Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

* All my people and baggage at last arrived one after another, during the night, and I found I had sustained no loss. The caravan of Sidi Alarbi had met them successively, and saved the men as well as the beasts.

' If this caravan had not happened to have arrived so fortunately, we should all have perished, as the water which was afterwards brought by the Beduins and by Salem would have come too late ; our breath and vital functions had ceased, and I do not think that we could have remained two hours longer alive.

• When I consider that so considerable a caravan had, upon the false report that two or three thousand were going to attack it, (who in fact were only the 400 Arabians that watched me,) quitted the road, and that this mistake was the cause of our preservation, I cannot sufficiently admire the gracious direction of Providence to save us.'-vol. i. pp. 190 -193.

The whole desert is covered with loose stones about the size of a man's fist, smooth, round, whitish, almost all of the same dimensions, and carious upon the surface like pieces of old mortar,—the author considers them a true volcanic production. The difficulty of travelling is much increased by this uniform bed of stones, but the inconvenience and danger are less than would be occasioned by a looser surface. When at length they came to a river, men and beasts threw themselves into it with ungovernable eagerness. As they drew near the coast, Ali Bey was surprised by an intimation that he must proceed to Larache instead of Tangiers; in itself this was a matter of indifference, but as connected with some mysterious conduct in his escort, it displeased him. The best house in the town was assigned him for his quarters, he was treated with every imaginable honour, a corvette was fitted out at the sultan's cost for a voyage to Tripoli, the cabin was given him, and all his equipage was embarked : when the boat arrived to take hiin on board he was surrounded with guards, separated from his people, including his two wives, and compelled to embark alone. * He talks of his

rage and spair at this sudden blow, of his broken heart at thus being separated from his people, whose fate and welfare interested him as much as his own; and he says that one day, perhaps, he may have occasion to express the reflections which this treatment excited. To

appear's that the sultan's conduct is a remarkable instance of the strictness with which the Mahommedans observe the rights of hospitality. However inoffensive, or even meritorious his object, Ali Bey was appearing in a false character; in Europe he is a philosophe, a man of science and of letters, an enterprising and successful traveller; in Morocco he was nevertheless an impostor, and had the reigning sultan been like his ancestor Muley Ishmael, the profession and the mask of Mahommedanism might only have served to aggravate his offence and enhance his punishment. Rene

us it

gade hè might be in reality as well as in appearance, but he was the son of a Christian, and dared to claim affinity with the Prophet! When a Moor abuses bis ass, the first word of vituperation is cuckold; son of a Jew, is the second; and the last expression of abusive hatred is, son of a Christian. The Spanish adventurer ought to admire and acknowledge the generosity of the reigning sultan.

What become of his wives is not stated: it is somewhat remarkable that he should have made no mention of these poor women when he describes the scene of suffering in the desert, for they were in his company.

In this part of his narrative Ali Bey inserts a speculative chapter upon the ancient Atlantis, ard upon the existence of a Mediterranean sea in the entre of Africa. He

supposes

that a chain of Mount Atlas was the famous island of Plato, which has been transformed into a continent, the sea having retired and left bare the sandy deserts which surround it on the east and the south. The first of these suppositions must be mere supposition, and it were a waste of time to argue upon what is incapable of proof,--and, touching the second, we are more inclined to look with hope for the result of the present expeditions to the Niger and the Congo, than to enter again upon the field of conjecture and hypothesis. The information given him by his Morocco merchant strengthens the testimony in favour of the existence of an inland sea.

On the voyage to Tripoli he observed a singular phenomenon ; and here it may be observed, that where this word ought to be employed, the author, or his translator, frequently chooses to employ the word meteor in its stead. “The sea rose at once, and instead of rolling in the usual way, the waves darted up vertically in pyramids, or transparent cones, with very pointed tops, keeping in this form for a long while, and without inclining to either side, till at last they sunk down in a perpendicular direction. The appearance is ascribed, with much probability, to the electricity of some thick clouds then hovering above them, and producing this violent attraction to be in an equilibrium with the electricity of the sea. The ship was in great danger for about ten days, and had the phenomenon continued longer it is probable that Ali Bey would not have survived to relate it. At Tripoli he was well received, though several people of Morocco had been writing against him, and drawn him, as he says, in the blackest colours; but he thought it adviseable to seclude himself, in some degree, for the sake of doing away the recollection of the Morocco affair, and had acquired the pasha's good opinion before he embarked for Alexandria.

Owing to the incapacity and misconduct of the captain the voyage proved highly perilous; at length the ship, almost a perfect wreck, put into the harbour of Limasol in Cyprus. His researches during

[ocr errors]

this

part of his travels are only valuable as they may serve to direct the inquiries of men better qualified to investigate Grecian antiquities. The result of his observations' is a conjecture that Venus was actually a Queen of Cyprus,-beautiful we may suppose, and little disposed to coyness-and this he infers from the existence of some ruins in Cyprus, which are called the Queen's Palace! but having subsequently found other ruins at Paphos, he supposes that there have been two Queen Venuses, of whom the first reigned at Paphos, at Ieroschipos, and at Cuclia, and the second inhabited the palace upon the mountains of Nicosia, and gave laws to Idalia and Cythera, both having existed antecedent to the age of history. The poets he thinks confounded them, and formed of them one goddess. These results' he submits to the opinion of his reader, expecting that the gentle reader, if he should not be disposed to think the hy“ pothesis true, will admit it to be ben trovato, and protesting that he loves truth, and is always disposed to sacrifice to it every system which is not founded upon geometrical demonstration or incontestible facts. The Venus of the poets sprung from froth; and the Venus of Ali Bey agrees with her in this point at least, that she also is a frothy creation,

At length he reached the fine daughter of the great Alexander, that is to say, the city of Alexandria; our traveller sometimes forgets the gravity which belongs to his national as well as his assumed character, and writes with the vicious sentimentalism of a modern Frenchman. There is, indeed, an evident partiality toward the French in his mind little honourable to a Spaniard, who must have composed his travels at a time when the French were engaged in the most unjust and atrocious of all wars against his native country; this is particularly noticeable in his invidious enumeration of the 90,700 men, by whose united efforts a handful of Frenchmen were expelled from Egypt! From the great events which had recently taken place in Egypt he observed one good effect; that the inhabi.. tants were sensible of the superiority of the Europeans in all things, and had learnt to respect them; but those events have left this. wretched country more wretched than before. The voyage up the Nile inspires him with rapture, and with one of those emphatic Ahs, which are employed as liberally in modern French prose, as the not less emphatic Ohs are in modern English verse, he asks . Why did not the Goddess of Love fix her abode at the mouth of that river? The mouth of the Nile, and the scenery upon its banks, are well de scribed. He mentions an island of singular formation : sand and mud have accumulated upon the wreck of one of the river vessels, till a tract of land has grown from the nucleus, which is covered with houses and gardens. The fishermen here kill their prey bg

[ocr errors]

biting them. Has this disgusting practice originated in any

religious injunction ?

He was received at Cairo with all the respect due to a wealthy descendant of the Prophet. The sheiks and principal persons of the city visited him, and unfolded the most ardent philanthropy in their conversation, and he had the honour of setting some stitches in the black cloth which the tailors were sewing to cover the Kaaba. But notwithstanding his Mahommedan character, and the favour of the chiefs, such was the state of the country, that he could not with safety approach the pyramids. The Mikkias was totally neglected and falling fast to ruin. The trade with the interior of Africa was lost, because Upper Egypt was in possession of the Mamelukes, and the revolution in Barbary had interrupted the western caravans : the interior commerce was not more flourishing, yet there was still a great trade carried on at Cairo. Having proceeded to Suez he embarked there in a dao to cross to Djedda. In this perilous traverse the vessel wonderfully escaped destruction, and he himself escaped even more wonderfully, when under a belief that she must inevitably be lost, he put off from her with fourteen companions in an open boat, at midnight, in a tempest, and in total darkness! When they arrived at Araboh, which is at the northern extremity of Beldel el Haram, or the Holy Land of the Mussulmen, the vessel ran upon the sand that the pilgrims might. perform the first duty of their pilgrimage ; they throw themselves into the sea, bathe, perform a general ablution with water and sand, repeat a prayer while naked, put on a sort of philabeg of unseamed cloth, which they call ihram, and, taking some steps in the direction of Mecca, utter an invocation, which Ali Bey has given in Roman characters, but not translated. From this time they must not shave their heads till the ceremonies at Mecca have been performed; Pitts tells us also that while the ihram is worn it is held unlawful for a pilgrim to cut his nails, or killany vermin which may be biting him-he is, however, allowed to remove the troublesome insect from one part of his body to another, where it may graze with less inconvenience. Ali Bey is not the first European who has performed and described the pilgrimage to Mecca. We have a ' faithful account,' in our own language, by Joseph Pitts of Exeter, who having been taken by the Algerines in 1673, and made a Mussulman by dint of persecution, effected his escape many years after wards, and published an honest, plain narrative* of what he had seen and suffered.

* The bistory of another renegado was published about the same time, Thomas Pellow of Penrhyn in Cornwall. What this man relates of himself may or may not be

On the following day they anchored in the harbour of Djedda,

this dreadful passage.' The governor, a negro who had been a slave to the Scherif of Mecca, having failed to obtain a saddle from the traveller as a present, insulted him in the mosque. It was Ali Bey's custom, as a manifestation of his consequence, to send his carpet before him to the mosque, and have it placed by the side of the imam ; he was upon it repeating the introductory prayer when the officer arrived, placed the governor's carpet upon his in such a manner as to cover part of it, tapt him upon the shoulder, and made signs to him to remove, and took possession of his carpet for the chief. Every body looked with astonishment to see how this designed and obvious offence would be resented. I, Scherif, son of Othman Bey el Abbassi,' exclaims the Spaniard, could í support the insult of a slave! The moment the prayers were finished he rose before

any
other
person,

and in a stern voice bade his servants take up the carpet and present it to the imam for the use of the mosque, 'for I,' he added, will never more make use of it for my prayers. The imam was well pleased, the people applauded, and the black governor and his officers, we are told, remained petrified.

From the time of his arrival here, small pitchers, filled from the well Zemzem, were presented him daily, which he drank and paid for. When he reached Mecca, several Mogrebins, (as the Arabs of the West are called,) having been apprized of his coming, were awaiting him at the entrance of the town, with pitchers filled also from the sacred well; they offered to supply his house with it, begged him not to take it from any other person, and secretly cautioned him never to drink that which the chief of the well should offer him. The well Zemzem, the Kaaba, and the Black Stone, are the three holiest things in the Mahommedan world; Zernzem is believed by the Mahommedans to be the spring which gushed forth in the wilderness for the relief of Hagar and Ishmael: marvellous efficacy is ascribed to its waters in giving health to the sick, imparting prodigious strength of memory to those who drink it with faith, and conferring pardon for sins : it even carries off offences in a visible manner; the pilgrims, according to Pitts, drink it in such abundance as to produce pimples over the whole body, “and this they call the purging of their spiritual corruptions.' In his time every pilgrim purchased his shroud at Mecca that he might have the advantage of having it dipped in the holy water, and wherever they travelled afterwards, whether by sea or land, they carried it carefully with them. Zemzem and Siloa are said by the prophet to have their sources in Paradise. Such being the

true ; but his book is for the greater part an impudent plagiarism from Lancelot Addison, and Windhus.

« AnteriorContinuar »