Littell's Living Age/Volume 130/Issue 1683/Servia

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From The Leisure Hour.


Servia is about one-fifth smaller than Scotland, and sparsely inhabited by 1,352,000 inhabitants. Like Scotland, it is a land of mountains. On the south-west the mountains consist of offshoots of the Dinaric Alps, and elsewhere the branches of the Balkan chain. One of these, gathered into a knotty group in the centre of the country, forms the Rudrik Mountains. Another, running northwards, meets a range of the Carpathians, and with it forms the "Iron Gates" of the Danube. Nothing can exceed the wildness and stern sublimity of this celebrated portal, through which the great river flows. Generally speaking, Servia is traversed from south to north by extensive mountain ridges. These form valleys, which nowhere expand into plains. In its physical features the country is not unlike Bosnia and the Herzegovina, but with its green and well-wooded hills it is in striking contrast to the bare and sterile region of Montenegro. As Montenegro was the unconquered remnant of the old Servian empire, therefore the little principality in the Black Mountain may, in that sense, be held as its truest representative. Modern Servia however, on account alike of name, resources, and geographical position, claims continuity of national life with the Servia of the fourteenth century. The motto of the princes of the present house of Obrenovitch is, "Time and my rights." Their arms represent a white cross on a red field, and on the cross are inscribed two dates, 1389 — 1815; between them lies a drawn sword. The first date commemorates the fatal fight of Kossova, when the Servians, overthrown by the Ottoman arms, became a subject people; the second marks the year when Milosch Obrenovitch went from his dwelling among the mountains of the interior to the church of Takovo to raise anew the standard of revolt. The drawn sword between the dates may be taken to indicate that the attitude of the subject Serbs on the Danube during four long centuries of Turkish rule was not one of servile submission, but of a nourished antagonism. What gives importance to the revolt of 1815 is that it resulted in the permanent acknowledgment of Servia by the Porte as a self-governing though still tributary power, under native rulers. Servia, restored to the Serbs, brought back with it the hope at some future time of entire independence, and of an extension of territory co-extensive with the old Servian kingdom. Nor do the free and warlike inhabitants of the Black Mountain entertain any jealousy of the national aspirations of their brethren on the Danube. The two Serb powers are in close alliance, and between the families of the respective princes there exists a cordial friendship.