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heights of the Eastern Pindus, the plains of Thessaly reach away to the long low ridge of Pelion and the pointed peak of Ossa. A dark depression marks the Vale of Tempe, and over it tower the snow-capped domes of Olympus; while to the north, behind the Kambouni chain, the mountains of Macedonia rise in jumbled masses, fading away into blue space. A little higher still, and everything is enveloped in rolling masses of grey mist; and in another hour, four hours from Kalamash, we stand on the watershed of Epirus and Thessaly, on the summit of the Zygos, a pass which culminates in bare rocks, forming a majestic gateway between the two provinces, 5640 feet above the sea. Heavy rains have fallen, and the rushing of many waters is heard on all sides, for this is the home of many mighty streams. From these heights the Arathus runs down to the Gulf of Arta ; the Achelous, or Aspropotamos, flows across the Greek frontier to the mouth of the Corinthian Gulf; the Veneticos goes to swell the waters of the Vistritza ; and the Salemvria descends to fertilise the lowlands of Thessaly. Dark clouds hang about the mountains of Epi
rus and shut in the view; but beneath us we look down into the deep valley of the Arta Metzovitico. The sides of the mountains are bare and bleak; the path, which is called a road, leads downwards in sharp zigzags, torn here and there by landslips and by foaming torrents : thunder and flashes of forked lightning harmonise with the wild grandeur of the scene. Over on the opposite side of the valley Metzovo hangs on to the precipitous rocks. It seems but a stone's - throw to its dark - grey houses, yet after two hours' toilsome descent we find ourselves only at the bridge which spans a northern branch of the Arta. Night has already closed in upon us, dark and gloomy, and we still have to climb up the other side of the ravine, picking our way among the rocks, the horses stumbling, the escort cursing, until at last, after twelve hours' travelling, we reach the welcome shelter of the han of Metzovo. A hostelry in Turkey consists only of a roof and a floor, already tenanted, perhaps, by unwelcome guests ; but it affords food and rest, and neither men nor horses are inclined to cavil at the quarters which supply these two desiderata.
AMONG THE WALLACHS.
It is almost a miracle how Metzovo holds on to the precipice against which it is built. Its square, grey stone houses rise tier upon tier, clinging as best they may to the rocks upon which they are perched ; above them a mountain-wall 2000 feet high—beneath them a deep ravine, where, 1000 feet below the town, three brawling torrents join to form the Arta Metzovitico. On the opposite side of the gorge a cluster of houses, under the shadow of towering cliffs, form the suburb where the sun never shines — Metzovo Anhelion. The position of Metzovo must have been at all times one of surpassing strategical importance, commanding as it does the only practicable pass between Thessaly and Epirus ; and it is probably to this
cause that the very existence of the town amid such in hospitable precipices is due. The picturesque battlements of the castle, which still overshadow its houses, no doubt mark the site of a far more ancient citadel. The chief interest attaching to Metzovo arises, however, from its being the most important centre of the Wallach race. Not only does it still enjoy a certain ecclesiastical independence — as the Exarch is not placed under the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan of Yanina, and is directly responsible to the Patriarch of Constantinople—but it was for a considerable time endowed with many valuable political privileges, which were conferred upon it by a Grand Vizier of the seventeenth century, who took refuge at Metzovo during a period of disgrace, and was mindful of the hospitality shown to him by the Wallachs in adversity when he was at last restored to imperial favour. Though these privileges were withdrawn thirty years ago by the Sultan after the insurrection in the Pindus, their effect has not yet entirely passed away. Preserved on the one hand from the Hellenising influence of the Greek clergy, and on the other from the immediate presence
of Turkish misrule, the inhabitants of Metzovo, whatever their Hellenic sympathies may be, have maintained their Wallach character; and in its six or seven hundred houses there is not one where the Wallach tongue is not spoken, where Wallach traditions are not treasured up, where the old civis Romanus feeling is not still alive -“We are Wallachs, Romounoi.”
The origin of the Wallachs is a question which has given rise of late to such angry polemic that it may be worth while to recapitulate briefly what is known of their past history.
More than four centuries ago the Byzantine Khalkskondylas, referring to the Wallachs of the Pindus, wrote: “They speak the same language as the Dacians" (now the Roumanians) —"a language which resembles that of Italy, yet so corrupt, and differing in so many points, that the inhabitants of Italy scarcely understand what they say : but whence these people, who speak the Roman tongue and have Roman customs, came when they settled down in these regions, I have never ascertained from any mortal, nor have I heard that any one has treated of the