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230

APPEARANCE OF HAWKS AND STORKS.

parted on the road to Prevesa, where a ship was waiting in which he intended to embark for Alexandria. This man was very celebrated, and highly valued by his master for the astonishing journeys which he had performed in his service: he had the faculty of sleeping on horseback, which enabled him to make the greatest possible dispatch, since he never stopped longer than was necessary to take the refreshment of food. He was now sixty years old, and so anxious to make this grand composition for sin, and secure a safe entrance through the gate of Paradise, that no entreaties of friends, not even those of Ali himself, could divert him from his pilgrimage.

It was near the end of March before the germs of vegetation began to appear and serenity was restored to the atmosphere. The first harbingers of spring at Ioannina are innumerable Alights of small hawks, extremely beautiful in appearance, of a lighter colour, but about equal in size to the common sparrow-hawk : they come in such numbers that they may be seen upon every tree and every house of the city: no doubt this bird is sent by Providence for some useful purpose like its immediate successor the stork, which is called by way of eminence, the bird of Mahomet, and held so sacred in many parts of Turkey, that he who kills one is subjected to the severest penalties: this is not indeed the case at loannina, though even here its murderer is looked

upon

with an evil eye. Nothing can add more to the picturesque appearance of Turkish cities than the frequent occurrence of this majestic bird either standing upon a mosque with all the solemnity of an imaun, or seated like a moralist amidst the ruins of antiquity. The veneration paid to the stork however proceeds not so much from its appearance as its utility; it is furnished by nature with that long formidable bill for the destruction of serpents and other reptiles with which the country abounds. I have seen many desperate struggles in the air between these implacable combatants.

The weather now appearing settled and the snow partially dissolved, we became anxious to seize the earliest opportunity of making an ex

EXCURSION TO THE NORTH OF ALBANIA.

231

cursion into Albania for the purpose of viewing its noble scenery and becoming better acquainted with its singular inhabitants. Our first intens tion was to have visited the monasteries of Meteora on the eastern side of Pindus, from which we were diverted by the earnest representations of Mouchtar Pasha, who gave us a lamentable account of the ravages made in that district by the plague. But the North or Upper Albania lay open to our researches, and its banditti being dispersed from all the provinces subjected to the vizir's authority, every possible facility and accommodation was offered to the traveller.

On the 28th of March therefore at noon, one fortnight before the festival of Easter, we commenced our expedition, attended by Signore Nicolo, Antonietti, Demetrio, four suradgees, and Mustafà, armed with the plenipotential powers of his bouyourdee. In our first day's journey we advanced no further than to Zitza, which is four hours northwest of Ioannina, situated upon some turfy knolls so as to command a fine view of that mountainous region through which the Thyamis flows into the Thesprotian plains; those plains wherein it once imparted verdure and luxuriance to the groves of platani that sheltered the Amaltheum*. To their umbrageous shade the munificent Atticus retired a voluntary exile from the calamities of his country: there he endeavoured to forget his sorrows in the exercise of generous hospitality, in philosophical studies, and rural amusements, amidst scenery whose soft features were so congenial to the amenity of his own disposition, At the entrance of the village we passed a monastery on our left hand, situated in a tuft of fine trees upon a lovely eminence, and on the right a small serai belonging to the vizir, to which a granary is attached for containing the produce of his chiflick: throughout the whole of our route we constantly observed similar mementos of tyrannic power. Zitza contains about 150 houses, with four Greek churches : it is cele

.

* Cave putes Attici nostri Amaltheo, platanisque illis quidquam esse præclarius.

Cic. Proem. lib. ii. de Leg.

232

FALL OF THE KALAMAS, OR THYAMIS.

from grapes

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brated for a very excellent and fragrant species of white wine, made

which have been exposed for about three days to the sun, and which has a peculiar flavour from the absynthus employed in its preparation. We procured from the convent a copious supply of this nectar, in which Signore Nicolo indulged his genius so freely as to bring on certain symptoms of an incipient fever, which, in the course of a few days, prevented our having the benefit of his company during the rest of this excursion. Next morning we resumed our journey through an undulating tract of country covered with vineyards: at one hour's distance from Zitza we passed a beautiful cascade on the left hand, called the fall of Glizani, where the river Thyamis rolls over a rock about fifty feet in height and thirty in breadth, adorned on one side by a fine wooded knoll, and on the other by a picturesque watermill: the sun was shining brilliantly and a fine iris playing over the spray.

The

scenery down the valley of the Thyamis would probably afford ample gratification to the lovers of the picturesque: our route lay upwards in a more northerly direction, which brought us in about four hours to the lake of Tzarovina, which is said to be unfathomable, and seems as if it filled up the vacuum of an exhausted crater; its great depth gives a deep azure to the transparent water, whose gloom is increased by some trees and shrubs which bathe their branches in its margin. Tzarovina is the place which Ali Pasha first occupied in his advances against Ioannina, and here he has built a small serai and fortress, which is mounted by a few cannon : below the lake, near the channel of the Thyamis, his largest powder-mills are situated; but the article is wretchedly manufactured. Advancing about one hour further we turned suddenly to the right, up a very precipitous and magnificent glen, down which a small river flows into the Kalamas ; at this point of the road we met a company of Albanian soldiers escorting several French and Italian prisoners who had been taken in league with some brigands in Northern Albania. Antonietti entered into conversation with his countrymen, who did not much enjoy the prospect of an interview with

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the dreaded chieftain : as we did not hear of any punishment being inflicted upon these rogues,

it is very probable that he received them into his service. After proceeding about a quarter of a mile up the valley, we crossed it and ascended a steep hill towards the town of Delvinaki. Here we met a number of women returning from the toils of agriculture with hoes, spades, and other implements of husbandry in their hands : one poor creature had two infants tied in a kind of bag over her shoulders. Almost all the cultivation of the ground in this district is left to women, whilst the men are absent during greatest part of the year at Constantinople, Adrianople, Saloniki, and other large cities, where they carry on the trades of butchers and bakers. Many of these sun-burnt daughters of labour had very fine features, the place being noted for the beauty of its women: some of them accosted us with great frankness and were very inquisitive as to the objects of our journey, and the place from whence we came.

At the top of the hill we burst suddenly upon the town of Delvinaki, seated in a large circular coilon, around which nothing but bleak and barren rocks appear. It contains four churches and about 350 houses, built for the most part in a style of neatness and comfort: but at least a hundred were at this time uninhabited, owing to the cruel exactions .of Ali Pasha. He has long been desirous of converting the place into one of his detestable chiflicks, but has been constantly opposed in his endeavours by the inhabitants, who are equally desirous of retaining their independence: to subdue this spirit he has had recourse to the most oppressive avanias, and the most odious impositions, quartering several thousands of his Albanian troops for six months together upon the unfortunate district, and removing them only to introduce a fresh set and subject the inhabitants to greater misery. No resolution can withstand a force like this; and probably long before this time the miserable Delvinaki has sunk into insignificance. Its site has been by some mistaken for Nicæum, and for Omphalium by others who have been misled by its umbilical appearance; but after a diligent

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234

VIOLENT CONDUCT OF MUSTAFA.

investigation we could not discover a single trace of antiquity upon the spot. The only inscription we observed was one in modern Greek, carved upon the entrance of a new church and signifying that this sacred edifice had been erected in the year 1812, at the expense of the primates, in the reign of the high and mighty Ali Pasha.

At Delvinaki two principal roads branch off, one towards Delvino and Butrinto, in the direction of Corfu; the other towards the great plain of Argyro-Castro and the north of Albania. We took this latter, and enjoyed a superb prospect when we arrived at the highest point above Delvinaki, where the eye is carried down the vast chasm that we had passed the day before, and from thence over the extensive mountain scenery of the Kalamas.

After passing through a wild rugged country for one hour and a half north-west, we arrived at the han of XeroValto, or the dried marsh, where the process of drainage has been carried on to a considerable extent, and a large quantity of very productive land brought into a state of cultivation. Near this place I had a serious altercation with our kaivasi Mustafà. He had just discovered that a Greek lad by whom he was attended on the journey, had lost a small parcel containing a shawl which had been committed to his custody. Irritated at this accident he drew his ataghan and beat the poor fellow most unmercifully about the head and shoulders with the back part of it: this passed over, but in a short time the Turk’s rage suddenly broke out afresh like a smothered flame; he began to repeat the castigation with double fury upon the unfortunate offender, and would probably have soon proceeded to use the edge of his scymitar, had I not thought proper to interfere; but it was only by a threat of complaining to the vizir that he could be persuaded to remit his indignation..

Soon after this affair we entered into the magnificent and spacious valley of Deropuli, on the western side of which stands the large city of Argyro-Castro. This plain, as enchanting as any which Arcadia itself can boast, is watered by the river Druno, commonly mistaken for the

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