Imágenes de páginas

the mountains and valleys of Tripoli, but was undoubtedly re-echoed throughout the continent of Africa. The women brought into the streets all the brass pans, kettles, and iron utensils they could collect, and striking on them with all their force, and scieaming at the same time, occasioned a borrid noise that was heard for miles.'--Narrative,

p. 166.

We have already attributed the brutalized state of the Moors, to the wretched system of government under which they live. It would exceed our limits to enter into any details on this subject, and we must therefore content ourselves with a few notices, illustrative of the personal character of some of the Barbary sovereigns, on which, in despotic states, every thing must necessarily depend.

The present Sultan of Morocco, Muley Solyman, is a direct de scendant, in the Sheriffe line, of the Arab conquerors of the country. He is a quiet, peaceable man, and, if we may believe a Doctor Buffa, who resided some time at his court, his chief study and attention appear to be directed to the welfare and happiness of his people. Two things are certainly much in his favour-he has aboished Christian slavery, and he employs no Turks to oppress the people; nor does he recrụit the army of blacks, amounting once to 10.000 men, which Muley Ismael imported from the southward of the Sabara, under the notion that they would execute his orders without compunction, and by thus rendering themselves odious to his subjects, be less likely to conspire with them against him. Negroes, however, are still to be found as governors of cities, commanders of the body guard, eunuchs to the harem, and filling other offices of the state.

· The same man,' says Keatinge, who, if kidnapped at his parents' door and brought westward, would handle the hoe, is sold in a northerly direction, wields the baton of command; and by his talents, steadiness, and bravery, is considered the pillar of the state. The same female, who, if exported across the Atlantic, should daily be lacerated by the stripes of the cow-skin, be the daily victim of the brutality of one sex, and the malignity of the other, now sits upon a throne, cause chance pointed her captivity hither.'

Muley Yezid, the brother and predecessor of the present emperor, was altogether a different character, being destitute of every spark of human feeling. He plundered all the Jews in his dominions, and massacred those who did not at once produce their riches ; and he is said to have burned alive six young Jewesses who ventured to plead for their fathers' lives. His first act, on coming to the throne, was to put to death the chief minister, and to cause his head and his hands to be nailed to the door of the Spanish consul's as of African birth. 'I am inclined,' says he, to think that the songs of lamentations, which are sung in temples, had the same origin, because they are commonly used by the women of Lybia.

house, because his father was supposed to have favoured that nation. During his father's life he headed a Negro army, and got himself proclaimed king at Mequinez: the rebellion was soon put down, and as an expiation of his crime he was sent on a pilgrimage to Mecca, with a numerous escort, and a large sum of money as a present to the holy shrine. Of this money he contrived to rob the escort; and as a further punishment, and to keep him out of Morocco, the emperor ordered him to perform three successive pilgrimages before he ventured to show himself in his dominions. In these peregrinations to and from Mecca he contrived to spend much time, to the annoyance of every body at Tripoli, which gave the writer of the Narrative the opportunity of witnessing many of his horrible excesses.

At Tripoli, besides the daughter of an Arab chief whom he had stolen, he had with him seven wives—five Greeks, and two black women. One of them bore him a son there, on which occasion he gave a grand entertainment. His father's treasurer, having made some difficulty about advancing the money for the feast, was made to swallow a quantity of sand, in consequence of which he died a few days afterwards. His general behaviour was so brutal that none of the European consuls would venture near him. When at Tunis, a Spanish renegado, who from the condition of a slave had been elevated to the rank of a mameluke, and set over his harem, was discovered to have seduced the affections of one of his favourite ladies.

• He took no notice at Tunis of the discovery he had made of the infidelity of the fair slave, or the treachery of the renegado, but brought the deluded culprits on with him, not altering his behaviour, while his beart was coolly meditating in what manner to sacrifice them, that their punishment might satiate his revenge. By the time he arrived at Zuarra he had decided the fate of these unfortunate wretches. This cannibal eats not men, but feasts upon their sufferings; he put the two offenders to death, the woman first, and the man afterwards, with his own hands, in a manner the most heightened description of cruelty could not exaggerate.'-p. 196.

This ferocious monster (who, to the relief of suffering humanity, was assassinated a few months after his accession) amused some portion of his leisure, in travelling to and fro between Tripoli and Tunis. The road presented scenery congenial to his savage nature; and we shall give a striking view of one part of it, from the Narrative,' which is here both spirited and picturesque.

"A part of the road from Tunis to Tripoli cannot be passed without great danger on account of wild beasts, which not unfrequently attack passengers, in spite of the precautions taken to prevent their approach. The Bashaw's physician, a Sicilian, performed this tremendous journey.


by land with his wife and two children not long since. He joined an immense caravan, that being the only method by which he could traverse the deserts, and proceeded in safety to this place. The Sicilian has often described to us the gloomy and impenetrable forest they passed, where the repeated bowlings of wild beasts, excited by the scent of cattle accompanying the caravan, were increased and heightened as it drew near their horrible dens. Sometimes the caravan was constrained to remain for several days near these woods, to avoid the approaching hurricane in the desert they were about to pass through ; for by the aspect of the heavens, those who frequent the deserts can often foresee these dreadful winds many hours before they happen. No sooner were the tents pitched and the caravan become stationary, than a peculiar noise in the forest announced the wild beasts verging to the borders of it, there to wait a favourable opportunity to rush out and seize their prey. The dreadful roar of the lion was not heard during the day, but when the darkness came on continued murmurs nounced him, and his voice getting louder broke like peals of thunder on the stillness of the night. The panther and the tiger were seen early in the evening to make circuits nearer and nearer round the caravan. In the centre of it were placed the tents with the women, children, and flocks ; the cattle were ranged next; and the camels, horses, and dogs last. One chain of uninterrupted fires encircling the whole, were kept continually blazing during every night. On the least failure of these fires, the lion was instantly heard to come closer to the

At his roar, the sheep and lambs shook as if in an ague ; the horses, without attempting to move, were instantaneously covered with a strong perspiration from the terror; the cries of the cattle were distressing ; the dogs started from every part of the caravan, and assembling together in one spot, seemed endeavouring by their united howlings to frighten away the savage devourer, from whose tremendous power nothing was able to save them but a fresh blaze of fire. Twice during this journey the lion was seen to carry off his prey, each time a sheep, to the universal terror of the affrighied spectators, who in vain with fire-arms endeavoured to prevent him.'--pp. 288, 289.

The father of Muley Solyman and Muley Yezid, filled the throne of Morocco when Mr. Lempriere and Colonel Keatinge visited that empire. By their accounts, he affected to distribute justice im. partially, and, wherever he happened to be, to hear all complaints and petitions in person. We are told by Jackson that his judgment was prompt, decisive, plausible, and generally correct. His usual seat of justice was the saddle, and a scarlet umbrella, held over his head, the symbol of sovereignty. It is the custom in all the Barbary states for every person, whatever his rank or condition may be, to accompany his suit with a present corresponding to the magnitude of the favour he has to ask, or the condition of the suitor ; and whatever Mr. Jackson may say to the contrary, the hog,' we suspect, will be very aptó to overturn the pot of oil. We



have a good illustration of the manner in which the Barbary sovereigns administer justice in person, in the case of the Bey of Tunis, who always makes a parade of sitting himself in the judgment seat, and of affording access to his person to the lowest subject in his dominions. A horde of Bedouin Arabs set out for Tunis tocomplain of the bashaw who had been set over them. Aware of this, the bashaw got the start of them, and stated his case to the Bey, praying at the same time his acceptance of a small proof of his inviolable attachment to his highness's person. This proof was con tained in a purse of ten thousand piastres. Very well,' said the Bey, 'give the money to Mariano' (his treasurer). Presently the Arabs came into the hall, imploring the Bey to remove the chief, and give them a less tyrannical governor, supporting their request with another purse of ten thousand piastres. Well, well,” said the Bey, 'give the money to Mariano, and you shall have justice.' Then calling together the whole party he thus addressed them :

« « My friends, I was fully aware of the justice of your complaints, and have most severely reprimanded that man, who has sworn upon the head of our holy prophet, that he will in future behave better to you, and endeavour to merit your esteem; take him therefore to your hearts, and be likewise good to him; and as for you,” (turning to the chief,) “ let it be known to all these people, that if the smallest complaint is again made against your administration, your head will pay the forfeiture of your promise."

And they all retired, applauding the wisdom and justice of their beneficent sovereign.-Blaquiere's Letters from the Mediter


After such a monster as Muley Ismael, with whom, however, George I. concluded a treaty of peace and amity, Sidi Mahomet, the late emperor, appeared to Keatinge a good sort of man. He did not, like Muley Ismael, acquire a dexterity in taking off heads by practising on unoffending passengers, nor exercise himself in decapitating criminals, an amusement which he generally reserved for the sabbath day-on the contrary, we are told, as a favourable trait in his character, that he never put a man to death with his own hand—but he tried to do it once; or, in our author's whimsical phraseology, the charge has been very near capability of substantiation.' * One of his officers, thinking himself wronged by him, expressed himself so firmly in the royal presence, that the sultan, enraged, drew his sabre and cut him on the head with a šo definitively effort, that the weapon, by the violence of it, flew out of his hand. The officer took it from the ground, wiped and presented it to his master to finish the business, which impressive instance of resigned resolution so struck the despot, that he relented, sheathed his sword, and took him into favour ever after.'

We should doubt whether this was not rather a momentary res

pite of passion than an effort of magnanimity, and we should doubt it the more from the circumstance of Lempriere having seen this same personage drawn about the court yard of his haram, in a four-wheeled carriage, by the sons of four Spanish renegadoes. It would seem, however, from Jardine's account, that the sovereign is the only legal executioner in his kingdom, and that his sentences, all sudden inspirations, are put in execution--and heads and hands chopped off-before the cause is half heard. The hand of a thief is disposed of with very little ceremony, and the hæmorrhage immediately stopped by plunging the stumpinto boiling pitch. This, says Keatinge, obviates all necessity for bandages, tourniquets, or dressings; the criminal after this process is turned loose, and no further inquiry made about him.

Sidi Mahromed affected a love of literature, and a predilection for the mathematics; to show the extent of his knowledge in this science, he used to scratch on a board, with a pair of carpenter's compasses, the common mode of raising a perpendicular, which he had learned from a sea captain ; and this exhibition he generally went through when any Europeans visited his court. He lived to the age of seventy-eight, but in a state of such suspicion, that he made his sons his tasters, and, void of faith in man, confaded his chamber to a guard of blood-bounds.

The Dey of Algiers is a Turk, sometimes appointed by the Grand Signior, but usually chosen out of the Divan, or body of Janizaries, who control both him and the country; and subsists by plunder anđextortion. The political history of Barbary is, in fact, a history of massacres, and a Dey of Algiers is hardly expected to die in his bed.

The Bey of Tunis is of Turkish descent, but a native African, and both the court and the people of this state are more civilized, and less bigoted, and averse from strangers than those of Algiers. The Bashaw of Tripoli is a native Moor, a timid man, an usurper of his brother's throne, but desirous of living in quiet, and at peace with all the world. Thus constituted as to sovereigns are, at present, the four Barbary states. But, as we have observed, so much depends on the personal character of the sovereign, that, without some better established laws, and more permanent system of go. vernment, the ephemeral sceptre of each of them (Morocco, perhaps, excepted) will remain, as it has been, a prize to be contended for by Turks, Venetians, Neapolitans, Sardinians, Spaniards, and renegadoes of every Christian nation ; the son of a Corsican slave having once wielded the sceptre of Tunis, deprives Bonaparte of being the only adventurer from that island who renounced his religion and usurped a throne.

Of the reigning family of Tripoli, the character of the bashaw,

« AnteriorContinuar »