Arrival at Tangier. — Moorish Pilgrims in Cordova. — Address of the Anti–Slavery Society. — Mr. D. Hay, British Consul. — Institut d’Afrique. — Conveyance of Eunuchs in vessels under the French Flag. — Franco–Moorish Politics. — Corn Monopolies in Morocco. — Love and veneration for the English name. — Celebration of the Ayd–Kebir, great festival. Value of Money in Morocco. — Juvenile Strolling Singer. — General account of the city of Tangier. — Intercourse between the Moorish Emperor and the Foreign Consuls. — Cockney sportsmen, — The degrading of high Moorish Functionaries. — How we smuggle Cattle from Tangier to Gibraltar. — The Blood-letting of plethoric Placemen.
The communication between Gibraltar and Tangier is by no means easy and regular, though the places are only a few hours’ distance from the other. I had waited many days at Gib. (as our captain called the former place), before the wind enabled us to leave, and then, our boat being a small transport for cattle, and the Government contractors wanting beef for the garrison — for an Englishman or an English soldier cannot live in any part of the world without beef — we were compelled to leave with the wind in our teeth, and to make a night’s voyage of this four or five hours’ traverse. It might be worth while, one would think, to try a small steam-tug for the conveyance of cattle from Tangier to our garrison, which, besides, would be a great convenience for passengers.
On coming on deck in the morning, Tangier, “the city protected of the Lord,” appeared in all its North African lineaments, white and bright, shining, square masses of masonry, domes of fair and modest santos, and the heaven-pointing minarets; here and there a graceful palm, a dark olive, or the black bushy kharoub, and all denned sharply and clearly in the goodly prospect. But these Barbary towns had lost much of their freshness or novelty to me, and novelty is the greatest ingredient of our pleasure in foreign travel. I had also just travelled through Spain, and the south of this country is still, as to its aspect, part and parcel of Morocco, though it is severed by the Straits. In the ancient Moorish city of Cordova, I had even saluted the turban. I met two Moors strolling along, with halting steps and triste mien, through the streets, whom I instinctively addressed.
“Wein mashe. Ash tomel. Where are you going? What are you doing?”
The Moors (greatly pleased to hear the sound of their own mother-tongue in the land of their pilgrimage). — “Net jerrej. We are enjoying ourselves.”
Traveller. — “What do you think of the country (Cordova)?”
The Moors. — “This is the land of our fathers.”
Traveller. — “Well, what then? Are you going to possess it again?”
The Moors. — “Of what country are you?”
Traveller. — “Engleez.”
The Moors (brightening up). — “That is good. Yes, we are very glad. We thought you might be a Spaniard, or a Frenchman. Now we’ll tell you all; we don’t fear. God will give us this country again, when Seedna Aïsa 4 comes to deliver us from these curse-smitten dogs of Spaniards.” 5
Traveller. — “Well, never mind the Spaniards. Have you seen anything you like here?”
The Moors. — “Look at this knife; it is rusty; it should not be so.”
Traveller. — “How!”
The Moors. — “We read in our books and commentators that in Andalous (Spain) there is no rust, and that nothing rusts here.” 6
Traveller. — “Nonsense; have you seen the hundred pillars of your mosque?” (Now converted into a cathedral.)
The Moors. — “Ah, we have seen them,” with a deep sigh; “and the pillars will stand till to-morrow.” (End of the world.)
I was obliged to say farewell to these poor pilgrims, wandering in the land of their fathers, and worshipping at the threshold of the noble remains of Moresco–Spanish antiquity, for the diligencia was starting off to Seville.
To return from my digression. I soon found myself at home in Tangier amongst my old friends, the Moors, and coming from Spain, could easily recognise many things connecting the one country with the other.
The success attending the various measures of the Bey of Tunis for the abolition of slavery in North Africa, and the favourable manner in which this prince had received me, when I had charge of a memorial from the inhabitants of Malta, to congratulate his Highness on his great work on philanthropy, induced the Committee of the Anti–Slavery Society to confide to me an address to the Emperor of Morocco, praying him to enfranchise the negro race of his imperial dominions.
We were fully prepared to encounter the strongest opposition from the Shereefian Court; but, at the same time, we thought there could be no insuperable obstacle in our way.
The Maroquines had the same religion and form of government as the Tuniseens, and by perseverance in this, as well as any other enterprise, something might at last be effected. Even the agitation of the question in the empire of Morocco, amongst its various tribes, was a thing not to be neglected; for the agitation of public opinion in a despotic country like Morocco, as well as in a constitutional state like England, admirably prepares the way for great measures of reform and philanthropy; and, besides the business of an abolitionnist is agitation; agitation unceasing; agitation in season and out of season.
On my arrival at Tangier, I called upon Mr. Drummond Hay, the British Consul–General, stating to him my object, and asking his assistance. The English Government had instructed the Consul to address the Emperor on this interesting subject, not long before I arrived, but it was with the greatest difficulty that any sort of answer could be obtained to the communication.
Mr. Hay, therefore, gave me but small encouragement, and was not a little surprised when I told him I expected a letter of introduction from Her Majesty’s Government. He could not understand this reiterated assault on the Shereefs for the abolition of slavery, not comprehending the absolute necessity of continued agitation on such a difficult matter, as exciting from a despotic and semi-barbarous prince, fortified by the prejudices of ages and generally sanctioned in his conduct by his religion, the emancipation of a degraded and enslaved portion of the human race. 7 However, Mr. Hay was polite, and set about arranging matters for proceeding with a confessedly disagreeable subject for any consul to handle under like circumstances. He made a copy of the address of the Anti–Slavery Society, and sent it to the English Government, requesting instructions. I expected an address from the Institut d’Afrique of Paris; but, after waiting some time, the Secretary, Mr. Hippolyte de St. Anthoine, wrote me a letter, in which he stated that, on account of the ill-will manifested by the Emperor to the establishment of the French in Algeria, the Institut had come to the painful conclusion of not addressing him for the abolition of the slave-trade in his imperial states.
Soon after my arrival at Tangier, the English letter-boat, Carreo Ingles, master, Matteo Attalya, brought twelve eunuch slaves, African youths, from Gibraltar. They are a present from the Viceroy of Egypt to the Emperor of Morocco. The Correo is the weekly bearer of letters and despatches to and from Morocco. The slaves were not entered upon the bill of health, thus infringing upon the maritime laws of Gibraltar and Tangier. The other captains of the little boats could not help remarking, “You English make so much fuss about putting down the slave-trade, and allow it to be carried on under your own flag.” Even the foreign consuls here reprobated the inconsistency of the British Government, in aiding the slave-trade of the Mediterranean by their own flag. However, Government ordered a strict inquiry into this case, and took means for preventing the occurrence of a like abuse. Nevertheless, since then the Emperor has actually applied to the British Consul to allow eunuchs to be brought down the Mediterranean in English steamers, in the same way as these were brought from Malta to Gibraltar in the Prometheus — as, forsooth, servants and passengers. And on the refusal of our consul to sanction this illicit conveyance of slaves by British vessels, the Emperor applied to the French consul, who condescended to hoist the tri-coloured flag for the transport of slave-eunuchs! This is one way of mitigating the prejudices of the Shereefian Court against the French occupation of Algeria. Many slaves are carried up and down the Mediterranean in French vessels.
The keeper of an hotel related to me with great bitterness, that the French officer who came with me from Gibraltar had left Tetuan for Algeria. The officer had ordered a great many things of this man, promising to pay on his return to Tangier. He deposited an old hatbox as a security, which, on being opened by the hotel keeper, was found to be full of greasy paper. At Tetuan, the officer gave himself out as a special envoy of the Emperor of the French.
My good friends, the Moors, continue to speculate upon the progress of the French army in Algeria. I asked a Moorish officer what he thought of the rumoured French invasion of Morocco. He put the backs of his hands together, and locking together his fingers to represent the back of a hedgehog, he observed emphatically; “Impossible! No Christians can invade us. Our country is like a hedgehog, no one can touch us.” Tangier Christians will never permit the French to invade Morocco, whatever may be the pretext. This is even the opinion of the foreign consuls.
As a specimen of the commercial system of this country, I may mention that the monopoly of exporting leeches was sold this week to a Jew, at the rate of 25,000 dollars. Now the Jew refuses to buy leeches except at his own price, whilst every unfortunate trader is obliged to sell to him and to him only. In fact, the monopolist fixes the price, and everybody who brings leeches to Tangier must accept it. This case of leeches may be applied to nearly all the monopolies of the country. Can anything be more ruinous to commerce?
All the Moors of Tangier, immediately on entering into conversation with me, inquire if I am Engleez? Even Moorish children ask this question: it appears to be a charm to them. The Ayd Kebir (great feast) was celebrated to-day, being the first of the new year. It was ushered in yesterday by prayer in the mosques. About 9 A.M. the governor, the commandant of the troops, and other Tangier authorities, proceeded to the open space of the market, attended with flags and music, and some hundred individuals all dressed in their holiday clothes. The white flag, typical of the sanctity of religion, floated over others of scarlet and green; the music was of squeaking bagpipes, and rude tumtums, struck like minute drums. The greater part were on horseback, the governor being most conspicuous. This troop of individuals ascended a small hill of the market-place, where they remained half an hour in solemn prayer.
No Jew or Christian was allowed to approach the magic or sacred circle which enclosed them. This being concluded, down ran a butcher with a sheep on his back; just slaughtered, and bleeding profusely. A troop of boys followed quickly at his heels pelting him with stones. The butcher ran through the town to the seashore, and thence to the house of the Kady — the boys still in hot and breathless pursuit, hard after him, pelting him and the bleeding sheep. The Moors believe, if the man can arrive at the house of the judge before the sheep dies, that the people of Tangier will have good luck; but, if the sheep should be quite dead, and not moving a muscle, then it will bring them bad luck, and the Christians are likely to come and take away their country from them. The drollest part of the ceremony is, that the boys should scamper after the butcher, pelting the sheep, and trying to kill it outright, thus endeavouring to bring ill-luck upon their city and themselves. But how many of us really and knowingly seek our misfortunes? On the occasion of this annual feast, every Moor, or head of a family, kills a sheep. The rich give to the poor, but the poor usually save up their earnings to be able to purchase a sheep to kill on this day. The streets are in different parts covered with blood, making them look like so many slaughter grounds. When the bashaw of the province is in Tangier, thousands of the neighbouring Arabs come to pay him their respects. With the Moors, the festivals of religion are bonâ fide festivals. It may also be added, as characteristic of these North African barbarians, that, whilst many a poor person in our merry Christian England does not, and cannot, get his plum-pudding and roast-beef at Christmas, there is not a poor man or even a slave, in Morocco who does not eat his lamb on this great feast of the Mussulmans. It would be a mortal sin for a rich man to refuse a poor man a mouthful of his lamb.
Of course there was a sensation among the native population, and even among the consular corps, about my mission; but I have nothing very particular to record. I had many Moorish visitors, some of whom were officers of the imperial troops. I made the acquaintance of one, Sidi Ali, with whom I had the following dialogue:—
Traveller. — “Sidi Ali, what can I do to impress Muley Abd Errahman in my favour?”
Sidi Ali. — “Money!”
Traveller. — “But will the Emir of the Shereefs accept of money from us Christians?”
Sidi Ali. — “Money!”
Traveller. — “What am I to give the minister Ben Dris, to get his favour?”
Sidi Ali. — “Money!”
Traveller. — “Can I travel in safety in Morocco?”
Sidi Ali. — “Money:”
Indeed “money” seems to be the all and everything in Morocco, as among us, “the nation of shopkeepers.” The Emperor himself sets the example, for he is wholly occupied in amassing treasures in Mequiney. Another acquaintance of mine was a little more communicative.
Aged Moor. — “What can I do for you, stranger? You are good to me, every time I call here you give me tea with plenty of sugar in it. What can I do for you in my country?”
Traveller. — “Tell me how to get on in my mission? How can I see Muley Errahman?”
Aged Moor. — “Now I am bound to give you my best advice. First then, take plenty of money with you. All love money; therefore without money you can do nothing. Muley Abd Errahman loves money, and money he must have. And the minister loves money, and the minister must not be forgotten. The minister is the door to the Emperor. You cannot get into the house but through the door. Out of the towns and cities, the Emperor has no power; so that whenever you travel out of these places, remember to give the people money.”
I had numberless volunteers to conduct me to Fez. All came begging for this honour and lucrative employment. Whatever may be said of the virtues of hospitality, I found all the world alike in its determination to make the most of strangers, if not to devour them. But the Emperor was not at Fez; he was in the southern capital, and it was necessary for me to go via Mogador, to endeavour to obtain an interview with him at that place.
The dreary monotony of Moorish life was one day broken in upon by a juvenile strolling singer, who attracted a crowd of silent and attentive listeners. It was a grateful sight to see old men, with long and silvery beards, reclining in mute and serious attention; young men lounging in the pride and consciousness of animal strength; little children intermixed, but without prattle or merriment — all fixed and fascinated with the charm of vocal song. The vocalist himself was a picturesque object; his face was burnt black with Afric’s sun, his bare head was wildly covered with long, black matted, and curly hair, but his eye was soft and serene; and, as he stretched his throat upwards to give compass to his voice, he seemed as if he would catch inspiration from the Prophet in heaven. A coarse brown blanket enveloped his spare and way-worn body, his only clothing and shelter from the heat by day and the cold by night, a fold of which fell upon his naked feet.
The voice of the Arab vocalist was extremely plaintive, even to the tones and inflections of distress, and the burden of his song was of religion and of love — two sentiments which all pure minds delight to combine. When he stopped a moment to take breath, a murmur of applause vibrated through the still air of the evening, not indeed for the youth, but for God! 8 for it was a prayer of the artless and enraptured bystanders, invoking Allah to bless the singing lad, and also to bless them, while ascribing all praise to the Deity.
This devout scene raised the Moors greatly in my estimation. I thought men could not be barbarians, or even a jealous or vindictive race, who were charmed with such simple melody of sounds, and with sentiments so pure and true to nature.
The Arab youth sang:—
Oh, there’s none but the One God!
I’ll journey over the Desert far
To seek my love the fairest of maidens;
The camels moan loudly to carry me thither,
Gainly are they, and fleeter than the swift-legged ostrich.
Oh, there’s none but the One God!
What though the Desert wind slay me;
What of it? death is from God.
And woe to me! I cannot repine.
But I’ll away to the abode of my love,
I’ll embrace her with all my strength,
I’ll bear her back thence, and rest her on my couch.
Oh, there’s none but the One God!
So sang in plaintive accents the youth, until the last ray of the sun lingered on the minarets’ tops, when, by the louder and authoritative voice of the Muezin calling the Faithful to prayers, this crowd of the worshippers of song and vocal harmony was dispersed to meet again, and forthwith chant a more solemn strain. The poor lad of the streets and highways went into the mosque along with his motley group of admirers; and all blended their voices and devotion together in prayer and adoration, lowly and in profound prostration, before the Great Allah!
It is my intention, in the course of the present narrative, to give a brief account of the principal towns and cities of North Africa; and I cannot do better than begin with Tangier. This city is very ancient, having probably been built by the aboriginals, Berbers, and was usually called by the Romans, Taigo on Tingis. The Emperor Claudius re-peopled it, and called it Julia Traducta. The Moors call it Sanjah, and relate that Benhad Sahab El–Alem built it, also surrounded it with walls of metal, and constructed its houses of gold and silver. In this condition, it remained until destroyed by some Berber kings, who carried away all its treasures. The modern Tangier is a small city of the province of Hasbat, picturesquely placed on the eastern slope of a hill, which terminates in the west with its port and bay, having some analogy to the site of Algiers. It has almost a square form, and its ramparts are a wall, flanked here and there with towers. This place, likewise, is most advantageously situate in the narrowest part of the Straits of Gibraltar, at a few miles east of Cape Spartel, and thirty miles W.S.W. of Gibraltar, and has, therefore, been coveted by all the conquerors of North Africa. The Phoenicians, Romans, Goths, and Arabs successively effected its conquest; and it was long a bone of eager contention between the Moors and Portuguese. In 1471, Alonzo, King of Portugal, took it from the Moors; and in 1662 it came into the hands of the English, as a part of the dowry of Catherine, queen of Charles II.; so, whilst in our possession it was a place of considerable strength; but on its evacuation in 1684 by order of the English government, who were disgusted by the expense of its occupation, and the bootless collisions with the natives, the fortifications were demolished, and only the vestiges of them now are visible. Had the British Government continued its occupation for half a century, and kept in check the Maroquine tribes, it is probable that by this time the greater part of Morocco would have been under British rule, when we might have founded a flourishing colony, from which all North Africa might have received the elements of Christian civilization.
Old Tangier (Tangier belia) is situate about four miles east from the present, being now a heap of ruins, near a little river called Khalk or Tingia, spanned over by the remains of a once finely-built Roman bridge. Here was likewise an artificial port, where the Roman galleys retired. The whole of this part of Africa was denominated by the Romans, Mauritania, from the name of this city; and during their administration was united to the government of Spain. Tangier had a population of from four to six thousand. Grabert estimates the population at 10,000, including 2,500 Jews, who live intermixed with the Moors; 1,400 negroes, 300 Berbers of Rif, and about 100 Christians. The Consuls–General of the European Powers reside here; and most of them have commodious houses. The Swedish Consul has a splendid garden, which is thrown open to the European residents. There is but one good street in the town; and the transition from Europe to Barbary, at so short a distance, is striking to the stranger. Tarifa, on the opposite side, along the coast of Spain, has, however, a Moorish affinity to this place; and the dress of the women is not very dissimilar in the two towns, once inhabited by the people of the same religion, and now, perhaps, many of them descendants of the same families.
Tangier, though a miserable place compared to most of the cities in Europe, is something considerable in Morocco, and the great mosque is rather splendid. Mr. Borrow justly remarks that its minarets look like the offspring of the celebrated Giralda of Seville. The Christians have here a convent, and a church within it, to which are attached half-a-dozen monks. There is no Protestant church; Mr. Hay reads service in the British Consulate, and invites the Protestant residents. Tangier is the only place in the empire where the Christian religion is publicly professed. The Jews have three or four small synagogues. Usually, the synagogues in Barbary are nothing more than private houses.
Before the bombardment of the French, the fortifications mounted forty pieces or so of cannon, but of no strength; on the contrary, going completely to ruin and decay, being scarcely strong enough to fire a salute from. The Bay of Tangier is good and spacious; but, in the course of time, will be filled up with sand. The shipping is exposed to strong westerly winds. The safest anchorage, however, is on the the eastern part, about half a mile off the shore, in a line with the round tower. With a few thousand pounds, one of the finest — at least, one of the most convenient — ports of the Mediterranean could be constructed here. There is a bashaw of this province, who resides at El–Araish, and a lieutenant-governor, who lives at Tangier. With these functionaries, the representatives of European Powers have principally to transact affairs. On the north is the castle, the residence of the governor.
Eleven consuls take up their abode in Tangier; the British, French, Spanish, Portuguese, American, Danish, Swedish, Sardinian, Neapolitan, Austrian, and Dutch. Each consular house generally belongs to its particular nation, the ground to the Sultan.
The consuls who have the most interest to guard in Morocco, are the British, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. Up to the bombardment of Tangier, the Danish and Swedish Governments paid to the Maroquine Court, the former 25,000 and the latter 20,000 dollars per annum, to have the privilege of hoisting their flag at this port. The French hostilities against Morocco furnished a convenient opportunity for getting this odious tribute abolished. The Americans led the way in getting rid of this subservience to the Shereefian Court, and refused from the first all presents and annual donations. Generally, however, when new consuls are appointed, they bring with them presents, and visit the Emperor in person. On the occasion of fêtes, they sometimes make presents to the governors of districts. Whenever the Emperor condescends to come down to Tangier, three days after his arrival, it is the required etiquette for the consuls to seek his presence, and to make their obeisance to the Shereefian Lord. The consuls are accustomed to decide upon and control the affairs of their own countrymen, and those placed under their protection; but when a Moor and an European are concerned in a transaction, it is usually a mixed commission of the consulate and the Moorish authorities.
Many curious anecdotes are current respecting the consuls and the Moorish government. A Spanish consul once took it into his head to strike his flag and leave Tangier. Whilst he was gone, the Emperor ordered all the Jews to go and take possession of his house and live in it, as a degradation. The consular house was soon crammed with dirty Jews, whose vermin and filth rendered the house untenantable, until it had undergone a thorough repair and cleansing. Sometimes the Emperor shows a great affection for a particular consular family. The family of the Portuguese Consul were great favorites. During the war of succession in Portugal, the Portuguese Consul contracted debts in Tangier, not being able to get his salary amidst the strife of parties. The Moors complained to the Emperor of the consul’s debts. Muley Abd Errahman, though a thorough miser himself, paid the consul’s debts, alleging as a reason, “the consul was a friend of my ancestors, and he shall be my friend.” The Portuguese government wished to remove this consul on account of his alleged Miguelite propensities, but the Emperor threatened, if they did, that he would not receive another. Our government compelled the Portuguese to gratify the personal feeling of the Emperor. Senhor Colaso is a native of Morocco, as his father was before him, and the Emperor calls them his own children. The Jewish servants of the consulates are free from the poll-tax and other obnoxious contributions, and their Moorish servants are also exempt from government conscriptions.
At times, very serious misunderstandings and disputes occur between the consuls and the Emperor on the subject of his Imperial Highness. Our consul, Mr. Hay, was shot at by a fanatic marabout, the ball missing him, but killing a horse of one of the party. This affair was passed over, the consul very properly taking no notice of a mad saint. But I will cite another instance, as showing the intimate perception which the Moors have of the peculiar precepts of our religion, as well as exhibiting their own moral ideas, in each case representing them to us in a favourable light. One of the Emperor’s subjects had insulted the French consul, M. Sourdeau, and Muley Suleiman addressed to him the following singular epistle.
“In the name of God, the most merciful. There is no power or force except with the Most High and Great God!
“Consul of the French nation, Sourdeau, and salutation to him who is in the right way. Inasmuch as you are our guest, under our protection, and consul in our country of a great nation, so we cannot but wish you the greatest consideration and the honours. On which account, you will perceive that that which has happened to you is to us intolerable, and would still be so had it been done by one of our own children or most intimate friends. And although we cannot put any obstacle to the decrees of God, yet such an act is not grateful to us, even if it is done to the vilest of men, or even cattle, and certainly we will not fail to show an example of severe justice, God willing. If you were not Christians, having a feeling heart, and bearing patiently injuries, after the example of your prophet, whom God has in glory, Jesus the son of Mary, who, in the Book which he brought you in the name of God, commands you, that if any person strike you on one cheek turn to him the other also; and who (always blessed of God!) also did not defend himself when the Jews sought to kill him, from whom God took him. And, in our Book, it is said, by the mouth of our Prophet, there is no people among whom there are so many disposed to good works as those who call themselves Christians; and certainly among you there are many priests and holy men who are not proud; nevertheless, our Prophet also says, that we cannot impute a crime to persons of three sorts, that is to say, madmen (until they return to sound sense), children, and persons who sleep. Now this man who has offended you is mad, and has no knowledge; but we have decreed to give you full satisfaction. If, however, you should be pleased to pardon him, you will perform a magnanimous work, and the Most Merciful will abundantly recompense you. On the other hand, if you absolutely wish him to be punished, he is in your hands, for in my empire no one shall fear injustice or violence, with the assistance of God.”
A whimsical story is current in Tangier respecting the dealings of the Shereefian Court with the Neapolitan government, which characteristically sets forth Moorish diplomacy or manoeuvring. A ship load of sulphur was sent to the Emperor. The Moorish authorities declared it was very coarse and mixed with dirt. With great alacrity, the Neapolitan government sent another load of finer and better quality. This was delivered; and the Consul asked the Moorish functionaries to allow the coarse sulphur to be conveyed back. These worthies replied, “Oh dear, no! it is of no consequence, the Emperor says, he will keep the bad, and not offend his royal cousin, the King of Naples, by sending it back.” The Neapolitan government had no alternative but to submit, and thank the chief of the Shereefs for his extreme condescension in accepting two ship-loads of sulphur instead of one.
There are occasional communications between Tangier and Tarifa, in Spain, but they are very frequent with Gibraltar. A vast quantity of European merchandize is imported here from Gibraltar for Fez and the north of Morocco. All the postal and despatch business also comes through Tangier, which has privileges that few or no other Maroquine cities possess. The emperors, indeed, have been wont to call it “the City of Christians.” In the environs, there is at times a good deal of game, and the European residents go out to shoot, as one is wont in other countries to talk a walk. The principal game is the partridge and hare, and the grand sport, the wild boar. Our officers of the Gibraltar garrison come over for shooting. But quackery and humbug exist in everything. A young gentleman has just arrived from Gibraltar, who had been previously six weeks on his passage from Holland to that place, with his legs infixed in a pair of three-league boots. He says he has come from Holland on purpose to sport and hunt in Morocco. Several of the consuls, when they go out sporting, metamorphose themselves into veteran Numidian sportsmen. You would imagine they were going to hunt lions for months in the ravines of the Atlas, whereas it is only to shoot a stray partridge or a limping hare, or perchance they may meet with a boar. And this they do for a couple of days, or twenty-four hours, sleeping during the night very snugly under tents, and fed and feasted with milk, fowls, and sheep by the Arabs.
Morocco, like all despotic countries, furnishes some severe examples of the degrading of high functionaries. There is an old man, Sidi–El-Arby–Es-Said, living there, who is a marked victim of imperial tyranny. Some years ago, the conqueror despoiled him of all his wealth, and threw him into prison, after he had been twenty years bashaw of this district. He was in prison one year with his two sons. The object of the Emperor was to extort the last filse of his money; and he entirely succeeded. The oppressor, however, relented a little on the death of one of his victim’s sons; released him from confinement, and gave the ex-bashaw two houses, one for himself and the other for his surviving son. The old captain of the port has been no less than a dozen times in prison, under the exhausting pressure of the Emperor. After the imperial miser has copiously bled his captain, he lets him out to fill his skin again. The old gentleman is always merry and loyal, in spite of the treatment from his imperial taskmaster.
Very funny stories are told by the masters of the small craft, who transport the bullocks from hence to Gibraltar. The government of that place are only allowed to export, at a low duty per annum, a certain number of bullocks. The contractor’s agents come over; and at the moment of embarking the cattle, something like the following dialogue frequently ensues.
Agent of Contractor. — “Count away!”
Captain of the Port. — “One, two, three, &c. Thirty, forty. Ah! stop! stop! too many.”
Agent of Contractor. — “No, you fool, there are only thirty.”
Captain of the Port. — “You lie! there are forty.”
Agent of Contractor. — “Only thirty, I tell you,” (putting three or four dollars into his hand).
Captain of the Port. — “Well, well, there are only thirty.”
And, in this way, the garrison of Gibraltar often gets 500 or 1,000 head of cattle more than the stipulated number, at five dollars per head duty instead of ten. Who derives the benefit of peculation I am unable to state. An anecdote recurs to me of old Youssef, Bashaw of Tripoli, illustrative of the phlebotomizing system now under consideration. Colonel Warrington one day seriously represented to the bashaw how his functionaries robbed him, and took the liberty of mentioning the name of one person. “Yes, yes,” observed the bashaw, “I know all about him; I don’t want to catch him yet; he’s not fat enough. When he has gorged a little more, I’ll have his head off.”
The Emperor of Morocco, however, usually treats his bashaws of the coast with greater consideration than those of the interior cities, the former being more in contact with Europeans, his Highness not wishing his reputation to suffer in the eyes of Christians.
4 “Our Lord Jesus,” the name by which the Moors, always mention Our Saviour.
5 Moors entertain the lowest opinion possible of Spaniards. In an intercepted correspondence of the Emperor of Morocco, found at the Battle of Isly, Spaniards are called, “The most degraded of the human race.”
6 The climate of North Africa is remarkable for rusting everything which can contract rust. This may be the reason of the Moors representing Spain and other European countries as free from rust, because there it is not so soon contracted.
7 Lord Palmerston proceeded in the same determined way with the Schah of Persia (See Parliamentary Papers on the Slave Trade, class D, presented 1848). But Colonel Shiel was fortunate in obtaining several opinions of Mahomet that — “The worst of men is the seller of men” — was a powerful auxiliary. The perseverance of the Minister and his agents in Persia has been crowned with complete success; the Schah has issued a firman prohibiting the Slave Trade in his territories. This firman will complete our command over the Persian Gulf and the Arabian seas, and enable our cruisers to intercept the slavers from the eastern shore of Africa.
8 No people understand better than the Moors the noble feeling of gratitude, contained in the words “Non nobis, Domine,” &c.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:54