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his eldest son the bey, and his two brothers, their wives and harems, their domestic intrigues, quarrels, and economy, the 'Narrative' contains many very curious and interesting details.
Alli Caromalli, or Caromanli, the reigning bashaw in 1784, (the earliest date of these letters,) was the grandson of Hamet, who, after treacherously causing the assassination of the Turkish soldie ry, whom he looked upon as his gaolers, succeeded in procuring a firman from the Grand Signior, which settled the succession of the pachalick in the Moorish line. He had three sons from one wife, the eldest of which, Sidi Hassan, who has the title of bey, and is considered the legitimate successor of the throne, was about thirty years of age; the second was named Sidi Hamet; and the youngest, about twenty, Sidi Useph, the last of whom at present fills the throne of Tripoli; the two younger brothers, and particularly the latter, conceived an inveterate hatred against the bey,. and, as usual in all the Mahomedan governments, conspired to deprive him of the succession. On the feast of Beiram, which immediately follows the fast of Ramadan, every good Mussulman endeavours to settle all quarrels which may have disturbed the peace of his family in the foregoing year. On the first day of this feast also, it is usual for the subjects of a certain rank to do homage to the sovereign. On such occasions,
Two of the people in whom the bashaw has the greatest confidence, stand on each side of him; their office is to lay hold of the arm of every stranger that presents himself to kiss the bashaw's hand, for fear of any hidden treachery, and only people of consequence and trust are permitted to enter his presence armed. The drawing room, in honour of the day, was uncommonly crowded; when all the courtiers were, in a moment, struck with a sight that seemed to congeal their blood: they appeared to expect nothing less than the slaughter of their sovereign, at the foot of his throne, and themselves to be sacrificed to the vengeance of his enemies. The three princes entered, with their chief officers, guards, and blacks, armed in an extraordinary manner, with their sabres drawn. Each of the sons, surrounded by his own officers and guards, went sepa rately up to kiss the bashaw's hand. He received them with trembling, and his extreme surprise and agitation were visible to every eye, and the doubtful issue of the moment appeared terrible to all present. The princes formed three divisions, keeping distinctly apart; they conversed with the consuls, and different people of the court, as freely as usual, but did not suffer a glance to escape each other. They stayed but a short time in the drawing room, each party retiring in the same order they had entered; and it became apparent that their rage was levelled against each other, and not against their father, though the bashaw seemed only to recover breath on their departure.'-p. 126.
The Bey is stated to have used every means to conciliate his brothers, but in vain; he is described, indeed, as a man of very engag
ing manners, of a calm and tranquil disposition, which had assumed a cast of melancholy, from having lost all his sons in the dreadful plague that desolated the Barbary states in the year 1785, and of which many very curious and melancholy details are given in these letters. In heading the army against some refractory Arab chiefs, his appearance at his departure is thus described:
In about two hours after his attendants had waited for him, the Bey came out of the castle, habited in a loose dress of blue and gold tissue, over a pale yellow caftan, embroidered with gold and silver. His belt was studded with jewels, and his turban was crossed over with gold drapery, having long ends pendant from it. He had a very large jewel claw in his turban, which had been newly set, and looked extremely beautiful, with a new gold crescent, considerably larger than that he usually wears.
'We never saw the Bey received better by the Moors. Their acclamations were loud and incessant for some time; and the Bey, whose figure is always interesting, looked particularly handsome and majestic. He mounted a most splendid black horse. The animal seemed to vie with its master in the richness of its appearance; it was adorned with no less than four magnificent velvet housings. The broad black chest of the horse displayed to advantage eight solid gold drop necklaces, which reached to his legs; the saddle was chased gold, the front of it set with jewels; the stirrups were very large, and appeared like bur nished gold. His whole appearance was uncommonly brilliant.'-p.
Though the two brothers conspired against the Bey, there was no common sentiment but that of jealousy as to his successor; and they were perpetually wrangling with each other; their quarrels, however, as generally happens among these lawless African princes, originated chiefly with their dependants. Savage as these fraternal broils must be deemed, they are sometimes not altogether divested of a noble sentiment. On a rencontre of the two brothers, at the head of their armed followers, Sidi Hamet the elder, approaching his brother Sidi Useph, thus addressed him,
"Sidi Useph, what shall we get by cutting our servants to pieces here, who are all friends, wield-el-bled (sons of the town); we may fill the castle with blood, and frighten the women, but here we shall escape each other's arms; if we fall, it may be by some of our own people, and our private quarrel will remain unrevenged. Call for your horse, mine is ready, and let us instantly go out in the pianura (or plain), and there settle this dispute between us."-At this moment the wife and mother of Sidi Hamet rushed forward, screaming in despair, and, followed by their slaves, awakened the Bashaw, by the woulliah-woo which ran through the castle. The Bashaw ordered them to disarm, and to embrace each other. Sidi Hamet and Sidi Useph approached the Bashaw; they each kissed his hand, and laid it on their heads, then kissed his head, and the hem of his garment, and wished him in the Moorish
manner, a long life. They were retiring, and did not offer to salute each other; the Bashaw seized both their hands in his, and said, "By the prophet, by my head, by your hands, and by this hand that holds them, there is peace between you."-p. 217.
The two brothers had not long before this taken the most sacred oaths of friendship and fidelity to each other at the shrine of their temple; and they had very recently gone together to renew these oaths in a still stronger manner, by performing the last ceremony resorted to in this country, the mixing of blood. To accomplish this barbarous idea, they approached together the altar of Mahomet, and after swearing by the Koran, each to hold the other's life sacred, they wounded themselves with their knives, and mixing their blood in a vessel, shocking to relate, they sipped of it.'-p. 236.
But oaths had no effect in binding the youngest brother, Sidi Useph. He was as faithless to the second as to the Bey, whose assassination and the treacherous manner in which it was accomplished, form so striking a picture of these barbarians, that we shall extract from the Narrative' the relation of this horrid transaction at full length. It is necessary to premise, that this accomplished hypocrite, Sidi Useph, had made to their mother (Lilla Halluma) the proposal for a reconciliation, entreating that it might take place in her own apartment, and in her presence.
'When the Bey came to his mother's apartment, Lilla Halluma, perceiving his sabre, begged of him to take it off before they began to converse, as she assured him his brother had no arms about him. The Bey, to whom there did not appear the smallest reason for suspicion, willingly delivered his sabre to his mother, who laid it on a window near which they stood, and feeling herself convinced of the integrity of the Bey's intentions, and being completely deceived in those of Sidy Useph's, she with pleasure led the two princes to the sofa, and seating herself between them, held one of each of their hands in hers, and, as she has since said, looking at them alternately, she prided herself on having thus at last brought them together as friends.
The Bey, as soon as they were seated, endeavoured to convince his brother, that though he came prepared to go through the ceremony of making peace with him, yet there was not the least occasion for it on his part, for that he had no animosity towards him; but, on the contrary, as he had no sons of his own living, he considered Sidy Hamet and himself as such, and would continue to treat them as a father whenever he came to the throne. Sidy Useph declared himself satisfied, but said, to make Lilla Halluma easy, there could be no objection, after such professions from the Bey, to their both attesting their friendship on the Koran; the Bey answered, "With all my heart, I am ready." Sidy Useph rose quickly from his seat, and called loudly for the Koran, which was the signal he had given his infernal blacks to bring his pistols, two of which were immediately put into his hand, and he instantly
fired at the Bey, as he sat by Lilla Halluma's side on the sofa. Lilla Halluma raising her hand to save her son, had it most terribly mangled by the splinters of the pistol, which burst, and shot the Bey in his side. The Bey rose, and seizing his sabre from the window, where Lilla Halluma had laid it, he made a stroke at his brother, but Sidy Useph instantly discharged a second pistol and shot the Bey through the heart. To add to the unmerited affliction of Lilla Halluma, the murdered prince, in his last moments, erroneously conceiving she had betrayed him, exclaimed, “Ah, madam, is this the last present you have reserved for your eldest son?" What horror must such words from her favourite son have produced in the breast of Lilla Halluma in her present cruel situation! Sidy Useph, on seeing his brother fall, called to his blacks, saying, "There is the Bey, finish him." They dragged him from the spot where he lay yet breathing, and discharged all their pieces into him. The Bey's wife, Lilla Aisher, hearing the sudden clash of arms, broke from her women, who endeavoured to restrain her, and springing into the room clasped the bleeding body of her husband in her arms, while Lilla Halluma, endeavouring to prevent Sidy Useph from disfiguring the body, had thrown herself over it, and fainted from the agony of her wounded hand. Five of Sidy Useph's blacks were, at the same moment, stabbing the body of the Bey as it lay on the floor; after which miserable triumph they fled with their master.
Their wanton barbarity, in thus mangling the Bey's remains, having produced the most dreadful spectacle, Lilla Aisher, (the Bey's wife,) at this sight of horror, stripped off all her jewels and rich habits, and threw them in the Bey's blood, and taking from off one of her blacks the worst baracan amongst them, made that serve for her whole covering. Thus habiting herself as a common slave, she ordered those around to cover her with ashes, and in that state she went directly to the Bashaw, and told him, that if he did not wish to see her poison herself and his grandchildren, to give immediate orders that she might quit the castle; for she "would not live to look on the walls of it, nor to walk over the stones that could no longer be seen for the Bey's blood, with which they were now covered."
'As Sidy Useph left the castle he met the great Chiah, the venerable Bey Abdallah, (the son of the last Turkish Bashaw,)* who was much attached to the royal family here, and beloved by the people. This officer seeing the dreadful state of Sidy Useph, being almost covered with his brother's blood, expressed his fears that something fatal had happened. Sidy Useph aware, from this officer's religious principles, he could not be supposed to approve of this day's deeds, he therefore stabbed him to the heart the moment they met, and the Chiah died instantly at his feet. Sidy Useph's blacks, who were following him, threw the Chiah's body into the street before the castle gate, and the hampers standing by carried it home to his unhappy family: it was buried at the same hour with the Bey's.'-pp. 227–229.
The Bey was buried at three in the afternoon. The short space of
*Bey Abdallah, the adopted son of Hamet the Great, married a daughter of that sovereign, sister to Mohammed Bashaw, the father of the present Ali Bashaw.
little more than four hours had witnessed the Bey in the bloom of health in the midst of his family, murdered, and in his grave.'
So habituated are the people to scenes of this kind, that this atrocious murder caused little or no disturbance in Tripoli. The public criers, by order of the Bashaw, proclaimed through the city, To the Bey who is gone, God give a happy resurrection, and none of his late servants shall be molested or hurt." Notwithstanding which the followers of the murderer were ordered by their mas-ter to put to death the servants of the late Bey, wherever they should find them. As to the murderer, the grave was hardly closed over the brother he had so treacherously assassinated, when he gave a grand entertainment, at which the sounds of music, firing, and women hired to sing and dance, were louder than at the feast of a wedding.' A few days after this, Sidi Hamet, the second son, was proclaimed Bey.
The wretched widow, according to the custom of the country, paid her first visit, at the proper time, to her husband's grave.
The grave of the Bey had been previously strewed with fresh flowers for the second time that day; immense bouquets, of the choicest the season could afford, were placed within the turba or mausoleum; and Arabian jasmine, threaded on shreds of the date leaf, were hung in festoons and large tassels over the tomb; additional lights were placed round it, and a profusion of scented waters was sprinkled over the floor of the mausoleum before Lilla Aisher (the widow) entered the mosque. His eldest daughter, the beautiful Zenobia, was not spared this dreadful ceremony. She accompanied her disconsolate mother, though this princess was so ill from the shock she received at her father's death, that she is not expected to live.'
Lilla Aisher's youngest daughter, not six years old, was likewise present at this scene of distress; and when this infant saw her mother weeping over the Bey's tomb, she held her by her baracan, and screamed to her to let him out, refusing to let go her hold of her mother or the tomb till she saw the Bey again. The wretched Lilla Aisher, who went there in a state of the deepest dejection, was naturally so much afflicted at this scene of useless horror, heightened by the shrill screams of all her attendants, that she fainted away, and was carried back senseless to the castle in the arms of her women.'-p. 240.
The Moors have no particular colour appropriated to a mourning dress; their grief, says Chenier, for the loss of relations, is a sensation of the heart they do not attempt to express by outward symbols.' This is not strictly the case: the clothes are entirely deprived of their new appearance, and the deeper the mourning is meant to be, the more mean and dirty they are made; all the gold and embroidery is passed through water till the gloss is re