Therefore I, too, have written down for you in sequence that which is already known about your kin and your tongue. Read it and acquaint yourselves with it, so that you will not be ridiculed and reproached by other tribes and peoples. I love the Bulgarian people and my country very much and with much labour have I collected material from various books and histories until I collected and brought together the deeds of the Bulgarian people in this little book for your benefit and praise. I wrote it for you, who love your people and the Bulgarian land and who wish to know about your kin and tongue. Copy this little history book and pay those who know how to write to copy it for you and take good care that it is not lost.
And some there be who do not wish to know about their Bulgarian kin and turn to a foreign culture and to a foreign tongue and do not care for their Bulgarian language, but learn how to read and speak Greek and are ashamed to call themselves Bulgarians. O, senseless and foolish ones! Why are you ashamed to call yourselves Bulgarians and why do you not read and speak your own language? Or have not the Bulgarians had a kingdom and a state? Long did they reign and long were they glorious and famous throughout the world, and many a time did they exact taxes from the powerful Romans and from the wise Greeks. And emperors and kings gave them their royal daughters in marriage, in order to live in peace and love with the Bulgarian tsars. The Bulgarians were the most famous of all the Slav peoples, they were the first to have tsars, they were the first to have a patriarch, they were the first to be converted to the Christian faith and it was they who conquered the most land. Thus, of all the Slav people, they were the strongest and most respected, and the first Slav saints shone forth from the Bulgarian people, speaking the Bulgarian language, as I have duly written in this history. And about this, too, the Bulgarians have evidence from many histories, because this is the truth about the Bulgarians, as I have said.
O, you stupid men, why are you ashamed of your kin and why do you hanker after a foreign language? But, you will say, the Greeks are wiser and more cultured, whereas the Bulgarians are simple and stupid and have no refined words. That is why, you will say, it would be better if we followed their lead. But see here, you senseless ones, there are many peoples that are wiser and greater than the Greeks. Does any Greek forsake his tongue and his people as you, О witless ones, forsake yours, while gaining nothing from Greek wisdom and refinement? Be not deceived, О Bulgarian, know your people and language and learn in your own tongue! Better is Bulgarian simplicity and kindness. The simple Bulgarians welcome all to their homes and entertain them, and they give alms to those who beg of them. Whereas the wise and cultured /Greeks/ never do this, but instead they take from the simple and rob them unjustly, so that sin rather than benefit results from their wisdom and culture. Or maybe you feel ashamed of your own people and language in the presence of the learned and the merchants, and the famed ones of this earth, because the Bulgarians are simple people and there are among them few merchants and literate men, or such that are skilled and famous on this earth today, because the majority of them are ordinary ploughmen, diggers, shepherds and simple artisans? I shall answer you briefly on the question. From Adam to David and to Joachim the Righteous One, to Joseph the Betrothed (to the Holy Virgin), of all the righteous and holy prophets and patriarchs, called great both on this earth and in the sight of God, not one was a merchant or a sly and proud man like these wily ones whom you respect, at whom you marvel and whose customs and language you ape. All those pious forefathers of ours were farmers and shepherds, rich in livestock and the fruits of the earth, and were simple and kind in their lives. And Christ Himself descended to earth and went to live in the home of the simple and poor Joseph. See how God loves simple and kind shepherds and ploughmen better, and how it was they whom he first loved and glorified on earth, and yet you feel ashamed because the Bulgarians are simple and guileless shepherds and ploughmen, and you forsake your own people and language, praising a foreign tongue and aping foreign customs.
I saw how many Bulgarians behaved thus, adopting a foreign language and customs, while blaspheming their own. That is why I have written here against those who abuse their fathers and who do not love their own people and language; but, for those of you who wish to know and to hear about your people and language, I have written this so that you will learn and remember that our Bulgarian tsars, patriarchs and prelates were not without annals and codices. For many years they reigned and ruled on earth and had royal chronicles and archiepiscopal codices; about everything that was known and many life-stories and canons of the Bulgarian saints. But at that time there were no Slav printing presses, and the people, out of negligence, did not copy books. Such books were to be found in very few places. And when the Turks invaded the Bulgarian lands, they immediately violated and burnt the churches, the monasteries and the palaces of the tsars and prelates. At that time the people out of fear, necessity and horror of the Turks, ran for their lives and it was at this dreadful time that the royal histories and the codices of the Bulgarian patriarchs and prelates and the life-stories of many saints were destroyed. And today we do not possess the detailed annals that were written about our people and about the Bulgarian tsars.
I read innumerable books and spent much time in diligent search but I could find nothing. In many manuscripts and printed histories there is hardly anything to be found, apart from brief notes. A certain Mavrubir,2 a Latin, translated a short history of the Bulgarian tsars from the Greek but extremely briefly — there is little more than their names and who succeeded whom on the throne. This Mavrubir himself wrote as follows: 'Thus say the Greeks, prompted by their envy and hatred for the Bulgarians. They did not describe the valiant conduct and the glorious deeds of the Bulgarian people and tsars, but wrote in brief and to the contrary, as it best suited them so that they would not feel ashamed that the Bulgarians had many a time defeated them and had exacted taxes from them.' It took me a long time to collect what was essential from this Mavrubir and from many other histories and then, elaborating a little, I prepared this little history book. Although there are many books in which short notes about the Bulgarians are to be found, not everyone has access to these books, to read them and remember, thus I reasoned it would be better to collect everything together in one book.
After Samuil, his son Radomir came to the throne, but he reigned only for one year and on the instigation of the Greek Emperor Nicephorus was slain while hunting. Nicephorus had secretly sent a man who killed him during the chase.
After Radomir, Ivan Vladimir ascended the throne. The Bulgarians banished Gavrail, Samuil’s son, to Wallachia and made Ivan, Aaron's son, king. Aaron was Samuil's and David's brother. St Ivan Vladimir reigned for three years, leading a pure, holy and pious life at first. The Greek Emperor rose once more against Ivan with a mighty force, but with a prayer to God and filled with great hope, he went with a small army and vanquished the Greeks. And then they returned in shame. But Ivan had a Greek wife and brother-in-law with him with the rank of Magister. He and his sister were heretics, novationists, they did not love the saintly Tsar Vladimir because of his Orthodoxy and pious life and laid a snare to kill him. Ivan's brother-in-law himself slew him as he passed through a forest, he cut off his head as he was riding his horse. It was God's will that Ivan should not fall off the horse, but take his own head in his hands and spur on his horse. He passed through many places and arrived at the monastery, which he had built himself at the beginning: there he dismounted his horse and expired. And it is in this monastery in Elbasan country that Ivan's relics rest immortal and whole and cure many illnesses. The entire region commemorates him on the 22nd of May. He is a saint and a special fine service, well appointed, with a vigil and doxology, is held with great solemnity and glorification. Here we have briefly written about the saintly Tsar Ivan-Vladimir. This saint's life and service have been translated into Greek, but quite incorrectly: the life was either written later, after a long time, or some Serbian or Greek has changed it, wanting to hide his Bulgarian origin, that he comes from a line of Bulgarian tsars. They wrote that he was of Serbian origin, the son of Neman Simeonov, but they were gravely mistaken, they did not know the years in which Simeon of Serbia reigned. At that time there were no kings at all in Serbia, let alone tsars. Simeon Neman and his sons were kings many years later, and we know about all the holy Serbian kings, it is written where each died and where their relics and graves are to be found. If you look at the Serbian family-tree you will find out at what time Samuil and Simeon and St Ivan-Vladimir lived and you will see how the writers were mistaken in this or wanted to conceal the origin and homeland of St Ivan-Vladimir.
After the murder of Ivan, the Greek Emperor entered Ohrid without resistance. St Ivan had spent three years of his reign there in Ohrid. And those murderers surrendered all Bulgaria to the Greek Emperor. Without resistance he arrived, opened the treasury and the royal treasure, carried off a lot of gold and countless amounts of silver and divided them among his soldiers. He took many royal wreaths, crowns and precious stones. He had great mercy on Tsarina Maria, the wife of Tsar Ivan, and on their five daughters. And he knew that she had surrendered the Bulgarian kingdom and had killed her husband.
And then from Turnovo came Patriarch David and two Bulgarian barons Bogdan and Mirobizo, they brought the keys to the thirty-five Bulgarian towns and handed the keys and the towns over to the Greek king. He put Mirobizo and Bogdan again as barons of Bulgaria. And so the Bulgarian kingdom finally fell under Greek rule because of the sin of Samuil, the Bulgarian tsar and because of the novationist and Armenian heresy which multiplied among the Bulgarians in the Ohrid country.
1. It may be that some of the above songs are not complete or that in many of them the lines are not equally long (there are fewer or more syllables); but we hope that the readers will forgive us these errors, especially when they bear in mind the fact that these Bulgarian songs were both written in Vienna, and that here more attention is given to grammar than to poetry. But when, by the will of God, the time comes for Bulgarian songs to be collected in Bulgaria as well and to be written down from the lips of the singers’ themselves, then these errors will be corrected and everything will be put right. From these few songs, it will be seen that Bulgarian songs are similar to Serbian ones and that, in all probability, there must be as many of them, as are the Serbian songs (in proportion to the population). The songs which the Serbian kratitsi sing on Trinity Sunday, are sung by Bulgarian girls on St John's Day, January 7th, and the last two little songs belong to this group. Bulgarians also have their popular hero-songs, which are sung to the rebec, like the Serbian ones, and, what is more, there may be a great many Serbian songs adapted to the Bulgarian language, for the Bulgarians themselves admit this to be true in the case of some of the above songs (for example, 15 and 25). In the Bulgarian songs, as in the Serbian ones, there are words which today can be heard only in songs, for example, 'hartya' (in the spoken language they say 'kniga'), 'zheltitsa' (in the spoken language 'zhutitsa'), 'konya' (in the spoken language 'kone’),etc.
2. From these short examples every philologist will at once notice the main difference which distinguishes the Bulgarian language from the other Slav dialects, and this is: a) the article (Artikel), which is added to the end, for example 'krachmarnitsata', 'utreto', 'hlebo', etc., and, b) the fact that the nouns have almost no declensions, for example, ‘za toya chovek, ot Yerusalim, kray more, na kon, ot kon, nyamam voda’, etc.
So far I have only three Bulgarian books: a) Malka knizhitsa (in octavo) о mitarstvima; I saw this booklet in Serbia last year but I do not have it with me now, so I can say nothing about it (I think it was printed in Budim). b) Razlichna pouchitelna nastavlenja, sochinenya Yeromonahom Yoakimom Hadji, in Budim, 1819. This book was seemingly written in the Bulgarian language, but actually it is not Bulgarian, nor Russian, nor Slavonic, but a mixture of all three of these languages. c) etc. by the teacher and priest Danil of Moscopol, first printed in Moscopol 60 years ago and then reprinted in 1802 in Dubrovnik. In this little book one can find several dialects: Greek, Wallachian, Bulgarian and Albanian, which were written with the intention of making these peoples forsake their 'barbarian languages and become Greeks'. Perhaps in this phrase-book the Bulgarian language is purer than in previously written books, but the words, rendered in Greek letters, are so erroneously written (how otherwise, than wrongly, could the Slav words be rendered in Greek letters), that this book, too, cannot be used in a proper way.
Karadjic (1777-1864), an eminent Serbian philologist,
specialist in folklore, a reformer of the Serbian literary language. In
1822 his book Addenda to the St. Petersburg
comparative dictionaries of
all languages and dialects with special references to the Bulgarian
In it 27 Bulgarian folk songs from the
district of Razlog were published for the first time
Today, according to exact information, if we consider the populatic each Turkish district separately, we shall arrive at the following conclusion
The population of Bulgaria consists of:a) mainly Bulgarians,
The population of Thessaly consists of: Wallachians, Bulgarians, Turks, Greeks.
I cannot say to this day to what boundary the Bulgarian people stretches to the South (in Livadia); at least I know that in the past they (the Bulgarians) extended, mixed with the Greeks, to the southern-most parts of Moreia, where they merged under the name of Ezerites and Milings (Const, de adm. imp. c.50). Traces of them can be found not only in historical sources but also in the Slavic names of different places in Livadia, as well as in Moreia.
On the whole, the Bulgarians live more in the countryside than in the towns, which are mainly inhabited by imperial privileged persons who live at the expense of other people's labour, Turks, and even Greeks by nationality. There are also towns in Bulgaria inhabited only by Bulgarians; they are to be found, in fact, also in the Rumelian and Macedonian towns, Indjik, near Constantinople, for instance, is inhabited (as a Greek maintains in his Resume Georg. de la Turquie, Paris, 1826, p. 504) solely by Bulgarians who engage in weaving thick broadcloth; the same applies to Belgrade, not far from the above-mentioned capital. The same Greek says (p. 529) that three towns - Buyuk-Bechik, Bazar-Djedid and Sidero-Kapshi, located in proximity to the Chalcidice and Salonica coasts of the Archipelago, are inhabited only by Bulgarians, etc. Much more can be explained in a more detailed description of these places.
We shall further note that in the 18th century the Emperor Justinian II resettled so great a number of Bulgarians from the European regions of the Empire in Anatolia, that they populated the whole region which consequently supplied the Empire with up to 30,000 elite soldiers. I do not know whether the descendents of this extensive population have survived. It has not occurred to anyone, at least up till now, I believe, to inform himself about it, even partially. Incidentally, this is not surprising, if we recall that no one took pains to learn anything about the Rumelian and Macedonian Bulgarians.
(From a Bulgarian I discovered, however, that the Rumelians have some information about their compatriots in Anatolia; a scholar showed me a few pages from a church book, written in regular and semi-regular handwriting, and brought from Anatolia, he assured me. That, however, should be further investigated).
In addition, a considerable number of the Bulgarians are known to have settled in various districts in Novorussia and Bessarabia. A considerable part of the inhabitants of the populous town of Kishenev consists of these new-comers from beyond the river Danube and (the latter) occupy a part of the town, called Bulgaria.
Many Bulgarian families are scattered all over Moldavia, Wallachia and Transylvania.
This shows that the Bulgarians in Europe outnumber the Turks, and more so the Greeks, and thus they can be considered the predominant people in European Turkey.
(Page 5) Here we shall point out the reason why in the presence of such a numerous Bulgarian population, the name of Bulgaria is restricted within the limits of the country still known today by this name. That is so because in that country it was chiefly the Bulgarians who were independent: Rumelia or Thrace and Macedonia have almost always belonged to the Empire, and although they were inhabited by Bulgarians, could not bear a name which belonged to that state. Both the Bulgarians within the Empire and the Greeks themselves were called Romans (Byzantines).
The Bulgarians are of no less considerable number compared to the other Slav peoples; even today they are more numerous than the Serbs, Croats, Poles and the Czechs themselves; only the Russians are an exception in this respect. If this people had not suffered great losses under the long cruel oppression and the pernicious policy of the Porte, and from the plague, if this people had remained predominant in all the lands hitherto inhabited by it, then it could really be supposed that today it could have been as numerous and colossal as the Russian people. This view should keep us from wrong assumptions about the existence of this people in times long past.
The district of Korcha includes some 50 villages. One third of them are Christian, the others — Mohammedan. More important are Voskopol or Moskopol, Vitkuki, Kamenitsa, Flioki, Boboshtitsa, Drenovo, Boria, Boskopi and others. The total number of the houses is almost 2,400 and the number of the inhabitants is 22,000, according to the royal census taken in that district. Both the Turks (the Moslems) and the Christians are by nationality Albanians - speaking the same language, having the same customs, illiterate and unskilled, bad farmers and shepherds, with the exception of the inhabitants of Korcha and Moskopol, who engage in trade. The inhabitants of Voskopol are Wallachians; there are also some Bulgarians in the vicinity.
The district of Biglishte is small and comprises about 30 villages, including the farms. It is entirely surrounded by mountains. It has a healthy climate and good water and a plain, watered by the river Devol.
The majority of the villages are inhabited by Bulgarian Christians, and the rest - by Albanian Moslems. They number almost 1,200 houses, with nearly 7,200 men and women.
To the north Gora and Mokra are bordered by Ohrid, to the south by the river Devol, which divides them from Opara, to the east by Korcha, to the west by the Elbasan area. The landscape is mountainous and rugged. That is why Gora means mountain in Slavonic (Bulgarian).
To the northwest of Biglishte and Prespa is the region of Ohrid, which includes three small districts, as we mentioned above, Resen to the northeast, Strouga to the west and Gora to the south. Ohrid, with its surrounding area and Resen and Strouga with theirs, have nearly 6,000 houses and a total of 50,000 inhabitants. Half of that number are Bulgarian Christians and half are Turks, Albanian-Bulgarians. There are about 140 villages, both Turkish and Christian. The language is Slavonic both in Ohrid and in Strouga and also in Resen and in the whole area around them.
In comparison with its ancient glory, Ohrid is nothing today. It has some 2,000 houses - both Turkish and Christian, and a market place with nearly 100 workshops. The houses are built of brick and mud, and are roofed with tiles.
The water comes from outside the town but they also drink from the lake. There is a strong fortress built on a hill that juts out into the lake. The hill is a peninsula, descending steeply down to the lake. The governor lives in the fortress. Ohrid is divided into three quarters - the fortress, the eastern one and the northwestern one outside the fortress. 1,200 of the houses belong to Albanian-Bulgarian Turks and 800 - to Bulgarian Christians. . .
Four hours' journey to the northeast of Ohrid, beyond the mountain, brings one to the district centre of Resen, subject to the governor in Ohrid. It has 200 Turkish houses and the same number of Christian ones, and quite a large surrounding area. The inhabitants are Bulgarians by nationality and speak Bulgarian ...
. . . Strouga, as we have said, is subject, together with its environs, to the Governor of Ohrid. Its inhabitants are also Bulgarians and speak the Slavonic dialect. . .
The Metropolitan of Ohrid is Metropolitan of Prespa as well, since the Christians of Prespa, like those of Resen, Strouga and Ohrid and Kroushevo, are also subject to him in religious matters. There are over 5,000 houses belonging to Albanians and Bulgarians. His seat is in Ohrid.
Debur is a small town of about 1,400 houses, with a small market place. . .
In most of the villages they speak Bulgarian - both the Turks and the Christians. . .
The hamlet of Elbasan is situated on level ground; it has a nice market place and much water. . .
It is almost in the centre of Albania. . . In general, Albania praises the dialect of the ghegs. They have a proverb about this, which says: Albanian is spoken in Elbasan, Greek - in Janina, Turkish - in Constantinople, Bulgarian - in Tikvesh…
The struggle of Serbia at the beginning of this century and the haiduts’ struggle against the spahis evoked a very weak response in Bulgaria... It was only in 1821, after the Greek revolution, that a great number of Bulgarian haiduts suddenly appeared in Macedonia and penetrated as far as the Peloponnese. From that time on, the number of the haiduts increased, and after the Russo-Turkish war there was a secret agreement among them which was betrayed by a newly accepted member and was drowned in blood.
Sultan Mahmud's death and the prophesies which spread through the Turkish Empire during the 'forties1 of the 18th century, provoked considerable activity in Bulgaria, Rumelia and Macedonia - i.e. wherever Bulgarians lived. The uprisings in Candia and Thessaly caused both the Bulgarians and the Turks in the towns to start arming themselves; in 1838 the previously dissolved conspiracy was revived; enormous masses of people rose up, and all of a sudden the Porte found itself cut off from the Danube and from the towns which had seceded in the north. The movement was headed by a haidut by the name of Miloe2, who had already fought under Kara Georgi, and Gavra, who was said to be a priest. Mihail convened the Council and a decision was taken, in defiance of the obvious will of the people, to maintain strict neutrality. All Serbs were forbidden to participate in the Bulgarian uprising, troops were stationed along the border and all communications with the Bulgarians were cut This saved the Turks, who set fire to 150 villages between Nis and Sofia and, after a number of battles, managed to disperse the main forces of the poorly armed insurgents. Mortally wounded, Miloe committed suicide and the haiduts, without their leader, began to disperse; and those most dedicated to the cause fled to Macedonia, where they joined the klephts.
I have not received a single line since your departure. In the meantime my efforts concerning our Bulgarian language and the Bulgarian (folk) songs, in compliance with your recommendations are unsurpassed. I have not for one moment ceased to fulfill the pledge which I made to you, Sir, because the Bulgarians are spontaneously striving for the truth. But I hope you will excuse my delay up till now, which is due to the difficulty I had in selecting the best songs and also in my work on the grammar. I hope that, on another convenient occasion, after I have collected more songs and finished the grammar, I will be able to send them to you. Please write where and through whom it would be safe to send them to you (as you so ardently wish).
We are completely convinced, by assurances of the villagers of Glavinitsa, that the stone inscriptions for which we have been looking will also be found. I will study them next spring. It would be wonderful and desirable if, with your assistance, we could ask the Government for the holy relics of Saint Clement of Ohrid, verified by the Great Church of Christ, as you yourself witnessed with your own eye, and requested on your own initiative. And the steps taken before the authorities here concerning the holy relics in question will do much to bring you praise and to confer benefit upon our newly-opened school.
I am writing you this letter on the instructions of the notables in Ohrid. Looking forward to an immediate reply in Greek through the same bearer, I greet you with the deepest esteem and respect.
1 Dimiter Miladinov (1810-1862),
Strouga, an eminent figure of the Bulgarian Revival and an active
public education of the Bulgarians and for their spiritual and
awakening; he taught in Strouga, Ohrid, Koukoush and Prilep, where he
introduced the Bulgarian language into the schools, where Greek had
been the medium of instruction. Falsely accused by the Greek bishop of
he was sent to prison in Constantinople where he died
As far as I know, the first mention of Bulgarian folk songs is to be found in a manuscript of the 14th century, from which Safarik2 copied two songs for his Narodopis Slovanski (Prague, 1842, p. 160). Then, as late as this century, we find again two or three songs in Vuk's Pesmaritsa Srpska (Vienna, 1814-1815). Eight years later, Vuk again appeared in print and this time with a voluminous collection of Bulgarian folk songs published in the book Dodatak k sanktpeterburskim sravnitelnim rechnizima sviju jezika i narechijama s osobitim ogledima bugarskog jezika (Vienna, 1822, 4°, p. 54). In that book, together with a short comparative dictionary and two excerpts from the Holy Gospel in spoken Bulgarian dialect, he also published 27 shorter or longer excerpts from folk songs in the same language and, together with this, a brief study of the Bulgarian language — indeed, in my opinion, the best and most precise work in this field up till now. And now again, twenty years after Vuk's Dodatak, a little book was published by a Bulgarian in Pesht (Bulgarian Folk-Songs and Proverbs, compiled by Ivan A. Bogorov,3 Book I). This little book contains 12 longer songs and more than 200 proverbs. It is much to be regretted that the areas where those songs came from are not known (judging by the specific features of their language, I think that they were collected in the regions between the Danube and the Balkan Mountain). And this is all that has so far been published, to my knowledge. I have read in books and journals that there was a similar collection by Archimandrite Neophit4 (the first Bulgarian patriot), by Mr. Aprilov5 (already known as the publisher of Denitsa Bolgarska in Odessa) and by a certain Stoyanovich, of Bulgarian origin. Besides them, in our times two Russian professors – Mr. Ismail Sreznevski6 (of Kharkov) and Mr. Victor Grigorovich (of Kazan), have also collected Bulgarian folk songs and proverbs. Mr. Grigorovich has traveled far and wide in the Bulgarian lands - from Constantinople to the frontier-stones at Arabakonak, from the city of Salonica as far as the white Danube and, collecting material for a dictionary and a grammar, he, with the help of God, came across folk songs. Their number is about 200 and I feel happy that this collection is the best known and finest of everything we hitherto have. Last autumn, when Mr. Grigorovich came to Zagreb for several days' rest from his tiring journey, he fell ill and, during his illness he suggested that I should copy what I thought necessary from the manuscripts of his Bulgarian collection. And there I hurriedly copied and compiled about 60 excerpts from folk songs, some longer and some shorter. And it was precisely this occasion that helped me to discover these Bulgarian songs.
1 Stanko Vraz (1810-1851),
one of the eminent representatives of Illyrism; in the magazine Kolo
published 33 Bulgarian folk-songs and a short
article on the Bulgarians
When we heard from Mr. Teodor Miskinovich of your kindness and desire to help the education of the Bulgarian people, we were overjoyed and we hastened, through the above gentleman, to let you know of our request and of the state of our school, and of our church, but in addition, we, the undersigned residents of Bashino village, Veles district, have decided to inform you of our situation at present...
We have 150 houses in the village, all Bulgarian, and also a good school with instruction only in Bulgarian thanks to a teacher from the same village, and children numbering about 80 who study the primer, the prayer-book, the psalter and monthly prayers, the Old and New Testament and catechism. That is what the young people learn, because we are unable to get books, while the teacher is capable of teaching them more subjects.
The teacher is paid 1,200 grosh a year, which comes from the income obtained from the few fields and vineyards belonging to the school
Our church, called St Nicholas, was built ten years ago. And we cannot yet repay our debt, so as to be able to buy the necessary books. And because of the lack of church books, we haven't a book with services for the year, and we also need a Gospel, as well as the Acts of the Apostles, and the lives of saints, and in the end, some vestments for the priests conducting the liturgy - we have two priests who hold services and run the church. Because their skill is like that of other priests in these parts.
And so, we have shown Your High Worship our situation and our needs, that is why we humbly ask you to help us in our poverty as much as your kind heart deigns. Waiting for your answer every day, we remain, your humble brothers.
1Alexander Stoilov Exarch
(c.1810-1891), born in Stara
Zagora, Bulgarian journalist and public figure, an active participant
national liberation movement, who intensively worked to organize and
schools in Bulgaria
We, the undersigned, humbly kneel and beg; our shortage is immense; and maybe Your Lordship is aware of it; as misfortune and ruin are still raging throughout Bulgaria and Macedonia. Glory be to the most gracious benefactor for the good we've seen, may freedom be today, and we suffered in the name of our blessed Lord. May the schools, churches and monasteries open with the tsar's will!
And so today we are working hard to restore the St Archangel Monastery which has been ruined for a long time, but we have gone to great expenses and we are deeply in debt.
Now, however, coming to this see, our most eminent Mr. Avksenti, as a lover of his own race, particularly the Slav-Bulgarians, passed through these parts and stopped at our monastery to rest. All the priests and wealthy people who were also present saw our poverty and concern for all the things we badly needed. That is why the priests advised us to implore Your Lordship to take pity on us.
You have promised in future to donate to the schools and churches what books, vestments and other church needs there may be. That is why we implore you, being so generous, to take mercy on us and not exclude us, the undeserving, from the number of the needy.
We, therefore, kneel once again and appeal to your graciousness and compassion to stretch out your generous hand also to St. Archangel Monastery. The needed books, as well as partly the church vestments, will be the pride and adornment of St Archangel Church, and Your Lordship will be eternally glorified and remembered for them.
We nourish great hope that you will look graciously upon the account we have herewith given you and we affectionately await your generous and gracious charity. Being pious and devoted, we hope for an answer to our above request, and we will all constantly pray to God and to St Archangel to fulfill your desire. We will thus keep Your Lordship in high honour for ever and ever.
letter is signed by 22 notables of the village.
We can read the signatures of priest Dimiter Stefanov, priest Mitse
schoolmaster David Teodorov, Manush Kodjabashia, H. Traikov, Nikola
1Avksenti of Veles (1798-1865),
born in the
town of Samokov, one of the eminent participants in the struggle for a
Hadjikonstantinov-Djinot (c.1818-1882), born in Veles, Bulgarian
teacher and a
man of letters, an active participant in the national-liberation
May I be allowed to tell you of some observations of mine, dating back to my childhood. In almost six-eighths of Macedonia, inhabited Bulgarians speaking the same language, all study in the Greek language and are called Greeks by the Greeks, with the exception of the Slavs living further north who are advancing in the Slav language.
A Russian traveler, Victor Grigorovich by name, a professor from Kazan, was very much surprised when he saw books in Slavonic in Ohrid, in my native town of Strouga, in Prespa and elsewhere, as if the Bulgarians living there had been unknown to the European peoples and had been considered another nation by them. When I taught Thucydides in Ohrid, Grigorovich exclaimed with enthusiasm: 'Oh, but are you not our brothers?' as if he were dreaming and did not believe that the Slav language was our mother tongue and the tongue of our forefathers. When the two of us arrived in my native town of Strouga the same evening, he expressed the wish to hear my old mother sing (a Bulgarian song), which he wrote down. He then asked me to write a grammar of the spoken Bulgarian language, which book be was waiting to receive in Vienna, where some Greeks and Albanians from places around our country instigated by certain people, accused him unjustly of having stolen books, whereas in actual fact our fellow-countrymen had willingly given him some books.
Patriots! The torrent of the Greek language will become irresistible in these parts, if resolute measures are not taken. There are many Slav-Bulgarians who have studied and are now studying in Athens, and as time goes by together with the language they acquire habits, and, as a result, nationality blends with-their feelings.
My brother, on his way back from Athens this summer, where he has been studying Greek philology at the university for three years now, stopped at the monastery of Zograph in Mt. Athos to see hieromonach Parteni, who was once my student and who has lately been studying in Russia. It had been my brother's intention to persuade Parteni to help him continue his education in Russia as a student of Slavonic philology. For the time being, however, he has only studied Slavonic-Russian grammar and syntax at the monastery, and came back to his native town. And Parteni gave him this promise (if this happens to be true): 'By working as a teacher, pay back, within three years, your interest-yielding debts (since we also paid for our studies with money, taken at interest), and after that I shall have the money to send you in three years' time to one of the universities in Russia.' From there my brother brought two books: one with church-songs in the Bulgarian language, and the other - a Bulgarian Gospel which he gave as gifts to my native town of Strouga, where, as my brother writes, every Sunday the Gospel is read in Bulgarian by a priest who speaks Slavonic, to the great satisfaction of the listeners.
At my suggestion, the Greek teacher in Strouga, a former student of mine, and also priest Joan were persuaded to train the students in Bulgarian first. If they had text-books in that language, such as primers, grammars, syntaxes, arithmetics and geographies, I assure you that a good beginning would be laid in the most western part of Macedonia.
'We all need a strong hand.' Mr. Peter M. A. Dimisovik and Dimiter K. Pagonidis, who engage in trade over there, can inform you of my humble feelings of patriotism and of Lady Poverty.
If you will honour me with an answer, the delivery of the letters will be ensured by Mister D. Pagonidis and Peter Dimisovik, the address being the office of Brothers Robev and Sons in Bitola.
We, the poor monks from Skopje, of the Markov Monastery bearing the name of the holy martyr Demetrius, have heard of your generous hand which offers comfort and protection to the poor Bulgarians; in all humility and awe we bow to your charitable shadow…
We, as the simplest of men, will tell you briefly about our Monastery:
1. In 1844 it was burnt down by the fierce Albanians and the new building was reduced to ashes.
2. During the night they attacked the abbot, caught him and robbed him of all his money, down to the last coin.
3. They plundered church property, such as the chalice and the things which belong to it; they stole the priests' vestments and in the end, our dire need made us beg of your patriotic worship. We implore you to understand our anguish over our having become beggars...
We, who are forsaken and far away, we plead, we appeal and we raise our voices even to the skies. Give us... so that we will have church vestments and whatever... Go. .d wills! We pray to the holy martyr Demetrius, and you know that he does not hear our prayers. But appealing to God, we implore you for help! What are we asking for? Whatever you can do for us. Here we are, obedient, submissive, hi tears, injured, oppressed, and burdened with all kinds of tortures, and as Christians, we remain your most humble slaves.
With today's prayer we, your humble children, enquire after your present state of health and well-being, and we wish to tell you how four weeks ago a Russian patriot by the name of Mihail Georgevich1 passed through our town. He stayed with us a few days, and he urged us to collect funds for the school, so that all the poor children of the town and countryside could study there. We are, at present, all contributing to this righteous cause. The community, and each one of us, is helping according to his means. A certain sum has already been collected from the people from the district, and it is growing from day to day. And the Russian himself helped us as much as he could, and promised to get aid from elsewhere, too. And when the sum multiplies we shall pay the teacher's wages from the interest and the poor children will be able to study comfortably, etc...
And as we, your humble children, young and old alike, kneel before Your Holy Archiepiscopal person as representatives of our community, we beg of your Reverence and request that you, with your holy hand blessed by God, also help this enterprise, pleasing to God, and our community with whatever you deem necessary, with money or with things from some other schools... Now when your appointed archdeacon Andronicus came to collect the taxes, we showed him the school and asked him to help us, but he told us to write to your Reverence. You could tell him what you deem necessary to contribute to our community. We want to write to you, as a good pastor of the community, and we all believe that you will do this. In the end, we humbly kiss your right hand and remain your trustworthy humble spiritual children. And when you answer us - please write a letter to us and another to the archdeacon2.
… It is with particular joy and pleasure that we are witnessing how national feeling is awakening also in areas, in which up till now it has been deeply slumbering, wholly suppressed and stifled by an alien feeling. Thus, several months ago, the Bulgarian language was introduced into the school and churches in Koukoush. What else could this happy event be but an obvious sign that the inhabitants of Koukoush have been enlightened and have awakened, and have thus become aware of their initial delusion and of the false road which they have hitherto been following?
Until a short time ago, the citizens of Koukoush not only had never heard the word of God in their native tongue, but the poor creatures knew nothing in that language, and now all of them, both young and old, listen with an unquenchable thirst to the word of God in their mother tongue; and all who are able to do so, have started learning to read and write in Bulgarian, and not only the young people, but also those already well advanced in years. Up till then the priests in Koukoush had known how to read only in Greek, a language which was entirely alien and unfamiliar to them, and now they realize and perceive the deep chasm and abyss in which they had previously dwelt; now they realize how far they were from their high office and title; because, calling themselves teachers and mentors of the people, they were not only unable and incompetent to teach and advise the people on the great, redemptive Christian truths, as was their duty, but they themselves also hungered and thirsted after these truths. It was their duty to enlighten the others, but how could they give enlightenment to the others when they themselves lived in utter darkness? Oh, indeed, what an extremely woeful and deplorable state of affairs! A similarly sorrowful situation still prevails even today in all the following Macedonian dioceses, namely: Ohrid, Bitola, Kostur, Moglena, Voden.Stroumitsa, Polyanino, Melnik, Seres, Drama and a few more, where the inhabitants intermingle with Greeks. May God bless the citizens of Koukoush, who are in the midst of the above-mentioned dioceses, to serve as an example to them with their awakening and laudable strivings! And this will doubtless soon take place, providing that the zeal of the citizens of Koukoush does not cool, and Koukoush will then become the centre from which love for public education will spread like lightning in all directions. And Koukoush will then be honoured and glorified not only by the people of today, but by our most distant descendents as well. This good deed will be indelibly inscribed in the history of the nation. And conversely, everlasting reproach, shame and disgrace will fall on Ohrid, Bitola and the other major towns for their delay due to blindness and delusion.
Among the citizens of Koukoush Mr. Nako Stanishev1 is outstanding in his zeal. And no less immortal will be the names of the teacher Dimiter Miladinov and his assistant Xenophont2 for their devotion and zeal; they will be for ever remembered as the first propagators and disseminators of public education and enlightenment in this part of the country. The example of the citizens of Koukoush has already been followed, we gather, by their neighbours, the inhabitants of Polyanino3.Their honorable priest, the monk Clement, is very active over there. May God help him! His activity is indeed truly spiritual and soul-saving. May God grant us more such priests, who do not always have their eyes on the purse! We firmly believe that the citizens of Polyanino will also show the same zeal and unanimity concerning public education as their neighbours in Koukoush.
The Bishop of Polyanino (this is what they call the bishop of that diocese) was against the desire of the citizens of Koukoush to introduce the language of their forefathers into the schools and churches and told them that if they did not abandon 'this innovation', he would anathematize them, but they/ат from being afraid of such anathemas, gave him the following terse and very clever answer:
'Most holy Bishop, if we are introducing the Bulgarian language into our schools and churches, we considered that we are thereby doing not merely nothing bad, but on the contrary, something which is pleasing to God and beneficial to the soul; because the Bulgarian language is our mother tongue, the only one we speak correctly and perfectly, whereas, on the contrary, as far as the Greek language is concerned, we do not understand a word, and the word of God, as is undoubtedly clear to every sober-minded person, ought to be preached in a language which the congregation understands, otherwise the preaching could not be called a sermon. We see that the Divine Apostles, too, preached the Gospel to all peoples not in one language only, but to each people in their own language: to the Hebrews in Hebrew, to the Greeks in Greek, to the Romans in Roman, and so on, and it cannot be otherwise. And for what reason were the Holy Scriptures translated into all languages, if not so that each people would thus be able to hear in a language familiar to them God's Commandment and also the basic truths, on the knowledge or lack of knowledge on which their eternal redemption or condemnation and suffering depend? Then, again, for what reason, more than 1000 years ago, that is, immediately after the Bulgarians were converted to Christianity, were the Holy Scriptures translated into the Bulgarian language by Cyril and Methodius, with the consent and at the suggestion of the Church of Constantinople; was it
not so that the Bulgarian people, to which we belong, would thus be able to hear God's Commandment and His lofty, divine and redemptive truths, and to praise and glorify the Lord in their mother tongue? Our simplicity and delusion was die reason why hitherto we have acted unnaturally and against the law by totally avoiding the use of our native language in schools and in church. But you, Most Reverend Sir - being our spiritual father and shepherd, to whom our souls have been entrusted and for which one day you will have to answer before Christ the Shepherd and Commander - you should have already long ago corrected this error and delusion of ours, that is to say, you should have made us listen to reason and see that we ought to pray to God in our own language, which you yourself should have learned to speak correctly and perfectly in order to be able, hi accordance with your office, to teach and care for your spiritual flock. Whereas at present we are not able to understand you, neither are you able to understand us, and can you then consider yourself worthy of calling yourself our shepherd? That is why we beg you, Most Holy Bishop, if you will not take the pains and care to enlighten us and lead us along the right road in accordance with your calling, then at least do not stand in the way of our enlightening and educating ourselves both spiritually and intellectually, according to our ability and understanding.' It was with these words that the citizens of Koukoush shut the mouth of the bishop and he, willy-nilly, could say nothing, but evidently his heart was seething with rage and anger. May God teach him to be good! Amen!
My most reverend Father Superior of the Holy cenobitic monastery of Zograf, Antim, and the respected fathers dwelling with you.
It was with joy that I received your honoured letter of the 2nd of February, together with the liturgical books which you sent for the local church. I read it with excitement and thought of the worthy successors of our late forefathers, who brought these glorious heirlooms of Bulgarian antiquity out of the labyrinth and preserved them in a flourishing state against Greek frost; and moreover, patriotism, striving for good, and the gigantic reconstruction to improve the monastery of St George are living phenomena, worthy of respect and esteem, and it is the duty of our compatriot-historians to write /about all this/ with the pen of truth. It is from such priests-compatriots, who raise their spirits to the Almighty, respected in spirit and in truth, and who use their intelligence, that great gift of God to man, for every good deed which contributes to the welfare of their resurrected fellow-countrymen; it is from such spiritual fathers, I say, that our nation expects a return to its mother's milk and its moral awakening from the hibernating slumber of ignorance, into which it had sunk through Greek intrigues and wiles. And who could have expected that, not far from the gulf of Salonica (after the destruction of the Bulgarian patriarchate and of the Slavonic literature which fell victim to Hephaestus1, as a result of Greek intrigues), who could have ever hoped that, in the course of one year and a half, the Macedonian Bulgarians would be listening to the whole liturgy and divine service performed in their mother tongue? Could anyone have ever imagined that Bulgarian children in Macedonia and Moesia would be studying in the secondary schools and universities in Petrograd, Moscow, Kiev and Odessa? Thanks be to the powerful protector and defender of the whole of Orthodoxy throughout the globe!
Experiencing the sweetness of their mother's milk our fellow-countrymen in these places, like flowers in early spring in mountains still covered with light snow, are returning to life, with a spontaneous upsurge, in spite of being surrounded by the Greek poisonous snakes, pouring, like asps and cobras, their venom in this epoch mostly against the innocent and upright Bulgarians, loyal subjects of His Majesty the Sultan.
Oh, how I regret the indifference, the ignorance and Graecomania in Strumitsa! How well it would be, if in Strumitsa, using funds provided by some patriot, they could support there a Slav teacher to teach the young people their mother's milk.
The sly, but foolish monk, the Moldavian Wallachian yokel N/eophit/, teacher in the local school, proved clearly to be a viper lying in wait for innocent people under the blossoms and defiles the moral advance. Oh, how the respected fathers of the Monastery of Zograf suffered for years on end from his mean and sly Wallachian behaviour!
Unlike him however, the priest Clement of Zograf still enjoys general respect and esteem, and, for his appointment, all of us here must thank your high person and those around you, as you will see from the enclosed statement of the notables of Koukoush, in which they ask that he be promoted to the rank of archimandrite.
We, the undersigned, residents of the diocese of Polyanino (Doiran) with great reluctance and with a deep and inexpressible sense of embarrassment in our souls, are compelled to admit before the whole world that our East Orthodox Church has sunk into a lamentable state that is beyond description. And our sorrow and spiritual shock are all the greater because our words prove that the evil has got the better of our forbearance. Alas! Those who should be the light and the source of every Christian virtue, i.e. our first spiritual shepherds and church dignitaries, in other words our bishops and archbishops, are trampling upon the laws and the sacraments of our Church.
... Our people do not receive the least spiritual benefit from them, and, in fact, they suffer from them both materially and morally, and they are exposed to great temptation by watching their depraved and unmonastic way of life. Briefly, such bishops are a heavy burden and a sore wound to the Christian fold. And our Bulgarian people suffer especially from this depraved Greek clergy... One of the most notorious of these licentious and depraved priests is our former bishop Meletius... We complained to the Church on three occasions against this wolf in sheep's skin but no one paid any attention to our complaints...
Then, in order to preserve our faith whole and intact, as we received it from our forefathers, and to preserve ourselves from the dissipated and depraved Greek clergy, we have firmly decided to renounce them and to declare that we are ready to acknowledge His Holiness Pope Pius IX and his heirs to the Apostolic throne, as our religious superiors, under the following conditions:
2) We desire and consequently we implore Pope Pius IX to make no alterations in: our religious rites and customs (ceremonies, festivities and the holy service); in the administration of the sacraments; in the position of our priests and in the language used in our churches, which is the old Bulgarian or Slavonic.
4)... The archbishop and the clergy who will be at the head of our dioceses and parishes must all be Bulgarians.
5)... The Bulgarian language with its national letters and characteristics must be always the principal language and the basis for the education of the young people...
Thus we implore His Holiness Pope Pius IX to receive us into his fold and under his wing... May God grant this, that He may be praised by us and all the other Bulgarians!...
We, the humble Bulgarians who have signed this letter, citizens of the town of Strouga, Ohrid district, most gratefully received the following gifts sent to us by our dear mother /Russia/:
A. A few months ago Georgeto /Georgi/ Moustrev brought church books, a small set of 14 parts, but the service did not take place because the Right Reverend, the Bishop - our holy Yoaniki, had fallen ill. Now we gladly took them and carried them into our church, and the Gospel, the Apostles, the holy service and the prayers are being read with great emotion, and gradually the entire service will be held in the Slavonic language. We request with Slav daring that you graciously send us a large set of 28 parts, because ours is a town where church services are held every day, and the small set which we have received, we shall give to the village of Vishni. There is a priest from our town there who learned how to take the service in the Slavonic language, and he now gives blessings there. We also dare ask you for a support and a bell for our church as an eternal reminder.
B. A week ago we received the priests' vestments which were sent by the noble Grigori Paounchev from Ohrid. These were:
1. A set of vestments for the church, our house of the great martyr St Georgi, a chasuble, a stole, a belt, a set of sleeves and three holy shrouds.
2. A deacon's stole, a hymn book and a set of sleeves.
Honour and glory to God most high, who permitted us, humble children, to come closer to our mother who had forgotten us for a long time, and to regain our lost mother tongue, and so that God Almighty would enable us to taste our blessed mother's milk again. God grant! We are celebrating today, on the 25th day of the month of November, with prayers of the holy Clement, who, together with the venerable Nahum, followed Cyril and Methodius, our common Slavonic benefactors. And during this glorious celebration of St Clement, the priest wore the vestments that you had sent us. We celebrated and kissed the Gospel for the eternal glory of the Seven Saints, and secretly in holy secrecy, we mentioned the glorious names of our compatriots, Bulgarian benefactors. Blessed be the name of our Lord from now for ever and ever. Amen.2
(1812-1875), born in Elena, was one of the most
outstanding leaders of the church and national struggle. On April 3, 1860 at the solemn Easter
service at the Bulgarian Church in Constantinople, he omitted
the name of the Greek Patriarch, thus declaring the
independence of the Bulgarian Church
Since I know that three of the 12 places for Bulgarian pupils in Moscow are still vacant, I take the liberty of asking your patronage for Konstantin Ivanov Vezenkov, born in Kroushevo, Macedonia; I willingly take it upon myself to recommend him to Your Excellency because I've known him since the days he was attending the Bulgarian school in Constantinople. He was sent to Russia by the new Bulgarian Bishop Parteni, who not long ago put an end to the Uniate in Koukoush. It would be very kind of you if you were to enroll Vezenkov in a secondary school class corresponding to his level of knowledge, at the expense of the Moscow funds. This will greatly encourage Bishop Parteni to engage in useful activity in his new field in the Polyanino diocese.
Tonight I am leaving for Odessa because I want to catch the Saturday ship for Constantinople.
In entreating you for useful instructions and in recommending myself to the attention of Your Excellency, I remain with perfect respect and devotion, and have the honour to be Your obedient servant.
In thanking Your Excellency for the confidence which You so graciously showed me by enabling me to make the final decision as to where I should send the money which was first intended for the Bulgarian school in Koukoush, I consider it my duty to express the following considerations: we do not as yet know the number of the Koukoush townsfolk who have joined the Uniate, and what is more, we are justified in expecting favourable results in connection with the appointment, on our insistence, of the Bishop of Doiran (Polyana), the Archimandrite Parteni, born a Bulgarian, he has the best references from all our agents who know him.
On the basis of this I would like to propose that we should not, for some time, send the 2750 silver rubles intended for the Koukoush school until we receive exact information whether this school deserves such large-scale aid. If this piece of information proves to be unfavourable, we could try to send this money to a more useful and suitable place, asking for your permission in advance.1
actual fact by the
end of December the permission was granted for sending the above
to Koukoush (See ЦГАОР, ф. 1750,
ед. хр. 67,
It was with deep emotion that we received the gold-brocaded mantle you sent for the holy shrine of St Nahum through the respected Mr. Hristo Manchev. We laid it on the holy place where it was so much needed and sang a holy service in praise of God. Your name was mentioned with respect and gratitude in our prayers and it was entered in the sacred annals of the monastery, as an eternal memory of the donor.
Such a gift from one of our noblest compatriots to the Slav monastery of St Nahum inevitably evokes the most pleasant memories of our forefathers. For us it is no ordinary present, because it reminds us of the lost precious treasures of our once glorious and now impoverished fatherland. This sacred gift reminds each of our compatriots of the ancient Slav splendour and encourages every sensitive man to return to his own true mother and suck sweet mother's milk.
After your gift, from other compatriots, acting as benefactors of the whole Slav race, we received through Constantinople, several new vestments both for the priests and the church, and some Slavonic books and with these, on November 25, last year, when the holy memory of St Clement was commemorated, a brilliant, solemn service was conducted in the Metropolitan Church, and during the procession of the holy sacraments, the glorious names of the Slav benefactors were mentioned and one of the priests delivered a suitable short speech in Bulgarian.
To ensure the better realization of our good hopes, through the intercession of the Slav saints, Clement, Nahum, Cyril and Methodius, we have also appointed a teacher of our resurrected mother tongue to teach Bulgarian reading and calligraphy, and all our children are running to the school like lambs rushing to suck their mothers' milk.
1 Ivan Nikolaevich Denkoglu (1781-1861), born in the village of Balsha, Sofia district, a
supporter of Bulgarian education who gave material support to Bulgarian
Our news from Bitola, May 12, could not be more pleasant. The local Bulgarians have decided to establish a Bulgarian library club in the town. They proposed, accepted and signed the following agreement for its establishment:
‘We, the undersigned, vow to support the establishment and maintenance of a Bulgarian library club, which will be supplied with newspapers and magazines in Bulgarian and other European languages and which will have a book depository with different Bulgarian books and other journals in various European languages.
Note 1) He who contributes more than 500 piastres at the beginning will become a founder-member of the library club and will have the right to vote on library club affairs for life.
Note 2) He who pays 60 piastres a year will be an associate member and will have the right to vote on library club matters for one year only.
When the necessary funds have been collected, the regulations for the functioning of the Bulgarian library club will be drawn up.
This agreement was signed by the town authorities and it will soon be put into action. It is said that the most active person in the realization of this project is Mr. Р Dimkov Radev,1 who studied in Athens and Vienna. It is really amazing and highly commendable that this young man has not lost his patriotic feelings in a town where we have had cause to lament the conversion into Greeks of so many of our compatriots. As for the library club we forthwith give it our approval and would advise the people of Bitola to persist in this useful work.
1 Peter Dimkov Radev, born in Bitola,
active participant in the movements for a national church and for
Information about the celebration of St. Cyril and Methodius Day is arriving from everywhere. In Gabrovo, Yambol, Panagyurishte, Sopot, Veles and many other big towns there have been celebrations in honour and praise of all the Bulgarian enlighteners and men of letters. These celebrations show the deep feelings which the Bulgarians have for their nationality and their eagerness for education; these celebrations will open the way to the prosperity of the Bulgarian people and this year's celebration of St Cyril and Methodius Day -the 11th of May, will remain forever inscribed in golden letters in the history of Bulgaria, because it was on this day that the majority of the Bulgarian towns awoke and threw off the Phanariot domination. It is certain that in the future this holiday will be celebrated with ever greater solemnity.
Otherwise I could again inform you of fresh instances of the abuse of power on the part of the Phanariot bishops, who continue to rob while they can. Such are the complaints from the citizens of Bitola, Ohrid, Samokov and other places against their Greek bishops. The bishop of Ohrid, in particular, is simply intolerable. But, if God wills, this, too, will pass.
From Bulgaria. June 7th ... The Bulgarians in Adjar have also celebrated St Cyril and Methodius day. On Sunday, the 29th of May, the Bulgarians in Pirot omitted the name of the Phanariot bishop from the holy service and instead they mentioned the names of the Sultan and Bishop Ilarion in their prayers. All the Bulgarians are surprised that there is no similar news from Skopje, Vranya, Vidin and some other larger Bulgarian districts.
... From Bulgaria. June 10th ... The Bulgarians in Karnobat omitted the name of the Phanariot bishop from the holy service and the citizens of Kotel wrote to their 'beloved' bishop Veniamin, telling him to stop visiting them. We are informed from Bitola (Toli monastery) that the Bulgarians there have decided to establish a library club. Most active in the realization of this project is said to be Mr. Р Dimkov, who has studied in Athens and Vienna. It is really excellent and praiseworthy that he has not forgotten his nationality while studying in a town, where so many of our Bulgarians have been converted into Greeks ...
1 On the same question, it
is reported in a letter from Bulgaria dated June 17, that
the name of the Greek bishop was omitted in Sevlievo on June 5, and that the Bulgarians from Stip dispatched to
the Porte a petition
with many signatures against their Phanariot bishop and his outrageous
behaviour (Srpski Dnevnik, No. 52, July 3, 1860)
We have been requested to publish the following statement:
A priest, a Bulgarian, who acknowledges the Pope and not the Greek Patriarch as the Head of the Church, answers the abuses directed against him by the coadjutor of the Bishop of Bitola in the Greek church there before the whole congregation. As an Orthodox uniat, i.e. a man acknowledging the Pope, but observing the Eastern Orthodox rites, he has, for several months already in the French Church in Bitola, conducted the service in the Bulgarian language and manner, and has not allowed a single Sunday or a holiday to pass without his preaching a sermon to the people. The Bulgarians in Bitola do not attend any other church but that in which he reads the holy service and his sermons in their native language, so we are informed.
The Greek bishop, unwilling to lose his prestige in the town, thought that if he hurled vituperations and nonsense against that priest in church before the congregation the people would take heed. But this wretched Greek does not know, our letters say, that the eyes of the people are already opened and they are able to distinguish the truth from the lie, and the more the Greek bishop endeavours to sever the people from that priest, the more closely these people stick to that priest of the people.
That the intentions of this priest are good - and we sincerely wish him success in their realization - is clear from his answer to the Greek coadjutor. Let the readers read it and they will see that we are speaking the truth.
Mr. Editor of the Newspaper Bulgaria!
On Sunday, August 28th, the Greek coadjutor Stefan, at the instigation of his bishop Benedictus, took the liberty of abusing me in public, telling the people in church various lies and slanders against me - a true priest - and he went so far as to pronounce an anathema against all who would dare to attend my liturgy or listen to my sermon. First he said that I was not a priest, that I was a protestant, and that it was my aim to convert all Christians from the old creed to which all saints adhered. He also said that I had asked the Greek bishop to allow me to serve in the Greek Church but that he had refused. He blamed me for having no beard, and finally alleged that I used pomade.
To these nonsensical and outrageous slanders I feel obliged to answer: Brother Bulgarians! You must know and be quite sure that the anathemized Greeks are still misleading and deceiving you as they have been doing for 400 years. Do you not know that the Bulgarian people number 5,000,000, while the Greeks are only about 2,500,000? Or, in other words, the Bulgarians are twice as many as the Greeks. The whole world wonders how it is possible that a people such as ours could fall under a nation which is our inferior both hi numbers and strength. Secular history tells us that the Bulgarians defeated the Greeks on many occasions and that the Greeks paid them taxes for a considerable time. It will now be asked how the small Greek nation was able to subdue and trample underfoot a nation as glorious and great as the Bulgarian. It is easy to answer this question: the Bulgarian people has always been industrious and God-fearing; but the Greeks are cunning and in full agreement among themselves. The Greeks with their cunning, obstacles and snares have been able to catch in their net not only the Bulgarians but even the Russians, the Serbs and the Wallachians, as it will be clearly seen from the book I published in Vienna. The Greeks seceded Christians from the blessed church union with false arguments, in order to obtain for themselves power over the Church. And, after enticing the Christians under their religious domination, they began, by means of speculation in the name of religion, to assume some secular authority over the Christians as well, thus subordinating the Bulgarians to their yoke. This is why they have suppressed the Bulgarian liturgy, this is why they have burned Bulgarian books and other valuable written documents, this is why they have persecuted the Bulgarian schools, the Bulgarian Patriarchate, the Bulgarian bishops, priests and other Bulgarian clergy whom they have humiliated and rudely overthrown; and thus the Bulgarians lost their own liturgy and bishops, and, finally, might have lost their language, too, had not the people awoken and declared their nationality. The insatiable, avaricious and predatory Greek patriarchs intended to do the same with other nations as well, but these nations broke away from them.
The insatiable cupidity of the Greeks has always made them eager to fill their purses, and the wretched Bulgarians are to this very day enduring fines, dishonour, injustice and the bitter persecutions at the hands of the Greek bishops. The Greeks have forsaken and disgraced the Christian Law, they have violated and abandoned the sacred canons of the holy father and they are hourly committing numberless transgressions not only rejected by the sacred canons of the church but even anathemized as you will see below.
My Bulgarian brothers! All peoples hold their nationality dear, they labour and endeavour to educate themselves and enrich themselves with schools and sciences, therefore I think that, after 400 years of ignorance, you will also recognize your true creed and nationality and will not remain among the most wretched nations in the world. My aim is to awaken your national spirit, and then, after your eyes and ears are opened, to purge and cultivate your tongue. But until you have thrown off the accursed Greek yoke, until you have regenerated your national language - you must unite and together break away from the Phanariot Greeks, who are sucking your blood. Just as every bird sings and praises God in its own voice, so also you should praise God in your mother tongue, praise God with a liturgy in the Bulgarian language and listen to the words of God every Sunday and every holiday in Bulgarian, which you are not able to do in the Greek churches. Christ, our Saviour, sent the Holy Ghost to the Apostles in order to teach them to speak all languages and to enable them to teach all people how to praise God in their own language. The Bulgarian people, while they had their liturgy in their own language and their own Patriarchate, were famous and glorious, but ever since the Greeks brought you under their yoke, you have lost your former glory, and Europe has completely forgotten you. Therefore you must shake off this rust and look with the eyes of the spirit. Listen to my voice, listen to me, because I have come among you to lead you along the happy road to salvation. But, brothers, you have to unite and break away from your enemy, and then your kind, merciful and just king - Abdul Medjid will heed your voice and grant your request, because he knows that you have always been his loyal subjects. Come to me, my Bulgarian children and brothers, and listen to me, because I shall teach you the true faith...
1A teacher in the Catholic school in
The undersigned Bulgarians, most loyal subjects of Your Imperial Majesty, kneeling at the foot of Your throne, meekly submit this humble petition:
Owing to the long-standing oppression of our people by the Greek clergy, who have unlawfully usurped our church hierarchy, your slaves, the Bulgarians, in many places have sent your honoured Government petitions for the re-establishment of out forgotten church hierarchy, but our enemies, wishing to prevent the realization of our just desire constantly conspire and assert that this movement is the private work of a few individual Bulgarians only. Since the interests of the people from different parts of the country have gathered us here, and since we are fully convinced of the constant endeavours of Your Majesty to ensure the prosperity and welfare of all your subjects living within your god-loving Empire, and of your daily mercy to us, your loyal subjects, we venture to declare in our humble petition to Your Imperial Majesty that the re-establishment of our usurped church hierarchy is the unanimous desire of all Bulgarians, the loyal subjects of Your Imperial Majesty, and we humbly petition Your Majesty for the re-establishment and recognition by our highly esteemed Government of our church hierarchy under the religious leadership of the head of our Bulgarian church in Constantinople Ilarion. We further wish to inform Your Imperial Majesty that we, your slaves, have renounced the Greek Patriarchate and no longer recognize the bishops, forcibly imposed on dioceses inhabited by Bulgarians. We want the head of our church to be a Bulgarian and we want our dioceses to be given Bulgarian bishops, elected by the people, according to the laws of our church, because they are of our nationality and know our language, and because we don't like Greek bishops.
This was and still is the desire of all your Bulgarian subjects and we shall not stop imploring your royal mercy, until our desire is granted, and, relying on the magnanimity of Your Imperial Majesty, we hope that our request will granted, and with uplifted hands we pray God for the health and long life of Your Imperial Majesty, and for the strengthening of Your Imperial throne, for the preservation of which we are ready to shed the last drop of our blood, we remain forever devoted to your paternal royal mercy, and we are glad to call ourselves:
The most loyal slaves of Your Imperial Majesty:
Here in Ohrid Slavonic studies were for a very long time extinguished. But for 2 years now we have begun to study Bulgarian. And praise be to God, the students are advancing very well in everything, in their studies and in their writing, but more so in writing. We are very proud of their good writing in Bulgarian and we hope it will be still better in the future. We are very glad to have our Bulgarian school and since God has given us such a good priest as Apostol Sokol from Koshishta, all the poor people rejoice because he opened a second Bulgarian school here. We have two Bulgarian schools now and the students are getting on with their studies very well, only we stand in great need of books since we have very few of them and sometimes ten students have to study from the same prayer-book and the same is true of other books here in Ohrid. All our Bulgarian brothers here support the Bulgarian school because they have seen that their children are advancing steadily, and in these last two years of studies in their native language they have learned as much as they do in ten years study in Greek.
We now pray that with God's help, things are going to improve further. And only in Mesocastro the priest Stefan Giurche is loudly crying against the Bulgarians in the church, but even so, he will give up very soon, because he himself is a Bulgarian, and a teacher for so many years now, and this is the reason why he is able to scold us. But in a short time we shall have our own children as teachers, so the priest Stefan will remain without this job, and he doesn't like it. And we have begun to sing in Bulgarian in our churches and our hearts melt with joy when we hear our own language there. Formerly, if we didn't say 'kirie elleison'1 in church, we were sure to have great troubles. Now we shout: 'Lord have mercy upon us' at the tops of our voices, and even the little children sing together with us. At present we have no bishop here in Ohrid, or rather there is one, but he stays in Kroushevo now. Formerly he was a coadjutor to the bishop here and for ten years served faithfully Bishop Dionissius, who made him bishop in Kroushevo. But soon after, he was sent to Bosnia, while Dionissius went to Kyustendil. We had another metropolitan - Mr. Yoanikius who came from Elbasan, but he died soon afterwards and his place was taken by Mr. Milenti, who came from Bosnia. But the latter, when he was coadjutor, didn't know what the poor folk should do, and when he visited us on Easter, no one showed him any respect, and for this reason he is staying in Kroushevo now. We told him to mind his business there, because we wanted a Bulgarian as a metropolitan and not a Greek. He told us that he also knew the Slav language and that he was ready to use Bulgarian in church. But we told him we were expecting Ilarion and not him, and that many Greeks had sucked our blood and that we no longer wanted Greek bishops. So he is now staying in Kroushevo and let you /Ilarion Makariopolski - editor's note/ come from there to Ohrid.
1 i.e. 'Lord have mercy' in Greek
Some weeks ago I received two copies of the first issue of your newspaper, and five days ago I received the other issues up to the fifth.
I did not write to you earlier because I had been very busy. Now it is my pleasure to answer you.
I am very sorry that I cannot rejoice you with new subscribers, but I hope to enroll the Holy Archbishop of Polyana (Doyran) as a subscriber. Today I shall send the issues to Koukoush. Later I might be able to enroll some one else.
I feel great sorrow that, although I am a Bulgarian, I do not know how to write in the Bulgarian language. I have been living in this city /Salonica/ for 10 years now, and I have a press where I publish all the Greek books introduced in the schools, but I helped, as was proper, the Bulgarians in Koukoush who wanted to have a Bulgarian bishop - Partenius. The Greeks, especially the notables, together with the Metropolitan of Salonica and Voden, made representations to the Pasha /the district governor/, and six months ago they closed my press. And now I have only my bookshop. The question was referred to the Ministry in Constantinople. I have friends there, but there are also people who are against me. The result is not yet known to me. The Greeks, of course, backed up by the clergy and the authorities, strongly attacked the Bulgarians, though the latter are acting within their rights, voicing their desire to develop and make progress in their mother tongue. Even though I have no /written/, command of this language, I have always spoken in favour of its dissemination among the Bulgarians. The teaching of Bulgarian greatly helps the studying of Greek. Even if I were a Greek, I would have maintained this. However, few people are not biased, and that is why we are considered the ones to blame.
On his return from Moscow in August Georgi Dinkov passed through our town. Perhaps you met him. He is my nephew, that is, the son of my brother Konstantin Dinkata. With my assistance he was sent to Russia two years ago. He entered a school (seminary) in Smolensk, where he is studying on a state grant.
There is nothing new here I can write to you about, except the persecution and torture of Christians. The civil authorities and the clergy, with a few exceptions, are all occupied solely with looting and plundering. No care is taken to improve the Christians' lot. In vain the Europeans shout, in vain the ministers write, in vain the journalists publish news of robberies and murders — the Turks remain indifferent. I have no time to write to you in greater detail.
It is an especially pleasant obligation for me to express to you my sincere and heartfelt gratitude for your present, precious and dear to my heart, which you were kind enough to send me - the book entitled Folk Songs of the Macedonian Bulgarians. This is the most gratifying way of reminding me of the pleasure of having made your acquaintance in Constantinople in 1851 which I have never forgotten. Thank you for your present from the bottom of my purely Slav heart.
Your collection of Bulgarian songs is of great importance at the present time, when our literary language has not yet been finally established, and every writer is twisting it and correcting at will. I maintain that in Macedonia, that is, round Bitola, Ohrid and Veles, one can find Bulgarian songs and tales in a language that is even purer. No doubt, the Bulgarians living now in Macedonia are the true heirs to those Slavs for whom St St Cyril and Methodius translated the Holy Scriptures.
Once again I extend my gratitude to you. I am at your service and I shall do anything I can for you.
The rumour of your true patriotism and of your constant endeavours to assist the progress of our people, which has spread through the air, which has reached the high mountains, deep valleys .and green fields all over Bulgaria, has also come to our once glorious town of Ohrid (Prima Justiniana), and it has at last reached our ears for which we offer thanks to God most high. We rejoice with inexpressible Bulgarian feelings of happiness. We have had the honour, in the days of our most magnanimous and merciful Sovereign, Sultan A (bdul) M(edcid), of seeing such magnanimous and truly wise men who are trying to awake our people that are sunk in deep sleep. God grant!
With the present letter I also have the honour to introduce myself to your honorable person. I am happy to be a Bulgarian, a citizen of the town of Ohrid, living in the Varosh - the central part of Ohrid, surrounded by a fortress wall and consisting of seven streets, containing the bishopric, the church and the holy relics of St Clement, the archbishop of Ohrid, and other antiquities. And so I was appointed teacher in the Varosh schools, teaching Greek and knowing a little of our own tongue. Two or three years ago, when I was in Strouga, a little town near Ohrid, I introduced our language in the local school and in the church services for the first time, and now the children study both Greek and Bulgarian, and church services are held only in the Slavonic language. Later, occupying a teaching post in our schools, I tried to introduce our own tongue into them too, and we have made several attempts, but I could not introduce it wholly. The Phanariots have acquired a very great influence through intrigues and slander. They are aided in this by a certain priest Stefan Byurchev, a former teacher of Greek in the Mesokastro school, and a rabid Hellenist, for which he was expelled from the school, a regular Phanariot.
For two years I have been engaged in collecting some folk songs, of which I have up till now collected a hundred and more. I want to publish them, but, not having the means, I keep them under lock and key. There are all sorts of songs among them, but mainly women's songs. First, all the songs which are sung in our town, especially in the Varosh, with descriptions of all the customs, the way they are performed and what songs are sung on every single occasion, etc. Last year on March the 25th, at a poetry competition held in Athens, the prize went to a poem called 'The Sirdar.' Its author was a compatriot of ours by the name of Grigor Krustovich Purlichev,1 who signs himself G. Stavridis. His poem was based on the heroic deeds of one of our fellow-countrymen, called Kouzman Kabidana. I have also written down how this song is sung, together with some notes about his poem 'The Sirdar,' notes which will be of use to our people.
If it is possible and convenient for you, let me know in some way if someone could finance their publication, and send 60 copies to me, so that I could distribute them here. If it is possible, please let me know in March, when our fellow townsmen will go there, so that I can send the songs to you through Yannet A. Chapakov or someone else. After which I hope to collect some more of the same type, or heroic songs, which are not sung here in the town, but are very popular in the villages, where I shall collect them.
You had asked one of our fellow townsmen, Mr. Yovancho Georshevik Belev, to collect folk songs. He is a sincere and hardworking man, but this is no job for him.
Please write to me about any subject which concerns our lands, and I will do my best to write to you about it.
I shall ask you something else, too, if possible. We rejoice in the progress of our people, but we have no way of learning about it. It your honourable person could oblige us, please send us an issue of Dounavski Lebed - we call it 'labed' (Danubian Swan) to the following address: 'Ohrid, the Varosh school, for the teacher Kouzman Anastassov Paskhalov.'
It is on purpose that I am writing to you in our dialect, so that you can learn how we speak here, which you will also see in the songs. With apologies for being a nuisance, I have the honour to cherish the deepest veneration for your patriotic Worship.
1 Stanishev was, in fact,
born in Koukoush, not