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uniform, and appear as what they are, notwithstanding the disguise they wear to-day — the servants not of the Porte, but of the League.

The slanting rays of the sun had just reached the straggling houses of Mazaraki, embowered in pleasant masses of green foliage, as we took leave on the following morning of the Albanian Pasha, and turned our horses' heads towards the northern mouth of the valley. It was a delightful ride in the crisp autumnal morning, up hill and down dale, past cheerful villages and luxuriant plantations of olive and of walnut, to the small port of Gomenitza. The extensive ruins of a Venetian fort bear witness to its past. As to its present not much can be said, except that nature has favoured it with a most lovely position. It lies at the head of a deep bay, enclosed by green and wooded heights, above which tower the mountains of Albania ; and on the western horizon, out of the blue waters of the Adriatic, the cliffs and hills of Corfu rise in bold relief against the sky. Here I chartered a small barque to convey me across to Corfu ; and as the coasts of Albania slowly receded in the

gloaming, it was with a heavy heart I bade farewell to a country whose inhabitants had won my regard more quickly by their manly bearing, their brave hearts, their ready wits, and their straightforward speech, than any other race I had met with in the East since I left the Druses of the Syrian Hauran.

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CHAPTER XIV.

THE ALBANIAN LEAGUE.

LESS than a century ago, Gibbon, writing of Albania, was still fain to confess that though within sight of Italy, it was less known than the interior of America. Since then it has been explored by numerous travellers who have described the beauty of its scenery, the picturesqueness of its towns, the manners and customs of its inhabitants, and have studied their quaint folk-lore and their strange unwritten tongue. But though all agree to recognise in the Albanians the descendants of a most ancient race, the mystery of their origin has never yet been satisfactorily unravelled. Nor is this the place to enter at length into the question, to which a valuable contribution has lately been made by a French professor, M. Benloew, in an essay

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entitled, “La Grèce avant les Grecs.' Though there are many points in his work which are evidently strained to support a theory, his sometimes fantastic conjectures do not detract from the value of his more serious arguments; and the new light which he often throws with the help of the Albanian language on the nominology of ancient Greece, as well as the skill with which he traces the influence of Asiatic traditions on Greek mythology, substantially support his contention that the Albanians of to-day are the direct descendants of the first immigrants from Asia Minor into the south-eastern peninsula of Europe, of the Pelasgi and Lelegi who were afterwards displaced by the hardier Aryans known to history under the name of Greeks, and compelled to seek refuge in the wild mountain - ranges where they have preserved into modern times the type, the language, and many even of the customs of their ancestors. In corroboration of this theory, I may mention that an Austrian craniologist whom I met on my way back to Constantinople, told me it was only in Albania that he found skulls similar to

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the peculiar formation of those discovered in the old Illyrian tumuli of Dalmatia.

Whether the Pelasgic solution of the problem be finally adopted, or whether preference be given to the Semitic solution, or whether their own pretensions to autocthony obtain recognition, the exact origin of the Albanians does not seriously affect the future of the Albanian question. To deal with the latter, it is sufficient to know that the race which occupies at the present day the mountainous regions of the western portion of the Balkan peninsula is one of exceeding antiquity, which has preserved through centuries, and amid the floods of successive barbarian invasions, not only the purity of its lineage and language, but the continuity of its national traditions and institutions; and though many pages in the history of Albania are still blank or obscure, enough of it is known to point the suicidal folly of the Porte in attempting to kindle once more into flame for its own selfish purposes the fiery spirit of Albanian independence which it had taken so many centuries to quench. It has already sadly burnt its fingers

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