Travels in Morocco Vol 1 by James Richardson

Produced by Carlo Traverso, Tom Allen and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team from images generously made available by the Bibliotheque nationale de France (BnF/Gallica) at TRAVELS IN MOROCCO, BY THE LATE JAMES RICHARDSON, AUTHOR OF “A MISSION TO CENTRAL AFRICA,” “TRAVELS IN THE DESERT OF SAHARA,” &C. EDITED BY HIS WIDOW. IN TWO VOLUMES.
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Produced by Carlo Traverso, Tom Allen and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team from images generously made available by the Bibliotheque nationale de France (BnF/Gallica) at









Having made a limited tour in the Empire of Morocco a few years since, I am enabled to appreciate the information imparted to us by the lamented Richardson, and am desirous of adding a few observations of my own upon the present state of affairs in that part of the African Continent.

The following work of the indefatigable traveller demands, at the present moment, a more than ordinary share of public attention, in consequence of the momentous events now passing in the Straits of Gibraltar, where the presence of powerful armaments entails on the Governor of our great rock-fortress, a duty of some delicacy, situated as he now is in close proximity to three belligerent powers, all of whom are at peace with Great Britain. But distinguished alike for common sense and professional ability, Sir William Codrington, it is to be hoped, will steer clear of the follies committed by Sir Robert Wilson in 1844, and will command respect for the British name, without provoking bitter feelings between ourselves, and our French and Spanish neighbours.

It is scarcely possible that either France or Spain can contemplate the conquest of the entire Empire of Morocco, as the result of the present impending crisis, the superficial extent of the territory being 219,420 square miles, and the population nearly 8,000,000, [1] of which a large proportion live in a state of perpetual warfare, occupying inaccessible mountain fastnesses, from whence they only descend to the plains for the sake of plunder. The inhabitants may be classified as follows: 4,000,000 Moors and Arabs; 2,000,000 Berbers; 500,000 Jews, and the remainder are of the Negro race. The regular Army consists of less than thirty thousand men, but every Arab is an expert irregular horseman, and the Berbers make good foot-soldiers.

These indeed are, in ordinary times, rarely to be depended on by the Emperor, but so powerful an incentive is religious fanaticism that, were he to raise the standard of the Holy War, a large Army would quickly rally around him, deficient perhaps in discipline, yet living by plunder, and marching without the encumbrance of baggage, it would prove a formidable opponent.

Let us, however, suppose, that the present action of France and Spain should result in the subversion of the atrocious system of Government practised in Morocco: a guarantee from the conquerors that our existing commercial privileges should be respected, would alone be required to ensure the protection of our interests, and what an extended field would the facilities for penetrating into the interior open to us! We must also remember that Napoleon III. in heart, is a free-trader; and, should Destiny ever appoint him the arbiter of Morocco, the protectionist pressure of a certain deluded class in France would be impotent against his policy in Western Barbary, a country perhaps more hostile to the European than China. Sailors and others, who have had the misfortune to be cast on the inhospitable shore of Northern Africa, have been sent far inland into slavery to drag out a miserable existence; and, at this moment, there are many white Christian slaves in the southern and eastern provinces of the Empire.

Should the war not result in conquest, the least we have a right to expect, is that toleration should be forced upon the Moors, and that European capital and labour should be allowed a free development throughout their Empire. A flourishing trade would soon spring up, nature having blessed Barbary with an excellent soil and climate, besides vast mineral wealth in its mountains; lead, copper, and antimony are found in them. The plains produce corn, rice, and indigo; the forests of cedar, ilex, cork, and olive-trees are scattered over a vast extent, and contain antelopes, wild bears, and other species of game; Barbary also possesses an excellent breed of horses. The principal manufactures are leather, shawls and carpets.

England has, but a short time since, succeeded in emancipating her Jewish brethren from their few remaining disabilities; an opportunity may now be at hand, of ameliorating the condition of those in the Empire of Morocco, who are forced to submit to a grinding persecution, and are merely tolerated because they are useful. They supply many wants of the Moorish population; are the best, and in many handicrafts, the only artificers, and are much employed by the government in financial occupations. They are compelled to occupy a distinct quarter of the town they inhabit; are permitted only to wear black garments, are forbidden to ride, the horse being considered too noble an animal to carry a Jew, and are forced to take off their shoes on passing a mosque. Even the little Moorish boys strike and ill-treat them in various ways, and the slightest attempt at retaliation was formerly punished with death, and would now be visited with the bastinado. They are more heavily taxed than any other class, and special contributions are often levied on them.

Alas! why should we respect the national existence of any community of Mahometans? Have we effaced from our memory their treachery and inhuman cruelty in India; their utter worthlessness in Turkey; their neglect in taking advantage of the richness with which nature has blest the countries in their possession; and their conquest from Christendom of one of the fairest portions of Europe.

Civilization cries aloud for retribution on a race whose religion teaches them to regard us as “dogs.” Surely, far from protecting and cherishing, we should hunt them out of the fair lands they occupy, and force them back on the deserts which vomited them forth on our ancestors ten centuries ago. Brief periods of glory at Bagdad, Cairo, and Granada, should not protect those who are now slaves to the lowest vices that degrade human nature. No administrative reforms are at all practicable; their moral maladies have attacked the vital element; the sole cure is conquest, and the substitution of Christian Governments in Northern Africa, and Turkey in Europe and Asia. Russia, France, Austria, Greece, and Spain are weary of the excesses of their savage neighbours; none can be honestly inclined to stay their avenging swords.

I have, in these prefatory remarks, extracted a few particulars from the short chapter on Morocco, contained in my work on the “French in Africa,” and in advocating a crusade against the Mahometan races, I believe I am recording the sentiments of millions of Europeans.

It now only remains for me to give expression to that universal feeling of regret which prevails among my countrymen at the untimely fate of poor Richardson, and to offer my congratulations that he has bequeathed to us so pleasing an addition to his former works as the following narrative of his “Travels in Morocco.”

Author of “The French in Africa.”

Army and Navy Club,
November, 1859.


The present unsettled state of affairs in Morocco, in consequence of the War in which she is now engaged with her more powerful and ancient enemy–Spain, must, I conceive, render any information regarding a region so little known peculiarly acceptable at the present moment.

In Morocco, my late husband laboured to advance the same objects which had previously taken him to Central Africa, viz., the amelioration of the condition of the strange and remarkable races of men who inhabit that part of the world. He aimed at the introduction of a legitimate commerce with a view, in the first instance, to destroy the horrible and revolting trade in slaves, and thus pave the way for the diffusion of Christianity among a benighted people. While travelling, with these high purposes in contemplation, he neglected no opportunity of studying the geography of the country, and of obtaining an insight into the manners, customs, prejudices, and sentiments of its inhabitants, as well as any other useful information in relation to it.

I accompanied him on his travels in Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli, in which last city he left me, it not being considered advisable that I should proceed with him into the interior of the country. We were not destined to meet again in this world. My beloved husband died at Bornou, in Central Africa, whither he was sent by Her Majesty’s Government to enter into treaties with the chiefs of the surrounding districts.

Of the many difficulties and dangers which the traveller is likely to encounter in penetrating into the interior of so inhospitable a region, the reader may form some idea by a perusal of the the following extracts from my husband’s writings.

“I am very much of opinion that in African travel we should take especial care not to attempt too much at once; that we should proceed very slowly, feeling our way, securing ourselves against surprise, and reducing and confining our explorations to the record of matters of fact as far as possible, or consistently with a due illustration of the narrative. But, whether we attempt great tours, or short journeyings, we shall soon find, by our own sad experience, that African travel can only be successfully prosecuted piecemeal, bit by bit, here a little and there a little, now an island, now a line of coast, now an inland province, now a patch of desert, and slow and painful in all their results, whilst few explorers will ever be able to undertake more than two, at most three, inland journeys.

“Failures, disasters, and misadventure may attend our efforts of discovery; the intrepid explorers may perish, as they have so frequently done, or be scalped by the Indian savage in the American wilderness, or stabbed by the treacherous Bedouin of Asiatic deserts, or be stretched stiff in the icy dreary Polar circles, or, succumbing to the burning clime of Africa, leave their bones to bleach upon its arid sandy wastes; yet these victims of enterprise will add more to a nation’s glory than its hoarded heaps of gold, or the great gains of its commerce, or even the valour of its arms.

“Nevertheless, geographical discovery is not barren ardour, or wasted enthusiasm; it produces substantial fruits. The fair port of London, with its two parallel forests of masts, bears witness to the rich and untold treasures which result from the traffic of our merchant-fleets with the isles and continents discovered by the genius and enterprise of the maritime or inland explorer. And, finally, we have always in view the complete regeneration of the world, by our laws, our learning, and our religion. If every valley is to be raised, and every mountain laid low, by the spade and axe of industry, guided by science, the valley or the mountain must first be discovered.

“If men are to be civilized, they must first be found; and if other, or the remaining tribes of the inhabitable earth are to acknowledge the true God, and accept His favour as known to us, they also, with ourselves, must have an opportunity of hearing His name pronounced, and His will declared.”

My husband would, indeed, have rejoiced had he lived to witness the active steps now taken by Oxford and Cambridge for sending out Missionaries to Central Africa, to spread the light of the Gospel.

Among his unpublished letters, I find one addressed to the Christian Churches, entitled “Project for the establishment of a Christian Mission at Bornou,” dated October, 1849. He writes: “The Christian Churches have left Central Africa now these twelve centuries in the hands of the Mohammedans, who, in different countries, have successfully propagated the false doctrines of the impostor of Mecca. If the Christian Churches wish to vindicate the honour of their religion–to diffuse its beneficent and heavenly doctrines–and to remove from themselves the severe censure of having abandoned Central Africa to the false prophet, I believe there is now an opening, _via_ Bornou, to attempt the establishment of their faith in the heart of Africa.”

He ends his paper by quoting the words of Ignatius Pallme, a Bohemian, the writer of travels in Kordofan, who says “It is high time for the Missionary Societies in Europe to direct their attention to this part of Africa (that is, Kordofan). If they delay much longer, it will be too late; for, when the negroes have once adopted the Koran, no power on earth can induce them to change their opinions. I have heard, through several authentic sources, that there are few provinces in the interior of Africa where Mohammedanism has not already begun to gain a footing.”

It would be a great solace to me should this work be received favourably, and be deemed to reflect honour on the memory of my lamented husband; and, in the hope that such may be the case, I venture to commit it into the hands of an indulgent public.


November 15, 1859.





Policy of the Court of Morocco.–Its strength.–Diploplomatic Intercourse with England.–Distrust of Europeans.–Commercial Relations.


Arrival at Tangier.–Moorish Pilgrims in Cordova.–Address of the Anti-Slavery Society.–Mr. D. Hay, British Consul.–Institut d’Afrique.–Conveyance of Eunuchs in vessels under the French Flag.–Franco-Moorish Politics.–Corn Monopolies in Morocco.–Love and veneration for the English name–Celebration of the Ayd-Kebir, or great festival.–Value of Money in Morocco.–Juvenile Strolling Singer.–General account of the city of Tangier.–Intercourse between the Moorish Emperor and the Foreign Consuls.–Cockney sportsmen.–The degrading of high Moorish Functionaries.–How we smuggle Cattle from Tangier to Gibraltar.–The Blood-letting of plethoric Placemen.


The Posada.–Ingles and Benoliel.–Amulets for successful parturition.–Visits of a Moorish Taleb and a Berber.–Three Sundays during a week in Barbary.–M. Rey’s account of the Empire of Morocco.–The Government Auctioneer gives an account of Slavery and the Slave Trade in Morocco.–Benoliel as English Cicerone.–Departure from Tangier to Gibraltar.–How I lost my fine green broad-cloth.–Mr. Frenerry’s opinion of Maroquine Affairs.


Departure from Gibraltar to Mogador.–The Straits.–Genoese Sailors.–Trade-wind Hurricanes on the Atlantic Coast of Morocco.–Difficulties of entering the Port of Mogador.–Bad provisioning of Foreign Merchantmen.–The present Representative of the once far-famed and dreaded Rovers.–Disembarkation at Mogador.–Mr. Phillips, Captain of the Port.–Rumours amongst the People about my Mission.–Visit to the Cemeteries.–Maroquine Wreckers.–Health of the inhabitants of Mogador.–Moorish Cavaliers “playing at powder” composed of the ancient Numidians.–The Barb.–The Life Guards of the Moorish Emperor.–Martial character of the Negro.–Some account of the Black Corps of the Shereefs.–Orthodoxy of the Shereefs, and illustrative anecdotes of the various Emperors.


Several visits from the Moors; their ideas on soldiers and payment of public functionaries.–Mr. Cohen and his opinion on Maroquine affairs.– Phlebotomising of Governors, and Ministerial responsibility.–Border Travels of the Shedma and Hhaha tribes.–How the Emperor enriches himself by the quarrels of his subjects.–Message from the Emperor respecting the Anti-Slavery Address.–Difficulties of travelling through or residing in the Interior.–Use of Knives, and Forks, and Chairs are signs of Social Progress.–Account of the periodical visit of the Mogador Merchants to the Emperor, in the Southern Capital.


Influence of French Consuls.–Arrival of the Governor of Mogador from the Capital; he brings an order to imprison the late Governor; his character, and mode of administering affairs.–Statue of a Negress at the bottom of a well.–Spanish Renegades.–Various Wedding Festivals of Jews.–Frequent Fetes and Feastings among the Jewish population of Morocco.–Scripture Illustration, “Behold the Bridegroom cometh!”–Jewish Renegades.–How far women have souls.–Infrequency of Suicides.


Interview with the Governor of Mogador, on the Address of the Anti-Slavery Society.–Day and night side of the Mission Adventure.–Phillips’ application to be allowed to stand with his “shoes on” before the Shereefian presence.–Case of the French Israelite, Darmon, who was killed by the Government.–Order of the Government against Europeans smoking in the streets.–Character of Haj Mousa, Governor of Mazagran.–Talmudical of a Sousee Jew.–False weights amongst the Mogador Merchants.–Rumours of war from the North, and levy of troops.–Bragadocio of the Governor.–Mr. Authoris’s opinion on the state of of the Country.–Moorish opinions on English Abolition.– European Slavery in Southern Morocco.–Spanish Captives and the London Ironmongers Company.–Sentiments of Barbary Jews on Slavery.



Interior of a Moorish House

City of Tangier

Port of Mogador

Christian Burial Place

Moorish Cemetery

Nubian Cavalry of Ancient Africa



The Snake-Charmer

City of Morocco

Fish found in Hot Springs


The Aoudad



Policy of the Court of Morocco.–Its strength.–Diplomatic Intercourse with England.–Distrust of Europeans.–Commercial Relations.

Morocco is the China of North Africa. The grand political maxim of the Shereefian Court is, the exclusion of strangers; to look upon all strangers with distrust and suspicion; and should they, at any time, attempt to explore the interior of Morocco, or any of the adjacent counties, to thwart and circumvent their enterprise, is a veritable feat of statesmanship in the opinion of the Shereefian Court. The assassination of Mr. Davidson, some years since, is an odious and enduring stigma on the Moorish Court, notwithstanding the various efforts which have been made to deny the personal responsibility of the Emperor in that transaction.

The Prince de Joinville was once going to open Morocco, as we opened China; but bullets and shot which his Royal Highness showered upon Tangier and Mogador, only closed faster the approaches and routes of this well-guarded empire–only more hermetically sealed the capitals of Fez and Morocco against the prying or morbid curiosity of the tourist, or the mappings and measurings of the political spy. The striking anecdote, illustrating the exclusive policy of the Maroquine Court, is familiar to all who have read the history of the Moorish Sultans of the Mugreb. Years ago, a European squadron threatened to bombard Tangier, unless their demands were instantly satisfied; and the then reigning Sultan sent down from Fez this imperial message:

“How much will the enemy give me if I myself burn to ashes my well-beloved city of Tangier? Tell the enemy, O governor of the mighty city of Tangier, that I can reduce this self-same city to a heap of smoking ruins, at a much cheaper rate than he can, with all his ships, his warlike machines, and his fighting men.”

The strength of Morocco lies in her internal cities, her inland population, and the natural difficulties of her territory; about her coast she cares little; but the French did not find this out till after their bombardments. The unwonted discovery led them afterwards to boast that they had at length opened Morocco by the other and opposite system of a pacific mission. The parties forming the mission, pretended to have obtained from the Emperor permission for Europeans “to travel in Morocco without let or hindrance whithersoever they will.” But the opposition press justly ridiculed the pretensions of the alleged concession, as the precarious and barren result of a mission costing several million of francs. Even an Englishman, but much more a Frenchman–and the latter is especially hated and dreaded in all the Maroquine provinces, would have considerably hesitated in placing confidence in the safe conduct of this jealous Court.

The spirit of the Christian West, which has invaded the most secret councils of the Eastern world, Persia, Turkey, and all the countries subjected to Ottoman rule, is still excluded by the haughty Shereefs of the Mahometan West. There is scarcely any communication between the port and the court of the Shereefs, and the two grand masters of orthodox Islamism, this of the West, and that of the East, are nearly strangers to each other.

All that Muley Errahman has to do with the East, appears to be to procure eunuchs and Abyssinian concubines for his harem from Egypt, and send forward his most faithful, or most rebellious subjects [2] on their pilgrimage to Mecca.

Englishmen are surprised, that the frequent visits and uninterrupted communications between Morocco and Gibraltar, during so long a period, should have produced scarcely a perceptible change in the minds of the Moors, and that Western Barbary should be a century behind Tunis. This circumstance certainly does not arise from any inherent inaptitude in the Moorish character to entertain friendly relations with Europeans, and can only have resulted from that crouching and subservient policy which the Gibraltar authorities have always judged it expedient to show towards the Maroquines.

Our diplomatic intercourse began with Morocco in the reign of Queen Elizabeth; and though on friendly terms more or less ever since, Englishmen have not yet obtained a recognised permission to travel in the interior of the country, without first specially applying to its Government. Our own countrymen know little of Morocco, or of its inhabitants, customs, laws, and government; and, though only five or six days sail from England, it must be regarded as an unknown and unexplored region to the mass of the English nation.

Nevertheless, in spite of the Maroquine Empire being the most conservative and unchangeable of all North African Mussulman states, and whilst, happily for itself, it has been allowed to pursue its course obscurely and noiselessly, without exciting particular attention in Europe, or being involved in the wars and commotions of European nations, Morocco is not, therefore, beyond the reach of changes and the ravages of time, nor exempt from that mutability which is impressed upon all sublunary states. The bombardments of Tangier and Mogador have left behind them traces not easily to be effaced. It was no ordinary event for Morocco to carry on hostilities with an European power.

The battle of Isly has deeply wounded the Shereefians, and incited the Mussulman heart to sullen and unquenchable revenge. A change has come over the Maroquine mind, which, as to its immediate effects, is evidently for the worst towards us Christians. The distrust of all Europeans, which existed before the French hostilities, is now enlarged to hatred, a feeling from which even the English are hardly excepted. Up to the last moment, the government and people of Morocco believed that England would never abandon them to their unscrupulous and ambitious neighbours.

The citizens and merchants of Mogador could not be brought to believe, or even to entertain the idea that the British ships of war would quietly look on, whilst the French–the great rivals and enemies of the English–destroyed their towns and batteries. Most manifest facts and stern realities dissipated, in an hour when they little thought of it, such a fond delusion. From that moment, the moral influence of England, once our boast, and not perhaps unreasonably so, was no longer felt in Morocco; and now we have lost almost all hold on the good wishes and faith of the Mussulman tribes of that immense country.

As to exploring the empire of Morocco, or making it the way of communication with Soudan or Central Negroland, this is now altogether impracticable. The difficulties of Europeans travelling the Maroquine States, always great and perilous, are now become nearly insuperable. This suspicious distrust, or ill-feeling has communicated itself contagiously to the tribes of the South as far as the Desert, and has infected other parts of Barbary. The Engleez, once the cherished friends of the Moors, are looked upon more or less as the abettors of French aggressions in North Africa, if not as the sharers with them of the spoil. In the language of the more plain-spoken Moors, “We always thought all Christians alike, though we often excepted the English from the number of our enemies, now we are certain we were wrong; the English are become as much our enemies as the French and the Spaniards.” The future alone can disclose what will be the particular result of this unfavourable feeling; both with respect to France and England, and to other European nations. However, we may look forward without misgiving. Islamism will wear itself out–the Crescent must wane.

In these preliminary observations, the commercial system of the Maroquine Court deserves especial mention. The great object of Muley Abd Errahman [3] is–nay, the pursuit of his whole life has been–to get the whole of the trade of the empire into his own hands. In fact, he has by this time virtually succeeded, though the thing is less ostentatiously done than by the Egyptian viceroy, that equally celebrated prince-merchant. In order to effect this, his Shereefian Majesty seeks to involve in debt all the merchants, natives, or foreigners, tempting them by the offer of profuse credit. As many of them as are needy and speculative, this imperial boon is without scruple greedily accepted. The Emperor likewise provides them with commodious houses and stores; gives them at once ten or twenty thousand dollars worth of credit, and is content to receive in return monthly instalments. These instalments never are, never can be regularly paid up. The debt progressively and indefinitely increases; and whilst they live like so many merchant-princes, carrying on an immense trade, they are in reality beggars and slaves of the Emperor. They are, however, styled _imperial_ merchants, and wear their golden chains with ostentatious pride.

This credit costs his Shereetian Highness nothing; he gives no goods, advances no moneys, whilst he most effectually impoverishes and reduces to servitude the foreign merchant resident in his empire, never allowing him to visit his native country without the guarantee of leaving his wife and family behind as hostages for his return. The native merchant is, in all cases, absolutely at the mercy of his imperial lord. On the bombardment of Mogador, all the native and resident traders, not excepting the English merchants, were found overwhelmed with debt, and, therefore, were not allowed to leave the country; and they were only saved from the pillage and massacre of the ferocious Berber tribes by a miracle of good luck.

Since the bombardment of Mogador, the Emperor has more strongly than ever set his face against the establishment of strangers in his dominions. Now his Imperial Highness is anxious that all commerce should be transacted by his own subjects. The Emperor’s Jews are, in future, to be the principal medium of commerce between Morocco and Europe, which, indeed, is facilitated by many of the native Jews having direct relations with European Jews, those of London and Marseilles. In this way, the Maroquines will be relieved from the embarrassments occasioned by the presence of Europeans, Jews, or Christians, under the protection of foreign consuls. The Emperor, also, has a fair share of trade, and gets a good return on what he exports; the balance of commercial transactions is always in his favour.

I must add a word on the way of treating politically with the Court of Morocco. The modes and maxims of this Court, not unlike those of the Chinese, are procrastination, plausible delays, and voluminous despatches and communications, which are carried on through the hands of intermediaries and subordinate agents of every rank and degree. You can never communicate directly with the Emperor, as with other Barbary princes and pashas. This system has admirably and invariably succeeded for the last two or three centuries; that is to say, the empire of Morocco has remained intact by foreign influences, while its system of commerce has been an exclusive native monopoly. The Americans, however, have endeavoured to adopt a more expeditious mode of treating with the Maroquine Court. They have something, in the style and spirit of Lynch law, usually made their own demands and their own terms, by threatening the immediate withdrawal of their consul, or the bombardment of ports.

The Shereefs, thus intimidated, have yielded, though with a very bad grace. Nevertheless, the Americans have received no favours, nor have they obtained a nearer approach to the awful Shereefian presence than other people; and it is not likely they ever will succeed beyond their neighbours. The French and English have always negotiated and corresponded, corresponded and negotiated, and been worsted once and worsted again. Somehow or other, the Emperor has, in most cases, had his own way. Neither the American nor our own European system is the right or dignified course. And I am still of opinion, that the Maroquine Court is so far enlightened respecting the actual state of the barbarians or Christian infidels, out of its Shereefian land of Marabouts, out of its central orthodox Mussulman land of the Mugreb, as to be accessible to ordinary notions of things, and that it would always concede a just demand if it were rightly and vigorously pressed, and if the religious fanaticism of its people were not involved in the transaction. Thus far we may do justice to the government of these Moorish princes.

This opinion, however, does not altogether coincide with that of the late Mr. Hay. According to the report of Mr. Borrow, as found in his work, “The Bible of Spain,” the Moorish government, according to Mr. Hay, was “one of the vilest description, with which it was next to impossible to hold amicable relations, as it invariably acted with bad faith, and set at nought the most solemn treaties.” But, if the Maroquine Court had acted in this most extraordinary manner, surely there would now be no Moorish empire of Western Barbary.


Arrival at Tangier.–Moorish Pilgrims in Cordova.–Address of the Anti-Slavery Society.–Mr. D. Hay, British Consul.–Institut d’Afrique.–Conveyance of Eunuchs in vessels under the French Flag.–Franco-Moorish Politics.–Corn Monopolies in Morocco.–Love and veneration for the English name.–Celebration of the Ayd-Kebir, great festival. Value of Money in Morocco.–Juvenile Strolling Singer.–General account of the city of Tangier.–Intercourse between the Moorish Emperor and the Foreign Consuls.–Cockney sportsmen,–The degrading of high Moorish Functionaries.–How we smuggle Cattle from Tangier to Gibraltar.–The Blood-letting of plethoric Placemen.

The communication between Gibraltar and Tangier is by no means easy and regular, though the places are only a few hours’ distance from the other. I had waited many days at Gib. (as our captain called the former place), before the wind enabled us to leave, and then, our boat being a small transport for cattle, and the Government contractors wanting beef for the garrison–for an Englishman or an English soldier cannot live in any part of the world without beef–we were compelled to leave with the wind in our teeth, and to make a night’s voyage of this four or five hours’ traverse. It might be worth while, one would think, to try a small steam-tug for the conveyance of cattle from Tangier to our garrison, which, besides, would be a great convenience for passengers.

On coming on deck in the morning, Tangier, “the city protected of the Lord,” appeared in all its North African lineaments, white and bright, shining, square masses of masonry, domes of fair and modest santos, and the heaven-pointing minarets; here and there a graceful palm, a dark olive, or the black bushy kharoub, and all denned sharply and clearly in the goodly prospect. But these Barbary towns had lost much of their freshness or novelty to me, and novelty is the greatest ingredient of our pleasure in foreign travel. I had also just travelled through Spain, and the south of this country is still, as to its aspect, part and parcel of Morocco, though it is severed by the Straits. In the ancient Moorish city of Cordova, I had even saluted the turban. I met two Moors strolling along, with halting steps and triste mien, through the streets, whom I instinctively addressed.

“_Wein mashe. Ash tomel_. Where are you going? What are you doing?”

The Moors (greatly pleased to hear the sound of their own mother-tongue in the land of their pilgrimage).–“_Net jerrej_. We are enjoying ourselves.”

Traveller.–“What do you think of the country (Cordova)?”

The Moors.–“This is the land of our fathers.”

Traveller.–“Well, what then? Are you going to possess it again?”

The Moors.–“Of what country are you?”


The Moors (brightening up).–“That is good. Yes, we are very glad. We thought you might be a Spaniard, or a Frenchman. Now we’ll tell you all; we don’t fear. God will give us this country again, when Seedna Aisa [4] comes to deliver us from these curse-smitten dogs of Spaniards.” [5]

Traveller.–“Well, never mind the Spaniards. Have you seen anything you like here?”

The Moors.–“Look at this knife; it is rusty; it should not be so.”


The Moors.–“We read in our books and commentators that in Andalous (Spain) there is no rust, and that nothing rusts here.” [6]

Traveller.–“Nonsense; have you seen the hundred pillars of your mosque?” (Now converted into a cathedral.)

The Moors.–“Ah, we have seen them,” with a deep sigh; “and the pillars will stand till to-morrow.” (End of the world.)

I was obliged to say farewell to these poor pilgrims, wandering in the land of their fathers, and worshipping at the threshold of the noble remains of Moresco-Spanish antiquity, for the _diligencia_ was starting off to Seville.

To return from my digression. I soon found myself at home in Tangier amongst my old friends, the Moors, and coming from Spain, could easily recognise many things connecting the one country with the other.

The success attending the various measures of the Bey of Tunis for the abolition of slavery in North Africa, and the favourable manner in which this prince had received me, when I had charge of a memorial from the inhabitants of Malta, to congratulate his Highness on his great work on philanthropy, induced the Committee of the Anti-Slavery Society to confide to me an address to the Emperor of Morocco, praying him to enfranchise the negro race of his imperial dominions.

We were fully prepared to encounter the strongest opposition from the Shereefian Court; but, at the same time, we thought there could be no insuperable obstacle in our way.

The Maroquines had the same religion and form of government as the Tuniseens, and by perseverance in this, as well as any other enterprise, something might at last be effected. Even the agitation of the question in the empire of Morocco, amongst its various tribes, was a thing not to be neglected; for the agitation of public opinion in a despotic country like Morocco, as well as in a constitutional state like England, admirably prepares the way for great measures of reform and philanthropy; and, besides the business of an abolitionnist is agitation; agitation unceasing; agitation in season and out of season.

On my arrival at Tangier, I called upon Mr. Drummond Hay, the British Consul-General, stating to him my object, and asking his assistance. The English Government had instructed the Consul to address the Emperor on this interesting subject, not long before I arrived, but it was with the greatest difficulty that any sort of answer could be obtained to the communication.

Mr. Hay, therefore, gave me but small encouragement, and was not a little surprised when I told him I expected a letter of introduction from Her Majesty’s Government. He could not understand this reiterated assault on the Shereefs for the abolition of slavery, not comprehending the absolute necessity of continued agitation on such a difficult matter, as exciting from a despotic and semi-barbarous prince, fortified by the prejudices of ages and generally sanctioned in his conduct by his religion, the emancipation of a degraded and enslaved portion of the human race. [7] However, Mr. Hay was polite, and set about arranging matters for proceeding with a confessedly disagreeable subject for any consul to handle under like circumstances. He made a copy of the address of the Anti-Slavery Society, and sent it to the English Government, requesting instructions. I expected an address from the Institut d’Afrique of Paris; but, after waiting some time, the Secretary, Mr. Hippolyte de St. Anthoine, wrote me a letter, in which he stated that, on account of the ill-will manifested by the Emperor to the establishment of the French in Algeria, the Institut had come to the painful conclusion of not addressing him for the abolition of the slave-trade in his imperial states.

Soon after my arrival at Tangier, the English letter-boat, Carreo Ingles, master, Matteo Attalya, brought twelve eunuch slaves, African youths, from Gibraltar. They are a present from the Viceroy of Egypt to the Emperor of Morocco. The Correo is the weekly bearer of letters and despatches to and from Morocco. The slaves were not entered upon the bill of health, thus infringing upon the maritime laws of Gibraltar and Tangier. The other captains of the little boats could not help remarking, “You English make so much fuss about putting down the slave-trade, and allow it to be carried on under your own flag.” Even the foreign consuls here reprobated the inconsistency of the British Government, in aiding the slave-trade of the Mediterranean by their own flag. However, Government ordered a strict inquiry into this case, and took means for preventing the occurrence of a like abuse. Nevertheless, since then the Emperor has actually applied to the British Consul to allow eunuchs to be brought down the Mediterranean in English steamers, in the same way as these were brought from Malta to Gibraltar in the Prometheus–as, forsooth, servants and passengers. And on the refusal of our consul to sanction this illicit conveyance of slaves by British vessels, the Emperor applied to the French consul, who condescended to hoist the tri-coloured flag for the transport of slave-eunuchs! This is one way of mitigating the prejudices of the Shereefian Court against the French occupation of Algeria. Many slaves are carried up and down the Mediterranean in French vessels.

The keeper of an hotel related to me with great bitterness, that the French officer who came with me from Gibraltar had left Tetuan for Algeria. The officer had ordered a great many things of this man, promising to pay on his return to Tangier. He deposited an old hatbox as a security, which, on being opened by the hotel keeper, was found to be full of greasy paper. At Tetuan, the officer gave himself out as a special envoy of the Emperor of the French.

My good friends, the Moors, continue to speculate upon the progress of the French army in Algeria. I asked a Moorish officer what he thought of the rumoured French invasion of Morocco. He put the backs of his hands together, and locking together his fingers to represent the back of a hedgehog, he observed emphatically; “Impossible! No Christians can invade us. Our country is like a hedgehog, no one can touch us.” Tangier Christians will never permit the French to invade Morocco, whatever may be the pretext. This is even the opinion of the foreign consuls.

As a specimen of the commercial system of this country, I may mention that the monopoly of exporting leeches was sold this week to a Jew, at the rate of 25,000 dollars. Now the Jew refuses to buy leeches except at his own price, whilst every unfortunate trader is obliged to sell to him and to him only. In fact, the monopolist fixes the price, and everybody who brings leeches to Tangier must accept it. This case of leeches may be applied to nearly all the monopolies of the country. Can anything be more ruinous to commerce?

All the Moors of Tangier, immediately on entering into conversation with me, inquire if I am Engleez? Even Moorish children ask this question: it appears to be a charm to them. The Ayd Kebir (great feast) was celebrated to-day, being the first of the new year. It was ushered in yesterday by prayer in the mosques. About 9 A.M. the governor, the commandant of the troops, and other Tangier authorities, proceeded to the open space of the market, attended with flags and music, and some hundred individuals all dressed in their holiday clothes. The white flag, typical of the sanctity of religion, floated over others of scarlet and green; the music was of squeaking bagpipes, and rude tumtums, struck like minute drums. The greater part were on horseback, the governor being most conspicuous. This troop of individuals ascended a small hill of the market-place, where they remained half an hour in solemn prayer.

No Jew or Christian was allowed to approach the magic or sacred circle which enclosed them. This being concluded, down ran a butcher with a sheep on his back; just slaughtered, and bleeding profusely. A troop of boys followed quickly at his heels pelting him with stones. The butcher ran through the town to the seashore, and thence to the house of the Kady–the boys still in hot and breathless pursuit, hard after him, pelting him and the bleeding sheep. The Moors believe, if the man can arrive at the house of the judge before the sheep dies, that the people of Tangier will have good luck; but, if the sheep should be quite dead, and not moving a muscle, then it will bring them bad luck, and the Christians are likely to come and take away their country from them. The drollest part of the ceremony is, that the boys should scamper after the butcher, pelting the sheep, and trying to kill it outright, thus endeavouring to bring ill-luck upon their city and themselves. But how many of us really and knowingly seek our misfortunes? On the occasion of this annual feast, every Moor, or head of a family, kills a sheep. The rich give to the poor, but the poor usually save up their earnings to be able to purchase a sheep to kill on this day. The streets are in different parts covered with blood, making them look like so many slaughter grounds. When the bashaw of the province is in Tangier, thousands of the neighbouring Arabs come to pay him their respects. With the Moors, the festivals of religion are bona fide festivals. It may also be added, as characteristic of these North African barbarians, that, whilst many a poor person in our merry Christian England does not, and cannot, get his plum-pudding and roast-beef at Christmas, there is not a poor man or even a slave, in Morocco who does not eat his lamb on this great feast of the Mussulmans. It would be a mortal sin for a rich man to refuse a poor man a mouthful of his lamb.

Of course there was a sensation among the native population, and even among the consular corps, about my mission; but I have nothing very particular to record. I had many Moorish visitors, some of whom were officers of the imperial troops. I made the acquaintance of one, Sidi Ali, with whom I had the following dialogue:–

Traveller.–“Sidi Ali, what can I do to impress Muley Abd Errahman in my favour?”

Sidi Ali.–“Money!”

Traveller.–“But will the Emir of the Shereefs accept of money from us Christians?”

Sidi Ali.–“Money!”

Traveller.–“What am I to give the minister Ben Dris, to get his favour?”

Sidi Ali.–“Money!”

Traveller.–“Can I travel in safety in Morocco?”

Sidi Ali.–“Money:”

Indeed “money” seems to be the all and everything in Morocco, as among us, “the nation of shopkeepers.” The Emperor himself sets the example, for he is wholly occupied in amassing treasures in Mequiney. Another acquaintance of mine was a little more communicative.

Aged Moor.–“What can I do for you, stranger? You are good to me, every time I call here you give me tea with plenty of sugar in it. What can I do for you in my country?”

Traveller.–“Tell me how to get on in my mission? How can I see Muley Errahman?”

Aged Moor.–“Now I am bound to give you my best advice. First then, take plenty of money with you. All love money; therefore without money you can do nothing. Muley Abd Errahman loves money, and money he must have. And the minister loves money, and the minister must not be forgotten. The minister is the door to the Emperor. You cannot get into the house but through the door. Out of the towns and cities, the Emperor has no power; so that whenever you travel out of these places, remember to give the people money.”

I had numberless volunteers to conduct me to Fez. All came begging for this honour and lucrative employment. Whatever may be said of the virtues of hospitality, I found all the world alike in its determination to make the most of strangers, if not to devour them. But the Emperor was not at Fez; he was in the southern capital, and it was necessary for me to go via Mogador, to endeavour to obtain an interview with him at that place.

The dreary monotony of Moorish life was one day broken in upon by a juvenile strolling singer, who attracted a crowd of silent and attentive listeners. It was a grateful sight to see old men, with long and silvery beards, reclining in mute and serious attention; young men lounging in the pride and consciousness of animal strength; little children intermixed, but without prattle or merriment–all fixed and fascinated with the charm of vocal song. The vocalist himself was a picturesque object; his face was burnt black with Afric’s sun, his bare head was wildly covered with long, black matted, and curly hair, but his eye was soft and serene; and, as he stretched his throat upwards to give compass to his voice, he seemed as if he would catch inspiration from the Prophet in heaven. A coarse brown blanket enveloped his spare and way-worn body, his only clothing and shelter from the heat by day and the cold by night, a fold of which fell upon his naked feet.

The voice of the Arab vocalist was extremely plaintive, even to the tones and inflections of distress, and the burden of his song was of religion and of love–two sentiments which all pure minds delight to combine. When he stopped a moment to take breath, a murmur of applause vibrated through the still air of the evening, not indeed for the youth, but for God! [8] for it was a prayer of the artless and enraptured bystanders, invoking Allah to bless the singing lad, and also to bless them, while ascribing all praise to the Deity.

This devout scene raised the Moors greatly in my estimation. I thought men could not be barbarians, or even a jealous or vindictive race, who were charmed with such simple melody of sounds, and with sentiments so pure and true to nature.

The Arab youth sang:–

Oh, there’s none but the One God!
I’ll journey over the Desert far
To seek my love the fairest of maidens; The camels moan loudly to carry me thither, Gainly are they, and fleeter than the swift-legged ostrich. Oh, there’s none but the One God!

What though the Desert wind slay me; What of it? death is from God.
And woe to me! I cannot repine.
But I’ll away to the abode of my love, I’ll embrace her with all my strength,
I’ll bear her back thence, and rest her on my couch. Oh, there’s none but the One God!

So sang in plaintive accents the youth, until the last ray of the sun lingered on the minarets’ tops, when, by the louder and authoritative voice of the Muezin calling the Faithful to prayers, this crowd of the worshippers of song and vocal harmony was dispersed to meet again, and forthwith chant a more solemn strain. The poor lad of the streets and highways went into the mosque along with his motley group of admirers; and all blended their voices and devotion together in prayer and adoration, lowly and in profound prostration, before the Great Allah!

It is my intention, in the course of the present narrative, to give a brief account of the principal towns and cities of North Africa; and I cannot do better than begin with Tangier. This city is very ancient, having probably been built by the aboriginals, Berbers, and was usually called by the Romans, Taigo on Tingis. The Emperor Claudius re-peopled it, and called it Julia Traducta. The Moors call it Sanjah, and relate that Benhad Sahab El-Alem built it, also surrounded it with walls of metal, and constructed its houses of gold and silver. In this condition, it remained until destroyed by some Berber kings, who carried away all its treasures. The modern Tangier is a small city of the province of Hasbat, picturesquely placed on the eastern slope of a hill, which terminates in the west with its port and bay, having some analogy to the site of Algiers. It has almost a square form, and its ramparts are a wall, flanked here and there with towers. This place, likewise, is most advantageously situate in the narrowest part of the Straits of Gibraltar, at a few miles east of Cape Spartel, and thirty miles W.S.W. of Gibraltar, and has, therefore, been coveted by all the conquerors of North Africa. The Phoenicians, Romans, Goths, and Arabs successively effected its conquest; and it was long a bone of eager contention between the Moors and Portuguese. In 1471, Alonzo, King of Portugal, took it from the Moors; and in 1662 it came into the hands of the English, as a part of the dowry of Catherine, queen of Charles II.; so, whilst in our possession it was a place of considerable strength; but on its evacuation in 1684 by order of the English government, who were disgusted by the expense of its occupation, and the bootless collisions with the natives, the fortifications were demolished, and only the vestiges of them now are visible. Had the British Government continued its occupation for half a century, and kept in check the Maroquine tribes, it is probable that by this time the greater part of Morocco would have been under British rule, when we might have founded a flourishing colony, from which all North Africa might have received the elements of Christian civilization.

Old Tangier (Tangier belia) is situate about four miles east from the present, being now a heap of ruins, near a little river called Khalk or Tingia, spanned over by the remains of a once finely-built Roman bridge. Here was likewise an artificial port, where the Roman galleys retired. The whole of this part of Africa was denominated by the Romans, Mauritania, from the name of this city; and during their administration was united to the government of Spain. Tangier had a population of from four to six thousand. Grabert estimates the population at 10,000, including 2,500 Jews, who live intermixed with the Moors; 1,400 negroes, 300 Berbers of Rif, and about 100 Christians. The Consuls-General of the European Powers reside here; and most of them have commodious houses. The Swedish Consul has a splendid garden, which is thrown open to the European residents. There is but one good street in the town; and the transition from Europe to Barbary, at so short a distance, is striking to the stranger. Tarifa, on the opposite side, along the coast of Spain, has, however, a Moorish affinity to this place; and the dress of the women is not very dissimilar in the two towns, once inhabited by the people of the same religion, and now, perhaps, many of them descendants of the same families.

Tangier, though a miserable place compared to most of the cities in Europe, is something considerable in Morocco, and the great mosque is rather splendid. Mr. Borrow justly remarks that its minarets look like the offspring of the celebrated Giralda of Seville. The Christians have here a convent, and a church within it, to which are attached half-a-dozen monks. There is no Protestant church; Mr. Hay reads service in the British Consulate, and invites the Protestant residents. Tangier is the only place in the empire where the Christian religion is publicly professed. The Jews have three or four small synagogues. Usually, the synagogues in Barbary are nothing more than private houses.

Before the bombardment of the French, the fortifications mounted forty pieces or so of cannon, but of no strength; on the contrary, going completely to ruin and decay, being scarcely strong enough to fire a salute from. The Bay of Tangier is good and spacious; but, in the course of time, will be filled up with sand. The shipping is exposed to strong westerly winds. The safest anchorage, however, is on the the eastern part, about half a mile off the shore, in a line with the round tower. With a few thousand pounds, one of the finest–at least, one of the most convenient–ports of the Mediterranean could be constructed here. There is a bashaw of this province, who resides at El-Araish, and a lieutenant-governor, who lives at Tangier. With these functionaries, the representatives of European Powers have principally to transact affairs. On the north is the castle, the residence of the governor.

Eleven consuls take up their abode in Tangier; the British, French, Spanish, Portuguese, American, Danish, Swedish, Sardinian, Neapolitan, Austrian, and Dutch. Each consular house generally belongs to its particular nation, the ground to the Sultan.

The consuls who have the most interest to guard in Morocco, are the British, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. Up to the bombardment of Tangier, the Danish and Swedish Governments paid to the Maroquine Court, the former 25,000 and the latter 20,000 dollars per annum, to have the privilege of hoisting their flag at this port. The French hostilities against Morocco furnished a convenient opportunity for getting this odious tribute abolished. The Americans led the way in getting rid of this subservience to the Shereefian Court, and refused from the first all presents and annual donations. Generally, however, when new consuls are appointed, they bring with them presents, and visit the Emperor in person. On the occasion of _fetes_, they sometimes make presents to the governors of districts. Whenever the Emperor condescends to come down to Tangier, three days after his arrival, it is the required etiquette for the consuls to seek his presence, and to make their obeisance to the Shereefian Lord. The consuls are accustomed to decide upon and control the affairs of their own countrymen, and those placed under their protection; but when a Moor and an European are concerned in a transaction, it is usually a mixed commission of the consulate and the Moorish authorities.

Many curious anecdotes are current respecting the consuls and the Moorish government. A Spanish consul once took it into his head to strike his flag and leave Tangier. Whilst he was gone, the Emperor ordered all the Jews to go and take possession of his house and live in it, as a degradation. The consular house was soon crammed with dirty Jews, whose vermin and filth rendered the house untenantable, until it had undergone a thorough repair and cleansing. Sometimes the Emperor shows a great affection for a particular consular family. The family of the Portuguese Consul were great favorites. During the war of succession in Portugal, the Portuguese Consul contracted debts in Tangier, not being able to get his salary amidst the strife of parties. The Moors complained to the Emperor of the consul’s debts. Muley Abd Errahman, though a thorough miser himself, paid the consul’s debts, alleging as a reason, “the consul was a friend of my ancestors, and he shall be my friend.” The Portuguese government wished to remove this consul on account of his alleged Miguelite propensities, but the Emperor threatened, if they did, that he would not receive another. Our government compelled the Portuguese to gratify the personal feeling of the Emperor. Senhor Colaso is a native of Morocco, as his father was before him, and the Emperor calls them his own children. The Jewish servants of the consulates are free from the poll-tax and other obnoxious contributions, and their Moorish servants are also exempt from government conscriptions.

At times, very serious misunderstandings and disputes occur between the consuls and the Emperor on the subject of his Imperial Highness. Our consul, Mr. Hay, was shot at by a fanatic marabout, the ball missing him, but killing a horse of one of the party. This affair was passed over, the consul very properly taking no notice of a mad saint. But I will cite another instance, as showing the intimate perception which the Moors have of the peculiar precepts of our religion, as well as exhibiting their own moral ideas, in each case representing them to us in a favourable light. One of the Emperor’s subjects had insulted the French consul, M. Sourdeau, and Muley Suleiman addressed to him the following singular epistle.

“In the name of God, the most merciful. There is no power or force except with the Most High and Great God!

“Consul of the French nation, Sourdeau, and salutation to him who is in the right way. Inasmuch as you are our guest, under our protection, and consul in our country of a great nation, so we cannot but wish you the greatest consideration and the honours. On which account, you will perceive that that which has happened to you is to us intolerable, and would still be so had it been done by one of our own children or most intimate friends. And although we cannot put any obstacle to the decrees of God, yet such an act is not grateful to us, even if it is done to the vilest of men, or even cattle, and certainly we will not fail to show an example of severe justice, God willing. If you were not Christians, having a feeling heart, and bearing patiently injuries, after the example of your prophet, whom God has in glory, Jesus the son of Mary, who, in the Book which he brought you in the name of God, commands you, that if any person strike you on one cheek turn to him the other also; and who (always blessed of God!) also did not defend himself when the Jews sought to kill him, from whom God took him. And, in our Book, it is said, by the mouth of our Prophet, there is no people among whom there are so many disposed to good works as those who call themselves Christians; and certainly among you there are many priests and holy men who are not proud; nevertheless, our Prophet also says, that we cannot impute a crime to persons of three sorts, that is to say, madmen (until they return to sound sense), children, and persons who sleep. Now this man who has offended you is mad, and has no knowledge; but we have decreed to give you full satisfaction. If, however, you should be pleased to pardon him, you will perform a magnanimous work, and the Most Merciful will abundantly recompense you. On the other hand, if you absolutely wish him to be punished, he is in your hands, for in my empire no one shall fear injustice or violence, with the assistance of God.”

A whimsical story is current in Tangier respecting the dealings of the Shereefian Court with the Neapolitan government, which characteristically sets forth Moorish diplomacy or manoeuvring. A ship load of sulphur was sent to the Emperor. The Moorish authorities declared it was very coarse and mixed with dirt. With great alacrity, the Neapolitan government sent another load of finer and better quality. This was delivered; and the Consul asked the Moorish functionaries to allow the coarse sulphur to be conveyed back. These worthies replied, “Oh dear, no! it is of no consequence, the Emperor says, he will keep the bad, and not offend his royal cousin, the King of Naples, by sending it back.” The Neapolitan government had no alternative but to submit, and thank the chief of the Shereefs for his extreme condescension in accepting two ship-loads of sulphur instead of one.

There are occasional communications between Tangier and Tarifa, in Spain, but they are very frequent with Gibraltar. A vast quantity of European merchandize is imported here from Gibraltar for Fez and the north of Morocco. All the postal and despatch business also comes through Tangier, which has privileges that few or no other Maroquine cities possess. The emperors, indeed, have been wont to call it “the City of Christians.” In the environs, there is at times a good deal of game, and the European residents go out to shoot, as one is wont in other countries to talk a walk. The principal game is the partridge and hare, and the grand sport, the wild boar. Our officers of the Gibraltar garrison come over for shooting. But quackery and humbug exist in everything. A young gentleman has just arrived from Gibraltar, who had been previously six weeks on his passage from Holland to that place, with his legs infixed in a pair of three-league boots. He says he has come from Holland on purpose to sport and hunt in Morocco. Several of the consuls, when they go out sporting, metamorphose themselves into veteran Numidian sportsmen. You would imagine they were going to hunt lions for months in the ravines of the Atlas, whereas it is only to shoot a stray partridge or a limping hare, or perchance they may meet with a boar. And this they do for a couple of days, or twenty-four hours, sleeping during the night very snugly under tents, and fed and feasted with milk, fowls, and sheep by the Arabs.

Morocco, like all despotic countries, furnishes some severe examples of the degrading of high functionaries. There is an old man, Sidi-El-Arby-Es-Said, living there, who is a marked victim of imperial tyranny. Some years ago, the conqueror despoiled him of all his wealth, and threw him into prison, after he had been twenty years bashaw of this district. He was in prison one year with his two sons. The object of the Emperor was to extort the last filse of his money; and he entirely succeeded. The oppressor, however, relented a little on the death of one of his victim’s sons; released him from confinement, and gave the ex-bashaw two houses, one for himself and the other for his surviving son. The old captain of the port has been no less than a dozen times in prison, under the exhausting pressure of the Emperor. After the imperial miser has copiously bled his captain, he lets him out to fill his skin again. The old gentleman is always merry and loyal, in spite of the treatment from his imperial taskmaster.

Very funny stories are told by the masters of the small craft, who transport the bullocks from hence to Gibraltar. The government of that place are only allowed to export, at a low duty per annum, a certain number of bullocks. The contractor’s agents come over; and at the moment of embarking the cattle, something like the following dialogue frequently ensues.

_Agent of Contractor_.–“Count away!”

_Captain of the Port_.–“One, two, three, &c. Thirty, forty. Ah! stop! stop! too many.”

_Agent of Contractor_.–“No, you fool, there are only thirty.”

_Captain of the Port_.–“You lie! there are forty.”

_Agent of Contractor_.–“Only thirty, I tell you,” (putting three or four dollars into his hand).

_Captain of the Port_.–“Well, well, there are only thirty.”

And, in this way, the garrison of Gibraltar often gets 500 or 1,000 head of cattle more than the stipulated number, at five dollars per head duty instead of ten. Who derives the benefit of peculation I am unable to state. An anecdote recurs to me of old Youssef, Bashaw of Tripoli, illustrative of the phlebotomizing system now under consideration. Colonel Warrington one day seriously represented to the bashaw how his functionaries robbed him, and took the liberty of mentioning the name of one person. “Yes, yes,” observed the bashaw, “I know all about him; I don’t want to catch him yet; he’s not fat enough. When he has gorged a little more, I’ll have his head off.”

The Emperor of Morocco, however, usually treats his bashaws of the coast with greater consideration than those of the interior cities, the former being more in contact with Europeans, his Highness not wishing his reputation to suffer in the eyes of Christians.


The Posada.–Ingles and Benoliel.–Amulets for successful parturition.–Visits of a Moorish Taleb and a Berber.–Three Sundays during a week in Barbary.–M. Rey’s account of the Empire of Morocco.–The Government Auctioneer gives an account of Slavery and the Slave Trade in Morocco.–Benoliel as English Cicerone.–Departure from Tangier to Gibraltar.–How I lost my fine green broadcloth.–Mr. Frenerry’s opinion of Maroquine Affairs.

I took up my stay at the “English Hotel” (posada Ingles), kept by Benoliel, a Morocco Jew, who spoke tolerable English. A Jerusalemitish rabbi came in one day to write charms for his wife, she being near her confinement. The superstition of charms and other cognate matters, are shared alike by all the native inhabitants of Barbary. It often happens that a Marabout shrine will be visited by Moor and Jew, each investing the departed saint with his own peculiar sanctity. So contagious is this species of superstition, that Romish Christians, long resident in Barbary, assisted by the inventive monks, at last discover the Moorish or Jewish to be a Christian saint. The Jewesses brought our Oriental rabbi, declaring him to know everything, and that his garments smelt of the Holy City. Benoliel, or Ben, as the English called him, protested to me that he did not believe in charms; he only allowed the rabbi to write them to please the women. But I have found, during my travels in the Mediterranean, many persons of education, who pretended they did not believe this or that superstition of their church, whilst they were at heart great cowards, having no courage to reject a popular falsehood, and quite as superstitious as those who never doubt the excrescent dogmas or traditionary fables of their religion. The paper amulets, however, operated favourably on Mrs. Benoliel. She was delivered of a fine child; and received the congratulations of her neighbours. The child was named Sultana; [9] and the people were all as merry as if a princess had been born in Israel.

I received a visit from a Moorish taleb, to whom I read some portions of my journal, as also the Arabic Testament:

_Taleb_.–“The English read Arabic because they are the friends of Mussulmans. For this reason, God gives them wit to understand the language of the Koran.”

_Traveller_.–“We wish to study all languages, and to know all people.”

_Taleb_.–“Now, as you have become so wise in our country, and read Arabic, where next are you going? Why not be quiet and return home, and live a marabout? Where next are you going?”

In this strain the Taleb continued lecturing me, until he was interrupted by a Berber of Rif.

The Rifian.–“Christian, Engleez, come to our mountains. I will conduct you to the Emir, on whom is the blessing of God. Come to the Emir, come.”

Traveller.–“No, I’ve nothing to do with war.”

The Rifian.–“Ah! ah! ah! I know you are a necromancer. Cannot you tell me where money is buried? I want money very bad. Give me a peseta.”

Traveller.–“Not I. I am going to see your Emperor.”

The Rifian.–“Ah! ah! ah! that is right; give him plenty of money. Muley Abd Errahman hoards up money always. If you give him plenty of money, you will be placed on a horse and ride by his side.”

The inhabitants of Barbary all bury their money. The secret is confided to a single person, who often is taken ill, and dies before he can discover the hiding place to his surviving relatives. Millions of dollars are lost in this way. The people, conscious of their secret practice, are always on the scent for concealed treasures.

One Friday, some Jews asked the governor of the custom-house to grant them their clearance-papers, because they were, early on the Sunday following, to depart for Gibraltar. The governor said, “Come to-morrow.” “No,” replied the Jews, “we cannot, it’s our feast.” “Well,” returned the governor, “you Jews have your feasts, the Christians have theirs, and we Mussulmen will have ours. I’ll not go down to the custom-house to day, for it is my feast.” These three Sundays or feasts, prevalent through North Africa, are very inconvenient for business, and often make men rebels to their religious persuasions.

The following is a Frenchman’s account of Morocco [10] up to the time of its bombardments.

“The question of Algeria cannot be confined within the limits of the French possessions. It embraces Morocco, a country possessing a vast and varied population. Leo gave a marvellous description of Fez, as the second city of Islamism in his time. Travellers who have sought to explore Africa, rarely or never took the route via Morocco. Formerly, monks were stationed in the interior to purchase captives; but, since piracy has ceased, these have left the country. Very few persons go into the interior, for Maroquine merchants come out of their country to trade. Tangier and Tetuan are not fair specimens of Morocco; they form a transition from Europe to Africa, being neither Spain nor Morocco. The ambassador, or merchant, who now-a-days gets an audience with the Sultan, is allowed to see little of the country, arising from the jealousy of the government or native merchants. Davidson was probably murdered by the jealousy of the Fez merchants.

“All the larger cities of Morocco are situate upon the coast, excepting three capitals of the interior–Fez, Miknas, and Morocco, to which El-Kesar-Kebir may be added. The other interior places are mostly large villages, where the tribes of the country collect together. The inhabitants of the cities make gain their only business, and debauchery their only pleasure. As to their learning, there is an immense difference between a Turkish ulema and a Moorish doctor.

“From the fall of Carthage and Rome, until the fourteenth century, the people of North Africa have had relations with Europe. The independence of the kingdoms of Fez and Morocco fell by internal dissensions like the Mussulman power in Spain. After expelling the Mahometans from Spain, the Christians (Spaniards and Portuguese) pursued them to Morocco, and built a line of forts on its coasts. Those have all now been abandoned except four, held by Spain. England destroyed the fortifications and abandoned Tangier, which she had obtained through Portugal. To blockade Tangier at the present time, would do more harm to England than Morocco, by cutting off the supply of provisions for Gibraltar.

“The navy of Morocco was never very great. It was the audacity and cruelty of its pirates which frightened Christendom. During the maritime wars of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Emperor of Morocco remained neutral, which was a great benefit to the Christian belligerent powers. Spain must be at peace with Morocco; she must either be an active friend, or an enemy. The policy of Morocco, in former times, was so well managed, that it made all the Christian powers pay a certain tribute to that country, to insure themselves against the piracy of its cruisers.

“The history of the diplomatic relations of Europe with Morocco, presents only a chronicle of shameful concessions made by the European powers to the Moorish princes. At the end of the eighteenth century, the Sultan of Morocco declared that, ‘Whoever was not his friend was his enemy,’ or, in other words, that ‘he would arm his cruisers against every flag which did not float upon a consular house at Tangier.’

“Muley Abd Errahman sent his corsairs to sea in 1828 to frighten the European powers into treaties. The plan succeeded, the first squabble being with Austria. From 1830, or, better to mark the period, since the capture of Algiers, the corsairs and their depredations have ceased. The progress of France in Africa has produced a profound impression in Morocco, but European powers have not taken their due advantage of this. Many humiliating acts have been performed by different governments. England possessed herself of all the commerce of importance since she has been established at Gibraltar. On the whole coast of Morocco, there are only two mercantile establishments under the French flag. French consular agents have no influence with the Moorish government. Morocco and Spain have shewn themselves neighbours. Mutual assistance has often been given by Morocco and Spain, in cases of national distress, particularly in seasons of famine.

“The Sultan of Morocco surveys from a distance the events of Europe, and endeavours to arrest their effect on his frontier. The residence of the foreign consuls was first at Rabat, then at Tangier. The object has constantly been to keep the consuls, as far as possible, from his capital and the transactions of his interior, in order that they may not see the continual revolts of his tribes, and so discover the weakness and disunion of the empire. Communications between Tangier and Morocco require at least forty days, a system shrewdly laid down by the Sultan, who is anxious to be as remote as possible from the consuls and their influence.

“The state of the army and navy, and particularly of the munitions of war, is very bad. All the coast of Morocco is difficult of access, and the only two ports which would have served for a naval station, are those which have been abandoned, viz., the Bay of Santa Cruz and the ancient Mamora, between El-Araish and Rabat; the rest are only roadsteads.”

M. Rey thus sums up his observations upon European diplomacy directed towards Morocco. “Voluntary humbling of European nations, always ready to pander to Moorish rapacity, even without reaping any advantage for it; and who submit themselves to be uselessly ransomed. As to the English, they show suppleness and prudence, and sacrificing national dignity to the prosperity of commerce; the Sultans are not backward in taking advantage adroitly of a situation so favourable and almost unique; such is the picture of the diplomatic relations we have sketched.”

He describes the personal character and habits of the Sultan, Muley Abd Errahman, and gives details of the court.

“A Jew is the master-cook of the Emperor, his Imperial Highness always eats alone. The Sultan receives European merchants in a very friendly manner, whilst he keeps ambassadors at a respectful distance. An interview with an ambassador does not last more than ten minutes. The Sultan replies in a phraseology which has not been varied for three centuries. The title of the present vizier is not minister, but sahab, “friend” or “companion.” The Sultan has the soundest judgment of any man in his empire, and great tact in the administration of affairs. He instructs himself by continual questions.

“His passion is avarice, and he has converted the whole empire into a commercial firm for the accumulation of his gains. Muley Tsmael left a treasury of 100 millions of ducats, [11] and at the death of Sidi Mohammed, this treasury was reduced to two millions. The constant occupation of Muley Abd Errahmnan is to replenish the imperial treasury. Commerce, which was neglected by his predecessors, has all his attention. The cruelty of the former sultans is exchanged for the avarice of the present. The history of these Shereefian princes is a chain of unheard-of atrocities. The present sultan keeps not a single promise when his interests interfere.”

M. Rey gives us this flattering tableau as a social picture of Morocco.

Covetous governors are continually succeeding one another, they are ever eager of enjoying the advantages of their position; their thirst for plunder is so much the more intense, as they are not allowed time to satisfy it, so they prey on the people. The inhabitants of towns and of the country live in rags in miserable hovels. What raiment! what food! mortality is dreadful, the children are invalids, and the women, especially in the country, are condemned to do the work of beasts of burden; such is the picture of society.

I have quoted these few passages from the “Memoire” of M. Rey, because he was resident many years in Tangier, and his account of the country discovers talent and intelligence, but is, of course, coloured with a strong anti-English feeling. Mr. Hay wrote on the back of his Memoire,–“All that is said in reference to Great Britain is false and malicious.” M. Rey’s opinions of the Moors and the present governors are still more bitter and unjust.

I had an interview with El-Martel-Warabah, government auctioneer of slaves, from whom I obtained details respecting the slave-trade in Tangier and Morocco generally. There is no market for slaves in Tangier. The poor creatures are led about the town as cattle, particularly in the main street, before the doors of the principal merchants, where they are usually disposed of. No Jew or Christian is permitted to buy or hold a slave in this country. Government possess many slaves, and people hire them out by the day from the authorities. The ordinary price of a good slave is eighty dollars. Boys, at the age of nine or ten years, sell the best; female slaves do hot fetch so much as male slaves, unless of extraordinary beauty. Slaves are imported from all the south.

The Sultan levies no duty on the sale or import of slaves. When one runs away from his master, and takes refuge with another, the new master usually writes to the former, offering to buy him; thus slaves are often enticed away. They are sometimes allowed to abscond without their owners troubling themselves about them, their master’s being unable either to feed or sell them.

In cases of punishment for all serious offences, slaves are brought before the judicial authorities, and suffer the same punishment as free men. In cases not deemed grave, they are flogged, or otherwise privately punished by their masters. Slaves went to war with Abd-el-Kader, against the French. The Arabs of Algeria had formerly many slaves. The chief depot of slaves is Morocco, the southern capital. Ten thousand have been imported during one year; but the average number brought into Morocco is, perhaps, not more than half that amount. The Maroquine Moors, before departing for any country under the British flag, usually give liberty to their slaves. On their return, however, they sell them again as slaves, or get rid of them some way or other. A slave once having tasted of liberty, can never again be fully reconciled to thraldom. Moors resident in Gibraltar, have frequently slaves with them. A few days ago, a slave-boy, resident in Gibraltar, wished to turn Christian, and was immediately sent back to Tangier, and sold to another master.

Europeans, with whom I have conversed in Tangier, assure me that slaves are generally well treated, and that cases of cruelty are rare. Nevertheless, they eagerly seek their freedom when an opportunity offers. In 1833, a man of great power and influence in the Gharb (province of Morocco), named El-Haj Mohammed Ben El-Arab, on a remonstrance of his slaves, who stated that the English had abolished slavery, and that they ought to have their liberty, called all his slaves together, to the number of seventy-two, and actually took the bold and generous resolution of liberating them. But, before releasing them from bondage, he lectured them upon the difficulty of finding subsistence in their new state of freedom, and then wrote out their _Atkas_ of liberty. As might have been expected, some returned voluntarily to servitude, not being able to get a living, whilst the greater part obtained an honourable livelihood, enjoying the fruits of independent freedom. It is mentioned, as an instance of fidelity, that a negress is the gaoler of the women in Tangier. [12]

At every Moorish feast of consequence (four of which are celebrated here in a year), the slaves of Tangier perambulate the streets with music and dancing, dressed in their holiday clothes, to beg alms from all classes of the population, particularly Europeans. The money collected is deposited in the hands of their chief; to this is added the savings of the whole year. In the spring, all is spent in a feast, which lasts seven days. The slaves carry green ears of wheat, barley, and fresh dates about the town. The Moorish women kiss the new corn or fruit, and give the slaves a trifle of money. A slave, when he is dissatisfied with his master, sometimes will ask him to be allowed to go about begging until he gets money enough to buy his freedom. The slave puts the atka in his mouth (which piece of written paper when signed, assures his freedom), and goes about the town, crying, “Fedeeak Allah, (Ransom of God!)” All depends on his luck. He may be months, or even years, before he accumulates enough to purchase his ransom.

Tangier Moors pretend that the negroes of Timbuctoo sacrifice annually a white man, the victim being preserved and fed for the occasion. When the time of immolation arrives, the white man is adorned with fair flowers, and clothes of silk and many colours, and led out and sacrificed at a grand “fiesta.” Slaves and blacks in Morocco keep the same feast, with the difference, that not being able to get a man to sacrifice, they kill a bullock. Such a barbarous rite may possibly be practised in some part of Negroland, but certainly not at Timbuctoo. All these tales about Negro cannibals I am inclined to believe inventions. There never yet has been published a well authenticated case of negro cannibalism.

The grand cicerone for the English at Tangier, is Benoliel. He is a man of about sixty years of age, and initiated into the sublimest mysteries of the consular politics of the Shereefs. Ben is full of anecdotes of everybody and everything from the emperor on the Shreefian throne, down to the mad and ragged dervish in the streets. Our cicerone keeps a book, in which the names of all his English guests have been from time to time inscribed. His visitors have been principally officers from Gibraltar, who come here for a few days sporting. On the bombardment of Tangier, Ben left the country with other fugitives. The Moorish rabble plundered his house; and many valuables which were there concealed, pledged by persons belonging to Tangier, were carried away; Ben was therefore ruined. Some foolish people at Gibraltar told Ben, that the streets of London were paved with gold, or, at any rate, that, inasmuch as he (Ben) had in his time entertained so many Englishmen at his hospitable establishment at Tangier (for which, however, he was well paid), he would be sure to make his fortune by a visit to England. I afterwards met Ben accidentally in the streets of London, in great distress. Some friends of the Anti-Slavery Society subscribed a small sum for him, and sent him back to his family in Gibraltar. Poor Ben was astonished to find as much misery in the streets of our own metropolis, as in any town of Morocco. Regarding his co-religionists in England, Ben observed with bitterness, “The Jews there are no good; they are very blackguards.” He was disappointed at their want of liberality, as well as their want of sympathy for Morocco Jews. Ben thought he knew everything, and the ways of this wicked world, but this visit to England convinced him he must begin the world over again. Our cicerone is very shrewd; withal is blessed with a good share of common sense; is by no means bigoted against Mahometans or Christians, and is one of the more respectable of the Barbary Jews. His information on Morocco, is, however, so mixed up with the marvellous, that only a person well acquainted with North Africa can distinguish the probable from the improbable, or separate the wheat from the chaff. Ben has a large family, like most of the Maroquine Jews; but the great attraction of his family is a most beautiful daughter, with a complexion of jasmine, and locks of the raven; a perfect Rachel in loveliness, proving fully the assertion of Ali Bey, and all other travellers in Morocco, that the fairest women in this country are the Jewesses. Ben is the type of many a Barbary Jew, who, to considerable intelligence, and a few grains of what may be called fair English honesty, unites the ordinarily deteriorated character of men, and especially Jews, bora and brought up under oppressive governments. Ben would sell you to the Emperor for a moderate price; and so would the Jewish consular agents of Morocco. A traveller in this country must, therefore, never trust a Maroquine Jew in a matter of vital importance.

Mr. Drummond Hay, our Consul at Tangier, advised me to return to Gibraltar, and to go by sea to Mogador, and thence to Morocco, where the Emperor was then residing. Adopting his advice, I left the same evening for Gibraltar. I took my passage in a very fine cutter, which had formerly been a yacht, and had since been engaged as a smuggler of Spanish goods. I confess, I was not sorry to hear that the Spanish custom-house was often duped. The cutter had been purchased for the Gibraltar secret service.

The Anti-Slavery Society had placed at my disposal a few yards of green cloth, for a present to the minister of the Emperor. At the custom-house of Havre-de-Grace, I paid a heavy duty on it. But, when I got to Irun, on the Spanish frontier, (having determined to come through Spain in order to see the country), the custom-house officers demanded a duty nearly double the cost of the cloth in London, so that there was no alternative but to leave it in their possession. The only satisfaction, or revenge which I had, was that of calling them _ladrones_ in the presence of a mob of people, who, to do justice to the Spanish populace, all took my part.

When I complained of this conduct at Madrid, my friends laughed at my simplicity, and told me I was “green” in Spanish; and in travelling through “the land of chivalry,” and of “ingeniosos hildagos,” ought, on the contrary, to thank God that I had arrived safe at Madrid with a dollar in my pocket; whilst they kindly hinted, if I should really get through the province of Andalusia safe to Cadiz, without being stripped of everything, I must record it in my journal as a miracle of good luck. This was, however, exaggeration. I had no reason to complain of anything else during the time I was in Spain. My fellow travellers (all Spaniards), nevertheless, rebuked me for want of tact. “You ought,” they said, “to have given a few pesetas to the guard of the diligencia, who would have taken charge of your cloth, and kept it from going through the custom-house.”

On reaching Gibraltar, I made the acquaintance of Frenerry, who for thirty years has been a merchant in Morocco. Mr. Frenerry had frequent opportunities of personal intercourse with Muley Abd Errahman, and had more influence with him than the British Consul. Indeed, at all times, a merchant is always more welcome to his Imperial Highness than a diplomatic agent, who usually is charged with some disagreeable mission. Mr. Frenerry was called, par excellence, “the merchant of the West.” Of course, Mr. Frenerry’s opinions must be valuable on Maroquine affairs. He says:–“The Morocco Moors like the English very much, and better than any other Europeans, for they know the English to be their best friends. At the same time, the Moors feel their weakness. They know also, that a day might come when the English would be against them, or have disputes with them, as in days past. The Moors are, therefore, jealous of the English, though they consider them their friends; and do not like Englishmen more than any other Christians to travel in their country. In other respects, if well managed and occasionally coaxed or bribed with a present, the Moors are very good natured, and as tractable as children.”

However, I find since the murder of Mr. Davidson, both the people and government of Morocco have got a bad name in Gibraltar; and opinion begins to prevail that it is almost impossible for an Englishman to travel in the country. Mr. Frenerry recommends that a Moor should be treated not proudly, but with a certain degree of firmness, to shew him you will not be trifled with. In this way, he says, you will always continue friends.

With regard to the present Emperor, Mr. Frenerry is a great apologist of his system.

“The Emperor is obliged to exclude foreigners as much as possible from his country. He does not want to tempt the cupidity of Europeans, by showing them the resources of the empire. They are prying about for mines of iron and silver. He is obliged to forbid these geological wanderings. The subjects of his empire are divided in their feelings and interests, and have been driven there by every wave of human revolutions. The Emperor does not wish to discover his weakness abroad, by letting Europeans witness the bad faith and disloyalty of his heterogeneous tribes. The European consuls are much to blame; they always carry their heads too high, if not insolently. They then appoint Jewish consuls along the coast, a class of men whom the hereditary prejudices of his Mussulman subjects will not respect.”

There is certainly something, if not a good deal, to be said _for_ the emperor as well as _against_ him. I was obliged to wait some time at Gibraltar before I could get a vessel for Mogador. I missed one excellent opportunity from the want of a note from the Gibraltar government. A Moor offered to allow me to take a passage without any expense in his vessel, provided I could obtain a note from our government; but the Governor of Gibraltar required an introduction in form, and, before I could receive a letter from Mr. Hay to present to him, the vessel left for Mogador. I therefore lost money and time without any necessity.


Departure from Gibraltar to Mogador.–The Straits.–Genoese Sailors.– Trade-wind Hurricanes en the Atlantic Coast of Morocco.–Difficulties of entering the Port of Mogador.–Bad provisioning of Foreign Merchantmen.–The present Representative of the once far-famed and dreaded Rovers.–Disembarkation at Mogador.–Mr. Phillips, Captain of the Port–Rumours amongst the People about my Mission.–Visit to the Cemeteries.–Maroquine Wreckers.–Health of the inhabitants of Mogador.–Moorish Cavaliers “playing at powder” composed of the ancient Nuraidians.–The Barb.–The Life Guards of the Moorish Emperor.–Martial character of the Negro.–Some account of the Black Corps of the Shereefs.–Orthodoxy of the Shereefs, and illustrative anecdotes of the various Emperors.

On leaving the Straits (commonly called “The Gut,”) a noble sight presented itself–a fleet of some hundred merchantmen, all smacking about before the rising wind, crowding every sail, lest it should change ere they got clear of the obstructive straits. Many weeks had they been detained by the westerly gales, and our vessel amongst the rest. I felt the poignant misery of “waiting for the wind.” I know nothing so wearisome when all things are made ready. It is worse than hope deferred, which sickens and saddens the heart.

I have lately seen some newspaper reports, that government is preparing a couple of steam-tugs, to be placed at the mouth of the straits, to tow ships in and out. We may trust it will be done. But if government do it not, I am sure it would answer the purpose of a private company, and I have no doubt such speculation will soon be taken up. Vessels freighted with perishable cargoes are often obliged to wait weeks, nay months, at the mouth of the Straits, to the great injury of commerce. In our days of steam and rapid communication, this cannot be tolerated. [13]

After a voyage of four days, we found ourselves off the coast of Mogador. The wind had been pretty good, but we had suffered some delay from a south wind, which headed us for a short time. We prayed for a westerly breeze, of which we soon got enough from west and north-west. The first twelve hours it came gently on, but gradually increased till it blew a gale. The captain was suddenly called up in the night, as though the ship was going to sink, or could sink, whilst she was running as fast as we would let her before the wind. But the real danger lay in missing the coast of Mogador, or not being able to get within its port from the violence of the breakers near the shore. Our vessel was a small Genoese brig; and, though the Genoese are the best sailors in the Mediterranean–even superior to the Greeks, who rank next–our captain and his crew began to quake. At daylight, the coast-line loomed before us, immersed in fog, and two hours after, the tall minaret of the great mosque of Mogador, shooting erect, a dull lofty pyramid, stood over the thick haze lying on the lower part of the coast.

This phenomenon of the higher objects and mountains being visible over a dense fog on the shore, is frequent on this side of the Atlantic. Wind also prevails here. It scarcely ever rains, but wind the people have nine months out of the twelve. It is a species of trade-wind, which commences at the Straits, or the coasts of Spain and Portugal, and sweeps down north-west with fury, making the entire coast of Morocco a mountain-barrier of breakers, increasing in its course, and extending as far as Wadnoun, Cape Bajdor, Cape Blanco, even to the Senegal. It does not, however, extend far out at sea, being chiefly confined to the coast range. Our alarm now was lest we should get within the clutches of this fell swoop, for the port once past, it would have required us weeks to bear up again, whilst this wind lasted.

The Atlantic coast of Morocco is an indented or waving line, and there are only two or three ports deserving the name of harbours–harbours of refuge from these storms. Unlike the western coast of Ireland, so finely indented by the Atlantic wave, this portion of the Morocco coast is rounded off by the ocean.

Our excitement was great. The capitano began yelping like a cowardly school-boy, who has been well punched by a lesser and more courageous antagonist. Immediately I got on deck, I produced an English book, which mentioned the port of Mogador as a “good” port.

“Per Dio Santo!” exclaimed our capitano; “yes, for the English it _is_ a good port–you dare devils at sea–for them it _is_ a good port. The open sea, with a gale of wind, is a good port for the _maladetti_ English.”

Irritated at this extreme politeness to our gallant tars, who have so long “braved the battle and the breeze,” I did not trouble farther the dauntless Genoese, who certainly was not destined to become a Columbus. Now the men began to snivel and yelp, following the example of their commander. “We won’t go into the port, Santa Virgine! We won’t go in to be shivered to pieces on the rocks.” At this moment our experienced capitano fancied we had got into shoal-water; the surf was seen running in foaming circles, as if in a whirlpool. Now, indeed, our capitano did yelp; now did the crew yelp, invoking all the saints of the Roman calendar, instead of attending to the ship. [14] Here was a scene of indescribable confusion. Our ship was suddenly put round and back.

My fellow passengers, a couple of Jews from Gibraltar, began swearing at the capitano and his brave men. One of them, whilst cursing, thought it just as well, at the same time, to call upon Father Abraham. Our little brig pitched her bows two or three times under water like a storm-bird, and did _not_ ground. It was seen to be a false alarm. The capitano now took courage on seeing all the flags flying over the fortifications, it being Friday, the Mahometan Sabbath. The silly fellow had heard, that the port authorities always hauled down their colours, when the entrance to the harbour was unsafe by reason of bad weather. Seeing the colours, he imagined all was right.

There are two entrances to the port of Mogador; one from the south, which is quite open; the other from the north-west, which is only a narrow passage, with scarcely room to admit a ship-of-the-line. The ‘Suffren,’ in which the Prince de Joinville commanded the bombardment of the town, stood right over this entrance, on the northern channel, having south-east the Isle of Mogador, and north-west the coast of the Continent. The Prince took up a bold and critical position, exposed to violent currents, to grounding on a rocky bottom, and to many other serious accidents. [15]


As we neared this difficult entrance, we were all in a state of the most feverish excitement, expecting, such was the fury of the breakers, to be thrown on the rock on either side. Thus, it was a veritable Scylla and Charybdis. A man from the rigging descried several small vessels moored snugly behind the isle. We ventured in with breathless agitation. A man from one of the fortifications, guessing or seeing, I suppose, our timidity and bad seamenship, cried out at the top of his lungs, “Salvo!” which being interpreted, meant, “The entrance is safe.”

But this was not enough; we were to have another trial of patience. The foolish captain–to terrify us to the last–had to cast his anchor, as a matter of course; and imagine, dear reader, our alarm, our terror, when we heard him scream out, “The chain is snapped!” We were now to be driven out southwards by the fury of the wind, which had become a hurricane, no very agreeable prospect! Happily, also this was a false alarm. The capitano then came up to me, to shake hands, apologize, and present congratulations on our safe harbouring. The perspiration of fever and a heated brain was coursing down his cheeks. The capitano lit an extra candle before the picture of the Virgin below, and observed to me, whilst the men were saying their prayers of gratitude for deliverance, “Per un miraculo della santissima Vergina; noi sciamo salvati!”–(we are saved by a miracle of the Most Holy Virgin!) which, of course, I did not or could not dispute, allowing, as I do, all men in such circumstances, to indulge freely in their peculiar faith, so long as it does not interfere with me or mine.

It is well that our merchant-vessels have never been reduced to the condition of Genoese craft, or been manned by such chicken-hearted crews. I believe the pusillanimity of the latter is traceable, in a great measure, to the miserable way in which the poor fellows are fed. These Genoese had no meat whilst I was with them. I sailed once in a Neapolitan vessel, a whole month, during which time the crew lived on horse-beans, coarse maccaroni, Sardinian fish, mouldy biscuit, and griping black wine. Meat they had none. How is it possible for men thus fed, to fight and wrestle with the billows and terrors of the deep?

We had no ordinary task to get on shore; the ocean was without, but a sea was within port. The wind increased with such fury, that we abandoned for the day the idea of landing. We had, however, specie on board, which it was necessary forthwith to land. Mr. Philips, captain of the port, and a merchant’s clerk, therefore, came alongside with great difficulty in a Moorish boat, to take on shore the specie; and in it I embarked. This said barque was the miserable but apt representation of the by-gone formidable Maroquine navy, which, not many centuries ago, pushed its audacity to such lengths, that the “rovers of Salee” cruised off the English coast, and defied the British fleets. Now the whole naval force of the once-dreaded piratic states of Barbary can hardly boast of two or three badly-manned brigs or frigates. As to Morocco, the Emperor has not a single captain who can conduct a vessel from Mogador to Gibraltar.

The most skilful _rais_ his ports can furnish made an attempt lately, and was blown up and down for months on the coasts of Spain and Portugal, being at last driven into the Straits by almost miraculous interposition.

What was this Moorish boat in which I went on shore? A mere long shell of bad planks, and scarcely more ship-shape than the trunk of a tree hollowed into a canoe, leakily put together. It was filled with dirty, ragged, half-naked sailors, whose seamanship did not extend beyond coming and going from vessels lying in this little port. Each of these Mogadorian port sailors had a bit of straight pole for an oar; the way in which they rowed was equally characteristic. Struggling against wind and current with their Moorish rais at the helm, encouraging their labours by crying out first one thing, then another, as his fancy dictated, the crew repeated in chorus all he said:–“Khobsah!” (a loaf) cried the rais.

All the men echoed “Khobsah.”

“A loaf you shall have when you return!” cried the rais.

“A loaf we shall have when we return!” cried the men.

“Pull, pull; God hears and sees you!” cried the rais.

“We pull, we pull; God hears and sees us!” cried the men.

“Sweetmeats, sweetmeats, by G–; sweetmeats by G–you shall have, only pull away!” swore the rais.

“Sweetmeats we shall have, thank God! sweetmeats we shall have, thank God!” roared the men, all screaming and bawling. In this unique style, after struggling three hours to get three miles over the port, we landed, all of us completely exhausted and drowned in spray.

It is usual for Moors, particularly negroes, to sing certain choruses, and thus encourage one another in their work. What, however, is remarkable, these choruses are mostly on sacred subjects, being frequently the formula of their confession, “There is no God, but one God, and Mahomet is his Prophet,” &c. These clownish tars were deeply coloured, and some quite black. I found, in fact, the greatest part of the Moorish population of Mogador coloured persons. We may here easily trace the origin of the epithet “Black-a-Moor,” and we are not so surprised that Shakspeare made his Moor black; indeed, the present Emperor, Muley Abd Errahman, is of very dark complexion, though his features are not at all of the negro cast. But he has sons quite black, and with negro features, who, of course, are the children of negresses. One of these, is Governor of Rabat. In no country is the colour of the human skin so little thought of. This is a very important matter in the question of abolition. There is no objection to the skin and features of the negro; it is only the luxury of having slaves, or their usefulness for heavy work, which weighs in the scale against abolition.

As soon as we landed, we visited the lieutenant-governor, who congratulated us on not being carried down to the Canary Islands. Then his Excellency asked, in due studied form:

“Where do you come from?”


_His Excellency_.–“Where are you going?”

_Traveller_.–“To see the Sultan, Muley Abd Errahman.”

_His Excellency_.–“What’s your business?”

_Traveller_.–“I will let your Excellency know to-morrow.”

I then proceeded to the house of Mr. Phillips, where I took up my quarters. Mr. Willshire, our vice-consul, was absent, having gone up to Morocco with all the principal merchants of Mogador, to pay a visit to the Emperor.

The port of Mogador had to-day a most wild and desolate appearance, which was rendered still more dreary and hideous by a dark tempest sweeping over it. On the shore, there was no appearance of life, much less of trade and shipping. All had abandoned it, save a guard, who lay stretched at the gate of the waterport, like a grim watch-dog. From this place, we proceeded to the merchants’ quarter of the town, which was solitary and immersed in profound gloom. Altogether, my first impressions of Mogador were most unfavourable, I went to bed and dreamt of winds and seas, and struggled with tempests the greater part of the night. Then I was shipwrecked off the Canaries; thrown on the coast of Wadnoun, and made a slave by the wild Arabs wandering in the Desert–I awoke.

Mr. Phillips, mine host, soon became my right-hand man. His extraordinary character, and the adventures of his life are worth a brief notice. Phillips said he was descended from those York Jews, who, on refusing to pay a contribution levied on them by one of our most Christian kings, had a tooth drawn out every morning (without the aid of chloroform), until they satisfied the cruel avarice of the tyrant. In person, Phillips was a smart old gentleman, with the ordinary lineaments of his race stamped on his countenance. The greater part of his life has been spent in South America, where he attained the honours of aide-de-camp to Bolivar. In those sanguinary revolutions, heaving with the birth of the young republic, he had often been shut up in the capilla to be shot, and was rescued always by the Jesuit fathers, who pitied and saved the poor Jew, on his expressing himself favourable to Christianity. Returning to England, after twenty years’ absence, his mother did not fully recognize him, until he one day got up and admired, with youthful ardour, a china figure on the chimney-piece, which had been his toy in his boyhood. On the occurrence of this little domestic incident, the mother passionately embraced her lost prodigal, once dead, but now “alive again.” Phillips came to Mogador on a military speculation, and offered to take the command of the Emperor’s cavalry against all his enemies.

This audacity of a Jew filled the Moor with alarm. “How could a Jew, who was not a devil, propose such an insult to the Commander of the Faithful, as to presume to take the charge of his invincible warriors!” Nevertheless, the little fellow weathered the storm, and got appointed “captain of the port of Mogador,” with the liberal salary of about thirty shillings per month; but this did not prevent our aide-de-camp, now metamorphosed into a sea captain, from wearing _an admiral’s_ uniform, which he obtained in a curious way on a visit to England. He met in the streets of London with an acquaintance, who pretended to patronize him. The gentleman jokingly said, “Well, Phillips, I must give you an uniform, since you are appointed captain of the port of Mogador.” The said gentleman received, a few months afterwards, when his quondam protege was safe with his uniform strutting about Mogador, to the amazement of the Moors, and the delight of his co-religionists, a bill of thirty pounds or so, charged for “a suit of admiral’s uniform for Mr. Phillips, captain of the port of Mogador;” and found that a joke sometimes has a serious termination.

Phillips, on his first arrival in this country, entered into a diplomatic contest with the Moorish authorities, demanding the privileges of a native British-born Jew, and he determined to ride a horse, in order to vindicate the rights of British Jews, before the awful presence of the Shereefian Court! About this business, the Consul-general Hay is said to have written eleven long, and Mr. Willshire about twenty-one short and pithy despatches, but the affair ended in smoke. Phillips, with great magnanimity and self-denial, consented to relinquish the privilege, on the prayer of his brethren, natives of Mogador, who were very naturally afraid, lest the incensed Emperor might visit on them what he durst not inflict on the British-born Jew.

Of the achievements of Phillips in the way of science (for he assures he is born to the high destiny of enlightening both barbarians and civilized nations) I take the liberty, with his permission, of mentioning one. Phillips brought here a pair of horse-shoes belonging to a drayhorse of the firm of Truman, Hanbury, Buxton, and Co., to astonish the Moors by their size, who are great connoisseurs of horse-flesh. The Moors protested their unbelief, and swore it was a lie,–“such shoes never shod a horse.” Phillips then got a skeleton of a head from England. This they also scouted as an imposition, alleging that Phillips had got it purposely made to deceive them. “Although they believed in the Prophet, whom they never saw, they were still not such fools as to believe in everything which an Infidel might bring to their country.” Phillips now gave up, in despair, the attempt to propagate science among the Moors.

Our ancient aide-de-camp of Bolivar is a liberal English Jew, and boasts that, on Christmas-day, he always has his roast-beef and plum-pudding. I supped with him often on a sucking-pig, for the Christians breed pigs in this place, to the horror of pious Mussulmen. This amusing adventurer subsequently left Mogador and went to Lisbon, where he purposed writing a memorial to the Archbishop of Canterbury, containing the plan, of a New Unitarian system of religion, by which the Jews might be brought within the pale of the Christian Church!

For some time I felt the effects of my sea voyage; my apartment rocked in my brain. People speculated about the objects of my mission; the most absurd rumours were afloat. “The Christian has come to settle the affairs of Mr. Darman, whom the Emperor killed,” some said. Others remarked, “The Christian has come to buy all the slaves of the country, in order to liberate them.” The lieutenant-governor sent for Phillips, to know what I came for, who I was, and how I passed my time? Phillips told him all about my mission, and that I was a great taleb. When Phillips mentioned to the governor, that Great Britain had paid a hundred millions of dollars for the liberation of slaves belonging to Englishmen, his Excellency, struck with astonishment, exclaimed, “The English Sultan is inspired by God!”


I visited the burying-place of Christians, situate on the north-side of

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