Page images

peither party has been compelled to retreat, they come to close quarters and make use of their atagans and sabres. Their marches are equally as disorderly as their order of battle, and frequently a column of 6000 men occupies a space of ground equal to five or six leagues. The usual arms of the Albanians are two pistols which they carry in their sash or girdle ; an atagan, or a species of cutlass slightly bent forwards, the cutting part of which is in the concavity and something resembling the harpion of the ancient Greeks ; a sabre, bent backwards, hung to a belt and placed horizontally; and also a long musket, of the calibre of from fiveeighths to seven-eighths of an ounce.

The fine arts are unknown among the Albanians, and the mechanical arts are generally exercised by foreigners. There is, indeed, an university at Joannina, as well as some learned professors, but it is only frequented by Greeks. The three exclusive professions of the Albanians are those of shepherd, agriculturist, and warrior. There is still a fourth which might be added, since they follow it as much as the other three, and this is that of robber. This trade is to them a kind of schooling in the art of war, whence the name of Klephtes or robber is by no means a reproach among them, and the most celebrated chiefs of banditti are sure to make their fortunes and arrive at honours, in testimony of which we have Ali Pacha. This idea is so deeply imprinted among them, and the examples are so frequent, that an Albanian of this class, when asked what occupation he follows, will gravely answer, bucis iyo Kaspins, I am a robber. This custom is not, however, general in all the cantons of Southern Albania. The Liapis, indeed, scarcely follow any other calling, but the Philates have very few banditti among them. The Zagoriats, successors of the Pelagonians, and wlio have voluntarily submitted to the Pachas of Joannina, know nothing of brigandage. Mild and hospitable, they have preserved the rigorous manners and character of the ancient Greeks ; but, although the fierce and unfeeling qualities noticed among the other Albanians have disappeared from among them, they are not the less brave.'

We can scarcely conceive a more faithless and dangerous character than that of Ali Pacha, as he is described, we apprehend too faithfully, in the pages of M. de Vaudoncourt. In addition to the crimes engendered by restless ambition, he is tainted with those of avarice; and he stops at no violation of justice to transport to his own coffers the property contained in those of his subjects. Among other nefarious practices, he is accustomed to allow his governors to plunder the people in detail, in order that he may afterward step in and reap a wholesale harvest by the confiscation of their ill-acquired wealth. He considers good faith as a weakness among subjects, and as egregious folly on the part of sovereigns; and he lives, accordingly, in a state of perpetual distrust not only of his ministers, but of his nephews, and even of his own sons. Q 2


When the latter left him to take charge of their respective governments, he was careful to keep their families near him, and did not even make a point of concealing his motive:– in fact, he seems to have confidence in no one except his illegitimate brother, who, being born of a black slave, is thus deprived of all pretensions to authority, and may be deemed a safe instrument at the head of the troops. United with these disgusting features, however, Ali Pacha possesses others which give him a strong claim to the attention of the philosophic observer; his application is unwearied; his memory is surprizingly tenacious; while his address is affable, and even apparently frank, the jealousy and vindictiveness of his nature being concealed under an aspect of tranquillity and unclouded satisfaction. No one surpasses him in penetration into character, in the power of chusing his servants, or in dexterity in turning useful opportunities to account. He allows his Greek subjects a much larger share of religious toleration than they are permitted to have in other parts of Turkey, and he employs many of that nation both in civil and military stations; not from the slightest liberality of disposition, but from a desire of gaining the confidence of those who form a considerable part of his people, and thus multiplying the connecting links between the detached materials of his kingdom. The Albanians are too ignorant to act the part of ministers, or even of magistrates ; the Turks he distrusts and hates; and he flatters himself that the time is not distant when he may entirely shake off his dependence on the Porte. With respect to his conduct towards the Greeks, we are told that

"He is surrounded by them, affects to speak their language equally well with the Albanian, and even not to know the Turkish language well. He enters into the details of their instruction, and sometimes causes the children of his Greek domestics to repeat their catechism before him, and has granted them the foundation of an university at Joannina. He draws up the greatest part of his public acts in Greek, as well as of his own private correspondence, and has no hesitation to make use of the date of the Christian

The author himself is possessed of several autographical letters of Ali Pacha written in this manner.

. However he takes the greatest care to prevent the Greeks from becoming too powerful: he keeps from them the most important posts, and particularly the military commands. He is also extremely careful to keep them at a distance from his children, and to prevent them from gaining any ascendancy over their minds. His son Veli causes him no inquietude on this score; but Mouktar, of a character entirely different from his brother, appears to incline towards the Greeks. The unfortunate Euphrosina, the most interesting female of Joannina, as well for her beauty as the qualities of her mind, became a victim to this jealousy. Mouktar was in



dove with her, and was every day at her house, where the most distinguished Greeks assembled together with their wives. Ali feared that the conversations and principles of the Greeks, coming from the mouth of so accomplished a female, whom he tenderly loved, might make too strong an impression on the mind of his

In an underhand manner, he excited the wives of Mouktar, and particularly the one who was the daughter of the Vizir of Berat, to complain, and even to demand a divorce. Ibrahim Pacha took part in the affair, and upheld the complaints of his daughter. Ali then turned the matter into an affair of state; and his divan having been assembled, it was therein decided that Euphrosina and the other females of her society, to the number of fifteen, declared guilty of having seduced Mouktar, and thereby exposed Ali to the danger of sustaining a war against his neighbour, should be drowned. They were arrested in the night; when Ali Pacha, not having been able to find one of his satellites sufficiently bold to expose himself to the anger of Mouktar, himself proceeded to the house of Euphrosina, and delivered her over to her executioners,'

Of his sons, it is said;

Mouktar, the eldest, is brave, generous, and upright; he loves the arts and sciences, and his intercourse with Euphrosina had considerably tended to the polish of his mind. Yet war is his habitual element and favourite passion; and when he is unable to give himself up to this occupation, he devotes his time to hunting. Simple in his dress, sober even to frugality, and hardy in his habits, he travels over the mountains on foot in his hunting excursions ; he fares on simple bread and water without complaint ; he cares not if he lays hardly; and in the camp he is in the midst of his soldiers, and sleeps on the ground wrapped up in a coarse Albanian cloak. Faithful in fulfilling his engagements, there is no one in Ali's dominions who does not hasten at his first request to furnish what he wishes : he returns it scrupulously at the term prefixed, and frequently adds a recompense. — The severity and ho. nesty of Mouktar's principles render him cold, though respectful, towards his father, and make him despise his brother, whom he treats as a dishonest, debauched, and dissipated character. Ali, on his side, is not much attached to him, and even fears him ; but in return he is beloved and esteemed by the Greeks, and cherished and respected by the Albanians.

· Veli, Ali Pacha's second son, possesses many of the characteristic traits of his father. Like him he is avaricious, ambitious, dissembling, and distrustful.

He is also equally addicted to rapine, and extremely unfaithful in complying with his engagements. — His conduct in marked by an effeminate softness, and he is greatly addicted to pleasure and debauch.-Veli, however, is not devoid of courage ; and his conduct during the last war with Russia enabled him to gain both praise and consideration. He is extremely jealous of his brother, and does not appear disposed, notwithstanding he is the eldest, to allow Mouktar to remain in peaceful possession of Joannina after his father's death. Ali, on Q 3


his part, loves Veli better than his eldest son; but with regard to him he is not the less distrustful.'

Nothing has bailled this enterprising adventurer more completely than the difficulty of accustoming his subjects to manage artillery on the European plan. All the efforts of the French officers were incompetent to overcome the indolence and prejudices of the Turks; or even their apprehension of accident from the blowing up of an ammunition-coffer, which, indeed, is no ideal danger when we take into account their habitual carelessness and aukwardness. The result has been that the European field-pieces belonging to Ali Pacha are either shut up in his forts or mounted on cumbrous and half-rotten carriages. Some of these difficulties arise from the deficiency of his supplies of arms and ammunition ; the gunpowder made in his dominions is of very inferior quality; of muskets he has no manufacture; and his sword-blades are imported from Bosnia, or Upper Albania. The population of his dominions does not easily admit of calculation, the Turks being unaccustomed to any thing in the shape of official registers. Pouqueville computed the number at a million and a half, exclusive of the Morea, which may be put down in the present writer's opinion (p. 291.) at considerably more than Dr. Clarke reckons it; we mean at 450,000 souls, making a total of nearly two millions who are subject, directly or indirectly, to the sway of Ali Pacha. His principal towns and their inhabitants are, Joannina 40,000

12,000 | Trikala

8,000 Larissa 20,000 Livadca

10,000 Metzovo 7,000 Monastir

10,000 | Margariti 6,000 Argyro-Cas

Paramithia 8,000 Ochrida 6,000 tro 12,000 | Delvino

8,000 Elbassan 6,000 The mode of travelling in the dominions of Ali Pacha is such as it has always been in the greatest part of Turkey in Europe, that is, on horseback. No one of the great communications existing between the capital of the empire and the frontiers is practicable for carriages in the whole of its extent. The travelling across the high chains of mountains, such as the Scordus, Boreas, Pindus, Othrys, Eta, Rhodope, and the Hæmus, is extremely difficult, from their being intersected with glens and precipices; there, indeed, the high roads are nothing more than very indifferent paths. This is the reason that prevents foreigners arriving there by land from bringing their carriages with them ; and in the country we find nothing but mean carts. Besides, even if such a convenience were possible, it would not be advisable for an European of the west to suffer himself to be seen in an equipage so extraordinary for its novelty, in the middle of a


15,000 | Arta

country where it is requisite as much as possible to avoid the air and appearance of every thing that is strange.

• It is necessary for the traveller to carry his own provisions with him, as the inhabitants usually do, and even his cooking utensils, if he does not wish to live according to the usages of the country. It is also advisable to carry with one every requisite to sleep upon, in order to avoid the inconvenience of being obligeul to bivouac.'

• The conveyance of merchandise from the interior of Turkey to the principal fairs of Macedonia and Greece, as well as to the frontiers of Dalmatia and Germany, is performed on the backs of horses ; mules are rarely used, unless it is towards Bosnia and Dalmatia, where those from Italy are purchased, and camels still more rarely. The latter animal is only seen passing through the coantry, and when caravans of them are met with, they are coming from Asia; indeed they seldom pass beyond Salonica. The horse's load is generally equal to three Turkish quintals; and in the land trade carried on with Dalmatia and Austria it is indifferent to reckon by'the load or by the quintal. The caravans are mostly numerous, and it is not unusual to see 300 or 400 horses escorted by about 100 armed persons, who are either merchants, conductors, or servants. This precaution is necessary, particularly in Bulgaria, Bosnia, and part of Servia.'

A considerable portion of this volume is appropriated to speculations on past political conjunctures; particularly on the chances that existed of Ali Pacha throwing off the Turkish yoke at different periods of the Russian war against the Porte, and still more at the time when France was in possession of Dalmatia and the Ionian islands. This discussion leads M. de V. to a topic of wider extent and deeper interest, we mean the fate that hangs over the Ottoman dominion at large. Many of our readers will recollect the menacing coalition formed thirty years ago between Austria and Russia, for the invasion and expected conquest of the Turkish empire. Mr. Pitt took part from the beginning, as far as diplomatic efforts went, against those formidable aggressors, and the court of Versailles was evidently actuated by a similar feeling: but revolutionary troubles in France, and the inadequacy of our military means in those days, prevented either Government from coming efficiently forwards to the support of the Turks. The Austrians, however, were repeatedly baffled in their efforts along the Turkish frontier, partly by the fanatic impetuosity of their opponents, but more by the bad generalship of the Prince of Coburg, and the difficulty of carrying on operations in an unhealthy and uncultivated country. This disappointment, and the alarming troubles in the Netherlands, soon led to a separate pacification on the part of Austria; after which Russia continued the contest alone, and, as far as Suwar

Q 4

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »