SERBIA IN LIGHT AND DARKNESS - by St. Nikolai of Ohrid and Zica
The aim of this volume is to give to the English-speaking people some glimpses into the past struggles, sufferings and hopes of the Serbian nation. I have tried to describe the Serbian life in light, in its peace, its peaceful work, its songs and prayers; in darkness, in its slavery, its sins, its resistance to evil and battle for freedom.
It is only the peoples which suffer themselves that can understand and sympathise deeply with the Serbian soul. I dedicate, therefore, the following pages to all those who suffer much in these times, and whose understandings are enlarged and human sympathies deepened by sufferings.
I will take this opportunity of expressing my warm and respectful thanks to His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury for his kind assistance and generous commendation of my work in England.
My gratitude is due to the Rev. G.K.A. Bell and Dr. E. Marion Cox for their help in the revision of these pages.
London, April, 1916.
BY THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY.
The presence of Father Nicholai Velimirovic in England during the last few months has brought to the many circles with which he has been in touch a new message and appeal enforced by a personality evoking an appreciation which glows more warmly the better he is known. But this little book is more than the revelation of a personality. It will be to many people the introduction to a new range of interest and of thought. He would be a bold man who would endeavour at present to limit or even to define what may be the place which the Serbia of coming years may hold in Eastern Europe as a link between peoples who have been widely sundered and between forces both religious and secular which for their right understanding have needed an interpreter. Of recent days the sculpture and the literature of Serbia have been brought to our doors, and England's admiration for both has drawn the two countries more closely together in a common struggle for the ideals to which that art and literature have sought to give expression. It is not, I think, untrue to say that to the average English home this unveiling of Serbia has been an altogether new experience. Father Nicholai's book will help to give to the revelation a lasting place in their minds, their hopes and their prayers.
LAMBETH, Easter, 1916.
LECTURES ON SERBIA
ENGLAND AND SERBIA.
Delivered for the first time in the Chapter House of Canterbury Cathedral. Chairman: the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury.
THE SIGN OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND.
YOUR GRACE, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,
To come to Canterbury, to visit this Sion of the Church of England, that has been my dream since my fourteenth year, when I for the first time was told of what a spiritual work and of what an immortal glory this place has been the home. I dreamed a beautiful dream of hope to come here silently, to let every man, every house and every brick of the houses silently teach me, and, after having learned many fair and useful things, to return silently and thankfully home. Unfortunately I cannot now be a silent and contemplative pupil in this place, as I desired to be, but I must speak, forced by the time in which we are living and suffering. I will speak in order not to teach you, but to thank you. And I have to thank you much in the name of the Serbian nation and in my own name.
I thank you that you are so mindful of Serbia, of a poor and suffering country that failed so much in many respects, but never failed in admiration of the English character and civilisation. From central European civilisation we received a small light and a great shadow. From English civilisation we got—I dare say it—the light only. There is no doubt that English civilisation, being a great light, must have its shadow also, but our eyes, blinded by the great light, did not see the dark side of this light.
I thank you that you gave us Shakespeare, who is the second Bible for the world; and Milton the divine, and Newton and Herschel, the friends of the stars; and Wellington and Nelson, the fearless conquerors of the ambitious tyrant of the world; and Stephenson, the great inventor of the railway and the great annihilator of distance between man and man; and Carlyle, the enthusiastic apostle of work and hope; and Dickens, the advocate of the humble and poor; and Darwin, the ingenious revealer of brotherly unity of man and nature; and Ruskin, the splendid interpreter of beauty and truth; and Gladstone, the most accomplished type of a humane statesman; and Bishop Westcott and Cardinal Newman, the illuminated brains and warm hearts. No, I never will finish if I undertake to enumerate all the illustrious names which are known in Serbia as well as in England, and which would be preserved in their integrity in Serbia even if this island should sink under the waters.
I have to thank you for many sacrifices that the people of this country have made for Serbia during the present world-struggle. Many of the English nurses and doctors died in Serbia in trying courageously to save Serbian lives in the time of typhus-devastation. They lost their own lives saving ours, and I hope in losing their lives for their suffering neighbours they have found better ones. Their work will never be forgotten and their tombs will be respected as relics among us Serbs. Besides, Great Britain also sent military help for Serbia. It was dictated to Great Britain by the highest strategic reasons to send troops to Serbia, to the Danube, in order to stop the Germans there, to hinder their junction with the Bulgars, to annihilate all their plans and dreams regarding the East, to defend Serbia not only as Serbia, but as the gate of Egypt and India, and so to protect in the proper place and in the most efficacious manner her oriental Dominions. But seemingly England sent her troops to Serbia more to protect her honour than her Dominions, more to help Serbia than to defend Egypt and India. The number of these troops and the time when they arrived in Serbia indicate that. Hundreds of miles the Serbs had been driven back by the enemy before the British forces reached the Serbo-Greek frontier. But still they reached the Serbian land, they fought on Serbian soil and shed their noble blood defending that soil. Serbia will rather forget herself than the English lives sacrificed for her in such a catastrophic moment of her history.
England is THE GREATEST EMPIRE OF THE WORLD, not only at the present time, but since the beginning of human history. Neither the artificial combination of Alexander of Macedonia nor the ancient Roman Empire, neither Spain of Charles V. nor Napoleon's ephemeral dominion were nearly so great as the British Empire of to-day. Never has a nation possessed so much sea and so much land as the British. This wonderful Empire includes people of every race, countries of every climate, human societies of every degree of civilisation, almost all kinds of minerals, plants and animals, lakes and rivers, mountains and forests. The most ancient civilisations of Egypt, India and the Mediterranean Islands are brought together in conjunction under the same rule as the new worlds, like South Africa, Canada and Australasia. The communication between the zones of the everlasting snow and those of the everlasting hot sun is established in perfection. The countries and peoples which were for thousands of years in contact with each other only through dreams are now in real contact through business, trade, science, art, and through common sufferings and hopes.
Still it might be asked: Has such a great body indeed an aim? Short-sighted people, who are ready at once with a reply on any question, will say: The only aim of this great Empire is the exploitation of every country and every body by the English with the pretext of civilisation. So may think some English too. What can we say about THE AIM OF THE GREATEST EMPIRE? The truth is that the real aim of this Empire is larger than the selfishness of any person or of any nation. The real aim is:
First, to exchange the material products of the countries, and so to create a greater comfort for the people that live in them. In the wildest islands in the Pacific you can find—I will mention only little things—the same fine sofas, fireplaces, draperies, modern kitchens, piano and library, electric light and cablegrams, as in London. And in foggy and smoky London you can have all the African fruits, Australian wine and wool, Canadian metals and wood, Indian beasts and African ivory.
Second, to exchange the spiritual good of races and nations. The wisdom of the world is not concentrated in the brains of any single nation. Every nation has some original experiences of its own about this life. The Eskimos have certainly something new to say to the people from the plains of the Ganges and the Nile. And these people, these descendants, of Buddha and Rameses, as well as the descendants of Moses and Hamurrabai, have things to say that never were thought possible in the countries of perpetual snow and ice in Northern Canada. Such is of the greatest profit for science, religion, ethics, sociology, art. Darwin and Spencer, with their immense scientific experiences, were possible only in such a world-Empire as the English. The words of Tagore, the Indian thinker, can be heard to-day without great delay on the Atlantic and Pacific, as well as in India. When a genius is born in New Zealand his message reaches the world, and his glory cannot be concealed in the southern hemisphere.
Third: this Empire is an experiment in the realisation of human brotherhood. I repeat, through the medium of this Empire man is brought near to man, and nation to nation, and race to race. It was very difficult in the ancient Roman Empire to become civis Romanus, because this Empire was founded upon the Pagan philosophy of lords and servants. It is, on the contrary, very easy in the British Empire of to-day to become a British citizen, because the British Empire is founded upon the Christian philosophy of democratic equality and brotherhood. All is not accomplished, but I say it is an experiment, and a good one; a prophecy, and a hopeful one.
Fourth: Great Britain is destined by Providence to be a great educator of nations. That is her part in history. She has democracy and tradition—two things that are considered everywhere as incongruous—and therefore she is capable of understanding everybody and of teaching and leading everybody. She is the nurse for the sick people of the East; she is the schoolmaster for the rough people of the wild isolated islands; she is the tamer of the cannibals and the guide of the civilised; she inspires, vivifies, unites and guides; she equalises; she Christianises.
I read the other day a German menacing song:
We are going, we are going to see
Who will henceforth govern the world—
England or God?
I can say certainly—God. He will govern the world. But we can say to-day, though in due humility: Gesta Dei per Britannos. Would you know assuredly through which of the powerful nations God is working to-day? Ask only which of these nations is most the champion of the rights of the small and poor nations, and you will find out the truth. For from the beginning of the world-history all the leading religions and philosophies called the great and powerful to protect the poor and powerless. The record of this recommendation belongs doubtless to the Christian religion. The suggestion of all the religions was like this: it is impossible to be proud and selfish under the eyes of God. The suggestion of the Christian religion is: Under the eyes of God the more you have the more you must give, and the more you give the more you have; and if you even give your life for men, you will find a better life in God.
WHAT IS SERBIA THEN?
If we Serbs look upon the English power on this planet, and then look and see our own less than modest place on the globe, we must unwillingly exclaim in the words of the Psalmist: O Lord, what is man, that thou art mindful of him?—or with a little change: O England, what is Serbia, that thou art mindful of her? And the poor sons of Serbia, that thou visitest them?
A small strip of land with five million inhabitants and without seaboard. A peasant people devoted to agriculture and to nature, to the forest and cattle, to songs and tales. A past full of glory, of blood and sins. A present full of tears, pains and hopes. A king carried on a stretcher through the rocky desert of Albania,—a loyal parliament which refused to make a separate peace with the enemy even in the darkest hour of national tragedy,—an honest government which did everything possible to save the country, and which, when the country was nearly conquered, exclaimed through its President: "It is better to die in beauty than to live in shame!"—a fearless army, which for three years only knew victory, now watching in snow on the mountains of Montenegro and Albania, and lodging in the dens of wolves and eagles. Another army of old men, of women and children, fleeing away from death and rushing to death. Shall I say that is Serbia?
No: that is only a part of Serbia.
You have heard talk of Greater Serbia. I personally think that Serbia can never be greater than in this solemn hour of her supreme suffering, in which all the civilised world in both hemispheres trembles because of her catastrophe and sympathises with her. I personally love my little country just because it is so little; and just because its deeds are greater than its size. I am not sure that I should love it so much should it happen to become territorially so big as Spain or Italy. But I cannot help it; I must say that our Irridentists in Austro-Hungary are more numerous than our population in Serbia. Eight millions of our Serbo-Croat and Slovene brothers have been looking towards Serbia as towards their Piedmont, waiting their salvation from Serbia, as Alsace-Lorraine is waiting its salvation from France, and being proud of Serbia as all slaves are proud of their free kinsmen. All the slaves from Isonzo to Scutari are groaning under the yoke of an inhuman Austro-Magyar regime, and are singing of Serbia as their redeemer from chains and shame. Little Serbia has been conscious of her great historic task, to liberate and unite all the Southern-Slavs in one independent being; therefore she, with supreme effort, collected all her forces to fulfil her task and her duty, and so to respond to the vital hopes of her brethren.
Shall I say that is Serbia?
No; that is only physical Serbia.
But there is a soul of Serbia.
For five hundred years the Serbian soul suffered and believed. Suffering sometimes breaks the belief. But the Serbian suffering strengthened the belief of the Serbian people. With belief came hope, with hope strength; and so the Serbs endured the hardest and darkest slavery ever recorded in history, not so much by their physical strength as by the strength of their soul. Besides, it was a great temptation for the Serbs to abandon the Christian faith and to accept the faith of the Crescent. Under this condition only, the Turks promised freedom to the Serbs and equal rights. Several of the aristocratic families could not resist this temptation and became renegade to the faith of their ancestors in order to save their lives. But the mass of the people fearlessly continued to be faithful to the belief in the Cross.
Allow me to give you only a few examples of the
ACTIVITY OF THE SERBIAN SOUL
in the time when the Serbian body was in chains. Although the Serbian body was enslaved, the Serbian soul was still free and active. Here are some proverbs made during the time of slavery and abasement of the body:
It is better not to be born than to misuse life.
The sun sees everything and keeps silent; the foolish man knows nothing and still talks.
Why does God send suffering to the best of His children? Because the weak cannot endure it.
The tears of the weak are accusations of the strong; the tears of the poor are accusations of the rich; the tears of the righteous will be transformed into diamonds under the throne of God.
A king asks another king: How many people do you govern? But if God speaks to a king, He asks: How many people are you helping?
Even the dry leaves cry out when trodden on; why should not the trodden man cry out?
It is better to give life than to take life. If you give life, you do what God does; if you take life, you do what Satan does.
Some men are better than others, but there is no man so good as God and no one so bad as the devil.
Some people are dressed in silk and satin, and others are dressed in rags. Very often that is the only difference between man and man.
There is a great difference between a learned man and a good man. The learned man can do good, but the good man will do good. The learned man can build the world up, but can destroy it too; the good man can only build it up.
A man's judgment lasts as long as a man's life, but God's judgment lasts as long as God.
It is better to dress the soul in silk and the body in rags than the reverse.
If life does not mean work, then life is worth nothing.
Work and virtue are sisters, as well as idleness and vice.
Work and prayer are two eyes on the same face. The man who works only, without praying, has one eye only; and the man who prays without working only has one eye too. The man who neither works nor prays has no eyes, and walks in darkness.
Neither be boastful of life nor fearful of death. Death is conditioned by life, and life by death.
You can kill me, but my son will live; you can kill my son, but my soul will live.
The Kingdom of God is coming as quietly as the moonlight, and it will come fully when men learn not to live in convulsions and not to die in convulsions.
There are only two nations upon the earth: that which weeps and that which laughs.
Now I would like to indicate slightly what
The English Political Interests in Serbia
are. Little as she may seem, democratic Serbia is still the greatest moral factor in the big Slav world. She is admired by other subjugated Slavs because she succeeded without anybody's help in freeing herself. She is envied by all other Slavs, from near and from far, as well as from other neighbouring nations, because of her nearly perfect democracy. Serbia is the only democratic state among the four independent Slav states (Russia, Montenegro, Bulgaria). And just in this terrible war it became clear to all the world that Serbia was the only democratic state in the Near East. Turkey is governed by an oligarchy, Bulgaria by a German despot, Greece by a wilful king whose patriotism is overshadowed by his nepotism, Roumania is ruled more by the wish of the landlords (boyars) and court than by the wish of the people. I will say nothing about the very profanation of democracy in the dark realm of the Hapsburgs.
Serbia not only means a democratic state, but a democratic nation; that is to say, that not only are the Serbian institutions (including the church also) democratic, but the spirit of the whole of the nation is democratic. After all, this democratic spirit of Serbia must be victorious in the Balkans as well as in the Slav world.
You know that England's glory has always been to stand as the champion of democracy. England's best interests in the Near East now more than ever imperatively require her to support democratic Serbia against her anti-democratic enemies. How different Serbia is from all her neighbours was clearly proved just by this war. She is alone in the Near East fighting on the side of the democratic England and France against Prussian militarism and autocracy. That does not happen accidentally, but because of the Serbian democratic spirit. This spirit is very attractive for all the Slavs who are under the Austro-Hungarian rule. Many of them are looking towards powerful Russia to liberate them (Poles, Bohemians, Ruthenes, Slovaks). Yet they do not wish only Freedom, but Freedom and Democracy together. Therefore they are looking with one eye towards Russian power and with another towards Serbian democracy. It is clear that the English victory over the Germans must have as the first consequence the liberation of all the slaves in Europe. In this case all the Southern Slav people in Austro-Hungary—Serbs, Croats and Slovenes—wish to be one unit with democratic Serbia, as it was formulated lately by the Southern-Slav Committee in London, and all the others—Poles, Bohemians, Ruthenes and Slovaks—wish to be like democratic Serbia. Consequently Serbia is a kernel, a nucleus of a greater Southern-Slav state, and at the same time the inspiring and revolutionising power for all the down-trodden Slavs. This kernel for five hundred years was the little, but never subjugated, Montenegro, but lately the Piedmontal role has been transferred to Serbia.
The English political interest in the future Greater Serbia, or Yougoslavija, is of the first importance. The Southern-Slav state will number about fourteen millions of inhabitants. This state will be the very gate of the East. Yet Serbia is not only the nucleus of the united Southern Slavdom, but the very nucleus of a Balkan Federation also, in which the Greco-Roumanian element should be a good balance to the Slav element in it. I repeat I like my little country just because it is so comparatively little. But by necessity it is to become much larger. By necessity the whole of the Serbian race is to be freed and united. By necessity the Southern-Slav state and the Balkan Federation are to be realised. Some of our neighbours may be against that, but all their opposing effort will be in vain. Every intrigue against the Serbian ideals of freedom and unity cannot effect a suppression, but only a short prolongation of the period of its realisation. Behold, the time has come, the fruit has grown ripe. All the Serbian race has now been plunged into slavery. United to-day in slavery, they have now only one wish—to be united to-morrow in Freedom.
England is bound to Russia more by a political or military treaty, but she is bound to Serbia, and through Serbia with all other democratic Slav worlds more by spirit—just by this democratic spirit. This spirit which divides the Slav world into two different camps, unites England with one of them,—with the democratic camp, the champion of which has been Serbia. A very curious spirit dwells in the little Serbian body, a very curious and great spirit, which will, I am sure, give form to the future Balkans as well as to the future democratic Slavdom. And be sure this spirit is rather panhumanistic than panslavistic.
But after all, when I think of 400 million inhabitants of the British Empire and remember such a poor topic, as my country, about which I am just speaking, I must cry again: England, what is Serbia, that thou art mindful of her? And the poor sons of Serbia, that thou visitest them?
Still, Serbia is an admirer and friend of England, and that is a good reason why England should look sympathetically towards little Serbia. There is a Serbian proverb: "A wise lion seeks friends not only among the lions, but among the bees too." Of course Serbia needs England much more than England needs Serbia. I will not now dwell upon Serbia's material needs; I will tell you about what are Serbia's spiritual needs.
To begin with the children, the Serbian children need good education. Our schools give more knowledge than strength of character and a humane cultivated will. Our national poetry and history have educated our people much better than modern science did. Still we perceive that science is necessary for a good education in our times. Therefore we very much need to consult England in this respect. We well know how English education is estimated all over the world. England can help us much to educate the new Serbian generations in the best way, because such a country as Serbia deserves indeed a noble and worthy future in which to live. Don't you agree with me? Only I am afraid that I am speaking of the best education of the Serbian children just at this moment when it were perhaps more suitable to speak about the best way to save them from hunger, pain and death.
The Serbian women need to develop their capacities more for social work, so as to take a more important part in the organisation and cultivation of their lives. The past of our women consisted in singing, weaving and weeping. I am sure that the English women, whose sympathy for Serbia in these tragic days will remain memorable for ever,—I am sure that after this war they will come to Serbia and help their poor sisters over there, teaching them and enlightening them. Yet I am again afraid to dwell longer upon the topic of the enlightenment of the Serbian mothers at the very moment when those mothers with their sons and daughters, trodden down by the Prussian boot, look towards Heaven and silently confess their sins, preparing themselves for a cruel death.
What do the Serbian men need? They need civilisation, or in other words: the Bible, science, art. But they do not need the Bible of killing from Germany, nor the science of killing and the art of killing from Germany. They do not want the civilisation which means the large and skilful manufacture of instruments of killing. They want the Bible which makes good, and science which makes bright, and art which makes godlike. Therefore the men of Serbia are now looking so eagerly towards England and her civilisation. More English civilisation in our country, more England in Serbia—that is our great spiritual need!
My illustrious chairman, the Most Reverend Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote recently in one of his books: "We are everywhere trying in these later years to understand and to alleviate human sorrow." Yes, you are. We Serbians feel your sorrows too. "To understand and to alleviate human sorrow." That is the divine purpose of a humane civilisation. That is the final aim of our terrestrial education—to understand each other, and to support each other.
Do you think that it is difficult for a rich nation as well as for a rich man to come into the kingdom of Heaven? I am a little embarrassed seeing rich England now coming into this kingdom. Yet she is coming into the kingdom of God, not because she is rich, but because she being powerful humiliated herself, took the cross and went to suffer for the poor and sorely stricken in this world. She humiliated herself going to support Belgium; she humiliates herself hurrying to support Serbia; she humiliates herself mourning so much for Armenia. But her humiliation is the best proof of her true Christianity, as her fighting and suffering of to-day is the very fighting and suffering for Christianity. Do not be afraid of humiliation, citizens of the greatest Empire of the world; behold, the humiliation is the very condition of real glory and real greatness! For more than a thousand years, from this place has been preached the Only Son of God, whose way to Glory, Greatness and Divinity was through painful humiliation.
Do persist and do not weary in this way,—it will bring your dear country nearer to God. Do persist in humiliation,—it will be the most durable foundation of a glorious young England. Do persist in supporting oppressed and poor Serbia,—it will be rewarded hundredfold to your children and to the children of your children. Do persist in doing good, that is my final word to you, my enlightened brethren and sisters. And when I say do persist in good, I repeat only what for nine hundred years has been preached within these walls by thousands and thousands of servants of Christ, either well-known or unknown, but all more worthy than I am.
SERBIA FOR CROSS AND FREEDOM.
Delivered for the first time in the Church of the Holy Trinity, Stroud Green, London.
I was a citizen of a small country called Serbia, and I am still a citizen of a great country called The Universe. In my first fatherland there is now no other light except the brightness of tears. But in my second fatherland there is always the splendid and silent light of the sun. My little country is now a great tear-drop, a shining and silent tear-drop. A gentleman from South Africa wrote to me the other day and asked about my country—"why it is so shining"? I replied: Just because it is now transformed into a big tear-drop, therefore it is so shining that even you from South Africa can see its splendour. I come as an echo of the weeping splendour of my country which is now plunged into the worst slavery. I come as a voice beyond the grave to your famous island, brethren and sisters, not to accuse, not to complain, but to say by what invisible bonds my country is tied to yours. I will say at once, plainly and simply—by common beliefs and common hopes.
At the time when Saint Patrick preached Christ's Gospel in heathen Ireland, the Serbs were heathen as well. Their gods, with Perun at the head, corresponded to Wothan and his divine colleagues, whose names are recalled in your names of the days of the week still.
About the time when Saint Augustine came over here, met Queen Bertha and baptised King Ethelbert in Saint Martin's Church in Canterbury, the conversion of the heathen Serbs had made good progress.
In the time of Alfred the Great, who was "the most complete embodiment of all that is great, all that is lovable in the English temper," as an English historian praises him so justly, the Serbs received God's word in their own language from the Slav apostles, Cyril and Methodius, and soon afterwards the Christian faith was officially introduced and established among them.
In the time of the Conquest, when the Norman and Danish kings disputed the possession of England, the Serbian provinces were fought over by the Greek, Bulgar and Avar rulers. But the belief in Christ grew more and more uninterruptedly.
When Richard the Lion-hearted sailed from England to the Holy Land, not to fight for the national existence, as we to-day speak of it, but to fight for the most unselfish and idealistic aim, for Cross and Christian Freedom, Serbia was already opening a great epoch of physical as well as spiritual strength. Our king Nemania, the founder of a dynasty which ruled in Serbia for nearly 300 years, had heard tales and songs about the English king with the lion's heart, and had helped the same cause, the cause of the Crusades, very much. His son, Saint Sava, organised the Christian Church wonderfully, and wonderfully he inspired the educational and scholarly work in the state created by his father. This Saint Sava, the Archbishop of Serbia, after he had travelled all over Serbia, Greece and Bulgaria, preaching the Gospel of the Son of God, died in Bulgaria. His body was transferred to and buried in a monastery in Herzegovina. Afterwards, in times of national hardships and slavery, great pilgrimages took place to the grave of the Saint, which became the comforting and inspiring centre for the oppressed nation; the Turks destroyed the tomb, carried the body over to Belgrade and burnt it, in order to lessen the Serbian national and religious enthusiasm. The result was just the contrary. On the very same place where Saint Sava's body was burnt there is now a Saint Sava's chapel; close to this chapel a new Saint Sava's seminary is to be erected, and also Saint Sava's cathedral of Belgrade. And over all there is an acknowledged protection of Saint Sava by all the Serbian churches and schools, and a unifying spirit of Saint Sava for all the Serbian nation.
Saint Sava's belief was the same as the belief of Saint Patrick and Saint Augustine. His hopes were the same as theirs too. He believed in the one saving Gospel of Christ, as they did. He hoped men could be educated by this divine Gospel, to be heroic in suffering and pure and holy in the enjoyments of life, just as the great saints of this island doubtless hoped and worked.
THE BELIEF AND HOPES OF THE SERBIAN KINGS
represented almost throughout our history the model of the true religious spirit and of the hopeful optimism of the nation. That can be said especially for the kings since Saint Sava's time until the definite conquest of Serbia by the Sultans, i.e. since Richard and John's time until the time of the Black Prince and Wycliffe, and from the Black Prince and Wycliffe till the end of the Wars of the Roses in England. Our kings did what all the kings in the world do; they fought and ruled, they ate and drank, and danced and played, and still the majority of them took monastic vows and died in solitude and asceticism, and a great part of them were recognised by the people as saints and invoked by the oppressed in the dark times as the advocates of national justice, before God. They built beautiful churches and monasteries in the towns and forests. They strove always to build the "Houses of God" more solid and more costly than their own houses. Their castles and palaces they built to their own glory, and their pleasures no longer exist, but the churches they built to the glory of God still exist. In these churches our pious kings of old prayed; in these churches afterwards our hard oppressed people wept during the time of slavery; in these "Houses of God" the fanatic Turks enclosed their cattle, their goats and sheep, their horses and donkeys, thus abasing and ridiculing our sanctuaries. But the more these sanctuaries have been abased and ridiculed by the enemy, the more they have been respected and adored by the people.
We Serbs cannot complain that our Middle Ages were as dark as the people in Europe are accustomed to represent their own. During the three hundred years of the reign of Neniania's dynasty not one of our kings was killed. The importance of this fact only the historian can understand who knows well the history of our neighbours, the Byzantines and Venetians of that time, who in many other respects had been our teachers. We learnt many useful as well as perilous things from them, but we did not learn their art of poisoning kings, of torturing them, suffocating them, making them blind, cutting out their tongues, etc. It is only in modern times that we committed the great sins of the Middle Ages, namely, killing our kings and making civil wars. During the last hundred years we killed only three of our kings: Karageorge, Michael and Alexander. In modern times three have been killed in a hundred years, and in the Middle Ages not one in three hundred years!—a fact as unusual as curious. But you should remember that our modern times in Serbia began after five hundred years of a bloody slavery and dark education under Turkish tyranny.
I mention our great sins not in order to excuse but to accuse my people. I will not even accuse the Turks, our rulers and educators during five hundred years. Our ancestors were accustomed to see human blood spilt every day. They were accustomed to hear about strangled sultans and viziers and pashas. And, besides, they lived through the record of all the crimes ever written in history; the Turks arranged a horrible bloody bath in executing their plan of killing all the leaders and priests among the Serbs! It happened only a hundred years ago, in the lifetime of Chateaubriand and Wordsworth, in the time of Pitt and Burke, in the time of your strenuous mission work among the cannibals. Our ancestors lived in blood and walked in blood. Our five hundred years' long slavery had only two colours—red and black.
And yet I will not accuse the Turks but ourselves. Neither our kings of old, nor our ancestors before the enslavement set us the example of killing kings. Rather the strangers that conquered and ruled our country set us such an example. But it is our fault for having followed an abominable example like that. I confess our sins before you, and pray: Forgive us, good brothers! Forgive us, if you can. God will not forgive us. That is the belief of our people. God is merciful, but still He does not forgive without punishment. God is righteous and sinless, and therefore He has right to punish every sin of man. But it were a monstrous pretension for men to punish every sin, being themselves sinful, very sinful. We will forgive all your mediaeval, if you will forgive us our modern sins. Remember! God will begin to "forgive us our trespasses" only at the moment when we all forgive the trespasses of all those that have sinned against us. He will forgive us then, because He will not have anything more to punish. God's mercilessness begins when our mercifulness ends. God will rule the world by justice as long as we rule it by our mercilessness. He will rule the world by mercifulness when we forgive each other, but not before.
To forgive the sins of men means for us nothing more than to confess our own sins. To forgive the sins of men means for God nothing less than to let the events be without consequences. And it contradicts human experiences or science.
It contradicts also the experiences of our kings of old. They saw and heard of the sins punished, and they feared sin. They regarded humility and mercifulness as the greatest virtues. On the day of the "Slava," which means a special Serbian festival of the saint patron of the family (every Serbian family has its patron among the saints or angels which it celebrates solemnly every year, instead of celebrating their own birthdays), on this day our kings themselves served their guests at the table. It was a visible sign of their humility before the divine powers that rule human life. Besides, on every festive occasion in the royal court was placed a bountiful table with meat and drink for beggars and the most abject poor. The king was obliged by his Christian conscience and even by national tradition to be merciful. How the people regarded the kings is clear from popular sayings like these:
Every king is from God. If a king is generous he is from God, as a king should be from God. If a king is narrow and selfish he is from God, as a monkey is from God.
A wise king speaks three times to God and only once to the people. A foolish king speaks three times to the people and only once to God.
Speaking to God a wise king thinks always of his people, and speaking to the people he always thinks of God. A foolish king thinks of himself always, whether he speaks to God or to the people.
Every king has a crown, but every kingly crown stands not on a kingly head.
A gipsy asked a king: Of how much value are your riches? The king replied: Not more than your freedom.
The smile of the king is medicine for a poor man, the laugh of the king is an offence for the mourning one.
A king who fears God has pity for the people, but a king who fears the people has pity for himself.
The face of a good king lends splendour to his crown, and the crown of a bad king lends splendour to his face.
The sins of the people can only sooner bring the king before God, but the sins of the king can push the people to Satan's house.
The belief of our kings was the same belief which Saint Sava preached, their hopes were his hopes. God is the eternal and powerful king of the world; Christ is the way of salvation from sin; good must be in the end victorious over evil. That was the belief and hope of our kings. Was it not likewise the belief and hope of King Ethelbert, of Saint Oswald and Edward the Confessor? Did not Richard the Lion-hearted struggle for the same belief and hope in Palestine, which was at his time as far as a voyage around this planet to-day? Is not this same belief and hope the corner stone of Westminster Abbey and Saint Paul's, of this church and of every church on this island, and of every great and beautiful deed that you inherited from your ancestors?
Yet the belief and hopes of our kings were never different from the
BELIEF AND HOPES OF THE SERBIAN PEOPLE.
The Serbian people have shown their individuality only in the dark time of their slavery. The saint and the heroic kings died, but their souls lived still in the hearts of their people, in the white churches they built among the green mountains, in their deeds of mercifulness and repentance. The enslaved people were conscious that there were no more kings of their own who represented all that was the best in the Serbian soul, and that they, the people, have now themselves to represent the Serbian name, belief and hopes before God and their enemies. And they have done it.
At the time when Columbus sailed over the seas to find a new continent in the name of the most Christian King of Spain, the Serbian suffering for the Christian religion had already begun.
At the time when the famous English thinker Thomas More wrote Utopia, preaching brotherhood among men based upon religious and political freedom, the Serbs stood there without any shadow of religious and political freedom, dreaming of and singing about the human brotherhood founded only on the ruins of both tyranny and slavery.
At the time when the great Shakespeare wrote his tragedies in ink, the Serbs wrote theirs in blood.
At the time when Cromwell fought in the name of the Bible for the domestic freedom of Parliament, the Serbian leaders gathered in the lonely forests to tell each other of the crimes that they saw defiling the Cross, to confess to each other their cruel sufferings and to encourage each other to live.
At the time when Milton wrote Paradise Lost, the Serbs felt more than anybody in the world the loss of Paradise.
At the time when Livingstone went to dark Africa with the light of human civilisation, Serbia was ruled by darker powers even than Central Africa.
At the time when the great English philosopher Locke wrote his famous book on the education of men, the people of Serbia had no schools and no teachers at all; they educated themselves by the memories of the great deeds of the heroes of the past, by looking at their kings' churches, and by glorifying a death for justice and a life of suffering.
At the time when Adam Smith wrote his famous work, The Wealth of Nations, the Serbian nation possessed only one form of wealth, and that was the inward wealth of the glorious inheritance of strong belief and of bright hopes. All other forms of wealth that it saw around in the large world, including its own physical life, belonged not to it but to its enemies.
At the time when your learned priests and bishops discussed the subtle theological questions of the relations between time and eternity, between justice and forgiveness, between the Son and the Holy Ghost, between transcendence and omnipresence, our priests and patriarchs had to defend the religion of the Cross from the aggressive Crescent, and to protect the lives of the oppressed, and to lead and inspire the souls of their flock. I think both your and our priests did their duty according to the time and circumstances under which they lived and worked.
"FOR CROSS AND FREEDOM"
has been our national motto. It is written on our flag and in the hearts of each of us. Our motto never was "For existence" or "For vital interests." That was an unknown form of language to our kings of old, and that is still a language very strange for our ears to hear to-day. We never fought indeed solely for a poor existence in this world. We fought always rather for the ideal contentment of this terrestrial existence. We fought not for life only, but for what makes one's life worth living—"For Cross and Freedom!"
The Cross is mentioned first, and then Freedom. Why?
Because the Cross of Christ is the condition of a real freedom. Or, because the Cross is for God's sake and our freedom is for our sake. We should fight for God's sake first and then for our own. That was the idea. Or, because Cross and Freedom are two words for the same thing. The religion of the Cross involves Freedom, and real Freedom is to be found only in the religion of the Cross.
"For Cross and Freedom!"
A Serbian proverb says:
The Cross shines better in the heart and the Crescent in the hand.
Why are there so many Mohammedans in the world? Because the Crescent pays every day during life to its followers, and the Cross pays only after death.
Have confidence in Christ and follow him even into the house of the Devil, because He knows the way out.
Twelve poor apostles did more good to man than the twelve richest sultans.
In vain you will ask from God any good without suffering. For suffering is the very heart of every good, of glory, and of pleasure as well.
Every drop of Christ's innocent blood must be paid for by a lake of men's blood.
It is better to die for the Cross than to live against the Cross.
When you fight for Freedom you are helping every slave in the world, not only yourself.
Freedom is an atmosphere which makes the sun brighter, and the air clearer, and the honey sweeter.
To die for the Cross and Freedom means two lives and no death.
A wolf never can so badly enslave a fellow-wolf as a man can enslave a fellow-man.
It is not easier to live in freedom than to fight for freedom. One must fight for freedom as an archangel, but one must live in freedom as a saint.
All men that God created can live on the earth. God gave space and air enough for all, if men only would give goodwill.
When you pass the tomb of a man who died for Cross and Freedom, you should bow your head low; and when you pass the palace of a man who lives for wealth and pleasure, only turn your head the other way.
I observed during this world-struggle the conduct, deeds and words of our Serbian neighbours, and I was in the end both very sorry and very glad. I was very sorry as I read the declaration of a Bulgarian statesman: "We Bulgars must be on the side of the victors." I was very glad remembering that never in the whole Serbian history have such words been uttered by a responsible person. Our kings of old said very often that Serbia must fight on the side of justice, even if justice has for the moment no visible chance to be victorious. Our saint King, Lazare, refused on the eve of the battle of Kossovo to negotiate with the Turkish Sultan, whom he regarded as a bearer of injustice and an enemy of Christianity.
I was very sorry to see that Greece broke her pledged word and thoughtlessly refused to keep her treaty with Serbia, whereas France with England, who had no signed treaty with Serbia, came and did what in the first place it was Greece's duty to do. I was still more glad and hopeful in regard to the future of mankind, seeing a great difference of moral views between the leading nations of human civilisation like the English and French, and a small nation like the Greek, which is commencing to learn again what many hundred years ago Greece taught all other nations. And I was very glad remembering that in our own Serbian history there is no case of such an example of infidelity or even of hesitation to fulfil the pledged word of the nation.
In this respect the Serbian women excelled as well as men. Therefore, and because I am speaking before you, brothers and sisters, whose country may be proud not only of a large number of great men of every kind, but of great and famous women as well, I must mention the memorable qualities of the Serbian women in the long fight for Cross and Freedom. What sacrifices for Cross and Freedom the Serbian women have made cannot be enumerated from this pulpit, but only slightly touched upon in a few examples. I take just three splendid names: Miliza, Yerina and Ljubiza.
Queen Miliza was a lady of a peaceful domestic character. But she was also the wife of the most tragic king in our Serbian history, of King Lazare, who perished with all his army on the field of Kossovo fighting for Cross and Freedom against Islam rushing over Europe.
She had nine brothers—nine brothers and a father. All were killed on Kossovo together with King Lazare, and Miliza survived that catastrophe.
After the death of King Lazare, Queen Miliza ruled the country together with her son, Stephen the Tall. But Sultan Bayazet asked three things from the new rulers in Serbia. Firstly, he asked for Miliza's daughter Mara for his harem. Miliza gave her daughter. Then Bayazet asked a second, more dreadful thing, namely, that his unfortunate mother-in-law should build a mosque in Krushevaz, the Serbian capital at that time, so as to have a place where he could pray when he came to visit her. There existed and still exists a beautiful church built by King Lazare. Now Miliza was constrained to build, close to this dear monument of her husband, in which she prayed every day for his soul and for the salvation of Serbia, a Turkish mosque. She agreed silently and she protested silently. Then Bayazet asked a third still more dreadful thing, namely, that Stephen the Tall should help him with his troops in a time of danger for the Turkish Empire. Queen Miliza with a broken heart advised her son to sign such a treaty in order to save the rest of the State and people. But very soon it happened that Bayazet needed and asked for Stephen's help against the formidable Mongol conqueror Tamerlan. Stephen hated both the Asiatic monsters—Bayazet and Tamerlan—equally, and it was more profitable for him to break the treaty with Bayazet and to help Tamerlan, who had more chance. But he remained faithful to his pledged word. Bayazet was beaten, taken prisoner and encaged as a beast by Tamerlan. And Stephen, after having fought splendidly for his ally with the Serbian cavalry, came home. When thinking over the present conduct of our Greek ally, I am reminded very often of this noble and loyal king of my country. Queen Miliza could not endure any longer all the terrible changes from bad to worse; she transferred all the power to her son, built a wonderful monastery, Ljubostinja, near Krushevaz, where she as a nun found a retreat in which to pray and to live, until the end of her weary and melancholy life.
Queen Yerina was the last Serbian ruler in the country, which slowly sank into slavery. She was very intelligent and very energetic. The Turkish Sultan took two sons of hers as hostages. She gave them up, and she continued to rule the country. But both of her sons were blinded by red-hot irons and sent back to their mother. Even this did not break Yerina's energy. She constructed great fortresses all over the country to protect the people from the enemy's invasion. She never had any rest, thinking and working to save Serbia. She offered the most obstinate resistance to the Turks as well as to the discontented faction among the Serbs. Many of her contemporaries were ungrateful to her and called her the "cursed Yerina," but still posterity bestows upon her great admiration and sympathy.
Princess Ljubiza came on the scene of our history only a hundred years ago, in the days of the Serbian revolution and resurrection. As Queen Miliza and Yerina sacrificed all to save the honour of Serbia, so Ljubiza did her best to help her husband, Prince Milosh, to liberate the country from the Turks. Once after the Second Revolution broke out, the Serbian troops were engaged in a bloody battle on Morava River. But the Turks were in an overwhelming majority, besides that they had better arms and more munitions. The frightened Serbian troops fled. Ljubiza saw that the situation was quite decisive for the whole future, ran to meet the soldiers, and to admonish them to go back and fight.
"What wretched soldiers you are!" she cried. "Are not the Turks made of flesh and blood as you? Cannot their blood be shed as yours? Whither are you running? Home? But we women only are at home. Well, come home, take our distaff and spin, and give us your rifles; we will go and fight."
The soldiers were so ashamed and encouraged by this remarkable woman that they turned back and began to fight anew so fiercely that the enemy was confusedly beaten and dispersed, and a decisive victory won by the Serbs.
For Cross and Freedom fought the Serbian women directly or indirectly, not only the queens and princesses, but all the peasant women as well, if not otherwise, then at least in giving life and education to the fighters, whom powerful England repeatedly called her worthy allies.
ENGLAND IS ALSO FIGHTING FOR CROSS AND FREEDOM,
not for existence, not for sea, not for wealth, but for Cross and Freedom, for the Christian Cross and for the Freedom of the smaller nations. It means in other words: for God's cause. For who created the small nations if not He that created all great and small things in this wonderful world? Or who has the divine right and sad duty to exterminate, to suffocate, to enchain, the small creations of the Highest if the Highest wants them to exist? Great Britain justified her greatness by entering this war so as to protest against the violation of right, even by those who agreed to this right, and to protect the small and poor. It is easy to be physically great, but it is difficult to be morally great.
Great is the power which violates the right, still greater is the power which protects the right. To destroy is much easier than to build. To be great and to be proud means not to be great at all. To be great and to be modest means real greatness and belief in God. For who can be proud believing in God? Or who can feel God in this Universe and still say, I am great? Our modesty is only our confession that there is a God. Since we see both ends of our life—birth and death—so near us, we must be humiliated.
Yet who can see any end of God, either in the past or in the future? Where are all the greatest empires of the past? All is dust under the feet of the Eternal. Whither are we all going, great or small? To be dust under His feet. From this dust will survive only the small portion of God's spirit that dwells in this dust. All our thoughts and feelings, and deeds and strivings, and struggles and passions, which are directed towards dust will die together with our bodily dust. Only that portion of our being which is directed towards God will survive, will continue to live in the presence of God, will see God. For God only can see God.
Fighting for Belgium, for Serbia and Montenegro, for Armenia, Poland and Bohemia, for all the poor and oppressed—Great Britain is fighting for God's cause. For whose cause indeed is Belgium's and Serbia's, if not God's cause? I wonder who would protect all the oppressed in the world if not this country, in which God's word is more taught and learned than in any other, and which is endowed with all good gifts that God can give to mortals? Yet fighting for God's cause, one fights best for one's own. Yes, we fight always best for our own cause when we have it least in sight. England entered this war not after a long calculation; she entered the war spontaneously and only afterwards she put the question to herself: Why did I enter this war?
Now England is conscious why she entered the war. She knows now that somebody else pushed her into this Avar, and that she is fighting for somebody else's cause. This somebody else is—God. The sons of Great Britain going to the East to fight are going the same pathway as their ancestors went in the time of the Crusaders. The same way, the same aim: to save the honour of the Cross and to fight for Freedom! It is the pathway of supreme suffering, but also the only pathway of real glory and merit. Any other way for England's greatness was impossible. England had to choose either the way of pettiness or of greatness. She chose the second. God bless England!
We pray to Thee, our Father, in order not to change Thy will but ours. Thy will be done! If Serbia is an impediment to human civilisation and an evil, as our German brothers think, Father, make of Serbia a salt lake before they make of her a cemetery. Yet Thy will be done and not ours. We are thine in our righteousness and in our sins. What is, indeed, the whole of our planet? A small grain of dust. What are we, then, on this small grain of dust? We, men, either great or little? We, nations, rich or poor? We, the churches, either right or wrong? One word only I dare to say: the silence in Thy presence shall be our name, and our prayer. Even on the brightest and most peaceful day of our life, there is no true light except Thee. How much more we need Thy light in the darkness of the present moment! We are a small grain of dust under Thy throne, but remember, the only grain of dust which can consciously worship Thee. That shall be our only glory and pride among our brothers: animals, plants, and stones. But in worshipping Thee we become fellows of the stars. Lord, be our everlasting Sun and cast Thy light on every star, now and for ever. Amen.
SERBIA AT PEACE.
Delivered for the first time at Cambridge, in the New Lecture Rooms, the Vice-Chancellor of the University in the chair.
The most suitable language for tragedy is silence. Serbia's tragedy needs no rhetoric, no language to describe it, to exalt it. For silence, and not rhetoric, makes tragedy greater. Serbia's silence to-day is as deep as her tragedy is dark. The most silent suffering is the most vocal suffering at the same time. The most silent suffering is like a screw boring into the conscience of the makers of the suffering. Such silent suffering is the severe judge of the world who makes all rich people poor, all proud humble, all pleasure bitter, all human progress abased. There is something wrong about this life. What may it be? I do not know, but suffering reminds us every day that there is something wrong with this world. Suffering from surrounding nature is not the worst,—nature can be governed by us; nor the suffering from God,—God can be touched by our prayer; but the worst of all is our suffering from ourselves. Thousands and thousands of serpents live in Serbia. Yet all the serpents throughout the Serbian history, from the time of the Druids on this island till the time of Tennyson and Kipling, effected not such a poisonous devastation of men and cattle in Serbia as lately a host of invaders did, who boastfully regarded them-selves to be at the summit of human civilisation. It is despairing to see what use of her power, her "kultur," her science and her riches, Germany of to-day is making in Serbia, among a people who for half a thousand years struggled against the Turkish tyranny with the motto For Cross and Freedom, and who looked sometimes from their dark corner towards the German Kaiser, the knight of many Holy Orders, as towards the champion and redeemer of enslaved Christianity in the Balkans. Never suffered a nation from serpents as much as the poor nation of Serbs suffers to-day from "civilised" men. Don't you think indeed that there is something wrong about this life of ours? The Bible showed in its first sheets that there is something very wrong with us. By the killing of his brother, Cain fore-shadowed all the history of mankind. Even the first man on earth was not a balanced and happy creature. All our earthly time is filled up with a passionate convulsion in a struggle for life and light. Yet our confusion and unhappiness chiefly come from ourselves, and neither from nature nor from God. When will this suffering of man from man stop? We have been accustomed to speak hopefully about the twentieth century. We supposed that that century at least would show the serpents as greater enemies of men than men themselves. We see despairingly to-day that the serpents are innocent creatures in comparison with men. The tragedy of crushed and murdered Serbia is a crying proof of how the serpents are comparatively innocent creatures. Yet Serbia is silent in her tragedy. I myself would prefer to be silent too. But I cannot, being not only an unhappy survivor of a horrible shipwreck, but above all a priest and servant of God.
If our national pride bids us Serbs be silent in this shipwreck, my Christian honour and pride bids me cry out and protest. I am a surviving protest of my murdered country. Yet I am still a transitory protest, a protest only for a moment before God the Slow and the Righteous begins to protest Himself. My protest is in words, my words are from the air. But God's protest will be, as always, from the unquenchable fire, which burns bodies and souls. I indicate only the terrible protest which will come. Why am I protesting now before you, sons and daughters of Great Britain? Because you have been the champions of the Bible in the world, i.e. the champions of justice, freedom and the brotherhood of men. Because your knights have fought for the Christian Cross and Freedom. Your island has been an Island of Salvation for all the refugees, who as champions of liberty must escape from their own countries—among others, Rousseau, Voltaire and Victor Hugo, even the sons of a very liberal nation. Your most famous generals and admirals have humiliated the greatest conqueror of the world and granted him a cottage on a small island in which to live, instead of the world Empire of which he dreamed. Your statesmen—I will mention only a few of them: Pitt, Bright, Gladstone—asserted repeatedly that the domestic and foreign policy of this country should be founded on Christian principles. Your women are famous in the world because of the fine and humane education that they give to their children in order to make every new generation a new proof to the world of how this island is obviously worthy of its great role on our planet. Your working people possess a healthy sense of both reality and idealism, and avoiding all extremes and extravagances, to which poverty necessarily leads the working class in other countries, are powerfully promoting human progress, the material as well as the moral. Your nobility, far from being corrupted and degenerated by their wealth, have filled the world with astonishment from the beginning of this war by their extraordinary patriotism and willingness to sacrifice everything, including life itself, in the struggle for the honour and the unshakable ideals of their country.
That is why I am protesting before you, valiant sons and daughters of Great Britain, the heirs of the most valuable heritage that ever a nation could call its own. Serbian life in peace time is the most eloquent accusation and the mightiest protest against the crime of two great Christian Kaisers. These two Christian Kaisers conquered Serbia by their iron and mercilessness, and bound Serbia's throat so horribly that in Serbia there is now air and light only for the conquerors and not for the conquered. Breath-less and breadless, Serbia cannot protest, but I can. Well, I propose to describe to you to-night Serbia and the Serbians in peace time, in order to show you what life your smallest allies lived before the great storm came over their country. I will begin with
THE SERBIAN VILLAGE.
Why? Because the village is the very foundation of all that we possess in material, spiritual and moral good. After the Turks conquered Serbia, five hundred years ago, the Serbian population was forced by the conquerors by degrees to abandon the towns and to retreat into the villages, and then to abandon even the villages in the plains, on the banks of the rivers, where the soil was the most fruitful, and to escape into the forests, mountains and less accessible country. The village thus became the very soil upon which has grown our democracy. That is the difference between our democracy and the west European, where the democrats movement started and developed in the towns. Driven into the forests and mountains by the common enemy, despoiled of freedom and riches the upper and lower classes, the learned and the illiterate, suffered the same abasement and injustice, did the same work, ploughed and sowed, struggled against the same evil, the Turkish yoke, and sang of the same hopes. Under such conditions was born our democratic spirit, which served wonderfully afterwards, in the time of liberation and freedom, as a base for our democratic institutions, social, political and ecclesiastical.
I said that our village is the very foundation of our material wealth. We have, so to say, no industry, but every one of our peasants has his own land. The land being fertile, our country never knew what hunger was. It was a pleasure to see the peasants in the spring ploughing their own soil; in the summer looking over the-golden harvest of their own; in the autumn contemplating the stores plenteously filled; in the winter feasting and resting in their own houses. If you should ask any of the Serbian peasants: "To whom does this house belong? or this field? or this harvest?" he would unmistakably reply: "To God and to me!"—so in the mind of our peasants God is the first landlord, and the second they themselves.
Even during the last three years of war in Serbia there was plenty of all the necessaries of life, especially of wheat and cattle, of fruits and hay, of vegetables and wood.
But now—in Serbia all the wealth is in the past; it exists only in the memories of the de-spoiled, plundered, devastated, starved and silent slaves. In the German papers there was published a private letter from a German soldier in Serbia. "We are very well here. We have plenty of food and everything. Much more abundantly than we had on the Western front!" I am sure you understand well what this soldier meant and whence such an abundance in food supply "and everything" for the German invaders in Serbia came. Almost simultaneously a German army commander wrote to a man in a neutral country these words: "Not only I permit you to come into Serbia and help the Serbs, but I pray you come at once. Among the population in Serbia there is the greatest misery and almost starvation en masse." What happened? The "civilised" subjects of Kaiser William would not kill the civil people in Serbia directly as the stupid Turks did, but indirectly in order to save the faithless honour of "civilisation." They drove away the population—that means the old and sick men, women and children—all other Serbs serving as soldiers and being in retreat; they drove the population away, took food, cattle, copper, warm clothes, carpets, covers, everything, and after this was done, allowed the people graciously to come back "to their homes and their customs," as the Kaiser declared. But to come how and where? Thousands died on the way back, thousands succeeded in coming back to their cold and breadless homes to die there; they are considered as the happier; and thousands fled with the Serbian troops into Albania and to the Mediterranean islands, where they died or are still dying from hunger, but because they died in freedom and not as slaves they are considered as the happiest.
We are beggars now. This is the first year in our history that we must pray to men for bread; until now we prayed only to God for daily bread, and God gave it to us abundantly. But we became beggars for bread only after the German civilisation showed itself to be a beggar, poor in moral, poor in truth and heart.
Now I will try to show you how the Serbian village
BECAME THE FOUNDATION OF THE SERBIAN SPIRIT.
No universities, no schools, no libraries, no written literature and no lectures for five hundred years! Imagine such a people. That is the Serbian people.
The only men who could write—the priests; the only library—the memory; the only education—the mother; the only university—nature; the only historians—the blind bards; the only friend and comforter—God! Imagine such a people and call them—Serbs.
Imagine the English people for half a thousand years without schools, without education, without universities, without historians, authors, friends and comforters! I am sure it is difficult for you to imagine your country even without Shakespeare, and without Oxford and Cambridge scholarships and the British Museum, not to mention other things. It may be of great interest to a psychologist as well as to a historian to know what kind of mental activity a people shows who are deprived of all that we to-day consider as an indispensable need of daily life. What may such a people be doing? Well, when by such a people are meant the Eskimos, it is clear: they hunt, eat, talk and sleep. But when by such a people is meant a people of the European, Aryan race—what then? The Serbs are a European, Aryan race. What did they do? Three things—they thought, sang and hoped.
They thought. They thought about heaven and earth, about life and death, and man and animal, and about everything that affects human nature. They made comparisons and asked for the reason and purpose of everything. They drew their conclusions and expressed the results of their long observations. They thought a very, very long time before they uttered a short sentence. These sentences lived in the oral traditions, and have been transferred from one generation to another. These sentences are very like the Proverbs in the Bible, very like La Rochefoucauld or extracts and quotations from famous works. The Serbian sentences are striking. I have read a good deal by the great writers of Europe, but very often a popular Serbian saying strikes me more forcibly than a famous book.
Here is just one saying:
God is on the height, Satan is in the depth, man is in the middle. If God will, He can be above, below and in the middle. If Satan will, he can be below and in the middle. If man will, he can be like God everywhere, in the middle, or above or below.
A bird envied the serpent; thou knowest earth very well. The serpent envied the bird: thou knowest heaven very well. And both envied man: thou knowest heaven and earth. Man replied: "My knowledge and my ignorance make me equally unhappy."
Either snow or ice, or steam or fluid, water is always water. Either poor or rich, or ignorant or learned, man is always man.
Only a half-good man can be disappointed in this world. But a wholly good man never is disappointed because he never expects a reward for his good actions.
The Serbian people sang also. Sitting around the fire in the long winter nights, the Serbian peasants sang their glorious past, their dark present and their hopes for the future. There is a Serbian instrument called the gusle, more interesting than the Greek lyre, because more appropriate for the epic songs. It looks also like the Indian instrument tamboura. Well, as the ancient Greek bards sang their Achilles, using the lyre, and as the ancient Indian singers sang their Krishna with the help of the tamboura, so the Serbian epic singers accompanied with the gusle their songs on their hero of old, Marko. Marko was a historic person, a king's son. He was the never-weary champion of right and justice, the protector of the poor and oppressed, a believer in the victorious good, a man who left an impression on the coming generations like a lightning flash in the dark clouds. In every village house in Serbia there is a gusle, and almost in every family a good singer with the gusle. The blind bards sang on the occasion of the festival or a meeting.
The great Pitt, when once asked from whom he learned the English history so well, replied: "From Shakespeare." To the same question we Serbs can reply: "From our national poetry." It is very rare for a people in the mass to know their past as well as the Serbs know their own. The Serbs regard their history not so much as a dry science, but rather as an art, a drama, which must be told in a solemn language. They knew their history, and therefore they sang it; they sang it, and therefore they knew it better and better.
The Serbian men sang, but not only the men, the women sang as well. When the harvest was being gathered during July and August, the women and girls sang in the fields or under the fruit trees. In our country we have the sun abundantly, and the outdoor singing responds fully to the luxuriance of light. What shall I say then about our women's singing in the autumn in the dry and soft moonlight? It is the time of spinning on the distaff. The tired men go to bed, but the women sit down in a circle in the houseyard in the open place. They chat and they sing without stopping their spinning. They sing two and two, in duet, but so that a new duet is begun when the other finishes. This duet singing is not only in one family, but in many at the same time, in different parts of the village. Moonlight—we have wonderful clear and white moonlight in Serbia—silence, singing from every side, from every house, from girls, nightingales and other birds. The whole of the village is the stage, hundreds of singers, moonlight and open starry space—I am sure you would be much more fascinated by such a Serbian rustic opera than by many modern operas on a stage in London. And now—there rushed into Serbia
THE KAISER, WHO DOES NOT SING,
and our singing stopped. Under the Turks the Serbian people sang. You can find in the British Museum ten big volumes of the Serbian national poetry which was composed during the time of the Turkish rule in Serbia. This rule was very hard and very dark indeed, but still we considered ourselves as the champions of the Cross against the Crescent, and we imagined that we should be the bulwark of Christian Europe, i.e. of Central Europe in the first place. Therefore we endured the struggle with the Turks, singing and hoping. And now—the two Christian Kaisers, with a fox from Sofia, have crushed Serbia more completely than she ever was crushed by the Turks. "Come back to your homes and your customs," so the Kaiser William invited the Serbian refugees.
"To your customs!" But, oh illustrissime Caesar, we could reply, our first and best custom is to sing. Tell us, how we could sing now? You know, oh Kaiser, because you preached the Bible also, you must know the Biblical com-plaints of the Israel of old: "By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. We hung our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion? How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?" You are now playing a real Babylonian role towards us Serbs, i.e. towards a people who fought for the Cross, who sang freedom and who were crucified for justice. You are not a better man than any peasant from the Serbian villages. Do you want a proof? The Serbian peasant can sing, and you cannot. You cannot sing, not because of your diseased throat, but because of your evil conscience. You stopped the singing in a country of songs, oh ill majesty! How could we now sing our songs while our homes are transformed into empty caves? How could we sing, seeing our bread in strangers' hands and cold stones in ours? How could we sing now, when all our past protests against you and all our dead are disturbed in their graves? You covered our country with sins and crimes, and it is not our custom to sing of sins and crimes, but of virtues. When will you show us your virtues? You have shown us until now only your iron and fire, your brutality and brutality, and again brutality and brutality,—and, did I say?—iron and fire. That is the essence of your religion and science, of your soul and glory. We will despise all that you brought into our country. Let us be silent, Sire, and you may continue to show your Mephistophelean civilisation, and after you have crushed all those who are weaker and smaller than you, Sire, open your lips and preach upon their ruin to your admirers: cantate Domino! But we will not sing after our custom of old in your presence. We prefer to be silent and to wait for God's judgment.
The Hidden Moral Treasures of the Serbian people are now shining, as always, throughout all the times of darkness and suffering.
You will remember from the beginning of the war all the declarations of the Serbian government about the Serbian loyalty to the end. Some among you might have thought: such declarations are dictated by political reasons. No, such declarations have been only a poor expression of what we all in Serbia thought and felt. Loyalty to friends, devotion to our pledged word, fidelity to the signed and unsigned treaties were always considered in Serbia as sacred duties in the conscience of the people. Our morale is not something that was learned in the schools—do not forget we had no schools for centuries—but rather an inherited treasure which every man was obliged to keep in great brilliancy. It is not a morale supported by learning, sophisms and quotations, it is an elementary power which is not a possession, but which has possession of everybody. Our Prime Minister uttered the other day these words: "Better to die in beauty than to live in shame!" Fifteen hundred years ago similar words were uttered on this island of yours by a knight of Beowulf's escort: "Death is better than a life of shame." Every child in Serbia thinks the same as our Prime Minister about the value of life and death.
"Better to die than" to live so and so, or than to do this or that—hundreds of the Serbian proverbs begin with those words. In proverbs is expressed our moral wisdom, in proverbs and poetry. Yet our proverbs are poetry as well. The morale is regarded not so much as a teaching, rather as poetry, like history. History and morality are things which shall be sung, history and morality are such dignified topics that they must be expressed in a dignified, solemn language. Poetry is the very essence of things. It is the most earnest thing in the world. That is our opinion.
The Serbs read the Bible very little, although they had the Bible in their own language and used it in divine service before you used it in the church of your own. The Bible was listened to in the church, but poetry at home. As Shakespeare can be called your second Bible, so, and still more, our national poetry for us has been indeed a second Bible. Our poetry has been our history, our moral, our beauty, our hopes, our education, our encouragement—our Bible. By our poetry, as by the Bible, the morale is not only taught but inspired. What is this morale, taught by Serbian poetry and proverbs, when uttered in a dry form?
"Dear God, we thank thee for all," that is the usual beginning of every poem.
Love? Love is better than justice.
Justice? Justice is better than injustice.
Injustice? It must be punished.
Suffering? It must be relieved.
Patience? That is the great virtue of the sufferers.
Honour? Better to die than to give up honour.
Dishonour? It means as much as death.
Mercifulness? It shines like the sun over the world.
A beggar? He puts your heart to the test.
Death? God is behind death and therefore death is no evil.
Prayer? It shall be used always, but it never helps unless we do our best.
Humility? It is always rewarded by love.
Fearlessness? It is commended very strongly.
Cowardice? It is repudiated and despised to the utmost.
Obedience? Youth must be obedient and respectful towards old people.
Chastity? Better to burn down a church than to take or to give away chastity.
Protection of the weak? Marko protected weak people and animals. That is a great merit.
Chivalry? Always; towards friends and enemies.
Work? Without work prayer does not help.
Freedom? Man is man only in living in freedom and in fighting for freedom.
Wealth? It is no virtue, and if it does not support virtue, it is a vice.
God? He is the Lord of the World and thy steady companion.
Such morals have been preached, yea, sung by our ancestors, and by ourselves. Certainly we have sinned often against these morals, but in our sins and in our virtues they have been always regarded as a standard of all that is good and beautiful.
Serbia sinned and repented her sins, and again sinned. Put yourselves, gentlemen, in the chair of a judge, and I will confess to you all the sins of Serbia. Serbia sinned and suffered. Her sins have been her hell, her sufferings—her purgatory. I don't pray you to forgive Serbia, but only to compare justly her sins with her sufferings. The Serbs sinned against all the ten commandments, it is true, but still regarded the ten commandments as the standard which is better than a nation's doings. Although the people said beautifully: "A grain of truth is better than a ton of lies," still the lie, like a parasite, had its nest in Serbia as elsewhere. Although the people said: "It is better to be blind with justice than to have eyes with injustice," still injustice had its seed, its growth and fruits among the same people. Although Cain's sin has been abhorred by the conscience of the Serbs, still this sin of taking the life of a brother has defiled the very soil of Serbia, which has been so much sanctified by the sufferings and unselfish sacrifices of her people. You will not find certainly in Serbia the refined vices which are practised in the shadow of great civilisations, but you will find quite enough great and small sins, which the Serbian conscience does not justify any more than yours.
THE SERBIAN AND THE BULGARIAN SPIRIT.
Besides, I will confess to you one great sin of the Serbian people. It is an exaggerated love for independence. It is a virtue as every honest love is a virtue, but it becomes a sin if exaggerated. It is a brilliant quality like the sunshine in the time of fighting against the common enemy, but it is a sin in peace time when organised efforts for the social welfare are required. This spirit of independence, the independence from enemies as well as from friends, has considerably disturbed our social life and progress-during the last century. Now, by this greatest of our sins and greatest of our virtues as well, we Serbs differed chiefly from our neighbours. The people in Great Britain have been accustomed to look towards the Balkans as towards a country with one and the same spirit. This is a great mistake. There are chiefly two spirits: the Serbian and the Bulgarian, i.e. the spirit of independence and the spirit of slavery. The Serbian spirit resisted until the end stubbornly and tenaciously against the Turks conquering the Balkans five centuries ago. The Bulgarian spirit surrendered without any resistance. "The Kral of Bulgaria did not wait to be conquered, but humbly begged for mercy"; so writes an English historian. The rebellious spirit of the Serbs arose first in the Balkan darkness a hundred years ago against the tyranny and the despotic wickedness of the Turkish rulers, and liberated the Serbian fatherland. The Bulgarian spirit waited until strangers came and liberated the Bulgarian country. Those strangers have been: Russians, Serbians, Roumanians and Mr. Gladstone. The Bulgarian spirit has been since 1878 under the rule of the German kings, as slavishly subordinate as it was for five hundred years under the rule of the Turkish viziers and pashas. It was pure ignorance which made some people exclaim some months ago: "It is King Ferdinand's war against Serbia and the Allies, and not the Bulgarian people's. The Bulgars will never fight against the Russians, their liberators." Yet the fact is and will remain: the Bulgarian people have only one thought, i.e. the thought of their ruler, be it Ferdinand or somebody else, and they have only one will, i.e. the will of their ruler. They will fight against the Russians as fiercely as they fought against the Turks yesterday, and against the French and British to-day, if it is only the plan and will of their ruler.
This slavish spirit, which is a disgrace to a nation in the most tragic and decisive events of the world's history, makes the Bulgarian people in peace very happy and fit for peaceful organised work, when obedience and subordination are required. This slavish spirit is the greatest virtue and the greatest sin of the Bulgarian nation.
Yet, I am speaking of our own sins, and I confess that our greatest sin has been the too greatly developed love of personal independence. It is the truest spirit of the Serbs. From this spirit originated all our fortunes and all our misfortunes. From the point of view of this spirit consider, please, all our sins in modern times: the killing of our kings, the internal disturbances, and all the irregularity in the political and social life of our country, and you will understand us better; and if you understand us better, I am sure you will forgive us more easily.
SERBIA IN PRAYER.
Serbia has sinned, Serbia has prayed. If you put on one side of the scales Serbia's sins and on the other Serbia's sufferings and prayers, I am sure the latter will send the balance down.
Again I must come back to the Serbian village. Prayer is there considered not only as an epilogue to a sin but as a daily necessity. The first duty after one's ablution in the morning is prayer. That is a sanctified custom. Many songs on our national hero, Marko, begin as follows:
"Marko got up early in the morning,
Washed his face and prayed to God."
And all the songs begin, I repeat it, with the verse:
"Dear God, we are thankful to Thee for all."
But not only the songs begin with prayer, every work and every pleasure begins with prayer as well, every day and every night, every feast, every rest and every journey. This custom has been partly broken and abandoned only in the towns under the influence of the central European materialistic civilisation. In the villages unbelief is unknown. In our green fields, under our dark-blue heaven, in our little white houses and wooden cottages, on the banks of our murmuring brooks and magnificent rivers, atheism is unknown. Every family in a house is regarded as a little religious community. The head of the family presides over this community and prays with it. When I tell you that, I tell you my personal experience. I was born in a village, in a family of forty-five members. We prayed together every Saturday, after the weekly work was over. In the evening my grandfather, the head of the family, called us to prayer. We had no chapel in the house. In bad weather we prayed in the house, in fine weather out of doors, in the yard. The starry heaven served as our temple, the moon as our guardian, the silent breath of the surrounding nature as our inspiration. My grandfather took a chalice with fire and incense, and sprinkled every one of us. Then he came forward, stood before us and bowed deeply, and his example was followed by us all. Then began a silent prayer, interrupted only here and there by a sighing or by some whispering voice. We crossed ourselves and prayed, looking to the earth and looking to the stars. The prayer ended again with deep bowing and with a loud Amen.
When I recall this prayer in my memory, I feel more piety, more humility and more comfort than I ever felt in any of the big cathedrals in either hemisphere where I have had the opportunity of praying. This prayer of the Serbian peasants, beautiful in its simplicity and touching in its sincerity, survived generation after generation, and has been victorious over all crimes that the strangers of the Asiatic or of the European faith have committed on us. Our tenacious and incessant prayer is an evident sign of our tenacious and unbroken hope. We pray because we hope; we hope still more after we have prayed.
Everything can be disturbed in Serbia except prayer. The invasion of the Kaiser's troops in Serbia disturbed and perturbed everything in Serbia, but the prayer of the Serbian people still continues. Enslaved in Serbia, dispersed as the refugees are all over the world, we pray to the God of Justice, now as always. Our prayer means our hope. The Kaiser's subjects and the Bulgarian slaves can kill everything in Serbia—and the purpose of their coming into Serbia is killing—but they never can kill our hope. Martyred Serbia, your loyal ally, oh noble sons and daughters of Great Britain, is now silent and powerless. Enemies and friends can now laugh her to scorn. She will remain silent. I am sure you will respect this silence of the Crucified. I am sure everyone of you will do his best to redeem Serbia. Well, Serbia can now give, after all, her cause to God and can wait the end hopefully. She can now say to the Kaiser, her conqueror and lord, the words of one of your great poets:
"I have lost, you have won this hazard yet perchance
My loss may shine yet goodlier than your gain
When time and God give judgement."
A C Swinburne (Faliero).
SERBIA IN ARMS.
Delivered before the English Soldiers.
I propose to-night, gentlemen, to describe to you Serbia, my native country, my dream of the past, my dream of the future, and one of your Allies, loyal and faithful in life and death. I will try, of course, to give you only some glances at and slight insight into what Serbia has represented with her soul, her efforts, ideals and hopes. The time is short, yea, our time to-day is more empty than the events which surprise us every day, every night, and overwhelm us like an avalanche of snow and ice from the Alps. How poor and insufficient is our human language to-day, even the language of the most eloquent mortals from this island like Burke, Macaulay and Carlyle, to describe the events which our eyes are seeing and our ears listening to at the present moment! Do not expect from me an equivalent description of Serbia, which has been one of the greatest factors in this world-war during many months, and which has disturbed your hearts for so long and attracted thousands of your sons and friends over the seas, to take the sword from Serbia's mangled hands and continue the struggle for the same cause for which she fought until death. All that I can tell you consists in some poor instances and remembrances which will be sufficient to show you that Serbia has been worthy to live and to be your ally, and consequently that she is worthy of your great sympathy with her and of your helping her resurrection.
Serbia has been at war since 1912.
IN AUTUMN 1912
King Peter of Serbia consecrated his church of white marble, built in Topola, the birthplace of his grandfather, Karageorge, the protagonist of Balkan liberation. On the same hill, on which Karageorge took the resolution to begin one of the greatest things that ever happened on the troublesome Balkan soil, on the hill of Oplenaz, Karageorge's grandson, King Peter, erected a beautiful church and then declared war on Turkey. It was one of many wars that we had with Turkey, one of many—known and unknown to you—during five hundred years. We have had our old accounts with the Turks. We despised them as the slaves will despise their lords, and they despised us as the lords will despise their slaves. Yet we respected their virtues, and they recognised some of ours. With the sword they conquered our country, and we knew that only with the sword we could reconquer it from them. Our Christian drama with the Turks in the Balkans began with blood, and we all believed it must finish with blood. In our bloody conflict with the Turks we, the Christians, lost three kings—one of them was King Constantine of Byzantium, and two were the Serbian kings, Vukashin and Lazare—during a period of seventeen years. As well as Serbia and Greece, Roumania also offered great resistance to the Turks. It is a historic fact, that after the decisive Balkan battle on the field of Kossovo, the Roumanians also fought against the Turks. In the battle of Rovina between the Turks and Roumanians, our epic Serbian hero, Marko Kralevich, the last king of Macedonia, called Marko of Prilep, also participated, and was killed there. He was the third Serbian king killed in the defence of Christian freedom in the Balkans. That was the time when the Albanians, too, showed their virtues more than ever before. Under Skender-beg, the prince from Croya, they resisted the Mussulmans very bravely. But they fell into slavery in the same way as Serbia, Greece, Roumania and Croatia. The only country in the Balkans which surrendered without any resistance was Bulgaria. The only country in the Balkans that never was conquered by the Turks was Montenegro. Poor Montenegro, a skeleton of rocky mountains, has shown during five hundred years more heroic beauty and idealistic enthusiasm than many great empires in Asiatic and European history, which fought their selfish battles for power and comfort, and have been respected and adored merely because of their numbers and dimensions.
Now, in the year of our Lord, 1912, two Serbian kingdoms, Serbia and Montenegro, with two other Christian kingdoms, Greece and Bulgaria, declared war on the Turks. The Roumanians were with their sympathies on the side of the Christian allies. The Albanians, degenerate and disorganised, very different from Skenderbeg's contemporaries, standing now under the influence of Austria, were pro-Turks and against the Christian warriors.
Shall I remind you of the results? I suppose the surprising fact is fresh in your memories even now that only two months after the Balkan war had been declared the delegates of the belligerents for peace stayed in Hyde Park Hotel in London. Turkey lost and the Christians won.
The Serbian troops crossed the frontier and fighting proceeded in three different directions, towards Skoplje and Prilep, towards Adrianople and towards Scutari. A foreigner never can realise what a Serbian soldier thought and felt at that time. Skoplje had been the centre of our mediaeval kingdom; in Prilep lived and ruled king Marko, our national hero; under the walls of. Adrianople King Vukashin, Marko's father, was killed resisting the Turkish invasion; Scutari was the last free dominion of the Serbian kings Balshic before universal darkness covered the whole of the Balkans, except Montenegro. In every direction the Serbian soldiers faced their own history. Their past glory has been revived; their heroes of old excited their imagination; many saw them in visions or in dreams, all imitated them in heroic deeds and in sufferings.
Here succumbed the Saint King Lazare! exclaimed our soldier in the field of Kossovo. Here fell the Duke Milosh after he killed the Turkish Sultan Murad! Here lived Marko of Prilep! From this fortress he protected the remnants of the Serbian people and their past glory after the fatal battle of Kossovo! Here on the stones the hoofs of Shiraz, Marko's cherished horse, are to be seen. There are churches built by King Urosh, or Stephen, or Milutin, or Dushan, or Lazare! Here on the Mariza River fell Vukashin with sixty thousand of the most splendid Serbian warriors defending the freedom of the Balkans. There on Scutari stand lofty walls constructed by the same King Vukashin. This is the way by which the Byzantine princesses had come to be the wives of our kings or dukes. There is the town where King Dushan, in allegiance with Kantakusen and the Greeks, fought against the first Turkish invaders. On this lake of Ochrida was a beautiful church with a Serbian archbishopric. That is the mountain where the villas (fairies) lived and from which they flew down to help our heroes or to preserve the Serbian down-trodden rights. In this town King Nemanja met the Crusaders from the West proceeding to the East and gave them hospitality. In that town our greatest king proclaimed the famous codex of laws, Zakonik, which is comparable with the best codexes of that kind. Here are the tombs of our patriarchs, who led and protected the nation during centuries of oppression and slavery. There are the towers built from the skeletons of the Serbian leaders, who were slaughtered for their ideals of freedom; and there again is the spot where were hanged several voivodas and bishops. Bones upon bones, blood upon blood, sin upon sin, heroism upon heroism! Kossovo, Scutari, Kumanovo, Skoplje, Prilep, Bitolj, Adrianople—all these names were well known by every Serbian soldier. In their childhood and boyhood they sang these very names, they sang them and knew the historical events and heroes connected with them. And so they came now not as guests and strangers, but they returned home after a long absence. It seems to every one of them like a dream: the land which has been for generations and generations the topic of poetry now stood before the Serbian warriors as a reality. The Serbian brothers from Austria-Hungary came to Macedonia, kissed the sacred soil, and each one took a handful of the sacred dust from the tombs of our kings and heroes of old. Two months after the outbreak of war King Peter returned to Topola and prayed gratefully in his white church to God and to Saint George. This democratic king, who has been elected by the Serbian Parliament (Skupshtina), thanked God that he with his people had finished the work of liberation from the Turkish yoke, which work was started by Karageorge, his grandfather, who also was elected by the people to be their leader.
IN SUMMER 1913.
The war with the Turks was a short one. Yet the war with the Bulgars was still shorter. The Bulgars attacked us in a dark night. Austria suggested such an attack, and this quite suited the Bulgarian spirit. It is a slavish spirit, full of slavish ambitions and slavish abject methods.
When I tell you that, believe me, I tell it neither as a chauvinist nor even as a Serbian patriot, but as a man who has studied very carefully the history and psychology of the Balkan peoples.
The Bulgarian attack against the Serbian army was resisted not only by the Serbs, as the Bulgars hoped, but by the Greeks and Roumanians as well. I visited the battlefield afterwards. I have been in Stip, a town on the Bregalniza river, where the attack began. I saw the tree on the bank of the river, under which the Serbian and Bulgarian officers rested together the very day before the treacherous night. The Bulgarians smiled and chatted with their Serbian colleagues; they spoke about the everlasting brotherhood between the Serbian and Bulgarian nations; they ate and drank from the same plates and glasses with the Serbs, their allies, while the order of the night attack lay in their pockets. It happened nineteen hundred years after a treacherous apostle ate and drank in the same manner with his Master.
The unnatural ambitions of the Bulgars were repudiated by all the Balkan nations. Therefore the Bulgars saw one day against them, not one enemy as they expected, but three. Serbs, Greeks and Roumanians marched together towards Sofia. The Bulgars asked for peace. In the conference of Bucharest, as you remember, the new frontiers of the Balkan States were marked. Serbia came out from this war victorious, it is true, but with a broken heart, for she had been forced to fight against her ally of yesterday—with a broken heart, with many thousands of her best sons killed and crippled, and with still many more swept away by cholera, which was raging in the summer of 1913.
THE HOME OF THE SERBIAN SOUL
is Macedonia. It must have been once a charming country worthy of the great men like Philip and Alexander, worthy of Saint Paul's mission to it, worthy of Byzantium's effort to save it from the Slavs, worthy of all the Turkish sacrifices to conquer it, worthy of several Serbian kings who gave their lives defending it. It was a rich and beautiful spot on this earth. It was the centre of the Serbian mediaeval state and power, the very heart of the Serbian glory from the time when the Serbs became Christians till the tragedy of Kossovo, and after this tragedy till the death of King Marko of Prilep in the beginning of the fifteenth century. Even during the time of slavery under the Turks, Macedonia was the source of all the spiritual and moral inspirations and supports of the enslaved nation. It happened only accidentally that the northern part of Serbia, was liberated a hundred years ago while Macedonia remained still in chains. In the north, in the dense forests and the mountains around Belgrade and Kraguievaz, the guerilla war started a great insurrection which succeeded.
This guerilla war meant a gradual destruction of the Turkish dominions in the whole northern part: in Shumadija, Bosnia, Croatia and Dalmatia. But I say the guerilla war in Shumadija, around Belgrade and Kraguievaz, was a success. Karageorge liberated a part of the Serbian country in the north, and this part was finally recognised by the great powers of Europe and called Serbia. But neither Karageorge nor anybody in Serbia has forgotten Macedonia. Macedonia was not only a part of our history, but it has become a part of our soul. The principal and the greater part of our national poetry, which means our Shakespeare and which meant our Bible, describes Serbian Macedonia, her heroes, her historic events, her struggle with the Turks, her slavery, and her customs and hopes. Serbian children know the names of the towns like Skoplje, Prilep, Ochrida, and the heroes' names, Urosh, Stephen, Milutin, Dushan, Marko and Ugljesha, before they learn in the school to write these names. Our national poetry is our national education, our education is our soul. Macedonia represents a great part of our poetry, which means that she forms a great part of our soul. To say Macedonia does not belong to Serbia means the same as to say, the Serbian soul does not belong to the Serbians. Could you imagine England without Stratford, the birthplace of Shakespeare? I don't think you could. So we cannot imagine a Serbia without Prilep, the source, yea, the birthplace of our national poetry. Every people must have some sacred soil in their country, a part more sacred than other parts, which binds them more to their fatherland, which excites their enthusiasm, and which obliges them to defend and to die for it. I was born in Northern Serbia, in a town which has been very important in our modern history. But I must tell you that it was not Valve, my birthplace, which inspired me to be a Serb in soul, but rather Prilep, Skoplje and Ochrida, the places where our spirit and our virtues of old flourished, together with Kossovo, where our national body was destroyed. Valevo has been very little mentioned in our national poetry, Valevo and even Belgrade, in comparison with Macedonia. Northern Serbia has been in our Middle Ages more a part of our body than of our soul. But Macedonia.... A Bulgarian diplomat formerly in Rome once ironically told a Serbian sculptor in a discussion about Macedonia: 'We Bulgars know that King Marko of Prilep is a Serbian. Well, give us Prilep, that is what we want, and keep King Marko for yourselves!" That is the true Bulgarian spirit. The Greeks have understood us better. They have many brothers of their own in Monastir and Ochrida, and still they recognised the Serbian rights in the central and northern parts of Macedonia, claiming for themselves only the southern part, and giving to the Bulgars the eastern part of it. Yet they could claim Macedonia not with less rights than the Bulgars did. Why? Because Macedonia never was the centre of a Greek Empire, as it never was the centre of a Bulgarian Empire. It was a provincial country of the old Byzantine Empire. It was a country temporarily conquered by the Bulgars, the centre of the Bulgarian kingdom being Tirnovo and its neighbourhood. But it was quite a centre of all the best things that we Serbs created and possessed in our past. Our national soul cannot live without this part of our national body. I remember a conversation in Nish between a French sailor and a Serbian writer. The French sailor said: "But you will perish if you do not give Macedonia to the Bulgars?" The Serbian writer replied quietly: "Let us perish for the sake of our soul!" An English gentleman asked me the other day: "Why have you been obstinate in not yielding Macedonia to the Bulgars, while we even are ready to yield to the Greeks, offering them Cyprus?" "Yes," I said, "we can well appreciate your sacrifice, but still Prilep for us is rather what Stratford—and not Cyprus—is for you. And even I, not being an Englishman, could never agree that you should offer Shakespeare's birthplace to anybody in the world."
Perhaps the Bulgars would not have attacked us in this war if we had given Macedonia to them, although it is not certain, because the frontiers of their ambitions are in Constantinople, Salonica and on the Adriatic. Still Serbia could not barter her soul like Faust with Mephistopheles. Five hundred years ago the Serbs and Greeks defended Macedonia from the Turkish invasion. In 1912 it was Serbia with Greece again who liberated Macedonia from the Turkish yoke. Bulgaria never defended Macedonia from the Turks. Her first fighting for Macedonia was in 1913 against Serbs, Greeks and Roumanians. And Serbia sacrificed not only many things and many lives for Macedonia, but twice even her independence—once five hundred years ago, and for the second time at the present moment. Yes, Serbia is now killed because of Macedonia. Indeed, all Serbia's fighting and suffering have been because of Macedonia. She fought against the Turks because of Macedonia. She fought against the Bulgars because of Macedonia. And she now is losing her independence because of Macedonia. Because she could not give Macedonia, which means her glory, her history, her poetry, her soul, she is now trodden down and killed. Serbia could not live without Macedonia. Serbia did what she could—she died for Macedonia. And if one day, God willing, from this blessed island should sound the trumpet for the Resurrection for all the dead, killed by the German sword, I hope Serbia will rise from her grave together with Macedonia, as one body and one soul.
Serbia and the World-War.
In three years Serbia got three decisive victories which attracted attention to her in both hemispheres. She got a decisive victory at Kumanovo, against the Turks, in 1912. She got the second decisive victory on the Bregalniza, against the Bulgars, in 1913. She got a third decisive victory at Rudnik, against the Austrians and Magyars, in 1914. But finally she perished, in 1915, under the blow of the allied Turks, Bulgars, Austrians and Magyars with their common lord and leader against Serbia, the Germans.
"Because she caused this world-war. That is a just punishment which she well deserves," so say the Germans and their dupes. And saying so, they think of the assassination in Sarajevo. A Serbian boy killed the Crown Prince of Austria. Therefore Austria pretended to think that Serbia must lose her independence. To punish Serbia for the crime in Sarajevo, Austria sent the famous ultimatum to Serbia in the summer of 1914, asking nothing less than what Shylock asked from Antonio—his life. To punish Serbia, Germany made an alliance with the Bulgars, and sent her troops and her iron—the best product of their culture—to destroy the Serbian state, to devastate the Serbian country, and to take more than a million of human lives for the life of the Austrian Crown Prince. And this has been done with an unprecedented perfection. And this destructive deed has been praised with eloquent words in all the parliaments, churches, schools and papers all over Central Europe.
We could reply to this German accusation: "Did not your greatest national poet, Schiller, glorify William Tell, who killed Gesler, the Austrian tyrannous ruler in Switzerland? Why do you, who adore Schiller, and who praise William Tell's deed, blame the Serbian boy, Princip, who did the same thing in killing Franz Ferdinand, the tyrant of Bosnia, his fatherland? And after all, shall a whole nation, which was as surprised by the affair in Sarajevo as anyone in the world, be crushed because of the crime of one man? Is that the principle of Frederick the Great, or Leasing, or Kant and Schiller?"
The Magyars said through their leading men: "Serbia must be punished not because of the affair in Sarajevo, but because she is making a propaganda to liberate and unite all the Southern Slav people, which means a great blow for the Magyar interests and for the crown of Saint Stephen." Therefore the Magyars, rushing into Serbia in the first invasion, in August 1914, devastated a northern district of Serbia, the district of Drina, in such a way that only the Bulgars could compete with them. Henri Barby, the French publicist, has visited this district after the invasion. His description of the Magyar atrocities and the original pictures taken on the spot of the crimes committed make one ashamed to be the contemporary of such a nation.
We could reply to the Magyar accusations: "Not so much is it that Serbia has been making a propaganda to liberate her brothers from your yoke, as that they themselves have made this propaganda. Before the Crown Prince was killed in Sarajevo there were several outbursts in Agram on the Bans of Croatia, who were Magyar agents and tyrants just as Gesler was in Switzerland many hundred years ago. All the outbursts and all the tragi-comic high trials in Croatia, Bosnia and Dalmatia, all the successes of the Hapsburg Monarchy in the south and all the protests prove two things:
First, that the Southern Slavs, Serbia's brothers, have suffered and have been abased very much by the Magyar's brutal rule, and
Second, that they have grown to be free and to live independently from a nation which showed itself very inferior in many respects to the nation ruled by it.
The Bulgars even mocked the Serbs for allying themselves with the "degenerate" French, with the "faithless traders," the English, and with the "barbarians," the Russians. They mocked us that we have not been "real" politicians, that we have been stupid and could not foresee the German victory. They accused us even in their declaration of war of being "the felons" who caused the "world's conflagration." And they regarded as their mission to rise "in the name of civilisation" to punish "a criminal nation."
We Serbs have nothing to reply to this Bulgar mockery, since they distinctly claimed that they are not Slavs but Mongols; since they condemned the English, French and Russian civilisations, and declared themselves to be the champions of the true civilisation. I will tell you only how they fulfilled their "mission" in defending the human civilisation from the Serbs. I will not speak myself, but I will repeat what a well-known English gentleman reported from Salonica:
"About five o'clock in the afternoon, while we still waited for orders where to take our guns, we saw coming out of the town towards us a long, straggling procession of Serbian soldier prisoners, about 300, surrounded by a strong escort of infantry. They were of all ages, some young boys of 15, some old men, bowed of back, with grey in their beards, hungry-looking, ragged, bearing the marks of their long fight in the pass. They shambled along, evidently without any idea as to what their fate was to be, till they came close to where this newly-dug pit lay open. There the command to halt was given, and they stood or sat, surrounded by their guards, for about an hour.
"At the end of that time another body of men could be seen coming out of the town. They were Bulgarian cavalry, about eighty of them, with a captain in command. At a deliberate walk they came on towards the throng of prisoners and guards at the pit-side. When they were still several hundred yards away, a young Serbian soldier evidently grasped what was preparing. Making a sudden dart, he sprang through the cordon of guards, and was off, running at a surprising speed. The guards shouted, but their rifles, though with bayonets fixed, were not loaded, and it looked for the moment as if he might get clear away. Then the captain of the cavalry troop caught sight of him, turned round in the saddle, and shouted an order to his men. Half a dozen spurred their horses, and left the ranks at a gallop. It was a short chase. Hearing the thud of the horses' hoofs behind him, the young Serbian turned his head for an instant, then ran on faster than before. The galloping cavalry were soon close up with him. As the first man, with a shout, raised his sword, the fugitive doubled like a hare, and was away at right angles. Two more horsemen were close behind, though. The first rode him down; the second leaned out of his saddle and pierced him through, as he scrambled to regain his feet. By this time the guards with the rest of the Serbians had loaded their rifles, and stood round them in a ring, with levelled bayonets, while, huddled together, their prisoners embraced each other or sank in apathy to the ground.
"The cavalry captain rode up to the miserable throng. 'Each man will bind the eyes of his neighbour,' he shouted in Serbian. They did so. It took a long time, and was a pitiable sight. Some young boys were crying. Many of the men shouted defiance at the guards, who looked expectantly on, and at the cavalry, whose swords were drawn ready for the butchery. They blindfolded each other with strips torn from their waistcloths, or whatever else they had. 'Now kneel down,' came the harsh order, and one by one the victims crouched on the ground. The captain turned again to his troopers. 'Start work,' was the order he gave. The infantry guards, still keeping a circle to drive back any who might try to flee, drew off a little to give more room, and passing through the intervals of their line, the Bulgar cavalry rode in among the kneeling throng of prisoners at a canter. With yells of cruel delight they pushed to and fro, slashing and thrusting at the unarmed victims. Some of the Serbians tried to seize the dripping sabre blades in their hands. An arm slashed off at the shoulder would fall from their bodies. Others, tearing off the bandages that blindfolded them, attempted to unhorse their executioners, gripping them by the boot to throw them out of the saddle. But even the 300, though brave, could do nothing against eighty armed men.
"I could see the living trying to save themselves, crawling under the little heaps of dead. Others rushed towards the line of infantry, surrounding them, as if to break through to safety, but the foot soldiers, intoxicated by the sight of the deliberate bloodshed going on before their eyes, ran to meet them with their bayonets, and thrust them through and through again with savage cries. 'We are doing this in charity,' shouted some of the Bulgarians. 'We have no bread to feed you, so if we spared you it would be to die of hunger.' The massacre went on for half an hour. At the end of that time there was little left to kill, and the troopers were tired of cutting and thrusting. A few of them dismounted, and, sword in hand, walked here and there among the bleeding groups of dead, pricking them to see if any still lived. Some, though badly wounded, were still alive, but the Bulgarian captain did not give time for them all to be finished off, and at his orders the whole pile of murdered prisoners, whether breathing or extinct, were pushed by the infantry into the grave dug earlier in the afternoon, and earth shovelled at once on top of them."
"England betrayed the White Race!" So exclaimed the other day Herr Dernburg, the former German minister for the colonies. Why? Because England mobilised all the races, including the black and yellow, Negroes, Indians, Maoris and Japanese, against the Germans. Herr Dernburg thinks that England has very much damaged European civilisation by so doing. That is a very curious conception of the present world situation. I could reply to Herr Dernburg's objection:
First, the history of mankind does not report that the Negroes enslaved anybody and kept him enslaved through a bloody régime five hundred years long as the Turks, the German allies, did with the Balkan Christians.
Second, I never have been told that the Japanese are more barbarous people than the Magyars.
Third, I doubt very strongly that there is any madman in the world who will even try to make a comparison between the noble soul of India and a blood-thirsty subject of Ferdinand of Coburg.
And fourth, if Kaiser William with the Prussian junkers should govern Europe through the superman's philosophy and Krupp's industry, let us hurry to open the door of Europe as soon as possible for the Chinese and Japanese, for Indians and Negroes, and even for all the cannibals, the innocent doves, who need more time to eat up one fellow-man with their teeth than a trained Prussian needs to slaughter ten thousand by help of his "kultur."
If England is doing anything right she doubtless is doing right in mobilising all the nations, yea, all the human beings upon this planet, cultured or uncultured, civilised or uncivilised, of every colour of skin, of every size, to protest in this or another way against a military and inhuman civilisation which is worse than the most primitive barbarism of man. All the races of the world who are fighting to-day with England against Germany may not understand either each other's language or customs, religion or traditions, but they all understand one thing very well, i.e. that they must fight together against a nation which despises all other nations and tries to conquer them, to govern them, to suppress their language, their customs, their traditions and their belief in their own worth and mission in this world.
ONLY SOME ANECDOTES.
A Serbian detachment from the VIIth regiment had been ordered one night to cross the river Sava to make explorations about the positions and vigilance of the enemy. The soldiers prepared themselves to fulfil their task with silence and depression. The commander of the detachment remarked that and said:
"Yes, our task is very dangerous, my friends; we may die to-night, but remember that English lords on the battlefield to-night are in danger of death too for the same cause as we."
On hearing that the soldiers became cheerful.
An officer said to his private: "If I should be killed in the battle, don't leave my body here, but carry it to Kraguievaz, where my wife is, and bury it there."
It happened indeed that the officer was killed. The private asked permission to transfer the body as he was told. The permission was not given. In the night he took the dead body on his back, and after a journey of three nights brought it to Kraguievaz and buried it. Therefore he was judged by the military court and sentenced to a very heavy punishment. But he showed himself very satisfied, saying:
"I did what I was ordered and what I promised to do. Now you can sentence me even to death; at least I will not be ashamed in the other world meeting my commander."
In the offensive against the Austrians in December 1914 a Serbian company found in a trench three Magyar soldiers. They laid down their arms.
"Would you kill them, Andrea?" asked the officer of one of his men to prove him.
The man replied with astonishment:
Marko of Prilep never killed a disarmed man"
A peasant one day dug the ground behind his home. It was after the Austrian army had been beaten and repulsed, and the Serbian refugees returned home. The peasant was asked:
"What are you digging for?"
"Our tricolours. I put it three weeks ago under the ground. I was afraid the Austrians would spit on it, and it means the same as to spit in one's face."
In the battle on Krivolak a Serbian was wounded in the chest. He could scarcely breathe. He was sent to the hospital. Moving slowly, he came to a spot where he saw a wounded Bulgarian lying down among the dead and crying with pain, his legs being broken. The Serbian stood thoughtful a minute, then he took the enemy on his back and brought him to the hospital, both very exhausted. He was asked:
"Why did you take such a burden, since you are a burden to yourself?"
He kept silent for a moment and then replied:
"You know, sire, I have been shooting with all the others. Who knows, perhaps I wounded him."
"Why should not I believe in Fate?" an under-officer once asked me. "Should somebody relate to me what I am going to tell you, I could not believe it. But it happened to me. Once in my boyhood I cut the branches of a tree; a gipsy woman saw me and said:
"'Don't injure the tree; a tree may once save your life when all your hopes are gone.'
"Now, listen! I was taken prisoner by the Austrians. In their retreat they let me go with their column. We went through a thick forest. I thought myself lost. All my past life came before my eyes. I remembered the gipsy woman and her advice. I looked around. In a few moments I jumped aside and found myself on the top of a tree. Nobody saw me. Hours and hours the Austrians marched close to my protecting tree. At once two Magyar hussars rushed back looking around, evidently searching for me. They went. Then came our first advance guard, and I slipped down from the tree and surprised them. Is that not Fate?"
Typhus fever raged most in Valevo, where the Austrian troops came first and brought it, a worse enemy of Serbia than even the Austrians themselves. A Serbian women's association in Nish held a meeting and consulted a doctor how they could help.
"Don't go to Valevo," advised the doctor. "Whoever enters the hospital over there must die."
The president, a well-known woman, kept silent, went home, packed her luggage and took the first train for Valevo. After two weeks she was brought home infected by typhus, and died soon afterwards.
A patrician mother fled before the Bulgars with two girls. For several days they had nowhere to sleep and nothing to eat. As they reached the rocky frontier of Albania, the girls asked the mother:
"And now, whither?"
The mother smiled and said:
"I will give you now the last bit to eat, and then we will go where we will be perfectly safe from enemy and hunger."
And she gave to the girls and she herself took—poison.
In spring 1913 the Montenegrins took Scutari after immense sacrifice of lives. Yet they were forced by the Great Powers through Austria's intrigues to leave the very dear town. Soon afterwards a Serbian from Montenegro travelled from Cattaro to Fiume. An Austrian officer saw him in his picturesque costume, and said to him with irony:
"You see after all you must yield Scutari to us."
"Yes," replied the Montenegrin, "we Montenegrins and you Austrians are as different as lions and foxes. There are many dens of lions where the foxes creep in and not one den of foxes where you could find a lion."
SERBIA ON THE ISLANDS
Serbia suffered shipwreck, and her broken pieces are now dispersed all over the islands in the Mediterranean. A little island of the Serbian refugees is formed in Greece, and also in Italy, in France, in England and in America. And what happened with the ship of the Serbian nation? She plunged to the bottom of a hell of darkness and suffering. The people from the neutral countries coming now from Serbia describe Serbia as a silent grave, her towns with deserted streets, with plundered or shut-up shops, her villages under a nightmare of starvation. There are only children and women at home, and very soon there will be no more either children or women. The Russian and Italian prisoners are brought to Serbia to make roads, railways and fortifications for Serbia's enemies, and all the males from Serbia have been taken away—who can divine where? The Serbian bishops and priests, and all the leaders of the nation have been carried away too. There are neither leaders nor nation in the Serbian country. I don't exaggerate when I say that all the sufferings of poor and sorely stricken Belgium is still only a shadow of what Serbia sutlers in that dark corner of the world which is called the Balkans, far off from all friendly eyes, friendly ears and hearts. Yet I will not compare the sufferings of all these nations crucified and martyred by the Germans. I will say only that martyred Serbia, with Montenegro, has been recently ranked among the other martyred nations: Poland, Belgium and Armenia. Her cross is very heavy, her wounds very deep, her bleeding deadly. I know, gentlemen, how your generous hearts are now quite open for Serbia. But, unfortunately, Serbia is now closed to your generosity. Between your generosity and Serbia's suffering, between your medicaments and her wounds, between your bread and her hunger, there stands a hedge of Germano-Bulgar bayonets. All that you can do is to save Serbia on the islands, and, if possible, to hurry to liberate Serbia's country from the darkest slavery in which she was ever plunged. Serbia on the islands—it seems so—will be the only population of the future Serbia. Those who escaped from the Germano-Bulgar annihilation will be the people who will enter into the Promised Land, into free Serbia. I am sure you will save in time these remnants of the Serbian nation, which is now as always the faithful English ally and admirer. I am sure you will give protection to them who have given you, in the time of light and in the time of darkness, their friendship and devotion. By this protection of Serbia, as well as of all the little and oppressed nations in Europe and Asia, you will do more for the glory of your country than by any extension of its frontier or accumulation of riches. Serbia suffers and still hopes. Serbia's hopes go to God, crossing this island of yours, crossing your hearts and souls, as the bridge between her and God. Serbia hopes to be free with all her brothers, who are suffering under the manifold yokes of merciless strangers. Serbia militans did every possible thing you expected her to do. She has been for you, not only politically and militantly, correct, but childish, sincere and devout. Now she is sitting on your threshold and looking towards you with shining tears in her eyes. And the God of Heaven knows Serbia and knows England. He waits to see what you are going to do for Serbia. Who dares to doubt that you, descendants of Shakespeare and Pitt, of Carlyle and Gladstone, will show yourself less chivalrous towards the little Serbia than Serbia has shown herself chivalrous towards you?
I dare not doubt it.
FRAGMENTS OF SERBIAN NATIONAL WISDOM
Be as patient as an ox, as brave as a lion, as industrious as a bee, and as cheerful as a bird.
Help the beggar. He is not a beggar because God cannot feed all His children, but because He placed him as a beggar on the street to test your heart.
Every penny that you give to a beggar, God counts double as His debt to you.
What is the first principle for humanity?
Some say to eat, others not to eat.
Some say to speak, others to remain silent.
Some say to hasten, others to go slowly.
Some say to work, others to idle.
Some say to pray, others not to pray.
Some say to destroy life, and others to preserve it.
What, then, is this first principle?
It is Life and Death, and God over both.
The moonlight accentuates the silence of the churchyard, the sunshine the clamour of the market-place.
By our good works we help God very little, and by our evil deeds we do Him no harm. But by our good works we help ourselves, and by our evil deeds we harm ourselves. Nevertheless, do good not for your own sake, but for God's, so that your joy may be greater and your determination more lasting.
Sin is worse than failure.
Vice is worse than sin.
Obstinacy in evil is worse than vice.
To be a drunkard means making an alliance with Satan, to steal means to do Satan's work, and to kill means to become Satan's slave.
Whether you go slowly or quickly,
Death keeps his appointment.
There are three kinds of men: first, those who plough and sow with the devil; second, those who plough with the devil and sow with God; and third, those who plough and sow with God.
The riddle of life is so mysterious that the more we try to solve it the deeper seems the mystery, but the more we work and pray, the nearer seems the solution.
Scrutiny magnifies the enigma of life, prayer lessens it.
Whether righteous or unrighteous, you must die; but if you die righteous you will be mourned, but if unrighteous you will be scoffed at.
If I see your eyes, I know you a little.
If I hear your voice, I know you still more.
If I see your actions, I will know you altogether.
When Christ Crucified was contemptuously asked by His executioners why His followers were not trying to avenge Him, He answered: "They will not remove your sin by committing one of their own."
When St. Peter was asked why he would be crucified head down, he answered: "Because in leaving this life I wish to look toward heaven, not toward you."
A man, asked what two things he did not like, said a worm in the ear and an enemy at the door.
A man, asked what things he disliked, said an old bachelor telling love stories of his youth.
A hermit, asked what excited his compassion most, said an ox with a thorn in his foot and a man whose feet have never felt the thorn; or a thirsty eagle in a desert and a man who has never felt thirst.
There are two brotherhoods among men, that of purity and that of impurity.
Be as courageous as the days which come and go, even when they know that men are waiting to fill them with impurity.
If a man casts clay at the sun, it falls back on his face; if he casts stones against God, they fall on his head.
The man who utters lies defiles not only the air, but his own heart. The man who counts gold pieces in the dark has only gold for his sun and is miserable.
Both man and the air are purified by movement.
By using our hands we become strong; by using our brains, wise; and by using our hearts, merciful.
When the cow lies down to ruminate and a man goes to do evil, the cow is better than the man.
When an oak turns towards the sun to enjoy its life, and a man comes with an axe to cut it down, the oak is better than the man.
A gold piece lying shining in the dust is better than the man attempting to steal it.
Life has silken wings, but Death uses iron scissors.
Our disappointments prove only that Fate refuses to further our projects in life.
Happiness forgets many, Death nobody.
Life allures us with a full glass, and in the end casts us and the glass together into the grave.
Life and Death are each other's heirs.
Living, we see the bright side of life and the dark side of death, but afterwards we will see each reversed.
As many tears and sighs are caused by life as by death.
A man cannot understand his father until he has experienced fatherhood, nor can a woman understand her mother before she herself becomes a mother.
Our birth is a mingling of pleasure and pain; the pain sanctifies the pleasure.
Although opposed, the pleasure and the pain lend strength to one another.
Even the thief pays for what he steals, for in getting an inch of good for his body he loses an inch of his soul.
In this life God follows you as your shadow, in the next you will go as God's shadow.
Seeing, suffering, and death are three teachers of men. Seeing makes men wise, suffering makes them wiser, and death makes them wisest of all.
The finest music of hearts and stars is heard only in the silence of death.
In every humble superstition there is greater beauty than in any vain-glorious wisdom.
Man's greatest wisdom is nearer the wisdom of the horse than it is to the wisdom of God.
Our bodies are only bridges over which our souls communicate with one another.
Our eyes are windows of our souls, Hypocrisy is a curtain covering these windows.
What is Death?
If you are freezing on a winter night, it is a warm couch.
If you are hungry, it is a place where hunger is never felt.
If you are persecuted, it is a kind-hearted overlord who welcomes you at the open door.
If you are alone and forgotten, it is a hall where your dearest kinsmen are expecting you.
If you are a sinner, then it is for you a period of pain and shame.
If you are a slave, it is your liberty.
A slave came daily to a noisy brook and, sitting down, listened in silence. "Why do you come every day to me?" asked the brook. "I am condemned to silence by my tyrants, and I come to voice my complaints through your clamorous babbling."
A slave listened every night to a nightingale. "Why are you listening to me?" said the bird. The answer was: "My ears are denied all day by the curses of my master, and I listen all night to your voice so that my ears may be purified."
A slave looked every day towards the clouds. "O man, why do you look at us?" said the clouds. "Because," said the slave, "I hope you understand my thought, and will tell them to Him to whom you are nearer than I am."
Until a man is a father he looks back to his own father; when he is himself a father he looks forward and loses his father.
Men with little wisdom have much passion; men with much wisdom have great compassion and little passion.
Never in prayer try to teach God what He should do for you, but rather ask Him what you should do for Him.
Too much light as well as too much darkness causes blindness.
Construct a better world, and then you may say that this one is bad.
When you kill a lion, you can say: "I sinned because I killed my brother." When you kill a man, you can say: "I sinned because I killed myself."
If you love God, you cannot fear Him; if you fear Him, you cannot love Him.
Be humble, for the worst thing in the world is of the same stuff as you; be confident, for the stars are of the same stuff as you.
When the wind blows, the fool tries to compete by shouting.
Summer is most loved in winter, and winter in summer.
Ugliness moves slowly, but beauty is in great haste.
God speaks every language except the godless,
God grants everything except eternity,
God takes back everything but sins.
The best thing that the last man on earth can do is just what the first man could do. He can kneel on the earth, his mother, and pray to God, his father.
The fool is wisest when he sleeps; the wise man is most foolish when he dances.
When young men stand at the bier of an old man, it is pathetic; if old men stand at the bier of a young man, it is grievous; but God sees all and keeps silent. Why should you lament?
If you kill a solitary man, his kinsmen from the other world will persecute you.
Nobody can forever conceal what is good in you, nor can you yourself conceal what is evil.
There is no real death except the death of the soul.
There is no real joy except the joy of a righteous man.
The joy of the sinner is half joy and half retribution.
The eyes are the controller of the tongue. A clever man tells his lies with his eyes closed.
What is the news?
There is no news but what is half old.
It is better to talk about what you know than to talk about what you do not know.
He who can love passionately can hate passionately. Maternal love is most enduring, a brother's hatred the shortest.
There is no harvest without seed. We see often a harvest of evil, the seed of which time has concealed.
In the life to come all our senses will be doubled and quadrupled, so that when we see we shall see not only with our eyes but with our whole being, and when we hear and when we smell or taste it is the same. Thus will it be where the morning sun shines always.
We see only the beams of the sun, but the spirits also hear them; we hear the song of the nightingale, but the spirits also see it.
In the next world what we now hear we shall see; what we now see we shall hear, and shall taste what we now smell.
Gold shines, and by shining speaks. How can you understand its language? God does, because He sent its language to the gold.
What is man? Something between God and clay.
What is clay? Something that God makes.
What is God? Something of which clay and man are the shadow.
It is no wonder that an animal should be selfish, not knowing its end. But it is wonderful that man can be selfish, knowing and foreseeing his end.
A Turk once asked a Serb why the Serbs wept so much. The Serb replied, "To wash away your Turkish sins."
A Turk asked a Serb why the Serbs reminded people of the field of Kossovo. "Because," said the Serb, "our dead are better than your living."
All men are born in an impure state, but only the good reach a state of purity in life and in death.
Men are unhappy when striving to know all truth, because truth is greater than their life, and for this life only a small part of truth is necessary.
A wolf, asked when he would stop killing sheep, replied, "When man stops killing man."
The grass in the field, asked if it were not ashamed always to see nothing but the feet of men, replied: "Not so much ashamed as men should be when they never see our heads."
A good custom hallows life and keeps men in brotherly unity.
Not God, but the prophets make division among men.
God likes it more if you think, than if you speak about Him. In speaking evil of Him you do harm not only to yourself, but to your hearers too.
Different languages, but the same prayer; different prayers, but the same God.
God is the spirit and form-maker; man is only the imitator of the form-maker.
A silver piece, asked what it was worth, replied: "If a man could shine as I can, then I am merely worth a man."
When the Lord speaks you have to be silent; and the Lord speaks in the night through the stars, in the day through better men than you.
The foolish man speaks much because he has to apologise his foolishness, but why must you speak so much?
The man who fears customs fears the touch of dead and living.
Under every success lies a new enemy, the demon of pride.
Do not despise even the cicadas; their song is the only solace to the slave in prison.
Among all immoderate things the unrestrained tongue is the most annoying.
Death is not a punishment for him that dies, but a warning for the living.
A long work and a short prayer edifies the house, but a long prayer and a short work destroys it.
Life without prayer—night without moonlight.
God is not hidden, but our eyes are too small to see Him.
The smile in the sunshine is easy and common; the smile in the stormy weather is beautiful and rare.
It is better to go to bed hungry than with a stolen supper in the stomach.
If you like to get friendship from a man, say only a good word about him in his absence. If you like to pacify a dog, say a good word to his face.
Life gives to every slave an empty glass to fill it either with tears or with hopes.
When God wishes to punish a man He lets him be born among the rough neighbours.
The night rebuked the clouds because they were so black. The wolf rebuked the dog because he was so wicked.
It is better to be as patient as God than as righteous as God.
By true prayer we confess our sins; by false prayer we report our deeds to God.
Every welcome guest may fail to come, except death, the most unwelcome.
The grass asked a cow: "Is it right that you eat me and tread on me?" "I don't know," replied the cow; "but tell me: Is it right that the grass grows up from the bodies of my parents and will grow up from my own body?"
Solitude is full of God. Worldly clamour is godless. In solitude one feels both eternity of time and immensity of space. In worldly clamour one feels eternity and immensity only when death intervenes.
The birds think that men cannot understand each other. Why should not men think better of birds?
The wise man feels God most in the silence of night; the child most in the crash of lightnings and in the rolling waters.
Three persons rushed the same way: a child, a learned man and a poor man. "Where to?" asked the angel.
"To grow old quickly and to see God," said the child.
"To acquire profit and learning, and to know God," said the learned man.
"To become rich and to serve God," said the poor man."
The angel said:
"If the clear eyes of a child cannot see God, how can the dim eye of passionate man see Him?
"If the simple mind of the unlearned man cannot know God, how can the bewildered mind of a learned man know Him?
"If a poor man cannot serve God with his heart, how can a rich one serve Him with gold?"
If you marry, you will repent; if you do not marry, you will likewise repent.
We never repent our brutality as much as our vulgarity. In being brutal we are equal to animals, but in being vulgar we are below them.
When two blind men sit quarrelling about what is light, they are like two men quarrelling about what is God.
A bird speaks and you do not understand, but God does, for it speaks his language. A lion speaks and you do not understand, but God does. The lion speaks his language.
A brook speaks, and you stand on the bank and do not understand it, but God does. He made the brook's language.
An oak speaks, and you wonder what it may say, but God does not wonder. He made the oak's language.
The devil has hopes as a man has, for he hopes that at the end God will listen to him, and the man hopes that at the end all men will listen to God.
Every murder means also partly a suicide.
If you oppose a boastful man, he will believe his own words and hate you. If you listen to him silently and go from him silently, he will feel himself punished, and will follow you and ask you, if you believed his words.
What represents a boastful man? Poverty in spirit or in heart and wealth in words.
The universe is too big for you to ask it to serve you, and you are too little to hope to change it.
Blood binds men with a thread, but love binds them with a metal band.
The bonds of blood hold longer,
The bonds of love hold stronger.
Easier it is for the sun to hate its own light than for a mother to hate her own son.
When men are quarrelling about the land, God is standing among them and whispering: "I am the Proprietor!"
God may be either accompanying or pursuing you. It depends upon you.
A lake at the foot of a mountain is a mirror for the mountain; just so is the past a mirror for mankind.
A pine-tree looks towards heaven expecting with confidence rain, snow, or light. You can protect yourself from rain, snow and light, but there is no roof to protect you from death.
Our life is obscure, our death is obscure; God is the only light of both.
Our body is fragile, our soul is fragile; God is the only strength of both. Our works are dust, our hopes are dust; God only makes both enduring.
From three sides God encircles us; He remains behind us in the past, He is with us in the present, and He awaits us in the future.
Death relieves a rich man more than a poor one, for from the poor man it takes only life, while from the rich it takes both life and fortune.
If you cannot admire the animal's dull life, you must at least admire its noiseless death.
The sea, when asked why it roared, replied: "To show men how petty their noisy quarrels are."
An oak, when asked in what way it thought oaks superior to men, said: "We oaks are more decent in taking our food, for we hide our mouths and eat only in the darkness under the earth."
A raven, when asked the difference between the flesh of an innocent man and a wicked one, replied: "The flesh of an innocent man supports my life, but the flesh of a wicked man is difficult for me to find."
A dog knows the world by smell, a wolf by appetite, a bird by hearing, a worm by tasting. and a man by seeing.
Are you afraid to touch the unclean man? The sun which is purer than you is not afraid.
Except his soul, there is nothing in man which can be saved from corruption.
A little dog said to a wolf: "Don't eat me now; when my teeth have grown, I will be sweeter for you."
A calf said to the cow, its mother, who wore a heavy yoke: "You are old enough not to be so stupid as to wear a yoke." "Wait a little," replied the cow, "and by degrees you will take my burden, if you should not be roast meat sooner."
What is it to be a gentleman? To be the first to thank, and the last to complain.
The words "Thank you" show that life is founded on injustice.
Death is the cleverest thief. He can steal a living man who is surrounded by the most formidable guard.
The water shines because the sun shines. Gold shines because the sun shines. Snow shines because the sun shines. The sun shines because God shines, and He shines because He is God.
Every tear is not a sign of distress; every smile is not a sign of joy.
Wine and beauty can both intoxicate, but without passion neither can cause real intoxication.
Death and passion are only different temperatures of man. We can change the temperature of passion, but God only can change the temperature of death.
Copper is fine, but gold is finer. Gold is fine, but the air is finer. The air is fine, but the spirit is finer. The spirit is fine, but God is finer. One can live without copper, but not without gold. One can live without gold, but not without air. One can live without air, but not without spirit. One can live without spirit, but not without God.
Many people sing, but few are singers.
Many people write, but few are writers.
Many people speak, but few are orators.
Many people think, but few are thinkers.
Many people pray, but few are religious.
Many people smile, but few are happy.
Many people hope, but few are not disappointed.
Many people die, but few will survive.
Sweetness and bitterness are enemies, but both are necessary in this world.
Light and darkness are enemies, but both are necessary.
Poison may do no harm if used properly; nor is darkness harmful if it comes and goes at due times.
It is better that your good deed should be forgotten than that your evil deed should make you famous.
You will begin to be a good man when you prefer anonymity to false fame.
If you offend a mother, remember that her son will be angry with you, and you will understand him because you are a son too.
If you offend a girl, remember that her brother will be angry with you, and you will understand because you are a brother too.
If you hate a man, remember that there is a woman who does better than that, for he had a mother who loves him. Can you not equal a woman?
God and a mother asked each other the same question: "How long will you continue to forgive your children?"
A man is like a drop of water, but mankind is like the ocean. A drop of water cannot endure a look of the sun, but the ocean bears iron and lead.
A man is like one blade of grass. Mankind is like a meadow. A traveller going along does not see the blade, but the meadow rejoices his sight.
A man's life is not one man's life, but is the life of mankind so closely interwoven that it resembles the carpet covering the floor of a room.
Things happen to-day, the cause of which began yesterday; but things also happen to-day, the cause of which date from the beginning of the world.
Man grows old, but not the world. Man dies, but the world cannot.
The world cannot die, because it is in touch with God, and therefore is immortal.
Not everything is in touch with God, nor yet with the sun.
Everything is affected by the sun directly or indirectly, and the same is true of God.
The best things are a bridge between God and the world, but God only knows what the best things are.
Cold makes darkness deeper, just as darkness makes cold more intense. The progress of the heart is slower than the progress of the brain.
A serpent lives in the water, but the water is not poisonous; if your tongue is poisonous, keep the mouth closed so as not to poison the air.
Giving is pleasanter than receiving.
A king boasted that he would rule all the earth, but the sun looking down upon him could not distinguish him from the clay on which he stood.
That man is my friend who lives laboriously like the bee and dies quietly like the grass.
When wolves and sheep are brothers, what will the wolves eat?
Lift up your hearts to heaven. The foulest water is purified when it is lifted to the clouds of heaven.
The greatest pain should not be the subject of speech.
The headache is worse than a pain in the hand, a toothache than a headache, crucifixion than toothache, and hopeless slavery than crucifixion.
A gipsy, asked what pain is greatest, said: "To be hungry and to see bread before the householder's dog."
A mother, asked what pain is greatest, said: "To see a snake coming from the grave of one's child."
A man, asked what three things he did not like, said: "To be compelled to cut down the tree planted by his own hands, to be on the watch for a blow, and to go hunting with a deaf man."
Economise in speaking, but not in thinking.
Only an oath to do evil may you break with God's permission.
If you have fixed to-morrow as a day for revenge, do not sleep but talk with death, and see if it were not better to postpone your vengeance.
If you help a beggar, you wipe out the fault of your ancestors.
When will the world become better? When the ass stops competing with the nightingale.
When will the world become better? When men build two bridges—one to God and one to nature—and when rich men learn to consider themselves great debtors to God.
God is more silent than silence in observing sins, and more audible than a cart in punishing them.
God and sinners wish to annihilate one another.
A Turk asked a Serb what there would be at the end. The answer was: "I know not what there will be, but I know what there will not be—there will not be Turkish dominion over Serbia."
The imitator remains in the shadow of him whom he imitates. The imitated lives in the sunshine, but the imitator remains always in shadow.
FRAGMENTS OF SERBIAN POPULAR POETRY
Hark! the moon is to the day-star calling:
"Morning star! say, where hast thou been wandering;
Tell me where thou hast so long been lingering;
Where hast white days three so wasted,—tell me?"
To the moon, anon, the day-star answer'd:
"I have wander'd, moon! and I have linger'd,
Lingered o'er Belgrad's white towers, and wondered
At the marvellous things which I have witnessed:
How two brothers have their wealth partitioned,
Jakshich Dmitar and Jakshich Bogdana.
They had thus arranged the shares allotted,
Well their father's substance had divided:
Dmitar took Wallachia for his portion,
Took Wallachia and entire Moldavia;
Banat also, to the river Danube.
Bogdan took the level plains of Sermia,
And the even country of the Sava;
Servia, too, as far as Ujitz's fortress.
Dmitar took the lower fortress'd cities,
And Neboisha's tower upon the Danube;
Bogdan took the upper fortress'd cities,
And the church-possessing town, Rujitza.
Then a strife arose about a trifle,—
Such a trifle; but a feud soon follow'd,—
A black courser and a grey-wing'd falcon!
Dmitar claims the steed, as elder brother
Claims the steed, and claims the grey-wing'd falcon.
Bogdan will not yield or horse or falcon.
When the morning of the morrow waken'd,
Dmitar flung him on the sable courser,
Took upon his hand the grey-wing'd falcon,
Went to hunt into the mountain forest;
And he called his wife, fair Angelia:
'Angelia! thou my faithful lady!
Kill with poison thou my brother Bogdan;
But if thou refuse to kill my brother,
Tarry thou in my white court no longer.'
When the lady heard her lord's commandments,
Down she sat all sorrowful and gloomy;
To herself she thought, and said in silence,
—'And shall I attempt it?—I, poor cuckoo!
Shall I kill my brother—kill with poison!—
'Twere a monstrous crime before high heaven,
'Twere a sin and shame before my people.
Great and small would point their fingers at me,
Saying,—'That is the unhappy woman,
That is she who kill'd her husband's brother!'
But if I refuse to poison Bogdan,
Never will my husband come to bless me!'
Thus she thought, until a thought relieved her;
She descended to the castle's cavern,
Took the consecrated cup of blessing.
'Twas a cup of beaten gold her father
Had bestow'd upon his daughter's nuptials;
Full of golden wine she fill'd the vessel,
And she bore it to her brother Bogdan.
Low to earth she bow'd herself before him,
And she kiss'd his hands and garments meekly.
'Lo! I bring to thee this cup, my brother!
This gold cup, with golden wine o'erflowing.
Give me for my cup a horse and falcon.'
Bogdan heard the lady speak complacent,
And most cheerfully gave steed and falcon.
Meanwhile through the day was Dmitar wandering
In the mountain-forest; nought he found there;
But chance brought him at the fall of evening
To a green lake far within the forest,
Where a golden-pinion'd duck was swimming.
Dmitar loosen'd then his grey-wing'd falcon,
Bade him seize the golden-pinion'd swimmer.
Faster than the hunter's eye could follow,
Lo! the duck had seized the grey-wing'd falcon,
And against his sides had crush'd his pinion.
Soon as Dmitar Jakshich saw, he stripp'd him,
Stripp'd him swiftly of his hunting garments;—
Speedily into the lake he plung'd him,
And he bore his falcon from its waters.
Then with pitying voice he ask'd his falcon:
'Hast thou courage yet, my faithful falcon!
Now thy wings are from thy body riven?'
Whispering, said the falcon to his master:
'I without my pinions nought resemble,
But a brother riven from a brother.'
Then the thought pierced through the breast of Dmitar,
That his wife was charged to kill his brother.
Swift he threw him on his mighty courser—
Swift he hurried to Bijögrad's fortress,
Praying that his brother had not perish'd.
He had hardly reached the bridge of Chekmel,
When he spurr'd his raven steed so fiercely
That the impetuous courser's feet sank under,
And were crushed and broken on the pavement.
In his deep perplexity and trouble,
Dmitar took the saddle off his courser,
Flung it on the courser's nether haunches,
And he fled alone to Belgrad's fortress.
First he sought, impatient, for his lady—
'Angelia! thou my bride all faithful!
Tell me, tell me, hast thou kill'd my brother?'
Sweet indeed was Angelia's answer:
'No! indeed I have not killed thy brother;
To thy brother have I reconciled thee.'"
JELITZA AND HER BROTHERS.
Nine fair sons possessed a happy mother;
And the tenth, the loveliest and the latest,
Was Jelitza,—a beloved daughter.
They had grown together up to manhood,
Till the sons were ripe for bridal altars,
And the maid was ready for betrothing.
Many a lover asked the maid in marriage;
First a Ban; a chieftain was the other;
And the third, a neighbour from her village.
So her mother for the neighbour pleaded;
For the far-off dwelling ban her brothers.
Thus they urged it to their lovely sister:
"Go, we pray thee, our beloved sister,
With the ban across the distant waters:
Go! thy brothers oft will hasten to thee;
Every month of every year will seek thee;
Every week of every month will seek thee."
So the maiden listened to her brothers,
With the ban she crossed the distant waters:
But, behold! 0 melancholy marvel!
God sent down the plague, and all the brothers.
All the nine, were swept away, and lonely
Stood their miserable sonless mother.
Three long years had pass'd away unheeded;
Often had Jelitza sighed in silence:
"Heaven of mercy! 'tis indeed a marvel!
Have I sinn'd against them?—that my brothers,
Spite of all their vows, come never near me."
Then did her stepsisters scorn and jeer her:
"Cast away! thy brothers must despise thee!
Never have they come to greet their sister."
Bitter was the sorrow of Jelitza,
Bitter from the morning to the evening,
Till the God of heaven took pity on her,
And he summon'd two celestial angels:
"Hasten down to earth," he said, "my angels!
To the white grave, where Jovan is sleeping,—
Young Jovan, the maiden's youngest brother.
Breathe your spirit into him; and fashion
From the white grave-stone a steed to bear him:
From the mouldering earth his food prepare him:
Let him take his grave shroud for a present!
Then equip and send him to his sister."
Swiftly hasten'd God's celestial angels
To the white grave where Jovan was sleeping.
From the white grave-stone a steed they fashion'd;
Into his dead corpse they breathed their spirit;
From the ready earth the bread they moulded;
For a present his grave-shroud they folded;
And equipp'd, and bade him seek his sister.
Swiftly rode Jovan to greet his sister.
Long before he had approach'd her dwelling,
Far, far off his sister saw and hail'd him;
Hastened to him—threw her on his bosom,
Loosed his vest, and stamp'd his cheeks with kisses.
Then she sobb'd with bitterness and anguish,
Then she wept, and thus address'd her brother:
"0! Jovan! to me—to me, a maiden,
Thou, and all my brothers, all, ye promised
Oft and oft to seek your distant sister:
Every month in every year to seek her,—
Every week in every month to seek her.
Three long years have sped away unheeded,
And ye have not sought me"—For a moment
She was silent; and then said, "My brother!
Thou art deadly pale! why look so deadly
Pale, as if in death thou hadst been sleeping?"
But Jovan thus check'd his sister: "Silence,
Silence, sister! as in God thou trustest;
For a heavy sorrow has o'erta'en me.
When eight brothers had prepared their nuptials,
Eight stepsisters ready to espouse them,
Hardly was the marriage service ended
Ere we built us eight white dwellings, sister!
Therefore do I look so dark, Jelitza."
Three white days had pass'd away unheeded,
And the maid equipp'd her for a journey.
Many a costly present she provided
For her brothers and her bridal sisters:
For her brothers, fairest silken vestments;
For her bridal-sisters, rings and jewels.
But Jovan would fain detain her—"Go not,
Go not now, I pray thee—my Jelitza!
Wait until thy brothers come and greet thee."
But she would not listen to her brother:
She prepared the costliest, fairest presents.
So the young Jovan began his journey,
And his sister travell'd patient by him.
So as they approach'd their mother's dwelling,
Near the house a tall white church was standing,
Young Jovan he whispered to his sister—
"Stop, I pray thee, my beloved sister!
Let me enter the white church an instant.
When my middle brother here was married,
Lo! I lost a golden ring, my sister!
Let me go an instant—I shall find it."
Jovan went—into his grave he glided—
And Jelitza stood—she stood impatient—
Wondering—wondering—but in vain she waited.
Then she left the spot to seek her brother.
Many and many a grave was in the churchyard
Newly made—Jovan was nowhere—Sighing,
On she hasten'd—hasten'd to the city,
Saw her mother's dwelling, and press'd forward
Eager to that old white dwelling.
To that cuckoo's cry within the dwelling!
Lo! it was not the gray cuckoo's crying—
'Twas her aged, her gray-headed mother.
To the door Jelitza press'd—outstretching
Her white neck, she call'd—"Make ope, my mother!
Hasten to make ope the door, my mother!"
But her mother to her cry made answer:
"Plague of God! avaunt! my sons have perish'd—
All—all nine have perish'd—Wilt thou also,
Take their aged mother!" Then Jelitza
Shriek'd, "0 open—open, dearest mother!
I am not God's plague—I am thy daughter,
Thine own daughter—thy Jelitza, mother!"
Then the mother push'd the door wide open,
And she scream'd aloud, and groan'd, and flung her
Old arms round her daughter—All was silent—
Stiff and dead they fell to earth together.
THE HOLY NICHOLAS.
God of mercy! what a wond'rous wonder!
Such a wonder ne'er before was witness'd.
In Saint Paul's—within the holy cloister,
Gather'd round a golden table, seated
In three ranks, the saints are all collected;
O'er them sits the thunderer Elias;
In the midst are Sava and Maria;
At the ends are Petka and Nedelia;
And their health the holy Nicholas pledges.
Pledges them their health to Jesus' glory.
But behold, behold the saint!—he slumbers;
From his hand the cup of wine has fallen,
Fallen from it on the golden table:
Yet the wine's unspilt,—the cup unbroken.
Then laughed out the thunderer Elias:
"0 my brother! 0 thou holy Nicholas:
Often drank we cooling wine together;
But it was our duty not to slumber,
Not to drop the cup—And tell me, brother,
Why to-day does slumber's power subdue thee?"
Him thus answer'd Nicholas the holy:
"Jest not thus with me, thou sainted thunderer!
For I fell asleep, and dreamt three hundred,
Dreamt three hundred friars had embark'd them
In one vessel on the azure ocean;
Bearing offerings to the holy mountain,
Offerings,—golden wax, and snowy incense.
From the clouds there broke a furious tempest,
Lash'd the blue waves of the trembling ocean,
Scooping watery graves for all the friars.
Then I heard their blended voices call me,
'Help, 0 God! and help, 0 holy Nicholas!
Would that thou, where'er thou art, wert with us!'
So I hurried down to help the suppliants—
So I saved the whole three hundred friars
So I shipped them full of joy and courage;
Brought their offerings to the holy mountain,
Brought their golden wax, their snowy incense;—
And meanwhile I seem'd in gentle slumber,
And my cup fell on the golden table."
THE MAIDEN AND THE SUN.
A maiden proudly thus the sun accosted:
"Sun! I am fairer than thou,—far fairer;
Fairer than is thy sister or thy brethren,—
Fairer than yon bright moon at midnight shining,
Fairer than yon gay star in heav'n's arch twinkling,
That star, all other stars preceding proudly,
As walks before his sheep the careful shepherd."
The sun complain'd to God of such an insult:
"What shall be done with this presumptuous maiden?"
And to the sun God gave a speedy answer:
"Thou glorious Sun! thou my beloved daughter!
Be joyous yet! say, why art thou dejected?
Wilt thou reward the maiden for her folly—
Shine on, and burn the maiden's snowy forehead.
But I a gloomier dowry yet will give her;
Evil to her shall be her husband's brother;
Evil to her shall be her husband's father.
Then shall she think upon the affront she gave thee."
Thick fell the snow upon St. George's day;
The little birds all left their cloudy bed;
The maiden wander'd bare-foot on her way;
Her brother bore her sandals, and he said:
"0 sister mine! cold, cold thy feet must be."
"No! not my feet, sweet brother! not my feet—
But my poor heart is cold with misery.
There's nought to chill me in the snowy sleet:
My mother—'tis my mother who hath chill'd me,
Bound me to one who with disgust hath fill'd me."
Nightingale sings sweetly
In the verdant forest:
In the verdant forest,
On the slender branches.
Thither came three sportsmen,
Nightingale to shoot at.
She implored the sportsmen,
"Shoot me not, ye sportsmen!
"Shoot me not, ye sportsmen!
I will give you music,
In the verdant garden,
On the crimson rose-tree."
But the sportsmen seize her;
They deceive the songster,
In a cage confine her,
Give her to their loved one.
Nightingale will sing not—
Hangs its head in silence:
Then the sportsmen bear her
To the verdant forests.
Soon her song is waken'd;
Woe! woe! woe betide us,
Friend from friend divided,
Bird from forest banish'd!"
Two solitary sisters, who
A brother's fondness never knew,
Agreed, poor girls, with one another,
That they would make themselves a brother:
They cut them silk, as snow-drops white;
And silk, as richest rubies bright;
They carved his body from a bough
Of box-tree from the mountain's brow;
Two jewels dark for eyes they gave;
For eyebrows, from the ocean's wave
They took two leeches; and for teeth
Fix'd pearls above, and pearls beneath;
For food they gave him honey sweet,
And said, "Now live, and speak, and eat."