Travels in Morocco, Vol. 2.
Part 3 out of 3
several attempts, appeared to succeed in bringing off his stomach
something in the shape of leaden bullets, which he then, with an air of
holy swagger, presented to the astonished guard of the Bey. The dervish
next spat on his patient's hands, closed them in his own, then smoothed
him down the back like a mountebank smooths his pony, and stroked also
his head and beard; and, after further gentle and comely ceremonies of
this sort, the charming of the charmer finished, and the Boab presented
the holy man with his fee. We dined at the Kaed's house; this
functionary was a very venerable man, a perfect picture of a patriarch
of the olden Scriptural times of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. There was
not a single article of furniture in the room, except a humble sofa,
upon which he sat.
We inspected the old Kasbah at Ghafsa, which is in nearly a state of
ruin, and looked as if it would soon be down about our ears. It is an
irregular square, and built chiefly of the remains of ancient edifices.
It was guarded by fifty Turks, whose broken-down appearance was in
perfect harmony with the citadel they inhabited. The square in a
building is the favourite form of the Moors and Mohammedans generally;
the Kaaba of Mecca, the _sanctum sanctorum_, is a square. The Moors
endeavour to imitate the sacred objects of their religion in every way,
even in the commonest affairs of human existence, whilst likewise their
troops of wives and concubines are only an earthly foretaste and an
earnest of the celestial ladies they expect to meet hereafter.
We saw them making oil, which was in a very primitive fashion. The
oil-makers were nearly all women. The olives were first ground between
stones worked by the hands, until they became of the consistence of
paste, which was then taken down to the stream and put into a wooden tub
with water. On being stirred up, the oil rises to the top, which they
skim off with their hands and put into skins or jars; when thus skimmed,
they pass the grounds or refuse through a sieve, the water running off;
the stones and pulp are then saved for firing. But in this way much of
the oil is lost, as may be seen by the greasy surface of the water below
where this rude process is going on. Among the oil-women, we noticed a
girl who would have been very pretty and fascinating had she washed
herself instead of the olives. We entered an Arab house inhabited by
some twenty persons, chiefly women, who forthwith unceremoniously took
off our caps, examined very minutely all our clothes with an excited
curiosity, laughed heartily when we put our hands in our pockets, and
wished to do the same, and then pulled our hair, looking under our faces
with amorous glances. On the hill overlooking the town, we also met two
women screaming frightfully and tearing their faces; we learned that one
of them had lost her child. The women make the best blankets here with
handlooms, and do the principal heavy work.
We saw some hobaras, also a bird called getah, smaller than a partridge,
something like a ptarmigan, with its summer feathers, and head shaped
like a quail. The Bey sent two live ones to R., besides a couple of
large jerboahs of this part, called here, _gundy_. They are much like
the guinea-pig, but of a sandy colour, and very soft and fine, like a
young hare. The jerboahs in the neighbourhood of Tunis are certainly
more like the rat. The other day, near the south-west gates, we fell in
with a whole colony of them--which, however, were the lesser animal, or
Jerd species--who occupied an entire eminence to themselves, the
sovereignty of which seemed to have been conceded to them by the Bey of
Tunis. They looked upon us as intruders, and came very near to us, as if
asking us why we had the audacity to disturb the tranquillity of their
republic. The ground here in many places was covered with a substance
like the rime of a frosty morning; it tastes like salt, and from it they
get nitre. Captain B. thinks it was salt. The water which we drank was
brought from Ghafsa: the Bey drinks water brought from Tunis. We marched
across a vast plain, covered with the salt just mentioned, which was
congealed in shining heaps around bushes or tufts of grass, and among
which also scampered a few hares. We encamped at a place called
Ghorbatah. Close to the camp was a small shallow stream, on each side of
which grew many canes; we bathed in the stream, and felt much refreshed.
The evening was pleasantly cool, like a summer evening in England, and
reminded us of the dear land of our birth. Numerous plains in North
Africa are covered with saline and nitrous efflorescence; to the
presence of these minerals is owing the inexhaustible fertility of the
soil, which hardly ever receives any manure, only a little stubble being
We saw flights of the getah, and of another bird called the gedur,
nearly the same, but rather lighter in colour. When they rise from the
ground, they make a curious noise, something like a partridge. We were
unusually surprised by a flight of locusts, not unlike grasshoppers, of
about two inches long, and of a reddish colour. Saw also gazelles.
Halted by the dry bed of a river, called Furfouwy. A pool supplied the
camp: in the mountains, at a distance, there was, however, a delicious
spring, a stream of liquid pearls in these thirsty lands! A bird called
mokha appeared now and then; it is about the size of a nightingale, and
of a white light-brown colour. We seldom heard such sweet notes as this
bird possesses. Its flying is beautifully novel and curious; it runs on
the ground, and now and then stops and rises about fifteen feet from the
surface, giving, as it ascends, two or three short slow whistles, when
it opens its graceful tail and darts down to the ground, uttering
another series of melodious whistles, but much quicker than when it
We continued our march over nearly the same sort of country, but all was
now flat as far as the eye could see, the hills being left behind us.
About eight miles from Furfouwy, we came to a large patch of date-trees,
watered by many springs, but all of them hot. Under the grateful shade
of the lofty palm were flowers and fruits in commingled sweetness and
beauty. Here was the village of Dra-el-Hammah, surrounded, like all the
towns of the Jereed, with date-groves and gardens. The houses were most
humbly built of mud and bricks. After a scorching march, we encamped
just beyond, having made only ten miles. Saw quantities of bright soft
spar, called talc. Here also the ground was covered with a saline
effloresence. Near us were put up about a dozen blue cranes, the only
birds seen to-day. A gazelle was caught, and others chased. We
particularly observed huge patches of ground covered with salt, which,
at a distance, appeared just like water.
Toser.--The Bey's Palace.--Blue Doves.--The town described.--Industry
of the People.--Sheikh Tahid imprisoned and punished.--Leghorn.--The
Boo-habeeba.--A Domestic Picture.--The Bey's Diversions.--The Bastinado.--
Concealed Treasure.--Nefta.--The Two Saints.--Departure of Santa Maria.--
Snake-charmers.--Wedyen.--Deer Stalking.--Splendid view of the Sahara.--
Revolting Acts.--Qhortabah.--Ghafsa.--Byrlafee.--Mortality among the
Camels--Aqueduct.--Remains of Udina.--Arrival at Tunis.--The Boab's
Wives.--Curiosities.--Tribute Collected.--Author takes leave of the
Governor of Mogador, and embarks for England.--Rough Weather.--Arrival
Leaving Dra-el-Hammah, after a hot march of five or six miles, we
arrived at the top of a rising ground, at the base of which was situate
the famous Toser, the head-quarters of the camp in the Jereed, and as
far as it goes. Behind the city was a forest of date-trees, and beyond
these and all around, as far as the eye could wander, was an
immeasurable waste--an ocean of sand--a great part of which we could
have sworn was water, unless told to the contrary. We were met, before
entering Toser, with some five or six hundred Arabs, who galloped before
the Bey, and fired as usual. The people stared at us Christians with
open mouths; our dress apparently astonished them. At Toser, the Bey
left his tent and entered his palace, so called in courtesy to his
Highness, but a large barn of a house, without any pretensions. We had
also a room allotted to us in this palace, which was the best to be
found in the town, though a small dark affair. Toser is a miserable
assemblage of mud and brick huts, of very small dimensions, the beams
and the doors being all of date-wood. The gardens, however, under the
date-trees are beautiful, and abundantly watered with copious streams,
all of which are warm, and in one of which we bathed ourselves and felt
new vigour run through our veins. We took a walk in the gardens, and
were surprised at the quantities of doves fluttering among the
date-trees; they were the common blue or Barbary doves. In the environs
of Mogador, these doves are the principal birds shot.
Toser, or Touzer, the _Tisurus_ of ancient geography, is a considerable
town of about six thousand souls, with several villages in its
The impression of Toser made upon our tourists agrees with that of the
traveller, Desfontaines, who writes of it in 1784:--"The Bey pitched his
tent on the right side of the city, if such can be called a mass of
_mud-houses_." The description corresponds also with that of Dr. Shaw,
who says that "the villages of the Jereed are built of mud-walls and
rafters of palm-trees." Evidently, however, some improvement has been
made of late years. The Arabs of Toser, on the contrary, and which very
natural, protested to the French scientific commission that Toser was
the finest city in El-Jereed. They pretend that it has an area as large
as Algiers, surrounded with a mud wall, twelve or fifteen feet high, and
crenated. In the centre is a vast open space, which serves for a
market-place. Toser has mosques, schools, Moorish baths--a luxury rare
on the confines of the Desert, fondouks or inns, &c. The houses have
flat terraces, and are generally well-constructed, the greater part
built from the ruins of a Roman town; but many are now dilapidated from
the common superstitious cause of not repairing or rebuilding old
houses. The choice material for building is brick, mostly unbaked or
Most of these houses stand detached.
Toser, situate in a plain, is commanded from the north-west by a little
rocky mountain, whence an abundant spring takes its source, called
_Meshra_, running along the walls of the city southward, divides itself
afterwards in three branches, waters the gardens, and, after having
irrigated the plantations of several other villages, loses itself in the
sand at a short distance. The wells within the city of Toser are
insufficient for the consumption of the inhabitants, who fetch water
from Wad Meshra. The neighbouring villages are Belad-el-Ader, Zin,
Abbus; and the sacred villages are Zaouweeat, of Tounseea, Sidi Ali Bou
Lifu, and Taliraouee. The Arabs of the open country, and who deposit
their grain in and trade with these villages, are Oulad Sidi Sheikh,
Oulad Sidi Abeed, and Hammania. The dates of Toser are esteemed of the
Walked about the town; several of the inhabitants are very wealthy. The
dead saints are, however, here, and perhaps everywhere else in Tunis,
more decently lodged, and their marabets are real "whitewashed
sepulchres." They make many burnouses at Toser, and every house presents
the industrious sight of the needle or shuttle quickly moving. We tasted
the leghma, or "tears of the date," for the first time, and rather liked
it. On going to shoot doves, we, to our astonishment, put up a snipe.
The weather was very hot; went to shoot doves in the cool of the
evening. The Bey administers justice, morning and evening, whilst in the
Jereed. An Arab made a present of a fine young ostrich to the Bey, which
his Highness, after his arrival in Tunis, sent to R. The great man here
is the Sheikh Tahid, who was imprisoned for not having the tribute ready
for the Bey. The tax imposed is equivalent to two bunches for each
date-tree. The Sheikh has to collect them, paying a certain yearly sum
when the Bey arrives, a species of farming-out. It was said that he is
very rich, and could well find the money. The dates are almost the only
food here, and the streets are literally gravelled with their stones.
Santa Maria again returned his horse to the Bey, and got another in its
stead. He is certainly a man of _delicate_ feeling. This gentleman
carried his impudence so far that he even threatened some of the Bey's
officers with the supreme wrath of the French Government, unless they
attended better to his orders. A new Sheikh was installed, a good thing
for the Bey's officers, as many of them got presents on the occasion.
We blessed our stars that a roof was over our heads to shield us from
the burning sun. We blew an ostrich-egg, had the contents cooked, and
found it very good eating. They are sold for fourpence each, and it is
pretended that one makes an ample meal for twelve persons. We are
supplied with leghma every morning; it tastes not unlike cocoa-nut milk,
but with more body and flavour. R. very unwell, attributed it to his
taking copious draughts of the leghma. Rode out of an evening; there was
a large encampment of Arabs outside the town, thoroughly sun-burnt,
hardy-looking fellows, some of them as black as negroes. Many people in
Toser have sore eyes, and several with the loss of one eye, or nearly
so; opthalmia, indeed, is the most prevalent disease in all Barbary. The
neighbourhood of the Desert, where the greater part of the year the air
is filled with hot particles of sand, is very unfavourable to the sight;
the dazzling whiteness of the whitewashed houses also greatly injures
the eyes. But the Moors pretend that lime-washing is necessary to the
preservation of the houses from the weather, as well as from filth of
all sorts. We think really it is useful, by preventing dirty people in
many cases from being eaten up by their own filth and vermin,
particularly the Jews, the Tunisian Jews being the dirtiest persons in
the Regency. The lime-wash is the grand _sanitary_ instrument in North
There are little birds that frequent the houses, that might be called
Jereed sparrows, and which the Arabs name boo-habeeba, or "friend of my
father;" but their dress and language are very different, having reddish
breasts, being of a small size, and singing prettily. Shaw mentions them
under the name of the Capsa-sparrow, but he is quite wrong in making
them as large as the common house-sparrow. He adds: "It is all over of a
lark-colour, excepting the breast, which is somewhat lighter, and
shineth like that of a pigeon. The boo-habeeba has a note infinitely
preferable to that of the canary, or nightingale." He says that all
attempts to preserve them alive out of the districts of the Jereed have
failed. R. has brought several home from that country, which were alive
whilst I was in Tunis. There are also many at the Bardo in cages, that
live in this way as long as other birds.
Went to see the houses of the inhabitants: they were nearly all the
same, the furniture consisting of a burnouse-loom, a couple of
millstones, and a quantity of basins, plates, and dishes, hung upon the
walls for effect, seldom being used; there were also some skins of
grain. The beams across the rooms, which are very high, are hung with
onions, dates, and pomegranates; the houses are nearly all of one story.
Some of the women are pretty, with large long black eyes and lashes;
they colour the lower lid black, which does not add to their beauty,
though it shows the bewitching orb more fully and boldly. They were
exceedingly dirty and ragged, wearing, nevertheless, a profusion of
ear-rings, armlets, anclets, bracelets, and all sorts of _lets_, with a
thousand talismanic charms hanging from their necks upon their ample
bosoms, which latter, from the habit of not wearing stays, reach as low
down as their waists. They wrap up the children in swaddling-clothes,
and carry them behind their backs when they go out.
Two men were bastinadoed for stealing a horse, and not telling where
they put him; every morning they were to be flogged until they divulged
A man brought in about a foot of horse's skin, on which was the Bey's
mark, for which he received another horse. This is always done when any
animal dies belonging to the Beys, the man in whose hands the animal is,
receiving a new one on producing the part of the skin marked. The Bey
and his ministers and mamelukes amused themselves with shooting at a
mark. The Bey made some good hits.
The Bey and his mamelukes also took diversion in spoiling the appearance
of a very nice young horse; they daubed hieroglyphics upon his shoulders
and loins, and dyed the back where the saddle is placed, and the three
legs below the knee with henna, making the other leg look as white as
possible. Another grey horse, a very fine one, was also cribbed. We may
remark here, that there were very few fine horses to be met with, all
the animals looking poor and miserable, whilst these few fine ones fell
into the hands of the Bey. It is probable, however, that the Arabs kept
their best and most beautiful horses out of the way, while the camp was
moving among them.
The old Sheikh still continued in prison. The bastinadoes with which he
had been treated were inflicted on his bare person, cold water being
applied thereto, which made the punishment more severe. After receiving
one hundred, he said he would shew his hiding-place; and some people
being sent with him, dug a hole where he pointed out, but without coming
to anything. This was done several times, but with the same effect. He
was then locked up in chains till the following morning. Millions of
dollars lie buried by the Arabs at this moment in different parts of
Barbary, especially in Morocco, perhaps the half of which will never be
found, the owners of them having died before they could point out their
hoarded treasures to their relatives, as but a single person is usually
in the secret. Money is in this way buried by tribes, who have nothing
whatever to fear from their sovereigns and their sheikhs; they do it
from immemorial custom. It is for this reason the Arabs consider that
under all ancient ruins heaps of money are buried, placed there by men
or demons, who hold the shining hoards under their invincible spell.
They cannot comprehend how European tourists can undertake such long
journeys, merely for the purpose of examining old heaps of stones, and
making plans and pictures of such rubbish. When any person attempts to
convince the Arabs that this is the sole object, they only laugh with
Went to Nefta, a ride of about fourteen miles, lying somewhat nearer the
Sahara than Toser. The country on the right was undulating sand, on the
left an apparently boundless ocean, where lies, as a vast sheet of
liquid fire, when the sun shines on it, the now long celebrated Palus
Libya. In this so-called lake no water is visible, except a small marsh
like the one near Toser, where we went duck-shooting. Our party was very
respectable, consisting of the Agha of the Arabs, two or three of the
Bey's mamelukes, the Kaed of the Jereed, whose name is Braun, and fifty
or sixty Arab guards, besides ourselves. On entering Nefta, the escort
immediately entered, according to custom, a marabet (that of Sidi Bou
Aly), Captain B. and R. meanwhile standing outside.
There were two famous saints here, one of whom was a hundred years of
age. The other, Sidi Mustapha Azouz, had the character of being a very
clever and good man, which also his intelligent and benevolent
appearance betokened, and not a fanatic, like Amour Abeda of Kairwan.
There were at the time of our visit to him about two hundred people in
his courtyard, who all subsisted on his charities. We were offered
dates, kouskousou,  and a seed which they call sgougou, and which
has the appearance of dried apple-seed. The Arabs eat it with honey,
first dipping their fingers into the honey, and then into the seed,
which deliciously sticks to the honey. The Sheikh's saint also
distributed beads and rosaries. He gave R. a bag of sgougou-seed, as
well as some beads. These two Sheikhs are objects of most religious
veneration amongst all true believers, and there is nothing which would
not be done at their bidding.
Nefta, the Negeta of the ancients, is the frontier town of the Tunisian
territories from the south, being five days' journey, or about
thirty-five or forty leagues from the oases of Souf, and fifteen days'
from Ghadumes. Nefta is not so much a town as an agglomeration of
villages, separated from one another by gardens, and occupying an extent
of surface twice the size that of the city of Algiers. These villages
are Hal Guema, Mesaba, Zebda Ouled, Sherif, Beni Zeid, Beni Ali, Sherfa,
and Zaouweeah Sidi Ahmed.
The position of Nefta and its environs is very picturesque. Water is
here abundant. The principal source, which, under the name of Wad Nefta,
takes its rise at the north of the city, in the midst of a movement of
earth, enters the villages of Sherfa and Sidi Ahmed; divides them in
two, and fecundates its gardens planted with orange-trees, pomegranates,
and fig-trees. The same spring, by the means of ducts of earth, waters a
forest of date-trees which extends some leagues. A regulator of the
water (kaed-el-ma) distributes it to each proprietor of the plantation.
The houses of Nefta are built generally of brick; some with taste and
luxury; the interior is ornamented with Dutch tiles brought from Tunis.
Each quarter has its mosque and school, and in the centre of the group
of villages is a place called Rebot, on the banks of Wad Nefta, which
serves for a common market. Here are quarters specially devoted to the
aristocratic landed proprietors, and others to the busy merchants. The
Shereefs are the genuine nobles, or seigneurs of Nefta, from among whom
the Bey is wont to choose the Governors of the city. The complexion of
the population is dark, from its alliance with Negress slaves, like most
towns advanced in the Desert. The manners of the people are pure. They
are strict observers of the law, and very hospitable to strangers.
Captain B., however, thought that, had he not been under the protection
of the Bey, his head would not have been worth much in these districts.
Every traveller almost forms a different opinion, and frequently the
very opposite estimate, respecting the strangers amongst whom he is
sojourning. A few Jewish artizans have always been tolerated here, on
condition of wearing a black handkerchief round their heads, and not
mount a horse, &c. Recently the Bey, however, by solemn decrees, has
placed the Jews exactly on the same footing of rights and privileges as
the rest of his subjects.
Nefta is the intermediate _entrepot_ of commerce which Tunis pours
towards the Sahara, and for this reason is called by the Arabs, "the
gate of Tunis;" but the restrictive system established by the Turks
during late years at Ghadumes, has greatly damaged the trade between the
Jereed and the Desert. The movement of the markets and caravans takes
place at the beginning of spring, and at the end of summer. Only a
portion of the inhabitants is devoted to commerce, the rich landed
proprietory and the Shereefs representing the aristocracy, lead the
tranquil life of nobles, the most void of care, and, perhaps, the
happiest of which contemplative philosophy ever dreamed. The oasis of
Nefta, indeed, is said to be the most poetic of the Desert; its gardens
are delicious; its oranges and lemons sweet; its dates the finest fruit
in the "land of dates." Nearly all the women are pretty, of that beauty
peculiar to the Oriental race; and the ladies who do not expose
themselves to the fierce sun of the day, are as fair as Mooresses.
Santa Maria left for Ghabs, to which place there is not a correct route
laid down in any chart. There are three routes, but the wells of one are
only known to travellers, a knowledge which cannot be dispensed with in
these dry regions. The wells of the other two routes are known to the
bordering tribes alone, who, when they have taken a supply of water,
cover them up with sand, previously laying a camel-skin over the
well-mouth, to prevent the sand falling into the water, so that, while
dying with thirst, you might be standing on a well and be none the
wiser. The Frenchman has taken with him an escort of twelve men. The
weather is cooler, with a great deal of wind, raising and darkening the
sky with sand; even among the dategroves our eyes and noses were like so
Sheikh Tahib has been twice subjected to corporal punishment in the same
way as before mentioned, with the addition of fifty, but they cannot
make him bleed as they wish. He declares he has not got the money, and
that he cannot pay them, though they cut him to pieces. As he has
collected a great portion of the tribute of the people, one cannot much
pity the lying rogue.
We were amused with the snake-charmers. These gentry are a company under
the protection of their great saint Sidi Aysa, who has long gone
upwards, but also is now profitably employed in helping the juggling of
these snake-mountebanks. These fellows take their snakes about in small
bags or boxes, which are perfectly harmless, their teeth and poison-bags
being extracted. They carry them in their bosoms, put them in their
mouths, stuffing a long one in of some feet in length, twist them around
their arms, use them as a whip to frighten the people, in the meanwhile
screaming out and crying unto their Heavenly protector for help, the
bystanders devoutly joining in their prayers. The snake-charmers usually
perform other tricks, such as swallowing nails and sticking an iron bar
in their eyes; and they wear their hair long like women, which gives
them a very wild maniacal look.
Three of the mamelukes and ourselves went to Wedyen, a town and
date-wood about eight miles from Toser, to the left. The date-grove is
extensive, and there are seven villages in it of the same name. We slept
in the house of the Sheikh, who complained that the Frenchman, in
passing that way, had allowed his escort to plunder, and actually bound
the poor Sheikh, threatening him on his remonstrating. What conduct for
Christians to teach these people!
One morning before daylight, we were on horseback, and _en route_
towards the hills, for the purpose of shooting loted, as they call a
species of deer found here. The ground in the neighbourhood of Wedyen is
tossed about like a hay-field, and volcanic looking. About four miles
off we struck into the rocks, on each side of our path, rising
perpendicularly in fantastic shapes. On reaching the highest ground, the
view was exceedingly wild. Much of the rock appeared as if it had only
just been cooled from a state of fusion; there was also a quantity of
tuffo rock, similar to that in the neighbourhood of Naples. The first
animal we saw was a wolf, which, standing on the sky-line of the
opposite hill, looked gigantic. The deep valley between, however,
prevented our nearer approach.
We soon after came on a loted, who took to his heels, turning round a
mass of rock; but, soon after, he almost met as, and we had a view of
him within forty yards. Several shots were fired at him without effect,
and he at last made his escape, with a speed which defied all our
attempts at following him. Dismounting, the Sheikh Ali, of the Arab
tribe Hammama, who was with us, and who is the greatest deer-stalker in
the country, preceded us a little distance to look out for deer, the
marks of which were here very numerous. After a short time, an Arab
brought information of a herd of some thirty, with a good many young
ones; but our endeavours to have a shot at them were fruitless, though
one of the Arabs got near enough to loose the dogs at them, and a
greyhound was kicked over for his pains. We saw no more of them; but our
want of success was not surprising, silence not being in the least
attended to, and our party was far too large. The Arabs have such a
horrible habit of vociferation, that it is a wonder they ever take any
game at all. About the hills was scattered a great variety of aromatic
plants, quantities of shells, and whole oyster-beds, looking almost as
fresh as if they had been found by the sea-side.
On our return from Toser, we had an extensive view of the Sahara, an
ocean as far as the eye could see, of what one would have taken his oath
was water, the shores, inlets, and bays being clearly defined, but, in
reality, nothing but salt scattered on the surface. Several islets were
apparently breaking its watery expanse, but these also were only heaps
of sand raised from the surrounding flat. The whole country, hills,
plains and deserts, gave us an idea as if the materials had been thrown
together for manufacture, and had never been completed. Nevertheless
these savage deserts of boundless extent are as complete in their kind
as the smiling meadows and fertile corn-fields of England, each being
perfect in itself, necessary to the grand whole of creation, and forming
an essential portion of the works of Divine Providence.
The Sheikh Tahib's gardens were sold for 15,000 piastres, his wife also
added to this 1,000, and he was set at liberty. The dates have been
coming in to a great amount. There are many different kinds. The
principal are:--Degalah, the most esteemed, which are very sweet and
almost transparent. Captain B. preferred the Trungah, another first-rate
sort, which are plum-shaped, and taste something like a plum. There are
also the Monachah, which are larger than the other two, dryer and more
mealy, and not so sweet as Degalah, and other sorts. The dates were very
fine, though in no very great abundance, the superior state of ripeness
being attributed to there only being a single day of rain during the
past year in the Jereed. Rain is bad for the dates, but the roots of the
tree cannot have too much water.
The tent-pitchers of the camp went round and performed, in mask, actions
of the most revolting description, some being dressed as women, and
dancing in the most lascivious and indecent manner. One fellow went up
to R., who was just on the point of knocking him down, when, seeing the
Treasurer of the Bey cracking his sides with laughter, he allowed the
brute to go off under such high patronage. It was even said that these
fellows were patronized by his Highness. But, on all Moorish feastdays,
lascivious actions of men and women are an indispensable part of their
entertainment. This is the worst side of the character of the Moors. The
Moorish women were never so profligate as since the arrival of the
French in Algeria.
One of the greatest chiefs, Sultan Kaed, of the Hammama has just died.
He was an extremely old man, and it is certain that people live to a
good old age in this burning clime. During his life, he had often
distinguished himself, and lastly against the French, before
Constantina. Whilst in the hills one day, we came suddenly upon a set of
Arabs, about nine in number, who took to their heels on seeing us. A man
has just been killed near this place, probably by the same gang. For
robbery and murder, no hills could be better fitted, the passes being so
intricate, and the winds and turns so sudden and sharp. The Sheikh Ali
brought in two loteds, a female and its young one, which he had shot.
The head of the loted is like a deer's, but the eye is further up: it is
about a fallowdeer's size. The female has not the beard like a goat, but
long hair, reaching from the head to the bottom of the chest, and over
the fore-legs. These loteds were taken in consequence of an order from
the Bey, that they should not return without some.
On our march back to Tunis, we encamped for two days by the foot of a
range of hills at Sheesheeah, about ten miles off. The water, brought
from some distance, was bad and salt.
We proceeded to Ghortabah, our old place. Two of the prisoners (about
twelve of whom we had with us), and one of the Turks, died from the
excessive heat. The two couriers that were sent with despatches for the
Government were attacked near this place by the Arabs, and the horse of
one was so injured, that it was necessary to kill him; the man who rode
the horse was also shot through the leg. This was probably in revenge
for the exactions of the Bey of the Camp on the tribes.
On our return to Ghafsa, we had rain, hail, and high wind, and
exceedingly cold--a Siberian winter's day on the verge of the scorching
desert. The ground, where there was clay, very slippery; the camels
reeled about as if intoxicated. The consequence was, it was long before
the tents came up, and we endured much from this sudden change of the
weather. Our sufferings were, however, nothing as compared to others,
for during the day, ten men were brought in dead, from the cold (three
died four days before from heat), principally Turks; and, had there been
no change in the temperature, we cannot tell how many would have shared
the same fate. Many of the camels, struggling against the clayey soil,
could not come up.
Eight more men were shortly buried, and three were missing. The sudden
transition from the intense heat of the one day to the freezing cold of
the next, probably gave the latter a treble power, producing these
disastrous effects, the poor people being sadly ill-clad, and quite
unprepared for such extreme rigour. Besides, on our arrival at the camp,
all the money in Europe could not have purchased us the required
comforts, or rather necessaries, to preserve our health. Cold makes
everybody very selfish. We were exceedingly touched on hearing of the
death of a little girl, whom we saw driven out of a kitchen, in which
the poor helpless little thing had taken refuge from the inclemency of
Santa Maria arrived from Ghabs without accident, having scarcely seen a
soul the whole of the way. He certainly was an enterprizing fellow,
worthy of imitation. He calculated the distance from Ghabs to Toser at
200 miles. There are a number of towns in the districts of Ghabs better
built than those of Nefta and Toser; Ghabs river is also full of water
and the soil of the country is very fertile. The dates are not so good
as those of the Jereed. Ghabs is about 130 miles from Ghafsa. We here
took our farewell of Santa Maria; he went to Beja, the head-quarters of
the summer-camp: thence, of course, he would proceed to Algiers, to give
an account of his _espionage_. Next season, he said, he would go to
Tripoli and Ghadames; he had been many years in North Africa, and spoke
We next marched to Byrlafee, about twenty miles, and ninety-one from
Toser, where there are the ruins of an old town. The weather continued
cold and most wintry. Here is a very ancient well still in use.
Fragments of cornices and pillars are strewn about. The foundations of
houses, and some massive stone towers, which from their having a pipe up
the centre, must have had something to do with regulating the water, are
all that remain.
We had now much wind, but no rain. A great many camels and horses
perished. Altogether, the number of camels that died on the return of
the camp, was 550. The price of a camel varies from 60 to 200 piastres.
Many good ones were sold at the camp for eighty piastres each, or about
two pounds ten shillings, English money. A good sheep was disposed of
for four or five piastres, or about three shillings. There were also
some ludicrous sales. A horse in the extremities of nature, or near to
the _articulo mortis_, was sold for a piastre, eight pence; a camel, in
a like situation, was sold for a piastre and a half. A tolerably good
horse in Tunis sells at from 800 to 1000 piastres.
There are the remains of an aqueduct at Gilma, and several other
buildings, the capitals of the pillars being elaborately worked. It is
seen that nearly the entire surface of Tunis is covered with remains of
aqueducts, Roman, Christian, and Moorish. If railways be applied to this
country--the French, are already talking about forming one from Algiers
to Blidah, across the Mitidjah--unquestionably along the lines will be
constructed ducts for water, which could thus be distributed over the
whole country. Instead of the camels of the "Bey of the Camp" carrying
water from Tunis to the Jereed, the railway would take from Zazwan, the
best and most delicious water in the Regency, to the dry deserts of the
Jereed, with the greatest facility. As to railways paying in this
country, the resources of Tunis, if developed, could pay anything.
Marching onwards about eighteen miles, we encamped two or three beyond
an old place called Sidi-Ben-Habeeba. A man murdered a woman from
jealousy in the camp, but made his escape. Almost every eminence we
passed was occupied with the remains of some ancient fort, or temple.
There was a good deal of corn in small detached patches, but it must be
remembered, the north-western provinces are the corn-districts.
In the course of the following three days, we reached Sidi-Mahammedeah,
where are the magnificent remains of Udina. After about an hour's halt,
and when all the tents had been comfortably pitched, the Bey astonished
us with an order to continue our march, and we pursued our way to
Momakeeah, about thirty miles, which we did not reach until after dark.
We passed, for some three or four hours, through a flight of locusts,
the air being darkened, and the ground loaded with them. At a little
distance, a flight of locusts has the appearance of a heavy snow-storm.
These insects rarely visit the capital; but, since the appearance of
those near Momakeeah, they have been collected in the neighbourhood of
the city, cooked, and sold among the people. Momakeeah is a countryhouse
belonging to the Bey, to whom, also, belongs a great portion of the land
around. There is a large garden, laid out in the Italian style attached
to this country-seat.
On arriving at Tunis, we called at the Bardo as we passed, and saw the
guard mounting. There was rather a fine band of military music; Moorish
musicians, but playing, after the European style, Italian and Moorish
We must give here some account of our Boab's domestic concerns. He
boasted that he had had twenty-seven wives, his religion allowing four
at once, which he had bad several times; he was himself of somewhat
advanced years. According to him, if a man quarrels with his wife, he
can put her in prison, but must, at the same time, support her. A
certain quantity of provision is laid down by law, and he must give her
two suits, or changes, of clothes a year. But he must also visit her
once a week, and the day fixed is Friday. If the wife wishes to be
separated, and to return to her parents, she must first pay the money
which he may demand, and must also have his permission, although he
himself may send her to her parents whenever he chooses, without
assigning any reason. He retains the children, and he may marry again.
The woman is generally expected to bring her husband a considerable sum
in the way of dowry, but, on separation, she gets nothing back. This was
the Boab's account, but I think he has overdone the harshness and
injustice of the Mohammedan law of marriage in relating it to our
tourists. It may be observed that the strict law is rarely acted upon,
and many respectable Moors have told me that they have but one wife, and
find that quite enough. It is true that many Moors, especially learned
men, divorce their wives when they get old, feeling the women an
embarrassment to them, and no wonder, when we consider these poor
creatures have no education, and, in their old age, neither afford
connubial pleasure nor society to their husbands. With respect to
divorce, a woman can demand by law and right to be separated from her
husband, or divorced, whenever he ill-treats her, or estranges himself
from her. Eunuchs, who have the charge of the women, are allowed to
marry, although they cannot have any family. The chief eunuch of the
Bardo has the most revolting countenance.
Our tourists brought home a variety of curious Jereed things: small
date-baskets full of dates, woollen articles, skins of all sorts, and a
few live animals. Sidi Mohammed also made them many handsome presents.
Some deer, Jereed goats, an ostrich, &c., were sent to Mr. R. after his
return, and both Captain B. and Mr. R. have had every reason to be
extremely gratified with the hospitality and kind attentions of the "Bey
of the Camp."
It is very difficult to ascertain the amount of tribute collected in the
Jereed, some of which, however, was not got in, owing to various
impediments. Our tourists say generally:--
Money, dollars, and piastres, (chiefly I
imagine, the latter.) 23
Burnouses, blankets, and quilts, &c. 6
Dates (these were collected at Toser,
and brought from Nefta and the surrounding
It is impossible, with this statement
before us, to make out any exact
calculation of the amount of tribute.
A cantar of dates varies from fifteen
to twenty-five shillings, say on an
average a pound sterling; this will
make the amount of the 500 camel-loads
at five cantars per load L2,500
Six camel-loads of woollen manufactures,
&c., at sixty pound per load, value 360
The money, chiefly piastres, must be left to conjecture. However, Mr.
Levy, a large merchant at Tunis, thinks the amount might be from 150 to
200,000 piastres, or, taking the largest sum, L6,250 sterling:
Total amount of the tribute of the Jereed:
in goods L2,860
Ditto, in money: 6,250
To this sum may be added the smaller presents of horses, camels, and
other beasts of burden.
* * * * *
Before leaving Mogador, in company with Mr. Willshire, I saw his
Excellency, the Governor again, when I took formal leave of him. He
accompanied me down to the port with several of the authorities, waiting
until I embarked for the Renshaw schooner. Several of the Consuls, and
nearly all the Europeans, were also present. On the whole, I was
satisfied with the civilities of the Moorish authorities, and offer my
cordial thanks to the Europeans of Mogador for their attentions during
my residence in that city.
A little circumstance shews the subjection of our merchants, the Consul
not excepted, to the Moorish Government. One of the merchants wished to
accompany me on board, but was not permitted, on account of his
engagements with the Sultan.
A merchant cannot even go off the harbour to superintend the stowing of
his goods. Never were prisoners of war, or political offenders, so
closely watched as the boasted imperial merchants of this city.
After setting sail, we were soon out of sight of Mogador; and, on the
following day, land disappeared altogether. During the next month, we
were at sea, and out of view of the shore. I find an entry in my
journal, when off the Isle of Wight. We had had most tremendous weather,
successive gales of foul wind, from north and north-east. Our schooner
was a beautiful vessel, a fine sailer with a flat bottom, drawing little
water, made purposely for Barbary ports. She had her bows completely
under water, and pitched her way for twenty-five succeeding days,
through huge rising waves of sea and foam. During the whole of this
time, I never got up, and lived on bread and water with a little
biscuit. Captain Taylor, who was a capital seaman, and took the most
accurate observations, lost all patience, and, though a good methodist,
would now and then rush on deck, and swear at the perverse gale and
wrathful sea. We took on board a fine barb for Mr. Elton, which died
after a few days at sea, in these tempests. I had a young vulture that
died a day before the horse, or we should have fed him on the carcase.
An aoudad which we conveyed on account of Mr. Willshire to London, for
the Zoological Society, outlived these violent gales, and was safely and
comfortably lodged in the Regent's Park. After my return from Africa, I
paid my brave and hardy fellow-passenger a visit, and find the air of
smoky London agrees with him as well as the cloudless region of the
The following account of the bombardment of Mogador by the French,
written at the period by an English Resident may be of interest at the
Mogador was bombarded on the 13th of August, 1844. Hostilities began at
9 o'clock A.M., by the Moors firing twenty-one guns before the French
had taken up their position, but the fire was not returned until 2 P.M.
The 'Gemappes,' 100; 'Suffren,' 99; 'Triton,' 80; ships of the line.
'Belle Poule,' 60, frigate; 'Asmodee' and 'Pluton,' steamers, and some
brigs, constituted the bombarding squadron. The batteries were silenced,
and the Moorish authorities with many of the inhabitants fled, leaving
the city unprotected against the wild tribes, who this evening and the
next morning, sacked and fired the city. On the 16th, nine hundred
French were landed on the isle of Mogador. After a rude encounter with
the garrison, they took possession of it and its forts. Their loss was,
after twenty-eight hours' bombarding, trifling, some twenty killed and
as many more wounded; the Moors lost some five hundred on the isle
killed, besides the casualties in the city.
The British Consul and his wife, and Mr. and Mrs. Robertson, with
others, were obliged to remain in the town during the bombardment on
account of their liabilities to the Emperor. The escape of these people
from destruction was most miraculous.
The bombarding squadron reached on the 10th, the English frigate,
'Warspite,' on the 13th, and the wind blowing strong from N.E., and
preventing the commencement of hostilities, afforded opportunity to
save, if possible, the British Consul's family and other detained
Europeans; but, notwithstanding the strenuous remonstrances of the
captain of the 'Warspite', nothing whatever could prevail upon the
Moorish Deputy-Governor in command, Sidi Abdallah Deleero, to allow the
British and other Europeans to take their departure. The Governor even
peremptorily refused permission for the wife of the Consul to leave,
upon the cruel sophism that, "The Christian religion asserts the husband
and wife to be one, consequently," added the Governor, "as it is my
duty, which I owe to my Emperor, to prevent the Consul from leaving
Mogador, I must also keep his wife."
The fact is the Moors, in their stupidity, and perhaps in their revenge,
thought the retaining of the British Consul and the Europeans might, in
some way or other, contribute to the defence of themselves, save the
city, or mitigate the havoc of the bombardment. At any rate, they would
say, "Let the Christians share the same fate and dangers as ourselves."
During the bombardment, the Moors for two hours fought well, but their
best gunner, a Spanish renegade, Omar Ei-Haj, being killed, they became
dispirited and abandoned the batteries. The Governor and his troops,
about sunset, disgracefully and precipitately fled, followed by nearly
all the Moorish population, thereby abandoning Mogador to pillage, and
the European Jews to the merciless wild tribes, who, though levied to
defend the town, had, for some hours past, hovered round it like droves
of famished wolves.
As the Governor fled out, terrified as much at the wild tribes as of the
French, in rushed these hordes, led on by their desperate chiefs. These
wretches undismayed, unmoved by the terrors of the bombarding ravages
around, strove and vied with each other in the committal of every act of
the most unlicensed ferocity and depredation, breaking open houses,
assaulting the inmates, murdering such as shewed resistance, denuding
the more submissive of their clothing, abusing women--particularly in
the Jewish quarter--to all which atrocities the Europeans were likewise
At the most imminent hazard of their lives, the British Consul and his
wife, with a few others, escaped from these ruffians. Truly providential
was their flight through streets, resounding with the most turbulent
confusion and sanguinary violence. It was late when the plunderers
appeared before the Consulates, where, without any ceremony, by
hundreds, they fell to work, breaking open bales of goods, ransacking
places for money and other treasures; and, thus unsatisfied in their
rapacity, they tore and burnt all the account-books and Consular
Other gangs fought over the spoil; some carrying off their booty, and
others setting it on fire. It was a real pandemonium of discord and
licentiousness. During the darkness, and in the midst of such scenes, it
was that the Consul and his wife threaded their precarious flight
through the streets, and in their way were intercepted by a marauding
band, who attacked them; tore off his coat; and, seizing his wife,
insisted upon denuding her, four or five daggers being raised to her
throat, expecting to find money concealed about their persons; nor would
the ruffians desist until they ascertained they had none, the Consul
having prudently resolved to take no money with them. Fortunately, at
this juncture, his wife was able to speak, and in Arabic (being born
here, and daughter of a former Consul), therefore she could give force
to her entreaties by appealing to them not to imbue their hands in the
blood of their countrywomen. This had the desired effect. The chief of
the party undertook to conduct them to the water-port, when, coming in
contact with another party, a conflict about booty ensued, during which
the Consul's family got out of the town to a place of comparative
Incidents of a similar alarming nature attended the escape of Mr.
Robertson, his wife, and four children; one, a baby in arms. In the
crowd, Mr. Robertson, with a child in each hand, lost sight of Mrs.
Robertson, with her infant and another child. Distracted by sad
forebodings, poor Mr. Robertson forced his way to the water-port, but
not before a savage mountainer--riding furiously by him--aimed a
sabre-blow at him to cut him down; but, as the murderous arm was poised
above, Mr. Robertson stooped, and, raising his arm at the time, warded
it off; the miscreant then rode off, being satisfied at this cut at the
Another ruffian seized one of his little girls, a pretty child of nine
years old, and scratched her arm several times with his dagger, calling
out _flous_ (money) at each stroke. At the water-port, Mr. Robertson
joined his fainting wife, and the British Consul and his wife, with Mr.
Lucas and Mr. Allnut. An old Moor never deserted the Consul's family,
"faithful among the faithless;" and a Jewess, much attached to the
family, abandoned them only to return to those allied to her by the ties
Their situation was now still perilous, for, should they be discovered
by the wild Berbers, they all might be murdered. This night, the 15th,
was a most anxious one, and their apprehensions were dreadful. Dawn of
day was fast approaching, and every hour's delay rendered their
condition more precarious. In this emergency, Mr. Lucas, who never once
failed or lost his accustomed suavity and presence of mind amidst these
imminent dangers, resolved upon communicating with the fleet by a most
hazardous experiment. On his way from the town-gate to the water-port,
he noticed some deal planks near the beach. The idea struck him of
turning these into a raft, which, supporting him, could enable their
party to communicate with the squadron. Mr. Lucas fetched the planks,
and resolutely set to work. Taking three of them, and luckily finding a
quantity of strong grass cordage, he arranged them in the water, and
with some cross-pieces, bound the whole together; and, besides, having
found two small pieces of board to serve him as paddles, he gallantly
launched forth alone, and, in about an hour, effected his object, for he
excited the attention of the French brig, 'Canard,' from which a boat
came and took him on board.
The officers, being assured there were no Moors on guard at the
batteries, and that the Berbers were wholly occupied in plundering the
city, promptly and generously sent off a boat with Mr. Lucas to the
rescue of the alarmed and trembling fugitives. The Prince de Joinville
afterwards ordered them to be conveyed on board the 'Warspite.' The
self-devotedness, sagacity, and indefatigable exertions of the excellent
young man, Mr. Lucas, were above all encomiums, and, at the hands of the
British Government, he deserved some especial mark of favour.
Poor Mrs. Levy (an English Jewess, married to a Maroquine Jew), and her
family were left behind, and accompanied the rest of the miserable Jews
and natives, to be maltreated, stripped naked, and, perhaps, murdered,
like many poor Jews. Mr. Amrem Elmelek, the greatest native merchant and
a Jew, died from fright. Carlos Bolelli, a Roman, perished during the
sack of the city.
Mogador was left a heap of ruins, scarcely one house standing entire,
and all tenantless. In the fine elegiac bulletin of the bombarding
Prince, "Alas! for thee, Mogador! thy walls are riddled with bullets,
and thy mosques of prayer blackened with fire!" (or something like
COMMERCE WITH MOROCCO.
Tangier trades almost exclusively with Gibraltar, between which place
and this, an active intercourse is constantly kept up.
The principal articles of importation into Tangier are, cotton goods of
all kinds, cloth, silk-stuffs, velvets, copper, iron, steel, and
hardware of every description; cochineal, indigo, and other dyes; tea,
coffee, sulphur, paper, planks, looking-glasses, tin, thread,
glass-beads, alum, playing-cards, incense, sarsaparilla, and rum.
The exports consist in hides, wax, wool, leeches, dates, almonds,
oranges, and other fruit, bark, flax, durra, chick-peas, bird-seed, oxen
and sheep, henna, and other dyes, woollen sashes, haicks, Moorish
slippers, poultry, eggs, flour, &c.
The value of British and foreign goods imported into Tangier in 1856
was: British goods, L101,773 6_s_., foreign goods, L33,793.
The goods exported from Tangier during the same year was: For British
ports, L63,580 10_s_., for foreign ports, L13,683.
The following is a statement of the number of British and foreign ships
that entered and cleared from this port during the same year. Entered:
British ships 203, the united tonnage of which was 10,883; foreign ships
110, the total tonnage of which was 4,780.
Cleared: British ships 207, the united tonnage of which was 10,934;
foreign ships 110, the total tonnage of which was 4,780.
Three thousand head of cattle are annually exported, at a fixed duty of
five dollars per head, to Gibraltar, for the use of that garrison, in
conformity with the terms of special grants that have, from time to
time, been made by the present Sultan and some of his predecessors. In
addition to the above, about 2,000 head are, likewise, exported
annually, for the same destination, at a higher rate of duty, varying
from eight dollars to ten dollars per head. Gibraltar, also, draws from
this place large supplies of poultry, eggs, flour, and other kinds of
From the port of Mogador are exported the richest articles the country
produces, viz., almonds, sweet and bitter gums, wool, olive-oil, seeds
of various kinds, as cummin, gingelen, aniseed; sheep-skins, calf, and
goat-skins, ostrich-feathers, and occasionally maize.
The amount of exports in 1855 was: For British ports, L228,112 3_s_.
2_d_., for foreign ports, L55,965 13_s_. 1_d_.
The imports are Manchester cotton goods, which have entirely superseded
the East India long cloths, formerly in universal use, blue salampores,
prints, sugar, tea, coffee, Buenos Ayres slides, iron, steel, spices,
drugs, nails, beads and deals, woollen cloth, cotton wool, and mirrors
of small value, partly for consumption in the town, but chiefly for that
of the interior, from Morocco and its environs, as far as Timbuctoo.
The amount of imports in 1855 was: British goods, L136,496 7_s_. 6_d_.,
foreign goods L31,222 11_s_. 5_d_.
The trade last year was greatly increased by the unusually large demand
for olive-oil from all parts, and there is no doubt that, under a more
liberal Government, the commerce might be developed to a vast extent.
The principal goods imported at Rabat are, alum, calico of different
qualities, cinnamon, fine cloth, army cloth, cloves, copperas, cotton
prints, raw cotton, sewing cotton, cutlery, dimity, domestics,
earthenware, ginger, glass, handkerchiefs (silk and cotton), hardware,
indigo, iron, linen, madder root, muslin, sugar (refined and raw), tea,
and tin plate.
The before-mentioned articles are imported partly for consumption in
Rabat and Sallee, and partly for transmission into the interior.
The value of different articles of produce exported at Rabat during the
last five years amounts to L34,860 1_s_.
There can be no doubt that the imports and exports at Rabat would
greatly increase, if the present high duties were reduced, and
Government monopolies abolished. Large quantities of hides were exported
before they were a Government monopoly: now the quantity exported is
_Goods Imported_.--Brown Domestics, called American White, muslins, raw
cotton, cotton-bales, silk and cotton pocket-handkerchiefs; tea, coffee,
sugars, iron, copperas, alum; many other articles imported, but in very
A small portion of the importations is consumed at Mazagan and Azimore,
but the major portions in the interior.
The amount of the leading goods exported in 1855 was:--Bales of wool,
6,410; almonds, 200 serons; grain, 642,930 fanegas.
No doubt the commerce of this port would be increased under better
fiscal laws than those now established.
But the primary and immediate thing to be looked after is the wilful
casting into the anchorage-ground of stone-ballast by foreigners.
British masters are under control, but foreigners will persist, chiefly
 The predecessor of Muley Abd Errahman.
 On account, of their once possessing the throne, the Shereefs have a
peculiar jealousy of Marabouts, and which latter have not forgotten
their once being sovereigns of Morocco. The _Moravedi_ were "really a
dynasty of priests," as the celebrated Magi, who usurped the throne of
Cyrus. The Shereefs, though descended from the Prophet, are not strictly
priests, or, to make the distinction perfectly clear the Shereefs are to
be considered a dynasty corresponding to the type of Melchizdek, uniting
in themselves the regal and sacerdotal authority, whilst the
_Marabouteen_ were a family of priests like the sons of Aaron.
Abd-el-Kader unites in himself the princely and sacerdotal authority
like the Shereefs, though not of the family of the Prophet. Mankind have
always been jealous of mere theocratic government, and dynasties of
priests have always been failures in the arts of governing, and the
Egyptian priests, though they struggled hard, and were the most
accomplished of this class of men, could not make themselves the
sovereigns of Egypt.
 According to others the Sadia reigned before the Shereefs.
 I was greatly astonished to read in Mr. Hay's "Western Barbary," (p.
123), these words--"During one of the late rebellions, a beautiful young
girl was offered up as a propitiatory sacrifice, her throat being cut
before the tent of the Sultan, and in his presence!" This is an
unmitigated libel on the Shereefian prince ruling Morocco. First of all,
the sacrifice of human beings is repudiated by every class of
inhabitants in Barbary. Such rites, indeed, are unheard of, nay,
unthought of. If the Mahometan religion has been powerful in any one
thing, it is in that of rooting out from the mind of man every notion of
human sacrifice. It is this which makes the sacrifice of the Saviour
such an obnoxious doctrine to Mussulmen. It is true enough, at times,
oxen are immolated to God, but not to Moorish princes, "to appease an
offended potentate." One spring, when there was a great drought, the
people led up to the hill of Ghamart, near Carthage, a red heifer to be
slaughtered, in order to appease the displeasure of Deity; and when the
Bey's frigate, which, a short time ago, carried a present to her
Britannic Majesty, from Tunis to Malta, put back by stress of weather,
two sheep were sacrificed to some tutelar saints, and two guns were
fired in their honour. The companions of Abd-el-Kader in a storm, during
his passage from Oran to Toulon, threw handsful of salt to the raging
deep to appease its wild fury. But as to sacrificing human victims,
either to an incensed Deity, or to man, impiously putting himself in the
place of God, the Moors of Barbary have not the least conception of such
It would seem, unfortunately, that the practice of the gentleman, who
travelled a few miles into the interior of Morocco on a horse-mission,
had been to exaggerate everything, and, where effect was wanting, not to
have scrupled to have recourse to unadulterated invention. But this
style of writing cannot be defended on any principle, when so serious a
case is brought forward as that of sacrificing a human victim to appease
the wrath of an incensed sovereign, and that prince now living in
amicable relations with ourselves.
 Graeberg de Hemso, whilst consul-general for Sweden and Sardinia (at
Morocco!) concludes the genealogy of these Mussulman sovereigns with
this strange, but Catholic-spirited rhapsody:--
"Muley Abd-ur-Bakliman, who is now gloriously and happily reigning, whom
we pray Almighty God, all Goodness and Power, to protect and exalt by
prolonging his life, glory, and reign in this world and in the next; and
giving him, during eternity, the heavenly beatitude, in order that his
soul, in the same manner as flame to flame, river to sea, may be united
with his sweetest, most perfect and ineffable Creator. Amen."
 Yezeed was half-Irish, born of the renegade widow of an Irish
sergeant of the corps of Sappers and Miners, who was placed at the
disposition of this government by England, and who died in Morocco. On
his death, the facile, buxom widow was admitted, "nothing loath," into
the harem of Sidi-Mohammed, who boasted of having within its sacred
enclosure of love and bliss, a woman from every clime.
Here the daughter of Erin brought forth this ferocious tyrant, whose
maxim of carnage, and of inflicting suffering on humanity was, "My
empire can never be well governed, unless a stream of blood flows from
the gate of the palace to the gate of the city." To do Yezeed justice,
he followed out the instincts of his birth, and made war on all the
world except the English (or Irish). Tully's Letters on Tripoli give a
graphic account of the exploits of Yezeed, who, to his inherent cruelty,
added a fondness for practical (Hibernian) jokes.
His father sent him several times on a pilgrimage to Mecca to expiate
his crimes, when he amused, or alarmed, all the people whose countries
he passed through, by his terrific vagaries. One day he would cut off
the heads of a couple of his domestics, and play at bowls with them;
another day, he would ride across the path of an European, or a consul,
and singe his whiskers with the discharge of a pistol-shot; another day,
he would collect all the poor of a district, and gorge them with a
razzia he had made on the effects of some rich over-fed Bashaw. The
multitude sometimes implored heaven's blessing on the head of Yezeed. at
other times trembled for their own heads. Meanwhile, our European
consuls made profound obeisance to this son of the Shereef, enthroned in
the West. So the tyrant passed the innocent days of his pilgrimage. So
the godless herd of mankind acquiesced in the divine rights of royalty.
 See Appendix at the end of this volume.
 The middle Western Region consists of Algiers and part of Tunis.
 Pliny, the Elder, confirms this tradition mentioned by Pliny. Marcus
Yarron reports, "that in all Spain there are spread Iberians, Persians,
Phoenicians, Celts, and Carthaginians." (Lib. iii. chap. 2).
 In Latin, Mauri, Maurice, Maurici, Maurusci, and it is supposed, so
called by the Greeks from their dark complexions.
 The more probable derivation of this word is from _bar_, signifying
land, or earth, in contradistinction from the sea, or desert, beyond the
cultivable lands to the South. To give the term more force it is
doubled, after the style of the Semitic reduplication. De Haedo de la
Captividad gives a characteristic derivation, like a genuine hidalgo,
who proclaimed eternal war against Los Moros. He says--"Moors, Alartes,
Cabayles, and some Turks, form all of them a dirty, lazy, inhuman,
indomitable nation of beasts, and it is for this reason that, for the
last few years, I have accustomed myself to call that land the land of
 Procopius, de Bello Vandilico, lib. ii. cap. 10.
 Some derive it from _Sarak_, an Arabic word which signifies to
steal, and hence, call the conquerors thieves. Others, and with more
probability, derive it from _Sharak_, the east, and make them Orientals,
and others say there is an Arabic word _Saracini_, which means a
pastoral people, and assert that Saracine is a corruption from it, the
new Arabian immigrants being supposed to have been pastoral tribes.
 Some suppose that _Amayeegh_ means "great," and the tribes thus
distinguished themselves, as our neighbours are wont to do by the phrase
"la grande nation." The Shoulah are vulgarly considered to be descended
from the Philistines, and to have fled before Joshua on the conquest of
In his translation of the Description of Spain, by the Shereef El-Edris
(Madrid, 1799), Don Josef Antonio Conde speaks of the Berbers in a
"Masmuda, one of the five principal tribes of Barbaria; the others are
Zeneta, called Zenetes in our novels and histories, Sanhagha which we
name Zenagas; Gomesa is spelt in our histories Gomares and Gomeles.
Huroara, some of these were originally from Arabia; there were others,
but not so distinguished. La de Ketama was, according to tradition,
African, one of the most ancient, for having come with Afrikio.
"Ben Kis Ben Taifi Ben Teba, the younger, who came from the king of the
Assyrians, to the land of the west.
"None of these primitive tribes appear to have been known to the Romans,
their historians, however, have transmitted to us many names of other
aboriginal tribes, some of which resemble fractions now existing, as the
Getules are probably the present Geudala or Geuzoula. But the present
Berbers do not correspond with the names of the five original people
just mentioned. In Morocco, there are Amayeegh and Shelouh, in Algeria
the Kabyles, in Tunis the Aoures, sometimes the Shouwiah, and in Sahara
the Touarichs. There are, besides, numerous subdivisions and admixtures
of these tribes."
 Monsieur Balbi is decidedly the most recent, as well as the best
authority to apply to for a short and definite description of this most
celebrated mountain system, called by him "Systeme Atlantique," and I
shall therefore annex what he says on this interesting subject,
"Orographie." He says--"Of the 'Systeme Atlantique,' which derives its
name from the Mount Atlas, renowned for so many centuries, and still so
little known; we include in this vast system, all the heights of the
region of Maghreb--we mean the mountain of the Barbary States--as well
as the elevations scattered in the immense Sahara or Desert. It appears
that the most important ridge extends from the neighbourhood of Cape
Noun, or the Atlantic, as far as the east of the Great Syrte in the
State of Tripoli. In this vast space it crosses the new State of
Sidi-Hesdham, the Empire of Morocco, the former State of Algiers, as
well as the State of Tripoli and the Regency of Tunis. It is in the
Empire of Morocco, and especially in the east of the town of Morocco,
and in the south-east of Fez, that that ridge presents the greatest
heights of the whole system. It goes on diminishing afterwards in height
as it extends towards the east, so that it appears the summits of the
territory of Algiers are higher than those on the territory of Tunis,
and the latter are less high than those to be found in the State of
Tripoli. Several secondary ridges diverge in different directions from
the principal chain; we shall name among them the one which ends at the
Strait of Gibraltar in the Empire of Morocco. Several intermediary
mountains seem to connect with one another the secondary chains which
intersect the territories of Algiers and Tunis. Geographers call Little
Atlas the secondary mountains of the land of Sous, in opposition to the
name of Great Atlas, they give to the high mountains of the Empire of
Morocco. In that part of the principal chain called Mount Gharian, in
the south of Tripoli, several low branches branch off and under the
names of Mounts Maray, Black Mount Haroudje, Mount Liberty, Mount
Tiggerandoumma and others less known, furrow the great solitudes of the
Desert of Lybia and Sahara Proper. From observations made on the spot by
Mr. Bruguiere in the former state of Algiers, the great chain which
several geographers traced beyond the Little Atlas under the name of
Great Atlas does not exist. The inhabitants of Mediah who were
questioned on the subject by this traveller, told him positively, that
the way from that town to the Sahara was through a ground more or less
elevated, and slopes more or less steep, and without having any chain of
mountains to cross. The Pass of Teniah which leads from Algiers to
Mediah is, therefore, included in the principal chain of that part of
 Xenophon, in his Anabasis, speaks of ostriches in Mesopotamia being
run down by fleet horses.
 Mount Atlas was called Dyris by the ancient aborigines, or Derem,
its name amongst the modern aborigines. This word has been compared to
the Hebrew, signifying the place or aspect of the sun at noon-day, as if
Mount Atlas was the back of the world, or the cultivated parts of the
globe, and over which the sun was seen at full noon, in all his fierce
and glorious splendour. Bochart connects the term with the Hebrew
meaning 'great' or 'mighty,' which epithet would be naturally applied to
the Atlas, and all mountains, by either a savage or civilized people. We
have, also, on the northern coast, Russadirum, the name given by the
Moors to Cape Bon, which is evidently a compound of _Ras_, head, and
_dirum_, mountain, or the head of the mountain.
We have again the root of this word in Doa-el-Hamman, Tibet Deera, &c.,
the names of separate chains of the mighty Atlas. Any way, the modern
Der-en is seen to be the same with the ancient Dir-is.
 The only way of obtaining any information at all, is through the
registers of taxation; and, to the despotism and exactions of these and
most governments, we owe a knowledge of the proximate amount of the
numbers of mankind.
 Tangier, Mogador, Wadnoun, and Sous have already been described,
wholly, or in part.
 In 936, Arzila was sacked by the English, and remained for twenty
 According to Mr. Hay, a portion of the Salee Rovers seem to have
finally taken refuge here. Up the river El-Kous, the Imperial squadron
lay in ordinary, consisting of a corvette, two brigs, (once
merchant-vessels, and which had been bought of Christians), and a
schooner, with some few gun-boats, and even these two or three vessels
were said to be all unfit for sea. But, when Great Britain captured the
rock of Gibraltar, we, supplanting the Moors became the formidable
toll-keepers of the Herculean Straits, and the Salee rivers have ever
since been in our power. If the Shereefs have levied war or tribute on
European navies since that periods it has been under our tacit sanction.
The opinion of Nelson is not the less true, that, should England engage
in war with any maritime State of Europe, Morocco must be our warm and
active friend or enemy, and, if our enemy, we must again possess
ourselves of our old garrison of Tangier.
 So called, it is supposed, from the quantity of aniseed grown in
 Near Cape Blanco is the ruined town of Tit or Tet, supposed to be
of Carthaginian origin, and once also possessed by the Portuguese, when
commerce therein flourished.
 El-Kesar is a very common name of a fortified town, and is usually
written by the Spaniards Alcazar, being the name of the celebrated royal
palace at Seville.
 Marmol makes this city to have succeeded the ancient Roman town of
Silda or Gilda. Mequinez has been called Ez-Zetounah, from the immense
quantities of olives in its immediate vicinity.
 Don J. A. Conde says--"Fes or sea Fez, the capital of the realm of
that name; the fables of its origin, and the grandeur of the Moors, who
always speak of their cities as foundations of heroes, or lords of the
whole world, &c., a foible of which our historians are guilty.
Nasir-Eddin and the same Ullug Beig say, for certain, that Fez is the
court of the king in the west. I must observe here, that nothing is less
authentic than the opinions given by Casiri in his Library of the
Escurial, that by the word Algarb, they always mean the west of Spain,
and by the word Almagreb, the west of Africa; one of these appellations
is generally used for the other. The same Casiri says, with regard to
Fez, that it was founded by Edno Ben Abdallah, under the reign of
Almansor Abu Giafar; he is quite satisfied with that assertion, but does
not perceive that it contains a glaring anachronism. Fez was already a
very ancient city before the Mohammed Anuabi of the Mussulmen, and
Joseph, in his A. J., mentions a city of Mauritania; the prophet Nahum
speaks of it also, when he addresses Ninive, he presents it as an
example for No Ammon. He enumerates its districts and cities, and says,
Fut and Lubim, Fez and Lybia, &c.
 I imagine we shall never know the truth of this until the French
march an army into Fez, and sack the library.
 It is true enough what the governor says about _quietness_, but the
novelty of the mission turned the heads of the people, and made a great
noise among them. The slave-dealers of Sous vowed vengeance against me,
and threatened to "rip open my bowels" if I went down there.
 The Sultan's Minister, Ben Oris, addressing our government on the
question says, "Whosoever sets any person free God will set his soul
free from the fire," (hell), quoting the Koran.
 A person going to the Emperor without a present, is like a menace
at court, for a present corresponds to our "good morning."
 _Bash_, means chief, as Bash-Mameluke, chief of the Mamelukes. It
is a Turkish term.
 This office answers vulgarly to our _Boots_ at English inns.
 Bismilla, Arabic for "In the name of God!" the Mohammedan grace
before meat, and also drink.
 Shaw says.--"The hobara is of the bigness of a capon, it feeds upon
the little grubs or insects, and frequents the confines of the Desert.
The body is of a light dun or yellowish colour, and marked over with
little brown touches, whilst the larger feathers of the wing are black,
with each of them a white spot near the middle; those of the neck are
whitish with black streaks, and are long and erected when the bird is
attacked. The bill is flat like the starling's, nearly an inch and a
half long, and the legs agree in shape and in the want of the hinder toe
with the bustard's, but it is not, as Golins says, the bustard, that
bird being twice as big as the hobara. Nothing can be more entertaining
than to see this bird pursued by the hawk, and what a variety of flights
and stratagems it makes use of to escape." The French call the hobara, a
little bustard, _poule de Carthage_, or Carthage-fowl. They are
frequently sold in the market of Tunis, as ordinary fowls, but eat
something like pheasant, and their flesh is red.
 The most grandly beautiful view in Tunis is that from the
Belvidere, about a mile north-west from the capital, looking immediately
over the Marsa road. Here, on a hill of very moderate elevation, you
have the most beautiful as well as the most magnificent panoramic view
of sea and lake, mountain and plain, town and village, in the whole
Regency, or perhaps in any other part of North Africa. There are besides
many lovely walks around the capital, particularly among and around the
craggy heights of the south-east. But these are little frequented by the
European residents, the women especially, who are so stay-at-homeative
that the greater part of them never walked round the suburbs once in
their lives. Europeans generally prefer the Marina, lined on each side,
not with pleasant trees, but dead animals, sending forth a most
 Shaw says: "The rhaad, or safsaf, is a granivorous and gregarious
bird, which wanteth the hinder toe. There are two species, and both
about and a little larger than the ordinary pullet. The belly of both is
white, back and wings of a buff colour spotted with brown, tail lighter
and marked all along with black transverse streaks, beak and legs
stronger than the partridge. The name rhaad, "thunder," is given to it
from the noise it makes on the ground when it rises, safsaf, from its
beating the air, a sound imitating the motion."
 Ghafsa, whose name Bochart derives from the Hebrew "comprimere,"
is an ancient city, claiming as its august founder, the Libyan
Hercules. It was one of the principal towns in the dominions of
Jugurtha, and well-fortified, rendered secure by being placed in the
midst of immense deserts, fabled to have been inhabited solely by
snakes and serpents. Marius took it by a _coup-de-main_, and put all
the inhabitants to the sword. The modern city is built on a gentle
eminence, between two arid mountains, and, in a great part, with the
materials of the ancient one. Ghafsa has no wall of _euceinte_, or
rather a ruined wall surrounds it, and is defended by a kasbah,
containing a small garrison. This place may be called the gate of the
Tunisian Sahara; it is the limit of Blad-el-Jereed; the sands begin now
to disappear, and the land becomes better, and more suited to the
cultivation of corn. Three villages are situated in the environs, Sala,
El-Kesir, and El-Ghetar. A fraction of the tribe of Hammand deposit
their grain in Ghafsa. This town is famous for its manufactories of
baraeans and blankets ornamented with pretty coloured flowers. There is
also a nitre and powder-manufactory, the former obtained from the earth
by a very rude process.
The environs are beautifully laid out in plantations of the fig, the
pomegranate, and the orange, and especially the datepalm, and the
olive-tree. The oil made here is of peculiarly good quality, and is
exported to Tugurt, and other oases of the Desert.
 Kaemtz's Meteorology, p. 191.
 This is the national dish of Barbary, and is a preparation of
wheat-flour granulated, boiled by the steam of meat. It is most
nutritive, and is eaten with or without meat and vegetables. When the
grains are large, it is called hamza.
 A camel-load is about five cantars, and a cantar is a hundred
[Transcriber's Note: In this electronic edition, the footnotes were
numbered and relocated to the end of the work. In ch. 3, "Mogrel-el-Aska"
was corrected to "Mogrel-el-Aksa"; in ch. 4, "lattely" to "lately"; in
ch. 7, "book" to "brook"; in ch. 9, "cirumstances" to "circumstances".
Also, "Amabasis" was corrected to "Anabasis" in footnote 16.]
Back to Full Books