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From the mass of material accumulated in an eight months' tour, together with that collected on previous visits to Albania, it is hard to know what to select, and want of space has forced me to omit almost as much as I have put in, of folklore, custom, and tradition.
The land is one so little known to English travellers that I have given rather a comprehensive view of it as a whole than details of any special branch of study, and have reported what the people themselves said rather than put forward views of my own–which are but those of an outsider. "Of old sat Freedom on the heights" THE great river of life flows not evenly for all peoples.
Faithful, courageous, and hospitable, it is perhaps written in the Book of Fate that I shall see many of them no more, but "if a Man be Gracious and [Page] Courteous to Strangers, it shewes he is a Citizen of the Worlde; and that his Hearte is no Island, cut off from other Lands, but is a Continent that joynes them." And they will not have passed across my life in vain, if from this brief record some few readers learn a truer insight into the character of the mountain tribesman Lastly, I would say that, though I made very careful inquiry in many places before recording any custom, errors must have crept in, and for them I alone am responsible. For folk in such lands time has almost stood still.
The wanderer from the West stands awestruck amongst them, filled with vague memories of the cradle of his race, saying, "This did I do some thousands of years ago; thus did I lie in wait for mine enemy; so thought I and so acted I in the beginning of Time." High Albania is one of these corners.
The rayed ball or circle is not only a common pattern in silver, but is also a traditional tattoo pattern (see illustration). Prehistoric Bronze Ornament, Bosnia (Sarajevo Museum, Sjeversko, T. In the interior it made little progress till the fourth.
The history of Albania, a complicated tale of extreme interest, remains to be written–strange that it should be so.
Thousands of prehistoric graves exist in vast cemeteries throughout Bosnia and the Herzegovina–similar ones are found in Servia, Montenegro, and High Albania. In the fat plain lands of the peninsula the Romans left Latin dialects. The Latin dialect of Illyria, spoken universally in the coast towns in the Middle Ages, died out at the end of the nineteenth century, on the island of Veglio.
They yield many bronze and iron objects of the highest interest, for the patterns are still worn, or have been till recently, by the peasants of Bosnia, Servia, Albania, even of Bulgaria. Modern Silver Earring, of type common to Bosnia, Servia, Bulgaria, and Kosovo Vilayet. Christianity reached the Dalmatian coast as early as the first century.
Of outsiders' views on Balkan problems we are, most of us, tired. In places it crawls sluggishly through dull flats, and the monuments of a dim past moulder upon the banks that it has no force to overflow; in others it dashes forward torrentially, carving new beds, sweeping away old landmarks; or it breaks into backwaters apart from the main stream, and sags to and fro, choked with the flotsam and jetsam of all the ages.
For any success I may have obtained, I am indebted entirely to the kind and most generous help I met on the way from all and sundry–more especially to the Franciscans and Mission priests of the mountains, and to my guide Marko; but also to my hosts and guides of all races and religions. Such backwaters of life exist in many corners of Europe–but most of all in the Near East.