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attended by deputies from all parts of Albania. A petition, or rather an ultimatum, was drawn up, demanding for the last time the recognition of Albanian autonomy. Two delegates were selected to take it to Constantinople and deliver it only into the Sultan's own hands. But before even the return of the delegates—who were not so much as admitted into the imperial presence-announced the failure of their mission, the treacherous arrest by Dervish Pasha of Prink Bib Doda, the prince of the Mirdites, and of Hodo Pasha, the most powerful Mussulman chieftain of Northern Albania, had shown what treatment the Skipetars had to expect at the hands of the Turkish Government, now that the League had outlived the Sultan's liking. War was never openly declared, but it was openly waged. The few Turkish officials remaining in Albania were ignominiously expelled; those freshly appointed by the Porte were turned back by armed force; the Redifs liable to service refused to obey the summons; Ali Pasha of Goussinieh collected thousands of mountaineers around his standard, and turned to good account the long winter months,

when the inclemency of the weather alone renders all military operations impossible, in drilling and preparing his forces for the coming struggle. The seat of the Central Committee of the League, which had virtually assumed the reins of Government, was transferred from Prizrend to Dibra — a more central position, where closer and more intimate relations could be established between the Gheys and the Turks of Southern Albania. Not the least significant incident of the winter was the formation of an Albanian Committee at Athens, through which the League was able to place itself in direct communication with the Hellenic Government. The threat of a Greek invasion has alone deterred the Southern Albanians, and especially the Tchamis, who are more immediately menaced, from openly taking part with their brethren of Central and Northern Albania. But they are not unrepresented in the councils of the League ; and should the danger of Greek annexation be averted either by diplomatic negotiations or by a direct arrangement with Greece, we shall probably see the whole Albanian nation, from the shores of the Ambracian Gulf to the

borders of Montenegro-one and a half million of souls — united in the vindication of their rights.

Albania now seems to hold her destinies in her own hands : she can shape them according to her own bent. Is the national feeling, the consciousness of a national duty, strong enough to overrule the distracting influences of tribal jealousies and sectarian differences, and combine for a supreme effort all the heterogeneous elements divided by the traditions of secular rivalry? Those who know Albania best are disposed to answer Yes. The pride of creed is in Albania only second to the pride of race. In Albania alone, of all the countries of the East, the first question asked of a man is, not what he is, but who he is. So long as he is an Albanian, it is only a secondary consideration whether he be Christian or Mussulman. Religion is regarded chiefly as a matter of expediency, and there are especially many arguments to show that Islam has never struck deep roots into the soil of Albania. The prevalence of Christian names and Christian customs among Mussulmans; the frequent intermarriages between Christians and Mussulmans; the existence of numerous communities of crypto-Christians, who follow outwardly the law of the Prophet, and conform secretly to the practices of Christianity; the position of women, which is permanently determined by their birth, whereas in Mohammedan countries maternity can raise the humblest to the highest rank,—these are only a few illustrations of the numerous points in which the creed of Islam has failed to weaken the strength of national traditions. With regard to the petty squabbles and tribal feuds which seem hitherto to have engrossed all the energies of the Albanians, it is asserted that you have only to set before them a higher goal for them to concentrate upon its attainment the courage, the endurance, the devotion, which they have so often wasted to such trifling purpose. I can at any rate but express the hope that this sanguine estimate may be realised. A higher goal has now been set before them—the vindication of their liberty ; and certainly, of all the subject races of Turkey, none have better deserved to conquer it, for none have shown themselves more tenacious of its virtues.

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CHAPTER XV.

BACK TO ISTAMBOU L.

A few hours' sail over a narrow channel of the Adriatic brought me, as it were, into another world. From the harbour of Corfu my eyes wandered back to the mountains of Albania, so near and yet so far off, separated only by a few miles of sea, and yet divided off from the scenes around me by the immeasurable gulf of centuries. Everything about me was impressed with the mark of our modern civilisation, from the men-of-war in the roadstead, equipped with all the improved appliances of a deadly science, and the big steamers bearing the spoils of the East to the crowded markets of the West, down to the fussiness of the custom-house officials, the offensive obsequiousness of hotel touts and ciceroni, the excited squabbling of coffee-house

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