Travels through the Empire of Morocco
John Buffa

Part 2 out of 3

where shall I find words to give you an adequate idea of their lovely
inhabitant? Conceive every thing that is beautiful, and you may
possibly arrive near the mark. She is rather below the middle size,
exquisitely fair, and well proportioned. When I first saw her, she was
in a very doubtful state, and I reported accordingly to the Emperor;
he was sensibly affected, and besought me to exert my utmost skill, to
preserve a life of so much value to him. Happily, my efforts have been
crowned with success, and I hope a very short time will restore her to
perfect health. She controls him in every thing, and is considered,
from her absolute dominion over him, as the fountain of all favours.

The gardens of the seraglio are beautifully laid out by Europeans, and
contain several elegant pavilions and summer-houses, where the ladies
take tea and recreate themselves; baths, fountains, and solitary
retreats for those inclined to meditation: in short, nothing is
wanting to render this a Complete terrestrial paradise, but liberty,
the deprivation of which must embitter every enjoyment.

Muley Solyman, the present Emperor, is about thirty-eight years of
age, in height about six feet two inches, of a tolerably fair
complexion, with remarkably fine teeth, large dark eyes, aquiline
nose, and black beard; the _tout ensemble_ of his countenance noble
and majestic. He governs Barbary with discretion and moderation; in
the distribution of justice, or in rewarding his subjects, he is just
and impartial; in his private conduct no less pious and exemplary,
than, in his public capacity, firm and resolute, prompt and
courageous. In my next letter I shall give you a brief account of the
succession of Sovereigns from the time of _Edris_ to the present
reigning family.


_Succession of the Sovereigns from their Founder to the present

Fez, ---- 1806.

Edris; the founder of Mahometanism in Barbary, was succeeded by his
posthumous son, _Edris the Second_, who founded the first monarchy,
after that of Mahomet, in these regions; and it was called the Kingdom
of the West. The family of Edris continued to reign for about a
hundred and fifty years; but was disturbed, during the tenth century,
by several intestine divisions, excited by a crowd of usurpers, which
terminated in the total extinction of the Edrissites.

The tribe of Mequinici seized on several provinces, and founded, on
the ruins of the ancient, the present city of Mequinez.

_Abu-Tessifin_, a Maraboot, or Monk, taking advantage of the divisions
which convulsed these countries, and above all of the credulity of
this fickle people, sent several of his disciples to preach and excite
the multitude to revolt, under the pretext of recovering their
liberties. This great impostor was the chief of the tribe of
_Lamthunes_, surnamed _Morabethoon_, on account of the extreme rigour
with which they observed the forms of the new religion.

This tribe resided between Mount Atlas and the Desert. The Moors being
weary of their Arabian rulers, flocked in crowds to the standard of
Tessefin, who soon found himself at the head of a large army, by means
of which he conquered, many provinces, and established himself
Sovereign of Mauritania.

He was succeeded by his son _Joseph-Ben-Tessefin_, who in 1086
finished the city of Morakesh, or Morocco, which his father had begun,
and there fixed his seat of government. In 1097 he seized on the
kingdom of Fez, and united it to that of Morocco: he also joined his
forces to those of the Mahometans in Spain, and conquered the city of
Seville, subdued all Andalusia, Grenada, and Murcia, penetrated as far
as Cordova, and defeated the army of Alphonso VI. of Spain. After
which he returned, loaded with spoils, to Morocco, where he died. He
was succeeded by his son _Aly_, who likewise passed over into Spain,
but was defeated and slain by Alphonso at the battle of Moriella.

His son _Brahem_, an indolent prince, and much addicted to pleasure,
was proclaimed King of Morocco. His profligacy favoured the ambitious
projects of a Mahometan preacher, named _Mahomet Abdallah_. This
impostor assumed the name of _Mahedi, Commander of the Faithful_, and
drew a host of people to his standard. In the course of his mission,
he met another preacher, at the head of a multitude of followers, who
also styled himself _Mahedi_, or _the Prophet_ expected at the end of

These two adventurers, consulting their mutual interest, coalesced,
and having completely succeeded in seducing the people, by projects of
reformation, _Abdallah_ was proclaimed King of Morocco, and
_Abdul-Momen_, the other imposter, General of the Faithful. This
haying effected the destruction of Brahem, he contrived to dispatch
his colleague so privately as to avoid the imputation of being
accessary to his death, and succeeded him in the sovereignty. He
demolished all the palaces and mosques of the Kings in Morocco, and
laid the greater part of that city in ruins, it having shut its gates
against him when, he presented himself before it; and he destroyed the
young son of Brahem with his own hands. He afterwards, however,
rebuilt Morocco, and died in 1155, in possession of the sovereign

He was succeeded by his son Joseph, who passed over into Spain, and
engaging with the armies of the Kings of Portugal and Leon, he was
killed by a fall from his horse. His son _Abu-Jacob_, surnamed
_Almonsor_ the Invincible, assumed the government, suppressed the
divisions that distracted the country, and, rendered himself so
powerful and formidable, that the Mahometan Kings in Spain elected him
as their supreme ruler. After performing numberless gallant exploits,
he disappeared on a sudden, as some assert, to perform the pilgrimage
to Mecca; but it is most probable, he was secretly murdered and buried
by the descendants of Abdallah. His son ascended the throne, but died
in a very short time of grief, in consequence of his losses in Spain.
He was the last King of this family.

_Abdallah_, the Governor of Fez, of the tribe of Benimecius, usurped
the crown of his master. Of his successors, the only prince who took
part in the Mahometan wars in Spain was _Abul Hassen_, who conquered
Gibraltar, and built the fort which still retains the name of the
_Moorish Castle_. He was dethroned and assassinated by his son, _Abul
Hassen_, a ferocious and ambitious tyrant, who left a son, named
_Abu-Said_, of a very depraved character, in whose reign Ceuta, after
a long siege, was taken by Don John, King of Portugal.

These usurpers were completely extirpated by the house of Merini,
which family in its turn was overcome by _Muley Mahomet_, a Xeriffe of
the same tribe, who seized the reins of government. His successors did
not long enjoy the fruit of their usurpation, but were most dreadfully
disturbed by a series of revolutions and murders, fomented and
perpetrated by the mountaineers, a resolute, ferocious, and restless
people, who, after raising the various parts of the country in arms
one against the other, and subjecting them to all the calamities of
civil war, cruelly butchered _Muley Achmet_, the last of the sons of
_Muley Sidan_ and proclaimed their chief, _Crom-el-Hadgy_, a
bloodthirsty ruffian, of low birth, and eminent in cruelties, in his
stead. This tyrant, to secure his new acquisition, inhumanly massacred
all the male descendants of the Xeriffes. He soon became the object of
universal detestation, and was poignarded by his Sultana on the day of
marriage. She was of the family of the Xeriffes, and consented to
marry him, only that she might have a better opportunity of
sacrificing him to her revenge, for the murder of her family.

After the tragical end of the descendants of the Xeriffes, these
countries, but more especially the province of Tafilet, experienced
all the horrors of famine and pestilence, for several years. The
people of Tafilet considered it as a judgment from their Prophet for
their injustice; and, to appease him, they made a pilgrimage to Mecca,
and easily prevailed on a Xeriffe, a descendant of Mahomet, named
_Muley Aly_, who resided in a town near Medina, to accompany them back
to this country. In the mean time, the seasons having become more
genial, the harvests were so abundant, that this credulous and
superstitious people attributed the change entirely to the arrival of
the pious Xeriffe. He was unanimously proclaimed King of Tafilet, by
the name of _Muley Xeriffe_; and as such acknowledged by the other
provinces, with the exception of Morocco and its environs, which were
then in the possession of _Crom-el-Hadgy_, who having ended his career
in the manner described, was soon followed by his son; and the ancient
families who had ruled the empire being completely extinct, the new
King of Tafilet, from his birth, religion, and the public election,
was confirmed the legitimate Sovereign of the whole county.

Muley Xeriffe was the founder of the dynasty of _Fileli_, from which
the present reigning family is descended. This country, totally
exhausted by divisions and civil wars, acquired the enjoyments of
peace and plenty, during the reign of this prince, who resided at
Tafilet, and caused the Governors, who were entrusted with provinces,
to rule with equity. He made it his whole study to render this fickle
and turbulent people happy; the latter part of his reign was perfectly
undisturbed, and his death was universally and justly lamented. He
was succeeded by his eldest son, who was proclaimed, without the
disturbances usual on those occasions, by the name of _Muley Mahomet_.

This prince, equally just and pious with his father, reigned for some
time very peaceably; and from his exemplary conduct would have
continued to do so to his death, to the increasing prosperity of his
subjects, but for his brother, _Muley Arshid_, an ambitious prince,
who, endowed with an intelligent mind, equal to the vast project he
had in contemplation, raised a rebellion, with a view to seize on the
sovereign power. At the head of a numerous party, in a pitched battle,
he was however defeated, and taken prisoner, by his brother _Muley
Mahomet_. But he recovered his liberty, by the aid of a negro slave,
whom he rewarded by striking off his head at the very instant he had
enabled the monster to recover his liberty.

After wandering about for some time, stirring up the minds of the
people to revolt, Muley Arshid fled to the mountains of Rif, where he
offered his services to the Sovereign of those districts, who,
unfortunately discovering the abilities of the stranger, confided to
him the administration of his territories, when, after having by
stratagem and prodigality gained the troops and the people to his
interests, he dethroned and inhumanly butchered his royal
benefactor. He then defeated his brother _Mahomet_, and closely
besieged him in Tafilet, whence that good prince died of grief. To
enumerate the bloody exploits of this prince would extend my letter to
a volume; suffice it therefore to say, that his reign was short, and
the remembrance of it never to be effaced. He died in 1672 of a
fractured skull, in consequence of a fall from his horse.

He was succeeded by his brother _Muley Ishmael_, who distinguished
himself by some brave actions; and his reign would have formed a grand
epoch in the history of this country, had he not stained it by a
succession of tyranny and cruelties, too shocking to dwell upon. He
died in 1727 at the advanced age of eighty-one, leaving behind him a
numerous offspring. This prince, in order to ensure his despotic and
arbitrary power, contrived to form a regular army of foreign soldiers,
which he effected, partly from the negro families, then settled in
Barbary, but principally from a vast number of blacks which he
obtained from the coast of Guinea.

_Muley-Achmet-Daiby_, one of the numerous sons of Ishmael, ascended
the throne of Morocco, and, after reigning two years, died of a
dropsy. His successor, _Muley Abdallah_, by far surpassed all his
predecessors in point of vices and cruelty. His conduct was so
flagrant, that he was deposed no less than six times, but as often
re-elected. Amidst civil wars, divisions, and devastations, the plague
again made its appearance, and committed the same dreadful ravages as
in the reign of _Ishmael_. Being reinstated for the sixth time,
_Abdallah_ took advantage of the troubles occasioned by this terrible
disease, to excite divisions among his negro soldiers, by whose power
alone he had suffered all his humiliations. Vast numbers of this
warlike race fell the victims of his treachery, and he succeeded in
reducing them so low, that they were no longer a subject of dread to
him. Having thus freed himself of all cause of restraint, he
recovered his power, and, if possible, plunged deeper than ever into
the gulf of iniquity; and each succeeding day was stained with crimes
of the blackest hue. The only sentiments with which he inspired his
unhappy people were those of terror and disgust. At length, worn out
with age, he died at Fez in 1757; and was succeeded by his son _Sidi
Mahomet_, who had begun to reform several abuses, during the latter
part of his father's reign, when he had been entrusted with the
government of Morocco.

This prince, the father of the present Emperor, was endowed with an
intelligent mind, and possessed nothing of the barbarian. His
political views, and excellent regulations, soon restored the order of
things. He directed all his care to the welfare of his people, both at
home and abroad; he concluded, and renewed, several advantageous
commercial treaties, with England, France, Spain, Portugal, Sweden,
Denmark, and Holland, with all of whom he maintained a good
understanding till 1777; when, gained over by the courts of France and
Spain, he broke the treaty with England, and refused to supply
Gibraltar with fresh provisions. He appointed officers of the
strictest integrity, and of moderate and resolute characters, to the
government of his provinces; and the whole period of his reign was
exempt from those horrible cruelties which had almost invariably
disgraced the sceptres of his predecessors. He died at an advanced
age, at _Rabat_, on the 11th of April 1790.

After the old Emperor's death, the states of Barbary became convulsed
by the civil discords, attended with great effusion of bloody
occasioned by Sidi Mahomet's numerous sons, who severally aspired to
the crown. The contest was for a long time doubtful and bloody; but at
length, Muley Yezid was proclaimed Emperor, by a powerful party. As
the whole country was up in arms, he had to combat with many
difficulties in establishing himself on the throne. He was no sooner
confirmed in his power, than he exercised it with uncommon cruelty
towards his captives. Under the idea of striking terror into the
minds of his subjects, by the force of example, and deterring them
from revolting again, he inflicted the most dreadful punishment on
those who had opposed his authority; some he caused to be hung up by
the feet, and suffered to perish for want of sustenance; others, to be
crucified at the gates of the city; and several high priests, and
officers of state, he deprived of the blessing of sight.

But his cruelty and inhumanity did not rest here. In the above
proceedings he might possibly urge in palliation a regard to his
personal safety, and the possession of a crown which he held by so
precarious a tenure as the caprice of a multitude, who might wrest it
from him with as little scruple as they had bestowed it, if not awed
by some terrible example; but where shall we seek an excuse for his
execrable barbarity to the poor Jews in his dominions, whom he ordered
to be massacred, without distinction? The carnage was most horrible;
and the property of this persecuted people was indiscriminately
plundered by their rapacious murderers. Six young Jewesses, who
ventured to intercede for their unhappy fathers and relations, were
burned alive. My blood runs cold at the idea of such depravity; and I
shrink, from the reflection that our own history will furnish us with
annals, almost or fully as replete with horror as the one I am now

It is not all surprising that such unjustifiable cruelty should kindle
disgust in the minds of those who were not totally divested of the
feelings of humanity. Several of his provinces rebelled, but he
successively reduced them to obedience; and in the last battle which
he fought, before the city of Morocco, and gained, he was severely
wounded. The rebel army was surrounded, and defeated with great
slaughter. _Muley Yezid_ was carried to the castle, and his wound
dressed; but his treatment was so improper, that, after lingering a
few days in the most excruciating torture, he died in 1794.

The present Emperor, _Muley Solyman_, was the youngest prince, and
lived retired in the city of Fez, assiduously occupied in studying the
Alcoran and the laws of the empire, in order to qualify himself for
the office of high-priest, which he was intended to fill. From this
retreat he was called by the priests, the highest in repute as saints,
in the neighbourhood of Fez, and a small party of the Moorish militia,
and by them prevailed upon to come forward as a candidate for the
crown, in opposition to his three brothers, who were waging war with
each other, at the head of numerous forces. In the midst of this
anarchy and confusion, the young prince was proclaimed Emperor at Fez,
by the name of _Muley Solyman_; and having collected a strong force,
aided by the counsels of a number of brave and experienced officers,
he advanced to Mequinez, which he reduced, after two successive
pitched battles. This place was defended by one of his brothers, who
shortly after acknowledged him as Emperor, joined him, and brought
over to his interests a great number of friends and partisans. He
served Solyman faithfully ever after, which enabled him to withstand
the united forces of his two other brothers. At length, owing to the
little harmony that prevailed in the armies of his competitors, he
effected his purpose. Taking advantage of their increasing animosity,
he advanced towards Morocco, fighting and conquering the whole way. He
entered the capital in triumph, after a general and decisive battle;
and he was again proclaimed Emperor.

This brave young prince had now reduced Barbary entirely under his
sway, with the exception of the kingdom of Tangiers. Thither the two
unfortunate princes retired, in order to make a last and desperate
stand; but after a variety of struggles, to regain some degree of
ascendancy, one was compelled to solicit the protection of the Dey of
Algiers, and the other was taken prisoner, and banished to a remote

From that period, the Emperor has dedicated the whole of his time and
pursuits to the amelioration of his people's condition, by improving
his financial resources, and appointing over his provinces, mild and
humane Governors, whom he strictly superintends, occasionally deposing
such as have deviated from his orders, and often inflicting upon these
his representatives the most severe corporal punishments, previous to
their imprisonment for life.


_Responsibility of the Governors--Empire beautiful and
productive--Humane Efforts of the Emperor--Blind Submission to his
Will--Great Number of Negroes naturalized--The Moors might be truly
formidable.--Emperor's Brother--Fez divided into two
Parts--Magnificent Mosques--Commercial Privileges--Indignities which
Christians undergo--Singular Supply of Water--The Imperial
Gardens--Propensity to
defraud--Factories--Exports--Costume--Character--Manner of
living--Domestic Vermin._


Having extended my last letter to an unusual length, I broke off
rather abruptly; I shall therefore resume the subject in this.

The Governors commanding large districts or provinces in Barbary, are
answerable for the crimes and misdemeanors committed in their
governments, if they fail to bring the offenders to public justice;
consequently they impose very heavy fines on the community, to impel
them to seize, and deliver to them, the murderer or robber. The sudden
and frequent changes in the public offices keep the most powerful
Governors in the empire in continual awe and depression; and the fear
of being, in an instant, hurled from the height of prosperity to the
lowest abyss of adversity, usually prevents them from amassing great
wealth, as it is sure to pass into the Emperor's treasury on their
disgrace; and the same cause prevents the forming of dangerous
cabals. Yet some of them contrive, during their short-lived
administration, to squeeze from their wretched vassals as much money
as they can, by every fraudful artifice and despotic violence. The
sufferers murmur, and complain; but the government appears to wink at
the oppression for a time, and reserves its dreadful vengeance till
the annual review, on the plains of Fez, where the collected spoils of
the cruel peculator are seized, and himself deposed, imprisoned, and
the whole fruit of his rapine transferred to the royal treasury.

This empire is one of the most beautiful and fertile countries,
perhaps in the world; but the despotism under which it has groaned,
and the capricious humours of its former rulers, destroyed, and
prevented the effects of industry; besides, the rapacity of the
Sheiks, who are the Bashaws of the country, carried off every thing
that labour could collect. The present Emperor is endeavouring to
correct these abuses, and to bring about a reformation, which I am
sure he will never effect, owing to the great influence of the priests
and saints in these states. Although this monarch is humane and
impartial, and possesses nothing of the ferocious character of his
predecessors, yet seldom a day passes without some executions.

The people regard their Emperor as a god upon earth, and revere him as
a descendant of their great prophet. All his commands, right or wrong,
just or unjust, they consider as the decrees of Heaven. A blind
obedience to the will of their Sovereign, is inculcated in the minds
of their youth, more as a matter of religion than of state; and the
Emperor may put as many of his subjects to death as he deems
expedient, without assigning any other motive for so doing than secret
inspiration. When at war with any Christian prince, it is considered
as a war of religion, and the Moors who fall in the field of battle,
are accounted martyrs.

The number of negroes that have been imported into this country, and
are now settled in these states, is astonishing. The amount is little
less than three hundred thousand. The Emperor's body-guard, which
consists of eighteen thousand horsemen, is chiefly composed of
negroes, who enjoy every privilege that despotic power can confer, and
are ready upon all occasions to enforce the royal mandate.

The great schools for the Moorish gentry are the chanceries of the
Bashaws, where the young men learn the arts of dissimulation and
duplicity in the greatest perfection, and become, very, early such
great adepts in these valuable acquirements, that in my opinion they
are fully able to cope with Monsieur Talleyrand, and the best
politicians at the court of St. Cloud. They are very dexterous also
in the art of temporizing with an enemy, and deluding him by a
thousand little expedients. It is therefore fortunate for Europe, that
the Moors are so indolent a set of people; for the immense power this
empire might have; were it peopled by an industrious and ambitious
race of men, would render it the most formidable in the world.

I shall now return to my own affairs, from the period at which they
were left off in a former letter. The Emperor had requested me to
report to him, personally, every morning, the state of his favourite
Sultana; I therefore waited upon him regularly at five o'clock, and
was extremely happy that I was enabled to make the report more welcome
each day. After this visit to His Imperial Majesty, I daily paid my
devoirs to the blind prince, the only remaining brother of the Emperor
now in Barbary, and who took no part in the disputes of former times;
and I then called upon the great officers of state.

Finding the Sultana in such a fair way of recovery, the Emperor
dismissed his Governors to their respective provinces, and removed his
court to Mequinez, his favourite summer residence, leaving me here, to
complete the cure of the Sultana, and to attend several of his
subjects, who stand high in his favour, in the lower town of Fez. As
the attendance required by my patients does not occupy the whole of my
time, I employ my leisure in observing such things as appear most
worthy of remark.

The town (or rather _towns_ of Fez, this city being divided into two
distinct parts, the one called Upper, the other Lower Fez) is the
capital of the kingdom of that name, and is supposed to contain about
three hundred thousand inhabitants, besides foreigners of their own
persuasion. There are upwards of five hundred mosques: one of them in
particular, which was built by Edris the Second, and in which his
remains were deposited, is magnificent beyond description, and is
about a mile and a half in circumference. There is another very little
inferior to this, which was erected by the Arabs of Caiwan, and
called _Carubin_. The other mosques have been constructed since. To
most of the mosques are annexed several colleges, religious schools,
and hospitals for the pilgrims who visit this place, for, in point of
holiness, it is considered as next to Mecca and Medina.

The lower town of Fez was built by Edris the Second, about the end of
the eighth century, and is taken notice of by Pliny under the name of
_Volubilis_. According to that author, and others, this city ranked
amongst the principal inland towns of Mauritania, and was a Roman
colony. It is a place of considerable trade; the inhabitants are
mostly freed men, engaged in commerce, and reputed to be very opulent
and industrious; they have purchased a charter, by which they ensure a
kind of independence, and are totally unmolested in their traffic; in
short, there are great privileges attached to this town, which are not
to be met with in any other part of Barbary. The lower town is almost
entirely surrounded by hills, which are highly cultivated, and abound
with vineyards, and gardens producing most exquisite fruits.

Upper Fez is situated on one of the highest of the hills which almost
encircle the lower town, and contains the imperial palace and
seraglio, several old palaces occupied by the sons of the Emperor, and
the habitations of the principal officers in the household. Contiguous
to these, is the inclosed town belonging solely to the Jews, who are
about thirty thousand in number, having one hundred and fifty
synagogues. On that part of the wall of the Jewish town which
overlooks Lower Fez, are placed several heavy pieces of ordnance,
which, in case of an insurrection in the latter, would very soon
demolish it: as the lower town is by much the most populous and
extensive, this precaution may not be unnecessary. The Jewish town is
commanded by an Alcaid, who cannot however shield its unfortunate
inhabitants from oppression and insults. These people are obliged to
walk barefooted through the Moorish streets; and they suffer the
greatest outrages without a murmur, nay, some of them have been
actually murdered in the act of selling their goods to the Moors. No
Christian is allowed to appear publicly in the streets of Fez, without
a special permission from the Emperor, and a military escort.

These towns are supplied with water in a most singular manner from a
river, called _Rasalema_, which takes its source in a valley near the
road to Mequinez. It issues from a rock, about eight or ten feet above
the ground, in a stream, that, from the form of the valley through
which it runs, appears a continued waterfall. It is conveyed into the
Emperor's garden by means of a large wheel, about twenty-five feet in
diameter, round which, at regular distances, are small buckets, which,
as the wheel goes round, are alternately filled, and emptied into a
reservoir at the top of the wall of the garden. From the reservoir the
water is also conveyed to the upper and lower towns by aqueducts.

On the outside of one of the western gates of Upper Fez are the
gardens of the Emperor, surrounded by a good stone wall, within which
are a number of spacious walks, shaded by rows of tall trees, on each
side, and intersected by parterres and grass-plots, on which are
elegant pavilions, some in a pyramidical, others in a conical form,
where the Emperor frequently retires, to take his repose, or to amuse
himself with his courtiers. These pavilions are between thirty and
forty feet in height, covered on the outside with varnished tiles of
different colours, and contain three and sometimes four neat
apartments, furnished in the most simple style imaginable, having in
general nothing more than a carpet, several couches, a few
arm-chairs, a table, a clock, and a tea-equipage of china. The
cornices round the walls of these apartments are embellished with
passages from the Koran, and other Arabic sentences, carved in

The propensity to cheating, so prevalent in all Barbary, is no where
so notorious as in the lower town of Fez; and the Europeans who trade
with the Moorish merchants here must employ the same means as
themselves, or submit to be most flagitiously imposed upon.

I have visited several manufactories of carpets, mats, silk, linen,
and leather, of which the merchants export great quantities. I have
also seen some beautifully embroidered shawls, scarfs, and
sword-knots, of the manufacture of this country. Their exports besides
are, elephants' teeth, ostrich feathers, copper, tin, wool, hides,
honey, wax, dates, raisins, olives, almonds, gum-arabic, and
sandrach. They carry on a considerable trade, by caravans, to Mecca
and Medina, the inland regions of Africa, and to the farthermost parts
of the coast of Guinea; from which last place they bring gold-dust,
and a prodigious number of negroes, some of whom are destined to serve
in the Emperor's armies; the rest are slaves in the Moorish houses and

The dress of the Moors is composed of a linen shirt, over which they
fasten a cloth or silk vestment with a sash, loose trowsers reaching
to the knee, a white serge cloak, or capote, and yellow slippers:
their arms and legs are quite bare. The principal people are
distinguished by the fineness of their turbans, their linen shirts,
and cloth or silk garments, which are richly embroidered with gold;
when they go abroad, they cover this dress with an alhaik, differing
in quality according to the circumstances of the wearer; and which
they fold round them like a large blanket. They never move their
turbans, but pull off their slippers, when they attend religious
duties, or their Sovereign, or visit their relatives, friends,
priests, or civil and military officers.

The Moorish gentry are clean in their persons, in their manners
tolerably genteel and complaisant, far from being loquacious, though
not prone to reflection. They possess an unbounded degree of duplicity
and flattery; are perfectly strangers to the notions of truth and
honour, promising a thing one day which they utterly deny the
next. They are less irascible than many other nations; but when
grossly injured, seek revenge in assassination. They are more
vindictive than brave, more superstitious than devout, firmly attached
to their ancient customs, and wholly averse to every kind of

The Moors, in general, are extremely fond of fruit and vegetables,
which contribute very much to their contentment. The peasants eat meat
only on certain great days. They are excessively dirty in their
cooking, and the style of their dishes is not at all adapted to the
taste of an Englishman. Their soups are made most intolerably hot with
spices; and their favourite dish is _cous-ca-sou_, which appears to me
to be prepared in the following manner: The meat and vegetables are
laid alternately in a large bowl, and seasoned; then the whole is
covered with fine wheaten flour, made into small grains, very like the
Italian pastes. It is raised into the form of a pyramid, and I should
imagine stewed, or rather steamed, as the outside remains perfectly
white, which it would not were it baked. The whole of the inside, when
brought to table, is mingled almost into one mass; the meat separating
from the bones, without the smallest difficulty: it does not contain
any gravy, and the Moors eat it by handsfull.

I generally live upon mutton and veal, both of which are very good:
the bread and butter are excellent, but the latter will not keep more
than twenty-four hours without becoming rancid. My greatest annoyance
here is the infinite number of bugs and fleas, which infest me by day
and night most intolerably.


_Fez--Debility of the Moors--Mosques--Antiquities, Roman,
Carthaginian, and Saracen--Storks held in great Veneration--Baths--
Bazars--Inhabitants--Residence--Menagerie--Marvellous Preservation of
a Jew--Lions--Tigers--Leopards--Hyenas._

_Fez_, ----.

Considering the mildness of the climate, the uncommon fertility of the
soil, the number of mineral waters, the fragrancy and salubrity of the
air, one would imagine that the frame and constitution of a Moor
cannot but be beautiful, strong, and healthy; yet, though the most
handsome people of both sexes are to be met with in this great city,
the number of miserable objects, the wretched victims of excessive
early passions, is in a much larger proportion: it is shocking beyond
description to meet them in every corner of the streets. I have
visited a great many of these poor creatures, and found them in such a
state, that decency obliges me to draw a veil over it.

The mosques of this town, which I have before mentioned as very
numerous, are square buildings, and generally of stone; before the
principal gate there is a court paved with white marble, with piazzas
round, the roofs of which are supported by marble columns. In niches
within these piazzas, the Moors perform their ablutions before they
enter the mosques. Attached to each mosque is a tower, with three
small open galleries, one above another, whence the people are called
to prayer, not by a bell, but by an officer appointed for that
duty. These towers, as well as the mosques, are covered with lead, and
adorned with gilding, and tiles of variegated colours. No woman is
allowed to enter the Moorish places of worship.

Several of the aqueducts, which were constructed by the Carthaginians
and Romans, are still to be seen; and the ruins of amphitheatres, and
other public buildings, are found in the town and neighbourhood of
Fez: likewise many Saracen monuments of the most stupendous
magnificence, which were erected under the Caliphs of Bagdad. The
mosques and ruins are frequented by a great number of storks, which
are very tame, and are regarded by the Moors as a kind of inferior

The baths here are wonderfully well constructed for the purpose. Some
of them are square buildings, but the greater part are circular, paved
with black or white polished marble, and containing three rooms: the
first for undressing and dressing, the second for the water, and in
the third is the bath. Their manner of bathing is very curious: the
attendant rubs the person with great force, then pulls and stretches
the limbs, as if he meant to dislocate every joint. This exercise to
these indolent people is very conducive to health.

The bazars in which the tradesmen have their shops, are very
extensive. These shops are filled with all kinds of merchandise. In
the centre of the town is a rectangular building, with colonnades,
where the principal merchants attend daily to transact business.

The inhabitants of Fez are of a large muscular stature, fair
complexion, with black beards and eyes; extremely amorous and jealous
of their women, whom they keep strictly guarded. Their houses consist
of four wings, forming a court in the centre, round which is an
arcade, or piazza, with one spacious apartment on each side. The court
is paved with square pieces of marble, and has a basin of the same in
the centre, with a fountain. They keep their houses remarkably clean
and neat; but all the streets of this immense town are narrow, very
badly paved with large irregular stones, and most shockingly
dirty. The tops of their houses, like those of Tetuan, and other towns
in Barbary, are flat, for the purpose of recreation.

Among the remnants of several amphitheatres, there is one very nearly
entire, which is kept in constant repair at the expense of the
Emperor, and appropriated as a menagerie for lions, tigers, and
leopards. As I was contemplating it the other day, I felt at a loss to
account for this being kept in repair, while the others were suffered
to moulder into dust, unheeded, excepting a very few, and those but
partially prevented from sharing the general wreck. I had stood some
time, thus employed, when I was suddenly interrupted in my
meditations, by the sound of voices close behind me; on turning I
perceived two Jews, one of whom I knew very well, from having given
advice to some part of his family. I immediately inquired how it
happened that the building before us was so carefully preserved from
going to ruin, as happened to most of the others. He informed me, that
it was a kind of menagerie for wild beasts. "It was the same in the
time of the late Emperor," continued he; "and a very curious incident
befell one of my brethren in that place." As the narrative was not
merely very curious, but really wonderful, I cannot forbear sending
you the substance of it; as to give it you in the very circuitous way
it came to me, would be rather a tax upon your patience, particularly,
as you may not be so destitute of resources of amusement, as, I
confess, I was at that moment.

It appears, that Muley Yezid, the late Emperor, had a great and
invincible antipathy to the Jews (indeed it was but too evident in the
horrible transaction I mentioned in a former letter). An unfortunate
Israelite, having incurred the displeasure of that prince, was
condemned to be devoured by a ferocious lion, which had been purposely
left without food for twenty-four hours: when the animal was raging
with hunger, the poor Jew had a rope fastened round his waist, and in
the presence of a great concourse of people was let down into the den;
his supplications for mercy, and screams of terror, availing him
nothing. The man gave himself up for lost, expecting every moment to
be torn in pieces by the almost famished beast, who was roaring most
hideously; he threw himself on the ground in an agony of mind, much
better conceived than described. While in this attitude, the animal
approached him, ceased roaring, smelt him two or three times, then
walked majestically round him, and gave him now and then a gentle
whisk with his tail, which seemed to signify that he might rise, as he
would not hurt him; finding the man still continue motionless with
fear, he retreated a few paces, and laid himself down like a
dog. After a short time had elapsed, the Jew, recovering from his
insensibility, and perceiving himself unmolested, ventured to raise
himself up, and observing the noble animal couched, and no symptom of
rage or anger in his countenance, he felt animated with confidence. In
short, they became quite friendly, the lion suffering himself to be
caressed by the Jew with the utmost tameness. It ended with the man
being drawn up again unhurt, to the great astonishment of the
spectators. A heifer was afterwards let down, and instantly devoured.
You may be sure this story was too great a triumph on the part of the
Israelites, to pass without a number of annotations and reflections
from the narrator, all tending to prove the victory of their nation
over the heathens. For my part, I could not help thinking that there
was too much of the miraculous in it. However, I have often heard it
asserted that the lion will never touch a man who is either dead, or
counterfeits death; indeed here they tell me, that, unless pressed by
hunger or rage, it never molests a man; and they assure me even that
upon no account will these animals injure a woman, but, on the
contrary, will protect her, when they meet her at a
watering-place. This country abounds with lions, tigers, leopards, and
hyenas, which sometimes make nocturnal visits to the villages, and
spread desolation among the sheep and cattle.


_Sudden Departure from Fez--Arrive at Mequinez--Attend the
Emperor--Melancholy Catastrophe--Expedition against wild
Beasts--Extensive Palaces--Seraglio--Visit a Haram--Founders of the
City--A fortified Town--Inhabitants--Jewish Town--Rich Attire of the
higher Orders--Numerous Market-places--Furniture--Saints'
Houses--Imperial Field Sports--Pack of Greyhounds--Abundance of Game._


No doubt, my dear D----, you will be very much surprised to observe my
letter dated from this place. I assure you I had not the most distant
idea, when I wrote last, of removing so suddenly from Fez. On the
evening of the same day that I dispatched my letter to you, as I was
preparing for rest, an express arrived from the Emperor, begging me to
repair hither without delay. Concluding that nothing less than life or
death depended on my speedy arrival, I accordingly renounced the
pleasures of the drowsy god for a very uneasy seat on the back of a
mule, and at midnight set off for this place, leaving my baggage and
attendants to follow in the morning. I rode very fast all night, and
arrived here about nine o'clock the next day. When I dismounted, I was
so extremely stiff, that it was with the utmost difficulty I could
stand; I was most dreadfully fatigued, and stood in very great need of
repose; but waving all selfish considerations, I thought only of being
serviceable, and therefore lost no time in waiting on the Emperor. He
received me in the kindest and most flattering manner, and expressed
great pleasure at seeing me; but I found my patient's case not so very
urgent as I had imagined; a few hours delay would not have endangered
the life of any human being, and it would have saved _one_, some
aching bones. However, after dispatching the case in point as
expeditiously as possible, I soon made amends for my deprivation, by
indulging in a little longer repose than usual, and on awaking I felt
myself quite refreshed, and rather pleased than otherwise at finding
myself thus suddenly at Mequinez; for having before passed the road
more leisurely, and observed every thing worthy of remark, I did not
so much regret that my journey had been performed during the night.

I have been four days here, and yesterday I was called upon to attend
the captain of a band of huntsmen, who were that morning returned from
an expedition, in which they lost three of their companions, and only
succeeded in saving their chief, and bringing him to this place, by
little short of a miracle. He has been lacerated in a most dreadful
manner; his head is nearly scalped, and part of the integuments of his
arms and back inverted. His condition is certainly dangerous; but, as
he is a young and healthy subject, I do not despair of effecting his

I have learned the following particulars of this melancholy
catastrophe. About fifty resolute young men marched hence, all armed
and well stocked with ammunition and provisions, and accompanied by a
mountaineer, who acted as guide. Their primary object was to destroy
six young lions, that had committed terrible devastation in one of
their villages; compelled the inhabitants to flee precipitately; and
themselves remained sole masters of the _citadel_. After a march of
three days, they arrived at the scene of action, and succeeded in
destroying those lions; but hearing that there were more in the
neighbourhood, they prepared to encounter them also. By order of this
young man, who was chief of the company, they separated in five
divisions, and repaired to different posts on the borders of the
forest, to wait the arrival of the lions. They had not remained long,
ere the terrific roar of these animals commenced, the sound approached
nearer and nearer to their place of concealment, and one of the lions
passed close to a party, and received the fire of their pieces; the
animal darted upon them in return, before they could charge again, and
three unfortunate men fell victims to his rage. The creature finding
he had more enemies to contend with, and his wounds beginning to
smart, retreated to a cover, where he sat licking them, and meditating
another attack. He was on the point of springing on the captain, who
had approached nearer to him than the rest, when the young man
discharged his musket, the contents of which entered, and dislocated,
the lower jaw of the enraged animal. The instant the youth had fired,
he retreated with the utmost precipitation towards his companions, but
his foot unfortunately slipping, he fell prostrate between two stones:
in which position the lion assailed him; and being unable to tear him
in pieces with his teeth, in consequence of the wound in his jaw, he
made use of his tremendous paws, and would undoubtedly have destroyed
him, but for the timely assistance of his comrades. The animal was so
intent on the destruction of his enemy, that he received a close fire
from two muskets, the muzzles of which nearly touched him. He no
sooner found himself mortally wounded, than, raising the almost
lifeless man in both paws, he dashed him on the ground, and fell dead
by his side.

The man received a very severe contusion on his bead, which deprived
him of sense for some time, and is what I dread the most in his
case. His wounds were dressed by his companions in the best manner
they could, and he was brought hither. The Emperor has very liberally
rewarded him and his party, and made a handsome provision for the
widows and children of those poor fellows who fell in the
expedition. I sincerely hope this man may recover to enjoy the
munificence of his Sovereign.

I have most excellent quarters here, contiguous to one of the palaces,
and am allowed to walk or ride in the Imperial gardens, which are very
extensive. The Emperor's palaces here, are much upon the same plan,
with those at Fez, but larger. One of them is about three miles in
circumference. All the apartments are on the ground floor, and are
large long rooms, about twenty feet in height, receiving air from two
folding doors which open into a square court, with a portico round,
embellished with colonnades. The walls of the rooms are faced with
glazed tiles, and the floors paved with the same, which gives an air
of coolness and neatness, so desirable in this warm climate.

The seraglio of the Emperor, and indeed the harams of men of less
rank, are sacred. No strangers are admitted, and it is profanation in
a man to enter; but as a _tweeb_, I am privileged, and enjoy a
liberty, never granted before. The day after my arrival, His
Excellency the _Sheik_ called upon me, and requested me to go home
with him. He informed me that he had been assured, in the most
positive manner, by all the doctors, and female attendants, that his
wife had a dead child in her, and that nothing less than a miracle of
their great Prophet could save her. The poor man was very much
agitated while giving me this account. I find she is his favourite
wife, and no wonder, for she is a very lovely woman. Upon
examination, I found that what they imagined to be a dead child, is a
protuberant hardness in the region of the liver, extending nearly all
over the abdomen. The tumefaction was considered as a case of
pregnancy; and she having considerably passed her time, the child was
thought to be dead within her. I have begun a course of medicine,
which I flatter myself will entirely eradicate the disorder.

My stay was so very short, when I was here before, that I could give
you no account of the town, &c. The city of Mequinez is in the
kingdom of Fez, and thirty miles from the capital of that name. The
dynasty of _Mequinez_ were the founders of this town, which they
erected upon the ruins of the old one. Stephanus takes notice of it,
by the name of _Gilda_, and says, that it was a place of great note.
Marmol also asserts, that the present Mequinez answers in every
respect to the ancient _Gilda_. It was considerably enlarged by Muley
Ishmael, who (as well as several other Moorish princes, successively)
defended himself in this place, against the attacks of the
mountaineers. Several lines of circumvallation and intrenchments are
still to be seen.

It is surrounded with walls, and fortified by two bastions; but has no
artillery. It contains about one hundred thousand inhabitants;
twenty-five thousand of whom are Jews, who have a town of their own,
irregularly fortified, and guarded by a strong force, under the
direction of an Alcaid, who is styled the Governor of the Jews.

There is not the smallest difference, in the construction of these
houses, from those of Fez; though the inhabitants differ very
materially. The men are of a short, thick, muscular make, and swarthy
complexion, with long black beards and black eyes. The women are
excessively handsome, and remarkably fair; nor are they devoid of
neatness and elegance in their dress. They improve the beauty of their
eyes with paint.

The Moorish inhabitants of this city are all militia-men, entirely at
the disposal of the Emperor. They are excellent horsemen, expert at
the sword and lance; and with fire-arms most admirable marksmen. They
are generally considered barbarous and ferocious.

The people of distinction go about richly attired, having much gold
and silver on their clothes. They take great pains in cleaning their
teeth, combing their long beards, and keeping their nails pared
extremely close.

The streets of this town are not paved; and the soil being clay, they
must be very disagreeable in winter; for, after a heavy shower of
rain, they are almost impassable from the accumulation of mud in every
quarter. The market-places, with which this place abounds, are long,
narrow, arched or covered streets, with small shops on each side,
superintended by a Cadi, and an officer under him, for the purpose of
collecting the duties on the sale of goods, &c. The chief furniture of
the houses consists of beautiful carpets, cushions, and mattresses,
upon which they sit and lie.

In and about the neighbourhood of this place are several saints'
houses, near which no Christian, nor Jew, is allowed to pass. The most
remarkable is the _hospitium_ of Sidi-el-Marti.

The Emperor's favourite diversions, while here, are shooting and
hunting, in both of which I am told he excels. He keeps a large pack
of greyhounds, as fine as any I have seen in England. His
pleasure-grounds, and park, in the vicinity of this town, abound in
all kinds of game, hares, rabbits, and deer, and in wild boars and




I shall now give you an account of the manner in which the marriages
are invariably negotiated and conducted in this country. A female, the
confidential friend of the suitor, is dispatched to observe and report
the beauty and accomplishments of the young lady; and when those are
found to be perfectly adapted to the gentleman's taste, she is further
delegated to sound his eulogium, and by every means, such as
presenting her with valuable jewels, &c. to ingratiate him in the good
opinion of the fair one. When this curious courtship ends, by terms
being agreed upon, the destined bridegroom pays down a sum of money to
the bride, a license is taken out from the Cadi, and the parties are
married. I send you a description of a marriage-ceremony, at which I
was present the other day.

The bridegroom (who is one of the officers of the household) came out
of his house, attended by a vast number of his friends, and mounted
one of the best horses belonging to the Emperor, most curiously and
richly caparisoned. He carried his sword unsheathed, and was preceded
by a splendid standard, and a band of music; he was followed by a kind
of palanquin, supported on the shoulders of four stout black slaves, a
detachment of cavalry firing off their pieces every minute, and a
procession of relatives and friends, the whole moving with great mirth
and jollity,

Before they reached the house of the bride, the cavalcade halted, and
the bridegroom dismounted, assisted by his negro slaves, and knocked
loudly at the door three times. The lady was brought out in a covered
chair, attended by four women, completely muffled up. The whole party
of the bridegroom turned their backs, and she was smuggled into the
palanquin: they then returned in the same style to the house of her
lord, where, before she was allowed to enter, he placed himself at the
entrance, and extending his right arm across the door-way, she passed
under, as an indication of her voluntary and unconditional submission
to his will and pleasure.

After this ceremony, the bridegroom was obliged to retire to the house
of his nearest relation, where he continued three days and nights,
feasting, and receiving presents from all his male friends, while the
bride was paid the same compliments by her female acquaintance. At
the expiration of the appointed time, the gentleman returned to his
own house.

The Moors are not allowed by their law more than four wives, but they
may have as many concubines as they can maintain; accordingly, the
wealthy Moors, besides their wives, keep a kind of seraglio of women
of all colours.

From their marriages, I am insensibly led to the subject of the burial
of their dead. Not that any idea strikes me of an analogy between the
situations of a married person, and one consigned to the "_narrow
house_," as Ossian poetically styles the grave; but from a certain
succession of thought, for which one is at a loss to account. In the
burial of their dead, they are decent and pious, without pomp or
show. The corpse is attended by the relations and friends, chanting
passages from the Koran, to the mosque, where it is washed, and it is
afterwards interred in a place at some distance from the town, the
Iman, or priest, pronouncing an oration, containing the eulogy of the
deceased. The male relations express their regard by alms and prayers,
the women by ornamenting the tomb with flowers and green leaves. Their
term of mourning is the same as ours, twelve months, during which
period the widows divest themselves of every ornament, and appear
habited in the coarsest attire. Their burial-grounds are inclosed by
cypress and other dark lofty trees, the lower parts of which are
interwoven with odoriferous shrubs and creeping plants, forming an
almost impenetrable hedge. Some of their tombs are very curious,
though they exhibit specimens of the rudest architecture. There are
also several saints' houses in their burying-places, which render
them doubly sacred; and no Christian or Jew is suffered to enter, on
pain of death.

Friday being their Sabbath, the day is kept perfectly holy; all the
Moors are employed in prayer, reading the Koran, or visiting the tombs
of their departed friends.

Curiosity prompted me to go and see an assemblage of fanatics, at a
celebrated saint's house, in the neighbourhood of this town. They
were to perform many wonderful things, such as tearing a live sheep in
pieces, and devouring the flesh, fighting with wild beasts, and
several other barbarous exhibitions. These people, called in Barbary
_Free Masons_, are nothing more than a set of canting, roaring
companions, surcharged with wine and other liquors, and assembled in
this holy place, for the sole purpose of giving free vent to their
brutal passions. This society is peculiar to itself, having no
connexion with our ancient or modern Free Masons. I have however
obtained a free access to their saints' houses and secret meetings,
with permission to go any where unmolested; but I always take the
precaution to go well armed, and escorted by the Emperor's guards, as
nothing can exceed the barbarous acts of this fanatic set of people.

I am extremely happy to say, that my most sanguine expectations with
regard to the poor man, whose accident I mentioned in my last, are
realized; every unfavourable symptom has vanished, and I can safely
rely on his perfect recovery. The complaint of my female patient has
also given way to a proper course of medicine, and the Governor is one
of the happiest of men. When I announced the pleasing intelligence of
her disease being removed, he embraced me with such ecstacy that I
almost dreaded suffocation; in short, he has spared nothing that can
evince his gratitude and satisfaction, for what he terms the
inestimable benefit I have conferred upon him.

The country round this city is inexpressibly rich and beautiful, being
laid put for several miles in gardens, abounding in flowers and
fruit-trees; among the latter the vine sands pre-eminent, yielding
most delicious grapes. The air here, as in the other parts of
Barbary, is very pure and salubrious.


_Depart for Morocco--Roads dreadfully infested, by Robbers--A Tribe of
aboriginal Freebooters--Description of Morocco--Filth of the common
People--Tobacco disallowed--Justice of the Emperor_.


Since I wrote last, I have taken a trip to Morocco and back again. As
I had a great deal of leisure time, and every thing here having lost
the attraction of novelty, I determined to go further up the interior
of the country; and accordingly applied to the Emperor for permission
to visit Morocco, which he granted, but with the injunction that I
should return as quickly as possible.

I set off, accompanied by my usual guard, which I assure you I never
found so necessary as on this journey; for the rapacious spirit of the
peasantry exposed us continually to the danger of being plundered, we
were therefore obliged to keep watch alternately, to prevent our
property, perhaps our lives, becoming a prey to these wretches. The
neighbourhood of Morocco is dreadfully infested by robbers and

The inhabitants of the empire of Morocco, that are not in a military
capacity, or otherwise immediately in the service of the Emperor, are
miserably poor; and the natural indolence of their disposition
preventing them from making any laudable exertions towards gaining a
livelihood, they have recourse to every means of fraud and
violence. It is astonishing how frequently assassinations and
robberies are committed in this empire, notwithstanding the ruffians,
when detected, are punished in the most exemplary manner, by the right
hand and left foot being cut off, and the head afterwards being
severed from the body. The relations of the murderer are all fined
very heavily, and the judgment often extends to the whole village,
near which the crime had been perpetrated; yet seldom a day passes but
some daring robbery is committed, accompanied by the most wanton and
savage cruelty; the unhappy victim of the plunderer being frequently
left in the public roads in a most shocking state of mutilation.

Another ostensible cause of the dereliction of the peasantry from the
laws of humanity, may be the extreme oppression under which they
groan; as, on account of their former propensity to rebellion, they
are now ruled with a rod of iron, which in all probability has
rendered them callous, and deaf to the voice of nature. But,
independently of these occasional depredations, there is a band of
vagrants, who are actuated by no other motives, than what their own
black hearts suggest. They inhabit caves in the sides of enormous
rocky precipices, and go entirely naked: their principal food is the
flesh of wild beasts. This tribe of freebooters appears to be quite a
distinct set of people; they seem to have an invincible aversion to
the Mahometan religion, and worship the _sun_ and _fire_; they speak a
different language from the rest of the inhabitants, a mixture of
African and the _old_ Arabic; all which circumstances favour their own
report of themselves, which is, that they are the genuine descendants
of the original inhabitants. They look down upon the more civilized
Moors with contempt, and consider them as the real usurpers of their
country, and the plunderers of their property. They subsist chiefly
by rapine, and frequently throw a whole village into consternation by
their nocturnal visits; yet their cunning and dexterity are so great,
that they almost constantly elude the vigilance of justice: indeed,
they are never forced from their places of retreat (which are
inaccessible to all but themselves), but when taken, it is either in
the act of robbing, or when they venture to the markets or fairs; and
then the capture is not effected without a strong body of the

I was much disappointed on my arrival at Morocco with the appearance
of the place; for, instead of finding it, as I expected, superior to
Fez and Mequinez, I found it a large ruinous town, almost without
inhabitants. It contains, indeed, a great many mosques, caravanseras,
public baths, marketplaces or squares, and palaces of the Xeriffes,
but all in almost deplorable state of ruin. Not many years since, this
city was the Imperial residence, and contained six hundred and fifty
thousand inhabitants; but the late civil wars, and the plague, which
raged with such violence, in the beginning of the present Emperor's
reign, nearly depopulated it. In consequence of the latter melancholy
event, the court was removed to Fez and Mequinez. To this account we
may place the present desolate appearance of Morocco. The Imperial
palace is, however, kept in repair, as the Emperor goes to Morocco
annually to spend the fast-days, which are during the months of
October and November; scarcely one fourth of the other palaces and
houses are inhabited; but though this city now exhibits evident
symptoms of rapid decay, we may still form a just idea of its former
grandeur and magnificence.

The plain of Morocco is bounded by that long ridge of mountains called
_Atlas_, which screen the town from the scorching heat of the easterly
winds, while the snow, with which their summits are covered, renders
the climate more temperate than in other parts of
Barbary. Notwithstanding the salubrity of the climate of Morocco, a
residence there is rendered miserable, by the multitudes of scorpions,
serpents, gnats, and bugs, which infest the town and its

His Imperial Majesty holds a court of justice here, previous to the
commencement of the holidays, and also issues orders for a general
ablution by men, women, and children, of every class: this, no doubt,
is very necessary, as the common people seldom change their linen, and
the greater part of them are covered with vermin. During the fast they
dare not touch any food while the sun is up, and when at night they
are allowed to break their fast, they absolutely make perfect beasts
of themselves. Smoking, or chewing tobacco, and taking snuff, are
strictly prohibited, by an edict from the Emperor: the vender is
punished with the bastinado, and a confiscation of all his goods and
cattle, and the buyer with six years imprisonment.

Owing to the intense heat of the weather lately, there is a great
scarcity of water: so that we were obliged to carry it up in bags made
of goat-skin, to supply us on the road; and coming back we took the
same precaution.

When at Morocco, I was extremely anxious to visit _Mogedor_, a
sea-port town, and the island of _Erythia_, now also called Mogedor,
which island contains a castle of considerable strength, defended by a
strong garrison, stationed there chiefly, as I have been told, to
protect the gold-mines in the neighbourhood; but the distance was very
great, and my time so limited, that I could not spare a fortnight,
which it would at least have required to get there and back again. I
have been returned here two days, and, as I observed before, not so
much gratified as I expected.

As I passed one of the courts of the palace yesterday, a fellow was
receiving punishment for a robbery. The right hand and foot were
severed at the articulation, by a single blow of a large axe; the
stumps were immediately immersed in a vessel of boiling pitch; and in
this miserable condition he was turned about his business. I once
attended a man who had suffered these amputations; he soon recovered,
and, to my great surprise, instead of sorrowing for his loss, he
skipped about as nimbly as possible, and afterwards enlisted in the
police. After the fellow was turned away yesterday, a peasant, who had
walked nearly two hundred miles, presented himself before the Emperor,
to complain of the Governor of his province, for not having done him
justice in assisting him to recover a debt of about six shillings. The
Emperor listened to his grievance, issued an order to enforce the
payment of the debt, and gave the poor man a sum of money to enable
him to return home.


_Moorish Character--Form of Devotion--Meals--Revenue--Poll-tax on the
Jews--Royal Carriages--Ostrich-riding--Public Schools--Watch-dogs._


The established religion of the Moors is Mahometan. Formerly, as well
as at present, women were considered by the Moors as the mere objects
of sensuality, and only esteemed while in full bloom. At the age of
thirty, or at most forty, they were looked upon as an inferior order
of beings, and doomed to the most abject and insupportable slavery:
indeed, the latter circumstance still exists, though considerably
mitigated. No wonder then that the doctrine of Mahomet should be
cordially embraced by a people with whose inclinations it so exactly
coincided. But that part only was adopted, which indulged them in the
gratification of their wishes; that which imposed restraint was
renounced, or only nominally acceded to. And fortunate it certainly is
for the security of the neighbouring countries that they did so; as,
when formerly they were inured from infancy to all the hardships of a
warlike life, and possessed much skill in war, they were undoubtedly
very formidable; but since their conversion to Mahometanism, they have
gradually become inactive, and their natural passion for war and
conquest has changed to absolute effeminacy. The illiterate system of
the Moors has also completely shut the door against the arts and
sciences, and all knowledge of the value of a free and secure
commerce. Yet, notwithstanding this people are no longer either in
appearance or reality those fierce barbarians they once were, nor can
their actions in point of valour bear any comparison with those of
their ancestors, like them they retain a most inveterate antipathy to
all Christians; and a propensity towards cruelty, revenge, rapine, and
murder, still continues to form one of the most prominent features of
their character. However, under the comparatively mild government of
the present Emperor, their behaviour towards Christians has visibly
undergone a favourable change, which would almost persuade some to
indulge a hope of the entire annihilation of their aversion; but I am
sorry to add, that I am not so sanguine, as from accurate observation
I have been led to conclude, that nothing but an immense length of
time can overcome their habitual prejudices and constitutional

The male inhabitants of these states are obliged to attend their
places of public worship four times in the course of twenty-four
hours. The first prayer begins about half an hour before sun-rising,
and is so regulated that they may, just as the sun rises, finish eight
adorations. They pray again at noon, at sun-set, and at midnight: they
are very fervent in their devotions, and always turn their faces
towards the east: they fast three times in a year; the first time
thirty days, the next nine, and the last seven: during these fasts
they abstain from beans, garlic, and some other pulse and
vegetables. They call the Almighty, _God of Gods_, and _Lord of
Lords_; and they all believe that the souls of wicked men will be
punished till a certain period, when they will be received to mercy.

In the morning, after prayer, they drink strong tea, which they prefer
to coffee. At eleven o'clock they, go to dinner, which consists of
fruits, sweetmeats, and their favourite _cous-ca-sou_, piled up in a
large wooden bowl. Their chief meal is after their return from
evening prayer. They eat cakes made of fine wheaten flour; and as they
consider it a crime to cut bread or meat of any kind after it is
dressed, these cakes are made so thin that they may be easily broken
with the hands; and their meat, which is generally mutton or fowls, is
so prepared that they can without difficulty separate it from the
bones with their fingers. They sit cross-legged upon cushions, and
devour their food very greedily and without the least
ceremony. Although sobriety is strictly enjoined by the Mahometan law,
yet the Moorish inhabitants of the principal towns in Barbary make
free with most excellent wines and spirits of their own manufacture.

The revenues of the Emperor have of late augmented prodigiously. He
receives a tenth part of all the property of his Mahometan subjects;
and he compels every Jew residing in his dominions to pay a poll-tax
of six crowns annually. The number of Israelites subject to the
Emperor of Morocco exceeds one hundred thousand. They are strictly
guarded, and cruelly oppressed, and are not permitted to quit the
states without a special leave from the Emperor, to obtain which they
are obliged to pay down a large sum of money.

The authority of the Emperor is unlimited, as is that of his
Governors, who possess a power of life and death. No rank nor
condition of Moors is exempt from taxation, excepting the immediate
princes of the blood, and the _Xeriffes_, which are the only degrees
of nobility the Moors have. The Xeriffes are the descendants of their
monarchs, and their titles are hereditary: but the title of _Sheik_ is
temporary; so that the respect paid to the Sheiks on account of their
high situations expires with them.

Coaches, carriages, and palanquins are used only by the Emperor. I
have seen some, both here and at Fez, which are really elegant; they
are for the use of his ladies when they go to spend the day in any of
the Imperial gardens. The Emperor has several very handsome chariots,
in one of which he usually rides, drawn by six mules. The Moors ride
on horseback, attended by a number of slaves or soldiers, according to
their rank and wealth.

The princes of the blood and Xeriffes are not allowed to interfere in
any political or public business, and are never consulted in state
affairs. They are generally provided for, with sinecure places to
support their rank, but many of these are too small to enable them to
do so. The several Governors of provinces have each a large tract of
land; and the tax collected from the venders and buyers in the weekly
markets in their districts is also appropriated by them to defray the
charges of their retinue and troops. From the vast crown lands in this
country, the Emperor obtains sufficient for the expenses of the court,
household, and great officers of state; from which circumstance, and
what I have before said of his revenues, it is evident that his
coffers must be most abundantly supplied, and his annual saving in
ordinary cases very great. A detachment of troops from each province
is sent every three months to collect the tributes, which are levied
with the most unrelenting rigour. There are some vestiges of the
Caliphate government still remaining; for in places where no military
officer resides, the Mufti, or high-priest, is the fountain of all
justice; he collects the tributes, and under him the Cadis or civil
officers act in the same manner as our justices of the peace.

The general language of the country is Arabic; but in the inland
countries, in the provinces of Suz, Tafilet, and Gessula, the ancient
African language is still spoken. Those remote districts are now under
the sovereignty of the Emperor of Morocco; but I am told they contain
nothing particularly curious, except an immense number of pelicans and
ostriches, the latter so strong as to be able to carry a man upon
their backs. I one day saw a Moor riding in a court here upon one,
which he had got from those parts, and tamed for. show.

The Moors write in the manner of the Hebrew language, from right to
left; they are wonderfully expeditious in it, and their seals are very
neat. Public schools have lately been established in all the towns and
villages of these states; but, as the children are taught by their
priests, a set of superstitious and fanatic people, no great benefit,
to change or improve their manners, can accrue from such an

I believe, in a former letter I told you that the peasantry reside in
tents; I have however observed a few huts built of clay, but very
few. In the centre of both the huts and tents, there is a hole dug in
the ground, where they make a fire, with an outlet in the roof to vent
the smoke. They generally burn wood, or a species of charcoal, in the
preparation of which they contrive to deprive it of the baneful
effects usually experienced from the use of it in England. They have
mats spread round the fire, upon which they sit in the day, and sleep
at night. They are so parsimonious, that they live the greater part of
the year on fruit, vegetables, and fish, though they supply the
markets with abundance of fowls (of which they rear immense numbers),
butter, &c. &c. Their chief defence at night is their dogs; each tent
is provided with one, and they are so vigilant, that they give instant
notice of the approach of intruders; and when the alarm is
communicated to the whole of them, it is scarcely possible to conceive
the effect. The habit of the peasantry is the same both winter and
summer, and consists of a thick garment (frequently old and tattered),
a short capote, a greasy turban, and a pair of yellow slippers. They
sometimes throw round them a coarse white _haik_, which also serves
for a bed and covering in the night, as many of them lie upon the bare
ground in the open air before their tents.

In my next I shall give you a short sketch of the produce of this
fertile country.


_Face and Produce of the Empire, natural and artificial_.


The mountains (the principal of which are Mount Diur, Mount Cotta,
near the city of Larache, the mountain commonly called _Ape's Hill_,
between Tangiers and Ceuta, and that remarkable ridge called Mount
Atlas) contain mines of gold, silver, copper, and tin.

The chief capes or promontories of these states are, Cape Cottes or
Ampelusia, known to our seafaring people by the name of Cape Spartel,
the _Promontorium Herculis_, and the _Promontorium Oleastrum_, so
called from the prodigious number of wild olives growing upon it.

All the bays round the coast furnish an abundance of the most
delicious fish of every kind; and the several rivers are equally
productive. The occasional overflow of the rivers greatly enriches
and fertilizes the soil, to which, more than to their own industry
(for they never manure their grounds, and are absolute strangers to
the art of husbandry), are the Moors indebted for their plentiful
crops of wheat, Turkey corn, rye, rice, oats, barley, and grain of all

I have before told you that this country abounds in fine fruits. The
most esteemed are, oranges, grapes, pomegranates, lemons, citrons,
figs, almonds, and dates. The Moors also grow great quantities of
excellent hemp and flax. Medicinal herbs and roots are very plentiful
here. Vegetables of every kind, and melons, cucumbers, &c. thrive
exceedingly well. The grass grows spontaneously to an amazing height,
and in consequence of the fine pasturage the animals are very
prolific, cows and mares producing two at a birth, and the sheep
frequently four lambs in the year.

Among the botanical herbs, plants, and roots, are the colocynth, palma
Christi, wild and meadow saffron, the great mountain garlic, mountain
satyrion, senna, rhubarb, bastard rhubarb, balsam apple, horned poppy,
wild succory, recabilia peruviana, ipecacuanha, wild turnip, wild
radish, field mustard, Indian cress, dandelion, black winter cherry,
wild lily, hyacinth, violet, narcissus, wild rose, camomile, tulips,
and the _fleur de lis_, equal to that of Florence; with a variety of
others too numerous to describe.

The domestic animals of these states are, the horse, ass, mule, rumrah
(a beast of burden in the mountainous parts), camel, dromedary,
antelope, cow, dog, sheep, and large goat. The beasts of prey are,
lions, tigers, leopards, hyenas, and wolves. The apes are
innumerable. Deer, wild boars, hares, rabbits, ferrets, weazels,
moles, and camelions, are also found in great numbers. Horses and
cattle of all kinds are sold at very low prices.

Among the feathered tribe most common here, are, very large eagles,
hawks, partridges, quails, wild pigeons, and wild fowl of every kind,
turtle-doves, and a variety of small birds; among which the capsa
sparrow is remarkable for the elegance of its plumage and the
sweetness of its notes, in which it excels every other bird: this
beautiful little creature cannot live out of its native country. I
had almost forgotten to mention the storks and cranes, which are seen
here in great numbers, and so extremely tame, from being perfectly
unmolested, that they build their nests and rear their young in the
very centre of the towns and villages, and on the tops of the towers
of their mosques. Of the reptile kind, venomous spiders, scorpions,
vipers, and enormously large serpents, are common in Barbary.

The greatest natural curiosities of this country are the salt-pits
(which in some places are immensely large), and several hot springs,
possessing such a great degree of heat, that an egg being put in for a
short time will become quite hard. The face of the country itself is a
natural curiosity; the vallies, which are several leagues in extent,
and the mountains, which reach as far as the deserts of Suz, Tafilet,
and Gessula, interspersed with forests or corn-fields, and rich
meadows, are remarkably curious.

The artificial curiosities are very numerous, and claim the attention
of all who may visit this country. They ought properly to be divided
into two classes; in the first of which may be placed the
subterraneous cavern and passage near Tangiers; the ruins of the
amphitheatres, triumphal arches, temples, &c. erected by the
Carthaginians, Romans, and Arabs, at Fez and the several other towns
of Barbary. The country is besides all over scattered with the remains
of ditches and ramparts, evidently designed for the defence of camps,
forts, and castles, no other vestiges of which, however, can be
found. Besides these, I have observed a number of round towers, which
appear to have belonged, some to houses of religion, and others to the
palaces or residences of former rulers in this country.

In the second class, we may place the efforts of the architectural and
mechanical genius of the present inhabitants, exemplified in the
wonderful aqueducts at Morocco, which commence in Mount Atlas (by the
natives called _Gibbel-el-Hadith_), and convey water in the greatest
abundance to all the houses of the city and its environs. Nor is the
wheel at Fez, which I mentioned in a former letter, less worthy of
remark; and several mausoleums in their burial-places have been
constructed in a very costly style, the stucco of the walls being
remarkably smooth and beautiful, and as hard as marble; but these
tombs are exceptions to the general rule; for, as I have before
observed, the greater part are but rude buildings. There are many
other curiosities, which to describe minutely would fill a volume.


_Practice of Physic--Astrology--Poetry--Entertainment given by the
Author to the Moors--Their Astonishment at the Effects of


I shall now speak of their principal or rather only studies, which
are, physic, astrology, and poetry. First then of physic, to give you
an accurate idea of the extent of their knowledge in which, it will be
sufficient to describe their practice of it; and I am sure you, my
dear D----, and every other friend to humanity, will agree with me,
that it would have been better for their countrymen if they had never
attempted it at all, as unassisted nature would do more, for those
afflicted with disease, than such bunglers.

The general practice adopted by the Moorish physicians, or _Tweebs_,
is, bleeding _ad deliquium_ in all fevers; administering excessive
doses of drastic medicines, plenty of emulsions, and a watery
diet. They order vinegar in cases of quinsies and ardent fevers, and
garlic in those of a putrid, malignant, and pestilential kind. They
prescribe alum in cases of hemorrhage and dysentery; hot spices and
long abstinences in chronic diseases; recent ox-gall to kill worms and
cure dropsies; castor and myrrh in all hysteric affections; asses milk
in slow fevers and consumptions; oranges, honey, eggs, mint, and
myrrh, in cases of typhus; poppy-juice in convulsive disorders and
fluxes of the bowels; pitch or tar water and pennyroyal in common
fevers; rose-leaves in cases of diabetes; and sulphur in all cutaneous
disorders. This is the whole of the Moorish _materia medica_. In
simple diseases, where little medical ability is necessary, and the
good habit of body of these people in general contributes to their
success, they may effect a cure; but in desperate cases, where nothing
but the skill of the physician can relieve oppressed nature, it is not
astonishing that they should fail. These men are in some measure
astrologers: most probably, being gifted with a greater degree of
cunning than their neighbours, they have discovered the weak side of
their countrymen, together with their own insufficiency, to cover
which they pretend to a knowledge of the stars, which has the greatest
weight with the superstitious Moors; consequently, when a patient,
either by their improper treatment, or the violence of his disease,
evinces symptoms of approaching dissolution, the doctor, with infinite
gravity, points out to the surrounding relations the star which, he
positively asserts, appears to summon the dying man to the bosom of
his Prophet. By this means he avoids reproach, since he has made it so
evident, that the poor man's time was come, and that nothing could
ward off the shafts of destiny. This apparently wonderful faculty of
prognostication, added to their exemplary mode of living, and liberal
donations to the poor and afflicted, operating upon the minds of the
blind and fanatic Moors, induces _them_ to consider their physicians
next to their saints, and to worship _them_ with nearly as much

The Tweebs have each from two to six disciples, whom they instruct and
initiate in their secrets of the healing art. In their regular visits
to any town, they parade the streets with great pomp and gravity,
followed by a train of miserable objects, who pretend to have been
recently recovered from a long and dangerous illness by the
extraordinary skill of the doctor; while, in fact, their cadaverous
countenances and emaciated bodies seem to contradict their assertions,
and bear ample testimony that they are hurrying fast to that country,
"from whose bourne no traveller returns." Under the pretence of
charity, these poor wretches are supported by this Moorish
Aesculapius, while his views in so doing are entirely selfish; that
by their means he may better impose on the credulous, and obtain
considerable sums of money. When any one of them (by chance) effects
what he considers a great cure, it is communicated in a circular
letter to all the doctors in Barbary.

They select one of their elders every year, and appoint him to preside
over them. His business, for the time being, is to settle all their
controversies: he is the fountain of all justice among them; for as
they are looked upon to be petty saints, they are a privileged set of
men, and not in the least subject to either civil or military
jurisdiction. They possess the art of taming the monstrous serpents of
the country, and rendering them perfectly harmless: in short, their
profession is nothing but a system of the grossest empiricism.

Formerly the country could boast of having scientific astronomers;
for, like the ancient Egyptians, the inhabitants of Barbary cultivated
the science of astronomy with great success; but as it was
communicated from generation to generation by tradition only, it is
not surprising that the increasing indolence of the Moors should have
made them relinquish the more abstruse parts, and that now it is
dwindled into mere astrology. Their habitual mode of living,
frequently exposed at night, during all weathers, in the open air,
enables them without difficulty to observe the fixed stars, and their
influence on the weather, and they have thence ascribed to every one
some peculiar property, by which the events of human life, good or
bad, are regulated.

In poetry I am told the Moors are very successful. The subjects of
their poems are mostly eulogies of the great men who have belonged to
the tribe of which the poet is a member: these compositions are all
extempore, like those of our ancient bards, or those of the Celts,
spoken of by Julius Caesar, who wandered about in Gaul and other
parts of the continent with their harps. The poets of Barbary have no
settled home, but with an instrument somewhat resembling a mandolin
they wander from place to place, and house to house, composing and
singing pieces improviso, on the honour and antiquity of their
tribe. From persons acquainted with the language, I have heard, that
they are very happy in this species of poetry, which is far from
deficient in point of harmony. For myself I can say, that though
unable to enter into the spirit of it from the circumstance of not
perfectly understanding the language, yet I was much pleased with the

I shall conclude this letter with a short description of an
entertainment which I gave to several of the inhabitants of this place
a few days since. Having invited as many as I could conveniently
accommodate, I regaled them with all the most exquisite things the
market afforded. I passed the bottle pretty briskly, telling them the
liquor was a favourite decoction of mine, which they might drink
without any scruple. They did not seem to wish to doubt this
assertion; and having raised their spirits to a flow of mirth and
jollity, I told them, that, as they had done me the honour of coming
to dine with me, I would endeavour to amuse them with a small specimen
of what the doctors in England commonly make use of in certain
chronical complaints. I then placed my electric machine in the centre
of the court, and having loaded it with a sufficient quantity of
electric fluid, produced such a powerful shock to about a dozen of the
stoutest, that, either from surprise or terror, they fell apparently
senseless on the floor. The consternation and confusion which ensued
were beyond description; the rest were all retiring precipitately with
the most dreadful yells and cries imaginable, expecting to share the
fate of their companions. With much difficulty I prevailed on them to
remain, and, raising the men from the ground, I convinced them they
had received no injury; upon which they unanimously attributed it to
my great skill in magic, and loaded me with a thousand compliments, I
repeated the experiment three or four times, to their inexpressible
wonder, and I was at length almost hailed as a supernatural being. The
report of this extraordinary phenomenon soon spread abroad, and a vast
concourse of people assembled; but my guard would not allow any one to
enter without my permission. In the evening I sent for a band of
music, and my company continued dancing and rioting till morning. They
brought in several Jewish women, and carried the farce to such a
length, that I was completely rejoiced to get rid of them,
determining, in my own mind, never again to venture such another


_Prevalent Diseases--Abuse of Stimulants--Medicinal


Although the plague is not so common in these states as in Turkey and
Egypt, yet it is often brought hither by means of the caravans, and
several articles of luxury imported annually by the merchants from
Mecca and Medina; and, for want of proper precaution, it is suffered
to spread, to desolate, and to stop of its own accord; for the Moors
continue obstinately blinded by the same superstitious and absurd
notions that are entertained by the Mahometans of the Turkish empire,
of its being a punishment occasionally inflicted upon the true
believers by their angry Prophet, and that it is incurable; and here I
receive on this subject the same tales and romantic accounts that I
did during my residence in Egypt in the year 1801.

The most prevailing diseases in this country that have come under my
observation, are, cutaneous disorders of all kinds, intermittent
fevers, those of a putrid, malignant, pestilential kind, and the
puerperal fever, which proceeds from the barbarous treatment of
lying-in women in this country, as they are kept in small confined
rooms, deprived of the benefit of pure air.

One day I went to see a very fine young woman, the lady of one of the
Xeriffes. The heat of the room was intolerable. After much persuasion,
I succeeded in having her removed to a cooler one, and she recovered,
contrary to the predictions of the female attendant, who reported the
daily changes to a celebrated doctor here. It is wonderful what
numbers of young women fall victims to this fever in the course of a

Besides the above-mentioned complaints, I have observed insanity,
epilepsy, spasmodic affections of the face, ruptures of all kinds
(which last are produced by their loose kind of trowsers); nervous
consumptions, extreme debility, and dropsy, brought on by their
indolent manner of living, and the great abuses of violent doses of
drastic medicines.

The principal and opulent inhabitants of this country, in order to
excite certain desires, are frequently in the habit of receiving, from
their own doctors, several strong and powerful stimulants, to the
infallible detriment and ultimate, destruction of their
constitutions. I have been at great pains to deter them from these
abominable habits, by representing to them their ill effects and fatal
consequences; but as they all appear to have a great propensity for a
short life and a merry one, I fear my advice has been thrown away, for
I have daily the most pressing and importunate solicitations from all
classes of people, both young and old, to give them the medicines I
have alluded to:--but 1 must here be clearly understood, that
debauchery which exists in all the principal towns of this country in
a superlative degree, does not extend to the inland and mountainous
parts, where the morals are pure, and the people remarkably healthy,
strong, and robust, living to a very advanced age, and scarcely ever
afflicted with any disease excepting cutaneous disorders, to which
they are very subject. The great abuse of blood-letting on all
trifling occasions, practised by the rich inhabitants, produces very
bad effects.

There is a well in the neighbourhood of this town, which possesses a
great many medicinal virtues; and though I have not been able to
ascertain its mineral qualities, I have found, by using the water,
that it is extremely friendly to the stomach, that it excites appetite
and digestion, and lively spirits; that it is efficacious in the cure
of gravel and nephritic complaints; and in cases of foulness of the
blood, I have found it superior to any mineral waters I have met with
in Europe. It has completely cured my Jew servant of a most
inveterate scurvy, under which he had laboured for a very considerable

Notwithstanding the Moors possess this inestimable treasure near one
of their most opulent and populous cities, yet, owing to fabulous
tales, handed down by tradition from one generation to another, these
superstitious people will never drink or disturb the water; to do so
is reckoned sacrilege, and the offender is severely punished: for they
positively affirm, that one of their great saints has been transmuted
into it, and that at some distant period he will resume his natural
form, to perform a great many miracles, and to render the Moors rich
and happy, more so indeed than Mahomet has promised them in the other

While I have been here, I have had daily intercourse with the most
eminent of their Tweebs. They pay me regular morning visits,
questioning me on several points. One day I was asked by what means
health was preserved, and what produced disease in the human body; I
answered, that, "among several other remote causes, the air, by its
different constitutions, had a great effect upon the human frame: that
diseases revolve periodically, and keep time and measure exactly with
the seasons of the year; and that either health or disease depended in
some measure on the universal influence of the air, by its gravity,
heat, cold, moisture, dryness, or exhalations." They have no idea of
natural philosophy, nor of the knowledge and physiology of the air, or
how to change and destroy its bad qualities in close and confined
places. After much persuasion, I prevailed on some of them to make use
of the fuming mixture of brimstone and aromatic ingredients, in all
cases of pestilential fevers. Though this is not so efficacious as
the nitrous acid, yet it will considerably abate the progress of
contagion, and they are acquainted with the materials of the former,
whereas they have not the smallest idea of the latter.

They are perfectly ignorant of the animal and comparative anatomy, and
of physiology and pathology. They have no notion either of the nervous
fluid, or of the solids, their restriction and relaxation. They have
no other idea of the fluids than the blood, to a superabundance of
which they attribute all the diseases incident to the human body. In
the spring they recommend bleeding, to ensure a good state of health
for the remainder of the year. These Tweebs are wonderfully reserved
in all their actions.

The Moors have great faith in sorcery and witchcraft. I was called
upon to visit a young man about eighteen, who was universally believed
to be possessed by an evil spirit. His case was a confirmed
hydrophobia. I informed the people that the disease was occasioned by
the bite of a mad dog, and that the man would die in the course of the
ensuing night. I inquired the next morning, when I found that I had
judged correctly. I have also visited several young women who were
reported to have been bewitched. Some I found labouring under the last
stage of a nervous consumption; others under a dangerous and incurable
lunacy. In short, nothing can exceed the ignorance and superstition of
these deluded people.

I am afraid, my dear D----, I have trespassed on your patience, both
in this letter and the last, as nothing but physic and its
practitioners have been introduced and discussed. I have certainly
been too selfish; for, while I have been pursuing a subject the most
interesting to me from the nature of my profession, a thought never
once obtruded itself, that my friend perhaps would take no interest in
the relation. However, by way of compensation, I give you leave to
wish the Moorish physicians and their physic at the bottom of the Red
Sea, and me with them, if you choose; but I have now done with them,
and my next will, most probably, not be from Mequinez, as I think I
have a good opportunity of returning to Gibraltar.


_Depart for Gibraltar--Oppressive Heat--Robbers--Arrive at
Larache--Affray of some English Sailors--Letter from the Governor to
Lord Collingwood._

Larache, August I, 1806.

I was perfectly right in my conjectures, that you would hear no more
from me at Mequinez. Having succeeded in curing the patients under my
care, and no disease of any consequence prevailing in the country, I
thought it a favourable opportunity to request permission of the
Emperor to return to Gibraltar; and having obtained it, I set off for
this place.

On my way hither, I experienced the most dreadful inconvenience from
the heat of the weather; it was oppressive in the extreme, and I was
constantly annoyed with the sight of dead horses, mules, asses, cows,
&c. that had perished on the road, from excessive heat and want of
water. The rivers which I had observed on my way to Mequinez, and the
waters of which I had so much relished, I now found completely dried
up. We also suffered considerably from the want of fresh water, for
that we had brought with us in bags became so hot, that nothing but
the most dire necessity could have compelled us to make use of it;
fortunately we now and then met with fields full of fine water-melons,
of a most exquisite flavour: we sought them with the greatest avidity,
and obtained relief from the excessive thirst with which we were
oppressed. We were obliged to make very short stages, and to halt
every hour under the shade of some tall trees, to recover ourselves.

I have had two or three most unpleasant encounters (on my way from
Mequinez) with robbers. In the first I ran the risk of my life. It was
the sixth day after we left Mequinez, as I was loitering considerably
in the rear of my party, I was accosted by a common Moor on horseback,
who, after surveying me from head to foot, asked for a pinch of snuff,
which I gave him; then spying the gold chain of my watch, he attempted
to seize it; but I prevented him by spurring my horse and galloping
off to join my guard: the fellow fired his piece, which fortunately
missed, and gave me an opportunity of returning the compliment, and of
wounding him; when perceiving my guard coming at full speed to my
assistance, wounded as he was, he made off across the fields, and was
soon out of sight. This event (which, had I been in other
circumstances, would have had no weight with me) I frankly confess so
much agitated my spirits, already exhausted by the intense heat and
intolerable thirst under which I suffered, that I found myself unable
to proceed much further. At a little distance was a forest, and to the
shade of that we determined to repair for the rest of the day,
provided we could find a convenient spot to pitch our tents upon. We
reached it about nine o'clock in the morning: I was assisted to
dismount, and stretching myself on the burnt grass, under a clump of
olive-trees, I desired my men to look about for a place to erect our
tents. After a few minutes absence, they returned with the joyful
intelligence, that they had met with a fine spring of water, and near
it a sufficient space for our tents. This might indeed be called
resuscitation to our drooping spirits. I arose with more alertness
than I thought possible, and followed my men to this delightful
spot. My wine was expended, and we were therefore glad of a glass of
spirits and water, which completely recovered us; and we were enabled
to enjoy a good dinner, which my Jew servant prepared.

We encamped, on this spot, for the night also; and from the occurrence
of the morning, I thought it highly expedient to take every measure to
prevent a repetition. I therefore ordered two or three fires to be
kindled round our tents, and placed several sentinels about, to watch
if any one approached. Having made these arrangements, and given
strict orders to the serjeant to be on the alert, I repaired to rest;
but there certainly was some spell, to prevent my enjoying what I
stood so much in need of, a _sound_ sleep. I had retired, but a very
short time, to my tent, when I was suddenly roused by an alarm of The
robbers! the robbers! The ruffians had contrived to slip in so
privately, that, unperceived, they carried off one of my trunks, and
were in the act of mounting two of my mules, when they were
detected. They instantly made off with the trunk and mules. The
confusion among my people was much greater than was necessary, and
some time was lost in useless upbraidings.

I went out with the intention of calling the serjeant to a severe
account, when I was informed that he had just gone in pursuit with six
others. Those that remained kept vigilant watch with me the rest of
the night. At break of day our party returned. They soon came up with
the robbers, who, finding themselves so closely pursued, and likely to
be overtaken, relinquished their booty to facilitate their escape. I
had the satisfaction therefore to recover my trunk and mules. The
serjeant employed the whole of his rhetorical abilities to give weight
to the affair. I soon perceived that his account was much exaggerated,
and immediately comprehended that his drift was to obtain a reward
from me. I did not disappoint him, but ordered an extra allowance of
rum to him and the rest of the party. As you may suppose, I was very
anxious to quit a place where I had been made so uneasy, I ordered the
tents to be struck; and, after riding five hours, we halted near a
village, upon a pleasant hill about thirty miles from Larache, where
we were abundantly supplied with provisions by the Cadi. From this
place we had a most delightful prospect of the Atlantic Ocean to our
left, and, to the right and front, an extensive forest and an immense
plain of corn-fields and meadows. We set forward again at daybreak;
and by pursuing our journey in the afternoon, for it was utterly
impossible to travel in the middle of the day, we reached this city
(Larache) late in the evening.

After breakfast next morning, as I was going up to the Castle to pay
my devoirs to the worthy Governor, my attention was arrested by a
great riot in the street. Perceiving four of our sailors likely to
become the victims of an enraged multitude, I hastened to their
relief. I found that the disturbance was occasioned by their
imprudence in attempting to inspect the face of a Moorish woman. They
belonged to a Gibraltar privateer, which had just arrived at this port
to take in refreshment. Having drank too much _aguardiente_ they
imagined themselves in the streets of Gibraltar. I found no great
difficulty in prevailing on the mob not to injure them, and in
ensuring them a safe conduct back to their vessel. I recommended the
commander of the privateer to put to sea without loss of time. The
Governor not only forgave the offence, but sent plenty of fresh
provisions on board for the ship's company just as the vessel was
getting under way.

Commanders of armed vessels putting into a port of these states should
not, on any account, suffer their men to go on shore, as they are very
apt to ridicule the Moors, who are a set of people not to be trifled
with. To prevent, therefore, any unpleasant occurrences, that may tend
to lessen the high opinion which the Moors in general entertain of the
English, and in order to defeat the views of the French party, which
are incessantly directed towards forming dangerous cabals against the
interest of the British nation, some effectual means ought to be
applied. The Moors are very fickle, and their predilection may be
converted into hatred, which is exactly the point the French aim at,
to the great detriment of our fleet stationed in those seas, but
particularly to the garrison of Gibraltar, and would ultimately
involve us in an unprofitable war.

His Excellency has written to Lord Collingwood, to request a vessel to
convey me to Gibraltar; he has very handsomely given me a copy of the
letter he sent, which I inclose for your perusal.

"Larache, July 27th, 1806.


"His Imperial Majesty has been pleased to bestow on Dr. Buffa many
presents, consisting of horses, mules, &c. &c. and entertains a great
regard for him on account of the good he has done in Barbary; my Royal
Master has also been graciously pleased to give him a letter to the
King of England, intreating that the Doctor be permitted to attend the
Emperor occasionally, and to reside for the future, for that service,
at Tangiers or Gibraltar.

"In compliance with His Imperial Majesty's wishes, I have now most
earnestly to request that your Lordship will be pleased to order
Dr. Buffa a sure conveyance to the garrison of Gibraltar, and one of
His Majesty's transports to receive the presents given to him, as a
reward for his merit, and for his good and steady conduct during his
stay with us. The Doctor carries with him the good wishes of all the
Moors attached to my Royal Master; and I have the honour to assure
your Lordship, that he has daily exerted himself with me, and lately
with His Imperial Majesty, for the service of his King, and for that
of his fellow-subjects at Gibraltar. On this account alone I hope your
Lordship will, as soon as possible, afford him an opportunity to join
his family, at Gibraltar, in safety.

"I have the honour to be,

"My Lord,

"Your Lordship's

"Friend and servant,



Governor of Larache, &c. &c. &c.

_To the Right Hon. Lord Collingwood,
Admiral and Commander in Chief, &c. &c. &c._


Embark for Gibraltar--Precautionary Hints.


In compliance with the request of the Governor of Larache, His
Majesty's hired armed ship the Lord Eldon was ordered by Lord
Collingwood to convey me to this place. She arrived at Larache about a
week after I wrote last. The bar unfortunately proved so bad, that she
was obliged to drop her anchor on the outside; and the Captain,
conceiving it an unsafe anchorage, pressed me to repair on board
without delay, which I did, after taking a long farewell of my noble
friend the Governor, who, with tears in his eyes, embraced me, and
otherwise evinced his infinite regret and true friendship.

We embarked all my horses, mules, &c. &c. without any accident, and
immediately after set sail for Tangiers. I cannot find words to
describe the interesting, curious, and romantic appearance of the
Barbary coast, from Larache to Tangiers, when viewed from the sea. I
took my station on the quarter-deck, and, as we sailed close in shore,
my curiosity was fully gratified. There are several small bays and
creeks along this coast, which unfortunately afford shelter to the
enemy's privateers, where, in perfect security, they remain concealed,
watching an opportunity to come out and seize any of our straggling
vessels that have either separated from, or are waiting for convoy to
enter the Straits.

It is a great pity that the number of our gun-boats at this port
(Gibraltar) is so limited, as a larger number of them, and a few other
small vessels kept in readiness here, and well appointed, would
protect our commerce, and prevent our suffering so much from the
Spanish boats, and several small French cruizers, which infest this
part of the world, and almost daily capture some of our merchantmen,
which they carry into Algesiras in sight of this garrison.


No. I.

Copy of a Letter from JOHN TURNBULL, Esquire, Chairman to the Board of
Trade, to E. COOKE, Esquire, Under Secretary of State, &c. &c. &c.


In my capacity of General Chairman of the Merchants trading to the
Mediterranean, and in consequence of the commercial relations which I
have long maintained with Gibraltar, I think it my duty to submit,
with great deference, to the consideration of Lord Castlereagh certain
observations respecting the late dreadful calamity, which afflicted
that garrison. The great mortality which then prevailed, and which
carried off almost the whole of the civil inhabitants, was in a great
degree to be imputed to the want of medical assistance for the poorer
classes of the people, who are chiefly foreigners. The physicians and
surgeons attached to the army, had every moment of their time fully
occupied by the care of the troops immediately under their charge. If
even they could have spared a little attention to the miserable
objects just mentioned, it could probably have produced but a very
inadequate effect. As the medical gentlemen could not be supposed to
be acquainted with the various foreign dialects that these people
could only make use of, they were therefore obliged to be abandoned to
their fate; and by their numerous deaths, and the intercourse they had
with one another, necessarily occasioned a deplorable increase of
contagion. It is therefore respectfully suggested, that, as the return
of such a disorder ought at any rate to be guarded against, it would
be highly desirable, that a medical gentleman, conversant with the
languages of the southern parts of Europe, should be appointed as
physician to the civil inhabitants of Gibraltar, and for their express
and immediate care. There is now in London, a gentleman (Doctor
Buffa), Physician to His Majesty's Forces, who appears to be
peculiarly well qualified for such an appointment. He is possessed of
superior medical abilities, and particularly in the disorders of the
plague and yellow-fever, in the treatment of which he has had much
experience and success; and having been born in Piedmont, he is well
acquainted with the southern languages of Europe. If Lord Castlereagh
should be pleased to approve of Doctor Buffa being placed at
Gibraltar, in the situation which I have taken the liberty to suggest,
it would occasion no extraordinary expense to Government, Doctor Buffa
being now one of the Physicians to the Army, and might eventually be
productive of the most beneficial effects.

I have the honour to be, most respectfully,
Your most obedient and
Most humble servant,

Guilford Street, 5th August 1805.

E. Cooke, Esq.
&c. &c. &c.

No. II.

Letter from the Secretary of the Transport Board to Dr. BUFFA.

Transport Office, 16th October 1805.


I am directed by the Board to acquaint you, that a passage to
Gibraltar has been provided for yourself, Mrs. Buffa, your family and
brother-in-law, on board the Active transport; and that you may embark
on board that ship at Deptford immediately.

I am further directed to add, that it will be necessary for you to
find your own provisions.

I am, Sir,
Your most obedient servant,
A. WHITEHEAD, Secretary.

_To Dr. Buffa,
&c. &c. &c._

No. III.

Extract of a Letter from JOHN TURNBULL, Esq. Chairman of the
Committee of Merchants trading to the Levant, &c. to Dr. BUFFA.


On your arrival at Gibraltar, I was favoured with two letters from
you; but have not since had the pleasure of hearing from you. Nor have
I written to you, as, notwithstanding the unremitting endeavours, and
the constant attention, on every occasion, of His Royal Highness and
myself, it has not been in our power to do any thing effectual to
serve you. The Medical Board _continue to give all the opposition that
they possibly can_, and made a very unfavourable report, in
consequence of a strong representation that I made in your favour to
Mr. Windham.

London, 7th July 1806.

No. IV.

Extract of a Letter from JOHN ROSS, Esq. Acting
Consul General at Tangiers, to Dr. BUFFA.

Friday, 7th May 1806.


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