Travels in Morocco, by James Richardson


The following account of the bombardment of Mogador by the French, written at the period by an English Resident may be of interest at the present time.

Mogador was bombarded on the 13th of August, 1844. Hostilities began at 9 o’clock A.M., by the Moors firing twenty-one guns before the French had taken up their position, but the fire was not returned until 2 P.M. The ‘Gemappes,’ 100; ‘Suffren,’ 99; ‘Triton,’ 80; ships of the line. ‘Belle Poule,’ 60, frigate; ‘Asmodée’ and ‘Pluton,’ steamers, and some brigs, constituted the bombarding squadron. The batteries were silenced, and the Moorish authorities with many of the inhabitants fled, leaving the city unprotected against the wild tribes, who this evening and the next morning, sacked and fired the city. On the 16th, nine hundred French were landed on the isle of Mogador. After a rude encounter with the garrison, they took possession of it and its forts. Their loss was, after twenty-eight hours’ bombarding, trifling, some twenty killed and as many more wounded; the Moors lost some five hundred on the isle killed, besides the casualties in the city.

The British Consul and his wife, and Mr. and Mrs. Robertson, with others, were obliged to remain in the town during the bombardment on account of their liabilities to the Emperor. The escape of these people from destruction was most miraculous.

The bombarding squadron reached on the 10th, the English frigate, ‘Warspite,’ on the 13th, and the wind blowing strong from N.E., and preventing the commencement of hostilities, afforded opportunity to save, if possible, the British Consul’s family and other detained Europeans; but, notwithstanding the strenuous remonstrances of the captain of the ‘Warspite’, nothing whatever could prevail upon the Moorish Deputy–Governor in command, Sidi Abdallah Deleero, to allow the British and other Europeans to take their departure. The Governor even peremptorily refused permission for the wife of the Consul to leave, upon the cruel sophism that, “The Christian religion asserts the husband and wife to be one, consequently,” added the Governor, “as it is my duty, which I owe to my Emperor, to prevent the Consul from leaving Mogador, I must also keep his wife.”

The fact is the Moors, in their stupidity, and perhaps in their revenge, thought the retaining of the British Consul and the Europeans might, in some way or other, contribute to the defence of themselves, save the city, or mitigate the havoc of the bombardment. At any rate, they would say, “Let the Christians share the same fate and dangers as ourselves.” During the bombardment, the Moors for two hours fought well, but their best gunner, a Spanish renegade, Omar Ei–Haj, being killed, they became dispirited and abandoned the batteries. The Governor and his troops, about sunset, disgracefully and precipitately fled, followed by nearly all the Moorish population, thereby abandoning Mogador to pillage, and the European Jews to the merciless wild tribes, who, though levied to defend the town, had, for some hours past, hovered round it like droves of famished wolves.

As the Governor fled out, terrified as much at the wild tribes as of the French, in rushed these hordes, led on by their desperate chiefs. These wretches undismayed, unmoved by the terrors of the bombarding ravages around, strove and vied with each other in the committal of every act of the most unlicensed ferocity and depredation, breaking open houses, assaulting the inmates, murdering such as shewed resistance, denuding the more submissive of their clothing, abusing women — particularly in the Jewish quarter — to all which atrocities the Europeans were likewise exposed.

At the most imminent hazard of their lives, the British Consul and his wife, with a few others, escaped from these ruffians. Truly providential was their flight through streets, resounding with the most turbulent confusion and sanguinary violence. It was late when the plunderers appeared before the Consulates, where, without any ceremony, by hundreds, they fell to work, breaking open bales of goods, ransacking places for money and other treasures; and, thus unsatisfied in their rapacity, they tore and burnt all the account-books and Consular documents.

Other gangs fought over the spoil; some carrying off their booty, and others setting it on fire. It was a real pandemonium of discord and licentiousness. During the darkness, and in the midst of such scenes, it was that the Consul and his wife threaded their precarious flight through the streets, and in their way were intercepted by a marauding band, who attacked them; tore off his coat; and, seizing his wife, insisted upon denuding her, four or five daggers being raised to her throat, expecting to find money concealed about their persons; nor would the ruffians desist until they ascertained they had none, the Consul having prudently resolved to take no money with them. Fortunately, at this juncture, his wife was able to speak, and in Arabic (being born here, and daughter of a former Consul), therefore she could give force to her entreaties by appealing to them not to imbue their hands in the blood of their countrywomen. This had the desired effect. The chief of the party undertook to conduct them to the water-port, when, coming in contact with another party, a conflict about booty ensued, during which the Consul’s family got out of the town to a place of comparative security.

Incidents of a similar alarming nature attended the escape of Mr. Robertson, his wife, and four children; one, a baby in arms. In the crowd, Mr. Robertson, with a child in each hand, lost sight of Mrs. Robertson, with her infant and another child. Distracted by sad forebodings, poor Mr. Robertson forced his way to the water-port, but not before a savage mountainer — riding furiously by him — aimed a sabre-blow at him to cut him down; but, as the murderous arm was poised above, Mr. Robertson stooped, and, raising his arm at the time, warded it off; the miscreant then rode off, being satisfied at this cut at the detested Nazarene.

Another ruffian seized one of his little girls, a pretty child of nine years old, and scratched her arm several times with his dagger, calling out flous (money) at each stroke. At the water-port, Mr. Robertson joined his fainting wife, and the British Consul and his wife, with Mr. Lucas and Mr. Allnut. An old Moor never deserted the Consul’s family, “faithful among the faithless;” and a Jewess, much attached to the family, abandoned them only to return to those allied to her by the ties of blood.

Their situation was now still perilous, for, should they be discovered by the wild Berbers, they all might be murdered. This night, the 15th, was a most anxious one, and their apprehensions were dreadful. Dawn of day was fast approaching, and every hour’s delay rendered their condition more precarious. In this emergency, Mr. Lucas, who never once failed or lost his accustomed suavity and presence of mind amidst these imminent dangers, resolved upon communicating with the fleet by a most hazardous experiment. On his way from the town-gate to the water-port, he noticed some deal planks near the beach. The idea struck him of turning these into a raft, which, supporting him, could enable their party to communicate with the squadron. Mr. Lucas fetched the planks, and resolutely set to work. Taking three of them, and luckily finding a quantity of strong grass cordage, he arranged them in the water, and with some cross-pieces, bound the whole together; and, besides, having found two small pieces of board to serve him as paddles, he gallantly launched forth alone, and, in about an hour, effected his object, for he excited the attention of the French brig, ‘Canard,’ from which a boat came and took him on board.

The officers, being assured there were no Moors on guard at the batteries, and that the Berbers were wholly occupied in plundering the city, promptly and generously sent off a boat with Mr. Lucas to the rescue of the alarmed and trembling fugitives. The Prince de Joinville afterwards ordered them to be conveyed on board the ‘Warspite.’ The self-devotedness, sagacity, and indefatigable exertions of the excellent young man, Mr. Lucas, were above all encomiums, and, at the hands of the British Government, he deserved some especial mark of favour.

Poor Mrs. Levy (an English Jewess, married to a Maroquine Jew), and her family were left behind, and accompanied the rest of the miserable Jews and natives, to be maltreated, stripped naked, and, perhaps, murdered, like many poor Jews. Mr. Amrem Elmelek, the greatest native merchant and a Jew, died from fright. Carlos Bolelli, a Roman, perished during the sack of the city.

Mogador was left a heap of ruins, scarcely one house standing entire, and all tenantless. In the fine elegiac bulletin of the bombarding Prince, “Alas! for thee, Mogador! thy walls are riddled with bullets, and thy mosques of prayer blackened with fire!” (or something like these words.)



Tangier trades almost exclusively with Gibraltar, between which place and this, an active intercourse is constantly kept up.

The principal articles of importation into Tangier are, cotton goods of all kinds, cloth, silk-stuffs, velvets, copper, iron, steel, and hardware of every description; cochineal, indigo, and other dyes; tea, coffee, sulphur, paper, planks, looking-glasses, tin, thread, glass-beads, alum, playing-cards, incense, sarsaparilla, and rum.

The exports consist in hides, wax, wool, leeches, dates, almonds, oranges, and other fruit, bark, flax, durra, chick-peas, bird-seed, oxen and sheep, henna, and other dyes, woollen sashes, haicks, Moorish slippers, poultry, eggs, flour, &c.

The value of British and foreign goods imported into Tangier in 1856 was: British goods, £101,773 6s., foreign goods, £33,793.

The goods exported from Tangier during the same year was: For British ports, £63,580 10s., for foreign ports, £13,683.

The following is a statement of the number of British and foreign ships that entered and cleared from this port during the same year. Entered: British ships 203, the united tonnage of which was 10,883; foreign ships 110, the total tonnage of which was 4,780.

Cleared: British ships 207, the united tonnage of which was 10,934; foreign ships 110, the total tonnage of which was 4,780.

Three thousand head of cattle are annually exported, at a fixed duty of five dollars per head, to Gibraltar, for the use of that garrison, in conformity with the terms of special grants that have, from time to time, been made by the present Sultan and some of his predecessors. In addition to the above, about 2,000 head are, likewise, exported annually, for the same destination, at a higher rate of duty, varying from eight dollars to ten dollars per head. Gibraltar, also, draws from this place large supplies of poultry, eggs, flour, and other kinds of provisions.


From the port of Mogador are exported the richest articles the country produces, viz., almonds, sweet and bitter gums, wool, olive-oil, seeds of various kinds, as cummin, gingelen, aniseed; sheep-skins, calf, and goat-skins, ostrich-feathers, and occasionally maize.

The amount of exports in 1855 was: For British ports, £228,112 3s. 2d., for foreign ports, £55,965 13s. 1d.

The imports are Manchester cotton goods, which have entirely superseded the East India long cloths, formerly in universal use, blue salampores, prints, sugar, tea, coffee, Buenos Ayres slides, iron, steel, spices, drugs, nails, beads and deals, woollen cloth, cotton wool, and mirrors of small value, partly for consumption in the town, but chiefly for that of the interior, from Morocco and its environs, as far as Timbuctoo.

The amount of imports in 1855 was: British goods, £136,496 7s. 6d., foreign goods £31,222 11s. 5d.

The trade last year was greatly increased by the unusually large demand for olive-oil from all parts, and there is no doubt that, under a more liberal Government, the commerce might be developed to a vast extent.


The principal goods imported at Rabat are, alum, calico of different qualities, cinnamon, fine cloth, army cloth, cloves, copperas, cotton prints, raw cotton, sewing cotton, cutlery, dimity, domestics, earthenware, ginger, glass, handkerchiefs (silk and cotton), hardware, indigo, iron, linen, madder root, muslin, sugar (refined and raw), tea, and tin plate.

The before-mentioned articles are imported partly for consumption in Rabat and Sallee, and partly for transmission into the interior.

The value of different articles of produce exported at Rabat during the last five years amounts to £34,860 1s.

There can be no doubt that the imports and exports at Rabat would greatly increase, if the present high duties were reduced, and Government monopolies abolished. Large quantities of hides were exported before they were a Government monopoly: now the quantity exported is very inconsiderable.


Goods Imported. — Brown Domestics, called American White, muslins, raw cotton, cotton-bales, silk and cotton pocket-handkerchiefs; tea, coffee, sugars, iron, copperas, alum; many other articles imported, but in very small quantities.

A small portion of the importations is consumed at Mazagan and Azimore, but the major portions in the interior.

The amount of the leading goods exported in 1855 was:— Bales of wool, 6,410; almonds, 200 serons; grain, 642,930 fanegas.

No doubt the commerce of this port would be increased under better fiscal laws than those now established.

But the primary and immediate thing to be looked after is the wilful casting into the anchorage-ground of stone-ballast by foreigners. British masters are under control, but foreigners will persist, chiefly Sardinian masters.

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Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:59