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CHAPTER III.

Shooting Excursion with Mouchtar Pasha upon the Lake-Dinner on

the IslandInvitation to a grand Entertainment by the Vizir-Description of it_Visits from the chief Greeks of Ioannina-Signore Alessio, the Governor of Zagori-Visit of Ceremony to the Vizir His Skill in GeographyShooting on the Lake -- Thalassopuli— Police of IoanninaReview of Albanian Troops by the Vizir-Our general Manner of Living-Manners and Customs of the GreeksMarriage Procession of one of Ali Pasha's Concubines—-Ali's Harem-His Court and Officers.

THE

day after Signore Melas's marriage feast, we received an invitation at about nine o'clock A. M. to accompany Mouchtar Pasha in a grand shooting excursion upon the lake. We lost no time in preparing our fowling pieces, and descended to the quay accompanied by Signore Nicolo and his brother Giovanni, where we found two caiques waiting for us by the Pasha's orders : all the others belonging to Ioannina, amounting to more than 100, were engaged for the sport. We observed them already moving towards the southern extremity of the lake like a Lilliputian fleet, and our boatmen redoubling their efforts, we soon overtook them. Each caique, besides the rower, contained one or more sportsmen, with as many guns as they could collect. For a considerable distance the squadron moved forward in a strait line, driving before it myriads of wild fowl of every species, until at length the boats at the extremities shot a-head, and formed a curvilinear line, enclosing a large space of water. As this circle narrowed itself, the birds confined within began to rise in dark masses

46

SHOOTING EXCURSION WITH MOUCHTAR PASHA.

like clouds, and to fly over our heads. Then the firing commenced from one extremity of the line to the other, and continued about ten minutes or a quarter of an hour, until the surface of the water was literally strewed with wild-fowl. We were stationed near the centre of this circle, close to the Pasha, who had about twenty guns in his boat, with one of his Albanians to load them as quick as they were discharged. He is an excellent shot, and very rarely missed his bird; it is said that he can shoot a hare when he is on horseback at full gallop, but this feat we never witnessed: if practice however can make perfect, he ought to be the best marksman in Albania. Some of his guns were of a great length, and he was so surprised at seeing me bring down a bird at a long shot with a very short fowling piece, that he requested me to send it for his inspection into the caique. After the sportsmen had picked up their game, the squadron was again set in motion, to pursue the wild fowl who had retreated to a different part of the lake: the scene was exceedingly beautiful, for the sun shone brilliantly, and the snow-capt mountains, with the convents villages and cypress groves upon the banks, were finely reflected in the transparent water : the firing from the boats had the effect of a naval engagement in miniature, the echoes of the musketry being increased and prolonged amidst the folds of the surrounding hills : hundreds of eagles and vultures flying around the shores of the lake, flapping their enormous wings, and screaming as it were with delight in the prospect of their prey, added much to the grandeur of the scene. After we had been thus engaged about four hours, the vizir himself made his appearance in his state barge, but did not join in the sport ; soon afterwards the wind began to rise, and occasioned rather a heavy swell ; the signal was then given for dispersion, and the caiques all hastened with their loads towards the city. Mouchtar however had prepared a dinner at the house of one of his retainers on the island, of which he invited us to partake : accordingly we landed at the village, and found very excellent fare provided in a house remarkable for its extreme neat

SHOOTING EXCURSION WITH MOUCHTAR PASHA.

47

ness and cleanliness. We were placed on each side the Pasha at the corner of the divan, whilst two Albanian officers and Signore Nicolo, who was honoured with an invitation, knelt upon the floor, to bring their mouths on a level with the little round table, or tin tray, upon which the provisions were laid. My friend and myself alone had plates, and we all helped ourselves without reserve by means of our fingers from the same dish, except that now and then the Pasha and his guests, for the sake of compliment, dabbed a few handfuls of a mess upon our plates. A young Albanian Ganymede, with flowing hair and embroidered apparel, stood behind Mouchtar, with a pitcher of wine and goblet, from which he helped his master and the rest of the party: our fare was pilau, excellent ragouts, fish boiled and fried, fowls and pastry, to the number of about thirty dishes. Soon after we had dispatched our meal, we left the pasha to the enjoyment of bis siesta and strolled about the village; whose neat comfortable mansions and clean streets, as well as the orderly behaviour and industrious habits of the people, put to shame all other places wbich we visited in this country. Passing by a decent church we came into a pretty square, where we observed several stone seats, in which the old men of the village sit hasking in the evening sun, after their daily labours, and witness the sports and enjoyments of the youth*. I never observed a greater appearance of contentment and happiness than among this people; it is so favourite a place of resort to Mouchtar, and so useful to him in the pursuit of bis sport, that he governs it not only with mildness, but with great partiality. From the village we wandered over the island, delighted with the fine prospects which its eminences afford, and on returning to the house took coffee and smoked several pipes with the pasha before we separated. As the night was fine and clear, Mouchtar, who is insatiable in all amusements, ordered his

* Upon mentioning this circumstance to a learned friend, he suggested that it was a good commentary upon a passage of the Medea :

Πεσσάς προσελθών ένθα δή παλαίτατοι
θασανσι σεμνόν αμφί Πειρήνης ύδωρ. .

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GRAND ENTERTAINMENT BY THE VIZIR.

caique to row towards the upper lake, where he intended to spend some hours in shooting: we bent our course towards the city, listening to the songs of the Albanian boatmen, and viewing the reflection of the lights from the castron in the rippling surface of the water. For several days after this excursion we were nearly confined to the house by continual rain, though the time was in some measure lightened by the society of Mr. Foresti and Mr. Pouqueville, and by occasional visits from the friends and connexions of our host.

February 10th.—On this day we received a compliment which we little expected, and for which we were indebted to the kind intercession of Mr. Foresti : it was an invitation from Ali Pasha to accompany him to a splendid feast given at the house of Signore Alessio and to dine at his own table : to this honour he had never before admitted any foreigner, of the highest distinction, except the present Lord Guilford: even Sir John Stuart, and General Airey governor of the Ionian Isles, though invited to a dinner, were seated at different tables apart from the vizir. We received intimation of the honour awaiting us just after we had finished our own dinner, but we willingly took the chance of death by a surfeit, for the satisfaction of dining with Ali Pasha. We bad scarcely time to array ourselves in our best apparel before one of the chaoushes was at the door to precede us through the streets, and we set out accompanied by our host.

All the approaches to Signore Alessio's mansion, as well as the court and galleries, were crowded with Albanian guards and others in the pasha's train. The rooms were brilliantly lighted up, and the clang of cymbals, drums, and Turkish instruments of music, denoted the presence of a potentate. We stopped for a short time in a large ante-room, where the vizir's band was playing to a troop of dancing boys, dressed in the most effeminate manner, with flowing petticoats of crimson silk, and silver-clasped zones around the waist: they were revolving in one giddy and interminable circle, twisting their pliant bodies into the most contorted figures, and using the most lascivious gestures, throwing about their arms and heads like infuriated Baccha

GRAND ENTERTAINMENT BY THE VIZIR.

49

nals, and sometimes bending back their bodies till their long hair actually swept the ground, illustrating thereby a distich of Claudian which has not unfrequently been misunderstood by his commen

tators.

Quis melius vibrata puer vertigine molli
Membra rotet ? verrat quis marmora crine supino ?

In Eutrop. ii. 359.

Another Latin poet describes these dances so accurately, that I cannot forbear quoting the lines.

Juvat et vago rotatu
Dare fracta membra ludo,
Simulare vel trementes
Pede, veste, voce Bacchas.

As we entered into the banqueting room we observed the vizir seated as usual, at a corner of the divan, upon cushions of rich silk. Next to him sate a Turkish nobleman, named Mazout Effendi, one of the most venerable men I ever beheld, with a long white beard hanging over his breast, that exceeded even the vizir's by at least six inches : this old gentleman lived at Constantinople, but generally came to spend a few months in the year with Ali, being a vast favourite on account of his convivial propensities. Below Mazout sate the Archbishop of Ioannina, with the two epitropi or Greek primates; so that the whole party, with ourselves, made up seven, the exact number of the Platonic symposium. Signore Alessio, the owner of the mansion, coming out from the midst of a crowd of Greeks who stood at the lower end of the divan, advanced with us towards the pasha, who received us with every mark of civility, and motioned us to sit down upon the sofa at his right hand. He then ordered Signore Psalida to act as interpreter, who came up with a face decked in smiles and reverently kissed the hem of his master's garment, in token of submission to his commands. Ali was evidently in extreme good humour,

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