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evoke certain virtues, is a lower state than health, and the poet who devotes himself to celebrate acts of war, although his art may be redeemed if he can reveal the soul of good in things evil, does nevertheless choose a lower region when he might inhabit a higher. A Christian poet may pass through scenes of war, but it must be like Dante through Hell, on his way to Paradise. The loftiest poets have instinctively felt that their true and eternal business is to express, not the darkness of the world, but the manifestations of love and wisdom.
Art. III.—1. La Situation en Epire, memoire adresse a, la Commission des Ambassades d'Angleterre, d'Autriche et d'Allemagne a Constantinople. Athens: P. D. Sakellarios. 1900.
2. Proclamation of the Albanian League at Athens to the Brethren in Albania. Athens: Anaplasis. 1899.
't^ueket, like an examination paper on mathematics, is a list of problems all waiting for solution. To the Armenian and the Macedonian, already painfully familiar to every newspaper reader, have of late years been added the Syrian, the Samian, the Tripolitan, the Arabian, and the Albanian questions, differing from each other in degree of gravity and urgency, as well as in the number and nature of the factors involved. In a previous issue of the 'Edinburgh 'Review' • we have dealt with one of these questions. It is our purpose to give here a summary of another no less interesting and equally complex problem. This is the problem known to the student of Near East politics as the Albanian Question.
Albania, from one point of view, may be described as the Armenia of Turkey in Europe. Like that unhappy province, it is a district seamed with mountain ranges, which afford a safe retreat to a highland population chiefly subsisting by the robbery of their lowland and less warlike neighbours. It is also a district inhabited partly by Christians and partly by Mohammedans, two elements which ever live on terms resembling the relations prevalent between the feline and the canine species of brute creation. But here the similarity ends. The Albanians, be they Christian or Mohammedan, both are sections of one and the same stock, both share the same racial attachment to liberty, and both show an equal capacity for preserving it. Their feuds are family affairs, and, like most people engaged in domestic disputes, the Albanians resent nothing more bitterly than interference on the part of outsiders. Whatever the differences which separate the two elements may be, there is one point on which they both agree—namely, a distrust of and contempt for the Turk, to whom they apply an opprobrious and untranslatable nickname.
Indeed, Albania can hardly be considered a portion of the Ottoman Empire in the same sense as Macedonia or Armenia.
* 'The Macedonian Problem and its Factors,' October 1901.
Though conquered, it has never been subdued. Nominally consisting of two vilayets, that of Skutari in the north and that of Jannina in the south, with portions of the vilayets of Monastir and Kossovo on the east, it really is a conglomeration of clans to all intents and purposes independent of one another and of all central authority—independence meaning less autonomous administration, or, for that matter, any kind of administration, than the privilege of waging war against each other, plundering their neighbours and abducting their daughters. This is the only form of freedom for which the average Albanian really cares, and he generally succeeds in enjoying it. The Porte in older days tried repeatedly to confirm its grip on the province. The suppression of Ali Pasha, the famous satrap of Epirus, in 1822, and the coup ever since known as the massacre of the Beys at Monastir, in 1830, had the same object in view. A later attempt to enforce conscription in Albania led to the insurrection both of north and south, in 1846. But those and similar attempts, though comparatively successful in the south, have never produced any lasting result in the north of the province. The North Albanian of the present day, like his forefathers of the remotest period of which there is any faint record in history, recognises no other rule than that of the chief of his phara or clan. This regime the Ottoman conqueror was compelled to sanction, and, since the nominal subjugation of Albania in the fifteenth century, the heads of clans have been known by the title of hereditary Beys.
Turkish authority, such as it is, is exercised through the medium of these tribal chiefs, and the Porte, whenever it meditates the introduction of any legislative novelty, is extremely anxious to conciliate them and to secure their good will and support by means of presents and promises. Even normal taxation cannot be enforced except through the Beys. The amount to be levied depends entirely on their approval, and is collected through their instrumentality. It is obvious that the Beys will never lend their countenance to any measure which is likely to affect their own privileges and purses, and accordingly two of the main sources of Turkish revenue, the Public Debt imposts and the Tobacco Monopoly, are institutions unheard of in Albania. The only tribute which the Beys are occasionally inclined to pay, and that as a voluntary contribution rather than as a matter of obligation, is the cattle tax (djeleb). Again, in matters judicial no Albanian charged with a capital offence is amenable to Ottoman justice. Such cases are tried by the tribe council of notables or elders, presided over by the tribal chief. Besides these permanent councils, there is a kind of general assembly in which every family is represented, and which meets periodically in spring and autumn for the discussion and settlement of questions of high import, chiefly concerning the foreign policy of the clan, that is, its relations with its neighbours. The subject most frequently under debate in these popular assemblies is the commencement or the cessation of a tribal blood feud.
Conscription is also carried on through the good offices of the Beys. The Albanians as a race have never recognised the Sultan's right to press them into the service. Yet, whenever the levying of troops is deemed necessary, the Sultan has only to appeal to the Beys, and a number of volunteers, as undisciplined and turbulent as they are brave, are ready to enlist under the imperial standard—drawn thither by the prospect of plunder. For long ages Albania has been the nursery of Mohammedan soldiers, a reserve from which the Sultans have always drawn the bravest defenders of the Crescent. Among the Turks themselves it is generally admitted that the blood of the Albanians has done much to cement the throne of the Osmanlis. To quote the pamphlet mentioned second at the head of this article: 'We Albanians have ever been the pillars of Turkey. Our 'bones are to be found scattered over Hungary, Roumania, 'Servia, Montenegro, and the Crimea; through Greece, 'Persia, Arabia, to the confines of India'—a statement which is more than a vain boast. These irregular troops, however, not unfrequently prove as dangerous to their own allies as to the enemy, and during the last Graeco-Turkish war Edhem Pasha, the Commander-in-chief, was only too glad to get rid of them at all hazards.
The relative importance of the patriarchal chiefs in question depends not, as that of the patriarchs of old did, upon the magnitude of their herds and flocks, but as in mediaeval Europe each baron's strength was estimated by the number of bows which he could put into the field, so the Albanian Bey's power is measured by the number of Martinis at his command. These weapons, when not required for imperial purposes, are employed in the conduct of the civil strife which constitutes the normal state of affairs in the interior of the country. The Albanian is a bred and born fighter, and, like the pickpocket who, in default of another victim, used to keep his fingers in training by practising on himself, when hard up for a foe he will gladly pick a quarrel with his nextdoor neighbour. So general is this rule that the cessation of hostilities is emphasised by the term 'peace,' or rather 'truce' (bessa), which in Albania is a synonym for ordinary friendship. There is hardly any clan, great or small, that has not a feud with some other clan. Some of these quarrels are of modern growth; others are of so long a standing that their origin is all but lost in the mists of immemorial antiquity. But though the cause may be forgotten, the quarrel continues as a matter of habit or tradition. Feuds are handed down in the aristocratic odjaks of Albania by one generation to the next, as games of chess are said to be handed down in the great families of Spain.
These feuds generally originate in the murder of some member of a clan. The rest of the clan consider themselves in honour bound to avenge the crime by 'taking 'back blood'—that is, by murdering the individual who shed their own friend's blood, or his next-of-kin. The task of vengeance is religiously transmitted from father to son in a direct line, and the nearest relative of the deceased is looked upon as dishonoured until he has performed it. On the other hand, the accomplishment of the sacred duty is celebrated by great festivities and boisterous rejoicings, and the avenger is lionised as befits the man who has saved the prestige of the odjak. The Turkish authorities do their clumsy best to suppress the vendetta, and the prisons are crammed with persons guilty of murder. But the fear of imprisonment has never yet deterred a true Albanian from 'taking blood.' In so doing he considers himself as acting in obedience to a time-honoured clan code, in comparison with which State legislation counts as a thing of yesterday. Moreover, the satisfaction which he experiences in carrying out the behests of this gw<m-divine law makes all other considerations sink into insignificance. How deeply rooted is the conviction in the sacredness of the duty of revenge is shown by the Albanian's every-day conversation: 'I have a 'blood-feud (gyah) on, sir,' was an Albanian heard to say a short time ago. 'If I kill him now, well and good. If I 'miss him, and am arrested, I shall get, say, fifteen years. 'The Sultan is certain to let me off five. Very well, ten 'years hence I shall be set at liberty, and then, if he still is 'in the land of the living, I will kill him. If he is dead, I 'will kill his son or brother, please God (issha'llah)!'
The speaker was a mere humble retainer, but his point of view is exactly the same as that of any Albanian, no matter