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VISIT TO THE RUINS OF GARDIKI.
plain beyond we observed a small village peopled by Suliots, who have been congregated together in this spot by the pasha's orders; it is thought he meditates to take some signal vengeance upon these unfortupate victims when he has got as many as possible within his grasp
Having crossed a deep ravine, which defended the city of Gardiki towards the south and east, we ascended up its steep hill by the winding narrow path which but a short time before led Ali's troops to victory. Upon a detached eminence on the right hand stood a small citadel, whose ruined walls present nothing worthy of notice: after inspecting them we entered at once into the mournful skeleton of Gardiki, “a peopled city made a desert place," where no living beings disturb the solitude, except serpents, owls, and bats. A chilling kind of sensation, like the fascination of some deadly spell, be numbs the senses, and almost stops the respiration of the traveller, who treads as it were, upon the prostrate corpse of a great city, just abandoned by the animating spirit. The feeling is far different from that which he experiences amidst the fine ruins of antiquity, whose aspect, mellowed down by time and unconnected with any terrible convul. sion, inspires only pleasing melancholy, or animating reflections : but here the frightful contrast of a recent and terrible overflow appals him; his heart sickens at the sight; and whilst the deep silence is broken only by the breeze which sighs around the ruins or amidst the funereal cypresses which here and there wave over them, he almost expects to meet a spectre at every step he takes.
Amidst these monuments of destruction we found our progress often barred by vast heaps of ruins; nor after an hour's ramble did we discover one habitation which had not suffered in the work of demolition; even the tombs were razed to their foundations, and the very mosques themselves had not escaped profanation; so duly had the vengeance of an implacable enemy been executed: one minaret alone peered out amidst surrounding masses, to the top of which we ascended, that we might contemplate the whole extent of this melancholy scene. From
hence we observed a solitary dervish stealing gently from the covert of some ruins at a distance. Probably the poor man had come, in spite of Ali's dire anathema, to live and die amidst the relics of this once populous city, to weep over the memory of former days, of friends departed, and connexions broken. Yet the heart of him who has thus rudely torn asunder all the bands of social life, glories in the dreadful deed of vengeance, the inemory of which, instead of festering like a canker in his bosom, seems rather a source of joy and exultation.
In our return down the fiumara we marked with surprise the immense quantity of sand and pebbles which a wintry torrent in these mountainous countries will carry down into the plain, overwhelming many acres of fine land at its mouth with the most unfruitful materials.
d' infeconda arena
Opposite, in the plain, we observed the deserted han of Valiarè, whose walls enclose the mouldering bones of the murdered Gardikiotes. The door is nailed up, over which an inscription openly testifies the bloody deed, and gives warning that a similar punishment awaits the wretch who shall dare to offer any dishonour to the family of Ali.
At about eleven miles from Argyro-Castro, and nine from Tepeleni, the great plain contracts itself into a narrow valley, where a good han appears, near a lofty bridge of a single arch, thrown across the Druno. Soon afterwards this valley becomes a narrow defile, compressing the bed of the river into a very narrow compass between its parallel ridges of mountains. At the distance of a mile from Tepeleni we passed that magnificent defile called anciently the Fauces Antigoneæ, where Philip was attacked by the Consul Flaminius, and where the rapid Voïussa, the Æas or Aöus of antiquity *, receives the
• Flumen Aous a quibusdam Æas appellatum.
Plin. N. H. lib. iii. c. 23.
RECEPTION AT THE GRAND SERAI OF TEPELENI.
tributary stream of the Druno between the opposite heights of Asnaus and Æropus: it flows from seven fountains on Mount Pindus, beneath the town of Mezzovo, and passing near the cities of Konitza, Ostanizza, Premeti, Klissura, and Tepeleni, falls into the Adriatic below the ruins of Apollonia.
The shades of evening almost hid Tepeleni from the view as we entered the town, where we were received into the grand seraglio, and accommodated with the best apartments : as soon as we were settled, the Albanian governor entered to offer his congratulations upon our arrival, bringing also those of the Sultana, with an intimation that her ladies were preparing to send us a dinner from the harem. We returned a proper acknowledgment of this unexpected favour, together with a letter which we had brought from Salee Bey to his mother : and to say the truth, nothing could exceed the civilities paid us during our stay by this unseen benefactress : we learned however that female curiosity prompted her to take a transient view of her guests, through a latticed window, as they passed into the great court of the seraglio. Our unexpected arrival obliged us to wait a considerable time for dinner, which was announced by musical instruments and brought in by a crowd of slaves and Albanian guards, who nearly filled the room, and stood around the table during the time of our repast : Ibrahim, the Albanian governor of the serai and town, dined with us, and paid due respect to the dainties of the harem : he was an intelligent man, full of conversation, and well acquainted with the early life of Ali, concerning whom he amused us with many interesting anecdotes ; for he remembered the vizir when he had not where to lay his head. He spoke to us also of his mother, whom he described as possessing all the martial qualities of an Amazon, with the spirit of a Laconian matron: he extolled the good qualities of Salee Bey, and appeared as if he entered into his master's projects respecting the future destiny of that youth. Thus the evening passed very agreeably till bed-time, when a party of slaves came into the room, bearing in their hands, and on their heads,
DESCRIPTION OF TEPELENI.
silken mattresses, rich coverlets of embroidered velvet, pillows of the same material, with a species of fine Constantinople gauze for sheets, and all the apparatus of bed-furniture, fit for princes in magnificence: δάπιδας και ποικίλα προσκεφάλαια. These articles were spread out upon
the sofas of the divan *, and we retired to the comfort of sleep, which requires not much wooing from those who have undergone the fatigues of travelling in this country: not even the novelty of the scene or the roughness of the sheets could long keep us awake. As soon however as we were laid out in state, the governor, with several other officers of the palace, came into the room under pretence of wishing us good night; butin reality to satisfy their curiosity regarding the mode in which Englishmen lie in bed. I observed them sneering a little at our effeminacy; their own custom being to throw off merely the upper garment and recline upon the cushions of the divan, with no covering but a thick paplona, and that only during the cold season. From this cause, and their great aversion to a change of linen, the hircinus odor attaches itself very strongly to Albanian society.
Next morning we took a view of the town, which is only interesting as the birth-place of the present ruler of Epirus. It stands upon the high bank of the Vosussa, which is here about as broad as the Thames at Kew, and like the Araxes indignant at a bridge: a very fine structure of this kind, which was thrown across it during the times of the Lower Empire, had been left in a ruinous state by the violence of the stream, and though the vizir expended 1500 purses in repairs, all his efforts were in vain ; pot quite two years before our visit, a dreadful inundation swept away the new works and left the old broken arches
* Had the season been more advanced, and the weather sultry, we should have requested to sleep in the portico, like the Ithacensian prince in the palace of Alcinous.
Κέκλετο δ' 'Aρήτη λευκώλενος αμφιπόλοισι
Od. n. 355.
in their former state of a picturesque ruin. A very handsome reward is still proposed by Ali to any engineer who shall enable him to defy the current. Tepeleni contains about 200 houses, with a population exclusively Albanian: it possesses no architectural beauties, if we except the grand seraglio which Ali has built upon the site of his paternal mansion. This is a very spacious edifice standing upon a fine rock at the edge of the cliff: I speak indeed of the seraglio which then was, for a new edifice has lately been erected upon the ruins of the former, which was accidentally burnt by fire in 1818. The account of this conflagration, which I received from an Albanian correspondent, is worthy of detail, since it tends strongly to illustrate the character of Ali, which these pages are intended principally to portray.
The mischief was occasioned either by the negligence of some attendants in the train of Salee Bey, who was at Tepeleni on a visit to his mother, or by a storm of thunder and lightning which occurred at the time. However this may be, about the middle of the night the whole palace was in flames. In the horror of the scene the Sultana, with all the other ladies of the harem, endeavoured to make their escape through the doors of the apartments, but were actually met and driven back again by the ataghans of the eunuchs appointed as their guards: these wretches would rather have seen them all fall a prey to the devouring element, than exposed to the lawless gaze of public curiosity: such is the force of Mahometan prejudice! in this extremity they let themselves down through the caséments of the windows which they broke and tore away for that purpose. Before morning scarce a vestige was left of that superb edifice which Ali had raised upon the residence of his forefathers. His
and fury were so dreaded, that it was thought proper at once to ascribe the cause of this misfortune to the effect of lightning, without hinting at the possibility of any other. As soon as he received intelligence of the misfortune he set off instantly, and scarcely rested day or night till he arrived at Tepeleni: there he felt some consolation when he found that the subterranean cham