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Title: An Observer in the Near East
Author: Le Queux, William
Language: English
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                              An Observer
                              in the
                              Near East



------------------------------------------------------------------------

                   =Unwin’s Colonial Library.=

 271. =The Seven Streams.= By WARWICK DEEPING.
 272. =Love in the Lists.= By K. L. MONTGOMERY (Author of “The
   Cardinal’s Pawn”).
 273. =The Pride o’ the Morning.= By AGNES GIBERNE.
 274. =The Web of the Past.= By the COUNTESS OF CROMARTIE.
 275. =Saints in Society.= By MARGARET BAILLIE-SAUNDERS.
 276. =A Supreme Moment.= By Mrs. HAMILTON SYNGE.
 277. =The Fatal Ring.= By DICK DONOVAN.
 278. =The Procession of Life.= By HORACE A. VACHELL (Author of
   “Brothers,” “The Hill,” etc.).
 279. =The Rise of Philip Barrett.= By DAVID LYALL.
 280. =Beggar’s Luck.= By NELLIE K. BLISSETT.
 281. =The Marquis’s Eye.= By G. F. BRADBY.
 282. =The Parson’s Wood.= By VIOLET A. SIMPSON.
 283. =Captain Maroon.= By ROBERT STUART.
 284. =The Third Kiss.= By HERBERT FLOWERDEW.
 285. =The Difficult Way.= By MABEL DEARMER.
 286. =Dick Pentreath.= By KATHARINE TYNAN.
 287. =The Princess Priscilla’s Fortnight.= By the Author of “Elizabeth
   and Her German Garden.”
 288. =The Flight of Georgiana.= By R. N. STEPHENS.
 289. =The Lady Noggs, Peeress.= By EDGAR JEPSON (Author of “The
   Admirable Tinker”).
 290. =A Dazzling Reprobate.= By W. R. H. TROWBRIDGE.
 291. =The Lapse of Vivien Eady.= By CHARLES MARRIOTT.
 292. =The Smiths of Surbiton.= By KEBLE HOWARD. Illustrated.
 293. =The Blue Peter.= By MORLEY ROBERTS.
 294. =Fanny Lambert.= By H. DE VERE STACPOOLE.
 295. =A Son of Arvon.= By GWENDOLEN PRICE. A Welsh Story.
 296. =A Millionaire’s Courtship.= By Mrs. ARCHIBALD LITTLE.
 297. =An American Duchess.= By ARABELLA KENEALY.
 298. =The Adventures of a Supercargo.= By LOUIS BECKE.
 299. =Cecilia’s Lovers.= By AMELIA E. BARR.
 300. =The Grey Domino.= By Mrs. CHAMPION DE CRESPIGNY.
 301. =The Prey of the Strongest.= By MORLEY ROBERTS.

 302. =Men at Arms.= By Major W. P. DRURY.
 303. =Sons of the Milesians.= By the COUNTESS OF CROMARTIE.
 304. =A Double Marriage.= By LUCAS CLEEVE.
 305. =The House in Spring Gardens.= By Major ARTHUR GRIFFITHS.
 306. =Whispers about Women.= By LEONARD MERRICK.
 307. =Latter-Day Sweethearts.= By Mrs. BURTON HARRISON.
 308. =Law not Justice.= By FLORENCE WARDEN.
 309. =An Impetuous Girl.= By ADELINE SERGEANT.
 310. =Man and Maid.= By E. NESBIT.
 311. =Raffles, the Amateur Cracksman.= By E. W. HORNUNG.
 312. =The Nymph.= By F. DICKBERRY (Author of “The Storm of London”).
 313. =New Treasure Seekers.= By E. NESBIT. Illustrated.
 314. =Counsels of the Night.= By LUCAS CLEEVE.
 315. =The Dream and the Business.= By JOHN OLIVER HOBBES.
 316. =A Matrimonial Lottery.= By C. O’CONOR ECCLES.
 317. =Lady Fitzmaurice’s Husband.= By ARABELLA KENEALY.
 318. =Silas Strong.= By IRVING BACHELLER (Author of “Eben Holden”).
 319. =A Drama in Sunshine.= By HORACE A. VACHELL (Author of
   “Brothers”).
 320. =Saba Macdonald.= By “RITA.”
 321. =The Whip Hand.= By KEBLE HOWARD (Author of “The Smiths of
   Surbiton”).
 322. =The Woman Thou Gavest.= By LADY TROUBRIDGE.
 323. =The Crystal Age.= By W. H. HUDSON.
 324. =The Soul Stealer.= By C. RANGER GULL (GUY THORNE).
 325. =A Gamble with Life.= By SILAS K. HOCKING.
 326. =The Great Court Scandal.= By WILLIAM LE QUEUX.
 327. =The Iron Gates.= By ANNIE E. HOLDSWORTH.
 328. =At the Sign of the Peacock.= By K. C. RYVES.
 329. =The Red Burgee.= By MORLEY ROBERTS.
 330. =The Modern Way.= By Mrs. W. K. CLIFFORD.
 331. =Success in Life.= By Dr. EMIL REICH.
 332. =The Sins of Society.= By FATHER BERNARD VAUGHAN.
 333. =The New Chronicles of Don “Q.”= By K. and HESKETH PRICHARD.

                        LONDON: T. FISHER UNWIN.
  NOTE.—_A List of the Colonial Library, Nos. 1 to 270, can be had on
                             application._

[Illustration: HIS MAJESTY KING PETER I. OF SERVIA.]

                             AN OBSERVER IN
                             THE NEAR EAST



               _ILLUSTRATED BY PHOTOGRAPHS BY THE AUTHOR
                   AND PRINCESS XENIA OF MONTENEGRO_



                           _COLONIAL EDITION_
    (_This Edition is for Circulation in the British Colonies only_)



                                 LONDON
                            T. FISHER UNWIN
                            ADELPHI TERRACE
                                  1907



                         _All rights reserved_



                                PREFACE


The reason of the anonymity of this book is obvious. Revealing as it
does the actual state of affairs in the Balkan Peninsula in this present
year of grace 1907, it contains many plain truths and much outspoken
criticism.

By a long journey of close, confidential inquiry through Montenegro,
Northern Albania, Dalmatia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Servia, Bulgaria,
Roumania, Turkey, and Macedonia, I have, at risk of betraying certain
information imparted to me under seal of secrecy, endeavoured to place
the actual and serious truth before English readers, and thus render
complicated questions, such as Bulgaria and the Exarchate, more
intelligible than heretofore.

Private audiences were granted me by the various kings and princes of
the Balkan States, and by His Imperial Majesty the Sultan, as well as by
almost each member of the various Cabinets in turn, so that I was
enabled to gather information, some of which is, of course, known in the
chancelleries of Europe, while other facts will probably come as a
revelation, even to Balkan diplomats themselves.

What I was told in one country was often contradicted in the next. Yet,
possessing many “friends at Court,” I was afforded unique facilities for
studying, in each country, the various questions on the spot. My
inspection of the Servian prisons, in company with the Minister of
Justice, was, for instance, the first occasion upon which a foreigner
has been allowed to study the penal system in that country; while I am,
I believe, the only Englishman to visit and be the guest of those wild
brigandish tribes of Northern Albania.

The secret aims and aspirations of the various Balkan States herein
explained are based upon actual information gathered from confidential
and reliable sources. The exposure of the shameful German and Austrian
intrigues is no mere idle denunciation, but are actual facts, as
revealed to me by certain Cabinet Ministers and other persons equally
responsible, and supported by documentary evidence which I have had
through my own hands.

As regards that land of terror, fire, and sword, Macedonia, I can only
say that I have spared the reader many horrifying details and
photographs of what I saw there with my own eyes. The blood of those
poor defenceless women and children who are daily slaughtered by Greek
bands cries aloud to Europe for vengeance.

Will there be war between Bulgaria and Turkey during the present year?

To arrive at a definite conclusion upon that very serious point was one
of the chief objects of my inquiry, and this record of its
result—injudicious though I may be in putting it in print—will probably
be read with interest by many to whom the Near East, with its mysteries,
its constant plots, and its tangled politics, is as a closed book.

All through the Balkan Peninsula the weak are to-day being crushed by
the strong. The Austrian Eagle has overshadowed and grasped Bosnia, she
has her talons into Servia, and is casting covetous glances upon gallant
little Montenegro. On the other hand, as part of the secret policy of
Christian Germany in her advance southward, the poor defenceless
Macedonians are being daily outraged, murdered, or burned alive—the true
facts being always suppressed and the news scarcely ever being allowed
to leak out—while the Kaiser every day lifts his eyes to Heaven,
implores the Divine aid, and consigns the destinies of his Empire to the
direction of the Almighty!

To Germany, in great measure, is the present terrible state of Macedonia
due. Her diplomacy at the Sublime Porte has recently exposed, beyond all
doubt, that she secretly aids Greece and abets the Greek bands in their
nefarious work of outrage, murder, and extermination.

The Kaiser could, by simply lifting his hand, stem the blood-lust of
those armed hordes, and bring peace and security to the Macedonian
population. But his secret policy is to create disorder in that
terror-stricken country, so that Bulgaria and Turkey must be compelled,
ere long, to fly at each other’s throats.

Therefore he closes his Imperial eyes to those scenes of wanton
slaughter that daily are a disgrace to our civilisation in this
twentieth century, and matters are rapidly going from bad to worse.



SOFIA, _April 1907_.



                                CONTENTS

                                -------

                               MONTENEGRO


                                CHAPTER I
                           THE CITY IN THE SKY

                                                                    PAGE

 Why I went to the Balkans—The road to Montenegro—Cettinje and its
   petroleum tins—About the blood-feud—England and
   Montenegro—Warned not to attempt to go to Albania—My guide a
   marked man—The story of Tef—A woman’s fickleness, and its
   sequel                                                             19

                               CHAPTER II
                     AN AUDIENCE OF PRINCE NICHOLAS

 The Palace at Cettinje—A cigarette with the Prince—The policy of
   Montenegro—A confidential chat—His Royal Highness’s admiration
   for England—His views upon Macedonia—He urges me not to attempt
   to go to Albania, but I persuade him to help me—His Highness’s
   kindness—Souvenirs                                                 29


                            NORTHERN ALBANIA


                                CHAPTER I
                          INTO A SAVAGE REGION

 Wildest Albania—Warnings not to attempt to travel there—I decide
   to go, and take Palok—Prince Nicholas of Montenegro bids us
   farewell—On the Lake of Scutari—Arrival at Skodra—Passports,
   rabble, and backsheesh—Photographing the fortress in
   secret—Treading dangerous ground—Albania the Unknown               41


                               CHAPTER II
                           WHERE LIFE IS CHEAP

 Fired at in the street of Skodra—My comfortless inn—Panorama of
   life—Armed bands of wild mountaineers in the streets—The Sign
   of the Cross—-Scutarine people—The fascination of Skodra—In the
   den of my friend Salko—Making purchases—Short shrift with
   swindlers—Some genuine antiques—Ragged and shoeless soldiers of
   the Sultan—Men shot in the blood-feud—“It is nothing!”             48

                               CHAPTER III
                            THE LAWLESS LAND

 My friend Pietro—Visit to his house—His wife and sister-in-law
   unveil and are photographed—Scutarine hospitality—Forbidden
   newspapers—I get one in secret—The Turkish post office—I want
   to visit the Accursed Mountains—Difficulties and fears—The
   Feast of the Madonna—Christians and Mohammedans—My first
   meeting with the dreaded Skreli—Shots in the night                 58

                               CHAPTER IV
                        IN THE ACCURSED MOUNTAINS

 Vatt Marashi, chief of the Skreli tribe, invites me to become his
   guest—Our start for the Accursed Mountains—Rok, our
   guide—Independence of the Skreli—Brigandage and the _bessa_—A
   night under a rock—My meeting with Vatt Marashi and his
   band—The Skreli welcome—How they treat the Turks—Vatt’s
   admissions—I become the guest of brigands—A chat in the
   moonlight                                                          68

                                CHAPTER V
                        LIFE WITH A BRIGAND BAND

 The Skreli a lawless tribe—No man’s life safe unless the chief
   gives his word—Vatt prophesies a rising against the Turks—Our
   walks and talks—Our meeting with our neighbours the Kastrati,
   and with Dêd Presci their chief—A girl who avenged her
   husband’s death—The significant story of Kol—Manners and
   customs of the wild tribes—Farewell to my good friend Dêd—An
   incident a fortnight later                                         81


                         BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

                                CHAPTER I
                            SOME REVELATIONS

 Through Dalmatia to Herzegovina—Over the Balkan watershed—Bosnia
   and Sarayevo—A half-Turkish, half-Servian town—Austrian
   persecution of the Christians—Some astounding facts—A land of
   spies and scandals—The police as murderers—A disgrace to
   European civilisation                                              95

                               CHAPTER II
                       DUST IN THE EYES OF EUROPE

 How spies work in Bosnia—Secret agents dog the stranger’s
   footsteps—My own experience—Fighting the spy with his own
   weapons—To “nobble” the foreigner—How an unfavourable book was
   purchased by the Austrian Government—Bribery of Press
   correspondents—A country worse than Russia—Some suggested
   reforms—The secret policy of Austria in the Balkans               108


                                 SERVIA


                                CHAPTER I
                         THE TRUTH ABOUT SERVIA

 The diplomatic circle in Belgrade—Studying both sides of the
   Servian question—Austrian intrigue—113 known foreign spies in
   Belgrade!—An illustration of the work of secret agents—Quaint
   Servian customs—Pauperism unknown—Servia to-day and to-morrow     119

                               CHAPTER II
                        AN AUDIENCE OF KING PETER

 At the New Konak—I sign His Majesty’s birthday-book—The
   audience-chamber—King Peter greets me, and we chat over
   cigarettes—My private audience—His Majesty and English
   capitalists—Great openings for British enterprise—The King
   gives me some instances of paying concerns, and tells me many
   interesting facts—His Majesty invites me to return                130

                               CHAPTER III
                      SERVIA’S AIMS AND ASPIRATIONS

 Audiences of M. Pachitch, the Premier and “strong man” of Servia,
   and of M. Stoyanovitch, Minister of Commerce—My friend, Dr.
   Milenko Vesnitch, Minister of Justice—The Servian case as I
   found it—Austria Servia’s arch-enemy—Dr. Vesnitch a smart
   up-to-date politician—Undeniable prosperity of the country
   under King Peter’s rule                                           136

                               CHAPTER IV
                          THE FUTURE OF SERVIA

 Servia and the Macedonian question—A sound Cabinet—England and
   Servia—Appointment of Mr. Beethom Whitehead as British Minister
   very gratifying to the Servians—King Peter ever solicitous for
   the welfare of the people—What the Prime Minister told me
   concerning the future—The new railway to the Adriatic             146

                                CHAPTER V
                     TO-DAY AND TO-MORROW IN SERVIA

 A retrospect—A sitting of the Skupshtina—Peasants as
   deputies—Servia as an open field for British
   enterprise—Enormous mineral wealth—Mr. Finney, a mining
   engineer who has prospected in Servia for seventeen years,
   tells me some interesting facts regarding rich mines awaiting
   development—No adventurers need apply                             157


                                BULGARIA


                                CHAPTER I
                             SOFIA OF TO-DAY

 At the Bulgarian frontier—A chat with M. Etienne, French
   ex-Minister of War—Evening in Sofia—A city of rapid
   progress—Engaging peasants for Earl’s Court Exhibition—Amusing
   episodes—Social life in Sofia—The diplomats’ club—The Bulgarian
   Government grant me special facilities for investigation          181

                               CHAPTER II
               BULGARIA AS A FIELD FOR BRITISH ENTERPRISE

 Audiences of members of the Bulgarian Cabinet—Dr. Dimitri
   Stancioff, Minister for Foreign Affairs, the coming man of
   Bulgaria—His policy—Facts about the mineral wealth and mining
   laws—Advice to traders and capitalists by the British
   Vice-Consul in Sofia—Our methods as compared with those of
   other nations                                                     191

                               CHAPTER III
                       WILL BULGARIA DECLARE WAR?

 A sitting of the Sobranje—Declarations by the late Prime Minister
   Petkoff and Dr. Stancioff—The new Minister of Foreign Affairs—A
   sound progressive government—Strong army and firm policy—Will
   the deplorable state of Macedonia still be tolerated?—Ominous
   words                                                             197

                               CHAPTER IV
                  THE BULGARIAN EXARCHATE AND THE PORTE

 A difficult and little-understood problem—Bulgaria the “dark
   horse” of the Peninsula—An explanation of the question between
   Bulgaria and Turkey—The Bulgarian Church and the Imperial
   Firman—The present position of the Exarchate—Europe should
   listen to the Bulgarian demand—Chats with Macedonian
   orphans—Their terrible stories                                    206

                                CHAPTER V
                          AT A ROSE DISTILLERY

 Tobacco growing in Bulgaria—The otto-of-rose industry—About
   adulteration—Difficulties of obtaining the pure
   extract—Corrupting the peasant—What Monsieur Shipkoff told
   me—Some tests to discover adulteration—Interesting facts about
   roses                                                             217

                               CHAPTER VI
                         THE FUTURE OF BULGARIA

 Bulgaria’s future greatness—Her firm policy in Macedonia—An
   audience of Dr. Stancioff, Minister of Foreign Affairs—A chat
   with the Prime Minister—Turkey the enemy of Bulgaria—Balkan
   “news” in the London papers—How it is manufactured—Turkish
   dominion doomed                                                   226


                                ROUMANIA


                                CHAPTER I
                           BUCHAREST OF TO-DAY

 My friend the spy—How I was watched through the Balkans—An
   exciting half-hour—The Paris of the Near East—Gaiety,
   extravagance, and pretty women—Forty years of progress—The
   paradise of the idler—Husbands wanted!                            235

                               CHAPTER II
                     ROUMANIA’S AIMS AND INTENTIONS

 Monsieur Take Jonesco, Minister of Finance—The smartest man in
   Roumania—An interview with General Lahovary, Minister of
   Foreign Affairs—Secret aims of Roumania—A better frontier
   wanted—Germany’s insincerity—Some plain truths—The question of
   a Balkan Federation—Oil wells waiting to be exploited by
   British capital                                                   244


                               CHAPTER III
                    A CHAT WITH THE QUEEN OF ROUMANIA

 The royal drawing-room—Her Majesty’s greeting—Her kind words of
   welcome—Roumania not in the Balkan States—We talk politics—The
   name of “Carmen Sylva”—The Queen’s deep interest in the
   blind—She shows me some photographs—Public interest in the new
   institution—I visit it next day                                   253


                                 TURKEY


                                CHAPTER I
                       THE LAND OF THE WANING MOON

 The Orient Express again—On the Black Sea to Constantinople—A
   disenchantment—My dragoman—How to bribe the Customs
   officers—Mud and dogs—A city of spies—Feebleness of British
   policy at the Porte—Turkish adoration of Germany—The basis of
   my confidential inquiries                                         265

                               CHAPTER II
                         IN SEARCH OF THE TRUTH

 His Excellency Noury Pasha—A quiet chat at his home—Turkish view
   of European criticism—The Turk misunderstood—The massacres in
   Macedonia—My visit to the Sublime Porte—His Excellency Tewfik
   Pasha tells me the truth—A great diplomatist—The fashion to
   denounce Turkey—The attitude of the Porte towards
   Bulgaria—Significant words                                        274


                                MACEDONIA


                                CHAPTER I
                      PLAIN TRUTHS ABOUT MACEDONIA

 War imminent between Bulgaria and Turkey—My secret
   inquiries—Atrocities by the Greek bands—Chats with the leaders
   of the insurrection—The truth about the intrigues in
   Macedonia—I visit the scene of the massacres—Stories told to
   me—Horrifying facts—Germany behind the assassins—A disgraceful
   truth                                                             285


                               CHAPTER II
                            THE TRUTH EXPOSED

 Summary of my confidential information—War this year—The attitude
   of Greece, Bulgaria, Roumania, and Turkey—Procrastination,
   promises, and perfect politeness—A matter more serious than
   Macedonia—Warning to British statesmen and the public—The real
   truth exposed—Germany and India                                   299



                         LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


                                                                    PAGE
 HIS MAJESTY KING PETER OF SERVIA                         _Frontispiece_
 MAP OF THE AUTHOR’S ROUTE THROUGH THE NEAR EAST                      16
 PERO, MY MONTENEGRIN DRIVER                                          20
 ALBANIANS IN CETTINJE                                                20
 THE ROYAL PALACE, CETTINJE                                           24
 PRINCIPAL STREET IN CETTINJE                                         24
 HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS PRINCE NICHOLAS OF MONTENEGRO                     28
 THE PETROLEUM TINS OF CETTINJE                                       32
 THE MONASTERY, CETTINJE                                              32
 MR. CHAS. DES GRAZ, CHARGÉ D’AFFAIRES AT CETTINJE                    34
 THE PIAZZA, RAGUSA                                                   34
 RYEKA, MONTENEGRO                                                    42
 ZABLIAK, MONTENEGRO                                                  42
 PALOK, MY COMPANION THROUGH THE SKRELI COUNTRY                       44
 IN SKODRA (TWO VIEWS)                                                48
 MY FRIEND SALKO OUTSIDE HIS HOUSE IN SKODRA                          54
 PIETRO’S SISTER-IN-LAW UNVEILED BEFORE THE CAMERA                    54
 ROK, TRIBESMAN OF THE SKRELI                                         58
 PIETRO LEKHA                                                         58
 THE MADONNA OF SKODRA                                                64
 THE PROCESSION WITH AN ARMED GUARD                                   64
 THE MIREDITI: AN ALARM!                                              66
 THE MIREDITI AT PRAYER                                               66
 MY ROAD IN NORTHERN ALBANIA                                          70
 THE WAY TO THE SKRELI                                                70
 VATT MARASHI, CHIEF OF THE SKRELI TRIBE                              74
 THE SKRELI AT HOME                                                   76
 AN ALBANIAN VILLAGE                                                  76
 AMONG THE SKRELI: LÛK AND HIS FRIENDS                                80
 MRIKA, THE WOMAN WHO CARRIED ON THE BLOOD-FEUD                       84
 MY BODYGUARD IN NORTHERN ALBANIA                                     90
 BUNAQUELLE, BOSNIA                                                   96
 JAJACE, BOSNIA                                                       96
 SARAYEVO, BOSNIA                                                    112
 IN HERZEGOVINA                                                      112
 HIS EXCELLENCY NICHOLAS PACHITCH, PRIME MINISTER OF                 120
   SERVIA
 HIS EXCELLENCY DR. MILENKO VESNITCH, SERVIAN MINISTER               124
   OF JUSTICE
 HIS EXCELLENCY COSTA STOYANOVITCH, SERVIAN MINISTER OF              126
   COMMERCE
 THE ROYAL PALACE, BELGRADE: THE BALLROOM                            130
 ROYAL PALACE, BELGRADE (EXTERIOR)                                   132
 PRINCIPAL BOULEVARD OF BELGRADE                                     132
 HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS PRINCE GEORGE OF SERVIA                          134
 MR. BEETHOM WHITEHEAD, BRITISH MINISTER AT BELGRADE                 138
 MR. ALEX. TUCKER, SERVIAN CONSUL-GENERAL IN LONDON                  138
 THE ROAD TO THE EAST: THE LAST VIEW OF EUROPE                       144
 VILLAGERS AND GIPSIES IN MIRIAVO (SERVIA)                           144
 THE BRITISH LEGATION, BELGRADE                                      148
 THE KNES MIHAJELOWA, BELGRADE                                       148
 IN THE “KALEMEGDAN,” BELGRADE                                       160
 THE MARKET-PLACE, BELGRADE                                          160
 HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS PRINCE FERDINAND OF BULGARIA                     180
 PEASANTS IN SOFIA MARKET-PLACE                                      182
 THE OLD MOSQUE, SOFIA                                               182
 HIS EXCELLENCY DR. DIMITRI STANCIOFF, BULGARIAN                     184
   MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
 THE LATE MONSIEUR D. PETKOFF, PRIME MINISTER OF                     188
   BULGARIA
 THE ROYAL PALACE, SOFIA                                             190
 THE MAIN BOULEVARD, SOFIA                                           190
 HIS EXCELLENCY N. GHENADIEFF, BULGARIAN MINISTER OF                 192
   COMMERCE
 EARLY MORNING IN SOFIA                                              194
 ON THE ROAD TO THE SHIPKA                                           194
 THE BULGARIAN SOBRANJE                                              196
 GEN. MICHAEL SAVOFF, BULGARIAN MINISTER OF WAR                      198
 HIS EXCELLENCY L. PAYACOFF, BULGARIAN MINISTER OF                   200
   FINANCE
 SIR GEORGE BUCHANAN, BRITISH MINISTER AT SOFIA                      200
 MILITARY MANŒUVRES IN BULGARIA (TWO VIEWS)                          204
 PEASANTS AT VLADAJA, BULGARIA                                       208
 BULGARIAN MILITARY TYPES                                            208
 PEASANTS NEAR TIRNOVO, BULGARIA                                     210
 TZIGANES ON THE ISKER ROAD                                          214
 WHERE I SPENT A COMFORTLESS NIGHT IN BULGARIA                       216
 BULGARIAN LAUNDRESSES                                               216
 THE ROSE-FIELDS NEAR KAZANLIK                                       220
 GATHERING ROSES AT KAZANLIK                                         224
 TESTING OTTO-OF-ROSE AT KAZANLIK                                    224
 BULGARIAN PEASANTS DANCING THE “HORO”                               226
 SUMMIT OF THE SHIPKA PASS                                           228
 DEFILE OF THE ISKER                                                 228
 HIS MAJESTY KING CHARLES OF ROUMANIA                                234
 SNAP-SHOTS IN BUCHAREST (TWO VIEWS)                                 236
 THE ROYAL PALACE, BUCHAREST                                         240
 BOULEVARD ELISABETA, BUCHAREST                                      240
 HIS EXCELLENCY GEORGE CANTACUZEN, ROUMANIAN PRIME                   244
   MINISTER
 HIS EXCELLENCY TAKE JONESCO, ROUMANIAN MINISTER OF                  244
   FINANCE
 HIS EXCELLENCY GEO. G. MANU, ROUMANIAN MINISTER OF WAR              246
 SIR CONYNGHAM GREENE, BRITISH MINISTER AT BUCHAREST                 246
 GEN. JACQUES LAHOVARY, ROUMANIAN MINISTER OF FOREIGN                248
   AFFAIRS
 HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN OF ROUMANIA                                   252
 THE QUEEN OF ROUMANIA’S BLIND INSTITUTE AT BUCHAREST                256
 BLIND INMATES AT WORK                                               260
 HIS EXCELLENCY TEWFIK PASHA, MINISTER OF FOREIGN                    264
   AFFAIRS OF THE IMPERIAL OTTOMAN EMPIRE
 HIS EXCELLENCY NOURY PASHA                                          274
 THE ENTRANCE TO THE BOSPHORUS                                       280
 IN CONSTANTINOPLE                                                   280
 LAKE OF OCHRIDA, MACEDONIA                                          285
 LAKE OF PRESBA, MACEDONIA                                           285
 MACEDONIAN WOMAN ABDUCTED BY TURKS FROM KLENE, NEAR                 288
   DEBR, AND RESCUED BY A BULGARIAN BAND
 GENERAL TZONTCHEFF, THE BULGARIAN LEADER IN MACEDONIA               288
 A BULGARIAN BAND IN MACEDONIA                                       292
 GENERAL TZONTCHEFF IN MACEDONIA                                     304
 THE TURKISH BURIAL-GROUND AT SCUTARI, ASIA MINOR                    304

[Illustration:

  THE NEAR EAST

  _Stanford’s Geog^{l.} Estab^{t.}, London._
  London: Eveleigh Nash.
]



                               MONTENEGRO



                               CHAPTER I
                          THE CITY IN THE SKY

Why I went to the Balkans—The road to Montenegro—Cettinje and its
    petroleum tins—About the blood-feud—England and Montenegro—Warned
    not to attempt to go to Albania—My guide a marked man—The story of
    Tef—A woman’s fickleness, and its sequel.


I entered the Balkans by the back door. The luxuries of the Orient
Express had no attraction for me. I wanted to see the Balkans as they
really are, those great, wild, mountainous countries, so full of race
hatreds, of political bickerings, of fierce blood-feuds, of feverish
propagandas—those nations with their interesting monarchs and their many
mysteries.

The “Orient” runs direct from Paris to the Balkan capitals, it is true,
but if one goes to study a people the capital is not the only place in
which to discover the truth. One must go into the country, move among
the peasantry, hear their grievances and investigate their wrongs.
Therefore I decided to enter the East by Montenegro, and also visit the
wild and little-known regions of Northern Albania.

The comfortable voyage by the Austrian-Lloyd mail steamer _Graf
Wurmbrand_ from Trieste down the Adriatic, touching at Pola, the
Austrian naval station, Lussinpiccolo, Zara—famed for its
maraschino—Sebenico, Spalato, and Gravosa to Cattaro, has been already
described by many writers. Suffice it to say that it is perhaps one of
the most picturesque of pleasure-trips in the world, for every moment
one has a fresh panorama of mountain and blue sea, of green, fertile
islands with subtropical vegetation, and tiny white villages nestling at
the sea’s edge, as the steamer threads her way through the narrow and
often difficult channels.

At times the wild scenery, especially in the Bocche di Cattaro, reminds
the traveller of the Norwegian fiords, and at others the coast is an
almost exact reproduction of the French Riviera.

The object of my journey was, however, not in order to write a mere
description of men and places. There have been other travellers in the
Balkans who have related their story, therefore my mission was to make
careful inquiry into the present unsettled state of affairs, try and
discover the grievances of both sides, and endeavour to obtain from the
rulers and statesmen of the various nations their aspirations for the
future. This I succeeded in doing, for the various monarchs of the
Balkans graciously gave me audience; and from their Ministers, from the
middle classes, and from the peasants, I was enabled at last to form
some conclusion as to the real situation—political, economical, social,
and financial.

The writer who attempts to place the various Balkan questions
impartially and clearly before the public will at once find himself
utterly confused, and wallowing wildly in a morass of misstatement and
misrepresentation. The Balkans are torn by race hatreds, party strife,
and the intrigues of the Powers. The Turk hates the Bulgar, the Serb
hates the Austrian, the Roumanian hates the Greek, the Albanian hates
the Montenegrin, the Bosnian hates the Turk, while the Macedonian hates
everybody all round. What is told to one authoritatively one hour, is
flatly contradicted the next; therefore it is not in the least
surprising that in the European Press there have been so many
misstatements about the various Balkan questions, the real truth being
so very difficult to obtain.

[Illustration: Pero, my Montenegrin Driver.]

[Illustration: Albanians in Cettinje.]

I have, however, endeavoured to obtain it, and at risk of being
injudicious, to place before the reader the facts as they are, without
any political bias, or any seeking to gloss over the many glaring
defects of administration of which I have myself been witness.

To describe the beauties of the Bocche di Cattaro, that series of
winding channels where the high grey mountains rise sheer from the
water, would be only to traverse old ground. Suffice it to say that I
landed at Cattaro on a bright, sunny noon, and found upon the quay a
tall, lean mountaineer who had been sent to meet me.

To the traveller fresh from the West the Montenegrin costume of both
women and men is very attractive, but a few days in the Balkans soon
accustoms the eye to a perfect phantasmagoria of colour and of costume.
Pero was my driver’s name, and I noticed that around his waist was a
revolver belt, but minus the weapon. I inquired where it was, and with a
grin he informed me that Cattaro, being in Dalmatia, the Austrians would
not allow Montenegrins to bring arms into their country; so they were
compelled to leave them on the other side of the frontier, ten
kilometres distant.

My bags packed upon the three-horse travelling carriage and secured with
many strings, and Pero equipped with a plentiful stock of cigarettes, he
mounted upon the box, whipped up his long-tailed ponies, and we started
on our eight-hour ascent of that great wall of mountain that hides
Montenegro from the sea.

As we ascended through the little village of Skaljari we entered upon a
magnificent road, said to be one of the greatest engineering feats of
modern times, and steadily ascended, until at the striped
black-and-yellow Austrian boundary post we crossed the frontier, and
were in the “Land of the Black Mountain”—Montenegro. Across the road, at
an acute angle, a row of paving-stones marks the frontier, and soon
afterwards we found ourselves in the wildest and most desolate mountain
region. At a lonely roadside hut Pero obtained his big,
serviceable-looking revolver, and I, of course, wore mine in my belt;
for in Montenegro or Albania arms make the man. A man unarmed is looked
upon as an effeminate coward. Indeed, by order of Prince Nicholas every
Montenegrin must wear the national dress, both men and women, and every
man must carry his revolver when out of doors.

Four hours from Cattaro we were in a lonely mountain fastness, a wild,
desolate, treeless region of huge limestone rocks of peculiar volcanic
formation, which gave them the appearance of a boiling sea. The views
over the Adriatic as we turned back were so superb that, despite
photographing being strictly forbidden on account of the fortresses in
the vicinity, I could not resist the temptation to take one or two
surreptitiously. On, through a bleak, uninhabited country, we at last
reached the guard-house of Kerstac, and then half an hour later found
ourselves upon a plateau where, in the centre, stood the small clean
village of Nyegush, the ancestral home of the reigning family, and the
scene of most of the Montenegrin wars of independence. Here we halted
for half an hour at the post-house, and before we left, the big,
lumbering post-diligence, with its armed guard, came up behind us.

Before we moved off again it had grown dark, the moon shone, and for
four hours longer we alternately climbed and descended through that wild
region of silence and desolation, until at last we saw, deep below, the
lights of Cettinje, the little capital, and an hour later brought us to
the unpretending “Grand” Hotel.

Hardly had I entered my room when there came a loud knock at my door,
and a tall, scarlet-coated Montenegrin warrior, armed to the teeth,
entered and saluted. For a moment I looked up at him aghast, but the
mystery was solved when, next second, he handed me with great ceremony a
telegram from a dear friend in England wishing me Godspeed. I had taken
him to be, at least, one of the Prince’s bodyguard, and he was only a
plain telegraph messenger!

This was but one of many surprises in store for me in Montenegro. Next
morning I went out to look round the clean little capital, when, on
passing the Prince’s palace, I saw a number of soldiers drawn up, and as
I went by, the band suddenly struck up the British National Anthem! I
raised my hat, halted, and stood puzzled. Surely they were not honouring
me! Another moment, however, and I recognised the reason. In a carriage,
accompanied by the Grand Marechal of the Court, there drove up my friend
Mr. Charles des Graz, the newly-appointed British Chargé d’Affaires to
Montenegro, who was about to present his credentials to His Royal
Highness the Prince.

Montenegro is perhaps the most interesting country in all the Balkans.
Cettinje, a small, clean town of broad streets and one-storeyed,
whitewashed houses, is a little city in the sky, lying as it does in a
cup-shaped depression at the summit of a high, bare mountain. Its long,
straight, main street reminds one very much of a small country town in
England, if it were not that everyone is, by law, compelled to wear the
national dress, and every man has in his belt his big, long-barrelled
revolver, without which he must never go out of doors.

The men, sturdy mountaineers, are of fine physique—handsome fellows, all
of them. Their dress consists of dark blue baggy trousers, white woollen
gaiters, raw-hide shoes, a scarlet jacket heavily braided with gold, and
a small round cap, with black silk around the edge and the crown of the
same colour as the jacket, bearing the Prince’s initials in Servian
letters, “H.I.” The women, who are particularly good-looking, wear dark
skirts, beautifully hand-embroidered blouses, and a kind of long coat,
with open sleeves of soft, dove-grey cloth. Forbidden to wear European
hats, they are compelled to adopt an exactly similar cap to the men,
except that the crown is embroidered instead of bearing the royal
initials.

Nowhere have I seen such glorification of the male as in Montenegro. To
the men, born fighters as they are, work is undignified; therefore the
women toil while the opposite sex look on. I saw women employed in
building operations and performing work which, in other countries, is
left to day-labourers.

Cettinje is quaint in the extreme. The only houses of foreigners are the
various Legations, and the only foreigners are diplomats with their
wives and families. The first thing that strikes the stranger is the
number of petroleum tins. Opposite the hotel I saw a great ring of empty
tins, numbering some hundreds, ranged around a fountain. A few women
were squatting gossiping, and an armed policeman lounged against the
water-source. On inquiry, I found that there was a water famine, and the
tins had been placed there at dawn to await the moment when the
authorities thought fit to allow the people to get their daily supply.
The women had gone away to work, and would return later. The
Montenegrins a short time ago constructed a reservoir, but there was a
crack in it, so the water ran away. Hence the famine.

The petroleum tin is never out of sight for a single moment in Cettinje.
At any hour, and in any street, you see women and children carrying
them. They are used for everything, from milk-pails to flower-pots.

In Cettinje one comes for the first time up against the dark-faced,
scowling Albanian in his tightly fitting trousers of white wool striped
with black, his dirty white fez, and the swagger of superiority in his
gait. He is well armed, and for a good reason. The Montenegrin hates the
Albanian, because of the constant border feuds over at Podgoritza, where
blood is constantly spilt, and where I have seen a Montenegrin in the
market squatting over a basket of apples with a loaded rifle.

That morning I was chatting to a man in Montenegrin dress, of whom I had
bought some excellent cigarettes, manufactured by the Montenegro Tobacco
Monopoly—an Italian syndicate, by the way—and happened to mention that I
was on my way to Albania.

“Ah, gospodin!” he exclaimed, holding up both his hands, and glancing at
the revolver in my belt. “Take my advice. Don’t go into Albania or
Macedonia. You are not safe there from one moment to the other. For half
a word they’ll shoot you dead as easily as they drink a glass of wine.
No man’s life is worth a moment’s purchase there. I’m Albanian
myself—from Kroja—and I know.”

[Illustration: The Royal Palace: Cettinje.]

[Illustration: Principal Street of Cettinje.]

This was scarcely reassuring. I looked about me on every hand as I
strolled through Cettinje. All was so quiet, so orderly, so very
peaceful there, even though the big, burly mountaineers in the
gold-laced jackets eyed me with askance as I passed. Not without some
trepidation I took a number of photographs, for I had heard that, like
the Turk, the Montenegrin was averse to having his counterfeit
presentment put upon paper. Nevertheless, the first feeling of
insecurity having passed, I very soon found myself quite at home in
Cettinje, and in the midst of very good and kind friends.

A good many foreigners come up from Cattaro to pry about Cettinje for a
day or two, buy picture-postcards and antique arms, sneer at the honest
Montenegrin, and return into Dalmatia. Towards such, the Montenegrin is
not particularly polite. But those who go to Cettinje to seriously and
thoroughly study the people and their future will find a great deal of
genuine and charming hospitality.

My first day in Cettinje was lonely. Afterwards, until I left, I was
always with friends and officials, who took the greatest trouble to
answer my questions and explain matters.

Montenegro is entirely unlike any other country in the world. Its air of
antiquity is particularly pleasing, while on every hand the beneficent
rule of Prince Nicholas is apparent. Every man in Montenegro swears by
his Prince, whom he almost worships. They call him their “father,” and
if His Royal Highness raised the standard of war tomorrow, every man
would rise and fight to the death. The Prince is accessible to all his
people—more so to them, indeed, than to the diplomats. Sometimes, early
in the morning, he will sit in an arm-chair on the steps leading to the
entrance of his palace, and there hear the complaints or petitions of
his people. In this patriarchal way he often ministers justice. Last
year he granted Montenegro a Constitution, and there is now a Skupshtina
similar to that of Servia; but the people have not yet quite understood
that in future they must go to the Ministers, and not to their Prince.
They will see him, and nobody else.

In no country is loyalty and patriotism so strong as in Montenegro. The
army is well trained, and the whole country being one huge natural
fortress, a foreign enemy would experience enormous difficulty in
gaining entrance. In Cettinje, even a constant traveller like myself
meets with continual surprises. One day, while walking at the rear of
the Bigliardo, or old palace—so called because when built the first
billiard table was introduced—I heard the sound of clanking chains
behind me. At first I took no notice, but as it continued with regular
rhythm I glanced behind, when, to my amazement, I saw a convict in
leg-fetters with difficulty taking his afternoon stroll beneath the
trees! There were several others on the grass plot before the prison,
idling in the shadow or gossiping with their friends, who had come to
keep them company!

Inquiries showed that most of these prisoners were murderers, not for
robbery but for vendetta. In Montenegro the blood-feud is constant, and
life is held very cheap. It invariably commences by jealousy, and is of
everyday occurrence. Two lovers quarrel, and one is shot. Then the
blood-feud commences, and unlike in Italy or other Southern countries,
the vendetta is not only upon the murderer, but upon his next-of-kin.
Therefore, if the assassin escapes into Servia, Bosnia, or Turkey, as he
so often does, the brother of the dead man takes up the feud and kills
the assassin’s brother without parley when next he meets him. I myself
saw a man shot dead one night in Ryeka, at the head of the Lake of
Scutari, and the murderer walked coolly away undeterred. It was the
blood-feud, and no one took much notice.

“_S’bogom!_” (God be with you!) It is the expression you hear on every
hand in the Balkans. In the streets the peasants touch their round caps
in salute and exclaim, “_S’bogom!_” When you leave for a journey and
when you return, when you rise and when you go to rest; even if you go
for a short walk—it is the same. Life is so uncertain in those wild
regions that the protection of the Almighty is invoked upon you always,
and your revolver is ever ready in your belt.

In Cettinje I had a faithful guide and servant, a black-eyed, somewhat
sinister-looking Albanian, named Palok. He travelled with me through
Montenegro and Albania, and was most faithful and devoted. Besides
Albanian and Serb he spoke a little Italian, and possessed a keen sense
of humour.

One day, while we were travelling through the wild, bare mountain, a
perfect wilderness of huge boulders without a single tree or even blade
of grass, we halted for our midday meal, and while eating he told me of
a great friend of his who had recently been killed at Spuz for vendetta,
and he added, fondling the butt of his revolver, “I too, gospodin, shall
die before long.”

I looked at him in surprise. His usually humorous face had changed. It
was dark and thoughtful, and his black eyes were fixed upon me.

“Is there a blood-feud upon you, then?” I asked, in surprise.

“Yes,” he replied briefly; and though I endeavoured to persuade him to
tell the story, it was not until the following day that with some
reluctance he explained.

“A year ago my brother Tef, away in Scutari, fell in love with a
beautiful girl. He had a rival—a young Albanian, a coppersmith in
the bazaar. They quarrelled, but the girl—ah! she was very
beautiful—preferred Tef. Whereupon the rival one night took his
rifle and laid in wait for my brother in the main street of Scutari.
Early in the evening he left the house of the girl’s father, and as
he passed the fellow shot poor Tef dead.”

And he paused as his brow knit deeply, and his teeth were set tightly.

“Well?” I asked.

“Well, gospodin. What would you have done had your own brother died a
dog’s death? I took a rifle, and within a week the murderer was in his
grave. I shot him through the heart—and then I left Scutari.”

“And you are safe here, in Montenegro?”

“Safe! Oh dear, no,” he answered. “One day—it may be to-day—the fellow’s
brother will kill me. He must kill me. It is Fate—why worry about it? It
does one no good.”

And the marked man, the man doomed to die at a moment when he least
expects it, rolled a cigarette and lit it with perfect resignment.

“And are you not afraid to go with me back to Scutari?” I asked, amazed
at his fearlessness.

“Afraid, gospodin!” he exclaimed, looking at me in reproach as his hand
instinctively wandered to his weapon. “Afraid! No Albanian is afraid of
the blood-feud. I have killed the murderer, and his brother must kill
me. It is our law.” And the doomed man smiled gravely.

“And the girl?” I asked.

“Ah! They are all the same,” he answered, with a quick shrug of the
shoulders. “A month ago she married a tobacco-seller—a man old enough to
be her father. Poor Tef! If he could but know!”

“And the blood-feud still continues?”

“Of course—until I am dead.”

Then Palok smoked on in silence, entirely resigned to the fate that
awaits him. He knows that one day, as he walks along the road, the sharp
crack of a hidden rifle will sound, and he will fall to earth, another
victim of a woman’s fickleness.

_S’bogom!_—God be with you!

[Illustration: HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS PRINCE NICHOLAS OF MONTENEGRO.]



                               CHAPTER II
                     AN AUDIENCE OF PRINCE NICHOLAS

The Palace at Cettinje—A cigarette with the Prince—The policy of
    Montenegro—A confidential chat—His Royal Highness’s admiration for
    England—His views upon Macedonia—He urges me not to attempt to go to
    Albania, but I persuade him to help me—His Highness’s
    kindness—Souvenirs.


“His Royal Highness the Prince will be pleased to grant you private
audience at four o’clock this afternoon, gospodin.”

The tall, burly aide-de-camp in the little round cap, high boots, pale
blue overcoat, and pistols in his belt, saluted, and we shook hands.

It was then three o’clock, and I was just about to go out to visit
Madame Constantinovitch, the mother of Princess Mirko. So I had to
return at once to my room and dress for the audience. The kings and
princes of the Balkans have a habit of summoning one at a moment’s
notice, and paying visits at unearthly hours.

Here, in Cettinje, in the heart of these wild, desolate fastnesses, one
seems so far removed from European influence, yet how great a part has
this rocky, impregnable country, with its fierce soldier-inhabitants,
played in the politics of Eastern Europe, and how great a part it is
still destined to play in the near future!

The fact that everybody is armed gives the stranger an uncanny feeling.
The man who brings one’s coffee wears a perfect arsenal of weapons in
his sash, and one quickly acquires the habit of carrying a revolver
one’s self. Indeed, if you are wise, you will carry a good serviceable
weapon from the moment you enter the Balkans to the moment you quit
them. But if you approach the Albanian frontier, you will be at once
warned not to fire without just cause. A few shots is sufficient to
alarm the whole neighbourhood for many miles, and on hearing the alarm
every man seizes his rifle and flies to the rendezvous, fully equipped
and eager for the fight with those Albanian border tribes, of whom I
afterwards had the good fortune to be the guest.

I had already had a long chat with Prince Danilo, the Crown Prince of
Montenegro, whom I found a very smart and highly educated man, fully
alive to the political difficulties of the neighbouring states and the
necessity of Montenegro preserving her independence. He held very strong
views upon the terrible state of affairs in Macedonia, and gave me many
interesting details about his own country.

Having met him, and also his younger brother, Prince Mirko, I was
particularly anxious to make the acquaintance of their father, Prince
Nicholas, the ruler of the sturdy, warlike dwellers of the “Land of the
Black Mountain”—the principal and most striking figure in this
remarkable country, where peace and war walk ever hand-in-hand.

Since 1860, when his uncle, Prince Danilo, was assassinated, he has
ruled justly, if somewhat sternly, and has succeeded in raising his
nation from a state of semi-civilisation to the high place it now
occupies in the Eastern world. In 1888 he gave the country a Civil and
Criminal Code, and last year he granted a Constitution. Indeed, he has
done all in his power to induce his warriors to follow the arts of peace
without forgetting those of war.

At the hour appointed, the royal aide-de-camp called in a carriage and
drove me to the Palace,—a long, dark brown building of somewhat plain
exterior, as befits the home of a fighting race,—where I was received in
the great hall by half a dozen bowing servants in scarlet and gold. Here
I was met by the chamberlain, who conducted me up the grand staircase
and into the great audience-chamber, with its many fine paintings and
highly polished floor. Then, after a moment, the Prince—a brilliant
figure—entered, shook me by the hand, and welcomed me to Montenegro.

These formalities ended, His Royal Highness said in Italian, “Come, let
us go into yonder room. We shall be able to talk there more
comfortably.” And he led me into a smaller chamber, where he gave me a
seat at the table where he sat.

The afternoon was gloomy, and dusk was creeping on, therefore upon the
table a great antique silver candelabra had been set, and by its light I
was enabled to obtain a good view of the ruler of Crnagora, the “Land of
the Black Mountain.”

Of magnificent physique, tall, muscular, with hair slightly grey, he
bore his sixty-five years lightly. Attired in the splendid national
costume of scarlet, blue, and gold, with high boots, he wore a single
decoration at his throat, the Cross of Danilo, of which Order he is
Master. Upon his handsome, well-cut features the candles shed a soft
light, causing the gold upon his dress to glitter, and I noticed, as I
asked him questions, how his dark, keen eyes shot quick, inquiring
glances of alertness.

After the first few minutes of regal formality His Highness’s manner
entirely changed. Putting ceremony aside, he produced his cigarette
case—of crocodile skin, with the royal crown and cipher in gold in the
corner—offered me a Montenegrin cigarette, took one himself, lit mine
with his own hand, and then we fell to chatting.

In the delightful hour and a half we smoked together I asked the
prince-poet many questions, and learnt many things. He explained several
difficult points in Balkan politics, which to me, an Englishman, had
always been puzzling. We spoke—in Italian—of Macedonia and of a certain
well-known foreign diplomat in London who was our mutual friend, the
Prince giving me a very kind message to deliver to him.

Presently I referred to the splendid result of his rule, and related to
him a little incident which had occurred to me in Nyegush a few days
before, as showing how deeply he was beloved by his nation. A smile
crossed his fine open countenance as he replied simply, “I have done my
best for my people—my very best; and I shall do so as long as God gives
me life. I am happy to believe that my people appreciate my efforts.”

“And now, Monseigneur,” I asked, “will you tell me what is the present
position of Montenegro?”

“The present position is peace,” was his prompt answer. “I have granted
a Constitution, and the first meeting of the new Skupshtina has been
held successfully. Though the Albanian question is always with us, I am
thankful to say we are on the most excellent terms with Turkey, while
towards Russia we are pursuing our traditional policy. For the Emperor
Francis Josef of Austria I have nothing but the most profound
admiration, and I owe very much to him.”

“And towards England, Monseigneur?”

“England has been, as you know, Montenegro’s very best friend,” replied
the Prince. “I, personally, have the greatest respect and admiration for
your great country. We Montenegrins always remember that it was Mr.
Gladstone who gave us the strip of seaboard on the Adriatic with
Dulcigno. He was our greatest friend, and his memory is respected by
every man in Montenegro. Of Tennyson, too, I am a great admirer. I am
very fond of his poems.”

“You are a poet yourself, Monseigneur,” I remarked, remembering that
more than one poetical drama from his pen had been successfully produced
on the stage.

His Royal Highness smiled, and puffed slowly at his cigarette.

“I have written one or two little things, it is true; but nothing of
late.”

“I wonder if I dare ask your Royal Highness to write a few lines for me
as a souvenir of my visit?” I asked, not without some trepidation.

“Ah!—well—I won’t promise,” he laughed. “All depends whether I’m in the
mood for it.”

“But you will try, won’t you?”

And the Prince nodded assent.

Then we spoke of Servia and of recent events there; but he was not
inclined to discuss the question, and naturally so, when it is
remembered that his daughter was the late wife of King Peter.

[Illustration: The Petroleum tins of Cettinje.]

[Illustration: The Monastery: Cettinje.]

Returning to the burning question of Macedonia, I saw that he was well
informed of all that was transpiring around lakes Presba and Ochrida and
down in Serres.

“It is a monstrous state of affairs,” he declared. “Something must be
done at once, for as soon as spring comes again the massacres will
increase.”

“But there are outrages, tortures, and massacres every day,” I remarked.

“Ah yes,” he sighed, “I know. Most terrible details have reached me
lately. But you are going to Macedonia yourself, and you will see with
your own eyes.”

“And what, in your opinion, would be the best settlement of the
question?” I inquired.

“There is but one way, namely, for the Powers to call a conference and
place Macedonia under a governor-general, who must be a European prince.
The reforms would then be carried out, and the Greek bands expelled from
the country. How long will Europe tolerate the present frightful state
of affairs?”

“The fact is, Monseigneur, that we, in England, are very ignorant of the
true state of things, or even of the facts of the Macedonian question,”
I said.

“Ah, there you are quite correct. If your English public knew what was
really happening—how an innocent Christian population is being
slaughtered and exterminated because of international rivalry—they would
cry shame upon those responsible for this wholesale murder and outrage.
But”—he smiled—“I almost forget myself. My position as a ruler forbids
me to talk politics, you know!”

And we laughed together.

“So you are going to Servia, Bulgaria, Roumania, and to
Constantinople—eh?” he remarked a little later, when we had lit fresh
cigarettes. “In Bulgaria, and also in Roumania, you will see many things
that will interest you. The Bulgarians are very strongly armed, and so
are the Roumanians.”

“Her Majesty the Queen of Roumania has also promised me audience,” I
said.

“When you see her, will you please present to Her Majesty my most
cordial respects. She is so very charming.”

“I want, Monseigneur, to visit Northern Albania, leaving Montenegro by
Ryeka and Scutari. Would that be the best route, do you think?”

“What!” he exclaimed, in surprise. “Do you actually contemplate visiting
the tribes up in the Accursed Mountains?”

“Certainly. Why not?”

“Well, my advice is, don’t think of going there. If you do, you will
never return. You’ll be shot at sight, like a dog. You have no idea what
those uncivilised tribes are like. The whole country is utterly
lawless.”

“So I understand. But I’ve also heard that the Albanian possesses a deep
sense of honour. And I thought that I might possibly obtain permission
from one or other of the chiefs.”

The Prince was silent for a moment. Then, looking at me across the
table, said—

“Do not go. It is far too great a risk.”

His advice was the same that my friends in London had given me; the same
that I had received there, in the marketplace of Cettinje.

But I was determined, and pressed His Royal Highness to assist me, at
last receiving his promise of help. By his kind permission, the Albanian
named Palok acted as my guide, and what eventually happened to me in
that wild region will be seen in the following pages.

“Well,” exclaimed the Prince at last,“if you go up there, it must be at
your own risk. I’ve warned you of the danger. No one has been up there
for many years. It has been attempted, of course, but travellers have
either been held to ransom, and the Turks have been compelled to pay for
their release, or else they have simply been shot by the first Albanian
meeting them. The country beyond Scutari is the most unsafe in the whole
Balkan Peninsula.”

[Illustration:

  Mr. CHAS. DES GRAZ,
  British Chargé d’Affaires at Cettinje.
]

[Illustration: The Piazza: Ragusa.]

I replied that I intended to make the attempt.

“Well, then, I wish you _buon viaggio_,” he laughed. “May every good
luck attend you, and—as we say in Montenegro—_S’bogom!_ (God be with
you!) When you return—for I suppose you will pass this way down to the
sea—come and see me, and tell me all about the Skreli and Kastrati
country—for of course I am highly interested. They are always at war
with our people on the frontier.”

“I will let your Royal Highness know the moment I am back in Cettinje,”
I promised.

Then rising, he gripped my hand warmly, saying—

“Then I will help you if I can. Be careful of yourself, for I shall be
anxious about you. Again, _S’bogom!_”

And the Prince accompanied me to the head of the grand staircase, where
I made my obeisance, turned and descended through the rows of armed and
bowing servants ranged in the hall, charmed by His Royal Highness’s
graciousness towards me and by the pleasant chat I had enjoyed.

When, after my journey through Northern Albania, I one afternoon
re-entered that audience-chamber, and he came forward with outstretched
hand to greet me, he exclaimed—

“Well, well! I am so glad to see you back safe and sound. You look a
little thinner in the face—a little travel-worn—eh? Life in the Albanian
mountains is not like your life in London or Paris, is it? But never
mind as long as you are safe,” he laughed, placing his hand kindly upon
my shoulder. “Come along to this room. It is more cosy,” and he led me
to the smaller apartment, his own private cabinet.

For nearly two hours I sat relating to him what occurred on my journey,
and describing the wild country which had, until then, been practically
a sealed book. Even though Cettinje is so near, hardly anything was
known of the Skreli, the Hoti, the Klementi, or the Kastrati tribes,
save that they were brigandish bands who constantly raided the
Montenegrin frontier.

The Prince listened to me with great attention, and put many questions
to me as we smoked together.

Then rising, he took from a drawer in his great writing-table a small
scarlet box, and as he opened it he bestowed upon me a compliment
undeserved, for he said—

“There are few men who would have risked what you have done. Therefore I
wish to invest you with our Order of Danilo, as a mark of my
appreciation and esteem.”

And he displayed to me the beautiful dark blue and white enamelled cross
of the Order, the same that he was wearing at his throat, surmounted by
the royal crown and suspended upon the white ribbon edged with cerise.

After he had invested me with the Order, saying many kind things to me,
which I really don’t think I deserved, he added—

“The _chef du chancellerie_ will send you the diploma in due course, and
I trust, when you petition your own gracious Sovereign King Edward, that
His Majesty will allow you to wear this insignia.”

I thanked His Royal Highness, gripped his hand, and a few minutes later
passed through the line of bowing servants out of the Palace.

And that same evening I received from His Royal Highness the signed
photograph which appears in these pages.

Before I left Cettinje I received the following expressive lines,
written especially for me by a Montenegrin poet who is a great
personage, but whose name he would not permit me to give. They are in
Servian as follows, and I have placed their English translation below:—

                     S’ veledušnog Albiona
                     Pružiše se dvije ruke
                     Crnoj Gori da pomogu
                     U junačke njene muke

                         S’ vrućom rječu na ustima
                         Gladston diže Crnogorce
                         A Tenison za najprve
                         U svijet ih broi borce

                     Na glas svoih Velikana
                     Britanski se narod trže
                     Da pomože da zaštiti
                     Crnu Goru iz najbrže

                         Posla svoje bojne ladje
                         Što na tečnost gospostvuju
                         Veledušno da zaštite
                         Domovinu milu Moju

                     O fala ti po sto puta
                     Blagorodni lyudi Soju
                     Dok je svjeta dok je greda
                     Nad Ulcinjem koje stoju

                         Hraniće ti blagodarnost
                         Ova šaka sokolova
                         Koima si u pomoci
                         Stiga putem od valova.

The literal translation in English is as follows:—

             From the great-souled Albion,
             Two arms were stretched
             To help Montenegro
             In her heroic sufferings.

             With fiery word on his lips
             Gladstone lifts up Montenegrins,
             Whilst Tennyson declared them
             The very first fighters in the world.

             On the call of their great men,
             British people rose up
             In quickest manner, to help
             And to protect Montenegro.

             They despatched their war-ships,
             Which rule over the seas,
             Generously to protect
             My Fatherland so dear to me.

             Oh! thanks to thee, hundredfold thanks,
             Noble race of men.
             As long as the world lasts,
             As long as the mountains above Dulcigno stand,

             Will remain grateful to thee,
             This handful of falcons,
             To whose help thou didst come
             By the road of the waves.



                            NORTHERN ALBANIA



                               CHAPTER I
                          INTO A SAVAGE REGION

Wildest Albania—Warnings not to attempt to travel there—I decide to go,
    and take Palok—Prince Nicholas of Montenegro bids us farewell—On the
    Lake of Scutari—Arrival at Skodra—Passports, rabble, and
    backsheesh—Photographing the fortress in secret—Treading dangerous
    ground—Albania the Unknown.


Before leaving London various insurance companies had flatly declined to
accept the risk of “accident,” because it was known that I intended
visiting Albania.

Indeed, no company in the City would insure me, and at Lloyd’s the
premium quoted was exorbitant. This was the reverse of reassuring.
Northern Albania I knew to be the wildest and most savage country in the
East, and the Accursed Mountains, which I wanted to visit, were held by
brigandish tribes, who shot the traveller at sight or held him to
ransom. So little is known about them that they had always held a
peculiar fascination for me.

I searched through the journals of the Royal Geographical Society for
many years past, but found little mention of Northern Albania, while of
books of actual travel in that region there were none. These facts had
decided me to accept the risks, whatever these might be, and go into
those wild, inaccessible mountains which bear the name of Accursed.

Everybody warned me of danger. Friends in England constantly urged me to
“take care of myself,” as though that were possible when in the midst of
a hostile tribe; and in fact there seemed to be a conspiracy on the part
of friends, strangers, and officials to prevent me penetrating the Land
of Mystery.

When I mentioned my intention in Cettinje, everyone, as I have already
said, held up their hands and raised their eyes. It was sheer madness,
they declared. Nobody’s life was worth a moment’s purchase outside the
town of Skodra—or Scutari, as it appears on our maps. Outside—beyond
Turkish control—well, I should not be allowed to travel a couple of
miles before I had a bullet through me from behind a rock at the
roadside.

Everybody had some weird or horrible story to tell about the savagery of
the Hoti, the Kastrati, the Skreli, and other savage tribes inhabiting
those high, misty mountains beyond the Montenegro border. The one or two
Albanians—tall, muscular fellows in white felt skullcap, tight white
woollen trousers heavily braided with black, and a kind of black bolero
with long fringe—whom I had seen in Montenegro were certainly a
sinister-looking, forbidding lot. But I had come to the Balkans to
investigate and to learn the truth; therefore the more I was urged not
to attempt to go into the mountains, the firmer was my determination to
do so.

His Royal Highness, Prince Nicholas himself, had at one of the audiences
he granted me seriously queried the advisability of undertaking the
journey. Almost daily on the Albanian frontier were raids into
Montenegrin territory, and the whole border was constantly terrorised by
the Albanian bands, who shot the Montenegrins wherever found. Indeed,
the market at Podgoritza, where men squatted with loaded rifles over
four or five fowls or a basket of apples, was sufficient to tell me the
truth; while the daily talk of that town was of fighting with the wild
race who live across the border. The Montenegrin hates the Albanian, and
has surely good cause to do so. Many a comely Montenegrin maiden—and
some of them are exceedingly beautiful—has been captured in those night
raids and carried across into Turkish territory, to be heard of no more.
And many, too, are the reprisals by the Montenegrins; mostly, however,
with serious losses to themselves.

[Illustration: Ryeka, Montenegro.125]

[Illustration: Zabliak, Montenegro.]

Palok, whom I had engaged as my guide, had, he said, been born in
Skodra, or, as we call it, Scutari, which causes it to be confounded
with the city on the Bosphorus. He also declared that he was well known
there, and the fact that he also spoke Italian caused me to accept his
services.

When I asked Fevzi Pasha, the Turkish Minister in Cettinje, for a
passport for Skodra, or “Scutari d’Albanie,” as it appears on the
_visa_, he granted it, but not without words of caution. “In Scutari you
will have nothing to fear,” he said. “I will give you a note to the
Governor of the town. But do not go into the country. If you do, you’ll
be shot like a dog.”

I thanked him, but had no intention of taking his well-meant advice.

At half-past three one dark morning I took Palok, and we drove out on
the road that wound high up across the great lonely mountains to the
little town of Ryeka, whence a small steamer plies down the Lake of
Scutari to Skodra. The drive was cold and weary, through a barren waste
of rocks, but the bright autumn sun was up ere we reached Ryeka, and
just as I boarded the big canoe with long, upturned, pointed prow, which
takes passengers and baggage down the sluggish stream to the boat at the
entrance to the lake, I saw, on the road above, a fine military figure
in pale blue, riding a splendid white charger and followed by an
officer.

In a moment every head was bared. It was Prince Nicholas, who was
staying at his palace at Ryeka, taking his morning ride.

He espied me, pulled up, and shouted down in Italian—

“Hulloa! Good-morning! Then you are off to Albania after all, eh?”

“Yes, Monseigneur,” I responded.

“Did you get my message last night?” he inquired, referring to a
confidential matter.

“Thank you, Monseigneur, yes.”

“Very well. Only be careful of yourself, you know, and when you get
back, come and tell me all about it.” And, laughing, His Royal Highness
waved his hand with a merry “Bon voyage!” and cantered away, while my
half a dozen fellow-travellers in gold-braided costumes regarded me in
wonder that their Prince should stop and converse with me—a perfect
stranger.

Down the silent river, between steep green hills we glided. Choked by
the tangle and rot of weeds, it was the haunt of thousands of waterfowl,
and, as we passed, the herons rose with a lazy flapping of wings,—a
stream that might well be haunted by the fairies, for the water was
unruffled and the silence deep and complete.

Boarding the little steamer, the _Nettuno_, lying at the mouth of the
river, we were soon out in the great green lake, with the high mountains
looming grey in the far distance. As we steamed due south, the barren
mountains of Montenegro were soon left behind. At Virpasar and Plavnitza
we picked up passengers, a fat Turkish peasant woman carrying two
baskets of fowls, and three young Montenegrins, fully armed with rifles
and revolvers. Because she was not yet in Turkey, the woman wore no
veil; yet in the evening, as soon as Skodra came in sight, she produced
her veil, and carefully adjusted it, laughing with me the whole time,
and wound it until only her bright dark eyes were visible.

From Virpasar an Italian company is now building a railway to the
Montenegrin port of Antivari, so that in a couple of years the lake will
be connected with the Adriatic, and form the much-needed trade route for
Montenegro. The Servians, indeed, are hoping also to use Antivari as
their Adriatic port, and thus be free of the excessive Customs dues and
other oppression placed upon them by Austria-Hungary. When in Belgrade,
M. Stoyanovitch, the Servian Minister of Commerce, explained to me the
several schemes for the construction of a railroad from Krushevatz, in
Servia, by way of Novi-Bazar, Ipek, Podgoritza, and Ryeka, to join the
Italian line at Virpasar, and so to the Adriatic or to San Giovanni di
Medua. Servia must secure a port, and this line, whenever made, will be
a most paying concern, for by its extension from Stalacs—on the main
Belgrade-Sofia line—to Orsova, it would receive most of the exports of
Southern Russia to Western Europe.

[Illustration: PALOK, my companion through the Skreli country.]

The mere handful of lake-side dwellings which now constitutes Virpasar
will, ere many years have passed, grow into an important trade centre,
and upon the great silent lake, surrounded by those high sheer mountains
where the eagle and the pelican are now the only signs of life, big
passenger and freight steamers will soon ply. The railway, which must be
built ere long, will quickly bring a civilising influence upon Northern
Albania; therefore, if one wishes to see it in all its wildness, it must
be seen to-day. In another decade the Albanian brigand—the real thing
out of the story-book—will be only a matter of history.

The calm, bright day was perfect. The surface of the great lake was like
a mirror, and the fringe of giant mountain constantly changed in
colour—grey, blue, purple, and rose—as the hours wore on, and the sun
sank westward in all the crimson glory of the death of the autumn day.

Now and then, with our rifles, we took pot-shots at the pelicans, but
with little result. A young Montenegrin killed one, and the huge bird
came down with a great splash into the water. At last, in the falling
twilight, we cast anchor at the head of the Boyana River, which empties
itself into the lake, and then, boarding another high-prowed canoe,
where a Turkish soldier sat over us with a loaded rifle, we were rowed
slowly up to the low line of ramshackle buildings, which was our first
sight of Skodra.

With our farewell to the _Nettuno_ we had said good-bye to civilisation,
as represented by sturdy Montenegro. We were in Albania, the wildest and
most turbulent country in the East.

We landed upon some slimy steps amid a perfect babel of shouts. Hundreds
of unwashed Turks and Albanians were awaiting us, all shouting in a
language of which I understood not one word. Every man, armed and of
ferocious aspect, seemed ready to make short work of both Palok and
myself. Indeed, so unpleasant is the landing at Skodra, that Palok
himself had already sent a message to a friend of his—a typical brigand
of the first water—to give the Customs officer a tip, and so make
pleasant our path through that dark, evil-smelling hole where the Turks
collect their dues. Palok’s friend, whom I only saw on that one
occasion, and whose name I could not ascertain, had managed to secure
from somewhere a mustard-coloured ramshackle fly, the upholstering of
which was in ribbons. The driver, in his white fez, with dirty white
baggy trousers and yellow tunic, came forward and saluted me with deep
obeisance, while I was explaining to the passport officer—a ragged,
consumptive youth—that my name was not “We, Sir Edward Grey.”

The chief of the Customs was a long, very thin, white-fezzed Turk with
large silver-mounted pistols in his belt, very tight white trousers, a
gold-embroidered jacket, and pointed slippers that turned up at the toes
in the most approved style. He was a real live Bey, so Palok told me,
but he was not averse to receiving tenpence as a tip. Later, when I left
Scutari (or Skodra) again, I gave him ten Austrian crowns, for I had in
my bag a couple of thousand cigarettes, which, by Turkish law, are
prohibited from leaving the country. His charge for winking at the
contravention is five crowns a thousand!

Turkish Custom Houses are weird places, and it is no wonder that the
British Ambassador at Constantinople is just now pressing for some
reform. Your belongings are not only thoroughly examined and heavily
assessed for Customs—if you won’t tip—when you enter Turkish territory,
but the same happens when you leave. Woe-betide those who dispense with
the services of a discreet dragoman and do not tip. All that you may
have bought in Turkey will be found liable to duty. Gold embroideries
will be weighed, and anything that has the Sultan’s monogram upon it—as
so many embroideries have—will be at once confiscated.

The man in the fez is grave and inexorable. His attitude is as though he
would scorn the offer of a bribe and throw you into prison for daring to
insult an official of His Imperial Majesty. Yet outside the Custom House
he keeps a crafty ragamuffin who is ready to accept a four-franc piece
on his behalf, and for that he will pass a thousand pounds’ worth of
goods with only a pretence of search! The Custom House at Galata on the
Bosphorus is a case in point. There are five officials there who share
the spoils from the traveller.

Yes, the land of the Crescent is indeed a quaint country. The corruption
of Turkish Customs officials is no doubt due to the frequent non-payment
of their stipends. They must live, and do so by accepting bribes. I
afterwards spoke to certain high government officials at Constantinople
about it, and they admitted that they knew bribery existed extensively,
but at present were utterly unable to suppress it.

Over the ramshackle Custom House, a dark hole without a window, frowns a
shattered fortress containing one or two antiquated guns, a photograph
of which I afterwards obtained surreptitiously, and which appears in
these pages. Had I been discovered, I might have spent an unpleasant
year or so in a Turkish prison. But even that offence, so heinous in
Germany, France, or Austria, I suppose I could easily have expiated with
a few piastres of backsheesh. In Turkey you can do anything—if you are
prepared to pay.

Upon that filthy crowd around the Custom House at Skodra, upon those
crumbling buildings, upon that old white fortress, upon the tower of
Skodra itself, a mile away, the centuries of progress have made no
impression. Here is the country of a mediæval people, the life of an age
long ago past and forgotten.

While our fellow-travellers were squabbling, arguing, shouting, and
cursing the wild, dirty mob who now filled the Custom House, we, with
our baggage—canvas bags, specially made to sling on mules for mountain
travelling—ascended into the mustard-coloured conveyance and were driven
along a country lane, very English in its appearance, with bramble
hedgerows and ditches; yet the high, thin minaret of a mosque before us,
and the carefully latticed windows of a house, preventing the women-folk
from being seen from the roadway, and giving the place an air of
mystery, showed us to be in the land of His Majesty the Sultan—in
Albania the Unknown.



                               CHAPTER II
                          WHERE LIFE IS CHEAP

Fired at in the street of Skodra—My comfortless inn—Panorama of
    life—Armed bands of wild mountaineers in the streets—The Sign of the
    Cross—Scutarine people—The fascination of Skodra—In the den of my
    friend Salko—Making purchases—Short shrift with swindlers—Some
    genuine antiques—Ragged and shoeless soldiers of the Sultan—Men shot
    in the blood-feud—“It is nothing!”


I had not been in Skodra half an hour before a man fired at me with his
revolver.

It was my welcome to Albania, and I confess that I drew my own weapon
from my belt, prepared to defend myself.

I had arrived at the _han_, or inn, a poor place dignified by the name
of Hôtel de l’Europe, washed, and descended to the street, when, on
emerging from the doorway, somebody fired his pistol right in my face.
The flash startled me, and in an instant I was on my guard with my back
to the wall. In that brief second all that I had heard of the insecurity
of Albania flashed back.

My assailant—a tall, ragged-looking, middle-aged Turk in a scarlet
fez—laughed in my face and uttered some words that I did not understand.
He saw my weapon shining in the dim light, and pushed it away with a
laugh. His manner struck me as friendly, so I dropped my arm; whereupon
another man, in passing, also fired, then another and another, until,
ten seconds later, everybody in the street was firing indiscriminately,
and bullets were flying in all directions.

[Illustration]

[Illustration: In Skodra.]

I held my breath. Had the place actually revolted against the Turk just
at the moment of my arrival? If so, I was in luck’s way. I knew that the
Albanian hated the Turk, for Palok had told me that the revolution was
only a question of time, and that one day his people would drive them
out of Skodra. The place was once Servian, and captured by the Turks in
1479. Yet the Albanian still looks upon the Turk as a miserable
intruder, and intends one day, ere long, to drive him out.

Around me, on every hand, pistols were being fired, the flashes showing
red in the night, and I stood breathless, wondering what was happening.
The man who had fired in my face was grinning at my alarm, when Palok
dashed out to me.

“Signore! Signore!” he cried, in Italian. “It is nothing! Don’t be
alarmed. It is only the vigil of the fast of Ramadan. It is our way of
celebrating it!”

By that time every man in the whole town was firing off his revolver.
The din was deafening.

“Very well,” I laughed. “Then I’ll celebrate it too,” and, raising my
arm, I also emptied my weapon in the air.

The grinning Turk who had first fired and alarmed me saluted me by
touching chin and forehead, and then we laughed together. It was
certainly fortunate for him and for myself that I had not let fly, but
he did not seem to heed at all the danger of firing suddenly upon a
foreigner ignorant of what was about to happen.

The _han_, with the dignified name of “hotel,” was certainly an
uncomfortable place. Cold roast pork, a trifle “high,” was all I could
get to eat, and this was washed down by a light red vinegar, which was
probably at one time wine. For five days running I had that very same
pork served twice a day, until I sent Palok into the bazaar to buy me
other supplies. A narrow camp bed, an iron washstand with tin fittings,
a pail and a deal table, comprised my furniture, the best accommodation
that Skodra could afford.

Yet the town is perhaps one of the most interesting in all the Balkans,
and its people the most strangely mixed and wearing a greater variety of
Eastern costume than even in Constantinople itself.

The bazaar, down by the river, is full of quaint types and most
interesting. Its uneven pavement is quite as unclean and slippery with
the dirt of ages as are the streets of Constantinople, but its dark
little sheds are filled by workers, silver and copper smiths,
embroiderers, armourers, weavers, jewellers—in fact, one sees every
trade being carried on in the same primitive way and with the same tools
as in the Middle Ages.

Skodra is not a town of progress, for there telephone or electric light
is forbidden; machinery of every kind is against the law, and neither
newspapers nor books are allowed to enter Albania. Therefore in those
crooked streets of the bazaar the traveller is back in mediæval days,
and the town of to-day is just as Florence was in the days of Boccaccio
or Dante. Like the mediæval Florentines, many of the men from the
mountains shave their heads, leaving a tuft of bushy hair at the back,
which is cut square at the neck. With their tight-fitting
black-and-white striped trousers, black woollen boleros, their belts
filled with cartridges, and a rifle over their shoulders, they are a
fine, manly race, with swaggering gait, clean-cut features—mostly
Catholics, who spit openly at the lean, ragged, ill-fed soldiers of the
Sultan.

They come down from the mountains in armed bands, and walk through the
town, a dozen or so together, in complete defiance of the Turk. With men
upon whose heads a price has been set—known brigands or murderers,
indeed—I have chatted and drunk coffee in the bazaar, all wild fellows
who know no law except their own, and who do not acknowledge the Turk as
their ruler. When I inquired of Palok the reason of their immunity from
arrest, he replied—

“Why, signore, if the Turks captured one of these, the whole of Northern
Albania would rise as one man. The tribes would sweep down from the
mountains and sack and burn Skodra within twenty-four hours. Life in
this town is very uncertain, I can tell you. One never knows when the
rising will take place. All is ripe for it, and when it comes, then
woe-betide the Turk and all the Moslems. Have you not noticed the Sign
of the Cross over the doors of the Christians? Is that not significant?”

The Albanian tribesmen are mostly Catholics, together with some
Orthodox; yet they combine religion strangely with war. They go to the
Catholic Cathedral in Skodra with loaded rifles, which they place before
them as they kneel and pray, and before murdering their enemy they will
go and ask Providence to assist them.

The town Christian of Skodra is, for the most part, a very excellent
fellow. Palok, whom I found was well known, introduced me to many of
them, and in that wild land I received very many charming kindnesses
from perfect strangers.

The costume of the Scutarine men is distinctly quaint and curious. A
short dark red jacket, the front and sleeves of which are so completely
braided with narrow black braid as to almost hide the foundation, and
edged with dozens of oblong brass buttons; a pair of wide, dark blue
baggy breeches reaching to the knee; a round flat fez with a huge blue
silk tassel that falls about the shoulders; a bright, striped silk sash;
their legs in white cotton stockings and feet in patent leather
dress-shoes. Such is the dress of the average Christian one meets in
Skodra.

The attire of the women is even more extraordinary. They veil, just as
do the Mohammedan women, and only uncover their faces when they go to
church. For the most part they are beautiful when young, with clear,
delicate complexions, handsome features, and dancing black eyes; but
after seventeen appear to soon lose their beauty and become prematurely
wrinkled and old. The outdoor dress is generally made of the same dark
red cloth as the men’s jackets, so completely embroidered as to appear
black. Indeed no Scutarine, either man or woman, goes out in a dress
unless it is covered with embroidery. In every street you will see a
dozen men squatting cross-legged in a little dark shop, busily plying
the needle upon the narrow black braid, and applying tiny pieces of
green cloth among the braid as additional ornament. Often the braiding
is a marvel of needlework and design, and some of the outdoor costumes
of the women, though exceedingly ugly, are ornamented in such a manner
as to amaze the Western eye.

Female outdoor attire is, of course, of the divided skirt order,
trousers of thick braided cloth so clumsy that the wearer can only walk
with difficulty, a long cape, richly embroidered on the shoulders and
reaching to the hips, with a square kind of sailor collar that is raised
and pinned to the crown of the head. From the bridge of the nose to the
knee falls the white veil, like the Moslem women, while from the sash
are pinned gaily coloured silk handkerchiefs, which, appearing below the
cape, lend additional colour to the most unwieldy and ugly of all the
dresses of the East. The wearer cannot walk, but can only waddle with
difficulty.

The streets of Skodra are, however, a perfect panorama of costume. In
the dark entries the shuffling Mohammedan women, white-clothed from head
to foot and veiled, look ghostly and mysterious; the Mohammedan
unmarried girls with the striped red-and-white veil wrapped about them;
Albanians from the south in short, stiff cotton skirts like exaggerated
kilts; Turks in greasy frock-coats and discoloured fezes, strolling
slowly, fingering their beads to pass the time through Ramadan; fierce
tribesmen from the mountains in all sorts of different costumes, fully
armed and ready to shoot in an instant at discovering an enemy even
there in the crowded bazaar; unveiled country women in short, coarse,
black homespun skirts, wearing great iron-studded belts and savage
ornaments in brass, copper, and gold; giggling girls from the mountains
four or five days distant, dressed in their gorgeous gala dresses,
laughing as they bargain with the voluble keepers of the tiny shops in
the bazaar.

Skodra fascinates one. There is no European influence here: not a soul
is in European dress. It is the unchanging East—the same life that has
existed here for centuries. The Turks are, however, fanatics, and Palok
will not allow me to smoke a cigarette in the street in the daytime, for
in the fast of Ramadan the Mohammedans abstain from all food, drink, and
tobacco from four in the morning till the gun fires on the fortress at
sunset.

Upon Palok’s advice I even wore a fez, so as not to be too conspicuous.

When I asked the reason, he simply grinned, shrugged his shoulders, and
said—

“The signore believes Skodra to be a safe place. But it is not always
so. Why run unnecessary risk? And a fez is very comfortable.”

So after buying a fez, I took it to the ironer, a white-bearded old
Turk, who pressed it and shrunk it and combed out its tassel with great
ceremony, and then I assumed the distinctive mark of the Sultan’s
subjects, evidently to the great relief of the faithful Palok.

On our first visit to the bazaar Palok discovered a friend. He was a
very tall, thin-legged Albanian, in a white fez, a white woollen bolero,
and the usual black-and-white woollen trousers and turned-up shoes of
raw-hide and interlaced string. In one of the narrow, tortuous ways of
the bazaar, on a kind of platform before a small ramshackle booth, where
rope and twine were displayed, he was squatting cross-legged, staring
into space and awaiting customers.

Suddenly espying Palok, he seized his slippers, which stood near him,
and sprang out upon the filthy pavement. Next second the pair were
clasped in embrace, and after many mutual words of warm welcome in
Albanian, I was introduced.

The seller of string looked me up and down critically until his eye
caught my revolver in my belt, and then, apparently satisfied with my
appearance, he touched his chin and brow in salutation.

We ascended to the little platform, and a box was brought for me to sit
upon. A shout into the narrow alley brought me a cup of Turkish coffee.

“This is my friend, Salko,” Palok explained, in Italian, after the pair
had been apparently discussing me. “_Mio buon amico._ One of the best
men in the bazaar. For eight years we have been parted, and how pleased
I am to see him again.”

Salko interrupted, whereupon Palok said—

“My friend apologises, signore, that he cannot take coffee with you, or
offer you a cigarette. It is Ramadan, you know.”

I offered Salko my case, and, taking a cigarette, he placed it aside
until after sunset, touching his chin and brow and laughing merrily.

I wanted to buy several things in the bazaar—a piece or two of old
silver, if I could find it—and some antique embroideries which Palok had
told me I could find. He told Salko this, whereupon he shouted outside
to a passer-by, and in a moment the news was all over the bazaar, and
all sorts and conditions of men appeared with various things for sale:
beautiful silver-mounted and gem-studded pistols and swords, old silver
ornaments, embroideries of the sixteenth century, genuine antiques of
all sorts, old jewellery—in fact, in a quarter of an hour Salko’s little
shed-like shop presented the appearance of that of an antique dealer.

Two gorgeous Turkish ladies’ costumes attracted me. The trousers were of
silk, and interwoven with real gold and silver thread; the boleros of
rich crimson velvet, wonderfully embroidered with gold; the sashes gay;
and the little fezes, with golden sequins, smart and coquettish. They
were the real thing, and could be worn at a fancy-dress ball in England
with certain success.

I liked them, for they were the genuine thing. Dresses such as they were
are not made nowadays. Turkish ladies of to-day prefer the lighter
stuffs of the Franks, silks from Paris, and figured gauzes from Germany.
Those dresses had once graced the harem of some great Pasha—perhaps,
indeed, that of the Sultan himself. So I allowed Salko to bargain for
them.

I watched, and was amused.

The man who had them to sell apparently asked a price that was
exorbitant, whereupon my friend, with a wave of his hand, ordered him to
pack them back in the bundle.

High words followed, and I expected every moment the pair would come to
blows. The vendor was a round, fat-faced eunuch, with an ugly scar
across his brown cheek. And while the controversy was in progress, the
others who had wares to offer squatted about and advised each side as to
how much the costumes were really worth. Then at last both sides got at
loggerheads, hard words were used and insulting gestures; fists were
shaken, and angry scowls exchanged, until I momentarily expected that
there would be a free fight and bloodshed.

[Illustration: My friend Salko outside his house in Skodra.]

[Illustration: Pietro’s sister-in-law unveiled before the Camera.]

One man I noticed who had not spoken was fingering the hilt of his
knife, as though itching to join in the fray.

“I’m going out of this,” I told Palok, whereupon he only laughed.

“There’s really nothing to fear, signore. It is always so. They ask
double, and Salko is teaching the fellow manners. You are a foreigner,
and you don’t understand.”

I admitted that I did not.

The argument continued, and in the end the fat-faced eunuch was bundled
out by Salko into the dirty alley and his goods thrown after him.

Nobody smiled. Such treatment seemed usual, and on the following day I
bought the dresses.

The next was a little old Turk with a long white beard, who had an old
silver ornament for sale, one of those triangular boxes which women wear
round their necks containing scraps of the Koran, supposed to protect
them from the influence of the Evil Eye.

Though he came meek and humble, Salko glared at him. No. The Englishman
was his guest, and he would see that only what was just was paid. He
took the ornament from me, and weighing it in his hand, judged its
worth. Two other men agreed, and the old man, without being consulted,
was handed the money and told to be gone.

Assuredly business methods are quaint in the town we Europeans call
Scutari.

Another after another—shopkeepers, all of them in the same category as
Salko himself—was interviewed. Those who offered rubbish were promptly
ordered out. And so, before me, seated upon my box, was unfolded the
treasures of the bazaar.

And assuredly some of the curios offered were fit to grace any museum.
Seldom does a foreigner visit Skodra, therefore it still contains many
real antiques; and there being no sale for them, prices are not
exorbitant. It is, indeed, one of the few places left where one can
obtain anything worth having.

A long, lean Christian, in his flat round fez and enormous tassel,
offered me nine early Greek gold coins that had only a week before been
discovered in a tomb. I doubted the tomb part of the story, but I was
afterwards shown it half a mile away, and could also have bought the
actual vase in which they had been found. I am not a collector of coins,
so I declined them. One day, however, those coins will, no doubt, find
their way into one of our European national collections, for they were
so perfect that they looked as though just fresh from the matrix.

I was turning over in my hand a number of antique gem rings, when of a
sudden, just outside, not a dozen yards from where I sat, there was a
loud shout, followed by a pistol-shot. Then more shouting, and a little
crowd gathered. In alarm I sprang to my feet, and I saw outside a
mountaineer, in white felt skullcap, lying in a pool of blood with part
of his face blown away.

A man in black-and-white trousers stalked past, flourishing his big
pistol and threatening to shoot anybody who dared to stop him. He was
the assassin.

“It is nothing, signore,” Palok declared, reseating himself. “Only the
blood-feud. The men were _in sangue_, and have met. In such cases one
must always die. The man who shoots first gets the best of it,” and he
grinned.

For fully five minutes the man lay in the filthy gutter without a hand
being placed upon him to see if life were extinct. Then it occurred to
somebody to see. He was pronounced dead, and a couple of men carried
away the corpse. No police or guard put in an appearance, and the life
of the bazaar went on as though nothing unusual had happened.

But nothing unusual had happened. Such assassinations occur every day,
and nobody takes any heed of them. The blood-feud is part of the
Albanian creed, both Mohammedan and Christian.

It is not, however, pleasant to have a man shot dead before one’s eyes,
nor does it tend to inspire confidence in one’s own personal safety.

This was my first experience of the murderous instinct of the wild
Albanian, but ere three days I had still other opportunities of
reflecting upon Palok’s remark that Skodra was not so safe a place as it
looked.

Indeed, the town itself is, at intervals, threatened with massacre.
Every now and then rumours fly round that the mountain tribes are about
to descend upon the place and drive out the Turks. Then everybody
retires to their houses—each residence has high walls, and is more or
less a fortress—the bazaar is closed, the shops are barricaded, and the
ragged soldiers of the Sultan assemble under their greasy-tunicked
officers—and wait.

The blow for liberty has not yet been struck by the Albanians, but it
will assuredly come ere long.

I wanted to investigate, and get at the truth. That is the reason why
those high, blue, misty mountains that I could see afar from the narrow,
crooked streets of Skodra held me in such fascination; that is why I
disregarded all advice to the contrary, and determined to visit the
Albanian at home in his rocky fastness.

That same night, after Salko had bargained for me, I was eating my
evening meal—of pork—when another shot sounded out in the dark, unlit
street.

It was nothing, I was told by Palok five minutes later. A man had been
found dead in the darkness. That was all.

The average number of assassinations in Scutari is about three per day.
Nobody cares, for justice is nobody’s business except that of the dead
man’s brother, or his next-of-kin.

True, there is an Imperial Court of Justice, a lath-built shed with
gaping holes in the roof. Its steps are moss-grown, and its windows
mostly broken or devoid of glass.

Outside the place, after midday, the brave defenders of the Ottoman
Empire, those shoeless men with their ragged uniforms dropping off them,
sell their ration of bread to the passer-by in order to get money to buy
cigarettes. They remain unpaid, and their bread is their only source of
income. And upon the protection of these Skodra has to rely.

Is it any wonder that when sinister rumour runs through the bazaar,
everybody shoulders his rifle and sits on his wall, prepared to defend
his own home?



                              CHAPTER III
                            THE LAWLESS LAND

My friend Pietro—Visit to his house—His wife and sister-in-law unveil
    and are photographed—Scutarine hospitality—Forbidden newspapers—I
    get one in secret—The Turkish post office—I want to visit the
    Accursed Mountains—Difficulties and fears—The Feast of the
    Madonna—Christians and Mohammedans—My first meeting with the dreaded
    Skreli—Shots in the night.


Those bright, sunny autumn days in Skodra will live for a long time
within my memory.

Though a stranger in that half-savage place, where law and order are
unknown, I received perhaps more genuine hospitality from perfect
strangers than in any other place in the Balkan Peninsula.

Through Palok’s introduction I quickly found myself among friends, who
exerted their utmost in order to entertain me, and went out of their
way, even in face of their own national customs and beliefs, to oblige
me. The Albanian idea of hospitality is old-world and charming. A case
in point was one of my friends, a wealthy Scutarine merchant named
Pietro Lekha, whose portrait is here reproduced. He was a Christian, and
spoke a little Italian. At first, when I was introduced to him in the
bazaar, he was silent and taciturn, apparently regarding me with some
suspicion; but very soon this wore off, and we became the best of
friends. We took coffee together constantly, and he gave me exquisite
cigarettes. In Albania there is no _régie_, as in other parts of Turkey,
therefore one can choose from the peasant-women the very best light
tobacco in leaf, have it cut, and afterwards employ professional
cigarette-makers to manufacture you cigarettes. I did this, and sent a
quantity of cigarettes of the very first quality to England, far milder
and sweeter than any to be purchased in Constantinople—or anywhere else
in the world, for the matter of that.

[Illustration: ROK, tribesman of the Skreli.]

[Illustration: PIETRO LEKHA.]

Finding that I was taking photographs, Pietro became interested. He
accompanied me on my expeditions, and we had spent some days together
before I dared to inquire about his wife, the veiled lady whom I had
once had pointed out to me in the bazaar.

Palok had told me that Pietro’s brother had, three months ago, married
the most beautiful girl in Skodra, and that he and his young wife lived
at Pietro’s house. A bold thing then occurred to me—to beg permission to
photograph them.

I knew well that these people were averse to having their photographs
taken; nevertheless I very discreetly broached the subject one day when
sipping coffee with Pietro.

He gave me no decided answer. Indeed, he declared himself ready in any
way to serve me, but as to photographing his women-kind—well, it was
against all custom. What would his friends say if they knew?

I dropped the subject, rather crestfallen. I wanted to be invited to his
house and to meet his wife and sister-in-law, both of whom were declared
to be very beautiful. Yet he seemed in no way inclined to so far extend
his hospitality. I spoke to Palok and urged him to use his power of
persuasion, with the result that two days later I received an invitation
from Pietro to call upon him at his house at three o’clock to take
coffee, and further, he added—

“If you really wish to bring your camera, you may. I have spoken to my
brother, and he will let you take a picture of his wife, providing you
give your undertaking not to make any copies for sale, or to show it
here to people in Skodra.”

I willingly gave the undertaking, and at the appointed hour, accompanied
by Palok, we rang at the big gate in a high white, prison-like wall that
enclosed my friend’s dwelling, and were admitted into the garden, in the
centre of which stood a great square house.

Pietro came forward to greet me, a picturesque figure in his Scutarine
dress, the flat fez with big tassel, the embroidered coat, baggy
trousers, and white stockings. The ground floor was devoted to stables,
but above we found ourselves in a large square apartment with divans.
Upon the floor were beautiful Eastern rugs. On one side was the big,
gaudily painted dowry-chest, and here and there small low tables. The
room, with its heavy hangings, was very cosy, and over everything was
the sweet odour of otto-of-rose. In one corner was a great brass
brazier, and upon a chiffonier were a few European knick-knacks,
evidently household treasures. The only picture on the wall was a small
oleograph of the Madonna.

A rush-bottomed chair was produced for me, while Pietro and Palok
squatted cross-legged upon the divans. Then the servant was sent to
inform the ladies of our arrival.

Presently both wife and sister-in-law entered, gorgeous in silk and
gold, the most striking costumes I have ever seen off the stage. White
gauze veils were wrapped about their heads and corsage, leaving only
their eyes visible; and thus attired they saluted me and, with Pietro
acting as interpreter, welcomed me.

Afterwards they retired, and at Pietro’s order reappeared without their
veils. The younger woman was indeed lovely, with a fair white skin,
beautiful soft lines of beauty, magnificent black eyes, and lips that
puckered into a sweet, modest smile when I involuntarily expressed my
surprise at her marvellous good looks. I had heard that Albanian ladies
were beautiful, but I certainly never expected to be presented to such a
type of feminine loveliness.

Over her bare chest hung strings of great gold coins, while across her
brow were rows of sequins. Her richly embroidered dress, the jewels in
her ears, the bangles upon her arms, all enhanced her great personal
beauty, while she stood before me, her face downcast in modesty—for
except her husband and his brother no man had ever beheld her unveiled.

At that moment her husband entered, and I congratulated him upon the
possession of such a beautiful wife. Then we all laughed together, and
descended to the garden, where I was allowed to take photographs of her,
veiled and unveiled, as well as of Pietro’s wife, who was, of course,
much her senior, and who, although she had lost her youthful beauty, was
still very charming.

Returning again to the upstairs salon, we all sat round, while the
newly-married beauty brought us first lemonade, then delicious Turkish
coffee in tiny round cups upon a great gilt tray, followed by _rakhi_,
that spirit so dear to the Turkish palate, and afterwards real
_rahat-lakoum_, or Turkish delight.

Then, after an interval, veiled again once more, the beautiful young
woman brought me a cigarette and lit it for me, afterwards wishing me
adieu and modestly retiring.

All was done with such perfect grace and modesty as to create a most
charming experience. It was, to say the least, novel, to sit there with
those squatting Albanians and be waited upon by the prettiest girl in
Skodra.

Pietro told me that newspapers and books being forbidden, anyone found
in possession of them was at once arrested. He, however, gave me
surreptitiously a copy of the Rome _Tribuna_, which had been smuggled in
a day or two before; and it was welcome, being the first newspaper I had
had for several weeks.

Truly Skodra is a strange place. I had occasion to go to the Turkish
post office one day. It was, I found, a wooden shed. Inside was a low,
filthy truckle bed, a small table—at which sat a consumptive youth in a
fez—a broken chair and a large iron safe, the door being secured by a
piece of string being tied about it!

Of drainage there is none. Sewage runs down the centre of most of the
streets, especially in the bazaar, and its odour is the reverse of
pleasant on a sunny day. In the neighbourhood of butchers and
slaughterers the gutters run with blood, which the dogs lap and enjoy,
and near the stalls of fruiterers and vegetable-sellers the piles of
refuse rot in the sun and decay.

Yet everywhere, both in the streets of the Mohammedan quarter and in
those of the Christians, are interesting sights at every turn. When
night falls the place is dark and mysterious, for there are no lights
save that issuing from the chinks of a door or from the windows of a
barber or a coffee-seller. Through the windows of a mosque, perhaps, can
be seen the swaying figures of Turks at prayer, faint in the dim oil
lights, while in the blackness of the street the patrol passes, a dozen
Turkish soldiers with loaded rifles, headed by one man carrying a
lantern. The place is insecure after nightfall, even to the Scutarines
themselves, therefore nobody ventures out, and by nine o’clock every
house is bolted and barred.

At that hour, it being Ramadan, the Turk was feasting and taking his
ease, while opposite the _han_ where I lived a Turkish soldier would
come nightly and sing weird prayers under the window of the Governor of
the _vilayet_, that perfectly useless official, whose authority extends
only to the confines of the town itself, and who fears to exercise it
lest he should rouse the slumbering ire of those fierce tribes who live
in the Accursed Mountains above.

Many strange sights I witnessed and many strange things I heard in
Skodra.

Men, fierce mountaineers who, in some cases, bore across their
countenances marks of sword or gun-shot wounds, told me their
stories—exciting narratives of love, war, and the blood-feud. All were
Albanians, and believed Skodra to be the finest capital in the world.
England, because it carried on no political intrigue among them, like
Austria and Italy, they did not regard as a Power. Mine was a country
far away, I was told, and therefore perfectly harmless. Hardly anybody
had heard of London. Those who had, declared that it could not be so
large or so beautiful as Skodra.

The days I spent there were with the one object of obtaining, by some
means, permission from one or other of the mountain chieftains to allow
me to travel in the country.

Palok had promised to endeavour to arrange it for me, and so had Pietro,
but by their manner I saw that they considered any such attempt a piece
of sheer folly, and far too hazardous. They were too polite to tell me
so, but I read in their faces that they did not intend me to go, if it
were possible to prevent me.

Therefore surreptitiously I had recourse to my faithful friend of the
bazaar, Salko, himself a member of the fierce tribe of the Skreli, who
had more than once terrorised the town. When, through an interpreter, I
one evening explained my desire, he rubbed his chin doubtfully and
wagged his head. He would do his best, but it was dangerous—very
dangerous, he declared.

And yet, he went on, the thing might perhaps be managed. An Albanian of
the mountains, though he might be a brigand and annoyed the Turks, and
though he might shoot Turkish soldiers like dogs wherever met, was
nevertheless a man of his word. If I was promised safe escort, then I
might go into the mountains without even my revolver, for no harm would
come to me.

Yes; he would promise to see what he could do. But it was difficult, and
it would take time. In the mountains they had no great love of
foreigners.

To the coming Feast of the Madonna many men from the mountains would
arrive, and there would be opportunity to speak with them. No; he would
say nothing to Palok—if I so wished. Therefore I waited, and hoped.

Now the celebrated Madonna of Loretto was, before the Turkish occupation
of Skodra, at the little ruined church near the Boyana River, and even
now down to the annual _festà_ come representatives of all the various
tribes, men and women, from sometimes a week’s journey distant, filling
the streets with a perfect panorama of colour and costume.

The Feast of the Madonna is indeed the day to see Skodra at her best.

You may travel the whole of Europe, from the Channel to the Urals, or
from the White Sea to the Bosphorus, and you will never see such a
variety of types and of costume as during the two days of that feast.

That clear sunny morning the whole town was agog. The Christians had it
to themselves, for while they feasted the Mohammedans fasted. The two
peoples keep distinctly apart during religious festivals, and Turkish
soldiers, their blue uniforms green with age, greasy at the collar, and
often shoeless, patrol the town, ready to fire on the people at the
least provocation. At least, so they say. If, however, they did fire,
then woe-betide them! Every man goes armed in Skodra, and the garrison
would certainly be wiped out were the alarm once given to those wild
fellows up in the mountains.

All is orderly, however—all brilliant. The streets are full of
Christians from the country, the men tall, thin-legged fellows, with
black-and-white striped trousers and black furry bolero, carrying loaded
rifles upon their shoulders; and the women in the various gay costumes
of the tribes, each wearing profusions of gold coins strung across their
breasts, heavy gold earrings, and the younger married ones with dozens
of gaudy silk handkerchiefs suspended round their heavy brass or iron
studded girdles, presents to them on their recent marriage. Most of the
_katunnare_ (peasant-women from the plains) are dressed in a short black
homespun skirt and bodice combined, reaching to the knees and
embroidered with red. Around the waist is a heavy hide belt about five
inches broad, studded with iron, and with two big polished cornelians to
form the buckle. Some are of antique silver of beautiful workmanship,
and others, more modern, are gilt. These women wear nothing on their
heads, but the gaily-dressed _malzore_ (women of the mountains) wear a
bright silk handkerchief arranged very much in the same manner as the
women around Naples. The _malzore_ are extremely good-looking, and all
carry a small embroidered sack over their shoulder, for in Skodra on the
night prior to the _Festà_ of the Madonna every Christian house is open
to receive visitors and give them food and shelter, whoever they may be.
So these little sacks contain humble presents to the hosts.

Pietro met me in the street as I was going to the Cathedral, and told me
that on the previous night he had given food and beds to twenty-eight
mountaineers of both sexes. Albanian hospitality is certainly unbounded.

[Illustration: The Madonna of Skodra.]

[Illustration: The Procession with an Armed Guard.]

As I strolled through the narrow lanes of the Christian quarter towards
the Cathedral, and the gaily-dressed chattering women in groups hurried
forward to get a place within, I was struck with their neat and clean
appearance. Their finery was in no way dingy or dusty, and yet many of
them had been a whole week on a journey through perhaps the roughest
region in the whole East.

How different was the _festà_ to that I had known in the Italian towns!

About the Cathedral there is nothing unusually attractive—a big bare
edifice with high square campanile in modern Italian style. It stands in
the centre of an open space, surrounded by great high, fortress-like
walls, entered by a strong gate with huge iron bars—significant that one
day ere long it will be held against the Turks. No Mohammedan ever
passes those gates. Even the military patrol lounge outside, leaning on
their rifles.

Within the enclosure I found a great crowd of peasant women; females of
the town, veiled with gauze so fine that one could almost see their
faces; Scutarine men in their best jackets and baggy trousers; and the
swaggering, white-capped warriors from the mountains, men of the
Miriditi,—so dreaded by the Turks that they are allowed to carry their
rifles with them,—of the fierce Skreli, the Hoti, and the Kastrati.

The Skreli, with the Miriditi, are allowed to carry their rifles because
the Turks hold them in fear. The authorities know full well that to
arouse their ire would be to bring destruction upon the whole _vilayet_,
for they hold the communications, and if the tribes revolted, as they no
doubt would, then the army of the Sultan would have a very hard task to
suppress the rebellion.

So while the Kastrati and the Hoti—also dwellers in the Mountains of the
Accursed—the Klementi, the Shiala of the foot-hills, and the others are
compelled to leave their rifles at the entrance to the town, the Skreli
and the Miriditi stalk along in armed bands of twenty or thirty through
the streets to the church, grinning defiance at the Turks, who are
supposed by Europe to be their masters.

Under the trees around the Cathedral the wild, fierce men, who would
hold the traveller to ransom or shoot him with less compunction than
they would kill a shepherd-dog, were squatting in rings with their
rifles before them, gossiping. Every man wore a belt full of cartridges
and a bandolier across his shoulders—sometimes even two. War and
religion are strangely mixed in Skodra.

Into the dimly-lit Cathedral I managed to squeeze, and there, kneeling
on the stones and filling the whole place right out into the grass
enclosure, were men of all grades, from the peaceful Scutarine merchant
to the wild tribesman, and women with their faces uncovered bowed
towards the brilliantly lit altar, where the thin-faced Italian priest
mumbled the prayers.

The sight was strangely impressive; the silence unbroken save for the
low voice of the priest and now and then the clank of arms.

For two days in the year, to celebrate the Christian festival, the
brigand tribes from the mountains come down, notwithstanding that upon
the heads of many of those sinister-looking men before me the Turks had
long ago set a price. I stood gazing at that kneeling throng, to whom,
though devout and humble in God’s house, murder was deemed no wrong.

The service ended, a great procession was formed, and headed by four
fine stalwart men of the Skreli with loaded rifles, made a slow tour
from the altar outside and round the enclosure, while an orchestra in a
band-stand opposite played selections. The sight was curious—those armed
men ready to protect their priests in case of sudden onslaught by the
Turks.

During the whole morning I took many photographs, and in the afternoon,
when I returned, I found the orchestra playing operatic music, which was
being listened to by the tribesmen with marked attention. They are, I
afterwards found, devoted to music. The programme ranged from selections
from _La Bohème_ and _Carmen_ to the “Segovia” valse and our old
melodious friend, “The Honeysuckle and the Bee.” The latter air quickly
became popular among the tribesmen, who picked it up and began at once
to whistle it.

[Illustration: The Mirediti: An Alarm!]

[Illustration: The Mirediti at Prayer.]

Slowly fell the mystic twilight of the East. The glorious afterglow had
deepened into grey, and night was creeping on quickly when fire balloons
were sent up, and then gradually the whole Cathedral became outlined in
fairy lamps against the steely sky, even to the utmost point of the high
square tower. Men and women gazed upward, and crossed themselves.

Later, while walking back with Palok, we encountered a group of armed
tribesmen talking excitedly, shaking their fists, and apparently
quarrelling. Palok joined the crowd, and inquired what had happened.
Then, turning to me, he said—

“Oh, it is nothing, signore. The town of Kroia has revolted. The Turks
sent soldiers yesterday, but they were Albanians, and would not fire on
the people. To-day some artillery arrived, and thirty people have been
killed—mostly women. A man has just ridden in with the news. It is
nothing. We are always fighting the Turks at Kroia. There will probably
be a massacre to-night.” And he deftly rolled a cigarette as he spat in
defiance of the hated Mussulman.

Later that night I was awakened from sleep by a shot below, and, taking
my revolver, went to the window. The night was black, and I could
discern nothing.

I heard men’s voices raised in the street below, and suddenly saw the
red flash of firearms and heard a second report.

Then all was quiet, except receding footsteps.

The shots disturbed nobody, or if they did, nobody opened door or
window. The town was asleep, and by the distant sound of a tom-tom I
knew that the hour was half-past three; for the music was calling upon
the Faithful to eat, preparatory to the day’s fast.

What had happened? All was silent, therefore I closed my window and
slept again.

In the morning I was told that it was “nothing.” Two men of the Shiala
had been found dead outside.

Was it the blood-feud? I asked.

Palok only raised his shoulders and exhibited his palms.

“It was nothing, signore—really nothing.”



                               CHAPTER IV
                       IN THE ACCURSED MOUNTAINS

Vatt Marashi, chief of the Skreli tribe, invites me to become his
    guest—Our start for the Accursed Mountains—Rok, our
    guide—Independence of the Skreli—Brigandage and the _bessa_—A night
    under a rock—My meeting with Vatt Marashi and his band—The Skreli
    welcome—How they treat the Turks—Vatt’s admissions—I become the
    guest of brigands—A chat in the moonlight.


While seated on the box in Salko’s dark little stall in the bazaar he
introduced his friend Rok to me.

A middle-aged tribesman in the regulation costume of tight white woollen
trousers heavily striped with black, black bolero with deep woollen
fringe, and a felt skullcap, once white, but now not overclean, he
squatted opposite me and touched chin and brow in salute. His loaded
rifle lay before him on the ground.

He eyed me critically up and down, my pigskin gaiters apparently
receiving his admiration.

“Rok, here, is of the Skreli, a fearless fighter of the Turks and one of
my best friends,” Salko went on to explain. “I have told him of your
earnest desire to go and see our country; that you are neither Austrian
nor Italian, but English and not a spy. Our friend is returning to-day,
and has promised to speak to Vatt Marashi, our chief, on your behalf.”

“Tell the honourable Englishman that if he comes to us he must be
prepared for a rough life. We live in the mountains,” Rok said through
the interpreter, laughing pleasantly as he lit the cigarette he took
from my case.

Coffee was brought, and we sealed our compact of friendliness.

If Vatt Marashi, the renowned chieftain who so often held travellers to
ransom, and whose influence was so dreaded by the Turks, consented to
allow me to visit him, then Rok would return, he promised, and be my
guide.

For half an hour we chatted and smoked. Then the burly mountaineer rose,
slung his rifle over his shoulder, touched chin and brow again, grasped
my hand warmly, and stalked out on his three days’ tramp to the wild
region in the mountain mists that was his home.

I waited on in Skodra, and, to my great delight, he one morning
reappeared with a message from his chief that, providing I took only
Palok, and had no escort, he would be pleased to welcome me and show me
all the hospitality in his power. I need fear nothing, it was added. I
was to be guest of Vatt Marashi, chief of the Skreli. He had issued the
order to the tribe. Any who dared to insult or injure me should pay for
it with their life. Therefore I should be given safe-conduct, and need
not have a moment’s anxiety.

By this, Palok, who had been entirely opposed to the attempt, became
reassured, and soon after noon, with a mule packed with my lightest
baggage, we set our faces out across the great rolling plain that lies
between the town and the high wall of blue distant mountains—the wildest
corner of all Europe. They are a series of fastnesses, in which any
small army would at once be massacred and where a large one would
starve.

We were a merry trio as we marched forward in the bright autumn
sunlight, but about a kilometre beyond the town the road ended in a
ford, where we crossed a wide shallow river, and then straight across
the plain and past several tumuli to where a defile showed in the
mountains. The ancient Bridge of Messi, built under the Venetian
dominion, was crossed, and then we had our first experience of the road
in Albania—a rough, narrow way gradually ascending, almost too bad even
for mules.

Nobody who has not visited Northern Albania can have any idea of the
wildness of those bare grey rocks, of the roughness of the tracks, or
the savagery of life there. Northern Albania is to-day just as it was
under the Roman Empire. The might of Rome has waned, the Servian has
come and gone, the Venetian has been swept away, and the Turk is now
nominally master. But the country has never, through all the centuries,
been annexed, and those wild tribes, descendants of the savage people
who inhabited those fastnesses before the days of Greek dominion, have
never been tamed. The Northern Albanian is the last survivor of mediæval
days. He has no written language—indeed, his alphabet, with its many
soft and hard “ssh” sounds, has never yet been determined—therefore he
has no literature and no newspaper. Thin, wiry, and muscular, he wears
raw-hide slippers, in which he moves with cat-like, stealthy tread—a
habit survived from prehistoric days—while his very dress is protective,
rendering him at a short distance difficult to discern, so like is he in
colour to the rocky background. He looks as though he had just stepped
down from a mediæval Florentine fresco, with his head half-shaven, hair
long at the back and cut square across the shoulders.

He is entirely unchanged ever since the Turk found him, except that of
late he has adopted the breech-loading rifle and a particularly heavy
pattern of revolver. The black furry bolero which he wears, without
exception, is the sign of mourning for his great prince, Skender Beg,
who died in 1467, after being at war with the Turks for over twenty
years; therefore with him fashions do not easily change, and “latest
novelties” in dress are unknown. Great are the changes that have come
over the world during the past thousand years or so, but Northern
Albania has remained unaffected by them, and is still in a measure in
the lowest depths of barbarism. The Turk does not rule. The wild,
inaccessible country is under the various independent tribes, ruled by a
chieftain according to unwritten laws which have been handed down orally
from remote ages, and one of the fiercest and most independent of these
chiefs was Vatt Marashi, the man whose guest I now was to be.

[Illustration: My road in Northern Albania.]

[Illustration: The way to the Skreli.]

Compared with the tribesmen, the Albanian Christian of Skodra is a puny
person. The mountaineers are a barbaric, lawless people, without any
education save the schools established by Italian and Austrian monks as
part of the political propaganda; for, truth to tell, both countries
have recently conceived the idea of turning Northern Albania to account
for their own purposes on the day of the downfall of the Turk. Therefore
both Powers are frantically exerting every effort to curry favour with
the people, a fact which is glaringly apparent even to the rough,
uneducated tribesmen themselves.

The Northern Albanian may be entirely uneducated and a barbarian, but he
is at heart a brigand, and is certainly no fool.

My friend Rok was particularly intelligent, and as we toiled along over
those rough, rock-strewn paths he gave me much information about his
country, and declared that both Austria and Italy were equally their
enemy.

After sundown we rested at a point high up above a dark gloomy defile,
where a stream wound away towards the plain, and there ate some slices
of cold mutton and black bread with a glass of _rakhi_, our three rifles
lying at hand in case of sudden emergency.

I had noticed the queer, sinuous, almost uncanny way in which Rok
walked. His movements, at even pace whatever might be the state of the
path, were stealthy. Indeed, he almost crept along, for his feet fell in
silence, and with his rifle ever ready, his keen black eyes were
searching on every side for the enemy which he appeared to expect to
meet at every turn.

Sometimes as he walked in front he would halt, and closely scan a mass
of tumbled rocks, as though he had suspicion of a lurking enemy, then
thoroughly satisfying himself, he would go forward again without
glancing back. He was certain that no enemy was in his rear.

From his movements and natural caution I could plainly see that we were
traversing a country not altogether friendly, and when, as we sat over
our evening meal, I asked Palok, his reply was—

“The Shiala are not on very friendly terms with the Skreli just now. But
it is nothing, signore—nothing.”

We went forward until darkness closed in, and then lay down to sleep
under an overhanging rock almost on the face of a sheer precipice, a
place in which Rok told us he often stayed on his way down to Skodra. He
humorously called it his _han_, or hotel.

To light a fire would be to attract hostile attention, and the cold up
there was intense. I tried to sleep, but was unable, therefore I rose
and sat outside in the bright, glorious moonlight and kept watch, while
Rok curled himself up like a dog and snored soundly in chorus with
Palok.

There, in the East, the full moon seems to shine with greater brilliance
than in Europe, and beneath its white rays those bare, rugged mountains
looked like a veritable fairyland. Only the cry of a night-bird and the
low music of the stream far below broke the stillness of the Oriental
night, and as I sat there I reflected that I was the first Englishman
who had ever been the guest of the redoubtable chieftain, Vatt Marashi,
the man whom the Turks so hate—the man of whom blood-curdling tales had
been told me both in Montenegro and in Skodra, and whose fame as a
leader of a wild band had not long before been proclaimed by the London
newspapers.

For hours I sat thinking, sometimes of my good fortune, at others of my
perilous position alone in the hands of such a people. But I had heard
that, notwithstanding their barbaric customs, an Albanian’s word was his
bond. Therefore I reassured myself that I should not be the victim of
treachery, and reported to Constantinople as “missing.”

Slowly at last the moon paled, and I grew sleepy. That terrible road had
worn me out. Therefore I woke Palok to mount guard, and flung myself
down in his place and slept till the sun, shining in my face, awakened
me.

Through the whole day we went forward again, over a path so bad that I
often had to scramble with difficulty. I tried to ride the mule, but it
was out of the question, so I walked and stumbled and was helped over
the rough boulders by my companions. The Skreli country was surely an
unapproachable region.

That night we slept again in the open, but in a spot less sheltered.
Then forward again with the first grey of dawn until, just before noon,
Rok halted in the narrow track which wound round the face of the bare
grey mountain, and, drawing his revolver, fired three times in the air.

The shots reverberated in a series of echoes. It was a signal, and
almost ere they had died away came three answering shots from no great
distance, and I was told that we were now in the Skreli region, and
there was nothing more to fear.

In Podgoritza, in Cettinje, in Skodra, and in Djakova I had heard
terrible stories of this fighting race, and of Vatt’s fierce hatred of
the Turks. Yet everyone had told me that, the chief having invited me, I
need have not a moment’s apprehension of my personal safety.

So I went forward, reassured, to meet my host.

Half an hour later I came face to face with real brigands—brigands who
looked like an illustration out of a boy’s story-book—the men who had so
often held up travellers and compelled the Turkish Government to pay
heavy ransoms.

They were about twenty, certainly the fiercest and most bloodthirsty
gang I have ever set my eyes upon. Dressed in the usual skin-tight white
woollen trousers with broad black bands running down the legs, a short
white jacket, also black-braided, the sleeveless woolly bolero of
mourning, hide shoes with uppers consisting of a network of string, and
small white skullcaps, each man carried in his belt a great
silver-mounted pistol of antique type and a silver-sheathed curved
knife, while around both shoulders were well-filled bandoliers, and in
the hand of each a rifle. Like Rok, the heads of all were shaved,
leaving a long tuft at the back in the mediæval Florentine style.

With one accord they all raised their rifles aloft and shouted me
welcome, whereupon one man stepped forward—a big, muscular fellow with
handsome face and proud gait—the great chief Vatt Marashi himself.

Attired very much as his followers, his dress was richer, the jacket
being ornamented with gold braid. The silver hilt of his pistol was
studded with coral and green stones, probably emeralds, but he carried
no rifle. Jauntily, and laughing merrily, he approached me and bent
until his forehead touched mine—the Skreli sign of welcome.

And all this in Europe in the twentieth century!

Was I dreaming? Was it real? I was the guest of actual brigands, those
men about whom I had read in story-books ever since those long-ago days
when the weekly _Boys of England_ formed my chief literature.

Vatt Marashi, holding my hand the while, addressed me. What he said was
interpreted into Italian by Palok as—

“You are welcome here to my country—very welcome. And you are
an Englishman, and have travelled so far to see us! It is
wonderful—wonderful! You live so far away—farther than Constantinople,
they say. Well, I cannot give you much here or make you very
comfortable—not so comfortable as you have been down in Skodra. But I
will do my best. Come—let us eat.”

I returned his greeting, whereupon the whole crowd of us walked along to
a spot where a cauldron was standing upon a wood fire, and out of it my
host, myself, and Palok had pieces of boiled chicken and rice, which had
specially been prepared for my coming.

The object of this meal, I afterwards learnt, was to cement our
friendship. The Albanian code of honour is astounding, even to our
Western ideas. A word once given by those savage tribes is never broken,
and if the stranger eats the food of the Skreli, even though he may be
an enemy, his person is sacred for twenty-four hours afterwards. While
the food remains undigested he may not be injured or captured.

And so while I ate with this wild chieftain, his band squatted round,
apparently discussing me.

It was probably the first time they had seen an Englishman, Palok
explained, and they were at first inclined to regard me as a secret
agent of the Government, until later that afternoon their chief assured
them to the contrary.

Then that wild horde became, to a man, my devoted servants.

[Illustration: VATT MARASHI, Chief of the Skreli tribe.]

Vatt, the _Baryaktar_ (from the Turkish _bairakdar_, or
standard-bearer), unlike most Albanians, is fair-haired, above the
average height, extremely muscular, with a constant smile of hearty
good-fellowship. His eyes are fierce and barbaric; nevertheless he is
pleasant of countenance, and I certainly found him, from first to last,
a staunch and excellent friend.

Lord of those wild, rugged mountains, his word was obeyed with a
precision that amazed me. A striking figure he presented as, with me, he
marched at head of his bodyguard, his chest thrown out proudly, his head
up, his keen eyes ever searching forward like every Albanian of the
hills, one of the wildest rulers of wildest Europe.

On every side, as we went forward to the tiny cluster of little houses
that formed the village where I was to be quartered, were bare grey
limestone rocks without a single blade of grass, a desolate mountain
region into which no foreigner had penetrated save when captured and
held to ransom. Through centuries have that same tribe ruled that barren
land, and no conqueror of Albania has ever succeeded in ousting them.

“You have, no doubt, heard down in Skodra terrible things about me,” he
said, laughing, as, later on, we walked together. He had rolled me a
cigarette and given it to me unstuck. “I expect you feared to come and
see me—eh?”

I admitted that I had heard things of him not altogether satisfactory.

“Ah!” he laughed, “that is because the Turks do not like us. Whenever a
Turkish soldier puts his foot a kilometre outside Skodra, we either take
away his Mauser and send him back, or else—well, we shoot him first.”

“But they say that your men capture travellers.”

“And why not?” he asked. “We are Christians. Is it not permissible for
us to do everything to annoy those devils of Turks? But,” he added, “if
they say that I treat my prisoners badly, they lie. Why, they get plenty
of food and are well treated. I give them some shooting if they like—and
they generally enjoy themselves. But I know. I too have been told that
the Turks say I once cut off a man’s ears. Bah! all Turks are liars.”

“Then it is only to annoy the Turks that your men commit acts of
brigandage?”

“Of course. The ransom is useful to us, I admit, but we live by our
flocks, and our wants are few. We are not like the people down in
Skodra. We are better, I hope.”

“And do you always watch the roads on the other side of the mountains
yonder?”

“Always. Our men are there now, all along the route between Ipek and
Prisrend. Who knows who may not pass along—a rich Pasha perhaps.” And
his face relaxed into a humorous smile at thought of such a prize.

And then I marched along, my rifle over my shoulder—a brigand for the
nonce like my host.

Surely it was one of the quaintest experiences of a varied and
adventurous life.

The tiny house in which I was given quarters had an earthen floor and
consisted of two rooms, the ceilings and walls of which were blackened
by the smoke of years. The owner was an old man with his wife and
daughter, the latter being a pretty young woman of about nineteen,
dressed in the gorgeous gala costume with golden sequins, the same that
I had seen down at Skodra during the _festà_. She had on her best in my
honour, I suppose, and her husband, a good-looking young fellow five
years her senior, seemed justly proud of her. His name was Lûk. I named
him Lucky, but he did not appreciate the wit. He was, I found, one of
the chief’s bodyguard who had come to greet me at the confines of the
Skreli territory, and proved a most sociable fellow, ever ready to
render me a service.

“These good people will look after you and make you as comfortable as
they can,” my host said, when he had introduced me to them. “I have to
go along the ravine, but will return in time to eat with you this
evening. You like good cigarettes? I will send you some.” And he shook
my hands, and turning, went out, stalking again at the head of his
ferocious-looking band.

[Illustration: The Skreli at Home.]

[Illustration: An Albanian Village.]

The bedroom, occupied in common by the family, was given over to me. My
bed on the floor was a big sack filled with dried maize-leaves. It was
not inviting, but Palok, having examined it critically, declared it to
be “_cosi cosi_,” and having slept out a couple of nights, I was
compelled to accept his verdict.

The girl in the sequins boiled us coffee over the fire, and with her
father and husband I sat outside the house in the golden sunset, smoking
and chatting. Both were full of curiosity. England was to them a mere
legendary land, and they had never heard of London. When I mentioned it
they declared that it could not possibly be so large as Skodra.

I told them of Cettinje and other towns in Montenegro I had visited, but
they held all Montenegro in contempt, for were they not always raiding
over the frontier? Lûk declared that he had walked in Podgoritza openly,
and in the marketplace shot a man with whom he was in _gyak_, or
blood-feud.

“I walked out again, and no one dared to stop me,” he added, with pride.
“It would have been worse for them if they had.”

“But the Montenegrins are no cowards,” I ventured to remark.

“Certainly not. They are very brave, but they dare not follow us here.
They always get lost in the mountains, and once they lose their way they
lose their lives,” he added, with a grin. “Our men killed four over
yonder mountain a few days ago.”

“The blood-feud?”

“Of course. It arose out of that.”

From the half-dozen other poor mountain homes came forth men, women, and
children, who grouped around us, watching in curiosity. According to
Palok, rumour had at first gone round that I was a prisoner, therefore
they had refrained from coming forth to see me. Now, however, they knew
the truth, they welcomed me as their guest.

Just before it grew dark the _Baryaktar_ returned, followed by the
bodyguard, without whom he never seemed to move. They did his bidding,
executed his orders, and were ever at his beck and call—the picked men
of the tribe.

While Vatt squatted on the floor I sat upon my suit-case, and together
we ate a kind of mutton stew, rather rich, but not unpalatable. There
was an absence of table cutlery, therefore we ate with the aid of our
pocket-knives and fingers. Now and then the old woman would pick a
tit-bit out of the pot and hand it to me with her fingers. I was
compelled to accept the well-meant hospitality, even though her hands
were not particularly clean.

The hot dish was tasty, but I could not manage the sour black bread, for
it was mouldy, and gritty into the bargain.

It was a weird picture, the interior of that lowly hut, lit by the dim
oil lamp of almost the same type as used by the early Greeks. The
uncertain firelight glinted upon the gold of the dresses of the
chieftain and of Lûk’s pretty wife, and threw, now and then, into relief
those strangely unfamiliar faces, the barbarians of an age bygone and
forgotten. The very language they were speaking was, as an unwritten
one, utterly incomprehensible and unintelligible to any but the born
Albanian.

I rubbed my eyes—on account of the smoke—wondering if it were really
only a very few weeks ago that I had driven a motor from London down to
Windsor, that I had seen _The Catch of the Season_, and trod the red
carpet of the Savoy afterwards.

And to-night I was actually having supper with real live brigands of the
mountains!

Lûk produced a bottle of _rakhi_, and Vatt Marashi lifted his tin mug to
me. I took a little of the potent spirit in the bottom of my own
drinking-cup, and tossed it off. It was not half as bad as I expected.

Then the chief took me outside the house, and in the clear moonlight we
sat down with Palok upon a big rock to chat.

He rolled me a cigarette of most excellent Turkish tobacco—of his own
growing, he told me—lit one himself, and we sipped the coffee brought to
us by Lûk’s wife.

The scene spread before us was superb—a magnificent panorama of
mountains, some tipped with snow, white and brilliant under the
moonbeams. Below us, the valley was a great chasm of unfathomable
blackness.

With my strange host I chatted upon many subjects, and found him far
more intelligent than I had believed. Keen-witted, quick of perception,
just in his judgment, and yet filled with an intense hatred of both Turk
and Montenegrin alike, he explained to me many things of great interest.

He told me of the glorious traditions of his sturdy race and of the
prince of the Skender Beg family, who, they hoped, would one day come
back to rule them.

“We, the chieftains, hold authority from him,” he declared. “Oh yes, he
will come some day. Of that we are quite certain.”

“Englishmen have never dared to come here, have they?” I asked, with
some curiosity.

“Only once—a year or two ago. I discovered three of your compatriots
poking about in the rocks and chipping little pieces off. I had them
captured, and brought to me. At first I thought I would hold them to
ransom and make the Turks pay. But they were evidently poor fellows, for
their clothes were worn almost to rags, and they had very little money.
So I gave them their money back and sent them with an escort down to the
plain, forbidding them to enter our country again. I wonder why they
came, and why they were chipping the rocks?”

I told him that they were evidently mining prospectors; that Englishmen
travelled all over the world to discover minerals; and that a mine in
his country would be a source of great wealth. But my explanation did
not appeal to him. He could not see why they were chipping off those
pieces of rock. It was not flint, otherwise they might have wanted them
for gun-locks. No, the trio were distinctly suspicious characters, and
he was glad that he had expelled them.

“Have you ever held Englishmen to ransom?” I inquired.

“One. Five years ago. He came here shooting—after bears, I think. He was
evidently a great gentleman, for his guns were beautiful. The Turks paid
promptly.”

“Because he was an Englishman—eh?”

“Most probably,” he laughed. “Are they afraid of you English as they are
afraid of us?”

And soon afterwards he bade me good-night, and left me to throw myself
down upon my mattress of leaves and listen to the snoring of Palok and
the assembled family in the adjoining room.

I had thought Skodra barbaric, but here I was in an utterly unknown
corner of the earth, in an absolutely savage land—a land that knows no
law and acknowledges no master; a land that is the same to-day as it was
in the days of Diocletian and of Constantine the Great—Albania the
Unchanging.

[Illustration: Among the Skreli: Lûk (first on the right) and his
friends.]



                               CHAPTER V
                        LIFE WITH A BRIGAND BAND

The Skreli a lawless tribe—No man’s life safe unless the chief gives his
    word—Vatt prophesies a rising against the Turks—Our walks and
    talks—Our meeting with our neighbours the Kastrati, and with Dêd
    Presci their chief—A woman who avenged her husband’s death—The
    significant story of Kol—Manners and customs of the wild
    tribes—Farewell to my good friend Dêd—An incident a fortnight later.


The bright sunny days I remained with the Skreli were full of interest.

On every hand, from Vatt himself down to the humblest of his tribe, I
received only the greatest kindness and hospitality. If I went out in
Vatt’s absence, a dozen armed banditti followed me, mounting guard over
me; for, as they told me, one never knew what little “accident” might
happen. With the tribes of the Shiala and the Pulati they were not just
then on particularly friendly terms, and there had been a series of
sharp encounters a week ago. Having given their word to be responsible
for my safety, it behoved them to take precautions.

I walked with Vatt Marashi every day, making long excursions through the
mountains by the secret paths known only to the tribe.

Would I care for some sport? If I cared to come next year and bring a
friend, or even two, he would let me shoot. My friends would always be
welcome, and I could assure them of their safety. There was plenty of
game, and lots of bears, lynx, and wolves. I should tell my friends in
England, and come back for a month or two. I promised that I would, for
in our walks I saw quantities of game. My friend shot several eagles,
but I was not successful in bagging one.

As he was stalking at my side one afternoon, his argus eyes everywhere
and a cigarette in his mouth, I returned to the subject of the Turks and
their “occupation” of Albania.

“Bah!” he exclaimed, with a sneering curl of the lip. “They dare not
come here. We, with the Kastrati, the Hoti, the Klementi, the Pulati,
and the Shiala, are masters here. We have held the land always, and
shall hold it still. We acknowledge no law except our own, and pay no
taxes to anybody. The Turks, when they conquered Northern Albania,
thought they could crush us. They tried to, but soon discovered their
mistake. So ever since that they have left us severely alone, and
retired into Skodra. They know full well that when we unite with our
brothers, the Miriditi, in the south, then Skodra will be at our mercy.”

“And if the Sultan sends his soldiers here?”

“Well, and what then?” he asked, with a flash in his eyes. “Do you think
we fear them? Many of them are Albanians, and would not fight us. Again,
you have experienced the road here. What would an army do here? We
should pick them off as fast as they came up. There are forty thousand
of us Skreli alone, remember, without all the other tribes. If a Turkish
army came in here, depend upon it, it would never get out again.”

“And is there likely to be a rising against the Turks?” I inquired, much
interested.

“Why, of course. The revolt will come one day ere long—when we are
ready. We can, however, afford to wait at present. Turkey will soon have
her hands full with Bulgaria and Macedonia, and then—well, we shall help
Bulgaria, and in a week there won’t be a Turk in Skodra.”

“You mean there will be a massacre?”

For answer he shrugged his shoulders.

“And after the revolution?”

“After we have driven out the Turk we hope to obtain our independence
under either France or some other far-off country—England, for instance.
Austria and Italy are, through their priests, conducting a strenuous
propaganda all through Northern Albania—so strenuous as to be
ridiculous. They foolishly think that we are like children, and that we
do not discern their ulterior motives. Oh, it is very amusing, I can
tell you! We accept their schools and their money, and put our fingers
in our cheeks, for we don’t intend to have anything to do with either
Power when the rising comes. We will help Servia or Bulgaria, or even
Montenegro, to drive the Turk from Albania, but we will not lift a
finger for either Italy or Austria. The secret agents of both Powers are
always endeavouring to penetrate here among us and carry on their
propaganda. But we do not want them, and will not have them. More than
one has of late—disappeared.”

“Shot?”

He smiled in the affirmative.

“It is true,” he said, “that we kill—and kill often—for the vendetta—for
espionage—and in the frontier disputes with Montenegro. Alas! we have
here but little of the _bessa_ (truce). But you must remember we are not
like you English. The people have no government, except myself. I make
the law, and they obey. We are Christians. We believe in God and in the
Virgin, and soon we will drive the Mohammedan fanatics from our land.”

He spoke with an air of conviction, and, judging from my observations
while I was guest of his tribe, I believe that when war between Turkey
and Bulgaria comes—as it must come one day before long—these wild people
will sweep down upon the Turks and play frightful havoc with them.

Skodra is often alarmed, and the people retire into their houses and bar
their doors because the tribes are believed to be coming. One day they
will come, and when they do those open drains in the streets will run
with blood. The sign of the cross upon the Christian houses is in
preparation for the day of vengeance.

My walks with Vatt Marashi, though often very fatiguing, were full of
interest. He was never tired of making inquiries regarding England and
England’s power. Did the Sultan recognise England as an independent
state, and did we send an Ambassador to the Sublime Porte, like Austria
and Germany? He knew that England once had a Vice-Consul in Skodra—but
he committed suicide, it was said, poor fellow.

Nothing very extraordinary, I remarked inwardly. Doomed to live in such
an out-of-the-world place as Skodra would be sufficient to drive any
European to take his life. Of brigandage, Vatt Marashi told me that they
held up but few travellers nowadays, and only, indeed, when there was
necessity. Yet a year or two ago they held the worst reputation of any
of the tribes.

One day while we were climbing the rocks—for Vatt and his bodyguard
thought that they might get a shot at a bear—there was a sudden alarm.
The hawk’s eyes of my companions espied strangers, and a sudden halt was
called. In a moment we were all under cover of the rocks. Every man
unslung his rifle, and Vatt himself, with knit brows, drew his big
pistol with silver butt, while I crouched behind a rock with my rifle
ready, expecting something to happen.

Nothing, however, did happen, for a few moments later there were shouts
from the opposite side of the defile, answered by my companions, who
came forth and waved their rifles over their heads as sign of greeting.

Vatt, replacing his pistol in his belt, spoke in a loud, sharp voice,
and received an answer. Those mountaineers can throw their voices long
distances, and be heard distinctly, a fact I often noticed.

Then Palok told me that the strangers were of the neighbouring tribe,
the Kastrati, and that their chief, Dêd Presci, had come to pay Vatt a
visit.

For me this was fortunate, for it gave me an opportunity of meeting the
other ruler of Northern Albania; for next to the Skreli the Kastrati are
most powerful in the Accursed Mountains.

[Illustration: MRIKA, the woman who carried on the blood-feud.]

Half an hour later we met our visitors. Dressed very similarly to my
companions, they wore white tassel-less fezes instead of the little
white skullcap, and the black stripes down their trousers were somewhat
different. The two chieftains touched foreheads, and I was afterwards
introduced. Dêd Presci, a round-faced, pleasant man, rather stout and
burly, his hair cut in mediæval style, gripped me warmly by the hand,
saying—

“I heard that you were in Skodra during the _festà_. Some of my men told
me there was an Englishman. But I never expected to meet you. Perhaps
you are coming across to see me—eh? If so, you are quite welcome.”

“I may come next year to shoot, with a couple of English friends. May I
visit you then?”

“Most certainly. You have only to warn me of your coming through one of
our men down in Skodra, and I will give you safe escort,” was his reply.
“If you are fond of sport, you will find plenty with us. Only bring a
tent, and perhaps some provisions; for our food is not what you
foreigners are used to.”

“Then I shall return one day before long,” I promised.

“Do. You need fear nothing, you know. We never betray a friend.”

“Or forgive an enemy,” added Vatt, laughing.

“Especially if he be a Turk,” I remarked; whereat both chiefs laughed in
chorus.

That evening I ate with the pair in a small lonely house on the
mountainside, and the moon had long risen before Palok and I returned to
Lûk’s.

My photographic camera was, from the first, regarded with a good deal of
suspicion, and it was with very great difficulty I persuaded anybody to
have his picture taken. Many surreptitious snap-shots I took with a
small “Brownie” camera, for unfortunately I had run out of films for my
own larger Kodak. But I was able to secure some photographs, which now
appear in this volume.

Early one morning, soon after sunrise, I was walking with Lûk and Palok
when a young woman passed us.

“That is Mrika Kol Marashut,” Lûk remarked.

“And who is she?” I asked.

“Mrika—the woman who carried on the blood-feud,” was his answer. “Two
years ago she was the most beautiful girl of our tribe, and had a dozen
men ready to marry her. She married Lez, a smart young man from the
Pulati side, and one of the _Baryaktar’s_ bodyguard, like myself. A
month after their marriage Lez was treacherously killed by his brother,
who lived down by the White Drin, and was violently in love with her.
When she received the news she became half demented by grief. But, by
slow degrees, she formed her plans for the blood-feud, and having no
male relatives, resolved to take it on herself. She therefore left us
and was absent nearly a year, during which time she persistently
followed her brother-in-law first to Ochrida, in Macedonia, then to
Skopia, Prisrend, and many other places, always awaiting her opportunity
to strike the blow. This came one afternoon when her husband’s assassin
was walking in the main street in Skodra, and she took Lez’s pistol from
her belt and blew his face away. It was valiant of a woman—was it not?
But not only that,” he went on. “Having killed the murderer, she went
straight to his parents’ house, three days’ journey, and shot them both
dead. Since then she has been back with us, for poor Lez’s death has
been avenged. I was sorry he died,” he added regretfully, “for he was
one of my dearest friends.”

Murder is hardly a crime in Albania, for life is cheap—very cheap. An
enemy or a stranger is shot like a dog, and left at the roadside.

Palok told me of an incident which truly illustrates the utter disregard
the Albanian has for other people’s lives. He was once with a man of the
Hoti—on the Montenegrin frontier—who had just obtained a new rifle,
probably from a murdered Turkish soldier. While he was inspecting it a
man passed close by, a stranger, whereupon the man with the new gun
raised it to his shoulder, took aim, and fired. The stranger fell dead.
Palok remonstrated, but his companion merely said that he was testing
his gun’s accuracy. Was it not better, he asked, to test it that way,
instead of waiting till face to face with an enemy?

The assassin is never punished, except by those who take up the
blood-feud. If the murder takes place in a town the guilty one escapes
to the mountains, or gets away into Macedonia, or into Servia, where he
earns his living by sawing firewood. Every few years the Sultan issues
an irade “for the pacification of the blood,” as it is put, and the
murderer then returns. He pays a small tax to the Turkish Government,
after which he cannot be arrested; and if he pays about three hundred
crowns to the relatives of his victim, the blood-feud is at an end.

This, of course, does not apply to the mountain tribes. They care not a
jot for the Sultan or for his irades. There is no law—save that of the
blood-feud, the vendetta falling upon the murderer and upon his next
male relative. Many were the curious facts regarding the blood-feud and
the Albanian laws of hospitality told to me.

A case in point was that of a young man named Kol, a friend of Lûk’s, a
tall, wiry youth, of somewhat sinister expression—a typical bandit out
of a book-illustration.

I was talking to Lûk about the hospitality extended by the various
tribes to each other when Kol passed, and he beckoned him, saying—

“He has just had a curious experience in the Klementi country. Let him
relate it to you.”

So at Palok’s invitation the young fellow accepted one of my cigarettes,
placed his rifle against the wall, and flung himself down upon a small
boulder near us.

He blew a cloud of smoke from his lips, stroked his knees with his
hands, and looked at me with considerable curiosity, wondering why I
should want to know his story.

“The stranger is interested in your adventures with the Klementi. Tell
him all about them.”

“Bah!” he said, with a slight shrug of the shoulders. “It was
nothing—mere chance—luck, if you like to call it so. There is nothing to
tell.”

“But what there is interests the Englishman. He is the _Baryaktar’s_
guest, remember,” Lûk remarked.

“Well,” said the young man reluctantly, “I was in blood-feud with a man
of the Klementi, and went over there to kill him. I laid in wait one
evening, and as he drove home his sheep I shot him from behind a rock.
He had killed my father, therefore I had a just right to avenge his
blood. My shot, however, aroused the whole valley, and I knew that I,
the only stranger, would be suspected and killed. Therefore I sped away
down the valley in the darkness till I reached a poor little house. An
old woman was there, and I craved food and shelter for the night. She
gave me food at once—for, like ourselves, the Klementi never send a
stranger empty away. I was hungry, for I had crossed into the Klementi
region in secret, and dared not seek food lest my presence became known
to the man I intended to kill.

“Scarcely had I eaten the meat the old woman had given me when there
came the sound of voices outside, and to my horror I saw four men
carrying the body of my victim.

“‘See!’ they cried to the woman who was befriending me. ‘One of the
Skreli has killed your son!’

“Then I knew that it was the murdered man’s mother who had given me
shelter. A moment later the men, among whom was the elder brother of the
victim, discovered me.

“‘See!’ they cried. ‘There is your son’s murderer. We will kill him!’

“I stood with my back to the wall, knowing well that my last moment had
come. The dead man’s brother raised his rifle while I drew my pistol,
prepared at least to fire once more before I died. I was caught like a
rat in a trap!

“The old woman, however, seeing my position and my helplessness, cried—

“‘No. Though he has killed your brother, you may not touch him. He is
beneath our roof; he has eaten our bread, and our protection must remain
over him till to-morrow’s sunset. Remember, my son. It is our law.’

“The man dropped his rifle, and his friends drew back at the old woman’s
reproof.

“‘Go!’ she said to me, after glancing at her son’s body. ‘You have eaten
our bread, and therefore you cannot be harmed.’

“‘Yes, go,’ added my victim’s brother. ‘Till to-morrow’s sundown I will
not follow. But after that, I shall track you down, and, before Heaven,
I will kill you.’

“Need I say that I took up my rifle, and leaving the house travelled
quickly all night and all next day, until I returned here? But,” added
Kol, with a slight sigh, “we shall meet one day—and he will most
certainly kill me.”

Is there any other country in the world where such a code of honour
exists? I am inclined to think not.

Had I been in the midst of a highly civilised people—a foreigner
wandering in the wilds of Yorkshire, for example—I certainly should
never have received the many charming kindnesses that I did at the hands
of those rough, uncivilised tribes. Climbing like cats up the
mountainsides as they did, I was often compelled to lag behind, being
unused to such walking. But, laughing merrily, those armed banditti
would take me by the arms and help me up the steeper places; they would
roll cigarettes for me, carry my rifle when I grew fagged, and fetch and
carry for me like children.

My neat Smith-Wesson hammerless revolver was constantly admired, as
being a much more handy and serviceable weapon than their own big
pistols—Austrian-made revolvers fitted to antique silver butts that had
once done service to flintlocks. My Browning repeating revolver, with
its magazine holding eight cartridges, was declared a marvel of
ingenuity, and on many occasions Vatt and his men amused themselves by
firing with it at targets.

Once he remarked, with a grim smile, that it would be a handy weapon
against the Turks. Where could he get one? Was it costly?

And when I promised to send him one through our mutual friend in the
bazaar down in Skodra, as souvenir of my visit, his joy knew no bounds.

A month later I fulfilled my promise, sending it across from Sofia, and
have since received an acknowledgment of its safe receipt.

I wonder whether he has yet used it against the hated Turk? Whether or
not, he no doubt struts about with it in his belt, a greater chief than
all the others, because he possesses the very latest and deadliest of
weapons.

When one evening I told my host that I had still a long way to
go—through Bosnia, Herzegovina, Servia, Bulgaria, Roumania, and
Macedonia—and that I must bid him farewell, his face fell. He seemed to
genuinely regret.

“But you will return soon,” he urged. “You will redeem your promise, and
bring your friends to shoot. Bring that friend you told me about who
shoots tigers in India. I want to see what sort of shot he is. And the
friend who shoots partridges and pheasants.”

I promised that I would go back to him before long.

“Remember, there will be no danger—none. Tell your friends that Vatt
invites them, and that they are free to go anywhere—anywhere,” he said,
waving his hand over the wild panorama of mountain and valley that is
his indisputable domain.

Next day I rose, packed my small belongings, and with a little present
to Lûk and to his pretty wife prepared to leave, when, judge my
amazement to find Vatt and his bodyguard outside, and to hear that the
chief had decided to accompany me right down to Skodra!

This indeed he did, and when we arrived in the town held by the Turks he
strutted down the main street with me, apparently proud of his guest,
and in open defiance of the scowling ragged soldiers in dirty red fezes.

Though a deadly enemy of the Turks, he openly defied them. As we walked
along the streets there came close behind us twenty of his faithful
followers, armed to the teeth and carrying their rifles ready loaded in
case of trouble.

But there was no trouble. The Turks of Skodra are wise enough to let the
Skreli severely alone.

Trouble will, however, come one day before long, and then alas for the
subjects of the Sultan. The Albanians will avenge the blood of the
Christians now spilt daily in Macedonia, and the Turk will be driven
back southward—or at least what is left of him.

[Illustration: My Body-guard in Northern Albania.]

I parted from Vatt at the door of my so-called _albergo_. He took a
glass of _rakhi_ with me, and afterwards, with a hearty hand-grip, he
told me not to forget my promise to return. Then he left me, stalking at
the head of his armed band, who one and all wished me _bon voyage_, and
he went down the street on his return to his mountain home.

But the irony of Fate followed. A fortnight later I found myself riding
with a strong military escort on the other side of the mountains, where
I had been so hospitably entertained—along the frontier of the Skreli
country.

It was growing dusk, and we were passing through a deep ravine, our
horses stumbling at every step, when of a sudden the crack of a rifle
startled us.

Next instant a dozen rifles flashed fire in the deep shadows to our
left. The Skreli outposts were sniping at us!

In a moment we had all dismounted and sought cover, and for fully ten
minutes returned their fire vigorously, while the officer of the escort
kept up a volley of imprecations on the heads of my late hosts, who
were, of course, in ignorance that they were firing upon “the
Englishman.” We were too far off each other to do much harm, therefore
we simply blazed away. I was crouched behind a rock with the muzzle of
my rifle poked through a convenient crack, and fired towards the spot
where the flashes showed.

A good deal of powder and bad language were expended, until at last our
friends on the other side of the valley, apparently thinking we were too
far away, ceased firing, and we of course did the same.

It was a mutual truce. For ten minutes longer we waited in order to see
what would happen. Then, leading our horses, we crept carefully along on
our way northward, out of the range of our friends’ guns.

Those moments were exciting, however, while they lasted, yet they were
not without their grim humour.



                         BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA



                               CHAPTER I
                            SOME REVELATIONS

Through Dalmatia to Herzegovina—Over the Balkan watershed—Bosnia and
    Sarayevo—A half-Turkish, half-Servian town—Austrian persecution of
    the Christians—Some astounding facts—A land of spies and
    scandals—The police as murderers—A disgrace to European
    civilisation.


In the darkest hour before daylight I bade farewell to my friend Mr.
Charles des Graz, the British Chargé d’Affaires in Cettinje, and
mounting into the pair-horse carriage, left the Montenegrin capital to
descend that most wonderfully engineered road over the face of the bare
mountains to Cattaro, on my way to Herzegovina and Bosnia.

Though still dark, Cettinje was already stirring, and as I drove through
the long main street, armed men who were my friends saluted me, and
shouted “_S’bogom!_” My driver and myself were armed too, in case of
“accident,” yet the Montenegrin roads are quite safe nowadays, thanks to
the pacific and beneficent rule of His Royal Highness Prince Nicholas.

Our eight-hour journey through the mountains was full of interest. Over
those bare, tumbled limestone rocks, devoid of herbage and wild to the
extremity of desolation, came the first rosy flush of dawn, and as we
watched, the sun gradually dispelled the greys into yellows and golds in
all the glory of the bursting of an autumn day. First, over the great
plateau on which Cettinje is situated; then up the bare face of the
mountain in a series of zigzags with acute angles; up, higher and
higher, where the wind cut one’s face like a knife; and higher still,
where we got out to walk, and so lighten the horses and warm ourselves.
I gave my driver a pull at my flask, for the temperature was below zero,
and we were both cramped and cold. Even through my leather-lined
motor-coat the wind cut like a knife, chilling me to the bone.

At the summit a glorious view, one more wonderful, perhaps, than any in
the whole of the Balkans. On the one side in the far blue distance the
Accursed Mountains of Albania, where dwelt my friend Vatt Marashi and
his fearless men, and on the other, away down in the rolling mists, lay
what looked like a series of lakes, but which in reality was the
wandering arm of the Adriatic, the magnificent fjord called the Mouths
of Cattaro—the Bocche di Cattaro.

Here we struck the single telegraph-wire which places remote Cettinje in
connection with the rest of the civilised world, and then the pace of
our rough mountain horses showed that we were descending. Far below were
a number of scattered houses, the little town of Nyegush, the chief
edifice of which is the unpretentious palace of the Prince, and for a
full hour and a half we wound down and down ere we reached its main
street and pulled up at the inn for half an hour to get some coffee and
to rest the horses.

Cramped and half-frozen as I was, the big steaming bowl of coffee was
indeed welcome. Then, after scribbling some postcards to friends in
England, I went for a brisk walk, took a photograph or two, and
returned, just as the horses were being reharnessed.

Down again, ever down, past a great dark cavern, and on until we came to
the row of stone slabs set in the road that marks the frontier between
gallant little Montenegro and her enemy Austria. And then, what a view!
Surely the most superb in all Europe!

Our old familiar tourist-Switzerland, the toy-Tyrol, the Norwegian
fjords, the trumpery-Apennines, and the high Balkans are full of
magnificent scenery, but for a picturesque combination of blue sea and
sheer bare mountain nothing that I have ever seen—and I have knocked
about Europe, I believe, as much as most men—equals that view from the
Montenegrin road.

[Illustration: Bunaquelle: Bosnia.]

[Illustration: Jajace: Bosnia.]

All is beautiful—all save that frowning fortress which the Austrians
have lately constructed to command the road, and which it is strictly
forbidden to photograph under pain of imprisonment as a spy. I, however,
risked it, and took another picture, which turned out rather well.

In Cattaro, being the bearer of despatches for His Britannic Majesty’s
Foreign Office in London, and being therefore armed with a
_laisser-passer_, my baggage was not examined, and at one o’clock I
again boarded the same steamer which had brought me from Trieste, the
_Graf Wurmbrand_, bound for Gravosa—which is the port for Ragusa, in
Dalmatia.

Ragusa I found a quaint, mediæval place, reminding me strongly of one of
those old towns on the Italian Riviera—I mean those unfashionable ones,
at which the train stops and nobody gets out—ones that you only visit if
you are motoring from Monte Carlo along to Genoa. It is a town of
ponderous walls, of narrow streets, and queer dark byways. Across its
dry moat and through its ancient gateway carriages do not pass, and as
soon as you are in the main street you are out of it again, and passing
through a water-gate are upon a small quay.

Difficult it is to realise that this quiet, old-world town, where
everyone speaks Italian, was once the great port of the Balkan
hinterland in the days when Venice was Queen of the Seas. And yet to the
antiquary it is pleasant to stroll in and out of the old
sixteenth-century churches, the Rector’s Palace, and the rest, to
examine the mediæval Onofrio fountain, and to spend a day, as I did,
among the architectural relics of an age bygone and long forgotten.

While there it rained for the first time after the long dry season. And
if you have ever been in Italy—or anywhere, indeed—in the extreme south
of Europe on the first day of the rainy season, you will know what I
mean when I say it was not a mere shower. Water came down in sheets, and
for a whole day and a whole night it never ceased, while the lightning
flashed and the thunder crashed and echoed in the chain of mountains
behind the town.

Palms and oranges grow in profusion in Ragusa, while across on the
beautiful island of Lacroma—which legend connects with Richard Cœur
de Lion—is vegetation more luxuriant than even upon the French Riviera.
Prince Mirko of Montenegro, Colonel Constantinovitch, his father-in-law,
and a number of wealthy people, mostly Austrians, have fine winter
villas outside the town, and life there in spring is said to be quite
charming.

Many yachts call there during the season, and there is opera at frequent
intervals. Zara, Spalato, and Lussinpiccolo are all favourite winter
resorts of the Austrians and Hungarians, but none is so smart or so
select as Ragusa, which, by the way, has its hotel, the Imperial, where
the charges equal, if not quite eclipse, those of the best hotels at
Nice or Monte Carlo, while the cooking is inferior.

For the owner of a pretty villa overlooking the sea who desires to spend
a quiet, healthful winter, Ragusa may be pleasant, but I confess it
struck me as a particularly dull little town—a place so full of faded
glory as to be painful.

The journey from Gravosa across Dalmatia, Herzegovina, Bosnia, and
Hungary to Servia I found tedious, though mostly through fine wild
mountain scenery. I performed it partly by road and partly by rail,
making Mostar and Sarayevo—the Bosnian capital—my halting-places.

The rail, a narrow-gauge one with a single train a day, starts from
Gravosa at five o’clock in the morning and first ascends the Ombla
valley from the sea. Gradually it rises in a series of zigzags over the
grey bare rocks and through many tunnels for sixty miles to Gabela, a
little mountain town, and then through the dry beds of a series of great
lakes, and across barren plateaux until it descends into the valley of
the Narenta, which narrows into a series of dark, romantic defiles,
while the mountains grow higher and more wild, until Mostar, the capital
of Herzegovina, is reached.

Mostar is a rather dull little town on the Narenta, still half-Turkish,
with its mosques and bazaar where one can obtain inlaid silver work from
Livino. But there was certainly nothing to attract, so I pushed on next
day to Sarayevo. Between the two capitals the scenery is superb, indeed
some of the grandest in the whole of the Balkans. Through the Great
Defile, or Gorge of the Narenta, the train slowly wends its sinuous
course beneath the high precipices of Velez, and then through the Prenj
Mountains, across the Glogosnica valley to the small garrison town of
Jablanica, a lonely little place in a very wild district.

Twenty miles farther on we came to Konjica, a picturesque little place
with a fine old Turkish bridge spanning the Narenta, where the train
halts, affording us time to explore the place and take a photograph or
two. Then the ascent is so steep that the puffing little locomotive is
fitted with cog-wheels to take us through the Trescanica valley up over
the ridge of the wild Ivan Planina, the high watershed between the Black
Sea and the Adriatic.

Progress is slow and halts are frequent. In places there have been
landslips, and we creep along the edges of dangerous precipices. But the
scenery fully compensates for the many tedious hours and for lack of
food—for in our ignorance I had omitted to lay in stores, and the only
thing I could obtain during the day was half a dozen apples! The Bosnian
frontier crossed, the train traverses the saddle of Vilovac, then
descends rapidly through beautiful wooded valleys and along the Bosna
and Zeljeznica rivers, until, in the darkness, Sarayevo with its many
electric lamps is reached—a railway journey even more interesting than
the well-known Gothard route.

My fellow-passengers from Mostar were two. One was a Turkish gentleman
who removed his slippers and sat cross-legged on the seat fingering his
beads until the sundown, when he produced some sandwiches from the tail
of his frock-coat, and slowly consumed them after his long fast since
four o’clock that morning. The other was a particularly communicative
Austrian gentleman, whom I recognised at once to be a spy.

Sarayevo, the Bosnian capital, is very Eastern, and, being so, is full
of attraction for the stranger. There is a very fair old-fashioned
hotel, the Europa, in the centre of the town, nearly two miles from the
station. It is a city of mosques, the minarets of which were all gaily
illuminated on the night of my arrival, producing a picturesque effect
against the night-sky.

The place is prettily situated—a town of some forty thousand
inhabitants, half Serb, half Eastern. Lying in the narrow valley, whence
the river Milyacka bursts forth from a gorge just above the town, the
dwellers by the riverside are mostly Austrian immigrants, while the
natives have their houses and their mosques on the hillside. Every house
has its own little garden, as in Servia, and of course the bazaar is the
centre of trade, as in every town where the beslippered Turk still
remains.

This _charshiya_, or bazaar, is a great labyrinth of dark, narrow,
ill-paved alleys flanked with booths, where every trade, each with its
particular quarter, is carried on in open view to the passers-by. The
copper ware, silver filigree, and carpets are attractive, but most of
the so-called Oriental goods are “fakes.” The place, though there is a
variety of costume everywhere, is not half so attractive as Skodra,
because of the Austrian bogey that pervades everything.

To buy specimens of Bosnian chiselled metal work it is best to go to the
Government School of Industrial Art, where the finest pieces of
workmanship may be seen in course of execution, and where the price
asked is a fixed one, below that demanded either in the bazaar or in
shops. The services for Turkish coffee in chiselled copper-gilt are of
chaste and very elegant design, perfect marvels of patience in
chiselling, and very appreciable to the Western taste in decorative art.

The chief feature of the bazaar is the Husref Beg Mosque, the finest in
the town, to which, though an Infidel, I was granted admission. I of
course put on overshoes, and made an interesting tour round with a
priest who only spoke Turkish, so that I did not learn very much from
him. Built about 1540, it is a fine spacious structure, with dome and
high minarets, and in front, in the quiet old courtyard, is a fine old
fountain for ablutions shaded by a very ancient lime tree. Before it,
sit several Turkish pedlars in turbans selling rosaries, printed texts
from the Koran, imitation otto-of-rose manufactured from geranium,
European collar-studs, and other trifles.

Another industry peculiar to Bosnia is the inlay of gold and silver into
bog-oak, or gun-metal, and many quaint little objects—boxes, bracelets,
brooches, and belt-buckles—quite unique in England, may be purchased.
The old silver filigree buttons displayed everywhere may also be used
with advantage by ladies for hat-pins.

A stroll through the town shows at once the mixed character of the
people, for all the names of streets are written up in three
languages—Turkish, Croatian, and Serb. The noisy thoroughfares are
crowded with Europeans, mixed up with baggy-legged men and veiled women,
men in fezes in all stages of disintegration, while the Bosnian ladies
wear the queerest head-gear I have ever set eyes upon. The hair is
parted in the middle and brushed down straight, while upon it is stuck a
tiny pork-pie cap of gaudy-coloured chintz or silk, edged with a
thousand gilt sequins sewn closely together, the most ugly and most
unbecoming head-dress imaginable. Yet it is evidently the _mode_, and is
worn by European ladies in all other respects attired as one would find
them in Vienna or in Budapest.

But this is Bosnia, and assuredly strange things happen here under the
unjust rule of Austria.

Strangers seldom come to Sarayevo. In the heart of that mountainous
region between the Save and the Adriatic, only approached from the south
by that rack-and-pinion railway, or from the north by the one train a
day from that un-get-at-able station in Slavonia, Bosnche-Brod, it is
entirely shut away from European influence—or European eyes, for the
matter of that—and quite off the track taken by strangers in the
Balkans.

Indeed, I would never advise the intending traveller to take that route
from Ragusa to Belgrade. Better by far take the steamer right up the
Adriatic to Fiume, and thence by rail, as it is quicker, and much less
fatiguing. I did not go to Bosnia, however, so much to see its capital
as to obtain some idea of the present system of government there, and to
hear from the lips of the people themselves the advantages, or
disadvantages, of the rule of His Majesty the Emperor Francis Josef.

With many well-known men in Sarayevo I talked. I heard both sides.
But I am bound to admit that some of the facts proved to me were
utterly amazing, showing how ill and unjustly governed is both
Bosnia and Herzegovina. I had read André Barre’s recent book, _La
Bosnie-Herzegovina_, and had doubted the very serious and direct
charges which he brings against the Austrian Administration.

Therefore I went to see for myself, to make inquiry, and to thoroughly
investigate.

The opinion I formed, after analysing the many facts placed before me,
is that the present oppressed state of Bosnia is surely a vivid
object-lesson to Servia, where day by day Austria is endeavouring, by
the most ingenious and unscrupulous forms of intrigue, to obtain a
footing. This latter I will explain more fully in my chapters on the
future of Servia. Suffice it here to say that poor struggling Bosnia is
to-day helpless beneath the talons of the Austrian eagle, and that the
administration is a shameful travesty of civilised rule.

The Serb population are more essentially the sufferers, and have been so
ever since the Austrian occupation allowed by the Treaty of Berlin.
Through the four centuries of the Turkish rule, the Christians were from
time to time oppressed, and in return revolted, more particularly in
1850 and 1875; but the position of the Serbs to-day is very little
better, if any, than it was before the Russo-Turkish War.

Indeed, it seems that the whole policy of Austria in Bosnia has been
directed against the Servian Orthodox people. The Servian Mohammedans
are not feared because of their ignorance, while their fatalism renders
them docile. On the contrary, however, the local Government of Bosnia
fears those professing the Orthodox faith, and, having established the
Jesuits solidly in the country, have proceeded upon a course of
systematic persecution. Austrian methods are too apparent all over the
Balkans. Unscrupulous to a degree, her policy in Bosnia has been one of
terror, of espionage, of famine, and of assassination. In truth it is
accomplishing the moral and material ruin of a splendid country, the
crushing of the noble Servian race which has, alas! fallen beneath its
hand.

At first I was inclined to doubt. The Serb is a patriot, sometimes given
to exaggeration. But very quickly, as the result of my inquiries,
evidences of Austria’s evil rule were apparent on every hand. To go into
a mass of detail is not within the province of this record of inquiry,
neither do I wish to scream hysterical condemnations. I went to the
Balkans, not for sight-seeing, but seeking to penetrate some of the
mysteries of their politics, and their aims for the future. I travelled
there in order to have audiences with the Kings, Princes, and Cabinet
Ministers of the various countries in the Peninsula. These were granted
me, and thus I obtained, at first hand, their views regarding the
present situation, and their hopes and aspirations.

In Bosnia, both on the Mohammedan and Christian side, I found only a
grave and grim story of misrule and oppression, which it may be well to
briefly outline, in order to show how Austria rules the unfortunate
country that falls beneath her dominion.

Under Austria, the Servian Orthodox Church is treated in a manner
utterly inconceivable in this enlightened century. Neither trouble nor
intrigue has been spared to separate the people from the Church. The
metropolitans nominated by the Emperor have been alienated from the
people, with the result that at Mostar the head of the Church is the
object of unanimous derision. No one will attend his church if he is
present, and on passing him in the streets they turn their heads or
hiss. Again, in Sarayevo the metropolitan is regarded with equal
disfavour. The old people refuse to receive the communion at his hands,
and each day upon the walls of his house are posted insulting placards.
To those who know the veneration with which the Serbs regard their
metropolitans, such signs as these show the general demoralisation
brought about by intrigue and the circulation of base calumnies. Not
only are the people encouraged to treat the heads of the Church with
contempt, but they are taught to hate the priests and to scoff at
religion. And this by an Empire which has the miserable effrontery to
call itself Christian!

Again, Saint Sava is, as is well known, the patron saint of the Servian
Church. He is considered the protector of churches and schools, and all
new churches in Bosnia and Herzegovina adopt for their _slava_, or
festival, the day consecrated to Saint Sava, January 14 (O.S.). This day
the Orthodox Serbs everywhere regard as a feast. In the morning there is
a solemn service, and in the evening the young people assemble to sing
national songs and dance national dances. But even this has been
disapproved of by Austria, who regards the feast as preserving the
national conscience. The Government commenced by prohibiting the second
portion of the fête, and then gradually suppressing the first. Pressed
by the authorities, the priests each 14th of January are suddenly taken
so ill that they cannot perform the service, or else they are
unavoidably absent from home on that day, so that no _slava_ can take
place. In this oppressed country every programme of a fête, no matter
what, must first pass the censor, who prohibits the singing of the old
Servian songs, and places a penalty upon anyone singing the “Hymn of
Saint Sava,” which is purely a religious one. Again, in many cases the
reply of the censor will arrive eight or ten days after the date of the
festival. Indeed, in many places, the _slava_ of private families—the
domestic name-day feast which, to the Servian, surpasses in interest
either Christmas or Easter—has actually been prohibited by the very
enlightened local authorities! This happened in the arrondissement of
Rielinski quite recently.

Of the history of the struggle of the Orthodox Church in Bosnia, or of
the strenuous Catholic propaganda, it is unnecessary to speak. Let us
deal with the present deplorable state of affairs, and with the future.
Woe-betide any heard singing the patriotic song of the Prince of
Montenegro, “Onamo ... Onamo,” for he will be punished severely. Spies
are on every hand, and no man knows at any moment when he may be thrown
into prison upon some fictitious charge. Austria, indeed, is
endeavouring to civilise and subject Bosnia by continued oppression, and
nowhere is this more apparent than in the Press. Like in Russia, every
word is subjected to the censor before printed. One buys the
_Musavat_—the organ of the Serb Mohammedans in Herzegovina, printed at
Mostar—and finds every paragraph bearing a number. There are many
numbers with the spaces blank—suppressed altogether. Again, in the
_Servian Word_, the organ of the Servian Orthodox in Bosnia, one finds
the same thing—numbers and blanks.

This is not, perhaps, surprising when practically every organ of the
Press is prohibited save the Government publications, of which the
_Bosniak_—an amusing journal fabricated by amateur journalistic
functionaries of the State—is a good example.

Among the hundred and four journals prohibited are most of the Servian
newspapers, even commercial, religious, and literary reviews; a number
of Hungarian journals, including the _Dubrovnik_ of Ragusa; every
Russian journal of whatever kind or description; and last, but surely
not least, the _Comments upon the Evangelists_ by the Metropolitan
Firmilien!

Every book or newspaper entering Bosnia or Herzegovina goes through the
censor’s office, while the postal employés note, and hand to the police,
the names and addresses of the receivers of prohibited publications. So
it is not only in Russia and Turkey where one cannot read a foreign
journal, but here, under the enlightened rule of His Majesty the Emperor
Francis Josef.

Bosnia is, truth to tell, an unknown land as far as the rest of Europe
is concerned, and probably these facts may come as a complete surprise
to English readers, who are apt to regard Austria as a Christian and
progressive Power, instead of what she is, the Ogre of the Balkans.

To the injustices inflicted upon the peasantry, to their many grievances
and their violated rights, I have not space here to refer. Under such
rule as pertains, the wretched condition of the Serbs in the rural
districts may well be imagined. As André Barre has truly said, “Austria
entered Bosnia and Herzegovina, not for the purposes of reform, nor to
civilise, but to satisfy a political desire, a military ambition to
triumph over a people by slowly and methodically exterminating them.”

“J’ai mis le pied sur la tête du serpent,” said Count Andrassy, speaking
to Lord Salisbury after the signature of the Treaty of Berlin. And those
words give to-day the key to the Austrian policy. She seeks to crush the
Serbs, not only in Bosnia, but in the kingdom of Servia itself, and to
Germanise the whole land by steel and by hunger. And such is the present
pitiable situation—a situation unrealised in England—a situation which
has actually called forth the hostile criticism of the Vienna journals
themselves—including the semi-official _Neue Freie Presse_—against the
present barbarism of the occupation.

Any industry or commerce exploited by Serbs is at once crushed and
ruined, while in the police we have vivid examples of corrupt
maladministration only equalled in Russia. The police persecutions are
scandalous. Many were related to me by persons who had themselves been
victims. The Bosnian citizen beneath the claws of the police is utterly
without defence. If the paternal Government of Austria attempt to deny
this, let the recent cases of M. Gligorie Jeftanovitch of Sarayevo, M.
Chola of Mostar, M. Stiepo Srchkitch, M. Ilia Duckovitch, M. Risto
Maximovitch, M. Radoulovitch, M. Nikolas Pichkakutch of Banja-Louka, and
the sad affair of Pierre Dorliatcha of Bosnia-Novi, amid a thousand
others, be cited, to show what travesties of justice are performed in
this remote corner of the Balkans. A whole volume, indeed, could be
written upon the corrupt Austrian police methods which vie with those of
Holy Russia. But it must suffice here to cite cases upon which no denial
can be offered by the authorities.

The Austrian authorities, who are so glib with their semi-official
denials and statements, which we see almost daily in the London
newspapers, will have some difficulty in disproving the disgraceful
incident at Sokolatz, near Sarayevo, not long ago. Here, during the
Easter fête, the gendarmes were formed round the church “to maintain
order.” A peasant saw one of the gendarmes endeavouring to outrage a
young woman, and ran to inform the authorities. Whereupon the gendarme
shot the peasant dead with his revolver. There was no inquiry regarding
the murder, though witnessed by at least a hundred persons. And the
official account of the affair—which I have myself seen—actually
declares that the unfortunate peasant died _a natural death_!

This is but one single case of hundreds. All over the country the police
and gendarmes shoot the witnesses of their crimes, and there is never an
inquiry. Of a verity the barbarities of the police in Bosnia are a
disgrace to a nation that calls itself civilised, and cry for reform
quite as loudly as they do in the Land of the Tzar.

Let the reader who doubts this outspoken condemnation of Austrian
administration go to Bosnia and see for himself. He will find that I
have understated the facts, and things will be told him that surely will
stagger belief.



                               CHAPTER II
                       DUST IN THE EYES OF EUROPE

How spies work in Bosnia—Secret agents dog the stranger’s footsteps—My
    own experience—Fighting the spy with his own weapons—To “nobble” the
    foreigner—How an unfavourable book was purchased by the Austrian
    Government—Bribery of Press correspondents—A country worse than
    Russia—Some suggested reforms—The secret policy of Austria in the
    Balkans.


Spies are a necessity to autocratic Governments. Their business is to
prevent the execution of plots, to discover all secrets affecting the
security of the Prince or the State, and to supply information which may
be used with advantage in diplomacy by their employers.

In Bosnia one of the largest items in the national expenditure is the
sum expended upon espionage. Here, however, its character is very
different from that described above. Its agents have no work in
connection with political plots, for the crushed and humiliated people
are far too feeble to conspire against the State. Their nefarious work
is simply to spread intimidation and suspicion among the inhabitants,
and to put them in defiance one against the other—indeed, to promote
disorder, so that the force of Austria may be consolidated upon them.

This secret stirring up of internal strife by Austria is part of her
policy, not only in Bosnia but in Servia and other parts of the Balkans.
In the kingdom of Servia she is especially active to-day. Indeed, her
unscrupulous methods are well illustrated by what occurred on the
assassination of King Alexander and Queen Draga. Instantly after the
assassination Austria mobilised her troops in all the garrisons on the
Servian frontier, at Semlin, Pancsova, and Neusatz, with orders to enter
Servian territory on the first sign of trouble. At the same time there
was sent into Belgrade a perfect army of _agents provocateurs_—police
spies, all of them—who promenaded the town crying to the crowd, “Come
on! Come on! Let us wreck and demolish the Embassy of Austria, the
supporters of the dynasty of Obrenovitch!”

The Servian people, fortunately, hesitated, though they all had good
cause to make a demonstration against their bitterest enemies. Then the
Minister of the Interior intervened, and put military guards at all the
Legations. The agitators were arrested, and at their trial were proved
beyond doubt to be actual agents of Austria, sent there to create
disorder and so allow the Austrian troops to enter Servia!

And as such, with a strong protest to Vienna, they were ignominiously
expelled.

In Sarayevo one half of the population is paid to spy upon the other
half. Ask any man in Bosnia or in Herzegovina his opinion of his
neighbour, and he will tell you to beware of him, as “he is a spy, and
will denounce you to the authorities.” Ask the accused about his
accuser, and he will tell you exactly the same thing. The whole place
simply swarms with secret agents. In the country, peasants are given
cows in payment for information about their neighbours, which is, of
course, very often false. Stories are manufactured for the sake of
reward. Expense is nothing. Agents follow you everywhere—in the town, in
the country, and even beyond the frontier.

Oh yes! Bosnia, with all her natural beauties of scenery, is a truly
delightful place under the present régime. The Government have their
spies in private houses in the guise of domestics—for, by preference,
they employ women and priests. Every pavement in the towns carries a
spy, therefore silence here is certainly golden. The spy system is more
complete and elaborate than either in Russia or in France, and a good
deal more costly—all energies being devoted against the unfortunate
Serbs.

In such an oppressed and persecuted country it goes without saying that
the stranger is well looked after. From the moment I crossed the
frontier of Herzegovina, to the moment I left Slavonia at Zimony, I was
never lost sight of. Perhaps because I was known to be the bearer of
Government despatches, I was suspected of being a British agent in
disguise. My passport was never asked for until I desired to leave
Austrian territory and cross the Save to Belgrade, yet with the
marvellous secret system I was, while in Bosnia, a marked man. Each time
I strolled in the streets of Mostar or of Sarayevo, a spy dogged my
footsteps—sometimes a man, sometimes a woman—and my every movement was
carefully noted.

A gentleman, apparently staying in the hotel and speaking excellent
French, volunteered to be my guide about Sarayevo. He was a pleasant,
nonchalant fellow, and represented himself to be a commercial traveller.
I accepted his kind offices, well knowing him to be a spy, and was
rather amused at the idea of the authorities providing me gratuitously
with such an excellent cicerone. Wherever I went, so also did he. By all
kinds of clever ruses he endeavoured to discover the reason of my visit;
and I, in order to aggravate him, managed to elude his questions and so
increase his suspicions. In my travels in various out-of-the-world
corners of the Continent I have had a wide experience of spies and their
ways, therefore I set myself to puzzle my inquisitive friend by adopting
the self-same methods as he himself was adopting.

This continued for a couple of days, when he gave me up and disappeared.
After that I was watched by two agents, who kept me always under close
surveillance. I was more amused than annoyed, yet I confess I
entertained constant anxiety regarding the confidential despatches that
were in my possession, to be handed over to the King’s Messenger on his
way from Constantinople to London at the earliest moment.

The traveller can only reach Sarayevo from three points: from the north
from Bosnche-Brod or Banja-Louka, and from the south by Metkovitch. The
local authorities of these three places know each traveller who passes,
and to the stranger’s compartment there enters a pleasant person of
engaging manner, who becomes his fellow-traveller, whiles away the
tedious hours, explains the objects of interest along the route, and at
the same time discovers a good deal about the new-comer. The secret
agent will discourse upon the peace of the country, the prosperity of
the people, the impartiality of the administration, and the rapid
strides of progress being made on every hand. Meanwhile, news of the
stranger has been telegraphed to Sarayevo, and when the polite traveller
has parted from the stranger, the latter at once falls under a strict
surveillance, of which he never dreams.

Should you let drop the remark that you have come to Bosnia to study the
conditions of the country, then the attention paid to you will be
prodigious. Kind friends, overflowing with information, will be your
guides everywhere: they will conduct you to visit the authorities; they
will pay for your cabs, give you luncheons at restaurants, and accompany
you of an evening even to the door of your bedroom, until you will think
the country a veritable El Dorado. Strangers who come to study are, of
course, dangerous to the Administration, and therefore are carefully
watched, and treated with unsurpassing generosity. Spies surround him,
and the people, knowing those spies by sight, fear to approach him. In
some cases a peasant or a citizen has approached a stranger and told him
some plain truths—the truths I have learnt and written in these
pages—and for doing so has invariably been sent to prison. These lessons
have borne fruit, for nowadays nothing in the world will induce the
Bosnian peasant to talk to a stranger. He is far too afraid.

If any serious criticism of Bosnian administration is published abroad,
the authorities always seek to immediately purchase and suppress it, and
many are the sums yearly paid in blackmail to unscrupulous writers who,
knowing the truth, threaten to make exposure. I will give a case in
point. Not very long ago there was in Prague published a brochure
severely criticising the Bosnian policy, giving a description of the
maladministration, and pointing out the disastrous state of the
finances. A copy of this fell into the hands of M. Stakievitch, late
director of the administration of the Bosnian local Government, and at
that moment _en congé_. He at once apprised the local Government, who
immediately sent Dr. Berx to Prague, with orders to suppress the
publication of the book at all costs. The Government, after some brief
negotiations, paid the sum of 100,000 florins (200,000 fcs.) for the
destruction of the book and the silence of its author upon the state of
Bosnian finance!

Then on the return of Dr. Berx no fewer than forty functionaries were
arrested on charges of having given information to the author. Is not
this sufficiently significant? Every newspaper in Bosnia and Herzegovina
is well subsidised, and in return is compelled to chant the praises of
the administration of the local Government, while all correspondents of
foreign journals are equally the recipient of money from the State. In
Bosnia the foreign newspaper correspondent lives well and grows fat.

Thus does Austria throw dust in the eyes of Europe.

With religion persecuted, education at a standstill, and the Press
either gagged or suborned, Austria is slowly carrying out her policy of
crushing the Serbs. In Bosnia you have no right to pray, no right to
think; you must blindly obey and laud with flattery the very talons
outstretched to rend you. It is a land where justice is a farce, where
lies are told as truths, where the police persecute and murder, where
the poor are oppressed, where the official grows wealthy, and where no
man is secure from the false denunciation of spies eager for reward.

Should it be permitted in this twentieth century to one European people
to crush another European people under the false pretext of
civilisation? The Bosnians are neither negroes nor red-skins, but a
civilised religious race, part of the great Serb nation, with the same
right to live, the same right to religion, liberty, and to justice as
the canting hypocrites of Vienna themselves. Why should they be
exterminated?

So careful is the local Government of Bosnia not to allow the truth to
leak out that up to the present little has been heard in Europe of the
plain, unvarnished facts I have here put forward. But it is a subject
that will come before the public ere long, and then we shall see if the
Powers will still stand by and allow the destruction of a people who do
not merit the hatred of their master.

[Illustration: Sarayevo: Bosnia.]

[Illustration: In Herzegovina.]

Bosnia and Herzegovina are both rich countries; the soil is productive,
the inhabitants are intelligent and apt in agriculture, industry, and
commerce. The provinces are capable of moral and material expansion, if
such were permitted, and there is no reason why the whole country should
not be peaceable and prosperous.

Save André Barre, scarcely a writer has up to to-day had the courage to
frankly criticise the rule of His Imperial and Royal Majesty the Emperor
of Austria. So carefully are the facts concealed by the local
authorities—who adopt the self-same tactics of Russia before the
uprising—that strangers going to Bosnia see or hear practically nothing,
and what they do see is all rose-tinted. What I have written here is,
however, based upon my own observations, and upon what was told and
proved to me by responsible persons in Mostar and Sarayevo, men who,
living under the persecution of police and Government, risked their
liberty in speaking with me. I have therefore put the facts plainly, in
order that the English reading public may form their own conclusions.

The reforms urgently needed are many.

From the religious point of view, what is required is effective liberty
of conscience, liberty of the cult, and the autonomy of the Serb
Orthodox Church. From the moral point of view, the religions and customs
of the different nationalities in Bosnia should be respected, liberty of
education should be given as well as liberty of speech and liberty of
the Press.

Regarded from an economic point of view, an immediate solution of the
agrarian question is required; a readjustment of the unjust taxes; the
establishment of schools of agriculture, as in Servia and Bulgaria;
liberty of commerce and industry; and the establishment of poor-relief
and poor-houses.

Many reforms are also required in the Administration. The citizens of
the two countries should be eligible for employment in public offices;
the public functionaries should be replaced by a more educated class;
the police force should be purged and diminished; the costly spy system
should be entirely abolished; a less corrupt justice should be
introduced, and economy effected in the present wasted finances.

Yet how can one hope for reforms from a nation like Austria, who is
working daily and unscrupulously to crush and exterminate the
unfortunate Serbs under their rule, with one aim and one policy, namely,
to extend their territory south through Novi-Bazar and Macedonia in
order to obtain the port of Salonica?

Under the Treaty of Berlin the Powers have a right to interfere. If they
would check Austria’s advances southward they should step in at once and
claim, in the name of civilisation and humanity, justice for poor
persecuted Bosnia. If half a dozen African negroes are maltreated by a
Belgian rubber-hunter we throw up our hands in pious horror, lift our
eyes heavenward, the papers are flooded with “atrocities,” often
manufactured, and questions are asked in the House. Yet when we have
here a whole country being vigorously and secretly crushed under our
very noses, by a Power who intends to be one of our rivals in the East,
we turn our heads in the opposite direction. Austria, we say, is a
Christian country, and can do no wrong!

Go to the Balkans, and you will see what I have seen. You will then
realise the clever, subtle influence of Austrian agents in
Montenegro—where they persuade the pride of the country to emigrate,
themselves paying the expenses, and thus sap the nation of its future
population; in Northern Albania, where the priests in Austrian pay never
cease to descant upon the benefits of Austrian rule; in Servia, where
they are ever stirring strife; in Bulgaria, where their spies are ever
active; and in Macedonia, where they secretly encourage the Greek bands
to massacre the Bulgars.

Thus over the whole of the Balkans Austria has spread forth her wings,
and her dark, threatening shadow is now across everything. The Austrian
policy, shown so very plainly to all who travel in the Balkans, is to
compete with Germany and become the paramount Power in the Peninsula,
and obtain Montenegro, Albania, and Macedonia for herself, together with
the much-coveted port of Salonica. From this latter point she already
has a railway—constructed by the late Baron Hirsch—through Usküb, and
joining the main Vienna-Constantinople line at Nisch, in Servia.
Therefore part of the policy is to lay hold of the kingdom of
Servia—though under the present régime there, and with a Government so
firmly established as it is, there is, I think, very little to fear in
this latter. Fortunately, Servia knows how to take care of herself.

Such is the programme of Austria—one of extermination and extension. And
with these facts in view, indisputable to every traveller, surely it is
in the interests of the Powers to remain no longer indifferent to the
state of affairs in Bosnia.

Is it possible that the prophetic words of the Russian delegate
Gortchakoff, speaking at the Berlin Congress, will ever come true, as so
many of his prophecies have done?

He said, “The tomb of Austria is in the Balkans.”

                                 SERVIA



                               CHAPTER I
                         THE TRUTH ABOUT SERVIA

The diplomatic circle in Belgrade—Studying both sides of the Servian
    question—Austrian intrigue—113 known foreign spies in Belgrade!—An
    illustration of the work of secret agents—Quaint Servian
    customs—Pauperism unknown—Servia to-day and to-morrow.


The stranger’s first impression of Belgrade is that it is a rather dull
Russian town.

Coming from Bosnia and Albania, one misses the quaint costumes and the
life and movement in the streets, the fierce men with rifles, and the
veiled shuffling women. The Turk, though he has a mosque here, is
unseen.

At Semlin—or Zimony, as the Hungarians call it—the last town on the
Austrian side of the Save, one’s passport is carefully examined and
registered, not by the Servians, to allow you into the country, but by
the Austrians, to allow you to pass out!

As bearer of despatches for His Britannic Majesty’s Government, I had no
difficulty either with passport or luggage; otherwise, with the Customs
War raging, I might have suffered considerable delay. Crossing the
river, I ere long found myself in comfortable quarters in the Grand
Hotel in Belgrade—comfortable indeed after the rough life and hard fare
in Northern Albania.

My letters of introduction having been presented to the Servian Cabinet
Ministers and members of both political parties, and having called upon
Mr. Beethom Whitehead, the newly appointed British Minister, I quickly
found myself in the centre of a very smart and merry diplomatic circle.

To His Excellency M. Nicholas Pachitch,—the Premier and strongest man in
Servia; to Madame Pachitch; to His Excellency Dr. Milenko Vesnitch,
Minister of Justice; to Madame Vesnitch, an American and one of the most
charming and beautiful ladies in Belgrade; to M. Stoyanovitch, Minister
of Commerce; to Commandant Yossiphovitch, aide-de-camp to His Majesty;
to Colonel Tcholak-Antich, the Royal Marechal; to the Minister of
Finance; to M. Drago Yankovitch of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; to
Mr. Alexander Yovitchitch, late Servian Minister in London; to Colonel
Christich, his wife, an Irish lady, and Miss Annie Christich; to Mr. C.
L. Blakeney of the British Legation; and also to Mr. Beethom Whitehead,
the British Minister, and Mrs. Whitehead, I owe a deep debt of gratitude
for their kindness to me socially, and their invaluable assistance
during my inquiries.

There are but few English in Belgrade—not more than two or three
residents. But at the hotel I was fortunate in finding my friend Mr. A.
M. Tucker, Servian Consul-General in London, who with his wife was in
Belgrade in connection with a financial undertaking. Mr. Tucker is an
official who has rendered many services to the Servian Government.

Moving in the official set, I was soon able to see for myself the social
life in Belgrade, which I found very bright and very entertaining. In
the mornings the streets are filled with well-dressed ladies and gallant
officers, in perhaps the smartest uniforms in Europe. The hour of the
siesta is from one till three, then at five the cafés overflow till
seven. Someone is always giving a dinner or reception, and bridge is
played everywhere; for in no other city in Europe has it “caught on”
more than it has in Belgrade.

The British Legation is, of course, the smartest house among those of
the diplomatists, and that of Madame Vesnitch among the Cabinet
Ministers. French and Italian are the languages spoken in society.

[Illustration:

  24 Octob. 1900 Belgrad.    Nic. P. Pachitch
  Prime Minister of Servia.
]

The city of Belgrade is in a transition state. Already in many of the
principal streets fine new buildings have been completed, and many are
now in the course of construction. The roads, it must be said, are
execrably paved, so uneven that driving is a torture. But the reason
they have not been repaved during the present régime is because a new
drainage system is about to be carried out, and when this is done they
will be asphalted and converted into boulevards. The natural situation
of “Beograd”—or the White Fortress—is magnificent, high up on a hill at
the junction of the Save and the Danube. Behind rises the extinct
volcano of Avala, where, according to one tradition, a great treasure is
hidden, and to another that the mountain is rich in gold and silver
deposits.

The centre of life in Belgrade is the gay café of the Grand Hotel. From
five to seven in the afternoon everyone is there, card-playing, smoking,
sipping _slivovitza_ (plum gin) or drinking _bock_, and listening to the
excellent band, while the inner hall is filled with smart ladies and
their cavaliers. Save the peasantry one sees about the street, the oxen
drawing primitive carts, and now and then a man wearing a fez, there is
little that is Eastern in Belgrade, save the slightly dark complexion
and cast of features of the Servians. For the most part the women are
very handsome, but they seem, like most Eastern races, to lose their
beauty at an early age.

Though I made it my duty to hear and study both sides of political
questions in Belgrade, and though I spent many hours with those in
fierce opposition to the present régime, I must say that I received on
every hand the greatest kindness, while everybody seemed ever ready to
render me a service.

The Servians are a highly intelligent and thoughtful race. The young
officers in the streets are not of the ogling, giggling genus one knows
so well in Germany, France, and Italy, but though smarter in appearance
than either nation, they are serious, polite, and gentlemanly to a
degree. The King, when speaking to me of military matters, pointed out a
curious fact, namely, that so intelligent was the average Servian
recruit that in six months he usually learnt what in France took him
eighteen months.

In feminine circles it struck me that there was a great extravagance in
dress. I saw the very latest Paris hats and smart, well-cut gowns, which
bore evidence of the expensive _couturière_ worn by the wives of
struggling officials, and I learnt that about ten pounds was no uncommon
price for a hat. All classes seem to vie with each other to dress well,
and in the brilliant salons at night one sees some of the smartest gowns
in Europe.

As regards cooking, I fear I cannot say very much that is favourable.
That at the Grand is decidedly poor, save perhaps the dishes of
delicious sterlet; and of the various restaurants I tried, the only one
which reached excellence was that kept by an Italian, one Perolo, who
was for many years chef to King Milan. There one can dine well—if one
knows what to order. The younger diplomatists dine there in a room
together, entrance to which is forbidden, save to a few chosen ones.

The diplomatic circle do a good deal of entertaining. The British
Minister and his wife give large dinner-parties every Tuesday, which are
very delightful functions; while each Thursday afternoon Mrs.
Whitehead—who is a very charming hostess—is at home. The Foreign Office
have certainly been happy in their choice of Mr. Whitehead to fulfil the
very difficult and onerous task of renewing diplomatic relations, for he
is a skilled diplomatist, and has been for many years in St. Petersburg,
Brussels, Tokio, Constantinople, and Berlin, where he was, until
recently, Councillor of Embassy. He also speaks Russian.

The Legation is one of the most tasteful houses in Belgrade, and is
filled with highly interesting collections from Japan. The German
Minister, Prince Max Ratibor, with his wife and stepdaughter, the young
Princess Taxis, also give a good many smart entertainments.

The capital is, of course, a hotbed of political intrigue, and all
foreigners arriving are suspected of being secret agents. They are
watched, their correspondence often opened, and their business in
Belgrade thoroughly investigated and reported upon. At first the
stranger resents this kind of thing. On my arrival I found myself
constantly watched, but as soon as it was known who and what I was, the
surveillance ceased.

I mentioned the matter to one of the high police officials, whereupon he
explained that in Belgrade alone he held a list of no fewer than 113
known secret agents of Austria! “We therefore keep secret agents for our
own protection. Can you blame us?” he asked.

In the diplomatic circle one hears everywhere a cry of “shame” upon the
false news which, being supposed to emanate from reliable sources in
Belgrade, is really manufactured across the Save at Zimony by
irresponsible journalists in the pay of Austria. The Servian officials
actually gave me the names of some of these gentlemen.

In the English newspapers one reads constantly telegrams from Vienna,
generally to that very irresponsible and sensational journal the _Zeit_,
declaring that there are all sorts of plots in Servia against King
Peter. A short time ago this journal actually had the audacity to say
that the Crown Prince was insane! Such telegrams should be read with
entire disbelief, for they emanate from certain Hungarian journalists
who were expelled from Belgrade on account of the false news despatched
from there, and now live across the river at Zimony, whence they
continually launch their tirades against Servia and the Servians.

What I read from time to time in the English papers regarding Servia is
so utterly opposed to the truth—and in our most responsible journals,
too—that it often utterly amazes me.

There is a scheme on foot started by an English company to build a large
new hotel in Belgrade—which is badly wanted. The Grand is full to
overflowing all the year round, and strangers are nightly turned away.
It is, I believe, intended to build the hotel on English lines, with a
few private sitting-rooms where the traveller can be quiet and rest in
peace away from the turmoil and clatter inseparable from a huge garish
café.

The streets are usually broad, straight, and if not actually handsome
thoroughfares, are well adapted for improvement and the erection of
larger buildings. Most of the suburban houses are of a ground floor
only, which strike the Englishman as curious; for as the windows are on
a level with the street, there is an utter lack of privacy in family
life. Servians of both sexes, I noticed, are great cigarette-smokers,
and Servian cigarettes I found were the best in the Balkans.

The pleasantest promenade is the Kalemegdan, the pretty gardens situated
behind the old fortress which commands the junction of the Danube and
the Save, while on the bank rises the Neboyscha (the fearless) tower, of
which many terrible tales are told of the days of the Turks. In the
Kalemegdan, adorned with bronze busts of Servian poets and savants,
smart Belgrade promenades every afternoon and admires the beautiful view
from the Fikir-Bair (“the slope of dreaming”), the smart uniforms of the
officers lending the necessary touch of colour to complete a charming
scene.

The religion is, of course, Greek Orthodox, with the independent Servian
Church, while the population of Servia is about three millions. Some of
the characteristic traits of the Servians are curious and interesting.
Every Servian family has, each year, its saint’s day, and in every
Servian drawing-room one finds a small wood panel with the image of that
saint painted thereon. The day usually falls upon that of some great
fête such as that of St. Nicholas, the Archangel Michael, etc., which
are perhaps the two most fêted. The day in question is called the
_Slava_ (fête of the patron saint of the family). The saint fêted by the
head of the family is also fêted by his wife, children, and servants.

Some days before the fête the priest visits the house for the
benediction of water placed in a basin, after which he sprinkles with a
bunch of basil all members of the family, as well as various rooms, and
the image of the fêted saint.

All the household regard the week prior to the fête as a fast. The eve
of the day of the _Slava_ the lamp is lit before the image of the saint,
and is burnt for two days. A couple of days before the anniversary a
tasty dish is prepared, called the _Koljivo_, mainly composed of wheat,
nuts, and almonds. Those families, however, who fête the Archangel
Michael do not prepare this cake, for the people believe that the
Archangel still lives, and cakes are only offerings to the dead.

[Illustration:

  HIS EXCELLENCY DR. MILENKO VESNITCH,
  Servian Minister of Justice.
]

On the morning of the fête the head of the family lights a taper, and
the priest, after a ceremony, cuts a kind of bread specially prepared
and bearing a cross; after which he sprinkles wine upon it and upon the
_Koljivo_.

Everybody, from early morning, salutes the head of the family with the
words, “Sretna slava” (a happy fête), and grasps his hand. If the
visitor is a man, he embraces the husband; if a woman, the wife. The
daughter of the house offers the _Koljivo_ to the guests, and everyone
takes a spoonful of _slatko_—a kind of fruit preserve—brandy and coffee.
At noon, wine is also drunk. To the houses of the better class telegrams
and letters arrive all day. In the country districts the day is given up
to eating, drinking, singing, and toasts.

The fêted saint is considered to be the protector of the family, to whom
daily prayers are said and mediation asked with the Almighty.

Next to the _Slava_, the fête most widely celebrated is Christmas. There
is a Servian couplet that runs—

        “_As there’s no day without light,
        So there’s no rejoicing without the Servian Christmas._”

After a long fast, the Servian people await Christmas impatiently. It is
a day of feasting in the whole country. Two days before Christmas
Day—old style, of course—roasts are prepared, consisting of a lamb and a
sucking-pig. On the morning of Christmas Eve one of the boys of the
family goes into the forest and cuts the Christmas log or _Badgnak_—a
usage which was recognised in the old days in France. Choosing a young
tree, he recites a prayer and cuts it down, while another lad is careful
that the first branch cut does not fall to the ground. He clutches hold
of it, and it is placed in the milk, so that good cream shall be
produced, or upon the beehive, that the bees may bring good honey. The
bringing home of the Christmas log is attended by many quaint
ceremonies.

That evening, while the family is at supper—which mostly consists of
fruits—the head of the house takes three nuts in his right hand, and
throwing them towards the east exclaims, “In the name of the Father”;
then three others, which he throws to the west saying, “and of the Son”;
and then three others he throws to the north, adding, “and of the Holy
Ghost.” Then with three others he makes the sign of the cross, and
throwing them to the south, exclaims “Amen.”

With the dawn of Christmas Day visits commence, the first person
generally to arrive being a young man neighbour, known as the
_polaznik_. He embraces the master of the house, makes the sign of the
cross upon the Yule-log, and wishes good luck to the household. In the
Christmas cake is placed a piece of money, and the person to whom it
falls will have good fortune all the year.

The Easter feast comes third with the Servians, and is a great occasion
for egg-breaking, one egg being broken against the other. Each visitor
receives an egg, and the fête lasts three days. The gipsies, of whom
there are very many in the Balkans, go from house to house at Easter,
singing and wishing good fortune to the householders, receiving, of
course, money in return for their good wishes.

There is also an extraordinary institution among the Servians called the
_pobratime_. It often occurs that two persons of the same sex love one
another very dearly, and regret that they are not allied by
relationship. In such a case they go through a solemn ceremony, and
become _pobratimes_, or brothers by election. It is the same with both
sexes. In many cases religion or nationality does not count, for there
are numbers of cases where a Serb has chosen for _pobratime_ a Turk or
an Albanian. In some cases the ceremony is a grave and solemn one before
a priest. Sometimes, indeed, the two persons make a slight cut in each
other’s hands, and suck each other’s blood, so becoming blood relations.
This custom is, strangely enough, very prevalent among the more savage
of the African tribes. The _pobratimes_ remain faithful and devoted one
to the other until death.

[Illustration:

  HIS EXCELLENCY COSTA STOYANOVITCH,
  Servian Minister of Commerce.
]

Belgrade resembles no other European capital for several reasons. There
are no poor quarters of squalor and misery, and pauperism is unknown.
During the whole time I was in the capital not a single person solicited
alms. During the last thirty years land in the vicinity of the city has
quadrupled in value. Each house is generally occupied by one family, and
almost every house has a pretty garden or courtyard. For many years
there has been constant rebuilding, and nowadays houses are usually
built of brick in preference to stone—although there is a Brick Trust in
the country. A good granite is also employed, and the new buildings are
mostly ornate and handsome.

Modern Belgrade is well planned. The Rue Terasia and the Rue Prince
Michel run on the highest part of the plateau and form the main artery
of traffic, while from these two streets diverge other thoroughfares, on
the one side leading to the Danube, and on the other to the Save.

Viewed from the Danube, the panorama of Belgrade is a fine and imposing
one. A commodious quay is badly required for the ever-increasing river
traffic, but plans have already been prepared, and shortly the work will
be put in hand. High above the river runs the pleasant promenade in the
Kalemegdan Gardens, leading to the old fortress with its time-mellowed
red brick bastions, now turned into a prison. The position of the city
is certainly well adapted to expand into a really fine, handsome
capital, as it must become in the near future. It is the centre of
intellectual life of Servia. The Library and Museum testify to the
literary tastes of the Servians. The Museum is very rich in antiques,
and contains a highly interesting numismatic collection. Both science
and art are well cultivated in the Servian capital, which is also the
headquarters of the Metropolitan Archbishop, the courts of Cassation and
of Appeal, the État Major, the Military School, the Faculties, and the
Ecclesiastical School.

The capital of Servia therefore occupies a most favourable position, and
is designed to become a very important centre of commerce. Its situation
being at the junction of the Save and the Danube, at the head of the
railway which unites the European capitals with the Black Sea ports, as
well as with Salonica and Constantinople, it cannot fail to be the gate
of the whole commerce of the Orient. It is, indeed, the Gateway of the
East.

Nisch, in the south, is the town second in importance. In 1874 it
contained only 12,000 population, while to-day it has more than 30,000
inhabitants. Standing as it does at the junction of the Oriental with
the European railways, all the merchandise to or from Turkey passes
through it: either by way of Sofia, or by Usküb and Macedonia. The old
Turkish quarter has been recently destroyed, wide streets built, and the
town thoroughly modernised and brought up to date, while there are
several comfortable hotels. The country around Nisch is noted for its
excellent light wines, which, having tasted, I can recommend. In Nisch,
as in many other parts of Servia, there are many openings for the
profitable employment of British capital.

The Servian Government is anxious to promote commerce and industry
throughout the kingdom. It is ready to give facility and encouragement
to foreigners—and especially the English—to exploit the wealth that
undoubtedly abounds, and it will treat them honestly, justly, and well.

Country life presents many interesting features. The Servian is much
more industrious than the Roumanian or the Bulgar, and consequently is
much more the master of his own household. The house of the Servian
peasant is generally constructed of brick, situate in the valleys and
ravines, and is usually of one storey only. There are generally three or
four rooms, the larger one being used as a common sitting and dining
room. The furniture of the common room is very simple—a table, chairs,
and settle and wardrobe; while upon the whitewashed walls are coloured
religious prints. The other rooms are covered with bright-coloured
Servian carpets, and in some villages of the Machva and the valley of
the Morava—where the peasants appear to live in greater comfort—I found
Viennese bent-wood furniture. In the poorer districts the house often
consists of one room only, and is often constructed by the peasant
himself. Each house has its little garden, cultivated by the women or
the old folk, where vegetables are grown, more especially cabbages, of
which there is a great consumption in various forms, often preserved as
a kind of _choucroute_. Fresh-water fish is also a staple article of
diet, while caviare too is plentiful.

In my journey through Servia I was struck by the prosperity of the
peasant and his high intelligence everywhere. The country, especially in
the more mountainous districts, is most picturesque, and the quaint
costumes of both sexes are highly interesting. Time was when there were
many brigands in the more remote districts. An officer of my
acquaintance who has explored practically every corner of Servia told me
an amusing episode that quite lately occurred to him. He was riding one
day in the mountains in a far remote part of Servia, many miles from a
town, when he overtook a rather evil-looking man, who scowled at him. He
passed the time of day and inquired the road to his destination. Then he
added, “I’ve heard there are brigands round about here. Is it true?”

“Brigands!” exclaimed the man. “Well, we used to be brigands. But
nowadays the law is so strict that I and my comrades have given it up!”

The costume of the Servian peasant-women is quaint and of interest. It
consists of an ample skirt of wool or silk and a corset on which, over
the chest, is placed a piece of white gauze crossed. Over this is a kind
of bolero of tanned skin with the fur inside, cut lower than the waist
at the back, and open in front. Upon it are often gold or silver
embroideries. Upon the head is worn a small scarlet fez, around which
the plaited hair is coiled. The fez is often embroidered with seed
pearls, which descend from generation to generation and are often worth
twenty to thirty pounds. Then, lastly, there is the apron, which is part
of the national costume, and is of wool, hand-embroidered in gay
colours, many of them being of quaint and original design.

In the towns both men and women now adopt European costume. In the
country every peasant possesses a gun, and shooting as they do from
childhood, they are mostly very fine shots. They love the chase, and
shoot everything they can, for the country is full of all kinds of birds
and animals.

There is a good deal of superstition among the peasants, who are an
imaginative people, who believe in vampires, evil spirits, and witches,
and have many extraordinary legends and sayings concerning them.



                               CHAPTER II
                       AN AUDIENCE OF KING PETER

At the New Konak—I sign His Majesty’s birthday-book—The
    audience-chamber—King Peter greets me, and we chat over
    cigarettes—My private audience—His Majesty and English
    capitalists—Great openings for British enterprise—The King gives me
    some instances of paying concerns, and tells me many interesting
    facts—His Majesty invites me to return.


As I drove into the wide gates of the New Konak one evening in November
to have private audience of His Majesty King Peter of Servia, sentries
saluted, idling detectives bowed, and the lines of blue-and-gold
servants drawn up in the entrance all bent low with one accord. The
royal palace is, indeed, well guarded.

In the large inner hall was a wide horseshoe staircase, which I
ascended. On every hand was a regal splendour, all in excellent taste
and all very new, for the palace built by King Milan has been renovated
since 1903, when the former royal residence of such tragic memory was
pulled down. Its site is now a pretty lawn.

At the head of the stairs the Royal Marechal, Colonel Tcholak-Antich, a
young man in bright blue uniform and many decorations, met me. With the
usual etiquette he told me his name, I told him mine, and we shook
hands. Then he said, “His Majesty is anxious that you should sign his
birthday book,” and he led me to the big council-chamber, where at the
head of the table he opened a beautiful book, which I signed upon the
proper page.

[Illustration: The Royal Palace, Belgrade: The Ballroom.]

I was at once conducted to the audience-chamber, the double doors of
which—to prevent eavesdroppers—were closed behind me, and I was left
alone to await His Majesty. The room, of fine dimensions, seemed, under
the myriad electric lamps, ablaze with gold. The beautiful gilt
furniture showed well against the carpet of crushed-strawberry, the
damask of the upholstery matching the carpet and being brocaded with
gold. Several fine modern paintings were upon the walls, and in the
centre of the magnificent apartment a large settee and several fine gilt
chairs set against a big gilt Renaissance table.

Scarce had I time to glance at my surroundings when the long white
folding-doors at the end of the room opened, and there entered a slim,
alert figure in a dark blue military uniform—a keen, dark-eyed,
grey-moustached man with a pleasant smile and hand outstretched—His
Majesty.

I made my obeisance, and took the proffered hand. “Come,” said the King
kindly in French, seating himself at the table, and motioning me to a
chair opposite him. “Well,” he commenced, “you know I have lived in
London, and I have heard of you, Monsieur N——,” and he went on to say
some highly gratifying words concerning myself; then producing a big
silver box of most excellent Servian cigarettes, gave me one, held the
match for me, and also smoked himself. He was, I noticed, quick, smart,
and shrewd, with both figure and bearing that greatly reminded me of
Lord Roberts, his general’s dark undress uniform being relieved by one
touch of colour, the crimson-and-white ribbon and white enamelled star
of Karageorge.

Then, when we were comfortably settled, I explained to him my reasons
for visiting the Balkans.

“You are very welcome here in Servia,” His Majesty said. “You have been
kind enough to say generous things about our country. All we ask of you
is not to flatter us—only inquire the truth for yourself. We Servians
have our faults—all nations have. But it must be remembered that we are
a young nation—like France was after the war of 1870. The Press of
Europe have not been altogether fair to us, for very many false
statements have been published regarding our people, and myself
personally. But how could they be contradicted? We only wish the organs
of the British Press would tell the truth regarding Servia. We have
enemies—who has not? But our policy is one of peace, and our earnest
endeavour is to develop the great resources of our country. Servia is,
as you know, one of the richest mineral countries in Europe.”

“I presume your Majesty’s Government will grant concessions for the
working of mines, or for other industrial enterprises?”

“Most readily. But only to responsible persons, who can show their
earnestness and that capital is at their command. Of late we have had
many concession-hunters here from various parts of Europe, but the
majority have gone empty away because they were discovered to be mere
speculators. No. Our urgent desire is that your British capitalists
should come here and study matters for themselves.”

“I believe some mines are already being worked by foreign capital?” I
remarked.

“Certainly—and very wealthy they are too. Take the Bor copper mine, for
instance. I visited it myself this year. The 500-franc shares are now at
3000 francs, and the output will shortly be enormous. They have recently
discovered in the workings traces that the ancient Romans had been
there. It will, so experts say, be found to be one of the richest copper
mines in Europe. Besides copper we have iron, coal, antimony, and even
gold—all of which might, with great advantage, be exploited by English
companies. We invite the English in preference, because I know that
English commercial undertakings are, for the most part, solid and sound.
You English always think well before you commence, and when you do
commence you go straight on to success. Therefore any industrial
enterprise, or any railways—which we want badly—that you may suggest to
us on behalf of British capitalists shall have our most earnest
consideration. That the country is in a settled state and is prospering
is, I think, shown by our finances. Before 1903 there was constantly a
deficit on the Budget. In 1903 we had over one million francs in excess
of the estimates, in 1904 we had five millions, and in 1905 a little
over four millions. Our engagements are regularly paid, and we have no
floating debt.”

[Illustration: Royal Palace: Belgrade.]

[Illustration: Principal Boulevard of Belgrade.]

“And the future?”

“Ah! you want me to talk politics,” he laughed, raising his hand with
the fine diamond upon it. “No. I make a rule never to do so. One of our
chief faults in Servia is that we gossip too much upon politics. You
have noticed that, I daresay, in the cafés, in the Legations, and
elsewhere—eh? All we Servians are the same—in Montenegro, in Bosnia, and
elsewhere. It is always so with a young nation. The future of Servia
will, I fervently hope, be one of peace and prosperity. It shall be my
most earnest endeavour to secure this for my people, so that Servia may
prove to Europe that she does not now merit the hard things said of her
in the past.”

His Majesty, after we had chatted about Florence, a city which I found
he knew quite well, then told me a very interesting fact. “We have here,
in Servia,” he said, “a most wonderful cure for rheumatism—the Ribarska
Banya. I only tell you what happened personally to me. During the
Russo-Turkish War I contracted acute rheumatism, and have been a martyr
to it ever since. I visited every watering-place in Europe, but none of
the so-called “cures” did me any good. Two years ago, with some
reluctance, I went to Ribarska and took the cure, and from that moment I
have never since been troubled. It was miraculous! With my own eyes I
saw a poor woman wheeled there entirely crippled, and twenty days later
I saw her commencing to walk. I would not have believed it had I not
seen it with my own eyes.”

For an hour and a half we chatted upon many things—of London, of Paris,
of Rome, of Vienna—for His Majesty is essentially an up-to-date man of
the world, as well as a monarch. Sincere and yet humorous, kindly and
yet with a hauteur that well befits his military bearing, he struck me
as a man well adapted to rule the Servian nation—a man who is thoroughly
in earnest, and is doing his level best for the future of his nation.
“We want no external troubles,” he declared to me. “We want to be
allowed to progress.”

And when I took my leave His Majesty grasped my hand warmly, saying, “I
hope, M’sieur N——, you will return to Servia often, and remember that
whenever you are in Belgrade I shall always be happy to give you
audience and have another chat with you. _Bon soir._”

I bowed. The long white doors opened noiselessly by an unseen hand, and
His Majesty was gone.

Next day an aide-de-camp brought me the autographed portrait which
appears in these pages, together with a very kindly message from His
Majesty.

Not only did I endeavour to learn the truth at the royal palace, but I
went among the people in various towns in Servia, making inquiries, and
I found on every hand that Servia was pleased and satisfied with her new
ruler.

King Peter was born on July 11, 1844, at Belgrade. A son of the reigning
Prince Alexander Karageorgevitch. Educated at Belgrade and Geneva, he
went to St. Cyr in France, and afterwards, during the war of 1870,
volunteered in the French army. In 1883 he married the Princess Zorka,
eldest daughter of Prince Nicholas of Montenegro, with whom he led a
very happy family life until her unfortunate death in 1890. For about
ten years he lived in Montenegro, but after his wife’s death he went to
Geneva for the education of his children. In Montenegro there is still
great admiration for him among the people, who have always regarded him
as one of the Serb princes.

There were four children, of whom three are still living, namely, the
Crown Prince George, now aged 20; Princess Helene, aged 19; and Prince
Alexander, aged 18. The Crown Prince after his studies in Geneva was
admitted by order of the Tzar into the Noble Guard at St. Petersburg,
and on the accession of his father left Russia to complete his studies
in Servia. At the present time he is engaged in university studies,
combined with his military ones. I had an opportunity of meeting him,
and found him a very smart and intelligent young fellow. Legally he is
now of age, and lately he represented his father at a great national
festivity, and acquitted himself with complete success. He is greatly
interested in all military questions, and is himself one of the best
riders in the country.

[Illustration: HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS PRINCE GEORGE OF SERVIA.]

In his domestic circle the King is a model father, and his actions and
views are designed to promote in every way a good family life among his
people. He leaves politics to his Ministers, who are all of them highly
responsible men, but greatly interests himself in sanitation,
improvements in agriculture, the securing of a better standard of
morality, and in all questions of religion—in fact, his chief aim is the
advancement and well-being of his people, which, he is confident, cannot
be attained without a strong religious belief.

Only a short time ago he was making a tour in the country when to him
came the priests and authorities complaining that the people did not go
to church. His Majesty’s reply to the priests was: “If the people do not
come to you, you should go to them.”

From my own personal observation of His Majesty, I found him to be
exceedingly active, both physically and mentally. Though sixty-two years
of age, he may be seen every morning at five o’clock out riding in the
environs of Belgrade, making inspections of military camps and often
gossiping with and giving counsel to the lowliest peasants. Many are the
amusing stories told of these encounters, for often the peasants are
unaware that it is their sovereign. On one occasion, quite lately, he
was speaking with a peasant who complained to him of misbehaviour of a
subordinate functionary, and said, “The King ought to know it!”
whereupon His Majesty replied, “Yes, I think so. I will certainly tell
him.”

His Majesty told me himself that he does not believe in the old idea
that “the King can do no wrong,” or that monarchs are only “_par la
grâce de Dieu_.” He is of opinion that they should do everything to
fulfil the second part of the formula, “by the will of the people,” and
do their utmost for the people over whom they rule.

Without prejudice, and without bias, I have no hesitation in saying that
Servia to-day is under a most beneficent régime, and it is hoped that
her ruler, a splendid type of man and an up-to-date monarch, may be
spared many years to realise the high aspirations which he has for the
country that gave him birth.



                              CHAPTER III
                     SERVIA’S AIMS AND ASPIRATIONS

Audiences of M. Pachitch, the Premier and “strong man” of Servia, and of
    M. Stoyanovitch, Minister of Commerce—My friend, Dr. Milenko
    Vesnitch, Minister of Justice—The Servian case as I found it—Austria
    Servia’s arch-enemy—Dr. Vesnitch an up-to-date politician—Undeniable
    prosperity of the country under King Peter’s rule.


He who attempts to study Servian politics will find himself engulfed in
a perfect vortex of mystery and intrigue.

Politics occupy everyone’s thought in Belgrade. The Pachitch Party is on
everyone’s tongue. Be it at the luncheon table of the restaurant, over
the card-table at the Grand Café at six o’clock, in the salons of the
Ministers’ wives, or at the smart diplomatic receptions, the gossip is
always of politics. Hence it is that the secret agent is everywhere, and
one hears complaints on every hand of telegrams being noted and letters
tampered with.

Having regard to recent events and the presence of a horde of Austrian
spies, this is not, perhaps, surprising. Though Servia is undoubtedly
prospering and contented under King Peter and the present Ministry, yet
there is, of course, in politics an opposition—though not a formidable
one.

During my stay in Belgrade, besides being graciously granted private
audience by His Majesty King Peter, I had many opportunities of
discussing Servian politics with the Premier, M. Nicholas Pachitch; Dr.
Milenko Vesnitch, Minister of Justice; M. Stoyanovitch, the Minister of
Commerce; M. Patchu, Minister of Finance; M. Andrea Nikolitch, Minister
of Public Instruction; M. Yovan Gyaya, who has formed the new Radical
Party; and many other leading men of both sides. I very carefully
investigated each question, in order to present to the British public,
for the first time, the actual truth of the present state of affairs in
Servia.

Quite recently the British Government resumed diplomatic relations with
the Servian Court, therefore it is fitting that a fair and unbiassed
statement should now be put forward, in order to show Servia as she
really is, her aims, her aspirations, and her future policy in the
Balkans.

I confess that I found considerable difficulty in forming my
conclusions. The policy, however, which the present strong and
level-headed Government are pursuing is a policy which, having carefully
heard both sides, I have no hesitation whatever in endorsing as the very
best for the peace and future of the nation. It is strong, without being
belligerent, even though Austria has never ceased to annoy, irritate,
and intrigue.

Balkan questions are both difficult and intricate, but I will endeavour
to describe the true state of affairs as plainly and briefly as
possible. This work, though not intended to be a political treatise,
would be incomplete without some explanation of the mysteries of the
politics of the various Balkan countries I visited. Therefore, at risk
of being perhaps a little too outspoken, I will state the Servian case
just as I found it.

One of the burning questions in Servia at the present time is the
Customs War with Austria. The latter Power has endeavoured to ruin
Servia, but has fortunately not succeeded, even though her emissaries
are everywhere, and many newspaper correspondents are undoubtedly in her
pay. For this latter reason Servia has, for many years past, been
presented to Europe in a false light and columns of untruths telegraphed
from Zimony, or Semlin, the Hungarian town on the opposite bank of the
Save.

Briefly, the truth is as follows:—

Austria—and with her Germany—is slowly but surely marching to the East.
One sees and hears evidence of it everywhere in the Balkans. The
extended talons of the Austrian eagle are as apparent—and perhaps more
so in Servia than in Montenegro. Servia bars Austria’s way southward to
that much-coveted port, Salonica. It is therefore not to Austria’s
interest that Servia should be at peace. Unfortunately for Servia, the
Occidental people view the Eastern questions through the spectacles of
the Vienna Press, which is—for the most part—inspired by the Austrian
Government.

Austria is at the bottom of the whole of the Servian difficulties. As
long as things went badly in Servia—as under the régime of the late King
Alexander—they allowed matters to go on without interference, and
watched eagerly for the downfall of the kingdom. Unfortunate events
occurred, as is well known, but to the great dismay of Servia’s
arch-enemy, the country has become contented and is greatly prospering
under the rule of King Peter. For this reason, therefore, because a
prosperous era has set in, Austria has once again sought to stir discord
and to create troubles and difficulties. At the moment of writing the
secret police have a long list of over one hundred Austrian political
agents living in Belgrade alone!

How Austria seeks to compromise Servia in the eyes of Europe, and the
scandalous methods by which she is seeking to attain that end, is well
illustrated by a telegram which was supposed to emanate from Odessa, but
which I have indisputable evidence came from the same source as all the
others—an unscrupulous correspondent in Vienna in the secret pay of the
Austrian Government.

[Illustration:

  MR. ALEX. TUCKER,
  Servian Consul-General in London.
]

[Illustration:

  MR. BEETHOM WHITEHEAD,
  British Minister at Belgrade.
]

The amazing telegram in question appeared in the London newspapers on
January 2 this year, and was as follows:—

  “The local agency of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which
  for the last twenty years has been specially retained in Odessa as a
  convenient medium of secret intelligence respecting the Balkan States,
  is in possession of indisputable proofs of the existence,
  notwithstanding all recent and official denials from Belgrade, of a
  widely ramified and elaborately matured plot for the execution of a
  sudden _coup d’état_ and the expulsion of the Karageorgevitch dynasty
  from Servia. Leading members, civil and military, of both the chief
  political parties are stated to have joined the conspiracy.

  “According to this information, the intended first result of the _coup
  d’état_, if it be not marred, will be the establishment of a
  provisional regency in the administrative hands of six or eight
  Ministers. The regents would then take time to prepare a comprehensive
  explanatory statement of the situation for presentation to the Great
  Powers, which they would also consult as to the choice of an alien
  prince for the royal throne of Servia. They will urge upon the
  friendly consideration of the Powers the fact that the two peasant
  dynasties of Obrenovitch and Karageorgevitch have been fairly tried
  and justly found impossible and incompatible with the economical
  welfare and progressive culture necessary to the worthy attainment of
  Servia’s proper political destiny.”

In reply to this, the Servian Government nailed the lies upon Austria by
the following official statement, issued on January 3 from the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs at Belgrade:—

  “All sorts of misleading fabrications have lately been issued to the
  world by the Austrian Press for the purpose of compromising the
  political situation in Servia, the latest report being that of an
  alleged plot to exile the Karageorgevitch dynasty. Gradually and
  systematically the Viennese newspapers have been communicating to the
  foreign Press alarming news, injurious to Servia’s good name, and
  certain quarters in Vienna consider it necessary to reserve the
  fabrication regarding the exile of the Karageorgevitch dynasty as the
  final stroke on the eve of the conclusion of the Servian loan. The
  Austrian Press has even gone so far as to make use of prevarications
  in order to succeed in giving credence to its report regarding the
  exile of the royal dynasty, alleging they had obtained news from the
  Russian Agency created at Odessa by the Russian Minister of Foreign
  Affairs for special political service in the Balkans. According to our
  information, _such an agency does not even exist_.”

Again, an ingenious gentleman representing the Vienna _Zeit_, who lives
opposite Belgrade, at Semlin, in Hungary, and fears to cross into
Servia, sent the other day, not only to the _Zeit_ but to the _Daily
Mail_, an extraordinary telegram declaring the Servian Crown Prince to
be slightly demented, and casting all sorts of insinuations as to what
was happening in the palace.

I chanced to be in Belgrade at the time, and showed the Crown Prince the
ridiculous concoction, and we both laughed over it.

“Bah!” he said, “it is really too silly to require contradiction.”

The true fact is that the young Crown Prince, who gave me the signed
portrait that appears in these pages, is a particularly smart young man,
and not only do his tutors, but also the Cabinet Ministers of Servia,
speak in the highest terms of his tact and intelligence.

But to Austria no method is too mean or too unscrupulous by which to
circulate false news to the detriment of Servia. Ask any Servian, and he
will tell you of Austria’s machinations in every quarter.

Quite recently a Servian author wrote some libellous and untrue articles
regarding the present dynasty, and was consequently arrested and
condemned to imprisonment. Whereupon the Austrian Minister in Belgrade,
without asking permission of the Minister of Justice, went to the prison
and prevailed upon the Governor to be allowed to see the prisoner
privately. Such action surely speaks louder than words!

The Austrian attitude was well exhibited on the occasion of the
accession of King Peter. His Majesty received two telegrams. The first
was from the Tzar, who said, “I hope you may be able to bring happiness
to the Servian people, and by doing so you will receive my friendship.”
The other was from the Emperor Francis Josef, and was certainly in the
spirit of dividing King and people, for His Majesty merely expressed a
hope that the evils existing would be remedied.

Austria’s chief aim in Servia is to estrange the people from their King,
to create as much discord and discontent as possible to crush the trade
of the country and to keep her poor. As long as she believed that Servia
was in a bad position economically and financially, things were allowed
to go from bad to worse. But as soon as an improvement was observed in
the national prosperity, a hostile policy was adopted, which has
rendered trade between the two countries impossible.

Careful inquiries of the Servian Cabinet Ministers and many statesmen of
both political parties show that even in the present position, with
Austria closed against her, Servia is nevertheless progressing, and
prospering more than the outside world ever dreams.

The last commercial treaty between Austria and Servia expired in 1904.
There was a desire on the part of Servia to at once renew it, but this
Austria-Hungary was unable to do, as she was rearranging her treaty with
Germany. When, however, the first negotiations were started, Austria
made very severe complaints regarding the Serbo-Bulgarian Customs Union,
and asked that the treaty in question should be annulled before
negotiations for the new treaty were started. The Servian Government,
desirous of pleasing Austria, replied that in the Serbo-Bulgarian
Customs Union there was a clause to the effect that if one of the Great
Powers raised a protest, amendments might be introduced. They therefore
suggested the postponement of this question, hoping that Austria was
satisfied, and would begin the _pourparlers_. But no such thing. Austria
had other aims, for very soon they coolly declared that if the
commercial treaty were renewed, Servia must buy her new armament for the
artillery of the Scoda works in Austria. This is peculiar, inasmuch as
the cannon in question is not that in use by the Austrian artillery!

The reason for this has been explained by the fact that certain members
of the Austrian Imperial family were financially interested in the works
in question. This, however, was not the real reason. There was one far
more subtle. The true political reason, indeed, was that the Austrian
Government wished to get a seat in the “Autonom-Monopol”
administration—the body which controls the loans, and which consists of
six members, namely, one French delegate, one German, and four Servians.
France and Germany were both friendly, but Austria, had she gained a
seat there, could at once have created internal dissension and
difficulty.

Nominally, the annual income from this “Monopol” is about thirty million
dinars, or francs, of which twenty million go to the creditors, leaving
ten million at the free disposal of the Government. Now had Austria
obtained a hand in this administration, she would have been able to
exercise a prerogative and a right of intervention in many matters
affecting the good government of the country—a danger that will at once
be apparent.

Austrian intrigue is everywhere apparent, not only in Belgrade, but
throughout the whole of Servia. Austria does not wish either a national
or a staple Government in Servia, and so, because they could not obtain
their ends, and because the present Government voices the national ideas
of the whole of the Serb people—who are as a matter of fact spread over
Croatia, Slavonia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Montenegro, and part of
Hungary—they have pursued the Customs War, and put a prohibitive tariff
upon everything in the endeavour to close entirely the world’s markets
to Servia. The latter has of course retaliated by placing a prohibitive
tariff upon all goods from those nations who have no treaty—a move which
is of course directed against Austria, but by which other Powers must,
for the present, suffer.

As regards England, the first commercial treaty made by Servia after the
Berlin Treaty was with Great Britain, and it served as the base of all
the other treaties. Of this Austria-Hungary was jealous, and from that
time until to-day Austria has done everything in her power to discredit
and discourage British trade in the Balkans. In fact, so seriously
detrimental has been Austria’s influence against British trade that
naturally some time must elapse ere the damage done can be repaired.

Meanwhile, a new commercial treaty with England has been arranged, for
it was in Servia’s greatest interest that this should be done. Every
Servian I spoke to was loud in his praises of England, and of English
methods. Servia is very anxious to export her agricultural produce to
England, while in Servia—now that Austrian imports have stopped—there
are many open markets for English goods.

Austria believed that as all Servian exports were sent into
Austria-Hungary, Servia would be obliged in the end to accept their
drastic and unfair terms—the purchase of cannon and other restrictions.
On the contrary, however, it says much for Servia’s enterprise that,
though the Austrian frontier has been closed during 1906, yet Servia has
exported all her goods by way of Varna or Braila, or by Salonica, to
which port a line of rail runs from Nisch. The producer has felt the
Austrian oppression but little, if any at all. In fact, it is the
opinion of many statesmen in Servia that it would actually be in the
country’s interests if Austria continues her present hostile Customs
policy, for it will then compel the Servians to look for markets farther
afield, and arouse them to take strong initiatives.

It should be noted, too, that fifteen years ago Austria raised the same
trouble with Roumania, and the Roumanians are now happily emancipated
from the Austrian market, and are consequently prosperous.

At present, with the Austrian frontier barred for export, Servia must
build a railway to the Adriatic. The line from Nisch, _viâ_ Usküb, to
Salonica, though it runs through Macedonia, is practically under
Austrian control, and goods sent over it from Servia are subjected to
high tariff. Therefore there is a project afoot to construct a new line
from Kragooyevatz across the Kopaonik Mountains to Prisrend, and thence
through Northern Albania down to Skodra and the Adriatic at the port of
San Giovanni di Medua. An alternative scheme is to construct the line so
that it passes through Montenegro, and joins the line at present being
made by an Italian company from Antivari on the coast to Virpasar on the
Lake of Scutari.

One or other of these two schemes will certainly be adopted in the near
future, and when the line is completed, Servia will at once be entirely
independent of Austria, and secure an outlet to the Adriatic. Such a
railway will be of great strategic importance, as will be seen from a
glance on the map. I have been over parts of the projected route, and
certainly it will be a very difficult line to construct, on account of
the wall of mountains lying between the Lake of Scutari and the Servian
frontier. But its opening will mean civilising the wild tribes of
Albania and the further cementing of the Serb nation.

This last point is, indeed, the chief line of the Servian Balkan policy.
In my conversations with the Premier, with Dr. Milenko Vesnitch,
Minister of Justice, and with the Ministers of Commerce and of Finance,
I found them all in accord upon the one great principle of policy,
namely, the preservation of the great Serb nation, which consists of
over ten million persons, spread through Bosnia, Herzegovina, Slavonia,
Kossovo, Montenegro, Servia, Dalmatia, and many parts of Hungary itself.
This great population speak the same language and have the same
aspirations, namely, the unity of the great nation whose past history is
such a splendid one.

The policy of the Servian Ministry, whether military, economical, or
political, is all directed towards this one end, and here it may be
pointed out that King Peter is grandson of the great hero of the Servian
people, the peasant Karageorge, who in 1804 raised the Servians against
the Turks and defeated them.

King Peter has already given evidence of his patriotic sentiments, not
only interesting himself in the nation before he was elected ruler, but
perhaps it is not generally remembered that in 1875 he fought at the
head of his troop—which he raised himself, and crippled his finances
thereby—for the emancipation of Bosnia. In the Servian national poetry
there is a hero called Peter Mrcognitch, the Protector of the Poor
against the oppressors, and it was under this assumed name that the
present ruler of Servia fought. In 1870, too, he fought with the French
against the Germans, and was awarded the Legion of Honour for valour on
the battlefield. Therefore the Servians regard him as a patriot—as
indeed he is—and up to the present he has certainly shown himself an
able, wise, and discreet ruler, who has the interests of his country
very deeply at heart.

[Illustration: The Road to the East: The last view of Europe.]

[Illustration: Villagers and Gypsies in Miriavo (Servia).]

To refer to the tragic events of the night of June 11, 1903, is
unnecessary. All I can personally say is that I arrived in Belgrade full
of an Englishman’s natural prejudice against the present régime, but
after careful inquiry, not only in government and diplomatic circles,
but also among the adherents of the old régime, I came to the conclusion
that though drastic and cruel, yet had not those events happened that
night, hundreds of unfortunate ones would have lost their lives on the
following morning.

In the régime of the late King no one was safe in Belgrade. Draga had
her spies everywhere, and alas for those who dared to utter a word
against her or her methods! Leading men in the political, social, and
literary world of Belgrade to-day have explained to me how they had from
day to day lived in fear and dread of false accusations and arrest,
until life became so intolerable that many were almost driven from the
country. These men strongly disagreed with the methods of the regicides,
but they are now thankful they are free.

The truth of those black days of spies and suspicion in Belgrade in the
last days of Alexander’s reign has never been told. Only those who lived
there, and only those who hear the truth from the lips of responsible
persons, can realise how entirely the country was in the hands of one
unscrupulous woman. The journalists of Europe were horrified at the
methods by which the Obrenovitch were wiped out, and they condemned the
Servians. Not one had the courage, or the inclination, to put the facts
fairly and impartially before the public.



                               CHAPTER IV
                          THE FUTURE OF SERVIA

Servia and the Macedonian question—A sound Cabinet—England and
    Servia—Appointment of Mr. Beethom Whitehead as British Minister very
    gratifying to the Servians—King Peter ever solicitous for the
    welfare of the people—What the Prime Minister told me concerning the
    future—The new railway to the Adriatic.


I make no apology for the assassination of King Alexander and his Queen.
That matter is a closed page of Servian history. I only can state what I
saw and heard in Servia, and explain how I drew my own entirely
unbiassed conclusions.

One thing is certain, that Servia is at this moment in a very much more
prosperous condition than ever she was under King Alexander. Having met
every one of the Ministers, and spent many hours with them, I can safely
assert that, headed by M. Pachitch, quiet-mannered, sensible, and
thoughtful, they are, one and all, a very strong and intelligent
Cabinet, each member of which is doing his very utmost for the
commercial development and future welfare of the country he loves so
dearly.

There is no _poseur_ or political adventurer among them. Each man is a
sound, intelligent, and trustful statesman, whose watchword is, as His
Excellency Monsieur Pachitch put it to me, “Servia for the Servians.”

While in Belgrade I had several conversations with members of the
Cabinet, and also with Dr. J. Cvijic, the eminent author of that most
thoughtful work, _Remarks on the Ethnography of the Macedonian Slavs_,
regarding the all-absorbing question of Macedonia. Mention Macedonia to
any Balkan statesman, and he raises his shoulders and shakes his head.
It is a problem that nobody can solve. I endeavoured, however, by dint
of many inquiries, to discover in what way Servia would like the
Macedonian question settled.

Roughly speaking, Macedonia is divided into three _vilayets_—Kossovo,
Monastir, and Salonica. Now Kossovo is essentially Old Servia, and there
is no question that its people are still Serbs. Yet here we run up
against Austria again. She is doing all in her power to cause the
population to emigrate, and in their place attracting Albanians who
assist the Austrian propaganda. As regards the other two _vilayets_ of
Monastir and Salonica, the inhabitants are Serbs, Bulgars, Greeks, and
Mohammedans. Now it is a curious fact, and one which I believe no other
writer has noted, that until two years ago nobody spoke of any other
people in Macedonia but these. Suddenly, however, Europe was made aware
that there was still another people, for the Koutzo-Vlachs were, for the
first time, mentioned, and formed a new element in the already mixed
difficulty.

Now without doubt this new problem was introduced into the controversy
by Germany for two reasons. The first was to create, besides the
Mohammedan and Albanian, a Christian Conservative element for the
preservation of the Turk in Europe. Germany has therefore an economic
propaganda in Turkey, and when the time is ripe it will be followed by a
strong political one. She could not count on either Serbs or Bulgars in
Macedonia, but by this new intrigue she has courted the support of the
Mohammedans.

The second reason of the introduction of these hitherto unheard-of
Koutzo-Vlachs concerned the position in Roumania, of which a
Hohenzollern is King. Until two years ago the Roumanian patriots were
occupying themselves with a propaganda in Transylvania. As, however, it
is a great point in German policy to keep Roumania within the confines
of the Triple Alliance, and as hostilities had arisen between Austria
and Roumania on account of the propaganda, it was necessary for Germany
to find a means to occupy in some other way the fantasy of the Roumanian
people. And so the Koutzo-Vlachs were pushed forward as a fresh
discovery, and the King of Roumania, in a speech to his Parliament,
spoke of “their brothers in Macedonia.” Beyond this, all the claims put
in by the Koutzo-Vlachs for the expenses of their schools and other
things to-day receive the support of the German Ambassador at the Porte.

From the Servian point of view—a view that is shared very widely—it
would appear that the best method of solving the very difficult question
of Macedonia would be to give the various peoples complete
tolerance—that is, to give the Greeks, Serbs, Bulgarians, and Moslems
complete liberty to develop themselves for, say, ten years. After this
time a plebiscite, under the control of the Powers, might be established
with success. This would solve the ethnographical difficulty, which is
really the base of the whole question.

The signatories to the Berlin Treaty would do well to take the
initiative in this matter, and so end the internal trouble which is for
ever a disturbing element in Balkan politics. Servia is very anxious to
see England interesting and asserting her power more in the Balkans, and
British statesmen might well follow the policy of Palmerston and
Castlereagh. The first British representative to Servia was Colonel
Hodges, who in 1837 went to Belgrade, and very quickly secured a
predominant position in Servian matters, owing to the unselfishness of
the British policy in the Balkans and the liberal ideas which England
always represents in the world. The Servians therefore still look to
England as taking a leading part in the settlement of Macedonia, and the
sooner this is done the less peril will exist in the Near East.

Since the accession of King Peter many reforms have been introduced, and
on all sides the Servian people express content and prosperity. I will
give a few examples. For instance, in the budget before the King’s
accession there were periodical deficits, but every year since, as I
have already pointed out, shows a very substantial balance. Therefore
the present increasing prosperity is apparent at a glance. The financial
market, too, shows how Servian finances stand in Europe.

[Illustration: The British Legation: Belgrade.]

[Illustration: The Knes Mihajelowa: Belgrade.]

This is no doubt due, in the first place, to the constitutional
cautiousness of King Peter. He has inspired with confidence the
financial world in Paris and elsewhere, for it is well known that he is,
before all, a constitutional ruler, and that his Government will never
be anything else than a constitutional one. Therefore, by his attitude,
he has so improved the state of Servian finance that the future
prosperity of the country is assured.

When King Peter was proclaimed, the Servians restored their liberal
Constitution, which the late King, under the influence of his father,
had abrogated. This has opened the way to the development of the country
in every direction. There is, of course, much yet to be done. As regards
the administration of justice, several excellent reforms have been
introduced during the present reign. Dr. Vesnitch is at present
reforming the prison system, and is about to introduce, after studying
the question for fifteen years, a new and unique system. He is of
opinion that the prisoners from the towns should be separated from those
from the country, for two reasons.

He declares that when criminals from the towns commit crimes it is in
most cases because they are not sufficiently instructed in their skilled
labour. They are bad workmen, and hence their downfall. If, however,
they were classified and instructed in the prison, they would, when
discharged, be better prepared, with the assistance of the Prisoners’
Aid Societies, to seek an honest living. Again, the second reason is
that the influence of town-bred prisoners upon those from the country is
always an evil one, and should at all times be avoided. The Servian
Government have adopted the Minister’s point of view, and fresh prisons
are to be constructed upon that basis.

Another reform about to be introduced by Dr. Vesnitch is that of
“conditional release.” It is intended to preserve first offenders from
the demoralising influence of prison life, and to create a good moral
influence over those who commit a crime for the first time. In a word,
the Servian project seeks to conciliate the English method with the
French Loi Beranger.

In all the other administrations—public instruction, war, finance, and
agriculture—many other reforms have been introduced, and many are in
course of preparation. As a matter of fact, until two years ago Servia
had no University, but at present an excellent institution has been
established, the professors of which rank well with those of other
nations.

In the department of war, a very important reform is about to be carried
out, namely, the rearmament of the artillery. This is, of course, a wide
subject, and time must elapse before the defences of the country are in
an absolutely perfect state. Suffice it, however, to say that the
Ministers of War and Finance are exerting every effort to obtain the
best weapons in France, and, at the same time, to leave the country’s
finances uncrippled.

Recently diplomatic relations have been resumed with England, and the
Foreign Office have appointed Mr. Beethom Whitehead as Minister to
Servia. This has given great satisfaction to the Servians, for they see
in this action of England that their Government has already merited
serious consideration. The resumption of friendship with Great Britain
has been the means of greatly fortifying the Pachitch Ministry. It was
obtained through the good services of Italy and France, and especially
of the King of Italy, who, as is well known, is a great admirer of
England, in addition to being brother-in-law of King Peter.

Servia hopes that the result of this renewed friendship will be to
combat the German advances to the East; and this, of course, is greatly
to the advantage of England. The Servians also hope that in the near
future England will see her way to minimise the evils which Lord
Beaconsfield’s policy created in the Balkans when he allowed Austria to
occupy Bosnia and Herzegovina and to monopolise Balkan trade generally.
It is probable that Lord Beaconsfield’s error was due to his fear of a
Pan-Slavonic danger, but the time is certainly now ripe for England to
assert her power and stem the German tide.

It is within the range of possibility that ere long Russia will unite
with England, France, and Italy to take joint steps in the Balkans, and
if this is realised it will mean for Servia that her autonomy and free
development will be secured. Diplomacy is working towards this end, and
as the British Liberal Party is believed to be the protector of weak
nations, it is more than likely the hope will very soon mature.

I have in this chapter spoken always of Austria, and not of Hungary. I
have done so because Hungary hopes for her independence, and will, if
she gains it, certainly find herself on a level with Servia. The
sympathy between the Servian and Hungarian people is historical, and it
was proved lately by the transfer of the relics of the Hungarian hero,
Racotzy, who was the greatest opposer to Austrian rule. Quite recently
Wekerle, the Hungarian Premier, said in Parliament that “the basis of
Hungarian foreign policy has been, is, and has to be, the continuance of
Servia’s friendship.”

Hungary has always found warm friends in England on account of her
struggle for independence, and without doubt England will still support
her when the day comes. Until ten years ago it was generally thought in
Hungary that the Slav tendencies were dangerous to Hungary’s existence,
but that has now entirely changed, and instead of regarding Servia as an
enemy, they look upon her as an ally, and Germany as an enemy.

The renewal of diplomatic relations between Servia and England will, it
is felt certain, be the means of inducing British capitalists to make
inquiry of the many and excellent openings now existing. When once
England is materially interested in the Serb countries she will have a
motive in promoting Servia’s prosperity, and in protecting her from the
German advance, as a policy which surely will be to her own advancement.

It may be here interesting, too, if in conclusion I give a very brief
summary of the trade of Servia during 1905—the last published year—as
compared with the four previous years, as it will show the rapidly
growing prosperity under the present régime. In 1901 the exports were
65,685,653 fcs., and the imports 43,835,428 fcs.—a total of 109,521,081
fcs.; in 1902 the total was 116,944,408 fcs.; in 1903, 118,202,666 fcs.

For 1905 the figures were as follow:—

                          1905.        1904.     Difference in 1905.
                                                  more (+) less (-)
                           Fcs.         Fcs.         Fcs.
    Exports              71,996,274   62,156,066   +9,840,208
    Imports              55,600,644   60,926,406   -5,325,672
    Totals              127,596,918  123,082,472   +4,517,446
    Increase of trade    16,395,630    1,226,660

Thus it will be seen that the country is undoubtedly entering upon an
era of prosperity.

By the Department of Public Instruction I was afforded facilities for
studying the educational system, and a few facts may prove interesting.
Though Servia has been a free country for less than a century, education
has already reached a very high level. It possesses a large number of
primary schools, secondary schools, and special schools, as well as a
high school in Belgrade which has lately been turned into a university.

The name “popular schools” is given to infant schools, primary schools,
and the superior primary schools. The course in the primary schools
lasts for six years, and in the primary superior schools two years.
Children in towns are sent into the first class of primary schools at
the age of six, and in the country at seven, the school year commencing
on September 1 and ending on June 29.

Schoolmasters on leaving the training college receive 800 dinars
(francs) per annum, and rise to 3000 dinars. Beyond this they receive an
allowance of 30 to 80 dinars a month in lieu of lodging. For 1905 I was
unfortunately unable to obtain the statistics, but I found that in 1904
there were in Servia 1093 schools for boys and 170 schools for girls, or
1263 primary schools. There were 1349 masters and 856 mistresses, or a
total of 2205 teachers. At the end of that scholastic year there were
85,365 boys studying and 22,081 girls, a total of 107,446 scholars.
There were also five normal schools with 25 masters, and six schools for
young girls with 25 mistresses. There are also several excellent private
schools. One Protestant and one Catholic are in Belgrade, while of the
three private schools for girls two are in Belgrade and one in Nisch.

As regards secondary schools, the course lasts eight years and is
terminable by examination. When the high school, or university course,
is ended, the students intending to become masters receive a
supernumerary place in a secondary school with a salary of 1500 dinars.
After about two years they pass the examination of professors, whereupon
they receive 2500 dinars, which is raised periodically to 6000 dinars.
The time-limit for professors is thirty years. In the secondary schools
are masters of languages and fine arts, and a very high standard of
instruction is given. The last return showed there were 4561 scholars
and 313 masters in these schools. These figures, however, do not
comprise the private gymnasiums of Alexinac and Gradiste, or the
superior schools for young girls at Belgrade and Kragooyevac.

The special schools comprise the religious seminary, the academy of
commerce, and the schools of agriculture. The religious seminary is at
Belgrade, and the course of instruction lasts nine years. There are two
schools of male teachers, one at Alexinac and the other at Yagodina, and
also two schools for female teachers, at Belgrade and at Kragooyevac.
Here, the course is for four years. The Academy of Commerce is in
Belgrade, where a course of three years is given. There is an excellent
School of Agriculture at Kralyevo, as well as a School of Forestry and
Viticulture at Bukovo, where a three years’ course is given.

The University, which is at Belgrade, has only recently been
established, for hitherto it was only a high school. The instruction is
of the very highest order, and without doubt it will turn out many
intellectual men in the near future.

One afternoon I went to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to have audience
of M. Nicholas Pachitch, the President of the Council of Ministers and
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.

The Foreign Office is a great comfortable old building adjoining the
gardens of the royal palace, painted dead white, and commanding from its
windows a beautiful view over the Save and the rolling plains beyond.
The ante-chamber is a sombre, old-fashioned room, with heavy furniture,
several fine pictures, and polished floor. But I was not given long to
inspect it, for a few minutes later I was ushered into the private room
of the man whom all Servia regards as the greatest and cleverest
politician—the man who is to make the New Servia.

I found him a quiet-mannered man, with kindly smiling eyes behind his
spectacles, his long beard and hair just silvered with grey, his voice
low, soft, and deliberate.

In the midst of a turbulent day—for the Skupshtina was sitting and
important questions were being discussed—he received me calmly, and
though two Cabinet Ministers were waiting outside for audience, he was
cool and deliberate. His manner was charmingly polite, and after
greeting me, gave me a seat at the table beside him, and readily
answered the questions I put to him.

“You have come here to learn about our country,” he said, smiling.
“Well, what can I tell you? You have, I daresay, heard a good deal in
England—some truth, and some facts that are untrue—facts manufactured by
the enemies of Servia! We want peace. Our tariff difficulties with
Austria are regrettable, but we cannot accept the Austrian terms. We
cannot guarantee to buy our war material and railway rolling-stock from
Austria. Because we are a small country the Austrian Empire is imposing
upon us terms which it is utterly impossible for us to accept. We must
arm our artillery with the best armament, be it Austrian, French,
German, or English. It is surely the duty of the Government to do this.
Why should we be bound to Austria in this matter? As regards England,
Servia is delighted at the resumption of diplomatic relations, and at
the appointment of Mr. Whitehead, who is a clever diplomatist, a
cosmopolitan, and who already understands us. It is now our intention to
show Europe that we are a sound nation, and by so doing we hope that
English capitalists will seek to exploit our vast mineral wealth. In
Servia there are mines in all parts—coal, iron, copper, lead, antimony,
zinc, and even gold. They only require working, and great profits must
accrue. I daresay you have seen the geological map which the Ministry of
Commerce has recently prepared. If not, I am sure Mr. Stoyanovitch, the
Minister, will allow you to see it.”

“And the present condition of the country?” I asked.

“Under the present rule the people have shown themselves absolutely
contented. There is an entire personal liberty which did not exist under
the late King. Our watchword is ‘Servia for the Servians.’ Our policy is
to avoid all outside complications, and endeavour to do our utmost to
develop the resources of the country.”

“And Macedonia?”

His Excellency smiled and shrugged his shoulders slightly.

“Ah! Macedonia!” he sighed. “Now you have touched upon a difficult
question. The population there is mixed, it is true, and the problem
puzzles every statesman in Europe; yet my own personal opinion is that
in the course of a year or two the Powers will discover a mode of
settlement which will be found to be beneficial to all concerned.”

“And the future policy of Servia?”

“You can tell them in England that all Servia desires is ‘peace,’” His
Excellency answered, smiling at me through his spectacles. “This we are
doing all we possibly can to promote. His Majesty has great admiration
for the English, and the Government are ready to grant concessions for
industrial and mining enterprises to English capitalists—if properly
introduced. I can assure you that they will find in Servia excellent
returns for their investments. But inquire for yourself, and you will
find that Servia is to-day more prosperous than ever she was under the
late King. Inquire among the people, not only in Belgrade, but away in
the heart of the country where you are going. Let the people speak for
themselves, and they will tell you how far our endeavours have been
successful.”

And then, after half an hour’s chat, during which he told me many
interesting facts, and gave me every facility to enable me to conduct my
inquiries, I rose, shook hands, and left, convinced that a Ministry
under such a clear, level-headed statesman—a really great man—could not
do otherwise than raise the country into a position of wealth combined
with respect.

Upon every Servian’s tongue I heard the name of Pachitch, and my own
observations all showed most conclusively that he and his party, with
the concurrence of the King, are guiding Servia to peace, happiness, and
great prosperity.

A few days later, while at luncheon at the house of Dr. Vesnitch,
Minister of Justice, I had an interview with M. Stoyanovitch, the
Minister of Commerce. He, like all the other members of the Cabinet, has
the interest of Servia deeply at heart. He is dark-haired, middle-aged,
keen, clever, and a thoroughly competent business man. Our conversation
mainly turned upon the projected railway to unite the Danube with San
Giovanni di Medua, in Albania, and so give to Russia, Roumania, and
Servia a port on the Adriatic.

The future of Servia, he declared, depended upon this line. She must
have a direct outlet for her trade, and he prophesied that within three
years the line would be built. The cost will be about 80,000,000 francs,
or 150,000 francs per kilometre. Roughly, the length is about 500
kilometres. He pointed out that an English company would experience but
little difficulty in obtaining a concession from the Turkish Government
to pass through Turkish territory, while a French and German company
would be prohibited. The line would be the highroad to Russia from the
south, and would be an extremely paying one, for in addition almost the
whole of the Servian imports and exports would be carried over it.

“British capitalists would do well to inquire into it,” he said. “We
have surveyed the route, and have the complete plans at the Ministry of
Public Works. To anyone introduced by you, Monsieur N——, we should be
very pleased to show them.”

And the Minister went into details as to the excellent results which
must certainly accrue from the undertaking and the profits which the
company would certainly make.

Servia has undoubtedly a very big future before her, and her statesmen
are ever looking far ahead.



                               CHAPTER V
                     TO-DAY AND TO-MORROW IN SERVIA

A retrospect—A sitting of the Skupshtina—Peasants as deputies—Servia as
    an open field for British enterprise—Enormous mineral wealth—Mr.
    Finney, a mining engineer who has prospected in Servia for seventeen
    years, tells me some interesting facts regarding rich mines awaiting
    development—No adventurers need apply.


Servia has, indeed, had a turbulent past.

For centuries she has been torn by war and ground under the heel of the
oppressor. From the days of Stevan Lazarevitch, at the end of the
fourteenth century, until the revolt of the Serbs against Turkish rule
under Karageorge in 1804, the country was constantly crushed and
constantly disturbed. Karageorge declared Belgrade and the neighbouring
region the free State of Servia, which was unfortunately not
accomplished until after great sacrifices and many heroic battles.

In 1813, however, while Russia was engaged in her final conflict with
Napoleon, the Turks again seized Servia, and Karageorge with several
other chiefs was exiled to Austria. Two years later, Milosch
Obrenovitch, with the aid of some chiefs, made another struggle for
liberty, which, thanks to the Treaty of Bucharest, was crowned with
success, and the interior autonomy of Servia thus became an accomplished
fact.

In 1842 Alexander Karageorgevitch, the younger son of Karageorge,
ascended the Servian throne as Prince, and under his rule the government
of the country was modelled upon modern lines, and many institutions
started which aided to develop the civilisation.

Exterior politics and the corruption of the officials by friends of the
Obrenovitch were successful in creating so much discontent that
Alexander at last abandoned the throne. Upon this, the Skupshtina, or
National Assembly, elected the aged Prince Milosch, who died very soon
afterwards. In 1861 his son, Prince Mihailo, succeeded, but in 1868 was
shot at Topschider, near Belgrade, through motives of personal
animosity. His cousin Milan, who was heir to the throne, was then in his
minority, and Servia was governed by a Regency of three persons.

During Milan’s reign there occurred, 1876-78, the war with Turkey and
the securing of four new departments, the recognition of the
independence of Servia by the Berlin Treaty, the proclamation of the
kingdom in 1882, the unfortunate war with Bulgaria in 1885, and the
promulgation of a new constitution which, with some slight modification,
is still in force. After the abdication of King Milan, his son Alexander
mounted the throne. His unfortunate matrimonial alliance with the
ambitious Draga, who quickly assumed authority, was soon responsible for
much discontent. Life became impossible in Servia owing to the
maladministration in every department, and the army revolted, with the
tragic and regrettable result that is so well known.

After the death of King Alexander in 1903, the Skupshtina elected the
son of Alexander Karageorgevitch as King under the title of Peter I.

With the present political acquisitions and the progress already made in
the highroad of civilisation, Servia has already obtained a high place
among civilised nations. But, alas! as the Servian author, M. Zrnitch,
has put it, the Servians are only free in the head—Servia—and the
arms—Montenegro. The other parts of their organism are still held in
thraldom by the foreigner.

While in Belgrade I was afforded an opportunity of visiting the
Skupshtina and being present at a somewhat heated debate. Just before my
arrival two deputies had, it was said, come to blows. All that I saw
there was most orderly, and certainly the speakers—even those in their
quaint brown peasant dress—were mostly eloquent.

Servia badly needs a new Parliament House. The present Skupshtina is a
large bare whitewashed building with two galleries, one for the
diplomats and Press, and the other for the public. In front of a
life-sized portrait of His Majesty sits the President, keeping order
with his bell, and on either side at baize-covered tables sit the
Ministers. The benches are set in horseshoe shape, and look very
uncomfortable. The deputies consist of all classes, from the wealthy
landowner to the peasant, and all receive fifteen francs a day expenses
while the House sits.

Plans have already been prepared for a new and handsome Parliament
House, which is to be built on a fine site behind the royal palace, and
it is believed the work will be commenced during the present year. The
sooner the National Assembly is properly housed the better, for the
present building is mostly of wood, old, rickety, and the reverse of
dignified. None are so alive to the urgent necessity of providing
comfortable quarters for the deliberations of the Skupshtina than His
Majesty himself, for it was he who explained to me what is intended.

After the revolution of June 2, 1903, the National Assembly convoked by
the Government of the kingdom of Servia gave the country, on June 15, a
new constitution, which was ratified three days later. The Skupshtina is
composed of deputies elected directly by the people, and its members,
during their office, cannot be sued or arrested without the consent of
the Skupshtina itself—save in the case of _flagrant delit_. Besides the
“Little Skupshtina,” which carries on the government of the country,
there is also the “Grand Skupshtina,” which consists of double the
number of deputies, and which is only summoned in exceptional
circumstances, namely, to elect the King; to elect regents; to decide
the succession of the throne; to deliberate upon any modification of the
constitution; to decide upon any cession or exchange of territory; or
when the King wishes to consult them. The King alone has the right to
choose or dismiss his Ministers.

In Servia there are 17 departments, 81 arrondissements, and 1571
communes. At the head of each department is a prefect nominated by the
King, at the head of each arrondissement a sous-prefect, and at the head
of each commune a mayor elected by the people.

Military service is compulsory, and the number of conscripts average
26,700 a year. The duration of service in the active army is for cavalry
and infantry two years, and eighteen months for other branches of the
service. I visited various barracks, and was afforded several
opportunities of inspecting the troops. Both officers and men seem
exceedingly smart and capable. Many of the officers had received their
military education in France, Germany, and Russia, while one artillery
officer I met had studied at Shoeburyness!

When the defensive forces are re-armed, as they will be completely
within the next twelve months, Europe will find in Servia a very capable
and well-trained army. Every Serb is a born fighter, and no detail is
being overlooked to render Servia’s defences up to date and complete.

Servia is not a country of great landowners. Apart from the property
held by the State, the land is almost wholly divided among peasant
proprietors. The law grants to every Servian peasant 2.8 hectares of
land, which cannot be sold to pay private debts. It is also forbidden
for cultivators to give bills of exchange. These two measures are of
great importance in preserving the land to the Servian peasant. The
country is a very rich agricultural one—perhaps one of the richest in
Europe. Yet one fact struck me as curious, namely, that in Belgrade one
cannot obtain any good milk, and all butter worth eating comes from
Budapest. There is a very great opening in Servia for dairy-farmers, a
branch of industry which, it seems, does not exist. The vines have, in
recent years, been all destroyed by the phylloxera, but they are being
rapidly replaced by the American variety. The country around the
arrondissements of Smederevo, Golubac, Ram, and Krayina are particularly
noted for good grapes and excellent wine.

[Illustration: In “The Kalemegdan”: Belgrade.]

[Illustration: The Market Place: Belgrade.]

Tobacco is a monopoly of the State. It is purchased upon a tariff fixed
by special commission, and is of well-known quality and peculiarly
adapted for the manufacture of cigarettes. The departments where it is
principally cultivated are Vranya, Krayina, Nisch, d’Uzice, and
Kragooyevac, while in other parts of Servia the Turkish varieties are
grown with great success, and for aroma will compare well with the
tobacco of Albania or Kavala. Not only is sufficient tobacco grown in
Servia to supply the wants of the country, but the quantities exported
are increasing year by year. A favoured few Englishmen, and especially
diplomats in various parts of Europe—who know the excellence of the
special quality of Servian cigarettes—have them direct from Belgrade.
Cigarettes bought for export cost one-half the price they do for
consumption in Servia.

Marmalade and _slivovitza_—an _eau-de-vie_ made of prunes—are also two
articles manufactured in Servia and largely exported, about three
million francs’ worth of the former, and two hundred thousand francs’
worth of the latter being sent out of the country annually.

There are immense forests in various parts of the country with a great
wealth of timber unexploited, as a glance at any good map of Servia will
show, while the sportsman will find there plenty of game of every kind,
from bear, lynx, wolf, and such-like animals, down to the quail, pigeon,
partridge, pheasant, and woodcock. The whole country teems with game,
and the only prohibitions are upon the stag, deer, chamois, and hen
pheasants. There are many sporting clubs, the chief one being in
Belgrade, where a paper is also published called _Le Chasseur_.

Servia’s mineral wealth is well known to geologists. Gold, in diluvial
and alluvial deposits, is being worked at Timok, at Pek, and at other
places, while cinnabar is found at Avala, near Belgrade, and in the
villages of Brajici, Bare, and Donja Tresnica. At Podrinye, at Lyuta
Strana, at Zuce, at Crveni Breg, in the region of Avala, at Rudnik, at
Kopaonik, at Djurina Sreca there is lead; at Zavlaca and Kucajna, zinc;
and at Povlen, Suvobor, Cemerno, Aldinac, Majdanpek, Bor in Timok and
Rtanj, large deposits of copper. Arsenic is found in various regions,
but principally near Donja Tresnica, in the department of Podrinye;
while antimony is known to exist in the Zajaca region. Rich iron is
waiting to be exploited upon the Kopaonik, in Vlasina, Rudna Glava,
Crnajka (department of Krajina), on the Vencac, in the centre of Servia,
and on the Boranja (in Podrinye); while there is coal in places too
innumerable to mention in this work.

All this enormous mineral wealth might well be exploited by British
capital. The Servian Government are, however, very careful to whom they
give concessions, and will not entertain, for a single moment, any
application, unless the applicant is properly introduced and can give
undeniable proof of his _bona fides_. Therefore the adventurer who
thinks he will, without capital, be able to make a “good thing” will
find himself sadly disappointed. The Government is extremely anxious to
receive _bona-fide_ proposals, and as His Majesty himself informed me,
will grant concessions, but only to firms or companies who mean serious
and legitimate business.

The Servian State is owner of all the subsoil of its territory, and can
give what rights it thinks proper to foreigners to prospect and work.

British capitalists would do well to make inquiries, for, from certain
information I gathered in Belgrade, I have no hesitation in saying that
great returns await those who commence serious mining operations in that
rich and inexhaustible field.

As the future wealth of Servia will depend to a large extent on the
exploitation of her mineral resources, and as Englishmen must, ere long,
be interested in her mines—as they are in mines all over the world—a few
facts concerning the Mining Law of Servia may not be out of place here.

The Government grants two kinds of rights to make researches, the
“simple right” and the “exclusive right.” The former is given for one
year, and may be extended to two years, and is limited to the three
communes indicated. The second lasts a year, but is renewable each year
as long as required, and it gives a right to explore over 500,000 square
metres of mining field.

The State gives concessions for mines for fifty years upon a sufficient
number of mining-fields each of 100,000 square metres, the boundaries of
which are fixed by a special commission. To obtain a concession it must
first be proved that there are undoubted traces of minerals; that the
capital is sufficient, and a plan of the proposed works has to be
furnished. The concessionaire, after fifteen years of uninterrupted
work, becomes proprietor, but he must continue to pay the mining duties,
and of course conform to the Mining Law.

Both the prospector and the concessionaire are obliged to work
regularly, take proper precautions for the well-being and personal
safety of their workpeople, report annually upon work executed, and
furnish each year plans for next year’s work. There must be no mining
beneath roads, water-courses, buildings, or cemeteries.

All rights of research and all concessions are lost if the specified
work is not executed within the first year, or is interrupted without a
reason approved by the Minister, or by bankruptcy.

The State, in order to encourage industry, favours the importation of
all machinery and material for use in mines, as well as the exportation
of the ore obtained, and gives many other advantages to the
concessionaire.

Of late, Belgrade has been overrun with foreign concession-hunters, most
of them of the adventurer type. I met several of them in Belgrade. In my
conversation with the Ministers I quickly learnt that the Government,
fully alive to the great mineral resources of their country, and
confident in the great wealth that must in a few years accrue, will have
absolutely nothing to do with any person who comes to them without
introduction.

In Belgrade, I repeat, the doors are closed to the irresponsible
concession-hunter, but at once open to anyone who on being introduced
can show his _bona fides_ and that he has capital behind him.

In the course of my inquiries into the mineral wealth I had a number of
conversations with Mr. J. R. Finney, Ass. I. M. & M., an English mining
engineer who has spent seventeen years in prospecting and working mines
in Servia.

No one knows more about mines and traces of minerals in the country than
he.

He pointed out to me that the mineral deposits of Servia have been
worked to a very great extent from very early times, as the remains of
Roman and Venetian works prove and the enormous slag-heaps found in
various parts of the country. He himself has on many occasions found,
while prospecting, rude ancient implements, bones, etc. Of the ancient
Roman workings, copper, galena, and silver were obtained at Kopaonik; at
Rudnik, lead, silver, and zinc were mined; at Kucajna, gold, silver,
zinc, and coal, while alluvial gold is to be found all along the Pek
River, and especially where it joins the Danube. This gold has, he said,
evidently been worked down in course of time from a rich quartz reef
which is known by certain persons, including himself, to exist.

At the Rebel copper mine, which Mr. Finney himself discovered, he found
ancient workings that had been shored up with timber, but so long ago
that the wood was petrified! Again, the wood was pine, which does not
now exist in the forests. The latter are all beeches, and it is known
that in course of long ages beeches kill the pines. At the mine in
question is an extensive copper-smelting works, and a very large
percentage of metal is obtained. All over this same district Mr. Finney
has prospected, and declares that in the mountains of Medvednick and
Povlen there are large deposits of lead, copper, silver, and antimony
all awaiting exploitation.

Some very important copper mines and smelting works are at Maydan Pek,
and have been worked at a good profit for years, while at Bor there has
been erected a large smelting works, which are capable of producing ten
tons of copper daily. Large deposits of antimony exist, to Mr. Finney’s
knowledge, at Zajitchar and Krupanj.

“I quite admit,” said Mr. Finney, as we were chatting, “that some mines
in Servia have not been successful. The bulk of them have been
over-capitalised. Take, as an instance, one company with £300,000
capital, which left £20,000 for working. The consequence is that the sum
at disposal has not been sufficient to develop the mine or to work
sufficient to pay interest on £280,000.

“Again, in many cases men unacquainted with any foreign language, or
with the customs of the country, have been sent out here to manage, and
with instructions from a board in London utterly ignorant of the
requirements of the case. As an instance of this, a certain company that
I could name sent out to Servia six managers in three years. In such a
case, with a manager dependent upon interpreters and ignorant of the
people, the price of labour and materials rises from 200 to 300 per
cent. I have known these prices to be paid. Again, there is some little
reform needed in the mining laws, and the Government would be well
advised if they compelled the communes to put the roads in better
repair. Transport is at present somewhat difficult, and if the communes
put the roads in order they would, in the long-run, greatly benefit by
the opening up of the country. Such,” Mr. Finney added, “are some of the
reasons why foreign mining undertakings in Servia have not been
altogether successful in the past. But for the future there is great
hope, and English capitalists will do well to regard Servia as a field
where good profits may easily be made.”

                      ----------------------------

       AN ALPHABETICAL LIST OF THE PRINCIPAL SERVIAN PLACE-NAMES

 ALEXANDROVATZ             Chief town of the arrondissement of Koznitza,
                             on the river of that name.
 ALEXINATZ                 Chief town of the department of the same
                             name, at the junction of the Morawa with
                             the Morawfitz. 6000 inhabitants. Copper
                             mines. The monastery of Sant Stepan is in
                             close proximity.
 ALEXINATZ                 Department with arrondissement of 30
                             communes.
 ARANGYELOVATZ             Chief town of Jassenitza, department of
                             Kragooyevatz. 1000 inhabitants. Source of
                             Boukovik mineral waters. Watering-place
                             much frequented from  May till October.
 ARILIE                    An arrondissement of 23 communes in Oujitze,
                             valley of the Morawa Serbe.
 ARILIE                    Chief town of arrondissement of that name,
                             department of Oujitze.
 AZANJA                    Town in Jassenitza. 4500 inhabitants.
 AZBOUKOVATZ               Arrondissement of 38 communes in Podrinié.
 BANIA                     Watering-place very frequented, in the
                             department of Alexinatz. Ruins of a Roman
                             bath and of a feudal castle. View upon
                             Pyramid of Rtanje, and one of the most
                             picturesque places in Servia.
 BANIA                     Hot-water springs an hour from Nisch.
 BANIA-YOSCHANITZA         Chief town of Yoschanitza, in Kruschevatz.
 BELAVIA                   Mineral-water springs in the arrondissement
                             of Yagodina.
 BELIVNIA                  Chief town of the arrondissement of
                             Prokoupatz, department of Toplitza.
 BIELA-PALANKA             Arrondissement in Pirot of 44 communes.
 BIELITZA                  Small tributary of the Morawa. Also name of
                             an arrondissement.
 BLATO-LUZNITZA            Chief town of Luznitza, department of Pirot.
 BOGATITCH                 Chief town in the arrondissement of Matchva,
                             in Schabatz district.
 BOLIEVATZ                 Chief town of an arrondissement in the
                             department of Tzrna Reka, at foot of Mount
                             Ratni.
 BOLIEVATZ                 An arrondissement of the Zrnarjeka.
 BRESTOVATZ                Station between Nisch and Vranya.
 BRZA-PALANKA              Chief town of an arrondissement in Kraina, on
                             the Danube.
 BRZA-PALANKA              Arrondissement on the Roumanian frontier with
                             20 communes.
 DERVEN                    Chief town of the arrondissement of
                             Sverlichka, department of Kniajevatz.
                             Monastery of S. Arangel in the vicinity.
 DESPOTOVATZ               Arrondissement with 33 communes in Tchoupria.
 DJEP                      Station between Nisch and Vrania.
 DJUNIS                    Station on the Morawa.
 DOBRA                     Coal-mine on the Danube between Golubatz and
                             Dolni Milanovatz.
 DOBRITSH                  Arrondissement in Toplitza with 85 communes.
 DOLNI DUCHNIK             Chief town in the arrondissement of Zaplania,
                             department of Nisch.
 DOLNI MILANOVATZ          Chief town of the arrondissement of
                             Poreschka-Rieka, in Kraina, on the Danube.
                             Fine forests; stone and lignite in the
                             vicinity.
 DRAGATCHEVO               Name of an arrondissement of which Gutscha is
                             the chief town, in Tchatchak. 55 communes.
 DRINA                     Tributary of the Save between Bosnia and the
                             Servian frontier. Excellent trout-fishing.
 GAMSIGRAD                 A locality near Zaitchar. Close by upon a
                             plateau near Timok are most interesting
                             ruins of a Roman fortress. One of the best
                             preserved ruins in Servia.
 GLEDIKJ                   A plateau south of Kragouievatz.
 GOLEMO-SELO               Chief town of the arrondissement of
                             Polianitza, in Vrania.
 GOLIA                     Mountains on the frontier of Novi-Bazar.
 GOLUBATZ                  Arrondissement of 29 communes.
 GOLUBATZ                  Mining centre on the Danube.
 GOLUBINIE                 Mountains in Kraina.
 GORNI-MILANOVATZ          Chief town of the arrondissement of Takovo
                             and of the department of Rudnik. 3000
                             inhabitants. School of commerce.
 GRDELITZA                 Station on the Nisch-Vrania railway, south of
                             Vlatchotinza.
 GREATCH                   Station near Alexinatz, on the Belgrade-Nisch
                             railway.
 GROTZKA                   Small river, which gives its name to an
                             arrondissement of 17 communes.
 GROTZKA                   Town on the Danube, near Belgrade.
 GRUJA                     Tributary of the Morawa Srbska, which gives
                             its name to an arrondissement of 63
                             communes.
 GUBEREVATZ                Important traces of minerals 35 kilometres
                             from Belgrade.
 GUTSCHA                   Chief town of Dragatchevo, department of
                             Tchatchak. Splendid pastures.
 GUTSCHEVO-BORANJA         Mountains in the department of Podrinie.
 HASSAN-PACHA              Chief town of the arrondissement of
                             Jassenitza, department of Semendria. 3200
                             inhabitants.
 IBAR                      Tributary of the Morawa Srbska.
 IVANYITZA                 Chief town of Moravitza, department of
                             Oujitze. 200 inhabitants. Wheat-growing.
 JADAR                     Tributary of the Drina, which gives its name
                             to an arrondissement of 40 communes. Chief
                             town, Loznitza.
 KAMENITZA                 Chief town of the arrondissement of
                             Podgaratz, in Valievo.
 KATSCHER                  Arrondissement, of which the chief town is
                             Rudnik. 38 communes.
 KLADOVA                   Chief town of the arrondissement of
                             Kljoutscha, department of Kraina, on the
                             Danube. 2706 inhabitants.
 KLIOUTSCHA                Arrondissement, of which the chief town is
                             Kladova, north of the Kraina.
 KNIAJEVATZ                Chief town of the department of that name at
                             the foot of the Balkans. Growing of cereals
                             and a school of commerce.
 KOLUBARA                  Tributary of the Save. Gives its name to two
                             arrondissements.
 KOPAONIK                  Mountains to the south of the Dinaric Alps.
 KORMAN                    Station ten kilometres north of Alexinatz.
 KOSSMAY                   Mountain which gives its name to an
                             arrondissement of which the chief town is
                             Iopot, department of Belgrade. 26 communes.
 KOSTLENIK                 Mountain in the department of Rudnik.
 KOURSCHOUMLIE             Chief town of the arrondissement of
                             Kossanitza, on the Turkish frontier.
                             Country noted for its wines.
 KOUTSCHEVO                Chief town of the arrondissement of Svidje,
                             on the Pek. Coal mines.
 KOZIERITZA                Chief town of the arrondissement of Tzerna
                             Gora, department of Oujitza.
 KOZNITZA                  Watercourse and tributary of the Morawa
                             Srbska, which gives its name to an
                             arrondissement of 92 communes in the
                             department of Kruschevatz.
 KRAGOUIEVATZ              Chief town of the department of that name,
                             and ancient capital of Servia. Situated on
                             the Lepnitza. 13,000 inhabitants. Contains
                             a large library, a gun-factory, and
                             powder-magazine. Potteries and stone
                             quarries. Excellent wine grown here.
 KRAINA                    Department in the north-east of Servia. Chief
                             town, Negotin.
 KRALIEVO                  Chief town of the arrondissement of the same
                             name, department of Tchatchak. 4200
                             inhabitants. Lead and iron mines. Military
                             school.
 KROUPANIE                 Town in the department of Loznitza. Lead,
                             zinc, and antimony mines.
 KRUSCHEVATZ               Chief town of the arrondissement and
                             department of that name, with 6200
                             inhabitants. Ancient residence of the Tzars
                             of Servia. Vine culture.
 LAPOVO                    Junction of the railway Belgrade-Nisch with
                             the line to Kragouievatz.
 LEBANE                    Chief town of the arrondissement of
                             Yablonitza, at the junction of the Medvedja
                             and Buguecka.
 LEPENATZ                  A series of plateaux in the south-west, near
                             the environs of Nisch.
 LEPNITZA                  Tributary of the Morawa, which gives its name
                             to the arrondissement of which Ratscha is
                             the chief town. 40 communes.
 LESKOVATZ                 Chief town of an arrondissement of that name
                             in the department of Nisch. Monastery of S.
                             Radni in vicinity. Arrondissement contains
                             77 communes.
 LIPOVATSCHA               Small river in the arrondissement of Ratscha.
 LOZNITZA                  Chief town of the department of Podrinie.
                             4000 inhabitants. School of commerce.
 LUBOVIA                   Chief town of the arrondissement of
                             Asboukovatz, upon the Drina.
 LUZNITZA                  An arrondissement with 54 communes in the
                             department of Pirot.
 MAIDANPEK                 Important mining centre 30 kilometres from
                             Dolni-Milanovatz, on the Danube. Iron and
                             copper. Vast forests.
 MASSOURITZA               An arrondissement on the Bulgarian frontier,
                             department of Vrania. 43 communes.
 MATSCHWA                  An arrondissement of 24 communes in Schabatz
                             district, north-east of Servia.
 MIONITZA                  Chief town of the arrondissement of Kolubara,
                             department of Valievo.
 MLAVA                     Tributary of the Danube which gives its name
                             to an arrondissement of which the chief
                             town is Petrovatz. 32 communes.
 MORAWA                    Chief river in Servia, and by its tributary
                             the Morawa which rises in the Yavor
                             mountains, waters much territory in the
                             south-east of the kingdom. There is an
                             arrondissement of the same name in the
                             department of Rudnik, with 38 communes.
 MORAWITZA                 Tributary of the Morawa which gives its name
                             to two arrondissements, one of 31 communes,
                             the chief town of which is Bania, in
                             Alexinatz, and the other, of which Yvanitza
                             is the chief town, in Oujitza, with 149
                             communes.
 NEGOTIN                   A town of 6000 inhabitants, in Kraina, East
                             Servia. Noted for its wines.
 NISCHAVA                  Tributary of the Morawa, which gives its name
                             to the arrondissement of which Pirot is the
                             chief town. 65 communes.
 NOVI HAN                  Chief town of the arrondissement of Timok, in
                             the Tchiprovatz Mountains, on the Bulgarian
                             frontier.
 OBRENOVATZ                Chief town of the arrondissement of Possava,
                             department of Valievo, on the Tamnava, near
                             its confluence with the Danube. 3000
                             inhabitants.
 OMOLJE                    Mountains. Highest, 3500 metres, in the
                             department of Pojarevatz.
 ORATSCHA                  A town in Semendria, upon the small river
                             Rallya. Also the name of an arrondissement
                             of 14 communes.
 OROPSI                    Mineral springs near Belgrade.
 OUB                       Chief town of the arrondissement of Tamnava,
                             in Valievo.
 OUJITZE                   Town of 8000 inhabitants in the department of
                             the same name. Wine and school of commerce.
 OVTSCHAR                  Mountains near Tchatchak. Sulphur  baths.
 PARATCHIN                 Chief town of an arrondissement of that name
                             on the Zanitza, department of Tchoupria.
                             The monastery of  S. Pelka is not far
                             distant.
 PETCHENIKOTZA             Town at the confluence of the Jablonitza and
                             the Morawa.
 PETROVATZ                 Chief town of the arrondissement of Mlava, in
                             Pojarewatz.
 PIROT                     Chief town of the department of that name in
                             the south-east of Servia. 14,000
                             inhabitants.
 PODGORATZ                 Mines of iron, copper, and lead, in Valievo.
                             Lithographic stone is quarried.
 PODGORIE                  Arrondissement of 29 communes in Valievo.
 PODRINYE                  A department in the west of Servia. Chief
                             town, Loznitza.
 PODUNAVLYE                Arrondissement of 25 communes in Smederevo.
 POJAREVATZ                Chief town of an arrondissement of that name.
                             13,000 inhabitants. Mining centre. School
                             of agriculture. The scene of the famous
                             Congress of 1718.
 POJEGA                    Chief town of an arrondissement of that name,
                             department of Oujitza. The arrondissement
                             contains 52 communes.
 POLYANITZA                An arrondissement on the Turkish frontier,
                             department of Vrania.
 PORESCHKA                 Tributary of the Danube in a deep valley
                             between the Pekska and the Misosch
                             mountains. It gives its name to an
                             arrondissement of 11 communes, in Kraina.
 PORTES DE FER (GYERDAP)   “The Iron Gates” of the Danube, or passage
                             between the Balkans at the point where the
                             river leaves Servia. There is also a small
                             town of 3000 inhabitants. In the mountains
                             in the vicinity the wild cherry is found.
                             It is very rare, and is much sought after
                             for the manufactory of expensive furniture.
 POSSAVA                   An arrondissement of 27 communes in Belgrade.
                             Also one in the department of Valievo.
 POSSAVO-TAMNAVA           Arrondissement of 54 communes in the
                             department of Schabatz.
 POTSERIE                  Arrondissement of 34 communes, of which the
                             chief town is Schabatz.
 PRECHILOVATZ              Chief town of an arrondissement of that name
                             in Alexinatz.
 PREILLINA                 Chief town of the arrondissement of the
                             Morawa, a few kilometres from Tchatchak.
 PRIBOI                    Town on the railway Nisch-Vrania.
 PRILIKA                   Mineral springs in the arrondissement of
                             Oujitze.
 PROKOUPATZ                Arrondissement of 104 communes in department
                             of Toplitza.
 PROKOUPLIE                Chief town of Toplitza and of the
                             arrondissement of Dobritsch.
 PSCHINIE                  An arrondissement of 89 communes in Vrania.
 RADJEVINA                 Chief town of Radjevo, in Podrinie, on the
                             Bosnian frontier. Lead mines.
 RADJEVO                   Arrondissement of 32 communes.
 RADOUYEVATZ               A town on the Danube at the point where the
                             right bank ceases to be in Servia.
 RAJAN                     Chief town of the arrondissement of that
                             name, in Alexinatz. The Monastery of S.
                             Roman is in the vicinity.
 RALLYA                    Station on the Belgrade-Nisch line. Important
                             mining centre. Also the name of a small
                             river.
 RAMA                      Arrondissement of 31 communes, of which
                             Veliko Graditcha is the chief town.
 RASCHKA                   Chief town in the arrondissement of
                             Stoudenitza, department of Tchatchak, at
                             the foot of Mount Golia.
 RATSCHA                   Chief town of the arrondissement of Lepnitza,
                             in Kragouievatz. Also the name of an
                             arrondissement of 28 communes in Oujitze.
 REKOVATZ                  Chief town of the arrondissement of Levatch,
                             in Yagodina.
 RESNIK                    Station on the Belgrade-Nisch railway.
 RESSAVA                   Tributary of the Morawa which gives its name
                             to an arrondissement of 24 communes in
                             Tchoupria.
 RIPANIE                   Station and mine on the line Belgrade-Nisch.
 RTANIE                    A pyramidical mountain of 3900 metres in the
                             arrondissement of Alexinatz.
 RUDNIK                    Chief town of the arrondissement of Kastcher,
                             department of Rudnik; also the name of a
                             range of mountains in the centre of Servia.
 RYBAR                     Mineral springs in Kruschevatz.
 SAVA                      A tributary of the Danube which joins the
                             latter at Belgrade.
 SCHABATZ                  A town of 11,000 inhabitants upon the Save,
                             capital of a department of that name.
 SCHORNIK                  A plateaux to the west of Oujitze.
 SCHUMADIA                 A vast forest extending through the
                             departments of Belgrade and Rudnik.
 SEMENDRIA                 Chief town of a department of that name,
                             situated on the Danube, with 7500
                             inhabitants. Vine culture.
 SIKIRITZA                 A station between Belgrade and Nisch. Lignite
                             is known to exist here in large quantities.
 SIKOLIE                   A mining centre in the Kraina.
 SLATIBOR                  A chain of mountains forming part of the
                             Dinaric Alps separating Servia and Rascie
                             (Novi Bazar). Also the name of an
                             arrondissement of 30 communes in Oujitze.
 SMRDAN-BARA               Excellent sulphur springs at the confluence
                             of the Drina and the Save in Loznitza. Very
                             picturesque.
 SOPOT                     Chief town on the arrondissement of Kossmai,
                             department of Belgrade.
 STALATZ                   The junction of the railway
                             Kruschevatz-Oujitze and the line
                             Belgrade-Nisch.
 STANISCHITZA              High plateaux in Kruschevatz.
 STIG                      An arrondissement of 13 communes in
                             Pojarevatz, the chief town being
                             Koutschevo.
 STUDENITZA                Tributary of the Ibar, which joins it between
                             the mountains Iakowo and Radotschewo. It
                             gives its name to an arrondissement of 144
                             communes in Tchatchak. The chief town is
                             Ratschka, near which is the celebrated
                             monastery of Tsarska Lavra, built in the
                             twelfth century by the orders of Krale
                             Stefan Nemania, who became a monk under the
                             name of Simeon. The monastery, in the
                             Slavonic style, Orthodox and Byzantine, is
                             entirely constructed of white marble, and
                             is of marvellous beauty.
 SVERLICHKA                Arrondissement of 40 communes, the chief town
                             of which is Derven, in Kniajevatz.
 SVILAINATZ                Chief town of Ressava, upon the river of that
                             name in the department of Tchoupria.
 TAKOVO                    Arrondissement of 43 communes in Rudnik.
 TAMNAVA                   A tributary of the Save which gives its name
                             to an arrondissement of 42 communes in
                             Valievo.
 TCHAITINA                 Chief town of the arrondissement of Slatibor,
                             near the Bosnian frontier, twenty
                             kilometres from Mokragora.
 TCHATCHAK                 Chief town of a department of that name,
                             situated upon the Morawa Serbe. 4200
                             inhabitants.
 TCHOPITZ                  Chief town of Kolubara, department of
                             Belgrade.
 TCHOUPRIA                 Chief town of a department of that name,
                             situated upon the Morawa at its confluence
                             with the Kamenitza. 5200 inhabitants.
                             Lignite.
 TEMNITCH                  A department with capital of the same name.
 TEMNITCHKA                Mountains in the south of Yagodina which give
                             their names to an arrondissement of 43
                             communes.
 TIMOK                     A river which rises near Biela Palanka, runs
                             to the north, and falls into the Danube a
                             little below Radouyevatz, after serving as
                             frontier to Servia and Bulgaria for 50
                             kilometres. The name also of an
                             arrondissement of 20 communes of which
                             Novi-Han is the chief town, in the
                             department of Kniajevatz.
 TOPLITZA                  A river rising in the Kopaonik mountains, and
                             falls into the Morawa near Nisch. It also
                             gives its name to a department of which
                             Prokouplie is the chief town.
 TOPOLA                    A small town in Kragouievatz. 3100
                             inhabitants.
 TOPSCHIDER                First station on the line Belgrade-Nisch.
                             Royal villa and gardens. Also mining
                             centre. The name of a small river falling
                             into the Save.
 TRNAVA                    An arrondissement of 29 communes, the chief
                             town of which is Tchatchak.
 TRSTENIK                  A town of 2000 inhabitants, situated on the
                             Morawa Srbska, in Kruschevatz. Manufacture
                             of millstones. Also the name of an
                             arrondissement of 38 communes.
 TZERNAGORA                A mountain which gives its name to an
                             arrondissement of 126 communes in Oujitze.
 UMKA                      A town on the Save, department of Belgrade.
 VALIEVO                   Chief town of the department and
                             arrondissement (of 62 communes) of the same
                             name. 7500 inhabitants. Lithographic stone.
                             Town lit by electricity by an English
                             concessionaire, Mr. J. R. Finney.
 VARVARIN                  A town in the department of Yagodina. Stalatz
                             station.
 VELIKA-LUKANIA            A town at the foot of Mount Radotschina,
                             department of Pirot. The monastery of S.
                             Aranghel is near.
 VELIKA-PLANA              The junction of railways between
                             Belgrade-Nisch and Semendria.
 VELIKI-POPOVITCH          Chief town of the arrondissement of
                             Despotovatz, situated on the Retsava.
 VELIKO-GRADISHTE          A town at the confluence of the Pek and
                             Danube. 4016 inhabitants. Wheat-growing.
 VERSCHKA-TCHOUKA          Mountain between Novi-Han and Zaitchar. Rich
                             coal mines.
 VIZZOTSCHKA               An arrondissement in Pirot containing 26
                             communes.
 VLADIMIRTSI               Chief town of the arrondissement of
                             Possavo-Tamnava, in Schabatz.
 VLADITCHIN-HAN            Small station on the Nisch-Vrania line.
 VLASCHKA                  Fifth station from Belgrade, towards Nisch.
 VLASSINA                  Chief town of the arrondissement of
                             Mazouritza, in Vrania, on the Bosnian
                             frontier.
 VLASSOTINZE               A town situate on the Vlassina-Vignes, in
                             Nisch. Also the name of an arrondissement
                             of 51 communes.
 VRANIA                    Chief town of a department of that name in
                             South Servia, on the Nisch-Uskub line. Vine
                             culture. At Bania, in the vicinity, mineral
                             springs.
 VRATCHAR                  Arrondissement of 20 communes in the
                             department of Belgrade.
 WRATARNITZA               A plateau to the east of Zrna-Rieka,
                             Bulgarian frontier.
 WRNTZE                    Excellent mineral springs upon the road from
                             Kralievo to Trstenik, in the arrondissement
                             of Kruschevatz.
 YABAR                     Chief town in the arrondissement of Morawa.
                             Abundant lignite.
 YABLANITZA                A river falling into the Morawa at
                             Brestovatz-Tchetina, and giving its name to
                             an arrondissement of 58 communes,
                             department of Toplitza.
 YADAR                     A tributary of the Drina which gives its name
                             to an arrondissement of 40 communes in
                             Podrinie.
 YAGODINA                  Chief town of the department of that name and
                             of the arrondissement of Bielitza, upon the
                             Constantinople road. 5000 inhabitants.
                             Station on the Belgrade-Nisch line.
 YASSENITZA                A tributary of the Morawa, which gives its
                             name to an arrondissement of 27 communes in
                             Kragouievatz. Also a small tributary of the
                             Medjloudje and the name of an
                             arrondissement of 15 communes in Semendria.
 YAVOR                     Mountains on the western frontier of Servia.
 YBAR                      Tributary of the Morawa Serbe, which it joins
                             near Kralievo.
 YOSCHANITZA               Small tributary of the Ibar which gives its
                             name to an arrondissement of 71 communes in
                             Kruschevatz.
 YVANITZA                  Chief town of the arrondissement of
                             Morawitza, in Oujitze. 2000 inhabitants.
                             Cereals.
 ZAGLAV                    An arrondissement of 51 communes, of which
                             Kniajevatz is the chief town.
 ZAGOUBITZA                Chief town of the arrondissement of Omolje,
                             upon the Mlava. The celebrated monastery of
                             S. Giorgiak is in the vicinity.
 ZAITCHAR                  One of the arrondissements of the Zrna Rieka.
                             25 communes. Also name of the capital of
                             the department. 7000 inhabitants. Coal
                             mines.
 ZAPLANIE                  An arrondissement of 55 communes in the
                             department of Nisch.



                                BULGARIA



[Illustration: HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS PRINCE FERDINAND OF BULGARIA.]



                               CHAPTER I
                            SOFIA OF TO-DAY

At the Bulgarian frontier—A chat with M. Etienne, French ex-Minister of
    War—Evening in Sofia—A city of rapid progress—Engaging peasants for
    Earl’s Court Exhibition—Amusing episodes—Social life in Sofia—The
    diplomats’ club—The Bulgarian Government grant me special facilities
    for investigation.


The Orient Express—that train of dusty _wagons-lits_ which three days a
week gives communication between Ostend and the East—had just passed the
Bulgarian frontier at Tzaribrod, and my passport had been examined and
stamped by a keen-eyed little man in black.

I was sitting in the dining-car with a very distinguished French
statesman, M. Etienne, ex-Minister of War, and we had been chatting for
several hours as the train wound through the defiles of the Servian
mountains.

A diplomat’s wife, with four pet spaniels, on her way, I believe, from
Japan to the Turkish capital, was seated at the next table to ours. She
had ordered coffee, for which she paid with a thousand-franc French
note! The takings of the “pudding-car” of the “Orient” must be
considerable, for the _maître d’hôtel_ promptly cashed the note—nine
“one-hundreds,” some French gold, silver, and copper—and received a few
centimes as a tip! It was my first quaint experience in Bulgaria. Mark
Twain with his million-pound-note should come here. Curiously enough, I
afterwards met the diplomat’s wife in Constantinople.

Entering Sofia from the station, the traveller is at first sadly
disappointed. The place looks dismal and half finished. There are wide
roads and boulevards laid out, with scarcely a house in them. Your cab
suddenly turns a corner. The high pointed minaret of a mosque comes into
view, and lo! you are in a wide boulevard, which would really do credit
to Brussels. You pass a many-domed building, the Cathedral, and
presently a pretty garden behind railings, and a long handsome building
with sentries at the entrance-gate—the Palace of Prince Ferdinand. You
are in modern Sofia.

After a wash at the hotel, I went to the Palace, signed my name in His
Royal Highness’s visiting-book, and then went forth to wander in the
streets.

It was now already dark. In the trees of the central boulevard thousands
of rooks were cawing and circling above, disturbed by the lights and
movement of the street. Men were shouting the evening newspapers in
strident voices, and one could almost imagine oneself back on the
Boulevard des Italiens at the absinthe hour, with the camelots crying
“_V’la la Presse!_” Only, in Paris, rooks do not nest in the streets,
nor do the watchmakers have twenty-four inches of space and a chair in
the windows of the smaller cafés. A walk along any of the principal
streets at once shows the Bulgar to be a fighter, for the display of
arms of all kinds, even to the modern Browning automatic pistol, is
immense.

Here, one is really in the Balkans. The last official census gives
sixty-six Englishmen and forty-six Englishwomen in the whole of
Bulgaria. I met six only. Uniforms, upon Russian models, are
everywhere—the peaked cap, the grey overcoat, the big revolver. Men in
European dress jostle with peasants in linen blouses, round astrachan
caps, and drab blankets around them, or others in sheepskin jackets with
the wool inside, all with the inevitable round Balkan cap of astrachan.
The Turk, too, is quite at home and friendly with the Christian, and
modern progress is typified by the electric trams whizzing and clanging
everywhere.

[Illustration: Peasants in Sofia Market Place.]

[Illustration: The Old Mosque: Sofia.]

Sofia is essentially a town of progress. During the past eighteen months
whole streets of new villas have sprung up upon its outskirts, and such
a rush has there lately been for building plots that our Foreign
Office—who want to build a new Legation—are unable to get any decent
site in a central position. Sofia is just now in the transition stage.
Great new public buildings and fine boulevards are springing up
everywhere. There is a beautiful new theatre, a new post office, a new
Agricultural Bank, and hosts of minor structures, all spacious and well
built, which, in themselves, show Bulgaria to be a country of rapid
advancement.

Unlike some other Balkan countries, there seems no lack of money here.
Just now, for example, it is proposed to expend a little matter of
fourteen million francs upon roads in the Principality, and the cost of
the new market-halls and other buildings will probably be prodigious.

But the Bulgar is essentially a thrifty person. During the past twenty
years he has transformed his capital from a wretched little Turkish town
into a really handsome city. In twenty years to come, at the present
rate of progress, it will be the Brussels of the East, for it is
modelled upon the same plan.

Sofia is a city of quaint contrasts. Fine modern shops, where one can
obtain the latest Parisian perfumes, the latest French _modes_, or
expensive table delicacies, are hopelessly mixed up with the Turkish
stalls where sallow-faced men are squatting at work, or sitting
pensively at the seat of custom. The Sofia tradesman likes to expose his
wares, whatever they may be, in the street, for in that he still retains
the trace of the trade manners of the Turk. The pavements of the main
streets are heaped with wares—fish in barrels, meat, groceries, live
fowls, live pigs tied to lamp-posts, and among it all jostle the
passers-by.

The broad Maria Luisa Ulitza, the Dondukoff Boulevard, or the Pirotska
Ulitza are, on a Friday, the market-day, crowded with peasants in the
most picturesque costume of all the Balkans. Until a year or two ago the
skirts and head-dresses were of white linen embroidered, but in these
modern times the women dye all their white clothes a pale blue.
Therefore they all seem to wear the same delicate shade. The married
women have their heads covered with a pale blue handkerchief, and wear a
heavy silver girdle; but the village maidens all have their hair parted
in the middle and hanging in a hundred small plaits with sequins down
their backs, while over the left ear they wear a bunch of fresh flowers,
which gives them a most coquettish appearance. The skirt is short,
always hand-embroidered, and sometimes studded with gold sequins, while
over all is worn a short jacket of sheepskin with the wool inside,
rendering them somewhat podgy.

The men from the country, a fine tall race, wear embroidered costumes,
the jackets of dark stuff flowered in pale blue and ornamented with
hundreds of pearl buttons, tight white trousers embroidered at the
knees, and the inevitable round cap, without which no Bulgar is
complete.

I spent one amusing morning with Mr. James Bourchier, the well-known
Balkan correspondent of the _Times_, who is six months each year
resident in Sofia. He was on the local committee of the Balkan
Exhibition at Earl’s Court while I was on the London committee, and our
mission was to discover in the market some good-looking peasant girls to
go to the wilds of West Kensington. He had already been to several
villages, but the girls, he said, were rather chary of going so far from
home, even though assured by their local Mayor of their well-being and
safe return.

On the particular day of our visit to the market my journalistic friend
had arranged to meet the Mayor of one of the neighbouring villages—a
peasant—and with his aid try induce some of the best-looking girls to
grace the Bulgarian Section of the Exhibition. The village Mayor being
prevented from joining us, we determined to start upon a voyage of
discovery ourselves.

It was a rather formidable undertaking. We, however, spent an amusing
morning; but though we talked with many comely girls with flowers in
their hair, we somehow were unable to impress any of them with the
advantages of a free trip to London. Unfortunately, they did not take
us at all seriously; there was a good deal of tittering at our
proposals, and the market with its vegetables, its sucking-pigs on
strings, and its turkeys tied head downwards on cross-sticks, was
drawn blank. We could only hope that next Friday, with the presence of
the confidence-inspiring Mayor, we might be more successful.

[Illustration:

  HIS EXCELLENCY DR. DIMITRI STANCIOFF,
  Bulgarian Minister of Foreign Affairs.
]

As a matter of fact, a few days later, accompanied by my friend, M.
Dimitri Stancioff, of the Commercial Department of the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs, and M. Mandersheff, another functionary from the same
Ministry, we took carriages out to the picturesque village of Vladaja,
some seventeen kilometres from Sofia on the broad highroad that leads to
Kustendil and Macedonia. The drive was a delightful one in the bright
winter sunshine, through a fertile undulating country, until, turning
off from the well-kept military road, we found ourselves in a small
village lying in a deep dark ravine.

Here the costumes were very quaint and interesting, the men in long
blouses of white blanket-like woollen stuff trimmed with black, raw-hide
shoes, and their legs bound with leather thongs; while the women and
girls wore gay colours, short lace-edged petticoats, and quantities of
gold sequins and coins about their necks. Some of those strings of coins
were worth at least from fifteen to twenty pounds.

Our journey of investigation was distinctly humorous. Sometimes the four
of us could not agree as to the personal beauty of a fair candidate for
the approbation of the British public, while those we spoke to were
mostly shy to answer our questions. Many of the village girls flatly
refused to leave their homes unless their lovers were also employed in
the Exhibition, but after much explanation, a good deal of chaff, and
considerable giggling, the names of several were taken in order that
inquiries should be made of the village Mayor before the presentation
and signature of their agreement, which provided for their fare to
London, the payment of their wages, their insurance for the benefit of
their family in case of accident, and their safe return to Bulgaria at
the termination of the Exhibition.

We engaged one flute-player—a tall, dark-faced young giant in
sheepskins—after he had displayed his aptness with his instrument. The
local _han_, wherein we rested, drank _rakhi_, and ate cream-cheese, was
a big common room with earthen floor. In the centre was a large stove,
upon which was cooking some steaming dish with appetising odour. Around
us sat dozens of huge burly fellows, bulky in their sheepskins,
gossiping and drinking wine, a fierce-looking assembly, to be sure, and
yet withal extremely good-humoured.

After a while, the village musician was discovered, a short little
fellow who played a quaint kind of two-stringed violin, and almost as
soon as he sounded the weird, plaintive music, young girls with flowers
entwined in their long plaited tresses, and others, slightly older, with
the white handkerchiefs on their heads—the badge of matrimony—came
trooping forth to perform for us the national dance—the _horo_.

Forming in a line, the youths and maidens crossed arms, linked their
hands in each other’s belts, and then began a curious kind of dance,
keeping step with the music and ever advancing and retreating, keeping
it up for a full half-hour. Now and then the tune was changed, and with
the tune the dance.

In the clear Eastern afterglow of evening, with the thin crescent moon
slowly rising, it was a quaint and curious scene. The weird music, the
strange costumes, the cries of the dancers, and the merry laughter of
the girls, will long live within my memory as a picture worthy the brush
of a great painter.

And as we drove back to Sofia through the silent, starlit night, I
wondered what impression those simple-minded folk, so far removed from
Western civilisation, would receive of our fairy-lamps, pasteboard,
tinsel, imitation mountains, brass bands, and water-chute at Earl’s
Court!

What would be the stories of their adventures in West Kensington and the
wonders of London when they returned to remote Vladaja?

I had, like every other Englishman, always regarded Bulgaria as a _terra
incognita_, where local manufactures were absent and where most goods
were imported. Therefore a surprise awaited me one day when Monsieur M.
V. Lascoff, Director of the Bulgarian Commercial and Industrial Museum
at Sofia, took me round that institution, and showed me specimens of the
various goods produced in the country. In the museum was a most
wonderful collection of articles representing the manufactures of
Bulgaria, ranging from violins to soap, and from table-covers
manufactured from beautifully embroidered jacket sleeves to writing-ink
and tinned fruits.

One of the prominent industries is the distillation of otto-of-roses in
the Shipka district, where in summer the whole country is covered with
blossom, an industry to which I will devote a chapter. Carpets, very
similar to the dark crimson-and-blue Persian varieties, and goat-hair
floor-coverings are made largely by the peasantry, who also weave by
hand wonderfully fine gauzes, tissues, and dress-stuffs. Felt hats,
blankets, pottery, and copies of antique filigree jewellery are also of
peasant manufacture, and are really wonderfully done. The stranger has
no idea, until shown this museum, of the rapid progress the country is
making commercially.

While passing round the museum I chanced to admire two pairs of very
fine antique silver earrings of rare design worn by the Bulgarian
peasants two centuries ago, whereupon the case was at once opened, and
they were presented to me as a little souvenir of my visit.

Sofia, being a brand-new city, is not, of course, quite perfect. It
requires, among other things, a good system of drainage and the
repavement of its streets. The latter work is to be commenced in a few
months’ time. A good first-class hotel, too, is also badly required. At
present the hotels, though clean, are poor and comfortless, and neither
they nor the restaurants do credit to the go-ahead character of the
progressive Bulgarians. All this, however, will soon be remedied, for I
heard of schemes for new hotels with fine restaurants and
winter-gardens. So in six months’ time the traveller may expect to be in
the full enjoyment of them, for in Sofia they do not talk, but act.

If you are anywhere in the Balkans and mention Sofia, you will be told,
with a sigh of regret, “Ah! they have a club there. We haven’t.” I had
heard this in Belgrade, in Sarayevo, in Ragusa, in Cettinje—in fact,
everywhere throughout the Balkans; therefore, with some curiosity I
entered the sacred portals of the much-talked-of club with my friend
Colonel Hubert du Cane, the British military attaché, and was elected a
member during my stay in the Bulgarian capital.

It certainly is a most excellent and comfortable club—one of the best I
know of on the whole of the Continent. The rooms are cosy and artistic,
and the members are most diplomats, Cabinet Ministers, and high
functionaries of the State. At lunch, representatives of most of the
European Powers assemble at the long table and chat merrily, while at
dinner, at the small table at the end, M. Petkoff,[1] the Premier; Dr.
Dimitri Stancioff, the Foreign Minister; and several other members of
the Cabinet, dine nightly at “the Ministers’ table.”

-----

Footnote 1:

  M. Petkoff has, since the present work has been in the press, been
  assassinated while walking in the Boris Garden in Sofia.

-----

The food is excellent, though there are, of course, some grumblers, and
the whole institution is conducted on similar lines to a first-class
London club. Perhaps the custom of personally introducing the stranger
to every single member of the club strikes the foreigner as a little
unnecessary, yet without doubt there is real good-fellowship existing,
such as is entirely absent in some other clubs I know—the English Club
in Brussels and the Florence Club in Florence, in particular.

Men, and especially the diplomats, find it a very great boon, for to go
to Sofia is to find a real good club and quite a host of good
cosmopolitan friends ever ready to show the stranger all kinds of
hospitality.

Social life is far from dull. Sport and games of every kind are most
popular. There is an excellent tennis club, hockey is played three or
four times a week, and large riding parties, personally conducted by
Baron Rubin de Cervin, the Italian military attaché, go out for long
jaunts into the neighbouring mountains several times each week. Then at
night there are constant dinners and receptions at the Legations, and
everyone seems to lead a very pleasant life, without a moment’s dulness.

[Illustration:

  HIS EXCELLENCY D. PETKOFF,
  Prime Minister of Bulgaria.
]

Lady Buchanan, wife of Sir George Buchanan, the British Minister, is the
principal hostess, and with her daughter is foremost in Sofia society.
Until ill-health prevented her recently, she was an ardent player of
hockey and tennis, and constantly in the saddle. Her entertainments are
always brilliant, and in her pretty salon one meets everyone who is
anyone in Sofia.

Again, the Military Club is another centre of social life. The building
is a handsome one, with an extremely fine ballroom, where dances, given
every week through the season, are attended by the elite of Sofia. I
went to one, and found it a particularly gay and brilliant function.

Government institutions in Sofia amazed me. They would do credit to any
European capital. The Agricultural Bank, the inner working of which I
was permitted by Monsieur N. Ghenadieff, Minister of Commerce, to
inspect, is a fine new building of huge dimensions, with a beautifully
ornamented board-room, and its operations no doubt tend much towards
securing the public prosperity of Bulgaria. M. Seraphimoff, the
Governor, who conducted me round, told me that the bank had its origin
in the time of the Turkish rule. As far back as 1863, the Governor of
the _vilayet_ of the Danube created small banks in order to aid the
peasants, the villagers repaying their loans in crops and the banks
selling the produce.

During the Russo-Turkish War, however, many of these banks lost their
capital, for the Turkish functionaries escaped with all the funds they
could place their hands upon. The Provisional Russian Government
re-established the banks, and they have continued to progress until the
present institution was founded. It now has eighty-five branch offices
in the principal towns and agents in most of the villages. Its direction
is under a governor and four directors nominated by Prince Ferdinand.
The operations of the institution are as follows: to accept deposits; to
grant loans on mortgages or securities; to grant loans upon cattle and
agricultural produce; to advance money to the peasants for the purchase
of cattle, seeds, or agricultural implements; to make personal loans; to
open current accounts with peasants; to buy agricultural implements,
seeds, and machinery for the peasants; to accept loans for departments
or communes; and for the transfer of securities. The interest charged or
given is 5 per cent. for deposits for five years, 4 per cent. for three
years, and 3 per cent. for one year. In 1901 the amount of the bank’s
operations was 535,575,182 francs, while in 1905 it amounted to
1,180,778,378 francs, thus showing how greatly it is appreciated by the
peasant, and of what enormous benefit it is to the country.

While there, I saw many uncouth peasants in their sheepskins from
far-distant villages come and obtain loans, repay their interest, or
make petition for their inability to pay. It is very apparent that all
of them greatly appreciate the fact that the Government is their
creditor and not the Jews.

Another institution which I inspected was the State printing press, a
fine building containing the latest machinery; and afterwards I was
shown the building of the magnificent new church of St. Alexander
Newsky, which, being constructed in blocks of white stone just behind
the old church of St. Sophia, is costing over three million francs, and
is to be in memory of the Russian liberator of Bulgaria.

Truly, everywhere one turns in Sofia one sees some new buildings, for
signs of rapid progress and up-to-dateness are on every hand.

Bulgaria, with Servia, is surely destined to expand in the near future,
and the “big Bulgaria” must some day ere long be an accomplished fact.

[Illustration: The Royal Palace: Sofia.]

[Illustration: The Main Boulevard: Sofia.]



                               CHAPTER II
                    BULGARIA AS A FIELD FOR BRITISH
                               ENTERPRISE

Audiences of members of the Bulgarian Cabinet—Dr. Dimitri Stancioff,
    Minister for Foreign Affairs, the coming man of Bulgaria—His
    policy—Facts about the mineral wealth and mining laws—Advice to
    traders and capitalists by the British Vice-Consul in Sofia—Our
    methods as compared with those of other nations.


One of the objects of my observations being to point out where British
capital can, with advantage and security, be employed in the Balkans, I
made, while in Sofia, very careful and exhaustive inquiry.

Information was given me by the late Premier, M. D. Petkoff; the new
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Dimitri Stancioff; and by M.
Ghenadieff, the Minister of Commerce, who was also interesting himself
very actively in the Balkan Exhibition at Earl’s Court. To these three
members of the Bulgarian Cabinet, and to His Royal Highness Prince
Ferdinand himself, I have to acknowledge my thanks for placing all
information at my disposal. The Minister for Foreign Affairs deputed his
cousin, Monsieur D. M. Stancioff, of the Commercial Department of the
Ministry, to accompany me everywhere and explain everything. I was given
a perfectly free hand to go when and where I liked, and, as His
Excellency put it, “to see Bulgaria just as I pleased.”

The Bulgarians are nothing if not thoroughly businesslike. I was
particularly requested by the Ministers not to paint the country in
_couleur de rose_. One member of the Cabinet said, as I stood in the
corner of the ballroom of the Military Club one night, “We would like
the English to know exactly what they can find in Bulgaria, and how we
shall treat them. Don’t flatter us, and cause English capitalists to
expect too much. We have good paying investments for them—if they will
only come here.”

I took a good deal of trouble in going very minutely into this very
important question, and found the Government ready and eager to give
every facility to British capitalists to exploit the great mineral
wealth in their country. The mining laws are just, and extremely
favourable to secure absolute rights to those who invest. The Government
have established in Sofia a Mining Department under the Ministry of
Commerce, where specimens of ore may be seen, and where every
information can be obtained. By the courtesy of M. T. Michailowsky, the
able Director of this Department, I was afforded an opportunity of
inspecting the various collections, and was given much information of
intense interest.

It seems that up to the present time the Government have given
thirty-one concessions, mostly to French, Russian, Belgian, and Italian
capitalists. Of these, sixteen are for coal, four for copper, two for
manganese, two for iron, two for lead, two for zinc, and one for
oil-bearing minerals. There are no English companies in Bulgaria at
present, but I was informed by the Minister of Commerce that the
greatest attention would be paid to any serious application from
England. There are known to exist in the district of Bourgas, on the
Black Sea, very rich copper deposits, also in the Vraza district, and in
Belogradjik, near the Danube.

Two kinds of “permits for research” are granted by the Government. The
first—a general one to search in any part of Bulgaria—is given free, but
with a personal guarantee that any damage done will be made good. The
second is a permit for a special place, which must not be of greater
extent than 8,000,000 square metres, and for this is charged eighty
francs. This lasts for two years. After this time, if a concession is
desired, the Department make inquiries in order to see if the proposed
mine bears sufficient to justify its working. This having been
decided—which takes about a month, or at most two—the Prince issues a
decree, and the concession is granted for ever. No deposit is required,
but the Government takes, for each hectare, three francs per annum for
coals, and four francs per annum for minerals. They also tax the output
at the rate of one per cent. Machinery and material enter the country
free of duty, and as far as I was able to judge, the Bulgarians make
excellent workmen, being very sober, industrious, and obedient. At
present, however, there is large emigration, for there is not sufficient
work for the four and a half millions of people in the country.

[Illustration: HIS EXCELLENCY N. GHENADIEFF, Bulgarian Minister of
Commerce.]

One colliery is worked by the Government at Pernik, and this supplies
the railways, the city of Sofia, and the many industrial enterprises
with about 200,000 tons of excellent coal yearly. All the other mines
are just starting to work, and show prospects of splendid profits.

The copper mine at Vraza, which is exploited by Monsieur Maurocordato of
Constantinople—who has invested about 600,000 francs—has, in two years,
repaid itself, thus showing that there are mines in Bulgaria, and very
rich ones indeed.

All the concessions already granted show great futures, but
unfortunately, with the exception of the Vraza enterprise, the
concessionaires lack capital.

The Bulgarian Mining Law is a very liberal one, being an exception to
the laws of most other countries, for it has been drawn up specially to
induce the investment of foreign capital, as well as to secure the
interests of shareholders. The people of Bulgaria are not rich enough to
exploit their mines themselves, and for that reason the mining industry
of the country must of necessity be in the hands of the foreigner.

When making my inquiries, M. R. S. Kossef, Director of the Commercial
Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was most particular that
I should say nothing that was not absolutely true regarding the mines.
“We do not wish to attract capitalists to Bulgaria by means of
advertisement,” he said. “We wish them to know that they will here find
a good return for their investments, and that if they exploit our mines,
we, on our part, will treat them justly—even generously.”

Besides minerals, Bulgaria is extremely rich in mineral springs—the one
at Banki, seventeen kilometres from Sofia, being about to be exploited
this year, when a very handsome bath establishment and hotel are to be
constructed. The source is situated in the valley beneath the Lubin
mountain, and an automobile service is to be established with Sofia.
This spring gives 1200 litres a minute, and has been pronounced by a
number of first-class authorities in Germany and France to be a water
almost unexcelled in Europe. Other springs abound all over the country,
and so important are they, indeed, that the Government have issued a
large coloured map of them.

In Sofia itself, close to the old mosque, are well-known sulphur baths.
There is a project for building a bath establishment, but to do so it
would mean the pulling down of the mosque in question. The Turks would
not object so much if a new mosque could be built, but it seems that the
difficulties of construction are very great, so for the present the
matter remains in abeyance.

In the whole of Bulgaria over two hundred thermal and mineral springs
are known, and they are situated in eighty different districts. The
department of Sofia alone contains twenty-three, the warmest being at
Dolna-Banja. The more important of the others are at Kniajevo, Gorva,
Banja, and Pantcherevo. Then there are the renowned warm springs at
Verschetz, in the department of Vratza, while in the department of
Plovdiv (Philippopoli) there are more than forty springs, the principal
of them being at Hissar. This, perhaps the most reputed in all the
Orient, is situated in the valley of Tchepino, in the centre of the
Rhodopes Mountains. At Lidji, near Bourgas, and at Sliven, there are
establishments on the latest modern principle. Another which is being
actively exploited is the waters of Meritchteri, in Stara-Zagora, which
are declared by analysts to be quite equal to those of Carlsbad, and
which are believed to have a great future before them. Dr. Ernst Hintz,
of Wiesbaden, has written a book upon these particular waters, and has
given exhaustive analyses.

[Illustration: Early Morning in Sofia.]

[Illustration: On the road to the Shipka.]

There are also minor waters in the town of Kustendil and in dozens of
other villages and towns all over Bulgaria.

Again, to encourage intending pioneers of new branches of industry, it
is interesting to note that the industries in actual existence are
making great progress. The numerous spinning mills and cloth factories
in Eastern Roumelia have been enlarged, while the Varna Cotton Mill,
whose headquarters are in Manchester, employs nearly seven hundred
hands, and in 1905 paid a dividend of 10 per cent.

As regards British trade in Bulgaria, the attention of the English
manufacturer has been repeatedly drawn, in trade reports from the
Consulate in Sofia, to the energetic measures adopted by foreign
competitors to secure the Bulgarian market for themselves. As Germany’s
rivalry is by far the most formidable, it may be well to briefly
illustrate the methods by which that country is steadily absorbing the
trade of the Near East, as explained to me by Mr. Toulmin, British
Vice-Consul in Sofia. Not only do the principal German importers have
capable agents established in the more important towns throughout
Bulgaria to push the sale of their goods, but they also send at regular
intervals experienced travellers who thoroughly investigate the
commercial condition of the country in its various trade centres, take
note of the wants and requirements of the population, and enter into
direct relations with the retail trader. They are, moreover, instructed
to do business at any cost, and are authorised to give credit for a year
or even longer. By their readiness to accept the smallest order, by
scrupulously adhering to conditions and specifications, and by strictly
supplying goods according to sample approved, German importers are now
reaping the fruits of a painstaking and methodical commercial policy,
which menaces even Austria-Hungary’s hitherto unassailed supremacy. The
importance, therefore, of sending out to Bulgaria representatives with
some knowledge of French or German cannot be too strongly impressed on
British manufacturers. It may be well to mention that a gentleman,
representing a well-known Birmingham firm dealing in hardware, called at
the Consulate at Sofia a few months ago, and expressed himself as highly
satisfied with the result of his fortnight’s business tour in Bulgaria.

By the employment of commercial travellers, the translation of their
catalogues, if not into Bulgarian, at any rate into French or German,
the use of the metric system of weights and measures, the conversion of
sterling into francs and centimes, and by giving longer credit—by these
means only can British merchants hope to compete successfully with their
foreign rivals.

[Illustration: The Bulgarian Sobranje.]



                              CHAPTER III
                       WILL BULGARIA DECLARE WAR?

A sitting of the Sobranje—Declarations by the Prime Minister and Dr.
    Stancioff—The new Minister of Foreign Affairs—A sound progressive
    government—Strong army and firm policy—Will the deplorable state of
    Macedonia still be tolerated?—Ominous words.


It was a bitterly cold November evening when, accompanied by Sir George
Buchanan, I entered the Sobranje, or Bulgarian Parliament, to hear the
Ministerial statement upon the future policy of Bulgaria and her
attitude towards Turkey.

A great high-roofed square chamber, enamelled entirely in white and
picked out with gold. At one end a high, red-carpeted daïs with the
throne, behind which hung a full-length portrait of Prince Ferdinand.
Upon an escutcheon above, the Bulgarian lion on a crimson shield. Below
the empty throne, a long red-covered table, where sat the President, a
short, grey-haired little man, who from time to time rang a musical
gong; and in the arena, on a scarlet carpet, rows of horse-shoe benches
half filled by deputies. On the right, at a table placed at an angle,
sat the Ministers. First was Monsieur Petkoff, the Prime Minister, the
most prominent man in Bulgaria, and who has, alas! since shared the fate
of his friend the late Stambouloff; next Dr. Stancioff, the newly
appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs; the Minister of War in a dark
blue uniform with a white cross at his throat; and the Ministers of
Justice, Commerce, and Finance.

Above, around three sides of the huge white-and-gold hall, the galleries
were crowded by the public, while over all big arc lamps shed their
white brilliancy. With us in the diplomats’ gallery sat the Prince’s
confidential secretary, M. Dobrovitch, the German Minister, the
representatives of Turkey and Roumania, Colonel H. du Cane, the British
military attaché, and numbers of other diplomats.

The House was silent. Every ear was strained to catch the Premier’s
words, for it was he who was now speaking. A rather short, grey-bearded
figure, just past the prime, whose left hand as he gesticulated only
showed a stump. He lost it at the Shipka, and as patriot and politician
he was leader of his party—a party of progress, that has been four years
in power with an overwhelming majority.

For the past four hours he had been speaking fluently, easily, without
interruption, forecasting the future policy of Bulgaria—the policy which
is designed to lead the country to prosperity. Bulgaria had long waited
for this, and every word was now being listened to with rapt attention.

On those benches below sat representatives of the people, men of every
class—lawyers, shopkeepers, peasants in their white linen or brown
homespun suits, and even Turks. Surely this Sobranje is essentially a
representative gathering.

Now and then came a spontaneous outburst of applause, very marked when
the Prime Minister dwelt upon the cordial relations with Roumania and
their identical aims with regard to Macedonia. Everyone applauded—all
save one little section of benches on the extreme left—a mere handful of
men—the Opposition. So small are they that they really do not seem to
count. Nobody took any notice of them. With their backs to the holy ikon
of burnished gold and highly finished religious pictures, they sat
facing the Ministers, who were, of course, ever confronted by the emblem
of their faith.

[Illustration: GEN. MICHAEL SAVOFF, Bulgarian Minister of War.]

This speech, being in Bulgarian, was kindly translated to me by M.
Dobrovitch, the Prince’s private secretary. He said—

“To-day neither the Macedonian people nor Bulgaria nor Turkey are the
same states which they were fifteen years ago. In consideration of the
solution of the Macedonian question, we have to reckon with several
factors. The most important of them is that we ought to be ready at a
moment’s notice. We have to be strong! Europe acts and reforms in
Macedonia. No Bulgarian Government can foresee what to expect or how the
events will develop themselves. We must try to be one of the arbitrary
factors in the solution of the Macedonian question, and therefore we
must be armed. We have no intention of annexing Macedonia, but we wish
to better the positions of our compatriots. It is in the interest of
Turkey to reform Macedonia and to shake off all exterior influence. When
even Roumania arms herself for a few countrymen, ought we not also to
arm? We are only a small nation, but in order to be safe we ought to
have a strong army. It is said that such an army would be a luxury. That
would be only the case, then, if we could not help ourselves without
assistance. It is our duty to keep an army ready, for it is only in so
doing that we shall be considered of any consequence when the solution
of the Macedonian question arrives. A weak country is of no importance.
Such a country only serves as a toy for others.

“With regard to her culture, agriculture, and her politics, Bulgaria is
to-day in a different condition than heretofore. Though we do not
acknowledge any progress, other countries see that Bulgaria has made in
twenty years a very great progress and that she still is developing in
large strides. We possess in the Balkan Peninsula a very important
point, where many interests join. The most important, however, is to
hope and to rely on our own strength.”

Dealing with the foreign policy of Bulgaria, the Prime Minister said—

“They tell us that Bulgaria has no friends. On the contrary, we possess
the friendship of all States. Our relations with other nations are not
at all the same as we found them in the beginning. No unimportant
_contretemps_ can disturb our relations with Russia. I am in the
position to proclaim that Bulgaria possesses the sympathy of all other
nations. The fact that our commercial contract with Austria-Hungary is
not yet signed does not say that our relations with each other are not
friendly. Even the two parties of that country are not on good terms,
and they cannot decide the contract. M. Todoroff has said that our
relations to Turkey are rather strained. That is not true: it is the
most difficult thing to enter into any contracts with Turkey. In spite
of those difficulties, we have signed some smaller contracts. It is also
said that Servia has been playing with us, in not showing us the tariff
unions of the Skupshtina. Now, Servia is under pressure from
Austria-Hungary, and at the time that this proposition was brought
before the Skupshtina it could not be carried by a majority of two
votes. That was not sufficient for us. Servia began to export her goods
_viâ_ Varna, and up to to-day no fewer than 4000 waggons of corn have
been exported _viâ_ Varna. Is that no success for our railways?

“Our relations with our neighbours are formed on a purely economical
basis. We mean to further our industry! But this economical basis has
nothing to do with the great and pressing Macedonian question. We only
wish to keep up friendly relations with Roumania. We try to keep our
relations with our neighbours in order, and we count upon success. In
which way shall we reach this success? That surely is our own affair! I
have finished. You see that our policy is a policy of peace. However,
remember that peace can only be protected with arms in the hand,
therefore we wish to enlarge our army. In case we have to incur expenses
for our army, we shall ask them from you without embarrassment. You may
call that bravado on our part, but we shall still do our duty; for peace
to-day means an armed peace. Led by a policy of peace, we shall try to
keep up good relations with all the nations, and we shall do everything
possible to render assistance to our brethren in Macedonia. We shall not
court war, for that might cost us our liberty. You think we are ready to
draw our swords, you believe we want to deliver Macedonia through a war?
I tell you that we only want to continue our former policy and walk on
with courage.”

The Prime Minister, with a final wave of his maimed hand, resumed his
seat amid a loud outburst of applause from both deputies and the general
public in the long galleries of the great white-and-gold Chamber. Only
we, in the diplomats’ gallery, were silent—with the Opposition, of
course.

[Illustration:

  His Excellency L. PAYACOFF,
  Bulgarian Minister of Finance.
]

[Illustration:

  SIR GEORGE BUCHANAN,
  British Minister at Sofia.

  _Photo_]            [_Elliott & Fry._
]

The sitting was a historic one in the annals of Bulgaria, and ere the
applause had died away, the President, on the red-carpeted platform,
rang his gong violently, and called upon the newly appointed Minister of
Foreign Affairs to make his declaration upon Bulgaria’s future policy.

Dr. Stancioff, who until recently was Bulgarian diplomatic agent in St.
Petersburg, rose from his seat at the Ministers’ table—a dark,
good-looking, middle-aged man—a trifle nervous perhaps at addressing the
Chamber for the first time in his new position.

A dead silence followed. Bulgaria awaited the statement with breathless
eagerness. They had heard the Premier’s declaration regarding Macedonia.
What would the Foreign Minister say?

The blue-uniformed attendants took up their positions against the dead
white panelling of the Chamber, lending the necessary colour to complete
the picturesqueness of the scene, while the great arc lamps hissed above
as they shed their bright white light over the rows of deputies upon the
horseshoe benches. On the wall, straight before the Ministers’ table,
the burnished gold of the holy ikon shone to remind them of their duty
to the Almighty and to the nation. For a few moments all was silent.

Then Dr. Stancioff, the new man of Bulgaria, cleared his throat, and in
Bulgar made the following clear, deliberate, and concise statement, of
which the following is a translation. It is, as will be seen, a direct
pronunciation of foreign policy—a firm policy, which may very probably
mean war with Turkey at a no distant date. Indeed, war is in the air in
Bulgaria, and over the Macedonian question may come at any moment;
therefore the Minister’s actual words may, with advantage to the future,
be repeated here.

He said—

“Gentlemen, the Minister President has just given an ample exposition of
the policy the Government has followed up to the present moment, and the
course which it has marked out for itself for the future: on this point,
therefore, there is but little left for me to say, as a member of this
Government, and as one who is willing to bear the responsibility of his
acts before this honourable Assembly.

“Under these circumstances, if I speak, it is chiefly that my silence
may not give rise to misinterpretation, and in order to underline the
words my colleague has said.

“Without doubt, you remember, gentlemen, that I have held the post of
Foreign Minister only a few days, and I am under no obligation to enter
into any explanation of the policy followed before my nomination, and on
the debates, interpellations, and the opinions that it has called forth.
Therefore I shall limit myself to saying a few words on the policy that
we are going to follow for the future.

“There are two questions I wish to discuss. Firstly, our relations with
the Great Powers; and secondly, what is to be our policy in regard to
what I must call the question of questions—Macedonia.

“First of all, I am glad to be able to state that our relations with the
Great Powers are of the best.

“This fact is always being confirmed by the notifications which we
receive from abroad.

“By the line of peaceful development which she has traced for herself,
and which she has never ceased to pursue, by the honourable manner in
which she fulfils all her international engagements, and by the clear
comprehension which she has of her position in the Balkans, Bulgaria is
gaining more and more the sympathy and esteem of the Great Powers.

“It would be superfluous to mention in detail our relations with each
separate State. Nevertheless, I wish to point out the happy fact that as
to what concerns our relation with Russia—the Liberating Power—they are
what they ought to be when one considers the ties which bind us to her,
when one considers the ties which unite the two Slav people, and when
one considers all that Bulgaria owes to Russia. Our relations with
Russia are of the best, and it will always be the Government’s endeavour
to render them even more cordial.

“Economic as well as political considerations bind us to
Austria-Hungary. These interests compel us to maintain relations as
cordial as possible with this Great Power.

“Our friendship with Germany, England, France, and Italy is dear to us.
We greatly appreciate the sympathy of which these countries have given
us so many proofs, and it will be our care, guided by the interests of
our country, to consolidate and ameliorate these relations.

“As regards our relations with the neighbouring States, I assert that
those with Roumania are, as they ought to be, the best and the most
cordial. We appreciate at its true value our sincere friendship with
Roumania, and it will be our task to preserve it.

“Our relations with Servia are good. We desire to cultivate a
neighbourly policy with this State. It is a policy suited to two sister
nations, and we shall cultivate it in accordance with the point of view
that Bulgaria has cultivated for so long. I may add that, to gain this
end, we shall do all that is in our power.

“As to our relations with Montenegro, it suffices to say that ancient
sympathies, the reciprocity of which has never been denied, bind us to
this State. Our sympathies perpetuate the nature of these relations with
our valiant sister nation, and assure us that they can only be good and
cordial.

“From a diplomatic point of view, our relations with Greece are good and
normal; the regrettable incidents which took place last summer in
certain portions of our country belong to the Department of the
Interior. They are, so to speak, a family matter; they cannot, and must
not, be allowed to darken relations between the two countries, who in
their common interests will guard against a modification so undesirable.

“There only remains for me to speak of our relations with Turkey.

“I will be brief, though I could speak at great length upon this
subject.

“Our relations can only be good, or sincerely good. At the present
moment they are only ‘good.’ Before they can become ‘sincerely’ good it
is necessary that the two countries should be convinced not only of the
utility of friendly relations, but also that their interests, political
and economic, demand other relations than those that exist at the
moment. As regards ourselves, who take this matter at its true
valuation, it will be our task to do our utmost to prove to Turkey that
we justly estimate these interests, and are prepared to pursue a sincere
policy, provided that, on her side, she gives us pledges of her
reciprocity.

“You will be able to estimate what that policy is by the attitude that
we have taken up regarding the Macedonian question. This is a European
question, but that does not hinder it from being, at the same time, both
a Bulgarian and a Turkish question. First of all, I declare that the
Bulgarian Government is far from having conceived the idea of provoking
or imposing a solution of the Macedonian question by violent means. But
our Government recognises the significance of this vital question for
our country, it justly estimates the violence with which this question
reflects itself upon the inner life of the Principality, and this
renders it necessary to closely observe its development and its
solution.

“The Macedonian question is in the hands of the Great Powers, who have
taken upon themselves the task of introducing into Macedonia reforms
assuring to the population of this country a development at once more
orderly and more free. It is true that in this respect up to the present
an altogether satisfactory result has not yet been achieved, and that
the Bulgarian population of Macedonia and the _vilayet_ of Adrianople
still have to face complications. But the Government hopes that the good
work they have begun will make progress. The Government will take every
measure to keep itself currently informed of the situation in Macedonia,
and will do everything in its power to at all times assist the
interested Governments, and insist with all its energy upon the
amelioration of the condition of the people of this country. The
Government think that the representation they are going to make to the
Great Powers in regard to a prompter and more energetic carrying out of
the essential reforms in Macedonia is not incompatible with having good
and cordial relations with Turkey. On the contrary, they consider that
action of this nature suggests a more normal conception of the
reciprocal interests of the two countries, and that it will induce the
Government of His Majesty the Sultan to adopt a totally different
attitude in regard to the Bulgarian population of Macedonia—an attitude
which will conduce to its peace, and which will be, at the same time, an
important factor in the destinies of the Empire itself.

[Illustration]

[Illustration: Military Manœuvres in Bulgaria.]

“We make no mental reservations with regard to Turkey. We do not dream
of conquest or annexation. But the Bulgarian nation cannot look coolly
on while our blood-brothers (those of our own blood) are being subjected
to such ordeals as those they are suffering in Turkey. In the name of
reciprocity, in the name of justice and of humanity, the Bulgarian
nation demands that the right of existence, and that the right of free
development in their nationality, and its religion, be granted to the
Bulgarians of Macedonia. She demands that their right of enjoying the
fruits of their labour be recognised.

“The Government has the strongest convictions on the subject of the
national duty, and will not waver in carrying them out. It is the
fulfilling of this duty which must constitute the foundation of friendly
relations with Turkey, and in this matter the Government will stand
firm.

“The arming of our military forces must, of necessity, be a
contradiction. We live in the era of armed peace, and we must not lose
sight of the fact that the peace of Europe is due, if not entirely, at
any rate in great part, to the formidable armament that each country
keeps up. Bulgaria, though small, cannot evade this essential, if she
wishes to live in peace.”

Dr. Stancioff resumed his seat amid thunders of applause.

Parliament shortly afterwards adjourned, and we went home to snatch a
hasty dinner and put on our war-paint for the smart ball at the Military
Club.

Will Bulgaria declare war against Turkey? That was that night, and still
is, the question on everyone’s lips in Sofia.



                               CHAPTER IV
                 THE BULGARIAN EXARCHATE AND THE PORTE

A difficult and little-understood problem—Bulgaria the “dark horse” of
    the Peninsula—An explanation of the question between Bulgaria and
    Turkey—The Bulgarian Church and the Imperial Firman—The present
    position of the Exarchate—Europe should listen to the Bulgarian
    demand—Chats with Macedonian orphans—Their terrible stories.


The question of the Bulgarian Exarchate and the Porte is of paramount
importance in Bulgaria at the present moment—a very difficult problem
which the Government have to face.

So little is it understood in England, even by those professing to be
_au courant_ with the Balkan question, that I may perhaps be pardoned if
I endeavour to render the situation intelligible. “What does Bulgaria
want?” is the question so very often asked. What she really wants, and
what are her aims, will, I hope, be shown in the following pages.

Bulgaria, it must always be remembered, is with Servia, the coming
mistress of the Balkans. She is the “dark horse” of the Peninsula. Her
power is admitted, but the extent of her force cannot be gauged. One
thing is certain, that the present Government being an essentially
strong one, and Dr. Stancioff, the Foreign Minister, a man of action,
Bulgaria will no longer sit still and allow her people in Macedonia to
be decimated as they now are daily.

In view of this, therefore, it will perhaps be of interest to explain
impartially at some little length the question which it is feared must,
ere long, bring Turkey and Bulgaria face to face.

Ever since the liberation of Bulgaria up to the present moment the
Bulgarian Exarchate has led a perturbed existence.

As long ago as the Russo-Turkish War it had to undergo serious trials,
the Exarch being obliged to recall the Bulgarian bishops from the
Macedonian diocese. When, after the Treaty of Berlin, he attempted to
restore them to their former sees and to complete the organisation of
the Bulgarian Church—in accordance with the Imperial Firman of May 16,
1870—by establishing a Synod and a Mixed Council, the Exarch received in
1883 from the Turkish Minister of Justice the following significant
answer:—

“When we determine to grant you a status in the _vilayets_, then only we
shall consider the matter of your administration.”

So that, after an existence of only three years, the Bulgarian Exarchate
found its right of having a status in the _vilayets_ put in question.
This, however, did not discourage the Exarch. On the contrary, he
redoubled his efforts. Relying upon the Imperial Firman, and assisted by
the Bulgarian Government, he succeeded in winning for the Exarchate an
official status in Macedonia, insisting at the same time on the
formation of a Synod and a Mixed Council, attached to the Exarchate.

At the present day the authority of the Exarchate in Macedonia extends
over seven dioceses, namely, Uskub, Ochrida, Debr, Monastir, Veless,
Nevrokop, and Stroumitza. In addition to these, there are still ten
bishoprics which, contrary to the Firman, remain vacant, because the
Sultan refuses to grant the indispensable _berats_. During the period
referred to, the Exarchate was also deprived of its right of
representation at Sketcha and Malgara (_vilayet_ of Adrianople), whose
religious communities were suspended in 1897 by the Grand Vizier Rifaat
Pasha. The Bulgarian chapel at Sketcha remains to this day under seals
placed by the Imperial authorities, and consequently inaccessible to the
spiritual needs of the Bulgarian population in that place.

The question of the Mixed Council and the Synod still remains open. The
solution of this question is of supreme moment to the Exarchate and to
the Bulgarian Government. This is due to the position and importance of
the religious communities in the Turkish Empire.

For the better understanding of the bearing of the issues involved, it
will be perhaps necessary to refer to the history of the Turkish Empire
and its attitude towards Bulgaria.

As is well known, instead of trying to assimilate the Christian nations
which they had conquered, the Turks always considered themselves masters
of those whom they had vanquished. Their system of government in this
respect is, of course, in perfect agreement with the spirit of their
religion. The Koran subdivides all countries into two distinct groups:
first those belonging to Islam, and secondly those under the domination
of the giaours (infidels), with whom Islam was in a state of permanent
war. The true believers, the followers of the Prophet, were declared
rulers of the infidels. These purely theocratic principles of State
organisation form, until this day, the basis of the Ottoman Empire.

As exponents of these principles, the Osmanlis did not attempt, after
the conquest of Byzantium, to impose on their new subjects the Turkish
State institutions or civil laws. Although despised and humiliated, the
_rayas_ continued to enjoy privileges which, in many respects, remind
one of those subsequently granted by the capitulations to the foreign
Christians. The place of the rulers of the conquered nations was now
occupied by the representatives of their Church. As an instance,
Mohammed II., conqueror of Constantinople, conferred upon the Patriarch
of Constantinople the title of Miletbashi (Chief of the Nation), and
entrusted to him the administration of the secular and spiritual
interests of his flock. These same prerogatives were also granted to the
Bulgarian Patriarchs of Tirnovo and Ochrida, as representatives of the
Bulgarian nation. The spiritual leaders of the conquered races
delegated, in their turn, part of their attributes to their
inferiors—bishops and priests.

[Illustration: Peasants at Vladaja: Bulgaria.]

[Illustration: Bulgarian Military Types.]

In this way, the clergy formed a body of functionaries invested with
large administrative and judicial powers. Every religious community was
entrusted with the repartition of the State taxes among the members of
the community, and was responsible for their payment into the State
Exchequer. In a word, the spiritual head of a Christian race was at the
same time its civil representative before the Turkish authorities. As
regards the Bulgarian nation, this mission was confided, down to the
year 1770, to its Patriarchs—at first, to the Patriarchs of Tirnovo and
Ochrida, and, later on, to that of the latter place—until the abolition
of the Patriarchate of Ochrida, which was brought about by the intrigues
of the Greeks.

The fact remains that during several centuries the Christians in the
Turkish Empire—and among them the Bulgarians—have, owing to this
peculiarity of the Turkish State policy, enjoyed a relative
independence, and in this way have been able to preserve their
nationality, language, and customs. These exceptional historical
circumstances explain at the same time why, among these Christians, the
sentiment of patriotism has been transformed into an attachment to their
religious communities and their national Church.

This sentiment of patriotism and spiritual consciousness, which, owing
to the oppression exercised by the Greek clergy, after the year 1770 had
weakened to the extent of national self-forgetfulness and identification
with the Greeks, awakened once more among the Bulgarians during the
second half of last century. It acquired great force in the course of
the struggle for the restoration of the ancient national Church. This
new struggle began at the time of the Tanzimat, a period when the Porte
had to fight against the growing omnipotence of the Patriarchate, which
was threatening the very foundations of the State. It had, as its legal
support, the Hatti-Houmayoun of 1856, which reverted to the historical
rights of all religious communities. The second part of Section II. of
this Act runs as follows:—

“Chaque communauté Chrétienne ou d’autre rite non-musulman sera tenue,
dans un délai fixé et avec le concours d’une commission formée _ad hoc_
dans son sein, de procéder, avec ma haute approbation et sous la
surveillance de ma Sublime Porte, à l’examen de ses immunités et
privilèges et d’y discuter et soumettre à ma Sublime Porte les réformes
exigées par le progrès des lumières et du temps.”

Progress, as well as the State interests of the Empire at that time,
required the administrative separation of the Bulgarian Church from the
Patriarchate, and its endowment with a special chief and clergy. It is
interesting to note that, in this struggle of the Sublime Porte with the
Patriarchate for the denationalisation of the Christian
communities—which had for its consequence the weakening of the
Patriarchate and the restriction of its privileges—the Bulgarian nation
acted as allies of the Empire, with “the high approval of the Sultan”
and “under the control of the Sublime Porte.” Thanks mainly to this
alliance and to this struggle against the Patriarchate in favour of the
Bulgarian nation, the Patriarchate was considerably weakened through the
Organic Statute of 1862, while the Bulgarian Church was restored in
virtue of the Firman of 1870.

With the Bulgarian Church restored, it was necessary, in accordance with
the Imperial Firman, that it should be organised after the pattern of
the Eastern Orthodox Church, of which it formed a branch, without in any
case departing from its canons. The Exarchate, as its highest
administrative body, was organised on such close lines with the
Patriarchate, that its Organic Statute is, in greater part, nothing but
a reproduction of that of the Patriarchate in 1862, which, in its turn,
is based on the principles laid down by the Hatti-Houmayoun.

[Illustration: Peasants near Tirnovo, Bulgaria.]

In view of all this, it must be admitted that to-day the struggle—or
rather the insistence of the Exarchate for the speedier organisation of
a Synod and a Mixed Council, forming part of itself—is only a just and
legal claim of the rights and privileges sanctioned by the Firman of
1870. It should be clearly understood that the Bulgarian Exarchate does
not ask for any new privileges; all that it demands is the restoration
of the Synod and the Mixed Council as they existed before the
Russo-Turkish War. Surely this is but a very natural demand! The
question concerns two administrative bodies, with attributes strictly
defined by the canons of the Church, as well as by the statute of the
Exarchate and the Imperial Firman, and which cannot be delegated to
anyone else, but must be exercised by the Synod and the Mixed Council.
To the Synod are reserved all questions of the _forum ecclesiasticum_,
while the mission of the Mixed Council is to look after the schools, the
civil administration, and the organisation of the Bulgarian nationality.
The Mixed Council forms at the same time the highest judicial body in
civil cases between Bulgarians—the mixed courts being reserved for civil
cases between Mohammedans and Christians, as well as for commercial and
criminal cases without any distinction of religion. This brief mention
of the attributes of the Synod and of the Mixed Council is surely
sufficient to show the very urgent need of their speedy restoration and
organisation.

The needs of the Church and of the community have greatly increased;
they are no longer what they used to be thirty years ago, and cannot be
left disregarded. The requirements of the population and of the times
give rise to fresh questions, while on the other hand the Imperial
Ottoman Government comes every day with fresh demands to the Exarchate,
which shares in the administration of the country, as an auxiliary
organ.

In these present-day times of trial the Bulgarian population in
Macedonia, broken up, persecuted, and outlawed as it is, turns for help
and protection to its legal head and protector, the Exarch. The Exarch
is, however, helpless, because personally he has no authority to decide
such questions as fall within the competence of the Mixed Council. His
only rôle in such matters is to act as an intermediary between the
Council and the Sublime Porte.

The present position of the Exarchate is an abnormal one. According to
the Firman, which has the force of law within the Empire, it has
well-defined rights and obligations as regards the Porte and the
Bulgarian nation in the _vilayets_, which, however, it cannot exercise
or fulfil because of its imperfect and irregular organisation. This
state of things provokes among the populations of the Empire complaints
both against the Exarchate and the Imperial authorities. Failing to find
help and protection at the hands of the legal authorities, the outraged
population is naturally tempted to look for such in illegal quarters,
and in its despair places its hopes in foreign intervention. This state
of affairs explains and fully justifies such tendencies among the
Macedonian population. The true interests of the Ottoman Empire demand
the preservation of its Christian inhabitants from similar hopes and
tendencies. The population ought to expect all improvements from
Constantinople. In this respect the formation of a Synod and of a Mixed
Council attached to the Exarchate is not only a just demand, admitted on
every hand outside Turkey, but is highly desirable and indispensable for
the pacification of public opinion both in the _vilayets_ and in
Bulgaria. By their very constitution, this Synod and the Mixed Council
would act as legal interpreters of the needs of the Bulgarian population
in Macedonia and the _vilayet_ of Adrianople, and would form a strong
link between the Bulgarians and the Sublime Porte.

It would surely be preferable both for the Powers and for Turkey if they
had to deal with a legally organised and responsible body, such as the
Bulgarian Exarchate. Indeed, this latter, if completed and fortified by
the creation of the Synod and the Mixed Council, would no doubt succeed
in attracting the attention of the Bulgarian population of the
_vilayets_ once more to Constantinople. The cause of the Macedonian
reforms would benefit considerably from such an organisation, while the
difficult task of the Powers would be greatly facilitated.

The just and legal measure I have outlined above would pacify public
opinion in the Principality of Bulgaria. That something must be done is
very plain. Matters in Macedonia cannot be allowed to remain as they
are—a blot upon the civilisation of Europe. Bulgaria is, as far as I
have been able to judge from personal inquiry, determined to take a
strong and definite line. She cannot remain indifferent to the injustice
of the Porte towards the Bulgarian Exarchate; neither can she overlook
the burning question. Even if she were inclined to adopt such a course,
she would not be in a position to do so. No Bulgarian Government could
follow such a policy without being accused of violating the
Constitution, according to which the Eastern Orthodox religion is the
State religion of the country.

In ecclesiastical matters the Principality is, according to Article 39
of the Bulgarian Constitution, placed under the control of the highest
spiritual authority of the Bulgarian Church, wherever that authority may
be found. This authority is the Bulgarian Exarchate. It must be
remembered, too, that this Constitution was ratified at the time, by the
Powers signatory of the Treaty of Berlin. The right of the Principality
to take an interest in the normal and regular working of the authority
in question now became even more indisputable. Besides, political
considerations of the very highest importance to the peace of Europe
place upon the Bulgarian Government the duty of reminding the Great
Powers, Turkey included, of the liabilities which they assumed towards
the Christian population of the vilayets by virtue of Articles 25 and 62
of the Treaty of Berlin.

Only natural is it, and in the cause of humanity, that Bulgaria should
seek to protect the Bulgarians in Macedonia. Never has the country been
in a worse state than at the present time, and never has European
interference been more needed than at this moment.

Europe should listen attentively to this Bulgarian complaint against
Turkey, for it is surely a just one, crying loudly for remedy. The blood
of the poor massacred thousands in Macedonia calls to-day to the Powers
for mercy and justice, and yet to-morrow, and still to-morrow, a hundred
more defenceless men and women and innocent children are put to the
sword, mutilated and murdered, and we in England hear nothing about it.
Macedonia is, alas! a country where God is high and Justice far away.

This question of the Bulgarian Exarchate and the Porte is, I know, an
abstruse one, neglected by most writers on the subject. However, it is
one of the highest importance—one which is inseparable from the future
policy of Bulgaria.

Things cannot remain long in Macedonia as I myself saw them. Europe
holds up her hands in virtuous horror at the so-called Congo scandals
and seeks out every detail of maladministration, yet she turns a deaf
ear to the piteous cry of the Macedonians, whose homes are daily burned
and pillaged, and whose villages are often completely wiped out—both
dwellings and inhabitants—in the course of a few hours by fiends filled
with the lust of blood.

If you doubt that there are horrible atrocities daily committed in
Macedonia by Greeks and Turks alike, you need go no farther than Sofia.
Visit the Orphanage for Macedonian boys established three years ago by
Mr. Pierce O’Mahony, an Irish philanthropist, of Grange Con, County
Wicklow. This gentleman was living in Sofia, and hearing terrible
stories of massacres across the frontier, established an institution for
the education of orphans whose parents had been killed in the raids.
When I visited the place, I found it neat, orderly, and doing a most
charitable and excellent work under the care of two English nursing
sisters. In a large commodious house on the outskirts of the capital
were thirty lads ranging in age from seven to fifteen, all dressed in
their white woollen and black-braided national costume of Macedonia.

When the boys were assembled in the large classroom, I heard some of
their stories, and truly they were appalling, many of the details too
terrible to be placed here on record. As an instance, one lad I saw, a
bright, intelligent little fellow, was admitted to the Orphanage a few
months ago. He lived in the district of Ochrida, and was one day tending
his sheep as usual, when some Turkish soldiers came past.

“Have you seen a Bulgarian band pass along just now?” they inquired.

The lad declared that he had seen nobody. The soldiers doubted him, for
the Bulgarian band in question was protecting the villages in that
neighbourhood.

[Illustration: Tziganes on the Isker road.]

They asked again, and the boy denied having seen anybody, which was the
truth. Whereupon one of the Sultan’s soldiers smashed the little
fellow’s skull in with the butt end of his rifle, while another took a
knife and cut his throat from ear to ear. They then dug a rough hole in
the ground and buried him. Some hours after, a shepherd passing noticed
that his dog was scratching the earth, and on going to the spot, heard
moans. The lad was quickly exhumed, and found to be still living. For
many weeks he was in the hospital in Salonica, but was eventually
admitted to Mr. O’Mahony’s Home. When I saw him, the wound in the head
had only just healed, and the ugly scar across the throat was still red.
I have his photograph, but it is too ghastly to here reproduce.

Another little lad described to me how his father and mother had been
tortured by the Turks and afterwards burnt alive before his eyes, while
another related how he had been captured by the Turks, taken into
slavery, and afterwards escaped.

Each orphan boy had his own terrible story to tell, stories that were
full of horror and inhuman butchery, stories that made one wonder
whether such things could really happen in this enlightened century.

As to the institute and its general conduct, there is no doubt it is
performing a most humane and charitable work. There are thousands of the
homeless and fatherless in Macedonia, increasing thousands, and the
institute, which is purely a piece of private philanthropy, cannot
possibly admit one-tenth of the applicants for its charity. The founder
hopes, if private subscribers or donors come forward, to extend his
work, and Lady Buchanan of the British Legation, Sofia, who takes a
great interest in it, told me that she would be very pleased to
acknowledge any subscriptions sent to her.

Certainly it is most deserving of support, for already it has sent
Macedonian lads into the Bulgarian Agricultural School at Kustendil; two
others are in the Cadet School in Sofia, and will become officers;
others have been taught trades and are earning their living; and one has
been sent to England. Though the founder is a member of the Church of
England, the lads are allowed to retain their own religion, the
Orthodox.

Every right-minded man must, after investigating the complaint of
Bulgaria against the Porte regarding the Exarchate, take the part of
Bulgaria. Macedonia is to-day and every day being decimated by Greek
bands who raid under the protection and with the connivance of the
Turks, and assuredly Bulgaria has just cause for reprisals. At present,
however, her bands are inactive, and she is endeavouring to adjust the
difficulty by diplomatic channels. Bulgaria has no desire for war,
neither has Turkey.

But the question must ere long be faced boldly and fearlessly, and a
solution arrived at. Bulgaria has right on her side, and in the name of
humanity it is the duty of the Powers to support her.

[Illustration: Where I spent a comfortless night in Bulgaria.]

[Illustration: Bulgarian Laundresses.]



                               CHAPTER V
                          AT A ROSE DISTILLERY

Tobacco growing in Bulgaria—The otto-of-rose industry—About
    adulteration—Difficulties of obtaining the pure extract—Corrupting
    the peasant—What Monsieur Shipkoff told me—Some tests to discover
    adulteration—Interesting facts about roses.

NO description of the present condition of Bulgaria would be complete
without mention of the two principal industrial plants cultivated in the
country—tobacco and roses.

Tobacco, I noticed, was particularly plentiful in the south and in the
departments of Silistra and Kustendil. The department of Haskovo, it
appears, produces 800,000 kilos of first quality tobacco, followed by
Philippopoli with 300,000 kilos, Kustendil with 270,000 kilos, and
Silistra with 210,000. Three-quarters of all this tobacco is consumed in
the country, for Bulgarians are inveterate cigarette-smokers, and the
remaining quarter exported. Tobacco in leaf is sold at an average price
of 80 centimes to 1 fr. 50 c. per kilogramme. The Government give the
peasants, in order to encourage tobacco cultivation, quantities of seed
gratis.

As regards the cultivation of roses, the special species grown are the
red rose (_Rosa damascena_) and various species of white rose, of which
the _Rosa moscata_ is the most used, the best and most extensive
plantations being at Kazanlik, Karlovo, Klissoura, and Stara-Sagora.

I was afforded an opportunity of visiting one of the otto-of-rose
distilleries, and the sweet, penetrating perfume of it clings still to
the nostrils. Bulgarian otto-of-rose is famous the world over, and its
production is carried on in 175 communes in the departments of
Philippopoli and Stara-Sagora.

The chief manufacturers and exporters of otto-of-rose are Messrs.
Shipkoff & Co. of Kazanlik, who export about two-thirds of the whole
rose produce. This firm, as well as the others, make advances to the
peasantry upon their growing crops of roses, and the peasant pays these
advances in otto-of-rose already distilled. The firms make it a part of
the contract that the extract must be pure, and can refuse to accept it
if adulterated. As a check, all the exporters make it a point to
themselves distil in the various rose-growing districts for the purpose
of obtaining the proper standard of purity.

I had an opportunity of visiting Mr. Theodore Shipkoff, Deputy for
Kazanlik, of the great firm of Shipkoff & Co. He showed me over the
factory, and gave me a number of extremely interesting details regarding
this unique industry.

It appears that nowadays it is not an easy matter to obtain pure
otto-of-rose. Some forty years ago the entire rose industry was an ideal
one. No farmers, small or big, adulterated their otto. They knew nothing
about adulteration. In their primitive simplicity and honesty, it would
have been altogether against their nature to falsify in any way their
produce. The jobbers and dealers who used to come from Adrianople and
Constantinople to buy it, and who at that time controlled the whole
exportation, while buying it from the growers in its pure state, soon
began to adulterate it with the Turkish geranium oil (_Idris Yaghi_).
They found this way of adulterating the otto-of-rose so profitable that,
in order to use a larger percentage of geranium oil and at the same time
to render it less easily detected, they began to import from
Constantinople the crude geranium oil, and in the presence of the
growers to redistil and refine it in rose-flowers and rose-water, thus
taking away its pungent and heavy vegetable odour. Some of the growers
soon learned to do this themselves, and the peddling traders started
regular factories for the express purpose of refining geranium oil and
selling it afterwards to the peasants for purposes of adulteration. In
this way many villages were gradually corrupted, and the otto-of-rose
they produced was more or less adulterated with geranium oil; but most
of the adulteration has always been done by the exporting jobbers and
dealers. This, of course, brought much discredit to the rose industry,
and the Government, some fifteen years ago, was compelled to prohibit
the importation of geranium oil into the country. This measure was a
most wholesome one, and checked, to some extent, the free and open
importation of geranium, and saved many of the rose villages from
further corruption. However, a great deal of geranium oil is still
imported _sub rosâ_ into Bulgaria by unscrupulous jobbers and exporters,
and much of the otto-of-rose sold is largely adulterated with it.

Mr. Shipkoff, in course of his conversation with me when he showed me
over his distillery at Kazanlik, said, “As our principle is to export
only the genuine otto-of-rose, and sell only what we can guarantee as
absolutely pure, our task has been, and is, a most difficult one. With
the primitive system of distillation still in use in our country, it is
actually impossible for us to distil all the otto-of-rose we export, and
we still have to depend on our growers for the greater part of our
stock. When the means of transportation and communication improve, it
will then be possible to centralise the whole distillation in a few
places, and establish large steam distilleries, such as those in Grasse,
Cannes, and Leipzig. At present most of the rose-flowers are distilled
in the villages where they are grown, and by the growers themselves,
this method being by far the cheapest. Still, to guard ourselves from
all possible adulteration on the part of our suppliers, and at the same
time to be able to get as much otto-of-rose as possible of our own
distillation, we ourselves have to distil in all the principal places in
the eight rose counties of the rose district, and each year we increase
our own distillations.

“It is by virtue of this extensive distillation that we are able to
obtain pure otto. Besides this practical means, we have continually
experimented to discover various tests, whereby we can readily
distinguish the pure from the adulterated rose. It is quite impossible
simply from the sense of smell to always recognise an adulteration from
two to five per cent., and the following are the tests, which we possess
and use in conducting our business: the freezing-point test, the
specific gravity test, the density test, the spectrum test, the iodine
test, and the nitric acid test.

“Otto-of-rose, when analysed, is found to consist of two ingredients:
the oleoptene, which is the liquid and odoriferous part of the
otto-of-rose, and the stereoptene, which is the solid and odourless
part, and causes the crystallisation of the otto-of-rose. The proportion
in which these two ingredients are combined in the pure otto-of-rose is
more or less fixed, varying only from 10 to 15 per cent. according to
the elevation of the localities in which the otto is produced. The
highest proportion—15 per cent.—is found in otto-of-rose distilled in
villages situated highest in the Balkans; while the villages down in the
plains produce otto-of-rose containing only 10 to 11 per cent. of
stereoptene. We have lately made experiments to distil these two
ingredients separately, but they can best be separated from each other
by a very simple physical process. The average proportion of these two
ingredients in our stocks during the last five years has been about 12½
per cent. of stereoptene and 87½ per cent. of oleoptene.

“The oil usually employed for the adulteration of otto-of-rose is the
geranium oil (_Palagonium Radula_) known to the trade as Turkish
geranium oil. This oil is made in India and is sold in Constantinople.
Formerly they used this oil as adulterant in its crude state, but now it
is generally refined in rose-water or rose-flower before it is used. No
matter how well refined, it is impossible to put 5 per cent. of it in
otto-of-rose without changing the freezing point of the otto, its
specific gravity, and the proportion in which the stereoptene and
oleoptene are combined. Geranium oil contains no stereoptene, and in
consequence does not crystallise. In the best refined geranium oil the
specific gravity is fully ·880—a difference in weight of about eighteen
points. All this helps to detect its presence in otto-of-rose. It can
also be detected by means of the iodine as well as the nitric acid
tests. The presence of geranium oil in otto-of-rose lowers its freezing
point, renders its specific gravity heavier, and changes the proportion
in which the oleoptene and stereoptene are combined.

[Illustration: The Rose-fields near Kazanlik.]

“In order to rectify these defects, the use of spermaceti, paraffin, and
alcohol have often been resorted to, but the presence of all these three
substances can be discovered without any difficulty. The crystals of
both spermaceti and paraffin are entirely different from the crystals of
the stereoptene of otto-of-rose, and otto-of-rose containing any
proportion of either will lose, when congealed, its sharp-pointed,
needle-like crystals. Besides, paraffin and spermaceti being fatty oils,
are much heavier, and in time will settle at the bottom. Furthermore,
they are not volatile as stereoptene. The presence of alcohol is
detected either by the use of double distilled water or of pure
glycerine.”

By resorting to these various tests in the selection of supplies from
growers, as well as by extensive distillation in all the principal
localities, respectable firms are always able to procure the finest
otto-of-rose and to export it in its absolute purity.

The whole rose district comprises in all 173 villages, devoted to rose
culture, with about 15,500 acres of rose plantations. These yield
annually from 20,000,000 to 25,000,000 pounds of rose-flowers, for the
distillation of which some 13,000 native stills are used. The total
yield of otto annually varies according to the year—from 90,000 to
150,000 ounces; the average crop being about 120,000 ounces of pure
otto-of-rose. It generally takes from 160 to 250 pounds rose-flowers to
make one ounce of otto—and there are about 300 roses to the pound.

Nearly all the otto produced in Bulgaria is exported for consumption
abroad, and chiefly to New York, Paris, and London, its three largest
markets, and from there it is distributed all over the world. Formerly
the perfumers used to be supplied through the intermediary of
Constantinople, Leipzig, and London, but now all large consumers buy
their supply direct. The house of Shipkoff was the first to inaugurate
this system of direct relations. It saves many extra charges, and in
case of the goods delivered turning out badly, the guilty party is at
once detected.

Shipkoffs do not believe in all sorts of grades, their motto being,
“_Only one quality—the best._”

The culture of roses in Bulgaria is not only the oldest and most
attractive industry of the country, but also quite exclusively its own.
While roses are found all over the world and are grown everywhere in
garden-beds, in Bulgaria they are grown in extensive fields, as we grow
the potato or corn. This industry, however, is confined only to one
special district in Bulgaria, which is comprised in the eight counties
above mentioned, with Kazanlik as their central town, called, in
consequence, the capital of the rose district. The rose district extends
along that portion of the southern slopes of the Balkan mountains,
comprising in itself the branch range of the Little Balkans, which
shoots out of the main Balkans and forms one of its chief arms. The
average length of the rose district is about eighty miles, and its
average width is about thirty miles. Its average elevation is about 1300
feet above the level of the sea. The average height of the Balkans along
the rose district is about 5600 feet, while that of the Little Balkans
is about 3700 feet.

Attempts have often been made to grow roses all over Bulgaria, but they
have all proved a failure. It is true that roses have been grown, and
are grown to this day, in Persia, India, Egypt, and China for this
purpose, but they hardly produce any otto-of-rose. They produce almost
exclusively rose-water, and it is chiefly used for local consumption. In
the Maritime Alps of Southern France, and especially in Cannes and
Grasse, they grow quite extensively the “Provence rose,” and they
extract from it a peculiar otto-of-rose, but the quantity is very
limited, and they chiefly use their flowers to make pomades and
rose-water. In Leipzig they also grow roses, but with very little
success. Almost in all the other places where the roses are grown, they
lack the peculiar advantages of climate that Bulgaria possesses, and
have in consequence to use twice and even thrice the quantity of flowers
to make the same amount of otto. The hottest weather ever experienced in
summer in this part of Bulgaria is 88° Fahr. and the coldest of winter
is rarely under 15° Fahr. above zero. Then, during the harvest and
distillation season, which is in the latter part of May and the first
part of June, there we have regular showers of rain and in the mornings
heavy falls of dew—both absolutely necessary for the otto-of-rose
distillation.

After the Russo-Turkish War in 1877-78, when Bulgaria was separated from
Turkey and constituted into an independent Principality, the Turkish
Government spent thousands of pounds in trying to replant the Kazanlik
rose in Asia Minor, and many scores of rose-gardens were planted around
Broussa, but to no purpose. The gardens grew, thrived, and yielded
plenty of flowers, but when distilled they got only rose-water and very
little otto, so the work, in consequence, could not pay. It is the
peculiarity of the soil, and chiefly that of the atmosphere of this
special district in Bulgaria, caused by the peculiar formation of the
mountain ranges surrounding it, which makes the roses thrive and yield
sufficient otto-of-rose to pay for the very laborious work that the
culture entails.

The red rose grown is a semi-double light red rose like the French _rose
du roi_, having from thirty to thirty-six petals and possessing an
extremely rich and fragrant odour. The growing of the rose is very much
like the growth of the vine, and the planting of a rose-garden is
similar to that of a vineyard. After the ground has been prepared by
tilling and manuring, ditches are made in rows, about a foot and a half
in depth and width, and a yard and a half apart. At the bottom of these
ditches soft earth mixed with manure is spread, on which the roots
forming the bushes of the new rose-garden and taken from old bushes are
firmly stuck vertically, and then well covered up with the earth and
manure. This is generally done in the spring, when the rain showers
abound. The roses thus planted soon take root, and in less than two
months send up soft, glossy green shoots, which in a year become about a
foot high. In the second year they are over two feet high, and yield a
few rose-flowers. The first crop worth gathering is in the third year,
and in the fifth year they attain their full growth. They reach then a
height of about six feet, the bushes forming thick rows of clustered
rose-trees and continuing to yield rich crops of flowers for a period of
twenty years, and in some localities twenty-five years, after the lapse
of which time they become old, begin to die from the winter’s cold and
frost, and yield but few flowers. Then the old rose-bushes are dug out
and the garden is planted anew.

A rose-garden requires constant care. During the year it is hoed three
times. In autumn the roots are covered up with earth to guard them from
the winter’s cold. In spring that earth is thrown off and the bushes are
pruned, and every other year the garden is manured.

The roses yield only one crop every year. The rose-harvest begins in the
latter part of May, and as the weather is dry and hot or cool and rainy
during the blossoming season, it may last from eighteen to thirty days.
During the whole harvest the distillation of the crop is carried on.
Morning after morning, hours before sunrise, groups of young maidens and
boys, all dressed in their beautiful bright-coloured native costumes,
proceed with songs to the rose-gardens to gather the newly opened buds
while the heavy morning dew is still on the blossoms. Nothing can
present a more captivating scene than a rose-garden in bloom, with its
gaily attired peasant-girls gathering the roses, and its
nightingales—those romantic lovers of the _Regina florum_—trying in most
melodious songs to out-sing the maidens.

As soon as the roses are gathered they are taken to the distillery,
spread in cool and shady rooms, and gradually distilled during the day.
The alembics used for this purpose are of the simplest kind. They
consist of a convex tinned copper boiler, narrowed at the top to a neck
on which is fixed a spherical head-piece with a tube on one side, to
which is attached the condensing tube, sloping down and passing through
the condenser or refrigerator, a large vessel into which cold water is
constantly running. The capacity of the boiler is about 250 pounds of
water. In distilling the roses from twenty to twenty-five pounds of
flowers are put in it, and from five to six times that much of water,
thus nearly filling three-fourths of the boiler.

[Illustration: Gathering Roses at Kazanlik.]

[Illustration: Testing Otto of Rose at Kazanlik.]

This done, the head-piece and condensing tube are tightly attached, the
fire started, and the distilling of its contents begun. This is carried
on about forty-five minutes, until thirty to thirty-five pounds of
rose-water are extracted from each boiler. The boilers are then emptied,
cleansed with clear water, and the same process is repeated until all
the morning-gathered flowers are distilled. The rose-water extracted
from the first distillation is redistilled in the same way, only in this
second distillation from 100 to 120 pounds of rose-water are used, and
out of it they extract some thirty to thirty-five pounds of second
rose-water. This double-distilled rose-water is very strong in odour and
quite turbid in appearance; it is full of tiny yellow-white oily
globules floating in it, and as the bottle is filled they rise up and
gather on the top of the long-necked bottles in which the rose-water
runs. These globules are the otto-of-rose, and when all the oil has
settled on the tops of the bottles, it is skimmed and put in separate
bottles by little conical spoons, with a little hole in the bottom,
large enough to let the water run out but not the oil.

Thus collected, the otto is sent to London, Paris, and New York, where
it is used in the manufacture of high-class perfumes and soaps, etc.



                               CHAPTER VI
                         THE FUTURE OF BULGARIA

Bulgaria’s future greatness—Her firm policy in Macedonia—An audience of
    Dr. Stancioff, Minister of Foreign Affairs—A chat with the Prime
    Minister—Turkey the enemy of Bulgaria—Balkan “news” in the London
    papers—How it is manufactured—Turkish dominion doomed.


The future of Bulgaria is assured.

Bulgaria, with Servia, is destined to become the power in the Balkans.
Vigorous, strong, and fearless, under a Prince who has the courage of
his own convictions, the country is one of progress, of great military
strength and continual expansion. The Bulgar differs from the Roumanian
inasmuch as he is more patriotic and far less extravagant; he is frugal,
progressive, and active. His capital is not the weak imitation of Paris,
as is Bucharest, nor are his officers gorgeously dressed and corseted.
On the contrary, they are hardy, well trained, well equipped, and
business-like to a degree.

Some interesting sidelights upon Bulgaria’s growing military strength
have been revealed at the recent manœuvres, while an afternoon walk
through Sofia will show how rapidly and firmly is the capital being
established—the capital which is destined some day to be the capital of
the Balkans.

[Illustration: Bulgarian Peasants dancing the “horo.”]

On every hand I saw evidence of Bulgaria’s future greatness. The
Ministry, without exception, is a strong one and incorruptible. There is
a firmness and stability about everything, all betokening a great
future. Ministerial crises are few, and the people do not neglect their
affairs for politics, as is the case in some Balkan countries. Under
Prince Ferdinand Bulgaria has progressed amazingly, and in the near
future will assume a position of supreme importance in the Peninsula.
Her policy towards Roumania is, however, a somewhat undecided one. While
the Roumanians fondly think that Bulgaria cannot take decisive action in
Macedonia without her consent, Bulgaria seems to calmly ignore
Roumania’s existence. I have reason for believing that some satisfactory
agreement will be arrived at in the course of the next month or two.
Bulgaria, however, is wide awake and well aware that Roumania is
desirous of a slice of her territory from the Danube down to the Black
Sea. Only to obtain this would Roumania be party to any alliance
regarding Macedonia.

One morning at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Sofia I had audience
with the newly appointed Minister, His Excellency Dr. Dimitri Stancioff.
He is the coming man of Bulgaria, at one time private secretary to the
Prince, and afterwards, as already explained, diplomatic agent in St.
Petersburg, where he had an extremely brilliant career.

Of middle height, slim of figure, with dark hair slightly silvered, a
keen, rather aquiline face, and sharp eyes, he is a man full of eager
activity, quick perception, and indomitable energy.

He had only been in office a few days, and was overwhelmed with work,
yet he spared me half an hour for a chat, although certain chiefs of the
foreign missions were waiting for audience. In his quiet, sombre,
business-like cabinet, he sat behind his littered table, smiling affably
and ready to answer any questions I put to him.

“You want to see Bulgaria? Very well, I will give orders that you have
good guides, and that you are supplied with all the official information
available. Only,” he laughed, “please do not flatter us. We prefer
honest criticism.”

He took down a list of the heads of the information I wanted, gave me a
cigarette, and then we discussed the future of Bulgaria.

“His Royal Highness the Prince has told me that he sent you an
autographed portrait last night. Have you received it?”

I replied in the affirmative.

“He will see you in Varna,” he went on. “His Highness particularly
wishes to see you.”

Then I asked him to explain Bulgaria’s future policy in the Balkans.

“You heard my speech in the Sobranje. Well, that constitutes in brief
the future policy of Bulgaria—peace. We are a young nation, and we do
not desire any complications with our neighbours. You have seen Sofia.
You have seen how in the past ten years it has risen. Yet there still
remains very much to do. The city is in a state of construction, and so
it is all through the country. All we desire is to be allowed peace, in
order to develop our resources.”

“And your relations with Turkey?” I asked.

“Ah! those constant incidents in Macedonia are of course regrettable.
The question is always with us. Yet since I assumed office I have
received reports from our diplomatic agent in Constantinople which
clearly show that Turkey has assumed a much more conciliatory attitude.
We are hoping for the best. Our relations with Turkey are still
friendly, and the friendship is becoming daily more firmly cemented.
What we wish, however, to see is greater interest taken by the Powers in
the Macedonian question. Neither Bulgaria nor Servia nor Roumania can
solve the great problem—only joint action by the Powers. We hope that,
ere long, an international council may be held to discuss and decide the
question once and for all. The present state of affairs is intolerable.
But you will see for yourself when you get into Macedonia.”

And assuredly, two months later, I did see—things that are incredible in
Europe in this twentieth century.

[Illustration: Summit of the Shipka Pass.]

[Illustration: Defile of the Isker.]

I also had a pleasant chat with Monsieur D. Petkoff, the Prime Minister.
We sat next each other at dinner one night at Sir George Buchanan’s, and
I learnt that he had been responsible for the destruction of old Sofia,
and the laying out of the new city. For six years of the reconstruction
he had been Mayor of the capital, and, as I afterwards learnt, to his
efforts the great progress had been due. Sofia may well be called
Petkoffopolis. At any rate, it is hoped that one of the streets will be
named after him. He struck me as an earnest, thoughtful man, the born
leader of a party. Rather short of stature, dark-haired, with a small
imperial just turning grey, his countenance was strong, open, and very
pleasant. He spoke deliberately, with an air of conviction, and his
conversation with me, which was of a private nature, was that of a man
who believed in the future of his country and was an advocate of peace
and progress.

As Austria is Servia’s sworn enemy, so is Turkey the enemy of Bulgaria.
War would have been declared by Turkey against Bulgaria long ago, were
it not for the personal veto of the Sultan, who is not only contrary to
hostilities with his near neighbour, but views Bulgaria with increasing
favour. His Majesty has, if the real truth be told, accurately gauged
his neighbour’s military strength. The war party in Turkey have long
been eager for an attack upon Bulgaria, but the Sultan is a far-seeing
monarch, and no one knows better than he that Bulgaria is very strong in
a military sense, and is a power to be reckoned with if ever the
Macedonian question is solved by force of arms.

At present it is the Greeks who, by their unwarrantable attacks upon the
Macedonian villages, are attempting to incite and provoke Bulgaria. Here
is an instance. Not long ago the Bulgarian police received secret
information, and searched the house of the Greek Bishop of
Philippopolis, where they found many incriminating documents showing
plainly that the Greek Church was actually collecting funds for armed
raids upon the Bulgarians in Macedonia. Letters were found addressed to
the various Greek priests giving the orders as to how they should act.
These somehow got into the papers, whereupon a serious riot occurred in
Philippopolis, and the Bulgarian soldiery were sent to quell it.
Bulgaria’s enemies, mostly subsidised Press correspondents, declared
that the riot against the Greeks was provoked by the Government itself,
and such statements were published broadcast in the Press of Europe.
These allegations, however, had absolutely no foundation, for the rising
was purely a local one, prompted by the knowledge that the Bishop was
fostering a conspiracy against their brothers in Macedonia. If ever the
Bulgarian public was provoked to reprisals, it was on that historic day,
and the Government’s action was perfectly justified in interfering,
otherwise the demonstration against the Greeks would have spread all
over the country, with very serious result.

Our English arm-chair critics—those who do not travel and see the
country for themselves—do not understand the Balkans. They form their
opinions from the incorrect and misleading statements made by
journalists and by journals subsidised by the enemy. Some of the
statements are so absurd as to be amusing, for they are utterly devoid
of the slightest foundation of fact. Indeed, they are often mere tissues
of plausible falsehoods.

While in the Balkans I read extraordinary accounts in the _Zeit_ of
things that, to my own personal knowledge, never happened. Each day, in
fact, the latest brand-new intelligence from the Vienna factory is
served up to Europe with sauce so piquant as to betray its origin.

The greater part of the so-called “news” concerning the Balkans
appearing in the English Press is utterly unreliable. The
correspondents, with few exceptions, are Austrians, and also act as
correspondents of the anti-Servian or anti-Bulgarian papers printed in
Vienna. From Austria these unscrupulous scribblers gain more than from
England, and therefore we are allowed glimpses of the Balkans only
through Austrian spectacles. Spend a week in any Balkan city, and you
will in future heed none of the glib _canards_ you read in your
responsible London morning paper regarding Servia or Bulgaria.

Austria and Turkey are for ever conspiring in the Balkans. Austria has
her eye on Servia, while Turkey intends, if possible, to put her foot
into Bulgaria, or at least to prevent the formation of a “big Bulgaria.”
As far as Turkey is concerned, as long as the Sultan lives there will be
no declaration of war against Bulgaria. His Majesty’s death would, I
fear, be the declaration of war between the two countries—and then the
sallow-faced gentleman in fez and slippers will have an unhappy time.
The day of the Sultan’s death will put the Balkans aflame, and then the
map of the Peninsula will assuredly be very quickly altered.

But before then Bulgaria may declare war.



                                ROUMANIA



[Illustration: HIS MAJESTY KING CHARLES OF ROUMANIA.]



                               CHAPTER I
                          BUCHAREST OF TO-DAY

My friend the spy—How I was watched through the Balkans—An exciting
    half-hour—The Paris of the Near East—Gaiety, extravagance, and
    pretty women—Forty years of progress—The paradise of the
    idler—Husbands wanted!


My friend the spy picked me up at Rustchuk.

He was a well-dressed, middle-aged man, in a black overcoat with a
velvet collar. His face was sharply cut and intelligent, but his dark
eyes were set rather too closely together to suit me. Suddenly I
recollected having seen the same man in the streets of Sofia a week
before. Indeed, I saw him frequently when in the Bulgarian capital, but
until I met him that night upon the Danube steamer, between Rustchuk and
Guirgevo, the thought never occurred to me that the fellow was
persistently following me.

Then, like a flash, each of the occasions I had seen him came back to
me. Not only had he followed me in Sofia, but I now recollected having
seen him in Belgrade and in Zimony. The fellow was a spy—Austrian
without a doubt. It was not my first acquaintance with spies. I had met
many of them in the course of my wanderings up and down Europe. Some,
indeed, are among my personal acquaintances.

Until you travel in the Balkans, and more especially if you are having
interviews with Ministers and officials, you can have no idea of the
audacity and activity of Austria’s secret agents. They swarm everywhere.
The Grand Hotel at Belgrade is full of them, and in Sofia they also
flourish as part of the great secret army which the Austrian Government
keeps in the East, from Zimony right down to Constantinople.

It was a bitterly cold night, with slight drizzling rain. The spy was
standing on deck in the shadow at a little distance from me. The
recollection that I had with me a quantity of official documents given
and lent to me by the Servian and Bulgarian Governments was the reverse
of reassuring. I felt in my pocket for my revolver. Yes, the handy
little weapon was ready for use, in case of necessity.

There were only four or five passengers, and I knew that across the
Danube the Roumanian train taking me on to Bucharest would be
practically empty. And so it proved, for after landing, getting my
passport _viséd_ and my baggage through the Roumanian Customs, I walked
to the train, to find it empty, lit only by dim flickering oil-lamps,
which gave scarcely sufficient light to see into the corners of the
compartments.

I looked back, and yes, surely enough, the spy was following me! I was
alone, for I had sent my servant on to Bucharest by the morning train. I
got into a compartment, and presently, after some manœuvring, he got
in with me. I was annoyed, but I had my weapon in my outside pocket, and
intended to fire through my pocket if he attempted to attack me, or get
at my despatch-box on the seat at my side.

Calmly he lit a cigarette, then inquired in French—which he spoke
excellently—

“M’sieur is going on to Bucharest? Ah! what a wretched train service—eh?
I suppose you go on to Constantinople?”

I looked him straight in the face and replied—

“My destination is no affair of yours, m’sieur. And I have neither
desire nor intention that you should follow me any farther. You must
think I’m blind. I saw you in Servia a dozen times, and in Bulgaria
afterwards, and here you are in Roumania! Your game may be interesting
to yourself, but it is annoying to me, I can assure you—very annoying.”

[Illustration]

[Illustration: Snap-shots in Bucharest.]

The fellow looked aghast. He was not clever at all; for he stammered
something in Hungarian, and then, in French, declared that he had never
followed me. We had met and re-met by accident, he assured me. That was
all.

“Well,” I said, pretty sternly, “just take care that we don’t meet again
by accident after to-night. You understand?” The train was moving, so he
was compelled to travel in the same compartment with me to the next
stopping-place on the fifty-mile run that separates the Danube from the
Roumanian capital.

“I know,” I went on, “that you think I have some official documents with
me that would be extremely interesting to your employers. Yes, I admit I
have had some, but I’m scarcely such a fool as to travel about with
them. They would be interesting reading to you, but fortunately they are
already safe in London. So you are really only wasting your valuable
time, my dear monsieur.”

“M’sieur quite misunderstands me—he takes common politeness for
inquisitiveness.”

“Well, I don’t want any of your polite attentions,” I declared very
bluntly; “and if you don’t get out at the next station I shall just kick
you out. You understand that?”

He saw I had my hand in my jacket-pocket all the time, and doubtless
guessed what I had there.

“I shall stay here,” he answered defiantly.

“Excellent,” was my response. “And when we get to the next station I
shall call the gendarmes and have you arrested as a foreign secret
agent.”

“You’ve made a great mistake,” he declared resentfully.

“Very well. Let’s see. You remain here, and I’ll call the police.”

He did not reply. For half an hour he sat quite silent, while I, fearing
treachery, kept my hand upon the trigger of my weapon, for as a matter
of fact I had with me some papers of the very highest importance to
Austria—papers that would have compromised certain highly-placed persons
in the Balkans. The spy was evidently aware of this, and it was the
motive of his strenuous endeavour to seize an opportunity to get hold of
the confidential statements in question. In Roumania, as in Servia, they
treat foreign spies with scant courtesy, and the fellow’s manner belied
his defiant words.

That half-hour was an exciting one, until at last, after what seemed an
interminable period, the train slowed down and came to a standstill,
when my inquisitive friend of evil intentions descended, and without a
word disappeared in the darkness.

I thought I had rid myself of his surveillance, but I was mistaken. Next
day I met him in the streets of Bucharest, and so persistently did he
follow me that I was compelled to lodge a complaint with the police. As
soon as I had done that, I saw him no more. My own belief was that he
was arrested. He may be in prison now, for all I know. In any case, he
disappeared as completely as though the earth had swallowed him up.

This little incident, both annoying and exciting at the time, was my
first adventure on entering Roumania, but it was soon forgotten amid the
gaieties of smart Bucharest.

The Roumanian capital is a place apart. Roumania is not a Balkan State
in any sense of the word, and has progressed so rapidly during the forty
odd years of its freedom that in Bucharest to-day, save for Roumanian
names over the shopfronts, one may easily believe oneself to be in Paris
or in Brussels.

Indeed, some of the buildings, notably the new Post Office, the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs, and the Academy, are unequalled not only in
Brussels, but even in Paris. Bucharest is a gay city of external
glitter, bright, merry, and highly amusing after some of the dull,
half-civilised country towns in the Balkans. Smart cafés and
confectioners, expensive hotels, shops that charge double prices of
those in Paris, and theatres where one pays a sovereign for a stall, are
all to be found in Bucharest. The boulevards are broad and full of life
and movement, and the Calea Victoriei, the Boulevard Carol, and Strad
Lipsicani are as busy as any thoroughfare of a Western capital.

Nearly every public building has a dome, while the chief object of a
Roumanian seems to be to build for himself a wonderfully ornate house
and gild the railings in front. Many of the façades of the private
houses are marvels of florid bad taste. Again, though in the streets, in
drawing-rooms and at cafés and theatres, I met hundreds upon hundreds of
officers, crowds of lieutenants, swarms of captains and a good
sprinkling of generals, all in wonderful uniforms, yet I was four days
in Bucharest before I discovered a real soldier—and then quite by
accident. He wore a brown uniform, and I mistook him for a _wagon-lit_
conductor.

Bucharest is a city of vivid contrasts—a wildly gay, go-ahead city,
which justly bears the reputation of being one of the most expensive in
the world. For the poor it is the cheapest; for the rich, the dearest.
Prices, for instance, at the Hotel du Boulevard are higher than at the
Savoy or Carlton in London, yet everything is excellent, the sterlet
quite as good as at the Hermitage at Moscow, and the caviare such as one
only gets in the best restaurants in Russia.

As one wanders in the streets the Western eye meets many quaint sights.
For instance, the _birjas_, or cabs, are open victorias drawn by a pair
of long-tailed Russian horses, and driven by men wearing great padded
overcoats of blue-black velvet—huge affairs that give them very portly
proportions. Around the waist is worn a piece of gaily coloured satin
ribbon,and on the head the round Balkan cap of astrachan. Most of the
drivers are Russian refugees, and form a distinct class apart. Cabs are
extremely cheap, and the rate at which one is driven would be reckless
were it not that the men have such perfect control over their horses.

The British colony is not a large one. Its head is, of course, our
Minister, Sir Conyngham Greene, in whose able hands British interests in
Roumania have recently been placed. Keen and active, he has already
rearranged our Consular service in Roumania, and placed the Legation on
the same footing as those of the other Powers. While every other
European nation owns a Legation house in Bucharest, we have none; and
while I was in the Roumanian capital he was a fellow-guest at the Hotel
du Boulevard. It is understood, however, that the Foreign Office—or the
Treasury—have recently been shamed into the necessity of buying a house,
and very soon Sir Conyngham will have a fitting residence, as the other
representatives of the Powers.

Nobody ever deigns to walk in Bucharest. Everybody takes cabs, therefore
the streets are filled with vehicular traffic till far into the night.
At evening, indeed, Bucharest is at her best. Smart restaurants, with
pretty, well-dressed women, cosy theatres, flash café-chantants, and
noisy garish cafés abound all over the town, while outside, notably at
the Villa Regala, in the centre of a park, smart dinners and suppers are
given.

The _jeunesse dorée_ are an effeminate and extravagant crowd. Gambling
permeates the whole of society, and large sums are lost and won every
evening. I know personally one member of the Roumanian Cabinet who
thinks nothing of losing or winning a couple or three thousand pounds
each week at cards. He plays every afternoon at the Club, and is always
open to play any comer for any stake proposed, no matter what it may be.

Bucharest is a typical capital of a wealthy, easy-going country. The
people are charitable, and spend freely—when they have it. The
shop-windows, where the most expensive table delicacies are displayed,
show the foreigner the Roumanians’ extravagance in eating, while the
dresses one sees on the giddy women-folk are as up to date as any that
one notices in the Champs Elysées, the Bois, or at the Opera. Yet amid
all this up-to-dateness the old horse-tram still survives and jogs
along, and the patient white oxen toil slowly through the streets,
dragging their heavy springless carts.

Unlike Sofia, or in Belgrade, peasants are seldom met with in the
streets of Bucharest. One may go a whole week without coming across a
woman in national costume, unless, of course, the market is specially
visited. I, however, met, in Bucharest, Mr. Harold Hartley, one of the
directors of the Earl’s Court Exhibition, and we made many pleasant
excursions into the country together. To the traveller from Western
Europe the city is highly interesting and full of curious types,
especially of the young elegant, whose present fashion, it seems, is to
shave only the front of his chin and cheeks and grow a beard all round,
very similar in cut to that of a monkey.

[Illustration: The Royal Palace: Bucharest.]

[Illustration: Boulevard Elisabeta: Bucharest.]

When one recollects that about forty years ago Roumania was a
semi-civilised nation, and Bucharest a little Oriental town, its present
size and splendour are astounding. To King Charles’ rule much of this
progress is due, and in order to celebrate the fortieth year of his
reign there has recently been held a very pretty Exhibition, a miniature
of the great Exhibition of Paris. It was, I found, most interesting, and
fortunately it has been decided to preserve several of the more
important buildings, including a really excellent replica of a Roman
amphitheatre. The gaming-room is also to be preserved, of course, for
the “little horses” have great attraction for the merry people of
Bucharest.

Yes, this Paris of the East is indeed a strange place, especially to
those used to Western morals and manners. Everyone lives far above his
income, for there seems no limit to extravagance. Prices are often
extortionate. As an example, I was charged at one restaurant half a
crown for a whisky-and-soda! At a shop across the street the charge for
the same whisky was 6 fr. 50 c. a bottle.

Several of the restaurants are excellent, notably the Enescu, behind the
royal palace, a big place, where the best Tzigane music in Roumania is
provided gratis. The gipsy band is under one Christache Ciolac, a famous
violinist, who one day will no doubt make his mark in London. The
orchestra of the Enescu ought to be imported to one of our smart
restaurants and it would create a great sensation, for our present
so-called Roumanian music cannot be compared with the real thing. Here,
at Enescu’s, there is no dressing up in fancy costumes—not even
dress-coats. But the music is there, the strange weird gipsy melodies
and dances that run in one’s head for days afterwards.

The cookery at Enescu’s, too, is perhaps the best in the Roumanian
capital. Next to it is the restaurant of the Boulevard, where at
luncheon there is a table set apart for the diplomats, and is always
occupied by the various young attachés and secretaries. After that,
comes Capsa’s. The feminine element in the restaurants at dinner is much
the same as it is at home, except that one often sees a mother and two,
or even three, daughters dining alone—dining in public, so that they may
be seen by some stray swain who is desirous of marriage. One night at
Enescu’s, at the table next to us, sat an Italian duchess of ancient
lineage married to a Roumanian aristocrat, with her three pretty
dark-eyed daughters of varying ages, eating solemnly, the mother ever
watchful to see whether any man had his eye upon them. We afterwards saw
them near midnight at a café solemnly sipping _sirops_ and looking
mournful and woebegone. A diplomat who was with me told me that her
Grace had been in Bucharest staying at an hotel for the past six months,
trying to get her daughters off her hands, and was now beginning to be
disgusted at her non-success.

The Roumanian has a great hatred of the Jew. Perhaps it is because his
extravagance brings him so often into their hands. But the country is
full of Hebrews. The capital is not over-burdened with them, but in some
towns in Northern Moldavia Jews are in the majority. Indeed, their total
number in the united provinces exceeds 300,000, or about one-twentieth
of the entire population, a larger ratio than in any other country in
the world. In most provincial towns they have the monopoly of selling
strong drinks, and are of course ever ready to lend money to the
peasant-proprietors. Were it not for the fact that the law forbids any
Jew from holding landed property—or any foreigner, for the matter of
that—half the soil would probably soon be in their hands. The Moldavian
Jews speak a different language, wear a different dress, and keep
themselves aloof from their neighbours, just as do the picturesque
cabmen of Bucharest.

Roumania can boast one artist who is really great, whose name is N. J.
Grigoresco. I was shown some of his works, the property of Mr. Ernest
Goodwin, of the Roumanian Bank, and found that they were of the Barbizon
school, which is very natural, as he was a fellow-worker with Millet.
Without exception the work was excellent, and I believe there is some
idea of having an exhibition of it in London.

In Bucharest there is none of the laziness or languor of the Orient.
Everyone is bent on business or upon pleasure, and life for the idler is
perhaps even more pleasant there than in any other capital of Europe.
Yes, Bucharest of to-day astounds one in many ways.



                               CHAPTER II
                     ROUMANIA’S AIMS AND INTENTIONS

Monsieur Take Jonesco, Minister of Finance—The smartest man in
    Roumania—An interview with General Lahovary, Minister of Foreign
    Affairs—Secret aims of Roumania—A better frontier wanted—Germany’s
    insincerity—Some plain truths—The question of a Balkan
    Federation—Oil wells waiting to be exploited by British capital.


I had a number of interviews with the members of the Roumanian
Cabinet,[2] General Jacques Lahovary, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and
M. Take Jonesco, Minister of Finance, being both particularly helpful to
me in my inquiries regarding Roumania’s political aims and aspirations.

-----

Footnote 2:

  Since this volume has been completed the Roumanian Cabinet has
  resigned on account of the recent peasant rising, which, by the way,
  was greatly exaggerated by the Austrian press.

-----

With the President of the Council, with General Manu, Minister of War,
and with M. Jean Lahovary, Minister of Commerce, I also had long and
interesting conversations.

M. Take Jonesco struck me as by far the strongest and shrewdest man in
the present Cabinet. Keen, quick, and far-seeing, he has of recent years
played a prominent part in bringing his country into its present
satisfactory state. Essentially a man of action, a smart politician, and
a patriot, he is nevertheless very English, for he has an English wife,
and his beautiful home is essentially English. Unlike most statesmen in
the East, he is frank and outspoken. He speaks his mind fearlessly, and
the Opposition hold him in terror. Through his good offices I was
afforded facilities for studying various questions and forming my own
conclusions. General Lahovary, too, is a strong and brilliant man
politically, of essentially military bearing, with a clever countenance,
a long grey moustache, and wears a monocle with a tortoise-shell rim.

[Illustration:

  His Excellency GEORGE CANTACUZEN,
  Roumanian Prime Minister.
]

[Illustration:

  His Excellency TAKE JONESCO,
  Roumanian Minister of Finance.
  _Photo_]                [_Elliott & Fry._
]

My audience with him was of an essentially confidential nature. He told
me many interesting things which, for the present, it would be
injudicious to publish, in view of the strained relations between
Bulgaria and Turkey. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is a millionaire’s
palace—huge white-and-gold _salons_, with polished floors, fine
pictures, and beautiful gilt-and-red damask furniture. A showy
millionaire built it as his residence, and died soon afterwards. Then
the Government bought it for an old song, with the result that the
Ministry is housed in more gorgeous quarters than any other Ministry in
Europe.

From my inquiries in various political quarters in Bucharest, both among
members of the Government and the Opposition, I found one unanimous
view, that war between Turkey and Bulgaria over Macedonia must come at
an early date. In Roumania the opinion is that even though a European
prince be appointed Governor-General of Macedonia, the war between the
two countries would only be postponed. It is believed that Bulgaria is
strong, and that the Stancioff policy will be to resist the Turk by arms
within a very few months.

As Bulgaria hates the Turk, so does Roumania. But the latter will not
assist Bulgaria unless she gets some _quid pro quo_. This fact became
very forcibly impressed upon me. Bulgaria cannot attack Turkey without
Roumania’s consent, so the Roumanians declare. And moral support will
only be given on one condition. That is, if Bulgaria, as the result of
the war, annexes any Macedonian territory—as she naturally would do—then
she should cede to Roumania that portion of her territory lying between
the Danube and the Black Sea, taking a line from a little east of
Rustchuk to a little east of Varna. Such condition is certainly not to
be viewed in Bulgaria with any satisfaction, yet as its acceptance would
mean the extension of Bulgaria to the Adriatic, the settlement of the
Macedonian question, and the final destruction of effete Turkey as a
power in Europe, the Bulgarian Cabinet are considering it very
carefully.

Roumania is not over-anxious to extend her territory, but her present
frontier between Rustchuk and the Black Sea is one which she knows it
would be impossible to defend in case of hostilities. She therefore
desires a better frontier, in order that she can hold her own in time of
war. Besides, she naturally will want some of the spoils when the Turks
and Greeks are driven from Macedonia.

The Roumanian policy is one of peace, combined with firmness. General
Lahovary is not a vacillating statesman. His policy is one of progress,
as his action towards Greece over the ill-treatment of Roumanians in
Macedonia has shown. It is intended, no doubt, that the much-vexed
question shall not be settled without Roumania having a hand in it. As
is well known, Germany protects Roumania’s interests in Macedonia.
Through her, the Roumanian schools have been established in Salonica,
Monastir, and other places; but quite recently the good relations with
Germany have been somewhat lessened owing to some friction regarding the
exploitation of the Roumanian oil wells by a German syndicate. The
German intention was to make a trust, which Roumania promptly quashed by
passing a special Act directed against them. It is a curious fact that
since this friction Germany has stood by and witnessed the terrible
atrocities committed by the Greek bands upon the Roumanians in Macedonia
without raising her voice in protest. This, in itself, is sufficient to
make one doubt Germany’s sincerity, and certainly the eyes of the
Roumanians are already pretty wide open to the machinations of Berlin in
the Balkans.

[Illustration:

  His Excellency GEO. G. MANO,
  Roumanian Minister of War.
]

[Illustration:

  SIR CONYNGHAM GREENE,
  British Minister at Bucharest.
  _Photo_]            [_Bassano._
]

The conflict between Roumania and Greece—whatever may be thought of the
very recent discovery of Roumanians in Macedonia—is quite simple. There
are in Macedonia undoubtedly a small percentage of the population which
speaks Roumanian, and who are appealing to their brothers for protection
to allow them to remain Roumanians. In face of this appeal there are two
courses of action possible. One is to reply, “You are of no importance;
you are so few; you are too far away; you cannot expect us to embroil
ourselves in foreign politics for your sake. And besides, our ideals and
our aspirations are different.” The other reply is to adopt the course
which, for the past forty years, all Roumanian Governments have adopted,
namely, to protect and support their subjects abroad and look after
their general interests. Roumania has already done this in Macedonia.
She obtained an irade from the Sultan recognising the Roumanians in
Turkey as a nation apart, and giving them the right to live as
Roumanians. And what has been the result? Bands of Greek _antartes_ at
once crossed into Macedonia and began to assassinate and torture every
Roumanian subject they could lay hands upon. Is it therefore any wonder
that diplomatic negotiations should be broken off between Bucharest and
Athens?

The action of Roumania in pressing for the rights of Roumanians in
Macedonia and in obtaining the irade has, of course, been the subject of
much criticism in the European press. M. Take Jonesco has been
personally criticised as having been the prime mover of the agitation of
the past two years. I mentioned it to him, and he denied that Roumania
had any ulterior motive in Macedonia save to protect her subjects there
and to allow them their own language, their own religion, their own
education, and give them freedom to live as Roumanians. It was absurd,
he declared, to suggest that Roumania intended to acquire territory in
Macedonia, or that the Roumanian Valachs were of only recent discovery.
Their geographical position refuted the first suggestion; and as to the
second, he proved to me that geographers and travellers had written
about them a century ago, one proof being that the English traveller
Leake had mentioned them in his book, published in 1814, saying that the
race in question were undoubtedly Roumanians. Leake also says: “The
Valachs occupy the centre of Macedonia and Thessaly, and nearly all the
Pindre, forming three principal groups.” The Finance Minister also
showed me the evidence collected by the Roumanian writer, Nicholas
Papahagi, and recently issued under the title _Les Roumains de Turquie_.
To me he proved most conclusively that the Roumanian contention was at
least well founded, and that the European critics were incorrect in
supposing that Roumania wants territory in Macedonia. She may have her
eye upon that little strip of Bulgaria in order to strengthen her
frontier, and, I think, quite naturally. She knows that “a big Bulgaria”
is bound to arise. She can never hope to be of equal strength with the
Bulgar. Therefore she wants to entrench herself now that there is a
forthcoming opportunity.

Both General Lahovary and M. Take Jonesco were quite frank with me in
their explanation of Roumania’s future policy. Roumania knows that
nowadays right, if not supported by force, is not might. Grand words, if
not sustained by bayonets, bring serious men into ridicule. During the
past two years the Roumanian army has been improved, consolidated, and
brought into perfection. But their intentions are entirely pacific, even
though they have not hesitated to augment the war budget, and will still
augment it if necessary. Roumania intends to remain passive in the
present Balkan complications, but if she finds it necessary for the
protection of her compatriots in Macedonia she will, like Bulgaria, take
arms against the Turk and drive him back into his capital, and across
into Asia Minor—which is surely the best place for him.

I spoke with several Roumanian statesmen upon the idea of a
Confederation of the Balkan States. Most of them were in accord that
such a thing was within the bounds of possibility, but that it was very
unlikely that Roumania would ever enter such a Confederation. Roumanians
are fond of declaring that their country is not a Balkan State, yet if
such Confederation were formed it seems difficult to see how Roumania
could hold aloof.

[Illustration: GEN. JACQUES LAHOVARY, Roumanian Minister of Foreign
Affairs.]

It is perhaps premature to talk seriously of such a Confederation. In
the various political quarters where I referred to the question, I found
that Roumanians considered it at present very difficult of arrangement,
and very dubious whether Roumania could ever enter it. Events of the
last thirty years have considerably altered the map of Europe, and in
each case smaller States have been amalgamated into kingdoms and
empires, such as Italy and Germany. The saying of King Corvin that “The
kingdom which has not one language is a mad kingdom” is, in our days, no
longer true, Austria being an example. The Serbs, the Bulgars, the
Greeks, and the Roumanians are widely separated by language and by race.
Yet, threatened on the one side by Germany and the other by Austria,
they may, in the near future, find it judicious to combine, as the only
way of preserving their territory and independence. The difficulties of
the problem are, however, many. The Greeks and Bulgars are at drawn
swords, the Roumanians and Greeks have broken off diplomatic
negotiations, and between the Serbs and Bulgars the feeling is not
really so friendly as it should be. At the bottom of all, too, we find
the everlasting question of Macedonia, which, in itself, must prevent a
Confederation. But if it is ever accomplished, then it will take a high
place in the general politics of Europe. Besides, it is improbable that
the Confederation could ever be formed without objections being raised
by the Powers, and it is very likely a great war might result. In
Roumania, therefore, the idea of a Balkan Confederation is not regarded
with great favour. The first question of all is Macedonia—ever
Macedonia, and “the terrible Greek.”

As regards the internal politics of Roumania, they are not within the
scope of this present volume. Both the finance and commerce of the
country seem to be in an excellent state notwithstanding the recent
dissatisfaction of the peasantry. Thanks to the efforts of M. Jonesco,
the finances of the country are now in a thoroughly sound condition, and
every day sees greater prosperity. As I found in Servia and in Bulgaria
openings for British capital, so there is in Roumania also many openings
for British industrial enterprises, especially weaving. The climate is
not favourable for cotton-spinning, but for weaving there are many
enterprises that would pay good dividends.

In the petroleum wells there have been, since their discovery fifteen
years ago, about 150,000,000 francs of foreign capital invested. Greater
part of this is German, but there is also a French, Italian, and Dutch
element in the various companies exploiting the wells. The Standard Oil
Company of America have about 15,000,000 francs invested, but there is
no British enterprise. The oil is refined in Roumania, but a good deal
of crude oil is sent to France, as well as great quantities of benzine.

From Turn Severin, on the western border of the country, the petroleum
zone can be distinctly traced at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains,
skirting them in their course through the country towards Bukovina and
Galicia on the north-east. Along the whole length of this zone are
primitive hand-dug wells, the workings prior to 1873, when the American
oilfields were discovered. Since 1895, however, a new stimulus was given
to the industry by the modification of the mining laws, and from that
date the oil industry has been gradually increasing, and only awaits the
introduction of British capital to develop the enormous oil-fields.

It is claimed that the Roumanian petroleum contains 14, 15 and 25 per
cent. more pure oil than American, Galician, or Caucasian oils
respectively. The total production in 1905 was 602,000 tons, or double
the production of four years ago, while the export has nearly doubled in
the past two years. The Deutcher and Dresden Banks and the Disconto
Gesellschaft have about three million and a half pounds invested in it,
while a new company, called the “Trajan,” with a capital of £200,000,
has recently been formed, of which Marmorosch, Blank, & Co. of
Bucharest, the principal promoters, have taken two-fifths. It will
absorb the “Helios” and several other minor companies.

Very large areas of the Roumanian oil-fields are the property of the
State, and have hitherto been unworked, but the Minister of Commerce,
when I questioned him upon the subject, informed me that a law recently
passed by the Chamber provides for the leasing of these lands to private
companies, though important provisos are introduced in order to prevent
monopolies. The Minister explained to me the chief points of the new
laws, and as they may interest British capitalists, I give them. It
appears that the Government may now lease for a period of fifty years
prospected or unprospected land of maximum areas of 100 and 1000
hectares respectively. The concession is granted to the party offering
the highest rent. No more than three lots can be leased to one
concessionaire. The capital, which must be at least 2,000,000 francs for
every 100 hectare lot of prospected land or 1000 hectares of
unprospected land, must be deposited. Amalgamation or assignment is
illegal, and any secret fusion involves loss of the concession. The
State reserves to itself the exclusive right of working all means of
transport for petroleum, and will take a compensation of at least 10 per
cent. on the gross profit of the working. Over and above that rent, the
State participates in the net profits of the working as follows: (1)
one-third should the net profit fluctuate between 10 and 30 per cent.;
(2) from 30 and more per cent., the share of the State is 50 per cent.
of the net profits. The State levies upon concessionaires a lease-charge
of 20 francs per hectare, and in addition the general taxes are to be
paid. All concessions are subject to Roumanian laws and regulations, and
the State assumes no responsibility for the profitableness of land
leased.

These conditions are certainly onerous, yet there is no doubt a big
field for British capital in Roumanian oil. The Minister of Commerce
impressed upon me this fact, and declared that he would give every
facility to intending concessionaires, providing they were properly
introduced, and were persons who meant serious business.

In the words of our Consul-General at Galatz, “It is not very easy to
account for the apathy of British capitalists in seeking openings in
Roumania. Perhaps its position in the remote corner of Europe, and
perhaps the difficulties of language have something to do with it.”
Anyhow, there is a big future before the oil industry in Roumania, and
it is amazing that no one has yet had the courage to try the business
under the new conditions. As the Minister pointed out, “The American
Standard Oil Company are already firmly established in Roumania. Why
should not an English company also work the fields?”

The future, and not a far-distant one, will no doubt see many of the
wells exploited by British capital.

In Roumania there are also salt mines sufficient to supply the whole
world. The coal deposits are not numerous, but iron and copper are known
to exist, though they are not yet exploited.

I had an opportunity of examining the commercial statistics for the
present year, not yet published, and they showed on the exports an
augmentation on each of the past six years of considerably over 100
million francs. This, in itself, speaks volumes for the prosperity of
this the most civilised and progressive nation of the Orient, which has,
no doubt, a greater and far more brilliant future before it.

[Illustration: HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN OF ROUMANIA.]



                              CHAPTER III
                   A CHAT WITH THE QUEEN OF ROUMANIA

The royal drawing-room—Her Majesty’s greeting—Her kind words of
    welcome—Roumania not in the Balkan States—We talk politics—The name
    of “Carmen Sylva”—The Queen’s deep interest in the blind—She shows
    me some photographs—Public interest in the new institution—I visit
    it next day.


I was standing one Sunday evening in the great drawing-room of the royal
palace at Bucharest, chatting with Madame Zoe Bengesco, lady-in-waiting
to the Queen of Roumania.

Madame Maurojeni, _grande-maîtresse_ of Her Majesty’s Court, had
appointed my audience for half-past six, and as the bowing liveried
servants had conducted me through the great entrance and up the large
red-carpeted horse-shoe staircase, I was struck with the old-fashioned
comfort, combined with taste, everywhere displayed.

While chatting with Madame Bengesco, who was inquiring after some mutual
friends in Belgrade, I glanced around the great salon or salons—for
there are two of equal proportions, the one running at right angles with
the other. Splendid old brocade-covered furniture, tables with
interesting knick-knacks, a grand piano, the fine organ upon which Her
Majesty so often plays, beautiful hangings, magnificent paintings upon
the walls and old Persian rugs upon the polished floor, all combined,
under the soft electric light, to produce a harmony of quiet taste and
luxury.

The salons were huge, high-ceilinged, and splendid, yet there was an air
of homeliness about them, and indeed about the whole palace, that I have
not found in other royal palaces of Europe wherein I have been received.
The great quiet room bore traces of the artistic hand of Her Majesty
herself.

I had asked for audience not without some misgiving, for His Majesty the
King was lying very ill, and the Queen—the “Carmen Sylva” of European
literary fame—was at his bedside always, administering to her sick
husband’s wants, nursing him, and reading aloud to him for hours each
day. For weeks she had given audience to no one, therefore it was a
pleasant surprise when Madame Maurojeni told me that the Queen was going
to make an exception in my case.

I was chatting with Madame Bengesco, and suddenly turned to find Her
Majesty—a tall, fine figure _en décolletée_, a sweet smile of welcome
upon her face—standing before me. She wore a very handsome gown of pale
dove-grey _crêpe-de-chine_, but no jewellery save a single gold bracelet
and one or two very fine rings.

“So you have come to see our country, Mr. N——?” Her Majesty exclaimed in
English, smiling pleasantly, after I had made my obeisance, and she had
shaken hands with me. “Come, let us sit over in that corner. It is more
cosy.” And she conducted me to a luxurious little corner of the salon,
while the lady-in-waiting retired.

I began by thanking Her Majesty for giving me audience at such a time of
anxiety.

“I have just left the King to come to you,” she answered. “He is very
much better, I am thankful to say, and yesterday took a little
nourishment. Ah yes, it has been a most anxious time for me. You will
forgive me if I am a little tired, won’t you? When I heard you were in
Bucharest I determined to meet you. I have heard of you, long ago, you
know! Now, tell me, what brings you to Roumania?”

I explained that my confidential mission was to inquire into the future
of the Balkans, whereupon she interrupted me with that sweet laugh that
is one of her characteristics, saying—

“Ah, you must never include us in the Balkan States, recollect! We
Roumanians speak another language; the Danube separates us from the
Balkans, and we have nothing in common with the races on the other side
of the river. The reason why we are not taking part in this year’s
Exhibition at your Earl’s Court is because they have called it ‘The
Balkan Exhibition.’”

I laughingly promised to be very careful on the point in future. As she
sat before me, the handsome, thoughtful countenance, the white hair
brushed straight back, and the soft and very becoming head-dress, Her
Majesty was surely the most picturesque, the most interesting, and
perhaps the most accomplished and intelligent of the Queens of Europe.

I told her of my journey through Northern Albania, in which she was
deeply interested, and asked me lots of questions. Then I explained how
I was on my way to Constantinople and through Macedonia, whereupon she
made a quick gesture with her hands, and exclaimed—

“Then you are studying Macedonia! Ah, what a very difficult task you
have! We have Roumanians in Macedonia, as you know—and, poor people,
they are being treated very badly. What the outcome of it all is to be,
who can tell? There are so many conflicting peoples, so many conflicting
interests, so much jealousy among the Powers.”

“Ah! I see that your Majesty takes an interest in politics!” I
exclaimed.

“No. You are mistaken,” she answered. “I, of course, know the general
outlines of most of the subjects, but I am a woman, and am not expected
to be a politician. My sphere lies in endeavouring to do good to the
people, to ameliorate their sufferings, and to look after my various
charitable institutions.”

Surely the name of Carmen Sylva—that sweet-faced, womanly woman who,
though a queen, is so charming and unassuming—is synonymous with all
that is good and charitable. For Roumania, she has done what no other
woman has done. Nearly all the charity of the country has been
initiated, and partly supported, by her efforts. She lives her life for
the poor and needy, and has worked hard for years on their behalf.

In society in Bucharest I had heard some talk of her great interest in
the blind, and that one of her protégés, himself a blind man, had
invented a machine by which the Braille type for blind-books could be
printed by type, instead of, as hitherto, being embossed by hand. This
subject I referred to, when at once her eyes shone with enthusiasm and
she said—

“Then if you would like to know all about it, Mr. N——, I’ll tell you. It
all came about in this way. Some years ago I had, as copyist, a servant,
quite a poor man. His young wife and his children had died, and, poor
fellow, he was in the greatest depths of despair when I took him into my
service. So I gave him very hard work to do, in order that his mind
should be occupied and he should forget. Well, time went on, and I was
always much interested in the welfare of the blind, when one day this
servant came to me and told me that a certain blind man named
Theodorescu, whom we had rescued, was making experiments whereby the
Braille books could be multiplied by printing, and thus place reading
and instruction in the hands of every blind person in the world. This, I
saw, would mean light in the darkness of the afflicted, so we provided
the poor fellow with means to perfect his invention, with the result
that he produced a rough and somewhat incomplete process. This was then
taken over by Mr. Monske, an old servant of mine, who worked here in a
room in the palace for over a year trying to perfect the machine. We
made no mention of it to a soul, but kept it a dead secret, until at
last success came, and now it is patented over the whole world—the first
complete machine for printing books for the blind!”

“Have you many blind in Roumania?” I asked.

“They say we have twenty thousand. But I believe we have many more,
because already in Bucharest the police have discovered for me many more
than were shown upon their statistics. But let me tell you what the
outcome of this invention is, and what it will be,” the Queen went on.
“I have recently started a small blind institution, where the books will
eventually be printed. I might tell you that some time ago, before the
invention was perfected, we sent for an American machine, a cumbersome
affair, which cost three thousand francs. Our machine will cost only
three hundred francs. A Vienna firm wished to manufacture them, but I
preferred that they should be made here, in Roumania. Well, our small
institution—which is under the direction of Mr. Monske and his wife—is
already in working order. See”—and she rose and took me across the
salon, where there were a number of photographs arranged in a big frame
surmounted by the royal crown and cipher, copies of which are reproduced
in these pages.

[Illustration: The Queen of Roumania’s Blind Institute in Bucharest.]

“Here, you see, are some pictures which the photographer very kindly
sent me. Aren’t they interesting? Here is the first child we found. He’s
an intelligent little chap, with musical instincts evidently, for I was
told a few days ago that he had been found trying to play four
instruments at once! Here you see them basket-making—here they are
having a concert—and here is a group—and so on. Aren’t they
interesting?” she asked enthusiastically. “And to think that they were
nearly all found as beggars. Some are men who have been in good
positions. That man was an officer, for instance!”

Then Her Majesty went back to her seat, and I reseated myself with her.

“The present institution is only the beginning,” she said. “I have a
scheme for establishing a city for the blind—a model town, to which the
blind of every nation may come and work, and support themselves. Now I
will tell you something about it. When it was known that I intended to
do this, people came forward on every hand to give me assistance. One
gentleman gave me 100,000 francs, while a lady has given me the site for
the city near Sinaia, a beautiful place where, close by, we have a
castle. The site is an ideal one, and very shortly we shall lay it out
with model houses built in modern style, in which two families can live.
We do not wish to separate a blind man from his family, but the kitchens
will be in common, so that the wife may be relieved of much of her
household duties and afforded time to work and earn money.”

“We have several model villages in England, your Majesty,” I remarked.
“The one called Port Sunlight might interest you. I could perhaps get
photographs from Mr. Lever, who built it.”

“Oh, do. It would be so kind of you. Will you ask him?” she said. “I
might get some excellent ideas from Mr. Lever’s scheme. Of course we
must have a working men’s club, a concert hall, a church, and recreation
room.”

“And what does your Majesty call your present institution?”

“In Roumanian it is ‘The Hearth of Light,’ but in English it would be
better translated as ‘The Home of Light.’ Would you like to visit it?”

“I should be delighted,” I replied.

“Then Monske shall call for you and show you everything. Remember that
the people are not paupers. From the first day they come to us they
receive one franc a day, which is increased according to the skill they
show in chair-making, basket-making, rope-making, and other such
industries. As regards the blind city scheme, Mrs. Fern, wife of a
former American Minister here, is starting for the United States in a
few days, and is taking one of the new machines with her, and is going
to hold conferences and explain the scheme in the principal cities of
America. You see now, for the first time, education is fully open to the
blind. The books will be printed as easily as other books, and will be
within the reach of all. It is a splendid thing—and I am happy to say
that I am receiving donations from every side. I have worked for years,
and now the people are, I am gratified to think, appreciating my efforts
in the cause of humanity. Yesterday Monske came to me and showed me 500
francs he had that day received. I held up notes for 7000 francs, which
I had also received. One firm has sent me a magnificent organ, and I
have even poor families subscribing a franc a month towards the blind.
Does not that show that in the hearts of the people there is a corner
for the poor afflicted? But remember that the blind colony is to be open
to all nationalities. It is a big undertaking, I admit; for I have in
Roumania twenty thousand people and their families. Yet the scheme will
work, I am confident. And while they are now in penury, they will soon
be educated, and be able to place themselves, by their work, in a
position of independence.”

For over an hour we chatted together, until, after promising to send me
a signed photograph of herself and of the King, she rose, saying—

“I am so delighted to have had a chat with you, Mr. N——. I will send Mr.
Monske to you in the morning. But the King is alone, and will want me to
read again to him, so I must go.” And Her Majesty, smiling graciously,
gave me her hand, saying, “_Au revoir._”

I bowed over it, thanked her for the audience, and retired, charmed by
her marvellous personality, her sweet silver voice, her kindly manner,
and her queenly bearing, all of which combined to create an impression
which will always remain with me—an hour spent with a woman who is
unique in the whole world.

Next day Her Majesty sent me the autographed photograph which appears on
another page, together with a very charming note of thanks for a slight
service I had been able to render her.

One morning a few days later, by the Queen’s order, I was shown over her
Blind Institute, which is called the “Vatra Luminoasa Regina Elizaveta,”
and is in the Boulevardul Carol, in Bucharest.

A large comfortable house, standing back from the road in its own
grounds, it is the first institution to be founded under the new scheme,
and the nucleus of what will most certainly become a great and important
charitable work. Mr. Monske, the Director, a pleasant-faced, youngish
man, with a bright, open expression, received me, in the business-like
office, where a blind typist was busy with correspondence, using a
Remington machine with celluloid caps on each third key.

“Ah!” exclaimed the poor afflicted typist in French, “you do not know
what this place means to us! Take myself, for example. I was a clerk in
an office here, in Bucharest, and eight years ago I went totally blind.
My life after my misfortune was one of misery. I was in the depths of
despair, for the blind are not wanted on the earth. And then came the
good Queen, and saved me. My story is the same as all of us here—lifted
out of despair and placed in a position of comfort and independence, for
all of us are paid for our work.”

The poor clerk seemed thankful from the very bottom of his heart. He was
full of praise of Her Majesty’s great goodness, and the kindness of the
private persons helping her. Of Mr. Monske he sang praises, and then
when he was told who and what I was, he asked me in the name of his
fellow-inmates of the Institute to tell the English what a grand and
noble work “Carmen Sylva” was doing.

Mr. Monske then took me to the music-room, a large bright apartment with
a fine organ,—the gift of a blind Austrian gentleman,—two pianos, and
other musical instruments. On the walls were the portraits of the King
and Queen, while the floor was of polished oak. Here, one afternoon each
week, Her Majesty comes, accompanied by her ladies-in-waiting and some
friends, and gives the blind inmates and their families a musical
entertainment. Thus the Queen keeps the Institute under her own personal
supervision.

In another room—a play-room—I saw a homely-looking woman playing with a
little blind child of four years, while the oldest inmate I saw was
about sixty. The dormitories for the thirty-two inmates that were there
at the time of my visit were scrupulously clean and very airy. Each man
had his bed, his washstand, his lock-up wardrobe, while the floors
everywhere were covered with linoleum.

I was taken to a long new building, just erected in the grounds, which
is being fitted as a rope-works. There is room for thirty men to work
with ease. Close beside it is about to be erected a private chapel,
given by a gentleman in Bucharest, while on the other side of the house
I was shown the chair-making workshops, the overseer of which was a
blind man himself. Here, while some were expert menders of cane chairs,
others were being taught the trade. The Director explained that he had
just signed a big contract with a firm of chair-makers, and showed me
the hundreds upon hundreds of frames ready to go into the hands of the
blind.

[Illustration: Blind Inmates at Work.]

The last department I was shown was that in which the new Theodorescu
machine was being used to emboss blind-books. It is an interesting and
ingenious method by which the type, consisting of small blunt pins, is
set in a brass frame very similar to ordinary type, and is set indeed by
the blind themselves. Then, when a frame is full, it is put into a
special press, and any number of impressions can be taken from the
embossing-pins.

Mr. Monske first reduces the printed book to embossed Braille
characters, and these are set up by the blind compositors, and
impressions taken very rapidly. I was shown bulky volumes of well-known
works that have already been printed in this manner and now, for the
first time, given to the blind. Recently Mr. Monske made a tour to the
various blind institutions in France, Austria, and Germany, and without
any prospectus, sold 140 of the machines. It certainly is a simple but
most ingenious invention, which in the future will bring great profits
to the Queen’s blind colony.

As regards private subscriptions, I was shown the list. They range from
50 centimes to £4000. On the day previous to my visit it was shown by
the list that Her Majesty had received over 5000 francs in donations.
Funds are coming in, it is true, but for the development of the scheme a
large sum is required. It is for that reason that Her Majesty is making
an earnest appeal all over the world to those interested in the welfare
of the blind. Her great institution—of which this is only the nucleus—is
an international one, and men and their families of all creeds and
nationalities are eligible. Her Majesty has asked me to say that
subscriptions, however small, can be sent either to Madame Zoe Bengesco,
Dame d’Honneur to the Queen of Roumania, Bucharest, or to Mr. R. Monske,
Director “Vatra Luminoasa Regina Elizaveta,” Boulevardul Carol 31,
Bucharest, and would be duly acknowledged.



                                 TURKEY



[Illustration:

  HIS EXCELLENCY TEWFIK PASHA,
  Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Imperial Ottoman Empire.
]



                               CHAPTER I
                      THE LAND OF THE WANING MOON

The Orient Express again—On the Black Sea to Constantinople—A
    disenchantment—My dragoman—How to bribe the Customs officers—Mud and
    dogs—A city of spies—Feebleness of British policy at the
    Porte—Turkish adoration of Germany—The basis of my confidential
    inquiries.


From Bucharest to Constantinople is not at all an unpleasant journey.

The Orient Express runs twice a week to Constantza, the Roumanian port
on the Black Sea, where there is a fine and comfortable
passenger-steamer service direct to Constantinople.

At Bucharest Station I was seen off by several kind friends, with many
parting injunctions to “take care of myself” in Macedonia, and it was
not without regret that I left the gay little Roumanian capital, where I
had received so much hospitality, from Her Majesty the Queen down to
some of the humblest of her subjects.

The “Orient,” on the Constantza line, is not so well fitted, nor is the
food so good, as upon the direct line from Paris to Constantinople by
way of Belgrade and Sofia.

The whole train was shabby, dusty, and over-heated, and the dinner,
instead of the usual _table d’hôte_, was _à la carte_. The only item on
the bill of fare, however, proved to be beef-steak. The small piece
cooked for me was fit only for a dog, and served on a dirty tablecloth;
therefore I was compelled to make my dinner off stale bread and soapy
cheese. And this on a _train de luxe_—and one of the principal European
Expresses!

The Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits et Grand Express Européenes
are not very considerate towards travellers to the East. There is
neither competition in sleeping accommodation nor buffets, therefore the
rolling-stock is often old-fashioned and dirty, and the food leaves very
much to be desired. Surely upon a journey of three or four days, the
maximum degree of comfort should be secured! Why should the traveller
who spends one night between Calais and Nice be better provided for than
he who goes East from Ostend to Constantinople—a four days’ journey?

In the “Orient,” the old-fashioned coal-fire heating in every carriage
is still in vogue, and consequently the person who is unfortunate enough
to have a berth near the stove is half roasted, while he who is at the
farther end is half frozen. The traveller who goes East would certainly
welcome the up-to-date _wagons-lits_ of the Mediterranean or Carlsbad
Expresses.

I travelled in the “Orient” from Paris to Vienna, from Belgrade to
Sofia, from Bucharest to Constantza, and from Nisch in Servia to Paris,
and on each of the trains were the same defects in sleeping comfort, and
often in food.

It is to be hoped that the Company will shortly remedy this, for on some
of their routes, notably Calais-Paris, or Paris-Marseilles, the food is
all that can be desired.

The Express, after passing the wonderful bridge over the Danube, arrives
at the quay at Constantza, or Kustendji, as is its local name, at eleven
o’clock at night, where the mails from London and Vienna are quickly
transferred on board, and we are soon under steam, with the flashing
light of Cape Tusla fast disappearing at the stern.

The steamer _King Charles_ makes the voyage from Constantza to
Alexandria, calling at Constantinople, and is a very comfortable and
up-to-date boat, with excellent state-rooms and a fine saloon, and
ladies’ drawing-room. Officers and men are Roumanians, but as the head
steward speaks French there is no difficulty. An excellent supper at
midnight, with Roumanian white wine, caviare, and a glass of
_slivovitza_ to follow, and then a stroll on the deck in the white
moonlight.

Past the Kamara and Shabaloh lights, we at last see the broad rays from
the Kali Akra, and then we head straight out upon the lonely sea for the
Bosphorus. One by one, the tired travellers, some of them from Ostend,
Berlin, or Petersburg, make for their berths, and finding myself alone,
I turn into the comfortable deck cabin kindly secured for me by telegram
by my friend the Minister of Finance in Bucharest.

Rising early, I was already out on deck and taking photographs as we
passed the two Turkish forts, Kilia and Poiraz, at the narrow entrance
to the Bosphorus. And after stopping to take up our pilot, we crept
slowly up the narrow channel amid delightful scenery, some of which I
photographed and have reproduced in these pages, past the pretty summer
resort of Therapia and Anatoli Hissar, until we approached the capital
of Turkey, with her hundred domes and minarets, looking almost like a
fairy city against the blue cloudless sky as we approached.

But what a disenchantment on landing! That terrible rabble at Galata in
the midst of dirt and squalor, of shouting touts, scrambling porters,
and scavenger dogs, is a thing to be ever remembered. Fortunately, I had
a Greek dragoman, one Demosthenes Cambothecras, to meet me. I can
recommend him as an excellent and honest fellow, and to the intending
traveller I may say that a letter addressed to the Pera Palace Hotel
will always find him.

He stood on the quay amid the thousand off-scum of Constantinople, and
shouted my name. I shouted back, and ten minutes later we met. When I
gave him over my baggage ticket, he said—

“The customs here, m’sieur, are difficult. But, with your permission, I
will give the officer five francs.”

I assented readily, and my luggage was passed without inquiry, while
that of a bespectacled Hungarian next me was examined piece by piece,
greatly to the disgust and consternation of his obese wife.

I saw no money pass in the shabby, shed-like Custom House, but he told
me that the chief of the Customs employed an agent out in the street to
receive his bribes! So much for the morality of the Custom dues in
Turkey. In that very same week the British Ambassador had made protest
to the Sublime Porte regarding the same thing, but was promptly “snuffed
out” by the all-influential Power, Germany.

Germany and German interests are always paramount in Turkey. If you are
an Englishman, you may take a back seat and endure all your passport
worries, but the German is, by the Turk, supposed to be his friend.
German diplomacy is clever, wary, and unscrupulous, and in the Sultan’s
capital you are treated with deference if you are a subject of the
Kaiser William.

And how strange and ridiculous it all is! Germany intends ere long to
wipe Turkey off the face of Europe—only Turkey cannot see it. She is
fascinated and spellbound by German cringing and German goodwill, all
pretence, and all directed towards the one end of traitorous
abandonment.

Great Britain, notwithstanding her fine Embassy, is entirely eclipsed by
the big white palace overlooking the Bosphorus which houses the German
Ambassador. Tewfik Pasha, the Sultan’s Minister for Foreign Affairs,
lives beneath its shadow, and the Turks look upon Germany as their
natural protector and friend. A British protest to the Porte passes
unheeded, while a German protest receives attention and adjustment the
very next day. A German diplomatist at the Sublime Porte told me this
with a roar of laughter, adding—

“We are the only diplomatists here. We are listened to. You are merely
tolerated.”

And verily he spoke a great truth.

Our big grey Embassy in Pera, with its gorgeous Montenegrin _kavass_,
may be extremely ornamental and impressive, but nowadays of little use.
The British taxpayer is paying for the glorification of Great Britain
without one single farthing’s worth of benefit. The Turkish
Government—clever as they are—laugh in the face of our persevering and
well-meaning Ambassador. They give him, or his representative, cups of
rather badly-made coffee in Tewfik’s shabby anteroom at the Sublime
Porte, and put their fingers to their noses behind his back. It is not
the fault of our Ambassador, or of his staff. All of them are practised
diplomatists, who endeavour to their utmost to do their duty to King and
Country, and to protect British interests in the East. The fault lies in
the timid policy and shrinking politeness adopted by our present
Government. The late lamented Lord Salisbury, or Lord Beaconsfield,
would never for a moment have submitted to the open rebuffs which Great
Britain daily meets with nowadays at Constantinople.

The Turk knows that Germany is behind him, and is therefore defiant. So
British diplomacy is beaten every time.

Constantinople swarms with spies. If you have ever been there, and
landed from a steamer, you will recollect that a crowd of unwashed
porters swarm on board directly the ship is made fast. Every man of that
ragged rabble is a spy. He is only allowed on board on condition that he
gives information to the Custom officers ashore as to any concealment of
revolvers, books, or prohibited articles. Respectable dragomans are
constantly asked to assist in this, and offered monetary reward, as well
as a permit to board the ship, but they refuse—and leave the espionage
to the rabble.

And so it is all through the Turkish capital. Spies are everywhere—they
haunt one in all the hotels, even in the much-advertised Pera Palace—and
every movement of the stranger is noted. If you happen to be a German
and have shown your passport in the Custom House, then you go hither and
thither and do whatever you like. But if you are of any other
nationality you will be suspected and haunted by all sorts and
conditions of secret agents, until you kick the mud of Constantinople
off your boots.

I have been more than once in the Sultan’s capital, and on each
occasion, on entering it, have been seized with a fit of depression,
which has only been removed when I have got my passport _viséd_ by the
British Consul-General, and also by the Turkish police, preliminary to
leaving the place.

The squalor in Galata, in Stamboul, and even in aristocratic Pera,
sickens one. The streets, unswept for ages, are an inch deep in slimy
mud, upon which one slides and slips at every step, and the grey,
wolf-like dogs, held sacred by every Turk, prowl about in hordes, each
in their own quarter, living in the streets and sleeping in doorways.

Constantinople, with the most picturesque and beautiful position in all
the world, is the most filthy and uncomfortable of all cities. With the
exception of the Grande Rue, at Pera, there is scarcely a single decent
European business street. Every thoroughfare is crowded to excess by a
motley throng of Mohammedans, both European and Asiatic, and every form
of costume and physiognomy, from the Tartar to the Syrian, may be seen.

The pilgrimages were leaving for Mecca while I was there, and the whole
city was filled with the Faithful from every part of the great Moslem
world. The bridge at Galata was daily a perfect panorama of costume as
the pilgrims assembled to embark.

Though I spent a little time in the great Bazaar—which is always
attractive to the traveller from the West—and revisited Saint Sophia and
other of the big mosques, my days in Constantinople were mostly occupied
in having interesting chats with the heads of the Turkish Government.

I carried letters of introduction to His Excellency Tewfik Pasha, the
Sultan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs; to the Grand Vizier of the Sultan;
to d’Aristarchi Bey, the Grand Logothete; to His Excellency Noury Pasha,
Under-State Secretary for Foreign Affairs; to the British Chargé
d’Affaires, Mr. Geo. H. Barclay—the Ambassador being absent on leave; to
His Excellency Monsieur George Simitch, the Servian Minister; to M.
Dimetri Vlastari, the well-known banker; to Mehemed Ali Pasha; to Riza
Pasha, Minister of War; and to many other of the leading people in the
Turkish capital.

Thus I was enabled to go thoroughly into the present state of affairs. I
was granted an audience of His Majesty the Sultan, as well as by the
Grand Vizier, by Tewfik Pasha, the Khardjie-Naziri, and had many
interviews with the persons named above.

My inquiries were mainly directed to ascertaining—first, what attitude
Turkey was assuming towards Macedonia; secondly, whether the Turks were
alive to the firm intention of Bulgaria for the protection of her
subjects, and in what manner they viewed the prospect of hostilities;
thirdly, the truth about the Macedonian reforms; fourthly, the extent of
German intrigue in Constantinople; fifthly, the Turkish policy towards
Austria; and sixthly, the policy towards Great Britain.

I went to the Porte in order to penetrate the veil of mystery
surrounding diplomacy there, and to get at the true state of affairs.
The task was very difficult, for in the East one is hardly ever told the
real facts about anything. Nevertheless, unique opportunities were
afforded me to obtain knowledge by the absolute facts and the future
aims of both Turkey and Germany—opportunities of which, as will be shown
in the following pages, I was not slow in taking advantage.

In view of the present situation in Turkey, the proclamation of the
“Ottoman Committee of Union and Progress,” which was found posted upon
all the walls of the Pera quarter of Constantinople on January 1 of this
present year, is of great interest in showing the present state of
public feeling in the Turkish capital.

This proclamation, which was issued by a very strong and formidable
party in Turkey, began by stating that Abdul Hamid, after thirty years
of impunity, was now on the verge of death. The fact that now and then
he gives audience of a few minutes’ duration to an Ambassador, or that
at the weekly Selamlik he drives to the mosque, a few yards from his
palace, proves nothing. The Sultan Mahmud fell dead from his horse,
returning from the Selamlik; while the Sultan Medjid was on his feet up
to the very last. In reality Abdul Hamid, knowing the profound effect
which his failure to attend the Selamlik would have upon the people, is
expending all the energies that remain to him in fulfilling this
religious observance and in granting an occasional interview to a
foreign Ambassador.

The proclamation proceeded:—

  “During the thirty years of his reign Abdul Hamid has brought ruin on
  the land; one half of our patrimony he has delivered to the enemy; he
  has destroyed our fleet, disorganised our army; he has reduced the
  people to misery; he has annihilated our governmental system, and has
  left nothing to the civil organisation or the civilisation of the
  past. He has concentrated the whole government into his own hands, and
  has dismissed all his tried and experienced Ministers, transferring
  the reins of office to self-seekers and traitors willing to become his
  tools.”

Grave troubles are predicted after his death, and the Committee urges
the population of the Empire, Christian and Mussulman, to be on their
guard and to consider seriously the following facts:—

  “(1) Abdul Hamid and his accomplices are conspiring to hand over the
  sovereignty and the Caliphate to his fourth son, the youth,
  Burhaneddin, in defiance of the tradition and the civil and religious
  law of the Empire. The success of this stratagem would be a mortal
  blow to the aspirations of the nation.

  “(2) To prevent the enemies of the country from provoking disorders in
  order to bring about foreign intervention, guarantees must be given to
  the Christian populations and, if necessary, written assurances to the
  Embassies.

  “(3) The happiness and the future of the country being dependent upon
  the suppression of the despotic régime and the enforcing of the
  Constitution, which was recognised in 1876 as an inalienable right of
  the nation, and after being two years in operation was perfidiously
  abrogated by Abdul Hamid, our fellow-countrymen, Christian and
  Mussulman, must of one accord exact the application of that
  Constitution, which will restore to the country its vitality and
  safeguard the liberties of the people. United in heart and mind, the
  Ulemas, the notables of the capital and the provinces, must, through
  the intermediary of the Grand Vizier and the Valis, demand of the new
  Sultan that he proclaim and bring into force without delay the clauses
  of the Constitution.

  “(4) The duty of preserving the essential rights of the nation
  belongs, above all, to the members of the guild of the Ulemas and to
  the high civil and military officials; the ceremony of the Biat, when
  the chosen of the people demonstrate the popular sovereignty by
  recognising and accepting the new Sultan, is the most propitious
  occasion for the exercise of that duty. It is an obligation that lies
  upon every Turkish subject to exact a pledge from the delegate he
  sends up to do his duty on that occasion.”

The Manifesto ended with an appeal to the Christian and non-Christian
populations to prepare for the coming crisis.



                               CHAPTER II
                         IN SEARCH OF THE TRUTH

His Excellency Noury Pasha—A quiet chat at his home—Turkish view of
    European criticism—The Turk misunderstood—The massacres in
    Macedonia—My visit to the Sublime Porte—His Excellency Tewfik Pasha
    tells me the truth—A great diplomatist—The fashion to denounce
    Turkey—The attitude of the Porte towards Bulgaria—Significant words.


The first visit I paid was to His Excellency Mehmed Noury Pasha,
Secretary-General of the Imperial Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who is
one of the most advanced and progressive of Turks, and who, next to
Tewfik Pasha, the Sultan’s Foreign Minister, is one of the most powerful
men in Turkey.

As such, it may be interesting to note that he was born in
Constantinople, and having made his early studies in that city, was sent
by the Sultan to Paris, where he underwent a long course of training,
returning to occupy the post of Inspector in the Ministry of Public
Works. Afterwards, he became Director-General, and subsequently his
perfect knowledge of French brought him again before the notice of the
Sultan, who appointed him to the office of Secretary-General in the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a position which he has held for the past
eighteen years.

Through his hands all diplomatic correspondence passes, and to him is
mainly due the clever and tactful diplomacy of the Porte. His is,
indeed, a delicate and laborious task.

[Illustration: HIS EXCELLENCY NOURY PASHA.]

He is a slim, fair-bearded, middle-aged man of very charming manner, and
a delightful companion; shrewd, full of tact and clear discernment.
Times without number he has given proof of assiduous work for his
country’s advancement, and no one knows better than he the defects of
Turkish rule.

By no means bigoted, he is, on the contrary, broad-minded and eager for
reform. He was sent by the Sultan to represent him at Rome at the silver
wedding of the King and Queen of Italy in 1893, and later, was one of
the Peace delegates at the Conference after the Greco-Turkish War. He
acted as second delegate of the Ottoman Empire at the Conference at Rome
against the Anarchists, and also at the Peace Conference at The Hague.

At this latter Conference he won golden opinions from all the delegates
of the other Powers for his politeness, his charm of manner, and the
clever tact with which he performed his somewhat difficult mission.

Few, if any, of the dignitaries of Constantinople possess such a wide
knowledge of Europe, European ways, and European politics. Enjoying the
full confidence of the Sultan and of the Sublime Porte, he is recognised
by the foreign missions as the working head of the Department of Foreign
Affairs. He is the right hand of his chief, Tewfik Pasha, whom he aids
with all his intelligence in the incessant difficulties which beset
Turkish diplomacy. As a mark of their esteem he has been decorated by
nearly every sovereign in Europe, while the Sultan has given him the
plaque in brilliants of the Orders of Osmanie and the Medjidie.

Noury Pasha being well known to me as one of the cleverest men in
Turkey, it afforded me great pleasure to obtain a chat with him one
evening in the quiet of his own home.

He received me in a cosy room on the ground floor, a room that was more
European than Turkish, and where I noticed many signed photographs of
the chief diplomatists of Europe who are his friends.

When we were seated, a man-servant brought us the inevitable tiny cup of
excellent coffee, and delicious cigarettes, and then we fell to
chatting.

I gave him a message from a notable foreign ambassador who was our
mutual friend, and told him the reason I was in Constantinople.

“Ah! So you wish to see His Majesty, and also His Excellency Tewfik
Pasha! Well, I will see what can be done,” was his reply.

“But I want your Excellency to tell me, if you will, what is the present
situation in Turkey, and what are her future aspirations?” I said
boldly.

The question was rather a poser. He hesitated. I pressed him to tell me
the truth as far as he was able, without being injudicious; and at last,
after some reluctance, he consented.

“You Europeans,” he laughed, “are under a great misconception as regards
Turkey. My sovereign, His Imperial Majesty, is often portrayed as a
bloodthirsty brute, who has no regard for human life, and whose reign is
one of terror and terrible injustice. Now the exact opposite is the
truth. You will meet His Majesty, and judge for yourself. I have good
opportunities of seeing how deeply he has the welfare of his people at
heart. Is it not he, for instance, who out of his own pocket supports
some six hundred schools in Turkey? It is he, personally, who has more
than once prevented a declaration of war. I know we Turks have many
defects. But what nation has not? Even you English are not—well, exactly
perfect,” he laughed. “Foreigners come here to Constantinople and hold
up their hands that we do not sweep our streets, as is done in other
capitals. The fact is, Turkey is not a rich country, and we have no
money to expend on scavengers. I and every Turk would only welcome
cleanliness. But how can we do it when we have no funds? Again, the very
people who criticise us, the foreigners, can come and live here for
twenty years and not pay one piastre of municipal tax. Can they do that
in any other country?”

I admitted that they could not.

“Then why should they criticise us? All we want to be allowed to do is
to carry on our government in our own way. Our population is of
different race and different creed from Europeans, and therefore
necessitates a totally different method of government. England does not
understand Turkey, or Turkish methods. I readily grant that our
government would not suit England, but neither would British ideas be
tolerated here. For many years all the diplomatic correspondence of the
Sublime Porte has passed through my hands, hence I know what I am
speaking about when on the topic of Turkish diplomacy. Abroad, we are
told that our word is not our bond, that we give promises that we do not
fulfil, and that we are a century or so behind the times. Well, I admit
that we are not a twentieth-century nation. I admit that our Sublime
Porte is not so imposing as your Foreign Office in Whitehall, or the
Ministère des Affaires Étrangères in Paris, or in Vienna. But I do
maintain that the government of my sovereign, the Sultan, is a
beneficent one for Turkey, and that our foreign policy has for its base
the peace and welfare of the Balkans.”

“But Macedonia?” I remarked.

He shrugged his shoulders.

“The question of Macedonia is, I admit, an extremely difficult one,” he
answered. “We have to govern a population so varied, both in nationality
and in creed, that there must of necessity be constant aggressions and
outbreaks. It is said that we aid and abet the Greek bands in massacring
the Christians. I totally deny this. We do not. Surely it is to our own
interest to maintain peace and order in Macedonia, and not to allow
outsiders to create disorder and dissension!”

“And the protests of Bulgaria?”

His Excellency smiled.

“We hear from time to time threats of war,” was his answer. “But when we
hear them, we remember that we are sixteen million Turks; and when we
sleep, we sleep quite undisturbed by any war rumours from Sofia.”

“Then you do not anticipate armed reprisals from Bulgaria?”

He laughed, but said nothing except—

“Turkey is well informed, I assure you, of all that transpires in
Sofia.”

Noury Pasha’s son, a smart lad of sixteen, entered and chatted with us
in French. He is going to Paris for his education, and is destined for
the Turkish Diplomatic Service. He is a bright, intelligent youth, who,
like his father, is imbued with Western ideas, and yet is naturally full
of patriotism for his own country.

Another cup of excellent coffee, another cigarette over a chat upon
private matters, and I took leave of my host—after I had begged the
photograph which appears in these pages—feeling that I had met one of
the most charming and most intelligent men in the great Ottoman Empire.

Next day I called at the palace of Tewfik Pasha, and on being ushered
into a gorgeous reception-room—very French, but by the way lit by
candles in high glass chimneys—the usual cup of coffee upon a golden
tray and cigarette were brought me. The secretary of the Greek Embassy
was waiting to see His Excellency upon an urgent matter concerning a
massacre by a Greek band in Macedonia which had taken place near Seres
the day previously. This meant, I saw, a long interview, and not caring
to wait, I left a message for His Excellency to the effect that I would
call and see him at the Sublime Porte on the following morning.

Next to His Imperial Majesty the Sultan, Tewfik Pasha is certainly the
most powerful man in the Ottoman Empire. A quiet-mannered, quiet-spoken,
grey-bearded gentleman with kindly eyes and a fatherly manner, he is
entirely the opposite that one would expect of “the terrible Turk.” Born
in Constantinople in 1845, the son of a General of Division, Ismail
Hakki Pasha, he was destined for the army, and prosecuted his studies
with great diligence. Unfortunately, owing to feeble health, he was
compelled to abandon the idea of a military career—not, however, before
he had passed his examination and obtained his diploma. He then chose a
new career, one in which he has certainly rendered his country signal
services. In 1866 he joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as attaché,
six years later being nominated as second secretary at the Ottoman
Legation at Rome, whence he went to Vienna, to Berlin, and, later on, to
Athens. He was transferred to St. Petersburg as first secretary at the
moment when there arose those grave complications which resulted in the
war between Russia and Turkey. Then, during the war, he was appointed
diplomatic agent to the Turkish Commander-in-Chief. In 1879, after the
war, he was sent back to the Russian capital, but on this occasion in
the capacity of Minister Plenipotentiary.

At the early age of forty-one Tewfik Pasha found himself Ambassador at
Berlin, a post which he occupied for ten years, namely, till 1895. His
personal charm, his uprightness, and his frankness of manner endeared
him to his colleagues in the German capital, as well as to the German
Court, and it was he, indeed, who laid the foundation of the present
cordial friendliness between the sovereigns at Berlin and
Constantinople.

Finally, in 1895, the Sultan recalled him to Turkey and promoted him to
be Minister of Foreign Affairs, a powerful position which he still
holds. For the past eleven years he has directed the destinies of the
Ottoman Empire with broad-mindedness, tact, and patience, that have,
without doubt, been highly beneficial to his country’s interests. His
post is no sinecure, as recent history has shown us. Yet he is a
conscientious man of Western ideas and Western views; one of the
cleverest diplomatists in the whole of Europe, and yet at the same time
just and honourable in his dealings. However much we in England may
criticise the policy of the Sublime Porte, we can have only admiration
for Tewfik Pasha, both as a man and as the faithful servant of his
Imperial master.

In Turkey fresh diplomatic difficulties arise every minute, yet with
Noury Pasha’s assistance he grapples with them and deals with them in a
manner which the diplomatists of few other nations could ever hope to
do. Honoured by the most complete confidence of his sovereign, who
possesses for him a particular esteem, Tewfik Pasha is universally known
and liked. The diplomatic corps in Constantinople are ever loud in their
praises of his extreme kindness and courtesy and his readiness to accede
to all requests that are in reason.

His Excellency’s courtesy towards myself was very marked. Hardly had I
been ushered into his anteroom at the Sublime Porte—a very shabby,
unimposing building of long dreary corridors with broken windows and
broken wooden flooring—when the usual coffee was brought, and I signed
his big visitors’ book. In that book I noticed the signatures of all the
diplomatic world of Constantinople. Then there entered the Russian
Ambassador, who, with a cheery “_Bon jour, m’sieur_,” crossed, and also
signed the book.

A moment later the secretary came, and presenting His Excellency’s
regrets to the Ambassador, pointed out that he already had an
appointment with me, and asked whether he would call later. The
representative of the Tzar said he would call the following morning, and
I was then ushered into Tewfik’s private room, a big, cheerful apartment
with splendid Persian carpets, long windows and a large writing-table at
one end, where sat the grey-bearded Minister in frock-coat and fez. He
rose and greeted me with a hearty hand-shake. With him was seated the
Grand Vizier and Noury Pasha, both of whom also greeted me.

We four had a long and very interesting conversation in French, its
drift, however, being such as would be injudicious to print in these
pages. The chat was of a purely private character, although it closely
concerned the present political situation in the Near East.

“The fact is,” remarked His Excellency presently, smiling as he sat back
in his arm-chair before his littered writing-table, “we Turks are not
understood abroad. Writers in England, and especially your journalists,
not knowing Turkey and never having visited the East, criticise us, and
say all sorts of hard things about Turkish rule and Turkish diplomacy.
They call us intolerant and fanatical. But surely there are evidences in
Constantinople that we are tolerant? We allow Christians to erect
churches wherever they want them; and again, have we not done everything
possible in Macedonia to preserve for its inhabitants their religious
liberty? Really, the English ought to know the truth concerning Turkey.
Unfortunately, the fashion of late seems to be to denounce our land and
all its ways!” And he laughed again.

[Illustration: The entrance to the Bosphorus.]

[Illustration: In Constantinople.]

I referred in guarded words to the possibilities of war with Bulgaria,
whereupon he said—

“We view the matter with perfect tranquillity. The Government of His
Imperial Majesty regrets most deeply those unfortunate incidents in
Macedonia that so constantly occur, but is unable to remedy it. It is
the Greek bands that are to blame—not the Turks.”

“And your diplomatic relations with Bulgaria?” I asked.

“They are perfectly normal,” was his reply. “Dr. Stancioff is an able
Minister, and he fully understands us.”

“Then you do not anticipate hostilities at an early date?” I asked,
pressing home my question.

His Excellency said nothing. He merely shrugged his shoulders. But that
gesture was, to me, sufficiently significant.

“You are going to Macedonia,” he said. “It is not altogether safe, you
know, especially around Presba and Ochrida, or about Seres. But if you
_are_ determined to go, I wish you every good luck on your journey.”

I thanked him, and after another half-hour’s pleasant chat with the
Grand Vizier and Noury Pasha I rose, and Tewfik Pasha grasped my hand
heartily in warm farewell, his parting words being—

“Go, see for yourself, and I believe you will find that we Turks are not
quite so black as we are painted.”

And I left the presence of a man whose broad-minded policy, if it were
adopted in every particular, would, I feel sure, advance the Turkish
cause, and place the Ottoman Empire in a very different position from
what it is to-day.

I crossed the Sea of Marmora to Haidar Pasha, in Asia Minor, visited
Ismid, and saw the new German railway that has its head opposite
Stamboul and is to have its terminus on the Persian Gulf. I went to
Brusa, the ancient capital of the Ottoman Empire, walked in the
wonderful burying-grounds of Scutari, and made many interesting
excursions about Asia Minor, in order to observe the all-powerful
influence of Germany in that country. And I was amazed.

On my return to Constantinople I had other interviews at the Yildiz with
His Majesty himself, and with members of the Government, all of which
combined to show that Turkey is not in any way afraid of Bulgaria. The
fact is, she is uncertain of the attitude of Servia and Roumania, and is
rather mystified as to what Austria will do in the event of war. Relying
upon Germany, and treating Great Britain with studied politeness, she
views the present critical position with perfect coolness and
indifference.

Indeed, as Noury Pasha very justly said one day to me—

“It takes a good deal to arouse us Turks, but when we are aroused, we
fight—and fight to the death.”

Turkey to-day is still in its lethargic state, but once aroused, who
knows where the war will end, or what European complications will
result?

                               MACEDONIA

[Illustration: Lake of Ochrida: Macedonia.]

[Illustration: Lake of Presba: Macedonia.]



                               CHAPTER I
                      PLAIN TRUTHS ABOUT MACEDONIA

War imminent between Bulgaria and Turkey—My secret inquiries—Atrocities
    by the Greek bands—Chats with the leaders of the insurrection—The
    truth about the intrigues in Macedonia—I visit the scene of the
    massacres—Stories told to me—Horrifying facts—Germany behind the
    assassins—A disgraceful truth.


This present record of my observations in the Near East would be
incomplete without some description of my journey through Macedonia, and
what I saw there.

The Macedonian question is the burning question of to-day, and one that
can only be solved in one way—by a fierce and bloody war.

As I have already shown, there is every indication that hostilities
between Bulgaria and Turkey must occur in the present year. Indeed, the
thread is now strained to breaking point, and one need never be
surprised to learn at the breakfast-table one morning that Bulgaria has
boldly thrown down the gauntlet to the Sultan. Then, aided by
Roumania—who will be induced to give her support in return for that
additional strip of territory between the Danube and the Black Sea, as I
have already indicated in a previous chapter—a fierce and bitter
struggle will commence. With Bulgaria, the Northern Albanians will ally
themselves according to the words of the various chiefs of whom I made
inquiry; Montenegro, and of course Servia, will hold their own against
the Turk, and the result must be that the whole of the Balkans will be
aflame.

This forecast is no imaginary one. It is based upon information imparted
to me in confidence by Cabinet Ministers themselves—information which is
in part in the possession of the Foreign Office at this moment. Secret
preparations are in active progress both in Roumania and Bulgaria, while
Servia has ordered her new artillery to be delivered at the end of this
present spring. There is a tacit agreement between the Balkan States
that affairs in Macedonia are intolerable, and that the decimated
population must now be protected. And in summary of the various
conversations I had with the monarchs and their Ministers in each of the
Balkan capitals, I can only say that the view is unanimous.

In Servia, in Bulgaria, in Montenegro, in Albania, in Roumania, and in
Macedonia itself I made every inquiry from reliable sources. From secret
information, I was able to gather that there is but one solution of the
question—WAR.

At present the Bulgarian bands formed to protect the Macedonians are
passive. The organisation is still there, and will be of greatest use
when hostilities are declared; but there is no activity, and there has,
indeed, been little since the recent abortive insurrection.

Greek bands, aided and abetted by the Turks, are, however, everywhere,
and each day the most awful atrocities are committed by them. Reports of
these are received in Sofia and in Constantinople, but no representation
is made by either of the Powers to the Sublime Porte or to Athens.
“Macedonia!” exclaimed a well-known foreign Ambassador one day, while I
was sitting at lunch with him at his Embassy, “Macedonia! We’re sick of
Macedonia, and have ceased to trouble about it!”

Ceased to trouble indeed! Here a great and intelligent Christian
population is being slaughtered in order to further the ambitious aims
of Germany, and no one stirs a finger! Europe raised its eyes heavenward
when it heard of the Congo atrocities, yet of poor Macedonia the Powers
are “sick,” and she is cast helpless to the assassin’s knife!

Before going to Macedonia I sought and obtained the opinions of the
leading authorities in the East, as well as those of the rulers and
Ministers. Much told me by the various monarchs was, of course, in
entire confidence, therefore I can only speak generally in declaring
their opinion to be in favour of securing for Macedonia autonomy under a
European prince as Governor-General.

In more than one high quarter Prince Danilo of Montenegro was mentioned
as possible for the post, and in another the name of Prince Mirko of
Montenegro was put forward. A German prince or an Austrian archduke
would be impossible, but an English prince would be welcomed, and the
name of Prince Arthur of Connaught was spoken of by more than one Balkan
Cabinet Minister.

In Servia I had several highly interesting chats with Professor Civics
of Belgrade University, who is a well-known authority on Macedonia, and
who has recently published a book attempting to prove that the bulk of
the Macedonian population is not Bulgar, but Serb. Many of his arguments
I found, on exhaustive inquiry, to be well based, yet my own conclusion
is that, after all, the great majority of the Macedonian population is
really Bulgar.

This fact is admitted all through the Balkans, therefore the situation
in Macedonia must of necessity affect Bulgaria more closely than any
other nation.

The question of Macedonia is a most difficult and complicated one, but I
spared no effort in order to thoroughly master it in all its various
phases, and to get at the truth of the present and the probabilities of
the near future.

In Sofia I had a long talk with Professor Agoura of Sofia University,
who is one of the best-known authorities upon the Macedonian question.
He has been in Macedonia many times, and, like myself, has had an
opportunity of speaking with the people and hearing their grievances.

“In England the Macedonian question is entirely misunderstood,” he said.
“Some writers have taken Professor Civics’ views, and endeavoured to
prove that the Macedonians are really Slavs. But they are not. Their
whole history shows that they are Bulgars.”

“And the present state of the country?” I asked.

“Never in the modern history of Macedonia has it been in such a bad
state as at present. The Christian Bulgars are outraged, tortured, and
shot, and their villages burnt by the Greek bands, who are now under the
protection of the Turks, and not a voice is raised at Constantinople in
complaint. It is simply astounding that such a state of things should be
allowed to exist in this twentieth century. Over one thousand Christian
Bulgars were killed in the raids last year, and this year the number is
known to be more than double. Bulgaria is, however, at this moment
staying her hand. Weakened as the Macedonians are, and with Turkey
protecting the Greek bands, our Bulgarian bands for the protection of
the villages have but little chance. Of late, it has been the
unfortunate Bulgar who has lost always. The Bulgar bands, it was found,
compromised the villages, and at the same time were not strong enough to
protect them. Therefore those still in Macedonia live in the mountains
and come down when required. Ah!” he added, throwing up his hands, “the
state of affairs is terrible! Only recently during a village wedding at
Zagoutcheni the place was attacked by a Greek band and seventy men,
women, and children killed.”

“And in your opinion what would be the best settlement of the question?”
I inquired; for he was one of the greatest authorities in Europe upon
the much-vexed problem.

“The best settlement of Macedonia would be an autonomy, but a restrained
one—one that would not separate Macedonia from Turkey,” he replied.
“Macedonia should be placed under a European Governor-General—certainly
not German—preferably a Swiss. The police and the central administration
should be vested in the Governor-General, and all other questions left
to Turkey. Religion should, of course, be free. Bulgaria has no desire
to annex Macedonia, as the Powers seem to think. I do not think that the
question can be settled in any other way. A European conference should
be convoked, and the matter dealt with at once. When you go to
Macedonia, you will see for yourself the state of things. But remember,
the Turks will let you see nothing if they can help it. You are going to
Monastir. Good. Travel across to Ochrida, and you will see and hear
things that will appal you.

[Illustration:

  Macedonian Christian abducted by the Turks from Klene, a village near
    Debr, and rescued by a Bulgarian band.
]

[Illustration:

  GENERAL TZONTCHEFF,
  The Bulgarian leader in Macedonia.
]

“Recently there have been, to my knowledge, eight Christian villages
entirely destroyed by Greek bands—the inhabitants exterminated, and the
houses burned to the ground. During the past two years there has never
passed one single day without murders and outrages committed by Greek
bands upon the Bulgar inhabitants of Macedonia. Unfortunately, the
Turkish army arrives always too late to protect the population; but this
is, of course, arranged: Indeed, it seems as though the Turks protect
these Greek bands and assist them in their nefarious work. From Ochrida
right down to Salonica these murders are of daily occurrence, always by
the Greek bands. These bands operate in the arrondissements of Seres,
Drama, Demir-Hissar, Kavala; in the Salonica _vilayet_ at Enije-Vardar,
Vodena, and Guevgueli; in Lerin, Florina, Castoria, Presba, and Murievo,
and around Monastir. The Servian bands operate at Cumanovo, Palanca,
Veles, Kitschevo, and Poretschi; while Turkish bands are just now
massacring at Tikveschi, Schlip, Veles, Kotschani, Strousaitza, Razlog,
Melnik, and Nevrokop. So it will be seen that where there are no Greek
bands, there are either Turks or Servians.”

In Sofia I also met the renowned leader of the premature insurrection in
Macedonia, General Ivan Tzontcheff, a short, smart, dapper little man,
quick of movement and alert of manner. With him I likewise had a very
interesting chat. As one who has the Macedonian cause at heart, as head
of the Macedonian External Committee, and being in daily touch with
events in that terrified country, he and his friend, Monsieur
Gologanoff, were able to give me many details and explain much that is
unknown to the English public.

I also met several times, and had long conversations with, Dr.
Tartarcheff, who was president of the Macedonian Revolutionary Committee
in Bulgaria, and who, after the insurrection, was taken prisoner by the
Turks. Both men gave me much authentic information and introductions
that were of great use to me in my journey through Macedonia.

The truth is that the Macedonian question is the direct result of the
Treaty of Berlin, for by it the Treaty of St. Stefano—which incorporated
Macedonia in the Bulgarian Principality—was annulled. The Treaty of
Berlin thus left Macedonia under the Turkish dominion, with a provision
of a kind of autonomy under the control of the Great Powers.

This autonomy was worked up in detail by an International Commission in
Constantinople in 1880. But it was not applied, and the situation in
Macedonia remained the same as it was before the Russo-Turkish War, and
became even worse, on account of the Turkish fanaticism aroused against
the Bulgarians as the cause of their military disasters.

The Turkish persecutions and the new situation in Bulgaria attracted the
greater portion of the Macedonian intelligent population into that
Principality. A strong Macedonian emigration was therefore started to
Bulgaria, which in late years has arisen to the number of more than
150,000.

Macedonia, thus drained of its intelligence, devoted its energies from
1880 to 1890 to a strong educational movement, which was favoured in a
great measure by the political circumstances arisen after the union of
Eastern Roumelia to the Bulgarian Principality in 1885. Towards the end
of this period, 1880 to 1890, there had sprung up in Macedonia a young,
vigorous intelligence, with a strong national conscience, longing for
greater freedom in the national and economical development of the
country, and aspiring for a wider field of activity. The Turks, afraid
of the Bulgarian progress, began to restrain the activity of the
Macedonians. The growing tyrannical régime of the Sultan Hamid made the
situation still more difficult, and life became impossible in the
country.

The Macedonians then sought their salvation in revolution.

This revolutionary movement had for its object the autonomy of
Macedonia, which is declared by all I met in the Balkans to be the only
solution of the question.

Several important reasons are given for this. First, it is argued that
autonomy was secured by International Acts:—the Treaty of Berlin, and
the International Commission in Constantinople, 1880. Secondly, it did
not touch in any way the integrity of the Turkish Empire, a dogma in the
policy of the European Powers. Thirdly, it did not in any way impair the
suzerainty of the Sultan, who still remained the sovereign of the
province, and who had himself accepted and signed the International Act.
Fourthly, it gave full scope to the free development of all the
inhabitants in the country, independently of religion or race. Fifthly,
the autonomy not only did not affect the interests of any Balkan State,
but was bringing a soothing element into the relations between the
Balkan nations.

To-day the animosities between the Balkan nations have their common
cause in Macedonia. She is the apple of discord. Every Balkan State is
contemplating the conquest of this rich province and the playing of
principal rôle in the destinies of the Peninsula. All have instituted
church and school propagandas in the country, where they wage a furious
war between themselves upon the shoulders of the native population. This
war is made more cruel by the policy of Turkey, Germany, and Greece. So
that in this way the Macedonian population is demoralised, and the
Balkan nations themselves are exhausting their energy.

The autonomy, if secured, would exercise a benign influence towards an
understanding between the Balkan nations. By the establishment of such
an administration in Macedonia, under the guidance and the control of
Europe, the Macedonians would take their destiny in their own hands. The
different propagandas would not have such a propitious field for action,
and the animosities would gradually subside. That this is the best
solution of the Macedonian question is held by statesmen all through the
Peninsula, for by the progress of time and the development of events the
erection of Macedonia into a separate state must become dominant as the
final solution.

The way for a Balkan Federation would then be cleared. Macedonia by
itself would become a kind of Switzerland, and the nucleus towards the
creation of a still more powerful Switzerland in the Balkan Federation,
which, neutralised, would create in the Balkan Peninsula a field for
progress and civilisation, but not a bridge for the conquering ambitions
from the North.

With such broad ideas and with such hopes, the Macedonians wrote upon
their revolutionary banner the watchwords, “_Macedonia for the
Macedonians_.”

The revolutionary movement in Macedonia—which dates from the year
1893—began to develop into a strong organisation from 1896-97. The whole
country, by patient work, was gradually covered with a network of secret
societies, at the head of which was a Central Revolutionary Committee,
which, in fact, had a greater power in the country than the official
Turkish authorities.

This revolutionary organisation had an international character. In it
were received all the Macedonians thirsting for liberty. In its ranks
were not only Bulgarians, but also Vlachs, Montenegrins, Servians, and
even Turks, discontented with the Sultan’s régime. But on the whole, the
organisation bore a Bulgarian colour, chiefly on account of the great
Bulgarian majority in Macedonia, and also on account of the suspicion
that the organisation intended prosecuting Bulgarian ambitions.

For the reason that Macedonia had a population mostly of Bulgarian
nationality, and through the agitation of Macedonian Emigration, the
revolutionary movement found a favourable ground in Bulgaria. Here it
was met with sympathy, which was followed by moral and material support.
An organisation was instituted in the Principality, which spread its
influence very rapidly through the whole country. This organisation was
called the External Organisation, while that in Macedonia bore the name
of the Internal Revolutionary Organisation.

The activity of these two organisations brought the revolutionary
movement to a great development during the years of 1900 and 1901. The
revolutionary idea became dominant in Macedonia. Nearly the whole
population was united in a strongly organised body, and a great part of
the men able to fight were armed, and fighting bands were formed which
exercised the armed men. The country was divided into military
districts, and the Macedonians were inspired with such enthusiasm that
they welcomed, with a thrill of exultation, the impending struggle. The
enthusiasm was no less great in Bulgaria, where the coming insurrection
was awaited with great hopes of success. Indeed, no nation in the Balkan
Peninsula had shown such a power of organisation, such sacrificing
spirit, and such fighting qualities as the Macedonians. An intimate
knowledge of the Macedonian revolutionary movement, such as General
Tzontcheff possesses, shows, indeed, the wonderful energy of the
Macedonians.

[Illustration: A Bulgarian Band in Macedonia.]

But alas! political intrigues from quarters with unfriendly dispositions
towards Macedonian aspirations, sowed misunderstandings in the midst of
the Organisation, and her forces were suddenly paralysed by internal
strife just on the eve of the struggle.

The consequence was that the Macedonian revolutionary movement did not
express itself in one general effort, but in partial insurrections, none
of which showed the whole revolutionary energy. The insurrection in the
valley of the river Stromina during the autumn of 1902 and the
insurrection in the _vilayet_ of Monastir in 1903 were easily crushed,
and the hopes and expectations of the population unfortunately deceived.

After these abortive insurrections a new situation was created. The
European Powers admitted the inability of the Turkish Government to
establish order in Macedonia, and the principle of European interference
and control was adopted. As a result of this principle, the Murshteg
reforms worked up by Austria and Russia were proclaimed. These reforms,
however, were not integral, but merely embryo reforms, from the
expansion and development of which depended the pacification of the
country.

On the other hand, the morale of the Macedonians was now shaken and the
power of the Revolutionary Organisation shattered in consequence of the
incomplete insurrections and the consequent Turkish victories.

Naturally, the Turks, faithful to their traditional policy, would avail
themselves of this situation in order to hinder the development of the
reforms in their true sense. The Greeks—whose policy is the partition of
Macedonia—were, like the Turks, against such a development of the
reforms, because the establishment of an effectual European control
would lead to a good government, which would gradually evolve the
destiny of Macedonia towards an autonomy.

Therefore, the policy of Turkey, Greece, and Germany had a common
interest, namely, to paralyse the reforms, and became a common enemy to
the Macedonians, who, by their Bulgarian majority, were striving for
autonomy.

So, united in their action, Greece, and also Servia to a smaller extent,
hurled, the one from the South and the other from the North, armed bands
into Macedonia, who commenced their destructive work against the
Bulgarian element, by killing the leading men and enforcing the country
population to recognise Greek or Servian nationality. The Turks cover
their action, and the villagers, unprotected and without arms, are
unable to defend themselves. They are at the mercy of these bands, aided
by the Turkish authorities.

Thus a cruel religious and racial war has sprung up in the heart of
Macedonia, under the protection and instigation of the Turkish policy,
and also under the benevolent eyes of Germany and Austria.

This terrible situation has been still more complicated by the
Bulgarians themselves. The Revolutionary Organisation being shattered in
its moral and material power, armed bands were formed after the
insurrection, under unscrupulous leaders, who commenced acts of
depredation upon the unfortunate Macedonians.

Just now the revolutionary organisation in Bulgaria is undergoing
another crisis. It is divided into two principal flanks: the moderate
and the extreme. The first-mentioned inclines towards a suspension of
active revolutionary operations on account of the exhaustion of the
Macedonian population and the unfavourable political situation in
Europe, while the extreme party are urging a continuance of
revolutionary action to exasperation. At the annual congress in January
last the moderates had a chance to oust the extreme party, but the death
of Damian Groueff, the chief of the moderates, who was killed in the
village of Roussinovo (_vilayet_ of Uskub) upset all their plans. On
account of Groueff’s death they did not take part in the congress, and
the result is that the extreme party are now all paramount, and further
reprisals may be expected.

Therefore from all sides—from Turks, Greeks, Servians, and even
Bulgarians, as well as from an interested diplomacy—the Macedonians are
pressed, and their aspirations for the autonomy compromised. And what is
the result of all this? Only that the Macedonians are set by the
interested Powers before the eyes of the Christian world as a cruel and
barbarous population, unworthy of sympathy—worthy only of the tyrannical
Turkish rule!

What is the remedy?

There is but one, the one advocated by the kings and princes of the
Balkans and the Cabinet Ministers with whom I chatted, namely, to change
the present farcical so-called reforms into an administration, under
effectual European control by appointing a European Governor-General,
responsible to the Powers. Then this terrible situation will change into
the peaceful development of a country which is endowed by nature with
bounty, but reduced by men’s covetousness to a perfect hell.

That Macedonia to-day is a hell I have seen with my own eyes. And
moreover I have been under fire from a Greek band myself. I
travelled—contrary to the advice of my friends, who feared the perils of
the way—right through the heart of Macedonia from south to north,
visiting the Seres and Melnik districts, which only a few days prior to
my arrival had been ravaged by Greek bands. In one poor village I passed
through, twenty-three women, children, and old men had been butchered in
cold blood on the previous day, and I saw with my own eyes some of their
mutilated bodies. Upon the women nameless atrocities had been committed.

In Caraja-Kioi, a village not far from Seres, I was told that a
fortnight before, nineteen persons, mostly old men and women, had been
massacred, and I was informed by eye-witnesses that the Greek band was
assisted by the Turks, and that present at the massacre was a Greek
metropolitan and a Greek consular employé!

I saw and spoke to two women who had been maltreated by the Greeks, and
who still bore wounds. The head of one was bound by a bloodstained rag,
and the arm of the other was in a sling.

What they told me was truly horrifying. Both had been outraged and left
for dead, without a hand being raised in their defence. And their cases
were only two out of several dozen. A child, a little girl of seven, had
been decapitated by a brutal Turk, and a mother with her suckling babe
had been tortured by slow burning.

Everywhere I went was the same terrible tale, the same cry for the
protection of the Powers. At Vranja, in the Melnik district, I saw the
gaunt ruins of seven houses which had been recently burnt, and was told
how nine women, after being subjected to all sorts of atrocities, were
afterwards shot, while at Bashna three men were burnt alive, in a house,
and six women shot.

That journey through Macedonia still haunts me like a nightmare. On the
one hand, I met the oily Turkish official in frock-coat and fez
declaring that the country was quite quiet, and that all reports were
exaggerated; while, on the other, I saw with my own eyes the devilish
blood-lust of the Greeks, the poor people with their wounds still upon
them, the mutilated bodies of innocent Christian women whose blood calls
hourly for vengeance.

To Florina, up to Kastoria, and through the terrorised districts around
the lakes of Presba and Ochrida I travelled, first under Turkish escort,
but not being allowed to see what I wanted, I was permitted by a
Bulgarian band to join them, and rode through the various districts. It
was a somewhat perilous and exciting time, for I travelled quickly,
wishing to get out of the country. Its terrors had got on my nerves, and
the gloomy warnings of my friends ever rose within my mind. Greek bands
seemed to be operating everywhere, and we never knew when we might not
come into close quarters. Our way lay often through deep ravines,
affording excellent cover for lurking Greeks.

So life was the reverse of pleasant.

Still I saw with my own eyes sights that appalled me, and I am certain
that if the reader had seen what I have witnessed he would cry shame
that such an awful state of things should be allowed to exist, and even
fostered by a Christian civilised Power.

Does the Christian Kaiser, with all his outward declarations of belief
in the direction of the Almighty, ever give a thought to the poor
Macedonians butchered with his knowledge—butchered to further the secret
aims of the “Fatherland”? Does His Imperial Majesty, when he bends his
knee in prayer, remember the first tenets of the Christian faith?

Those who know, as I know, the secrets of German intrigue in
Constantinople, cannot but feel contempt and disgust at the shameful
sacrifice of human life in Macedonia, where Greeks and Turks outrage,
torture, burn, and shoot the poor innocent populace, egged on by “pious”
Germany.

Let the ambitious Emperor, who so often invokes God’s blessing upon the
German nation, pause for a moment and reflect whether there is no
hypocrisy in his political policy, and whether he himself, personally,
can expect to receive the Divine aid he so constantly petitions with
mock servility.

By raising his hand he could to-morrow stop those brutal, savage Greeks
from their bloody work. Yet, by doing so, he knows he would nullify his
policy of Germany’s advance southward, and would throw to the winds the
years of secret diplomacy practised at the Sublime Porte. Will he do so?

Or will he continue to lift his eyes to Heaven, and close his ears to
the death-cries of the poor slaughtered Christian women and children,
who are every day being butchered for political purposes?

It was the Kaiser’s diplomacy that discovered the existence of the
Roumanian population in Macedonia; it was by his intrigues at Athens
that diplomatic negotiations between Greece and Roumania have been
broken off.

Go to Macedonia yourself with an open mind and study the question on the
spot, and you will, before a week has passed, obtain quite sufficient
evidence to convince you that what I have here written is the truth—that
Germany stands behind both Greek and Turk, and encourages them with
moral and material support to commit those awful and nameless outrages
which are a disgrace to our civilisation.



                               CHAPTER II
                           THE TRUTH EXPOSED

Summary of my confidential information—War this year—The attitude of
    Greece, Bulgaria, Roumania, and Turkey—Procrastination, promises,
    and perfect politeness—A matter more serious than Macedonia—Warning
    to British statesmen and the public—The real truth exposed—Germany
    and India.


As summary of all my confidential inquiries throughout the Near East, I
find that the present position as regards Macedonia is a very serious
one.

Bulgaria, who has the largest population there, has undoubtedly decided
to adopt a firm course, which must inevitably lead to war during the
present year. Within a few months the Balkans will be in bloody
conflict.

Greece is defiant, and her bands still ravage Macedonia. Monsieur
Theotokis, the Prime Minister, has openly adopted a policy of defiance
against Roumania, and of increased persecution of the Vlachs in
Macedonia.

His attitude is a ridiculous one, and calculated to still further
complicate the situation. He declares that the enemies of Hellenism have
succeeded in persuading public opinion in Europe, and even European
Governments, that the abnormal situation in Macedonia is due to the
action of Greco-Macedonian bands, and has also made them forget the
atrocities which Bulgarians had committed for six years against the
Greeks, who had at last been compelled to rise and try to defend
themselves. Whenever the Greek Government asks for compensation of the
Powers, no matter what the question at issue, they are, he says, met
with the argument that they were responsible for the atrocities in
Macedonia, because they aided Greek bands. The Powers, he says, were
informed that the Hellenic Government could not prevent succour being
given to the Macedonian Greeks in their defensive campaign, but would
use its authority to moderate the activity of the bands. Unhappily, the
slackening of the activity of the Greek bands was followed by a
recrudescence of that of the hostile bands. The Powers were informed
that the situation was becoming intolerable, and unless they could take
measures to oblige others to respect their wishes, the Greek Government
would be obliged to defend a race which was resolved to live, and not to
bend under the ferocity of its enemies. He maintains that it is the duty
of Greece to accelerate her military preparations. Without an army she
cannot be considered a factor in the East, or hope for the sympathies of
others.

But M. Theotokis has gone even farther. His declarations are distinctly
amusing. In the course of an interview in Athens in January of the
present year he actually had the audacity to attribute the present
situation in Macedonia to Bulgaria. He argued as follows:—

  “For a period of six years armed bands of Bulgarians roved all over
  Macedonia, endeavouring to get the Greek Christian inhabitants to
  declare allegiance to the head of the Bulgarian Church, and backed up
  their efforts in this direction by committing murders and atrocities
  of every description. Notwithstanding repeated appeals of the Greek
  Government to the Powers to put a stop to these outrages, they were
  continued, and instead of being checked, went on increasing in number
  and violence. News of these atrocities reaching Greece daily, public
  opinion here was getting more and more excited, and finally, the Greek
  public having given up all hope of a stop being put to them,
  committees were formed with the object of taking action to protect
  their compatriots.

  “The Greek Government was powerless to prevent these protective bands
  from crossing into Macedonia, as, unfortunately, we have not
  sufficient forces to thoroughly guard the frontier. The inability is
  not surprising, when you consider that Turkey with twenty times the
  forces at her disposal is not able to prevent them from getting
  across. That these bands should occasionally have seized an
  opportunity to avenge Bulgarian crimes, which had continued so long
  unrestrained, is only natural, as it is not possible to keep armed
  bands under proper control in such circumstances.

  “Finding at last that they had to face Greek bands, which they were
  not able to stand up against, the Bulgarians commenced to fill the
  world with complaints against the Greeks, and sent out descriptions of
  imaginary atrocities committed by Greek bands, when their only real
  cause of complaint was that they themselves could no longer commit
  crimes on the Greek Christians with impunity in the way they, for six
  years, had been accustomed.

  “The result of the great outcry raised by the Bulgarians was that
  strong pressure was brought to bear by the Powers on the Greek
  Government to prevent Greek bands from crossing into Macedonia, and
  the Greek Government increased the efforts they had always been making
  in this direction. Probably as a result of the efforts of this
  Government, fewer Greek bands have been operating in Macedonia during
  the past two months, and the consequence is that thirty-nine Greeks
  have been murdered in Macedonia during this period by Bulgarians,
  while only seven of the latter have been killed by Greeks.

  “The Greek Government have no interest whatever in hindering the
  efforts of the Powers to restore order in Macedonia. Quite the
  contrary; no one desires to see order restored there more than we do.
  But you must remember that the majority of the inhabitants of
  Macedonia are Greeks, and it is not in the power of the Greek
  Government to control public opinion in Greece in face of the
  atrocities committed by Bulgarians on our countrymen in Macedonia. If
  the Bulgarian propaganda in that country is put a stop to, the Greek
  Christians will have nothing to fear, and in such circumstances no
  Greek bands will be found there, as their sole object in crossing the
  frontier was to protect their co-religionists, who for six years had
  been terrorised by the Bulgarians. Once Bulgarian crimes in Macedonia
  cease, there will be nothing more heard of ‘regrettable incidents’ in
  that country.”

Thus it will be seen that the Prime Minister makes no mention of Germany
or of German intrigue. He endeavours to put the blame upon Bulgaria,
when all Europe knows well that it is Greece who is responsible for the
present bloodshed, and even the Turkish Grand Vizier himself has
condemned the action of the Greeks, and declared that in more than one
instance the Greek bands have actually operated with the full knowledge
and assistance of Greek consuls.

With such biassed views held by the Greek Premier, it can easily be seen
that a solution of the problem of Macedonia cannot be arrived at without
recourse to force of arms, and the more so, because of Bulgaria’s
determination to make her power felt in the country where her subjects
are being daily murdered.

The Turkish policy is the traditional one of procrastination, promises,
and perfect politeness. The promised reforms are not carried out, the
foreign officers employed in reforming the gendarmerie are disgusted
with their treatment, and are fast leaving the Turkish service, while
the Mohammedan rule is daily growing more and more oppressive, and the
unfortunate Macedonians are being slaughtered under the very eyes and
with the full cognisance of the Turkish officials, both civil and
military.

In Constantinople it is believed that a serious _entente_ regarding
Macedonia exists between Italy and Austria, and this belief is based
upon Signor Tittoni’s recent declaration. From information I gathered
from very reliable sources, however, I am in a position to state that
the Turkish fears are utterly groundless. An _entente_ exists, but only
in regard to Servia, Bulgaria, and Northern Albania. Austria desired
that Montenegro should be included, but Italy—for very obvious
reasons—made the complete independence of that valiant little country
one of the stipulations. Hitherto Italy and Austria have carried on
separate propagandas, but it is quite certain that the two are now
amalgamated, and will in future work towards one common end.

Turkey has nothing to fear from either Austria or Italy, but from
Bulgaria and Germany—from the former, who will assert her rights; and
from the latter, who will eventually play the traitor and crush her.

My conversations at the Sublime Porte, in those shabbily furnished
rooms, with seedy officials offering me cups of coffee, were often very
amusing. I had really credited the Turk with more shrewdness, for the
Oriental is usually supposed to be the finest diplomat in all the world.
Yet from the Grand Vizier downwards to the men-in-the-street, they are
all held fascinated under the benign smile of Germany.

Assurances were given me during those audiences with the rulers of
Turkey that all was being done that could possibly be done in Macedonia;
that reports of massacres were exaggerated; that the Turks were actually
protecting the Bulgarians, and that the Macedonian question was not at
all a serious one.

I will give one instance. It was admitted to me during one of my
audiences at the Sublime Porte, that “a few incidents” had occurred, but
I was assured that they were not serious, and that all was now quiet in
Macedonia.

In reply, I pointed out that on November 7 last (Old Style) a Greek band
descended upon the village of Karadjovo, and having disembowelled seven
men, killed twenty-five Bulgarians. They then massacred most of the
women and children in the village, and calmly went off.

I was then officially informed that it had been discovered that a
certain Greek consul had been implicated in this raid, and that arms had
been supplied through him. The Turks had therefore made a strong protest
to Athens, and sent four battalions in pursuit of the assassins.

At Salonica, ten days later, I saw one of the peasants present at this
massacre in question, and the description he gave of it was horrifying.
His version of the affair was very different from the official Turkish
version, for he declared that the Turks themselves aided the assassins
and allowed them to get clear away. Twenty-five women were, he said,
outraged and afterwards killed. One woman had her hands cut off, and
another’s feet were burnt over a fire. Other facts he told me were too
terrible to repeat here.

Though the Porte may have made formal protest to Athens, there is but
little doubt that the Turks were implicated in the massacre—as they are
in most of those “regrettable incidents,” as they are called, which
daily occur in the Land of Black Terror.

Permission was readily granted to me to travel through the country, but
it certainly would not have been had it been known that beyond the lake
of Ochrida I intended to disregard my Turkish escort and throw in my lot
with the Bulgarians, declared by the authorities to be “insurgents” in
order to see for myself.

I arrived at the village of Ghilposte, in the Seres district, two days
after a Greek band had descended upon the little place, and I saw with
my own eyes traces of their terrible atrocities. They had blown up ten
houses by dynamite, and capturing four men, two women, and a baby one
year old, had deliberately burned them all alive, as well as outraging
three other women.

The leader of the Bulgarian organisation for the protection of the
defenceless people furnished me with a complete list of all the
atrocities committed by the Greek bands during the past year, but it is
so long and the details are so revolting that I do not feel justified in
including it in these pages.

The Turk is indeed a strange product. He hopes always to persuade the
foreigner into adopting his own views. More than once I was told in
Constantinople that there had been _no massacres_ in Macedonia this
year, and that the country, especially in the _vilayet_ of Monastir, was
quite quiet!

[Illustration: GENERAL TZONTCHEFF in Macedonia.]

[Illustration: The Turkish Burial-ground at Scutari, Asia Minor.]

I went there, and discovered the exact opposite to be the case. In
Constantinople also I was strongly persuaded, by interested persons, not
to go to Macedonia; but I went, and I saw things that it was not
intended that I should see.

I had travelled all through the Balkans in order to learn the real
truth, and I did not intend to miss out Macedonia. Turkey, of course,
makes capital out of the fact that the Vlachs, or Roumanian population,
are between the devil and the deep sea. These unfortunate
Macedo-Roumanians live under the cross fire of Greek and Bulgar, each of
whom claims the right to save their souls. The Turks point—and perhaps
justly—to this fact as one of the chief causes of the present disturbed
state of Macedonia. The Turk pretends to be asleep, and to disregard the
intrigues of the other Powers, but the fact is that he is very wide
awake, and knows quite well that hostilities must break out at a very
early date. Only he is misled by Germany, alarmed by a bogey put forward
by Austria and Italy, and a little afraid, at times, of British
protests.

There remains Roumania. Her attitude is a very serious consideration in
discussing the immediate future of the Balkans.

In Bucharest I found that, although a Federation of the Balkan States
would be welcomed, yet one fact is still remembered. In 1888, when the
Bulgarians offered the crown of Bulgaria to King Charles of Roumania, as
the first step towards a Federation, both Russia and Austria opposed it
so strongly that the King was unable to accept. Roumania’s position
towards Macedonia is now one of armed inactivity. Though the
Macedo-Roumanians are slaughtered by the Greek bands, Roumania is
compelled to stay her hand and offer no defence, because alone and
unaided, her protest would be worse than useless.

That she will, ere long, ally herself with Bulgaria against the Turks,
my confidential information goes to show. She desires a better frontier
from the Danube to the Black Sea, and in order to obtain that concession
from Bulgaria she will assist her to drive the Turk from Macedonia.

There is, however, a far more serious consideration, and one which has
been overlooked by British statesmen and the British public.

During my journey of inquiry I made careful investigation into certain
suspicious facts and certain clever intrigues. The inquiry was an
exceedingly difficult one, for the truth is well guarded, for very
obvious reasons.

The result, however, reveals a state of affairs of which we in England
have been unfortunately ignorant, and which, here exposed, should claim
immediate attention by every right-minded and patriotic man.

The truth briefly is this. The recent war between Russia and Japan, the
question of Morocco, the perturbation in Europe by the Russian defeats
and revolution, on the one hand, and the weakness of the Macedonians
made greater by the rivalries between the Balkan nations, on the other,
have of late diverted the attention of Europe from the Near East.

But this is only a lull before the storm—a storm that must break in the
near future, and which surely will have a world-wide significance. The
countries denominated by the general name of the Near East are, by their
geographical position and fertility, of immense importance. They have
been the cradle of the ancient civilisation and of rich and powerful
empires. The shores of the Ægean Sea and of the Eastern Mediterranean
were once the most populated, and their commerce and wealth were
unrivalled. The vast fertile provinces of Asia Minor have been the
granaries of the Roman and Byzantine empires; while the valleys of
Euphrates and Tigris breathed abundance and luxury. History is eloquent
testimony of their past splendour. The reason of their gloomy present
does not lie either in the exhaustion of the soil or in the loss of
their geographical importance, but only in the administration which the
Turk has established for centuries over them. A change in the
administration will bring resurrection. Nay, the means and resources of
the present civilisation must call forth in them an immense economical
development.

Germany, with her usual foresight, has ever been on the alert.

Towards this Near East with gloomy present, but with a glorious future,
the German policy has thrown covetous eyes. When Bismarck made his
famous declaration—_that the Eastern Question was not worth the bones of
a Pomeranian grenadier_—the German policy was already maturing a vast
plan of penetration in the Near East. The real truth is that the basis
of this policy of penetration was the maintenance of the Turkish rule,
as a means for its realisation.

The true extent of German intrigue is not realised in England, therefore
I may as well explain that the policy was—

1. Support, and even encouragement, of the despotical régime in Turkey,
in order to obtain the absolute confidence of Sultan Hamid.

2. Grasp of the reorganisation of the Turkish Army, and use it as her
instrument.

3. Gain a dominant position in the Turkish finances.

4. Lay hold on the communications of the empire, and thus become the
master of her economical development.

A full expansion was given to this policy after the accession to the
throne of William II., who in his first visit to the Sultan in 1889 laid
the foundation of mutual friendship and admiration between the two
rulers.

The results are astonishing. In less than a quarter of a century the
German net has been cast over the whole body of the Turkish Empire.
German diplomacy is paramount to-day in Constantinople. The Turkish Army
has been reorganised upon the Prussian system, and is under German
control. The finances of the Turkish Empire are gradually becoming a
dependency to the German banks by loans and concessions, which are
constantly increasing. By the great railway from the Bosphorus to the
Persian Gulf, opening up by its branches the most fertile provinces of
Asiatic Turkey, Germany becomes master of the economical development of
this part of the Sultan’s empire.

Thus the economical and political influence of the Germans has been so
much extended and has gained such a domination, that the Turkish Empire
is, in a sense, already a German protectorate. No act of importance is
possible in Turkey without the knowledge and influence of Germany. Every
act of Abdul Hamid is under the control and direction of German
diplomacy. _Allemania bisum dostour_ (“Germany is our friend”) is a
saying which has penetrated even into the mass of the Turkish nation,
and the Kaiser has a full right to boast himself as the protector and
champion of the Mussulmans.

In the Balkan Peninsula, on the European side, the pioneer of the German
policy is the Austro-Hungarian Empire. By tradition, by its dynasty, and
by its alliance, Austria plays the rôle of vanguard to the German
advance towards the Near East. The occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina
has made Austria a Balkan power, and her plans are ready for the march
of an Austrian army southward to the Gulf of Salonica, which will bring
her in touch with the Ægean Sea and make her the ruler over the whole
Peninsula. In the meantime, she is strengthening her political and
economical influence in Servia and Albania by the same methods as used
by the Germans.

In the midst of this land activity in the Near East, the importance of
the Ægean Sea, which is the necessary link, was not lost to view. A
footing was sought, and the island of Thassos was chosen as the
foundation-stone of the future naval power in the Eastern basin of the
Mediterranean. This island was picked upon because, in the first place,
it would not attract attention, and, in the second place, because it
would serve admirably the German plans. Thassos has a good geographical
position in the Ægean Sea. It is not far from the Dardanelles, the door
to Constantinople, and is very near the Macedonian shore, being in the
very entrance of the port of Kavala.

With a naval base on this island, Germany would gain a still greater
influence in Turkey, and especially on the European and Asiatic shores
of the Ægean Sea. According to trustworthy information which I have
obtained in confidence, a vast German activity is contemplated upon
these shores in the very near future.

Thus the Germans, with the aid of the Turkish régime and of the Austrian
Empire, are cleverly paving their way towards the Near East, and
preparing the foundation of a “Fatherland” stretching from the Baltic to
the Indian Ocean.

As Germany has already championed the cause of Turkey in Europe, what is
to prevent her from carrying her influence, at an early date, over Egypt
and the whole peninsula of India, where she will find sixty millions of
Mussulmans, who fully recognise that England has abandoned her policy of
bolstering up “the sick man” for many years past? These latter would
welcome Germany as the champion of Mohammedanism, not only in Europe,
but in all the Mussulman states of the Eastern world.

And then?

Surely this is a most important point, which should very seriously
engage the immediate and earnest attention of all British statesmen who
have the true interests of our Empire at heart!

                                THE END.

                              _Printed by_
                        MORRISON & GIBB LIMITED
                              _Edinburgh_

                           Transcriber’s Note

The author employs the name ‘Palagonium Radula’ for the geranium, rather
than the proper ‘Pelargonium Radula’. This appears to be unique to him,
but was retained as printed.

Errors deemed most likely to be the printer’s have been corrected, and
are noted here. The references are to the page and line in the original.
The following issues should be noted, along with the resolutions.

  156.12   mid[d]le-aged, keen, clever                    Inserted.

  169.20   Chief town, [H/N]egotin                        Replaced.

  170.24   the chief town is Pe[l/t]rovatz                Replaced.

  170.39   in Kra[ni/in]a, East Servia.                   Transposed.

  171.40   PODUN[VA/AV]LYE                                Transposed.

  220.26   the geranium oil (_[Palagonium] Radula_)       _sic_:
                                                          Pelargonium

  226.38   Have you received [i]t?                        Restored.

  280.1    The entrance to the Bosphoro[u]s.              Removed.

  294.31   the exhaustion of the Macedoni[o/a]n           Replaced.
           population



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