What is the reason for
the cruel fate of our dear
Because you want to bring some innocent benefit to your people, because you want to revive your suppressed mother tongue, because you want to write in Bulgarian and not in Greek, because you want to praise the name of God in your own language, because you don't want anyone to ridicule your faith - the faith in which you were born, brought up and which was bequeathed to you by your forefathers.
Look, brothers, look and see what the proud Phanariot is doing: riding a swift, jet-black horse, like a kurdzhali deli-pasha, and followed by a whole host of Turkish soldiers he has set forth to subdue the disobedient Bulgarians. Just listen to what the folk song says: 'Who has ever heard of a bishop being a Turk..,' Look what he is doing in his room: a young couple is standing before him, bowing low to him and kissing his raiment, to ask for his permission to get married. And what is his answer? With a long chibouk in his mouth, a sullen face» and a frown, he says: 'You Bulgarian blockhead, either you will give me 5,000 piastres or you will lie in chains until you rot ...'
people! Kind people! Hear
our folk songs and you will see what burning tears
Allow me, brothers, without being prepared to say a word or two in memory of our Bulgarian benefactor the late Ivan Nikolayevich Denkoglu. Allow me, I repeat, to say a few words which may be very week, but which come from the bottom of my heart and which, I think, express not only my personal gratitude and appreciation, but also that of all the young Bulgarians studying in Orthodox Moscow at the moment in order to enlighten our common poor mother - Bulgaria, gratitude and appreciation which we should feel for our benefactor and for the other benefactors whom we have lately lost, one after another, in the course of only half a year.
Is it not true, brothers, that this half year of 1860-1861 has been very unfortunate for us - Bulgarians? Is it not true (to say it in the simple language of the people) that this half-year has been wretched and hard? Yes, in half a year we have lost three of our benefactors whose names we know very well; in half a year we have been deprived of three excellent and virtuous men.
Ivan Nikolayevich was born in Sredets, once the glorious capital of King Assen, which is closely connected with the region of Salonica, which is inhabited by Slavs and is the birthplace of our first Slav enlighteners Cyril and Methodius, a region which was the first of all Slav lands to hear from their mouths the holy gospel and to take the sacred books from their hands, a region which gave birth to many of their followers and disciples, as for example, St. Clement and his companions, the sons of Ohrid, Turnovo, etc.
But this country is at present, and was even more so at the time of Ivan Nikolayevich's birth, trampled by infidels and utterly crushed, Ivan Nikolayevich was two years old when he lost his father and his wretched mother shed many bitter tears over him, not having the wherewithal to feed and bring up her child, whom God's providence had appointed to be a benefactor of his unhappy country.
He was a young lad of thirteen, when he was no longer able to endure the tyranny and oppression of the Turks or calmly watch Turkish swords shedding innocent blood before his eyes and, frightened by the constant crimes of the Turks, he left Bulgaria, on one of those dark days, together with other Bulgarians — naked, barefoot and with nothing, and went to seek refuge and protection in Orthodox Russia, and indeed, he found it. He spent his whole life here in Orthodox Russia and managed, not without difficulties, but through patience and industry, to acquire considerable property and good name, as we well know.
was a simple man and
had almost completely forgotten his native language, he had remained a
love for his country was
expressed in his noble deeds and various charitable acts. I am not
enumerate them here, but I shall just ask you to remember Sofia, one of
famous Bulgarian towns, to remember the schools in
Today we mourn and are
full of sorrow. Why? Is it just because we have lost one of our
No, it is not. Because he died after he had lived for more than 80
years in this world. But we are sad, only for the same reason for which
all people grieve when they lose forever a dear one, a person whom they
sincerely loved and esteemed for his good deeds. But, my dear Bulgarian
brothers, let us take comfort from the fact that he died after
glorious mission on earth. His name will be remembered by future
brothers, also to mention
on this occasion the name of our beloved and unforgettable writer Yuri
Ivanovich Venelin. I am sure that you all, even without my reminder,
prayers to God for this noble man, whose gifted writings awakened our
from their deep sleep, from ignorance and self-oblivion. With his
awakened and called to spiritual life, activity and national
our compatriots, numbering more than 6,000,000
is 400 years already, brothers, since our
I shall finish my short speech here, brothers, by saying from the bottom of my heart: 'May your memory live forever, Ivan Nikolayevich! May it live forever!’
My honoured friend!
I was very glad to receive your letter dated January 19th, and the two copies of your newspaper enclosed in it. I see, my friend, your praiseworthy endeavours for our future fate. Persist! The more you persist, the greater the honour you bring to our nation, the higher the services you render on the altar of your country, the more you gain the love of the people, which is today the sweetest prize for all noble souls.
Our religious problem is in a very difficult situation at present and nobody knows whether it will make any progress at all. We know well the proverbial cunning of the Greeks and how they have deceived us on so many occasions, and we can say with certainty that they will try to do the same thing again now. But since this is not the first time that the Bulgarians have been deceived, it is better to leave things as they are now. It is difficult to predict the direction which we shall take but it would have been well to have some clever people to guide our aspirations and lead the people along a peaceful way to salvation.
As for the book on Papism mentioned in your letter, it is not known here; I asked many people about it but no one had heard anything about it.
publish the songs here
because one of the printers promised to get them ready by the end of
I implore you to publish the announcement I sent you in your newspaper,
a word or two about the songs and especially about the Western
I read your newspaper with satisfaction and I shall show it to Mr. Kukulevic, the local governor. You can get some subscriptions from this town as well. As for me, I beg you to send me your newspaper for three months, and I shall send you the money when I grow rich, that is, when I collect the money from my subscribers. The names of the subscribers will be sent to you there and you must send them to me here.
I saw one
published books (with pictures presenting the Greek King as a slave to
Bulgarian King) in
I am sending you two of my songs which I beg you to publish in your respected newspaper if they are suitable for it. Otherwise, that is, if it is not possible, you may keep them as a memento from me. The songs are anonymous.
I remain your ever sincere friend: K. Miladinov
It is thirty years since the dawn of our cultural revival, and at the very beginning of our rebirth folk songs were published at different times and in different places. But not a single of these editions could satisfy the desire of its readers and show to advantage all the valuable qualities which give brilliance to our folk poetry. And, in spite of these editions of folk songs, most Bulgarians are not even aware of their existence and as for our neighbouring brothers — the Serbs and the Croats, as well as the other Slav peoples, they know little or nothing about our folk-songs. We are glad that, by publishing a complete collection of these folk songs, we can fill this gap in our literature and enable our brothers of our race to learn more about our people.
We started collecting folk songs 6 years ago from all parts of Western Bulgaria, i.e. Macedonia, for example: from Ohrid, Strouga, Prilep, Veles, Kostour, Koukoush, Strumitsa and other places in Macedonia, as well as from Eastern Bulgaria. These folk songs will be supplemented with traditional rites of betrothal and match-making from Strouga and Koukoush; proverbs, riddles, legends and about 2,000 words which have become obsolete or differ from other dialects.
The folk songs are under print already and will soon see the light of day. We ask our respected subscribers to send their names as soon as possible so that they can be printed as well.
Those who take ten copies of the collection will be entitled to one free copy. The price is 2 floruits, and in the Turkish Empire 20 piastres or 1 rouble. The songs are about 700 in number and they will be printed in two columns, and on each sheet of paper there will be about 25-30. The collection includes folk songs sung on different occasions: in church, during harvest time, at match-making,on St Lazarus's Day, as well as songs about love, heroes, fairies, shepherds and humorous and sad songs. There will also be included 11 dance songs together with the music score.
Collected by the Brothers Dimiter and Konstantin Miladinov.
Published by K. Miladinov.
Those readers who would like to subscribe for this book of great value to our people are kindly asked to send their names to the editorial office of the newspaper Dounavski Lebed, and the staff will see that they are passed on to the publisher.
Editorial Staff of Dounavski Lebed
The Bulgarian folk songs collected several years ago would for a long time have remained unknown if it had not been for your high patronage. Your Grace deeply feels that the education of the people is the greatest prerequisite for the prosperity of the people, and, sparing nothing, you have always and everywhere helped us with useful publications and in school matters. In all these noble endeavours, your Grace has deigned to notice even the most southernmost Slavs, the Bulgarians, and to take a most magnanimous part in the publishing of this treasure which is of benefit to all; and, finally, inspired by the good will of the people, you undertook your most fruitful initiative and established the South Slav Academy - this most precious crown of your great benefactions.
In recognition of your splendid services to our literature, I have taken the liberty of dedicating to your Grace this collection of our folk songs, which we implore you kindly to accept together with our profound gratitude which I have the honour to express, and I remain:
Your most humble servant,
I have sent you five letters, one after the other, that is, one in December, two in January, another one in February through Mr. Mihail Karafeyziski, and the last one on March 6, and as I received no answer or no sign from you whatsoever, I kept wondering and thinking how it was possible that so many letters had not been delivered, when at last, a few days ago, I was immensely delighted to receive, through our compatriot Mr. Nahum Kotoushovich, your letter of January 2, that is, two and a half months since it was written, together with three written works and No. 15 of Dounavski Lebed (Danubian Swan). I comprehended the contents of your letter and I thank God Almighty for the opportunity he gave me of becoming acquainted through letters if not in person, with the honourable enlightener and benefactor of our Bulgarian people.
Therefore, I take this opportunity to extend my heartfelt gratitude to you and to ask you humbly to forgive me, because the time and circumstances prevent me from writing in greater detail in this letter. Now I shall finish my answer to your letter, and I assure you, as regards everything you write in it and anything else, according to your Pokazalets (The Pointer), that I shall try and do everything in my power (as soon as I have time), because now various reasons ... prevent me from doing so.
tell in brief that from
our parts there were formerly many young Bulgarian Macedonians who went
Athens to study, of whom, as far as we know, four come from Ohrid, and
write a little in Greek, namely the Minister of free Greece, Mr. Mihail
a Bulgarian from Ohrid (his relatives still live in our town), who has
a great number of works. The second, Joan A.Sapoundjiyov, a Bulgarian
Ohrid too, has remained there as the editor of the newspaper
I enclose 11 songs, written on two big sheets of paper, in which you will recognize our dialect as spoken in the songs, which are still sung in our town to this day.
The first 15 numbers of the Dounavski Lebed, which was very beneficial to the people, and which is actively contributing to our national spirit, as are the books which I don't keep only to myself, but distribute them among all those who have the faintest spark of national spirit, help kindle a spiritual flame which shall burn up the Greek splinters, that is why, as I said, I first give them to other people to read, and then I read them myself. Apart from those 15 numbers, I have now received five Snore - the last - No. 16, 18, 19, 20 and 23, whereas I have not got No. 17, 21, 22, 24 and 25. They haven't arrived, and I do not know what has happened to them.
In my previous letter of March 6, I wrote to you not to send me Dounavski Lebed for some time, because of... but now I ask you, if it is possible, to be kind enough as to send me through some of our compatriots from Ohrid or Strouga or through the honourable Robevs, or through Mr. Konstatin H. Miladinov, if they should be coming back, the other issues, together with some other works, such as Brief Meditation, etc. on the Bulgarian clergy, the second and third parts of Pokazalets (The Pointer) and Gorski Putnik (Forest Traveller), books about the old Bulgarian church services and some images о Bulgarian kings and saints, as well as some books in old or modern Bulgarian, or anything else you would be so gracious as to send me.
Hoping that my request will be granted, I have the honour to remain of the highest esteem for you.
In an issue of your highly respected newspaper I have had the pleasure to read one of your reports from Salonica dated August 15/27th, in which, while discussing a number of things happening in Salonica, your correspondent — a most devoted patriot - has been so kind as to mention our town, once so significant and today eclipsed under the accursed cloak of ignorance literally spread over it by its present-day bishops.
Having carefully read this report mentioning us, I could not contain my joy that such a patriotic-minded fellow-countryman of ours (to whom we owe gratitude) has been so kind as to give our town some space in the columns of such a newspaper as yours, to let the whole of Europe learn about the sorry plight of this town and about its present torments and sufferings brought about by the harassments and abuses of bishop Nekadime (Nikodim), our so-called shepherd. On the other hand, I have been quite surprised by your correspondent's condescension. He is a Bulgarian, isn't he? He is good and kind at all times, and at home we, Bulgarians, are known as good Christians, and this is indeed what the Bulgarians undoubtedly are. But let me quote a proverb in justification. When Jesus Christ, our Saviour, was here on earth, a man asked him: 'Lord, what shall I do if someone should smite me on the right cheek?' Our Lord replied: 'Turn to him the other also!' 'And if he should smite me again?' Turn the first again and forgive him his sin until seventy times.' The man then went about his business. But a Pharisee came along and began scolding the man about something, and the man kept silence. Observing the man's composure, the Pharisee became so angry that he smote the man on his cheek. Remembering the Lord's words, the man turned his other cheek to him as well. The Pharisee not only smote him on the other cheek but also began to kick him. The man then said to him: 'My brother, Jesus Christ has commanded us to suffer blows on the cheek and to forgive until seventy times, but not to suffer kicks.' The man in turn wielded a cudgel and brought it down on the Pharisee's shoulders, and so got rid of him. Let me now explain what I mean.
We, the people of Voden, like all other Bulgarians, hearkening unto the Lord's commandment, have suffered many blows from the most reverend bishop Nikadime and we have forgiven him not only until seventy, but until seventy times seventy. But mistaking our patience for weakness, he has taken to kicking us as if he were a wild mule. For one thing, Jesus Christ commanded us to endure only blows on the cheek, and for another, a wild mule is hobbled with iron shackles to prevent it from kicking. We have been forced to pay him back in kind. Because it is said in the Gospels: 'With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again,' and we shall, of course, repay him with kicks.
Very well then, that patriot, your much respected correspondent, in his boundless condescension has deigned to say that his Grace has fined the simple folks of Voden up to 600,000 grosh. No, Mr. Editor, upon my word, no! It may be thrice 600,000, and more. He made everyone sell whatever livestock they had, sheep, goats, oxen and donkeys that brought firewood and water to the people, so they could pay the taxes, then he stripped them of their clothes and finally skinned them as though with a flint, my brother!
So as to convince everyone how much he has taken in a year ... here is a note ...
He has taken so much, the right reverend metropolitan of Voden, and if this were not enough he's begun to expel people from the bishopric. And whom did he expel? Our citizens. Our mayor Mr. Gatso Tehovalia, who has selflessly served his country and the honourable government with indescribable zeal for 34 years. When he felt his throne shaking under him, the bishop bribed Mr. Hadji Dimcho from Pazar to draw up a petition for him on behalf of the villages at the price of 160 Turkish liras. Mr. Hadji Dimcho, an ardent champion of the Bulgarian cause, knows how to scoff at such bishops and their stupidity, and both got his money and did the people a good turn by providing the bishop with a petition bearing identical signatures and a fingerprint instead of a seal affixed to it. His Stupidity used this petition as an excuse to justify himself against the patriarch's well-grounded and constant reproaches as well as against the bold remarks made in the Holy Synod by our honest compatriot and sworn enemy of the Greeks - the long-suffering Georgi Dinchov, about the misconduct and bad qualities of His Stupidity - the metropolitan of Voden. Georgi Dinchov has done a great deal and more than is humanly possible, but his has been a voice in the wilderness. Now I think our honourable government as well as the supporters of the Greeks may well see why the Bulgarian demands are justified.
Informing you of the above, Mr. Editor, I shall bring to your attention any further material proof to this effect, and I shall always sign myself your sincere friend - a Greek-eater.
A Bulgarian citizen of Voden,
a contributor of yours.
ago a young Bulgarian
writer named Konstantin Miladinov published in
After the publication of these songs, the above-mentioned young man returned to his country in order to give his compatriots the fruit of his indefatigable endeavours during the course of so many years. Every other government, even if it does not reward such an effort, would at least praise it, but the Turkish Government is of a different opinion, as usual, and, according to the newspapers, it confiscated his work and ordered the arrest and the transportation of the innocent Miladinov to Constantinople, where he is probably still in prison.
Since I know this young man very well, because he stayed for a while here in Dyakovo and since I am quite convinced that he is incapable of any violation of the law, relying on the kindness and understanding of your Excellency, I take the liberty of addressing you with a request: Your Excellency, I humbly beg you to make the necessary steps for the release of both this innocent suffering man and of his work.
Please accept the expression of my high respect and esteem, with which I remain:
the most humble servant of your Excellency:
(signed) Bishop Strossmayer
If only thirty years ago you had asked the Bulgarians: tell me the name of at least one Bulgarian who is, at least, to some extent famous in any sphere of life, the poor Bulgarians could hardly answer your question positively, and without blushing. And actually, it is only since the eighteen thirties that there began to appear among the Bulgarians some personalities who were to a greater or lesser extent outstanding and who took an active part in the movement for the spiritual revival of their people. After Yuri Venelin, who discovered the Bulgarians for the world - among the Bulgarians there emerged people like: Aprilov, Kipilovsky, Peshakov, Sapounov, Neofit, Yordan Konstantinov, Moutev, Rakovski, the two Miladinov brothers and others, each of them contributing to the spread of literacy and education among the people, according to his abilities. That does not mean that before the'thirties the Bulgarians had no educated and notable people, or I would even say, even their own heroes. There can be no doubt that more than just one or two Bulgarians had the fortune or the misfortune to take part in the education of the now free Greeks, and to deliver lectures at Greek universities about Homer or Demosthenes; more than one or two Bulgarians were in command of Greek detachments during the Greek uprising and more than one or two thousand Bulgarians shed their Slav blood for the independence of Greece.
Miladinov brothers were born in
the small town of
It was a
holiday, a witness told
me, when D. Miladinov entered the church in Prilep. After the midday
some of the notable citizens, according to the accepted Bulgarian
Dimiter Miladinov with them, as they would any other stranger, to
into some of the homes, accessible to all, because among the Bulgarian
introductions are not determined by any external relations. They
after house and incidentally began talking about schools. It was then,
according to the words of the witness, that one could see Dimiter
power of speech and his ability to reach understanding with
people, who desire
good, but are not clear on how to go about it. His stories, taken from
So Miladinov, together with the younger teacher, when he had come to know him better, first established a Slav school in the town, having persuaded the parents of the pupils that, besides the books in Church-Slavonic they ought to study some other books, as well. It was not without difficulties that he introduced 'the Bulgarian tables.' He taught his students in Bulgarian, without any books, but with great skill, telling them stories from Bulgarian history and legends, until the bookseller in Bitola, an Albanian by origin, urged by his desire for profit, agreed to supply the school with some Bulgarian books from Constantinople and one of the merchants, a Bulgarian, supplied them with a few Serbian books as, for example: A Serbian Reader, A Short Grammar of the Serbian Language, A Song Book, etc. So that the teaching was done partly in Bulgarian, partly in Serbian, partly in Church-Slavonic, but what mattered to Miladinov was the fact that the Greek School had been infected with Slav influence and that in the Bulgarian school, where only religious books had previously been allowed, the teaching had been put in order.
In the summer of 1857 a man from Koukoush came to Prilep and reached agreement with Miladinov about opening a Bulgarian school in Koukoush, a small town near Salonica, where the Slav enlighteners Cyril and Methodius were born one thousand years ago. For this purpose Miladinov sent a young teacher, a friend of his, to Koukoush, because he himself intended to go to Ohrid, where he had been invited to teach. In the autumn of the same year, he sent his friend to teach in Koukoush. But one teacher was not sufficient for the needs of the school in Koukoush and, besides, the young man was unable to cope with the opposition of the local Phanariots. For two or three months the school in Koukoush somehow managed to survive without any Bulgarian books and even without a primer, and the oral teaching was carried out under great difficulties. Meanwhile the people of Koukoush, well aware of the importance of the cause, several times wrote to Miladinov, imploring him to come to them from Strouga.
love for their native
language was so great that, after classes were over, some family men,
aged 20-25, would go to the school daily to be taught Bulgarian
and Church-Slavonic. Even old people of advanced years would teach each
how to read in Bulgarian in their shops, when they had no work. The
too, followed the example of the young people. But the
introduction of the
Slavonic language was not possible there, because of lack of church
instead the teachers used to recite the Creed and some popular
heart in the church, while their listeners eagerly drank in the
from their lips. Thus Miladinov taught the children in the
men, young craftsmen and priests in the afternoon; and in the evening
to study the history of
the eagerness of the
citizens to hear the holy service in Church-Slavonic was increasing
peasants from the neighbouring villages, learning about the
Bulgarian writing in Koukoush, took their children to study under
Even the village priests would go to Miladinov to learn about the
alphabet and writing, and to learn what the Bulgarian letters were
was to be done, since there were no books, and the Slavonic language
had to be
introduced into the churches? Miladinov too was thinking how to provide
books. There were no such books in Constantinople; he had no one in
fact that many Bulgarians, who,
for obvious reasons, had the misfortune to know only the Greek
were not able to read and write in Bulgarian, and who, being ignorant
history of their people, neglected their nationality in favour of some
nationality - this fact made D. Miladinov
undertake the task of filling, if possible, this important gap. And
the nights during which he sat translating the Bulgarian history into
with the intention of printing it and distributing it free of charge
Miladinov managed to
carry out his intention of introducing the Slavonic language into the
He was firmly convinced that the surest means of familiarizing the
it was the divine service. Through the efforts of Miladinov and,
minor difficulties, a
On Trinity Sunday the simple Bulgarians, men and women, gathered in the church early in the morning. An unusual silence reigned there and all present fixed their eyes on the altar and waited impatiently to hear the long awaited voice of the Mt Athos monk. Divine service began ... No one looked either to the right or to the left, and all listened carefully to the words of the Gospel, which the Mt Athos priest was reading in a low voice, uttering every word distinctly without hurrying, or swallowing the words. After the Gospel, according to our custom, he delivered a very wise speech to the people, и which he demonstrated that the Orthodox faith does not forbid any nation to conduct divine service in its own language. But the people gathered in t church, with their hearts full of faith, were most deeply moved when the priest asked them to kneel down and, with emotion in his voice, repeated to them the words of the well-known prayers to be read that day. There is no need to tell you how strong an impression the Slavonic language, read in church, made on the hearts and minds of the Bulgarians. And all this was the result of the ceaseless endeavours of D. Miladinov, whose constant and most cherished aim had always been to contribute to the moral development of the people.
1 Peter Ivanovich
Bartenev (1829-1911), Russian archeographer and bibliographer; he had
with the Bulgarians in
town in this region,
have I encountered a Bulgarian population with so highly developed a
spirit as in Veles. And, what is more, the citizens of Veles sympathize
of Veles, which is
situated not very far from the frontier where two nationalities meet -
Greek and Slav - and which is inhabited
mainly by Slavs who have in no way yielded to Greek influence - give
the town particular importance. Its citizens enjoy the special
sympathy of the whole surrounding Slav population, which considers
Only the Bulgarian and the Turkish languages are universally used in Veles, but all the local Turks speak Bulgarian as well. From time immemorial there has been only a Bulgarian school щ. Veles.
occupation of the
Christians is vine-growing and silkworm-breeding. Large quantities of
produced in Veles are exported to Sofia and Old Serbia.
increased considerably during the last five or six years, and at
exports silkworm eggs to
Crimean War, a new source
of income was found for Veles -transportation of wheat
down the river
The main and virtually sole occupation of the rural population is agriculture, and the Bulgarians in the region of Veles are famous for their industry and relative wealth.
The district of Veles has a population of 72,000 people, of whom 50,000 are Christians, and 22,000 are Moslems. There are 107 villages in the whole district, with 49 churches, and 6,263 Christian houses and 2,842 Turkish houses.
Pavlovich Ignatiev (1832-1908), Russian ambassador in
Constantinople from 1864 to 1877, actively supported the struggle of
the Bulgarians for
an independent church; he was one of the initiators of the Conference
Most learned Sir,
For six months now I have not received a single line from you in response to my simple letter.
I am daily expecting
the booklet which you mentioned at the end of your answer to the Greek
theological tract, and which, I think, has already been printed. Can I,
the champions of the Bulgarian cause, have the honour of receiving this
booklet, too? Мг. В. Nouma of
spare copy of a
history book describing the past of the Slavs in detail, I would be
obliged to you if you would have the kindness to give it to the
gentleman after he pays you for it, so that he can forward it to me.
history book may be in either Slavonic or German, or in Greek, as I
French too poorly to be able to persuade our local charlatans, such as
and others. Unfortunately, it is not only here but also in
Please, accept me as one of your true friends and honour me with your answer which will make me very happy. I remain full of hope and from my pure Bulgarian heart
P.S. Mr. Anton Drandar and the other workers for the Bulgarian cause also send you sincere greetings.
that, as the Greeks
say, their predestination from above consists in the fact that their
is used by the whole of
1 Anton Drandarovich
is a public figure from Veles
Many are the translations of the Slovo into modern Russian. The Russians (since the Slovo became known to them and the world) have about 16 translations and, together with Maksimovich's translation into the Ukrainian Russian dialect, they total 17 translations on which 17 scholars and writers have laboured and toiled. Apart from that, Slovo о Polku Igoryevye has been translated several times by other Slavs: Czechs, Serbs and Poles, and also by the Germans and the French. But in modern Bulgarian, if we are not mistaken, there has been no translation so far. This is not the place to explain what made us translate this poem into Bulgarian and, as for the translation -whether it is good or bad, this is for the readers to decide, and they must judge for themselves both the translation and the original, and we shall be sincerely obliged to them if they will write to the newspapers about all the mistakes which they have discovered. We shall be very glad if our translation, or rather, if the original Slovo encourages some Bulgarian who is more expert both in the knowledge of our language and of Old Slavonic, to translate the poem more completely, more accurately and quicker than us. As for our translation, we feel obliged to give the following explanations:
By the Bulgarian language we mean the language spoken by the population in all Macedonia, Thrace and Bulgaria, the dialects of which differ more or less, but, like every other Bulgarian who does not suffer of short-sightedness, we cannot say that the words 'ruka’ and 'voda' are Macedonian or Thracian, but we say that they are Bulgarian, because there are no Macedonians or Thracians as separate nationalities, but there are only Slav Bulgarians, who inhabit the said regions, the names of which, perhaps, have the right to exist in geographic descriptions but cannot refer to nationalities. In short, there is only one Bulgarian language, which like every other language, is divided into several dialects... So, we consider that it is not due to any mistake of ours, if some of our readers should read 'rúka' and ‘vóda', plánina'; and others - 'ruká,' 'vodá', 'planiná’. We have also written: 'rúka' and ‘raka'; 'put' and 'pat'; 'muchno' and 'machno’ It is another question whether that was right or wrong, but we want to say that we are more or less aware of these differences in our language and they are not the result of ignorance, but of course, we are far from thinking, and still less from saying, that we have completely mastered our native language. At the same time, we should note that it may appear to some of our readers that we have used in our translation some words apparently borrowed from the Russian language. We do not say that there is not a single Russian word in our translation, but we say that very many words, even if they seem similar to the Russian ones, are not borrowed from the Russian because they exist in our language as well; and if one wants to make sure of this, one has only to read our folk songs. The time when all Bulgarians will write in the same way without the slightest variation has not yet come. But that such a time will come - of that we are fully convinced, but when it will come — nobody knows; and, for the time being, it is quite enough that we understand each other when we write ...
1 World famous piece
ancient Russian literature
My dear friend!
I am taking my pen with a hand trembling with joy in order to give you an account of my sufferings.
I arrived here on February 13th, as my father informed you by telegraph. Our new governor, Akif Pasha, had arrived two hours before me on the same day. Of course, I have not so far been able to leave prison, because it was only last night that the Pasha took up his new post and began work.
Our enemies now hoped that there was good opportunity to get rid of me but they failed, because on hearing about my case, the governor ordered his translator to be very careful in the translation of my letters, since I had expressed the wish to translate them myself in a written declaration, stating that in the event of my not translating them properly, I should be punished according to the law. Last night all my letters were translated well and submitted to the Pasha. Tonight I hope to be taken to him to make my defense before him, because since it is now Ramazan, all affairs are conducted during the night. Be that as it may, I hope to refute the slanders against me, and hunt down my slanderers.
friend, you cannot imagine
my joy at this occasion, that is at my imprisonment. The enemies caught
brought me from
The geographic descriptions are ready. Only those from Kostour, Moglena and Ohrid have not yet arrived, but they will probably arrive this week. Rest assured on that account.
Remember me to my godmother and to all members of your family, as well as to my friends and enemies.
Eager to see you as soon as possible,
remain: Entirely yours: G.K.
Документи за Българското възраждане от архива
на Стефан И. Веркович. Съставили и подготвили за печат Д. Велева и Т.
под редакцията и с предговор от чл. кор. Хр. Христов / Documents of the Bulgarian National Revival from
archive of Stefan Verkovic. Compiled and prep, for publ. by D. Veleva
Vulov, edited and prefaced by H. Hristov, Corresponding Member of the
of Sciences) Sofia, 1969, pp. 39-40; the original is in Bulgarian
1 Warden of the
municipality in the town of
I was very
pleased to see that you
have begun to blow your bagpipe from
I know that there will be people, who will be sending you some songs to play on your pipe, but I, who have been fond of bagpipes ever since my youth, and, who am, moreover, very fond of our Bulgarian people, as well, I decided to write something you might play. But you should not hope my song will cheer your readers. No, it is a sad one, because if it were well with us, who would write about sorrows, who would say that good is bad! But God help us! Can this be so? And since we are in such a plight, why not have a good cry over it? Good Lord! Let our other Bulgarian brothers hear us and maybe we shall still be able to find our way to a better future. Because ‘one is still one - but two are much more': the mind of one man and the minds of several people are two different things.
All our grieves come from the cursed Greeks, the damned Phanariot bishops and their corrupted tools — the Wallachians. God help us! Those infernal Greeks, I don't know why you should go out of your way to please them since they are trampling without pity on our country and nationality and they will be soon quite worn out by their incessant endeavours, each in his own way and at every opportunity, to make us Greeks and it is their greatest desire to have us converted into Greeks. God help us! Our Lord has pleased to preserve us — five million Bulgarians intact so far, as well as our beautiful, sweet Bulgarian language, and our beautiful literature, from which so many other Slav nations are drawing knowledge. So - are we to forsake our dear country, our sweet language, our nationality, our fine golden Bulgarian books, and turn Greeks! God forbid! This was done neither by our fathers, nor by our forefathers - shall we then do it? God forbid! But what times we have lived to see? To change our language and nationality! Something of which our fathers never even dreamed - shall we do this!? Don't do it, my Bulgarian brothers, don't you turn Greek because we shall become the object of ridicule and contempt in our age. Forget about the Greek language! Drive from your midst the cursed Greeks, Phanariot supporters and Kutsovlahs, study your own language and cherish your nationality, because it is sinful and shameful to forget your own kind.
You see, my son, I am overcome with sorrow and very angry, so that I shall go to church and cross myself as a good Christian, and when the holy service begins and we shall begin to cross ourselves the priests will sing ‘Kyor olasin, Kyor olasin, Kyor olasin,'2 and then gabble it quicker and quicker, until they are saying 'Kör olsun, Kör olsun, Kör olsun;'3 my blood boils (God forgive my sinful thoughts) and when I become very angry, instead of praying, I shall turn to the Greek Phanariots and the Wallachians and teach them a lesson after which they will be scarcely able to move. Good Lord! Why should these Greeks treat us so meanly in our own churches? Damn their problems! If they want to quarrel let them do it in their own churches, and let them pluck out their own eyes, if they like. But what do they want in our churches? Have we not a language of our own? Have we not books from which we can sing and pray in our own language? Let the Greeks mind their own business, let us drive them and their language out of our schools and churches - we have a language and books of our own, and we don't need the Greek ones, we don't want to become Greeks. So, Bagpiper, my son, start playing your bagpipe well, let the great drone sound so that our Bulgarian brothers hear and understand its music and kick out the Greeks and their rubbish. These Greeks are becoming quite intolerable, so you must attack them, my son.
brothers, the peasants in
the other villages are to be pitied most of all. If you look at the
the districts of Bitola, Prilep, Ohrid, Kichevo, or in those of
Strumitsa and in many other districts in the same part of the
country, as well
as in the region of Lerin, you will see that in all churches there the
is held in Greek, and you must know that in all the above-mentioned
and in many other towns and villages in Macedonia, the population is
exclusively Bulgarian, and that there is not even half a Greek. Good
is all this? Why should we tolerate a language of which we do not
single word? Why should we allow ourselves to be abused both in our
our churches? Why should we study the Greek language and forsake our
one? Why should we trample on our nationality, on our country and on
tongue without pity? Is there a single Greek town, or a village, or a
even a house in
I have many other things to tell you and I am going to write to you more often in the future to inform you about everything of interest to you, that the world will know more about the situation in which we are at present.
I've received your letter of September 27 together with the letter from our compatriots and became well acquainted with the current progress of our undertakings in Nevrokop.
I have long wished to tell you something which has to do with me personally, but as I believe my reasoning on this might sound almost vulgar and stupid to you, I've not so far dared to write to you on this subject, while, on the other hand, as I think it is a young man's duty, without being shy, to consult on such matters worthy people who are ready to stand by such a noble cause, I'm now taking the liberty of telling you about it today.
are aware that our Bulgarian
people (who have been living in ignorance for a long time) have
realized the need of studying and that is why we today observe that
almost all parts of our country
Sir, I appeal to you with this letter. If you are in any position to help me, please do not reject my plea to concern yourself with this holy matter!
Hoping to have received your enlightening counsel with next Saturday's post, I remain grateful to you for ever.
Yordan Hadji Konstantinov, who
provoked the anger of the Greek bishops in Macedonia against himself
enthusiasm and zeal in spreading the Bulgarian language and education
hitherto Hellenized country, and who sowed many good seeds in a number
there by his teaching, was slandered before the Grand Vizir — Kibrizli
Pasha during the latter's inspection tour in 1859 and was sent in exile
to Aydin. He was released through the intercession
of our representatives and arrived in
Macedonian martyr for the
Bulgarian cause was brought to
and life of Kouzman, the
son of Tasev (Atanasov), the son of Paskal,
the son of Mihail Shapkarev from Ohrid.
Mihail Shapkarev, a
Bulgarian, born in the
the end of my stay in
I am very much obliged to two of my teachers especially — one of them, Mile Skopachev, who being a good psalm singer, taught me to sing and understand a little of hymn-singing; while the other - Kostadin H. Ouzounov, was the first to inspire me with the desire to study my native language. He gave me a Serbian primer (because there were no Bulgarian primers in our part of the country, and no one even thought of studying Bulgarian, while now, thank God, the situation is quite changed), taught me to understand the letters and kindled the first sparks of love for our language in me. God bless his soul in heaven! That year I studied geography, mathematics, ecclesiastical history, together with Andon Mitanov and Vassil Dyamandiev.
During the three years that I taught in Strouga, two important things took place. The first was that for the first time I introduced the teaching of our native language into the school - the Bulgarian language, which about a century (70 years) ago had disappeared. It was subsequently introduced into the Church as well. The reason for this introduction was closely connected with the late Dimiter Miladinov, of whom we shall speak more later on in this book. This worthy man, having been a teacher in Greek for many years, and perhaps even a supporter of the Greeks, and a persecutor of the Bulgarians, during the last years of his life (just like St Paul) became aware of the delusion, into which not only all Bulgarians in Macedonia but even he himself had fallen, and, renouncing his former errors, he zealously worked to the very day of his martyr's death for the spiritual revival of the people, and the introduction of the Bulgarian language into the Bulgarian churches and schools, in which the Greek language had been imposed. The endeavours of this worthy man inspired me, too, to introduce the Bulgarian language which I had learned to read a little as early as 1856 in Ohrid from Kostadin H. Ouzounov - in my school. But I lacked the necessary books. I received help, however, from the same person. Because after he had returned to his place in Prilep (before that he had been in Prilep for one year, and had returned home on a visit, and from there he had gone back to Prilep, and then came to Koukoush) he sent me 15 Serbian primers with church letters. Then after he went to Koukoush he sent me a sufficient number of Bulgarian primers and histories, published by the Archimandrite Parteni Zografski, the present bishop of Polyanin (Koukoush). This was the first event. And the second one was that at the end of my second year there (Oct. 30th, 1858) I became engaged to Elissaveta D. Miladinova, and married her five years later (Sept. 25th, 1863).
1 Kouzman Shapkarev (1824-1909),
born in the town
Macedonia, being separated from the other Slav regions in the South, fell completely under the influence of the Greeks a very long time ago ... For a long time services have been conducted almost everywhere exclusively in Greek, and in practically none of the schools was the Bulgarian language taught. The few prospering Bulgarians did not dare to call themselves Bulgarians - they were ashamed of their nationality.
Cyrillic alphabet was preserved
only in the Northern parts of
true to the ancient legends - to the Slav language and
customs, the same rural population under the influence of the higher
society gradually lost almost completely its consciousness of the other
peoples and became accustomed to base all its hopes for the improvement
situation solely on
During the present period of political calmness, these recently awakened aspirations, suppressed by the fanaticism of the higher Greek clergy, and watched by the suspicious eyes of the Turkish authorities, can be discerned in the scarcely perceptible, feeble signs of public life. These signs concern the need of national education, which can be noticed everywhere and the cries for Bulgarian teachers and Slavonic church books which can be heard on all sides.
As you know, the Phanariots have again forbidden us to hear Bulgarian singing in the churches. But on May 28th, Ascension Day, the Bulgarian teachers ventured to sing in Bulgarian. On that day, divine service was taken by the coadjutor Agathangelos who, on seeing that the Bulgarian teachers had prepared themselves to sing and were beginning to do so in Bulgarian, started shouting at them like a madman to stop singing, but the teachers went on. The coadjutor could no longer contain himself; he went to them and asked who had given them permission to sing in Bulgarian. When some of the citizens asked him why they should not sing in Bulgarian in the church, he answered that it was because he had no desire to listen to a heretical language, and to prove his words, he took off his vestments on the spot, took the other priest and went to a deacon, a notorious drunkard. In vain did the people in church wait for the end of the church service. The coadjutor preferred to have no liturgy and to drink brandy rather than to be present at a liturgy when the singing was in Bulgarian.
Since then, to this day, the Bulgarians have been worshipping God in their school without any priest.
The situation of the Bulgarians in Nevrokop is far from improving, because of the intrigues of the supporters of Hellenism. Yesterday, three of the most prominent Bulgarians in our town: Mr. Iliya Doukov, Stoyan Shein and Georgi Kostov were taken under guard to Seres, because of a complaint sent by the Greeks and the Kutsovlahs to the Governor of Seres against them. I don't know exactly the content of this complaint and why these compatriots of ours were arrested. But I do know that, at the time of their departure, a representative of the Kutsovlahs came to them and told them: 'You are going into exile, but your release is in our hands - you have only to expel your teacher, renounce your Bulgarian nationality, stop teaching your children in Bulgarian and accept the Greek language once more - and then we shall send our man to the Governor with a petition and you will be saved from exile.' But they answered him that they could never renounce their mother tongue.
Greeks are publicly declaring
that those three Bulgarians were responsible for the introduction of
Bulgarian language into Nevrokop. And this they consider to be an
of the rights of the Greek people, because 'it was
Although the Greeks are very strong with their cunning and intrigues, we are firmly convinced that the judicious Government of His Imperial Majesty the Sultan will understand that our brothers are innocent and save them from undeserved sufferings.
Moustrev is a saddler by trade. He makes pack-saddles, which enables him to get a very modest means of subsistence. Moustrev's son keeps a small shop in Ohrid where he sells various goods, and even books. A man of humble origin and no particular education, Moustrev has managed to gain the reputation of an honest man among his compatriots who have long ago wholly dedicated themselves to the service of their nation.
resources and at a time
when no one had even dreamed about the spiritual revival of the Slav
the Bulgarian language is
already gaining citizen rights almost everywhere. But the first
the movement for the revival of the Slav nationality in Ohrid,
late brothers Miladinov, received their first knowledge about the
their native language in the poor
of Kichevo forms a
special administrative unit under the authority of a mudir1
subordinated directly to the Governor General of
The majority of the population of the town is Moslem, while the Christian element is predominant in the villages. The district of Kichevo includes 104 villages inhabited by Christians and mixed population, with 2,096 Christian houses in them. The district of Kichevo differs greatly from neighbouring Debur from the political, administrative and social point of view. The Kichevo district submitted to the Tanzimat2 a long time ago; it is administered on a common basis, the population pays taxes and is liable to military service. The Moslems in Kichevo, like those in Debur, are of Slav origin: they speak only Bulgarian and are also apostates from the East Orthodox faith; but they embraced Islam much earlier than those of Debur and it is deeply rooted in them.
The villages in the district of Kichevo are mainly situated in the more fertile areas along the rivers Cherna, Sateska and Velika. Agriculture is the main occupation of the local population. Physically, the local people are in a pitiful contrast to the bulky, sturdy people in the mountain regions of Debur. Everywhere in that region the marks of the Turkish domination can be clearly observed. The local Christians are timid, burdened with taxes and other obligations to the state, and they are entirely at the mercy of the local Moslem population ...
On my return, I spent a few days in the towns of Ohrid and Strouga, and gained the most favourable impressions from closer acquaintance with the local Christians. I am not going to describe these towns which are quite well known, but I must point out here those signs which show the awakening of a sense of nationality, so strongly felt among the Slav population. The seeds sowed by the brothers Miladinov in this rich fertile soil have not been lost — and it is a pity that the brothers could not live to see them bloom, because they were the first victims of the struggles of this regenerated national feeling. In spite of the fanaticism of the Greek Metropolitan of Ohrid who constantly resorts to slanders and betrayals, in order to suppress the Slav element in his diocese, this element is proclaiming its demands louder and louder with each succeeding day...
At the head of the Bulgarian movement in Strouga stand people who have learnt much from their former bitter experiences and whose remarkable tact is successfully leading the national cause, which they have inherited from the brothers Miladinov. They support each other in everything; no one does anything which might compromise him in the eyes of the Metropolitan and the authorities, and day by day their cause is gaining considerable success. In spite of the Metropolitan's prohibition, services are secretly held in the Slav language, in, public the teachers pretend to be ardent supporters of Hellenism, but at the same time they secretly teach the Slav language In school. The people must have suffered much, and educated themselves under the terrible yoke to have come to the point at which a whole generation of their children could be secretly taught to read and write in Bulgarian.
In Ohrid the awakened sense of nationality is finding ever stronger and more persistent expression than in Strouga. There, the common complaints against the Metropolitan, who persecutes the Slav nationality, sound even louder because the aspiration for national recognition has become a universal necessity for the whole Christian population of Ohrid ...
The teaching in all schools in Ohrid, with the exception of one, which will be mentioned later, is done exclusively in Greek so far. The Metropolitan has not allowed the introduction of the Slav language in school . The people of Ohrid can no longer endure such restrictions on their native language. The teachers are the first to react against this state of affairs and they are only waiting for an opportunity to express their demands openly.
the examinations in the
principal school in Ohrid, which took place in public, one of the
Ohrid, a certain Mr. Sapoundji, a young man who had studied in
one of my last reports I
mentioned something about the private Bulgarian
Славянский архив. Сборник статей и материален (Slavonic archive, Collection of articles and materials), Moscow 1963, pp 248-250; the original is in Russian
1 i.е head official
of a nachiya (= small
For eight years now the patriotic commune in the eastern part of the town has been paying greater attention to the education and the intellectual development of the young people in their own Slav-Bulgarian language.
For the realization of this useful intention, it has built two magnificent schools - one of them a mutual-teaching one, and the other a principal one - and appointed the necessary teachers. All this, of course, was done with great difficulty and at great expense, but it was not in vain because the intellectual development and success of the young people in their studies is improving year by year. This is clear to all of us from the everyday teaching of the lessons at school and from the general examinations which take place every year at the time of the vernal equinox, when most of the merchants are at home because of the Easter holidays, while at other times they pursue their business in other parts.
This year, the examination took place on the day of the Annunciation as follows: after the church service the people gathered in the school 'St St Cyril and Methodius,' which was decorated with greenery, flowers, various maps, etc. After the usual prayer, in the presence of the priests, the notables and all the patriotic citizens, the students of the principal school were examined in the following subjects: Slavonic grammar, Bulgarian composition, Bulgarian history, geometry, mathematics, the new Testament, translation from the Slavonic language, the holy catechism and geography. The answers of the students were good and the examination concluded with a speech by Mr. Alexi Popstefanov.
speech, after reminding the
parents about the inescapable duties which God imposed upon them for
education and the upbringing of their children, he clearly indicated
and means to achieve this education i.e. by sending them regularly to
and by leaving them to study freely for as many years as are required
school regulations. Finally, after the students sang the song: '
I received the awaited answer to my letter on March 27th, if rather late, on May 24th, and I was happy to hear the good news you give me in it, that you are disposed to come here so that we can live together for some time.
As soon as
saw this piece of news
in your letter, I informed the town elders and the school board of
who greeted it enthusiastically, got together immediately and after
the matter and having heard the necessary words from your friend,
unanimously to send a special messenger with the present letter and
letter of appointment enclosed. Judging by your ardent patriotism, I do
doubt that you will accept the appointment with enthusiasm, not
the material aspect (i.e. the salary), but the moral one and you will
for here, if possible, together with the messenger. Allow me to express
more clearly and in greater detail: here, as almost all over
Now, while asking you to come on my assurance alone, they are far from considering your abilities to be by hundred or thousand times greater or more valuable, but they would be grateful for as much ability as the late teacher possessed, and therefore they wholeheartedly offer you 6,000 grosh right from the first year. So far, I have not been able to convince them to give you more despite all my efforts. Be assured that your salary will rise considerably and satisfactorily during the second and third year. And again, in my opinion, you will be thankful, as we shall be, thankful to have a teacher for the next four years. In addition to your salary you will have free accommodation and heating. All this apart, please consider our dulled national consciousness a little, take pity on this blinded and obscure place, which stands in great need of such a teacher. What is more, the time is propitious now. Because if the Commune here would want another such good teacher, our common enemies will raise obstacles and will not give their permission. But now, since we are free from such enemies, it is the best time to found schools in these parts.
So I beseech you on my behalf, for the sake of the people, to accept the appointment with enthusiasm. Please pay no heed to the insignificance of the salary in order to be of great moral benefit to our people. Be assured as to the accuracy of everything I've written to you frankly and about what is written in the enclosed letter. You will do well to accept the offer.
Finally, you should also know that the enclosed letter, which is the first one from the Commune, will also be the last. Because enough time has passed since our school was closed and we cannot wait any longer. Therefore, if you agree to the above-mentioned salary, decide immediately to come as soon as possible, or let us know when you can come, or, if not, decide once and for all.
Looking forward to seeing you or hearing from you soon.
As the school has enough rooms, you will be accommodated in one of them.
As our Bulgarian teacher V. died three or four months ago, we looked for somebody else to fill the vacant post. Incidentally our Greek teacher K. Paskhaliev has recommended you and three or four days ago we were informed that you had agreed to take up the vacant job at the school of our town.
Apart from giving us verbal assurances about your abilities, the aforementioned teacher advised us to approach the Veles people about references concerning your merits as well as about the size of your salary. We, however, trusting the words of the aforementioned teacher and considering it superfluous to seek information from the Veles people and others, thought fit to invite you by this letter and offer of our own will an annual salary of 6,000 (six thousand) grosh. In addition to the afore-said annual salary we will provide lodgings for you at the bishop's residence, which is next door to the school, because our school and the bishop's residence are in one and the same place.'
Therefore, if you accept the salary we offer you, please come immediately, with the bearer of this letter if possible; if you do not accept, please say so at once, so that we can look for another teacher because we have no time to lose. Moreover, we would like you to know that since we have no time to write another letter, it will be our first and our last one, on the receipt of which you can start for our town if you accept our offer, or you can decline it if you are not satisfied with the salary offered. Looking forward to your arrival, therefore, we, the school trustees and church wardens, sign this letter.
Сп. „Македонски преглед" (Magazine Makedonski
Pregled), Sofia, 1926, No. 3, pp. 137-138;
the original is in Bulgarian
1Hristo G. Danov
(1828-1911), born in the town of
Things look better here. The people want and are making efforts to have a school in their own language. The guildmen and most of all the chief guild masters, as well as the Bulgarian notables, are actually making arrangements to fulfil this desire of the people. We hope that soon the Bulgarians will begin studying in their own language. There is a God! By our sovereign's grace this will be. It is only necessary that we should have good will and to be unwilling to remain in the dark any longer, and to sleep the fatal sleep we have been sleeping up till now. But we must assert our rights because 'God gives, but doesn't bring it into the fold' and 'if the child does not cry - his mother does not feed him.'
It will not be a bad thing to say a word or two of praise about those who have done most and who desire with all their hearts to carry out this highly commendable work, so pleasing to God. They are: Mr. Dimko Radev, Mr. H. Kosta Koushov, Mr. Todorche, Mr. Ivancho Altiparmak - chief master of the tailors, Mr. Nikola - chief master of the barbers, Mr. Atse - chief master of the coppersmiths, Mr. Nahum of Strouga, one of the seal-keepers of the potters' guild, Mr. H. Petko, Mr. Dimche Bouchoukchiev, master of the bakers, and many other chief masters and merchants.
Unfortunately, there are still some patriots who still tarry and keep aloof, no one knows why, and do not offer their brotherly help for the speedier completion of the work. They are the brothers Robev,1 Mr. Ounka, Mr. Dimko Atsev, Mr. None, the brothers Kokanchev and some others. But I hope that God will enlighten and strengthen them, so that they, too, will come and do their share in this work.
Much good will be done by our patriots from your part of the country, Mr. Editor, if they have the kindness to send us, as presents, some books, such as: primers by Danov, tables by the same, or by Mr. Dobroplodni,2 and also other books necessary for the primary schools, because, by God's grace, we hope soon, by the sovereign's will, to open more Bulgarian schools both in the surrounding villages and in other districts, where there are none as yet. But how shall these schools be opened? How will the children study when they have no books, no notebooks, no arithmetic books?
We here pin great hopes on the wealthy patriotic Bulgarians, that they will help us to realize this desire, which will benefit the whole Bulgarian people.
beg people like Messrs
Beronov, Benliev and Toshkov not to forget us and help us, too. Let
become known throughout the whole of
Most of all we beg booksellers, like the company of Mr. Danov and Mr. Trouvchev, Mr. Angelidi and all the other booksellers to be so kind as to send their people to these parts of the country, because we stand in great need of books of all kinds, and they, on their part, will benefit much by this because they will be able to sell their goods faster.
I don't know what has happened to Mr. Andrea Resnenets, the bookseller; we greatly rely on this gentleman to supply us with the necessary books. Let him try to bring the necessary books because we will need them very much soon.
I shall inform you later, Mr. Editor, about all events beneficial to the people which take place here, and especially those concerning national education here and everything which touches the people's interests.
1Brothers Robev, a
patriotic Bulgarian family, actively participating in the national
the Bulgarians in
Russian writers in the recent
past considered and maintained that
While we were travelling in June and July, this year, in Turkey, visiting a large part of Macedonia, we were able to obtain a closer view of the present situation of the Bulgarians and of all the Christians in the East, and the attitude of the Turkish Government towards the Slavs under its subordination, i.e. towards the Serbs and the Bulgarians, and finally we were witnesses to the struggle which has been going on ever since 1857 between the Bulgarians and their higher Greek clergy. But before we present some facts which will best illustrate the attitude of the Bulgarians towards the Greek Patriarchate and towards the Greeks as a whole, we shall take the liberty of saying a few words about the Turks.
as has been
already said, there is in the Bulgarians all over the Balkan Peninsula
terrible hatred against the Greek higher clergy and against all Greeks
within the Turkish dominions and this hatred is daily increasing
with the implacable stubborn refusal of the Constantinople Greeks
Greek Synod to settle the
greatly offended the sense
of every Orthodox Christian - in the widest sense of
this word — may be at the sight of the mutual
hatred and animosity between the two Orthodox peoples, it cannot be
that this hatred and abhorrence between Bulgarians and Greeks has
proportions that the Bulgarians sometimes completely forget the
the Turkish domination, and all, from the youngest to the eldest, think
thing only, namely - how to liberate themselves from the
Phanariot domination. On the other hand, the Greeks, headed by their
clergy with what we may be allowed to call their mad obstinacy,
Bulgarians still more. Come what may, say the Greeks, let there be no
development and independence of the Slav nations on the
was going to write to you in
detail about my visit to the town of
Many old relics, such as stone inscriptions, coins, Old Bulgarian books, etc., are to be found in Voden. I could not find any Bulgarian inscription on stone: there were only Latin and Greek ones. The cathedral church is said to have been built back in the time of Justinianus. In it I found a book of psalms for eight voices, decaying in the dust, I was told that the other books were in the houses of the churchwardens. About these books they said: 'Go to the bishop and ask him, because we are afraid they might be lost,' i.e. I should not take them, because, as they put it: 'Many books have thus been taken from us.'
An old priest who was the house-keeper, said that when the first Greek bishop came to Voden, he collected all the Bulgarian books from the churches and people did not know what he had done with them. This priest knew the local legends in detail and remembered everything that had taken place in the Patriarchate of Ohrid and many things about the bishop of Voden. He told me all this when we were in the church. I asked him if I could come to his home or some other house where he would tell me more, but he answered: 'I am afraid lest that blood-sucker (the bishop) get wind of it and punish me.' When I was in Salonica I forgot to ask Dingov to find time and look up the afore-said housekeeper when he visits Voden and to write down these legends, because they are very valuable for our church history. Please write to him to see to that.
If you go to Voden meet Naoum Sidda (the Albanian), Stoyan Chalakov and Trupche Gyorgov. The latter has a son by the name of Trupche who has a coin with a Voden inscription on it, but he could not remember whom he had given it to. He might have found it by now.
They have told me to enroll in the seventh class. Give my regards to your family and also to Father Theodossius and to Hristo. Pray God I may safely return and be of greater service to you. You can send me letters through the Russian consul in Salonica.
On the 12th of July this year the students in our principal school for boys were examined. It was now (as we hoped and believed) time for us, too, as well as the other towns in Bulgaria (upper) to take pride in an examination on higher subjects and in the Bulgarian language, as it seemed from the first arrival of the headmaster of the school in our town, that even our wretched Bulgarian school would make a step forward, being provided with such good students as never before, but the Fates had preordained otherwise, and our hopes were crushed, because the whole thing turned out the opposite of what we had expected. This was the reason why we sank into silence and were thrown into inconsolable sorrow (not to say despair).
The ancients have said that after sorrow comes joy. After we had been so much deceived in our expectations, and the people discouraged and downcast due to the failure of the examination at our principal school, our enemies triumphing at our failure and trying to prove that the vulgarness of our language does not allow it to bring up and educate the people even with such a good teacher as ours, thus hitting at the dearest and most precious hopes cherished in the bosoms of us all, we would have been thrown into utter despair had it not been for the excellent examination carried out by Mrs. Nedelya1 with her well-prepared schoolgirls.
The examination at the school for girls was conducted two weeks (note that the examination in the mutual teaching school was a week after that of the principal school, and in many respects it excelled the principal school), after the examination at the school for boys.
There was in Prilep not a living soul who was not present to witness this magnificent (although for the first time) performance. Neither did the women lag behind their husbands, and, after church service, all the people gathered at the appointed place - the mutual teaching school.
After our chief priest Н. Р, Konstantine had said the prayer for the long life of His August Majesty - Sultan Abdul Aziz, and for the success of the students, etc., one of the schoolgirls delivered a short speech prepared by the teacher, which so deeply touched the hearts of everybody present that many could not refrain from shedding tears. The examination began and ended in high rapture after several songs about our king had been sung. We were very glad that Mr. Dimko Radev was also present. I shall not relate what subjects and questions were asked and answered, I leave it for the others to explain. I am only glad to say that the chagrined faces, the hearts of the people sad and heavy because of the examination at the boys' school gradually became joyful and they were greatly encouraged when they observed the excellent answers of these young Macedonian girls. Greatly encouraged by the results of the examination, the people and the town authorities together did not delay over-much (in spite of some opposition) to appoint the same schoolmistress for the next year. We were still more heartened to see that the materials for the new school building were beginning to arrive. God help us to put the boys' schools in order too and we shall be fully satisfied.
1 Nedelya Petkova
(1826-1894), born in the town of
Let me first kiss with filial veneration the hand of your reverend Father and the common Father2 of the people from Ohrid, because under his protection so many things have been said and written against Bishop Meleti3 of Prespa that the simple folk have awakened and are now willing to sign any petition blind-folded once they see his signature on it, and they have thus destroyed the reputation of the Bishop of Prespa.
We admit that, using all manner of excuses, the great Christian Church has often postponed and is still postponing the granting of our request, so that Meleti's: fall is not yet certain and that because so much time has passed, the people here have lost much of their original enthusiasm, but this cooling down, I assure you, is not due less to the injustice of the Phanariots than to the absence of your reverend old Father. The whole people greets him filially through me. Patience and persistence! I have been approached for the second or rather the tenth time by Meleti's friends with offers of reconciliation, which indicates that His Grace is out of his mind. Let God in heaven judge and take vengeance!
find enclosed an ode in
praise of Mr. N. M. Toshkov, a wealthy Bulgarian
Please, remember that in your letter you must say something to the effect that 'your letter, Mr., Purlichev, has been safely dispatched.'
P.S. Today is the first of April, but I forgot to make you an April joke.5
1 Or Yakim Kochov
(1836-1910), a teacher and secretary to the
This was a sound that came from the mouth of a very respectable Greek and it deafened me when I was passing through the market of Koukoush today. 'This/ answered some of the Koukoush notables sitting together with the said Greek in a shop, 'is a celebration of the Day of the Bulgarian enlighteners St St Cyril and Methodius, who, ten centuries ago, enlightened the Bulgarians and all Slavs with the truth of the Gospel and after devising the Bulgarian alphabet, laid the foundations of Bulgarian Slav writing. That is why today, we too, being Bulgarians, celebrate their holy memory as a sacred duty and this is the occasion for the present "extraordinary celebration," as you consider it, Sir, which you observe in our small town.' Afterwards, these same people from Koukoush related in detail, as far as it was possible, the lives of the Bulgarian apostles, and the Greek gentleman, on hearing that they were from Salonica, seemed very pleased and proud, and he ordered a cup of coffee for every one present, which may be understood to indicate that he too was probably from Salonica.
And, indeed, if this Greek had felt so elated and grateful, how much more so should those feel, who had stayed in church, like sheep at salt, to listen to the solemn service in honour of their great enlighteners and, just like lambs running after their mothers, had run towards the school where the celebration was still greater than that observed by the Greek in the market? The extent of their admiration is indicated by the following.
Two days before the holiday all the craftsmen in town agreed that on that day, even though it was very important to open their shops because it happened to be market day, they should not open their shops until the service in church and the ceremony in school were over, and this they did.
It is not necessary to describe in detail the celebration, taking place in Koukoush this year for the second time. I shall only add that for the vespers the schoolboys from the schools — the principal and the mutual-teaching one, nearly 250 in number, under the supervision of three teachers and carrying the two holy images of the enlighteners went to the church singing all the way. And just as in the morning, so after the vespers had been conducted with all the solemnity due to such ceremonies, the students went back to school, and, after the usual hymn singing, one of the teachers delivered a short speech on the lives of the saints and invited the people to pay more attention to the education and upbringing of the young people, because otherwise, he said, they would remain lagging behind all other people, as it had been until then.
After the morning ceremony in school, the shops opened for a short time, and, from noon till the evening, the people of Koukoush rounded things off with joyful festivities. This is all about the celebration.
As for the schools, I am glad to say, and to praise them, that today there are two schools for boys — a principal and a mutual-teaching one — which are so far well managed, and there are hopes that they will be better still; but, unfortunately, the school for girls is not doing very well, and this is not due to lack of good will on the part of the citizens, but to impossibility, because highly commendable as is their patriotism and love for knowledge, the people of Koukoush are not able to organize their school for girls properly. What they have done for the boys' schools is more than can be expected, but, unwilling to close their school for girls, they have appointed one of the priests to teach the girls as best as he can. This will give an idea of the progress there.
It will become clear how necessary it is to have a well organized school for girls in Koukoush, when one considers how near Koukoush the Greeks of Salonica are, and that girls from Koukoush are admitted to the Greek schools for girls in Salonica free of charge, and also that, because of the good management of the schools for boys, many students from the neighbouring villages go to study to these 'famous' schools.
In Koukoush I saw also an issue of the newspaper Makedonia, presented by the Bulgarian library club in Constantinople, and I learned that after the receipt of the 1st and 2nd issues of the newspaper, the students sent a letter of gratitude to the library club through the newspaper; but because they have not seen it published in Makedonia as yet, they were very disappointed and they asked me to tell you of their feelings and to beg you to do now even though it is already late, what they had done in time, but unfortunately nothing has appeared so far. Will you be so kind, Mr. Editor, to put in the respectful columns of your newspaper Makedonia both our lines and theirs.
All those present at the meeting, including the priests, signed the petition with great enthusiasm, and animation spread throughout the town. The joy was universal because an agreement had been reached and there were no more differences since not only the Wallachians, but all those who had been opposing it, now leadily signed it as well. Hercules could not have been happier with his 12 exploits than you would be if you could see the results of your patriotism. On the next day (the day of the 318 Fathers) I delivered a longer speech, encouraging the faint-hearted, urging the inert into action, explaining to the people their church rights, vividly describing the perfidious slander on the basis of which Patriarch Samuil had closed down the archbishopric of Prima Justiniana.1 You can imagine the impression my speech made even on the monoeklesia /i.e. the supporters of the unified church - editor's note/, coming as it did deliberately after a simple recommendation I had made the day before, insisting that the meeting should become a monoeklesia /i.e. a meeting of the unified church - editor's note/ if possible. It is most curious that under these favourable circumstances my wit was instantly kindled. Because suddenly and quite naturally I had changed from a teacher into a preacher and my impassioned words greatly moved the people, so much so that when the young priest Georgi was reading the Gospel, everyone as if at a given signal began coughing (as in bad weather), but during my speech everyone listened with pleasure and not only did the coughing stop, but one would have thought that this multitude had even stopped breathing!
My dear man! I believe that paradise is something delightful but I also think that the good-will of the people is no less desirable and that he is not deluded who sacrifices himself for it. And so, I have made my report.
I wish the best of health to you, who love your country and are protected by it.
P.S. The request to the Patriarchate has been written simply and purely to satisfy our opponents who thought that, after making their excuses, they too had the right to voice their opinion. I believe, however, that you would not agree to the sending of this request except to the Sultan. The petition for 'the restoration of our archbishopric' has been made at the suggestion of our opponents with whom we agreed in order to achieve unanimity.
On this occasion great zeal was displayed by Mr. G. Bodlev,2 Mr. I. Sapoundjiev, Father Tasko (who defended my speech by addressing the meeting ex tempore) and that is why he is entitled perhaps to some help for his parish; he would even be useful to us in the setting up of a council of elders. I fervently beg you to urge the inert notables to set up a Council of Notables (Elders).
1 The name of the
independent Bulgarian Orthodox Church and of its supreme governing body
in the town of Ohrid; a direct successor to the Bulgarian Patriarchate
Bulgaria's fall under Byzantine rule in 1018. In 1767 Samuil, Patriarch
of Constantinople, closed down the Archbishopric о Ohrid and
subordinated its dioceses to the Constantinople Patriarchate
Thanks to the Esteemed Government which zealously concerns itself with the opening of schools, we have at last decided to set up a Bulgarian girls' school and to appoint a lady-teacher, in spite of the opposition of some of our fellow townsmen, mostly from the aristocracy, in spite of the almost complete lack of funds which may induce us to take the risk of resorting to our empty purses in order to meet the needs that are sure to arise in the first year, especially in connection with the maintenance of the school.
Therefore, we turn to you with filial courage and ask you to send us not only the sum donated by the patriotic Mr. N. M. Toshkov as soon as possible, but also to take fatherly care, if possible, of the further needs of the school with joy in your heart that you have at last seen the long-suffering Ohrid awake from its lethargy and that you have at last found the sheep that was lost.
As for us, we are not afraid of any small personal sacrifice in the cause of education, but we believe that this is far from being enough for the establishment of the school; and lest the national spirit, which has again blossomed forth in the hearts of the people only after long struggles, should fade away, it needs some care and attention at least until the moment when the sweetness of its fruits will wrest personal sacrifices even from the poorest townspeople.