« PreviousContinue »
A TOPOGRAPHICAL, PICTURESQUE, AND STATISTICAL ACCOUNT OF THAT HITHERTO UNDESCRIBED
ILLUSTRATED BY A MAP AND PLATES.
COL. L. C. VIALLA DE SOMMIÈRES,
COMMANDANT OF CASTEL- NUOVO, GOVERNOR OF THE PROVINCE OF CATTARO, AND
CHIEF OP THE GENERAL STAFF OF THE ILLYRIAN ARMY AT RAGUSA.
PRINTED FOR SIR RICHARD PHILLIPS AND Co.
BRIDE-COURT, BRIDGE-STREET ; AND TO BE HAD OF ALL BOOKSELLERS.
IN writing the history of a people, hitherto scarcely known even by name, my object has been to render myself useful, without aspiring to literary honour. The military and political circumstances of Montenegro, the situation in which I was placed, and my intercourse with the principal chiefs of the nation, afforded me the best opportunity of observing the manners, customs, and superstitions of the people, All the details which I have given on these subjects, must necessarily be new to the reader, and cannot be unimportant in the study of geography and the moral history of mankind.
The silence of the ancients concerning Montenegro serves only to enhance the value of the information I procured during my short residence in that country. In all probability, the advantages I enjoyed will not speedily occur to another observer. The difficulty of penetrating into the country, the absolute indifference of the people to every thing that does not personally concern them, and their extreme distrust of foreigners, will doubtless, for a long period, oppose political and commercial communication, which alone can establish permanent connections between the inhabitants of different countries.
The Montenegrines, who are continually in danger of invasion from the Turks, feel no interest in any object save that of self-defence against their cruel neighbours. Art, science, literature, all that constitute European glory, is a dead blank to them. His gun, his poignard, and his bible, which, by the bye, he kisses oftener than he reads, are all that are necessary for the happiness of a Montenegrine.
It is probable that I shall not escape the lash of critical censure, since it has been my task to describe what is new, unknown, and singular. That, however, will give me but little concern. Criticism, when its object is to correct errors, can never give offence; and that which is written from the dictates of envy or spleen deserves only contempt. In the former case, he who is wise will silently correct his faults ; but, in the latter, the critic deserves no notice.
Origin of the Montenegrines.--They oppose the Establishment
of the French in the Province of Cattaro.–Battle of CastelNuovo.-The Montenegrines are driven back into their Mountains.---Topographical Description of their Country.-Sketch of their Political History, up to the Period of the Author's
Arrival among them. When the French advanced to the gates of Castel-Nuovo, in Illyria, and from thence to the mouths of the Cattaro, the people of Montenegro began to be frequently mentioned throughout Europe; though, perhaps, io a manner no less vague than in the few scanty notices which had previously appeared respecting them.
The Montenegrines are that warlike people, who, towards the end of 1806, descended in a mass from their mountains, at the summons of the revered Vladika, or prince-bishop of the country, whom the Emperor of Russia bad attached to his cause.
When the French force approached Castel-Nuovo, it was unexpectedly attacked by 10,000 Montenegrines, united to the Russian troops, who had landed on the banks of the Saturina. Our army was thus thrown into disorder, and was obliged to retreat by Ragusa, wbich_the Montenegripes entered in the confusion of the pursuit. They immediately took possession of the town, levied contributions, laid waste Old Ragusa, and burnt Santa Croce, better known by the name of Gravosa, or the Port of Ragusa. In a second engagement they were, however, completely defeated and dispersed, being unable to sustain
Voyages and TRAVELS, No. 3. Vol. IV. B