Page:The Sclavonic Provinces of the Ottoman Empire.djvu/18

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people in their desperate struggle, standing between life and death almost without intermission for 336 years. These bishops were warriors. Every priest in Montenegro was and is a warrior. They wore the dress of the country, and wore arms like the rest of the people. It would be a very extraordinary thing, you might think, to see the rector and curates of Hawarden going about with arms in their hands; but you must consider the circumstances in which these Montenegrin priests were placed. It has been a deadly conflict between life and death from day to day, and from year to year; and at no period during the whole of these many generations had the people been permitted to lay aside the terrible habits which were connected with a constant conflict of blood between different races of mankind. Their object had been to maintain their freedom and religion. Everything else they lost when they went into the hills. Their leader summoned them together, and made them take a solemn oath on the New Testament to abide true to their faith and nation, and rather die than accept terms with the infidel. Whoever broke that oath was to be invested with a woman's apron—(laughter)—and hooted from the ranks of men. You laugh; but you would hardly believe the respect which these people had and have for women. These women did hard labour—the severe conditions of their life required it—and these women were sometimes keen and eager to go into the fight under the circumstances in which they lived. But the honour of a woman is never broken, and the purity and chastity of that people is something marvellous. We may hear people talk of their superstition and ignorance. They may have superstitions, and they may be ignorant in many things; but in many points of the Christian law they will put us all to shame. And these ladies (Miss Mackenzie and Miss Irby) inform us that if a traveller wanted to go through Montenegro, and to be perfectly secure from incivility as well as violence, the only thing he had to do was to get an unprotected woman of the country to go with him, and her protection would carry him safely through. Nay, we learn from the work of the two ladies, that in Montenegro all unchastity is punished with death. I have spoken of the cowardice and unmanliness and effeminacy of character which undoubtedly taints some of the unhappy subjects of Turkey. There is none of that effeminacy, but there has been a certain taint of cruelty, in Montenegro. The practice of the Montenegrins when they took Turks in battle was to cut off their heads and exhibit them on their battlements. It will be said that this was very savage, but you will understand it when I tell you something which is, perhaps, more startling still. When Montenegrins went into battle together, and one of them was so wounded that he could not be removed, it was the duty of the other, especially if he were his brother or his friend, to cut off his head. Why? To save him from the tortures, the foul insults and disgrace, to which he, whilst living,