« AnteriorContinuar »
kiosk built by the late Abdi Pasha on the banks of the small lake of Petersgrad, we paid a visit to the large Bulgarian chiftlik, where the eccentric old Turk used to come down every year and superintend, with much joyous carousing, the making of his wines. Ten gigantic casks, each holding 1000 okes of wine, were annually filled with the best vintages for the use of his own house. Over the crest of a low range of hills, we at last began to descend into the plain of Monastir; but though the lofty peak of Mount Peristeri marked the spot where the city lay, the day was too far advanced for us to reach it before nightfall. So, winding along the spurs of the eastern chain of mountains which flank the plain, we brought up for the night at the pretty little village of Raduwicz, the property of the three Albanian brothers whose hospitality we had already enjoyed at Pyrgos after our second day's journey. Raduwicz occupies, according to local tradition, the site of an ancient Greek town; but besides the fact that there never can have been room for a town in the narrow valley where it lies, cramped up between two spurs of Mount Nidje, no place of importance appears to be mentioned
in this locality. Possibly the tradition has been invented to enhance the value of one or two Greek relics which have been unearthed by the villagers. The headman of Raduwicz insisted that I should see the anticas. No European had ever yet visited Raduwicz, and I was therefore bound to give my opinion on them. So I trudged with my guide up the hillside to a small Bulgarian church, where I was shown a stone let into the pavement, which bore a Greek inscription. It was, however, so worn by the long traffic of pious feet, that I was quite unable to decipher it; but I saw that the stone had been considerably mutilated in order to fit it into its place. A fossil papas, who was kind enough to try and throw some light on the subject by holding the altar lamp over me, assured me that it was an excellent stone for exorcising evil spirits, but that it was useless to attempt to read the inscription, as it was written in the devil's language. So I retired. The other antica was a medallion let into the wall of a farmyard, showing the heads of two youths in relief, with the fragmentary inscription tov κυκυλλου; but the marksmen of Raduwicz had
evidently selected the unoffending youths as a target, and their faces were so disfigured that it was impossible to judge of the artistic value of the workmanship.
Only a faint streak of light over the eastern hills heralded the approach of day as we set out the next morning to complete the last étape of our journey; but the sun was already high in the heavens before we reached the imperial road, which leads, or ought to lead, were it only completed in the middle, from Salonica to Monastir, and following the broad avenue of poplars, soon found ourselves in the large square of stately barracks which mount guard over the entrance to the city.
A PRETTY little city is Monastir. At the foot of the defile which leads from Macedonia into central Albania, backed by bold and lofty mountains already capped with winter snows, it lies half buried amid foliage in an emerald-green valley ; . graceful domes and minarets, stately barracks, and clusters of bright white houses, hedged in with dark-green walnut-trees and glistening silver poplars and orchards rich with all the varied hues of autumn, while bubbling streams fresh from their alpine homes leap merrily through its sunny streets and picturesque bazaars. In its crowded thoroughfares may be met all the motley costumes of European Turkey,—the fair-haired Bulgarian enveloped in his shapeless grey cloak and hood, the
gaunt slouching Wallach shepherd in his grimy fustanella, the proud Albanian highlander bristling with pistols and daggers, the squalid Iberian Jew, the sharp-eyed Greek merchant in seedy European clothes, the solemn beturbaned Turk in flowing kaftan; for Monastir-or, as the Christian prefers to call it, Bitolia—is the meetingpoint of many nations. As on most Macedonian cities, the curse of many tongues, and many races, and many creeds, has fallen heavily upon it. With a population which certainly does not exceed 35,000 souls, and which some put down at little over 25,000, it boasts nearly a dozen different communities, with separate aspirations, separate interests, and separate hatreds. There are Bulgarians who speak Bulgarian, and have joined the Bulgarian schism; there are Bulgarians who speak Bulgarian and share the political aspirations of the schismatics, but have not yet thrown off their allegiance to the Greek Patriarchate ; finally, there are Bulgarians who have been so far Hellenised as to speak the Greek tongue in preference to their own, and profess the Hellenic creed, both religious and political—but their number is small, and daily