and partly to exercise their trade as carpenters ; 
many of them pass by Salonica, and even travel as far as 
Asia Minor, but they always return home for the 
summer, where they arrive not later than the month 
of May. Similarly the Bulgarians, who are the fore- 
most among the agricultural races, in the harvest season 
wander to distant parts of Turkey, where they are 
employed as reapers, as the Irish are in England. The 
Wallachians, also, who inhabit the western side of Mount 
Olympus, sometimes quite desert their villages, so that 
only women and children are to be found there ; they 
are mostly charcoal and lime burners. Again, Hahn 
describes the existence of bands of wandering masons 
among the Albanians, and compares them to their 
possible ancestors the Pelasgi, who were employed to 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. XVI L The Commercial Treaty. 391 

construct some of the great works at Athens, and to 
whose handiwork are to be referred most of the ancient 
massive walls of Greecbe and Italy.** The employment 
of particular tribes in special crafts, and the amount of 
movement and communication throughout the country 
which these facts imply, afford us a curious insight into 
the social state of the interior of Turkey. 

Another point of considerable interest was the effect 
on the country of the commercial treaty with England." 
That the system of free trade is hateful to the Turks is 
evident enough, for they frustrate it wherever they have 
an opportunity ; and this can be done consistently with 
much outward show of good-will towards it, for it is 
known that when the Turkish official receives his general 
order, he receives along with it his own private letter of 
instructions, the tenor of which is often very different, if 
not directly opposed to it. On the other hand there 
can be no doubt that English manufactures have found 
their way in enormous quantities into the markets of 
Turkey — with great advantage, of course, to the trade 
of this country— while in some parts of Turkey a marked 
development has taken place from the increased exports 
to England. The country in the neighbourhood of 
Seres, in the lower valley of the Strymon, to the north- 
east of Salonica, is a striking instance of this. Until 
lately the inhabitants of that district were excessively 
poor, but since the growth of cotton has been attempted 
there and found to succeed admirably, as it has also in 
the plain of Salonica, a season of great prosperity has 
set in, which has been checked, but not destroyed, by 

>• Hahn, * Reise,' p. 43. 

'7 The text of this will be found in Appendix IV, to Farley's * Turkey,* 
pp. 325, foil. 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

392 ^ The Vardar Valley. Chap. XVII. 

the discouragement arising from the sudden end of the 
. American war. Under these circumstances it might 
seem that the treaty operated beneficially, by encou- 
raging the people of Turkey in this and in other 
branches of trade to employ themselves in providing us 
with the raw material, while in return they receive from 
us the manufactured article. But I believe the very 
contrary of this to have been the case ; and I have 
generally found that English consuls, though naturally 
disposed to support the view that was most advan- 
tageous to England, are free to admit that it has seriously 
damaged the country by the blow it has inflicted on 
native industry. To take one instance : the Wallachs of 
Vlakho-Livadi, in the district west of Olympus, used to 
be great manufacturers of skutia, coarse woollen cloths 
of which capotes and cloaks are made ; but of late 
years, owing to the influx of English goods, their occu- 
pation has greatly declined. Now if this effect were 
confined to a few particular cases or limited branches 
of trade, it would not be worth considering, as being a 
period of change which the country must sooner or later 
pass through. But this is not so ; and whatever exagge- 
ration may have been made by foreign writers when 
speaking of this subject, there can be no doubt that the 
ruin has been widely spread throughout the whole of 
Turkey. In a matter of this sort it should especially be 
remembered, that by destroying these branches of native 
industry we are most injuriously retarding the deve- 
lopment of the people, independently of all questions of 
material prosperity : for in the early stages of a nation's 
progress towards civilization, the arts, however simple 
they may be, are amongst the most important instru- 
ments of its education ; and to divert it from these to the 

Digitized by VjjOOQIC 

Chap. XVII. The Eastern Qtiestion, 393 

production of raw material is to degrade it and check its 
natural growth. 

One other subject which arrests the traveller's atten- 
tion in passing through this part of Turkey, and is of 
great importance as bearing on the future destiny of the 
country, is the mutual relations of the Christian races 
within it, and their capacity for union and common 
action. Speculation on the future of Turkey must 
necessarily be vague, as the fairest theories may be 
overthrown by an aggressive war, or premature insur- 
rection, or self-seeking policy on the part of European 
nations ; but it is not, therefore, useless to consider what 
combinations are possible, and what circumstances will 
be most favourable to a satisfactory settlement of the 
Eastern question. Now the Montenegrins and other 
Slavonic races profess themselves willing to accept 
permanently the suzerainty of the Porte, provided that 
they and the other nationalities should be allowed to be 
organized and to have freedom of action in accordance 
with their respective institutions. These conditions, or 
less than these, would satisfy the Bulgarians, whose 
aspirations are as yet too feeble for them to desire more 
than freedom from oppression ; at present they, or at 
least those of them who live near Salonica, from tradi- 
tional associations still look to Russia cis their protector, 
and know nothing of the Serbs, or of any Slavonic 
movement in Turkey by which their condition may be 
ameliorated. As to the Greeks, it would have been far 
better for Turkey if the frontier of the kingdom of 
Greece, instead of being drawn along a line south of 
Thessaly, had included that country and all the part 
of Albania within the same latitude, since by that means 
nearly all the Greeks and hellenized Albanians would 

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394 The Vardar Valley. Chap. XVII. 

have been excluded from the dominions of the Sultan ; 
cLS it is, from their tendency to insurrection and continual 
aspirations after union with their independent brethren, 
they are a permanent source of weakness : but anyhow, 
in case of an organization of races under the Porte, they 
could never effectually oppose what was acquiesced in 
by the other Christians. What then is the obstacle 
in the way of the realization of some such scheme ? It 
is clear that the present state of things cannot last for 
ever : even supposing that the scandals of Turkish 
brutality and maladministration were to cease, yet, as it 
is certainly known that the Turkish race is rapidly 
decreasing, the numerical inequality between the domi- 
nant and subject races, which is now sufficiently striking, 
will ultimately become so flagrant as to call for inter- 
ference. Why, then, cannot some compromise of this 
sort be effected t The answer is, the Turks themselves 
are the obstacle. Except as a dominant race they never 
have existed, and never will exist, in the country. Their 
political system, based as it is on the Koran, prevents 
them ; and the whole spirit of the people, their pride, 
their intolerance, their fanatical hatred of change, is 
completely alien to such an idea. They may be forced 
into a condition of equality by governors from another 
race being set over them, but agree to it of their own 
accord they never will. 

Putting aside then this solution of the difficulty, let us 
see what other combinations suggest themselves. And 
first, supposing the dominion of the Turks to come to an 
end, what prospect is there of its place being taken by 
an united Christian empire, containing within it the 
present Greek kingdom ? 

It must be everybody's wish that a strong power 

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Chap. XVII. Greek and Slavonic Races, 395 

should be established in the south-east of Europe. Its 
strength would be the guarantee of its permanence, and 
its security against foreign aggression. But such a 
power can be formed only by the union and combined 
action of the two great Christian races in Turkey, the 
Greek and the Slavonic. The question then resolves 
itself into this — how far can these bodies sympathize and 
act together ? Independently of politics, great advan- 
tages would result from their forming one nation. As 
M. Cyprien Robert is never tired of pointing out, the 
tendency of the Slavonians, but more especially of the Bul- 
garians, is naturally towards agriculture, while the Greek 
race is essentially commercial, and disposed towards 
business and city life ; the one seems intended to be the 
complement of the other : " if these two rival tendencies," 
he says, " could combine harmoniously and act inde- 
pendently, they would suffice to regenerate the East." ^® 
I long hoped and believed that this was possible, and 
even now I could almost conceive that it might be, if a 
great man were to arise for the work at the time of need, 
combining in himself extensive political views, unselfish 
aims, and a strong hand in administration — a man like 
Leopold of Belgium, though somewhat superior in every 
way. But such a contingency is too improbable to enter 
into our calculation, and without a Deus ex machind I 
do not think the problem can be solved. The Bulgarians, 
indeed, if left to themselves, might for a time submit to 
be governed by the Greeks ; though destitute of all 
sympathy with them, and thoroughly opposed to them 
in character and feeling, they are profoundly impressed, 
the educated, as well as the uneducated, among them, 

" * Les Slaves de Turquie,* il 23a 

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396 The Vardar Valley. Chap. XVII. 

with their intellectual superiority ; ' but their recent 
movement in favour of ecclesiastical independence shows 
that they will not suffer themselves ultimately to be 
domineered over ; and, what is more important still, 
they are not the only element to be considered on their 
side of the question. Behind them lie the Serbs, the 
Bosniacs, the Montenegrins, and other Slavonic races, 
endued with an unyielding temperament and strong 
national feeling, in common with whom they are certain 
to act when the time comes ; and between these and the 
Greeks the contrast of character seems too great for 
community of action to be possible. The one are slow- 
moving, doggedly determined, fierce in action, and inde- 
pendent to the last degree; the others quick, subtle, 
impulsive, over-reaching, and " too clever by half" 
When once a conflict of interests arose, or a struggle for 
influence, the difference between them would be irre- 
concilable. Now when we consider that the territorial 
line of demarcation between the two races, as well as the 
distinction of character, is very strongly marked — Greek 
communities being comparatively rare northward of 
Mount Olympus and its parallel, and unmixed Slavonic 
blood being uncommon south of that line — the most 
probable course which things will take in Turkey, if left 
to themselves, seems to be the division of the peninsula 
south of the Danube between these peoples, the northern 
and larger half becoming a Slavonic nation, while 
Thessaly and Epirus will be united to the kingdom of 
Greece. If this should happen, Constantinople would 
almost certainly be made a free port — as the Slaves have 
no desire to possess it — and it is too important a position 
to be lefl in the hands of any one people. The ports of 
this south Slavonic state would then be Belgrade on the 

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Chap. XVII. Future Prospects of Turkey. 397 

Danube, Salonica on the iEgean, and Ragusa or Anti- 
vari on the Adriatic. As the capital should enjoy a 
central situation, and for the sake of safety should be 
removed from the frontiers, historical associations as well 
as advantageous position would seem to point either to 
Sophia, the ancient Sardica, or to Nitzch, the former 
capital of Servia. 



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