VII.

MONTENEGRO UNDER NICHOLAS I.

(1860—1896.)

THE security of the Petrović dynasty on the throne was not affected for a moment by the murder of Danilo II. The late Prince had left no male offspring, for his only child was a daughter; but the succession had been determined five years before his death. His nephew Nicholas, son of Mirko, was then nominated as his heir, and the young. Prince was at once proclaimed by the Senate without opposition. His father, Mirko, who, though the eider brother of Danilo, had been passed over in 1851, accepted without a murmur this further disregard of his claims, and in the capacity of President of the Senate was content to serve to the end of his life as the first subject of his son. Together with his wife Stana, who died last year at a ripe old age, he watched with loyal devotion over the young Prince's career.

Nicholas I. was born at Njeguš, the ancestral home of his race, on the 25th of September, 1841, and had therefore not quite completed his nineteenth year when 450 451 THE PRINCE'S EDUCATION. the sudden death of his uncle placed him on the throne. He had been prepared by a Western education for the duties which lay before him. The excellent French which he speaks was acquired at the Academy of Louis-le-Grand in Paris, where he studied after several years spent in learning Serb history and the Italian and German languages under the care of his aunt Darinka's family at Trieste. But the young mountaineer, who had been wisely allowed to run wild as a child in his highland home, felt the atmosphere of the Parisian class-room oppressive and stifling. He took little pleasure in the gaieties of town life, and sighed for the free air of the Black Mountains where his childhood had been spent in manly games. "My country," he once said, "is a wilderness of stones; it is arid, it is poor, but I adore it! And if I were offered the whole of the Balkan Peninsula in exchange, why, I would not hear one word!" His poetic nature, nurtured amidst the grand scenery of his native land, gave early promise of that literary taste to which we owe a volume of Serb poetry and two tragedies, the Empress of the Balkans and Prince Arbanit. Whenever he could escape from the dull round of his academic studies, he sought fresh air and woods and mountains which reminded him of his own. He learnt to shoot with an accuracy which surprised his countrymen; a fearless rider, he traversed every pass of the mountains on horseback, and imbibed in the nursery those warlike traditions which he was to perpetuate beneath the walls of Nikšić. He seemed to Lady Strangford, when she visited "the eastern shores of the Adriatic" shortly 452 MONTENEGRO UNDER NICHOLAS I. after his accession, "an extraordinarily handsome man, very tall and well made, with hair and eyes nearly black, and a naturally soft, somewhat sad expression of face." When the present writer met him two years ago, he bore his fifty-two years lightly, and his figure was as erect and his eye as keen as when that description was penned. No one can see and converse with him without feeling that he is a born leader of men, who, if he had been Prime Minister of a large state, instead of Prince of a small one, would have made a great mark upon the history of Europe.

Two months after his accession the young Prince married the lady to whom, in accordance with Montenegrin custom, he had been affianced from childhood. Milena Voukotić was the daughter of a Montenegrin voïvode, who had been the brother-in-arms of Mirko at the great day of Grahovo. The Princess is still famous for her beauty, and her daughters have won the admiration of the fastidious Russian Court, and are the favourites of Queen Victoria. The nine children, three of them sons, who are the issue of this marriage, have secured the succession to the House of Petrović. Prince Nicholas had been little more than a year on the throne when war broke out with the Sultan. The Turks were burning to avenge their defeat at Grahavo, while the rayahs of the Herzegovina only waited a favourable moment to join hands with their brothers across the border. The insurrection of 1861 in that province excited the utmost enthusiasm in Montenegro. The Prince, at the entreaty of the 453 THE TURKISH WAR OF 1862. Powers, followed at first the neutral policy of his predecessor, and even permitted the Turks to convey provisions across his country to their garrison at Nikšić. But it was again found impossible to check the fervour of the mountaineers. Frontier incidents occurred, and Omar Pasha proclaimed the blockade of the Principality. Early in 1862 he declared war against Montenegro, and his army entered the country in three divisions. Diplomatic protests were in vain, and the Prince's father and father-in-law lost no time in taking the field. The valley of the Zeta, always the weakest point of Montenegro's natural defences, was the principal theatre of the war. Mirko performed prodigies of valour, and his heroic defence of the Upper Monastery of Ostrog with twenty-six men, and his subsequent march to Cetinje with the loss of a single soldier, may be compared with the futile attempts of the Turks to capture that monastic stronghold a century earlier, when thirty men success-fully held the shrine of St. Basil and the ledge of rock beneath it, against an army of thirty thousand. No one who has ever visited Ostrog will doubt the possibility of these marvellous feats. The only means of dislodging a well-provisioned garrison is to smoke them out of this hole in the rocks, and the Prince is fond of telling how on this memorable occasion his father came out of it "as black as a coal." In a pitched battle near Rjeka, Mirko, with a mere handful of men, held a large force of Turks at bay, sustaining his strength for a whole day on nothirrg more substantial than a few pears. Even lads of twelve and thirteen shouldered a rifle, and the Prince's sister 454 MONTENEGRO UNDER NICHOLAS I. followed her father to the war. But the disciplined Ottoman troops, led by the ablest of Turkish commanders, slowly yet steadily drove the gallant defenders back. The rich valley of the Zeta was ravaged by the invaders, and in spite of a temporary advantage gained by the Montenegrins, their enemies advanced steadily upon the capital. Worst of all, the bullet of an assassin had nearly slain the young Prince, on his way to the front with the Dowager Princess and his wife. His attendants were wounded by splinters from the rocks, but he and his family escaped unscathed. His people, dejected by their losses, without provisions, without allies, withdrew from the unequal contest, and even Mirko, after sixty battles, was bound to confess that the game was up. Europe, with the exception of Pius IX., who had forbidden the Albanian Catholics to attack the Montenegrin Christians, had hitherto looked on with indifference. But diplomacy at last intervened; the Prince and the Pasha met at Rjeka, and the Convention of Scutari, dated the 31st of August, ended the war. The terms of the Convention were sufficiently severe. It was expressly stipulated that Mirko should quit his country for ever—a remarkable tribute to his prowess, and the best proof of the fear which he inspired. But this stipulation was never carried out; and the article which gave the Turks power to erect guard-houses along the valley of the Zeta was subsequently abandoned by the Sultan. But no Montenegrin fortifications were to be erected on the Turkish frontiers, no family was to enter the Principality without a Turkish passport, and the im 455 DEATH OF MIRKO. portation of war material at the port of Antivari was strictly prohibited. On the other hand, the Turks agreed to allow the export and import of merchandise at that harbour free of duty.

An interval of fourteen years' peace occurred between the first and second Turkish wars of the present reign, and Montenegro sorely needed it. Famine had followed in the trail of the sword. France alone sent corn to the value of 600,000 francs for the relief of the prevailing distress, and Napoleon III. assured Prince Nicholas at the Paris Exhibition of 1867 of his continued good-will toward the warrior-people. But a fresh disaster befell the country, Cholera made its first appearance in the Principality, and the Prince returned just in time to support his dying father in his arms. Mirko has left a great name both as a poet and a warrior, and the rice and coffee plantations which he started show that he was not blind to the uses of agriculture. For a moment it looked as if the Turks would renew their attacks now that their dreaded antagonist was gone. But the alarm passed away, and the Prince was left unmolested to pursue his contemplated reforms.

The first of these was an improved military organisation. The great losses sustained in the late war had convinced him that the measures of his predecessor nine years earlier were inadequate. Arms were the first necessity, and a large number of rifles were purchased in France by means of a Iottery; while Napoleon III., the Czar, Prince Michael of Servia, and another Serb provided the funds for further munitions of war. Prince Michael also lent 456 MONTENEGRO UNDER NICHOLAS I. the services of an able gunsmith, who constructed a small arsenal at Obod, on the site of the old printing-press, and of three artillery officers, who started a cannon-foundry near Cetinje. A trumpeter was also sent from Belgrade to teach the Montenegrins the signals in use in the Servian army. Having thus provided his country with modern weapons, Prince Nicholas set about the improvement of his army. In 1870, Captain Wlahović, a Servian officer, and joint author of an excellent work on Montenegro, was entrusted with the task of drawing up a scheme for the better organisation of the Montenegrin forces. The male population between the ages of seventeen and sixty was divided into two divisions, each about ten thousand strong, and subdivided into two brigades of five battalions apiece. Each battalion was formed by eight companies. The staff consisted of the Prince as commander-in-chief, seven voïvodes, of whom the first was Elia Plamenac, the present Minister for War, and several aids-de-camp. Every Montenegrin of military age—for the army, as Scharnhorst said of Prussia, was simply "the nation under arms"— received a rifle and a stock of cartridges from the Government. Every one, even .in time of peace, always carries a revolver, and carries it loaded, by special command of the Prince. A Montenegrin loves his weapons as his children; infants are allowed to play with the butt-ends of pistols, and a native proverb says, "You might as well take from me my brother as my rifle." Artillery, which had scarcely existed in the country hitherto, were now made a regular arm of the service, and two mountain batteries formed part of the new 457 MILITARY REFORMS. military scheme. Cavalry can never be of much use in so mountainous a region; moreover the cost of forage in the western portion of the Principality makes a horse too expensive a luxury for any but a few. In 1894, however, the complete equipment for a squadron of cavalry, together with two instructors, was sent to the Prince by the Sultan. Such was the military organisation of Montenegro till last year, when Prince Nicholas began the experiment of a standing army, drilled by officers who have had a special education in tactics abroad. In August, 1895, a Russian ship arrived at Antivari with a cargo of thirty thousand rifles and a great quantity of cannon, cartridges, and other war material, as a present from the new Czar to his namesake. Russian instructors had already arrived, a military college was established at Podgorica, and barracks for a battalion of soldiers were built at Cetinje. These barracks will be formally opened on the 29th of July of the present year, the bicentenary of the dynasty. Every Montenegrin, except the Mussulman inhabitants of Dulcigno, who are exempt on payment of a capitation tax, will henceforth undergo compulsory military training. But neither last year nor in 1870 was any provision made for a commissariat department. That is the defect of the Montenegrin military system. The wives, daughters, and sisters of the mountaineers still carry their reserves of powder and their food and drink on their backs, and no ambulance corps or intelligence bureau is to be found in the rear of a Montenegrin army.

In the early years of his reign the Prince was 458 MONTENEGRO UNDER NICHOLAS I. largely under the influence of his aunt, the Dowager Princess Darinka, whose desire was to introduce Western, and especially French, institutions into the Black Mountain. Mirko had acted as a check upon this liberal policy, but shortly after his death a so-called "constitution" was granted. On St. George's Day, 1868, a proclamation announced to the astonished people, accustomed to look upon their Gospodar as the incarnation of all authority, that he had voluntarily renounced his uncontrolled rights over the public funds, while reserving the prerogative of pardon and the complete direction of foreign affairs. But neither the "constitution" of 1868, nor the creation of a ministry, with departments for foreign and home affairs, war, justice, and a President of the Council, has in the smallest degree diminished the practical autocracy of Prince Nicholas. He can truly say, like the Grand Monarque, L'etat, c'est moi. He is practically his own Premier, and both practically and theoretically his own Lord Chancellor and commander-in-chief. Whoever would see benevolent despotism in full working order had better go to Montenegro, whose ruler assured the present writer that there would be no parliamentary government there for a century. As he once put it in a neat epigram: "A prince ought to be a Liberal, his subjects Conservatives."

All reforms in his country have naturally proceeded from above, and every change which has been effected during his reign has been directly due to his initiative. It was thus, that on the visit which he paid to the courts of Berlin, Vienna, and St. Petersburg, in 459 EDUCATIONAL PROGRESS. the winter of 1868-9, he made a powerful appeal to Alexander II. on behalf of Montenegrin education. In spite of the efforts of Danilo II., who gave lessons himself to a few children of the chief families in a room of his palace, and the two small schools founded by his predecessor previous to the year 1869, there was no instruction of any kind to be obtained in the whole country except at a tiny academy for priests, installed in the monastery at Cetinje. The Czar and his family lent a ready ear to the Prince's words. Prince Dolgorouki, one of whose ancestors had visited Montenegro in the days of Stephen the Little a century earlier, was sent on a tour of inspection. Funds were provided for the foundation of a seminary for boys, called the Bogoslavia, while a school for the daughters of the best families was established under the auspices of the Russian Empress, and christened the Jenski Crnogorski Institute. The success of both has been complete. In a very short time forty pupils of the Bogoslavia had qualified as schoolmasters, and scattered through-out the country the seeds of education. The fame of the girls' school has spread abroad. Residents on the Bocche di Cattaro send their daughters to attend it, and foreign diplomatists, accredited to the Montenegrin Court, find there an excellent training for their children. At the present time, primary education is universal in the Black Mountain, and lecturers are appointed by the village councils to explain the advantages of learning. But in time of war, study is apt to be neglected, for instructors of youth eagerly exchange the pen for the sword, and one of the chief 460 MONTENEGRO UNDER NICHOLAS I. inspectors of schools played a prominent part in the rising of the Herzegovina. The highest education is, however, still-unobtainable in the Principality. The present Finance Minister, M. Matanovic, was educated in Paris, while the Minister of Justice, M. Bogošić, came from Odessa, and many leading men have been at school in Italy. But it is the desire of the Prince that his subjects should be educated in their own country, if possible, in order that they may remain Montenegrins and not imbibe that spirit of discontent which has in some cases been found to be the result of a foreign education. His own sons have accordingly been placed under the care of a resident Swiss tutor.

The insurrection of the people on the shores of the Bocche di Cattaro against the Austrian Government in 1869 was a sore temptation to their neighbours and kinsmen. Touching appeals were made to the Montenegrins by the warlike Krivoscians, who dwelt on the heights between Grahovo and the sea, and had held their mountain fastnesses against every invader for generations. Many of their families fled for refuge over the border, and their fiery war-song bade "the Black Prince" come "at the head of his faithful Montenegrins from the ruins of Obod, whither the good genius of the Dalmatian mountains has flown to awaken him out of his sleep." But although the struggle was so fierce and so near, the Montenegrins remained neutral at the command of their cautious ruler. The Emperor Francis Joseph fully recognised the harm which Prince Nicholas could have inflicted upon him had he chosen, and an Austrian decoration was the outward token of his gratitude.

461 THE TURKISH WAR OF 1876.

But when the Herzegovina rose against the Turk in 1875, it was impossible to hold the Montenegrins back. The "Andrassy Note," which had this object, fell flat. From the outset, Montenegrin volunteers took an active part in a rising which began almost at their doors. According to the Turkish version, whole battalions of them fought in the ranks of the insurgents. An army was collected at Skodra to keep them in check; strongly worded remonstrances were addressed by the Porte to the Prince. The reply was a demand for the cession of part of the Herzegovina and the publication of an offensive and defensive alliance with Prince Milan of Servia. On the 2nd of July, 1876, Montenegro followed the example of her brother Serbs, and declared war against her ancient enemy. An army of eleven thousand men, under the command of the Prince, at once invaded the Herzegovina. The old spirit and the new military organisation of the invaders speedily made themselves felt. The Flerzegovinians flocked to the Prince's standard, and he soon had twenty thousand men under his control. The first important engagement took place on the 28th, at the village of Vučidol, where Mouktar Pasha, the Turkish commander, was defeated and wounded. A little later, the army of the South, amounting to six thousand men and led by the Prince's cousin, Božo Petrović, the present Montenegrin Premier, twice defeated Mahmoud Pasha at Medun, and, after a four months' siege, that place surrendered. An armistice was concluded in November, and the Prince sent two plenipotentiaries to Constantinople to negotiate a peace. But his pro462 MONTENEGRO UNDER NICHOLAS I. posals were rejected, and in April an eloquent manifesto of their ruler bade the Montenegrins recommence hostilities. They were better armed, thanks to the rifles captured from the Turks, than. in the previous campaign, and the knowledge that Russia was about to declare war more than compensated for the defection of Servia. The Prince, who showed himself a master of this mountain war-fare, craftily led the Turks on by means of a feigned retreat into the valley of the Zeta. Believing that the enemy had given up the contest, Suleiman Pasha had already telegraphed to Constantinople that the history of Montenegro had closed, and that it was high time to appoint the first Turkish governor. His troops occupied the monastery of Ostrog, the scene of Mirko's heroic feat in the last war. But it was their only success. Surprised and surrounded in the midst of the mountains, they were forced to beat a retreat to Spui, with a loss of nearly half their strength. Relieved by the diversion which the march of the Russians over the Danube had now created, the Prince laid siege to Nikšić, which, after a four months' siege, fell into his hands. This was the great exploit of the war; loud was the rejoicing at Cetinje, and to this day the Prince recalls with keen delight the "Homeric battles," which he fought beneath the walls of the old Turkish town. The harbours of Antivari and Dulcigno next fell into his hands, and he composed a hymn of triumph to the sea, which, at last, after years of weary waiting, his standards had reached. This was practically the last event of the war. The Prince had summoned Skodra to surrender 463 END OF THE WAR. and was on the point of beginning the siege, when he heard of the armistice between Russia and Turkey. On the last day of January, 1878, he suspended military operations. Sovereign and people had shown

MAP OF MONTENEGRO.

themselves worthy descendants of their warlike ancestors, They had fought with equal courage and 464 MONTENEGRO UNDER NICHOLAS I. success—nearly twenty Turks had fallen for every one of their own warriors—and it was noted as a remarkable fact when a Montenegrin allowed himself to be taken prisoner.

Their efforts had not been in vain. Had, indeed, the Treaty of San Stefano been adopted, Montenegro would have been more than trebled in size and its population doubled, while its eastern boundary would have been almost conterminous with the western frontier of Servia. Thus the two branches of the Serb stock, so long divided, would have been practically reunited, and the restoration of the Serb Empire, which the Prince had told his subjects was his dream, might have been realised. But this did not suit the policy of Austria. The Treaty of Berlin was substituted for that of San Stefano, and the new Montenegrin frontiers, though much larger than those of 1856, were much smaller than those which Russia had tried to procure for her ally. The area of the Principality was more than doubled; its population increased from one hundred and ninety-six thousand to two hundred and eighty thousand. The important places of Podgorica, Spuž, and Žabljak, the old capital of Ivan the Black, were added to it, and Antivari with its harbour was confirmed to the Prince on condition that he should have no ships of war. But he was ordered by the Congress to restore Dulcigno to the Turks, while the village of Spica, which commands the beautiful bay of Antivari, was incorporated with Austria-Hungary. The former of these grievances was soon redressed; the latter still rankles in the breast of Prince Nicholas. The 465 THE DULCIGNO DEMONSTRATION. Albanian towns of Gusinje and Plava were considered an adequate compensation for this bitter disappointment. The Porte now formally recognised the independence of Montenegro, which had practically existed for nearly five centuries, and the Principality took over a portion of the Turkish Debt corresponding to the area of Turkish territory received.

This settlement was not final. Even now, neither the amount of the Debt nor the exact frontier has been determined. The Albanian inhabitants of Plava and Gusinje, notorious for their turbulence, refused to be annexed to Montenegro. An "Albanian League" was formed to resist the cession, and fighting recommenced between the two nationalities. A compromise, suggested by Count Corti, the Italian Ambassador at Constantinople, failed; but, as a solution of the difficulty, Gusinje and Plava were restored to Turkey, while the district and harbour of Dulcigno were awarded to Montenegro. The Porte refused to consent; but a naval demonstration of the Powers, held before Dulcigno, at the suggestion of Great Britain, in September, 1880, prevailed upon it to yield. Montenegro at last had gained her coveted access to the sea with a seaboard of thirty miles. A rare example of political gratitude, she has never forgotten the service which England rendered her on this occasion, and the name of Gladstone is held in reverence by every shepherd of her remote mountains.

The fifteen years which have elapsed since then have witnessed the peaceable development of the country under an able and enlightened autocracy 31 466 MONTENEGRO UNDER NICHOLAS I. Prince Nicholas has succeeded in making himself a model to despotic rulers all over the world. He has broken down the prejudice of his subjects against highways, and a fine carriage road now connects Cattaro with Cetinje, and Cetinje with Nikšić, by way of Podgorica and Danilograd, while the circle is to be completed by continuing it from Nikšić to the sea at Risano. The fertile valley of the Zeta has thus been opened up, and the roads from Podgorica to the Lake of Skodra, and from Vir Bazar to Antivari, have put it in direct communication with the Montenegrin coast. It is in the eastern part of the Principality, the new Montenegro, that most remains to be done, for the splendid beech-forests which cover that region should, if made accessible by roads, prove a rich source of revenue. The acquisitions of the Berlin Treaty have, in fact, altered the character and must affect the future of the Principality. Montenegro is no longer a barren mountain shut off from the sea, without commerce, without timber, without pasture-lands. Whether its present frontier is as defensible as its old one is a question of opinion; but its material resources are much greater, while the Albanian subjects, whom it acquired at Podgorica and elsewhere, are valuable members of a community which is still indisposed to industrial pursuits. The Prince has done all he can to induce his warriors to follow the arts of peace without forgetting those of war. He has encouraged trade at his two ports by means of bounties, and has sent officials to study commercial life at Marseilles. During a recent journey abroad, he ordered each of his subjects to plant one vine, in 467 RELATIONS WITH AUSTRIA AND RUSSIA. order to increase the quantity of the red Montenegrin vintage, which is as yet insufficient for exportation He has cultivated tobacco with success, but even now his land is visited by severe famines. Meanwhile the warriors have not degenerated. The frontier commission, which was appointed to delimitate the Turco-Montenegrin frontier after the Berlin Treaty, gave rise, by its decisions, to a border quarrel between the Montenegrins and Albanians. The blood-feuds thus created—for that practice is not even yet extinct—enabled the mountaineers to "keep their hands in," and frequent encounters took place, which led to diplomatic negotiations with Turkey. At last there was a solemn reconciliation between the combatants. The parties met on the river Lim, and after a religious ceremony the leaders, advancing by couples to the bank with a stone in their hands, flung it into the stream. So the blood-feud was washed away.

With Austria the Prince's relations have been, since 1880, less friendly than with Turkey. He is now hemmed in by Austria on almost every side. An Austrian governor holds Bosnia and the Herzegovina, the cradle of his race; Austrian troops are stationed in the Sandjak of Novibazar, and thus cut him off from Servia; Austrian forts guard the approach from Cattaro, and Austrian diplomacy retains Spica. The enemy of the future is not at Constantinople, but Vienna. Russia has maintained her ancient sympathy with him. Alexander III. gave him a yacht and called him his "only friend"; Nicholas II. has sent him arms and instructors to teach their use, and two matrimonial alliances of his 468 MONTENEGRO UNDER NICHOLAS I. daughters have connected him with the Russian Imperial family. But to regard Montenegro as a mere outpost of Russia is to ignore her whole history and the independent character of her Prince and people.

The last few years have seen the establishment of the first Montenegrin public library and museum, which together with a theatre, where the Prince's plays are performed, occupies a building known as the Zetski Dom. In 1888 a new Code, the work of M. Bogošić, of the University of Odessa, which had been projected immediately after the war, was promulgated, and the manner in which the village justices of the Black Mountain interpret it has won the approval of its author. In July, 1893, the Principality celebrated with great rejoicings the four hundredth anniversary of the first Slavonic printing press, the foundation of which we have described, and on the 29th of the same month in the present year it will keep the bicentenary of the reigning dynasty.

The Montenegrins will then be able to look back upon a long and glorious history, while their ruler can justly boast that of the seven princes of the Petrović House he has done the most for his country.

THE END.