Against only one class of offender does Prince Nicolas exercise his autocratic powers, i.e. the political offender, with whom he is relentless. Such men are thrown into prison, interred in dark cells without trial, and can languish till death sets them free. In this respect the Prince is harsh, and according to Western ideas barbaric, though local circumstances fully excuse his seeming cruelty. The smallness of the prison at Podgorica shows more forcibly than anything else the remarkable lack of crime in the land. At present (1902) dangerous lunatics are confined in the common prison, but an asylum is rapidly nearing completion.
The government is autocratic. A senate, composed of the different ministers, exists in Cetinje, but all powers are jealously held by the Prince. He appoints the ministers and all the higher officials of the land, and only recently have the people been granted the right to elect the kmets.
Montenegrin engineers now build the roads in place of Austrians and Russians, and the difficulties that they meet with and surpass at every turn are sufficient evidence of their capabilities. Foreign doctors and professors are yearly becoming more rare. In fact, Montenegro is rapidly becoming self-supporting and self-educating.
Literature, always in olden times in advance of the surrounding lands, is fostered by the Prince, himself a scholar and a poet of no mean order. Two weekly papers in Cetinje and Niksic have a large circulation.
Under Prince Nicolas’ fatherly care the country improves in a wonderful manner from year to year. Roads are planned to connect the whole land, which only lack of funds are hindering from completion, and a railway is projected to connect the towns of Niksic, Podgorica, and Rijeka with Antivari and the sea.
When Prince Nicolas shall be called to his fathers his son, Prince Danilo, will worthily carry on the work so nobly begun by his father, for he is a man imbued with the ideas of Western improvements and civilisation.
The journey to Montenegro—Arrival in Cattaro—Beauty of the Bocche, and the drive to the frontier—First impressions of Montenegro—Njegusi—The national troubadours—Arrival in Cetinje.
The simplest way of entering the Land of the Black Mountain is via Cattaro in Dalmatia. The sea-trip from Trieste, which takes a little over twenty-four hours, is a revelation of beauty, for the Dalmatian coast is sadly unknown to the traveller. The journey can also be made from Fiume, whence the “Ungaro-Croata” send a good and very frequent service of steamers. But the idler should take a slow boat and coast lazily down the Dalmatian archipelago, visiting all the smaller towns and islands, which the fast line is bound to avoid. It is one of the most beautiful sea-trips in Europe, each little port possessing gems of old Roman and Venetian architecture, unrivalled, perhaps, in the world and set in a perfect framework of lovely country and dancing seascape.