Travels in Morocco Vol 2 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











The Mogador Jewesses.–Disputes between the Jew and the Moor.–Melancholy Scenes.–The Jews of the Atlas.–Their Religion.–Beautiful Women.–The Four Wives.–Statues discovered.–Discrepancy of age of married people.– Young and frail fair ones.–Superstition respecting Salt.–White Brandy.–Ludicrous Anecdote.


The Maroquine dynasties.–Family of the Shereefian Monarchs.–Personal appearances and character of Muley Abd Errahman.–Refutation of the charge of human sacrifices against the Moorish Princes.–Genealogy of the reigning dynasty of Morocco.–The tyraufc Yezeed, (half Irish).–Muley Suleiman, the “The Shereeff of Shereefs.”–Diplomatic relations of the Emperor of Morocco with European Powers.–Muley Ismael enamoured with the French Princess de Conti.–Rival diplomacy of France and England near the Maroquine Court.–Mr. Hay’s correspondence with this Court on the Slave-trade.–Treaties between Great Britain and Morocco; how defective and requiring amendment.–Unwritten engagements.


The two different aspects by which the strength and resources of the Empire of Morocco may be viewed or estimated.–Native appellation of Morocco.–Geographical limits of this country.–Historical review of the inhabitants of North Africa, and the manner in which this region was successively peopled and conquered.–The distinct varieties of the human race, as found in Morocco.–Nature of the soil and climate of this country.–Derem, or the Atlas chain of mountains.–Natural products.–The Shebbel, or Barbary salmon; different characters of exports of the Northern and Southern provinces.–The Elaeonderron Argan.–Various trees and plants.–Mines.–The Sherb-Errech, or Desert-horse.


Division of Morocco into kingdoms or States, and zones or regions.– Description of the towns and cities on the Maroquine coasts of the Mediterranean and Atlantic waters.–The Zafarine Isles.–Melilla.– Alhucemas.–Penon de Velez.–Tegaza.–Provinces of Rif and Garet.– Tetouan.–Ceuta.–Arzila.–El Araish.–Mehedia.–Salee.–Rabat.– Fidallah.–Dar-el-Beidah.–Azamour.–Mazagran.–Saffee.–Waladia.


Description of the Imperial Cities or Capitals of the Empire.– El-Kesar.–Mequinez.–Fez.–Morocco.–The province of Tafilett, the birth-place of the present dynasty of the Shereefs.


Description of the towns and cities of the Interior, and those of the Kingdom of Fez.–Seisouan.–Wazen.–Zawiat.–Muley Dris.–Sofru.– Dubdu.–Taza.–Oushdah.–Agla.–Nakbila.–Meshra.–Khaluf.–The Places distinguished in. Morocco, including Sous, Draka, and Tafilett.–Tefza. –Pitideb.–Ghuer.–Tyijet.–Bulawan.–Soubeit–Meramer.–El-Medina.– Tagodast.–Dimenet.–Aghmat.–Fronga.–Tedmest.–Tekonlet.–Tesegdelt.– Tagawost.–Tedsi Beneali.–Beni Sabih.–Tatta and Akka.–Mesah or Assah.–Talent.–Shtouka.–General observations on the statistics of population.–The Maroquine Sahara.


London Jew-boys.–Excursion to the Emperor’s garden, and the Argan Forests.–Another interview with the Governor of Mogador on the Anti-Slavery Address.–Opinion of the Moors on the Abolition of Slavery.


El-Jereed, the Country of Dates.–Its hard soil.–Salt Lake. Its vast extent.–Beautiful Palm-trees.–The Dates, a staple article of Food.– Some Account of the Date-Palm.–Made of Culture.–Delicious Beverage.– Tapping the Palm.–Meal formed from the Dates.–Baskets made of the Branches of the Tree.–Poetry of the Palm.–Its Irrigation.– Palm-Groves.–Collection of Tribute by the “Bey of the Camp.”


Tour in the Jereed of Captain Balfour and Mr. Reade.–Sidi Mohammed.– Plain of Manouba.–Tunis.–Tfeefleeah.–The Bastinado.–Turkish Infantry.–Kairwan.–Sidi Amour Abeda.–Saints.–A French Spy– Administration of Justice.–The Bey’s presents.–The Hobara.–Ghafsa. Hot streams containing Fish.–Snakes.–Incantation.–Moorish Village.


Toser.–The Bey’s Palace.–Blue Doves.–The town described.–Industry of the People.–Sheikh Tahid imprisoned and punished.–Leghorn.–The Boo-habeeba.–A Domestic Picture.–The Bey’s Diversions.–The Bastinado.– Concealed Treasure.–Nefta.–The Two Saints.–Departure of Santa Maria.– Snake-charmers.–Wedyen.–Deer Stalking.–Splendid view of the Sahara.– Revolting Acts.–Qhortabah.–Ghafsa.–Byrlafee.–Mortality among the Camels–Aqueduct.–Remains of Udina.–Arrival at Tunis.–The Boab’s Wives.–Curiosities.–Tribute Collected.–Author takes leave of the Governor of Mogador, and embarks for England.–Rough Weather.–Arrival in London.




The Mogador Jewesses.–Disputes between the Jew and the Moor.–Melancholy Scenes.–The Jews of the Atlas.–Their Religion.–Beautiful Women.–The Four Wives.–Statues discovered.–Discrepancy of age of married people.– Young and frail fair ones.–Superstition respecting Salt.–White Brandy.–Ludicrous Anecdote.

Notwithstanding the imbecile prejudices of the native Barbary Jews, such of them who adopt European habits, or who mix with European merchants, are tolerably good members of society, always endeavouring to restrain their own peculiarities. The European Jewesses settled in Mogador, are indeed the belles of society, and attend all the balls (such as they are). The Jewess sooner forgets religious differences than the Jew, and I was told by a Christian lady, it would be a dangerous matter for a Christian gentleman to make an offer of marriage to a Mogador Jewess, unless in downright earnest; as it would be sure to be accepted.

Monsieur Delaport, Consul of France, was the first official person who brought prominently forward the native and other Jews into the European society of this place, and since then, these Jews have improved in their manners, and increased their respectability. The principal European Jews are from London, Gibraltar, and Marseilles. Many native Jews have attempted to wear European clothes; and a European hat, or coat, is now the rage among native Jewesses, who all aspire to get a husband wearing either. Such are elements of the progress of the Jewess population in this part of the world, and there is no doubt their position has been greatly ameliorated within the last half century, or since the time of Ali Bey, who thus describes their wretched condition in his days.

“Continual disputes arise between the Jew and the Moor; when the Jew is wrong, the Moor takes his own satisfaction, and if the Jew be right, he lodges a complaint with the judge, who always decides in favour of the Mussulman. I have seen the Mahometan children amuse themselves by beating little Jews, who durst not defend themselves. When a Jew passes a mosque, he is obliged to take off his slippers, or shoes; he must do the same when he passes the house of the Kaed, the Kady, or any Mussulman of distinction. At Fez, and in some other towns, they are obliged to walk barefooted.” Ali Bey mentions other vexations and oppressions, and adds, “When I saw the Jews were so ill-treated and vexed in every way, I asked them why they did not go to another country. They answered that they could not do so, because they were slaves of the Sultan.” Again he says, “As the Jews have a particular skill in thieving, they indemnify themselves for the ill-treatment they receive from the Moors, by cheating them daily.”

Jewesses are exempt from taking off their slippers, or sandals, when passing the mosques. The late Emperor, Muley Suleiman, [1] professed to be a rigidly exact Mussulman, and considered it very indecent, and a great scandal that Jewesses, some of them, like most women of this country, of enormous dimensions, should be allowed to disturb the decent frame of mind of pious Mussulmen, whilst entering the threshold of the house of prayer, by the sad exhibitions of these good ladies stooping down and shewing their tremendous calves, when in the act of taking off their shoes before passing the mosques. For such reasons, Jewesses are now privileged and exempted from the painful necessity of walking barefoot in the streets.

The policy of the Court in relation to the Jews continually fluctuates. Sometimes, the Emperor thinks they ought to be treated like the rest of his subjects; at other times, he seems anxious to renew in all its vigour the system described by Ali Bey. Hearing that the Jews of Tangier, on returning from Gibraltar, would often adopt the European dress, and so, by disguising themselves, be treated like Christians and Europeans, he ordered all these would-be Europeans forthwith to be undressed, and to resume their black turban.

Alas, how were all these Passover, Tabernacle and wedding festivals, these happy and joyous days of the Jewish society of Mogador, changed on the bombardment of that city! What became of the rich and powerful merchants, the imperial vassals of commerce with their gorgeous wives bending under the weight of diamonds, pearls, and precious gems, during that sad and unexpected period? The newspapers of the day recorded the melancholy story. Many of the Jews were massacred, or buried underneath the ruins of the city; their wives subjected to plunder; the rest were left wandering naked and starving on the desolate sandy coast of the Atlantic, or hidden in the mountains, obtaining a momentary respite from the rapacious fury of the savage Berbers and Arabs.

It is well known that, while the French bombarded Tangier and Mogador from without, the Berber and Arab tribes, aided by the _canaille_ of the Moors, plundered the city from within. Several of the Moorish rabble declared publicly, and with the greatest cowardice and villainous effrontery, “When the French come to destroy Mogador, we shall go and pillage the Jews’ houses, strip the women of their ornaments, and then escape to the mountains from the pursuit of the Christians.” These threats they faithfully executed; but, by a just vengeance, they were pillaged in turn, for the Berbers not only plundered the Jews themselves, but the Moors who had escaped from the city laden with their booty.

It is to be hoped that a better day is dawning for North African Jews. The Governments of France and England can do much for them in Morocco.

The Jews of the Atlas formed the subject of some of Mr. Davidson’s literary labours; I have made further inquiries and shall give the reader some account of them, adding that portion of Mr. Davidson’s information which was borne out by further investigation. The Atlas Jews are physically, if not morally, superior to their brethren who reside among the Moors. They are dispersed over the Atlas ranges, and have all the characteristics of mountaineers. They enjoy, like their neighbours, the Berbers and Shelouhs, a species of quasi-independence of the Imperial authority, but they usually attach themselves to certain Berber chieftains who protect them, and whose standards they follow.

These are the only Jews in Mahometan countries of whom I have heard as bearing arms. They have, however, their own Sheiks, to whose jurisdiction all domestic matters are referred. They wear the same attire as the mountaineers, and are not distinguishable from them, they do not address the Moors by the term of respect and title “Sidi,” but in the same way as the Moors and Arabs when they accost each other. They speak the Shelouh language.

Mr. Davidson mentions some curious circumstances about these Jews, and of their having a city beyond the Atlas, where three or four thousand are living in perfect freedom, and cultivating the soil, which they have possessed since the time of Solomon. The probability is that Mr. Davidson’s informant refers to the Jews of the Oasis of Sahara, where there certainly are some families of Jews living in comparative freedom and independence.

As to the peculiarities of the religion of the Atlas Jews, they are said not to have the Pentateuch and the law in the same order as Jews generally. They are unacquainted with Ezra, or Christ; they did not go to Babylon at the captivity, but were dispersed over Africa at that period. They are a species of Caraaites, or Jewish Protestants. Shadai is the name which they apply to the Supreme Being, when speaking of him. Their written law begins by stating that the world was many thousand years old when the present race of men was formed, which, curiously enough, agrees with the researches of modern geology. The present race of men are the joint offspring of different and distinct human species. The deluge is not mentioned by them. God, it is said, appeared to Ishmael in a dream, and told him he must separate from Isaac, and go to the desert, where he would make him a great nation. There would ever after be enmity between the two races, as at this day there is the greatest animosity between the Jews and Mahometans.

The great nucleus of these Shelouh Jews is in _Jebel Melge_, or the vast ridge of the Atlas capped with eternal snows; and they hold communications with the Jews of Ait Mousa, Frouga or Misfuva. They rarely descend to the plains or cities of the empire, and look upon the rest of the Jews of this country as heretics. Isolation thus begets enmity and mistrust, as in other cases. A few years ago, a number came to Mogador, and were not at all pleased with their visit, finding fault with everything among their brethren. These Jewish mountaineers are supposed to be very numerous. In their homes, they are inaccessible. So they live in a wild independence, professing a creed as free as their own mountain airs. God, who made the hills, made likewise man’s freedom to abide therein. Before taking leave of the Maroquine Israelites, I must say something of their personal appearance. Both in Tangier and Mogador, I was fortunate enough to be acquainted with families, who could boast of the most perfect and classic types of Jewish female loveliness. Alas, that these beauties should be only charming _animals_, their minds and affections being left uncultivated, or converted into caves of unclean and tormenting passions. The Jewesses, in general, until they become enormously stout and weighed down with obesity, are of extreme beauty. Most of them have fair complexions; their rose and jasmine faces, their pure wax-like delicate features, and their exceedingly expressive and bewitching eyes, would fascinate the most fastidious of European connoisseurs of female beauty.

But these Israelitish ladies, recalling the fair image of Rachel in the Patriarchal times of Holy Writ, and worthy to serve as models for a Grecian sculptor, are treated with savage disdain by the churlish Moors, and sometimes are obliged to walk barefoot and prostrate themselves before their ugly negress concubines. The male infants of Jews are engaging and goodlooking when young; but, as they grow up, they become ordinary; and Jews of a certain age, are decidedly and most disgustingly ugly. It is possible that the degrading slavery in which they usually live, their continued habits of cringing servility, by which the countenance acquires a sinister air and fiendishly cunning smirk, may cause this change in their appearance. But what contrasts we had of the beauty of countenance and form in the Jewish society of Mogador! You frequently see a youthful woman, nay a girl of exquisite beauty and delicacy of features, married to an old wretched ill-looking fellow of some sixty or seventy years of age, tottering over the grave, or an incurable invalid. To render them worse-looking, whilst the women may dress in any and the gayest colours, the men wear a dark blue and black turban and dress, and though this is prescribed as a badge of oppression, they will often assume it when they may attire themselves in white and other livelier colours. However, men get used to their misery, and hug their chains.

The Jews, at times, though but very rarely, avail themselves of their privilege of four wives granted them in Mahometan countries, and a nice mess they make of it. I knew a Jew of this description in Tunis. He was a lively, jocose fellow, with a libidinous countenance, singing always some catch of a song. He was a silk-mercer, and pretty well off. His house was small, and besides a common _salle-a-manger_, divided into four compartments for his four wives, each defending her room with the ferocity of a tigress. Two of them were of his own age, about fifty, and two not more than twenty. The two elder ones, I was told by his neighbours, were entirely abandoned by the husband, and the two younger ones were always bickering and quarrelling, as to which of them should have the greater favour of their common tyrant; the house a scene of tumult, disorder and indecency. Amongst the whole of the wives, there was only one child, a boy, of course an immense pet, a little surly wretch; his growth smothered, his health nearly ruined, by the overattentions of the four women, whom he kicked and pelted when out of humour.

This little imp was the fit type, or interpretation of the presiding genius of polygamy. I once visited this happy family, this biting satire on domestic bliss and the beauty of the harem of the East. The women were all sour, and busy at work, weaving or spinning cotton, “Do you work for your husband?” I asked,

_The women_.–“Thank Rabbi, no.”

_Traveller_.–“What do you do with your money?”

_The women_.–“Spend it ourselves.”

_Traveller_.–“How do you like to have only one husband among you four?”

_The women_.–“Pooh! is it not the will of God?”

_Traveller_.–“Whose boy is that?”

_The women_.–“It belongs to us all.”

_Traveller_.–“Have you no other children?”

_The women_.–“Our husband is good for no more than that.”

Whilst I was talking to these angelic creatures, their beloved lord was quietly stuffing capons, without hearing our polite discourse. A European Jew who knew the native society of Jews well, represents domestic bliss to be a mere phantom, and scarcely ever thought of, or sought after. Poor human nature!

I took a walk round the suburbs one morning, whilst a strong wind was bringing the locusts towards the coast, which fell upon us like hailstones. Young locusts frequently crowd upon the neighbouring hills in thousands and tens of thousands. They are little green things. No one knows whence they come and whither they go. These are not destructive. Indeed, unless swarms of locusts appear darkening the sky, and full grown ones, they do not permanently damage the country. The wind usually disperses them; they rarely take a long flight, except impelled by a violent gale. Arabs attempt to destroy locusts by digging pits into which they may fall. This is merely playing with them. Jews fry them in oil and salt, and sell them as we sell shrimps, the taste of which they resemble.

On my return, I passed a Mooress, or rather a Mauritanian Venus, who was so stout that she had fallen down, and could not get up. A mule was fetched to carry her home. But the Moor highly relishes these enormous lumps of fat, according to the standard beauty laid down by the talebs–“Four things in a woman should be ample, the lower part of the back, the thighs, the calves of the legs and the knees.”

Some time ago, there were discovered at Malta various rude statues of women very ample in the lower part of the “back,” supposed to be of Libyan origin, so that stout ladies have been the choicest of the fashion for ages past; the fattening of women, like so many capons and turkeys, begins when they are betrothed.

They then swallow three times a day regular boluses of paste, and are not allowed to take exercise. By the time marriage takes place, they are in a tolerable good condition, not unlike Smithfield fattened heifers. The lady of one of the European merchants being very thin, the Moors frequently asked her husband how it was, and whether she had enough to eat, hinting broadly that he starved her.

On the other hand, two or three of the merchant’s wives were exceedingly stout, and of course great favourites with the men folks of this city.

The discrepancies of age, in married people, is most unnatural and disgusting; whilst the merchants were at Morocco, a little girl of nine years of age was married to a man upwards of fifty. Ten and eleven is a common age for girls to be married. Much has been said of the reverence of children for their parents in the East, and tribes of people migrating therefrom, and the fifth commandment embodies the sentiment of the Eastern world. But there is little of this in Mogador; a European Jewess, who knows all the respectable Jewish and many of the Moorish families, assured me that children make their aged parents work for them, as long as the poor creatures can. “Honour thy father and thy mother,” is quite as much neglected here as in Europe. However, there is some difference. The indigent Moors and Jews maintain their aged parents in their own homes, and we English Christian shut up ours in the Union Bastiles.

To continue this domestic picture, the marriage settlements, especially among the Jews, are ticklish and brittle things, as to money or other mercenary arrangements.

A match is often broken off, because a lamp of the value of four dollars has been substituted for one of the value of twenty dollars, which was first promised on the happy day of betrothal.

Indeed, nearly all marriages here are matters of sale and barter. Love is out of the question, he never flutters his purple wings over the bridal bed of Mogador. A Jewish or Moorish girl having placed before her a rich, old ugly man, of mean and villanous character, of three score years and upwards, and by his side, a handsome youth of blameless character and amiable manners, will not hesitate a moment to prefer the former. As affairs of intrigue and simple animal enjoyment are the great business of life, the ways and means, in spite of Moorish and Mahometan jealousy, as strong as death, by which these young and frail beauties indulge in forbidden conversations, are innumerable. Although the Moors frequently relate romantic legends of lovely innocent brides, who had never seen any other than the faces of their father, or of married ladies, who never raised the veil from off their faces, except to receive their own husbands, and seem to extol such chastity and seclusion; they are too frequently found indulging in obscene imaginations, tempting and seducing the weaker sex from the path of virtue and honour. So that, if women are unchaste here, or elsewhere, men are the more to blame: if woman goes one step wrong, men drag her two more. Men corrupt women, and then punish her for being corrupt, depriving them of their natural and unalienable rights.

Salt in Africa as in Europe is a domestic superstition. A Jewess, one morning, in bidding adieu to her friends, put her fingers into a salt-cellar, and took from it a large pinch of salt, which her friend told me afterwards was to preserve her from the evil one. Salt is also used for a similar important purpose, when, during the night, a person is obliged to pass from one room into another in the dark. It would be an entertaining task to collect the manifold superstitions in different parts of the world, respecting this essential ingredient of human food.

The habit of drinking white brandy, stimulates the immorality of this Maroquine society. The Jews are the great factors of this _acqua ardiente_, its Spanish and general name. Government frequently severely punishes them for making it; but they still persevere in producing this incentive to intoxication and crime. In all parts of the world, the most degraded classes are the factors of the means of vice for the higher orders of society. Moors drink it under protest, that it is not the juice of the grape. On the Sabbath, the Jewish families are all flushed, excited, and tormented by this evil spirit; but when the highest enjoyments of intellect are denied to men, they must and will seek the lower and beastly gratifications.

Friend Cohen came in one afternoon, and related several anecdotes of the Maroquine Court. When Dr. Brown was attending the Sultan, the Vizier managed to get hold of his cocked hat, and placing it upon his head, strutted about in the royal gardens. Whilst performing this feat before several attendants, the Sultan suddenly made his appearance in the midst of them. The minister seeing him, fell down in a fright and a fit. His Imperial Highness beckoned to the minister in such woful plight, to pacify himself, and put his cloak before his mouth to prevent any one from seeing him laugh at the minister, which he did most immoderately.

Cohen, who is a quack, was once consulted on a case of the harem. Cohen pleaded ignorance, God had not given him the wit; he could do nothing for the patient of his Imperial Highness. This was very politic of Cohen, for another quack, a Moor, had just been consulted, and had had his head taken off, for not being successful in the remedies he prescribed. There would not be quite so much medicine administered among us, weak, cracky, crazy mortals, in this cold damp clime, if such an alternative was proposed to our practitioners.


The Maroquine dynasties.–Family of the Shereefian Monarchs.–Personal appearances and character of Muley Abd Errahman.–Refutation of the charge of human sacrifices against the Moorish Princes.–Genealogy of the reigning dynasty of Morocco.–The tyraufc Yezeed, (half Irish).–Muley Suleiman, the “The Shereeff of Shereefs.”–Diplomatic relations of the Emperor of Morocco with European Powers.–Muley Ismael enamoured with the French Princess de Conti.–Rival diplomacy of France and England near the Maroquine Court.–Mr. Hay’s correspondence with this Court on the Slave-trade.–Treaties between Great Britain and Morocco; how defective and requiring amendment.–Unwritten engagements.

Morocco, an immense and unwieldly remnant of the monarchies formed by the Saracens, or first Arabian conquerors of Africa, has had a series of dynasties terminating in that of the Shereefs.

1st. The Edristees (pure Saracens,) their capital was Fez, founded by their great progenitor, Edrio. The dynasty began in A.D. 789, and continued to 908.

2nd. The Fatamites (also Saracens.) These conquered Egypt, and were the faction of or lineal descendants of the daughter of the Prophet, the beautiful pearl-like Fatima, succeeding to the above: this dynasty continued to 972.

3rd. The Zuheirites (Zeirities, or Zereids) were usurpers of the former conquerors; their dynasty terminated in 1070.

4th. Moravedi (or Marabouteen,) that is to say, Marabouts, [2] who rose into consequence about 1050, and their first prince was Aberbekr Omer El Lamethounx, a native of Sous. Their dynasty terminated in 1149.

5th. The Almohades. These are supposed to be sprung from the Berber tribes. They conquered all North Western Morocco, and reigned about one hundred years, the dynasty terminated in 1269.

6th. The Merinites. These in 1250 subjugated the kingdoms of Fez and Morocco; and in 1480 their dynasty terminated with the Shereef.

7th. The Oatagi (or Ouatasi) [3] were a tribe of obscure origin. In their time, the Portuguese established themselves on the coast of Morocco; their dynasty ended in 1550.

8th. The Shereefs (Oulad Ali) of the present dynasty, whose founder was Hasein, have now occupied the Imperial throne more than three centuries. This family of Shereefs came from the neighbourhood of Medina in Arabia, and succeeded to the empire of Morocco by a series of usurpations. They are divided into two branches, the Sherfah Hoseinee, so named from the founder of the dynasty, who began to reign at Taroudant and Morocco in 1524, and over all the empire in 1550, and the Sherfah El Fileli, or Tafilett, whose ancestor was Muley Shereef Ben Ali-el-Hoseinee, and assumed sovereign power at Tafilett in 1648, from which country he extended his authority over all the provinces of that empire. Thus the Shereefs began their reign in the middle of the seventeenth century, and have now wielded the sword of the Prophet as Caliph of the West these last two hundred years. I have not heard that there is anywhere a dynasty of Shereefs except in this country. They are, therefore, profoundly venerated by all true Mussulmen. It was a great error to suppose that Abd-el-Kader could have succeeded in dethroning the Emperor during the hostilities of the Emir against the lineal representative of the Prophet. Abd-el-Kader is a marabout warrior, greatly revered and idolized by all enthusiastic Mussulmen throughout North Africa, more especially in Morocco, the _terre classique_ of holy-fighting men; but though the Maroquines were disaffected, groaning under the avarice of their Shereefian Lord, and occasionally do revolt, nevertheless they would not deliberately set aside the dynasty of the Shereefs, the veritable root and branch of the Prophet of God, for an adventurer of other blood, however powerful in arms and in sanctity.

Morocco is the only independent Mussulman kingdom remaining, founded by the Saracens when they conquered North Africa. Tunis and Tripoli are regencies of the Port of Tunis, having an hereditary Bey, while Tripoli is a simple Pasha, removable at pleasure. Algeria has now become an integral portion of France by the Republic.

Muley Abd Errahman was nominated to the throne by the solemn and dying request of his uncle, Muley Suleiman, to the detriment of his own children.

He belonged to one of the most illustrious branches of the reigning dynasty. In the natural order of succession, he ought to have taken possession of the Shereefian crown at the end of the last age; but, being a child, his uncle was preferred; for Mahometan sovereigns and empire are exposed to convulsions enough, without the additional dangers and elements of strife attendant on regencies.

In transmitting the sceptre to him, Muley Suleiman, therefore, only performed an act of justice.

Muley Abd Errahman, during his long reign, rendered the imperial authority more solid than formerly, and established a species of conservative government in a semi-barbarous country, and exposed to continual commotions, like all Asiatic and African states. In governing the multitudinous and heterogeneous tribes of his empire, his grand maxim has ever been, like Austria, with her various states and hostile interests of different people, “Divide et empera.” When will sovereigns learn to govern their people upon principles of homogenity of interests, natural good will, and fraternal feeling? Alas! we have reason to fear, never. It seems nations are to be governed always by setting up one portion of the people against the other.

Muley Abd Errahman was chosen by his uncle, on account of his pacific and frugal habits, educated as he was by being made in early life the administrator of the customs in Mogador, and as a prince likely to preserve and consolidate the empire. The anticipations of the uncle have been abundantly realized by the nephew, for Muley Abd Errahman, with the exception of the short period of the French hostilities, (which was not his own work and happened in spite of him), has preserved the intact without, and quiet during the many years he has occupied the throne.

His Moorish Majesty, who is advanced in life, is a man of middle stature. He has dark and expressive eyes, and, as already observed, is a mulatto of a fifth caste. Colour excites no prejudices either in the sovereign or in the subject. This Emperor is so simple in his habits and dress, that he can only be distinguished from his officers and governors of provinces by the _thall_, or parasol, the Shereefian emblem of royalty. The Emperor’s son, when out on a military expedition, is also honoured by the presence of the Imperial parasol, which was found in Sidi Mohammed’s tent at the Battle of Isly. Muley Abd Errahman is not given to excesses of any kind, (unless avarice is so considered), though his three harems of Fas, Miknas, and Morocco may be _stocked_, or more politely, adorned, with a thousand ladies or so, and the treasures of the empire are at his disposal. He is not a man of blood; [4] he rarely decapitates a minister or a governor, notwithstanding that he frequently confiscates their property, and sometimes imprisons them to discover their treasures, and drain them of their last farthing. The Emperor lives on good terms with the rest of his family. He has one son, Governor of Fez (Sidi Mohammed), and another son, Governor of Rabat. The greater part of the royal family reside at Tafilett, the ancient country of the _Sherfah_, or Shereefs, and is still especially appropriated for their residence. Ali Bey reported as the information of his time, that there were at Tafilett no less than two thousand Shereefs, who all pretended to have a right to the throne of Morocco, and who, for that reasons enjoyed certain gratifications paid them by the reigning Sultan. He adds that, during an interregnum, many of them took up arms and threw the empire into anarchy. This state of things is happily past, and, as to the number of the Shereefs at Tafilett, all that we know is, there is a small fortified town, inhabited entirely by Shereefs, living in moderate, if not impoverished circumstances.

The Shereefian Sultans of Morocco are not only the successors of the Arabian Sovereigns of Spain, but may justly dispute the Caliphat with the Osmanlis, or Turkish Sultans. Their right to be the chiefs of Islamism is better founded than the pretended Apostolic successors at Rome, who, in matters of religion, they in some points resemble.

I introduce here, with some unimportant variations, a translation from Graeberg de Hemso of the Imperial Shereefian pedigree, to correspond with the genealogical tableaux, which the reader will find in succeeding pages, of the Moorish dynasties of Tunis and Tripoli.


1. Ali-Ben-Abou-Thaleb; died in 661 of the Christian Era; surnamed “The accepted of God,” of the most ancient tribe of Hashem, and husband of Fatima, styled Ey-Zarah, or, “The Pearl,” only daughter of Mahomet.

2. Hosein, or El-Hosein-es-Sebet, _i.e._ “The Nephew;” died in 1680; from him was derived the patronymic El-Hoseinee, which all the Shereefs bear,

3. Hasan-el-Muthna, _i.e._ “The Striker;” died in 719; brother of Mohammed, from whom pretended to descend, in the 16th degree, Mohammed Ben Tumert, founder of the dynasty of the Almohadi, in 1120.

4. Abdullah-el-Kamel, _i.e._ “The Perfect;” in 752, father of Edris, the progenitor or founder of the dynasty of the Edristi in Morocco, and who had six brothers.

5. Mohammed, surnamed “The pious and just soul;” in 784, had five children who were the branches of a numerous family. (Between Mohammed and El-Hasem who follows, some assert that three gererations succeeded).

6. El-Kasem, in 852; brother of Abdullah, from whom it is said the Caliphs of Egypt and Morocco are descended.

7. Ismail; about 890.

8. Ahmed; in 901.

9. El-Hasan; in 943.

10. Ali; in 970, (excluded from the genealogy published by Ali Bey, but noted by several good authorities).

11. Abubekr; 996.

12. El-Husan, in 1012.

13. Abubekr El-Arfat, _i.e._ “The Knower,” in 1043.

14. Mohammed, in 1071.

15. Abdullah, in 1109.

16. Hasan, in 1132; brother of a Mohammed, who emigrated to Morocco.

17. Mohammed, in 1174.

18. Abou-el-Kasem Abd Errahman, in 1207.

19. Mohammed, in 1236.

20. El-Kaseru, in 1271, brother of Ahmed, who also emigrated into Africa, and was father of eight children, one of whom was:

21. El-Hasan, who, in 1266, upon the demand of a tribe of Berbers of Moghrawa, was sent by his father into the kingdom of Segelmesa (now Tafilett) and Draha, where, through his descendants, he became the common progenitor of the Maroquine Shereefs.

22. Mohammed, in 1367.

23. El-Hasan, in 1391, by his son, Mohammed, he became grandfather of Hosem, who, during 1507, founded the first dynasty of the Hoseinee Shereefs in Segelmesa, and the extreme south of Morocco, which dynasty, after twelve years, made itself master of the kingdom of Morocco.

24. Ali-es-Shereef, _i.e._ “The noble,” died in 1437, was the first to assume this name, and had, after forty years elapsed, two sons, the first, Muley Mahommed, by a concubine, and the second:

25. Yousef, by a legitimate wife; he retired into Arabia, where he died in 1485. It was said of Yousef, that no child was born to him until his eightieth year, when he had five children, the first born of which was,

26. Ali, who died in 1527, and had at least, eighty male children.

27. Mohammed, in 1691, brother of Muley Meherrez, a famous brigand, and afterwards a king of Tafilett: this Mohammed was father of many children, and among the rest–

28. Ali, who was called by his uncle from Zambo (?) into Moghrele-el-Aksa Morocco about the year 1620, and died in 1632, after having founded the second, and present, dynasty of the Hoseinee Shereefs, surnamed the _Filei_,

29. Muley Shereeff, died in 1652; he had eighty sons, and a hundred and twenty-four daughters.

30. Muley Ismail, in 1727.

31. Muley Abdullah, in 1757.

32. Sidi Mohammed, in 1789.

33. Muley Yezeed, who assumed the surname of El-Mahdee _i.e._ “the director,” in 1792.

34. Muley Hisham, in 1794.

35. Muley Suleiman, in 1822.

36. Muley Abd Errahman, nephew of Muley Suleiman and eldest son of Muley Hisham, the reigning Shereefian prince. [5]

In the Shereefian lineage of Muley Suleiman, copied for Ali Bey by the Emperor himself, and which is very meagre and unsatisfactory, we miss the names of the two brothers, the Princes Yezeed and Hisham, who disputed the succession on the death of their father, Sidi Mohammed which happened in April 1790 or 1789, when the Emperor was on a military expedition to quell the rebellion of his son, Yezeed–the tyrant whose bad fame and detestable cruelties filled with horror all the North African world. The Emperor Suleiman evidently suppressed these names, as disfiguring the lustre of the holy pedigree; although Yezeed was the hereditary prince, and succeeded his father three days after his death, being proclaimed Sultan at Salee with accustomed pomp and magnificence. This monster in human shape, having excited a civil war against himself by his horrid barbarities, was mortally wounded by a poisoned arrow, shot from a secret hand, and died in February 1792, the 22nd month of his reign, and 44th year of his age.

On being struck with the fatal weapon, he was carried to his palace at Dar-el-Beida, where he only survived a single day; but yet during this brief period, and whilst in the agony of dissolution, it is said, the tyrant committed more crimes and outrages, and caused more people to be sacrificed, than in his whole lifetime, determining with the vengeance of a pure fiend, that if his people would not weep for his death they should mourn for the loss of their friends and relations, like the old tyrant Herod. How instinctively imitative is crime! Yezeed was of course, not buried at the cross-roads, (Heaven forefend!) or in a cemetery for criminals and infidels, for being a Shereef, and divine (not royal) blood running in his veins, he was interred with great solemnities at the mosque of _Kobah Sherfah_ (tombs of the Shereefs), beside the mausoleums wherein repose the awful ashes of the princes and kings, who, in ages gone by, have devastated the Empire of Morocco, and inflicted incalculable miseries on its unfortunate inhabitants, whilst plenarily exercising their divine right, to do wrong as sovereigns, or as invested with inviolable Shereefian privileges as lineal successors of the Prophets of God! [6]

A civil war still followed this monster’s death, and the empire was rent and partitioned into three portions, in each of which a pretender disputed for the possession of the Shereefian throne. The poor people had now three tyrants for one. The two grand competitors, however, were Muley Hisham, who was proclaimed Sultan in the south at Morrocco and Sous, and Muley Suleiman, who was saluted as Emperor in the north at Fez. In 1795, Hisham retired to a sanctuary where he soon died, and then Muley Suleimau was proclaimed in the southern provinces Emir-el-Monmeneen, and Sultan of the whole empire.

Muley Suleiman proved to be a good and patriotic prince, “the Shereef of Shereefs,” whilst he maintained, by a just administration, tranquility in his own state, and cultivated peace with Europe. During his long reign of a quarter of a century, at a period when all the Christian powers were convulsed with war, he wisely remained neutral, and his subjects were happy in the enjoyment of peace and prosperity. He died on the 28th March 1820, about the 50th year of his age, after having, with his last breath declared his nephew, Muley Abd Errahman, the legitimate and hereditary successor of the Shereefs, and so restoring the lineal descent of these celebrated Mussulman sovereigns. The most glorious as well as the most beneficent and acceptable act of the reign of Muley Suleiman, so far as European nations were concerned, was the abolition of Christian slavery in his States. In former times, the Maroquine Moors, smarting under the ills inflicted upon them by Spain and breathing revenge, subjected their Christian captives to more cruel bondage, than, ever were experienced by the same victims of the Corsairs in Algeria, the stronghold of this nefarious trade.

The Shereefs have been accustomed to wrap themselves up in their sublime indifference, as to the fate and fortunes of Europe. During late centuries, their diplomatic intercourse with European princes has been scarcely relieved by a single interesting event, beyond their piratical wars and our complaisant redemptions of their prisoners. But, in the reign of Louis XIV., Muley Ismail having heard an extremely seductive account of the Princesse de Conti (Mademoiselle de Blois), natural daughter of the Grand Monarch and Mademoiselle de la Valliere, by means of his ambassador, Abdullah Ben Aissa, had the chivalrous temerity to demand her in marriage. “Our Sultan,” said the ambassador, “will marry her according to the law of God and the Prophet, but she shall not be forced to abandon her religion, or manner of living; and she will be able to find all that her heart desires in the palace of my sovereign–if it please God.”

This request, of course, could not be granted, but the “king of Christian kings” replied very graciously, “that the difference alone of religion prevented the consummation of the happiness of the Shereef of Shereefs.” This humble demand of the hand of the princess mightily amused “the Court of Courts,” and its hireling poets taxed their wit to the utmost in chanting the praises of the royal virgin, who had attacked the regards (or the growls) of the Numidian Tiger, as Muley Ismail was politely designated. Take this as a specimen,–

“Votre beaute, grande princesse,
Porte les traits dont elle blesse
Jusques aux plus sauvages lieux:
L’Afrique avec vous capitule,
Et les conquetes de vos yeux
Vont plus loin que celles d’Hercule.”

The Maroquine ambassador, who was also grand admiral of the Moorish navy, witnessing all the wonders of Paris at the epoch of the Great Monarch, was dazzled with its beauty and magnificence; nevertheless, he remained a good Mussulman. He was besides a grateful man, for he saw our James II. in exile, who had given the admiral liberty without ransom when he had been captured by English cruisers, and heartily thanked the fallen prince for his own freedom whilst he condoled with him in his misfortunes. But the Moorish envoy, in spite of his great influence, was unable to conclude the treaty of peace, which was desired by France. On his return to Morocco, the ambassador had so advanced in European ideas of convenience, or civilization, that he attempted to introduce a taste for Parisian luxury among his own countrymen.

As in many other parts of the Mediterranean, France and England have incessantly contended for influence at the Court of Morocco. Various irregular missions to this Court have been undertaken by European powers, from the first establishment of the Moorish empire of the West. The French entered regularly into relations with the western Moors shortly after us; their flag, indeed, began to appear at their ports in 1555, under Francis I. They succeeded in gaining the favour of the Moors whilst we occupied Tangier, and Louis XIV. encouraged them in their efforts to attack or harass our garrison. The nature of our struggles with the Moors of Morocco can be at once conjectured from the titles of the pamphlets published in those times, viz.

“_Great_ and _bloody_ news of Tangier,” (London 1680), and “The Moors _blasted_, being a discourse concerning Tangier, especially when it was under the Earl of Teviot,” (London, 1681). But, after the peace of Utrecht, conceding Gibraltar to England, and which more than compensated us for the loss of Tangier, the influence of France in Morocco began to wane, and the trade of this empire was absorbed by the British during the 18th century. Then, in the beginning of our own age, the battle of Trafalgar, and the fall of Napoleon, established the supremacy of British influence over the minds of the Shereefs, which has not been yet entirely effaced.

Our diplomatic intercouse has been more frequent and interesting with the Western Moors since the French occupation of Algeria, and we have exerted our utmost to neutralize the spirit of the war party in Fez, seconding the naturally pacific mind of Muley Abd Errahman, in order to remove every pretext of the French for invading this country. How we succeeded in a critical period will be mentioned at the close of the present work. [7] But this port, and our influence receiving thereby a great shock, I am happy to state that the latest account from this most interesting Moorish country, represents Muley Abd Errahman as steadily pursuing, by the assistance of his new vizier, Bouseilam, the most pacific policy. This minister, being very rich, is enabled to consolidate his power by frequent presents to his royal master, thus gratifying the most darling passion of Muley Abd Errahman, and Vizier and Sultan amuse themselves by undertaking plundering expeditions against insurrectionary tribes, whose sedition they first stimulate, and then quell, that is to say, by receiving from the unlucky rebels a handsome gratification.

The late Mr. Hay entered into a correspondence with the Shereefian Court for the purpose of drawing its attention to the subject of the slave-trade, and I shall make an extract or two from the letters, bearing as they do on my present mission.

From three letters addressed by the Sultan to Mr. Hay, I extract the following passages. “Be it known to you, that the traffic in slaves is a matter on which all sects and nations have agreed from the time of the sons of Adam, (on whom be the peace of God up to this day). And we are not yet aware of its being prohibited by the laws of any sect, and no one need ask this question, the same being manifest to both high and low, and requires no more demonstration than the light of the day.”

The Apostle of God is quoted as enforcing upon the master to give his slave the same clothing as himself, and not to exact more labour from him than he can perform.

Another letter. “It has been prohibited to sell a Muslem, the sacred _misshaf_, and a young person to an unbeliever,” that is to any one who does not profess the faith of Islam, whether Christian, Jew, or Majousy. To make a present, or to give as in alms is held in the same light as a sale. The said Sheikh Khalil also says, “a slave is emancipated by the law if ill-treated, that is, whether he intends or does actually ill-treat him. But whether a slave can take with him what he possesses of property or no, is a matter yet undecided by the doctors of the law.”

Another. “Be it known to you, that the religion of Islam–may God exalt it! has a solid foundation, of which the corner stones are well secured, and the perfection whereof has been made known to us by God, to whom belongs all praise in his book, the Forkam (or Koran,) which admits neither of addition nor diminution. As regards the making of slaves and trading therewith, it is confirmed by our book, as also of the _Sunnat_ (or traditions) of our Prophet. There is no controversy among the _Oulamma_ (doctors) on the subject. No one can allow what is prohibited or prohibit that which is lawful.”

These extracts shew the _animus_ of the Shereefian correspondence. To attack the Shereefs on this point of slavery, is to besiege the citadel of their religion, or that is the interpretation which they are pleased to put upon the matter; but all forms of bigotry and false principles will ultimately succumb to the force of truth.

It is necessary to persevere, to persevere always, and the end will be obtained.

I shall add a word or two on our treaties, or capitulations, as they are disgracefully called, with the Empire of Morocco, intimating, as they do, our former submission to the arrogant, piratical demands of the Barbary Powers in the days of their corsair glory. Our political relations with Morocco officially commenced in the times of Elizabeth, or Charles I; but the formal treaty of peace was not concluded until the last year of the reign of George I, which was ratified in 1729 by George II, and by the Sultan Muley Ahmed-elt-Thabceby “The golden.” Then followed various other treaties for the security of persons and trade, and against piracy. All, however, of any value, are embodied in the treaty between Great Britain and Morocco, signed at Fez, 14th June 1801, and confirmed, 19th January 1824 by the Sultan Muley Suleiman, which is considered as still in force, and from which I shall extract two or three articles, appending observations, for the purpose of shewing its spirit and bearing on European commerce and civilization. Common sense tells us that trade can only flourish where there is security for life and property. We have to examine, whether this security is fully guaranteed to British subjects, residing in and trading with the empire to Morocco, by the treaty of 1801 and 1824.

This treaty begins with consuls, and sufficiently provides for their honour and safety. It then states the privilege of British subjects, and more particulary of merchants, residing in, and wishing to engage in commercial speculations in Morocco. These privileges are, on the whole, also explicitly stated. Afterwards follows two articles on “disputes,” which clauses were amended and explained in January 1824, when the treaty was confirmed. These are:–

“VII. Disputes between Moorish subjects and English subjects, shall be decided in the presence of the English Consuls, provided the decision be comformable to the Moorish law, in which case the English subject shall not go before the Kady or Hakem, as the Consul’s decision shall suffice.

“VIII. Should any dispute occur between English subjects and Moors, and that dispute should occasion a complaint from either of the parties, the Emperor of Morocco shall only decide the matter. If the English subject be guilty, he shall not be punished with more severity than a Moor would be; should he escape, no other subject of the English nation shall be arrested in his stead, and if the escape be made after the decision, in order to avoid punishment, he shall be sentenced as a Moor would be who had committed the same crime. Should any dispute occur in the English territories, between a Moor and an English subject, it shall be decided by an equal number of the Moors residing there and of Christians, according to the custom of the place, if not contrary to the Moorish law.”

In the amended clause of Article VIII. We have for any complaint, substituted serious personal injury, and I cannot but observe that the making of the Emperor the final judge, in such case, is a stretch of too great confidence in Moorish justice.

Not that a Sultan of Morocco is necessarily bad or worse than an European Sovereign, but because a personage of such power and character, armed with unbounded attributes of despotism over his own subjects, who are considered his Abeed, or slaves, whilst feebly aided by the perception of the common rights of men, and imperfectly acquainted with European civilization, can never, unless, indeed by accident or miracle, justly decide upon the case of an Englishman, or upon a dispute between his own and a foreign subject; for besides the ideas and education of the Emperor, there is the necessity which his Imperial Highness feels, despot as he is, of exhibiting himself before his people as their undoubted friend and partial judge.

So strongly have Sultans of Morocco felt this, that many anecdotes might be cited where the Emperor has indemnified the foreigner for injury done to him by his own subjects, whilst he has represented to them that he has decided the case against the stranger. It is surprising how a British Government could surrender the settlement of the dispute of their subjects to the final appeal of the Court of Morocco in the nineteenth century, and, moreover, allow them to be decided, according to the maxims of the Mohammedan code, or comformable to the Moorish law! It is not long ago since, indeed just before my arrival in Morocco, that the Emperor decided a dispute in rather a summary manner, without even the usual Moorish forms of judicial proceedure by decapitating, a quasi–European Jew, under French protection, and who once acted as the Consul of France.

There is something singularly deficient and wrong, although to persons unacquainted with Barbary, it looks sufficiently fair and just, in the provision–“he (the English guilty subject) shall not be punished with more severity than a Moor could be,” fairly made? In the first place, although this does not come under the idea of “serious personal injury,” would the English people approve of their countrymen suffering the same punishment as the Moors for theft, by cutting off their right hand? Moors and Arabs have been so maimed for life, on being convicted of stealing property to the value of a single shilling! Who will take upon himself to enumerate the punishments, which may be, and are inflicted for grave offences? It may be replied that this stipulation of punishing British subjects, like Moorish, is only on paper, and we have no examples of its being put into execution. I rejoin, without attempting to cite proof, that, whilst such an article exists in a treaty, said to be binding on the Government of England as well as Morocco, there can be no real security for British subjects in this country; for in the event of the Maroquines acting strictly upon the articles of this treaty, what mode of inculpation, or what colour of right, can the British Government adopt or shew against them? and what are treaties made for, if they do not bind both parties?

In illustration of the way in which British subjects have their disputes sometimes settled, according to Articles VII and VIII, I take the liberty of introducing the case of Mr. Saferty, a respectable Gibraltar merchant, settled at Mogador. A few months before my arrival in that place, this gentleman was adjudged, in the presence of his Consul, Mr. Willshire, and the Governor of Mogador, for repelling an insult offered to him by a Moor, and sentenced to be imprisoned with felons and cut-throats in a horrible dungeon. However, Mr. Saferty was attended by a numerous body of his friends; so when the sentence was given, a cry of indignation arose, a scuffle ensued, and the prisoner was rescued from the Moorish police-officers. Mr. Willshire found the means of patching up the business with the Moorish authorities, and the case was soon forgotten. “All’s well that ends well.”

I do not say that the Moors are determinedly vindictive, or seek quarrels with Europeans; on the contrary, I believe the cause of the dispute frequently rests with the European, and the bona-fide agressor, some adventurer whose conduct was so bad in his own country, that he sought Barbary as a refuge from the pursuit of the minister of justice. What I wish to lay stress on is, the enormous power given to the Emperor, by a solemn treaty, in making him the final judge, and the imminent exposure of British subjects to the barbarous punishments of a semi-civilized people.

Article X is a most singular one. “Renegades from the English nation, or subjects who change their religion to embrace the Moorish, they being of unsound mind at the time of turning Moors, shall not be admitted as Moors, and may again return to their former religion; but if they afterwards resolve to be Moors, they must abide by their own decision, and their excuses will not be accepted.”

It was a wonderful discovery of our modern morale, that a renegade, being a madman, should not be considered a renegade in earnest, or responsible for his actions. Nevertheless, these unfortunate beings, should they have better thoughts, or as mad-doctors have it, “a lucid interval,” and leave the profession of the Mahometan faith, and afterwards again relapse into madness, and turn Mahometans once more, are doomed to irretrievable slavery, or if they relapse, to death itself; the Mahometan law, punishes relapsing renegades with death. This curious clause says, “that though being madmen, they must abide their decision (of unreason) and their excuses will not be accepted.” This said article was confirmed as late as the year 1824 by the plenipotentiary of a nation, which boasts of being the most free and civilized of Europe, and whose people spend annually millions for the conversion of the heathen, and the extinction of the slave-trade.

The last clause of Article IV also demands our attention, viz. “And if any English merchant should happen to have a vessel in or outside the port, he may go on board himself, or any of his people, without being liable to pay anything whatever.”

Now in spite of this (but of course forgotten) stipulation, the merchants of Mogador are not permitted to visit their own vessels, nor those of other persons which may happen to be in or outside the port. It is true, the authorities plead the reason of their refusal to be, “The merchants are indebted to the Emperor:” neither will the authorities take any security, and arbitrarily, and insolently prohibit, under any circumstances, the merchants from visiting their vessels. I have said enough to shew that our treaties (I beg the reader’s pardon, “capitulations”) with the Emperor of Morocco, require immediate revision, and to be amended with articles more suited to the spirit of the age, and European civilization, as likewise more consistent with the dignity of Great Britian.

The treaty for the supply of provisions, especially cattle, to the garrison of Gibraltar is either a verbal one, or a secret arrangement, for no mention is made of it in the published state paper documents. It is probably a mere verbal unwritten understanding, but, neverthelesss is more potent in its working than the written treaties. This is not the first time that the unwritten has proved stronger than the written engagement.


The two different aspects by which the strength and resources of the Empire of Morocco may be viewed or estimated.–Native appellation of Morocco.–Geographical limits of this country.–Historical review of the inhabitants of North Africa, and the manner in which this region was successively peopled and conquered.–The distinct varieties of the human race, as found in Morocco.–Nature of the soil and climate of this country.–Derem, or the Atlas chain of mountains.–Natural products.–The Shebbel, or Barbary salmon; different characters of exports of the Northern and Southern provinces.–The Elaeonderron Argan.–Various trees and plants.–Mines.–The Sherb-Errech, or Desert-horse.

The empire of Morocco may be considered under two aspects, as to its extent, and as to its influence. It may be greatly circumscribed or expanded to an almost indefinite extent, according to the feelings, or imagination, of the writer, or speaker. A resident here gave me a meagre _tableau_, something like this,

The city of Morocco 50,000 souls.
” Fez 40,000 “
” Mequinez 25,000 “
115,000 “

The maritime cities contain little more than 100,000 inhabitants, making altogether about 220,000. Over the provinces of the south, Sous and Wadnoun, the Sultan has no real power; so the south is cut off as an integral portion of the empire. Over the Rif, or the northern Berber provinces, the Sultan exercises a precarious sovereignty, every man’s gun or knife is there his law and authority. Fez contains a disaffected population, teeming some years since with the adherents of Abd-el-Kader. Then the Atlas is full of quasi-independent Berber tribes, who detest equally the Arabs and the Moorish government; finally, Tafilett and the provinces on the eastern side of the Atlas, are too remote to feel the influence of the central government.

As to military force, the Emperor’s standing army does not amount to more than 20 or 30,000 Nigritian troops, and all cavalry. The irregular and contingent cavalry and infantry can never be depended upon, even under such a chief as Abd-el-Kader was. They must always be fed, but they will not, at any summons, leave the cultivation of their fields, or their wives and children defenceless.

As to the commerce of the Empire, with fifty ships visiting Mogador and other maritime cities, the amount, per annum, does not exceed forty millions of francs, or about a million and a half sterling including imports and exports. Such is the view of the Empire on the depreciating side.

Another resident of this country gives the opposite or more favourable view.

The Sultan is the head of the orthodox religion of the Mussulmen of the West, and more firmly established on his throne than the Sultan of the Ottomans. His influence, as a sovereign Shereef, spreads throughout Western Barbary and Central Africa, wherever there is a Mussulman to be found. In the event of an enemy appearing in the shape of a Christian, or Infidel, all would unite, including the most disjointed and hostile tribes against the common foe of Islamism.

The Sultan, upon an emergency or insurrection in his own empire, by the politic distribution of titles of _Marabout_ (often used as a species of degree of D.D.) and other honours attached to the Shereefian Parasol, can likewise easily excite one chief against another, and consolidate his power over their intestine divisions. His Moorish Majesty, at any rate, has always actual possession in his favour; and, whether he really governs the whole Empire or not, or to the extent which he has presumed to mark out its boundaries, he can always proclaim to his disjointed provinces that he does so govern it and exercise authority; and, in general, he does succeed in making both his own people and foreign nations believe in his pretensions, and acknowledge his power.

The truth lies, perhaps, between these extremes. The Shereefs once pretended to exercise authority over all Western Sahara as far as Timbuctoo, that is to say, all that region of the great desert lying west of the Touaricks.

The account of the expedition of the Shereef Mohammed, who penetrated as far as Wadnoun, and which took place more than three centuries ago, as related by Marmol, leaves no doubt of the ancient ambition of the sovereign of Morocco. And although this pretension has now been given up, they still claim sovereignty over the oases of Touat, a month’s journey in the Sahara. Formerly, indeed, the authority of the Maroquine Sultans over Touat and the south appears to have been more real and effective.

Diego de Torres relates that, in his time, the Shereefs maintained a force of ten thousand cavalry in the provinces of Draha, Tafilett and Jaguriri, and Monsieur Mouette counts Touat as one of the provinces of the Empire. The Sheikh Haj Kasem, in the itinerary which he dictated to Monsieur Delaporte, says that, about forty years ago, Agobli and Taoudeni depended on Morocco. This, however, is what the people of Ghadames told me, whilst they admitted that the oases neither did contain a single officer of the Emperor, nor did the people pay his Shereefian Highness the smallest impost. The Sultan’s authority is now indeed purely nominal, and the French look forward to the time when these fine and centrally placed oases will form “une dependance de l’Algerie.”

The only countries in the South which now pay a regular impost to the Emperor, are Tafilett, limited to the valley of Fez, Wad-Draha as far as the lake Ed-Debaia, and Sous. The countries of Sidi, Hashem, and Wadnoun nominally acknowledge the Emperor, and occasionally send a present; but the most mountainous, between Sous and Wad-Draha, which has been called Guezoula or Gouzoula, and is said to be peopled by a Berber race, sprang from the ancient Gelulir, is entirely independent. In the north and west are also many quasi-independent tribes, but still the Emperor keeps up a sort of authority over them; and, if nothing more, is content simply with being called their Sultan.

Maroquine Moors call their country El-Gharb, “The West,” and sometimes Mogrel-el-Aksa, that is “The far West:” [8] the name seems to have originated something in the same way among the Saracenic conquerors, as the “Far West” with the Anglo-Americans, arising from an apprehensive feeling of indefinite extent of unexplored country. Among the Moors generally, Morocco is now often called, “Blad Muley Abd Errahman”, or “Country of the Sultan Muley Abd Errahman.” The northwestern portion of Morocco was first conquered; Morocco Proper, Sous and Tafilett were added with the progress of conquest. But scarcely a century has elapsed since their union under one common Sultan, whilst the diverse population of the four States are solely kept together by the interests and feelings of a common religion.

The Maroquine Empire, with its present limits, is bounded on the north by the Mediterranean Sea and the Straits of Gibraltar, on the west by the Atlantic Ocean and the Canary and Madeira Islands, on the south by the deserts of Noun Draha and the Sahara, on the east by Algeria, the Atlas, and Tafilett, on the borders of Sahara beyond their eastern slopes. The greatest length from north to south is about five hundred miles, with a breadth from east to west varying considerably at an average of two hundred, containing an available or really _dependent_ territory of some 137,400 square miles, or nearly as large as Spain; and the whole is situate between the 28 deg. and 40 deg. N. Latitude. Monsieur Benou, in his “Description Geographique de l’Empire de Maroc” says Morocco “comprend une superficie d’environ 5,775 myriametres carres, un peu plus grande, par consequant, que celle de la France, qui equivaut a 5,300.” This then is the available and immediate territory of Morocco, not comprising distant dependencies, where the Shereefs exercise a precarious or nominal sovereignty.

Previously to particularizing the population of Morocco, I shall take the liberty of introducing some general observations on the whole of the inhabitants of North Africa, and the manner in which this country was successively peopled and conquered. Greek and Roman classics contain only meagre and confused notions of the aborigines of North Africa, although they have left us a mass of details on the Punic wars, and the struggles which ensued between the Romans and the ancient Libyans, before the domination of the Latin Republic could be firmly established. Herodotus cites the names of a number of people who inhabited North Africa, mostly confining himself to repeat the fables or the more interesting facts, of which they were the object.

The nomenclature of Strabo is neither so extensive, nor does it contain more precise or correct information. He mentions the celebrated oasis of Ammonium and the nation of the Nasamones. Farther west, behind Carthage and the Numidians, he also notices the Getulians, and after them the Garamantes, a people who appear to have colonized both the oasis of Ghadames and the oases of Fezzan. Ptolemy makes the whole of the Mauritania, including Algeria and Morocco, to be bounded on the south by tribes, called Gaetuliae and Melanogaeluti, on the south the latter evidently having contracted alliance of blood with the negroes.

According to Sallust, who supports himself upon the authority of Heimpsal, the Carthaginian historian, “North Africa was first occupied by Libyans and Getulians, who were a barbarous people, a heterogeneous mass, or agglomeration of people of different races, without any form of religion or government, nourishing themselves on herbs, or devouring the raw flesh of animals killed in the chase; for first amongst these were found Blacks, probably some from the interior of Africa, and belonging to the great negro family; then whites, issue of the Semitic stock, who apparently constituted, even at that early period, the dominant race or caste. Later, but at an epoch absolutely unknown, a new horde of Asiatics,” says Sallust, “of Medes, Persians, and Armenians, invaded the countries of the Atlas, and, led on by Hercules, pushed their conquests as far as Spain.” [9]

The Persians, mixing themselves with the former inhabitants of the coast, formed the tribes called Numides, or Numidians (which embrace the provinces of Tunis and Constantina), whilst the Medes and the Armenians, allying themselves with the Libyans, nearer to Spain, it is pretended, gave existence to a race of Moors, the term Medes being changed into that of Moors. [10]

As to the Getulians confined in the valleys of the Atlas, they resisted all alliance with the new immigrants, and formed the principal nucleus of those tribes who have ever remained in North Africa, rebels to a foreign civilization, or rather determined champions of national freedom, and whom, imitating the Romans and Arabs, we are pleased to call Barbarians or Berbers (Barbari Braber [11]), and whence is derived the name of the Barbary States. But the Romans likewise called the aboriginal tribes of North Africa, Moors, or Mauri, and some contend that Moors and Berbers are but two different names for the aboriginal tribes, the former being of Greek and the latter of African origin. The Romans might, however, confound the African term berber with barbari, which latter they applied, like the Greeks, to all strangers and foreigners. The revolutions of Africa cast a new tribe of emigrants upon the North African coast, who, if we are to believe the Byzantine historian, Procopius, of the sixth century, were no other than Canaanites, expelled from Palestine by the victorious arms of Joshua, when he established the Israelites in that country. Procopius affirms that, in his time, there was a column standing at Tigisis, on which was this inscription:–“We are those who fled from the robber Joshua, son of Nun.” [12] Now whether Tigisis was in Algeria, or was modern Tangier, as some suppose, it is certain there are several traditions among the Berber tribes of Morocco, which relate that their ancestors were driven out of Palestine. Also, the Berber historian, Ebn-Khal-Doun, who flourished in the fourteenth century, makes all the Berbers descend from one Bar, the son of Mayigh, son of Canaan. However, what may be the truths of these traditions of Sallust or Procopius, there is no difficulty in believing that North Africa was peopled by fugitive and roving tribes, and that the first settlers should be exposed to be plundered by succeeding hordes; for such has been the history of the migrations of all the tribes of the human race.

But the most ancient historical fact on which we can depend is, the invasion, or more properly, the successive invasions of North Africa by the Phoenicians. Their definite establishment on these shores took place towards the foundation of Carthage, about 820 years before our era. Yet we know little of their intercourse or relations with the aboriginal tribes. When the Romans, a century and a half before Christ, received, or wrested, the rule of Africa from the Phoenicians, or Carthaginians, they found before them an indigenous people, whom they indifferently called Moors, Berbers, or Barbarians. A part of these people were called also Nudides, which is perhaps considered the same term as nomades.

Some ages later, the Romans, too weak to resist a vigorous invasion of other conquerors, were subjugated by the Vandals, who, during a century, held possession of North Africa; but, after this time, the Romans again raised their heads, and completely expelled or extirpated the Vandals, so that, as before, there were found only two people or races in Africa: the Romans and the Moors, or aborigines.

Towards the middle of the seventh century after Christ, and a few years after the death of Mahomet, the Romans, in the decline of their power, had to meet the shock of the victorious arms of the Arabians, who poured in upon them triumphant from the East; but, too weak to resist this new tide of invasion, they opposed to them the aborigines, which latter were soon obliged to continue alone the struggle.

The Arabian historians, who recount these wars, speak of _Roumi_ or Romans (of the Byzantine empire) and the Braber–evidently the aboriginal tribes–who promptly submitted to the Arabs to rid themselves of the yoke of the Romans; but, after the retreat of their ancient masters, they revolted and remained a long time in arms against their new conquerors–a rule of action which all subjugated nations have been wont to follow. Were we English now to attempt to expel the French from Algeria, we, undoubtedly, should be joined by the Arabs; but who would, most probably, soon also revolt against us, were we to attempt to consolidate our dominion over them.

In the first years of the eighth century, and at the end of the first century of the Hegira, the conquering Arabs passed over to Spain, and, inasmuch as they came from Mauritania, the people of Spain gave them the name of Moors (that of the aborigines of North Africa), although they had, perhaps, nothing in common with them, if we except their Asiatic origin. Another and most singular name was also given to these Arab warriors in France and other parts of Europe–that of Saracens–whose etymology is extremely obscure. [13] From this time the Spaniards have always given the names of Moors (_los Moros_), not only to the Arabs of Spain, but to all the Arabs; and, confounding farther these two denominations, they have bestowed the name of _Moros_ upon the Arabs of Morocco and those in the environs of Senegal.

The Arabs who invaded Northern Africa about 650, were all natives of Asia, belonging to various provinces of Arabia, and were divided into Ismaelites, Amalekites, Koushites, &c. They were all warriors; and it is considered a title of nobility to have belonged to their first irruption of the enthusiastic sons of the Prophet.

A second invasion took place towards the end of the ninth century–an epoch full of wars–during which, the Caliph Kaim transported the seat of his government from Kairwan to Cairo, ending in the complete submission of Morocco to the power of Yousef Ben Tashfin. One cannnot now distinguish which tribe of Arabs belong to the first or the second invasion, but all who can shew the slightest proof, claim to belong to the first, as ranking among a band of noble and triumphant warriors.

After eight centuries of rule, the Arabs being expelled from Spain, took refuge in Barbary, but instead of finding the hospitality and protection of their brethren, the greater part of them were pillaged or massacred. The remnant of these wretched fugitives settled along the coast; and it is to their industry and intelligence that we owe the increase, or the foundation of many of the maritime cities. Here, considered as strangers and enemies by the natives, whom they detested, the new colonists sought for, and formed relations with Turks and renegades of all nations, whilst they kept themselves separate from the Arabs and Berbers. This, then, is the _bona-fide_ origin of the people whom we now generally call Moors. History furnishes us with a striking example of how the expelled Arabs of Spain united with various adventurers against the Berber and North African Arabs. In the year 1500, a thousand Andalusian cavaliers, who had emigrated to Algiers, formed an alliance with the Barbarossas and their fleet of pirates; and, after expelling the native prince, built the modern city of Algiers. And such was the origin of the Algerine Corsairs.

The general result of these observations would, therefore, lead us to consider the Moors of the Romans, as the Berbers or aborigines of North Africa, and the Moors of the Spaniards, as pure Arabians; and if, indeed, these Arabian cavaliers marshalled with them Berbers, as auxiliaries, for the conquest of Spain, this fact does not militate against the broad assumption.

The so-called Moors of Senegal and the Sahara, as well as those of Morocco, are chiefly a mixture of Berbers, Arabs and Negroes; but the present Moors located in the northern coast of Africa, are rather the descendants from the various conquering nations, and especially from renegades and Christian slaves.

The term Moors is not known to the natives themselves. The people speak definitely enough of Arabs and of various Berber tribes. The population of the towns and cities are called generally after the names of these towns and cities, whilst Tuniseen and Tripoline is applied to all the inhabitants of the great towns of Tunis and Tripoli. Europeans resident in Barbary, as a general rule, call all the inhabitants of towns–Moors, and the peasants or people residents in tents–Arabs. But, in Tripoli, I found whole villages inhabited by Arabs, and these I thought might be distinguished as town Arabs. Then the mountains of Tripoli are covered with Arab villages, and some few considerable towns are inhabited by people who are _bona-fide_ Arabs. Finally, the capitals of North Africa are filled with every class of people found in the country.

The question is then where shall we draw the line of distinction in the case of nationalities? or can we, with any degree of precision, define the limits which distinguish the various races in North Africa? With regard to the Blacks or negro tribes, there can be no great difficulty. The Jews are also easily distinguished from the rest of the people as well by their national features as by their dress and habits or customs of living. But, when we come to the Berbers, Arabs, Moors and Turks, we can only distinguish them in their usual and ordinary occupations and manners of life. Whenever they are intermixed, or whenever they change their position, that is to say, whenever the Arab or Berber comes to dwell in a town, or a Moor or a Turk goes to reside in the country, adopting the Arab or Berber dress and mode of living, it is no longer possible to distinguish the one from the other, or mark the limitation of races.

And since it is seen that the aborigines of Northern Africa consisted, with the exception of the Negro tribes, of the Asiatics of the Caucasian race or variety, many of whom, like the Phoenicians, have peopled various cities and provinces of Europe, it is therefore not astonishing we should find all the large towns and cities of North Africa, where the human being becomes _policed_, refined and civilized sooner than in remote and thinly-inhabited districts, teeming with a population, which at once challenges an European type, and a corresponding origin with the great European family of nations.

North Africa is wonderfully homogeneous in the matter of religion. The people, indeed, have but one religion. Even the extraneous Judaism is the same in its Deism–depression of the female–circumcision and many of the religious customs, festivals and traditions. And this has a surprising effect in assimilating the opposite character and sharpest peculiarities of various races of otherwise distinct and independant origin.

The population of Morocco presents five distant races and classes of people; Berbers, Arabs, Moors, Jews and Negroes. Turks are not found in Morocco, and do not come so far west; but sons of Turks by Moorish women in Kouroglies are included among the Moors, that have emigrated from Algeria. Maroquine Berbers, include the varieties of the Amayeegh [14] and the Shelouh, who mostly are located in the mountains, while the Arabs are settled on the plains.

The Moors are the inhabitants of towns and cities, consisting of a mixture of nearly all races, a great proportion of them being of the descendants of the Moors expelled from Spain. All these races have been, and will still be, farther noticed in the progress of the work. The proximate amount of this population is six millions. The greater number of the towns and cities are situate on the coast, excepting the three or four capitals, or imperial cities. The other towns of the interior should be considered rather as forts to awe neighbouring tribes, or as market villages (_souks_), where the people collect together for the disposal and exchange of their produce. Numerous tribes, located in the Atlas, escape the notice of the imposts of imperial authority. Their varieties and amount of population are equally unknown. In the immense group of Gibel Thelge (snowy mountains), some of the tribes are said to have their faces shaved, like Christians, and to wear boots. We can understand why a people inhabiting a cold region of rain and mists and perpetual snow should wear boots; but as to their shaving like Christians, this is rather vague. But it is not impossible the Atlas contains the descendants of some European refugees.

The nature of the soil and climate of Morocco are not unlike those of Spain and Portugal; and though Morocco does not materially differ from other parts of Barbary, its greater extent of coast on the Atlantic, along which the tradewind of the north coast blows nine months out of twelve, and its loftier ridges of the Atlas, so temper its varied surface of hill and plain and vast declivities that, together with the absence of those marshy districts which in hot climates engender fatal disease, this country may be pronounced, excepting perhaps Tunis, the most healthy in all Africa.

In the northern provinces, the climate is nearly the same as that of Spain; in the southern there is less rain and more of the desert heat, but this is compensated for by the greater fertility in the production of valuable staple articles of commerce. Nevertheless, Morocco has its extremes of heat and cold, like all the North African coast.

The most striking object of this portion of the crust of the globe, is the vast Atlas chain of mountains [15], which traverses Morocco from north-east to south-west, whose present ascertained culminating point, Miltsin, is upwards of 15,000 feet above the level of the sea, or equal to the highest peaks of the Pyrenees. The Maroquine portion of the Atlas contains its highest peaks, which stretch from the east of Tripoli to the Atlantic Ocean, at Santa Cruz; and we find no mountains of equal height, except in the tenth degree of North latitude, or 18,000 miles south, or 30,000 south, south-east. The Rif coast has a mountainous chain of some considerable height, but the Atlantic coast offers chiefly ridges of hills. The coasts of Morocco are not much indented, and consequently have few ports, and these offer poor protection from the ocean.

The general surface of Morocco presents a large ridge or lock, with two immense declivities, one sloping N.W. to the ocean, with various rivers and streams descending from this enormous back-bone of the Atlas, and the other fulling towards the Sahara, S.E., feeding the streams and affluents of Wad Draha, and other rivers, which are lost in the sands of the Desert. This shape of the country prevents the formation of those vast _Sebhahas_, or salt lakes, so frequent in Algeria and the south of Tunis. We are acquainted only with two lakes of fresh or sweet water–that of Debaia, traversed by Wad Draha,–and that of Gibel-Akhder, which Leo compares to Lake Bolsena. The height of the mountains, and the uniformity of their slopes, produce large and numerous rivers; indeed, the most considerable of all North Africa. These rivers of the North are shortest, but have the largest volume of water; those of the South are larger, but are nearly dry the greater part of the year. None of them are navigable far inland. Some abound with fish, particularly the Shebbel, or Barbary salmon. It is neither so rich nor so large as our salmon, and is whitefleshed; it tastes something like herring, but is of a finer and more delicate flavour. They are abundant in the market of Mogudor. The Shebbel, converted by the Spaniards Sabalo, is found in the Guadalquivir.

The products of the soil are nearly the same as in other parts of Barbary. On the plains, or in the open country, the great cultivation is wheat and barley; in suburban districts, vegetables and fruits are propagated. In a commercial point of view, the North exports cattle, grain, bark, leeches, and skins; and the South exports gums, almonds, ostrich-feathers, wax, wool, and skins, as principle staple produce. When the rains cease or fail, the cultivation is kept up by irrigation, and an excellent variety of fruits and esculent vegetables are produced; indeed, nearly all the vegetables and fruit-trees of Southern Europe are here abundantly and successfully cultivated, besides those peculiar to an African clime and soil. In the south, grows a tree peculiar to this country, the Eloeondenron Argan, so called from its Arabic name Argan. This tree produces fruit resembling the olive, whose egg-shaped, brown, smooth and very hard stone, encloses a flat almond, of a white colour, and of a very disagreeable taste, which, when crushed, produces a rancid oil, used commonly as a substitute for olive-oil. The tree itself is bushy and large, and sometimes grows of the size to a wide-spreading oak. Not far from Mogador are several Argan forests. The level country of the north is covered with forests of dwarfish oak; some bear sweet, and others bitter acorns, and also the cork-tree, whose bark is a considerable object of commerce. In the Atlas, has been found the magnificent cedar of Lebanon. This tree has also been met with in Algeria, but only on the mountains, some forty thousand feet above the level of the sea.

In the South there is, of course, growing in all its Saharan vigour, the noble date-palm, and by its side, squats the palmetto, or dwarf-palm (in Arabic _dauma_). Of trees and plants, the usual tinzah, and snouber or pine of Aleppo, are used for preparing the fine leathers of Morocco. Many plants are also deleteriously employed for exciting intoxication, or inflaming the passions.

Morocco has its mines of gold, silver, lead, iron, tin, sulphur, mineral, salt, and antimony; but nearly all are neglected, or unworked. Government will not encourage the industry of the people, for fear of exciting the cupidity of foreigners. A Frenchman, a short time ago, reported a silver mine in the south, and Government immediately bribed him to make another statement that there was no such mine. At Elala and Stouka, in the province of Sous, are several rich silver mines. Gold is found in the Atlas and the Lower Sous. But this country is especially rich in copper mines. A great number of ancient and modern authors speak of these mines, which are situate in the mountainous country comprised between Aghadir, Morocco, Talda, Tamkrout, and Akka. The mines most worked, are those of Tedsi and Afran. At the foot of the Atlas, near Taroudant, is a great quantity of sulphur. In the neighbourhood of Morocco, saltpetre is found. In the province of Abda is an extensive salt lake, and salt has been exported from this country to Timbuctoo. Of precious stones, some fine specimens of amethyst have been discovered.

There are scarcely any animals peculiar to Morocco, or which are not found in other parts of North Africa. Davidson mentions some curious facts relative to the desert horse; “_sherb-errech_, wind-bibber, or drinker of the wind,” a variety of this animal, which is not to be met with in the Saharan regions of Tunis, or Tripoli.

This horse is fed only on camel’s milk, and is principally used for hunting ostriches, which are run down by it, and then captured. [16] The _sherb-errech_ will continue running three or four days together without any food. It is a slight and spare-formed animal, mostly in wretched condition, with ugly thick legs, and devoid of beauty as a horse.


Division of Morocco into kingdoms or States, and zones or regions.– Description of the towns and cities on the Maroquine coasts of the Mediterranean and Atlantic waters.–The Zafarine Isles.–Melilla.– Alhucemas.–Penon de Velez.–Tegaza.–Provinces of Rif and Garet.– Tetouan.–Ceuta.–Arzila.–El Araish.–Mehedia.–Salee.–Rabat.– Fidallah.–Dar-el-Beidah.–Azamour.–Mazagran.–Saffee.–Waladia.

Morocco has been divided into States, or kingdoms by Europeans, although such divisions scarcely exist in the administration of the native princes. The ancient division mentioned by Leo was that of two large provinces of Morocco and Fez, separated by the river Bouragrag, which empties itself into the sea between Rabat and Salee; and, indeed, for several centuries, these districts were separated and governed by independent princes. Tafilett always, and Sous occasionally, were united to Morocco, while Fez itself formed a powerful kingdom, extending itself eastward as far as the gates of Tlemsen.

The modern division adopted by several authors, is–

Northern, or the kingdom of Fez. Central, or the kingdom of Morocco. Eastern, or the Province of Tafilett. Southern, or the province of Sous. Some add to this latter, the Province of Draha.

Then, a great number of districts are enumerated as comprehended in these large and general divisions; but the true division of all Mussulman States is into tribes. There is besides another, which more approaches to European government, viz, into kaidats, or jurisdictions. The name of a district is usually that of its chief tribe, and mountains are denominated after the tribes that inhabit them. There is, of course, a natural division, sometimes called a dividing into zones or specific regions, which has already been alluded to in enumerating the natural resources of Morocco, and which besides corresponds with the present political divisions.

I. The North of the Atlas: coming first, the Rif, or mountainous region, which borders the Mediterranean from the river Moulwia to Tangier, comprising the districts of Hashbat west, and Gharet and Aklaia east. Then the intermediate zone of plains and hills, which extends from the middle course of the Moulwia to Tangier on one coast, and to Mogador on the other.

II. The Central Region, or the great chain of the Atlas. The Deren [17] of the natives, from the frontiers of Algeria east to Cape Gheer, on the south-west. This includes the various districts of the Gharb, Temsna, Beni Hasan, Shawia, Fez, Todla, Dukala, Shragno, Abda, Haha, Shedma, Khamna, Morocco, &c.

III. South of the Atlas: or quasi-Saharan region, comprising the various provinces and districts of Sous, Sidi Hisham, Wadnoun, Guezoula, Draha (Draa), Tafilett, and a large portion of the Sahara, south-east of the Atlas.

As to statistics of population I am inclined fully to admit the statement of Signor Balbi that, the term of African statistics ought to be rejected as absurd. Count Hemo de Graeberg, who was a long time Consul at Tangier, and wrote a statistical and geographical account of the empire of Morocco, states the number of the inhabitants of the town of Mazagran to be two thousand. Mr. Elton who resided there several months, assured me it does not contain more than one hundred. Another gentleman who dwelt there says, three hundred. This case is a fair sample of the style in which the statistics of population in Morocco are and have been calculated.

Before the occupation of Algeria by the French, all the cities were vulgarly calculated at double, or treble their amount of population. This has also been the case even in India, where we could obtain, with care, tolerably correct statistics. The prejudices of oriental and Africo-eastern people are wholly set against statistics, or numbering the population. No mother knows the age of her own child. It is ill-omened, if not an affront, to ask a man how many children he has; and to demand the amount of the population of a city, is either constructed as an infringement upon the prerogative of the omnipotent Creator, who knows how many people he creates, and how to take care of them, or it is the question of a spy, who is seeking to ascertain the strength or weakness of the country. Europeans can, therefore, rarely obtain any correct statistical information in Morocco: all is proximate and conjectural. [18] I am anxious, nevertheless, to give some particulars respecting the population, in order that we may really have a proximate idea of the strength and resources of this important country. In describing the towns and cities of the various provinces, I shall divide them into,

1. Towns and cities of the coast.

2. Capital or royal cities.

3. Other towns and remarkable places in the interior [19].

The towns and ports, on the Mediterranean, are of considerable interest, but our information is very scanty, except as far as relates to the _praesidios_ of Spain, or the well-known and much frequented towns of Tetuan and Tangier.

Near the mouth of the Malwia (or fifteen miles distant), is the little town of Kalat-el-wad, with a castle in which the Governor resides. Whether the river is navigable up to this place, I have not been able to discover. The water-communication of the interior of North Africa is not worth the name. Zaffarinds or Jafarines, are three isles lying off the west of the river Mulweeah, at a short distance, or near its mouth. These belong to Spain, and have recently been additionally fortified, but why, or for what reason, is not so obvious. Opposite to them, there is said to be a small town, situate on the mainland. The Spaniards, in the utter feebleness and decadence of their power, have lately dubbed some one or other “Captain-general of the Spanish possessions, &c. in North Africa.”

Melilla or Melilah is a very ancient city, founded by the Carthaginians, built near a cape called by the Romans, _Rusadir_ (now Tres-Forcas) the name afterwards given to the city, and which it still retains in the form of Ras-ed-Dir, (Head of the mountain). This town is the capital of the province of Garet, and is said to contain 3,000 souls. It is situate amidst a vast tract of fine country, abounding in minerals, and most delicious honey, from which it is pretended the place receives its name.

On an isle near, and joined to the mainland by a draw-bridge, is the Spanish _praesidio_, or convict-settlement called also Melilla, containing a population of 2,244 according to the Spanish, but Rabbi and Graeberg do not give it more than a thousand. At a short distance, towards the east, is an exceedingly spacious bay, of twenty-two miles in circumference, where, they say, a thousand ships of war could be anchored in perfect safety, and where the ancient galleys of Venice carried on a lucrative trade with Fez. Within the bay, three miles inland, are the ruins of the ancient city of Eazaza, once a celebrated place.

Alhucemos, is another small island and _praesidio_ of the Spaniards, containing five or six hundred inhabitants; it commands the bay of the same name, and is situate at the mouth of the river Wad Nechor, where there is also the Islet of Ed-Housh. Near the bay, is the ancient capital, Mezemma, now in ruins; it had, however, some commercial importance in the times of Louis XIV., and carried on trade with France.

Penon de Velez is the third _praesidio_-island, a convict settlement of the Spaniards on this coast, and a very strong position, situate opposite the mouths of the river Gomera, which disembogues in the Mediterranean. The garrison contains some nine hundred inhabitants. So far as natural resources are concerned, Penon de Velez is a mere rock, and a part of the year is obliged to be supplied with fresh water from the mainland. Immediately opposite to the continent is the city of Gomera (or Badis), the ancient Parientina, or perhaps the Acra of Ptolemy, afterwards called Belis, and by the Spaniards, Velez de la Gomera. The name Gomera, according to J.A. Conde, is derived from the celebrated Arab tribe of the Gomeres, who flourished in Africa and Spain until the last Moorish kings of Granada. Count Graberg pretends Gomera now contains three thousand inhabitants! whilst other writers, and of later date, represent this ancient city, which has flourished and played an important part through many ages, as entirely abandoned, and the abode of serpents and hyaenas. Gellis is a small port, six miles east of Velez de Gomera.

Tegaza is a small town and port, at two miles or less from the sea near Pescadores Point, inhabited mostly by fishermen, and containing a thousand souls.

The provinces of Rif and Garet, containing these maritime towns are rich and highly cultivated, but inhabited by a warlike and semi-barbarous race of Berbers, over whom the Emperor exercises an extremely precarious authority. Among these tribes, Abd-el-Kader sought refuge and support when he was obliged to retire from Algeria, and, where he defied all the power of the Imperial government for several months. Had the Emir chosen, he could have remained in Rif till this time; but he determined to try his strength with the Sultan in a pitch battle, which should decide his fate.

The savage Rifians assemble for barter and trade on market-days, which are occasions of fierce and incessant quarrels among themselves, when it is not unusual for two or three persons to be left dead on the spot. Should any unfortunate vessel strike on these coasts, the crew find themselves in the hands of inhuman wreckers. No European traveller has ever visited these provinces, and we may state positively that journeying here is more dangerous than in the farthest wastes of the Sahara. Spanish renegades, however, are found among them, who have escaped from the _praesidios_, or penal settlements. The Rif country is full of mines, and is bounded south by one of the lesser chains of the Atlas running parallel with the coast. Forests of cork clothe the mountain-slopes; the Berbers graze their herds and flocks in the deep green valleys, and export quantities of skins.

Tetuan, the Yagath of the Romans, situate at the opening of the Straits of Gibraltar, four or five miles from the sea, upon the declivity of a hill and within two small ranges of mountains, is a fine, large, rich and mercantile city of the province of Hasbat. It has a resident governor of considerable power and consequence, the name of the present functionary being Hash-Hash, who has long held the appointment, and enjoys great influence near the Sultan. Half a mile east of the city passes from the south Wad Marteen, (the Cus of Marmol) which disembogues into the sea; on its banks is the little port of Marteen or Marteel, not quite two miles distant from the coast, and about three from the city, where a good deal of commerce is carried on, small vessels, laden with the produce of Barbary, sailing thence to Spain, Gibraltar, and even France and Italy. The population of Tetouan is from nine to twelve thousand souls, including, besides Moors and Arabs, four thousand Jews, two thousand Negroes, and eight thousand Berbers. The streets are generally formed into arcades, or covered bazaars.

The Jews have a separate quarter; their women are celebrated for their beauty. The suburbs are adorned with fine gardens, and olive and vine plantations. Orange groves, or rather orange forests, extend for miles around, yielding their golden treasures. A great export of oranges could be established here, which might be conveyed overland to India. Altogether, Tetuan is one of the most respectable coast-cities of Morocco, though it has no port immediately adjoining it. Its fortifications are only strong enough to resist the attack of hostile Berbers. The town is about two-thirds of a day’s journey from Tangier, south-east. A fair day’s journey would be, in Morocco, upwards of thirty English miles, but a good deal depends upon the season of the year when you travel.

Ceuta is considered to be Esilissa of Ptolemy, and was once the capital of Mauritania Tingitana. The Arabs call it Sebat and Sebta, _i.e._, “seven,” after the Romans, who called it _Septem fratres_, and the Greeks the same, apparently on account of the seven mountains, which are in the neighbourhood. Ceuta, or Sebta, is evidently the modern form of this classic name. It is a very ancient city and celebrated fortress, situate fourteen miles south of Gibraltar, nearly opposite to it, as a species of rival stronghold, and placed upon a peninsula, which detaches itself from the continent on the east, and turns then to the north. The city extends over the tongue of land nearest the continent; the citadel occupies Monte-del-Acho, called formerly Jibel-el-Mina, a name still preserved in Almina, a suburb to the south-east.

In the beginning of the eighth century, Ceuta, which was inhabited by the Goths, passed into the hands of the Arabs, who made it a point of departure for the expeditions into Spain. It was conquered by the powerful Arab family of the Ben-Hamed, one of whom, called Mohammed Edris, invaded Spain, and, after several conquests, was proclaimed King of Cordova, in A.D. 1,000,

On 21st of August, 1415, the Portuguese conquered it, and it was the first place which they occupied in Africa. In 1578, at the death of Don Sebastian, Ceuta passed with Portugal and the rest of the colonies into the power of Spain; and when, in 1640, the Portuguese recovered their independence, the Spaniards were left masters of Ceuta, which continues still in their hands, but is of no utility to them except as a _praesidio_, which makes the fourth penal settlement possessed by them on this coast.

Ceuta contains a garrison of two or three thousand men. The free population amounts to some five or six thousand. It has a small and insecure port. Here is the famed Gibel Zaterit, “Monkey’s promontory,” or “Ape’s Hill,” which has occasioned the ingenious fable, that, inasmuch as there are no monkeys in any part of Europe except Gibraltar, directly opposite to this rock, where also monkeys are found, there must necessarily be a subterranean passage beneath the sea, by which they pass and re-pass to opposite sides of the Straits, and maintain a friendly and uninterrupted intercourse between the brethren of Africa and Europe. Anciently, the mountains hereabouts formed the African pillars of Hercules opposite to Gibraltar, which may be considered the European pillar of that respectable hero of antiquity.

Passing Tangier after a day’s journey, we come to Arzila or Asila, in the province of Hasbat, which is an ancient Berber city, and which, when conquered by the Romans, was named first Zilia and afterwards Zulia, _Constantia Zilis_. It is placed on the naked shores of the Atlantic, and has a little port. Whilst possessed by the Portuguese, it was a place of considerable strength, but its fortifications being, as usual, neglected by the Moors, are now rapidly decaying. [20] The population is about one thousand. The country around produces good tobacco. The next town on the Atlantic, after another day’s journey southwards, is El Araish, _i.e._, the trellices of vines; vulgarly called Laratsh. This city replaces the ancient Liscas or Lixus and Lixa, whose ruins are near. The Arabs call it El-Araish Beai-Arous, _i.e._, the vineyards of the Beni-Arous, a powerful tribe, who populate the greater part of the district of Azgar, of which it is the capital and the residence of the Governor. It was, probably, built by this tribe about 1,200 or 1,300, AD. El-Araish contains a population of 2,700 Moors, and 1,300 Jews, or 4,000 souls; but others give only 2,000 for the whole amount, of which 250 are Jews. It has a garrison of 500 troops. The town is situate upon a small promontory stretching into the sea, and along the mouth of the river Cos, or Luccos (Loukkos), which forms a secure port, but of so difficult access, that vessels of two hundred tons can scarcely enter it. In winter, the roadstead is very bad; [21] the houses are substantially built; and the fortifications are good, because made by the Spaniards, who captured this place in 1610, but it was re-taken by Muley Ishmael in 1689. The climate is soft and delicious. In the environs, cotton is cultivated, and charcoal is made from the Araish forest of cork-trees. El-Araish exports cork, wool, skins, bark, beans, and grain, and receives in exchange iron, cloth, cottons, muslins, sugar and tea. The lions and panthers of the mountains of Beni Arasis sometimes descend to the plains to drink, or carry off a supper of a sheep or bullock. Azgar, the name of this district, connects it with one of the powerful tribes of the Touaricks; and, probably, a section of this tribe of Berbers were resident here at a very early period (at the same time the Berber term _ayghar_ corresponds to the Arabic _bahira_, and signifies “plain.”)

The ancient Lixus deserves farther mention on account of the interest attached to its coins, a few of which remain, although but very recently deciphered by archeologists. There are five classes of them, and all Phoenician, although the city now under Roman rule, represents the vineyard riches of this part of ancient Mauritania by two bunches of grapes, so that, after nearly three thousand years, the place has retained its peculiarity of producing abundant vines, El-Araish, being “the vine trellices;” others have stamped on them “two ears of corn” and “two fishes,” representing the fields of corn waving on the plains of Morocco, and the fish (shebbel especially) which fills its northern rivers.

Strabo says:–“Mauritania generally, excepting a small part desert, is rich and fertile, well watered with rivers and washed with lakes; abounding in all things, and producing trees of great dimensions.” Another writer adds “this country produces a species of the vine whose trunk the extended arms of two men cannot embrace, and which yields grapes of a cubit’s length.” “At this city,” says Pliny, “was the palace of Antaeus, and his combat with Hercules and the gardens of Hesperides.”

Mehedia or Mamora, and sometimes, Nuova Mamora, is situate upon the north-western slope of a great hill, some four feet above the sea, upon the left bank of the mouth of the Sebon, and at the edge of the celebrated plain and forest of Mamora, belonging to the province of Beni-Hassan. According to Marmol, Mamora was built by Jakob-el-Mansour to defend the embouchure of the river. It was captured by the Spaniards in 1614, and retaken by the Moors in 1681. The Corsairs formerly took refuge here. It is now a weak and miserable place, commanded by an old crumbling-down castle. There are five or six hundred fishermen, occupying one hundred and fifty cabins, who make a good trade of the Shebbel salmon; it has a very small garrison. The forest of Mamora, contains about sixty acres of fine trees, among which are some splendid oaks, all suitable for naval construction.

Salee or Sala, a name which this place bore antecedently to the Roman occupation, is a very ancient city, situate upon the right bank of the river Bouragrag, and near its mouth. This place was captured in 1263, by Alphonso the Wise, King of Castille, who was a short time after dispossessed of his conquest by the King of Fez; and the Moorish Sultans have kept it to the present time, though the city itself has often attempted to throw off the imperial yoke. The modern Salee is a large commercial and well-fortified city of the province of Beni-Hassan. Its port is sufficiently large, but, on account of the little depth of water, vessels of large burden cannot enter it. The houses and public places are tolerably well-built. The town is fortified by a battery of twenty-four pieces of cannon fronting the sea, and a redoubt at the entrance of the river. What navy the Maroquines have, is still laid up here, but the dock-yard is now nearly deserted, and the few remaining ships are unserviceable. The population, all of whom are Mahometans, are now, as in Corsair times, the bitterest and most determined enemies of Christians, and will not permit a Christian or Jew to reside among them. The amount of this population, and that of Rabat, is thus given,

_Salee Rabat_
Graeberg 23,000 27,000
Washington 9,000 21,000
Arlett 14,000 24,000

but it is probably greatly exaggerated.

A resident of this country reduces the population of Salee as low as two or three thousand. For many years, the port of Salee was the rendezvous of the notorious pirates of Morocco, who, together with the city of Rabat, formed a species of military republic almost independent of the Sultan; these Salee rovers were at once the most ferocious and courageous in the world. Time was, when these audacious freebooters lay under Lundy Island in the British Channel, waiting to intercept British traders! “Salee,” says Lempriere, “was a place of good commerce, till, addicting itself entirely to piracy, and revolting from the allegiance to its Sovereign, Muley Zidan, that prince in the year 1648, dispatched an embassy to King Charles 1, of England, requesting him to send a squadron of men-of-war to lie before the town, while he attacked by land.” This request being acceded to, the city was soon reduced, the fortifications demolished, and the leaders of the rebellion put to death. The year following, the Emperor sent another ambassador to England, with a present of Barbary horses and three hundred Christian slaves.

Rabat, or Er-Rabat, and on some of the foreign maps Nuova Sale, is a modern city of considerable extent, densely populated, strong and well-built, belonging to the province of Temsna. It is situated on the declivity of a hill, opposite to Salee, on the other side of the river, or left side of the Bouragrag, which is as broad as the Thames at London Bridge, and might be considered as a great suburb, or another quarter of the same city. It was built by the famous Yakob-el-Mansour, nephew of Abd-el-Moumen, and named by him Rabat-el-Fatah, _i.e._, “camp of victory,” by which name it is now often mentioned.

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