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Of Albania Gibbon remarks, that a country “ within sight of Italy is less known than the interior of America.”: Circumstances, of little consequence to mention, led Mr. Hobhouse and myself into that country before we visited any other part of the Ottoman dominions; and with the exception of Major Leake, then officially residentat Joannina, no other Englishmen have ever advanced beyond the capital into the interior, as that gentleman very lately assured me. Ali Pacha was at that time (October, 1809) carrying on war against Ibrahim Pacha, whom he had driven to Berat, a strong fortress which he was then besieging: on our arrival at Joannina we were invited to Tepaleni, his Highness's birth-place, and favourite Serai, only one day's distance from Berat; at this juncture the Vizier had made it his head quarters.
After some stay in the capital, we accordingly followed; but though furnished with every accommodation and escorted by one of the Vizier's secretaries, we were nine days (on account of the rains) in accomplishing a journey which, on our return, barely occupied four., .
On our route we passed two cities, Argyrocastro and Libochabo, apparently little inferior to Yanina in size; and no pencil or pen can ever do justice to the scenery in the vicinity of Zitza and Delvinachi, the frontier village of Epirus and Albania proper.
On Albania and its inhabitants I am unwilling to descant, because this will be done so much better by my fellow-traveller, in a work which may probably precede this in publication, that I as little wish to follow as I would to anticipate him. But some few observations are necessary to the text.
The Arnaouts, or Albanese, struck me forcibly by their resemblance to the Highlanders of Scotland, in dress, figure,andmanner of living. Their very mountains seemed Caledonian with a kinder climate. The kilt, though white; the spare, active form; theirdialect,Celticinits sound; and their hardy habits, all carried me back to Morven. No nation are so detested and dreaded by their neighbours as the Albanese: the Greekshardly regard them as Christians, or the Turks as Moslems; and in fact they are a mixture of both, and sometimes neither. Their habits are predatory: all are armed; and the red shawled Arnaouts, the Montenegrins, Chimariots, and Gegdes are treacherous; the others differ somewhat in garb, and essentially in character. As far as my own experience goes, I can speak favourably. I was attended by two, an Infidel and a Mussulman, to Constantinople and every other part of Turkey which came within my observation; and more faithfulin peril,or indefatigable in service, are rarely to be found. The Infidel was named Basilius, the Moslem, Dervish Tahiri; the former a man of middle age, and the latter about my own. Basili was strictly charged by Ali Pacha in person to attend us; and Dervish was one of fifty who accompanied us through the forests of Acarnania to the banks of Achelous, and onward to Messalunghi in Ætolia. There I took him into my own service, and never had occasion to repent it till the moment of my departure.
- When in 1810, after the departure of my friend Mr.H. for England, I was seized with a severe fever in the Morea, these men saved my life by frightening away my Physician, whose throat they threatened to cut if I was not cured within a given time. To this consolatory assurance of posthumous retribution, and a resoluté refusal of Dr. Romanelli's prescriptions, I attributed my recovery. I had left my last remaining English servant at Athens; my dragoman was as ill as myself, and my poor Arnaouts nursed me with an attention which would have done honour to civilization. It i s not 118 !mill and pins of wisi.t.
, 1981, 111, 1971984 - They had a variety of adventures; for the Moslem, Dervish, being a remarkably handsome män, 'was always squabbling with the husbands of Athens; insomuch that four of the principal Turks paid' me' à visit of remonstrance at the Convent, on the subject of bis having taken a woman from the bath-whom he had lawfully bought however-a thing quite contrary to etiquette.
Basili also was extremely gallant amongst his ownpersuasion, and had the greatest veneration for the church, mixed with the highest contempt of churchmen, whom he cuffed upon occasion in a most heterodox manner. Yet he never passed a church without crossing himself; and I remember the risk he ran in entering St. Sophia, in Stambol, because it had once been a place of his worship. On remonstrating with him on his inconsistent proceedings,he invariably answered,“ our church is holy, our priests are thieves;" and then he crossed himself as usual, and boxed the ears of the first“ papas” who refused to assist in any required operation, as was always found to be necessary where a priest had any influence with the Cogia Bashi of his village. Indeed a more abandoned race of miscreants cannot exist than the lower orders of the Greek clergy.
When preparations were made for my return, my Albanians were summoned to receive their pay. Basili took his with an awkward show of regret at my intended departure, and marched away to his quarters with his bag of piastres. . I sent for Dervish, but for some time he was not to be found; at last he entered, just as Signor Logotheti, father to the ci-devant Anglo-consul of Athens, and some other of my Greek acquaintances paid me a visit. Dervish took the money, but on a sudden dashed it to the ground; and clasping his hands, which he raised to his forehead, rushed out of the room
weeping bitterly. From that moment to the hour of iny embarkation he continued his lamentations, and all our efforts to console him only produced this answer, “M'apelvei,” “ He leaves me.” Signor Logotheti, who never wept before for any thing less than the loss of a para,* melted; the padre of the convent, my attendants, my, visitors—and I verily believe that even “ Sterne's foolish fat scullion” would have left her“ fish-kettle,” to sympathize with the unaffected and unexpected sorrow of this barbarian.
For my own part, when I remembered that, a short time before my departure from England, a noble and most intimate associate had excused himself from taking leave of me because he had to attend a relation “ to a milliner's," I felt no less surprised than humiliated by the present occurrence and the past recollection. .
That Dervish would leave me with some regret was to be expected: when master and man have been scrambling over the mountains of a dozen provinces together, they are unwilling to separate; but his present feelings, contrasted with his native ferocity, improved my opinion of the human heart. I believe this almost feudal fidelity is frequent amongst them. One day, on our journey.
* Para, about the fourth of a farthing.