« AnteriorContinuar »
citations. Happy, too, is Cavalla, insomuch that, save for its being the birthplace of Mehemet Ali, it has no history. But the memory of the great Egyptian ruler who once made the Padishah tremble on his throne still lives in Cavalla, and a spacious building with stately arcades and terraces marks the place where the first Khedive was born. Mehemet Ali—who, by the by, was of Albanian lineage—mindful in after-days of his native town, built and endowed this establishment, where, according to the founder's wishes, gratuitous instruction is still given to a certain number of Mussulman children, and where humble wayfarers of all creeds and races may obtain food and shelter during their sojourn in the town. As we steamed out of its peaceful little bay the shades of evening were slowly creeping over the quaint old town. But the warm sunlight still lingered on the neighbouring island of Thasos; and the long ridge of Mount Ipsario was flushed with gold, recalling the days when the Phænicians worked its goldmines, and Archilochus described it, in allusion to its wealth and shape, and perhaps also to the intelligence of its inhabitants, who allowed for
eigners to reap their treasures, as an ass’s backbone cased in gold. As we drew out into the open, the whole range of the Rhodope came again into view, the soft after-glow resting peacefully on the slopes and vales, which but a few years ago were lit up by the lurid glare of burning towns and villages. In the whole history of the last Turco - Russian war, there is no more thrilling chapter than that which records the long and heroic resistance offered by the Moslem populations of the Rhodope to the advance of the victorious Russians. The Treaty of San Stefano had been signed, and the Rhodope was included in the area given up to the tender mercies of the Russian army of occupation. But its inhabitants knew too well what they had to expect at its hands: the thousands and tens of thousands of miserable refugees from Bulgaria and Roumelia who had fled at the Cossack's approach to its mountain fastnesses, had too often told the same harrowing tales of wanton outrage and burning homesteads. Abandoned to their fate by the rulers of Constantinople, without either the materials or the sinews of war, they resolved at least to die in defence of their homes. A
few foreign enthusiasts came to give them their help in organising their resistance; and for five months this half-armed mob of peasantry kept the victorious armies of the Czar at bay. Now and then the Cossacks made a successful raid into their mountains, carrying fire and sword into the unfortunate villages ; but the Russians, repulsed in one or two important engagements, failed to make good their foothold. Fearing to risk their laurels in a desperate, and, to them, barren struggle, and dreading the political consequences which it might have involved, they contented themselves with blockading the socalled insurgents in their mountain fastnesses ; and the Rhodope, surrounded on all sides by Russians, remained untrodden by their soldiery, like a solitary island, against which the waves of invasion beat up in vain.
Midnight brought us up under the lee of the Holy Mountain, and the lofty cone of Mount Athos towered white and ghostly above us, rising abruptly from the sea to a height of over 6000 feet. In the morning we were fairly in the Gulf of Salonica; and to the west, on the distant shores of Thessaly, the Cloud-compeller looked down upon us from the dome - shaped summits of Olympus, where he sits in majestic exile awaiting the day when the Conference of Berlin and the concert of the Powers shall restore him to his chosen people.
A day at Salonica, the true Jerusalem on the sea—where 40,000 Hebrews, descendants of one of the many batches of unfortunate Jews expelled from Spain at the behest of the Grand Inquisitor, still assert by their Spanish idiom and Hebrew type the exclusive purity of the Semitic race--and at last, on the fifth morning after leaving Constantinople, the good steamship Apis rounds the jagged spur which Pelion projects like a huge claw across the mouth of the Gulf of Volo. Encircled by bleak and lofty mountains and steep cliffs, which only fall away towards the north-west to allow access to the plains of Thessaly, the gulf is sheltered like a lake from the winter storms which have made the Ægean famosum tempestate mare ; though now and again impetuous squalls rush down the mountain gullies and lash its deep-blue waters into transient fury, to the discomfiture of the puny native craft. Presently the town of Volo
itself comes into sight, stretching in a long white line round the head of a small creek-like bay at the most northern end of the gulf. A considerable Turkish squadron — two ironclads, a corvette, and a couple of despatch - boats — lie at anchor before it, watching sullenly over the town which is soon to be wrested from their grip. Perched up aloft against the barren mountain-side, some 1500 feet above the town, are the villages of Macrinitza and Portaria, famous for the desperate stand which they made against the Turkish troops during the short-lived insurrection of 1878. Since then the Turks have constructed earth works on the crest of the hills above them, and they are virtually at the mercy of those batteries.
Volo, like many Turkish towns along the basin of the Mediterranean, is really composed of two distinct towns—the old Turkish and the modern Christian town. The old town of Volo lies north, at the head of the bay. Inside a ruinous fortress, where a few obsolete cannon still peep over the tumble - down walls, there is a Turkish bazaar, some barracks, and perhaps a hundred houses, almost entirely tenanted by