The Albanians. By Henry Skene, Esq. Communicated by the Ethnological Society.*
27ie Population of Epirus, Thessaly, and Macedonia.
There are three principal distinctions among the inhabitants of the Greek provinces, still forming a part of the Turkish empire. The Osmaulis, of pure Asiatic blood, and the Greeks, are two of these great families, differing in race and in faith : the third, which is composed of the Albanian nation, is distinct from either of them, with respect to its origin and descent, while it is divided between the two religious sects to which they belong. In habits, appearance, character, and language, the Albanians are also eminently dissimilar from both the Greeks and the Turks; and they side, in faith, partly with the Christians and partly with the Mahometans. These three races now live in close contact with each other; and they are at such constant variance, on every subject which implies the slightest interest in common, that a great political change can alone produce an approximation of feeling among them.
The Turks and Greeks have been so often the subject of the lucubrations of travellers and political speculators, that their characteristics are comparatively well known in the wesj; of Europe. The Albanians have attracted less attention ; and, when they have been taken into consideration as a nation, they have generally been misrepresented or confounded with the other inhabitants of European Turkey. The Mahometan Albanians have thus been identified with the Osmaulis, and the Christians with the Greeks ; while the ferocious and treacherous character of one of their tribes has been attributed to the whole nation.
The Albanians are divided into four tribes. These are, the Gheghides and Mirdites, the Toskides, the Tsamides, and the Liapides.
* Read before the Ethnological Society on June 7th 1848.
The Gheghides, who boast of having numbered among them such a hero as Scanderbeg, unite, according to the learned topographer of Greece,* " the cruelty of the Albanian to the dulness of the Bulgarian." They have long enjoyed a greater share of independence, under the Pashas of Scodra, than any other of the Albanian tribes. They are equally good soldiers with the latter, and have preserved more of their natural stubbornness, from the fact of their having been less often employed as such by the Turks. Their country extends from the frontier of the Austrian territory of Cattaro round the Montenegro, which may be considered an independent state; and, following the ridges which unite it to Mount Scardus, it reaches the Herzegovina, while it is bounded on the south by the river Drino. Scutari, or Scodra, is their chief town, and Dulcigno, Alessio, and Durazzo belong to them.
The Mirdites are merely a branch of the Gheg tribe, and they speak the same dialect. They occupy the pashalik of Croja, and their capital is Oros. Many of them are Roman Catholics.
The tribe of the Ghegs and Mirdites are of lofty stature and athletic frame ; and their swarthy complexion and black eyes still retain the characteristics of their supposed Caucasian origin. The distinguishing mark in the dress of these two sections of the same family is, that the jacket of the Ghegs is red, and that of the Mirdites is black. Both branches of the tribe are entitled to much credit for tfceir daring disobedience to the tyrant Ali Pasha, when he ordered them to fire upon and destroy the remnant of the Gandikiotes, which he had enclosed in a courtvard for coldblooded butchery.
The Toskides are the most handsome of the Albanians. They have noble features, with fair hair and blue eyes, indicating the mixture of Georgian blood, which probably flows in their veins : less warlike than their countrymen of the other tribes, their stature is iilso less Herculean. They are supposed to have derived their name from the Toxidae, men
tioned by Chardin as inhabiting Mingrelia. The country now occupied by this tribe lies to the south of that of the Ghegs and Mirdites, and extends to the river Vojutza. It is called by themselves Toskouria. Their chief places are Elbassan and Berat, called by the Turks Arnaout Belgrad, in order to distinguish it from Belgrade on the Danube. Tepellene, the birth-place of Ali Pasha, is now included in their territory, although it was formerly considered as belonging to the infamous Liapides. The great despot declared it, however, to be in Toskouria, and no one dared to gainsay him on a point which affected the respectability of his origin. The women of the Toske tribe are remarkable for their beauty, like those of Georgia, whence they issue, according to the conjecture of some antiquaries.
The Liapides are the worst of the Albanian tribes. Living only by rapine and murder, they offer the most frightful picture of a degraded state of society ; and their evil name has sullied the reputation of the whole nation. They infest the roads, plundering the wayfarer, and often ransacking villages. They convert their booty into arms, curious collections of which may be found in their mountain-homes, whither they retire at the end of their roving campaign. They are cruel, fierce, and treacherous,—of forbidding countenances and sinister expression, and short and ungainly in person. Their dress displays the greatest possible want of cleanliness, and they even pride themselves on allowing it to rot on their bodies. They consider this to be a proof of warlike habits, and they boast of a brave countryman being washed only three times, namely, at his birth, his marriage, and his death. Liapouria, which includes the whole country inhabited by the Liapides, extends as far south as the plain of Delvino, and is composed of bleak and barren hills, feathered with trees only near their base. The proneness of these rude highlanders to lead a life of plunder, and their filthy habits, aided by the great similarity of the names, the d, or delta of modern Greek, being pronounced like th, have given rise to a conjecture, that they may be the remains of the ancient Lapithrae.
The Tsamides are the most peaceable and industrious of
VOL. XLVI. NO. XCII.—APRIL 1849. X
the tribes, and are devoted to trade and agriculture. The purity of race has been less scrupulously preserved than with the northern tribes, yet they are for the most part fairhaired. They dress with great splendour, their clothes being covered with gold lace and embroidery, and they carry arms like their more warlike countrymen, notwithstanding that they do not make so much use of them. They inhabit the country, watered by the Thyamis, which is opposite the island of Corfu, and the regions about the river Acheron, extending nearly as far as the gulf of Ambracia, on the south. They call their territory Tsamouria, which, together with the name of Tsamis which they bear, is probably derived from the river Thyamis. The site of the well-known Soali is in this district, as also the ancient Buthrotam, now a small military position seen from the town of Corfu. Margariti, Paramythia, and Philates, are their principal towns.
The existence of a nation in the very heart of Greece, which is totally different from the original inhabitants in manners, appearance, language, and costume, has naturally roused the curiosity of antiquaries, and given rise to much research on the subject of their origin.
The Albanian language being merely oral, the want of written documents renders their history exceedingly obscure, and the silence preserved by the Greek and Byzantine writers on the subject has reduced the data within a very narrow compass. They are called Arvaniti by the Greeks, and Arnaout by the Turks, both names being derived, along with that of Albanians, from the Albanes, an ancient people of the shores of the Caspian Sea, which may have incorporated itself with the Illyrians. The town of Elbassan or Albanopolis in Illyrian Macedonia, took its name from them, as it is supposed to have been built by a horde of these Asiatic barbarians, who were driven to the coast of the Adriatic by the advancing tribes of the east. In their own language they call themselves Skipetar, which name bears some affinity with that of of the Skitekip, mentioned by the Armenian geographers as inhabiting a territory near the Caspian. One of the best authorities* on the subject compares the name of Skipetar with that of the Selapitani, a people of Illyria, noticed by Livy.* The modern denomination of Liapides may be derived from this ancient tribe, rather than from the still more ancient Lapithae, as the name becomes almost the same when the first two letters are suppressed, and the termination, which is always variable, altered. A similarity of names, however, is but a feeble indication of the origin of a people or town, especially in a country where so many dialectic changes have taken place, and it often leads into error. For instance, there is a village near Elbassan, which bears the name of Pekin, without the slighest difference from that of the great city of the Celestial Empire ; but it cannot be said, even by the wildest etymologist, to be inhabited by a people in any way kindred to the Chinese.
* Colonel Leake.
Another hypothesis holds that the Albanians derive their origin from Alba, in Italy, and that they are the descendants of a colony of the Prastorian guards, dismissed from Rome, by the Emperor Septimius Severus, for having been accessory to the assassination of Pertinax. Their dress, the words coming from Latin roots, which are to be found in their language, and a vague tradition prevalent among themselves, support this idea. Chalcocondylas thinks that the Albanians came from the other side of the Adriatic.\ But, as Justin says, that the Albani of Asia were originally brought by Hercules from Italy,! the Albanians may have been first Italian, and then Asiatic, although their migration, in this case, must have been much anterior to the time of Septimius Severus. The Albans of Asia, mentioned by Tacitus, occupied the modern country of Shirvan.
Little is known about them, however, previously to their occupation of parts of Macedonia and Epirus, excepting that they entered these provinces from Illyria, and nothing else has hitherto been proved on the subject. They are supposed to have overrun Epirus about the time of the fall of the Byzantine Empire. In advancing towards the south, they also spread over the greatest part of Greece Proper, and many villages of the Morea are Albanian. Indeed, with the exception
» Lib. xlv., c. 26. t P- 13. } xlii., p. 3.
of the Mainotes or modern Spartans, the most warlike communities of Greece, such as the islands of Hydra and Spetzia, are formed of this nation, and not of Greeks. Attica, Argolis, Phocis, and Boetia, are likewise all peopled by them, and there are Albanian colonies even in Calabria and Sicily. The Albanians call their language Skipt. It is totally different from the Turkish, Greek, and Sclavonian dialects, and it contains a great number of words, closely resembling the Spanish, French,and Italian languages. This would imply that they had undergone some process of amalgamation with the remains of Roman armies. If this had not been really the effect of their descent from the Praetorian guards, it might be attributed to an admixture with the troops of Roger, king of Apulia, who fled to these mountains, and took refuge there. Some of his soldiers may have remained as settlers. The Albanian dress, also, is an exact antitype of that of the Roman army, with the exception of the helmet, which has been replaced by the red skull-cap, and, of the coat of mail, which is imitated by the close embroidery on the jacket. There are, likewise, Gothic words in the Albanian language. These must have been derived from the incursions of Alaricus, in the fifth century, when his Goths made themselves masters of Epirus. It is recorded by Procopius,* that Goths were to be found settled in Dalmatia, when Justinian forcibly annexed that country to the Roman Empire. Some of them may, therefore, probably have remained also in Albania. Now, the ancient Illyrian language was as completely distinct from the Greek tongue, and, if it is not now extant in the form of the Skipt or Albanian, it must be concluded that it has totally disappeared ; which is hardly credible. There is no record in history of the extinction of the Illyrian language and people. If, then, the modern Albanians came directly from Alba, in Italy, as some assert, what can have become of that ancient tribe and dialect 1 The first mention of the Albanians, by the Byzantine historians, although cursory and imperfect, represents them as they now are ; and Ptolemy, the geographer, who is the first of the ancient authors to notice them, distinctly places them in Illyria.* Anna Comnena makes the next allusion to them ;f so that history is totally silent on the subject of this people during ten centuries. It appears, however, that they were known, at a much more remote period ; for Dion Cassino, in enumerating the Roman conquests, implies that he knew of another Albania. Therefore it is impossible to assign a later date to their settlement in Illyria, with any degree of plausibility, as some do, because this proves that they had then already separated from their mother tribe in Asia. They had probably become incorporated with the ancient Illyrians, and both races are now represented by the modern Albanians. As the remains of the Illyrians, they have perhaps altered less, during this long succession of ages, than any other people of Europe. The study of this tribe is, therefore, the more interesting, inasmuch as it is almost an initiation into the habits and condition of a nation of past time, while much remains, even in their physical appearance, to recal the admixture with a still more ancient Asiatic tribe. This is corroborated by one of the most intelligent and also learned of the English who have seen this people.+ He says, that " the features of the Albanian, his narrow forehead, his keen grey eye, small mouth, thin arched eyebrow, high cheekbones, and pointed chin, strongly mark a Scythian physiognomy.''
* De Bell. Goth., lib. i., c. 5, 7, 16.
After Anna Comnena, the first mention of the Albanians, in the middle ages, is by Nicephorus Bryennius,§ who describes them as having formed part of the army of Nicephorus Basilaces, when he rebelled against his Emperor Nicephorus Botaniates, and was vanquished and taken by Alexius Comnenus, in the year 1109. They next received the aid of the Normans against the Greeks, and Robert Guiscard, who led them, together with his son Bohemoud, took Durazzo, Ochrida, and Jannina.|| Durazzo was well defended by George Palaeologus, who waited for the coming of Alexius Comnenus, the father of the historian Anna Comnena. Again, in the end of the twelfth century, the Norman kings of Sicily, with their relatives the princes of Taranto, formed permanent settlements in Albania, under the Byzantine emperors, Andronicus Comnenus and Isaac Angelus. The Albanians were thus early connected with the natives of the west. The Crusades next left a sensible impression on this people, as their ports were constantly resorted to by the Frank chiefs, during at least a century and a half; and Durazzo, in particular, was the depot of the crusaders. In the beginning of the thirteenth century, when the oriental empire fell to pieces, on account of the occupation of Constantinople by the Franks, a principality of Albania was founded by an illegitimate son of one of the Comneni, named Michael Angelus,* and itexistedfor more than two centuries,under the title of the Despotate. Jannina was the capital of this state, and Albanopolis also became one of its principal towns. Theodore Lascaris the Second, emperor of Nicea, sent a Praetor to the latter place, in the year 1257, hoping to recover it; but the Albanians preferred the protection of the despot to that of the emperor, and the prjctor, who was the historian Acropolita, was obliged to abandon it. In the same century, they plundered the city of Durazzo, which had been destroyed by a violent earthquake ; but they afterwards rebuilt it themselves. Pachymer, who records this in his history of the reign of Michael Pakeologus.t calls them Albanians and Illyrians indiscriminately ; and he says that they enjoyed acknowledged independence of the Greek emperor, and were allies of Charles king of Sicily, who then occupied the island of Corfu and the town of Kanina, anciently Bullis, near Aulon. In the year 1294, Philip, duke of Taranto. the son of Charles the Second, king of the Sicilies, having married the daughter of the despot Nicephorus, received possession of some territory in this country, and called himself Lord of Albania.^ This title descended to his brother and nephew, but these Latin princes never enjoined much authority on this side of the Adriatic. The Albanians are next mentioned by Cantacuzenus,* as having aided Andronicus Palaeologus, in his struggle with his grandfather, in 1327, and as having submitted to him, in number about 12,000, when he, being then sole emperor, made an incursion in Illyrian Macedonia against some rebels of their race. The historian says, that it was in Thessaly; but it is more probable that his knowledge of geography was deficient, than that the Albanians were ever to be found in Thessaly. The same emperor took advantage of the death of the despot John, in the year 1338, and the minority of his son Nicephorus, to revenge himself on the Albanians, for their frequent attacks on his towns, and to overthrow the despotate.f In this he was reinforced by a body of Asiatic Turks, which was the first appearance in Epirus of the future lords of the country. Two Albanian chiefs, named Balza and Spata, became formidable to the Byzantine empire about this period, as is related by the historian Chalcocondylas. Towards the commencement of the fifteenth century, the Albanians came under the rule of a sovereign from the west of Europe in the person of Charles Tocco, who was made despot by the Emperor Manuel Palaeologus. He was one of the Frank princes of the Ionian Islands, and he took the independent possession of Epirus Proper and Acarnania from them J The Turks now commenced their invasion of Albania, although the first battle which had been fought against them, dated as far back as the year 1383. It took place near Berot, and the Albanians were totally routed by the army of the Sultan Murat the First, their general, the only son of Balza, being killed on the occasion. By the year 1431 they were nearly subdued by the Turks, although their total reduction was warded off for some years longer by the brave Scanderbeg and his father-in-law Arianita Topia. Their last struggle was the siege of Scodra, which was described by a native and eyewitness, Marinus Barletius, in a Latin publication, dated at Venice, 1504. The defence was conducted by a Venetian general, and the attack by Mahomet the Second himself. The Albanians displayed a degree of gallantry worthy of their warlike name, in baffling the utmost efforts of a greatly superior number of troops during a whole year, until famine reduced them to the necessity of yielding. The Venetians then stepped in to protect them, and obtained for them an honourable retreat to Venice as refugees, while the town was given up to the Turks. Since then, the Ottoman dominion over the Albanians has been nominally undisputed, but the authority of the Sultan has never been sufficient to enable him to suppress the spirit of revolt which is still strong within them.
* Ptolem. Geog., lib. iii., c. 13. t Lib. xiii., p. 390.
% Dr Hughes. § Lib. iv., c. 27. || Anna Comnena, b. 5.
* Nicetas, Annal. Baldwin, c. ix., p. 410. t Lib. vi., c. 32.
% Ducange, Hist, de Constantinople, lib. vi., c. 16 ; lib. vii., c. 1; lib. viii., c. 34. * Ducange, Hist, de Constantinople, lib. i., c. 55. t Cantacuzenus, lib. ii., c. 32. J Lib. iv.( p. 112, 113.
This is nearly all that is known of the history of the Albanians, and, although it is uncertain and obscure, still several heroes of this race have arisen to adorn its pages. There is first the great Scanderbeg ; then the more ancient Ealza and Spata; there is All Pasha of the present century ; and in the last, Ghalil or Patrona. The latter headed a sudden revolution which overwhelmed the capital in 1730, and he became absolute master of Constantinople, as recorded by Lord Sandwich.
Many communities of Albanians, which were formerly Christian, have become followers of Mahomet. Some of these were forced to become apostates by Badjazet, their conqueror, very few having had the constancy to resist this conversion by means of the sword. There were, however, instances of fidelity to the Cross, under the most difficult and trying circumstances, the most remarkable of which were the Souliotes, Chimariotes, and Parganotes, who remained faithful to the Greek Church, and the Mirdites, to that of Rome. Others again changed their religion from motives of interest and ambition. One inducement to adopt the Mussulman faith, which was held out to the Albanians by the Turkish government, was in the shape of a law, securing their property to each family which should bring up one of their sons as a Mahometan. Many proselytes were thus gained, and the succession of land was diverted from the Christians to the Mussulmen. Again, soldiers by necessity and from choice, the Albanians could attain rank and power,
only through a conformity of faith with their military superiors ; while religion sat so lightly on this class of the population, that it was of little consequence to themselves which rite they followed, as they were never strict in the observance of any form of worship. This was not the case with the Greeks of Albania ; for not only Christianity seems to have taken a much deeper root in them, but also their prospects in life did not depend so immediately on a recantation of religion. The adoption of Mahometanism was certainly advantageous, in a worldly point of view, to the whole Christian population of European Turkey; but the pursuits of most of the Greeks did not render them exclusively dependent on it for their welfare, as occurred with the Albanians. More addicted to commerce, the Greeks cherished rather any connections which they could form with Western Europeans ; or, when induced by vocation or persecution to become soldiers, they preferred the life of the free Klepht to that of the organised Armatoli bands. Their religion was then optional, and they rarely became renegades. This tendency evidenced the natural breach which existed between the Albanians and the Greeks ; and the Turks were wily enough to foresee the advantage which they might derive from it by making use of the former against the latter. Indeed, it is an undoubted fact, that the Turkish government succeeded in keeping Greece in subjection, up to the time of the revolution, solely by means of the Mussulman Albanians. Gratitude has not been the recompence of the latter, for the Osrnauli despises the Mussulman Skipetar, even more than he does the Christian Greek. They have earned the just reward of all traitors and renegades, having betrayed their country and renounced the true faith. A curse seems to have settled on this unhappy people; and they deserved it for the rejection of that Gospel which was given to them by St Paul himself, before their descent into Epirus. For the great Apostle of the Gentiles preached " round about unto Illyricum."* Their present state proves that they have inherited the doom which was entailed on them by their apostate forefathers. Unhappy in their faith, and mistrusted of both Greeks and Turks, there is little doubt, however, that they might again be restored to Christendom, were the Albanians, who have not abandoned the cross for the crescent, admitted to equal privileges. There are still many of the latter class, as one of the best authorities on this subject * gives it as his opinion, that only one half of the Albanian nation has relinquished their fidelity. Christianity seems, however, never to have taken a very firm hold on this race, which is morally and intellectually, if not in strength and physical courage, greatly inferior to the Greeks. Their interests dictated their apostasy ; and however unworthy the motive may be, a similar agency may lead back these lost sheep to the fold. The very readiness which many of them shewed to adopt Islamism, is an earnest of their easy recantation and return ; and, were the allurements of military advancement to be equally the right of every distinguished soldier, whether Moslem or Giaour, the Mahometan Albanians would probably again become Christians. This would most likely be the first eifect— and it is no paltry or insignificant one—of the emancipation of the latter in Turkey, and of the establishment of a complete system of general and mutual religious tolerance, provided always that it is enforced, and does not remain a mere project on paper, unseen and unfelt in real life. A radical change in this, as well as in their social and political circumstances, would certainly afford tranquillity to these restless and rapacious tribes, which, in their present state, are constantly at war among themselves.
* Koreans xv. 19.
An incident occurred about two months ago, which illustrates the actual condition of society in Epirus, while it is also highly characteristic of the primitive and patriarchal manners of the Albanians. A feud had existed for some time between two villages of the Tsami and Liapi tribes, and various acts of reciprocal vexation had kept it alive, without its having exploded, until now, in open hostilities and bloodshed. These were produced on this occasion by the following circumstance. A Tsami shepherd, being alone on the hill, was overpowered by a party of Liapides, and his flock of sheep was driven by the latter to the wild mountains of the Chimara. A detachment belonging to the village of the Tsami was bold enough to enter this rugged and hostile country in search of the stolen sheep, or of revenge. They met a number of Liapis, inhabitants of the obnoxious village ; the sheep were demanded and refused, a volley of abuse ensued on both sides, and the signal for action was given. The ma,nceuvres consisted for some time in their favourite mode of fighting, which resembles the service of riflemen ; they fired at each other from a considerable distance, and sheltered by trees and rocks. But emissaries had been dispatched, at the commencement of the fight, for succour by both contending parties, and in a few hours hundreds were engaged. Not many, however, had been killed and wounded as yet, considering the mode of skirmishing which was going on, but in a short time they would have thrown down their long guns and used their pistols and yataghans. The Albanians are in the habit of rushing upon each other with loud shouts, when their fury is lashed into charging order by a few successful shots. On this occasion, before they had come to close quarters, several of the old men of the respective villages had come to the spot, and one of the Liapi tribe, who was respected for his age and wisdom, called out that he demanded a parley. It was immediately granted, and in a few minutes the scene was totally changed. Ten or a dozen of the patriarchs of both tribes were now seated on the ground, smoking their long pipes and discussing the terms of peace in the most solemn manner, while the palicara or fighting men stood around them, leaning on the muzzles of their guns, looking fierce at each other, and twisting their long mustachios. The killed and wounded of both parties, being but few in number, were already in the hands of the women, who are never far distant from a scene of conflict; and, on comparing notes, it was found that the respective tribes had suffered an equal loss in this way. The old men of the Liapides then tendered an offer of restoring the stolen flock of sheep, but the Tsami spokesmen demurred, on the plea of the proverbial bad faith of the former clan. They therefore asked for hostages, or security in money. None of the latter article was forthcoming, so the Liapis offered an amount of solid silver equalling thirty okes, or nearly ninety pounds weight. This was accepted as a pledge, and the one tribe had such a degree of confidence in the oath and honour of the other, that they agreed not only to leave their property in their hands, but also to disarm themselves by doing so, for the silver, which was of much greater value than the sheep, consisted in the mountings of guns and pistols, in cartouch boxes, and in hilts of yataghans. The oaths were sworn, the silver was handed over, and the late combatants separated, amicably wishing each other lives of a thousand years. A few days later the sheep were found at sunrise quietly grazing near the Tsami village whence they had been stolen; and the silver was immediately deposited in a ruined church half way on the road to the Liapi village. Thus terminated the feud for the present, although the feeling of hostility has very little abated, and will again burst forth in the same way at the first opportunity. The Turkish government took no notice whatever of this affair.
* Colonel Leake.
An often-quoted author* says of the Albanians, that " they are in the constant habit of either warring upon each other, or of hiring themselves to some powerful chieftain of Albania, or of seeking their fortunes as mercenary troops in other parts of the empire. Although preserving a marked distinction from the Greeks, in form and physiognomy, having light eyes and high cheek-bones, they resemble very much in character and manners, the natives of the more mountainous and independent districts of Greece. They possess, perhaps, more evenness of conduct, more prudence, more fidelity to their employers, and, at the same time, more selfishness, avidity, and avarice ; but there is found among them the same rigid observance of religious prejudices, the same superstitions, the same active, keen, and enterprising genius, the same hardy, patient, and laborious habits." This is certainly a portrait drawn from the life, and it is strikingly resembling, although there is one point which does not now appear to be an exact copy of the original, but the lapse of years since the picture was painted may account for the discrepancy. The valuable work,* from which the extract is taken, was published more than thirty years ago, and then the Albanian may have been more wedded to " religious prejudices and superstitions" than he is now. It is a sad state of society for the century in which it exists, and for the geographical position of the country, which is so near the civilised nations of Europe. But even, bad as it is, it fosters many fine qualities in the Albanians, which are brought out by their adventurous life. For instance, they possess great presence of mind when exposed to danger, and in general they know not of the existence of such a feeling as the fear of death. They are strong and fine-looking men, with the exception of the Liapi tribe, and bear in their gait and carriage a consciousness of physical power and determined courage. A wellknown traveller* says, when landing in Epirus, " the Albania peasant or soldier, words which, in this country, seem to be almost synonymous, is here seen in the completeness of his national character and costume. Generally masculine in his person, having features which shew him not subdued into the tameness of slavery, and with a singular stateliness of his walk and carriage, the manner of his dress adds to these peculiarities, and renders the whole figure more striking and picturesque than any other with which I am acquainted.'' They are devoted and obedient to their chiefs, whom they love, and follow from generation to generation. A species of hereditary and feudal aristocracy thus exists, and its power among themselves is unlimited. The title of these nobles is that of Bey, which originates with the Albanians. Many of this people know no language but their own ; and those who can speak Greek are easily recognised by their strong guttural accent. Their conduct to their women is one of the worst traits in their character : they marry, as they would buy a donkey, not to enjoy conjugal happiness, but to
* Colonel Leake.
* Researches in Greece. t Dr Holland.
have their fire-wood carried home, and to have their provisions conveyed to and from the nearest market. They are constantly to be seen on the road, riding the horse whose load has been transferred to the back of the master's wife ; and the poor creature, bent nearly double as she creeps slowly along, is perhaps knitting a stocking for her husband all the time. This has been remarked by most of those who have visited the country; and one of them* thus describes the state of the Albanian women : " They are in general too poor to avail themselves of the license which their religion grants for polygamy, but are content with one wife, who is chosen like any other animal, more for a slave or drudge than for a companion. They are by no means jealous of their women, nor do they confine them like the Turks and Greeks. The wretched creature of a wife, with one or two infants tied in a bag behind her back, cultivates the ground, and attends to the household affairs by turns, whilst her lordly master ranges over the forest in search of game, guards the flocks, or watches behind a rock with his fusil ready to aim at the unwary traveller. These women are in general hard-featured, with complexions rendered coarse by exposure to all varieties of weather, and with persons attenuated by constant toil and scanty fare. In some districts they meet with better treatment, and are found ready to share the dangers of war with the men, as well as the labours of agriculture.''t But the least expression of compassion from a stranger enrages them, for they consider their bondage honourable ; and the only disgrace with them is to be without children, or to remain unmarried.
The Albanians are compared with the Highlanders of Scotland, by a writer}: well acquainted with their present state, and their character and habits, as well as their dress and appearance, certainly bear a strong mutual resemblance. Active and daring, hardy and frugal, they may become the finest light infantry in the world ; and, in fact, the Turkish ranks are solely dependent upon them for that branch of their army. They were first employed as regular soldiers in the time of the Byzantine empire, when the bands of Armatoli were formed ; and the Turks were wise enough to continue this system of militia, for the defence of the many defiles and mountain-passes of continental Greece. They had also the responsible protection of all the roads, when brigandage was rife ; and although the travellers in general suffered robbery equally frequently, yet a strict superior officer could make the system efficacious. A chief functionary under the Turks commanded them, with the title of Dervendji Bashi, from the Persian word derbend, or pass ; and it was this post which commenced the extraordinary career of Ali Pasha of Ja.nnina. He made the Armatoli so efficient as road-guards, that highway robbery was effectually put a stop to. One of his expedients to intimidate by example was to cut off the hands and feet of all the brigands whom he captured, and to leave them on the most frequented roads to die of hunger, and the effects of their mutilation. So appalling an example did not, as it is said, require a very frequent repetition, for in a short time the roads became as secure to travellers as those of the most civilised countries; and a man might have walked in perfect safety, with his purse in his hand, from one end of the province to the other. The terror of Ali's name alone was an invisible JEgis to protect him.
* I)r Hughes. t Travels in Greece and Albania, vol. ii., p. 106.
J Mr Urquhart.
Ne sot po hedhim faren me emrin Bashkim,
Qe neser te korrim frutin me emrin Bashkim!