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the Years of 1845 and 1846, by James Richardson

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Title: Travels in the Great Desert of Sahara, in the Years of 1845 and 1846

Author: James Richardson

Release Date: July 17, 2007 [EBook #22094]
Last Updated: April 7, 2018

Language: English

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IN THE YEARS OF 1845 AND 1846.






Φωνὴ βοῶντος ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ.




Publisher in Ordinary to Her Majesty.

Table of Contents

 Volume I. 
I.From Tunis to Tripoli1
II.From Tripoli to the Mountains25
III.From the Mountains to Ghadames41
IV.Residence in Ghadames to Beginning of the Ramadan89
V.The Fast of the Ramadan129
VI.The Fast of the Ramadan159
VII.Fast of the Ramadan190
VIII.Fast of the Ramadan221
IX.Continued Residence in Ghadames246
X.Continued Residence in Ghadames277
XI.Continued Residence in Ghadames301
XII.Preparations for going to Soudan330
XIII.Preparations for going to Soudan358
XIV.From Ghadames to Ghat383
XV.From Ghadames to Ghat410
 Volume II. 
XVI.Residence in Ghat1
XVII.Residence in Ghat34
XVIII.Residence in Ghat56
XIX.Abandon the Tour to Soudan77
XX.Continued Residence in Ghat115
XXI.Continued Residence in Ghat152
XXII.Preparations for Departure to Fezzan189
XXIII.From Ghat to Mourzuk224
XXIV.From Ghat to Mourzuk270
XXV.Residence at Mourzuk308
XXVI.Residence at Mourzuk336
XXVII.From Mourzuk to Sockna363
XXVIII.From Mourzuk to Sockna386
XXIX.Residence in Sockna408
XXX.From Sockna to Misratah433
XXXI.From Misratah to Tripoli460

List of Illustrations

Volume I. 
Portrait of the Authorfacing Title-page.
Map of the Desertviii
Slave Caravanxxxii
Arab Tents30
Facsimile Specimen of the Writing of a Young Taleb114
Manner of drawing Water from Wells127
Great Spring of Ghadames185
Square of Fountains225
City of Ghadames268
Cistern of an Ancient Tower282
Negro's Head303
Ancient Ruins of Ghadames357
Region of Sands407
Rocking Rock436
Volume II. 
A Sand Stormfacing Title-page.
Architectural detail of Houses71
Stones for grinding Corn81
Touaricks seated in the Shelly108
View of the Town of Ghat from the Oasis163
Governor's Palace, Ghat198
Dress of Touarick Men207
Dress of Touarick Men showing Litham209
"The Demon's Palace"243
Shapes of Desert Mosques269
Targhee Scout302
Detail of Talisman418
Carved Stone, Ancient Roman Station of Septimus Severus445


Transcriber's Notes

1. On page 249 of Vol. II, there is a possible line missing. A period has been changed to a comma and marked. See the original page image for details.

2. 'th' in dates has been italicised consistently.

3. There are numerous spelling inconsistencies in proper and place names as well as within accented characters. These have been left as printed.

4. A list of illustrations has been created for Volume II. Illustrations have been titled with the text from the illustration lists.

5. The remaining corrections made are indicated by dotted lines under the corrections. Scroll the mouse over the word and the original text will appear.





IN THE YEARS OF 1845 AND 1846.






Φωνὴ βοῶντος ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ.





Publisher in Ordinary to Her Majesty.



Portrait of the Author


In the Ghadamsee Costume.


London: Richard Bentley, 1848.





Table of Contents

I.From Tunis to Tripoli1
II.From Tripoli to the Mountains25
III.From the Mountains to Ghadames41
IV.Residence in Ghadames to Beginning of the Ramadan89
V.The Fast of the Ramadan129
VI.The Fast of the Ramadan159
VII.Fast of the Ramadan190
VIII.Fast of the Ramadan221
IX.Continued Residence in Ghadames246
X.Continued Residence in Ghadames277
XI.Continued Residence in Ghadames301
XII.Preparations for going to Soudan330
XIII.Preparations for going to Soudan358
XIV.From Ghadames to Ghat383
XV.From Ghadames to Ghat410

List of Illustrations

Portrait of the Authorfacing Title-page.
Map of the Desertviii
Slave Caravanxxxii
Arab Tents30
Facsimile Specimen of the Writing of a Young Taleb114
Manner of drawing Water from Wells127
Great Spring of Ghadames185
Square of Fountains225
City of Ghadames268
Cistern of an Ancient Tower282
Negro's Head303
Ancient Ruins of Ghadames357
Region of Sands407
Rocking Rock436

Map of the Desert











London, Richard Bentley, New Burlington Street, 1848.




The sentiment of Antiquity—that "The life of no man is pleasing to the gods which is not useful to his fellows,"—has been my guiding principle of action during the last twelve years of my life. To live for my own simple and sole gratification, to have no other object in view but my own personal profit and renown, would be to me an intolerable existence. To be useful, or to attempt to be useful, in my day and generation, was the predominant motive which led me into The Desert, and sustained me there, alone and unprotected, during a long and perilous journey.

But, in presenting this work to the British public, I have to state, that it is only supplementary and fragmentary. If, therefore, any one were to judge of the results of my Saharan Tour merely by what is here given, he would do me a great injustice. I had expected, by this time, that certain Reports on the Commerce and Geography of The Great Desert, as well as a large Map of the Routes of this part of Africa, would have been given to the public. It is not my fault that their publication is still delayed. I can only regret it, because what I am now publishing comes first, instead of last, and consequently deranges[xii] my plan, the following pages being, indeed, supplementary to the Reports and Map. I come, therefore, before the public with no small disadvantage.

With regard to these supplementary and fragmentary extracts from my journal, I have also to state, they consist only of about two-thirds of the journal. For the present, I deemed it prudent to suppress the rest. But this likewise may disturb the harmony and mar the completeness of the work. However, if these portions of the journal are favourably received, other extracts may yet be published.

On entering The Desert, my principal object was to ascertain how and to what extent the Saharan Slave-Trade was carried on; although but a comparatively small portion of the following pages is devoted to this subject. I have already reported fully on this traffic, and it was unnecessary to go over the ground again, which might defeat, by disagreeable repetitions and endless details, the object which I have in view,—that of exciting an abhorrence of the Slave-Trade in the hearts of my fellow countrymen and countrywomen.

In these published extracts from my journal, I have endeavoured to give a truthful and faithful picture of the Saharan Tribes; their ideas, thoughts, words, and actions; and, where convenient, I have allowed them to speak and act for themselves. This is the main object which I have undertaken to accomplish in this Narrative of my Personal Adventures in The Sahara. The public must, and will, I doubt not, judge how far I have suc[xiii]ceeded, and award me praise or blame, as may be my desert. If I have failed, I shall not abandon myself to despair, but shall console myself with the thought that I have done the best I was able to do under actual circumstances, and in my then state of health. It would, indeed, ill become me to shrink from public criticism, after having braved the terrors and hardships of The Desert. However, the publication of this journal may induce others to penetrate The Desert,—persons better qualified, and more ably and perfectly equipped than myself, and who may so accomplish something more permanently advantageous than what I have been able to compass. Acting, then, as pioneer to others, my Saharan labours will not be fruitless.

But, if any persons obstinately object to the style and matters of my Narrative of Desert Travel, I shall likewise as obstinately endeavour to hold my ground. To all such I say,—"Go to now, ye objectors and gainsayers, and do better." My mission was motu proprio, and I plunged in The Desert without your permission. But I am but one of the two hundred millions of Europe. You can surely get volunteers. You have the money, the rank, the patronage, and the learned and philanthropic Societies of Europe at your back. Send others; inspire them yourselves, and they may produce something which you like better than what I have given you. If I am not orthodox enough,—if I have not reviled the Deism of The Desert sufficiently to your taste,—send those who will. A little less zeal in Exeter Hall, and a[xiv] little more in The Desert, would do neither you nor the world any harm. A little less clamour about Church orthodoxy, or any other doxy[1], and a little more anxiety for the welfare of all mankind, would infinitely more become you, as Englishmen and Christians, and be more in harmony with that divine injunction, which sent out the first teachers of Christianity amongst the Greeks and Barbarians, in The City and The Desert, to preach the Gospel to every creature under heaven. If I be too much of an abolitionist, send one who admires slavery, and who will write up the Slave-Trade of The Desert. I have written in my way: you write in your way. If my pages disclose no discoveries in science, this I can only lament. When a man has no science in him, or no education in science, he can give you none. But what are your European Societies of Science for? Are they play-things, or are they serious affairs? Have you neither money nor zeal to equip a scientific expedition to The Desert? If not, I cannot help you. By the way, I was astonished to receive, since my return, a note from one of your eminent geologists, repudiating and protesting against all knowledge of the subject of "The Geology of The Desert." And The Desert is a fifth part of the[xv] African Continent! Yet this gentleman dogmatizes and theorizes on all geological formations, and can tell the whole history of the geology of our planet, from the first moment when it was bowled by the hand of The Omnipotent in the immensity of space, of suns and systems! If such presumption and self-willed ignorance discover themselves in great men, what are we to expect of little men?

In the following pages, I have encroached upon my Reports, to describe several of the Oases of The Desert, besides giving as much of the routes as was necessary to render the Narrative of my journey intelligible. But this is all I could conscientiously do. For the rest of the geographical information, the public must wait.

I return for a moment to the traffic in slaves. Born with an innate hatred of oppression, whatever form, or shape, or name it may take, and under what modes soever it may be developed, mentally or bodily, in chaining men down under a political despotism, or in forging for them a creed and forcing it on their consciences,—I have, since I could exercise the power of reflection, always looked upon the traffic in human flesh and blood as the most gigantic system of wickedness the world ever saw; and which I most deplore, in this our late, more humane and enlightened age, stands forth and raises its horrid head, impiously defying Heaven! In very truth, it is a system of crime, which dares

"Defy the Omnipotent to arms!"

The reader must, therefore, excuse the language with which I have execrated this traffic in the pages of my[xvi] Journal. There may be some men who think it no crime to buy and sell their fellow-men; I have seen many such amongst the Moslems. But he who thinks the traffic in slaves to be a crime against the human race, has a right to denounce it accordingly. I must therefore make a few preliminary observations, though painful to my feelings.

It is notorious that the agitations of the Anti-Corn-Law League have given very lately a powerful impulse to the Slave-Trade, and slaves have risen in Cuba to 30 and 50 per cent. above their previous average value, since slave sugar has been admitted upon the same terms, or nearly so, as free-labour sugar, into England. This is entirely the work of The League. Some of these gentlemen think we must have cheap sugar at any risk, at any cost, even if wetted with the blood of the slaves. A ridiculous incident occurs to me. I once saw a child frightened into a dislike for white loaf sugar, by holding up a piece to the candle, and pretending it dropped blood. But there is no delusion or metaphor here, for the sugars of slave-plantations are really obtained by the blood-whippings and scourgings of the victimized slaves!

As to Cobden, his Cobdenites, and Satellites, they would sell their own souls, and the whole human race into bondage, to have a free trade in slaves and sugar. This new generation of impostors—who teach that all virtue and happiness consist in buying in the cheapest, and selling in the dearest markets—are now dogging at the heels of Government, in combination with the West India[xvii] agents, to get them to re-establish a species of mitigated Slave-Trade, because, forsooth, there should be right and liberty to buy and sell a man, as there is right and liberty to buy and sell a beast.

I am not an enemy to Free Trade. I have duly noticed and praised the free-trade mart of Ghat, and shown how it prospers in comparison with the restricted system of the Turks, prevalent at Mourzuk. But this I do say, the case of Slavery was an exceptional case, as the Ten Hours' Factory Bill was an exceptional case in the regulation and restriction of labour. I fear, however, there are some of the Leaguers so outrageous in their advocacy of abstract principles, that they would have a free-trade in vice—a free-trade in consigning people to perdition! They are of the calibre of the men who wielded that dread engine of the "Reign of Terror," the "Committee of Public Safety," and made it death to speak a word against the "One Indivisible Republic[2]." These Leaguers are bent upon establishing an equal, although differently-formed, tyranny amongst us, and we cannot too soon and too energetically resist their odious and intolerable pretensions.

But I know not, whether these civil tyrants be so bad as the spiritual tyrants who have just set up for themselves what they call a "Free Kirk." These reverend gentlemen have received the fruits of the blood of the slaves, employed on the laborious fields of the Southern States of America, to build up their new Free[xviii] Church, pretending they have a Divine right to receive the value of the forced-labour of slaves, and quoting Scripture like the Devil himself. When called upon to refund they refuse, and make the contributions of the Presbyterian slave-dealers of the United States a sort of corner-stone of their Free Kirk. Why these priests of religion out-O'Connell-O'Connell, who point-blank refused, for the support of his sham Repeal, and sent back contemptuously, the dollars spotted and tainted with the blood of the slaves! . . . . . . . . It is the old story, the old trick of our good friends, the Scottish divines, and their old leaven of Scottish fanaticism. We know them of ancient date. We have read a line of Milton, who in his time so admirably resisted their bigotry. It is immortal like all that our divine bard wrote. Here is the line—

"New Presbyter is but old Priest writ large."

The Free Kirk has cut its connexion with the State, because it says the State wishes to enslave its ministers. Yet it has no objection to receive monies from the slave-holders in America. The Free Kirk will build up its boasted freedom on the wasting blood and bones of the unhappy children of Africa! Why, indeed, should these Scottish divines, headed by the Presbyters Candlish and Cunningham, seek or advocate the freedom of the slaves held by their fellow Presbyters of the United States? Is it not enough that they seek and maintain their own freedom, and at whatsoever cost? Have they not[xix] received the pro-slavery mantle of the late venerated Dr. Chalmers, and can they, poor pigmies, possibly shake it off? Would it not be impious to do so? No, they cannot,—dare not do this. For, as it was said by Lord George Bentinck, of a quondam champion of the people, in the last Session of Parliament, "Liberty is on their tongues, but despotism is in their hearts."

What can be more humiliating to a generous and tolerant mind, than to see a body of Christian ministers struggling to obtain by a Parliamentary enactment, the cession of plots of land for building of churches for the worship of God in liberty and truth, from the tyrannical holders of the soil; and, at the same time, this very body of priests does not scruple to receive the money of American slave-holders, to build and endow these self-same churches? Such incredible inconsistency makes one sick at heart, and inclined to question the existence of Christian feelings in the professors and teachers of Christianity!

It is deeply to be deplored that our Anti-Slavery Society confines itself so much to protests, and what it calls "the moral principle." No people of the world has done more for the liberties of Africa than the Society of Friends in England, and no people more admirably exemplify in their conduct the humane and pacific morals of Christianity. But when the Founder of our religion resisted his enemies by the remonstrance, "Why strikest thou me?" something more was meant than a protest. We have had lately a triste example of the end of protests in a neighbouring country. The annual protest of[xx] the French Chamber of Deputies against the extinction of the nationality of Poland, not only ended in barren results, and excited public ridicule, but actually terminated in the triumph of the nefarious scheme against which it was made. Never was a country so humiliated as France in this case!—Its Chief, the Sovereign of its choice, consenting at the time, to the damning act of the extinction of Polish nationality, for the sake of accomplishing a low and scandalous family intrigue in Spain! This was something more than ridiculous, and is one of the many infamies of our age, perpetrated on so large a scale. Now, I do not assert, that the protests of the Anti-Slavery Society will end in the re-enactment of the Slave-Trade by the British Parliament. But the last and present Sessions of Imperial Parliament, show symptoms of our country abandoning Africa, after the labours of half a century, to all the horrors of the Slave-Trade. Mr. P. Borthwick and Mr. Hume, more especially the latter, pleaded, in conjunction with others, during last Session, for the withdrawal of the British cruisers from off the Western Coast of Africa, and free trade in emigration, if not in slaves. In this good work, of course, they have the sympathies of the Anti-Slavery Free Trading League. Some of our journals opine, in their late articles, that a change has come over the spirit of our abolition dream, and suggest that the clerk, in charge of the Anti-Slavery Papers at the Foreign Office, is an old antiquated, superannuated being. In a word, these journals and Mr. Hume's pro-slavery clique, see no reason why Great Britain should[xxi] not exhibit to this and succeeding ages, the most dreadful bad faith in the case of British abolition. They would have us say to the world:—"All our Anti-Slavery efforts, our Parliamentary enactments against Slavery, our huge blue books of published Anti-Slavery papers, our protocols and treaties with Foreign Powers, all, each, and singular, are one grand organized system of selfishness and hypocrisy." I know very well that, in general, foreigners give us no credit whatever for our anti-slavery feelings and public acts for the suppression of the Slave-Trade. This they have reiterated in my ears. And, how can they give us credit for sincerity in abolition, when our public men and public writers call for something like the re-enactment of the British Slave-Trade?—and, whilst our quondam champions of Free Churches receive the blood-stained money of slave-labour to build up their new ecclesiastical establishments? Mankind reason from actions, and not from verbal or written declarations. Our Act of Abolition, and the famous twenty millions, are not such wonderful things after all, when we owed a hundred millions to the descendants of our slaves. We were also nearly half a century in abolishing the traffic, after it had been denounced as robbery and murder by our highest and greatest statesmen, Pitt and Fox[3]. This slowness of our work has given the[xxii] cue to the suspicions of our national enemies; and, certainly, to use a gross vulgarism, has "taken out the shine," or very much dimmed the lustre of this great act of justice to the African race.

Here I cannot restrain myself from giving a word of caution to the working-classes of our country, to those more especially who head the new "National Society," and form other and similar leagues. You say the politicians of the Anti-Corn Law League are your men; you adore your Humes, and Duncombes, and Wakleys. You, English democrats, or reformers, as you may call yourselves, admire the self-government and cheap government of the Transatlantic Model Republic. You do well. But now read some of their latest handiworks, without note or comment on my part. The violent impulse given to the Slave-Trade in Cuba and the Brazils—the advocacy of a free trade in Slaves by the Leaguers in and out the British Parliament—the invasion and subjugation of Mexico, on the joint principles of lust of conquest and the extension of Slavery. Deny these facts if you can. Learn, then, to think, there may be democracy and republicanism without liberty or freedom.

I pray God, that the protests and public appeals and remonstrances to Government of the Anti-Slavery Society may not end in barren results. But if the Leaguers and Democrats have their own way, its voice, though just and righteous, will be at length reduced to a faint cry, a last shriek of despair—overwhelmed by the loud laughs and jeers of the fiends, which possess the dealers[xxiii] in human flesh and blood, and surround unhappy and doomed Africa with a cordon of rapine and murder, of blood and flames!

"Where the vultures and vampires of Mammon resort, Where Columbia exulting drains Her life-blood from Africa's veins, Where the image of God is accounted as base, And the image of Cæsar set up in its place."

If I were asked, "What can be done for Africa?" I should reply with no new thing, no nostrums of my own concocting, but what has been reiterated again and again. Teach her children to till the soil—to cultivate available exports by which they may obtain in exchange, through the medium of a legitimate commerce, the European products and manufactures necessary for their use and enjoyment. Until this be done, nothing effectual will be done. In vain you send missionaries of religion, or agents of abolition; in vain you contract treaties with the Princes of Africa. It is humiliating to think, equally a disgrace to our religion as to our civilization, that our connexion with Africa has only served to plunge her into deeper misery and profounder degradation. With truth we here may apply the strong censure of a Chinese Emperor, "That the march of Christians is whitened with human bones." Wherever we have touched her western shores there our footsteps have been marked with blood and devastation. We have fostered and encouraged within the heart of Africa the most odious and unnatural passions. We have[xxiv] stimulated the prince to sell his subjects, the father to sell his child, the brother to sell the sister, the husband the wife, into thrice-accursed and again accursed slavery! We have done all and more than this, whilst we have convulsed every state and kingdom of Africa with war, for the supply of cargoes of human beings. And for what? To cultivate our miserable cotton and sugar plantations! These are the doctrines of mercy and charity which we have taught the poor untutored children of Africa. Happy for poor forlorn, dusky, naked Africa, had she never seen the pale visage or met the Satanic brow of the European Christian! Does any man in his senses, who believes in God and Providence, think that the wrongs of Africa will go on for ever unavenged? Already, has not Providence avenged the wrongs of Africa upon Spain and Portugal, by reducing their national character and consideration to the lowest in the European family of nations? And as to the United States of America, has not the boasted liberty of our Republican countrymen, who colonized America, become a by-word, a hissing, and a scorn, amongst the nations of the earth? Have not these slave-holding Americans committed acts, nationally, within the last few years, which the most absolute Governments of Europe would blush to be guilty of? And what is one of their last acts, on a smaller scale, but not less decisively indicative of their national morality? The New York Bible Society has declared that it will not give the Bible to slaves, even when they are able to read the[xxv] Bible! Would the Czar of Russia permit such an impious rule as this to be made by his nobles for their slaves or serfs? Such an action would render the liberties of a thousand republics a mockery, a snare, and a delusion, and their names infamous throughout the world.

And the time of us Englishmen will come next—our day of infamy! unless we show ourselves worthy that transcendant position in which Providence has placed us, at the pinnacle of the empires of Earth, as the leaders and champions of universal freedom.

In noticing the efforts made for raising Africa from her immemorial degradation, we are bound to confess our obligations to the Mahometans for what they have done. If they have extirpated Christianity from the soil of North Africa, and planted, instead of this tree of fair and pure fruit, the more glaring and showy plant of Islamism, they have, at the same time, endeavoured to raise Africa to their own level of demi-civilization. Whilst we condemn their slave-traffic as we condemn our own, we must do justice to the efforts which they have made, by the spread of their creed and the diffusion of their commerce, during a series of ten or twelve centuries, for promoting the civilization of Africa. They have succeeded, they have done infinitely more for Africa than we ourselves. They have organized and established regular governments through all Central Africa, and inculcated a taste for the occupation and the principles of commerce. A great portion of this internal trade is untainted by slavery. Bornou, Soudan,[xxvi] Timbuctoo, and Jinnee, exhibit to us groups of immense and populous cities, all regularly governed and trading with one another. They have abolished human sacrifice, which lingers in our East India possessions to this day. They have regulated marriage and restrained polygamy. They have made honour and reverence to be paid to grey hairs, superseding the diabolical custom of exposing or destroying the aged. They have introduced a knowledge of reading and writing. The oases of Ghat and Ghadames furnish more children, in proportion, who can read and write, than any of our English towns. The Koran is transcribed in beautiful characters by Negro Talebs on the banks of the Niger. The Moors have likewise introduced many common useful trades into Central Africa. But above all, the Mohammedans have introduced the knowledge of the one true God! and destroyed the fetisch idols. Let us then take care how we arrogate to ourselves the right and fact of civilizing the world. Nay, there cannot be a question, if we would abandon Africa to the Mohammedans, and leave off our man-stealing trade and practices on the Western Coast, the dusky children of the torrid zones would gradually advance in civilization. But is not the bare idea of such an alternative an indelible disgrace to Christendom?

Mr. Cooley, in his learned work, entitled "The Negroland of the Arabs[4]," seems to doubt if the Slave-Trade[xxvii] can be abolished or civilization advanced, in Central Africa, because of the neighbourhood of The Desert. This, however, is transferring the guilt of slavery and of voluntary barbarism, if barbarism can be crime, from the volition of responsible man to a great natural fact, or circumstance of creation—The Desert; and is a style of observation perfectly indefensible, as well as contrary to philosophy and facts. First, we cannot limit the stretch or progress of the Negro mind any more than that of the European intellect. Mr. Cooley himself admits that the Nigritian people have advanced in civilization. And if they have advanced, why not continue to advance? But so far contrary are facts to Mr. Cooley's theory, that The Desert, instead of being an obstacle to civilization, is favourable to it, whilst the Nigritian countries beyond the influence of The Desert are plunged into deeper barbarism. The reader will only have to compare my account of the Touaricks, with the recently published account of the social state of the kingdom of Dahomy,[xxviii] to convince himself how completely fallacious in application is Mr. Cooley's theory[5]. Slaves, too, abound in thickly populated countries as well as desert countries: witness China and India. The Sahara, also, has its paradisical spots, or oases of enjoyment, as well as its wastes and hardships. It is likewise, not true, that the Saharan tribes depend for their happiness on the possession of slaves, or that life in The Desert is galling and insupportable. Many a happy oasis is without a slave. However this may be, it is always an extremely dangerous line of argument, to represent moral depravity as springing necessarily from certain physical and unalterable circumstances of creation. Finally, to represent The Great Desert as the buttress of the Slave-Trade, is contrary to all our experience. In deserts and mountains we find always the free-men: in soft and luxurious countries we find the slaves. It is not the free-born Touarick who is the slave-dealer, or the stimulator of the slave-traffic, but the Moorish merchant, and the voluptuary on the coast who sends him. All that the Saharan tribes do, is to escort the merchants over The Desert; and they would still escort them over The Desert did they not deal in slaves, carrying on only legitimate commerce.

I may conclude by a word on Discoveries in The Sahara. It is now twenty years or more since The Sahara was explored, or before my present hap-hazard tour. From what I have seen since my return, and the little[xxix] encouragement given to this sort of enterprise,—the public of Great Britain being so much occupied with railways, free-trade, and currency questions, educational schemes, and State endowed, or voluntary ecclesiastical establishments,—it is difficult to foresee how and when another tour may be undertaken, or how a tourist will have the heart to make another experiment. Unhappily, the spirit of discovery, like Virtue's self, is difficult to be satisfied with its own reward. Something, however, may in time be expected from the French, who will get restless in their Algerian limits, and make a bold effort to disenthral themselves, by leaping the bounds of the mysterious Sahara. Evidently the French Government have prohibited all isolated attempts. But should their colony succeed, and they must make it succeed, then a grand stroke of policy and action will be struck upon the lines of the Saharan routes, for diverting The Desert trade, if possible, into Algerian channels. We must wait patiently this time for further researches. Necessity propels nations in the march of discovery. England has some considerable stake likewise in the commerce of The Great Desert. But our governmental affairs are so vast, and ramify over so large a space of the world, that it is extremely difficult to get a Minister to strike out a new path, unless he has the sympathies and hearty support of the public with him. And certainly the last thing in the imagination of the British public is the undertaking Discoveries in The Great Desert.

A remark may be made respecting the English spel[xxx]ling of Arabic words and names. I have not adopted the new system, as very few people understand it. I have endeavoured to represent the sounds of the original words in the ordinary way, giving sometimes the Arabic letters for those who prefer greater correctness. The spelling of Oriental and African names is also occasionally varied for the sake of variety, and sometimes I have written the words in various ways, according to the style of pronunciation amongst different Saharan tribes. I have also omitted accents and italics as much as possible, to avoid confusion and trouble to the printer. With respect to the contents at the head of the chapters, numberless little things and circumstances are besides unavoidably omitted in the enumeration.

I have few acknowledgments to make to those who rendered me assistance in the prosecution of my Saharan tour and researches. I have rather complaints to prefer against professed friends. I was unable to get up in The Desert a single thing, the most trifling, to aid me in my observations, when I had determined to penetrate farther into the interior; whilst, somehow or other, a Memorandum was obtained from the Porte to recal me instead of a Firman to help me on my way. Fortunately I was beyond its power when it arrived at Tripoli, from Constantinople. But if I feel the bitterness of this want of sympathy, and these acts of hostility, I have the pleasure of being triumphant over all the obstacles thrown in my way. I felt freer in The Desert, unloaded by obligations. Indeed, the fewer of these a traveller[xxxi] has, the better. He always supports his trials and privations with lighter spirits and a more cheerful heart. His success is his own, if his failure is his own also. Nevertheless I have not forgotten, nor can I ever forget, to the latest day of my life, the acts of kindness shown to me by the rude and simple-minded people of The Desert, and I have duly and most scrupulously chronicled them all.



December, 1847.

Postscript.—It is hoped, for the honour and humanity of our Government, that they will resist the clamour to withdraw the Cruisers from the Western Coast of Africa, and that they will not withdraw the British Cruisers. If a blow is to be struck, let it be struck at Cuba, or the Brazils, and not on the defenceless Africans, because they are defenceless. If a burglar prowls about, a whole neighbourhood is on the alert to protect itself against his depredations. If a band of pirates swarm in a sea or infest our coasts, a fleet is fitted out to capture them. But it is attempted to let loose upon weak, defenceless Africa a legion of pirates and murderers—for such will be the result if the British Cruisers are withdrawn from the Western Coast.


[1] See the newspapers for the correspondence between some of the Bishops of our Church and the Premier. As the question is, Whether Dr. Hampden be a Heretic or a Christian? I may here observe that the term "Christian" is used in the following pages for "European." To the epithet "Christian," in the strict sense of the term, I have no other pretensions than that of being a conscientious reader of the New Testament.

[2] "Une et indivisible."

[3] Lord Brougham, in his Life of Pitt, very properly takes off some discount from the Anti-Slavery zeal of this great Statesman, for being so tardy in the work of Abolition, and allowing his Under Secretaries and subordinate Ministers to support the Slave-Trade against himself, and whilst he was advocating its extinction.

[4] "It is impossible to deny the advancement of civilization in that zone of the African continent which has formed the field of our inquiry. Yet barbarism is there supported by natural circumstances with which it is vain to think of coping. It may be doubted whether, if mankind had inhabited the earth only in populous and adjoining communities, slavery would have ever existed. The Desert, if it be not absolutely the root of the evil, has, at least, been from the earliest times the great nursery of slave hunters. The demoralization of the towns on the Southern borders of The Desert has been pointed out; and if the vast extent be considered of the region in which man has no riches but slaves, no enjoyment but slaves, no article of trade but slaves, and where the hearts of wandering thousands are closed against pity by the galling misery of life, it will be difficult to resist the conviction that the solid buttress on which slavery rests in Africa, is—The Desert." (p. 139.)

[5] See Mr. Duncan's Travels in Western Africa.




J. E. S. del. J. W. Cook. sc.







Project of Journey.—Opinions of People upon its practicability.—Moral character of Europeans in Barbary.—Leave the Isle of Jerbah for Tripoli in the coaster Mesâoud.—Return back.—Wind in Jerbah.—Start again for Tripoli.—Sâkeeah.—Zarzees.—Biban.—The Salinæ, or Salt-pits.—Rais-el-Makhbes.—Zouwarah.—Foul Wind, and put into the port of Tripoli Vecchia.—Quarrel of Captain with Passengers.—Description of this Port.—My fellow-travellers, and Said the runaway Slave.—Arrival at Tripoli, and Health-Office.—Colonel Warrington, British Consul-General.—The British Garden.—Interview with Mehemet Pasha.—Barbary Politics.—Aspect of Tripoli.—Old Castle of the Karamanly Bashaws.—Manœuvring of the Pasha's Troops.—The Pasha's opinion of my projected Tour.—Resistance of the Pasha to my Voyage, and overcome by the Consul.—Departure from Tripoli to Ghadames.


Accident often determines the course of a man's life. The greater part of human actions, however humiliating to our moral and intellectual dignity, is the result of sheer accident. That the accidents of life should harmonize with the immutable decrees of Providence, is the great mystery of an honest and thinking mind. The reading accidentally of a fugitive brochure, thrown upon[2] the table of the public library of Algiers, gave me the germ of the idea, which, fructifying and expanding, ultimately led me to the design of visiting and exploring the celebrated Oasis of Ghadames, planted far-away amidst the most appalling desolations of the Great Saharan Wilderness. This should teach us to lower our pretensions, and take a large discount from our merits in originating our various enterprises; but, alas! our over-weening self-love always manages to get the better of us. The brochure alluded to was a number of the Revue de L'Orient, published at Paris, containing a notice of Ghadames by M. Subtil, the notorious sulphur[6]-explorer and adventurer of Tripoli.

On leaving Algiers, in January, 1845, I carried the idea of Ghadames with me to Tunis; and thence, after agitating an exploration to The Desert amongst my friends, some of whom plainly told me, if I went I should never return, I should be consumed with the sun and fever, or murdered by the natives, and to attempt such a thing was altogether madness, I journeyed on to Tripoli, where I entered with all my soul and might into the undertaking. But as in Tunis so in Tripoli, I heard the birds of evil-omen uttering the same mournful notes of discouragement:—"I should never reach Ghadames, no one else had done so, or no one else had gone and returned. I should perish by the hand of banditti, or sink under the burning heat. I was not the man; it[3] required a frame of iron. Enthusiasm was very well in its way, but it required a man who was expert in arms, and who could fight his way through The Desert." And such is the absurd character of men, and some people pretending to be friends of African discovery, that, on hearing of my safe return after nine months' absence, they felt chagrined their sagacious vaticinations were not verified. Like a man who writes a book, and ever so bad a book, he cannot afterwards adopt a right sentiment, or course of action, because he has written his book. It is true, the fate of Davidson, in Western Barbary, and the late disastrous mishap of the young Tuscan on his return from Mourzuk, favoured the pretensions of these Barbary-coast prophets, who cannot comprehend a deviation from what had happened before, but it is equally true that the violent deaths of these individuals, so far as we can gather from the details, were brought about by the greatest possible imprudence on their part. However, I may say without hesitation, no people dread The Desert so much, and have in them so little of the spirit of enterprise and African discovery, as the naturalized Europeans of Tunis and Tripoli, and other parts of Barbary. To purchase the co-operation of a volunteer in these countries would require more money than defraying the expense of an expedition, and after all, from the love of intrigue and double-dealing which Europeans long resident in Barbary acquire, as well as other drawbacks, you would be very badly served.

I shall begin the narrative of my personal adventures in The Sahara with my departure from the island of Jerbah to Tripoli.

May 7th, 1845.—Left Jerbah in the evening for[4] Tripoli in the coaster Mesâoud ("happy"). The captain and owner was a Maltese, but the colours under which we sailed were Tunisian. Generally, a Moorish captain di bandeira commands these coasters, because it saves them dues at the various ports. Indeed, most of the small coasting craft of Tunis and Tripoli, though the property of Europeans, sail under the Turkish, rather Mahometan (red) flag. Although May, our captain told me, it was the worst month in the year for coasting in Barbary. The wind comes in sudden puffs and gales, blowing with extreme violence everything before it, prostrating and rooting up the stoutest and strongest palm-trees. So, in fact, as soon as we got out, a gregale ("north-easter") came on terrifically, and occasioned us to return early next morning to Jerbah. During the night, we were nearly swamped a few miles from the shore. The gregale continued the next two days, striking down several of the date-trees with great fury. When these trees are so struck down, the people do not make use of the wood for months, nay years, because it is ill-luck. Jerbah is a grand focus of wind, and it sometimes blows from every point of the compass in twelve hours. Æolus seems to patronize this isle; and, as at Mogador on the Atlantic, wind here supplies the place of rain. The inhabitants of Mogador have wind nine months out of twelve; but seasons pass without a shower of rain.

10th.—Evening. Left again for Tripoli. We passed the night about ten miles off the island, amongst the fishing apparatus, which looks at a distance like so many little islets. They consist of mere palm-tree boughs, struck deep into the mud as piles are driven; and large[5] spaces are thus enclosed. When the tide[7] falls, the fish get entangled or enclosed in these enclosures, and are caught. Very fine fish are taken, and a fifth of the ordinary sustenance of the islanders is derived from this fishing. Unhappily the poor fishermen are obliged to pay from twenty-five to fifty per cent. of the fish caught to Government; so the poor in all countries are the worse treated because they are poor.

11th.—The wind becoming again foul, we put into a little place called Sâkeeah, a port of the island in the S.E. Here is nothing in the shape of a port town, only a small square ruinous hovel of mud and plaster, and a rude hut put up temporarily by a Maltese, who is building a boat. I often think the Maltese are the Irish of the South. Maltese enterprise is prevalent in all parts of the Mediterranean but in their own country. The port, such as it is, is defended by a little round battery, four feet high, with three rusty pieces of cannon. If these could be fired off, the masonry would tumble to pieces. This is the present state of all the fortifications of Mahometan Barbary. It frequently happens that when a vessel of war visits the smaller Barbary ports, and wishes to fire a salute in honour of the governors, it is kindly requested this may not be done, because it is necessary etiquette to return the salute, and, if returned, the masonry of the fortifications may tumble down. The scene was wild and bare; the colours of the landscape light and bright. There were some Moors winnowing[6] barley. An ox was treading out the corn, in Scripture fashion. Crops of barley and other grain are grown all over this fertile isle, under the date-palm and olive trees. Small boats were waiting to carry off the grain to Tunis. As in Ireland, little remains to feed the people. They must feed on dates, or fish, or vegetables and roots.

12th.—Left Sâkeeah with a strong breeze. On looking back on the island it had the appearance of thousands of date-palms, boldly standing out of the sea, the land being so low as not to be discernible a few miles' distance. Jerbah, from this appearance, as from reality, deserves the name of the "Isle of Palms." After crossing the channel, which runs between the island and the continent, whose waters were deep and rough, we got aground in the Shallows, off Zarzees. This place is a round tower (burge) on the continent, with a few houses and plantations of olives and dates. Here commences the shoal-water, or bassa-fondo, as our semi-Italian boatmen called it, which continues east along the coast for eighty miles, as far as Rais-el-Makhbes. When we got off again, at the flow of the tide, we passed Biban ("two doors"), the frontier place of the Tunisian dominions. Biban is a castle, with some fifty Arab houses, built of palm-wood and leaves in the shape of hay-stacks, and is situate on an islet, on each side of which the sea passes inland and forms a large lagoon. There is at Biban a single European resident, an Italian, who acts as a French agent and spy on the frontiers of Tunis and Tripoli. He is paid about eighteen-pence a day, cheap enough for his high political mission. The French are mighty fond of planting spies all over Barbary; but espionage is their forte.[7] In the evening we arrived at the Salinæ[8], "salt pits," on the coast, where we found several small coasters loading with salt for Tripoli. Salt is also exported from this place to Europe. Here we brought up for the night, creeping and feeling our way as in the days of ancient navigation. Our bringing up, however, was fortunate, for the wind suddenly blew a gale from the N.W., continuing all night, and until next day, when it fell a dead calm again. Strange weather for the fine month of May. But the Mediterranean, which is called the "home station," is one of the nastiest chafing seas in the world, and in this fair season of the year is exposed to the most tremendous squalls, nay, continuous gales of wind.

13th.—We weighed again our little anchor, and in the afternoon cast it before Rais-el-Makhbes, the last anchoring ground of the bassa-fondo. The shore from Zarzees to Rais-el-Makhbes is extremely low. The bassa-fondo stretches off the coast in some places at least thirty or forty miles, and is so shallow, that boats of the smallest burden often ground. Here our Maltese captain observed to me, with great mystery, "See, Signore, we must now be very cautious how we act, and watch the wind, so as to take it on the very first breath of its being favourable, for from here it is all deep[8] water to Tripoli." In general, however, the Maltese captains display more courage than the Italians in these coasters.

14th.—In the morning we cleared Cape Makhbes. The captain was to have rounded it and entered the little port of Zouwarah, where there is a quarantine agent, and landed me there according to agreement. I had letters for this place, and was to have gone thence to Tripoli by land, two or three days' journey. On remonstrating, he gravely asked, "Whether I wished to do him an injury, compelling him to go to Zouwarah, from which port he couldn't get out for the wind?" Perceiving the captain had fully made up his mind to break a written agreement, signed before the Consul, for the temporary advantage now offering, I left off remonstrating, though extremely dissatisfied. We continued our course. It soon fell calm, and, as usual, the calm was again succeeded with a violent gregale, against which we could not make head. I now told our Palinurus it was necessary to look out for the port of Tripoli Vecchia, otherwise we should be obliged to go back or keep the open sea all night, for we could not reach Tripoli to-day. Half an hour elapsed, and the wind continuing to freshen, the captain took my advice. We turned direct south, and sought the port. After experiencing some difficulty, during which the captain, to my surprise, discovered the most serious alarm, we found and entered the wished-for haven. It was a real miracle of good luck, for the wind came on dreadfully, the angry spray was covering us with water, and our sufferings would have been beyond description if we had been obliged to keep the sea. Our bark was a mere cockle-shell, into which were rammed and[9] jammed and crammed twenty-two mortal and immortal beings: C'est à dire, four sailors, fourteen Moorish passengers, including a woman and a child, two Jews, myself, and a runaway slave. So that our heartfelt thankfulness to a good Providence, pitying our folly and imprudence, may be easily imagined. In the midst of our confusion while searching for the port—having only three or four hours' daylight before us—the most ludicrous scene was enacted, which might have ended in the tragic. Some of the Moors professed to know the port of Tripoli Vecchia. Hereupon each fellow gave a different description, a thing perfectly natural, as each would have seen the port under different circumstances of time and place. "It was surrounded with white cliffs,—it was black,—rocky,—it was a sandy shore." All bawled and clamoured together. The captain put his fingers in his ears with rage. He had never been in before, or his men. At last, losing all patience, the Maltese fire got up, blown to fury, and, seizing a knife, the captain swore he would cut their throats if they didn't hold their tongues, or give a more distinct account of the port. This menace cowed them down like so many bullies, and they fell into a moody but vindictive silence, their looks discovering the internal oaths of revenge. It was really droll, if the words used allow the expression, to hear how the captain blended Italian, Maltese, and Arabic oaths and abuse in his rage. Now "Santo Dio!" now "Scomunicat!" Sacrament! now "Allah!" "Imshe," "Kelb," "Andat," "per Bacco!" &c. At length, when a sailor from the mast-head descried the port, and a tremendous surf was seen or said to be seen rolling near the entrance, the Moors, who although mostly sulky under the influence of their fatalism, and[10] show very little courage in the dangers of the sea, cried out with fear, "Allah, Allah!" "Ya, Mohammed!" (O God! O God! O Mahomet!) The captain even felt disposed to blubber at the sight of the furious surf, so nothing less could be expected from the passengers. A bad example is this to the sailors and people, but one which often occurs aboard Italian and Maltese vessels.

15th.—The wind continued all night and the following day. It dropped down on the afternoon of the 16th; on the 17th a pleasant breeze sprung up, and continued until we got within a couple of miles off Tripoli. We were followed for three hours by a shoal of porpoises, some nearly as big as our bark, which enjoyed highly the run with us, "perceiving," as the captain said, "our motion." The first night of our anchorage in the Tripoli Vecchia, we had several alarms that the tiny bark had dragged its anchor, and was about to take us out into the open sea: no one could sleep. After the wind subsided, our Christian sailors were alarmed that we might have our throats cut by the Ishmaelite Arabs from the shore the next night. When it was quite calm we went on shore to search for water; we found a well of good water on the N.E. landing of the port. A palm beckoned us to the spring, but a single palm is often found where there is no well or water; and it is not true, as vulgarly supposed, that where there are date-palms there must be water. The country in this vicinity is a perfect desert, yet on this arid waste shepherds drive their flocks in the spring, and up to May and June. The captain considered Tripoli Vecchia, which is a very ancient port, and the site of a once famous city, more secure than that of[11] Tripoli itself, though certainly much smaller. Whilst we were here no bark visited it. Good-sized ships occasionally anchor in it. Like Tripoli, it is defended with a sunken reef of rocks, some peaks of which rise several feet out of the water. Along this line is a strong surf always chafing and roaring. There are two mouths of entrance; the deepest water within is about twelve or fourteen feet. There is another but much smaller port, two miles further east; the coast from this to Tripoli offers nothing to the tourist. Twelve miles this way begin those forests of fine broad-waving palms, which form so noble a feature in the suburban landscape of Tripoli. When we got off Tripoli we had a dead calm, and myself looking about for the wind, the Moors got angry, and said, "Be still; if you restlessly stare about, and wish the wind to come, it will never come: you cast the 'eye malign' upon it." These superstitious ideas are not peculiar to the Moors. An English captain once told me, if I continued to stay below, the wind would never be fair. Tripoli looked here very bold, massive, and imposing from the sea; its broad lime-washed towers, and the graceful minarets beyond, all dazzling white in the sun, contrasting with the dark blue waters of the Mediterranean. Such is the delusion of all these sea-coast Barbary towns; at a distance and without, beauty and brilliancy, but near and within, filth and wretchedness.

A word of my fellow passengers and crew. Our Maltese Rais, although he broke his agreement with me, behaved well; I therefore paid him, requesting the Chancellor of our Consulate only to scold him, and warn him for the future. He is a good Maltese Christian;[12] and when I told him Malta had fifty years' possession of Tripoli, he replied, "Ah, how the world changes! what a pity God has given this fine country into the hands of rascally Turks." Sometimes he would kick the Moors about and through the ship like cattle: at other times he would say, "Aye, come, bismillah[9]," and help them to a part of his supper. The Moors provided for only four days' provisions, a day over the average time, and they were all out of bread before arriving at Tripoli. The captain consulted me as to what was to be done; we arranged to supply them with a few biscuits every day, I taking the responsibility of payment, pitying the poor devils. If a Moor has a good passage at sea, he says, "Thank God!" if not, Maktoub, ("It is written,") and quietly submits to the evils which he has brought on himself by sheer imprudence. Their provisions, in this case, consisted of barley-meal, olive-oil, a few loaves of wheaten bread, and a little dried paste for making soup. The soup was made of a few onions, dried peppers, salt, oil, and the paste. On first starting, some of the more respectable had a few hard-boiled eggs, with which the Jews most frequently travel; and others had a little pickled fish. When the paste was finished, the barley-meal was attacked, and when this was gone, the greater part lived on biscuits sopped in water. We tried to buy a sheep from a flock driven by the shore, for which I furnished a dollar; but the current was so strong, that the man could not reach the land. One poor old Moor lived actually on bread and water all the time he was on[13] board, and would have nothing else, telling me, "What God gives is enough." Yet he was cheerful and talkative. One of the two Jews was also a very old blind man, clothed in rags. He, too, mostly fared on biscuits sopped in water; nevertheless, he also was quite happy! "Where are you going, Abraham?" I said to him. "Where God wills I go," he replied; "but I wish to lay my poor bones in the land of our fathers. Many long years God has afflicted us for our sins, but it will not be for ever." The old gentleman was going to get a passage from Tripoli to the Holy Land. How little suffices some! How much does faith! So mysterious are the ways of the Creator in distributing contentment. For myself, I fared extremely well in the midst of this happy melée of misery and starvation, Mr. Pariente, of Jerbah, having filled for me a large box of provisions, consisting of a leg of lamb, a fowl, pigeons, fish and bread, besides wine and spirits. But this was as liberally distributed amongst all as given to me, and not a crumb was left on arriving at Tripoli. When we were getting safe into port, I gave the grog to the crew; they had often cast wistful eyes at the acquavite, but none was poured out whilst at sea. Two or three drunken sailors would have sent our cockle-shell to the bottom; still, in spite of the coffee-drinking vessels, a little spirits may occasionally be very usefully distributed to men, fighting and wrestling with the wild waves and the tempest. Our bark was from six to eight tons' burden, and the cabin was just big enough for me and the captain to move in; the woman and child slept in the forecastle, and all the rest on deck. Each Moorish passenger paid half a dollar for the voyage. I have been thus parti[14]cular in describing our coaster and its live freight, to show what misery is endured in these coasting voyages. It was, however, a fit introduction to my painful journeyings through the still more inhospitable ocean desert.

I have now to mention my runaway servant, Said. This negro was the slave of Sidi Mustapha, Consular Agent of France in Jerbah. Mustapha was formerly Consular Agent of England, and being found to possess slaves, he was dismissed. He got up however false documents, to show that he had disposed of his slaves; but this being discovered, the cheat did not avail, and he was not allowed to be any longer England's Consul. Then, seeing his imposture had failed, he again resumed power over his slaves, and Said was still his slave on my arrival at Jerbah. Hearing of this, I told Said to go on board, and wait till the boat left. He did so. The captain winked at it, and apparently every one else, for Said was securely numbered on the vessel's papers as a passenger. This, of course, happened before the Bey of Tunis finally abolished slavery, which important event took place in the beginning of the year 1846, to the eternal honour of the reigning Mussulman prince. But, even if slavery had continued in Tunis, Mustapha, the French Consular Agent in Jerbah, could have had no legal right over Said, after having given a document to the British Consul-General, certifying that he had liberated all his slaves. The runaway Said was in reality a freed man. The reader, however, will be pleased to understand that I am not justifying my conduct for enticing a slave to run away. I despise such an attempted justification. On the contrary, I consider that every man, who has the means of striking off the chains from[15] a slave, and does not embrace the opportunity of doing so, is the rather the man who commits an offence against natural right. As to the French Consular Agent, I asked some people why the French Government did not dismiss him also for his premeditated forgery of public documents? I was told that, on the contrary, this was a reason for keeping him French Consul—that he could not be disavowed in connexion with British affairs, or, if disavowed, he must be pensioned off. A French Consul, whose acquaintance I made in North Africa, replied to me, on rallying him on the various disavowals of French functionaries in different parts of the world: "I assure you, the only way to get distinction in our consular service is to get disavowed. When disavowed about English differences, we must be decorated, or the mob of Paris and its journals would not be satisfied."

Our captain gave me a hint that, on arriving at Tripoli, there would be exhibited a good deal of fantazia, ("humbug[10]") by the health-office department. Accordingly, after we had been an hour in port, the health officer came alongside, and affected great surprise at our not having passports, and asked me, with great pomposity, what was my "reverito nome?" The Turks always adopt and caricature the worst parts of European civilization, leaving its better forms wholly unimitated. This is, perhaps, in the nature of the struggles which a semi-barbarous power may make to attain the standard of its civilized neighbour.


On landing, I went off with Said to the British Consulate. Although I had seen Colonel Warrington at Malta, I was now so sea-worn and browned with sun and wind, with an incipient desert beard, that he did not immediately recollect me. I therefore presented my letter of introduction, mentioning my name, when at once the Colonel recognized me. "Ah!" observed the Colonel, "I don't believe our Government cares one straw about the suppression of the slave-trade, but, Richardson, I believe in you, so let's be off to my garden." I rode one of the Colonel's horses, which had been so long in the stable without exercise, that I found the Barbary barb no joke. A most violent gregale swept the bare beach of the harbour as we proceeded to the gardens and plantations of the Masheeah, and the restive prancing of the horse was not unlike the dancing about of the cockle-shell bark to which I had been condemned for the last ten days. The British Garden I found to be a splendid horticultural developement, containing the choicest fruit-trees of North Africa, with ornamental trees of every shape, and hue, and foliage—all the growth of thirty years, and the greater part of them planted by the hands of Colonel Warrington himself. The villa is on the site of an ancient haunted house—for what country does not boast of its haunted house? The spot which once was visited nightly by some Saracen's-head ghost, in the midst of a waste, is now the fairest, loveliest garden of Tripoli! Amongst its rich fruit-trees is an immense peach-tree—the largest in all this part of Africa. It is a round, squatting, wide-spreading tree, not nailed up to the walls, but the size of its girth of boughs is enormous.[17]

I must take the liberty of leaving off daily dates here. I detest daily note-writing, although the reader may find for his peculiar infliction so long a journal as these pages.

19th.—A ghiblee day. The wind from The Desert is coming with a vengeance. Its breath is the pure flame of the furnace. I am obliged to tie a handkerchief over my face in passing through the verandahs of the garden. I had not the least idea it could be so hot here in the middle of May. At 2 p.m. the thermometer in the sun was at 142° Fahrenheit.

Neither Tunis nor Tripoli has been sufficiently appreciated by the politicians of Europe. Indian and American affairs are the two ideas which occupy our merchants. And yet the best informed of the consuls in Tripoli say, "The future battles of Europe will be fought in North Africa." At this time there is considerable agitation and political intrigue afoot here. Algerian politics, also, envenom these squabbles.

The aspect of the city of Tripoli is the most miserable of all the towns I have seen in North Africa. And they say, "It grows worse and worse." Yet the present Pasha, Mehemet, is esteemed as a good and sensible man. Unfortunately, a Turkish Governor can have very little or no interest in the permanent prosperity of this country. His tenure of office is very insecure, and rarely extends beyond four or five years; so that whilst here he only thinks of providing for himself. The country is therefore in a continual state of impoverishment as governed by successive pashas. Each successive high functionary works and fleeces the people to the uttermost. Even in our own colonies the exception is, that the Governor cares more for the welfare of the colony[18] than for his own immediate benefit. In Turkish colonies we must therefore expect the rule to be, that the Pasha should govern only for his private benefit and personal aggrandizement.

21st.—This afternoon His Highness Mehemet Pasha had arranged to grant me an interview. I was introduced, of course, by our Consul-General, Colonel Warrington. Mr. Casolaina, the Chancellor of the Consulate, and his son, were in attendance as interpreters. His Highness receives all strangers and transacts all business in an apartment of the celebrated old castle of the Karamanly Bashaws, whose legends of blood and intrigue have been so vividly and terrifically transcribed in Tully's Tripoline Letters. On entering this place I was astonished at its ruinous and repulsive appearance. Nothing could better resemble a prison, and yet a prison in the most dilapidated condition. Walking through the dark, winding, damp, mildewy passages, shedding down upon us a pestiferous dungeon influence, Colonel Warrington suddenly stopped, as if to breathe and repel the deadly miasma, and turning to me, said: "Well, Richardson, what do you think of this? Capital place this for young ladies to dance in, so light and airy. Many a poor wretch has entered here, with promises of fortune and royal favour, and has met his doom at the hand of the assassin! In my long course of service, how many Kaëds and Sheikhs I have known, who have come in here and have never gone out. I'm a great reader of Shakspeare. It's the next book after the Bible. But a thousand Shakspeares, with all their tragic genius, could never describe the passions which have worked, and the horrors which have been perpetrated, in[19] this place." The Colonel's tragic harangue was not without its effect in these dungeon passages, and the old gentleman seemed to enjoy the shiver which he saw involuntarily agitate me. Indeed, the darksome noisome atmosphere, without this tragic appeal, could not fail to make itself felt, as Egyptian darkness was felt, after leaving the fiery heat and bright dazzling sun-light without. Winding about from one ruinous room to another, and ascending various flights of tumbling-down steps and stairs, we got up at length to the eastern end, where there are two or three new apartments constructed in the modern style. In one of them, not unlike a city merchant's receiving-parlour, we found the Pasha and his court. We were immediately introduced, and somewhat to my surprise, I found His Highness an extremely plain unmilitary-looking Turkish gentleman, of about fifty years of age, and dressed without the least pretensions of any kind. How unlike the ancient gemmed and jewelled Bashaws! flaming in "Barbaric pearl and gold." The present Ottoman costume is most simple. His Highness had only the Nisham, or Turkish decoration of brilliants upon his breast, to distinguish him from his own domestics, coffee-bearers, or others. As soon as he saw us, he hurriedly came up to us and seized hold of our hands and shook them cordially. The troops were at the moment being reviewed, and we had a good sight of them from our elevated position. They were manœuvring on the sea-beach between the city and the Masheeah. "Tell the Bashaw," cried out the Colonel to Casolaina, "I never saw such splendid manœuvring in all the course of my life. They do His Highness and Ahmed Bashaw, the Commander-in-Chief, infinite credit." This[20] compliment was interpreted and graciously received though its value was no doubt properly appreciated by the politic Turk. The Colonel continued:—"Tell the Bashaw, that as long as the Sultan has such troops as these, he will be invincible." This was answered by, "Enshallah, enshallah, (If God pleases, if God pleases)". The Colonel still laid it on:—"Casolaina, tell the Bashaw, I myself should not like to command even English troops against these fine fellows." To which the Bashaw and his Court replied, "Ajeeb, (Wonderful!)" Ahmed Bashaw, the Commander-in-Chief, a most ferocious-looking Turk, seized hold of my shoulders and pushed me to the window to admire his brilliant men. I could just see that their manœuvrings were in the style of the "awkward squad;" but their arms and white pantaloons dazzled beautifully in the sun upon the margin of the deep-blue sea.

After we had satisfied our curiosity or admiration in looking at the troops, the windows were shut down, and all sat down to business. His Highness began by asking my name, when I came, and what I was going to be about? The Consul replied to these first and usual questions of Turkish functionaries, and more particularly explained my projected visit to Ghadames. The Pasha immediately consented, as a matter of course, with Turkish politeness; but before the interview was concluded, various objections were started and insisted upon, showing the not suddenly excited jealousy of these functionaries, who, previous to my interview, knew all about my anti-slavery and literary projects. His Highness observed:—"The heat is killing now, the distance is great, the road is infested with robbers; I shall have to send an escort of five hundred troops with your friend,[21] (addressing the Consul); not long ago two hundred banditti attacked a caravan. All Tunisian Arabs are robbers; the Bey of that country cannot maintain order in his country; besides, an Arab will kill ten men to get one pair of pistols; but I'll make further inquiries." His Highness also related a feat of his own troops, who captured seven camels from the banditti, which he said he distributed amongst the captors. He also gave his own people, the Tripolines, a very bad character. But, of course, the Tripolines and the Turks must mutually hate one another. We were served with pipes, coffee, and sherbet. I pretended to sip the pipe two or three times, as a matter of politeness, for though I have been in Barbary some time, where smoking is universal, I have not adopted the dirty vice. Near the Pasha sat the second in command, or Commander-in-Chief of the forces, the Pasha himself devoting his attention almost exclusively to civil affairs. As I have said, this functionary was a most savage-looking fellow, and his acts in Tripoli and his reputation accord with the character broadly stamped on his countenance. He has risen from the lowest ranks—one of the canaille of the Levant—and is blood-thirsty and vindictive whenever he has the means of showing these dreadful passions. How many tyrants have risen from the ranks of those who are the victims and objects of tyranny!

The Consul hinted to me afterwards, that this military tyrant would oppose my journey to the interior, and throw all sorts of obstacles in the way, but thought the Pasha would not listen to his insinuations. On asking the Consul what he thought of the objections of the Pasha? he said: "Oh, they are only to increase the merit of his facilitating your trip." Mehemet Pasha has[22] the rank of three tails, and the Pasha of the Troops two tails. There was present also Mohammed Aly, a Moor, who interprets between the Moors and Arabs, and the Turks. He is said to be entirely in the interest of the English. He frequently visits the Vice-Consul, Mr. Herbert Warrington, who treats the interpreter with a bottle of champaigne, and in this way things are greatly smoothed down before His Highness. A glass of wine is often more potent than an elaborate speech in these and other diplomatic transactions. It is but justice to these functionaries to say, whatever money they may take away from Tripoli, that they are very moderate in their style of living and dress in this place. The apartment in which we were received was exceedingly plain. All the furniture was of the most ordinary European stuff; there was nothing oriental in it but a large square ottoman. A few flowers were placed gracefully on the table, and there was a pretty bronzed lamp. We visitors sat on cane-bottomed chairs. The costume of these high functionaries was the usual large Turkish frock-coat, tightly buttoned up, and white or other light-coloured pantaloons, for summer wear, and these strapped over thick heavy black leather shoes, the straps often inside the shoes as an Ottoman improvement on the European fashion. The head was covered with the shasheeah, or fez, with a large blue silk tassel hanging prettily from the crown. On the breast hung the Nisham decoration, distinguishing the various grades and rank.

We left His Highness under the impression that he would do every thing in his power to forward our views, and never dreamt of a future memorandum of recall after having reached Ghadames with His Highness's permission.[23]

It is not now my intention to give an account of Tripoli, so I pass on to a second interview I had with the Bashaw. This was on the 7th of July. In this long interval, I had been waiting for letters from England, and in every way was learning lessons of most imperturbable patience.

I was visiting some sick officers in the castle with a Maltese doctor of the name of Gameo, whose acquaintance I had made, and whom I found useful in collecting information on Tripoli and the interior, when one of the functionaries of the Castle came to tell me the Bashaw would like to see me. I felt some delicacy in going, but thought it better to comply with the wish of His Highness. There was immediately presented to me, as usual to all visitors, a pipe, coffee, and sherbet. Our interview lasted about half an hour, and the conversation was to the point, referring solely to my journey to the interior. But, although I exerted all my skill and tact, I could not remove the jealousies of His Highness, and I believe for one, and only one reason. It had been given out in Tripoli that I was to be appointed Consul at Ghadames. The Bashaw fearing that such an appointment would interfere with his system of extorting money from the inhabitants of that country (the treasury being empty in Tripoli), set his face against my journey, and endeavoured to delay it until he could get a counter order from Constantinople. His Highness was however very polite, and promised to furnish me with tents, if I had need, and a large escort. The Turks are getting sensitive of the press. The Bashaw said he had heard I was a great newspaper writer, and asked me if I had any objection to writing an article in his praise.[24]

At the end of the month of July (30th), Colonel Warrington suggested to me the propriety of writing to him a letter, stating my wish and objects in visiting the interior. I did so, and received an answer from the Colonel the same day. Mr. Frederick Warrington, who had great influence with several people about His Highness, and myself, went again to the Bashaw, in order to conciliate His Highness and persuade him to give a bonâ fide protection to me through the interior of Tripoli, as also to obtain a passport. It unfortunately happened, that about a week ago, a Ghadames caravan had been captured by some hostile Arabs on the frontiers of Tunis. His Highness immediately produced this case, and said it was impossible for me to go whilst the routes were so insecure. He also alleged, and with more reason:—"The season was now too late, the heat was intolerable, and an European of my delicate constitution must succumb." We therefore returned much depressed. Colonel Warrington then, annoyed at the Bashaw's resistance, wrote the next day a letter to his Chancellor, requesting him to wait upon the Bashaw, and demand formally a passport for me, my servant, and camel-driver. I went with Mr. Casolaina, but did not see His Highness, waiting only at the door of the hall of audience, in case I should be wanted. His Highness apologized for his opposition, stating his objections of the season and the insecurity of the routes, but gave the order for the passports. I find the following note in my journal:—"Left Tripoli for Ghadames on the 2nd August, 1845; I had grown completely tired of Tripoli, and left it without a single regret, having suffered much from several sources of annoyance, including both the Consulate and the Bashaw."


[6] Many newspaper articles have been written, and companies formed, for the promotion of exploring for sulphur in Tripoli (the Syrtis); but somehow or other, all these schemes have failed. I have been told there is sulphur in the Syrtis, and the failure of obtaining it in remunerative quantity is to be attributed alone to the chicanery or want of skill in the agent.

[7] There is a far greater ebb and flow of tide here than at any other coast of the Mediterranean, the sea rising and falling no less than ten feet. This tidal phenomenon extends to the Lesser Syrtis and to Sfax.

[8] Like the fish-lakes of Biserta in Tunis, these salt-pits were worked by the ancients, and have been inexhaustible and unchangeable through two thousand years. Whatever may be the geological changes in other regions of the globe, those of North Africa are not very rapid, beyond filling up a few of the artificial harbours, or cothons, with mud. Barbary contains several Roman bridges which have spanned a stream remaining the same size, and running in the same bed, through a course of centuries. The salt of the Salinæ is of good quality.

[9] Bismillah, "In the name of God," the formula used by Moslems when they partake of food. In the Lingua Franca we have sometimes "Avete bismillah?" or "bismillahato?" that is, "taken your meal?"

[10] In the present application, for this Lingua Franca word generally means "vain silly shewing off." The "playing at powder," or "firing off matchlocks for amusement," is also called a fantazia in Algeria and Morocco.




Leave Tripoli for the Interior.—Feelings on Starting.—Ghargash.—Gameo, the great quack of Tripoli.—Janzour.—Account of my Equipment.—Camels fond of the Cactus.—Arab Tents.—Jedaeen.—Zouweeah.—The Sahara.—Beer-el-Hamra.—Squabbling at the Wells.—The strength of Caravan, and character of Escort.—Shouwabeeah.—Difficulty of keeping the Caravan together.—Camels cropping herbage en route.—The Kailah or Siesta.—Arab Troops seize the Water of the Merchants.—Wady Lethel.—Irregular March of the Caravan.—Aâeeat.—Descent into Wells.—Learn the value of Water.—The Atlas and its Tripoline divisions and subdivisions.—The ascent of Yefran, and its Castle.


Nothing is more common than that, after long delay and various negotiations, in waiting and preparing for a journey, everything at last is hurried with a most reckless dispatch; this, at least, was the case with me. I was to have been escorted out of Tripoli by the Consular corps, with the British Consul at their head, in the wonted style of Europeans setting out for the interior. But on the morning of the 2nd August, before I could finish my letters for England, or get my luggage together, came my camel-driver Mohammed, who, at the sight of my papers all spread out, began whining and blubbering, protesting, "The ghafalah[11] is gone; we can't overtake it—we shall be murdered, if we delay behind." Without saying a word in reply, I amassed and bundled[26] up everything together, and gave him the baggage; then went off to the Souk, or market-place, to buy some fresh bread,—and found myself on the way to Ghadames, before I was conscious of having left Tripoli. Such is the excitement and vagaries of human feeling! Not being accustomed to mount the camel, I determined to hire some donkeys to ride to the first station; Gameo and one of his brothers accompanied me. When I could breathe freely, as I rode on my unknown way, with a boundless prospect before me, I felt my heart rebound with joy, and commended myself humbly to the care of a good God, not knowing what was to happen to me. I had consumed three months of most suffering patience in Tripoli before I could start on this journey, and was otherwise schooled for what was about to take place. But I must not begin too early the record of my complaints.

Our first day's ride was mostly through desert lands, for The Desert reaches to the walls of the city of Tripoli. The little village of Gargash was seen at our right, near the margin of the sea. Gameo exclaimed, "There's the little mosque—there's the little cemetery—there are the little gardens, little palms!"—and little this, and little the other: indeed, it was a perfect miniature of congregated human existence. Arrived at Janzour, Gameo and his brother prepared to return. But previous to his leaving, Gameo, who was a tabeeb of great notoriety, determined to display his healing art. He took out his lancet, and forthwith bled everybody in the Kaëd's caravanseria. When his brother begged of him not to bleed any more people unless they paid him something—not to be such a sciocco ("ninny,") he turned round upon him, and indignantly exclaimed[27] "Ancora voglio lasciare il mio nome qui" (Here I will leave my name also!) It was the delight of Gameo to be the grand tabeeb of Tripoli, and even to prescribe for the officers and subordinate bashaws; and yet Gameo and his family many days were without bread to eat, to my certain knowledge. I relieved them as much as I could. The Moors and Arabs are very funny about bleeding, and the matters of the tabeeb; they will ask you to bleed them when in perfect health. All these persons who were bled at Janzour had no ailments; they will also swallow physic, whether well or ill. One of them consulted Gameo privately how he was to obtain children from his wife, who was barren. Another wished to obtain the affections of a girl by administering to her a dose of medicine. They consider a doctor in the light, in which our fathers of the time of Friar Bacon did, of a magician, and a person who holds some sort of illicit intercourse with the devil, or, at any rate, with the genii. They never give the doctor credit for his skill, but attribute his wit and success to the blessing or interposition of God.

After taking leave of Gameo, I waited for Mohammed and Said; we had gone on quickly with the donkeys. They came up with the camels, but instead of encamping within the village, the ghafalah had brought up outside. This annoyed Mohammed, who kept exclaiming, as we went to the rendezvous of the merchants, "Ah! Gameo, that's him, Gameo, Gameo! What trouble he has brought upon us, Gameo! Gameo! he a tabeeb? Not fit to give physic to a dog. Gameo! Gameo! always talking—always talking; the devil take him, for he's his son." We reached the encampment as the[28] shadows of night fell fast; we did not take supper, or pitch tent. My spirits gave way, and I felt fearful and saddened at the prospect of going into the interior absolutely alone. I had not a single letter of recommendation to any one, after waiting so long at Tripoli, and so much talk with all sorts of people about the necessity of having letters for the chiefs of The Desert. This was, indeed, bad management; yet I could not insist upon the Pasha giving me a letter, nor could I importune the British Consul: but it often happens, where there is less help from man, there is more from God. Many of the Ghadamsee merchants, whose acquaintance I had made in Tripoli, came now to me and welcomed me as a fellow-traveller. Janzour is a small village, with gardens of olives and date plantations.

August 3rd.—Before starting to-day, it is necessary to give some account of my equipment. I had two camels on hire, for which I paid twelve dollars. I was to ride one continually. We had panniers on it, in which I stowed away about two months' provisions. A little fresh provision we were to purchase en route. Upon these panniers a mattress was placed, forming with them a comfortable platform. As a luxury, I had a Moorish pillow for leaning on, given me by Mr. Frederick Warrington. The camel was neither led nor reined, but followed the group. I myself was dressed in light European clothes, and furnished with an umbrella for keeping off the sun. This latter was all my arms of offence and defence. The other camel carried a trunk and some small boxes, cooking utensils, and matting, and a very light tent for keeping off sun and heat. We had two gurbahs, or "skin-bags for water," and another we were[29] to buy in the mountains, so each having a skin of water to himself. Said was to ride this camel, and now and then give a ride to Mohammed the camel-driver, to whom the camels belonged. We were roused before daylight. I made coffee with my spirit apparatus (spiriterio). In half an hour after the dawn, we were all on the move, and soon started. The ghafalah presented an interminable line of camels, as it wound its slow way through narrow sandy lanes, hedged on each side with the cactus or prickly-pear. We progressed very irregularly, and the camels kept throwing off their burdens. The Moors and Arabs, who manage almost everything badly, even hardly know how to manage their camels, after ages of experience. It is, however, very difficult to drive the camels past a prickly-pear hedge, they being voraciously fond of the huge succulent leaves of this plant, and crop them with the most savage greediness, regardless of the continual blows, accompanied with loud shouts, which they receive from the vociferous drivers to get them forward. I wore my cloak for two hours after dawn, and felt chilly, and yet at noonday the thermometer was at least 130° Fah., in the sun. We emerged from the prickly-pear hedges upon an open desert land. Here was an encampment of Arabs, with tents as "black" and "comely" in this glare and fire of the full morning sun, as "the tents of Kedar!" (See Solomon's Songs i. 5.) Nothing indeed is more refreshing than the sight of these black camel's-hair tents, when travelling over these arid thirsty plains. The whole households of the tents were alive, but their various occupations will be seen better in the following sketch than pictured to the mind by any elaborate description.[30]

Arab Tents

Encamped at Jedaeem about 10 o'clock, a.m. Remained here only two hours and proceeded to Zouweeah, a large village, situate in the midst of most pleasant gardens, or rather cultivated lands, overshadowed with date groves. These gardens are considered superior to those of the Masheeah around Tripoli. Passed through the whole district by 3 p.m., and then entered what is usually called the Sahara, this side the Mountains. This desert presents sand hills, loose stones scattered about, dwarf shrubs, long coarse grass, and sometimes small undulations of rocky ground. It is, however, overrun by a few nomade tribes, who feed their flocks on the ungrateful and scant herbage which it affords. Tripoli, in general offers a remarkable contrast to Tunis and other parts of Barbary, in having its Arab tribes located in stone and mud houses or fixed douwars, whilst nomade Arabs are found thickly scattered all over the West, as far as the Atlantic. Zouweeah is the last belad, or paesi, (i. e., "cul[31]tivated country,") before we reach The Mountains, which are two days' journey distant. I therefore sent Mohammed to buy a small sheep, but he could not succeed although there were many flocks about, the people absurdly refusing to sell them, even when the full price was offered. The Arabs themselves never eat meat as the rule, but the exception, supporting themselves on the milk of their flocks and farinaceous matter. Olive-oil and fat and fruit they devour. Of vegetables they eat, but with little gusto. Their flocks are kept as a sort of reserve wealth, and to pay their contributions. Our course to-day and yesterday was west and south-west. At sunset we encamped at Beer-el-Hamra ("red-well"), which is a well-spring of very good water, ten feet deep, the water issuing from the sides of the rocky soil. Here we found artificial pits or troughs for the sheep and cattle to drink from, and trunks of the date-palms hollowed out for the camels. When a ghafalah passes a well there is the greatest confusion to get all the camels to drink, and the people quarrel and fight about this, as well as for their turn to fill their water-skins. This quarrelling at the wells forcibly reminds the Biblical reader of the contest of Moses in favour of the daughters of Jethro against the ungallant shepherds. (Exodus i. 17.) We take in no more water till we get to The Mountains.

Here mention must be made of the strength of our caravan, as all are to rendezvous at this well for safety, to start together over The Desert to The Mountains. It was half a day's advance of this where the Ghadamsee ghafalah had been lately plundered of all its goods and camels. As soon as the Sebâah banditti appeared, the merchants, who[32] were without escort, all ran away like frightened gazelles. One man alone had his arm scratched. Our ghafalah, besides casual travellers going to The Mountains, consisted of some two hundred camels, laden chiefly with merchandize for the interior, Soudan, and Timbuctoo. Thirty or forty merchants, nearly all of Ghadames, to whom the goods belong, accompany these camels. To ascertain its value would be hopeless, for the merchants, with the real jealousy of mercantile rivalry, conceal their affairs from one another. Two of the principal Ghadamsee merchants are with us, the Sheikh Makouran and Haj Mansour, besides a son of the great house of Ettence. These merchants belong to the rival factions of the city, and accordingly have separate encampments. The greater number of the merchants of our ghafalah are only petty traders, some with only a camel-load of merchandize. We are escorted by sixty Arab troops on foot, with a commandant and some subordinate sheikhs on horseback. They are to protect us to The Mountains, where it is said all danger ends. They are poor, miserable devils to look at, hungry, lank, lean, and browned to blackness, armed with matchlocks, which continually miss fire, and covered with rags, or mostly having only a single blanket to cover their dirty and emaciated bodies. Some are without shoes, and others have a piece of camel's skin cut in the shape of a sole of the foot, and tied up round the ankles: some have a scull-cap, white or red, and others are bare-headed. I laughed when I surveyed with my inexperienced eye these grisly, skeleton, phantom troops, and thought of the splendid invincible guard which the Pasha promised me. And yet amongst these wretched beings was riding sublime an Arab Falstaff.[33]

4th.—Morning. Find the greater part of the ghafalah has not yet come up. We are to wait for them, being the advanced body. Expect them in the afternoon. It is exceedingly difficult to keep these various groups of merchants together; each group is its own sovereign master and will have its own way. The commandant is constantly swearing at each party to get all to march together; now and then he draws his sword and shakes it over their heads. "You are dogs," he says to one; "you are worse than this Christian Kafer amongst us," (myself,) he bawls to another.

Have, thank God, suffered little up to now, although intensely hot in the day-time, and my eyes so bad that I cannot look at the sun, and scarcely on daylight without a shade. They were bad on leaving Tripoli, having caught a severe ophthalmia from the refraction of the hot rocks when bathing. My left arm is also still very weak, from the accident of falling into a dry well a little before I started. I can't mount the camel without assistance, but begin to ride without that sickly sensation, not unlike sea-sickness, which I felt the first day's riding. Drink brandy frequently, but in small quantities and greatly diluted, and find great benefit from it; drink also coffee and tea. Eat but little, and scarcely any meat. The Arabs of the country brought a few sheep to sell this morning, but asked double the Tripoli price; so nobody purchased. Bought myself a fowl for eighty Turkish paras. The people of the ghafalah civil, but all the lower classes will beg continually if you are willing to give. Each one offers his advice and consolation on my tour; but Mohammed keeps all the hungry Arabs at a respectable distance, lest I should give to them what[34] belongs to his share, like servants who don't wish their masters to be generous to others if it interferes with their own prerogatives.

We left in the afternoon and encamped in The Desert at Shouwabeeah. The Desert here presents nothing but long coarse grass and undulating ground. I observed a patch which had been cultivated, the stubble of barley remaining, which the camels devoured most voraciously. Chopped barley-straw is the favourite food of all animals of burden in North Africa; horses will feed on it for six months together, and get fat. En route the chief of the escort had great trouble to keep the caravan together; he made the advanced parties wait till the others came up, so as all to be ready in case of attack. One would think the merchants, for their own sakes, would keep together; but no, it's all maktoub with them; "If they are to be robbed and murdered they must be robbed and murdered, and the Bashaw and all his troops can't prevent it." This they reiterated to me whilst the commandant bullied them; and yet these same men had each of them a matchlock and pistols besides. The Sheikh Makouran had no less than four guns on his camel. I asked him what they were for. He coolly replied, "I don't know. God knows." The camels browse or crop herbage all the way along, daintily picking and choosing the herbage and shrubs which they like best. My chief occupation in riding is watching them browse, and observing the epicurean fancies of these reflective, sober-thinking brutes of The Desert. I observe also as a happy trait in the Arab, that nothing delights him more than watching his own faithful camel graze. The ordinary drivers sometimes allow them to graze,[35] and wait till they have cropped their favourite herbage and shrubs, and at other times push them forward according to their caprice. The camel, with an intuitive perception, knows all the edible and delicate herbs and shrubs of The Desert, and when he finds one of his choicest it is difficult to get him on until he has cropped a good mouthful. But I shall have much to write of this sentient "ship of The Desert." It is hard to forget the ship which carries one safely over the ocean, whose plank intervenes between our life and a bottomless grave of waters: so we tourists of The Desert acquire a peculiar affection for the melancholy animal, whose slow but faithful step carries us through the hideous wastes of sand and stone, where all life is extinct, and where, if left a moment behind the camel's track, certain death follows.

5th.—Rose at daybreak, and pursued our way through the Desert. Saw the mountains early, stretching far away east and west in undefined and shadowy but glorious magnificence,—some of deep black hue, and others reddened over with the morning sunbeams. It is a gladdening, elevating sight. The presence of a vast range of mountains always raises the mind and imagination of man. Encamped during the Kailah ‮قايلة‬, or from 10 o'clock a.m., to 3 p.m. This is the siesta of the Spaniards, and it is probable the Moors introduced it into Spain. It is also the mezzogiorno of the Italians and the Frank population of Barbary. But the Italians usually dine before they take their midday nap. Our object here is to shelter ourselves from the greatest force of the heat of the day. None of us dine. In the afternoon the Arab soldiers, being without water, began[36] to seize that of the merchants, after having demanded it from them in vain. In one case they robbed a merchant under the pretext of getting water. They also attempted to take water from my camels, but I resisted, threatening to report them to the Bashaw. After a scuffle with my negro servant and camel-driver, in which affair Said drew out manfully from the scabbard the old rusty sword which I presented to him on leaving Tripoli—to gird round him as a warrior badge—they desisted and retreated. The sub-officer of the escort came up to me afterwards, and begged that I would say nothing about the business. I gave him a suck of brandy-and-water, and we were mighty good friends all the way. Our course was south to-day, striking directly at The Mountains. We encamped about midnight at the Wady Lethel, the name of which is derived from the tree Lethel ‮لذل‬, frequent in the Sahara.

With regard to the conduct of the poor Arab soldiers, justice requires it to be said, that they are allowed nothing for the service of the escort, whilst if they do not serve when they are called upon, they are fined. The consequence is, they generally have nothing to eat, and no skins to put their water in. Perhaps a camel with a couple of skins is allowed to twenty men. As there was water for scarcely two days of our slow marching, (we only march about twelve hours per day,) these miserable victims of Turkish rule had no water left. It is hunger and misery in this, as in most cases amongst the poor, and not the native unwillingness of the heart to perform good actions, which excite them to deeds of violence and plunder. This night the heavens presented an appearance of unexampled serenity and soft splendour; all the[37] constellations glowed with a steady beauteous light; there were the "sweet influences of Pleiades," the bright "bands of Orion," "Arcturus with his sons," and the infinitude of sparkling jewels in "chambers of the South." All the stars might be seen and counted, so distinctly visible were they to the naked unassisted eye. In encamping our ghafalah carried on its delightful system of confusion, and the night fires of the various groups glared wildly in every direction. I had not yet become familiar with these nocturnal lights of Saharan travelling, and my senses were confounded. I felt tormented as with an enchanter's delusive fire-works in some half-waking dream.

6th.—Rose at day-break. Our route was now over a vast level plain, and we were within four hours of The Mountains. They now discovered the true Atlas features, a part of which chain they were. We marched in the most glorious disorder. Some were before, some behind, straggling along, others far to the right, and others as far to the left, a mile or two apart. We had the appearance of an immense line moving on to invest The Mountains en masse, for there seemed to be no common point to which we were advancing in such tumultuous array. The Arabs pay little attention to marching in order, and in a straight line, so that the camels traverse double the quantity of ground that there would be any occasion for did they attend to plain common sense. The Desert now showed more signs of cultivation, and, indeed, a great portion of this so-called Desert is only land uncultivated, but capable of the highest degree of cultivation;—all which might be effected by supplying any scarcity of rain by irrigation.[38]

We passed the kailah, or in Scripture phrase, "the heat of the day," at a place called Aâeeat, below The Mountains, where we found two wells without water, or with very little bad, dirty, nay, black water. Nevertheless, many descended these wells, about thirty feet deep, to bring up the muddy filthy water, and swallowed it immediately. I myself was so thirsty, that I drank it greedily. Said had very severe thirst, and I believe he drank in one of the last two days nearly a bucket and a half of water. I finished two bottles of brandy, having diluted it with large quantities of water. I believe this was the only thing which kept me alive, the heat was so intense and prostrating in the day-time. I am astonished to see these people descend into the wells with such facility. I expected, on the contrary, to see them break their necks. They descend by the sides, only assisted by their hands and feet, clinging to naked stones, the interstices of which in some places not even allowing space on which to rest the foot. Here again is hubbub and vociferation of the wildest form, all sorts of quarrelling over this sewer-like water. I now, for the first time in my life, experienced the real value of water, and in these climates more clearly understood the vivid and frequent allusions in the Holy Scriptures to this essential element of existence. Mohammed went several miles in The Mountains, and returned with a skin of fresh water. In his absence the torment of thirst prostrated me, and I lay senseless on the ground:

"The water! the water! My heart yet burns to think, How cool thy fountain sparkled forth, For parched lips to drink." [39]

After the Kailah, we ascended that portion of the Tripoline chain of the Atlas called Yefran. This chain has various names, according to its different links, or groups, more properly, for the usual phenomena of the Atlas are groups, pile upon pile. The following are some of the principal names of this part of the Atlas, beginning east and proceeding west: Gharian, Kiklah, Yefran or Jibel, ("Mountain," par excellence,) Nouwaheeha, Khalaeefah, Reeaneen, Zantan, Rujban, Douweerat. All these larger districts are divided into smaller ones, descending to very minute subdivisions. Every dell, and copse, and glade, and brook, and stream, and drain, (to use English nomenclature,) of these mountains, is defined, and owned, and cultivated, as the most cultivated, divided, and subdivided estate in England. It is quite ridiculous to look upon the Atlas chains as so many vast uninhabited wastes. The French, whose forte in colonization is blundering, rushed into the plateaus and groups of the Atlas as into lands unowned and undefined, and were quite astonished to hear of claimants for their newly acquired lands and farms. They imagined that the plains of the Metidjah and the adjacent Atlas chain had lain desolate since the Creation, or were only wandered over by savage hordes of barbarians.

We found the ascent of Yefran difficult. The Arabs call all places difficult of traverse, Wâr—‮وعر‬—whether applied to stony rocky ground, sandy regions, or mountains. The camels in the ascent are timid, and besides the evident fatigue which they experience, show great caution, picking slowly their way with the greatest circumspection. Only a portion of the ghafalah got up to-day. Some camels were labouring up the mountain sides,[40] others threw off their burdens and stood still. As our party was always the advanced, we managed to get up soon. Beneath a huge old black olive-tree, which seemed to have begun with Creation, but still as vigorous as ever, we found a comfortable shade in a snug retired place. It was cooler on the top of The Mountains, and I took a walk in the evening to the Castle (Kesar) of Yefran, a most formidable thing to look at from a distance, but a wretched mud-built place in reality. To the Arabs, however, it is a terrible bulwark of strength, and for them impregnable. Everything in the shape of a fort or a blockhouse, be it ever so untenable or miserable, terrifies the Arabs. It is repeatedly asserted that the Arabs of Algeria never took a blockhouse. An authentic anecdote was recently related to me of a French civilian keeping a whole tribe in check for two days, by fortifying his house and firing from loop-holes which he made in its walls. Not so the Kabyles. Their genius is defending their little forts, often constructed of loose stones, in their mountain homes. Behind these and other forts of nature they maintain for days an obstinate resistance, and pour deadly mitraille. The Turkish soldiers were here lounging about; they gaped and stared at me. I am, perhaps, the first European who has been to Yefran in the memory of the present generation, nay, the first European Christian who has visited this spot. The sun now set fiery red, and night was fast veiling The Mountains with her sable curtain. I retired to my olive-tree, and under its shade slept most profoundly. This was repose—this, sleep! I shall never sleep in more profound slumbers until I sleep my last.


[11] Ghafalah, ‮قفله‬, is the ordinary term for a caravan in North Africa.




Interview with the Commandant of The Mountains.—Military Position occupied by the Turks.—Subjugation of the Arabs.—My different Appellations.—Departure for, and arrival at, Rujban, native place of my Camel-driver.—Aspect of The Mountains.—Miserable condition of the Inhabitants.—Cruelty of the Tribute Collectors.—Marabouts exempt.—Curiosity of the Women to see The Christian.—Social Habits of the People.—Politics in The Mountains.—Visit from The Sheikh.—Various Conversations and Visitors.—Heat of the Weather.—The Sheikh offers to sell me his Authority.—Want of Rain.—Population.—The playing with the Head.—Pervading principle of Religion.—The Sheikh in a bad humour, and misery of Life in The Mountains.—Departure from The Mountains.—Description of the four days' journey from The Mountains to the Oasis of Senawan.—Dreadful sufferings from Heat and want of Sleep.—Provisions of the Caravan.—Stratagem to preserve Water.—Second Christening in The Desert.—Senawan and its group of Oases.—Resume our Journey.—Emjessem.—Met by a party of Friends from Ghadames.—Quarrel about Said.—First sight of Ghadames.


7th.Was awaked by a young man, who said he had brought for "the Consul of Ghadames" (myself) a brace of partridges, some milk, and grapes, from the secretary of the Commandant. Drank a large basin of milk and coffee, and went to pay a visit to the Commandant. Found all the principal Ghadamsee merchants at the Castle, closeted in a small apartment with the Commandant, Ahmed Effendi, talking over the affairs of the ghafalah. At first I imagined this officer had brought them up from Yefran to make them pay black-mail in various presents. But it was only his vanity which[42] dragged up the poor camels this fatiguing route, an ascent of four hours. Our direct route to Ghadames would have been half a day farther west. He said he had merely sent for the merchants to ask them how they were, and give them his blessing. When I entered, a stool was brought me to sit upon. The Rais[12] was seated on a raised bench covered with an ottoman, and the merchants were squatted on their hams upon the matting and carpets of the floor. Coffee was brought me, as to most visitors. The Rais asked me where I was going? and what I was doing? as if he knew nothing about me. I then had my palaver, and represented to the Rais the case of taking by force water from the merchants, which took him quite aback, and astonished all present, the merchants secretly admiring the boldness of the remonstrance. But it was one of those unpleasant duties which are absolutely necessary to be performed. In our case it was necessary for our own health and the order and security of the caravan. The Rais surprised and displeased, nevertheless gave strict orders that it should not happen again. The merchants afterwards expressed their thanks to me; seeing plainly also the advantage of having one amongst them who was not immediately subject to the Pasha and his soldiers. Besides, I hinted to the Rais it would be better if the ghafalah marched more in order, and had a chief. This the Rais discussed with the merchants, and it was considered advisable to adopt these common sense measures, they, however, laughing heartily at my European ideas of order. I then begged the Rais to persuade the people to[43] travel by night, as this was the hottest season in the year, and being a new traveller in The Desert, I could scarcely support the heat. He replied it would be better for all as we were not now likely to be molested with hostile Arabs. Before separating, a marabout made a short prayer (the fatah) for the safety of the caravan. This prayer, the first chapter of the Koran, is never omitted on these occasions. Ahmed Effendi is a very smart Turk, in the vigour of age and health, and has the character of being very stringent in his administration. People call him "kus," or hard and determined in disposition; but he is not ferocious, like the Commander-in-Chief. His countenance betrayed a very active intelligence. He said to me aside: "Now these people you are travelling with are barbarians; you must humour their whims and respect their religion. If they were not now present, we would have a bottle of wine together."

The garrison of Yefran contains some two or three hundred Turkish soldiers, as also that of Gharian, besides Arab troops. The Arabs of these districts are entirely subdued, their native courage apparently dried up and extinct. This has been done chiefly by forced emigration or extermination. The French acquired their razzia system from the Turks whom they found in possession of the government of Algiers, on the conquest of that country; but they have improved on it, for a superior intelligence imitating a bad system, will always increase its cruelty and wickedness. We passed many villages depopulated, their humble dwellings razed to the ground—the work of the ferocious Ahmed Bashaw, who came in person to these mountains. A great deal of fighting had taken place near the Castle, and there were[44] the ruins of a very large village on one of the neighbouring peaks. Yefran is a very strong position, and was hotly contested by both parties. In all these mountain districts very few inhabitants are seen, and the present cultivation is therefore insignificant. The people are without money or stock, and have scarcely anything to eat. The single advantage of Turkish rule here is, a large military road cut from the plain to the summit, on which the fort stands, but, of course, as a military road, it was not made specifically for the improvement of the people. Certainly the Turks must show more civilized and polite manners to the mountaineers, but the Arabs will not imitate them, or, if anything they do imitate, as in the case of all subjected nations in relation to their conquerors, it is the vices of their masters. It is unfortunately much the same when the Turks imitate us Christians.

Bought some meat cheap at Yefran, but my camel-driver afterwards stole the greater part. The secretary of the Rais, Bou Asher, who knew the Vice-consul of Fezzan, showed me some kindness, and sent me again milk, which he said was the right of "The Consul." I had also received a nice delicious little present of a melon from the Sheikh Makouran en route. These were the first proofs of a friendly disposition of the natives towards me, and were most thankfully appreciated. The people called me Taleb ("learned man"), or Tabeeb ("doctor"), or Consul, or the Christian, just as their caprice or information led them[13]. Here all the merchants[45] determined to stop a week, some going to one part of The Mountains, and some to the other, to purchase oil, barley and gurbahs ("water-skins"). Many travellers, who had availed themselves of our escort to The Mountains, here left us.

I left in the afternoon for the native country of my camel-driver, and encamped for the night in The Mountains. Our party consisted only of the camel-driver, Said, and myself, with three camels. I must say I felt rather queer knocking about in The Mountains, almost alone.

8th.—Rose early, and pursued our way. The air of this elevated region invigorated my mind and body; and so by a mishap I took no coffee before starting. Passed the kailah under a group of olive trees, called "The Sisters[14]," where also flocks of sheep and shepherds were dosing and reposing under the shade. We exchanged biscuits for milk. The shepherds were giving their dogs to drink, and made me wait until they had drunk their fill, thinking no doubt that their dogs were as good as "a Christian dog," (the ordinary epithet of abuse applied by Mussulmans to Christians). I had my revenge, for when I had drank my milk, I took good care to give them only a fair and exact return of biscuits, which made them ask for more, but which I refused. Started again, and did not arrive at Mohammed's village, in the district of Rujban, till after midnight. It was a most[46] wearisome ride. I kept asking Mohammed, "how far the village was off?" He would say, "Now three hours;" in two hours after, it was still "three hours;" in two hours after that, it was still "two hours and a half;" it was "near" when it was six hours before we arrived; it was "close by us," three hours before we arrived, &c. &c. But an Arab will often tell you a place is just under your nose when it is at a day's journey distant, pointing to it as if he saw it within a musket-shot. I was highly exasperated at Mohammed, because we had delayed to eat anything all day long, upon his representing to me that we should arrive an hour after sunset. But the milk acted like a purgative, and was perhaps advantageous. No people were seen in The Mountains, and very little cultivation. There were a few modern antiquities, chiefly the stones of Moorish forts and castles. Many villages in ruins, destroyed in the late wars. And Mohammed, like a thoughtless idiot, ridiculed the rude desolations of his brethren, exulting and calling out to me to see "the cooking places." Many parts had the geological features of the Sahel, or hilly country in the neighbourhood of the city of Algiers. The air was pure and cool. But though it was calm this day and the evening, a sudden tempest got up after midnight. I was lying on the bare ground rolled in a blanket, when the wind tore it from off me, and I was obliged to retreat to a hovel. I am told these tempests are frequent in The Mountains, no doubt arising from the intense heat rarefying the air.

9th.—Slept the greater part of this day to recover from the fatigue of the preceding days. Do not suffer much, and am surprised I do not suffer more. Asked[47] Mohammed for the quarter of sheep purchased at Yefran, and taxed him with stealing it: told him I would give him no backsheesh on arriving at Ghadames. He had stolen the meat to make a feast for his friends on his arrival, and afterwards brought me a piece of my own meat cooked as his own, but which I refused. This is a fine illustration of being generous at another person's expense. In the evening went to see Rujban. There are seven villages forming the district of Rujban. These consist of so many mud and stone buildings, but some of the houses are excavations out of the solid rock, the principal object being protection from the fiery summer heat, and the intense winter cold. Many of the houses have a yard before them, which is walled round, and three or four are mostly clustered together. Sometimes excavations are made in a pit or hollow found on high ground, and then a subterraneous passage leading to them is excavated from the mountain sides: these are reckoned very secure. From the heights where I write, there is a boundless view of the plain and undulating ground which lie between the Mediterranean and this Atlas chain. The Arabs call it their sea, and it certainly looks like a sea from these heights. A marabout sanctuary and garden at the base of the mountains, is called their port. There is frequently a freshness rising from the subjected plain like that of the sea. The camels, they say, are their ships. There are besides some pretty views in and over the Atlas valleys, where you overlook the small scattered oasisian spots of cultivation, with here and there a palm and little groups of inclosed fig-trees. Then again, there are heights crowned with olive-woods, as if The Mountains had put on a black scull-cap. Some of[48] the precipices are so profound, as to deserve the epithet of "horrid." In different parts of these heights are flights of natural steps, by which they are ascended, and which seem to have received some finish from Arabian ingenuity.

In spite of the freshness and coolness of mountain air, it has been very hot these last two days. On the plains, the people say the heat is now overpowering.

There is scarcely any natural produce about. A few sheep and goats, a camel or two, and a few asses, are all the animals I have seen. The fig-trees produce something, but I have seen no prickly-pears, which support many poor families on The Coast, during several months every year. The olive plantations are the principal resource of these poor mountaineers, which are also a sensible relief for the eye on these bare heights. In the houses there is hardly anything to be got. No pepper, no onions, no meat killed or sold. No bread can be obtained for love or money. I laid in a stock of fresh bread in Tripoli for a fortnight, but my gluttonous camel driver devoured all in three or four days! There were no less than fifty twopenny loaves. He was accustomed to eat in the night, when I was asleep, and used to threaten to beat Said if he blabbed. I mentioned the circumstance after, to the Rais of Ghadames, who observed: "If you had brought a thousand loaves, all would have been devoured."

Notwithstanding this abject poverty, a bullying tax-gatherer, with half a dozen louting soldiers, have been up here prowling about, and wresting with violence the means of supporting life from these miserable beings. The scenes which I witness are heart-rending, beyond all[49] I have heard of Irish misery and rent-distraining bullies. One man had his camel seized, the only support of his family; another his bullock; another a few bushels of barley: the houses were entered, searched, and ransacked; people were dragged by the throat through the villages, and beaten with sticks; and all because the poor wretches had no money to meet the demands of these voracious bailiffs. Poverty is, indeed, here a crime. One poor old woman had a few bad unripe figs seized, and came to me, and a group of wretched villagers, crying out bitterly. One or two men, who were imagined to have something, though they had nothing, were held by the throat until they were nearly suffocated. I cursed over and over again in my heart the Turks. I was not prepared for such scenes of cruelty in these remote mountains. We shall find, that amongst the so-called barbarians of The Desert there was nothing equal in atrocity to this. What wonder that the Arab prefers, if he can, to pasture his flocks on savage and remote wastes to being subjected to these regular Governments—of extortion! And yet we, in our ignorance of what is here going on, are surprised at their preference. If the people are not ready with their money, the little barley, their winter's store, is seized, and they must pay afterwards their usual quotas of money. Several bags of barley are illegally gotten in this way. The amount of tax or tribute for the whole district of Rujban is five or six hundred mahboubs, which is paid in three instalments, three times a year; but, which though nothing in amount, is more than all the people are worth together, for riches and poverty are relative possessions, if the latter can be possessed. If they can't pay in money they pay in kind. The Sheikh of the district,[50] with the elders, determine how much each man and family shall pay. This, of course, gives rise to ten thousand disputes, heart-burnings, and eternal wranglings amongst themselves. The Arabs, on these occasions, however silent and sulky they may be on others, show that they have the gift of speech, as well as Frenchmen and Italians. Then, indeed, God's thunder can't be heard. Marabouts do not pay these taxes. This is a privilege of religion, which successfully exerts itself against the oppressive arm of the civil power. Such privilege has been enjoyed in all ages and countries. My camel-driver is a Marabout, and is consequently exempt. I rallied him upon his privilege, and he replied: "The villains are afraid to come here; see my flag-staff and green flag, they dare not come over my threshold—God would strike them down!" It is impossible to tell how much of the five hundred mahboubs gets into the treasury of Government, but, I am told, a good portion gets into the pockets of the officials. The whole administration of The Mountains, and the Saharan oases of Tripoli, is conducted on the same principles of finance and extortion.

I am lodged in the house of my camel-driver. The women show the greatest curiosity to see me, and declare that I am more beautiful (bahea) than they. They wonderingly admire everything I have. The greater part of these women never left their mountain-homes—never saw a Christian or European before—and this is the reason of their surprise at my appearance. The children, of course, are equally astonished, but are too frightened to reflect steadily on an European. Both the women and men say it is maktoub, ("predestination") which has[51] brought me amongst them, and they are right. These poor people are very civil to me. In my quality of tabeeb they consult me. The prevailing disease is sore eyes. Two children were brought to me, a girl with a dropsy of a year's standing, and a boy with only one testiculum, for neither of which did I prescribe. The employment of the men is camel-driving between Tripoli and Ghadames. Agriculture, there is scarcely any. The women weave barracans or holees for their husbands, themselves, and children, and for sale. They are mostly dirty, and ill-clothed. The men have but a single barracan to cover them, one or two may have a shirt; the children are nearly naked; and the women wear a woollen frock, charms round their necks, armlets, and anclets, sometimes throwing a slight barracan or sefsar round their heads and shoulders. I observed, however, that often women wear great leather boots, made of red leather or camel's skin. None of them were pretty, but some were fine-looking, with aquiline noses, and rolling about their large, black, gazelle-like eyes.

10th.—Spent the day in writing notes. Expect to remain three more days. I am, however, comfortably sheltered from the heat, which has been to-day excessive. Mohammed, my camel-driver, is useful to me as a writer of Arabic, giving me the names of places in Arabic. But he knows nothing of Arabic grammar, and writes very poorly, like most of these Marabouts, although he passes for being a very learned man. He purchased some old dirty leaves of an Arabic book, and exhibited them to the people as sacred works. The Sheikhs of Rujban and all the great people of the villages came to stare at them. They were shocked at my presumption[52] in wishing to handle these sacred leaves, which were a portion of a commentary on the Koran. My Marabout is the Katab, or writer of the village, there being only another who can write here besides himself, and who writes very badly. Mohammed, though a saint and a writer, is an enormous hog, and dishonest, when he can be so with safety. He has begun badly, but may turn out better. Said is not of much use yet; he is very stupid, but not malicious. I must make the best of both, and of every body and everything in my present circumstances, conciliating always wherever I can, and passing by all offences. If I can't do this, I may go back. I cannot finish these trifling memoranda to-day, without expressing my thankfulness to a good Providence, that I enjoy good health and spirits up to this time, and there is every appearance of my arriving safely in Ghadames. "All is from God!" (Men ând Allah El-koul, as the people say.)

11th.—Yesterday evening conversed with the Arab villagers, and asked them if the soldiers of the Government were gone, i. e., the collectors of the tribute. They replied, "Yes, thank God, and may they never return! The curse of God upon them!" They then asked me, if the people were treated so by our Government. I observed to them, "Not always. But that sometimes the British Government sorely oppressed the people, as all the Governments of Europe; and I was often tempted to think that there were only two classes of people in the world, the oppressing and the oppressed, (i. e., the eaters and the eaten)." To which latter remark they all answered with a loud "Amen," and swore it was the truth. They then asked me, "If the English[53] were coming to Tripoli?" I told them, "No," for the English had now more countries than they knew what to do with. Surprised at this remark, they continued, "What are the French vessels doing at Tripoli?" (There were then a French steamer and a brig at this time.) I told them to keep away the Turks from attacking Tunis. They were anxious to know if the French would come to Tripoli. I answered, I thought not, as they had enough of Algeria. "We hope (en shallah,)" said they, "the English are our friends." I replied they were, but, being friends of the Sultan of Constantinople, they would not take possession of Tripoli. The fact was, these poor people were just smarting under the oppressive acts of the Turkish tax-gatherers, and they would then have sold their country to the first comer for an old song, were the buyer Christian, Jew, or Pagan. But I have always found the Arabs fond of talking of politics; it seems instinctive in their character; and it is astonishing how much policy is always going on amongst their tribes, and how intricate are the various negotiations of the Sheikhs. I asked them "If they had any arms?" To which they replied, "No, none whatever; the Turks have taken them all away." And so these once formidable mountaineers have not only lost all spirit and courage, but have not even arms to defend themselves against the most petty annoyances. Robberies of the small kind are frequent about the neighbourhood, and the people are often obliged to gather their figs before they are ripe, lest they should be stolen. At other times they display great impatience of the seasons, and gather the fruit before ripe. Those who steal provisions are poor[54] famished devils, having nothing to eat. There is no poor-law here. It is simply a question of theft or starvation to death. This is the alternative of Arab life in many parts of these mountains.

This morning received a visit from the Sheikh of Rujban, Bel Kasem by name[15], and his head-servant, or factotum. I made them the best coffee I could, putting into it plenty of sugar. The Arabs are curious people; they like things either very bitter or very sweet. Their eyes sparkled with satisfaction; they had never tasted coffee before like it, and were rejoiced—"Tripoli always belongs to the English!" Speaking of the Marabouts, and alluding to my Mohammed, the Sheikh said, "These fellows pray God and rob men." "Mohammed," he added, "is a rogue, he pays nothing, and I am obliged to eat up all the people to make up the amount for the Bashaw." It is curious to observe everywhere this eternal contest between the civil and spiritual power. To pacify him, I told him Christian priests were many of them as bad as Marabouts (and which is quite within the mark). The Sheikh and his men had very white teeth. I observe nearly all the Arab men and women, as well as the negroes, to have extremely white teeth. This has never been medically accounted for; I believe it arises from the simplicity of the food they eat. Some Tunisian Arabs have reported that large bodies of troops are being concentrated at the Isle of Jerbah, in expectation of the Turks. The trading Arabs are the gazettes of North Africa.


Said's feet are very sore, arising from Mohammed refusing to allow him to ride. I was obliged to tell him, at last, that, unless he permitted him to ride, Said should not help him to load the camels. This had some effect, and he allowed Said to ride an hour or two before reaching here. This Marabout is, indeed, a cruel, selfish fellow. He also pretends to be very jealous, and will not allow any person, much less a Christian, to see his wife. He won't allow me to present her a cup of coffee. But I found out the reason; the rascal wished to carry it himself, and drink half of it on the way. Afterwards his wife told me herself the reason. An indiscreet conjugal disclosure this: but such is the character of the man.

An old blind man is calling on me. He tells me his country is my country, and his people my brothers and sisters. He prays God to bless me and preserve me. How soft and gentle—how full of good-will and patience—are the manners of the blind in all countries! Full fed flesh and the prosperous are proud and cruel, those stricken with infirmity and misery show the milk of human kindness. This poor old gentleman prays all the day long. Prayer is his daily bread. The Arabs ask me if Said is my slave. I tell them the English have no slaves, and that it is against their religion, but that some other Christian nations have slaves. They are greatly astonished that slavery is not permitted amongst us. The women of the village continue to visit me as an object of curiosity. They never saw a Christian before. They are always declaring me "bahea," handsome, of which compliment I am, indeed, very sensible.

This evening, however, the women of our two or three[56] huts, and their neighbours, played me an indecent trick, with, of course, a mercenary object. Although the Barbary dance is rare amongst the Arab women, they can have recourse to it at times to suit their objects. The men were gone to bring the camels, and the women sent Said after them on some frivolous message. Four of the women now came into my apartment, and taking hold of hands, formed a circle round me. They then began dancing, or rather making certain indecent motions of the body, known to travellers in North Africa. At once nearly smothered and overpowered, I could scarcely get out of the circle, and pushed them back with great difficulty. At this they were astonished, and wondered all men, Christians and Mussulmans, did not like such delicate condescension on their part. "Don't you like it, infidel?" they cried, and retreated from my room. I now saw their object. They began begging for money vehemently, saying, "Pay, pay, every body pays for this." Nothing they got from me; and the wife of the Marabout came afterwards, imploring me to say nothing to her husband. It is thus these rude women will act for money, as many who are better taught, in the streets of London. But acts of indelicacy are nevertheless very rare amongst the mountain tribes. I have seen Arab women at other occasions, on a cold day, standing athwart a smoking fire, with all the smoke ascending under their clothes. This may be expected, and is characteristic of the filthy habits of these wretched mountaineers. But cases of adultery are unknown amongst these simple people.

12th.—A beautiful Arab girl, a perfect mountain gazelle, came with her mother to consult me about her[57] eyes, being near-sighted. Recommended her to apply to Dr. Dickson, if she ever went to Tripoli; and wrote her a note to him. Many other people came for medicines. Went to see an old man whose eyes were bad with ophthalmia. I gave him some solution to wash his eyes, and he gave me in turn a jar of new milk. Something was said about olive-oil, and I asked where we could get some. They said there was none in Rujban. The lady of my host thinking me incredulous, pulled her gray grisly hair, and exhibited its crispness and dryness, observing, "See, where's the oil?" Of course such an argument was conclusive that they had no oil in the house.

The villagers, in this season, do absolutely nothing, unless it be sleep all day long. The fact is, it is awfully hot, from early morn to evening late, and they have little to do. All that they have to do, many of them do with apparent dispatch. At the dawn of day the wind is so strong, one cannot enjoy an hour of the morning's freshness; and, in the evening, the sultry ghiblee is equally disagreeable. I scarcely go out of my room the whole day. Begin to recover my Arabic. Many times I have begun and re-begun this difficult language. But there is no remedy. I must work, and work brings some pleasure, at least destroys ennui and kills time. However little time we have, we wish it less.

The Arabs ask me, "Why the Christian priests have no wives?" The Mohammedans and Catholics go to extremes in their ideas of separating or connecting women with religion and sanctity. The Mohammedans think a saint or marabout cannot have too many women[58] or wives, which, they say, assist their devotion—a sentiment which they pretend to have received from Mahomet himself by tradition. The fact is, the prophet was very fond of women. The Catholics would seem to think a priest better with absolutely no wife. This is a mere struggle between sensuality and asceticism. There is no love or affection in it. I showed Mohammed an empty bottle. He took a piece of paper and wrote: "The bottle is empty of wine, God fill it again." Such is Arab marabout literature.

13th.—Elhamdullah! The wind has changed, the furnace breath of the ghiblee is gone out! We have now a pleasant breeze from N.W., the bahree, as the Arabs call it. We can now go out any time; before we were prisoners the live-long day. Mohammed, who pretends to all sciences, says: "There are three modes of cure—"1st, Blood-letting; "2nd, Fire and burning; "3rd, The word of God."

He made this observation in applying verses of the Koran to the eyes of his wife's sister, which he said were more efficacious than all my physic. Some of these bits of paper, with the name of God written on them, were steeped in water and swallowed by the patient. This superstition of swallowing bits of paper, with the name of God and verses of the Koran written on them, as well as the water in which the paper is steeped, is prevalent as an infallible remedy in all Mahometan Africa. Marabouts are all powerful in The Mountains; and a woman, pointing to her child, said to me:—"That boy is the child of a Marabout. I never allow another man to sleep with me." Nevertheless, the[59] women still display intense curiosity in seeing "The Christian," and will declare, "By G—d, you are beautiful, more handsome than our men." They admire the most trifling thing I have, and add, "God alone brought you amongst us." Their language, though indelicate to us, is not so to them. It is the undisguised speech of a rude people.

Went this morning to see El-Beer, or "the well," the real fountain of life in these countries. Was much pleased with the visit; and found it at the bottom of a deep ravine, bubbling out from beneath the shade of palms and olives, amidst wild scenery of rugged steeps and hanging rocks. There are indeed, four springs, but all apparently from the same source. They are not deep, and have near them troughs for watering sheep, goats, cattle, and camels. These wells furnish water for two mountain districts. The water is of the purest quality, clear as crystal, aye, clear as—

"Siloa's brook that flow'd Fast by the oracle of God."

The road to them is very difficult, over rattling, rumbling stones, and rocks, and precipices, and it is hard work for the poor women who fetch the water, for the wells are distant nearly three miles from our village.

The Sheikh came to my Mohammed, asking him to write to Tripoli, to collect the money due to the Bashaw from certain people of this country, who are now working in that city. They look sharp after these poor wretches. Amuse myself with washing my handkerchiefs and towels, and mending my clothes. I also always cook and do as much for myself as I possibly can.[60] Besides doing things as I like, it amuses me. Bought another skin-bag for water, and shall now distribute the three amongst us, and each shall drink his own water during the four days of our route, where no water is to be found. This will prevent wrangling on the way, and make each person more careful of this grand element of life in The Desert. Mohammed put a little oil in the skin before filling it, to prevent it from cracking. This gives the water an oily taste for weeks afterwards, but we get used to it, and are glad of water with any taste.

His Excellency the Sheikh got very facetious to-day. He offered to sell me his authority, his Sheikhdom, and retire from affairs. I bid one thousand dollars for the concern. "No, no," said he, "I'll take ten thousand dollars, nothing less." Then, getting very familiar, he added, "Now, you and I are equal, you're Consul and I'm Sheikh—you're the son of your Sultan, and I'm a commander under the Sultan of Stamboul." The report of my being a Consul of a remote oasis of The Sahara was just as good to me on the present occasion as if I had Her Majesty's commission for the Consular Affairs of all North Africa. Who will say, then, there is nothing in a name? A tourist in Africa should always take advantage of these little rumours, provided they are innocent. But the traveller more frequently has to encounter rumours to his disadvantage. Many visitors, men, women, and children—some brought milk, others figs and soap. Soap is considered a luxury in all the interior cities, and people will beg soap though never use it, but keep it as a sort of treasure. Fig and olive trees abound in the mountains, but for want of rain[61] have produced nothing this year. So of most other vegetables products. Goats only are in abundance, of animals. The ordinary food of the people is bazeen, a sort of boiled flour pudding, with a little high-seasoned herbal sauce, and sometimes a little oil or mutton fat poured on. It is generally made of barley-meal, but sometimes flour. This is the supper and principal meal of the day. As a breakfast, a little milk is drank, or a few dates with a bit of bread is eaten. The rule of these mountaineers is, indeed, not to eat meat, though some of them have flocks of sheep.

14th.—His Excellency the Sheikh roused me from my bed this morning. He said he could not sleep, and therefore I ought not to sleep. According to his Excellency, Rujban contains 500 souls, all in misery and starvation. "The country is batel (good for nothing)," he says. It is certain the greater part of the people have not enough to eat, or half the quantity of what is considered ordinarily sufficient. In the neighbouring districts, S.W., there are 1,500 souls. Ahmed Bashaw destroyed the greater part of the inhabitants of these mountains, and disarmed the rest, leaving not a single matchlock amongst them. Such are the Turkish ideas of mountain rule—absolute submission or extermination!

This morning is cool and temperate. Every day continue to administer solution for ophthalmia, and even those whose eyes are quite well, will have a drop of it put on their eyes. They say it will prevent them, after I am gone, from having the malady. Everybody begs a bit of sugar, a little bread, a scrap of paper, a something from the Christian. Content all as well as I can.

This evening saw, for the first time "the playing with[62] the head," which is performed by females. This was done by a young girl. After baring her head and unbinding her hair, throwing her long dark tresses in dishevelled confusion, she knelt down and began moving her chest and head in various attitudes, her whole soul being apparently in the motion. Part of her hair she held fast in her teeth, as if modestly to cover her face, the rest flew wildly about with the agitation of her head and chest, and all to the tune or time of two pieces of stick, one beating on the other, by the woman upon whose knees she leaned with her hands. The motion was really graceful, though wild and dervish-like, but there was nothing lascivious in it, like the dancing of the Moors, nor could it well be, the upper part of the body only was in agitation, being literally "the playing with the head." I never saw this before or again in North Africa. I gave the young lady twenty paras, the first time she had so large a sum in her life. Received a present of leghma from the Sheikh, very acrid and intoxicating. The women admire much my straw hat, made of fine Leghorn plat, and wonder how it is done. None of the inhabitants but our Marabout read and write. Portions of the Koran, however, are committed to memory; and one day an old blind man repeated several chapters of the Koran for my especial edification. He did it as a protest of zeal against my infidelity before the people, but I took care not to show that I was aware of the object. The men pray now and then, the women never, that I could see, and never think of religion beyond ascribing all things, good and bad, to God. Indeed, all classes in these mountains think the sum of religion consists simply in ascribing all matters, how great[63] or how small, how evil how good soever, to the Divine Being. When they have done this, they think they have performed an act of piety and mercy. At my request, Mohammed made Said a pair of camel-driver's shoes, or sandals, to save his best. The plan is primitive enough. They get a piece of dried camel's hide, and cut it into the shape of the sole of the foot. Then they cut two thongs from the same hide. Holes are now bored through the soles, a knot is made at the end of the thongs, and they are pulled through the holes. The whole is then rubbed over with oil; the hairy side of the hide is fitted next to the foot, and the thongs are bound round the ancles. These sandals serve admirably well their purpose; some are made of double soles. But for the especial benefit of our cordwainers, I may mention, the African shoe has no heel to the sole.

15th.—His Excellency the Sheikh, and his factotum, or shadow, took coffee again with me this morning. A cup of coffee is a rare treat in Rujban. The Shadow of his Excellency brought me a few bad Fezzan dates, from which oases The Mountains are mostly supplied. Dates are not cultivated in The Mountains. The palm requires a low and flat sandy soil. The climate is not of so much consequence as the soil. Jerbah, and the Karkenahs, islands in the Mediterranean, produce as fine dates as the most favoured oasis of The Sahara. The Sheikh tells me there are thirty negro slaves in his district. One would wonder how the people could keep slaves when they can scarcely keep themselves. His Excellency is very sulky. He threatens to resign his Sheikhdom. The poor Sheikh is the dirtiest, unhappiest mortal of all his people. He is without wife, family or friend; he is without a rag[64] to cover himself, except a filthy blanket. He houses in a little dirty cabin. In looks he is a hard strong-featured man, and large of limb. I asked his Excellency what he got by his Sheikhdom, to plague him. He growled, "Shayen (nothing)." "Why don't you resign?" I continued. "I can't; all my ancestors, from the time of Sidi Ibraim, and our lord Mahomet, were Sheikhs. We're one blood. I shall dishonour them:" he returned. The principle of aristocracy is irradicably bound up in the Arabian social economy. The levelling and co-operative system has no place here. The Sheikh's factotum is a noisy, roguish-looking Arab, with several bullet-marks about him received in the late wars. As he does all his master's dirty work, he is universally detested. Master and man swear the country is ruined. There certainly is nothing in these villages to render life tolerable. No rustic plays; no moon-lit dance to the sound of the rude calabash drum and squeaking pipe; no cheerful family circle—all is poverty and loneliness! Such a life is really not worth living. To make wretchedness still more wretched, for three years there has been no rain in these mountains. God's power and man's cruelty press sorely upon these miserable people.

The curiosity of the villagers begins to abate, or my Mohammed refuses them admission into his house to see me. He pretends to be honest in his opinion of his countrymen. He says: "The Arabs are all dogs (kelab)." They certainly have most begging propensities. And Mohammed adds, that when they have sufficient they will still beg, being born beggars. But, alas! these poor people, I am sure, never know now what it is to have enough. Yesterday some audacious thief stole the[65] Sheikh's leghma. His factotum is foaming with rage, but the Sheikh laughed heartily at the impudence of the thief. His Excellency is accustomed to send me some every morning. I shall here relate a case or trait of selfishness amongst Arab women. I gave to the wife of the Marabout half a bottle of solution for washing her eyes should she be attacked with ophthalmia. Her sister-in-law, living next door, was laid up in a dark room with a dreadful ophthalmia. She sent her husband to beg a little of the solution. The Marabout's wife first denied that she had any, and then that she could find it. When I came from my walk, I scolded her soundly and gave the poor sufferer some solution.

The Marabout seeing my little stock of oil, burst forth with a violent panegyric on olive oil, as he dipped his fingers into it and licked them, not much to my satisfaction:—"Oil is my life! Without oil I droop, and am out of life; with oil, I raise my head and am a man, and my family (wife) feels I am a man. Oil is my rum—oil is better than meat." So continued Mohammed, tossing up his head and smacking his lips. I have no doubt there is great strength in olive oil. An Arab will live three months on barley-meal paste dipped in olive oil. Arabs will drink oil as we drink wine.

16th.—This morning we leave for Ghadames. What is remarkable, nearly all the Mountaineers offered me their services, and were willing to leave their native homes, and go with me any where or everywhere. I hardly observed a spark of fanaticism in them, so far as accompanying me was concerned. They were all actuated with the common and universal feeling, to obtain something to live withal in this poor world.[66]

I have endeavoured to give some minutiæ of Arab mountain life. It will be seen to be not very stirring or agreeable, and there is certainly no romance in it, but, such as it is, I offer it to the reader, and he must make the best of the information. Life is life under any and all forms.

From Tripoli to The Mountains our route was southwest, so that we were not so far from the coast as at first might be imagined, from the number of days' journey, and we were still within the influence of some cool sea breezes, for any point almost between west and northeast, brought reviving life to The Mountains, in this terrible season of heat.

My journey seemed now to begin again, I felt a sickening regret, even in leaving my new Arab acquaintances. But the oppression which ground down to the dust these poor people filled my mind with the horror of despotic government. I was glad to get away from its victims, and from under the sphere of its influence, and plunge into the wild wastes of The Sahara, where I could breathe more freely. I must relate one other anecdote illustrating this oppression. A poor man sold me a peck of barley. The myrmidons of power, hearing of the sale, immediately went to him, and he refusing to give them the money, they got hold of his throat and nearly strangled him. To make them desist, I paid them also the value of the barley. Several of the poor people ran out after me when I mounted the camel, and amongst them many women and children, all crying out "Bes-slamah, bes-slamah," (Good-bye, good-bye). We now entered upon the most difficult, and the most critical part of our route in this season, and I commended myself and the people again to Eternal Providence.[67]

20th.—Seenawan. I find it impossible to write daily in this part of the route.

I have seen lately in the newspapers and geographical journals, that a Frenchman is going to traverse Africa from west to east, and that he is to make hourly observations with scientific instruments. I think the parties who write such paragraphs must be either madmen, or grossly and unpardonably ignorant of the nature of African travelling. If a traveller is in his sober senses, half the time he is en route, he is a happy man. But to proceed.

Our first object was to find the rendezvous of the ghafalah. I said to Mohammed: "Are you sure the ghafalah is on the march to-day?" "The ghafalah is like the sun," he replied, "every body knows it will move to-day." About four hours after looking over the undulating ground, I thought I saw at about six miles distant some black spots moving, and turning to Mohammed, I said, "What's that?" He exclaimed, "The camels! the camels! I told you I was right, and don't you see I have struck into the right path?" I was glad to hear this, for I was not yet sufficiently broken in to desert travelling to be wandering about as we were in search of moving parties of the ghafalah. An hour after I took off the shade from my eyes, for I had still a slight ophthalmia, and looking round, I found we were in the midst of detached parties of the ghafalah, widely apart, but all hurrying in one direction. We were not near enough (indeed some miles off) to have any conversation with them. By noon we had all rendezvoused upon a pleasant plateau of The Mountains. The merchants welcomed my return, and asked me what I had been doing. I said,[68] "We have delayed too long." They smiled:—"Oh, you don't understand; you see we have one day for buying oil, another day for barley, another for skins, another for doing nothing," &c. It appeared to me a bungling way of doing business. But some of them had been obliged to go a day's journey to purchase a few things. The ghafalah had, in fact, been scattered all over The Mountains. A few never left Yefran. This was my first taste of delay in Saharan travel.

We began our four days' journey in the evening, and continued all night up to two hours before sunrise. The camels then rested but were not unpacked. All the people now got a few winks of sleep. At dawn we started again, and halted for the day after two hours and a half of marching. In the afternoon, about half-past four, we then resumed our march, and in this manner we continued for the four days. Our pace was upon an average three miles per hour, sometimes two and a half, and sometimes three and a half. On looking at the camel you think it goes slow, but when you look at the driver, you observe that he is often kept up to a very good walking pace. Our camels were five days without drinking, for they drank the morning before we left.

I was once going to write, "the Arabs pack their camels as badly as possible; make their journeys as long as possible; travel as much in the sun as possible[16];" but these last four days have convinced me that, under the guidance of a good Arab chief, they know what they are about, and can do things with order and dispatch.

I don't know how it was, but it came into my head that, on leaving The Mountains, and proceeding south,[69] we should soon descend again, as if we were to cross some mighty ridge or series of ridges of the Atlas. Every moment I expected to descend into valleys or plains, corresponding to the country which lies between Tripoli and The Mountains. Getting impatient, after nearly a day's march, I asked for the plains. The people turned upon me with surprise, and said:—"Lel Ghadames, koul hathe souwa, souwa, All like this to Gadmes." I found, indeed, that, after getting fairly into The Mountains, and proceeding south, you first entered upon a deep undulating country, with here and there a profound ravine, then a pretty verdant inclosed plateau, and then a bare towering height, all which accidented country dissolved at last into an immeasurable plain. Proceeding south, however, we found a new species of mountains began to raise their long, lone, dull, dreary naked forms; and, asking Mohammed what they were, he replied correctly enough:—"These are Gibel Sahara, (Saharan Mountains)." The plateaus and undulating ground were in places covered with loose stones, with sand and sand-hills scattered or heaped about. Then these stones and sand were partly covered at this season with sun-dried and sun-burnt herbage, mostly very coarse, with here and there a few bushes and shrubs. Many also were the dried beds of rivers, and there were still wider and profounder depressions of land than these waterless wadys. But all is now burnt, scorched, dried up, and the nakedness of the Saharan ridges is responded to with a hideous barrenness from the intervening plains and valleys. Not a single living creature was visible or moving; not a wild or tame animal, not a bird nor an insect, if we except a tiny lizard, which seems to live as[70] a salamander in heat and flames, now and then crossing our path at the camel's foot, and a few flies, which follow the ghafalah, but have no home or habitation in The Dried-up Waste. Nor was there a sound, nor a voice, or a cry, or the faintest murmur in The Desert, save the heavy dull tramp of our caravan: all else was the silence of death! However, my Marabout tells me, in the winter the whole scene is changed. "There is then," he says, "herbage, rain, birds, gazelles, and all things." It is certain that within nine hours' ride from Rujban we passed the stubble of two or three patches of barley, which had been rescued from the dominion of The Desert.

As to myself, personally, in this part of the route, I have suffered most from want of sleep. In the day-time it was too hot to sleep, and in the night I was on the back of the camel, where, of course, for the present, I could not be expected to sleep, though many of the Arabs, nay, merchants slept. I should say all slept on the camel as soundly as in a bed. So that what I saved of suffering from the heat of day-travelling, I lost in want of sleep by night-travelling. Poor human brute! I thought of the fable of the ass and his winter and summer advantages and disadvantages. The hottest day was yesterday, last of the four, when we encamped in a dry bed of a river. I shall never forget that day, forget what I may else! I was first on the point of being suffocated, and seemed at my last gasp. I began to think that the predictions of my friends in Tripoli were about to be verified. I was to succumb to make them prophets! In addition to this my deep distress, I felt the wound of pride. I got some tea made, I can't tell how, and[71] poured some brandy into it. This I drank, and from a fever of delirium found myself conscious again, and swimming in a bath of perspiration. The crisis was now passed, and I was to see Ghadames and Ghat, and return to my fatherland. So fate—rather Providence—would have it. Every day, until I reached Ghadames, there was a sort of point of halting between life and suffocation or death in my poor frame, when the European nature struggled boldly and successfully with the African sun, and all his accumulated force darting down fires and flames upon my devoted head. After this point or crisis was past, I always found myself much better. It is strange that my head never ached, nor was in any way affected during the whole route, except in the one day mentioned. Some and all have vainly invoked sleep upon a bed, in the time of darkness and cold, but those who call for the god in the African Desert, in midday of the hottest season of the year—and to the last moment of starting with a long, long night of travel before them—as they lay rolling on the burning sand, and he disdains to shed his dull influence over the eyelid, know, indeed, something of this kind of human suffering, and how dreadfully long and dreary were those nights! What signified the sight of the ten thousand orbs moving in silent mystic dance, and dressed out in soft bright fires, over the poor traveller's head! Alas! it was a mockery of his woes. . . . Four days and four nights were thus passed, without four hours of sleep. I often wonder if I could go through this again. I had an additional suffering of the eyes. I never took the veil from my face from sunrise to sunset, for had I done so, I should have had[72] the hot sand immediately into them. We had ghiblee or simoon every day. But, thanks to Heaven, now ends the greatest of my sufferings from heat.

We were escorted by sixty Arab troops on foot, like those who escorted us from Tripoli to The Mountains. The Pasha mostly chooses them from districts through which we pass, and in this way secures a guard well acquainted with the route. But how odd, before the Turks, in the good old days of The Bashaws, these very Arabs were the banditti of the route. A Ghadames merchant said to me one day, "Yâkob[17], see these fellows; formerly all were villanous Sbandout (banditti)." The captain of this escort, Sheikh Omer, who will conduct us to Ghadames, was charged by the Commandant of The Mountains, that his men should not be allowed to take water, or anything else by force, "bel kouwee," as the merchants said. The Sheikh was a civil fellow, and found it his interest to cultivate my acquaintance. Every morning I invited him to take coffee and tea in my tent, and he never forgot to come. In acknowledgment, he sent me some liquid butter, which was not excessively bad. The food of the Arabs, and the poorer sort of the merchants, for this journey was, as written by my Mohammed, ‮سُوِيقَ زُمِيته‬ ("Souweekah-Zameetah," that is, two names); but commonly called Zameetah, which is nothing more than barley or wheat burnt or malted, then ground, and afterwards made into paste. On this is sometimes poured a little oil or fat; but many cannot afford this luxury, and must content themselves with a little water to make up the meal into paste. I may[73] safely affirm, there was not a bit of meat eaten, or a drop of tea or coffee drunk, in the whole caravan of merchants, with 200 camels, including, with the Arabs, some 150 persons, during the last four days, except what was eaten and drunk in my tent. I myself had only a little bit of fowl. The Sheikh Shabanee (Makouran) as the Arabs call him, was the most civil to me. His portion of the camels is about forty, and he seems a most respectable old gentleman. He has two sons with him. He gave me last night a guzzle of cool water, a large brass pan full, of the size of a warming-pan, which I drank off in an instant, and found it more like nectar, than our earthy animalculæ water; it was so deliciously cool and sweet. Valuable, indeed, becomes a thing of commonest use, from its scarcity. The old Sheikh has a donkey with him to carry his drinking-water. The skins keep the water cool even in the hottest part of the day, whilst some which I had in bottles became quite hot. I shall here relate an ingenious stratagem, which I recommend to all African travellers. On leaving The Mountains we had three skins of water, one for each. But first, one of the skins cracked, and we lost a good deal of water, before it could be mended. Then Mohammed, the chief thief, was accustomed to drink large draughts when neither myself nor Said was present. This we learnt from the rest of the caravan. Said, himself, poor fellow, as soon as Mohammed had turned his back, was either to beg me to give him extra water, or help himself. Sometimes I chided him, at others I gave him water, or was too much exhausted to see what he was about. Then Said would help his friends amongst the Arabs now and[74] then, and sometimes the Arabs helped themselves, by going behind me, and sucking from the neck of the skin whilst I was riding. To avoid this, Mr. Gagliuffi told me he always put the neck of the skin-bag before and not behind, so that it was impossible for a person to drink, and at the same time to walk backwards with the camel going forwards, or at any rate to do so without being seen. Then, finally, there was the terrible action of the sun on the water, often reducing it by a fifth, and sometimes a third, of our supply. But the consequence of all this was, our three bags were empty before we arrived at Seenawan, and the little water which had remained, the third day, was so shaken in the skins, all being oiled, that for me it was not drinkable. Now for the stratagem. Apprehending this waste of water, I got twelve pint bottles filled with water at Tripoli, which were packed away as wine and spirits, neither Mohammed or Said suspecting the contrary. Accordingly I quietly despatched my couple of bottles of acqua pura per day, as the London lady drinkers are said to take their sly drops from the far corner of the cupboard, without the least suspicion of my fellow travellers. I overheard once, Mohammed speaking of me to Said: "By G—d! these Christians, what lots of rum they drink: that's the reason, Said, the sun does not kill him—he'll never die. These Christians, Said, are the same as the dæmons; they know everything, but God will punish them at last—if not, there's no God, or Prophet of God." I took no notice, but when we got to Ghadames, I took the remaining bottle, and asked him to drink. He jumped up with alarm. I then called him a fool, and proved to him I had been drinking[75] water at the time he thought I had been drinking rum. He laughed, and said, "Ajeeb, ente Yâkob âkel: (Wonderful, you James are wise.)" I then took upon myself to lecture Mohammed, abusing him for his carelessness in not preserving the water, and asking him if he thought that I, on the first time of traversing The Desert, could put up with dirty water like them, and go without for days, or with a very small quantity?

The Sheikh Makouran continues very civil: to-day he gave me a supply of onions for making soup, and promises to give me a house to live in, when I get to Ghadames. I have, in turn, to give him some medicine, on my arrival, for one of his two wives. I rode a little the Sheikh's donkey last night, at his request. It is nothing like the camel, it stumbled a great deal over the loose stones, and I am told the horses stumble as much. I felt the immense superiority of the camel, with its slow regular pace and sure foot, in these stony wastes. The Sheikh's ass is the only animal of the beast-of-burden sort in the whole caravan, besides the camels. I noticed, however, a few extra unladen camels, which take turn with others for carrying, as also several foals following lightly and friskily their dams. En route, during the nights, the Arab soldiers amused themselves by firing off their matchlocks, the most advanced party answering the farthest behind, and vice versâ. The noise of the gun broke through the painful silence of The Desert, and came finely back reverberating from the Saharan hills with double and treble discharges of sound. When their powder began to be exhausted, and they have never more than half-a-dozen charges, they sang their plaintive love ditties, or chatted to the mer[76]chants. On the whole, they showed great good temper, and, pennyless and naked, were happier than well-clothed and wealthy merchants.

In the afternoon of yesterday a letter was brought to me, written by Gameo, which had been in the ghafalah nearly all the length of the route, but had been forgotten. This stated that Mr. Macauley, the American Consul, had kindly prepared a small package of American rum for my journey, and had forgotten to send it till too late—in fact, like several persons in Tripoli, he really thought, what from the intrigues of the Pasha, and the obstacles of the season, I should never get off. I may observe, the nearer a person is to an object, it often happens he sees it less:—

"'Tis distance lends enchantment to the view."

There is infinitely less enthusiasm for African discovery,—nay, more horror of African travelling in Tripoli than in London: in truth, the greater part of the Europeans of Tripoli, and in all Barbary towns, are a degraded unenthusiastic race, wholly occupied with their petty quarrels and intrigues. Of course, a man of my stamp was considered by them either "un sciocco" or "un matto."

It is the misfortune of Africa to be surrounded by a cordon of vitiated races, half-caste and mongrel breeds, propagated from adventurers and convicts from the other continents of the world. So that Africa learns nothing but the vices of civilization from its contact with the rest of the world. It is also certain, that the native tribes of Africa itself are more immoral and barbarous on the coasts than in the interior.[77]

We have had the full moon during our last four days. Our route is always more or less south-west.

As I expected, Said is knocked up and lamed. The Marabout has cheated Said all along out of his rides, under pretence of his having made him a pair of shoes. This Marabout is the cunningest, cruellest rogue I ever met with. But I must here relate a service which he rendered me of considerable importance. Nobody could pronounce, at any rate recollect, my name. Mohammed said to me one day, "Ingleez, we have many names, have you no more than one? The ghafalah can't learn your name, it's too difficult. Make a name like ours, if you haven't one." I then told him I had another, James, and that it was in Arabic, Yâkob. Hereupon, his eyes moved round wildly with joy, and he cried out,—"That's it! that's it!" He immediately started off amongst all the people, calling out my name was "Yâkob." This second christening in The Sahara was an immense advantage to me. There is now not an oasis in the wildest and farthest region of the Great Desert but what has heard of Yâkob. When I arrived at Ghat I was astonished to find even the Touaricks calling me Yâkob, as if I had been brought up with them. Clapperton and the rest of his party adopted Mahometan names, and were wise in doing so. When I was in Fezzan, Clapperton's Arabic name of Abdallah was mentioned more than twenty years after his death in Soudan. Denham was called The Rais, being an officer.

The road from The Mountains to Seenawan is very good. The greater part, indeed, is beautiful broad carriage-road. It is generally well marked with camel-[78]paths, about a foot wide. These well-beaten, well-trodden paths, are very sinuous, running one into another, and often are in great numbers, running parallel in serpentine style, and containing a united breadth of a hundred yards. There are a few places where no road-traces are apparent to the European eye, but the well-practised eye of the Bedouin camel-driver, like the eye of the Indian in the American Wilderness, can see things, and shapes, and signs in The Desert which entirely escape us. Along the line of route small heaps of stone are placed, said by my Marabout "to point out the way." We did not meet a single traveller all the four days, no small parties—no couriers—no one. I shall not soon forget our reaching Seenawan. It was a few hours after midnight. I looked forward to it as the haven of rest from all my sufferings. A fellow-traveller came up to me, (for I had been asking all night long to see it,) and said, "See, Yâkob, there is the Nukhlah (palms) of Seenawan." Looking through the shadowy moon-light, I thought I saw something very small and black, and made a start at it from my camel as if I was going to leap into a downy bed of rest under the eternal shade of grateful palms. When the object is grasped, how its value vanishes! We threw down the mattress under the shade of a little ruined round tower, and I fell asleep. But such a tempest got up that the people waked me, covered with sand, and made me crawl into a hole, called the door of the burge. Here, amongst heaps of stones and dirt, I fell asleep again, and did not wake till called next day near noon.

Seenawan is but a handful of date-trees, thrown upon the wide waste of The Sahara, with one or two pools of[79] sluggish running water, sheltering beneath its palms thirty or forty inhabitants. There are four or five spots of vegetation, gems of emerald on the rugged brow of The Desert. The houses, if such they are, consist of half a dozen or more of mud hovels huddled together, here and there a little stone stuck in the walls, and some dark passages running beneath them. One or two had a couple of stories and a stone wall round them. Yet, within, they are cool, and have dark rooms to protect the inhabitants from both heat and cold. There are also two or three mud and stone burges, or round towers, to protect the few dates and spots of green. Nevertheless, in this pretence of existence, surrounded by the frightful sterility of The Desert, glowed the warmth of true hospitality. The Arab merchant, Zaleeâ, who lives here, and had been one of our caravan, made me come to dine with him in his house, and introduced me to his family. He gave me for dinner boiled mutton and sopped bread. When I started next day, he presented me a supply of eggs and two fowls, a sumptuous feast in The Desert! I found his wife and daughter suffering with ophthalmia, and made them up a pint-bottle of solution for washing the eye. I had had to wash the eyes of many poor Arabs during the last few days. I gave Zaleeâ's aged father half a dozen ship's biscuits, a part of one of which he sopped and ate. The old gentleman offered up a prayer for my safety, and said he would save one to eat on my safe return.

The morning of the 20th was horribly hot, but I was housed and sheltered in the old burge. I received a present of some fresh dates. This was the small black date of Ghadames, which is peculiar to two or three[80] oases about here. They were delicious as fruits of the garden of the Houris, and certainly now more esteemed by me. The Commandant, seeing me write to-day, wished to have the honour of his name being written in my journal. It is Omer Ben Aly Ben Kareem Bez-Zeen Laseeâ. The people showed no jealousy at my writing notes. Indeed, they were quite aware this was part of my business, and often assisted in telling me the names of persons and places. Never went an European into the interior with less suspicions flying about him amongst his fellow-travellers. I attribute this, in a great measure, to the frankness with which I spoke about Government and the Turkish authorities, as well as the Consular people of Tripoli. Besides, I never affected to conceal my objects. Here a man wrote in my journal the names of abuse applied to the lazy, lagging camels, for his own especial amusement; viz., "Ya kafer, Ya kelb, Ya Yehoud, 'Oh thou infidel!' 'Oh thou dog!' 'Oh thou Jew!'" In a quarrel, the Arabs transfer them complacently to one another, with sundry additions and oaths, too broad for ears polite. Kafer, ("infidel,") and Deen El-kelb, ("religion of a dog,") are the most odious terms of abuse which they can throw at one another.

21st.—We left early this first sprinkle of Seenawan vegetation, and passed the 22nd at the larger spot of the oases. This second spot is called Shâour; but both oases are included in the first name, as Ghat and Berkat are included in Ghat. It is necessary to make these distinctions in order to guard against error in laying down the routes. Shâour consists of a few stunted date-trees, a little gusub, a grain esteemed almost as much as wheat, and one or two fig or other fruit-trees. The[81] united oasis, though but containing a population of sixty souls, and all very poor people, pay 600 mahboubs per annum to the Pasha of Tripoli. The oldest man of the place told me, that, from the first hour of his observation and recollection, to the present time, the water had always been the same in quantity. There is always a little more in the winter. It is running water, and as it runs and bubbles up to the surface it is distributed over the little garden plots and patches. I asked him why he did not make the gardens larger? "God bless you," he replied, "we would if we had more water." It is surprising to notice the regularity of even this scanty supply of water through the years of an old man's life, upwards of eighty, in the heart of The Desert, for such is the site of the oasis of Seenawan. I looked about for birds, but saw none. My aged informant said, "In the winter there are some doves." No wild beast haunt the environs; they cannot get at the water. The people keep a few sheep, goats, and fowls. There are also a dozen or so of camels. It is remarkable that the soil of this speck of vegetable existence is entirely sandy, and all the water comes out of the sand. But in places, indeed, on the coast of Barbary, the finest and most vigorous vegetation often bursts forth out of a purely sandy soil. By the time all the ghafalah had taken their supply of water, and the camels had drunk, the pools were dried up or exhausted, and the people of the village had to wait for the running of the water. I put a last question to my aged Saharan Cicerone,—"How do you live here, do you work?" "I am always sleeping," (or kāéd, "reposing.") "But, how do you get anything to eat?" "Oh, I eat every other day, when I can get it,[82] and sleep the rest of the time: what can I do?" Such is vegetable and animal existence here! Nevertheless, this show and sham of life looks fair, fresh, nay, enchanting, after the five days' desert; and all, as well as myself, welcomed Seenawan as a little Hesperides.

We were a tolerably harmonious caravan, but had now and then a good quarrel. To-day a serious misunderstanding broke out between the Commandant Omer and one of the merchants. I could not learn what it was about, but Omer drew his sword twice to strike the merchant, and was only prevented doing so by the bystanders rushing on him. The Sheikh Makouran came to me apart and said: "Now, if they ask you who's to blame, say both." We then advanced to the parties, and the Sheikh turned to me, and said: "Yâkob, who's to blame?" I immediately said, though I knew nothing of the business: "Everybody, all of you." This was the signal for a burst of laughter, and the group separated. The quarrel, however, did not finish, it was carried to Ghadames and settled there. The Arabs enjoy a good quarrel, and, like good ale, they prefer it, not being too new, but caulked up a bit. The greater part of their occupation and amusement is supplied by quarrels.

Before leaving Seenawan the merchants dispatched a courier to Ghadames, and Mohammed wrote a letter to the Governor, telling him very pompously: "The English Consul of Ghadames was approaching the city under his protection." Mohammed said he had submitted the letter to the Sheikh Makouran, and it was approved. I approved of anything that had not my name attached to it.

22nd, 23rd.—Left in the afternoon, and continued all[83] night, till two hours before day-break. Rose at sun-rise and continued till nearly noon. Halted for the Kailah, and afterwards resumed our journey, continuing all night. The people of the ghafalah amused themselves in the night, by "playing at powder." As they fired the matchlocks, they shouted the name of the person whom they intended to honour, mostly firing off the gun just under his nose. Mohammed was very active in the business, and kept firing off my praises, and those of the Sheikh Makouran. This mode of compliment is universal in North Sahara. The Marabout is a good politician, and knows what he is about. He knew that Makouran and myself could serve him. The style of firing off these praises was this: "Who's this for?" cries the person that has the musket ready loaded. A number of persons, the flatterers of the great man, answer, "The Sheikh Makouran!" The majority has it if other names are mentioned. The man with his gun then runs before the Sheikh, and fires it off in his face, or a very short distance from him.

The camel-drivers showed a perverse disposition for continuing all night the 22nd and 23rd, and would not halt, without difficulty, for the two or three hours' rest before day-break. The Commandant called for more than an hour: "Ya oulād oŭăl kāéd, (You first fellows stop!)" I never felt so angry with any people, as I did with these oulad in advance, I myself was calling out, "You first fellows stop!" But they were full a mile in advance. The Arabs are very fond of this sort of disorder and annoyance to others. Another party took it into their heads to halt at noon, the 23rd, several miles from the rest. The Commandant went after them, broke up their encampment with violence, using his sword to[84] hide them, and brought them up to the main body. Very windy these two days, and got the sand in everything, cooking utensils, cups, glasses, bowls. We found the sand, however, occasionally useful, and used it instead of water for cleaning our platters and cooking pots. Some of the people say, it is better than water for cleaning pots and platters.

I have already said how my camel was harnessed, if harnessing it can be called. First, two panniers were placed (nicely balanced), which formed a sort of platform upon a level with the camel's back-ridge and hump; a mattress and skins next were placed on this, which were tied down with Arab herb-cords, and carried under the belly of the camel, securing the panniers as well as the coverlets. A small ottoman was then put at the top, on which I sat as on a chair-cushion, with my legs hanging down on each side of the camel's neck. Sometimes I lay at my full length across the mattress. But this the people disapproved of for fear I should fall off. They, however, frequently slept this way whilst riding. I was dressed as slightly as possible, and had on a gingham frock coat, with a leghorn hat. During the time the sun was above the horizon, I held up an umbrella and tied a dark-green silk handkerchief over my eyes and face. I could have borne more clothing, but I think the Moors and Arabs had too much. They don't change the quantity with the season, and wear as much in summer as in winter. The consequence is, they are very cold in winter, and very much oppressed in summer; but it is mostly the want of means which does not allow them to change their clothing with the season. I carried a little bottle of spirits and water to drink. In the night I was to eat[85] a little biscuit. None of the camels had bridles, unless used solely to ride upon. The camel which I rode was a very good one, and very knowing, and, like many knowing animals, very vicious. He was in the habit of biting all the other camels which did not please him on their hind quarters, but took care not to get bitten himself. He seldom stumbled, and I was rarely in fear of falling. A camel will never plunge down a deep descent, but always turn round when it comes to the edge of a precipice. I often rode for several hours with comparative comfort. The camel-drivers never ride when their camels are laden, sometimes suffering as much as the camels themselves. I somewhat offended the self-love of the people of Ghadames. I asked them whether Ghadames was bigger than Seenawan. They said pettishly, "Ghadames blad medina, (Ghadames is a city)."

24th.—Emjessen. Arrived at these wells about 10 a.m. Earlier we had passed a place where they were trying to get water. Emjessen is a vast salt plain, which is covered over in different parts with a coating of salt, hard enough and thick enough to furnish materials for building. And here they were building a burge, "tower," or kasbah, "castle," or fonduk, "caravanserai," (all which names people called it,) with a large wall round the principal wells, the materials of which were red earth and lumps of salt, some of which appeared as hard as the soft Malta stone. The water is, of course, brackish, but nevertheless the camels drank it with eagerness. I was staring at the eagerness with which the camels were drinking, when the Commandant said, "Enhār săkoun, Yâkob," (a hot day, James,) "do the camels in your country drink water in that way?" Hereat a merchant[86] interposed, and instructed the Rais that the English had no camels, but lived on boats in the water. This is a very commonly spread opinion respecting the English in The Desert. But Caillié says of the Foulahs near Kankan, and other tribes: "The prevailing idea of the people in the interior of Soudan is, that we inhabit little islands in the middle of the ocean, and that the Europeans wish to get possession of their country, which is the most beautiful in the world." Mohammed would not allow his camels to drink here, and said the water was bad. Emjessen is situate about ten hours from Ghadames, say, a short day's journey.

The Sahara all around now showed still more marked features of sterility, of unconquerable barrenness. Here too, for the first time, I saw boundless ridges and groups of sand stretching far away to the south-west, but they were low squatting heaps. Some sand-hills we had crossed for an hour or two. Mohammed called them wâr, and asked me to descend to save his camel's legs, I thought my legs less practised in The Desert than the camel's, and kept my place. Here were spread about, between the sand-hills and low black stony ridges, plains of salt and chalk. My first impression was, that the sea had once covered these regions.

Our route was still south-west, and south, and the prevailing wind ghiblee, or from about the same quarter.

On leaving Emjessem, we were met in the afternoon by several friends and relatives of the merchants, who had come from Ghadames in answer or invitation to our letters written at Seenawan. These strangers (to me) were finely mounted upon camels of the Maharee species, both themselves and their camels dressed out superbly,[87] the camels being tightly reined up like coursers. They had a novel and noble appearance, and I thought I saw in them something of the genuine features of The Desert. They had come eight or ten miles an hour, a long galloping trot, for such is the motion of the camel. As soon as the two parties met, there was a simultaneous scamper off of our camels, and some of theirs got very unmanageable. I was nearly thrown off, and it required Mohammed and Said to hold my camel until the alarm had subsided. The Sheikh Makouran was obliged to dismount and ride his donkey. I asked Mohammed what was the matter, for I could not understand this strange confusion all at once amongst the camels. He cried very angrily, "The camels are drunk, are mad—God made them so." When things got more settled, the merchants explained to me that it was the antipathies of the two races, the coast-camel, and the Maharee or desert-camel. That each was alarmed, but the most fierce and dominant was the Maharee, which always assumed the mastery over the coast-camel, "like," added one, "the Touarick assumes to be lord over the Arab."

To-night I was obliged to quarrel seriously with Mohammed. Said was now quite lame and could not walk more. I told Mohammed plainly he should have no present as first promised, since he had broken his agreement about Said's riding. He then put Said on a camel. The merchants were much amused at the quarrel, and thought me an ass to quarrel about a slave, (for such they esteemed Said) having a ride[18]. Some[88] few observed I was right, and bullied Mohammed, who now made another lying excuse, that his two camels were knocked up, which was the reason Said didn't ride. The early part of the night he had been riding one of them himself, and taxing him with this, he said, "Yes, but was I not ill, didn't you give me some water and acid, and sugar?" I replied, "Yes, I recollect it too well, I'm sorry I had so good an opinion of you." The Commandant now came up, and some bawled, "Here's a shamatah[19] with Said," and explained the business. The Commandant, without any more to do, takes the back of his sword and belabours Mohammed till he cries for mercy. Then the people beg the Rais to desist, and say, "Mohammed is a marabout and must not be beaten." Mohammed was very cunning, and always took care to repeat aloud a prayer when we started afresh from any station, and so gained the esteem of the more pious. Said rode the rest of the way to Ghadames.

During the greater part of the night of the 24th we reposed. At dawn of day, on the 25th, we started fresh on the last march. Just when day had broken over half the heavens, I saw Ghadames! which appeared like a thick streak of black on the pale circle of the horizon. This was its date-woods. I now fancied I had discovered a new world, or had seen Timbuctoo, or followed the whole course of the Niger, or had done something very extraordinary. But the illusion soon vanished, as vanish all the vain hopes and foolish aspirations of man. I found afterwards that I had only made one step, or laid one stone, in raising for myself a monument of fame in the annals of African discovery!


[12] The term Rais is applied by these people both to a naval and military commander, the literal meaning being "head."

[13] When an European arrives first in a remote Barbary town, although there may be many Europeans in the place, he is mostly called and mentioned in Moorish society as "The Christian," which happened to myself in Mogador.

[14] How strangely the genius of nations of such different habits have given the name of "sisters" to separate groups of trees. I have also passed twin peaks of mountains in Africa, called "brothers" by the Arabs. But Bou or Abou, "father," is the ordinary appellation of things in North Africa. Omm, "mother," is also very common. The two last are found in combination.

[15] Long names are not confined to European rank and royalty. The Sheikh's name in full is, "The Sheikh Bel Kasem Ben Ali Abd-el-Hafeeth, the Rujbanee." And this is only the quarter of the length of some of these names.

[16] So I found it written in the first portions of the journal.

[17] Yâkob, Arabic for James.

[18] There were certainly several slaves walking; but they were all long accustomed to it, whilst Said had only just come out of a weaver's establishment, where he had been many years.

[19] Turkish, "a row;" but mostly "war," "battles."




Arrival at Ghadames.—Welcome of the People.—Interview with the Governor, Rais Mustapha.—Distances of the route from Tripoli to Ghadames.—Geographical position of the Oasis.—First sight of the Touaricks.—Commence practising as Quack-Doctor.—Devotion of the Arabs.—Prejudices of the People, and overcome by the Rais.—Many Patients.—My House full of Touaricks.—The Sheikh of the Slaves.—Character of my Camel-Driver.—I make the tour of the Oasis.—Visit to the Souk.—Prejudices against me diminish.—First sight of Birds.—A young Taleb's specimen of Writing.—My Turjeman's House.—The Negro Dervish.—Touarick Camel Races.—A few Drops of Rain.—Various Visits, Conversations, &c., about Timbuctoo.—Prevalent Diseases, and my Medicine Chest.—Evening previous to the Ramadan.—Houses, Public Buildings, and Streets.


Gradually we neared the city as the day got up. It was dusty and hot, and disagreeable. My feelings were down at zero; and I certainly did not proceed to enter the city in style of conqueror, one who had vanquished the galling hardships of The Desert, in the most unfavourable season of the year. We were now met with a great number of the people of the city, come to welcome the safe arrival of their friends, for travelling in The Desert is always considered insecure even by its very inhabitants. Amongst the rest was the merchant Essnousee, whose acquaintance I had made in Tripoli, who welcomed me much to my satisfaction when thus entering into a strange place. Another person came up to me, who, to my surprise, spoke a few words in Italian, which I could not expect to hear in The[90] Desert. He followed me into the town, and the Governor afterwards ordered him to be my turjeman, ("interpreter"). Now, the curiosity of the people became much excited, all ran to see The Christian! Every body in the city knew I was coming two months before my arrival. As soon as I arrived in Tripoli, the first caravan took the wonderful intelligence of the appointment of an English Consul at Ghadames. A couple of score of boys followed hard at the heels of my camel, and some running before, to look at my face; the men gaped with wide open mouths; and the women started up eagerly to the tops of the houses of the Arab suburb, clapping their hands and loolooing. It is perhaps characteristic of the more gentle and unsophisticated nature of womankind, that women of The Desert give you a more lively reception than men. The men are gloomy and silent, or merely curious without any demonstrations. I entered the city by the southern gate. The entrance was by no means imposing. There was a rough-hewn, worn, dilapidated gate-way, lined with stone-benches, on which The Ancients were once accustomed to sit and dispense justice as in old Israelitish times. Having passed this ancient gate, which wore the age of a thousand years, we wound round and round in the suburbs within the walls, through narrow and intricate lanes, with mud walls on each side, which inclosed the gardens. The palms shot their branches over from above, and relieved this otherwise repulsive sight to the stranger. But I was too much fatigued and exhausted to notice any thing, and almost ready to drop from off my camel. In fact, the distance which I had come since I first saw the dark palms of the city at the dawn, seemed to exceed[91] (mostly the case when exhausted in completing the last mile of the journey,) all the rest of the route. I now proceeded forthwith to the Governor, the Rais Mustapha, being led by the people en masse, who, on seeing me, said, "Es-slamah! Es-slamah! Es-slamah!" ordered me coffee, and gave me a cordial welcome. It was about 10 a.m. His Excellency was sitting out in the street on a stone-bench, under the shade. Some visitors were sitting at a distance, and servants were lounging about. The Governor's house is without the city, in the gardens. It was cleanly white-washed, but small, only two stories high. Before the door it was well watered, and there was a freshness springing up from the water just sprinkled about. Several palms cast gracefully their dark shadows on the street. The Governor was very sick, his face was tied up, and his eyes covered. But he smoked incessantly. He said only a few words through his interpreter. I was equally out of order, and begged him to allow me to go to the house which was being prepared for me. He consented; and two hours after his Excellency sent me a dinner of mutton, fowls, and rice.

If I were asked my opinion as to this journey, and its being undertaken by an European, I would answer for myself, that I would risk it again, because I know my constitution, and how to treat myself. But I could not conscientiously recommend it to others in this season of the year. Were I to perform it again, I would manage much better. I would be better mounted, have a better tent, and a better assortment of provisions. Most assuredly I have great reason to thank Providence that I am arrived in perfect health.[92]

The whole time from Tripoli to Ghadames had occupied twenty-three days, but seven or eight had been consumed by delay in The Mountains. The absolute distances of travelling given me by Mohammed, are:—

FromTripoli to Janzour3hours.
"Janzour to Zouweeah9"
"Zouweeah to Beer-el-Hamra2"
"Beer-el-Hamra to Shouwabeeah5"
"Shouwabeeah to Wady Lethel14"
"Wady Lethel to Aâyat3"
"Aâyat to Yefran3"
"Yefran to Rujban18"
"Rujban to Seenawan4days.
  (sometimes 5.)"
"Seenawan to Emjessen2"
"Emjessen to Ghadames1"

The quickest time, in more general terms, in which the journey can be performed, excluding of course all stoppages, is:—

FromTripoli to The Mountains3days.
"The Mountains to Seenawan3"
"Seenawan to Ghadames3"

The French geographers, for some reason, have made Ghadames situate upon a salt plain, confounding its site with the salt plain of Emjessen. There is no salt plain in the suburbs of Ghadames, or the country near. According to the official letter of the Porte, written by Ali Effendi, Minister of Foreign Affairs, the oasis is situate in the Caimakat de Jibel Garbigi. As I did not receive the Porte's memorandum of my recall from Ghadames until my return, I made no inquiries of this mountain Garbigi, but I imagine it exists, though I[93] never heard its name. Ghadames is situate in 30° 9′ north latitude, and in 9° 18′ east longitude.

25th.—I find my house, which had been prepared for me by the kindness of the Sheikh Haj Mohammed Makouran, very commodious and tolerably clean, and I make myself at home. It is situate in the suburbs, close by the Governor's house. I now tried to get a nap, but could not. Then I went to bathe in the Mysterious Spring, whence springs up this city as an emerald amidst a waste of stone and sand! Intend bathing every day if I can. Saw Essnousee again, and many of the merchants whom I had seen at Tripoli. Found them all civil. But the people who most excited my attention were the Touaricks, whom I now saw for the first time. Many of them were here at this time for trading purposes. They expressed as much astonishment at seeing me as I them, some exclaiming, "God! God! how could the Infidel come here?" Late in the afternoon, after napping, went again into the city: was much pleased with its appearance. Thought it better than Tripoli, considering the position of the respective places, Tripoli on the edge of the sea, and open to all the world, and Ghadames in the midst of The Desert, far from the shores of the Mediterranean. No poor are seen begging about the streets, and all the people look well dressed today. They had put on their holiday clothes, which is usual on the arrival of a large caravan. What a contrast was this to the squalor and filth of Tripoli, with its miserable beggars choking up all the thoroughfares! No women were seen about but the half-castes, mostly slaves, but plenty of children playing here and there. I[94] heard amongst them the whisper of "The Kafer, the Kafer!" as I passed by.

Began to practise my quackery very early, and administered solution for the eye in various parts of the streets pro bono publico. The Rais sent for me likewise, and I poured a few drops of caustic into his eyes. In fact, I was full of business, although but a few hours in the town, and hardly had time to look about me. This business after such a journey! My turjeman, Bel-Kasem, also took me into his garden, and gave me a supply of onions, peppers, and dates. The gardens appeared quite equal to those of Tripoli. The turjeman was soon useful, though he only spoke a few words of Italian, but chiefly because he had less prejudices against the Christians than his fellow-townsmen. He had worked in the house of a French merchant in Tunis many years, and always retained a sort of sneaking kindness for Frenchmen, which indeed was much to his credit. In walking about the town, I was followed by groups of children and black women, all running one over another to see me. My turjeman was obliged to beat them to keep them off. I am the second Christian who has visited Ghadames; the first being the unfortunate Major Laing, who never returned to record what he saw in this city! But his residence of a few days here is forgotten by nearly all the present generation. The Rais is the only Turk. All the troops are Arabs. The Ghadamsee people are never soldiers. This evening the Rais sent me supper, much the same as the dinner.

The people of the ghafalah (the Arab strangers), went to pray this evening in the mosque set apart for strangers.[95] I must not omit the mention of the strict and scrupulous exactitude with which all the ghafalah prayed en route. Five times a day is prescribed by the Koran. Most of them prayed the five times, but not altogether, some choosing their own time, a liberty allowed to travellers. It was a refreshing, though at the same time a saddening sight, to see the poor Arab camel-drivers pray so devoutly, laying their naked foreheads upon the sharp stones and sand of The Desert—people who had literally so few of the bounties of Providence, many of them scarcely any thing to eat—and yet these travel-worn, famished men supplicated the Eternal God with great and earnest devotion! What a lesson for the fat, overfed Christian! And shall we say, that because these men are Mohammedans, therefore the portals of heaven are hermetically sealed against the rising incense of their Desert prayers? . . . It is hard to think so . . . though some think so.

26th.—Employed as yesterday in administering the medicines. My turjeman did not come to-day, and I suspected, intuitively almost, the people of Ghadames had persuaded him not to come. It turned out afterwards that my suspicions were well-founded; nevertheless, I received several small presents from the people. The merchants are civil, but some little jealousy discovers itself on religious grounds. All Mohammedans have got an idea that the Christians will one day take their countries from them, but that, in the end, with the aid of God, they will revenge themselves, and repossess all their cities and countries: "This," said my Marabout, "is a prophecy contained in our sacred books." My presence is therefore by some considered the pre[96]liminary for the overthrow of the Mussulman power of Ghadames, I am the scout, the spy into "the nakedness of the land;" others think I pollute the sacred city of Ghadames with my infidel carcass. Yesterday I got also entangled in the labyrinth of dark streets, some of which are often turned into mosques at certain hours of the day. Of this the people complained to the Rais, who sent me word to be careful. I replied, I was an utter stranger, and did not know what I was about; in fact, the Rais excused me to the people saying, "A little by little, The Christian will know to do all which is right. We must teach him." Indeed, I found the conduct of Mustapha from the first very kind, and he was determined no improper prejudices should get into the heads of the people against me. The Rais continued to send me breakfast, dinner, and supper. "This," said the servant, "would continue three days, according to custom;" in fact, I found the same custom adopted by the Governor of Ghat. Caillié mentions the custom as prevailing amongst the Braknas. But it will soon be seen that the Rais did not stint his hospitality to this conventional usage. His Excellency found his eyes better to-day, and I gave him a dose of pills.

My camel-driver came up to me in his usual soft sneaking way, and began his pious jargon:—"God be praised for Yâkob, because he has arrived safe in Ghadames—now God is one, and above all things powerful. Besslamah." This he was wont to repeat en route. He then said gravely, "Now, Yâkob, you are my friend—you wish to go to Soudan, I will go with you, if you like, but I will sell you my camel, on which you rode here. You know it's good and very wise. It[97] doesn't stumble. Buy it, I'll sell it because you are my friend, you shall have it cheap, for twenty-five dollars." The fact is, the camel had got a small hole in its back, and being afraid he should not cure the camel, he wanted me to buy it. Twenty-five dollars is the average price of a camel.

27th.—Paid a visit this morning to the Rais; told him the turjeman was afraid to come with me to show me the city and interpret, because the people said to him, "Bel-Kasem, thou must not show The Christian the sacred things of our holy city: never were they polluted by an infidel." The Rais smiled and ridiculed the thing, and said he would send for the man. I observed I would pay him so much per day. "No," he replied, "I am his master, you are a stranger, I must pay." Whilst we were talking, a letter came informing the Rais that some robbers had carried off six camels from the village of Seenawan. The Rais was displeased and said to me, "All this country is batel (good-for-nothing)." I asked the Rais if there were a prison in Ghadames.

H. E. "Yes."

I. "Is there any body in it?"

H. E. "No."

I. "How?"

H. E. "This is a city of dervishes and marabouts—people don't steal—if they've nothing to eat they beg."

People are calling at my house all day long for medicines. Every morning I send tea (made, of course,) to the Rais and the Sheikh Makouran. Presented the Rais with my Moorish portfolio, all worked over with various devices in leather and silk. He was quite delighted with it, observing, "The Christians are good[98] people, but the people here don't know them. Yâkob, take courage, little by little," (a favourite expression of the Rais). Next to my house is a garden whose date-trees bear no fruit, and its beds are covered with dry dust, a sad picture of neglect. On asking how this was, I was told the owner was in Soudan, and in consequence no one looked after and watered his garden. The merchants of this city often remain in Soudan five, ten, even fifteen and twenty years, leaving their families here whilst they accumulate a fortune in commercial speculations. Sometimes they marry other wives in Soudan, and form another establishment.

Bathed again in the Spring, but found it surrounded with women, fetching water. Contented myself with washing in one of the private washing apartments attached to the Spring. The water was warm, but I felt afterwards cool and refreshed. There are no public baths here as on the coast towns. I observed the place formed of a high raised stone-bench, just as you enter the city, (on our side) where all strangers pray. It seems built on, the principle of some Romanist churches, which are dedicated, like those of the ancient classic temples, to particular uses and services. My Marabout prayed in it with devout fervour as we passed, I being obliged to wait for him.

This evening dined with the Rais at his house for the first time. His Excellency was extremely kind and spoke freely of the Ghadamsee people. "These," said he, "are a people given up to prayer, and many of them spend their time in nothing else."

I said, "Are there ten thousand people in Ghadames? So I have heard."[99]

Astonished, he replied, "There are not five hundred men."

"Are there not several of the people travelling?"

"Only a few."

Then, talking of thieves and banditti, the Rais told me to bring my money to his house in order that he might take care of it. On depositing it with him he asked how much it was. There were only two hundred piastres of Tunis, all the money I had. The Rais seemed surprised it was so little (about seven pounds sterling!) I made the best of it by telling him if I remained I must send for some more. He also recommended me not to sleep on the top of the house, but in my room, and shut the door. However, it is so hot that I should be suffocated if I were not to leave the door open. In explanation, he said, "The Touaricks and other strangers are thieves." The Rais is very sick, with bad eyes. Sent him some more physic.

Whilst writing my journal, the house is filled with Touaricks, and I cannot get rid of them. I am obliged therefore to enter into conversation to amuse them.

"How large is Ghat? as large as Ghadames?"

"Bigger than Tripoli."

"Have you plenty of meat in Ghat?"

"Plenty of everything."

"I am afraid of you—you killed one of my countrymen near Timbuctoo?"

"No, no, (crying out lustily,) not the Touaricks of our country."

"Will you take me safe to Ghat?"

"Upon our lives!" (Drawing their swords across their foreheads.)[100]

"Have you a written language?"


"What's your name?" (The Touaricks to me.)

"Here, I will write it."

"Have you any medicine for the eye?"


I then applied some solution to the eyes of one of them. Another said:

"My son is always coughing. What shall I do for him?"

"Bring him here," I said, "in the morning, and I will give him something."

The Touarick.—"You won't poison him?"

I.—"No, no."

They then entered upon a religious conversation.

"What do you think of religion? Do you pray?"

"Well, there is one God."

"And, Mohammed?"

"He is the prophet of the Arabs."

"Who is your prophet?"

"Jesus; he is Prophet of all the Christians, as Moses is the prophet of the Jews."

(With impatience.) "But Mohammed?"

"We Christians have but one Prophet, who is Jesus."

Here an interruption took place, of which I was very glad. Afterwards they resumed:

"Have you any powder?"

"No; I am an English Marabout, and carry no arms, and have nothing to give away but medicines."

"Aye, an English Marabout, and not a merchant?"

"No; only a Marabout."

One of them. "We shall take your name as you have written it on this paper, and show it to our people.[101] It will be esteemed precious by them; and if you ever wander that way through The Desert, they will ask you your name, and, if you reply to it, they will not kill you, but give you plenty of camel's milk. If they have not your name they may kill you, and not their fault."

Had a visit from the Sheikh of the slaves. In most countries of North Africa there is a chief appointed by Government for any particular race, not the same as the ruling dynasty, domestic as well as foreign, which may be resident in the towns and cities. So the Jews of Barbary have their chiefs, and the slaves theirs. In Tunis a number of free coloured people, called Waraghleeah, emigrants from the Algerian oasis of Warklah, have also their chief or headsman. This chief has rather large and even discretionary powers, and can order his subjects to be imprisoned by the officers of the sovereign Government of the country. But, of course, this imperium in imperio is subject to the supervision of the supreme Government. The object is apparently to relieve the Government, but whilst it relieves the higher authorities, it inflicts irreparable injuries upon poor people, and is full of the most gigantic abuses. It is often complained of by the Levant correspondents of newspapers, under the character of the various spiritual tribunals of Eastern Christians inflicting fines, torture, and imprisonment on refractory or heretic members of those churches. The Jewish synods of Africa and the East exercise the same arbitrary powers, under the sanction of the supreme Mahometan authorities. Lately, however, the European ambassadors have done something to check these abuses in the dominions of the Porte.

After some conversation, I asked the Sheikh of the[102] Ghadames slaves what were his duties. Drawing himself up into a posture of authority, he replied:—"Be it known, Oh Christian! I am the Sheikh of the slaves, my name is Ahmed. I am from Timbuctoo. The people of Bambara are the finest in the world. They are brave—they fear none. Now, hear me: I know all the names of the slaves in Ghadames: I watch over all their conduct, to punish them when they behave badly, to praise them when they do well. They all fear me. For my trouble I receive nothing. I am a slave myself. I rarely punish the slaves. We have always here more than two hundred. If you wait, plenty of slaves will soon come from Soudan!"

Late to-night, Mohammed the Marabout of Rujban, left for his country and Tripoli. I gave him some Ghadames dates to take to Tripoli as presents, the small black dates, as a rarity, and to let the people know I had not so much forgotten them as they had forgotten me. This clever, cunning, selfish fellow, I completely overreached. He never believed that I had the courage to punish his bad conduct. I had promised him, besides the ten mahboubs (about forty shillings), the hire of the two camels from Tripoli to Ghadames, a present, or backsheesh of two mahboubs, on his behaving well. On paying him his ten mahboubs I told him there was no backsheesh. At first he was astonished and looked pale, shaking in every limb, for he expected to reap a great harvest by my affair—even a double present to what was promised. But on reflecting that he had lamed Said, who was still laid up, had pilfered our provisions all the way, and lived on us by force, although the agreement was that he should keep himself, he confessed I was right, or thought[103] it better to make the confession. However, he beat about the merchants, and got two or three of them to come down to speak to me, who said, "If he has done bad, treat him bad, that is, give him a little backsheesh." I then gave him half a dollar. His ingenuity was never exhausted. He pretended I ought to feed the camels two or three days after their arrival, which he said was the rule. There is no herbage for miles in the neighbourhood of Ghadames. The people are sometimes obliged to drive their camels to Seenawan, or Derge, two or three days' distance, to feed. I gave way, and added a trifle. He then begged something for his wife; he had bought her a pair of Ghadames shoes, worked with silk, which shows an Arab can have an affectionate remembrance for his wife, but which has been denied by some. I again added something. He now had his supper. I gave him a feed of mutton, and broth and bread. This was his feast before parting, for I did not like to send him away as a blackguard, notwithstanding he had extremely annoyed me. I never saw a person eat with such voracity. After his allowance, or the supper I had cooked him, a large supper was sent in by the Rais for three. He set to and ate his own and Said's share in the bargain. I have often seen Arabs gorge in this way, but, what is most singular, when obliged to be abstemious they scarcely eat the amount of two penny loaves per day. Mohammed was a good type of this Arab abstemiousness and voracity. When he kept himself, he only took a small and most frugal meal once a day. Of his gluttony I may add, that I was obliged to separate his mess from that of Said when he dined with me. If not, he would eat Said's mess and his own[104] before I could see what they were about. At last Mohammed began to soften and to confess adroitly, for he was one of the acutest Arabs I ever met with. He observed to me, in a whining tone, "Now I am going, I wish to tell you something. You think me very bad, and a great rogue, and so I am; but, I tell you, if you had had any other Arab you would have found him a thousand times a bigger rogue than myself, for all the Arabs are dogs. This is the truth: (El-khok.)" After this confession, I gave him a certificate of my having arrived safe in Ghadames under his guidance. This I could not object to do, in order that he might show it to the Pasha and the English Consul. Some of his remarks were full of sel, but mostly touched with selfishness. One evening, looking at his camels feeding, he said, "Ah, Yâkob, see those camels eat. It does my heart good to see them, for what am I without my camels, what are the Arabs without the camels—are not the camels the pillars which support the Arab's house?" At other times he would abuse his fellow camel-drivers for coming into my tent, upbraiding them,—"What, do you want to rob The Christian? Am not I encharged with his affairs?" Mohammed was rather tall, and of lean habit of body, like all Arabs. His hearing and sight were very quick, and he always seemed to sleep like a watch-dog. His bravery I never tested. He was mostly lively and facetious. He was good-looking, and about thirty years of age.

I saw him after my return to Tripoli. He wanted to go with me again. He said to me, "Now you have seen all, The Mountains, The Sahara, and the Touaricks. You know all our affairs, and everything we do." As a[105] literary curiosity, I shall here translate my camel-driver's account of the route from Tripoli to Ghadames, written at my request, in which will be seen the camel-driver's minute acquaintance with the route, and how every wady, and well, and mountain, is particularized. This is the style of the Saharan travellers and chroniclers.

"First Tripoli, and not far from it are palms of El-Hamabaj, and a mosque El-Kajeej. You then proceed to Gargash, in which are palms, and along the road the Kesar Jahaly. And you go on to Janzour, in which are palms and two castles, one of them is called Kesar Areek, and the Kesar of the Turkish soldiers (God curse them!) Upon the sea-shore is the mosque of Sidi Abd-el-Jeleel. And you proceed to Seid, where are palms and the Indian fig. And you go on to Ghafeeah, and here is cool refreshing water, (oh! how delicious in the great heat!) and you pass the water to El-Toubeem, where are palms, and mosques, and houses. You go on to Zaweeah, where are palms, houses, and a Kesar for troops, and a Zaweeah for the reading of The Sublime Koran, and mosques. You proceed thence to Houshel, in which are palms and houses. You move on to Aabareeah, where are palms. You now reach The Sahara, where there is a little sand; you find in it the well of El-Hamra. Pursuing your way upon The Sahara, you find the well of Esh-Shaibeeah. And travelling on The Sahara you find another well called Lakhreej. You travel further on The Sahara, and find Afoub Aaly, where there is sand, called El-Hal. And after it, you find Wady Lethel, in which are lote-trees and the lethel, a large tree like an olive-tree. And you travel to El-Jibel, where are houses and a Kesar for troops. In the country called Yefran, are olive-trees[106] and fig-trees; and below the country (or in the plains), you find palms. And near El-Gibel, in all the countries you find olive-trees and fig-trees, as far as the other mountains westward. Now Rujban (my happy country, the blessing of God on it!) has seven countries, viz.:—El-Barahem, and Tarkat, and Sharn, and Zâferan, and Ghalat, and Zantan, and Tarbeeah.

"We mounted from Rujban and from El-Gibel, and went to Eth-Tha, where is Koteet, between Ez-Zantan and Rujban. Thence we travelled to Wady Souk-ej-Jeen. Thence to Haram and Et-Teen. And we travelled to Wady-Azgheer, and afterwards Wady Walas. Thence we arrived again on The Sahara, called El-Hamrad, which is fertile[20] land, and on it are lote-trees, bearing berries (nebek). Now, oh Yâkob! this is not the lote-tree in the seventh heaven, near the presence of Rubbee (God), and which Gabriel, nor our lord Mahomet, dare not pass beyond. Alas! O Yâkob, if you believe not in Mahomet, you cannot be near this lote-tree. It says in the Koran, 'It covers the concealed[21].' And we ascended a hill,—a high hill, that is to say, a little mountain. And we ascended (descended?) to a wady, called Ahween, in which is a well on the west of the route. And after this is Eshâab, small wadys, called Eshâab Eth-Thoueeb, and after them is Wady Seelas, where there is a well of water. You pass by it on the road, and come to Seenawan, in which is a spring of water, called Spring Aly. In Seenawan are palms, and its ghotbah is like a tower (burge), built with small stones,[107] and so of the country (village) near it. And after this is the country Esh-Shâour, where there is water from springs which run upon the face of the earth, and palms and houses built with small stones. From The Mountains to Seenawan are four days with heavily laden camels.

"Afterwards you travel and find Wady Babous Eth-Theeb. Thence there is land, on which is sand, and in this the well of water El-Wateeah. After there is Wady Ej-Jeefah. Then Saheer El-Maharee, and then a long stream, in which are reeds. Afterwards you find Hinsheer El-Basasah. And after El-Bab-Rumel ("gate of sand"), a difficult place. Thence you come to Emjessem. All this route is Sahara; and the road from Seenawan to Emjessen is two days' journey. After this you find the small mountains Baârbeeah Aghour. Then you find Ghadames. There is a day's journey from Emjessen to Ghadames."

28th.—Early this morning made the tour of the city's walls and gardens. Went with Said, and myself, alone. I am fond of being alone, and would sometimes walk miles over The Desert—the caravans being not even in sight. This was solitude!

"I love all waste And solitary places; where we taste The pleasure of believing what we see Is boundless, as we wish our souls to be."

It occupied us, at a moderate rate of walking, about an hour and a half, so that the oasis may be about five miles in circumference. What a scene of hideous desolation did the environs present—nor tree, nor herb, nor living creature! Talk of the Poles, there is less life[108] here! On the west, the groups of sand-hills, which stretch ten days' journey, were all bright as the light, and sometimes not visible from brilliancy. Some Touaricks saw us going, and called after us; we took no notice of them. The Rais, on my return, asked many questions, about what I thought of the city, and observed, "These poor fools think there's no city like theirs, but what would they think if they saw Stamboul? Those who have not seen Stamboul have not seen the world!" The walls of the city of Ghadames, like the houses, are built mostly of sun-dried bricks, but parts of small stones and earth. They are in a ruinous condition, and in many places open to The Desert. But within these outer walls are garden-walls and winding paths, so that the approaches to the city are difficult, except by the southern gate. Formerly, four or five gates were open, but the Rais has shut them all but this one for security, as well as facility in collecting the octroi, or gate-dues.

The greater part of the camels of our ghafalah left today, but unladen, there being no Soudan goods now in Ghadames. These camels belong to The Mountains, and are hired by the merchants to convey their goods between this and Tripoli. The ordinary price paid is two dollars per camel. The weight the camel carries is from two to three cantars.

This afternoon had a visit from the Touarick women, and was astonished to find some of them almost fair. They were pretty and plump, coquettish and saucy, asking a thousand questions. It is evident the men are dark simply from exposure to the sun. I regaled them with medicine and tea. This party belongs nearly all to[109] Touat. They want to prevail upon me to go with them. I am almost inclined. Two men, who came with the women, assured me I should go safe and sound. I believe I could, provided I go as poor as a beggar, distributing only medicines. This evening dined again with the Rais. He is now a little better, and puts his charms over his eyes, as if the charms cured them, and not the caustic of nitrate of silver. His Excellency talked of the affairs of the city; he pretends the antiquity of Ghadames goes back four thousand years, to the times of Nimrod and Abraham. The people of the town, I suppose, have told him so; but where is their authority? He says of present matters,—"The people pay 6,000 mahboubs per annum; it is too small a sum for a city of merchants; there is little money in the country, it being mostly deposited in the hands of merchants in Tripoli; he wishes Christians established here, and a regular souk, or market, opened; the number of Arab troops which he has here is 120; he is building barracks and a fondouk at Emjessen, in order to station troops there to guard the wells, for the banditti come there and drink water, and then lie in ambush to plunder caravans." This building of forts at wells is a wise and efficient measure; the same thing has been done at the oasis of Derge. The Rais receives his pay direct from the Sultan of Constantinople; his appointment is quite uncertain; he is a native of Erzeroum; he took part in the Turco-English campaign in Syria, served under General Jochmus, and was acquainted with many English officers. He has been at Constantinople, Smyrna, Malta, and many other parts of the Upper Mediterranean.[110]

People complain that the gardens languish for want of money to cultivate them; not more than half of the date-trees bear fruit this year, owing entirely to the want of labour and irrigation. People have to purchase water. I have seen no birds in the oasis up to this time.

The greater part of yesterday and to-day occupied in distributing medicines. Afraid I shall soon finish my stock. The medicines were furnished by the British Consul-General of Tripoli, at the expense of Government; there were only five pounds-sterling worth. Ramadan begins in a few days; then I shall not have so many customers. Then the Moors cast physic to the dogs.

29th.—Went this morning to see the Souk. At the time of my visit there were only a few tomatas, peppers, a little olive-oil, and some grain, wheat and barley, exposed for sale. Passed a butcher's, where a whole camel was killed and cut up. Told in this way it fetches about thirty shillings. Paid a visit to my runaway Turjeman, who said he would call upon me this evening.

Observe the Rais employs, in his administration, all strangers, either Arabs or Tripolines, or people from Derge and Seenawan. How true are the principles of despotism! This is upon the same principle as the employment of the Swiss at Naples; in both cases the despotic government cannot trust the people. The Rais is very busy in collecting the half-yearly tax: he works with surprising zeal from morning to night—a zeal worthy of a better cause.

I am told the nearest route from here to Tunis is viâ Douwarat (or Duerat), a portion of the Atlas where is situate Shninnee. This village, scattered over all the hills, is three days from Ghabs and seven from Ghadames.[111] The Souf Arabs tell me there is no water for seven days in summer and twelve in winter, on the road they came from their country to Ghadames, the difference being the length of days. The well is called Beer-es-Saf, and sometimes Beer-ej-Jadeed. The route lies entirely through sand, N.W. This region of sand is the celebrated hunting-place of the Souf Arabs.

Dined again with the Rais this evening. His Excellency complained that the Ghadamsee people show him scarcely any attention. He never receives the smallest present, neither a few dates, nor a melon, nor a vegetable; he buys and is obliged to buy everything[22]. I thought myself more fortunate than the Rais, for I have received several little presents from various individuals. His Excellency says he never punishes the people except for abusive language to one another, and than he only gives them twenty or fifty strokes of the bastinado. In this respect he says, "Ghadames may be compared to Paradise, there being no crime in it." His Excellency repeated that the greater number of the resident inhabitants, who do not travel abroad, spend their time in reading, writing, and prayer—that, emphatically, this is a Marabout city.

30th.—Occupied two or three hours this morning in administering medicine and visiting the sick. My turjeman came back and apologized; he said the people were fanatic. Received a visit from Haj-el-Beshir, eldest son of the Sheikh Makouran. He said his father had been twice to Timbuctoo, and resident there many years,[112] and would give me some information. The Rais says there's no Sheikh of the slaves, and adds, "I'm the Sheikh of the slaves." This again is not correct, as the people all told me, there must be a headman or Sheikh of the slaves in all countries. Had a visit from two young men who were quite free from the prejudices of their countrymen. They told me to take courage, "that God was the Maker of Christians as well as Mohammedans, that in this city no one could do me harm, but I was not to expose myself to the ignorant." I seem, indeed, to get on better with the people, their prejudices apparently are beginning to give way; I shall be able to open the way for some other person. The father of one of my young friends has been now twelve years in Kanou; when he returns he brings a fortune.

Speaking to the Rais of the Ghadamsee people, I asked him what they did for soldiers before the Turks came? He replied, "These people are not soldiers and never had soldiers; they are like women and children; if any body came from The Desert to plunder, he stole what he pleased and was allowed to go away unmolested. They depended upon God and prayer for their protection. You see I told you these people were dervishes." Still there is reason to believe that if they did not fight themselves, as, at the present time, they got their quondam but powerful friends, the Touaricks, to fight for them.

This afternoon saw some doves in the gardens; and also a small flight of birds hovering over the city, perhaps there were twenty. These birds were called arnout, and have very long bills and necks. When the men leave off working at the wells, they dart down to drink. The palm-groves are the favourite resort of the doves, as[113] poetical as natural. Animals, and especially birds, are so rare in those regions that every sight of them is worthy of mention; indeed, these are the first birds I have seen since I left Tripoli. No meat to be had to-day in Souk. People usually club together and buy a whole sheep: they then kill it, and divide it into so many portions according to the number of purchasers; so that meat is rarely exposed publicly for sale, and it is necessary to join these private purchasers. Purchase-money is always paid down at once and not on delivery. The meat is never weighed but divided at guess. When any disagreement takes place lots are drawn for the division.

During the four or five days of my residence here, the weather has been comparatively temperate; at least, I have not felt the heat excessive. To-day has been close and cloudy: no sun in the afternoon: wind hot, ghiblee. I continue to be an object of curiosity amongst the people, and am followed by troops of boys. A black from Timbuctoo was astonished at the whiteness of my skin, and swore I was bewitched. The Ghadamsee Moors eat sugar like children, and are as much pleased with a suck of it. The young men carry it about in little bags to suck. The Rais is sometimes called Bey by the people and sometimes Sultan, but by the low people, not the better classes. Here, as elsewhere, the lower classes are the more servile.

31st.—Went this morning to buy meat, but got some with great difficulty. Passed some Touaricks, who showed an excessive arrogance in their manners. They look upon the Ghadamsee people with great disdain, considering them as so many sheep which they are to[114] protect from the wolves of The Sahara. Met several of the merchants I knew at Tripoli. They asked me how I liked their city, and if better than Tripoli. I always replied, Haier (better). It is singular that though these merchants are so enterprising themselves in the interior of Africa, they cannot conceive of the possibility of a Christian coming so far from home into The Desert, and when I tell them I wish to go to Soudan, or Bornou, or Timbuctoo, they look at me with incredulity and say, "No, no, you cannot go so far, you will die, or the people will kill you." They have not the least idea of the courage and enterprise of European tourists, nor can they understand their objects. But these their objections may be founded in jealousy of us Christians.

The following is a nice neat facsimile specimen of the writing of a young taleb and Ghadamsee Marabout, one of the best I have seen in The Desert. It is a bill of sale, consisting of gold—slaves, male and female—bullocks' skins—pillow-cases—elephant's teeth—senna—bekhour (perfume)—camels—sacks—and (I think) household slaves.

Facsimile Specimen of the Writing of a Young Taleb


The young taleb showed great consequence and presented me with the original. He observed that a metegal of gold is of the value of 33½ Tunisian piastres. I said, "Will you come to my house and I will show you an Arabic book (the Bible) containing the religion of the Jews and Christians?"

The Taleb: "I, I enter the house of an infidel! God preserve me!"

"Oh!" I observed, "you are afraid of me and my books—my books will bite you." Hereupon all the people present burst into a loud laugh, and the taleb looked quite crest-fallen.

Many people blind with one eye, and some with two eyes, come to me to be cured, but I can do nothing for them. One poor old man comes every morning. I wash his eyes with a solution of the Goulard powders. He, though nearly seventy years of age, still lives in the hopes of recovering his sight. How faithful a companion of the unfortunate is hope! The Touaricks use mustard for bad fingers and hands. They also cut and carve their backs for blood-letting, and the marks remain for years upon years. I saw one of them whose back was scarred and scarified all over.

This morning visited my turjeman at his house. The house is a mezzonina, having no ground-floor apartments; the parlour, or grand room, or hall, was surrounded, to my surprise, with small apartments, in which three or four sheep were fattening, as people fatten pigs. The sheep is with the Ghadamsee people what the pig is with the Irish, their dii penates. There was also another story above this, the sleeping-room; and then on the terrace, or flat roof, are other little rooms. All the[116] apartments were exceedingly small, but their situation high. Stone stairs lead from one room to another. The turjeman told me all the houses were built in the same manner, but some larger. Indeed some houses are four stories high, besides the terrace. The lower rooms are mostly used as magazines. As soon as I ascended the staircase, the wife of the turjeman pretended to take fright, and hid herself in a private apartment. At another time when I called, and her husband was absent, she came out to see me, and collected all the women in two or three neighbours' houses to see The Christian. It is the husband the woman of Africa is frightened at, and not the stranger. The tyranny of men over the sex of feebler bodily frame is co-extensive with the population of the world. It is the same in Paris, in London, Calcutta, and The Desert. But the principle of women-seeing in Ghadames and all North Africa is simply this: "If the woman is poor, or the husband poor, she may be seen; if rich, she cannot be seen." A pretty woman will, however, always try to let you see her face if she can.

There is a very good-natured black dervish always about the streets, but clean and well-dressed. Ordinarily amongst these saints filth and piety go hand in hand. They abhor the proverb of cleanliness being next to godliness. The poor fellow is very fond of me, is running in and out of my house all day long. I always shake hands with him when I meet him. The Moors approve my conduct and say: "Ah, Yâkob, he's a saint." Once the cunning fellow, when he noticed a lot of half-caste women anxious to see me, took hold of my head and turned me completely round to show my face to them.[117] He has some sense, good simpleton, and is without malice; consequently a great favourite with the people. A pity all madmen were not like this poor dervish. Yet how many would be as harmless and beloved as he if they were not confined, and caged, and chained, in civilized and Christian madhouses! The dog knows I'm a kafer, and said to my camel-driver, the day of my arrival, "Why did you bring the Christian to our holy city?" chiding him.

This afternoon we went to see the Touaricks "play with camels"—‮يلعبوا مع الجمل‬—that is, perform a sort of camel-race. Strange coincidence of civilized and barbarian life! This was the Epsom and Ascot of The Desert. But I was never more disappointed. All that the Touaricks did with their camels was, they dressed them out most fantastically with various coloured leather harness, that is to say, the withers, neck, and head; they reined them up tightly like blood-horses; and then rode them a full trot in couples. This was the whole of the grand play with camels. Some, however, would not fall into this trot of couples, and grumbled terrifically. The Touaricks who rode these restive camels were saluted by the spectators with loud laughter, the effect of which was painted sullenly in their faces. I never saw men look so couldn't help it like. One of them was a young Touarick who had been saucy to me. I was not displeased to see him in this triste position. The camels were the genuine Maharee, of course; the Touaricks have no other camels. The men were dressed out also in their gayest barbaric finery. A tent was dressed up, around which squatted a group of Desert jockies, with their fierce spears bristling above in the sun before them, like the[118] lords of creation. Even a banner floated gaily in the bright sun from the tent top. A great concourse of Ghadamsee spectators were present, one of whom swore to me that a Maharee once passed from Ghadames to Tripoli in one day, but that the rider died instantly from exhaustion, on his arrival. Another Maharee outstripped the wind, but as it was a strong cold wind, the animal died when it got into hot atmosphere, to which the tempest was driving.

Had a long conversation with a Touarick about a journey to Timbuctoo. I offered him five hundred dollars to escort me; but, to deposit the money in the hands of the Governor of Ghadames, or a respectable merchant, till my and his safe return. Said I would take nothing with me but medicines, and a little provision, and go in formâ pauperis, as a dervish or doctor. All the Ghadamsee people present approved this way of going, and admired its wisdom, as removing all temptation to attack me, or to steal anything from me when I had nothing to steal. But the Touarick could not come up to the scratch, and was frightened to take upon himself the responsibility, observing, "You are a Christian; the people of Timbuctoo will kill you unless you confess Mahomet to be the prophet of God."

Dined this evening with the Rais. His Excellency said: "Formerly, when Ghadames was governed by the Moorish Bashaws, the people paid little or nothing. There are but three or four rich persons now here, the rest are poor, or have only a few mahboubs to carry on a petty trade." At night, the streets are enveloped in pitch darkness, whether the moon be up or not. I endeavoured to persuade the Rais to make the people[119] light up the town with a few lamps, having oil enough in them to last till midnight. "Good," he observed, "but the people say it was always so, and it must be so still. What can I do?" There are no coffee-houses in Ghadames; people drink coffee inside their houses. I threatened the merchants to set up Said as a kahwagee, (coffee-house keeper). They laughed, and said, "None will buy." For conversation people collect in groups round shops, in the Souk, or in little squares near the mosques, where there are many stone benches for reclining on, or in some quiet dark nook and corner, where, when you expect to find no one, you fall foul of a retired circle of gossips, squatting down in utter darkness. These Saharan streets are veritable catacombs.

1st September.—This morning, wonderful! It broke with a few drops of rain; to me most pleasant, and welcomed as falling pearls of nectar. At noon the sky became as dry and inflamed as ever. Went to the Spring early to bathe. Found it surrounded with women, nearly all half-castes and female slaves. They pretended to be in a great fright, as all were washing and dabbling in the water. I came away. A man said, "The Christian must not go to the well in the morning, but only in the evening." There seems to be a tacit understanding, that from day-break to a couple of hours afterwards, the women shall have possession of the well, for purification purposes, according to the rites of religion.

This morning took coffee with the Rais; as no one was present, he began talking politics. "By a little and a little," he said, "we shall take possession of Ghat. We can't do it by force, it would require some thousand men to take it by arms. The Touaricks are all robbers[120] and devils." I asked him if he would not like to occupy Touat. He replied, "No, there's another Sultan there, and another people. There are two Sultans in the world, one in the East and one in the West (Muley-Abd-Errahman). Ghat we might take. At Touat we are too near the French, and might quarrel with them. All the freebooters come from Tunis. The Bey has no power or authority over the Arabs there. His government is bad; he's a madman. Our Pasha has often written to him about these freebooters, but it's no use. The English and the Sultan are one, and always friends, whatever may be the condition of the rest of the world." Speaking of me:—"You are mad to think of going to Timbuctoo; you are sure to have your throat cut."

I allow all persons, rich and poor, young and old, men and women, to come and see me. At the same time I make a distinction between those who are likely to be useful to me and mere idle intruders. All the Arab soldiers come, and, in general, though poor and thievish, they have less of prejudices, and like the English better than the Ghadamsee people. This city has not yet felt the benefit of English influence, and interference in Tripoli, and therefore the merchants have not the same reasons for being friendly to the English as the Arabs of The Mountains and the townspeople of Tripoli. All the Ghadamseeah agree with me, that the camel-playing of the Touaricks was a failure. Five slaves are leaving for Tripoli. The poor things complained of having nothing to eat; I sent Said with some victuals for them. The people continue to be friendly, and the merchants, whose acquaintance I made in Tripoli, very much so. The steward of the Rais has arrived from Tripoli in[121] fourteen days. His whole party consisted of six camels and five persons. So much for the pretended insecurity of the route! He is dressed in the Turco-European costume, like indeed the Rais himself. To-day the mother of Essnousee, my friend, was bitten by a scorpion. I administered Goulard solution to the part, and gave her fever-powder, as she was very hot and her belly swollen. She died the next day.

Dined again with the Rais. He says, scorpions are in great numbers in this city, because it is ancient, and particularly they abound in the old mosques where the people do not live or perform domestic matters. "No person," he added, "is secure from them, and it is all destined whether we are bitten, and die or not." The Touarick again assured me that he spoke the truth, he did not flatter me, by telling me he could take me to Timbuctoo, when he could not; but yet, if I could make friends with some respectable merchant of Touat, they might succeed. A son of the Sheikh Makouran is now in Timbuctoo. The Sheikh himself gave me a detailed account of the city; he has been there twice. The old gentleman, when he had finished his narrative, thought the time was come for me to assist him. He begged me to intercede with the British Consul at Tripoli for him, that he might not be taxed by the Bashaw so much. He now pays two hundred dollars per annum, assessed taxes. He assured me that all the money is leaving the country, and Ghadames will soon be without a para, like the rest of Tripoli. He told me frankly that he had the idea of making me a partner in his firm, to get my protection, but on hearing I was opposed to slave-dealing, it could not be done, as he and all the merchants were obliged[122] to deal in slaves. Indeed, the obstacle of English merchants joining the Tripoline is at present insuperable, on account of the slave traffic; if they could unite in one firm, it would be equally advantageous for both parties.

2nd.—Not so many patients this morning. A respectable Ghadamsee came to me to beg medicine to assist in conjugal pleasures. I told him to eat, drink, and take a journey from home for two months.

Although, according to the Italian almanack, the new moon is on the 1st, yet as the people have not seen it, there is no Ramadan, (properly Ramtham.) The Rais says, after the first ten days' keeping the fast it is not difficult, but, during this period, the adult Mussulmans suffer exceedingly. Afraid I shall find them all ill-natured during the fast. Besides, they can't stomach seeing Infidels eat, whilst they the Faithful fast.

Supped with the Rais. His fowl flew away, and left him without meat for supper. "Maktoub," he said, laughing. The Mussulmans are extravagantly fond of rice, but they never prepare it in that nice delicious way in which we do, with milk, or in rice pudding. It is always covered with fat, and soon surfeits one. His Excellency and his servants played practical jokes on the black dervish. First, they bastinadoed the dervish, and then he bastinadoed the Rais's servants. But the dervish did it in reality, and so effectually, that after two or three strokes, they jumped up, for he laid it on under all the force of his witless revenge. When in a passion, or excited, he speaks his native lingo of Soudan, but when cool he speaks Arabic and Ghadamsee. He became mad, en route, by grief in being ravished from his[123] country. These practical jokes were played off under the sanction of his Excellency, before all the people in the streets.

The prevalent diseases at this season, are diarrhœa and ophthalmia, with occasional cases of fever. The diarrhœa arises from the people's eating unripe or bad fruit, particularly melons, the ophthalmia from frequent exposure to the sun during the past hot months. The camel-drivers also bring it into the city, and it is so propagated by infection. One of my patients is dead, a little boy, afflicted with diarrhœa for three months. His father, in relating his death to me, spoke with a resignation which might be imitated, but could not be surpassed by a Christian. It is amazing how the thought of all-powerful and resistless destiny calms the mind, and tones it down to a speechless patience! My stock of drugs is fast going. It consisted originally of worm-powders, emetics (of which the Arabs and Moors are very fond), fever powders, purgative pills, Epsom salts, compound opium pills, Goulard powders, eye powders, sulphate of quinine pills, and solution of nitrate of silver. They were made up by Dr. Dickson, of Tripoli. I was surprised to find nothing for pectoral complaints. Many persons here are troubled with chronic diseases of this sort. Although administering medicines these eight days to some fifty persons or more, not one of them has offered me anything in turn. There are no guinea or five-guinea fees here. On the contrary, some have asked me for sugar and money before they could be persuaded to take the medicine. Such is the consolation of doing good. Verily the philosopher had it when he said, "Virtue must be loved for its own sake." Here I may mention[124] that the Commandant Omer of our caravan got into a great passion because I would not buy him a pair of shoes, and left for The Mountains, without coming to bid me good bye. He had had coffee and tea, and provisions always with me, en route, and I thought this enough. Unless the last favour or request is granted, all former favours are counted nothing.

3rd.—The morning opens cool and pleasant, and the heat begins gradually to leave us. People expect rain in ten days.

Another Touarick has come forward to offer to conduct me to Timbuctoo. He says now is the time to go, when it is hot the banditti do not infest the routes, for they find no water to drink. He offers to take me for five hundred dollars, which is to be deposited in the hands of the Sheikh Makouran, and is not to be paid until our safe return. He will allow me to stop a month or six weeks in the city of Timbuctoo. The distances of routes which he gives me, are the same as those on M. Carette's map, attached to his brochure on the commerce of The Desert. Of all the French writers who have recently written on Africa, M. Carette is most correct. Wrote down a vocabulary of Ghadamsee words from my turjeman's dictation. Whilst I was lamenting the little gratitude, or rather none, which the people showed for my medicines, an old man, to whose mother-in-law (he having married a woman forty years younger than himself, frequently the case here,) I gave some pills, brought me a melon, and said he should bring also some dates. I was conversing with a group at the time, and I took the opportunity of observing that doctors were paid amongst us. An upstart[125] man angrily replied:—"Yes, but we are the chosen people of God! you Infidels are bound to serve us in every way, and ought to be thankful that you are so honoured as to be the servants and slaves of The Moumeneen. You think you are clever, but your talents are not your own; your knowledge comes from God." These affronting words contain a common fanatic sentiment of Barbary. I made no reply.

Went at noon to visit the Arab suburb, and was a great curiosity amongst the women and children. Some of the little girls were frightened out of their wits, but the boys took up stones to pelt me. The suburb contains about five hundred souls; the houses are all miserable, and the people poor. A genuine Ghadamsee would not live here without being degraded: it is the St. Giles of the city. Went into a house, the walls of which were completely concealed beneath the covers for dishes and meats, bowls and calabashes, the greater part brought from Soudan. The people were dealers in them. Talking with the Rais about Soudan, he displayed the usual ignorance of Mussulmans, even in The Desert, of this country. It would take a person five years to travel through that vast country, many parts of which were populated by cannibals. We read of the Lemlems, Lamlams, and the Yemyems, as cannibals, somewhere in the neighbourhood of Zegzeg and Yakobah; but after conversing with several of the merchants who have scoured Soudan and Bornou, I have not found one who has seen these terrible cannibals. They have all heard of them. It appears to me to be an ancient tale of wonder to adorn the narratives of travellers.

This evening being that previous to the Ramadan, a[126] great outcry was made to see the moon. According to my Italian almanack it should be three days' old, the geographical position of the two countries may make a difference as to a sight of it. There is a little display of firing off pistols, chiefly by boys. A vast number of persons question me, as to whether I shall fast (soum) to-morrow; and a Touarick goes bolt up to the Governor, and says, to his Excellency, pointing to where I am sitting,—"Does this (man) fast?" His Excellency shakes his head and laughs gravely. To questions put direct to me, I answer, "a little." A boy says to me, "Why, how now, every body fasts, and you don't fast!" It is, however, prudent to avoid all these questions. I told some more liberal:—"The English eat and drink at all seasons that which is good; but some Christian nations occasionally fast." According to the Moslemite rite here observed, all under thirteen may eat during the Ramadan; but, other authorities tell me, all under eight. Those who travel are excused for the time being. The fast endures thirty days. Another patient brought me a few dates. In time I may alter my opinion of Ghadamsee gratitude. Some new patients, nearly all ophthalmia and diarrhœa.

Visited to-day the two wells, which serve a portion of the population, in addition to the great spring. It is surprising what an interest I take in water. It is to me like precious gold, and the most fine gold. One of these wells has better water than the central running spring. They are large wells, but do not run like the great spring: they are also only a little warm. In the winter they rise higher, showing some connexion with the rainy season in the rainy region. Two men were[127] employed in drawing water in a curious manner. The other buckets were not being worked. One end of the shaft is made very heavy, so as to assist in bringing up the water by over-balancing on a swivel; the other end, to which the cord and bucket is attached, is correspondingly light.

Manner of drawing Water from Wells

The houses of Ghadamsee are one, two, three, four, and even five stories high; the greater part three or four stories. The architecture is ordinarily Moorish, with some Saharan fantastic peculiarities. The public buildings offer nothing remarkable; even the mosques, in a place so devoted to religion, have no pretty minarets. There are four large mosques, viz.: Jemâ Kebir,—Tinghaseen,—Yerasen,—Eloweenah; and many smaller mosques and sanctuaries. The streets are all covered in and dark, (a peculiarity prevailing in many Saharan cities,) with here and there open spaces or little squares, of which there are several to let in the light of heaven. They are small and nar[128]row, and winding, not more than a couple of camels can pass abreast, the ceiling however being high enough to admit the entrance of the tall Maharee camel. A camel of this species entered to-day: it amazed me by its stupendous height; a person of average size might have walked under its belly. The principal streets and squares are lined with stone-benches, on which the people loungingly recline or stretch themselves. Both houses and streets are admirably adapted for the climate, protecting the inhabitants alike from the fiery glare of the summer's sun, and the keen blasts of the winter's cold. Before the Rais Mustapha's appointment, the city had, besides smaller and inner gates, four principal ones, viz., Bab-el-Manderah, Bab-esh-Shydah, Bab-el-Mishrah, and Bab-el-Bur ("gate of the country"), all of which, except the last on the south-west, are now closed, with respect to the entrance of goods and camels. The city is situate on the south-east side of the plantations of palms and gardens, not in the central part of the oasis. I asked the talebs the meaning of some of the names of the gates, but they could not tell. Many proper names of places and persons, amongst them as with us, have now no assignable meaning or derivation.


[20] Here we find The Sahara called fertile land; and, in fact, many parts of The Desert could be cultivated.

[21] See Surat liii., entitled "The Star."

[22] This complaint is not well founded, for afterwards I saw the Rais often receive presents of fruit, tobacco, sugar, and even wearing apparel.




Deathly stillness of the City on first morning of the Ramadan.—Rais weighing Gold.—The Gold Country.—Use of different Arabic terms in different Countries.—Insecurity of Merchants in The Desert.—Jews on the borders of The Sahara.—Sin not to Marry.—Wood in The Sahara.—Rais, a Marabout.—Sheikh of Slaves.—Complaints of the People to me.—Mr. Frederick Warrington.—M. Carette's brochure on Saharan Commerce.—Trait of Tolerance.—Growing reputation of Said.—Preach anti-Slavery Doctrines in the Street of Slaves.—Ignorance of the People on Geography.—Talismans in Africa.—The Queen of England's Physic.—Rais's Desert Politics.—Increase of Patients.—Gradual method of obtaining Information.—Visit from a Touarick.—Tripoline Merchants have the Money of those in Ghadames.—Indifference of Mussulmans in reading The Bible.


4th.Walked out this morning and found no one in the streets; every body was still in bed, or shut up in their houses, being the first day of the Ramadan. A paralysis of death seemed to have stricken the city. Had no morning patients for the same reason. Afterwards, the servants of the Rais came to visit me and found me taking coffee; they gaped with full (empty?) open mouths, as if wondering I was not choked. I asked them if the Rais would take his tea. "It's unlawful," they screamed, and ran away as if Old Nick were after them. Usually make tea for the Governor every morning, which I send him in a glass, and sometimes also for the Sheikh Makouran. I could not help thanking God that I was born a Protestant, and professed a religion not in violence to the physical requirements of human nature, nor in contradiction to the plain sense of[130] mankind. Man has evils enough to contend with, and to war against, without inflicting new and additional evils upon himself, like this most health-trying and health-destroying Ramadan. My turjeman confessed every body was mad in Ramadan. Whatever becomes of me in the deserts of Africa, I hope I shall have force of mind enough to maintain my religion intact.

I amused myself with thinking how the Desert-travelling might be considerably shortened. This could be effected by joining camels with horses through the routes. Horses could come easily from Tripoli to The Mountains in two days. The camels could undertake the journey from The Mountains to Seenawan in three or four days. Horses then could again accomplish the rest in two days. In all, seven days. Were Europeans in possession of this country, horses and mules would soon take the place of camels, for all quick travelling. Putting aside horses, by the use of the maharee, or fleet-camel, the journey for post could be reduced nearly half. All the Moors and Arabs dissuade me against going to Timbuctoo, assuring me that the Touaricks will cut my throat; but I begin to feel my opinion changing as to the Touaricks. I am sure, if a friend can be made of a brave man of this nation, there is no danger. Am glad, however, people manifest some sympathy with my travelling projects; what I want to do is, to effect some real discovery, or do something great in Africa. Ghadames is not enough, nor even Bornou; it is, must be, Timbuctoo. Yet a man must not put his head into the fire and then call upon God to quench the flames. Met Sheikh Makouran in the street, and brought him home to my house in order that he might give me a more detailed account[131] of the finances of Ghadames. Notwithstanding that the Turks overturn and ruin commerce by restrictions, they poorly protect the merchants. The Sheikh complained to me of several losses. During the last two years four ghafalahs had been plundered on different routes, by which he lost considerable sums. Other merchants lost property in proportion. He considered Ghadames, from various causes, fast approaching its ruin. Our conversation then turned to the New World, America. He was quite astonished at my description of it, and asked if any Mohammedans were there. We then came to the traffic in slaves. He did not see why men should not be sold like camels and asses, if such was the law of God. "All," he observed, "depended upon the will of the Creator of all beings."

The Rais is a very religious man, and I'm cautious what I say. At noon, paid him a visit, and said, "Why, all the people are dead to day." He replied, "It's only for one day." I never saw a poor devil look so comfortless. He is an inveterate, eternal smoker, like all who boast to be of the same nation as the Imperial Osmanlis, the pipe is never out of his mouth; he therefore suffers more than any person in Ghadames. He was still busy, or affected to be, to kill time, weighing gold with his servants. I said, "Is there much gold in the country?" "Less and less every year," was the reply. Many caravans go by way of Mourzuk, not coming this way. The servant held up the little bags, showing that the gold, not more than two or three ounces, belonged to four persons. When gold is brought over The Desert, it is tied up in little dirty filthy bits of rags, first twisted round where it opens, and then[132] tied. These are carried on the person, in the bosom or the turban.

When a caravan is attacked and the people rifled, all these little bags of rags, whether containing gold, or salt, pepper, essences, or what not, are scrupulously cut open by the brigands. The gold brought to Ghadames consists chiefly of women's ear-rings, hoop and drop ear-rings. Some of the drops are hollow and contain little matters which rattle, and perfumed with small quantities of atar, or of zebed, (civet). The workmanship is rude and clumsy, but the gold is of the finest quality, though small and unpolished, something as the Malta gold is worked. The Rais collects the gold from those who cannot pay in the current coin. The gold country of the merchants is not very distinctly understood by them. Some say it is fouk, "above," Timbuctoo, others beyond Jinnee and Bambara, about three months from Timbuctoo, in a south-west direction. The country is called Mellee, which includes many large districts and provinces, but the particular district is Furra. This is a flat and sandy place, "not a stone," say the merchants, "is to be seen." The mines of Furra, if such they may be called, are sold by auction, and the lot of land is a lot of fortune, some plots producing nothing, others gold in abundance. When the gold arrives at Timbuctoo, it is converted into women's ornaments, mostly ear-rings. I have seen very few bags of gold-dust or bars. There are no camel-caravans from Timbuctoo to Mellee and Furra; people go in small parties on horses and asses; some go alone on foot. Foot-travelling is very common in Central Africa; and these pedestrian merchants or pedlars will make journeys of three and four months. A merchant[133] is obliged to remain some time before he can buy up any quantity of gold; it is brought in such small quantities, and the trade in gold is declining, and has been so for twenty years past. It is probable the merchants take more of it now to the western coast and its European factories. Certainly that route is safer than bringing it north, over several months' journey of Desert.

The Rais is a most diligent servant of Government. One cannot help observing, however, that the whole scope and end of governing with the Osmanlis is—money. Of the people, their protection and improvement, they rarely ever think. As the Rais is now busy in making every body book up, some people asked me if there was much money in Tripoli? I told them I did not think there was any money left. "The Pasha has plenty," cried one. I took the trouble of explaining the new system, that each functionary had a salary, granted by the Sultan, from the highest to the lowest, and the Deftadar, after paying each his salary, sent the rest of the money to Constantinople, where (as the Rais himself said) it was "poured away as water." Perhaps this was speaking too freely, but the Moslemites at times speak uncommonly free and bold for despotic governments. The Bey of Tunis has often been menaced with hell-fire by the Arabs, when they pleaded before him in the hall of judgment, swearing, that if he did not deal to them justice, God would deal to him vengeance.

The use of different terms is very curious in travelling through North Africa, and each country has its peculiar Arabic word, the words being all more or less classical. Perhaps no word is so much used in Ghadames and The Mountains as the epithet batel—‮باطل‬—"vain, useless,"[134] &c., and really answers in its use to something like our tremendous "Humbug." It especially denotes everything bad, false, and wrong, in any matter and in any body. On the contrary, for the opposite epithet, various terms are used, "maleah," "tayeb," and "zain," which latter term always means pretty, as well as good. The polite Ghadamseeah are very fond of zain; but it should properly apply to pretty women. The people use the term ‮شهر‬ "month," for moon, instead of ‮قمر‬. The ‮ق‬ is not distinguished in pronunciation from ‮غ‬, and I have not attempted it in writing. Indeed, I shall avoid as much as possible distinctions which the generality of readers cannot understand.

Only one of my patients came to-day, the little blind boy. The Rais sent me in the evening a fine dish and soup, on occasion of the night of the first day's fasting. The people kept to-night as an âyed or feast. A Touarick took Said, my servant, aside, and whispered mysteriously in his ear,—"Has the Christian fasted to-day?" Speaking to a liberal Moor, I told him the fast was bătāl, inasmuch as the Mussulmans ate all night and slept the greater portion of the day, making things equal; that to fast really, as some Christians did, was to eat nothing, night or day. At the time I added, "I am not such a fool as to increase the miseries of this life by fasting when I can get anything to eat." The fellow, laughing, observed, "You English are right." I see the fast is nearly universal, old and young, rich and poor, high and low, all fast. They mix with it strong religious feelings, and I dare say fanaticism, a quality rarely apart from the purest religious sentiment. Still continue our conversations on Timbuctoo. Most of the old respect[135]able merchants have been to Timbuctoo. One of them, Haj Mansour, resided there fourteen years, carrying on a prosperous trade. But so perverse and unstable are human affairs, that, on returning home after so long an exile, with thirty camels laden with the riches of the interior, and with much fine gold, and whilst within a few days of Touat, the banditti of The Desert fell upon him and carried off everything, not leaving a water-skin to quench his thirst! Had he not been near Touat, he would have perished in The Desert. The Haj is quite black, though his features are not Negro. He is now an old gentleman of upwards of seventy, and yet very active. His family is immense; what with women, and girls, and sons, and grandsons, it musters some thirty souls. He told me with bitterness, as if it had been the case with himself, the merchants were often their own enemies, they were so parsimonious that they would not hire a sufficient escort of Touaricks, and so left defenceless in The Desert many were plundered and ruined irretrievably. The greatest misfortune in travelling through the country of the Touaricks is, their chiefs have not sufficient power to control the people, and for whose actions they will not always be responsible. One day you may meet with the best of men amongst the Touaricks, the next day with a band of robbers; such is the uncertainty and insecurity of The Desert.

5th.—It would be a good project at least, and might be attended with incalculable benefit, in promoting Christianity and civilization in Africa, were portions of The Scriptures translated into Touarick, with the native Touarick characters. Their vanity would be so exceedingly excited that it would be almost impossible for them[136] to refuse reading a book written in their own dear characters. All can read their own characters, but very few the Arabic. It is not a little surprising, if I am to believe what I hear, that the Touaricks, with all their savage boldness—whose home is The Desert—will not venture on a journey to Tripoli. Many, many times have they been persuaded and pressed by the coast merchants, but they have always set their faces against the journey. Perhaps they think (as some, indeed, hinted to me) the Pasha would keep them prisoners, and not let them return until they had delivered up some of their districts to his authority. Whatever the motive, it is strange that men, who wander through all parts of Central Africa, cannot be prevailed upon to visit Tripoli. I have heard but of one exception.

It is pleasant to witness the least sign of improvement in a people who are commonly condemned by their own habits, their religion, and the opinions of Europeans, to a retrograde or eternally stationary existence. I was much pleased to observe in one of the small squares of the city a tree recently planted, (the tout[23], a species of small white mulberry,) which promises to afford not only a grateful shade to repose under in summer's burning heat, but is in itself a pretty ornament. The great fault of the Africans is want of forethought, or impatience of the future. Their maxim is, to enjoy the present, to take no thought for the morrow, but let the morrow provide for itself. Like all rude and unlettered people, the precepts of religion are interpreted in their strictest literality. To-day, I find more people in the streets,[137] and the Ramadan is not so visible in their faces as I expected it would be. The fact is, the generality of the Saharan inhabitants, and especially the poor Arabs eat but once, or make but one meal a day, and this in the evening; so, in reality, as far as eating is concerned, the Ramadan is no Ramadan with them. Saw the Rais, he is better than yesterday. His Excellency called me a simpleton for talking with the Touaricks about going to Timbuctoo; nevertheless, I feel as if I should like to go the whole-hog—Timbuctoo, or nothing. The future will tell! His Excellency, however, observed, that the Touaricks of Touat had nearly destroyed all the banditti on the route of Timbuctoo. It is the interest of the Touaricks to keep the routes free that they may have the advantage of the visits and escorting of caravans.

One of the peculiarities of Ghadames is that there is no Jew resident in the city. It is strange that a people of such a commercial genius as the Israelites should never have had courage to undertake an enterprize over The Great Desert, whilst they have crept all around it. In Tunis they are scattered throughout the Jereed; in Algeria they are established at the oases of Souf and Mezab; in Morocco we find them at Sous and Wadnoun; and in Tripoli they are located in nearly every town of the coast, whilst a few visit The Mountains. But, to the credit of the Jews and their mercantile genius, it is not their fault. The fanaticism of the Ghadamsee people would be strongly opposed to their residence here, more so than against Christians; it is enough to support the overbearing Christian kafer, without the pollution of the weak miserable Jew in their holy city, for the force[138] principle makes the Mohammedans respect the Christians. The weak are despised, the strong respected. I might, however, have made the experiment of bringing a Jewish servant here: one sadly wanted to come with me. Still a traveller should not unnecessarily increase his difficulties, and excite the prejudices of the people amongst whom he resides, mostly by sufferance. It is probable also the mercantile jealousy of the people would be excited against the Jews. Afterwards I learnt that two Barbary Jews went either to Bornou or Soudan, in the year 1844, and returned safe. Unfortunately this species of Jew can add nothing to our stock of geographical knowledge beyond what we may get from the Arabs and Moors themselves; his ideas of nature and science are all the same, with the exception of a few religious dogmas, and a strong national bias. The visit of these two Jews to Bornou excited no attention in Tripoli. Along the line of The Desert the Jews help commerce. They are great ostrich-feather merchants in Southern Morocco. Some have said they go to Timbuctoo, but this report is not authenticated. In Souf they greatly assist the Arabs in the exchange of their products. About twenty families are established amongst the Souāfah, in the greatest security of life and property. The Jews here dress like the Arabs, and are not easily distinguishable from them. In most of the interior districts they have the privilege of dressing like the rest of the people.

The Rais is an old bachelor, like myself. He seems to live very wretchedly without a wife. The good Mussulmans, who think it a sin to live unmarried, excuse him because his residence in different parts of the regency[139] is uncertain, and he tells them he cannot lead about a wife. The only object of affection of this bachelor is a parrot, which speaks pure Housa lingo, and is very angry at the gruff tones of the Touraghee language, always scolding the Touaricks when they speak.

My Marabout camel-driver once had an interesting conversation with me about a plurality of wives:—

"It is not right to have more wives than one, because men and women are nearly equally in numbers, and if one man has two wives another man must go without even one."

The Marabout.—"Oh, if a man has money, he may have two, or three, or four?"

"That is not a good religion which gives four wives to one man because he has money, and leaves another man without any because he has no money, or not so much money as his neighbour."

The Marabout.—"So it is," (as if convinced of the reasonableness of the thing).

"Why has such an old man as Sheikh Makouran two young wives? This is against nature."

The Marabout.—"He plays; his time of work is past."

I believe this unequal distribution of the women is a great check on population. It prevails to a greater extent amongst the Negro tribes. I am not of opinion that Central Africa is populous. I saw nowhere any populous districts myself.

The wood used in the construction of buildings is that of the date-tree, which, apparently, grows stronger and tougher with age. Of this all the doors of the houses and the lighter works are made. Wood for fireing is brought in from The Sahara, but from a great distance.[140] It is sold for three Tunisian piastres the camel-load. It is the common brush-wood, underwood, or scrub of The Desert, and is excessively dry, for withered and dead trees or shrubs are gathered. In seasons of rain The Sahara creates this wood quickly, it then perishes for want of rain. Sometimes wood for building is brought from Tripoli, i. e., deal-boards. Our caravan brought some doors for a mosque, made of deal.

This evening was a grand celebration of divine worship in the house of the Rais, and a Marabout chanted verses from the Koran. His Excellency certainly gains the respect, if not the affections, of the pious. He is often said by the people to be a man who "fears God." I sat near the door listening. A fellow said to me, "You must sit farther off whilst the people are praying, it is unlawful to sit where you are." I took no notice of his impertinence. The Rais sent me yesterday, as the evening before, a very good supper. Being Ramadan, I stopped up till midnight talking politics with him. He is a native of a province, near Circassia, fallen under the iron rule of Muskou (the Russians). Having been in the Syrian campaign he was enabled to see the feeding of the English soldiers and sailors, which quite astonished him. He observed, "The Emperor of Russia will never have good troops, he scarcely gives them anything to eat. It is not surprising they desert to the Circassians." The Rais has a great dread of the Russians absorbing the Ottoman empire: it is not an unreasonable dread.

6th.—My turjeman complains that neither he nor the people can pay their excessive taxes; they must all be soon ruined. Yet a couple of thousand pounds per annum is nothing for a commercial city like this. He[141] says, "If we were to cultivate our gardens, we should have more; but then the Turks would demand more, so our spirits are broken, and we are eaten up. We have no heart to work for our oppressors." Continue to read the Arabic New Testament, which aids me in colloquial disquisitions with the people. The Ghadamsee people persist in not taking medicines during the fast. One told me, "Even if a man dies, and medicine could save him, he must not take it." I have therefore fewer patients during the inexorable Ramadan. But I save my tea and coffee—"An ill wind blows, &c." The Rais, however, gets his tea in the evening. It is remarkable with what willingness, and without any sort of prejudice, several of the people offer me information. Even when refused, I always find it arises from indolence to narrate it. They are not afraid that I am collecting information to supply the English Government with the means of invading their country, like some Moors in Barbary. They look upon the thing just as it is,—that I am writing a book about their country to amuse Christians.

The Sheikh of the slaves came in, with several Ghadamsee youths:—

"The Governor says, you are not the Sheikh; he is the Sheikh."

"So, does he say?"

(The Youths.—"But the Sheikh is the Sheikh.")

"I am," says the Sheikh, "from Timbuctoo; all the people are Mohammedans, and fast. Do you fast?"

I.—"I eat and drink what is good at all times, even wild-boar."

The Sheikh and Youths.—"Oh, wonderful!"

They.—"You write Arabic?"[142]

I wrote that God was one.

They.—"And write Mahomet was the Prophet of God?"

I wrote Mahomet was the Prophet of the Arabs and the Touaricks?

The Sheikh.—"Ah, ah, I see, I see, you're very cunning."

The Youths.—"Who is your Prophet?"

I.—"Aysa (Jesus)."

The Youths.—"Have you any books of your Prophet?"

I.—"Yes, here is one:" (Giving them the New Testament.)

They.—"Oh, see, let us read it, let us take it home."

I.—"No; if you were men, yes. But if I allow you to read it, or read it to you, your Bey and the people will be offended with me, and send me out of the city. When you go to Tripoli, you can see and read the Christian books."

I was surprised that a well-informed man like the Sheikh Makouran should ask me whether the Emperor of Morocco was also Emperor of Fez, and whether Morocco was a large country. "Ghat," says the Rais, "like all the Touarick countries, is a republic. All the people govern." Walked out this evening for the first time to-day. The people are vehement in their complaints against the oppressions of the Turks: "All the wealth of the country is dried up, and the merchants are all running away. We are ruined unless the English save us."

It has been very hot and sultry to-day. Not a breath of air. The sky overcast—a profound, deathlike tranquillity sleeping over the environs! The Rais sent supper as usual. After visiting him, he had a fit of[143] writing, and wrote for the courier all night. Thank God, there are no gnats in Ghadames. I have not seen nor felt any. It is probably owing to the absence of nono water, stagnating here, all being absorbed in the dry earth of the gardens.

7th.—Read eight chapters of the Arabic Testament. Some of the phrases very strangely rendered into Arabic. The Moors cannot understand them. My Testament wants some verses: it is the ordinary Arabic Bible circulated by The Bible Society. There is no good translation of The Scriptures into Arabic, from what I have been able to learn. Continue to think all day long and dream of Timbuctoo. Had a conversation with the Touaricks about a journey there. The difficulty is, the strongest Touarick escort practicable cannot always pass through the Touarick districts, there being such a great variety of tribes. It is the quarrels of the Touaricks themselves, and not our not being able to trust them individually, which renders the route so dangerous.

Slave-dealing is so completely engendered in the minds of the Ghadamsee merchants, that they cannot conceive how it can be wrong. A young man wrote me down the objects (very few) of exportation from Soudan, and in the following order, viz., "Cottons, elephants' teeth, bekhour (perfume), wax, slaves, bullocks' skins, red skins, feathers, (of the ostrich)." Human beings are just summed up with the rest as an article of commerce, as a matter of course, in the most mercantile style.

It will be next to impossible to propagate anti-slavery notions in Central Africa, supported as slavery is[144] by commerce and religion. We can only say, "With God nothing is impossible."

All the people bring their griefs and malcontentments to me. It's not so pleasant to be bored by them, let alone the policy of my listening to all they have to say. But the ill humour of these poor fleeced people must have a vent, or sfogo, as the Italians term it, and what can I do? An intelligent merchant came to me. "Yâkob, bisslamah, (how do you fare?) The Rais is always collecting money, don't you see? That's the business of the Turks. This city is 4000 years of age. It flourished before Pharaoh, in the time of Nimrod. Now the Turks come to destroy it; their business is to destroy; such is the will of God." I might elaborate the idea. The genius of the Turks is to destroy. The hand of the Turk blasts as mildew everything it touches; it has destroyed the fairest portions of the earth. Happily, however, it so destroys itself, for it is not desirable for truth and civilization that the sway of the Osmanlis should be restored to its pristine strength.

Among the most friendly people to me in Ghadames are the Arab soldiers. Now, whilst I write, not less than twenty of these poor fellows are lying around my door, and in the skeefah (entrance-passage or room) of my house. They tell me always, my house is their house, and their mountains my mountains. They all speak in the highest terms of Mr. Frederick Warrington, son of Colonel Warrington, whom they call Fredreek. They consider him as one of themselves, and so he is as to habits, manners, and language, and frequently dress. When they quarrel in Tripoli, the ultima ratio, or dernier ressort, is not to go to the Pasha, but Nimshee lel[145] Fredreek, "Let us go to Frederick!" This is "the settler." It has often been said amongst the Consular corps of Tripoli, that, in case Great Britain thought it expedient to assume the Protectorate of Tripoli, Frederick Warrington would be their man, the instrument of revolution. There is not a single Arab in the Regency but what would flock to his standard. He has been all his lifetime in Tripoli.

M. Carette, in his brochure of the Commerce of Central Africa, says, "Timbaktou, Kânou, et Noufi sont les trois marchés principaux du pays des Noirs. Les voyageurs du Nord ne parlent pas du Niger; c'est une limite qu'ils ne franchissent pas; ils paraissent n'avoir aucunes relations avec les populations Mandingues de la rive droite:" (p. 26). This is inexact. The merchants do speak of the Niger frequently to me, calling it the Wady Neel, thinking, and which is a very ancient opinion, that it is a continuation of the Nile of Egypt. They also visit the opposite shores or banks of the Mandingoes. Some of them go to Noufi, as M. Carette admits; on my leaving for Ghat, a merchant going to Noufi was my fellow traveller, and promised to accompany me there. Here Mr. Becroft has recently, from the south-east, ascending the Niger, shaken hands with the merchants of the north. An old slave, a native of Sansandee (or Sinsindee ‮سنسندي‬) says of the Niger, "The river is like the sea of Tripoli and all sweet" (water.)

The Sheikh Makouran does not approve of my Timbuctoo ideas. Says the city is always in an uproar with the Touaricks, who are robbers and not like the Touaricks of Touat. Walked through the town at noon, and met Essnousee, had not seen him for some time, and wondered[146] what had become of him. He was very friendly, and wanted to bring me lemonade in the street. But as there was a large concourse of people present, all fasting, poor devils, at this time of the day; I thought common decency required me to go with him to his house. I waited in a dark corner close by his door, and here I quaffed the forbidden draught in the high-noon of the Fast. He smiled at me when I finished, and said, "Well done, Yâkob." He gave me also a fine melon to bring home with me. I considered this feat of drinking lemonade, under the circumstance related, a remarkable trait of tolerance. People usually put into their lemonade pieces of rag steeped in lemon-juice and dried; in this way the juice is preserved from evaporation. Essnousee had just lost his wife. "Have you any other wives?" I said. "Oh yes," he replied, "one here and one in Ghat." Many of the merchants, like the roving tar who has a sweetheart at every port, have a wife at every city of The Desert and Soudan where they trade. Several of the children now in Ghadames were born either in Timbuctoo or Soudan.

8th.—Few patients on account of the Ramadan. Weather extremely sultry. People bear the fast remarkably well, and with good humour enough. The Rais persists in sending me supper though I would rather he did not. After mass and chanting prayers in the evening, his Excellency holds a court. He abused the Sultan of Constantinople and called him an ass for spending his money like a fool, and this license before all the people! Smoking, drinking coffee, talking, and writing for the courier, all together, so his Excellency passes his Ramadan evenings. Said, my negro servant, is becoming as great[147] a man as his master in Ghadames. He receives visits from all the slaves of the city, as well as the free negroes. Being slaves, I am very indulgent, and sometimes they stop all day with him. The slaves of the Touaricks also come. Said manages to talk with them all in all languages. I see there is a sort of free-masonry amongst negroes, and they all (which is greatly to their credit) stick close to one another, and take one another's part. Said is impatient about his âtka, or freedom ticket. He said to me to-day—

"Oh, Sidi, where's my âtka? The people will steal me and sell me again."

"No, Said," I replied, "have patience, if they steal you, they must steal me also."

Visited with Said to-day "the Street of Slaves." This is a little dark street appropriated for the rendezvous of the slaves in my part of the city, where they enjoy the cool of the evening and chat together. I squatted down to chat amongst them, which awakened their curiosity.

"Who's that naked boy there?"

They.—"The Touaricks brought him from Bornou."

"What are they going to do with him?"

They.—"The Touaricks will send him to Tripoli, and sell him; will you buy him?"

"No, no; if I buy him, my sultan will put me in prison."

(They, one to the other.—"Do you believe him?")

"The English had many slaves, but gave them all the âtka; and soon, please God, they will destroy slavery in all the world."[148]

They.—"Ah, ah," (laughing), "that's right; we wish to have the âtka."

I found some were from Soudan, others from Timbuctoo, the greater part from Bornou. About a score of them were present; their greatest delight was in exchanging their various lingos. When they heard I was going to Kanou, one jumped up like a fury, saying, "Oh, I must send something to my mother." This was a poor grey-headed wrinkled-faced old man! His poor mother, alas! may have been long ago whipped to death upon the cotton plantations of South Carolina, where the blood of the slave is poured out to fertilize the fields of pampered republicans, and give tongue to the braggadocio of the free sons of the Model-Republic!

To-day, saw three swallows in a garden for the first time at Ghadames. They darted over the heads and through the foliage of the graceful palms, performing sweet eccentric circles. To me, they were winged messengers from the fair bowers and silvery brooks of Paradise.

To give an idea of the general ignorance of the Ghadamsee people on European geography, I have only to record a part of a conversation with them.

They.—"Where's your country; is it near Rome?"

"No; further to the west and north."

They.—"Did not the English spring from the Arabs?"

"No; the English are from the north, a colder country; the Arabs are from a hot country."

They.—"Are the Greeks like the English? and is their country near yours?"

"No; they are farther from us than Rome itself."[149]

They.—"Do the English fast?"

"Sometimes; but when they fast they don't eat in the night time, like you; they fast day and night."

They.—"That's not good; that's not right. Do you fast?"

"Never, thank God."

The people bother my life out about fasting. Two young Touarick women came to me—

"Thou Christian! dost thou fast?" (they having never seen a person before who did not fast).

"No; the Christians don't fast."

The girls.—"Don't the Christians know God?"

"Yes, they know God."

The girls.—"No, they don't, for they don't say Mahomet is the prophet of God."

The sum of religion amongst many of the wild tribes, is the formula of Mahomet being the prophet of God—fasting and circumcision. Many of the Touaricks, however, will not fast, or fast with difficulty, it involving the cessation of smoking, of which they are passionately fond. A Touarick, who was accustomed to visit Mr. Gagliuffi at Mourzuk, ridiculed the Ramadan, and called those who fasted, fools. He would squat down in Mr. Gagliuffi's house, and take out his pipe at midday, and say, "Come, Consul, let's have a drink of the pipe. These people who fast all day are asses." Other Touaricks, more scrupulous, always set out on a journey during Ramadan, in order to have the relaxation permitted by the law.

The Rais is deeply engaged in petty finance, some quite mites, to make up the accounts for Tripoli. Whilst seated near his Excellency, a big lout of a fellow was[150] brought up, charged with beating a little urchin, who was present to substantiate the charge. The Rais, after gravely hearing the case, had the big clown turned round with his hands tied behind him, and then told the little rogue aggrieved to lay it into him as hard as he could with his fists clenched. The little imp, who looked as wicked as imp could be, instantly gave the broad back of the great fellow half a dozen strokes. Hereupon all the bystanders, and the officers of his Excellency, burst into a fit of tremendous laughter, and the big coward was allowed to escape, sneaking off like a dog with his tail between his legs. The Rais came up to me smiling with great self-complacency, and said—"Well, isn't that the way to administer justice?" I then astonished the hangers-on of his Excellency's Court, by relating to them some account of the expeditions to the North Pole. They asked me whether any Mussulmans were there, and how they could fast when the sun did not set? Several said I merely invented the account to amuse them. In this case, and also in that of the precepts of the Mosaic Institute, we see the inconvenience of making the precepts of religion depend on local and physical circumstances.

I have seen little urchins in Italy, before the flaming wax-light altars, drink in with their mother's milk the virus of Popery, but I never witnessed a stronger case of infantile prejudice than to-day. A child of less than three years old came running out of a by-street (apparently no person being near it), and called after me, Kafer, kafer, "Infidel, infidel"! and spat at me in the bargain like a little toad.

Noon.—I met with a fellow, a sort of swaggering[151] cheap-jack penny-a-liner, who swore that there was no man so learned as himself in all Ghadames, and that he would teach me the history of Ghadames, and all the world, for money. He then followed me home, asked me for my journal, and wrote in it five lines of Arabic poetry. Meanwhile I poured him out a cup of tea, putting a large lump of sugar in it. When he had finished his five lines, which he did without being asked, he impudently demanded a dollar for his trouble. I told some Arabs who were present to turn him out of the house. He decamped, but not before giving us his blessing—"The curse of God be upon you Arab dogs, and the Christian dog."

Awfully hot to-day. The hottest day since my residence in Ghadames. Yet, strange to say, when shut up in my room, I feel very little of it. My house is only one story high; there is only a single roof between me and this sun of fire—a strong proof of how little is necessary to protect you from the heats of The Sahara. Late at night, when sitting with the Rais, he amused me with pulling off his greegrees or talismans. As he pulled off each he kissed it devoutly, and laid it by gently on his papers. He wears one round his arm in the shape of an armlet, and three round his neck, two suspended with separate ribbons, and one with a silver chain. As he kissed each, he put it to his eyes, rubbing it over the eyelid. I am sadly afraid his charms obtain all the credit of my solution of nitrate of silver. Be it so; it is hard to cure men of this sort of folly, at best a most unwished, unrequited labour[24]. I always tell the[152] Ghadamsee people the medicine I distribute neither belongs to me, nor to the English Consul at Tripoli, but to the Queen of England, and which, I have observed, heightens its value in their eyes. Douwa min, ând Sultana Ingleeza, ("physic from the English Sultana",) is a sort of royal talisman which helps the medicine down as a bit of sugar taken with a child's draught.

10th.—The women brought several little children, all ailing, but could do very little for them. Occupied writing most of the day. Spent the evening with the Rais. His Excellency is very fond of politics: "The Touaricks number more than two hundred thousand souls. They are dispersed over all The Desert. The Sahara is not so difficult to occupy as some think; it can be more easily conquered than the mountainous districts. The country is more open. The only difficulty is the wells. But in winter, the time when military expeditions are undertaken, there is water on the line of most of the grand routes, and camels can supply a large body of compact troops, where there are no wells. At the different wells small forts could be built, like that I am building at Emjezzem, which forts the Touaricks would never dare approach. The wells once in possession of the invading force, it would be impossible for any considerable body of Arabs or Touaricks to follow up or after their steps. Twenty thousand men could occupy, in detachments, the greater part of The Sahara. The French will go to Touat one day, not yet!" But[153] the Rais never spoke much against the French. He often said, "I wish the French would exterminate the Shânbah banditti, the Sultan would applaud them for it. I pray God the French will destroy these robbers."

Continue to agitate the question of a tour farther into the interior. Have almost determined to pursue the route of Ghat, and accompany the ghafalah of the Ghadamsee merchants. This route has two advantages for me—I shall be safe with my old friends the merchants, and the route has never before been trodden by an European traveller. The routes of Bornou and Timbuctoo have been travelled by Europeans, though some of the parties have never returned. One thing is certain—unless I go to the first-hand traffickers in human flesh—to the heart of Africa itself, I can never get the information which I require. Am told I can defray the expense of the whole journey from here to Kanou and back, (exclusive of presents), for about fifty pounds sterling, but it must be with economy. Afterwards saw several merchants again on the question, felt discouraged, and my faith shook in the Ghat route. They think the best route for me Bornou, thence I may proceed to Kanou, and perhaps even to Timbuctoo. It is astonishing how everybody's opinion varies; the majority, nevertheless, are in favour of the Bornou route for me. Probably they are afraid of the responsibility of escorting me through the Touarick districts. Determined a day or two after to go to Kanou viâ Ghat and Aheer. Cannot see any danger if I stick close to the Ghadamsee merchants. A young merchant said to me, "Yâcob, we are not jealous of you, for you are not a merchant. You can draw your money, and get it ready. The[154] ghafalah will be cheap for you, for no escort will be required. You can go without your Consul, or the Pasha, or the Rais."

The wind continues hot to-day; the ghiblee is getting more suffocating and intense. Everything is drooping and the poor emaciated fasters are dying with thirst. The air is as the small still breath of the furnace when its heat is at the greatest intensity, without flame or smoke.

11th.—Every day, in spite of the Ramadan, brings an increase of patients. In time there will not be a single inhabitant of Ghadames who has not been physicked by my quackery. I notice my negro servant Said is gradually expanding into a full-blown reputation, of which he is very proud. The Mussulmans pay him almost more deference than myself, and I ought to be jealous. It is the plan in these countries to influence the masters through the servants; so whenever anything is to be obtained, the masters are not spoken to, but the servants, which latter are feed and bribed until the object is obtained. Preached anti-slavery and anti-Ramadan doctrines to Berka, the liberated slave of Sheikh Makouran. The poor fellow confessed it was better to eat and drink in the Ramadan, and not steal men and sell them as slaves, than to fast in the Ramadan, and steal men and sell them. The old lad has great influence amongst the slaves of Ghadames, being their senior, and the liberated slave of one of the most respectable men of the country. He went and preached in turn to the slaves my anti-slavery and anti-fast principles.

It may be observed here, that information can only be obtained bit by bit, here a little and there a little; and[155] it is absolutely necessary to note everything down immediately if you would not forget it, at least if you would be correct. The Moors and Arabs have no patience, beyond a few minutes, in giving information, unless it be something where their own interests are deeply concerned. My scattered notes must then be compared one with another to arrive at a proper idea of the objects respecting which they treat. Some notes will necessarily correct others.

A Touarick came in whilst I was eating my dinner this evening, about half an hour before sun-set. I was sitting in the patio, or open court of my house. The Touarick, standing erect before me, with a long spear in his right hand, and extending his left towards the sky, looked up, and then, with an air of imposing solemnity, uttered these words in a measured, solemn tone: "And—thou—Christian—thou fastest—thus! Thy father—knoweth—not—God! Thou art a Kafer—he is a Kafer—and the fire[25] at last will eat you both up!" Turning round, and looking up to this prophet-like denunciator, I said, smiling: "Why, how now? you Mussulmans fast, and think you are righteous; but whether is it better to eat and drink on the Ramadan, for which God cares nothing, or fast in the Ramadan, and go afterwards and steal or buy men and women and little children, like your little son there, and take them to Tripoli, and sell them like donkeys and camels? This is forbidden to us English—this is our religion, not to steal and sell men, but to eat and drink in the Ramadan is not forbidden to us." After this answer, which I had some difficulty in making him comprehend, the fellow stood[156] speechless, completely staggered. I continued to eat my dinner with a good appetite, notwithstanding his threatening position and silence. God knows what was passing through his mind. After a long pause he receded back a few steps, and then quietly squatted down. He then got up again, and said, "Have you any medicines for my mother in Ghat?" I told him to come to-morrow, and I would give him some.

Rais occupied as usual this morning with collecting money. He avows with exasperation that the people have deposited all their money in the hands of a few merchants of Tripoli, who are under the protection of the Consuls. He was writing teskeras to obtain money from those Tripoli merchants. "The Pasha," he added, "gets no benefit from these deposits, nor the people. The Tripoli merchants are lying, bloodsucking Jews." Did not go out again till the evening; occupied in copying a long letter for The Times. My sugar and tea go very fast. Do not know what I should have done unless the Ramadan had interposed to save these luxuries of The Desert. It is surprising how rigid the fast is kept. Not a soul in the city of the proper age who does not fast.

12th.—Weather continues very sultry. The wind has scarcely changed for a month, always south. To-day I ate camel's flesh for the first time, but did not like it much; it depends, however, upon the part you eat, as also upon the camel itself, whether young or old, or in a good condition. The camel is usually killed when past work, and very lean and poor. The people call camels' flesh their beef; it does serve as a substitute for bullocks' flesh, no bullocks being killed here. The whole[157] carcase was immediately sold as soon as exposed in the Souk.

13th.—Wrote this evening to the Governor of Ghat, to tell him I wished to come to Ghat, and begged for his protection; and that I should be obliged if he could send some trusty person to fetch me, whose expenses I would pay. Wrote also letters to go by courier to Tripoli.

14th.—Weather continues hot. My taleb calls the season khareef, "autumn;" and says the fruits of heaven which are always ripe have nevertheless a peculiar ripeness at this period. Staring at him, he continued, "Yes, there is a greater correspondence between earth and heaven than people think." I was recommended this taleb by the Rais. He writes my Arabic letters for The Desert; he calls himself Mohammed Ben Mousa Bel Kasem. The reader will hear now a great deal about him, and his learning and character. He takes up my Arabic Bible now and then, and reads a verse or two; but it is astonishing how little effect, even in the way of curiosity, it produces on the mind of these Mussulmans. One would think at least they would like to know something of its contents. Notwithstanding, The Book, which contains the religion of the civilized world, hardly excites curiosity enough in them to take it up and read a single verse! I have often offered it to them to read, but they have refused to open the book. A great disadvantage is the crabbed, miserable language into which it is translated. After the bold, impudent, and sublime language of the Koran, they cannot relish the tame and stunted language of the Arabic New Testament. As for the simple and grand truths of the New Testament, these[158] they cannot or will not comprehend. Force, or the Sword—as the Might of the Almighty—is the thing alone which strikes the minds of Mussulmans, in spite of all their moral maxims and philosophy. But I must confess I never expected that a religion like that of the Koran, which contains so few fundamental truths, and so few mysteries, would have produced such a race of superstitious pharisees. To-day a fellow, whose eyes are dreadfully inflamed with ophthalmia, refuses to have them doctored, because the solution administered to the eye may enter the stomach, by which he would violate the sanctity of the Ramadan. I can only beg him to come at night. Another jackanapes, who suffers equally, refuses to have my solution at all applied. He said to me, "I suffer, and I may be blind, but it will be the will of God." I wonder the whole population is not blind. Another sufferer craved a talisman to drink with water at night[26].


[23] Tut, "Morus alba," L. It is pleasant and sweet, but a little insipid eating.

[24] Whether the Rais brought his superstitious reverence for amulets from Turkey or not I cannot tell, or acquired the notion here. But the superstition seems merely to have changed place with the Fetisch amongst the Negro Mohammedan converts. Haj Ibrahim, a merchant of Tripoli, was the only Mussulman I found who despised the use of charms. He observed:—"The grigri is only fit for slaves, or ignorant Mussulmans."

[25] Hell is ordinarily denominated fire by people in The Desert.

[26] Caillié gives an affecting account of this superstition amongst the Mandingoes:—

"On the 8th, I found myself very ill in consequence of the food, and I had an attack of fever. I took a few doses of sulphate of quinine, which had the effect of abating the fever for a few days. My host seemed much concerned at my indisposition. He searched through some old books which contained verses of the Koran, and brought me a scrap of paper well fumigated on which was written a charm in Arabic characters, assuring me that it was an excellent remedy for the disorder under which I was suffering. He directed me to copy it on a little piece of wood which he brought me; then, to wash off the writing with some water which I was to drink: he observed that this would to a certainty relieve me. To please him I copied the writing as he directed, and when he was gone washed the bit of board; but instead of drinking the water I threw it away, which had quite as good an effect, for next day I found myself tolerably well. My host, of course, attributed my amendment to the efficacy of his remedy."




The Sahara, and derivation of the Name.—Astonishment of the People at the Sovereign of England being a Woman.—Decision of the Kady on a diseased Camel.—The old Mendicant Bandit.—Phrenological examination of the Servants of the Rais.—The Scorpion and the Chamelion.—Starving state of the Arab Troops.—Contradictions in the Moorish Character.—Difficulty of acquiring notions of Quantities and Distances from the People.—The Princes to whom Presents are made in the Soudan Route.—How Butchers cut up their Meat.—Connexion between North Africa, The Sahara, and the East.—The Prophecy of The Dajal and Gog and Magog.—Origin of the Turks, Touaricks, and Russians.—How the Fast is broken in the Evening.—Phenomenon of Desert Sound.—The Great Spring of Ghadames.—The Malta Times.—The People their own Enslavers.—Quotation from Scripture.


A taleb tells me that The Sahara is so called from its consisting mostly of rocky stony ground, and its name is a cognate term with Sakharah, ‮صخرة‬, i. e. "rock." This derivation we can scarcely admit, although as we advance into The Sahara we shall find at least a third of its entire surface to consist of rocks and stones, and mountains. The Sahara—‮الصحرا‬—being the theatre of my adventures and researches, deserves a little consideration as to the derivation of this appellation, for so vast a proportion of the African Continent. A late French writer, M. Le Lieutenant-Colonel Daumas, defines The Sahara as "une contrée plate et très-vaste, où il n'y a que peu d'habitants, et dont la plus grande partie est improductive et sablonneuse." This definition presents no[160] proper idea of The Sahara. We have already seen it intersected with long low ridges of mountains, but we shall soon meet with groups of high mountains, as well as find it bristled over and bounded by interminable chains. We shall find also that but a certain portion of its actual mass consists of sand. Unproductive the greater part undoubtedly is, or rather uncultivated; and its population, compared with its vast sterile surface, is extremely small, perhaps not one inhabitant to many thousand square miles. The Mahometan talebs give the following curious etymology of the term Sahara. "We call Sehaur," they say, "that point scarcely distinguishable which precedes the point of day, (fidger), and during which, in the time of Ramadan, we can eat, drink, and smoke. The most rigorous abstinence ought to commence from the time of morning, or when we can distinguish a white thread from a black thread. The Sehaur is then a shade between night and the point of day, which is important for us to seize upon and to determine, and which ought to occupy the attention of our Marabouts. One of them, Ben-ej-Jiramy, starting on the principle, that the Sehaur is more easily and sooner distinguished by the inhabitants of the plains, where nothing bounds the horizon, than by the mountaineers, who are enveloped in masses of earth, concludes that, from the name of the phenomenon there formed, viz., on the plains, where it is more particularly distinguished or observed, we have named the country Sahara, or the country of the Sehaur." In this whimsical and ingenious derivation there is a change of the ‮س‬ into ‮ص‬, but which is sufficiently frequent in the Shemitic languages. The grand fallacy of the above etymology is, that it assumes the[161] Sahara to be a perfectly flat country, or country of plains, which is not the fact. The talebs also give various names to different portions of The Sahara, according to the geological character of the country. Feeafee is The Oasis, where life is retired, and one spends one's happy days amidst eternal springs of living water, reclining under palms and fruit trees, securely sheltered from the burning simoon (shoub). Keefar, is the sandy arid plain, which, occasionally watered by the winter's revivifying refreshing and fructifying rains, produces spring herbage, where the Nomade tribes pasture their flocks in the neighbourhood of the oases. Falat, is the region of sands in the immensity of steril wastes. But all these distinctions are arbitrary, and can be predicated of tracts of country lying on the North Coast of Africa, as well as the boundless Sahara. On the coast of Tripoli we have the oasis, the arid plain, and the groups of sand-hills of eternal sterility. Captain Lyon enumerates in the same way as the talebs, the various names which the Arabs apply to different regions of The Desert. Sahara is sand alone, forming a plane surface, which agrees with the hypothesis of Ben-ej-Jiramy. Ghoud is groups of sand-hills of indefinite height, situate on the borders of stony plains, where the wind has formed and collected them. Sereer, is generally plains, whence the sand-hills have been swept, and where alone sand-hills are found. Wâr, is a rough plain, covered with large detached stones, lying in confusion, and very difficult to pass over, which is the meaning of the appellation. It is applied to all difficult traverse. Hateea, is a spot possessing the power of fertility; indeed, those patches of land which are the germs of the oases, now[162] producing small stinted shrubs scattered at intervals, from which camels browse a scanty meal, or travellers make their Desert fire. Wishek, is productive sand-hills and plains, where the wild palm and lethel-tree grow. Ghabah, distinguishes cultivated Sahara, sometimes a portion of the oases, but mostly where there are no inhabitants. So near Touat, there is a cultivated place called Ghabah, and without inhabitants. But the people of Ghadames call also their gardens Ghabah. Sibhah, is the usual name for all salt plains, sometimes called Shot in Algeria, being mostly sandy salt marshes. Like the Sibhah of Emjessen, and "The Lake of Marks," in Tunis, the saline particles are often combined with earths or sand so closely as to form a substance resembling stone, and equally hard to break or cut through. With this salt stone houses are built. Wady, is the designation of all long deep depressions of the surface, and is used indifferently for a valley, a bed of a river, or torrent, or ravine. These wadys are almost always dry, except one or two months in the winter. Gibel, is applied to all hills and mountains. It is quite evident, from the above enumeration, that these various terms can be equally applied to the coast and other regions of land, not comprehended within the assigned limits of The Sahara, and are therefore not peculiar to The Great Desert of Sahara.

All the people are astonished when I tell them the British Sovereign is a lady. They have enough to believe it; indeed, some of them do not, and think I am trifling with their credulity. It goes against the grain, and their grain especially, to be ruled over by a woman, (though many of them, from my own personal knowledge, are entirely under the influence of their wives in private, as[163] all or most men are,) and is contrary to all their notions of government and womankind. I was surrounded with a group when the information was given, and I shall just mention the questions which were put to me in rapid succession. "Does that woman govern well?" "Has she a husband? What does her husband?" "Has she any children?" "Is she a big woman?" "Is she beautiful?" "How much does she pay you for coming to our country?" "Who has more power, she or the Sultan (of Constantinople)?" "What's her name?" "Have the Christians any other women who govern?" And so forth. I explained to them that Spain and Portugal were ruled by two other Queens, but that, in France, a Queen never reigns. At the mention of this latter fact, there was general murmur of approbation, "El-Francees ândhom âkel (the French have wisdom)." To soften the matter down a little, and abate their prejudices, I told them the father of the Queen of England had no sons, and in all such cases, if there were daughters, these were allowed to govern the people. "Batel (stupid)," said one fellow, and the conversation dropped.

Begin to like the place, as I find I can pick up information respecting the interior. The merchants seem now more disposed to assume the responsibility of taking me with them. Went through the market-place, and witnessed a sitting of judgment upon a sick camel. This was an affair of the Kady, a little, fat, chubby, cherub-looking fellow, but proud and silent. The people said he was sagheer, "young," and excused his uncanonical conduct. He sat, high placed on a stone-bench, amidst a semicircle of people, squatting on the ground. He looked very grave, now exchanging a word or half syl[164]lable with one, now with another, but continually moving his lips as if in prayer. I met him afterwards in the street, and always found him moving the lips, with his rosary of black Mecca beads in his hands. He holds a separate and independent jurisdiction from the Rais, and is the Archbishop or Pope of Ghadames. His decision cannot be annulled by the authorities in Tripoli, but must be referred to the Ulemas at Constantinople. He therefore thinks not a little of himself, and with reason. Four questions were now before the Kady, embracing physic, law, and divinity.

1st. To whom did the camel belong (for the Arabs disputed this)?

2nd. Could it recover from its sickness, or was it incurable?

3rd. Whether it should be killed, if it could not be cured?

4th. Whether it should be eaten after it was killed?

The diseased, emaciated camel lay groaning just without the semicircle. There was a large abscess over the shoulders, produced by the loads it had carried, besides other sores. A million of flies was then settled on the abscess, which was a running sore. It was a most disgusting sight. But not to the people who eyed the poor animal as connoisseurs. I learnt afterwards the Kady's decision was: "The camel is incurable, but may be killed and eaten." I asked the people whether they were not afraid to eat an animal which was so much diseased. They replied, "No, it is the judgment of the Kady. To-morrow we shall kill and eat it. To-day there's camels' flesh enough." I was astonished at the Kady's decision, and told the people diseased animals were not[165] allowed to be killed for eating in our country, for there was danger in their making people ill. Some approved of this; but the population is much poorer than I, at first, thought, and the indigent are glad to catch anything. The few rich bury their money in foreign speculations, or hoard it up in their houses. After the decision, the miserable camel was left alone in the Souk, a prey to the flies, which were voraciously feeding on its running sores, till the next day. Semi-civilized people cannot comprehend the mercy or duty of alleviating the sufferings of the inferior creation.

To-day a new case of severe ophthalmia. This was that of a woman, who also had a fever. To my agreeable surprise, a number of her friends decided that she should take a fever-powder, in spite of the Ramadan. I administered it myself, and she drank it greedily. I was glad of such a marked exception to the rigid fasting. Her relatives said she was permitted to drink it, first, because she was a woman, and, secondly, because she was sick. This was the law of the Kady. Met a remarkable Touarick in the streets. This is an old worn-out man, with one eye, and that much damaged. In his day he has been a famous bandit, has plundered many a caravan and murdered the hapless merchants. He is now, in his dreadful old age, sheltered in the very city whose wayfaring merchants he so often plundered and murdered. The judgment of heaven seems pressing hard upon him; for he is poor and miserable, a beggar in the streets—all his ill-gotten wealth is gone! He leads about a little lad, whom he calls his son, and who seems to afford the wretched old villain his only repose of[166] mind, if repose he can have from so horrible a conscience. I gave the child a small coin. The inhabitants feed the bandit, and tolerate him with an admirable spirit of merciful forgiveness. And if they do, who cries for vengeance?

Wrote to-day a letter to the Pasha of Tripoli, thanking His Highness for the kind attentions I had received from the Governor of Ghadames. I never did anything with such good will. It was, besides, an absolute duty.

This afternoon examined phrenologically, bumpologically, the heads of many children. There was a considerable variety in the bumps, as well as the configuration, of the cranium. Some of the heads were well flattened on either side, others rounded, and mostly low, depressed foreheads, with "self-esteem" and "love of approbation" ascending appallingly far up at the back of the head. Very few men or children have the frontal regions well developed. Examined a man esteemed a great dervish, who is always reading and writing the Koran. It's strange that the saint had the organ of veneration well developed. The Rais hearing of my cunning in this occult science, which some of the people called a new deen, ("religion,") wished to see me perform; so, on visiting him in the evening, he ordered forth all his understrappers and hangers-on, and made them submit to the fearful ordeal of head pummelling, first begging me to speak out everything, and then calling for fire to light his pipe, that he might muse over the exhibition à la Turque. The first officer examined was collector of the revenue, a native of Derge, a regular task-master in[167] his way, and very malicious; I was frightened what to say. All was attention, the Rais particularly wishing to know if he was a thief, and had secreted Government money in his house. This his Excellency told me afterwards, when we were alone. The collector happened, by good luck, to have a large "acquisitiveness," and "benevolence" at the same time. This I explained to the Rais, and said the one balanced or neutralized the other. Tayeb, ("good"), said his Excellency, much chagrined, his Excellency evidently wishing to have had the fellow made out a thief. I must not continue through all the examinations. Suffice it to say, by this display of my new craft, I was raised very much in the estimation of everybody. But the most surprising thing was, a Touarick affirmed to the Rais, with great vehemence, that one of his neighbours was a phrenologist, and acquired his knowledge from the jenoun ("demons"). The major-domo of his Excellency, (who had had a good character given to him in the examination,) was very angry at this attempt to lower my credit of being the first to teach phrenology in the The Desert, and pushed the Touarick out of the Rais's house, and we only just escaped a disturbance, or losing all our fun, the Touarick drawing his sword to defend himself. In general I was disappointed, and did not observe the African and Moorish forms of cranium so much marked as I expected. They were all, thank goodness, pretty cleanly shaved. It is well known Mussulmans generally shave their heads, and leave their beards unshaven. This is, then, a splendid field for accurate phrenological observation. I observed that the negroes have all of them "self-esteem" most surprisingly developed. From this, (if the science were true, which I[168] very much question[27],) we could easily deduce their habitual gaiety, for a man who has always a good opinion of himself is rarely miserable.

Just after the examination finished, whilst we were all very gay, smoking, drinking coffee, talking, and laughing, one of the Moors started up suddenly, and in an instant, taking his shoe, lying beside him, struck something down with a great smack on the floor; it turned out to be an immense scorpion! I felt a chill start through all my blood. The smashed reptile looked hideous in the dim light of the Ramadan lamp. This is the third scorpion within a fortnight the Rais has killed in his own house; one of enormous size he killed a few days ago. The Rais called for more coffee, and said coolly and laconically, "It's all maktoub between you and the scorpions; if they are to bite you, they will." His Excellency thought the sting often deadly. My taleb joins the rest in their notions of fatality. In coming home with me afterwards, I said to him, "I am alarmed at these scorpions, as there's no security from them; for you say they get upon the beds, on the tops of the houses, and in every hole and corner." The taleb—"I am not afraid; I am always killing them in my house, and yet I fear them not, for it's all from God. If they are destined by Rubbee to sting me to death, they will, so I do not disturb myself. You Christians are foolish." It does not appear that this reptile strikes a person unless it be attacked, or trodden upon. The people say they feed on trāb, "dust" or "dirt." Yesterday the chameleon was seen in[169] the gardens: there is a few in Ghadames, and in most parts of North Africa. The one I saw was a most unsightly creature. The construction of the eyes is remarkable; they turn on a swivel, or seem to do so, and are directed every way in a moment of time. It is a trite observation, that the lower brute animal has many advantages over the more perfect and rational animal. I often, en route, admired the beautiful facility with which the camel turned its head and neck completely round, and looked upon objects in every direction, without even moving its body, or if in motion, without stopping. I watched the chameleon a long time, to see it "change its colour;" it did so continually, but scarcely any of the colours were agreeable or beautiful; they were mostly dunnish red and yellow, and sometimes black brown; often-times it was covered with spots, now with stripes, now with neither one nor the other. Once it was an ugly black, and then of a light pale-green yellow. The fewness of animals in this oasis occasions me to record its appearance. The people mention two or three varieties of the species. They are fond of the chameleons, at least, give them the full liberty of the gardens, without attempting to destroy them.

The Sebâah, a freebooting tribe of Tunisian Arabs on the frontier, who some two months ago plundered a Ghadames caravan near Gharian, have been made to render up an account of the spoil. The Pasha of Tripoli wrote to the Bey of Tunis, and the Bey has undertaken to make them surrender their booty. The value is only about 1000 dollars, and forty camels. People are very inquisitive about my personal affairs. They ask me repeatedly, why I don't marry, or where are my wife and[170] children? and add, "for you are getting old, and have plenty of money." I usually reply, "I can't carry a wife about with me all over the world." In the Desert and all over North Africa, it is looked upon as a species of disgrace for a man not to be married. It perhaps ought to be so everywhere; but our social system of Europe is become now so bad, that nearly half of the people cannot afford to marry. And so degraded in their feelings have become the lower classes of the British Isles, that many of those who do marry, marry with the clear understood determination of throwing their offspring upon the public bounty. The Puseyite and Church alms-giving clergy, to their shame, encourage our miserable population in these most despicable sentiments, and tell the people it is their right as granted to them by the founder and apostles of the Christian Church. Tyrants must have slaves, and priestly tyrants as well as other sorts of tyrants; it is therefore necessary there should be propagated a race of slaves.

This morning the poor old blind man demands the strong medicine for his eye. He says, "I feel less pain in my eyes though I see no better." O Dio! what a precious gift is sight—how persevering is this old man to see again those sights of desert, palm, and oasis, which he saw in his youthful days! Perhaps there is a tenth of the population of Ghadames nearly blind, or quite blind. The Sheikh Makouran has calculated the expense from Ghadames to Kanou, and back, for me, at two hundred dollars. The Moors are essentially children in some things. Young men, full grown, carry about with them in their pockets a little bit of white sugar to suck, stowed away in needlecases. To-day, a ghafalah of[171] Touaricks, twenty persons, left for Ghat. They took my letter for the Governor. The Touaricks are getting used to the sight of a Christian. My opinion is also undergoing a favourable change towards them. Certainly, the best informed of the Ghadamsee people give them a good character.

15th.—The Rais killed two more scorpions after I left him last night. A child was bitten a few days ago by a scorpion, and died to-day. His Excellency hopes they will disappear after the Ramadan. The scorpion, like many other venemous and deadly animals, is a creature of heat, and in the winter is never seen. The scorpion usually comes out of his hiding-places, or the crevices of the walls, during night time, and is rarely seen in the day. Various remedies for its bite or sting, or stroke, are in vogue here. People usually employ garlic: they both eat it and rub it into the bitten or stricken part. Others cut round the stung part, and then rub over the whole with snuff. People persist that the scorpion eats dust, but that he is very fond of striking Ben-Adam ("the human race.") Two nights after the scorpion affair with the Rais, to our dread and horror, Said killed a large one close by our beds. We always sleep upon the ground-floor on matting. He was dozing in the night, after his Ramadan midnight meal, when the monster scrambled past by his head like an enormous crab. In the morning he showed me his sting as a trophy of victory. We then examined all the walls in our sleeping apartment, and stopped up cracks and crevices. After a short time the scorpions were forgotten, or we got used to them; and the next one that Said had a chase after, excited in me little attention. So I found, like the[172] Moors, myself a fatalist, or at least became reconciled to the presence of these death-stinging reptiles. I found eventually, in fact, the people killed them with as much unconcern as we do spiders. The scorpion is the only creature armed with the fatal power of destroying life, which, for the present I hear of in the oases of The Sahara. The Arabs, in their hatred of the Touaricks, say, "The scorpion and the Touarick are the only enemies you meet with in The Sahara."

16th.—The old worn-out bandit met me, and asked me to cure his rheumatic pains. "Show me your tongue," I said. He flatly refused, as several persons were present. Then when I went away he came running after me, and tried to put out his tongue, but did not succeed. I told him to drink plenty of hot broth, and go to bed. He seemed satisfied. An Arab soldier afflicted with diarrhœa, came for medicine. He waited till the last rays of the sun were seen to depart from the minaret's top, before he would take his pills. Meanwhile, he gave me a catalogue of grievances, the sum and substance of which was, "he had nothing to eat." I questioned him over and over again, and then, coming to the same stern conclusion, I gave him some supper. Some weeks ago the Rais gave each soldier 3 Tunisian piastres, about 1s. 10d. Since then they had had nothing. Substantially, I believe, he spoke the truth, for these poor fellows are kept just above the starvation-to-death point. It is not surprising they wish to return to their homes, or Tripoli, and that they pilfer about the town. Asking him why the Rais did not give them a few karoobs, he replied naively, "The Rais has none for us, but plenty to buy gold for his horse's saddle." To-[173]day, nor yesterday, could I buy any eatable meat. I mean mutton, for this is the ordinary meat of the place, and upon which I live, with now and then a fowl. But in the Souk another camel was killed, and a great display was made of its meat. The camel was ill before killed, but not so bad as the one already mentioned. Some fifty persons were enjoying the sight of the camel being cut up, for the Moorish butchers always cut up their meat into very small portions, sometimes not bigger than a couple of mouthsful. Before killed, the camel sold for one hundred and eight Tunisian piastres; the one on which the Kady gave judgment, only produced thirty-three. (Tunisian piastres vary from 7d. to 9d.)

Yesterday the weather sultry, and a few drops of rain fell on the parched oasis—drops of ambrosia from the gods. To-day it is cloudy and cool, for the first time since my residence here; a cool elastic sensation braces up my poor drooping frame.

The Moor picks up every bit, or little dirty scrap of paper he finds in the streets, and places it in a hole of the wall, or upon a ledge, lest there should be written on it, "the name of God," and the sacred name be trodden upon and profaned. It is probable they derived the superstition from the Jews, who have many mysterious notions about certain letters which form the name of The Almighty. I have often seen ‮שדי‬ affixed on the door-posts of Jewish houses in Barbary. But no people in the world use the name of God more vainly than Mussulmans, nor swear more than they, the greater part of the words used being different epithets of the Divine Nature. This inconsistency runs through all the actions of these semi-civilized people. No people pre[174]tend to more delicacy in the mode of dress, more respect for women, not even mentioning the names or existence of their wives. My late Marabout camel-driver, when speaking of his wife and family, merely said saghar ("little children"). And, notwithstanding all this, no people are more sensual and impure, and esteem women less, than the Moors of towns. In swearing and oaths, the epithets "With God!" "By God!" "God!" "The Lord!" or "My Lord (Rubbee)!" "God, the Most High!" and, "The Most Sacred Majesty of God (Subkhanah Allah)!" are the common forms of using the Divine Name. A Tibboo stranger went into a house to buy a pair of pistols, and the seller was not at home. My taleb, who was a neighbour, and was anxious his friend should sell his pistols, run about exclaiming, Subkhanah Allah! I confess I was greatly shocked on hearing these most awful words used in such a way. I taxed the taleb afterwards with it, and compared his conduct with what I had seen in his picking up bits of paper in my house, for fear the names of The Deity should be upon them. He merely answered pettishly, "What do you wish? all people say so." A less serious note may be added here, that of the loose and curious way in which the Arabs express their ideas of quantities and distances. "Great" and "small" means with them any quantities, as "near" and "afar," any distances. I asked an Arab of Tunis when he expected his caravan? He replied, Ghareeb ("near"). "What do you mean, a week, a fortnight, or how long?" "Twenty days!" was the reply. In endeavouring to obtain information from these people on distances and quantities, the only way is to make them compare the thing unknown with what[175] you know. They will tell you at such a place is an exceedingly high mountain. If there is a hill or a mountain near you at the time, you must ask them if it as large or larger than that? In this way you will frequently find their great mountain to be no bigger than a hillock.

The merchants say it is necessary to give presents to the following princes of authority, in the route of Soudan:—


and these princes demand presents as a matter of right.

Fullannee and Negroes.

but these latter princes do not demand presents as a matter of right, leaving it to the good pleasure of the stranger. There are also a few other smaller places where a trifling present will help a merchant on his way. The presents are collected according to the means and wealth of each individual merchant, each subscribing his share, one giving a burnouse, others a piece of cloth, or silk, or beads, and what not. The whole is then collected together, and a deputation of two or three merchants is formed out of the caravan, who convey their presents to the prince, and the prince, when he finds the merchants[176] have treated him liberally, sometimes returns a present of a slave or two, but generally a quantity of fresh provisions.

A small ghafalah of Touaricks having left to-day for Touat, Sheik Makouran, whose merchandise they were escorting on its way to Timbuctoo, begged me to write a letter to the Sheikh of Ain-Salah, one of the oases, which is in direct commercial relations with Ghadames. The plain English of the letter was, that Sheikh Haj Mohammed Welled Abajoudah, of Ain-Salah, would receive me friendly if I came to him, would protect all Englishmen travelling through his country, and would not let them be attacked and murdered as Major Laing was. When I gave my friend Makouran the letter, he asked me what I had written. I related the substance. "Allah, Allah!" exclaimed old Makouran; "Why, the Sheikh of Ain-Salah is my friend, he'll treat you as kindly as I do; he's one of us." Then he added, "Never mind, the letter may go." This evening the Rais was very unwell. Gave his Excellency some purgative pills. Afraid he will be obliged to return to Tripoli for his health; poor fellow, he suffers greatly.

17th.—The weather has opened this morning, dull, cloudy, and cool, threatening rain. A dingy veil is drawn over the face of things.

Have not yet seen any pretty plays amongst the children. All is dullest monotony. The youth, however, ultimately recover their wits by travelling. My turjeman says, "The natives of Ghadames are the greatest travellers in the world, and are to be found in every country." The Souk offers nothing for sale but olive-oil, liquid butter, a little bread, camels' flesh, and now and then a[177] few vegetables. All the Touarick traders have now left, some for Ghat and others for Touat. My Ghadamsee friends cease talking of the dangers of my Soudan trip, and it is a settled thing that I go. Some of them wish me to try a fasting day; "one day, to see how I like it," they tell me.

It is very amusing to see butchers in this place cut up their meat. Four, eight, or twelve persons, join to buy a sheep. The sheep is killed, and the butcher has to divide it into as many equal parts as joint-purchasers. He begins by dividing it into four equal parts, but not in the way we should imagine, by cutting the carcase into four. No, quite different. He first divides the intestines into four portions, cutting the heart, liver, and lights into four equal portions, and so of the rest. Sometimes the heart is made a present to some favoured individual. Of two sheep cut up to-day, the heart of one was given to a young friend of mine, and that of the other to the Governor. The intestines divided, the butcher proceeds to divide the legs and shoulders into four equal portions, dividing one leg and one shoulder into two, and so of the other. The ribs and rest of the meat is then also equally divided. When the carcase is thus far divided, a few persons only take one whole quarter, the rest the butcher proceeds leisurely and scientifically to divide, several persons taking a whole quarter divided and subdivided amongst them, not being able to purchase a large quantity. The quarter is divided into half-quarters, the half-quarters into quarter-quarters, and the quarter-quarter is often again divided and subdivided before it gets into the pot. In this division, you would imagine the Desert dissector would[178] cut the meat all away;—no such thing; and so great is the precision with which he divides and subdivides, that he has no need of scales and weights, equally dividing every bit of muscle, cartilage, fat, and bone; indeed, every person goes away perfectly satisfied with the justice of the division. I never saw scales and weights used on these occasions. Should, perchance, a difficulty or dispute arise as to the comparative size of the portions or equal divisions, a child is then sent for, and each party having chosen his token—a piece of wood, a straw, or what not, the whole are put into the hands of the child, who is requested to place the sticks or straws upon the portions of meat it chooses, or to which its caprice may guide. This decision of the umpire Chance is without or beyond all appeal. Mussulmans of The Sahara have no idea of separate joints or choice parts, the heart, perhaps, excepted, which is highly prized; or, if you will, they like a bit of every part of the carcase, and cut it up into these infinitesimal divisions in order that they may obtain this aggregate of delicate minutiæ. But as this is all cooked together, there can never be that separate taste of separate parts which distinguishes the meat as killed and cooked by Europeans. All Mussulmans are instinctively butchers, and are familiar with the knife, and expert at killing animals; it is a sort of religious rite with them. What I have observed particularly is, there is none of that shrinking back and chilled-blood shudder at seeing a poor animal killed, which characterizes Europeans, and especially the children of Europeans. Here children may be seen holding the animal whilst its throat is most barbarously cut! and not flinching a step, or blinking the eye. Apropos of killing and eating meat,[179] I had a long polemical discussion with my taleb upon the respective rites and ceremonies of Christians and Mussulmans. I told him what distinguished the religion of the New Testament was, that it prescribed no rules for eating and drinking, or dress; that the whole Christian religion was based upon two great commandments: "Thou shalt love God with all thy heart, and thy neighbour as thyself." This, however, only drew from him the observation, "Before the time of Sidi Mahomet, this was the religion of the world." I rejoined, "This was the religion—still is the religion—of all the English, who eat and drink everything that is good, and dress any way they please; and such is the will of God." The taleb observed, "You wear braces, which is unlawful." I could not find out the why and the wherefore, unless it were that it tightened men-folks up too much for modesty. I told him the Rais and all Turks had braces to their pantaloons. He simply replied, "Braces are not permitted by our marabouts."

North Africa, or this region of The Sahara, more particularly, is essentially the East, (the Syrian, Arabian East,) and the religion of Mahomet has indissolubly bound in ideas, manners, and customs, the inhabitants of these countries with those of the East. It is, therefore, very satisfactory to read the Arabic New Testament in these countries; for, besides presenting all the ideas and metaphorical adornments, such reading often gives you the very words and idiomatical expressions of the people. This correspondence is certainly a strong proof, both that the latter Biblical writers were natives of the East, and that the inhabitants of North Africa and The Sahara were originally emigrants, or colonies from Syria and[180] Arabia. This is the opinion of my taleb, and all the literati of the oasis. My taleb also treated me to-day with writing the famous Mohammedan prophecy, respecting the destinies of the East, and the world in general, and everybody in particular. It runneth according to this mighty import: "The Dajal, (‮الدجال‬,) whose name is the Messiah, and who is the son of Said, and who is a monstrous fellow, with one eye, shall come upon the earth, or rather, go abroad upon the earth, and all the Jews shall flock around him, and enrol themselves under his standard, for he is their expected Messiah; and then, armed with their prowess and gold, he shall slay all Christians and Mohammedans, and shall reign upon the earth, after their destruction, forty years. This time outran, there shall then appear Jesus, the son of Mary, (the Messiah of the New Testament,) in the clouds, who shall descend upon the earth with flaming vengeance, and destroy The Dajal. This done, then shall come the end of the world." My taleb assures me, upon his parole d'honneur, that The Dajal will come in forty years from the present time, or in the year 1885! Khoristan, the country where he is now bound in chains, is, besides, the country of Gog and Magog (‮جوج و مجوج‬). One of these gentlemen is very small, indeed a dwarf, about the size of General Tom Thumb, perhaps one and a half inches shorter; and the other is tall enough to reach the moon when it is high over your head. It is strange the Mussulmans of Ghadames make also the Turks (Truk, as they call them,) to come from the country of Gog and Magog. See the following table of the genealogy of all the people of the earth, especially the Turks, the Touaricks, and the Russians:[181]

Genealogy of all the people of the Earth

Such is the leaf of holy tradition in The Desert. It is astonishing how all nations love to indulge their gloomy musings with monsters. The extraction of the Russians from Gog and Magog is a curiosity; but the Russians, (Moskou, such is their name here,) are looked upon as a species of monster, whose jaw is capacious enough to swallow up all the Turks, and the Sultan of the East. The Rais has the greatest dread of them, whose native soil they have already gorged, "These Russians," he said to me one day, "are always, always, always advancing, advancing, advancing upon the Sultan." Who will say the patriotic Turk's apprehensions are groundless? With regard to the extraction of the Touaricks, I asked one of these people where his countrymen sprang from. He answered me, that formerly they were demons, (‮جنون‬) and came from a country near Kanou, on the banks of The Great River. Another told me, in true Hellenic style, "The Touaricks sprang out from the ground." An opinion has been advanced by some acquainted with ancient Eastern and African geography, that the Touaricks are from Palestine, and are a portion of the tribes of the Philistines expelled by Joshua; that the first rendezvous of the wanderers was the oasis of Oujlah, which is a few days' journey from Siwah, the site of the celebrated Ammonium; and thence they proceeded, wandering at will, to the west and south, peopling all the arid regions[182] of the Sahara. The Sheikh of the slaves visiting me to-day, and describing Timbuctoo, said, "It is several times larger than Tunis; it is as large as Moskou (or Russia)."

I.—"Who told you Moskou was large?"

He.—"The people."

So the Emperor of all the Russians may rejoice in the consciousness, that he and his people constitute as large a kingdom as Timbuctoo, and are celebrated in the gossip of Saharan cities.

The first thing with which people break their fast in the evening is dates. My taleb, when visiting me, takes a few dates in his hands, and goes to a corner of the court-yard, or upon the house-top, about the softening, musing time, when the last solar rays are lingering playfully—and to the emaciated faster, teasingly, on this Saharan world, and there he listens in silence for the first accents of the shrill voice of the Muethan, calling to prayers, from the minaret of a neighbouring mosque. This heard, he commences putting the dates, one by one, slowly into his parched mouth, repeating a short prayer with each as he swallows it with a sort of choking difficulty. After he has eaten a dozen or so, he drinks, and then goes off to mosque prayers. Sometimes he prays in my house, and then comes down to dine with me. Many people, of course, in Ghadames, never saw a Christian before me; but they are quite as much astonished to see a Christian eat and drink in the Ramadan, as to see the Christian himself. This afternoon I was very thirsty, and went to drink a little water from one of the water-skins suspended in a square. A woman, of half-caste, going by at the time, cried out,[183] "Why, why?" I went up to her and said, "Because you are a Mussulman and I'm a Christian." Her astonishment was no way abated; she kept exclaiming, "Why, why?" as if she would raise the whole city. One of my merchant friends seeing there was some prospect of a disturbance, came up to me and said, "Yâkob, that woman is mad; make haste, go home." However, I rarely ever eat and drink before the people, avoiding as much as I can shocking their prejudices; and if asked about fasting, usually evade the question, or say I fast or wait for my dinner till Said can eat his dinner also.

18th.—Weather has now set in cool. This morning a little cold and raw. Now's the time for catching coughs and cold;—people are coughing already. Just before day-break, a thunderbolt was said to be discharged over the city, accompanied with a long, low growling muttering sound, which reverberated from the Saharan hills. The circumstance remarkable, in the falling of this dread bolt of heaven's artillery, at the time the sky was perfectly clear and bright, and there was nothing in the shape of storm. These discharges of sound are rare in the Saharan regions. People asked me to explain to them what it was, and what it prognosticated? I told them, thunderbolts were frequent in Christian countries during storms, and nothing of consequence follow from them. I have reason to believe since, after conversing with several French officers in Algeria on the subject, that this phenomenon of a tremendous discharge of sound was a discharge of electricity from the earth, which sometimes occurs in North Africa.

Went to examine the Great Spring of Ghadames this morning, which is situate on the west side of the city, but[184] conveniently between the two grand divisions of the population, the Ben Wezeet and the Ben Weleed. It was to me a delicium. What a revolution has my opinions undergone respecting water since I have travelled in The Thirsty Desert! Never was such an enthusiastic conversion! But were all conversions so harmless, how happy for mankind! Some thirty swallows are skimming its gaseous-bubble surface, playing off their wing-darting delights. The Spring or Well is perennial, as old as the foundation of the city, and may have ran for ages before the palms were planted around it by the hand of man, or sprung up from a few date-stones left by some chance fugitives who had stopped to taste its waters, and then held their way on in The Desert. Without the Spring the city could have no existence. It runs into a basin made and banked up for it, an oblong square of some twenty yards by fifteen. In its deepest part it is not more than six feet. The water is hot, averaging a temperature of 120 degrees, and upwards, it being too hot to bathe in near the orifices, whence the water gushes with gaseous globules, which continually rise from the bottom. But the orifices are not visible, and hence an air of mystery is thrown over this spring of "Living Water." The people say it was created by God on the same day when the sea near Tripoli was made. The gaseous particles are larger and more numerous in the centre, where is the great force of the Spring. The water is tolerably good, but a little purgative. It is usually allowed twelve, but some give it twenty-four hours to cool before drunk. The form of the basin may be thus rudely represented:[185]

Great Spring of Ghadames

a. Small bathing-places.

b. Steps where the women descend to fill their jugs with water.

c. Corners where the water runs away to the fountains in the squares and streets, and to the gardens, in and without the city. Around are the ruins and backs of houses, walls, and gardens, the palms alone being visible, looking very fresh and gracefully picturesque, near this source of life. After this went to see the Water-Watch[28], which is placed in one corner of the Souk. This is constructed upon the same principle as the hour-glass, but it is small, and requires to be emptied twenty-four times to complete the hour. In fact, it is only a small earthen pot or jar with a hole in the bottom of certain dimensions, and when filled with water, and the water has emptied itself, running out twenty-four times, the hour is completed. Some gardens require the stream, which the Water-Watch measures the time of the running of, an hour, others only half an hour, and others two or more hours, according to their size and distance from the source. The inhabitants pay Government so much per hour for the running of the stream into their gardens; but some have an hereditary possession in a certain quantity of the time of the stream's running. Of this[186] they are naturally very proud. For ordinary household purposes the water is given without cost. There are two or three places in the town where a small water-watch is kept, but that in the Souk is the principal one. I have thus entered into particulars, for the obvious reason that, "water is the liquid gold in these thirsty regions." In Southern Algeria, the oasis of El-Agouat, each landed proprietor has the prescriptive right of an hour or two hours of the running of the water, according to the title deeds of the estate. The time is measured with an hour-glass (of sand) held by the officer who distributes the water, and who opens and shuts the conduit of irrigation at the time fixed. Many other oases have the same system.

Some Touaricks remained, who called on me to-day. One, who had shown himself very friendly, began to enlarge on the dangers of the Soudan route. I immediately observed, "God is greater than all the Touaricks." This stopped his gab, and was applauded by the rest. A Ghadamsee bawled out, "Oh! it requires a great deal—much, much, much money to go to Soudan." "How much?" I asked,—"Oh! much, much, much!" was rejoined. "What is much?" "Five hundred dollars!" was shouted out by half a dozen. I coolly observed, "It is not much for an Englishman." Another of the Touaricks said, about twenty years ago he saw some Englishmen come to his country from Fezzan. What struck the Touarick was, the English tourists gave a dollar for a fowl, for a drink of milk, and even, he added with an oath, for an Es-Slamah âleikom? ("How do you do?") This story was told to impress me with the necessity of taking plenty of money with me, and I was to keep up[187] the liberal character of my predecessors in Saharan travel. So we see these English tourists, who undoubtedly were Messrs. Denham, Clapperton, and Oudney, have spoiled the roads of travelling between Ghat and Fezzan, as Englishmen have spoiled the routes of the Continent of Europe. This is the propensity of John Bull, to buy up everything and everybody abroad[29]. The Touarick added, "A deal of money is required, because there are many banditti." He meant not exactly robbers, but beggars, who, whilst begging, give you to understand that their appeal to your eleemosynary feelings must not be in vain. All who beg impudently on the routes, or who levy black-mail, are called Sbandout ("banditti.") But I'm more convinced than ever, that the greatest shield of safety for the Desert traveller is his poverty.

Saw an aged Moorish lady, who greatly interested me. She told me she was an hundred years old, fasted all day long, and expected soon to go to Paradise. It is undoubtedly a vulgar error to say the Mahometan doctrine teaches that women have no souls. During her hundred years, she had never seen a Christian before. Her faculties were too weak for sectarian spite, and she looked upon me as if I had been a simple Mussulman stranger.

Sunset, this evening, a man proclaimed from the housetops the arrival of the ghafalah, long expected from Tripoli: only a courier arrived. By him I received the[188] first letter from Tripoli, and the first newspaper, the Malta Times! That mark of admiration means, gentle reader, my poor old paper, the paper I established at so much cost and waste of time, money, health, and labour, for the good pleasure and caprice of The Island of Malta and its dependencies. It's yet pleasing to see the old paper following me; it will, perhaps, follow at my heels to Central Africa. Ramadan began a day earlier in Tripoli. The courier, also, brings the news, banditti are prowling about the The Mountains attacking isolated travellers and small caravans. I am sorry to see, by my papers, the people advocates of their own slavery, and that the Texans have carried through their Congress "the Annexation with the United States," the republican patrons and upholders of slavery and the slave-trade! In this case, at any rate, 'it is not kings and despots enslaving mankind,' but the people wilfully forging their own chains. There is also a humble case before my eyes. Here sits by my side, the slave of Haj Abd-Errahman, who is sent every year by his master to buy and sell goods, as if a regular free merchant. It is wonderful fidelity on the part of this slave that he does not run away. Unquestionably the negro has some fine qualities. This slave, however, in palliation of the wrong, tells me he brings few slaves, and mostly goods. I don't fail to tell him, slaves are haram, ("prohibited,") to the English. My taleb comes in, and after asking me the news, takes up the Arabic Bible, and reads the following beautiful prophetic sentiment:

‮ولكثرة الاثم تبرد المحبة من كثير‬

and then asks what it means? "And because iniquity[189] shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold," I reply, "may be illustrated in this way: Suppose the Rais buys up or bribes the people, so that nearly all the people applaud whatever he does, whether right or wrong, then the love of your country, amongst you few faithful remaining, will wax cold?"

Ben Mousa.—"Yes, I understand, Seedna Aysa, ('our Lord Jesus,') was a prophet."


[27] I always thought phrenology too good to be true. Such a study, however, may be of some service in classifying mental phenomena, and induce a taste for metaphysical research.

[28] Mungalah or Saah-el-ma. Watches are very uncommon: only the Governor, and a few of the richest people, have a watch.

[29] Once passing through Lyons, I heard of an English tourist who hired a steam-boat to himself to pass down the Rhone in, hired an hotel to himself, and one evening took the upper part of a theatre to himself, including the boxes, and all to enjoy himself tranquillement, said my French informant.




The Women in possession of the Streets.—The Grand Factions of Ghadames, the Ben Weleed and the Ben Wezeet.—Interest of the People in Algerian Affairs.—Names, from Bodily Deformities.—Starving Slaves makes them Thieves.—Disease of the Arak-el-Abeed.—Finances of Ghadames.—The Prophet Jonah, still living.—Bad system of collecting Taxes by common Soldiers.—Essnousee leaves for Ghat, alone.—The Thob.—Stroke of the Moon.—Mission of Impostors always that of pretended Mercy to Men.—How the Turk governs the Arabs.—Saharan Lady-Gentlemen.—Classic and Vulgar Names of Things.—The Wadan, or Oudad.—Nimrod, the Hercules of the Saharan Moors.—Enoch, a Tailor.—Noah, a Carpenter.—Serpents and Monsters in The Desert.—Teach Geography to the People.—Indolence of the Inhabitants of Africa.


19th.Morning spent in spelling the Malta Times. Saw a Ben-Wezeetee, who protested that all the money of the country was in the hands of the Ben-Weleed. I asked if he ever went to the Ben-Weleed. "For what," he replied angrily, "should I go to see those devils?" In the afternoon found all the streets deserted by the men-folks, and in possession of the women, girls, and little children, who were playing all sorts of pranks, and dancing and singing like so many people let loose from Bedlam. As soon as they saw me there was a simultaneous rush at me, all crying out, "Oh, Christian! Christian! where's your mother? where's your sister? where's your wife?—don't you want a wife?" Then they began to pelt me with date-stones. I got out of the way as quickly as possible. Wondered what in the[191] world had become of the men. At last found them and the boys all congregated round a mosque, this being some important ceremony of religion.

I had to-day some talk about the two great political factions, the Ben-Wezeet and the Ben-Weleed, the Whigs and Tories of Ghadames, but pushed to such extremities of party spirit, as almost to be without the limits of humanity. Notwithstanding the assumed sanctity of this holy and Marabout City of Ghadames, and its actually leaving its walls to crumble away, and its gates open to every robber of the highways of The Desert—trusting to its prayers for its defence and to its God for vengeance—it has nourished for centuries upon centuries the most unnatural and fratricidal feuds within its own bosom, dividing itself into two powerful rival factions, and which factions, to this day, have not any bonâ fide social intercourse with one another. Occasionally one or two of the rival factions privately visit each other, but these are exceptions, and the Rais has the chiefs of the two parties together in Divan on important business being brought before him. In the market-place there is likewise ground of a common and neutral rendezvous. Abroad they also travel together, and unite against the common enemy and the foreigner. The native Governor, or Nāther, and the Kady, are besides chosen from one or other party, and have authority over all the inhabitants of Ghadames. But here closes their mutual transactions. It is a long settled time-out-of-mind, nay, sacred rule, with them, as a whole, "Not to intermarry, and not to visit each other's quarters, if it can possibly be avoided." The Rais and myself, reside without the boundaries of their respective quarters, so that we can[192] be visited by both parties, who often meet together accidentally in our houses. The Arab suburb is also neutral ground. Most of the poor strangers take up their residence here. The Ben-Wezeet have four streets and the Ben-Weleed three. These streets have likewise their subdivisions and chiefs, but live amicably with one another, so far as I could judge. The people generally are very shy of conversing with strangers about their ancient immemorial feuds. I could only learn from the young men that in times past the two factions fought together with arms, and "some dreadful deeds were done." My taleb only wrote the following when I asked him to give some historical information respecting these factions:—"The Ben Weleed and the Ben Wezeet are people of Ghadames, who have quarrelled from time immemorial: it was the will of God they should be divided, and who shall resist his will? Yâkob, be content to know this!"

But the Rais boasts of having done something to mitigate the mutual antipathies of the factions. "The Shamātah, between them," he says, "has had its neck broken." And really, if it be the case, there is in this some compensation for the wrongs and miseries which the Turks are inflicting upon an impoverished and over burthened people. In other parts of Northern Sahara similar factions exist, often arising from chance divisions of towns. There is a similar division of the town of Ghabs in Tunis, but not carried to such extreme lengths as these factions of Ghadames. It would seem that society could not exist without party and divisions no more than a British Parliament. Even Scripture intimates there must be strifes and divisions.

Many came to me to hear the news from Tripoli and[193] Algeria. I found them all interested in the fate and fortunes of the latter country. Some vague rumours had reached them of serious and bloody skirmishes. I calmed them, telling them "all people were on an equal footing in Algeria, Christians as Mussulmans, even as Mussulmans were in our British India." Some doubted my information. Late in the evening, when the visitors of the Rais had retired, I had a tête-à-tête with his Excellency. Speaking of the Ghadamseeah, his Excellency said, "They are ignorant and know not the tareek (i. e., system) of the Sultan; they magnify every trifle of news they hear, and are now alive to every change, and in feverish expectation of some new event." This is always the case with the oppressed; they must love change, if but for the worse. His Excellency then continued: "Since the forced contribution of fifty thousand dollars, no money is to be found. The money due for the past four months is still uncollected." Speaking of the bandits, his Excellency said, "The Pasha has written to me that he cannot allow me, or the Commandant of The Mountains, to march out against the Sebâah or Shânbah, without an order from the Sultan, but with such an order we could soon exterminate them." Our Rais does not entirely neglect the intellectual edification of his Desert subjects. This evening, early, he amused them with talking about steamboats, or "boats of fire." I put in a word about railroads, telling them with a railway we could come from Tripoli to Ghadames in two days. "The Christians know all things but God," said a Marabout.

20th.—Weather is now cool, and I can walk about the gardens at mid-day without inconvenience. I enjoy this much, amusing myself with throwing stones at the[194] ripe dates, which fall in luscious clusters into one's mouth. Eating fruit in the gardens or from the trees is also a peculiar delight enjoyed by people of all countries and climates. Several of the people are so ignorant of printing that they call my newspapers letters, and this is natural enough, as there are no other but manuscript books amongst them.—‮سمعان الابرص‬, "Simon the Leper" (Matt. xxvi.). It is usual here to distinguish people in this way: as "Mohammed, the one-eyed," "Ahmed, the lame-with-one-leg," and "Mustapha, the red-beard." So the famous pirate of the Mediterranean was called "Barbarossa." The people are not at all ashamed of being called by their natural deformities, as we are in Europe. ‮قمقم‬ is one of the numerous words in Arabic where the sound corresponds with the sense. Ghemghem is, "to murmur," and the English word itself is not a bad example of the kind. The Mussulmans have very grotesque notions of the Christian doctrine of Trinity. A person said: "Do not the Christians say God has a Son?" "Yes," I replied. The rejoinder was, "That is making God like a bullock (‮بقر‬)!" My friend the Touatee, a native of Touat, tells me the Touaricks were originally from Timbuctoo, and so say all Touat Touaricks. The ghafalah just arrived from Tripoli has brought eighty camel-loads of barley. Observed the head of the little son of the Touarick bandit. Fancied it was really the infantile cast of such a parent's head. This is the danger of the science, prejudicing you in such matters.

Apparently, what little thieving there is going on here is committed by the Arabs and slaves. There are three or four of these latter most determined date stealers.[195] One of these slaves was brought up yesterday and received two hundred bastinadoes; but it had not much effect upon him. When these offenders become incurable, the Rais packs them off to Tripoli. A very good plan, which keeps the country free of offences of petty larceny. However, many of these slaves steal because they have not enough to eat: thus we come to the old circle again, that poverty is the mother of crime. So is it with the Arabs and slaves of Ghadames. The slaves are mostly devout, if not fanatic Mussulmans. They have a right to be fanatical, for their religion is a great protection to them. Their masters, not like the Christian slave-masters of the Southern States of America, who close the Bible against the slave, are also proud of the fanaticism of their slaves, and teach them verses of the Koran. The slave's conception of the dogmas of his religion is slow and confused. My Negro Said is a good Mussulman, and keeps his fast well, but I never yet caught him at his prayers, nor does he go much to the mosque. Yesterday I came suddenly upon two youngsters, the Rais's slaves, who at mid-day were devouring roasted locusts and drinking water, in the style of sumptuous feasting. I called out, "Holloa! how now? are you feasting or fasting?" They began laughing and then handed me some roast locusts, to bribe me not to blab. My taleb caught a slave in my house eating also roasted locusts, and asked him if he should like to be roasted in hell-fire?

21st.—The old blind man is the most regular patient. The novelty of being doctored or quacked by a Christian is wearing away. Wrote to-day to Mr. Gagliuffi, British Vice-Consul of Mourzuk. Said, in visiting his friends,[196] for he has now his circle, brought me a present of Danzagou, in Arabic Kashkash. This is a seed of the size of a large hip, and of a beautiful scarlet colour; it is used sometimes as medicine, mostly for necklace beads, and is native of Soudan, where it abounds. He also brought some Morrashee, in Arabic Jidglan. This is a species of millet, a product of Soudan. The Blacks, Moors, and Arabs all eat it with gusto. There are several varieties of edible seed brought over The Desert from Soudan, chiefly as Saharan luxuries. Had a long conversation with the people of the Ben-Weleed, and found them extremely sociable. One of them had been to Leghorn, and described the houses as seven stories high, and the port free. These were his strongest impressions. It is worth observing here the universal freemasonry of the mercantile spirit. As a merchant, he could understand and recollect a free-port in any part of the world. The honour of this anecdote have the Leaguers.

A man showed me a sore place on his arm, which he called Arak[30]-El-Abeed (‮عرك العبيد‬). This was a large raised pimple, in the centre of which was an opening, and from which aperture there issued from time to time a very fine worm, like the finest silk-thread, and sometimes not much thicker than a spider's web, in small detached lengths. This worm is often of the enormous length of twenty yards, gradually oozing out piecemeal. It is a common disease of Soudan where the merchants[197] catch the infection, and bring it over The Desert. It is said to be acquired principally by drinking the waters of that country.

By the wars before the occupation of the Turks, Tripoli had become exhausted of its wealth, and its trade and agriculture were at the lowest ebb. The country was divided into two armed factions of the ancient family, money was borrowed at the most extravagant, and sometimes 500 per cent. interest, and the jewels of the ancient family were bartered away for arms and provisions, to carry on the war. A large collection of splendid diamonds were sold for something like an old song. Most of these got into the hands of Europeans. I saw some in the hands of an European gentleman, who assured me that he had been fortunate enough to get them for a fourth, and some of them for a seventh, of their value. When the Turks usurped the Government, such was the condition of the country. But they had also to put down a formidable rebellion of the Arabs, which occupied several years of exterminating war. This gave the coup de grâce to the unfortunate Regency of Tripoli, and plunged it into complete ruin. There was, however, one city, far in The Desert, which appeared unaffected by these sanguinary and wasting revolutions—the holy-merchant-marabout city of Ghadames! the pacific character of whose inhabitants seemed to place it without the pale of such dire turmoils. But the Turks (the war with the Arabs ended, and at leisure) began to look about, and thought they saw an Eldorado looming beautifully in the mirage of The Desert, which would speedily replenish their exhausted treasures, and put the Government of Tripoli in easy[198] pecuniary circumstances. A pretext was soon found to excavate in this newly discovered Desert mine. "The people of Ghadames," said the Pashas of Tripoli, "are rebels—they sympathized with the Arabs—they did not come forward to help us to exterminate the Arabs—they must now pay for their disaffection." A forced contribution was therefore immediately levied upon them of 50,000 mahboubs and upwards, and the women and children were stripped of their gold and silver ornaments, and houses ransacked, to make up the amount at once. Ten thousand mahboubs were also demanded annually. This new demand threw the city into consternation, and the men brought out the women and the children into the streets, who fell upon their faces before the officers of the Pasha, and implored them not to deprive their wives and children of bread. It was at last settled they should pay 6,250 mahboubs, as an annual contribution. Under the Caramanly dynasty they paid only some 850 mahboubs per annum, besides being left to the uncontrolled management of their own affairs. Now, whilst the people are complaining of the large amount of taxation imposed upon them, and pleading their impossibility to pay up arrears—in this irritable state of things—an order comes from Ahmed Effendi in The Mountains, to collect an additional contribution of 3,225 mahboubs, under the pretext of its being wanted to maintain troops in Fezzan, and keep open the communications of commerce. This intelligence has so completely astounded the few remaining merchants who have any money, that they nearly lost their senses, yesterday and to-day, being very ill, and unable to attend to their ordinary business. The money for the last four months[199] is not yet collected, and the people say they cannot pay up. Our Rais has three times represented to the Pasha the inability of the people, but the answer always is, "money must be had." I expect to witness some cruel scenes of extortion practised before I leave this place, like what I saw in The Mountains. I observe now the Rais can't keep a respectable collector. No native of Ghadames will collect for him. Sometimes he sends the Arab soldiers, who abuse the defaulters. Once an Arab soldier got hold of a poor man in the street, an acquaintance of mine, to drag him off before the Rais. I told him to stop a moment, and then having ascertained how much it was—about one shilling and eight-pence—paid the money and got the poor fellow clear this time. Sheikh Makouran is a true patriot. Whenever he sees anybody dragged off in this way through the streets, in spite of the Governor, and his being a member of the Divan, he takes upon himself to impede the course of justice (extortion?), abuses with all his might the officer, and if he can't rescue the defaulter, pays the money himself: so strives for public liberty this Hampden of The Desert!

To-day, had a proof of the rancorous enmity of the ancient factions. A merchant of the Ben Welleed, who wished to visit me, said, "I must come round the city, for I don't know the streets of the Ben Wezeet. Thank God! I never went through them in my life." This he said with vehemence, intimating that he never would enter the streets of the Ben Wezeet as long as he lived. A ghafalah has arrived from the oases of Fezzan, bringing corn and dates, productions abundant in those countries.[200]

22nd.—Weather continues cool. Few more patients. Present of dates from one of them. Very little meat now killed in Ghadames, less and less every day. What will become of this once flourishing city it is hard to tell. The prejudices of the people against the residence of an European in this city have apparently disappeared; people are increasingly civil; many would willingly look upon me as their protector, were I made Consul, but unfortunately for them, I am not ambitious of, nor have any inclination for, the honour.

This morning heard a curious opinion about Younas, or Jonas (Jonah), for the Arabs, like the Greeks[31], sometimes change the last letter of the Hebrew ה into a Σ. Probably they got their traditions through the Greeks or the Greek language. I was talking with a taleb about longevity, when he observed, "There is but one person who is always alive." "Who is that?" I inquired very anxiously. "It is our lord Jonas, who is living in distant and unknown parts of the world," he said. "Is he alone?" I further inquired. "No," he added, "he has with him a hundred thousand people, who live to a great age, but who at last die, whilst he is always living. Then as to Jesus, the son of Mary, he also never died, and went up to heaven alive. The Jews (the curse of God upon them!) only killed his likeness." I have always observed these mysterious events to transpire in some unknown and distant part of the world, and took the liberty of telling this taleb that the "smoke-ships" (steamers) could soon make every place in the world near and known, and then we might find out the resi[201]dence of Jonah as well as the captivity of the ten tribes. The story of the ten tribes is pretty well known. A Maroquine rabbi told me they are somewhere about the regions of Gog and Magog, in Central Asia, situate in a country where there is a river running perpetually six days out of seven, very rapid and full of stones, so that they cannot pass it and return to the Holy Land. On the seventh it stops, when it might be passed, but on the Sabbath day the law does not permit them to travel. This is the Barbary version. Central Asia is still the land of mysteries for both Jews and Mohammedans. The Russians have done little to dispel these mysteries, if they have not tried to envelop these lands in profounder obscurity, for political purposes; but had we been established in Affghanistan, we might have discovered Jibel Kaf, the retreat of Gog and Magog, the strange stony river, the ten tribes, and all the other objects of Jewish and Mohammedan superstition. But as with the famous gardens of the Hesperides, the abode of perfectly happy mortals, which were shifted farther and farther from actual observation by the progress of ancient discovery, so the mysterious retreat of the ten tribes and the ever-living Jonas will be transferred to other unknown lands when modern discovery shall have exhausted Central Asia.

Met Sheikh Makouran: asked him what was to be done to meet the extraordinary contribution. He said he couldn't tell, people had no money: Rais had so written to Tripoli, but was reprimanded by the Pasha. Advised him to send a deputation to the Pasha, or the British Consul-General. Had another example of the bad system of collecting monies, as often in Mahometan[202] States, by means of common soldiers. These fellows do all the dirty jobs, everything necessary in the way of extortion; the more respectable officials shun these disagreeable transactions, especially if they be natives of the place where the taxes are collected. A great disturbance was in the streets, the people almost fighting with these extortioner ruffians. Going farther on, something absolutely ludicrous happened. The soldiers could not read, no person would read their papers for them, and they could not find out the person on whom they were to make their demands, although the parties were actually present. They then came to me to read their papers. I asked them, "Whether they thought it showed any of the friendship which they professed towards me to embroil me with the people of the country, whose hospitality I was receiving?" They were so convinced of the justice of my appeal, that they went off without replying. A Ghadamsee peasant called to me, "Yâcob, you must be our Consul!"

Afternoon, Essnousee left for Ghat. Being extremely attached to this merchant, I went to see him off. About thirty of the Ben Weleed (for he is of this faction) accompanied him, the most respectable of this division of the the city; I was glad to see a person, in whom hereafter I might have to place implicit confidence, so much esteemed. His friends set to and loaded his camel before starting, as many as could find any thing, each taking an article of harness or equipment. This I observed often afterwards. It is reckoned friendly. By such conduct they show they are willing to render all the assistance in their power to their friend. I continued on the route of Ghat with Essnousee half an hour[203] or more, bade him farewell and returned. His brothers and a slave left him with me. The merchant then proceeded on his desert journey of some fifteen or twenty days absolutely alone, for he had only a Touarick camel-driver. This demonstrates the security of the route. I said to the people afterwards, "Is he not afraid to go alone?" "No," was the answer, "they will only meet Touaricks, and these are our friends. You have only to pay a small trifle of toll in different parts of the route and you are quite safe. Sometimes you don't pay this." Essnousee will reach Ghat in twelve, whilst a quick caravan requires from eighteen to twenty days. With first-rate camels the journey could be performed in eight or ten days. Strange infatuation! I felt an almost irrepressible desire to accompany Essnousee as I was, and to plunge anew into all the hardships and dangers of The Desert. But such is man, a creature of daring or absurd impulses! and the more he moves, and roams, and rambles, the more (in modern phrase) locomotive he is—the less he likes repose, and seeks unceasingly such perilous stimulants. Observed, on returning, amongst the loose stones scattered upon the surface of The Desert, a great quantity of rubbish, like brick-bats thrown out from a brick-kiln, giving the face of the ground a burnt and volcanic appearance. Picked some up and could hardly believe but what they were burnt bricks. The Ben Weleed, who accompanied Essnousee, instead of the short and direct road through the streets of the Ben Wezeet, took a circuitous route round the inner walls of the city to arrive at the gate of departure, showing me how great was still the force of these factions. Essnousee himself told me he never went through the streets of the Ben[204] Wezeet, nor did he expect he ever should in this world.

24th.—Yesterday and to-day employed in writing for the Shantah (Turkish, for mail). Rais in a good humour this evening. Two camels came in from The Sahara, one day's journey, laden with wood for the Rais. His Excellency offered some to me. The fact is, I purchased a camel-load a few days ago, and his Excellency's servants had nearly begged it all away. People generally burn dried and dead branches of the palm, which, in this season, is abundant. It is not good fire-wood; there is plenty of flame and smoke, but little heat. Said, on my return from the Rais, assures me he has heard from his visitors, the Touarick slaves, that now the Touaricks do not beat their slaves, but esteem all men souwa, souwa, ("equal"); it was not so in former times. Free and enlightened America may have yet to learn lessons of freedom and humanity from the savages of The Sahara!

Purchased a Thob[32], a species of large lizard. It is common in The Sahara. The Touaricks eat them, and say they are medicine for a pain or weakness in the back. This may have been surmised from the ideal resemblance between the strength of their backs, which is scaly and bony, and strongly bound together, and the strength it is likely to communicate unto persons having a weak or crippled spine. They are pretty good eating, and taste something like the kid of the goat; the tail is esteemed the greatest delicacy. I tasted of this which I bought, and liked it. There is no lizard of this species in Soudan. A Touarick told me that, having found one[205] in The Desert, he carried it to Soudan, where a Negro prince fell in love with it, and gave him for it the present of a young female slave. The Arabs tame the Thob, and he grows very fond. Some of them are very large. This I purchased is only twenty inches in length, and about ten round the thickest part of the body. The head is large and tortoise-shaped, with a small mouth. It is covered with scales, or "scaly mail," and its tail is about four inches long, composed of a series of broad thick and sharp bones. It has four feet, or rather hands, for, as the Arabs say, "It has hands like Ben-Adam (mankind)." All the body, back and flanks, are covered by shining scales, of the colour of a darked-spotted grey, with spots white and light under the belly. It runs very awkwardly on account of its bulky tail, and to look at is a miniature aligator or crocodile. It is almost harmless, fighting a little now and then; its appearance, however, is rather forbidding. It hides in the dry sandy holes of The Sahara. A drop of water, say the Arabs, would hurt it. The traditions of the Mohammedans mention that Mahomet did not himself eat the Thob, at the same time he did not prohibit it to his followers. The Saharan merchants, in traversing The Desert, frequently make a good meal of the Thob. Whilst talking of the Thob, the people said the flesh of parrots was poison for Ben-Adam.

25th.—Another of my patients dead, of a raging fever caught, it is said, "by sleeping on the top of the house in the open air." The moon struck him, they say. According to the Psalms, "The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night."

They let him remain seven days without sending for[206] me, when it was too late to administer my fever powders. I fetched an old gentleman who could bleed to have him bled, but they refused, saying it was now late. The old blood-letter vexed at their refusal, said, "Well, if I mustn't bleed him, let me pray for him;" and, immediately offered up a short prayer, in which they all joined willingly. On telling a Ghadamsee I ate some Thob, he said, "Ah, that's forbidden; the Thob was formerly a human being, before it had its present shape. Don't you see its hands are still human?" The notion of the transmigration of souls lingers in these parts, but it is a doctrine not generally received. I observed this man afterwards fattening his sheep with date-stones, broken into small pieces. Almost every family, however small, have their sheep to fatten. Pounded date-stones are also given to camels for fattening. Writing for amusement with my taleb, I recollected a verse in the Koran, which I wrote:—

‮ارسلناك الّا رحمة للعلمين‬

This filled him with surprise and horror, and he immediately scratched it out, as too pure and holy a thing to be in the possession of an Infidel. The translation is:—"We (God) have sent thee (Mahomet) only for mercy to mankind;" or, "Thy mission to man, O Mahomet! is only mercy." Such credit all impostors and pretenders to revelation claim for themselves, and such an object they declare to be the end of their mission, although at the same time, and in the same breath, they don't forget to doom all those who reject their authority to perdition. This, it would seem, is a necessary evil in propagating new religions and new sects. But enough of this—may[207] the world grow more kindly—let us hope it will. This morning arrived a single Arab from Fezzan. It would appear extreme hardihood when we reflect, that for nine days, there is not a house, and scarcely a resting-place. The Arab was mounted on a camel. This arrival, as Essnousee's departure, shows the security of the routes in some directions. The Arab told me he made his journey in nine days, and stopped occasionally on the road to sleep and refresh himself. In the night he tied his camel's leg to his own leg, so that if it attempted to stray, it would awake him.

Nothing new with Rais. Speaking of the Arabs, he says, "You know Arabs to be very devils. There are two ways to consider Arabs, but whichever way they are robbers and assassins. When they are famished, they plunder in order to eat; when their bellies are full, they plunder because they kick and are insolent. Now, we (Turks) keep them upon low diet in The Mountains; they have little, and always a little food. This is the Sultan's tareek (government) to manage them. Their spirits are kept down and broken, and they are submissive." He then told me he had held a Divan to obtain the extra contribution of 3,200 mahboubs, for the Pasha; but the people protested they could not pay such an amount. I wrote a letter to Colonel Warrington, stating this circumstance, and asked him if he could assist the people in any way. I thought it a bare possibility that the hand of foreign diplomacy might be stretched out to save this city, which had flourished in the pursuits of its own peaceful commerce for more than a thousand years. . . . To mitigate the apparent harshness of his demand, the Rais observed, that before the Sultan occupied[208] Ghadames, the country between this and Tripoli was full of banditti. "The Arabs of The Mountains," he added, "were all banditti, those amongst whom you resided eight days. The Touaricks were not so bad, they generally protected Ghadamsee merchants. Now since the Sultan, there are only the Shânbah and the Sebâah, therefore the Ghadamseeah must pay." So, Audi alteram partem.

26th.—To-day, resident thirty days in Ghadames which time I have certainly not lost. Written a good deal of MS., such as it is, and several letters; besides, applied myself to reading and writing Arabic. Likewise distributed medicines to a considerable number of invalids. Wish to pass the next month as profitably as the month gone. My expenses of living, including a guard to sleep in the house at night, and Said, are only at the rate of eighteen-pence per day; this, however, excludes tea, coffee, and sugar. Besides, Sheikh Makouran refuses to take anything for house-rent, saying, "It would be against the will of God to receive money from you, who are our sure friend, and our guest of hospitality." Few patients, in comparison with the past. As the winter approaches, the cases of ophthalmia are less. In the precipitation of leaving Tripoli, brought little ink with me, and most of that I gave away; so am obliged to go about the town to beg a little. The custom is, when one person wants ink, he begs it of another. Went to Ben Weleed, who procured me a supply.

My intercourse has been mostly with Ben Wezeet, but to day I visited Ben Weleed at the Bab-Es-Sagheer, ("the little gate,") or the Bab-Es-Saneeah, ("the gate of the garden,") where there were about forty of the[209] most respectable of this faction assembled in a sort of gossiping divan amongst themselves. They told me they met here every morning, and chatted over the news of the previous day. Usually they meet just after sunrise, and certainly in this way they pass a cool and fragrant hour, full of the odoriferous breathings of the gardens as the day is awakening. I asked one, who were the richer, the Weleed or the Wezeet? He replied, with an honourable frankness, "The Wezeet." Observed many of the men had their eyelids blackened, like the women, with Kohel[33], and also their finger-nails and toe-nails dyed dark-red with henna[34]. I confessed I was surprised at this monstrous effeminacy. One of these lady-gentlemen was the son of the powerful Ettanee family; he was brought up to the Church, and of great promise, bidding fair to be future Kady or Archbishop. He put a curious question to me, "How much is the expense of a journey from Malta to Constantinople?" When I satisfied him, he said, "I shall go and buy some slaves at Ghat, and then convey them to Constantinople. Don't you think I shall make money by it?" I told him he would not find anybody at Malta to convey slaves to Constantinople; and if he took them there, they would be set at liberty, for a slave once touching British territory became free. To this he replied only, "I know—I knew before." I was extremely glad he did know it. It is strange to see a young man of this description so avariciously turn himself[210] into a slave-dealer, but Mohammedan priests frequently trade.

Marabouts in The Mountains are mostly camel-drivers; and the greater part of priests, marabouts, and kadys perform sacred duties gratis. An order of priesthood exists, though it is not kept up very distinctly from laymen, but it is an honour to them, "to work in the service of God for nothing," and is worthy of the imitation of Christians. My new clerical friend gave me a dissertation upon things having two names, a classical one and a vulgar one. The Kohel is also called Athmed, ‮اثمد‬, which is its classical name. Senna is called hasheeshah, ‮حشيشه‬, literally "herbs," its vulgar name, and ‮سنا حرم‬, "senna of Mecca," (literally, of the inviolable,) which is its classical name. A little senna is found casually in the gardens of Ghadames; but the country of Senna, in The Sahara, is Aheer, where it is cultivated by the Touaricks. He pointed out to me the Tout, (‮توت‬,) the small white mulberry, which is planted in little squares of the city. Speaking of the Touaricks, he said: "These people are getting dissatisfied with us. Formerly we paid them better; but being robbed of our money by the Turks, we can't give them much. They smell also a disagreeable odour now. Formerly they came in and went out our city as a garden." "What odour is that?" I asked. "It's that Rais," he whispered in my ear. The fact is, the Touaricks felt themselves more at home before the Turks came here, which everybody can imagine.


This afternoon, whilst talking with the people about their antiquities, one of them said, "There are some figures remaining." I immediately asked him to show them to me. The youngster volunteered; and, to my[211] great joy, I was taken off to a garden, where I saw the bas-relief drawn above. I then thought about getting it in a quiet way to my house; so I went up to the owner of the garden in which it lay, and said to him in a very careless, indifferent manner, "What's the good of the stone to you—you may give it me; perhaps it will be of some use." The man replied at once, "Aye, Christian, take it." The youngster, who was a stout fellow, brought it off forthwith upon his head. I followed him in secret triumph, thinking myself very fortunate; for if any noise had been made, I should have had to pay several dollars for it, whatever might have been its real value, and, perhaps, not have got it at all. Indeed, some of the people were very jealous; and when I returned, they called out flous! flous! ("money! money!") They thought I had got a rich prize, and I hope I have. I told them, if anybody had any flous, it would be the owner of the garden, who gave me the slab. The sketch represents, apparently, a soldier holding or feeding a horse, but of what age and country I shall not pretend to say, leaving[212] that to antiquarians. It is broken off half, and otherwise pecked and mutilated by the people. It is a pious act of religion to deface stones representing figures of any sort, to decapitate heads of statues, and destroy every shape and symbol of the human likeness, not excepting likenesses of animals. An old Ghadamsee doctor, very fond of me, was, however, extremely glad when he saw me in possession of the slab. He kept saying, "Ah, Yâkob, that's your grandfathers (ancestors). See! isn't it wonderful? Ah, that's your grandfathers of the time of Sidi Nimrod. Take it home with you. Ah, that's your grandfathers!"

This evening, heard that the heads of the people of Ghadames had adopted my suggestion of sending a deputation to Tripoli, to state their inability to meet the new and extraordinary demand of 3,200 mahboubs, the Governor consenting to their determination.

27th.—Weather still cool and pleasant, but the flies are in great numbers, and very disagreeable. Am obliged always to have my room darkened when I write, to keep them from tormenting me. They increase as the dates ripen, and soon after the dates are gathered in, they disappear, and not one is to be found during the winter. Haj Mansour gave me to-day a meneshsha (‮منشّا‬) or fly-flap, made of the long flowing beard of the Wadan. It is a most effective whipper-away of the flies. It instantly disperses them, the fine strong hair of the Wadan's beard hitting them like pins and needles. This species of fly-flap is greatly valued in Soudan, where it sells at a high price. The hairs which are of a dull grey or red brown, are usually dyed with henna when made up into fly-flaps. I expressed myself extremely obliged[213] to the Haj. Wadan (Ar. ‮ودان‬), Oudad (Berber ‮اوداد‬), and English Mouflon, is the name of a species of animals between the goat and the bullock[35]. It is common in the Southern Atlas of Morocco, and is hunted in the neighbouring sands of Ghadames during winter by the Souf Arabs, and brought in and sold for butcher's meat. Wadan is said to be medicine by the people, and tastes like high flavoured coarse venison. Three or four only have been sent to England[36]. Dr. Russell, in his Barbary States, makes it to resemble a calf, but it rather resembles a large goat or a horned sheep. Besides the Wadan and the Thob, Saharan people eat many animals which hungry Europeans might eat, amongst the rest rats and mice, when in good condition. But the mouse is the large mouse of The Sahara. The Rais had a live Wadan which died just before my arrival. He regretted much as he would have given it to me. His Excellency promises to get me one.

Nimrod is always in the mouths of the Ghadamseeah as the founder of their city. They are especially fond of calling him a Christian. He is often called my grandfather, although I have not yet been able to trace my descent in a direct line from so august a progenitor. The European reader recollects where he is mentioned in the Jewish early records,—

‮הוּא הָיָה נִבּר֗־צַיִד לִפְנֵי־יְהוָה‬

"He was a mighty hunter before the Lord." Gen. x. 9. In the Arabic translation the word employed for[214] "mighty" is the same as that of the Hebrew, i. e. ‮جبّار‬ the ‮ج‬ representing the ‮ג‬, omitting any word to correspond with ‮ציד‬; but the Moors understand generally by the term ‮جبّار‬, "a tyrant" and "a conqueror." So Hammoudah Bashaw, the great Bey of Tunis, is called by a faithful Tunisian historian of that country, a ‮جبّار‬. But, perhaps, in those remote times, the hunter and the tyrant, as in the Roman Commodus, were joined in one and the same person. Certainly this is the natural sense of the combination of the terms ‮גבר־ציד‬. To this might easily be added man-hunter and slave-maker, a worthy attribute of Nimrod. The gentlemen of the turf, of the Bentinck school, ought, however to protest against this supposition. Properly Nimrod is the Hercules of the Moors of North Africa. According to them he emerged from the East, overran and founded several cities in The Sahara, conquered all before him, put his feet upon the neck of all nations, and then passed the Straits of the Roman and Grecian Hercules, and built the far-famed Andalous (Spain), as also Paris and London, and no doubt planted the germ of the future courses of Epsom and Ascot, of which he is in our day made the mighty patron and the ruling god[37].


After Nimrod the people are very fond of talking about Enoch, who is called in the Koran Edrees (‮ادريس‬). My taleb says that he did not undergo the penalty of nature, but was translated, as, indeed, it is recorded of him in our sacred books. My taleb adds, "Enoch was a tailor, and one day the devil came to him and offered to sell him some eggs, declaring that in the eggs the whole world was included. Enoch rejoined, 'Also in the[216] eye of my needle is the whole world comprehended.' Immediately the eggs began to expand, and although really empty, swelled out as wide as the arms when outstretched. Enoch seeing this was all imposition, to punish the impostor, sewed up one of the devil's eyes, who went off in a great rage. The needle of Enoch was nevertheless all powerful, and the devil has gone about with one eye ever since." My taleb asked me whether I ever heard of Noah. I opened the Arabic Bible and read some passages about the Flood. "Yes," he said, "Seedna (our lord) Noah was a carpenter (‮نجّار‬) because he built the ship (‮الفلك‬). I am also a carpenter. I will show you my collection of tools. But I don't work now at this trade, except for my amusement." The people know many of the common trades which they exercise occasionally as amateurs.

Nothing puzzles the Touaricks and Negroes so much as my gloves. Am obliged to put them on and off frequently a dozen times a day, for their especial gratification. My Leghorn hat, on the contrary, here, as in The Mountains, is an object of admiration, on account of the fineness of the platting. It astonishes them how it could be done. The large straw hats, with huge broad brims, worn in The Desert, are all of the coarsest texture.

This morning made inquiries of the Touaricks respecting serpents in The Desert. Could obtain but little information, the notions of the Saharan tribes in general being very confused about serpents. All serpents go under the name of lefâah (‮لفعة‬). But other names are in use here, as ‮حنش حية‬ &c., which apparently are the[217] generic names. The boah mentioned by Dr. Russell I have not heard of. One of the Touaricks, however, described to me a serpent as being nearly as thick round as a man's body, but not more than three feet in its greatest length. This serpent has also large horns. It is not at all dangerous. There is a much longer serpent or snake, but not more than four inches round in thickness, which is dangerous. If we are to believe Mr. Jackson, the southern part of Morocco abounds with monstrous serpents, but in all my route through The Sahara, I met with none, nor heard of any. It is a very old trick of the poets and retailers of the marvellous to people The Desert with dragons, and serpents, and monsters of every kind. We know that on the banks of the Majerdah an enormous serpent stopped the progress of the army of Regulus. Batouta, also, who flourished in the fourteenth century, pretends that "The Desert is full of serpents." Even Caillié, who saw neither lions nor elephants, or very few animals of any sort, says, when at the wells of Amoul-Gragim, "My rest was disturbed by the appearance of a serpent, five feet and a-half long and as thick as the thigh of a boy twelve years old. My travelling companions also experienced similar visits." If this report be correct, it evidently refers to the harmless lefâah mentioned by the Touarick. At the ruins of Lebida, on the coast of Tripoli, an unusual number of large snakes were seen this year (1845), mounting upon and twining round the broken shafts of pillars still standing, as if at the command of some invisible jinn; but they were all perfectly harmless. The jugglers were catching them, to exhibit their forky[218] tongues and snaky folds, as venomous and deadly, to the marvel-loving crowd. The lion of The Desert is a myth. The king of beasts never leaves his rich domain, the thick forest and pouring cascade, where water and animals of prey abound, for the naked, arid, sandy, and rocky wastes of The Sahara. The ancients and moderns, however, have persisted in representing Africa, not only as a country full of monsters, but "always producing some new monster,—"

Semper aliquid novi Africam afferre[38],

all which is either entirely incorrect or a monstrous exaggeration. It would have been very nice to fight one's way through The Desert in the midst of every kind of beast and monster which the gloomy imagination of men may have conjured up from the beginning of the annals of adventure and travel; this would have made these pages undoubtedly very "stirring and exciting." Happily Providence has not filled up those vast spaces which separate Northern and Central Africa with such hideous tenants! Sufficient are the evils of The Desert to the wayfarer who sojourns therein.

In the evening, had a long conversation with a group of people. The subjects, in which they all felt more than ordinary curiosity, were, the new world of America, Australia, the Pacific, and the whales in it, and the gold and silver mines of South America, &c. The number of sheep, also, in Australia, amazed them, in comparison with the few wandering scattered flocks in The[219] Desert. I am become a walking gazette amongst the people, and ought to be dubbed "Geographer of The Desert." They also question me on the relative forces of the Christian Powers, and have a great idea of the military strength of France. The capture of Algiers has produced a vivid and lasting impression of the French power throughout all North Africa. They consider England the great power on the sea, and France on the land. I have, besides, to tell them of the population of all the world, and to answer a thousand other questions. Sometimes their conversation, after being exceedingly animated, falls into unbroken and moody silence, and they recline for hours, without moving a muscle of the face or uttering a syllable. Indolence is the besetting sin of the Saharan tribes. It is also the same in Tripoli. Col. Warrington, in reporting upon the Tripolines, says:—"Whether the extraordinary indolence of the people proceeds from the climate, or want of occupation, I know not, but they are in an horizontal position twenty hours out of the twenty-four, sleeping in the open air." In this temperate season of the year, the Ghadamsees might find useful and healthful occupation in the gardens, but they are so confoundedly lazy that they won't stir, and what work really is done is performed by slaves. Such people deserve to starve. Caillié says:—"The Mandingoes would rather go without food part of the day than work in the fields; they pretend that labour would take off their attention to the Koran, which is a very specious excuse for laziness." Like most people in Central Africa, all their hard work is done by the poor slaves. The Ghadamsee people have, however,[220] the excuse that, being a city of merchants, their object is repose when they return from long journeys.

Paid a visit to Rais; presented to his Excellency one of my best razors, with which he was highly delighted. Saw plenty of my acquaintances, all pleased with the Ramadan being about to terminate. Few patients.


[30] The Arabic ‮عرك‬ seems to be used for a pustule or small tumour. The term is applied to the tumour of a camel. There is also the term ‮عرق‬, "decayed flesh or bone."

[31] ‮يونس‬, Ἰωνας. Esaias is changed in the same way.

[32] ‮الضب‬, Thob—monitor: probably, monitor pulchra.

[33] ‮كحل‬, Kohel, "powder of lead," name derived from the epithet "black."

[34] ‮حنّا‬, Henna, "Lawsonia alba," Law. The Henna shrub is cultivated in irrigated fields at Ghabs (Tunis), and is a source of wealth.

[35] It is the Ovis Tragelaphus of Zoologists.

[36] I was fellow-passenger from Mogador with the male oudad, now at the Royal Zoological Gardens. He is a very fine animal, but has but one eye.

[37] The foundation of Nimrod's reputation was laid in the East, many curious facts of which have been preserved in Armenian tradition. The Armenian Bishop, Dr. Nerses Lazar, says, for the benefit of all England, (See his Scriptural and Analogical Conversations on the Physical and Moral World with reference to an Universal Commercial Harmony, published by Bentley, London, 1846):—"In the second age of the world, just on entering the second century, Nimrod began to be a mighty one in the earth; he was the first great warrior, conqueror, or most severe governor. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord, by which means he became a mighty monarch. For he inured himself to labour by this toilsome exercise, and got together a great company of young robust men to attend him in this sport; who were hereby also fitted to pursue men as they had done wild beasts. (Here the Free Kirk will find the beginning of the system which they are patronizing in Yankee Land.) Besides, in the age of Nimrod, the exercise of hunting might win him the hearts of men, whom he thus delivered from wild beasts, to which they were much exposed in their rude and unprotected way of living; so that many at last joined him in the great designs he formed of subduing men, and making himself master of the neighbouring people in Babylon, Susiana, and Assyria. The memory of this hunting of his was preserved by the Assyrians, who made Nimrod the same as Orion, for they joined the dog and the hare, the first creature perhaps that he hunted, with his constellation. He first erected Babylon, and Assyria is called the land of Nimrod, &c., &c. He began to exalt himself, and he is called Bel from his dominions, and Nimrod from his rebellion (against God)." The worthy prelate goes on giving a very long affair about the father of huntsmen and jockies. Nimrod has come up again in this our year of 1847. The French and English antiquarians and excavators have dug him up, and all his splendid posterity from the banks of the Euphrates at the Bir-el-Nimroud. The Royal Asiatic Society no doubt will soon find his mark, or cross, His Turfy Highness not being expected to be a letterato, in Cuneiform, wedge-shaped or arrow-headed characters upon the unbaked or sun-dried bricks thrown out of the famous Nineveh mound, so that at last Nimroud will have full justice done him by a grateful posterity.

[38] Pliny. This vulgar error of antiquity is cited from the Greek of Aristotle. Λεγεται δε τις παροιμα ὁτι αει τι Λιβυη καινον.




The Shâanbah and Banditti of The Desert.—Native Plays and Dances of Ghadamsee Slaves.—Aâween, or Square of Springs.—The Women of Ghadames, their Habits and Education.—The Ghadamsee and Berber, or Numidian Languages.—Varieties of People and Population of Ghadames.—Charge of corrupting the Scriptures.—Ben Mousa Ettanee.—The Bishop of Gibraltar.—Continue teaching Geography.—Ruin of the Country.—Approaching end of the World.—Seeing the New Moon.—My Taleb disputes about Religion.—Movements of Banditti.—The small Force by which the Turks hold Tripoli.


28th.Heard the Shâanbah—‮شعانبة‬—and Touaricks are about to have a set-to. Last year they had a skirmish, and the Touaricks killed about eighty of the Shâanbah. These latter are going to avenge their defeat; they will attack the open districts, and then proceed to Ghat. The Shâanbah inhabit a desert of sand in the neighbourhood of Warklah—‮وارقلة‬—about fifteen days from Ghadames, and four from Souf. They are independent tribes, but small in number, not more than from five to six hundred. Nominally, however, they are located in French Algerian territory. They have been celebrated from time immemorial as the robbers and assassins of The Desert—to be a brigand is, with them, an hereditary honour—and they are equally the dread of the people of Warklah, whose neighbours they are, as of stranger merchants and caravans. They have a well of water scooped out in the sandy regions where their tents are pitched, and here they live in a horrid[222] security, defying all law and authority, human and divine, and all the neighbouring Powers. Around them is an immensity of sandy wastes, and none dare pursue them to their abhorred dens. Horses, indeed, would be useless; and camels might wander for months without water, and perish before coming upon their hiding places in these dreadful regions. "Two hundred men would require four hundred camels, eight hundred water-skins, and provisions for two months," says the Rais, "and therefore we must leave them to be exterminated by time." Unfortunately, they are recruited from the bad characters of the Souafah, a kindred tribe of Arabs, and other outlaws. The Shâanbah are the great professional bandits of the North, but there are some other fragmentary tribes, located on the confines of The Sahara, and the valleys of the Atlas. Particularly I may mention the horde of brigands of Wady-es-Sour, which infest the routes between Touat and Tafilelt. But this horde is more placable, and mostly, after levying black-mail, will allow a caravan to pass uninterruptedly on its way. The expedition of the Shâanbah will take place after Ramadan, for, like the story of the Spanish assassins, who, being too early to enter the house of an unfortunate victim, went in the meanwhile to the matins which were being celebrated in a neighbouring church, so these pious assassins of The Desert highways will not proceed to their work of blood and slaughter until the fast of Ramadan is concluded. The Shâanbah and Touaricks are, besides, national enemies as to blood, the former being pure Arab, and the latter of the Berber, or aboriginal stock of North Africa. The Shâanbah have for arms common matchlocks, and a few horses in addition to[223] their camels. The Touaricks have the spear, dagger, the straight broad sword, and a few matchlocks and pistols, it is said, and all are mounted on camels, so the contest is somewhat differently balanced with regard to the mode of equipment. People speculate as to the success of the parties, but their sympathies are entirely with the Touaricks.

Said comes in blubbering, sympathizing with his countrymen, saying, Rais has been bastinadoing his household slaves, natives of Bornou like himself. Rais certainly ought not to do this, for he does not bastinade his Moors or Arab servants. In the evening I went with Said to see the slaves of Ghadames indulge in their native dances and other plays. These are called ‮لعب العبيل‬ "playing of the slaves." The festival of the evening was "the night of power" (‮ليلة القدر‬), on which the Koran[39] descended from heaven, and the slaves were allowed a holiday in consideration of this solemnity. The slaves danced in a circle around a leader of the dance in the centre. At first, it is a simple walking round, face to back, the legs raised, and a little swinging, and the steps keeping time to the iron castanets fastened on the hands of each. Meanwhile, they sing, and the chorus comes at intervals between the noise of castanets, or finger-clappers. They now turn round and face their leader, some prostrating before him, and others twirling themselves round, but always moving in their circular motion and singing. The tones of their voice[224] are melodious and deep, not the plaintive wearying monotony of the Arabs. Now the sounds increase, the chorus rises higher and higher, the steps fall heavy, like the tread of military, on the ground; and now, sounds, steps, and every noise and movement quickens, until it becomes a frantic rush around their terrified leader, who is at last, as the finish of the dance, overthrown in the wild tumult. . . . . . . Besides the castanets, they have a rude drum, consisting of a piece of skin stretched over the mouth of a large calabash, brought from Soudan, which makes a low hollow sound: to these is added occasionally a rude squeaking hautboy. This circular dance was performed by about thirty male slaves, gaily dressed in their best clothes, and evidently all very happy, in truth, the free blood of their native homes danced through their veins. Aye, the poor slave danced and sung! happier far than his proud and wealthy master, who looked on in moody silence. So God has ordained it to alleviate and balance human miseries. This dance of freedom lasted a full hour, and was very laborious. There were several Negresses near, who answered in shrill voices to the deep choruses of the Negroes, but did not themselves dance. After the circular dance, came off reels of couples. These were danced with great spirit, nay, violence: there was no dancing of a person singly. None of the dancing was indecent, like the Moorish; the lower part of the body and legs now and then assumed steps and positions like the well known Spanish fandango with castanets.

29th.—Weather is now tolerably cool all day long in the city, but not cool enough for agreeable travelling. Sketched to-day the Aâween, ‮اعوين‬, or square of[225] "fountains," which belongs to the faction of the Ben Weleed. A group of fifty persons surrounded me, all clamoring to see what I was doing, and making the funniest observations. They call drawing, writing a thing. One said, "Ah, it is well written, the Christians know everything but God." Another, "Yâkob, shall you give that writing to your Sultan?" From the fountains in this square, which merely run into stone troughs, the camels drink.

Square of Fountains

The white women, or the respectable women of Ghadames, white or coloured, never descend to the streets, nor even go into the gardens around their houses. Their flat-roofed house is their eternal promenade, and their whole world is comprehended within two or three miserable rooms. The date-palms they see, and a few glimpses of The Desert beyond—and this is all. Truly it is necessary to establish an Anti-Slavery Society for the women of this oasis. I have visited a few of them in their[226] private apartments with their husbands, in my capacity of quack-doctor. None of them were fair or beautiful, but some pleasing in their manners, and of elegant shape; they are brunettes, one and all, with occasionally large rolling, if not fiery, black eyes. They are gentle in their manners, and were very friendly to The Christian. Many of them, in spite of their seclusion, shewed extreme intelligence; they are also very industrious. My taleb assured me the little money he got from keeping the register of the distribution of water, and other minor matters, could not keep his family, and his chief support was from the industry of his wife in weaving, whom he highly praised, adding, "God has given me the best wife in Ghadames." Most of the women weave woollens enough for the consumption of their family, and some for sale abroad. The education of women consists in learning by heart certain prayers, portions of the Koran, and legendary traditions of the famous Sunnat. The women are proud of their learning, and the men pride themselves in saying, "Only in this country are women so well instructed!" Besides this, they have the privilege of going to the mosques very early in the morning, and late in the evening, where they say their prayers like men, at least, so I understood from my taleb; but a Christian must not ask questions about women in these countries. The same authority assured me, the women, mostly negresses and half-castes, seen in the streets in the day-time, are slaves, or esteemed as such, the Touarick women excepted. I have no doubt the manners of the women of this city are generally very correct, and as chaste as any women in North Africa. But the Touarick women, especially of the elder sort, are not[227] always exceedingly refined. One morning, going out from my house, I found some seven or eight Touarick women sitting on the stone-bench at the door. They began to laugh and joke with me; at last one of the elder present said, "Now, Christian, give me some money, and then I'll come into your house." At this delicate sally, all expressed their approbation in loud laughter: the half-caste women are much the same. A Moor said something to me, which I did not understand, and then laughed and said, "It is a Negro word," and, lest I should want an interpreter, an half-caste lady present, putting her hand deliberately to something, said, "That's the meaning," repeating the action two or three times. On the whole, however, I have not seen so many cases of indelicacy in this part of the world, as are to be seen almost every day in Paris and London. No, the morals of The Desert are mostly pure and continent as compared to those of our great European cities.

My taleb to-day made a vocabulary of the Touarghee, Ghadamsee, and Arabic languages. He finished also the translation of the third chapter of Matthew into the Ghadamsee language, which I sent afterwards to the British and Foreign Bible Society. I did not expect that he would have done it so easily, thinking his religious scruples would have interfered. He would have done all the Gospels had I paid him. According to Ben Mousa, the Ghadamsee language contains a few Arabic words, and is a most ancient dialect. It is spoken only at Siwah and Ougelah, two Tripoline oases near the coast, ten days apart, on the route to Egypt, and there is a dialect something like it in one of the Tunisian mountains. Many of the Touarghee words, he[228] says also, are very much like, if not the same, as those of Ghadamsee. I showed him the Gospel of St. Luke, translated into the Berber language of Algeria, through Mr. Hodgson, and published by the Bible Society. He was only able to recognize a few Ghadamsee words in this translation. The Berber dialects, which comprehend the Ghadamsee, the Touarghee, the Kabylee, the Shouweeah (of Dr. Shaw), and the Shelouk of Morocco, although more or less intimately related, are very dissimilar in many words and expressions. But they are sister branches of one original mother, which require to be reduced to consistency and harmony by some mastermind, and then a very copious and powerful language might be formed. Such is said to have been the state of the German language when Luther made his translation of the Scriptures, by which he laid the foundation of the present mighty language of the Germans. Their common enemy is the Arabic, which is daily making inroads upon them; and the probability is, instead of being moulded into one mighty whole, they will in the course of a few centuries be destroyed by the language of their religion, for which the Berber tribes have a superstitious reverence. There is a singularity about the language of Ghadames: it has differences as spoken by the two factions of the Weleed and the Wezeet, the provincialisms of the country. It is highly probable that the various Berber dialects are the fragments of the language of those formidable, but doubtful, auxiliaries, which so often balanced and changed the fortune of Roman and Carthaginian arms. Of all these Numidian dialects, only one people has amongst them a native alphabet, the rest using Arabic characters: this people are the Touaricks.[229] It is besides worthy of remark, that amongst all the African tribes of Central Africa, nay, every part of Africa, excepting the Coptic and Abyssinian Christians, only one alphabet has been found, none of the other tribes having any characters wherewith to write. Specimens of the Touarghee and Ghadamsee language, as well as this alphabet, have been recently published, under the auspices of the Foreign Office.

The language of Ghadames is spoken by an extremely mixed and various population. Some are from Arabs of the plains, others from Arabs of the mountains, others from Berber tribes, others from Moors of the Coast, and not a few from Negress mothers, of every description of Negro race found in the interior. Sometimes the men make a boast of being descended from ancestors of pure Arab blood, from immigrants of the princes of Mecca and countries thereabouts in Arabia, but in practice they contemn the principle of uncontaminated blood, cohabiting with their favourite female slaves, and from these rearing up a large family of mixed blood and colour. In the Arab suburb a considerable number of free Negroes, the offspring of liberated slaves, are settled. This class of population has been mistaken for emigration from the interior, by some writers; but Negroes never emigrate from the south to the north over The Desert, however, some may wander, like the Mandingoes, in the countries of Western Africa, as itinerant traders, tinkers, and pedlars. The city of Ghadames presents therefore a most mixed and coloured population, there being but very few of pure Arab blood, and fewer still of fair complexions. I have seen, nevertheless, some families of sandy hair and fair skins; but, certainly, the[230] barbarossa ("red beard,") or flaxen locks, are not esteemed. These children of the sun prefer the raven-black beard, the tanned skin, and the gazelle eye. The united population amounts to about 3,000, but there are many Ghadamsee families established in Soudan and Timbuctoo. I may add, six languages are spoken daily in Ghadames, viz., Ghadamsee, Arabic, Touarghee, Housa, Bornouse, and Timbuctoo. The Rais has not a Turkish soldier or servant with him, or Turkish would make seven. Mourzuk being a garrison town, there Turkish, Greek, Italian, and Tibbo may be added to these six languages. The Negro languages are spoken by the slaves and free Negroes, and the merchants in conversing with them.

As a specimen of flying reports, I heard yesterday Bona was not in the hands of the French, but the Mussulmans. With respect to shamatah ("fighting"), the reports added, the French had lost 100,000 men in battle! The eyes of all genuine Moslems are turned anxiously westwards, and force and conquest, is everything with them.

30th.—The mornings are now very cool and delicious. Walked on my terrace, and enjoyed the fresh air of this autumnal spring. The palms are beautiful to look upon, and the Desert city has the aspect of an Hesperides. Are these the "fortunate isles" of the ancients? A few birds twittering and chirping about, pecking the ripe dates.

My taleb, backed with two or three Mussulman doctors, charged me in the public streets with corrupting and falsifying the text of the word of God. "This," he said, "I have found by looking over your [231]‮الانجيل‬ Elengeel (Gospel)." It is precisely the charge which we make against the Mohammedans. But our charge is not so much corrupting one particular revelation as falsifying the entire books of the Jews and the Christians, of giving them new forms, and adding to them a great number of old Arabian fables. A taleb opened the Testament at the Gospel of St. Mark, and read, that Jesus was the Son of God. Confounded and vexed at this, he said, "God neither begets nor is begotten," (a verse of the Koran). An Arab from the Tripoline mountains turned upon me and said, "What! do you know God?" I answered sharply, "Yes; do you think the knowledge of God is confined to you alone?" The bystanders applauded the answer.

In general, the ignorant of the population of this part of North Africa, as well as Southern Morocco and Wadnoun, think the Christians are not acquainted with God, something in the same way as I heard when at Madrid, that Spaniards occasionally asked, if there were Christians and churches in England: "Hay los Cristianios, hay las iglesias in Inglaterra?" But in other parts of Barbary, I have found, on the contrary, an opinion very prevalent, that the religion of the English is very much like the religion of the Moors, arising, I have no doubt, from the absence of images and pictures in Protestant churches.

This evening, when visiting the Ben Weleed, conversation turned upon the Bas-Relief. The people showed some jealousy at my possessing it, and would have prefered that it remained in the oasis, and were not sent to Tripoli. They added:—"Because it proves that God has given us the land of the Christians." This is the grand argu[232]ment in proof of the Mussulman's religion, that God has given him the countries of the Infidels. Indeed, the sooner the Bas-Relief is off the better. On my observing that the slab belonged to a date prior to the Christians, they were astonished, and asked, "Who were before the Christians?" They have no idea of people before the Christians. The conversation was suddenly stopped by the appearance of a remarkable personage, the quasi-Sultan of the Ben Weleed. This was the famous rich and powerful Haj Ben Mousa Ettanee. He is a man of a great age, and nearly blind, and the chief of the most numerous and influential family of Ghadames. He always exhibits a most difficult and obstinate temper in public affairs, and, I understand, from the first, has shown an hostility to my residence in Ghadames, unlike the Sheikh Makouran, who is the recognized Chief of the Ben Wezeet, and who has shown himself as favourable as the other Chief hostile. There may be a little of the spirit of faction in this; for we see often a person unsupported by the one party, because he is supported by the other party. But the whole family of Ettanee is considered wâr ("difficult"). The Rais speaking to me of this family, said: "Wâr, wâr—I can do nothing with the Ettanee." Ettanee was attended by two or three servants, one carrying a skin, and another a cushion to recline on (mokhaddah). These arranged, the old gentleman mounted upon the stone-bench and took his seat, everybody making way for him with the greatest alacrity. Having heard I was present, after a short silence, he addressed me: "Christian, do you know Scinde[40]?"[233] I replied, "I know it." "Are not the English there?" he continued. "Yes," I said. He then turned and said something to the people in the Ghadamsee language[41]. My conversation with them was always in Arabic. He abruptly turned to me, "Why do the English go there, and eat up all the Mussulmans? Afterwards you will come here." I replied, "The Ameers were foolish, and engaged in a conspiracy against the English of India; but the Mussulmans in Scinde enjoyed the same rights and privileges as the English themselves." "That's what you say," he rejoined, and then continued: "Why do you go so far from home, to take other people's countries from them?" I replied, "The Turks do the same; they came here in The Desert." "Ah! you wish to be such oppressors as the Turks," he continued very bitterly, and then told me not to talk any more. No one present dared to put in a word. This painful silence continued for some time. I was anxious to get off, feeling very disagreeable; and beginning to move, he said to somebody, "Who's that?" for he couldn't see much, being nearly blind. They told him it was the Christian going. He cried out, "Stop!" and then added, "You have books with you, but you English are not Christians. You deceive us. Nor are the Danish, or the Swedes, or the Russians Christians. They have no books." He meant religious books. The same opinion, I found afterwards, was entertained by Haj Ibrahim, a very respectable and intelligent Moorish merchant of Tripoli. Haj Ibrahim said to me, "How is it that you have books on religion, when the[234] English have none?" Formerly Ettanee resided at Tripoli; and I have not the least doubt both these Moors derived this false information from the intolerant and Protestant-hating Romanist priests resident in Tripoli, backed as the falsehoods were by the absence of any English church or worship, although the English Consul very regularly celebrated worship in his family every Sunday,—a circumstance which ought to have been known amongst the town population of all religions. I am sorry the intentions of the British Government have been so feebly carried out by the Bishop of Gibraltar. Her Majesty's Government was anxious that Dr. Tomlinson should visit all the coasts of the Mediterranean, both to strengthen the few Protestants scattered on these inhospitable shores, and to show the various authorities and people of this famed inland sea, that the English had a religion, and cared for its prosperity. Up to the time I left the Barbary coast, Dr. Tomlinson had neither visited Tunis nor Tripoli, though he had been resident at Malta some three years. This is too bad; and it is quite clear the Bishop does not understand the object of his mission in the Mediterranean. He ought to have shown himself at once in all Barbary; he then might have annihilated this monstrous error, propagated by Romish priests, that the English had no religious books, and were not Christians. It is but justice to add, the Bishop went to Tangiers. Mr. Hay expected a very unctuous episcopal visit, and was shocked to hear the good Bishop talk so much about fortifications and "horrid war." There is consistency in everything; and common sense dictated that the Bishop should have, on such a visit, assumed his character of "Overseer of the scattered Pro[235]testant flock." Unfortunately, when he went first to Malta, Dr. Tomlinson acted more like an episcopalian tight-rope dancer, always balancing himself between Puseyism and Evangelicalism, and so distracted the few Protestants at Malta. He is eminently a man of no decision of character; and whenever he does manage to get up his reluctant will to a decision, it is invariably on the wrong side of the question. Here in The Desert I found myself pestered with both political and religious questions; and to have shirked either, would have been to offend the people. There was no alternative but to preach to them that all the English and all Protestants had the same Bible as the Romanists, and were equally Christians with them. I may add, of the Bishop of Gibraltar: Since my return, I have heard that his Lordship found all his efforts useless to conciliate the Malta papistical authorities; that he was much shocked at their treachery; and that he was determined, on his return again to Malta, to become once more a good Protestant. The truth is, he had nothing to do with the Roman Catholics. He was to mind and care for the Protestants in Malta, and on the shores of the Mediterranean. I believe, however, he did do something in the way of unpleasant interference with Colonel Warrington. It is well known the Colonel was high-priest of Protestantism through his long Consular service of thirty-three years, as well as Her Britannic Majesty's Consul. The Colonel baptized, married, and buried, whenever applied to. He baptized, married, and buried the members of his own family, and was surprised Sir Thomas Reade had not the courage to do the same. Of this the Colonel was very proud, citing the authority of some peer in the British[236] Parliament, who said, "If the King's subjects wished to procreate in a foreign land, where there was no parson, why should not the British Consul help them?" This the Bishop demurred at; but the Colonel supported himself on the authority of Dr. Lushington. The Colonel was undoubtedly right. Still, politically and ecclesiastically, it would be much better if English clergymen of some denomination or other were established along the line of the whole coast of North Africa, which would show the native Mussulmans we had a religion, and that we could afford to support and protect our co-religionists. The French reap a good harvest by their protection of Christians, which, characteristically enough, they use as a political engine of aggrandizement.

On returning home, my Moorish friends pestered me still with more questions, as to what people were before the Christians. I endeavoured to impress upon them, that the Christian era was comparatively new, and that before Christ, there were many nations, and great events occurred. I found them grossly ignorant. But I had the good fortune to procure an Arabic map in the possession of one of the merchants, who had laid it up for many years amongst dusty papers. This had been published by the printers and agents of the Church Missionary Society of Malta, very much to their credit. By the aid of this, I made more progress in teaching geography to the people. Seeing several dots on the map where Sahara is written, the people asked me what it meant. I told them sand. However, I must protest against this device. We shall see that the greater part of The Desert is stone and hard earth. The term "sandy border" of The Desert is equally incorrect. Such a distinction does[237] not exist in the Tripoline provinces. The Desert comes up to the gates of Tripoli, it then gives way to cultivation and The Mountains; it beyond them appears again here and there and everywhere, within and without the regions of rain. There is nothing like a border of The Desert. The "Grand Desert" and "Petite Desert" of the French, are equally incorrect and absurd. All is Sahara, or waste, uncultivated lands, and oases scattered thick within them, as spots on the back of the leopard[42].

Saw the Rais late, who had heard all about my conversation with Ettanee, and jokingly said, "Wâr, wâr, that old fellow, aye?" His Excellency turned, to other matters: "The Shânbah are not going to attack the Touaricks, they are coming hereabouts to plunder our caravans." Asked him, if the city was secure enough to prevent them entering and pillaging it? His Excellency replied, "Yes," but adding, "koul sheyan maktoub (all is predestinated)." This doctrine is not only a comfort in every misfortune, but also an apology for every fault, crime, or mismanagement a person may be guilty of. Nay, if a man be starved to death, because he will not work, which is sometimes the case in this part of the world, as well as Ireland, it is destiny and the will of God! . . . . . . So of all other things. If Ghadames should be stormed and plundered by the Shânbah in its present defenceless condition, it will be, as a matter of course, the will of God. But I must add, which unhap[238]pily cannot be said of Ireland, the security of human life is very great in Ghadames and the neighbouring desert. I have heard of no murder since I have been here, and a murder is the last thing thought of. This does not arise from any preventitive police, but from the simple dispositions of the people—their horror and unwillingness to shed human blood! If a messenger from a distant planet were to come to prove the divinity of a religion, from the absence of the crime of murder, and were to take these Saharan oases, and our Ireland, and put them in the balances of Eternal Justice, we should soon see Ireland and its popular religion kick the the beam, as—

"The fiend look'd up, and knew His mounted scale aloft."

The "signs of the times" in this country are, when I first came here bread was found in the Souk occasionally, as a luxury for the poor who could not buy wheat and make bread; now, and it is only a little more than a month, no bread is to be found. To-day not a single sheep was killed anywhere, and I am obliged to go without meat. So the country progresses in poverty and misery, so rapidly is its money being filched from the people! Or, is it because every body has conspired together against the Rais, and determined to wear an air of abject poverty? And thus to evade the new contributions? This cannot be. To-morrow is the last day of Ramadan; provided the new moon can be seen. I hope they'll see it, for I am heartily sick of the Ramadan: the most amiable and kind-hearted get out of humour in Ramadan; as to the Rais, I never go to[239] see him, except in the evening, unless to get a little money from him, his Excellency being my banker. A Turk, who smokes all day long for eleven months out of twelve, must suffer greatly in these thirty days. Should like to have tried a day's fasting, as I have been so strongly recommended by the people, but I expect to have enough of fasting in The Desert, and it is of no use adding to our miseries for the sake of curiosity or vanity. From recent conversations, it appears there is no great danger in attempting Timbuctoo, but I have resolved on the route of Kanou, because my object is not so much a journey of discovery, as to collect a statistical account of the slave-trade, and see whether there are any practicable legitimate means for extinguishing the odious traffic. For this latter object, the Kanou route is decidedly more advantageous. A wild adventure to Timbuctoo, ever so successful, can never serve me in such stead in the end, when I have to read my own heart and its motives, as a humane mission on the behalf of unhappy weak Africans, doomed, by men calling themselves Christians, to the curse of slavery.

1st October.—Sheikh Makouran paid me a visit this morning. Our conversation turned chiefly on the discoveries of lands and countries since the times of Christ and Mahomet. The Sheikh was a little surprised when I told him: "We ought to consider the world as just beginning, for the ancients knew but little, and the greater part of the now inhabited world was unknown to them." Moors, like some Christians, think the time is near when Deity shall appear to destroy all unbelievers in their respective religions. For myself, I cannot but believe that the world has only yet begun. It is impos[240]sible that the Creator should destroy the world in its present imperfect state. No—the world will go on yet thousands of years on years in the path of improvement unto (shall I say?) perfection. At any rate, I belong to those whose aspirations are for the future and not for the past. I am not enamoured with Hebrew patriarchal innocence, or Grecian classic polish and freedom, or Christian mediæval chivalry of the past. I am of the New Englanders, but not for the resurrection of the past. Rather than subscribe to divinely-anointed kings and pious monks, church charities and May-day holidays and May-poles for the people, I would sooner affix my signature to railways, electric telegraphs, and the wild, bold, and raving aspirations of a Shelley—in fact, to plunge anywhere head foremost, than back again into the past.

A Moor to-day, in wishing to give a grand idea of the Touaricks (some of whom were present), said, "Muley Abd Errahman (Emperor of Morocco) and the Sultan of Stamboul, pay tribute to the Touaricks; but they pay tribute to no one." This is ingeniously made out by the merchants of Tripoli and Morocco, the subjects of the two Sultans, being obliged to pay black-mail in passing through the Saharan districts of the Touaricks. Some of the ill-natured are continually magnifying the dangers of the route of Kanou, and one present said, "You can't go, there are thousands of Touaricks to block up your way." Annoyed with this man and others, I replied, "Do Touaricks eat the flesh of Christians after they have killed them?" This made him very angry, and he began to apologize for the Touaricks, one class of Mohammedans being always anxious to defend another[241] from unwonted or odious suspicions. They have, nevertheless, not the least difficulty in confessing that the Touaricks will kill Christians, as such, thus tacitly acknowledging it to be right to kill Christians. The more respectable Ghadamseeah argue that in no case, if I pay the Touaricks a certain sum as tribute, or what not, have the Touaricks a right by the law of the Prophet to do me the least harm. Heard all the Arab soldiers have run away from Emjessen, being without anything to eat. These wise Turkish commanders gave the poor fellows a bag of barley and a little oil, and left it, like the widow's cruse in Holy Writ, to replenish itself. The Shânbah may now go and drink the water of the well, and plunder the caravans as they please. The wonder is that more open-desert robberies are not committed.

The Rais told me this evening that one person saw the moon, but it is necessary two should have seen the dim, pale, half-invisible crescent streak. Then the âyed after the fast would have been to-morrow. At sun-set, all the people were on the qui-vive, the Marabouts mounting the minaret tops, but none saw it but this solitary moongazer, who, said the Rais, "might have imagined he saw the moon." The telescope was not lawful, he added, "The people must see it with the naked, unassisted eye."

2nd.—No patients; only a little girl with severe ophthalmia, and the old blind man, who fancies his eyes are better with the application of the caustic. Generally the Moors think there is a different sort of medicine for women. Yesterday I was asked for a medicine for women. I gave a man a fever powder for[242] his wife. This morning being the last before the Ramadan, the Rais sent me a backsheesh of meat (not cooked) and a quantity of rice, enough to make a sumptuous festa. Certainly the Rais is very gracious, and continues, if not increases, in his friendly feelings towards me. People are killing and preparing for the festival. There's a report, the merchants in Tripoli are afraid to leave for this city on account of rumoured depredations of the Sebâah and Shânbah. To-morrow, my taleb says he marries his two daughters. He prepares the wedding-feast, and gives his daughters a stock of semen (liquid butter), and barley and wheat, to begin the world with. The sons-in-law make presents to their brides of clothes, besides a little money; and this is all the matter. My taleb seems very glad to get rid of his daughters so easily; they are extremely young—thirteen and fifteen. Besides these daughters he has a pet son. People usually choose a religious festival, for the day of the celebration of their nuptials, as in some parts of England. The taleb then, who is excessively fond of religious discussion, began, "The essence of all religion is,—

‮وهو لا يولد ولا مولد‬

He (God) neither begets nor is begotten: and

‮وما عند الله شركاً‬

God has no associate":—

both referring to the unity of God. Speaking of the duration of the world, I said:—"The world must now begin, for, up to this time, men have been generally very ignorant; and until lately the whole of the earth has not been discovered." Very angry at this, he replied:—"Now the world will finish; God is coming to destroy[243] all you Christians, and all the black kafers (infidels), as well as the white." He then gave me an account of the creation. "The world," he said, "was created seven times," &c., &c., adding many curious things.

I.—"What is to become of the world; are nearly all its inhabitants, from its beginning until now, to be d——d?"


I.—"Is this the decree of God?"

He.—"Yes, all is maktoub."

I.—"But you say, God, is ‮الرحمان الرحيم‬, (Most merciful.)"

He.—"Yes; but men won't obey his religion and Mahomet."

I.—"What is to become of those who never saw, nor never could see or read the Koran?"

The Taleb.—"I don't know; God is great; God must have mercy upon them."

I.—"Undoubtedly God created the world; but according to you, the world is now all corrupt (fesad), and nearly all men must soon be destroyed. Is this honourable to God?"

The Taleb.—"All is decreed."

I.—"But many of the unbelieving Infidels are better than the Touaricks and Arabs. Is not the British Consul in Tripoli better than a Shânbah bandit?—better than an assassin who cuts the throats of the Faithful? Do not all the people speak well of our Consul?"

The Taleb.—"I know it; he's very good."

I.—"But you can't change the religion of some people though you kill them. When the Mohammedans conquered India, they got tired of putting Hindoos to death[244] for not changing their religion, and becoming Mussulmans."

The Taleb.—"God knows all, but you don't know," (a frequent phrase in the Koran).

I.—"Now, I don't think it's of much use to talk about religion, for you won't change yours nor I mine. Here's the end of the matter. We must all die, that's a thing no one disputes; but as to who is saved, or who perishes, we cannot tell."

The Taleb.—"The truth, by G—d! If God please, we shall see all soon."

A small caravan of Arabs, bringing sheep for the Ayed, arrived this morning from Tunis. The route is viâ Jibel Douerat, and only seven days. If the roads were safe, travelling indeed about North Africa could soon be rendered expeditious. The Arabs report:—"That great military preparations are making at Jerbah, where the Bey of Tunis is expected after the Ayed, and whence he will invade Tripoli, all his Arabs being ready to march with him." After this, a caravan of forty slaves arrived from the south, under the conduct of Touaricks. The ghafalah is originally from Bornou, but half left for Fezzan on arriving at Ghat. Was much surprised when Rais told me this evening, after five or six days, he would send a soldier to sleep as a guard in my house. He explained he had received authentic intelligence from Souf, of the Shânbah banditti being on the march, five hundred strong, proceeding in the direction of Ghat and Ghadames, and he expected them near this in the course of ten days. Their intention is to avenge themselves on the Touaricks for the defeat last year. They are the immemorial enemies of the Touaricks, who[245] have a stake in the commerce of the Desert, but they as professional robbers have none. Besides this, we hear the Sebâah continue their depredations, and have carried off 2,000 sheep from The Mountains: they also threaten an attack on Derge. The whole country, indeed, will soon be full of banditti, unless some energetic measures are adopted, and we shall have no communication between this and Tripoli. All the routes are now considered unsafe. Rais assured me, he has applied to the Pasha for a few Turkish troops, but His Highness refused, on the plea of expense. The whole force of the Rais is not a hundred Arabs, and poor miserable fellows they are, with two or three horses placed at their disposal. With such inconsiderable means the Pacha presumes to hold in the heart of The Desert this important commercial city, and its dependencies of Seenawan and Derge! The French manage matters very differently in Algeira. Indeed, the united force occupying all Tripoli, with its wide-spread provinces of many hundred miles apart, does not exceed five thousand men of all arms! Compare this to the hundred and thirty thousand men (including native troops) in Algeira, and be astonished at the different effects of the French and Turkish systems. . . . . To add to the Rais's embarrassments, the people are in ill-humour, whilst some hear the news with pleasure, and fancy they see in our present troubles the beginning of the end of Turkish rule in Ghadames.


[39] This book is said to be eternal as God himself, even Uncreated. This is argued metaphysically from all the thoughts and volitions of Deity being eternal and immutable, and therefore the laws of the Koran have no relation to time or creation.

[40] Most of the people here have heard of Scinde; but their knowledge of it is very imperfect.

[41] I afterwards learnt it was—"You see these Christians are eating up all the Mussulman countries."

[42] Strabo mentions the oasis:—"To the south of Atlas lies a vast desert of sand and stones, which, like the spotted skin of a panther, is here and there diversified by oases, or fertile grounds, like isles in the midst of the ocean."




The Ayed (little Festival of Moslems).—Ghadames a City of Marabouts.—Every Accident of Life ascribed to Deity.—Second Day's Feast, Swinging and Amusements of the People.—Death of the Sultan of Timbuctoo.—Various Terms employed for denoting Garden.—French Woman in The Desert.—Price of Slaves.—Time required to go round the World.—Stature of the Touaricks.—Oases of Derge.—Reconquest of the World by the Mahometans.—Tibboo Slave-dealer.—Touatee Silversmith and Blacksmith.—Assassination of Major Laing.—Tibboos compared to Bornouese.—The Touarick Bandit again.—First Encounter with the Giant Touarick.—Water of Ghadames unhealthy.—Manacles for Slaves.—Second Meeting with the Giant.—The Souafah, and Tuggurt.—Visit from the Giant.—Chapter in the Domestic History of Ghadames.—Serpents and Scorpions, the Banditti of The Desert.—Toys Prohibited.—The Wahabites.—How Moslems despise Jews.


3rd.The Ayed ‮عيد‬, succeeding Ramadan, is ushered in with a cold morning, the first cold morning I have felt in The Desert. Might venture to put on my cloth pantaloons. Happy to feel this invigorating cold. This is the little âyed; the âyed kebir, or âyed Seedna Ibrahim, takes place two months hence, when every family, in imitation of Abraham offering up his son Isaac, kills or sacrifices a lamb. The caravan from Bornou reports the road to be good. It is added, rain has fallen in Ghat as well as in The Sahara, near Tunis and Tripoli, so that the oasis of Ghadames is the only dry spot, for no rain has yet fallen.

Had several visits from persons all dressed out in[247] festival finery, amongst the rest the black dervish. He looked like a dusky Nigritian Sultan. Twenty paras he condescended to take from me, which added to his holiday happiness; sometimes he won't accept of money. Now comes Ben Mousa, my taleb, to pay his respects. Not, as amongst the great unwashed of London, do they shave for a penny and give a glass of —— (I shall not say what), in the bargain, here in Ghadames they shave for nothing. "How is this," I said to my turjeman who had now come in. "This is the custom of the country," he replied, "we always shave one another for friendship." There are several other little things done gratuitously in Ghadames, but shaving the head is the principal one[43]. He who has the sharpest razor is expected to do the most work. They cut and hack one another about most barbarously, some using no soap, only rubbing a little water over their heads. I have seen a score in a row, all sitting on the ground, waiting patiently their turn. Some shave the head every month, others allow several months to elapse. By way of diverting conversation, my taleb had the extreme kindness to tell me that the Touaricks of Aheer and Aghadez (not those of Ghat) killed Christians and Jews on the principle of religion, and would refuse to compound matters, even if I gave them a thousand dollars. He, however, condescended to add, "They are mahboul (foolish)." He then went on to boast of the sanctity of this city, and said, "Our people[248] are not afraid of the Sebâah and Shânbah, because they are a city of marabouts." The taleb had just come from a full divan of the people, where the Rais, on this festival morning, had been haranguing them and flattering their prejudices. "Be assured," said the Governor, "if the Bashaw knew that you were a holy city, a city of dervishes, a zaweea (or sanctuary), he would write to the Sultan at Constantinople, and the Sultan, hearing of this, would immediately give orders that no 6,000 mahboubs were to be exacted from you, but that, on the contrary, money from the Sultan would be sent to you, holy people." I wondered that a man of the Rais's sense could so commit himself. What would he have done if after the âyed, the people had brought a petition to him, addressed to the Sultan, setting forth that they were "a city of marabouts," and praying to have their tribute remitted? But the poor people are incapable of taking such an advantage. They were excited by their religious feelings, and believed all the Rais told them. It was certainly a fine compliment for the feast, to men in the situation of the people of Ghadames. And my informant added: "Ahmed Effendi in The Mountains is the rascal and the infidel, and does not tell the Pasha we are a nation of dervishes." Said told me a slave was brought up to day to be bastinadoed, but reprieved till to-morrow on account of the feast. Said's sympathy is always excited on these occasions, he remembers ancient days. On asking what he had done, he said, "The slave stole some dates because he had nothing to eat." My taleb, occasionally rather free in tongue, took upon himself to call all Negroes thieves. I admonished him: "The poor slaves got little from this city of dervishes, now and[249] then a little barley-meal, or lived almost altogether on a few dates. It was not surprising they stole to satisfy the cravings of hunger." Berka the liberated slave of Makouran, and Said's intimate friend, now came in, dressed up in his holiday clothes. He asked for Said. "He is gone to The Desert, run away, for he has broken our cooking-pot; see here are the pieces, here's the meat spoilt; what am I to do for dinner?" I added, "He ought to have a good beating." The poor old negro stared and looked really grieved. At last he muttered, "Why, Christian, that breaking comes from God, and not Said." "The truth," said the taleb laughing. Said now came in, having borrowed another pot, and Berka was comforted at the return of his friend. In The Desert, every accident of life is ascribed to an ever-present and all-superintending Divinity!

All people enjoy their festival or carnival, to-day. They follow the reckoning of Tripoli, but as the people saw the moon a day sooner there, a day of fasting is here saved. It is so fortunate not to see the moon too soon. The appointed Ramadan is twenty-nine or thirty days; ours is twenty-nine. However, rigid Moslems did not begin to eat to-day till noon, after the morning prayers, so delicately scrupulous are they. My taleb agrees with me, that the Arabs, who usually only eat in the evening, and don't smoke, experience but little inconvenience from the fast. Nothing particular took place to-day's âyed, except every one being dressed in his best clothes, and most of the youth having on something new. It is the same with the Jews of Mogador on the feast of Passover. The Sanctuaries hoist the holy colours of their religion, beautiful vermilion, and yellow, and green; these are their holiest[250] and most-loved colours. The slaves danced and sang all day long. I was present during the closing scene at night, which was curious. After their continuous and laborious dancing, they all suddenly stopped as if struck with paralysis, offered a prayer to Allah, and dispersed. Did not go out till evening, for if I had gone out at all in the day-time I must have dressed up, and I did not wish to appear a Guy Fawkes amongst the people, or excite their curiosity or prejudices on the day of a solemn festival. The Rais asked why I did not come in the morning, for this was a grand receiving-day, when all his particular friends and the heads of the people paid him visits. On telling him, he approved my reason, and said, "You, Yâcob, have compass yaiser (plenty of wit)."

4th.—To-day is half a feast, and full-grown men and aged men are amusing themselves with swinging, like so many boys. A dead aoudad was brought in from The Sahara, which the Touaricks had killed. These Touaricks are also bearers of a letter, written at Timbuctoo, which has come the round-about way of Soudan, announcing that the Sultan of Timbuctoo is dead. Sidi Mokhtar, a marabout, is appointed Governor of Timbuctoo by the new Sultan. The Sultan himself, after visiting Timbuctoo and making this appointment, retired to Jinnee, his royal residence. Sheikh El-Mokhtar has a good reputation; he is now occupied reorganizing his government. No other news. Met in the streets one of the Touaricks who came yesterday with fifteen camel-loads of senna. Asked him if Touaricks killed Christians. Surprised at this abrupt question, he asked, "Why?" I added, "If you are a good fellow I will go[251] with you to Ghat." Pleased at this confidence, he came home with me and took some coffee. A camel-load of senna now sells for seventeen mahboubs. He asked me what the Christians did with the senna, and would not believe it was all used for physic. Said Christians were not numerous enough to drink all they bought. There is a wady near Ghat covered with senna, during rain, but the greater portion of senna is brought from Aheer.

An instance of the way in which the Arabic language is used, and which makes some people think there are different dialects in this language, may be given in the terms denoting Garden. For garden, the Touaricks and people of Touat use ‮جنّة‬, a word which frequently occurs in the Koran, conveying the highest and purest idea of garden, and which we usually translate "paradise." In Ghadamsee and Touarghee a corruption of this pure Arabic word is used for heaven, ‮اجّن‬. The Tripoline and Tunisian Moors use the term ‮سانية‬, and the people here ‮قابة‬, for garden, but which is, rather, kitchen-garden. Now, all these words are good Arabic, and may be used indifferently, at least the two latter. In the New Testament translation, the Persian ‮بستان‬ is used, which I imagine is the Eastern term for garden generally, in opposition to the western ‮سانية‬. The Garden in North Africa is very different from our ideas of a garden. Corn-fields, overshadowed with the palm, the olive, and a few other fruit-trees, is the species of plantation to which the term is usually applied. Certainly a few flowers are sometimes cultivated in these gardens of Africa, but this is the exception to the usage.

The Rais, who is a grave Turk, nevertheless unbended[252] himself to-day, amusing himself in seeing the boys swing. The Moors sadly wanted me to join their swinging, but I politely declined. They said, it was "medicine," meaning good for the health, everything conducive to health being called "medicine" by people in The Desert. Was gratified to see some sports amongst the people, for the men are always gloomy and reclining about the streets, brooding over their ruinous affairs, and the boys are little encouraged to healthful and innocent games. Up to this time, the only persons I have seen happy are the slaves, who dance and sing, and forget everything but the present moment. The swings are tied high up to the tallest date-palms, two or three persons swing together, and the sport is a little dangerous. Saw no other amusements during the âyed, except here and there drafts, played in the primitive way of making small holes in the sand for the squares.

During the expedition of the Duke d'Aumale to the south of Algeria, the Bey of Biskera, Mohammed-es-Sagheer ("little") murdered the small garrison of soldiers left behind, emptied the chest of what francs were in it, and went off to The Desert. He is now living tranquilly in the Jereed. The French made a demand to the Bey of Tunis to have him given up, but it seems His Highness had courage enough to resist it, alleging that he was a political refugee. Mohammed-es-Sagheer had married a French woman, and she ran away, or was taken by force, with him. She had borne him two children. The most extraordinary stories are current of this French woman. Though a low woman of one of the towns, she gives herself out as "the daughter of the Sultan of France!" She rides like a man, dresses like a man, smokes, and[253] follows the Arabs in all their expeditions against the French. She has adopted the Mahometan religion, and is become a sort of priestess, or Maraboutah. She promises the credulous Arabs that she will not only put her husband on the throne of Algeria, but even of France itself, and then all the world will become Mussulmans! The Moors say she can never leave The Desert because she has brought her husband two children.

Saw Rais in the evening, and had a sort of confidential conversation with him, and told him for the first time of my intention to proceed further in the interior. Of course, he had heard of it before from his servants. Nevertheless, he affected great surprise and sorrow. But, when I told him I might return in six months hence, he became more calm. He then persuaded me by all means to avoid the routes of the Touaricks, and proceed to Fezzan, thence to Bornou. Speaking of the Ghadamsee merchants and their friends and correspondents, Messrs. Silva, Labe, Shaloum, and Francovich, in Tripoli, he said, "Your merchants exchange products with the Ghadamseeah in the way of barter, and make a great deal of money, whilst the Ghadamseeah have no money left, none at all." He wondered, like the Touaricks, what the Christians do with all the senna. He expected the Shânbah, on the route of Ghat, in a few days' time. I observed, "People are all superbly dressed, and there was not much appearance of poverty." He smiled, and said, "The people are sheytan (very cunning), they lay up their new clothes, and only wear them on festivals." Speaking of slaves, his Excellency said, "There is now no profit on slaves. Government takes ten mahboubs duty on each. A good slave fetches[254] 40,000 wadâ (cowries) in Soudan, usual price 30,000, and some as low as 15,000. A good slave sells in Ghadames for forty mahboubs." The Rais told me to take care of the vermin, and abused the filthiness of the people. If I escape the Touaricks and the fevers as well as I escape the vermin, which abound on the clothes of all the people without exception, I shall consider myself fortunate. The inhabitants of Ghadames make no scruple in attacking the enemy in the public streets, which stick to them closer than their dearest friends. I attribute my escape to my being an infidel, for their orthodox l-i-c-e won't have anything to do with Kafers.

People look worse than during the Ramadan. Poor creatures, they have little to eat; they say they have nothing but barley-meal and dates to eat, for the Turks have taken away all their money. Some, however, as a luxury, which their relations and friends send them from Soudan, masticate ghour[44]-nuts, and which I believe is the kolat, or colat-nut of Caillié. The Arabs called these nuts the "Coffee of Soudan." Konja is a great place for the growth of the ghour, two or three months west of Kanou.

5th.—Weather gets colder every day. I was reflecting on the best situation for a Consul in Northern Sahara. The point would be Touat, the nucleus of many routes, the great highways of commerce in The Desert. From this point a British Consul could keep a sharp look-out on the French, moving southward.

A Mussulman doctor told me with great solemnity this morning, that five hundred years were necessary to[255] go round the world. Two hundred years desert (‮ك٘لع‬), or nothing, or containing—

"(God's) dark materials to create more worlds."

Two hundred years of seas. Eighty years of Gog and Magog. Eighteen years of Soudan. And two years of white people, including Christians and Mohammedans. There were countries full of Mussulmans which had not been visited by the Mussulmans of Turkey or Africa. They had been visited by one man only, Alexander the Great. Certainly the Moors read history backwards. On asking where this information was to be obtained, he said, "From the Tăfseer (Commentaries) of the Koran."

The Touaricks who have just arrived are men of very large stature, and as "straight as a dart." Several of them are full six feet high. Such men are alone produced in the Sahara! All the weak and the diseased soon die off, leaving behind only the robust. They walk about the streets with an air of consummate pride, with their huge broad swords swung at the back, and their lances in their hands, like "a tall pine."

An Arab, just arrived from Derge, brings intelligence that the Ghadamsee people who were in Tunis are returning home viâ Tripoli. These are mostly poor labourers, who go a few months to Tunis to amass a little capital, with which to trade afterwards. The Ghadamsee is constantly going on these journeys of profit and enterprize, either as merchant or labourer. His Desert home is the pulse of all his distant enterprises, whither he retires to end his days, dedicating the last hours of his existence to God. The Arab came from Derge, mounted on a good horse, in the short time of thirteen hours,—by[256] camels it occupies two and two-and-a-half days! The Arab told me he killed, a few days ago, six ostriches near Derge. The oases of Derge consist of four little oases, or districts, viz., Derge (proper), Terghuddah, Madress, and Fiffelt, containing an Arab population of 400 souls, a hardy and brave people. Water is plentiful, but there are no hot springs. A native told me, that invariably any stranger drinking this water, was attacked with fever. Generally these little oases are very unhealthy. Some assert that all who visit the oases are taken ill. Probably, like Mourzuk, they lay low, in a wady or hollowed plain. Date-trees are numerous, and bear good fruit. A fair quantity of wheat and ghusub is grown. Besides sheep, and goats, and fowls, there is a few camels. The people are occupied in the gardens, but too numerous for the oases; they are very poor, and obliged to emigrate. Derge is in the more eastern route of Zantan and Rujban; and when that of Seenawan, the western, is not safe, this, the longer route, is taken.

6th.—Slept badly during the night; restless about my journey. Determined now to take the Fezzan route. Weather very soft, with murky clouds.

Relating to my taleb, that, formerly, Mussulmans conquered Christians, but now, all the countries of the Mediterranean were fast falling back again into the hands of the Christians—such being the will of God, he consoled himself by replying: "That, in less than forty years will rise up one Abou Abdullah Mohammed El-Arbee El-Korashee El-Fatamee, (‮ابو عبد الله محمّد القرشي الفاطمي‬,) who will kill all the Christians, both of the[257] new[45] and the old world; that this will be the golden age; all people will be Mussulmans, and all will be rich and powerful, enjoying the abundance of this world's good things; and the very dust of the earth, and the sand of the Sahara, will be turned into gold and silver: But, (the awful but!) that this will only last one generation, or forty years; for then will arise The Dajal! who, mounting upon an ass, will scour the earth in three days, and kill and destroy all the Mussulmans, this Dajal being the Messiah of the Jews, who will all flock to his standard; and that then will appear Jesus, the Son of Mary[46], from the top of the mountains of the moon, after Dajal has reigned forty years, and slay this monster Messiah of the Jews. Now there will appear Gog and Magog, let loose from Jibel Kaf, in Khoristan, and the country of the Turks and Russians. And last of all will come the end, when the Wahabites will carry all the Jews into hell-fire on their backs." Such are the secret consolations of a good and orthodox Mussulman of The Sahara. A part of this monstrous fable has been related before, with some variations. The gist of the prophecy is, the destruction of the Christians by another Arab Conqueror. Here the now humbled follower of the Prophet finds his sweet revenge. The same revenge the more ignorant and fanatic of the Jews seek and cherish in the advent of their long-expected Messiah, who is to enable them to put their feet upon the necks of all people—all the nations[258] of the earth. But the better class of Israelites are willing to believe that the Gentile nations may enjoy a portion of the blessings of Messiah's reign, and will not be effaced from the earth. Some pious Christians, who, failing to convert men to their peculiar views of revelation, anticipate the appearance quickly of a sort of Buonaparte Messiah, armed with similar attributes, who is to involve all infidel nations in seas of blood, and make the world a heap of Saharan desolation. Such views of Christianity have always been abhorrent to my feelings; and I have kept close to the fair and pacific pictures of Messiah's reign, so beautifully set forth by Pope:—

All crimes shall cease, and ancient frauds shall fail; Returning Justice lift aloft her scale; Peace o'er the world her olive wand extend, And white rob'd Innocence from Heaven descend.
The dumb shall sing—the lame his crutch forego, And leap exulting like the bounding roe. No sigh, no murmur, the wide world shall hear, From every face He wipes off every tear.
No more shall nation against nation rise, Nor ardent warriors meet with hateful eyes, But useless lances into scythes shall bend, And the broad falchion in a ploughshare end.
The swain in barren deserts with surprise, Sees lilies spring and sudden verdure rise; And starts, amidst the thirsty wilds, to hear, New falls of water murmuring in his ear.
The steer and lion at one crib shall meet, And harmless serpents lick the pilgrim's feet. The smiling infant in his hand shall take, The crested basilisk and speckled snake.

Afternoon, went to see the slaves lately brought from Bornou. They were as much like merchandize as they[259] could be, or human beings could be made to resemble it. They were entirely naked, with the exception of a strip of tanned skin tied round the loins. All were nearly alike, as so many goods packed up of the same quality. They were very thin, and almost skeletons, about the age of from ten to fifteen years, with the round Bornouse features strongly marked upon their countenances. These slaves are the property of a Tibboo. I invited the Tibboo home to my house, to glean some information from him. The Tibboo bought the slaves on speculation in Bornou; he could now sell them at from forty to fifty dollars each. He had only six; the Touaricks had thirty-four. He came from Bornou to Ghat, thence to Ghadames. He had also some elephants' teeth. The Tibboo pressed me to buy his slaves; he had not yet found purchasers, though he had been here some days. The merchants have no money, or none to buy slaves. The Tibboo drank some tea with me, which he observed was better than bouzah, fermented grain liquor. The Tibboo was a young black, tall and slender, and of mild and not disagreeable features. There was nothing in him to denote that he was a common trafficker in human flesh and blood. He was not so much stamped with the negro features as his slaves; he was, indeed, as much of a gentleman as a Presbyterian slave-holder of the United States, patronized by Doctors Cunningham and Candlish, and admitted to the fellowship of Free Kirk Saints. The Tibboo was excessively curious about me, the Christian. He handled and turned over everything I had. Seeing my naked (white) arm, he exclaimed, "Whiter than the moon!" Said did not approve of my new acquaintance, and declared all the Tibboos rascals; and[260] thinks he recollects that he was made a slave by the Tibboos. Said was very angry with me for giving the Tibboo tea—wouldn't make any more for him—I might make it myself. The Tibboo showed his sense of my attention, by giving me some trona, which he says abounds in Bornou, and is called konwa. He champs it in its hard crystalline state, like children champing sugar-candy. He mixes it with his tobacco, and says it is pulverized and drank in solution for medicine at Bornou, like Epsom salts, producing the same effects.

Two people left to-day for Ghat, and two for Timbuctoo. The latter were the headmen of the large mercantile firm of Ettanee. It is the custom of Saharan merchants to send their headmen, and even slaves, to these distant countries, when circumstances prevent them going themselves.

My friend the Touatee, who unites in himself a blacksmith and a silversmith, was this evening employed in making ladies' ornaments for arms and legs. He was in the course of finishing a pair of anclets, weighing together about thirty-eight ounces. Each anclet would cost 20 dollars. They are for an Arab lady; but, of course, the husband invests his money in this way until he can find profitable employment for it, or becomes distressed. "Meanwhile," says the Touatee, "he has the kisses of his wife for the investment, and is happier than if he obtained a hundred per cent. for his outlay of silver." The old Touatee distinctly recollects Major Laing passing through Ghadames to Timbuctoo. The account he gives of him is:—"When in Ghadames the Rais (or Major) purchased something of every thing he could find in our city, as well as specimens of Soudan[261] manufacture. He had with him thirty-six bottles of wine! which I counted. He was attacked by the Touaricks near Touat, and wounded in twenty places; but he cured his wounds, and then proceeded on and arrived safe at Timbuctoo, where he stopped some time. Afterwards he went to Sansandy, where he was murdered." The unfortunate Major had no money in his possession when murdered, which greatly surprised the assassins, who murdered him merely for his money. People add, he wrote every thing in Timbuctoo, but did not stop long there. He was enticed to go away with a stranger, against the advice of the parties who conducted him to Timbuctoo. The stranger was a Saharan Arab. One of them is still living, Haj Kader, and left lately for Touat, who has the reputation of being a quiet and upright man. I did not hear of him until he was gone, otherwise I should have had some conversation with him about the Major. The other party died at Timbuctoo; he was called the Marabout, and seems to have been another Mohammed (my marabout.) In a letter of the Major, read to me by Colonel Warrington, his father-in-law, the Major charges his Marabout with having stolen his double-barrelled gun, and sent it on to Timbuctoo for sale before they arrived there. For this theft, and other bad conduct, old Yousef Bashaw made a formal complaint against the people of Ghadames, and mulcted them several thousand mahboubs. Mr. Gagliuffi heard a strange story about the Major; according to which, he was murdered near Touat, on his return, by the same Touarick who stopped him, and wounded him in twenty-six places, on his way thither, the Touarick alleging, that the Major was not a man but[262] a devil, so he (the Touarick) was obliged to kill him. No authentic account now will ever be collected of Major Laing's death. That he was stopped a couple of days beyond Aghobly, in the oases of Touat, and there wounded, is certain; we have the Major's own account for it. He seems also to have remained a month at Timbuctoo, and wrote a full account of that mysterious city. He then, not being able to ascend or trace the Niger viâ Jinnee, on account of the objections of the people, made a détour through The Desert, wishing to go to Senegambia, when, after four days' journey, he was stopped by a party of Arabs, and murdered. Some persist in saying, that Caillié found Major Laing's papers, and gave them as his own account of Timbuctoo. I should be sorry to attempt either to prove or contradict the charge. All the documents are in possession of the family of the late Colonel Warrington. We must suspend our opinion until they are published, which I trust will not be long.

Afterwards visited the Rais, who is, like myself, very fond of the Touatee. His Excellency had a bad headache, and his major-domo was hard at work rubbing his head with his hands. I laughed, but said nothing. The people are fond of manipulation, and shampooning (Temras). Whenever any one hurts himself by bruises or falls, the limb affected is rubbed and stretched, and stretched and rubbed, until the poor sufferer's limb is nearly severed from his body. Manipulation ought to have made the fourth mode of cure laid down by my marabout, after burning, blood-letting, and talismanic writing. However, I believe manipulation, aided by the bath, frequently effects important cures. Some Moors[263] indeed, consider this the sovereign remedy for every hurt and disease. Found the Touatee again with the Rais. He amused us both by giving his opinion about the inexhaustible supply of slaves furnished by Nigritia. "All other countries," said he, "die and become depopulated. It is now ten thousand years we go to buy slaves in Soudan. The oftener we go there the more we find. In that country the men are all night long begetting children, and the women all the morning bringing them forth. This is the reason the supply of slaves never becomes exhausted."

7th.—Said has just come in and told me I must not eat many of the dates of this country, for they have killed some of the soldiers, and will kill me. Dates may, indeed, injure the poor soldiers, who have nothing else to eat. One died yesterday. I asked his comrades what he died of, who replied, "Hunger." It is a disgrace to the Government of Tripoli to keep these wretched Arabs without any thing to eat. Why not let them go to their native mountain homes; for there, though they may pine away and die in the caverns of the Atlas, they will nevertheless give up the ghost in the arms of friends and relations—joining misery to misery, where the miserable may comfort the miserable. But, here, amidst the rude buffs of strangers, it is cruel to let them die like dogs.

The Tibboo called this morning. Merchants have offered him only 35 mahboubs each for his slaves; he asks from 40 to 50. He says, the Americans, or people nearly as white as I am, ascend the Niger as far as Noufee, for the purchase of slaves. Bornou and the surrounding countries are now in peace, and make no slaves by war.[264] The Tibboo bought his slaves of persons who kidnapped them during the night. To observe, that although the Tibboos, if this merchant be a fair representation of them, have not such extended nostrils as the Bornouse, and such thick projecting lips, yet they are much darker than the Bornouse. Indeed, the Bornouse are of a lighter, fairer complexion than any of the Negroes I have yet seen, those of Soudan and Timbuctoo being of a much darker shade, and some quite black. The Bornouse has a round, chubby, smiling face; the Tibboo, a long, grave, intellectual face. The old Touarick bandit called to-day, with other Touaricks, and asked how much I would give for a live aoudad. Told him from 6 to 8 mahboubs. He said they're going to hunt them next month. This retired cut-throat gave himself a good character, and the Touaricks generally. "Trust us, don't be afraid of the Touaricks, upon our heads (raising his sword to his head,) we'll protect you!" Then stepped in an old friend and lover of the mysteries of geography. These are some of his questions:—"Where is the sea by which the Christians go to Soudan? Where is Mount Kaf, that girdles the earth with brass and iron? Where are Gog and Magog, which is Muskou (Russia), the monster which eats up the Moumeneen (faithful Mohammedans)?" &c. Went out and saw for the first time the Giant Touarick. The huge fellow must be 6 feet 9 inches. His limbs were like the trunks of the palm, and he walked with a step as firm as a rock; whilst his voice was a gruff growl like distant thunder. Compare this noble, though monstrous, specimen of a man, the product of the wild uncongenial Sahara, to the little ricketty, squeaking, vivacious wretch of the kindly clime of Italy,[265] "the garden of Europe," and be amazed at the ways in which works Providence! As soon as the giant saw me, he bellowed out, "Salam aleikom!" which far resounded through the dark winding streets. He now strode by without stopping to speak or to look at me, his head and turban nearly reaching the roof of the streets, and his big sword, swinging from his back, extended crosswise, scraping the mortar from both sides of the walls. His iron spear, as large as an ordinary iron gas-light post, was carried in his firm fist horizontally, to prevent its catching the roof of the covered streets. The giant is one of the chiefs of a powerful tribe of Ghat Touaricks, of whom the aged Berka is the reigning Sheikh. The giant is quite at home here and possesses some forty or fifty camels, with which he conveys the goods of the merchants between this city and that of Ghat.

After several trials of changing food, find I am greatly relaxed, and am convinced it must be the water. This, however, is the opinion of every stranger who visits Ghadames. Last evening the Rais said, "The water here is bad. Look at the people of Ghadames, they have no colour in their cheeks. What a miserable wretch am I! When I first came, I had the colour of the rose; now I am become like these yellow men: as for my poor horse, he eats quantities of barley every day, and is still very thin. It's the bad water. We have a proverb in Turkey, 'Good water makes good horses, and bad water bad horses.'" I observed, the dates and water together made the soldiers ill. He replied, "I have written several times to the Pasha to return, it is impossible for me to enjoy good health here. His Highness still refuses to allow me, saying, he can[266] get no one to fill my post so well, but I hope to return in a few months." I am inclined to think now that Ghadames is not salubrious, although, thank God, I enjoy pretty good health. Strangers, however, require to be acclimated. A great controversy is now being carried on amongst the medical men of Algeria, respecting acclimating; some alleging that a man can bear the climate of a country when he is quite new or fresh in it, much better than after a long residence. According to the anti-acclimaters, the longer residence in a country only weakens the force necessary to support a person against the fever and bad influences of a foreign climate.

Accosted one of my merchant acquaintances, playing with some iron manacles and fetters for the legs. It did not strike me at first what they were: at last, he says to me, "These are for slaves, each has a pair of them, to prevent them from escaping when travelling through The Desert." A painful shuddering came over me to see a man playing with these dreadful instruments of the slavery and torture of his fellow men. Yet he played with them as his rosary of beads, or some simple toy! . . . . . Another merchant came up to him, and observed, "The irons for the neck are better, as these may break." After a pause, I asked my acquaintance where these irons for the legs were made? He replied, "In Soudan; the people there have iron mountains, and they make these irons for slaves in that country." I asked him then how much they cost, and whether he would sell them. They were not for sale. So Africa enslaves herself! forges the very chains of her own slavery. Cruel, heartless Europe! Thou that[267] knowest better, encouragest the wretched African to create his own misery; to dig from his dark purple mountains the very iron fetters of his own slavery! Take care that slavery does not surprise thee in an hour when thou thinkest not, though thou art never so wise, never so free! Another Corsican tyrant may come and bind thee down anew in the chains of slavery. . . . . . . Making inquiries of the Moors about these fetters, they said, (wishing to smooth down the matter, seeing it was disagreeable to me), "Only those who seek to escape are chained." This, indeed, afterwards I found was the case. "Some," they added, "have irons on their necks, and others irons on their legs." Alas! poor people, what have they done to be thus ironed? or what right have others to iron them? Has God said "Thou shalt iron thy brother and make him a slave?" "Yes!" say the free republicans of America, who, for being taxed for half an ounce of tea, proclaimed their freedom and independence of the tyranny of the parent country, in words which, continuing as they are, slave-holders, must condemn them to everlasting infamy[47]. But, as God lives, he will have a day of reckoning; he will avenge the wrongs of Africa! . . . . . Be sure, beware America! . . . . . Whilst walking through the streets to-day, in a bad humour on this subject, there were three Bornou youths, nearly naked, offered for sale, I think they belonged to the Tibboo. Some Arabs sitting[268] near, asked me to buy. I replied, indignantly, "If I buy, my Sultan will hang me up, and you too." They stared at one another, and muttered something like a curse upon me.

I here find several reasons in the journal for my not proceeding by the route of Fezzan and Bornou, but it is unnecessary to give them. It is easy to write out a long list of pro and con reasons. Whilst writing these, the Tibboo comes in and brings a sick slave. He complains the merchants will not buy his slaves. Give the dropsical slave medicine. Ask him whether he ironed his slaves en route over The Desert. He answers, "No." I am bound to believe him, for though a slave-dealer, he appears an honest man.

City of Ghadames

8th.—O God of the morning! what a fine sight are these lofty umbrageous palms, with the soft serene morning sky, and the sun just rising above the clear illumined horizon, colouring and setting off the heavens around.[269] How still, how voiceless is The Desert! The early morn now begins to be pleasant as the autumnal morn of old England. It is indeed, the—

"Sweet hour of prime."

After breakfast visited the quarter of Ben Weleed. Saw the giant Touarick stretching his unwieldy length upon a stone-bench. At sight of me, he aroused himself, and raising his head upon his huge arm, growled out to the people near him, to show them his zeal for their common religion, "Tell the Christian to say, 'There is only one God, and Mahomet is the Prophet of God.'" No one took any notice of the stern command. After a moment, the conversation was continued on other subjects, and the giant fell back again to sleep. I asked an acquaintance of mine, how long he would sleep? He told me that whenever the Sheikh comes here, he usually sleeps three days before he goes round to see his friends, or begins to transact business, during which time he occasionally opens his eyes,—and his mouth, for his slaves to feed him.

Heard some Souafah, Arabs of Souf, had purchased the slaves lately come from Bornou, to sell them in Algeria, there being no market in Tunis on account of the abolition of slavery. Rais sent for me and asked me if I had any money left. I thought his Excellency wanted to lend me some, by putting the question. His Excellency then said he was in want of money. I lent him a hundred Tunisian piastres—all the money I had in the world, with the exception of seventeen in my pocket. Afterwards I dined with the Rais, and he persuaded me to return to The Mountains, en route for[270] Fezzan. It is reported, the Touaricks have gone out to meet the Shânbah. I tell the Governor, as well as the people, whenever they begin to exaggerate or declaim upon the dangers of travelling in The Desert "Rubbee, mout wahad (God! death is but once)." This has usually the effect of stopping their mouths. Were I not to adopt this Moslemite style of address and reply, I should be worried out of my life with the exaggerations of the dangers of The Desert.

A small caravan has arrived from Souf, bringing the news of the departure of the Shânbah from Warklah for Ghat. The Souafah also bring news of interest from their own country. They are threatened with an invasion of the people of Tugurt. Twelve hundred men of Souf have returned from Tunis to their own country, in expectation of a combined attack of the Tugurt people and the French, for the Tugurt people have given out that the French, their new allies, will help them. They boast that they must now go and destroy all the Souafah. The object is to revenge an old grudge, for formerly the people of Souf and Tugurt fought a pitch battle, and the latter were worsted. There is no French governor in Tugurt, but the tribute is regularly paid to the authorities of Constantina. One of the Souafah came to me much excited. I told him that it was not likely the French would encourage this war of revenge, and I understood the principle of the French to be, "to occupy only the countries which before paid tribute to the Dey of Algiers." He observed he understood that to be the rule. But if the Souafah attack Tugurt, the French will probably defend it as a part of their territory.

9th.—The morning is cool and cloudy; a few drops[271] of rain fell soon after sunrise, still it holds up. Amused in finding the Ghadamsee word for father was the same as dad or dady, which is written ‮دادا‬ dada. This morning the giant Touarick honoured me with a visit; he had enough to do to get through the doors of my house with his pine-tree spear. He behaved extremely well. I gave him sixty paras to buy tobacco. He begged for a whole piastre, but thinking he would be a customer of this sort again, I thought it prudent to begin with a little. His giantship swore by all the powers terrestrial and celestial, that he would escort me from Ghadames to Kanou in perfect safety. I evaded the question by observing, (what the Rais had often told me) "The Rais says the Touaricks will cut my throat." The giant roared, "Kitheb, kitheb, kitheb, (a lie! a lie! a lie!)"—and went off furiously threatening wrath against the Turks. Afterwards I heard of a complaint which the giant made against me, saying I had given him this morning a karoob short of the half piastre. I was greatly amused at the giant's keen observance of this defalcation of my generosity.

The Ghadamseeah literally carry out the injunction, "Take no thought for the morrow," which will be illustrated in the following conversation.

"What do you do for the poor in your country?"

"In England, the poor are not allowed to beg in the streets, but are provided with food and clothing in a house built on purpose for them when they can no longer work."

"We have no houses for the poor in Ghadames."

"How then do the poor live?"

"By begging."[272]

"And if the people give them nothing?"

"It is destined they must die."

However, in one part of the oasis there are some large gardens which belong to the poor, who are allowed to eat the dates and cultivate patches of the gardens. I think also the Sanctuaries sometimes give alms in the way of the ancient monasteries. These are miserable and precarious resources. Nevertheless, before the Turks so fleeced the inhabitants, I question if there were any poor person ever likely to die of starvation, for the rich members of families provide for the poor, and rich friends for poor friends, and each faction for the poor of the faction, although no poor-rates are levied. Indeed, like the Society of Friends, all took care of their own poor relations and connections.

I shall now give the reader a chapter of the domestic history of Ghadames, referring to one of the principal families. Most of the rich merchants of this city have two and some of them three wives. My venerable friend, the Sheikh Makouran, came in possession of one of his present young wives in the following romantic way. (His wives by whom he had his children are long ago dead.) A friend of the Sheikh's died and left a young and beautiful widow, whose wit and grace was the theme of all the city, for such things are esteemed also here. The eldest son of the Sheikh immediately set his heart upon the possession of this beauty, but unfortunately he did not communicate his intentions to the disconsolate lady, who remained in ignorance of his attachment. Meanwhile, El-Besheer, as a party in the firm of his father, purchased the house over the widow's head and made everything ready for the future wedding,[273] and then took a journey of business to Touat, intending on his return to send some old lady, which is mostly the practice, with his message of love and marriage to the widowed solitary. Perhaps he thought the widow could not fail to discover his intentions in what he had already done, mostly preliminary to marriage. But we often imagine others are thinking about us when we are never in their thoughts. So he left for twenty days' journey through The Desert, with all these hopes and fears crowding about him. On his return, to his consternation, he found his old father, of some seventy years of age, had got possession of the young blooming widow, the object he had so fondly cherished on his weary way over the solitudes of The Sahara! But like the doomed Pasha, who receives the imperial order of his decapitation from the hand of the executioner, and kisses it and then bows his head to the stroke, so the young merchant, full of filial veneration for his aged sire, submitted silently and without a murmur to this cruel decree of heaven. It is said of the lady that she pines and mourns out her life for the son. She was kept in profound ignorance of his love until she found herself in the withered, cold, and shrunken arms of the father. She accepted the father to keep a house over her head. Alas! poor woman, whether sold at Paris or London in a marriage of convenance, or in The Desert, she is always the victim of man's galling tyranny.

The Ghadamseeah are a strictly religious people. One of my best friends would not allow me to touch a religious book of his, concerning the future world, alleging it was haram ("prohibited"). A young rogue of a Touarick now came in and asked me impudently, whether[274] I knew God and prayed? He added, "Say Mahomet is the prophet of God." As several aged men were present I made no answer. These people believe that there can be no more question of believing in Mahomet than in the sun when shining in its full strength, and are astonished that I who read and write Arabic don't know better. One said, "You are afraid of scorpions, believe in Mahomet and they will do you no harm." I could not help thinking of the parallel, for all Oriental phraseology is so much alike:—

‮هاهوذا اعطيتكم سلطا نا لتدوسا الحيات والعقارب‬ Luke x. 21.

"Serpents and scorpions" have a peculiar application to The Desert. There are still more dangerous animals in The Desert, and I have heard the epithet of "a race of vipers," applied to the Shânbah banditti. This morning the people showed me a wooden figure of a fiddler, placed on a box, in which was inserted a handle, turning round and making a squeaking noise. None of them could understand what it was. A boy was playing with it as a toy. They told me, as news, "This came from the country of the Christians; it ought not to have been made, it is haram." All toys of men and animals are considered by these rigid Moslems as so many violations of the commandment "Thou shalt not make unto thyself any graven image."

According to my turjeman there are many Wahabites in this neighbourhood. Besides Jerbah and its mountains, many Wahabites are found in the Tripoline districts of Nalout, Kabou, Fessatou, Temzeen and Keklah. The Ghadamsee people detest them and say; "The Waha[275]bites will be the carriers of the Jews to hell-fire in the next world." The Wahabites assert, there are five orthodox sects, of which they form the fifth, and hate cordially the other four. Wahabites have great difficulty in eating with other Mussulmans, and some refuse absolutely to eat with other than their own sect. Wahabites are very numerous in the oasis of Mezab, belonging to Algeria, which is confirmed by the Morocco marabout El Aïachi, who made his pilgrimage to Mecca in 1661. The Wahabites of Jerbah are subdivided in the Abadeeah, or The Whites, who wear a white scull-cap, in contradistinction from those who wear red caps, like most Mussulmans of the coast. Generally the Wahabites differ from other Mohammedans as to the observance of the five daily prayers. They also require that, in the observance of the Ramadan, a person should purify and wash himself at the hour of the day in which the fast may begin. The sub-sect of Abadites will neither eat nor drink from the same vessel with any other sects. Wahabites in general will not weigh or touch weights, for fear of doing wrong. Other persons do weighing for them, they looking on, like the Jews who will not touch the candle on their Sabbath, and get Mussulman or Christian servants to snuff a candle or trim a lamp for them. It seems what is a sin in them, may or may not be a sin in others.

My turjeman is surprised we Christians receive the books of the Jews as sacred and inspired, and so are many other people. They are quite astonished when I tell them that Christians esteem the Scriptures of the Jews equally divine with their own. They have a confused notion that the whole of the Jewish Scriptures consist of the five books of Moses, which they call the[276] Torat, and the Psalms of David. Some of them say Abraham was not a Jew. I explain to them, that the Christians give a different interpretation to the Jewish Scriptures from the Jews themselves, and believe "the Son of Mary" to be the Messiah of the Jews and all the world. They hardly believe me; and say, "The Jews are corrupt and their books corrupt." When I told them one day before the Rais that we had had Jews in India, they flatly replied it was a lie, for said they, "It is impossible for such a miserable being as a Jew to be a soldier."


[43] Shaving off the hair from different parts of the body is a species of religious rite. The barber in North Africa is highly esteemed. One of the antiquities in Kairwan (Tunis) is the tomb of Mahomet's barber. This city is also the third holy city of the Moslemite world, on account of this important personage being buried there.

[44] Ghour, ‮قور‬, Sterculia acuminata, Pal. de Beauv.

[45] He did not know there was a new world before I told him.

[46] The Moors always add to ‮عيسي‬, (Jesus,) the son of Mary, to distinguish The Saviour from others of the same name, one of whom is Jesus, a marabout, the founder of the Brotherhood of Snakecharmers.

[47] In their "Declaration of Independence," the Anglo-Americans say—"All men are created equal," and "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights;" and "amongst these, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." I once met a Naval Officer of the United States of America at Gibraltar, who graciously told me, "Slavery is the support of the country," (his country).




Celebration of Marriage.—Native Feast of the Slaves.—Study of the Negro Languages.—Visit to the Ancient Watch-Tower.—Arrival of an Algerian Spy.—Visit to Sidi Mâbed.—Continued Oppression of the Ghadamsee People by the Turks.—The Ancient Sheikh Ali.—Finances of Algeria.—Bastinading a truant School-Boy.—Ceuta sold by the Mahommedans to the Spaniards for a Loaf of Bread.—The Parakleit of the New Testament the promised Prophet Mahomet.—Tricks of the Algerian Dervish-Spy.—Learn to crack Jokes in Arabic.—The sustaining force of Camels' Milk as Food.—Depreciation of Women by the Moors.


10th.A beautiful morning, and cool. I saw with some surprise a very fine red butterfly, also a small flight of good-sized birds passing over the gardens.

This morning there was a grand gormandizing of bazeen[48], in celebration of the nuptials of the two daughters of my taleb. The feast was given by the fathers of the young men. Nearly the whole of the male population of the Ben Wezeet, besides strangers and the Arab soldiers, went to dig, and dip, and dive into the huge bowl of bazeen, some three or four hundred adults, besides boys. The house was small, and parties entering together were limited to twenty. However, as the object is merely to compliment the new married people and their parents, after they had swallowed half a dozen mouthsful, they immediately retired and left the coast clear for the rest, and thus the ceremony was soon got through.[278] There was an exception in the case of the soldiers, whose hungry stomachs found the bazeen so good that they stuck fast to the bowl, and were obliged to receive the Irish hint of being pulled away by main force before they would relinquish their tenacious grasp. My taleb, as a matter of course, called upon me to go to the festa. I found the festive hall to be a smallish oblong room, the walls of which were garnished with a number of little looking-glasses, polished brass basons, and various other small matters, including little baskets made of palm-branches. The floor was covered with matting and a few showy carpets, and one or two ottomans were arranged for seats. In the centre of the room was placed an enormous wooden dish, full of bazeen, or thick boiled pudding, made of barley-meal, with olive-oil, and sauce of pounded dates poured upon it. Every person ate with his hands, rolling the pudding into balls, and dipping the balls into oil and date-sauce. A great piece of carpetting was laid round the bowl, to be used as a napkin to wipe the hands and mouth. The wooden dish or bowl might have been three feet in diameter, and was replenished as fast as emptied with masses of boiled dough, oil, and date-sauce. There was suspended over it, two or three feet above, a wicker roof, to prevent the dirt from falling into it when the people stood up all around and wiped their hands. The visitors squatted down together, encircling the bowl, in numbers of about eight or ten. An Arab, who had a lump given him in a corner, like a dog, found fault with it and returned it, saying, "It is not enough." This, of course, was delicate, but another lump was given him, for which also he growled dissatisfaction. This feeding of bazeen was the fullest[279] extent of the good things of the feast. Some of the more respectable merchants went in and out without tasting the bazeen, merely paying the compliment to their friends. I asked an acquaintance how much he thought a feast of this sort cost. He replied, "About twenty dollars, but it is not the value of the materials of the feast, but the custom, which is esteemed." Not one of the Ben Weleed were present, but all the Wezeet deemed it their duty to attend the feast. The marriage feast is some eight days after the marriage. Last night there was a little firing of matchlocks. After marriage, the bridegroom cannot mix with his acquaintances for two or three weeks. It is a sort of decamping after marriage, as if the parties had done something of which they were ashamed, like in travelling honey-moons amongst ourselves. But at certain hours of the day the bridegroom may be seen gliding about like a spectre in the dark streets, alone and with noiseless tread. He usually is dressed in gayest colours of blue and scarlet, with a fine long stave of brass, or a bright iron spear in his hand. When he is met by any one he instantly vanishes: he does not utter a syllable, and no person attempts to speak to him.

This afternoon and evening was also a native feast of the slaves. They first danced and sung in the market-place. Afterwards they visited the tombs, and prayed to their dead relatives, propitiating their manes, and "to be restored to them and liberty at their death." The women carried chafing-dishes in their hands, on which burnt fragrantly the incense of bekhour. The pride of men perpetuate their distinctions beyond life to the land of the dead, where one would think the ashes of the[280] human body should be allowed freely to return to the essential elements of our common mother, Earth. So slaves have their place of burial, and must not commingle their bones with those of freemen. From the grave-yard and its sadness, the slaves proceeded to a garden, alotted to them, where they danced, and sung, and forgot their slavery. Besides dancing and singing, the slaves occasionally fired off matchlocks, which they had borrowed from their masters or friends, and of which they are most immoderately fond. The high military chivalry of Europe, and France, who calls herself mère de l'épée, are well matched by the savage tribes and slaves of enslaved Africa, who all delight in the slash and cut of the sword, and the banging noise of the gun. The negresses sat apart, as usual, occasionally raising their shrill loo-looings, which they have well learnt from their Moorish mistresses. They were very gaily attired, some with their arms covered with bracelets and armlets, six or seven pairs of very broad tin or silver hoops being fitted on or encircling one single arm; so that the arms of some of these sable beauties were an entire mass of metal. The party mustered about a hundred, and the Tibboo stranger was here, attracted by the colour of skin and native associations. Several people went from the city to see the slaves' festival—I amongst the rest. It would be great injustice if I were not to add, that the Moorish inhabitants of Ghadames ordinarily treat their slaves well; they have a good deal of leisure, if not liberty; and their lot, as compared with the slaves of the cotton and sugar plantations of Christians, is liberty itself,—so differently do religions affect, or not affect at all, the morality of the people who profess them. To judge from this obvious[281] case of comparison, which is so notorious through all The East and North Africa, as contrasted with the Christian States of America, the religion of the impostor of Mecca should be the religion of the divine morals of the New Testament, and the religion of The Saviour be the corrupt morals of the Koran. But if we were to judge of a religion and its morals from those who profess it, our ideas would soon get into confusion, and we should fall into the most deplorable errors.

Began to-day to acquire a few words of the Nigritian languages. People are such geese, that when I learnt half-a-dozen words of what some call the "black" language, they thought me a prodigy. The Housa is the best and most frequently spoken language here of the Nigritian tongues. A New Testament, translated into this language, would or could be read by a third of the tribes of Central Africa. Asking my negro master what I was, he replied, "Kerdee," which means kafer ("infidel") in Bornou, the negro mistaking my individual self for the pronoun I, which is oomah. I laughed heartily at the fellow's impudence.

This afternoon, visited the ancient tower, about half a mile distant, westwards, from the walls of Ghadames. My turjeman, who was cicerone, informed me that the tower was built by the Christians, and was a watch-tower to give alarm to the city in case of an attack from banditti or other enemies. There is another like it in the mountains to the north-west, where are also scattered some old masonry of other buildings. We mounted the top of the tower, and found a hollowed space at the top, of this shape[282]

Cistern of an Ancient Tower

twenty feet long, eight broad, and about five deep. It was evidently a cistern or tank for the troops, for we saw a hole at the broad end, from which the water ran out. The tower itself was about forty feet in diameter. How high it had been, we could not now tell; but the cistern is placed nearly at the top of what remains of the tower. Probably the water ran down into the lower rooms. From the tops of the ruins there was a commanding view of the oasis, and the surrounding Desert. On our way we passed a very deep, dry well, and the wall-remains of several ancient gardens. The turjeman says the water of Ghadames diminishes, and was formerly much more abundant.

11th.—This morning cooler than any yet. My eyes are now nearly restored from the attack of ophthalmia which I had in Tripoli; they open always with a little pain in the morning. It is frightful to observe how many people here have their eyes injured. A poor camel-driver said to me, "Alas! since I went that road to Ghat, I have been nearly blind. The sand and rock were too bright for them."

An Algerine Arab arrived with those of Souf, a species of vagrant marabout, bringing with him all the lax liberal ideas of French Mussulmans. I thought at[283] first he had been sent as a spy, to see what I myself was doing at Ghadames. The pious Ghadamseeah were confounded at his discourses, as he held forth in the streets. He was very clever and facetious, now and then affecting the saint—now the reformer. When he was gone, I asked the people what they thought of him. They replied, "He's spoilt—he's a French Mussulman—he'll soon be an infidel." Others said, "He's mad." This stranger brings the news that all is peace in Algeria. One of the people asked him, "Whether it was really true that the French had got so far into the interior as Constantine?" The Algerine says also, Abdel-Kader is escaped to The Desert. The Emir had been at war with the French during the summer. My taleb, speaking of the French, observed, "Buonaparte had no father." I endeavoured in vain to persuade him to the contrary; and pressing him to tell me under whose influence he was begotten, he at last said, "You think I'm a fool, but his father was one of the Jenoun ("demons")." This is rather a good ancestry, for the Jenoun are, on the whole, a harmless, pleasant sort of people, a disposition which the war-loving tyrant Corsican rarely showed.

12th.—Rose earlier than usual, before sunrise, in order to go to the marabet[49] of Sidi-Mâbed—‮سيدي مَع٘بد‬. My turjeman had married his wife from this place, and therefore accompanied me. He said, "I married one of the daughters of the Saint, and[284] his blood runs in the veins of my children." In all The Desert we find this aristocracy of the gentle blood of the Saints. Sidi-Mâbed is two miles and a half from Ghadames due west. It is situate upon the slope of a small valley, which might formerly have been the bed of a river. To look at this speck of an oasis, its appearance is not unlike that of Seenawan. Around, and near the little village, which may consist of some fifteen very lowly dwellings, is a cluster of palms, and further on are two or three single ones, scattered over the sloping valley. At the furthest distance are some patches of cultivation, the water running gurgling down to them. The gardens are of the same character as those of Ghadames. The inhabitants consist of some seventy souls, all the descendants of one man, the famous saint who has given his name to the village. But according to the account of his sons, his offspring has not increased very fast, for it is several hundred years,—even 900 say they—since His Maraboutship flourished. Some place him as far back as the Flood. It is said that Nimroud did not place his iron hoof on this sacred spot. The daughters of the Saint marry away, only the sons remain in the oasis, and some of these emigrate, which accounts for the smallness of the Saint's offspring.

The children of this Saint, like many a saint himself, are very ignorant, and only one of them pretends to read and write, and to-day he was unfortunately not in the oasis. Those with whom I conversed were simple rude peasants, but polite in their manners, with countenances speaking a serenity of soul and happiness of disposition, not common to the inhabitants of the[285] Saharan regions. They told me their village was Zaweea ("a sanctuary"), and was recorded in the sacred archives of Constantinople as one of the most renowned places in the countries of the Prophet. It is, at any rate, one of the most venerated sanctuaries in the Sahara, and receives pious offerings from all. Amidst wars and tumults, and the depredations of banditti without and around, it remains secure and inviolate and inviolable. This has been its happy destiny through ages, and the villagers, poor and ignorant as they are, may be proud of their sacred unpolluted home. We have here a remarkable instance of the triumph of religious principle over brute force. The people of Ghadames make continual pilgrimages to the shrine of the Saint. The villagers brought our party dates, and all the women and children came out to look at me; the same jealous feelings do not exist amongst these unsuspecting untutored people as in Ghadames and other Desert cities. A happy thought occurred to me before I came away in the morning, of bringing them some wedding-cakes and sweets which had been sent to me: these I brought, with several loaves of bread. They received them very gratefully, dividing them among the whole population of seventy people, a morsel for each. They have no wheaten bread here; they live not on the "fat of the land," as the Christian poverty-vowing monks of our own and past times. These Desert saints are content with a scanty supply of barley-meal, a little olive-oil, and a few dates. I had been told they did not approve of holding Ben-Adam as slaves, and was greatly disappointed to hear a reply from one of them, "If we had money we would have slaves; we have no slaves, because we have no[286] money." By the way, the poverty of North Africa and The Sahara is one of the principal causes of the few domestic slaves now kept, in comparison with former times.

When we had been in the village a few minutes, an Arab soldier came hastily after us. He was sent by the Rais, who was frightened out of his wits, his Excellency giving out, that I should be attacked by banditti. His Excellency said, on my return, "Why, why? (apparently displeased, many people being with him,) whenever you go out, come to me, and I will give you an armed Arab soldier." He added; "You and I will go and see the Zaweea on horseback." The fact is, some of the people were jealous of a Christian going to their sacred village, and considered it a pollution, and the Rais was obliged to make a show of opposition and displeasure. The children of the Saint manifested none of these exclusive jealous feelings, and were happy to see me. In the course of an hour, though my turjeman and myself came off early and secretly, it was known all over the city the Christian had gone to the sanctuary, and the more bigoted were not a little excited. In the village, although everything has the appearance of the most abject poverty, all is bright and clean. The tomb of the Saint remains, but is concealed from the world, enveloped in profound mystery, suitable to the exciting of superstitious feelings. In the gardens were many pretty butterflies. I noticed a single cotton-tree, and gathered two or three ripe pods; the tree looked unhealthy and was very dwarfish. The Sahara is not the place for cotton growing; formerly, however, cotton was grown at Carthage, the Jereed, and other parts of North[287] Africa. Sir Thomas Reade has lately tried cotton-growing on the lands of Carthage, but not succeeded very well. We went to see the date-trees, and seeing one a mere bush, without a trunk, I said; "How long has that been so, will it ever bear dates?" A son of the Saint said; "That tree has been there as long as I can remember. It was always so. Date-trees are like mankind, some are tall, some are dwarfish, some fat, some lean, some bear fruit and others are barren. The root descends into the earth as low as the length of a man. God created this place and gave us this garden. We and our children shall keep it until the Judgment-day! From this garden we shall ascend to that of paradise, where we shall have dates always ripe and ready for eating, for every tree is large and fruitful there. And no man dare touch these trees without our permission, not even the Rais or the Bashaw. We pay nothing to any man; all cast before us their offerings. But we have little because we want little. Such is the will of God." Here then is the abode of inviolate sanctity! here sits the protecting genius of Ghadames, like a pelican in the wilderness! I observed again to-day the burnt volcanic stones scattered over The Desert. They were of all colours, yellow, black, brown, and red, like so many brick-bats. These stones scattered for miles around, together with the hot-spring of the city, and many of the low dull Saharan hills, like so many heaps of scoriæ and lava, give apparently a volcanic origin to all these regions, or render such a supposition probable.

In full Divan it was decided this morning to clear out a little the hot-spring and its ducts running to the gardens, in order to give the flow of water more room. Some old[288] people say their fathers cleaned it out, and the water ran more abundantly; the deeper their fathers dug the well, the more the water gushed out. Others are opposed to the innovation, opposed to all change, being the good old Tories of the Saharan city. All the people are to go in a few days and set to work at this cleaning, that means their slaves. Went to see this evening a sick Touarick, out of town in his tent, and gave him some medicine; but shall be obliged to leave off distributing soon, for the most useful medicines are nearly all finished.

13th.—Weather becomes daily cooler. Get tired of writing, and wish to be off in The Desert. A courier from The Mountains has arrived, bringing a note from Ahmed Effendi, who says, "The people of Ghadames have no occasion to send a deputation to Tripoli. They must pay the extraordinary demand of 3,000 mahboubs at once, without farther dispute or delay." People are in consternation; they all say they've no more money. My taleb assures me he was obliged to sell two of his shirts to make up the last amount of the regular tax. What is to be done for extraordinary demands? The fortifications of Emjessem are to be immediately rebuilt. The mud and salt walls are to be destroyed, and new ones of stone and lime are to replace them. Rais showed me the plan of the fonduk, which was nearly executed. This looks like perseverance on the part of the Turks, and shows their determination to keep open the communication between this and Tripoli. The fonduk, or caravanseria, will be eighty feet long and thirty wide. It is to be built by the people of Ghadames, who, whilst working, will be protected by sixty Arab troops. The expense to be also paid by Ghadames. Rais is[289] going to see the works begin. Besides the new fonduk, Rais has taken the precaution of stopping up a well, a day's journey north-east from the city, by rolling into it a huge stone. This is for the same object, to prevent brigands coming near the city and lying in wait for small caravans and isolated travellers. Fifty sheep were brought into Souk to-day; they were immediately sold. People fatten them for the Ayd-Kebir, each family endeavouring to procure one as a religious obligation.

14th.—Went early this morning to Ben Weleed to find my aged friend, Sheikh Ali. He has the largest species of dates, and invited me to go to his garden to see the palms.

Sheikh Ali is a man of ancient days, and ancient honour and resources, and fallen into a very low estate. He has not only outlived his age and reputation, but outlived his wealth and riches and has become "poor indeed." A long flowing white beard now covers his receding breast, and the wrinkles of ninety years furrow his pale brow and sunken cheeks. Nevertheless, dignity, though ruined, is stamped on his countenance, and an almost youthful activity and hale health keep up the great burden of his years. On arriving at the old man's garden, he told me to follow him, and coming to a very fine lofty palm, with over-hanging wide-spreading boughs, he sat down under its ample shade, and bade me sit by his side. "Christian," he said, "I have sat under the shade of this palm all the days of my life, and shall recline here till God summons me hence."

"How old are the longest-lived palms?" I returned.

"More than the ages of three old men's lives," observed the Sheikh.[290]

An old slave, as ancient-looking as his master, now brought a basket of dates, they were every one of them larger than our largest walnuts. I am vexed I have forgotten the name of this splendid variety of the date. "Eat," said Sheikh Ali, and reclined back in silence for at least half an hour. Now and then he opened his eyes to look on the autumnal beams of the rising sun, then breathed a sigh and a prayer, but did not address me a word. His ancient slave sat at a distance with his eyes fixed on his beloved master, watching the movement of his lips, as he breathed his morning prayer. At length, seeing the old man's lips cease to move, I said gently:—

"Sheikh Ali, they say you have broken down very much, but I am glad to see you confide your sorrows in the bosom of God."

Sheikh Ali.—(Awakening up suddenly, and looking at me anxiously) "Ah, Christian, have they told you so? The detractors, the wretches!"

"I trust I have not offended you."

Sheikh Ali.—"No, stranger, no. But I hate them. I hate the world. I curse the world."

"The unfortunate and disappointed are always bitter upon the world. But you, Sheikh Ali, I know are above spite and malignity: you would not stoop even to hate the miserable follies of the world."

Sheikh Ali.—"Christian, thou talkest well, and in my way. I tell thee I hate no one, I have lived and I shall soon be done with the world. May those who come after me fare better."

"What is this hatred of the Ben Weleed and the Ben Wezeet?"[291]

Sheikh Ali.—(Smiling faintly.) "Christian, thou wilt know everything. My father told me when I came out of the belly of my mother, that I was a Ben Wezeelee, and I have remained so to this day. But why or wherefore, I know not? Dost thou not see that people do this and that, and know not why they do it? Well, Christian, we do not hate the Ben Wezeet; but we will not associate with them, because we are proud, and because our fathers did not associate with them. It is pride, not hatred, which divides this our nation into two."

"Why so proud? It says in the Koran the Devil would not admire Adam for pride[50], and God cursed him for his pride."

Sheikh Ali.—"Ah, Christian, how knowest thou the Koran? Canst thou read the Great and Mighty Koran?"

"In England we read the Koran in order to obtain a correct knowledge of classic Arabic. Others read it to understand the religion of Moslems."

Sheikh Ali.—"Right, right. The Christians are a wise people. Oh, these religions!"

I thought I heard a regret of scepticism, or a kindly view of heretics and infidels, in the latter exclamation, "Oh, these religions!" So I observed to the Sheikh, "A[292] pity it is we are not all of one religion, as we are all the children of one Creator."

Sheikh Ali.—"By G——! Christian, thou art right. I have always prayed God to lead me in the right way, and to have mercy upon others. But do you know, Christian, I think there were amongst those prophets of ancient times many impostors. What do you think?"

"I am sure of it. It is also the opinion of all our wise men in England."

Sheikh Ali.—"Christian, I hate Marabouts. In the long years of my life I have seen all their tricks, lies, and impositions. I am sorry for the poor people, on whom they practise their impostures, and also for the women. I have one daughter; I never permitted her to consult a marabout. I told her what the wretches were. Have you marabouts in England?"

"Yes, of all descriptions. We have also many who get the women to confess the secrets of families, and create an odious war in the bosom of society."

Sheikh Ali.—"Ah, ah (chuckling), all the world's alike. God curse those marabouts. Do you give them money?"

"Money! In our country, nothing is done without money."

Sheikh Ali.—(Becoming fresh excited.) "What! are the English like us? is a man esteemed for his money?"

"You have heard of London?"

Sheikh Ali.—"Londra?"

"Yes, that's it. Well, in Londra, nor virtue, nor honour, nor wisdom, is worth anything without money."

Sheikh Ali.—"The Devil take the world, it's all alike. So here, so there. When I was rich, everybody bowed[293] down to me; now that I am poor, they pass me by without saying bis-slamah (saluting). Why did God make money? How wretched is the world." So this philosopher of The Desert continued. Returning, I bade the ancient Sheikh an affectionate adieu.

In the streets, people appeared to be fasting, as in the most rigid Ramadan. I never saw such gloomy, emaciated faces. Really people look as if they were all going to give up the ghost. What is to become of these poor devils of dervishes! Government is grinding them down to the dust! Returned home heart-sick at the sight. I am growing daily more impatient of remaining so long in Ghadames. Impatience comes on like attacks of fever. Have determined again to pursue the Kanou route.

The forty slaves brought by the Touaricks and the Tibboo have been all sold to the Souafah. The Tibboo sold his for twenty dollars per head. The ten dollars per head tax on them put the Rais in possession of a little ready money, and his Excellency paid me back the hundred Tunisian piastres. The Arabs of Souf always bring money here, and, besides dollars, a quantity of five-franc pieces, since the French have occupied Algeria. The millions spent or wasted by the French in Algeria are variously disposed of:—

1st.—The Arabs get a fifth, who bury their money, or send it into the neighbouring deserts of Tunis and Morocco.

2nd. The Maltese ship off a ninth of the money to Malta. The Spaniards and other foreigners also get a share.

3rd. A great quantity, a fifth, perhaps, is embezzled[294] by the employés of the civil administration, and their creatures, the contractors.

4th. A tenth is spent on the public works.

5th. The rest is paid to the military. A fraction only is spent on the culture of the soil, and for the purposes of emigration, or the real colonization of the country.

15th.—This morning is really cold, and the coldest morning we have had yet. Rais assures me I shall with difficulty be able to bear the cold, so intense is it in Ghadames during the winter, or January and February. Greatly agitated about my journey in the past night, and could not sleep. There will soon be an end of this uncertainty. I pray God to give me patience and wisdom. Observe people are beginning to feel the effects of the cold, and cover up their mouths like the Italians and Spaniards. But all are living up to the starvation-point.

At noon was held a full Divan, to decide upon the "extraordinary demand." The chiefs of the people said:—"We have no money, and cannot pay." The Rais replied:—"Such discourse will not do; you have money, and must pay." Then the Divan broke up without farther palavering. The alleged object of the money to be raised, is for the expenses of the troops who went in pursuit of the Arabs of the son of Abd-el-Geleel in the past summer.

The old bandit calls and says:—"Your friend, the long man, has finished to-day all his tobacco." The long man is the Giant Touarick. I took no notice of this polite hint to furnish a new supply. I might furnish with tobacco all the Touaricks who came here, if I were[295] to attend to these Irish hints. The old bandit, who is cramped up like a wizened apple, is said by people still to carry on his nefarious trade. The proof of this they give to be, his always going alone when he travels. The old villain then catches what he can. Myself, I hardly believe he continues his brigandage. He appears wholly worn out. I gave his little son 20 paras to buy camel's flesh. The old freebooter grinned a ghastly smile. Walking in Ben Weleed quarters, I heard a great to-do, and went to see what it was, when I saw the old chief, Haj Ben Mousa Ettanee, standing over his young truant son, whilst with a thick stick the servant of the schoolmaster was belabouring the feet of the child. Never was a more complete bastinadoing. The urchin cried to his father for mercy. It was perfectly in character with the old man, and the austere manners of his family. I do not wonder that all the people read and write in Ghadames, when such severity is practised by the very aristocrats of the city. Whilst standing by, another Moor went up to the old man, and said, "Stop, stop, here's the Christian looking on." They stopped, but it appeared a mere pretence for leaving off, for already they had unmercifully belaboured the truant.

No mutton to be had to-day, and was obliged to buy camel's flesh for dinner: found it pretty good. My turjeman and taleb both joined me. After dinner, the taleb began in his usual controversial spirit. He insisted, that "Any person who should make himself well acquainted with the Koran must become a Mussulman." "If the French teach their children to read the Koran, in order to learn the Arabic," said he, "they must conquer the Russians and the English." Not [296]"εν τουτω νιχα[51]," but in or with This Book, say the Mussulmans, the world must be conquered. The Russians and the French, having recently made conquests in Mohammedan countries near them, (for the wars in Circassia are heard of here,) impress these people with fear, and fear is their ruling principle of government. Asking my taleb why the Mussulmans who had possession of This Book did not conquer the world, he answered sharply, "The Mussulmans conquered the world once with the Koran, but now they have lost their faith, and are weak, and such is the will of God." The taleb then related a curious story about Ceuta. A certain marabout, who had seen the Elouh Elmahfouth (‮الوح المحفوظ‬,) or "Book of Fate," which was let down to him to look at and read in, from heaven, went into the city, and offered Ceuta for sale at the low price of "a loaf of bread." The people said:—"Oh, the man is mad, let him go." But he continued the more to cry out, "Who will give me a loaf of bread for Ceuta?" At last he met a Christian, a Spaniard, who gave the Marabout a loaf of bread, and took possession of the city. This seems really an excuse for the loss of that strong fortress. But it is added:—"The Marabout having seen and read the future destiny of Ceuta in the Book of Fate, was determined to hasten the crisis, and placed it at once in the hands of the Christians." My taleb assures me that Mahomet was foretold and promised in our gospels, under the name of Parakleit, (i. e. ὁ Παράκλητος,), "The Comforter." He cited also the Koran, but would not write the passage; I had no Koran with me. But this is an advantage, for if[297] I had had a Koran in my possession, I should only have excited the prejudices of the people against me, and should not have been able to have kept it from them. A traveller might take a translation advantageously, one without Arabic notes, or Arabic words explained, which would soon excite their curiosity to know what it was. Speaking of the "Ben Welleed" and "Wezeet," my turjeman said:—"These are the French and the English; we are always at war with one another."

It is the opinion of people here, that the French and English are always at war, and they are continually on the qui-vive for a war breaking out between France and England, for they think then the English will drive out the French from Algeria, unmindful of what miseries such a war would entail upon themselves, crushed as they would be between the two great hostile Powers.

The Algerine dervish is playing off some fine tricks. This afternoon he got together a dozen low fellows of the Ben Weleed, and went to say the fatah before the Governor. This saying fatah was chiefly forming a circle with his troop, himself in the middle, and then at the top of his voice singing out, whilst his troop cried out, "hhahh," jumping up, and bending forward their heads and bodies towards him. This they continued for an hour or more, until they sank upon the floor with exhaustion. Afterwards they played off some other genteel tricks. His Excellency the Rais is as great a dervish as any mad fellow here, and though suffering greatly from headache and bad eyes, he endured this tomfoolery for nearly a couple of hours. My taleb, a shrewd man, said to me, "Don't you see, I told you this Algerian was an impostor?" I believe really he is a French[298] spy on the movements of the Turks, and perhaps myself. The Tibboo calls. He is preparing to depart, and presses me to go with him. Speaking to a Touarick, he said, "See the money of the Christians (taking hold of my black buttons)." Many people have half a mind to believe my black buttons are money. The Tibboo says, there are no watches in Soudan. People are content to measure time by the sun's rising and setting. Some merchants, lately come from Tunis, have heard of the projected aërial machine. They have no difficulty in believing that Christians travel in the air. They think the Devil, being very clever, teaches Christians all these things. The Touatee calls, and says, "You must write something." "What?" I answer. "Oh," he replies, "My wife has a head full of fantazia (or nonsense); this you must write." It appears the Touatee has got a scolding wife. Told the Rais about this funny incident, who said, "Tell the Touatee to go home and pretend he's going to take another wife, and then she'll soon leave off pouting."

16th and 17th.—Continues cold. People say I improve in Arabic. I ought, for I have enough of it. What is odd, I begin to joke with the people. It will be seen I have represented the Saharan people as mostly gloomy, and suffering from the oppression of their Government. Still there are times when they can force a smile, or crack a joke. They carry the joke so far that they have sometimes joked me about my fasting in Ramadan, a very sacred subject for a Mussulman. Every time I go into the streets, I meet with one or other with whom I try to get up a joke, for it grieves me to see the people suffer so much from bad government. After we[299] come to satire, and with the help of the word batel, "good-for-nothing," we manage to hit off somebody. An Arab Sheikh came to us, one day, when we were joking. I said, "Oh! here's the lion-heart, who ran away from Emjessem for fear of the Shânbah-Bātel." The Arab, astounded, "Ya rajel (Oh man), I had nothing to eat!" "Nor have we here," replied a merchant, "you better go and hunt with the greyhounds of the Touaricks. The Rais has taken away all our victuals." The poor Arab went his way very queer and crestfallen.

Speaking to a Moor of The Sahara, I said, "The Sahara is always healthy: look at these Touaricks, they are the children of The Desert." He replied, "The Sahara is the sea on land, and, like sea, is always more healthy than cultivated spots of the earth. These Touaricks are chiefly strong and powerful from drinking camels' milk[52]. They drink it for months together, often for four or five months, not eating or drinking anything else. After they have drank it some time, they have no evacuations for four or five days, and these are as white as my bornouse. It is the camels' milk which makes the Touaricks like lions. A boy shoots up to manhood in few years; and there's nothing in the world so nourishing as camel's milk." Caillié mentions that the chief of the Braknas lived for several months on nothing but milk; but it was cow's milk. Many of the Saharan tribes are supported for six months out of twelve on milk.


The Moors seem to have a secret dislike for women, as well as a most obstinate desire to tyrannize over them. There is a lurking desire of this sort in the men-sex of all countries. Are we not the Lords of Creation? I actually get afraid of avowing to them that the supreme ruler of England is a woman, they are so confoundedly annoyed at the circumstance. The first questions of their surprise are, "How? Why?" &c. My taleb is very fond of supporting the doctrine of a woman having only a fifth of her father's property. I annoy him by telling him it's a bad law, and that the daughter should have an equal share with the son. Lady Morgan is sadly wanted here; she would find ample additional materials for a second edition of "Woman and her Master."


[48] Bazeen, ‮بزين‬, called also Aseedah, ‮عصيدة‬.

[49] Some have endeavoured to distinguish in English the mausoleum in which a dead saint is laid by the term Marabet, though in Arabic both the dead and living saint, and the cupola house in which the dead saint is laid, are all called Marabout. When a village or town, is built round the mausoleum of a saint, it is also called after the saint, as in the instance now related.

[50] "We (God) created you, and afterwards formed you (mankind); and then said unto the angels, Worship Adam; and they worshipped him, except Eblis (The Devil), who was not one of those who worshipped. God said unto him, What hindered thee from worshipping Adam, since I had commanded thee? He answered, I am more excellent than he: thou hast created me of fire, and has created him of clay. God said, Get thee down therefore from Paradise; for it is not fit that thou behave thyself proudly therein: get thee hence; thou shalt be one of the contemptible."—Surat vii. Intitled Al-Araf.

[51] The words in the Cross, which Constantine is reported to have seen in the heavens.

[52] When the milk is fresh it is called by the Arabs ‮حليب‬, when sour, ‮لبن‬.




Gaiety of the Black Dervish.—Walking Dance of the Slaves.—The Fullans or Fellatahs.—Shoushoua, or scarifying the face of Negroes.—Terms used in connexion with Slaves.—The Razzia.—A Souafee Politician.—Parallel Customs between The East and The Sahara.—The mercenary Blood-letter.—Indifference to the sufferings of the Arab Troops.—Colour of the people in Paradise.—Excellent Government of the Fullanee Nations.—Moors do not fondle their Children.—Administering Physic to Camels.—Simplicity of Touarick manners.—Knocked down by a Pinch of Snuff.—Departure of the Tibboo alone to Ghat.—Blood in White Sugar, and Anecdote of Colonel Warrington and Yousef Bashaw about collecting old Bones.—Colonel Warrington compared to the late Mr. Hay.—Said, a subject of Anti-Slavery discussion.—Specimen of Desert Arab freedom.


18th.With the full moon the cold has regularly set in. Good-bye flies and good-bye scorpions. Can now write with my door open, without being covered with flies. Can also sleep without waking up at midnight to kill scorpions running over the mattresses. The mad black dervish is always in motion, and full of gaiety. People are so fond of him that they think he is inspired. When all the Moors are in solemn vacant thought, or brooding over their griefs, or dreaming in broad day of their being marabouts or sultans, the poor witless thing runs in amongst them, shaking hands with the first he meets with, and bursts out a-laughing. He usually succeeds in infusing a little of his cheerfulness into these equally mad people, but more sober in their[302] method of madness. Yesterday the slaves had another feast for the dead. The Moors allow their slaves the liberty of blending the two religions, as Rome has allowed the blending of Christianity and paganism. And when questioned about it they say; "Oh, the slaves know only a little of Allah, and are not much better than donkeys in their understandings." The slaves assembled to the number of some fifty in the Souk. Here they performed a species of walking dance, in two right lines, very slow and very stiff and measured, having attached to it some mysterious meaning. They were gaily dressed, attended with a drum and iron castanets, making melodious noises. Each had a matchlock slung at his back. The women carried a chafing-dish of incense, as if about to raise some spirit or ghost. A crowd was around them; but they performed nothing but this slow-marching dance, and then retired to the tombs. The dervish, poor fellow, mingled in the gay throng, shouldering a stick for a gun.

Received many little presents from people lately. Sheikh Makouran brought me himself a small basket of very fine dates. My taleb afterwards brought me some gharghoush, or small cakes, made of flour, honey, sugar, and milk. They are extremely pleasant eating and a little acid, which adds greatly to their flavour. There are but few things acid in this country; of sour things there is an abundance.

Heard a great deal about the Foullans, Foulahs, and Fellatahs, the predominant race in Soudan. Foullan (‮فلّان فلّانين فلّاني‬) is the Soudanic term, Fellatah the Bornouese, and Foulah what is used to denominate[303] them among the Mandingoes. According to information here, they were once the most miserable race of Arab wanderers in The Desert. But at last they settled down as neighbours to the Negroes, some 700 years since. They continued to increase in numbers and importance, abandoning tents and building villages and towns, and intermixing with the Negroes, till about forty-five (and others thirty-five) years ago, when they expanded their ideas to conquest and renown. About this time they made the conquest of Kanou, Succatou, and the other large cities of Housa. Never a people rose to greater fame and power. They were assisted, like the Saracens before them, by religious fanaticism, and so far corresponded with them, in extending the boundaries of Islamism. They went on conquering and to conquer till within the present year, when their power received some check by the daring exploits of the Tibboo prince of Zinder, a vassal of Bornou. This prince has taken from them a few towns. The complexion of the ordinary Fullanee is a deep olive, with pleasing features, not much Negro, and long hair.

Negro's Head

Negroes in Nigritia are known by the Shoushoua (‮شوشوا‬), or scarifying. Generally in Negro countries, which profess the Mohammedan religion, the Shoushoua is abandoned as haram or prohibited. It is mostly the sign of paganism. The operation is performed by a sharp cutting instrument, and is never effaced from the face during life. The annexed drawing presents the Shoushoua of the Negroes of Tombo, near Jinnee, who are pagans. Whenever the slaves see these marks they know the country of the other slaves who bear them. Formerly it could be ascertained whether a slave was[304] born on the coast, or brought from the interior, by the presence or absence of the Shoushoua. Now it cannot, because the practice is discontinued in countries subject to Moslem rule, whence slaves are sometimes brought. In Ghadames a freed slave is called mâtouk (‮معتوق‬) or horr (‮حرّ‬). The terms waseef (‮وسيف‬) and sometimes mamlouk (‮مملوك‬) are employed for a single slave, and âbeed (‮عبيد‬) for many. The Arabic terms ‮قايد الوصفان‬ "the chief of slaves," are used to denote the person who is responsible for the conduct of slaves, or the "Sheikh of the slaves." The word Razzia, which the French are said to have invented, and which has acquired such a triste celebrity by their butcheries of the Arabs in Algeria, is derived from the same word as designates a Slave-hunt (ghazah)[53] amongst our Saharan people. The verb is ‮غَزَا‬ ghaza, "petivit," which in the second conjugation means, "expeditione bellica petivit hostem," and the noun in use is ‮غَزَاة‬ ghazah, "expeditione bellica." The Bornouese word to denote a slave-hunt, as carried on by the Touaricks, is Din, applied to private kidnapping expeditions, and means, I think,[305] simply "theft," showing that not by war, as captives, but by "theft," "stealing," the "man-stealing" of the Apostle Paul, are slaves generally procured in Central Africa. It is only just that razzia and ghazah, the same words, should be so closely allied in application to their different actions. The French, to do the thing properly, and in their usual style, should erect a monument upon the "Place" of the city of Algiers, to the new invention Razzia, with its derivations from ghazah, "a slave-hunt." A prize essay might also be proposed to the Oriental Chair of Paris, and its various students, now looking for distinction as interpreters in the land of Razzias or "butcheries," for the best derivation and historical progress of the term Razzia, as used by Christian and civilized nations, in relation to infidel and Mohammedan barbarians. At the bottom of the monument erected by the French to the Demon Razzia, may be appended the following veracious words, copied from the late proclamation of the Duc d'Aumale, on his assumption of the high post of Governor-General of Algeria (Moniteur Algérien, October 20, 1847):—"You have learned by experience, O Mussulmans! how just and clement is the Government of France." The Duke unpardonably forgets to cite one of the last proofs of this just and clement Government, the roasting of a tribe of Arabs, men, women and children in the caverns of the Atlas! . . . . Will not the Lying Bulletin (native of France) be proclaimed till doomsday?

This morning the merchants asked me why the English did not drive out the French from Algeria. They had often badgered me with this subject. I thought it better to speak plainly at once, and for all.[306] I began by asking, why should the English drive out the French? and continued, "France and England are now at peace. They don't wish to make war at all, and England does not consider Algeria of such importance as to go to war about it. England did not derive much benefit from Algeria when Mussulmans ruled there; besides the Algerines were always sea-robbers. The English were obliged to go and chastise them several times before the French captured their country. And do not think, that if war did take place between England and France, and the English should drive the French out of Algeria, the country would therefore be given up to the Sultan and the Mussulmans. The English might wish to rule there themselves. Upon no account wish for war in Algeria, for the miseries of the war would chiefly fall upon you, Mussulmans." This completely settled them, and exasperated them, as well it might; they said no more. The Mussulmans always have in their memories the conduct of the English when they drove out the French from Egypt, and discussing this kind of politics, it is quite natural.

Afterwards I heard a Souafee holding forth to another group. His theme was, the Shânbah, Warklah, Touaricks, Tugurt, Souf, and Ghadames, and it was evident to him that besides the people now enumerated there were no others in the world. A respectable Moor observed at the time, "That Souafee is a rascal. He's as great a robber as a Shânbah bandit. Mussulmans are not like Christians. The Christians have but one word, and are brothers. The Mussulmans have a thousand and ten thousand words, they don't speak the truth, and they are enemies to one another." The ingenuous[307] Moor knew little of the history of Europe and America. I did not disabuse him of his good opinion of us. He was a Ben Wezeet, and complained that now the Nāther (‮ناظر‬), or native overseer of the city, and the Kady or judge, and some of the richest merchants belonged to the Ben Weleed, and added mournfully, with a sigh, "It was not so in my father's time. But the world has changed, and this is the new world."

In reading the Arabic Testament, I have noticed several parallel customs or habits between The East and North Africa. Take this:

"But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote upon the ground." (John viii. 6.)

People of Ghadames are writing daily with their fingers on the ground. They are also wont, with fancy ornamental sticks, which they usually carry, to illustrate their ideas on the sand or dust of the streets, by drawing figures. In speaking with them on geography, they sketch shapes of countries. They cast up all their ordinary accounts by writing figures on the sand. They have also certain games which they play by the use of sand. Sand is their paper, their ledger, their boards of account, their pavement, and their auxiliary in a thousand things. It is said in the Gospels, that The Saviour escaped to the mountains[54], either from the pressure of the people, or from the persecutions of his enemies. Persons are accustomed to escape to the mountains in Barbary, more particularly in Morocco and Algeria; but also in this country. Our Saviour, besides, gives the same advice to his disciples: "Let them which are in[308] Judea flee to the mountains." (Luke xxi. 21.) It has always been difficult to apprehend fugitives in the mountains, especially in ancient times, when a good police did not exist. The conqueror has always had great difficulty, and exposed his conquests to imminent risk, by pursuing the conquered in mountainous districts. Such are the instincts and habits of men in all ages. The Desert has, besides, afforded an asylum to the fugitive and unfortunate, as well as the persecuted. Our Saviour was wont to retire to desert places. In this country, the discomfited defenders of their country's liberties have invariably escaped to The Sahara. How many times has Abd-el-Kader escaped to the mountains of Rif, or the solitudes of The Sahara? But it is unnecessary to pursue this obvious idea farther, otherwise it also will escape to The Mountains or The Desert.

The "five barley loaves," (John vi. 9,) reminds me of the barley bread of these countries, more frequent than any other sort of bread. Wheaten bread is rarely eaten by the lower classes.

It is needless to cite all the passages of Scripture where the people in the towns and villages are represented as bringing out their sick of every kind and description. (Matt. xiv. 14, 35, 36.) So it is in North Africa. Whenever an European visits these countries with any pretensions to medical skill, all the sick of the place are brought out to him. When I see the sick daily brought to me—as also when I was in The Mountains—I cannot help thinking of those affecting pictures of disease and misery which were providentially exhibited to demonstrate the divine skill of the Great Physician of mind and body.[309]

Salt is procured in a few hours' journey beyond Sidi Mâbed, and is considered superior to that procured at the Salinæ of the coast. This Saharan salt is only obtained after there has been some rain, the earth being impregnated with it, and the water washing away the earthy particles. It is gathered in the dry season.

19th.—Amuse myself with Arabic reading and philological studies. The mornings continue cool. Administer now little medicine, for I have but little left. Ordered an Arab to be bled by the old Moor, who possesses a good lancet. The big hulking Arab proved a greater coward than a child. How sickness unnerves a man, the hardiest and strongest of men! I once took a passage from Algeria to Marseilles in a French transport of convalescents. There I saw the brave and brilliant French troops cry and whine like children under the influence of fever. When the old Moor had bled the soldier, he said to me, "Where's the money?" This shows that, though they rarely think of remunerating the services of the Christian Tabeeb, they have a perfectly clear conception of what is due to the labour and skill of a doctor when the case refers to themselves. Some time after, I went to the old Moor again, and asked him to bleed another soldier attacked with fever. He refused to bleed him, alleging that he must be paid. "He will die," I said. "Let him die," returned the unfeeling old blood-letter; "why do they bring soldiers here, we don't want them?" This afternoon I visited the barrack, where several Arab soldiers were laid up with the fever, which they had caught at Emjessem. One was very bad. The Arabs said to me, "You must give him money to buy some bread, and a little meat to make some broth." I[310] told them they must go the Rais; it was his business to look after his troops. It is distressing to witness the condition of these wretched Arabs. At different times I have given them a little meat, and bread, and oil; but now my stock of provisions is getting down, and the communication between Tripoli and Ghadames is very precarious. In the evening I saw the Nāther, and said to him—expecting he would mention it to the Rais, "See that soldier lying on the stone-bench; he is sick, and has nothing to eat."

The Nāther.—"Yes, he is ill."

I.—"But he has nothing to eat; can't you get him something to eat?"

The Nāther,—"Pooh, he must die."

The other Moors present laughed at my simplicity in begging something to eat for a fever-worn, emaciated wretch of a soldier. The matter of fact is, these poor fellows are detested by the inhabitants, and starved to death by the Government. The soldier had caught the fever of Derge, whilst sent there on business, which is a bad tertian fever, prevalent in some oases of The Sahara.

Lately, as my turjeman and Said, with several negroes, were chatting, and saying people would have husbands and wives in the next world, I asked, in the manner of the Sadducees, "If a woman had three husbands in this world, whose wife would she be in the next?" They all answered, "The wife of the last." As some of the group of these theologians and diviners of the future state were negroes, I asked, "What colour will people be in the next world?" They replied, "All white, and alike; and not only will their skins be white, but all their clothing will be white." White, indeed, is the favourite colour of[311] Mussulmans; and a sooty-black Mohammedan negro will set off his face with a white turban, as our Christian niggers do their japan with a lily-white neckcloth. But white is the colour of purity, of religion in North Africa and The East, as in Biblical times.—περιβεβλημένους ἐν ἱματίοις λευχοῖς. (Rev. iv. 4.)

20th.—Weather continues fine and cool. Less meat to be had; nothing decided about the new levy of money, except that the people will not or cannot pay. The Sheikh Makouran tells me he is greatly in debt to Messrs. Silva and Laby, and so are all Ghadamsee merchants. The money now employed in commerce is chiefly that of European and other merchants of Tripoli and Tunis. "We have no money," says Makouran, "we cannot pay any new levies. If Rais persists, he must collect our money at the edge of the sword; and this can't last, for we shall all soon die of hunger." These continual complaints make me melancholy, and added to my impatience "to be up and doing," make me very peevish. O Dio! but such is the lot of man, to suffer always, either in mind or body. Much annoyed at my taleb for eating Said's dinner, even before my face. These Moors, at least some of them, have neither honour nor conscience. I suppose the taleb is pinching his belly to pay his portion of the new contribution. To punish the taleb, I give Said coffee before him, without asking him to take any. I may observe, the Moors don't like to see me treat the poor blacks and slaves as their equals. I frequently give the negroes tea and coffee before I serve them, to show I despise such distinctions, although, perhaps, against propriety.

The taleb began boasting about Soudan, and he has[312] much reason to boast of it, if we compare what Mohammedans have there done with what Christians have done on the Western Coast of Africa. He said, "There's no gomerick (Custom-house), no oppression, for the people are Mussulmans." Such were the reasons for their not being oppressive. It is a great question how far a country may be civilized, and in how short a time, without actual conquest? Civilization has progressed in Central Africa with the spread of Islamism. When it reaches the point of Mahometan civilization it will stop. The question with us is, "Whether we shall civilize the Mohammedans, and so work on Central Africa, or reconquer their conquests?" There appears very little chance of civilizing Africa without arms and conquest. Bornou, Soudan, and its numerous cities, Timbuctoo and Jinnee, formerly all governed by the Kohlan—‮كحلان‬, or "blacks," are now governed by strangers, either Arabs (pure) or Touaricks or Fullans. These are the present most important kingdoms of the ancient Nigritia, and include a population of some millions. I continue to pursue my inquiries respecting the Fullans. All agree in representing them as originally Arab, but now greatly mixed, of very dark colour, some being nearly black, others, and most of them, a dark brown and yellow red, and some nearly white. The fortunes of the Fullans, emerging filthily from the dregs and offscouring of The Sahara, have become as great as the old Romans formerly in Europe, but they will always have powerful and vindictive rivals in the Touarghee and pure Arab and Berber races. The Revd. Mr. Schön has given a too unfavourable report of the Fullans, in his Notes and Journal of the Niger Expedition, biassed against them in[313] his Missionary zeal, simply because they are Mahometans. It is true that the Fullans are great slave-dealers, but so are nearly all the princes of Africa. The mild and equitable administration of the kingdoms of Kanou, Succatou, Kashna, and other immense centres of population, as carried on by the Fullans, is notorious throughout The Great Desert. No people of Nigritian Africa has so profoundly excited my best sympathies as the Fullanee races[55].

The Moors do not fondle and dandle their children on their knees, as parents are accustomed in Europe; and when grown up, the children appear as distant from their parents as strangers. This arises from the absolute authority assumed by parents over children during their minority. I have often been angry to see some of the lower people here teaching the children to call me Kafer ("infidel") as a sort of religious duty, lest, I imagine, the children should see at last that there is no very great difference between a Kafer and a Moslemite.


Was much amused this afternoon in seeing physic administered to camels. The camel is made to lie down, and its knee joints are tied round so that it cannot get up. One person then seizes hold of the skin and cartilage of the nose, and that of the under jaw, and wrests with all his force the mouth wide open, whilst another seizes hold of the tongue and pulls it over one side of the mouth; this done, another pours the medicine down the throat of the animal, and, when the mouth is too full, they shut the jaws and rub and work the medicine down its throat. The disease was the falling off of the hair; and the medicine consisted of the stones of dates split into pieces and mixed with dried herbs, simple hay or grass herbs, powdered as small as snuff, the mixture being made with water. People told me it would fatten the camel as well as restore its hair. Camels frequently have the mange, and then they are tarred over. For unknown incomprehensible diseases, the Moors burn the camel on the head with hot irons, and call this physic. Men are treated in the same way, and the Moors are very fond of these analogies between men and brutes. What is good for a camel is good for a man, and what is good for man is good for a camel. Whilst the camel was being drugged, a Touarick came up and said, "Salām âleikom" to me. They always use this primitive mode of salutation. When they swear oaths they also say, "Allah Akbar," (God is Greatest!) the famous war-cry of the Saracennic conquerors of olden times. They are primitive in all their ideas and words; their manners are equally stiff, and slow or courtly, "stately and dignified;" they fully understand the doctrine that, "Great bodies move slow."[315]

A man is said sometimes not to be worth "a pinch of snuff;" and yet a pinch of snuff will knock a man down, as it knocked me down this evening. My value then does not quite reach to a pinch of snuff standard. To come to explanation: a merchant offered me a pinch of snuff, and to please him, I took a large pinch, pushing a portion of it up my nostrils. Immediately I fell dizzy and sick, and in a short time, vomited violently. The people stared at me with astonishment, and were terrified out of their wits, and thought I was about to give up the ghost. They never saw snuff before produce such terrible effects. After some time, I got a little better and returned home. This snuff was that from Souf, and what people call wâr ("difficult"). I had been warned of it, and therefore richly paid for my folly. Moreover, it was a violation of my usual abstinence from this not very elegant habit. The Souf snuff is extremely powerful; it is constantly imported here, and for the satisfaction of snuff-takers and snuff-taking tourists, I am bound to inform them that they will find snuff much cheaper in Ghadames than in Tripoli. People call snuff hot and cold, according to its stimulating, irritating, and tickling power. It is prohibited to drink wine and spirits amongst Moslemites, but, nevertheless, many of them do not fail to intoxicate themselves with everything besides which comes in their way: they snuff most horribly all the live-long day. In the season the Arabs drink their leghma, and the Mahometan Negroes their bouza, the Soudanic merchants chew their ghour, nuts, and kouda, as our jolly tars their tobacco, and others munch the trona. My taleb came to me to see if I were dead. He had heard such a horrible report in the town. I[316] embraced the opportunity of lecturing him upon the absurdity of the prohibition from drinking wine, when he and others intoxicated themselves with snuff. But man will have his stimulant, and the tee-totaller, who protests against all stimulants, seeks his in his tea and coffee. There is no harm in this, and the question only remains to seek as harmless a stimulant, as consistent with health as possible. In justice to the Marabout city of Ghadames, I must mention that some of the more strict Mohammedans consider snuffing, as well as smoking, prohibited by their religion, and opium (‮ععيون‬), and keef, an intoxicating herb, sometimes called takrounee, ‮تكروني‬, are not smoked in this place. In general, few of the Moors of this place smoke at all.

21st.—Weather fine, no rain. The merchants begin to bake biscuits for their journey to Ghat, which looks like preparation. My friend Abu Beker called and gave me two letters written to him from Timbuctoo by his brother, who is established there. Since my return, I have given one of these letters to the Royal Asiatic Society, and the other to the British Museum, considering them a great curiosity, so long as this city shall remain separated from us Europeans by such impassable barriers.

The following is the translation of the letter presented to the Royal Asiatic Society:—

Letter from a Brother in Timbuctoo to a Brother in Ghadames.

"From the poor servant of his Lord, Muhammad ben Ali ben Talib, to our respected brethren, Abu Bekr and Muhammad, and Abdallah, and Fatimah, and Ayshah,[317] and our Aunt Aminah; God prosper their conditions, Amen!

"After a thousand salutations and respects to you, and the mercy of God, and his blessings on you, should you indeed inquire concerning us, we are well, and you, please God, are so likewise; and we desire no further favour from God than the sight of your precious countenance; may God unite us with you before long, for He is the Hearer (of petitions)! As to this country there is in it neither buying nor selling. By G—d, O my brother! this day we are six months in Timbuctoo, and truly in the whole time I have received but 15 mithcals. There is not a single farthing (or kirat) in this town, nor commerce at all, except in salt, &c., (some other commodities, whose names I cannot discover.) And our minds are in continual fear here from the scarcity of the times. I am desirous of going to Arawan, if we can find something to sell there, when the people of Kiblah (the South) come; but they are not yet arrived, up to the present moment, and we do not think they will come. And thou, O my brother, beware of sending us any thing! as in this country there is no commerce, (neither buying nor selling); and whatever has been sent us, we have received for it neither far nor near. And truly, from the day in which we entered Timbuctoo, we have given 600 louats (some measure) to the Touaricks and the Fullans. But do you pray with us that we may be delivered from this land; and we have no more news after the letter which we have written to you. Convey our salutation to our aunt and to our brothers, many thousand salutations; and to Muhammad ben al Tayil, and his brother and his sons, many thousand salutations; and to[318] Muhammad Ibn Ibrahim Taraki, many thousand salutations. Salute also the Hajj al Beshir, and his brother the Hajj Yusuff, if he is arrived; and salute also Hajj Abdallah. The people (caravan) of Touat have not yet come to us. Our salutation to Al Mustafa and his brother Abdal Cadir, and tell the Hajj al Behir, for God's sake not to send us any thing. Of a truth, we sincerely hope to fulfil your commissions, but in this land there is neither buying nor selling. By G—d, neither in Arawan nor in Timbuctoo, have we seen any one who will buy of you for a mithcal, nor for a kirat. Tell the Hajj al Beshir, the Sheikh has not yet arrived. And of all the (——?) I brought to Timbuctoo, I have not sold a single thing, and I sent them back to Arawan. Know, that there is no dealing here except by cowries, and the cowrie is 3,500 to a mithcal. Convey my salutation to the Hajj Abdal Kerim Ben Aun Allah, and his brother Abdarrahman, and to their sons; many thousand salutations, and say to them, For God's sake take care how you send us any thing, for this land is a vexation to us. May God not visit you with vexation, and may he open to us a way of deliverance! And our salutation to the Hajj Muhammad Sahh, if he is arrived, and tell him not to forget us in the Fátihah (1st. chap. of the Koran, used in prayer,) and in the prayer called Salihah (the Beneficial.) And also to his son and to his mother, many thousand salutations. And our salutation to the Hajj Muhammad ben Ali, and his brother, and their father, many thousand salutations. And salutation to our cousin (the daughter of our uncle) Miriam, many thousand salutations, and to our aunt Sultánah, and to her brothers, and to (some other[319] female name) and her sons, many thousand salutations. And our salutation to our cousins (the children of our uncle) and say to them, For God's sake do not forget us in the Fátihah and the prayer Salihah, that God may deliver us from this land; and the people ("or caravan") of Touat are not yet come to us. O my brethren! we anxiously and most earnestly do desire news of you; the Lord give us news of your welfare before long. And do thou, O my brother! send us some cinnamon and some black pepper, and some grains of ‮جلاو‬. And when thou writest, give us all the news, and take care not to leave your letter unclosed, for the people here read it, and be sure to seal it. Salute the inhabitants of our street, all of them, without exception, each one by name.

"And so farewell: at the date of Rajab the 25th, in the year 1246; and again farewell, from this poor (servant of God,) and many thousand salutations, as also from Ibrahim and from the Hajj al Mansur and the Hajj al Mansur's son, who is still with him. Farewell.

"(Postscript below.)—Convey our salutation to Hajj Hamad, and tell him Muhammad ben Canab is doing well, and he is in Arawan; and in like manner salute from us his brother Ali.

"(2nd Postscript at the side.)—Salutation also to our uncle, and say to him, that among the people of the Sheikh (‮اهل الشيخ‬) we obtain nothing, except what the Lord has brought us (a proverbial expression of the Moors, signifying nothing at all.) So farewell!


"To the hand of our esteemed brethren Abu Bekr,[320] and Muhammad and Abdullah ben Ali Ibn Talib; may God amend their condition, amen!

"(With Solomon's seal, and a rude commencement of another; the name of Ben Talib, and the mystical words ‮طه‬ and ‮بسم‬ the first of which is prefixed to the xxth chapter of the Koran, and the other probably intended for ‮طسم‬, heading the xxvith, and xxviiith; or for ‮يس‬ xxxvi.)"

Obs.—This letter is written within and without, and on every fold of it. The advice to seal the letter to prevent it from being "Grahamized" is curious. I have seen a hundred letters in The Desert unsealed, and it is only in case of suspicion, that the Saharan merchants seal their letters. Such is their confidence in each other's honour and good faith, that it is an insult to seal a letter when put into the hands of a friend. It would appear, from this letter, that some twenty years ago the commerce of Timbuctoo was in the most languishing deplorable state; but as far as I can judge, from the present operations of the merchants in Ghadames, the trade of Timbuctoo has in a measure revived. The letter itself is a most admirable specimen of the epistolary style of the Saharan Moors, and in this respect alone is of considerable value.

When walking out this morning, an impudent young dog came running after me and shouted, "There is no God but God, and Mahomet is the Prophet of God;" whilst another cried out, "You Kafer!" Judging it necessary to put a stop to this, I gave each little imp for his pains a hard rap of the head with my fly-flapper, which greatly surprised them, and sent them off yelping. Some of the boys, however, are very friendly, and come[321] running after me and take hold of my hand. A day or two afterwards these young rascals came running after me again in the same way; but they were chased by an adult Moor, who gave them a good thrashing.

22nd.—Weather fine. Nothing new. Bought Said a new pair of Morocco shoes, and made him happy for a day or two. He begins to sulk about going amongst the Touaricks. To my great joy, the Shantah from Tripoli has arrived, bringing letters from Colonel Warrington, and Mr. Francovich, which latter has remitted to me 125 mahboubs. Two Touaricks have also arrived from Touat. The road is open. Rain has fallen in many places of The Desert in copious showers, which has buoyed up the hopes of the camel-graziers. Rumours of fighting between the Shânbah and Touaricks are prevalent.

The Tibboo left during the night for Ghat—alone! riding on a single camel. His conduct has astonished everybody. Some say "he's mad," and some say "he's a bandit." He had with him a small quantity of light goods, and about 300 dollars in cash. I asked the Rais about him. He observed, "That Tibboo has no wit. Many people die on the routes, the camels running away whilst they sleep. What can he do alone!" I asked the people, all of whom replied, "The Tibboo is a wonderful fellow!" One said, "Ah, that's a man, Yâkob. No Christian like the Tibboo." But another said, "Without doubt he's a cut-throat, that is the reason he goes alone. Even the Touaricks are afraid of him; and when they brought him here he quarrelled with them several times. Besides, a few days ago he was going to knock down the toll-taker at the gate." After[322] this display of personal daring, I shall never have a contemptible idea of a Negro. The free, independent, and enlightened gentleman slave-driver of Yankee Land, armed with that symbol of order and good government, the bowie-knife! would find his match in this his brother Tibboo slave-driver. The Tibboo has done what no man of this city would have dared to do, in undertaking a journey of some twenty days over The Desert alone. What is very extraordinary, he never travelled the route but once before, that is, when he came here. They say he will arrive at Ghat in twelve days. He took the precaution of purchasing a good pair of horse-pistols before he left. I may add, he arrived safe and sound at Ghat.

23rd.—This morning exceedingly cold. In going out, a man said to me, "Where are you going this cold morning?" People were all shivering, or wrapped up in their burnouses. Said is attacked with ophthalmia. Received a visit from an old Arab doctor. He says cattle are attacked with the plague, as well as men. He wrote me a receipt for the cure of night-blindness, which would cure it in one night. He says, in the neighbouring desert, towards the west, there is a small oasis of Arabs, who are called El-Hawamad—‮الحومد‬—who are always afflicted by night-blindness, which singular affection is called by them Juhur (‮جُهُر‬). Mr. Jackson, in his Morocco, calls this strange disease butelleese. The Arabs of El-Hawamad see perfectly well in the day-time. But I must mention, that I received an application for medicine from a person who is affected with the same strange kind of malady. The European physicians call this disease Nyctalopia (Νυκταλωπια). I recently myself[323] met with a case in London. But what is equally extraordinary, Captain Lyon (I think) mentions a case which he met with in The Desert, of a person who could see in the night-time but not in the day-time—a human owl. We conversed about other diseases in Ghadames. The principal, as before-mentioned, are ophthalmia and diarrhœa. There are two lepers; a few dropsical people; and, occasionally, small-pox and syphilitic diseases. There are, besides, various cutaneous affections. Dogs are known to go mad amongst the Arabs, but not very often. When mad, they are called makloub. The remedy is, when they bite people, the hair of the mad dog himself, rubbing it over the part bitten. Mussulmans are fond of this antagonistic idea, of the bane and the antidote being one and the same thing, for they preserve the dead scorpions to be applied to the sting of the living ones, and they aver it to be a certain cure. Quackery is the native growth of the ingenious as well as the whimsical and hypochondriacal ideas of men. In dropsy the native doctors cut the body to let out the water, as we do.

Wrote letters to Mr. Alsager, Colonel Warrington, and others. People grumbling about their letters being too high charged. Formerly letters went free to Tripoli. The Turkish post-office and policy never fail to make things worse. Treating some Moors with coffee and loaf-sugar, one asked me if there were blood in sugar, for so he had heard from some Europeans in Tripoli. I told him in loaf sugar. "What, the blood of pigs?" one cried. "How do I know?" I rejoined; "if the refiner has no bullock's blood, why not use that of pigs?"[324] This frightened them all out of their senses. They will not eat loaf-sugar again in a hurry. A most ludicrous anecdote of the old Bashaw of Tripoli here occurs to me. Old Yousef one day sent for Colonel Warrington, with a message that the Consul's presence was very particularly required. The Consul, putting on his best Consular uniform, and taking with him his Vice-Consul, his Chancellor, and his Dragoman, immediately waited upon His Highness. The Consul found His Highness sitting in full Divan, surrounded with all his high functionaries. Approaching the Bashaw, the Consul was begged to take a seat. His Highness then opened business, and, drawing a very long and solemn face, requested to know, "If the Christians were carrying away all the bones from the country?" assuring the Consul that such he heard was the case from his people, adding, that even the graveyards were ransacked for bones. The Consul, nothing blinking, or disquieted, congratulated His Highness upon bringing such an important subject before his notice, and observed, "It is very improper for the Christians to be ransacking the tombs for old bones to ship off for Europe." "Improper!" exclaimed the Bashaw, "why the man who does so ought to be beheaded!" "Yes, yes," replied the Consul, coaxingly, "he ought, your Highness; I quite agree with you." The Bashaw then got a little more calm, and begged of the Consul, as a favour, to tell him what the Christians did with all these old bones. The Consul, now assuming a magnificent air, deigned to reply, "Now, your Highness, you must be cool. You drink coffee?" "Yes." "You put sugar in it?" "Yes" (impatiently). "You use white sugar?" "Yes, yes," said the Bashaw, half amazed,[325] half trembling, wondering what would come next. "Then," cried the Consul triumphantly, "I beg most submissively to inform your Highness, hoping that your Highness will not be angry, but thank me for the information, that the old bones are used to make white sugar with." Hereupon was an awful explosion of Allahs!—beginning with His Highness the Bashaw, and going round the whole assembled Divan, in such serious and perplexed conclave now met. Then followed harams!—in the midst of which Colonel Warrington graciously and elegantly backed himself out of the Divan, smiling and bowing, bowing and smiling, to the utter horror of all present. Next day His Highness made a proclamation forbidding any of his subjects from exporting old bones on pain of death. On his part, the Consul issued a notice calling upon all British subjects not to be such barbarians as to violate the tombs of pious Mussulmans, at the same time threatening them with the full weight of the Consular displeasure. I am assured that Yousef Bashaw never ate white sugar afterwards.

The liberties which Colonel Warrington was wont to take with old Yousef Bashaw, of the Caramanly dynasty, could not now be, in these days of Ottoman politeness, at all tolerated. For a long series of years, and especially during the French war, the Colonel was the virtual Bashaw of Tripoli. I shall only give another of a thousand incidents in which the British Consul showed himself the master, and the Bashaw the slave, instead of the Sovereign of his own country. One day the Bashaw had done something to offend the Consul. Colonel Warrington, hearing of it whilst riding out, immediately rides off[326] to the Castle, and rushes, whip in hand, into the presence of the Bashaw, producing consternation through the whole Court. An Italian, having at the time an audience with His Highness, demanded, "Che cosa vuole Signore Consule?" seeing the Consul frustrated in his rage for want of an interpreter. "Tell him (the Bashaw) he's a rascal!" roared the Consul, almost shaking his whip over the head of His Highness. But the Italian was just as far off, not knowing English, and fortunately could not interpret this elegant compliment. The very next day, the Consul and the Bashaw dined together at the British Garden, the Colonel slapping the old gentleman over his shoulder, and drinking wine with him, like two jolly chums. In this way, Colonel Warrington managed to be, what he was called in Malta, "Bashaw of Tripoli." Now that Colonel Warrington, during the time these pages have been going through the press, has left us for another and a better world, we may for a moment compare his Consular system with that which was pursued by the late Mr. Hay, Consul-General of Morocco. The difference is striking, if not remarkable. Colonel Warrington boasted of being able to do anything and everything in Tripoli; Mr. Hay boasted of being able to do nothing in Morocco. The former had the Bashaw under his thumb, or hooked by the nose; the latter stood at an awful distance from the Shereefian Presence. Colonel Warrington underrated the difficulties and dangers of travelling in Tripoli and Central Africa, making the route from Tripoli to Bornou as safe as the road from London to Paris; Mr. Hay, exaggerating every obstacle, represented it as unsafe to walk in the environs of Tangier, under its very walls, and even boasted of himself being shot at in the interior of[327] Morocco, on a Government mission, and whilst attended by an escort of the Emperor's troops. With Colonel Warrington, a mission of science or philanthropy had a real chance of success; with Mr. Hay, no mission could possibly succeed—failure was certain. And so I might continue the opposite parallels. But in justice to these late functionaries and their friends, I must observe, that both were zealous servants of Government and their country. They exerted themselves diligently and conscientiously to protect and advance the interests of their countrymen, who had relations with Tripoli or Morocco, according to their peculiar temperaments and circumstances. No doubt they gave Government at home an immense deal of unnecessary trouble, and sometimes even annoyance; but so long as each public functionary abroad thinks the affairs of his own particular post of more importance than those of anybody else, this inconvenience will always happen, in a lesser or greater degree.

Said furnishes me with a continual anti-slavery text against the slave-trade. Everybody asks me if Said is a slave. I reply, "Slavery is a great sin amongst the English. We cannot have slaves, or make slaves of our fellow-creatures." Then follow discussions, in which I damnify the traffick in human beings as much as possible.

Today witnessed a good specimen of Arab Desert freedom. I was conversing quietly with the Governor, seated beside him on his ottoman, a privilege granted only to me, the Nather (native governor) and the Kady, when rushed into the apartment a Souafee Arab, exclaiming to the Rais, "How are you?" and seizing hold of his hands, knocked his fly-flap down on the floor. His Excellency was shocked at this rudeness, and I my[328]self was a little startled. The conversation which followed, if such it may be called, is characteristic of the bold Arab, and the haughty Turk.

The Souafee.—"The Shânbah are coming to Ghadames."

The Governor.—"I don't know; God knows."

The Souafee.—"My brothers write to me and tell me so."

The Governor.—"I don't know."

The Souafee.—"Give me money, and I'll go and look after them."

The Governor.—"I have no money."

The Souafee.—"Make haste, give me money."

The Governor.—"Have none."

The Souafee.—"Where's the money?"

The Governor.—"Go to the Ghadamseeah."

The Souafee.—"They tell me you have all their money."

The Governor.—"Go to them."

The Souafee.—"I'm going, Bislamah (good bye.)"

The Governor.—"Bislamah."

As the Souafee left the threshold of the apartment, his Excellency turned to me, and raising his right hand underneath his chin, drew its back jerkingly forwards, making the sign of the well-known expression of contempt in North Africa. He then said to me:—"See what a life I lead, what insults I am obliged to put up with! what beasts are these Arabs!" The Souafah are, indeed, the type of the genuine Desert Arab. They have no foreign master, and manage all their affairs by their own Sheikhs and Kadys. The immense waste of sand lying between Ghadames and Southern Tunis and Algeria, is their abso[329]lute domain, in the arid and thirsty bosom of which are planted, as marvels of nature, their oases of palms. The Shânbah bandits, who plunder every body, and brave heaven and earth, nevertheless dare not lay a finger on them. I cannot better represent the feelings of the Souf Arab, nor the "wild and burning range" of his country, than by quoting the lines of Eliza Cook:

"Through the desert, through the desert, where the Arab takes his course, With none to bear him company, except his gallant horse; Where none can question will or right, where landmarks ne'er impede, But all is wide and limitless to rider and to steed.
No purling streamlet murmurs there, no chequer'd shadows fall; 'Tis torrid, waste and desolate, but free to each and all. Through the desert, through the desert! Oh, the Arab would no change, For purple robes or olive-trees, his wild and burning range."


[53] It is now the fashion in French writers to represent the Arabic ‮غ‬ by the Roman R, as R'dames for Ghadames.

[54] ‮هرب الي الجبل‬

[55] Fullans.—Mungo Park says: "The Foulahs are chiefly of a tawny complexion, with silky hair, and pleasing features."—M. D'Avezac says: "In the midst of the Negro races, there stands out a métive (mezzo-termino?) population, of tawny or copper colour, prominent nose, small mouth, and oval face, which ranks itself amongst the white races, and asserts itself to be descended from Arab fathers, and Tawrode(?) mothers. Their crisped hair, and even woolly though long, justifies their classification among the oulotric (woolly-haired) populations; but neither the traits of their features, nor the colour of their skin, allow them to be confounded with Negroes, however great the fusion of the two types may be." Major Rennell calls them the "Leucœthiopes of Ptolemy and Pliny." Mr. D'Eichthal thinks them to be of Malay origin, on account of their language; but Dr. Pritchard considers them to be a genuine African race.




His Excellency the Rais questions me on my rumoured Journey to Soudan.—The Devil has in safe keeping all who are not Mahometans.—I am wearing to a Skeleton.—A Caravan of Women.—Predestination.—The Shânbah begin their Foray.—The Gardens and their Products.—Varieties of the Date-Palm.—Locusts.—Brigands spare the Property of the Marabout Merchants of Ghadames.—Agricultural Implements in The Desert.—Violent capture of a Souf Caravan by the Governor.—Uses of the Date-Palm.—The Touarghee Bandit's opinion as to Killing Christians.—Combat between an Ant and a Fly.—Loose Phraseology in The Mediterranean.—Harsh Hospitality of the Souafah, and Usurpation over their Oases by the French.—Money disappearing from Ghadames.—The Affair of Messrs. Silva and Levi, and their connexion with Ghadamsee Slave-Dealers.—Visit, with his Excellency the Governor, the Ruins of Kesar-el-Ensara "the Castle of the Christians."—Antiquity of Ghadames, and Account of it by Leo Africanus.


The 23rd, 24th, and 25th, employed in writing letters. On one of these days the Rais called me to him and asked, "Whether I really intended to go to Soudan, as the people had reported to him?" I told him Yes, and that I was already making preparations. His Excellency affected great amazement, and looked exceedingly mysterious, but did not know what to reply. At last he observed, "I must write to Ahmed Effendi of The Mountains, and if he says you may go, all well, if not, you must not go." I then asked the Rais, what I was to do in Ghadames? His Excellency said anxiously, "Stay with me to keep me company. I am surrounded[331] with barbarians. I am weary of my life here." As the Rais spoke what I knew to be the truth, I pitied him and said nothing, although I could not understand this asking of permission from Ahmed Effendi, whom I knew to be a queer customer to deal with. However, I interpreted the sense of Colonel Warrington's letter to Rais, viz., "If I had friends I might venture further into the interior, if not, stay where I was until I made friends." I believe the sympathy of the Rais sincere, which is a great deal for a Turk, or even any body else in this insincere and lying world. He is a timid man, and is afraid the Touaricks will make an end of me. What the Rais says is reasonable enough: "Bring me a Ghadamsee, or a respectable Arab merchant whom I know, and who will take you with him, and be answerable for your head (safety), and will protect you equally with himself, then I have no fears for your safety." I took my friend Zaleâ to the Rais, who is a native of Seenawan, and much respected by all. The camels of the giant left to-day for Ghat, his giantship himself waits to be conducteur of our caravan.

In replying to an observation about another increase of taxes of which the people bitterly complained, I said, "The Mahometan princes are now the greatest oppressors of the people, whilst the Christian kings are more tolerant, and people enjoyed more security under our Governments." My taleb replied, "Yes, it is the truth, Yâkob, and this is the reason. The Devil knows that all the Christians, and Jews, and black kafers, belong to him. So he troubles them not, they are his safe property and sure possession. But he is always stirring up amongst us Mussulmans evil passions, and leading our sovereigns[332] to oppress the people, and one Mussulman to oppress another." Such is the reasoning of a bigoted Moslemite, and with him and others it has considerable force. Indeed, a Christian stands a very poor chance with these subtle orthodox doctors.

26th.—The mornings grow colder and colder. I feel the change sensitively, more so than the natives; am exceedingly chilly. I perceive the hot weather has dried up or torn off the flesh from my bones, and my feet are very skinny. Attribute this a good deal to the water. Rais is almost worn to a skeleton. This morning he called his servants to attest, how stout he was when he first came here. But as the heat is gone, I shall not now drink so much water. The more malicious, in revenge for Turkish oppression here, hope and pray the Rais will die of the climate, and every Turk who succeeds him.

To-day the Touarick women leave for Ghat. No men go with them, only some of their little sons. About ten women form this caravan. They have camels to carry their water, and ride on occasionally when they are fatigued. I asked a Ghadamsee whether these women were not afraid to go by themselves, particularly now as banditti are reported to be in the routes. He replied, "These Touarick women are a host of witches and she-devils. No men will dare to touch them." This ghafalah of women is a perfectly new idea to me. Some of the women are quite young and pretty, and delicate, and don't appear as if they could bear twenty days' desert-travelling. One said to me, "If you will go with us women, we will take better care of you than the men can do."

27th.—Occupied in writing. Rais paid me a visit in the afternoon. Gave one of the slaves who came with[333] him a pill-box, which highly delighted the boy. I found when I visited Rais again, that his Excellency himself had become so enamoured with the pill-box, as to purchase it from his slave. Said continues bad with ophthalmia. The disease seems to attack mostly people of this country, and not strangers. At any rate it would seem that we require to be acclimated to catch these diseases, as well as acclimated to resist them. Rais took it into his head to preach to me about the decrees of Heaven. "You and I," said his Excellency, "were great fools to come to this country; I to leave Constantinople, you to leave London. But it was the decree of God that we should come to this horrible country." The decrees of Heaven, or the acknowledgment of such, are the bonâ fide religion of Ghadames. "What do the people eat?" I said to a man. He replied, "What is decreed!" Another interposed, "Don't be afraid of the Touaricks; you will not die before the time which is decreed by Heaven for you to die." Such is consolation in man's misery. Are we to believe this? or why not believe it?

28th, 29th, and 30th.—Employed in preparing routes of The Desert. This evening the Governor received a letter from his spies in Souf, which reports that the Shânbah had left their country four days before they wrote, which is now fifteen days. It is not known whether the banditti have taken the route to Ghat or Ghadames. His Excellency has taken precautionary measures, and sent soldiers to look out in the routes near our city. He has also sent to bring back a merchant who started yesterday to Touat, and another to Derge. The freebooters are 100 horse, and 400 camels strong. The Giant Touarick taking the alarm, and mounting his[334] strongest and fleetest Maharee, has gone off to protect his family and country. He was one of the expedition last year, and slew a dozen Shânbah with his own hand. In the meanwhile caravaning to all quarters is to be stopped.

31st.—Purchased an outfit for Said. Afterwards he would put them on, and walked all over the town, and left me to cook the dinner myself. I said nothing to him, humouring his vanity. No people are so fond of new and fine clothes as Negroes.

1st November.—A strong wind blowing from the south-east, or nearly east. Not very cold, clouds thick and dark, and no sun. The music of the wind in the date-palms is very agreeable, and tunes my soul to a quiet sadness. The Ghadamsee merchant who was overtaken on his road to Tourat, refuses to come back, and says he trusts in God against the Shânbah. Some Souf Arabs have come in to-day, giving out that the French wish to assume the sovereignty over their country. The able-bodied men of the united oases are calculated at 2,000.

Visited the gardens with my taleb as cicerone. Was much gratified with the rural ramble, although there is nothing remarkable to be seen. The three principal productions are dates, of which there is a great variety, some thirty or forty different sorts[56]; barley and ghusub[57].[335] The ghusub is grown in the Autumn and the barley in the Spring; in this way two crops of corn are reaped in the year. A little wheat is now and then grown, but does not thrive. The native date is the madghou (‮مدغو‬) which is also common in Seenawan and Derge. It is small and filbert-shaped, of a black colour, very pleasant when fresh, but when dry very indifferent. I saw no black dates in any other parts of The Sahara. The gardens furnish besides a few vegetables and fruits, such as pomegranates, apricots, peaches, almonds, olives, melons, pumpkins, tomatas, onions, and peppers, a few grape-trees and fig-trees in the choicest gardens, but all in small quantities. There is scarcely a flower or fancy tree but the tout. No person of my acquaintance, except my turjeman, showed much fancy for botany. He had brought an aloe from Tripoli, and planted it in his garden. It is the only one. He has another tree or two besides, which nobody else has. The merchants have brought the varieties of the date-palm from the different oases of The Sahara. Nearly every householder has a garden, and some several. Sometimes a date plantation is divided between two or three families, each cultivating and gathering the fruits of his pet choice palm. Herbage is grown in the gardens for fattening the sheep. Pounded date-stones both fatten sheep and camels. In summer the gardens are intolerable, but in winter deliriously pleasant. Sheikh Makouran is the largest landed-proprietor. He has seventeen gardens; "nearly half the country," as a person observed. So Europe is not the only place in the world where there is such an unequal division of the land. The gardens are small, and the whole number is some two hundred and odd,[336] only the half of which are regularly watered from the Great Spring. As the people can never depend upon rain, the whole culture is conducted on irrigation. The Ghadamsee garden-gate, of all the absurdities of inconvenience is the greatest I ever met with. It is scarcely large enough for a small sheep to enter. Every person entering a garden must not only stoop but crawl through the gate. It is fortunate there are no lusty people here, all being bony and wiry like the Arabs. Not being dependant on rain, the gardens only suffer from the locusts, and now and then a blighting wind. In the Spring of this year these insect marauders passed over the oasis and made a pillage of the date blossoms for thirty days, besides doing much damage to the barley. I encountered a flight of the same horde, which emerged from The Desert and then took to sea, and were scattered over to Malta and Sicily by the wind, when I was travelling from Tunis to the isle of Jerbah late in the Spring. From Ghadames they proceeded en masse to Tripoli and Ghabs, inflicting great damage. When they passed near the gardens of Ghabs, the people climbed up the fruit-trees and made a great noise, screaming and shouting, which kept them from settling in masses on the fruit-trees and vegetables. They also kindled a fire and tried to smoke them away. Many of those which did settle were gathered, cooked, and eaten with great gusto by the people. I met them myself on the immense plains of Solyman; they were the first flight of locusts I ever saw. I had seen locusts on the hills near Mogador, where they are bred in great numbers. Millions of small green things were just starting into being. The locust is a somewhat disproportioned insect, the wings are too fine for the bulk and[337] weight of the body, which explains why they are unable to struggle against the wind; as it is said in the Scriptures, "and when it was morning the east wind brought the locusts." (Exod. x. 13.) They do not fly high, and when they settle on the ground they roll over very clumsily. A flight at a distance looks like falling flakes of snow in a snow-storm. They are mostly of a reddish colour, with lead-coloured bodies, and some of a glaring yellow. The yellow ones are said to be the males, and are not so good eating as the others. The locust tastes very much like a dry shrimp when roasted. They are from an inch and a half to two and a half long. The head is large and square, and very formidable. Hence the Scripture allusion: "and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men." (Rev. ix. 7.) But the prophecy gives them a superadded power which they do not possess, "and unto them was given power as the scorpions of the earth have power;" (v. 3.) for when you catch the locust it makes little resistance and does not bite. Few of these were eating, and most of them were either flying or lay motionless basking in the sun, grouped in hundreds round tufts of long coarse grass. My Moorish fellow-travellers didn't like their appearance. They said the locusts are bad things, and came from the hot country to devour their harvest. It was indeed, an unpleasant sight, this horde of insect marauders, and soon lost the charm of novelty. But the world is made up of the elements of destruction and reproduction. Such is the eternal order of Providence, and we must bear the evil and the good. I do not think that they come far south or from the inner Desert, for they could[338] not be bred in regions of desolation, where there is no green thing. Yet these flights were from the south of Ghadames, and at any rate they are bred in the Saharan districts, from the banks of the Nile to the shores of the Atlantic. The world is full of impostors. One of these went once upon a time to Morocco, and endeavoured to persuade the people he could destroy all the locusts by some chemical process. I believe he was a French adventurer.

2nd.—Occupied in taking notes of routes. The whole day overcast but no rain. Rais alternately laughs and admires the Ghadamsee people. He was endeavouring to prove to me what profound respect the bandits of The Desert entertain for these Marabout people, and said, "If a camel of the Ghadamseeah falls down in The Desert and dies, and no person present has a camel to lend them, they leave the goods or the load of the camel on the high road until they fetch one. Should a bandit pass by in the meanwhile and see the goods, and recognize them to belong to an inhabitant of Ghadames, he does not even touch them, but passes by and calls for the blessing of Heaven upon the Holy City of The Desert." This, one would say, is too good to be true, at the same time, I have no doubt the banditti of The Desert have a species of religious respect for these pacific-minded, unresisting merchants. I took an opportunity of asking Rais about the use and value of his charms. His Excellency replied, "They are to protect me when exposed to robbers like the Shânbah, or to other evils. These charms will then render me great assistance." I I have already said Rais is as big a ninny in these superstitious matters as any of his Maraboutish subjects.[339]

3rd.—Am still in great doubt as to the route I shall take for the interior. Every route has its separate advantages, and separate dangers. In this perplexity what can I do but wait the turn of events? . . . . . Another overcast morning, as dull and foggy as Old England's November. A perfect Thames-London fog. I was accustomed to think that in the bright sky of an African desert such a mass of cloud and haziness was impossible. Still, though gloomy and drear, there is more boldness and definiteness of outline than in England. After a person has been living long under the bright skies of the Mediterranean, he may mistake a clear winter's day on Blackheath, as I have done, for a moonlight, owing to the want of those sharp angles by which nature draws her landscapes in Southern Europe. To-day the face of the heavens has cast its shadows upon the countenance of the population, for all is dull in business. Every one is awaiting the result of the skirmishes between the Touaricks and the Shânbah.

4th.—A fine morning, and not very cold. No patients, everybody apparently in health. My old friend Berka, the liberated slave, is now occupied in turning or digging, or hoeing up a whole garden of good size, about two days and a half's labour, for which he will receive one Tunisian piastre! (Seven pence English money.) This is free labour. I am sure the slave labour, the principal here, cannot be cheaper. The implements of agriculture are few and simple in The Desert. Friend Berka had but a small hoe, which is well described by Caillié, who saw it used near Jinnee, and indeed it seems to be used throughout Central Africa. This hoe is about a foot long, and eight inches broad; the handle, which is[340] some sixteen inches in length, slants very much. With this hoe they turn up the earth instead of the plough, and prepare and open and shut the squares of irrigated fields. For reaping they make use of a small sickle without teeth. The caravans usually have a supply of these sickles for cutting up Desert provender for the camels. The use of the hoe requires constant stooping to the ground and is consequently laborious, but the Saharan fields are very limited, and are soon hoed up. The smallness of space is compensated by a redundant fertility, and double and even treble crops in the course of the year. Passing by a group of gossipping slaves to-day, one came running up to me and said, "Buy me, buy me, and I will go with you to Ghat. I shall only cost you 100 mahboubs." This is humiliating enough, but those who offer their services for sale, like hundreds in the metropolis of London, to write up a bad cause and write down a good one, or to—

"Make the worse appear The better reason—"
"With words cloth'd in reason's garb—"

certainly perform a greater act of degradation than these poor debased bondsmen.

A few evenings ago intelligence arrived that a Souf caravan of eight camels and five persons were seen about a day and a half from this city, proceeding in the route of Ghat. This gave rise to suspicions that the news about the Shânbah and Touaricks was a hoax of the Souafah, in order to frighten the people of Ghadames, and allow them (the Souafah) to get first to the market of Ghat, and buy slaves cheaper. So reason the mer[341]chants with the usual jealousy of such people. Rais, on receipt of the above, summoned his Divan, and it was debated, "Whether the Souafah should not be brought in here by force?" The question was decided in the affirmative, and late at night, fourteen Arab soldiers, two Arabs of Seenawan, intimately acquainted with the routes, and an official of the Rais, went off to seize the caravan. This bold measure may bring us unpleasant consequences. First of all, the Governor has no right to seize a caravan in a district where the Sultan, his master, has no authority, decidedly neutral ground, especially a caravan of strangers. Then the Souafah, in revenge, may attack the caravans of Ghadames. Again, it is a question whether the caravan will come in without fighting, for the Souafah are tough men to deal with. It will be a poor excuse for the Governor to plead before the Pasha, that the caravan was guilty of this hoax, supposing it so, and giving this as the reason for seizing the peaceable caravan of an independent state. Indeed, who shall decide that they gave false intelligence of the Shânbah? And if they did, should this be the punishment for spreading a false report? Many other disagreeable thoughts occur. It is clear there is a violent infraction of international law committed on our neighbour's (the Touarick's) territory.

Talking with a gossip about the character of Moors, and he saying they were "friends of flous (money,)" i. e. mercenary, and adding that the Touattee was the best fellow amongst them. Said, who was present, said to me, "Yes, it is so, and because he is a black man." Said often repeats to me, "In Soudan it will cost you nothing to live; being a stranger, everybody will feed you in our[342] country." Another free black took upon himself to ridicule the constitution of the white man. "Ah," he cried, "what is a white man! a poor weak creature; he can't bear Soudan heat; he gets the fever, and dies. No, it is the black man that is strong, strong always. He never droops or sinks! Look at the strength of my limbs." Such are the traits of character of coloured men in this Saharan world. I add another anecdote. Speaking to Berka one day, I said, "I shall have that Tibboo himself sold as a slave; what right has he to bring people here as slaves and sell them?" Berka mistook my meaning, thinking that, because the Tibboo was black, I wished to have him sold and punished, and not for being a slave-dealer, and the old gentleman got into a great passion, sharply reprimanding me in this style: "Yes, Christian! drop that language; when you get to Soudan you will find everybody black. Drop that language; don't fancy, because the Tibboo is black, you can sell him. Drop that language, for all are black there."

7th.—This morning, after a pursuit of three days, our soldiers brought in the Souf Arabs, which has made a great clamour in the town, as it always happens in disputed cases, the people arranging themselves on different sides as partisans, some for the Rais and others for the Souafah. Called upon the Governor and told him I hoped he would not take the gomerick ("duties") for the goods of the caravan, as the people were brought here against their will. His Excellency said he would not, but merely reprimand them for spreading false news. It appears there is some slight evidence of a hoax, but nothing to justify such a violent measure. The Governor wants to make it out that they might have been Shânbah, when[343] it was well known before their capture they were Souafah.

Every part of the date-palm is turned to account. The fibrous net-work, which surrounds the ends of the branches where they attach themselves to the trunk, is woven into very strong and tough ropes, with which the legs of camels are tied, and horses picketed. The very stones are split and pounded, to fatten all animals here. The branches make baskets of every kind; the dried leaves are burned, and the trunk builds the houses, supplying all the beams and rafters. One day, on looking up to some palm wood-work, the old men present said, "How old do you think that wood is, Yâkob?" "I can't tell," I replied. They observed, "That wood is upwards of three hundred years old. Indeed, we can't tell how long it has been there. Our grandfathers found it there, and it looked just the same then as now." It was large beams of the trunk of the tree, with platted thin pieces of the boughs across them, forming a fantastic zig-zag joice of wood ceiling. The fruit of the date-palm supports man, in many oases, nine months out of twelve. In Fezzan, all the domestic animals, including dogs, and horses, and fowls, eat dates. Such are some of the various and important uses to which this noble tree is turned. The Saharan tribes, likewise, are wont to live for several months of the year upon two other products, viz., milk and gum. Milk I have mentioned as supporting the Touaricks exclusively six or more months in the year. Gum, also, in the Western Sahara, furnishes tribes with an exclusive sustenance for many months. Even the prickly-pear, or fruit of the cactus, will support a Barbary village for three months. It is, there[344]fore, not surprising the Irish peasant may live on potatoes and milk the greater part of the year. The bead on the date-stone is the part (vital) whence commences germination, and sprouts the new shoots of the palm. New shoots spring up all over the oases, but particularly in those places where water is abundant, and within and about the ducts of irrigation. These shoots are collected for the new plantations, and the female plants carefully separated from the males, and these latter destroyed. Only a few male plants are kept for impregnation.

8th.—Warm this morning, the cold weather gone apparently for a short time. No patients. The long-expected ghafalah from Tripoli has arrived by the way of Derge, avoiding the more dangerous route of Seenawan, by which latter I came here. No mail. All the people now in a hurry to be off to Ghat, as their goods have arrived. I begin to feel extremely irritable and irresolute at the prospect of the new unknown Desert journey. The old bandit called, and asked, "Well, are you going?" I answered, "Yes, very soon, but I must first have a letter of permission from the Pasha of Tripoli, so the Rais says, for the Pasha is greatly afraid you Touaricks will cut my throat." "God! God! God!" exclaimed the bandit; "I'll risk my head that you'll go on safe to Ghat and Aheer. But, as for those villains, the Touaricks of Timbuctoo, those, I'll grant you, are cut-throats." As I was about to take leave of the old brigand, I gave him a piastre, and said, "Now tell me fairly, and as an honest man, what is the reason that the Touaricks kill Christians, and why did they kill the English officer who went to Timbuctoo?" "Stop,[345] stop," the brigand replied, very pleased with the piastre, "I'll tell you. There are three reasons. First (scratching with his spear on the ground), the Christians will not say that Mahomet is the prophet of God. Second (again scratching with his spear on the ground), the Christians are the brothers of Pharaoh, and have plenty of money; we are poor, we kill you for your money. Third (again scratching), you wish to take our country. You have nearly all the world; you have robbed us of Algeria, and Andalous. Why don't you stop in the sea, where you are? We shall not come to you. We don't like the sea." Seeing I could make nothing of the old sinner, so cunning was he, I gave him a piece of sugar for his little son, and he went away. I thought often of the words which I had recently read in the Arabic, "The time will come when those who kill you will think that they render service to God," (John xvi. 2,) when discussing so repeatedly this question of the killing of Christians by the Touaricks with the Rais, with the people of Ghadames, and with the Touaricks themselves. But has this principle alone reference to the wild tribes of The Sahara? Has it not had a pointed application in all the authenticated annals of the world? Take our own era. The Jew thought he did service to God by killing those who confessed Christ. Then the Imperial Roman, he immolated the Christian who worshipped not the image of Cæsar. Then the Roman Christian killed the heretic Donatist, lighting up the flames of persecution in this Africa. Then the Catholic killed the Protestant, and deluged Europe with a sea of blood. Thus in England we enacted our penal laws against Catholics and Protestant Dissenters, some of which,[346] to our shame, still exist on the statute book. What a horrid heritage of murder for conscience' sake has been transmitted to us in this nineteenth century? And is the present fratricidal war in Switzerland unconnected with this principle of blood and persecution! No; and again, no! How, then, can we find fault with the barbarians of the Great Desert? Nay, contrarily, those who follow me through The Desert, will find the Saharan Barbarians infinitely more tolerant than the mild, and the gentle, and the polished, and the educated, and the civilized, and the Christianized professors of religion in our own great Europe!

This afternoon the first portion of the Ghadamsee Soudanic caravan left for Ghat, consisting of about twenty-five camels, and some ten merchants and traders. This is merely a detachment. The larger portion of the population went to see them off, and several families were dressed in their best clothes, as on festas. It is the usual custom on the departure and return of caravans. Two or three mounted on saddled Maharees accompanied the caravan a day's journey. I have many offers of the people, as in The Mountains, to accompany me to Ghat: a strange infatuation for such rigid Moslems as the Ghadamseeah!

To-day I witnessed in my court-yard or patio a tremendous struggle between an ant and a fly: both species of insects are very numerous in Ghadames, and there is a great number of various coloured ants. The ant got hold of the muzzle of the fly, or its neck, and there grasped it with as firm a grasp as it is possible to conceive of one animal grasping another. In vain the fly struggled and flapped its wings; over and over again[347] the combatants rolled as these weak defences beat the air: and yet they must have had great force in them, for they flung over the ant, of a good size, some hundred times. The struggle continued a full half hour. I once or twice took them up on a piece of straw, but the ant never let go its hold on the fly, and paid no attention to me. At last, the fly was exhausted, and ceased to flap its tiny wings. The sanguinary ant strangled the poor silly fly, as some sharper strangles or ruins his poor dupe. After death, the ant seemed busy at sucking its blood. Satiated with this, the ant attempted to convey the fly away, dead as it was, but thinking better of the matter, the carcase was abandoned. I observed that the combat went on in the midst of a thousand flies, but alas! these rendered their fellow, in this his death-struggle, against a common foe, no assistance. Such is the way the tyrants of the earth succeed! They strike down the friends of freedom one by one, and the people, as silly as the flies, leave their champions to struggle alone against the common oppressor of mankind, only thinking of what they shall eat and drink, in which fashion adorn themselves, and how they shall fill up sufficiently the measure of their idle days of folly.

The whole phraseology of the Mediterranean is very loose in the designation of persons and objects. The Italians call every Mussulman un Turco, "a Turk." The French of Algeria call every Mohammedan resident amongst them "un Arab." So the Moors and Arabs here call all people who are not Mussulmans Ensara, ‮الانصرا‬, "Christians," whether Pagans, Idolaters, or what not. I was writing some information from the mouth of a Moor, and got into a scrape. He told me there were[348] plenty of Ensara in Soudan, and I thought these might be Abyssinian Christians, until I reflected that it was merely the ordinary denomination of those who are not Moslemites.

9th.—Slept very little during the past night; always dreaming of Timbuctoo. The further an object is from you the nearer it is to your thoughts. The morning broke with a violent wind from the south-east, which is exceedingly disagreeable. Rais continues very gracious, and sends me constantly cakes, being a portion of what he receives as presents from the people.

I omit a great deal about Souf politics, not being anxious to worry the reader with French and Tuniseen Saharan diplomacy. But a Souafee's notion of hospitality is rather, I should think, rigid. I said to a Souafee, whose acquaintance I have made, "I shall come to your country, and write all about it."

"If you dare," he replied, "by G—d, the people will immediately cut your throat."

I.—"I will get an amer ('order') from the Bey of Tunis, which will protect me."

"No, no," rejoined the Souafee, "the people will tear the amer to pieces, and set the Bey, the French, and all Christians, at defiance."

No doubt the Souafah, the most interesting Arabs of all this region, are very fierce of their independence, which explains their jealousy of the French, and their determinedly withholding any mark of sovereignty, in the way of tribute, from the Bey of Tunis. It appears, however, two or three of the small districts have really consented to pay a tribute to the French, an act of decided usurpation on the part of France, as the Souf[349] oases "formerly did acknowledge" the sovereignty of Tunis. It is, nevertheless, a pleasing trait in the character of the Souafah, that they have permitted some thirty families of Jews to settle amongst them, a concession not yet made by the Marabouts of Ghadames.

Within my couple of months' residence here, how rapid has been the impoverishment of the country! Everything gets worse and worse. Now, it is almost impossible to get change for a Tunisian piastre. I've been two days trying to get change, and have not yet succeeded. The money in circulation is principally Tunisian piastres; but since the Turks have come, Turkish money also passes. There are, besides, a quantity of Spanish dollars and five-franc pieces. Apparently, all the money has left the country, or is hidden by the people. A good deal, I have no doubt, has been hidden within a few weeks. The Governor himself laments that he changed a dollar yesterday for two karoubs (two pence) less than its current value in Tripoli. His Excellency is very low-spirited, and very sick. His Excellency prays that the Pasha will allow him to return to Tripoli a few months. Being a good man, the system of extortion which he is obliged to put in practice to meet the demands of the Pasha, makes his heart sick. His Excellency assured me, that if the Souf Arabs had not lately brought some money, with which they purchased slaves for the markets of Algeria, there would have been no money left in the country. The merchants say their affairs must now be transacted in the way of barter, as in Soudan. I am particular in noticing these things, and the cause of the impoverishment of these unhappy people, as showing the curse of the Turkish system on the transactions of commerce.[350]

My taleb wrote in my journal this splendid Arabic proverb:

الرجال سناديق مغلقة ومفاتحها التجريب صدور الرجال سنادق الاسرار

"Men are locked-up boxes—experience opens them; the bosom of man is a box of secrets."

10th.—To-day I ran about town to tire myself, in order to sleep at nights. This morning, one of the two expected ghafalahs of Tripoli, consisting of 117 camels and twenty traders of Ghadames, arrived; the other ghafalah will arrive in a few days. The ghafalah has brought goods only for the interior. The merchants just come report in town, "That Yâkob (myself) has written to the English Consul of Tripoli, informing him how Aaron (Signor Silva) lends money and goods to the merchants of Ghadames, with which goods and money to go into the interior, and traffick in slaves." This is substantially correct; but it was written in confidence to Colonel Warrington, and to no other person in Tripoli. I expressly begged Colonel Warrington not to divulge the fact, or my mention of such a matter, until I was out of the lion's mouth of the slave-dealing interests of this part of North Africa. The Consul, however, deemed it his duty to disregard my request, and to divulge or violate this confidence, and posted up a placard on the door of the Tripoline Consulate, stating, "That certain merchants, under British protection, were accused of slave-dealing with the merchants of Ghadames, and calling upon them to clear themselves from such an imputation." Of course, as there was nobody else likely to[351] make such an accusation but myself, being well known as an anti-slavery man in Tripoli, the public attention was at once directed to me as the accuser. The other merchant alluded to is Mr. Laby (Levi), a Barbary Jew, and the head of a house in Tripoli. Mr. Silva is also a Jew, but from Europe. This report, circulating from mouth to mouth, has created a tremendous sensation in Ghadames; and the people fancy they see in it not only a blow aimed at them and the slave-trade, but the final ruin of their commerce, already sufficiently crippled by the oppression of the Turks. I am, therefore, obliged to Colonel Warrington, not so much for facilitating my progress in the interior, as for increasing my difficulties a hundred-fold. I was astonished that a high functionary, of thirty-three years' experience in these countries, should have committed such an act of egregious indiscretion, exposing the life of a fellow countryman to such increased danger, who was already without any kind of guaranteed protection. If I had been murdered in The Desert tract from Ghadames to Ghat, it would have most justly been attributed to the placard placed on the doors of the Consulate at Tripoli. Justice requires from me, however, that I should state an indiscretion also on my part. I wrote to the Consul that I had communicated the charge against Messrs. Silva and Levi to the Secretary of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, and did not add, as I ought perhaps to have done, that I had likewise begged of Mr. Scoble not to make the charge public for the present. Colonel Warrington was afraid the charge would be known in London before he had reported upon it, and in this way his Consulate might suffer in the eyes of Government. Now I shall not[352] trouble the reader with the proof of the charge. It must already have been seen, that as the merchants of Ghadames are drained of all their capital by the Turkish Government, they, the merchants of Ghadames, are obliged to fall back upon the merchants of Tripoli, who will give them credit, some of which latter are under British protection. So Sheikh Makouran complained to me he could not now trade without the credit of Silva, so the people told me the house of Ettanee, the other great mercantile firm of this country, had received several thousand dollars' worth of goods on credit from the Messrs. Laby, and so the Rais frequently has told me, the money of the merchants of Ghadames is in the holding of those of Tripoli, who are mostly under European protection. The question is, whether such a state of things can be brought under the provision of Lord Brougham's Act, for preventing British merchants from trading in slaves, or aiding others to trade in slaves, in foreign countries. It is a very delicate subject, because the modes of evading the Act, by private and secret contracts, are innumerable. British juries are also unwilling to convict parties under this Act, and the case of Zulueta failed not so much from the want of evidence as from the unwillingness of the jury to come to an impartial decision on the evidence.

Whilst reflecting upon my very critical position, my poor Said came in from the streets very much cast down, and very sulky.

"What's the matter?" I asked.

"Oh!" blubbered Said, "the people are all talking about your telling the Consul that the Jews lend them goods to trade in slaves. They hate you now."[353]

"Never mind," I returned, "it will pass away soon."

Said had already become a staunch abolitionist, both from principle and circumstances, and often asked me, "When the English would put down the slave-trade in Tripoli?" Said is by no means so stupid as I first took him to be. I immediately determined not to go out for two or three days until the excitement had somewhat abated. In the evening I had many visitors, who all spoke of my accusation against Levi and Silva. I met the accusations by a deprecatory proposal of this kind: "Would the Ghadamsee merchants consent to abandon the traffic in slaves, on the conditions that some English merchants would furnish them with goods on credit at a lower rate than that which they obtained them from Levi and Silva: if so, I would write about it to the Consul? And, likewise, I would ask the Consul to get their Soudan goods charged only five per cent. importation, which was the sum paid for European goods coming into Tripoli; thereby equalizing the per centage of the imports and exports." My merchant friends received this proposal very favourably, and swore there was no profit in slaves, and declared themselves ready to give up the traffic. Some proposed that they should try the gold trade of Timbuctoo, and leave the Soudan trade altogether. The traffic to Soudan is two-thirds in slaves or more. I knew, however, that to expect such a thing from the Turks, was all but hopeless,—their grand maxim of Government being to depress and to destroy, not to help and build up,—and I made to them the proposition chiefly with the object of diverting the odium of the accusation from myself. But yet, who does not see that the proposal is well worthy the attention of any Govern[354]ment that wishes to establish in Africa a legitimate commerce, a system of trade which a good man and a good Government may approve of and support?

Sixty Arab soldiers came yesterday from The Mountains to protect the people whilst they are building the caravansary of Emjessem. A merchant made a present to-day of some slave neck-irons and leg-irons to the Rais. His Excellency said to me, "I had none before, it was necessary to have some of these things, in case they should be wanted for the banditti who might be captured." A person justly observed, "Before the Truk (Turks) we had no need of these things, except for runaway slaves, and we seldom used them." The Irishman who discovered himself to be in a civilized country from the erection of a gallows, might have equally proved the advance of civilization in The Sahara from this fact.

11th.—Feel greatly discomposed on account of the news which has transpired respecting the joint dealings of Silva and Levi with our Ghadamsee merchants. One trouble succeeds another, as the angry waves beating on the rocky shore. First the pain of delay, then sickness, now other matters, then the prospect of a dangerous journey through The Desert, with a people who may look upon me with dislike, distrust, and every kind of suspicion. . . . . . In the past night, blew a gale from the north-west. Slept very little. Also troubled with a large boil. Received a visit from some of my old Arab friends of the Rujban Mountains, who regaled themselves with bread and dates. Called on the Rais, who was as friendly as ever. If his Excellency have heard the report, he has the delicacy to say nothing about it. His Excellency told me he had dispatched ninety-two shatahs,[355] or mails, during the fifteen months which he has been in Ghadames. It is reported in town, that Signor Silva is in a great fright, and fears being arrested by the British Consul at the order of the Queen. A notary visited me to-day, laughed at the news of Silva, and was very friendly; he protested the people got nothing by slave-dealing. Begin to feel relieved, but I see clearly some discouraging circumstances. My taleb comes in as usual, but the turjeman is frightened and keeps away. Several of the merchants positively affirm, that now, since the market of Tunis is shut, and the Pasha takes ten dollars duty on each slave, there is no profit in slave-dealing. However, news has arrived from Ghat that a great many slaves are coming with the next caravan from Soudan.

This evening was glad to go with the Rais to see the ruins of Kesar-El-Ensara, ‮قصر الانصرا‬, "The Castle of the Christians," although I had seen them often before. It was a great relief to me. The Rais put his head down to the vaults under the ruins to listen to the conversation of the Jenoun, or "Demons." His Excellency said he thought he heard the Demons talking. The ruins are situate about half a mile from the walls of the city S.SW. All the piles have a small vault under them, apparently for water, but it might have been an excavated tomb. The people pretend that these ruins are four thousand years of age. A son of the late Yousef Bashaw, on a visit to Ghadames, about thirty years ago, to amuse himself and frighten the demons, blew up a large portion of the ruins with gunpowder. Previously the ruins were much more perfect and imposing. I have made a sketch of what remains of these ancient buildings. The style of the buildings can be easily distinguished from the[356] modern by its being composed of a very white cement and small stones, half the size of ordinary paving stones, the cement being in a large proportion. My turjeman once pointed out to me a piece of the ancient walls of the city, still remaining, exactly corresponding to these ruins. I have seen frequent ruins of ancient Roman walls, representing the same kind of building in North Africa. This Kesar-El-Ensara, together with the bas-relief, and the Latin inscription, copied by a Moor from a tomb-stone, beginning with the words "Diis Manibus," are more than sufficient evidence to prove that Ghadames was "colonized," as it was called, by the Romans, and probably earlier by the Greeks and Carthaginians. The same Moorish prince who blew up the ruins, carried away also to Tripoli the tomb-stone, from which a Moor copied the inscription, and which transcript I brought with me from Ghadames. The copyist of this inscription says, he affixed the Arabic letters in order that the Mussulman might compare them with the Christian letters and find out their sense, but he himself did not know what were their meaning. On returning from Kesar-El-Ensara, we looked around and were painfully impressed with the appalling barrenness of The Sahara. The Rais said, "Ah, these people, little know they what a garden is my country compared to this!" The Rais then stumbled over a small solitary herb and exclaimed instinctively, Hamdullah, "Praise to God," picking it up. What attracted our attention was the almost infinite number of small serpentine camel-tracks, wriggling endlessly through the wastes of The Sahara. The Rais said, "Those Touaricks are incarnate Genii! they know all these paths:" pointing south towards Ghat.[357]

Ancient Ruins of Ghadames

Ghadames, ‮غدامس‬, is the ancient Cydamus, the name being precisely the same. In the year 19 before our era, it was subjugated by Cornelius Balbus, being at that period in the possession of a people called Garamtes. The Romans are said to have embellished it, and probably built the fortifications whose ruins have been just described. In an ancient itinerary, from Tunis to Ghadames, we find the following names of stations, viz., Berezeos, Ausilincli, Agma, Augemmi, Tabalata, Thebelami and Tillibari. Leo Africanus, gives the subjoined account of Ghadames:

Gademes, abitazione.—Gademes è una grande abitazione, dove sono molti castelli e popolosi casali, discosti dal mare Mediterraneo, verso mezzogiorno, circa a trecento miglia. Gli abitatori sono ricchi di possessioni di datteri, e di danari, perciocchè sogliono mercatantare nel paese de' Negri: e si reggono da lor medesimi, e pagano tributo agli Arabi; ma prima erano sotto il re di Tunis, cioè il luogotenente di Tripoli. E vero che quivi il grano e la carne sono molto cari.—(Part vi., chap. lii.)


[56] In the Tunisian Jereed there are more than two hundred different varieties. Some thrive in one kind of soil, and some in another. At first it is difficult for a stranger to distinguish these varieties, but when his eye becomes practised, he can easily do so at a great distance.

[57] Ghusub, ‮قسب‬, a species of millet. Pennisetum Tyhoideum. Rich. It is called drâ in Tunis and bishma in Tripoli.




Weariness and Exhaustion in Preparating and Waiting to Depart.—Cold intensely set in.—Excitement of the Messrs. Silva and Levi affair subsiding.—Suffer from Bad Health.—Pet Ostrich.—Longevity in The Desert.—Mahometan Doctrine of Judicial Blindness.—Custom of Dipping and Sopping in Meats.—Mahometan Propositional Form of Doctrine.—The Wild-Ox, or Bughar Wahoush.—Salting and Drying Meat for Preservation.—My Friend, the Arab Doctor.—Ravages of Shânbah Brigandage.—The Immemorial Character of the Arab.—Excess of Transit Duties.—Person and Character of Rais Mustapha.—Character of Sheikh Makouran.—Testimonial of the People of Ghadames in my Favour.—Personal Character of my Taleb and Turjeman.—Quarrel with a Wahabite.—Said gets Saucy and Unruly, and development of his Character.—Purchase my Nagah or she-Camel.—Departure from Ghadames, and False Report of the appearance of the Shânbah.


12th.Slept little during the night. Sorry I can't read during the nights on account of my eyes. But somewhat improved in health. Saw several merchants who say nothing of the Levi and Silva business. I'm in hopes this subject will not be agitated during the few days I have to remain in Ghadames. The second ghafalah has arrived but brings me nothing, not even the medicines ordered from Tripoli. Patience! What can be done? The Governor affected this evening to be very indignant against the son of Yousef Bashaw for destroying the ruins of Kesar-El-Ensarah. The Turks are becoming antiquaries, and, perhaps, begin to see the uselessness and folly of destroying ancient buildings[359] for the sake of destroying them, even though they belong to an infidel age. To their credit, the Moors themselves are fond of antiquity in churches, and will patch up a marabet or mosque as long as they can. The Rais, still frightened, suggests that I should return to Tripoli. But I cannot now, I will not. I ought not, for I have acted over all the pains and perils of the journey to Soudan many days and nights, and exhausted myself with expectations, casualties, probabilities and conceivabilities, &c., &c. I am now, in truth, suffering all sorts of maladies, mental and bodily. Such is the wretched existence we are doomed to sustain! And yet is not this our mortal existence a still greater curse to the man, who lives without an object and without an aim?

13th.—Talk of heat and the burning desert, I had last night an attack of cold, which I shall not forget to the latest day of my life! My limbs all shrunk together, my teeth chattered, and I did not know what pains or disease was about to come upon me. This happened whilst undressing. I immediately dressed myself in all my thickest heaviest clothes, lay down, and in twenty minutes happily recovered from the attack. But scarcely slept all night, got a few winks of sleep this morning. I attribute all this to the nervous agitation of advancing into The Desert without a guide or friend, on whom I can rely, combined with the severity of the season fast setting in. Glad to see the sensation of the Silva business dying away. People begin to laugh at me about it, and call the Consul Sheytan for disclosing the purport of a letter written confidentially to him. However, I cannot conceive that Colonel Warrington was influenced by any other feelings than those which resulted from[360] a strict sense of duty. Apparently zealous in the performance of his public avocations, he was determined to discharge them at any cost, even at the sacrifice of the life of a fellow-countryman. This is all I can now say about the matter. Fortunately I was well known here, and the people could not believe that it was from any ill-will to them that I denounced the parties, which I hope the reader will give me credit for; nor, indeed, could I have any hostile feelings against the Tripoline merchants. What I wish, and I imagine every friend of Africa does the same, is to see a legitimate commerce established in The Desert. It is curious to hear the Touatee. He says he is sure I never wrote the letter at all, although I tell him I did, and believes it an invention of people in Tripoli. He won't believe his friend Yâkob would breathe a syllable against the people of Ghadames.

14th.—Slept very little during the night and cannot. Am really reduced to very low disagreeable feelings. Have an immense boil on my back, and another on my arm, which I attribute to the effect of the climate on my constitution, or to drinking Ghadames water.

News have come of the Shânbah having left their sandy wilds on a free-booting expedition, leaving only the old men, women, and children behind, for these banditti propagate through all time a race of Saharan robbers, the scourge of The Desert. Five weeks ago they took their departure towards Ghat, and it is thought they wish to intercept our caravan now leaving. Also a skirmish has taken place between some Souafah banditti and Arabs of Algeria. These banditti were routed, leaving eighteen dead on the field and many camels.

An ostrich, caught at Seenawan, has been brought in[361] here and presented to the Rais. His Excellency promised to give him to me if I will return from Soudan viâ Ghadames. He is a young bird and amuses us much, running about the streets, picking up things in character of scavenger. People are trying to make him lie down at the word of command. "Kaed, (lie down)," cries one, "Kaed," another; at length the stunned and stupefied bird lies down.

16th.—Occupied 13th, 14th, and 15th in writing letters. Received a letter from Dr. Dickson, of Tripoli, expressing friendly feelings. He has prepared some more medicines, packed them up, and charged them to me. Received a very friendly letter also from Colli, Sardinian Consul at Tripoli. Mr. Colli is a fine classical scholar, and the only consul I have met with in North Africa who pays any attention to classical literature. The late Mr. Hay of Tangier, had the reputation amongst some people of being a classical scholar.

Continue unwell and in low spirits, or as the Negroes say, am possessed by the Boree ("blue devils.") Days are short, and nights tedious and painful to me, as I cannot use my eyes by lamp-light, on account of a slight continued ophthalmia. Nothing remarkable to-day. If you want to feel alone in the world, which at times has its advantages, go into The Desert.

17th.—To my great satisfaction the mail arrived this morning, bringing letters and newspapers. The Governor is very friendly and is in better health. Quarrelled with Ben Mousa, my taleb, for eating Said's dinner when I was out of the way; to-day Said got him reconciled to me. Haj Mansour's family consists of thirty-two persons, all living in one house. This is the great quasi[362] negro-merchant before mentioned. His father died a Saharan veteran of the age of one hundred and one. He had been more than a hundred times over The Desert trading. Yesterday died a man at the age of ninety-six. There are several women now living more than eighty. How long these poor creatures survive their feminine charms! A woman in The Desert gets old after thirty. I think, from what I have heard, people live to a great age in this and other oases—if not to a good and happy old age. Some remarkable cases of longevity in The Desert have been narrated by Captain Riley. Said says the people rob us desperately when they make our bread. We usually buy the wheat and have it ground and made into bread at the same time. I tell Said we must expect this sort of pilfering where there are so many hungry people.

My taleb began his interminable discussions on religion. He said he had hoped that I should have recognized Mahomet as the prophet of God, being acquainted as I was with Arabic, the language of truth and unmatched by any language in the world[58]. I replied language was not enough, other things were necessary; besides, indeed, some of the Mussulman doctors had said the Koran could be imitated and even excelled. The taleb replied, "A lie! the doctors were heretics and infidels, it is impossible to imitate the Koran's beautiful language," citing the well-known words of Mahomet:—

"Answer.—Bring therefore a chapter like unto it;[363] and call whom you may to your assistance, besides God, if ye speak the truth."—(Surat ii., entitled "Jonas.")

The taleb then turned to my turjeman, who was present, and cited another passage, thinking I did not understand what it was. The passage quoted was the famous anathema of judicial blindness denounced against infidels:—

"As to the unbelievers, it will be equal to them whether thou admonish them, or do not admonish them; they will not believe. God hath sealed up their hearts and their hearing; a dimness covereth their sight, and they shall suffer a grievous punishment."—(Surat ii., entitled "the Cow.")

This is evidently an imitation[59] of our Scriptural passages, of which there are several:

"Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, saying, Go unto this people and say, Hearing ye shall hear and shall not understand, and seeing ye shall see and not perceive. For the heart of this people has waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I[364] should heal them."—(Acts xxviii. 25, 26, 27.) So we have in John x. 26:—"But you believe not because you are not of my sheep."

Besides these imitations, Mahomet has made differences for the sake of differences. So the Sabbath of the Moslemites is on the Friday, because that of the Christians and Jews is on the Saturday and Sunday. I taxed my taleb with his quotation. He did not flinch or blink a hair of the eyelid, but said, "You Christians cannot believe if you would, because God has blinded your eyes and hardened your hearts." "Why do you complain of us?" I remonstrated. "I do not complain," he rejoined, "it is all destined." I then related a story of predestination which I had heard, of one man asking another, "If all things were predestined?" and he replying, "Yes;" the questioner immediately threw him out of the window, saying, "Well, that is also predestined." An old Moor sitting by, very attentively listening, exclaimed immediately, "Well, even that throwing out of the window, Yâkob, was also predestined." Said then brought in some stewed meat. I gave my theological disputants, reasoning—

"Of Providence, foreknowledge, will and fate, Fix'd fate, free will, foreknowledge absolute, And found no end, in wandering mazes lost,"

some bread, and they began breaking it and dipping it in the gravy of the meat, the invariable custom here. Spoons they abominate, it is either their fingers, or sopping. The Biblical reader will easily recognize the custom. I took the Testament and read to the taleb this passage:—"And," said Jesus, "He it is to whom I[365] shall give a sop, when I have dipped it; and he took a sop and gave it to Judas Simon Iscariot."—(John xiii. 26.)

The taleb was greatly delighted, and said, "Yes, so it was in all times before the infidels introduced knives and forks and spoons to eat with." I observed it was much more cleanly to eat with knives and forks than with one's fingers, but it was useless. He only replied, "There's water always to wash your hands." The sop mentioned in the passage cited might consist of a piece of bread dipped into a dish of fat or broth. So all Ghadames people eat, dipping pieces of bread, as they break them from a loaf, into fat or broth, or other dishes of this sort. We shall find, for what cause I cannot tell, the Touaricks using spoons, and spoons which are made in Central Africa, and distributed throughout The Sahara amongst the Touarghee tribes. This little circumstance would seem to be an argument against the Oriental origin of the Touaricks, for, eternally dipping and sopping, and sopping and dipping with the fingers, is coextensive with the migrations of the Arabs and other tribes from the East. Jews were the first to introduce knives and forks into Mogador, because they have not the same religious scruples on this head as Mohammedans. Barbary Jews do it in imitation of their European brethren. I shall trouble the reader with another display of the sectarian zeal of my taleb.

To make a proposition, or a double proposition, of a form of the orthodox Christian faith, I had constructed the following, in imitation of the double proposition of the Mahometans, (that is[366]

‮لا لله الّا الله ومحمّد رسول الله‬

"There is one God, and Mahomet is the prophet of God,")

‮لا لله الّا الله ويسوع ابن الله‬

"There is one God, and Jesus is the son of God."

The first proposition is seen to be the same; whilst the divine nature of the Saviour, which is the distinguishing feature of the Christian religion as looked upon by Mussulmans, is added in the words ‮ابن الله‬. The number of syllables is precisely the same, the ‮و‬ being merely considered as the connecting link of the two propositions. But the term ‮عيسي‬ would be much preferable to ‮يسوع‬, being the classic Arabic term. In teaching Christian doctrine to Mussulmans, and, indeed, to all people, it is necessary to adapt our style and language to their style and language and mode of conception. The Catholics, however, carried the adaptation too far when they turned the statues of Jupiter and the Emperors into those of the Apostles and Saints. For the Jews, the proposition could be made thus:—

‮لا لله الّا الله ويسوع هو المسيح‬

"There is one God, and Jesus is the Messiah;"

or as we find the proposition in the first verse of the first chapter of St. Mark,

‮[لا لله الّا الله] ويسوع المسيح ابن الله‬

"There is one God, and Jesus, the Messiah, is the Son of God."

This, being more full of doctrine, including both the divi[367]nity and Messiahship of The Saviour, would, perhaps, be the preferable form of the latter proposition. I showed the taleb these propositions, and he was greatly exasperated, adding it was blasphemy to connect Christian and Jewish ideas with "the Word of God" (‮كلام الله‬). He added, oddly enough, "Such impious things had never been before done in this holy place, this sacred Ghadames."

18th.—The Rais makes a last effort to persuade me to return to The Mountains, and take the route of Fezzan, adding as a reason, which tourists would very properly consider an objection, "that I knew now the route to The Mountains." I rejoined, "From what I have seen of the people of Ghadames, and even the Touaricks, I think I may trust them as well as the people of Tripoli." The Rais: "Well, you are your own master; the Pasha says you may go if you like. The Ghadamseeah and Touaricks are one people; make friends with them. But I'm sorry, after you have seen all my kindness to you, my advice is nevertheless rejected." The Rais now saw I was inexorable, and left off advising.

To-day some wild-ox, bughar wahoush[60],—‮بقر وحوش‬ was brought in from The Desert. This is the hunting time, which lasts three months, and the flesh of this animal supplies a very good substitute for beef. Indeed, the animal is a species of buffalo, but very small, sometimes not much larger than a good-sized English sheep. They are hunted in the sands to the north-west by Souf Arabs, who are excellent hunters, and pursue the chase twenty days together through the sandy regions. People pretend the bughar wahoush does not drink; perhaps they don't drink much. But both the wild ox and the[368] aoudad are occasionally caught near the wells, a sufficient proof they sometimes drink water. I cooked some, and found it of excellent flavour. People call this animal also medicine. I purchased half of one to salt for my journey to Ghat, but spoilt it by too much salting. The salt ate away all the flesh from the bones. I neglected the advice of Said, who assured me people salt meat very little in Soudan. Indeed, they frequently cut the meat into strips and dry it in the sun without salting. In this way caravans are provisioned over The Desert. I ate some, and found it very good. My Arab friend, the old doctor, brought me a small prickly shrub, which he calls El-Had, ‮الحد‬, and says it has powerful purgative qualities, purging even the camels. It abounds in The Sahara.

We, The Desert Quack and English Quack, bandy compliments together.

Desert Quack.—"Whilst you are here, you are the Sublime Doctor (Ettabeeb Elâttheem)." [As much as to say, "When you are not here, I am The Sublime Doctor."]

English Quack.—"How? No, you are always The Sublime Doctor. I am at your disposal. I am your slave."

Desert Quack.—"Impossible! Haram, it is prohibited. You are the wise doctor, you know all things."

English Quack.—"How many people have you killed by your physic?"

Desert Quack [surprised at this abrupt and impertinent question].—"God forefend that I should kill any one! But sometimes Rubbee (God) takes away my patients, and sometimes they get better. But whether they die[369] or live, people always say, 'It is written (predestined).'"

I then related the story of Gil Blas, who bled to death the rich lady, under the precepts of Dr. San Grado, and was challenged in mortal combat by the suitor of the fair dame. On which he observed, "Gil Blas was a dog. I trust the other man killed him. Here we bleed, but we always know when blood enough is left in a man to keep him alive."

"How do you know that?" I replied.

The Taleb.—"1st. I see if he sinks down. 2nd. I ask Rubbee. 3rd. Sometimes the Jenoun (demons) tell me. 4th. If he dies, what matter? Is it not the will of God?"

19th.—Great preparations are now going on for the departure of the ghafalah to Ghat and Soudan. An order has come from the Pasha, that the Rais may take 2,500 instead of 3,250, less 750. This the people must pay. And I hear the poor wretches have at last consented to swallow the bitter pill. Every man, having a small property, or a householder, will pay each five mahboubs; the merchants considerably more. A little by little, till the vitals of this once flourishing oasis are torn out, and it becomes as dead as The Desert around it.

20th.—This morning a slave ghafalah arrives from Ghat with forty slaves. Two escaped en route. What could the poor creatures do in The Desert? They must have perished very soon. The ghafalah brings important news. The Shânbah, 700 strong, had been ravaging the country of the Ghat Touaricks, and had murdered thirty-seven people. The Touaricks were arming, and[370] in pursuit of the Shânbah assassins. Besides this, the Shânbah have captured a Ghadamsee ghafalah, escorted by Touaricks, not respecting a jot the Maraboutish character of this city. It consisted of thirty camels, laden mostly with the property of our merchants. Sheikh Makouran himself lost 2,000 mahboubs. Total loss for the merchants here is about 15,000 dollars. It is the caravan which left these two months ago, and took a letter for me to the Governor of Ain Salah. Both letters have been unlucky; the one sent to Ghat could not be delivered because the Governor was changed; and this one, I imagine, has fallen into the hands of the Shânbah. Two slaves escaped with a water-skin. They then fell in with some Touaricks, who gave them a little bread, and in this dreadful plight they got to Ghat. One died after his arrival. What became of the Touaricks is not yet known. They are probably massacred. I made the acquaintance of these luckless Touaricks, and gave them some medicine to take to Touat. In this foray the Shânbah killed a little child of three years old. When they struck down a man, they ripped open his belly and left him. These Shânbah banditti (who, to my surprise, are lauded in the French works published by the Minister of War, as the most enterprising camel-drivers and merchants in The Sahara,) are, without doubt, what the people say here, the vilest and most bloodthirsty miscreants in The Desert. How strange it is they are Arabs! It is always the Arab, who is the most thorough-going, hereditary, eternal robber of The Desert! Is it because we read, "And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him?" The disposition for brigandage in the[371] soul of the Arab was a proverb of Jewish antiquity. So we have, ‮כַּעֳרָבִי בַּמִּדְבַּר‬, "As the Arabian in the Wilderness." My Arabic translation, which was done by the Missionaries of the Roman Church, follows some of the ancient versions, and renders it ‮مثل اللّص‬ "like the thief in the Desert" (See Jeremiah iii. 2.) Still, Mr. D'Israeli thinks there's nothing like Arab blood, if we read aright his "Tancred," and would have us regenerate the old effete race of Europe by this fiery and bloodthirsty Oriental barbarian, as the Arabian stallion improves our dull race of horses. It is reported, in town, "When the Shânbah cut to pieces the thirty-seven Touaricks, one man was left untouched amidst the slaughter, owing his safety to his Ajab, ‮عجب‬ (amulets), which he wore in great profusion." This lucky charm-clad fellow saw the whole business from first to last, unmoved amidst the commingled cries of the victims and their slaughterers, and made a full report to the Touarghee chiefs. Talking to Rais about this slaughter, his Excellency observed, in the spirit of true Turkish policy, "So much the better. Let the Touaricks and Shânbah slaughter one another, as long as we are left unharmed. The less of them the better for us." So the Turks have always dealt with the quarrels of the Arab tribes in Barbary, rather blowing up the flames of their discord than pacifying them. The Shânbah drove away a thousand camels, besides sheep and oxen, from the Touarick districts. The merchants are all frightened enough, and our departure is deferred, notwithstanding that the slave caravan met with no accident. The Shânbah have now got their booty and revenge, and will probably decamp[372] and leave the route clear for us. Common misfortunes often make friends of enemies. I saw Sheikh Makouran and Mohammed Ben Mousa Ettanee, the two principal merchants representing the factions of Weleed and Wezeet, very busy in conversation upon the neutral ground of the market-place, talking over their mutual losses. Both have lost property to a great amount by this Shânbah irruption.

21st.—The departure of the ghafalah is deferred to the 24th. Rais is busy in comparing the papers of the merchants with the goods arrived from Tripoli. These ill-used merchants pay 13 per cent. for exporting their goods from Tripoli to the interior. The same goods have already paid 5 per cent. when imported into Tripoli by the European merchants. There is then the profit of our Ghadamsee merchants, and the profit of native merchants, and the merchants and the manufacturers in Europe. At what price, then, above their intrinsic value, are those goods sold to the merchants of Central Africa? A hideous thing is this system of transit duties!

22nd.—Weather is cold, everybody wraps up. People sit two or three hours together out of doors in the morning before they'll stir. I ask them, "Why don't you move about,—you would be then warm?" They answer, "Măzāl shemtz" (no sun yet). Rais is excessively gracious: he gave me a small loaf of white sugar. I had none left, and the gift came in the nick of time when required. I have said so much about Rais Mustapha, that I must now give a personal description of his Excellency, before I take leave of him and of Ghadames. First of all, Rais is not a military man;[373] he is a civil servant of the Porte, and receives his pay direct from the Sultan. The Turks often employ a civil servant where we should expect to see a military man, as in this distant Saharan post, and find it to their advantage. The Governor for military advice usually writes to the Commandant of The Mountains. His Excellency rarely reads, but writes constantly, and is very expert in accounts, his principal occupation being the collecting of small monies. His Excellency is also fond of collecting coins of different Mussulman States. The reader has seen that he is very attentive to his religious duties, and is quite, if not superior "marabout odour." His Excellency scarcely ever punishes anybody, beats his slaves seldom, but can be very despotic when he pleases. Like most Turks, he has a smack of bad faith in him, and made the Souf Arabs pay the duty on the goods in their possession, though he promised people he would not. We may suppose he is very badly off for money; perhaps his own salary is not very regularly paid. His Excellency always behaved very well when I purchased any corn of him. He is generally esteemed by the people. In person the Rais is exceeding tall, above a convenient height; he is about forty years of age, with strongly-marked Turkish features, and a large aquiline nose. His limbs are heavy and large, but since his residence here he has lost all his flesh. He dresses in the common dress of Ottoman functionaries. I often found him chatty and facetious, but sometimes he was sulky and morose, and would not speak for hours together. He had a fine horse, but rarely could be prevailed upon to go out and ride for his health. Every great man has his shadow, his echo, the expression of himself[374] more or less in his fellow men. The Rais's shadow is one Abd Errahman, a small merchant. His sons call their father souwa-souwa ("like-like") with the Rais. Abd Errahman knew the Rais's most secret thoughts, and he was the only Ghadamsee in whom the Rais could entirely confide. Abd Errahman swore by the Governor's head, and was his most obedient humble servant.

Sheikh Makouran is occupied in purchasing me an outfit of Moorish costume for the The Desert. He is very slow, but he gets them cheaper than if I bought them myself. He purchases one thing one day, and another thing the next day, and all from different persons. This is the way here. Attempted myself to purchase two turbans, one for myself and one for Said, but I found it no easy matter. The owner asked three dollars each, alleging that the turbans had been "blessed at Mecca[61]." I refused to give this price, and it was agreed to wait till the Sheikh came. This was decided by a council of the people, against the wish of the owner, who objected to waiting. At length the Sheikh made his appearance. Nothing was said about the price, for every one knew they must abide by the Sheikh's decision. The Sheikh after examining the turbans, said to the seller, "Let them be sold for one dollar each." The owner began to exclaim against this decision, but the Sheikh stopped his mouth!—"This is our friend (habeebna). Do you wish to rob him? Is this your kindness[375] to a stranger, who has lived with us so long, and whom we all love?" These words were uttered with the greatest energy, and silenced every objection. I paid the money, and a quarter of a dollar more for mine. Without exception, the Sheikh was the most just and kindest man I met with in Ghadames, and yet he had the reputation of being close-fisted in money matters. He refused to receive any rent for his house in which I lived, and when I left he ordered a quantity of cakes to be made for me, which he brought me himself. They were very nice, made of butter, and honey, and dates, and lasted me all the way to Ghat. Makouran pressed the Rais to write for me to the Touarick authorities of Ghat; but his Excellency could not without an order from Tripoli. I am under very great obligations to the Sheikh, who behaved like a father to me in a land of strangers. His brother was kindness itself, but had not the spirit of the Sheikh. His eldest son, Haj Besheer, was also a very kind and upright young man. Haj Besheer has immense influence with the Touaricks, and if he had gone with me to Ghat, nothing would have happened. His principal connexions are in Touat, and I really think that an European, going with letters from him to one of his Touarghee friends, might make the journey to Timbuctoo in safety. Sheikh Makouran took me to-day before the Rais and Kady, and in their presence a long "Testimonial" of the people of Ghadames was drawn out in Arabic, stating that during the time I had resided in Ghadames I had conducted myself well, and given no offence to any one. This was signed by the Kady, on behalf of all the people, in presence of the Rais and the Nather and several other officers. I was requested[376] to countersign it, which I did with these words: "I have remained three months in Ghadames, and now leave it with great personal satisfaction to myself, and in peace with all the inhabitants." A copy of this I made for the Kady to keep in Ghadames. The "Testimonial" itself was sent to Colonel Warrington, through the Pasha, who either did not forward it to the Colonel, or it has been mislaid or lost, for it cannot now be found in the Consulate Archives. The people of Ghadames were determined to give me this testimonial in order that the Turkish authorities should not hereafter bring any accusation against me. It was dated the 24th, or the day fixed for departure.

The Rais astonished me to-day, by telling me, he had bastinadoed twice my taleb, Ben Mousa, for dishonesty. I absolutely thought the Rais was joking, for the Rais and the taleb seemed always pretty good friends. I knew Ben Mousa was not extremely delicate, and would sometimes sit down with Said and eat his dinner away from him. I inquired of the turjeman about it, who assured me it was no joke, and that Ben Mousa had been twice bastinadoed for borrowing things and not returning them. I was extremely sorry to hear this, for I had been greatly assisted by the taleb in obtaining information, and we had passed many long hours together. The taleb is a man of about fifty, extremely clever, and a pretty good scholar, and had formerly kept a school. Now he did nothing but calculate the water distribution or irrigation of the gardens. He wished to come with me to England, to work at translations and get a little fortune for his family. But whenever I told him that there were very learned Arabic scholars in England and France, he[377] always answered, "They are concealed Moslems;" that is to say, afraid to confess Mahomet before the Christians, or seeking to convert Christians. From time to time I gave the taleb a few presents and a little money, as also the turjeman. This latter was a very different character. He mended skin bags for water, made shoes, white-washed houses, worked in the gardens, and made himself generally useful. He had some property, and his garden, the heritage of his ancestors, was one of the finest in the country. He was honest, but his defect was want of moral courage. The turjeman had lived a good while in Tunis, with some French, where he learned his Italian, and a few French words. He always said, "When I lived with the Christians, I drank wine like them." Some of the people, in a joke, would call him a Christian. He was a bad scholar, and very bitter against the Wahabites, whom he delighted to picture to himself in the pleasing predicament of carrying the Jews to hellfire on their backs. I myself one day had a quarrel with a Wahabite. The Wahabite called me a kafer. I retorted, "Why, what are you? You are nothing but a Wahabite." He was so angry that he was about to draw his knife at me, when the people seized hold of him, and one of my friends knocked him down.

Rais heard of the affair, and said as he was a foreign Arab he should leave the oasis. He came afterwards to me to beg my pardon, and I gave him some coffee to make him merry. He then told me all about the Wahabites, not forgetting to abuse all the other sects. He said the Arabs of his mountain had no objection to the Turks if they would become Wahabites. He was also of the Abadeeah, "white-caps," and declaimed against the[378] "red"-capped Wahabites. The controversy is as nearly as possible the same as that of our white and black-gowned clergy of the Established Church, introduced by the Puseyites.

Begin now to have some trouble with Said. He gets sulky and saucy, and sometimes says he will stop in Ghadames and eat dates. I am obliged to box his ears. Then he gets very frightened at the Touaricks, and begins to blubber, "I shall be made a slave again, and you yourself will be killed." Then he would complain that the Rais's servants and slaves had better clothes than himself. I always found it was the better way to let him have a sfogo, or "vent," for his temper, and afterwards he was himself again. He never could keep a para in his pocket, but would give his money to the first person who would ask him for it. I am obliged to buy him snuff every week, and a stock for the journey. With this he is accustomed to treat everybody, and is therefore very popular. Even the Governor thinks him the best Negro he ever knew. As is natural enough, he is a great favourite amongst the Negresses, and even amongst the Touarick ladies. I found him crying one day, and asked,—

"Said, what's the matter?"

"I now recollect my wife whom I left in Jerba," he sighed out.

Before this, I didn't know he was married; he was about thirty years of age. My turjeman and Said were two great cronies, and they discussed all the town's affairs in general, and everybody's affairs in particular. At first, I had not the remotest idea Said had so much wit, and was pleased to hear his remarks and criticisms.[379] One of these was capital, and had a particular reference to his own case. He stared at me, observing, "We can't put the slave-trade down whilst the Jews in Tripoli lend the merchants here goods to carry it on." He was so fond of the turjeman that, on leaving Ghadames, he gave him all the money he had, and said to me when I scolded him, "We don't want any money in The Desert," adding, "Where are the shops?"

23rd.—Bought a camel this morning, a nagah, ‮ناقه‬, or "she-camel," for 25 dollars. Rais would have the honour of choosing the camel, but it was scarcely worth the money. I hired another camel to carry a portion of the baggage. Rais told me the Pasha had offered to the Touaricks to equip an expedition, in conjunction with them, against the Shânbah, but the Touaricks would not accept of the aid, being determined to fight their own battles in their own way. They might have thought that after the Pasha had destroyed the Shânbah, he would have turned his arms against them.

24th.—We are all confusion in getting off. It is late in the afternoon. I have loaded the nagah, and disposed of my baggage; I have bid a hundred people farewell, shaking them by the hands. We are surrounded with the whole male population of the city, and half-caste women. Rais is galloping about to see the people off. But a group of people is now seen forming rapidly round a man and a boy, and a camel just come in from The Desert with a load of wood, "What's the matter?" "The Shânbah! the Shânbah!" people shout from detachment to detachment of the ghafalah. The confusion of parting is succeeded by the terror and rushing back of the people. The advanced party[380] abruptly returns upon the party immediately behind it, and all rush back to the gates of the city, one running over the other. Rais appears amongst them to calm the consternation. "What's the matter?" His Excellency is too much agitated to answer the question. I find Sheik Makouran. "What's the matter?" "The man and the boy just come in saw twenty-five Shânbah mounted on camels, and the ghafalah cannot go. Rais is going to send out a scout, a Senawanee, to see if it be the Shânbah, and then all the people are to arm and go out against the robbers." A pretty kettle of fish, thought I. The Governor then sent a man down to me, to come and sleep for the night in his house. All the merchants return, but the camels and a few men remain outside, close by the gate. A number of soldiers are sent round the city, and the Senawanee mounted on a maharee, goes off in the direction where the Shânbah had been seen, the Rais accompanying him a short distance. On his return, the Rais bitterly complained of the merchants not furnishing him immediately with camels. It was some time before he could get the scout off. I went up a mound outside of the city to see the scout "out of sight." As the white form of the maharee was disappearing in the glare of the sand, I admired the bravery of the Senawanee, who thus defied single-handed a troop of robbers, bearding them in their very ambush.

We waited with intense anxiety the return of the scout. Many people got upon the walls to look out. At length, at noon the 25th, a single camel was descried on the dull red glare of the Saharan horizon. This was the Senawanee. A number of people ran to him. "Where are the Shânbah?" "Where?" "Shânbah?"[381] The messenger said nothing—he was dumb. A crowd gets round him—he's still dumb. He enters the Rais's hall of conference, and squats down in the presence of his Excellency. He speaks now, and calls for coffee. The Rais gets furiously agitated at the moment of breaking silence. The scout very calmly sips off his coffee, and strokes down his beard, and then deigned to satisfy Governor, Kady, officers, and the men, women, and children, who were now pressing upon him with dreadful agitation. "Oh, Bey! (raising himself from the floor, fixing his eyes now on the Bey, and now on the people, and putting his fore-finger of the right hand on the thumb of the left)—I went to the sand. I got there when the sun was gone down. The camel lay down, and so did I lay down on the sand. We watched all night. I fear no one but God!—(Here was a general hum of approbation.)—Two hours before the fidger, (break of day) I looked up and saw pass by me, at a distance of from here to The Spring, nine Bughar (wild-bullocks). They came and went, and went and came, snuffing up the sand and bellowing. The man and the boy, who cut the wood yesterday, saw the Bughar. But the wild oxen are not the Shânbah!" As soon as he mentioned the Bughar, the people rushing out of the Bey's apartment, ran away, and before I could get my dinner, a portion of the ghafalah was on the move. The Rais said to me, "Get off, make haste—make haste." I then went down to load the nagah again, but found it very difficult; seeing the other camels passing on, she would not stop to be laden. At length my turjeman came and arranged all. Said observed that the obstinacy of the nagah was a bad omen. His Excel[382]lency the Governor came to see me off, and gave me an affectionate shake of the hands. I then met his confidential man Abd-Errahman, who said to me, "Rais has given you in charge of all the people of the ghafalah, (about sixty persons"). This was kind of the Governor, and better, perhaps, than being in the charge of one individual. But still I couldn't help thinking, that what is many persons' business is nobody's business. The turjeman accompanied us some distance, chatting with Said. He carried with him a quantity of date-tree fibrous netting, and was twisting bands as he followed us. We soon parted. I then passed my old friend the good-natured Arab doctor. His parting blessing spoke the native goodness of his heart: "Day cool, route wide, route Fezzan, ghafalah large, Shânbah there are none—God bless you, farewell!"

I began to breathe at once the free air of the open Desert. As is my wont, I now committed my spirit to the care of God Almighty, leaving my body to the care of the wild tribes of these inhospitable wastes. And why not? Why distrust them? Have not the people hitherto treated me with great and unexpected kindness? And is it not the first step to make strangers your enemies, to distrust them?


[58] They call all other languages in the world Ajem—‮عجم‬—a distinction like that of Jew and Gentile, only applied to language instead of persons.

[59] Sale says:—"Mahomet here and elsewhere frequently imitates the truly inspired writers, in making God to operate on the minds of reprobates, to prevent their conversion." Impostors in all ages have charged the inefficacy of their novel mysteries upon the will of God. But these passages have had their use and humanity effects in the strife of contending religions. A Mahometan bigot, with sword in one hand and victim in the other, has often spared his life and his conversion by recollecting, "God had sealed up his heart and his hearing," so that he could not believe. The pride of the Moslem has also thus been content to leave matters in the hands of a predestinating deity.

[60] "Wild bullock:" The Bos Brachyceras, Gray.

[61] Turbans are sent to Mecca to be blest there, and by this blessing of course their value is greatly enhanced amongst the Moumeneen. Shrouds are also blessed at Mecca; and a rich Mahometan endeavours to procure one to wrap up his mortal remains. A considerable trade is carried on in blessed garments.




Character of the People of Ghadames.—Strength of our Caravan.—First features of the new Route.—Well of Maseen.—Rate of Travelling.—Our Ghafalah divides in two on account of the difficulty of obtaining Water for so large a Caravan.—Es-Sărāb, or The Mirage.—Gobemouche Politicians.—Camels, fond of dry Bones.—Geological Features of Plateau.—Desert Tombs and Tumuli Directors.—Intense cold of The Desert.—Well of Nather.—Savage Disposition of Camels.—Mr. Fletcher's advice to Desert Tourists.—No scientific instruments with me.—False alarm of Banditti, and meet a Caravan of Slaves.—Sight of the first tree after seven days' Desert.—Wells of Mislah in a region of Sand.—Vulgar error of Sand-storms overwhelming Caravans with billows of Sand.


Mounted on my camel, pressing on through The Desert, my thoughts still lag behind, and as I turn often to look back upon The City of Merchants and Marabouts, its palms being only now visible in the dingy red of the setting sun, I endeavour to form a correct opinion of its singular inhabitants. I see in them the mixture of the religious and commercial character, blended in a most extraordinary manner and degree, for here the possession of wealth scarcely interferes with the highest state of ascetic devotion. To a religious scrupulousness, which is alarmed at a drop of medicine that is prohibited falling upon their clothes, they add the most enterprising and determined spirit of commercial enterprise, plunging into The Desert, often in companies of only two or three, when infested with bandits and cut-[384]throats, their journies the meanwhile extending from the shores of the Mediterranean to the banks of the Niger, as low down to the Western Coast as Noufee and Rabbah. But their resignation to the will of heaven is without a parallel. No murmur escapes them under the severest domestic affliction; whilst prayer is their daily bread. Besides five times a day, they never omit the extraordinary occasions. The aspirations of the older and retired men continue all the live-long day; this incense of the soul, rising before the altar of the Eternal, is a fire which is never extinguished in Ghadames! Their commercial habits naturally beget caution, if not fear. In The Desert, though armed, they have no courage to fight. Their arms are their mysterious playthings. Their genius is pacific and to make peace—they are the peacemakers of The Desert—and they always travel under the intrepid escort of their warlike Touarick friends and neighbours. Intelligent, instructed and industrious, they are the greatest friends of civilization in North Africa and the Great Desert. But upon such a people, falls as a blast of lightning, rending and shivering the fairest palm of the oasis, the curse of Turkish rule.

The force of our caravan consists of about eighty people, including strangers, and two hundred laden camels. Nearly all the people are armed, and some single individuals have two or three matchlocks, besides pistols and daggers. The character of the people are petty traders, commission agents, camel-drivers, and slaves. There are several Arabs, natives of Ghadames, Seenawan, and Derge, and five strangers from Souf. We have with us also three Touaricks. There may be half-a-dozen low women and female slaves distributed[385] amongst the ghafalah. Respectable females scarcely ever travel in The Desert. I have only with me my negro servant Said. My large trunk and tent are conveyed by another camel; the nagah carries me, the provisions, and the rest of the baggage, going extremely well. Said walks with the servants, slaves, and camel-drivers. Two-thirds of the people are on foot. Started in tolerably good health and spirits, and increase my appetite every mile I ride. Feel no fatigue, of course, to-day, and trust I shall soon forget I'm travelling in The Sahara. There are many routes from Ghadames to Ghat, no less than four or five well-travelled desert tracts. Our present one is the more easterly, being skirted by the oasisian districts of Fezzan. None of these routes have been travelled before by an European. Our course to-day is directly east. We are now encamping at sun-set, and we have just lost sight of the palms of Ghadames. Alas! this will, I fear, be an everlasting farewell to the beautiful oasis, and the holy city of merchants.

26th.—Rose before sunrise. Morning cool and refreshing. We are to continue ten days in the route of Fezzan, then turn into that of Ghat, thus describing a sort of semicircle to get out of the forays of the Shânbah.

Course south-east. On the right ranges of low dull hills, with the same on the left, but at a greater distance. The road very good, fit for carriages, through the broad bed of a valley. Two great blocks of rock stand out on the surface which we traverse, one an oblong square, the other sugar-loaf, but flattened at the top.[386]

Camel-drivers.—"Look at these brothers" (the two rocks.)

Myself.—"How! Are these brothers? They are not much like."

Camel-drivers.—"Yâkob, don't you know that one brother is born like the father, and the other like the mother?"

These huge blocks we had long in view, and approached and passed them just as a ship passes rocks on the sea-coast. So steady is our progress, so level our route. Ground strewn over with small flints and other sharp chips of stone. Saw nothing alive in The Desert but one solitary bird, which seemed lost in the illimitable waste. Passed the grave of one who had died in open desert, a small tumulus of stones marked the sad spot; passed also a few white-bleached camel's bones. Very cold, wind from north-east. Feel it more than the keenest winter's blast of Old England. Feel glad I took the advice of the Governor of Ghadames, and purchased a quantity of warm woollen clothing, heik, bornouse, and jibbah. "That route (Ghat) kills people with the cold," his Excellency observed.

27th.—Arrived at the well of Maseen, at 4 p.m. Much the same scenery as yesterday. The road good, not quite so stony as yesterday, and scattered over with pieces of very fine quartz and shining felspar. No sand in quantity, and a little herbage for camels. Wind as yesterday, but more of it. Maseen is a tolerably deep well, but the water is not very sweet. About it there are three or four stunted date-palms, and several shrubby sprouts, pointing the Saharan wayfarer to the well's site.[387] One of the trees bore fruit this year, but the palm rarely bears fruit in open desert. No bird or animal of any sort seen to-day. The camels crop herbage en route as usual. On the whole, however, we proceed pretty quickly. I imagine about three miles the hour, for a man must walk a sharp pace to keep up well with the camels. Our people eat nothing in the morning; two or three, perhaps, may eat a cake and a few dates. They literally fast all day long and take their one meal at about seven in the evening. I can't support this, and take tea in the morning, besides munching dates at intervals through the day. Nay, I feel ravenous, under the influence of the bleak air of The Desert. About an hour before sunrise all the people get up and make large fires, warming their feet and legs, for these are mostly bare and are very sensible to the cold. I'm sorry I've been obliged to scold Said twice, once for running away from my camel after other people's, and once for rough and saucy language. But I must make the best of him; might easily get a worse servant. Glad the eldest son of the Sheikh Makouran has joined the caravan; he came riding after us this evening, attended with a Touarick, both mounted on maharees, well equipped and capable of scouring The Desert.

28th.—Some time before we got off this morning, on account of the difficulty of watering the camels. My nagah started off on the route of Fezzan about a mile and a half, and Said went another way in search of her. I was, therefore, obliged to fetch her myself, which was a considerable run through a hilly region. I found her alone wandering about. The she-camel strays more than the male-camel, and is more restless. As soon as I[388] called to her she stopped, stood stock-still, and looked at me. Before the camels were all watered, the well of Mazeen was nearly dry and the water muddy. This is the reason large caravans have such difficulty in traversing The Desert, it often requiring several days to water a thousand camels. Here I recollected the justness of Napoleon's observation cited by French writers,—"That if Africa is to be invaded and conquered viâ The Great Desert, it must be done by small detached parties." For it is not that the wells do not afford a sufficiency of water for large caravans, but that they do not yield an immediate supply for numerous bodies, so as to enable their people to march in one compact whole. Here we were obliged to leave half the caravan, waiting for the running of the water, thus miserably dividing our strength in case of attack. Noticed one of the camels laden with a bale of goods, on which were European writing, viz., I. A. n. 6. The great merchants usually write the name of their firm under the designation of Oulad (‮اولاد‬) "sons," for example, Oulad Makouran, "Sons of Makouran."

The advanced party, of which I was, unexpectedly left the route of Fezzan to the east, and turned sharp round to the south, through the gorge of a low mountain range, which we had had all along to the right. In this defile we proceeded an hour, but it had no natural opening at the end. We came at last to a very abrupt ascent of some hundred feet high, and mounted an elevated plateau. Once on the plateau, all was plain as far as the eye could see. The defile was tertiary formation, mere dull crumbling limestone; nothing in the shape and consistence of granite. We are now on the[389] highway for Ghat, and it is said we shall arrive in fifteen days from the plateau. Saw on the plateau, for the first time of my life, the celebrated mirage, which our people call Watta, but the classic Arabic is Es-Sarab (‮السّرب‬). At first sight, I thought it was salt, for it flamed in the sun white, like a salt-pit, or lagoon. There appeared some low hills in the midst of the white lake. As we proceeded, I saw what appeared like white foam running from east to west, as the sea-surf chafing the shore. It then occurred to me that this might be the mirage; and so it turned out, for as we approached the phenomenon, it retired and disappeared. The character of the mirage was evidently affected by the wind, for the foam appeared to run from east to west with the wind. In some of the white flaming lakes, shrubs and reeds stood out, as we find in shallow pools. Some high hills appeared suspended in the air, veritable "castles in the air." The weather was dull, the sun sometimes hidden, and it was noon when the phenomena were most observable. At Mazeen a few small birds were hopping and chirping, and two large crows followed us upon the plateau; also a butterfly and a few flies. These are the living creatures noticed to-day.

The plateau, where I now write, is either covered with very small stones, some quite black, and others calcined or burnt, like brick-bats thrown from a kiln, or is altogether hardened and black earthy soil. The latter assists the mirage, for the phenomenon appears mostly on the earthy tracts of ground. In some parts is herbage for the camels. On the plateau we saw several small mounds of soft brown stone, crumbling to earth, which[390] looked like Arab hovels at a distance. I went up to undeceive myself. These curious mounds have yet to crumble away before the plateau is a perfect plane. Course to-day mostly south, with a leaning to the west. Wind cold S.E. and E. The day as dull and dreary as in England. Our people occasionally mount the maharees, which look very haughty and imposing. A maharee would be a noble present for the Sultan of the Touaricks to send to the Queen.

Was surprised this morning at a question, as "To whom Tripoli belonged?" to the English or the Sultan (of Constantinople). I find there is a vague notion amongst our ghafalah that Tripoli is either really the property of the English, or under the immediate protection of England. "Just the same," say the people. They prefer the late tyrant Bashaw, Asker Ali, to the present Mehemet, because Asker Ali, they say, did not fleece them so much or so plunder them of their money. 'Tis natural enough. One of the lower fellows had the impudence to say, "The English Consul receives bribes from Mehemet Pasha to let him remain in Tripoli." These people are great gobemouches; they always report the most incredible things. A trader said to me, "When you get to Soudan you must marry two wives; this is our custom." I replied, "I never do anything out of my country, and apart from my countrymen, which I should be ashamed to do at home in their presence." Some of these Desert louts are very familiar and insolent, and require sharp answers to keep them at a distance. I must not forget to mention, the Rais put my passport en règle for Soudan. A more monstrous piece of absurdity could not be attempted against the virtue of the[391] free and simple-minded children of The Desert. Such documents are only fit for our elevated Christian civilization, for countries like Naples, France, and Austria, the hot-beds of spies and police. When I showed my passport to the Touaricks, and explained to them what it was for, they very indignantly (and properly so) spat on it.

29th.—Not a living creature was met with to-day. Our camels found the "dry bones" of camels perished in The Desert; they munched them with gusto, a piece of cannibalism on the part of these melancholy creatures which I was not prepared for. Dr. Oudney remarks, "The latter (camels) are very fond of chewing dried bones." In some parts of the routes, mostly where the water-stations are distant, and where they drop from exhaustion before reaching the wells, camels' bones lie in such heaps as to suggest, the Vision of the Dry Bones of Ezekiel.

We started with the rising sun and continued till four o'clock p.m. A strong S. and S.E. wind blew all day, and very cold, parching my lips and mouth. This wind would have a veritable burning simoon in the summer! We traversed all day the plateau, now become an immeasurable plain. It slightly undulates in parts, but I think we continued to ascend. Some of the surface is wholly naked, having neither herbage or stones scattered about, being of a softish clayey soil, and printed in little diamond squares, like the dry bottom of a small lake on the sea-shore. This, I doubt not, is the action of the rain, which falls at long intervals. Other parts presented the usual black calcined stones, and sometimes pieces of the common limestone and pebbles, but not very round.[392] The track was in some places well-defined, in others the earth so hard as not to admit of the impression of the camel's foot. Passed by several tumuli of stones, said by the people to mark the route, and called âlam—‮علم‬—directors. Passed also a conspicuous tomb of some distinguished individual, who had died in the open Desert. There was no writing or ornament, only a higher heap of stones, and piled in the shape of an oblong square. As soon as a traveller dies he is buried, if he have companions; the body is never brought to the neighbouring oases. My friend Haj-el-Besheer, to my regret, has disappeared with the Touarick.

Nothing possibly could be more horrible and dreary, exhibiting the very "palpable obscure," than our course of to-day. As far as the eye can stretch on every side is one vast, solitary, lifeless, treeless expanse of desert earth! It is a—

"Dreary [plain] forlorn and wild, The seat of desolation."

A Derge Arab said to me this evening, "The English will never come to Derge, wherever else they may go. The climate will kill them; in three days you will die of fever." The love of discussion, as well as their complaints against the Turkish Government, follow our people through The Desert. They are trying to make me turn Mohammedan, as far as disputing goes, and I have enough to do to get rid of their importunities. Sometimes I get the conversation turned by telling them, if I turn Mussulman I shall offend my Sultan. They reply, "Oh! you can confess with your lips, that you are a Christian, whilst you remain a Mussulman in your[393] heart." One fellow got saucy, and said, turning up the fire with a stick, "The Jews and Christians will have this (fire) for ever." Threatening to report him to the Rais of Ghadames, he exclaimed, "The dog Rais has no rule in The Sahara." The other people made him hold his tongue. Felt the cold last night but especially this morning. It nips me up severely. Sleep in the clothes I wear during the day, and have additional covering of a thick rug and a cloak. We pitch no tents. Very little water is now drunk. Our people seem to shun it as mad dogs. As to the morning, no one drinks water this time of the day. How different to the summer! when a drink of water is sometimes reckoned a great favour, an immense boon, a heaven's best gift.

30th.—A fine morning; the dawn almost cloudless. Not so yesterday, volumes of cloud on cloud inflamed with purple stretched over all the east, not unlike an English summer's dawn, but the colours more vivid. But this was succeeded by the dreariest of days. In summer, the Saharan dawn is usually cloudless, and offers no beautiful variety of colours. The cloud of yesterday was surcharged with wind, which we soon felt to our annoyance. In The Desert the wind generally rises in the morning and falls in the evening. We continued our course over the vast plain all the morning, but at midday it broke into wide shallow valleys, and in the evening it was cut across by a large broad valley, or wady, as the Moors called it, stretching east and west. In this wady lies the well of Năthār or Năjār, some spelling the name with the ‮ز‬—‮النزار‬. Here we encamp. We had come a very long weary day. Begin to feel very sensibly the hardships of Desert travelling. The[394] length of a day's journey depends upon whether water is near or far off, and also upon there being fodder for camels. Our Arabs are obliged to look out lest they encamp upon an arid spot where the poor camel cannot crop a single herb. Mostly in the beds—dry beds of these wadys—there is some herbage and brushwood. The well of Nathar is very deep, and cut through rock as well as earth, but its water is extremely sweet and delicious. We usually find the best water running through rocky soil. En route, I observed no living creature, save a grasshopper, which had managed to get into existence amidst these herbless wilds. Think I also saw an ant near the foot of the camel. A few flies still follow our caravan, which we brought from Ghadames. These witless things have wisdom enough not to remain behind and perish in The Desert. Passed by two dead camels, fast decomposing into bones. Road all small stones sprinkled over an earthy soil, or altogether earth. Mirage again seen, with similar phenomena. Small islets in the midst of lakes, and white foam running on the ground as on the sea-shore. Our course S. and S.E.

1st December.—A fine mild morning, but intensely cold during the past night. Here we took fresh water enough for four days, the time required to arrive at the next well. Started about 11 a.m., and continued only three hours and a half, when we came to another wady, where we stopped in order to let the camels have their fill of the rich fodder with which the wady is covered. The plateau is now apparently disappearing, for it is broken into deep and broad valleys, from the sides of which rise in groups, and at various distances, low ranges of Saharan hills, and on one side, is a range very high,[395] having very wild mountainous features. We have now travelled nearly six days, and have not yet met with fifty yards of sandy route. So much for the sandy Desert! All is either earth, sometimes as hard-baked as stone, or large blocks of stone, but chiefly very small chips of stone covering the entire surface. Our Arabs ask me, "Whether I prefer travelling by land or sea?" They imagine Christians, when they travel, necessarily travel by sea. They are also greatly astonished when I tell them we have no Sahara in England, and cannot credit the idea of a country being full of cultivated fields and gardens. The rest of our ghafalah, consisting of more than a third, is not yet come up, but Haj-el-Besheer and the Touarick Ali have joined us again and report them to be at the well of Nather.

Two or three birds were seen this morning about the wells. They were excessively familiar, and knew instinctively how to estimate the sight of a caravan for the crumbs and grains it might leave behind. They seemed also quite at home at the well. Still one would think they were birds of passage, like ourselves, for there are no trees or bushes for them to build in, and little to eat. Saw also a single lizard. I believe lizards abound in every part of The Sahara, but the cold now keeps them in their holes.

Three or four of our party have left us, mounted on maharees, for Ghat. They say they shall arrive in six or seven days. They will soon see if banditti are before us, and will return to let us know. Thought I should escape the orthodox body-guard. But it seems not. Where every person is obliged to accept of this guard, bon gré, malgré, it seems I must submit. However, I shall[396] do without their services if possible. I offended a Moor by telling him that Christians do not require it, and have not this guard: it is only "peculiar to Mussulmans." A necessary part of the occupation of a ghafalah when it reaches a well is collecting and cracking the vermin. The camels are terrible things for straying. If they are surrounded with immense patches of the most choice herbage, even which is their delicium, they still keep on straying the more over it miles and miles. As to our nagah, we are obliged to tie her fore-feet, which prevents the camel from getting at a very great distance from the encampment. The camels are sly, unimpassioned, and deliberately savage, one to another, more especially the males. At times they go steadily, and even slowly, behind one another, and turning the neck and head sideways, deliberately bite one another's haunches most ferociously. The drivers immediately separate them, for the bite is dangerous to their health, and often attended with serious mischief to the animal bitten. But I have never yet seen a camel kick or attack a man. They invariably grumble and growl, sometimes most piteously, when they are being loaded, as if deprecating the heavy burden about to be placed upon them, and appealing to the mercy of their masters. The merchants pay 13½ Tunisian piastres per cantar for goods now conveyed from Ghadames to Ghat. The Touaricks carry goods cheaper, but they are now gone after the Shânbah. The Arabs asked 25, but the Rais of Ghadames fixed it at 13½. A camel carries from 2 to 3½ cantars[62]. I confess I was sorry to see these apparently so quiet and[397] melancholy creatures ferocious to one another; but I recollected that all animals, even doves, quarrel and fight, and particularly males, where females are concerned.

To-day took out of my trunk Mr. Fletcher's note to me, to read over, which I had received from Malta during the time of my being in The Desert. The advice to travellers which it contains in a very few words, is so good, so excellent, that I shall take the liberty of transcribing it here, for the benefit of all future tourists in The Desert.

1st. "Keep a sharp look out about you, and pick up information."

2nd. "Keep with Sheiks, Religionists, (he means I suppose, Marabouts,) and Chieftains, for these are the only people who can give you protection."

3rd. "Expose yourself to no unnecessary risks and dangers."

4th. "Conciliate!"

Mr. Fletcher adds, "The white man is at the mercy of every tenant of The Desert, and though we would, one cannot be all things to all men." Nevertheless, I do think, poverty is my great protection in travelling in these countries. My fellow-travellers, up to the present time, are civil and assist me. It is necessary to mention here, I have neither compass nor thermometer, nor measure of any kind, nor maps, nor watch, so that I'm afraid my journal will sound ill to scientific ears. This was very bad management. Still we shall see what a man can do without the ordinary and most common scientific instruments of travelling. I have, however, an hour-glass, which embraces four hours in the time of[398] emptying, and which I found useful in Ghadames, but make no use of it en route. I consider the objects of my tour moral, a random effort to maim, or kill, or cripple the Monster Slavery, a small rough stone picked up casually from the burnt and arid face of The Desert, but with dauntless hand thrown at this Titanian fabric of crime and wickedness. However, as my friend Mr. Fletcher advises, it does not prevent me from "picking up information," any how and everywhere, which I trust the reader will have already perceived. As a person who loses one sense acquires more intensity in others, so I, having no artificial means for procuring information with me, must do all by the ordinary senses of observation, common to the civilized man and the savage.

The mirage was very abundant to-day, producing a variety of splendid phenomena, "Castelli in Spagna," running streams, and silvery lakes, and a thousand things of water, and air, and landscape, just types of those pleasures and delights which we seek, and when grasping them, they slip from between our fingers.

Whilst we were encamped, two hours before sun-set, we were suddenly alarmed by the cries of banditti and Shânbah, and all were called upon to arm. At the same time people were sent off to bring up the camels which were grazing and straying at a distance. I was amusing myself with cooking the supper, and started up, not knowing what to make of it; I couldn't however help laughing at the queer predicament in which the supper looked, and thought I had been making it for the Shânbah. Running forward to see the cause of the alarm, I saw in the south, dimly at a distance, a small caravan approaching us. There were three or four camels, and[399] several persons on foot. I then thought I must look about for a weapon of some sort. A man gave me a huge horse-pistol, and with this I sallied forth to take part in the common defence. Seeing an Arab far in advance, and alone, I went after him, who turned out to be one of the Souafah, whose acquaintance I had already made. This Arab certainly showed considerable bravery, and took up a reconnoitring position on a rising ground, looking with a steady and determined eye upon the approaching caravan. He turned to me and said bluffly, "It must be a Touarick ghafalah." Meanwhile, about forty people all armed, assembled pêle-mêle on the opposite side of the route, on a hill behind, uttering wild cries, and throwing up their matchlocks into the air. The cries now ceased, and was succeeded by a most anxious silence, all waiting a closer observation. At length, the experienced eye of our people discovered what was considered a troop of bandits on foot, to be a caravan of slaves. And immediately a number of the people ran off violently to meet the slave-caravan, which was escorted by our own Touaricks, the slaves being the property of our people. Our surprise was the greater when we found Haj-el-Besheer, and his companion the Touarick, returning with the caravan, which had brought letters for all the people. So the bandits turned out to be our friends and neighbours; and so burst this bubble of alarm. I observed two persons with long staffs lagging behind, and imagined them old men labouring along the route. What was my astonishment to find, as they approached, these old men gradually transformed into poor little children—child-slaves—crawling over the ground, scarcely able to move. Oh, what a curse is[400] slavery! how full of hard-heartedness and cruelty! As soon as the poor slaves arrived, they set to work and made a fire. Some of them were laden with wood when they came up. The fire was their only protection from the cold, the raw bitter cold of the night, for they were nearly naked. I require as much as three ordinary great coats, besides the usual clothing of the day, to keep me warm in the night; these poor things, the chilly children of the tropics, have only a rag to cover them, and a bit of fire to warm them. I shall never forget the sparkling eyes of delight of one of the poor little boys, as he sat down and looked into the crackling glaring fire of desert scrub. In the evening I noticed the amount of the food which was given as the one daily meal to these famished creatures, ten in number. Said usually eats more than the whole of it for his supper. The food was barley-meal mixed with water. The slaves were children and youths, all males. They had been already fourteen days en route from Ghat, and would be eight more before they could reach Ghadames. By that time, like the last slaves which arrived whilst I was there, they would be simply "living skeletons." The misery is, these slaves are conducted not by their masters, but slave-drivers, at so much per head, and consequently the conductors feed the slaves on as little as possible, to make the most of their bargain with the owners. The slave-caravan, however, brought us good news.

The Shânbah, after ravaging the Touarick districts, had fled their own country, and taken refuge in the Algerian territory—so escaping the vengeance of the Touaricks. We have, therefore, no enemy en route, thank God, except ourselves, and our own quarrels,[401] which occur but seldom. The annual winter Soudan caravan had not yet arrived in Ghat, but was expected every day. It is worth mentioning here, as a remarkable trait of good faith amongst the Moors and Arabs, that they do not often seal their letters, but fold them up as we do notes of trifling import. All the letters brought to-day were unsealed, and did not require Grahamizing. Haj-el-Besheer told me it was haram ("prohibited,") for strangers to read these unsealed letters. My readers will see that we are again obliged to go to the barbarians of The Desert to learn the ordinary practices of good faith and morality. How exceedingly rejoiced would be the "Haute Police" of civilized Europe to have all letters sent un-sealed through the Post Office! What a pity these Mahometan barbarians are so trusting and simple-minded! What a pity our boasted religion does not teach us Christians the honesty of barbarians! We wrote letters to Ghadames and Tripoli over the fire-light. Afterwards my friend Haj-el-Besheer commenced a sing-song repetition of a Marabout legend, which he continued all the evening, speaking to no one; even whilst he was eating he continued his rigmarole story to himself, the people taking no notice of him. I was greatly amused at this odd singing to one's self.

2nd.—A very fine morning, and, as I anticipated, it turned out very hot. Yet whilst the sun scorched my face on one side, the cold wind from the east blanched my cheek on the other. No living creature seen but a few insects. Our people fell in with the skeleton of a Touarick ass, and amused themselves with setting it up upon its legs, as if in the pillory. I rallied them afterwards as they were in a good humour, on their terror of[402] banditti yesterday. They replied, "It was the number of people on foot which alarmed us, banditti generally go on foot with a few camels to carry provisions and water." We started at sun-rise and encamped an hour before sun-set, to have light enough to collect firewood, and forage for the camels. The ground of our course to-day was broken into broad and long valleys. In the wady where we encamp is herbage for camels. I notice as a thing most extraordinary, after seven days from Ghadames, two small trees! the common Desert acacia. Another phenomenon, I see two or three pretty blue flowers! as I picked one up, I could not help exclaiming, Elhamdullah, ("Praise to God!") for Arabic was growing second-born to my tongue, and I began to think in it. An Arab said to me, "Yâkob, if we had a reed and were to make a melodious sound, those flowers, the colour of heaven, would open and shut their mouths (petals)." This fiction is extremely poetical. Felt unwell this morning from eating or munching too many dates; better this evening. All our people well, and no accidents.

3rd.—Rose at sun-rise and pursued our weary way over broken ground, now broad valleys, now low hills. Whilst exclaiming that the sandy desert was all "a report," "a talk," "a fabrication of travellers who wished to increase and vary the catalogue of Saharan hardships," at noon we came upon a range of sand-hills. These increased on every side, and at length we cut right across a group of them. Having left the plateau the mirage has also disappeared, apparently the only species of desert where it can be fairly developed. With the sand has appeared a new kind of stone, of a light-blue slate[403] colour, some of it of as firm a consistence as granite. Its colour also sometimes varies to a beautiful light green. The Desert itself only increases and varies in hideousness. And yet in some places where sand is sprinkled over the hardened earth, a little coarse herbage springs up. Encamped at night. Cold all day. Felt unwell. To-day and yesterday course mostly south.

4th.—Sand-hills increase in number, and find ourselves in the heart of a region of sand. At noon descended the deepest wady we have yet encountered. On the big blocks of rock below Arabic and Touarghee letters were carved. The barbarians, as their civilized brethren, seek in this way also a bastard immortality for their names. Down in the valley we passed some human bones; the skull was perfect. Who shall write the history of these bones? Are they those of one who was murdered, or who dropped from exhaustion in The Desert? These bones scattered at the camel's feet made the march of to-day still more melancholy. No herbage for camels or wood for fire. Gave our nagah barley and dates. It frequently happens, there is no wood en route (I mean underwood or scrub), or at the place where we are obliged to stop. This obliges us to carry it from places where it abounds, as also a little herbage for the camels. Pitched our camp amidst the sandy waste late at night. Our route varied between S.W., S., and S.E., but around some huge groups of sand-hills we were obliged to make a painful circuit. Warmer to-day, and a little wind, always from the east. No living creature met with! No sound or voice heard! Felt better to-day.

5th.—Rose with the sun, as it enflamed the sand-hills, and made them like burnished heaps of metal. Marched[404] three hours amidst the sand-hills. Very difficult route for the camels, which frequently upset their loads in mounting or descending the groups of hills. The Arabs smooth the abrupt ascents, forming an inclined plane of sand, and then, in the descents, pull back the camels, swinging with all their might on the tails of the animals. No herbage—no stone—no earthy ground—all, everything one wide waste of sand, shining under the fervid sun as bright as the light, dazzling and blinding the eyes. But Milton's poetic eye, turning, or in "a fine frenzy rolling" to the ends of the earth, subjecting all the images and wonders of nature, of all climates and countries, to the supporting of his majestic verse, glanced also at these sands of the Lybian Desert—

"Unnumbered as the sands Of Barca or Cyrene's torrid soil."

El-Aïshi, describing the sandy Sahara, says, "There is neither tree, nor bush, nor herb. The eye sees only clouds of sand, raised by continual winds, which by their violence efface the marks of the caravan as fast as men and animals imprint them with their feet. The aspect of this immensity of sand reminds me of the words, 'Bless our Lord Mahomet as much as the sand is extended,' and I understood now their full import."

But here in the centre of this wilderness of sand we had an abundant proof of the goodness of a good God. Whilst mourning over this horrible scene of monotonous desolation, and wondering why such regions were created in vain, we came upon The Wells of Mislah, where we encamped for the day. These are not properly wells, for the sand being removed in various places, about four[405] or five feet below the surface, the water runs out. Indeed, we were obliged to make our own wells. Each party of the ghafalah dug a well for itself. Ghafalahs are divided into so many parties, varying in size from five men and twenty camels, to ten men and forty camels. Three or four wells were dug out in this way. Some of the places had been scooped out before. Water may be found through all the valley of Mislah. A few dwarfish palms are in the valley, but which don't bear fruit. The camels, finding nothing else to eat, attacked voraciously their branches. It is surprising the sand is not more scattered over the wells and trees, for on the south-west is a lofty sand-hill, deserving the name of a mountain, almost overhanging the pits. Here is a sufficient proof, at once, that The Desert has no sandy waves like the Desert Ocean of waters, as poets and credulous or exaggerating writers have been pleased to inform us. Were this the case, the wells of Mislah would have been long ago heaped up and over with pile upon pile of sand-hills, and caravans would have abandoned for ever this line of route. For we can hardly suppose that one sand-storm would cover the pits of Mislah with a mountain pile of sand, and the next sand-storm uncover them and lay them bare to the amazed Saharan traveller. On the contrary, the pits of Mislah and the stunted palms have every appearance of having remained as they now are for centuries. The hills are huge groups, some single ones, glaring in sun above the rest, and others pyramidical. The sand at times is also very firm to the camel's tread. Shall I say a terra firma in loose shifting sands? But for the water of Mislah it is extremely brackish, nay salt. I had observed between the sand-[406]hills small valleys, or bottoms, covered with, a whitish substance which I now find salt. Both men and camels are alike condemned to drink this water. I try it with boiling and tea and find it worse, and cannot drink it, so I'm obliged to beg of our people the remaining sweet water of Nather, left in the skins. Our people confess themselves, in summer when this water gets hot they can scarcely drink it, being veritable brine. An European travelling this route should always provide himself with water enough at the well of Nather to last him from six to eight days. My skin-bags have got out of order, and I did not make inquiries of the people about this well. At one well a traveller should always make inquiry about the water of the next well. This is indispensable if an European tourist would have water fit to drink. The Mislah water is full of saline particles, and is purging every body. The valley of Mislah, over which we are encamped, is not more than twenty minutes' walking in length, and half this in breadth. In many parts the sand is encrusted with a beautiful white salt. One of the Arabs of Souf said to me, "See, Yâkob, this is our country, all Souf is like this." So it appears an oasis may exist in a region of shifting (?) sands. Are these the shifting sands which bury whole caravans beneath their sandy billows, when lashed up by the Desert tempest[63]?


Region of Sands

This reminds me of what Colonel Warrington told me of some tourist, who describes himself as killing a camel to procure the water from its stomach, when within a couple days from Tripoli, and on a spot where there was a splendid spring of never-failing water. I often asked the Arabs, if they ever killed the camel to get the water from its stomach? They replied, "They had often heard of such things." A merchant of Ghadames made, however, an apposite observation: "This is our sea, here we travel as you in your sea, bringing our provisions and water with us."

These pits are considered the half-way house or station to Ghat. I'm told the route from Ghat to[408] Aheer is much more easy and agreeable than this. Trust I shall find it so if I go. Begin to feel this irksome, and am in low spirits. People try to amuse me, and I have received many little presents of date-cakes and bazeen from them. Begin to relish this sort of food, and The Desert air sharpens the appetite. Yesterday, a slave of the ghafalah amused us with playing his rude bagpipe through these weary wastes. We are not very merry. There is very little conversation; we move on for hours in the most unbroken silence, nothing being said or whispered, no sound but the dull slow tread of the camel. Sometimes an Arab strikes up one of his plaintive ditties, and thinks of his green olive-clad mountain home in the Atlas. Happily there is little or no quarrelling. I am sure sixty people of all ages and tempers, were they Europeans, travelling in this region of blank monotony, oppressed with sombre reflections and without anything to relieve the senses, would not manage things so smoothly, or without quarrelling, and at times most desperately. For we are a bonâ fide moving city, and at each well every body prepares to start afresh. Some mend their torn clothes, others the broken gear of the camels, others take out the raw materials from their bags and work up a new supply of provisions. Others wash and shave. Our Saharan travellers rarely wash themselves except at the wells. Their religion requires of them to wash their hands at their meals, but this they evade by rubbing their hands with a little sand, a privilege, however, Mahomet has only granted them when they can find no water. We followed the tracks of the few of our party who had preceded us. Here also the footstep is rigidly observed as in the American wilder[409]ness, and the people pretend to distinguish the foot-print of the bandit on the sand from that of an honest man. But one night of strong wind usually covers up the track, and though the sand does not move in billows, it flies about, first from one side and then the other, and fills up the foot-prints of men and animals. There is no doubt but it requires the most practised eye of the camel-driver to find his way through these regions, and yet, for my life, I could not see that the people experienced any difficulty. They seemed as much at home in this intricate waste of creation as in their own dark zigzag streets of Ghadames.

As the sun goes down and night comes on, the sand-hills, from shining white, look as dark and drear as earth-hills. But how smooth is all! If they were hills of blown glass they could not be more smooth. In the sketch of Mislah will be seen a date-tree with part of its branches depending, forming with the up-rising a curious shape. The under foliage is dead and dried up, a fit object in the desolate scene. Not a single living creature about the wells. No bird is here. At Maseen and Nather we had seen two or three small birds, hopping about the wells, picking up the crumbs and scattered grain of the passing caravan. Except the little vegetable life, all else here is "a universe of death!"


[62] A cantar is about an English hundred-weight.

[63] Oudney says:—"The presence of nothing but deep sand-valleys and high sand-hills strikes the mind forcibly. There is something of the sublime mixed with the melancholy. Who cannot contemplate without admiration masses of loose sand fully four hundred feet high, ready to be tossed about by every breeze, and not shudder with horror at the idea of the unfortunate traveller being entombed in a moment by one of these fatal blasts, which sometimes occur?" I agree with the Doctor about the sublime and melancholy mixed in contemplating these regions of sand. But they are by no means dangerous. No people that I heard of had been entombed under these fatal blasts. I am almost sorry now that I did not pass through the region of Mislah in a Saharan hurricane, and then I should have known all.




End of the Sandy Region.—No Birds of Prey in The Sahara.—Progress of the French in the Algerian Oases.—Slave Trade of The Desert supported by European Merchants.—Desolations of Sahara.—System of Living of our People.—Various Tours through Central Africa.—The Desert tenanted by harmless and Domesticated Animals.—Horribly dreary Day's March.—A Fall from my Camel.—Well of Nijberten, and its delicious Water.—Moral Character of the People of our Caravan.—Well of Tăbăbothteen.—Camel knocked up and killed.—Mode of Killing Camels.—Pretty Aspect of The Sahara.—Some of the Ghafalah go on before the rest.—The Plain and Well of Tadoghseen.—Encounter and Adventure with the quasi Bandit Sheik, Ouweek.—Enter the region of the Jenoun or Genii.—Mountain Range of Wareerat.


6th.Rose at day-break but did not start until after sun-rise. Continued through the sand. Scenery as yesterday, hills heaped upon heap, group around group, and sometimes a plain of sand, furrowed in pretty tesselated squares like the sands of the sea-shore. I walked about three hours to ease the nagah. The camels continued to flounder in the sand, throwing over their necks their heavy burdens. The ascents extremely difficult: people employed in scooping an inclined path for the animals. But, in the afternoon, about three, we saw through an opening of the shining heaps, a blue and black waste of contiguous desert. I could not help crying out for joy, like a man at the prow who descries the port, after having been buffeted about many a stormy day by contrary winds and currents. Much fatigued with the walk[411]ing over the sands, and sick with drinking the brackish water of Mislah. Nothing en route to-day except four crows, and a skeleton of a camel. This is the small crow of The Sahara (‮غراب الصحرا‬). People pretend it does not drink water. It may live on the flesh of the few camels which drop down and die from exhaustion, and on lizards. There are, however, no vultures and ravenous birds of huge dimensions in this region of Sahara. So that,

‮حيثما يكون الجسد ايضا تجتمع النسور‬

"Where the body is, there also collect the eagles," is not applicable to this part of The Desert, although the vulture, pouncing voraciously upon the dead man and dying camel, is an appropriate feature in Saharan landscapes. The large birds of prey do not find, as the lion, water to drink in these regions. When we got fairly upon the firm ground of Stony Sahara, I was refreshed with the sight of seven small acacia trees. This seems to be the only tree which will not surrender to the iron sceptre of Saharan desolation, for it strikes its roots into the sterility itself. A white butterfly also, to my amazement, passed my camel's head! Where does the little fluttering thing get its food in this region of desolation?

Another of the Souf Arabs said to me this morning, "This sand is the country of the Souafah and the Shânbah." If so, indeed, it would be a troublesome country for a military expedition. "However," said a merchant, "the maharee can pursue the Shânbah to the last heap of their sands." Speaking of the Shânbah last evening when we were in the midst of the sands, the Souafah said:—"When the enemy will come, we shall cover ourselves in the sand, and fire off our matchlocks. They[412] will feel our bullets, and hear our report, and look about and see no person. We shall be covered up in the sand." This, the Souf Arab repeated several times, and the Ghadamsee traders thought it astonishingly clever and courageous. It is reported five hundred Touaricks are soon to pursue the Shânbah into the Algerian territory. It is said also, French Arabs will support the Shânbah bandits against both Touaricks and Souafah. Such is the silly talk of our caravan. Still the French have got far south, and my Souafah companions acknowledge that some of their districts pay tribute to the Algerian authorities. This is something like progress, and we ought not to deceive ourselves about their movements southwards. Nothing is worse than self-deception. The Romans struggled long before they made any sensible progress in Africa, nay, several centuries. In fifteen years the French have induced a whole line of Saharan oases, more or less, to acknowledge their authority. And the thing is done cleverly enough; they do not appoint a local governor, or dispatch a single soldier, and yet they manage to get some money from these distant Saharan oases. However, this tribute must be very trifling; and were all this line of Algerian oases to pay their tribute regularly, it would be as a drop in the bucket compared with the thousands of millions of francs which have been spent, and will be spent in Algeria. Such a colony as Algeria will not only not pay, but will ruin the finances of a score of kingdoms as large as France. The politics of our moving Saharan city are mostly confined to the Pasha of Tripoli and the French in Algeria. "When will the Pasha go, soon or late? Will another come after him? Will he be better? Will he fleece us as this despot, of all our money? Have the[413] French many troops in Algeria? Have they more than Muley Abd-Errahman? Could they conquer Morocco? Why don't the English drive out the French from Algeria? The Mussulmans of Algeria are now corrupted by the money of the Christians. The Bey of Tunis is the friend of the French. The Sultan of Constantinople, Mehemet Ali, and the English are against the Bey of Tunis and the French. Now, the Christians have great power in the world, but they will soon be cut off, when shall appear the new warrior of the faithful. Is the Sultan of Stamboul strong? Has he more soldiers than Moskou (Russia)? Have the French more soldiers than the English? Is Mehemet Ali to have Tripoli given him, and is he to march on to Tunis and against the French?" &c. All these, and a thousand other questions and opinions similar, agitate the sage politicians of our ghafalah: so true it is, that when we change the heavens above, we do not change our thoughts on the things below, which are left behind us.

My friend, Zaleâ, of Seenawan, did not come with us, he having contracted for the building of the caravansary of Emjessem, but his brother, a rough bold Arab, accompanied us, who assured me to-day,—"That all the goods of the ghafalah were the property of Christians and Jews in Tripoli, and the Ghadamseeah merchants were only their commission agents. These goods were to be exchanged for Soudan merchandise, including slaves, which latter, after being sold in Tripoli, the money of their sale would be given up to the merchants under European protection." This is a strong confirmation of the opinion which I have expressed in my reports, "That the slave-traffic of Tripoli is supported by the money and[414] goods of Europeans." My informant wished to know and put the question:—"If I take you (the writer) to Soudan, and bring you back safe, will you get me free from paying taxes to the Pasha?" Another observed on this,—"That's ridiculous, Yâkob; if you say that Mahomet is the prophet of God, you can go safe to Soudan without the protection of any body." I made answer to this impertinence, that such language was not proper, and if they continued to pester me with their religion, I should report them to Rais Mustapha. This at once silenced them.

Felt very sick this evening with drinking the water of Mislah. It is purging all the people like genuine Epsom.

7th.—Started a little before sun-rise, when a clear mist was spread like a mantle of gauze over old Sahara, and lost the sight of the sand-hills in the course of the morning. I joyfully bid them adieu, though it may be very fine and Desert-like to talk and write of regions of sand and sandy billows, furrowing the bosom of Sahara. Winding about, but always making south. Wind now from the west; the sky mostly overcast, but no signs of rain. No living things en route, but a solitary crow, and another solitary butterfly. The mirage again visible. Very little herbage for the camels, and no wood for the fire. On our right long ranges of low hills, dull and drear outlines of The Desert. In some masses, the stone and earth and chalk are thrown together in confusion, as so many materials for creating a new world. Those who traverse these Saharan desolations, cannot but receive the impression, that old mother earth, slung on her balance, and revolving on her axis, has performed eternal[415] cycles of decay and reproduction. Time was, when these heaps of desolation were fruitful fields of waving corn and smiling meadows, and fair branching woods, meandered about with running rills of silvery streams, where cattle pastured lowing, and birds sang on the trees. Now, heap upon heap, and pile upon pile of the ruins of nature deform the dreadful landscape, one feature being more hideous to look upon than the other: and the whole is a mass of blank existence, having no apparent object but to daunt and terrify the hapless wayfarer, who with his faithful camel, slowly and mournfully winds his weary way through the scene of wasteful destruction. . . . . In the sand, the pebbles are as bright and smooth as those washed by the sea-spray, or chafed by a running brook.

I have observed minutely the system of living amongst our people, and really believe they have not enough to eat. When they invite me to supper, and give me a share of bazeen, I always require another supper on my return, before going to bed. Besides, I always make a slight repast in the morning, which they do not. Then I eat dates and a piece of cake during the day's riding, for we never stop during the day's march. They also munch a few dates themselves. But, altogether, though I'm a moderate eater, I believe I eat every day twice, and sometimes thrice, as much as they eat. With respect to clothing, I wear double the quantity they do, and, nevertheless, feel cold at night. I may say with truth, they are poorly fed and badly clothed. It is this miserable system of living which makes them such lanky bare-boned objects. I observe, also, they feel the fatigue very much, as much as I myself, though unwell with[416] drinking the water and serving a hard apprenticeship to Desert-travelling.

I believe Europeans, in this season of the year, would travel these Saharan wilds with less fatigue, and in far superior style. I now walk two hours first thing every morning. Most of the merchants do the same. Zaleâ said to me, "Yâkob, we (pointing to three or four of his people) are the only true men here, and understand affairs; the rest are all good-for-nothing." Indeed, the Seenawanee Arabs are generally very excellent camel-drivers, and know the routes perfectly. We have with us a young Touarick, who never covers his head winter or summer. His hair grows long, unlike other Mohammedans, who shave the head. This Targhee tells me he is never unwell. We're encamped in a valley. As the sun sets, the sky is encharged with clouds. But usually the wind goes down a little after dark, and rises an hour or two after day-break. Fortunately, this is not a month of winds, so say the people.

As the camel moves slowly, but surely[64], on to Ghat, I still revolve in mind the various routes of the interior. I'm still as much at a loss as ever to determine which route I shall take, and have only Providence for my guide. There are various routes before me:—

1st.—To go to Soudan, viâ Aheer, and return with the ghafalah of Ghadames, with which I proceed. This is easy and simple, but does not offer much variety.

2nd.—To proceed to Soudan, viâ Aheer, as in the first, and return viâ Bornou and Fezzan. This offers both variety and security.


3rd.—To proceed as before to Soudan, then Bornou, then Darfour, Kordofan, Nubia, and Egypt. This is various, new, and attended with danger, but I don't know what extent of danger.

4th.—To proceed to Soudan, Kanou, and Noufee, and then descend the Niger to the Bight of Benin. This would be a fine journey, and perhaps not attended with any very great difficulties.

5th.—To proceed to Soudan, as above, thence along the upper banks of the Niger to Timbuctoo, and return viâ Mogador in Morocco. This I believe the most perilous of all the routes.

Any of these routes, however, could not fail to be useful to commerce, geography, and discovery. Those who take the route of descending the Niger to the ocean, will avoid a three or four months' journey over The Desert. Noufee, on the Niger, is only fifteen days from Kanou, and seven to the Atlantic.

To-day passed several tumuli of stones, more than eight feet high, evidently placed to direct the caravans over the trackless portions of Sahara. I wonder what the people of Europe will say when I tell them, that The Desert—pictured in such frightful colours by the ancients, as teeming with monsters and wild beasts, and every unearthly and uncouth thing and being, not forgetting the dragons, salamanders, vampyres, cockatrices, and fiery-flying serpents, and as such believed in these our enlightened days—is a very harmless place, its menagerie being reduced to a few small crows, and now and then a stray butterfly, and a few common house and cheese-and-bacon and fruit flies! these poor little domestic everyday creatures! Nay, there is not found here the wild[418] ox, or the oudad, or the antelope, or ostrich, or the wild boar, or any other animal which inhabit and mark the Saharan regions near the north coast of Africa. It is, indeed, impossible to conceive of a country so devoid of living creatures as the route which we have traversed these last twelve days. To this must be added, that now is the favourable season for animals, and we should certainly see them if there were any to be seen.

Of the four routes to Ghat, the next to us on the west, is the shortest. People say the route which we are now travelling is only frequented in this season, and mostly by large caravans, or scarcely ever in the summer.

8th.—Rose at day-break and started at sunrise: as usual, the sky overcast and in an hour the wind got up and blew a strong gale awhile from the south-east. To-day Sahara looked unusually dark and drear; night as a dread pall seemed to hang on the day and all visible things—all life and animation was extinct but our lone, solitary, melancholy caravan! We moved on in deep and weary silence, not a noise, a cry, a murmur, the grumbling of the camels was even hushed. Nothing broke the horrid silence of The Desert. We wound round long-long winding valleys—

"Through many a dark and dreary vale [We] pass'd, and many a region dolorous—" "Where all life dies."

Most of the stone scattered en route was black shingle, and all the region had a volcanic look. In one wady through which we passed were found several stones rounded into (shall I call them?) cannon-balls, scattered about, and some were of prodigious size. They were as round as if artificially made. There were also a[419] great many halves, or half balls. Our people to divert their minds from the gloom hanging around them dismounted and amused themselves with these cannon-balls of nature. Some would say that nature furnishes a type of every thing in art. Our Touaricks assured us, "These balls were made by the Jenoun, who on occasion of quarrels, pelted one another with them. A traveller was once killed with some of these balls during the night, although a friend of the Jenoun." In a former period, I imagine the action of water produced these specimens of stony rotundity, for they were embedded in a deep wady. On leaving this valley, I had also something else to relieve me from the gloom of this day's march. On mounting a small ridge of rock, abrupt, and full of sharp stones, I was pitched off in a summerset style from the back of the camel, and if I had not been caught in my fall by a slave of the caravan, I should have fallen once and for ever in this world; as it was, I felt stunned and considerably hurt. This was my first and last fall from the camel. I learnt caution at a great risk. The people all crowded round to assist me, terribly frightened. My thick woollen clothes saved my bones. I could not help remarking the coincidence of being saved by a slave, for the benefit of whom I had chiefly undertaken this perilous journey. In general, the camel goes extremely steady, it is only in mounting and descending that they become unsteady, unwieldy, and dangerous. At other times, you may sleep, eat and drink, read and write, on the back of a camel. But as our days are short and nights long, we require no sleep, and my eyes are too bad for reading. Our people call camels by the Arabic term bâeer (‮بعير‬), the male camel is called jemel (‮جمل‬),[420] and the female nagah (‮ناقه‬). As the she-camel is most valuable for the sustenance of the tribes, the Touaricks sometimes call the whole race of camels nagah. "We," say they, "have nothing but the nagah (she-camel)," thereby meaning, our property alone consists in camels. But the nagah is a great favourite with the Mussulmans of all nations. Mahomet mounted a milk-white nagah, when he ascended to paradise. The camels have all public and private marks, the former for their country, and the latter for their owner, and, strange enough, the public mark of the Ghadames camels is the English broad R. So when a camel is stolen, a man claims his camel by his mark. The marking is done by branding with a hot iron.

I can't help observing the habits of the camels, for our continued marching affords us ample leisure. When these melancholy creatures can find no other occupation en route, or when there is nothing en route, or after a full belly, they set to work, like men, and bite one another. Often one of the camels falls, or throws its load, in a regular encounter. The Moors and Arabs are bad loaders of the camels, and there is always some camel with its load falling off. In fact, the people do nothing neat and well. Even the little gear required for these animals is continually breaking and getting out of order. People look to the immediate hour before them: not excepting even the necessary articles of fodder and water, and food for themselves, of which they often neglect to take a sufficient supply. And yet if anything could teach a man to be provident it is The Desert. If this Saharan travelling were placed under the management of Europeans, it would be infinitely more secure.[421] Our camels are nearly all coast-camels, we shall soon have to speak of the maharee. The Touarghee uses quite a different style of address when he coaxes along the camels; it is bolder and quicker in its intonations, suited to the language of the Touaricks. A frequent address of encouragement is, "Bok, bok bok, bokka bokka." The Arabs usually command the movement of the camels by "Tzâ;" and when they are to stop, by "Ush;" and, to kneel down, it is a prolonged pronunciation of the guttural ‮خ‬ or Kh-h-h. We may well suppose, however, that the camels which travel this route are expert linguists in the Touarghee and Arabic.

We continued all day till the last dull departing solar ray of the west had left us. A long dark, dismal, dreary day it has been. We encamped amidst two long ranges of Saharan mountains as a shelter from the wind. Our people detest the wind, they prefer burning heat to wind. The mountains only deserve the name from their frightfully gloomy aspect, not from their consistence or magnitude, for in reality they are so much stony and earthy rubbish shovelled up into long ridges. There is nothing in shape or consistence of granite. I picked up several pieces of petrified wood, but none of them pretty or remarkable. So far as I can judge, there are no minerals or rare stones to repay the researches of the geologist in these regions of desolation. Noticed a quantity of soft grey stone, as also of slate stone: observed some lime-stone gradually acquiring the consistence and colour of fine streaky marble.

9th.—Rose as the day broke, and started with the first rays of the sun. Continued through the same kind of country, with an addition of a little sand here and[422] there, for five hours, until we arrived at the well of Nijberten, to our great joy, for it is a well of deliciously sweet water. Around the well, I was pleased with the sight of several dark bushes scattered upon the small sand-hills. Anything in the shape of a tree now gladdens the heart. I observe again, that vegetation often springs out of the sand in preference to the hard or even softer earth in The Sahara. A little sand, scattered over the hard earth, and oftener solid rock, enables vegetation to spring up, when the mould of Sahara produces nothing. But there is little or no herbage for camels. Give my nagah the barley which I provided for my own use. People ridicule the choice of Rais Mustapha in the purchase of the camel, and say she will never carry me to Soudan.

I'm now writing the journal of yesterday. I can't write every day. Sometimes several days elapse. Often wonder how Denham could write his journal every day, as he asserts. The wind is high and is scattering sand in every direction. Certainly I require no supply of sand when turning over my sheet wet with the ink.

Before we get to the water, we are obliged to scoop out the sand as at Mislah. Many pits in Sahara are in this predicament. But we are infinitely more repaid for our pains, for we find most refreshing nectar-like water, as good as the last was bad. I imagine I drank off a full gallon at once. I was praying night and day for this water, and was obliged to go from tent to tent, begging a drop of the water which was left of Nather well, until all the skins were empty of that water. Some of the merchants kept a little in a small skin as a luxury. But I must do our people justice, for seeing I could not[423] drink the Mislah water, they gave me often their sweet water and themselves drank the brackish. I must add, I see no striking moral difference between the people of this Desert caravan, and the people who fill an English mail-coach or a French diligence. Mankind are morally much the same everywhere. The last sixteen centuries have added little or nothing to discovery and amendment in morals, however orthodox we may all have become. Our Christendom has been chiefly occupied in resisting the worst features of the Mosaic economy as engrafted by the corruptions of the Church on the Christian system. The commission to Moses, "to extirpate the Canaanitish tribes," has been the universal war-cry of the dominant party in the Church to burn and empale heretics. There are still many divinity professors who think it right to kill heretics and infidels. The society of the nineteenth century is still eaten up by the most rancorous bigotry, and morality is proportionably at a low ebb. Nevertheless, with all our present Desert hardships, we are an easy journeying caravan; the patience of no one is particularly tried, and there is no event to draw out the real passions of the soul. We are now five days from Ghat; to-morrow being the Ayed Kebir, we shall make but a short day. Had a little private conversation with a Souf Arab. There are some fifty families of Jews in Souf, occupied in commerce. Speaking of the eternal quarrel of the Shânbah and Souafah, I found him a strong partisan of the Shânbah. "Fine fellows are the Shânbah, like us the Souafah; one Shânbah would kill five Touaricks," he exclaimed. Souf is a rich country. This Souf Arab has thirty fine dughla date-trees, one of finest species. Riches are estimated by the number of[424] date-trees. He has two brothers now returning from Soudan, bringing slaves and elephants' teeth for the markets of Algeria.

The notorious Mohammed Sagheer, who slaughtered thirty Frenchmen in cold blood at Biscara, is now at Tozer, in Tunis. This flight of fugitives will continue as long as France is in North Africa. It is inevitable. When a political refugee is quiet his person should be held sacred; and it was very dastardly on the part of the French to demand to have this Arab Sheikh given up. But the French mind is incapable of comprehending what is a political asylum, or even what is constitutional freedom. Local politics still stick close to our ghafalah, and the people have such faith in my power and influence, that they really believe I could, if I would, get Ghadames freed from paying tribute to the Porte. An Arab of Derge said, "If you return from Soudan, and speak to the English Consul and English Sultan, you will then serve us in Derge and Ghadames, but if you don't come back we are all lost." The British Consul of Tripoli might, indeed, do something for these oppressed people, and save the Saharan commerce from impending ruin. I quiet the people by telling them, (and which is the fact,) I have repeatedly written to the English Consul of Tripoli about their affairs, and to obtain some mitigation of the oppression of their Government.

The bushes springing out of the sand are but a couple of feet high, and their dark foliage is covered with crystallized salt. They are a stinted species of acacia. Nijberten is the first Touarghee name en route, and now we are fairly in the Ghat territory. On our right, a day's journey over some ranges of hills, are tents and[425] flocks and inhabited districts. Passed several tumuli of stones raised in the shape of graves. To-day the stone had a better appearance, a good deal of grey and red marble, and some isolated blocks of granite. No birds, insects, or animals. Course south.

10th.—Strong wind all day, and cold. The Ayed Kebir. But our travellers only prayed a little longer in the morning. Travellers are exempt from the ordinary religious ceremonies and festivals. This feast is usually kept up three days. A camel knocked up to-day, and unloaded this morning. After two hours and half, passed on the right the well of Tăbăbothteen. People say its water is still sweeter than that of Nijberten. Indeed, we shall find the Ghat water to be usually sweet and delicious. Scenery as usual, broken in valleys, hills, and high ground. Some of the hills, covered partly with sand, looked very pretty at a distance, shrouded as if in a sheet of snow, and dazzling in the sun-beams. Encamped early in the afternoon. The knocked-up camel difficult to be got on. A Divan of camel-drivers was held, and the question discussed, "Whether the camel should be killed?" It was decided that it should be doctored and left to graze until a Targhee was sent from Ghat for it. A most piteous sight it was to look upon the poor camel, prostrate and moaning, as if pleading the excuse of its malady for not moving on. I could not stop to look at the wretched animal. Nevertheless, I returned again, and found the camel tied down, with its mouth pulled open, and its jaws lashed back with cords, to prevent the poor creature from groaning too loud. The hot iron was being applied to the shoulder, where there were some festering or dislocation; meanwhile, the[426] creature groaned in dreadful but silent agonies. At length, this doctoring finished, it was left to graze; but being actually nearly burnt to death, it could not get up, and was killed during the night, to prevent it from dying, in order that our orthodox people might eat the flesh like good Mussulmans.

Rais Mustapha amused me by telling how that the Arabs watched the signs of immediate death, and just stuck the camel in the last agony of dissolution, in order that they might eat the flesh with an orthodox conscience. Camels are killed differently from other animals. Sheep and bullocks and fowls have their throats cut from side to side, with "hideous gash," for they are the most slashing throat-cutters; camels, on the contrary, are stuck in the throat at the bottom of the neck, and the top of the chest-bones. Next morning (11th), was held a Divan of the whole ghafalah to decide upon the value of the slaughtered camel, for the owner was in Ghadames. Its worth was estimated at four dollars. I purchased a quarter of a dollar's worth. The camel was young, but the meat not very good. Our people soon devoured the meat.

11th.—Rose early, but did not start till near noon, to give the camels more rest. Old Sahara looks absolutely pretty with the dark shrubs bespotting and besprinkling his white shining sand-hills. The heavens are strewn with soft flaky light clouds; the blue above is clear and profound, and what other colours there are, look fresh and fair. Our people catch the lighter and more exhilarating influence, and are more talkative to-day. Descending to grosser matters, they are joking about how much of the camel's meat they are to swallow for supper. A part of the ghafalah left us, as the main body would not start[427] early, thinking to arrive a couple of days before us in Ghat. I loaded and wished to go on with them, despising my friend Fletcher's advice. They insisted I should not accompany them, but come on with the larger body of people. I was obliged to return, and it happened for the best. This was a short day's march, but wrote no journal. The advanced party excused themselves for not letting me go with them, by saying, "We are going amongst the Touaricks our friends for a few days, and you will arrive first." I mentioned this to our party, who say, "They're liars. Are you so foolish, Yâkob, as to believe every thing a Mussulman tells you?"

12th.—Rose and started with the earliest rays of the Saharan sun. Scenery as usual; but the ranges of Saharan hills assuming a more battlemental shape, and darker, blacker colour. Fast approaching the inhabited districts; saw the traces of a route to Fezzan, on which the foot-prints of sheep were visible. Saw some inhabited mountains at a considerable distance, but no peculiar feelings started in the mind, and I grow weary of the journey. A dull drear and long day. Overtook the advanced portion of our ghafalah, and had the laugh at them. We asked them, whether they had seen their good friends the Touaricks? whether they had brought us fresh eggs, milk, and a whole sheep? We, of course, begging our portion of the rich spoil. The people now told me to place my tent within the circle of the encampment, as we were getting near the inhabited districts. I usually encamped at a short distance from the centre of confusion in the ghafalah, and found it[428] more quiet. As to fear, I had none, and slept more soundly in the open Desert than in any part of the world where I had travelled before.

13th.—Rose at day-break, and, after a few hours' riding, came in full view of the Touarick camel-grazing country. We descended into a beautiful plain. After such Desert, how lovely it was! the plain of the Paradise of Sahara! This plain afforded many a taste of freshest herbage for the camels, almost approaching to English grass. They cropped it with rapacious greediness. Every person's eyes sparkled with delight at seeing the famished camels devour the herbage. We stopped half an hour to let them graze. Here were butterflies in quantities fluttering about, in dress of silver white, and gorgeous hues of rubies, and labouring beetles and industrious ants covering the small turf-hills, all which were to us "signs of life," and living in the world. We had already seen, before entering the fair plain, a small flight of larks, and now we feasted our eyes on a few swallows skimming this "flowery mead," for here and there were pretty blue and red and yellow wild flowers. A moment I forgot being in The Desert. The abundance of the herbage arises from there having recently fallen copious showers of rain—quite unusual in this thirsty country. But our route is the worst and most desolate of all the routes from Ghadames to Ghat. The other parallel routes always afford more herbage, besides having some inhabited tracts, with flocks of sheep and herds of camels feeding. Indeed, with the exception of a few people at the well of Tadoghseen, which we shall soon mention, we found no inhabitants in this the most[429] easterly route. Whilst passing through the plain I espied a little black something moving about. In getting up to it, to my astonishment it was a little child stark naked! Our people were as much amazed as myself. I thought within myself, if this be the way in which the Touaricks bring up their children, exposed to cold and heat, rain and wind, in such terrible plight in open desert! no wonder then they can bear all the hardship of The Sahara, as we a spring-day in Europe. It is impossible for an European to contend with a nature like that of the Touarick; we can never expect to adopt their habits of Saharan travelling. The little wretched urchin had been left by some of the shepherds, for camels, goats, and donkeys were feeding about. The child was very merry, but not old enough to speak much. Our people gave the boy a piece of bread, which he put at once to his mouth, and grinned "a thank you." From the plain rises a huge block of rock in the shape of a sugar-loaf, a frequent form of blocks of rock in this desert. As we neared the well, I was greatly rejoiced at the arrival of two slaves, one of which had been dispatched by the Sheikh Jabour from Ghat, to tell me, "I was to come with all confidence to Ghat, to fear nothing; no Touarghee should say an untoward word to me." I augured well of all things on the receipt of such news. Our people were as pleased as myself on the arrival of Jabour's slave. They called out to me to take the handkerchief from off my face, to let the messenger see "the face of a Christian."

After riding further, three or four Touaricks showed themselves. I saluted them. They asked our people what I said, and did not seem very friendly. I began[430] to have suspicions[65]. The advanced portion of the ghafalah had disposed of their camels and baggage before I got up to the well. Said and myself went up amongst the people encamping, but, looking on my left about fifty yards' distant, I saw a group of people and a quarrel going on between our people, four or five Touaricks, and two slaves. Our people were violently pulling a slave one way, and Ouweek, a Touarghee chief, tearing him as savagely the other way. At length the slave, struggling stoutly, got free, and went further off to a horse. Ouweek thought the slave intended to mount the horse and ride off to Ghat; so the chief followed the slave and again seized hold of him, and unsheathing his sword, began beating him with its sides. The Ghadamsee people and Arabs again interfered and rescued the slave. In the meanwhile Haj Mafoul Zuleâ passed me, and said, "Go up, go up." I replied, "Why? I shall stop here, where I am." He answered something; but, being hard of hearing, I could not catch what he said. I determined not to move. Afterwards, thinking that Zuleâ wished me not to be mixed up with the quarrel, I went further on towards Ghat. I imagined the slave had been overriding his master's horse, and was being beaten for that. After staying some time up the road, I returned to my camel, tired of waiting, and sat down, telling Said to unpack. But it seems Said had heard something which I had not, and said, "Not yet, not yet." I insisted upon his unloading the camel, and took out some dates and biscuits, and lay myself down to eat[431] them. The scuffle and uproar was now going on about a hundred yards from me, and I saw the sword of Ouweek flourishing and flashing about. This was succeeded by a calm, and a whole circle of people squatted down around Ouweek. Meanwhile, the three followers of the Sheikh went a short distance off, spread their heiks upon the ground with great and solemn parade, and performed the afternoon prayer, as if about to sanctify some impending act of their Sheikh. I watched them anxiously. When I had waited half an hour or so, several of our people, with Zuleâ, returned, and not a little surprised me by making to me the following announcement:—"Ouweek, the Touarghee Sheikh of this district, wants to kill you, because you are a Christian and an infidel. He has just been beating one of the slaves for going to meet you, accompanying the messenger of Ghat. He wished you to come up to him, that he might dispatch you at once." To say the truth, I had such confidence in the Touaricks of Ghat, and had been so confirmed in my confidence by the arrival of the messenger from Ghat, that I could not believe this speech of our people, and was disposed to think it a joke. I was perfectly cool, and myself. But as they most seriously reiterated this story, and let out a hint, or I gave the hint, I'm sure I now forget in the confusion, that perhaps the business could be compromised for money, I said to the spokesman, Zuleâ, "Oh! for God's sake, go, go; yes, yes, make a bargain." I noticed poor Said at the time, who was staring at me full in the face, to see, it would appear, how I was affected by this most unexpected incident. After a great deal of squabbling and bargaining, in a true mercantile style, it was finally arranged. Ouweek[432] first fiercely demanded one thousand dollars! Hereupon all the people cried out that I had no money. The quasi-bandit, nothing receding, "Why, the Christian's mattress is full of money," pointing to it still on the camel, for he was very near me, although I could not distinguish his features. The Touaricks who had come to see me before I arrived at the well, observed, "He has money on his coat, it is covered with money," alluding to the buttons. All our people, again, swore solemnly I had no money but paper, which I should change on my arrival at Ghat. The bandit, drawing in his horns, "Well, the Christian has a nagah." "No," said the people, "the camel belongs to us; he hires it." The bandit, giving way, "Well, the Christian has a slave, there he is," pointing to Said, "I shall have the slave." "No, no," cried the people, "the English have no slaves. Said is a free slave." The bandit, now fairly worsted, full of rage, exclaimed, "What are you going to do with me, am I not to kill this infidel, who has dared to come to my country without my permission[66]?" Hereat, the messenger from Ghat, Jabour's slave, of whom the bandit was afraid, and dared not lay a hand upon, interposed, and, assuming an air of defiance, said, "I am come from my Sultan, Jabour; if you kill the Christian, you must kill me first. The order of my Sultan is, No man is to say a word to the Christian." Our people now took courage from this noble conduct of the slave, declaring, "If Yâkob is beaten, we will all be[433] beat first; if Yâkob is to be killed, we will be killed likewise." Ouweek now saw he must come down in his pretensions. The bargain was struck, after infinite wrangling, for a houlee and a jibbah, of the value of four dollars[67]! I did not, therefore, "sell for much," and Christians at four dollars per head in The Desert must be considered very cheap. It is said, every man has his price; I had not the honour of fixing my price. This was done for me, and I ratified the bargain. I made a present of a turban to the brave messenger, whom the people assured me acted a most noble part. It is strange that this is the second time I have been preserved from something like a catastrophe by the interposition of a slave. Did Providence intend this as any sign of approbation of my anti-slavery labours? We were all uneasy. Everybody had to supply something; and it was hinted, that I ought to send them supper. Our people did this, and would not allow me, saying, that I lived with them and had no provisions of my own. I was indignant at the conduct of the Souf Arabs, who cowered down before the Touaricks, and belied all their previous pretensions to courage and intrepidity. Even a Seenawan Arab was frightened at my coming near his tent, in dread of another quarrel or attack during the night. All our people more or less were alarmed and agitated, although we numbered sixty in the presence of five Touaricks! I thought in myself, What arrant cowards you are! To cover their cowardice they pretended the Sheikh had hundreds of people not[434] far off. Zaleâ, and his Arabs, certainly behaved the best. Zaleâ, in fact, was now the only man of the caravan. He told me afterwards, the Ghadamsee people had proposed to him, that I should run away on to Ghat, but he would not sanction such pusillanimity. I confess, however, when the people described to me the character of Ouweek, I myself felt considerable alarm. During the succeeding night, I slept scarcely a wink. I made the messenger of Jabour sleep close by my mattress, and unsheathing Said's old rusty sword, laid it beside me, determining "to die game," or put a good face upon the matter. At any rate, I thought an Englishman could not, however he might trust the good faith of these people, die like an unresisting coward. Ouweek, like a true politician, feasted the messenger dispatched from Ghat to me nearly all night, and told him to report on his return to Ghat:—"The Christian wished to give Ouweek a handsome present, but the Ghadamsee people, who are sorry dogs, would not let the Christian act from the impulse of his heart. So Ouweek quarrelled with the people of the caravan." The Sheikh and his followers kept up a roasting fire all night, a stone's throw from my encampment. The bandit was merry at the expense of the alarms of me and our people, telling my messenger, "These Ghadamseeah are all dogs, but the Christian is no dog, for when I threatened to cut his throat, he sat down quietly and ate dates and biscuits." The bandit gave me more credit than I can take to myself, for, at the time of munching the biscuits, I was not aware of his violent attempt at levying black mail. There can, however, be no question of the bad character of this Sheikh. He has murdered several people, and, not long ago,[435] killed a rich Marabout, going on a pilgrimage to Mecca, plundering him of a great deal of property. He is therefore no pleasant customer for a Christian to meet with on the highways of The Sahara, whom he would decapitate with less scruple of conscience than a Leadenhall poulterer would cut off a goose's head. He has many people, though a second-rate chief, and is allied by blood to the reigning family of Shafou. Though a little insignificant man, he possesses undaunted courage, and has signalized himself in the wars against the Shânbah. He walks lame with a wound he has received in battle. He is generally dreaded in the open country, except by the merchants, who are personally acquainted with him, to whom he behaves as a very jolly fellow.

14th.—All our people rose early, and got off as quickly as possible. We could not breathe freely until we were out of the clutches of Ouweek. Some of them, however, paid a farewell visit to the Sheikh, who received them very graciously, as politely as any Spanish bandit, and sent this message to me:—"Yâkob, go in amen (peace or security) to Ghat, fear nothing from any one, for you are under my protection." Our people encouraged me along. The Souf Arab, who was so cowardly, said:—"Why didn't you say, 'Mahomet is the prophet of God,' then you would have had to pay no money." I called him a fool, and asked him, if all the people didn't pay something as well as myself? This stopped his mouth. Zaleâ fully agreed with me, as did all our people, that if Ouweek had simply asked for a present, he would have got more from me. I certainly should have given him at once half a dozen dollars if he had shown himself friendly, and welcomed me to his dis[436]trict as a friendly stranger. It appears he refused money, and even the camel, which the people in the imbroglio said he might, if he choose, take; he took the woollens, because he knew they would not be made a question of restitution by the Sheikhs and Sultan. He was clearly entitled to receive something from me, by the usage of ages, commonly called "safety-money," but not to demand it at the point of his broad-sword. This was his great offence in the eyes of all his friends and the authorities of Ghat.

I did not see the well, but the water of Tadoghseen is extremely sweet and palatable. I should have paid my homage to this well, as I had done to all the sources of water in The Desert, had not Ouweek taken up his quarters near it, and I was not anxious to disturb or excite the curiosity of the bandit by a personal interview. One of his followers came to see me off in the morning, a tall attenuated black shape of a man.

We are now fairly in "the region of the Genii," the land of mystery and disembodied spirits; and the whole country is intersected and bounded on every side with the battlemental ranges of black, gloomy, and fantastically-shaped mountains, distinguishing the country of the Ghat Touaricks, where their friends and confederates, the Jenoun or Genii, dwell with them in the most harmonious friendship. Here our people say,

"Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth Unseen, both when we wake and when we sleep."

Rocking Rock

There exists a compact between the Genii and Touaricks to this effect, a species of Magna Charta, and not selling themselves to the Saharan devils:—"The[437] Touarick fathers solemnly vowed, alone of mortals, eternal friendship to the Genii, they would never molest them in the various palaces which they (the Genii) had built in their (the Touarick) country, nor use any means either through Mahomet, or the Holy Koran, to injure them or dislodge them from the black turret-shaped hills: and for this devotion on their part, the Genii promised to afford them (the Touaricks) protection at all times against their enemies, more particularly during the night, giving them vision and tact to surprise their enemy during the dread hour of darkness." So the Touaricks are reckoned very devils at night, and usually attack their enemy at this time, and hack him to pieces with their broadswords. Poor Major Laing was surprised by a Touarghee chief in this way, two of his servants were killed, and himself wounded, or cut and hacked in some thirty places. The air of the region of Genii and Touaricks we now breathed, but found it as free as that of any part of The Sahara. Our people did not think so, and they pointed out to me with a shuddering awe all the mysterious objects. First and foremost, standing out from the lower and more modest abodes of the Genii, like a huge castle, such as the Titans might have built when they scaled the walls of heaven, was the Kesar Genoun, (‮قصر جنون‬) "Palace of demons," par excellence. This was the hall of council where the Genii meet from thousands of miles round, and debate upon their affairs of State. It is also the Jemâ or Mosque, where they meet on a Friday to pray to Allah, for they also worship Allah, though not properly. These lower and less destructive grades of Demonii "believe and tremble." This is also the mint where the Genii keep[438] their bullion. The entire caverns of this monstrous block of rock are full of gold and silver, and diamonds, and all precious jewels[68]. A more mortal and sublunary mystery was now pointed out to me. This was a small block of rock about fifty feet high, of the shape of the accompanying drawing; the lower or under part where it comes in contact with the ground, being so exceedingly small as not to be visible. Here was the dreadful spot on which several people were murdered, and amongst the rest a wealthy Marabout, but a saint of great sanctity. The murderer (of what country it is not said), was so ashamed and horrified at his own deed of blood, that when he had committed it he begged the Genii to cover up their bodies from his sight, for he had not courage to[439] bury them. The Genii listened to his request, detached this piece of rock from their great palace, where it has rested, occasionally rocking[69], say the people, to this day—a memento against murder and crime! For this service the murderer begged the Genii to accept of some of the spoil, but they refused to accept of gold tainted with blood; and, on the contrary, the avenging spirits of justice pelted him with pieces of rock till he died. He was fairly stoned to death, and his bruised and broken carcase was left unburied, a horror to all passers-by! We see the Genii are a moral people, and in general the Mussulmans of The Sahara speak of them as a good sort of folks, not unlike Puck and his merry[440] crew, only playing occasionally mischievous pranks upon silly inconsiderate mortals.

Beyond the Kesar Jenoun stretches away north and south the long range of black basaltic mountains, called by our people Wareerat, but I am not sure if this be the Touarick name. This ridge forms the boundaries of the Tibboo and Touarick country, for it stretches as far or farther south than the Tibboos, some fifteen or twenty days' journey. From the town of Ghat to the base of this range is half a day, eastward, although the range looks, by the ordinary delusion of Desert optics, to be close upon the town.


[64] "Slow and sure," has in no case whatever so good an application as to the progress of the camel's march.

[65] These were evidently Ouweek's spies. They certainly did not accost me in that frank manner as the Touaricks had been wont in Ghadames.

[66] "Without my permission," or literally "tearing the Litham from my face." El-Lithām—‮اللثام‬—is the bandage which all the Touaricks wear around the face, covering every part of it except the top of the cheek-bones and the eyes.

[67] The houlee, ‮حولي‬, is the same as the heik, and the jibbah, ‮جبّه‬, is a huge frock or tobe, with short sleeves, and coming up close round the neck.

[68] On these words of Shakespear, "Kept by a Devil," (King Henry VI., Part II., Act 4, and Scene 3,) Steevens makes the following annotation:—"It was anciently supposed, and is still a vulgar superstition of the East, that mines, containing precious metals, were guarded by evil spirits." So in Certaine Secrete Wonders of Nature, by Edward Fenton, 1569, "There appeare at this day many strange visions and wicked spirites in the metal mines of the Greate Turke. In the mine at Anneburg was a metal sprite which killed twelve workmen; the same causing the rest to forsake the myne, albeit it was very riche."

[69] There is an extraordinary co-resemblance between this Saharan rocking, or logging, stone, and that of our own in Cornwall, much noted and visited by all classes of travellers. Among the truly romantic coast-scenery of Cornwall, at the south-west angle of the county, are the celebrated Logan, or rocking-stone, and the lofty granite rocks called Tiergh Castle. Here is a reef of rocks jutting into the sea, on the summit of one of which is a large single mass of stone, weighing about sixty tons, resting on a sort of pivot, so near the centre that the whole block may be easily made to oscillate or log, to and fro. This logging stone has created astonishment amongst the illiterate, and given rise to many fabulous stories: whilst others have imagined it was placed here by the Druids, to overawe and terrify the vulgar.

Geologists, however, says Dr. Paris, readily discover, that the only chisel ever employed has been the tooth of time—the only artists engaged, the elements. Some years ago, the upper, or logging-stone, was thrown from its equilibrium by the bodily exertions of some sailors; but a general cry of indignation having been raised against this wanton act, it was shortly afterwards reinstated in nearly its original position by the perpetrators of the mischief, who, while thus making honourable amends for their former folly, evinced great ingenuity and skilfulness.—Fisher's Views in Devonshire and Cornwall.







IN THE YEARS OF 1845 AND 1846.






Φωνὴ βοῶντος ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ.





Publisher in Ordinary to Her Majesty.





J.E.S. del. J. W. Cook. sc.





Table of Contents

XVI.Residence in Ghat1
XVII.Residence in Ghat34
XVIII.Residence in Ghat56
XIX.Abandon the Tour to Soudan77
XX.Continued Residence in Ghat115
XXI.Continued Residence in Ghat152
XXII.Preparations for Departure to Fezzan189
XXIII.From Ghat to Mourzuk224
XXIV.From Ghat to Mourzuk270
XXV.Residence at Mourzuk308
XXVI.Residence at Mourzuk336
XXVII.From Mourzuk to Sockna363
XXVIII.From Mourzuk to Sockna386
XXIX.Residence in Sockna408
XXX.From Sockna to Misratah433
XXXI.From Misratah to Tripoli460

List of Illustrations

A Sand Stormfacing Title-page.
Architectural detail of Houses71
Stones for grinding Corn81
Touaricks seated in the Shelly108
View of the Town of Ghat from the Oasis163
Governor's Palace, Ghat198
Dress of Touarick Men207
Dress of Touarick Men showing Litham209
"The Demon's Palace"243
Shapes of Desert Mosques269
Targhee Scout302
Detail of Talisman418
Carved Stone, Ancient Roman Station of Septimus Severus445







Arrival at Ghat, and reception by its Inhabitants.—The Cold of The Sahara.—Haj Ahmed, the Governor, and Sheikh Jabour.—Distribute Presents to the Governor and Jabour.—Visit the Sheikh Hateetah, styled the British Consul of Ghat.—Make the acquaintance of the Tripoline Merchant Haj Ibrahim.—The Ghat Rabble.—Ouweek arrives in Ghat.—A Visit from Touarick Women.—Arabs begging from me by force.—Arrival of Kandarka from Aheer.—Bel Kasem's account of the Slave Trade.—Visit to Haj Ahmed, the Governor; his Character and Establishment described.—Bel Kasem's Sick Slave.—All classes of People attempt to convert me to Mohammedanism.—Bad effect of an European Tourist assuming the Character of a Mahometan.—Touarghee mode of Saluting.—Miserable condition of Slaves on arriving from Soudan.—Soudanese Merchants friendly to me.—Visit from the Governor.—Report in The Desert of Christians Worshipping Idols.—Make the Acquaintance of a young Touarghee.—Slave Trading and Kidnapping Slaves up The Niger.—Economical Bill of Expenses of Journey from Ghat to Soudan.


15th.Rose two hours before daybreak in order to arrive early at Ghat in the morning. About ten a.m., the palms of Ghat were visible through the scattered blocks of rock in the valley, for the plain became now[2] contracted and assumed the shape of a deep broad valley, on the one side a low range of sand-hills, and on the other the high rocky chain of Wareerat. But the first sight of the oasis, after nineteen weary days of Desert, affected me with only disagreeable sensations. The affair of Ouweek, though pretty well got over, had shaken my confidence in the Touaricks. Indeed, the painful forebodings of the last forty hours had seriously deranged my plans, and made me think of returning, availing myself the most of my unsuccessful tour. This suffering of thought day after day is intense and worries me, and will soon make me an old man, if not in years. It was the sudden shock of the affair just after receiving the messenger of peace from Ghat. I saw at once that there was a great deal of insubordination in the lesser chieftains, which made travelling in this country very insecure. I remembered the remark of my taleb, "All the Touaricks are the Divan, and each has his own opinion, and carries it out in spite of the Sultan."

We were now met by the friends of the Ghadamsee merchants, but with the exception of Essnousee and two or three others, I received few salutes of welcome; and when we got up to the gates of the city (at noon), not a single person of our caravan offered me the least assistance, either in interpreting or otherwise. I felt myself in a most deplorable predicament, but I reflected that all men must each one look after his own business, so our people were now each one occupied with his own affairs. I felt much the want of a good Moorish or Arab servant. Said was of no use whatever in this case. Strangers and loungers crowded and clamoured round me, anxious to look at the face of "The Christian." It[3] was covered with my travelling handkerchief, and when I untied my face to gratify their curiosity, they burst out with the rude and wild expression of surprise, "Whooh! Whooh! Whey!" Amongst this mob I at once distinguished a number of the Aheer and Soudan merchants. These showed the greatest curiosity, but my outer dress being entirely Moorish, there was little novelty in my appearance, nay, scarcely any to point me out from the rest of the caravan. Several of the Ghat people then asked me what I wanted. I told them, the Governor of Ghat. I was not understood. At last came up to me a young Tripoline Moor of the name of Mustapha, who volunteered his services as Touarghee and Arabic interpreter, but, of course, our conversation was always in Arabic. Amidst a cluster of Touaricks and Ghat townsmen, the Governor was pointed out. Several Sheikhs were present, but it appears they gave precedence to the Governor's son from a feeling of shamefacedness. Haj Ahmed's son is a very nice polite young gentleman, as smart as a Parisian dandy. After a little delay he conducted us to a house, in which some of his father's slaves were living. It was a dark dreadful dilapidated hovel. The young gentleman most earnestly apologized, protesting, "The town is full of people, merchants, and strangers. We have nothing better left in the town. Perhaps you will come and live in our house out of the town." We looked out our baggage, which had been conveyed for us by Arabs of our caravan, and were astonished to find it scattered about outside the city gates, the caravan people having thrown it down there. However, nothing was lost, and this at once impressed me with the remarkable honesty of the Ghatee people. I[4] took up my quarters in a small room built on the terrace, without window or door, but very airy. A roof of mud and straw was now a luxurious and splendid mansion to me. At least a dozen slaves were occupied in carrying my baggage from outside the gates to my domicile, each carrying some trifle. No camels or beast of burden are allowed to enter the city gates, all goods and merchandize are carried by slaves in and out. Like the porters at the different traveller-stations in Europe, each of these slaves seized hold of the merest trifle of baggage, a stick or a bit of cord, in order to make an exorbitant demand of the value of a shilling. The Desert furnishes a parallel for every circumstance of civilized life.

The last night or two I had found it very cold, and the wind too high for tents. I may observe here, conveniently, the cold was so great in this portion of Sahara, that I never could undress myself for dread of the cold. After loosening my neckcloth and shoes, I lay down in the dress which I wore during the day. My bed was a simple mattress laid over a piece of matting, which latter was spread on the hard earth or sands of The Desert, as it might be, with a small sofa cushion for a pillow. After I had laid down the mattress, I then covered myself up with a large woollen barracan or blanket, very thick and heavy, and over this was also drawn a dark-blue European cloak. The cloth distinguished my bed from those of the merchants, and the nagah always knew the encampment by the sight of this Christian garment. When I wore it in the day she was immediately sensible of the presence of her master. I did not pitch a tent, for we could not, but formed a sort of[5] head-place of the two panniers of the camel, over which we arranged camel's gear, forming a small top. Under this I placed or poked my head, so that, at night, if turning over my face, I found a little shelter from the naked cold heavens. In this way I lay enveloped in a mass of clothing. I usually waked a couple of hours before daybreak with the intensity of the cold. Said slept closely by me on a lion's skin, and rolled himself up in the slight canvass of the tent. Like myself he never undressed himself at night. When he wished to confer a favour upon any of his negro countrymen, or the poor slaves, he would take them and roll them up with him in this canvass. He would have sometimes half a dozen at once with him, the confined air of their united breathings keeping them mutually warm. The poor Arab camel-drivers had nothing but their barracans which they wore in the day to cover themselves up at night, whilst the bare earth was their couch of down, and a heap of stones their luxurious pillow. All these Arabs were wandering wayfaring Jacobs of The Desert. El-Aïshi says, speaking of the bleak wind of The Desert, "The north wind blows in these places with an intensity equalling the cold of hell; language fails me to express this rigorous temperature." The Mohammedans believe that the extremes of heat and cold meet in hell. Some have thought there is an allusion to this in the words, "Weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth," (the teeth chattering from cold.) Milton has also enumerated cold as one of the torments of the lost. The tormented spirits passed—

"O'er many a frozen, many a fiery, Alp."


I had not been many minutes in my new apartment before the Governor himself came in. I had been addressing the young Ghatee as the Governor himself, like Goldsmith harangued a duke's footman for the duke himself. Haj Ahmed, his father, welcomed me with every demonstration of hospitality. He sat chatting with me until the arrival of the Sheikh Jabour, who also welcomed me in the most friendly manner. This was the Sheikh who had dispatched his slave to the well of Tadoghseen to meet me. Two or three other Touaricks of distinction came in with my friend Essnousee. They then questioned me upon the conduct of Ouweek, the news of which had now spread over all the town, and thanking Jabour for sending his slave, he replied, smiling, "Ouweek was joking with you." And then all joined in a laugh about Ouweek's affair. Jabour, ashamed of the business, took this method of easing my mind. The Governor now began to ask me about news and politics, and how Muley Abd Errahman was getting on with the French. The burning of the French steamer on the coast of Morocco after she grounded, had been transformed by The Desert reports into a victory over the French, in which the French had lost 70,000 men and several ships. The Governor had also heard the Maroquine war had recommenced. I excused my ignorance by saying, I had been a long time in Ghadames, and had heard nothing. Odd enough, the Governor asked me, "Which was the oldest dynasty in Europe?" I told him the Bourbons of France. The Sheikh Jabour here interposed that his family was more than three thousand years old! The pride of an hereditary noblesse is deeply[7] rooted in these Touarghee chiefs. The lore of ancestral distinction is co-extensive with the human race. I have given but the substance of our conversations. I give some of it in detail:—

Interrogation, by the Governor.

His Excellency.—"What did Ouweek to you?"

"He was saucy to me."

His Excellency.—"Have you seen lately Muley Abd Errahman (Emperor of Morocco)?"


His Excellency.—"He has conquered the French, destroyed their ships. They have lost 70,000 men. If you had told Muley Abd Errahman you had been coming here, he would have sent me a letter by you."

"I have no doubt of it."

His Excellency.—"How is your Sultan?"

"Very well, thank you?"

His Excellency.—"When did you last see Sidi Abd-el-Kader?"

"Not very lately."

His Excellency.—"He is a prophet." (To which I said, Amen.)

Interrogatory, by Sheikh Jabour.

The Sheikh.—"What did Ouweek to you?"

"He was very rude."

The Sheikh.—"Ouweek was playing with you, trying to frighten you because you are a stranger. He's a fool himself."

"Oh, it's no matter now."[8]

The Sheikh.—"How's your Sultan? Does he doubt we shall utterly destroy the Shânbah."

"Oh, not the least."

The Sheikh (in reply to the Governor).—"My fathers were princes before all the Christian kings, thousands of years ago."

"I dare say they were."

My visitors now took leave of me, Jabour shaking hands with me, and saying, Mā-tăhāfsh, "don't fear." Afterwards had a great many curious visitors of the lower classes, all raving mad to see the Roumee ("Christian"). And amongst the rest, the son of Ouweek! who is a young harmless fellow, and said his father would never hurt a great Christian like me. He begged hard for a piece of sugar, which I gave him. He asked me if his father was coming to Ghat. For supper I received a splendid dish of meat and sopped bread, but very highly seasoned with pepper and cloves. It is the Soudan pepper, a small quantity of which possesses the most violent, nay virulent strength.

16th.—After taking a walk in the morning, I returned the visit of the Governor. He received me very politely, and presented me with a lion's skin, brought from Soudan. His Excellency shewed me his certificate of character and rank, certified by a huge seal of the Emperor of Morocco. He pointed out with conscious pride the name of Marabout, with which sacred title the Emperor had dubbed him. Muley Abd Errahman is an immense favourite here amongst the Moorish townsmen. They call him their Sultan. The Turks they fear and detest. They expect them one day at Ghat. In the afternoon I sent the Governor, according to the advice of Musta[9]pha, two loaves of sugar (French), a pound of cloves, and a pound of sunbul[1]. Cloves—grunfel, ‮قرنفل‬—are greatly esteemed, especially by the women, who season their cakes, cuskasous, and made-dishes with them. The sunbul (leaves) is made into a decoction, or wash, and is used by fashionable ladies in Sahara as eau de Cologne in Europe.

Afterwards I paid a visit to Sheikh Jabour. The Sheikh has a house within the town, which very few of the Sheikhs have. Jabour received me friendly. I could not see the features of the Sheikh very well, on account of his litham. Jabour, however, is a perfect aristocrat in his way, with a very delicate hand. He is tall and well-made, and his simple and elegant manners denote at once "The Marabout Sheikh of the Touaricks," of the most ancient and renowned of Touarghee families. I took the Sheikh a present of a loaf of sugar, three pounds of cloves and sunbul, and a shasheeah, or fez. Jabour received them very graciously, and repeated his ma-tahafsh, "don't fear," several times, promising me, at the same time, to use his influence with his friends to get me safely escorted to Aheer and Soudan. The Sheikh's followers and other distinguished Touaricks repeat the same, but the Governor I find more cautious in his speech. On my return home, the Sheikh sent to know if the handkerchief, in which the present was wrapped, were also a present, and whether the bearer of the present had purloined it, for he had taken it away[10] with him. I immediately sent the Sheikh back the handkerchief, informing the Sheikh the bearer was not told to leave it. All Saharan people are immoderately fond of a handkerchief. I recommend travellers in Sahara to supply themselves with a good stock of very cheap coloured cotton handkerchiefs. My house is thronged all day long with visitors. I am obliged to exhibit myself to the people like the Fat Boy, or the American Giant. It is Richardson's Show at Ghat instead of Greenwich. The rest of the ghafalah, which we left behind, arrived to-day. My friend, El-Besher, to my regret, had turned suddenly back and gone to Touat, where his brother had arrived from Timbuctoo. It is reported that a quarrel had taken place about his brother amongst the Timbuctoo caravan, in which affair ten people had been killed. So all Saharan caravans do not travel in such harmony as we did. The Ghadamsee caravans are certainly the most pacific. But the Timbuctoo people have everywhere a bad character.

17th.—In the morning went to see the Consul of the Europeans, as the Moors call him. This is the Sheikh Hateetah, of whom very honourable mention is made by the Denham and Clapperton party. Hateetah himself assumes the distinction of "Friend," or Consul of the English. I found him stretched on a pallet upon the ground floor, extremely unwell with fever, and surrounded by his friends. He has just come from the country districts. He asked me, "Is the Consul well? Are his daughters well? Is the King of England well?" Hateetah had some years ago visited the Consul and his family at Tripoli, under British protection, for Touaricks dare not approach Tripoli. He has in his possession, after a[11] dozen years, a fine scarlet burnouse and coat, braided with gold lace, and also a gun, which were presented to him by Colonel Warrington, on the part of our Government, for his services to our Bornou expedition. The Sheikh told me he had besides a written certificate from the Consul, but it was in the country. I am the first person whom he has had an opportunity of serving since his return from Tripoli, where he formally engaged, on the part of the Touaricks, to give British subjects all necessary protection in the Ghat districts. For this reason he is styled, "The friend of the English." All strangers here are placed under the care of one Sheikh or another, to whom they make presents, but not to the rest. Hateetah resides in the suburbs.

During the past night was taken dreadfully ill, in the stomach, by eating the high-seasoned dishes of the Governor. After drinking olive-oil and vomiting, found myself much better. People say oil is the best remedy in such cases. The Governor was troubled at my illness, and sent to ask whether he should send me some senna tea. Wrote to-day to Mr. Alsager and Colonel Warrington. The letters were to have been dispatched direct to Tripoli, but the Touaricks would neither allow one of their own people nor an Arab courier to go, giving as the reason that Shafou, the Sultan, was not arrived. Touaricks have a horror of Turks, and cannot bear to have communication with them, and do everything in their power to prevent others from communicating with Tripoli. Not acquainted with Mediterranean politics, they imagine that, because the Turks have retaken possession of Ghadames and Fezzan, so long quasi-independent of Tripoli, they must necessarily invade the[12] Touarick territory, and seize upon their wee town of Ghat, but to them the metropolis of The Sahara. This evening Jabour hinted, in Hibernian style, to one of the slaves waiting upon me, that his present of sugar was rather small. I forthwith sent him two loaves more, which rejoiced him so much that he exclaimed, "Thank the Christian by G—d. Tell him he has nothing to fear in Ghat, and he shall go safe to Soudan." Felt better to-night. The Governor sent his last dish this evening. A stranger of distinction is supplied with food for three days. I have had my share of honour and hospitality, and am glad of it. I shall now be cautious what I eat. But I find everything is exceedingly dear, the number of strangers, foreign merchants, and slaves, is so unusually great as quickly to devour all the food brought here.

Yesterday I made the acquaintance of Haj Ibrahim, a Moorish merchant resident in Tripoli, but a native of Jerbah. When in Tripoli he acts as Consul for the Ghadamsee merchants; his brother is now in charge. Mustapha came with him direct from Tripoli, not passing through Mourzuk, but viâ the oases of Fezzan to the west. So an European agent established at Mourzuk, cannot well collect a statistical account of trade, on account of few Ghat caravans travelling the Mourzuk route. Haj Ibrahim promises to be useful to me, and has already sent a letter for me to Ghadames. This merchant has brought the largest amount of goods to the Souk, about forty camels. The whole of the Soudan ghafalah has not yet arrived from Aheer. It comes in by small detached parties. As there is nothing to fear on the road, people prefer travelling in small companies,[13] which facilitates their march, not being detained at the wells waiting for the running of the water.

I have cut in a certain way my old friends of the Ghadamsee ghafalah. This has done them good, for they now begin to return to me, and are polite. Before they were all so frightened at the Touaricks, that I knew if I did not cut them, they would cut me. Now, when seeing the Touaricks are friendly, they are also friendly;—such is the world of Sahara, as well as the world of Paris or London. When a man has few friends he gets less, when many he gets more. On the principle, I suppose, that money gets money, and friendship friendship. The Moors of the coast, of whom there are a few here, exhibit more courage, and a bolder front to the Touaricks. The worst of this place is, The Rabble. It is the veritable Caboul, or Canton Rabble. Here's my "great difficulty." They run after me, and even hoot me in the streets. Were it not for this rabble, I could walk about with the greatest freedom and safety, and alone.

18th.—Went to see Haj Ibrahim. Sent the letter to Mr. Alsager viâ Ghadames, the only letter I wrote from Ghat during the fifty days of my residence here. In my absence a loaf of sugar was stolen out of my apartment. Suspicion falls upon a Fezzanee, whom I have employed, and to whom I gave this very morning a quarter of a dollar. These small loaves of French beet-root sugar sell for two-thirds of a dollar in Ghat. Ouweek arrived to-day from his district, after stopping for the rest of the caravan to get what he could in the way of begging by force. This is the cunning of the old fox bandit. He knows he can beg more effectually from the merchant[14] and trader in the open desert, than at Ghat, where people may refuse, and do refuse to satisfy his importunities. I have done so with the rest. He now pretends he was only playing with me, and that he would have let me pass through his district though I had given him nothing. Can we believe him? Jabour says in turn:—"I will make Ouweek restore the goods which he has extorted by violence from the Christian." There is no doubt Shafou will reprimand the bandit when he arrives. But I do not ask or expect the restoration of such a few trifling things. In this country, as the Governor says, "full of Sheiks," where authority is so divided, and the Sultan's power is so feeble, we must expect this sort of freebooting extortion. Such were the good and fine old days of chivalry in France and England, so much regretted by certain morbid romancers, Sir Walter Scott to boot, when a baron made a foray upon a neighbouring baron's people, and shut himself up with the booty in his castle, defying equally his plundered neighbour and his sovereign. But if in the comparison there is any declination of the balance, it is in favour of the Touaricks, for these Sheikhs, governing their respective districts with a quasi-independent authority, are now living in profound peace and harmony with one another.

Had a visit from some score of Touarick women, of all complexions, tempers, and ages. After staring at me for some time with amazed curiosity and silence, they became restless. Not knowing what to do with them, I took out a loaf of white sugar, cut it into pieces, and then distributed it amongst them. The scene now suddenly changed, joy beamed in every eye, and every one let her tongue run most volubly. They asked me,[15] "Whether I was married—whether the Christian women were pretty—whether prettier than they—and whether, if not married, I should have any objection to marry one of them?" To all which questions I answered in due categorical form:—"I was not married—the Christian women were pretty, but they, the Touarick women, were prettier than Christian women—and, lastly, I should see whether I would marry one of them when I came from Soudan." These answers were perfectly satisfactory. But then came a puzzler. They asked me, "Which was the prettiest amongst them?" I looked at one, and then at another, with great seriousness, assuming very ungallant airs, (the women the meanwhile giggling and coquetting, and some throwing back their barracans, shawls I may call them, farther from their shoulders, baring their bosoms in true ball-room style,) and, at last, falling back, and shutting my eyes, placing my left hand to my forehead, as if in profound reflection, I exclaimed languidly, and with a forced sigh, "Ah, I can't tell, you are all so pretty!" This created an explosion of mirth, some of the more knowing ones intimating by their looks, "It's lucky for you that you have got out of the scrape." But an old lady, close by me, was very angry with me;—"You fool, Christian, take one of the young ones; here's my daughter." It is necessary to explain, that the woman of the Touaricks is not the woman of the Moors and Mussulmans generally. She has here great liberty, walks about unveiled, and takes an active part in all affairs and transactions of life. Dr. Oudney justly remarks, "The liveliness of the women, their freeness with the men, and the marked attention the latter paid them, formed a striking contrast with other Moham[16]medan States." Batouta mentions a Berber tribe of Western Sahara, as having similar manners. He says:—"This people has very singular manners. So the men are not at all jealous of their women. The women are not at all embarrassed in the presence of the men; and though they, the women, are very assiduous at their prayers, they appear always uncovered." He adds, that certain women, of free manners, are shared amongst the people without exciting the feelings of jealousy amongst the men. It is the same with the Touaricks, but it is the absence of this Mussulman, or oriental jealousy, of husbands of their wives, which distinguishes the Touaricks from other Mahometans of North Africa, and connects the social condition of the Touaricks more with European society. On departing, I gave the Touarick ladies some pins, and they, not knowing how to use them, (for pins are never imported into The Desert, though needles in thousands,) I taught them a good practical lesson by pinning two of them together by their petticoats, which liberty, on my part, I need not tell the reader, increased the mirth of this merry meeting of Touarghee ladies prodigiously. I certainly felt glad that we could travel in a country and laugh and chat with, and look at the women without exciting the intolerable jealousy of the men. I think there is not a more dastardly being than a jealous husband. Amongst the Moors a traveller does not know whether he can venture to speak to a man's wife or not, or whether he can make her the most trifling present in return for the supper which she may cook.

Afterwards had a very different visit of four Arabs, who came with the evident intention of getting something out of me by main force. I resisted to the last, and to[17] their astonishment. I told them, all my presents were now for the Touaricks, and if they did not leave the house I would get them bastinadoed on their return to The Mountains. The worst class of people which I have met with, since I left Tripoli, are some of these Arabs, who are the most dogged brazen-faced beggars and spongers, banditti in the open day. Yesterday arrived the powerful Aheer camel-driver and conducteur Kandarka Bou Ahmed, the Kylouwee, whose arrival produced a sensation. Some call him a Sheikh. He usually conducts the Ghadamsee merchants between this and Aheer, and as far as Kanou. It is an established custom or law, in The Desert, that the people of each district or country shall enjoy the privilege of conducting the caravans. The Touaricks of Ghat conduct the merchants from Ghadames to Ghat, and the Touaricks of Aheer the merchants from Ghat to Aheer, and so of the rest of the route, as far as Kanou, the final destination of the Soudan caravan.

My Ghadamsee friend Bel Kasem came up to me today, and whispered in my ear the question, "If slaves would be allowed to be sold now in the market of Tripoli?" I answered frankly in the affirmative, but added, "I did not think it would last much longer." All the merchants now look upon me as an anti-slavery agent. The affair of Silva and Levi, if it prejudice the people against me on one side, gives me some consequence on the other, on account of the steps which the British Consul took against those merchants, or caused them to take. I went to see Bel Kasem in the evening, who is but a mere trader. He gave me this account of his slave-dealing:—"I have purchased five slaves at forty[18] mahboubs each. At Tripoli I shall sell them at sixty. The Pasha takes ten duty, and I have only ten for profit and the expenses, of conveying the slaves from Ghat to Tripoli, feeding them as well here as there. What, where is my profit?" I echoed, "Where?" This is a fair specimen of the market. He complains of the dearness of the slaves, although an unusual number, more than a thousand, have been brought to the Souk or Mart. Haj Ibrahim and some other large purchasers have greatly and unexpectedly increased the demand. He says Haj Ibrahim purchases large quantities of goods on credit, or for bills of six and nine months from European merchants in Tripoli. These he exchanges against slaves in Ghat, and then returns and sells his slaves, and pays the bills as they come due. In this way, it will be seen, the Desert slave-traffic is carried on upon the shoulders of European merchants. Haj Ibrahim considers his profits at twenty per cent. The people say he gets more. My friend, the Arab of Derge, called late, to borrow five dollars of me. He said, "I have purchased a slave for twenty-five dollars; at present I have only twenty. You and I, Yâkob, have been always friends. Lend me five dollars and I will pay you in a few days. The slave is a little old but cheap, he is to work in the gardens at Ghadames." I then explained to him the law of England on slavery, which greatly surprised him. The next day this Derge Arab brought in another fellow to ask me to lend him money to buy a slave, just to see whether I should make the same reply to him also.

19th.—Rose early, and better in health. I begin to feel at home in Ghat, amidst the redoubtable Touaricks.[19] I find them neither monsters nor men-eaters[2]. Nevertheless, all the swaggering Arabs and Arab camel-drivers are here very quiet and civil amongst their masters, the Touaricks. I frequently bully them now about their past boasting and present cowardice. Two of the Arabs who had attempted to extort a present from me I met at Haj Ibrahim's house. I lectured them roundly, telling them I would report them to the Pasha, for they were greater banditti than the Touaricks. This had a salutary effect. I was not troubled afterwards with these brazen-faced begging Arabs.

This morning paid another visit to Haj Ahmed, the Governor. Found him very friendly. He talked politics. I explained to him the circumstances of the war between France and Morocco, suppressing the most disagreeable parts for a Mahometan. In the course of conversation I was surprised to hear from Haj Ahmed, "Now, since these twelve years, Tripoli belongs to the English." I used vainly all my eloquence in Arabic to convince him of this error, which has been propagated since the removal of Asker Ali from the Pashalic of Tripoli at the instance of the British Consul. I then spoke to his Excellency of the necessity of sending some trifling presents to the Queen of England, as a sign of friendship, begging him to speak to Shafou. He replied, "The[20] Touaricks have nothing but camels." The Governor has a tremendous family. First of all, he has seven wives and concubines, then nine sons and six daughters. One of his female slaves repeated to me all their names, a complete muster-roll. When I visited the Governor again, I congratulated him upon having so large a family. He observed smiling, with great self-complacency, "Why, Yâkob, do you call this a large family? What is a large family with you?" I told him eight and even six children was a large family. At this he affected great surprise, for he had heard that generally European females have three or four children at a birth. Haj Ahmed is a man of about fifty, rather good-looking, stout and hard-working, but inclining to corpulency, very unusual in The Desert. He is not very dark, and is of Arab extraction, and boasts that his family came from Mecca or Medina. He pretends that his ancestors were amongst the warriors who besieged Constantinople, previous to its capture by the Turks. He is a native of Touat, but has been settled here twenty years, where he has built himself a palace and planted large gardens. He is a shrewd and politic man, and has, in a certain degree, those jealous feelings of Christians which are peculiar to the Moor. He dresses partly in the Moorish and partly in the Touarick style, indeed, like all the Moors of Ghat, who are called Ghateen. He is, perhaps, not very learned, but is assisted by his nephew, a young Shereef of great learning and amiable manners. I asked some of the Ghatee people, who was their Sultan? They replied, "Haj Ahmed; Shafou is not our Sultan." The Touaricks, however, have absolute control over all affairs, and Haj Ahmed stands in the same relation to Shafou, being[21] governor of the town, as the Sheikh El-Mokhtar, who is governor of Timbuctoo, under the Sultan of Jinnee. But, Haj Ahmed, himself, disclaims all temporal authority, he repeatedly says in our conversation, "I am not Sheikh, or Kaëd, I'm only Marabout. All the people here are equal. When you write to the Consul, tell him I'm only Marabout." The fact is, there are so many Sheikhs here that it is no honour to be a Sheikh. The honour is too cheap to be valued, and is as much repudiated as a French Cross of the Legion of Honour. Haj Ahmed repudiates being a Sheikh most stoutly. Notwithstanding this repudiation, the Marabout is obliged to decide upon the affairs of the city, even when Shafou is in town. The Marabout pretends he does not receive presents like the Sheikhs, but he always received what I offered him, and which was more than what I gave to some of the Sheikhs. His palace stands west, two-thirds of a mile from the city walls. Here he reigns supreme, priest and king, as Melchisedech of patriarchal times, surrounded with his numerous family of wives and concubines, and about fifty male and female slaves. Some of the slaves live in huts near his palace, or in the gardens. The Marabout is the largest landed proprietor of Ghat, but he also trades a good deal, and is now sending some of his children to Soudan to trade in slaves.

Yesterday evening Mohammed Kāfah sent me a bowl of sopped bread, fat, and gravy, garnished with two or three little pieces of meat. This is the first act and specimen of hospitality on the part of the townsmen. Kafah is a considerable merchant, and one of the three or four grandees of the place. Bel Kasem called out to me to-day, for he lives next door, "Yâkob! Yâkob![22] Aye! for God's sake, one of my slaves is ill, bring me some medicine to purge him, quick, quick, he'll die." I had nothing to give the poor creature but a worm-powder, ordering half the quantity, all my medicines being distributed, except those for the eyes. Undoubtedly many of the slaves must die before they arrive in Tripoli. They are mostly fed on dates, the profit of the commerce is so small as not to allow wholesome food being given them. The slaves are brought from countries teeming with plenty of meat, grain, and vegetables, whilst they are fed with herbage and dates en route from Aheer to Ghat. What wonder then they die?

Every body, as was the case at Ghadames, high and low, rich and poor, young and old, wishes to convert me into a good Mussulman, being mortified that so quiet a Christian should be an infidel. An old Sheikh paid me a visit to-day, and began, "Now, Christian, that you have come into this country, I hope you will find everything better than in your own country, and become a Mussulman, one loved of God. Come to my house, leave your infidel father and mother. I have two daughters. I will give you both for wives, and seven camels besides. This will make you a Sheikh amongst us. You can also be a Marabout, and spend your life in prayer." I excused myself, by saying, "I had engagements in my country. My Sultan would brand me with disgrace, and I should be fetched out of this country by the Turks, who were always the friends of the English." The Sheikh sighed, raised up his aged body, and departed, mumbling something, a blessing or a curse, upon my head. A younger son of Haj Ahmed came in and addressed me, "Why not say, 'There is one God', and[23] 'Mahomet is the prophet of God?'" I told him a Christian was prohibited from making such a confession. On paying a visit to Mohammed Kafah, who sent me the supper, I found his house full of slaves and Soudan goods, and he himself very busy in the midst of them. He received me very friendly, and, after a little, said, "It would be better for you if you turned Mussulman. Do you not wish to go to Paradise? A slave of ours is better than you, and your estate." To turn the conversation, I observed (which I knew would excite his mercantile lust, despite his orthodox zeal), "I hear you are vastly rich, the richest merchant in Ghat." "Ah!" he replied, distending into consequence, "but the Christians have all the money." I rejoined, "If there were a better Government in Tripoli, the Mussulmans would have more money." Asking about the arrival of Shafou, he observed, "Haj Ahmed is our Sultan. I'm not a Touarick. God help if I were a Touarick." He then took me by the hands, and led me to the women's apartments to show me to his wife and daughters. The good wife, after handling my hands, which were a little whiter and cleaner than what are generally seen in The Desert, for to have hands with a layer of dirt upon them of several months' collecting, is an ordinary circumstance,—exclaimed, "Dear-a-me, dear-a-me, how wonderful, and this Christian doesn't know God!" Her husband shook his head negatively. The court-yard of his house was soon filled and crammed with people, who rushed in from the streets, and the friendly Ghatee was obliged to send me home quick, lest I should be smothered by a mob of people. The affair of Silva and Levi had reached him, and the report will soon get to Soudan and Timbuctoo,[24] for the merchants carry everything with them which interests their commerce, making additions as they go along. Here, as at Mogador, it was reported that I was commissioned by the Sultan of England to buy up and liberate all the slaves. On returning home, I had another posse of visitors, and some of Haj Ahmed's sons, who came with the fixed determination to convert me. One said, on my admiring his Soudan coloured frock, "If you will become a Mussulman, I will give you one." I now felt myself obliged to rebut some of this impertinence, and answered, "If you would give me all the frocks of Soudan I would not change my religion." I then addressed them sharply against wishing to alter the decrees of God, turning the dogmas of their religion upon themselves, and quoted the Koran,—

"Thou wilt not find out any means of enlightening him whom God delivers over to error."

Immediately, this unexpected style of argument struck them dumb. After recovering their senses they became restless to leave me, and began to beg a few things. I gave them some sugar and cake, and we parted apparent friends. On going out, they could not forbear asking Said if he was a Mussulman. Like many other Moslemites of Sahara, they said, "The Turks are not good Mussulmans." I replied, "Mustapha, the Bey of Ghadames, is a better Mussulman than any of the Ghadamsee people."

The reader may disapprove of my conduct in these my frequent evasions of the question of religion; but when they reflect that it required, during my residence in Ghat and other parts of Sahara, the whole strength of my mind, and the utmost tact, to maintain a simple[25] and consistent confession of myself as a Christian, and that to have said a word, or even to have breathed a syllable of disrespect for Mahomet and his religion, would have exposed me to be torn to pieces by the rabble, and perhaps murdered in my bed, they will probably feel less disposed to censure my conduct. If there be any doubt of this critical situation of an European who travels openly and avows himself a Christian in The Sahara, all I can do is to beg of the doubter to make the experiment himself. The reader will also be pleased to recollect, that the Denham and Clapperton party, though they travelled the safest routes of Sahara, were protected by the Bashaw of Tripoli, and their safety was guaranteed solemnly to our Government, as being the immediate agents and representatives of the British nation; and, finally, they had a large escort of Arab cavalry from Fezzan to Bornou. Yet these tourists, surrounded with such protection, were actually circumcised at Tripoli by Dr. Dickson[3], and were accustomed to attend the mosques and perform prayer as Mussulmans. Colonel Warrington certainly told me the people saw through all the mummery, and laughed, or were angry. As to the Frenchman, Caillié, his eternal tale of fabrication, repeated every day, and every hour of the day, to every Sheikh, and every merchant, camel-driver, and slave of The Desert, produces a very painful impression on the mind of the reader. Caillié's falsehood, as lie begets lie, begat many others. He was obliged to tell the people, that Mahometans were not tolerated in Christian countries. He told the Africans,[26] also, that slavery was abolished in Europe, at the time even when England had her thousands of West Indian slaves. In this way, whatever service Caillié has rendered to geography, he has damaged the moral interests of the world. The African Mussulmans might say to future tourists, "If Christians tolerate not us, why should we Mussulmans tolerate you," and assassinate the luckless European tourist. Whatever, then, were my evasions on the question of religion (and I sincerely confess I do not approve of them), I never stooped to such folly, and so far disgraced my character as an Englishman and a Christian, as to adopt the creed and character of a Mahometan. I moreover, on reflecting upon the tremendous question, which I often revolved in my painful journeying over The Desert—determined at all events, at all costs, come what might, I would never profess myself a Mussulman, if it were even to save my head. I thought the least I could do was to imitate the noble example, which The Desert reports of Major Laing—Sooner than forswear my religion, be it good or bad, it was better to die! "Mental reservation" may be good for the Jesuits and papists[4], who misquote the conduct of Jacob to Esau, but it is neither fit for a Christian, or a patriot, or, at any rate, for an honest man, who was, is, and ever will be,

"The noblest work of God."

Spent the evening with Haj Ibrahim. A Ghadamsee came in who attempted to frighten me from going to[27] Soudan. Haj Ibrahim has the same prejudices as the rest of the people of Tripoli respecting the supposed wealth of the Ghadamsee people. "They have plenty of money but conceal it. Sheikh Makouran has abundance of gold, but he cunningly professes himself a poor man." I have lately read in a work published by the French Government, that once upon a time, a son of old Yousef Bashaw sacked Ghadames and carried off "several camel-loads of gold."

The Touarick mode of saluting is very simple and elegant, but cold, colder than that of the English. A Touarghee elevates deliberately the right hand to a level with his face, turning the outspread palm to the individual, and slowly but with a fine intonation says, "Sălām Aleikoum." This is all. When using his own language, a few words are added. How strikingly contrasted are the habits of different people. Amongst the Moors and Arabs this mode of saluting is their way of cursing. With the outspread hand menacingly raised, a man or woman puts their enemy under the ban and curse of God. A vulgar interpretation is, that it means "five in your eye;" but this custom of cursing is so remote as not now to be explained. The door-posts and rooms of houses are imprinted with the outspread hand to prevent or withstand "the eye-malign" from glancing on them and the inhabitants its fatal influence.

20th.—Rose early, felt better in health to-day. Am, however, annoyed, but from what cause I cannot tell. Entertain many misgivings about the climate of Soudan, and having no medicine dispirits me. It is now too late to retreat. "Onward" is the only destiny which guides men, to good or evil. Had a visit from the eldest son[28] of the Governor. Gave him two cups of tea, a little sugar, and two biscuits, which made him my friend for ever; a cheap purchase of eternal friendship. Shafou, he says, will not come before the whole of the Soudan ghafalahs arrive, of which there are still some portions lagging behind. A Soudan caravan, as all Desert caravans, is an omnibus; it collects parties of merchants all along the line of route, and distributes them in the same way, but having a starting-post and a goal. Haj Ahmed's son wished to introduce the question of religion. "The world is nothing and Paradise is every thing." "Amen," I replied. "What do you think of Mahomet?" "The Mahometans have Mahomet, the Jews Moses, and the Christians Jesus, each for their prophet," I said, after which not very satisfactory answer to him, the conversation dropped. He now inquired if I had written to Tripoli to bring plenty of sugar and tea, with a latent desire for a portion of the spoil. I told him "No," very emphatically.

Called at my neighbour's, Bel Kasem, and found him doctoring a poor negress girl. She could neither eat nor drink, she vomited and purged, her bones were nearly through her skin, her stomach empty and dried up as a sun-dried water-skin. Bel Kasem was rubbing her all over with oil. He asked me for medicine. I said, "Give her something good to eat." He replied, "I have nothing." "What do you eat yourself?" I asked. "Bread and bazeen," he replied. "Give her that," I rejoined. He hesitated to reply, did not reply; I saw he considered such food too good for a slave, even to save its life. Such is but one dark sad picture of a thousand now being exhibited here! One would think[29] God had made one part of the human race to torment the other.

Spent the evening with Haj Ibrahim. A merchant in his house related that Noufee was now convulsed with a civil war. This country is now in the hands of the Fullans. He had often visited that country, and had seen English people there. A large caravan has this winter left Mourzuk for Kanou viâ Aheer. Haj Ibrahim pretends that the Touaricks of Aheer are better than those of Ghat, but the former are people of the country (or peasants), not towns. The Haj has not begun to dispose of his goods, but he will exchange them against slaves. He, however, as a subject of Tunis, is virtually prohibited by the Bey's ordinances.

My most friendly visitors are the merchants and traders from Soudan, Kanou, and Sukatou. I cannot help looking upon these people with profound pity. They bring their sable brethren, of the same flesh and blood, and barter them away for trumpery beads, coarse paper, and cloth, &c. They little think, that for such trifles, what miseries they inflict upon their helpless brethren! A Kanou merchant, in a friendly manner, recommended me not to go to Soudan, adding, "The Touaricks of Aheer would butcher me because I was a Christian." A similar recommendation is being given me by the Arabs, Ghadames people, and others. Still there is a great variety of opinions, pros and cons, on this subject.

21st.—Rose early, improved in health. A small bird, not much bigger than a wren, flits about the houses as our sparrows. This is probably the Jereed sparrow of Shaw, Bou Habeeba, or Capsa-sparrow, but I saw it at no other oasis except Ghat. It is of a lark colour, with[30] a light reddish breast, flitting about continually, twittering a short and abrupt note, but very sweet and gentle. Yesterday Haj Ahmed sent me a few dates and a little milk. To-day the Governor paid me a formal visit. He was polite and friendly. However, he observed, "If you, Yâkob, had brought a few presents for the Touarghee chiefs they would all have known[5] you, but you have come without any thing, with empty hands." I replied that I did not expect to come to Ghat when I left Tripoli. Nevertheless, if the Touarick chiefs were friendly, and would protect Englishmen in The Desert, both the people and Government of England would, I was quite sure, acknowledge the protection with suitable presents. He was satisfied with the explanation. Some of our caravan had told him I had come with nothing, and had overrated my poverty as some tourists have their riches overrated. But this report of abject poverty was a great advantage to me. He was greatly surprised when I told him the Sultan of the English was a woman. I explained, as I had done at Ghadames, when the kings of our country had no sons, but had daughters, the daughters became sovereigns. My vanity was somewhat piqued at the Governor's direct allusion to presents, and I determined, that he himself, at any rate, should have as large a present from me as he got from any of the foreign merchants. He then asked me if I was an English Marabout. I replied, "Yes;" for a Marabout, as in the Governor's own case, means sometimes a person who can tolerably read and write. In this sense I may claim the sacred title. I also dub myself occasionally[31] tabeeb (doctor), but mostly taleb, a mere literary man or pretender to literature. I believe that coming without arms, and as poor as possible, has had a good effect upon the Touaricks. They see, if they were so disposed, they cannot maltreat a man in my circumstances with a very good grace. I have still left, very fortunately, a supply of eye-water, and am making presents of it daily. This solution keeps my medical diploma clean and fair in Ghat.

Had another visit from the family of the Governor. All aspire to religious discussion. Addressing me, "Which way do you pray, east or west?" said another of his sons. "I pray in all directions, for God is everywhere." "You ought to pray in the east." "No, for The Koran says, 'The east and the west belong to God, wherever you turn you find the face of God[6].'" He continued, "You are idolaters, why do you pray to images?" "The English people do not pray to images," I rejoined. As he doubted my word, I was obliged to enter into explanations of the customs of Romanists and Protestants. It is amusing or lamentable to think, as we may sneer at or regret the matter, that these rude children of The Desert should have ground for charging upon the high-bred and transcendantally-polished nations of Europe, idolatry. But, if any one, determined to be an impartial judge, were to visit the Madelaine of Paris, and then pass rapidly over to Algeria, (a journey of a few days), and there enter the simple mosque, and compare its prostrate worshippers, in the plain unadorned temple of Islamism, with the bowing and crossing, going[32] on before the pretty saints and images of the Catholic temple of the Parisians, he could not fail to be struck with the immeasurable space which separates the two cultes, whilst the contrast, so far as the eternal records of nature, impressed upon and read in the page of creation, are involved, would be all in favour of the Moslemite deist, and pity and folly would be mingled with his ideas when appreciating the papistical quasi-idolator.

A young Touarghee came in with the party, whose eyes were very bad. After a good deal of persuasion, for he was at first quite frightened at me, he consented to allow me to apply the caustic. He is a follower of Sheikh Jabour, and employed near the person of the Sheikh. To show how smoothly things go after the first difficulty is vanquished, I may mention, that he visited me ever after whilst I remained in Ghat, sometimes coming every day, and always begging his eyes might be washed with the solution. I had another visit from the Soudan traders. They say people just like me come up to Noufee to where they are now returning. They speak Arabic very imperfectly, and are obliged to converse with signs. They describe thousands of slaves being carried away by men with white cheeks and hands like myself, putting their hands round their wrists and their necks to show how the slaves were ironed. These slaves are carried down the Niger to the salt water (Atlantic). I asked them how the slaves were obtained. One of them sprung up in an instant, seizing an Arab's gun. He then performed a squatting posture, skulking down, and creeping upon the floor of my room, and waiting or watching[33] in silence. He then made a sudden spring, as a tiger on its prey, with a wild shout. These wily antics evidently denoted a private kidnapping expedition. Many slaves are, however, captives of war, for the negro princes are as fond of war as the military nations of France and Prussia, and can play at soldiers as well as the King of Naples. Evening, as usual, paid a visit to Haj Ibrahim. Nothing new, except an economical bill of expenses, from Ghat to Soudan, chalked out for me by a Ghadamsee, in prospect of my journey, viz:—

Presents, en route, to various chiefs13dollars.
Wheat and bread5"
Olive-oil and semen (liquid butter)1"
Extras and unforseen expenses3"

This, I imagine, is about what it would cost him himself, though he pretended to allow a little more for me. These 22 dollars are to carry a person two months over Sahara and one over Negroland to Kanou. It will be seen there is nothing down for meat, or sugar, and tea and coffee, in which luxuries Saharan merchants rarely indulge.


[1] Sunbul—‮سنبل‬—(literally "stalks"). According to French Oriental botanists, it is "Nard, spina celtica." An immense quantity of this fashionable plant is brought into The Desert. No present is made to a man of family without sunbul.

[2] Nor are they Anthropoklephts, as a late Yankee Consul, in his "Notes on North Africa," &c., calls them. Before Mr. Hodgson stigmatizes the Touaricks as men-stealers, he should see that his own States are pure. The reader will agree with me, after hearing further of the Touaricks, that these free sons of The Sahara have every right to say to Mr. Hodgson, and all American Consuls—"Physician, heal thyself: do not charge us with men-stealing when you buy and sell and rob human beings of their liberty."

[3] I speak on the authority of Mr. Gagliuffi, our Vice-Consul at Mourzuk.

[4] And even those who take an oath of et ceteras at the National Universities! And others who subscribe to creeds which they do not read, or if read them, do not comprehend them.

[5] That is, being on friendly terms with you.

[6] See Surat ii., intitled "The Cow."




Gloves an enigma of Wonder.—Visit Sheikh Hateetah.—All Men equal at Ghat.—Crowds of People surrounding my House to see me.—Violent Act committed on a Man at Prayer in the Mosque.—Extent of European Literature known at Ghat.—Continue unwell.—Ouweek's public Apology.—Dances of the Slaves.—A Saharan Emeute.—Arrival of Caravans.—Return the Visit of the Governor.—Europe, a cluster of innumerable Islets.—Who has most Money, Christians or Mahometans?—People more used to my presence in Ghat.—The Prophet of the Touaricks.—Visit from Aheer Touaricks.—The Governor's petty dealing.—The Shereef of Moorzuk.—Visit from Jabour.—Beginning Soudanic Cottons.—Visits from Kandarka and Zoleâ.—Route from Ghat to Alexandria, and its distance.—The Shereef of Medina.—Character and influence of Khanouhen, heir-apparent of the Touarghee Throne of the Azgher Touaricks, and his arrival in Ghat.


22nd.Have considerable pain in my stomach with change of diet. Did not go out yesterday and the day before in the day-time, on account of the rabble who follow so close at my heels, that my guides and protectors can't keep them off. Sent a shumlah ("sash") to Haj Ahmed, the Governor, this morning. He expressed himself highly gratified. This makes the Governor's present about five dollars more than he gets from any of the merchants. The richest and most powerful merchants don't give more, and some of them not half this amount. I have already given away 20 dollars out of my extremely modest resources.

Nothing surprises the natives of Ghat and the[35] Touaricks so much as my gloves. I am obliged to put them off and on a hundred times a day to please people. They then try them on, look at them inside and outside, in every shape and way, expressing their utter astonishment by the most sacred names of Deity. Some, also, have not seen stockings before, and examine them with much wonderment. But the gloves carry the palm in exciting the emotion of the terrible. One said, after he had put the glove on his hand, "Ah! ah! Whey! whoo! that's the hand of the Devil himself!"

The Souk or mart has now fairly begun. Merchants are desperately busy buying and selling, chiefly exchanging goods against slaves. All complain of the dearness of slaves.

Afternoon visited Sheikh Hateetah, "Friend" or "Consul" of the English. Found him still unwell; he complains of pain in his bowels. This is the case with most people in Ghat, myself amongst the rest. It cannot be the water, for it is the purest and sweetest of The Desert. Prescribed a little medicine for the Sheikh, who promises to introduce me to Sultan Shafou when he arrives. Returned by another route, and in this manner made the tour of the town. Half an hour is fully enough to walk round the mere walls of the city, but then there are considerable suburbs, consisting of huts and stone and mud houses. At the Sheikh's I met a merchant just returned from Kanou; I put some questions to him, who, thinking I wished to have every one answered in the affirmative, gave me his terrible "yahs" and "aywahs" to all and everything demanded.

"Are there many people ill in Kanou?"[36]

"Yes, many."

"Is the route to Kanou unsafe?"


"Are there banditti in route?"


"Is it hot in Kanou?"

"Very hot, very hot."

"Is there fever in Kanou?"

"Yes, always."

This I thought was good news. I fear we often get incorrect intelligence from these people, through their anxiety to answer all our questions in the affirmative, they not understanding that we put the questions to them simply to gain information.

All men are indeed equal here, as saith the Governor. There seems to be no ruling authority, and every one does what is right in his own eyes. Yesterday, although the Governor knew that some of his slaves or other people had stolen my sugar, he never condescended to mention the circumstance, by speaking to his eldest son about the theft; he said absurdly enough, "Oh, if we knew the thief, we would put him to death." On protesting against such punishment for the offence, he rejoined, "Oh, but we would cut off his hand." This is all stuff, and a proof of the weakness of the Governor's authority. Happily, however, there's no crime worth naming in the oasis.

Am obliged to keep the door shut to prevent people from rushing into the house by twenties and fifties at once. The Governor has sent strict orders to his slaves to keep the door shut, first, to prevent me from being pestered to death all day long, and, secondly, because[37] some of the people have got the habit here, as in Europe, of picking up little things. A young slave is crying out, "Bago! bago!" every five minutes, in answer to knocking at the door to see The Christian, which we interpret in European phrase more politely, "Not at home," but which signifieth in the original Housa, "No, no." However, a troop of the lower class of Touaricks managed to squeeze in as some of our people went out, but I got rid of them without angry words.

A Ghadamsee resident here, came in to-day, with a severe gash on his hands, and one of his fingers, to ask my advice and beg medicine. The gash was inflicted upon him whilst at prayer, by a vagabond Touarghee. The assailant alleged as the reason of his violent act, that the Ghadamsee had called him a thief amongst the people, adding, that he (the Touarghee) had stolen two skin-bags out of a house. For such violence, such a daring act perpetrated on a man whilst in the solemn performance of prayer, our Marabout Governor was obliged to give satisfaction to the injured party. His Excellency stripped the house of the Touraghee of all his little property, turned him out into the street, and ordered him immediately to leave Ghat. To the honour, and humanity, and morality of the inhabitants of this part of The Sahara, such acts of violence are extremely rare. The Ghadamsee had poulticed his hand with wet clay and camel's dung. I recommended a bread poultice, but he kept to his day and camel's dung. The Saharans mostly prefer their own remedies, though they may condescend to ask you your advice. Bought some olive oil from the Arabs of Gharian. Before pouring it out they wished me to put sugar in the measure. I suspected[38] some trick, and refused. As soon as the measure was out of my servant's hand, they seized it, some licking it, others rubbing their hands in it, and then oiling their bread. They wanted to have a lick at the sugar, which would have settled down at the bottom; and were very angry with me because I did not take their advice of improving the oil with my sugar. These Arabs are really more greedy and rapacious than the Touaricks. The difference is, the Arabs are near Tripoli, see Europeans, and learn to be more polite to us than the Touaricks can well be.

A son of the Governor recited to me the following famous distich, begging me to tell him what it meant:—

"Tummora, tummora, tera, Buon giorno, buona sera."

On inquiring how he learned it, he told me a Moor of Tripoli taught it him. This seems to be the extent of European literature acquired by the Ghateen.

23rd.—Continue to have pains in my stomach, and feel very weak. Am undecided whether I shall go or not to Soudan. However, Haj Ibrahim has kindly offered to let me have twenty-five dollars' worth of goods on credit, which, in the case of my going, will relieve me from every embarrassment as to money for the present, until I can get a remittance from Tripoli, for these twenty-five dollars will furnish the presents and expenses of the route, and allow me to retain some twenty or thirty dollars in my pocket. The reader will and must smile at this mighty statement of my financial affairs, worthy of a Desert Budget!

Essnousee called. Ouweek is a personal friend of his; Essnousee says:—"Ouweek has told us, he feared from[39] you (myself), for the English had never before been in his district. For the rest, he was only playing with you. He wished to see whether an Englishman was a man of courage. This you proved to be, for you sat down and ate dates and biscuit whilst he was threatening to kill you. It also proved that you knew that he (Ouweek) was playing with you, for how could you eat dates if you thought he was going to kill you." This is Ouweek's defence about town. I heard also a curious version about the slave who ran to the horse. Zaleâ says, the slave ran there to get Ouweek farther from me, giving me an opportunity, if I chose, of escaping to Ghat. This affair still occupies public attention, but Ouweek keeps his present, and evidently will not restore it despite the threats of Jabour. Essnousee tells me not to be afraid of Ouweek, for he has influence with the Sheikh.

A Souk of little things has just been opened, and provisions, with all sorts of small articles, the manufacture of Soudan and Aheer, are exposed for sale in the public square. Formerly, these matters were purchased at private houses. This is a step in the march of Saharan commerce.

Yesterday evening, the poor slaves danced and sung till midnight in the public squares. Ever-pitying Providence, so permits an hour of gaiety to suffering humanity, under circumstances the most adverse to happiness! The slaves of the caravan are, a few of them, permitted to join those of the town, and the exiled slaves sometimes obtain intelligence in this way of their country. Generally the slaves imported are from such a variety of districts in Negroland, and so widely apart, that the slaves of The Sahara can hear little of their native homes. I[40] asked Bel Kasem, if the slaves of the Ghafalah were prisoners of war. "No," he replied, "there is no war now in Soudan; these are captured with matchlocks at night by robbers (sbandout); the negro is frightened out of his wits at the sound of fire-arms."

Afternoon there was a tremendous hubbub in the public square or market-place, the Negresses flying in all directions from the scene of tumult. One of Haj Ahmed's negresses comes running to me: "Shut the door, shut the door, the world is upset, the world is upset! Haj Ahmed, my master, is no Sheikh, no Sultan. He can't keep the people quiet. I'm going, I'm going." "Where are you going?" "I'm going to another and quieter country, to Haj Ahmed, my master, to tell him the news." This is a very lively negress, her tongue never stops; she retails all the news of the country to me, and is a great politician in her way. Some of these Ghat negresses are actually witty, and crack jokes with the grave Touaricks. The Touaricks are too gallant to be offended with the freedom of even female slaves. I felt somewhat alarmed, thinking the discomfitted party might come and avenge their defeat upon the unlucky Christian stranger. We barricaded the door, and kept quiet, anxiously waiting the result, as people do in Paris, when an emeute is being enacted for the especial benefit of the Parisians. Afterwards I learnt the particulars of this strange tumult. There is an old half-cracked Sheikh, who goes every day into the public square, and strikes his spear into the ground, and retiring at a distance, exclaims aloud to all present, "Whoever dares to touch that spear I'll kill him!" To-day a young Touarick passed by, and seeing the spear sticking up[41] very formidably, as if challenging all-passers by, went near it, and said, "What's this?" and took hold of it. The crazy Sheikh was watching at some distance, and now was his opportunity to show the people his determined will and resolution. He rushes at the lad with his dagger in hand. In an instant the whole place is in wild tumult, cries and shouts rend the air, with a forest of spears brandishing over the heads of Touaricks, Arabs, Moors, slaves, men, women, and children, mingling together, and running over one another in a frightful melée. The boy is rescued, the people resume their lounging seats, the storm drops to a dead calm, and nobody is hurt, not even scratched. Such is a row amongst these untutored children of The Desert. How different to the Thuggee rows now being enacted in Ireland!

Afterwards paid a visit to Bel Kasem. He complained bitterly of slaves being dear. A slave is sold at from 40 to 100 dollars. The mediate price is 60 to 70. Two months ago good slaves were sold at 30 and 40 dollars each. The reason given is the great quantity of merchandize arrived direct from Tripoli, besides from the lateral routes of Ghadames and Mourzuk. The English Vice-Consul of the latter city has sent quantities of goods to this mart, but these are exchanged only for senna and ivory. This evening arrived another Tripoline merchant with twenty camels of merchandize. He came viâ Mizdah and Shaty, and was forty-five days en route. The Touat caravan (very small) has arrived, bringing Touat woollen barracans and Timbuctoo gold. The affair of the Timbuctoo caravan is differently reported. It is now said the people killed were the[42] inhabitants of Ain Salah. The Desert is a great exaggerator and misinterpreter. It is very difficult to get correct news.

24th.—Better in health this morning, after taking medicine yesterday. First thing, returned the visit of the Governor. When I go out early, find few persons about the streets. People are up as late in winter as they are early in summer. The Touaricks of the suburban huts do not come to town till very late in the morning, when the Souk begins. His Excellency treated me with three cups of coffee. He said, "You must take three, because it is the destined number of hospitality, and as many more as you choose." It was wretched stuff—hot water and sugar, blackened or diluted with a little badly-ground coffee. But his Excellency thought he was conferring upon me a vast favour. Few people drink coffee in this country, and it is considered a great luxury. A man from Bengazi, a visitor, was also treated with his three cups of coffee. These Saharans have strange notions in their heads respecting the geography of England, and the capabilities of its inhabitants in travelling. The Governor asked me, "If the English could travel by land?" I was astonished at the question, but I saw he imagined our country, and European countries generally, to be so many little islets in the ocean[7]. It is curious, likewise, how old this notion[43] is. The Hebrew prophets, who were bad geographers, depicted all western Europe as "the isles of the sea." The Governor continued, "But can you travel on land, when water is wanted, as in this country?" Before the French occupied Algiers, the Saharans thought it impossible for Christians to invade, or even to travel in, their country. This gave the French invading army such a vast prestige when they once got upon terrâ firma. The event was as unexpected and marvelled at as the immediate results were decisive and brilliant. I answered, "In travelling through Christian countries, water is met with every day. If it be necessary to carry water however, water is carried. The French carry it in Algeria, and the English in India, when the country is dry and desert, on the backs of camels." His Excellency, greatly surprised, "What! impossible! Have the Christians camels? God gave the camels only to the Faithful." I returned, "We have troops of camels." "And where do you get camels?" asked the Governor, with great seriousness. "The French buy camels from Mussulmans in Algeria, and the English keep camels in India." "Ah!" observed the Governor, "those French Mussulmans sell camels to infidels. They themselves are infidels." His Excellency now inquired about religion, and whether all Christians had books (i. e. books of religion). As before noticed, there is a prevailing opinion here that Protestants have no Scriptures, whilst, indeed, as we know, they are the Christians who only, bonâ fide, have the free use of the Scriptures. I saw that Haj Ahmed, though a Marabout, was sufficiently ignorant on the religion of Christians. His Excellency then asked about money.


"Who have the most money, Mussulmans or the English?"

I.—"The English, The Sultan of Constantinople has no money, or spends it faster than he gets it. Mehemet Ali has but little money. However, Muley Abd Errahman has some saved up in the vaults of Mekinas."

The Governor.—"Muley Abd Errahman belongs to us; we are his subjects. We have nothing to do with the Turks or the Touaricks. As the English have much money, why have not you much?"

This question—this home-thrust—was made in a peculiarly arch way.

"If I had brought much money," I replied, as pointedly, "I'm sure I should have been murdered before I got to Ghat. All my friends, and the Rais of Ghadames told me not to carry any money with me."

This clear and positive statement made the visitors, who were numerous, burst out laughing. His Excellency, taken by surprise, asked abruptly, "How? Why?" I added, "Two Englishmen have been murdered in The Desert, the one near Wadnoun (Davidson), and the other near Timbuctoo (Major Laing), and both upon the supposition of their having possessed much money." The Governor at once dropped the subject, thinking I was going to bring upon the tapis Ouweek. His Excellency often quizzes me about having no money, evidently not believing a word of my alleged poverty. I then asked the Governor what he thought of the great camel-driver, Kandarka, who conducts the caravans, and nearly all the Ghadamseeah between Ghat and Aheer. He answered, to my surprise, Ma nâraf, "I don't[45] know," for Kandarka has an excellent reputation. This was the jesuitism of the Moor.

I took leave, and was escorted to Hateetah by my young Touarghee friend, whose eyes I'm doctoring. On our way we met his master, Sheikh Jabour, who stopped to salute us. Afterwards, somebody hailed us from a hut. My Touarghee friend turned and said, "They want to see you." We went, and I found several of my Ghadamsee acquaintance and some Touarghee people of consequence, all squatting down on the sand in a gossiping circle. They soon began on the troublesome subject of religion, after they had gratified their curiosity in staring at me and through me. One said to the Ghadamsee people, "Tell the Christian to repeat, 'There's one God,'" &c. I was determined to risk an abrupt answer. I said, "This saying is prohibited to Christians." At this stop-mouth answer they burst out into a fit of hilarity. But one fellow, who wished to show some zeal, growled out, "Be off, be off." My good-natured young Touarghee quickly got up from the circle, where he had taken his seat, and smiling, took me by the arm, whispering in my ear, "Come along, Yâkob, these are brutish people." We found Hateetah better. I asked him seriously if there was danger in my going to Aheer. He observed, "Without a letter from Shafou you can't go, the merchants can't and won't protect you. Some of them are big rascals, worse than us Touaricks, and will sell you as a slave for a dollar." Many concur in this opinion. I found the Ghatee people more peaceable in the streets, now the novelty of my appearance is diminishing. When I pay a visit to a person of consequence I always put on my European clothes, which compliment[46] is perfectly understood, for I offended an old Sheikh with going to him with my burnouse on instead of my French cloak. He said to my uncouth cicerone, "This Christian doesn't pay me respect, why doesn't he dress himself in Christian clothes?" Hateetah always makes me promise to return by the eastern side of the city, where we meet with very few persons. Saw Haj Ibrahim on my return. He complains of the market:—"Slaves are very dear. What can we do? We are obliged to buy them; there is nothing else in the market. Only a small quantity of elephants' teeth and a little senna. Besides these, nothing else sells in Tripoli."

Returning from the merchants, "Whey! whey! whoo! whoo! whoo!" saluted my ears. This noise came from a group of people surrounding En-Nibbee Targhee, "The Prophet of the Touaricks." The salute was followed by a number of persons who rushed upon me, carried me by force into the presence of The Prophet. The Seer, seeing me discomposed, said in a kind tone, "Gheem," (sit down). Now there was profoundest silence, not a murmur was heard amongst a hundred people crowded together. The Seer stood up before me, and, assuming an imposing attitude, spoke in monosyllabic style, the usual address adopted by North African and Saharan prophets,—

"Christian, Ghat, good, you?"

Myself.—"Yes, the people are good to me."

The Prophet.—"Three! one!" (putting out one finger of the right hand, and three of the left hand.)

Myself.—"There is one God!" (knowing the prophet meant this, for it is the usual way of badgering Christians about the Trinity in North Africa.)[47]

The Prophet.—"Good:" (then making the sign of the cross by putting his two forefingers into the shape of a cross.) "But you Christians worship this (the cross) of wood, stone, iron, brass. This is not good, not good."

Myself.—"No, we English do not worship wood, stone, iron, or brass."

The Prophet.—"You lie, you lie." (At this emphatic negative, up stepped one of my Ghadamsee friends to the Prophet, and told him that the English did not worship the cross or images like some other Christians.)

The Prophet.—"Good, right, sublime. What's your name?"


The Prophet.—"You, dog, Jew."

Myself.—"No. This is the Arabic of my English name."

The Prophet.-"Good, good; Yâkob, do you steal?"

Myself.—"Please God, I hope not."

The Prophet.—"Yâkob, do you lie?"

Myself.—"Please God, I hope not."

The Prophet.—"Yâkob, do you strike?" (i. e. kill.)

Myself.—"Please God, I hope not."

The Prophet.—"Good, good, good. Have you seen the Kafers in Algiers?" (i. e. the French.)

Myself.—"I have."

The Prophet.—"Have they houses where women are kept, and twenty men go in and sleep with one woman in an hour?" (At this question, the multitude showed intense anxiety to hear the result.)

Myself.—"I don't know."

I had scarcely made answer when two women[48] rushed upon the Prophet and dragged him away crying, "Yamout, Mat: he is dying! he is dead!" As the Prophet was pulled away he turned to me mildly and said, "Yâkob, inker, Arise, James." I inquired where he was being dragged to, and was told that the husband of the two women was just dead, and the Prophet was going to see whether he could raise him from the dead. The Prophet had already raised several people from death to life. It is a pity this barbarian prophet could not be transported from the sands of The Sahara to the marble pavement of the Vatican, where he might harangue Pope Pius IX. and his Cardinals in the style of an Iconoclast, and induce the Sacred College to abolish their scandal of image-worship. The Prophet wears a leathern dress, or dried skins, from head to foot. His repute of sanctity fills the surrounding deserts with its holy odours. The number of miracles he performs is prodigious. His leathern burnouse, like the Holy Tunic of Treves, is frequently carried about to cure the sick and work miracles.

Coming home, I had a visit from some Touaricks of Aheer. They were uncommonly civil, addressing me: "If you go with us, you have nothing to fear. In Aheer, people will not call out to you in the streets as in Ghat. We have a Sultan. Here there is no Sultan." They were amazed at my little keys. I promised one of them, that, in case of my arriving safe in Aheer, I would give him a little lock and key. This delighted him; and two pieces of sugar, one each, made these Aheer Touaricks excellent friends. Have visits from the Ghateen. Several of these people are going to Soudan with the return caravan.[49]

In better spirits to-day. Have been suffering from "The Boree." Such a variety of discouraging influences press upon the mind, that it is very difficult to keep it buoyant. Poor Said, he gives way in tears. He is become terrified at the prospect of Soudan; he repeats, "The Touaricks will kill you, and make me a slave again."

Had another visit from the uncle of Sheikh Jabour, a poor old gentleman. I got rid of him by a bit of white sugar, which he munched as a little child. He says, "One thousand Touarghee warriors are going against the Shânbah after the mart is held." Was to-day astonished to hear, that a few dates, a little gusub, a few onions, and a few stones of dates, which a female slave offers for sale in the streets, belong to Haj Ahmed the Governor! His Excellency sends the poor woman every morning to sell this miserable merchandize, and she regularly pays into his hands the price and profits every evening. This is one of the wrinkles of the Great Governor Marabout, who lives in a palace, and reigns as king and priest of Ghat and the Ghateen[8]! What shall I hear next? I am not surprised, some of the Ghadamsee merchants sneer at the idea of Haj Ahmed being "a Marabout of odour." Essnousee sent me a little present of vermicelli and cuscasou, or hamsa. He certainly behaves better than the other Ghadamsee merchants resident here. I'm told, there will not be many Touarick visitors this year at Ghat. They have unexpected occupation to defend themselves against the sanguinary forays of the Shânbah. And then, the late rains having pro[50]duced abundant herbage, they are also occupied in grazing the camels. The merchants congratulate me on these circumstances, and say I shall have less presents to distribute.

Met at Haj Ibrahim's a Shereef of Mourzuk, who pretends he is going to Soudan. This is a little thin fellow, who glides into people's houses through the keyhole, importunately begging on the strength of his being of the family of the Prophet, and lives by the same pretensions. He has a smiling face, with his head reclined always on one side from his habit of incessant importunities; of course, he has not a para in his pocket. But, nevertheless, he managed a few months ago to ally himself with the family of a rich merchant, marrying the sister of my friend Mohammed Kafah, one of the Ghatee millionnaires. Kafah is thoroughly disgusted with his sister's marriage, and gives them nothing to eat, or only enough to keep his sister from dying of starvation. One of the Shereef's items of importunity, is his incessant abuse of his brother-in-law, because he won't keep him in idleness. This little sorry shrimpy quasi-impostor can neither read nor write. He tells me it is quite unnecessary. The blood of the Prophet makes him noble, and fit for heaven at any time Rubbee may decree his death. He is professionally and continually begging from me, and says with a whining pomposity, "Put yourself under my protection, I will escort you safe to Soudan. No one dare lift a finger against a Christian under the protection of a Shereef!" But it's odd, these and such offers of protection come from many quarters. The camel-drivers and conducteurs look upon me as a good speculation. The Shereef pretends that there are[51] no less than two hundred of his family in Soudan, and some nearly black, on account of their intermarriages with negroes. One thing I like in the little wretch, he seems devoid of a spark of bigotry against Christians. It may be that his mind is too impotent for the malicious feeling. "Gagliuffi," he says, "is my friend. I'm the protector of the English at Mourzuk." Mustapha of Tripoli has cut me because I would not allow him to charge me double for the sugar, cloves, and sunbul, which I purchased of him. A pretty rogue is this; but I forgive him, for his voluntary and opportune services in interpreting for me on my arrival in Ghat.

25th.—Christmas Day! Not a merry Christmas for me—in truth, a sad, an unhappy one. And yet I ought to be content, having food and raiment, and enjoying the protection of God amidst strangers, in The Inhospitable Desert! It is better for a man to pray for a happy mind than for riches and celebrity. Weather has been mostly fine during the ten days I have resided here. But this morning broke angrily, followed with a tremendous gale, blowing from the east, prostrating all the palms, and filling the air with sand, as a thrice condensed London November fog. It is besides very cold, and is so far Christmas weather. I may add, the weather continued unusually cold this Souk. People had not had such cold for many a year. Received a visit from the Sheikh Jabour, who expressed himself uncommonly friendly, and said, "If anything unpleasant occurs, call for me." I showed him some cuts of a book, in which were drawings of Moors. He was wonder-stricken. The sight of a date-palm pleased him exceedingly, tickling the fancy of his followers who accompanied him.[52] The Sheikh promised me a letter for the Sultan of Aheer, and to send a slave of his own with me as far as Aheer. Jabour did not positively assert that Tripoli belonged to the English, and contented himself with asking, "If Tripoli were English?" I explained fully to the Sheikh, as he is a man of a fine ingenuous mind, that Asker Ali was recalled by the Sultan of Stamboul on the representations of the British Consul of Tripoli, the Pasha being a blood-thirsty tyrant, the enemy of the Christians as well as the Mussulmans; and that the Consul has influence in Tripoli, but Tripoli belongs to the Sultan. The Ghadamsee interpreter observed, "The English and the Mussulmans are the same." "Certainly," I replied, "without the English the French would soon eat up the Sultan of the West (Morocco), and the Russians the Sultan of the East (Turkey)." "That's good," observed Jabour; "Still, we in The Desert, fear neither Christians nor Sultan. And if the English require our assistance they can have it. Tell this on your return to your Sultan." This amiable prince then took leave. If there be a desert aristocrat of gentle blood, it is unquestionably Jabour. A shoal of low Touaricks came to me afterwards, in the Sheikh's name, to beg. I saw through the ruse, and they were savage in being obliged to go off empty-handed. Some Touarick ladies now tried to squeeze in as the door was opened, and, in spite of the "bago, bago," got up stairs to the terrace. They had all the tips of their noses, the round of the chins, and the bones of their cheeks, blackened. At first I could not make out how it was. It was explained that the dye of the Soudan cottons, which they wore, produced this blacky tipping. These cottons begrime their[53] wearers sadly, the colour is not fast, the indigo being ill prepared. Some of the blue cottons are highly glazed. Men and women wear them, being cheap and light clothing for the summer.

26th.—Relieved from pain, but getting very thin, although my habits are now what are called sedentary. I rarely sit up when at home, mostly reclining. So far I am become a bonâ fide Saharan habitant. Kandarka called again to-day at my request. He professed to be very uncivil or very serious, and asked a large sum for conducting me to Soudan, like a real man of business, quite inconsistent with the present state of my finances. He asks no less than 150 dollars in goods, including camels for riding, and other attentions. This is more than he gets from all the merchants put together, in fact, nearly twice as much. But if it be necessary to strike the bargain, I'm sure he will come down to fifty. My health is breaking down very fast, and I have great hesitation on the subject of a farther advance into the interior. I have been thinking of continuing my tour to Egypt and Syria, and Constantinople, visiting all the slave-marts of the Mediterranean. Had a visit from Zaleâ, and found him the same man as en route. But he is always a little wild and playful. He is against my proceeding farther, and tells me to get off on my return before Shafou comes, that the Touaricks may not get all the money I have. I am at present, however, so satisfied with the Touaricks, that I would give them a camel-load of dollars if I had them. Shafou is still occupied in the neighbouring districts, enrolling troops for the Shânbah expedition. The Bengazi merchant persuades me to accompany him. From Ghat to the first oasis of Fezzan, there are 10 days;[54] from thence to Sockna, 10; from Sockna to Augelah, 10; thence to Seewah, 14 days more; and thence to Alexandria, 14 more days.

Weather is dull to-day, but not very cold. All the Arabs and people of Ghadames abuse Ghat: it is assuredly a sufficiently wretched place. However, the scenery around is much more lively and picturesque than that of Ghadames. A great quantity of elephants' teeth arrived yesterday (not to be sold here), on their way to Ghadames. Also some Soudanic sheep for this market, selling as low as three dollars each. Had a visit from the eldest son of the Governor, and his nephew the Medina Shereef. This Shereef must be carefully distinguished from the little mad-cap impostor of Mourzuk mentioned before. I have not found so gentlemanly a person in all Ghat and Ghadames. He was born in Medina, but brought up here; he is the son of the Governor's sister, who is married a second time to the Sheikh Khanouhen, heir-apparent to the throne. The Shereef's mother is not a Touarick woman, and the Sheikh has another wife of Touarick extraction in the districts. Of course Khanouhen is strongly recommended to me by his son-in-law. "Khanouhen," he says, "has all the wisdom and eloquence of the country in his head and heart. Shafou is an old man, and talks little. Whatever Khanouhen plans, Shafou approves; whatever Khanouhen says in words, Shafou orders to be done." Had a visit from a Touatee, just arrived. He recommended me to go to Timbuctoo, and fear nothing. "What have the Touaricks of Ghat done to you that you are afraid to visit the Touaricks of my country and Timbuctoo?" he added. Now came in two Soudanese[55] merchants. One of them said, "Say 'There is but one God,' &c." I answered "This is prohibited to us," which made them laugh out. They have not that fierce bigotry of the north-coast merchants. Visited Haj Ibrahim. He says, "Wait for me till next year, and we'll both go together to Soudan. I'll protect you." Certainly this Moor has hitherto shown himself extremely friendly to me. Khanouhen came in this evening from the country.


[7] 1s xli. 1, 5; xlix, i. Whilst in Jer. ii. 10, Europe entire is presented to the prophetic vision by the designation of "the Isles of Chittim." Sometimes the whole idea of Gentiles and Gentile nations is represented by the isles of the sea. The Hebrew bards, standing on the heights of Lebanon, and looking westwards, saw nothing but innumerable clusters of islets in the dim and undefined distance of the waters of the Mediterranean.

[8] A Moor of Ghat now and then goes to Tripoli. The Italian merchants call them the Gatti, "cats."




Arrival of the Sultan Shafou.—Visit to his Highness.—Visit to Hateetah; his jealousy of the Sultan and other Sheikhs.—Visit from the People of the Oasis of Berkat.—Said sobbing and sulking.—A Night-School in The Desert.—Use of Sand instead of Paper, Pens, and Ink.—Mode of Touarghee succession to the Throne.—Women hereditary possessors of Household Property.—Negresses are Dramatic Performers.—Description of the Oasis of Ghat; Houses, Architecture, Gardens, and Surrounding Country.—Visit from the Heir-Apparent, Khanouhen.—Genial softness of the Weather.—Specimen of Retail Trade.—Case of administering Justice by the Sultan.—Early habit of Touarghee begging.—The Bou-Habeeba, or Saharan Singing Sparrows.—Alarm of Female Hucksters at The Christian.


27th.A fine morning. Feel better in health. The Touarghee Sultan, Mohammed Shafou Ben Seed, came in this morning from the country districts. His Highness is Sultan of all the Ghat Touaricks, or those of Azgher.

Arrived to-day another portion of the Soudan ghafalah. There was a false report this morning of the appearance of the Shânbah. Musket firing was heard in various directions, and the people ran together, some mounting the tops of the houses to see the fighting which was supposed to be going on between the Shânbah and Touaricks. The Arabs, with their matchlocks in their hands, ran after their camels to prevent them from being carried off. The hubbub was most singular and bewildering. I expected to have to report skirmish after skirmish, in the capture of Ghat, for the[57] benefit of The Leading London Journal. The true cause at length appeared in the arrival of the Sultan, the firing of matchlocks heard at a distance being done in honour of His Highness, and his coming to his town residence. So it is, in a little place like this a false report may work wonders in a few minutes. People are charmed with these rumours: they are their oral newspaper excitement. In the streets were now heard "Shafou! Shafou!" "It is Shafou! It is Shafou! It is Shafou!" "Shafou has come!"

As soon as the Sultan arrived, without waiting more than three or four hours, I determined to visit His Highness, and carry him a small present. I could not yet tell how the Sultan would look upon my projected journey to Soudan. Fortunately I found Essnousee in the streets, who volunteered his services as interpreter. Haj Ibrahim was also so good as to embrace the opportunity of going with us. This had a good effect, and served to give my visit consequence, Haj Ibrahim being the most respectable foreigner now in Ghat. He was also a stranger to His Highness as well as myself.

We found His Highness, at about a quarter of a mile's distance out of the town, sitting down by himself alone upon the sand, aside of a large hasheesh house, or hut of date-palm branches. The attendants of His Highness, who were not very numerous, sat at a considerable distance off. In this primitive way and Desert style he had been receiving various personages ever since his arrival this morning. As soon as His Highness saw us approaching him, he bade us welcome by signs and salutations in the style of the Touaricks, slowly raising his right arm, as high as his shoulders, and turn[58]ing the palm of the outspread hand to us. Haj Ibrahim was first introduced, but the Sultan could not keep off his eyes from me. At last the Sultan made a sign to Essnousee to speak on my behalf. Essnousee explained very deliberately and minutely everything respecting me—where and when he saw me at Tripoli, how I went to Ghadames, came here from that place, and what were my intentions in proposing to go to Soudan. The Sultan then turned to me, and said, "Go, Christian, wherever you please; in my country fear nothing—go where everybody else goes." After this I presented my little backsheesh to His Highness, consisting of a small carpet-rug to sit or recline upon, a zamailah or turban, and a shumlah or sash, large and full, and scarlet, like the Spaniards wear. On giving the servant of His Highness the present, (which was covered, and not exposed before His Highness, as a matter of delicacy,) I said, through Essnousee, "This present is from me, and not from my Sultan, nor the Consul at Tripoli, nor any persons in my country; it is extremely small, and scarcely worth accepting. But, probably, if your Highness should protect Englishmen through your country, and allow English merchants to come and traffic in Ghat, a greater and richer present will be sent to you hereafter." His Highness replied, "Thank you; I'm an old man now, and want but little: we have a little bread, and milk of the nagah (she-camel), and for which we praise God. Don't fear our people—no one shall hurt you." Indeed, I saw the old gentleman was thankful for any trifle. My little backsheesh was, perhaps, of the value of ten dollars, and was the largest present I had yet made. I then asked His Highness[59] whether he would write a letter for me to the Sultan of Aheer, and one to the Queen of England, stating that he would give protection to all British subjects passing through The Touarghee Desert? The Sultan replied, "All that you want I will do for you, please God." I determined to risk a word on Desert politics. I said, "Your Highness must exterminate the Shânbah, for they are a band of robbers." The Sultan replied, "Please God we will; we are now preparing the camels to go out against them." Essnousee and Haj Ibrahim considered the words of the Sultan delivered in the most friendly spirit. Shafou was dressed very plainly and very dirtily; and yet there sat upon his aged countenance (for he was full seventy years of age) a most venerable expression of dignity. His Highness wore a dark-blue cotton frock of Soudanic manufacture, and black-blue trowsers of the same kind of cotton. On his head was a red cap, around which was folded in very large folds a white turban. He had, like all Touaricks, a dagger suspended under the left arm, but no other weapon near him, or on his person. By his side, on the sand, lay a huge stick with which he walks, instead of the lance. His mouth and chin were covered with a thin blue cotton wrapper, a portion of the litham. Around his neck were suspended a few amulets, sewn up in red leathern bags. His Highness was without shoes, and his legs were quite bare; his feet lay half-buried in the sand. He spoke very slow and under tone, scarcely audible, and at times the conversation was interrupted by the silence of the dead. All his deportment was like that of a Sultan of these wilds; and the ancient Sheikh felt all the consciousness of his power. The Desert[60] Genii hedge him in around. The Sultan is profoundly respected by all; and Louis-Philippe is a gingerbread Sovereign compared with Shafou of The Great Desert.

But the reader would not be prepared to find His Highness smoking his pipe during our interview, and striking a light himself, the materials for which he carried in a large leathern bag, or pouch, slung on his left arm, like all the Touaricks. On taking leave, we called the servant of the Sultan after us, and Haj Ibrahim gave into his hands a small present for the Sultan of the value of a couple of dollars, so that I maintain my position of also giving the best presents, in the case of the Sultan. To me it was a most pleasant and refreshing interview, after the serio-comic affair of Ouweek. I asked Haj Ibrahim what Shafou said to him. The Sultan simply told the merchant, "You may go to every part of the country now in safety: to Touat, to Aheer, wherever you will—don't be afraid of the Touaricks." I went home with the Haj, and spent the evening with him. The merchant determines to send eight camels of goods to Soudan. He has not sold a fourth of what he brought to this mart. A great part of the slaves, elephants' teeth, and senna which daily arrive here, are not for sale in Ghat, but are sent direct from Soudan to Tripoli by the correspondents of the Ghadamsee merchants at Kanou. The Ghat Souk is nearly closed, all the slaves are sold, and some of the people are thinking about returning.

28th.—Rose early and better in health. Pleased with the prospect of still seeing my journey to Soudan completed. Weather this morning very dull, sky overcast,[61] a few drops of rain falling. Early Sheikh Hateetah sent for me. Went and found the Consul of the English better in health. He shewed me his scarlet burnouse and gold-braided coat, given him by our Government. But as his object in calling me was only to express his jealousy of the other Sheikhs, and of the Sultan himself, and to beg another present, I was by no means pleased with my visit. He evidently wished me to give him all the presents as the "Friend" of the English. But this would have been both unjust and suicidal policy on my part. I could not have considered myself safe, at any rate, respected or esteemed, unless I had given a present to all the principal personages in Ghat and the surrounding districts. Hateetah besides annoyed me by saying the route of Aheer was full of bandits, against the concurrent testimony of all the merchants. He wishes me to take the route of Bornou, which would, entirely defeat the object I have in view, of visiting new countries. However, by being firm with him, I got him to promise to procure for me a letter and servant from Shafou to go on to Aheer. I am to call again in a few days, and he is to show me his seal of office, done by the Consul-General of Tripoli. Hateetah is a man of more than sixty years, very tall, thin and attenuated, of extremely feeble frame. He is still labouring under fever, and does not leave his pallet. To-day, however, he got quite energetic on the subject of the presents, having heard what a fine present the Sultan had received from me. He begged me not to give a present to the Oulad ("people" or "followers") of Shafou, meaning thereby Khanouhen.

On my return, I found my door thronged with visitors[62] from Berkat, the village three miles distant, en route of Soudan. They had been waiting an hour or two for my return. At first I repulsed them, but hearing afterwards they had brought a young lad unwell, I let them in. The lad was covered with hard lumps, which had grown or festered under his skin, about the size of a nut. He had been so for a year. I prescribed a bath and opening medicine (senna, which they can get easily), but I question if they try either. I recommended them to send him to Tripoli, to the English doctor there, but they heard of the proposal with horror. None of these Berkat people have ever visited Tripoli. The Turks are their bugbear. They were not extremely friendly; rude and ignorant villagers as they were, they could not understand why I wanted to go to Soudan. I observed they were all well clothed and seemed to live in Saharan affluence. The term Berkat, ‮بركت‬, signifies "a lake" or "lagoon," and probably the site of the oasis is the dry bottom of what was formerly a lagoon. The Berkat oasis is larger in gardens, and more fertile than Ghat, but possesses the same essential features. It has no Souk, and excites no attention from strangers visiting Ghat. The inhabitants are Saharan Moors, and some five or six hundred in number. Had a very friendly visit from Salah, eldest son of Haj Mansour, of Ghadames. He says justly, Kandarka and other camel-drivers exaggerate the dangers of the routes for their own private ends, to get more money out of me. Of the Touaricks and Ouweek, he says, "They have no knowledge, they are bullocks." He also added, "I have been reprimanding Ouweek for his bad conduct to you; I told him I would not give him my usual backsheesh on account of his ill-treating you."[63]

I am much bothered with Said. Like his master he is continually wavering, whether he shall return to Ghadames with the return caravan, or proceed with me. I leave him to his own choice and reflections, telling him I will secure his freedom by writing to Sheikh Makouran. I can't but pity him. I find him frequently in tears, or sobbing aloud, afraid the Touaricks will again make him a slave.

In the streets, I pass nearly every evening a Night-School, where there is a crowd of children all cooped up together in a small room, humming, spouting, and screaming simultaneously their lessons of the Koran, in the manner of some of our infant schools. This mode of simultaneously repeating a lesson has prevailed from time immemorial in the schools of North Africa, and I imagine, in The East likewise, and though it may be new in England or Europe, it is old in Asia and Africa. But I never saw before a Night-School in Barbary, and look upon this Saharan specimen of scholastic discipline as a novelty. It is probable, in this way, every male child of Ghat, as in Ghadames, is taught to read and write. The pride of the Ghadamseeah is, that all their children read and write. The whole population can read and write the Koran. This Saharan fact of the barbarians of The Desert suggests painful reflections to honest-minded Englishmen. We may boast of our liberties, our Magna Charta, our independence of character, our commerce, our wealth, the extent of the world which Providence (too good to us) has committed to our care. But after all we cannot boast of what the barbarians of The Desert boast. We cannot, dare not, assert, that every male child of our population can read the Book which[64] we call the Revelation of God! This deplorable, but undeniable fact, ought to throw suspicion upon our religious motives, as well as our pretensions to the love and maintenance of liberty,—unless it be argued, that our liberty is founded on our want of education, and we are free men because the half of our population cannot sign their own name! A Minister of the Crown (Earl Grey), in a late, and the last discussion of the House of Lords (of the old Parliament), had the hardihood, the intrepidity, to assert, that, "We (Englishmen) were the least educated people of Europe, nay, that we were behind the savages of New Zealand!" But this astounding declaration of the Minister produced no explosion of indignation, not a single expression of regret, not a hum or murmur of disapprobation from the Spiritual or Temporal Lords, to whom the words of shame and censure were addressed. And, as the Lords, so the Commons, so all classes of our society. The enunciation, the reiteration of this most extraordinary, most damning stigma, on our national character, does not even tinge with the most imperceptible hue of shame the national countenance. What is the cause of all this? It is the profound, incurable, and inextirpable bigotry of the English people, to which they will not hesitate to sacrifice the national honour, the public happiness, their own liberties, and their own consciences. . . . . . . If measures for education are proposed by Imperial Government, our people one and all will neither allow them to be adopted, nor will they themselves adopt measures for education. With the diverse sections of our society, no education is education unless it be based upon their own peculiar views and principles. In this way, the curse and[65] opprobrium of ignorance are maintained in our own country.

I observe that the little urchins of this Saharan School use sand in their first efforts to write. As sand abounds everywhere in the populated oases of Sahara, and the people are poor and cannot afford to buy much paper, it is constantly employed instead of paper, pens, and ink, in casting up accounts. I see all the Soudanese merchants casting up their accounts of barter and bargains in this way. Mostly the fore-finger is employed, and in careless conversation a long stick or spear is used to scratch the sand. But if the subject is serious, the speaker very distinctly marks the stops of his discourse, or illustrates it with flourishes, squares, and circles on the sand, or dust of the streets, smoothing over the sand when he has finished. There is a little bit of superstition attached to this smoothing over the sand. The Moors always tell me when I write in this way to smooth all over and never forget it. They invariably do so themselves, and never leave a mark, or stroke, or dot of the finger on the sand after they have done speaking or writing.

I was surprised to hear of the peculiar mode of the Touarghee succession for Sultans or reigning royal Sheikhs. It is the son of the Sister of the Sultan who succeeds to the throne amongst all the Touaricks. I have learnt since that the same custom prevails amongst the Moorish tribes of the banks of the Senegal. Batouta also mentions this singular custom as prevailing amongst the Berber people of Twalaten, ‮ايوالاتن‬, in Western Sahara, in these words—"The people call themselves[66] after the name of their maternal[9] uncles; it is not the sons of the fathers who inherit, but the nephews, sons of the sister of the father." He adds:—"I have never met with this usage before, except amongst the infidels of Malabar (in India)." It would appear, these rude children of The Desert have not sufficient confidence in the succession of father and son, and think women should not be put to so severe a test in the propagation of a race of pure blood. Speaking to a Touarghee about it, he said:—"How do we know, if the son of the Sultan be his son? May he not be the son of a slave? Who can tell? But when our young Sultan is born from the sister of the Sultan, then we know he is of the same blood as the Sultan." There is besides another anomaly of the social system in the town of Ghat. Women here are the hereditary possessors and not men. The law of primogeniture is on the female side. The greater part of the houses of the town of Ghat, although the population is chiefly Moorish, belong to women, bequeathed to them or given them on the day of their marriage by friends or relatives. These two cases of anomaly are more favourable to womankind than what we mostly[67] find in Mahometan countries. I may not now scruple to tell the Touaricks, that the Sovereign of England is a female, for fear of giving them offence. It is a curious fact, and may here be added, that the son rarely goes, or travels, with the father, but always is pinned to his mother's knee, or trudges along at her side; at last, he loses all affection for his father, and concentrates his filial love on his mother. This alienation of the son from the father, is increased by the custom of the son inheriting nothing from his father, but all through his mother.

29th.—A fine morning; the sun high in the heavens scatters light and colour over all the Desert scene. In tolerably good spirits, but utterly at a loss which route I shall take. Visited Hateetah; he did not beg or annoy me to-day, but told me to resolve upon my route. Prescribed him some medicine, as also for another person, who had the ill manners to say, "God has made the infidels to be doctors for the Faithful." Yesterday evening, the slaves of Haj Ibrahim (about fifty) danced and sang and forgot their slavery. One young woman acted various grotesque characters, and, amongst the rest, Boree, "The Devil." When a Negro sulks, or is moody, he is said to be possessed, or to have got in him Boree, which agrees pretty well with our "Blue-devils." In these evening pastimes they fancy themselves in the wild woods of their native homes, and dance and sing to the rude notes of their ruder instruments of music, and feel as if free and like other mortals.

Went out this morning to have a commanding view of the oasis. Was accompanied by the uncle of Jabour, who took hold of my hand, and pulled me on, when we mounted the neighbouring piece of rock which com[68]mands the oasis and scenery around. From this block of mountain, north of the city, we had a beautiful view of the town, the oasis, and adjoining palms, and all the Desert of the Valley of Ghat. To the south we saw the date-palms of Berkat. To the east, is the black range of mountains, throwing sombre shadows upon the scattered sand-hills, which lie like shining heaps of silver at their base. This range is higher than the average height of Saharan mountains. The Touaricks say the Genii built these mountains, to protect them (the Touaricks) and their posterity from the inroads of the Turks, and Gog and Magog, from the east. "These are," say they, "our eastern doors (barriers)." Scarcely any breaks or gorges are found in this chain. Beyond the suburb, begirt with sand groups, stands the palace of the Governor, which from hence looks like a line of fortifications, with a tower or two rising above its battlements. There reigns, king and priest, Haj Ahmed, the lord of all he surveys. Sahara around has a varied aspect of trees and plain, sand and mountains. The contrasts are striking, and spite the gloom of Wareerat range, it is a bright desert scene. The town is small, and the gardens are also extremely limited; the oasis is comprehended within a circle of not more than three or four miles. The palms are dwarfish, and half of them do not bear fruit, and their dates are of the most ordinary kind. A sufficient proof that the date-palm is not dependent on the quality of its water, otherwise the palm of Ghat should be the finest and its fruit the most delicious of The Sahara. On the contrary, in some of the oases of Fezzan, where the water is literally salt, the palm is a noble towering tree, catching the breathings of[69] highest heaven, and casting down most luscious fruit. Houses in Ghat have but a wretched appearance, and are as wretched within as without. They are not white-washed, or clean and bright and shining as Moorish houses of the coast, and though the city is surrounded with stones, and lime is procurable, they are nearly all constructed of sun-dried bricks and mud. A few days of incessant rain would wash many of them down. The wood of construction is, of course, that of the palm. The Desert furnishes no other available building wood. Only one mosque tower deserves the name of minaret. Besides, there is a huge building higher than the rest, but which is inhabited as other houses. The town is walled in with walls not more than ten feet high, but its six gates are miserably weak, and never so closed as to prevent their being opened in the night. The whole town is built on a hill, a portion of the blocks of rock from which we view it. This little place has one large square, called Esh-Shelly—‮الشلّي‬—the general rendezvous of business and gossip, and where Shafou and all the subordinate Sheikhs administer justice. Here is held the Souk, where everything important is done. But the town-councils and state-councils of the Sheikhs are generally held in the open air. Two or three palms within the town cast a grateful shadow, and make an angle of the streets picturesque, but no other trees are seen. On the south, without the walls, is a suburb of some fifty mud and stone houses. There are also scattered over the sand, on the west, a hundred or more of hasheesh huts, made of straw and palm-branches. In the gardens, besides the palms, a little wheat, barley, and[70] ghusub is cultivated. There are some fruit-trees, but no vines. Of water there are several large pits, and some warm springs, but nothing approaching to the hot boiling spring of Ghadames. There is, however, one large reservoir, partly surrounded with palm-trees, and the banks covered with rushes, except where the people go to draw. The whole of this is enclosed within walls. Water apparently oozes from a great extent of surface. The water itself is of the first quality, and is said not to produce bile or fever. The irrigation is the same in principle as that of Ghadames, but slaves are employed to draw up the water, whilst animals are used in Fezzan, and in Ghadames the water runs itself into the gardens. The places for burying the dead around the Saharan towns occupy more space than the abodes of the living. This is not surprising, when we reflect that every new grave occupies a new piece of ground, and many years elapse before the old grave is opened to place in it a fresh body. I saw but one grave whitewashed; it was that of a Marabout, the only "whitewashed sepulchre," and, strange enough, it is to denote superior priestly sanctity as in New Testament times amongst the Jews. The rest were small stones heaped up in the shape of a grave, a large piece of stone being placed at the head.

The style of architecture, both here and in Ghadames, is the same, except that of Ghadames is neater and more fantastically elaborated. Most of the walls are surmounted with a mud-plaster work, and the tops and terraces of the houses are surmounted with the same style of material, and generally very irregularly done, as seen in the annexed diagram. The cupboards cut out or excavated in the walls are of the shape of squares or[71] triangles, and the windows sometimes of the same shape, but occasionally varying as seen in the diagram. All the doors and beams of the houses, as before mentioned, are of the date-palm wood. The doors are the usual long squares, but some of them so low that you are obliged to stoop to enter through them. This is very troublesome to the Touaricks, who always carry their long spears with them, as we our walking-sticks. I have noticed here in The Sahara, as well as on the coast of Barbary, very ingenious wooden lock-and-keys. The key is a piece of wood six or eight inches long, and two broad, covered at one end with little pegs. The lock is fitted to these pegs by little holes. On the arrangement and fitting of these pegs and holes depend the secrecy and security of the lock. It is no easy matter at times to unlock these locks, and requires a very practised hand. The floors are covered with a thick layer of sand, even many of the sleeping rooms, which sand is clean or dirty according to the quality and cleanliness of the occupant.

Architectural detail of Houses


According to my friend Mr. Colli, the original meaning of the term Ghat is Sun or God, in the Lybio-Egyptian language. The Arabic is ‮غات‬, Ghat, but as people fancy, like the French, they hear in the pronunciation of the ‮غ‬ in Ghat the R, so our former tourists have sometimes written the name of the town Ghrat, and others Ghraat. The oasis of Ghat is situated in 24° 58′ north lat., and 11° 15′ east longitude.

This afternoon received a visit from Khanouhen and his brother, accompanied by Essnousee. This visit was perhaps the most friendly of all which I have received from the Touaricks. For evil or for good, it was, at the time, the preponderating motive for attempting the tour to Soudan. I felt more confidence in the Touaricks. Khanouhen is a man advanced in life, full fifty years of age. He has hard but intelligent features. Like all the Sheikhs, he is tall and of powerful muscular frame. His conversation consisted of a few words, but full of pride and courage, and also to the point. He said:—"I do not expect presents from a stranger who has come so far to claim my hospitality. I can give you assistance without presents. Cannot the man, who is to succeed Shafou, be generous without bribes? It is not generosity to render you assistance if you load me with presents. The heir of the Touarick Sultan receives no presents: he asks for none. We wish not to terrify strangers—even those who do not believe in Mahomet—by acts of extortion and plunder. I will write you a letter to the Sultan of Aheer, so shall Shafou, so shall Hateetah. The Sultan of Aheer must respect our letters. When he does not, we make reprisals on his people. I am now busy. I am going to exterminate the Shânbah. Our[73] maharees will soon overtake the robbers; not one of them shall escape. We scorn the assistance of the Turks. We are strong enough by ourselves. We want no letters, no advice, no arms, no horses, no guns, from the Pasha of Tripoli. All The Desert is ours; wherever you go you find traces of our power. Be happy here, fear nothing; for if you fear us, you lose our confidence, and become our enemy." I have picked out the sense and many of the exact expressions of this harangue, and the reader will see that the Shereef, his son-in-law, did not exaggerate his sense and fierce eloquence. Khanouhen, indeed, is called "The man of speech," ‮رجل الكلام‬—by the merchants. The Sheikh was superbly dressed in the first style of the Touaricks, unlike his venerable uncle the Sultan. He wore a scarlet gold-braided coat, an immense red turban, and a huge black litham, covering the upper and lower part of his face, and nearly all his features. His arms were a dagger, a broadsword, and a ponderous bright iron spear, which on entering my apartment the Sheikh was obliged to leave outside.

Weather to-day is as soft and genial as Italy. The sky is overcast this evening, and rain threatens. Yesterday I saw it lighten for the first time in The Sahara. Flies live throughout winter here, and there is now enough of them to give annoyance. An article which I purchased to-day will give some idea of the retail trade in Ghat. This was a barracan, of light and fine quality, which cost me three Spanish dollars. In Tripoli, about forty days' journey from this, it cost two mahboubs, about a dollar and three-quarters. But I purchased it for money; had it been exchanged for goods or slaves, it would have been charged four dollars. This is nearly[74] cent. per cent. profit. Spent the evening with Haj Ibrahim. Shafou had returned the merchant's visit, and dined with him. The venerable Sheikh does not stand upon etiquette. An affair came off to-day, which admirably and most characteristically illustrates the mode of administering justice in Ghat. Mustapha, the young merchant of Tripoli, quarrelled with one of his Arabs, and came to blows. Shafou chanced to pass by at the time. His Highness immediately dispatched a servant to bring the pugilists before him. Shafou then harangued them and the bystanders, in this spirited manner:—"You see these men come here to disturb our country. What ungrateful wretches they are! Shall I suffer this? Don't I protect them? Don't I allow them to gain money at our Souk? They return with goods and innumerable slaves to Tripoli. But they laugh at me and insult me to my face, and trample upon our hospitality, (addressing a Sheikh). Do you think, (turning to the combatants,) there is no authority or justice in this place? I'll let you know to the contrary. What do you think the Christian will say, if he comes and sees this? Now, you rascals, pay me each of you ten dollars." This was followed by a violent intercession on their behalf by the foreign merchants, some blaming one and some the other. His Highness was obliged to compromise the matter, accepting of a dollar from each. It is probable His Highness was more anxious to inflict the penalty than quell the tumult; but I was quite unprepared for such an eloquent address from the ancient patriarch of the country. Considering the great number of strangers, there are very few quarrels. "Ghat," as was said before I came, "is a country of peace." Were[75] a bazaar of this sort held in Europe (for example an English fair), there would be a row every day, and every hour of the day. Nevertheless, this does not prevent us from calling these Saharan people barbarians.

30th.—Very mild weather this morning, but overcast as if rain would soon fall. I have not been long enough in The Desert to read the weather signs, or become weather-wise. Keep the door shut, to prevent an influx of visitors. Now and then a few people get in. Whilst eating my supper this evening, I was surprised at the appearance of two little ragged boys. I asked what they wanted, they returned, "Eat, eat, we want to eat." I went out to see them, for they stood on the terrace in the dark. Here I found one of the audacious urchins flourishing a spear ten times as big as himself, menacing me with it. I pushed the little scoundrels down stairs into the street. I could not however help remarking upon their audacity, and the early infant habits of Touarghee "begging by force." The Ghadamsee people have always been the fair game of the Touaricks. Asking one day a Ghadamsee, "What occupation the Touaricks followed?" he replied indignantly, "Beg, beg, beg, this is their trade! When they get money, they bury it, and beg, beg, beg!" This perhaps, is overstated, still it is curious to witness this first lesson of "we want to eat," repeated by children of very tender age, with a tone of command and insolence. Khanouhen does not send for his present, and I hear, he will not receive presents. I shall have the more to give away at Aheer.

31st.—Fine morning. I am surprised at my simplicity; but, apparently, the only thing which I enjoy with pure feelings, is the song of the little birds, the boo[76]habeeba, which frequent my terrace and the house-top, as sparrows familiarly in England. With these I feel I can hold free converse and interchange an unadulterated sympathy. The innocent little creatures remind me of my days of childhood, when I revelled in the woods and corn-fields of Lincolnshire, listening to the song of birds in early fresh spring morn, or bright summer day. Here was the tender chord of childhood associations touched, and no wonder that memory should come in to the aid of sympathy in these unsympathizing deserts. How little at times contents the heart, and fills the aching vacuum of the mind! In this we cannot fail to see an arrangement of infinite wisdom. If only great things could satisfy the mind of man, how prodigiously our miseries would be increased, for how few are the things deserving to be called great! Called this morning on Hateetah. Put him in a better humour, by telling him I would give him an extra present. On returning, stopped at a stall, where were exposed for sale, onions, trona, dates, and other things. The women immediately caught alarm, afraid I was going to throw a glance of "the evil eye" on their little property. They cried out, "There is one God, and Mahomet is the prophet of God!" I made off quick enough from this unseemly uproar. Saw afterwards the Governor. Called to ask him to allow his servants to make me some cuscasou, which request his Excellency granted immediately. He said:—"In travelling to Soudan adopt the dress of the Ghadamsee merchants, and let your beard grow." The Governor refuses to say anything of Kandarka. Probably they have quarrelled. Our merchants give the Tibboos a bad character, and the caravans are afraid of them.


[9] Amongst the Servians the mother's brother was "a very important personage." Ranke says:—"Amongst the early Germans, families were held together by a peculiar preference on the mother's side; the mother's brother being, according to ancient custom, a very important personage. In the Sclavonic-Servian tribe, there prevails, to a greater extent, a strong and lively feeling of brotherly and sisterly affection; the brother is proud of having a sister; the sister swears by the name of her brother."—(See Mrs. Alexander Kerr's admirable translation of Ranke's Servian History, &c., chap. iv., p. 56.)




Violent Act of a Touarick on Slaves.—Visit to the Princess Lilla Fatima.—Mode of grinding Corn.—Dilatoriness of C