Page:The Sclavonic Provinces of the Ottoman Empire.djvu/19

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would have been exposed at the hands of the Turks. No doubt this is a wild and awful state of manners, but if the people are driven to this state of things, it is the oppressors who are responsible for it. It is idle for the oppressors to complain of conduct of this sort, because, the more they prove, the more they establish the ground of condemnation against themselves. I am glad to say that in recent times great efforts have been made to do away with this ferocity of character. The Montenegrins still maintain their military valour, but I do not believe that many excesses, if any, have been established against them in the present war. For two generations great pains have been taken by their sovereigns, and I believe with much of success, to establish peace and order and good government among them, and the representation of Miss Mackenzie and Miss Irby is that life and property are far more secure in Montenegro at this time than they are in Turkey, and that in the year preceding their visit the whole number of offences committed in the territory was but two. The patron saint of Montenegro is St. Peter; known in his lifetime as Vladika Peter I. He died in 1830, after a long reign of fifty-three years. This is what these ladies say about him. Ask a Montenegrin what St. Peter did for Montenegro, and he tells you—"There are still with us men who lived under St. Peter's rule, heard his words, and saw his life. For fifty years he governed us, and fought and negotiated for us, and walked before us in pureness and uprightness from day to day. He gave us good laws, and put an end to the disorderly state of the country. He enlarged our frontier, and drove away our enemies. Even on his death-bed he spoke words to our elders which have kept peace among us since he has gone. While he yet lived, we swore by his name; we felt his smile a blessing, and his anger a curse. We do so still." Since that time, one of their leading princes was assassinated beyond the limits of Montenegro by a fellow of bad character. The event had no connection with politics, and no connection, happily, with the Turk. The people went into mourning for him, and the mourning must have been real, for the ladies said, "It is more than a year since the whole population went into mourning, but there are still no signs of its being laid aside," and in another passage: "The secretary told us that for eight weeks after the late prince's death the chapel was filled day and night with people lamenting over his grave, and not women alone, but huge sunburnt warriors, weeping like children." These Montenegrins are an extraordinary race, both mentally and physically. I have never seen but one, and that was in the island of Corfu, about twenty years ago. He was one of the most magnificent men that I ever met with—very young, very simple in manner, largely armed even in Corfu, a thoroughly peaceful country, and perfectly well-behaved. He made a very deep impression on me. With respect to the character of the race to which he belonged, they