Imagens da página
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

barred by a precipitous wall of rock. At the foot of this wall an enormous volume of ice-cold water rushes out upwards from an orifice in the rock, filling up a deep, broad pool, which foams and whirls as the spring spouts up from underneath with incredible force, forming a dome of water on the surface. There is something horrible in the * Titanic forces and furious whirl, that makes one dizzy; one cannot look down long. The water overflowing from the pool partly feeds the aqueduct, which is carried along the slope of the hill, and partly rushes down the gorge, turning on its way the huge wheel of a flour-mill.

This mill we visited with M. Vigneau. The enterprising individual who had started it seemed very disheartened. The latest machinery had been brought hither at great cost. But this was too great a novelty for the conservative Morlak peasantry, who resented and fought shy of the innovation, preferring to grind their corn between two flat stones picked up in the river bed, as their fathers did before them.

We drove home before sunset, as there was much fever about. There was not a cottage near here that had net some of its occupants prostrated by the trebesine.

Tuesday, September the 30th, was a great Dalmatian holiday. On foot, on mule-back, in the rough waggons drawn by diminutive oxen, the peasantry trooped in. The Morlaks are very fond of feasts. Every other day seems to be dedicated to some saint or other, who would avenge himself were he neglected. The working days are few, as M. Vigneau bitterly complained.

I believe this peasantry still observes several feasts whose origin dates back to Pagan times.

The holiday gave us a good opportunity of viewing the various costumes of this country at their best.

Not least quaint were the Jews of Spalato. Some were long-bearded, solemn-looking old fellows, dressed in the same sombre garb the Jews of Venice wore when Shylock drove sharp bargains on the Rialto.

The groups that filled the narrow streets were very Eastern in appearance. The pig-tailed Morlak, clad in his Sunday jacket; the- savagelooking Bosnian Turk, with turban, broad sash, and gay slippers; the Greek sailors ; all had an outlandish appearance, that told us we were far from home—" from home and beauty" too, for of the latter there was little to be seen at Spalato. I honestly saw no women who could, with the grossest flattery, be called pretty, between Trieste and Montenegro. And what can make one feel so alone ih a strange land, as the absence of fair women.

The Dalmatian Sclavs are unfortunately very

[merged small][ocr errors]

fond of raising their voices in song. A gang of youths would walk down a street arm-in-arm, shouting some native ballad. The music and singing of the East is always of a melancholy character; but never have I heard anything so dismal as the barbaric dirges of the Morlaks. The song is a sort of monotonous chant, which has a peculiar querulous complaining spirit in it; and yet a suppressed and timorous complaining, as of slaves that had not for centuries known what independence and freedom was.

How different is the song of the free Montenegrin (of the same race as the Morlak). It is of the same monotonous character, but has a go and energy in it, inspired as it is with the warlike feats of their heroes in the present as well as in the past —not a song of regret for some by-gone greatness, but an exultation in the brave and illustrious now.

Each verse of a Morlak song dies away in a long and sad howl, followed by a silence, before the next verse is taken up. This produces a peculiarly depressing effect.

Our arrival was pretty well known all over the town, for strangers are not frequent, especially Englishmen. The citizens, who could not conceive any one being mad enough to travel for amusement, especially in their country, discussed us curiously. M. Vigneau told us he had, several. times each day, to give a long narrative of the lives, pursuits, &c, of Brown and myself, in order to satisfy the eager inquirers.

On hearing that we intended to visit Albania, the verdict always was, "They will not come back"—this with a meaning shrug of the shoulders.

I have, on more than one occasion found, when I have left England for some unknown and supposed dangerous country, that as I gradually neared it the reports and accounts of the perils of that land became less and less alarming. For "distance " lends terror as well as enchantment "to the view."

In the case of Albania, however, the nearer we approached it the worse was the reputation of its fierce inhabitants for murder and robbery; the more earnestly were we warned against travelling in such a cut-throat region. This was not an encouraging sign. However, the best plan is ever to go on as far as one can, and believe little one hears.

CHAPTER IV.

Voyage to Cattaro—A Bora—The gulf of Narenta—The Herzegovina — The island of Curzola — Bagusa—The Bocche di Cattaro—The frontier of Montenegro—The fortress of Cattaro—Evening promenade—Personal attractions of the Cattarine ladies—Rough roads—Prince Nikita's coach—Bosnian refugees—A Bosnian's luggage.

We had been in Spalato nearly a week. The steamers from Trieste did not bring us Jones and Robinson, so we determined to push on. We bid adieu to our good friends, who evidently considered our heads doomed to fall beneath Albanian yataghans, and embarked on October the 2nd at 4 p.m., on an Austrian Lloyd, bound for Cattaro, which lies up a long gulf at the foot of the Montenegrin mountains. There we were to leave civilization and the sea coast, and commence our inland march. From Spalato to Cattaro is a forty-eight hours' journey by the steamer. For the last few days the genial Scirocco, or south-east wind, had been blowing; but to-day the fierce gusts of the Bora, or north

« AnteriorContinuar »