Графични страници
PDF файл

years, and sought, on the rocks and hard to find a parallel in the annals of amidst the precipices, surety for the two Europe, perhaps even of mankind. gifts, by far the most precious to man- It was not to be expected that the kind, their faith and their freedom. To whole mass of any race or people should them, as to the Pomaks of Bulgaria, and have the almost preterhuman energy, the Bosnian Begs, it was open to pur- which their lot required. All along, from chase by conformity a debasing peace. time to time, the weaker brethren have Before them, as before others, lay the fallen away; and there were those who trinoda necessitas, the alternatives of said to Ivan, as the Israelites said to death, slavery, or the Koran. They were Moses, “Wherefore have ye made us to not to die, for they had a work to do. come up out of Egypt, to bring us unto To the Koran or to slavery they pre- this evil place?' The great Ivan died in ferred a life of cold, want, hardship, and 1490, and was succeeded by his eldest perpetual peril. Such is their Magna şon George, who in 1499 was persuaded Charta ; and, without reproach to others, by his Venetian wife to go back into the it is, as far as I know, the noblest in the habitable world; not of Islam, however, world.

but at Venice. Worse than this, his To become a centre for his mountain younger brother Stephen had gone with home, Ivan had built a monastery at a band of companions to Constantinople Cettinjé, and declared the place to be and proposed to Bajazet the Second the the metropolis of Zeta. What is most betrayal of his country. He, and those of all remarkable in the whole transac- whom he took with him, were required tion is, that he carried with him into the to turn Mahometans, and they did it. hills a printing-press. This was in 1484, None could be so fit

, as traitors, to be in a petty principality; they were men renegades. They then set out with an worsted in war, and flying for their lives. Ottoman force for the work of conquest. Again, it was only seven years after the They were met by George, and utterly earliest volume had been printed by defeated. But these victors, the men of Caxton in the rich and populous metrop- the printing-press as well as of the sword, olis of England; and when there was were no savages by nature, only afterno printing-press in Oxford, or in Cam- wards when the Turks in time made bridge, or in Edinburgh. It was only them so. They took back their renegade sixteen years after the first printing-press fellow-countrymen into Montenegro, and had been established (1468) in Rome, allowed them the free exercise of their the capital of Christendom: only twenty- religion. eight years after the appearance (1456) On the retirement of George, which of the earliest printed book, the first- seems only to have become final in 1516, born of the great discovery.

the departing prince made over the soveThen and there,

reign power to the Metropolitan. And

now began, and lasted for 336 years, an They few, they happy few, they band of ecclesiastical government in miniature brothers

over laymen, far more noble than that of voted unanimously their fundamental the Popes in its origin and purer in its law, that, in time of war against the Turks, exercise, as well as in some respects not no son of Tsernagora could quit the field less remarkable. without the order of his chief; that a The epithet I have last used may raise runaway should be for ever displaced, a smile. But the greatness of human and banished from his people ; that he action, and of human character, do not should be dressed in woman's clothes, principally depend on the dimensions of and presented with a distaff; and that the stage where they are exhibited. In the women, striking him with their dis- the fifth century, and before the temporal taffs, should hunt the coward away from power arose, there was a Leo as truly the sanctuary of freedom.

Great as any of the famous mediæval And now, for four centuries wanting Pontiffs. The traveller may stand upon only seven years, they have maintained in the rock of Corinth, and look, across and full force the covenant of that awful day, along the gulf, to the Acropolis of Athens; through an unbroken series of trials, of and may remember, with advantage no dangers, and of exploits, to which it is less than with wonder, that these little

States, of parochial extension, were they deed of blood which shows that or those that shook the world of their own day, human beings with whom the Turk forced and that have instructed all posterity. himself into contact, and who refused to But the Basileus, whom Greece had to betray their faith, there were no alternakeep at arm's length, had his seat afar; tives but two: if not savages they must and, even for those within his habitual be slaves, if not slaves they must come reach, was no grinding tyrant. Monte- near to being savages. negro fought with a valor that rivalled, It was determined to slay by night if it did not surpass, that of Thermopylæ every one of the renegades, except such and Marathon, with numbers and re- as were willing to return to the faith of sources far inferior, against a foe braver their fathers. The year was 1702, and and far more terrible. A long series of the night chosen was that which divided about twenty prelates, like Moses, or Christmas Eve from Christmas Day. Joshua, or Barak, or the son of Jesse, The scale was not large, but the operataught in the sanctuary, presided in the tion was terrible; and the narrative, concouncil, and fought in the front of the tained in an old volkslied, shows that it battle. There were among them many, was done under that high religious exalwho were admirable statesmen. These tation which recalls the fiery gloom of were especially of the Nicgush family, the Agamemnon, and the sanguinary epiwhich came in the year 1687 to the sodes of the Old Testament. permanent possession of power : a power

The hallowed eve draws onwards. The so little begirt with the conveniences of

brothers Martinovitch kindle their conselife, and so well weighted with responsi- crated torches. They pray fervently to the bility and care, that in the free air of new-born God. Each drains a cup of wine ; these mountains it was never coveted, and seizing the sacred torches, they rush

forth into the darkness. Wherever there was and never abused. Under the fourteen Vladikas, who had

a Turk, there came the five avengers. They

that would not be baptised were hewn down ruled for 170 years before this epoch, the

every one. They that embraced the Cross people of Montenegro not only lived were taken as brothers before the Vladika. sword in hand, for this they have since Gathered in Cettinjé, the people hailed with done and still do, but nourished in their songs of joy the reddening dawn of the

Christmas morning ; all Tsernagora ncw was bosom an enemy more deadly, say the free! historians, than the Pashas and their armies. Not only were they ever liable The war had been a standing rather to the defection of such as had not the than an intermittent war, and each party redundant manhood required in order to it was alternately aggressor and deto bear the strain of their hard and fender. The Turk sought to establish ever-threatened existence; but the rene- his supremacy by exacting the payment gades on the banks of the Rieka, whom of the haradsch, the poll or military serthey had generously taken back, main- vice tax, paid in kind, which sometimes, tained disloyally relations with the Porte, in the more open parts, as we may supand were ever ready to bring its war-gal- pose, of the territory, he succeeded in leys by the river into the interior of the obtaining. Once the collector comcountry. At last the measure of patience plained that the measure used was too was exhausted. Danilo, the first Vladika small. The tax-payer smashed his skull of the Nicgush dynasty, had been invited, with it, and said : That is Tsernagora under an oath of safe conduct from the measure.' But the Montenegrins were Pasha of Scutari, to descend into the aggressive as well as the Turks. Of the plain of Zeta, among the homes of his fair plains they had been compelled to ancestors, for the purpose of consecrat- deliver to the barbarian, they still held ing a church. While engaged on this themselves the rightful owners; and in work, he was seized, imprisoned, and carrying on against him a predatory warcruelly tortured. At last he was released fare they did no more than take back, on a ransom of 3,000 ducats, a sum which as they deemed, a portion of their own. the hillsmen were only enabled to make This predatory warfare, which had a far up by borrowing in Herzegovina. It better justification than any of the Highwas felt that the time had arrived for a land or Border raids that we have learned decisive issue; and we come now to a to judge so leniently, has been effectually checked by the efforts of the admir- community, which held fast its oasis of able Vladikas and princes of the last Christianity and freedom amidst the dry hundred years ; for, as long as it sub- and boundless desert of Ottoman domisisted, the people could not discharge nation? The fullest details I have seen effectually the taint of savagery. It on this subject are those given by Frilley even tended to generate habits of rapine. and Wlahoviti. The present form of the But the claim to the lands is another territory exhibits the figure which would matter; there is no lapse of title by user be produced if two roughly drawn equihere; the bloody suit has been prose- lateral triangles, with their apices slightly cuted many times in the course of each truncated, had these apices brought of twelve generations of men. That together, so that the two principal masses claim to the lands they have never given should by severed by a narrow neck or up, and never will.

waist of territory. The extreme length From 1710 onwards, at intervals, the of the principality from the border above Sovereigns of Russia and Austria have Cattaro on the west to Mount Kom, the used the Montenegrins for their own farthest point eastwards of Berda, is convenience when at war with Turkey, about seventy miles; the greatest breadth and during the war of the French Rev- from north to south is a good deal less; olution the English did the like, and by but the line at the narrow point from their cooperation and that of the inhabi- Spuz on the south to Niksich on the tants, effected the conquest of the Bocche north, both of them on ground still di Cattaro. To England they owe no Turkish, does not exceed twenty miles. gratitude; to Austria, on the whole, less The reader will now easily understand than none, for, to satisfy her, the district the tenacity with which a controversy she did not win was handed over to her seemingly small has just been carried on with our concurrence. She has rigidly at Constantinople between the delegates excluded the little State from access to of Prince Nicholas and the Porte; with the sea, and has at times even prevented andirivieni almost as many as marked the it from receiving any supplies of arms. abortive Conference of December and Russia, however, from the time of Peter January, or the gestation of the recent the Great, though using them for her own Protocol. At these points, the plain makes purposes, has not always forgotten their dangerous incisions into the group of interests, and has commonly aided the mountains; and froin them the Turk Vladikas with a small annual subvention, has been wont to operate. The popularaised, through the liberality of the Czar tion of his empire is forty millions; and now reigning, to some 3,000l. a year;* I believe his claims for military service the salary of one of our Railway Com- extend over the whole, except the five missioners. Nor should it be forgotten millions (in round numbers) of free peothat Louis Napoleon, seemingly under a ple, who inhabit the Serbian and Rougenerous impulse, took an interest in manian principalities. Let us now see their fortunes, and made a further addi- what were the material means of resisttion to the revenues of the Prince, which ance on the other side. About A.D. raised them in all to an amount such as 1600, there are said to have been 3,500 would equip a well-to-do English coun- houses and 8,000 fighting men in Montry gentleman, provided that he did not tenegro. The military age is from twelve bet, or aspire to a deer-forest, or pur- to fifty; and these numbers indicate a chase Sèvres or even Chelsea porcelain population not much, if at all, over 30,

The most romantic and stirring pass- ooo. This population was liable to be ages of other histories may be said to thinned by renegadism and constant war; grow pale, if not by the side of the ordi- but, since the early siftings, the operanary life of Tsernagora, at least when tion of the baser cause appears to have brought into comparison with that life at been slight. On the other hand, freedom the critical emergencies, which were of attracts the free; and tribes, or handfuls, very constant recurrence. What was of Turkish subjects near Montenegro the numerical strength of the bishop-led have had a tendency to join it. Until a

few years back, it never had a defined * Stated by Goptchevitch as high as 4000l. frontier; it is only in recent times that a year.

its eastern triangle, that of Berda, has


been added to Tsernagora proper.

waste the land from the Morea to the salt-sea, * About 180o, the population had risen to

with fire and sword, and will seize you alive,

and put you to death by torture.' As he read 55,000. In 1825, to 75,000. In 1835, this letter the Vladika wept bitterly. He the official calendar of Cettinjé placed it summoned the heads of communities to Cetat 100,000, and in 1865 at 196,000. This tinjé. Some said, "Give them the tax ;' but included the districts of Grabovo, Rudine, others, 'Give them our stones.' . . . They deand Joupa, conquered under Prince termined that they would fight to the last man.

They swore with one accord that all they Danilo. For the mere handful of moun- would give the Turk should be the bullettaineers has been strong enough, on the rain of their muskets. whole, not only to hold but to increase And thus continues the tale. Three its land. Yet, on the establishment of Montenegrins went down to the Turkish free Serbia, a tendency to emigrate from the sterile rocks into that well-condi- the slumbering masses ; just as, in the

encampment by night, and traversed tioned country was naturally exhibited; tenth Iliad, Odusseus and Diomed moved and two battalions composed of the chil- amid the sleeping allies of Troy. Vuko, dren of Montenegrins helped to make up one of the three, said to his comrades : that small portion of the army of Gene

Go you back; I abide here to serve the ral Tchernaieff, on which alone, in the cause. They returned to Cettinjé, and operations of the recent war, he could said : So many are the Turks, that, had confidently rely.

we three all been pounded into salt, we While the gross „population of Monte- should not be enough to salt a supper negro, in men, women, and children, was for them.' How this recalls the oldest slowly growing through three centuries census in the world, the census of Homer, from thirty to fifty thousand, we must in- who says: "Were the Achaians divided quire with curiosity what amount of into parties of ten, and every Trojan emTurkish force has been deemed by the ployed in serving them with wine, one Porte equal to the enterprise of attack- for each party, many a ten would lack a ing the mountain. And here, strange as wine-server." But, not to terrify their it may seem, history proves it to have friends, they added that this vast host been the general rule not to attack Mon- was but a host of cripples. So the peotenegro except with armies equalling or ple heard mass, received the benediction, exceeding, sometimes doubling or more of their Vladika, and then set out upon in numbers, all the men, women, and the errand of victory or death. Vuko children that it contained. In 1712, un- had induced the enemy to rest by the der the Vladika Danilo, 50,000 men Vladinia, on the plea that they would crossed the Zeta between Podgoritza not find water between that stream and and Spuz. Some accounts raise this Cettinjé. Here, before dawn, came down force beyond 100,000. Danilo assailed on them the bullet-rain. They were their camp before dawn on the 29th of slaughtered through three days of flight; July, with an army, in three divisions, and the bard concludes : O my Serbian which could hardly have reached 12,000 brothers, and all ye in whose breast beats men. With a loss of 318 men, he slew, the heart of liberty, be glad; for never at the lowest estimate, 20,000. And in will the ancient freedom perish, so long these alone, so far as I know, of all

as we still hold our little Tsernagora! modern wars, it seems not uncommon to

The very next year, the Turks assemfind the slain among the Turks exceed bled 120,000 of their best troops for the ing the gross number of the highland purpose of crushing the mountaineers, heroes arrayed against them. Great is whose numbers fell within the satirical the glory of the Swiss in their Burgun- description applied by Tigranes to the dian wars for freedom; but can it be Romans : “Too many for an embassy, matched with the exploits of the bishops too few for an army. But even this was of Montenegro and their martial flocks? Once more the heart of the little nation * G., p. 10. The Morea was not then Turk

ish. Does the 'salt-sea' mean the White relieves itself in song.

Sea ? The Seraskier wrote to Danilo: Send me † As opposed to the ordinary practice in your paltry tribute, and three of your best these wars, of death on the field without warriors for hostages. Refuse, and I will lay quarter.



In 1727,

not enough of precaution. Thirty-seven, fear had vanished. They assailed before head men of Montenegro, who had pro- dawn the united forces of the Pashas of ceeded to the Turkish camp to nego Roumelia from the south and Bosnia tiate with the commander, were basely from the north. Again they effected the seized and put to death. The Turks scarcely credible slaughter of 20,000 now ventured to assail a force one-tenth Turks with 3,000 horses, and won an inof its own numbers and deprived of its credible booty of colors, arms, munitions, leaders. They burned the monastery, and baggage. So it was that the flood they carried thousands of women and of war gathered round this fortress of children into slavery, and then, without faith and freedom, and so it was that attempting to hold the country, they flood was beaten back. Aflavit Domimarched off to the Morea, while the nus, ac dissipaniur. men of Tsernagora descended from their In 1782 came Peter to the throne, rocky fastnesses and rebuilt their villages. justly recorded, by the fond veneration They powerfully befriended Austria and of his countrymen, as Peter the Saint. Venice in the war they were then waging, Marmont, all whose inducements and and, as was too commonly the case, were threats he alike repelled, has given this left in the lurch by their allies at the striking description of him : 'Ce Vladika, peace of Passarowitz in 1719. The homme superbe, de cinquante ans enviTurks accordingly made bold to attack ron, d'un esprit remarquable, avait beauthem in 1722 with 20,000 men under coup de noblesse et de dignité dans ses Hussein Pasha. One thousand Monte- manières. Son autorité positive et légale negrins took this General prisoner, and dans son pays était peu de chose, mais utterly discomfited his army.

son influence était sans bornes.'* As another Turkish invasion was similarly bishop, statesman, legislator, and wardefeated. In 1732, Topal Osman Pasha rior, he brought his country safely marched against the Piperi, who had through eight-and-forty years of scarcely joined them, with 30,000 men, but had intermitted struggle. Down to, and perio fly with the loss of his camp and bag- haps after, his time, the government was gage. In 1735 the heroic Danilo passed carried on as in the Greece of the heroic into his rest, after half a century of toil age. The sovereign was Priest, Judge, and glory

and General; and was likewise the head These may be taken as specimens of of the Assembly, not representative, but the military history of Montenegro. composed of the body of the people, in Time does not permit me to dwell on which were taken the decisions that were what is perhaps the most curious case of to bind the people as laws. This was personation in all history, that of Stiepan called the Sbor; it was held in the open Mali, who for many years together passed air; and when it became unruly, the himself off upon the mountaineers as method of restoring order was to ring the being Peter III. of Russia, the unfortu- bell of the neighboring church. Here nate husband of Catharine, and, in that was promulgated for the first time in the character, partially obtained their obedi- year 1796, by his authority, a code of nence. But the presence of a prince re laws for Montenegro, which had hitherto puted to be Russian naturally stimulated been governed, like the Homeric comthe Porte. Again Montenegro was in- munities, by oral authority and tradivaded in 1768 by an army variously esti- tion. In 1798 he appointed a body of. mated at 67,000, 100,000, and even 180,- judges, and in 1803 he added to the code

Their force of 10,000 to 12, a supplement. With the nineteenth ooo was, as ever, ready for the fight; but century, in round numbers, commenced the Venetians, timorously obeying the the humanising process, which could not Porte, prohibited the entry of munitions but be needed among a race whose exislof war. Utter ruin seemed now at length ence, for ten generations of men, had to overhang them. A cartridge was been a constant struggle of life and death worth a ducat, such was their necessity; with the ferocious Turk. From his time, when 500 of their men attacked a Turk- the haradsch was no more heard of. ish division, and had for their invaluable reward a prize of powder. And now all * I quote from F. and W., p. 495.

000 men.

« ПредишнаНапред »