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The New York Times, Februrary 26, 1881, p.3:



    ANTIVARI [BAR], Montenegro, Jan. 26.—The good swords of the Black Mountaineers have at last cut their way back to the sea, from which they were unjustly excluded by England and Austria in 1815, and Montenegro once more possesses sea-ports of her own. The smooth, sheltered roadstead, contrasting so markedly with the foaming breakers that are gnashing and tearing upon the reefs outside, is the bay of Antivari, and high up among these bare, craggy ridges, upon which there is no sign of life save a few scattered sheep, nestles the quaint little hawk's nest of a town which set all Europe quarreling three years ago.

    Yonder sloping headland, which is dimly visible far away to the south, marks another spot to which recent events have given a similar but even wider notoriety, viz.: the town and harbor of Dulcigno [Ulcinj]. Behind these stern, gray hills that loom sullenly along the eastern sky lies the far-famed lake of Scutari, whose shores, but a few short months ago, were echoing with the tramp of thousands of Albanian warriors, mustering in hot haste for their expected grapple with the hated Montenegrin.

    Further to the south-east, again, only a few hours ride from the spot where I write, stands, at the southern extremity of its namesake lake, the town of Scutari [Shkodër] itself, where the English and Turkish delegates—glad no doubt to be snugly housed, this pouring weather, behind the walls of the English consulate—are hard at work upon the anything but easy task of adjusting the "boundary question" between Turkey and Montenegro.
    In a word, this whole district bristles with historical memories, and one has not far to look for the men to whose deeds of daring those memories owe all their lustre.

    Over the narrow break-neck path that winds along the face of these spray-lashed cliffs come, with the elastic stride of the genuine mountain warrior, three stalwart Montenegrins, rifle on shoulder and knife in belt. As I watch them, the foremost suddenly unslings his gun, brings down a passing bird almost without taking aim, and has his game in his pouch and his rifle across his shoulders again in less time than it takes to relate it. With such a sight before one's eyes it is easy to understand how these bold guerrillas have held their own against the Ottoman deluge which has submerged all their brethren.
    Nevertheless, one may see by the huge black sheepskin cloaks which envelop them from shoulder to knee that even they own the existence of one enemy against whose wrath they deem it worth while to protect themselves. For to-day the terrible "Bora" is howling through the mountain gorges, bringing with it all the merciless cold of the north; and woe to any one who should dare to face its icy breath undefended!

    This is Montenegro, the Switzerland of Eastern Europe, which, like its Alpine counterpart, has been for ages past the Ararat whereon the ark of liberty has rested, while all below was engulfed by a tyranny to which no words can do justice. In this little rock islet of savage independence all the distinctive features of ancient Slavonian nationality survive unchanged. It is the fifteenth century intrenched amid the nineteenth. Still, as in the days when the Cross looked down from St. Sophia's upon a Christian Constantinople, the Montenegrin women toll up the mountain paths under burdens which their lords disdain to bear, and follow the warriors into battle with ammunition of which they themselves well know the use.

    The lightest word of their Prince, "the father of the tribe," is still law to these wild men, who scorn all other authority. The old Slavonian love of gay colors and warlike splendor, which taught the Russian to make "bright scarlet" the synonym for "perfectly beautiful" still asserts itself in the Montenegrin warrior's spotless tunic, blue pantaloons, and trim white leggings; his crimson vest, with its showy gilt edges; his flat scarlet cap, with its dark-blue border, and the scrupulous brightness of his pistols and dagger.
    All marriages are still made by the reigning sovereign, from whose decision there is no appeal. Matrimonial etiquette requires the Montenegrin bridegroom, immediately after the ceremony, to take back his bride to her father's house, and start on a honeymoon trip by himself.

    Every passer-by, man or woman, greets you with a courteous salute, and the hearty "Dobra vstretcha", (a good meeting,) used by their forefathers ages ago. Every one of these fine-looking fellows, who make way for you so politely at a difficult turn of one of the break neck mountain paths, has probably killed an enemy in battle or cut off the ears and nose of at least one Turk, a practice once universal in Montenegro, till Prince Nikita [Nikola I Mirkov Petrović-Njegoš], to his eternal honor, declared against it.

    The little crosses of stone that crop up here and there through the snow of the higher ridges, the queer little pictures of saints niched in the mouldering walls by the roadside, the simple prayers carved upon the tombstones, which the storms of this grim region are fast wearing away, are unchanged in every point from what they were in the days when Welsh and Scottish Princes were making forays into England, and when America still lay hid beyond unknown seas.
    The strapping mountaineer who carries your valise, the nimble, black-eyed lad who pilots you through the street of an upland town, the brown-mantled shepherd watching his flock among the gray boulders far up the mountain side, all wear pistol or dagger, and not unfrequently both, while their silver mountings and embossed hilts show the barbaric love of the pomp and glitter of war which is so conspicuous in the Circassian and the Afghan.

    CASTEL-NUOVO [HERCEG NOVI], Dalmatia, Jan. 27.—When Europe gets tired of going up Mont Blanc and eating macaroni at Naples, and begins to feel the want of a new country to spoil, it cannot do better than establish a hotel or two among the rocks of Dalmatia, and enjoy in all its fullness the free life and grand mountain scenery of "Austria's training school." [image]
    Whether as a first-class nursery of seamen, or as the only avenue of communication with that sea which Italy is so anxious to close to her, this quaint little nook of ancient Slavonia is indeed as invaluable to Austria as it once was to Venice, although no one who has looked with an uninstructed eye at its endless ranges of bare, stony hills would be likely to think it worth fighting for.

    When I ascended Hecla on my way through Iceland in 1874, the first thing I found on the edge of the crater was a copy of the London Times, with the remains of a beef sandwich inside it. Almost equally incongruous is the sight of a telegraph wire running upward amid these stern gray cliffs and frowning precipices, upon which desolation has set its seal once and forever. It is, however, precisely this strange mingling of European civilization with the grim Old World barbarism that lingers far overhead amid the rocks of Albania and Montenegro which makes Dalmatia the matchlessly picturesque region that it is.

    A well-appointed Austrian steamer comes gliding up the harbor, and the first thing you see upon her deck is a group of gaunt, wild-eyed Mohammedan pilgrims on their return from Mecca, in long parti-colored robes and soiled white turbans, who appear to be playing an animated game of "hunt the slipper" upon their little square carpets to the accompaniment of a low, monotonous chant.
    Scrambling among the rolling stones and gravelly torrent beds of the bare mountain side, you come out suddenly upon a broad, well-beaten road, marked with neat milestones, along which a train of artillery might pass with perfect ease. You seat yourself against a telegraph pole to sketch a trim little mountain battery, and suddenly find yourself surrounded by half a dozen big brown-cheeked Albanian lasses, (in a blaze of blue and scarlet, contrasting strangely enough with their white nun-like hoods,) who crowd about you with the simple confidence of a child or a savage, and overhaul unceremoniously everything that excites their curiousity, from your revolver down to your pencil.

    Sitting at a table in front of a neat café, with a newspaper before you, you are roused by a sharp metallic clank to behold a mountain warrior from the border of Herzegovina, a full head taller than yourself, taking his place beside you, and arranging in his crimson sash three or four pistols almost as long as an ordinary musket. You meditate a tour among the hills, and forthwith three or four sturdy native women in white tunics, with their hard, sunburned faces framed in black kerchiefs, step forward as candidates for the honor of carrying your entire kit some 12 or 15 miles for a franc and a half! (30 cents,)
    In fact the whole country is a perpetual surprise. From the brow of a sheer precipice of several hundred feet you look right down upon a cluster of red-tiled cottages nestling around a tiny church, on the very edge of the water, and you begin to wonder whether they have slid down the cliff or washed up by the sea, and to recall teh American mountain hamlet where "they had to rope their houses to the trees for fear they'd slip down into the river."

    You glide through the Strait of Castel-Nuovo into the calm, clear waters of Teodo Bay, now silent and peaceful as if no iron-clad squadron had so lately disturbed its repose; and still, as you wind among the vast bastions of dark-gray cliff, bay after bay and town after town opens before you in a perpetual game of hide-and-seek. At length you reach the inmost recess of the bay and see Cattaro [Kotor] sleeping in the mighty shadow of the Black Mountain, when, lo! as you surmount the nearest ridge in quest of a view, instead of finding yourself far inland, you look down into the open sea once more.

    Nor is Castel-Nuovo itself the least picturesque feature of this wonderful panorama. All up and down the huge dark-green slope that forms the inner face of the King bay, houses are scattered broadcast, as if dropped in sport by some boy giant—here a small white church seems to have sprung up on a rock to look about it; there half a dozen tiny cottages burrow in the dark gray ruins of an ancient castle.
    From the carved balcony of this old Venetian mansion, whose grim stone faces scowl fiercely at the insult, half a dozen ragged shirts flutter on a clothes-line, and two smart new forts, whence shouting soldiers and barking dogs scamper along the cliff to greet every passing steam-boat, sentinel the narrow passage through which the Illyrian pirates once stole out to kidnap young Julius Caesar.

    But I must cut short my description to prepare for to-morrow's ascent to Cettinje [Cetinje, Цетиње].
[unsigned, but clearly written by DAVID KER]

The New York Times, Februrary 27, 1881, p.10:



    CETTINJE, Montenegro, Jan. 29.—At last I am in the capital of the Black Mountaineers, although there is certainly as little as can be imagined of the "metropolis aspect" in the appearance of this quiet little mountain village, in the one street of which the snow lies ankle deep.
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Montenegro: The use of the name Montenegro began in the 15th century when the Crnojevic dynasty began to rule the Serbian principality of Zeta; over subsequent centuries Montenegro was able to maintain its independence from the Ottoman Empire. From the 16th to 19th centuries, Montenegro became a theocracy ruled by a series of bishop princes; in 1852, it was transformed into a secular principality.

    After World War I, Montenegro was absorbed by the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, which became the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929; at the conclusion of World War II, it became a constituent republic of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. When the latter dissolved in 1992, Montenegro federated with Serbia, first as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and, after 2003, in a looser union of Serbia and Montenegro.

    In May 2006, Montenegro invoked its right under the Constitutional Charter of Serbia and Montenegro to hold a referendum on independence from the state union. The vote for severing ties with Serbia exceeded 55% - the threshold set by the EU - allowing Montenegro to formally declare its independence on 3 June 2006.
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Area of Montenegro: 13,812 sq km

Population of Montenegro: 672,180
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Serbian 63.6%, Montenegrin (official) 22%, Bosnian 5.5%, Albanian 5.3%, unspecified 3.7% (2003 census)

Montenegro Capital: Podgorica

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  Free Books on Montenegro (.pdfs)

The Land of the Black Mountain Wyon 1905
The Balkans Miller 1899
Dalmatia... with Cettigne in Montenegro Jackson 1887
Montenegro: Its People and Their History Denton 1877
Travels in the Slavonic Provinces Mackenzie 1877
Rambles in Istria, Dalmatia and Montenegro RHR 1875
Dalmatia and Montenegro Wilkinson 1848

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The Embassy of Montenegro has no web site as of this writing, but can be reached at its Embassy in Washington, D.C. at 1610 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20009; telephone (202) 234-6108; fax: (202) 234-6109 for the most current visa information.

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    Shut in by the silence and loneliness of the everlasting hills, whose dark summits look down upon it on every side, it seems hardly to belong to the busy, bustling world of the nineteenth century at all. Like Iceland, or Central Asia, or Chinese Tartary, it is a kind of "reservation" where the barbaric usages of the olden times can have free play, without offense to the feelings of the respectable age which reads newspapers, and sends telegrams, and travels in railway cars, and does its brigandage with bubble companies and suits at law instead of knife and gun.

    From the spot where I write I can see a tall, gray tower, standing up on the bright morning sunshine, which, till the reigning Prince forbade it, was never without a plentiful adornment of Turkish heads. To the left stands a little pink building, smaller than many an American farm-house, which was the actual palace of the sovereigns of Montenegro till replaced by the modest stone-house with green shutters that is now the Windsor Castle of Cettinje.
    This stalwart, ruddy-cheeked fellow who comes striding down the mountain path behind me wears in his crimson sash two pistols and a silver-hilted yataghan [yatagan] as long as my arm, the notched blade of which has a business-like air suggestive of long and active service.

    Plashing through the half-melted snow that carpets the single street comes the national beast of burden, i. e., a woman, brown and robust as one of Tennyson's "daughters of the plow," with an enormous basket of fish on her back, a present to Prince Nikita from the Montenegrin Consul at Cattaro [Kotor], which she has carried all the way up from the sea-shore, a six-hours march.
    A passing beggar (fancy beggars even in Montenegro!) halts and kisses my hand, with a hoarse petition for alms in that provoking dialect which sounds just enough like Russian to mislead you into thinking that you can understand it, and to double your mortification on finding that you cannot. Such an apparition, however, is not so unusual as it might seem in these parts, where there is little money but what comes from Russia. Had the Dulcigno [Ulcinj, Улцињ] dspute of last Autumn ended in war Montenegro would have been literally without means to purchase supplies for her Army, which could hardly have indemnified itself at the expense of the Albanians, to whom fortune has assigned the enviable lot of being able to rob everybody and having nothing to be robbed of in return.

    Twice sacked and burned by the invading hordes of Islam, connected with the outer world by a single road, surrounded by grim rocks and barren mountain peaks, peopled with a race whose whole history has been one long battle, this quaint little stronghold of the past seems to have nothing in common with the puffing steamers and flitting boats and foreign telegrams and crowded streets and business-like regularity of the great European system which you have left but a few hours march below you. This valley became the seat of the Slav metropolis in the year when Richard of Gloucester [Richard III of England] smothered his boy nephews in the Tower of London. That dark, handsome, stalwart man who comes flying over the snow in a neat sledge drawn by two magnificent brown horses, answering your greeting in irreproachable French, bears a name celebrated in the Servian war ballads of the thirteenth century, and has himself seen two of the bloodiest and most merciless struggles recorded in history.
    Yonder stately figure in high black cap and flowing dark robes, before whom the bold mountain-men bend so reverentially as he sweeps by toward his home in the convent whose tall white tower stands out in bold relief against the dark hillside, is the last surviving representative of those terrible Montenegrin Bishops who were wont to lead their flock to battle against the Moslem, as Moses lead the armies of Israel. But Cettinje is by no means devoid of features which show that the influence of that irrepressible "outer world" which has sent special correspondents through the deserts of Central Asia, and peopled the solitudes of the Lebanon with Western excursionists, has begun to penetrate even here.

    A few houses up the street, the unpronounceable inscription, "Glas Tzrnogortza," (The Voice of Montenegro,) surmounts the quaintest little editorial office imaginable, much more like a white-washed cottage than a newspaper sanctum, and furnished with a Spartan simplicity worthy of its exterior. Close beside it, but a little retired from the line of the thoroughfare, stands a long low building, (of hewed stone as a matter of course, in this rock-abounding region, where wood is a rarity,) with green trim doors and windows. This is the Government school, where a good number of rosy little Montenegrinesses, in flat caps and short skirts, assemble every day to pursue their studies. Closing the perspective of the street, a very welcome object to the traveler, who, wet, weary, and bemired from head to foot, struggles in after a long ride over the mountains, is a large hotel, built by the Government in 1867, and certainly amazingly comfortable for such a wild region.

    But all this while I am forgetting to describe, so far as it can be described at all, the ascent from Cattaro, which may bear comparison with anything either in Switzerland or the Caucasus. You start about 9:30 A. M. in the vain hope of getting up in advance of the pelting rain, which, at this season, commences about 2 every afternoon, and works steadily on until daylight the next morning. Your traveling equipment is simple enough, consisting of a stalwart Montenegrin to carry your portmanteau, and a horse for yourself, although the latter, in such a region, seems as incongruous as a porpoise in a sentry-box.
    And no wonder. Turn which way you will, precipices upon precipices, so black and grim as amply to account for the name of "Tzerna Gora" (black mountain,) which we translate by Montenegro, pile themselves up to the very sky, dwarfing into utter insignificance the narrow winding bay which seems to have strayed in here by mistake, and the little toy town, or rather village, pasted along the tiny strip of level ground beside it.

    Right in front of you the mountain surges up in one great wave of dark purple, the crest of which you can hardly see without bending your head back. This culminates on the left in one stern gray crag nearly 2,000 feet in height, hanging so directly over the dainty little colony below that it is not easy to look up without a shudder of expectation that it may at any time thunder down to blot Cattaro and its people from the face of the earth.
    Half-way along its outer face, the great cliff is riven by a cleft, black and narrow as the gash of a sword, from the gloomy depths of which a swollen torrent comes rushing and roaring down to the sea. Further to the right, another chasm almost severs from the main cliff a huge dark rock, along the black jagged crest of which winds the crumbling wall of an ancient fortress, now utterly deserted, whose gaping loop-holes look down into the valley with a blank unseeing stare. Midway between these two clefts a kind of rough seam runs straight up the face of the precipice in an endless series of cross-stitches, as if some bachelor mountain-giant had torn his coat, and cobbled it up as best he might.

    The summit of the precipice is the Montenegrin frontier; the rough seam is the road thither, and it is hardly to be wondered at if the idea of ascending such a road on horseback appears at first sight very much on a par with driving a coach-and-four up stairs, or trying to ascend Bunker Hill Monument on a bicycle.
    But there is no time to think about it now. The Montenegrin porter is well up the first zigzag, with the portmonteau, standing boldly out from his broad back, like a new study of Christian with his burden scaling the Hill of Difficulty. The horse steps solemnly forward, with a mingled air of grave responsibility and of full confidence in his ability to meet it, over heaps of rolling stones which would send any civilized animal hoofs uppermost in a moment; and away we go.

    Upward, ever upward, round ticklish corners where you look over the low parapet wall sheer down for hundreds of feet into a roaring waterfall; over slippery boulders, among which even my experienced horse, though sure-footed as a Circassian warrior or a mule of the Andes, stumbles and flounders painfully; beneath huge rocks, hanging so loosely over the tremendous depth below that you involuntarily hold your breath as you pass under them; along rocky ledges, heaped with a chaos of stones of all sorts and sizes, to which Lisbon just after the great earthquake was like a Fifth-avenue sidewalk.
    Little by little the sounds of life from the valley die away; the little red-tiled houses melt into the cold white mist that covers the lower ground; the silence and loneliness of the everlasting hills inwraps us like a shroud. Not a sound is to be heard save the sharp rattle of the loose stones under my horse's hoofs and the hoarse roar of some distant torrent.

    My guide, striding on in front, silently as a spectre, begins to look gigantic and unearthly through the engulfing mist. The measured tread of the horse along the brink of these tremendous precipices, where one false step is certain death, has in it something weird and ghost-like. We seem like a train of phantoms on their march to the grave.
    Suddenly a big stone falls, crashing close to my horse's feet, and then another and another. The great king upon whose dominions we have intruded is showing us what he has in store for those who dare to molest his solitude. I see my Montenegrin compress his lips sternly, though his warrior pride forbids him to quicken his pace, even in the teeth of deadly danger. But my less scrupulous horse quickens his at once, and soon brings me out of the line of fire, though not without one or two escapes so narrow that I can feel the wind of the missiles as they pass.

    Just at this moment a woman, big and brawny enough for a Scythian Amazon, comes tramping up under a load almost as big as herself. She salutes me in passing with the customary "Dobra vstretcha," (a good meeting,) and, without even troubling herself to follow the zigzags of the road, marches straight up the face of the ridge upon footing barely sufficient for a chamois, and disappears amid the rocky heights beyond.
    Now a blast of wind rends the mist-wall, and the panorama below comes forth in all its beauty. The grim old fortress on its lonely crag, the trim little red-tiled houses of the miniature town beneath, the smooth, green, transparent waters of the winding inlet, the vast purple shadow of the mighty mountains that wall it in, the tiny white hamlets that cling to their skirts, the broad sheen of the open sea beyond—all these, steeped in the brief bright splendor of the Winter sunlight, burst upon the eye in one blaze of glory.

    With the first breath of the life-giving mountain air, the world below, with all its petty cares and worries, vanishes like a dream. I leap from my saddle, and, springing upon the nearest rock, go scrambling up the face of the ridge as if my life depended upon it, while my horse, relieved of his burden, jogs merrily along the path. My guide's dog barks and frolics around me, and chases imaginary cats in and out of the boulders, while two or three huge Montenegrins, who come marching down the horrible descent as if it were a stair, greet me in passing with a smile of fatherly indulgence.
    Hurrah! Here at last is the first patch of snow, and here another, and another, and another. Who cares for stumbles or bruises in this glorious atmosphere, where one cannot feel tired if one would? I experience a momentary pang at seeing my Montenegrin tripping jauntily along the edge of a fathomless precipice, with my portmanteau bobbing from his shoulder at the end of a single strap; but this is forgotten in a moment, for just above us rises the smooth parapet of the new military road, which meets our track at this point, and a few minutes later we are on Montenegrin soil.

    Away, away along the winding highway, now dexterously avoiding a huge heap of debris which has rushed down upon the road, now picking our way round a grisley gap where nearly half the road itself has fallen away down the precipice, now halting to admire a vast black cavern in the flanking cliff, against whose blackness pillars of ice stand out spectrally, while from its sunless depths comes sullenly the hoarse roar of unseen waters. Snow, sunshine, mountain air, scenery unmatched in Europe, a bounding sense of health and elasticity which makes the mere feeling of existence an enjoyment—is not one such day worth months of the humdrum life of civilization?
    Almost without knowing it, I strike up a song, and my guide responds in a voice worthy of Stentor, while the dog barks a lusty accompaniment. A passing traveler comes up, and, on either side, we at once begin snow-balling each other like schoolboys, without even waiting for an introduction.

    As we begin to descend into a bare, stony plateau, shut in on every side by huge cliffs, a strapping young shepherdess, overlooking her flock from a projecting crag, shows all her white teeth in a broad, hearty smile, as if our coming were the best joke she had seen for many a day.
    And now, passing a solitary little red-towered church, we descry before us, so mixed up with the vast gray boulders that it is hard at first sight to tell one from the other, the tiny stone hovels, rudely thatched with straw, of the hamlet of Niégosch, which the old chiefs of the Petrovich family, when they came into Montenegro as its champions and its rulers 300 years ago, named in loving remembrance of their far-off home in Herzegovina.

    Hitherto all has gone well, but now our troubles commence in earnest. Suddenly diverging from the beaten road, our path leads right up a bare, crumbling slope, ankle-deep in half-melted snow, and so overflowed by countless torrents that I am fain to get to my saddle once more. At the same moment the wind, rising in its might, drives before it a pelting storm of rain. Drenched and dripping, we zigzag for hours through a maze of slippery ridges and snow-filled hollows, while the half-seen phantoms of black crags and skeleton trees loom spectrally through the mist, and every now and then a train of laden pack-horses or a brawny Montenegriness, waddling under a fagot bigger than herself, starts suddenly out of the gloom just at the narrowest part of the path, necessitating a somewhat intricate game of "puss in the corner" on the very brink of the precipice.
    At length, just as my fingers seem to be absolutely non-existent and the reins to be sustaining themselves in mid-air by art-magic, my guide announces the good news that we shall be at Cettinje in three-quarters of an hour more.

    Then comes a headlong descent into another isolated plateau, a glimpse of two or three grim fortress-like houses among the cliffs, a momentary vision through the driving rain, of groups of tall, well-armed men and brown-faced women scattered along a muddy street of small stone cottages with a big, substantial-looking house closing the perspective; and then suddenly I find myself bundled up a very slippery stair into a well-warmed room and hear my landlord, a handsome young giant of six feet two, advising me, with a jolly laugh, to "have some hot coffee at once, just to keep you alive till dinner's ready."
[unsigned, but clearly written by DAVID KER]

The New York Times, Februrary 28, 1881, p.2:



    CETTINJE, Montenegro, Jan. 31.—It is a somewhat novel situation to find one's self quartered in a hotel 2,400 feet above the sea, surrounded by knee-deep snow and shut in by the savagest mountains in Europe, where hens and ducks range the grounds at will, with an occasional pig by way of variety; where you can hardly come down stairs without running against a six-foot moutaineer in crimson vest and blue knickerbockers, with a perfect museum of weapons hanging all over him; where your landlord and his help, male and female, pop in and out of your room at all hours in the friendliest manner possible, and seem to look upon you quite as an old comrade instead of a mere passing guest; where your right and left hand neighbors at table are Montenegrin warriors in full native dress, who have probably taken as many Turkish heads as they have fingers on both hands; where nearly half of what you eat, and three fourths of what you drink, have been carried up from the sea-shore, over 20 miles of frozen precipices, upon the backs of horses or of women.

    But, despite all this, one may be as comfortable in the capital of Montenegro as I have been in places almost equally unlikely, such as the oasis of Biskra, in the Sahara Desert, or the fortress of Kazalinsk, in Central Asia. If the streets are unpaved, the houses are at least rain-proof; if the weather is cold, the welcome is warm; if our postal arrangements are represented by a queer little thatched cottage, with a slit biscuit tin at its door for a letter box, and a long-limbed mountaineer sent twice a week down the mountains to Cattaro by way of mail train, there is at all events plenty to write about, and a cordial readiness on the part of every one to give you both information and assistance, not always to be found in more civilized regions.

    Indeed, there is perhaps no race in the world with whom one may more quickly or more easily make one's self at home than the Black Mountaineers. Before the jovial, boyish good-humor of these simple Goliaths it is impossible to feel either shy or morose. I am already "hand and glove" with half a dozen strapping fellows, the least of whom could take me up in one hand; and the only foreign lady who has ventured here this month is so assiduously "capped" by the handsome, picturesque giants of the village whenever she apppears that a stranger would be apt to mistake her for the Princess in person.

    But all this while I am forgetting to describe my interview with Prince Nikita [Nikola I Mirkov Petrović-Njegoš], which was fortunately a more successful experience than that of the English farmer who boasted that although he had never seen the Queen, he "had a cousin as once coom very nigh seein' the Dook o' Wellington."
    Immediately on arriving at Cettinje I send in my card—almost the only dry thing left about me—to the Voievode Radonich, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and present myself at his house next morning. Formerly the palace of the Montenegrin Princes, it makes an imposing show among the little thatched stone hovels of two rooms each which make up the bulk of the town.

    It is a long, low, red building, encircled by a quadrangular wall with a low round tower at each corner, whence a French traveler spitefully nicknamed it "the billiard-table." Near the door lies a rarity in Montenegro—an iron six-pounder, which, though unmounted and useless, is an object of great admiration to the natives. Passing through a huge desolate court-yard and up a stone stair, I am ushered into a small, bare room, with no furniture save a table and two chairs.
    The next moment, in comes a tall, handsome, black-whiskered man, whose towering figure, clad in the picturesque white tunic, crimson vest, and blue hose of the Montenegrin warrior, looks quite colossal in that small chamber. I ask him if he remembers Lieut. Greene [Francis Vinton Greene], American military attaché at the Czar's head-quarters in 1877. At the sound of the familiar name his face lights up at once, and he eagerly inquires after the author of Army Life in Russia.
    "I haven't read the book myself, says he, "but from the extracts given me by the Russian officers, I should say it must be quite worthy of the praise they give it. Be sure you tell M. Greene, when you go back, what a pleasant recollection I have of our acquaintance. Meanwhile, what can I do for you?"

    I state my wish to pay my respects to the Prince, and take my leave, supposing the matter at an end for the day. But M. Radonich's kindness outruns my expectations. That very afternoon, just as I am drying myself for the third time—for Montenegro in Winter is very much like the Irish village where one went out on foot one day, and in a boat the other six—my big landlord comes in to announce with a jovial grin that the Prince has sent an aide-de-camp to conduct me to him.
    In steps a good-looking young fellow with curling black hair, whose smooth, well-shaped features have even more than the ordinarily fresh and youthful look given to every Montenegrin face by the absence of beard or whisker, and by the jaunty trimness of the long, pointed mustache.
    This is Blazo Petrovitch-Niégosch, a cousin of the Prince himself and younger brother of the famous Bojo Petrovitch, "the hero of Montenegro," who crushed the Turkish invasion of 1876 and commanded the Montenegrin army sent last Autumn to drive the Albanians from Dulcigno.

    Through a terrible plash of half-melted snow we reach the palace, a neat little white stone house with green shutters, backed by a small garden and surrounded with a wall. Passing through a group of enormous fellows in full mountain costume, who, as they lower their drawn swords in salute, expose to view the small metal plate on their flat black and crimson caps which is the badge of the royal body guard, we mount a stair, and enter a handsome drawing-room furnished in the French style.
    Among the portraits which adorn it are those of the Prince's father, Mirko, and of his uncle, Danilo, murdered at Cattaro in 1860; while the inner room, smaller, but equally handsome, contains full-length paintings of the Princess and her children, as well as a needle-work portrait of the Prince himself by a young lady of the district.

    Suddenly the inner door opens, and a tall, dark, very fine-looking man of 40, clad in a rich gold-embroidered vest worn over a long-sleeved white tunic, an undervest of crimson silk, blue trousers, knee-high boots, and a parti-colored sash around the waist, come forward with an outstretched hand and a smile of cordial welcome. Looking at the panther-like elasticity of his strong limbs, and the herculean breadth of chest which seems almost to lessen his magnificent stature, one can understand Nikita Petrovitch's reknown as the strongest man and the best shot and horseman of his kingdom; but there is as little of the mountain fierceness in his fine thoughtful face as of the cumbrous formality of a European court in his frank and easy courtesy.
    He laughs good-humoredly at the account of my ascent from Cattaro through the storm, says a few pleasant words about his own stay at Trieste and Paris as a boy, and then proceeds to apologize for not being able to present me to the Princess, who is, unfortunately, indisposed.

    "Had you come a little later," says he, smiling, "you would have found a full house here. I have six girls of my own and two boys, and when my two eldest girls come home from Russia we shall have one piano going here and another there and the whole house will be in a stir."
    Listening to all this, spoken in the frank, hearty manner of one talking without reserve to an intimate friend, I begin to understand the boundless influence exercised by this man over his fierce subjects, and the enthusiastic reverence that has stood the test of that daily companionship and close familiarity which the less manly sovereigns of civilized Europe so prudently avoid.

    When I allude to the exploits of his soldiers during the war, there is a momentary flash of true warrior fire in the large, dark eyes, as he answers emphatically, "Yes, we did our best!" The next instant, however, a shade of sadness falls over the noble face, as he adds in a tone of deep feeling, "But it has cost us dear!" showing how sorely the large heart of "the father of his people" feels the loss of the brave fellows whose bones lie bleaching on the bare hill-sides of Nicsics [Nikšić] and the bleak gorges of the Moratcha [Morača].

    The next morning I enjoy a treat of another kind... M. Petrovich [Blazo Petrovitch-Niégosch], whose inexhaustible kindness is still unsatisfied wtih all the trouble that he has already taken on my account, now insists upon carrying me home with him and introducing me to his wife and sister-in-law, as well as to his elder brother, the famous Gereralissimo of the Montenegrin armies.
    Accordingly a few minutes later I find myself in a pretty little drawing-room between two young and very charming ladies, whose fresh girlish beauty gives no hint of their being the wives of public men and mothers of several children. Nothing can exceed the kindness of their welcome. They make tea for me with a genuine Russian samovar, (tea-urn,) and serve it with their own hands. They show me countless photographs of the native celebrities, and promise me a complete group of the Prince and his family to take away with me as a souvenir.

    In order to give me an idea of the Montenegrin gala dress they slip away to exchange their picturesque every-day garb of a black coif pinned to the hair, a dark crimson jacket braided with black, a white vest embroidered with colored silk, and a dark blue skirt covered with a black apron, for the richer costume of the Court.
    Presently they return in jackets of crimson velvet richly embroidered with gold, cream-colored vests of thin muslin worked down the front with gold thread, white skirts, and girdles of many silver links, strong and heavy as a fetter.

    Meanwhile my host dons the splendid battle-garb of the Montenegrin warrior: a gold-laced cerise jacket with hanging sleeves, like the Hungarian Dolman, and a cuirass of crimson and gold covered with scales of steel, which must have been perfectly proof against the bullets of the old-fashioned musket.
    Nothing, in short, is wanting to our enjoyment save the company of Gen. Bojo Petrovich, who is unfortunately detained elsewhere...

    It is certainly a curious sensation, in the wildest region of Europe to find one's self chatting with the wife and brother of a man whose very name has long been the terror of the whole Turkish border. But there is a wonderful charm in the frank, hearty admiration, unmarred by the faintest tinge of envy, with which the fine young fellow who has enteretained me speaks of the brother whose name has resounded through the length and breadth of Europe, who is a Commander-in-Chief and President of the Senate at 32, and who, when even younger, destroyed two powerful Turkish armies, took two important strongholds, and captured guns and prisoners without number in less than four months.

    I have parted with less regret from many an old friend than from these simple, kindly, mountain folk, whom I have known little more than an hour.
    "You must come back in Summer, you know," says Mme. Bojo Petrovitch, in her cordial, open-hearted way, "and see my husband and all the other people, so we won't say good-bye, but only au revoir."
[unsigned, but clearly written by DAVID KER]

The Federal Reserve Bank's estimated consumer price index shows that $1 in 1881 was equivalent to $22.26 in 2008.

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