Title: The Autobiography of a Journalist, Volume II
Author: William James Stillman
Release date: March 1, 2004 [eBook #11594]
Most recently updated: December 26, 2020
E-text prepared by the Project Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading
[Illustration: W. Stillman]
Cholera was raging all over the Levant, and there was no direct communication with any Turkish port without passing through quarantine. In the uncertainty as to getting to my new post by any route, I decided to leave my wife and boy at Rome, with a newcomer,—our Lisa, then two or three months old,—and go on an exploring excursion. Providing myself with a photographic apparatus, I took steamer at Civita Vecchia for Peiraeus. Arrived at Athens I found that no regular communication with any Turkish port was possible, and that the steamers to Crete had been withdrawn, though there had not been, either at that or at any previous time, a case of cholera in Crete; but such was the panic prevailing in Greece that absolute non-intercourse with the island and the Turkish empire had been insisted on by the population. People thought I might get a chance at Syra to run over by a sailing-boat, so I went to Syra. But no boat would go to Crete, because the quarantine on the return was not merely rigorous but merciless, and exaggerate to an incredible severity. No boat or steamer was admitted to enter the port coming from any Turkish or Egyptian port, though with a perfectly clean bill of health, and all ships must make their quarantine at the uninhabited island of Delos. Such was the panic that no one would venture to carry provisions to that island while there was a ship in quarantine, and during the fortnight I waited at Syra an English steamer without passengers, and with a clean bill of health, having finished her term, was condemned to make another term of two weeks, because a steamer had come in with refugees from Alexandria, and had anchored in the same roadstead. Mr. Lloyd, the English consul, protested and insisted on the steamer being released, and the people threatened to burn his house over his head if he persisted; but, as he did persist, the ship was finally permitted to communicate with Syra, but not to enter the harbor, and was obliged to leave without discharging or taking cargo, after being a month in quarantine.
At last an English gentleman named Rogers, who lived at Syra, an ex-officer of the English army, offered to carry me over to Canea on his yacht of twelve tons, and take the consequences. I found the consulate, like the position in Rome, deserted, the late consul having been a Confederate who had gone home to enlist, I suppose, for he had been gone a long time, and the archives did not exist. There was nothing to take over but a flag, which the vice-consul, a Smyrniote Greek, and an honest one, as I was glad to find, but who knew nothing of the business of a consul, had been hoisting on all fête days for two or three years, waiting for a consul to come. I was received with great festivity by my protégés, the family of the vice-consul, and with great ceremony by the pasha, a renegade Greek, educated in medicine by the Sultana Valide, and in the enjoyment of her high protection; an unscrupulous scoundrel, who had grafted on his Greek duplicity all the worst traits of the Turk. As, with the exception of the Italian consul, Sig. Colucci, not one of the persons with whom I acted or came in contact in my official residence survives, unless it may be the commander of the Assurance, an English gunboat, of whose subsequent career I know nothing, I shall treat them all without reserve.
The Pasha, Ismael, I at once found, considered it his policy to provoke a conflict with any new consul, and either break him in or buy him over; and the occasion for a trial of strength was not long coming. The night patrol attempted to arrest the son of the vice-consul in his house, in which I had been temporarily residing while the house which I took was being put in order, and over which the flag floated. I at once demanded an apology, and a punishment for the mulazim in command of the patrol. The pasha refused it, and I appealed to Constantinople. The Porte ordered testimony to be taken concerning the affair, and the pasha took that of the mulazim and the policeman on oath, and then that of my witnesses without the oath, the object being, of course, to protest against their evidence on the ground that they would not swear to it. I immediately had their evidence retaken on oath and sent on to Constantinople with the rest. The Porte decided in my favor, and ordered the apology to be made by the mulazim. As the affair went on with much detail of correspondence between the konak and the consulate for some weeks, it had attracted the general attention of our little public, and the final defeat of the pasha was a mortification to him which he made every effort to conceal. He denied for several weeks having received any decision from the Porte, in the hope, probably, that he would tire me out; but as I had nothing to do, and the affair amused me, I stuck to him as tenaciously as he to his denials, and he had to give in. It was a very small affair, but the antagonism so inaugurated had a strong effect on the Cretans, who found in me an enemy of their tyrant.
Ismael was cruel and dishonorable; he violated his given word and pledges without the slightest regard for his influence with the population. I have since seen a good deal of Turkish maladministration, and I am of the opinion that more of the oppression of the subject populations is due to the bad and thieving instincts of the local officials than directly to the Sublime Porte, and that the simplest way of bringing about reforms (after the drastic one of abolishing the Turkish government) is in the Powers asserting a right of approbation of all nominations to the governorships throughout the whole empire. When, as at certain moments in the long struggle of which I am now beginning the history, I came in contact with the superior officers of the Sultan, I found a better sense of the policy of justice than obtained with the provincial functionaries.
Ismael Pasha had only one object,—to do anything that would advance his promotion and wealth. He regarded a foreign consul, with the right of exterritoriality, as a hostile force in the way of his ambitions, and, therefore, until he found that one was not to be bought or worried into indifference to the injustice perpetrated around him, he treated him as an enemy. I always liked a good fight in a good cause, and I had no hesitation in taking up the glove that Ismael threw down, and my defiance of all his petty hostile manoeuvres was immediately observed by the acute islanders and put down to my credit and exaltation in the popular opinion. The discontent against his measures was profound, and the winter of my first year in the island was one of great distress. Ismael had laid new and illegal taxes on straw, wine, all beasts of burden, which, with oppressive collection of the habitual tithes (levied in accordance not with the actual value of the crops, but with their value as estimated by the officials), and short crops for two years past, made life very hard for the Cretan. Even this was not enough; justice was administered with scandalous venality and disregard of the existing laws and procedure. Not long after my arrival at Canea, the hospital physician, a humane Frenchman, informed me that an old Sphakiot had just died in the prison, where he had been confined for a long time in place of his son, who had been guilty of a vendetta homicide and had escaped to the Greek islands. According to a common Turkish custom, the pasha had ordered his nearest relative to be arrested in his place. This was the old father, who lay in prison till he died.
The capricious cruelty of Ismael was beyond anything I had ever heard of. One day I was out shooting and was attacked by a dog whom I saluted with a charge of small birdshot, on which the owner made complaint to the pasha that I had peppered accidentally one of his children. Ismael spread this report through the town, learning which I made him an official visit demanding a rectification and examination of the child, which was found without a scratch. The pasha, furious at the humiliation of exposure, then threw the man into prison, and as he, Adam-like, accused his wife of concocting the charge, he ordered her also to prison for two weeks, without the slightest investigation, leaving three small children helpless. I protested, and insisted on the release of the man, who had only obeyed the wish of the pasha in making the charge against me.
Having no occupation but archaeological research and photography, I decided to make a series of expeditions into the mountain district, and to begin with a visit to the famous strongholds of Sphakia. The pasha protested, but as I had a right to go where I pleased, I paid no attention to his protests, and he then went to the other extreme, and offered to provide me with horses, which offer I unfortunately accepted. The horse I rode and the groom the pasha sent with him were equally vicious. The man, when we saddled up the first day out, put the saddle on so loosely that as we mounted the first steep rocky slope the saddle slipped over the horse's tail, carrying me with it, and the horse walked over me, breaking a rib and bruising me severely, and then tried to kick my brains out. I remounted and kept on, but that night the pain of the broken rib was such, and the fever so high, that I was obliged to give up the journey and go back to Canea. I found that the pasha had anticipated a disaster, and heard of it with great satisfaction.
As soon as restored, I set out on a trip to the central district of Retimo, then perfectly tranquil, the agitation in Sphakia, which preceded the great insurrection, having already begun, and making my venturing there imprudent. I was anxious to see something of the provincial government of the island, as, in Canea, where the foreign consuls resided, there was always the slight check of publicity on the arbitrariness of the official, though what we saw did not indicate a very effective one. I had a dragoman in Retimo, a well-to-do merchant, who served for the honor and protection the post gave him, and his house was mine pro tem., and over it, during my stay, floated the flag of the consulate. We made an excursion across the island to the convent of Preveli, situated in one of the most beautiful valleys in the island, sheltered on the north, east, and west by hills, and lying, like a theatre, open to the south, and looking off on the African sea. The entrance was by a narrow gorge, and here we witnessed one of those natural phenomena that still impress an ignorant people with the awe from which, in more ancient times, religion received its most potent sanction. The wind passing through some orifice in the cliff far above our heads, even when we felt none below, produced a mysterious organ-like sound, which the people regarded as due to some supernatural influence. As all the modern sanctuaries in that part of the world are founded on the ruins of ancient shrines, I have no doubt that our hospitable shelter of that night was on the site of some temple to one of the great gods of Crete.
That journey gave me a sight of one of the remarkable Cretan women, whose reputation for beauty I had always regarded, judging from the women in the cities, as a classical fable. I had been making a visit to the mudir of the province through which we were passing, and, after pipes and coffee, and the usual ceremonies, I mounted my horse, and, at the head of my escort, rode out of the mudir's courtyard, when my eye was caught by the flutter of the robes of a woman in a garden across the road. Around the garden ran a high hedge of cactus, and as I leaned forward in my saddle to look through one of the openings, a girl's face presented itself to me at the other side of it, and we stared each other in the eyes for several seconds before she—a Mussulman girl—remembered that she must not be seen, when, wrapping her veil around her head, she flew to the house. The vision was of such a transcendent beauty as I had, and have since, never seen in flesh and blood,—a mindless face, but of such exquisite proportion, color, and sweetness of modeling, with eyes of such lustrous brown, that I did not lose the vivid image of it, or the ecstatic impression it produced, for several days; it seemed to be ineradicably impressed on the sensorium in the same manner as the ecstatic vision I have recorded of my wood-life. I suppose such beauty to be incompatible with any degree of mental activity or personal character, for the process of mental development carries with it a trace of struggle destructive to the supreme serenity and statuesque repose of the Cretan beauty. Pashley tells of a similar experience he had in the mountains of Sphakia, and he was impressed as I was.
On our arrival at the city gates, returning to Retimo, we had an experience of the mediaeval ways of the island, finding the gates locked and no guard on duty. We called and summoned,—for a consul had always the privilege of having the gates opened to him at any hour of day or night,—but in vain, until I devised a summons louder than our sticks on the gate, and, taking the hugest stone I could lift, threw it with all my force repeatedly at the gate, and so aroused the guard, who went to the governor and got the keys, which were kept under his pillow. The next day we had an affair with Turkish justice which illustrates the position of the consuls in Turkey so well that I tell it fully. The dragoman and I had gone off to shoot rock-pigeons in one of the caves by the seashore, leaving at home my breech-loading hunting rifle, then a novelty in that part of the world. When we got home at night the city was full of a report that some one in our house had shot a Turkish boy through the body. I at once made an investigation and found that the facts were that a boy coming to the town, at a distance of about half a mile from the gate, had been hit by a rifle ball which had struck him in the chest and gone out at the back. No one had heard a shot, and the sentinel at our doors, set nominally for honor, but really to watch the house, had not heard any sound. The boy was in no danger, and he declared that the bullet had struck him in the back and gone out by the chest. My Canea dragoman, who was reading in the house all the time we were gone, had heard nothing and knew nothing about it; but, on examining the rifle, I found that some one had tried to wipe it out and had left a rag sticking half way down, the barrel. This pointed to a solution, and an investigation made the whole thing clear. The dragoman's man-servant had taken the gun out on the balcony which looked out on the port, and fired a shot at a white stone on the edge of the wall, in the direction of the village where the boy was hit.
The kaimakam of Retimo sent an express to Canea to ask Ismael what he should do, and received reply to prosecute the affair with the utmost vigor. He therefore summoned the entire household of the dragoman, except him and myself, to the konak, to be examined. As they were all under my protection I refused to send them, but offered to make a strict investigation and tell him the result; but, knowing the rigor of the Turkish law against a Christian who had wounded a Mussulman, even unintentionally, I insisted on being the magistrate to sit in the examination. The pasha declined my offer, and I forbade any one in the house to go to the konak for examination. I then appeared before the kaimakam and demanded the evidence on which my house was accused. There was none except that of the surgeon, who was a Catholic, and a bigoted enemy of the Greeks, and especially of the dragoman, with whom he had had litigation. He declared that the shot came from the direction of the town, while the boy maintained the contrary; and as, in the direction from which the boy had come, there was a Mussulman festival, with much firing of guns, I suggested the possibility that the ball came, as the boy believed, from that direction, and put the surgeon to a severe cross-examination. I asked him if he had ever seen a gunshot wound before, and he admitted that he had not. Thereupon I denounced him to the kaimakam, who had begun to be frightened at the responsibility he had assumed, and the man broke down and admitted that he might be mistaken, on which the kaimakam withdrew the charge.
I knew perfectly well that the servant was guilty, but I knew, too, that for accidental wounding he would have been punished by indefinite confinement in a Turkish prison, as if he had shot the boy intentionally. The refusal of the pasha to permit me to judge the case, as I had a right to do, he being my protégé, left me only the responsibility of the counsel for the prisoner, and I determined to acquit him if possible. The bullet had, fortunately, gone through the boy and could not be found; and, as the wound, though through the lungs, was healing in a most satisfactory manner, and would leave no effects, I had no scruples in preventing a conviction that would have punished an involuntary offense by a terrible penalty, which all who know anything of a Turkish prison can anticipate. The governor-general was very angry, and the kaimakam was severely reprimanded, but they could not help themselves. My position under the capitulations was secure, but it made the hostility between the pasha and myself the more bitter.
The accumulated oppressions of Ismael Pasha had finally the usual effect on the Cretans, and they began to agitate for a petition to the Sultan, a procedure which time had shown to be absolutely useless as an appeal against the governor; and, while the agitation was in this embryonic condition, I decided to go back to Rome and get my wife and children. We were still in the state of siege by the cholera, and there was still no communication with the Greek islands, so that I accepted the offer made by my English colleague, the amiable and gratefully remembered Charles H. Dickson, of whose qualities I shall have to say more in the pages to come, of a passage on a Brixham schooner to Zante. Sailing with a clean bill of health, we had to make a fortnight's quarantine in the roadstead, and, taking passage on the Italian postal steamer to Ancona, I was obliged, on landing, to make another term of two weeks in the lazaretto, though we had again a clean bill; and, on arriving on the Papal frontier by the diligence, we had to undergo a suffocating fumigation, and all this in spite of the fact that no one of the company I had traveled with had been at a city where cholera had existed at any time within three months, or on a steamer which had touched where the cholera was prevalent. At that time there was no railway northward from Rome, and traveling was conducted on the system of the sixteenth century, except for sea travel.
I was not long cutting all the ties that bound me to Rome, though I left a few sincere friends there, and, drawing a bill on my brother for my indebtedness to the kind and helpful banker, an Englishman named Freeborn, to whose friendship I owed the solution of most of the difficulties and all the indulgences I had enjoyed while in Rome, I started on my return to Crete in the problematical condition of one who emigrates to a foreign land through an unknown way. I had money enough to get through if nothing occurred to delay me, and no more, for, with the high rate of exchange on America, I felt distressed at the burthen I was laying on my brother, though I had always been told to consider myself as to be provided for while he had the means, and by his will when he died. His death took place at this juncture, and, curiously enough, the draft reached him in time to be accepted, but he died before it was paid. His will made no mention whatever of me, but left all his property to his wife during her lifetime, and to three Seventh-day Baptist churches after her death.
In our consular service there was no allowance for traveling expenses, or provision of any kind for the extraordinary expenses which might fall on the consul from contingencies like mine. The salary at Crete, which had been $1500 during the war, was reduced to $1000 at its close, and in future I had only that and what my pen might bring me. Arrived at Florence on our way to Ancona, we found the Italian government being installed there; and our minister to Italy, Mr. Marsh, knowing my circumstances, insisted on my taking a thousand francs, though his own salary, which was, as in my case, his only income, was always insufficient for his official and social position at the capital. I accepted it, and it was ten years before I paid it all back.
Looking back on this period of my life from a later and relatively assured, though never prosperous condition, I can see that most of my straits in life have been owing to my having accepted the miserable and delusive advantage of an official position under my government. I was not indolent, and asked for an appointment not to escape work, but to be put in the way of work which I wanted to do; and when I was disappointed in the appointment to Venice I should have set to work at home. But my position was a difficult one. The arts were for the war times suspended; I could not get into the army, my mother in an extreme old age was a pensioner at my brother Charles's house, and my sister-in-law refused to allow me to remain in my brother's house. I had, at an earlier date, in obedience to my brother's urgings and in deference to the Sabbatarian scruples, refused all offers to go into business, as he regarded me as his heir, and had formally and at more than one juncture assured me that my future was provided for and that I need have no anxiety as to money.
My brother had urged my acceptance of the post at Rome, and all the disasters of my subsequent life came from that error. My temperament and the habit of my life had always prevented me from anticipating trouble, and I never hesitated to go ahead in what lay before me, trusting to the chapter of accidents to get through, incessant activity keeping anxiety away. I have never flinched from a duty, if I saw it, have never done an injustice to man or woman, intentionally, and at more than one moment of my career have accepted the worse horn of a dilemma rather than permit a wrong to happen to another; and if I have been erratic and unstable it has not been from selfish or perverse motives. I have always been what most people would call visionary, and material objects of endeavor have not had the value they ought to have had in my eyes. As I look back upon a career which has brought me into contact with many people and many interests not my own, I can honestly say that I have not been actuated in any important transaction by my own interest to the disadvantage of that of other people, though I have probably often insisted too much on my own way of seeing things in undue disregard of the views of others. Confronted with opportunities of enriching myself illicitly, I can honestly say that they never offered the least temptation, for I have never cared enough about money or what it brings to do anything solely for it; and, if I have been honest, it has not been from the excellence of my principles, but because I was born so.
But if I could have conceived what this Cretan venture was to bring me to, I should have taken the steamer to America rather than to the Levant. The few days we remained in Florence, then still crowded by the advent of the court, with its satellites and accompaniments, gave me an opportunity to know well one of the noblest of my countrymen of that period of our history, Mr. George P. Marsh. It is difficult even now, after the lapse of many years since I last saw him, to do justice to the man as I came, then and in later years, to know him and compare him with other Americans in public life. As a representative of our country abroad, no one, not even Lowell, has stood for it so nobly and unselfishly; Charles Francis Adams alone rivaling him in the seriousness with which he gave himself to the Republic. Lowell was not less patriotic, but he loved society and England; Marsh in those days of trial loved nothing but his country, and with an intensity that was ill-requited as it was immeasurable. He took a great interest in our little Russie, whom he pronounced the most remarkable child for beauty and intelligence he had ever seen, and his interest followed us in the tragedy of our Cretan life.
We sailed by the Austrian Lloyds' steamer to Corfu, with a bill of health in perfect order, but on arrival at Corfu were ordered into quarantine, because six months before cholera had made a brief appearance at Ancona. Our consul, Mr. Woodley, came off to the steamer to see me, for the American flag was flying from the masthead, as is customary in the Levant when a consul is on board, and he proposed to hire a little yacht for us to make the quarantine in, as otherwise we should have to go to a desert island at the head of the bay, where the only shelter was an ancient and dilapidated lazaretto overrun by rats, and where we should have to pass two weeks dependent on the enterprise of the Corfiotes for our subsistence. The yacht was accepted, and came to an anchor off the marina, two or three hundred yards from the quay, and we transshipped at once, as the steamer continued her voyage. The putting us in quarantine was a monstrous injustice. We came from a clean port, on a steamer which had not for several months touched at a foul port; but the panic was such amongst the people that there was no reasoning with them. We had not lain a day at the anchorage when the fright of the Corfiotes at our proximity, as great as if we had the plague on board, caused a popular demonstration against us, and the health-officer coming off in a boat ordered us from a distance to move off to the lazaretto island. I replied that if he was prepared to come and weigh the anchor and navigate us there he might do so, but that no one of the yacht's people should touch the anchor, and on that I stood firm; and, as no one dared come in contact with the yacht in contumacy, there we remained. The panic on shore increased to such a point that Woodley and the health-officer had a quiet consultation, and it was agreed to give us pratique immediately. We went that night to the hotel, and the question was forgotten by the next day. The Corfiotes are certainly the most cowardly people I have ever known, and in later years we had other evidence of the fact; but, as they disclaim Hellenic descent, and boast Phoenician blood, this does not impeach the Greek at large.
We left Corfu by the steamer of the Hellenic Navigation Company on the eve of the Greek Christmas, my family being the only passengers, and without the captain of the steamer, who pretended illness, in order to be able to enjoy the festa with his family; the command being taken by the mate, a sailor of limited experience in those waters. The engineers were English or Scotch, the chief being one of the Blairs. What with the Christmas festivities and the customary dawdling, we did not sail till 10 P.M., instead of at 10 A.M., and, to make up for the delay, the commander pro tem. made a straight course for the port of Argostoli in Cephalonia, our next stopping place. We made the island about 10 A.M. of the next morning, and were well in towards the shore when we were caught by one of the sudden southwesterly gales which are the terror of the Mediterranean, and more dangerous than a full-grown Atlantic gale. The cliffs to the north of Argostoli were in sight, looming sheer rock above the sea line, and the wind, rapidly increasing, blew directly on shore, bringing with it a quick, sharp sea, and getting up before long a cross sea by the repercussion from the cliffs, so that in the complicated tumult of waters the old, heavy paddle steamer rolled and pitched like a log, the water pouring over the bulwarks with every roll either way. Soon, what with the wind and the sea, she made nothing but leeway. They put her head to the wind, and we soon found that even to hold her own was more than she could do, while our port lay ten miles away dead on the beam, and the cliffs dead astern.
The plunging and rolling of the ship made it impossible to stand or walk on deck, and I sent Laura and the children to their stateroom and to bed, lest they break their bones. The wind, a whistling gale, cut off the caps of the waves and filled the air with a dense spray, and the main deck was all afloat. There were no orders heard, none given, nothing but the monotonous beat of the paddles and the roar of the wind, and the crew were all under shelter, for it was no longer a question of seamanship, but of steam-power; only the commander pacing the bridge to and fro, like a polar hear in a cage, and the engineers changing their watch, broke the monotony of the merciless blue day, for, except a little flying scud, the sky was as blue as on a summer day.
I walked aft to the engineers' mess-room, on the upper deck, and found Blair and the two assistants off duty, seated round the table, not eating, but mute, with their elbows on the table and their heads in their hands, looking each other in the face in grim silence. We had made friends on leaving Corfu, and were on easy terms, so that, as I entered and no one spoke to me, but all looked up as if I were the shadow of death, I began to rally them for their seamanship, but got no word of retort from one of them. "What's the matter with you all?" I said; "you look as if you had had bad news." "The matter is we are going ashore," said the chief engineer. "This—fool of a mate has got caught in shore and we can't make steam enough to hold our own against this wind." I had not thought of this; I was chafing at the delay and the discomfort to Laura and the children. What was the worst in the case was still to be known. The boilers of the steamer were old and rotten, and had been condemned, and, but for the sharp economy of the Greek steamship company, would have been out already. The chief engineer, when he found that the engines at ordinary pressure did not keep the steamer from, going astern, had tied the safety valve down and made all the steam the furnaces would make. "If we don't go ahead we are done for just as much as if we blow up," said he; "for if we touch those rocks not a soul of us can escape, and we shall touch them if we drift, just as surely as if we blow up."
I went out of the mess-room with a feeling that it was a dream,—so bright, so beautiful a day,—we so well, so late from land, and so near to death! "Bah!" I said to myself. "They are fanciful; the cliffs are still a couple of miles away, and something will come to avert the wreck." I went down to the stateroom; Laura and the boy were unable to raise their heads from extreme sea-sickness, but baby Lisa was swinging on the edge of her berth, delighted with the motion, and singing like a bird, in her baby way. I sat down in my berth—there were four berths in each room—and watched her, and somehow the faith grew in me that we were not going that way at that time, that the hour had not come; and I went back to the mess-room to try to inspire confidence in my friends.
The afternoon was now wearing on. Since 10 A.M. we had made no headway towards our port, and when I looked at the cliffs it was clear that they were getting nearer, and the wind showed no signs of lulling. Our only hope lay in being able to drift so slowly that the wind might fall before we struck, and if that did not take place before nightfall it probably would not till the next morning. Rationally I understood this perfectly, but I could not feel that there was imminent danger. I had no presentiment of death, and nothing that I could do would enable me to realize the real and visible danger.
The wind never lulled an instant or blew a degree less furiously; it came still from the blue sky, and still we plunged and buried our bows and shipped floods at every plunge; the wheels throbbed and beat as ever, and no one moved on deck. The engineers changed their watches and the captain unrelieved kept up his to and fro on the bridge. I am confident that of all the men on board I was the only one who was not persuaded that death was near. My wife never knew till long after what the danger had been. We could already see that the water beneath the cliff was a wild expanse of breakers, coming in and recoiling, crossing, heaving, surging,—a white field of foam, where no human being could catch a breath. The waves that swung in before this gale rose in breakers against the cliff higher than our masts. We might go up in their spray if we reached the rocks, but no anchor could check our crawling to doom. To this day I look back with surprise at the complete freedom, not from fright, but even from a recognition of any real danger impending over us, which I then felt; it was not courage, but a something stronger than myself or my own weakness; it was not even a superstitious faith that I should be preserved from the threatened peril, but a profound and immovable conviction that the danger was not real; and the whole thing was to me simply a magnificent spectacle, in which the apprehension of my shipmates rather perplexed than unnerved me.
In half an hour more, the captain said, our margin of safety would be passed,—drifting as we then drifted our stern would try conclusions with the cliffs of Cephalonia. The sun was going down in a wild and lurid sky, a few fragments of clouds still flying from the west, when, almost as the sun touched the horizon, there came a lull; the wind went out as it had come on, died away utterly, and as we got our bows round for Argostoli we could hear the roar of the great waves that broke against the cliffs, and could see in the afterglow the tall breakers mounting up against them. In ten minutes we were going with all the steam it was safe to carry for Argostoli, where we ran in with the late stars coming out, and our engineers broke out into festive exuberance of spirits as we sat down to dine together at anchor in the tranquil waters of that magnificent port, where the Argonauts had taken refuge long before us. Blair shook his head at my rallying him, as he said in his broad Scotch tongue, "Ah, but no man of us expected ever to see his wife and bairns again; that I can assure ye." We were again indebted to private courtesy for a trip from Syra to Canea, though the delay was long. I had made an appeal to the commander of our man-of-war on the station to see us back to my post, but received a curt and discourteous refusal. I am not much surprised when I remember some of the occupants of the consulates in those days.
Returned to Canea, I found that the Cretan assembly had begun its deliberations at Omalos. The real agitation began (ten days after my arrival) on its coming down to Boutzounaria, a little village on the edge of the plain of Canea, where it could negotiate with the governor and communicate with the consuls. There was a plateau from which the plain could be overlooked, so that no surprise was possible, and on which was the spring from which Canea got its water, an aqueduct from the pre-Roman times bringing it to the city. It was cut by Metellus when he besieged Canea, and at all the crises of Cretan history had been contested by the two parties in its wars. Long deliberation was required to formulate the petition to the Sultan, but it was finally completed, and a solemn deputation of gray-headed captains of villages brought to each of the consuls a copy, and consigned the original to the governor for transmission to Constantinople. He, in accepting it, ordered the assembly to disperse and wait at home for the answer. He had on a previous occasion tried the same device, and when the assembly had dispersed he had arrested the chiefs, called a counter assemblage of his partisans, and got up a counter petition, which he sent to the Sultan. They, therefore, refused this time to separate. The reverence of the Cretans for their traditional procedure was such that when the assembly had dissolved, its authority, and that of the persons composing it, lapsed, and the deputies had no right to hope for obedience if they called on the population to rise. The assembly would have to be again convened, elected, and organized in order to exercise any authority.
As the plan of the pasha was to provoke a conflict, he ordered the troops out, and called a meeting of the consuls, to whom he communicated his intention of dispersing the assembly by force. As this meant fighting, the consuls opposed it, with the exception of Derché, the French consul, who took the lead in approving the pasha's proposals. The English consul, Dickson, an extremely honest and humane man, but tied by his instructions to act with his French colleague, could only say that the assembly thus far had acted in strict accordance with its firman rights, and he hoped that they would be respected, but he did not join in the opposition with the rest of us. Colucci, the Italian, the youngest of the consular body, said that he had information that the committee of the assembly had expressed their willingness to disperse on receiving assurance that they would not, as in the former case, be molested for the action they had taken; and as they had committed no illegal act, he considered this their due. His excellency dodged the suggestion, and, rising, was about to dismiss the meeting, when, seeing that nothing had been done to avert the collision, I arose and formally protested against the attempt to disperse the assembly by force, and against any implied consent of the consular body to the programme he had announced. The Italian, the Russian, and one or two of the other consuls followed, supporting my protest, and the pasha, disconcerted by the unexpected demonstration against him, sat down again, and we renewed the discussion, when Dickson said that what he had said was implied in the position, and that as the assembly had done nothing to deserve persecution, it could not be supposed that they would be subjected to it, and he regarded the assurance of immunity as uncalled for. And so the conference broke up, leaving me in the position of the defender of Cretan liberties, but the troops were not sent out, and the report spread through the island that the pasha and the consuls were at loggerheads.
The real reason for the insistence on the formal promise being made to the consuls was that a list of the agitators indicated for arrest had been found by the daughter of the Greek secretary of the pasha, in which, amongst the names of the persons to be arrested, was her lover, to whom she gave the list. It was possible even then that the Cretans would have submitted but for the influence of two Greek agents in the camp of the assembly. These were one Dr. Ioannides and a priest called Parthenios Kelaïdes, a patriotic Cretan, but long resident in Greece. These urged the assembly to extreme measures, and promised support from Greece. When, later, hostilities broke out, Parthenios went into the ranks and fought bravely, but Dr. Ioannides disappeared from the scene. The next device of Ismael was to call the Mussulmans of the interior into the fortresses, and when we protested against this as dangerous and utterly uncalled for, the pasha sent a counter order; but the bearers of it met the unfortunate Mussulmans by the way, having abandoned everything, thrown their silkworms to the fowls, and left their crops ungathered, and being ready to vent their hostility on the innocent Christian population, whom they made responsible for the disaster. The call to come in was then renewed, and the entire Mussulman population gathered in the three fortresses of Canea, Candia, and Retimo. A panic on the part of the Christians followed, and all the vessels sailing for the Greek islands were crowded with fugitives. The pasha called for troops from Constantinople, though no violence had been even threatened, and several battalions of Turkish regulars with eight thousand Egyptians arrived and disembarked. With one of the battalions was a dervish fanatic, carrying a green banner, who spread his praying carpet in every public place in Canea, preaching extermination of the infidels. I took a witness and went to the general in chief, Osman Pasha, and protested against this outrage, and the dervish was at once shipped off to Constantinople.
The military chiefs were reasonable, and the Christian population totally unprepared and averse to hostilities, but the plan at Constantinople was, as we soon found, to provoke an insurrection in order to justify a transfer of the island to Egypt. Later we had from Constantinople all the details, but for the moment we could only conjecture the Egyptian collusion in the plan by the presence of Schahin Pasha, the general-in-chief of the Egyptian army, and minister of war of the viceroy, and the very important part taken by him in the ensuing negotiations. He came in great state and pomp, and immediately assumed the lead in the negotiations with the islanders, which were carried on in secret and through Derché. Ismael Pasha, who was probably not in the Egyptian secret, had another plan of his own, equally secret, and the two conflicted. Ismael, as we later learned, intended to raise and subdue an insurrection, which he hoped to do easily, and then, on the strength of his Greek blood and the protection he had at Stamboul, to be named the Prince of Crete. The Egyptian plan was, on the contrary, conciliatory, and depended mainly on direct bribery and the promise of concessions to the Cretans. It had been, as I learned from Constantinople, concocted between the Turkish government, the Marquis de Moustier, the French ambassador, and the viceroy, and proposed to coax or hire the Cretans to ask for the Egyptian protection, when, on the application of the plebiscite, the island was to be transferred to the viceroy on the payment of £400,000 down and a tribute of £80,000. The French diplomatic agent in Egypt had arranged the details in consultation with Derché, but none would fit. Derché thought that all the Cretan chiefs could be bought, and the Egyptian pasha began by distributing £16,000 amongst the churches, mosques, and schools, without forgetting handsome baksheesh to the leading chiefs, who accepted the money, but promised nothing, and made no responsive move. Ismael, meanwhile, was doing his best to provoke hostilities, and finally succeeded in getting up a collision between Cretan Christians and Mussulmans at Candanos, in the southwestern part of the island.
As the Egyptian overtures did not seem to succeed, Schahin Pasha consulted some of the principal merchants of Canea, and was informed that Derché was of no weight or influence, and that if he wanted to move the Cretans he must do so through the American or Russian consuls; whereupon he came to me and frankly told me the whole plan, and that the viceroy proposed to build a great arsenal and naval station at Suda, and fortify the bay, the work being already planned by French engineers. He promised me whatever compensation I should ask if I could help him out. I sent the details to our minister at Constantinople, who laid them before Lord Lyons, the English ambassador, who, I presume, put his foot on the whole affair, as it was never heard of more in the island; but the condition of active hostilities which had supervened at Candanos continued.
An Egyptian division of 4000 men had been posted at Vrysis,—a very important point in the Apokorona, near the position to which the committee of the assembly had retreated,—under a pretext of Schahin Pasha that it would facilitate negotiations and protect the committee. The agitation increased, and isolated murders began to take place at various points. The exodus of the Christians to Greece went on, and of the poorer class, who had not the means of emigrating, great numbers took refuge at the friendly consulates, chiefly the Italian, as my premises were very small and offered little shelter. Multitudes also fled to the mountain, pursued by the Mussulman rabble, and many were killed on the plain in their flight. I had taken a little house in Kalepa (a suburb of Canea where most of the consuls lived) adjoining that of the Greek and near that of the Italian consul, whose wife, being an American, strengthened the alliance which held good between us to the end. The Mussulman populace, already supplied with arms and ammunition ad libitum, chafed at being confined within the cities, for the pasha, aware of the danger of an open outbreak at the capital, had several times shut the gates to prevent a sortie en masse of the rabble intent on attacking the consulates, for we were now known as divided into two parties; the Russian, the Italian, the Greek, and myself friendly to the Cretans, and Derché and Dickson to the pasha; the Austrian and Swedish completing the corps,—both old men, the latter having witnessed the insurrection of 1827-30,—taking little part in the discussions. The Russian, Dendrinos, a Greek by race and also an old man, was of a timidity which prevented him from taking any initiative even in discussion, while he was intensely active in the intrigues which kept up a running accompaniment to the fight between the pashas.
I had not long before received a present from my brother of some samples of a new revolver and breech-loading hunting rifles, with ammunition, some of which I had, at his request, given Schahin Pasha, as they were novelties to him. With the rest I provided for the defense of my house, barricaded the windows with mattresses, took another cavass guaranteed as faithful by my old one,—Hadji Houssein,—put a rifle and a box of cartridges at each window, besides organizing, with Colucci, a strong patrol of Cretans from the refugees in the consulate, to watch the roads, and waited events. We had written urgently for the dispatch of a man-of-war of one of the European powers, without the protection of which there was imminent danger that an accident might precipitate a fight, and all the friendly consuls be murdered. In this request Derché and Dickson refused to join, on the ground that the presence of a man-of-war of a Christian power (we had plenty of Turkish at Suda) might encourage the Christian Cretans. These on their side gathered, with such arms as they had, to protect the committee, sitting in the Apokorona, and face to face with the Turkish-Egyptian troops, a movement of whom forward would at once bring on the collision we were working to prevent and Ismael and Derché to bring on, but which was really prevented by the discord between Ismael and Schahin. The irregulars, proud of their new rifles, were firing in every direction, and one heard balls whistling through the air, falling on the roofs. On one occasion, when my wife, with other ladies of the consular circle, was walking between Canea and Kalepa, some of the Mussulmans amused themselves by firing as near their heads as it was safe to do. I begged Laura to take the children and go to Syra until the troubles were over, but she refused, saying that the women gathered around the friendly consulates, seeing her yielding to the panic, would lose all courage and fly to the mountains.
We were then at the end of August, 1866. My vice-consul lived in the city and provided for our communications, and when I had to go to the konak I went armed, and with a cavass also armed cap-à-pie, but I received several warnings not to be out after nightfall, as the Turks had decided to kill me, though my known and often ostentatiously displayed skill with the revolver made them timid in any attempt in broad daylight, lest if their first shot failed I might have the second.
Weeks passed. The nervous strain became very great. I found myself continually going unconsciously to my balcony, which commanded a wide range out to sea, telescope in hand, to see if the sail so long implored was in sight, though five minutes before I had seen nothing. Finally there came a loathing at the sight of the masts of a steamer on the horizon, feeling that it would be only a Turkish man-of-war. My children, for months, did not pass the threshold, though Laura insisted on showing her indifference to the danger by walking out; and one night when some mischievous Mussulmans started a cry of "Death to the Christians," in the streets of Kalepa, and the entire Christian population in a few minutes were at our doors, beating to be admitted, the cavasses refusing to open without orders, she had flown to the door in her night-dress and thrown it open to the crowd, who passed the rest of the night sitting on the floor of the consulate. The sentinel at the city gates, whose duty it was to salute as I passed, turned his face the other way, with a muttered "Dog of a Christian," on which I called back Hadji Houssein, who was marching in front of me, and, ordering him to look the soldier well in the face, so that he might remember him, sent him directly to the governor to repeat what had passed, and demand summary punishment for the insult. I was informed that the man had six weeks of prison. I don't believe he had a day, but the insults were stopped, which was what I wanted. Of those weeks of intense, prolonged anxiety the impression remains indelible to this day.
The relief from the tension, grown almost unendurable, came with the arrival at Suda of the Psyche, with Admiral Lord Clarence Paget, direct from Constantinople, to inform us that the Arethusa frigate had been ordered to Crete. If the Psyche had been a reprieve the Arethusa was a pardon. The hilarious blue-jackets flying over the plains of Crete brought all the Mussulman world to its senses, and we took down our barricades; but for the poor Cretans there was no change,—the Turks were so fully persuaded that England was with them that the severities towards the Christians underwent no amelioration, unless it be that the ostentatious brutality ceased, as the chiefs knew that they must keep up appearances. We attended service on Sunday on board the Arethusa and stayed to luncheon, in the midst of which an orderly came down and whispered to Captain MacDonald, on which he turned to me, saying, "If you would like to see something pleasant, Mr. Stillman, you may go on deck." I reached the deck just in time to see the Ticonderoga round the point of the Suda island, entering Suda Bay. Commodore Steedman, her commander, was an old friend, and, hearing at Trieste of the insurrection, came on his own initiative to give me the support my government had not thought worth its while to accord me. He stayed a few days and sailed direct for Constantinople, which so impressed the authorities that I was no longer annoyed. The Arethusa was followed a few days later by the Wizard,—a small gunboat which could lie in Canea harbor,—where, for the next few months, its commander, Murray, was our sole and sufficient protector. In him and his successors I learned to honor the British navy as a force in civilization whose efficiency few not situated as we were can understand. I have ever since been ready to take off my hat to an English sailor.
Meanwhile the dissension between Schahin and Ismael intensified. The Egyptian wanted a show of force with effective conciliation, hoping still to effect his object of bringing the Cretans to him, and he looked to the consular body for support, while Ismael was urging on the collision, hoping to defeat the Egyptian plan. We were constantly doing all in our power to lead the Cretans to conciliation and submission, though the hotheads among them were indignant with us. I found on my table one morning a message written in fair English, saying that if I continued to oppose the Cretans, I should lose my influence; to which I replied by a messenger, who knew the provenance of the message, that I was indifferent to my influence if it did not help to keep peace. The committee insisted on the withdrawal of the Egyptian troops from Vrysis, where they offered constant danger of a collision. This request we urged on Schahin, and he asked permission of the governor, who replied by withdrawing the Turkish division which had supported him.
At this juncture the pressure of Ismael had produced a serious fight at Candanos, where the Mussulmans made a sortie and were defeated. Ismael then called on Schahin for a battalion of his troops to support the garrison of Selinos. Schahin sent for me to advise him. My advice was that, as the matter was an affair between the Cretans of the two religions, it was not advisable for him to identify himself with either party, on which he refused the battalion. But the testiness of the Cretans on the other side developed a collision where none need have occurred. They insisted on the withdrawal of the Egyptians from Vrysis, and Schahin came again to demand the good offices of Dendrinos and myself, promising that if his men were left unmolested he would take no part in the action of the Turkish troops. We sent messengers to the Cretan camp, urging this course, but they were not allowed to pass the Turkish lines; and the committee, not receiving the message, repeated the summons to the Egyptians to leave Vrysis immediately or take the consequences. Schahin refused to withdraw them, and the insurgents, for such they now became, closed on them, cut off all supplies and water, and compelled them to surrender at discretion. They were permitted to march out with their arms and equipments and send the next day for their artillery.
This was the end of all hopes of peace. I do not know what the real influence of Dendrinos had been, for he was a man not to be believed, but we,—the Italian, the Greek, and myself,—had done everything in our power to keep the Cretans within the legal limits. In the face, however, of such provocations as those of Ismael, and vacillation like that of Schahin, our efforts were useless. The state of the country on the occurrence of another defeated sortie of the Mussulmans from Candanos was terrible. Two Christians were murdered in the streets of Canea, and the remainder in the villages round about fled precipitately to the mountains. Many were killed, and Mussulmans coming in from the country reported groups of dead bodies in houses, in chapels where they had taken refuge, and by the roadside. The new Greek consul rode out to Galata, a village three miles from Canea, and counted seven dead bodies naked by the roadside. The public slaughterhouses were midway between Canea and Kalepa, and there were always large flocks of ravens battening on the offal which was thrown out on the ground; but for weeks the ravens abandoned the place entirely, and the flocks were seen only hovering over certain localities on the great plain between Canea and the nearest hills. None of the Christians dared take the risk of a voyage of exploration to see what they were feeding on there.
The Egyptian troops, humiliated at their surrender, attacked the villages around their camp in the plains, killing the peaceable inhabitants; the governor-general lost his head and gave contradictory orders, and the confusion became anarchy. The few remaining Christians in the cities were then forbidden to emigrate, and the Mussulmans in the city met in their quarter and organized a sortie to massacre all the Christians outside; the Wizard in the port protecting those in Canea, otherwise it had gone hardly with them. The Christians in the interior, encouraged by the victories over the Egyptians and Turks, took such arms as they had, and raided down to the plain about Canea, carrying off as prisoners a number of Mussulmans who were gathering the grapes in their vineyards. There was no longer any hope of peace, and though I still refused to offer any encouragement to the Cretans, I was obliged to hold my peace, for I saw that there was no room longer for negotiations. Neither was there any hope for the insurrection, Schahin Pasha was recalled, and the great Egyptian plan utterly collapsed.
At this moment arrived Mustapha Kiritly Pasha, the Imperial Commissioner, appointed because he had once governed Crete and had a great clientèle there, with relatives by marriage. Had he come three months before, he might have saved the situation, for then the blood was cold. He was a man of merciless rigor, but with a strong sense of justice, and was much respected in the island; but now only his rigor was in place, for there was no room for compromise. Ismael was dismissed in disgrace, and ordered off to Constantinople, not even being allowed to pack up his furniture. Mustapha enrolled the Cretan Mussulmans regularly as bashi-bazouks to the number of 5000, gave the Christian population the choice of going into the mountains or submitting and taking the written protections of the government, and made vigorous preparations for a serious campaign. He found the Egyptian army, which had increased by reinforcements to the number of 22,000, utterly demoralized by defeat; but he had 12,000 Turkish regulars, indifferently equipped, but disciplined, and a few hundred Albanians. Organizing from these a force of 10,000 men, he marched to the relief of Candanos, always closely beleaguered by the insurgent force, which had no artillery and could not attack the fortress, but had brought it into great straits for food.
The insurgents retired before the advance of Mustapha, who gathered the garrison and all the Mussulman families and began his return. I had from my balcony followed his course going out by the smoke of burning villages, and after two weeks, during which we had no authentic information of his progress, all messengers having been intercepted by the Christians, I got the first intimation of his return by the same ominous signal in the distance. At Kakopetra, a very difficult pass in the extreme west of the island, he was beset by the bands of the insurrection, and had they been armed adequately there had been an end of Mustapha and his army, who managed to struggle through only after a running fight of several days, with losses amounting, as one of the surgeons in the hospital assured me, to 120 killed and 800 wounded, most apparently with pistol balls, the Cretans having only the old tufeks and smooth-bored pistols of their fathers. At that moment, there was probably not a rifle in the ranks of the insurgents.
There was, of course, now no question of conciliation. Both sides had their blood up, and the successes had been mainly for the insurgents. They held the hills above Canea, whence all their movements were visible, and the next operation of Mustapha was to clear the road to their headquarters at Theriso, a very strong position in the foothills of the Sphakian mountains, from which the insurgents raided the plain. From my balcony I could see all the operations, and that the two battalions sent out, after fighting all day over the first line of defenses, were obliged to retire, having effected nothing. The next day a force of 5000 men went out, before whom the Cretans made a fighting retreat to Theriso, where they held their own during the rest of the day, the Turks returning to the city after nightfall. The next movement was a turning one, taking the position of Theriso on the flank, by Lakus, a strong position, but at which no defenses had been prepared. The insurgents moved their depot and hospital across the valley to Zurba, a village high on the mountain-side and impregnable to direct attack, but which Mustapha proceeded to bombard with mountain guns for two days. I could hear every gun-fire, Zurba being only nine miles in a direct line from my house, and I counted fifteen shots a minute during a part of the time.
Three attempts at assault were repelled, and then Mustapha moved on to Theriso, now abandoned by the Cretans, who had just then received the news of the arrival of the Panhellenion blockade-runner with arms and ammunition, the first open aid they had received from Greece. A considerable body of Hellenic volunteers also came, and the resistance became more solid, and the influence of Athens assumed the direction. Up to this time, and indeed much later, I had persistently urged submission, considering the event as hopeless; but with the encouragement from Athens it was wasted breath. I went to see Mustapha, and pointed out to him that his severity was making the position beyond conciliation, and that every village he burned only added to the number of desperate men who had nothing more to lose by war and nothing to hope in peace. I saw that he was prejudiced as to my sincerity, and perhaps I only influenced him to act against my counsels, though I was ready to do anything in my power to stop what I considered a hopeless struggle.
To add to the confidence of the Cretans, at this juncture arrived the Russian frigate General-Admiral, Captain Boutakoff, who took a most important part in the subsequent development of the affair. I was never able to see that the Russian government did anything at that stage to stimulate the insurrection, though Boutakoff expressed in the most unreserved manner his sympathies. Later I became convinced that Dendrinos did secretly, and more from antagonism to Derché than from any orders from his government, advise against concession, as Parthenios used to come secretly by night to him for consultation. But I am persuaded that at that time the Russian government had not urged the movement, though a secret visit from Jonine on the Russian dispatch boat at an early stage of affairs was evidence that the position was being studied by Russia. With Boutakoff I was for several years in the closest sympathy, and we subsequently acted together, but never did I discover any indication of his taking an active part, or being aware that Dendrinos had taken one, in the early movement. In fact, the anxiety of the latter that I should keep secret, even from Boutakoff, his action in the matter, indicated the contrary. What Russia had done at Athens I had no opportunity to learn, but in Crete I am convinced that she then did little or nothing.
Having scoured the plains and lower hilly district west of Canea, Mustapha now organized an expedition against Sphakia, defended by the Hellenic volunteers and the bands of the Apokorona and Sphakia at Vafé. He obtained a decisive victory with heavy loss of the Egyptian contingent, but his courage failed him before Askyphó, the great natural fortress of Sphakia, and he waited a month at Prosnero in the Apokorona, negotiating to gain time, but offering no concessions. At this juncture arrived the only man who made any military mark in the war, Colonel Coroneos, a Greek veteran, and competent commander of such a force as Crete could furnish. As Zimbrakaki, who commanded the Greek volunteers, had assumed the command of the western section, while the chiefs of the eastern section, around and beyond Ida, had their own organization, Coroneos went to Retimo and established the headquarters of the district at the fortified convent of Arkadi, a building of Venetian construction and of sufficient strength to resist any attack not conducted with heavy artillery. Here he established his depot, and here the families of the Cretans took refuge when menaced by the Turkish bands. Coroneos himself kept the field and harassed the Turks everywhere in the province, and so annoyed Mustapha that after a month's indecision he suddenly marched off to the attack of Arkadi, which Coroneos, after having harassed him on the march as much as was possible, was obliged to leave to its fate, as neither his organization nor his outfit, which included no artillery, permitted him to shut himself up in the little fortress. He had provided as garrison a small body of Greek volunteers and 150 Cretan combatants, including the priests. Besides these there were about 1000 women and children, whom Coroneos had tried to induce to return to their homes, succeeding, however, owing to the opposition of the hegumenos to the departure of his own relatives, with only about 400, the rest being shut in by the sudden investment. To prepare for resistance, the great gate of the convent had been solidly walled up, and when Mustapha opened fire with his mountain artillery on the walls he made no impression on them or on the gate, and, the rifle fire from the convent being terribly hot and effective, he made the investment complete and sent to Retimo for heavy artillery. It came accompanied by nearly the entire garrison of Retimo and the Mussulman population, making his total force about 23,000 men, of whom the most zealous combatants were the Cretan Mussulmans.
By this time I had become the recognized official protector of the Cretans, although I had always done my best to discourage hostilities and persuade the Cretans to leave their wrongs to diplomatic treatment; not that I had great faith in that, but because I could see no hope for a success for the insurrection. Around me had spontaneously formed an efficient service for information, the runners of the various sections coming to me at Kalepa with the earliest information on every event of importance, and I communicated with the legations at Athens and our own minister at Constantinople. The exactness of my news was so well recognized that even the grand vizier sent regularly to our minister for information, remarking that he got nothing reliable from his own officials. Now happened one of those curious cases of mysterious transmission of news which have often been known in the East. Arkadi was at least forty miles, as the roads go, from Kalepa,—a long day's journey as travel goes there; but I received news of the fight soon after it began, and information of the progress of the combat during the day, one of my customary informants coming every few hours with the details. This service I subsequently checked by the information given me by Mustapha's Cretan secretary, who lived in the house next to mine at Kalepa, and by the accounts given by some Italian officers of the Turkish and Egyptian regulars engaged in the siege for the final struggle, and found to be correct. I believe the account which I gave the world by the next post, and which was the only complete one ever given, is as near the true history as history is ever told.
The heavy artillery soon breached the great gate, and an assault was ordered, but being met by a murderous fire from the convent walls, it was repulsed with great slaughter; and the succeeding attempts on the part of the Turkish regulars faring no better, a battalion of Egyptians was put in the front and driven in at the point of the bayonet by the Turkish troops behind them. The convent was a hollow square of solidly built buildings, the inner and outer walls alike being of a masonry which yielded only to artillery, and from the windows and doors of these a hail of bullets at close quarters met the entering crowd of regulars and swarms of bloodthirsty Cretan irregulars, all furious at the resistance and wild with fanaticism. The artillery had to be brought in to break down the divisions between the houses and cells, and the fight was one of extermination until all the buildings were taken except the refectory, the strongest of the buildings. At this juncture one of the priests fired the magazine, with an effect far greater on the outside world than on the combatants, for it did not kill over a hundred Turks. The insurgents in the refectory were then summoned to surrender, and, having exhausted their ammunition, they complied, on the solemn promise of Mustapha that their lives should be spared; but, having handed out their rifles, they were all immediately killed.
One of the Egyptian officers—an Italian colonel—told me many incidents of the fight, of a sufficiently horrible nature, but he said that he saw things which were too horrible to be repeated. Thirty-three men and sixty-one women and children were spared, mostly through personal pleas to Mustapha of ancient friendship. The secretary told me of a fanatic of Canea who had volunteered in the hope of being killed in a war with the infidel, and who had been in all the fights of the insurrection, and, escaping from Arkadi unhurt, went home and hung up his sword, saying that Kismet was against him and he was not permitted to die for the faith. He also told me that all the ravines near Arkadi were filled with the dead, while Retimo was filled with the wounded; and from the report of the hospital surgeon at Canea, I learned that four hundred and eighty were brought to our hospital, being unable to find shelter at Retimo.
Mustapha immediately returned to Canea, but having sworn not to enter the city till he had conquered the island, he camped outside. He called a council to devise some means of subduing the insurrection before the effect of the siege of Arkadi should provoke intervention, for he saw that that had been a mistake. The enthusiasm of the insurgents rose, and for the first time it seemed to me that there was a chance of the Powers taking their proper position as to Crete, and I began to hope that the bloodshed would not have been entirely wasted. But no effect was produced on the Powers by the horrible event, except that Russia made some effort to provoke intervention; England and France, who held the solution in their hands, showing the most stolid indifference, and Russia, as afterwards became clear, only looking at the occasion as creating more trouble for the Sultan. Greek influence took entire control of affairs, and the Cretan committee at Athens began to pour in volunteers, rifles, and ammunition, without any attempt at organization or intelligent direction.
The pasha saw that the situation was critical and demanded his greatest energy, and, with one hand offering bribes to the Sphakiot chiefs, with the other he hurried his military preparations. Leaving his second in command, Mehmet Pasha, at Krapi, the ravine which approached Sphakia from the east, he marched all his remaining forces round to the west, hoping, as he said, to sweep all the rebels and their Greek allies into the mountains and either starve or otherwise compel them to submission. The chiefs of the Greek bands refused to submit to a common plan or authority, and wasted their strength in a series of little combats, Coroneos and Zimbrakaki alone, and only for a very brief period, coöperating for the defense of Omalos, which was the depot and refuge of the families, and where the cold of the approaching autumn and the want of supplies would act as Mustapha's best allies. He moved along the coast to the west, relieving Kissamos,—a seacoast walled town to which a band of Greek volunteers had, in an insane effort, laid siege,—and, sweeping families and combatants together before him, drove them all into the high mountains, where the snow had already begun to fall. In the rapidity of his movements he carried no tents or superfluous baggage, and the poor Egyptians, clad still in the linen of their summer uniforms, perished in hundreds by cold alone, and even the beasts of burden left their bodies in quantities by the way, forage and shelter for man and beast alike failing. The volunteers held the pass of St. Irene, by which alone from the west the approach to Omalos was practicable; but, ill provided for the rigor of the season, they grew negligent, and, after two weeks of waiting, Mustapha made a sudden dash and took them by surprise in a fog, and occupied Selinos, the volunteers and Cretans retreating to the pass of Krustogherako, which lies between Omalos and Selinos.
The story of Arkadi had begun to move public opinion all over Europe, but it had no power on the governments, although the consuls friendly to the Cretans had continually appealed to their governments with the report of the barbarities which accompanied the march of the Turkish army. For myself, under the advice of our minister at Constantinople, I had thrown off all reserve within my consular rights and used all my influence with my colleagues, especially the honest, if too pro-Turkish, Dickson, and at the same time disseminated the truth as to the condition of the island in every possible way. The Turkish authorities naturally retaliated to the best of their power, and patrols of zapties watched my house in front and rear, for the idea had entered the mind of the governor that I was the postman of the insurrection. But I held no direct communication with the insurgents, and no letter ever passed through my hands, while the Greek and Russian consuls, unwatched, kept up a regular postal service. Our minister at Constantinople, who, in the beginning, had been in the closest personal relations with his English colleague, the just and humane Lord Lyons, replaced at this juncture by Sir Henry Elliott, finding that nothing was to be expected from England, joined forces with General Ignatieff, and thenceforward my action was directed by the Russian embassy.
In communicating the news of the affair of Arkadi to our government, I had fully explained my actual position and my proposed action on behalf of the insurgents, and begged that a man-of-war might be sent to convey from the island the refugee families who were dying of cold and hunger in the mountains, or being murdered in the plains. In reply I received the following dispatch (December 25, 1866):—
W.J. STILLMAN, ESQ., U.S. Consul, Canea:—
Sir,—Your dispatch No. 32, with regard to the Cretan insurrection and the attitude you have assumed in the matter, has been received.
Your action and proposed course of conduct, as set forth in said dispatch, are approved. Mr. Morris, our minister resident at Constantinople, will be informed of the particulars set forth in your dispatch, and of the approval of your proceedings. Rear-Admiral Goldsborough has been instructed to send a ship-of-war to your port. I am, sir, your most obedient servant,
Meanwhile the Wizard gunboat had been relieved by the Assurance,—a larger vessel,—the commander of which (Pym) had an American wife, and perhaps had been influenced by her, and certainly shared her sympathy with the Cretans. I showed him Seward's dispatch and fired him with the desire of distinguishing himself by taking the initiative in the work of humanity. I then made the strongest possible appeal to Dickson, who had by this time come through his own informants to recognize the atrocity of Mustapha's plan of campaign, to order Pym to obey his good impulse; and Pym at the same time informed me that he intended to go, with Dickson's order if possible, but in any case to go. Meanwhile he ran down to Candia to watch events there and protect the Christians. Dickson in the end obtained the consent of Mustapha to the deportation of the families, and sent the order to Candia, on which the Assurance went to Selinos and took on board three hundred and fifteen women and children and twenty-five wounded men, menaced by the approach of Mustapha's army, and carried them to Peiraeus. Mustapha Pasha had given his permission for the ship to take the refugees, and Dickson had given the order, so that Pym's action was regularized; but he was, nevertheless, punished by his government, being ordered to the coast of Africa, and shortly after retired. I saw him on his return from the trip, and there was not a man or officer who would not have given a month's pay to repeat the expedition, but it was peremptorily disapproved by the English government.
There were at Suda at the time two Italian corvettes, an Austrian frigate and gunboat; the Russian General Admiral, and a French gunboat; all of which, with the exception of the Frenchman, were anxious to follow the example of Pym. But the prompt disapproval of Pym's expedition by the English government, and the withdrawal of the permission given by Mustapha, prevented any of them from repeating the feat. Ignatieff had, on hearing of Pym's exploit, obtained from the grand vizier the permission that other ships might follow him, and dispatched at once the embassy dispatch boat with orders to Boutakoff to follow. But a violent storm coming on, the boat had taken refuge at Milos, where she lay four days, and by the time she arrived another post was due from Constantinople. Both Boutakoff and Dendrinos hesitated to execute the order, having learned of the disapproval of Pym and the revocation of his permission. Dendrinos was a timid, irresolute man, always afraid of assuming responsibility, and Boutakoff's orders were to go only on the requisition of the consul. I was very much afraid that under the circumstances the order would be revoked, and had in vain urged the two Russian officials to move.
At this moment came another act of the Turkish brutality, which carried me through. A Turkish man-of-war ran in to the shore where Pym had taken his refugees, flying the English flag, and, when the refugees poured out from their rocky shelter, opened its broadsides on them. One of my runners came in with the news of this atrocity, in the morning of the day the post should arrive, and I went at once to Dendrinos and insisted on his sending the order to Boutakoff to go to the relief of the Cretan families at Selinos. The frigate lay at Suda, and I dictated the letter to Boutakoff, saw it consigned to the messenger, and never left Dendrinos alone till time had elapsed sufficient for the delivery of the message on the frigate, being certain that if I left the timid man to himself he would send a counter order. Boutakoff, nothing loath, got up his anchor, and came round to the roadstead of Canea to await the post and the last advices, but I hurried him off without delay, apprehensive of the counter order from Ignatieff. This did in fact arrive by the post, but three hours too late. The General Admiral carried 1200 women and children to the Greek ports, but the repetition was forbidden.
The insurrection flamed up anew, however, and negotiations were broken off, though the deportations were stopped. Mustapha, finding it impossible to force his way into Sphakia from the west, ordered the fleet round, and transported the army entire to Franco Castelli on the southern shore, and bribed the chief of the district to allow him to pass to Askyphó without resistance. In this great plain, which is the stronghold of eastern Sphakia, as Omalos of western, he encamped to negotiate and try a last effort at conciliation. The next day one of the captains of the section bordering on Askyphó came to me for advice as to accepting Mustapha's propositions. I told him I could not advise him to fight or make peace, but I translated Mr. Seward's dispatch, and assured him that when the ship arrived I would send it at once to the relief of the families. On his return, resistance was decided on, and all the men of the vicinity gathered to attack the Turks. The pass of Askyphó could have been easily blocked, and the army compelled to surrender, being scantily provisioned, but some spy in the Cretan councils warned the pasha, and he broke up his camp at midnight and crowned the heights at the head of the ravine, so that his army was able to pass, though with terrible losses.
It was the most disastrous campaign of the whole war, for the troops were slaughtered almost without resistance, killed by rolling down boulders on them. Bewildered in the intricacies of the defiles, without guides or provisions, and in small parties, they were dispatched, for days after. The army which had set out 17,850 strong, Egyptian and Turkish regulars, according to Dickson's official information, beside several thousand irregulars, was reported by Mustapha, after its return and reorganization, as amounting to 6000 men. We saw them as they defiled past Suda coming in, and the commander of one of the Italian ships took the trouble to count some of the battalions, one of which, consisting of 900 men when it set out, returned with only 300. The losses were certainly not less than 10,000 men, not counting the irregulars.
What had become evident, even at Constantinople, was that Mustapha and his influence, as well as the policy of repression by cruelty and devastation, had failed. Barbarities continued, and were met by active resistance on a small scale wherever the Turks attempted to penetrate. Small Turkish detachments were beaten here and there, but no general plan of operation appeared to offer a chance of ultimate success to either party. The Porte, therefore, sent its best diplomatic agent, Server Effendi, with a magniloquent and mendacious proclamation and a summons for the election of a deputation of Cretans of both religions, to meet at Constantinople to receive the promises of the well-intentioned Turkish government for their pacification and contentment. Server Effendi was an intelligent and liberal man, and we became very good friends, and if he had been permitted to treat on the basis of accomplished facts he might have attained something. But he was compelled to assume that the island had been subjected by arms to the will of the Porte, and must accept as concession what they had won a right to from an effective resistance, as yet not even partially subdued. He was not himself deceived, but the Sultan had passed into a condition of insane fury, and could not be induced to listen to any concessions or entertain any proposition but complete surrender. He had, Mr. Morris wrote me, had a model of the island made, which he used to bombard with little cannon, to give vent to his rage. All the powers, with the exception of England, now advised the Porte to concede a principality. The English policy in this case has always seemed to me mistaken, and in questionable faith, for by the protocol of February 20, 1830, the signatory powers bound themselves to secure for Crete a principality like that of Samos. For this defection of England from the general accord of the powers, Greece was, probably, mainly responsible, for at that juncture the influence of Greek demagogues prevailed in the island to make a compromise difficult, and the principality would certainly have been refused; still, England was pledged to the offer of it. I find in the record I made at the time the following passage:—
"The tactics of Greece were of a nature to make the chances of Crete more precarious than they need have been. The policy of Crete for Greece, rather than Crete for her own good, made confusion and jealousy in the conduct of the war much greater than they need have been. What the Cretans wanted was a good leader, arms, and bread. Greece sent them rival chiefs without subordination, a rabble of volunteers, who quarreled with the islanders, and weakened the cause by deserting it as soon as they felt the strain of danger and hardship; and if, after the first campaign, they were more wise in enrolling men to go to Crete, they still allowed the jealousies and hostilities of the leaders to go unchecked by any of those measures which were in their power. But the radical fault of the Hellenes was that they compromised the question by the introduction of the question of annexation, and forced it into the field of international interests, disguising the real causes and justification of the movement, and making it impossible for England consistently with her declared policy to entertain the complaints of the Cretans without also admitting the pretensions of the Hellenes. If the latter had not intruded their interests into the discussion, the former might have been heard; but from the moment in which annexation to Greece became the alternative of the reconquest of Crete, the English government could clearly not interfere against the Porte without upsetting its own work; and, if in some minor respects, especially the question of the principality, it had been more kind to Crete, no one could have found fault with a policy which was in its general tendency obligatory on it."
This opinion, formed and expressed while all my sympathies were with the Greek government, and in complete knowledge of all that it was doing for the Cretans, remains as the mildest criticism I can make on the policy of Athens. At this time, looking over the events of the thirty years which have lapsed since the end of that unhappy affair, I can see more clearly the matter as a whole, and that the miseries of Crete especially, and of the Greeks in the Levant in general, have been mainly due to the want of commonsense in the race, and the incapacity of individuals to subordinate their personal views and interests to the general good. The Italians have a proverb, "Six Greeks, seven captains," which in a pithy way expresses the reason why the Greeks have never been able to succeed in any national movement—the necessary subordination and self-effacement needed for civic or military solidity are, and always have been absolutely out of the character of the people. Courage they had, but discipline they never would submit to, nor will they now.
Server Effendi got his deputies, some by compulsion, some by bribery, and some with good-will, and most of them he succeeded in getting to Constantinople. One escaped and came to my house for asylum, and there he remained six weeks, and then was smuggled on board a Russian corvette, in sailor's costume, and carried to Greece; the rest of the Christians when they got to Constantinople took refuge at the Russian Embassy, declaring that they came against their own free will and that of the Cretans. At this time a change for the better took place at Athens, the incompetent ministry which had neither known how to do nor how not to do giving place to that in which Comoundouros was prime minister and Tricoupi minister of foreign affairs; and, while the paralysis of utter failure rested on the Turkish administration in Crete, the policy in Greece became comparatively energetic and intelligent. Comoundouros was a demagogue, without any scruples as to the means of success, but he was intelligent enough to understand the position and that a positive policy was necessary. He had opposed any encouragement to the insurrection in the beginning, seeing no hope for its success; but public opinion all over Europe and in America had by this time become so pronounced, and committees were beginning so widely to form to aid the Cretans, that there seemed a chance of intervention and a certainty of large assistance in money and moral encouragement. He took the responsibility of openly giving aid to the insurrection, but he still had not the clear understanding of the want of a concentrated direction in Crete. The bands refused to coöperate, and while Coroneos in the central districts carried on a brilliant system of harrying and raiding the Turkish detachments, the chiefs in the eastern and western sections remained inert, getting the principal portion of the supplies (as the blockade runners went mostly to the coasts of those districts) but doing the least of the work. Comoundouros dared not risk offending the many political partisans by imposing on the volunteers whom he sent over a competent and concentrated command. But as a collateral means of pressure the new ministry set to work organizing a movement on the Continent, and it had the courage to face all the probabilities of a war with Turkey.
At this juncture came the famous blockade runner, the Arkadi, a most successful contrabandist of the American war, and at every trip she made she carried away a number of women and children. Meanwhile we waited for the arrival of the American man-of-war which was to put the machinery of relief to the non-combatants in operation. She never came, and in reply to a telegram to Commodore Goldsborough, who was at Nice, I received the information that he knew nothing of any orders for Crete. Intrigues had supervened at Constantinople, chief mover in which was the dragoman of our legation, a Philo-Turkish Levantine, and the persistent assailant in various American journals of Mr. Morris and myself. As the result of these intrigues the order to the admiral was recalled. In March a corvette, the Canandaigua, came for a short stay, but the manner of the officers towards me, and the observations of most of the officers on what they considered a sort of "slave trade," i.e. the carrying of women and children, made me very glad to see her sail again. I made a little use of her, however, by persuading the captain to run down to Retimo with me to inspect the condition of the refugees in that town, and to distribute the money, etc., with which I had been furnished by the committee at Athens for that purpose. I also induced the captain to run over to Peiraeus to reorganize the consulate there, the consul having run away, leaving the office in the hands of his creditors, from whom I rescued the archives, the only property on the place, and not liable to seizure for his debts. I took the same opportunity to exchange views with the Greek ministers, and began a friendship with Tricoupi which lasted as long as he lived. The captain sympathized with me, but he had had his orders, and the officers in general (two of the younger ones took an opportunity to tell me how glad they would have been to aid the Cretan families) were pro-Turkish. But the Turks did not know all the facts, and the visit of the Canandaigua was a moral support to me.
The hostility between Mustapha Pasha and myself had now become so open that all intercourse ceased. For months my children had not gone beyond the threshold, and I myself was openly threatened with assassination; the butchers in the market were forbidden to serve me with meat, and I got supplies only indirectly. Canea was so well beleaguered by land by the insurgents that we had scanty provision of produce at the best, nothing being obtainable from the territory beyond the Turkish outposts. The Austrian steamer brought weekly a few vegetables, but the cattle within the lines were famished and diseased, and there was no good meat and little fish, the fishermen, who were Italians, all going home. I finally sent to Corfu for the little yacht on which I had made quarantine, and, pending her arrival, sent Laura and the children to Syra. When the Kestrel arrived, we spent most of our time on board, running between the ports of Crete and between Crete and the Greek Islands, generally followed by a Turkish gunboat, for Mustapha persisted in regarding me as the go-between in Greco-Cretan affairs, and while the zapties watched my door, the Cretan post went to and fro through the gates of the city unsuspected.
I was no longer of any importance except as a witness of events and was disposed to resign and go to Greece, for the expense of living had become greater than I could bear, with my income of $1000. The Porte threatened to revoke my exequatur, than which nothing could have pleased me more, for the support of my government had become merely nominal, though I had never varied from my instructions. The grand vizier seemed to understand that, and the threat was withdrawn, while pressure was applied at Washington to induce the government to recall me, a minister ad hoc being appointed to the United States. Mr. Seward at first consented, being probably by that time thoroughly tired of the Cretan, question, but, the Russian legation applying pressure on the other side, the consent was revoked and I remained. The Turkish demand included the recall of Morris, but as his operations were carried on through me my removal was the principal object. I had now the satisfaction of seeing the disgrace of Mustapha Kiritly, who was recalled as a failure, and Hussein Avni came out as locum tenens for the Sirdar, Omar Pasha, the Croat. With Hussein Avni I made another attempt to enter into conciliatory relations with the government, and offered my services for any negotiations it might be desirous of entering into, but the conviction of my hostility to the Turkish government was so rooted that I saw clearly that no belief was entertained in my good faith.
Hussein Avni took no steps against the insurgents, but an impatient subordinate commander, with a division, made an attempt to penetrate into Selinos, and, being beaten, ravaged the plains about Kissamos, hitherto unmolested. Whole villages, which had submitted without resistance, were plundered, the women violated by order of the officers, in some cases until death ensued. All who were able to escape hid in the caves along the shore, and made their way in small boats, as opportunity offered, to Cerigotto. I ran over in the Kestrel and saw two boats arrive, so freighted that it was almost inconceivable that they should have made a sea voyage of twenty miles even in calm weather. I saw a man of ninety who had been wrapped in cloths saturated with oil, to which fire was set, and who was left to burn, but whose friends came back in time to save his life, though I saw the fresh scars of the burning over his whole breast. Meanwhile the Arkadi came and went without interference, and the insurrection was practically unmolested.
Omar Pasha arrived on the ninth of April, and, two days after, 2000 insurgents attacked the guard of the aqueduct which supplied Canea with water, and were repelled, the plan of attack having been betrayed by a miller of the vicinity; but the main object of the Cretans had been to show a sign of virility to the new commander-in-chief, and the object was attained with the loss of three killed. Omar landed with great ostentation, having brought a magnificent outfit, cavalry, staff, horse artillery, etc., etc., all in new and brilliant uniforms; but the astute Cretans rejoiced in the change, for the cunning of Mustapha Kiritly was more dangerous to them than Omar Pasha and his European tactics.
I went to pay my respects and renew my offers of good services if conciliation were to be attempted, expecting to see a civilized general, but I found only a conceited and bombastic old man who had not the least idea of what he had undertaken. He pooh-poohed conciliation, and assured me that his plans were so perfect that within two weeks after his setting out for the conquest of the island all would be over and the insurrection at his mercy. I ventured to suggest that he would find the country more difficult than he supposed, and that the total want of roads would be a grave obstacle to such rapid success. He replied that it could not be more difficult than Montenegro, and he had conquered that, etc., and I left him greatly relieved as to the probability of success in his operations.
He employed two weeks in his preparations, and then set out for the conquest of Sphakia, moving in two columns, with a total force of 15,000 men, his own division taking the pass of Kallikrati, giving access to Sphakia from the east, and held by Coroneos, and that of Mehmet Pasha moving against Krapi, the pass on the north held by Zimbrakaki and the Greek bands. Both divisions were driven back to the plains. The savage excesses which followed this double defeat far surpassed anything we had known. Villages which had long been at peace and within the Turkish lines were put to sack, and the last outrages of war inflicted on the unfortunate inhabitants. The cruelties which, under Mustapha, were the occasional deeds of subordinate commanders or the consequence of partial defeats, became, under Omar, the rule by order to all the detachments, and Omar himself took his share of the booty and the pick of the captive girls for his own harem.
As I had the testimony of European officers in the Turkish service given me freely, in disgust at the proceedings of the sirdar, I did not depend on insurgent reports of these things. While the Egyptian troops remained I had constant and detailed information from their European officers. A German officer, by the name of Geissler,—Omar's chief of artillery,—died of dysentery at Canea during the campaign, and, his effects being sent in to the consulate of France for transmission to his family, I had the chance to see his diary, in which were noted the incidents of the campaign. One entry which I copied was this: "O. Pasha ordered the division to ravage and rape," the village being one where the inhabitants had never taken part in the insurrection. "All villages were burned," wrote Geissler, and all prisoners murdered or worse. The chiefs of four villages, who came in voluntarily to make their submission, were beheaded on the spot, and the population soon abandoned all villages in the route of the army, which, not being able to make any impression on the insurgent force, avenged itself on the inoffensive Christians whenever any fell into their hands. Nothing more savage and needlessly cruel has taken place in the history of the Ottoman empire than the deeds of the Sirdar Croat.
Two changes in the position now took place in favor of the Cretan non-combatants. The influence of Russia at Alexandria induced the viceroy to withdraw his troops in spite of the opposition of Omar, and after the disastrous end of that campaign the remainder were embarked for Egypt, 10,000 surviving out of the 24,000 who had landed under Schahin Pasha. The other change was the removal of Derché, whose uselessness even to his own government had finally become evident. His successor—Tricou, a quick-witted Parisian, of a character entirely opposed to the Turcophile Derché—asked permission to follow the army in the next movement, which was intended to be for the subjugation of the central provinces, and Omar bluntly refused. As Tricou had orders from his own government to accompany the army, this impolitic refusal threw him at once into the opposition with us.
Omar marched by Retimo towards Candia, watched by Coroneos, and, when the army reached the valley of Margaritas, it was surrounded and furiously attacked by Coroneos and all the bands of the immediately surrounding country, and completely bottled up. One of the European officers with Omar assured me that they had given up all hope of rescue. The fire of the Cretans penetrated to their tents, and that of Omar was several times pierced. Omar had, before setting out, sent orders to Reschid Effendi, who commanded at Candia, to come and meet him, and Reschid, a more competent commander, with a strong body of irregulars, fighting day and night, succeeded in effecting a junction and opening the way. In this affair, again, the jealousy of the Greeks lost a most brilliant opportunity for a victory which would have undoubtedly finished the war. Petropoulaki, a Mainote palikari of the great insurrection of 1827-30, sent over from Greece to direct affairs about Ida, was called on by Coroneos to reinforce the resistance to the passage of Rescind, but refused to move or even send Coroneos a much-needed supply of ammunition, so that the latter was obliged to retire. On this march there was a repetition of the incident of the great insurrection, in the stifling of all the families who had taken refuge in one of the caves which abound in Crete, by making a huge fire in the entrance. My informant was an Italian colonel under Omar, who was an eye-witness of the event.
Omar next announced a comprehensive movement which was to sweep the insurgents from east to west, and surround them in Sphakia, when he would finish with them. He began by an attack on the position of Lasithe, where were gathered about 5000 insurgents,—sufficient if they had had one commander; having many, they were, after temporary successes, scattered and dispersed east and west, Omar following those who went westward. I ran down to Candia, in the Kestrel, to get the earliest news. Harried, and with several partial defeats, the army was finally concentrated at Dibaki, on the south coast; but, instead of sweeping the country as Omar had proposed doing, it was embarked on the fleet and transported to the eastern foothills of Sphakia, and debarked at Franco Castelli, the scene of the debarkation of Mustapha in his Askyphó campaign. With much hard fighting, but greatly aided by the want of coöperation amongst the insurgents and their allies, one division penetrated to Askyphó, but was unable to get further, and, being cut off from all communication with its base of supplies, was obliged to retreat to Vrysis, Omar always remaining on his ironclad, while Reschid, who was by far the most competent soldier in the Turkish army in Crete, was obliged to retreat towards Candia, followed by Coroneos, and, reaching that place mortally wounded in a parting fight with the Greek chief near Melambos, died at Candia a few weeks later. While at Candia I received most of my information from the son of Reschid Pasha.
Omar, having ravaged and murdered along the southern coast, was obliged to take ship and sail round with the entire army to the point from which he had started. He landed at Canea, having lost, mostly by disease, from 20,000 to 25,000 men in a three months' campaign, and effected nothing except the destruction of six hundred villages and the murder of hundreds of Cretans. The reports of Tricou had made it necessary for the French government to recognize the real condition of affairs, for he had set his agents in the island to collecting the authentic cases of Turkish barbarity, a ghastly roll. His irritation against the sirdar, on account of the discourteous manner of refusal of the permission to accompany the army, was intensified by an insulting remark which Omar made to Captain Murray, concerning Tricou, and which Murray repeated to me and I to Tricou; and the war was thereafter to the knife. Tricou crushed the Croat in the end, and the Russian and French governments came to an accord for the transportation of the non-combatants to Greece. In consequence, four French ships, three Russian, two Italian, and, not to be left alone, three Austrian and one Prussian, rapidly carried to Greece all who wished to escape from the island. It was unnecessary, as there was no longer any danger from the Turkish army; but it was, I suppose, in pursuance of some political scheme which had brought France and Russia together. The Turkish army was nowhere in force or spirit to penetrate into the interior, and the demoralization was such that soldiers deserted from battalions ordered for Crete. The military hospitals in Crete were full, and the troops so mutinous that operations had become impracticable beyond holding and keeping up communication with the blockhouses and posts within easy reach.
Omar Pasha having failed to make any impression, A'ali Pasha, the grand vizier, came out in October, 1867, to try conciliation. He offered all that the Cretans could desire, short of annexation to Greece,—an assembly of their own, freedom from taxation for a term of years, a prince of their own election without reserve, and the half of the customs receipts. I waited on him, as I had on the former envoys of the Sultan, as a matter of etiquette, and was surprised by the just and reasonable tone and substance of his propositions. They seemed even better for the Cretans than annexation to Greece, and I so represented them to Mr. Morris. But I received from him the orders of General Ignatieff to urge the Cretans to reject them, as the certain alternative was their independence and annexation to Greece. I obeyed my orders without concealing my own sentiments in favor of the acceptance of the offers of the grand vizier.
A'ali made on me an impression of honesty and justice such as I had never seen in any Turkish official. He dissembled none of his difficulties, and discussed the questions arising out of the position without reserve. For the first time since the affair began I felt my sympathies drawn to the Turkish aspect of the political question involved. I had long seen that Crete could not be governed from Athens without a course of such preparation as the Ionian Islands had had; they would never submit to prefects from continental Greece; they felt themselves, as they really are, a superior race, superior in intelligence and in courage; but the men from Athens had persuaded them that the only alternative to submission to the Sultan was annexation, and, meanwhile, the ships of Europe were carrying their families to Greece, where they were to remain practically as hostages for the fulfillment of the Greek plans. The Russian influence was now strengthened by the service rendered in the deportation of the women and children, and the Greek influence by the maintenance of them in Greece.
The offers of A'ali Pasha were rejected without being weighed. A'ali used no arts; he offered bribes to no one; he showed what the Sultan was ready to offer and guarantee, and listened patiently to all that the consuls or the friends of the Cretans said, but it was too late. Meanwhile fighting had ceased, for the Turks dared not go into the interior, and the Christians, having neither artillery nor organization, could not attack the fortified posts or the walled cities. The fighting men in the mountains were provided with food from Greece, and had lost the habits of industry which would have made peace profitable. Dissensions arose amongst the chiefs, and the best of them went back to Greece to urge the carrying of the war into the continental provinces of Turkey. The conclusion of the war by the proffered autonomy of Crete was utterly ignored by all who had any influence in bringing about a solution.
The Russian government now concluded to take the direction of matters. Its minister at Athens required Comoundouros to fall in with a plan for a general movement in all the Balkan provinces under Russian direction, Russia beginning to fear a pan-Hellenic rising. To this Comoundouros gave a peremptory refusal; it was a Greek movement and should remain under Greek direction. The king of Greece had married a Russian princess, and during his stay at St. Petersburg had given himself up to the influence of the court. He was a weak, incapable young man, and the absolutist atmosphere suited his temperament perfectly, and the independence of Comoundouros did not. Under the requisition of the Russian minister, the king dismissed the ministry of Comoundouros. The Chamber refused its confidence to the new ministry, and the Russian minister then made the formal proposal to Comoundouros that if he would accept the programme of St. Petersburg he should come back to power. This proposal was also rejected, and the Chamber was dissolved, and in the new elections, by the most outrageous exercise of all the expedients that could be applied, Comoundouros and all his principal adherents were excluded, and a subservient Chamber elected, under the shadow of a ministry of affairs composed of men of no party and no capacity. The popular feeling ran so high that an insurrection was imminent, and was averted only by the formal promises of the ministry to carry on the war in Crete with renewed energy; but, at the same time, the means were withdrawn from the Cretan committee, who were the most capable and honest, as well as patriotic, people to be found in Athens. Never had the condition of affairs been so favorable for the realization of a thorough Greek policy. The Greeks on the Continent were ready and all the Turkish empire was in a ferment. Joseph Karam, prince of the Lebanon, was waiting at Athens on the plans of the Greek government to give the word for a rising in his country. The election having given the ministry the majority it desired, it gave place to Bulgaris, the Russian partisan, and colleagues nominated by the Russian minister for the distinct purpose of suppressing the Cretan insurrection.
Omar Pasha went home in disgrace in November, and left in charge Hussein Avni, who had a plan of paralyzing the insurrection by building lines of blockhouses across the island and isolating the bands. With much pain and expense a number of blockhouses were built and roads made in the western provinces; but, with the exception of another fruitless attack on Zurba, nothing really serious was attempted on either side in the island. The Turkish hospitals were full of fever and dysentery patients, and the insurgents harried all the country round about with perfect impunity. Most of the houses around us at Kalepa were occupied as hospitals, and the very air seemed infected by the number of sick; there were 3000 in and around Canea.
In this condition the year 1867 went out and the third year of the insurrection began. The Greek government sent supplies enough to keep the men under arms from starving, and the Turkish could send no more troops, so that there were only, after garrisoning the fortresses, about 5000 troops available for any operations. One of the European officers told me that the total force remaining out of eighty-two battalions, of which most had come to Crete full, was 17,000 men effective. A party of the consuls and officers of the men-of-war in the port made a picnic at Meskla in August, and witnessed a fight between the Cretans and Zurba and the Turks at Lakus, in the course of watching which I had a shot fired at me from the Turkish trenches, which came so near that the lead of the bullet striking a rock at my side spattered me from head to foot, and as we returned to Canea we were surrounded by the insurgents at Theriso, having lost our road in the dark, and most of the party taken prisoners. I and my veteran cavass, Hadji Houssein, broke through with a guest,—Colonel Borthwick, an English officer in the Turkish service,—escaping down a breakneck hillside in the dark to save him and his two orderlies from capture by the insurgents, a trifling thing for us who were known as the friends of the Cretans, but a serious matter possibly for Turkish soldiers in fez and uniform. We made a reckless race down the mountain, leaving our horses and my photographic apparatus under the care of Dickson, and just succeeded in reaching the Turkish outpost in advance of a party of Cretans who followed the road down to cut us off. The post which we reached was under the command of a major, and Borthwick, who outranked him, ordered out a relieving party to go up the road and rescue the consuls, but the frightened major went up the road, out of sight, and waited there till we were gone, and then came back. He complained to Borthwick on receiving the order, "But you know that is dangerous,"—a fair expression of the feeling of the army as to their service at that time. They were too demoralized to make any impression on the insurgents.
Laura had recently been confined with our Bella, her third child, and our physician—a kindly and excellent Pole, attached to one of the hospitals—ordered us all out of the island as soon as she was able to travel, for, to use his expression, "he would not guarantee the life of one of us if we remained in the island two weeks longer." We had been living for over two years a life of the deprivations and discomfort of a state of siege. At one time I had been confined to the house for three months by a scorbutic malady which prevented my walking, my children had been suffering from ophthalmia brought by the Egyptians, and Laura was in a state of extreme mental depression from her sympathy with the Cretans, while the absolute apathy prevailing in the island made me useless to either side. It was most gratifying to me that A'ali Pasha recognized my good faith and comprehension of the position, for not only did he, before he left the island, give me distinctly to understand that he considered me a friend, but told the Turkish minister in Athens, Photiades Pasha, that the government of Constantinople had been greatly deceived regarding me, and that if they had taken my advice in the beginning they would have avoided their difficulties. I left for Athens in September of 1868, convinced, as were the intelligent chiefs of the Cretans, that the Greek government intended to abandon the insurrection. I left the consulate in the hands of a new vice-consul—an Englishman long resident in the island,—my Greek vice-consul having died during the insurrection, and I had decided not to return at the end of my leave of absence; but I did not resign, as I knew that both the Turkish and my own government wanted me to do so.
The agitation in America on behalf of the Cretans had been pushed too energetically and under bad management, and had been followed by indifference, and the government would willingly have recalled me, but had no pretext for doing so, as I had always obeyed my orders. Nothing was done, however, to make it more possible for me to remain in the island. I had, in the second year of the war, determined to resign on account of the pecuniary difficulties of my position. We were living in a besieged town, with all necessaries of life at famine prices, and, since my brother's death, I had no fund to draw on for my excessive expenses. The Cretan committee in Boston, considering my resignation probably fatal to the insurrection, had promised that they would be responsible for any expenses above my salary, and on that understanding a friend in New York—Mr. Le Grand Lockwood, a wealthy banker—had offered to advance me any necessary sums. In accordance with this offer I had drawn on him for what I needed, the amount reaching, at the end of my residence in Crete, nearly three thousand dollars. Arrived at Athens I took a tiny house under Lycabettus, which was simply furnished for us by the local and principal Cretan committee.
I found the committee convinced that the government of Bulgaris had decided to stifle the insurrection in pursuance of the Russian plan, and it had sent in its resignation, which the ministry had not accepted. The minister of foreign affairs came to me at once to beg me to persuade them to withdraw the resignation, assuring me that the ministry had no intention of abandoning the Cretans, but was even ready to increase the subsidy, and was preparing an expedition on a larger scale than any previous one to revive it, and that it would, to insure its efficiency, take direct charge of the organization of it. On these assurances, I prevailed on the committee to withdraw its resignation, which probably averted an insurrection in Athens. The provisional government in Crete meanwhile appealed to Coroneos to come back and take the general direction of the insurrection, and he consented on condition of being furnished the means required, which he estimated at £10,000. The ministry rejected the offer, alleging want of means, and immediately proceeded to organize an expedition which cost more than double the amount. This was put under the direction of the old Petropoulaki, a partisan of Bulgaris, and the chief who had refused to help Coroneos in the attack on Omar Pasha at Margaritas.
The volunteers were so openly enrolled and mustered, and all other preparations made with so little disguise, that I was convinced that the ministry intended by (what had hitherto been avoided) undisguised violation of international law to provoke the Turkish government to take action. The bands paraded the streets of Athens under the Cretan flag, passing under the windows of the Turkish legation; the government gave them two guns from the arsenal, and they were openly embarked in two steamers, and landed in Crete without molestation by any of the Turkish men-of-war. They sent the guns back, and, when attacked after debarkation, separated into two divisions, neither of which offered any resistance, the smaller being attacked and cut to pieces at once, the larger taking refuge in Askyphó, where, without waiting for an attack, they made immediate overtures of surrender, and did at last surrender unconditionally the island as well as their own force, without any communication with or authority from the recognized Cretan provisional government, but carrying with them the insurgents of the western provinces. There remained about five thousand insurgents in the eastern part of the island in good condition for resistance.
In compliance with what was evidently a preconcerted plan between the Turkish and Greek governments, the Englishman Hobart Pasha, the admiral in command of the blockading fleet, who had not offered to interfere with the expedition of Petropoulaki, the place of debarkation of which was publicly known, waylaid in Greek waters the Ennosis, the blockade runner of the committee, which had replaced the Arkadi, captured by the Turkish ironclads, and chased her into the port of Syra, which he then proceeded to close by anchoring across the entrance to the harbor. On the news of this reaching Athens, the Cretan committee sent to Syra a blockade runner, lying as a reserve at Peiraeus, with orders to torpedo the admiral, torpedoes having been prepared for other contingencies at the arsenal of Syra, and I accompanied the bearers of the order. A spy in the committee gave immediate information to the Turkish minister, and, as our steamer went out of Peiraeus, we saw the smoke arise from the chimneys of a French corvette, lying off the arsenal, and two or three hours after we had entered, the corvette arrived and sent off a boat to Hobart Pasha, who immediately weighed anchor, and went to sea. The Greek government took no action and made no protest against this violation of international law, first by attacking the Ennosis in Greek waters, and then by blocking the entrance to the port. Its conduct left no question as to its complicity with the action of Admiral Hobart.
My first leave of absence from Crete had been for two months, afterward extended indefinitely on account of the health of the family, the extension being accompanied with the intimation that my salary would be suspended after a date indicated, unless I returned to Crete. The Cretan committee of Boston, to whom I had, according to our agreement, sent my claim for the excess of expenses over my income,—the excess amounting after the realization of all my private resources, sale of my curiosities, etc., to about $1500, for which I was indebted to Mr. Lockwood,—replied that the funds of the committee were exhausted, and there was nothing to meet my claim. As I had given my leisure in Crete to the practice of photography and was provided with everything necessary to correct architectural work, I set about photographing the ruins of Athens, which I found had never been treated intelligently by the local photographers, and from the sale of the photographs I realized what sufficed, with a sum of 1200 francs accorded us by the Athens Cretan committee from the remainder of the funds in hand when the insurrection collapsed, to meet immediate contingencies. I was in hope that the new cabinet, in which I had a warm personal friend in Judge Hoar, General Grant's attorney-general, would assign me another post, knowing that the Turkish government was so bitterly opposed to my remaining in Crete; but the new Secretary of State, Hamilton Fish, was a friend of General King, my discomfited superior at Rome, and he had persistently urged my dismissal as demanded by the Sultan, though, owing to Hoar's opposition in the cabinet this had not been accorded. But I was never forgiven by the friends of King, and one day, when Judge Hoar was absent from a cabinet meeting, Fish succeeded in getting my successor at Crete appointed, and though the judge made an indignant remonstrance at the next meeting, it was too late to help us, for Fish obstinately opposed my having any other appointment, and, as he controlled all nominations to consular posts, it was impossible for the judge to effect anything.
My troubles came to a crisis in the sudden death of my wife. The anxiety and mental distress of our Cretan life, and her passionate sympathy with the suffering Cretans, even more than our privations and personal danger, had long been producing their effect on her mind, and the weaning of the baby precipitated the change into a profound melancholy, which became insanity accompanied by religious delusions from which she sought refuge in a voluntary death. She was given a public funeral, and the government sent a caisson to carry the coffin to the grave, but the Cretans claimed the right to take charge of it, and the coffin was carried to the cemetery on the shoulders of the oldest chiefs. The Cretan women looked on her as their best friend, and always spoke of her after her death as "the Blessed "—their form of canonization, for even in Athens they had been her chief care. The quiet but indomitable courage with which she faced danger in Crete, lest they should be involved in the panic which prevailed all around us, was as remarkable as the humility with which she repelled all acknowledgment of any merit on her part. She indulged in no sentiment, had no poetic prepossession concerning the people she protected and worked for, but the dominant sense of duty carried her through all difficulties. She never gave a thought to personal danger, and though a fragile creature, not five feet high, she was capable of cowing the most brutal of the barbarians who were gathered around us at Khalepa, and, whether to keep the consulate for me while I was away, or to navigate the yacht to meet me on my return from my visits to Greece, nothing made her hesitate to do what she thought her duty. In the three years of almost breaking strain of our residence in the midst of the anarchy of the insurrection, she had only the few days' relief from anxiety of her stay in Syra, while waiting the arrival of the Kestrel, but in all that time I never saw her make the least display of trepidation or anxiety, until the dispatch came from Secretary Washburn to tell us that the salary would be stopped.
I was asked then, as the reader may ask now, why I did not take her away when I found that she was failing. I had not the means to pay my passage to any other country. I was myself nearly prostrated mentally and physically, and unfit for anything but my photography. I was in debt so deeply that I could not honestly borrow, and my brother was dead. The American government pays no traveling expenses for its consuls, and I had not an article that I could sell for a dollar, for the furniture of the little house we lived in had been provided by the Cretan committee. The Greek government was hostile to me until Laura's death stirred the public feeling so profoundly, but even then the king was bitterly opposed to me. I was physically and financially a wreck on a foreign strand, with neither hope nor the prospect of relief. I struggled along as best I could, Mrs. Dickson taking charge of my children, and I made my home with the Dicksons.
In June I had to go back to Crete to make consignment of the consulate to my successor. I found the island materially as I had left it, but almost deserted and quite desolate, and the local administration in the hands of the spies and the traitors of the insurrection; all the brave men in exile and the gloom of death over everything; villages still unrebuilt, and the only sign of activity the building in the most accessible districts of military roads and blockhouses. As my successor delayed, I, to pass the time, went to Omalos to carry out the ancient plan which could no longer be postponed if it was to be carried out, for I never intended to see Crete again. The new governor-general—Mehmet Ali, the Prussian (in subsequent years murdered in Albania)—was an amiable, just, and intelligent man, who would have saved the position if he had been there in the beginning, but now there was nothing to be done. When he learned that I intended to go to Omalos he decided, with a more friendly impulse than any governor of Crete had ever shown towards me, to join me there and make the visit pleasant for me. He preceded me, in fact, and I found the posts all warned to show me the customary honors, and when I reached the plain I found his tent ready to entertain me. The most sumptuous dinner his resources afforded was served in his audience tent; we had a grand acrobatic and dramatic entertainment of the soldiers and a torchlight retraite, and he gave me rugs to cover me, without which I must have suffered severely, for, though in June, it was bitterly cold at Omalos, and I had brought only one rug to sleep on. We returned together next day after I had visited the great ravine of Agios Rumeli, the most magnificent gorge I have ever seen, never taken from the Cretans by an enemy until this betrayal; and, as we went back, we discussed the condition of the island. I told him freely what I thought of the situation, and he so far agreed with me that he begged me to go to Constantinople and lay my ideas before A'ali Pasha, promising to support them.
On my return to Athens I raised money enough to get a return ticket to the Turkish capital, and had an immediate audience of the grand vizier, to whom I stated frankly, and without in the least disguising the faults committed by his government, the condition of the island as I saw it, and the remedies necessary for the restoration of its prosperity. He asked me to give him a written memorandum of my views, which I did, and he then asked me to stay in Constantinople until he could send a commission to Crete and get a report from it. I replied that I had not the means to stay so long, the time he indicated being several weeks, and he offered to pay my expenses liberally if I would stay. I went to the office of the "Levant Herald" to ask for work. They knew me well enough there, for I had been their correspondent from Crete, and the journal had once been fined £100 for one of my letters, and once confiscated for another. On what I earned I lived for the time I had to wait for the report of the commission.
When the report came I was summoned to the grand vizier to receive my reply. A'ali Pasha said that he had found that my statements of the condition of things in the island were correct, and he approved the remedies I proposed; would I go out to Crete with full powers to carry out the measures I recommended, the chief of which was an amnesty for such of the exiles as, knowing them personally, I could trust to carry out my dispositions? He could not give me an official position under the Turkish government, having been reputed so long as an enemy; but a semi-official position for the definite purpose of the pacification he was prepared to offer me with an adequate salary and appointments, and carte blanche for the pardon of whomever I saw fit to name. On one condition, I replied, I would accept the appointment, this being that the persons I pardoned and recalled to the island should also be guaranteed from arrest and molestation on civil process for acts committed in the course of the military operations, such as the taking of cattle or sheep for the subsistence of the bands, but not comprehending criminal acts. On this condition we came to a final difference, as A'ali said that by the Turkish law the government became pecuniarily responsible for all such damages by condoning the acts of the offenders, and that they were not prepared to agree to. But it was impossible for me to enter into an agreement to invite a chief to the island with his pardon, under my full powers, and then see him thrown into prison by civil process for acts which the war had made necessary, as had already happened in several cases, as it impugned my good faith and made the pardon null and void, as much as if the offense charged were the rebellion. A'ali's confidence and the prospect of doing good to my Cretan friends touched me profoundly, and in my destitute condition the salary of a Turkish official was a heavy inducement, but I had to insist on the condition which divided us, and I withdrew.
A'ali asked me to come to the treasury and receive the compensation for my time spent in waiting on his inquiries, but the messenger carrying the money missed or evaded the appointment, or I mistook it; for, after waiting some time, I had to go back empty-handed, and after waiting two or three days longer to hear of the money, with an unjustifiable suspicion of A'ali's good faith, I took boat again for Athens, more destitute than I had come. I had the additional pain of telling the chiefs, on whose behalf I had pleaded, that there was no hope of an amnesty. I shall never forget the despair in the face of old Costa Veloudaki, the chief of the Rhizo district, when I told him of my failure. Tall and straight under his seventy odd years, sickened with a terrible nostalgia away from his mountain home, he listened mute and turned away without a word, bowed with grief and too much moved to risk speaking lest tears should shame him. I had known the old man from the beginning of the troubles, for he was the chief of the mountain country above Canea, and had been the spokesman of the committee when they came to see the consuls,—a noble, honest, and truly patriotic man, and a hero of all the movements since 1827. In one of the first battles, fought in view of my house, his son had been killed, and, taking his hand as he lay on the ground they had successfully defended, he thanked God his son had been worthy to die for Crete. It was, for me, the hard ending of a tragedy in which I had had my part, serious enough to identify myself with my island friends, and I can remember this episode of my life with the consciousness that those who suffered more than I did acknowledged that I had been a true friend and a prudent counselor from the beginning.
On my return to Athens I found Russie limping from the effects of a heavy fall he had had during my absence, and to which no attention had been paid, though it gave him continual pain. I called in the leading Greek physician, who, on examination, pronounced it rheumatism, and prescribed exercise and walks. I took the child on all the excursions I made, to Marathon and other of the local points of interest, for he was a great reader, and interested in Greek history and archeology already, passing most of his time with me in my work on the Acropolis. He limped painfully over all the sites we visited, and presently we accepted an invitation to Aegina, to the home of the Tricoupis, the parents of the well-known premier of later years. We spent some days there, fishing and exploring and photographing the ruins, but Mrs. Tricoupi recognized in Russie's lameness the beginning of hip disease, and, returning to Athens, I had a council on him, when it was placed beyond doubt that that deadly disease was established, aided largely by the false diagnosis that substituted severe exercise for the absolute quiet which the malady required. He was at once put in plaster bandages and we were ordered home. Home! But how? I had not money enough to pay a single passage even to England, and had no friends from whom I could ask the means to get home. In despair I went to the Turkish minister—Photiades Pasha—and told him of the promise of A'ali Pasha to pay me for my time and expenses while waiting at Constantinople, asking him to remind the pasha that I had not been paid, as he probably supposed, possibly through the dishonesty of the messenger. A'ali made inquiry, and, finding it to be the case, sent me, through Photiades, a hundred Turkish pounds, with which I was enabled to pay all local debts and reach London, more grateful to the Turkish sense of justice than to that of my own government.
It only wanted for the diversity of my career that I should have served a term as a demi-official of the Turkish government I had served to undermine. For A'ali Pasha I retain the respect due to the most remarkable ability, honesty, and patriotism combined I have ever known in a man in his position, a most difficult one, surrounded by corruption, venality, and treason as probably the ruler of no other state has been in our day. He was free from prejudice, fanaticism, and political passion, and had he been seconded by his colleagues and administrators, as he should have been, I am convinced that he might have restored the prosperity of his country. But, so far as I know, he stood alone in the government. He was a just and impartial minister where ministers are notoriously unjust, corrupt, and partisan, and, of my past failures, I regret none so much as that I was unable to coöperate with him in restoring peace to Crete.
At Paris I had the advice of a specialist in hip disease for Russie, and the plaster bandage was replaced by a wire envelope, which fitted the entire body and which made his transfer from vehicle to vehicle without any strain a matter of comparative ease. But the poor child suffered the inevitable acute pains of active hip disease before anchylosis takes place, and he wasted visibly from the incessant pain. He had been, when stricken in his seventh year, a boy of precocious strength and activity, a model of health and personal beauty, whom passersby in the streets stopped to look at, so that from the common people one often heard an exclamation of admiration, as from our English fellow passengers between Calais and Dover, who gathered round him as he lay in his wire cradle with murmurs of admiration, for the pallor which had begun to set in only made his beauty more refined and his color a more transparent rose and white. In London we were warmly received by the Greeks who had been prominent in supporting the insurrection in Crete, and a testimonial was proposed for me of a piece of plate, for which £225 were subscribed, which as testimonial I declined to accept, but did accept on account of the debt which the Cretan committee of Boston owed me. Here I met with great kindness, especially from the Greek consul-general, Mr. Spartali, and I then made the acquaintance of his daughter, who, two years later, became my wife. The Rossettis, especially Christina, who had known Laura and Russie when the latter was a boy of two, were most thoughtful and kind, and I had some wheels put to Russie's cage, so that his passion for seeing, which the incessant pain he was in never abated, could be indulged to a certain extent. Miss Rossetti went with us to the Zoological Gardens to satisfy his passion for natural history, and so far as kindness could compensate for his helplessness he lacked nothing. We sailed for New York and were met at landing by my brother Charles, who told me of the death of our mother, two weeks before. Her last wish had been for my coming, and to be able to embrace our little Lisa, her namesake. I had not seen her for seven years.
I had made preparations while in London, for the publication of a volume of photographs of the Acropolis of Athens, and, when I had left the children with their mother's parents, I returned to London for a few weeks, to superintend the production of it. The American medical man called in to treat Russie proved as great a quack as the Greek, and his case grew worse. Finally he was sent to the hospital, from which he was, after a long treatment, sent back as incurable, and I was told that probably all I could do for him henceforward was to make death as easy as it might be.
The Acropolis book, published privately, cleared for me about $1000. Moreover, difficulties had arisen over the will of my brother, with which none of the parties interested were contented, and so, by a compromise, the family received a part, of which, after the deduction of my drafts from Rome, accepted before his death, there came to me $500. Hence I was, after my straits, at comparative ease for the moment. One of the most generous friends my vagabond past had given me, the late J.M. Forbes of Boston, gave me a commission for a landscape, and I returned to my painting, living in a tent in the Glen of the White Mountains near to the subject chosen. Here I received a visit from Agassiz, and here we had our last meeting and conversation on nature and art. But the long abstention from painting had left me half paralyzed—the hand had always been too far behind the theory. I now began to question if I had any vocation that way, and, with the passing of the summer, I went back to literature and found a place on the old "Scribner's Monthly," now "The Century," under Dr. Holland, the most friendly of chiefs, and there I had as colleague Mr. Gilder, the present editor of the magazine. The greatest mistake, from the business point of view, I have ever made was in leaving the collaboration with Dr. Holland.
Of a life so desultory, fragmentary rather, it is useless to keep the chronology. At no period of it have I been able to direct it with primary reference to pecuniary considerations, nor have I ever succeeded in anything I undertook with primary reference to pecuniary return. My impulses, erratic or otherwise, have always been too strong for a coherent and well subordinated career, and the aimlessness of my early life, favored by the indulgence of my brother and the fondness of my mother, might well account for a life without a practical aim or gain. It is too near its end for regrets or reparation—so that if it ends well it will be well, but it is hardly fitted for systematic record.
During the two years between my leaving Crete and Athens and my second marriage I spent the larger part of my life in London, engaged in literary pursuits and in fugitive work. I prepared the history of the Cretan insurrection, but the dissolution of the publishing company which undertook it left the actual publication to Henry Holt & Co. in 1874. All interest in the subject having long lapsed, it was hardly noticed, and was as a publication a complete failure, but I sent copies of it to some English friends who were interested in Greek affairs, and amongst others to Professor Max Müller, who made an extended review of it for the "Times," which had on my subsequent career an important influence. During the time I spent in England I naturally saw a great deal of the Rossettis, especially of Dante, with whom I became intimate. He lived in Cheyne Walk, and I in Percy Street near by, so that there were few days of which a part was not spent with him. I had made in America, about 1856 or 1857, the acquaintance of Mme. Bodichon, an Englishwoman married to a French physician, who is equally well known by her maiden name, Barbara Leigh-Smith, a landscape painter of remarkable force, and one of the most delightful and remarkable Englishwomen I have ever been privileged to know. When I knew her in America, she had taken an interest in my painting, which she regarded as promising a successful career, and when I came to England, I renewed the acquaintance. As the spring came on, she offered me for a few weeks her house at Robertsbridge, a charming cottage in the midst of woodland, and with her consent I asked Rossetti to share it with me.
Rossetti was then in the beginning of the morbid attacks which some time later destroyed his health completely. He was sleepless, excitable, and possessed by the monomania of persecution. His family had tried to induce him to go away for a change, but the morbid condition made him unwilling to do so, and he never left his house until late in the evening, under the prepossession of being watched by enemies. I recommended him to try chloral, then a nearly new remedy which I had used by prescription with excellent effect for my own sleeplessness, and which I always carried with me. I gave him twenty grains dissolved in water to be taken at three doses, but, as he forgot it on the first two nights, he took the whole on the third, and complained to me the next day that it made him sleep stupidly for a few hours, and then made him so wakeful that he was worse than without it, so that he refused to make any further experiment with it, nor did he at that time, and as long as we remained in touch with each other, venture another trial of it. At a subsequent time, taking it on the prescription of a physician, he fell into the habit of using it to his great injury, from the want of self-control in the employment of it. At the time I am writing of, I succeeded in getting him away from London to stay for a long visit at Robertsbridge, where the quiet and long daily walks in the woodland, a simple life and freedom from all causes of excitement, rapidly brought him back to his natural condition, and he resumed work, doing some of his best drawings there, and completing his poems for publication. Indeed, several of the poems in his first volume were written there. Sleep returned, and health, with cessation of all the morbid symptoms, the result of overwork and night work, for he used at Cheyne Walk to begin painting in the afternoon, and, lighting a huge gasalier on a standard near his easel, keep at his drawing far into the night, sleeping late the next day. At Robertsbridge he returned to natural habits, having no gas and falling in with my hours perforce, as otherwise he had no company.
And Rossetti was one of the men most dependent on companionship I have ever known. When not at work he needed some one to talk with, and in our long walks he unfolded his life to me as he probably never did to any other man, for he had a frank egotism which made him see everything and everybody purely in their relation to him. And in these circumstances he and I were, after a manner, the only people in our world. As he himself said, "In this Sussex desert one tells all his secrets," and I doubt if even in his own family he ever threw off reserve so completely as with me in the solitude of Robertsbridge, where he was very happy and very well.
Rossetti's was one of the most fascinating characters I ever knew, open and expansive, and, when well, he had a vein of most delightful talk of the things which interested him, mostly those which pertained to art and poetry, the circle of his friends and his and their poetry and painting. To him, art was the dominant interest of existence, not only of his own, but of existence per se, and he tolerated nothing that sacrificed it to material or purely intellectual subjects. I remember his indignation at the death of Mrs. Wells, the wife of the Royal Academician, herself a talented painter, who died in childbed, "a great artist sacrificed to bringing more kids into the world, as if there were not other women just fit for that!" he exclaimed; and when Regnault was killed in the sortie from Paris, he burst out in an angry protest at this throwing away valuable lives like Regnault's in a stupid war. The artist was to him the ultima ratio of humanity, and he used to say frankly that artists had nothing to do with morality, and practically, but in a gentle and benevolent way, he made that the guiding principle of his conduct. Whatever was to his hand was made for his use, and when we went into the house at Robertsbridge he at once took the place of master of the house, as if he had invited me, rather than the converse, going through the rooms to select, and saying, "I will take this," of those which suited him best, and "You may have that" of those he had no fancy for.
He was the spoiled child of his genius and of the large world of his admirers; there was no vanity about him, and no exaggeration of his own abilities, but other people, even artists whom he appreciated, were of merely relative importance to him. He declined to put himself in comparison with any of his contemporaries, though he admitted his deficiencies as compared to the great Venetians, and repeatedly said that if he had been taught to paint in a great school he would have been a better painter, which was, no doubt, the truth; for, as he admitted, he had not yet learned the true method of painting. He refused to exhibit in the annual exhibitions, whether of the Academy or other, not because he feared the comparison with other modern painters, but because he was indifferent to it, though I have heard him say that he would be glad to exhibit his pictures with those of the old masters, as they would teach him something about his own. Like every other really great artist, he had a very just appreciation of the work of other men, and his criticisms were, me judice, very sound and broad from the point of view of art; the only painter of any note I ever heard him speak of with strong dislike was Brett, whom he could not tolerate. But he had a higher opinion of his own natural abilities than of his actual achievement,—his self-appreciation was not the conceit of a man who understood only what he himself did, but a full consciousness of what at his best he would be capable of doing and hoped to do before he died. In my opinion he understood himself and his merits justly, but he was to himself the centre of his own system; other stars might be as great, and probably there were many such, but they were remote, and judged in perspective.
He was undoubtedly the most gifted of his generation of artists, not only in England, where art is, if not exotic, at least sporadic, but in Europe, and I consider that if he had been of Titian's time he would have been one of the greatest of the Venetians. His imaginative force and intensity were extraordinary, and some of the elaborate compositions he drew in pen and ink, for future painting, are as remarkable in invention and dramatic feeling as anything I know in art, and all drawn without a model. The "Hector," the "Hamlet and Ophelia," the "Magdalene at the door of Simon the Pharisee," are designs of unsurpassed power, eminent in all the great qualities of design, harmony of line, invention, and dramatic intensity. His early work had all the purity and intensity of feeling of the primitive Italians, and the designs alluded to are of a little later period and of his highest imaginative activity. Had he always maintained the elevation of that period he would have done more and better work, but he fell into irregularities of life which wasted his powers and destroyed the precious exaltation of his early art. The sensuous quality of his painting, the harmony of color and the play of it, like the same qualities in his poetry, remained as long as I knew anything of his life, but his drawing and even his intellectual powers fell off through his unsystematic, excessive demands on them, night work and overwork. In his later years his work was nearly always more or less jaded, his eye failing in the perception of forms, as has so often been the case in even the greatest painters in their decay.
No doubt chloral was ultimately one of the agencies of his prostration, though not of his death, but he did not have recourse to it until his power of recuperation from overwork had begun to fail; and, when he had become accustomed to the effect of the chloral, he took it as the means of a form of intoxication, a form well understood by those who have had any experience, personal or by observation, in the use of the drug. The craving for this intoxicant, once it becomes a habit, is, like the use of morphia, invincible, and Rossetti indulged in it to such an extent that he used to take the original prescription to several druggists to obtain a quantity that one would not have given him. The crisis came long after my close personal relations with him had ceased, and I had become only an occasional correspondent, living in Italy. But to make his decline the consequence of the use of chloral, even when it was finally become habitual, as some do, is absurd. It had been prescribed for him by a competent physician, because some remedy for his malady had become necessary. Even before I had recommended his first experiment with it he had been incapacitated from work by sleeplessness, and was in a very precarious condition of nerves and brain, and, though he recovered at Robertsbridge a comparative health, so that he was enabled to do some of his best work, his return to London, and gradually to his old habits of life and work, ultimately reproduced the old symptoms.
During the earlier days of the return of the malady I was in London again and saw a great deal of him, was witness to his having become subject to illusions, and heard his declarations that he was beset by enemies and that he continually heard them in an adjoining room conspiring to attack him, and he attributed the savage criticism of Buchanan on his volume of poems to his being in the conspiracy to ruin him. The attack of Buchanan had a most disastrous effect on his mind. It was the first time that Rossetti had experienced the brutalities of criticism, and his sensitiveness was excessive. No reassurance had any effect; he had heard, he declared, the voices of those who had combined to ruin his reputation discussing the measures they were going to take, and it was evident that it had become a mania closely resembling insanity. Buchanan's criticism had a rancor and breath of personality in it which had no excuse; it was a savage, wanton attack on the poet which he felt not only as poet and artist but as personal; for, to Rossetti, the two were the silver and golden sides of the shield. Though the morbid state was there, I think that the article of Buchanan had more to do with the intensification of the mania of persecution than anything else that occurred. And at that time he had not yet contracted the habit of taking chloral.
In the diary of Ford Madox Brown, published by William Rossetti, there is an amusing story of Dante's keeping Brown's overcoat, and keeping the room needed for other occupants, with the unconscious oblivion of any other convenience than his own, which was quite characteristic of the man, and which was shown on a larger scale at Robertsbridge. He not only took possession of whatever part of the house pleased him best, but, without in the least consulting me, he invited his friends to come and occupy it. As the agreement was that we should pay share and share alike of the expense, and as I invited no one, the burden on me was out of all proportion to our respective means. Rossetti's income, according to his own statement, was, at that time, £3000 a year, but he was always in debt. He denied himself nothing that struck his fancy, and he had the most costly Oriental porcelain in London, and the most beautiful old furniture to be found, and the most princely disregard of expenditure. I had finally to refuse to continue the life in common. Dante invited Mr. and Mrs. Ford Madox Brown, and then Mr. and Mrs. Morris, and as they were all excellent friends of mine I could make no objection, though ill able to bear my share of the expense of the ménage incurred, and finally I broke away, leaving him in possession, with Madame Bodichon's consent. He was generous to the same degree of extravagance that he was indifferent to the claims of others; he made no more account of giving you a treasured curio than he did of taking it. His was a sublime and childlike egotism which simply ignored obligations until, by chance, they were made legal, at which, when it happened, he protested like a spoiled child. And he had been so spoiled by all his friends and exercised such a fascination on all around him, that no one rebelled at being treated in his princely way, for it was only with his friends that he used it. He dominated all who had the least sympathy with him or his genius.
Had Rossetti's knowledge of the technique of painting, its science, been equal to his feeling for it, he had certainly founded a school of the truest art; but, for schools, the grammar is the first requisite, and Rossetti had himself never been taught what he would have had to teach. His feeling for color was on a par with his power of composition, and it seems to me that since Tintoret no one has equaled him in the combination. Of modern men, I know only Baron Leys and Delacroix who possessed to the same degree the power of spontaneous, harmonious composition, except Turner in landscape; all other modern art has, to my mind, more or less of the pose plastique, the air of the tableau vivant. His death, at a time when he should have been at the height of his powers, a premature victim of his undisciplined temperament and the irregularities it led him into, coupled with the over-intense mental vivacity, equally undisciplined, is one of the most melancholy incidents in the chaotic artistic movement of our time.
Ford Madox Brown, who was his first master, and is commonly considered to have exercised a great influence on Rossetti, in my opinion had none that was permanent. He was Rossetti's antithesis, and in himself as inconsequent as Rossetti was logical. He was severely and uncompromisingly rationalistic; with the conscience of a Puritan he was an absolute skeptic, with a profound contempt for all religious matters, while Rossetti, with all his irregularities, never could escape from his religious feeling, which was the part of his constitution he possessed in common with his sisters. Brown had, of the purely artistic qualities, only the academic; he was neither a colorist nor a great draughtsman; his art was literary, didactic, and, except for occasional dramatic passages, unemotional and unpoetic. The predominance of the intellectual powers in him was so great that the purely artistic view of nature was impossible to him; and his artistic education, while curiously erratic and short-sighted in its elementary and technical stage, was intellectually large in academic and literary qualities, and comprehensive. It appears to me that the telling of the story was, in his estimation, the highest office of art, so that, while his drawing was bad in style, his execution scrappy and amateurish and deficient in breadth and subordination, his compositions were often masterly, fine in conception, and harmonious in line, in the pen-and-ink study; but the want of ensemble and the insubordination of the insistent detail generally made his work less imposing when it was on canvas than in the first study. His habit of finishing from corner to corner, without having the whole work broadly laid out before him to guide him in the proper subordination of the details to the general effect, made it impossible for him to make his pictures broad and effective. His most successful pictures were, therefore, the small ones, in which the impossibility of too much insistence on detail proved an advantage.
I shall always regard Brown as a man carried by a youthful enthusiasm for art out of his true occupation, which was history; for his literary and scientific tendencies and his vehement love of truth were the larger part of his mind, and these qualities are of secondary importance in art. He sympathized strongly with the early phase of the pre-Raphaelite movement, which was what he had attempted with less intensity himself; but when Rossetti entered upon his true artistic development, it was only the personal influence of the past that gave the elder painter any power of influencing the younger. It is possible that Rossetti owed something of his manner of painting—a fragmentary method of completion—to the teaching of Brown; if so, he was indebted to his friend for the weakest side of his art. But, for the rest, this system of working is very general amongst English painters, in whom the amateur is persistent—the building the picture up in detail, with minor reference to the mass of the structure; and this was the weakness of Brown's art, for what he did was done with such intensity that no after treatment could bring it into complete subordination to the general effect. Theodore Rousseau's maxim, "If you have not got your picture in the first five lines you will never get it," seems to me the true golden rule of the art of painting, as in all creation. A picture should grow pari passu in all its parts; otherwise there is no certainty of its keeping together when finished.
Rossetti's influence, though always partial and never leaving a genuine pupil, was very wide, in the end, it seems to me, much exceeding that of Millais and that of Holman Hunt; but it is a question in which of his two functions—poet or painter—it was most effective. I have heard Swinburne say that but for Rossetti's early poetry he would never have written verses, but this I think must be taken conditionally. Swinburne has the poetic temperament so decided and so individual, and his musical quality is so exalted, that it was impossible that he should not have shown it at some time; but it is possible that Rossetti furnished the spark that actually kindled the fire. Perhaps Swinburne himself cannot trace the vein to its hidden sources, and confounded the mastery of Rossetti's temperament and the personal magnetism he exercised on those who came into close relations with him with an intellectual stimulus which, strictly speaking, Rossetti did not exercise. He was too specialized, too exclusively artistic in all his developments, to carry much intellectual weight, and Swinburne was more fully developed in the purely intellectual man; but the warmest friendship existed between them. I often saw Swinburne at Cheyne Walk, and, when they were together, the painter's was certainly the dominant personality, to which Swinburne's attitude was that of an affectionate younger brother.
One day Rossetti had invited us all to dinner, and when we went down to the drawing-room there was great exhilaration, Swinburne leading the fun. Morris was, as usual, very serious, and, in discussing some subject of conversation, Swinburne began to chaff and tease him, and finally gave him a vigorous thrust in the stomach, which sent him backwards into a high wardrobe, on the outer corners of which stood Rossetti's two favorite blue and white hawthorn jars, a pair unrivaled in London, for which he had paid several hundred pounds each. The wardrobe yielded and down came the jars. I caught one, and Morris, I believe, the other, as it was falling on his head. Rossetti was naturally angry, and, for the first and only time in my experience of him, lost control of his temper, bursting out on the culprit with a torrent of abuse which cooled the hilarity of the poet instantly, and reduced him to decorum with the promptness of a wet bath. To hear Swinburne read his own poetry was a treat, and this I enjoyed several times at Rossetti's; the terrible sonnets on Napoleon III. after Sedan, amongst the readings, being the most memorable and effective.
The influence of Rossetti on Morris and Burne-Jones is unquestionable, and they probably both owed their embarking in an artistic career to the stimulus given by the advent of a purely artistic nature which set a new light in their firmament. The little we have of Morris's painting shows only that he had the gift, but his own appreciation of his work was too modest to encourage him to face the strain of going through the necessary education, made more difficult by his want of early training, even of the imperfect and incorrect kind against which Rossetti had so successfully had to make his way to a correct conception of his art. On the whole, I consider Morris to have been the largest all-round man of the group, not merely on account of the diversity of his faculties, for he had in his composition a measure, greater or less, of most of the gifts which go to make up the intellectual man and artist, but because he had, in addition to those, a largeness and nobility of nature, a magnanimity and generosity, which rarely enter into the character of the artist; and perhaps the reason why his gifts were not more highly developed was that his estimation of them was so modest. His facility in versification led him to diffuseness in his poems, and the modest estimation in which he held his work, when done, was a discouragement to the limae labor so necessary to perfection. He told me that he had written eight hundred lines of one of his tales in one night, but at the same time he regretted that he could not invent a plot, though the exquisite manner in which he carried out the old plots which have been the common property of poets since poetry existed in the form of tales is honor enough.
But in the feeling for pure decoration, which is the essential element in art, in the universality of his application of it, and the high excellence to which he brought it in each branch to which he devoted himself, I doubt if Morris has had a rival in our day; and I am inclined to think that in the default of an early education in art, such as the great Italian painters received, we lost one of the greatest artists who have ever lived. For with the high degree in which he possessed taste, technical abilities never fully developed in work, and exquisite feeling for color and invention in design, he had the large human mould which would have made his work majestic beyond that of any of his great contemporaries and co-workers. He remained, owing to the late discovery of himself and the poor opinion of his abilities, only a large sketch of what his completed self would have been. He had that full, sensuous vitality which Madox Brown so completely lacked to his great injury, without the excess of it which was so treacherous with Rossetti. Mr. Mackail's recent life of Morris does great injustice to Rossetti without in any way exalting his friend, for Rossetti always urged Morris to follow his artistic tendencies with the largest and most liberal encouragement and appreciation, and all the stimulus derivable from a most exalted opinion of his native abilities. Rossetti would have set everybody to painting, I think, for, in his opinion, it was the only occupation worth living for, and he was absolutely free from personal jealousy.
Of Burne-Jones I saw little in those days. He was still working out his artistic problem, and came now and then to the studio of Rossetti, who had the highest opinion of his abilities. And, taking art in its special function, that of the decorator, there can hardly be a dispute as to his rank amongst the greatest of romantic designers of the centuries following that of Giotto. His fertility of invention was very great; and, considering that his studies began at a period which for most artists would have been too late for the acquisition of technical excellence of a high degree, his attainment in that direction was most remarkable. Entirely original, if that quality could be predicated of any artist, he certainly was not, and he borrowed of his predecessors to an immense extent, not slavishly but adaptingly, and what he borrowed he proved a good right to, for he used it with a high intelligence and to admirable effect. It seems to me that though he added little or nothing to the resources of art, as Rossetti undoubtedly did, he employed the precedents of past art, and especially of the Italian renaissance, to better effect than any other artist of our epoch; and, in borrowing as he did, he only followed the example of most of the great old masters, who used material of any kind found in their predecessors' works, in perfectly good conscience. His industry was prodigious, and his devotion to art supreme.
Miss Spartali and I were married in the Spring of 1871, and in justice to her I came to the hazardous decision to make my home in England, and there to devote myself to general literature and correspondence with America. As my financial condition at that moment, thanks to the various contributions to it, was better than it had ever been before, I had the courage needed to face the great change in my life. I brought with me from Lowell a letter to Leslie Stephen, whose friendship has ever since been one of the pleasantest things in my English life. Mrs. Stephen, the elder daughter of Thackeray, was to us an angel of goodness, and never since has the grateful recognition of her loving hospitality in thought and deed diminished in my mind. Our debt to her was a debt of the heart, and those are never paid. Her sister, later Mrs. Ritchie, added much to the obligations of our early life in London, and still remains our friend. Mr. Stephen gave me an introduction to the "Pall Mall Gazette," then under the charge of Greenwood, and I contributed in incidental ways to its columns; and with contributions to "Scribner's" and other magazines it seemed that we might forgather, and we decided to bring the children out.
An article on the Cretan insurrection, printed while I was still in the island, had led the way to an acquaintance with Froude, in whose magazine it appeared, and I had been put on the staff of the "Daily News," which had printed a contribution on the Greek question as a leading article; so that, on the whole, the venture did not seem too rash for a man who never looked far ahead for good fortune. My friendship with Froude lasted as long as he lived. He was a warm and sincere friend, always ready with word or deed to help one who needed it, and one of the men for whom I retain the warmest feeling of all I knew at this epoch of my life. In New York I had made an arrangement with Dr. Holland to hold the literary agency for "The Century" (then "Scribner's") for England, and on returning to London we took a small furnished house at Notting Hill Way, where our daughter Effie was born. In the following spring we moved out to Clapham Common, to be near the parents of my wife, and in the comparative quiet of that then delightful neighborhood we gave our experiment full scope. The life as a literary life was ideal, but as a practical thing it failed. Here I had the pleasure of extending hospitality to Emerson on his way to Egypt, and Lowell on the way to Madrid. To make the acquaintance of Lowell we had Professor and Mrs. Max Müller to meet him at dinner, and Tom Taylor was of the company, he living as a near neighbor.
But Russie's condition was a shadow over my life, growing deeper every day. Though he had been discharged from Boston as incurable, we put him under the care of one of the best of English surgeons, and one of the kindest-hearted men I have ever known, the late Mr. John Marshall, one of the warm and constant friends I had made through my relations with Rossetti, of whom Marshall was a strong admirer. Though his charges were modified to fit our estate, they aggregated, with all his moderation, to a sum which I could ill support; but to save, or even prolong Russie's life, I would have made any sacrifice. He was then not far from nine, and, though crippled by his disease, with his once beautiful face haggard with pain and no longer recognizable by those who had known him in his infancy, he was to me still the same,—a dear and loving child, the companion of my fortunes at their worst; and his devotion to me was the chief thing of his life. I had carried him in my arms at every change of vehicle in all the journeys from Athens to Boston and from Boston to London again, and to him I was all the world; to me he was like a nursling to its mother, the first thought of every day, an ever-present care, and his long struggle with death was an inseparable sadness in my existence. I remarked to Lowell one day that I feared he would die, and Lowell replied, "I should be afraid he would not die." The seeming cruelty of the expression struck me like a sentence of death, and momentarily chilled my feeling towards Lowell; but the incident made me understand some things in life as I could not have otherwise understood them, enabling me to take a larger view of our individual sorrows. There is no doubt that to Russie's sufferings and death I owe a large part of my experience of the spiritual life, and especially a comprehension of the secret of the mother's heart, so rarely understood by one of the other sex.
But my unfailing facility for getting into hot water was not to find an exception in London. As agent for "Scribner's" I had to secure contributions from English authors, not so easy then as now. Amongst other items I was instructed to secure a story from a certain author, and I contracted with her for the proof sheets of her next novel, about to be published in England in the—Magazine, the price to be paid for the advance proofs being £500, if I remember rightly. There was then no international copyright with America, but a courtesy right between publishers, with a general understanding amongst the trade that the works of an author once published by a house should be considered as belonging by prescription to it. On the announcement by "Scribner's" of the coming publication of this author's novel, the firm who had published her prior works announced that they would not respect the agreement with the author, but would pirate the story. As the result of the quarrel, "Scribner's" resigned the story to its rival on payment to the lady of the sum agreed on. But now appeared an utterly unsuspected state of things: the—Magazine had already sold the proof sheets of the story to a third American house, and an exposé of the situation showed that English publishers had been in the practice of selling the advance proofs of their most popular works of fiction to the American houses, and recouping the half of the price paid the authors.
On the heels of this discovery by the public, there happened one of the periodical outbreaks of English journalism against the "American" system of literary piracy, and simultaneously the visit of a committee of the American publishers deputed by the government of the United States to study out an arrangement for a treaty of international copyright on the basis of equality of right and privileges in both countries of the authors of both countries, but with no recognition of publishers' rights or privileges. The English government, taking advice from a committee of authors and publishers, in which the interest of the publishers was dominant, declined the offer of the American form of treaty, insisting on the protection of publishers' rights, and the negotiations fell through, with great increase of the outcry in the English press. Being in communication with Mr. William H. Appleton, the head of the American committee, and in possession of the facts of the case as regarded the courtesy right, I wrote to the English papers, putting the American view of the matter, and the facts, dwelling on the hitherto unknown point that the depredations on the authors' interests were committed by the English publisher, who sold to the American the wares the latter was accused of stealing, whereas the fact was that he bought and paid equally for the right of publication, while the English publisher continued to reprint American books without the least regard for analogous transatlantic rights.
The consequences to me were variously disastrous. In the first place I was deluged with applications from authors of still unestablished transatlantic reputation to secure for them offers from "Scribner's" for the advance sheets of their books. In the second I was treated to a torrent of abuse as "the friend of piracy" ("Daily News" leading article), and for some days not a single London paper would print a word of reply or explanation from me. The "Echo" was the first to do me the justice of printing a defense, and it was followed by the "Times," which printed my letter and one from Mr. Appleton; but of the authors who, having a transatlantic reputation, had profited by the "courtesy right," only Mr. Trollope came forward to sustain me with the statement that he had received more from the Harpers—his American publishers—than from his English publishers. The author whose novel had been the occasion of the original trouble, grateful for what I had done in her case, declared that the English authors ought to make me a testimonial (or perhaps it was a monument she suggested), but from no other source did I receive a word of thanks. And the third consequence was that the "Pall Mall Gazette" dropped me "like a hot potato." As my monthly cheques had reached the sum of ten pounds, and were slowly increasing, the inroad on my income arising from my crusade against publishing abuses was a serious item in my outlook.
As misfortunes never come alone, this was followed by my supersession, as literary agent of "Scribner's," by Mr. Gosse, who had been making a visit to New York. It was in curious coincidence with these disasters that I addressed (with a letter of introduction from Madame Bodichon, who always was the kindest of friends to me) a distinguished lady member of the staff of an evening paper, with a request to help me to get work on it, and was told distinctly that she did not favor the entry of foreigners on the staff, as English writers had too much competition amongst themselves, and "the crumbs from the table" should be reserved for them, so that while I had opened the door for English writers in my native land, to the disadvantage of myself and my compatriots, I was to be excluded from the English market as a foreigner. My old friend the editor of the "Daily News," had, during my absence in America, been appointed to the "Gazette," and the new Pharaoh "knew not Joseph." And so we decided to throw up the sponge and go back to America, though even there the new influx of English competitors (for which I was in part responsible) had made our chance less brilliant. My father-in-law offered us, if we withdrew from our decision, to settle £400 a year on my wife. With this aid we felt that we might carry through; and to her the change from English life, surrounded by old friends and an artistic atmosphere, to the strange and comparatively cruder surroundings of America, was to be avoided at any possible price, and I had no right to hesitate.
The great Exhibition of Vienna, in 1873, found the New York "Tribune" unprovided in time for its correspondence, and the European manager, my friend G.W. Smalley, proposed to me to go out for the paper. There were three months still to the opening, but the preparation of the groundwork of a continuous correspondence, on an occasion to which the American public attached much importance, was a matter of gravity, and the time was not too long. The editor had neglected the matter, owing to considerations which deluded him, and I was just in time to forestall the worst effects of a scandal which made its noise in its day. The chief commissioner, General Van Buren, had had associated with him, through influences which need not be cited, several under-commissioners who were Jews, formerly of Vienna, and of course obnoxious to the society, official and polite, of the Austrian capital, and who were exercising a most unfortunate influence on the prospects of the American exhibitors. In addition to this, they had entered into a system of trading in concessions for their personal advantage, the competition being very keen, especially in the department of American drinks, and their dealings with the competitors had excited great indignation in certain quarters. One of the disappointed applicants, whose concession had been unjustly annulled in favor of a higher bidder, came to me for advice. I at once instituted a rigorous though secret inquiry, and collected a body of evidence of corrupt practices, which I laid before the American minister, Mr. Jay, with a demand that it should be communicated to the government. Mr. Jay at first declined to take cognizance of the matter, and accused me of doing what I did with political partisan bias, Van Buren being a prominent politician. I assured him that I did not even know to which party Van Buren belonged; but, what probably moved him more was my assurance that the affair was not going to be whitewashed, that if it was not corrected quietly I was determined to make a public exposure, and that whoever tried to whitewash it would need a whitewashing himself, whereupon he decided to take, under oath, the evidence I had laid before him and send it to Washington, which he did.
The result was a cable dismissal of the entire commission and the nomination in their places of several American gentlemen who had come to Vienna to witness the opening of the Exhibition, amongst whom were two of my warmest personal friends. They immediately offered me the official position of secretary to the commission, which I declined. Having enlisted on the "Tribune," and considering myself held "for the war," I could not desert, though the inducement was very strong, for I should not only have been better paid than by the "Tribune," but should have been practically director of the Exhibition, so far as the American department was concerned. The exposure of the old commission which I sent the "Tribune" was printed reluctantly, for Van Buren was a personal friend of the editor-in-chief; but as I had taken the pains to make the substance of it common property so far as the other correspondents were concerned, it could not be suppressed.
For the opening ceremony there was great rivalry amongst the leading papers of New York, and the "Herald" made very expensive arrangements to cable a full account; and, beside its European manager, John Russell Young, and its telegraphic manager, Mr. Sauer, it had Edmund Yates and a well-known European lady novelist to make up the report. The "Tribune" sent to my assistance an old friend, Bayard Taylor, and one of the staff from New York, E.V. Smalley. The "Herald" was prepared for practically unlimited expenditure on the occasion; the "Tribune" simply ordered me to telegraph 6000 words to Smalley at London, leaving the question of cabling open. Young thought me a rival to be held in poor account, and was careless. All the "Herald" staff took their places in the Exhibition building for the ceremony of opening by the Emperor, which was no doubt spectacular; but, as the doors were to be closed until the ceremony was over, and the Emperor rose to make the tour of the Exhibition, no one could get at the telegraph till all was complete. I stayed outside and sacrificed the spectacle. I had found who was to be the telegraph inspector for the day, and I went to him with an offer to hire a wire for the day. This was impossible, he said, as there was to be but one wire for all the foreign press. I put my case to him as that of a beginner in the service, to whom a success was of great importance for the future, and asked to be allowed to declare 6000 words to follow continuously; but this too, he said, was against the regulations. But I secured his sympathy, and he finally promised me that if I got first on the wire, and my message came without interruption, one section being laid before the operator before the other was finished, they should go on without interruption, as one message; but, if one minute lapsed and another message came in the interval, I must take my turn with the others.
As Taylor was an old hand, and wrote a most legible script, and style currente calamo, I told him to write what he could as the ceremony went on, and, the moment the doors were opened, to consign what he had written to a messenger whom I had hired for the day,—an American clerk of one of the exhibitors under some little obligation to me, a sharp Yankee, for whose use I had hired a cab, with the fastest horse I could find, to run back and forth between the Exhibition and the telegraph. Taylor was then to finish his account of the opening ceremonies and bring it or send it by the messenger to me at the telegraph office, the messenger waiting or returning for the first installment of Smalley's account of the imperial inspection, which he was to follow closely. After this he was to continue to write the incidents of the opening; and when the whole approximated to the 6000 words needed, he was to come himself to the telegraph. I, meanwhile, went into the streets and devoted myself to picking up incidents of the procession, the deportment of the population, and the weather; and when I supposed that the opening of the doors was about to take place I went to the telegraph office and deposited 1200 words. Long before these could be sent, Taylor's first installment came, and then Taylor himself with the second. Young, seeing my staff always present, and thinking me asleep, took his time.
When Taylor's second part had been deposited and paid for, I saw coming down the street in a furiously driven carriage Mr. Sauer, with the first part of his message. I slipped out at a back door and was not seen, and Sauer returned for the continuation of his telegram. When Smalley's first dispatch had been put on, I saw Sauer coming again with his second. Then I sat tight and saw that the message had been written in columns of words on large paper, so that the counting should be rapid. It made a huge packet, and he deposited it with evident satisfaction and turned to go out, when he saw Archibald Forbes, who was writing his telegram to the "Daily News" at the table in the office, and turned to speak to him. When leaving him he caught sight of me in the corner, and started as if he had been hit by a bullet, then made as if he had not seen me and was going out, but reconsidered and came to speak to me. "Well, what have you done?" he said. I replied that I had put about 5000 words on, and was only waiting for the odds and ends from Smalley. He flushed with surprise and vexation, and began to curse the telegraph officials "who never kept their engagements," and went off in a towering rage. My 6000 words went on before a single word of the message to the "Herald" could go.
Mr. Young had ordered for that evening a magnificent dinner for his staff, to which mine was invited to celebrate his unquestioned feat. While waiting for the dinner to come on, he took me apart and asked confidentially what we had really done. I told him, and he asked if we cabled, to which I replied that as to that I knew nothing, that I had wired G.W. Smalley in London, but what he had done I could not say. "Well," said he, "if you have cabled you have beaten us, and if you have not cabled you may have beaten us," and then he went on to say that if I would drop the "Tribune" and come over to the "Herald" he would give me a good post and good pay. "No," I replied, "I have taken service with the 'Tribune' for the campaign, and I cannot desert them." (My recompense was a curt dismissal from the "Tribune" as soon as the urgent work of the reporting of the opening was done.) Mr. Whitelaw Reid's nerve had failed him when it came to the question of the expense of cabling, and the 6000 words had gone by steamer from Queenstown. I had given the "Tribune" the best beat it had ever had except the Sedan report, if the editor had had the courage to profit by it. The "Herald" received 150 words of its report in time for the press the next morning, and had to make up its page of dispatches from matter sent by post in advance and by expansion of the 150 words received. Edmund Yates, in his autobiography, tells a story of the affair which is in every important detail untrue, and he probably knew nothing of it except what Young had admitted, and that was certainly very little, for Young was a very reticent man, and not likely to tell his defeat even to his staff.
Bennett was too fickle and whimsical an employer to suit me, and I had no disposition to expose myself to his whims. With Young I was always on the best terms, and he was disposed to employ me when a momentary service was required, but I had had one experience with his chief, which was sufficient. He had offered me the London agency of the "Herald" at a time when any constant occupation would have been acceptable, and we had come to terms, when suddenly he was taken with the notion that Edmund Yates, in addition to the service to the paper, would be of use to him in social ways, and he dropped me and appointed Yates, to drop him a little later, paying him a year's salary to break the contract.
One bit of work I did for the "Herald" which I remember with much pleasure. It was the reporting of Beaconsfield's Aylesbury speech, not a stenographic report, for that they had from the English press, but a letter on the occasion as a demonstration. I went to Aylesbury, and, as Beaconsfield was to speak twice,—once at the farmers' ordinary and then at the assembly rooms,—I dined at the ordinary; and as all the places in the assembly rooms had been taken before the dinner was over, I had to employ some assurance to hear the principal speech. As soon as the company rose from the table, I pushed through to where Beaconsfield was standing, and, presenting my card as correspondent of the New York "Herald," asked him to be kind enough to put me in the way of hearing him, explaining why I had lost my chance through remaining to hear him at the dinner. He turned to one of the young men who were with him, remarking that my card would take me anywhere, and said, "See that Mr. Stillman has a place near me," and to me, "Keep close to me," which I did, and took a seat on the edge of the platform, at his feet; and I certainly never heard a more effective speech. The lordly, triumphant manner with which he bantered Gladstone for his dealings in the Straits of Malacca, the demonstrative confidence with which he took victory for granted, and the magnetism of his personal bearing, made an impression on me quite unique in my experience of men. Gracious is the only word which I can apply to his manner to those around him, and it had a fascination over them which I could perfectly understand, and I could easily comprehend that he should have a surrounding of devotees. The serene, absolute self-confidence he evidently felt was of a nature to inspire a corresponding confidence in his followers. It was an interesting display of the power of a magnetic nature, and gave me a higher idea of the man than all his writings had given or could give. For his intellectual powers and their printed results I never had a high opinion, but his was one of the most interesting and remarkable personalities I ever encountered.
As Russie continued to hold his own against his terrible disease, Mr. Marshall thought that the operation of resecting the leg at the hip might save his life, and though such a maimed existence as his would then be was but a doubtful boon, the boy eagerly caught at the chance of life; and, to recruit strength for the operation, I decided to take him, by Marshall's advice, to America, and give him a summer in the woods, camping out. I took him to the Maine woods instead of my old haunts of the Adirondacks, because the rail served to the verge of the wilderness, and we had, on Moosehead Lake, the resource of a good hotel to take refuge in if matters went ill. They did go ill, and I found that life was too low in him to give the woodland air and the influence of the pine-trees power to help him. Hope left me, and we turned homeward again, sailing from Boston direct to London. It was in late December, and we had a terrific voyage, and one of the hairbreadth escapes of which I have had so many. In the height of the gale Russie and I were standing in the companion-way, watching the storm, for the boy loved the sea dearly and enjoyed the heaviest weather, when the captain called to me to say that we were not safe there and had better go below. Only a few minutes later an exceptionally heavy sea broke over the deck, took five boats out of the davits or crushed them, carried away in splinters the companion-way in which we had been standing, and swept the decks, the chief officer being saved only by being lashed to the railing of the bridge, and the fall of the mass of water on the deck breaking several of the deck beams. We had to lie to for the rest of the gale. We landed at Gravesend just before Christmas, Russie being in much worse condition than when we left England. Up to that time I had clung to hope, for to lose the boy was like tearing my soul in two. Mr. Marshall no longer held out a hope, but said if he had known the strength of the boy's constitution he would have operated when he first saw him, which was what Russie then begged for and had always looked forward to. Through five years he had resisted the pain of that most painful disease, hoping always, always reading, almost always cheerful.
Our lease expiring, I decided to leave London, and Mr. Spartali offered us a cottage on one of his estates in the Isle of Wight, where the children, Russie especially, might have sweet English air. Marie being engaged in finishing her pictures for the spring exhibition, I went down alone with the children, stopping at an inn at Sandown till the furniture was in the cottage. While so waiting Russie was taken with the first convulsion peculiar to his malady, and then I realized that Death had come, and, unwilling to face him in the semi-publicity of an inn, I took the boy in my arms to the railway, and from the station nearest to the cottage bore him thither.
I tried to prepare him for the impending death, by showing him that it was the end of pain, but his horror of it was inextinguishable, and he cried in agony, "Oh, no, no! Papa, I wish to live as long as you do;" and, though his faculties were fortunately failing, he beckoned me to lay my head by his on the pallet I had prepared for him on the floor, and offered me a last feeble caress and showed his pleasure in having me by him. He had loved me above all things on earth, even more than his loving mother, and to be with me had always been his dearest delight, and now we met Death alone, he and I, and I could only remember David's cry, "Absalom, my son!" I watched the fading life, the diminishing breath in the midnight silence of the solitary house, and almost desired Death to hasten, for the final struggle had begun, and the suspense was torture to me. And when the last long breath was drawn, and the limp, deserted body was all that was left to me of my thirteen years of passionate devotion, my pride and hope, and the nursing care of so many years, I walked out into the midnight and left my boy to Death. The long tension was over, and I could give way to tears.
It was only a child's death, a common thing, almost as common as family existence, but it gave a new color to my life, establishing forever a sympathy with the common grief, and a community of sorrow with all bereft fathers and mothers, in the premature dissipation of the hopes of their future, and the lapse of a dear companionship into the eternal void. This is the human brotherhood of sorrow, sacred, ennobling, sanctifying where it abides, the deepest lesson of the school of life. My feet have wandered far, and my thoughts still further from the places and beliefs of my childhood; but whatever and wherever I may be, this grief at times catches me and holds me in a pause of dumb tears, and every similar bereavement I witness renews the sympathetic grief. I have never been able to find a consolation for that loss, for it carried with it the future and its best dreams. When his mother died, I thought that any death were easier to bear than the sudden and terrible tragedy of that; but in the devastated youth and the lingering pain of Russie's leaving, I found that
"not all the preaching since Adam Has made Death other than Death."
We buried him quietly in the churchyard at Arreton, the kind rector not asking for a baptismal certificate, for he knew that I was not a churchman, and Russie had never been baptized. In these things we follow prejudices. Mine were Baptist; his mother was an advanced Unitarian, and had been born in the Brook Farm community, of which her father was a member, so that we had no sympathy with paedobaptism, while the terrible effect of my own religious education forbade me to encumber the boy's mind with religious dogmas, and from the beginning I had forbidden any one in the house to teach him the name of God until he was old enough to understand what "God" meant; but one day during his illness I found him, when he should have been sleeping, weeping bitterly, and to my inquiry as to the cause of his trouble, he replied, "Do you think, Papa, that, if I went to sleep saying my prayers, God would be satisfied if I finished them after I woke?" That terrible hereditary conscience could not be laid, and perhaps the boy was fortunate in his early death.
To me Russie's death was a crushing disaster. The care and constant preoccupation of my life was taken away, and nothing moved me to activity. I missed him every moment that I was awake, and in my condition I could not rally from the depression caused by the mental void and grief. I do not think I should have recovered from it had not Mr. Spartali conceived the idea of my going off to Herzegovina, where the insurrection of 1875 was just beginning to stir, and, to cut short my hesitation at the venture as a volunteer correspondent, got me an introduction to the manager of the "Times," and offered to pay my expenses should the "Times" not accept my letters. I knew so well the condition in which the Turkish Empire had been left by the Cretan affair, and the apathy that had ruled ever since, that I was convinced that a disaster was pending, and the state to which Russia had brought matters in the Ottoman Empire in 1869 pointed to a Slavonic movement this time. The manager was not of my opinion; he thought the disturbances would blow over in a few weeks, and nothing serious would come of it. I went home, but watched the news, and a few days after went again to the office and offered to go out at my own expense, with the understanding that if they printed my letters they should pay me for them, but that they ran no risk and need not print them unless they wished. The review of my Cretan book in the "Times" now served me as credentials by showing my knowledge of Turkish ways. At the same time I arranged to send letters to the New York "Herald," also as a volunteer, for no one then attached any importance to the rising.
Arriving at Trieste in August, 1875, I found that a committee was at work sending arms and ammunition, and, following the coast down, I found other committees at work at Zara and elsewhere, under Austrian auspices, without any attention being paid to their action by the Imperial authorities. At Ragusa I found the headquarters of the agitation, there under the direction of the captain of the port, Kovachevich, a zealous Slavonic patriot. The movement was evidently regarded benevolently by the Kaiserlich-Koeniglich, and the insurgents came openly into the city, and returned again to their fighting with fresh supplies of ammunition and provisions. I pushed on to the Bocche di Cattaro, and at Castel Nuovo found the insurgents coming and going freely, and at Sutorina, in the corner of Herzegovina, which comes to the Gulf of Cattaro, their depot and manufactory of cartridges. The information to be obtained there was abundant, if not always absolutely trustworthy; but on the whole I found the only fault of that which I got from the insurgents was its exaggeration, while what I got from the Turkish consul-general at Ragusa was simple fabrication. Volunteers fully armed went by every steamer, and when they had enough of campaigning they went to Castel Nuovo and refreshed themselves, and returned, quite regardless of the Austrian regulations. I found that the insurrection was spreading through all the mountain section of Herzegovina and along the border of Montenegro, and it was said that strong detachments of Montenegrins were aiding in the operations. The Prince of Montenegro had opposed the insurrection in the early stages of it, and had even sent old Peko Pavlovich to arrest the Herzegovinian leader, Ljubibratich, and carry him to Ragusa, where he left him under Austrian authority, to return freely as soon as his band had reunited. But as, according to the general Slav opinion, there was nothing important to be done without Montenegro, I pushed on to Cettinje to see with my own eyes what there was to see.
The little world about Cettinje has changed so much since this my first visit there, and was so little known then by the outer world, that my experiences there will be to the present day like those which one might have in a perished social organization. The only access to the capital of the principality was by a zigzag bridle-path up from Cattaro to a height of 4500 feet above the sea,—a hard, rough road, more easily traveled on foot than in the saddle, and so I traveled it, in the company of a Scotch cavalry officer intending to volunteer. Passing the rocky ridge along which ran the boundary between freedom and Austria, one descended by another precipitous path into the valley of Njegush, the birthplace of the family of the Prince, a circular amphitheatre of rocks, a narrow ridge here and there holding still a little earth on which the people raised a few stalks of maize or a few potatoes, a few square yards of wheat, or a strip of poor grass for the sheep or goats. Every tiny field was terraced against the wash of the rains so that the soil should not be carried away, for the geological formation of this part of the principality, Montenegro proper, is a porous rock, which allows water to filter through it, and which is even so fissured that no stream will form, and the drainage is through the rocks or in katavothra which gush out in mysterious fountains in the Gulf of Cattaro or into the Lake of Scutari.
Njegush, the village in which the Prince was born, was a collection of a score or more of stone cottages of two rooms on the ground floor, with two or three—of which one was the house of the Petrovich family—of two stories, simple as the people we saw moving about, the women carrying heavy loads on their backs, and a few ragged children peeping round the corners of the houses at the foreigners passing through. Suspicion was on every face, for the foreigner was still an enemy. We had taken the trouble to send word to Cettinje that we were coming up on that day, and the coming of a correspondent of the "Times" apparently had some importance to Montenegro, for we had found and made friends with, in the market-place where our baggage horses were to be hired, a senator of the principality who had accidentally come down from Cettinje, and we did not suspect that he had been sent down to see if there was danger in our visit or not; and so suspicious was the little community that every Montenegrin set himself, without orders and by the instinct of danger, to watch every stranger within the gates.
The road from Njegush to Cettinje, at present replaced by a good carriage road, was worse than that from Cattaro, a craggy climb over which it would have been hardly possible to ride a mule, had I had one to ride; but from the crown of the pass over which we had to go, there is one of the finest wide views I have ever seen, over the plains of Northern Albania and the Lake of Scutari, with the mountains of Epirus in the extreme distance. The bad roads were part of the Montenegrin system, which, as the Prince later explained to me, was not to make roads for Austrian artillery.
Cettinje was a poor village of one-story houses, with two or three exceptions of two-storied ones, of which the principal was the "palace," a residence which in another country would have been a poor gentleman's country house. Our senatorial herald had gone ahead and announced our coming and our friendliness, and the hotel, the second largest building in the village, had rooms ready for us, and the little world of the Montenegrin capital had put on the air of nonchalance, as if such things as the arrival of a "Times" correspondent and a foreign cavalry officer were things of everyday occurrence. No one would condescend to show curiosity; all were as impassive as Red Indians; and though we were the only strangers there, no one seemed at all curious about our business. This was the manner of the entire population, and it was a trait which I soon realized in everybody, from highest to lowest, that they kept the habitual garb of an incurious reticence, neither asking nor giving information. We found, as if carelessly loitering around the hotel, or playing billiards in it, several young men who spoke excellent French, and we laid cautious traps for conversation, but no one could tell us any news or give us any information about the fighting, or answer any questions other than evasively. And it was only after a long acquaintance, and when I had become in a way naturalized, that I was able to provoke confidence in any Montenegrin. The generations of isolation, surrounded only by enemies whom it was a duty to mislead,—four hundred years of a national existence of combat and ruse, always at war, with no friend except far-off Russia,—had developed the natural Slav indifference to the truth into a fine and singularly subtle habit of communicating nothings to any inquiring outsider, which never failed even the most humble clansman. I was, however, pushed on from hand to hand by casual suggestions until I reached the Prince, who gave us audience under the famous tree where he heard appeals of all kinds, from petitions for help to the last recourse from the judgments of the tribunals, a final appeal to which every Montenegrin was entitled, and without which none submitted to an unfavorable judgment.
The moment was critical, for communications had been passing between Servia and Montenegro for an alliance and a declaration of war against the Sultan, for which the entire population of the principality was impatient, and when I arrived the rumor had begun to spread that Servia had yielded to diplomatic pressure and would decline the alliance. The young Montenegrins were chafing, and the old men complaining that the young ones were growing up without fighting and would be nerveless. The Prince was very guarded, but it was easy to gather from what he said that he neither could nor cared to restrain the people from going in limited numbers, and in an unobtrusive way, into Herzegovina to fight the Turks, and in fact he was perfectly within his rights to send his army there, for, curious as it may seem, the Turkish government had never terminated the de jure state of war with the principality, or acknowledged its independence, and the fighting in the vicinity of Niksich had been going on in an intermittent way for more than three hundred years, during which the city had been in a small way in as close a state of siege, probably, as Troy was for ten years. As to operations in Herzegovina, small bands had been going and coming, concentrating when there was a movement to be made by either combatant, and slipping back across the frontier when they had had a brush, but all sub rosa.
The Prince, Nicholas, is personally a prepossessing man, and it was a good fortune which permitted me to study him and his people at a time when the primitive, antique virtue of the little nation had not been deteriorated by civilization, for it was then a pure survival of the patriarchal state, holding its own in the midst of an enslaved condition of all the population around. He is a man of large mould, of a robust vigor which gave him a distinct physical preëminence amongst his people, with the effusive good humor which belongs, as a rule, to large men, and a hearty bonhomie which with that simple people was a bond to the most passionate devotion. He is quick-witted and diplomatic, with a knowledge of statecraft sufficient for the elementary condition of government over which he presided; and his subjects were not then so many that he did not know by name every head of a family amongst them. He could give you off-hand the genealogy of each of the families which had, after the defeat of Kossovo, taken refuge in the Bielopolje, the central valley of the principality, from the defeat of Dushan down, and he knew all the traditions of their early history. When the young men played at games of strength or skill, there were few who could pitch the stone so far or shoot so well, and perhaps those few had the tact not to let it be seen, so that he stood amongst his people as the model and type of all the heroic virtues. In spite of his great physical proportions he was nervous and excitable. In all but military abilities he had grown curiously to the measure of his place, and his diplomatic abilities more than compensated for the want of the military. And what was most singular was that his early education in Paris had not spoiled the Montenegrin in him.
Probably much of this conserved character was due to the Princess, an admirable woman, who deserves a place amongst the world's remarkable female sovereigns; for her energy, patriotism, and instinct of the obligations of the crisis were more remarkable than anything else connected with the house of Njegush. Beautiful even at the period in which I first saw her, gifted with a tact and sympathetic manner quite regal in their reach, she held her husband up to action and decision when his own nerves were shaken. A Montenegrin of voivode stock, the daughter of the commander-in-chief of the army, who had been the right-hand man of Mirko, the father of the Prince, the commander-in-chief of the previous reign, she had the true Amazonian temper, and would not have hesitated to take the field had the courage of her husband failed him; though, in tranquil times, she was a true Slavonic woman, domestic, affectionate in her family, and effacing herself before her husband. I remember that the Prince told me that, after the splendid victory of Vucidol, he sent two couriers to announce to the Princess at Cettinje the news of the victory, and the first question she asked of them was, "Did the Prince show courage?" and when they replied, with a little Montenegrin craft, that they had had to hold him by force to keep him from plunging into the mêlée, she gave them each a half ducat. "And," said the Prince, "if they had said that I had led the charge, she would have given them a whole ducat."
But, with all his civic virtues, the Prince was the very type of a despotic ruler. The word "constitution" was his bugbear, and he would not abate one particular of his absolute power, or tolerate the slightest deflection of his authority in his family, any more than in the principality. His will was the law, and though, in the details of administration, the voivodes and the "ministers" were trusted, nothing could be decided without his personal supervision, nor was any decision of a tribunal settled without an appeal to him in person. One day, as I sat with him under the Tree of Judgment, we saw in the distance a number of the common people approaching the tree. "Now," said he, "you will see a curious thing. This is a case of appeal from the decision of the head men of a village on which there had been quartered more of the Herzegovinian refugees in proportion to their population than they thought they should support, so that they sought relief by sending a part of the refugees to a neighboring village which had not had what they considered its due charge. The villagers of the second village appeal from this overcharge, alleging that their means do not permit them to receive more than they actually have." The rival deputations approached the tree, cap in hand, and, on the Prince giving the order to open the case, it was stated through the head men as the Prince had summarized it. The Prince heard both cases and then asked the head man of the lesser village if they had done as much as they could do in the way of relief, and the head man explained that their village was small and poor (which was quite unnecessary to say of a Montenegrin village), and they could not support more refugees; whereupon the Prince, addressing himself to the deputation of the larger village, repeated to them the parable of the widow and her mite, and, assuring them that the little village had done its best, as the widow did, and they must be content, dismissed the case, and without a word of complaint the two deputations went off together, discussing with each other in the most friendly manner; and the discontent, so far as we could see, was at an end.
But if this patriarchal form of government was interesting, the character of the people under it was still more so, and it was to me a great pleasure and privilege to be enabled to study, as I did for the three years of the insurrection and war, a nation in the earliest stage of true civilization, corresponding as nearly as we can reconstruct ethnology to that of the Greeks in the time of the Trojan war, arms but not men being changed. The honesty and civic discipline were perfect, hospitality limited only by the ability to give it, and the courage and military discipline absolutely unquestioning. If the Prince ordered a position to be stormed, no man would return from the attack till the bugle sounded the recall. I remember charges made during the war in which the half of the battalion was down, dead or wounded, before they could strike a blow, and this without the presence of the Prince to stimulate the soldier; but, before him, no man would flinch from certain death when an order was given.
The honesty was singular. I remember that one day, when I was in Cettinje, two Austrian officers came up from Cattaro, and one of them lost on the road a gold medal he wore, which was picked up by a poor woman passing with a load over the same road, and she went to Cattaro and spent a large portion of the day hunting for the officer who had lost the medal. Sexual immorality was so rare that a single case in Cettinje was the excited gossip of the place for weeks; but to this virtue the influence of the Russian officers during the year of the great war was disastrous. The Russians introduced beggary and prostitution, and the crowd of adventurers from everywhere during the two later years made theft common; but stealing was considered such a disgrace by the Montenegrins that during all my residence there I had only one experience,—the theft of a small pocket revolver by my first Dalmatian horse-keeper, and I think that robbery with violence was never heard of in the principality. During the third year I carried, for distribution among the families of the killed and wounded, the large subsidies of the Russian committees, amounting to several hundred pounds in gold, and in this service I penetrated to the remotest parts of the principality until I reached the Turkish posts in Old Servia, countries of the wildest character, with a very sparse population; and, though it was known that I carried those sums, I was never molested, though I had only one man for escort. And during the two campaigns which I made with the Prince, living in a tent, on the pole of which hung my dispatch-bag containing my store of small money (it being impossible to obtain change for a piece of gold anywhere in the interior), and no guard being kept on the tents, I never lost a zwanziger, or any other article than a girth by which the blanket was fastened on my horse when grazing at night; and, as the blanket came back, even that did not look like a theft.
And yet so poor and so contented were they that the life of the primitive man could not have been much simpler. I have seen, in the cold end of September, in the high mountain districts, a whole family of little children, whose united rags would not have made a comfortable garment for one of them, playing with glee in the fields. On one occasion, when I had been caught by the heavy autumn rains in remote Moratcha, roads washed away and riding a mile impossible, I had to take with me two or three men, beside my guide and horse boy, to make a road where I had to travel, and we were obliged to halt for the night at one of the poorest villages I ever saw in Montenegro. The best house in it was offered me, with such fare as they had, to supplement bread which I had brought from the convent. The house had but one room, with a large bedstead built in it of small trees in the rough, and the beaten ground for floor. The bed was given up to me, and the family lay on the ground with a layer of straw, which was all that the bedstead had in the way of bedding. When we left in the morning I was asked for no compensation, nor did it seem to be expected; but, as my silver had been expended, I gave the woman of the house (the husband being at the war) a gold ten-franc piece. She took it shamefacedly, turned it over and over, looked at it curiously, and then asked my guide, "What is this?" It was the first time in her life that she had seen a gold coin, and the guide had to explain to her that it could be changed into many of the zwanzigers or beshliks which were the only coins she knew. And with all this poverty they seemed most happy when they could extend their poor hospitality to a stranger, and always reluctant to receive any compensation, though the Prince was obliged to furnish to the general population about half the breadstuffs they used in the year.
Seven senators were always on duty near the Prince; they received about $250 a year each when on duty, at other times nothing. The entire civil list of the Prince amounted to about $250,000 a year, from which all the expenses of the government, civil, military, and diplomatic, had to be paid. But for the subsidies of Russia and Austria-Hungary the entire people must have migrated long ago, and I have several times heard Montenegrins say, when asked why they did not build more substantial houses, that "they were not going to stay there long, but meant to get a better country." And yet, like most mountaineers, they were so attached to this rugged and infertile country of theirs that there was no punishment so hard as exile.
During the greater part of the time I spent in the principality the entire male adult population was on the frontier, or fighting just beyond it, and, when a messenger was wanted, the official took a man out of the prison and sent him off, with no apprehensions of his not returning. One such messenger I remember to have been sent to Cattaro, in Austrian territory, with a sum of three thousand florins to be paid to the banker there, and he came back before night and reported at the prison. Jonine told me that one day, being in Cattaro, he was accosted by a Montenegrin, who begged for his intercession with the Prince to let him out of prison. "But," said the Russian official, "you are no more in prison than I am; what do you mean?" "Oh," said the man, "I have only come down for a load of skins for Voivode So-and-so, but I must go into prison again when I get back to Cettinje." The prison was a ramshackle building, in the walls of which a vigorous push of several strong men would have made a breach, and I have often seen all the prisoners out in the sun with a single guard, on absolutely equal terms; and if, as sometimes happened, the guard was called away, any of the prisoners was ready to take his rifle and duties for the moment.
I have seen it stated that the Montenegrin is a lazy man, who puts off the hard work on the women; but this is quite untrue, the fact being that any work which he considers the work of a man he is eager to do. He is an admirable road-maker and navvy, goes far and wide to get work on public works, and at home, when peace allows it, he does the heavy work; but as, in the ordinary life of the past four centuries, he was almost constantly on the frontier to meet the Turkish invasions or the Albanian raids, the agricultural and much other work fell necessarily to the women. When there were considerable flittings from Cettinje, and the amount of baggage to be carried down to Cattaro was large, it was always allotted to one of the most intelligent men to judge of the weight; and when it was a heavy package he said, "This is the load of a man," or, if a light load, "This is for a woman," many of whom were waiting, eager for the chance of gaining something by their labor. But no compensation will induce a Montenegrin to accept a work which is considered not the work of a man.
In military courage and docility the Montenegrin probably stands at the head of European races. He is born brave, and comes under the law of military obedience as soon as he can carry arms. The good wish for the boy baby in his cradle is, "May you not die in your bed," and to face death is to the boy or man the most joyous of games. I have seen a man, in the midst of a hot interchange of rifle bullets between the Turkish trenches and our own, the trenches occupying the crests of two parallel ranges of low hills, go around outside the works and climb with the greatest deliberation up the hillside, exposed to the Turkish fire, and back over the breastwork into our trenches, all the time under a hail of rifle bullets. During the siege operations at Niksich the Prince was obliged to issue an order of the day forbidding burial to any man killed in this ostentatious exposure to the Turkish fire, so many men having been killed while standing on the crests of the shelter trenches in pure bravado. While lying at headquarters at Orealuk (where the Prince had a little villa), waiting the opening of the campaign of 1877, I was walking on the terrace with him one day after dinner when I noticed a boy of sixteen or eighteen standing at the end of the terrace with his cap in his hand, the usual form of asking for an audience. "Now I'll show you an interesting thing," said the Prince, as he made a sign to the boy to approach. "This boy is the last of a good family, whose father and brothers were all killed in the last battle, and I ordered him to go home and stay with his mother and sisters, that the family might not become extinct." As the boy drew near and stopped before us, his head down and his cap in his hands, the Prince said to him, "What do you want?" "I want to go back to my battalion," the boy replied. "But," replied the Prince, "you are the last of the family, and I cannot allow a good family to be lost; you must go home and take care of your mother." The boy began to cry bitterly. The Prince then asked him if he would go home quietly and stay there, or take a flogging and be allowed to fight. He shook his head and stood silent a little while and then broke out, "Well! it isn't for stealing; I'll take the flogging!" that being the deepest disgrace which can befall a Montenegrin. And he broke down utterly when the Prince finally said that he must go home, for his family was a distinguished one, and he was not willing that no man should be left of it to keep the name. "But," said the boy, "I want to avenge my father and brothers," this being the highest obligation of every Montenegrin. The boy went away still crying, but when he had gone the Prince said, "I know that he will be in the next battle in spite of anything I can say."
I have anticipated the events of the year, but this illustration of the character of the little people whose tenacity and courage put their mark on European history during the subsequent three years will help to give significance to the story. Without being undiplomatically frank, on the one hand, or attempting to conceal his rôle on the other, the Prince allowed me to see that everything depended on Montenegrin action, and that he, to a certain extent, must permit his people to follow their sympathies. The young men went in groups without any pretense of organization, with their rifles and yataghans, and, when the opportunity offered, took part in any pending skirmish, and then came home, to be replaced by others. To have forbidden this would have made the people mutinous, and the Dalmatians, though under the authority of Austria, were no more closely held to neutrality than the Montenegrins. The Austrian Slavs could not be permitted to be more patriotic than the Montenegrin; and the Prince, after having attempted to quiet the former by sending old Peko Pavlovich to bring them to reason, and found that the matter could not be settled in that way, allowed Peko to take a band of young men into Herzegovina and assume the direction of the insurrection.
There was nothing more to be learned in Montenegro that belonged to war correspondence, and I went back to Cattaro. There I learned that there was a great assemblage of refugees at Grahovo, a remote corner of the principality, which could best be reached from the Bocche; and enlisting the agent of the Austrian Lloyds as guide and interpreter, I went by way of Risano and the country of the Crivoscians, a Slavonic tribe who gave great trouble to the Romans in their day, and to their successors in that part of the world, the Austrians, whom they defeated disastrously in 1869. The Crivoscians contributed an important element to the forces of the insurrection; they were held to be great thieves, but greater Turk fighters, and on the way to Grahovo we met many of them coming home wounded, or carrying their booty from the recent battles (one amongst them had forgotten whether he was seventy-five or seventy-six), for there had been serious fighting in the corner of the Herzegovina adjacent.
Then we came into the long procession of refugees, mostly women and children, a dribbling stream of wretched humanity, carrying such remnants of their goods as their backs could bear up under, with a few old men, too old to fight, all seeking some hiding-place until the storm should be over,—wretched, ragged, worn out by the fatigues of their hasty flight from "the abomination of desolation," for it seemed as if he that was on the housetop had not gone down to take anything out of his house, and woe had been pronounced upon them that were with child and them that gave suck in those days. I had seen enough of the horrors of suppression of Christian discontent by the Mussulmans of Crete, but the brutality of the Slavonic Islam in time of peace was other and bitterer than the Cretan, and the miserable remnant of escaped rayahs of Herzegovina was the very ragged fringe of humanity. I wish every statesman who had ever favored tonics for the "sick man" could have stood where I did and have seen the long reiteration of the damning accusation against the "unspeakable Turk" in these escapes of the peaceful stragglers from massacre and rapine which every rising in the provinces of Turkey brings forth for the shame of our civilization. There were whole families in such rags that they would not have been permitted to beg in the streets of any English city, lucky even to have escaped as families; parents whose daughters, even more miserable, had not been permitted to escape to starvation. We found at Grahovo the body of which those we had seen were the fringe,—a mass of despairing, melancholy humanity, brooding over the misery to come, homeless, foodless, and the guests of a people only less poor than themselves, the hospitable hovels of the Montenegrins housing a double charge.
I was desirous to learn from themselves the details of their oppression, and my friend questioned one group as to what they had to complain of. It was practically everything but death,—their cattle taken, their crops ravaged or reaped by the agas, the honor of wives and daughters the sport of any Mussulman ruffian who passed their way. One tall, gaunt old woman, who had not spoken, but listened, with a face like a stone, to all that the others replied, suddenly threw her ragged robe over her head and burst into a tempest of tears. Another turned to me a stolid face, saying, "Gospodin! we do not know what a virgin is!" I saw enough of it before I had finished to have made the world turn Turcophobe. And twenty years later we hear of the same fruits of the same régime and, as I found then, Christian statesmen who tolerate it.
I tried to penetrate to the scene of the fighting in Herzegovina, but was on all sides warned that from Grahovo it was impossible; it was necessary to return to Ragusa. There I learned that a fight had just taken place on the road between Trebinje and Ragusa. There is a good carriage road between the two cities, and, in company with two colleagues, and under the guidance of a daring carriage driver, we went to Trebinje. The plain between the frontier and Trebinje is a waste of limestone crags and blocks, scattered as if after a combat of Titans, a miserable stunted vegetation springing between the rocks, capable of hiding thousands of men within a rifle-shot from the road, and, as we found, actually hiding a good many. But word had been sent before by our friends the patriots, and we only caught a glimpse of one insurgent, and saw one dead Turk, a victim of the last skirmish, whose body the garrison had not dared come out to bury.
We brought the first news the pasha had received in five days. He gave me, for official information, his version of the late fight, in which old Peko had drawn a convoy of provisions into an ambush and captured it, killing eighty men of the escort, whose heads one of my colleagues had seen stuck up on poles at the insurgent camp, but in which the pasha admitted a loss of only twenty or thirty men. I had seen many Turkish pashas, but never one of that type,—amiable, lethargic, and quite indisposed to do any harm to anybody, and he could not understand why the insurgents could not let him alone; he did not want to disturb them. He complained bitterly that ill-disposed people had been stirring up the population of his province and that, though he had a force of two thousand men, the disorderly Herzegovinians made it very difficult for his men to go about. It was really pathetic to hear him. He wished harm to no one; so courteous and civilized-over was he that one could easily imagine that such officials at Constantinople might give the Turcophile color to a corps diplomatique. Invited to coffee by the Austrian consul, I heard the views of a man whose experiences have been equaled by few, for he had been fourteen years at that post; and he fully confirmed the impressions I had from the refugees at Grahovo. But, on the other side of the matter, I was really interested in the Turkish troops, so good-natured, so patient, and not in the least concerned at having been several months besieged and blockaded, supplies short, and relief not even hoped for. I hated the system, but I could not help liking its victims on both sides.
Returning to Ragusa, I found Ljubibratich on the point of returning to the insurgents' camp at Grebci, just over the Austrian frontier, and only about three hours' walk, we were told, from Ragusa. They came with unrestricted freedom from camp into Ragusa, carried away what supplies of any kind they needed, and, when ill, came to the hospital of the city. Dalmatia and its medley of races are still in the Eastern state of activity, in which time is of no account; and, instead of getting off in the early morning to return before night, as arranged, we left Ragusa at 2 P.M. We were in October, and the shortening days did not favor long journeys, and the road was even worse than those in Montenegro. On the way across the frontier the going was simply climbing a Cyclopean stairway, and we reached the camp only at dusk.
Grebci was an abandoned village of the Herzegovinian population, robbed and maltreated even here within a rifle-shot of the Austrian territory, and the entire population had taken refuge across the frontier. There was a reunion of all the bands, amounting to about 900 men, of whom 250 were Montenegrins under old Peko Pavlovich, a wiry, wily, Slavonic Ulysses, who had been in more than ninety battles with the Turks, and who knew and used every stratagem of this border warfare. There was Melentie, the fighting Archimandrite of the convent of Duzi; Luka Petcovich, a Herzegovinian of the Montenegrin frontier, a tried Turk fighter; and the fighting popes of three villages of Orthodox Christians, Bogdan Simonich, Minje, and Milo. There was a small band of Italians, with one Frenchman, Barbieux,—one of the bravest of the brave and an ex-Zouave officer,—ten Russians, and a few Servians. We were in for a night, and had brought no provender, while all the food in camp was the half of an old goat and some flinty ship's biscuit. The goat was roasted before the camp-fire, laid on a timber platform, which served for bed by night and table by day, and hacked to pieces by the yataghans which had come from the battle two days before. The meat was tough beyond exaggeration, and the biscuit had to be broken with a stone into small pieces; but we had wine, for this abounded across the frontier and was indispensable. We heard the story of the fight at Utovu, where the insurgents had been taken in a trap by treachery of the weak chiefs of a Catholic village, and escaped with the loss of only four killed, owing to the precautions of the wily Peko, who, like an experienced fox, never went into a possible trap without seeing the way out of it; but they brought away the visible proofs of their fight in the noses of fifty-eight Turkish soldiers killed. In the custom of the country the nose of an enemy stands as the logarithm of his head, which is inconvenient of transportation in number; and, though the Prince had forbidden the mutilation of the dead, it was impossible to enforce the prohibition out of Montenegro, and this was the only proof of the actual fruits of victory permitted by the circumstances.
The Italians sang songs, and the whole band made merry till far into the night, when the correspondents, the honored guests, to be served with the best of the accommodations, were shown to the abandoned house of the captain of the village, a stone-built hut, the only one of two stories, which gave us a board floor to sleep on in the upper story, garnished with a bundle of straw for each of us, on which we lay down to sleep, tired to exhaustion. My overcoat was my only covering, and there had been a slight snowfall the day before. I slept, to be awakened ten minutes later by swarms of fleas so numerous that it was like lying in an ant-hill. Three times in the night I went out to shake the fleas from my clothing in the cold night air, and when the first daylight came we turned out and made our way back to Ragusa.
Dissensions and mutual recriminations followed the defeat of Utovu, Peko openly expressing his disgust with the insurgents of the plain, who were braver when there was no enemy than when the fighting was imminent, and he marched off to a position in the hilly country nearer the Montenegrin frontier, leaving Ljubibratich with the men of the low country. The lull brought into action that Shefket Pasha who, the following year, inaugurated the "Bulgarian atrocities," and who, declining to attack the band of Peko, came to vent his prowess on the people of the Popovo plain, of whom about five thousand had returned from exile in Dalmatia under the guarantee of the Turkish authorities of freedom from molestation on resuming their ordinary vocations. These were all Catholics, and the Catholics of Herzegovina and Bosnia have always been submissive, even to all the rigors of the Turkish rule, while the Orthodox Christians have been the rebels, the popes being generally the captains in time of war. Shefket, disregarding the guarantees of his government, marched on the villages of Popovo, killed or carried away prisoners all the men who did not escape again over the frontier, and allowed the bashi-bazouks to plunder and ravage. Male children were killed with the men; and the women, abandoning everything they could not carry, returned to Austrian territory, where I visited them to get the facts of the matter.
The result was that I decided to go to Mostar and lay the facts before the consuls, who had been charged to form a commission to investigate and report on the state of things in Herzegovina. I was joined by the correspondent of "Le Temps" and a Belgian engineer engaged on the new road beyond Seraievo, and we engaged a courageous coachman to drive us to the capital of Herzegovina, for timid people would not venture to make the journey, such was the anarchy of the country. As far as Metcovich we were in Austrian territory, but there we fell into the Asiatic order of things, meeting a frontier guard of ragged Turkish regulars, to whom the visas on our passports seemed of small account, in view of their evident desire to regard us as enemies; and all along the road to Mostar we had the scowling faces of the native Mussulmans bent on us as we passed, and the few Christians we saw wore an air of harelike timidity.
The city of Mostar is one of the most picturesque I have ever seen. At that time its dirt, decay, and generally unkempt appearance added to the picturesqueness, but not to the comfort. We got shelter at a khan, whose owner hardly knew if he dared admit a Christian guest; but the authority of the English consul, Mr. Holmes, reassured him, and we were admitted to the society of more fleas than I had considered possible at that time of the year. I had, however, provided myself with an ample supply of the Dalmatian product known as "flea powder," the triturated leaves of the red camomile which grows in great perfection all over the mountains of Dalmatia and Montenegro, as if nature had foreseen that it would be especially needed there, and I slept in comparative immunity, though my prior experiences in hostelry had never given me an adequate understanding of the khan filth and discomfort.
I found that the consuls had all been fully informed of the general state of the country and the treachery exercised by the Turkish commanders, and Holmes told me that he had reported to the ambassador at Constantinople what he had learned, and that his report had been sent back with orders to make it less unfavorable to the Turks. Holmes (later Sir William Holmes, the distinction being well deserved for the courage and honesty with which, though strongly Turcophile in his tendencies, he exposed the abuses) said to me, relating this fact, "What can I do? I tell him what I know to be the facts as I have learned them, and he wants me to change them to make the report more favorable to the Turks!" I put his case before the public in the "Times," and the honest fellow reaped the reward he deserved, though against the will of his ambassador.
Here I met again an old Cretan friend, Server Pasha, sent to try the same silly, futile tactics which so failed in Crete, i.e. offering the insurgents elaborate paper reforms in exchange for actual submission. He reminded me of the reply of the local commandant of the army at Mostar when one of the consuls remonstrated at the authorities having taken no action in a case of peculiarly brutal assassination in the city of Mostar, the author of which had not even been arrested. The Colonel Bey replied, astonished, to the indignant consul, "Why, haven't we made a report?" The case was rather a peculiar one: a young Mussulman, having received a present of a new rifle, went out into the suburbs, and, seeing a Christian boy gathering the grapes from his mother's vineyard, took a pot shot at him and shot him through the body. The young assassin was carried in triumph about the town on the shoulders of his playmates, and was never in any way punished for the crime. I had the story from the surgeon who attended the Christian boy, and from Mr. Holmes. I took a keen delight in illuminating the intelligent mind of Server Pasha as to the true condition of the country, telling him what I had seen and reported to the "Times;" and, as he knew me well, and that I was trustworthy in my reports,—for he knew how A'ali Pasha had regarded me,—he was in a curious state of mental distress. On his report to Constantinople, the consul-general at Ragusa, an Italian Levantine called Danish Effendi, whom I had also known at Syra in the old days, was ordered to make an investigation into the Popovo atrocities, and, being under the eyes of a large body of correspondents and a Christian public, he reported confirming my report.
Our return to Ragusa was not entirely free from excitement, for the indigenous Mussulman had less avidity for prey he saw going into the trap, Mostar, than for that which he saw escaping, and we had to face small predatory detachments of bashi-bazouks raiding in the country we passed through, who looked at us with eyes of fire, and muttered in no doubtful language, interpreted by my colleague of "Le Temps," who knew Turkish, what they would be glad to do with us. As we sat eating our lunch in the shelter of a hovel by the roadside, while the horses were baiting, a party of the fanatics watched us with growing malignity and a truculent interchange of sentiments of an evidently unfriendly nature. To puzzle them as to our status, I took the pains to repeat in conversation with my colleague the formula of adherence to the faith as it is in Islam, a scrap of Arabic I had learned in Crete, the repetition of which, according to the rite, is equivalent to the recognition of Mahomet and his teachings. The effect on them was curious, and, though they evidently did not consent to regard us as of the true faith, they as evidently were puzzled, and we went our way unmolested; but I felt more at my ease, I am willing to admit, when we passed the last Turkish post on the road.
Utovu was followed by a lull in military operations; but in the latter part of November, as the insurgents had beleaguered all the forts in the upper Herzegovina and the town of Niksich in the debated territory between Montenegro and Herzegovina, Shefket gathered a force of 3000 regulars, with artillery and bashi-bazouks to escort a train of supplies to them. He was met by Lazar Soeica, the chief of that part of the mountain country, and disastrously defeated at Muratovizza, leaving behind him 760 dead, and carrying away about 900 wounded, most of whom died of their wounds, as I learned from one of the European surgeons in the Turkish service who deserted a little later, dismayed by the constant menaces of death to all Christian employees in the camp, uttered by the troops, suffering, angry, and continually worsted in the little fights. Shefket saved himself and his artillery by sending the latter to the rear as soon as the battle was at its height, and then, having posted a strong rear guard,—the insurgents having neglected to close the road behind them,—retreating with all possible speed, leaving the rear guard to be killed or taken, which it was to a man. The insurgents lost fifty-seven killed and ninety-six seriously wounded, but the result was to throw the whole upper Herzegovina into their hands, and they captured and destroyed all the small blockhouses and forts not armed with artillery. The interest now centred on the high mountain district about Niksich, where I determined to go to watch the operations. The winter was well commenced, but only in the higher districts was the snow on the ground. I returned, therefore, to Cettinje, where I was now received as a tried friend.
At the time of which I am now writing there were practically no roads in Montenegro but bridle-paths, over large stretches of which it was unsafe to ride, even the Montenegrins dismounting, whether going up or down. That passage between Cettinje and Rieka, on the Lake of Scutari, was one of the worst I have ever found in the principality. The lower part, nearing Rieka, was simply a Cyclopean stairway, with rocky steps so high that the horses had to jump down from one to another. My cavalcade consisted of a Montenegrin soldier for guide, a Montenegrin student, and the horse-boy, necessary to lead the horses when, as was the case for a large part of the way, we could not ride them; and halfway down to Rieka we were overtaken by a deaf-mute porter, sent as a kind afterthought by the Prince, with a samovar and a provision of tea, sugar, etc., in view of the dearth of comforts beyond. I carried an order for shelter and such fare as was obtainable at Rieka, in the little house of the Prince at that village, and we passed a comfortable night, but found the succeeding day the opening of one of the spells of rainy weather of which only one who has lived in the principality much can know the inconvenience. To wait in the half-furnished house with no resources was worse than going out in the rain, although I had no protection other than a cape of my own manufacture, a circle of the thinnest india-rubber cloth, with a hole cut in the middle for my head, and covering my arms to the wrists.
Hoping for the rain to stop, we waited till nine A.M., when a break in the clouds flattered us into starting for Danilograd, to be caught in another downpour an hour later. The way was down a long slope, part mud and part broken rock, over which in either case we found the traveling easier on foot than on horseback, so that we did most of the way on foot while daylight lasted, the unfortunate porter between the cavalry and the infantry struggling, slipping, and moaning in his inarticulate way in great physical distress. We had continually to stop and wait for the horses to overtake us until the long descent was accomplished, by which time the twilight had come, and we found ourselves in the valley of the Suchitza, a wide waste of clay soil saturated with rain, and two hours' ride in ordinary condition of the roads from any shelter. The steady rain in which we had traveled for eight hours then became a violent thunder-storm; all the brooks and ditches by the way were over their banks, and our horses could hardly flounder under their loads through the heavy going; while we, in the darkness, could not see the road, even where it could he followed, save when the lightning flashes showed it, and so, not being able to walk, rode perforce. My horse refused a ditch a foot wide, and when we came to one I had to get off and drag by the bridle, while the horse-boy pushed from behind, till he yielded to the persuasion and ventured over. The two hours' ride became four, and the way got heavier as we went on, woodland alternating with flooded plain, in the former of which only the experience of the guide could keep the road; while in the latter we could follow it only by the telegraph wires cutting against the sky. We finally saw a light and came to a cabin, where we deposited the poor mute, with all the impedimenta, to follow by daylight; but for us there was no place to sleep, and we gave the reins to the horses, and let them flounder their way into Danilograd, where we arrived at 10 P.M., drenched to the skin and hungry.
There was a light still burning in the house of the village doctor, on whom we had an order from the Prince, and who found us a sleeping-place in the loft of a neighbor, where we got a supper of trout and maize bread, and a bundle of straw to lie on in our wet clothes. The doctor was a German, and, though he was an official, the instinct of hospitality which rules the Montenegrin did not exist in him, so he offered us the house of his neighbor. The day broke fine for our journey to the convent of Ostrog, the only bit of good weather we had until our return to Cettinje, ten days later.
Ostrog is one of the three sanctuaries of Montenegro, the others being Moratcha, on the old Servian frontier, and Piperski Celia, above the fortress of Spuz, where the valley of the Zeta then entered into the Turkish dominions. The convent is on a site of singular beauty and salubrity, on a fertile plateau several hundred feet above the valley of the Zeta, at the foot of a precipice, in the face of which is a cave enlarged into a chapel, where lies the body of St. Basil, a Herzegovinian bishop of the early days of the Turkish conquest, who did his Christian duty by the scattered Orthodox Christians in Herzegovina and Montenegro, visiting stealthily and at the constant risk of his life the little groups of the faithful over a territory vast for the supervision of one man. He died in this refuge, and was buried at the foot of the cliff; but on an attempt being made to remove the body some years later, it was found to be uncorrupted, upon which he was canonized, and the body was placed in a fine coffin and removed to the little chapel, which has a single window also rock-cut and is only to be approached by a narrow stairway of the same structure. Outside, at the foot of the cliff, is the convent, in which reside two or three priests and as many kalogheri, constituting the community, for the convents of the Orthodox church are not communities of idle devotees, but of men who are mostly engaged in the culture of the land belonging to the convent, when not engaged in the performance of the rites of the church. The hegumenos I found to be more a man of war than one of ritual, and really the commander of an outpost of observation on the frontier towards Niksich. He delighted more in arms than in the mass, and I made a firm friend of him by the gift of a small Colt's revolver. I was permitted to see the body of St. Basil in the chapel, which was filled with a fragrance like that of cedar wood, which I naïvely attributed to the wood of the coffin, when the attendant protested with indignation that what I smelled was the odor of sanctity. I was incompetent to distinguish it. St. Basil is held in great reverence for his miracles, and immense numbers of pilgrims come to his annual festa with their sick from all the country round, even Mussulman families from Albania paying their devotions in the hope and faith of cures, and it is said that many miracles take place every year.
In this hermitage Mirko, the father of the Prince, in company with thirty-two of his voivodes, was once besieged by a large body of Turks, but repelled all attacks for nineteen days, with the loss of only two men, killed by shots which passed through the window. One of the garrison descended by a rope to bury one of the dead, and, this accomplished, made his way by night through the Turkish army and carried the news of the siege to Danilo, then the reigning prince, who raised an army and dispersed the Turkish forces. During the siege, two parties of Mussulmans, mistaking each other for relief parties of Christians, attacked each other with great slaughter, an event which was considered to be the effect of the intervention of St. Basil.
The hegumenos strongly opposed my attempt to penetrate to Niksich, assuring me that the plain was so infested by bands of Turks that it was to the last degree unsafe to travel on the road, the truth being that the city was beleaguered by Montenegrin bands, a fact which he desired to conceal. This, I was convinced, was the real reason of his opposition; but, to strengthen his argument, the rain, which had lifted for the one day of the journey from Danilograd, changed into snow in the mountains, and made the attempt impossible. We waited several days at the convent, and, as the rain and snow were insistent, and Niksich too difficult of access, I decided to turn the other way and go to Scutari by land. Returning to Danilograd, I learned that this was practically impossible, the road beyond Podgoritza being not only dangerous for persons, but impracticable for beasts, as the country was under water. No Montenegrin would venture into the Turkish territory with the certainty of incurring decapitation,—if not in my company, at any rate on his return without me; so, on consultation with the sirdar in command at Danilograd, I sent back to Cettinje the horses we had come with, and hired those of a rayah of Podgoritza who had come to market at Danilograd, intending to go to Podgoritza, where we should hire other horses to Plamnitza, on the lake shore, whence we could proceed by water to Scutari. I telegraphed the Prince to send his steam launch to meet me at Plamnitza; and, as my interpreter, the Montenegrin student, determined to run the risks of decapitation and go with me, I imposed on him a European costume, took away his revolver as a safeguard against dangerous excitement, put him under severe charge not to show that he understood the Serb language, and started in a pouring rain.
The road to Spuz was unique. Now that Montenegro has entered into possession of the region, there is a carriage road, but the ancient one was a pavement of the days of Dushan which now ran along the top of a ridge like a hog-back in the middle of the road, on each side of which the track had been worn down by travel until the original road was as high as the backs of our horses above the actual track each side of it. At the gate of Spuz we were stopped and our passports were demanded. Mine had been visaed at Ragusa for Mostar, and Gosdanovich had the Russian passport, which is freely accorded to all Montenegrins. The sentinel could read neither, and sent them to the konak with a demand for instructions. Meanwhile the guard turned out to laugh at us sitting on our market horses in the pouring rain, our saddles being only blankets fastened on the pack saddles, on which we were perched high, the rain pouring off from every extremity of our costumes. The messenger brought word to send us to the police office, and there we went.
A binbashi, grave, polite, and curious, invited us to be seated and ordered coffee. He could speak only Turkish, and I tried English, French, and Italian in vain, when a bright Albanian lieutenant standing by made a remark in Romaic, and for the needs of the case I caught on. He knew much less Romaic than I, but I could make him understand that I was the correspondent of an English journal going to Scutari, etc., etc. Gosdanovich played his part well, and was as stolid as an ox, though the conversation, which he understood, between the Mussulman Serbs present was not at all cheering. "Bah!" said one of the secretaries who sat writing on the mat beside the bimbashi, "I can kill twenty such men as that with a stick, and should like to do it—such rubbish as they are—I should like to send them all to the devil." "So should I," replied the other. Then one of them suggested that, though I was evidently a stranger, he felt sure he had seen Gosdanovich in Cettinje. "Impossible!" replied the other; "no Montenegrin would dare to come here now." Finally came the doctor, an Italian, and we had an excursion into general politics, after which another coffee and cigarette, and then, with the visa of the bimbashi, we were permitted to move on to Podgoritza.
We had no further adventure on the road, and early in the afternoon arrived at Podgoritza, an ancient Servian city, much dilapidated and very picturesque, taking lodgings at an inn kept by a Christian, a rather creditable establishment but absolutely empty of guests. We waited half an hour for the food and fire I ordered (for we were wet and fasting), when my guide returned and said that there were no lodgings there, but that the chief of police would provide us, and that we were to accompany him to the police office. There we were allowed to dry ourselves over a huge brazier full of glowing coals, while the zapties cleaned out the adjoining room, a closet about ten by fourteen feet, in which the dust of years lay accumulated and to all appearance undisturbed. This was simply a cell in the police prison, and there we ate what the miralai saw fit to order for us. Our passports were again examined and discussed, and we were reëxamined as to our whence and whither and wherefore by the aid of two or three Catholic Albanians of the vicinity, who did what they could to find out if we had any secret business, professing to be themselves the victims of the oppression of the Turks, and sympathizing with us. They did not draw me, however, and I professed no anxiety as to my treatment.
The miralai finally gave over his search for hostile motive in our visit, and we discussed the programme for the morrow. I found that there was a healthy fear of the Prince of Montenegro, for, when I told him that the Prince's little steamer would be waiting for me at Plamnitza the next day at noon, the whole circle broke out in wonder if it could be true that the Prince took so much interest in us, for if so, they must be prudent. We had the interesting advantage in that Gosdanovich understood all that they said as they talked Serb to each other, for they were a mixed company, and mostly of that race, and they supposed that he was a Russian and I an Englishman, and that both of us were ignorant of their language. If, they finally agreed, the Prince of Montenegro would send his steamer for me, I must be a person of greater distinction than they thought me, and they must be careful. So the miralai called the chief of the zapties, and in our presence gave him his charge, viz., to escort us to Plamnitza, leaving by early light, and, if the steamer did not come for us, to bring us back to the prison he took us from, and to kill us on the spot if we attempted to escape. And so to sleep, as far as the crowing of many cocks outside and the activity of multitudinous fleas within would permit; and to make sure of us, we were locked in—fairly at last in a Turkish prison.
The morning broke with the rain pouring in torrents. I had tried to buy a pair of shoes before going to sleep, but they brought me a pair for a boy of twelve and assured me that there were no others in the town, and those I had come with were in tatters which were hardly to be kept on my feet. The mud was indescribable,—the entire country flooded, and all the bridges across a river we must pass carried away, except one over a narrow gorge where the rocks approached so closely that a couple of logs reached from side to side, and over these the horses must be led. To say that I was at ease on this trip would be exaggeration, the more as the zaptie-bimbashi talked freely to his subordinate about us, and vented his rage at being obliged to make such a journey for two beastly infidels, to whom the only grateful service he could render was decapitation. However, we reached the lake, to find the steamer waiting, tied to the top of one of the largest oaks a half mile from the actual shore, for the country was so inundated that we floated over entire villages as we boated out to it. I delighted the heart of the bimbashi by a baksheesh of half a napoleon, which so astonished him that he hardly knew how to express himself, after all his bitter words and unkind intentions. I was later convinced that if the Turkish authorities had known who I was,—their old enemy in Crete,—we should not have come out alive from Podgoritza. In fact, when Danish Effendi at Ragusa heard that I had been put in prison in Albania he exclaimed, "If I had been there it is not only a night in prison he would have had, but a file of soldiers at daylight."
Our steamer had come, however, not to carry me to Scutari, but, and perhaps fortunately, to take me back to Rieka, whence I had to go to Cettinje to get a refit, for I was ragged, bootless as my errand to Scutari, and draggled with mud from head to foot; notwithstanding which, as soon as the Prince had learned of my arrival, though in the midst of a diplomatic dinner, he sent for me to come to the palace, and made me sit down with the company as I was and tell my story. I had to wait a few days for the voyage to Scutari, profiting by the occasion of the return of some engineers and the French consul at that place. We found the town flooded, a fisherman by the side of one of the streets showing us a fine string of fish which he had caught in the roadside ditch. Decay, neglect, and utter demoralization were written large on the general aspect of the capital of one of the most important of the provinces of the Turkish Empire in Europe, i.e. important to Turkey. The magnificent country around Scutari for miles on miles square—most fertile ground, producing, beside wheat, the finest tobacco known for cigarettes generally sold as of Cavalla (and how many nervous hours I have soothed with it during these campaigns), and enormous crops of maize—lies a large part of the time every year under water, as I had found it, for the sole reason that the Drin, which ought to empty into the sea below the Boyana (the outlet of the Lake of Scutari, the Moratcha, etc.), has built a bar by its floods and abandoned its proper course, emptying into the lake a flood which the Boyana is incapable of managing.
The fortress was a relic of Dushan, little mended by the Turk, and had been three times struck by lightning, the magazine each time exploding (once while I was in Montenegro), only because the Turkish government, in putting up the lightning-rod and finding the supply of rod short, had pieced it out with telegraph wire. The body of the rod had fulfilled its destiny in attracting the lightning, while the telegraph wire, not being able to carry the load brought to it, had discharged it into the magazine. And, when I saw it, the wire was still inviting another disaster. I found in Eshref Pasha a most interesting and amiable personage, out of his place completely in the management of a turbulent and really hostile Christian population, with whom his very best qualities were a disqualification. Eshref was a poet, a dreamer, and, I was told, the second man of letters in the empire. He laughingly asked me if I had been at Podgoritza, and I as good-humoredly replied that I had not come to complain of my treatment there, but to pay my compliments to a fellow man of letters. His broad, good-natured face lighted up with pleasure, and, dropping politics and fighting, we talked poetry and letters. Secretaries and messengers were coming and going with papers to be signed, or orders to be given, and we could talk only by interludes. I remarked that he must have little time for letters in all this complication of cares, and he replied that "poetry was his refuge in the night when he was unable to sleep; he had no other time." I tried to get a sample of his verse, and he recited me one, of which I could judge only by the sound, which was very musical; but to my urging for a copy for publication in England he objected that translators were not good for the reputation of a poet, which we all know. I assured him of the entire competence of literary London to render him the completest justice, and he finally yielded in the spirit to my solicitations, but put them to the rout in the letter; for, though he promised the script for the next morning, it never came. It is curious that Eshref fell through his good faith, for when, a few months later, the Porte issued an irade asking for indication of the reforms needed in the provinces, he replied by calling the population to formulate their wants, which they did, asking for the reopening of the Drin so as to facilitate the draining of the Lake of Scutari, the making of roads and a railway from Scutari to Antivari on the seacoast. The Porte, unaccustomed to be taken at its word, recalled the poet, who shared the fate of his great predecessor Ovid.
The splendid victory of Muratovizza led to the recall of our old enemy Shefket Pasha, who was sent to Bulgaria and replaced in the Herzegovina by a more competent and humane man, an old friend of Cretan days, Raouf Pasha, one of the most competent and liberal Circassian officers in the service of the Sultan. Of the operations which followed I have no direct cognizance, and I am not writing the history of the war, except as it mingles with my own experiences. The lull that followed the change of command left me time to study Montenegro and its people, and I made many friends. The battle at Muratovizza had developed a quarrel between Socica, who commanded there with a most distinguished ability, and old Peko Pavlovich, who had refused his coöperation in the battle, to the great diminution of the consequences of the victory. Peko had now come to follow the suggestions of the Russian consulate at Ragusa, from which his fortunate rival would accept no indications. The Russian Slavonic committees had begun to work, and their contributions and influence, more than the direct action of their government, gradually brought the whole movement under Russian influence. I noticed here again what had happened in Crete, that the Russian agents, profiting by the irresponsibility which must always be the accompaniment of a despotic government so extensive as that of Russia, acted without orders and on their own inspiration, sometimes with disastrous results. The personal rivalry between Derché and his Russian colleague in the beginnings of the Cretan troubles had, I have no doubt, a much greater influence on the event of all the negotiations than any desire of the Russian government to provoke an insurrection, and so here the feuds that arose between the agents of the Slavonic committees and the consulate at Ragusa no doubt refracted the intentions of the authorities at St. Petersburg more than was suspected.
There is no doubt that Jonine, on his own responsibility and in opposition to the wishes of the Czar, did what he could to stimulate the movement in Herzegovina, and that this was the tendency of all the Russian agents in the Balkans. Of this I had many opportunities of assuring myself, and, as I sympathized in that feeling, I had no difficulty in finding it where it existed. Those agents systematically provoked hostility to Turkey, which was natural and consistent with the good of the people, for the Turkish abuses are incurable and always merit rebellion, but also against Austria, which was unjust and aggravated the trouble of the rayahs needlessly. The Slavonic committees in Russia, too, went far beyond the desire of the government, and there were continual rivalries between them and the consular agents, the latter feeling obliged to outbid the committees to keep their influence. They had, generally, the mania of activity and zeal, and commonly went beyond their orders, trusting that if the luck followed them they would be approved, and if it deserted them they would find protection in the surroundings of the throne, as they generally did, activity in the Slavonic cause covering many sins against discipline. During the lull after the defeat of Servia (to anticipate a little the course of my narrative), I made the acquaintance of the Russian General Tcherniaieff at an English watering-place. We became great friends, for personally I have always liked the Russians, and he told me with no little glee how he had outwitted the Czar, who, learning that he intended to go to Herzegovina to fight, called him and made him swear that he would not go to "fight with those brigands, the Herzegovinians." He swore, and then went, evading the surveillance of the police and with a false passport, to Belgrade, where he gave himself to inciting the Servians to war, and, when Servia declared war the following spring, he commanded the army. So he never came to Herzegovina or to Montenegro, and he was personally hostile to the Prince, as I found most Russian officers to be. But he assured me that the Czar was bitterly opposed to the movement, and that if it had been suspected that he was going to the Balkans he would have been arrested. The prudence of the Czar is always in danger of being nullified by the imprudence of his agents.
The pressure of the Turkish government on Montenegro became severe, and the Prince, in the failure of Servia to respond to the Montenegrin proposals to fight it out, was unwilling to take the responsibility of a war. But the Sultan inclined to war so strongly that Raouf Pasha, who advised him that his army was not prepared for it, was recalled, partly on account of that advice, and partly because he declared that the insurrection was to a great extent justified by the bad government of Bosnia, and was replaced by Achmet Mukhtar, later the Ghazi, who came breathing flames and extermination. The bands of Montenegrins were ordered to leave the frontier of the principality, and came down to the vicinity of Ragusa; and as the interest at Cettinje diminished I followed the war. The winter set in with great and unremembered rigor, the refugees suffered the greatest misery, and many of the Turkish troops in the high mountain country died of exposure. I saw deserters at Ragusa who declared that there would be very general desertion were it not that the troops were assured, and believed, that, if they deserted, the Austrian authorities would certainly send them back to their regiments.
Before this the "Times" had come to the conclusion that the movement had come to stay awhile, and I was informed that I should be henceforward placed in the position of its special correspondent. As I had thoroughly mastered the field and enjoyed the confidence and friendship of the Prince, I had, as long as the war lasted, no rival on the English press. The suffering amongst the families of the Herzegovinians, exiled almost en masse into Dalmatia and Montenegro, was very great; but the influence of the letters which appeared in the "Times" produced a wide and happy charitable movement, and I received at Ragusa supplies of money and clothing, which made the wretched Christians bless England continually. I had a sharp attack of bronchitis from the absolute impossibility of finding quarters where I could do my work in a tolerable comfort; for the usual mildness of the climate of Dalmatia leaves every house unprovided for the cold, which that winter was unprecedentedly severe. I used to sit at my writing-table wrapped in all the blankets I could keep on me. Fireplaces seemed to be unknown.
On the Greek Christmas (January 6) I met at the house of Colonel Monteverde, the agent of the Russian committees, a number of the insurgent chiefs who had come in for a consultation, the forces of the insurrection having separated into two general commands in consequence of the quarrel between Peko and Socica. Socica remained in supreme command in the mountainous Piva district, now buried under the snow, and Peko took the direction in the lower country, and established himself at the old camp at Grebci, driving Ljubibratich and his Herzegovinians out of the field. Peko had then a force of about 1500 men, and Mukhtar did not attempt an attack, but, having made a military promenade through the lower Herzegovina, went back to Mostar and into comfortable winter quarters. Peko took position astride the road from Ragusa to Trebinje, and held the latter place effectually blockaded. A provision train was about to leave Ragusa, and a force of five battalions of Turkish regulars, with 400 irregulars and six guns, was sent from Trebinje as escort. A force of two companies was posted on two hills commanding the road about midway, and, though Peko had decided to wait for the train, he, being a natural strategist, saw that this force must be disposed of to give him a clear field. He accordingly attacked the main body and drove it back to Trebinje with a loss of 250 men (counted by the noses brought in). He then put a cordon around the posts on the hills, lest the men should escape in the night, and, having prepared for an assault the next morning, sent us word to join him. He promised to send us horses for the journey at daylight, and we went to the rendezvous breakfastless, not to lose time, but he forgot us, and, after waiting for the horses till past 8 A.M., we set out on foot.
The snow lay a few inches deep, but the sun had come out strong, and it was melted in patches, so that we stepped alternately in mud and in snow, slipping and picking our way in the best haste we might until 2 P.M., when we arrived at Vukovich, a tiny village where Peko had his headquarters for the moment, the entire population having taken refuge across the frontier. Here the Russians had established an ambulance, and we found the wounded coming in, and some young Russian medical students dressing the wounds. We could hear the firing, and the echoes of it rolling around the hills, and even the shouting of the chiefs in the, to us, inarticulate insults to the enemy and encouragement to their own men. One of the surgeons took his rifle and offered himself as guide to the battlefield.
Vukovich is in a deep hollow, and, as we rose on the ridge that separated it from the higher land on which the fight was going on, a rifle ball sung over my head and went on into the village. Others followed, some plunging into the earth near us, and some striking the rocks. We were just in the range of the insurgents, who were fighting up hill on the farther side of the hill, round the summit of which was the circle of breastworks held by the doomed Turkish force, and the bullets of the assailants ranged over to us. It was my first experience under a prolonged fire, though not of being fired at, and I must admit that it put me in a terrible funk. I put the largest Montenegrin of the group which accompanied us between myself and the firing party. I had not eaten a crumb since the day before, or taken even a cup of coffee, and my legs were in cramp from the hard walking for six hours in mud and snow, and I was ready to drop from fatigue and hunger. One of the chiefs who came by on his way to the ambulance, where the ghastly procession of wounded was now coming in, seeing me pale and exhausted, offered me his flask of slievovits (plum brandy), of which I drank a half-tumbler raw. The effect was marvelous, and enabled me clearly to understand the meaning of the familiar term "Dutch courage," so that I watched from afar the fight to the end without a return of funk.
The Turks were entrenched within a double line of stone wall, concentric, and the insurgents were fighting upwards, and when we came on the scene the fighting was still at the lower wall. Presently there was a more rapid firing, then a moment's lull, and then the firing broke out again from the upper breastwork. The insurgents had charged and carried the lower line and reversed it, and the poor Turks surviving were driven into the inner circle of about a hundred feet in diameter, out of which not one could hope to come alive. The rest of the garrison of Trebinje were so cowed by the result of the fighting the day before that they dared not come out to the relief of their comrades.
And so the night fell on us, and the bands returned to their camp, leaving a cordon to pen in the few remaining Turks. We had many wounded, and a few killed, amongst whom was Maxime Bacevich, voivode of Baniani, and a cousin of the Prince of Montenegro, one of the bravest of the brave, whose death was moaned over by all as we gathered together that night in the large hut that served as headquarters. It was a stone cabin of one room, at one end the stall for the cattle, and in the centre a fireplace, the smoke from which went out by a hole in the roof. Three sides of the room were surrounded by a stone platform, wide enough for the tallest man to lie with his feet to the fire; but there was no furniture, not even a bundle of straw. This was the bed of fifty men, lying side by side on the bare stone, my pillow being my felt hat, and my bedding my overcoat. The fire was hot, and the smell indescribable,—fifty pairs of dirty feet, and the bodies of fifty men, most of whom had not washed for a month, with the cattle stall at the end,—that was our lodging; but, tired as I was, I slept. At daylight the scouts came in to tell us that in the night the little body of Turks had escaped, probably through a sleeping cordon, and scattered up and down along the road between Ragusa and Trebinje, the most of them having been caught and killed as they ran. There was no mercy in this war, and a man who was left behind was a dead man. One of the fugitives had nearly reached Trebinje when he was met in the way by a Herzegovinian, of whom he begged for quarter in the usual Turkish form, "aman" (mercy), to which the Herzegovinian replied "taman" (enough), and cut him down.
A week or more elapsed before Mukhtar Pasha, hurrying from Mostar, could concentrate troops enough to clear the road and provision Trebinje, and then he succeeded only by the most infantile blunders on the part of the Christian forces. From that time until the spring there was a succession of isolated conflicts with no connection, the Turks attempting to provision the little fortresses in the mountains, and the insurgents to damage the Turks as much as opportunity permitted. The powers were by this time thoroughly aroused, and the Austrian intervention followed. Baron Rodich, the governor of Dalmatia, called a conference of the insurgent chiefs at Sutorina to arrange a pacification. I went to see Rodich, a shrewd, precise functionary, liberal, as far as one could well be in his position, and I saw at once that, while he was determined to obey his orders, and urge a pacification because it was in accordance with his orders, he had no faith in success, and had a great sympathy with the insurgents. He was peremptory, and had a soldier-like aversion to special correspondents; but he was very just, and might have done much had the situation admitted any other result than the fighting it out. The Turks would make no concession and admit no reverse, and the insurgents, having been victorious in three out of four combats, and having brought the Turkish forces into the most desperate demoralization (as I was able to learn by the Turkish deserters who came daily into Ragusa), were not in the least disposed to relinquish the hold on the position they had won. In the rude shelter obtainable within the Austrian territory there were thousands of women, children, and wounded men, supported by the charity of Europe, now largely excited, leaving the active insurgents free for their operations.
At Ragusa I watched the course of events with informants in every part of the field of action, having become by this time regarded as the unflinching friend of the insurrection, to whom all good Slavs were under obligation of service. I then made the acquaintance and acquired the friendship of that admirable diplomat whose subsequent career and mine have repeatedly crossed each other, Sir Edward Monson, then diplomatic agent at Ragusa, and of a brave and good soldier, the Austrian commander, General Ivanovich, of whom and of whose excellent family I have the most delightful recollections, and whose society during all the time I remained in Ragusa was my sole social refuge from the wretched life of a special correspondent in half-civilized regions. It was a poetic and attractive household, and the light of it, the beauty of Madame Ivanovich and her two daughters, and the serenity which fell on me when I entered it, remain in my memory as the sunny oasis in the life of that period. Then, too, I made the acquaintance of an eminent scholar who was to be for many years after the stanchest of friends and allies, Professor Freeman, the great historian, but greater humanitarian, whose too early death I still feel to be my great personal loss. He had two companions, of whom one was Lord Morley, who had come to Ragusa to see what there was in the affair of the Herzegovina; and to their impressions was no doubt due much of the weight given to the "Times" reports subsequently.
Between fruitless negotiations, attempts to delude the insurgents by insincere promises, and the greatest efforts on the part of my soi-disant friend, Danish Effendi, to win over the body of correspondents by this time collected at Ragusa (he told me in so many words that he had informed the Turkish government that my pen was worth 40,000 francs to it), the rest of the winter passed away quietly. It was evident that war would be declared in the spring between the principalities and Turkey, and I went home thoroughly worn out and ill. I went by the way of Venice, and had my first sight of the city coming in at early morning from Trieste by steamer. Accustomed as I had been to the color of Turner as the aspect of the Grand Canal, it seemed to me that what I saw from the steamer was the ghost of Venice, pallid, wan, faded to tints which were only the suggestion of Turner's, but still lovely in their fading, and the impression was more pathetic than it would have been with all the glow of the great Englishman's palette. My wife met me at the steamer, and we went home by short stages, for I was too weak to bear a long railway journey.
I returned to Montenegro in the following June, after the diplomacy of Europe had vainly and discordantly discussed mediation all the winter. An armistice had suspended hostilities, but the Turks continued the concentration of troops on the frontiers of the principality, north and south, and refused the conditions of the Prince for a peaceful solution. Everything waited for the acceptance by Servia of the programme for the war which was to be declared by the principalities against Turkey. The official declaration of war took place on the 2d of July, and on the 3d the Prince set out with flying banners for the conquest of the Herzegovina. My orders being to remain in touch with the telegraph, I had to resign the pleasure of the campaign, and I passed the time in studying up accessories. The Prince started directly for Mostar, accompanied by the Austrian military attaché, Colonel Thoemel, one of the most intensely anti-Montenegrin Austrian officials I ever met. If the Austrian government had intended to inflict on the Prince the most humiliating censor in its service, and make the relations between the governments as bad as possible, they could not have chosen an agent more effective than Thoemel. In his hatred of Montenegro and enjoyment of the fortiter in re, he entirely threw off the suaviter in modo. He enjoyed intensely every petty humiliation he could inflict on the Prince, who, with the greatest tact, never noticed his rudeness. The maintenance of good relations with Austria tasked the Prince's diplomacy to the utmost. As I saw nothing of the campaign, I will dispose of it by saying that, when the Prince had nearly reached Mostar, the colonel informed him officially that if he took Mostar he would be driven out of it by the Austrian army, and, after a slight skirmish on the hills commanding the city, the Prince took the road towards Trebinje. Meanwhile the operations on the southern frontier, under the direction of the amiable and competent Bozo Petrovich, remained for my observation.
One of the chiefs of clans who were waiting at Cettinje for the plan of the southern campaign was Marko Millianoff, hereditary chief of the Kutchi, an independent Slav tribe on the borders of Albania, generally allied in the frontier operations with the Montenegrins. The Turks desired particularly to subdue this people in the outset of the campaign, as their territory commanded the upper road from Podgoritza to Danilograd, and hostilities commenced with an attack on them. While waiting I made the acquaintance of Marko, whom I found to be one of the most interesting characters I met in Montenegro. His courage and resource in stratagem were proverbial in the principality. I had a capital Ross field-glass, and amused him one day by showing its powers. He had never seen a telescope before, and his delight over it was childlike. "Why," he exclaimed in rapture, "this is worth a thousand men." "Then take it," I said, "and I hope it will prove worth a thousand men." His force of 2500 men was then blockading the little fortress of Medun, a remotely detached item of the defensive system of Podgoritza, and on the next day he set out for his post.
I saw him some months later, and he told me that when the great sortie from Podgoritza to relieve Medun came in view of the blockading force, though at a distance of several miles, his men declared that they could not fight that immense army, which filled the valley with its numbers and had the appearance of a force many times greater than their own. Marko looked at it through the glass and found it to be mainly a provision train, for Medun was on the verge of starvation, the garrison having "shaken out the last grain of rice from their bags," to use the expression of the moment. When Marko's men found the actual number of fighting men in the Turkish sortie, they decided to fight it out. They didn't mind ten to one, they said, but much more than that had appeared to confront them. The Turks, commanded by Mahmoud Pasha, a good Hungarian general, were about 20,000 men,—as I afterwards learned from various sources, including the English consulate at Scutari,—comprising 7000 Zebeks, barbarians from the country back of Smyrna, accustomed to the yataghan, and supposed to be qualified opponents of the Montenegrins in the employment of the cold steel. Marko fought retreating from the morning until about 2 P.M., when the Turks stopped to eat, having driven the Montenegrin force back and toward Medun about three miles. When the Turks had eaten and began to smoke, Millianoff gave the word to charge; and though the Turks had built thirteen breastworks to fall back on as they advanced, they yielded to the vigorous assault of the first line, and the Montenegrins swept through the whole series with a rush, not permitting the Turks to form again or gather behind one, and drove those who escaped under the walls of Podgoritza, leaving 4700 dead on the way, for no prisoners were taken. Millianoff said, when I saw him again, "Your glass saved us the battle," which was virtually the preservation of the independence of the tribe, and possibly the decision of the campaign on that side. The fortress was obliged, a little later, to surrender, and in the subsequent siege of Niksich the artillery taken at Medun served a very good purpose, being heavier than anything the Montenegrins had.
I had secured for correspondent with the Prince the services of his Swiss secretary, an excellent fellow by the name of Duby; and, as all the interest of the war for the moment lay in the campaign of the Prince against Mostar and its consequences, I arranged to have my news at Ragusa by telegraph, and there I went for the time being. On the 28th of July I received at 11 P.M. the news of the battle of Vucidol, in which the army of Mukhtar Pasha was routed and nearly destroyed, Mukhtar himself barely escaping by the speed of his horse, entering the gate of Bilek only a hundred yards in advance of his foremost pursuer, his wounded horse falling in the gateway. Of his two brigadiers, one, Selim Pasha, a most competent and prudent general, was killed, and the other, Osman Pasha, the Circassian, taken prisoner. He lost all his artillery, and thirteen out of twenty-five battalions of regulars, two hundred prisoners being taken; but while these were en route to Cettinje they became alarmed and showed a disposition to be refractory, and were put to death at once by the escort. The ways of warfare in those parts were, in spite of all the orders of the Prince, utterly uncivilized, the Montenegrin wounded being always put to death if they fell into the hands of the enemy, and no quarter being given in battle by the Montenegrins, though Turks who surrendered in a siege were kept as prisoners during the war. I had seen Mukhtar at Ragusa during the conference at the time of the armistice, and he bore out in his personal appearance the description which Osman Pasha gave of him,—dreamy, fanatical, ascetic, who gave his confidence to no one, and who said, when Selim proposed a council of war before Vucidol, "If my fez knew what was in my head I would burn it," and refused to listen to the cautionary measures Selim advised preliminary to the attack. The ascetic and the fanatic was written in his face. Returning to Cettinje, I found Osman there a prisoner on parole, and at my intercession he was permitted to accompany me to Ragusa, where I returned after a few days, life in Montenegro being intolerably dull except during the fighting.
The next movement on the part of the Turks, which was expected to be one by Dervish Pasha, from the base of Podgoritza towards Cettinje, called me into the field again. We took position along the heights of Koumani, on the verge of the great table-land which intervenes between Rieka and Danilograd, and from which we could see the Turkish camps spread out on the plain below us; and if the Turks had but known where we were, they might have thrown their shells from the blockhouses in the plain into our camp. There was no attack for the moment, and the scouts of the Montenegrins used to amuse themselves by arousing the Turkish camps in the night or by stealing the horses and mules from the guards set over them. A band of seven stole, during this suspension of operations, forty horses and brought them into the camp, and one, more cunning and light-footed than the rest, stole the pasha's favorite horse from the tent where he was guarded by two soldiers sleeping at the entrance, and brought him to the Prince at Koumani. He had to take the precaution of wrapping the creature's hoofs in rags before bringing him out of the tent. When the object was to stir the Turks out of their rest, a half-dozen men would crawl up to the stone wall which they invariably threw up around the camp, and lay their rifles on it, for there was never a sentry set, and fire rapidly into the tents as many shots as they could before rousing the camp, and then scatter and run. The whole battalion would turn out and continue firing in every direction over the country for half an hour, while the artillery, as soon as the guns could be manned, followed the example, and almost every night we were roused from our sleep by the booming of the guns.
The early collapse of the Servian defense led, after some negotiations, to a truce, and diplomacy took up the matter, and in September I went home again. The "Times" correspondence had given the Montenegrin question serious importance in England, and during the winter I had several opportunities to discuss it with men of influence, amongst whom were Gladstone and the Marquis of Bath, who invited me to pass some days at Longleat to inform him more completely on it. During my last stay in Montenegro I had been informed by Miss Irby—one of the women who distinguish their English race by their angelic charity and works for humanity, and who, being engaged in benevolent work in Bosnia, became one of my firm allies—that reports had been put in circulation in London against my probity and the trustworthiness of my correspondence, imputing to me indeed a conduct which would have excluded me from honorable society. This was the work of the pro-Turkish party, enraged by the sympathy evoked by my correspondence on behalf of the Montenegrins, and Sir Henry Elliott had made himself the mouthpiece of it. Mr. Gladstone, having become warmly interested in the little mountain principality by my correspondence, had taken its case up in a strong review article, and had persuaded Tennyson to devote a sonnet to it. He was, as he himself informed me, warned by Sir Henry Elliott not to trust to my letters or to employ them as authority for his work, for Sir Henry said that I was considered in the Levant, where I was well known, to be an infamous and untrustworthy character. Mr. Gladstone, therefore, though he used my facts, referred them to the authority of a second-hand version. Fortunately for me and my work, Professor Freeman had heard the reports in question, and knowing me personally, and taking the passionate interest he did in the war against the Turks, applied himself to the investigation of the tales, and satisfied himself and Gladstone that they were simple libels, without a shadow of foundation, and even had never been heard of until they were promulgated in London. They were the coinage of political passion.
Gladstone sent me word through Freeman that he wished me to call on him to receive personally his apologies for having believed and been influenced by them, and I went to see him as he requested for that purpose. He told me at the same time that though he did not usually read the "Times," he had taken it to read my letters. He asked me many questions about the principality, showing his great interest, as well as his political acumen, and amongst the questions was one which, at the time, gave me great thought, and still retains its significance. It was, "Have the Montenegrins any institutions on which a national future can be built?" He was desirous of knowing if Montenegro could be made the nucleus of a great south Slavonic organization. I was unable to give him any assurance of the existence of anything beyond the primitive and patriarchal state which fitted its present position, in which a personal government by a wise prince is sufficient to reach all the needs of the population. And to-day I am of the opinion that a greatly enlarged Montenegro would run the danger of becoming a little Russia, in which the best ruler would be lost in the intricacies of the intrigues and personal ambitions that facilitate corruption and injustice, and where the worst ruler might easily become a curse to all his neighbors. Gladstone's good-will had its issue later in the enforced restitution to Montenegro of the district of Antivari and Dulcigno, which the Montenegrin army had taken, but evacuated, pending the disposition of the congress which after S. Stefano regulated the treaty of peace.
Lord Bath, beside the political question, was interested in the religious situation of the principality, which has maintained its national existence and character through its form of ecclesiastical organization, that of the Orthodox faith. He had sent me on two occasions considerable sums of money for the wounded and the families of the killed in the war, and always took a vivid interest in its fortunes. He repeated to me a conversation he had had at Longleat with Beaconsfield, in which he had asked the minister what interest England had in Montenegro that induced the government to give it aid and countenance, as it did after a certain stage in the war. Beaconsfield had replied that "England had no interest whatever in Montenegro, but that the letters in the 'Times' had created such an enthusiasm for the principality that the government had been obliged to take it into account." The Prince was fully informed on this score, and he and all his people recognized the debt they owed the "Times," and, as an exception to all my political experience, they have shown themselves a grateful people, and Prince as well as people have always shown their gratitude in all ways that I could permit. The Greeks almost unanimously became hostile to me when I became the advocate of a Slavonic emancipation, and of the Hellenic friends I made while in Crete, Tricoupi alone of men of rank remained my personal friend after the Montenegrin campaigns.
Amongst the Russian fellow campaigners there were several with whom I contracted friendships which endure, chief among them being Wassiltchikoff, the head of the Red Cross staff, who was also dispenser of the bountiful contributions of the Russian committees for the wounded and the families of the killed. I must confess a strong liking for the Russian individual, and I have hardly known a Russian whom I did not take to, in spite of a looseness in matters of veracity in which they are so unlike the Anglo-Saxon in general. I think that the time is coming when the evolution of the Russian character will make the race the dominant one in Europe; and that, when the vices inherent in a people governed despotically have been outgrown, they will develop a magnificent civilization, which, in poetry, in music, and in art, even, may distance the West of to-day. But in the crude and maleficent despotic form of government which now obtains, they are likely to menace for a long time the well-being of the world. The struggle between the German and the Slav, however long it may be postponed, is inevitable, and the defeat of the German secures the Russian domination of Europe. Napoleon's alternative, "Cossack or Republican," is substantially prophetic, though the terms are more probably "Despotic or Constitutional." I have no animosity toward Russia, but any advance of her influence in the Balkans seems to me to be a battle gained by her in this conflict. Established at Constantinople, her next stage would be Trieste; and the ultimate Russification of all the little Slavonic nationalities of the Balkans, of which she is now the champion, becomes inevitable. The only safeguard against this is the maintenance of Austria as the suzerain power in the peninsula.
But, for the personal Russian, as I have said, I have always had a thorough liking, and all through the Montenegrin campaigns I held those who were there as warm friends. The official Russians were not, however, popular in Montenegro, the people possessing an unusual degree of independence, and the Russians attaching more importance to their aid and coöperation than the circumstances made it politic to show; and Jonine, who became minister-resident at Cettinje, was, perhaps, the most unpopular foreigner there, while Monson, who became English agent there, was, both with prince and public, the most popular. The entry into the alliance with Russia made little difference in the sentiments of the people, and even the Prince resisted, in an extraordinary and even impolitic degree, the Russian suggestions in the conduct of the war.
With the return of spring I resumed my position, and when I arrived at Cettinje, in the beginning of April, the situation was one which made it politic for the Sultan, had he known his pressing interests, to yield to the conditions on which peace could have been preserved. Montenegro held a position stronger than that of the year before, and the Prince, under diplomatic pressure, withdrew the conditions which he had originally insisted on, except two, viz., the recognition of the independence of the Kutchi and the repatriation of the refugees from Herzegovina, with guarantees for their tranquillity. This latter was a sine qua non of the restoration of Montenegro to its original condition, for the principality was supporting on the slender basis of its always insufficient means a population almost equal to its own, and was already in a state approaching famine. Russia was sending shiploads of corn, and English charity was, as it always is, large, but the retention of the refugees permanently was impossible, even with foreign aid. They were destitute not merely of homes but of earthly goods, to an extent that made them as helpless as children, for there was no more work to be done in the principality than the women were accustomed to do in war time.
Russia declared war on the 25th of April, and the English agent left four days later, warmly saluted by the Prince, who had found in him a true and disinterested friend. Jonine's animosity towards Monson was intense, and as the former, as Russian plenipotentiary, considered himself entitled to give direction to the diplomacy of Cettinje, he was furious over the evident favor with which Monson was regarded by the Prince, who often followed his advice. It was a sore point with the Montenegrins, from the Prince down, that Jonine was so officious in his intervention even in military advice, where he had not the least competence; and in general the Montenegrins resented the dictation of the Russian staff, even where it had every reason to urge its own views of the operations. On the occasion of the next birthday of the Czar, which was as usual celebrated in Montenegro by a diplomatic and official dinner, the Prince refused to come to the table, sending Duby to preside. Jonine was extremely unpopular with Prince and people, owing to his dictatorial ways. The Austrian representative had an opening to great influence which he might have seized if he had been a man of tact, but he was ostentatiously hostile to the Prince and the Montenegrin cause. Monson, on the other hand, and Greene, the English consul at Scutari, exerted their influence in every way for the principality, and but for them the supplies of grain from Russia, which had been sent on during the armistice and had been maliciously delayed by the authorities at Scutari as they came by water through the Boyana, would probably have been stopped at the critical moment by the outbreak of hostilities.
The news of the declaration of war by Russia produced immense enthusiasm in the principality, and the people now felt that they were in a position to fight out with the Turks the quarrel of four hundred years. With the Prince and his staff, I went to the new headquarters at Orealuk, where he had a little villa nearly midway between the pass to the plain of Niksich and Podgoritza. The southern frontier was held by the division of "Bozo" (Bozidar) Petrovich on the west of the Zeta, and on the east by that of the minister of war, Plamenaz, posted on the heights over Spuz. They were opposed by Ali Saib Pasha and two or three subordinate generals. On the north, at Krstaz, was Vucotich, the father-in-law of the Prince, a brave man, but neither a good general nor a good administrator, and to his incompetence as strategist the Montenegrins were indebted for the egregious failure of the northern defense. This failure at one moment menaced the total collapse of the Montenegrin campaign, from which the ability of Bozo saved it. Suleiman Pasha, later distinguished by his Bulgarian campaign, had replaced Mukhtar, and had spent three months in drilling and disciplining his troops for the Montenegrin method of fighting. The terrible passes of the Duga offered ideal positions for a defense by such a force as the Montenegrin,—brave, good shots, and absolutely obedient to orders; and the best military advice on our side pronounced them impregnable if properly defended.
So the Prince went to Ostrog, and the northern army took position on the plain of Niksich, the advance posts being connected with headquarters at Ostrog by telegraph, and I took up my quarters with the Prince in the convent. With great ability, Suleiman out-manoeuvred Vucotich in the Duga, and debouched in the plain near Niksich before the Montenegrin army could reach Plamnitza, where the valley of the Zeta and our position at Ostrog were to be defended, and if Suleiman had pushed on without stopping to recruit he might have taken us all in our quarters. The mendacious dispatches of victory from the Montenegrin commander gave us to believe that the Turks were kept at bay, until we found that they were actually in Niksich, and there was not a single battalion to serve as bodyguard to the Prince at Ostrog. Simultaneously with the attack on Duga, the army of Ali Saib attacked on the south; but, defeated most disastrously two days in succession, was obliged to relinquish the effort to meet Suleiman in Danilograd, where, if united, they would have held the principality by the throat.
The reports of the fight from Bozo sent me down to get the details of the victory, of which he had given me by telegraph a summary account, and I arrived at his headquarters at Plana, overlooking the Turkish movements, late that afternoon, accepting an invitation to pass the night and see the operations of the next day. Until I arrived at his camp Bozo had received no information of the passage of the Duga, nor of the relief of Niksich; but I had not been with him two hours before we saw the smoke arising from the villages on the northern slopes of the heights that commanded the head of the valley of the Zeta, which connects the plains of Niksich and Podgoritza and divides Montenegro into two provinces, anciently two principalities,—the Berdas and the Czernagora or Black Mountain. This conflagration showed that Suleiman had crowned the heights, and would have no more difficulty in descending through the valley to Danilograd. Suleiman's campaign was planned on the idea of a triple attack on the heart of Montenegro, by himself from Krstaz, Ali Saib from Spuz, and Mehemet Ali, my old friend in Crete, from Kolashin via the upper Moratsha, the three armies to meet at Danilograd. Ali Saib and Mehemet Ali were disastrously defeated, though before I left Plana in the morning a third attack from Spuz was begun, and fought out under my eyes while I waited, the Turks being driven back again.
I started for a leisurely ride back to Ostrog, and half way there met a fugitive who told me that the Turks were at the convent, and the Prince retreating on the western side of the valley. Another half hour and I should have been in the hands of the irregulars, who were skirmishing and burning, killing and plundering, as they followed the eastern side, the two armies being hotly engaged in the forests along the crest of the mountains above us around Ostrog. I retrograded to Plana, and thence, by the urgent counsels of Bozo, to Cettinje, as the position was critical, and the campaign might take an unexpected turn and make my escape impossible.
The army of Suleiman took ten days of fighting to cover the distance I had made in three hours' leisurely ride, and reached the plain of Spuz so exhausted and decimated that Suleiman had to reorganize it before he could make another move. He had narrowly escaped a great disaster, possibly the surrender of his whole army, only by the incompetence of the Montenegrin commander. He had abandoned all his communications with Niksich, like Sherman at Atlanta in the American war, and had to depend on what he carried with him, for the country offered nothing. Vucotich, instead of intrenching himself with his main force in the woods in front of Suleiman, adopted the tactics of opening to let him pass, and then attacking him in the rear, though he was strong enough to have stopped him and starved him into surrender. As it was he lost 10,000 men in the passage of the Bjelopawlitze. At this moment the English consul at Scutari, Mr. Greene, came to Cettinje and visited the camp of Suleiman, in which visit I wished to imitate him, but he warned me that it would be probably a fatal call, as I would not have been allowed to return. Mr. Greene gave me Suleiman's account of the fighting in the Duga, in which the Turkish general described the Montenegrin attacks as displaying a courage he had never before witnessed. They charged the solid Turkish squares, and, grappling the soldiers, attempted to drag them from the ranks. The Montenegrin loss was 800 killed. The ammunition was bad, and the mountaineers often threw their rifles away and attacked with the cold steel. The average advance of the Turks was about a mile a day.
So we waited for the next news from Suleiman with an anxiety in Cettinje not known for a generation. It was supposed that Suleiman would repeat the campaign of Omar Pasha, moving on Cettinje by Rieka, and all the fighting men were called out and the villages on that side evacuated. In this state of painful expectation the news arrived of the passage of the Danube by the Russian army, and the recall of Suleiman and his army for the defense of the principalities. The relief in Cettinje rose to jubilation, and we all returned to our habitual life.
The Prince, freed from this incubus, prepared for the siege of Niksich in good earnest, and, with the diplomatic representatives and the Russian staff, we returned and pitched our camp in the plain, by the side of a cold spring (Studenitzi), which supplied us with an abundance of water, but within cannon shot of the fortress, the shells from which were going over us continually, striking in the plain a few hundred yards beyond us and bursting harmlessly. If the Turks had understood howitzer practice they could have dropped their shells amongst us without fail. The horses could not graze, and the women who came with their husbands' rations could not reach us without passing within gunshot of the outlying trenches of the Turks, and I have seen a file of them come in, each with a huge loaf of bread on her head, and the bullets from the trenches flying around them, but not one hastening her step or paying the least attention to the danger. This is the habit of the Montenegrin woman, who would consider herself disgraced by a display of fear, no matter what the danger. I have seen them go down to the trenches where their husbands were lying for days together, during which time the wives brought the rations every five days, and they always took the opportunity to discuss the affairs of the household deliberately, though under fire, and walk away as unconcernedly.
But our quarters at Studenitzi were not to the taste of the attachés who took no part in the fighting, and we broke camp, and moved off to the edge of the plain, all the time under the fire of the artillery of the fortress. The Montenegrin artillery was brought up, and one by one the little forts which studded the margin of the broad expanse were taken. The first attacked held out till the shells penetrated its thin walls, and then surrendered unconditionally. The garrison, twenty or more Albanian nizams, were brought to the headquarters, and we all turned out to see them. Bagged, half famished, and frightened they were, and, through an Albanian friend who interpreted for me, I offered them coffee. They looked at me with a surprise in their eyes like that of a wild deer taken in a trap, and resigned to its fate, knowing that escape was impossible; and when they had drunk the coffee they asked if we were going to decapitate them now. When I assured them that there was no more question of their decapitation than of mine, and that they were perfectly safe, they broke into a discordant jubilation like that of a children's school let loose; life had nothing more to give them. They had no desire to be sent back to their battalions, and they stayed with us, drawing the pay and rations they should have had, and rarely got, when under their own flag.
The scene our camp presented was one to be found probably under no other sky than that which spread over us in the highlands of Montenegro. The tents of the Prince, the chiefs, and the attachés were pitched in a circle, in the centre of which at night was a huge camp-fire, round which we sat and listened to stories or discussions, or to the Servian epics sung by the Prince's bard, to the accompaniment of the guzla, to which the assembly listened in a silence made impressive by the tears of the hardened old warriors, most of whom knew the pathetic record by heart, and never ceased to warm with patriotic pride at the legends of the heroic defense, the rout of Kossovo, and the fall of the great empire, of which they were the only representatives who had never yielded to the rule of the Turk. Substitute for the rocky ridge which formed the background of the scene the Dardanelles, and the fleet drawn up on the shore before Troy, and you have a parallel such as no other country in our time could give. Both armies retired to their tents at nightfall, and no sentries or outposts were placed on either side at night; and now and then a long-range skirmish went on, or a Montenegrin brave, tired of the monotony of such a war, would go out between the lines and challenge any Mussulman to come out and try his prowess with a Christian. One pope, Milo, a hero of the earlier war, rode up and down before the Turkish outposts, repeating every day his challenge, and at last the Turks hid a squad of sharpshooters where he used to ride, and brought him down with a treacherous volley, then cut off his head and sent it in to the Prince.
Our guns were not heavy enough to cope with those of the fortress, and so we passed the time shelling the redoubts thrown up on the little hillocks around the town, alternating these operations with an occasional assault of one of the nearest of them when the men got impatient for some active movement. Meanwhile we learned that the Russian government was sending us four heavier guns, sixteen and thirty-two bronze rifled breech-loaders, the heaviest we had being ten-pound muzzle-loaders against a battery of field guns, Krupp steel, breech-loading twelve-pounders. The Russian guns were landed on the Dalmatian coast below Budua and carried across the narrow strip of Austrian territory which separated Montenegro from the sea, between two lines of Austrian troops, lest some indiscreet traveler should reveal the violation of neutrality, and were brought to Niksich, about forty miles, on the shoulders of a detachment of Montenegrins over a roadless mountain country, no other conveyance being possible.
Pending the arrival of the guns, I explored the more remote and by no traveler hitherto visited section of the Berdas, charged by the Russian Red Cross and the English committees with the distribution of a considerable sum of gold amongst the wounded and families of the killed in that section. With a single perianik (one of the Prince's bodyguard) and my horse boy, who served as interpreter, I set out for the great plains of the northeastern provinces, then menaced by an invasion of a strong division from Kolashin, intended to effect a diversion for the relief of Niksich. Climbing the heights which make a rim like the wall of a crater round the plain of Niksich, I reached a table-land (planina) which rolls away to the frontier. I made my first halt at the monastery of Zupa, situated in a lovely valley where the fertility of the land supports a considerable population, and where the Russians had established a hospital. Nothing could exceed the kindness and humanity of those Russian surgeons. There was one poor patient who had received a ball in the mouth, which lodged in the neck and caused a suppuration, involving an artery, which burst into the wound. The carotid was tied, but the operation failed to stop the hemorrhage, and I found the surgeons relieving each other every quarter of an hour in holding a pledget of lint on the wound, in a determined effort to save the man's life if it were physically possible. The hospital was admirably conducted.
In this beautiful valley I waited several days, wandering amongst the hills. There were flocks of wild pigeons and other game in the vicinity, and one morning of summer weather I took my gun and strolled out alone, having no apprehension of personal danger where there was no fighting population. Approaching a village curiously intent, I discovered an old woman, who, on seeing this unexplained stranger, armed, and with no company of her kin, set up a terrible hullabaloo, shouting, "The Turks! The Turks!" and calling the boys to the defense, and in a jiffy the whole village was up in alarm. I ran as fast as I could in the direction of the monastery, conscious that every boy in the valley had some old pistol, and would not even ask the questions I could not answer before immolating me in the defense of his village. Life is of no account in such circumstances, and the explanation would have been made too late to do me any good, but I never walked out again without my interpreter while in that country.
The object of my excursion was the ancient convent of Dobrilovina, then the advanced post towards Kolashin, the Turkish station in Old Servia, and the point from which all invasions from the east entered Montenegro; and the ride was by far the most interesting of all that I made in the two principalities. From the valley of Zupa we rose on a plateau known as the Lola Planina, on which the watershed is to the north and east and into the Danube. We rode through Drobniak a province the right to which was still theoretically disputed between Turk and Christian, the fruition of peace belonging to the latter; that of war to the former, for it always fights with Montenegro, and is periodically ravaged by the Turks. We were on the watershed between the Adriatic and the Euxine, and the brooks were tributary to the Danube through the Tara. The land is an immense upland, rolling slightly, and the finest grass land I ever saw; it is an immense prairie, with the horizon unbroken, except by the picturesque peak of Dormitor at the north, the summit peak of the mountains of upper Herzegovina, and the centre of the glacial system of the lands between the Adriatic and the great Rascian valley which divides Servia and the lower Danube from Montenegro. The flora was entirely new to me. I rode through a thicket of marguerites so tall that the flowers came up to my face, while the grass came up to my horse's belly. This is a great hayfield, and the people come from far to cut and store the hay for the winter, when they harness the stacks and drag them bodily to their villages on the snow, which sometimes falls, they told me, to the depth of fifteen or more feet. To the east stretched the rolling prairie without a house or a village to the Signavina (desolate land) Planina, solitary as the Sahara, for no man would build where a Turkish raid on this disputed land might sweep him and his into one destruction.
That there had been a great population once on these plains was evident from ancient cemeteries with elaborate monuments of an early but unknown people, of whom they are the only remains. The tombs were rudely worked and decorated in prehistoric manner with devices of war or the chase; one device, which I copied, being of an archer shooting a wild goat, another of a warrior with a long broadsword and large square shield. On some tombs were a crescent and star, the emblem of Constantinople; on a few a cross; but there was no attempt at a letter or other sign of language. The entire absence of any ruins within the distance of our journeys (and by the report of the natives there were none in the country round about) made the presence of these cemeteries an archaeological problem to which I obtained no clue until some time later, on the surrender of Niksich. We then discovered that a large part of the town was formed of houses—huts would be more correct—constructed on sledges, huge runners of timber, into which had been driven stakes, forming the frame of the house. The stakes were filled in with willow branches, and the walls were completed with mud, the whole being roofed with thatch. The forward end of the runners was perforated for a bar, to which oxen could be attached, and the house was evidently to be drawn from place to place, as the herds and flocks found food. Of this nature had probably been the towns or villages to which the cemeteries belonged, and their existence still on the plain of Niksich, where they must have been built without any possibility of removal beyond the limits of the plain (which is only about ten miles in its greatest extent, and bounded by abrupt hills), was a curious evidence of the intensely conservative character of the population which had established itself there at a remote epoch.
The sledge houses at Niksich had never been moved, nor would there have been any object in moving them, for the remotest part of the plain was to be reached in a long hour's walk, and the rocky setting of its grassy luxuriance, rising into higher land all round, by steep ridges, would have shown the builders that where the house was built, there it would stand. On these great planinas there might have been a range far greater, but the presence of the cemeteries, which must have been the result of a considerable duration of residence, proved that the planinas now deserted, save for the summer haymakers, had once been held by a considerable population. I desired to open one of the graves, but the superstition of the people, whom no inducement could prevail on to meddle with the dead, made it impossible to find workers to aid me. I can only conjecture, therefore, from the emblems on the tombs and the rudeness of the reliefs, that they must date from early Christian times, probably the so-called Gallic (really Slavonic) invasions prior to Diocletian; and two or three huge and elaborate roadside crosses, cut from single stones and minutely decorated in relief, found nearer Cettinje, added to the conjectural evidence, for the origin of these was equally unknown to the present inhabitants. We passed caves known immemorially as places of refuge and admirably placed and prepared for defense. There is a great and untouched field there for prehistoric research.
We stopped to pass the night at Shawnik, a village in one of the most picturesque ravines I ever saw. There runs the Bukovitza, a tributary of the Drina, a wild and bold trout stream, abounding also in grayling, the trout being unaccustomed to the fly, as they are in most of the streams hereabout. Shawnik lies in the gate to the open country, the gateposts being two huge bastions of rock from which a few riflemen could defy an army until they found a way around through the rough country of Voinik, the chain which lay between us and Niksich. I slept at the house of an Albanian tailor (all the tailors in Montenegro and the Berdas are Albanians) and was made comfortable. We found the voivode of the province, Peiovich, at Aluga, with his headquarters in the schoolhouse, and keeping a lookout for the Turks, who menaced an invasion from Kolashin, a band of them having just attempted to pass the Tara, which bounds the plain on the north, but being driven back with loss. I found Aluga a noble subalpine country, a rolling plateau with here and there a little lake; to the northwest the grand mass of Dormitor, and to the northeast the range of the highlands which border the valleys of Old Servia, while to the east and south the horizon was like that of the sea, an undulating plain rolling far away out of the range of vision. Scattered houses dotted the plain of Aluga, and the children came to stare, and brought us, with the shyness of wild deer, little baskets of strawberries, which in some places in the fir forests almost reddened the ground, and, having pushed the offerings in at the door, ran like wild creatures, as if to escape being noticed. Huge haystacks dotted the plain, and the population seemed prosperous. We pushed on to the frontier post at Dobrilovina through glades of fir-trees with pasture intervening, as the soil was rocky or fertile, and reached the margin of the Tara late in the afternoon, a good day's ride from Aluga.
The Tara has cut itself a cañon like those of the Yellowstone, and on a little space of alluvial land at the bottom lies the convent, a building of the Servian Empire, curiously spared by the Turkish invasions. We descended 2500 feet, measured by my aneroid, to the flat, where the monks made us most welcome. We walked along the river, a rapid and shallow stream filled with trout, which refused to take any lure I could show them,—and the monks said that they ate only the crayfish which abounded in the river.
We went to sleep, to be awakened at midnight by the scouts who came in to tell us that the Turks were out from Kolashin, and that some thousands of Albanians of the Rascian country were raiding in advance, and had already thrown their left far beyond us. Had they known we were there, we might have been taken in a trap from which only fleet fugitives would have escaped. With the dawn we were in our saddles again, and, by the urgent advice of Peiovich, I took the back track, while the battalion threw itself across the country to skirmish, and retard the advance of the Turks while reinforcements could be brought up. "Ride hard," said the voivode, "and keep ahead of the Albanians, for when it comes to fighting we shall probably have to disperse and every man provide for himself, and you do not know the country. Tell the Prince to hurry up reinforcements." I lunched in the schoolhouse of Aluga, and pushed on for Bukowitza and Shawnik, where the invasion would be stopped with certainty. Half way to Bukowitza there burst on us a terrific thunderstorm, with torrents of rain. One bolt struck so near us that the concussion knocked my perianik down, and my horse jumped up on all fours as I never saw a horse do before, but neither was touched by the lightning, and we arrived at the first house of Bukowitza drenched and tired, having knocked the two days' march into one.
The owner of the house at which we asked for shelter said: "What I have you are welcome to, but I have only two rooms, that in which the family sleeps, and the kitchen. You are welcome to the bedroom, but I fear there are too many fleas for you to sleep, and you had better stay in the kitchen." I accepted the kitchen, and after a supper of hot maize bread and trout fresh caught from the nearest brook, the whole flooded with cream, I spread my cork mattress on a long bench which served as chairs for the household, and, covering myself with my waterproof, the only bedding attainable, I went to sleep. I was awakened by the sound of something falling on the waterproof, which I took to be bits of plaster from overhead, but, as it persisted, I struck a light and discovered that it was caused by bugs which, not finding a direct way to me from their nests in the wall, had climbed up and dropped from the ceiling down on me. What with the insects and the chance of being aroused at dawn by an attack of the raiding Albanians, I did not sleep again, and was up at dawn preparing to continue the journey to Shawnik, where alone we could count on being safe from the swarms of bashi-bazouks, whose movements we could already follow in the air by the smoke ascending from house and haystack over the plains we had traversed the day before.
The day had broken fine, and after stopping long enough to make a sketch of the house where I had passed the night, destined like all others in the open country to be burned in the course of the day, I pushed on to the fastness of Shawnik. The advance of the Turks was practically unopposed, for there was only a battalion of Montenegrins against thousands of irregulars and a strong division of regulars, and the Prince, never much troubled about the odds except where he was personally responsible, had not sent a man of the reinforcements which Peiovich had urgently begged for by courier after courier, so he fell back skirmishing until Socica from Piva joined him, when he made a stand.
For several days the two armies watched each other, each waiting for the offensive of the other, until one morning found the plain covered with a fog so dense that the combatants could not see each other one hundred yards away, when the Montenegrins made an attack so furious that the Turks retreated and took refuge across the Tara and withdrew to Kolashin, abandoning the movement and the attempt to relieve Niksich. But the beautiful schoolhouse at Aluga and all the houses and churches on the planina and at Bukowitza, the haystacks which had so picturesquely dotted the plain, and which were to have furnished the winter subsistence of all the flocks of the region, were ashes.
The night at Shawnik had proved as sleepless from fleas as that of Bukowitza from bugs, and, what with the fatigue of the race against time and the lack of any sleep for forty-eight hours, the next day found me laboring under an attack of illness which left me absolutely helpless, with a raging headache and cholera morbus. I dragged myself out into the sun and ordered my horse boy to bring me a bucket of water as hot as I could bear my feet in, and then made him keep it hot with ashes until my feet were almost parboiled, when the headache gradually subsided, leaving me a wilted, helpless being, hardly able to sit in the saddle. I waited another day to recruit, and hoping to hear from Peiovich the result of the invasion; but, hearing that the deadlock might last for days, I returned to Niksich and found the siege still going on as if it were the work of the generation.
To the Prince the siege of Niksich was like a game of chess played by cable, a move a day. But even this brought progress, and, when we had taken the outlying blockhouses, one by one, and there remained only the citadel, a flimsy fortress, mainly, I should judge, the work of the Servian kings, all that remained to accomplish was the bombardment of its walls, which became a sort of spectacle, to which we went day after day to watch the effect of the fire, as we should have done with a game of skittles. I climbed up on the top of a neighboring mountain, and, with my field-glass, inspected the town. Women went and came with their water-pitchers on their heads, moving in serene tranquillity, without quickening a step, and the life of the place seemed absolutely undisturbed by the danger, as if shells did not burst. Now and then one of the houses caught fire and varied the show; the Turkish return fire was mainly directed at the batteries where the great Russian guns were posted, and the Montenegrins used to sit on the rocks around, utterly heedless of the Turkish fire, despising cover. Finally a shell fell and exploded in the midst of a group of men, and, for the time, cover was made compulsory by order of the Prince. But the rank and file grew impatient, and demanded an attack with such insistence that the Prince was obliged to move. There were two steep ridges to the west of the city, crowned by strong stone breastworks and held by considerable detachments of regulars, being positions of supreme importance, as they commanded the redoubts on that side from a distance of 300 to 500 yards. The Prince gave the assault of one to a battalion of Montenegrins, and the other to the Herzegovinian auxiliaries.
There was in our camp a young German officer who had been under a shadow, and had been sent away to retrieve his reputation for courage. He came to Montenegro to earn a decoration, and begged the Prince to let him go with the Montenegrin battalion. At the foot of each ridge was an outwork which had first to be taken by assault, from across the open, and which was taken in the early twilight, the Turks seeking refuge in the redoubt above. The Montenegrin force reversed the works they had taken, and a desultory rifle fire went on till it was too dark to see the sights of the rifles. We, the spectators, were assigned posts to see the spectacle as at the theatre, and went to them just after sundown. The straggling fire of the early twilight stopped, and there was an unbroken silence and immobility which lasted perhaps twenty minutes, and until everything had become vague and indefinable in the deepening twilight, when we heard the signal, given by a trumpet call, and instantly the steep sides of the two ridges were crawling with gray shadows, and a terrific fire burst out from the redoubts at the top, lasting for hardly ten minutes, when it as suddenly ceased; and then, after a brief pause, the Montenegrin trumpet sounded from the summit of their ridge to tell that the work was done. We trooped back to our tents and to supper, and presently came in our little German friend, unharmed and exultant. His account was graphic. The Montenegrins had taken the outwork, working up on hand and knee, crawling and firing from such cover as they could find until the Turks broke and escaped to the summit, and the Montenegrins lay close behind the wall they had taken. When the trumpet sounded they threw their rifles down, drew their sword bayonets, and made a rush with the naked steel. The fire broke out from the redoubt above, said our little German, with a roar that was absolutely appalling; it was as if the sky were woven with whistling missiles, and but for very shame, seeing the rage of combat in the men around him, he would have lain down in overmastering panic. But no man halted, and the race between the two battalions was won by the Montenegrins only by a minute, and they poured over the wall of the redoubts, the Turks who could escape going out at the rear as their assailants poured in. When it comes to this final charge, the Montenegrin always leaves his gun behind and trusts only to the cold steel.
The next morning a flag of truce came to ask for terms, and the town surrendered on condition of the garrison going out with their arms and their private property. We went out to see them defile past the Prince and his staff. The poor fellows were in rags, and the bundles they carried on their backs contained everything they had in the world. Wives and children in numbers followed or preceded, and to our attempts to show them little kindnesses they shrank from us as if we had been wolves, the children generally howling with fear when we offered them a biscuit or a coin. One of our battalions escorted them through the narrows of the Duga, and, when they reached the wild and bosky gorge which makes its strongest position, the women stopped in a paralysis of panic, asking if this was the place where they were to be butchered, so completely had the Turkish authorities impressed on them the fiction of infallible slaughter for all who fell into the hands of the Montenegrins. The Prince gave the inhabitants four days to choose whether they would stay and become his subjects or take all their possessions and go to Albania. The most had decided to stay, when word was sent them from Spuz that all who accepted the protection of the Prince would be expelled and have all their property confiscated when the Turks returned, and many were frightened into revocation of their submission. Some were as irreconcilable as wolves, and would not endure conversation with us. I found a little fellow, about five or six, pasturing a lamb in the outskirts of the town, and tried, with the aid of the interpreter, to enter into conversation with him, but to no effect. He repelled every advance, and, when I offered him a piastre, he refused it with a savage dignity, saying that he had money of his own and did not want mine.
We took an immense booty in provisions, artillery (nineteen guns), tents, and war material, left by Suleiman in the expectation of returning after he had made the conquest of Montenegro. Ammunition there was none, for the artillery had been supplied with old muzzle-loading pistol and other cartridges broken up for the last weeks of the siege. And so ended the contest of four hundred years.
The easy terms accorded by the Prince to the garrison of Niksich brought their compensation a little later, when, the liberated garrison being besieged anew in the impregnable fortress of Spizza dominating the road from Dalmatia to Antivari, they gave in without a serious defense, satisfied with the honors of war. It was clear, from the testimony I was able to collect from Turkish deserters and prisoners, that the obstinate defense of the garrisons under siege was oftener due to the desperation inspired by the assurance of the Turkish authorities themselves, that no quarter would be given to those who surrendered, than to the bellicose ardor. A captain of the Turkish nizams, who had commanded one of the little fortresses beyond Niksich, and who surrendered to Socica when he knew that his tower was undermined and would be blown up in a minute if he did not surrender, declined to be released, as he knew that, whatever might happen to his men, he would be shot for surrendering, and no account taken of the necessity of saving the life of his men, to say nothing of his own. The method of Socica in attacking those towers, which were of stone, without any artillery, was to construct a wooden tower on wheels, strong enough to resist rifle balls, and which, moved by the men inside, approached the fortress, till actually in contact, when a mine was put under the wall and the garrison was summoned to surrender.
Our Albanian captain preferred the climate of Cettinje to that of Podgoritza, and there I made his acquaintance. He had not received a penny of his pay for forty months, and was in rags and shoeless in the depth of winter, when I knew him. I bought him some shoes and second-hand clothes, and interested the Prince in his case, so that finally he was given a place on the staff and regular pay. The gratitude of the poor fellow was embarrassing. He begged me to take him as a body servant, declaring himself ready to go with me to the world's end, and I could hardly make him understand that a servant would be a burden to me which I could not afford. He said to one of the Montenegrin officers, "When I say my prayers for myself I always ask God to be good to that English gentleman." As with most of the men of his race whom I have made the acquaintance of, his native faculties were of a high order. The Albanians are quick, ingenious, and industrious, and are the best workmen in the finer industrial arts of the Balkans, gold and silver workers of remarkable skill, dividing the blacksmithing with the gypsy, but the best and indeed the only armorers of that world. We had a number of them in the camp at Niksich, refugees from the tribes on our frontier, and I found them most interesting companions, generally speaking Italian and Serb as well as their own dialects. Their conservatism is something almost inexplicable. A friend who had campaigned with them told me that when they sacked a village their first quest was always for old iron, which they valued more than gold and silver, an estimation which can only be the heredity of an age when iron was the article of the highest utility, for now it is easy of acquisition everywhere about their country. They reckon their ancestry from the mother, and when my Cretan cavass, Hadji Houssein, spoke of his home, it was always as his "mother's house."
Niksich settled under Montenegrin rule, and order established, the Prince moved his headquarters to Bilek, a fortress which commanded the roads from Ragusa to the interior of Herzegovina, and whence he could dominate all the southern sections of that province, protecting his frontier. There was, as usual, no road for wheels, only a rough bridle-path, and the mobility of the Montenegrins under those conditions was remarkable. They carried the thirty-two-pound breech-loaders on fir poles run through the guns and supported on the men's shoulders, faster than our horses could walk, and the artillery rapidly distanced the staff and corps diplomatique, not even a rear guard remaining with us. In company with one of the aides I rode on under the impression that headquarters were behind us, until we got lost in the labyrinth of paths running about the forest, and we lay down under a tree to rest and wait for the staff to overtake us. Here one of the perianiks found us and brought us to the Prince, who had gone ahead on a blind road, with half a dozen perianiks, two or three sirdars, and the diplomats. He had tried to show his knowledge of the country and lost his way; so, coming to a pretty dell which took his fancy, he ordered a halt and preparations to pass the night, and there we found him.
We had no tents; the rendezvous for the night had been at Tupani, several miles from where we were, and the division commanders were with the men and had no communication with us. We had eaten an early breakfast, and had brought no food; the only blankets were those of the Prince. The perianiks gathered wood and made a fire, round which we gathered, for the night set in sharp, it being the middle of September in a high mountain country. One of the men had taken the precaution to put two or three pieces of bread in his haversack before starting, and this was divided between us, and I made my supper on this and some wild plums I found growing there. Later the men went out to forage and found a farmhouse, where they got straw and milk, with a little sheep's-milk cheese. The proprietress, aroused by the invasion, came down on us in a veritable visitation, furious at our burning her wood. She abused the Prince and all the company in the most insulting terms, and was finally placated only by a liberal compensation for her wood. I spread my bundle of straw under the wild plum tree, and, covered by my ulster, tempted sleep. I dozed until the ants found me out, when, unable to lie quiet under the formication, I got up and passed hours walking up and down till I was so tired that I almost fell asleep walking; then I lay down again and slept for an hour, but the cold and the ants awoke me again, and I spent the rest of the night by the camp-fire. Meanwhile the army collected at Tupani knew nothing of the Prince, and, with the early dawn, patrols were sent off in every direction to beat up the country in search of him. Had the Turks been on the lookout they might have gobbled up the Prince and his diplomats without difficulty. Beaching the general rendezvous, I decided that a more active occupation than following the tactics of the Prince would suit me better, and I turned my horse's head towards Niksich again. Another tedious siege like that of Niksich was not to my taste, and I decided to explore the remoter provinces, and if possible go to Wassoivich, the only corner of the great Dushanic empire into which the Turk had never penetrated even for a raid, where, under the rugged peaks of the Kutchi Kom, survived the best representatives of ancient custom and life.
Niksich was full of smallpox and fever, and, as there was a great abundance of tents captured with the city, I took one, with an extra baggage-horse and his leader, and started for Moratsha. The wide plain into which we entered after leaving the hills above Niksich was a great pasture land, mottled as I never saw land before with mushrooms. The abundance was extraordinary, but nothing would induce a Montenegrin to eat one. We halted for our first night on the edge of a magnificent natural meadow, where a shepherd had built his hut and was feeding his flocks, and we took advantage of his presence to enjoy some security against the wolves, pitching our tent in a little grove close to him and picketing our horses between the tent and his hut. He and his sons were on guard by turns all night, and the howling of the tantalized wolves came clearly to us at times with, at long intervals, the reports of the guns which were fired to keep them at a distance. They were so near at one time that I got up and fired my fowling-piece out of the tent, and we kept lights burning all night to prevent them from attacking our horses. In the course of the night a thunderstorm came up, and, as we had pitched the tent in a hollow to secure freedom from stones in our beds, the rain, washed out our tent-pegs, and the tent came down on us in our sleep. In the morning I sent to the shepherd for a lamb for breakfast for the men, and he sent us what I took for a full-grown sheep, so large and fat was it, and I sent it back, asking for a lamb. He replied that it was a spring lamb, and the smallest he had. The price of it was about two shillings, and for another he offered to dress it for us.
From there we sent back the tent, and the following night we slept at Velje Duboko, at the bottom of one of the ravines which make the surprises of traveling in that country so great. You proceed along a rolling plain with no suspicion of the cañon before you, and suddenly find yourself on the verge of a cliff, looking down into a valley hundreds of feet deep. Duboko lay by the river's margin fifteen hundred feet below us, to be reached only by a winding journey of an hour, though the shepherds carried on conversation from cliff to cliff above. Here a momentary surprise by the Turkish bands has now and then been possible, but never an occupation of the country. The picturesqueness of the valley of the Duboko above the village can be rarely surpassed by wild landscape, and the whole section, the centre of which is the stronghold of Moratsha, is of a most interesting character, utterly unlike the Czernagora proper.
At the convent of Moratsha I found civilization and comfort. The hegumenos, a Dalmatian by birth, but a patriot of the first quality, and a very militant Christian, made me most welcome. I had some money from the English and Russian committees to distribute amongst the needy wounded and the families of the killed, and the gratitude of the naïve hearts was touching to a degree I never saw in richer countries. But what most surprised them was that some of it came from the English. "Why, English!" exclaimed one old woman, as she started back when told that I was English; "they are a kind of Turk." All the world there thought only of the English as the allies of the Turks, but the hospitality they felt, and could show only in trifles, was unbounded. I had brought with me a battle-axe I had found in the stores of Niksich and taken as my part of the booty, but had not noticed that it had never been sharpened, so that it was useless for cutting. One of the men at the convent took it, and with a common whetstone (for there was nothing in the nature of a grindstone in the place) brought it to razor edge,—a job which a carpenter alone can appreciate; and, when I tried to give him something for it, he put his hands behind him and then ran out of sight. A little fellow, not over four years old, stumbled upstairs to my room to bring me an ear of green maize, the greatest delicacy they know, and another ran to me in the road to offer me a huge and fine potato he was nursing with pride. The walnuts were just then eatable, and one of the men brought me a quantity in his closed hands so that I should not see what he had, and, emptying them into my hands, ran away with all speed lest I should give him something in return. They had been carefully cracked and removed from the shells, as the most delicate attention he could show me.
The convent is an old-time stronghold, but, dominated on three sides by hills which look down into its quadrangle, it would be untenable to rifle fire. It was founded by Stefan Nemanides, son of Bolkan, Prince of the Zeta (a term which comprised all Montenegro and the Berdas), and eldest son of Stefan, Emperor of Servia. The Romanesque church, which occupies the centre of the quadrangle, was built about A.D. 1250, but, having been burnt out by the Turks, it was restored in 1400, the walls being uninjured, and it has never been since damaged; and the frescoes in the chapel, which are older than those in the church, are dated 1420. There are some in the church painted later by a monk from Mount Athos, but decidedly inferior to those in the little chapel.
I was hardly in shelter at the convent when the rains set in, and for nearly two weeks I was weather-bound, for in that wild country, with no roads but the tracks the horses wear in the ground, traveling in the mud of rainy weather is out of the question. In a lull of actual downpour we made an excursion to Kolashin, four hours away, passing through the scene of the defeat of Mehemet Ali Pasha. The hegumenos, who commanded the half battalion of the monastery, showed me the line of the fighting, and described the battle, and certainly it was one of the most extraordinary battles even in the history of this fighting people.
The Turks came from Kolashin by a road which debouches into the valley by a steep descent of about five hundred feet, and they had crowned the heights and planted their battery before the clans could gather, since these had been scattered along a line of thirty or forty miles, uncertain what point would be attacked. Voivode Vucovich, hereditary chief of the Wassoivich, with half a battalion of his own people, was watching and following the Turks from a distance, and, when he saw that the movement was intended for the convent, he sent runners to Peiovich in Drobniak and warned the convent, where was a half battalion of local forces. The regulars formed on the ridge, intrenched themselves, and sent the irregulars, Albanians of the tribe of the Mirdites, down to lead the attack. As soon as these were well entangled in the intricacies of the valley, seeing only the half battalion of Moratsha posted in front of them, Vucovich led an attack down the slope in their rear, getting between them and the regulars, and the Moratshani made a sortie from the convent, which is inclosed by a strong wall, and attacked in front. The Albanians fought desperately for a short time, but, attacked on both sides, though by forces much inferior in the aggregate to their own, they finally broke in panic. A large body ran into a ravine, which proved a cul de sac, for the end up which they hoped to escape was so precipitous that few escaped the infuriated Montenegrins following them, who, when the fight was over, counted eleven hundred dead. The rest of the Albanians continued their flight to Kolashin, the panic involving the regulars, who insisted on returning, and, in spite of all remonstrances of the officers, went back.
The hegumenos, Mitrofan Banovich, whose name deserves record as well as any I heard of in this land of heroes, introduced to me the captain of the Moratsha battalion, who had taken part in the fight. He had lost his son in it, and of his four hundred men twenty-five had been killed and forty put hors de combat from wounds which disabled them from fighting. The Wassoivich had exhausted their ammunition and the unwounded of the Moratshani were only enough to carry away the wounded; had the Turkish regulars maintained the attack, there could have been no further resistance, the way would have been open to take the Montenegrins about Danilograd in the rear, and Suleiman would have had a clear course.
The captain told me of one brave Albanian who had fallen wounded from his horse and taken shelter in a crevice of the rocks, and who had killed two Montenegrins and wounded a third before he was disposed of by one of them getting behind him and shooting him through a crevice in the sheltering rocks. The manner of his death and that of those of his assailants illustrate the war manners of the Montenegrins so completely that I was interested in the case more than in other heroic details of the fight. The Montenegrin makes a question of amour propre in attacking his enemies face to face and by preference with the cold steel. Enemies who fall in the general mêlée by rifle-shot he never considers his "heads;" he claims only those he has killed in hand-to-hand combat. This Albanian was the standard-bearer of his clan, i.e. the hereditary chieftain, and to kill him in hand-to-hand combat was the ambition of the three who attacked him in succession, the shooting from behind being only a matter of necessity.
I remembered at that moment a correspondence I had had years before with Virchow, on the Pelasgi, and their probable relation with the Albanians, whom he regarded as the descendants of the Pelasgi; and, thinking of his collection of skulls, I asked the captain if he knew the spot where the body of the Albanian lay, and if the bones were still there, and when he assured me that they were where he fell, I offered him two florins to bring me the skull, which he did. It was of a man in the prime of life, with the sutures scarcely closed, and only two teeth lacking, and none unsound, and I sent it on to the great craniologist, who replied with warm thanks. The skull, he said, was the finest for intellectual development in his collection, and he read a paper on it before the Imperial German Academy. He was so impressed by its character that he was disposed to consider it as an exceptional skull, and wrote to one of the Austrian officers in Montenegro to ask him to make an effort to send some more, and these, though not, like that of the standard-bearer, of unquestionably pure Albanian stock,—for the aristocracy never intermarry with any other blood than that of their class and race,—all possessed the same intellectual characteristics, justifying him in placing the Albanian at the head of the races of Europe for intellectual capacity.
We reconnoitred Kolashin, and found it an almost open fortress, which was commanded by hills around, and so near that it could be made untenable by rifle fire, which could have been poured in from both sides of the river that ran by it, which, though then a swollen torrent, was under ordinary conditions fordable anywhere. The Turks seemed indisposed to provoke an exchange of shots, and did not trouble us, though we went within easy rifle-shot inspecting the works through my field-glass, and, before leaving, took our luncheon in full sight of the garrison, who were working on some trenches intended for protection from a coup de main from the river. I made a sketch of the fortress, and we withdrew tranquilly. In fact, the Turkish garrisons, so far as my own experience went, were never disposed to begin a fight, and if not molested they never annoyed us by firing on us. The poor fellows only wanted to be left alone. They were, when prisoners, the most amiable people possible, and at one time I saw many in Cettinje, prisoners taken in the fights about Podgoritza, enjoying the freedom of the place and making themselves useful to the women, bringing wood and water, and as inoffensive as children. Many of them, probably young men without domestic ties, refused to return when the treaty of peace was signed, but, with a docility which was as remarkable as their obedience under the atrocious treatment of their own government, only asked for their bread and toleration. I have seen in Cettinje, when the men were all on the frontier fighting, Turkish prisoners enough to take possession of the place if they had been disposed to rise and make a fight with sticks and stones. This was one of the most touching phases of that curious war, a warfare such as the world will hardly see again.
The day after our trip to Kolashin the rain set in again, and we passed nearly a fortnight more at the convent before the weather broke and I was able to set out, taking with me a gang of men to make the roads passable for my horse, so much had the rains wrought havoc with the face of the land. The flooded state of the country and unfordable rivers forbade the trip to Wassoivich, and I was obliged, to my great regret, to relinquish it and to go back to Cettinje, having lost nearly three weeks in the rain at Moratsha. Returning by a different route from that by which I came, I crossed the Duboko at a point much lower down than that of my first striking it, where it makes the most magnificent trout stream I have ever seen. The trout from it feed the Moratsha and the Lake of Scutari. In the Duboko they are caught, according to the statement of a native of the district, as heavy as forty pounds; and Mr. Green, the English consul at Scutari, told me that they were sometimes caught much larger in the lake. There were plenty in the Zeta at Niksich and at Danilograd, and I saw one brought to the Prince's tent one day, during the siege, which weighed twenty-two pounds, shot by one of the men, for they refused all kinds of bait, and were only taken by shooting or the net; or, horrible to relate, by dynamite, the ruinous effects of which on the population of the river the Prince was too easygoing to forbid. I have seen one of the spring basins, from which the Zeta takes its rise, carpeted by tiny trout and other fishes, killed by the explosions of dynamite, which rarely killed, but only stunned, the larger fish, of which few were retrieved even when stunned or killed. I one day remonstrated indignantly with the Prince for this barbarous butchery, and told him that if he permitted his men to carry it on his son would reign in a fishless country, and he promised to forbid it; but the matter passed from his memory in a day. The Duboko was a safe nursery for the fry, for it was such a torrent that dynamite was useless, since it would have been impossible to retrieve a fish if killed.
Our road lay through the district of Rovtcha, which is considered the poorest for the agriculturist in all the Berdas. It is very hilly, and the rock is, where we passed, a rotten slate which the rains and the torrents cut away rapidly, carrying the alluvium down to the plains and Lake of Scutari. Digging and bridging, we reached, early in the afternoon, the village of Gornje-Rovtcha, and were then informed that it would be impossible to reach another habitation that day, and that the road passed through an immense forest infested by wolves, in which we should be compelled to sleep if we held on. This I had no desire to try, remembering our experience with the shepherds on the first night out from Niksich. So we passed the hours to the dark in shooting at a mark, and went to bed early. The house which was selected to be honored by my repose, the best in the village, was of one room, from which the animals were excluded, with the usual floor of beaten earth. A huge bedstead of small fir poles, the only important piece of furniture in it, was assigned to me, and the family—all women and children—spread their rugs on the ground. After eating a supper brought from the convent, and some potatoes, the only provision, except a little coarse maize bread which the house afforded, we went to bed. The bedstead was abundantly provided with straw, but nought beside, and the fleas routed me from my first sleep and compelled me to evacuate the premises. I took my mattress and went out where my pony was picketed, and, spreading it in his lee, to break the cold north wind fresh from the mountain, I tried to sleep.
The poor horse had supped miserably; a little barley from the convent and some musty hay furnished by the woman of the house, but which even in his hunger he refused to eat, left him ill-compensated for a hard day's walk, and he turned his head to me now and then with a coaxing whinney which was as plain a supplication for something to eat as I could have made myself, but the only effect of which was to break my doze as soon as begun, until I lost my patience with him, and gave him a sound box on the ear, when he turned his head from me, and lay down again. It made my heart ache to be unkind to him, for he was the gentlest and most serviceable friend I had in Montenegro, but I could get nothing to give him if I had paid a guinea the pound for it, and he would not let me sleep. The intelligent brute felt what language could not tell him, and ceased his complaint, though the blow I gave him would hardly have killed a gad-fly on his hair; but it sufficed, and gave me more discomfort than him, for I did not cease to reproach myself for the ungrateful return for his fidelity. But I slept no more, and watched the stars in their courses till the dawn.
A glass of milk and a crust of the bread I had brought from the convent made my breakfast, and we pushed on to our next stopping-place, the convent of Piperski Celia. The road lay for the first hour through a forest of beeches and firs, the former the finest, as timber, I ever saw—straight trunks, thirty or forty feet to the first limb; in some places the beech being the exclusive wood, and in others the fir, but all a luxuriant growth. Properly worked, this forest would have made a great revenue for the principality. Before the war it had been leased to a French company, and many trees were lying in all stages of preparation for rafting down the Moratsha. This was succeeded by a forest entirely of firs, also splendid trees, and then we came into a region which was beyond all my experience or imagination,—a wide and barren waste of rock, gray, glistening in the now burning sun, and without a trace of vegetation that could be recognized by the casual vision. There was no soil, and apparently never had been any, and the silvery-gray of the lichenous limestone blinded one with its glare in the sunlight. Midway in it we came on an old Roman road, one of the finest pieces of antique engineering I ever saw. In some places it was cut out of the solid rock like a dry canal, the banks being nearly as high as our heads, and the ruts of the chariot wheels were still there to show that the utter barrenness of the land had existed the same from ancient time. It was probably the great road from Dyrrachium to the upper Danube.
We reached the convent too late to get to Danilograd that night, considering the condition of the roads, and I asked for shelter for the night. Here, for the first time in my experience with Orthodox convents, lodgings were refused me by the old hegumenos, and I instantly ordered the horses to be loaded again, without attempting to soften his surliness. A few minutes' talk with the captain who was my escort showed him that I was a person too much in favor with the Prince to be treated with such derision, and he came to offer me a place to spread my mattress on a balcony exposed to the south wind and the rain; then, having begun to relent, he went further, and offered me a room, which I refused, and finally his own bed; but even that did not break my inflexible resentment. When he became pathetic in his repentance, however, I accepted a balcony whence I could look down on the fortress of Spuz, within easy range of its sleeping batteries; and then he offered me a supper, which I accepted, and we made peace. In the morning he had become humanized, and he gave me breakfast and showed me the body of St. Stephen, which is kept here in great reverence (not the proto-martyr, but a Montenegrin of the same name). The saint lay in state in a magnificent coffin, as if embalmed, and in his hand was an old and time-yellowed embroidered handkerchief which looked as if it might have been there a century or two. Remembering a dear friend in the Orthodox church to whom the relics of its saints were precious, I asked the hegumenos to sell me this handkerchief. He replied that he dared not take it, but if I had the courage to do so he would not prevent me, so I took the relic and put a twenty franc piece in the treasury of the convent, and went my way.
I found the Prince in his villa at Orealuk, contemplating new movements in a distant future, and, there being evidently nothing to keep me there, I decided to go back to Cettinje and await what was evidently the operation in view,—the movement on Antivari. My poor little pony like myself, only half fed for days, was not in a condition for rapid travel, and, though we pushed on in the rain, which began again, as well as we could, when we reached Rieka it was nearly sunset. Finding no preparation in the little house, our usual shelter there, for any guest, after giving the horse what small ration the village afforded, I resumed the journey at sunset. The horse had come the last few miles very heavily; I had been in the saddle twelve to fourteen hours each of the last two days, and the food I could get for him was insufficient even for a Herzegovinian mountain pony, so that it was hard work to get him to a pace above a slow walk as we approached Rieka; but when we left the place he seemed to realize that he had a work of necessity before him, and that the light would not see him through it, and he showed that he understood the case, for he needed neither spur nor whip to make his best pace over the very rough and difficult road. In spite of his best efforts, the darkness fell on us half way to Cettinje, with rain and a fog which made it impossible to see the way before me, or even to see the horse's ears.
There was on that road, on the mountain which frames on that side the plain of Cettinje, a passage of the bridle-path which even the Montenegrins, used to it, passed always on foot; a sharp ridge, almost an arête of rock, which carries a path hardly wide enough for two horses to pass each other on it, and on each side of which the rock falls away in a steep precipice high enough to leave no hope of survival from a fall down it. If I had dismounted I could not have seen the path before me; to stop and pass the night there, drenched and cold as I was, would have been fatal, for we were in the early cold of autumn in a high country; there was nothing for it but to trust to the horse, and I threw the bridle on his neck and left him to himself. A false step was certain death for us both, but I had no choice. He picked his way as if he were walking amongst eggs, slowly but surely, and we descended into the plain of Cettinje at 10 P.M. without a slip or an attempt on my part to interfere with the discretion of my pony. If I had possessed even an acre of pasture or a settled home where I could have turned out that good beast for the rest of his days, I should never have allowed him to go to another owner, for I knew that I owed him my life.
Of the following campaign, which resulted in the taking of Antivari and Dulcigno, I saw nothing. The jealousy of Jonine had been so excited by my always forestalling him with the news of the war, that he persuaded the Prince not to advise me of the movement; so, while I was waiting at Cettinje for the promised summons to join the staff, the army moved across the country to Rieka secretly, and the first warning we had of the movement was the firing of guns at Antivari. As the Prince gave me no further thought, I waited comfortably, "at mine ease in mine inn," for diplomacy to tie the ends of the well-spun out controversy. Fighting was practically over and my campaign ended.
The end of the official war and the hopelessness of seeking to reestablish myself in a literary career in London, as well as the desire of my wife to try a residence in a climate and surroundings more attractive than those of the Isle of Wight—the fact, too, of being without local ties—led to the determination to find a residence for a time abroad, and the family came to meet me at Turin, en route for Corfu, where we decided to pass the winter. If I had hoped to escape political agitation there, I was mistaken. The Greeks had hung fire in joining in the Balkan movement, hoping that the powers would include them in the arrangements for a final settlement of the Eastern question. When, in the negotiations which accompanied the conclusion of peace, Greece found that she was ignored, the inflammable public opinion broke out in a violent demonstration against the treaty of peace. When the Russian government had decided to declare war, it proposed to Greece that if a Greek army were sent across the frontiers for even a fruitless attack on Turkey when that of Russia entered on the other side, Greece should participate in the benefits of the settlement. Greece did nothing, and the offer was renewed at a later period, when the war was evidently tending to the complete triumph of Russia, but still there was no action at Athens, and Greece was consequently ignored by Russia when the treaty was negotiated.
Desperate at this delusion of all their hopes, the Greeks demanded that the invasion of Epirus and Thessaly should be at once undertaken, the semblance of an army corps was formed for the latter destination, and the insurrectionary committees organized (if the word can be applied to the huddling together of a mass of volunteers without organization) the invasion of Epirus from the coast. A few hundred men of many nations, amongst whom were a number of gallant Italians, full of Hellenic enthusiasm, were landed at Aghia Saranda, a port opposite Corfu and in sight of the city, a scant allowance of food and ammunition was thrown on shore with them, and the steamer which brought them steamed away, leaving them to their fate, which was to be butchered under the eyes of the spectators at Corfu, looking on with horror. Only a few of the hapless volunteers escaped under the guidance of one of the Greeks, who knew the country and guided a party through the mountains to the Gulf of Corinth, the rest being killed almost without resistance, no provision for their escape by sea having been thought of. At the other extremity of the frontier the same tactics were successful in raising a brief insurrection about Volo, which collapsed after a few days' fighting, during which a correspondent of the "Times," Mr. Ogle, was killed by the Turkish troops. The Greek ministry, in the dilemma of acting or being left out of the settlement, decided that the army to cross the frontier should be commanded by the King in person, but the King so earnestly declined the honor put upon him that the plan was abandoned. One of the ministers assured me that the King with tears in his eyes begged to be excused from going. He had never been popular in the country, and this failure to realize a step in the Panhellenic policy made him for the time the object of all the popular indignation. But he probably realized that nothing was ready for such a movement and that it was certain to end in disaster.
The real cause of failure was in the general indifference to all preparation, in which the government was supported by the nation. The overweening confidence in themselves, which was so great as to permit them to believe that without any organization or discipline they were more than a match for the Turkish army, has always been their fatal weakness. One of the leaders of the war party said to me a little later, "The Greeks are so clever that they do not need to be trained; they can fight without it well enough to beat the Turks." We saw at Corfu how ill-prepared they were, for the classes were called out to go to the frontier of Epirus, and those of Corfu marched through the streets to the place of embarkation weeping as if they went to death. This delusion as to their natural military capacity was never dispelled until the later disaster in Thessaly. The army did in fact cross the frontier, but within forty-eight hours they were obliged to return to Greek territory for want of provisions—the commissariat had been forgotten!
Outside of political agitation we found living in Corfu delightful, and I question if there is, within the limits of the north temperate zone, any more delightful winter residence than was that of Corfu in the period we were there. What remained of the advanced civilization of the English garrison period gave the island a distinct advantage over all the other Greek isles, and even over Crete with its superior natural advantages. Greek enterprise and civilization are so far superior to that found anywhere in the Turkish territory that they are capable of maintaining the substantial progress which the English occupation achieved in Corfu; and, though we found the peasantry not largely inoculated by the fever of progress, the better classes of the city population succeed in supporting the better condition attained to. But the obstinacy of the conservatism retained by the agricultural classes is equal to that in the least frequented islands of the Aegean. A relative, on whose estate we passed a part of the winter, remote from the city of Corfu, had tried to introduce improvements in the culture of his olives; but the laborers not only refused to coöperate with him, but opposed the introduction of laborers who would lend themselves to his operations. As the olives had been gathered in the days of Nausicaa they should be gathered still, and so should the oil be made, and he was obliged to yield. But as we from the west suffer not a little from over-civilization and artifice, it is grateful to repose the eyes and the aesthetic sense in a land where there still remains something of the antique simplicity and picturesque uncouthness, and the winter in Scheria remains one of the grateful memories of a wandering life.
Leaving Corfu with freedom from any local obligations, and a keen enjoyment of the change from life in England, we decided to establish ourselves for a time in Florence, where we passed the whole of the summer. In October a son was born to us, and we took a house and furnished it. I took a studio, too, and returned to painting, as well as the long interval permitted me to gather up the threads of habit. Art is not to be followed in that way, and there is no cause for surprise, nor, perhaps, for regret, that literature had the stronger hold on my mind; and that, between the "Times," letters for which were provoked by so many themes of interest to the English public, and archaeology, especially the study of the prehistoric monuments of central Italy, so important in their yet hardly determined relations to the classical world, the pencil found less attraction than the pen. To my wife, whose enjoyment of Italian art was intense, Florence was an ideal residence; and on some accounts I still regret the circumstances which drove us out of the lily city,—to me still the most desirable residence I have ever known, when one is able to adapt one's self to the life there. After the first summer we found the Italian Alps one of the most delectable of retreats, Cadore and Auronzo, with Cortina and Landro,—all places full of picturesque and natural fascination. And now, as the strength wanes and we live more in memory than in act, the recollection of the summers passed in the land of Titian remains a gallery of the most delightful pictures.
At Cortina I met and first knew Browning, who, with his sister Sariana, our old and dear friend, came to stay at the inn where we were. I am not much inclined to reckon intellectual greatness as a personal charm, for experience has shown me that the relation is very remote; but Browning always impressed me—and then and after I saw a good deal of him—as one of the healthiest and most robust minds I have ever known, sound to the core, and with an almost unlimited intellectual vitality and an individuality which nothing could infringe on, but which a singular sensitiveness towards others prevented from ever wounding even the most morbid sensibility; a strong man armed in the completest defensive armor, but with no aggressive quality. His was a nature of utter sincerity, and what had seemed to me, reading his poetry before knowing him, to be more or less an affectation of obscurity, a cultivation of the cryptic sense, I found to be the pure expression of his individuality. He made short cuts to the heart of his theme, perhaps more unconscious than uncaring that his line of approach could not be followed by his general readers, as a mathematician leaves a large hiatus in his demonstration, seeing the result the less experienced must work out step by step.
At Cortina, too, I saw again Gladstone, late in the summer, when the place was abandoned by the general crowd. I had begun a study of running water, over which I lingered as long as the weather permitted, when he came with Mrs. Gladstone and his son Herbert and daughter Helen. The old man was full of physical and mental energy, and we had several moderate climbs in the mountains of the vicinity. They had not come out to be together as at home, and each took generally a different walk. Gladstone was a good walker, and talked by the way,—which not all good walkers can do,—but I do not remember his ever talking of himself; and in this he was like Ruskin,—he assumed himself as an element in the situation, and thought no more about it; never in our conversations obtruding his views as of more importance than the conversation demanded, and never opinionated, not even dogmatic, but always inquiring, and more desirous of hearing of the things that had interested him than of expressing his own views about them. It was a moment in which, for some reason I do not now recall, Beaconsfield was much in evidence, and we discussed him on one of our walks; on his part with the most dispassionate appreciation and kindness of manner. I had said of his great rival that he had struck a blow at the prestige of the English aristocracy, from which it would never recover, and he asked with a quickened interest what that might be, and when I replied that it was by his putting himself at the head of it, he thought a moment and replied, nodding his head, "That is true."
He was very fond of talking with the people of the valley, who are Italians, and his Italian was better than one is accustomed to hear from English people, even from those who live in Italy. We passed a fountain one day, at which a washerwoman was washing her linen, and he stopped to talk to her, and asked her, among other questions, if she had always been a washerwoman. No, she replied, she had been a bália (nurse) once. He was struck by her pronunciation of the word bália and walked on; but presently he said, "I thought that that word was pronounced balía" and, when I explained that there were two words—bália which meant a nurse, and balía, which came from the same root as our "bailiff," and meant a charge, custody,—he seemed annoyed, and made no more remarks during the continuation of our climb. It was evident that he was vexed, not at me, who corrected him, but at his not having known the trivial detail of a language efficiency in which he prided himself on. It was the only foible I detected in him. He was very much interested in America, and asked many questions about our politics. Two things, he said, in the future of America, seemed to him ominous of evil: the condition of our civil service, and the amount of our Western lands going into mortmain through the gifts to the great railway systems.
It would be, perhaps, unjustifiable to form a firm opinion on a man of Gladstone's calibre from the few days of our intercourse, even in the freedom and openness of mind of a mountain walk, politics and Parliament forgotten; but the final impression he gave me was that of a man, on the whole, immensely greater than I had taken him to be, but with conflicting elements of greatness which neutralized each other to a certain extent. He had in him the Platonist, the Statesman, and the Theologian, of each enough for an ordinary man, and one crowded the other in action. The Platonist crowded the Statesman, and, at certain dangerous moments, the broad humanitarian feeling overlooked the practical dangers of the critical juncture in which he had to act. His idealism took off the point of his statecraft, and what has always seemed, and still seems, to me his aberration in the artificial problems of our ecclesiastical theology, is the only thing I cannot yet understand in so great a man.
That winter I had a commission from the "Century" (then "Scribner's") to make an archaeological and literary venture in Greek waters, the results of which in a series of papers in the magazine were afterwards published in a volume entitled "On the Track of Ulysses."
Accompanied by Mr. H.M. Paget, the artist, I went to Corfu and hired the Kestrel, my old friend of the Cretan days, and I decided to follow the track of Ulysses in his return to Ithaca from Troy. Beginning at Santa Maura we examined every point in the Ionian Islands to which any illusion is made in the "Odyssey" as far as Cerigo and Cerigotto, meeting a storm off the former island which might well have ended our trip. A well-found Greek brig foundered only a short distance from us in the gale, and we drifted all day and till early in the morning of the day following, when we managed to make the port of Cerigo, during which time we could neither eat a meal nor even get a cup of coffee. Paget made a capital sailor, and, though the old Maltese captain of former days was dead, his two sons, lads then, were dexterous sailors in the rough-and-ready, rule-of-thumb manner of the Levantine boatman, knowing nothing of navigation and little more of geography than Ulysses himself. We had no charts, and only a very primitive compass, but we all had the antique love of adventure and indifference to danger. Leaving Cerigotto, an island out of the line of traditional or historic interest, but, curious for its fine and extensive Pelasgic remains, we laid our course for Crete, starting with the breeze that at nightfall generally blows towards the land, which was visible from where we took our departure, and counted on being at Canea with the morning.
But the Aegean is a tricky sea, and furnishes many surprises, as St. Paul knew, and, when not more than ten miles from the shelter of the Cretan coast, it came on to blow from the southwest with such violence that we were unable to beat up to the shelter of the Cretan highlands, and under a mere rag of canvas had to run before the wind, wherever it might drive us. I was the only one on board who knew anything of the Archipelago, and I had to decide the course, which it was possible to vary only a point or two either way, for the yacht would only run free, or, under favorable weather, with a beam wind. I had to guess our course, which from my knowledge of the islands I saw could only be directly to Milo, about forty miles away. If we hit the harbor, well and good, for it gives excellent shelter in all weather, but if we missed it we had two chances—to find an opening between the islands and reefs, or to hit a lee shore and go on it, for there was no hope of clawing off. I set the course, left the boys in charge, and went to bed. The boat was jumping through the sea with a shock at each wave she struck, as if she had leaped out of the water, and it seemed as if she must be showing her keel with each jump. I awoke in the night and, getting out of my berth to take a look outside, put my feet in the water which had risen to cover the cabin floor. All hands at the pumps kept it down, but it was clear that the old craft, nearly twenty years older than when I first saw her, was no longer seaworthy, and we had no hope of the weather lifting, for these southwesterly gales generally blow at least a day. I went back to bed again, for there was nothing to be done but wait on fortune, and be glad that we should make Milo by daylight.
My previsions justified themselves, for in the course of the afternoon we made the entrance to the harbor, and ran in before such a sea as I never saw in those waters before. The waves broke against the great pillar of rock that stands in the entrance of the harbor, sending the spray to its very summit, and as we ran to the anchorage off the little port the whole population poured down to see the arrival, wondering what sent the tiny craft out in such weather. The old pilot said that it had been the worst gale of forty years, which I could well believe. The weather having abated, we ran over to Crete, where I found the island laboring with reforms, a constitution, and a Christian governor, in the person of my old friend Photiades Pasha. We were invited to dine at the Konak, and of the company was Edhem Pasha, a charming, intelligent, and thoroughly civilized Turk, by far the most liberal and progressive of his race I had met, with the single exception of A'ali Pasha. We played at "Admiration" that evening, a game which puts a series of questions as to the qualities one admires. In reply to the question "What kind of courage do you admire?" the pasha, turning to me, replied, "I admire the courage of that gentleman in going to sea in so small a boat in such weather," and he admitted laughingly that his courage was not at that level.
I found in the place of my old friend Dickson, consul for England and colleague of the Cretan days, since dead, Humphrey Sandwith, a noble and faithful representative of the dignity and humanity of his nation, and for many years subsequently my intimate friend, who has disappeared while I write from the lessening list of living friends, but who will ever keep his place in my regards as a noble, just, and humane representative of his race, as of his government. In the years of the subsequent Cretan difficulties, Sandwith was always the good and wise friend of the islanders. It is good to remember such a representation of the power and dignity of England in lands where his colleagues have not always honored England or humanity, and I shall always think of Sandwith with greater respect for his nation.
The results of the "Century" expedition were nothing in respect of excavation, and the records of the tracing of the route of the Great Ithacan were written out in the Dolomites in the course of the summer. We found that excavation was a matter beyond achievement with the limited funds at my disposal, but Photiades was munificent in promises of support if I wished to return for serious undertaking in that direction. In the following winter I was accordingly requested to take charge, for the American Archaeological Institute, of an expedition for research and if possible for excavation. Trusting to the benevolent promises of the pasha, I accepted the mission. He renewed his assurances of aid, and showed me the greatest cordiality and benevolence, invited me to dinner and to spend the evening, and treated me generally with a friendliness which astonished the old Turkish element, who considered me the devil of the island. (In fact, my appearance was considered the omen of trouble, and the Mussulmans said when they saw me, "Are we going to have another war?") It was easy to see, however, that the elements of trouble in the island had not been eliminated by the appointment of a Christian governor or the concessions which had been made to the Christian majority. So long as the power of rendering ineffective any reforms, or blocking the way to progress of the higher civilization of the island, remained at Constantinople, the Turkish minority in the island would retain their faculty of making the concessions to the majority fallacious.
Photiades Pasha, an amiable and very intelligent man, recognized the dominant fact of his position to be the necessity of keeping the favor of the Mussulman oligarchy at the capital, and he could not offend the Mussulmans of the island by even a maintenance of equal justice between the two religions. He was therefore obliged to satisfy the leaders of the Christian agitators by the concession of minor advantages in the local conflicts, oftener of Christian against Christian than of the same against the Turk, and finally he was obliged to resort to the inciting of feud and jealousy between the clans, villages, and provinces in the island, to keep them from uniting against him. He found it convenient to employ me as a tub to the whale, and, having first excited the insular jealousy against archaeological intrusion by foreigners, and inducing his clique of subordinate intriguers to oppose my operations, though the Christian population in general were in favor of permitting me to excavate wherever I liked, he made them the concession of refusing me the permission I sought. Therefore, while he promised me all things and urged me to go at once to select my locality, he wrote to the Porte advising the refusal of the firman, which had been applied for directly by the Institute, through the minister at Constantinople.
My assistant, Mr. Haynes, who had been sent by the Institute to take his first lessons in archaeology and photography, having arrived, we went to Candia to select our site. We decided on attacking a ruin on the acropolis of Gnossus, already partially exposed by the searches of local diggers for antiques. It had a curiously labyrinthine appearance, and on the stones I found and described the first discovered of the characters whose nature has since been made the subject of the researches of Mr. Evans. I made an agreement with the Turkish proprietor of the land, and prepared to set to work when the firman should arrive. After more than one letter from Photiades, assuring me in unqualified terms that I might confidently count on the reception of the firman, I received a communication from the minister at Constantinople, that on the advice of Photiades Pasha the firman was refused. I had selected as the alternative locality the cave known as the burial-place of Zeus, on the summit of Mount Yuctas, not far from Gnossus, in the excavation of which I am convinced that archaeology will one day receive great light on early Cretan myth. The importance of the locality in the prehistoric research in which Crete is one of the most important sections of our field of study, will, I am convinced, one day justify my anxiety to attack it; and the subsequent discoveries, so important, made by Halbherr in the companion cave on Mount Ida, where Zeus was believed to have been hidden and nursed, confirm my conviction of the value of the evidence still hidden on Yuctas.
Debarred from carrying out the purpose of my expedition, I contented myself with making such a survey of that part of the island as should serve the Institute for another attempt when the artificial obstacles should be removed; and I was on the point of visiting Gortyna when troubles broke out, initiated by the murder of two Mussulmans at Gortyna, revenged by the murder of Christians at Candia, and there was nothing to be done but to get back to civilization. From the Mussulmans of the island I had less hostility to endure than from the more influential of the Christian Cretans, with whom the dominant passion of life seemed to be that of intrigue, and with whose mendacity and unscrupulousness I could not contend.
I had a curious instance of the honesty of the Mussulman in a dealer in bricabrac, embroideries, and stuffs with whom I used to deal at Candia. Arapi Mehmet, as he was called, i.e. Mahommed the Arabian, was a man in whom no religious fanaticism disturbed his relations with his fellow-men; no English agnostic could be more liberal, and we often had dealings in which his honesty was evident. On one of the last visits I made to his shop I looked at two embroidered cushion covers which I wanted to purchase, but the price he put on them made it out of the question, and as he refused to take less I gave up the bargaining, and he called for the coffee. While we were drinking it and conversing of other matters, I said to him, "Arapi, why do you ask such absurd prices? You know that the cushions are not worth so much." "Oh," he replied, "you are rich and can afford it." "What makes you think I am rich?" I asked. "You travel about and see the world, and take your pleasure," he said. "But I am not rich," I said; "I am a workingman; I do not travel for pleasure, but to earn my living. I am a scribe, and am paid for what I write, and what I earn is all I have to live on. I have no property." "Is that true?" he asked me, earnestly, looking me in the eyes. "That is quite true; I have nothing but what I earn," I replied; "I make the living of my family in this way. If I do not write we have no bread." The cushions had meanwhile been sent back to his house, as he kept all his fine goods there; and, without another word to me, he shouted to his shop boy to go and get them, and, when brought, he threw them to me, saying, "Take them and give me what you like."
I always found that the Mussulman merchants were more trustworthy in their dealings with me than the Christians, and, though there was, as a matter of course, at first an amount of bargaining and beating down the prices, which was expected, they never attempted to deceive me in the quality of the goods, and they often called my attention to articles of artistic or archaeological value, which were cheap, and when they came to know me well they gave me, at the outset, the lowest price they could take, while it never happened with a Christian shopman in Crete that I was treated with frankness or moderation. The next time I went back to Candia, Arapi was dead.
Returning to Canea, my archaeological mission being abortive, I was told by the Christian secretary of the pasha that the difficulty had been that I had not offered to give to His Excellency the coins that might be found in the excavations, and that if I did this I might hope for a firman. As it was not in my power to give what, by the agreement arrived at with the proprietor of the soil, had been definitely disposed of, half to him and the other half to the museums of the island, and as the troubles had begun, there was nothing more to be done, and I made a flying trip to some parts of the island which I had not seen. Of this, the passage through the valley of Enneochoria (the nine villages) will remain in my memory as the most delightful pastoral landscape I have ever seen, and the ideal of Greek pastoral poetry. A beautiful brook, to the perennial flow of whose waters the abundant water-cresses testified, which is a very rare thing in an Aegean scene, meandered amongst mingled sycamores and olives, and gave freshness to glades where the sheep fed under the keepership of the antique-mannered shepherd lads and lasses; and in the opening of the bordering trees we saw the far-off and arid mountains, rugged and picturesque peaks. The Cretan summer for three or four months is rainless, and a valley where the vegetation is fed by the springs so abundantly as to sustain a perpetual flora is rarely to be met in one's travels there. I saw many new flowers there, and amongst them a perfectly white primrose, in every other respect like the common flower of the English hedgerows. The scenery had that attractive aspect which can be found only where immemorial culture, without excessive invasion of the axe, has left nature in the undiminished possession of her chief beauties, without a trace of the savage wildness—a nature which hints at art. It was classic without being formal, but no description can give an idea of the charm of it in contrast with the general aridity of the Cretan landscape.
As we rode through the villages we found the population animated by that joyous hospitality which belongs to an antique tradition, to which a stranger guest is something which the gods have sent, and sent rarely so that no tourist weariness had worn out the welcome. Something of the welcome was, no doubt, due to the reputation I had acquired in former times as a friend of the Christians of the island, but I found that in Crete, where the invasion of the foreign element had been at a minimum and the people were most conservative, ancient usages and ancient hospitality had retained all their force, as, to a lesser extent, I had found them in the Peloponnesus, while in continental Greece I never found hospitality in any form. The Cretans are probably the purest remnant of the antique race which resulted from the mixture of Pelasgian, Dorian, Achaian, Ionian, and the best representative of the antique intellect.
It was almost impossible to travel in the interior of the island, where the Christian element still held its own unmixed, without coming in contact with remnants of the most ancient superstitions. In one place my guide pointed out to me a cave where Janni the shepherd one day gathered his sheep in the midday heats to fiddle to them, when there came out of the sea a band of Nereids, who begged him to play for their dancing. Janni obeyed and lost his heart to one of the sea damsels, and, sorely smitten, went to a wise woman to know what he should do to win her, and was told that he must boldly seize her in the whirl of the dance and hold her, no matter what happened. He followed the direction, and though the nymph changed shape many times he kept his hold and she submitted to him and they were married. In process of time she bore a child, but all the while she had never spoken a word. The wise woman, consulted again, told Janni to take the child and pretend to lay it on the fire, when his wife would speak. He obeyed again, but made a slip, and the child, falling into the fire, was burned to death, whereupon the wife fled to the sea and was never seen again. This was told me in all seriousness as of a contemporary event, and was evidently held as history. I bought from a peasant one of the well-known three-sided prisms with archaic intaglios of animals on the faces, and had the curiosity to inquire the virtues of it, for I was told that it was greatly valued and had been worn by his wife, who reluctantly gave it up. He replied that it had the power of preventing the mother's milk from failing prematurely.
We passed through Selinos, where the riflers of the antique necropolis brought me quantities of glass found in the graves, and a few bronze and gold ornaments; and when I had loaded myself and my attendants with all the glass we could safely carry, the people begged me still to buy, if only for a piastre each piece, what they had accumulated for want of a buyer. But what is found in this district is mainly or entirely of a late period, that of the Roman occupation of the island, I suppose, for we found no archaic objects of any kind, or early inscriptions, and only a few in late characters. But the ride through this section of the island is one of the most delightful one could take, so far as I know, in classical lands. The kindly, hospitable Seliniotes, known for centuries as the bravest of all the Cretan clans, persecuted with all the cruelty of Venetian craft in the days when the island city ruled the island sea, always refractory under foreign rule and often unruly under their own régime, seem to have enjoyed in the later centuries of Roman rule and the earlier of the Byzantine a great prosperity, if one may judge from the evidence of the necropolis, the graves in which yield a singular indication of a well-distributed wealth. These graves lie for great distances along every road leading to what must have been the principal centre of the civilization, though there are no ruins to mark its location. This singular absence of ancient ruin indicates a peculiarity in the civilization of that section of the island which history gives no clue to. Northward, near the sea, there are the remains of great Pelasgic cities, of which when I first traveled in the island the walls were in stupendous condition, but of which at this visit I had found hardly a trace—the islanders had pulled them down to get stone for their houses. The site of Polyrhenia, connected in tradition with the return of Agamemnon from Troy, was one of the finest Pelasgic ruins I have ever seen when I first visited it, but on this visit I could hardly find the locality, and of the splendid polygonal wall I saw in 1865 not a stone remained.
Our route brought us through Murnies, celebrated for its orange groves and for the horrible execution of many Cretans by Mustapha Kiritly in the "great insurrection"—that of 1837—to punish them for assembling to petition the Sultan for relief. It is one of the most ghastly of all the dreadful incidents of Turkish repressions, for the Cretans, pacifically assembled without arms, were arrested, and all their magnates, for the better repression of discontent and to overawe rebellions to come, were hanged on the orange-trees in such numbers that, as the old consul of Sweden, an eye-witness, told me during my consulate, the orchard was hung with them, and left there to rot. According to the statement of the consul, not less than thirty of the chief men of that district were so executed.
But the history of the Venetian rule shows that it was no less cruel and even more treacherous, and Pashley gives from their own records the story of the slaughter of many of the chief people of the same district to punish refractoriness against the government of that day. Read where we will, so long as there is anything to read, we find the history of Crete one of the most horrible of the classic world—rebellion, repression, slaughter, internecine and international, until a population, which in the early Venetian times was a million, was reduced in 1830 to little more than a hundred thousand, and during my own residence was brought nearly as low, what with death by sword and bullet, by starvation and disease induced by starvation, added to exile, permanent or temporary. Yet in 1865 it had been reckoned at 375,000, Christian and Mussulman. But it must be admitted that the Cretan was always the most refractory of subjects, and, though at the time of this visit the island had obtained the fundamental concessions which it had fought for, in the recognition of its autonomy with a governor of the faith of the majority, in a later visit in 1886 I found it ravaged by a sectional war of vendetta, Christian against Christian, in which, as Photiades Pasha assured me, in one year 600 people had been killed and 25,000 olive-trees destroyed in village feuds. But the evidence was at hand to show that the pasha himself, finding the islanders no less difficult to control for all the concessions made them, had been obliged in the interest of his own quiet and permanence in government to turn the restlessness of the Cretans into sectional conflicts during which they left him in peaceful possession of his pashalik. In eastern countries government becomes a fine art if not a humane one.
The troubles initiated at Gortyna increased until the eastern end of the island was drawn into them, and, as the Greek government at the same time began to agitate for the execution of those clauses in the Treaty of Berlin which compensated it for the advantages gained by the principalities through the war, I received orders to go to Athens and resume my correspondence with the "Times." Athens was in a ferment, and the discontent with the government for its inefficiency was universal; the ministry, as was perhaps not altogether unjustifiable under the circumstances past, allowed the King to bear his part of the responsibility, and discontent with him was even greater than that with Comoundouros, the prime minister, whose position became very difficult, for the King and his entourage opposed all energetic measures, and the people demanded the most energetic. Excitement ran very high, and the ministry was carried along with the populace, which demanded war and the military occupation of the territory assigned to Greece.
Comoundouros was, on the whole, the most competent prime minister for Greece whom the country has had in my time. Tricoupi, who was the chief of the opposition at the time, was an abler man, and a statesman of wider views,—on the whole, the greatest statesman of modern Greece, me judice; but in intrigue and Odyssean craft, which is necessary in the Levant, Comoundouros was his master. In 1868, when they were both in the ministry, they formed the most competent government Greece has known in her constitutional days, but it was betrayed by the King, who paid now in part for his defection, for no one placed the least confidence in him. The diplomatic corps pressed for peace, and the nation demanded war, for which it was not in the least prepared. The animosity towards the King was extreme. I saw people who happened to be sitting in front of the cafés rise and turn their backs to him when he walked past, as he used to do without any attendant. Comoundouros ran with the diplomats and hunted with the populace,—I think he really meant to continue running and avoid hunting at any risk, but he talked on the other side. I knew him well, and used continually to go to his house when he received all the world in the evening, in perfectly republican simplicity, as is the way in Athens, and he said to me one evening that the King prevented action, and impeded all steps to render the army efficient.
This was evidently the feeling of the populace, and public demonstrations took place which menaced revolution, and on one occasion shots were fired, and the demonstrators were dispersed by the cavalry. I asked him on that occasion why the ministry did not let the revolution loose, and drive the King away. "Ah! they think now that we have no stability,—what would they think then? and what could we get better?" I find in a file of my letters of the time one which says: "I am not surprised at Mrs. ——'s opinion of the King,—there are few people of either sex here who are not of the same opinion, and the conviction is getting very general that no progress or reform is to be hoped for until he is expelled the country." Another, a little later, says: "It looks very much as if there were a revolution preparing, and that the King would have to go. He is so detested that I don't think any one wants to save him." To complicate matters, there came some scandals to light concerning the frauds and peculations in the furnishing of supplies for the army, which was being prepared for a campaign in extravagant haste, and rumor involved persons in the closest intimacy with the prime minister. I do not believe that Comoundouros was personally complicated, but I find in one of my letters the following, under date, "Athens, June 10:"—
"Things here are in a horrible state. The latest disclosures of the great defalcations seem to involve so many officials and non-officials, and break out in so many new directions, that one does not know whom to exonerate. The King and most of the ministers—quantities of officials, persons in high social positions and unblemished reputation—seem to have been carried away by the fever; Comoundouros himself is accused of participation; —— and —— are clearly guilty, and I think the ministry must resign. So far we have no accusation against Tricoupi or any of his friends. That is the only comfort we can draw out of the affair. I am holding back from exposing the affair in the 'Times' from the double motive that the scandal will affect all Greece, and because the affair is not yet fully disclosed and we don't know what it may lead to in the way of exposures. The government is doing everything it can to prevent the investigation extending, and this I mean to stop by exposing the whole matter in the 'Times,' but until it succeeds in arresting the disclosures I shall let them go. Comoundouros is buying up all the correspondents he can, and one of his emissaries told me two or three days ago that if I would help him out I could pocket 20,000 francs."
To this offer I replied by a letter to the "Times" attacking the ministry savagely, and when it was printed and reached Athens, and I saw the minister again, he remarked with his imperturbable good-humor, which indeed never failed him, "How you did give it to us to-day!" As I recall the old man, running over the twenty odd years during which I had known him more or less with long interruptions, I retain my impression of his genuine patriotism and personal integrity; but he was surrounded by people who did profit by their relation to him. He was singularly like Depretis in manner and character; and of Depretis it was said that he would not steal himself, but he did not care how much his friends stole; but I think that the Greek was the abler man by much. Comoundouros mitigated the rancors usual in the politics of Greece (as in those of Italy of to-day) by his unvarying good-nature, never permitting his antagonisms to degenerate to animosities. In the years when I first knew him, during the Cretan insurrection of 1866, he was at his best in power and in patriotism; but during the years which followed, full of the base intrigues which had their birth in the influences surrounding the court, he got more or less demoralized, for patriotism and honesty were no passports to power, and he was ambitious before all things. Not to be in office or near coming to office is in Greece to have no political standing whatever, and the King's defection and betrayal of the interests of Greece in 1868 convinced Comoundouros and many others that with the King there was nothing to be done for a purely Hellenic and consistent policy. All my study of Levantine politics since that day convinces me that in sacrificing the interests of Greece to the demands of the Russian ministry in 1868, the King threw away the only opportunity which Greece has ever had of attaining the position her people and her friends believed her destined to,—that of the heir of the Ottoman empire. The case is now hopeless, for the adverse influences have gained the upper hand, and the demoralization of Greece has progressed with the years. The sturdy independence of Comoundouros in 1868 was wasted, and I can imagine that the old man understood that, though the forms of independence and the semblance of progress must be kept up, there was really no hope of a truly Hellenic revival, and with his hopes and his courage he lost all his patriotic ambitions. In this juncture he was satisfied with the husks which the diplomats threw to Greece, and blustered and threatened war to attain a compromise which should keep him in office and in peace with the King, whom he would gladly have rid Greece of if it had been practicable.
In the struggle with diplomacy he so far gained his point that there was an adjustment of the frontiers in accordance with the treaty. The commission for the delimitation, at the head of which was General Hamley, met at Athens with the intention of beginning the trace from the Epirote side, and I had made all my preparations for accompanying it, when there happened one of those curious mischances which are possible only in the East. The summer was hot and dry, and the mayor of Athens, foreseeing a drought, had decided to turn the stream known as the "washerwoman's brook," one of the few perennial sources in the vicinity, into the aqueduct which supplied the city with drinking water. As all the dirty clothes of Athens, comprising those of the military hospital, in which there were grave cases of typhoid, were washed in that stream, the consequences were soon evident in a great outbreak of the malady in the city, the victims being estimated at 10,000 persons; and, two days before that on which the commission was to start on its work, I was taken ill. I sent for a doctor and he declared the illness to be fever, and probably typhoid. I went to bed, and took for three days in succession forty grains of quinine a day, getting up on the fourth, to find the commission gone and myself in no condition to follow it; and so I missed the most interesting journey which had ever offered itself in my journalistic career. My exasperation at the imbecility of the mayor can be easily imagined, and it was vented in a proper castigation in my correspondence. In the burning weeks that followed, the state of Athens reminded one of Boccaccio's description of Florence in the plague. There were not physicians enough in the city to attend the sick, or undertakers to bury the dead. The funeral processions to the great cemetery beyond the Ilissus seemed in constant motion, and the water-sellers drove a brisk trade in the water of a noble spring under Hymettus.
At the next municipal election the mayor was reëlected triumphantly! The ministry was less fortunate, a dissolution resulting in a majority for the opposition, and Tricoupi came into power. As the most competent and eminent of the rulers of Greece in the following years (for Comoundouros died not long after), and cut off prematurely in the midst of his services to the land he always served with an honest, patriotic devotion, he deserves the commemoration which, as his intimate friend for many years, I am better qualified, perhaps, to render him than any other foreigner. Our friendship began in the period when he held the portfolio of Foreign Affairs in 1867-8 and continued till his death. He was educated and, I think, born in London, where his father held for many years the legation of Greece. The elder Tricoupi and his wife were two of the most sympathetic and admirable people of their race I have ever known, and the elder Tricoupi's history of his country in its later fortunes is recognized as the standard, both in its history and in its use of the modern Greek, purely vernacular, which we have. The son, head of the government or leader of the opposition from an age at which in few countries a man can lead in politics, was, rara avis in those lands, an absolutely devoted patriot and honest man; but his country has never been in a state of political education or patriotic devotion such as to enable it to profit by his ability or his honesty. I well remember that during his first premiership I said to him that I hoped he was in for a long term of office, which might establish some solidity in Greek politics, and he replied, "They will support me until I am obliged to tax them, and then they will turn me out." And so it happened.
The general elections, which were stormy, brought Tricoupi into power; but the violence to the freedom of election of which the government was guilty made them very exciting. One of Tricoupi's chief supporters was standing for Cephalonia, I think, and we heard that there were great preparations to defeat him by the common device of overawing his supporters and driving them from the polls, and I decided to go at once to the locality and watch the method of the elections. The presence of the correspondent at the polling booths, all of which I visited in rapid succession through the day, completely deranged all the plans, and only at one place was there an attempt at illegal pressure, on which occasion one man was shot. The chief of police at the place came to me from time to time, saying, "Have you seen anything illegal?" as if he were under orders to convince me that the law had been obeyed. The result was that the Tricoupist candidate was elected, and he admitted to me that his election was due to my presence. He had only had one man shot, the general plan of carrying the elections by violence having been abandoned in deference to public opinion in England, represented by the correspondent of the "Times."
I decided to go to Volo as soon as the annexation was accomplished, and took letters of introduction to several leading citizens, amongst them one from Tricoupi. The Christian portion of the town was, of course, in exultation, but an attempt at inspection of the Turkish quarter had to be abandoned precipitately before a demonstration of the Mussulman juvenility. My visit had to be abbreviated, for the filthy khan which was the only place of entertainment for man and beast swarmed with bugs and mosquitoes; and, though the five letters I had were to the wealthiest persons in Volo, amongst them being the mayor, not one offered me hospitality when I told them the next day that I must return by the steamer that brought me, in default of a decent bed and eatable food; and, though they expressed polite regrets, they saw no alternative, and I took a return passage. Hospitality in continental Greece has no traditions; and even in Athens, except from Greeks who had lived in England, I have never been asked to accept bed or bread, while in Crete and in the Peloponnesus there was always a more or less active competition as to who should give me both. The stranger, who was in the classical days the messenger of the gods and received welcome as such, has degenerated to the position of the modern tramp. The difference is, no doubt, due to the centuries of oppression and isolation in which the fragments of the race have lived, and in which they have suffered the intrusion of unwelcome elements amongst them, always overborne and finding no protector except their own cunning, and no friend save in their own religion.
A thought that comes up very often while one deals with the Greek in Hellenic lands, is the wonder at the tenacity of the religion of the Greek, surviving the hostility not only of the Turk, but of his fellow Christian of the rival creed. No other nation has ever endured the hostile pressure on its religious fidelity which the Greeks have had to submit to since the fall of Constantinople. The Venetians were even more cruel with the Greeks under their rule than the Turks have ever been, and the influence of the Papal See has always been exerted with the most inflexible persistence for the suppression of what in Rome is called the Greek schism, to which it has shown an animosity greater even than that displayed toward the Protestant Church. And yet I have always found the Orthodox Church in all its ramifications the most charitable and liberal of all the forms of Christianity with which I have come in contact. No stranger is turned from the doors of a Greek convent or refused such succor as is in the power of its inmates, be he Protestant, atheist, or even of their bitterest enemies, the Roman Catholics. No questions are ever asked, and it has twice happened to me that I have lodged at a Greek convent during the most rigid fasts of the Church, when the inmates sat down to a dinner of herbs and dry bread, while to me was given the best their resources could compass—a roast lamb or kid, generally. The kalogeros in attendance, when I was dining on one occasion with the prior of a convent on Good Friday, and ate flesh when the prior himself had nothing but herbs and bread, turned to his superior with a perplexed smile, saying, "Why! he is not even a Christian!" but was none the less cordial afterward—he evidently had no other feeling than that of pity that a man who had been their protector (it was in Crete during the insurrection) should not enjoy the privileges of the Church. This liberal hospitality on the part of the ecclesiastics makes the want of it on the part of the people all the more conspicuous and inexplicable.
In the event Comoundouros found his game of bluff a safe one, for his claims were just, and diplomacy was derelict, or there would have been no utility in the demonstration. But the futility of the Greek threats was most conspicuously shown, for not a battalion got to the frontier in a condition to fight, and two batteries sent off from Athens in great pomp broke down so completely that not a gun was fit to go into action when they reached the frontier. The (for them and for the moment) fortunate issue of the contention by the cession of the territory in dispute seemed to the Greeks in general due to their good military measures, and so confirmed them in the dangerous conviction that the powers were afraid that they might beat the Turks and open the question of Constantinople, etc., which the powers had determined should not be opened. Tricoupi alone of all those who had a policy was of the opinion that the powers should not have interfered, but should have let the Greeks have their way and learn their lesson. It was his opinion that the political education of the Greeks was thwarted by this continual intermeddling of the powers, which made their independence a fiction. Subsequent events showed that he did not nourish that blind confidence in the military capacity of his countrymen which they had, but he said until they were allowed to test their abilities they would never know on what that confidence reposed. The common opinion was that one Greek was worth ten Turks, even in the state of the Greek training. This was not Tricoupi's opinion, which was that it was impossible under the tutelage which the powers exercised for them to know the truth, and he had, from 1867, persistently urged the let-alone policy, which would at least enable them to find their level.
Time has shown that Tricoupi was the only party leader in Greece who saw affairs justly. Had his counsel prevailed, the nation would have found in 1881 what they discovered only in 1897, that they needed training and concentration to hold their own, and that the path of conquest of their ancient estate was set with obstacles which only Spartan discipline and endurance could clear away. As it has happened, the lesson has been learned only after all the competing elements have had theirs and are on the way to the primacy in the Balkans which the Greeks thought the heritage of their race, but of which they can now hold no hope. The protection of the powers has been fatal, for the future of the Levant belongs to the Slav in spite of all the intelligence, activity, and personal morality in which the Greeks excel all their rivals. An English statesman who had to deal with Tricoupi in regard to official matters said to me once that he found him apparently open and business-like, but that when they came to the transaction of matters at issue he proved to be as slippery and dishonest as any of his countrymen. But Tricoupi was a Greek, and evasion, diplomatic duplicity, and the usual devices of the weak brought to terms by the strong, are ingrained with the race. He felt the truth, viz., that all the powers, while professing to protect them, were really oppressing them by their protection, and that the negotiations in which they posed as friends were really hostile measures which he was, in duty to his nation, bound to fight by all the means in his reach; and in this case the means were those of the weak, deprived of liberty of action as much as if they were held down by the troops of the powers.
In all these considerations Tricoupi stands as much the type and impersonation of the modern Greek in his best phase, and the Hellenic cause lost in his early death the largest exponent of the characteristics of the race I have ever known, but, as fate had it, lost him only when his abilities could only serve to mitigate disaster and accentuate failure. Had he been alive, I am convinced that the disaster of 1897 would not have taken place, and, if a conflict was, through the ignorant impetuosity of the masses, unavoidable, it would have resulted more creditably to the Greek army, not in victory indeed, for this was under the circumstances not to be hoped for, but in a defeat which was not irretrievable.
The campaign finished, I returned to Florence, where, during the lull in Eastern matters, I found my only public occupation in the contest with regard to the restoration of ancient buildings in Italy. Those who can remember the aspect of the Ducal Palace and St. Mark's in those years, shored up to prevent large portions of them from falling in crumbling ruin into the Piazza, and can see that now at least the general aspect of the perfect building is preserved, and in the case of the Ducal Palace even the details of the most important decorative elements restored with a fidelity which defies examination, will hardly be inclined to resent the restorations which have abolished the hideous balks of timber and bulkheads of most of the southern and western façades. The southwest angle of the Palace was prevented only by massive shoring from falling bodily into the Piazzetta. The anti-restoration society in England had raised a great outcry over the works, which had, however, been going on without criticism during the Austrian occupation since 1840; and, after a thorough examination of the state of the two precious buildings, and the plans and appliances for their restoration, I undertook the defense of the restorers, and the hot controversy in the "Times" and other journals on the subject resulted in the confirmation of the authorities in their resolution to continue the works which have left the Ducal Palace at least in a condition to be seen for a few hundred years to come, and relieved the church of the scaffolds and bulkheads which disfigured it up to 1890. The works in St. Mark's reëstablished in more than its original solidity the south flank, which was in such a state of ruin that only the abundant shoring had prevented the façade from top to bottom from falling bodily into the Piazza.
On the other hand, I found at Florence that the authorities, in anticipation of the completion of the present splendid façade of the Duomo, had decided to refresh the entire surface of the flanks to put them in keeping with the new sculpture of the front, and had actually inaugurated the system of removing with acids, followed by the chisel, of all the toned surface of the sculptured parts so that the Duomo should, when the façade was revealed, present the aspect of a bride-cake in the brilliant whiteness of its marble, but without a touch remaining of the workmanship of its original architects and sculptors. At this juncture the editor of the "Cornhill Magazine" asked me for an article on the restorations in Italy, and I profited by the invitation to write a scathing article on the cleaning up of the Duomo, which, falling under the attention of the government at Rome, provoked a telegram ordering peremptorily the cessation of all restoration on the church. I received the thanks of the Italian ministry and the formal request to inform it of any other similar operations which should fall under my attention, and when a few weeks later I saw the scaffold raised around the beautiful pulpit of Donatello at Prato, a note to the ministry had the effect of telegraphically stopping operations. The indignation of the good people of Florence at the cessation of the house-cleaning brought me a request from a high quarter to undertake the defense of the city against the insolent Englishman of the "Cornhill!"
The subsequent years of my residence in Florence were on the whole the most tranquil and the happiest of my mature life. We all enjoyed it without serious drawback, the routine becoming a visit in early summer to Venice, then visits to the Venetian Tyrol, Cadore, Cortina, and Landro, and the return to Florence in the autumn. I found in Florence an intellectual life and serenity of which there was no evidence elsewhere, with surroundings of the noblest art of the Renaissance, and an intellectual atmosphere hardly, I think, to be found in any other Italian city. Amongst our dearest friends were the Villaris, with whom we still remain in cordial sympathy. I can wish Italy no greater good than the possession of many children like Pasquale Villari. Our great diplomat George P. Marsh had an unbounded admiration for him—he used to say, "Villari is an angel;" and he certainly stands at the head of the list of noble Italians I have known for the personal and intellectual virtues and subtlety of appreciation, not rare amongst Italians, but unfortunately to be sought for in their politics in vain. In Italy as in America men of that type are pushed to the wall and crowded out of the conflicts of political life.
I was finally, after five years of residence, obliged to abandon our home at Florence by the constant recurrence of fevers, which gave us perpetual anxiety as well as perplexity, for there is no malaria in that part of Tuscany. After an attack which nearly proved fatal to one of the children, my courage gave out, and we broke up housekeeping, and the family, with the exception of myself and my eldest daughter, went back to England. It was only subsequently that I discovered that the secret of the fevers was in the water drawn from the wells of Florence. These are sunk in a stratum of gravel in which are countless cesspools, the filtration of which extends through the entire stratum and poisons every well within the limits of their influence. On my accession in later years to the service of the "Times" as Rome correspondent, I attacked the system of drainage and water supply of Florence in a series of letters, and brought down on my head the most furious abuse which my journalistic life has known, but which ended in the reformation, not yet complete, however, of the water supply of the city, and the admission by the Florentines that if they had attended to my warnings earlier they would have been saved great losses, chief of which was the abandonment of a projected return to Florence by Queen Victoria, on account of a serious epidemic of typhoid which broke out after her first visit. Like most reformers, I was threatened with violence if I returned to the scene of my labors, to be hailed as a friend when I had been found to be right and my warnings salutary. But at the moment, the effect of the fevers was to drive me out of Florence, where residence had on many accounts proved most delightful, and send me off again on adventure.
I passed the next year at New York on the staff of the "Evening Post," sending occasional correspondence to the "Times," and during this absence my father-in-law became involved in financial embarrassments which ultimately cost my wife her allowance, after we had again established our residence for the family in London. With a widened literary experience and connection I could see my way to a better situation than that of the past years, but in 1886 the death of the Rome correspondent of the "Times," and the definite retirement of Mr. Gallenga, the Italian correspondent par excellence, brought me into a regular and permanent employment by the paper as its representative for Greece and Italy, with residence at Rome.
I took possession of my double charge of the (to me) most interesting of all foreign lands, Greece and Italy, at a moment when affairs were quickening for new troubles in the former, where demagoguery had again taken the upper hand. Comoundouros was dead, and Tricoupi, who had succeeded, as I had long before anticipated that he would, to the lead in Greek politics, had fallen, as he had foretold, on the question of taxation. The new successor to the bad qualities of old Comoundouros, Deliyanni, in his electoral programme had promised to relieve the people of all taxation, and had, of course, been elected, and I found Tricoupi still at the head of the opposition. I had stayed at Rome only long enough to take possession of my place and have a conversation with the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, General Robilant, as to the course which Italy would follow if there were troubles in Greece, and received his assurance that Italy would stand with England, whatever might happen.
Robilant was one of the ablest ministers of foreign affairs Italy has had in my time, and, if not the most conspicuous occupant of that position in intellectual qualities, he certainly was so, with one exception—that of Baron Blanc—in sound common sense and a large and comprehensive perception of the situation of Italy amongst the powers, and her true affiliations. To him, more than to any other individual Italian, was due the entry of Italy into the Triple Alliance, a measure which has probably been very largely instrumental in keeping the peace between the European powers ever since it was formed. Simple and reserved in his manner to a correspondent, he was entirely frank and courteous in communicating what could be communicated, and quietly silent beyond. Always the butt of the most savage hostility of the Italian radicals, he resigned the year after, though supported by the majority in the Chamber, rather than expose himself longer to the vulgar and brutal partisan insolence of Cavallotti and his allies in the Chamber. As individual, as soldier, and as minister, Robilant was the type of the Italian at his best. Very few of the extreme Left in the Italian Chamber made any pretensions to a comprehension of the nature of a gentleman, and the vulgarity of the outbreak which provoked his resignation—it was on the occasion of the disaster of Dogali—was of a nature which only a hardened politician could adapt himself to. It was my first experience of the indecencies of Italian parliamentarism, and, when he left the Chamber under the unendurable insults poured on him in language adapted only to street broils, I said to a colleague that he would never appear again in the Chamber. I was right, for, though the ministry obtained a vote of confidence, and he was urged to withdraw his resignation, he refused. In his charge the foreign policy of Italy was at its best.
I found affairs at Athens in a critical condition. Deliyanni was trying the game of bluff which had succeeded in the hands of Comoundouros, but with quite a different measure of competence. With Deliyanni it was an evident sham. He had promised war without the least intention of preparing for it, in the childish expectation that Europe would oblige the Sultan to make some concession which would save his credit in the country and enable him to continue in office. But circumstances were different; Greece had on the former occasion a valid claim, admitted by the powers, while on this there was only the pretension that Greece should receive a compensation for betterments acquired by Bulgaria. In the former, the Treaty of Berlin had sanctioned the cession; in the latter, there was only the bare impudence of Mr. Deliyanni to move the powers. The ministry called out class after class of the reserves and sent them northward, but made no effective preparation for war; the men were ill-clad, worse provided, and everything was lacking to make them ready for a campaign. The casual observer could see that war was not intended, and that Deliyanni was silly enough to believe that the agents of the powers did not see through his sham, and thought that he could frighten them. The men on the frontier finally amounted to about 45,000 men, kept there as a scarecrow to the powers at an expense, ascertained from the safest authorities, of 1000 deaths per month. The powers insisted on demobilization. Deliyanni replied by waving his torch and threatening to set fire to Europe if they did not give him a province; and meanwhile the Turkish government was gathering a solid force of about 40,000 men on the menaced frontier, and preparing silently to march on Athens.
The common people of the city, ignorant of everything connected with war, and inflamed by the jingo official press, conceived that nothing was needed but to set the Greek army in motion to insure a triumphant march on Constantinople, and were shouting for the troops to cross the frontier. Deliyanni had never had the least intention of making war, but he dared not withdraw for fear of his own people and the war fever he had inoculated them with. The worst feature in the position was that he had armed and provided with large quantities of ammunition the entire population of the Greek frontier, and the irregulars so formed had no discipline and obeyed no orders, but began each on his own account to harass the Turkish outposts. The Turks, obedient to their orders, contented themselves with repelling these minute stings, keeping their own side of the frontier, and waiting till the attack developed to take up a solid and thoroughly prepared offensive. The summons came from the powers to demobilize, or the Greek coast would be blockaded. This was Deliyanni's only escape from a terrible disaster to the country, or the personal humiliation of withdrawal he would not submit to, with the added risk of violence on the part of the mob of the city, fired to a safe and flaming enthusiasm by the reports continually coming in of new victories on the frontier, each little skirmish with a picket being invariably followed by the withdrawal of the Turks to a position well within their own territory, according to the general order to accept no combat under actual conditions, so that the least skirmish was magnified at Athens to a new victory. The summons to demobilize was met by a point-blank refusal, when the fleets of the powers—Russia and France excepted—entered on the scene, and the blockade of the Greek coast was declared. This saved the credit of the ministry with the country; and Deliyanni, protesting against intervention as a measure on behalf of the Sultan, and hostile to Greece, resigned, but gave no orders to his commandants on the frontier to withdraw, and the skirmishing went on. The King in this crisis behaved well, and put Deliyanni in the alternative of demobilizing or resigning; and, when he chose the latter course, the King called Tricoupi to form a ministry.
Tricoupi's position was difficult. He protested against the blockade as an unwarrantable interference with the freedom of action of Greece, as he considered that the government should have been allowed on its own responsibility to make war and take the consequences, as the only method of teaching the Greeks how to fulfill their international obligation. But the withdrawal of the diplomatic representatives of the great powers, whose fleets were blockading the coast, had left him without any channel of communicating with the powers, either for protesting or for yielding, and the fighting was increasing in extent if not in intensity. On the day, too, on which Tricoupi accepted the charge, the Turkish commander had received his orders to cross the frontier on the next day and march on Athens if the annoyance were not stopped. A great extent of the frontier was not provided with the telegraph, and the chosen partisans of Deliyanni were in command, and determined to force a conflict. The blockade prevented Tricoupi from sending officers by sea to take over the command, and there was not time to send them by land. General Sapunzaki was the only general officer on whom the minister could depend to obey orders, and he could reach only a part of the line on which the fighting was going on. There was no subordination and no general plan in the offensive; but each detachment of troops on the frontier made war on its own responsibility, and the Turks contented themselves with repelling attacks.
I went to the telegraph office to get the late advices in the afternoon of the last day of the fighting, when it had become very general all along the frontier. Tricoupi had sent imperative orders to cease hostilities, but the telegraph had been cut, probably by some one who wanted the war to ensue, and when I found Tricoupi at the telegraph in the afternoon in conversation with Sapunzaki over the wire, he turned to me with an expression of intense distress, exclaiming, "They are fighting again all along the line, and if it cannot be stopped at once we are lost." "Can I do anything?" I asked. He replied, "I should be glad if you would go to Baring" (who had been sent to take charge of the legation, but with no diplomatic powers or relation with the Greek government) "and tell him the position, and ask him to telegraph to his government to urge Constantinople to send word to Eyoub Pasha that the Greek government had given stringent orders to stop the fighting, and ask him to coöperate."
It was an intensely hot day in the end of May, and the streets of Athens, deserted by the population, were an oven; not a cab was to be found on the square or in the streets. I ran to the British legation, fortunately found Baring there, and explained the position, saying that Tricoupi, in the absence of any diplomatic relation between them, had begged me to present myself personally to urge intervention. Baring was convinced that Tricoupi, as well as the late premier, was bent on war, and would not at first believe that his request was sincere, but finally, overpersuaded, did telegraph to London. I then flew to all the other legations, except the French and Russian, which had been supporting Deliyanni, and repeated the request to the secretaries in charge, winding up with the Turkish minister, whose ship had not yet arrived, and who was therefore still in Athens, pending its arrival, and gave him the fullest explanation of Tricoupi's position and the difficulties of it, and begged him to telegraph Constantinople to order Eyoub Pasha to withdraw from the frontier far enough to leave the bands no outlying detachment to attack. I succeeded in convincing him that Tricoupi was sincere in his efforts to keep peace, and the good fellow said at once, "If Tricoupi is sincere, I will not stand on diplomatic etiquette, but will go to see him at once." He did so, and found the Greek minister at the war office, as he had taken that portfolio with the premiership, and they arranged between them that the Porte should be telegraphed to, requesting Eyoub Pasha to put a sufficient distance between him and the attacking bands of Greeks to make a conflict out of the question; and before nightfall the white flag was flying along the frontier, and communication established between Eyoub and Sapunzaki via Salonica, and peace was secured.
Eyoub's orders to cross the frontier with his solid column of thirty to forty thousand men, and march straight to Athens if the attacks persisted another day, were peremptory, and there was no force or dispositions of defense to prevent his triumphal movement. There were no defensive works, for the jingo Greeks ridiculed the idea of needing a defensive preparation against an invasion of the Turkish army, which they were confident of annihilating ten to one. There was no lack of personal courage on the part of the Greek population, but there was no efficient organization even of the so-called regular army, and there was really nothing to prevent a Turkish walk-over as far as the old frontiers of Greece, and even there there were no earthworks.
The sequence was disgraceful and humiliating. I wrote at the time that "The wounded are not yet all in the hospitals when the attacks on Tricoupi for having ordered the demobilization already begin in the Chamber and the press. His happy arrival at the moment of danger has saved Greece from, a disaster which, now that it is averted, the Greeks in general will never believe to have been so near, and will not accept as a lesson." And for the trifling part I had taken in the final negotiations I was afterwards insulted in the streets of Athens as having "prevented the Greeks from marching to Constantinople." They got their lesson years after, when they were far better prepared for war than on this occasion. But Tricoupi was right when he said that the blockade was a mistake, and that the powers should have allowed the Greeks to take their own course and learn their lesson. Undiscriminating Philhellenism has been the worst enemy of Greece.
The flurry over and quiet restored, the heat, the excitement, and the hard and unremitting work and anxiety of that month of May told on me, and I broke down with an attack of nervous prostration and acute dyspepsia, by which I was quite incapacitated from movement. Taking the first steamer to Naples, I passed the rest of the summer at Rome, disabled, until the heats had passed, for any considerable exertion. But, contrary to the general superstition regarding Rome, it is a city where one may pass the summer months most agreeably if not very actively. The English ambassador of that time, Sir John Saville Lumley, afterwards Lord Saville of Burford, to whom I owe many delightful hours in that and subsequent years, used to say that he knew no city where one could pass the year so delightfully as in Rome. By strict diet and an activity limited to the hours of the early morning and afternoon I weathered the summer, but each return of the heats during the succeeding six years brought me a relapse, so that on the whole I paid a long penalty for my participation in Greek politics.
The following year was marked by the accession of Crispi to the direction of the government of Italy. So many fables have accumulated regarding Crispi, and such bitterness of prejudice against him even in England, that as one of the very few disinterested witnesses of his conduct from that day until his second fall after Adowah, and supposed to be in his confidence, I am disposed to put briefly on record my impressions of him. His popularity at that date (1887) was incontestably greater than that of any other Italian statesman, but the animosity entertained for him by the Radicals was intense, owing to his most vigorous repression of all anti-dynastic tendencies, and the bitterer for his having once been himself a Radical leader; but, what was at first sight inexplicable, the hostility to him of the Conservatives was scarcely less bitter than that of the Republicans,—the former because he had once been a Republican, and the latter because he had ceased to be one. The leading chiefs of groups among the politicians were afraid of him on account of his strength, and the court had the most cordial hatred of him, partly because he had never tried to conciliate it or to conceal his distrust of it, and partly because Signora Crispi was an object of aversion to all the society of Rome. This aversion was intensified by the fact that, as the wife of a member of the order of the Annunciata, she was entitled to precedence over all the Italian nobility not so honored.
A Knight of the Annunciata is technically the cousin of the King, and at the receptions of the Queen, Signora Crispi, who was really an antipathetic person, had her seat in the royal circle, where she sat as completely ignored by all present as if she were a statue of Aversion. I am convinced that the larger part of the animosity shown for Crispi by the better classes in Rome was due to her. One of Crispi's oldest and most constant friends told me of a visit he once made to his house with General——, one of the Mille of Marsala, when, as they left the house, the general said mournfully, "Poor Crispi, he has not a friend in the world." "Nonsense, he has thousands," replied the other. "No," returned the general, "if he had one he would kill that woman." In the latter part of Crispi's first ministry we were on friendly terms, though our first intercourse was anything but kindly; but I avoided going needlessly to his house to the end of my term of residence in Rome, except when the service demanded it, because I did not like to meet his wife.
Crispi and I were never intimate, and the supposed confidence between us never extended beyond the communication of political matter which he thought should be made public, and which could be made public without violation of official secrecy. He had far too high an estimate of his position as the head of the government of one of the powers of Europe to enter into intimacy with a correspondent of even the "Times," a journal of which, nevertheless, he always spoke with the respect due another power. "It is not merely a journal, but a great public institution," he said, and he treated me as the agent of that power; but intimacy in any other sense there never was. Crispi had, to a degree I never knew in any other Italian minister, the sense of the dignity of his position, which, to those who did not read the man thoroughly, seemed arrogance, and made him many enemies. He had an invincible antipathy to newspaper correspondents, but at the outset of our acquaintance I made him understand that even if he did not see fit to treat me with cordiality, he should not treat the "Times" with disrespect. He had two secretaries, Alberto Pisani Dossi, one of the most noble Italian natures I ever knew, and Edmond Mayor, a Swiss, naturalized in Italy, and an admirable diplomat, now in its service, an honest, faithful child of the mountain republic; and both these became and remain my excellent friends, and, as they were permitted, they kept me informed of the matters which it was for the advantage of the "Times" to know; but until near the end of the first term of Crispi's premiership we never came nearer than that to being friends. I found his manner intolerable, as, no doubt, other journalists did, and, as the relations of the journalists to the man in office are in Italy generally corrupt, Crispi's aversion to them and their ways accounted easily for the very general and violent hostility between him and the press.
The tone of the journals in Italy has very little to do with public opinion. All the world knows that, with the exception of two or three dailies, the Italian papers are the organs of purely personal interests, ambitions, and opinions,—not even of parties, which do not exist except in the form of fossil fragments; and when a journal emits an opinion or formulates a policy, everybody knows that it is the opinion or policy of the man who has a dominant or entire control of its columns. Crispi had his own journal, "La Riforma," which frankly and entirely expressed his views, and he paid no attention to the others. I happened to be on the way to the Foreign Office the day after Crispi assumed the reins of government, and by the way fell in with the foreign editor of one of the journals of the Left, exulting in the accession of a minister of his old party. He said to me, "I will wager you, Stillman, that in six weeks we are recognized as official,"—which meant subsidized. He had his audience first, and it was short, but within the fortnight his paper was one of the most violent opponents of the ministry. I had my audience, and in five minutes I turned my back on the premier and walked out of the office, and never put my foot in it again until, many weeks after, some trouble on the African frontier between English and Italian officers brought me a request from Crispi to come and receive a communication.
I finally conquered his respect by showing him that I was the sincere friend of Italy, and our relations became confidential as far as his very rigorous sense of his official limitations permitted, but not a line beyond. I have seen in his hands the copy of the treaty of Triple Alliance, but I never drew from him the faintest hint of its provisions except that it was purely defensive and contained no stipulation for any aggressive movement under any circumstances. I learned them from other sources, and, with the changes of ministries and the diversities of their policies, foreign as well as domestic, there is no doubt that all the powers are fully informed of the details of the treaty. But personal intimacy, in the sense of that friendship which obtains amongst equals, could never have existed between us. Crispi is extremely reticent and reserved in his personal relations and has very few intimate friends, and those, so far as I know, entirely amongst the faithful few who were his intimates in the days of insurrection and conspiracy; but I know him as well as any one out of that circle, and I know him to be an absolutely honest and patriotic statesman, the first of Italy since Cavour. It is my opinion, too, that he is the ablest man not only in Italy but in Europe, since the death of Bismarck. In 1893 he was urged to assume the dictatorship, and the King in the general panic was willing to accord it, but Crispi refused, saying, "I am an old man with few years to live, but I will not give my countrymen an example of unconstitutional government."
But Italian politics are only the wrangle of personal ambitions and of faction intrigues. The Chamber is a legislative anarchy from which a few honest and patriotic men occasionally emerge as ministers through a chance combination, to disappear again with the first tumult, and the influence of the chief of the state was never such as to guide it out of the chaos. King Humbert, one of the truest gentlemen and most courteous sovereigns that ever sat on the throne of any country, never made an effort to defend the prerogatives of the crown, and accepted with the same bonhomie every ministerial combination proposed to him, whether it comprised dangerous elements or not. At no time did he attempt to exert the enormous influence which the crown possesses in Italy for the maintenance of a consistent policy, internal or foreign. Lord Saville told me that, when Crispi came to power in 1887, he asked the King if he was a safe head of the government, and the King replied that it was better to have him with them than against them, for at that time Crispi was regarded by all Conservatives as the devil of Italian politics. But in the following years Crispi's profound—even exaggerated—reverence for the King, and his masterly administration of the government, had laid all the apprehensions of the sovereign at rest, and gained for him the widest popularity ever possessed, in my knowledge of Italian affairs, by any minister. The King said to me that he had the most absolute confidence in his devotion, integrity, and abilities. Yet, when in 1891 an artificial crisis in the Chamber gave Crispi his first defeat on a question of so little constitutional import that his successors adopted his measure and passed it, the King accepted with the same equanimity a ministry composed of the most discordant elements, ignoring all the constitutional proprieties. At a later epoch, that of 1893, when Crispi saved Italy from menacing chaos, the King repeated to me his expression of confidence in Crispi and his very low opinion of his only possible alternative, Rudiní, but in the succeeding crisis accepted Rudiní with the same cheerfulness he had shown when Crispi saved the position in 1893.
Nothing could exceed the devotion of the King to his subjects and their personal welfare, but he allowed the ship of state to drift into the breakers because he would not maintain the highest prerogative of the crown, that of insisting on a ministry which possessed and deserved his confidence. Knowing, as he did, that parliamentary government in Italy had become a mere farce and the derision of the country, he never attempted to insist on exercising any influence on the composition of the ministry, which represented his authority as well as the popular will, and in 1896 he yielded the dissolution of the Chamber to the pressure of a court favorite against the advice of all his constitutional advisers. Personally I was a warm admirer of the man, but I regard his reign as a long disaster to the kingdom of Italy, the greater because his personal qualities gave him such a hold on the population that he might safely have assumed any initiative beneficial to the state. He might have abolished the Chamber—he allowed it to abolish him.
The return of the summer heats bringing on a recurrence of the malady acquired at Athens, I was obliged to leave Italy for the summer and I returned to England. On my arrival the "Times" manager proposed to me a trip to America in quest of evidence connected with the Parnell case. A professional detective sent out some time before had failed to get hold of the threads of the question, and MacDonald, thinking that as an American I might succeed where the professional had failed, desired me to try my luck. Of the general history of that case the public has long ago learned all that it cares to know. I had nothing to do with that and am not here concerned with it; but I had a curious and interesting experience in my visit, the object of which was the obtaining of documents that would confirm the connection of Mr. Parnell with secret and illegal acts in Ireland, with which the Irish conspirators in America were probably connected, it being hoped that some of the latter might be induced to give up documents in confirmation.
I had warned MacDonald that the published facsimile of a letter purporting to have been written by Parnell in connection with the Phoenix Park murders was not what he supposed it to be, and that the theory that it had been written by Parnell's secretary and signed by Parnell was erroneous. It was clear to me that it had been written and signed by the same hand and by the same pen. I had once gone through a complicated case of forgery with Chabot, the great expert in handwriting, in the course of which I became greatly interested in the man. We had become friends and he had taught me all that could be taught of his profession, so that I had some capacity to form a judgment on the matter. MacDonald replied that they were certain of their facts, and that they should maintain that position. There was ample personal evidence that a letter of the import of that produced in facsimile in the "Times" had been sent by Parnell to Sheridan, who was implicated in the Phoenix Park murders, and that this letter had been seen by many persons supposed to be in the councils of the Irish party! and it is probable that Pigott had seen it and bargained for its delivery to some party on behalf of the "Times." He was probably deluded in this expectation, and, not to fail in his promise, reproduced it from memory and with the aid of the handwriting of Parnell's secretary and an old signature of Parnell, and delivered it as the original. Confirmation of this hypothesis is given by the fact that Parnell dared not bring his suit against the "Times" until the forged letter had been shown in court in the course of the connected case of O'Donnell, and was seen by him not to be the original. That was safe in the custody of Sheridan, who had taken it to America and kept it in hiding from both parties. It was the special object of my mission.
The English detective who had preceded me had the naïveté to apply to the chief of the New York detective police, an Irishman, for assistance, and was handed over to pretended colleagues who were really agents of the Irish organization, and so completely duped by them as to be induced to send a supposed detective (who was one of themselves) to Mexico, where he was assured that Sheridan had gone, and led to undertake various operations which were simply contrivances to make him lose his time and his money.
On carefully surveying the ground at New York before attempting to make any direct application to any person whom I supposed capable of furnishing me with what I sought, I discovered that the detective service of New York was in the hands of the Fenian organization, that the chief of police (now deceased) was their confederate, and, above all persons, not to be taken into my confidence, and that the principal line of transatlantic telegraph was under the supervision of a confederate of the association. The latter betrayed himself at once by the absurd difficulties he made about my registering a London telegraphic address, which I at the instant saw to be assumed for the purpose of delay and imposing on me a prearranged address, which, however, I accepted with apparent simplicity and good faith. My telegrams were of course to be in cipher, and this was so secure from all attempts at deciphering that I had no anxiety about the Irish chiefs solving it. I have heard in later times that they boasted of having copies of all my messages (which is probable) and having read them, but this was impossible, as not only was the cipher extremely difficult to any one even who had the key, but the key was changed every day by a scheme arranged before I left London and known only by the office and myself. My cipher, if used according to the directions, is absolutely insoluble by any patience or experience, and the Fenian boast that they read it was pure "blague." I knew that they had the telegraph in their hands and made my arrangements accordingly. But the secret power of the organization surprised me, though I knew very well the political influence at election time which the rottenness of our politics gave them.
I obtained from a leading New York merchant a letter of introduction to a well-known private detective whom, as a fellow-countryman, I succeeded in so far interesting in my work that I had no difficulty in getting from him all the useful information that he possessed; but to my request for practical assistance he replied that half of the detectives in his own employment were Irish, and that the knowledge that he had taken part in any such undertaking as mine would lead to their desertion and the paralysis of his own service. But he put me in the way of getting the services of a most competent detective who worked on his own hook, and from whom I obtained all that I needed. He succeeded in tracing Sheridan to a ranch in Nevada, and ascertained that he had the Parnell letter which we wanted, but that he did not carry it with him, for fear of being robbed of it, and that he was watched so closely by the agents of the Fenian organization that, as my mission was suspected, my connection with the "Times" being known to all the world, any attempt on my part to enter into personal relations with him would be dangerous to me personally, and if I did succeed in purchasing the desired document from him, I should be killed, if necessary, to get it from me. Sheridan was willing to sell it, but he considered his life to be in such danger if it were known that he had done so, that he demanded a price which would, in the event of his being assassinated, put his wife at ease for the rest of her life. Later he would have accepted a much smaller price, and it is said that a prominent English Radical, to put the matter out of the possibility of renewal of the accusation, subsequently purchased it.
Pending these researches and the arrival of a reply by post to my request at length for more detailed instruction as to certain negotiations which I had entered into, I went into the Adirondack woods for ten days, a movement which proved how closely I was watched by the Irish agents. Since my early knowledge of that wilderness, a railroad had been built through it, and to see the portion through which it passed—a section far from my old haunts—I followed it as far as "Paul Smith's Hotel," on the northern edge of the woods, and then took a boat across the lake country, reaching "Martin's," on the south, near my former camping-grounds. Two days later an Irishman arrived at "Martin's" from "Paul Smith's," in a buggy. As I had made no secret of my destination in leaving Smith's, having no suspicion of being shadowed, and quite indifferent to it if attempted, I suspected at once that our Hibernian guest was on my track. He brought with him an old army carbine, but as it was the close season for the deer, and the arm was rusty and unfit for sporting uses, I was confirmed in my suspicions that his business was with any person who might come to hold a conference with me. Finding that no one came to meet me, he grew friendly and, under the influence of the good whiskey plentiful there, confidential. He pretended to have served in the Federal cavalry during the War of Secession, and that the carbine was his accustomed weapon; but one day when well soaked with whiskey he was induced to come out and join in a shooting match, when we found that he actually did not know how to fire at a mark, and it was evident that his employers considered that a revolver would be a greater danger to him than to the man he was expected to punish, and so had provided him with a safer weapon. I kept him pretty drunk for two or three days, and he told us frankly that he was employed usually in carrying messages between New York and Ireland. There remained no question that his business was to take care of any traitor to the cause who might have been so incautious as to meet me in secret, and the caution of my detective that my life was in danger if I entered personally into negotiation with Sheridan was shown to be justified.
As the negotiations had showed me that the members of the party were not all incorruptible, and as I had learned that Tynan, who was then in New York, and who was supposed to be the famous No. 1, was conversant with all the facts relating to the murder in Phoenix Park, I suggested to my friend the principal detective that I should make Tynan a direct bid for the information we wanted, offering an ample compensation. He replied that Tynan was incorruptible, and that my proposition would most probably be regarded as an insult which he would resent by a revolver bullet, "and," he added, "in the present state of politics here, no jury could be found which would convict him of murder."
As the result of my expedition, we obtained some unimportant documents, though nothing that related to Parnell; but the picture of the state of politics in New York, dominated by a clique of conspirators and murderers, in possession of the police of the city, and the telegraph service, sitting as a Vehmgericht in the principal city of the Union, and paralyzing the criminal law whenever its security was threatened, was worth some trouble and expense. Of its truthfulness there remained no question. I did not depend on one source of information in my researches, but, having had a confidential letter to the English consul in New York, I applied to him for help simultaneously with my dispatch of the detective, and he ultimately confirmed the report of the detective in every respect, but cautioned me on my first visit against coming to the consulate again, as the surveillance of the Fenians was constant, and if my business with him were suspected it might lead to needless complications, so that I was obliged, in order to consult him, to meet him at some prearranged place, a restaurant by choice, where we could exchange information without attracting the attention of the Fenian spies.
Though the chief object of my mission was not attained, the information I did gather was considered of such importance that on my return to Rome the "Times," "for the good service rendered," added to my salary the rent of my quarters, the only advance in my pay ever made from the beginning of my service. I remained in charge of the two peninsulas, Greece and Italy, as long as Mr. MacDonald lived. He died in 1889, and though I have never had any ground for discontent at the relation I was in with the office, under either his successor or the change of proprietorship which took place not long after, I felt when MacDonald died that the strongest personal tie which bound me to the paper was severed. When I joined the staff Delane was the editor, and though, on account of his health, he rarely interfered in the details of the management, and my relations were entirely with the sub-editor, Mr. Stebbing, whose real and hearty friendship was matter of great personal satisfaction to me then and since, we always felt that Delane was over us. When Chenery succeeded, the relation became one of cordial friendship with the chief, who was a scholar as well as a journalist, of whose sympathy for a good piece of work one was sure. His death and the accession of Mr. Buckle in no manner changed my situation at the office, but it was another editorial change, while with MacDonald not only had I the relation of a subordinate with a friendly chief, in constant correspondence on every point of duty from the beginning of my service, but there were many and strong ties between us in outside sympathies, and he was as kind to me as an elder brother. He was most unjustly credited with the Pigott fiasco, but, as I have shown, the evidence of the genuineness of the letter which Pigott had forged was so strong that the experienced counsel were all deceived by it, and the conduct of Parnell himself showed that he was not sure that it was not the genuine document until he saw it. Au fond the "Times" was right, and its accusation against Parnell was fully justified, but by one of those chances which occur to even the most prudent, there was a defect in the chain of evidence at the most important point.
The animosities developed by the affair found expression in terms of the most unjustifiable imputations of collusion with the forgery, on the part of MacDonald and Mr. Walter, which I have seen repeated in later years; but no one who knew either of the men would for a moment admit that there could be a shadow of justice in the imputation. Mr. Walter, though of an uncompromising hostility to any political measures or persons that he considered dangerous to the country, was of an inflexible sincerity and honesty, and absolutely incapable of the remotest complicity with a fraud. No other man of his race have I known in whom the patriotic fire burned more intensely, or who better merited the description of the Latin poet, "Justum et tenacem propositi virum," or had more of the English bulldog tenacity in a cause which he considered just and of vital importance to the country. Slow to form antipathies, he was immovable in them once formed, and as constant in his confidences once he found them merited. To his intense conservatism and antagonism to shifty politics was probably due the unvarying opposition of the "Times" to Home Rule and all other attempts at infringement of the British Constitution, but so far as my own experience goes he never attempted to influence the views of the correspondence. There were points in which, in regard to Italian and Greek affairs, he differed from me seriously, but he never imposed a hair's weight on what I had to say, nor do I believe that he intentionally influenced the tone of the paper beyond the exercise of the inevitable control over its national policy. The antagonism to the United States at the outbreak of the War of Secession was Delane's, and not in accordance with Mr. Walter's feeling, but, like most of Delane's views, borrowed from London society or the government. The "Times" has its traditions like those of a monarchy, interests to defend which are not in all cases those of an ideal state policy, but are those which have made England what she is, and which are probably those which will keep her what she is the longest and most safely. And of these interests, and of this inflexible maintenance of them, John Walter was the most strenuous of supporters. He was a consistent liberal as far as he felt liberalism to be perfectly safe, but he had the most vivid dislike of Gladstone and his ways; a dislike dating from their earliest contact in the House of Commons, long before Gladstone adopted Home Rule. And to this nature the character of MacDonald responded as the natural executive. The following letter which I received from Mr. Walter in reply to mine of grief at the death of MacDonald, tells the story of their relation better than I can.
Bearwood, December 19, 1889.
Dear Mr. Stillman,—One appreciates true sympathy at such a time as this, and none that I have received has touched me more than yours. It is sad indeed to go down to the office and be no more greeted with MacDonald's cheery voice and kindly look. His illness was unexpected and its progress rapid. Within a few days after his return from his holiday in Mull, he was attacked by the complaint which proved fatal—"an enlargement of the prostate gland"—brought on, I have no doubt, by exposure day after day to continual rain, and accompanied by recurrent attacks of fever. To myself personally his loss is irreparable, for I had been intimately associated with him for thirty years, while his connection with the paper, formed in my father's time, was very much longer. He was confident, to the last, of the successful issue of the great cause to which he had devoted so much time during the last three years, and I would that he had been spared to witness it.
Yours very truly,
Of the fourteen years of increasing and finally cordial intimacy that followed Mr. MacDonald's acceptance of my services as casual correspondent of the "Times," I have the unbroken record in the file of letters received from him at every post where my duty carried me. These contain the evidence of a noble, honest, and sympathetic nature, whose loss to me was, as Mr. Walter found it, "irreparable," for such friendships sever themselves from all relation of interest and business.
During the tenure of the joint jurisdiction over Greece and Italy, I had an amusing experience through a report of my assassination by the Albanians. I profited by one of the visits to Athens and Crete to pass through Trieste and take Montenegro and northern Albania in the itinerary. Disembarking at Cattaro I drove by the new road to Cettinje, a magnificent drive with unsurpassed views seaward and inland, but the abolition of the natural defense of Montenegro against the Austrian artillery. No doubt the astute Prince understood that after the recognition of Montenegrin nationality by all Europe and the emphasis put on its importance by the Dulcigno demonstration and its results, he could afford to ignore the hostility of Austria and take his chances as the head of a civilized nation which had rights Austria must respect. But even in this breaking down of a barrier provided by nature he showed his shrewdness and tenacity, for the Austrians, in passing the frontier, had made the trace of the road pass over an elevation from which their artillery would command the difficult gorge that was the gate to the principality, and the Prince refused to bring his portion of the road to meet it but brought it up to the frontier by a safe route, and left the terminus there until the Austrians brought their road to meet it where the junction was in favor of the Montenegrin defense.
My reception in Cettinje was one of the pleasant incidents of my career as correspondent, for it was marked by a grateful cordiality unique in my experience, and I saw that a people and a Prince could retain gratitude for past services where nothing was needed or to be expected in the future. The Prince received me as a brother. There was no time to revisit under happier circumstances the familiar places as I should have been glad to do, but I determined at least to see the new possessions on the coast, and passing from Cattaro I followed the coast road by Spizza, the impregnable (if defended) fortress which had surrendered to Montenegro towards the close of the war, and was, without the shadow of a right, taken possession of by Austria in the settlement, and made a halt at Antivari. Here all was decay and ruin; the damages by the bombardment years before had not been repaired, the former Albanian inhabitants, mainly Mussulmans, had not returned, and the Montenegrins had not come. I could not even pass the night there, but took a boat from the port (there is no harbor) to Dulcigno. The owner of the boat put a mattress in it where I could lie at length, and so, sleeping, or listening to the songs of the rowers, or watching the stars overhead, I found myself in the course of the night at Dulcigno, where I was warmly received and hospitably entertained by the governor, a comrade of the war-days. With a little expenditure and energy Dulcigno might be made a delightful winter resort, the climate being that of Naples and the surroundings picturesque, but Montenegro has neither the capital nor the appliances to profit by its position. A company had proposed to the Prince to build a port and construct a hotel and all necessary appurtenances if he would give, in compensation, the right of establishing gaming-tables, after the fashion of Monte Carlo, but the Prince, awake to the importance of maintaining the respect of Europe so fairly won, refused the offer.
From Dulcigno the road I had to take to Scutari was a plunge into the unknown. I hired two horses, one a pack-horse for the baggage and the other a poor hack for riding. The roads were fetlock deep in mud, and the whole region so inundated that we often had to take across country, profiting by the ridges to avoid fording the unconjecturable depths of water in the ancient roads. At one point we had to pass a deep ditch, over which I forced my horse to jump, but the baggage horse refused it until pushed to it by main force, when he plumped in over head, ears, and baggage, and we had very great difficulty to extricate him, as the water was at least four feet below the bank. But I reached Scutari fortunately before night, wet, bedraggled, and muddied from head to foot, my clothes in tatters from the tenacious wait-a-bit thorn hedges we had had to force our way through, and all my baggage soaked, more or less as the water had had time to penetrate to it. Not an inhabited house did we pass on the way, such had been the terror of the border warfare still not dissipated. But from Scutari south there were other dangers. The Albanians were in a state of incipient revolt, and the country was unsafe for a Turkish escort, if even such protection were not to me a greater danger, and I found, not I confess without a little trepidation, that the only protection I could count on was the consular postman who rode with the mail-bag to San Giovanni di Budua, the first point at which the Austrian Lloyd steamers called. We met with no annoyance, however, and though we had at some points curious looks we encountered nothing more offensive, but I decided to give up the remainder of the land journey till more propitious times. San Giovanni seems to have been an important Roman port and there are interesting remains of the Imperial epoch.
On my arrival at Athens I received a telegram from my brother-in-law in London mysteriously praying me, "If you are alive, wire us." On the heels of that came another from my father-in-law, "If you are safe, telegraph to Marie," one to Tricoupi, then prime minister, to ask news of me, one to the English legation from the Foreign Office demanding information of my whereabouts, and another to the same from the "Times"—to all which I could get no explanation nor could anybody in Athens conjecture the why of the querying. We soon learned that a telegram from Cettinje, based on a report from Albania, had reported my being beheaded in the interior of Albania. I was honored by a question in the House of Commons, and obituary notices were general in the American papers. The official Montenegrin journal went into mourning. Several kind-hearted ladies waited on my wife in Florence to condole with her, but as I had telegraphed her on receipt of the telegram from her father that I was well, and the Italian papers with the news of my death had not frightened her, for she never read them, the condolence was discounted and the condoling friends went away, their object unexplained and their equanimity upset by the information that she had received a telegram from me that morning. There was a small compensation in the reading of my obituary notices, a satisfaction that can rarely be given a man.
In the reorganization of the office consequent on the entry of a new manager, I was offered the choice between the posts of Athens and Rome. Personally I should have preferred Athens, but I had recently established my family at Rome, and the serious objection to a family residence at Athens in the want of any refuge from the heats of the intense summer of that city at a practicable distance from it, was an insuperable obstacle to my accepting it. The succession of Lord Dufferin to the Embassy at Rome, and the friendly personal relations which his large-hearted nature established between the Embassy and the correspondentship, made the position highly agreeable. He was of all the diplomats I have ever known the one who best understood how to treat a correspondent. He took my measure as correspondent and accepted me pro tanto into his confidence. He used to say, "I tell you whatever information there is, because I know that then you will not telegraph what ought not to be telegraphed, while if you find it out for yourself I have no right to restrain you."
In 1890 the negotiations between England and Italy in reference to the occupation of Kassala by the latter, culminated in the congress of Naples, where Crispi met Sir Evelyn Baring (now Lord Cromer), for the discussion of the conditions. Until that time my relations with Crispi had been such as he generally maintained with journalists, viz., a distant civility, but in my case attended by confidential relations with his two secretaries. I attended the congress, and was admitted by both Dufferin and Baring to such confidential knowledge of the negotiations as was possible. From Crispi's private secretary I learned his views, and, knowing the opinions on both sides, I was able to remove certain prejudices on the part of Crispi and so smooth the difficulties which his suspicious nature raised. Unfortunately there was one misapprehension on his part of which I became aware too late, namely, that Sir Evelyn Baring was hostile to Italians in Egypt and predisposed to combat Crispi's conditions. This was due to sheer misrepresentation on the part of the Italian delegates, who were both Anglophobes; and the conviction on the part of Crispi that he must fight Baring as an enemy led to protracted and obstinate contest of each point in the conditions, till finally, just as agreement had been arrived at, a dispatch from Lord Salisbury ordered the withdrawal from the negotiations, and the convention fell through, to Crispi's great annoyance. His total miscomprehension of the large-hearted and generous ruler of Egypt was a misfortune to Italy and to Crispi, but the defect was in his temperament—a morbid tendency to suspicion of strangers characteristic of the man and in the roots of his Albanian nature. Crispi was not a judge of men—had he been he would have avoided the friends who ruined his political career, and made friends who would have strengthened his position. The efforts I had made to remove misunderstandings satisfied Crispi that I was really friendly to Italy and established more cordial relations between us thenceforward. In acknowledgment of his mistaken treatment of me he conferred on me the cross of commander of the Crown of Italy.
A little later the combination was formed in the Chamber to overthrow the ministry. I had some time before befriended Monsignor X., the victim of an outrageous act of injustice on the part of the French government, and of accessory indifference on the part of the Vatican, and he had repaid me by valuable information from the Vatican from time to time. When this ministerial crisis was in progress, Monsignor X. came to me one evening to tell me that the chiefs of the factions in opposition were in conference with agents of the Vatican to support them in the overthrow of Crispi. The Vatican promised to release Catholics from the non expedit in case of the fall of the ministry and the necessity of going to the country in a general election. The ministerial combination which accepted this pact with the immitigable enemy of the unity of Italy, whose sole motive for hostility to Crispi was the latter's invincible antagonism to the temporal power and the immixtion of the Church in civil affairs, comprised a leading Republican and Radical, Nicotera, and Rudiní, the chief of the ultra-Conservative group, beside members of various groups of intervening shades of politics. Knowing little of the rottenness of the politics of Italy at that time I was amazed by the information of Monsignor X., and went at once to the Palazzo Braschi to inform Crispi and ascertain if there was positive confirmation of the information. I asked him to use his means of intelligence at the Vatican, which was always sure, and so well informed that Cardinal Hohenlohe told me one day that Crispi knew better what was passing at the Vatican than the cardinals did. On inquiry he discovered that my news was true, and for the first time he understood the full meaning of the combination against him.
That the King should have accepted Crispi's resignation under the circumstances (the adverse vote in the Chamber, being a surprise vote involving no question of policy, and, as all knew, the result of a secret combination—a conspiracy, in fact) was a grave mistake on the part of His Majesty, and opened the way to all the confusion and parliamentary anarchy which has followed, and which to-day is increasing and menaces the stability of the throne and the unity of Italy. The government of Crispi had been most successful, his attitude in the Bulgarian affair had rendered an important service to the cause of European peace, as was acknowledged by Lord Salisbury in a published dispatch, and he had strengthened the ties between England and Italy; he had maintained perfect order, and had effected economies in the national expenditure to the amount of 140,500,000 lire a year, besides suppressing some annoying taxes and without imposing any new one, and when he fell gold was practically at par and the financial position solid as it had not been since 1860. He had decided on the reform of the banking system, which would have prevented the catastrophe that fell on the succeeding ministry, and the rotten banks and the corrupt element in the Chamber which was in their pay were the leading element in the combination against him. Under these circumstances the King's duty was to support a minister who had at the grave crisis of the death of Victor Emmanuel saved the dynasty from a serious danger, who was universally known to be the only Italian statesman whose nerve was equal to any sudden emergency, and of whose devotion, as the King personally assured me later, he was absolutely certain. That no reason for the crisis existed was shown by the fact that the succeeding ministry adopted the identical measure on which Crispi was defeated. But the King (whose death has occurred while I am revising these chapters) showed on many occasions that, though loyal to his constitutional obligation so far as deference to parliamentary forms is concerned, he never had the nerve to assume a responsible attitude or maintain the authority of the throne; and, while he was ready to abdicate if popular opinion demanded it, he was unable to withstand a factious and revolutionary movement as his father had done, by calling to his support the statesmen who could maintain order when menaced. His form of constitutionality was perfectly adapted to a country where the Conservative forces were supreme and the institutions solid; but in a half-consolidated monarchy, attacked from within and without by dissolvent influences as is Italy at present, he was a cause of weakness to good government. And Rudiní assured me when I went to pay the formal visit of congratulation on his accession to power, that the King had said that he was in the position of the young Emperor of Germany when he threw off the yoke of Bismarck—he was tired of Crispi's strong hand. The King later denied the statement in an audience he gave me, but I am afraid that Rudiní was, for a novelty, nearer the truth.
Rudiní as minister of foreign affairs began with a blunder which might well have been fatal. When the murder of the Italian prisoners at New Orleans took place, he determined to show his energy and patriotic spirit, and he telegraphed to the Italian minister at Washington to demand of the federal government the immediate bringing to justice of the murderers under the alternative of sending the Italian fleet to New Orleans. This amazing display of ignorance of the situation and of geography appeared in the Roman journals of the next morning. As I knew enough of the temper of my countrymen to foresee that this demand was certain to end in war or a humiliating result to Italy, I jumped into a cab and drove over to the ministry of public instruction, the titular of which, Professor Villari, was an old friend of our life in Florence, and begged him to go at once to Rudiní and urge the countermanding of the telegram of the previous night, for, as the federal government had no jurisdiction in the case, it could not comply, and the imperious demand of the Italian government, intended for home consumption and as demonstration of the high spirit of the ministry, was certain to be peremptorily responded to, while the menace of sending the ironclad fleet to New Orleans was absurd and impossible of execution as the Mississippi did not admit ships of their draft, to say nothing of the defenses of the river and the certainty of war if the ultimatum were pushed. Vlllari at once took a cab and drove to the house of the minister, and we never heard anything more of the matter.
The presence (which nothing but the amorphous state of Italian politics could explain), in that scratch ministry, of Villari, one of the most devoted, honest and patriotic of living Italians and for years one of my best friends in Italy, secured my support of the ministry until their financial measures came on, and I was obliged to expose their specious character in the "Times," when our friendly relations ceased temporarily. Political opponents in Italy are more likely to meet with seconds than at a friendly dinner party, as used to be the case in the days of Minghetti and Sella, and this passionate personal antagonism for purely political motives which influences all political and social intercourse in Italy is one of the gravest causes of political decline.
Amongst the notable men whose friendship I gained at this period of my service was Von Keudall, the German ambassador, one of the most human diplomatists whose acquaintance I have ever made. Like Dufferin, he measured exactly the distance to which a correspondent could be treated confidentially, without encouraging him to presume on cordiality. Introduced to him by Sir John Saville Lumley, I was treated as one of the diplomatic body, with the confidence which is so important to a journalist, and as long as he remained in Rome our relations were of the most cordial and unceremonious. Wishing to make me a confidential communication one day and the coast not being clear, he asked me, in the presence of others, if I had ever seen the view from the tower of the embassy, and, as of course I had not, he invited me to come and see it, and we had our conversation on the platform of the lookout with all Rome and the Campagna spread out before us, beyond the reach of others' hearing. Von Keudall was a power in Rome, and no ambassador of any government in my time had the influence at court that he had.
During the period of Von Keudall's residence Lord Rosebery came to Rome, in an interval of being in opposition, and, as the late Secretary for Foreign Affairs, and probably a future occupant of the same post, it was important that in a brief stay he should see all the important people in the capital. Lady Rosebery, who was the most assiduous and intelligent manager possible of her husband's interests, had sent for me to ascertain who were the people whom he should know in order to learn the true condition of affairs in Italy. Chief amongst them I put Von Keudall, but, as Lord Rosebery did not know him, and the custom of Rome is that the newcomer makes the first call, Lady Rosebery was in a quandary, her ideas of the position of her husband not consenting that he should make the first call on an ambassador. At the last moment, for he was to leave Rome the midnight following, she begged me to tell her how the acquaintance could be made, without derogation of Lord Rosebery's position between two portfolios. "Give me his card," I replied, "and I will manage it." I had intended to ask Von Keudall for some information, and I made my visit, finding him engaged with a dispatch, and as I wrote a message on the business on which I had come, I added that Lord Rosebery was at the Hôtel de Rome and was leaving that night, and left his lordship's card with mine. When I got back to the hotel I found Von Keudall's carriage at the door and him closeted with Lord Rosebery. And certainly no man could then have told the English statesman the state of things in Italy so well as the large-hearted German ambassador, who enjoyed the confidence of every element in Italian politics as a sincere friend of the country. He was recalled later on account of a pique of Herbert Bismarck, whose untimely meddling with public affairs had, I believe, more to do with his father's fall than any act of the Prince. As an eminent German statesman put it, in a conversation not long after the recall of Von Keudall, "a Bismarck dynasty could not be tolerated." Von Keudall was succeeded by his antithesis, a nullity in court and country of whom even his fellow diplomats could say nothing in praise.
The Rudiní ministry had no long life and merited no more, while that of Giolitti, which followed, ended in scandal and disaster. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Brin, with whom alone I had had to do, was an honest, able, and patriotic man, and my relations with him were always excellent. The fall of that ministry coincided with the culmination of the financial and political disorders which were the direct consequence of the overthrow of Crispi and the demoralization which ensued. From the beginning of the financial embarrassment which came to its crisis during the term of Rudiní's government, I had devoted much attention to the financial situation and had predicted the crash when no one else foresaw it. But for Villari I should have been expelled from Italy on account of my letters exposing the situation, which created such a sensation that Rothschild wrote to a financial authority in Rome to inquire what truth there was in them, receiving naturally such assurances as only hid the trouble. But when the crash came people said, "How did you know? What a prophet you were!" etc., etc. Tanlongo, the director of the Banca Romana, which led off in the crash, threatened the "Times" with a libel suit, and accompanied the threat by offers to me of personal "commercial facilitations" to drop the subject. The argumentum ad hominem did not weigh, but it was desired in the office to avoid legal troubles and I was advised to keep a more moderate tone. The disaster came so soon after, however, that I got all the credit, and maintained abroad the prestige of a greater authority in Italian finance than I perhaps deserved.
It is true that honesty and courage are two things that a correspondent has no right to boast of, for honest editing and management presupposes them in him, and a conspicuous want of either cuts his career very short unless he is uncommonly clever; but as the result of my personal experience I may say that, having campaigned with many English colleagues, I have found them to be almost universally men of thorough honesty and unflinching courage. Personality aside, I think I may be permitted to say so much of a profession of whose real character and besetting temptations no one can know so much as one of themselves, and of whom the general public knows very little.
The financial authority which thus accrued to me became of not unimportant influence a little later when the second scratch ministry broke up under the financial depression, with gold at 16 premium, the scandals of the bank affair oozing into publicity, and insurrection breaking out in Sicily and Tuscany, with movements pending in the Romagna, where the spring had come late and so saved the country from a great disaster. It became so clear to even the most benighted partisan that a strong hand at the Palazzo Braschi was imperiously necessary, that even the strongest Conservatives submitted in silence to the call for Crispi which came from all parts of Italy, and no section of the Chamber except the extreme Left, who were the prime movers in the insurrectionary movement, raised the least objection to the old Sicilian's return to the position from which the most corrupt and ignoble intrigues had driven him hardly three years before, years of discredit and steady demoralization.
The disgraceful struggle for office then grown characteristic of Italian parliamentary politics now assumed the most shameful form that I have ever known. The general sentiment of the country was that Crispi should be given dictatorial powers, and one of the Venetian deputies, an ultra-Conservative, coming fresh from an audience with the King, said to me that Crispi ought to be made dictator and that the King had professed his readiness to confer that power on him; and the chiefs of all the factions that had been engaged in the conspiracy for his downfall in 1891 were among the most eager to enter his ministry, when the King finally gave him the call to form one, after having combined in the most desperate intrigues to effect some other combination. In the anteroom of the minister designate all the political world, personally or by deputy, was represented except the friends of the insurrection, who fought him by every device. I met there a Roman deputy who was one of the amphibious politicians that breed freely in Italian politics, who gave his right hand to Crispi and his left to Rudiní, and who, under the impression that I had great personal influence with the old man, begged me to urge him to offer the portfolio of Foreign Affairs to Rudiní. In fact, my defense of Crispi in the "Times" in 1891 and the fulfillment of my predictions of his inevitable and necessary return to office, at a moment when there was no one in Italy who did not consider his career at an end, gave me a purely fanciful importance as a counselor in the crisis and as having great weight with the minister.
The obsequiousness of the leading politicians at that juncture must have given Crispi a savage satisfaction for the contumely he had had to suffer in 1891, and there is no kind of question in my mind that, if he had then insisted as a sine qua non on a dictatorship, he would have had it with the almost universal approbation of Italians out of office and the acquiesence of those who hoped to be in it. Cavalotti, his most implacable opponent and personal enemy in disguise, in a session of the Chamber made a passionate appeal to him to avoid Sonnino and take a ministry of one color, i.e. the Left, promising his entire devotion on such a concession. The hostility was sullen and masked, but purely parliamentary; the country at large would have been delighted to see the old man sweep the parliament out of existence, and I am convinced that he might then have played the rôle of Cromwell and received the support of nine tenths of all Italians. The Chamber had become nauseous to the nation.
I was cool enough to see that the key of the position was finance, for I knew that Crispi would make short work with the insurrection, and I knew also the full value of all the possible ministers of finance in the country, and their influence abroad. When I saw that the constitution of the cabinet really hung on the disposition of that portfolio, I did not hesitate to say to Crispi that, while I could not pretend to any judgment as to the formation of the ministry at large, I could assure him that if there was to be a rehabilitation of the financial position of Italy abroad by his ministry, it could only be by the appointment of Sonnino to the Treasury. I said to him in so many words that Sonnino was as necessary to the restoration of the credit of the financial situation as he himself was to that of order. The pressure in the Chamber was very great to induce him to take the finance minister from the Left and so move toward the constitution of the government in accordance with the color of the majority, and Crispi was urged that way by most of his oldest and most faithful adherents, either unconscious of or indifferent to the influence of financial opinion through Europe on the stability or success of the ministry. I could see that he was hesitating and that the idea of reconstituting parties, which had always been one of his most cherished and important schemes, was very present with him, but I think that the conviction of the necessity of the restoration of the confidence of the financial publics of Europe finally prevailed with him, for he decided to offer the Treasury to Sonnino, to whose measures he subsequently gave the most thorough and loyal support, though some of them were the reverse of popular and not of possible effectuation without his earnest support. It is possible that my advice turned the balance in his mind, but it is, with one later exception, the only instance in which I ever ventured to advise him as to a political line of conduct, though I was generally credited with a good deal of meddling.
The conduct of the Italian factions and politicians during the two years of the second ministry of Crispi, the internecine war of intrigues to which the King lent a negative but effectual assent, and which ended in the disaster of Adowah, showed me that the Italian commonwealth is incurably infected with political caries, and that, though the state may endure, even as a constitutional monarchy, for years, the restoration of civic vitality to it is only to be hoped for under the condition of a moral renovation, to which the Roman Catholic Church is an unsurmountable obstacle, because the Church itself has become infected with the disease of the state,—the passion of personal power, carried to the fever point of utter disregard of the general good. The liberty which the extreme party in Italian politics agitates for is only license, and, with the exception of a few amiable and impracticable enthusiasts in the extreme Left and a few honest and patriotic conservators of the larger liberties towards the Right, there are nothing but self-seekers and corrupt politicians in the state. During the years of my residence in Italy, the strengthening conviction of these facts has dampened my early enthusiasms for its political progress and my faith in its future, and, retiring at the limits of effective service from a position into which I had entered with sympathy, I buried all my illusions of a great Italian future as I had those of a healthy Greek future. My profound conviction is that until a great moral reform shall break out and awaken the ruling classes, and especially the Church, to the recognition of the necessity of a vital, growing morality to the health of a state, there will be no new Italy. The idle dreamers who hope to cure the commonweal by revolution and the establishment of a republic will find, if their dream come true, that to a state demoralized in its great masses, more liberty can only mean quicker ruin. The court itself is so corrupted by the vices and immoralities which always beset courts, that it does not rally to itself the small class of devoted patriots who cannot yet resign themselves to despair, and who find in a change of persons the possibility of a revival which they hope for rather than anticipate, while it offends every day more and more deeply the equally small class of honest and patriotic reformers of the Radical side in politics. The mortally morbid condition of public feeling is shown, not in the fact that the Hon. X. or Y. is an immoral man, but in that he is not in the least discredited by well-known immoralities which would banish a man from public life in England or America, and compared with which those with which Crispi was charged were trivial.
One cannot pronounce the same judgment on Greece and Italy. The decay in Greece is economic and civic, poverty of resource and resources on one side, and on the other invincible insubordination, refusal in the individual to submit to discipline or sacrifice, the conceit of a dead and forgotten superiority which makes progress or docility impossible. The measure of apparent renovation in Athens and some other points is owing to the influence and benefactions of the Greeks who have lived and prospered in other lands, where their natural mental activity has borne fruit, but the normal progress of the nation is so slight that it has no chance in the race of races now being run in the Balkans. But the Greeks are preserved from a moral decay like that which threatens Italy by the domestic morality, due in part to temperament, but in part also to the influence of the clergy, who, if not scholars and wise theologians, are generally men of pure domestic morality and leaders of the common people. The Orthodox Church is national, lives with and for the people, has no political ambitions, and cannot endanger the state.
In Italy the danger is other. The Roman Church has long ceased to be a distinctly religious institution; it has become a great human machine organized, disciplined like an army, for a war of shadows and formalities, but now employed in the conquest of political influence, a kingdom absolutely of this world. It is as much a foreign body in Italy (or France) as if it were the Russian Church; it has no part or lot in the well-being of the Italian people, and, so far as the central power of it is concerned, the Vatican and its councils, its only purpose is to acquire political influence for its own political aggrandizement, to the exclusion from its field of operations of all other creeds. For the attainment of this end it works with the single-eyedness which Christ recommended for other ends, to the neglect of all pressure on the people in the direction of common morality. The Pope, in the present case an amiable, excellent ecclesiastic, is only one part of this machine, and through him it speaks, saying, practically, to the Italian people, "Be what you please, do what you please; only in all things which we command obey us,"—obedience to the prescriptions of rites and ceremonies being, so far as my observation during my years of residence in Italy goes, considered as of far greater importance than the observance of the laws of sexual morality, veracity, or common honesty. The rule of conduct of the parochial clergy has appeared to me to be to keep their influence over their flocks in purely ecclesiastical matters, and run no risk of straining that influence by interfering with their personal morality, or by making Christianity the difficult rule of life which it is in Puritan countries.
I have no hostility to Roman doctrine or dogma, for the distinction I make between the different forms of anthropomorphic religion is only one of degree, and I have so many personal friends amongst Roman Catholics in whom I see the fire of pure and living spirituality glowing through the forms and superstitions of their creed that I cannot join in that indiscriminate denunciation which is common amongst Protestants. My experience in these matters has taught me that to certain natures the anthropomorphic forms of religion are a Jacob's ladder to that spiritual life which is the end of religion. Nor can I see that a little more or a little less of the credulity which is, in all human minds, mingled with pure faith in the Divine, can make a vital difference in the character of the religion, whatever it may make in the creed. The most earnest man is hampered by an heredity of credence that makes the conception of the Supreme Being a matter of an intellectual struggle which is to some minds insuperable, and to deprive such of the symbols which lead to a final comprehension of the truth is no service to humanity or truth. The suppression of the Roman Catholic religion in Italy, if possible, would be only to leave its place vacant for unreason and anarchy, for the intellectual status of the common people does not admit of a more abstract belief. For that evil influence, however, which a recent writer has designated as Curialism, which to-day has its seat at the Vatican, and whose aim and end are the absolute antagonism of all pure religion, I have no respect, and only the feeling due to unmitigated evil. It is a deadly political malady, malefic in proportion to its influence on the people; and, I fear, until Italy is freed from it, no progress or healthy political life or morality is possible.
For myself, the study of the system and a comparison of its relations with other religions completed that evolution of my religious ideal which I regard as the principal outcome of my life. The Roman Catholic religion is to me the reductio ad absurdum of all anthropomorphic religions, and such a study of it as was there possible drove me to a logical conclusion on the whole matter, not by a sudden revulsion, but as the gradual and normal growth of a rational evolution of my conceptions of the spiritual life, starting from that stage of emancipation which my residence at Cambridge and the intercourse with the liberal thinkers there had brought me to; the influence of Norton, Lowell, Agassiz, and Emerson especially. In this liberation I am aware of no sudden break in my belief from its crude acceptance of miraculous conversion and eternal damnation for the unconverted, but a slow opening of my eyes to larger truths. If any individual influence other than those I have named came in, it would have been the reading of Swedenborg, which gave me a comprehension of what spiritual life was and must be; but Swedenborg himself had never been emancipated from the anthropomorphic conception of Deity. He was a seer, not a philosopher. Emancipation from ignorance will never be complete, and ignorance and even superstition have their divine uses as infancy has. Once the idea of evolution as the law of life is accepted, the logical conclusion is the reign of law and the rejection of all miraculous interposition, and the perception of this fact by the clever schemers at the Vatican underlies the implacable hostility they show to science and evolution. If they could, they would have burned Darwin as they burned Giordano Bruno. They are, and they must ever be, as the condition of keeping up the existence and power of the Vatican and its peculiar institutions, the enemies of mental emancipation. It is not ignorance which is the enemy of wisdom, but the passion of domination.
The Roman Catholic Church with its hypothetical succession of Peter will exist forever, because the necessity of seeing through forms and of obedience to authority will endure as long as humanity endures, for certain orders of mind and certain temperaments; but the political problem of the existence of the Vatican in a free and united Italy, progressive and maintaining her place amongst the European powers, is one the solution of which I shall await with great interest, not regarding the triumph of the Vatican as possible according to its hopes, but not sure that the internecine struggle may not end in the ruin of both contestants, since the Italians have not the courage or the patriotism to accept the only safe measure, formal and complete suppression of all civic privileges for the Pope and his bishops—the relegation of religion to a place outside the organization of government.
The dolorous history of the defeat at Adowah, the decisive event in the decline of Italy, is an epitome of all the tendencies and weaknesses of the Italian nation; and, as I was more or less intimately informed of all the causes of it, the intrigues and treachery which made it possible, and as no Italian who knows the story will, for very shame, tell it, I will leave the record of what I learned and what I believe to be the indisputable facts.
When Lord Salisbury came to power in 1895, he renewed a compact with Italy and Austria which had been made when Crispi was in office in his first premiership, about 1888, for a common action in all questions concerning the Turkish Empire; and on the occasion of the Armenian massacres he called for the execution of its provisions, sending the English fleet to Turkish waters and making a requisition on Austria and Italy for the support of their fleets. Crispi, who saw in the measure the longed-for opportunity of action in league with England, ordered the fleet to follow that of England, and prepared the mobilization of an army corps to coöperate by land. He had already revived the ancient hostility of France by the rejection of an offer of the French government, made at his accession to office, of all desirable friendly offices, a treaty of commerce, financial facilities, etc., if he would withdraw from the understanding with England as to Mediterranean questions. The entry into the plans of England for the Armenian question, which were diametrically opposed to those of Russia, provoked the active enmity of that power, with which Italy had until then been on friendly terms. Thenceforward Russia united her influence with that of France in creating difficulties for Italy in Abyssinia as the punishment of Crispi, and at the same time the means of paralyzing one of the members of the Triple Alliance. Lord Salisbury, vacillating, as is his way, and under persuasion of the powers opposed to his action, consented to delay and negotiate, thus giving the Sultan time to prepare the defenses of the Dardanelles, making the coup de main, possible at first, then impossible, and necessitating serious naval operations, which were likely to involve considerable losses if the pressure at Constantinople were to be successful.
The abandonment of the inconsiderate scheme, initiated in obedience to a religious agitation and far too daring for a statesman of Lord Salisbury's nervelessness, having drawn Italy into such difficulties as the result of her obedience to his call, the least that Crispi could expect was that he would be supported by all the moral if not by the military power of England, whose influence in Abyssinia was very great. During the government of Lord Rosebery that influence had been distinctly exercised in favor of Italy, in opposition to that of France, and, when Crispi asked for the privilege of landing troops at Zeila, the English port for Abyssinia, in case of war, it had been accorded, giving Italy the advantage of a menace on the rear of all the positions of Menelek, which had in the early stages of the trouble been efficient. The Italian government had no intention of sending an expedition through Zeila to attack Harrar in any contingency foreseen, but the possibility of such a movement compelled Menelek to keep a strong force in Harrar and prevented the concentration which ultimately proved so disastrous at Adowah. The French government protested against the concession, but the English ministry refused to recognize the right of France to protest. Lord Salisbury withdrew the privilege, enabling the French agents to convince Menelek that England was hostile to Italy, and thus decided the question of peace or war between Abyssinia and Italy.
That the occupation of Abyssinia had been a folly had always been the opinion of Crispi, who, in the outset, opposed it in a speech which proved a prophecy of all the disasters which followed; and on his return to power I very strongly, in one of the two cases in which I attempted to exercise any influence on him, urged him to withdraw from Africa, but the old man's patriotic pride was too intense for him to consent to an abandonment of an undertaking in which Italian blood had been shed. "The flag cannot retreat," he said, and in fact public opinion was at that moment so strongly in favor of the maintenance of the colony that no ministry could have carried a proposal to abandon it. It has been the habit of the Italians since the disaster to throw the blame for it on Crispi, but I, who was always opposed to the undertaking, can testify that at the outbreak of war, and especially after the brilliant if slight victories won by the Italian troops in Africa, Crispi would have been defeated in the Chamber if he had proposed withdrawing. In the Chamber there was only the extreme Left which opposed the war policy, and the order of the day which was accepted by the government as the war programme was presented by the Marquis di Rudiní, then head of the opposition, and carried by an enormous majority. As I was present at the sitting of the Chamber at which the vote was taken I do not speak uncertainly.
Baratieri had been recalled to Rome on the suspicion that he was intending to extend the conquest unduly, and I met him at a breakfast arranged by the Minister of Foreign Affairs to enable me to discuss the subject with the general. He then made the most unqualified declarations that he was opposed to all extension of operations, and that he did not ask for a man or a lira more than had been accorded to him by Crispi. Baratieri was a Garibaldian general, a daring and brilliant commander of a brigade at most, without a proper military education, but with some experience. He was a political general, however, a partisan of Zanardelli, who had been the most insistent rival of Crispi at the formation of a ministry in 1893, and he had been Zanardelli's candidate for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, his nomination having been protested against by Austria on the well understood ground that he was an Irredentist, that is, in favor of taking the Tyrol from Austria. In the battle of Coatit, which inaugurated the hostilities, he had shown brilliant qualities as a partisan commander and had become very popular, so that to remove him, as Crispi had intended when he was recalled to Rome, was very difficult, the more as he protested his strict adherence to the defensive policy imposed on him by the ministry; but on his return it soon became evident that he cherished more ambitious plans than he had owned up to when in Rome, and Crispi soon saw that his recall was necessary. But Baratieri had now the support, not only of the common public favor, but of the entire court circle, which saw in him a convenient weapon against Crispi, and of the military party, and, through these, of the King, who refused to assent to the recall of the general when Crispi finally demanded it.
The premier was not supported in his insistence and pressure on the King by the whole of the cabinet, and the only practical method of getting rid of Baratieri was by increasing the forces in Africa to the number at which, by the regulations, a superior officer was necessary to command. The general chosen, Baldissera, a safe and competent commander, was already in Africa, at Massowah, when Baratieri, warned of his supersession in spite of all the precautions to keep secrecy, precipitated hostilities against the distinct orders of Crispi never to attack a force superior to his own, so as to force the issue before he should be deprived of the command. A court-martial sat to try Baratieri, nominally, but its sentence simply concealed all the facts and covered the responsibility, which there was good evidence to show was morally if not technically divided between Baratieri and certain parties in the court and army cliques more desirous of overthrowing Crispi than of securing a victory. The mystery that hid all the details of the investigation that could fix the disgrace where it belonged, and allowed only unimportant transactions to appear, will never be dispelled.
Crispi was disposed to renew the struggle, for there was within a march of a day or two a larger Italian force than that which had been defeated, under a competent commander, and the losses of the Abyssinians had been so heavy that they were unable to advance, while the season of rain was so close on them that they must have retreated in a few days, even if not attacked, and if attacked in their retreat they must have abandoned all the fruits of their previous victory. But to do this it was necessary to prorogue the Chamber until the operations were concluded, and this course was opposed in the cabinet; Saracco, the Minister of Public Works, threatening to resign if a further prorogation was decreed. The public panic was such that a partial crisis would have been the signal for an outbreak of disorders on the part of the parties opposed to the African policy, headed by the extreme Left in the Chamber,—a risk which several of the ministers were indisposed to face,—and the ministry resigned without waiting to meet the Parliament.
Civic courage in Italy is so low that any grave military or civil disaster, no matter on whom should fall the responsibility, entails a change of ministry, and in this case even the King abandoned Crispi, though the chief responsibility for the disastrous result of the campaign rested on himself. Humbert always retreated before any popular commotion. He never understood that the duty of the sovereign was to lend his moral support to his ministers so long as no constitutional question was involved, or until there had been the expression of the will of the nation, deliberately formulated, and not by the accidental votes which in the Italian Chamber are oftener the result of conspiracies or panics than of any question involving a political measure. Parliamentary government in Italy is a caricature of the form, demanding for its safe working the most conservative influence of the Crown to control its action. But Humbert, by yielding to every gust of excitement in the Chamber which, even by a surprise, menaced the ministry, encouraged and developed the disorderly tendency and the strength of the subversive party which always profited by the disorders. Victor Emmanuel in a similar case quelled the anarchy by dissolving the Chamber; Humbert had never that degree of courage even when he knew that the disorder was directed against the monarchy, not merely against a ministry; and he is, more than any other person, the cause of the decline and anarchy in parliamentary government in Italy.
In the succeeding ministry the King had the unprecedented courage to refuse to accept Rudiní and his programme, but admitted his inclusion in the ministry of General Ricotti, an old and admirable soldier and military organizer, who was resolved to begin his administration by a long desired and needed reorganization of the army, reducing its numbers and increasing its efficiency. On this point the King was inflexible, for he always refused to allow the army to be reduced organically, though he never refused to accept such a diminution of the rank and file as made it utterly inefficient for an emergency, so long as the cadres and the number of officers were not diminished. He sent a message to some senators who were in his confidence to the effect that the measure of Ricotti must be defeated there, as he could not count on its being rejected by the popular assembly. The senate rejected it, and Ricotti, unsupported by his colleagues, resigned. The régime of half measures and little men returned. The accession of Victor Emmanuel III. may bring about a change, if the new King has statesmen to fall back on, but I do not see them amongst the old men. The only man competent to assume an effective reconstitution of the state is Sidney Sonnino, the Secretary of the Treasury with Crispi, but he is not a popular man, and, if he attempts to govern by the strong measures necessary, he will meet the same hostility which always assailed Crispi. Nothing less than the courage and abilities of a Cromwell could reform government in Italy, and, in the opinion of some of the wisest and most patriotic Italians I know, the task is hopeless and the decay inevitable.
Fully convinced of this myself, I could but lose that interest in the future of Italy which had always made residence there so attractive to me. Moreover, I had arrived at an age which rendered the proper performance of the duties of my position on the "Times" impossible. Accordingly, I sent in my resignation and returned to England, where in such condition of social and intellectual activity as my years and circumstances permit, I hope to end my days, no longer a participant in political affairs and content simply to live.
A., Miss, spiritualistic medium
Abyssinia, Italians in
Adams, Charles Francis, minister to England during the Civil War
Adirondacks, life in the
Adirondacs, The, poem by Emerson
Adowah, defeat at, the decisive event in the decline of Italy
circumstances which led to it
After the Burial
is pleased with one of Stillman's pictures
first meets Stillman
makes excursion with the Adirondack Club
his scientific work
brief mentions of
Aiguille de Varens
Alabama, the Confederate cruiser
Albania, Stillman's travels in
Albanians, character and customs of
Albert, Prince, his attitude towards the United States in the Civil War
Alcott, A. Bronson
Aldrich, T.B., contributes to The Crayon
Ali Saib Pasha
Alps, See Switzerland.
American Archaeological Institute, Stillman undertakes expedition for
American Art Union
"American Pre-Raphaelite," Stillman so called
Ames, Mr., Stillman's companion on voyage to England
Anakim, procession of the
Anti-rent war in New York
Antonelli, Cardinal, character of
Appleton, Thomas Gold, contributes to The Crayon
Appleton, William H.
Arethusa, English frigate, at Crete
Arkadi, convent of
Arkadi, the blockade runner
Armenian massacres, action of England and Italy in regard to
Armitage, Mr., fellow art-student with Stillman
Art in America in Stillman's youth
Art instruction in France and England compared
Art Union of New York buys a picture by Stillman
Arthur, Chester A., school and college friend of Stillman
Associateship of Design, Stillman elected to, 140.
Assurance, English vessel, at Crete
Atlantic, the steamer, 139.
Backwoods experiences. See Adirondacks, life in the.
Bailey, Philip James
Baldissera, General, appointed to command of Italian forces in Africa
Baptists, Seventh-Day. See Seventh-Day Baptists.
Baratieri, General, commanding Italian forces in Africa
Barbieux, French officer in Herzegovina
Baring, Sir Evelyn
Basil, St., Herzegovinian bishop
Bath, Marquis of
Beaconsfield, Lord, his Aylesbury speech
comment on Montenegrin affairs
discussed by Stillman and Gladstone
Beaulieu, M. Le Hardy de, Stillman's meeting with
Bed of Ferns, Stillman's picture
Buskin's criticism of, rejected by the Academy
Being a Boy
Bennett, James Gordon
Berdas, the, Stillman's journey into
invasion by the Turks
Berlin, Treaty of
Bigelow, John, managing editor of the Evening Post
Biglow Papers, edited by Thomas Hughes
Binney, Dr. Amos
Binney, Mrs. Amos
Black, Rev. William
Blair, Mr., engineer
Bliss, Elder, ancestor of W.J. Stillman
anecdotes of his family
Boyce, Mr., artist, visits Stillman
Boyle, Mr., artist
Brett, Mr., artist, Rossetti's aversion for
Brigandage in Rome
Brin, Sig., Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs
Brown, Mr., consular agent at Civita Vecchia
Brown, Ford Madox
Stillman's judgment of, and his influence on Rossetti
Brown, H.K., the sculptor
Brown, Mrs. H.K.
Browning, Mrs., mother of the poet
Browning, Robert, father of the poet
Browning, Robert, the poet
Browning, Sariana, sister of the poet
Bryant, William Cullen
Stillman's association with, on the Evening Post
contributes to The Crayon
feeling towards Lowell
Buchanan, Robert, his criticism of Rossetti
Buchanan, James, his influence on English public opinion
Burne-Jones, Sir Edward
Burnside, General Ambrose E.
Butler, Benjamin F., his influence in Massachusetts at opening of the
Calvin, doctrines of, held by Ruskin
Cambridge, Mass., life at
Camp life. See Adirondacks, life in the.
Camp Maple, See Adirondack Club.
Canandaigua, U.S. corvette, at Crete
Candanos, collision between Mussulmans and Christians at
serious fight at
Cattaro, Gulf of
Cattermole, George, Turner's liking for
Century, The. See Scribner's Monthly.
Chabot, Charles, the handwriting expert
Chalons, Alfred, miniature painter
Chalons, Edward, miniature painter
Chase, Salmon P.
Childhood of the Virgin Mary, Rossetti's picture
Children's Crusade, referred to
Christ in the Carpenter's Shop, picture by Millais
Church, F.E., artist and teacher of Stillman
Civil War in the United States, Stillman returns to America on account of
English attitude concerning
Clermont, Fulton's steamer
Clough, Arthur Hugh, Norton gives Stillman letter to
Col des Fours
Cole, Thomas, landscape painter
Collegiate education, discussion of
Collins line of steamers
Colucci, Sig., Italian consul at Crete
Comoundouros, Greek prime minister
brief references to
"Conscious mind in creation,"
Constable, John, artist
Consular service abroad, weakness of
Conversion, Baptist views concerning
See, also, Revival meetings.
Cornhill Magazine, Stillman contributes article to, on
architectural restorations in Florence.
Coroneos, Colonel, his action in the Cretan insurrection
Corot, Jean Baptiste, comparison of his work with that of Rousseau
Cosmopolitan Club, London
Coutet, Alpine guide
Coxe family, traveling companions and friends of Stillman
Crayon, The, Stillman's art journal
Creswick, Thomas, artist
Cretan committee of Athens assists Stillman
Cretan committee of Boston
Stillman writes history of
Cretan women, beauty of
Crete, Stillman made consul in
consular life in
plan for its annexation to Egypt
later visit to
survival of ancient superstitions
horrible history of Crete
Crispi, Francesco, Italian premier, Stillman's association with, and
his relations with King Humbert
with Sir Evelyn Baring
his second ministry
review of his conduct of Italian affairs in Abyssinia
Cromer, Lord. See Baring, Sir Evelyn.
Cunard line of steamers
Cushman, Charlotte, in Rome
Cuvier, Baron Georges
Daily News, Stillman is placed on staff of
journeys and correspondence in,
attitude of the people towards the Herzegovinian insurrection
Dancing, disapproved of by Stillman's father
Danilo, Prince of Montenegro
Darwin, Charles R., his evolutionary hypothesis
Davidson, Charles, gives Stillman lessons in art
Dead House, The
Delacroix, Eugène, artist
Delane, Mr., of the London Times
Deliyanni, Greek premier
Dendrinos, Russian consul at Crete
Derché, M., French consul at Crete
De Ruyter, N.Y., school at
Diamond, the steamer
Dickson, Charles H., English consul at Crete
Dickson, Mrs. T.G., cares for Stillman's children
Didot, Firmin, Stillman's meeting with, in Paris
Diplomatic service, American
Dobrilovina, convent of, Stillman's visit to
Dossi, Count Alberto Pisani, Crispi's secretary
Doughty, Thomas, artist
Drobniak, province of
Duby, secretary of the Prince of Montenegro
Dufferin, Lord, succeeds to the Embassy at Rome
Durand, A.B., artist,
contributes to The Crayon
Durand, John, partner of Stillman in publishing The Crayon
Dusseldorf, visited by Stillman
Echo, English paper, prints letter from Stillman
Elliott, Sir Henry, English ambassador at Crete
Emerson, Edward W.
his estimate of Alcott
Stillman's first meeting with
his relations with Longfellow
excursion with the Adirondack Club
visits Stillman in England
influence on Stillman
first visit to
her attitude during the American Civil War
later visits and residences in
English church in Rome
Enneochoria, valley of
Ennosis, blockade runner
Ense, Varnhagen von
Epirus, invasion of
Evans, Mr., archaeologist
Evening Post, The
Evolution, theory of
Fable for Critics
Father's influence in forming character of children
First Snow-Fall, The
Fish, Hamilton, urges Stillman's dismissal from Crete
Fleming, Colonel, of Florida
Florida, Stillman's trip to
Fogg, George G., American minister at Berne
Follansbee Pond. See, also, Adirondack Club.
Forbes, J.M., gives Stillman a commission for a picture
France, relations with Italy
Francis Joseph, Emperor of Austria
"Franco, Harry" (pseudonym). See Briggs, C.F.
Freeborn, Mr., English banker and friend of Stillman
Freeman, Professor Edward A
Freemasons in Rome
Froude, James Anthony, Stillman's friendship for
Fuller, George, Stillman's companion on voyage to England
Gallenga, Mr., Rome correspondent of the Times
Garrick, the ship
Garrison, William Lloyd
Geissler Pasha, German officer, in Crete
General-Admiral, Russian frigate at Crete
Geneva, Stillman's visit to
"Geodesy," nickname of a professor at Union College
George, King of Greece, his character
his weakness of action and unpopularity
calls Tricoupi to form a ministry
Gérôme, the artist
Gettysburg, battle of
Ghost at Chamounix
Gifford, S.R., artist
Gilder, Richard Watson
Giolitti, Sig., Italian minister
Girtin, Thomas, artist
Gladstone, W.E., his satisfaction with himself
Beaconsfield's banter of
Stillman's intercourse with
Mr. Walter's dislike of
"Good Americans, when they die …,"
Görgey, Arthur, treason of
Gosdanovich, Montenegrin interpreter and traveling companion of
Gray, H.P., artist
Greece, political affairs in
Greek Church, influence of
Greeley, Horace, opposes coercion of the South
Greene, Colonel W.B.
Greene, Mr., English consul at Scutari
Greenough, Horatio, contributes to The Crayon
Griffiths, Mr., London picture dealer
Halbherr, Federico, archaeologist
Halford, Mr., his collection of pictures
Hall, S.C., editor of the Art Journal
Hamlet and Ophelia, Rossetti's picture
Harding, James Duffield, artist
Haynes, Mr., accompanies Stillman on his archaeological expedition
Hector, Rossetti's picture
Herald, the New York, correspondence of, from Vienna, during
the Exposition; further correspondence.
Herzegovina, Stillman's journey to, as
condition of the country during the
insurrection; battle at Muratovizza
See also, Dalmatia and Montenegro.
Hoar, Judge E.R., joins the Adirondack Club;
Hobart Pasha, English admiral at Crete.
Holmes, Oliver Wendell;
Stillman's estimate of.
Holmes, Oliver Wendell, Jr.
Holmes, Sir William, English consul at Mostar, Herzegovina.
Hooker, Mr., secretary of legation at Rome.
House of the Four Winds.
Howe, Dr. Estes.
Howe, Dr. S.G.
Howells, William Dean,
Stillman's first meeting with;
consul at Venice.
Hubbard, Richard W., artist.
Hudson and Mohawk Railroad, opening of.
Hughes, Thomas, Lowell gives Stillman letter to;
Humbert, King of Italy, character of his rule
and relations with Crispi.
Hungarian crown jewels, concealed by Kossuth;
schemes for their removal;
recovered by the Austrian government.
Hungarian politics. See Kossuth, Louis.
Hunt, William M.
Huntington, Daniel, contributes to The Crayon.
"Indian Chiefs" of the anti-rent war.
Ingres, Jean Auguste Dominique.
Inman, Henry, artist.
Ioannides, Dr., in the Cretan insurrection.
Isle of Wight.
Ismael Pasha, Stillman's relations
with, during his consulate at Crete;
character of his rule;
action during the insurrection;
Italian prisoners murdered at New Orleans.
Jacque, Charles, artist.
James, Henry, father of the novelist,
contributes to The Crayon
Jay, John, American minister at Vienna.
Jews in Newport, R.I.
Johnson family, in the Adirondacks.
Jonine, Russian agent.
Juliet and her Nurse, Turner's picture.
Karam, Joseph, prince of the Lebanon.
Kaulbach, Wilhelm von.
Kestrel, the yacht, Stillman makes use of, about Crete;
hired for the voyage "on the track of Ulysses."
King, John A.
Knapp, Mr., revival preacher.
Kossuth, Louis, his tour in America;
his intercourse with Stillman.
Kovachevich, Slavonic patriot
Lamarck, Jean Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet de
Landscape Element, The, in American Poetry, series of articles by
Stillman in The Crayon
Landscape in America, lack of picturesqueness in
Larcom, Lucy, contributes to The Crayon
Lark, The, and her Young, fable of
Leighton, Sir Frederick, visits Stillman
Lemaître, Frédéric, actor
his attempts to obtain Turner's Téméraire
possession of another work by Turner
Leslie, Sir Charles R., artist
Levant Herald, Stillman's work upon
at the outbreak of the Civil War
his understanding of the North
in the Mason and Slidell case
brief mentions of
Lind, Jenny, fellow-passenger with Stillman from England
Linnell, John, artist
Ljubibratich, Herzegovinian leader
Llanthony Abbey, Turner's picture
Lloyd, Mr., English consul at Syra
Lockwood, Le Grand
Stillman's intercourse with
comparison with Emerson
Longfellow, Mrs. H.W.
Lowell, James Russell
assists Stillman with The Crayon
is appointed a professor at Harvard
complimentary dinner to
comparison with Holmes
Stillman's personal association with and judgment of
brief mentions of
Lowell, Mrs. James Russell
Lumley, Sir John Saville. See Saville, Lord, of Burford.
Lyons, Lord, English ambassador at Constantinople
MacDonald, Mr., manager of the Times, Stillman's association with
Mack, Dr. David
Mack, Laura, of Cambridge. See Stillman, Laura, wife of W.J.
Mackail, J.W., his life of Morris
Macmillan's, evenings at
Magdalene, Rossetti's picture
Mahmoud Pasha, Hungarian general, in Turkish army
Mahommed the Arabian, bricabrac dealer
Mantz, Paul, French correspondent of The Crayon
Marsh, George P., American minister to Italy
Marshall, John, surgeon
Martins, Professor, French scientist
"Mason and Dixon's line"
Mason and Slidell, capture of
Maxson, Mr., grandfather of W.J. Stillman
Maxson, Eliza Ward. See Stillman, Eliza Ward Maxson
Maxson, John, ancestor of W.J. Stillman
Maxson, William B., uncle of W.J. Stillman
Mayor, Edmond, Crispi's secretary
Mehmet Ali, governor-general of Crete
Meissonier, Jean Louis Ernst
Melos. See Milo
Metellus, his siege of Canea
Millais, Sir John
his picture The Proscribed Royalist
his facility of execution
his influence compared with Rossetti's
Millet, J.F., Stillman's meeting with, at Barbizon
his personal relations with Rousseau
appreciation by Americans
Millianoff, Marko, Kutchian chief
Milnes, Monckton, Stillman makes acquaintance of
Milo, Montenegrin hero
Milo, the island of
Mirko, father of Prince Nicholas
Monson, Sir Edward
Montenegro, Princess of
Montenegro, Stillman's journey to, as Times correspondent
condition and character of the people
incidents of travel
participation in the Herzegovinian insurrection
declaration of war and military operations
campaign of 1877
siege of Niksich
later visit to the country
See, also, Herzegovina.
Montenegrin women, courage of
Moratsha, Stillman's journey to
scene of defeat of Mehemet Ali Pasha
Morris, E. Joy, American minister at Constantinople
Morris, William; character of his work and Rossetti's influence
Mostar, visit to
Mother's influence in forming character of children
Moustier, Marquis de
Mukhtar Pasha, commands Turkish troops in the Herzegovinian
is replaced by Suleiman Pasha
Müller, Max, quoted
reviews The Cretan Insurrection
with Mrs. Müller, meets Lowell at Stillman's house in London
Muratovizza, battle of
Murray, Captain Patrick, commander of the Wizard
Mustapha Kiritly Pasha, his campaign in Crete
his relations with Stillman
his execution of Cretans in 1837
Naples, Congress of
Naples, King of
Natural selection, theory of
Nevius brothers, missionaries
New Orleans, murder of Italian prisoners in
New York city
the schools of
description of, in Stillman's boyhood
artist life and journalism in
New York politics
Newport, R.I., "Seventh-Day Baptists" in
Nicholas, Prince of Montenegro, opposes Herzegovinian insurrection in
its early stages
Stillman's first audience with
his character and appearance
his civil list
incidents in Stillman's intercourse with
unwillingness to take responsibility of a war
his conditions refused by Turks
relations with Austria
his gratitude to Stillman for sympathy aroused by his Times
his opposition to Russian suggestions
movements during the war
brief mentions of
Niksich, siege of
Nooning, The, plan of
North Conway, N.H.
Norton, Charles Eliot,
first meets Stillman
contributes to The Crayon
friendship with Stillman
brief mentions of
Nott, Mrs., wife of President Nott
Nott, Eliphalet, President of Union College
Ode to Happiness
Ogle, Mr., Times correspondent, killed by Turkish troops
succeeds Mustapha Kiritly in Crete
On the Track of Ulysses
Owen, Robert Dale
Page, William, portrait painter,
contributes to The Crayon
Paget, Admiral Lord Clarence
Paget, H.M., accompanies Stillman "on the track of Ulysses"
Pall Mall Gazette,
Stillman contributes to
is dropped from
Paris, visits to
Parnell case, Stillman's search for evidence connected with
Parrot, a pet
Parthenios Kelaides, in the Cretan insurrection
Paul Smith's Hotel
commands Montenegrin troops in Herzegovinian insurrection,
Peirce, Professor Benjamin
Petropoulaki, Grecian officer in Crete
Petrovich, "Bozo" (Bozidar)
Phi Beta Kappa Society
Phoenix Park murders
Photiades Pasha, Turkish minister at Athens
governor of Crete
Photographs of Athenian views, taken by Stillman
Pictures from Appledore, first part appears in The Crayon
Pigeons, immense flocks of
Pigott, Mr., his connection with the Parnell case
Piperski Celia, convent of
Plamenaz, Montenegrin minister of war
Poe, Edgar A., Stillman meets at Church's studio
Pope, the, office of
Post, Mr., artist
Preveli, convent of
Prinsep, Valentine C., visits Stillman
Protestant chapel in Rome
Protracted meetings. See Revival meetings
Psyche, English dispatch boat, at Crete
Public School Society in New York
Pulzsky, Franz, Kossuth's colleague
Puritans, rigor of their rule in Massachusetts
Pym, commander of the Assurance
his work as a painter
influence on Stillman
Quarantine in the Levant
Rachel, the actress
Ragusa, affairs in and about during the Herzegovinian insurrection
Rain Dream, A, first published in The Crayon
Randall, Alexander W.
Rarey, John S., impostor using his name
Red Cross Society
Reinhart, Benjamin F.
Retimo, Stillman's trip to
"Rhode Island and Providence Plantations"
Ricotti, General, Italian minister
Riforma, La, Crispi's journal
Ritchie, Anne Thackeray
Robertsbridge, residence at
Robilant, General, Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs
Rodich, Baron, governor of Dalmatia
Rogers, Mr., ex-officer of the English army
Roman Catholic Church
and the public schools
character and influence of, in Italy
civil and political condition
the Catholic Church
abolition of American legation at
attitude of his government toward Italy
Rossetti, Dante Gabriel
Stillman's intercourse with and judgment of
Rossetti, Mrs. Gabriele
Rossetti, William, English correspondent of The Crayon
Stillman's later intercourse with
Rossetti family, Stillman's intercourse with
Rousseau, Théodore, Stillman's meeting with, at Barbizon
his work compared with Turner's
his portrait of Emerson
remark about Ruskin
Rudiní, Marquis di, Italian statesman
his action in regard to murder of Italian prisoners in New Orleans
fall of his ministry
Ruggles, Dr. Edward, artist
Stillman's first meeting with
summer in Switzerland with
Ruskin, Mrs. John
coöperates in Montenegrin affairs
declares war against Turkey
unites with France in creating difficulties for Italy in Abyssinia
in Cretan affairs
in Europe generally
Russians, characteristics of the
Sabbatarians. See Seventh-Day Baptists. Sabbath, the St. Augustine, Fla. St. Martin Salisbury, Lord orders withdrawal from negotiations with Italy in reference to occupation of Kassala acknowledges Crispi's services to the cause of European peace renews compact with Italy and Austria vacillation of Sandown Sandwith, T. Humphrey, English consul at Crete Sapunzaki, General Saracco, Sig., Italian Minister of Public Works, Saturday Club Stillman's first attendance at Emerson as a member of Judge Hoar as a member of Sauer, Mr., correspondent of the New York Herald at Vienna Saville, Lord, of Burford Savoy, annexation of Schahin Pasha Schenectady commercial importance of, in early part of the 19th century Stillman's early life and education in Schmidt, Madam, a German refugee Scotch Cameronians in Princeton, N.Y. Scott, General Winfield, urges peaceful separation of North and South Scott, Mrs. Winfield, dies in Rome Scribner's Monthly, Stillman's connection with Scutari Sectarian persecution, freedom from, in Rhode Island Seemann, Dr. Selim Pasha Selinos Server Effendi Servia negotiations with Montenegro revolt against Turkey Seventh-Day Baptists Severn, Arthur Seward, William H. his relations with Dr. Nott his influence in New York at the opening of the Civil War position in the Mason and Slidell case sustains Stillman in matter of passports his manner of making appointments dispatch from, to Stillman at Crete consents to Stillman's recall, which, however, is revoked Sexton, Samuel, portrait painter, teacher and friend of Stillman Shawnik Shefket Pasha, inaugurator of the "Bulgarian atrocities" defeated by Lazar Socica recalled Sheridan, Irish patriot Sigourney, Mrs., contributes to The Crayon "Six Greeks, seven captains" Slavery in Florida, as seen by Stillman Small-pox hospital, Newport, R.I. Smalley, E.V., assists Stillman in Tribune correspondence at Vienna Smalley, G.W., European manager of the New York Tribune Socica, Lazar defeats Shefket Pasha at Muratovizza quarrels with Peko Pavlovich joins Peiovich his method of attacking towers Societies, secret, at Union College Sonnino, Sidney, Italian Minister of the Treasury Southerners in Rome Spartali, Marie. See Stillman, Marie, wife of W.J. Spartali, Michael, Greek consul general at London Spelling-matches Sphakia Spiritism, Stillman's investigation of Spuz Stagecoaches, between Albany and Schenectady Star, The, John Bright's paper Stead, William T. Stebbing, William Stebbins, Emma Steedman, Commodore Stefan Nemanides, founder of the convent of Moratsha Stephen, Leslie, Stillman's acquaintance with, in London Stephen, Mrs. Leslie Stillman, Alfred, brother of W.J. Stillman, Bella, daughter of W.J. Stillman, Charles H., brother of W.J. Stillman, Effie, daughter of W.J. Stillman, Eliza Ward Maxson, mother of W.J. her early life marriage residence in Schenectady, N.Y. strong religious nature ambitions for her children charity family discipline general character old age death Stillman, George, ancestor of W.J. Stillman, Dr. Jacob, brother of W.J. teaches in De Ruyter, N.Y. takes part in séances Stillman, Joseph, father of W.J. marriage residence in Schenectady, N.Y. opposes his sons' going to college family discipline character death Stillman, Laura, first wife of W.J. engagement marriage winter in Paris return to America remains in Cambridge while Stillman goes to his consulate at Rome rejoins husband life in Crete death Stillman, Lisa, daughter of W.J. Stillman, Marie, second wife of W.J. Stillman, Mrs., sister-in-law of W.J. Stillman, Paul, brother of W.J. Stillman, Russie, son of W.J. his illness his death Stillman, Thomas B., brother of W.J. Stillman, William James early life and training religious experience intellectual slowness love of nature and struggles of conscience runs away from home returns attends school in New York city, living with his eldest brother goes to a school at De Ruyter, N.Y. mental slowness disappears college education decided on by the family continues preparation in Schenectady enters Union College tries teaching a "district school" conflict of will with his father returns to college college life, religious doubts, renewal of acquaintance with a former teacher at De Ruyter begins serious study of art voyage to England life in London visit to Paris returns to America continues painting from nature enlists under Kossuth, and goes to Hungary to carry off the crown jewels studies art in Paris returns to America and continues painting investigates spiritism spends much time in the Adirondacks curious mental experiences takes a studio in New York obtains position of fine-art editor of the Evening Post relations with Bryant with Mr. and Mrs. H.K. Brown conducts The Crayon breaks down in health life in Cambridge and vacations in the Adirondacks betrothal to Miss Mack of Cambridge formal organization of the Adirondack Club, and purchase of tract of land severe illness trip to Florida returns to Cambridge in the Adirondacks goes again to England life in London, conversion to the theory of evolution summer in Switzerland with Ruskin marriage to Miss Mack and winter in Paris, acquaintance with the Browning family excursion to Normandy returns to the United States on account of the Civil War is appointed consul at Rome goes to England, thence to Italy life in Rome journey to America for wife and child dissatisfaction with the Roman consulate transference to Crete journey thither consular life trips about the island journey to and from Rome for wife and children death of T.B. Stillman to Athens on leave of absence photographic work is dismissed from Cretan consulate death of Mrs. Stillman returns to Crete to make consignment of the consulate in accordance with wish of Mehmet Ali, the new governor-general, goes to Constantinople to discuss condition of Crete illness of Russie Stillman, journey to London, and thence to America death of his mother publication of book of photographs undertakes painting again takes position on Scribner's Monthly returns to London,—association with Rossetti and other English artists second marriage literary work for various periodicals continued ill health of Russie Stillman copyright controversy goes to Vienna as correspondent of the Tribune reports Beaconsfleld's Aylesbury speech for the Herald makes journey to America with Russie death of Russie goes to Herzegovina and Montenegro, as correspondent of the Times, to report the insurrection there journey through Montenegro and Albania stay at Ragusa goes to England returns to Montenegro goes again to England false reports against his character as a correspondent receives assurance of Gladstone's confidence again returns to Montenegro following the war journey into the Berdas witnesses the taking of Niksich lost in the forest with the prince excursion to Moratsha returns to find that Antivari and Dulcigno have been taken spends the winter in Corfu removes to Florence intercourse with the Brownings and Gladstone exploration of the "track of Ulysses" undertakes expedition for the American Archaeological Institute revisits Crete goes to Athens as Times correspondent returns to Florence is interested in preservation of old buildings letters to London journals pleasures of life in Florence gives up residence on account of prevalence of fevers Mrs. Stillman and younger children return to England, Stillman spends next year in New York, on staff of the Evening Post is appointed representative of the Times for Italy and Greece, with residence at Rome goes to Athens, finding political affairs there in a critical condition breaks down in health and returns to Rome relations with Crispi is sent by the Times to America in quest of evidence connected with the Parnell case revisits the Adirondacks résumé of his connection with the Times, to 1889 revisits Montenegro rumor of his assassination in Rome as Times correspondent evolution his religious ideal resigns his position on the Times, and settles permanently in England Story, W.W. Suleiman Pasha Sultan, the Sumner, Charles Swedenborg Swinburne, A.C. Switzerland, Stillman's journeyings in Szemere, Bartholomew, colleague of Kossuth
Tanlongo, Sig., director of the Banca Romana
Taylor, Bayard, contributes to The Crayon
assists Stillman in Tribune correspondence at Vienna
Tcherniaieff, Russian general, commands Servian army
Tennyson, Alfred, writes a sonnet on Montenegrin affairs
Tilton, John Rollin, American landscape painter
Times, prints letter from Stillman on copyright matters
correspondence from Herzegovina and Montenegro
from New York
on the Parnell case
résumé of Stillman's connection with
his resignation from
"Tree of Judgment"
Tribune, the New York, Stillman correspondent for, at Vienna
Tricou, M., French consul at Crete
Tricoupi, Charilaos, Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs
his friendship with Stillman
his character and ability
course as prime minister
Trollope, T. Adolphus, defends Stillman in copyright discussion
Trout, Stillman's first capture
in Montenegrin streams
Turkey, her treatment of Crete
condition of the empire after the Cretan affair. See,
also, Herzegovina and Montenegro.
Turner, Joseph Mallord William
Stillman's meeting with
criticism of his works
his influence on Stillman
comparison of his work with Rousseau's
appearance through a spiritualist medium
scenes painted by him in the Alps
his power of composition
Tynan, Irish patriot
Union College, Schenectady
Utovu, battle of
Van Buren, General, chief commissioner for America at the Vienna
Varnhagen von Ense, Carl August
Veloudaki, Costa, Cretan chief
Victor Emmanuel II., King of Italy
Victor Emmanuel III., King of Italy
Victoria, Queen, her attitude towards the United States during the
her visit to Florence
Vienna, Stillman visits, as Kossuth's agent
Exhibition of 1873
Virchow, Rudolf, Stillman sends skull of Albanian chieftain to
Von Keudall, German ambassador at Rome
Vucidol, battle of
Vucotich, father-in-law of Nicholas, Prince of Montenegro
Vucovich, the village
Vucovich, Voivode, chief of the Wassoivich
Walter, John, of the London Times
Ward, Samuel, of Rhode Island
Ward, Samuel G., of Boston
Warner, Charles Dudley, early friend of Stillman
Washington monument, stone for, sent from Rome
Wassiltchikoff, Russian friend of Stillman
Waterloo, battlefield of
Watts, G.F., Stillman's first meeting with
Wehnert, Edward, artist and friend of Stillman in London
White Lady, Rossetti's picture
Whittier, John G.
Williams, Roger, his colony in Rhode Island
Wilson, John, artist and teacher of phonography, gives Stillman
Wind Harp, The
Winsor, Justin, contributes to The Crayon
Wizard, English gunboat, at Crete
Woodley, Mr., American consul at Corfu
Yates, Edmund, correspondent of the New York Herald at Vienna
Yewell, Mr., Stillman takes studio with, in Paris
Young, John Russell, correspondent of the New York Herald at Vienna
Stillman enters studio of
Zanardelli, rival of Crispi in 1893
Zimbrakaki, commander of Greek volunteers in Crete
Zschokke, Johann H.D.
Zupa, monastery of