Albania: a narrative of recent travel by E. F. Knight - PDF

Albania: a narrative of recent travel 

Albania: a narrative of recent travel

my own first rough impressions of the country; for my object is principally to show my readers how well worthy of a visit it is, and by describing the ways and means of traveling in it, to encourage and render some assistance to any who may purpose to follow in our footsteps over the Highlands of ancient Illyria.

 My fellow travelers proposed to travel in a rough style, not to hamper themselves with servants, and to ride or walk, as seemed best when we reached the country.

 The originator of the expedition, Robinson, had evolved an imaginary Albania from his inner consciousness and was therefore always ready to answer, off-hand, any question we might ask him as to what we should take with us in the shape of baggage, 

 He always advanced his opinion so unhesitatingly and would give us so many facts as to the climate, nature of the country and manners of the people, that, till I knew him better, I imagined that he must have either traveled in these countries himself or at least have had a very dear and confiding friend who had done so, for no amount of reading could have brought about so intimate an acquaintance with the subject. 

Having now brought my readers into Albania, it does not seem out of place to give a rough sketch of this almost unknown province of Turkey. The first thing that strikes one is the utter lawlessness of the people. The Turks have never assimilated their remoter possessions. It is not in their character to do so. They seem, even after so many centuries, to be merely temporarily encamped in Albania. 

They have pachas and garrisons in the towns, but the natives enjoy a surprising amount of independence and are allowed to do pretty well as they like. Indeed, the government is very weak here, neither feared nor respected — merely tolerated. 

The mountain tribes are almost as little under Turkish rule as were the Montenegrins themselves, over whom, until the treaty of Berlin, the Porte claimed a Condition of Albania. 117 suzerainty. Out of the towns, Turkish officials are not to be found. A powerful tribe will often refuse to pay the dimes to the tax farmer, when a bloody and cruel war will probably ensue, linger- ing on for years in the hills, in which the government troops will often come off the second-best. At the period of our visit, Albania is in a state of positive anarchy — the gendarmerie on strike, the soldiers refusing to salute their officers, neither had received pay for months, while the natives hold seditious meetings publiclj^, and unmolested, in the mosques of the garrison towns, in w^hich rebellion against the Porte is fearlessly advocated.

Publication date: 1880

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