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man requested a celebrated Servian chieftain not to call himself a robber, he replied, I should be sorry indeed if there were in the world a greater robber than myself.'
In such a condition of the country a leader was required, and one was soon found. Lamartine heard the popular story about Kara-George, in circumstances unusually picturesque, and he has told it briefly and gracefully. He arrived in Servia in the autumn of 1833, and there terminated his far-famed Voyage en Orient." In his diary of September 23, 1833, he relates how, in 1804, at the end of long troubles, excited by Passwanagloŭ, Pasha of Widin, and which were suppressed by the force of the Janissaries, the Servians revolted against their tyrants. Three chiefs united together in the central part of Servia, which is called Scumadia, an immense district, covered with impenetrable forests. The first of these chiefs was Kara-George, and the two others Tanko- Kalish and Wasso-Tcharapitsh.† Kara-George had been a Heyduc. The Heyducs were in Servia what the Klephtes were in Greece-a race of independent and adventurous men, iving in inaccessible mountains, and descending, upon the least symptom of war, to take part in the conflicts of factions, and to keep up their habits of massacre and pillage. The whole country rose in insurrection, after the example of Scumadia; each canton chose for its chief the bravest and
most influential of its wayvodes; these, assembled in a council of war, conferred upon Kara-George the title of generalissimo. This title invested him with few prerogatives; but genius, in times of trouble, very quickly gives to a bold man the actual sovereignty. Danger never bargains with courage. Obedience is the instinct of people to audacity and talent.
George Petrovitch, surnamed Kara, or Zrin-that is to say, George the Black-was born about 1765, in a village of the district of Kragau-sewatz. His father was a labouring peasant and shepherd, called Petroni. Another tradition makes Kara-George be born in France, but it is without probability. Petroni carried his son, when an infant, into the mountains of Topoli. The insurrection of 1787, which Austria was to have supported, having terminated disastrously; the insurgents, pursued by the Turks and Bosniaks, were obliged to take to flight. Petroni, and George his son, who had fought with valour, assembled their flocks, in which their whole wealth consisted, and took the route towards the Saave. They were already on the banks of this river, about to seek safety in the Austrian territory, when the father of KaraGeorge, an old man, enfeebled by years, and more rooted than his son to the soil of his country, turned back to look upon the mountains where he left all the remembrances of his life, and felt his heart break at the idea of quitting
* Quarterly Review, vol. cxvii. p. 185. There is no doubt that the Servian priesthood became the deliberate partisans of the Heyducs, and that the Servian Church became the champion of their system of robbery. These so-called Christians are now claiming our support as their fellow-believers. The only excuse for them is that they are the dupes of Russian rapacity.
It would be an immense benefit both for author and reader, that some attempt should be made to fix by an authoritative standard, the spelling of proper names, both of men and of places. It is absurd that the same name should occur spelt in half a dozen different ways in the newspapers of the same day. Trouble and confusion are continually arising in consequence.
them for ever to pass amongst a strange people.
Kara-George, at first overcome by the regrets and prayers of his father, had sent back the servants and flocks; and, in devotion to the rigour of filial obedience, which is the second religion of the Orientals, he bowed his head, and was proceeding to resume in sadness the route of slavery, in order that Petroni might yet remain on the Servian soil, when the voices and shots of the Bosniaks announced the approach of their enemies, and the inevitable torments with which they would gloat their vengeance. "My father," said he, "decide; we have but an instant; arise, throw yourself into the river; my arm will support you, and my body will cover you from the balls of the Osmanlis. You will still live, and pass happier days on the territory of a friendly nation." But the inflexible old man resisted all his efforts, and determined to die on the land of his nativity. KaraGeorge, driven to despair, and unwilling that his father should fall into the hands of the Turks, fell on his knees, asked the old man's blessing, slew him with a pistolshot, and, jumping into the river, swam over to the Austrian dominions.
It was one of those deeds which leave their impress on a man's whole after-life. From this time forth George Petrovitch devoted his whole energies to the liberation of Servia.
When Hadji Mustafa became Pasha of Belgrade, the rayahs found in him a protector against the rapacious Janissaries, and George could safely return to Servia. He did so; but, soon after, the Janissaries seized Belgrade, killed the Pasha, and administered the government under four Dahis or Deys. A contest for the proprietorship of the soil ensued between the Janissaries
and the Spabis, and as usual the rayahs suffered on all hands. "Plundering and war-levies," says Ranke, "imprisonments and stranglings, were henceforth the order of the day."
Taking its rise in the Scumadia, or Forest-region, where KaraGeorge was in immediate command, the insurrection of 1804 spread with marvellous rapidity across the Kolubara and the Morava, till at length the whole population was in arms. The Turks were driven from every village and town, and forced to take shelter in the fortresses. The Servian guerilla bands were soon combined into a powerful army, and Kara-George was unanimously
elected to the command.
The Servians immediately attacked the fortresses, captured one after another, and at length laid siege to Belgrade. Turkish diplomacy here came to their aid. By order of the Porte, the Pasha of Bosnia joined the besieging army, declaring the Dahis to be enemies of the Sultan, not less than of the Servians. The city was taken, the usurping Dahis were beheaded, and Kara-George was invited to disperse his army, as if the whole object of the insurrection had been
But the Servians were not disposed to disband themselves without some satisfactory guarantee that the Turkish Government would not again reduce them to their previous condition. By the sword they had gained relief from oppression, and they were not prepared to lay down the sword until that relief had been fully secured. It was at this juncture that they took one of the most important steps in their modern history. They invoked aid from Russia. In August, 1804, they sent an embassy to St. Petersburg, asking the intervention of the Czar in favour of the demands which they were about to make upon the Porte,
and Russia promised to promote their cause at Constantinople.
The demands of the Servians were that the fortresses should in future be garrisoned by their own troops, and that the country should be relieved from all arrears of taxes. Deputies were sent to Constantinople to urge these demands, but without success, for the Sultan arrested them as rebels, and ordered the Servian army to be disarmed. A Turkish force was sent to the frontier, but it was defeated.
In the following years the war continued with unabated violence. The Servians gained numerous victories, and even made themselves masters of portions of Turkish territory. Turkish rule was now repudiated, and an independent government established under KaraGeorge.
The campaign of 1809 was not successful for the Servians, but is worthy of special note on another ground. It was undertaken by Kara-George for the same end, and with the same allies as the present war between Servia and Turkey. The Montenegrins joined in it, and it received Russian support. The dream of reviving the glory of the ancient Sclavonic kingdom of Stephen Duschan inspired the Slavs of 1809-the dream of profiting by the attempt to revive it inspired the Russian Czar of 1809. The same dreams are prompting the various actors and instigators of the war of 1876. Poets sang of the glorious enterprise, and their verse is among the traditions of the Slavs.*
In 1810, with assistance from
Russia, the Servians repulsed the Turks. In 1811 negotiations with the Porte were renewed, and in 1812 the war between Russia and Turkey was terminated by the treaty of Bucharest, in which, at the instance of Russia, the following clause affecting Servia was inserted:
"It has been deemed just, in consideration of the share borne by the Servians in this war, to come to a solemn agreement respecting their security. Their peace must not in any way be disturbed. The Sublime Porte will grant the Servians, on their petition, the same privileges which her subjects in the islands of the Archipelago, and in other parts, enjoy; and will moreover confer upon them a mark of her generosity by leaving the administration of their internal affairs to themselves, by imposing upon them moderate taxes, and receiving them only direct from them, and by making the regulations requisite to this end in an understanding with the Servian nation themselves."
Had the Russian army remained in Belgrade or on the Danube, it is possible that the troubles of Servia might have been brought to a close under this clause, vague and indefinite as it is. But Napoleon's celebrated march upon Moscow, and the subsequent wars between France and the Allied Powers, occupied the whole attention, and the whole available forces of Russia. The Porte saw its opportunity, raised disputes as to the interpretation of the treaty of Bucharest, and renewed its hostilities with Servia. The result was disastrous to the
"There is extant," says Ranke, "a spirited poeticaleulogium by the then Vladika of Montenegro, on the valour and unanimity of the Servians, before whose arms the Turkish mosques fell to the ground and the Hodscha gave way; and likewise on Kara-George, who again unfurled the banner of the Emperor Nemanjitsch, and whom the Vili adorn with wreaths of laurel; a reward not to be obtained by gold, but only by glorious deeds. The hero of the poem, however, is not satisfied with the success he has achieved, but determines to drive the Turks out of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and to form an alliance with Montenegro, which, situated in the midst of Turks and Catholics, has from remote times enjoyed freedom purchased by the blood of its people."
Slavs. Kara-George was unequal to the occasion, and "either because he foresaw the catastrophe inevitable, and wished to save himself for better days, or because his heroism was exhausted," he sought safety in flight to Austria. The Turks again possessed themselves of Servia, and resumed their old rule with, if possible, more severity than ever. Most of the Servian chiefs followed the example of their leader and left the country.
The subsequent fate of KaraGeorge was very sad, though perhaps not altogether undeserved. He fell a victim to the cruel and perfidious policy which he had so unscrupulously followed himself, and which has ever been an infamous characteristic of Servian chiefs and patriots. It was a lamentable illustration of a lamentable policy that the great chief, who-notwithstanding all his vices and crimeswas the man who laid the foundation of Servian independence, should perish by the assassin hand of a Servian, while to make the crime more odious and revolting, it was instigated by Milosch, and executed by an old Servian officer in whom Kara-George reposed entire confidence, and whose hospitality he was then sharing!
In 1816, when Kara-George was an exile in Austria, and Milosch was craftily scheming to secure his own ascendancy in Servia, a conspiracy was hatched by outside revolutionary societies such as have been so active of late-to excite a general revolt of all the Christians against the Ottoman rule.
The conspirators naturally sought the aid of Kara-George. He was the popular idol-the scourge and terror of the Turk, and his name alone was a tower of strength. By engaging him to head a revolt in Servia, the greater portion of the disposable Turkish forces would be
at once employed, and the conspirators calculated on this to carry out their insurrectionary designs in other provinces with greater chance of success.
Then about sixty years of age, Kara-George lent too ready an ear to the seductive flatteries of the conspirators. He rashly abandoned the protection of Austrian territory, entered Servia in disguise, placed himself in confidential communication with Vnitza, an old and favourite officer, and in conjunction with him zealously set about organizing a general insurrection.
But Kara-George was no longer the ruling mind in Servia-his own creature, Milosch, had supplanted him, Kara had warmed in his bosom the viper that stung him to death. It did not suit the deep and selfish designs of Milosch that a revolt should then take place in Servia. He knew that should there be a revolt, Kara-George would be unanimously proclaimed commander-in-chief, but he was astute enough to conclude that the elements of a successful revolt did not then exist, as formerly, and that his wisest policy was to remain on friendly terms with the Turk.
Accordingly Milosch, this socalled great Servian patriot, but in truth a detestable assassin, having become acquainted with the designs of the conspirators, placed himself in communication with the Turkish Pasha who commanded in Belgrade.
Milosch stated that he apprehended a revolt was being organized, but the Turk, in plain and blunt honesty, in effect said-If a revolt is on foot, you know all about it, and if a revolt takes place, all the concessions heretofore made to Servia will be cancelled.
In this emergency, Milosch the infamous, whose master passion was unscrupulous selfishness, determined to sacrifice his great chief, Kara-George, rather than jeopardize
his own position. He had admitted a knowledge of Kara-George being in Servia, and as a test of his sincerity the Pasha of Belgrade demanded his head. Milosch did not hesitate. The Christian did not shrink from the crime, which the Turk applauded-natural, it is presumed in the Turk, but how terrible, yet how common, in the Christian!
Milosch communicated Vnitza, the old officer of KaraGeorge, with whom he was staying at the time. Having explained matters to Vnitza, he ended by stating that "the head of KaraGeorge was wanted, and if not sent his own should answer!"
Milosch, the Christian, was quite capable of satisfying the demands of the Turk. It was his policy at the time to conciliate the Turk, and sacrifice all friends to his own selfish purposes. In accordance therefore with the heavenly precepts that so gloriously distinguish "Eastern Christians," Milosch informed Vnitza that if he did not send him the head of Kara-George his own should answer.
Shakspeare tells us of the "deep damnation of the taking off" of Duncan, who was Macbeth's guest, besides his sovereign; but what infamy could surpass that of Milosch, in procuring the assassination of the man who gave the first impulse to Servian independence?
Equally infamous with Milosch, Vnitza, the trusted host of KaraGeorge, did not hesitate for a moment. He murdered him when asleep, chopped off his head, put it in a little pickle barrel, and duly conveyed it to Milosch, who is hailed by ignorant partisan writers as a great patriot!
With respect to the history of Milosch Obrenovitsch, who so infamously betrayed and sacrificed
Kara-George, it is necessary to observe that, endowed with a savage bravery, and great natural astuteness, he rose from the humble position of a swine-herd, joined the ranks of Kara-George and fought his way upwards. When Kara-George, as already related, abandoned the struggle against Turkey as hopeless, and sought the protection, with most of his followers, of Austrian territory, Milosch collecting a faithful band, retired to the fastnesses of the southern frontier mountains, and held the Turks at bay. He thus became the sole representative of the Servian insurrection, and was thrust, as it were, into the foremost position, of which he had the natural craft to take advantage.
Milosch was selfish, cruel, and thoroughly unprincipled. His talents were those of the unscrupulous diplomatist rather than of the honest soldier. Yet his craft was destined to gain for Servia that liberty which Kara-George had taught him should be won by the sword, but had himself failed to secure and establish.
The small band of followers that Milosch commanded was unable to meet the Turks, and dispersed on their approach. But Milosch was the only native chief with whom the conquerors could treat, and they offered him the same rank under the Turkish Government as he had held under that of Kara-George, on condition that he would use his influence to secure the submission of his countrymen to the new rule. He agreed to those terms, and was appointed Grand Knes of Rudnik, Poscheja, and Kragujevatz.*
By the efforts of Milosch, apparent tranquillity was speedily restored. He even took the field in person to suppress a revolt which occurred in the provinces of which