ALBANIA

Tht FOUNDLING STATE
OF EUROPE

WADHAM PEAGOCK

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ALBANIA
THE FOUNDLING STATE OF EUROPE

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ALBANIA
THE FOUNDLING STATE OF EUROPE

WADHAM PEACOCK
FORMERLY PRIVATE SECRETARY TO H.B.M. CHARGE D'AFFAIRES IN MONTENEGRO
AND C0N6UL-GEN£RAL IN NORTH ALBANIA

WITH NUMEROUS ILLUSTRATIONS

D.

NEW YORK
APPLETON & COMPANY
MCMXIV

701

S5P3

CONTENTS
PA OB
I,

II.

III.

IV.

V.
VI.
VII.

VIII.

IX.

X.
XI.
XII.

In Europe and yet not of it

1

The Gate of North Albania
ScoDRA the
Covets

Albanian

City

.

.

which

.

.

.

9

Montenegro
34

Kavasses and Servants

52

The Boulevard Diplomatique

62

The Vali Pasha and

75

his Staff

The Roman Catholics of Scodra

The Commodore and

his

....

Fleet

83
92

The Malissori Chief

104

Albanian Blood-Feuds

114

In the Albanian Mountains

130

A

142

Night

in

Ramazan

XIII.

An Albanian Wedding

153

XIV.

The Story of Albania

176

XV.

XVI.
XVII.

Cutting Out the

New Kingdom

....

The Future of Albania

The Albanian Roman Catholic Church

204

224
.

.

234

This
is

book deals uith a jyhase in the history of Albania, ivhich

j^assing aicay.

The neiv King has arrived at his neio
European ruler has replaced the Turkish

and the
But the soid of the Shkypetar people remains the
same, and the Albania of to-morrow ivill be the Albania of
hi the Near
yesterday with only a superficial variation,
East things, when they change, change sloioly, and the
transition from the Middle Ages to the Ticentieth Century
will not be accomplished by a stroke of the pen because
capital,

Pasha.

Europe has at last recognised its foundling State.
Some of the chapters have appeared in " The Fortnightly
Revieiv," " Chambers' Journal " and other periodicals, to
I have also
whose editors I make my acknotvledgments,
to thank Lady Donegall, Mrs. Gordon and Mr. R. Caton
Woodville for leave to use some of the photographs here
reproduced.

WADHAM
L(mdon, March, 1914.

PEACOCK.

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
TO FACr, PAGE

ScoDRA.

The Castle and Mount Tarabosu

.

AcHMBT Pasha's Bridge, Tabaki and the Castle
Ancient Bridge at

I\Iesi

.

Frontispiece

...

....

over the Kiri

An Unmarried Roman Catholic Girl
Village Matron from Vraka

A Mahometan Agha
A Mahometan Woman

.

32
32
40

...

.

.

.

.40
44

Indoors

44

Old House, formerly the British Consulate-General

The Public Garden of Hussein Husni Pasha
The Eoad to the Bazaar by the Konak

.

.

...
.

.

64
64

.98

The Bazaar with the Exit of the Boiana from the Lake

98

Gipsies near Lake Scodra

100

Montenegrins near Lake Scodra

100

Nik Leka.
PuLATi.

An Albanun Mountain Chief

Married and Unmarried Women

Malissori Fishermen near Lake Scodra
Malissori Farmers going to the Bazaar

....
....
....
....

Albanian Alphabets adapted from Greek and Turkish

The New Testament

A Group

in

Greek and Albanian

of Albanian Mountaineers

.

.

....

104
104
134
134

.

198

.

210
228

ALBANIA
EUROPE AND YET NOT OF

IN

IT

With

the beginning of 1913

awoke

to find herself

reader

became aware that there was such

in

famous

;

Albania suddenly
for the

newspaper
a district

Europe, in that mysterious Balkan peninsular

occupied by

Servians

Bulgarians,

some independent,

and

Greeks,

and some crushed under the
Albanians,

heel of the wicked Turk.

it

is

true,

had been heard of even by those who were not
experts in Near Eastern matters, but they were considered as
Christians,

Turks of a
and

it

sort

and

as oppressors of the

was something of a surprise to

most people when the action of Austria and Italy
forced the Western
selfish action it may be

Europeans to recognize that the Albanians are not
Turks, but the oldest of European races, and that
a very large proportion

Roman

of

them belong

to the

Catholic and Orthodox Churches.

When

made

into an

Austria insisted on Albania being

independent state on the

fines of Greece, Bulgaria,

B

ALBANIA

2

Servia and JMontenegro, the towns, rocks and plains

of Albania began to emerge from the mediaeval darkness in which they had been for so long enveloped,
a darkness so intense that even

Gibbon could write

of the Albanians as a " vagrant tribe of shepherds

and robbers," without any hint of who and what
they really are. Now this ancient nation is to be
given

its

place

Europe alongside the more

in

modern Slavs who dispossessed it of the best part
of its inheritance before the Turk was heard of in
the Balkans, and who last year would gladly have
swallowed up the scanty plains and
tains in

which

it

for nearly fifteen

sterile

moun-

has eked out a warlike existence

hundred

years.

During the past

quarter of a century Albania, being in Europe and
yet not of

it,

has hardly been touched by travellers,

who have gone

further afield to Asia and Africa,

but have passed by

the

eastern

shores of the

The Consuls at Scutari and Prisrend
were withdrawn when the country ceased to be

Adriatic.

of active interest to the European Chancelleries,

and the few Europeans who did penetrate to the
mountainous regions of North Albania paid more
attention to the picturesque court of Cettigne than
to

the

barren

rocks and grim

villages

of

the

Shkypetars.

For those who have, or who had,
country, Albania

is

to live in the

one of the few places

still left

IN
in

EUROPE AND YET NOT OF

Europe where

man may

a

IT

3

Rail-

feel in exile.

ways, steamers and telegraph lines have brought

most parts of Europe within easy reach of the
There

tourist.

an English society of one sort or

is

another in most foreign towns

no society there

for a concession,

financing a railway.

absolutely in exile

language spoken

A

man

does not feel himself

by

occasionally

properly be called

some one

or

when he can hear

but in Scutari

visitors,

is

a British merchant or two, or

is

some one trying

and where there

;

— or

his

own

residents

Scodra, as

—we so seldom saw a

it

or

should

traveller's

face, or heard any English voices but our own,

that

we might

fairly consider ourselves in exile.

Not only was the

place so difficult of access that

was almost impossible to reach

it

it

in less than eight

or ten days on an average, but the post, that great
solace of the exile,

was extremely

irregular.

Letters

came quickly enough as far as Trieste, but there
they were put on board an Austrian Lloyd steamer
and spent nearly a week dawdling down the
Adriatic till they reached San Giovanni di INledua,
which is one of the worst ports in what used to be
European Turkey, and that
Scodra

is

is

saying a great deal.

about twenty miles from the sea-coast,

and each consulate possessed a postman who took
it

in his

turn to ride

down

to the port to

steamer and to bring back the mails.

meet the

When

the

ALBANIA

4

weather was bad the boats did not touch at JNledua,

and the postman had the pleasure of seeing the

Lloyd go by to Corfu, and of spending the time at
fever-stricken IVIedua

somehow

other

or

Sometimes there was quite a

return.

postmen who had Iianded over

till

its

collection of

their mailbags to

the Lloyd agent and were waiting to receive the

post

when the steamer

the

gale

difficulties

moderate

to

But supposing

did touch.

sufficiently

for

of the postman were not

this the

over.

We

always talked of the " road " to INIedua, but only

by courtesy,

for, strictly

speaking, there was not

even a track for the greater part of the way.
In the

summer

it

was

all

plain sailing

;

the boats

touched with commendable regularity, the river

Drin was low, and the postman ambled along the
level

banks or occasionally
stream.

the

different thing

But
;

in the

in the dried-up

winter

the Drin has

in

the rainy season, carves

itself

now and then

no respect

experienced postman.
official

out

which

was a very

it

banks, and, not content with flooding

bed of

all

new

puzzle

for its

the plain

courses for

the

most

Sometimes the unfortunate

had to wade, sometimes he had to borrow

a londra, or canoe, and paddle across the river

and sometimes he got intercepted
the precious mails, for which

the impatience only

known

for a

;

week, and

we were longing with
to exiles,

had to be

EUROPE AND YET NOT OF

IN

stored in a

was

past.

5

damp hut waiting till the rush of waters
The postal officials, too, in Europe had

vague notions
plainly

IT

as to our whereabouts.

addressed "Albania" was

^V letter

once

sent

to

America, and returned from Albany, N.Y., with
the inscription, "

"

Try Europe

;

and a

parcel, after

having been despatched from England, was no more
heard of for months, until one fine day a Turkish

postman arrived with

it

safe

and sound.

It

had

been sent to Constantinople by a clerk who was
too sharp to pay attention to the

and

address,

thence carried across the peninsula by a zaptieh at

an enormous expense of time, trouble and money.

Such

little

misadventures as those made us welcome

very heartily

the solemn lace and long grizzled

moustaches of Gian, the postman, as he jogged up
the road from the bazaar with the mail-bags swing-

The

ing at his saddle-bow.

telegraph was even

more irregular, for even if it was not broken down
the Pasha was always telegraphing to ConstantiBut these things will
nople for instructions.
all

belong to yesterday when the

new

state

been constituted by Europe on the very
principles,

and so

before they fade

it is

well to put

away

has

latest

them on record

utterly into the benighted

past.

Scodra stands

hemmed

in

on

at

the edge

all sides

by

of a

wide plain

lofty mountains.

To

ALBANIA

6

the north-west the great lake of Scodra stretches

away into Montenegro,
by the mountains which
and separate

it

western bank shut in

its

rise directly

from

from the Adriatic

sea,

eastern bank a low fertile plain shut

by the mountains of the

its

and

in, in its

Malissori, or

shore

turn,

Roman

Nearly due north

Catholic Albanian tribes.

its

rises

the imposing mass of the Maranai mountain with

the remains of the ancient city of Drivasto at
feet,

through whose gorge issues the

rivulet in

Kiri, a

summer but a furious torrent in

Close under the Castle

hill lies

its

mere

the winter.

the city of Scodra,

looking like a grove pierced with slender minarets,

and with the weather-beaten
liouses

in

showing through the

red-tiled roofs of its
trees.

between the lake and the Castle

It

is

hill at

wedged

the south-

west corner of the plain, and squeezed in between
the Boiana and the rock

is

the bazaar, at once the

market and the clubland of the town.
river stands

the

Mount Tarabosh, whose modern

INIontenegrins

obstacle,

Across the

found

and then the

river

such

an

fort

impregnable

v^nds south-westwards

through the lowlands to Dulcigno and the

sea,

while to the south the broad plain of the Zadrima
to the low hills which shut in the

stretches

away

wretched

little

Away to

the north at

seaport of San Giovanni di

Medua.

some distance from the lake

and under the spurs of the Great Mountains,

lies

EUROPE AND YET NOT OF

IN

7

Tusi which was once the

fortress village of

the

IT

head-quarters of the Albanian League, and which

on became famous as the scene of the revolt

later

of the Albanian tribesmen against the Turks, and
for

capture by the Montenegrins on October

its

I4th, 1912.

There are three principal ways of reaching
Scodra from Europe

by steamer across the lake

:

by launch up the river Boiana
and by horse-back across the Zadrima from San
from Montenegro
Giovanni

most
fact

in

di

;

;

Of

Medua.

keeping with the

these the latter route
spirit

of the place, and in

was almost the only way of reaching the

until a

San Giovanni

few years ago.

is

di

city

Medua

is

not an imposing looking seaport as one approaches
it

from the

Soon

sea.

after passing the entrance

to the Boiana the steamer rounds a low headland,

and a long semi-circular sweep of flat sand comes
into view, backed

abrupt bluff to

by low

the

hills

which end in an

north and sink away into

swamps and marshes towards the

south.

Once

landed on the desolate and uninviting beach the
track follows the sandy shore of the Adriatic to

the

south,

strikes

inland

ground and, rounding the
crosses

last

some

marshy

spur of the

hill,

the river Drin to the village of Alessio

crouching
fortress.

across

under

From

its

ancient

and

half- ruined

Alessio the road, or rather track,

ALBANIA

8

runs by the side of the Drin, following

and windings

in the

most

irritating

its

curves

manner, and

never seeming to get any nearer to the distant

hills

behind which

runs

lies

the city of Scodra.

It

through the rich plain of the Zadrima, and varies
wdth the height of the river Drin and with the
state of the crops in the fields hard by.

several villages

which are

There are

on the route, the inhabitants of

fairly well to

do in spite of the miserable

look of their houses and the uncared for state of
the hedges

Medua,
through

and

Alessio,

But San Giovanni di
and the journey along the Drin
roads.

the valley of

chapter to themselves.

the

Zadrima, deserve a

II

THE GATE OF NORTH ALBANIA

We

in leisurely fashion

had been steaming

the Adriatic from Trieste, past

Zara,

down

Ragusa,

Cattaro and the other old-world towns along the

rocky shore, until one morning soon after sunrise
the screw of the ancient steamer ceased throbbing,

and the word was passed round that we had
reached San Giovanni di Medua. There was no
apparent reason

why

such a place, were

it

a steamer should touch at

not for the fact that the curve

of sandy shore formed the harbour of San Giovanni
di

Medua, and was the

principal entrance to

Albania from the Adriatic
People's

Some
if

ideas

North

sea.

of ports and

harbours

differ.

think of Dover, and some of Southampton,

they are untra veiled

further

afield,

of

;

or,

those

Bombay and

who have gone

Singapore.

But,

unless they have been round Africa or the coasts

of

some

Turkish

province,

imagine that San Giovanni
so

much

di

they

would never

Medua

noise in the world as

it

make
when the

could

did

ALBANIA

10

Montenegrins and the Servians
that they coveted

let

know

Eiu'ope

it.

The steamer came

to an anchor out of the

of the sandbank which

the only drawback, and a

is

slight one, to the better use of the harbour,

wind by the

sheltered from the north

slope

away north-west-by-north

Giovanni

di

Medua

way

hills

but

which

to Dulcigno.

San

a harbour at the head of a

is

wide bay formed by the estuaries of the river Drin,

who

but the traveller

expects

wharves, warehouses and
tages of

civilization,

range of

isolated

all

will

hills

docks,

or

piers,

the rest of the advan-

be disappointed.

An

which stretches from the

Boiana to the Drin at Alessio

is

the background to

the scene, and to the south low and marshy land

which might just
slopes

down

as well

be under the

sea, scarcely

to the Adriatic shallows of the bay.

In a nick of the

hills

to the north, just above the

harbour, were a few cottages, one of which was
dignified

by the name of the

residence,

and another was known as the khan, or

hotel.

soldiers

Lloyd Agent's

These, with the barracks of the Turkish

and a few tents near the water's edge,

made up

this

seaport which

into a tolerable harbour

if it

might be turned
were

in

European

hands.

The docks and the wharves and
stages were represented

the landing

by a long heap of stones

THE GATE OF NORTH ALBANIA
stretching out into the sea, and a pier
necessity, for the sea

is

is

11

an absolute

so shallow that passengers

have to be landed in small boats, and could they
not scramble out on to this rickety heap of stones
they would have to wade ashore. The small boats

which take the passengers from the steamer to the
pier were manned by boatmen whose appearance

was that of brigands, and whose looks and gestuVes
were those of all the ruffians of history and legend
put together.
fitting

clothes

black

on

;

These
of

men were

white

felt

their heads they

dressed in tight-

embroidered with

wore white

felt caps, in

bound round with a sort of turban of
on their shoulders some of
dirty white cotton
them wore a black sheepskin, and on their feet
they wore raw hide sandals tied with leather straps.
In their belts were arsenals of weapons, pistols and

some

cases

;

long knives, and with eyes flashing and moustaches
bristling they

argued at the top of their voices in

guttural Albanian over the passengers, and seemed

within an ace of coming

to

blows

with their

primitive oars, or of drawing the vicious-looking

The timid and

knives and blades from their belts.

unaccustomed

travellers

might be excused

for hesi-

tating to entrust themselves to such theatrical-

looking

brigands,

evidently looked on

and

occasionally

but

the officers of the ship

them

as quite

addressed

normal persons,

them

with

polite

ALBANIA

12

authority in Italian, which most of the boatmen

moments

could speak in

of calm.

But for all their savage appearance and quarrelsome manners the boatmen of San Giovanni di
JNIedua were fine, honest fellows, some of them
from the mountains
of

of Mirditia to the south-east

the port, and others of the Skreli tribe of

IMalissori

from the Great Mountains east of the

lake.

At

last

sorted

the passengers and their baggage were

out into the

suddenly

boats,

different

and

silence

on the furious group, only broken

fell

now and then by an encouraging shout or grunt as
the men raced for the long, low heap of stones
which formed our introduction to Turkish

As we happened

to have

soil.

H.B.M. Consul with us

any Custom House nuisance that may usually be
no

one

ventured to lay a hand on the sacred baggage

oi to

was

enforced

course

of

ignored,

and

say a word to the fierce looking kavass

taken charge of

There
for the

is

it

when

now

worse

will

and Turkish

infinitely

In Turkey the Consular

sufficiently,

his kavasses,

be

that semi- civilized kingdoms

of a Great Power, and of a

he could bluff

and

reached the shore.

one change which

have replaced the Turk.
official

it

who had

little

one

if

was a sacred person,

though natives of the country

subjects, shared

in

his

glory.

An

THE GATE OF NORTH ALBANIA

13

He

Albanian kavass was a splendid dignitary.

most lordly

treated the Turkish soldiers with the

and they were

disdain,

his

humble

His

servants.

gorgeous, gold-embroidered clothes, his weapons,
his

moustaches

bristling

and

his

of

air

fierce

command imposed on every one, even on the
Turkish officers who had been any time in Albania
and had not had a Frankish education.

But
states

all this

will

is

passing away, and the Balkan

prove

their

equality with Europeans

new independence and
by treating Consuls

quite ordinary folk in the lands where for

years past they have been

kings.

little

as

many

Austria

was very long-suffering with Servia over the treatment of Herr Prochaska, the Austro-Hungarian

Had

Consul at Prisrend.

troops acted in the same

Turkish

officers

way and dared

and

to oppose

Europe would have been in
a blaze of indignation, telegrams would have been
flying all over the Continent, the Ambassadors
a Consul, the whole of

would have bullied the Sultan and the Porte out
of their

lives,

Pashas would have been disgraced

and generals cashiered
officers did

for half of

what the Servian

unrebuked, and the Turks would once

more have been taught that even a VaXi Pasha
as

is

nothing by the side of a Consul.

But Europe
things

slip

in

is

letting

that

happy

state

of

the former provinces of Turkey.

ALBANIA

14

The

Consuls, instead of being the great

men,

will

be nothing more than undistinguished foreigners

whose word counts

as

nothing,

expected to order themselves
to

the

change

will

no means

Not

new

of the

officials

and who are

civilly

and humbly

The
some years by

dispensation.

be a sad one, and for

for the better.

that the

Customs were ever very pressing

in such out-of-the-way corners of

Turkey, for a

expenditure of baksheesh always

judicious

alle-

viated the rigours of the strict letter of the law.

The major

in charge of the

Giovanni di
his

Medua

vision of special

ragged soldiers at San

sighed

gently,

for

he saw

baksheesh for those

many

packages disappear before the royal arms on the
kavass' fez, but with the exquisite courtesy of his

race he invited us to

sit

on the rough divan which

served as the resting-place so dear to the Turkish
soul, outside his weather-stained tent.

was a

strip

His shelter

of coarse sail-cloth stretched

from

branch to branch of a consumptive tree to keep
off the sun,

and beneath

switches wattled

it

was a divan made of

together and

covered

with a

tattered carpet.

We

saluted the major and his lieutenant,

stood ceremoniously

then with

many

until

we were

seated

who
and

salaams placed themselves on the

edge of the packing cases which served them as

THE GATE OF NORTH ALBANIA

This was out of politeness, for there

extra chairs.

was a lady

15

our party, and the Turk considers

in

that leaning back in a chair, or crossing the legs,
is

exceedingly

So the major and

ill-bred.

his

lieutenant sat on the edge of their packing cases,

and the more

polite they were, the

edge did they
not slipping

sit,

as far as

nearer the

was compatible with

off.

When we

were seated the major clapped

his

hands, and a depressed-looking warrior, in a faded
bluish-green

uniform,

appeared

stealthily

from

behind the tent and offered us cigarettes with

hand pressed to

his

by an equally sad-looking
coal

He

his heart.

was followed

soldier with a

from a mangaU or open charcoal

we

a small pair of tongs, with which
cigarettes

;

and

finally,

glowing

brazier, in

lighted our

announced by the grateful

smell of boiling coffee, the kafedji appeared with

steaming

cups of coffee

on a

tray,

which he

handed to us with the same sadness and ceremony.

The cups were

cracked, the zaifi the

commonest

produce of the bazaar, and the tray battered, but
the coffee was excellent, and, with the ingrained
courtesy and hospitality of the Turk, the major

and

his

detachment had placed

all

they possessed

at our disposal.

We
coffee,

smoked the

cigarettes

and

sipped the

and then, the claims of etiquette being

ALBANIA

16

we

satisfied,

entered into conversation with our

That

hosts.

is

to

the

say,

heutenant conversed, for the young

like a native,

Turkish,

officer

whereas the major spoke nothing

and

had

and

smiles,

no

We

European language.
signs

the

was

and the Consul spoke that language

an Arab

but

and

Consul

smattering
did

the

while

our

best

Consul

any

of

with

and

the

lieutenant were deep in the state of the roads

over which
Scutari,

or

we

should have to travel to reach

Scodra

as

should be called, the

it

state of the country, the food supply

but

especially

the

state

and so on,

of the roads, for the

wandering Drin, whose course we were to follow
across the wide plain of the Zadrima, meanders

where

it

Dervish
to get

will,

and the boasted road of Ghazi

Pasha, which would have

from the sea to Scodra

enabled

in less than

us

two

hours, has never been made.

was through the medium of the lieutenant
The major
that we got at the soul of the major.
It

spoke in Turkish to the heutenant, the lieutenant
translated into Arabic for the Consul, and the

Consul summarized the conversation in EngUsh
for the benefit of the rest of us who had no

knowledge beyond the tongues of Europe.
"

My

said the

tent

is

at

their excellencies' disposal,"

major to the lieutenant, but embracing

THE GATE OF NORTH ALBANIA
us

that

" It

with his sad eyes.

all

misfortune

nothing to offer more worthy of

have

I

my

is

17

acceptance."
"

The Bimbashi has done wonders," said the
Consul, who knew San Giovanni di Medua and
" With a divan in the
the fever which haunts it.
what can a man

shade, and coffee and cigarettes,
"

wish for more

?

The Bimbashi smiled
" I

said,

place
least

only spend the

day

this

in

accursed

pass the night at Alessio, and there at

I

;

" Happily," he

sadly.

one can

sleep.

I

their excellencies here,

regret that

but

it is

must

I

receive

the will of God."

was evident that the epithets which the

It

Bimbashi applied to San Giovanni

di

Medua

did

not penetrate further than the Consul, but whatever

they

deserved.

might

have

been

were

they

well

AVith a sigh the

Bimbashi dismissed

Medua and

turned to pleasanter

San Giovanni

di

themes.
"

When

I

was

in Syria,"

he

some English lords who went there
They worked very hard at it,"
Bimbashi,

who had

which consists
at

the

least

" I

said,

knew

for shooting.

added

the

the primitive idea of sport

in filling the

bag

expenditure of

as

soon as possible,

time,

trouble and

ammunition, and hurrying home with

it

cook.

c

to the

ALBANIA

18
" I

was

Damascus,"

in Syria, too, at

said the

Consul, brightening up, but avoiding the subject
of sport as opposed to shooting for the pot.

"And
Bimbashi

most

the

interjected

fully,"

speaks Arabic wonder-

his excellency

deprecatingly,

smiled

only

Turks

lieutenant.

had

he

never

troubled

But

the

for

like

learn

to

the language of any of the other races of the

Ottoman Empire.
Foiled in this direction, the Consul thought
of starting on the long and wearisome journey.

"The Bimbashi
trespass

excuse

will

any further on

us

if

we do not

his delightful hospitality,

but, as he knows, the road to Scodra

is

we must reach the city before aksham."
The Bimbashi knew this, but again he
his

sad smile.

himself,"

"

he said

Let
;

his excellency

" the

day

is

and

long,

smiled

not disturb

long and,

who

knows, the ambulance waggon which the Pasha
has sent for her excellency

may

soon be here."

In consideration of the Consul's harem, as the
natives put it, being of the party, the Turkish

had placed an ambulance waggon at
our disposal, but so far there had been no signs of
no
the conveyance. However, no one worried

authorities

;

Bahahim

one hurried.
in

due time,

Doubtless

it

if

God

wills

was too

The

!
;

if

late to

carriage will arrive

not,

what can we do ?

do anything but wait,

THE GATE OF NORTH ALBANIA

19

but the Western mind could not help remembering
that

road

the

if

finished, not

the

across

plain

had

been

only would the ambulance waggon

have reached Medua before that, but we ourselves
should have been in

it

and half-way to Scodra.

There are two parts of Dervish Pasha's road
constructed so

far,

and, as

is

usual in that part of

the world, they are the two parts which are of the

The

least use.

starting-point

of the bridge of

is

Achmet Pasha

at the south
at Scodra,

end

and

it

runs for a mile or two to the village of Bltoja,

where

it

incontinently stops, curiously enough, at

the very spot where the Drin begins to

make the

passage of the Zadrima plain shifty and difficult
in all but the driest weather.

Barbelushi

supreme

hills

utility

from days of

From

Bltoja to the

a raised causeway would be of

and would save the

isolation

by road

spite of occasional spurts of

city of

in the winter,

when

the foot of the

the road
hills

but in

energy the Turkish

authorities have studiously ignored the

Drin, and

Scodra

untamed

picked up again

it is

at

opposite Alessio, whence

it

is

runs with ostentatious superfluity to the dejected
seaport of San Giovanni di JNledua.

But Scodra was eight hours' hard riding from
San Giovanni di Medua, and the ambulance
waggon might take still longer to do the journey,
even supposing that

it

had not got stuck

in a

ALBANIA

20
bog-hole on the

way down,

we decided

so at last

to wait no longer, but to take advantage of the
horses of the kiradji

who was with

the Consular

postman, and start off for Alessio on the chance of

The postman was ready

meeting the waggon.

and

start

only waiting

for

us,

colleague had gone on, so with

much

French

his

as

to

shouting and

grunting our belongings were hoisted on to the

pack horses, and fastened with cords, one on each
side of the pack saddle and a little one on
the

'The patient beasts stood

top.

while

still

the operation was going on, though more than

once they seemed likely to be shaken off their
legs

by the energy of the postman, the

kir'adji

and

his assistants.

At

last

all

was ready, the

package was

last

rescued from the sand, and the procession started
off,

way mounted on

the postman leading the

quite

a respectable horse, for the animal shared in the
reflected glory of the Consulate.

kiradji

within

Next came the

shouting range of him, for

the

Albanians converse quite comfortably at a distance,

and

sitting

side-saddle

Albanian fashion.

on

his

animal

and

the

Then came the pack horses

with our belongings, fastened nose to
file,

in

lastly the kiradji s assistant

tail in

single

who urged on

the caravan with encouraging shouts which echoed
all

along the shore.

The

major, the lieutenant,

THE GATE OF XOUTH A URANIA
tlie soldiers,

21

the boatmen and ourselves, stood and

watched the starting of the procession with great

when

interest and,

were under way, we

all

said

good-bye to our courteous hosts and mounted our

own

horses.

Sad to

none of us took advantage of

relate,

the beginnings of the road under the

postman, the

wound along

and the

h'lradji

the

fine,

pack

horses

dry sand by the

seeming to think

do

so.

it

But the Pasha's road was not

men

his

we

natural that

all

and we

sea,

followed their example, the major and
all

The

hill.

should
entirely

neglected, for about half-way to Alessio the post-

man

suddenly struck inland to the

trended too

much

automatically,

The
and

road at the foot of the
final corner,

of the river
it

as the

bay

to the right, and there were also

marshes in the way.

him

left,

file

of horses followed

presently

hills,

and

we took

at last,

the

rounding a

saw Alessio before us on the other side
The little town which, though
Drin.

stands inland, has lately been dignified with the

name

of seaport,

lies

nestling under a

hill

which

is

the last offshoot of the Mirdite mountains into the
plain

the

of

Though

it

is

Zadrima.

right.

but a village crouching under an

ancient, ruined fortress,
ferable to

The major was

it is

San Giovanni

a thousand times pre-

di JNIedua.

Most of

its

houses are pretty and well built in the Scutarine

ALBANIA

22
style with gardens

surrounded by high walls and

of trees and flowers.

full

A

man

great

of the place, a

Roman

Catholic

farmer and merchant, was an old friend of the
Consul, and he

news.

came out

to

The ambulance was

passed San Stefni,

so, as it

welcome us with good
really

coming, and had

was nearly midday and

dinner was almost ready, the farmer insisted on

our being his guests until the arrival of our waggon.

Our

host was a stout, round-about

little

man

with

a face like a full moon, a stubby moustache and
scant hair sticking
his best,

He

up on end.

was dressed

in

which was a mixture of town and country,

probably to show that he was a merchant as well as
a

He wore

villager.

a Scutarine

and wider than a Turkish
heavy blue

silk

tassel.

fez,

fez,

which

same

stuff,

lower

and adorned with a

His waistcoat was

of

and

his

tails

of

crimson cloth embroidered with black
coat of the

is

with wide,

silk,

full

eighteenth century, Georgian cut, and with huge

pockets into which he perpetually stuck his hands.

His

baggy

bockered

knickerbockers,

the

which

Dutchmen, were

out-knickerof crimson

also

cloth embroidered with black silk, but instead of

the red cloth gaiters and shoes of the

Mahometan

townsman, which should properly have
his

get-up,

he wore the hideous

finished off

white

cotton

stockings and .Jemima boots which the Christian

THE GATE OF NORTH ALBANIA

23

As

the

townsmen have borrowed from Europe.

coping stone to his magnificence he had put on in
our honour a broad collar of native cotton lace,

which
if

fell

over his shoulders and

made him look

he had stepped out of an old picture.
The merchant-farmer was Albanian

bom

as

and

spoke the language as only a native can, but he
was obviously not of the true blood. Like many
of the Albanians of the border lands, he was of

mixed descent, but
neither Slav

in his case the

nor Greek, but

mixture was

probably

Italian.

However, he was a most cheery and hospitable
man, and

little

as

he spoke Italian with great

fluency he seemed like a European in fancy dress
the

after

hnguistic

of the

difficulties

Turkish

encampment.
His womenkind bustled and

dashed

chattering with excitement, for everything

be done

The

alia franca

and not

guests were actually to

chairs

round a

about,

was to

in the native fashion.
sit

uncomfortably on

table, instead of squatting comfort-

ably on a divan, and, wonder of wonders, were

going to use the queer knives and forks which
the master had brought back from Trieste and

was so clever that he knew how to use them.
Moreover, a white sheet had been spread upon the
table instead of the usual red-and-blue covering

of ceremonial occasions, and this

made aU the

ALBANIA

24
girls

more than

giggle

The

ever.

farmer's wife

and daughters and maid servants were not
firstly

veiled,

because they belonged to a village near the

and

mountains,

because

secondly

they

were

and only the Christian women of the
towns went veiled in order to conform to Turkish
custom. In the country they followed the Albanian
Christians,

fashion and did not cover their faces, though the
girls

a

blushed and turned away whenever they saw

Frank looking

heavy cloth

They were dressed in
bright brown bound with

at them.

skirts of a

red braid, and wore short jackets over their gauze
chemises.

The house stood on
looking down to the Drin.
from the bed of the

slope of

the
It

river,

was

and

walls and low, wide tiled roof

contrast to the thick green

surrounded

in

feast

on three

hill

built of stones

its

made

whitewashed
a delightful

of the trees which

The dwelling rooms were on the

it.

was

first floor, for it

and the

the

was

sides,

the sea and the

built in the Scutarine style,

laid in the

broad balcony, shut

and looking out over the
hills

along which

river to

we had

just

ridden.

The good

wife

was

superintending

in

the

kitchen with a daughter and a maid to help her,
while the rest were looking after the strange table

and

its

stranger appointments.

Every now and

THE GATE OF NORTH ALBANIA

25

then a suppressed giggle caine from them, but

gave way to a hushed awe as we

on the chairs without

We

could see the

the balcony

falling

girls,

all

it

took our seats

or upsetting them.

off*

both the two

who were

in

and those who were peeping round

the corners of the door, holding their breath for

should happen, and marvelling

fear an accident

how we
chairs,

feats

could contrive to keep our balance on the

and at the same time perform juggling

with the dangerous-looking forks which must

so complicate the use of the simple and

homely

knife.

The food
plentiful.

at our host's table

There

were

strange

was simple but
fish

fried,

and

mutton roasted and chicken roasted, stuffed egg
plants and salads of tomatoes and green stuff*, and
For drink there
cheese and fruit of several sorts.
was mild beer

in bottles and, better

still,

native

wine from the farmer's own vineyards, which was
very like Burgundy in character and on which the
old

man

prided himself not a

of the house

we did not

until dinner

was nearly

and joined us

little.

The

mistress

see after the first greetings
over,

in order to

and then she came

prove that she too knew

the world, but a suggestion that the daughters

should

come and

sit

down was

received

with

bashful consternation which ended in an abrupt
flight to

the women's quarters.

The

jovial father

ALBANIA

26

laughed loudly and explained that his daughters

were not yet

them

alia franca,

but that he meant to take

to Trieste next year to

world was really

like.

At

show them what the

this the

mother looked

who was

very dubious, but her husband,

a cheery

mortal, cried out that his wife thought they ought

not to go
after

what

till

they were married

;

but he knew that

they were married they would have to do

husbands told them.

their

His wife looked

wise, but said nothing.

"

Why,

you'd never believe

it,

Signor Console,"

father, " these merchants

went on the husband and
of Scodra go to Venice and Trieste, sometimes
every year, and hardly one of them has ever taken
his wife

with him

!

I've taken

my wife,"

he added

proudly.
"

Has

the Signora seen Venice

?

asked the

"

Consul.

good dame, who

was

rounder and fatter than her husband, but

who

" Si,"

murmured

the

nevertheless blushed like a girl at talking to a

Consul.
" Twice," asserted her husband, with his hands

deep in

his

coat

pockets,

and with an absurd

resemblance to a complacent turkey cock with a
blue

wattle.

"

Twice

to

husbands are not so good-natured as

when my daughters

But

Trieste.

are married

I

their

all

am, and
husbands

THE GATE OF NORTH ALBANIA

27

might not want to take them." He chuckled
wickedly to himself at some reminiscence of a
business visit to Trieste with merchants from
Scodra.

"

If they

No, no.

next year they

may

added, dropping

never go at
voice and

his

we

cautiously, " until

him

with

me

until,"

he

don't go

get

la

all,

glancing round
nostra indipen-

deiiza."

His

looked

wife

especially

scared,

as

the

lumbering of wheels outside told of the coming of
Our host got up and
the ambulance waggon.

examined the road, but as the waggon was at some
little distance he resumed his seat and went on
with his argument.
" Besides, girls

franca

marry

who know how

to dress alia

nowadays.

Remember

well

who married an Austrian."
mistress of the house made her record

Deragyati's daughter

Then the
" But the
speech.

other girls alia franca did not

marry," she burst out

;

"the men wouldn't have

They thought them
They were barbarians,"

them.
"

"

interrupted

her

husband, fearing what was coming, and [:bowing
to the lady of our party, " barbarians.
will learn,

and

His wife

I will

said

help to teach them."

nothing.

horrible suspicion that she

much.

But they

In fact she had a

had already

said too

ALBANIA

28

The Consul
"

hand.

A

and shook her warmly by the
your

thousand thanks for
Signora," he

hospitality,

pardon us

rose

if

we

said.

get ready, for

we must

has arrived, and

gracious

"

But you will
the ambulance

reach the city before

aks/ia?n."

In a moment
Consuls could not

The
and

soldiers
it

all

was bustle again, but even

command

expedition in Turkey.

had to be fed and the horses baited,

waggon
and we creaked and bumped across

was nearly an hour

was loaded up,

later before the

the river Drin and rattled slowly along the apology
for a road that ran

the Barbelushi

by the

hills.

side of the river

under

Luckily the river was low

and the ground dry, and when the

six horses

broke

into a spasmodic trot on the other side, the last

we saw

of our jovial host was a crimson figure

waving an enormous coloured handkerchief from
the balcony of his house.

In Europe, when a

man

speaks of a road he

means a more or less levelled surface, metalled
and convenient for motor, or at least for horse
traffic.
In Albania he means a track, or frequently
merely a direction, which he must adhere to in
Between
order to get from one place to another.
Alessio

and

Scodra the whole

Zadrima may be
easiest

line to

said

to

wide

plain

of

be the road, for the

be taken depends on the unruly

THE GATE OF NORTH ALBANIA
river

Drin and on the
near by.

fields

factor

state of the crops in the

This river

obstacle and not a

is

a

but hitherto

Albania,

in

29

highway of

very important
it

been an

has

traffic.

The Black, or South Drin, flows out of the
Lake of Ochrida in Middle Albaniji, and going
due north joins the White Drin, which rises in
the mountains above Ipek and waters Jacova and

Then the

Prisrend, just above the Vezir's bridge.

united torrents bound the territories of the IMirdites

on the north, and break through the moimtains
near the village of Jubany where Gian Castriot,
the father of Scanderbeg, had a castle, only the

now

ruins of which are
hill.

Formerly

all

the

visible

Drin ran south-west to

modern times

the sea at Alessio, but in
the river struck out a

on the top of the

new

part of

course to the north-

west and, joining the Kiri just south of Scodra,
ran into the Boiana under the bridge of

Achmet

Pasha.

The

old course of the Drin through the plain

of the Zadrima

is

not very formidable in

summer

when

the mountain snows have melted, but in

winter

it

flows

all

over the plain, and the villages,

which are mostly built on low
islands

plain

is

and the

in

hills,

the flood of waters.

stand out like

Sometimes the

impassable for weeks after hea

y rains,

villages can only

communicate with one

ALBANIA

30

another by londra, the high peaked canoe or boat

The

of the Albanians.
its

course,

and

villages

river

always altering

is

which not long ago were

within reach of the sea by boat are

one side by the stream which, in
ings, has
fertile

now

its erratic

left

on

wander-

caused heavy losses to the farmers of the

plain

fields into

and has turned many of

their best

swamps.

But meanwhile, until engineers are allowed
take the river in hand and rescue the plain from
eccentricities, travellers

to
its

have to follow the course

which the experience of the Consular postmen
shows them

is

the best.

Roughly speaking, the

road runs under a low range of

hills

separated

by a marsh from those above San Giovanni
Medua, to Barbelushi, the most important

di

village

of the plain, and thence to Bouschatti, the domain
of the ancient Albanian Pashas of Scodra, which
stands on a low

hill rising

like

an island out of

the plain.

At
it

both places the ambulance halted for

coffee,

being clearly the opinion of the escort, both

officers

and men, that

it

is

wise to drink coffee

when and where you can, as you never can tell
when you will get it again. But for these halts
the drive across the plain would have been deadly
in its stiffening

bumping,

monotony.

jolting, jingling

The
and

old

waggon went

rattling

over

the

THE GATE OF NORTH ALBANIA

31

inequalities of the road,

and even the waste of time

caused by stopping to

make

coffee

gave reUef to

the feeling that the spine was hopelessly shattered

and every tooth loosened, which was induced by a
mile or two of that real carriage " exercise." The
only incident of the journey was the impartial

burning of

his

cigarette ends

own and

which the lieutenant

the conveyance,

with

his neighbours' clothes

who smoked

in charge of

incessantly, carried

on with smiling and unruffled impartiality

all

along

the road.

But

all

things have an end, even a drive in a

Turkish ambulance, and at
hill

above Bltoja, and there

last

we reached

we

struck the northern

end of Dervish Pasha's famous road.

It

the low

might not

have passed the scrutiny of motorists at home, but
after five or six hours of the native " roads "

Shortly afterwards

like paradise.

bridge of

Achmet

picturesque
treated the

the

than

is

The

south.

trustworthy,

Custom House

sular indifference,

the

joins the suburbs of Baccialek

and Tabaki, and incidentally
from

we reached

Pasha, which crosses the united

Drin and Kiri and
Scodra

it felt

we

all

the

entrance to

bridge

and

is

more

though

authorities with

we

Con-

had to get out and cross

the structure on foot, for fear that our combined

weight might cause the ambulance waggon to plop

through the planking into the swirhng stream

ALBANIA

32

The

below.

bridge was built in 1768 by

Achmet

Pasha of Bouschatti, the Albanian ruler of Scodra,
in order, as

he

memorial of

lasting

" to

to

posterity a

his beneficence."

Those who

said,

leave

have had to cross the Drin at
with a

lot of wild

bless

the

memory
is

on a

raft

Albanians and loose horses, will
of

Achmet

occasional breakdowns of the

that 1768

this spot

Pasha, but

the

bridge remind one

a long time ago, and that the Turkish

doctrine of " Bakaluvi

" is

an inadequate substitute

for regular repairs.

wooden structure,
raised on four wooden piers with wooden arches
between them, and a wooden roadway protected
by wooden handrails, both of which are fitter for
firewood than anything else.
The bridge over
which every one coming from the Zadrima district

The

must

bridge

pass, is a

feuds,

is

a most graceful

most convenient place

for settling

and many a man has been shot down as he

came out of the trees of Baccialek to the bridge
Here it was that the Albanian Leaguers
head.
lay in wait to shoot

Mehemet Ali Pasha had he

gone to Scodra instead of going on his fatal mission
to Ipek, and looking from the bridge down the
course of the Boiana

lies

Murichan from which the

Montenegrins vainly bombarded Mount Tarabosh
for

many

weeks.

Tarabosh

itself

stands on che

other side of the river Boiana just in front of us but

IN

THE MOUNTAINS.

Ancient bridiie at Mosi over the Kiii.

SCODRA.
Achuiet I'aslm's Bridge, Tabaki

auil the Castle.

THE GATE OF NORTH ALBANIA
and right ahead

slightly to the left,

rising out of the red roofs

As we

left

and

is

the Castle

hill

olive trees of Tabaki.

the bridge a puff of smoke floated

out from the old
Castle overhead.

Venetian
It

battlements of the

was followed by another, and

instantly every Albanian raised his
his pistol

33

rifle

drew

or

and sent a bullet whistling into

space.

Another puff of smoke, and then another and
another, following each other round the circle of

the

and the

battlements,

rifle

The country was
and we were evidently

redoubled.
state,

revolution, to

and

pistol

firing

in a very disturbed
in the throes of a

which the rickety ambulance would

afford but a poor defence.

But no one was unduly

disturbed, and the kavass in reply to a query

the Consul, said, "

The long month

Bairam, Signor."

from

That was

all.

of fasting, Ramazan, during which

the true believer will not touch even a drop of
coffee or a cigarette

over at

last.

The

from sunrise to sunset, was

tiny crescent of the

new moon

had been seen, and the muezzin had chanted the
evening

call

to

prayer from the minaret.

Albanian Mahometan, who
only one

is

The

a strict believer, has

way of expressing joy, and

that

is

by

firing

a bullet into the air regardless of possible accidents.

And
of

rifles

so,

and

to the roar of cannon and the banging
pistols,

we made our

first

entrance into

the ancient city of Scodra.

D

Ill

SCODRA
THE ALBANIAN CITY WHICH MONTENEGRO
COVETS

Ever

since October 21st,

negrins began

when

the Monte-

Mount Tarabosh, whose

to shell

commands

fort

1912,

the city, Scodra

or,

as

it

in-

is

and most confusedly termed, Scutari
has been on every man's tongue. And yet till
correctly

then few people could have said exactly where
it

is

on the map, and fewer

For those who know
it

still

have visited

even as passing

it,

it.

visitors,

has a remarkable fascination not only for the

beauty of

its

situation

and surroundings, but

also

for the strangeness of its inhabitants, their manners,

customs, dress, and above
their blood-feuds.

The

all their restlessness

city lies at the southern

end of Lake Scodra, and

is

the capital of North

Albania and one of the most ancient
Europe.
but

it

The date

of

its

and

foundation

is

cities

of

not known,

claims to have been the capital of the old

Illyrian kings

about 1000

B.C.,

and Livy

is

the

SCODRA
Latin author

first

.35

who makes mention

of

it,

in his

account of the war against the Illyrian pirates, as
the stronghold of their rulers in 230 b.c.
The
city,

though

who

are

by its native kings
and always inhabited by the Thrako- Illyrian tribes
for centuries ruled

now

represented by the Albanians, passed
from time to time under the domination of the

Gauls, ithe Romans, the Byzantine

Empire, the

Goths, the Bulgarians, the Serbs, the Venetians,

and
in

finally of the

Turks

and

it

ruled

it

Turks, who took possession of

it

For over a hundred years under the

1477 A.D.

was ruled by

was only
from

its

after the

native Scodrah Pashas,

War

Crimean

Constantinople

direct,

that

it

was

though the

mountains have always been semi-independent.

Every one must sympathize with King Nicolas
in his desire to extend the cramped boundaries of
his little mountain realm, but no one can approve
of his ambition to annex lands which do not belong
to the Slavs,

and have never been more than

temporarily occupied by them in the Middle Ages.

In the time of the Czar Dushan,

c.

1350, the rocks

which afterwards came to be known as JMontene^ro

were united with Scodra and
negro was

but Monte-

ruled from Scodra

and not Scodra

The

is

from Montenegro.
cally

its plains,

little

kingdom

histori-

connected with the principality of Zenta,

but the state which

is

known

as

Montenegro did

ALBANIA

36

not come into existence until after the defeat of

Kossovo

in 1389,

and Scodra was then,

as

has

it

always been in spite of foreign occupations, an

Albanian

city.

King Nicolas has

put

also

in a

claim to Scodra on the surprising plea that his
ancestors are buried there, but his family originally

came from Niegush in the Herzegovina, removing
in 1476, when the Turks conquered the duchy, to
The King's ancesa new Niegush near Cettigne.
tors lie buried in the

and

it is

in the

Herzegovina or in Montenegro,

Herzegovina that Montenegro ought

to be allowed to expand, and not in Albania.

Herzegovina

is

absolutely identical with

negro, whereas Scodra

is

The

Monte-

Albanian and peopled by

But the King recoglost
to him
nizes that the Herzegovina was
when Austria was requested to administer the
provinces after the Treaty of Berlin, and that unless

an utterly different

the

race.

Dual Monarchy breaks up

Slav lands of the north

is

his extension in the

finally blocked.

theless his ambition to revive the

Serbs

is

Never-

Czardom of the

quite compatible with the existence of an

independent Albanian principality.
After entering the

Achmet Pasha we

city

by

rode along

stream of the Boiana on our

left

the

with

bridge

of

the broad

and the steep rock

of the Castle on our right, and passed the ruined

marble baths of some dead and

gone Albanian

SCODRA

37

Pasha and entered the bazaar of Scodra, through
which were very narrow, very crowded, very
In one place the street was
dirty and very dark.

alleys

roofed in with trellis-work across from roof to roof,

an arrangement which,

if it

kept off the heat of

the sun, at the same time most effectually shut out

Emerging from the

the light.

ing an ancient well

on the

between the high, white

bazaar,

left,

and pass-

the road ran

stone walls

which hid

the houses from view, passed the great Turkish

Konak

Government House, the
Public Garden, and reached what was known as
cemetery, the

or

the quarter of the Consulates

Christian and

Mahometan

on the border of the

Here were

quarters.

grouped most of the Consulates, the houses of the
rich Christian merchants,

or less catered for

was not in a

From

European custom when Scodra

state of siege.

the broad open place, to the east of which

most of the better
built,

class

Christian

houses

were

ran the busy Fuschta Chacto street to the

plain of the Kiri
tains

and the hotels which more

and the track to the Great Moun-

and Podgorica.

of the best places

In ordinary times

it

was one

in the city for observing the

dresses of the Christians not only of Scodra but
also of the

mountains round about.

several locandas, as distinguished

metan khans,

in

It contained

from the Maho-

which the Christians of the town

ALBANIA

38

towards

congregated

sipping raki and

evening,

maraschino and discussing the news of the day.
At first the strange medley of costumes was very

came to
recognize the Latin merchants of the city by their
enormous knickerbockers made of some sort of
deep purple

the

gradually

but

puzzUng,

visitor

double-breasted waistcoats

calico, their

and short Eton jackets made of red cloth embroidered with black

heavy blue
stockings.
after all

their large red fezes with

tassels,

silk

But

silk,

and

their

white cotton

to this old Venetian dress, which

was only moderately picturesque, they too

often added the abomination of elastic-sided boots

with the straps sticking out before and behind.

The
was

dress of the

few Orthodox Slavs of Scodra

similar to that of the Latins, except that their

knickerbockers were of heavy blue cloth, and that

they wore low shoes on their feet instead of the
horrible boots

these quaint

alia

franca.
are

dresses

But unfortunately

disappearing every day

and the merchants are taking to slop suits from
Italy and Trieste, which are nothing but iniquitous
burlesques of European costume, and which trans-

form the

picturesque-looking

Albanian

" dago " of the most appalling type.

into

What

a

will

happen when Scodra is one of the principal cities
of the new kingdom and open to visitors and

European

influences

is

beyond prophecy.

SCODRA
As

39

the Fiischta Chacto street was the principal

thoroughfare from the mountains, the Christian

from

mountaineers

up and down

passed

They were

of peace.

of them, with long

square

many

shoulders
of

pressed hardly.

moustaches, keen eyes,

whom

Still,

though

carriage,

stately

downcast

tattered,

on

men

with

hunger and poverty

whether rich or poor, well-

dressed or ragged, every

man

carried his cherished

arms, unless the order which obliged the
taineers

times

in

well-made men, most

tall,

and

frontier

day long

all

it

fair

them were

careworn looks,

Montenegrin

the

moun-

leave their arms at the guard-house

to

on entering the town happened to be

in force.

All the mountain tribes of the north and north-

some

east of Scodra wore, with

the

same

dress.

The

usual

slight variations,

costume

of

the

mountaineer was a short, black jacket, with a

deep

collar

ornamented with a fringe

breasted waistcoat of

with black

silk

;

white

trousers

over the foot like a gaiter
sandals,

on the

feet,

and a

cotton cap on the head.

cotton were

a double-

embroidered

of the same material,

below the knee and

tight

cloth,

;

in
;

some

cases falling

opanke, or raw hide
little

round cloth or

In winter long folds of

woimd turban -wise round

this cap,

and were brought over the ears and under the
jaws some tribes wore a sheepskin in very cold
;

ALBANIA

40

summer they

weather, but in

altogether

waistcoat
shirt

No

instead.

and

discarded coat and

wore

a

true mountaineer would ever

degrade himself by carrying anything.

man

a poor

burdens

;

women

the

gauzy

loose

of the family carried the

he was rich he had a horse.

if

was

If he

The

Christian Albanians could not ride, and took no

pride in their horses, but drove to the bazaar the

most

and

decrepit

broken-down

old

animals

heavily laden with panniers of country produce.

The women

of the three creeds of Scodra wore

of the same

variations

dress.

The

large,

loose

Turkish trousers falling over the ankle were made
of silk in the case of the Mahometans, of gaily

patterned cloth in the case of the Orthodox, and
of

crackling glazed calico

horribly

of the Latin Catholics.

in

the case

Their chemises were of

the silk gauze of the country, with large hanging

and

sleeves,

over

these

they

wore

a

little

embroidered waistcoat which acted as a corset,

and a short jacket of coloured cloth, while round
their waists they wound a huge parti-coloured

was plastered down at the sides,
and cropped short just below the ears, but was
suffered to grow long behind and knotted up at
sash.

The

hair

Out of doors they enveloped
themselves from head to knee in a huge cloak of
the back of the head.

crimson,

blue or scarlet cloth according to their

SCODRA

The Mahometan and Orthodox women

religion.

dress than the

richly embroidered

wore a more
Latin

41

and

Catholics,

no

fact

in

dress

more

unbecoming to women has ever been

absolutely

invented than that of the Latin

women

of Scodra.

will

no doubt have

The mountaineer women wore

neither trousers

But

few

in a

time

years'

it

disappeared almost entirely.

nor

felt-like cloth

but a short skirt of thick,

veil,

reaching to the knee, and a bodice or jacket of the

same

both garments ornamented with

material,

As

red or black braiding.

often as not they

went

bare-legged and bare-footed, but in cold weather,
or

when

shoes.

fully dressed, they

wore cloth

gaiters

and

Their hair was generally cropped short and

surmounted by the

little

coin-covered toque of the

The women

townswomen.

of the mountain tribes

were sturdy and powerful, and often beautiful as
children,

but

destroyed

all

arrived at

negro

the
their

woman was

of the hut, and

the

fields,

cigarette
little

;

life

as

they

led

soon as they

In Albania and Monte-

the beast of burden of the

she did the household drudgery

all

but the very roughest work

in

while her husband or brother sat upon a

stone with his

the

good looks

womanhood.

poorer famiUes

rough

hard,

rifle

between

between

his lips.

his

When

knees and a
the fruits of

farm were taken to the bazaar, the

ALBANIA

44

trade with Europe,

own

shops in the bazaar, but

also the INIahometan beys

who

Every man

and aghas.

respected himself spent the day in the bazaar

own

sitting cross-legged in his

or a friend's shop

;

and no better way could be imagined of studying
life in Scodra than spending the morning in the
shop of some

smoking

man

filagree

fabrics,

and examining

cigarettes,

ghans with carved
knives,

of importance, sipping coffee,

and

long guns, inlaid

silver hilts,

holders,

cigarette

yata-

pistols,

delicate

silk

the other native wrought goods

all

of North Albania brought in for inspection by
friends

No

and neighbours.

one advertised or

puffed his wares, or pressed the visitor to buy.

The

and workmen plied the hammer, the
or the needle, while the masters exchanged

artificers

chisel

cigarettes

and the

last piece

from the coast or the

interior.

of news brought in

Montenegrins were

frequently to be seen in the bazaar buying goods

which were not obtainable
laughing

and

connections.

talking

in their country,

with

their

In former times

friends

many

and

and

a frontier

war was caused by a squabble over a bazaar transaction, for when both parties went about armed it
needed but a

slight

spark to

set

their

latent

animosities in a blaze.

Most of the

many

foreign

visitors too,

and indeed

of the residents in Scodra, never got that

SCODllA
deeper insight into the

was afforded by an

The

house.

45

of the country whicli

life

invitation

the

in

streets

to

Albanian

an

Mahometan

quarter

were narrow and paved with large round cobble

which

stones,

made walking

the road,

summer, the

incredible

for

streets of

in the wintertime

difficult.

stepping stones were placed

Occasionally great
across

rather

as

seemed

it

in

Scodra were watercourses

when the Boiana and the Drin

overflowed their low banks, and the Kiri rushed a

foaming

torrent

Drivasto.

from

The houses

narrow

the

ravines

of

stood in gardens or court-

yards surrounded by high walls, and guarded by
luige gateways with massive, iron-studded doors,

flanked with narrow apertures through which an

enemy attempting

to break

open the gate could be

In the centre of an Albanian courtyard

shot down.

there was always a well with

handed pulley
house

raising

for

itself was built

a curious double-

the bucket,

and the

of cobble stones from the bed

of the Kiri and plastered white, with a tiled roof
stretching out

which afforded shade

from the rain
only one
for

in low,

wide eaves

summer and

protection

beyond the walls
in

storey,

in

Albanian houses had

winter.

the

ground

stowing provisions and

horses and cattle.

on the

flrst

floor,

All

as

floor

being

stabling for

the living

used
the

rooms were

and were reached by an open

ALBANIA

46

wooden

staircase

which gave access to a broad

balcony running across the whole front of the

house with the doors of the inner rooms opening
out of

it.

When

a

scuttled off to the

man

entered the

harem

as

indifference

placid

all

like frightened rabbits,

except the mountaineer servants,

with

women

who looked on

the strangers were

ushered into the selamlik or reception-room.

The

flooring of the principal

rooms

in a Scodra

house was covered with rush matting, which was
not brought into the house ready made, but was

manufactured in the room and for the room, being
worked into every recess and corner by a
mountaineer

who squatted cross-legged on the

with his mouth

full

On

dexterously.

floor,

of rushes, plaiting rapidly and

the matting were spread several

brilliantly coloured carpets,

and round the walls

ran low divans covered with red cloth, the
possessing neither tables nor chairs.

room

There were

almost invariably three windows in the thick walls,

each one protected by carved wooden bars outside
and by heavy shutters inside, looking out on the
neglected garden.
ecclesiastically

and

fireplace

was a curious,

shaped structure, carved in stone

carefully whitewashed, jutting out

room over
log

The

fire

into

a large stone slab on which a

was lighted upon

was a great ornament

occasions.

in

the

huge

This fireplace

an Albanian room but

SCODRA

47

was seldom used, as a mangaU or flat brazier full of
red-hot glowing charcoal was preferred in winter
in spite of the poisonous

rooms were not very

fumes

lofty,

it

gives out.

The

but the windows never

reached to the ceiling, and just above them a broad

wooden

shelf,

carved with

many

a quaint design,

ran round the room, starting from either side of the

On

fireplace.

this shelf

were ranged vast metal

dishes which held a whole roast

lamb on

feast days,

and perhaps two or three dozen willow-pattern
plates brought from Malta, which were looked

upon as great treasures. Opposite the fireplace
was a deep recess, wood-panelled, containing a noble
carved oak chest showing traces of

its

origin in the lions' feet that supported

Venetian
In this

it.

the master of the house kept the treasures of his

wardrobe

:

elaborately

long scarlet coats with hanging sleeves

worked

in black

silk,

huge knicker-

bockers of red cloth similarly ornamented, beautiful
shirts of the finest

silk

gauze with lace

collars

a foot deep, rolls of silk gauze striped in various
colours, purple velvet waistcoats stiff and

gold embroidery, worked gaiters, long

heavy with

silk scarves

and sashes glowing with every colour of the rainbow,
and all the gorgeous Oriental frippery of an xVlbanian
agha's wardrobe.

On

the

w^alls

hung pushkas,

long guns, pistols and yataghans,

all

or

splendidly

decorated with carved silver ornamentation.

ALBANIA

48

Immediately on entering the guest was presented with

man came

a serving

pink

sweet,

and

cigarettes,

fluid.

in

in

a few

moments

with tumblers of some

He

then hurried

out

and

returned at once with tiny cups of very hot coffee,
the cups handleless and balanced in silver filagree

Then

zm-fs shaped like egg cups.

a plate of large,

white sugar-plums was handed round, followed by

more

Albanian hospitality demanded

for

coffee,

that the appetite

As

neglected.

guest should

of a

never

be

soon as one cigarette showed signs

end others were brought forward,
and the guest could not refuse under penalty
The coffee and the
of beino- thousrht churlish.

of burning to

and

pink

its

yellow

liquids

had to be swallowed

somehow, but the hard, white sweetmeats could be
discreetly conveyed to the handkerchief, and then
roadway when at a safe
distance from the house. For the rest an Albanian
agha had nothing but his arms and fine dresses to
shaken out into the

no books, no

show

;

life.

On

every

pictures,

no sign of

intellectual

the return from the bazaar or the covmtry

evening

was cooked

supper

;

cigarettes

and gossip followed, enlivened, perhaps, by some
plaintive air thrummed on the two wire strings of
an Albanian mandoline

;

and then, one by one, the

family retired to the inner rooms, or rolled themselves

upon the broad divans and went

to sleep

SCODRA

A

there.

joyless

barren, profitless and, one

existence

gentleman,

and

;

was

agha

Albanian

49

who

yet,

of

spite

in

and

courteous

a

would think,
all,

the

polished

exercised his hospitality with the

ease and dignity of a

man who

has spent his

life

in courts.

The blood-feuds which used

to be so

common

in

Scodra and the mountains were gradually dying
for the authorities

out,

their faces
past.

and the

priests

against the practice for

But the

factors

influence in putting

had

many

set

years

which had the greatest

down

the practice were the

poverty from which Albania had suffered for years

and the enforcing of the edict against carrying
arms

in

the

Formerly

city.

Albanian ever went outside
arsenal of small

arms

no

Mahometan

house without an

his

in his belt,

and even the

poorest had his pistol or cheap revolver.
Christians in the

Only the

town might not bear arms, but

the Christian mountaineers in defiance of edicts

always paraded the streets armed to the teeth.

But whenever the Turks

felt

themselves strong

enough they enforced the edict, though if ever
they wished to arm the people as a threat against

Montenegro they withdrew the

prohibition,

even armed the Albanians themselves.
late

and

Before the

war the Turks armed the townsmen against

the mountain tribes

who were

attacking Tusi, and

ALBANIA

50

the cherished pistols and yataghans were brought

In the old days Ilamazan and Bairam

out again.

were always the causes of deaths, sometimes as

many

as

twenty or thirty
nothing

about

squabble

lives

at

being lost over a

When

all.

JNlahometan Albanians had been fasting

summer's

day,

and

Christians looking fat

were

a long

by

seeing

fed, fights

were of

irritated

and well

all

the

frequent occurrence, and even in ordinary times a
bully would pick a quarrel with a Christian for
sheer wantonness.

To

the casual observer the Albanians seemed to

be always rebelling and fighting for no reason
it

must not be forgotten that they

really

conquered by the Turks, and

But

whatever.

were never

much as
Abdul Hamid

that in their mountains they did very

they

liked.

They were

faithful to

because he was on the whole an easy-going taskmaster, and they were shrewd enough to see that

Ottoman Empire were a bulwark
between them and some of the European Powers.
But the Roman Catholic mountaineers sided with
Montenegro when war was declared because of

he and

the

their disgust

at

the rule of the

They were promised

Young

Turks.

those fine sounding words,

Liberty and a Constitution, phrases which they
interpreted to

mean freedom from the

Constantinople, while the

Young Turks

control of

read

them

SCODRA
as

meaning

tyranny

the

all

51
of

a

modern

bureaucracy tempered by the farce of parliamentary

With such
naturally came

institutions.

parties

contrasting ideals the
into

conflict,

for

two
the

Albanians strongly objected to the regular pay-

ment of

taxes, the use of the Turkish language in

the state schools, and the enforcement of military
service in the Asiatic provinces.

But the Turk, the
has

now gone from

latest intruder in Albania,

the land, and the city of Scodra

will return to the position

thousand years ago w^hen
the

Illyrian

JNIany

it
it

under

tribes

occupied nearly three

was the chief town of
their

native

conquerors have passed over

stubborn race which

them

has survived

is

all.

it,

kings.

but the

now known as Albanian
It now only remains for

the people of Scodra to justify the trust which

Europe has reposed

new kingdom, and
and the

vital

vicissitudes

of

force

in
if

them

as the leaders of the

doggedness, independence,

which can

fortune,

live

count for

through

all

anything

in

modern Europe, they should not be found wanting.

IV
KAVASSES AND SERVANTS

So much

the

for

inhabitants in general.

them
life

of Albania and

capital

Now we

will

deal with

in greater detail, first of all touching

which a European had to lead

its

on the

in that out-of-

the-way corner of the world. As yet Scodra has
not been modernized like Belgrade and Sofia, and
in a far lesser

But doubtless
will pass away to

degree, Cettigne.

that will come, and the old

life

be replaced by a bastard civilization which will
form a thin veneer over the true manners and
customs of the people, just as

Balkan

;

does in the other

capitals.

Most of the
gay

it

streets in

Scodra were

far

there was no gas and no electricity.

roadway was generally loose and pebbly,

from

The
for

it

served the double purpose of a road in dry weather

and of a watercourse
overflowed.

At

in the winter

when

the Kiri

intervals, usually in front of

great gateway with massive

wooden

doors,

some
were

rows of boulders which acted as stepping-stones

in

KAVASSES AND SERVANTS
the rainy season for those

The

the street.

to avoid the floods.
either

cross

to

footpath was a raised causeway,

sometimes a couple of

on

who wished

53

feet

above the road,

There was no view at

in order
all

for

;

hand rose high walls of cobble-stones,

over which might perhaps be seen the red roofs of
the houses they encircled, and the trees which
beautified

the

courtyards and gardens kept so

jealously guarded from the public eye.

My own

httle cottage will perhaps serve as a

type of the houses in Scodra.

hidden away behind

its

Like the

rest

it

was

high stone walls, and

gateway was a huge and imposing

affair like

its

the

In front of the house was a

entrance to a fortress.

bare Uttle courtyard paved with cobble-stones, and
its

curious hand-windlass

Avater.

For some reason or

containing the well with
for

drawing up the

autumn with

other this courtyard was covered in

a luxuriant growth of camomile, which rendered
the hot air heavy with a medicinal odour, and

made walking

difficult

except in the paths that got

worn through the mass.
It never entered into
any one's head to uproot this growtli it was there,
Beyond the
and we accepted it with resignation.
courtyard, and separated from it by a slight fence,
was the garden. It contained two or three olive
;

trees, half a

trees,

dozen vines, and a couple of mulberry

representing the three staple products of

ALBANIA

54
Scodra

oil,

wine

To my own

iind silk.

exertions

were due the magnificent crop of tomatoes, the
green peas, the other vegetables, and the glorious

mass of flowers in one corner.

The house
was a

itself

faced this

little

small, one-storied cottage built, like the wall

and everything
over.

The

with cobble-stones

else in the city,

from the bed of the

Kiri,

and plastered white

all

roof was low, and the eaves projected

far over the walls, giving shelter

sun in summer and from the

On

domain, and

from the burning

pitiless rain in winter.

the ground-floor was nothing but a servant's

room, the

rest

being a wide open space where wood,

charcoal and other stores were kept, and where

the Albanians had formerly stabled their horses and

The house was

cattle.

building, but

years ago.

was cut

really the half of a larger

off

from the other part many

The open balcony, which runs along the

front of all the houses of Scodra, had been shut in
to

make

ladder,
floor,

a

bedroom and an entrance

hall

;

while the

which formerly gave access to the

first

had been roofed over and turned into a

staircase.

On

this,

the only

floor,

there were

two bedrooms, a sittingThere was nothing remark-

besides the entrance hall,

room and

a kitchen.

my

bedroom,

probability the harem

when an

able about the other

which was in

all

rooms

Albanian family occupied

it,

;

but

was a typical native

KAVASSES AND SERVANTS
room.

It

was

by

lighted

tliree

small,

55
square

windows whieh were guarded by an ornamental
wooden lattice. The windows were about a foot
from the ground, and only went half-way up the
wall to where a broad shelf of carved

wood ran

all

round the room, and was the general receptacle for
every odd and end that could be stowed away

Between two of the windows was
the fireplace, a curious whitewashed monument
resembling a small shrine. The hearthstone was a
nowhere

broad

else.

octagonal

slab,

and was used

occasions for burning a whole log of

time,

as

our

ancestors

burned

on grand

wood

at a

Yule-log.

the

Opposite the fireplace was a deep alcove, panelled
with carved wood
balcony,
staircase

;

and above

it

was a

sort of

which access was given by a tiny
hidden in the wall. This recess once conto

tained the carved oak chest in which an Albanian
bride's trousseau

wardrobe for
for

ranging

is

stored,

but

my clothes and as
my boots, over

it

served

me

as a

a convenient place

which

tumbled and disported themselves

all

huge

rats

night long.

Next door was the kitchen where, with the
most primitive of stoves and two or three tin pots,
Simon the cook contrived to elaborate the most
I was proud of my cook, and
excellent dishes.
with reason, for he was about the best cook in

Scodra; indeed, on

his

own showing, he was

the

ALBANIA

56

Occasionally he became inflated with

only one.

pride and got restive, but

was quickly brought to

reason by the threat of sending to Trieste for a

Of

cook.

course I had no such absurd intention

but Simon was given over to the
prevalent in

England

some

which

idea,

Bank of

places abroad, that the

cellars are full

of

new

;

is still

and

sovereigns,

Englishmen have only got to go and take
a few shovelfuls when they want money for any
that

of their

mad

With such

freaks.

resources behind

me Simon

felt

that

inexhaustible
I

might even

go to the extravagance of sending to Trieste for a
cook, and so he subsided among his pots and pans.

He

had a wife and family somewhere in the town

and did not sleep
soon

in the house,

dinner

after

but disappeared

reappear early the

to

next

morning.

UnUke

the cook

Albanian, Achmet,

pure

Turk.

He

who was

my
was

University graduate in

he was a learned

a

Roman

Catholic

personal servant, was a

what corresponds to a
Turkey but still, though
;

man and

wrote

intricate

his

language with the greatest ease and neatness, he
did not disdain to put his entire energies into
service for

were.

He

the time being.

And

my

energies they

had none of the traditional gravity of

the Turk, and no one had ever yet seen him walk.
Correctly attired in a dark

suit,

and with

his fez

KAVASSES AND SERVANTS

57

his head,

he went about his

marketing errands at a gait half

shuffle, half trot,

sticking straight

his

beady

little

up on

brown eyes

and

glittering,

his

umbrella tightly tucked under his arm.

Achmet

must have been possessed of some

property

when he had

little

finished his education, for

somehow

became the government's
a considerable sum of money, and,

or other he foolishly
creditor

for

which argued a simple
expected

to

be

soul,

he seems to have

For a long time the

repaid.

worthy Achmet's importunities were met with fair
but as he at last became wearisome, he
words
;

was given an order
of

for his

money on

the vilayet of Scodra,

Constantinople.

He

to

the treasury

insure his leaving

arrived almost penniless in

who had not been
months and who did not

Scodra, where the Vali Pasha,
able to pay his troops for

know where

to turn for supplies of food for his

men, treated the order on his empty treasury with
Poor Achmet was then at his
scant ceremony.
he fell ill from sheer privation, and was
wits' end
;

taken to the military hospital where, when he grew
stronger, he acted as general servant for his daily

That was

bread.

his darkest hour.

He

had

lost

everything but a ragged suit of clothes, and the
papers that proved the government's indebtedness
to

him

;

when one day he heard

vice-consul had

that the Austrian

discharged his servant and was

ALBANIA

58

Aclimet at once applied

looking for another.

for

the place, but was so miserable an object, and so
ignorant of European ways, that
hesitation the vice-consul allowed

a

week

be had.

or

two on

as there

was with great

him

come

to

was no one

for

else to

In a month Achmet had become a very

different being

and

trial,

it

despair,

;

his illness,

brought on by hunger

had completely

bought a neat, dark

left

him

suit of clothes

;

he had

with his

first

wages, and had become so excellent and trust-

worthy a servant that

master would not have

his

parted with him under any consideration.
the Austrian

left

Scodra

Achmet came

When

to me,

and

more faithful and hard-working servant no man
was ever blessed with in the East or elsewhere.
At the Consulate-General the two most

a

imposing and gorgeous personages of the household staff were the kavasses, Simon and Marco,

my

both of them, like
Albanians of the

Scodra
full

who were

white

cook,

Roman

The only

city.

Catholic

Christians

of

allowed to wear the fustanelle or
petticoat

linen

of

the

Mahometan

Albanians were the kavasses of the consulates, and

they were intensely proud of the
the

chief

Shkypetar,

kavass,

to

was

use

a

the

privilege.

of

the

name by which

the

perfect

type

Albanians have always called themselves.
a

tall,

lean,

muscular

man

Simon,

He

was

with a hawk-like face,

KAVASSES AND SERVANTS
keen blue eyes and a long
head he wore
Scodra, with

tlie
its

fair

heavy blue

tlie

silk tassel,

the royal arms in brass across the
jacket, waistcoat

and

gaiters

was of the

men

of

and with

His

front.

silk,

white linen

finest

his

were of crimson cloth

embroidered with gold wire and black
fustanelle

On

moustache.

Hat crimson fez of

59

and

his

made with

hundreds of gores, which swayed to and

fro as

walked with the most invincible swagger.

he

Indeed,

when Simon was on duty and preceding his
master to call on the Pasha or some other notable,
not even the most conceited young Agha could
surpass him in the haughtiness of his swagger or in
the contemptuousness of the half smile under his
bristling

moustache.

A

kavass was a very great

man, and Simon was thoroughly aware of the

fact.

In strong contrast to him was old JMarco,

who

combined

the

gardener, and

away

of

functions

who

second kavass and

spent most of the day hoeing

at the hard soil with

head against the sun but a

no protection

little

for his

white cotton skull-

Old JMarco was a character in his way, and
his appearance was peculiar.
He w^as of short and
sturdy build, and not of such a true-bred Shkypetar
cap.

appearance as Simon.

His features were indeter-

minate, and not only was he short but he had,

probably

from

motives

of economy,

furnished

himself with one of the very shortest of fustanelles.

60

ALBANIA

so that he looked

hke an elderly

unusually scanty
represented
dress

;

and

all

so,

But

skirts.

ballet dancer in

him

for

this

garment

that was gorgeous in the matter of
to protect

it

when he was gardening,

or not on duty, he had manufactured out of

an enormous pair of loose trousers,

sacks

old

some

into which he packed himself

and

his fustanelle.

He

was a most good-natured and obliging old
man, but his chief drawback was that he spoke no
language but his own, and was very dense in
understanding what was meant by signs, so that

was exceedingly
at

all.

He

Catholic,

difficult to

literally starved

eating nothing but a

nothing but water

up

communicate with him

was a devout and superstitious

and

for lost time,

;

little

but,

it

himself

Roman

all

Lent,

maize bread and drinking

on the principle of making

he gorged himself so piggishly at

the feast which was always given to the servants on

Day that his much-abused digestion revolted
and he appeared on Monday morning a groaning
Easter

and miserable

"

or

considered a notable

and

in

His

object.

for " Sale Inglese

petition then

first

Epsom

Salts,

remedy by

was

which were

his compatriots,

the evening he dosed himself recklessly,

only to reappear next morning as haggard and
ghastly as a galvanized

sighed over his

work

mummy.
for a

He

groaned and

day or two, but such

was the wonderful constitution of

this leathery

KAVASSES AND SERVANTS
old man, that before the

61

week was out he was

as

hearty and as active as ever.

As

a kavass

Marco was unimpressive, but

gardener he was without

a

rival.

He

and

as a
his

colleague divided the duties of the kavasskhana

between

them.

awe-inspiring

;

Simon

was

ornamental

and

JMarco good-natured and laborious.

V
THE BOULEVARD DIPLOMATIQUE
In

Albania

there

is

no interval of transition

between the rainy season and the hot weather.
the end of INIay the rains abruptly cease, and
the

first

At
until

great thunderstorm in September there

is

But the
an almost unvarying and blazing heat.
snow, which remains on the mountain tops until
July, every

now and then

into the plains,

a good

sends a bitter blast

which cuts

like a knife

deal of lung trouble

This state of things

lasts for

among

down

and causes
the people.

about a month, and

then follow some ten weeks of sweltering heat in

which the middle of the day

is

sacred to rest and

shade, even the hardiest mountaineers not caring to

expose themselves to the heat of the sun.

In the summer

it

was the

custom

of

the

European colony to postpone the afternoon walk
until the late afternoon when the tall trees began
to

throw a pleasant shade, and a gentle breeze

usually cooled the heated atmosphere.

wide-eaved

houses

When

the

shadowed the width of the

THE BOULEVxVRl) DITLOMATIQUE
Scodra gradiuiUy roused

streets,

Tlie

afternoon's doze.

able indoors, even with

on the sunny

all

the blinds drawn

house and with

us,

and

that

promenade had

My

its

down

all

the

at last the faint rustling of the

leaves outside told that a little breeze

cool

from

day was almost unendur-

side of the

windows open, but

itself

03

hour

the

for

had come to
evening

the

arrived.

chief and

I

descended into the garden,

which looked sadly sun-baked and felt like an oven,
with every breath of air shut out by the twelve or
of cobble walls

fourteen feet

by which

it

was

In the shade outside the kavasskhana

surrounded.

Simon, the head kavass, was squatting on the
ground with his eyes half shut, blowing long
streams of blue cigarette smoke through his hooked
nose.

He

feet as

we came down, but

roused himself sufficiently to

rise to his

moment

our backs

were turned relapsed into

the

his

former attitude.

In

the garden wall was a postern gate and, passing

through

it,

spanned the

we

crossed the one plank bridge that

little

stream surrounding the house and

garden, and entered the public garden.

There was

always a large colony of ducks feeding

by the

stream in the late afternoon, and regularly every

day our approach sent them quacking and waddling
in every direction,

giving occasion

for

some

ill-

conditioned joker to declare that one could always

a

ALBANIA

64

when the English were coming because of the

tell

" canards "

with

on

us,

this

which preceded them.

and the

little

Jokes were rare

European colony subsisted

one for more than a year.

The

public garden was the invention of the

Vali Hussein Husni Pasha,

of land, where

all

who turned

a waste bit

the old tin pots and general

refuse of the quarter were thrown, into a pleasant

garden with plenty of shrubs and flowers in the
beds,

and a kiosk

in

Beyond the

the centre.

up and down which

public garden ran a road

the consuls and vice-consuls and

all

the aristocracy

of the European colony promenaded every day
before sunset, and for this reason

it

was known

the Boulevard Diplomatique or Village Green

as

witticism which had a great success before the
" canard

"

joke was invented.

Owing
one of the
tive

to the disturbed state of the
little

among

Near East

Balkan kingdoms had a representa-

us.

His house looked out upon the

" Boulevard," and at whatever hour

the public garden

we

could

make

we went

into

sure of catching

a glimpse of our friend half hidden behind the

window curtain, peeping up and down the road to
see who was coming or going, and no doubt
gathering plenty of material for those voluminous
despatches

which he wrote to

his

government

every week on the political situation, and read over

SCODKA.

OM

houso, formerlv the Britisli f'onsulate-Geueral.

SCODRA.
The Public Garden

of

Hussein Hiisni Pasha.

THE BOULEV^VUD DIPr.OxMATIQUE
himself witli

to

evident

satisfaction

and

G5

many

was well that he had a talent for
seeing what was going on all over the Near East
from his sitting-room window, for all the summer
clniekles.

It

he was a prisoner in
attach himself to

no

his

some

fear of cows.

It

rooms unless he could

valiant

was

fai-

European who had
too hot to go out

except just before sunset, and at that hour he

dared not
in

from

stir alone, for

the cattle were then driven

their pastures outside the city,

and he had

Our appearance

a mortal terror of cows.

in the

road was instantly perceived by him, and he quitted
his

window

He

was a

to place himself under our protection.
tall,

thin, sallow-faced

man, with the

beard and walk of a conceited goat, and was carefully dressed for the afternoon

promenade

in a long,

black frock coat tightly buttoned up, and with a
pair of

kneed trousers

broad,

flat

little

shoes.

falling

Round

awkwardly over

his throat

his

he wore a

black bow, and on his head a billy-cock hat,

very high in the crown and narrow in the brim.

He

flattered himself that

he was a

brilliant

French

scholar,

but as he had never been in Frankish

Europe

his

French savoured very much of the

back numbers of the Revue des

From

Deux

Mojidcs.

that periodical he used to copy a paper full

of long-winded phrases, which he always carried

about in

his

pocket to be learned for future use in
F

ALBANIA

66
conversation,

there was no one to talk to and

when

was too dark to look out of the window. His
two topics of conversation were himself and " mon
it

pays," and his ignorance on

of the blandly
order;

European matters was

self-satisfied,

not-to-be-convinced

but for that very reason he was a most

entertaining companion,

and our constant com-

panion in our afternoon

stroll.

was

fun, for so sublime

He

was

capital

his self-consciousness that

he always imagined every one to be either looking
at or talking of him,

and got into agonies

heard people laugh without knowing what

they were laughing

at.

if

he

was

it

Life would have been

distinctly duller in Scodra without him.

Soon we were joined by the

Western power, with

his gold-laced

chancellier of a

cap on his head,

mouth and his celebrated
The previous autumn Fox

his eternal cigarette in his

dog Fox by

his side.

had been given up

for dead, as a snake bit her

when we were out shooting on the
had some of the natives with us, and

the lip

We

on

plain.

after

they had killed the snake they looked about for a
certain plant without success for

when they
stiff

late,

and

did find

lifeless.

it

poor

some time

Fox was

The Albanians

said

Uttle of the plant,

he placed

it

it,

and

stretched out
it

was too

but one of them, as he had found the

thought that he might as well use

;

so,

leaf,

chewing a

on the wound and

THE BOULEVARD DIPLOMATIQUE
down Fox's throat. We then placed the poor

G7

dog

under a hedge and covered her with branches of

That was on November the

the wait-a-bit thorn.

twentieth

on the twenty-fourth Fox turned up

;

weak and thin, at her master's door.
Strangely enough the remedy had not been applied
too late, and the dog recovered to become a
ahve, but very

celebrity.

Her master was

a capital fellow and a sports-

man, but rather too

companion

careless

after the birds.

cock held loosely under
first

his

home

in

was constantly

arm

first

through

if I

;

full

made him go

gun behind him,

his

in expectation of

We

the game-bag.

pleasant

with his gun at

he trailed the muzzle of

so that I

be a

went

If I

me

a gap he scrambled after

to

were out

one day, and a bird got up just as

going

after quail

we were

approaching a road along which a farmer was going
to the bazaar with his wife riding astride of an old
horse.

hold his

The
fire,

by a loud
to

the

little

sportsman was too excited to

and the report of

yell

and the thud of a

ground.

threateningly at

gun was followed
heavy body falling

his

The farmer pointed his rifle
us, and we rushed forward full of

apprehension, for

it

is

a serious matter to put shot

into an Albanian; but happily

no harm was done.

The

we soon saw

that

old horse, being peppered

behind with small shot, had flung up

its

heels

and

ALBANIA

68
sent

The

on her back into the mud.

rider

its

mountaineer burst into roars of inifeehng laughter
at seeing liis wife plastered with mud, and she
rained

down

maledictions on the horse, her husband

and ourselves

;

but a few piastres soon set every-

thing right, and
that

we had

we continued our

sport thankful

not to run for our lives before an

infuriated tribe of mountaineers.

was not often seen upon the
Boulevard Diplomatique. He was an ill-tempered
little man with a hook nose and a heavy moustache,
and often profited by the whole of the European

Our

friend's chief

colony being on the Boulevard to pay some of his
infrequent

found

my

visits.

On

returning

home one day

I

his visiting card sticking out of a crack in

great outer gate.

He knew

I

was out, but

would not penetrate into the court-yard for fear I
should return and catch him before he could make
his escape.

Moreover, in the height of summer he

always retired into private

life

for his yearly baths.

For more than a month there had not been a cloud
in the sky, the earth was parched and cracking,
and life was only rendered tolerable to an Enghsh-

man by
all

the plentiful use of the cold tub

;

but for

that he did not consider that the bath should be

entered lightly or without proper precautions.

We

used to lose his society for ten days while he

underwent

six baths.

On

his retirement

from the

THE BOULEVARD DIPLOxMATlQUE
world he took medicine and devoted the

first

days to preparing himself for the ceremony.
for six consecutive days

warmed

being

two

Then

he took a bath, the water

he

tliat

09

nn'glit

catch no

chill,

and

then he remained indoors for two more days that

system might have time to recover from the

his

shock before he exposed himself to the chance of

The

catching cold under a July sun.

ten days

past he used to reappear washed and rejuvenated,

economy that on those
managed to look perfectly

and so marvellous was
baths he

half-dozen
clean

all

At

his

the year round.

the

extremity of the Boulevard

eastern

Diplomatique, though he was but seldom seen on
that historic walk, lived the consul

who watched

over the interests of one of the great continental
empires.

He

was an amiable, shy man, whose

pasty complexion

gave him

His

having been parboiled.
a

huge barrack not long

appearance of

the
official

residence

erected, about

which the

consul used to wander like a forlorn ghost.
chief
a

friend

and

confidant

was

his

worthy native of the town, wliose

had been educated

saw

this girl

in

who had

Europe.

was
His

dragoman,

eldest daughter

The

lonely consul

returned to her cottage

home

dressed in European costume and speaking French

with considerable fluency
kept

his

thoughts to

;

but for a long time he

himself.

The poor

child

ALBANIA

70

naturally felt rather like a fish out of water

when

had become quite
accustomed to European ways, while her mother
home,

she returned

and two

for

she

clung to their loose Turkish

sisters still

The Fairy Prince was

trousers and oriental habits.

The

at hand.

functionaries

little

of

consul saw and loved

the

empire were not

;

but the
allowed

to contract marriages at random, and without the
leave of their imperial master.

kept his

own

counsel,

and sent

So the lover wisely
in a formal applica-

tion to his chiefs for permission to

whom
life.

marry a girl with

he had hardly exchanged two words in his
In due time an imposing parchment arrived

granting the required indulgence and sealed with

an imperial

seal of

imposing dimensions.

The next

day the consul placed the precious document and
its envelope safely in an inner pocket and set off to
pay a

visit to

affections

his

The

object of his

in the

room, so he

dragoman.

was naturally not

timidly inquired after her.

In the East the head of

a house assumes an extremely apologetic attitude

towards a guest when speaking of

his

womenkind,

and considers a wife something to be ashamed of,
but as his daughter had been educated alia franca,
the dragoman bowed so far to European customs
as to

summon

words

—perhaps

speak—but he

her.

The

he could

consul did not waste

not

trust

himself to

pulled the enclosure from his pocket

THE BOULEVARD DIPLOMATIQUE
and thrust
*'

Read

71

into the girl's hands, saying simply,

it

with

Speechless

it."

astonishment she

opened the document and, stumbling through the
preamble, saw to her utter amazement that the

emperor granted to

his trusty servant the consul

permission to marry the lady mentioned in his
application.

It

was perhaps the most

original pro-

posal ever imagined.

The

consul broke the silence.

what

august master's permission

;

Stammering

about

parents,

something

is

" I have

my

your answer

"
?

her

consulting

the girl rushed from the room, and her

suitor,

picking

leave.

The

up

rest

his

may

precious paper, took his

be easily imagined

do not grow on wayside hedges.

;

The

consuls
family's

acceptance was quickly notified to the lover, and
he,

prompt and decided

in action, instantly secured

Every obstacle was overthe greatest secrecy was observed and on

the services of the priest.

come
the Sunday following
;

;

this

unique proposal a

little

procession left the dragoman's house soon after
sunset.

First

marched the kavass, gorgeous

in his

scarlet uniform, carrying a lantern in his hand,

and

too philosophical to betray any astonishment at the
curious customs of the Franks.

Then came the

consul in his best black broad-cloth frock-coat and
billy-cock hat, with his bride leaning

Immediately

behind

the

happy

on

pair

his

arm.

came the

ALBANIA

72
bride's

two

Albanian dresses, shuffling

sisters in

along in their loose slippers and with their
silken trousers rustling with aggressive

full

newness,

giggling behind their veils at the double impropriety of being out after dark and of seeing their
sister

The

leaning on a man's arm, just like a Frank.
father

Albanian

and mother of the

dress,

was waiting

bride, also in full

brought up the

for

rear.

The

priest

the party, and the consul was

married to his dragoman's daughter before more

than half a dozen people in the city

knew

that

engagement between them.
The next day the fact came out, and the
gossip and amazement it excited were things to
there was even an

be

remembered.

All

the

principal

Christian

merchants deeply regretted that their daughters

had not been educated

alia franca^

and resolved to

rectify the mistake with the least possible delay.

These good resolutions soon passed away when the
nine days' wonder was over, but the consul
remained with an amiable wife and with the
faction of having achieved the

posal and

man

most unusual pro-

wedding that ever entered the mind of

to conceive.

The

other

consuls

alley in his

summer

were not

One

men

of such

them had a skittle
garden, and once a week throughout

startling originality.

the

satis-

of

consuls-general and pashas, consuls and

THE BOULEVARD DIPLOMATIQUE
vice-consuls

beys,

Roman

and

Catholic

73

priests,

vied with one another in bowling a heavy ball at

the nine skittles at the other end of the alley.

was a

capital

amusement,

as

It

combined gentle

it

excitement and a certain amount of bodily exercise

without the trouble of moving out of the shade of
the spreading mulberry tree.

Albanian gardener fagged

At

for us

the other end an

and trundled back

the ball with prodigious energy and never-ceasing
grins.

There were other consuls to be met with on
the Boulevard, stray engineers from Europe look-

ing for concessions, and perhaps a pasha or two

now and

again

;

but aksJiam, or sunset, was the

signal for a general dispersal.

As

the sun sank

behind the mountains of Montenegro the Muezzin

mounted the

little

wooden minaret of the mosque

opposite the public garden, and proclaimed the

hour of prayer

in a high-pitched, nasal voice.

soon got dark when once the sun had

set,

It

and so

with due deliberation the lamplighter began to
light the

petroleum lamps which the Vali Pasha

had placed round the public garden and along the
Boulevard Diplomatique.
tall

and gaunt

old

This functionary was a

Mussulman,

^^^th

a

fierce

moustache, an embroidered scarlet jacket and

huge

fustanellc.

lucifer

He

carried

matches and an

a

a ladder, a box of

enormous green cotton

ALBANIA

74

He

umbrella.

planted

his

ladder

against the

wooden post on the top of which a common tin
lamp was insecurely fastened and, taking off the
glass chimney,

wind.

under

opened

The handle
his

his

umbrella to keep off the

of the umbrella was tucked

arm, and then balancing himself on the

rickety ladder he proceeded to strike a light with
his lucifers,

carefully

protecting the spluttering

flame with both his hands.

Naturally this was a

slow process, and by the time a dozen lamps were
lighted everybody

was

safe at

home,

for the citizens

did not go out at night, but retired to rest at a

very early hour.

when the

old

And

man had

it

was

said

by the wits that

finished fighting the lamps,

he solemnly went round again and put them
out in order to save the Pasha's

oil.

all

VI
THE
In England

down

AND

VALI'i PASHA

visits

now been cut
minimum that we no

of ceremony have

to such a perfunctory

longer take

much

HIS STAFF

notice of them, and even very

frequently neglect to pay them.
especially in the

Near East,

conducting social duties

The

this slipshod

way

of

not looked upon with

is

and the man who thinks he can dispense

favour,

with

But abroad, and

calls is
first

considered a very ill-mannered person.

interchange of

visits

and the

feast days are ceremonies of great

state calls

on

importance and

have to be conducted according to the rules and
regulations.

The^ Protocol

is

master, and must be

obeyed.

When

the Vali Pasha wished, or thought

duty, to pay

me

me
me at
I

his

a visit he considerately sent round

an orderly to say that
to

it

if it

was

entirely convenient

he would do himself the honour to

call

upon

such and such an hour, and I replied that

should do myself the honour of receiving his

excellency at the hour he liad been good enough

ALBANIA

76
to

Then

fix.

us,

and

Achmet what was

I told

Punctually

the preparations to him.

left

at the time agreed

in store for

upon a martial clanking was

heard in the street outside, the great double gates

were thrown wide open, and the Vali Pasha of the
Vilayet stalked into the

by

sequential and

cigarettes

deprecatory,

his followers,

room with

the

courtyard surrounded

Achmet, with an

his staff.

Pasha and

little

air at

bowed

in

once conthe Vali

and then, bustling about

his peculiar cat-like tread, placed

and a clean ash tray by each

As

seat.

the Pasha entered, 1 stepped forward to greet

my

guest upon the threshold and led him to the seat
of honour, at the same time begging his suite to
seat themselves, while the faithful

out to help

Achmet

hurried

Simon grind and brew the

fresh

coffee.

The

governor-general, Hussein Husni

Pasha,

was a tall, thin, grey-haired old gentleman who
"
had seen service in many wars. I say " gentleman
advisedly, for everything about him, from his small

and well-kept hands to
feet,

showed him to be a

of the old school.
in his
in

No

and well-shod

polished, courteous

Turk

one could be more courtly

manner, or more happy and unconventional

the

compliments

language but

was

his shapely

all

his

he paid.

He

spoke

no

own, not even French, and he

the better for that ignorance.

THE

VxVLI

Riza Pasha,

his

HIS STAFF

77

second in command, was a

He

man.

different

AND
was

tall

and

stout,

very-

and

his

handsome face had the appearance of belonging to
one who was always struggling against sleep and
who only kept awake out of politeness to his com-

He

panions.

spoke English fluently in a soft

fat

and was a man of some wealth and influence.
The third Pasha, Hakki, was completely unlike
He was very short, and had the
the other two.
voice,

reputation of being a brave man, nor was he at

blow

loth to

occasion.

A

his

own trumpet upon

distinguishing point about

although he was not remarkable

that,

looks,

he was probably the vainest

whole

city.

facility,

He

also

and every

him was
for

man

in

good
the

spoke English with great

having spent three years in London learn-

mining engineering.

ing

all

all

After

mastering this

subject he returned to Constantinople, where he

was promptly commissioned by the government to
translate an English medical work on midwifery
into

Turkish.

Beyond

this

English

his

and

mining knowledge had done him no good, except
that the former had enabled
self a jovial

him

to

prove him-

companion to every Englishman he

met.

The

other two were interpreters

fiote extraction,

;

one of Cor-

and the other a Dalmatian doctor.

Both spoke French, ItaUan, Turkish and Greek

ALBANIA

78

what was more, could think
The Corfiote had
in any one of those languages.
no special characteristics except a very heavy

with equal

facility and,

moustache and a way of looking stealthily out of
the corners of his eyes. The Dalmatian was a fine,

handsome man who had attached himself to
Hussein Pasha as a sort of unofficial interpreter,
and was fond of making a butt of Hakki Pasha

tall,

upon every safe opportunity.
Almost before the introductory compliments
were over the trusty Achmet entered and, with

his

his heart, presented a tray bearing the

hand upon

cups of fragrant coffee.
cigarettes for a

We all six laid aside our

moment and

sipped the steaming

liquor out of the tiny cups, and under the influence

of the coffee the

wore

off,

so

Vali to tell

preached

first stiffness

much

of our intercourse

so that the doctor

show me how they
Hakki looked
England.

Hakki Pasha

sermons

in

begged the

to

somewhat disconcerted at this ill-natured suggestion, and the Vali was too much of a gentleman to
ask him but the doctor, who had no such scruples,
;

told

me

in

French

—translating into Turkish for the

Vah's benefit as he went along

—that Hakki Pasha

sometimes at the Konak got upon a chair and
It
preached a sermon he once heard in England.

condemned

all

Turks, Jews,

everlasting punishment,

infidels

and

heretics to

and the point of the story

THE VALI AND HIS STAFF

79

of course was the absurdity of placing Turks and
infidels

a

some nondescript kind himself,
Mussulman society was more Turkish

Christian

but

than
the

in

The doctor was

the same category.

in

the

of

The

Turks.

and

conversation

hastened

Vali

said

" Tell

:

turn

to

the English

Hakki Pasha, how they gave you sugar in
"
England
Hakki's little eyes lighted up with the spirit of
fun, and he began at once, screwing up his caricature
bey,

!

of a face and acting every part of his

who had

the Vali Pasha,

vividly

while

unknown tongue

at the right places

by the

indicated

;

heard the story a hundred

times before, followed dt in the

and nodded approval

recital

which were

narrator's

wonderful

gestures.

"
ing,"

When
said

England learning engineerHakki Pasha, " I was in a boarding
I

was

in

house near the school, and the landlady was very

mean with the
East
sent

like a

it,

I

that

good deal of sweet, and

me my cup

sugar in

You know

sugar.

it

she

back and ask for more.

search out the smallest

sugar in the basin and hold
her finger and

the

of tea with only two lumps of

used to send

Then she would

so,

we in
when

thumb

"

out to

lump

of

me between

— suiting the action

word, and looking with

screwed-up eyes at

it

to the

head on one side and

his finger

and thumb which he

"

"

ALBANIA

80

pinched together as tightly as possible to indicate
the very smallest piece of sugar
it

and

like that

Hakki Bey

?

say,

'

— " she used to hold
much

Is that too

for you,

'

Then, as he reached the cream of the joke, we
all

laughed, not loudly or uproariously, but in a

and subdued manner, as people who have
heard the story before and hope to hear it again,
and the little Pasha said, " That is how they give

dignified

you sugar

England

in

exchanging compliments with

Since

entering, Riza

even

!

me

Pasha had not uttered a word, and

after the story

he only smiled sadly and con-

tinued an admiring

varnished

inspection of his

boots between the slow puffs at his cigarette.

some conversation with

Corfiote, after

informed

me

on

that the Vali

had

The

his chief,

lately

procured

some wonderful fishing tackle from England and
He knew that all Englishwas anxious to try it.
men catch fish, and so begged the favour of my

company upon his fishing expedition. He enlarged
upon the excellence of his new tackle, till at last
Hakki Pasha, not to be outdone, said "I often
catch fish, but my way is quicker, and catches
:

more

fish,

pulling

than his Excellency's," at the same time

two

or

three

cartridges

little

out of his

capacious coat pocket.
"

What

is

that, effendim

?

" said

the Corfiote.

THE VALI AND
" Dynamite," replied

the

Hakki

back into

cartridges

HIS STAFF

81

cheerfully, slipping

pocket.

his

''

catch

I

plenty offish with them."

fancy that

I

uncomfortable.

we
I

non-Moslems

three

very

felt

should not have been so amused

at that sugar story

if I

had known that the

little

poacher had dynamite cartridges shaking about in
his great pockets,

and that he murdered

unsportsmanlike a manner.

fish in so

had

he

INloreover,

already burned two holes in his coat sleeve and

made

a horrible odour

short that

it

by smoking

singed his moustache

his cigarette so

and there was

;

no knowing what the next burning stump might
set fire to.

However, no one

written in the

Book

of Fate that

destroyed that day or the next,

attempting to prevent

it.

1

I did,

it

it

we were
was

was

to be

useless our

could see that the two

dynamite any more

interpreters did not like the

than

If

stirred.

but they said nothing, knowing that any

remark would probably make the Pasha do some-

So

thing foolish out of bravado.

when

the Vali rose to take leave

;

panied him to the door he pressed

I

was not sorry

and

as I

me

to

accom-

come on

a fishing expedition in the course of the week.
1

accepted with the mental

as far

reservation

from Hakki Pasha and

possible.

The Turkish

chatting,

smoking

and

to

keep

his malpractices as

soldiers,

who had been

drinking

coffee

G

with

82

Achmet down
so, with many

ALBANIA
below,

sprang to attention, and

parting expressions of friendship,

the Pasha and his suite clanked out of
courtyard.

my

little

VII
THE ROMAN CATHOLICS OF SCODRA

The

majority of the

inhabitants of Scodra are

^loslem Albanians, the Christians being

The

half of the population.
all

Roman

Catholics,

Christians are nearly-

and

the

of Slav origin,

families are

few

having

Montenegro or the Herzegovina and

The

city.

important

Christians

than

they

are

were,

principal merchants of Scodra

Orthodox

come from
settled in the

now much more
for

they

are

the

and have acquired

wealth by trading with Austria and Italy.
are gradually adopting

than

less

European ways and,

They
when

they are met with in Trieste or Venice, seldom

wear

their

native dress, and are not to be dis-

tinguished in any
nationalities

way from

the other Near Eastern

which crowd the markets of those

cities.

The

late

war and the constitution of the new

Albanian State

and

will,

in the next

of course, change everything,

few years Europe

century nearer to Albania*

The

will

come

a

Oriental and

;

ALBANIA

84

townsmen will gradually
disappear, and everything and everybody will
become Europeanised. Under Turkish rule it was
very difficult for a Frank to know or mix with the
mediaeval attitude of the

members of the community on anything

leading

terms of intimacy, and the best time to see

like

something of the native

life

of the Christians of

the city was at the two great feasts of Easter
the

New

Year.

Then every one exchanged

of ceremony, and

solemn

whom

visits to

all

and
visits

the leading merchants paid

the consuls and foreigners with

they were on friendly terms, and also

among

The men alone came, for the shadow
of the harem was upon even the Christian women,

themselves.

and the very idea of going to pay a

visit

with their

husbands seemed grossly improper to them.
course the

women

paid visits

among

Of

themselves,

and sometimes went to a European's house to pay
a visit to his wife or daughters, but they

more

or less surreptitiously

of not meeting any
in the public

On

and made a great point

men and

of not being received

rooms.

rising every

one put on

his best clothes

not his uniform, for the business was not so
as

all

that,

went

official

but the half-way of a black coat.

Breakfast was often interrupted by the announce-

ment

of visitors.

The

native merchants usually

arrived early, partly in order to avoid the

European

THE ROMAN CATHOLICS
world, and partly because they had so

and friends to

relatives

their

call

85

many

of

on and drink

So, soon after nine o'clock, they used

coffee with.

to climb the staircase leading to the selamlik,

and

be thorouglily awake, for unless the

one had to

host had plenty to say the conversation languished,
as Oriental

manners prevailed among the mercantile

community.
contingent,

By lunch time most of the native
who felt it incumbent on them to call,

had passed through the

man

having

coffee,

offered to him,

and

come

host having to

Hitherto the callers had

symptom

Roman

just

who was

in

before

a curious

of the fluctuating opinions held by the

Catholic townsmen.

The approach
cessation
I

But

reach-me-downs.

luncheon there came a youth

of noon had

brought about a

of callers, and with door and windows

was ridding the room of the heavy clouds

of tobacco

hung about it, when
was announced. I heard him stumb-

smoke which

another caller

up the outer

and then Achmet

staircase,

opened the door and showed

in the son of

the principal Christian merchants

me

smoke and

few of the more emancipated

but a

European

ling

sweetmeats

in batches, the majority in native Scutarine

dress,

open

and

cigarettes

I as

drink with each one.

sitting-room, each

little

that morning.

^Vt first

I

who had

one of
visited

hardly recognised

ALBANIA

86

the youth, he seemed so utterly changed, and, what

was rather unusual on

A

himself.

his part,

looked ashamed of

couple of months previously he had

returned from Venice, where he had put a final
polish

on

his

education, determined to comport

himself in everything like a European.

wore a short cutaway
in the leg

coat,

He

trousers very tight

and very loose round the ankle, a

collar cut half-way

down

then

his chest,

shirt

and a billy-cock

hat with a very narrow brim on the top of his bushy
curls.

He

was more European than the Europeans

in those early days,

and spoke of

his compatriots as

questa gente, and affected the airs and graces of

But the

the modern Italian youth.
friends

and

presented

relations

had changed

himself before

me

in

ridicule of his

all that,

and he

a short scarlet

jacket embroidered with black silk and so tight in

the arms and back that he could hardly stoop.

enormous
his

pair of dark calico knickerbockers covered

form from the waist to the knee, while

were clothed

and

feet

and

elastic-sided boots.

the

flat

An

red fez with

its

in

his legs

white cotton stockings

On

his

head was balanced

heavy blue

silk tassel

;

in fact,

he had taken advantage of the Easter festivities to
discard the Frankish dress he once held so dear.

He

noticed

my

ill-concealed look of astonishment,

and excused himself somewhat awkwardly for
resuming the national dress, by no means making

THE ROMAN CATHOLICS

87

the matter better by saying that he did not

who had

with his father that morning because we,

hved

come

in Europe, did not care for such early visits,

and he thought that we could converse more
without the presence of quest a gent c.

freely

He made

these remarks, proving his superiority to the rest

of his race in good Italian, and, as a
proof, after a

few

false starts

still

further

continued his remarks

in French.
I

had noticed when he entered that he seemed

to be walking as

if

he had peas in his boots, and he

presently volunteered an explanation of this unfesti-

by observing, " Je ne puis pas
chaminer beaucoup, mes bottes sont trop strettes."

val-like state of things

He

smiled feebly as he confessed to his vanity, and

wiped

his

hands nervously with a red cotton hand-

kerchief after the

manner of

versation languished while he was
fresh

atrocity

in

The

his kind.

con-

composing a

French, and I was almost in

him when happily some
They were personal friends

despair of getting rid of

laggard callers arrived.
of

his,

and could not conceal

their grins at seeing

him again in the native dress which he had professed
to despise so vehemently only a

As
but

week

or

two

ago.

they were in a Frank's house they said nothing,

my

pseudo-Frankish acquaintance started to

his feet forgetful of the tightness of his boots,

crushing his half-smoked cigarette

and

— the fourth or

ALBANIA

88
fifth

— into

must be

when

the brazen

off as he

ashpan, declared that he

had so many

And

calls to pay.

the last callers departed never was luncheon

better earned,
tasteful

and never was luncheon more

more than

than after

eternal coffee

and

and minor

usually resolved
to the

visits

officials.

divided itself into

who were

hours

three

of

cigarettes.

The afternoon
round of return

dis-

The

two

itself

:

a

merchants

native

community

mercantile

classes

into

the conservatives,

with what their fathers had

satisfied

provided, a wide low house in a garden behind high
walls

;

and the go-aheads, who had built themselves

staring white villas in an imitation Italian style,

with a drawing-room on

the

ground

floor

and

papered walls with none of the old carved wood-

work of the native houses.

But the rooms,

if like

a barrack, were alia franca^ and that was enough to

prove the owner to be a

man above

his fellows.

The married consuls often took their wives with
them on these occasions, because it was the
greatest compliment that could be paid to a native

household to treat

it

alia

franca and not alia turca,

as the visit of the consul alone

the merchant's wife

it

would imply.

was a great day.

both she and her husband would be
dress, as

in

they were safe behind their

For

Perhaps

European

own

walls,

both looking and feeling very awkward, and she

THE ROMAN CATHOLICS
especially in constant dread that

89

something had

been put on wrong and might come to

In

grief.

the old-fashioned houses both the husband and the
wife wore their full trousers and short jackets, and

the wife always held a

handkerchief folded

flat

with which she incessantly rubbed her hands in the

no doubt, of hiding her nervousness.
the rest, she was unveiled and dressed in her

hope,

For
best,

with new, crackly Turkish trousers, beautiful gauze

embroidered

vest, a jacket

Frankish

boots

with black

silk,

and

worked with white thread, an

ornamentation which rather spoiled the rest of her
appearance.

The husband's

dress

was very

similar,

except that his baggy knickerbockers only reached
to the knee, while the wife's Turkish trousers

hung

round her ankles.
In every household the ceremony was the same.

when

the consular

invariably

took their

If there were any natives calling

party arrived they almost
leave at once.

The new-comers were then

con-

ducted to the seat of honour, and immediately a
servant,

or,

if

great respect were

intended,

a

daughter of the house, brought in the cigarettes,

which were followed by coffee in little cups balanced
on silver filagree zarfi. These zarf's were like egg
cups in shape,

and were very

necessary,

since

Turkish coffee cups have no handles and the coffee
should be boiling.

After the coffee came pink,

ALBANIA

90

green and yellow syrups in tumblers, the mixture
sickeningly sweet, and then
cigarettes

and more

coffee

and huge lumps of sweetmeat, white and

cloying to the palate.

were intensely

sticky,

or the stranger

might

An

predicament.

paying a

more

visit

These Albanian sweetmeats
and needed careful handling,
an awkward

find himself in

Austrian sea captain,

who was

to an Albanian household, once put

a whole one in his mouth, and, finding that
obstructed his speech, tried to bite
result

was that

his

it

it

The

in two.

jaws stuck together, and he was

rendered speechless and helpless for at least five

minutes before he could get
visits

were not very long,

Happily the

free.

for the conversation

was

naturally limited, and consisted chiefly in inquiries

Etiquette only

after the health of the families.

tasted,

syrup should be

that the coffee and

demanded

and the

cigarette, after a couple of whiffs,

was usually allowed to smoulder

itself

out at the

edge of the brass ashpan.

But the

visits

had to be

paid,

and the

coffee,

syrup, sweets and cigarettes had to be taken, so

when

there were ten or a dozen calls to be paid in

the course of the day the state of the Frankish
digestion at the end of

But with

tact

it

may

easily

and knowledge the

be guessed.
visits

could

generally be got through in an afternoon, and that

nearly exhausted the community, for

it

was not

THE ROMAN CATHOLICS
necessary for a consul to call on the smaller

In fact

it is

divided

91
fry.

quite possible that the native merchants

themselves

into

two

classes, those

who

were called upon by the consuls and those who

were not.

But

tliat is

a secret which has never

been divulged to Europeans.

VIII

THE COMMODORE AND HIS FLEET

Although Lake Scodra is a huge volume of water
lying among the mountains of Montenegro and
it

and

mountains

the

plains

of

North

Albania,

has never been the scene of any naval battle.

Still

the Porte, at any rate for nearly forty years,

always kept a
the

command

some

interests

fleet

commodore who, unless he had
beyond his squadron, must have been

of a

Happily

bored to death.
officer

of sorts on the lake, under

who was

for himself the

command when

in

worthy

went to

I first

Scodra was an enthusiastic gardener as well as
a

sailor.

He

lived

on shore

in a tiny cottage just

by the koiiak, and made his little garden, which
was about the size of a pocket-handkerchief, as
trim and tidy as the deck of a ship,

trimmer and
Scodra
river

tidier

is

Boiana

than the decks of his men-of-war.

twenty miles from the
is

sea,

and the

too shallow to be navigable except

in the very rainy season,

or other the

indeed far

but for

all that,

somehow

Turks managed to coax an imposing

THE COMMODORE
fleet

93

of threepenny steamboats over the rapids and

shallows of the river wlien

it

was swollen with the

autumn rains. It may be that the vessels did
some service, but the commodore was not a talkative

man, and preferred

When

the pelting rains

his flowers to his ships.
left off

and the sun made

grow with marvellous rapidity,
I made a point of going to see the commodore, as
he was then in his very happiest mood. I went
with a travelling Englishman, and as Achmet was
the young plants

engaged about the house we took

my

friend's

servant to precede us through the streets to the
casa di vapo7yi (the steamboat man's house).

This

man

deserves a line or

he was a type of the lower
town.

As

two

to himself, as

class Christian of

the

he stalked proudly in front of us with

a couple of brass-handled pistols stuck in his belt,

he was a very stately and warlike looking person,
but a few weeks ago he had been an altogether
different object.

In his childhood he played about

the narrow streets of the Christian quarter, dressed
in a thin cotton shirt in
bit of blanket in winter,

summer and wrapped

in a

and most probably learned

As
smoke when he was about seven years old.
he grew up he spent his days hanging about the
courtyard of some merchant or rich man, turning
his hand to all sorts of odd jobs when he could not
to

get his piece of maize bread without exertion, and

94

ALBANIA

at night sleeping

under the

In spite of having no

outhouse.

into a cigarette,
pistol for use

visible

and possessed a rusty old

on grand occasions.

times of disturbance,

when

an

means of

some tobacco

subsistence he always had

many

lee of a wall or in

to twist
flint-lock

In one of the
there was conse-

quently some relaxation of authority, he and some
kindred

own

spirits

took to foraging expeditions on their

account and, coming into collision with the

zaptiehs,

When

got thrown into prison.

gets into prison in

Turkey he generally

unless he has a great deal of

money

a

man

stays there,

or luck,

Giorgio proved no exception to the rule.

In

and
his

case luck opened the doors of his prison after he

had had a pretty lengthy experience of durance
vile.

His old mother, who led the same

sort of hand-

to-mouth existence as himself, was fortunate enough
to get the rough washing

and cleaning up to do at

one of the European consulates, and after some

months summoned up courage to
consul's wife to
let

petition

the

beg the consul to ask the Pasha to

her son out of prison.

The

consul, being good-

natured, promised to look into

the

matter, and

learning that Giorgio had committed no crime but

had been incarcerated

chiefly

on suspicion, one day

put the case before the Vali, with the result that
the Pasha,

who was

of course utterly ignorant of

THE COMMODORE
the whole

immediately set master Giorgio

afHiir,

When

free.

95

he came out he was a lank, lean, and

hungry-looking object, clothed simply
trousers of the thinnest cotton,

and

in a shirt

and with a

felt skull-

For some weeks he almost

cap on his head.

re-

gretted his liberty, and was inclined to repent of his

mother's influence with those in power

;

but at

last

luck befriended him again, and he was engaged as

He

servant by an English traveller.

at once dis-

carded the old shirt and trousers, and assumed the

mountaineer dress of white

embroidered with

felt

He no longer slunk about like a famished

black

silk.

wolf,

but proud of being in the service of a Frank,

and certain that a good supper awaited him
ak'sham, preceded us with head erect
stately

swagger of

The

and

after

all

the

his race.

casa di vaporfi stood between

the back

entrance to the konak and the beginning of the

A stream separated the

Boulevard Diplomatique.

road from the garden wall, and crossing the single

rough plank

that

knocked loudly
voice

within

served

as

a

bridge, Giorgio

at the great gates.

inquired

who we

Presently a

were,

and on

Giorgio replying proudly

" IngUz

gates were thrown open

and we entered.

The

he was usually

called,

commodore, or

vaporji, as

milordo

"

the

rose at our entry from the garden couch

upon which

he had been watching the watering of

his

beloved

ALBANIA

96

and we

flowers,

sat

down, one on each side of our

A sailor instantly provided us with cigarettes

host.

and brass ashpans, and then, with
heart,

his
little

us

proffered

red-hot

a

coal

sailors

host's

a

inter-

sat silently inhaling

and looking at

fragrant tobacco,

in

We

pair of tongs instead of matches.

changed compliments, and then
the

hand on

his

the four

who were watering the flowers under our
The garden was a tiny square
directions.

patch of ground wedged in between the high white

commoThe entire

walls of the neighbouring houses, with the
dore's little cottage

available space

opening into

it.

was cut up into beds by straight

paths about eighteen inches wide, which
scrupulously weeded and laid

Every bed had

shells.

its

down with powdered

flowers planted in mathe-

matically straight lines, and
tulips

it

was easy to see that

But no
take up more room than

were the commodore's

plant was allowed to

were

favourites.

another, and the whole place, trim and neat, with

every square inch put to
incontestably

that the

its

fullest use,

showed

tidiness

did not

sailor's

him when on shore.
The cottage was full of

forsake

sailors, for

the

commo-

dore naturally did not go to the expense of keeping
a servant

when he had

Lake Scodra under

his

all

the

men

command.

jacket brought us coifee, and then

of the fleet on

Another blue-

we

followed our

THE COMMODORE
host in Indian

along the narrow white paths to

file

inspect the beauties of nature and art

The commodore was
form that

him

fitted

07

man

a stout

more

in a

closely.

baggy uni-

and as he wound

like a sack,

along the tiny paths he reminded one

irresistibly

of

way

a tight-rope dancer.

However, he steered

with marvellous

never kicking a single shell

skill,

his

on to the flower beds, and explaining to us as he

went that the garden would look much better
in another week, showing us where some of his
had not

choicest specimens had been planted but

shown above ground, and pointing out the

yet

buds that lay concealed among the green shoots
of others which had come up and all with the

simplicity of a child and with

that
a

only a

Turk

or

lover

real

the grave interest

of flowers,

Dutchman, could

who

is

also

exhibit.

we resumed
was brought to us. The

After the inspection of the garden

our seats and more coffee

conversation turned upon naval matters, which the

commodore was

quite willing to discuss, though

hardly with the quiet enthusiasm with which he
discoursed on his flowers.

He

told us that before

coming to North Albania he had been in command of a gunboat in the Black Sea. We could
not discover that he had ever done anything in
particular or fought

to

have kept

his

any

actions,

boat out

of

but as he seemed
harm's

way and
II

ALBANIA

98

not to have wantonly exposed any of the Sultan's
men or ships, he was doubtless marked out for

The

on the lake originally
consisted of three boats, but one was somewhere
at the bottom of the Boiana, and so the two

promotion.

flotilla

survivors were judiciously kept in the lake in case

come

they should also

grief if they

to

again

attempted to pass the shallows and rapids of the
Then the commodore asked us if we should
river.
like

to

pleasure

go over the

and we accepted with

the final directions had been

so, after

;

fleet,

given to the four gardening

sailors,

we

set off in

procession for the bazaar and the outlet of the river

Boiana.
air

Giorgio went

first,

perhaps with a prouder

than usual; next came the commodore sandselves, while the rear

was

and

at a

we proceeded through

the

wiched between our two
brought up by two

sailors.

grave and solemn pace,
streets, past the great

Haidar Pasha

lies

In

burial

this order,

ground where Ali

buried, and, turning aside

by the

well without entering the bazaar, crossed the fields

known

to a spot

only four trees

as the
left

Twelve Trees.

There were

to stretch their tall branches

towards the cloudless sky, and a melancholy story
attached to them. Standing alone on the bank of
the

river

they had always been a mark for the

thunderstorms which are such constant
Scodra,

and gradually

their

visitors to

number had been

^..

SC'ODUA.

The Bazaar

witli exit of the

Boiana from the Lake.

SCODRA.
The road

to the

Bazaar by the Konak.

THE COMMODORE
A

reduced.

99

few years before a shepherd and

his

sheep, crouching under their shelter from the pelting

storm, had been struck by lightning and

all killed,

and the scarred trunk of one of the trees

still

standing served as a grim reminder of the reason

why

there were no longer twelve trees.

A great deal

of shouting from the two sailors

who accompanied

us brought a man-of-war's boat

We

to carry us across to the steamers.

entered

the boat, Giorgio and the two sailors remaining on

The commodore took the

shore.
lithe

tiller,

and the

and active crew from the Black Sea coast took

us rapidly towards the lake.

they did

so, for

before

And it was as well that

we had gone very far we

dis-

covered that the water was unpleasantly high in
the bottom of the boat.

The commodore

that our craft was one of

explained

two boats which had

recently been sent from Constantinople, that they

had been

mouth

of the Boiana before being brought

started.

at the

up the

trusted resignedly that they

would

the boat had been in the water a

little

and meanwhile counselled us to put our

up on the thwart

brown
are,

He

when

while,
feet

some time on the shore

and that consequently some of the seams had

river,

close

left for

sailors

in front of us.

were dressed much

except that

they

The

little

as sailors usually

wore the

fez

which has

become almost the only distinguishing part of

ALBANIA

100

many
shirt

Turks' dress, for their loose trousers, and

with the

full,

wide

collar of

dark blue cotton

might have been worn by the mariners of any
In

power.

few

a

minutes' time

we bumped

mounted the
broad and commodious ladder which hung over
Both the commodore and his second in
the side.
against the side of the flagship, and

command were

stout and

intention of scrambling

penny steamer

up the

any

in

and had no

dignified,

but

side

the

even of a

very

easiest

fashion.

The captain having seen us on the shore had
made preparations in our honour by girding on his
sword and buttoning up the front of his uniform
all

awry.

He

salaamed courteously, and the bright

blades of four sailors

drawn up

in line flashed in

the sunshine as they saluted the
Instantly

ourselves.

four

commodore and

rush-bottomed chairs

were thrust up the hatchway by an unseen hand,

and we took our
and
it

coffee

seats in a circle, while cigarettes

were handed round

would be a most

omit.

This done

duty very quickly
guns, one a

little

for firing salutes,

in the stern,

—a ceremony which

terrible breach of etiquette to

we

strolled

round the

ship, a

The vessel carried two
brass popgun in the bows used
and the other a long Krupp gun
finished.

which would

in all probability

shaken the old tub to pieces had

it

been

fired.

have
In

-NEAl;

LAKE SCODRA.

Gipsies itassing throujj;h a small town.

^

NKAi; I.AKK

S( ()I>i;a.

Moiiti'iiegrins passiiii,' tliroiii^h a small town.

THE COxAIMODORE

101

the cabin below a dozen JVIartini-Peabody

many

as

polished,

the

cutlasses,

were arranged

armament of the

As

well

all

in a stand

ship's

rifles

and

kept

and

brightly

and constituted

company.
were built

for the vessels themselves, they

Glasgow many years ago, and after doing good
service on the Clyde were bought by the Turkish

in

government

and transferred to the

There they ran to and
last

Bosphorus.

fro for fifteen years until at

the Porte conceived the brilliant idea of turn-

them into men-of-war and sending them to
On the
Lake Scodra to overawe Montenegro.

ing

wheel were recorded the builder's name and the

Poor old boats

date.

in overawing,
fro

;

but they

they were not very effective
still

did the journey to and

the lake, especially

across

when any

distin-

guished personage wished to go from Scodra to

Montenegro, and there were
transported

families

when they

times

of ragged refugees into the

already poverty-harassed city of Scodra.

The commodore evidently took a
his command, though he admitted

that he could

get no great speed out of his ships.

Pressed on

in

this point

he confessed that he did not

rate of speed, but that

it

steam to Lissendra at the

far

there

is

no

sort of pride

coal.

That

is

know

their

took several hours to

end of the lake.

a great drawback.

times a ship brings coal and leaves some at

" No,

Some-

Medua

ALBANIA

102
for the squadron,

but there has been none for some

The vessels therefore had to burn
wood, and when they crossed the lake the whole
time past."

deck was cumbered with firewood, so that at
there was hardly

room

first

to move, but the furnaces

burned such a quantity that the

pile

was soon

diminished.

The

captain told us with considerable satisfac-

tion that he could speak English, but as he
this

avowal in Turkish

we were

made

naturally rather

dawned upon us that the
queer sounds with which he followed up his assersceptical until

it

slowly

tion were English

words of command

stopper, bakker, turnerastern, goaed."

— " Easer,

The captain

reeled off the phrases in a

low voice without a

inflection, looking

very like a sheepish

pause or

schoolboy repeating a French lesson.

He

also

gave us the English names for parts for the engine

and gear,

for the

Turks have adopted the English

terms for machinery and the

like,

and the Turkish

language even boasts such a verb as Trnrstrn-etmk,

which means " to turn her

astern."

But the sun was drawing near IMount Rumia,
and

if

we wished

to be

home

before aksham

we had

commodore expressed
his intention of remaining on board for some time
longer, we took our leave of him and the captain,
and once more entrusted ourselves to the leaky

to leave at once.

So, as the

THE COMMODORE
boat.

On

rather bored

shore Giorgio received us,

by

his

103
evidently

long wait, and after giving a

present to the boat's crew

we

joined the crowd of

merchants going home from the bazaar, and reached
the house just as the muezzin was mounting the
rickety

wooden minaret of the mosque near

door and preparing to
evening prayer.

summon

my

the Faithful to the

IX
THE MALISSORI CHIEF

He was a man

of about five feet ten in height, with

broad shoulders and lean flanks, straight as a dart,
He looked a mass of
and firmly set on his legs.

and whipcord, and any one who had
conclusions with him in a rough and tumble

steel

tried

fight

would have judged such a description rather an
under-statement of the case.

was evidently a gala day with him, for he
His
was dressed in all his best and newest.
trousers were tight and close-fitting, made of white
It

felt

embroidered with black

Round the calves

silk.

and ankles they were moulded to his legs, but over
the foot they spread out something like spats. His
waistcoat was also of white

black

silk,

felt

embroidered with

double breasted and adorned with

sleeves beneath which,

the gauze of his

shirt,

and at

his throat,

full

showed

a garment which he did not

usually wear but which he had put on in honour
of the occasion.

On

his left breast

hung three

silver medals,

two

THE MALISSOIU CHIEF

105

of which showed that he had served the Padishah

and the third was an English

war,

in the last

Crimean medal which he had inherited from
father.

a

In his red

couple

Prisrend,

sila,

or pouch-belt, were thrust

of gold-inlaid

yataghan

silver-hilted

with a Damascus blade,

arms which

more than

his shoulders

Over

short, sleeveless, black felt jacket,

from

pistols

flint-lock

and a splendid

his Hfe.

his

he valued
he wore a

and on

head

his

wound

a white felt skull cap, round which was

a

gauze scarf or turban with the ends coming under

On

the chin and falling over the back.

were raw hide sandals

o^'e^

his feet

thick white socks, an

unusual thing for him to wear, which marked that

he was going to some ceremony where

His face and

be etiquette to remove the shoes.

hands were
gilt rings,

like leather, in his ears

and on the

little

would

it

he wore

silver-

finger of his right

hand

the heavy silver ring of the mountain dandy.

moustache was long and

bristling,

from tight-set

nose was

lips

;

his

His

brushed away
aquihne and

well shaped, and his eyes dark and piercing under
his

heavy brows.

stride, like a

king

He

stalked with

among men,

a

his right

leisurely

hand

rest-

ing on the carved silver hilt of his yataghan, and
his

quick haw^k-like eyes turning to right and

as he went, in search of a possible enemy.

left

In spite

of his fierce appearance he was a Christian, and

ALBANIA

106
according to

lights

his

a fervent

CathoHc, for

he was Nik Leka, a chief among the Skreh, a
the Mahssori of

of

tribe

the

North Albanian

mountains.
Presently this proud and magnificent personage

turned across a httle bridge that spanned a stream

by the

way

of the

knocked

A

and strode up to the huge gate-

roadside,

Consulate-General, upon which he

as one

who

has a right to

demand

entry.

guttural voice hurled a question through the

and he replied with such dignity that

solid oak,

the broad portals were at once thrown open by

Simon, the kavass, in
a belt full of pistols,

him,

which

to

he

benevolent growl.

fustanelle, scarlet jacket

who grunted
responded

a

and

welcome to

with an equally

Then, as he was on a mission

of peace, he turned into the kavasshana almost

with an

air

of proprietorship, and handed over his

weapons to the occupant, much
as a rich
his

Frank deposits

banker.

But

his wife's

Albania

in

valuable than diamonds,

in the

for

diamonds with

pistols

on them

depend from one moment to another.
gave a shake to
of

its

his waistcoat,

same way
are
life

more

may

Then he

now disencumbered

burden, and mounted the broad flight of

stone stairs leading to the old, deep-eaved house.

At

the top of

general, brought out

the steps stood the consul-

by the

clatter of his visitor's

THE MALISSOUl CHIEF
arrival,

107

and welcomed him with outstretched hand,

Nik Leka shook rather bashfully after
Then it
hurriedly giving the .Turkish salutation.
which

became evident that the

who would have
blenching.
hesitating

He
in

chief

was nervous, he

faced a Turkish regiment without
shuffled off his sandals,

and stood

coarse white socks.

But the

his

reassuringly as

him by the hand, and, talking
one would to a child, led him,

walking shghtly

in advance, across the hall to the

consul-general seized

inner

room which had once been the harem

of the

old house and was

now

Consulate-General.

Then the reason of the

the dining-room of the
chiefs

shght nervousness became apparent. In the dining-

room were assembled the

rest of the family and,

appalling to contemplate, the ladies.

Nik Leka

had been of some service to the consul-general
and, as it was impossible to offer him money, he

had been invited to luncheon

When
ladies

he

alia franca.

he entered the presence of the Frankish
absolutely

refused

remained standing, flashing

to

sit

down, but

his eyes a trifle

fticedly at the consul-general's wife

shame-

and daughter,

and salaaming with a simple dignity which no
To Nik Leka his
courtier could have surpassed.

womenfolk acted

as

servants

;

they waited upon

him at all times, and when he ate they stood
humbly by until he had finished before they

ALBANIA

108

ventured to take the dish aside and eat

He

themselves.

had been told that the Franks

women

allowed their

among

to eat with them, and even

with other men, but he had hardly believed this to

be true, so for fear of transgressing he stood quite

and salaamed again, giving a greeting

still

He

guttural Albanian.

the

ladies

women

m

did not feel abashed at

being unveiled, because mountaineer

never hide their faces and, except that they

are as servants in the house, are treated with the
greatest respect.

by the

body

Happily the tension was relieved
brought in by Noce, the

arrival of dinner,

servant,

who was an Albanian townsman,

and who could

hardly

stifle

grins

his

thought of a mountaineer eating
the master's harem.
grins, for

brass

discreetly

Nik Leka had sharp

ramrod

that he

But he

his

and a long

and

in the future

the

franca in

subdued

eyes,

in his belt downstairs,

would remember

alia

at

it

might be

on a country

road any intempestive mirth on Noce's part.

The

chief

was given the place of honour

hostess' right hand,

entrusted

and with evident misgivings

himself to

attempt to curl

a

his legs

and

chair,

Out

forbore

the

up under him, which he

was sharp enough to see would
disaster.

at the

certainly entail

of the corner of his keen eyes he

watched to see

how

his

hosts

strange objects in front of him.

acted with the

At

every

moment

THE MALISSORI CHIEF
there was something

new

:

109

a napkin, a niultipHcity

of knives, spoons and forks, phites, and a table

covered with strange and outlandish utensils, even

no mountain house had ever
At home, when he ate meat or cheese,
contained.
he simply squatted down before the low table, on
flowers,

such as

which the food was placed, and drew

his sheath

knife, a knife that did equally well for cutting

meat, bread and cheese, or for finishing

off'

up

a wild

boar or an enemy; but here this superfluity of

unaccustomed

tools puzzled him.

betray his ignorance,

He

would not

though he did not mind

for,

not understanding the ways of the Franks, he

knew

that

Noce was

familiar with the use of all

these things, and the thought half shaped itself in

mind that perhaps a mere townsman might
be mocking at his want of knowledge behind his
So with marvellous adroitness he watched
back.
his hosts and imitated them in every particular,

his

and Noce, who was bursting to prove
ority, did

his superi-

not dare to offer the slightest hint to the

great warrior.

And
credited

of

a great warrior

Nik Leka was.

him with having

them with the

slain

many men, but

Moreover, he had

bearded the Pasha, or rather one of his

Konak

all

strictest attention to the etiquette

of the Albanian mountains.

the

Humour

itself

officers, in

with thousands of soldiers

all

ALBANIA

no

round, and with only one or two of his tribesmen
within

It

hail.

happened when he was

the Vali Pasha about some tribal

affiiir,

visiting

and he and

a lesser chief were at the council with the Pasha

and

all his officers.

in his attitude

He

was simple and haughty

and language, and so

a

irritated

major newly arrived from Constantinople who did
not understand the ways of mountaineers, that the

unwary

officer

ventured to

the

tell

Dog

of a

Christian not to speak so freely in the presence of
his

Nik Leka knew

Excellency the Vali Pasha.

enough Turkish to understand that without the
help of the interpreter. In two bounds he was
across the room, had seized the officious major

by

the throat, and was about to avenge himself for the
insult,

half a

when he was dragged from his victim by
dozen of the council, who knew that the

major's

life

might pay

Nik Leka was only

his

for

pacified

ignorant speech.

by an assurance from

the Vali Pasha that the major had spoken out of

an empty head, and by a humble apology forced

from the astonished

offisnder,

who

could not under-

stand such an attitude on the part of a Christian

who was
his seat

not even a Frank.

Nik Leka returned

on the divan, where he

sat

to

through the rest

of the proceedings with his moustaches bristling
like those of

his stay in

an angry

tiger.

During the

rest of

Albania the major from Constantinople

THE MALISSORI CHIEF

111

took good care never to olFend in that way again,

and Nik Leka's reputation increased accordingly
both in the city and in the mountains.

But for the chief himself a luncheon alia franca
was a much more serious and awe-inspiring event.
In spite of the novelty of all around him, by
watching carefully he managed to do as the Franks
did,

and

his native tact

through with hardly a
topics of conversation

and dignity pulled him

slip.

There are not many

common

to a mountaineer

and a Frank, even a Frank who under-

chieftain

stands the native

but with Noce

mind

as the consul-general did,

for interpreter,

and an adroit

series

of questions, the talk never flagged more than was
necessary to allow

Nik Leka

to

make

a hearty

meal in his unaccustomed surroundings.
luncheon was plentiful but not elaborate.
chief's palate

was used only to the

The
The

plainest food,

and he drank no wine, nothing but water fresh
from the deep well

Handicapped

as

in the yard

by the kavasshana.

he was by having to manipulate

his food

with strange instruments, and by being

deprived

of the proper use of his fingers, the

natural

means of conveying food to the mouth,

which, in their foolishness, the Franks neglect, he

made

a hungry mountaineer's meal, and happily

forbore to return thanks for the hospitality in the

Oriental manner.

ALBANIA

112

He

must have been

as relieved as

were, though neither side showed
coffee

hosts

his

when

it,

the

and the cigarettes were handed round,

there he was in his
cio-arettes

own

country.

With

for

and

coffee

he was to the manner born, and the zarfs,

which the httle cups were placed, extorted
first tribute of admiration, for he knew them
in

worked

silver

his

for

from Prisrend and could appreciate

tliem as a connoisseur, whereas the trappings of the

luncheon table were so

For

to him.

many Frankish

own comfort he was

his

mysteries

not offered

another chair, but was conducted to a broad, low

divan by the side of the room, on which he could
little
curl one leg up under him in comfort.

A

octagonal table was placed in front of him, on

which stood

his coffee

cup and ash

tray,

and

after

smoking the cigarettes and drinking the coffee
which custom enjoined on him, he salaamed with
stately dignity to the ladies and was again conducted across the

little hall

to the door

by the

consul-general.

There he once more put on

raw hide

and with a warm interchange of
their respective and mutually

sandals,

compUments

in

unknown

tongues,

parted

the

at

top

the
of

consul-general

the

steps,

and

his

he

both heartily

thankful that the ceremony had gone off without a
hitch.

The kavass returned Nik Leka

his pistols

and

THE MALISSOKI CHIEF

113

yataghan with the added respect due to one who

had successfully broken bread with the Konsolos

Pasha

in his harem,

and who was apparently none

the worse for the ordeal.

There may have been

an extra touch of stateliness as the chief strode
through the wide gateway into the

street,

would not have been noticed by any but
friends.

He

but

it

his nearest

had too much native dignity to show

astonishment at anything, though

it is

more than

probable that his experiences at the Frankish feast

provided material for his abrupt and staccato style
of conversation for a long while afterwards.

how, he looked upon the entertainment
additional

medal upon

his breast,

Any-

as a kind of

almost ranking

with the silver Queen's head which his father had

won

in the Crimea,

and which he wore by the right

of inheritance by the side of his

own

decorations.

X
ALBANIAN BLOOD-FEUDS

ScoDRA has
reputation

for
for

many

centuries past had an evil

blood-feuds

and

assassinations,

Here, as in most other semi-civilised communities,
the law has always been extremely uncertain, and

yataghan

the

And more

pistol

recently there

mountains

the

and

for

prompt and

decisive.

was no need to go into

evidence

on

point.

this

Between the end of the public garden and the
entrance to the Konak was a long lane or passage
between two high walls, which shut in houses and

At

gardens on each hand.

the top of this passage

were the great gates of two houses and at the
bottom of it sat a mountaineer in Mirdite costume,
;

with a

he

sat

For hours together
there looking up and down the road, and

rifle

across his knees.

guarding the entrance to the lane leading to his
After a time he was reheved by a
chiefs house.

man

the counterpart of himself,

upon the vacated stone
after

;

who took

and then the

his seat

first

stretching himself and exchanging

guard,
a

few

ALBANIAN BLOOD-FEUDS
words with

his relief,

115

slowly strode up the lane

and disappeared through one of the great gates
That stone by the side of the road
at the top.

was never without a mountaineer with
across his knees, and his pistol in his

smoking

cigarettes

and

his

rifle

calmly

sila,

with

exchanging nods

passers-by of his acquaintance.

In one of the houses at the end of the lane

who had

there lived an agha of INIiddle Albania,
fled

from

his

with

feud

own country on account
neighbouring

a

family

of a bloodgreater

of

strength and importance than his own.

The

chief

of the most powerful family in the agha's district

was

a

young bey, who had been educated

France, and who,

besides

in

the habit of wearing

Frankish dress, had brought back from Europe
only the vices of his school-fellows and none of
their

few

trifling

virtues.

matter, this

the face

;

In an altercation

young bey struck the agha

in

Montagus and
and retainers of the two

and, instantly, like the

Capulets, the relatives
chiefs

on some

drew

pistol

and yataghan upon one another,

and a brisk skirmish ensued, in which several men
were killed and more wounded. For some time
the houses of the two chiefs were in a state of
siege,

and whenever the

street or in

rival factions

met

in the

the bazaar, a free fight occurred, to

the temporary

uiterruption

of business.

These

;

ALBANIA

116

constant battles became such a nuisance, and were

on

carried

government

at last interfered,

and succeeded

the agha and his family

deporting

where they lived more or

less as state prisoners,

Nearly every day the agha quitted

and

fortified

on

marched a

in his girdle.

came the agha, a
still

retainer with a

About

tall, lean,

but looking about

were

his walled-

rifle

and a perfect arsenal of smaller

his shoulder,

weapons

field.

house and went for a walk in the

First

afternoon.

in

Scodra,

to

leaving the bey's family masters of the

in

Turkish

the

that

ruthlessly,

so

five

well-knit

yards behind

man

of

fifty,

His long moustaches

thirty.

golden-brown and

his sun-burnt, clean-

shaven face was smooth and without a wrinkle.

His head was shaved above the forehead and on
the top his hair was cropped close and covered
;

with a

fez,

so that no gray hair told of advancing

He

wore the mountaineer costume of tight
but his waistcoat was
trousers and short jacket
age.

;

a blaze of gold embroidery that almost hid the

crimson- velvet ground on which

and
gold

his trousers
lace.

He

it

was worked

were seamed with heavy

stripes of

wore jack-boots reaching to just

below the knee, and they were triumphs of his
boot-maker's art, being worked all over with gold

and

silver

device.

wire in

And

so

many
he

a fantastic pattern and
stalked

proudly

along,

ALBANIAN BLOOD-FEUDS

117

glancing iihout him with eyes like a hawk, his

hand

on the carved

resting

silver

butt of his

Behind him, at intervals of about a yard,

pistol.

followed his two sons, each one with his right

hand grasping a weapon

;

and bringing up the rear

came two more IMirdites with rifles and pistols.
They marched along at a slow and stately pace
in

Indian

file

at

the side of the road, without

exchanging a word except w^hen, at rare

intervals,

the chief jerked a word over his shoulder at the

son following him, and received a grunt in reply.
In this cheerful fiishion they strode along past
the

public

garden

through

the streets to the

Turkish quarter, where perhaps they visited an
acquaintance

;

and then they stalked home again

were attending their own
Some day they expected to meet a body
funerals.
of their enemies in the street, for they owed blood
to the bey's family and then a battle would begin

as solemnly as if they

;

where

they

stood,

and unlucky would be the

European or otherwise, who did not
bolt to the nearest place of shelter, for rifles and
pistols would ring sharply out, and bullets wiiistle
up and down the road with little regard for harm-

passer-by,

less

men going

company

about their lawful business.

of the Turkish zaptiehs joined

in.

If a

under

the pretence of separating the combatants, matters

would be ten times worse,

for these latter

might

ALBANIA

118
be

to

trusted

Martini-Peabodies

their

fire

would

in all

of both parties

upon

" promiscuously " at the crowd, and

draw the

probability

fire

themselves for interfering in matters which did

would
under
little

most

suffer

who

spectators

cover
or

And

them.

concern

not

had

in

people

the

would

be

not

been

unwilhng

the

to

get

there

was

able

Happily,

time.

who

no chance of such a catastrophe,

Scodra was, even then, getting too

for

civilised for

and the Pasha knew
such things occur, when he had

faction-fights in the streets,

better than to let

four or five consuls in the

the

and

mre,

telegraph

town
the

at

one end of

ambassadors

at

So the bey's family
watched, and any large

Constantinople at the other.

was no doubt carefully
party of them would
prevented

from

been

the

city,

entering

ventured to approach

body of men

have

it

;

promptly

had

they

and without a strong

would have been madness to
attack our friend the agha, for he was well
guarded, and, moreover, under the protection and
it

surveillance of the government.

But isolated affairs of honour were by no
means rare, and men who had blood-feuds were
frequently shot

The month
in

such

down

in

the streets or bazaar.

of llamazan was particularly fruitful

efforts

to

obtain

justice

or

revenge.

"

ALBANIAN BLOOD-FEUDS
During

this

119

good Mussuhnan may

month, no

touch food or drink from sunrise to sunset

may

he

not even drink a single cup of coffee or smoke

a soHtary cigarette.

what a painful
in

;

It

can easily he imagined

when Ramazan

trial this is

the summer, and

how

occurs

must be

terrible

this

enforced abstinence from food and drink under a
broiling July or

scrap of vegetation
fallen for

blast

when almost every
burnt up, when no rain has

August
is

sun,

months, and the very

The

from a furnace.

and sunrise are so short

air

seems

in the

summer

that there

time for feasting, and the long hours of

is little

daylight can with difficulty be whiled
sleep,

like the

hours between sunset

even

if

there

is

away

in

no work to be done in the

bazaar or in the city.

And

so every

now and then during llamazan

groups of hungry and thirsty INIussulmans might
be seen standing at their gates, watching for the
sun to go down, and scowling savagely at the
" dogs of Christians "
puffing

their

cigarette

meal at midday, and
could

drink

who went

all

day.

cheerfully about

smoke

after

a

good

much

coffee

as

they

as

It

by

no

means im-

proved their tempers to see well-fed "
going

home

while

they

were

infidels

watching

for

the guns from the castle, with which sunset was
saluted during llamazan, to

tell

them

that their

"

ALBANIA

120

sixteen-hour fast was over
shot

down

;

and so more men were

in private quarrels

during that month

than any other month of the whole year.

few years

a

Ramazan

shot

in

but every year the number of these

;

murders

grew

becoming

civilised,

for

less,

Still,

slowly

about once a month

regularly throughout the year,

having bothered

was

Scodra

and the influence of Europe

more powerful.

getting

men were

fourteen

ago,

Only

me

Simon the cook

to decide whether muscular

fowl or leathery beef would be less distasteful to

me

for

dinner,

stood

in

fez

hand,

evidently

brimming over with news. I felt that I was
expected to inquire what the news was, and I did
"

so.

Has your

lordship heard," he said eagerly,

" that Hassan has shot the son of that Hussein

Simon always
by

"

referred to his fellow-countrymen

names, prefixing with airy indefinite-

their first

ness the

pronoun "

What Hassan

that."
?

" I

remarked, for there were

probably two or three hundred in the
"

?

The son

of that

Selim

who

city.

lives

near the

bazaar."

Having
"

Why did
"

How

localised

my

he shoot Hussein
should I

know

?

man,

I

proceeded:

"
?

The

evil

one entered

into his head."

As

the occurrence happened so recently,

it

was

ALBANIAN BLOOD-FEUDS
difficult to extract

facts

from

my

more than

a bare outline of

The next

cook.

day,

had time to discuss the matter
friends over a glass or

me

full

the

man was

two of

and marvellous

;

when he had

fully

with

his

he used to give

raid,

details

121

but on the day

shot his brain had not time to grasp

more than the simple

fact that

one

man had

shot

quarrels

were

another.

The

unhappy

causes of these

frequently very

trivial.

A

dispute over a

cards, or a jostle in the bazaar

would

game

at

suffice to

man fire upon his neighbour and shoot him
dead.
And the matter did not end there. Every
member of the murdered man's family was bound

make

in

a

honour to seek out and shoot the murderer

wherever he could find him.

If he could not find

the actual homicide, then he had to
or the son, or
this

some near

manner appeased the

relative
spirit

kill
;

the brother,

and having

in

of his murdered

kinsman, the right of blood passed over to the
family of the original murderer, and they in their

turn might

lie

in wait for one of their enemy's clan,

picking out for choice an only son, or the

man

whose death would cause the greatest grief and
These feuds went on
distress to the opposite side.
from generation to generation, and the original
cause of some of them was lost in antiquity.
In

1857

the

Turkish

government

made

a

ALBANIA

122

vigorous attempt to put
over

wandering

houseless

mountains on
tribe

Mirdites

;

the vendetta, for

hundred men of Scodra alone were

five

every

down

and

among

homeless

Nearly

account of blood-feuds.

accepted

the

the

excepting

truce

but the wild law of a

the

life

was

for a life

never finally stamped out, and never will be until
a firm and settled government makes
tration of justice

by the

respected

The Roman

its

adminis-

independent of baksheesh, and
tribes as

without fear or favour.

Catholic priests did their best to stop

the blood-feud in the mountains, but without avail.

A

reforming young priest once went so far as to

excommunicate a man who had notoriously
persons in a blood-feud.

several

killed

The murderer,

beUeving himself shut out from heaven, not by

own

his

misdeeds, but by the over-zealous action of the

upon him, and threatened him with
death if he did not then and there withdraw

priest, called

instant

the sentence of excommunication.
tried

to

shuffle

out

of

it,

but

mountaineer was inexorable, and
his absolution,

marched

The poor
in
after

off with the

vain

A

own

quarrel

because

one

cartridges,

;

the

obtaining

warning that

His Reverence had better confine himself
future to his

priest

for the

province.

once

arose

between two friends

had promised the

other

fourteen

and afterwards refused them, and

as a

;

ALBANIAN BLOOD-FEUDS
consequence, twelve

A

day.

families

men

their

lives

origin in a pig eating the

its

one

in

between two mountaineer

terrible feud

had

lost

123

young

crops of a neighbour as they were springing up.

The owner

of the crops shot the pig, and the owner

of the pig instantly shot the slayer of his animal

and many years passed and many

lives

were

lost

before this blood-feud was appeased and the bcssa
established.

But often the causes of a blood-feud

Many

were serious enough.
girl

arose from a

young

having been carried off without her parents'

consent, and in Albania any insult to a

woman

An

injured

was promptly punished with death.
husband was bound to avenge the

stain

on

his

family and himself by shooting the offender,

or

ever remain a disgraced and dishonoured man.

One day

was going along a

I

Turkish quarter when
of a

rifle

saw a head and the

When

I

reached the spot I saw

young INIussulman of the town

a large

stone,

like

for

to his enemy's house,

weeks past he had been watching

that doorway for several hours a day.
footsteps

corner, as he did

calmly on

In the street I had just

come up was the entrance
and every day

sitting

the agha's mountaineer, but

with a different purpose.

heard

barrel

protruding round the corner of a by-street

just ahead of me.

a

I

street in the

coming,

when

I

he peeped

came along

;

When
round

he

the

but generally

ALBANIA

124
he sat on

whence he could

his stone,

His family was

gateway.

was going to

The avenger

bazaar.

owner

at feud with the

of the house, and the last victim
brother, shot as he

just see the

who

fell

was

his

shop in the

his

of blood was a

youth

tall

about twenty-three years of age, and he used to
wait patiently in the hope that his

enemy

or his

enemy's son would come out of those great gates,

might avenge

so that he

him
fire

They owed

his brother.

blood, and so, until he had fired, no one could

The

upon him.

inhabitants of the house

now and

that they were watched, and

the young

son

man was

slipped

out,

then,

knew
when

not at his post, the father or

and

returned

after

stealthily

aksham ;

but the servants, women, and cousins

moved

and out

man

in

no

touches a woman, and the distant relatives

were

comparatively

offender

fellow's

enemy

left

a

bullet

rifle

safe

long

long

as

A

was unharmed.

young

He

freely all day, for in Albania

vigil

his

the

chief

day came when the

was

the house thinking

avenged

as

successful

all safe,

;

the

and then

dead brother's blood.

waited long and patiently, and until he had

attained his object did not raise the siege of the

house.
for

Nothing could turn him from

he would be disgraced

his purpose,

for ever if his brother's

murder had gone unavenged.
Along the street which

we knew

as

the

ALBANIAN BLOOD FEUDS
Boulevard Diplomatique, not

from the stone on

far

was

whicli the avenger of blood

125

sitting, there

used

to stroll a personage in a large measure accountable
for the persistence of the blood-feud in Albania.

He

was a stout

little

gentleman

in a

Stambouli

uniform, with his fez slightly on the back of his
head, and his hands crossed behind him, twiddling

amber

a string of
little

man,

solemnly,

although

was a

jovial- looking

he walked so slowly and

with his two secretaries or attendants

He

behind him.
for

He

beads.

represented the blind goddess,

he was the supreme judge of the mercantile

He

court.

plausible

was

also

Levantine Greek and a

a

and unscrupulous rogue.

With what

a charming air of

courtesy he saluted us

!

how

old-fashioned

politely

and even

eloquently he discoursed of indifferent topics of the

day

!

In his court he was just as polite

knew

suitors

that

it

was quite

the judge on their side,

;

but the

as well to

and that

have

his taste for

curious and antique works of art was rather

expensive than his salary

more
would permit him to

somehow or other, before an
important case came on, valuable rugs or chased
silver ornaments used to find their way to the

gratify

;

and

so,

judge's house as presents.
Skreli

Should Barbelushi and

go to law, and should Barbelushi,

relying on what he considered the

foolishly

justice of his

ALBANIA

126
cause,

omit

to

play

counter-move

a

to

the

gloriously patterned carpet that had mysteriously

found

way

its

President's,

from

Skreli's

he inevitably

was too simple

for a

house

lost his case

moment's doubt.

;

the

to

the matter

But

let

us

suppose that a friend of Barbelushi had informed
our

little

acquaintance that a pistol with a mag-

nificently

carved

acceptance,

and

silver

that

only

modesty had prevented

was awaiting

butt

Barbelushi's

him from

his

native

offering

it

long since as a testimony of regard for so upright

and learned a judge

;

then the matter became

more complicated, and it required all the ingenuity
and tact of a Greek to see that justice was done.
When the case came on the President of the
Court was even more courteous and affable to the
litigants

than usual

;

he had weighed the matter

over well, and had decided,

had plenty of carpets
lushi's pistol

we

will say, that

for the present

;

he

that Barbe-

was a very handsome specimen, and

by judicious hints the fellow to it,
which he knew was in existence, might be enticed

that perhaps

from Barbelushi's house to

his

own.

When

arguments had been heard, the President and

the
his

two colleagues conferred over the matter before
giving their judgment, and the former spoke very
strongly in favour of the justice of Barbelushi's

claim

— so strongly in fact that

the two colleagues,

ALBANIAN BLOOD-FEUDS
seeing which

way

blowing, and

was

the wind

127

being too wise in their generation to oppose their

gave their votes

chief,

Thereupon

for Barbelushi.

the President played a master stroke, and gave his

own

vote for Skreli

ment was recorded
rejoiced at

winning

Barbelushi.

for

The

his suit, returned the

most grateful thanks
skill in

but being outvoted, judg-

;

for the

latter,

judge

his

eminent justice and

the law displayed by his Excellency

and

;

going home at once despatched the second

pistol

as a proof of his gratitude.

But poor

Skreli

was naturally much disap-

pointed, and fancied that his carpet was lost for

However, he was too good a

nothing.

away,

thrown

President took the

the

so

fish to

be

first

opportunity of condoling with him on his misfortune, and assured

him that

it

was entirely owing

to the majority being on the other side

;

for that,

would show, he himself
all this was said with so

as the records of the court

voted for Skreli.

much

apparent

sorrow that

And

sympathy,

his efforts

his

next

fied

;

so

much

was almost consoled

and went home resolving that before

lawsuit a

much

become the property of
a judge.

with

should have been unavail-

ing, that the simple Skreli

for his loss,

and

And

and the

better

carpet

should

thus

all

worthy and upright
parties were quite satis-

law,

as

in

so

other

parts

of

the

ALBANIA

128

world, got the oyster while the litigants got the
shells.

But
at last,

tricks,

however cunning, get seen through

and the judge and

his predecessors in office

were no doubt largely responsible

for that hole in

The owner

the wall of the house opposite to us.

of the house evidently did not think his white wall
disfigured

by the

trouble to plaster

he had not taken the

hole, for
it

up, though

it

was probably

plugged on the inside to keep out the draught.

There were two kinds of justice

in Albania,

and

the bullet hole served as the visible sign of one, as
the President of the Court did of the other.
before the

Ottomans were heard

of,

Long

the law of the

blood-feud and of the responsibility of the family
for the

code

misdeeds of

known

;

members was the only

and under the Turks the Albanians

had not become
the

all its

sufficiently civilised to perceive

advantages of the government method, so

them who had not mixed much with
Europeans used to draw their pistols when they
met an enemy, instead of dragging him before the
Usually the Mussulmans of the town and
court.
the Christians of the mountains went everywhere

those of

with pistols and yataghan in their belts

only the

The justice

Christians of the city carried no arms.

of

;

the law-court was uncertain, expensive, and

unsuited

to

a

nation

of

warriors

;

while

the

ALBANIAN BLOOD-FEUDS

129

blood-feud was honourable and cost no more than a

charge of powder and a bullet.

And

so the streets

and bazaar of Scodra used to be enlivened by
an interchange of shots whenever the members
of

which

families

had

blood

between

them

encountered one another.

But

all this

new kingdom
blood-feud,

was part of the old regime.

of Albania will of course abolish the

a

thing

priests did very

law-courts'

far

not endeared

some
to

little

make

which

the Turks and the

frequently, but without finality.

The

Europeans

The

method of
itself

settling disputes has so

to

the

tribesmen,

and

must not be astonished if it takes
time and a good deal of persuasion

the Albanians conscious of

its

beauties.

XI
IN

Living

in

THE AI>BANIAN MOUNTAINS

Scodra did not mean uninterrupted

dence in the

resi-

In order to gain a real and clear

city.

idea of the people, mountaineers as well as towns

men,

it

was necessary to make many excursions into

the country,
expeditions,

to

visits

and so

myself sitting on

it

an

an Albanian cottage
looking

down

the distant
lithe,

the villages and shooting

happened
old
in

that

found

I

packing-case
the

outside

Great Mountains,

a long arid slope of stony plain to

hills

across the lake.

At my

side a

broad-shouldered mountaineer sat cross-legged

upon a thick cloak spread upon the boards. It
was a brilliantly hot afternoon in July, and the sun
would have been unbearable were it not for a row
of poplar trees which sheltered us from the heat

without obscuring the view, and so

companion

sat still in the

thin blue rings
floating lazily

not talk very

upwards
;

and

my

shade and watched the

smoke from our

of

much

I

in the

heavy

air.

cigarettes

We

did

but as the mountaineer was

THE ALBANIAN MOUNTAINS

IN
an

intelligent

man and

actually spoke

131

Italian,

I

gained a good deal of information from him at
first

He

hand.

was a keen

politician in his

way,

and had wonderful odds and ends of knowledge
stowed away

in his brain

but

;

his little

world was

only the mountain and plain of North Albania,

and

his

idea

Europe

of

was entirely

derived

from what he saw of the Austrian Lloyd steamers
at the port of

As he

Medua.

discoursed upon his

fellow-countrymen, the Sultan, JNIontenegro, and
the Great Powers

—utterly

bewildered by matters

which are to a European the simplest things

in the

—he seemed to me like a man groping

in the

world

dark, straining his eyes to pierce the

draws so impalpable and yet

between him and what he

so

seeks.

gloom that

dense

a

veil

And somehow,

on that dreamy afternoon, when mountain, plain
and lake slept under the July sun, I found myself
half slipping into his

mode

of thought

leaned back against the cottage

;

and

waU and

as I

looked

with half-shut eyes at the blue haze quivering in
the valley below,

my

thing of the remote past
lived

in

Albania,

Perhaps, after
the

all,

European

Frankish
quarrels

tribes,

among

Ufe in England seemed a
;

I

instead

seemed to have always
of only a few years.

the Shkypetars were right and

sovereigns

were

only

who took advantage

chiefs

of

of
the

the Sultan's subjects to further

ALBANIA

132
their

own

All other countries seemed

petty aims.

vague and unreal, and only the

politics of the

rocks and lowlands of Albania appeared of any

consequence.

Soon

my

course
all

was

I

friend

knew

wandered
Prankish

their

in

about

the

much

tribes,

own

;

and

little

territories

as his

own

Of

dream.

that I was an Inglese

the Inglese were very rich

have no room

my

from

roused

;

that

that, as

they

country, they

of

other

the

clan of Skreli

was forced by want of pasturage to migrate every
year to the richer land by the coast near
so,

to increase his knowledge,
as

delicately

in

possible,

Medua

he asked

me

order not to hurt

;

as

my

by the comparison, whether London was as
I informed him that in my country
Scodra.

feelings

big as

there were a thousand towns bigger than Scodra,

and that he might
in a straight line

ride

for three or

hours

four

through the bazaars and streets

London without getting out into the country.
The struggle between increduhty and politeness

of

was plainly shown on the mountaineer's

saw that

I

assertion,

and that he looked upon

plainly

—as

had

a

lost greatly in his

liar.

He knew

face

and

;

esteem by

me —to

from

my

put

priests

I

it

and

other Franks that the Inglese have no country but

London, a miserable
year

;

place,

where

it

rains all the

and where no one would stop who was not

THE ALBANIAN MOUNTAINS

IN

forced, as

to

is

proved by

move wandering

all

the Inglese wlio are free

into other Frankish lands,

it

;

was hopeless

too given to thinking that

we

see ourselves

two

;

all

to fight against

We

that wall of colossal ignorance.

and

Nothing would

even into the realms of the Sultan.
shake his opinion

1X^

English are

foreigners see us as

not as merely the inhabitants of
the northern sea, but as the

little islands in

masters of an empire that rings the circle of the

world and

more ignorant

foreigners,

as a foggy

who

heretics,

who draw

peopled by uncouth

island

My

every direction.

in

had no doubt derived

Skreli

his geographical

and

knowledge from some French or Russian

historical

and therefore despised

source,

their informa-

are only tolerated because they fling

gold broadcast
friend

The

sea.

demagogic newspapers, look on

tion from priests or

England

upon every

floats its navies

braggart, though he

was too

me

polite

as

an untruthful

and perhaps too

politic to say so.
I

had gone up into the mountains

days,

to

fresh

air,

;

village life

for

Not

stifling.

months

see

the

and to get a breath of

a drop of rain had fallen for

the grass had

The

little

few

lowlands and the city were

plants were drooping in
water.

for a

two

become sand, and the
the gardens for want of

village of Zagora,

was spending a day or two,

lies

at the

in

which

I

head of the

ALBANIA

134

up

long, wedge-shaped piece of stony land, running

from

the lake and shut in

by bare and

lofty

mountains, which constitutes the territory of the

Down

Skreli tribe.

the centre of this valley, and

bottom of a steep

at the

ravine, runs the river

which waters the arable land.

ground on each bank

is

A

narrow

forming

cultivated,

winding ribbon of dingy and

strip of

sun-burnt

a

green

between the bordering expanses of white stones
and parched rocks.
But the tribe has its

Medua

winter

pasturage

autumn

the whole of Skreli,

with

children,
their
their

near

their

and

horses

flocks

the

stony

Scodra,

and

IMedua.

My

trusted to

plain,

men, women, and

and

herds,

their

file

in long procession

through the bazaar of

by way of the Zadrima, to

so,

companion, finding

tell

towards

household goods, desert

their

mountain home and

across

and

;

him of

my own

not be

1 could

country, changed

the subject to himself and his belongings, which

were

for

me more

parisons between

com-

interesting topics than

London and

And

Scodra.

so I

learned that in summer-time he was a farmer in

the mountains, and in winter a boatman at the

wretched

seaport

of

San Giovanni

where he had learned a

fair

Medua,

di

amount of

Italian

while bringing passengers and their baggage to
shore.

In

this

fashion

he

managed

to

earn

THE ROAD TO SCODRA.
Malissori fisliermeii near the Lake.

TUK UOAU TO SCODRA.
^lalissori

fanners going to the Bazaar.

THE ALBANIAN MOUNTAINS

IN

135

enough money to make him a Httle bit of a
mountain dandy, and to enable him to carry better
arms than the mountaineers of the neighbouring
tribes

who spend

He

homes.

known

at

all

the year round in their rocky

informed

me

that he was very well

the -port, and got plenty to do

then, being in confidential

mood, told

me

and

;

about his

family and his children, and that he had a blood-

feud with one of the most powerful families of
the neighbouring Hotti tribe, and so never went

out of the village alone, for fear he should be shot

His

he owed his enemies.

for the blood

explained, married a

man

of Hotti, and

it

considered a splendid match, as that tribe

most powerful

in the

the

is

was
the

Great Mountains, and takes

About

the post of honour in time of war.
after

he

sister,

a year

marriage, the husband repudiated his

and sent her home, giving no reason for the
outrage, but merely saying that he was not going

bride,

woman any

Such an insult
so my host and his
was not to be tolerated
brother, seeing that there was no chance of

to keep the

longer.
;

of her

obtaining for their sister the restitution
rights,

>oked

out for an opportunity of killing

their brother-in-law.

"

He

was

reflectively,

very

playing

cunning,"

with

his

my

said
pistol

waited for him every day, and at

last

*'
;

I

host

but

I

caught

"

"

ALBANIA

136

him

and then

alone,

shot

I

him

shght he

for the

had dared to put on our family."

And

"

He

so

you owe them blood
and arranged

grinned,

leather

"His

slla.

replied, " often

me, and wait

cannot

brothers,"

he

me

outside the bazaar or on the

but I never go into the city

;

my

brother and

exact

his

into our country to look for

for

my

and

father

pistols in

his

come

road to Scodra

without

?

the

relations

without

penalty

so they

;

fighting

a

battle."

"But
you

surely that

must be a great nuisance

for

?

He

shrugged

me

will catch

they will shoot

"And
" She
"

your
is

Has

"

me

if

sister

Oh

"

is

"
?

She begs: she has her

no!

"What

my

!

code, a

I

My
man

look of astonishment,

she to

We

do?

she does not belong to us

;

But

cannot

now

;

and

have avenged

I

have shot her husband."

Truly, honour

words

and then

?

the Hotti will not keep her.
;

Some day they

they can."

Then, seeing

he added:

the insult

"

alone, as I caught him,

she married again

support her

:

in the city."

"Married?
child

his shoulders

and

dishonour

are

arbitrary

companion was, according to
of strict honour.

His

sister

his

own

had been

!

IN

THE ALBANIAN MOUNTAINS
by her

repudiated
reason; and

felt

lie

cause

without

liusbiind

137
or

that he had done everything

he could be expected to do when he had shot the
erring husband and left the poor woman to escape
as best she

starvation

might by begging

in the

Scodra a bare subsistence for herself and

streets of

child

But

sun

the

sinking

gradually

been

had

towards JNIount Rumia, and once he was below the
The women, with
hills everything would be dark.
little

kegs strapped on their shoulders, came out of

the cottages and struck across the
are

going

draw

to

from

water

explained

my

them?"
then we

He

rose and, joining

strolled

through the maize and

companion

" shall

;

two

the

They

river,"

we go

to his

carefully looked

"

fields.

to see

arms, and

men,

or three other

tobacco

fields,

between the wait-a-bit thorn hedges, to the ravine.
During the violent rains of autumn and winter,
the Prolitar,

as

the

foaming torrent along

end of the summer

river
its
it

is

rocky bed

had

mountain streams, a quiet

dashes

called,
;

but at the

become

little

a

most

like

river,

half lost

among the pebbles it flows over. In Indian file
we descended the narrow path that winds through
the

brushwood

ravine,

the

and

activity

1

edging

the steep sides of

the

should have been put to shame by

and

sure-footedness

of

the

young

ALBANIA

138
girls,

were

it

much worse

not that

knew they would make

I

scramble of

it

than

a

did had they

I

boots on their feet instead of raw-hide sandals.

Soon we got to the bottom, and then we seemed
to be in an amphitheatre, for, owing to the abrupt
turns and winds of the river, we were shut in on
all sides by almost perpendicular walls of rock.

The

floor of the ravine

pebbles,

down

and

was covered with sand and
the

centre

dwindling stream, across which

The narrow
habitants of

water-supply in

easily

jumped.

was crowded with ^the

space
all

we

the

trickled

in-

the Skreli villages, whose only

summer

drawn from the curious

is

well in that part of the river's bed.

The men

lounged about conversing in groups, and every

now and

then a marksman

fired his pistol at a stone

or bush on the side of the
startled the echoes

cliff

with a bang that

from crag to

crag,

and made

one fancy, from the violence of the concussion,
that

a

hundred-ton

gun

at

had

least

been

discharged.

Under an overhanging

rock, a quaint parapet

and basin have been carved out of the living stone,
and round them the maids and matrons were
gathered
chattering.

in

groups, laughing and
was the mouth of a well that sinks

picturesque
It

deep down beneath the bed of the
never dry in summer.

When

river,

the rains

and

is

come and

"

THE ALBANIAN MOUNTAINS

IN

130

send the torrent from the mountains, the well and
its

by the tossing
but when the hot weather returns and the

curious basin are covered deeply

waters

;

river runs nearly dry, the well

and

buckets

the

competed

and

uncovered again,

is

ropes

long

eagerly

are

by the crowd of women, who

for

fill

an old

wooden kegs every day just before
Only one man came down to draw water,
white-headed man, who was bent now and

infirm,

but

their

little

sunset.

who had

evidently been a magnificent

broad-shouldered giant of over six feet in height.

I

why he was drawing water for himself. " Oh
was the reply, " he has no women or relations he
!

asked

;

lives

old

by himself;

man

!

He

and daughters

succumbed to

besides,

he

was the

last

were

dead

steel,

alone in his old age.

is

quite crazy."

of his family
;

Poor

and

;

his wife

had

sons

his

him

bullet, or fever, leaving

The border

wars, blood-feuds

and malaria of the lowlands, that had taken away
his brothers and sons, had passed him by, and left

him an

infirm veteran,

no longer a great

but a useless survival of the past.

He

warrior,

spoke to no
it,

and

cliffs;

the

one, but having filled his keg, shouldered
toiled slowly

and alone up the steep path.

The shadows deepened among the
last

woman

filled

her barrel and staggered panting

up the rocky ascent; and
too,

my

so

we

returned

home

Malsior friend keeping his hand on his

ALBANIA

140

and glancing suspiciously at every bush,

pistols

for

perhaps some Hotti avenger might be lurking in

now

the deep shadows and even
or

we

Luckily, there was no

rifle.

levelling a pistol

enemy

near,

and

reached the village in safety, or rather the row

of six tiny houses which was the principal part of

the hamlet.

Most mountain

cottages are built

detached from one another, and consist simply of a

room on the bare ground, with perhaps

single

a

small apartment screened off for the mistress of the

house
all in

but here were half a dozen cottages built

;

row hke modern

a

on the

first floor, after

Each house
leading up to its first
Scodra.

1

villas,

and only inhabited

the fashion of the houses in
in the
floor,

row had

and

its little

with the living-room opening out of

ladder

its

balcony

it.

In no

other mountain village have I seen this arrange-

ment, which was evidently an innovation on the
received architecture of the Malissori, and was no

doubt to be ascribed to the

on the

tribe's

yearly residence

sea-coast.

The
prepared

usual

— roast

mountaineer's

supper

was

soon

mutton and cakes drenched

in

honey, and then, after coffee and more cigarettes, I

thought of going to
since I roused

my

rest, for it
little

had been a long day

household in Scodra at

about two hours after midnight, before the sun had

begun to

rise.

I

had no fancy

for

sharing the

;

IN

THE ALBANIAN MOUNTAINS

Itl

room with the grandmother, the

stuffy little inner

mother, the wife, and the children of

my

host, not

to mention other less visible occupants, nor a plank

bed on the balcony with a couple of mountaineers

and that was why

1

gleamed white

the

shrubs

in

among which

and her

sister

had cut

brought the

it

and

wishing

so, after

night," I

to

retired

it

tent that

moonlight

through

was pitched.

My

me

afternoon and spread

little

;

the

hostess

plenty of soft fern in the
floor of

on the

my

my Albanian friends
my own lodgings.

"

tent

Good-

As

I

stumbled through the thicket by the imperfect
light, my footsteps roused the watchdogs, which
strained fiercely at their chains and

ring with their savage barking.

came an answering chorus of

made

From
yelps,

the valley

the distance

marking the

position of neighbouring villages in the darkness of

already low

The moon,

the night.

down

sky, cast long shadows across the land,

obscured the glitter of the

stars,

in the

and almost

and dimmed the

comet that was blazing away
across the heavens above the row of tall poplar
brilhance of the

|

trees outside the village.

my

narrow

tent,

I

man

can have

upon the

watchdogs wove
current of

my

itself,

dreams.

;

first

into

myself in a rug,

wrapped

stretching full length

couch a

Creeping head

fern,

the softest

and soon the baying of the
an indistinct bass, into the

XII
A NIGHT IN RAMAZAN

A YEAR had passed since I

entered Scodra for the

time to the roar of the guns of the ancient

first

Castle announcing the passing of

month

the

had been a

Ramazan, and

come round

of fasting had

again.

It

All day long, heavy

terribly hot day.

black clouds had rolled up from the Adriatic and
circled

lake

;

round the mountains that shut

in plain

and

but not a drop of rain had fallen upon the

parched and dried-up

soil.

The growling

of the

thunder had been incessant, though not a breath of
air

had

stirred the

heavy

leaves, or freshened the

unwholesome atmosphere that scorched throat
and lungs, and seemed to weigh oppressively upon

close,

one's very limbs.

But evening came

at last,

and the good folk of

Scodra trudged slowly homeward from the bazaar.
In the high-road facing the burial-ground in which
Ali Haidaar Pasha

medans

in

lies

buried, a knot of

Moham-

gold-embroidered jackets and voluminous

A NIGHT
fustanellefi

IN

RAMAZAN

143

were standing just outside the great

double gates leading to the courtyard of one of the

They were watching

richest aghas in the city.

gun from the

the evening

citadel,

which would

for
tell

that their weary fast was over for the day,

them

and that they might go

From
single

evening meal.

in to the

sunrise to sunset not a morsel of food, not a

cup of

coffee,

had touched

their lips

they

;

had passed the long hot hours of a sultry summer
day without even drinking a drop of water or

smoking a

single cigarette.

Some

them had

of

had to work during the day, and some had
sleep

away the laggard hours

of the harevu and

it

tried to

in the stifling

was small wonder

rooms

faint

if,

and

exhausted, they looked with angry eyes upon the
Christian shopkeepers and labourers

who plodded

along the dusty road, puffing at their cigarettes.

We

were

in the last quarter of the

moon,

for

it

was more than three weeks ago that the great fast
of Ramazan began, and the strain was beginning to
even upon the strongest men, and to show

tell

itself in their

But

haggard looks and hollow cheeks.

at last the sixteen sultry hours of fasting

coming to a

close.

The

city already lay in shadow,

the sun had sunk behind

for

though the
still

castle rock

were

and the

Mount

Tarabosh,

citadel itself

were

in full sunlight.

Gradually the shadows crept up the

hill

and

ALBANIA

144

quenched

blaze of light in which the parapets

tlie

were bathed, and then the eyes of the watchers
were gladdened by the dull red

flash,

followed by a

smoke that shot out between the parapets

ball of

from one of the old iron guns that kept the key of

North Albania before the modern
Tarabosh was

At

built.

fort

the same

on Mount

moment

the

wailing cry of half a dozen muezzins rang out from

the mosques close by, and with a sigh of relief the

expectant group turned and trooped, with swaying
jmtanelles and a jauntier

air,

through the great

gates, to break its long fast at the evening meal,

which a great clattering among the women-kind

showed to be nearly ready.
This

Hegira

great

;

but

fast

is

though

memory of the
good Mohammedans

held in
all

religiously fast during the day, yet they are allowed

to feast during the night-hours between sunset and
sunrise.

Very often

friends

and

relations

come

to

these evening festivities, and sometimes strangers
are invited.

During the past week we had twice

Mohammedan houses
nightfall, and that night we were going again
an English friend who was spending a week

been to entertainments at
after

with
or
all

two

in Scodra,

and was naturally anxious to see

that he could of native

life.

Luckily we had

not been invited to the tedious dinner or supper,

but only to the " musical at home

"

which was to

;

A NIGHT
be held afterwards
to spare,

we

IN

and

;

We

there.

14^5

we had a httle time
to see how the evening
sat down on a bench

so, as

entered a cate

was passing

RAMAZAN

wooden table,
Our entry caused some little

against the wall, in front of a bare

and

called for coffee.

was well known

sensation, for I

;

and the sight of

two Franks in a poor native cafe was something
However, our enterprise was
out of the common.
not rewarded, for the place was deplorably dull

two

or three groups of poorer Albanians sitting

gloomily over their coffee were the only repre-

merry company we had hoped to

sentatives of the
see

;

room two Mohamheads shaved by the

while in the centre of the

medans were having

their

silent proprietor of the

combined khan and barber's

shop and his
spirits

when we

funereal

gloom

him, and so

My

assistant.

entered

;

was

friend

in

but a few minutes of

high
this

effectually took all the fun out of

we

hastily swallowed our coffee,

left the melancholy " khanji "

still

scraping

and

away

at

his customer's forehead.

The beginning
promising,

but

I

of the evening had not been

consoled

my

visitor

with the

assurance that at Fiscta Agha's house things would

be very
start,

different.

We

therefore

made

accompanied by Marco, a Christian of the

town who, on the strength of being
" Yes,

a fresh

sir,"

and " Oui, monsieur,"

able to

say

in addition to the

L

ALBANIA

146

common

broken Italian

to his kind, passed for a

and looked upon aU

skilled linoruist,

He

his lawful prey.

travellers as

preceded us. dressed in foU

mountaiueer costume, over which he wore a shabby
old ulster several sizes too small for him, put on as

was

a precaution against the fever that he insisted

In

lurking in the sultry night-air.

he carried a
silk,

tightly-rolled, lady's

a gift from his last master

swung a

lantern, to guide us

streets of the

we

umbrella of green

and in

the air of Hadji

Ah

street into

:

his left

he

through the narrow

Alussulman quarter.

passed three Zingari

narrow

;

hand

his right

who were

On

way

our

playing softly

and then passing out of the

an open space, we came to the

great double gates of Fiscta Agha's house.

After

the usual challenges, one wing of the gate swung
open, and

we

entered the courtyard, betog rather

taken aback by what seemed to be the ghost of a

huge white bird stretched across the yard It was,
however, only the aghas best fustanelU which he
had had washed in view of the coming Feast of
Bairam, and had hung across the courtyard to dry.
As the fustaneUe was thirty or forty yards long

was not surprising that it seemed
to stretch through the darkness hke the white
wings of some giant bird, to eyes not accustomed

round the hem,

to such

By

it

amphtude of petticoat.
the hght from an open door

we made

for

A XIGHT
wooden

the

IX

RAMAZAN

147

staircase that led to the balcony

on

where Fiscta Agha greeted us, and
escorted us to the room in which the merrj-making
was going on. The place was crowded but by

the

first floor,

;

dint of pushing and elbo^ving, the agha piloted us
across the floor to the seat of

by

honour on the divan

Instantly an attendant gave us each a

his side.

brass ashpan. another offered us cigarettes with his

hand on

his heart, a third

fourth sweetmeats.

We

brought us

coffee,

and a

were bound by etiquette

to refuse nothing, and the coffee and cigarettes

enjoyed

:

but the sugar plums

pocket-handkerchiefs at the
tunity.
^^'ith

After

we sHpped

first

we

into our

convenient oppor-

we had exchanged compliments

our host and our friends and acquaintances,

the music, which our entrance had interrupted,
struck up again.

The musicians were

number, and squatted on the
end of the room.

The

three in

floor at the opposite

leader

played

on

the

" guzla." a kind of mandoHne. across whose two

vdre

strings

he

tinkled

liis

cherry-bark

Httle

" plectrum " with a grave and dignified
side

was an old man.

^

Related Interests

ith

By his

huge horn spectacles

balanced on his hooked nose,

upon the

air.

floor at arm's length,

who

held a fiddle

and scraped away

bow on the strings that
were turned away from him. The third musician
was a pale and melancholy youth, who banged a
solemnly with a clumsy

ALBANIA

148

tambourine upon

his knuckles, knees,

and elbows,

with mournful repetition, going through

movements

Of

as

all

his

he were moved by clockwork.

if

course they played " Hadji Ali, the Pirate of

home

Dulcigno," as surely as the street-boy at
wliistles

the latest

was an Albanian

comic song
hero,

Scodra were in heroic

and the Mussulmans of

mood

just then.

by the

setting of the

of the guzla, and, though

two wire

sounded

it

was a

It

the minor key,

weird and plaintive melody in
necessitated

Hadji Ali

for

;

strings

like a dirge

pure and simple, was played in Scodra at feasts

and

of every kind.

festivals

Occasionally, the

tambourine broke into a long-drawn howl, drawling

Hadji All's name through

dog baying the moon.
or sixty verses of " Hadji Ali," and

that reminded us of

There are
though

fifty

a

tambourine's

the

his nose, in a fashion

effort

was the

only

attempt at singing, the musicians took us religiously

through the

number of

air

verses

never ending
asleep, the

over and over again

;

was accomplished.

but at

last,

just as

till

the

It

we were

full

seemed
falling

wailing tune faded softly away, and

the Hadji might be considered as disposed of for
the night.

More
cigarettes

coffee,

more

more
and then some

sweatmeats,

were pressed upon

us,

and

of the servants began to clear a space in the centre

A NIGHT

RAMAZAN

IN

U9

room by pushing the people into the corners
and making them stand close round the walls.
Presently a hungry-looking young fellow, dressed

of the

simply in a loose cotton shirt and trousers, began

walking round

a

in

keeping time to the

circle,

rhythm of the three musicians, who had struck up
another plaintive

waving

his

He walked round

air.

and round,

hands and balancing himself

on

first

one foot and then on the other, but doing nothing
else,

we

while

sat anxiously,

was going to begin.

enough of that
to lend !him

INIy

English friend soon had

sort of thing,

my

wondering when he

scarf-pin.

and whispered to

He

me

then opened his

pocket-knife, and waited resignedly for the dance
to end.

made

As

soon as he got his opportunity, he

Agha

signs to Fiscta

perform something

;

and wrapping

chief tightly round his
surreptitiously

that he

was going to
handker-

his

thumb, he pricked

his skin

and squeezed out a drop of blood.

Then with his knife he went through the pantomime of cutting off his thumb by smearing the
blood in a

thin

line

round beneath the

nail.

The Albanians crowded round, looking on him as
an escaped lunatic, when suddenly with a rapid
lick of his

made

tongue and a dab of

the long gash

his handkerchief

disappear,

he

and completely

healed what looked like a very serious wound.

This feat aroused every one's curiosity

;

we were

ALBANIA

150

nearly stifled by the pressure of the onlookers, and

my

friend

until his

had to do

his trick over

thumb was

as full of holes as a sieve,

he bitterly repented
for

and

Luckily

his desire for fame.

him, a counter

attention from

and over again

drew the public

attraction

him, and a scolding voice

made

every one turn to look at the other side of the

room, where three small boys had profited by the
general crowding round our divan to take a yataghan

from the wall and to

thumbs and

set to

at carving their

fingers in imitation of the marvellous

Happily, before

Frank.

work

much harm was

done,

the yataghan was taken away and the boys soundly
cuffed

and

;

I quietly restored the pin to

my scarf

in the general confusion.

After more

coffee,

came the great dance of the

evening, and again the gaunt youth pirouetted

round the

more

ring.

striking

That time, however, something

was to be performed, and so one of

the beys lent him his white fustanelle

;

another a

gold-embroidered jacket and waistcoat of crimson
cloth

;

fashion

from

a third, his gaiters, ornamented in similar
;

and a fourth unwound the long

his waist

and threw

it

to the dancer.

silk sash

Again

the slow rhythmic walk began to the melancholy

music of the guzla

;

but after a few

dancer stopped once more.

Fiscta

circles

the

Agha and

Ibrahim Bey Castrati then drew their keen, blue

A NIGHT

RAMAZAN

IN

151

Koran
in gold, from their scabbards, and handed them to
the silent dancer, who received them solemnly,
and once more retired to the centre of the ring.

Damascus

blades, inlaid with verses of the

Taking the yataghans by

their hilts, he stretched

out his arms, placed the sharp points hi his girdle,

and resumed
few

circles,

walk round the room.

his

After a

the music quickened, and the dancer

broke into a polka-mazurka step, with the blades
still

sticking into his girdle.

faster

;

Again the music got

the colour rose to the dancer's face

raised the points of the yataghans

other.

he

and placed them

beneath his armpits, and every few paces
the floor

;

bumped

with one knee and then with the

first

Faster and faster grew the music, wilder

and wilder grew the dancer, dashing himself on
the floor with ever-increasing energy, with arms
still

outstretched and points turned inwards

;

till

at last he burst into a frantic valse in the middle

of the room, and spun round, a confused mass of

white fustanelle and gold and scarlet coat, with
bright steel-blue blades gleaming beneath his ex-

Suddenly both music and dancer

tended arms.

stopped, and hurriedly
to

the

their

owners,

crowd

of

the

returning the yataghans

performer

onlookers,

and

take off his borrowed finery.
to

applaud

;

it

plunged

into

disappeared

No

to

one troubled

was the dancer's business

;

he

"

ALBANIA

152

was paid

was

for

it,

and had done

duty, that

his

all.

By

was considerably past midnight, and so some one was sent to rouse Marco
that time

it

from the slumber into which much
ourselves,

we each

As

and
for

drained at a gulp, before leaving,

a tumbler of the sweet pink

Albanians love, for our throats

from

coffee

had plunged him.

unlimited cigarettes

'excessive smoking.

count the cigarette ends in

I

sherbet that
felt like

the

lime-kilns

had the curiosity to

my

ashpan

;

there were

seventeen, and though the tobacco was good, yet

the paper was very coarse and hot.

was the

signal

entertainment.
gates
his

;

and, as

for

lantern over

rising

the general break-up of the

Fiscta

we

Our

Agha saw

us to the great

followed the sleepy

the

cobble-stones

Marco and
that

paved

the road, the mournful melody of " Hadji Ali

moaned through the warm still air from the sidestreet down which
the three
musicians were
solemnly making their homeward way.

XIII

AN ALBANIAN WEDDING
It

is

always a trying circumstance for the master

of the house to have a wedding in his family, and,
serious as the matter

worse
tedious

in

is

in

England,

it

was

infinitely

North Albania, where a peculiar and

etiquette

prescribed

endless

ceremonies,

and allowed no wished-for " going away," to put a
period to the sufferings of bridegroom and guests.

was the Konsolos Vakeel, and the
happy man was my servant on the only occasion
when there was a wedding " in the family," I had

However,

as I

the satisfaction of knowing that

if I

looked as bored

was only shedding a gTcater dignity
on the proceedings. Besides, I was very glad to

as a Pasha, I

be able to penetrate for once behind the veil of
mystery that shrouds the interior of Albanian
houses,

and to

see

the

strange

ceremonies

of

marriage as an honoured guest.

Achmet, my Turkish servant, having a claim
on the Government, had just been made Inspector
of Forests in Mid- Albania, and a week or two ago

ALBANIA

154

had ridden

followed by a mountaineer leading

off,

a pack-horse laden with the

No

ings.

new

belong-

official's

doubt he has long since repaid himself

Government ever owed him, and,
having learned wisdom in adversity, will take good
care never to be reduced to waiting on a Frank

all

that the

again.

To

Achmet

replace

Albanian, with

took a

I

well-made

moustache and gentle
well, and had the

a fierce

manner, who spoke

tall,

Italian

He

reputation of being honest and trustworthy.

soon got into

my

ways, but remained unaccount-

ably shy and preoccupied.
the cook,

explained the

Luka," he

said,

if

One morning Simon,
"

mystery.

That man

speaking of his fellow-servant as

he were miles

off*,

instead

of in the kitchen,

" begs your Excellency's pardon, but he wishes to

be married."
shall

I

was not an excellency, and never

be anything so exalted, but

rank in Scodra

;

for all that, I

very pleased to hear

it,

we

got brevet

remarked that

standing,

fez

imagination for the
it

is

hand,

in

eagerly entered into the subject, drawing

In Albania

was

and then Simon, cautiously

shutting the door, and

fertile

I

upon a

details.

etiquette for a

man

about to

marry to be very much ashamed of himself and
not to mention the

subject at

everything to the old

women

all,

but to leave

of his family,

who

;

AN ALBANIAN WEDDING

155

take a professional delight in seeing that every cere-

mony and
himself

superstition

them

He

and

let

my

obhged to outrage

servant,
his

to other men.

them speak

that he had a sort of

Europe, being

Luka

even be seen with

their wives, but will

in public,
felt

rigidly adhered to.

that Europeans are, as a rule, not

knew

ashamed of

is

and

connection with

was naturally

as I

modesty, so far as to mention

the subject in discussing the future arrangements of

my

household, the struggle which went on in his

mind

as he attempted to engraft the brazen-faced

the

of

reticence

of the Albanian,

One morning, about

entering

his

after

bashful

the

rendered his face a

study to be remembered.
three weeks

upon

European

publicity

my

he

service,

placed a note on the table just as I was beginning
breakfast,

and hurried out of the room.

invitation,

written,

as

I

It

was an

afterwards discovered,

by a Dalmatian innkeeper who
begging me to do him the great honour

at Luka's dictation,

lived near,

of being present at his "nuptials, that

marriage," on the following

Sunday.

that I should be very pleased to be there,

Luka blushed

deeply, and thanked

There was no doubt about
irrevocably pledged to

had never

seen,

it.

me

to say,

I

replied

whereupon
profoundly.

JMy servant was

matrimony with

upon

is

a girl

he

the magnificent income

represented by the wages he received from

me

ALBANIA

156

and there could be no drawing back,
promise

is

punished by a pistol bullet in Albania.

Luka belonged

to one of the few families in

Scodra that profess the Orthodox

about

ten

Ladislas, a
little

place.

for breach of

o'clock

Sunday

on

Hungarian

friend,

and so

faith,

M.

morning,

and

I

went to the

church in which the ceremony was to take
It

was the church

in

which the marriage of

the consul to the daughter of his dragoman had

A

been celebrated rather over a year previously.

group

of

friends

and

lookers-on

assembled before the door, and four
different

costumes

Romaic dance
fiddle.

to

were

dancing

the music of

a

had

already

men

in four

the

ancient

two-stringed

Presently an inrush of boys and idlers

announced the approach of the
entered the courtyard astride

bride,

and she

of the old white

horse that did duty at every marriage ceremony in

Scodra, with her head tied up in a scarlet silk

surmounted by the helmcui or
from the time she
arrival in the

left

veil,

bridal crown, so that

her father's house to her

church she saw absolutely nothing.

She was supported

in the high-peaked saddle

by

her father and a near relation, behind her followed
her relatives,

male and female, while before her

young men danced in a line with joined hands,
singing in monotonous cadence an Albanian
marriage song.

AN ALBANIAN WEDDING
— MarslialLih
— Marshallah
has eyebrows like ropes — Marsliallah
has eyes like coffee cups — Marshallah
has cheeks like vermillion — Marshallah
has a nose of fine shape — Marshallah
has a nioutli 'ike a pill-box — Marshallah
She has teeth like pearls — Marshallah

" How
She
She
She
She
She
She

beautiful tlie bride

lias

a bioad forehead

!

!

!

!

!

!

!

!

!

!

!

!

!

!

She has a

157

!

!

figure like a cypress tree

!

— Marshallah

!

Marshallah !"

Naturally, the recital of such a catalogue of
beauties in the bride's presence

upon her the
to avert

all

would bring down

severest penalties of the evil eye

;

so

misfortune the chorus took up the cry

"Marshallah"

after each

upon, and prolonged

charm had been
in

it

a

dilated

drawling

weird,

howl.

The

own

old horse halted of his

the church door, five or six
piece of cloth and held

it

men

accord before

unfolded a huge

up to screen the

then the father seized the unresisting

bride,
girl

and

round

the waist and literally hauled her off her lofty
perch.

The mother and

unpacked the
and
into

bride's

the officiating old ladies

head

in the

after arranging her dress

the

immodest

church.
for a girl

It

was

church porch,

pushed her gently
considered

who was going

grossly

to be married

to take the slightest interest in the proceedings, or

to

show more

signs of Hfe than she could possibly

help, so, with her face unveiled in public for the
first

time

in her

life,

her hands clasped before her,

ALBANIA

158

and her eyes

on her

fixed

she submitted

toes,

to be pushed forward, seemingly

more dead than
ahve, to the centre of the church, where a couple
of reading desks were placed side by side, with a
napkin, two withered wreaths, and a dirty little

brown

glass

tumbler half

spoon sticking up in

of red wine with a

full

The

arranged upon them.

it,

bride was placed before the left-hand desk, and a

gorgeous object

she

Her

was.

Turkish

full

which she had no doubt borrowed

trousers,

were of immense

occasion,

for the

folds of the finest silk

gauze finished round the ankle with heavy gold
embroidery, and at the waist also glorious with

Her

gold.

waistcoat

was

of

broidered in gold thread, with
device that almost hid the
fastened

in

chemise of
waist was

finest

bound a

showed

the

white striped

all

quaint

and, being undelicate

gauzy

Round

many-hued

her
silk,

Her

silk braid.

brilliant

hair

and obvious

and her head-dress was ornamented with

long rows of

silver-gilt coins

effect of her dress
little

a

velvet

coat of crimson cloth,

and eyebrows were dyed a
black,

many

silk.

brilliant sash of

hung the long
worked with black

and over
heavily

front,

stuff,

purple

and chains

;

but the

was rather spoiled by the natty

patent leather boots, seamed with white, alia

franca^ which she wore instead of the red leather
sHppers that would form the natural finish to her

AN ALBANIAN WEDDING
So she

dress.

stood, with downcast eyes

159

and folded

hands, supported by her witnesses, before her reading

desk

;

but as yet there was no sign of the bride-

He

groom.

disappeared directly after breakfast

that morning,

entered

and

my mind

his rashness,

in full flight.

for

a

moment

the thought

that perhaps he had repented of

and was then crossing the mountains
But no. As soon as the bride was well

commotion arose among the
knot of men near the door, and Luka was

settled in her place, a
little

ejected from his concealment and pushed forward,

apparently deeply reluctant, to his betrothed's

He

also

was arrayed

for the

side.

wedding, and sported

an old pair of dress trousers, given him by some

and a rough pea jacket, into the
pocket of which he crumpled his Turkish fez as he
English

took

traveller,

his place before the right-hand desk.

The

old iicipas had put on his most gorgeous robe, and
let

down

his

long grey hair over his shoulders for

the occasion.

He

took no notice of the happy

beyond a glance to see that they were in
position, but turned his back on them and went
pair

through the opening part of the ceremony at
gallop, with a

subhme

air

full

of bored indifference,

droning through his nose, and only punctuating his
reading by gasps for breath.

Luka was not bold enough to defy the Albanian
JNIrs. Grundy by turning his head, but I caught

ALBANIA

160

him squinting
eye at the

girl

not yet seen.

painfully out of the corner of his

he was being married to but had

As

for

the bride, she remained

immovable, regardless of the prods and tweaks at
her clothes, with which the old

attempted

to

steer

women

behind

her through the ceremony.

Suddenly the papas turned round, and placed the
napkin across the heads of the couple, and on the
napkin the two withered wreaths, accompanying
that part of the ceremony with certain functions,

presumably

and

religious,

indifferent

but which, from his careless

manner of performing them, had

an irreverent and ridiculous appearance.

Three

make the circuit of the desks
and followed by Luka and his bride, who

times did the papas
singing,

with considerable

somewhat

difficulty, as their heights

were

napkin

and

uneven,

balanced

the

wreaths on their heads, the godmother and witnesses supporting the girl,

forward.
off their

and urging her gently

Then he whipped the napkin and wreaths
heads, and, without waiting a moment,

the bridegroom disappeared with his friends and

was no more
face
front,

seen, leaving his bride standing

unveiled,

with

eyes cast down, hands folded in

and toes together.

by her godmother,

her

Instantly she was seized

head

was

once more

muffled in the red silk wrapping, and she was

conducted to the door, where the old white horse,

:

AN ALBANIAN WEDDING
gaily caparisoned in red and gold,

Once more the

her.

six

KH

was awaiting
unfolded the

friends

white cloth and screened the horse and bride with

Two

it.

of her nearest relatives then seized the girl
astride of the horse, immediately pull-

and put her

ing her half off again, and leavhig her for a few

seconds with one leg dangling across the easy-

This part of the ceremony

going animal's back.

symbolised the submission which every good wife

ought

show

to

moment they

another

In

husband.

her

to

righted her, and settled her firmly

and then, preceded by boys and men
singing and dancing, and followed by a crowd of
in the saddle,

relatives

home.

and lookers-on, she

The

bridle

set off for her future

was held by a

her side walked the godfather,

relation,

who pushed

head down at every cross-road,
tied

to

up

crimson

in

and

nothing,

it

silk,

she

would

for,

life

as

could

be

a

unlucky thing to omit to salute the
cross-roads

and

at

her

she was
see

terrible

next

and

deities of the

on her way to her new home, a married

of misery being the inevitable result of such

And

so they

wound

streets to the

husband

s

neglect.

feasting

slowly through the

house, where the bridal

and merry-making took

chanting the

hymn

of welcome

" The bride

She

is

place, the singers

is

on her way.

like a

buddiug tlower

!

31

!

ALBANIA

162
The

bride

She

The

is

bride

She

is

is

in the gateway.

a flower of sweet scent
is

in the courtyard.

like a full-blown flower

!

The bride is on the staircase,
Her face is like a flower
The bride is in the hall.
Her neck is like a lily
The bride has entered the chamber.
!

!

Do not shed tears
And if I shed tears^
It is

because

No more

Nowadays the
ceremony

when

is

to

I

my

shall

go
house."

fathei-'s

religious part of the marriage

performed in church, but formerly,

Orthodox were allowed

neither Latins nor

any place of worship

went

relations

!

in the city, the bride

in procession straight to the bride-

groom's house, where the

gone through before a
guest-chamber.

and her

In

rites

of marriage were
erected in the

little altar

days

those

worshipped in a large

field,

in

the

the

Latins

middle

of

with a light

which was an

altar of plain boards,

roof over

Here the Roman CathoUc towns-

men and

it.

Christian mountaineers assembled in rain,

wind, and storm, or burning

summer

heat, kneel-

ing on the bare ground, and with no roof over

The Orthodox families, though few
number, were much better off, for they had a

their heads.
in

little

chapel and burying-ground on the slopes of

Mount Tarabosh, on the other side of the
About the time of the Crimean War, a

Boiana.

firman

AN ALBANIAN WEDDING
authorising the construction of a
cathedral was

Abdi

that

Catholic

by the Sultan, but the

granted

Pasha refused to read

Roman

1G3

it,

and

Pasha, the

was not

it

then

until

1858

Governor-General,

consented to publish the firman, and was even
anxious to be present in person at the ceremony of

In

the consecration.

Koman
and

a

very

few

years

both

CathoUcs and Orthodox had their churches

schools,

and as a consequence, the bride was

only received at her husband's house after the

marriage had taken place in the church.

At

his

marriage

for he

and

passed

all

Luka had no house

of his own,

were poor men, and had

his father

their lives as servants or retainers of

Gasparo JMusciani, one of the principal Christian
merchants of the toAvn, and
their patron that the

As M.

take place.

down

was

it

wedding

at the house of

festivities

were to

way

Ladislas and I picked our

the narrow lane bordered with high hedges

of the wait-a-bit thorn, that led to the house,

we

heard the songs and shouts of the bridal party

approaching in the opposite direction.
old white horse

came

Soon the

in sight, the bride perched

on high, and clutching with both hands at the high
peak

of

the saddle in front of

arrangement

of

croAVTi

and

veil

lier,

on

the lofty

her

head

nodding portentously as the animal she bestrode
stumbled and fioundered

in

the deep

ruts

and

ALBANIA

164

Presently they

water-courses of the narrow lane.

through the gateway into the great court-

all filed in

yard, the singers singing and the dancers dancing

with renewed vigour as an end to their

efforts

made

approached, and the odour of dinner

itself

The balcony was crowded with women
and girls who had not been to the ceremony, and
the procession halted before the wooden staircase
sensible.

leading to the

first floor,

which

as usual

The

only inhabited part of the house.

was the

Two

once more seized and dragged off the horse.
old

women

took her, one under each arm, and two

more pushed behind, and
veiled

and

staircase,

in

reluctant, she

still

across

fashion,

this

was hauled up the

side,

which Musciani

had given over to the newly-wedded
doorway,

disappeared through the

woman and

men were

girl in

pair.

followed

Luka, he had never shown himself
seemingly taken

She

by

the house, and only the

outside on the balcony.

left

still

the balcony, and into the large

square room on the left-hand

every

was

bride

at

less interest in his

all,

As

for

and had

wedding than

the smallest and most open-mouthed boy in the
establishment.

Roman

The house was

Catliolic Cathedral

situated

beyond the

on the outskirts of the

Christian quarter, near the bed of the Kiri, having

a huge courtyard in front of

garden behind.

It ^vas

it,

and an extensive

an imposing structure,

AN ALBANIAN WEDDING

165

room

apiece,

two

with

wings, containing

one

stretching out into the courtyard, and

ran

front

a

wide

open

balcony,

all

along

its

out of which

opened the doors leading to the inner rooms.

All

the dwelling-rooms were on the

floor,

the

cellars,

and

ground

first

being devoted to stables,

floor

what we should consider outhouses.
preparations for feasting the entire crowd

The

of relations, friends, and guests were being rapidly
pressed forward.

All the

women were

in the inner

chamber, only a stray and hurried matron shuffling
occasionally across

the balcony, where the

men

were lounging about cracking native jokes, and
putting an edge on their already healthy appetites

with cigarettes and tiny glasses of
plentiful

meal was served

for the

Soon a

raki.

women

in the

mysterious seclusion of the bride's chamber, but
the poor girl in whose honour the feast was given

had to

the conditions of a tedious etiquette

fulfil

even at dinner.
is

true,

when
house

She was permitted to

sit

down,

it

but to show her good breeding she only ate

she was forced, as grief at leaving her father's

was presumed

appetite.

to

have taken away her

Moreover, she had a large

veil

thrown

over her head, in order that the guests might not
see

her eat

;

being bound to maintain an exag-

gerated appearance of modesty and timidity

all

through the lengthy ceremonies of marriage, under

ALBANIA

166

pain of being considered a shameless and abandoned

woman.
Outside on the balcony or in the room in the
left

wing of the house

was laughter and

all

The men were squatting on the floor
round low wooden tables, on which were whole
merriment.

roast

lambs or quarters of sheep.

napkins were at a discount

Plates

and

each man, drawing his

;

dagger or jack-knife, attacked the steaming mass
of flesh before him, and selected for himself the
portions he most relished, washing

lumps of mutton with copious
red wine.

When

down

libations of raki

wooden

little

were taken away, and huge

flat tin

brought

and

even an Albanian appetite could

stand no more mutton, the

sweets

the great

A

in.

very

tables

dishes full of

favourite

halwar

consisted of light puffy cakes smothered in honey.

These were served piled up
tin dish,

men.
seized

and placed

in a vast

pyramid on a

in the centre of

each group of

Each guest plunged his hand into the mass,
a cake, scooped up the honey at the edge of

the dish, and swallowed

it

almost at a gulp, and in

an incredibly short space of time the whole

had disappeared.
has a sweet tooth,

pile

The Albanian, like the Turk,
and when he eats honey, cakes,

or any other horrible confection he stands no half

measures, but disposes of huge platefuls of such
surpassing sweetness that the ordinary palate

is

AN ALBANIAN WEDDING
an

with

afflicted

unquenchable

107

and

thirst

loathing for sugar in any shape or form for

AVhen the

time after tasting them.

a

some

solid part of

the feast was over, the raki circulated with fresh

uncouth

shouted

acquaintances

vigour,

good

healths to one another across the room, and the
air

grew heavy

cigarettes.

with

the

blue

thin

smoke of

Every one was on the best of terms

with his neighbours, and none of those quarrels

took place which have been

A

a wedding feast.

bootmaker took

and

it

as the guests

known

to arise during

year or two previously

into his head to

were drinking

get married,

in the afternoon, a

well-known bully of the town made

and joined the party unasked.

my

He

his

way

in,

soon became

quarrelsome, and challenged a Christian near him

The

to fight.
pistols

latter refused, so the bully

and shot the other

of metal, turned the

when one

He

was just going to

of the guests seized the pistol,

again,

and

in so doing got shot

The

his

in the belt, which, being

ball.

fire

pains.

drew

through the hand for

his

patience of the others being then

exhausted, they rose up and put the free shooter
forcibly

out of the door.

The wounded man's

hand was bound up, and the
before the interruption.

feast

proceeded as

Happily no such un-

toward incident disturbed the tranquillity of Luka's

wedding

;

all pistols

and yataghans were hung on

ALBANIA

168
the

wall

etiquette

outside,

to

being

it

down

sit

grave

a

breach of

dinner with arms

to

in

the belt.

For M. Ladislas and myself, being honoured
guests, a table, with cloth and napkins, was spread

room on the opposite side of
Our host and his nephew joined us,

quite alla franca in a

the house.

and we
and

sat

on chairs and ate off plates with knives

forks, in the

Luka

seen

European

We

fashion.

had not

since he disappeared so suddenly

from

the church, but he turned up from somewhere or
other below to wait upon us, and insisted upon

doing

so, in spite

of

my

remonstrances with him,

seemed only natural that he should want to
join his friends and guests at their dinner.
for

it

When we
and

arrived at the house the day

was

but a dark bank of clouds showed

bright,

through the trees on the horizon above the

Changes of weather were rapid
tainous districts, and hardly had

dinner

when

be said to rain

.

we

moundown to

sat

in

It can hardly

all its fury.

Albania

bursting of a waterspout.
driving

sea.

in those

the sky got overcast, and a thunder-

storm burst upon us in

came

fine

up from the

;

it

is

more

Heavy

like

the

black clouds

Adriatic, struck against

the tops of the mountains above the lake, and
rolled

down

their steep

rocky sides in dense masses

of vapour upon the low land between the three

100
AN ALBANIAN WEDDING
A cold wind blew in from the
rivers and the lake.
sea with a long hollow

moan, and minarets,

trees,

and houses were blotted out from view by the

Then

rolling clouds.

window

the rain dashed against the

in great sheets of water, as if

were playing a garden hose upon the

some one

glass, for the

clouds seemed to dissolve bodily as they passed,

and not merely to pour down rain from above.
Though only a little past midday it was pitch
dark,

save for the blinding flashes of lightning

that played almost incessantly round the

house,

followed instantly by deafening crashes of thunder.

Luka

at once,

a lamp, for

by the

it

and as a matter of course, lighted

was impossible to dine comfortably
though uncertain glare of the
and, so far, the storm showed no

brilliant

lightning flashes,
sign of abating.

and shook

his

Old Musciani looked very glum,
head frequently in a most Lord

Burleigh-like fashion, and at

last,

begging us to

excuse him, went out into the verandah.

minute he returned and
prisoners."

said, " Signori,

We jumped up and

went

In a

you are
out,

my

and

at

once realised the meaning of our host's words.

The courtyard was

full

of water, and two or three

of the servants were paddling about up to their

knees in

muddy

water, with

torrents on their heads,

wooden

making

rain

descending in

frantic dashes after

boxes, dishes, and tubs that were being

;

ALBANIA

170

The

whirled past on the rush of the stream.

storm beat fiercely into the verandah, and every
flash

revealed

of lightning

household

articles that

the ground

floor,

in the

That eccentric

summer

endeavour to find a

to join the flood rushing

pockets,

dozen more

had been floated out from

Musciani looked on with
coat

a

and were now spinning wildly

round the courtyard

way out

half

and

said

river,

his

down

to the sea.

hands deep in his

but one word, " Kiri."

which completely

dries

up

in

some weeks past been overflowing its shallow banks, and this sudden storm
had sent down such a freshet from the Great
time, had for

Mountains that the whole of the Christian quarter
of Scodra was a couple of feet under water.

There

was nothing to be done, so we returned to our
dinner feeling deeply grateful that the customs of
the country did not sanction the arrangement of a

dining-room on the ground

floor.

Slowly

the

storm drew off into the mountains, the flashes

became

dimmer

and

more

intermittent,

the

thunder growled away in a deep bass over the
distant

crags,

the clouds broke, and

Luka put

out the lamp.

we went out to hear the native
singers and musicians, who were hard at work
entertaining the men in the room where they dined.
Our entry put rather a damper on the festivities
After dinner

AN ALBANIAN WEDDING

171

the youth wlio had been dancing retired bashfully
into a corner
left off

;

the singer took up a cigarette and

the long-drawn wail that passes for cheerful

music in Albania
cross-legged on
arrival,

;

only the musicians, squatted

the

took no notice of our

floor,

and continued the plaintive and monotonous

One

them was playing the Guzla, a native
mandoline, made of thin light wood with two
air.

of

double strings of

with the

fingers,

is

not touched

quill or

plectrum of

This

fine wire.

but with a

cherry bark and produces a quaint tinkling sound
that harmonises very well with the fiddle
panies.

rimmed

The

fiddler,

spectacles

on

man

an old

it

accom-

with huge

his nose, held his

tin-

instrument

upright on his knee, with the strings turned from

him, and sawed away with his

bow without

taking

the slightest notice of anybody else, while the third
musician, a solemn youth with a long pale face,

banged a tambourine on

his wrist

and knuckles

with a grave energy that was quite touching.
Presently the host came

would " honour

"

in,

and asked us

the bride with a

visit.

if

The door

of the bridal chamber was thrown open, and
entered.

we

we

In one corner stood the bride, supported

by two old women, dressed

just as

we had

seen

her in church, but with her veil thrown back, and
strings of silver-gilt
breast.

Round

the

coins all over her head

and

room women of every age

ALBANIA

172

were squatting three deep on the
at

All rose

floor.

our entry, and stared at us with open-eyed

interest, for to

most of them there was a

piquancy in being

same room with a Frank

in the

while Gasparo Musciani

delicious

— short, stout

;

and ruddy,

with both his hands and half his chibouq thrust deep
into the pockets in the heavy flaps of his long,
scarlet coat

— strutted about

in the centre of the

room, like an elderly bantam cock among

The

of the house brought a couple of

mistress

chairs,

his hens.

and placed them just in front of the

As we

begging us to be seated.

sat

down

side

side,

about a yard in front of Luka's wife,

that

we must

assumed the most
positions

dignified

women

on the

settled

floor,

and no wonder,

;

had not

sat

I felt

down

we were, so we
air we could, and
down into their old

but there

;

but the poor bride.

all

She was a pleasant-faced
tired

by

look ridiculously like two doctors

examining a patient
gradually the

bride,

girl,

but looked very

for since early

dawn

she

more than two minutes

for

together, except during a hasty dinner,

and when

she was clutching, with frightened grasp, at the

high -peaked saddle on the old white horse.
instantly rose,

all

we would not sit
as we were obdurate

and declared

while the bride stood
to

;

and,

persuasion, the poor wearied girl got a

repose.

We

Every time she

started

little

up we did the

AN ALBANIAN WEDDING

173

same, and every one in the room perforce followed

our example, as

would have been insulting

it

them to sit while we stood
must have been a great relief

;

standing stock

and

still

silent

our

that

so

for

visit

to the bride from
in a corner,

with

eyes downcast and folded hands, while every other

woman

room was chattering at the top of
AVe wished her long life and happiness,

in tlie

her voice.

—a gold coin apiece
round her neck — into her

and then, putting our presents
to add to the collection

hands,

we

left

the

room and went out

into the

verandah.

We

had intended going home, but, as

water was
that

now

we might

waist-deep in the yard,

we

the

agi-eed

In

as well see the ceremonies out.

the courtyard a couple of

men and

a maid-servant

were struggling across the flood to rescue the
family pig, which was in danger of being drowned
in his sty

up the

by the

gate.

The

three rescuers splashed

rickety ladder that led to the pig's abode,

for he, too,

was not housed on a

level with the

ground, and, after a prolonged struggle and
series of protesting grunts,

one of the

a

men emerged

with the jpig clasped in his arms, and began to

descend the ladder.

At

the sight of the flood,

which was just beginning to enter the
captive's struggles redoubled,

sty,

the

and both man and

pig pitched headlong into the water.

Albanian

ALBANIA

174

imprecations and swinish squeals mingled with the
shouts of laughter from the balcony, where
the wedding guests were assembled

;

but by that

men had waded

time half a dozen more

all

out,

and

the pig was rescued from his involuntary bath,

every available part of his body that yielded a

and

firm grip being seized hold

of,

and grunting, he was borne

aloft into a place of

so,

struggling

safety.

The

afternoon wore

after supper,

pine, the

resinous

lines

light of pieces of ckopino, or

Albanian wedding dance was

The men and women formed up

performed.

two

by the

slowly away, and then

in

opposite one another in the balcony,

with their arms round each other's necks, and
first

the line of

men danced

slowly forward to

meet the women, singing the monotonous marriage

hymn.

As

the

men

retired

the

women danced

forward after them singing the next verse, and so
the two lines continued swaying backwards and
forwards, chanting their epithalmium for half an
hour.
JNI.

Ladislas and I passed the night in the

room

where we dined, sleeping air Albanese on mattresses
spread on the floor.
Some few of the guests had
taken off their shoes, tucked up their trousers, and

paddled home, but the greater number

The women were stowed away

still

remained.

in the inner rooms,

AN ALBANIAN WEDDING
men

but the

175

spent the night on the balcony, singing

and drinking, and watching the storm which came

The next morning,
friends, having learnt where we were, sent horses
for us, and I arrived home to find my garden in a
swamp, and poor Simon in despair, as the flood
had washed all the charcoal away and left a foot
on again during the evening.

of evil-smelling

About

mud

a fortnight later on I found in

at breakfast time

he

replied that his

hoped

He

I

my

plate

two or three embroidered napkins,

my inquiring

and on

in its place.

of

Luka how they came

there,

wife had worked them, and

would do her the honour to accept them.

blushed painfully as he gave

me

the message,

for he could not get over the idea that his bride

and

his

marriage were very shocking subjects to

talk about.

XIV
THE STORY OF ALBANIA
It

is

impossible

to

understand

a

nation without knowing something of

The Albanians have been unfortunate

race

or

a

history.

its

in being a

overshadowed and surrounded by

voiceless people,

races

which have not been backward

their

wrongs

and

supposed

rights

making

in

known

to

Europe.
Bismarck, with his brutal disregard of facts
suit him,

which did not
Congress

in

nationality."

1878,

asserted at the

"There

is

no

Berlin

Albanian

The Albanian League, even while

he was speaking, proved that he was wrong, and

now, more than

thirty-five years later,

work which the Congress of

when

the

necessity left un-

finished has to be taken another step towards its
logical end, the

Albanian nation provides one of

the most serious of the questions to be solved by

the Court of the Great Peoples.

Fortunately for

Europe the agreement of the Powers was
whehning

in its

so over-

unanimity that Servia, the one

;

THE STORY OF ALBANIA

177

Balkan state which ventured to proceed on the Hnes
of I'rince l^ismarck's mistaken dictum, was forced
to

withdraw her pretensions.

last

year

decision

been

has

there

exact

questioning

to

be the exact

new King, and what

are to be the

is

of

to
is

new-comer

the

into

ality

and important

has

been

the

matters of detail which were

circle, are

reserved for discussion by the Great Powers.
central

the

autonomous

^Vlbania

boundaries

European

no

be

that

the further questions, what
status of the

Since the sprinf^ of

fact

is

recognised

The

that Albanian nation-

by

the

European

conscience and that civilisation has been spared a

Twentieth Century Poland.

Between the Albanian and the Slav there stand
centuries of hatred and blood-feud.
The Albanian
regards the Slav as an intruder and a robber

;

the

Slav looks on the Albanian as an inconvenient

person

who,

though

occasionally

always refused to be conquered

;

inestimable advantage of being
Hterature,

he

has

consistently

beaten,

has

and, having the

more

skilled in

represented

the

Albanian as a brigand and a plunderer of
Slav villages.
As a matter of history the boot

silent

is

on the other

leg.

Setting aside the fact that

both Albanian and Slav can be, and

are,

on occasion, the Albanian and

kindred had

his

brigands

been for centuries quarrelhng comfortably

among

ALBANIA

178
themselves

when

Slav hordes poured across

the

the Danube, and drove the old inhabitants by
sheer weight of

uplands,

from

and

Among

tains.

western
the

numbers from the

Adriatic

the uplands to

the

of

side

plains to the

Balkan

the

of

the

facing

peninsula

remnants

the

Sea,

on

crags

inaccessible

the

moun-

the

old

autocthonous peoples of lUyria, Epirus, Macedonia

and Thrace, have
against

negrins

who

of

floods

the

own

Goths,

Kelts,

Like the Monte-

and Turks.

hold

held their

centuries

recurring

the

Bulgars

Serbs,

for

northern part

of

their

mountains, the Albanians have been defeated, and

have seen their villages burned and their families
massacred, but they have never been really con-

The only

quered.

difference

is

that while the

Albanians had been defending their fastnesses for

many

generations before the Slavs of Montenegro

came south of the Danube, they have never had
the good fortune, or it may be the intelligence, to
acquire

a

really

powerful

literary

Even Lord Byron passed them over
the

Greeks,

though

he

credited

knee

"

his

shown an enemy

back or broken

guest.

It

is

in favour of

the

"wild

with never having

Albanian kirtled to
his

advertiser.

his faith to a

unlikely that the liberation of Greece

would have been obtained had

it

not been for the

Albanian warriors who supplied the best fighting

THE STORY OF ALBANIA

179

material for the insurrection.

Admiral Miaoulis,

the Botzaris, the Boulgaris and

many

other heroes

of the beginning of the last century were Albanians

modern Greek

or of Albanian extraction, but the
lives

on the

achievements of the ancient

literary

men

Hellenes, while the strong
their ancestors

who

lived before

of Albania, like

Agamemnon,

are

relegated to obscurity because they have no one to

focus the gaze of

Europe upon them.

Byron, Finlay and a hundred others did their

make Europe

best to

Greek

is

the

true

that the

modern

descendant of the

ancient

believe

them ever gave the Albanian
him. Then the fashion changed

Hellene, but none of

the credit due to

;

the Slav came to the front, and Mr. Gladstone,

Lord Tennyson with

his

Irby of Serajevo and

Montenegrin sonnet. Miss
a

host of

forward to extol the Serb and the

but

still

Slavised Bulgar

average

man

original

owners

the

that the Turks took
of Kossovo

it

in 1389.

silent

on

his

battle

to

serve

crags,

as

less

came

sympathetic

with the result that the

that

believes

of

;

writers

the Slavs

Balkan

were the

peninsula,

and

from them at the battle

The Albanian, proud and
without

even

a

disastrous

a peg for advertisement,

has

through the centuries asked nothing of Europe
and has been given it in ample measure.
Perhaps
the Greeks did not live up to the glory that was

;

ALBANIA

180

expected of them, and so slipped into the background, but

is

it

came to
and by 1880

certain that the Slavs

the front in the mid- Victorian days,

were

The

pampered children of

tlie

Slavised Bulgar

to

man,

was a

little

it

keep up the enthusiasm on

pleasant and

picturesque

his behalf

is

outwardly a

creature

with a keen

But the Serb

heat.

fever

a dour, hard-working

and unpolished, and

self-centred
difficult to

is

hysterical Europe.

Constantine, the last of

sense of dramatic values.

the Byzantine Emperors,

fell

even more dramati-

at Constantinople than did Lazar,

cally

the last

Serbian Czar, at Kossovopolje, but the national

mourning

for the black

day of Kossovo seems to

have struck the imagination of Europe, while the
historically far more important death of Constantine Palseologus inside the gate of St.

on

May

29th, 1453, has left

The Serb

is

it

Romanus

untouched.

sympathetic in the passive sense of

the word he attracts people with his easy philosophy
and his careless way of treating and looking at life.
;

The modern Bulgar does not
respect,

perhaps,

but not

attract

affection.

;

he inspires

In

racial

characteristics the Serbs are akin to the western

and the Bulgarians to the lowland Scotch
and the more plausible man naturally makes the
more favourable impression on the passing observer.
Irish,

So

it

is

that

writers

on

the

Balkans often

THE STORY OF ALHANIA

181

unwittingly inspire their untravelled readers with
the notion that the Serbs,
Servians and

represented by the

now

were

Montenegrins,

the

original

owners of the Balkans, but shared the eastern part
with the Bulgars, while the Turks were intruders

who

unjustly seized the country and are

surrendering

it

now justly
In

to the rightful possessors.

reality,

the Albanians, or Shkypetars as they are properly
called, represent the original

owners of the peninsula,

Danube

for the Serbs did not cross the

550

nor the Bulgars

A.U.,

till

679

until about

when the

a.d.,

Shkypetars had enjoyed over eleven hundred years'
possession of the land, enlivened
fights, battles

by petty

with or under the Macedonian kings,

and struggles with Rome.

In every town and

which the Slavs can claim by right

district

under some

conquest

original ownership of the

soil,

invaders

title

known

The Romans, unlike most
who came after them, were

in the

the

of

adminis-

and a province was usually the better

their rule.

of

from ages when

neither history nor the Slavs were

Balkans.

of

and transitory

nebulous

Empire, the Albanians can oppose the

trators,

tribal

The Thrako-Illyrian

now

tribes,

for
re-

presented by the Shkypetars or Albanians, were

however not seriously disturbed by the
governors

and

colonists,

neglected and allowed

to

or

rather

lapse

into

Roman

they
a

Avere

state of

ALBANIA

182

lethargy fi'om the turbulent sort of civilisation to

which their own kings had raised them.

The

Romans policed but did not open up the country.
But when the Slavs and the Bulgars swept over
the land like a swarm of locusts, the original
inhabitants were either exterminated or fled to the

mountains, where they led a

fighting existence

what was termed authority but which to
minds was the tyranny of the supplanter and

against
their

The

usurper.

hundred

five

years'

struggle

of

Montenegro against the Turks has often been told
in

The more

language.

enthusiastic

than

a

thousand years' struggle of the Shkypetars against
the Slav and the

Turk has always been passed

over as an incident of no importance.

The very name " Albanian " lends
prejudice.
To the Western European
of Albanian

the travellers' tales
the

stories

guards.

about

the

The name

it

to

recalls

brigands,

and

Abdul Hamid's

Sultan

sounds,

itself

and

is,

modern,

whereas Serb, as admirers of the modern Servians
very wisely write the word, has an ancient flavour.

The

tribes that are

now known

recognise themselves

as

Albanian do not

by that name.

They

are

Shkypetars, the Sons of the Mountain Eagle, and
their country

is

Shkyperi or Shkypeni, the Land

of the Mountain Eagle.
that Pyrrhus,

when

told

They have
by

his

a legend

troops that his

THE STORY OF ALBANIA
movements

in

as rapid as the

swoop of an

was true because

his soldiers

war were

eagle, replied that

it

183

were Sons of the Eagle and their lances were the
pinions

upon which he

foundation in

goes to show that the

fact, it

Shkypetar was known

and

to,

name

or adopted by, the people

about 300

their king

had any

If this story

flew.

and one can only

B.C.,

marvel at the modesty which dates the name no
further back.

At any

rate,

Pyrrhus, the greatest

was a Shkypetar or Albanian,
and beside him the Czar Dushan is a modern and
an interloper. The name Albania was not heard
soldier of his age,

of until the end of the eleventh century

when

the

Normans under Robert Guiscard, after defeating
the Emperor Alexius Comnenus at Durazzo,
marched

to Elbassan, then called Albanopolis,

finding the native

name too

for

difficult

and
their

tongues, styled the country of which Albanopolis
is

the chief

town by the easy term

The word, which does not appear
used

officially until

century,

properly

the

first

to have been

half of the fourteenth

designates

the

land

western side of the Caspian Sea, and
fusion has arisen from the

wrestle with the

" Albania."

Norman

word Shkypetar.

on the

much

con-

incapacity to

Many

educated

Albanians claim that they are descended from the
Pelasgi, but this
authorities.

is

combated by some European

As we know next

to nothing about

ALBANIA

184

the Pelasgi, the question

resolves

itself

into

a

matter of speculation incapable of proof either way,

but at any rate

it is

certain that the Shkypetars

are the descendants of those Thrako-Illyrian tribes

which, by whatever

Greek

name they were

writers, occupied the

of Hellas

The

when

earliest

who

called

by

country to the north

was emerging out of legend.

history

known king

of Illyria

is

said to be

Under his grandson
Daunius the land was invaded by the Liburnians,
who fled from Asia after the fall of Troy. The
Hyllus,

died in

1225.

b.c.

Liburnians occupied

the

coast of Dalmatia

and

the islands from Corfu northwards, and gradually

became absorbed

Only North

in the population.

Albania was included in

Illyria,

north over

the Herzegovina

South Albania was known

Dalmatia.

and

Montenegro,

this division of the

of the

which stretched

historical

and

as Epirus,

country makes the selection

facts

relating to

whole, more than usually

difficult.

Albania as a

But

it is

easy to

guess that the centuries as they pass saw continual
tribal

fights

between the

the Macedonians and
peoples,

and about 600

The

the Epirots,

the other Thrako-Illyrian

great invasions of which
ledge.

Illyrians,

b.c.

came the

we have any

first

of the

clear

know-

history of the Balkan peninsula has

always alternated at longer or shorter intervals

between

local

quarrels

and

huge incursions

of

THE STORY OF ALBANIA
who swept

barbarians

merged the

plains,

subdued.

is

It

lowlands

for while the people of the

lies,

absorbed

un-

the mountains

left

mountains that Albanian

in these

history principally

and sub-

across the land

but

185

by

absorbed

were

or

tlie

the older races fled to the mountains

invaders,

and preserved intact

The

customs.

their primitive language

Kelts were

the

and

barbarian

first

invaders and, as was usual in such incursions as
distinct

from widespread

racial

immigrations, they

men

were probably a small body of fighting

and children, who were soon

their wives

whom

mass of the people among

the Liburnians

lost in the

they settled.

kingdom of
Scutari was the capital and, hke

They were absorbed
which Scodra or

with

whom

in the

Illyrian

they supplanted at

sea,

they

gained fame and wealth as pirates in the Adriatic

and even

of the fourth century
Illyria,

In the

in the JNlediterranean.
b.c.

first

half

Bardyles, the king of

conquered Epirus and a

good

part

of

Macedonia, but he was defeated and driven back
to his mountains by Philip, the father of Alexander
the Great.

A

little

later

Alexander the king of

the Molossi in South Albania
into Italy,

and so brought

made an

Rome

expedition

into contact with

the opposite shores of the Adriatic.

All these

petty kingdoms were evidently merely subdivisions
of the same race, and were closely connected with

;

ALBANIA

18G

one another.
JMolossi,

The

of Alexander, king of the

sister

was the mother of Alexander the Great

men who marched

the

Babylon, Persia and

to

India were the ancestors of the Albanians

;

and

Epirus and lUyria shared in the anarchy which

who

followed the death of the great conqueror,

has

himself been claimed as a Shkypetar, and with
considerable justice.

Towards the

close

of the third century b.c.

Agron emerged from the

king

of

Bardyles' old realm and also of Epirus.

Like

his

kinsman Alexander the Great he was a

first-rate

fighting

and

left

differed

Teuta,
said

man, and

him he died

as

after a debauch,

an infant son to succeed him.

But he

from the hero

widow,

who was

to

like

welter

in lea\dng also a

a lady of

much

She

character.

have stretched a chain across the river

Boiana where two

hills

shut in the stream above

the village of Reci, and to have levied a
ships going

up and down.

toll

The Albanians

on

to be seen in the rocks.

army, built a

set

less

still

raised

an

than modern

out to capture the island of

(now Lissa) which happened to be

with the Romans.
to

and with

fleet,

Albanian caution

Moreover she

all

say that

the rings to which she fastened her chains are

Issa

is

The repubhc

in alhance

sent an embassy

Teuta, but she slew one of the envoys and

defiantly

attacked

Durazzo

and

Corfu.

The

THE STORY OF ALBANIA

187

Romans thereupon turned their arms to the
She
Illyrian coast and made short work of Teuta.
was driven from

all

the places she had occupied,

even from her capital Scodra, and had to accept an
In spite of this the Illyrian

ignominious peace.

had

Shkypetars

not

learned

realised the

growing power of Rome.

of Pharos,

who succeeded Teuta

nor

lesson,

their

Demetrius

as ruler of the

country and guardian of Agron's son, although he
owed much to Rome, began to rob and pillage the
aUies of the repubhc,

Shkypetar States

in

and endeavoured to unite the
one alhance. He failed, and

the lands of the Shkypetar

who

the Romans,

fell

under the power of

contented themselves with exer-

cising a protectorate over the realm of the

The

king Pinnes.

three Shkypetar States, Illyria,

Epirus and INIacedonia, rose against
Philip of JNIacedon

way

young

Rome

when Hannibal seemed

under

in a fair

to crush the republic, only a small portion of

what

is

now Albania

faithful to its

When
disposed
across

Scodra,

of,

engagements.
Carthaginian

the

Rome

allied

been

Gentius, the last king in

himself

Macedon and had returned
of his ancestors.

had

danger

once more turned to the lands

the Adriatic.

had

south of the Drin remaining

with

Perseus

of

to the Adriatic piracy

Thirty days saw the

Northern Shkyperi kingdom.

fall

of the

The praetor Amicius

ALBANIA

188
in B.C. 108 hiiided

into

on the coast and drove Gentius

where the

Scodra,

king

soon

afterwards

surrendered at discretion, and was taken with his

two sons and

wife, his

triumph of Rome.

his brother to

grace the

Perseus was utterly defeated

by the Consul PauUus at Pydna shortly afterwards,
and

the lands of the Shkypetar became in-

all

corporated in the lloman Empire.
particular

Epirus

in

was severely punished, and the prosperity

of the country which hitherto had been considerable,

The Shkypetars
mountains, and the Romans did

was completely ruined.

took to their

nothing to restore the wealth and culture of the

The cities, even Scodra,
and when Augustus founded

times of the native kings.
fell

into

decay,

Nicopolis on the north of the Gulf of Arta in

commemoration of the

battle of

Actium, there was

not a single city of any importance in Epirus or
Illyria.

Nicopolis itself did not last long, for

under Honorius

it

a Greek lady, and

when

fifth

had become the property of
Alaric and his Goths in the

century overran Illyria and Epirus, the city

was sacked, and from that time ceased to be a
place of any note. Under the Empire the deserted
country
Illyria

was divided between the provinces
and

Epirus,

North

Albania

When

southern portion of

Illyria.

Empire was divided

in a.d. 395,

of

being the
the

Roman

the Shkypetars

THE STORY OF ALBANIA

189

were allotted to the Eastern Empire, and the
country was known as Praevalitana, with Scodra

The condition of the land must
have been very much what it was under the
The prefects of the Empire ruled on the
Turks.

for its capital.

coast and in the plains, but in the mountains the

Shkypetars enjoyed semi-independence, and as a

consequence of

more

this neglect the

country remained

Hut the Shkypetars were

or less derelict.

unquestionably the owners of the

under the

soil

Imperial rule of Constantinople.

In the

fifth

century came the

of the great

first

Empire of Byzantium
was finally to disappear. The rebel Goths under
Alaric, after invading Greece, swung north and

invasions under which the

ravaged Epirus and

had so

Illyria,

far neglected

provinces which they

owing to the poverty of the

land since the occupation by the Romans.
the

Goths

invaded

Italy,

When

enjoyed

Shkyperi

a

period of comparative tranquillity under Justinian,

and

The Huns

the coming of the Slavs.

until

they did
and the Avars were passing invaders
not settle on the land, but they drove the Thrako;

lllyrian

tribes,

who

spoke

both

Shkypetar, into the mountains, and

open
sixth

for

the Slavs.

century

crossed the

was

at

left

the

the

and

way

end of the

tribes,

who had

in scattered bodies

some three

that

Danube

It

Latin

the

Slav

ALBANIA

190

hundred years previously, came

numbers to
and

sometimes

and the lowlands were ravaged

settle,

them sometimes

by

occupied

overwhelming

in

and

alone,

The

conjunction with the Avars.

in

Thrako-IUyrians

were

Romanised Britons

;

at

that

time

like

the

they had become enervated

under the Pax Romana and were unable to resist
invaders.
They fled into the
the ruthless

mountains of Albania, and there they gradually

dropped the Latin language and the veneer of

Roman

civilisation.

They were men who had

to fight for their lives

the weaklings died

;

off,

and the old tongue and the old customs of the
Shkypetars were once more resumed.

though

plausible

a

when he

and

soft-spoken

has got the upper hand,

savage, and the Thrako-IUyrians

is

The

Serb,

individual
at heart a

who were

driven

out of Thrace and Macedonia to the highlands
of Epirus, and Southern Illyria were the sterner

remnants of a population which had seen old men,

women and

children massacred,

burned by the invaders.

and homesteads

Then began

that undying

hatred between the Shkypetar and the Serb which
is

bitter

even to-day, for the Albanian

on the Slav
of

house

as

and

still

looks

the intruder and the destroyer

home.

This explains

why

the

modern Albanian has always been more friendly
with the Moslem Turk than with the Christian

THE STORY OF ALBANIA
Slav.

The

were

trifles

brutalities

191

committed by the Turks

compared with the

of the

atrocities

Slav.

In the

first

half of the seventh century the

Slavs were recognised officially

them

persuaded

Heraclius

to

by the Empire.
turn

arms

their

against the Avars, and after that they held the

lands they had seized

in

fief

of the Byzantine

Empire, but governed by their own Zhupans.
Thrako-Illyrian

Shkypetars were

confined to the mountains of what

the Slavs occupying what are

The

thenceforward
is

now

now

Albania,

Servia,

Monte-

negro, Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Dalmatia,

Ragusa

as their capital.

The next

with

intruders into

the Balkan peninsula were the Bulgars, an Asiatic
race

who

crossed from Bessarabia at the end of the

They were a people akin to the
Turks who were to come after them, and Hke

seventh century.

the Turks they were principally a fighting race.

But, whereas the Turks have always stood alone

and apart

in

Europe, the Bulgars became Slavised

and adopted the speech and manners of the people
they turned

out

of

the eastern

lands

of

the

They adopted
in 864
under Boris, who like his namesake of to-day
Christianity

peninsula.

was converted, and under
about

900

ephemeral

'*

A.D.,

they

empires

" of

his

Simeon

successor

founded

one

of

those

the Balkans which sprang

ALBANIA

192

mushrooms alongside the more lasting and
dignified Roman Empire at Byzantium.
Simeon's
up

like

rule extended right across the north of the

peninsula,

and displaced that of the Serbs who

were brought under
were included
before

it

Balkan

in

was

his

The Shkypetars

rule.

the Bulgarian Empire, but as

only

the

and

plains

mountains which were held by the

not

the

conquerors.

Simeon's rule, though he vauntingly took the

title

of Czar or Caesar, was merely nominal in the West,

and when he died

Shishman and

pieces.

kept the

Czar

his

empire went to

Samuel, however,

his son

West independent

their capital at Ochrida,

the

927

in a.d.

of Byzantium with

and probably the reign of

Simeon was

the

period

when

the

Shkypetars were most nearly subjugated by the
Slav or Sla vised

intruders.

Empire of Simeon was

Emperor

utterly

Basil Bulgaroktonos,

passed under the

But

in

1018

the

crushed by the

and Albania again

nominal sway of Byzantium,

while Bulgars and Serbs were ruled direct from

the Imperial Court.

In turn the spurt of energy from Constantinople died down, for equally with the Bulgarian

and Serbian hegemonies,
one man.
Asen,

He

A

new

it

depended on the

leader arose in Bulgaria,

life

of

John

who claimed to be descended from Shishman.

rebelled successfully against the Empire, and,

THE STORY OF ALBANIA
after his

193

murder, under his successors and especially

John AsenlL, Albania was contained
Bulgarian

Empire.

Nominally

in the

the

second

Shkypetars

passed from the Empire to the Bulgars, and from
the Bulgars to the Serbs, and back again at every
shifting of the kaleidoscope, but the hold of all the

Empires was too ephemeral to allow of a costly
conquest of the barren mountains.
the

Emperor

or

When

either

the Slavs gained decidedly the

upper hand, the plains and towns of Shkyperi

fell

under the conqueror, but in the feeble intervals
the plains and at
the

all

hands of that unsubdued

ancient inhabitants
died

times the mountains were in

in

1241

—the

a.d.,

remnant of the

Shkypetars.

John Asen

and the leadership of

the

Balkan Slavs began to pass to the Serbs under
the

Nemanja dynasty, who

first

called themselves

Kings and afterwards Czars of Serbia.
of Serbia fought witli

the

The

Stefans

Palaeologi Emperors

army
being crushed at the battle of Velbuzhd on June
The North Albanians remained more
28th, 1330.
and with

the

Bulgarians,

or less independent while

the

all

Bulgarian

these quarrels were

going on around them, but in the time of the Czar

Dushan,

the

Strangler,

included in his Empire.

a.d.

133G,

they

were

After the break-up of

Dushan's kingdom. North Albania was ruled from
Scodra by the Princes of the Balsha family of

ALBANIA

194
Provence,
Czars.

who had taken

service with the Serbian

Roman

In 1368 the Prince became a

CathoUc, and the North Albanian mountaineers

have remained of that rehgion ever

The

since.

Balshas greatly increased their dominions, but in

1383 George Balsha

I.

was defeated and

killed

by

the Turks near Berat, and George Balsha II. gave

Scodra and Durazzo to the Venetians in return
for their assistance

against the Turks.

But the

Venetians did not aiFord Balsha help of any value,

and the family retired to Montenegro and were
succeeded in North Albania by the Castriot family
of Croja, who were native-born Shkypetars and
extended their rule over the whole of the country
South and
except the places held by Venice.

Middle Albania were independent under the rule
of the Despot of Epirus, Michael Angelus who,

though

illegitimate, claimed to

be the heir of the

Emperors Isaac and Alexius Angelus.
the

Albanian

Dukes

tribes,

discomfited

the

He

raised

Prankish

of Thessalonica and Athens, and after his

death his nephew, John Angelus, fought with John

Dukas

for

defeated in

the Empire of Byzantium, but was

1241 a.d.

The

heir of the

AngeH

then retired to the Albanian mountains, and as

Despots of Epirus the family ruled the country in
spite of the

Emperor

Meanwhile the

for several years.

last of

the conquerors of the

THE STORY OF ALBANIA
Balkans were overrunning the peninsula.

195
In 1354

the Turks were invited over to Thrace by John

Cantacuzenus to help him against the Palaeologi.
They seized and settled at Gallipoli, and in 1361

Murad

Sultan
invaded,

took Adrianople.

I.

and crushed

at

Servia was

Kossovopolje in

where some Albanians under

1389,

their Prince Balsha

fought in the army of the Czar Lazar.

The Sultan
Murad II. advanced against Albania in 1423, and
took among others the four sons of John Castriot
of Croja as hostages.
The youngest of these sons
was George

famous Scanderbeg, who
Constantinople by the Sultan.

Castriot, the

was educated

at

In 1443 he rose against the Turks and seized
Croja, and though army after army was sent
against

him he defeated many

viziers

and generals

and the Sultan Murad himself The bravery of
the Albanians and the difficulties of the mountains

made
even

the leadership of Scanderbeg invincible, and

Mahomet

II.,

the Conqueror, was beaten by

the Albanian prince at Croja in 1465.

But Scan-

derbeg was unable to get any help from Europe,
and he died in 1467 leaving no worthy successor.
Croja was taken by jVIahomet

II. in

1478, and the

next year Scodra, Antivari and other towns on the
coast were surrendered to the Turks by Venice.

In

the

practical

mountains

the

independence

Albanians

under

the

always had
Turks,

but

ALBANIA

196

Scodm was

At

at first

governed by Turkish Pashas.

the beginning of the eighteenth century a

Mahometan Albanian

Bey

JNIehemet

chief,

of

Bouchatti, a village just south of Scodra, seized

the city and massacred his

powerful that the Porte thought
the

He

rivals.

Pashalik hereditary in

it

wise to

so

make

and

family,

his

was

he

governed not only Scodra but also Alessio, Tiranna,
Elbassan and the

Dukadjin.

Kara INIahmoud,

was quite an independent Prince. He
twice invaded Montenegro and burned Cettigne,
his

son,

and defeated the Turkish troops at Kossovopolje,
but in 1796 he was defeated and killed in Montenegro.

His descendants ruled North Albania, and
in Bosnia

headed revolts

Servia,

War

the Porte sent an

and fought

But

Sultan with success.

aofainst the

Crimean

and

army

after

the

to Scodra,

and the reign of the Moslem Albanian Pashas of
Bouchatti came to an end. While the Pashas of
Bouchatti

were

defying

the

Sultan

in

North

Albania, Ali Pasha of Janina defeated them in

He

the south.
after a long

united the South Albanians, but

and successful

career,

he was

finally

besieged in the castle of Janina and put to death
in 1822.

During the

last half

century the country

has been governed from Constantinople, but though

the towns were occupied by garrisons the
taineers retained

their

moun-

arms, their independence

THE STORY OF ALBANIA
and

their tribal laws

leadership of

Bib Doda of

The Albanian

and customs.

League, which was founded

Hodo Bey
JNlirditia,

107

1878 under the

in

Prenck

of Scodra and

united the

Mahometans

and Christians of North Albania to protest against
the cession of Gussigne and Plava to JNlontenegro,

and was successful to the extent of getting the
Dulcigno
towns.

substituted

district

In spite of the exile of

mountain

the

for

Hodo Bey and

Prenck Bib Doda the League has always had a
subterranean existence directed against
of Albanian nationality.

Only

in

a less degree

than Montenegro did Albania preserve

from the Turkish

rulers,

enemies

all

freedom

its

and that was owing to

the ease with which the plains and coast can be

occupied by troops.

The

leading families

among

Moslem Albanians have supplied a great
number of civil and military officials to the
Ottoman service, and these Pashas and Beys have
the

proved themselves of the highest
will

state

be no lack of capable rulers
is

ability.

now

There

the

new

constituted.

The Shkypetars have not only preserved their
mountain homes but also their language and their
Albanian, to give it the modern name, is
laws.
a very ancient Aryan tongue which was spoken by
the Balkan tribes before the time of Alexander the
Great.

It

is

a non-Slavonic

language, the Slav

ALBANIA

198

words used being simply additions made

modern

paratively

com-

in

In Old Serbia and on

times.

the borders of Montenegro the Albanians have

mixed and intermarried wdth the

Slavs,

but they

have only adopted a few words of Servian and not
the entire language.

Albanian

has taken place.

Greek, and

among

it

In the south a similar process

has borrowed

is

certainly related to

many

words, especially

the tribes along the border, so

purest Albanian

that

the

to be found in the mountains of

is

Roman Catholic Mirditia and among the Mussulman families in the south of Central Albania. So
much

is

this

the case that the tribes on the

Montenegrin border find some
standing those
Greece.

About

in

the

difficulty in under-

districts

marching with

one-third of the language

is

made

up of words taken from Keltic, Teutonic, Latin
and Slav owing to the invasions from which the
Shkypetars have suffered

;

another third

is

Aeolic

Greek of a very archaic form and the remaining
third is unknown, but probably represents the
;

tongue

of the

ancient

Thrako-Illyrian

tribes.

exact position of Albanian in the

made as to the
Aryan family,

but

a non-Slavonic

Interesting speculations have been

it is

absolutely agreed that

tongue of great antiquity.
difficult

It

it is
is

an extraordinarily

language for a foreigner to speak, and the

Shkypetars claim that none but the native born

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G.

ALBANIAN ALl'UAliKTS.
Oil the left adapted

on the right from Turkish.
;
are used in Xcirth Albania.

from Greek

Konmii

letters

THE STORY OF ALBANIA

11)1)

consonantal

sounds

pronounce

can

The

correctly.
is

tlicir

ditticulty of learning the

increased by the

The

;

want of a

language

suitable alphabet.

Franciscans of Scodra use the

Jesuits and

Latin alphabet

(jueer

in the south the

Orthodox

priests

But neither system is satisfactory, and consequently some grammarians have
introduced diacritical marks, or have mixed up the
use Greek

two

letters.

sets of characters into

one jumbled alphabet.

Albanian has also been written in Turkish characters
but probably with even less success, and it is a
proof of the marvellous vitality of the language
that

it

has survived through

literature,

the ages without a

untaught and unwritten

in the schools.

Except where they have intermingled with
Slavs and other races the Shkypetars are

tall

\

the!

and

Those who have suffered from the poverty
of the mountains have no pretensions to good looks,

fair.

but the

average

mountaineer who belongs to a

well-to-do tribe has an oval face vvdth an aquiline
nose, high cheek bones, blue-grey eyes, fair hair,

and a long golden moustache. Their bodies are
straight and slim and not so heavy as those of the
Montenegrins.

Even

seldom get

but

fat

figures all their lives.

in the

towns the Albanians

preserve their

Some

lithe,

active

of the IMirdites might

pass anywhere for Englishmen of the blonde type.

The Shkypetars have always been

divided hito

two

ALBANIA

200
great families

Tosks

the Ghegs in

;

tlie

north, and the

Skumbi marking the
No meaning has been

in the south, the river

boundary between them.
found for the name Tosk,
" giant,"

signify

and

Gheg

said to

is

the fifteenth century

in

was used by the Turks

but

it

as a sort of title for the

ruling family of Mirditia.

The North Albanians

are divided into tribes or clans

;

those to the north

being grouped under the designation of Malissori,
or

men

of the

Black Mountains, including the

Clementi, Castrati, Hoti, Skreli and other tribes

;

those to the east including Shalla, Shoshi,

Summa

and

Wood-

others, collectively called Pulati or the

landers

who

are

of the
chief

and the confederation of the Mirdites,

;

Roman

Doda

is

Catholics and governed by a chief

family.

Prenck Bib

At the present moment their
Doda Pasha, who was for many

years an exile in Asia

Minor

for his

share in the

In South Albania the Tosks are divided

League.

into three principal groups, the Tosks, the

Tchams

and the Liapes, and they again are subdivided into
tribes.

In North Albania the Mirdites and most

of the Malissori are

Roman Catholics, and they are
men who in 1320, after the

the descendants of the

Serbian Czars, at that time holding Scodra and the
plain,

had abandoned

Catholicism

and

adopted

Orthodoxy, refused to give up their allegiance to
the Pope.

The number

of Orthodox in

North

THE STORY OF ALBANIA
Albania
Scodra,
of the

is

201

very small, and half the inhabitants of

many of* the Malissori, a large proportion
men of Pulati, and nearly all those round
In South

Prisrend, Jacova and Ipek are Moslems.

Albania the townsmen and
principally Moslems,

men

except

of the plains are

towards

where they are mostly

frontier

Albanian

the Greek

Orthodox.

An

reckons that nearly half of the

official

one million eight hundred thousand inhabitants are
JNIoslems

Roman

less

;

than a third Orthodox, and the rest

Catholics.

This

probably near the mark,

is

statistician has

but every

his

own

figures

and the

reasons for them, though to a less degree than in

Macedonia.

The

Albanian

territories

between

Antivari

and Dulcigno were given to Montenegro in 1880
after an armed protest by the Albanian League,

and etlmologically the lands of the Shkypetar
now include Scodra and its plain, the mountains of
the

Malissori,

Gussigne-Plava,

Ipek,

Jacova,

and the country west
of Lakes Ochrida and Janina as far as the Gulf
Prisrend,

Pulati, JMirditia

of Arta.

Round

Slavs,

large

and

Prisrend there

in the south

is

a minority of

below Janina there

is

a

proportion of Greeks, but the limits here

given contain

all

the territories

by the successive

incursions

peninsula of Slavs and

left

to the Shkypetar

into

Bulgars.

the

Balkan

Happily

the

ALBANIA

202

Servian attempt to
to represent Scodra,

them
at

ignore

Durazzo and the plains near

as Slav because the Serbian Czars held

centuries, has failed, chiefly,

owing to the

assertion

must be admitted,

it

by Austria-Hungary of her

and not to any love

interests,

have not one chieftain over

have had a much wider

for historical

Except that they

on the part of Europe.

justice

them

from the seventh to the fourteenth

intervals

own

and

Albanians

the

the tribes, and

all

extent of territory to

defend against more numerous enemies, the case
of

Shkypetars

is

The

Montenegrins.

own

exactly parallel to that of the

Montenegrins

hundred years

for five

a

in

mountains against the Turks only
have

held

their

own

;

held

little

block of

the Shkypetars
over

considerably

for

their

a

thousand years against successive waves of Slavs,
Bulgars

and

They

Turks.

have

been

often

submerged, but they have always come to
surface again,

and by

fight

they

have

their

right

to

plains

and

make up
left

of

it.

their

earned
the

insignificant

their

They

long and stubborn

and over

over

barren

rocks,

harbours

patrimony,

the

or

again

infrequent

which go

rather

are the last remnants

what

to
is

of the

oldest race in Europe, for they represent peoples

who

preceded the Greeks.

in the soil

They were deep-rooted

of the Balkan peninsula ages before

THE STORY OF ALBANIA
the

first

Slav crossed the Danube, and

if

203

the Serb

and the Bulgar have acquired a right to the lands

from which they drove the ancient

tribes, at least

those original inhabitants have justified their claim
to the rocks

and shore from which no enemy, Slav,

Bulgar or Turk, has been able to dislodge them.

XV
NEW KINGDOM

CUTTING OUT THE

Out

of the crucible which has been seething in the

flames of the Balkan war the kingdoms of the

peninsula have emerged aggrandised at the expense
of Turkey, and have been quarrelling over the dis-

They were not

tribution of the spoil ever since.

allowed to cut up Albania altogether, and from the

body which was

after

left

the limbs had been

lopped off to satisfy the Allies, Europe has begun

new

the creation of a

state,

the last of those which

have been built out of the fragments of the Byzantine

and Turkish Empires by modern diplomatists.

Albania
with

all

cratic

being

is

made

autonomous

into an

state

the blessings of parliamentary and bureau-

government, with

of elections

all

its

complete.

own

prince and system

This

is

the last state

which can be manufactured out of the ancient
material of Europe, unless, as

Austria

is

some Slavs

hold,

to be partitioned in the future, but the

nationality which

is

to

compose

it is

so distinct

and

separate from the rest of Europe, and so unlike

CUTTING OUT THE

NEW KINGDOM

that of the Slav races by which
that

outcome of the

natural

of

autonomous

creation as an

its

European governments,
with which

and not

its

strict justice,

states

and

is

if

but the

The

the

in,

future

circle

of

skill

Expediency,

has always ruled the decisions

who

what seems to be the
prevail,

is

depend on the

will

are the final Court of

such matters, but

in

into

boundaries are drawn.

of the Great Powers,

Appeal

state

logic of events.

new-comer

Albania, this

hemmed

is

it

205

if

easiest

a mistaken idea of

way

is

allowed to

the land greed of the neighbouring

permitted to supplant the natural and

ethnical frontiers by boundaries inspired

by

earth-

hunger, then the Near Eastern Question, so far

from being

settled, will

only be shifted to another

phase, and the Slav will stand out as the oppressor
of

nationalities

in

the

Balkans in place of the

The Albanian comes

Turk.

Europe, he
of the

soil,

Turk,

is

is

of the oldest race in

the descendant of the original owners

and to him the

much as the
The Slav
supplanter.

Slav, just as

an intruder and a

was only overrun by the Turk

;

the Albanian was

overrun by the Slav in addition to the Turk, and
the future of Europe's latest experiment in state
building depends upon the recognition of this
It

is

said that

an ingenious

man

fact.

of science has

succeeded in manufacturing an egg without the aid
of the usual hen, but with the correct chemical

ALBANIA

206

constituents and the familiar appearance.
respect

it is

tifically

who

so exactly like an eggy and

so scien-

is

man

accurate in composition, that only the

eats

it

doubts of

recognises that there

appearance

and

triumph

art

of

perfect

its

is

nature

over

the egg which Europe

is

beyond outward

is

is

known

as

now endeavouring
;

its

boundaries of

all

memories of

state,

those of

Since for the sentimental

the nationality.

to

a state

but that which makes a living

the inclusion within

the

the gravest danger

produce should be of the Synthetic variety

faction of

This

components.

chemical

Synthetic Egg, and there

in everything

and

success,

something more, something

is

an egg which

indefinable, in

lest

In every

satis-

their evanescent empires of

mediaeval times, the Bulgar and the Serb have been

allowed to lop off the fairest portions of the too

meagre heritage of the Albanians, the new state
runs the gravest risk of being addled from its inception.

The

unrest will smoulder in the Balkans

ready to burst into a flame at any moment, for the

Turk was the spasmodic but usually easy-going
tyrant of the old school, whereas the Slav will be

the tyrant of the

new bureaucracy which

cloaks

oppression under the pretence of legality.

Albanian

who

is

left

The

outside the border will be

always struggling to join his brothers in the
state,

its

and the story of the Macedonian

new

risings will

CUTTING OUT THE

NEW KINGDOM

be repeated over again, and with greater
tion.

The

future of a " synthetic "

Albania can be told in one word

207

justifica-

and

artificial

bloodshed.

;

After the victorious march of the Bulgarians,
Servians and Greeks through Thrace and Macedonia, the pretence that

war was declared to

free

the brothers in Macedonia was abandoned for the

frank confession of a desire for an extension of

There was no need to

territory.

from the Turks

—time

Macedonia

free

was doing that

—but

much of

one of the three Allies hastened to save as
it

as he could

prise, for it

from

his

two partners

was obvious to

Young Turks had

of

all

given the

empire of Turkey in Europe.

in the enter-

them

that the

blow to the

final

We

each

heard nothing

more of the absurd proposal to erect an autonomous
Macedonia with a Prince and parliament of its
own.

The

Allies at once partitioned

and the fury of the second Balkan

it

on paper,

War

between

the four Allies showed the lengths to which their

land-hunger carried them.

Europe

definitely de-

cided that there shall be a principality of Albania,

and the Allies did not dare to give a point-blank
refusal.

But they drew an Albania on the map

which would shut the Albanians
mountains and the poorest

in to the

narrow

strip of seaboard,

many plausible reasons,
and historical, why the

and

they advanced

ethnological,

geographical

ancient race

ALBANIA

208
should yield

its

towns and lowlands to the Slav

and the Greek, and go starve on a ridge of

sterile

crags until a cheap process of extermination

hunger has made the time ripe

for a final partition

of the stony ground of an abortive principality.

any
will

case,

by the

di

Related Interests

ision of

by
In

Macedonia, Albania

be shut in on the north and east by Slavs and

on the south by Greece, and the scheme of the
allies

was to draw the boundaries so

close that she

would be strangled from the start.
There were three Albanias in the market

for

Europe to choose from, and it is well to note what
they were. First there was the scheme of the

Government of Albania under Ismail
Kemal Bey of Avlona, which demanded all the

Provisional

lands in the west of the Balkan peninsula that are
inhabited

by

a majority of Albanians and were

till

The boun-

recently under the rule of the Sultan.

From

dary was

easily followed

Boiana

kept to the present Montenegrin frontier

it

on the north
bazar,

south

till

it

on any map.

reached the Sandjak of Novi-

of Berane, whence

course of the river

I bar

it

followed the

to Mitrovitza, the terminus

of the railway running north from Salonica.
in the

the

It

took

famous plain of Kossovopolje, to which the

Serbs have a sentimental claim as

it

was there that

the Serbian kingdom was finally defeated and the

Czar Lazar

slain

by the Sultan Murad on June

15,

CUTTING OUT THE

But the Albanians have

1389.

claim to the

them

NEW KINGDOM

field, for

also a sentimental

not only did a contingent of

fight against the

but Kara

209

Turks

Mahmoud Pasha

as allies of the Serbs,

of Scodra, the semi-

independent ruler of North Albania, defeated the
Sultan's

army

there in 178G.

The boundary

in-

cluded the railway line as far south as Koprulu,
taking in Ferizovich, where the Albanian tribes

proclaimed their independence on July 15, 1908,

and Uskub, whose inhabitants are

in

the great

majority JNIoslem Albanians, with about twentyfive per cent, of

Bulgarians and seven per cent, of

The town was taken over

Servians.

April,

in

1912, by the Albanians from the Turkish govern-

ment, and captured by

the

October 26, in the same year.

Servian

army on

From Koprulu

the

Albanian Provisional Government's boundary ran
south to the angle of the JNlonastir railway near
Fiorina, between

then struck

Lakes Presba and Ostrovo, and

east, leaving

out Kastoria, to a point

Lake Presba, whence
the Greek frontier.

nearly south of

south to

it

ran due

This attempt at the delimitation of the boundaries

would no doubt have been accepted by

Europe

if

the ^Vlbanians were strong enough or

popular enough to

command

a propaganda such as

has been worked by the friends of the Greeks, the

Bulgarians and the Servians, for

it

included the
P

ALBANIA

210

country in which the Albanians are undoubtedly in
the majority, and in which the other nationalities

only maintained themselves by the most

have

unscrupulous
Religion

is

and

religious

political

intrigues.

They

not the Albanians' strong point.

are Moslem, Orthodox,

and Latin, and usually

opportunists, with

or

little

But

no organisation.

the Greeks have a magnificent organisation which
dates from the Byzantine Empire, and ever since

the Turkish occupation has wielded powers second

With

only to those of the Sultan and the Porte.
the

Greeks

nationality,

religion

almost took the place of

and Greek means, and has meant

centuries, not so

much

for

those of Hellenic birth, as

those of the Greek or Orthodox faith.

This was

the strength of the Phanariots, and the lazy toler-

ance of the Turks allowed the Orthodox Church to
Until com-

become an empire within an empire.

paratively recent times Servians, Bulgarians, and

South Albanians were

European mind

all

massed together

as Greeks, because they

the Greek Patriarch, and

it

was not

in the

were under

until

modern

who
West

Servia began to emerge under Kara George,

was by no means a

awoke

religious leader, that the

to the fact that there were other nationaUties

than the Greek under Turkish

As

for the

more completely forgotten
though nowadays with the armies

Bulgars, they were even

than the Serbs,

rule.

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M.VTTHEW.

This is one of the means for
Greeks in Southern Albania.

tiirnini,'

Alhanians into

CUTTING OUT THE

NEW KINGDOM

211

of the Czar Ferdinand at bay against the Balkan
world,

it

seems almost incredible that

turies the Bulgarian nationality

vague memory

in

cen-

was nothing but a

Europe.

But even before the Bulgarian
the leading

for

men among

atrocity agitation

the Bulgarians had recog-

nised the correct line of policy, and had realised
that

the

Greek Church and the Patriarch

at

Constantinople were more powerful levers than

any mere

political organisation

fore they

worked

could be.

There-

for the establishment of a Bul-

garian Church free from the control of the Patriarch,

and

in

1870 the Bulgarian Exarchate was founded

by the permission of the Sultan. From that date
the advance of Bulgaria was rapid, owing to the
establishment of churches and schools.

Greece

and Servia took alarm, but Servia was too

late to

stand in line with her two

hostile

rivals.

These

Churches were the cause of the recent disturbances
in

Macedonia.

Greeks and Bulgarians especially

" converted " the villages with fire
in

Macedonia and

all

and sword, and

along the Albanian frontier

must never be forgotten, in dealing with the
boundary question, that Greek, Bulgarian and

it

Servian

Church

mean

the

adherents

in those countries,

of those nationalities.

of the

Orthodox

and not necessarily men

This

is

where the Albanians

have the disadvantage, and in addition they have

ALBANIA

212

Moslem Albanians

the further misfortune that

known

always

as Turks,

show that

many thousand
many thousand are

so

Turks, and so
really the

which most emphatically

Thus, in Southern Albania

they are not.

men so classified

statistics

inhabitants

are

Greeks, whereas

are almost

of the JVIoslem or Orthodox

Albanians

all

This

belief.

by

be abandoned by those

who

so

is

convenient a method of gulling Europe that

never likely to

are

it is

profit

Occasionally race and religion tally, but in

it.

the majority of cases what

is

indicated

is

the form

of religion and not the race, and the Albanians,

who have no

Patriarch,

no Exarch, no schools and

no propaganda,

suffer

and of the

principles of scientific advertising.

It

is

first

all

their lack of organisation

most improbable that the

therefore

new

boundaries of the
include

from

state will

be drawn so as to

the lands inhabited by the Albanians.

Four modern kingdoms surround the
the descendants
tribes,

territory of

the ancient Thrako-IUyrian

of

each one hungering for a bite out of the

too poverty-stricken plains
of the

final

hills.

all

owned by the people

All four have in varying degree got

the ear of Europe

advocates of their

;

all

have clever spokesmen and

own and

foreign countries though

the Bulgarians, owing to their greed, have been
driven

The

away from the

Albanians,

who

front

by

since the

their former friends.

coming of the Turks

CUTTING OUT THE

NEW KINGDOM

213

have given some of their most briUiant statesmen to

Turkey, Italy and Greece, have to fight their
battle with the

own

tongue and pen, weapons to which

home they are

Even the powerful
advocacy of Austria does not stand them in good
stead as the rest of Europe suspects that it is
actuated, not so much by the principles of abstract
at

justice, as

ill-accustomed.

by the

However, since

from becoming entirely Slavised.

Europe decided upon the

mous Albania the
diplomatists,

Near East

desire to prevent the

creation of an autono-

who

Allies,

adopted

the

less

admirable

are

policy

heroic

of

attempting to strangle the infant state at birth, by

doing their utmost to confine

it

to the barren rocks

and swampy sea coast which, with the possible
exception of Durazzo, no one on earth covets, so
wild and stern are they.

Confident in the ignorance and heedlessness of
AVestern Europe, the Allies proposed to depri

Related Interests

e

Albania of

Even the

all

that

is

birthplace of

most

distinctly Albanian.

George

Castriot, Scander-

beg, was not to be left to the people at

whose head

he defeated Pashas and Sultans for years, unaided

and unsupported by Christian Europe
ruined Castle of
codified

Lek

the ancient

mountains

;

even

;

even the

Dukajini, the prince

laws and

the

customs

of

who
the

homes of Ali Pasha of

Yanina and of Kara JNlahmoud Pasha of Scodra,

ALBANIA

214.

were not to be included in the
the

allies

official

could have their way.

Albania

if

All were to be

Iianded over to Slav or Greek, and Albania was

made

to be

into a state in

name

everything which could enable

only, shorn of

it

to live as an

independent and self-governing principality.

which the united

frontier

intellect or

The

cunning of

the four kingdoms devised will not take long to

Hitherto the Black Drin has been con-

delimit.

by the most Slavophil boundary-monger

sidered

to be the meanest Umit of Albania to the north,

and the

Kalamas to the south by the PhilBut even those poor boundaries were

river

hellenes.

now

considered too generous by the ambitious

On

Allies.

the north the frontier proposed by the

Montenegrins started from the Adriatic sea coast
at the

mouth

of the river Mati, about half-way

between Alessio and Cape Rodoni, and then went
north and north-east nearly to the Drin, depriving

Albania
is

of

inhabited

Scodra

its

solely

by

the plain surrounding
tains

it,

northern capital, which
Shkypetars, and

of

of the Malissori

moun-

half

Roman
Roman

Moslem

tribes of

which are inhabited by Albanian

Catholic tribes

and certain

tribes

Catholic and half Moslem, of the

all

the Dukajini and Liuma, and of Ipek, Jacovo and
Prisrend, in
are in an

all

of which the

immense

majority.

Moslem Albanians
Albania was thus to

NEW KINGDOM

CUTTING OUT THE

215

be deprived of the Drin which is its principal
river, and of lands in which there are but few
Slavs

of any sort.

Montenegro did not even

pretend that she went to war to h berate brother
Serbs under Turkisli rule, but openly declared that
she would disappear as a political factor in the

Balkans rather than renounce the annexation of
territory inhabited

and

religion,

by men of utterly

who have

different race

always hated the Slav even

more than the Turk.
The Servians and Bulgarians were equally
preposterous in their demands. They claimed the
upper and middle course of the Drin, including the watershed on the east of the mountains

entire

of Central Albania

down

Their suggested boundary thus cut

Lake Ochrida.

Albania in two, annexed
or in which

deprived the

to the mountains west of

districts

purely Albanian

Shkypetars are in a majority, and

new

land on the east.

any outlet to the hinterThe three Slav kingdoms were

state of

agreed in lopping off the most valuable part of
Albania, but when the spoil came to be divided

two of the momentary

They

all

Allies quarrelled bitterly.

claimed the right to annex Ipek, Jacovo

and Prisrend, but Servia had

special claims

on the

was once the

capital of the

empire

latter city as it

of Dushan.

Moreover, Bulgaria and Servia

dis-

puted not only both banks of the Drin, but also

ALBANIA

21G
Dibra, which

is

about three quarters Albanian and

Ochrida

the rest

Bulgarian

INIonastir

where the population

;

and Presba

The

events of

summer, however, disposed of the claims of

Bulgaria, and left

many

thousands of Bulgarians in

The Greeks were no
They claimed
alhes.

Greek and Servian hands.
less

and

Albanian, Greek

is

and Bulgarian, but not Servian.
last

;

exacting

than

Avlona, but as

their

Italy too

has an

on the

eye

Albanian coast they drew their provisional

from Gramala, a

point

line

on the shore half-way

between Dukali and Khimara, and thence east to
the fork of the river Voiussa near Klissura, leaving

Thence the

Tepelen to Albania.

line

went north-

by north to the proposed Servian line southwest of lake Ochrida, cutting off from the new
east

state country that

some
Even

districts in
if

purely Albanian as well as
is

mixed.

much

further

which the population

the Greek line were drawn

to the south-east
in

is

it

would

which the majority

still

amputate

of the

territories

inhabitants

are

Albanian but are called Greek because they belong
to the

the

Greek or Orthodox Church.

map

will

show that the

suggested by the

allies

frontier

A

glance at

which was

confined the Albanians to

the west of the mountains which form the central

backbone of the country, and to the narrow
between those mountains and the

sea.

strip

This piece

CUTTING OUT THE

NEW KINGDOM

217

of waste land contains no river of any importance,

only three towns wliich are better than villages,

and the decayed ports of Durazzo and Avlona
which might be made much
default of any possible trade

but which, in

of,

from the swamps and

mountains immediately behind them, would have
existed as dying harbours watching the trade of

the Balkans going north and south of them, and
rigorously prohibited
participation

in

the

by Slav and Greek from any
business and

of the

traffic

hinterland.

There

remained

Austria, which,
at least

if

by

proposed

frontier

not generous to Albania, was

more just than

motives to Austria

ment

the

is

that of the

allies.

Imputing

an inconsequent sort of argu-

for the friends of the Slav to use against the

Albanian.

It

an axiom

is

among us

nations are swayed entirely
charity

by

that

all

foreign

self-interest,

would admit that Austria and

Italy,

but

who

in

a less degree supports the Albanian nationality,
are not actuated

than any one

else,

interest in the

are the only
real

by

selfishness to a greater extent

and that

Shkypetar

it

if

they show more

may

be because they

two European nations who have a

and intimate knowledge of the ancient people.

The Austrian

line deserved to

and without prejudice,

for

be studied with care

Austrian

surveyed the country as far as

it

officers

has been

have

mapped

ALBANIA

218
out,

and Austria has been the protector of the

Roman

when they

Catholic tribes in the days

needed a protector from the Turk and not from
the Orthodox Christian.

It

is

the provisional

by more or less disinterested experts, and was a compromise between the line
drawn by Ismail Kemal Bey on the one hand, and
frontier traced

the draughtsman of the alhes on the other.

It

followed the existing frontier on the Montenegrin

border as far as a point north of Gussigne-Plava,

made a sudden loop to the south to include those two places in Montenegro.
But the irony of the situation in this part of

where

it

the world

is

that while Austria very justly opposed

the cession of purely Albanian districts to Montenegro, she at the same time could suggest no com-

pensation to King Nicolas, for

she

even more

vigorously opposed his more legitimate expansion
to the north in the Herzegovina, which

by

all

the

principles of nationalism belongs to Montenegro.

no difference whatever from the racial
and geographical point of view between Monte-

There

is

negro and the Herzegovina, and Cattaro
natural port of the

formerly owned.

is

the

kingdom by which it was
The King only asked for the
little

Malissori mountains of North Albania because he

knows

that as long as Austria exists he can never

get Cattaro and the Herzegovina, the district from


CUTTING OUT THE
which

his family

NEW KINGDOM

219

and that of many of the Monte-

Thus blocked to the
north and the south, the saying which came into
vogue in Cettigne after the Russo-Turkish war
negrins originally came.

Austria
quired

is

the enemy, not Turkey

From

an added significance.

Plava the Austrian

—has

line ran to the

now

Gussigne-

north to keep

Ipek, Jacovo, and Prisrend in Albania, but
to the Slav the district
is

inhabited

known

almost entirely

ac-

it left

Old Serbia which
by Albanians, and

as

took from the new state Kossovopolje, Ferizovich,

Uskub, and

all

the adjacent lands.

summit of the Shah Dagh

From

the

just east of Prisrend,

the proposed frontier ran almost due south between

Lakes Ochrida and Presba, giving Dibra and the
whole valley of the Black Drin to Albania, but
omitting the districts to the

east,

where the Alba-

nians are either in the majority or in a very strong

South of Lake Presba the line trends
a Uttle to the east, following the Albanian claim
minority.

very closely, and reached the Greek frontier sUghtly
to the east of

Mecovon

at the frontier of the late

Pashaliks of Yanina and Monastir.

This scheme was doubtless the most workable
of the three put forward.

thousand Albanians from the
the

new

principality

room

If

it

excluded

state, it at least

to breathe

many
gave

and a chance

of living, which the proposal of the Allies most

ALBANIA

220

and on the other hand

certainly did not,

it

lessened

the chances of everlasting quarrels and feuds which

would probably have occurred if the Albanian line
had been adopted in its entirety, with its inclusion
of places which have historic memories for the
Serbs,

prosaic

but for the Albanians
interest

possession.

of actual

the

besides

little

Roughly

speaking, the adoption of the Austrian proposal

would have meant a

state

about midway between

the existing kingdoms of Servia and Montenegro
in

size

and population, with an area of about

fourteen thousand square miles and a population

This would have given

of a million and a half

a fair chance of existence, and

the great advantage over

its

it

rivals

it

would have had
and neighbours

of possessing an extensive seaboard and at least

two harbours, which, though almost
capable of

Some

being turned into serviceable ports.

four hundred

have been

derelict, are

left in

thousand Albanians would

Slav or Greek hands, and that

would have been poorly compensated by the inclusion of about a hundred thousand men of alien
blood.

The Austrian scheme was

doubtless the most

workable of those put forward for Europe's consideration,

but the Powers in tracing their pro-

visional frontier

did

not think

Evidently they thought

it

more

fit

to adopt

dignified to

it.

draw

CUTTING OUT THE

NEW KINGDOM

221

a line of their own, and as far as they have decided

on the boundary they have leaned towards the
Slav and against the Albanian.

The Austrian

was drawn half-way between those of the AlUes
and of the Albanian Provisional Government, and

line

the Great Powers appear to have compromised

with

dehmitation half-way between the proposal

la

On no

of the Austrians and that of the Allies.

other theory can the provisional frontier have been

drawn, as within

it

no Slavs are included, whereas

thousands of Albanians are

left

outside

tender mercies of their worst enemies.

it

to the

The boun-

dary accepted in principle by the Powers goes a
Uttle further
tier,

and

strikes

where

Corica,

which

up the Boiana than the present

is

it

fron-

inland at a stream just below
divides the district of

Anamaht,

Mahometan Albanian, and reaches
west of Zogai. The line then crosses

entirely

the lake just

the lake to the inlets of Kastrati and Hoti, and

runs north-east to the present frontier, leaving the

Hoti and Gruda
trati,

Shkreli,

Roman
It

tribes in

and Klementi

Montenegro, and Kasin Albania.

Hoti

is

a

Catholic tribe of purely Albanian origin.

has always been considered the chief of the

Malissori tribes, and in war-time marches at the

head of the confederation.

King Nicolas has of

late years

taken great pains to win this important

tribe over

from the Turks and with considerable

ALBANIA

222

whether

success, but

come absorbed

in

will

it

be content to be-

Montenegro and

see the Kle-

menti and Kastrati forming part of an independent
Albania

As

is

another matter.

in the Austrian

scheme the boundary then

makes a trend to the south, and includes Gussigne
and Plava
habited

in

by

Montenegro.

fanatical

These places are

in-

Mahometans not of pure

Shkypetar extraction, and Albania can well do
without them.

But then the boundary bends

south-east, leaving out Ipek, Jacovo,
all

and Prisrend,

of which are inhabited by a great majority of

Albanians, and from a point a few miles west of

Prisrend runs due south, leaving Dibra, with

its

mixed population of Albanians and Bulgarians, to
Servia

;

and then following the Drin to the stream

Pishkupstina, whence

the west until

near the

keeps to the hill-tops on

strikes

Lake Ochrida

monastery of San Nicolo.

Albania the

line will leave

drive out of the

who

it

it

new

at

Lin,

In South

Yanina to Greece, and

state thousands of Albanians

are called Greeks because they belong to the

Orthodox

Church.

From

the

cynical

way

in

which large populations of Albanians are ignored

and handed over to
is

their

hereditary enemies,

it

obvious that the Great Powers are not over-

anxious to found an Albanian principality which
could have a reasonable chance of success.

The

CUTTING OUT THE

22.3

down to a minimum, and
Europe had wished to make the new state

nascent Albania
if

NEW KINGDOM

is

cut

dependent on Austria or
have set about

it

more

Italy, she

could hardly

effectually.

thing to be said for the scheme

is

that

The only
it

includes

Scodra and the Drin in the principality, but the
thousands of Albanians

who

are left outside cannot

be expected to acquiesce in their exclusion.
is

not

much

future for an Albania of this sort, but

the Shkypetars are a dogged race
vived

many

There

tyrants,

though so

far

who have

sur-

they have only

had to face death by the sword, and not strangulation

by the red tape of a bureaucracy.

tunately, the

Slav

is

Unfor-

not as the Turk, and the

Powers are unlikely to follow the precedent of
Eastern Rumelia, and permit at some future time
the

incorporation

of

Albania Irredenta

foundling state of Europe.

in

the

XVI
THE FUTURE OF ALBANIA

Hope

kingdom

for the future of the httle

lies

in

the fact that the Albanian, though a warrior and
a

man who

prefers to

go always armed,

Even now

the JMontenegrin, a hard worker.

Cettigne nearly
capital

is

all

is

and among

zarfs, or coffee-cup holders,

celebrated

the

soil,

all

townsman

stuffs.

pistol

The Albanian

of silver filigree are

in

;

skill

of

manufacturing and ornamenting
is

known

to every traveller.

and sword-blades

and gun butts

inlaid

that the Albanian has not only
artistry

artificer,

over the Near East for their beau-

and yataghans

Pistol-barrels

barren

a skilful agri-

and dehcate workmanship, and the

pistols

and

own

In the towns he excels as an

armourer, and maker of fine

tiful

his

a first-rate shepherd and, where

he has the opportunity and the
culturist.

in

the trade and industry of the

in his hands,

mountains he

unlike

is,

and though a

inlaid with

with

skill,

silver,

gold,

prove

but taste and

state cannot live

on such

products alone, these wares give evidence that the

THE FUTURE OF ALBANIA
soul of the people

rend

is

is

not dead within them.

Pris-

one of the great centres of ^Vlhanian gun-

smiths' work, and
living in that

some years ago there was

still

town an armourer who had exhibited

inlaid pistols at the

Hyde

225

Great Exhibition of 1851 in

Park.

The
new

future of a state, whether of old growth or

commerce and industries, and of these Albania has little to show at
present.
Its commerce is next to non-existent
and its industries are of the poorest. Within the
limits traced by the Austrian geographers there is
of

creation, lies in its

not a single line of railway, and the roads which
are

marked on the

staff

map need

A

over to be justly appreciated.

ment has been made during the

to be ridden

last

quarter of a

now

century, and wheeled conveyances are

met with

in cities

have caused a

where

riot in

improve-

slight

their appearance

to be

would

Moreover,

the last century.

Albanians have taken to travelling in Europe to a

much

greater extent, and for years past the

intelligent

men

in the

more

towns have been waiting

grimly and patiently for the time when their inde-

pendence from Turk and Slav
prove themselves Europeans.

them

shall enable

These men at

believed that the " Constitution " of the
Tiu'ks

was the dawn of the new era

were soon undeceived, and

their chiefs

;

to

first

Young

but they

have now

Q

ALBANIA

226

got a sound and clear idea of the situation.
lines of railway are absolutely needed.

Three

The

first

from Scodra, up the valley of the Drin to Prisrend,
INIitrovitza, and Uskub, with a branch line running
north to Jacovo, Ipek, and Novibazar, and another

branch line south to Dibra and Ochrida.
a line through Central Albania

Secondly,

from Durazzo,

Elbassan, and Ochrida, to join the existing terminus
at Monastir

;

and

thirdly, a line

from Yanina to

the railhead at Kalabaka, to join the Greek system,

with extensions to Previsa, Avlona, and Monastir.

These railways would thoroughly open up Albania,
allow capital to be introduced to exploit her timber
trade and her mineral wealth, which

is

said to

be

enormous, and would bring down the trade of the
hinterland to the Adriatic ports.

All these lines

could not be built at once, but roads should be

improved or
traffic,

laid

down

so as to allow of

motor

such as has been introduced into Monte-

negro, to begin the opening
fact, as for

up of the country.

some years the trade of the

In

state will

be miserably small, a service of motors would be
quite sufficient for the present, and would enable a
start to

be made on a small scale pending the con-

struction of the railways.

The

first

thing to be considered in estimating

the wealth of a country
exports,

is

the table of imports and

and under Turkish rule those of Albania

THE FUTURE OF ALBANIA
were

Scodra, the capital of the north,

negligible.

exported

though

little

227

but a few skins and some sumach,

was the headquarters of the silkworm

it

industry of the district, and grows excellent tobacco

and wine

in the plains of the Kiri

Durazzo did some trade

in

wood and

and Zadrima.
charcoal,

and

Prevesa, which tapped South Albania as well as

Northern Greece, exported
fish-roes, olives,

and

skins,

cattle, charcoal, cheese,

and a

little

timber and

corn was sent out from Avlona and elsewhere.

Altogether

it

was a miserable foundation on which

to build the prosperity of a nascent state.

hitherto the Albanian

He
no

desire

and no

been self-supporting.

for himself,

and has shown

ability to export

goods of which

grown enough

has

has

But

he produces a superfluity to pay for goods which
he can buy abroad more easily than he can make

them
and

at

it

He

home.

has been a

would no doubt be

man

of few wants,

for his happiness could

he be properly policed and so be given leisure to
provide for his simple necessities in the security

which so

far

he has never enjoyed.

That was

at

the bottom of the wish of some Albanian notables

who had

visited

Egypt, and had noted the great

change that has been wrought there, that Great
Britain could

be induced to undertake the ad-

ministration of the country.

But the Albanians

will

have to shoulder their

ALBANIA

228

own

burden, and the future of the state as a wealth

producer depends in a large degree on the proper
exploitation of her timber

To

and mineral

resources.

ensure that, the mountaineers will have to relax

their attitude

strangers,

of suspicion and defiance towards

and to

refrain

from looking on the Euro-

pean who would open up the country

who must be
tunity.

shot at the

first

as a robber

convenient oppor-

some considerable time

It will take

to

imbue the Shkypetar with a wholesome respect for
the Limited Company and its Promoter, but when
the lesson of civihsation

learned, the minerals as

is

yet untouched will bring fabulous prosperity to the

now

barren mountains.

Except

in the

towns and plains where the Turks

have had Vali Pashas, Mutesarrifs, and Kaimakams,
with a plentiful backing of

soldiers,

the Albanians

have always governed themselves, and even
the ancient laws of

Lek

Dukadjini,

who

now

codified

the legendary tribal customs of the people, are in
force in a large part of

North Albania.

The Turks

have always played upon the divisions caused by
the three religions and the

many tribes, but nothing

He

never

or a Greek, as so

many

has ever denationalised the Albanian.
describes himself as a

Turk

interested foreigners do, but always as a Shkypetar.

Bigoted as he too frequently

is

in the

matter of

religion, his nationality invariably has first place,

;

THE FUTURE OF ALBANIA
and when he grasps the

fact that

an independent Albanian
than ever of his

race.

state,

But

it

he

is

a

229

member of

he will be prouder
cannot be expected

that the old divergencies will disappear suddenly

under the magic of a national government.

It will

be a great mistake to introduce at once a cast-iron

European constitution with a strong
and a ready-made bureaucracy and

central rule

tribes are jealous of their independence,

as unwilling to surrender

ment

as to the Turks.

should be aimed

at,

it

A

The

police.

and

will

be

to a national governfederal state

a constitution

more

is

what

like that

of Canada and Australia than that of Bulgaria or

The country

Servia.

readily divides

itself

into

provinces, and, taking the boundaries so far as they

have been
IMalissori

laid

down by Europe,

Scodra, with the

and the plains of the Kiri and Zadrima,

would make a county or province of mixed
Catholic and IMoslem religion

form a

Roman

a Prince and

;

Roman

the Mirdites would

Catholic province ready-made, with

system of government complete

Elbassan or Tirana would be the capital of Central
xVlbania where

Moslems predominate

;

and Avlona

of South Albania where the inhabitants are mostly

Orthodox.

Scodra is the most important town, but Durazzo,
if it

were the terminus of a railway system, would

probably be found the most convenient spot for

ALBANIA

230
federal

aside

heroes of

their

modern Albanians have shown

antiquity, the

Italy

Setting

capital.

in

and Greece that they can produce statesmen,

and they have given the reigning dynasty to Egypt
so that there need be

no

fear that capable

men

will

be wanting to take up the reins of government.

The King of the

to be chosen from the families
reigns,

as

Wied, had
of European sove-

country, the Prince of

the rulers of Greece, Roumania, and

Bulgaria were chosen, for in Albania there
chieftain

who

holds the position which

is

no

King Nicolas

has in Montenegro, or even King Peter in Servia.

The

outstanding personalities of

three

to-day are Ismail

Albania

Kemal Bey, Essad Pasha, and

Prenck Bib Doda Pasha, the hereditary

chieftain

Moslems and the other
a Roman Catholic, and the choice of any one of
them would inevitably have led to jealousy and

of the Mirdites, but two are

Under the sovereign chosen by Europe,
Ismail Kemal Bey will probably become the ruler
of the southern province, and Prenck Bib Doda
quarrels.

Pasha of Mirditia, where
acknowledged

his ancestors

chiefs for centuries.

In the

of Tirana and Elbassan Essad Pasha
chief,

and

in or

have been

is

districts

the obvious

round Scodra there are the repre-

sentatives of great families which have always

much
Each

local
district

influence,

and frequently

would be more

had

local rule.

likely to settle

down

THE FUTURE OF ALBANIA
under

own

its

and

chiefs

state with a discreet

ment.

and

elders,

making a

231
federal

tactful central govern-

To attempt to make a

hard and fast modern

principality of the loosely knit tribes of the north

and south

The

will

be deliberately to court disaster.

greatest

misfortune

has

tliat

befallen

Albania in modern times was the opening of the

Balkan

railways

Salonica which

to

entire trade of the country, except the

on the sea

coast.

tapped the

narrow

meant stagnation to

It

strip

cities like

Scodra, Elbassan, and Yanina, and ruin to the
ports of Durazzo and Avlona.

rend and

all

The

trade of Pris-

the districts near, which formerly went

along the Drin valley route to Scodra and Dulcigno

Medua, was diverted to the

or San Giovanni di

railway which ran close by.

The commerce of

Monastir, Ochrida, and, in a less degree of Elbassan,

which found an outlet at Durazzo, was completely
lost

when

INIonastir.

the line was extended from Salonica to
Salonica

is

Albanian ports, but
properly built,

much

if

the
the

great

rival

railway

of

system

the
is

of the old trade will be re-

covered and turned towards the Adriatic, Italy and

Another help to trade

Trieste.

in the

interior

would be the regulating of the Drin, which at
present
aid to

is

a torrent, and a hindrance rather than an

traffic.

The

great plain of the Zadrima to

the south and east of Scodra will have to be taken

ALBANIA

232

hand by the engineers, and properly drained by
keeping the Drin, the Boiana, and the Kiri to

in

their

own

works might be
di

When

river beds.

Medua.

On

that

built at Alessio

is

done harbour

and San Giovanni

the building of railways, the canal-

and the making of harbours
the industrial and commercial future of Albania
depends, but so far nothing has been done, and the
isation of the rivers

communications and outlets of the country are

in

a deplorable condition.
Pohtically, Albania will require to be saved

from her friends no
enemies.

north and

She

will

east,

less

than guarded from her

be surrounded by Slavs on the

and by Greeks on the south, and

her neighbours will do

all

that they can to strangle

her with a view to that final partition which has

The new kingdom's

been denied them now.
friends are Austria

and

Italy,

active

and both of them

look to her as their lever for keeping the balance of

power

in the

Near East.

Albania has always been

most friendly with her neighbour across the sea,
and at one time was governed from Rome. Moreover, Italy has generally been the refuge of exiles

from the Turkish shore of the Adriatic, and many
villages in South Italy are entirely of Shkypetar
descent.

No

doubt

Italy

will

see

to

it

that

Albania does not become an appanage of Austria,

but very

little

help will be needed, for with the

THE FUTURE OF ALBANIA
Albanian independence
for

it

against

The

all

life,

is

and he has fought

comers.

natural and easiest hne for the

to take in the future

At

with Greece.

233

is

new kingdom

an understanding or alliance

the present

moment Greece

the ally of Servia, as she was of Bulgaria

was defeated, but
bably end soon.

till

is

Turkey-

of tilings will pro-

this state

The Greeks and the Albanians

two non-Slavonic peoples south of the
Danube, and they are outnumbered many times by

are the only

the hordes of Slavs.

If they are to exist another

kingdom of Greece and the federal
state of Albania must become allies under the proThe two races are kindred,
tection of Europe.

fifty

years the

they have the same hatred of the Slav, and they
are equally in danger of being wiped off the

by a Big Bulgaria or a Greater

command

of the Levant gives

Servia.

them

map

Their

a position of

mastery, but only by an alliance can they get the

and avoid being swept away by
The Turk is now no longer
the Slavonic races.
the enemy for the Albanian and the Greek he is
of

full benefit

it,

;

the Bulgar and the Serb

Serb he

is

the Teuton.

;

for the

Bulgar and the

In a very few years the

Near Eastern Question will resolve itself into the
struggle of the Slav and the Teuton, and in an
alliance with

Greece Albania

to play in the future.

may have

a great part

XVII
THE ALBANIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH

many problems which
by the makers of the new

Not

the least puzzling of the

will

have to be solved

Albanian kingdom

is

the position of the

Roman

They form a

Catholics of North Albania.

enclave of worshippers faithful to the Pope,

httle

who

have held to their ancient form of religion, and
have steadfastly refused to bow the knee either to

Orthodoxy or to Islam.

much

The Orthodox

older enemies of the

banians

than

the

Roman

Mahometans

Slavs are

Catholic Al-

are,

and these

obstinate Shkjrpetars, with Scodra as their capital

and Bishopric, have remained through the centuries

Rome, surrounded by
Orthodox Slavs and Moslem Albanians, and with
no nearer neighbours of their own religion than the

true to their allegiance to

people of the Dalmatian coast.

astonishment that the

It

was with dazed

Roman CathoHc

Albanians

some probability that their ancient
city of Scodra, which had been their capital and
the see of their bishops and archbishops long before

learned there was

THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH

235

the Serbs crossed the Danube, would be handed

over to Montenegro, whose only claim to
that the Serbian Czar

of

Dushan had held

it

it

by

was
force

conquest for a few years in the fourteenth

century, and that his predecessors in the headship

of the Serbs had been

when they were

its

intermittent masters

strong enough to overcome the

native Albanians, the Byzantine Empire, and the

Fortunately this injustice has

Bulgarian Czars.

been averted by the firmness of Austria and Europe,

now,

though even

as

the

northern frontier

is

many Roman Catholic Albanians will be
included in the new Servia and Montenegro.
The Roman Church in North Albania is repredrawn,

sented by three different orders.

First

come the

bishops and parochial clergy under the Metropohtan

Archbishop of Scodra and Dioclea, whose seat and
cathedral

are

Metropohtan
ecclesiastical

at
is

Scodra.

the Mitred

Independent of the

Abbot

head of the Mirdites, who since 1888

has ranked as an archbishop, and
solely to

of Orosh, the

the Vatican.

is

responsible

Secondly, there are the

who have several monasteries in
one even at Moslem Ipek, the place

Franciscan monks,
the country,

which has been surrendered to Servia or Montenegro in spite of its being a purely Albanian town.

The

Franciscans

Austria,

who

are

under

the

protection

of

also claims a protectorate over the

ALBANIA

236
bishops,

though they and the parochial clergy

insist

that they are Shkypetars, and independent of every

one but the Pope.

Lastly come the Jesuits,

who

have a college and schools at Scodra, and are
supported by Italy, chiefly as a makeweight against
the influence of Austria.

marks the

priests of the

There

one sign which

is

Albanian Catholic Church,

foreign and native-born alike, and that

Rome

tache.

is

the mous-

allows her priests in partibus in-

Jidelium to wear the beard, but in Albania they

have to wear the moustache or they would be
laughed at as women, and be chased out of their
parishes.

All the priests and monks, young and

wear the moustache with soutane and frock,
and only in Scodra do they ever wear a hat, the
red fez of the Turks or the white felt skuU-cap of

old,

them in
the country. When Mehemet Ali Pasha was murdered at Jacovo he had with him an Albanian
Franciscan named Padre Pietro, who was \vell
known in and near Scodra. The insurgents had
the Albanian mountaineers being worn by

determined to

kill this priest as

of intriguing to hand the
Servia,

and when the

he was suspected

town over

last struggle

to Austria or

came and the

Pasha rushed out of the burning tower to be cut
down by the besiegers, Padre Pietro doffed his
Franciscan frock, put on the white

felt

costume of

a mountaineer, thrust a couple of pistols and a

THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
yataghan into

among

out

by

liis

Shkypetars

first

of

Moslem and Orthodox
Albania was finally made

against

by Augustus, and

These

enemies.

all,

and Frank, and, secondly,

Slav,

and stalked

the Albanian hillmen as one of them,

unrecognised
priests are

his sila, or pistol belt,

237

militant

against Turk,

Roman Cathohc

Slav.

a

Roman

province

as Christianity spread over the

empire the Thrako-Illyrian tribes became converted
like

their

came

That the Albanians be-

neighbours.

Christians early

Galerius thought

it

is

proved by the fact that

necessary to persecute

them

in the opening years of the fourth century before

Constantine's Edict of

Milan

in

At

312 a.d.

the partition of the empire in 39,5 a.d. Epirus,
Thessaly, and Greece, though they were separated

from the Prefecture of Illyricum, continued to
be

dependent

on the

ecclesiastical

jurisdiction

of the Pope, for in those days no one had any

conception that there could be more than one

Church on
years
that
sects,

earth.

During the next

hundred

became reconciled to the idea
the Church was spUt into factions and
but in spite of that it was not until after
Christians

the final separation of the

Empire

in

800 a.d. and

Pope from the Eastern
the

quarrel with

Iconoclasts, that the division of the

East

five

and

West was

made

the

Church into

apparent.

North

ALBANIA

238
Albania

one

possesses

have been founded by
Illyi'ia

is

said

most

the world, as Durazzo

bishoprics in

in

the

of

and

New

to have

St.

Paul,

ancient

claims

to

who preached

In 58 a.d. Durazzo

Epirus.

had seventy Christian families

under a Bishop named Appollonius, and

this is

worth noting, as there seems a tendency to look

on

all

Albanians as " Turks," and to include the

Orthodox Albanians of the

Roman

Greeks, and the

among

St.

Church

But even

Paul at Durazzo,

certain that there

the

Cathohcs of the north

the Orthodox Slavs.

doubts about

among

south

it

is

if

we have

historically

were Bishops of the Christian

Albania soon after the persecution of

in

Galerius.

In

387

A.D.

Scodra

was

the

seat

of

an

Archbishop, and in 431 a.d. Archbishop Senecius
of Scodra took part in the Council of Ephesus.

There were
in

the

early

only three Archbishops of

Scodra

Church, and Albania was

placed

under the Metropolitan of Salonica in the fourth
century, and of Ochrida
century.

When

by Justinian

in the sixth

the Western line of Emperors

ended with Romulus Augustulus in 476
ecclesiastical

power of

Rome became

emphasised at the expense of

The election
Emperor at

its

a.d. the

gradually

imperial status.

Pope was confirmed by the
Constantinople, but Pope Gregory
of the

THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
IH.

in 731 A.D.

was the

Pope

last

239

so confirmed,

and there was more than a touch of irony
the fact that the
the

I saurian.

in

Emperor concerned was Leo

Leo was an

ecclesiastical reformer,

and Gregory HI. at once called a Council at

Rome by

excom-

which the Iconoclasts were

Leo

municated in a body.
to arrest the

Pope

for

his

sent an expedition
insubordination, but

came to nothing, for in Italy the Pope had
become almost the equal of the Emperor. Leo,

it

therefore,

estates
Sicily,

in

733

placed

Papal

the

confiscated

East, and

the

in

a.d.

South

Italy,

Greece, Illyria and Macedonia under the

Patriarch of Constantinople.

But the Pope

still

claimed, and was generally accorded, the headship of the Church, and that state of things
on,

the Albanian Church being subject to the

Patriarch

of

Constantinople,

but

supreme

in

matters paying allegiance to the Pope at
until
It

went

858

a.d.,

when matters came

to

Rome,

a

crisis.

was the time of the quarrel over the election

of Photius as Patriarch, and the deposition of
Ignatius which

it

was necessary to

ratify.

No

summoned without the
Pope, and tlie Emperor

General Council could be
concurrence

of

the

Rome

IMichael had to send

Ambassadors to

ask Pope Nicholas

to call a Council to settle

I.

the disputes of the Eastern Church.

to

The Pope

ALBANIA

240
agreed to do

manded the

so,

but at the same time he de-

of

re-establishment

the

over

of

restoration

the lUyrian

the

estates,

Papal jurisdiction

the

provinces,

Papal

and various

other

matters of which his predecessor had been deprived by

Leo

The General Council was

III.

held at Constantinople in 861 a.d., and Ignatius

was duly deposed, but the Papal Legates were
so

weak

that they did not obtain the restoration

of Albania and the

rest,

and consequently were

disowned at Rome.

The Albanian Church had
the subsequent acts in

the

little

to

do with

drama of Photius,

and with most of the decisions of the Eighth
General Council of the Church in 878 at Con-

But in the intervals of the great
game played by the Emperor Basil, Photius
and the Pope, to the disadvantage of Rome, the
question of the Albanian hierarchy was settled
stantinople.

for

the time

in 877 A.D.

being

at

a

Council of Dalmatia

In addition to the Legates of the

Pope and of the Greek Emperor, George Archbishop of Salonica, and

many Dalmatian,

Croatian

and Serbian Bishops were present, with the Duke
of Croatia and the

Zhupan of

Serbia, in order to

divide and arrange the hierarchy of the
in

those

parts.

The

Albanian

separated from Macedonia, and this

Church

Church
it

was

was which

THE ROxMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH

241

kept the North Albanians faithful to Rome.

If

they had remained under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Salonica or Ochrida they

now

less

be

When

ritual.

to

decision

its

Greek and not the

following the

Latin

would doubt-

the Dalmatian Council

came

seemed to have only decided on

it

a question of local governance, whereas in reality

was putting North Albania under the Pope

it

Dioclea was raised

and not under the Patriarch.

to the position of a Metropolitan see,
it

and under

were placed twelve bishoprics, namely, Anti-

Budua, Cattaro, Dulcigno, Svacia, Scodra,

vari,

Sorbium,

Pulati,

Drivasto,

Bosnia,

The province

and Zachlumium.

Tribunium,

of Dioclea was

extended over the old province of Scodra, and
over Serbia which was attached to

arrangement only lasted
a century.

it,

but the

in its integrity for

Simeon, Czar

of

Bulgaria,

was

that time subduing the peninsular under his

room Empire, and
his life,

still

927

a.d.,

at

mush-

the last year of

he took and utterly destroyed the city

of Dioclea, and
are

in

half

left

nothing but the ruins, which

to be seen at Dukla, about

half miles

two and a

north of Podgorica, where the rivers

Zeta and JNIaracha meet.

The

invasion

might well

ha

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