Travels in Morocco, by James Richardson

Chapter 2

The Maroquine dynasties. — Family of the Shereefian Monarchs. — Personal appearances and character of Muley Abd Errahman. — Refutation of the charge of human sacrifices against the Moorish Princes. — Genealogy of the reigning dynasty of Morocco. — The tyraufc Yezeed, (half Irish). — Muley Suleiman, the “The Shereeff of Shereefs.” — Diplomatic relations of the Emperor of Morocco with European Powers. — Muley Ismael enamoured with the French Princess de Conti. — Rival diplomacy of France and England near the Maroquine Court. — Mr. Hay’s correspondence with this Court on the Slave-trade. — Treaties between Great Britain and Morocco; how defective and requiring amendment. — Unwritten engagements.

Morocco, an immense and unwieldly remnant of the monarchies formed by the Saracens, or first Arabian conquerors of Africa, has had a series of dynasties terminating in that of the Shereefs.

1st. The Edristees (pure Saracens,) their capital was Fez, founded by their great progenitor, Edrio. The dynasty began in A.D. 789, and continued to 908.

2nd. The Fatamites (also Saracens.) These conquered Egypt, and were the faction of or lineal descendants of the daughter of the Prophet, the beautiful pearl-like Fatima, succeeding to the above: this dynasty continued to 972.

3rd. The Zuheirites (Zeirities, or Zereids) were usurpers of the former conquerors; their dynasty terminated in 1070.

4th. Moravedi (or Marabouteen,) that is to say, Marabouts, 41 who rose into consequence about 1050, and their first prince was Aberbekr Omer El Lamethounx, a native of Sous. Their dynasty terminated in 1149.

5th. The Almohades. These are supposed to be sprung from the Berber tribes. They conquered all North Western Morocco, and reigned about one hundred years, the dynasty terminated in 1269.

6th. The Merinites. These in 1250 subjugated the kingdoms of Fez and Morocco; and in 1480 their dynasty terminated with the Shereef.

7th. The Oatagi (or Ouatasi) 42 were a tribe of obscure origin. In their time, the Portuguese established themselves on the coast of Morocco; their dynasty ended in 1550.

8th. The Shereefs (Oulad Ali) of the present dynasty, whose founder was Hasein, have now occupied the Imperial throne more than three centuries. This family of Shereefs came from the neighbourhood of Medina in Arabia, and succeeded to the empire of Morocco by a series of usurpations. They are divided into two branches, the Sherfah Hoseinee, so named from the founder of the dynasty, who began to reign at Taroudant and Morocco in 1524, and over all the empire in 1550, and the Sherfah El Fileli, or Tafilett, whose ancestor was Muley Shereef Ben Ali-el-Hoseinee, and assumed sovereign power at Tafilett in 1648, from which country he extended his authority over all the provinces of that empire. Thus the Shereefs began their reign in the middle of the seventeenth century, and have now wielded the sword of the Prophet as Caliph of the West these last two hundred years. I have not heard that there is anywhere a dynasty of Shereefs except in this country. They are, therefore, profoundly venerated by all true Mussulmen. It was a great error to suppose that Abd-el-Kader could have succeeded in dethroning the Emperor during the hostilities of the Emir against the lineal representative of the Prophet. Abd-el-Kader is a marabout warrior, greatly revered and idolized by all enthusiastic Mussulmen throughout North Africa, more especially in Morocco, the terre classique of holy-fighting men; but though the Maroquines were disaffected, groaning under the avarice of their Shereefian Lord, and occasionally do revolt, nevertheless they would not deliberately set aside the dynasty of the Shereefs, the veritable root and branch of the Prophet of God, for an adventurer of other blood, however powerful in arms and in sanctity.

Morocco is the only independent Mussulman kingdom remaining, founded by the Saracens when they conquered North Africa. Tunis and Tripoli are regencies of the Port of Tunis, having an hereditary Bey, while Tripoli is a simple Pasha, removable at pleasure. Algeria has now become an integral portion of France by the Republic.

Muley Abd Errahman was nominated to the throne by the solemn and dying request of his uncle, Muley Suleiman, to the detriment of his own children.

He belonged to one of the most illustrious branches of the reigning dynasty. In the natural order of succession, he ought to have taken possession of the Shereefian crown at the end of the last age; but, being a child, his uncle was preferred; for Mahometan sovereigns and empire are exposed to convulsions enough, without the additional dangers and elements of strife attendant on regencies.

In transmitting the sceptre to him, Muley Suleiman, therefore, only performed an act of justice.

Muley Abd Errahman, during his long reign, rendered the imperial authority more solid than formerly, and established a species of conservative government in a semi-barbarous country, and exposed to continual commotions, like all Asiatic and African states. In governing the multitudinous and heterogeneous tribes of his empire, his grand maxim has ever been, like Austria, with her various states and hostile interests of different people, “Divide et empera.” When will sovereigns learn to govern their people upon principles of homogenity of interests, natural good will, and fraternal feeling? Alas! we have reason to fear, never. It seems nations are to be governed always by setting up one portion of the people against the other.

Muley Abd Errahman was chosen by his uncle, on account of his pacific and frugal habits, educated as he was by being made in early life the administrator of the customs in Mogador, and as a prince likely to preserve and consolidate the empire. The anticipations of the uncle have been abundantly realized by the nephew, for Muley Abd Errahman, with the exception of the short period of the French hostilities, (which was not his own work and happened in spite of him), has preserved the intact without, and quiet during the many years he has occupied the throne.

His Moorish Majesty, who is advanced in life, is a man of middle stature. He has dark and expressive eyes, and, as already observed, is a mulatto of a fifth caste. Colour excites no prejudices either in the sovereign or in the subject. This Emperor is so simple in his habits and dress, that he can only be distinguished from his officers and governors of provinces by the thall, or parasol, the Shereefian emblem of royalty. The Emperor’s son, when out on a military expedition, is also honoured by the presence of the Imperial parasol, which was found in Sidi Mohammed’s tent at the Battle of Isly. Muley Abd Errahman is not given to excesses of any kind, (unless avarice is so considered), though his three harems of Fas, Miknas, and Morocco may be stocked, or more politely, adorned, with a thousand ladies or so, and the treasures of the empire are at his disposal. He is not a man of blood; 43 he rarely decapitates a minister or a governor, notwithstanding that he frequently confiscates their property, and sometimes imprisons them to discover their treasures, and drain them of their last farthing. The Emperor lives on good terms with the rest of his family. He has one son, Governor of Fez (Sidi Mohammed), and another son, Governor of Rabat. The greater part of the royal family reside at Tafilett, the ancient country of the Sherfah, or Shereefs, and is still especially appropriated for their residence. Ali Bey reported as the information of his time, that there were at Tafilett no less than two thousand Shereefs, who all pretended to have a right to the throne of Morocco, and who, for that reasons enjoyed certain gratifications paid them by the reigning Sultan. He adds that, during an interregnum, many of them took up arms and threw the empire into anarchy. This state of things is happily past, and, as to the number of the Shereefs at Tafilett, all that we know is, there is a small fortified town, inhabited entirely by Shereefs, living in moderate, if not impoverished circumstances.

The Shereefian Sultans of Morocco are not only the successors of the Arabian Sovereigns of Spain, but may justly dispute the Caliphat with the Osmanlis, or Turkish Sultans. Their right to be the chiefs of Islamism is better founded than the pretended Apostolic successors at Rome, who, in matters of religion, they in some points resemble.

I introduce here, with some unimportant variations, a translation from Gräberg de Hëmso of the Imperial Shereefian pedigree, to correspond with the genealogical tableaux, which the reader will find in succeeding pages, of the Moorish dynasties of Tunis and Tripoli.


1. Ali–Ben-Abou–Thaleb; died in 661 of the Christian Era; surnamed “The accepted of God,” of the most ancient tribe of Hashem, and husband of Fatima, styled Ey–Zarah, or, “The Pearl,” only daughter of Mahomet.

2. Hosein, or El–Hosein-es-Sebet, i.e. “The Nephew;” died in 1680; from him was derived the patronymic El–Hoseinee, which all the Shereefs bear,

3. Hasan-el-Muthna, i.e. “The Striker;” died in 719; brother of Mohammed, from whom pretended to descend, in the 16th degree, Mohammed Ben Tumert, founder of the dynasty of the Almohadi, in 1120.

4. Abdullah-el-Kamel, i.e. “The Perfect;” in 752, father of Edris, the progenitor or founder of the dynasty of the Edristi in Morocco, and who had six brothers.

5. Mohammed, surnamed “The pious and just soul;” in 784, had five children who were the branches of a numerous family. (Between Mohammed and El–Hasem who follows, some assert that three gererations succeeded).

6. El–Kasem, in 852; brother of Abdullah, from whom it is said the Caliphs of Egypt and Morocco are descended.

7. Ismail; about 890.

8. Ahmed; in 901.

9. El–Hasan; in 943.

10. Ali; in 970, (excluded from the genealogy published by Ali Bey, but noted by several good authorities).

11. Abubekr; 996.

12. El–Husan, in 1012.

13. Abubekr El–Arfat, i.e. “The Knower,” in 1043.

14. Mohammed, in 1071.

15. Abdullah, in 1109.

16. Hasan, in 1132; brother of a Mohammed, who emigrated to Morocco.

17. Mohammed, in 1174.

18. Abou-el-Kasem Abd Errahman, in 1207.

19. Mohammed, in 1236.

20. El–Kaseru, in 1271, brother of Ahmed, who also emigrated into Africa, and was father of eight children, one of whom was:

21. El–Hasan, who, in 1266, upon the demand of a tribe of Berbers of Moghrawa, was sent by his father into the kingdom of Segelmesa (now Tafilett) and Draha, where, through his descendants, he became the common progenitor of the Maroquine Shereefs.

22. Mohammed, in 1367.

23. El–Hasan, in 1391, by his son, Mohammed, he became grandfather of Hosem, who, during 1507, founded the first dynasty of the Hoseinee Shereefs in Segelmesa, and the extreme south of Morocco, which dynasty, after twelve years, made itself master of the kingdom of Morocco.

24. Ali-es-Shereef, i.e. “The noble,” died in 1437, was the first to assume this name, and had, after forty years elapsed, two sons, the first, Muley Mahommed, by a concubine, and the second:

25. Yousef, by a legitimate wife; he retired into Arabia, where he died in 1485. It was said of Yousef, that no child was born to him until his eightieth year, when he had five children, the first born of which was,

26. Ali, who died in 1527, and had at least, eighty male children.

27. Mohammed, in 1691, brother of Muley Meherrez, a famous brigand, and afterwards a king of Tafilett: this Mohammed was father of many children, and among the rest —

28. Ali, who was called by his uncle from Zambo (?) into Moghrele-el-Aksa Morocco about the year 1620, and died in 1632, after having founded the second, and present, dynasty of the Hoseinee Shereefs, surnamed the Filei,

29. Muley Shereeff, died in 1652; he had eighty sons, and a hundred and twenty-four daughters.

30. Muley Ismail, in 1727.

31. Muley Abdullah, in 1757.

32. Sidi Mohammed, in 1789.

33. Muley Yezeed, who assumed the surname of El–Mahdee i.e. “the director,” in 1792.

34. Muley Hisham, in 1794.

35. Muley Suleiman, in 1822.

36. Muley Abd Errahman, nephew of Muley Suleiman and eldest son of Muley Hisham, the reigning Shereefian prince. 44

In the Shereefian lineage of Muley Suleiman, copied for Ali Bey by the Emperor himself, and which is very meagre and unsatisfactory, we miss the names of the two brothers, the Princes Yezeed and Hisham, who disputed the succession on the death of their father, Sidi Mohammed which happened in April 1790 or 1789, when the Emperor was on a military expedition to quell the rebellion of his son, Yezeed — the tyrant whose bad fame and detestable cruelties filled with horror all the North African world. The Emperor Suleiman evidently suppressed these names, as disfiguring the lustre of the holy pedigree; although Yezeed was the hereditary prince, and succeeded his father three days after his death, being proclaimed Sultan at Salee with accustomed pomp and magnificence. This monster in human shape, having excited a civil war against himself by his horrid barbarities, was mortally wounded by a poisoned arrow, shot from a secret hand, and died in February 1792, the 22nd month of his reign, and 44th year of his age.

On being struck with the fatal weapon, he was carried to his palace at Dar-el-Beida, where he only survived a single day; but yet during this brief period, and whilst in the agony of dissolution, it is said, the tyrant committed more crimes and outrages, and caused more people to be sacrificed, than in his whole lifetime, determining with the vengeance of a pure fiend, that if his people would not weep for his death they should mourn for the loss of their friends and relations, like the old tyrant Herod. How instinctively imitative is crime! Yezeed was of course, not buried at the cross-roads, (Heaven forefend!) or in a cemetery for criminals and infidels, for being a Shereef, and divine (not royal) blood running in his veins, he was interred with great solemnities at the mosque of Kobah Sherfah (tombs of the Shereefs), beside the mausoleums wherein repose the awful ashes of the princes and kings, who, in ages gone by, have devastated the Empire of Morocco, and inflicted incalculable miseries on its unfortunate inhabitants, whilst plenarily exercising their divine right, to do wrong as sovereigns, or as invested with inviolable Shereefian privileges as lineal successors of the Prophets of God! 45

A civil war still followed this monster’s death, and the empire was rent and partitioned into three portions, in each of which a pretender disputed for the possession of the Shereefian throne. The poor people had now three tyrants for one. The two grand competitors, however, were Muley Hisham, who was proclaimed Sultan in the south at Morrocco and Sous, and Muley Suleiman, who was saluted as Emperor in the north at Fez. In 1795, Hisham retired to a sanctuary where he soon died, and then Muley Suleimau was proclaimed in the southern provinces Emir-el-Monmeneen, and Sultan of the whole empire.

Muley Suleiman proved to be a good and patriotic prince, “the Shereef of Shereefs,” whilst he maintained, by a just administration, tranquility in his own state, and cultivated peace with Europe. During his long reign of a quarter of a century, at a period when all the Christian powers were convulsed with war, he wisely remained neutral, and his subjects were happy in the enjoyment of peace and prosperity. He died on the 28th March 1820, about the 50th year of his age, after having, with his last breath declared his nephew, Muley Abd Errahman, the legitimate and hereditary successor of the Shereefs, and so restoring the lineal descent of these celebrated Mussulman sovereigns. The most glorious as well as the most beneficent and acceptable act of the reign of Muley Suleiman, so far as European nations were concerned, was the abolition of Christian slavery in his States. In former times, the Maroquine Moors, smarting under the ills inflicted upon them by Spain and breathing revenge, subjected their Christian captives to more cruel bondage, than, ever were experienced by the same victims of the Corsairs in Algeria, the stronghold of this nefarious trade.

The Shereefs have been accustomed to wrap themselves up in their sublime indifference, as to the fate and fortunes of Europe. During late centuries, their diplomatic intercourse with European princes has been scarcely relieved by a single interesting event, beyond their piratical wars and our complaisant redemptions of their prisoners. But, in the reign of Louis XIV., Muley Ismail having heard an extremely seductive account of the Princesse de Conti (Mademoiselle de Blois), natural daughter of the Grand Monarch and Mademoiselle de la Valliere, by means of his ambassador, Abdullah Ben Aissa, had the chivalrous temerity to demand her in marriage. “Our Sultan,” said the ambassador, “will marry her according to the law of God and the Prophet, but she shall not be forced to abandon her religion, or manner of living; and she will be able to find all that her heart desires in the palace of my sovereign — if it please God.”

This request, of course, could not be granted, but the “king of Christian kings” replied very graciously, “that the difference alone of religion prevented the consummation of the happiness of the Shereef of Shereefs.” This humble demand of the hand of the princess mightily amused “the Court of Courts,” and its hireling poets taxed their wit to the utmost in chanting the praises of the royal virgin, who had attacked the regards (or the growls) of the Numidian Tiger, as Muley Ismail was politely designated. Take this as a specimen, —

“Votre beauté, grande princesse,
Porte les traits dont elle blesse
Jusques aux plus sauvages lieux:
L’Afrique avec vous capitule,
Et les conquêtes de vos yeux
Vont plus loin que celles d’Hercule.”

The Maroquine ambassador, who was also grand admiral of the Moorish navy, witnessing all the wonders of Paris at the epoch of the Great Monarch, was dazzled with its beauty and magnificence; nevertheless, he remained a good Mussulman. He was besides a grateful man, for he saw our James II. in exile, who had given the admiral liberty without ransom when he had been captured by English cruisers, and heartily thanked the fallen prince for his own freedom whilst he condoled with him in his misfortunes. But the Moorish envoy, in spite of his great influence, was unable to conclude the treaty of peace, which was desired by France. On his return to Morocco, the ambassador had so advanced in European ideas of convenience, or civilization, that he attempted to introduce a taste for Parisian luxury among his own countrymen.

As in many other parts of the Mediterranean, France and England have incessantly contended for influence at the Court of Morocco. Various irregular missions to this Court have been undertaken by European powers, from the first establishment of the Moorish empire of the West. The French entered regularly into relations with the western Moors shortly after us; their flag, indeed, began to appear at their ports in 1555, under Francis I. They succeeded in gaining the favour of the Moors whilst we occupied Tangier, and Louis XIV. encouraged them in their efforts to attack or harass our garrison. The nature of our struggles with the Moors of Morocco can be at once conjectured from the titles of the pamphlets published in those times, viz.

Great and bloody news of Tangier,” (London 1680), and “The Moors blasted, being a discourse concerning Tangier, especially when it was under the Earl of Teviot,” (London, 1681). But, after the peace of Utrecht, conceding Gibraltar to England, and which more than compensated us for the loss of Tangier, the influence of France in Morocco began to wane, and the trade of this empire was absorbed by the British during the 18th century. Then, in the beginning of our own age, the battle of Trafalgar, and the fall of Napoleon, established the supremacy of British influence over the minds of the Shereefs, which has not been yet entirely effaced.

Our diplomatic intercouse has been more frequent and interesting with the Western Moors since the French occupation of Algeria, and we have exerted our utmost to neutralize the spirit of the war party in Fez, seconding the naturally pacific mind of Muley Abd Errahman, in order to remove every pretext of the French for invading this country. How we succeeded in a critical period will be mentioned at the close of the present work. 46 But this port, and our influence receiving thereby a great shock, I am happy to state that the latest account from this most interesting Moorish country, represents Muley Abd Errahman as steadily pursuing, by the assistance of his new vizier, Bouseilam, the most pacific policy. This minister, being very rich, is enabled to consolidate his power by frequent presents to his royal master, thus gratifying the most darling passion of Muley Abd Errahman, and Vizier and Sultan amuse themselves by undertaking plundering expeditions against insurrectionary tribes, whose sedition they first stimulate, and then quell, that is to say, by receiving from the unlucky rebels a handsome gratification.

The late Mr. Hay entered into a correspondence with the Shereefian Court for the purpose of drawing its attention to the subject of the slave-trade, and I shall make an extract or two from the letters, bearing as they do on my present mission.

From three letters addressed by the Sultan to Mr. Hay, I extract the following passages. “Be it known to you, that the traffic in slaves is a matter on which all sects and nations have agreed from the time of the sons of Adam, (on whom be the peace of God up to this day). And we are not yet aware of its being prohibited by the laws of any sect, and no one need ask this question, the same being manifest to both high and low, and requires no more demonstration than the light of the day.”

The Apostle of God is quoted as enforcing upon the master to give his slave the same clothing as himself, and not to exact more labour from him than he can perform.

Another letter. “It has been prohibited to sell a Muslem, the sacred misshaf, and a young person to an unbeliever,” that is to any one who does not profess the faith of Islam, whether Christian, Jew, or Majousy. To make a present, or to give as in alms is held in the same light as a sale. The said Sheikh Khalil also says, “a slave is emancipated by the law if ill-treated, that is, whether he intends or does actually ill-treat him. But whether a slave can take with him what he possesses of property or no, is a matter yet undecided by the doctors of the law.”

Another. “Be it known to you, that the religion of Islam — may God exalt it! has a solid foundation, of which the corner stones are well secured, and the perfection whereof has been made known to us by God, to whom belongs all praise in his book, the Forkam (or Koran,) which admits neither of addition nor diminution. As regards the making of slaves and trading therewith, it is confirmed by our book, as also of the Sunnat (or traditions) of our Prophet. There is no controversy among the Oulamma (doctors) on the subject. No one can allow what is prohibited or prohibit that which is lawful.”

These extracts shew the animus of the Shereefian correspondence. To attack the Shereefs on this point of slavery, is to besiege the citadel of their religion, or that is the interpretation which they are pleased to put upon the matter; but all forms of bigotry and false principles will ultimately succumb to the force of truth.

It is necessary to persevere, to persevere always, and the end will be obtained.

I shall add a word or two on our treaties, or capitulations, as they are disgracefully called, with the Empire of Morocco, intimating, as they do, our former submission to the arrogant, piratical demands of the Barbary Powers in the days of their corsair glory. Our political relations with Morocco officially commenced in the times of Elizabeth, or Charles I; but the formal treaty of peace was not concluded until the last year of the reign of George I, which was ratified in 1729 by George II, and by the Sultan Muley Ahmed-elt-Thabceby “The golden.” Then followed various other treaties for the security of persons and trade, and against piracy. All, however, of any value, are embodied in the treaty between Great Britain and Morocco, signed at Fez, 14th June 1801, and confirmed, 19th January 1824 by the Sultan Muley Suleiman, which is considered as still in force, and from which I shall extract two or three articles, appending observations, for the purpose of shewing its spirit and bearing on European commerce and civilization. Common sense tells us that trade can only flourish where there is security for life and property. We have to examine, whether this security is fully guaranteed to British subjects, residing in and trading with the empire to Morocco, by the treaty of 1801 and 1824.

This treaty begins with consuls, and sufficiently provides for their honour and safety. It then states the privilege of British subjects, and more particulary of merchants, residing in, and wishing to engage in commercial speculations in Morocco. These privileges are, on the whole, also explicitly stated. Afterwards follows two articles on “disputes,” which clauses were amended and explained in January 1824, when the treaty was confirmed. These are:—

“VII. Disputes between Moorish subjects and English subjects, shall be decided in the presence of the English Consuls, provided the decision be comformable to the Moorish law, in which case the English subject shall not go before the Kady or Hakem, as the Consul’s decision shall suffice.

“VIII. Should any dispute occur between English subjects and Moors, and that dispute should occasion a complaint from either of the parties, the Emperor of Morocco shall only decide the matter. If the English subject be guilty, he shall not be punished with more severity than a Moor would be; should he escape, no other subject of the English nation shall be arrested in his stead, and if the escape be made after the decision, in order to avoid punishment, he shall be sentenced as a Moor would be who had committed the same crime. Should any dispute occur in the English territories, between a Moor and an English subject, it shall be decided by an equal number of the Moors residing there and of Christians, according to the custom of the place, if not contrary to the Moorish law.”

In the amended clause of Article VIII. We have for any complaint, substituted serious personal injury, and I cannot but observe that the making of the Emperor the final judge, in such case, is a stretch of too great confidence in Moorish justice.

Not that a Sultan of Morocco is necessarily bad or worse than an European Sovereign, but because a personage of such power and character, armed with unbounded attributes of despotism over his own subjects, who are considered his Abeed, or slaves, whilst feebly aided by the perception of the common rights of men, and imperfectly acquainted with European civilization, can never, unless, indeed by accident or miracle, justly decide upon the case of an Englishman, or upon a dispute between his own and a foreign subject; for besides the ideas and education of the Emperor, there is the necessity which his Imperial Highness feels, despot as he is, of exhibiting himself before his people as their undoubted friend and partial judge.

So strongly have Sultans of Morocco felt this, that many anecdotes might be cited where the Emperor has indemnified the foreigner for injury done to him by his own subjects, whilst he has represented to them that he has decided the case against the stranger. It is surprising how a British Government could surrender the settlement of the dispute of their subjects to the final appeal of the Court of Morocco in the nineteenth century, and, moreover, allow them to be decided, according to the maxims of the Mohammedan code, or comformable to the Moorish law! It is not long ago since, indeed just before my arrival in Morocco, that the Emperor decided a dispute in rather a summary manner, without even the usual Moorish forms of judicial proceedure by decapitating, a quasi — European Jew, under French protection, and who once acted as the Consul of France.

There is something singularly deficient and wrong, although to persons unacquainted with Barbary, it looks sufficiently fair and just, in the provision — “he (the English guilty subject) shall not be punished with more severity than a Moor could be,” fairly made? In the first place, although this does not come under the idea of “serious personal injury,” would the English people approve of their countrymen suffering the same punishment as the Moors for theft, by cutting off their right hand? Moors and Arabs have been so maimed for life, on being convicted of stealing property to the value of a single shilling! Who will take upon himself to enumerate the punishments, which may be, and are inflicted for grave offences? It may be replied that this stipulation of punishing British subjects, like Moorish, is only on paper, and we have no examples of its being put into execution. I rejoin, without attempting to cite proof, that, whilst such an article exists in a treaty, said to be binding on the Government of England as well as Morocco, there can be no real security for British subjects in this country; for in the event of the Maroquines acting strictly upon the articles of this treaty, what mode of inculpation, or what colour of right, can the British Government adopt or shew against them? and what are treaties made for, if they do not bind both parties?

In illustration of the way in which British subjects have their disputes sometimes settled, according to Articles VII and VIII, I take the liberty of introducing the case of Mr. Saferty, a respectable Gibraltar merchant, settled at Mogador. A few months before my arrival in that place, this gentleman was adjudged, in the presence of his Consul, Mr. Willshire, and the Governor of Mogador, for repelling an insult offered to him by a Moor, and sentenced to be imprisoned with felons and cut-throats in a horrible dungeon. However, Mr. Saferty was attended by a numerous body of his friends; so when the sentence was given, a cry of indignation arose, a scuffle ensued, and the prisoner was rescued from the Moorish police-officers. Mr. Willshire found the means of patching up the business with the Moorish authorities, and the case was soon forgotten. “All’s well that ends well.”

I do not say that the Moors are determinedly vindictive, or seek quarrels with Europeans; on the contrary, I believe the cause of the dispute frequently rests with the European, and the bonâ-fide agressor, some adventurer whose conduct was so bad in his own country, that he sought Barbary as a refuge from the pursuit of the minister of justice. What I wish to lay stress on is, the enormous power given to the Emperor, by a solemn treaty, in making him the final judge, and the imminent exposure of British subjects to the barbarous punishments of a semi-civilized people.

Article X is a most singular one. “Renegades from the English nation, or subjects who change their religion to embrace the Moorish, they being of unsound mind at the time of turning Moors, shall not be admitted as Moors, and may again return to their former religion; but if they afterwards resolve to be Moors, they must abide by their own decision, and their excuses will not be accepted.”

It was a wonderful discovery of our modern morale, that a renegade, being a madman, should not be considered a renegade in earnest, or responsible for his actions. Nevertheless, these unfortunate beings, should they have better thoughts, or as mad-doctors have it, “a lucid interval,” and leave the profession of the Mahometan faith, and afterwards again relapse into madness, and turn Mahometans once more, are doomed to irretrievable slavery, or if they relapse, to death itself; the Mahometan law, punishes relapsing renegades with death. This curious clause says, “that though being madmen, they must abide their decision (of unreason) and their excuses will not be accepted.” This said article was confirmed as late as the year 1824 by the plenipotentiary of a nation, which boasts of being the most free and civilized of Europe, and whose people spend annually millions for the conversion of the heathen, and the extinction of the slave-trade.

The last clause of Article IV also demands our attention, viz. “And if any English merchant should happen to have a vessel in or outside the port, he may go on board himself, or any of his people, without being liable to pay anything whatever.”

Now in spite of this (but of course forgotten) stipulation, the merchants of Mogador are not permitted to visit their own vessels, nor those of other persons which may happen to be in or outside the port. It is true, the authorities plead the reason of their refusal to be, “The merchants are indebted to the Emperor:” neither will the authorities take any security, and arbitrarily, and insolently prohibit, under any circumstances, the merchants from visiting their vessels. I have said enough to shew that our treaties (I beg the reader’s pardon, “capitulations”) with the Emperor of Morocco, require immediate revision, and to be amended with articles more suited to the spirit of the age, and European civilization, as likewise more consistent with the dignity of Great Britian.

The treaty for the supply of provisions, especially cattle, to the garrison of Gibraltar is either a verbal one, or a secret arrangement, for no mention is made of it in the published state paper documents. It is probably a mere verbal unwritten understanding, but, neverthelesss is more potent in its working than the written treaties. This is not the first time that the unwritten has proved stronger than the written engagement.

41 On account, of their once possessing the throne, the Shereefs have a peculiar jealousy of Marabouts, and which latter have not forgotten their once being sovereigns of Morocco. The Moravedi were “really a dynasty of priests,” as the celebrated Magi, who usurped the throne of Cyrus. The Shereefs, though descended from the Prophet, are not strictly priests, or, to make the distinction perfectly clear the Shereefs are to be considered a dynasty corresponding to the type of Melchizdek, uniting in themselves the regal and sacerdotal authority, whilst the Marabouteen were a family of priests like the sons of Aaron. Abd-el-Kader unites in himself the princely and sacerdotal authority like the Shereefs, though not of the family of the Prophet. Mankind have always been jealous of mere theocratic government, and dynasties of priests have always been failures in the arts of governing, and the Egyptian priests, though they struggled hard, and were the most accomplished of this class of men, could not make themselves the sovereigns of Egypt.

42 According to others the Sâdia reigned before the Shereefs.

43 I was greatly astonished to read in Mr. Hay’s “Western Barbary,” (p. 123), these words — “During one of the late rebellions, a beautiful young girl was offered up as a propitiatory sacrifice, her throat being cut before the tent of the Sultan, and in his presence!” This is an unmitigated libel on the Shereefian prince ruling Morocco. First of all, the sacrifice of human beings is repudiated by every class of inhabitants in Barbary. Such rites, indeed, are unheard of, nay, unthought of. If the Mahometan religion has been powerful in any one thing, it is in that of rooting out from the mind of man every notion of human sacrifice. It is this which makes the sacrifice of the Saviour such an obnoxious doctrine to Mussulmen. It is true enough, at times, oxen are immolated to God, but not to Moorish princes, “to appease an offended potentate.” One spring, when there was a great drought, the people led up to the hill of Ghamart, near Carthage, a red heifer to be slaughtered, in order to appease the displeasure of Deity; and when the Bey’s frigate, which, a short time ago, carried a present to her Britannic Majesty, from Tunis to Malta, put back by stress of weather, two sheep were sacrificed to some tutelar saints, and two guns were fired in their honour. The companions of Abd-el-Kader in a storm, during his passage from Oran to Toulon, threw handsful of salt to the raging deep to appease its wild fury. But as to sacrificing human victims, either to an incensed Deity, or to man, impiously putting himself in the place of God, the Moors of Barbary have not the least conception of such an enormity.

It would seem, unfortunately, that the practice of the gentleman, who travelled a few miles into the interior of Morocco on a horse-mission, had been to exaggerate everything, and, where effect was wanting, not to have scrupled to have recourse to unadulterated invention. But this style of writing cannot be defended on any principle, when so serious a case is brought forward as that of sacrificing a human victim to appease the wrath of an incensed sovereign, and that prince now living in amicable relations with ourselves.

44 Gräberg de Hemso, whilst consul-general for Sweden and Sardinia (at Morocco!) concludes the genealogy of these Mussulman sovereigns with this strange, but Catholic-spirited rhapsody:—

“Muley Abd-ur-Bakliman, who is now gloriously and happily reigning, whom we pray Almighty God, all Goodness and Power, to protect and exalt by prolonging his life, glory, and reign in this world and in the next; and giving him, during eternity, the heavenly beatitude, in order that his soul, in the same manner as flame to flame, river to sea, may be united with his sweetest, most perfect and ineffable Creator. Amen.”

45 Yezeed was half-Irish, born of the renegade widow of an Irish sergeant of the corps of Sappers and Miners, who was placed at the disposition of this government by England, and who died in Morocco. On his death, the facile, buxom widow was admitted, “nothing loath,” into the harem of Sidi–Mohammed, who boasted of having within its sacred enclosure of love and bliss, a woman from every clime.

Here the daughter of Erin brought forth this ferocious tyrant, whose maxim of carnage, and of inflicting suffering on humanity was, “My empire can never be well governed, unless a stream of blood flows from the gate of the palace to the gate of the city.” To do Yezeed justice, he followed out the instincts of his birth, and made war on all the world except the English (or Irish). Tully’s Letters on Tripoli give a graphic account of the exploits of Yezeed, who, to his inherent cruelty, added a fondness for practical (Hibernian) jokes.

His father sent him several times on a pilgrimage to Mecca to expiate his crimes, when he amused, or alarmed, all the people whose countries he passed through, by his terrific vagaries. One day he would cut off the heads of a couple of his domestics, and play at bowls with them; another day, he would ride across the path of an European, or a consul, and singe his whiskers with the discharge of a pistol-shot; another day, he would collect all the poor of a district, and gorge them with a razzia he had made on the effects of some rich over-fed Bashaw. The multitude sometimes implored heaven’s blessing on the head of Yezeed. at other times trembled for their own heads. Meanwhile, our European consuls made profound obeisance to this son of the Shereef, enthroned in the West. So the tyrant passed the innocent days of his pilgrimage. So the godless herd of mankind acquiesced in the divine rights of royalty.

46 See Appendix at the end of this volume.

Last updated Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 15:33