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The ancient honor code
Byron’s ‘Letters and Journals’ Volume 1: 12 November 1809, PREVESA - ALBANIALetter to his Mother
My Dear Mother, I have been some time in Turkey: this place is on the coast, but I have traversed the interior of the province of Albania on the visit to the Pascha. I left Malta … on the 21st of September and arrived in eight days at Prevesa. I thence have been about 150 miles, as far as Tepeleen, his Highness’s country palace, where I stayed three days. The name of the Pascha is Ali and he is considered a man of the first abilities: he governs the whole of Albania (the ancient Illyricum), Epirus, and part of Macedonia. His son Vely pascha … governs Morea, and has great influence in Egypt … .When I reached Yanina, the capital, after a journey of three days over the mountains, through a country of the most picturesque beauty, I found that Ali Pascha was in Illyricum … He had heard that an Englishman of rank was in his dominions, and had left orders in Yanina with the comandant to provide a house, and supply me with every kind of necesseties, gratis … I have not been permitted to pay for a single article of household consumption… (page 275)I shall never forget entering Tepeleen … The Albanians, in their dresses (the most magnificient in the world, consisting of a long white kilt, gold-worked cloak, crimson velvet gold-laced jacket and waistcoat, silver-mounted pistols and daggers)…The next day I was introduced to Ali Pascha (p.276), his highness is sixty years old, very fat, and not tall, but with a fine face, light blue eyes, and a white beard; his manner is very kind … he called my Albanian soldier who attends me, and told him to protect me at all hazard; his name is Veseliu, and, like all the Albanians, he is brave, rigidly honest, and faithful; but they are cruel, though not treacherous, and have several vices but no meannesses. They are, perhaps, the most beautiful race, in point of countenance, in the world... (p.277)I could tell you I know not how many incidents that I think would amuse you, but they crowd on my mind as much as they would swell my paper, and I can neither arrange them in the one nor put them down on the other, except in the greatest confusion. I like the Albanians much; they are not all Turks, some tribes are Christians. But their religion makes little difference in their manner or conduct… I lived on my route, two days at once, and three days again, in a barrack at Salora …, I have had nothing stolen, and was always welcome to their provision and milk. Not a week ago an Albanian chief … after helping us out of the Turkish galley, feeding us, and lodging my suite, consisting of Fletcher, a Greek, two Athenians, a Greek priest and my companion, Mr. Hobhouse, refused any compensation … and when I pressed him to accept a few sequins, ‘No’, he replied; ‘I wish you to love me, not to pay me’
The Gueghes are thickset and muscular, the Toskes slender and agile, both strong, vigorous, and perhaps the finest race in Europe.""The characteristics common to both people are love of independence, love of war, a revengual spirit, mering into ferocity.""They are wild, plundering, indefatigable soldiers, selling their services and their blood to those who pay them highest; but lively, gay, adventurous, sober, generous and heroic so soon as it concerns the defence of their country, their tribe, or their family.""They are an iron race, as hard as the rocks they inhabit".
These are his words




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