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A MooK OF Barbart, 



^ y our iiey from Tripoli in Barbary 
to the City of Kairwdn. 

Author of ' TIte Land of tJte North Wind! 





The right of Translation is reserved. 

Digitized by the Internet Arcliive 

in 2007 witli funding from 

IVIicrosoft Corporation 


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Respected Reader, 

I AM led to hope that you will feel a cer- 
tain interest in the subject which is my excuse for 
trying your patience again. I have endeavoured 
to sketch the existing state of a portion of the 
country of the Moors, the race — to me the 
most interesting of all — which shed the light 
of civihsation on the Dark Ages of Europe. 
These notes are the result of two journeys into 
the region where the remnant of the Moors have 
their present abodes. I cannot hope, save per- 
haps in the case of the city of Kairw^n, to 
convey much original or novel information. 

A peasant once presented himself at the Third 
Section, or Secret Pohce Department, in St. 

viii PREFACE. 

Petersburg, and demanded a hundred roubles as 
the price of a certain communication. The money 
was promised on condition that the facts were 
not already known to the police. When the 
peasant had finished, the agent called his secre- 
tary from behind a screen, desiring him to bring 
such and such a document, and to read it aloud. 
It was the peasant's story word for word. Well, 
I can't make that out, he said aghast, as he went 
out : for I invented the story myself. The secre- 
tary had written behind the screen while the 
peasant spoke. In like manner, though I can 
take no credit for inventiveness, I am inclined to 
fear that the reader, turning to his bookshelves, 
may find much of the information I have to give, 
more solidly conveyed. 

To several gentlemen I am much indebted for 
kind recommendations : Messrs. Eye, Stephens, 
Wright, Newsome, Fraser, Young, and especially 
Mr. Murray and his son, who have contributed 
to make my task a pleasant one. Colonel Play- 
fair also helped me most kindly. I have to 


recognise the indulgence of the reviewers of a 
former account of very different scenes — from 
those who encouraged me to write again, to the 
one who remarked : We do not know any young 
man who has travelled so much as Mr. Eae, and 
seen so little. 

My journey was a solitary one. I had not 
the hardy and invaluable companion of Arctic ex- 
peditions, or the genial friends who have cheered 
so many rambles elsewhere. The journey was easy 
enough. To Kairwan alone I should not recom- 
mend a visit, without various precautions and a 
certain respect for the prejudices of the unalter- 
ing Faith of Mohammed. Even then, it is not 
unlikely that an accident might happen. 

Briefly, kind Eeader, as the old geographer 
Leo says in closing his Chronicle : These are the 
things memorable and woorthie of knowledge 
scene and obserued by me Eduard Eae in the 
Countrey of the Mores : wherein whatsoeuer I 
sawe woorthie the obseruation, I presently com- 
mitted to writing : and those things which I sawe 


not, I procured to be at large declared vnto me 
by most credible and substantiall persons, which 
were themselves eie- witnesses of the same : and 
so hauing gotten a fitte opportunitie, I thought 
good to reduce these my trauels and studies into 
this one volume. 



October 1877. 




Provence — The Junon — Sail for Malta — Stonn — Passengers — 
Sambo— Vale"tta — Franciscan Priest — Sail for Tripoli — The 
Circe — Expectations ........ 1 


The Tripolis — Its Origin and History — The Eomans — Vandals — 
Saracens — Spaniards — Knights of Jerusalem — Ottomans — The 
Bej-s 9 


Trablus Gharb — The City — Bazaars — Leo Africanus — Prepare for 
Journey to Lebda — Eecommendation — Annibale and Giovanni . 1 6 


Set out from Tripoli — Among the Palms — The Dellou — ^Tadjoura 
— The Desert — Eas al Hamra — We reach Djefdra — Reception — 
Accommodation — The Kaid — The Plagues of Barbary — Taphra 
— A Rencontre — Sidi Abd el Atti — Syrian Landscape — Weir- 
Country of the Bedouins— Ruins — Horns 25 




Received at the Castle — The Kaid — Murderers — Our Quarters — 
Ride to Lebda — Debris — Columns — Heat — Wadi Lebda — Group 
of Ruins — Temples — Severus — The Evil Eye — Triple Arch — 
Depredations — Lepide — Its Origin and History — A Legend of 
Leptis— The Gulf of Syrtis Major 35 


Return to Homs— A Deputation — The Kaid's Hospitality — Copper 
Coins — The Dead City — Start for Tripoli — Wearisome Journey 
— The Gharian — A Wedding — Djefara in the Twilight — The 
Owl-slayer — Continue Journey — Great Heat — The Mecca Cara- 
van — A Bargain — Tadjoura — The Hermitage — Frederick War- 
rington — The Times of the Beys — The Harbour — Mussulman 
Fanaticism — The Bazaars , . . 49 


The Pasha's Gardens — Ostriches — John Leo on the Naturall His- 
torie of Barbarie — Tombs and Coins — Giovanni incorruptible — 
The Triumphal Arch of Aurelian — Roman Numerals — Prayers 
for Rain — Offering to the God of Rain — Alteration of Plans— 
Cyrene in Prospect — The Cyrenaica ...... 62 


Evening Ride — Esparto Grass — Black Families — An Ingrate — The 
Allegra — Usury, Caravans, and the Slave Trade — The Pashalik 
of Tripoli — Resources — Fall of the Leaf — Charity — Arab Home 
— Outer Bazaars — Love Charms — The Sheikh el Biled . . 74 


Djemma '1 Basha — Djemma '1 Gordji — Djemma '1 Sheikh Bel Ain — 
Djemma '1 Sidi Dragut — Panorama — The Crescent City — Delu- 
sions — Productions and Misfortunes — Voiage of the lefus — The 
Genowaies 89 




The Jews' Quarter — The Place of Stoning — The Dyers — An Aus- 
tere Sentry — Bab el Djedid — Jeivish Reception — The Synagogue 
—The Murderer— The Dutch Consul— The Black Village— In 
the Palm Groves — Orange Garden — Essence Distilling — Fruit 
and Blossom — The Castle — ^A Eoman Lady — Bouba — The Circe 
—The Last of Tripoli . . . . , . . .08 


Malta — Cape Bon — Tunny Fishery — Goletta — Permquier — The 
City of Verdure — Preparations for Kairwin — Sketch of Tunis 
— Purchases in the Bazaars — Scenes in the City — EoseBuds and 
Orange Blossoms — Adopt a Young Moor — Braham the Silver- 
smith — The Bardo— The Great Aqueduct. . . . .109 


Bakkoush — His Antecedents, Career, Characteristics, and Accom- 
plishments — Old Times — Mosaics — Stroll through the City — 
Panorama — The Diamond Market — Sanctuaries — The Mosqu of 
the Olive Tree — Departure from Tunis 126 


Sail for the East Coast — Susa — Bazaars — The Sahel — Adrumetum 
— The Port of Kairwan — The Eevolution — Monastir — Lepti 
Parva — Eas di Mas — Mehdia — The Patriarke of Cairaoan — 
Salectum 138 


The Barbary Coast — The Khassir — Kerkeneh — The Flying Camp 
— Djerba — The Lotos Eaters — Skull Pyramid — Gulf of Kabes 
— Palus Tritonis 150 




Arrival at Sfex — Gale— A Mistake — A Deaf Mute — The Quarters of 
Sfax — Mosques — A Caravan of Dates — The Bazaars — Graceful- 
ness of Sfaxins — Environs — The City of Twelve Thousand Gar- 
dens — Slave Caravans — Street Auction — Costumes — The Great 
Mosque — A Tragedy — The Silversmiths — Bakkoush at Home — 
An Eccentric Dervish — A Modest Marabout — Ruins of Lebda . 161 


Embark on Corsica — Privations — Facts about Sfax — Sail for the 
North — Sponges of the Lesser Syrtis — The Oulad Azim — Octopi 
— Sponge Culture and Chicken Manufacture— Mehdia — Sardines 
— Arab Cemetery — Port of Mehdia — Turris Hannibalis — Relics 
of El Djem — A Moslem Companion — Monastir — Collectors — 
Susa . . .180 


Of the Great Citie of Cairaoan — Hutmen — Hucba — Muse — Con- 
quest of Andaluzia and Castilia — Site of Kairwan — Decline — 
Dr. Shaw on Kairw&n and its Mosque — Origin of Name — Its 
Sacredness and Exclusiveness — Plans and Preparations — A Re- 
commendation — Outfit — Disappointment 196 


Departure from Snsa — The Sahel — Bedouins — A Discovery in Na- 
tural History — Drought — M'seken — The Great Plain — Foot- 
prints of Pilgrims — The Great Minar — The Walls— Enter 
Kairw&n — Observations— Maledictions 210 




The Year of the Hejra 1292— The Kaid's House— Sidi Mohammed 
el Mour4bet— Hospitality — A Pervert — Supper a I'Arabe — 
Fanatical Mosquito — Visit the Kaid — The Bazaars — Curiosity 
and Precautions — The Tunis Gate —A Horse Sale — My Body- 
gu£ird — Progress to Citadel — Soldiers — Civility — The "Walls — 
Eough Usage 221 


The Great Mosque — Sketches — The Khasinah — Decaying City — 
Its Former Size — The Bazaars — Slippers — Marabouts — The 
Mosques — Tombs of the Saints — Curiosity — An Aspiration — 
The Suburbs —Djemma 1 Zituna — Yahtuli — Postern Gate . 236 


Moorish Calendar — Chronicles of the City — Okhbah — Conquest of 
Spain— Ibn Aghlab— The City's Decline 246 


The Frenchman — Servants — Soldiers — Ride round Walls — A fine 
Barb — The /\irican Mecca — The Haj — The Kaid's Predecessors 
— Colleges— The Renegade of Kairwan ..... 268 


The Bazaars — A Bargain— Mosque of the Three Gates — Tombs — 
— ^Measure the Great Mosque — Fanaticism — Details of Exterior 
—Sacred Well of Kafiyat— The Minar— The Courtyard— The 
Prayer Chamber — Its Interior — Columns of the Great Mosque 

— An Intrigue — Writing on the Wall 281 





Foundation of Kairwan — Its Mosque and Kibleh — Its Vicissitudes 
— Cordova — Constructions — Eaccadah — The Last of the Aghla- 
Lites— The New Mecca 292 


The Gate of Greengages — Measure the City — Ruined Bastion — 
Call to Prayer— The Citadel— A Mob— Leylet al Moolid— Elma- 
wahel — Imprecations — Form of City — An Incident — Opinion of 
the Bazaars — Prepare to Leave — Farewell to the Kaid — Last 
Night in Kairwan ......... 304 


Issue from the City — Traverse the Plain — Camp of Bedouins — 
Interview with Bedouin Ladies — Halt under Olive Trees — 
Kuined Tomb— Nablus — Hammamet — The Foudouk of Birlou- 
buita — The Dakkhul Promontory — The Lead Mountain — Sulei- 
man — Gulf of Tunis — Hammam 1 Anf — Ehades — Enter Tunis . 314 


A Hammam — A Negotiation — Leave Tunis — Footsteps of Bruce — 
A Touch of Nature — Sad News — The Last of Perruquier — 
Cape Carthage — The Malta Channel — A Swell — Cagliari — 
Amphitheatre — Antiquarian Museum — A Visit from Sards — 
The Colony of Tunis — Leghorn — An Incident — Genoa — Paris . 323 


A MOOR OF BARBARY Frontispiece 

Etched by Ldon Richeton. 

RUINED MONUMENT AT LEBDA . . . .To face p. 36 
Photographed and Etched by the Author. 


Etched by Edwin Edwards from the Author's Photograph. 


Photographed and Etched by the Author. 


Drawn and Etched by the Author. 


Etched by Lion Richeton from the Author s Sketch. 

Engraved from the Authors Drawing. 

Engraved from the Author s Drawing. 

MAP . 



Page 11, line 20, for Zobeir read Ibn Zobeir. 

„ 39, „ 14, for Windsor read Virginia Water. 

„ 83, „ 24, for knows read admires. 

„ 146, „ o, read:' Barth says Leptis means port. Tliere is a Hebrew 

root lapat, to enfold or encompass ; but no such word, I 

tliink, in Greek or Latin. 
„ 210, „ 3, for Arab read Moorish. 
„ 218, „ 13, for Arab read Arabic. 




Provence — The Junon — Sail for Malta — Storm — Passengers — Sambo — 
Valetta — Franciscan Priest — Sail for Tripoli^The Circe — Expec- 

It was a lovely morning as we entered Provence. 
It was the early spring : green leaves were sprouting, 
and the almond-trees were thick with blossom. Beside 
us was the swift Ehone, and eastward were the purple 
mountains with snow on them. We passed Orange and 
its beautiful Roman arch, Aries and its noble Colos- 
seum : and finally whirled into the busy town of Mar- 
seilles. In the train was a pleasant Englishman, also 
on his way to the Hotel du Louvre and to Malta. 

We walked down to the steamship office, and 
learned that the Junon would not sail until the 
following evening. We engaged our berths, and went 
down to see the steamer. 



On the second afternoon we went on board iheJunon, 
and for two hours watched the last cases marked Malte, 
Alexandrie, lowered into the hold by a terrible steam 
crane. At dusk we moved slowly out of the Joliette 
harbour, rounded the lightship, and were on our way 
over the luminous waters of the Central Sea. It was 
a dead calm : the sky looked very threatening. We 
steamed under the Chateau d'lf, and left the twinkling 
lights of the city behind. 

Towards midnight the wind burst upon us in a 
hurricane : the sea became wild and mountainous, 
great waves broke over our stern, and water poured in 
sheets down into our cabin. The doors and windows 
of the deckhouse were nailed up, and covered with 
boards and canvas. After a miserable night in the 
dark stuffy state-room, daylight came. Great green 
seas were sweeping aloft, breaking in a furious mass 
of foam, and burying the JunoTi's stern as if she 
could never rise again. 

It was scarcely dawn when we went on deck : the 
sky was bare of all but stars, every cloud seemed blown 
out of it. The gale was violent, the seas were prodigious. 
The wind, fortunately aft, drove us along fast, though 
we could hoist no sail. Nothing could be put upon 
the table : our negro steward, from Martinique, was in 
despair, his woolly hair stood straight on end ^ the 
plates and glasses clattered and smashed. His white 


teeth glittered as he clenched them, and he ground 
out sacres as if he had been educated in France. 

We were but few passengers, and if some of us had 
had a second opportunity of sailing in the Junon, 
there would have been fewer still. We had asked at 
the agency after our fellow-passengers. There were 
two English officers, the agent said, Messieurs Chol- 
melee and Maquintoche. Mackintosh, an especially 
pleasant fellow, was Lieutenant in the 71st High- 
landers, on his way to join his regiment ; and Chol- 
meley, a powerful young Yorkshire squire, was to be 
attached to the regiment for a few months. 

At daybreak on the third morning the gale had 
abated, and this day we could take our meals in the 

The captain was a jolly good-looking Frenchman — 
a Legitimist : his political discussions with the other 
officers were very entertaining, and he was as much at 
home and familiar with us as if he had taken us to 
Malta a dozen times. This want of stifiFness is a charm 
in a short acquaintance. A French story is told of 
an Englishman and a Frenchman, who met one rainy 
night in an inn, and sat before the fire drying and 
warming themselves. After one or two attempts at 
conversation, the Frenchman gave it up. Presently 
he stooped politely forward. * I beg your pardon, sir,' 
he said : ' some of the ash of your cigar has fallen on 

P 2 


your knee.' * Well,' said the Englishman, ' I don't see 
that it concerns you. Why, the tail of your coat has 
been on fire for the last half-hour, and I said nothing 
about it.' The steward. Sambo, tells us tales of Mar- 
tinique, but he refuses to sing us one of the old planta- 
tion songs. He has an excellent mouth for sugar-cane, 
but he says that it disagrees with him. As he eats the 
cane after sucking the sap, we are not surprised at this. 

At length we sighted, towards noon one day, the 
Island of Gozo : and late in the afternoon we were 
steaming into the entrance of the Grand Harbour of 

I was glad to find the Tripoli steamers Circe and 
Trahlus Oharb lying alongside of us, as we moored 
opposite to Fort St. Angelo. The Trahlus had sailed, 
but put back, owing to the heavy weather, which had 
detained many vessels in Malta. I landed, and drove in 
one of the inexpensive light carriages up to Dunsford's 

It is a curious city : with its narrow tapering 
streets, and innumerable flights of steps, tall yellow 
stone houses, and their projecting green wooden bays, 
mediaeval outlines of auberges and palaces — a sort of 
restored Rhodes. The bustling barefooted natives, with 
their yellow sunburnt skins, are the greatest busy- 
bodies in Europe. Accredited with the knowledge of 
all European languages, they scarcely know one. In 


their miniature world all mutual relations are defined 
in the shortest possible time, and with the most won- 
derful accuracy. They have been described as an ugly 
race of Catholic Arabs. English sentries were pacing 
in front of the guard-house : over which are the in- 
signia of England, with the dedication — To the great 
and unconquered Britain the love of the Maltese and 
the voice of Europe confirms these islands, a.d. 1814. 
There were sailors with broad collars and blue shirts, 
but not English faces : quick parties of redcoats : 
sounds of fife, bugle, and drum : baskets of violets and 
other flowers, and piles of golden oranges — all in the 
warm sunny air of the Malta spring. 

This City of the Knights, this surprising group of 
natural fortresses, is familiar to us all, but none the 
less remarkable and interesting. It is a magnificent 
possession for England, and probably will not be given 
up until the party who would have exchanged Gibraltar 
for Ceuta have acquired a little more importance. 

Passing down to the Marina, to learn the hour at 
which the Circe was to sail, I chanced to enter the 
church of the Franciscans. There were large numbers 
of people and priests, and a strong odour of incense and 
lighted tapers. In the centre of the church, amid a 
crowd of kneeling men and women, flanked by two tall 
rows of candles, stood a high catafalque, covered with a 
black and silver pall. Upon this reposed, in full sacra- 


mental robes and hat, a Franciscan priest. His eyes 
were closed, and his hands clasped on his breast. Poor 
old man, he died on the previous day, and this was his 
funeral service. On my return I saw a crowd passing 
up the Strada Eeale. The priest was being carried, 
just as he had lain in the church, to the catacombs of 
the Franciscans. 

At ten in the morning, with all the bells in Valetta 
clanging for church service, we steamed slowly out of 
the harbour, and set sail for the Country of the Moors 
Ahead of us was the Turkish boat, Trablus Gharh, ar 
older but faster steamer than the Circe, also bound foi 
Tripoli. It was a bright fresh day : and, light as th( 
little steamer was, she rocked but little on the sweP 
which remained from the gale. Mr. Said, who wa 
agent for the Circe in Tripoli, was on board : and with 
Captain Kirkpatrick, a bright worthy little seaman, to 
whom the owners had very kindly recommended me, 
the day passed quickly. The passage is often a bad 
one, Tripoli harbour being almost inaccessible in north- 
erly winds : and, instead of arriving in twenty- four 
or thirty hours, the steamers have to lie off for several 
days together, and even to return from within sight of 
the houses of Tripoli to Malta. 

Lest it should be imagined that I could regard this 
journey in the light of a holiday and a diversion, I will 
mention some of the requests which reached me from 


friends and from strangers before I left England. I 
can only recommend any future traveller to Tripoli to 
conceal his destination from his nearest relatives. This 
was from an old friend and travelling companion : — 

' Dear Rae : I send a list of a few things I wish 
you would get for me. Twelve inlaid hand mirrors, 
with mother-of-pearl and ivory : five or six essence 
cabinets, such as we found in Tunis and Cairo : two 
soft silk scarfs, of scarlet and plum colour : a set of 
coffee-cups and silver holders set in turquoise ; must be 
old : any blue and white china worth having : what- 
ever large pieces of silver-work — bracelets &c. — you 
don't want yourself. Some old embroidery. A brass 
Jewish lamp and a brass ewer and basin.' 

The next was from a gentleman of whom I had not 
had the pleasure of hearing before : — 'Sir : Hearing from 
a relative of yours that you are about to travel in 
Barbary, I venture to ask you to collect for me some 
shells and birds' eggs. Such and such shells exist in 
Barbary, and the eggs of such and such birds are to be 
met with. Pray be careful, in blowing the eggs, to do 
it only in the following way.' Then came a diagram of 
the only way in which I could be a successful blower of 
eggs. The next was from a gentleman distantly ac- 
quainted with a member of my family :— ' Sir : As I 
understand you are just starting for the North Coast of 
Africa, I should feel extremely indebted to you if you 


would spend for me fifty or a hundred pounds in old 
Oriental embroidery. Then followed many excuses and 
no directions, the matter being unfortunately left to my 

One friend asked for ten pounds worth of attar of 
roses. One merely wanted me to spend ten pounds for 
him on something or other. One asked for an old Tripo- 
line silver bracelet : one for a bottle-shaped gourd, to be 
set in silver filigree. Another modestly wished for a 
photograph of a lonely ruined column. I was asked to 
spend a hundred pounds in carpets : to bring ostrich 
feathers and a gazelle back with me : to proceed to 
the Atlas and report upon the Touaregs, one of the 
oldest races in Africa. Finally, I was very handsomely 
desired to buy for myself, as a present, the object which 
pleased me most in Tripoli. I can assure the reader 
that these commissions caused me much anxiety and 
uneasiness of mind. 



The Tripolis — Its Origin and History — The Eomans — Vandals — 
Sai-acens — Spaniards — Knights of Jerusalem — Ottomans — The Beys. 

Of the three capitals of the Tripolis — the region which 
obtained its name in like manner as the Decapolis and 
Pentapolis, and contained the cities of Leptis, or Nea- 
polis, Sabrata, or Old Tripoli, aDd (Ea, or New Tripoli 
— only the latter city remains. The cities of Leptis 
and Sabrata, one lying seventy miles east, and one 
forty-seven miles west from Tripoli, exist only as heaps 
of ruins. It is generally understood that, when the 
Phoenicians, driven from home by domestic strife, 
established these colonies on the northern coast of 
Africa, between the gulfs of the Greater and Lesser 
Syrtes — the country being more or less unproductive, 
the settlers had in view the creation of emporia for 
trade with the interior, in gold, gums, spices, ivory, and 
other precious articles. The frequency of oases in the 
country lying south of Libya Tripolitana, rendered 
it very suitable for such traffic, and its three seaports 
acquired wealth, refinement, and luxury. 

The building of Tripoli proper is attributed by 


some to the Emperor Severus : while the generally 
accurate geographer, Leo Africanus, declares that it was 
not built until after Old Tripoli had been captured by 
the Goths, and destroyed by the Mohammedans in the 
time of the Khalif Omar. This would injure Tripoli's 
claim to a decent antiquity, but the existence of a 
Eoman arch of the period of Aurelian refutes Leo. 
Phoenician inscriptions of the same period also exist. 

The founders of the Tripolis, as is well known, made 
settlements farther East — from Djerba to Algiers: and 
these Barbary provinces, having Carthage for their capi- 
tal, flourished after the Pentapolis had begun to decay. 
The sun of Phoenician Carthage set on the fatal plain 
of Zama, but Eoman Carthage rising from her ashes 
took the lead, and maintained it for six centuries. The 
limits of civilisation contracted as Roman power de- 
clined in Africa, and at length Valentinian called in 
the aid of the Vandal king. Those predatory bar- 
barians gladly overran and occupied the country. A 
series of desolating wars followed, in which the brave 
and able Belisarius eventually recovered for Justinian, 
who reigned in Constantinople, these African dependent 
cies : but their ruin was complete. Fresh wars under 
Solomon, the successor of Belisarius, had a similarly per- 
nicious result : Africa was desolated. The Vandals, once 
numbering a hundred and sixty thousand warriors 
alone, were extirpated. Of Berbers an infinitely 


greater number perished. When Procopius, historian 
of the Vandals, landed in these parts of Africa, he was 
astonished at the population and prosperity of the 
cities and country. In less than twenty years the busy 
scene was converted into a silent solitude. It is said 
that five millions of human beings perished in the wars 
of the Emperor Justinian. 

In the seventh century, during the rapid and 
astounding rise of Mohammedanism, the Arabians, called 
Saracens or Orientals — Sharak, East — turned their arms 
to the setting sun. Under the Khalifat of Omar, Okhbah, 
at the head of the Mohammedan army, traversed the 
desert of Barca, destroyed Leptis : and in the year 647 
appeared under the walls of New Tripoli. Gregory, the 
Carthaginian Prefect, appeared in relief of the city, and 
offered his daughter's hand and a hundred thousand 
pieces of gold for the Arabian Emir's head. On the 
Saracen side the same conditions were offered to the 
man who should slay Gregory, and in a bloody battle 
the Prefect fell. Zobeir, the Saracen chief who slew 
him, however, declared — probably after seeing the lady — 
that he laboured for a recompense above the charms of 
beauty or the riches of this transitory life. This may 
have been disinterested or not. 

The Tripolitans purchased the withdrawal of the 
Saracens by the payment of six million dollars. For 
which step the government of Byzantium reproached and 


taxed them, so that on the reappearance of the Saracens 
in 668, they welcomed both their government and their 
faith. Okhbah then overran the northern part of 
Africa, from Djerba to the Atlantic, and from the 
Mediterranean to the Great Desert : establishing his 
capital in Kairwan, thenceforth the seat of Mohammedan 
splendour and learning. Once the aboriginal races rose 
— Kabyles, Touaregs, Berbers of the Atlas — and 
under their Queen Cahina, drove the invaders into 
Egypt : but as they then set to work to destroy what- 
ever in the cities they considered tempting to an 
invader, the inhabitants invited the Arabians back, 
who definitely established their language and customs. 
After many vicissitudes, on the dissolution of the Kha- 
lifat, Tripoli became an independent Moorish state. 

In the year 1510, it fell into the hands of Fer- 
dinand the Catholic : but twelve years later Charles V. 
surrendered the city, together with Malta, to the Knights 
of St. John, whom the Turks had just expelled from 
Rhodes. The Ottoman Empire was in the zenith of its 
power: its corsairs infested the Mediterranean. The 
Knights strengthened and fortified Tripoli : but, after a 
short possession of less than thirty years, the Turkish 
corsairs, Sinan and Dragut, overcame them, and 
entered into possession of the city. Dragut Eeis 
was made Pasha, and governed Tripoli as part of Sultan 
Suleiman's dominions. 


During the next century and a half, but little is 
known of the Eegency or city. Pashas and Sanjaks, 
with a garrison for the castle, were sent from Constan- 
tinople to govern it, and its flag was a terror of the 
Inland Sea. After bombarding Goletta, Blake in 1655 
imposed a treaty on the Tripolines : for a breach of 
which Sir Cloudesley Shovel and Sir John Narborough 
attacked it in 1 655. 

In the year 1714, Hamet Pasha the Caramanian, 
with the Moors of the city, rose, and put the Turkish 
garrison to death — three hundred of them — in one 
night. Hamet was proclaimed independent ruler, and, 
sending large tribute to the Porte, he received recog- 
nition. He invited foreigners to settle in Tripoli, 
exerted himself to improve manufactures and industry, 
made treaties with the various foreign powers, subdued 
the mountaineers of the Gharian, conquered Fezzan, 
reduced the Cyrenaica, and acquired among his subjects 
the title of Great. Becoming blind, he is said to have 
shot himself, in the year 1745. 

Hamet was succeeded by his son and grandson — the 
latter being Ali Pasha, a mild and well-meaning man, 
whose life was embittered by his sons. These were Has- 
san, Hamet, and Yussuf : the latter murdered Hassan in 
the presence of their mother, and fought again and again 
with Hamet. In this state of civil war, the Turks took 
the city, and Ali and his family had to escape abroad. 


The Turkish governor, however, behaving with gross 
cruelty, was superseded, and Ali's family were re-estab- 

On the death of Ali, Yussuf became Pasha. Brute 
as he was, his views were broad and enlightened : he 
was anxious to remain on good terms with Europeans, 
and aiforded them facilities for exploring the Regency. 
He captured Murzouk, and established the slave trade, 
much to his own profit : he also entered largely into 
mercantile transactions. Tripoli had not yet washed 
its hands of piracy. Yussuf winked at it : indeed, his 
own fleet of eleven sail and a hundred guns did a good 
deal of business of the kind, under the command of the 
notorious Morat Reis — once Peter Lyle — a Scotch rene- 

In 1801, and thrice in 1804, American squadrons 
bombarded the city : on one occasion losing a frigate, 
the Philadelphia, which struck on the reef, and was 
captured by the Tripolines. In course of one desperate 
engagement the Moors fought splendidly — one half 
losing their lives : but the naval commander Moham- 
med Sous, for the loss of his ship, was paraded round 
the city on the back of an ass, and received five hundred 
strokes of the bastinado. In consequence of this unjust 
and brutal treatment, none of Yussuf's captains would 
put to sea. 

YuBSuf incurred debts, to enforce payment of which, 


Tripoli was successively bombarded by the Sardinians, 
Sicilians, and French. In 1832, Yussuf's sons rekindled 
the family feud : the city was besieged for a year : 
Yiissuf abdicated in favour of his second son. 

One day — May 20, 1835 — a Turkish squadron 
entered Tripoli harbour. The Pasha was enticed on 
board of one vessel under promise of protection, and 
there presented to ' Mustapha Nedjib Pasha, Governor 
of Tripoli.' The Sublime Porte has since nominated 
the Pashas of Tripoli — generally with a four years' 
tenure of office. 



Trablus Gharh — The City — Bazaars— Leo Africanus — Prepare for 
Journey to Lebda — Recommendation — Annibale and Giovanni. 

Early on the second afternoon we were off a white- 
walled town, having a black reef running out in front of 
it, over which the waves were breaking. We rounded 
the extremity of the reef, and cautiously entered the 
harbour, across the end of which the city wall stretches 
in almost a straight line, facing the rising sun. 
It has at one extremity the tall massive citadel, and 
on its seaward extremity a yellow fort, from which the 
reef extends to the north-east. Above the city wall 
stand flat-roofed houses, half-a-dozen minarets, and a 
single palm. In the harbour lay two steamers — the 
Trablus, and a Turkish war-steamer — and a dozen 
vessels of moderate size. Beyond the castle extends 
a white beach, with low walls and a few domes. 
Behind and beyond these, as far as the eye can 
reach, to the extremity of the little bay, stretches 
a vast and beautiful grove of palms. Thick, feathery, 
and green, they form a noble background to the city. 
The pilot, a good-looking sunburnt man^ came on 


board, and we steamed slowly in through the trea- 
cherous passages, which admit vessels only drawing 
sixteen or eighteen feet. The wind came whistling in 
from the east, the sky grew grey and thick, the waves 
curled and crested : the pale yellow sand, where camels 
and white-robed Arabs were pacing, was caught up and 
filled the air : the palm trees swayed and stooped 
and became enveloped in dust. We had only got in 
in time. A boat came off, pulled by four Arabs in 
striped cashabbiyehs, the anchor was dropped, and we 
were fairly in the harbour of Trablus Gharb. This 
city is Tripoli of the West : Tripoli of Syria is Trablus 
Shark, Tripoli of the East. 

A number of Tripolines were assembled on the little 
jetty to see us land, and we went through the comedy 
of passing the customs authorities, established in a 
shed. Captain Kirkpatrick pointed out to me a burly 
gentleman with a bronzed face. That is Mr. England, 
he said, who will be happy to receive you in his house. 
I made the gesture of remuneration. Certainly not, 
said the little captain : it would be an affront. Then I 
don't go, I said. You must, said the captain : there 
are no quarters available in the city. So I was in- 
troduced to my host, who expressed himself very hospi- 
tably : porters took my baggage on their shoulders, and 
we made our way through an old stone gateway up to 
the house, a few minutes' walk from the harbour. 



Mr. England's household resembled Eobinson 
Crusoe's : it consisted of a dog, a cat, a young goat, a 
few birds, an antelope, and a man Peppo. A Maltese 
gentleman, Dr. Camilleri, a very zealous antiquarian, 
lived with him. While all the news from Malta was 
being told, Mr. England's servant was preparing my 
room, the best in the house, which I was rather 
ashamed to monopolise. 

In the afternoon we sallied forth into the city, which 
is of the form of a half moon, or half octagon, mea- 
suring eight hundred and fifty yards by a thousand 
yards. It is surrounded by a high wall, flanked by six 
bastions, and has at one tip the castle, at the other the 
half-ruinous forts. The sea face runs in a gentle curve 
round the end of the harbour. 

Tripoli has three gates. Bab el Bahhr, the Sea Gate, 
by which we first entered : Bab el Meshiah, opening upon 
the sea beach under the castle walls: and Bab el 
Djedid, the New GTate, behind the Jew quarter, 
and leading to the Jewish cemetery. All the houses 
of Tripoli are of Moorish character. The Europeans live 
chiefly in the quarter between the harbour gate and 
the centre of the city. Behind this lies the Jew quarter. 
Between the European quarter and the bazaars lies 
the quarter of habitations, chiefly of the better classes. 
The city is much smaller than Algiers or Tunis. 
The population of Tripoli has been estimated variously 


at from twenty-five to fifteen thousand. Wars and plague 
have rendered the latter figure more probable : perhaps 
two thousand Turks, ten thousand Moors, two thousand 
Christians, and two thousand Jews, represent the ap- 
proximate present population. 

The bazaars occupy the southern end, under the 
wing of the castle. To reach them from the harbour 
gate, one traverses the European quarter and that of 
habitations. We entered the long blank white alleys of 
this neighbourhood, where flying buttresses overhead cast 
broad shadows whenever the sun is not in the zenith. 

We came, after a few turns, to the Turkish bazaar, 
the chief and broadest thoroughfare of the city. White 
walls on either side carried a rude roof, under which vines 
trailed, and through which the sunlight streamed. Here 
was a low Moorish gateway to a khan or fondouk, of 
which the interior was colonnaded. Many of the shop- 
fronts were painted blue. Here were the barbers and 
grocers, the silk and cotton merchants. The crowd was 
a picturesque one, though falling far short of a Tunisian 
crowd. Jews in dark blue turbans. Moors in white 
turbans, Turks in the fez, Arabs in brown rough barra- 
cans of undyed wool, with bare brown legs, wandered to 
and fro. Turkish soldiers in Zouave dress and gaiters 
strolled hand in hand. The barbers' shops were espe- 
cially neat, having gaily coloured racks for razors and 
combs, and clean matted divans. They had, too, old 

c 2 


hand-mirrors, inlaid with ivory and mother-of-pearl, 
and jars of leeches. In the cafes sat Moors, with 
clean turbans of straw-coloured silk and white stock- 
ings, while the attendants moved quietly about with 
brass trays and the little cups of scalding coffee. 

Parrots hung in cages, and leopard and jackal skins 
in some of the shops. Many houses had the Cairene 
wooden latticed windows, now, alas ! disappearing in the 
Egyptian capital. In cooks' shops Arabs were devour- 
ing yellow cakes, fried, by perspiring negroes, in copper 

Next came the blacksmiths' bazaar, the entrance to 
the Djemma '1 Basha, and the apothecaries" bazaar. 
We watched the shops of dates and milk, one of the 
most common resorts of the poorer classes : who found 
there their breakfast, and too often their dinner. The 
dates were pressed in esparto paniers, and fresh milk 
was constantly arriving in vessels borne by asses. 
Honey stood in vast jars — much of it comes from 
Candia — esparto baskets stood full of raisins, beans, red 
pepper, and ground corn for kouskousou. In an oil 
shop stood prodigious jars of olive oil, like those of Ali 
Baba, and one had only to travel to the silversmiths' 
bazaar, to find the forty thieves. Much of the oil 
comes from Zleitun and Imsellatah, among the Grharian 
hills. Sellers of oil, having asses laden with skins, 
passed us. 


Near the long colonnade of Djemma '1 Bash a is the 
flower market. Close by was a cafe, and on seats placed 
along the white steps, a crowd of soldiers in white 
linen were enjoying themselves. Facing the mosque 
were shops of ironmongers, with sheep-shears, flat 
horse-shoes, tin powder-horns, primitive shot-pans, and 
strings of cowrie shells brought from Tomboukto. 
Men were selling coarse quilted linen skullcaps ; boys 
carrying baskets of mulberry leaves and blossom were 
crying out for proprietors of silkworms. In an apothe- 
cary's shop hung ostrich eggs : a little farther was a 

We went out by the south-eastern gate on to the 
seashore. The great citadel wall at this point runs out 
like the bow of an ironclad ram, and forms the southern 
extremity of this city of the Moors. 

We rambled back along the harbour wall, and 
called upon Mr. Said, my fellow traveller from Malta. 
I visited Mr. Hay, our consul-general, who received me 
very kindly. I mentioned my wish to travel to Lebda 
— Leptis Magna — which lies about seventy miles east- 
ward, on the verge of the Grreater Syrtis, and Mr. Hay 
promised to obtain for me a letter of recommendation 
to the Kaids, or to commanders of forts. 

In the evening we went to the club, as it is called : 
a simple billiard room, where native merchants and 
Europeans generally meet in the evenings, to talk busi- 


ness and gossip. Near this club is the Catholic church, 
with a school attached. 

My first impressions of the city had been disap- 
pointing, as regards costumes, bazaars, and buildings. 
Leo Africanus — a Moor, born in Barbary and brought 
up as a Christian in Granada — the quaint and uninten- 
tionally humorous geographer of the sixteenth century, 
says the houses and bazaars of Tripoli are handsome, 
compared with those of Tunis. They have sadly altered 
for the worse since Leo's time, or those of Tunis have 
vastly improved. The first few days after my arrival 
were spent in prowling about the bazaars, and through 
the city in various directions. 

Mr. Osman Warrington, son of the former consul- 
general here, called, and most kindly offered me his 
services. He was vice-consul at Misratah, farther east 
than Lebda, on the coast, and the journey to Lebda was 
very familiar to him. The vice-consulate at Misratah was 
to be given up, and removed to Homs, a rising little port 
within sight of the ruins of Lebda. Osman Warrington 
was then building, with many difficulties, a house at 
Homs : which, poor fellow, he hardly lived to enter. 
He recommended to me a Maltese servant named Grio- 
vanni, and kindly brought from the castle the letter 
of the Pasha of Tripoli. I am indebted for its trans- 
lation to a gentleman who has done me several similar 


With respect and honour we allow it to be known, 
by the present, to those who are invested with power, 
honour, and dignity here and elsewhere, that the 
honourable person called Monsieur Eae, from England, 
accompanied with letters and documents of introduc- 
tions, as also by the acquaintance and dignity of the 
honourable British consul of the Pashalik of Tripoli : 
and who has now our will and recommendation, to all 
those dignitaries, &c., during his sojourn and while 
travelling in this realm : to assist and help him in all 
his wishes and desires during his stay and travels. The 
said gentleman has obtained this our Free Will, to 
show, with our grant and favour, that he may go and 
return back (there and here) with safety. Delivered 
on this day, 11th of the month Safar, 1294 of the 

By order of the Divan Dawlet of this realm, 


Mr. England's servants prepared and purchased 
necessaries for me — meat, potted fish, bread, salad, 
eggs, wine, coffee, &c., &c., for seven days — and dates, 
walnuts, and oranges for fourteen days. They sought 
out mules, and a muleteer, who, with his boy, was to take 
charge of the animals. An indolent dreamy young 
Maltese— Annibale by name — who, like Giovanni, spoke 
only Italian and Arabic, and who was assistant apothe- 


cary by profession, was also recommended as indis- 
pensable to a journey of this kind : apparently because 
idling on a mule's back, with a gun in his hand, was an 
occupation which afforded him especial satisfaction. 
As a guide, a muleteer, a sportsman, or a humorist, 
Annibale was a failure : and I have often asked myself 
since, what special purpose in this journey, or in the 
journey of life generally, Annibale fulfilled. He seemed 
to do nothing, to know nothing, to expect nothing : in 
fact he was a kind of Maltese Nihilist. 

An active day's work, which included all the 
packing for the morrow, made a good night's rest 
welcome : and I was awakened soon after daybreak. 
Going down stairs, I found Giovanni and Annibale, 
with two Arabs, in a state of high excitement, loading 
our worldly effects upon the mules. After one or two 
false starts, we ambled away through the empty streets 
of Tripoli. 



Set out from Tripoli — Among the Palms — The Dellou — Tadjoura — The 
Desert — Eas al Hamra — We reach Djefara — Reception — Accommo- 
dation — The Kaid — The Plagues of Barbary — Taphra — A Eencontre 
— Sidi Abd el Atti — Sjrian Landscape — Weir — Country of the 
Bedouins — Bains — Homs. 

The sun was just rising as we emerged on to the sea- 
shore, and we cantered along the fresh breezy beach to 
the pahn groves. Looking back, we could see the 
cream-coloured city of Tripoli glittering in the early 
rays of the sun. The wind blew freshly from the land, 
and broke the surf which met it into showers of vapour. 
Dozens of fishermen's boats with white lateen sails 
skimmed swiftly to and fro, like swallows fly-catching. 
Sand blew from the beach into the sea : the white-robed 
Arabs on their way into the city drew their barracans 
closely round them. 

We passed through the Wednesday's market-place, 
and entered a sandy way between rows of high mud 
walls — moulded, as though of concrete, in huge cubical 
blocks. Within the walls were gardens with delicious 
green grass : here and there stood a little white tomb or 
marabout, and beside it the dusty grey trunk and trans- 


parent tender leaves of the fig tree. The thin delicate 
branches of the pomegranate bore red sprouting leaves : 
poppies of brilliant scarlet stood among the grass : the 
prickly pear, with its great uncouth trunk and its 
prickly developments, formed a hedge : the leafless 
almond trees were covered with pink blossom : the 
olives were graceful and tall as cork trees. Above and 
round us towered into the clear pale sky the noble 
palm trees, through which we were to ride for miles. 
This forest of palms is the finest on all the North African 
coast. Every now and then the gusty wind came 
sweeping through the palms, which hissed and rustled 

Four miles from Tripoli we passed the Soukh el 
Djemma, the site of the Friday's market : with the 
invariable marabout, over which fluttered a little green 
and yellow flag. The Arabs were busy irrigating. Their 
apparatus, which takes the place of the Egyptian shadouf 
or saklyeh, is the sinieh. Two uprights of stone, or 
sun-dried brick, standing a yard and a half apart, sup- 
port a pulley and axle. At the lower end of a cord 
which runs over this into the well, is the dellou, a half 
round leather bag or vessel, with an iron rim, and 
with a leather spout depending from its centre like an 
elephant's proboscis. The dellou is let down into the 
water and filled : the bullock at the other end of the 
cord begins to draw, and the dellou rises : the proboscis, 


having a cord attached to its end, is drawn up in 
advance by an Arab. When both reach the pulley, the 
end of the spout is released, .^nd the water gushes 
out into a reservoir. An inclined plane is excavated in 
the ground, down which the bullock marches, his weight 
assisting in raising the dellou and water. How does he 
get back ? asked a young lady to whom this was being 
explained. He turns round and walks back up the 
incline. In every garden or enclosure we heard the 
melancholy creak of the axle and the gush of the water. 
It was life to the thirsty soil. 

The villages of Tadjoura we reached after two hours' 
ride, a straggling collection of little white houses and 
gardens. There was towards the centre an old mosque, 
rather of Christian appearance. After three hours the 
country became barer : we lost the gardens and walls, 
but there were still palms waving in the wind. To 
our left we passed a small lake or Salina, from which the 
Tripolines get salt. We emerged on to the open desert. 
The sun beat fiercely down from a blue sky upon the 
yellow sand. 

I was full of regret at not having gone by sea : the 
wind was strongly in our favour, and, as we trudged for 
hours through the desert in the hot sun, I grew sadder 
and sadder. Hour after hour we passed through the 
melancholy waste, having to our right, beyond the 
pale sand, the distant range of the Gharian, and to our 


left the heavy surge on the seashore. The wind drove 
the fine sand in sheets, till we seemed to be riding in 
a river of sand streaming along with us. Some Arabs 
with camels joined us — one poor man being bound for 
Imsellatah, only fifteen miles from Lebda : and having 
to travel all night to arrive in time for the market in 
the morning. We passed in the afternoon the Wadi 
Eoumel, a small stream winding down among tall 
reeds into the sea, where it soon vanished. Above 
it was Ras al Hamra, Red Point — the Amarcea upon 
the river Oinoladon, of the Phoenicians — where, on 
abruptly rising ground, stood a marabout. Among 
the green reeds and rushes stood three palms, the first 
we had seen since leaving the forest at Tadjoura. 

On we went, through the soft yielding sand, our 
mules sinking to their knees, and at times stumbling 
heavily. We came, towards five in the afternoon, to 
a second Wadi, El Msid, with a larger stream than the 
Roumel. We had ridden since daybreak with only 
one halt : and, being rather exhausted, threw ourselves 
down on the ground, while the poor mules had a few 
mouthfuls of brushwood. Riding on again we saw 
two or three white ainiehs, and some palms growing 
apparently out of the desert >and. Traversing a par- 
tially cultivated district, and turning our backs upon 
the sea, after half an hour we espied in front of us a 
low white quadranglar building, the Castle of Djefara. 


A few Arabs and blacks were loitering in front of 
it. The sun had just set, and the dusk was coming 
quickly on. The Bedouins, whose low brown tents 
we saw a few hundred yards away, were bringing 
their herds of goats and kids homewards as we rode 
under a low archway into the fort. Parts of it were 
quite ruinous. We were taken to the Raid's principal 
room — a small miserable outbuilding in the courtyard. 
At one end, on a little brick platform raised half a foot 
from the floor, and covered with a mat, sat the Kaid 
and his secretary : one or two officials squatted near 
them. I handed the Pasha's letter to the Kaid ; he 
looked at it upside down, and the novel form of the 
fine large handwriting evidently pleased him. He 
passed it on to his secretary, who spelled through it, 
the Kaid smiling and bowing to me as its contents were 
related to him. He had given up to me the seat of 
honour, and seemed so glad to see people, that he liglited 
a cigarette and prepared to spend the evening with us, 
making me various complimentary speeches. I told Grio- 
vanni to make my excuses to him, and to say that I 
was very tired after our long journey, while I en- 
deavoured to impart to my face a grateful and joyous 

When we had bowed the Kaid out, the Arabs un- 
loaded the mules, our saddle-bags and hampers were 
brought into the hut, and Giovanni and the good-natured 


Nihilist prepared dinner. It was a piercing cold night, 
and the Kai'd's people brought us a small three-cornered 
clay pot, full of charcoal. The door, too, had lost one 
of its planks, and therefore one-third of its width. The 
Maltese rolled oif to sleep on the floor : in spite of my 
better judgment I adopted the Kaid's straw pillow, and 
lay down on the brick platform with a thin straw mat 
alone under me. In a quarter of an hour I was over- 
run by a needy and indefatigable swarm of fleas. After 
two hours' misery I was falling asleep, when the mules 
outside our door took fright, reared, plunged, and the 
castle resounded with unearthly braying. They ceased 
at last and my chances improved, when my attention 
was directed to a curious scratching and scuttling about 
the matting and baskets. A colony of rats had emerged 
from a hole in the corner of the hut, and with angry 
little squeaks were eating their way into our esparto 
paniers. At times they varied their recreation by can- 
tering joyfully over my body and those of the sleeping 
Maltese. Looking out of doors, the castle walls were 
white as snow in the moonlight, one or two brilliant 
stars glittered in the cloudless sky, and I could hear — 
two miles away — the magnificent roar of the sea. I 
longed desperately for sleep, and it seemed to be com- 
ing, when two cocks suddenly awoke, and, imagining 
the moonlight was the day, began to crow vigorously 
in turns — the success of one stimulating the other. It 


was now three in the morning. Awakened and en- 
couraged by the cocks, a pair of owls set themselves to 
screech and hoot, the mules tuned up again, the rats 
frolicked about, and the fleas sallied out in numbers 
like ants. At last, in spite of them all, I fell asleep. 

It was half-past three, and we were to be on our 
way to Lebda at six. We awoke then, and after a cup 
of coffee and a mouthful of bread, rode away from 
Djefara. This interesting spot is all that remains to 
mark the neighbourhood of Pliny's Taphra, Ptolemy's 
Garapha Portus, Scylax's Gaphara, lying — as all those 
authors agree — about midway from Leptis Magna to 
New Tripoli. By the Greek geographers it was known 
as Oinospora, lying nearer to the coast than the Castle 
of Djefara, and having once a double, but very exposed, 
anchorage at the point now known as Kas el Djefara. 

We passed over a better track, in places much 
covered with sand. We were two miles from the sea : 
on our right, among the Gharian hills, were many 
Bedouin encampments. On either side of our path we 
passed the low brown tents in dozens, their sun- 
burnt owners tending their herds of goats or ewes, and 
watching over their poor sparse crops of wheat and 
barley. After sunrise it grew very hot. 

An Arab met us, hurrying towards Tripoli. He 
was an intimate friend of our Arab mule-proprietor, 
and their greeting was long and affectionate. How 


are you ? Well, how are you ? Thank God ! how 
are you ? Goodness gracious ! how are you ? God 
bless you ! how are you ? When each was satisfied 
how the other was, the stranger told us he was carrying 
to Tripoli the news of a savage murder. A Maltese 
blacksmith living at Horns had a young Maltese assist- 
ant. This youth appeared to have concerted with the 
blacksmith's wife the unfortunate man's murder. Early 
this morning she admitted him to the house, when, 
falling upon the sleeping blacksmith, he stabbed him 
repeatedly. The wife then sprinkled sand upon the 
floor in a vain attempt to cover the blood, gave the 
murderer a change of clothes, and he returned to his 
lodgings. In the morning the soldiers knocked at his 
door and took him to the Castle of Horns, where he re- 
mained chained hand and foot. 

We passed the dry watercourses of the Wadi Turbat 
and the Wadi Bijibara, and rode along as before. 
Towards noon we met a party of seventy Turkish 
soldiers, trooping along, poor fellows, on foot^ and having 
their baggage carried by camels. In the midst, on a 
camel, was a high scarlet palanquin carrying the lady 
of the officer. The old boy himself, in his shirt-sleeves, 
and looking as if he had not shaved for a week, rode at 
the end of the procession on a large donkey. After a 
short halt at mid-day, in sight of the famous marabout 
of Sidi Abd el Atti and its palm woods — near to which an encounter. 33 

the English traveller Captain Smyth found traces of 
a Troglodyte village, and of tesselated pavement — we 
pushed on. 

The Gharian range had been gradually approaching 
the coast, and we came among the high ground. The 
country grew remarkably like the Holy Land — round 
stony hills and grey rocks with brushwood, and rich 
sheltered patches of cultivation in the valleys. We 
wound up among the hills, and came early in the after- 
noon to the ruins of a weir which ran across the end of 
a valley and ended against the face of a cliff. There 
was no water now. In some of the valleys we entered 
were delicious gardens. In the rich red soil stood 
sprouting pomegranates, fig trees with tender young 
leaves, and almond trees in full blossom. We were in 
the Djebel Tarhuna, part of the Gharian range. We 
passed hundreds of Bedouins' tents, flat and dark, with 
palisades of matting to shelter them. Dogs would 
come tearing out open-mouthed as we passed, and the 
little Bedouin children would run away, scared at our 
looks. Euined towers stood on the hills : the country 
is strewn with ruins. To our right, thirteen miles 
inland, lay Imsellatah. 

All day we had had but occasional glimpses of the 
sea, but in the afternoon we came in full sight of it, 
and could see — some miles away down by the shore — the 
dark shapeless masses of the masonry of Lebda. Near 



the promontory of Hermes lay the little white Arab town 
of Horns or Khommos — Chickpeas, though I don't know 
how the town got that name. It contains now perhaps 
twelve hundred inhabitants, and is acquiring yearly 
more importance from the development of the esparto 
trade. Building is going on, and the little place is 
rapidly expanding. I have said that the vice-consulate 
of Misratah is to be transferred hither. I cannot help 
thinking that Leptis Magna extended as far as these 
hills : ruins of considerable buildings cover them thickly, 
more than would indicate the mere outskirts of a city. 
The great Leptis, too — the birthplace of an Emperor, 
an ally of Eome, possessed of splendid temples and 
public buildings, renowned for its wealth, yielding 
tribute at the rate of one talent a day to the Imperial, 
Treasury — could not have been comprehended, as is 
believed, within the space of ten thousand square yards. 




Received at the Castle — The Kaid — Murderers — Our Quarters — Ride to 
Lebda — Debris — Columns — Heat — Wadi Lebda — Group of Ruins — 
Temples — Severus — The Evil Eye — Triple Arch — Depredations — 
Lepide — Its Origin and History — A Legend of Leptis — The Gulf of 
Syrtis Major. 

We rode down into Horns after the sun had set. We 
had come in two days from Tripoli : the journey is 
often made one of four days, generally of three. We 
rode up to one of the two whitewashed castles or forts, 
that where the Kaid resided, and dismounted. There 
were officers, soldiers, and officials idling about, and 
we said we had come iipon a short visit. As this did 
not awaken any sudden cordiality, we said we had a 
letter from the Pasha to the Kaid, whom we wished 
to see. They said the Kaid had joined his family for 
the evening, and hinted that he must not be disturbed. 
We asked them not to put themselves out of the way, 
as we should go to the other fort and stay with the 
Kaimakam commanding the soldiers. This alarmed 
them, and they begged Us not to go away, as it would 
distress the Kaid very much. Some of them hastened 

D 2 


off to inform his Excellency, and we were promptly 
ushered through the courtyard, up an outer staircase 
of stone, into a large handsome room, with a cushioned 
divan at one end. 

Very soon the Kaid appeared, an astute-looking 
Turk in spectacles, who expressed himself very cor- 
dially and hospitably. He sent at once to prepare a 
room for me in a house overlooking the sea, and his 
servants brought coffee and cigarettes. We had a 
long chat, he speaking Turkish : and Griovanni, who 
was a fluent interpreter, and expressed himself excel- 
lently, rendering his words into Italian for me. He 
assured me it gave him profound pleasure to receive 
me, and trusted I would not fail to express any wish 
I might have. He added that it would grieve him 
beyond belief if I did not remain at Homs for at 
least a week. I said that his friendliness quite re- 
minded me of home, and that I should remain as long 
as possible his guest. He spoke of the tragedy of the 
morning : the victim had been buried as we were en- 
tering Homs. There were twelve or fourteen murderers, 
he told me, under his charge : several under sentence 
of death, and he only awaited confirmation of their 
sentence from Constantinople. The Kaid himself was 
formerly Grovernor of Pera. 

We went downstairs, and, as we spoke to the officials 
in the gateway, we heard the clank of chains, and saw 


beside us a dozen Arabs chained two-and-two, trooping 
in from building work down by the beach, and guarded 
by a few armed soldiers. Many had evil-looking faces, 
and stared at us defiantly. They were the murderers : 
some of them would complete their sentence in a few 
weeks by swinging from a rope in the Castle yard. 
Poor wretches, the look of death was already in their 
faces. Twelve murderers chained together : it was not 
a pleasant sight, and there was something very horrid 
in the jangle of their chains. "We found a bare room, 
made comfortable by divans and soft quilts, from the 
Raid's own rooms, prepared for us. It was an upper 
storey, and the roof below us formed a terrace looking 
over the sea. 

Very early in the morning we were under way, 
on the mules, for the ruins of Leptis, two miles distant. 
We reached a solitary standing monument : a tall 
slender panelled and pilastered erection, with the lower 
portion remaining of the pyramid which once formed 
its apex. It had been split from summit to base, and 
the half facing landwards had fallen away, and lay 
among other strewn fragments on the ground. The 
sea front was still tolerably perfect. It was a delicious 
morning, and the ripple on the Mediterranean broke 
musically on the white beach as we took a photograph 
of the monument. Close behind it, near a strip of 
palms, was the grave of the murdered Maltese. 


We rambled on through sand-drifts, and over ground 
covered with fragments of stone, pottery, marble, par- 
ticles of mosaic, angles of pediments, broken frusta, and 
chips of acanthus and of shafts. We could not resist 
wasting half-an-hour in groping among them, finding 
polished marble tiles, pieces of opal glass, and copper 
coins : the ground simply teems with them. I sent 
the Nihilist to a Bedouin douar among the palms 
to borrow or steal a spade or pickaxe : but the Bedouins 
would not lend anything to such an irresponsible look- 
ing stranger, and he returned shrugging his shoulders 
and saying, Non c'e. In my disappointment I delivered 
myself ot a bitter smile which I had been maturing, 
and called him an Italian word. As we advanced, the 
accumulations of sand became wider and deeper, ex- 
tremities of columns and angles of buildings protruded, 
mournfully calling attention to their helpless state. 
A buried city, however, is a greater satisfaction to the 
mind than a vanished city. 

I confess I was greatly disappointed with what I 
had seen so far : nothing was in sight but a few gro- 
velling remains among rolling sand-hills, white and 
quivering in the sun's glare. I thought the whole place 
was a fraud, and said morosely that I had been sent on a 
fool's errand. I told Giovanni, who tried to amuse me 
by conversation, that he was tedious : and Annibale, who 
said nothing, that he had barely escaped being an imbe- 


cile. When I thought of the sleepy stubborn muleg, 
the two days' ride, the fearful night at Djefara, and con- 
templated the repetition of them, I gave way to disgust. 
"We went down to the beach and photographed, for 
want of anything better, three prostrate columns of 
considerable diameter. They were of beautiful cipol- 
line, or pale green and white streaked marble, and had 
a little history of their own. Early in the century the 
Pasha of Tripoli presented to the British Grovemment 
forty of the Lebda colunms. The Weymouth was 
sent to embark them, and transported to England 
thirty-seven fine shafts, which were placed in the court 
of the British Museum. In the year 1824 they were 
transferred by order of Greorge IV. to Windsor. The 
hatchways of the Weymouth would not admit the three 
cipolline shafts, and they were abandoned. Farther 
down by the beach were numerous others, also pre- 
pared for shipment by the late consul-general and his 
son. They are becoming rapidly disintegrated. Above 
these, on a sand-hill — no doubt accumulated round 
the wall of the original building — stood the only 
remnant of it, a melancholy crooked column : left, per- 
haps, facing the sea in order to serve as a landmark. 
Beneath it lay, among heaps of sand and fragments, 
the half of a female form in white marble. We 
trudged up farther inland, finding two white and beau- 
tifully-chiselled capitals lying on the sand. 




The baking heat of the sun — it was approaching 
mid-day — drove us to the inadequate shelter of a few 
marble blocks. We had become sulky and dis- 
couraged, but dates and walnuts restored our cheerful- 
ness. On the hill above us were a party of negroes 
carrying baskets to and fro. We shouted to them, 
asking for water, and they directed us eastward beyond 
some rising ground : and here we found a small clear 
stream, running nearly due northwards, over a sandy 
and rather slimy bed, down into the sea. At its mouth, 
bnceV the ■ Cothon or dock of Leptis, were masses of 
heavy masonry : and visible below the clear green water 
were remains of two moles. On the east bank were 
traces • of a dock for smaller craft, though the Cothon 
could not have accommodated very large vessels. These 
masses of stonework are being slowly buried by the 
alluvial deposit of the stream, now called Wadi Lebda. 
The painstaking Dr. Barth made an examination of the 
site of Lebda, during his wanderings along the Medi- 
terranean coast, and his book is worthy of translation 
from the Grerman. It is of course printed in the small 
Gothic type so painful and tiring to the eyes : and re- 
sponsible, I am satisfied, for the frequency of spectacles 
and weakened eyesight among Grermans. 

Across the river lay numerous ruins of the aqueduct, 
which once carried to Lebda the waters of the Ciniphus, 
flowing from the spurs of the Gharian known to 


the ancients as the Hills of the Graces. Near them 
were some large reservoirs and numerous baths, adja- 
cent to a circus — once ornamented with obelisks and 
columns : and above them were the vestiges of a theatre. 

Looking up the river, and on its left or western 
bank, was an encouraging sight — an extensive and pic- 
turesque group of ruins, walls, doorways, a fort or 
temple, a Roman arch, and other miscellaneous objects, 
which must have been once a prominent feature in 
Leptis the White. We strolled up the wet hard sand 
by the river, and coming within range we photographed 
the group of buildings, reflected in a clear pool where a 
mass of masonry had dammed a portion of the stream. 
Two or three negroes came down from their work to 
drink in the river. Wallah ! they said, as they saw the 
camera, but they thought poorly of it when they saw no 
result. They even laughed mockingly at Annibale, as 
he dozed in the shadow of a wall, and hinted that he 
was a Kafir. 

We climbed up through the sinking sand, and over 
blocks of fallen masonry, marble pediments, and walls, 
to the middle of the group of buildings. On the brink 
of the river stood the corner of a building — rectangular 
without and circular within — two storeys in height 
still. The exterior was of cemented rubble, having at 
intervals a few courses of flat red bricks : the interior 
was faced with carefully hewn stone. There were traces 


of stairs, but they were too ruinous for climbing with 
agility in the hot sun. From this ran northward along 
the top of the river bank a straight wall, having brick 
and rubble masonry without and hewn stone within. 
Grreat heaps of the white facing lay in long rows, with 
cornices, jambs, pediments, and slabs. Masses of the 
cAncrete had fallen into the river bed. At the south 
end of the crescent-shaped wall was a fracture, from 
which had fallen into the river a huge block, weighing 
perhaps a hundred tons, solid and cohesive just as it 
had fallen. 

From the angle of the semicircular wall ran at right 
angles a gateway, with a round arch of considerable size. 
It is still complete, but threatens to yield before long. 
The sill is visible, worn with foot and hoof marks. 
This was the entrance to the temple : of which the 
western wall contained two handsome doorways, also 
complete, though the white stone was honeycombed and 
crumbling : and within the enclosure ran a line of white 
cubical pedestals which supported the inner columns 
of the temple. At the farther end of the west wall a 
triple doorway, two-thirds buried, led into an inner 
temple, which was almost full of drift sand. A few 
battered and shivered cipolline columns stood here. 
The Moslems had smashed all of them that they could 
reach : indeed the sand has to be thanked for burying 
what must be rich traces of this city. Here the warlike 


Severus, familiar in our English history, began his days 
in the year of Christ 146, ending them at York. 
Eboracum has now the advantage over Leptis. In the 
angle of the temple coml the sand had piled itself up 
to the height of the spring of the round arch. 

We went on to the open space to the southward. 
On either side of the river the ground is covered with 
walls, masonry, vaultings, cisterns, fallen cornices, and 
fragments of every size and shape, lying in sand and 
brushwood. We came to a fine triple arch or city 
gate, relatively free from drift sand. We strolled on 
towards the fringe of palms, beyond which lies the open 
plain. We came to a Bedouin douar, squatting among 
the palms : and while I photographed the scene, the 
inhabitants fearing, poor people, the evil eye with its 
brass rim directed upon them, took refuge in the tents. 
Yelping dogs flew at us, and we could hardly persuade 
the Bedouins to give us a bowl of milk. It was sour 
when we got it, and undrinkable : but the Bedouins 
considered themselves underpaid by the piastre Giovanni 
gave them for it. We came back to a small pic- 
turesque arch, once perhaps a suburban gateway, look- 
ing to the south : then again past the triple arch to the 
central group of ruins. 

Although of the period when Eoman art was on its 
decline, the public buildings of Leptis are admitted to 
have been of great magnificence. Indeed, from the 


remains which have been found of granite and marble 
monoliths, no cost can have been spared in its con- 
struction. The statuary seems to have been of the 
worst taste, and the ornamentation florid and profuse. 
Amphorae, paterae, intaglios, Carthaginian medals, and 
coins of Severus, Julia mother of Caracalla, and Alex- 
ander Severus, have been found here. The temple, its 
court and inner shrine, the vacant pedestals and me- 
lancholy pile of white and yellow marbles, suggested 
scenes very different. There is something especially 
sad and lonely about the ruins of Lebda. So fair a 
city is now so complete a wreck. 

We ascended the hill, and found on its crest a gang 
of' fifteen or twenty negroes, with a Maltese overseer, 
hard at workl excavating. They had come upon the 
fiiite of a temple, of which the noble red granite columns 
still stood erect under the sand. They had excavated a 
huge hole, and length by length the columns were 
being removed, and placed ready for transport to 
Homs. This disgraceful traffic is destroying what 
remains of Lebda's glories. Maltese and low Mediter- 
ranean traders in Homs are growing rich upon the sale 
of columns. They have been doing this since the 
beginning of the century ; and unless some one inter- 
feres, future travellers will have to seek for ruins of 
Leptis in the olive-mills of Tripoli, Sfax, Susa, and the 
other Barbary ports. Invaluable as olive- crushers, the 


shafts are being shipped wholesale for sale to the oil- 
merchants. One Maltese, who came penniless to Horns, 
has now a shop of his own and is doing well. We gave 
the poor hard-worked Africans a piece of money each, 
though it went to my heart to see what they were about. 

Leo Africanus says — ' Of the towne of Lejpide : This 
ancient towne, founded by the Komans, and enuironed 
with most high and strong walles, hath twise been 
sacked by the Mahumetans, and of the stones and ruins 
thereof was Tripolis afterwards built.' Leo seldom 
made a mistake, and it requires much more than the 
drifting of sand to account for the disappearance of 
great buildings and their materials : but Leptis was not 
destroyed till the seventh century, and Tripoli was built 
before Aurelian's time. Leo should have said ' rebuilt.' 
Unlike Palmjrra, where the temples and palaces still lie 
piecemeal on the ground, and need only the work of 
man to restore them, Leptis lies within easy reach of 
the sea, and her materials have vanished bodily. 

Leptis, afterwards called Magna from its wealth 
and importance, was founded, as I have said, at an 
early period by the indefatigable Sidonians : and next 
to Carthage and its neighbour Utica, it was regarded 
as the chief among their foreign settlements. Surviv- 
ing the first Carthage, it flourished under the protec- 
tion and government of Eome. The Leptians, though 
retaining their Phoenician laws and customs, had, from 


constant intercourse and alliance with the Numidians 
or Berbers, adopted their language, and retained it in 
the time of Sallust and the Jugurthine wars. During 
this period Leptis, being threatened with civil disturb- 
ances and attacked by the Numidians, sent deputies to 
the Consul Metellus, who commanded in Africa, pray- 
ing for a garrison. The city having been true to Eome 
from the commencement of the Numidian wars, Metel- 
lus sent four cohorts of Ligurians, and relieved the city. 

During the Vandal occupation of Barbary, the forti- 
fications of Leptis seem to have been dismantled : to be 
restored in the days of Justinian, who required it as a 
strategical point. Once Leptis was closely invested by 
a Berber tribe, known to the Eomans as Levatse. Eighty 
of the Lewateh were admitted to Sergius the Prefect's 
presence, to complain of certain wrongs. One of the 
petitioners, in his eagerness seizing the robe of Sergius, 
was slain by an officer, and this was the signal for the 
massacre of the remainder of the deputation. After one 
bloody and successful sally, Sergius was again shut up 
here, and so hardly pressed that he had to abandon the 
city and retire along the seacoast to Carthage. 

There is a picturesque legend in connection with 
this city over whose ruins we are brooding. When 
Cyrene and Carthage were in their glory, the vast sandy 
waste separating them having no river or mountain 
they could regard as a boundary, long and bloody dis- 


putes took place. Tired of these, the rival powers agreed 
that from each capital should set out simultaneously 
certain deputies : the spot where the respective depu- 
ties should meet should be the boundary thereafter. 

Two brothers — Philaeni — set out from Carthage, 
and, travelling swiftly, outstripped the more dilatory 
Cyrenians, encountering them on the shores of Leptis. 
Enraged, and fearing the vengeance of their country- 
men, the Cyrenians began to pick a quarrel, and 
declared they would 'fix' the Carthaginians, who 
must have started before their appointed time. They 
gave them the option of withdrawing to the spot the 
Cyrenians desired as boundary, or of being buried alive 
where they stood. The disinterested Philaeni, for the 
welfare and glory of their fatherland, chose the latter 
alternative, and were interred, living, somewhere in the 
neighbourhood of these ruins. Here the Carthaginians 
erected altars, and instituted at Carthage religious 
solemnities in their honour. We were on the point of 
shedding a tear to the memory of the Philaeni, when 
we referred to our chart, and discovered that the 
Cyrenians must have travelled from seventy to eighty 
miles more than the Carthaginians. 

In the tide of Mohammedanism which swept along 
this coast, the walls and temples of Leptis were demo- 
lished, and the city was wiped out from the page of 


The famous gulf upon whose skirts we are, extending 
ing hence to Ptolemaita in the Cyrenaica, nearly four 
hundred miles, is said by the ancients to have ac- 
quired its name from the frequent dragging or shifting 
of its bed. When the winds blow violently, the sea 
rolls with a prodigious swell, and mud, sand, and stones 
of vast size are forced along by the rapidity of the 
current. Even half a century ago the Great Griilf of 
Syrtis retained its evil reputation. Mariners pass, said 
Delia Cella, with a sort of horror before this gulf, 
whose annals from the remotest ages abound with ship- 
wreck and disaster. 

Misratah is the last town towards the desert of the 
Syrtis, and three hundred miles distant from Benghasi, 
the Cyrenian Berenice. Caravans still go from Misratah 
to Fezzan and Wadai. In the time of Leo Africanu^ 
Misratah was the boundary of the independent king- 
dom of Barca. Couriers used, till the introduction of 
steamers to the Mediterranean, to traverse this region, 
from Tripoli to Cairo, in from twenty-five to thirty days. 
The journey through Fezzan, the ancient Phazania, the 
country of the Garamantes, was familiar to the an- 
cients, and used by them in conveyance of precious 
stones &c. from Egypt and Arabia to Europe. All the 
way to the frontier of Egypt are traces of prosperity 
and civilisation long since dissipated. These culmi- 
nate in the noble ruins of Libya Pentapolis. 



Return to Homs — A Deputation — The Kaid's Hospitality — Copper 
Coins — The Dead City — Start for Tripoli — Wearisome Journey — 
The Gharian— A Wedding— Djef4ra in the Twilight— The Owl- 
slayer — Continue Journey — Great Heat — The Mecca Caravan — A 
Bargain — Tadjoura — The Hermitage — Frederick Warrington — The 
Times of the Beys — The Harbour — Mussulman Fanaticism — The 

The hot sun was declining over the town of Homs as 
we turned our backs on the ruins of Lebda. Very 
wearily we mounted the poor patient half-baked mules, 
and trudged homewards. So exhausted were we, that 
one circumstance alone could have exhilarated and 
cheered us. That circumstance occurred. Griovanni's 
mule took a header into a quagmire, and tossed his 
rider into the midst of it. 

We foimd 'some lemons in Homs, and prepared 
great quantities of lemonade. After a large dinner, 
prepared by the ]\Ialtese, I devoured dates and walnuts. 
After this I thought well to send a message of thanks 
to ths Kaid. 

I chose Giovanni as the deputation, and sent my 
card, with Rae Effendi's compliments to the governor 


of Homs. Giovanni was to assure the Kaid that I 
should long remember his hospitality and the interest 
of my journey to Lebda ; that I should take an early 
opportunity of acquainting the Pasha of Tripoli with 
both ; and that I hoped one day to have the honour and 
the happiness of receiving the Kaid in England. 
Griovanni was to add that fatigue alone prevented my 
thanking the Kaid in person. Griovanni was to ask 
too, with delicacy — seeing we were not lodged in the 
Castle itself — whether I was to consider myself as the 
Kaid's guest. 

After this carefully-framed message, it will seem re- 
pugnant to belief that Giovanni should have actually 
started for the audience in his shirt-sleeves. The cry 
with which I called Annibale's attention to it galvanised 
that youth into agility, and he had overtaken and 
brought back Giovanni in a twinkling. I asked 
Giovanni what opinion the Kaid could entertain of an 
expedition of which the chief dragoman presented him- 
self in the audience-chamber of the Castle without his 
coat, and how he could be expected to receive any 
future expedition with consideration. I told Giovanni 
that the coat was almost invariably worn at audiences 
in the best circles, and he seemed moved. 

In half an hour Giovanni returned, accompanied by 
an officer, whom the polite Kaid had sent to bring me 
an expression of his friendly regard. I was to consider 


myself as strictly his guest : he was gratified to hear 
I was pleased with Lebda, and ashamed not to have 
been able to entertain me more suitably. 

Later in the evening, as I was strolling on the 
terrace or house-top, the officer returned, bearing an 
envelope which contained the Kaid's card, Eefi 
Gouverneur de Pera, and his photograph, in exchange 
for which he asked that I would be so uncommonly 
kind as to send him mine from England. He wished 
to know how many soldiers I should like, to escort me 
to Tripoli : but I thanked him, and said I required none. 
Poor Kaid I it was a change from Pera to Homs. 

By-and-by a native of Homs appeared with a few 
Roman copper coins, which he wished me to buy. 
These abound in the ruins of Barbary ; and so plentiful 
are they, that here and in Misratah they pass current in 
the bazaars for their equivalent copper value. My 
visitor refused for half-a-dozen of the coins, a mahhooh 
and a half, for which I afterwards bought a hundred and 
twenty similar coins in Kairwan. 

It was a glorious night. The sky overhead was 
like a cupola of deep blue steel set with diamonds, 
resting with a silver rim upon the sea. The restless 
surge fringed the sea with white, and the white sand 
gleamed in the starlight. A mile away lay the melan- 
choly buildings of the dead city. 

We were up two hours before dawn, and lost no time 

■ 2 


in having everything packed on the mules. The air 
was raw, and a chill breeze came up from the sea, as we 
rode past the Castle and its silent watchmen. I was 
glad of a long-hooded coat, and even of the exercise 
necessary for stimulating my mule. 

I will not describe the length and loneliness of that 
weary journey, the apathy and stupidity of Annibale 
and the two Arabs, the prosy self-commendations of 
Giovanni, the sleepiness and stubbornness of the 
mules. Haw many times I shouted to Annibale, in 
what startling language I denounced his laziness, in 
what terms I described his inevitable decline and fall, 
I will not weary the reader by repeating. Passing 
acres of ruins among the mountains, we emerged on to 
the tedious plain, remote from the sea, and having 
glimpses of it only at intervals. 

In the afternoon, as we travelled along, we heard 
the frequent reports of guns, and presently came in 
sight of a concourse of people. The sounds had 
aroused expectations of a battle, a skirmish, or even 
an execution: but the affair proved to be a mere 
wedding. When Annibale heard the joyful shouts, the 
firing of the guns, the galloping of horses, and could 
see the Bedouin bride in a brilliant red dress, he was 
eager to jc«n the crowd. But I told him, in severe 
Italian, that we were making this journey for strictly 
intellectual purposes, and not to go fooling about at 


weddings. I was sorry afterwards not to have gone, 
taken the bride's portrait, and proposed the health of 
the groomsman. 

We were sad all the way to Djefara, which we 
reached an hour before sunset. The needy-looking 
Kaid greeted me with a cordial Tnarhdba — welcome — 
and after a cup of coffee, at winch he and his officers, 
three tall fine-looking Arabs, assisted, we sallied forth 
to take a picture of this forlorn and lonely Castle. 
They squatted on the ground in front of an angle of 
the wall : a few loafers, who were the only remaining 
inhabitants of the Castle, stood round : and, in the^ light 
of the rapidly-sinking sun, we took a photograph of the 
spot. We retired to the Castle — the Kaid giving up to 
me his small room, as before. Being very tired, and 
wishing to make an early start for Tripoli, I went to 
bed shortly after sunset. 

My toilet, before retiring, which had to be per- 
formed with a bucket and cold water from the well, 
excited tlie greatest interest. The tooth-brushes were 
chiefly admired. 

Wliile thus engaged, I heard the report of a gun, 
and Annibale appeared, highly excited, carrying a 
dying owl. I reproached him, and so dwelt upon the 
evil fortune certain to accompany the assassination of 
an owl, that Annibale began to look upon himself as 
doomed to misfortune, like the Ancient Mariner after 


he had murdered the albatross. When Annibale 
awoke in the night from time to time, and heard the 
mournful squawk of the widower owl, which haunted 
the Castle yard, he did not feel at his ease. I stole a 
march on the rats, mules, owl, fleas, and cocks : and, 
once asleep, defied their efforts. 

Awaking much refreshed, an hour after midnight, 
we arose, breakfasted, and in the chilly moonlight rode 
away from the Castle of Djefara. We rode for some 
hours before the day appeared, and got a famous start 
before the heat. It was fortunate, for the sun was 
overpowering. When we rested on the sand for lunch, 
without so much as the shelter of a dwarf palm, it was 
sickening and almost unendurable. No breath of air from 
sea or plain or the cloudless sky came to our relief. We 
were glad to get into motion again : even the exertion 
of urging on the mules was a welcome change. 

Soon we met the Mecca caravan, just returned from 
the Haj by sea to Tripoli. Many of the pilgrims were 
on camels, mixed up with quilts, pots, pans, and vessels of 
water from the sacred well of Zemzem. Many of them 
were white-bearded and fat, chiefs of tribes in Fezzan, 
full of arrogance and bigotry after their journey, and 
regarding the Roumi on his mule with especial dis- 
pleasure and contempt. Some muttered curses as the 
camels swayed past us — others growled, Kafir I One 
man on foot, towards the end of the caravan, hissed 


Khanzir ! I had some thought of sending the Nihilist 
to recall the whole caravan, that they might apologise. 

We made our second halt on the welcome arrival at 
the skirts of the palm forest of Tadjoura. I think we 
should have made a third, if the dates and walnuts had 
not given out. 

Giovanni had had a hard bargain with an Arab of 
Tadjoura, who had caught two big fish at a spot on the 
lonely coast, and had accompanied us for two or three 
miles on our way towards his home. It had been 
reduced to a question of half a piastre between them, 
and rather than yield, the Arab went ofif a quarter of a 
mile in advance. Giovanni was much disappointed 
when I told them to call him back, as I would pay the 
half piastre. He was not even satisfied when I paid for 
the two fish altogether, and made him a present of 
them. He felt that I had spoiled a good bargain, and 
that the Tadjouran had got the better of him. 

We entered the palms, and rode quietly for hours, 
the mules being very tired and able to go but slowly. 
The siniehs, and their creaking pulleys, the long lines 
of mud wall, the fig trees and pomegranates, the Arab 
huts, and occasional marabouts, seemed like high civi- 
lisation and like getting home. 

At one in the afternoon, when within two miles of 
Tripoli, two horsemen met us. Osman Warrington 
and a young lad, well mounted and armed, were on 


their way down to Horns, to bring back with an escort 
the Maltese murderer, for preliminary examination in 
Tripoli. Osman Warrington told me his brother 
would much appreciate a visit from me : so taking 
Griovanni with me, and sending the others on to the 
city, I turned off through the palm woods towards the 
seashore, and reached Mr. Warrington's house — the 
Hermitage. It is a curious rambling house, built of 
wood and plaster, looking on to the seashore out of a 
picturesque garden of palms, lemons, oranges, and 
pomegi-anates. A little black boy with bright eyes 
and glittering teeth went to summon Mr. Warrington, 
who shortly appeared. 

A tall man, with white hair and pleasant voice — 
son of the well-known consul-general here — born in 
the Eegency, and familiar with every part of it, 
Frederick Warrington had been the foster-father of 
African exploration from this point, and had gained 
the esteem of every traveller who had come to the 
Eegency to penetrate into the interior. Eohlfs, 
Eichardson, Vogel, Lyon, Beechey, Overweg, Barth — 
he knew them all, and had accompanied many of them 
far on their way. 

Tripoli has been with German travellers the fa- 
vourite starting point for inner Africa, and some of them 
have shown noble examples of courage and perseve- 
rance. Frederick, as every one in Tripoli calls him, 


showed me the portraits of many of them. Several 
never returned. He would have accompanied the un- 
fortunate Miss Tinne, but disapproved of the tempting 
nature of the equipage. There were costly horses, 
maidservants handsomely dressed, and iron tanks slung 
on camels to carry water. Ah ! said the Bedouins, 
there are the treasure chests of the Koumi princess. 
Had Frederick Warrington been escorting her, her life 
might have been safe. Kespected by the Arabs, his 
presence would protect the traveller where other safe- 
guards might not : and many a Tripoli Arab's oath is 
By Frederick. 

He gave me a long history of his recollections of 
Tripoli and the interior : his travels, the caravans, the 
life at Grhadames and at Murzouk, capital of Fezzan, 
at each of which places he was vice-consul : the old 
days of his boyhood, when Consul Warrington ruled 
the Bey of Tripoli : the splendours of Yussuf Pasha's 
Court, the fiery old man's eccentricities, his grand re- 
ceptions of the foreign consuls : the decline of his 
influence, civil dissensions, and finally Tripoli's absorp- 
tion into the Ottoman dominions. In Fezzan, and 
especially near Murzoiik, the palm forests are most 
extensive. One can ride through them for days to- 
gether, and for many a week dates used to be the only 

A Turkish bath was a very agreeable finale to the 

58. THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. vi. 

journey, and I emerged from it refreshed, but feeling 
rather as the American traveller felt, like a disem- 
bodied spirit. We went to stroll on the beach. Pass- 
ing the citadel, we saw the benevolent Moustapha Pasha 
issuing forth in his carriage to take the air. Soldiers 
were drawn up in two ranks, and saluted as he passed. 
When Yussuf Pasha used to go forth from the Castle, 
he had a body-guard of seven hundred blacks. 

One morning early we went out to fish in the har- 
bour. We landed on the extremity of the reef, and 
fished up lovely spiked sea-eggs, while the gentle surge 
washed over the rocks. The white-walled city and palms 
looked picturesque under the bright blue sky. Across 
the harbour we could hear the music of a body of Turkish 
troops, exercising on the beach under the Castle. 

We found an Arab, who had just hauled into his 
boat a long object coated with shells and gravel con- 
glomerate. It was a mediaeval arquebuse, weighing 
probably a hundredweight. We landed on a small 
jetty now being constructed in an exposed inconvenient 
spot, and which should have been placed under the 
shelter of the Castle walls. We paddled out farther 
along the shore, and landed close to a ruined earth- 
work, towards the Sultanas' Domes, the tombs of the 
ladies of the last Beys. We entered the palm groves, 
and took several photographs of those stately trees of 
which the eye never wearies. 


After lunch Mr. Hay called. I described to him 
the appropriations which were going on at Lebda, and 
he said readily that he would bring the matter before 
the Pasha. An order would be given which probably 
would never be carried out, and the matter would be 
forgotten directly. I suggested that the Government 
were the losers, and that the Kaid of Homs, if he were 
authorised to fine anyone pilfering from the ruins, 
would keep a vigilant eye upon them. Mr. Hay pro- 
mised to see the Pasha. 

The murder at Homs had shocked the Europeans 
in Tripoli. Thanks to the vigilance and harassing to 
which suspicious characters are subjected on arriving in 
the Regency, they seldom settle : and crime is, taking 
everything into consideration, rather rare. A story 
had reached Tripoli of the murder of an Italian by a 
Maltese in Tunis, of an apprehended outbreak of Mus- 
sulman fanaticism, and of unusual precautions urged 
upon Christian residents in Tunis. 

Mr. Hay promised to endeavour to get permission 
for me to visit the mosques of Tripoli, but he was a 
little doubtful of success. 

Accompanied by an obliging Maltese clerk, who, 
like an enormous number of his countrymen, was quite 
innocent of the English language, I daily repaired to 
the barbers' shops to negotiate for the old inlaid hand- 
mirrors. The adhesiveness of their owners to them 


compared favoui*ably with that of a Eussian peasant to 
his liousehold gods. Each barber too, before selling, 
was waiting to see what his neighbour got for his mirror. 

One of my chief friends in the bazaars was a Moorish 
barber of Sfax — with the manners of an Abencerrage, 
and the handsomest man in Tripoli. His smile was 
charming and his expressions of regard were most 
courteous. He regretted, he said, a thousand times over, 
that he could not sell me one of his mirrors, which 
had belonged to bis father : and he was so pleasant that 
it would have been rudeness to refer to the subject again. 
He wore a rosebud under his snowy turban, a grey 
pointed beard, dark blue cloth dress, an embroidered 
sash, and had handsome brown legs. Another friend 
was a merchant who sold traysfull of rahatlakoom, 
having walnuts concealed in it : and he thought so 
highly of my capacity for this, that he begged me to 
go to his house and see how he made it. 

I knew the contents of every little drawer and 
cabinet in the silversmiths' bazaar. Sitting in one 
shop, the neighbours would bring me what they had 
to show. Nearly all the silver-work was sold by the 
weight — which we could have verified by the Muhhtasib, 
or public weigher of the bazaar— and a trifle was added 
for the workmanship. All the silver bore the fine old 
silver mark, and was unmistakably pure. All manner 
of things were brought — amulets, bracelets, very mas- 


sive and handsome, earrings large enough for necklaces, 
loaded with pendants : many of them having as a pen- 
dant the khmissa, or outspread hand, to avert the 
evil eye. The upper rim of the ear is pierced to 
carry these : one of the pendants is often attached to 
the hair or cap to relieve the ear : but the ears of many 
of the women are torn and frilled round the edges. And 
yet we attribute to women a want of fortitude. These 
and other earrings — if women were aware of it — are the 
next most becoming thing to wearing no earrings at all. 

Grold, silver, and copper coins used to be brought 
me. Some of the copper ones would have been dear if 
they had been of silver. I got a little coin of Carthage, 
of yellow gold, bearing the horse and palm tree. This 
piece of money had about the diameter of a lead pencil, 
and would have been very easy to lose. 

A little Arabic is a valuable possession in these deal- 
ings with the crafty Oriental : it establishes in his mind 
that you have been among his kindred before, and 
have learned cunning through adversity. It is impos- 
sible for him to ascertain how much you don't know, 
and he gives you often credit for more than you de- 
serve. Arabic, however, like French, is not learnt in 
a day. How long have you spent in learning French ? 
said a French gentleman to an English one. Only 
one day, said the Englishman. Ah ! said the French- 
man politely, 'tis not enough. 



The Pasha's Gardens — Ostriches — John Leo on the Naturall Historie 
of Barbaric — Tombs and Coins— Giovanni incorruptible — The Tri- 
umphal Arch of Aurelian — Roman Numerals — Prayers for Rain — 
Offering to the God of Rain — Alteration of Plans — Cyrene in Prospect 
— The Cyrenai'ca. 

One evening before dinner we drove out past the Sul- 
tanas' Domes, to the Pasha's Gardens in the Meshiah. 
They were very productive and picturesque — full of 
lemon trees, oranges, palms, and all kinds of vegetables. 
In one part of tliem was the Pasha's private menagerie. 
This consisted of a bull — a magnificent creature — 
from Bornou, in the country of the Blacks : several 
dainty little gazelles : certain odd-looking beasts re- 
sembling, as far as I can recollect, a goat, a Thibet 
Yak, and a Brahmin bull. Finally, a number of 
ostriches were ranging about. These are brought in 
great numbers from the interior, and were formerly 
kept here in stables and farmed for the sake of their 
feathers. The long painful journey, however, injured 
the poor creatures' feathers, and they are now plucked 
in the interior and the feathers brought by caravan. 


One camel, I was informed, could carry as much as ten 
thousand pounds' worth of fine white feathers. 

The ostrich, far from resenting the spoiling of his 
feathers, is multiplying in the regions of Fezzan, 
Wadai, and Tomboukto, and seems to thrive upon it. 
He is a singular bird, having eccentric tastes. These 
ostriches made incessant and furious pecks at a ring on 
my companion's finger. They seemed fascinated and 
unable to resist it. I gave them pieces of newspaper, 
which delighted them. They thought they had never 
tasted anything so nice, for they came again and again, 
disputing who should get the best pieces. We tried 
the chief ostrich with a piastre — a showy-looking coin 
— and the ostrich made three attempts to swallow it. 
Some scruple seemed to actuate him, and we found 
eventually that the piastre was of imitation silver. 

It has been related to me that an elderly gentleman 
with a bald head once entered a zoological garden. It 
was a warm afternoon, and the old gentleman lay down 
upon a bench to sleep. Presently he was awakened 
by a feeling of warmth in the head. An ostrich 
had come along, and mistaking the bald head for 
an egg, had settled down upon it, intending to hatch 
it. The old gentleman screamed for help, and even- 
tually the ostrich, disappointed and regretful, was 
led back to his stall by a keeper. A gentleman 
once went and furtively contributed some money to 

64 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. vii. 

an ostrich. After doing so his conscience smote him, 
and he went back guiltily day after day in dread of 
seeing the ostrich a body : but the bird continued as 
lively and voracious as ever. An ostrich has digested 
as many as twenty copper coins at a time. 

The gazelle, which abounds in the interior, is hunted 
with dogs. The gazelle takes great leaps and easily 
distances the dogs ; but becoming exhausted, especially 
in heavy sand, is overtaken and caught. The young 
are brought in great numbers to Tripoli. The gazelle 
at Mr. England's, who, with his neighbour the little 
kid, sometimes fraternises with me, and at another time 
trembles from head to foot, is an orphan gazelle brought 
from Ghadames. 

Near the gazelles was a lonely camel, who put out 
his head and roared like a lion. 

I cannot, while on the subject of African beasts, re- 
frain from the pleasure of repeating a little natural his- 
tory from that wonderful and droll old geographer, Leo 
Africanus. It is from the Ninth Booke of the Historie 
of Africa, wherein he entreateth of the principall Eiuers 
and of the strange lining Creatures of the same Countrey. 

Of the Camel. — Camels are gentle and domesticall 
beasts, and are found in Africa in great numbers, espe- 
cially in the Deserts of Libya, Numidia, and Barbaria. 
When the King of Tombuto is desirous to sende any 


message of importance vnto the Numidian Merchants 
with great celeritie, his post or messenger riding vpon 
one of these Camels will runne from Tombuto to Darha, 
being nine hundred miles distant, in the space of eight 
daies at the farthest. 

Of the beast called Adimmain. — It is a tame 
beast, being shaped like a ramme and of the stature of 
an asse, and hauing long and dangle eares. I myselfe 
vpon a time, being merily disposed, rode a quarter of a 
mile vpon the backe of one of these beasts* 

Of the Elephant. — This wittie beast keepeth in 
the woods, and is found in great numbers in the forrests 
of the land of Negros. If the Elephant intendeth to 
hurt any man, he casteth him on the groud with his 
long snout or trunk, and neuer ceaseth trampling vpon 
him till he be dead. 

Of the beast called Dabuh. — This beast in bignes 
and shape resembleth a woolfe — sauing that his legges 
and feet are like to the legges and feete of a man. It 
is not hurtfull vnto any other beast, but will rake the 
carcases of men out of their graues, and will deuoure 
them : being otherwise an abiect and silly crea- 
ture. The hunters being acquainted with his denne, 
come before it singing and playing vpon a drum: 
by which melodie being allured foorth, his legs are en- 
wrapped in a strong rope, and so he is drawne out and 

66 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. vii. 

Of the, creature called Dub. — This creature, living 
also in the deserts, resembleth in shape a lizzard : 
sauing that in length it containeth a cubite and in 
bredth fower fingers. Being flaied and rested it 
tasteth somewhat like a frogge. Being hunted, if it 
chanceth to thrust its head into a hole, it can by no 
force be drawne out except the hole be digged wider by 
the hunters. 

Of the Guaral. — This beast is like vnto the former, 
and hath poison both in the head and taile, which two 
parts being cut off, the Arabians will eate it, notwith- 
standing it be of a deformed shape and vgly colour, in 
which respects I loathed alwaies to eate the flesh 

Somewhat we will here say of the strange birdes 
and fowles of Africa, and first of the Ostriche. This 
fowle liueth in dry deserts and layeth to the number of 
ten or twelue egges in the sandes : which, being about 
the bignes of great bullets, waigh fifteene pounds 
apiece. But the Ostriche is of so weake a memorie 
that shee presently forgetteth the place where her 
egges were laide, and afterward the same or some other 
Ostriche-henne finding the saide egges by chance, 
hatcheth and fostereth them as if they were certainly 
her owne. The chickens are no sooner crept out of 
the shell, but they prowle vp and downe the deserts 
for their foode. The Ostriche is a silly and deafe 


creature, feeding vpon anything which it findeth, be it 
hard and indigestible as yron. 

Of the Camelion. — The Camelion, being of the 
shape and bignes of a Lizzard, is a deformed crooked 
and leane creature, hauing a long and slender tayle like 
a mouse, and being of a slowe pace. It is nourished 
by the element of ayer and the sunbeames, at the 
rising whereof it gapeth and turneth itselfe vp and 
downe. It changeth the colour according to the 
varietie of places where it commeth, being sometimes 
blacke and sometimes greene. 

Of the fowle called Nesir. — This is the greatest 
fowle in all Africa, and exceedeth a Crane in bignes. 
This bird liueth a long time, and myselfe have scene 
many of them unfeathered by reason of extreme old 
age : wherefore, having cast all their feathers, they 
returne vnto their nest as if they were newly hatched, 
and are there nourished by the yoonger birds of the 
same kinde.' 

The Arabic writer El Khazwini says : There is in . 
certain of the Islands a bird of enormous size called 
Rukh, that feedeth its young ones with elephants. 
This is something like a bird, and makes us feel sorry 
for Leo's Nesir. 

We went to call on Mr. Warrington, who kindly 
gave me some old Eoman pottery, found in a tomb ten 

68 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. vii. 

feet underground, in his garden — two clay lamps, two 
lachrymatories, and a little saucer. It must be hard 
to express the deep and solid satisfaction of being the 
possessor of an unopened mound or early burial-place, 
I can think of no greater worldly enjoyment than going 
in the twilight to gloat over it — picturing jars of glass 
or pottery, golden spoons, or arrow-heads — reluctant to 
break the spell of fifteen or twenty centuries, the charm 
of the unknown. Mr. Warrington gave me a number 
of copper coins, some found in the tomb and others 
which had been brought to him by the Arabs. In the 
tomb were two glass urns of large size and very perfect. 

We drove back in the dusk, having to use much 
caution to avoid great holes dug by former inhabitants 
as granaries, and which in places stretched half across 
the road. Arriving at the house, we found Griovanni 
in high altercation with the old Arab muleteer who 
had accompanied us to Lebda. The Arab had post- 
poned asking for payment in the hope of inducing 
Giovanni to join him, by a promise of half the spoil, 
in an attempt upon my pocket. The old Maltese, 
having his conscience superior to indirect suggestions, 
denounced him to me, so that the Arab very nearly 
lost his backsheesh. 

I went out early to photograph the eastern face of 
the Roman Arch, which stands in sight of our windows, 
and within a few paces of the Consulate, I mounted 
on the flat roof of a foudouk opposite. 


This triumphal arch — one of the most ornate and 
florid pieces of work the Eomans ever constructed — 
stands in a narrow street between the Consulate and 
the Marina, facing nearly east and west. It is con- 
structed of pure white marble, uncemented. The arches 
are built up with wood and plaster, and the keeper of 
a low wine-shop has established himself in front of it. 
The interior serves as a cellar for the storage of liquors. 

It is, very roughly speaking, a square, and was ori- 
ginally a cube : a portion of it being embedded in the 
ground, its proportions are interfered with. The eastern 
front is much defaced : the northern face completely 
built in. Of the western, only the upper right hand 
corner and a small portion of the arch are visible. Here 
is some beautiful carving, the figure of Victory erect in 
a chariot drawn by a pair of she-leopards. The figure 
and chariot are mutilated. Above, on the architrave, 
is a clear Latin inscription in large characters : — 


To the Emperor Caesar Aurelius Antoninus Augustus 
Father of his Country, and to the Emperor Caesar 
Lucius Aurelius Verus Armeniacus Augustus, Servius 

70 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. vii. 

Scipio Orfitus Proconsul, with Uttedius (?) Mareellus, 
his Lieutenant, dedicated : Caius Calpurnius Celsus, 
manager of the public games. Curator, Quinquennial 
Duumvir, and Flamen of Quirinus for life, made the 
arch in solid marble. 

Marcus Aurelius did not need this monument to his 
memory : his fine memoir of his adopted father is 
monument enough. The joint Emperors Aurelius and 
Verus reigned in the latter half of the second century. 

There was formerly upon the arch a Punic inscrip- 
tion. It was, however, detached, sent to England, and 
presented by H.M. the Queen to the British Museum. 
Gresenius says : Exstat etiam titulus Punicus in arcu 
triumphali Tripolitano, quem setate Septimii Severi, 
ipsique anno P. Christum N. 203, vindicatum ivimus. 

At each angle of the building is a recess which once 
contained a statue, destroyed long since by the Moslems, 
being contrary to their religion. The interiors of the 
recesses are of plain hewn marble : the lintels and 
jambs beautifully moulded and carved. The marble 
has taken stains of grey and yellow : the carvings and 
mouldings throughout, where not defaced and worn, are 
extremely delicate and clear. 

The interior is a square, minus the recesses men- 
tioned above. In the centre is a dome of marble, 
formed without cement: each block panelled deeply, 
with decorated borders, and having in the centre of 


each panel a rose in relief. The four spaces round the 
dome are likewise panelled and ornamented. There is 
but little injury done to the interior: and if cleared 
out and cleaned, and the plaster partitions removed, it 
would be a most picturesque and interesting monument. 

In Colonel Playfair's Footsteps of Bruce there is an 
elaborate and graphic description of this arch, illustrated 
by a beautiful Indian ink drawing. 

The western face could not be photographed until 
early in the afternoon : and Peppo was posted to watch 
from the windows, and instructed to rush suddenly out 
and inform me directly the sunlight fell upon the 

The Latin character and numerals are both clear 
and handsome : but it has often struck me that to 
multiply or divide, in the latter, must have been a 
severe trial. The reader may amuse himself by divid- 
ing MDCCCLXXvn by lxxvii, and see how he likes it. 

It was market-day, and half the population were 
out at the Soukh buying provisions. 

I dined in the evening with Mr. Hay and his family, 
and spent a most agreeable evening. Mrs. Hay showed 
me presents from native chiefs : beautiful work from 
the country of the Blacks, rugs in blue and white, 
parchment boxes stained in red patterns, baskets woven 
of palm leaves and coloured cloth by negro women, 
leopard skins, &c. 

72 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. vii. 

I was awakened one morning by the chanting of 
children : and throwing the windows open, I found 
a band of them, headed by an old tangle-bearded Arab, 
swarming down the narrow alley. They were praying 
for rain, and moving in procession all through the city. 
The Moors regard the prayers of children as more 
acceptable to the Divinity than those of their elders. 
The heat was very great, the wells were becoming ex- 
hausted, and unless rain should come soon, many poor 
Arabs would be half-ruined. The Pasha himself, I was 
told — barefooted and bareheaded — went to the mosque, 
and afterwards down to the beach to throw stones into 
the sea. 

We went down to the shore. At a well of brackish 
water a number of Arabs were engaged, raising water 
by a si/nieh into a tank, whence other men drew casks 
full and loaded them on camels. These were taken 
down to the water's edge and emptied into the sea. A 
gutter, too, was cut in the beach, to let the overflow 
water run into the sea. Zapati were watching that no 
one touched or used the water which was being offered 
to Grod. This melancholy superstition is observed 
during a failure of rain. 

My plans had a sudden dislocation this morning. 

A steamer's smoke was descried on the horizon, away 

. beyond the reef. She steamed into the harbour and 

cast anchor. In another hour intelligence came that 

she was the Maltese steamer Allegra, sailing hence in 

CHAP. Til. CYRENE. 73 

a few days for Benghasi. This would be an excellent 
opportunity of visiting Cyrene. Since the land tele- 
graph through Barca to Egypt became defunct, com- 
munications are very infrequent with Benghasi. From 
Benghasi the Allegra was to sail to Malta, and I 
should thence reach Tunis. I decided to adopt this 
route. Dr. Camilleri, who had spent a considerable 
time in Cyrene, encouraged me, and helped me to form 

The plains of Barca and the peninsula of the Cyre- 
naica are very extensive and beautiful, perhaps richer 
in vegetation than any country bordering upon the 
Mediterranean : and the climate is one of the finest in 
the world. The country is well watered : olives, dates, 
caroubs, cedars, arbutus, cypress, fig, myrtle, and ever- 
greens grow luxuriantly. The ruins of the Pentapolis 
are very grand. The harbour is insecure, and the 
system of pilotage does not improve the access. The 
late pilot was a shopkeeper. Poor Cyrene ! Failure 
of crops, famine, cattle plague, extortions of ten years, 
have brought her very low indeed. The sponge fishery 
alone seems to prosper of all this unlucky province's 
industries. As late as 1872, the slave trade existed to 
an enormous extent. 

In the year 265 of the Hejreh, when El Abbas, grand- 
son of Touloun, revolted against his father Ahmed, Sultan 
of Egypt, he seized upon the Cyrenaica, the city of 
Leptis, and attacked Tripoli without success. 



Evening Kide — Esparto Grass — Black Families — An Ingrate — The 
Allegra — Usury, Caravans, and the Slave Trade — The Pashalik of 
Tripoli — Resources — Fall of the Leaf — Charity — Arab Home — Outer 
Bazaars — Love Charms — The Sheikh el Biled. 

The vice-consul called to-day to say that no arrange- 
ment had yet been made for my visiting the mosques, 
and Frederick Warrington called later upon the same 
subject. He was in hopes of getting permission in a 
day or two, but it was a matter of arrangement both 
with the Castle and the Mufti. 

We went out for a ramble. Mr. Warrington got a 
donkey for me, and we went to find his horse, a fine grey 
Barb, which was put up outside the Castle gate. In a 
yard which was crowded with esparto bales, was a rude 
screw press, in which the bales were being compressed. 
A screw descends upon the esparto from a platform 
above. The screw is driven round by half-a-dozen 
negroes, stamping and shouting in chorus. When the last 
turn is given, iron bands round the bales are riveted to- 
gether, and the bale is rolled out into the yard. The 
hardness of these bales is astonishing. Hydraulic pres- 


sure was tried for packing them, but it was found to 
injure the fibre. 

Esparto grass, which was known to the Tyrian colo- 
nists and Romans, resembles the beautiful feather grass 
of Southern Europe. Long used in the Spanish navy 
for cordage, and in Spain for the manufacture of baskets, 
shoes, and mats — most of the London Hansom cabs use 
them — it was first imported into England in 1862. In 
1868 more than 500,000^. in value came into this country. 
Tunisia and Tripoli have taken it up, and it bids fair to 
replace some of the decayed industries of those Regencies. 
It is the best known material, next to rags and cotton, 
for the manufacture of paper. The first newspaper 
printed on paper manufactured from it was the Akhbar 
of Algiers. Homs is the chief and most convenient 
point for its shipment from this Regency. It grows 
in illimitable quantities in the Gharian range, and the 
only cost is that of pulling it up and transport. Who 
knows, Homs may yet revive or reflect some of Lebda's 
vanished prosperity. 

The American consul in Tripoli has adopted the 
practice of protection of natives. Of course any Moor 
is glad to escape certain taxes, and to claim the interest 
of a powerful foreign government. As Mr. Warrington 
told me, if the English consul were to begin, he would 
have three thousand proteges in a week. To us the 
protection system seemed only to entail trouble and 

76 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. vin. 

responsibility : but the American consul may have 
been right, and we incapable of understanding the lofty 
considerations contained in his head. The English are 
respected by Arabs of the interior : many of them have 
asked Frederick "Warrington whether England means 
to take possession of the country. 

Mr. Warrington recommended me not to go to 
Kairwan in the present uncomfortable state of feeling 
between Mohammedans and Christians. Some Tunisian 
Moors in the bazaar confirmed this advice. Within two 
months, as is well known, the ill feeling culminated. 
The French and German consuls in Salonica were assassi- 
nated : the populace marched through the town with 
drawn swords : the holy standard was hoisted. General , 
panic existed in Constantinople. Softas and low class 
Mussulmen were purchasing arms and bidding Christians 
prepare for imminent death. The presence of European 
squadrons alone served to allay the fanatical excitement, 
and possibly to avert a Holy War. (I quote from the 

Outside the garden wall was a miniature village of 
two or three black families, dependent upon Mr. War- 
rington. Their huts, resembling bee-hives, are most 
charmingly constructed. A bamboo framework, um- 
brella-like, crossed by horizontal rods, like degrees of 
longitude and latitude on a half globe, are covered 
with palm-leaf matting. The whole effect is snug and 


picturesque. The little black servant came out with 
us, and was pleased to see the impression the hives made 
upon us, for one of these was the home of Mahmoud's 
parents, and the two little india-rubber babies rolling 
about in one tent were own brother and sister to 
Mahmoud. The women were weaving beautiful boxes 
and dish-covers, of cane and palm leaf and little rags of 
red and black cloth. Mr. Warrington sent me a mes- 
sage a year after this. ' He begs of me to tell you that 
Mahmoud, the little black boy, kisses your hand and 
says Inshallah — please God — you will always have health 
and plenty of money.' 

Mr. Warrington described these blacks as honest, 
faithful, and affectionate, excelling in good qualities the 
Arabs, who are generally strangers to gratitude. When 
Mr. Warrington returned from Fezzan he brought with 
him an Arab boy, whom he had cared for and adopted, 
but who turned out a thorough ingrate. 

In the evening a young Maltese, son of the agent 
for the Allegra, came in to play cards. This steamer 
is reported to be the slowest steamer in the world. 
Some say she can steam four knots, some five with a 
fair breeze, but these are the more sanguine and reck- 
less in statement. When I asked what the Allegra 
could do with a head wind, there was an awkward 
silence, which disquieted me when I thought of the 
voyage across the treacherous Gulf of Sidra. It is said 

78 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. tiii. 

that the look-out on this Skimmer of the Seas is kept 
over the stern, to warn off vessels coming up behind. 
The Maltese youth was engaged with his father in 
caravan ventures, pawnbroking, money-lending, and 
fleecing generally among the Arabs. 

Usury here is an excellent mode of turning an honest 
piastre. The usurers get thirty, and even at times 
sixty per cent, interest on good security, though the 
maximum rate authorised by law is twelve per cent. In 
the year 1869 a bank was established under Govern- 
ment auspices, upon the condition of twelve and a half 
per cent., but one cannot wonder that it was not a 

Salvatore's ventures in the caravan trade resulted 
sometimes in nothing, sometimes in a return of a thou- 
sand pounds upon a hundred. A partnership or bond is 
generally formed with a native, who has some available 
property in Tripoli affording a security for his good 
faith, and who accompanies and conducts the affairs of 
the caravan. Consisting of perhaps fifty or a hundred 
camels, loaded with goods of European manufacture, the 
caravan takes its departure for the interior ; to be absent 
for a year, a year and a half, or two years, as the case 
may be. To Ghadames — the ancient Cydamus, one of 
the cities of the Garamantes — the journey occupies 
perhaps a fortnight : to Murzouk, the capital of P ez- 
zan, from thirty to forty days : to Wadai five months : 


to Tomboukto the best part of a year. Caravans are 
constantly leaving and arriving at Tripoli. 

Tripoli is now the centre of all the caravan trade of 
northern Africa. Tunis and Algeria have from various 
causes lost their footing in this lucrative business. 
Tripoli, too, as I have said before, is geographically 
situated more conveniently than other countries for the 
pm-pose, being connected with the interior by a chain 
of oases. The great Mecca caravan from Fez no longer 
traverses Barbary, Barca, and Egypt. In recent years 
three thousand pilgrims, conducted by a religious chief 
of Kairwan, with ten or fifteen thousand camels, would 
encamp for sometimes a month's repose under the walls 
of TripolL The commercial caravans carry coarse 
European cloths, silks, barracans or Arab wraps, 
powder, muskets, glass, hardware, beads, toys, looking- 
glasses, paper, real and false corals, imitation pearls, 
turbans, amber, porcelain, coflFee cups, copper vessels, 
kaftans, embroidered muslins, handkerchiefs and cotton 
goods, essence of roses, and spices. 

Murzouk is a great centre of this trade. Hither 
the European goods are brought and exchanged for those 
of the interior — gold dust, senna, ostrich feathers, red 
alum, alkali, ivory, and, till comparatively late years, 
slaves. This villanous trade died out first in Algeria, 
next in Tunis, then in Tripoli : Barca's turn is next. 
Two or three thousand blacks used to be annually ex- 

8o THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. vni. 

changed for goods at Murzouk, which is in direct com- 
munication with WadaijBornou, Cashna, Bogou, Soccatu, 
and Tomboukto. The senna of Fezzan is considered 
next in quality to that of Sidon, but East Indian is now 
replacing them both. 

The Mecca devotees used to combine their worldly 
interests with their religious duties, and to bring from 
Morocco and elsewhere wax, gold dust, feathers, silk 
and cotton haiks, morocco leather, perfumes, kohhl, 
henna, vermilion pinguent, and drugs. On arriving at 
Tripoli they would exchange a portion of these for 
European goods, and on returning after a year or less 
from the East would oblige the Tripolines with Indian 
stuffs, pearls, Mecca balsam, musk, aloewood, incense, 
myrrh, civet, Cashmir shawls, precious stones, coffee, 
pistachios, naphtha, opium, and other Eastern valu- 

It would be well to define in a few words, in connec- 
tion with the subject of caravan trade, the geographi- 
cal position and limits of this Pashalik of the Ottoman 
Empire. Extending from Cape Razatina on the borders 
of Tunis, to Port Bomba on the frontier' of Egypt, it 
has a coast line of nearly eight hundred miles. Its ex- 
tension inward is very irregular, owing to the interruption 
of the desert : but it comprises the large and wealthy 
province of Fezzan, the district of Ghadames, and 
may be said to extend, as cultivated territory, two 



hundred and fifty miles inland. Its population has 
within half a century been estimated from one million 
and a half to two millions. Mr. Hay now estimates it 
at five or six hundred thousand — the urban population 
being, as a rule, Turkish or Moorish — the rural, Arab or 
Berber. Fezzan projects southwards into the Great 
Sahara : Wadai, the next fertile region, lies to its south- 
west. In Wadai, a thousand miles from Tripoli, is the 
large inland lake, Tchad. I must apologise to the 
reader for saying so, but I have always had a vague and 
silly wish, which I cannot account for or excuse, to go to 
Lake Tchad. Ali Bey writes of a Central Sea : probably 
meaning Lake Tchad, described to him as lying fifteen 
days' journey eastward from Tomboukto — and of which 
Negro barques took forty-eight days to navigate from 
shore to shore. 

At a distance of from ten to twenty miles from the 
coast runs the Gharian range of mountains, almost east 
and west. Farther inland run the Zuara mountains, 
separated from the Gharian by a fertile plateau. 

The soil along the coast is of great richness, producing 
tropical and European vegetation freely. Indian wheat 
grows to the height of a man. Barley yields twice as 
much as in Europe. In the interior the date tree attains 
a height of a hundred feet, and the dates are of a fine 
quality. Cassob, a plant yielding a nutritious grain, 
grows abundantly. Cotton has been successfully culti- 


82 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. viii. 

vated, as well as the mulberry and the castor, or, as an 
Egyptian dragoman once called it, the cod-liver oil 
plant. The lotus tree is said to grow here, the fruit 
being contained in a pod not unlike that of a tamarind, 
and tasting when ripe sweet and agreeable, somewhat 
like gingerbread. Grold is found in veins towards Fezzan, 
and even on the sands of the seashore. 

Early one morning one of my barbers from the 
bazaars appeared in sad trouble. We were in treaty 
together for an old mother-of-pearl mirror, profusely 
carved, and having in the centre a double-headed eagle. 
So fat and puffy was the body of this bird that we were 
satisfied it had swallowed the other eagle and appro- 
priated its head. Having been in his family for more 
than eighty years, the barber had not the heart to part 
with it : but as I used to go daily and sit in his shop 
for half-an-hour, he knew he would have to give in at 
last. It occurred to him that he might save it by get- 
ting for me a friend's mirror, equally curious and 
handsome. In riding with the friend's mirror the 
donkey fell, and the tip of the frame was broken and 
lost. This mirror was, as many Moorish mirrors are, of 
leaf-form : perhaps to signify the transient and fading 
nature of this life. However, I reassured the barber 
and bought it, taking advantage of his gratification to 
secure the double-bodied eagle too. 

We went to the oflfice of the Allegra'a agents to choose 


my berth, and to the Usury department to change some 
circular notes : finding it uncommonly difficult. A 
fine tall Tripoline Jew, by name Nano, managed this 
business. Nano Sahib charged me fivepence for every 
mahboob or dollar, which seemed ample. 

Tripoli is of all the Mediterranean cities the most 
difficult place for changing money. In the bazaars it 
was almost impossible to pay separately for the objects 
we bought. Anyone who goes there should take a keg 
of small silver with him from Malta. Not long ago — 
there was a dead-lock in trade, owing to some foolish pro- 
hibition on the import of silver — business was paralysed 
for a month. A very common coin here is the Maria 
Theresia dollar. 

This day was the Mohammedan Sabbath : the Moors 
and Turks were in their cleanest linen, and every beggar 
of Tripoli was in the streets. It is the day of almsgiving 
among the Arabs. The Jews here are charitable, and, 
in every commercial transaction, one in every thousand 
of value is set aside for the poor. This is better than 
in Archangel, where, if I remember rightly, a tax of 
two per cent, on the freight of every ship arriving was 
imposed under the name of Church-money. No one 
who knows the Eussians will ask how much of this 
money used to go to the Church. 

We went to see an Arab Home — founded more than 
two centuries ago by Osman Pasha, of Constantinople 

o 2 

84 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. vxii. 

— for the reception of poor Mussulmans of decent posi- 
tion. It is a cleanly comfortable kind of khan, having 
small apartments round it. Some of the inmates — 
whitebearded and feeble, busy reading old books — 
were rather pleased with our visit. Afterwards we 
went to a native gambling house, where Arabs and 
Levantines were drinking raki and brandy, and playing 
cards and dominoes. 

One morning we started on foot for a general cir- 
cuit of the bazaars and city. Commencing with the 
woollen and the old slave bazaars, we came to the 
eastern extremity, where beyond the Bab el Meshiah 
we found them weighing oil. Men were making rude 
wire brushes for wool carding: in pottery shops we 
saw sieve-like pots for kouskousou, earthen jars, water 
bottles, and little money pots. Next came shops with 
red chiles, blossoms of pomegranates, which are used 
as an astringent, and pomegranate husks, used in 
tanning skins : helba, a small bitter grain which, when 
powdered with com in cakes, has fattening properties : 
ropes of esparto grass, and native sulphur from the 
plains of the Syrtis. Sulphur, when mixed with tar, 
serves as a plaster for camels afflicted with the irritable 
disease called djerdb, which leads them to rub them- 
selves against walls. Bundles of brooms or brushes of 
palm leaves hung in some shops, with baskets of dead 
sponges — those drifted up by the sea. Some shops 


had cotton, nails, gunflints, necklaces, matches, and 
palm-wood cages all together — looking a little mixed. 

We watched them make neat sieves of beechwood 
and sinew, drums, and dellous or leather bags for the 
siniehs. Camels, which had brought up from the 
harbour great Djerban oil and water jars, were moan- 
ing and trumpeting while they were being loaded with 
lime, as if they had a pain in their stomachs, and 
nothing would ever do them any more good. This 
sententious-looking beast, to gain his private ends, 
takes a satisfaction in making a fuss about nothing, so 
that one would almost wish to give him a really good 
load, worth moaning for. 

Above us, towards the Castle, was the cemetery for 
the better families of Tripoli, with the customary 
marabout and little white domes. Above the towering 
Castle wall, rose the buildings and green latticed win- 
dows of the Pasha's seraglio. This building has lost all 
proportion, from the constant additions made to it, in 
order to contain the members of the successive reigning 
families : no such individual having lived, imder ordi- 
nary circumstances, elsewhere than within the Castle 

We found a native quack doctor squatting on the 
sand, surrounded by simple Arabs, whose fortunes he 
was telling, while he prescribed for their ailments and 
sold them amulets and love charms. I wanted to 

86 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. yin. 

satisfy myself as to my own fortunes, but it would have 
given offence to the Arab dupes. Close by was the base 
of a marble column sunk in the ground, where two years 
ago, I was told, the last murderer was beheaded. They 
are hanged now, in the Soukh el Haifa, or esparto 
market, near the beach. "We watched a native black- 
smith on the sands, heating a sickle blade, while a fish 
roasted in the red coals beside it. The donkeys are all 
stationed outside the gate of the Meshiah : they are not 
allowed, except when carrying travellers, to peram- 
bulate the city. 

We went to the Bazaar Foum el Bab, where the 
saddlers and accoutrement makers were at work. We 
saw high red Arab boots, leather covers for flint locks, 
embroidered boots for rich Bedouins, gold embroidery 
upon parchment, and leopard-skin saddle-cloths. 

Across the bazaar were Moorish gunmakers, inlaying 
the stocks with ivory and silverwork made by the Jews 
in the city. Arquebuses or blunderbusses, known to 
the Italians as troTnboni, and which would admit an 
egg into their muzzle, hung in most of the shops. 
Farther on was an Arab cafe, having native water- 
colour drawings on the walls, and rows of sherbet 
syrups in bottles on shelves. 

The whole of this fine bazaar belongs, I was in- 
formed, to the Sheikh el Biled, who came to Tripoli a 
poor man, from the islands of Kerkeneh, and became 


governor of Tripoli. In this capacity he amassed 
great wealth. Eecalled to Constantinople on account 
of his extortions, he died there, and his brothers are 
now the richest men in Tripoli, owning much house 
property in it. Unwilling to intermarry with the 
Moors of Tripoli, they are said to have bought Circassian 
slaves and married them. 

A row of five old cipolline columns stood near 
the gate. They once carried poles for the overland 
telegraph to Egypt, contemplated by the Grovern- 
ment; but the Arabs, in their superstition, destroyed 
portions of the line, and it was never carried more 
than ten miles out of the city. The telegraph to 
Malta, which got out of order in 1870, might have 
been restored, but for the unwillingness of the Grovern- 
ment to give a moderate guarantee. 

Near a fountain is the com market : and not far 
from here are the private mosque and kiosk of the 
Pasha, who comes here and smokes behind the latticed 
windows in the summer evenings. Close by is the 
.prison for slight oflFences : criminals are imprisoned in 
the Castle. We passed the Artillery Barracks, the end 
of the silk bazaar, a soldiers' haromam — a foudouk for 
Europeans, then an Arab foudouk. 

We were passing along the seawall. Looking over 
it on to the harbour were two European consulates, 
and the comfortable house of Dr. Dickson. Then came 

88 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap, tiii. 

the mosque and marabout of Sidi Dragut, the famous 
old filibuster, who is said to have built the city walls : 
and who, laying siege to Malta in 1565, met his end 
by a ball from the guns of the Knights. Women were 
coming out from the marabout, where they had been 

Turning up into the city we pass the Club — close 
to which are Zapati Barracks and a soldiers' guard- 
house, and entering an alley one yard in width, reach 
the Greek church and convent. Then we traverse a 
Christian bazaar, and emerge among the fruit sellers 
near the Eoman arch. 

Looking over the Harbour wall, I was a little startled 
to see the Blue Peter flying on the Allegro's foremast. 
I was not ready to leave Tripoli, not having seen the 
mosques and many other things : but I was unwilling to 
miss the chance of going to Cyrene, and hastened to the 
house. Peppo was despatched to buy a week's provisions, 
as the Allegra carried nothing for passengers : my lug- 
gage was ready, and I was on the point of sending all 
down to the harbour, when news came that the Allegra 
would not sail before daylight. 



Djemma 1 Basha — Djemma 1 Gordji — Djemma '1 Sheikh Bel Ain — 
Djemma'l Sidi Dragut — Panorama — The Crescent City — Delusions — 
Productions and Misfortunes — Voiage of the lefus — The Genowaies. 

I HAD begun to fear that the deliberation and procras- 
tination characteristic of Oriental countries would result 
in my never seeing the interiors of the mosques. The 
number of visits by Mr. Warrington both to the Castle 
and to me, the number of journeys to and fro by the 
Consular dragomans, the negotiations and consultations 
by the civil and religious authorities, would have been 
more than sufficient if I had been in treaty for mar- 
riage with one of the Pasha's most attractive daughters. 
At length I learnt that an afternoon was appointed 
for my visit : the Mufti had arranged that I was to 
enter before evening prayer. I should not be able to 
visit more than one or two, I was told, but I had con- 
fidence in Maria Theresia dollars. At the hour fixed, 
a soldier from the Pasha, bearing a staff of authority, 
presented himself, with another official, and with one 
of Mr. Hay's well-diessed dragomans, who carried my 
little camera on its tripod like some joss or mysterious 


emblem. These dragomans needed tempering in the 
furnace of the miseries of human life. Civil to their 
superiors, they were insolent and rapacious with the 
lower classes. 

The first mosque we came to was that of Hamed 
Pasha, situated at the south-east end of the city, and 
surrounded by the bazaars. I removed my boots, and, 
to the astonishment of many of the bystanders, went 
in with the soldier. Djemma '1 Hamed Pasha is sur- 
rounded most picturesquely with an irregular colonnaded 
court, which I photographed, while my escort turned 
back any passers-by. The tiles and white marble 
columns and Moorish arches give this exterior much 
grace and lightness. We entered the building, which is 
a perfect square. Four rows of graceful white streaked 
marble columns and capitals, from which spring round 
arches, support the roof, which is vaulted with twenty- 
five small equal white cupolas. Sunlight entered through 
grated windows and fell upon the great strips of mat- 
ting and old Turkish carpets. Eailed and latticed gal- 
leries run round the prayer chamber. The floor, where 
not matted, is tiled in zigzags of black, white, and 
red. Beautiful old Persian tiles in soft colours line 
the walls to the height of twelve feet. In the space 
above these runs a great band of fretwork arabesque. 
Between the cupolas is snowy fretwork in plaster, also 
in the inimitable Arabesque and Moorish designs. 


From the ceiling hang lamps of iron, brass, and old 
Venetian glass. Venice has for centuries traded with 
Tripoli, and I have bought in Tripoli old Venetian 
glass beads which had come back from the interior. 
Over the central door stands out the broad square 
canopy-shaped gallery of the choir, supported on four 
elegant spiral pillars. It is corbelled out on all sides 
above the pillars, with the carved Moorish stalactite pat- 
tern, and is all delicately painted and gilded. The 
mihrahy or niche, consists of a horse-shoe arch and 
white marble pilasters, inlaid with black marble. The 
membar, or pulpit, is of inlaid marble, having coloured 
flower designs, and the sides of the staircase of carved 
wood. The doors of the mosque, in wood, delicately 
carved outwardly, are painted within. The whole 
building is an airy, bright, and graceful example of 
Saracenic architecture. Yussuf Pasha — the richest, 
cruellest, and most energetic of the Pashas of Tripoli, 
who died old and blind — lies, with the male members 
of his family, biuded here. 

Hard by the British consulate stands Djemma '1 
Gordji, the most beautiful of the Tripoli mosques. Its 
prayer chamber is the counterpart of that I have just 
described. Beautiful Turkish carpets cover the floor. 
The exterior colonnade in the white marble court is 
most picturesque. Its inner wall has lovely Persian 
tiles up to a height of ten feet. The doors, of plain 


wood, stand in frames of coloured marbles. The roof 
of the colonnade is picturesquely coloured within, the 
little rafters showing, and painted red. 

The mosque of Sheikh Bel Ain is entered from the 
Turkish bazaar. Its proportions are similar to those of 
the other two, but it is much disfigured in its details. 
Nine old and massive columns, very probably from 
Lebda, but coarsely painted in imitation of marble, 
and having their acanthus capitals smeared yellow, 
support the sixteen even cupolas of the roof. The walls 
are whitewashed, the Tnembar is vulgarly painted with 
red roses and crescents. Low galleries stand under the 
arches : there is a little kubbeh, entered from the 
prayer chamber. The mosque is very old, and, with 
the examples of the other mosques, it is hard to under- 
stand the reason for vulgarising this building. The 
outer doors, decorated with roses in ironwork, are most 
beautifully and elaborately carved. 

The mosque of Sidi Dragut — the oldest, I am told, 
in Tripoli — lies down by the harbour side. The grim old 
corsair himself, who made the flag of Tripoli the terror 
of the Central Sea, lies sleeping here. The mosque is 
of the form of a headless cross, having a row of four 
columns running down each side of the prayer chamber. 
They are rudely painted to represent blue veined 
marble : indeed the whole of the decorations of this 
mosque are tasteless to deformity. 


We ascended, by a winding stone staircase, to the 
upper gallery of the high minar of Djenama '1 Gordji. 
At our feet lay the historical and interesting city. To 
the north ran a curved point, containing the old fort 
and ruins of the Spanish battery, and ending in a reef of 
dark rocks with the white surf sweeping over them. A 
dense black fog lay on the horizon, the sea was dull : 
the air, close and oppressive, seemed to indicate bad 
weather at hand. The little fleet of sandals, speronares, 
and boats, clustered snugly in the harbour ; farther out 
lay the Malta steamers and the war ships, among twenty 
sailing vessels. 

It was a city without a gable — an irregular surface 
of white and creamy roofs — one could traverse the city 
on its housetops. We had glimpses of brightly-coloured 
interiors, colonnades, and green lattices. Snowy groups 
of cupolas and the half-dozen minarets showed the posi- 
tions of the mosques, and at the far south-eastern 
extremity towered the irregular storeys and battle- 
ments of the Castle. A single tall palm, the South 
palm, rose from the Jews' quarter. Many attempts 
have been made to abolish this palm, but it is marked 
on charts for the use of vessels making the harbour, and 
the authorities will not have it touched. Doves and 
pigeons flew quietly about us, and the hum came up 
from the streets. Beyond the Castle stretched the 
white curve of the harbour beach, towards the Sultanas' 


Domes. The landscape ends in the palm forest of 
Tadjoura. Behind the white crescent city westward 
stretch black rocks : the barren shore dwindles away 
into nothing : a noble grove of palms rises beyond 
the walls, and beyond the palms stretches the rose- 
coloured desert of sand, away to the faint range of the 
Grharian mountains. 

Leo Africanus writes : The inhabitants of this 
region affirme that the city of Tripoli it selfe was 
situate in times past more to the northe, but by reason 
of the continuall inundations of the sea, it was built 
and remooued by little and little southward. For 
proofs whereof there stand as yet ruines of houses 
drowned in certain places of the sea. 

This must be taken under reserve, for the depths 
indicated in the chart beyond the reef are from five 
to ten fathoms. Such misplaced convictions are not con- 
fined to Barbary. We have foimd it difficult in our 
own country to persuade persons that their lands were 
situate in times past under the sea, and that their an- 
cestors must have been a race of mariners and fishermen. 
The abundance of dates in Tripoli is a comfort to 
the Arabs, providing them with a cheap and whole- 
some diet : but for those they sell they get next to 
nothing, the price being at times as low as a halfpenny 
a pound. Horses are good, though scarce : the cattle 
and sheep are poor. The wool is coarse : much of it is 


woven at Misratah into carpets and barracans, in 
striped colours. Of these there were sent to the 
Cyrenaica alone, in one year, sixty thousand pounds' 

The foreign trade of Tripoli is carried on chiefly by 
steamers, of which two were trading during my visit 
between this port and Malta. Occasional steamers call 
on their way from the East — generally to complete 
their cargo by loading esparto at Homs. Small coasting 
vessels sail eastward to Homs, Misratah, and the ports 
of the Cyrenaica : and westward to the Lesser Syrtis 
and Tunis. Formerly Tunisian steamers traded here, 
but they were, as Mr. Hay says, deficient in steam 
power, and imperfectly navigated. 

In 1871 the drought half ruined the Arabs. Of 
their cattle, once a profitable and considerable item of 
export, owing to the small meat consumption by the 
natives, two-thirds died. The same fearful propor- 
tion of camels and horses perished, or were slaughtered, 
and sheep became nearly extinct. The crops almost 
failed. The import of necessaries of life amounted to 
half a million sterling. The subsequent years were 
brighter for the Regency, crops improved, esparto was 
obtained in larger quantities, and caravans were richer 
and larger. The existing drought caused serious anxiety 
to the Tripolines. 

The government oflBcials squeeze the poor Arabs 


cruelly. I have been told that assessors will rate an 
Arab's crops at four times their value, and make him 
pay on that. Indeed, the Arab has sometimes to pay 
beyond the whole revenue from his crop. Kai'ds and 
others, who are unrestricted, amass much wealth. 

In Hakluyt's old Black-letter Collection of Voiages 
and Travels, is an account of a voyage made to Tripolis 
in Barbaric, in the yeere 1583, with a ship called the 
lefus. The commodities of that place, says the 
chronicler, are sweete oiles. The king there is a 
merchant. The rather willing to preferre himselfe 
before his commons, he requested the factors of the 
said ship to traffique with him, and promised them 
that if they would take his oyles at his owne price, they 
should pay no manner of custome : and they tooke of 
him certain tunnes of oyle. Afterwards, perceiving 
that they might haue farre better cheape, notwith- 
standing the custome free, they desired the king to 
licence them to take the oyles at the pleasure of his 
commons : for that his price did exceede theirs : 
whereunto the king would not agree, but was rather 
contented to abate his price : insomuch that the factors 
bought all their oyles of the king custome free, and so 
laded the same aboord. Eventually some dispute 
arose, the captain of the lefus was hanged, twenty-six 
Englishmen were cast into prison, of whom eleven died : 
— the ship and merchandise, worth seven thousand 


ducats, were confiscated : and the unfortunate survivors 
of the crew were only released after a vigorous but 
polite representation to the Sultan Mourad, by her 
Majesty Queen Elizabeth. 

Leo tells a good story of the Tripolines' capacity 
for business. Tripolis was surprized and sacked by a 
Genouese fleete of twenty sailes. Whereof the King of 
Fez, then Euler of Tripoli, being advertized, gave the 
Genowaies fiftie thousand ducates, vpon consideration 
that he might enioy the towne in peace. But the 
Genoueses hauing surrendred the towne, perceiued 
after their departure that most part of their ducates 
were counterfait. 

These glorious days have passed, but Tripoli may 
take courage : she has children not unworthy of her 



The Jews' Quarter — The Place of Stoning — The Dyers — An Austere 
Sentry — Bab el Djedid — Jewish Reception — The Synagogue — The 
Murderer— The Dutch Consul — The Black Village — In the Palm 
Groves — Orange Garden — Essence Distilling — Fruit and Blossom — 
The Castle — A Roman Lady — Bouba — The Circe — The Last of 

We went to the Jews' quarter one Saturday morning. 
A poor shabby alley led to it. We came to a square 
of waste ground, a dirty ill-drained area. It had a 
melancholy interest, for many a poor Jewess, who had 
been unfaithful to her husband, was stoned to death 
here. Banishment, of late years, has taken the place of 
stoning. We passed a school, shops of mat weavers, 
overtook a caravan just starting for the interior, and 
watched the barracan makers in the weavers' quarter. 
In a corn mill a blindfolded camel was trudging round, 
an apparatus ringing a bell at intervals to mislead him. 
We came, behind the Jewish quarter, to the curriers' 
quarter. Here were great jars of red dye, with which 
the stainers were busy. The goatskin, stretched across 
a pole, is violently tugged at, and polished with a 
coarse pad. The skin, after being soaked for twenty or 


thirty days in cold water and the powder of small dried 
figs, is stripped of its hair and boiled in the cochineal 
stain. In a basin hollowed out of a beautiful old 
capital, two Arabs were pounding coarse salt, brought 
from the salt mere beyond Tadjoura. 

We were passing along under the fortifications, and 
mounting the rampart to obtain a commanding view, 
were warned off by a Turkish sentry. We pretended 
not to understand him, and tried to explain that we 
considered the fortifications some of the most hand- 
some and efficient that we knew, and that the white- 
wash did him much credit : but he was a poor practical 
minded fatalist, and told us to be off at once. We 
traversed the worst quarter of the city, and went out 
by the Bab el Djedid. The angles of the wall were 
defended by heavy bastions. Under the walls the once 
broad moat was a sheet of black mud. The Jewish 
cemetery was close by, looking over the sea. Within 
the gate El Djedid stood a small revenue building : 
above it grew a gigantic plant resembling the coriander. 
The leaves and blossoms are used for poultices, and the 
seed for food, in the country of the Blacks. 

We went to visit the brother of Nano Sahib, in a 
pretty and picturesque dwelling of the Jewish-Moorish 
type. We were very hospitably entertained with 
brandy and sweetmeats, of which, understanding it was 
good breeding to do so, we ate large quantities. We 



passed along the Har el Kebir, the chief street of the 
Jews' quarter, and entered the synagogue. Such a 
disorderly, noisy, irreverent congregation, with its forest 
of dark blue turbans, I have never seen. One of 
the rabbis read from the Hebrew Scriptures, while 
conversation was animated and general. At the door 
we asfeed a young boy for a light for a cigar. It is the 
Sabbath, he said, turning away. We were within a 
short distance of the Consulate, when we noticed a large 
crowd near it. Getting among the people, we presently 
saw Osman Warrington, armed, ride up to the Consulate 
gateway. Behind him, escorted by two soldiers, came 
a camel, on which sat a youth chained hand and foot, 
apparently eighteen or twenty years old, with a small 
cat-like face and a hunted look. It was the murderer 
from Homs. After him came other soldiers, with two 
children riding in front of them, and escorting a mule 
which bore a miserable, emaciated, frightened creature, 
carrying a child in her arms. This was the wife of the 
murdered man. They were assisted to alight, led into 
the courtyard of the Consulate, and the gate was closed. 
Having one day occasion for some money, I was 
recommended to go to the Dutch consul. I found a 
dark individual seated at his desk, and said I had been 
directed to him in the belief that he would be glad to 
change some English circular notes for me. Looking 
at me with the expression of a mud turtle who thinks 


it is possible he may be taken advantage of, and turned 
over on his back, the Dutch consul asked to see the 
notes, and examined them carefully. Suppose the 
notes should be counterfeit, the stranger a deceiver, 
who had travelled to Tripoli in order to profit by his, 
the Dutch consul's, simplicity. He eyed me vigilantly, 
and I began to enjoy it. Had I any letter of introduc- 
aon from the bank? he asked. I had been on the 
point of handing it to him, but said I was not at the 
moment in a position to present it. Had I any friends 
in Tripoli ? I could hardly say that I had. Had I 
any means of showing how I came by the notes ? I 
said it would be difficult. Having aroused the Dutch 
consul's worst suspicions, I asked for the notes, told him 
that I had the bank's letter, had brought introductions 
to Tripoli, was a man of immense means, and wished 
him good morning. The Dutch consul ground his 
teeth as the crisp bank notes and the golden commission 
vanished, and began to think that to be suspicious was 
not always to be wise. 

Nano Sahib took the notes cheerfully, though he 
charged rather cheerfully too: and I should not re- 
commend any traveller to go to Tripoli in order to 
profit by exchanging his letters of credit. So scarce is 
pmall change, that the miserable copper and zinc 
piastres, half and quarter piastres, are at a great pre- 
mium here. On gold or on silver dollars the traveller 


loses fifteen or twenty per cent, in order to fill his 
pockets with the debased coinage of Constantinople. 

One fine sunny afternoon — although almost every 
morning and afternoon here were fine and sunny — we 
mounted our donkeys and rode over to the Black vil- 
lage, which squats on a sloping sandbank near the 
palm woods. It was a perfect village from the heart 
of Africa. Three or four hundred Dzriba, or palm and 
bamboo beehive huts, like those adjoining the Her- 
mitage, were huddled together. Some were surrounded 
with screens of palm mats, and prickly pear bushes 
stood at intervals between them. "We entered the wig- 
wam of the chief man of the village, very neatly con- 
structed, and having furniture simple in the extreme. 
A few earthen vessels, mats, and a mud stove were the 
whole of it. We walked from hut to hut. Some of 
the negroes, and, I am sorry to say, negresses, were 
sprawling about, drunk with buha, or hohha : a kind of 
cheap spirit distilled, chiefly by the Jews, from fer- 
mented dates, green figs, or raisins. Leghma is another 
temptation to the lower classes here. Poetically it is 
called the Tears of the Date. It is the sap of the date 
palm : an unproductive tree is decapitated, a cavity is 
made in the head of the trunk, and here the sap collects. 
When fresh it resembles the milk of the cocoa-nut, and 
is pleasant enough. It soon becomes sharp, not unlike 
cider or kvass, and is intoxicating. Herodotus says Cam- 


byses sent to Ethiopia by the hands of the Ichthyophagi, 
a vessel of palm tree wine. It is also said to have been 
used by the Cave-Dwellers of Arabia. I had always 
regarded the Troglodytes as a quiet deserving race, sub- 
sisting chiefly upon roots or snails, and water : had it been 
used by the Ichthyophagi I should have wondered less. 

A negro murdered another here last evening : indeed 
these poor Ethiopians seem sunken in vices to which, in 
their native land, they were strangers : and their moral 
condition reflects but little credit upon their neighbours 
in the city. I was told that occasionally a negro 
murderer is decapitated at an hour's notice, to make an 

We rode ofif through the palms between high mud 
walls. We could hear the voices of children in an Arab 
school. A negro was enjoying the fiendish and heart- 
rending noises he was producing from a ixide bagpipe. 
The juicy sprouts of the fig trees, increasing daily as it 
seemed, stretched above the walls. Solemn palms 
stood in carpets of brilliant poppies, and the air was 
thick with the sweet scents of fruit blossoms and creep- 
ing plants. Arabs, barefooted, and slung by a girth of 
palm fibre, were climbing the palms to remove the 
fibrous growth and dead branches from the crests. We 
pulled up at a garden. 

In the court, near a deep well lined with maiden- 
hair fern, were four black women in white barracans. 


wearing coral and silver earrings. Near them were two 
or three tattooed children, with necklets of orange 
blossoms. One woman was spinning wool, the others 
were distilling orange flower water. In a round-headed 
bell-shaped copper retort, placed over a rude stove, the 
orange blossoms, having been exposed on a mat to the 
sun for an hour or two, were being boiled. From the 
head of the retort ran a long tapering spout or tube, 
which passed through a large earthen vessel filled with 
cold water. The orange flower vapour passing through 
the cold tube is condensed, and falls in liquid into bottles 
placed at the mouth. A moderate-sized bottle of 
orange flower water costs here fom* or five shillings. 

These flower waters are much used for sweetmeats 
and sherbets. Barbary is a paradise for essences. The 
blossoms of jasmine, acacia, quince, narcissus, aloe, 
lemon, rose, scented poplar, orange, geranium, tuberose, 
thymes, mint, and sambak, or double jasmine of 
Arabia, are distilled in great quantities : and the essence 
bazaars are most fragrant. The method of distilling 
rose attar is similar to that described above. A damp 
spring is more favourable for the rose blossoms than a 
dry one. They contain more essence the less quickly 
they develop. A stony, sandy ground is the best for 
them, and under favourable conditions 5,000 Ibse. of rose 
leaves will produce 1 lb. of oil. In a dry season the 
yield will be only half as much. The best attar is worth 




nearly ll. the ounce. If a bottle of good oil is put in 
water of the temperature of 63° to 68° Fahr. it will freeze. 
Poor oil will not freeze at 52°. Idris oil is much used 
in the adulteration of this attractive and costly essence. 

In an inner court of the garden we found five 
ostriches, brought, poor things, from Fezzan only ten 
days ago, and still very shy. Their legs were chafed and 
sore from the cords which had bound them. The fruits 
of Tripoli have long been famous for their fine flavour, 
and we ranged about among mulberry trees, and orange 
trees laden with blossom and oranges of all shapes and 
kinds. Some had coarse rind like Mandarins : some were 
blood oranges, said to be the result of grafting the 
orange on the pomegranate. No evidence of this is in the 
trees, however : it may have been in some earlier stage 
of development. It was rather late in the season, the 
skins of many were thin and dry, and every tenth 
orange I ate would be dry and woolly. The rest were 
perfect. We cantered home, bearing huge branches of 
orange and lemon blossom which scented the whole 

In the evening we went to the Castle, a rectangular 
building about two hundred yards square, with bastions. 
We mounted the broad approach and came to the Trea- 
sury, where sentries stood with fixed bayonets. Thence 
to the printing office whence the newspaper Trablus 
is issued. Entering a court, we found the Mint of 


Yussuf Pasha, the Court of Justice of the Beys — 
Tripoli has always been regarded as prompt in justice — 
the Government Pharmacy, and the establishment of 
the chief of the Treasury. Here were arches and 
fragments of columns. We went to the prison, where 
we found fifty or sixty criminals condemned for murder, 
in a barred and grated chamber. Some of them 
advanced to mock us, and several shook their fists at us. 
One tall, bold-faced man approached the grating with a 
joke : he hadmm-dered the keeper of a gambling-house 
at Benghasi. » 

One day Mr. Said called, bringing with him a ser- 
vant, who carried the marble head of a Roman lady to 
show to me. It was white and smoothly chiselled — the 
hair and features were as clear as when cut. The hair 
was twisted up in a picturesque coil at the top of the 
head. Mr. Said had lately bought for one shilling and 
sixpence a Roman jar, three feet and a half in height, 
and very perfect and fine in form. It had been disin- 
terred in the neighbourhood. The Allegra, it trans- 
pired, had come to Tripoli with a view to transporting 
the lately appointed Pasha to Benghasi. Her conduct 
during the last few days excited my constant uneasiness: 
one morning the Blue Peter would be flying and I would 
hasten to pack. In the course of an hour I would learn 
she was not to sail till next day. In the evening the 
departure flag would be flying again. This went on for 


days. It seemed the Pasha would not agree to the 
terms demanded for his conveyance, and the signal of 
departure was a playful mode of inducing him to give 
in. I awoke one morning to find the Allegra disap- 
pearing on the horizon on her way to Malta. So much 
for my journey to Cyrene. 

One evening a little Jew came in, as we were 
drinking tea and orange flower water, to announce 
his imminent marriage. He had paid fifteen mahboubs 
for his wife, and seemed to think he had done a clever 
thing. He did not even know his wife's name, but 
understood she was known as Bouba. On the last 
Sunday I spent in Tripoli I went to the Church of 
England service at the Consulate. Nearly all the 
English residents were there, but they barely numbered 
a dozen. Afterwards I went to the service at the 
Catholic church, an ordinary plastered building with 
votive pictures, where many Maltese were assembled. 

The Circe had arrived, and was to sail, \< eathei per- 
mitting, for Malta in the evening : but as the weather 
was stormy and threatening, the barometer was falling, 
and heavy seas were rolling over the reef, while every 
vessel in the harbour rocked uneasily at her moorings : 
it was contemplated to postpone the steamer's sailing. 
I went to Mr. Said, to prevail upon him to send the 
Circe to sea, and the good-natured little man wrote the 
order to get up steam. 


In the afternoon a message came from the Ciree to 
ask me to go on board. At the landing-place were my 
kind and considerate host, with Mr. "Warrington and 
other gentlemen, and I was sorry to wish them good- 
bye. The anchor was got up, and in a threatening 
evening the little steamer Ciree made her way out of 
Tripoli harbour. 

The houses, walls. Castle, and palms faded out of 
sight, and as night fell, the Circe was pitching into the 
heavy waves of the open sea. 



Malta — Cape Bon — Tunny Fishery — Goletta — Perruquier — The City of 
Verdure — Preparations for Kairwan — Sketch of Tunis —Purchases in 
the Bazaars — Scenes in the City — Rosebuds and Orange Blossoms — 
Adopt a Young Moor — Braham the Silrersmith — The Bardo — The 
Great Aqueduct. 

All that night and all next day we rolled quickly. 
Sagramo ! groaned a Maltese, sick of the rough voyage. 
Men for the land and fish for the sea ! Towards 
nightfall we saw the flashing light of Delimara. We 
entered the harbour of Valetta at nine in the evening, 
and slept on board the Circe. The Tunis steamer was 
lying alongside of us, waiting for cargo and fine 

^ I remained several days in Malta. Mackintosh, of 
the Junon, dined with me one evening, and I was 
shocked to hear of the death of our fellow-passenger 
Cholmeley, who died two or three days after our 
arrival here. At length the obliging agents of the 
Tunis steamer sent to tell me that she was ready for 
sea. As the sunset gun was fired from St. Angelo, we 
steamed out of Malta harbour. 

Two or three months after this I had a letter from 


Captain Kirkpatrick, telling me the sequel of the 
Maltese murder at Homs. The woman, who gave 
evidence against her companion in guilt, was released, 
and the young man was condemned to twenty years' 
imprisonment. ' A Maltese jury,' the captain added, 
' can hardly be prevailed upon to punish murder by 
death : it is not considered a capital offence.' Each 
nationality has its peculiar sentiments. A French 
gentleman was brought before the Correctional Police 
in Paris, for giving little boys money to strew orange 
peel and make slides on the pavement in front of his 
house. The case was dismissed when the gentleman 
explained that he was expecting his mother-in-law to 

In wind and mist next day we passed three steamers, 
making but little headway. Off Lampedusa we came 
among numerous whales and porpoises, and a lonely 
turtle who looked seasick and upset. It was very cold 
and cheerless — rough squalls came incessantly. To- 
wards evening we were abreast of Cape Bon, and its 
flashing red and white light. "When the wind is in the 
south-east, the captain told me, very sudden gusts 
come down from the mountains of the Dakkhul : the 
glass falls, and the wind will shift abruptly to the north- 
west. So the apparent absurdity of Virgil's tempest, 
in which -^neas's ships were attacked by Eurus the 
east-south-east, Notus the south, Africus the west- 


south-west, Aquilo the north-north-east, and eventually 
Zephyrus the west, winds, at once, is only one of the 
many examples of the poet's faithful observance of the 
facts of nature : 

The East,, the West together there, the Afric that doth hold 
A heart fulfilled of stormy rain, huge billows shoreward rolled. 
Thereioith came clamour of the men and whistling through 

the shrouds, 
And heaven and day all suddenly were swalloiced by the 
Away from eyes of Teucrian men ; night on the ocean lies, 
Pole thunders unto Pole, and still with wiUlfire glare the skies, 
And aU things hold the face of death before the seamen's eyes. 

We passed the uninhabited islands of Zembra and 
Zembrotto to seaward, rounded Eas el Ferthass, and 
entered the Grulf of Tunis. At Sidi Daoud are rich 
tunny fisheries. The survivors of the poor tunny 
caught here in May, are caught at Cape Passaro in 
August and September. Last year the sea destroyed 
the fishing nets and tackle, to the great satisfaction of 
the tunny. There are two other Tunisian tonnaras — one 
ten miles east of Bizerta and one hear Monastir — both 
abandoned, however, since 1853. The Carthaginian 
prawns are historic and famous, having been sent in 
old times to Imperial banquets at Eome. They measured 
six or seven inches in length. The mullets of the Lake 
of Timis, says old Dr. Shaw, are esteemed the largest and 
sweetest on the coast of Barbary. 

112 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xi. 

"We were at anchor ofif the little white seaport, 
Groletta, in the morning. The landing was much less 
disorderly than formerly. The place was smarter, and 
seemed to be looking up in the world, after its vicissi- 
tudes. Once a deep and capacious harbour, in which 
the fleet of Belisarius rode when he made his triumphal 
demonstration before Tunis, the lake had so dwindled 
away by the time of Barbarossa, that when he attacked 
Groletta its garrison retired across the lake to Tunis. 
Kecaptured by the Christian armies and given to the 
Spaniards in 1535, Groletta, after a most brave defence, 
was regained by the Ottomans, who massacred all but 
three hundred of the garrison. 

At the small inn of Groletta, waiting for the train, 
I got into conversation with the landlady's son, a youth 
of French parentage, Tunisian birth, and of evident 
intelligence. His name resembled Perruquier more 
than any name I remember, and that name will do 
very well for him. Perruquier had an excellent face 
for a lie : I recognised that his family must be of great 
antiquity — in fact, dating from the Age of Bronze. 
This pleased me, and I engaged Perruquier as drago- 
man. He had served, so he told me, in the Mobile 
Guards during the siege of Paris, and shared their 
sacrifices and glories. This gentleman proved a smart 
and useful servant, though he endeavoured consistently 
to get to windward of me in money transactions : and 


SO bold and subtle were his schemes that much inge- 
nuity was needed to defeat them. Perruquier had 
all the instincts of the filibuster : he was fond of 
napoleons : he could not regard them without a certain 
melancholy longing. Unlike the much-abused Catiline, 
who was alieni appetens, sui profusus : Perruquier 
was greedy with his own property, lavish with what 
belonged to me. 

Beside the lake stood a large herd of camels, while 
gulls and flamingoes were busy fishing. The western 
breeze shook the old olives to our right hand, and rippled 
the waters of the lake. We could see Tunis, the City 
of Verdure — a mass of picturesque cream-coloured 
buildings and minarets, surmounted by the Kasbah — 
sloping gently up a background of purple and green. 
No smoke rose to soil or obscure the city. Round it 
stretched the mountains which make of the Gulf of 
Tunis so lovely a panorama. In the lake stood a small 
island containing a fort, which that famous soldier and 
author Cervantes defended against the Turks in 1573. 
It was a falling off to enter Tunis by rail, instead of 
through a postern gate at dead of night, escorted by a 
dozen irregular soldiers with lanterns. 

There were few guests at the hotel. One was a 
short gentleman, who seemed unconscious that nature 
had provided him with two ears and one mouth, in 
order that he might hear much but say little. In the 


114 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xi. 

visitors' book I found the name of Comte Pepper, 
Engleterre, and wondered which of our leading families 
he represented, and where he had learnt French. The 
consul-general advised me not to go to Kairwan, 
except under Grovernment protection, and promised to 
do his best to get me a letter and escort from the Bey. 
It had hardly been my wish to go thus : but when we 
cannot have what we like, it is well to like what we 
have. Mr. Wood himself went to the Bardo, and his 
dragomen were constantly going to and fro during my 
stay in Tunis. A Sicilian pastrycook, a few days 
before, had shot a judge attached to the Italian con- 
sulate, and afterwards destroyed himself. The judge 
was dangerously wounded, but likely to recover. 

We went to the bazaars, which, though not so rich 
as those of Cairo, Constantinople, or Damascus, are 
more picturesque and charming. The population seemed 
scantier, and the life less animated than four years ago. 
The shops are not open till nine or ten, closing soon 
after half-past two : the Tunisians go early to bed, to 
repose from the fatigue of doing little all day. 

I will make no excuse for giving a brief sketch of 
Tunis and its capital, in order that the reader may 
make a passing comparison between this and the neigli- 
bouring Eegency of Tripoli. 

Tunis, the leading Barbary state, lies midway be- 
tween Gibraltar and Egypt, on the high road of Eastern 


commerce, and has large internal resources. Having a 
coast line of four hundred miles, it comprises per- 
haps forty thousand square miles of territory, and prac- 
tically represents the two Roman provinces of Zeugi- 
tana and Byzacium. It is possessed of eleven harbours, 
once invaluable for corsairs and the slave trade. It has 
two considerable rivers, the Medjerdah and Wad el 
Kebir : three large lakes, those of Bizerta, Tunis, 
and Sidi el Hani. Its population, once estimated 
at seventeen millions, and again in the eighteenth 
century at five millions, has, through the plagues of 
1785 and 1829, and the famine and typhus of 1867, 
dwindled away to a million and a half. It is said to 
have contained in the days of the early Christian 
Church one hundred and thirty-two episcopal sees. 

The southern district, the Djerid, or Country of 
Dates, contains sixty thousand inhabitants, two millions 
of date palms, vast groves of orange, lemon, fig, apricot, 
peach, and pomegranate trees, with rich tracts of 
cereals, vegetables, melons, &c. &c. There are mines 
of lead at Djebel Eesass and at Zaghwan, both known 
to the Eomans : but the Beys, fearing the cupidity of 
Christians, till late years discountenanced any develop- 
ment of the country's resources. The public credit of 
Tunis, since the establishment of a financial commis- 
sion, has been good. Railways, telegraphs, a bank, and 
other steps towards improvement have been encouraged. 

X a 

116 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xi. 

The history can be sketched in a few words : it can- 
not be dissociated from that of Carthage. First came 
the establishment, five centuries before the Christian 
era, of the Phoenician colony on the heights of Cape 
Carthage : the development of a splendid city : its in- 
tercourse with the known world and explorations into 
the unknown : its military glories and rivalry with 
Rome, its fall and destruction, while our ancestors 
were still sporting among the oak trees in skins and 
paint. Then its restoration as a Eoman city, and its 
second rise to splendour : its conquest by Crenseric's 
Vandals in the fifth century after Christ : its recovery 
by Belisarius for the Byzantine Emperors in the follow- 
ing century : and its final destruction by the Saracens 
under Okhbah, founder of Kairwan. 

These last invaders, not having maritime capabilities, 
rather than revive Carthage, thought well to establish 
their capital at Tunis, farther from the sea : and 
eventually, not feeling secure there, at Kairwan. After 
centuries of vicissitudes, disputed by Turks and 
Christians, taken by the famous pirate Redbeard — the 
elder of the Barbarossa brothers — in 1531 : Tunis was 
captured by Charles V., and again taken by the fleet of 
Sultan Selim after a brilliant defence. Impatient of 
control from the Ottoman capital, the Tunisian Moors 
declared themselves a Republic one and indivisible, and 
elected their own Beys. They then entered upon an 


active course of maritime requisitions, which made the 
Barbary flag unpopular in the Mediterranean. The 
present government rather resembles that of Egypt, the 
Beylik being hereditary. 

The stately and populous city of Tunis, as Leo calls it, 
has five large and many small mosques, eight-and-twenty 
baths, eighty public fountains, a hundred and ninety- 
three caravanserais, two hundred and forty coffee shops, 
sixteen barracks, Moorish and European hospitals, two 
libraries, containing twelve thousand MSS., the rem- 
nant of seventy-two thousand destroyed by the Spaniards 
— Cervantes' comrades - -in the Abdallah Palace early 
in the sixteenth century. Its chief manufactures are 
linen and woollen cloths, embroidery, morocco leather, 
burnouses, horse accoutrements, silk shawls, silk and 
gold and silver tissues, jewellery, wearing apparel, 
woollen rugs, haiks, and mats. The fez, or sheshiya, 
famous throughout the Levant, is made in large quan- 
tities : although from the manufacture in France and 
Trieste of cheaper ones, the export has fallen off. The 
Romans brought water, fifty-two miles, from Zaghwan 
and Ain Djugar, by an aqueduct, in some places a 
hundred feet high : the present government in 1859 
did very much the same, partly utilising the old 

We became the largest possessors in Tunis of Arab 
dresses, attar of roses, pearls, amber beads, engrave(^ 


stones, old silver work and gold work, Oriental china, 
old blue and white tiles, mosaics, coins, musical instru- 
ments, pottery, hasheesh, rahatlakoom, old brass lamps, 
silk and wool materials, Tripoli and Beng-hasi rugs, 
little old essence cabinets carved and inlaid, and old 
hand mirrors. What in the world we should do with 
them when we got them home we did not know. The 
Tunis gold coinage is good : the copper is bulky, giving 
much satisfaction in the receiving, less in the carrying, 
and least in repaying it. So much goes to make a 
piastre, that the traveller's spirits droop and he becomes 

We made a point of bargaining firmly with the 
merchants. On one occasion, having positively refused 
to give more than eighteen piastres for an old silver 
amulet, and the Jew having refused to take less than 
nineteen, we were at a dead lock. Anxious to give way, 
but to save the principle, I took a napoleon, and, point- 
ing to the Emperor's hea.d,, Shouf,Samaniyatashar! 
Eighteen ! Then to the reverse, Tasatashar ! Nineteen ! 
Maleh ! said the silversmith. Good ! Spinning the 
coin, it fell in my hand head upwards, but I called out, 
Tasatashar! and the Arab bounded into the air, clapping 
his hands, and ran about the bazaars telling everyone 
how fortune had given him the advantage over a Eoumi 

The wanderer in Tunis will traverse narrow wind- 
ing alleys with irregular white buildings : through fine 


old arabesqued Moorish arches are glimpses of cool 
bright courts, with waving trees and trickling water. 
Suddenly he will emerge into the brilliant bazaars. 
Series of vaulted roofs are supported on light graceful 
arches, all white, and springing from delicate, brightly 
coloured pillars : the little shops are recessed on either 
side. The costumes of Tunisians, Moors, Tripolines, 
Djerbans, Algerians, Fezzians, Arabs from the Djerid and 
the desert, blacks and infidels of all nations, are inde- 
scribably picturesque. The Tunisians' costumes are 
almost invariably in perfect taste. The silk djubbas 
were of deep red and apple-green, or deep blue and 
golden yellow, the vests and jackets pale rose coloured, 
or of delicate blues, greens, and yellows, in silk, cotton, 
and wool. It is a constant picture, always varying 
and always charming. Here is a regular Moor, with 
a cinnamon face, a snowy turban, a rosebud above his 
ear, a deep blue embroidered jacket, waistcoat, and 
drawers, white stockings, and yellow shoes. The next 
man to him is in slaty blue and pink, the next a negro 
in a blue cloak lined with brown fur. Women pass in 
white woollen haiks, holding out in front of their faces 
red, black, and blue silk scarfs. 

Strolling from one bazaar to another, the traveller 
will be more pleased as he goes on : past beautiful 
angles of Moorish buildings, mosques, arches, and colon- 
nades : past caravanserais, where vines or fig trees throw 


cool shadows on the camels feeding in the court, while 
the dark-faced white-robed Bedouins lounge among 
them. Thence perhaps to the silk bazaars, where 
lovely flox silk hangs in great bunches, suggesting 
wonderful embroidery. Then to the merchants of carpets, 
shawls, and stuffs, and through zigzag streets beyond 
the bazaars, with the beautiful blue sky over-head, and 
where solitary palms stand up from courts and gardens. 
Lovely minarets abound, square, arabesqued and 
tiled, others thin and graceful, with delicate little gal- 
leries : domes covered with old green tiles, like dragon's 
scales : inviting cafes, with splendid studies of Arabs. 
The traveller will decorate his coat with sweet musk- 
roses, his lips with the golden tinge of orange juice, 
and he will drink numerous cups of coffee as he squats 
on little square sugarcane stools. 

The evening sky melts from turquoise into golden, 
and thence into the rosy colour of a flamingo's breast. 
The abundance of flowers in the bazaars is charming. 
Small bouquets of rosebuds and orange blossoms, stuck 
on slips of wood, are in almost everybody's hand, and 
cost one caroub. There are four caroubs in a penny. A 
bouquet is very generally worn over the ear, just beneath 
the turban. 

We often went in the evenings to ramble about and 
watch the phases of Oriental life — sometimes to an 
Arab concert, or a Jewish concert, or a hasheesh es- 


tablishment, where hashashtn were smoking away their 
senses. From this word comes ' assassin,' its present 
sense being curiously diverted from the original. One is 
a person who occupies himself in killing himself, the 
other in killing other people. On one of these occa- 
sions our guide's lantern light fell on a little bundle of 
clothes and rags, huddled up under an archway. It 
was a miserable starving little Arab. We had him 
brought to the hotel, and he stayed a week or so there 
before we left Tunis. He would probably not have 
lived long, poor little creature, and food could hardly 
be given to him at first. 

He became attached to us, and apparently grateful. 
He became distressed when the time for our departure 
came nearer, and begged to be allowed to come to 
England. The landlord assured him it was impossible, 
and told him that no Mussulman could go to England, 
which was a Christian country. Ali, who was not over 
eight years old, went one day to the hotel kitchen, 
and after persuading the cook, received some ham and 
a little wine. Then he went straight to the landlord. 
Now, he said, I am no longer a Mussulman : I can go 
with the English gentlemen. He would steal into our 
bedroom and raise our hands to his lips, then seat himself 
on the floor watching us with tears in his eyes. Even- 
tually a kind and charitable American lady, then living 
in Tunis, prevailed upon us to give her charge of Ali. 


A year after our return to England we wrote, asking 
if it were time to send more money for the boy's wants. 
His kind mistress sent the following reply : 

' I regret exceedingly I have no good news to com- 
municate to you regarding the little Arab boy you took 
under your protection. After your departure I sent 
for the child, bought several suits of clothes, shoes, 
stockings, &c., and kept him with me in Tunis, fearing 
that, in the very delicate state of health I found him 
in, he might be neglected at my farm. He was taken 
ill, and for three weeks I had the doctor every day. I 
nursed him most faithfully : he recovered, and a month 
after he ran away. He was found, completely devoid 
of clothing, at the Bardo. I dressed him again, and 
again he ran away, selling his clothes. Three times he 
did the same thing, and at last my researches were in 
vain. At last a Spanish lady here told me she had 
found a poor child, and had taken it in to feed and 
clothe it. The child was the same, and after a few 
weeks he left her also, taking with him several articles 
besides his clothing. Twice he did the same, and not 
being able to be found the last time, we suppose he 
has left the town. I regret extremely that your action 
has met with so much ingratitude.' 

We had grown friendly with one of the leading 
Jews among the silversmiths, Braham by name. We 
used to sit in his shop while we bought souvenirs from 


his neighbours, and one day he begged us to do him 
the uncommon honour of visiting him at his house. 
Here he regaled us with eau-de-vie, and sweetmeats 
made of almonds and honey. Our farewell to Braham 
was picturesque. We exchanged many complimentary 
speeches. We promised to think frequently of him 
when we should have returned to our native land, 
while he assured us that the recollection of our personal 
beauty and amiability should be for ever engraven on 
his heart. We said that the hours spent in his shop 
were amongst the pleasantest we had passed in Tunis : 
and he declared that we were the only Christians he 
had ever really loved. We said his upright dealing 
had given us a very high impression of the character 
of Tunisian goldsmiths : and he said all his regret was 
that he had not been able to make even better bargains 
for us. We left the good old man with tears rolling 
down his cheeks, and next day returning for a final 
visit to the bazaars, we detected him in the act of 
plundering us in the matter of some pearls. 

I remembered Braham, and went to his shop. 
Another tenant was there. Poor Braham — had he de- 
frauded his last English traveller? I asked for him, 
and learnt he was in the bazaars. In two minutes I 
saw Braham pushing through the crowd: he recognised 
me at a glance. I am thankful to God for your return, 
he said : which I believe he was. But where is the other 

124 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap, xi, 

gentleman ? he said in the same breath — remembering 
how rich the other was. I shook my head. What has 
become of him ? he asked Perruquier. I said I would 
rather not say. Has misfortune befallen him ? I lowered 
my voice and said — Married. 

We went twice to the Bey's Palace of the Bardo, 
driving under the city wall, along a road bordered by 
acacias with sweet clusters of wliite blossoms. All 
this side of the city wall is in a state of neat repair, 
and armed with modern artillery. On one occasion, 
four years ago, in preparing for the visit of a foreign 
prince, the workmen were set to whitewash the walls, 
and the guileless Arabs whitewashed the guns too. We 
passed the high modern aqueduct and reached the 
palace fortress. At each angle were heavy bastions 
armed with fine brass guns, and defended by the Bey's 
Zouaves, his best troops. Crossing a drawbridge, we 
drove imder many archways and entered a square court. 
Mounting to a second court, colonnaded and lined with 
lovely tiles and the green lattices of the women's apart- 
ments, we reached a fine broad marble staircase with 
handsome balustrades in the Moorish style. We tra- 
versed tlie ^<?hole of this very beautiful building, which 
resembles the Alcazar Palace at Seville. Its interior 
details are much disfigured by European decoration. 

We drove out, past gardens and orange groves, 
fields of barley, cypress trees, aged olives growing in a 


dry and exhausted-looking wilderness, and past the 
Manouba, a suburban village. Beyond this the road 
divides, one branch running to Bezha, the other via Kef 
into Algeria. The latter is a journey of five days on 
horseback, but a courier travelling quickly can do it in 
three days and a half. We reached the great Eoraan 
aqueduct, built to bring the waters of Ain Djugar to 
Carthage. I have a silver coin, showing the stream on 
its way, and a lion bearing Severus, hurrying along, 
delighted to bring the news to Carthage. A great 
stretch of forty-six arches of the aqueduct stands out 
of the plain, very complete still. The piers are of mud 
blocks founded upon white hewn blocks of stone. The 
fine round arches are faced with stone : the conduit 
itself is in cement. These ruins of a magnificent work 
stood amid thistles, wild marigolds, prickly pear, and 
fig trees. Bees were humming about, and a flight of 
forty hawks, having their nests in the clay arches, 
hovered overhead. 

We returned by the Carthage Gate to Tunis and 
drove past what was now, and ordinarily, a grass mar- 
ket, where hooded Arabs were bargaining for fodder, 
but what was lately a place of execution. Three weeks 
ago an Arab who had plundered General Khaireddin's 
house, was led for two or three hours through the streets 
— the oflScers with him crying that all who did the same 
should be treated alike — then brought here and hanged. 



Bakkoush — His Antecedents, Career, Characteristics, and Accomplish- 
ments — Old Times — Mosaics — Stroll through the City — Panorama — 
The Diamond Market — Sanctuaries — The Mosque of the Olive Tree 
— Departure from Tunis. 

We made four years ago in Tunis the acquaintance of 
a remarkable man — a deaf mute — Bakkoush by name, 
and buffoon to the Bey. He entered the hotel one day, 
and remained to dinner. He was a tall man in a fez, with 
a heavy black moustache, and eyes that moved like 
lightning, that nothing escaped, and which served him 
well in the place of his two lost senses. He was known 
in all classes of Tunisian society, and all manner of 
stories — true or untrue — were told about him. Some 
said he had been a collector from his youth upwards. 
On one occasion, having inadvertently collected some- 
thing belonging to his neighbour, he was brought before 
the Bey. During the inquiry the deaf mute entertained 
his Highness by mimicking any minister or official who 
turned his back, and eventually made signs that he 
wished for a pinch from the Bey's snuffbox. The Bey, 
to humour him, handed him the box, which Bakkoush 


returned. In a few minutes, feeling for his box, the 
Bey found it had vanished. Bakkoush had picked his 
Highness's pocket, and the Bey was so much amused 
that he had patronised him ever since. 

His gestures and mumbling sounds were unmistake- 
able — he positively talked. His facility for expressing 
himself and for assuming the expression of others was 
startling. Nothing escaped his penetrating eye, and 
still less his sense of humour. A whisper behind one's 
hand put him on the alert at once, and it was useless 
to refuse to repeat by signs what had been said. The 
tricks he played with cards or upon us were incredibly 
clever. He was a born conjuror : it was inconceivable how 
he stole one's watch, pencil, or money, and transferred 
them to a neighbour, and what versatility and subtleties 
of expression his face assumed. In the same instant a 
diabolical contortion would pass into a jovial, rollicking 
smile. A Grerman Baron with a fat simple face sat near 
us at table, staring at the mute. In the midst of some 
description or mimicry, Bakkoush — who took in the 
company at a glance — suddenly stopped, and pointed to 
the Baron's fat countenance staring in open-mouthed 
astonishment. It was so irresistibly comic that the 
whole room roared, while the Baron grew crimson. 
None of us was safe to turn his head, for his faintest 
peculiarity was in a second reproduced in Bakkoush's 

128 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xii. 

His mode of life and means of subsistence were a 
puzzle. He would get a present, of some garment let us 
say, and upon that he would live for days and gain money. 
He would take that garment, perhaps, to a man who had 
a cabinet — no matter what — and the marvellous fellow 
would satisfy the man with the cabinet that the garment 
was worth the cabinet and a little money : and make the 
exchange. The cabinet he would take to a man with an 
engraved ring, and persuade him that it would be a pro- 
fitable thing to give the ring and a little money for the 
cabinet. And so on. He was a real genius. He was 
known at all the consulates. Spy, robber, and worse 
names were bestowed upon him, but none were established. 
He would certainly have made a magnificent spy or free- 
booter, from the opportunities his faculties of amuse- 
ment gave him. He had been sent to Constantinople to 
accompany the Tunisian tribute, and must have enter- 
tained the Commander of the Faithful. 

This singular being took a fancy to my friend and 
myself: would daily bring old engraved stones and offer 
them to us as souvenirs, and when we were leaving, Bak- 
koush spent an hour and a half upon his knees helping 
us to pack our boxes of curiosities. When we wished 
him good-bye, he told us by gestures that he would carry 
the recollection of us in his innermost heart while he 
existed. I asked for him when I returned to Tunis : no 
one knew where he was : some said he was out of favour 


with the Bey, others that the late chief minister had 
sent him on some private mission to Europe : at all 
events, he had disappeared from Tunis. 

We were cheered at the hotel by the arrival of more 
guests, passengers by the French mail steamer. Among 
them were Colonel Playfair, the popular and hospitable 
consul-general at Algiers, and his genial travelling 
companion, the Earl of Kingston. They were interested 
to hear I had come from Tripoli, having photographed 
the Eoman ruins, in quest of which they now came to 

While we were at dinner a little Italian fiddler came 
in, and in a heedless inconsiderate moment I gave him 
two piastres. In a quarter of an hour another musician 
arrived, and a gentleman promised me we should have a 
bad time of it, for they abounded in Tunis. Time was, 
when Tunis had a gigantic organ-grinder brought over 
in an Italian steamer, whose strength and ferocity drove 
all the other musicians away. In a foolish moment the 
authorities of Tunis banished him. I resolved to 
inquire for this organ-grinder on my way through Italy, 
and tempt him by a heavy reward to England, where 
every leading city would quarrel for him. The question 
in our country must one day be decided, whether or no 
it is justifiable to give an organ-grinder poisoned meat. 

After dinner one evening I went to a cafe. Behind 
the counter was the old landlord of the Hotel de France, 



once a good-looking, well-dressed ex-soldier of the 
French army. Poor old man, how changed now! 
Keeper of a poor cafe chantant, his eldest son outlawed 
from Tunis : his second son, a smart handsome youth, our 
guide in Tunis and whom we had taken with us to Bona 
to join the Chasseurs d'Afrique in Algeria, had struck 
his officer and been shot at Constantine : his daughters 
had abandoned him : his wife was with him still, but 
looking twenty years older. They remembered me, and 
talked hopefully of being able to take another hotel. 
Poor old couple. I fear they never will. 

Our company at their old hotel had been a little 
mixed : Bakkoush, whose antecedents were unknown : a 
Sicilian gentleman who left his country to escape his 
creditors : a Sard who had given a husband an excuse for 
shooting his wife, and who escaped to Tunis : an old 
German chemist, who afterwards wrote a book of his 
travels in which he handsomely referred to us as his so 
angenehmen englischen Reisegefahrten, and so on. 

One day Mr. Wood showed me the finest examples 
I had seen of mosaic from Eoman Carthage. A lion 
grinning, of almost life size, and a fine female head. 
The consul-general seems to be the right man in the 
right place here : his ability and personal influence 
have contributed materially to the steady advance of 
the Tunis government in the path of civilisation. Old 
and oppressive restrictions towards Europeans have been 


removed, concessions have been made, and freedom of 
all kinds encouraged. Eeal property can be held safely 
by Europeans, and the consul-general has set the ex- 
ample by buying some property near the railway station. 
Indeed, Tunis is showing an example which her suzerain 
the Sublime Porte, if wise in its generation, would 
endeavour to follow. 

We will take one final stroll through the city. 
Beyond the silversmiths', lies the picturesque bazaar of 
the saddlers and leatherworkers, where the white-robed 
Bedouins come to buy high red boots, holsters, &c. In 
one or two shops were chiefs* hats, with vast brims and 
crowns and covered with ostrich feathers. A mulberry 
tree with tender green foliage stood in the centre of 
this bazaar. We went out behind the Kasbah. Near 
the gate sat a row of respectable negro women, twenty 
or thirty in number, selling bread. 

We sat by the great fountain of the waters of Zagh- 
wan and Ain Djugar, surrounded by a pretty garden 
full of wallflowers, roses, geraniums, strawberries, vio- 
lets, and bananas, and looking over the snowy city's 
roofs and palms. Beyond were the olive-clad hills, the 
lovely panorama of the lake, the gulf, the sea, and the 
purple lead mountain — Djebel Resass. To our right 
lay the holy mount of Sidi Bel Hassan, having a 
cemetery, and a marabout whither childless women go 
to pray. 


132 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xii. 

We returned to the city, and, passing through the 
woollen and stuff bazaars and the wool market, reached 
the chief entrance of the Kasbah. That once fine old 
building is disfigured by restoration and new plaster, 
in the worst style of art. It contains accommodation 
for four thousand soldiers. Its mosque has a beau- 
tiful minaret, with arches in black and white marble 
and tile work. In front of the Kasbah is the place of 
execution, a Europeanised open space. A few weeks 
ago five Arabs were hapged here for carrying off a 
woman. Below this is the fez, or sheshiya bazaar. 
This trade is almost a monopoly of rich Moors. A 
thick and closely-woven woollen skullcap is soaked, 
swollen, and dyed : having been scraped with thistle 
brushes, combed, and hammered, it resolves itself into 
one of those compact shotproof red head dresses. The 
weaving is done in the country, most of the dyeing at 
Toburba, on the river Medjerdah. 

The stuff bazaars of the Jews were closed and 
securely padlocked, it being Saturday. This recalls 
Hammerfest, where the warehouses and stores are full 
of valuable walrus ivory, whalebone, seal oil, skins, and 
furs of all sorts, and where the doors are carefully locked 
too. Only the keys are hung up on a nail outside. Dis- 
honesty is almost unknown to the poor Laplanders and 

"We went one day to buy some Arab paper. The 


merchant was an aged man with a long white beard. 
He had long outlived the term of mortal life, being 
apparently about a hundred and eighteen years old : 
and when he asked us twenty piastres for the paper, we 
said one to another that it would be unworthy to offer 
him less. \Mien we gave him the money the old man 
refused it and wanted his paper back. We wept as we 
reminded him that he had only asked so much, and said 
we trusted he would let the paper go. It was the first 
time in his long, long life that he had received what he 
had asked. He was quite upset, and as we went away the 
fine old boy shed tears because he had not asked more. 

The mosque of Abdallah — a beautiful tiled and 
marble building — once used as a Spanish church, stands 
in the bazaar. It has a stately hexagonal minaret. 
Indeed, the Tunis minarets are models of grace and 
variety. In the quiet street of the Bey's mosque were 
a few shoemakers, and some boys indolently spinning 
silk. The little mosque itself has a green tiled roof, 
plaster fretwork in the eaves, Moorish arches, and 
marble pillars stained by time and splashed with white- 
wash. It has marble slabs inscribed with Arabic text : 
the minaret and its gallery, panelled in tiles, stand 
out into a blue sky. 

Not far from the Bey's town residence — whither he 
rarely comes except in Eamadhan — is the diamond 
market, where those stones are hawked about from 

134 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xii. 

eleven o'clock till noon on all days except Saturdays. 
Men hurry about here with haiks, shawls, and carpets 
for sale, and soft transparent stutfs made in Djerba 
and the Djerid. Here is the centre of the Tunis 
bazaars, the scene of almost daily auctions, and a spot 
where an idler can spend hours simply watching 
Oriental life and picturesqueness in their purest and 
most graceful form. This grace is inherited by these 
descendauts of the Moors of Spain, who attained a 
culture and refinement reached by no other Moslem 
race. Narrow streaks of sunlight stream through the 
wooden peaked roofs — falling on the columns and their 
white capitals, on Moorish arches or marble fountains, 
on old arabesque tablets — on women in black masks 
and bundles of clothes — Jews in blue turbans — green* 
turbaned scherifs — on brown haiks from the Djerid, 
Bedouins in white hoods and burnouses — negroes with 
baskets — on embroidered cloth dresses of delicious har- 
mony and softness — apricot, lemon, and pale blue, black 
embroidered with red, straw colour, and pink abbas, 
blue and brown striped cashabiyeh from the Sahel. 
We wander through this masquerade to cafes where 
groups of Arabs smoke and sip coffee on matted seats, 
watching bamboo birdcages, wonderful pictures of 
Tunis, Stamboul, and Algiers, by native artists, and 
gold fish in glass bowls. 

"We stroll on, and watch them spinning silk, white, 


yellow, red, and all manner of colours. Here comes a 
donkey laden with oranges and lemons. At one caroub 
each ! sings the Moor : oranges I very sweet and full of 
water ! one caroub each ! We traverse the grocers' 
bazaar, where the groceries stand in brightly-coloured 
Djerba pottery. In a pipe manufacturer's shop are 
ostrich eggs and leopard skins, left no doubt in ex- 
change by some Arab of the interior. Then through the 
copper bazaars, where all manner of red copper pots and 
vessels hung. "We went on towards the Jew quarter, 
reached the decaying mosque of Sidi Mahhras, once 
but no longer a sanctuary. We were shown one or two 
of these in Tunis, into which if a criminal or refugee 
escaped, no pursuers could follow him. All they could 
do was to brick him up. 

Towards the centre of the bazaars stands the fine 
Mosque of the Olive Tree, Djemma '1 Zituna : we would 
pass one or other of its entrances a dozen times in a 
day. We had glimpses into the marble courtyard, 
arcaded with white pillars brought by Hamouda Pasha 
from Carthage and other ruined cities. For a Christian 
or Jew to enter this mosque in open daylight would be 
almost certain death. If he escaped the armed sentries 
who guard its doors, he would be torn to pieces, or 
stabbed, or knocked on the head, by the shopkeepers, 
scherifs, or saints who haunt the bazaars. Conse- 
quently I very rarely entered the Mosque of the Olive 

136 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xii. 

Tree — indeed 1 do not remember entering it at all. 
The essence . bazaars were favourites of mine : the 
atmosphere was rendered fragrant by ambergris, attar 
of rose, and twenty other essences. The whole heart of 
this city is a moving panorama of freshness and pictu- 
resqueness of which one never tires. It is probably a 
picture of what Cordova and Granada were. 

I spent the evening with Colonel Playfair and Lord 
Kingston, who, like myself, were about to start on their 
travels. The light-hearted nobleman had a very elabo- 
rate and perfect photographic apparatus, with which he 
meant to illustrate their journey on Bruce's footsteps. 
An hour before Perruquier and I had to start for the 
Goletta, the Bey's letter arrived. This was all I 
needed, and we travelled down to Goletta, embarking 
the same afternoon on the Rubattino steamer Corsica. 
She was a fast seaworthy little boat, having a comfort- 
able saloon, and, for ladies, who are not of much ac- 
count in these latitudes, a cabin over the screw and 
round the rudder-post, where the sounds of both could 
be heard to great advantage. The wind began to rise, 
and the green waters of the Gulf of Tunis grew crested 
and rough. 

Perruquier had blossomed into blue serge garments 
and high-heeled boots, and looked so imposing that I 
felt quite abashed to ask in his presence for second-class 
accommodation for him. He sauntered about the poop, 

CHAP. xn. OLD SCORES. 137 

and laid the foundation of deadly sickness by smoking 
many cigarettes. He means to spend some months in 
Paris this year, he tells me, to regler quelques petites 
affaires which originated in a former visit to that gay 
and festive city. 

138 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xiii. 


Sail for the East Coast — Susa — Bazaars — The Sahel — Adrumetum — 
The Port of Kairw4n — The Revolution — Monastir — Leptis Parva — 
Eas di Mas — Mehdia — The Patriarke of Cairaoan — Saleetum. 

The Corsica put to sea at four o'clock. The sun set, 
and the young moon came out. We passed Eas Addar 
or Cape Bon, the promontory of Hermes of the an- 
cients, rounded Eas el Mustapha, where stands Kalibia, 
close to which the Numidian King Massinissa was 
killed : and entered the Grulf of Hammamet, passing 
at early morn the little town of that name. A strong 
breeze blew from the land, and, while filling our sails, 
raised no waves, so that we were scudding with sail 
and steam over a smooth sea. Then the engines were 
slowed and stopped, and the anchor went down off 

It is a Moorish town sloping up a moderate hill, 
white in the glittering rays of the morning sun, which 
it stands facing : of a compact trapezium form, fortified 
with a heavy wall, and surmounted by a castle. All its 
buildings are contained within the walls. Only scat- 
tered roofs and domes appear in the low wooded 

CHAP. xiii. SUSA. 139 

country to the left, which ends in a grove of palms. 
To the right the land is equally low, but more bare 
and stony, and it runs up due north-west to the pic- 
turesque range and peak of Zaghwan. One consider- 
able ship lay at anchor near a schooner, several white 
lateen sails skimmed about in the fresh breeze : this 
was the existing shipping of Susa. 

We went on shore, passing an Arab boat on its way 
to the steamer. Too small to contain half-a-dozen 
barrels of olive oil, the proprietor had attached them 
in a string to the boat's stern, with one empty barrel 
as a safeguard or float, and was towing them with much 
satisfaction. We believe we recollect olive oil with 
a strange taste to it. This Aral) will be trying his 
system one day with barrels of wine. 

A boatman took me to the vice-consulate. Mr. 
Dupuis, our vice-consul, whom it was unfair to disturb 
at seven in the morning, was most kind. He sent to 
the Castle to ascertain that the governor of Susa had 
received instructions from the prime minister about 
my escort to Kairwan, and promised to have the Is- 
pahis ready for me on my return from Sfax. Mrs. 
Dupuis also insisted very kindly that I should remain 
at the vice-consulate on my way to and from Kairwan. 

I went to the Kasbah — a high walled fort with 
dwellings within it, which can contain four thousand 
troops on an emergency. Then we went through the 


dirty unswept streets of the bazaars. What is that 
mosque called ? we said to an Arab, pointing to a square 
tiled minaret. It is called a mosque, he said with reserve. 
We said to another, Have the kindness to tell us the 
name of that mosque. It is called the mosque, he re- 
plied. But it has some name, we said with deference. 
How does its name concern you, who are Christians ? he 
said abruptly. 

Sir, we said with ceremony to a negro, whom we 
might have bought outright for fifty or sixty piastres : 
what is the name of this street ? It is Hammam el 
Bey — the street of the Bey's Bath, he answered civilly. 
That is because the mosque is in it, we said. No, he 
said, how can that be ? But it bears the name of the 
mosque, we explained. Not at all, the negro said : the 
mosque is called Natreddin. The people of Susa have 
a reputation for fanaticism : no doubt they have some 
of the prejudices of their neighbours of Kairwan. 
' We ascended by a series of dirty alleys again to the 
Kasbah, and went out to the grass market behind the 
town. Returning by the open quarter of the black- 
smiths and carpenters, we came to the bazaars proper — 
cool, dark, and vaulted, and very picturesque. The 
shopkeepers seemed goodnatured. The customary silk 
and woollen goods were for sale, with groceries and 
essences. Here and there were capitals and pedestals 
degraded to the purpose of stepping-stones. We left 


the covered bazaar, -which runs in a continuous line, 
with small side bazaars to right and left : passed a 
foudouk, a hammam with firewood heaped on the roof, 
and racks for drying the linen : noticed the cane 
baskets of the form of great coffee-pots, used in fishing 
here : then went out by the Water Gate and returned 
to the wooden landing-place. 

The mosque of Natreddin, or that of the Faithful, 
is one of the oldest, but not the largest, in Susa. The 
Djemma '1 Kebir, or Great Mosque, is down by the 
northern' Water Gate : it has a low minaret, not seen 
from the sea. Portions of the building are very old. 
Susa contains probably eight thousand inhabitants: 
of these many are Christians and Jews. Some of the 
foreign merchants are wealthy, and the trade is con- 

The principal exports of Susa are olive oil, esparto 
grass, wool, and soap made from olive oil. Pottery 
comes from Nabel or Nablus, and sometimes a small 
quantity of wax from Zaghwan. The esparto grass 
was first shipped from Susa to any extent by an English 
firm well known in all the Barbary states, Perry Bury 

The Sahel, or east coast province of the Regency, 
of which Susa is the chief port, is, from its position, of 
considerable commercial consequence. Its three dis- 
tricts are Susa, Monastir, and Mehdia. It measures 

142 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xiii. 

about ninety-five miles in length and twenty in 

Susa is on good grounds identified with the Ad- 
rumetum, which first, of these Eastern ports, offered 
Julius Caesar any serious resistance. That remarkable 
man landed here a small force of three thousand foot 
and a hundred and fifty horse, and riding himself round 
the walls, reconnoitred the city. After this he set to 
work to forage in the neighbourhood, and establish his 

After the establishment of the Aghlab dynasty in 
Barbary and the building of Kairwan, Susa was made 
its port, and from this insignificant little harbour set 
sail the armadas destined to conquer Sicily and Kome. 
When civil war took .place between the rivals for su- 
preme power, the Beys of Kairwan, supported by the 
Sahel towns and harbours, overcame the Deys of the 

It is said the Arabs of the Sahel can bring thirty- 
five thousand horsemen into the field, but I doubt it. 
The province has been heavily punished within the last 
ten years. After the abortive revolution. General 
Zarruk encamped under the walls of Susa, and imposed 
upon the Sahel towns 600,000^ indemnity. Wasted as 
the inhabitants and their m^ans had been in seven pre- 
vious years by famine, pestilence, and short crops, they 
were unable to pay : and had to raise money at usurious 


rates to meet the demands upon them. The gates of 
Susa are scrupulously closed soon after sunset, and have 
been so ever since Doria surprised the town in 1539. 

The harbour of Susa is the worst on the coast, ships 
being liable to be blown from their anchorage. Gusts 
of the Tramontana and north-east wind whirl a strong 
current round Cape Bon between Malta and the Bar- 
bary coast : and ships caught here must either go to 
sea, or run for the shallows of the Syrtis. There is no 
inn at Susa ; a Greek has a sort of restaurant and one 
or two available rooms : nor are there many attractions 
for travellers beyond boating, shooting, and riding. 
Eent and living are very high in Susa : the journey by 
land to Tunis occupies two days. 

Tunis, like all other countries of consideration, has 
had a revolution. It lasted for six months, and the 
authorities seemed for" a time paralysed. However, 
foreign ships of war appeared in the various ports, and 
frightened the inhabitants into submission. They were 
afterwards mulcted handsomely, Susa being called upon 
for its proportion of the 600,000Z. I have mentioned. 
The little town of Mehdia, for example, had to con- 
tribute 75,000^., to encourage the others. All arms, 
down to knives of a hand's length, were taken away, 
and the majesty of the government was reasserted. 

The exports and imports of Susa and the other sea- 
ports are collected by the Commission of Ceded Reve- 

144 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xiii. 

nues, established first in 1867 for the purpose of as- 
suring and simplifying the payment of interest upon 
the government loan. This Commission — chiefly com- 
posed of representatives of European states — hand over 
yearly to the government a fixed sum, for expenses of 
administration, army, marine, and other requirements : 
to be increased in case of urgent need, at the discretion 
of the Commission, by a similar amount. In addition 
to this income, the governors of districts levy from the 
population what they think fit, so the government does 
not do badly. Each male, fit to work, pays a yearly 
tax of forty-five piastres. 

The gunpowder monopoly is a strange one. The 
manufacture or sale of gunpowder by private individuals 
is forbidden, the government manufactures none itself, 
importation of it is forbidden, and yet it is to be 
bought in every quarter of Tunis, and guns are blazing 
away at quail and snipe in every marsh. This is one 
of those things that they mantige better in Tunis. 

We steamed out of the bay, and in an hour we 
were abreast of the picturesque walled town of Monastir, 
the Ruspina of Caesar. The Castle rises prettily from 
the walls, which are light in colour, and above them 
are just visible the white flat roofs, a few minarets, a 
few palms, and a large white dome. The town lies 
back from the white sandy beach : we have to pass 
outside of three small outlying islands. There are 


numerous square marabouts and tombs, on this side of 
the tovra. It is said the people of Mehdia used to 
send their dead by sea for biu'ial here. 

The harbour is bad, but perhaps the best on this 
coast. Only one vessel lay in the roads, and the little 
place or port whence the oil and produce of Monastir 
are shipped, lies at half an hour's distance from the 
town, and is defended by a fort. Beyond the town are 
gardens and olive woods stretching close down to the 
shore, and interspersed with palm trees and prickly 
pear. The Corsica lay one third of a mile from the 
beach, and her stay was too short to allow of going up 
to the town. We still see Zaghwan — the highest peak 
of Tunisia, four thousand and seventy-eight feet high 
— but faintly in the warm haze. 

The inhabitants, numbering probably eight thou- 
sand, are not noted for politeness, and there is a pro- 
verb on the coast here, Let him who has no dog, put a 
Monastiri before his door. The lion-voiced Monastiri, 
however, has not a heart of oak, for, give him a blow, 
and he immediately begins to pay you compliments. 
The Arabic here is said to be of a very indifferent kind. 

We see, in an hour after leaving JNIonastir, low 
islands known to navigators as the Conigliera Islands, 
because swarming with rabbits. The islands are low, 
sandy, and covered with brushwood : behind them lie 
the remains of Leptis Parva. The roads of 3Ionastir 


146 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xiii. 

afford no shelter from the N.E. or E. winds : but be- 
hind these islands, though the anchorage is not first- 
rate, vessels can lie in moderate security. All the way 
from Monastir to Leptis run olive woods. Leptis Parva 
was a considerable colony of the Phoenicians. The 
name Leptis means — so Barth says — port, but I know 
of no such word in Greek or Latin. The Arabic 
name of the village lying twenty minutes southwards, 
Lemta or Lemba, probably originated in the Phoenician 
name, and helps to identify the spot. The name of 
the Greater Leptis has been corrupted not very dif- 
ferently into Lebda. 

' The ancient town of Monastir,' says Leo, ' built by 
the Komans vpon the Mediterran Sea, is enuironed 
with most impregnable and stately walles, and containeth 
very faire buildings : but the inhabitants thereof are 
most miserable and beggerly people, and weare shooes 
made of sea-rushes. Most of them are either weauers 
or fishers. Their fare is barlie bread, and a kinde of 
foode mingled with oil. The territorie adiacent 
aboundeth with oranges, peares, figs, pomegranates, 
and oliues : sauing that it is continually wasted by the 
inuasion of the enemie.' 

As we approached the passage between the islands, 
the steamer's engines were slowed. Otto piedi ! 
shouted the leadsman. Adagio I shouted the captain. 
Sette piedi ! Stop ! roared the skipper, and we glided 

CHAP. xin. THAPSUS. 147 

over the white sand shining through the green water. 
Nove piedi ! and we went on at full speed. The breeze 
fell, and cinders from the funnel came floating down on 
us, so we had the awning put up. 

A Moorish gentleman of Sfax came aft every now and - 
then to chat with us. A stout, goodnatured old boy, 
who looked as if we were welcome, for all he cared, to 
enter all the mosques of Barbary. We were soon 
abreast of Kas di Mas, the Thapsus of Julius Caesar, a 
point whence the coast runs directly south. Caesar 
himself did not penetrate farther south than this ; he 
contented himself with defeating Juba I. here. I have 
a silver coin of Juba. He wears a head-dress like that 
of a Laplander, and looks as if he would be easily de- 
feated. There are here remains of a great mole, an 
amphitheatre, a fine reservoir of Roman work, built in 
stone and cement, and numerous cisterns, which the 
water fills one after the other, after the principle of 
Solomon's Pools. Monsieur Daun, a French civil engi- 
neer, sent to explore by poor Napoleon III., found many 
antiques here : marbles, lamps, coins of J. Caesar, stone 
balls for catapults, urns containing ashes, water vessels, 
statues, et cetera. 

An hour's steaming brought us off the narrow pro- 
montory beyond which stands El Medea — Mehdia — all 
that remains of the Roman town of Afrikia or Africa. 
We rounded the point, and anchored on the south side 

1. 2 

148 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xm. 

of the town. The walls of Mehdia, originally of Eoman 
construction, faced with stone and of rubble within, are 
very ruinous. The promontory is bare of all but a 
castle and marabout : the town lies inland within it, 
and stretches across its neck from shore to shore. 

There are six thousand inhabitants, of whom maybe 
three hundred and fifty are Christians. Five vessels 
lay in the roads, which are exposed to the south and 
easterly winds : and the Corsica had anchored at a 
quarter of a mile from the beach. Her stay was very 
short. "We had time to distinguish the great mosque 
— once a barrack for Eoman legionaries — of which the 
square minaret rises . within the town, and the blank 
white wall extends down to the water's edge. In the 
interior of the mosque, I was told, were numerous in- 
scriptions, Arabic and Eoman. The natives, not know- 
ing what spell or evil import these latter might possess, 
have effaced all within reach. Christians as usual are 
not admitted. 

Leo says : * El Mehdia, founded by Mahdi, the first 
patriacke of Cairoan vpon the Mediterran Sea, and for- 
tified with strong wals towers and gates, hath a most 
noble haven belonging thereto. Mahdi, when he first 
came vnto this region, fained himself in an unknowne 
habite to be descended of the linage of Mahumet, 
wh^eby growing into great fauor of the people, he 
was by their assistance made prince of Cairoan, and 


was called El Mahdi Califa. Afterwards tyrannising 
over the people, and perceiuing some to conspire against 
him, he erected this toune of Mahdia, to the ende that 
he might there finde safe refuge when neede required. 

' At length one Beiezida, a Mahumetan prelate, came 
vnto Cairoan : but Mahdi fledde vnto his newe toune, 
where with thirtie saile of ships sent him by a Ma- 
humetan prince of Cordoua, he so valiantly encountered 
the enemie that Beiezid and his sonne were both slaine. 
Afterwards returning to Cairoan, he grew in league and 
amitie with the citizens, and so the government re- 
mained vnto his posteritie for many yeeres.' 

Shaw does not believe Leo's account. He rightly 
thinks Mehdi only rebuilt the town : certain details of 
architecture in it being too polite and regular for 
Arabic origin. 

Half a day's journey distant from Mehdia — twenty- 
seven miles — stands the beautiful amphitheatre of 
Tysdrus, now known as El Djem. It is still very per- 
fect. A short way south of Mehdia are the remains of 
Salectum : it is disputed whether Hannibal embarked 
from Mehdia — Turris Hannibalis — or from Salectum. 
At Kasr Alal, towards Monastir, are numerous families 
of silk weavers. 



The Barbary Coast — The Khassir — Kerkeneh — The Flying Camp — 
Djerba — The Lotos Eaters — Skull Pyramid — Gulf of Kabes — Palus 

We ramble out again over the blue water, having 
merely awaited a couple of boats which took off some 
boxes and two passengers. The wind is still fresh, and 
delightfully in our favour, satisfying even the steward, 
a big dark Italian, who sings sonorously in fair weather, 
and curses in rough, till our flesh creeps. 

We get all our canvas up, and steam away at the 
rate of nine knots down this pleasant coast of Barbary. 
There is a telegraphic line running from Tunis through 
Birloubuita, Susa, Monastir, and Mehdia, to Sfax. A 
French company, under the auspices of the Tunis 
government, are the entrepreneurs. They received the 
concession of the land and houses necessary for their 
purpose from the government, who in return have free 
use of the wires. There are, in all, four hundred 
miles of telegraph lines in the Eegency. In two hours 
we came in sight of the village El Khadijah and Burdj 
el Shebba, a tall tower of lighthouse form — and easily 


convertible into one — raised in honour of a holy woman 
who was buried here. They stand on the promontory 
of Eas Kapoudiah. Shaw says : Capoudia is the Caput 
Vada of antiquity. It is a low narrow Strip of land, 
which stretcheth Itself a great Way into the Sea, and 
upon the Point of It there is a highe Watch Tower, with 
traces of severall Ruins that might formerly belong to 
the City built here by Justinian. 

After dinner we had lost the low coast : nothing was 
in sight but the sea and the setting sun. Sitting chat- 
ting on deck with three Moors, I received from a native 
of Djerba, the Island of the Lotos Eaters, by name 
Sidi Suleiman Ibn Zukkri, an invitation to stay with 
him in Djerba, where he promised to entertain me with 
kouskousou, assida, eggs, coffee, and mutton. This 
Lotos Eater was much pleased when I guessed his age 
to be thirty-three years and a quarter. He had no exact 
idea himself, indeed the Moors here can give no idea in 
years of their age : they have to refer to some circum- 
stance or other. For instance, one will say, I was born 
in the year when the first steamer came to Sfax : 
another, I was bom in the year of the cholera, or of 
the revolution. My friend of Djerba, Solomon son of 
Zachariah, was so satisfied at having an estimate of his 
exact age, that he will go about quoting it hereafter, and 
anyone who asks him in the next five years his age, will 
learn that he is just thirty- three years and a quarter. 

152 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xiy. 

Another Lotos Eater, a friend of Sidi Suleiman, 
gave me a cordial welcome to his house in the hills : 
he would take me to see ruins, enrich me with ancient 
copper coinage, his house should be my house, and his 
servants my servants. Wallah ! 

It grew dark : the young moon, the evening star, 
Arcturus, and the noble Sirius shone in the dark blue 
heavens, and there was a solitary falling star. Then 
we went at half-speed. Two fathoms ! One and a 
half ! then we touched ground. The screw was reversed, 
and we backed off. Very soon we cast anchor in the 
shallow sea. 

We were off the vast banks of the Kerkeneh, the 
Khassir, or Shallows — the calm sea of the dreamy Lotos 
Eaters. This was a very snug corner of the world for 
them to find. Within a radius of forty miles round 
the Islands of Kerkeneh to the north and the Isle of 
Djerba to the south, lies the Khassir — the smaller Gulf 
of Sidra or Lesser Syrtis (SupTty, a shoal), otherwise 
known as the Gulf of Kabes. The Lesser Syrtis may be 
said to extend all the way to Kapoudiah, since from this 
point to Djerba there is a succession of little flat 
islands, banks of sand, and small depths of water. 
Sheltered northward by the banks of Kerkeneh, west- 
ward by the mainland, southward by Djerba, and 
seaward by their own shallowness, these tranquil 
waters are convulsed by no storms. On them the 


North wind has but little effect, it cannot beat them up 
into great waves : and here the sandals, louds, karabs, 
and shabecques come to shelter in the winter months, 
flocking like swallows from the stormy coast of Tripoli. 
Here is a region for yachting, a refuge for victims to 
hydrophobia, for those who dread the bitter sea. 

It is strange to be lying at anchor in the open sea. 
We are not many hours from Sfax, but the channel be- 
tween Kerkeneh and the mainland is very narrow, and 
at night navigation is impossible, except for small 
vessels, so we must wait for daylight. Virgil wrote of 
Tunis harbour as follows, but he might have sung of 
Sfax instead : 

Within a long recess there lies a hay : 
An island shades it from the 7'olling sea, 
And forms a port secure for ships to ride, 
Broke by the jutting land on either side. 
No haulsei'S need to bind the vessels here. 
Nor bearded anchors, for no storms they fear. 

The Kerkeneh Islands are the Cercina and Cerci- 
nitis of the Romans, whither Caesar sent Crispus with 
vessels to get grain for the troops. The Tunisian 
government has for ages employed a body of troops to 
bring grist to the mill, in the shape of taxes from the 
outlying provinces. This flying camp has always been 
commanded by the heir to the throne, who is conse- 
quently known as the Bey of the Camp. As much as a 

154 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xiv. 

hundred thousand pounds used to be netted by this 
expedition, in cattle, money, and valuables : but since 
the establishment of better local government, the expe- 
dition does not travel yearly : the governor of Kairwan 
only proceeds to some of the chief towns of the Djerid. 
I met an aide-de-camp of Ali Bey, who commanded the 
last important expedition some years ago. Two thou- 
sand troops and a number of Arab horsemen formed the 
expedition. It would push on from spot to spot, merely 
spending time enough for the Bey to administer justice 
or apportion and collect the taxes. The journey 
through the Djerid occupied two or three months, 
some trouble and delay arising from the decamping of 
many of the Arab tribes at the Bey's approach. 

On this occasion several foreigners accompanied 
Ali Bey, taking the opportunity of botanising, search- 
ing for ruins, antiques, coins, game, &c. Arrived at 
Kairwan on its journey south, the army encamped for 
three days on the plain : the Bey entered the city to 
pray at the Great Mosque, and then the troops marched 
through, entering by the Tunis Grate, and leaving by 
the Gate of Skins. Assessors accompanied the Bey, to 
determine the value of tribute offered in the shape of 
oxen, camels, sheep, corn, olives, or dates. Fowls, or 
gazelles, which abound in the Djerid, were not regarded 
as acceptable. Lions would roar round the camp at 


night — exasperated, the noble beasts, by the smell of 
good cooking : for the cuisine of an Eastern prince and 
his household is a lavish one. Ostriches were often 
seen, but not often taken. 

On her previous voyage the Corsica had sailed to 
Djerba, and it was a disappointment to be unable to go 
on thither. To be so near to the Insula Lotophagorum 
and to turn back, seemed a misfortune. This interest- 
ing island, once known as Meninx, Lotophagitis, or 
Insula Lotophagorum, fifty miles or five hours distant 
from Sfax by steamer, forms the southern extremity of 
this gulf. It is separated from the mainland by a mile 
or two of shallow sands, almost traversable on foot. 
The coast round the island is so shallow that the Corsica, 
drawing not more than eight feet of water, has to lie 
out in the open roads three miles from the shore. The 
wind is often high, but the sea never, and the anchorage 
is safe and good enough. Djerba has no ports, towns, 
or even considerable villages, so widely are its habita- 
tions dispersed. _- 

The Lotos Eaters number probably about twenty 
thousand. The island has the aspect of a beautiful 
garden, the fig trees are as large as walnut trees, the 
pomegranate shrubs attain the size of ordinary trees, 
apricots abound : the olive grows in extraordinary 
luxuriance, and seventeen date trees are sometimes 
known to spring from one root. This is something 

156 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xiv. 

like an island, and was an earthly paradise for the lazy 
Lotos Eaters. 

A land where all things alivays seemed the same, 
And round about the keel with faces pale — 
Dark faces pale against that rosyfiame — 
The mild-eyed, melancholy Lotos Eaters came. 
TJiey sat them down upon the yellow sand, 
Between the sun and moon upon the shore ; 
And stoeet it was to dream of Fatherland, 
Of lofe and child, and slave — but evermore 
Most weary seemed the sea, tvea7'y the onr, 
Weary the imndenng fields of barren foam. 
Then some one said — We loill return no more. 
And all at once they sang — Our island home 
Is far beyond the wave, we will no longer roam. 

The modern Lotos Eaters — when I say modern, I 
don't want to ofifend the Djerbans, who are only in the 
year 1292 of the Hejreh, and nearly six centuries 
behind us — have shaken off such traditions and are an 
industrious, thriving people. They manufacture pottery, 
soap, stuffs in great quantities : they have extensive 
fisheries and sponge fisheries, and they turn the richness 
of the island to the best advantage. The stuffs of silk 
and wool can be bought very cheaply : the wool is pecu- 
liarly fine and suitable for shawls, which are beautifully 
wrought. For twenty-five piastres or twelve shillings, 
a very beautiful coverlet or a burnous can be bought. 
The mules of Djerba, which I have already said are 
excellent, are much used in carriages of native Tunisian 
gentry. They endure, both heat and cold, and have in 

CHAP. xrv. DJERBA. 157 

a great measure superseded the famous Barb horse. The 
wants of the French army contribute to drain Tunis 
of horses. Great quantities of Djerban stuffs, of wool and 
silk, are sent to the East. The islanders are good- 
natured and hospitable, like the Arabs of the Djerid. 
Towards the Tripoli frontier, however, on the mainland 
behind Djerba, they are of a different character, untrust- 
worthy and treacherous. The Djerbans are enterprising, 
being established as merchants in Tripoli, Alexandria, 
Constantinople, and throughout the East. 

While Ferdinand the Catholic was besieging Malaga, 
there appeared a wild fanatic or dervish, Abraham of 
Djerba, who, after a desperate and partly successful 
effort to relieve the city, was taken prisoner. Attempt- 
ing to assassinate the King and Queen, he was put to 
death, and his body flung from a catapult into the city, 
where he was interred and honoured as a patriot and a 

It is barely twenty-eight years since there stood 
upon the northern shore of Djerba, on the western 
side of the Castle of Es Soukh and marked upon the 
charts, a whitewashed tower, twenty feet in height, 
originally a pyramid, and composed of skulls. Skulls of 
the Spanish soldiers of Alvar de Sande,who were surprised 
and massacred here by the Tm-kish fleet. But few 
escaped in ships to Sicily. There were bones of men 
and buttons of soldiers' dresses to be found near, and 

158 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xiv. 

birds had built their nests in the hollows of the 

It would be ungracious to turn our backs upon the 
Grulf of Kabes without a word as to the spot whence it 
takes one of its names. It was known as Epicus, but 
Tacape was its chief name, a great emporium of Eoman 
times. It now consists of two villages, the natives of 
which cultivate date trees and the famous henna plant, 
whose leaves are dried and powdered for export to the 
Levant. This is the region of the Troglodytes, famous 
from the time of Homer downwards. The modern vil- 
lage of Ghabs lies half a mile from the ruins of the old 
city, and Ionic capitals and fragments of columns are 
still found here. Tacape may one day recover some of 
its maritime importance. 

Seventy miles inland lies the Sebkha el Laoudiah, 
meaning the Marsh of Landmarks, from the number of 
trunks of palms once placed at proper distances to direct 
caravans in their marches over it. According to one 
tradition, these trees sprang from date stones left by an 
army of the Egyptians in one of their invasions of Bar- 
bary. In the same way some future Egyptian army 
may be guided by my line of march, over the desert 
from Lebda to Tripoli. Only in certain seasons and in 
places does this lake contain water : it is ordinarily a 
vast plain of salt. It is the Palus Tritonis or Triton 
swamp, which it is believed lies below the level of the 


Mediterranean and may again be placed in communica- 
tion with it. Should this be possible, a shallow inland 
sea, seventy miles in length by twenty in width, might 
be formed in the heart of the fertile Djerid : making its 
chief town, Toozer, Tisurus, a seaport on a small scale : 
and the laborious transport by camel might give way to 
traflBc by sandals, or smaller boats. The river Akrout, 
entering the Mediterranean thirty miles north of Ghabs, 
tradition says, once connected the Palus with the sea, 
and, unless there have been geological changes, might be 
made to do so again. 

It may be found that an entrance from the river of 
Ghabs, rising twelve or fourteen miles from the coast, 
would offer better prospects of success, though the dis- 
tance for channelling would be greater by one-half, and 
certain high land intervenes. The environs of Ghabs 
are rich and beautiful : we are told of vines twining 
round lordly palms, of rich cornfields among almond 
trees and lotos. 

Temple found here great abundance of the lotos, 
which he calls Rhamuus Lotus, growing in the neigh- 
bourhood of Ghabs and the surrounding villages. Lane 
calls the lotos sidr, and it has been supposed that this 
name acquired for the Gulf its title of Sidra. Far more 
likely Sidra is a Moorish corruption of Syrtis. The 
modern Arabs use the leaves of the aidr dried and pul- 
verised, as soap. The bush resembles a blackthorn : the 

i6o THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xiv. 

berry was so highly esteemed by the ancients that it was 
said to be worth forsaking one's country for. I have on 
various occasions forsaken my country, but generally 
more with a view to green figs and bananas. The legen- 
dary lotos of Egyptian sculpture was a water lily, but 
it seems to have vanished with the papyrus from the 
Lower Nile. 



Arrival at Sfax — Gale— A Mistake — A Deaf Mute — The Quarters of 
Sfax — Mosques — A Caravan of Dates — The Bazaars — Gracefulness 
of Sfaxins — Environs — The City of Twelve Thousand Gardens — 
Slave Caravans — Street Auction —Costumes — The Great Mosque — 
A Tragedy — The Silversmiths — Bakkoush at Home — An Eccentric 
Dervish — A Modest Marabout — Kuins of Lebda. 

We slipped away from our anchorage just before dawn. 
The wind had risen, and blew a heavy northerly gale. 
We dared not try the inner passage, but made our way 
outside the Sponge Islands, and dropped anchor in the 
roads of Sfax, three miles out from the shore. The 
anchorage is good but shallow, and in such weather the 
captain thought well to keep out. Sfax, El Sfakkus, 
Asfax, or Asfachus, is said to owe its name to the quan- 
tities of water melons, Fakkus, abounding in its neigh- 
bourhood. It is of origin subsequent to Koman times. 
Squalls came at times, with drifting rain : two 
hours passed, and, though it was still early morning, 
the prospect of landing seemed remote. Sulking in 
the cabin, or pacing about on deck in the moist 
whistling wind, did not kill the time very fast. The 
insidious Perruquier was sent to the captain to intimate 


i62 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xv. 

that if a few men could be spared with one of the 
boats, they should be rewarded with gold. The captain 
told Perruquier that the sea was heavy enough to swamp 
a small boat, and that he could not let us have one. 
"We asked some of the Moors what they would do if the 
steamer sailed for Tunis without landing them. Maktoub, 
they said, good-naturedly. It is written. When Ali 
Bey landed in this neighbourhood, his boat was swamped, 
while the ship rode quietly at anchor. 

At length we saw a boat with a small white sail, 
beating out, and our spirits went up 10°. But when it 
came alongside, with difficulty, in the fierce wind — 
pitching as if the four drenched natives would be flung 
into the sea : when we saw it was half full of water, 
ballasted with a heavy stone, kept afloat only by con- 
stant baling, the rudder attached by a piece of string 
only — our spirits fell 15°. It was a miserable boat, 
worth about three mahboobi and a half, and it did not 
seem very sensible to venture on three miles of sea 
in it, with the same necessity of getting back: but 
Perruquier and I slipped down a loose rope, three or four 
Moors followed us, and we shoved oflf, very nearly 
capsizing in doing so. 

The stone and our weight made the boat so heavy 
that the waves washed over her sides. We had gone a 
mile or two, the water came in too fast to bale and rose 
steadily, gusts came faster than ever ; when gradually 


a sense of satisfaction stole into our spirits. If the 
boat should capsize or sink, Perruquier and I should 
get out and walk. We remembered the long shelving 
shore, and guessed that there would be little more 
than five or six feet of water, a mile and a half out from 
the town. 

To right and left of the city and its cream-coloured 
walls — which lie on flat ground close by the water — 
stretch miles of gardens, with little houses scattered 
among them. The signal tower of Sfax and the red 
dome of the Catholic church are the only conspicuous 
objects standing above the white houses. 

A number of people came together to see us land — 
strangers not being plentiful in Sfax. I had asked a 
pleasant Italian in the boat if he knew Mr. Cardona of 
Sfax. Mr. Carton, you mean, he said : he is the English 
vice-consul: and we went together to the vice- 
consulate. A tall white-haired man rose as I went in. 
I have a letter for you, I said, from the captain of the 
Circe steamer. Circe, he said, Circe — I don't know 
the Circe. An English steamer, I explained, which 
came here just a year ago. I was absent, sir, he said, 
at that time. I was disappointed to see him throw his 
acquaintances over so readily, and said I understood 
he was Mr. Cardona. He laughed. No, I am Mr. 
Edward Carleton, and very much at your service. Mr. 
Cardona was a neighbour of his. 


i64 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xv. 

We had a long chat over a cup of coffee. I beg 
your pardon, he said, interrupting himself: here is a 
poor dumb man I want to speak to. Somebody had 
come behind my chair. I looked round and rose 
slowly : the mute started back, then seized my hands 
and gibbered at me inarticulately. It was our old 
friend Bakkoush, the Bey's buffoon. The vice-consul 
was much surprised, and Bakkoush made signs to him 
that we were old friends. It was four years since we 
had met : tbe storms of life had impaired his raiment, 
and poor Bakkoush was both thinner and seedier. I 
told him that he was thinner, and he explained that he 
had been ill. We set out to see the city. Mr. Carleton 
sent his dragoman, Perruquier came, and Bakkoush 
would not leave my side. 

There are two quarters in Sfax — one within the old 
walls, for the Mohammedans, and the other without, 
down by the harbour, for the Christians. The gates of the 
Moorish city are closed after sunset to Christians. We 
entered the Arab quarter by an old gate with horseshoe 
arch, and close by it found the mosque of Sidi Ali Aziz. 
Within a few yards of it stands that of Sidi el Bahhri — 
Sidi the Sailor. Can it be the last resting-place of our 
old friend Sindbad the Sailor ? It had marble work 
delicately carved and arabesqued in text, and a curious 
brick minaret. 

At many angles of the streets and gateways were 


columns and capitals of marble brought from Roman 
ruins. Many doorways were carved in a beautiful pink 
or salmon-coloured stone of Ghabs, closely resembling 
marble : in fact a kind of marble. Across the streets 
at many points were flying arches of horseshoe form. 
The mosque has a new gateway with minute arabesques 
in stone and alternate bands of tiles. Almost every 
doorway had carved jambs and lintels. 

We met a caravan just arrived from the Djerid — 
the camels laden with dates packed in skins, the Arabs 
tired and dusty — and arriving, poor fellows, to find the 
dates they had brought from so far almost unsaleable. 
Such is the plenty of dates this year that they are 
barely worth the trouble of picking, or of transporting 
from the interior. The finest dates of Tunisia, or 
indeed of Africa — the deghla — can be bought in Tunis 
for thirty five shillings the hundredweight : in the 
Djerid for perhaps ten shillings. There are dates in 
Djerba, known as bilahh and as b^sir, but they are far 
behind the deghla. In Morocco is a date also known 
as bilahh. On the flat islands of Kerkeneh there grows 
a soft dark date, called ertoub, cheap, and not very 

The Tunisian pound, the ratal attari, is just equiva- 
lent to our lb. avoirdupois: the oke contains two ratals, 
and the kantar fifty oJces. The Tunisian measures for 
corn, flour, &c. are the sah, equal to four and a half 

i66 THE COUNTRV OF THE MOORS. chap. xv. 

imperial pints : the ouiba, containing twelve sah, and 
the kafiss sixteen ouibas. There is a second scale of 
weights for precious metals. The coinage begins with 
the karoub or farthing, which is nominally equivalent 
to six and a half bourbe. The silver piastre is worth 
sixpence : the bouhamsa or mahboob, half-a-crown. 
There are ten, twenty-five, fifty, and hundred piastre 
pieces in gold : of which the most common are the 
twenty-five piastre pieces, representing just fifteen 
francs. We can now start fairly, and the reader can 
accompany Bakkoush and the rest of us into the bazaars 
without fear of being taken in. 

Camels carrying water for sale move about the 
bazaars of Sfax. The green turbans of the scherifs 
simply swarm : the Friday's market place, or Soukh el 
Djemma, was alive with them. The Prophet's family 
is indeed handsomely represented : more are to be seen 
here in half an hour than in Cairo or Damascus in a 
day. They were very inquisitive, the Sfaxins, and 
Bakkoush was steadily employed in thrusting them 
aside as they stood gaping at us. Some he pushed 
with furious gestures, but none seemed to take oflFence : 
they all knew the privileged buffoon of the Bey. 

In the Turkish bazaar were groceries of all kinds : 
in the corn market were great esparto baskets full of 
grain. We came to the Djemma '1 Hammam, or Mosque 
of the Baths, and saw the piles of pearwood for burning in 


the baths : came to the shoe bazaar, where the canary- 
coloured leather is made into picturesque shoes, passed 
the harness makers who embroider the red leather : 
and everywhere a crowd of a dozen or twenty Moors 
hung on our heels to see what we were about, only 
dispersing momentarily when Bakkoush turned upon 

It is a very general and pretty custom among the 
Sfaxins and many of the Tunisian Moors to carry, 
under the turban and above the ear, a small bouquet — 
sometimes a couple of lovely rosebuds, or a rosebud in 
a ring of orange blossoms. The contrast with the 
snowy white, straw-coloured silk, or green cotton 
turban is very telling. There is among the Moors of 
Tunisia grace both of dress and manner which does not 
characterise the Egyptians or Syrians, and which recalls 
their ancestors, the refined Moors of Granada and 
Cordova. There are no bazaars where such delicacy of 
taste in dress and colour are to be seen as in Timis. 
The people seem tasteful by instinct, and it is a positive 
treat to sit and watch them. They reflect the polish 
and good breeding of the Spanish Moors, and are noted 
for their intelligence. Reading, writing, and the 
Scriptures are ordinary acquirements among them. 
The turbans of Sfax are larger than those of the chief 
Eastern cities, and approach those of the extinct Janis- 
saries of Constantinople. 

i68 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xv. 

We saw beautiful mules — thoje of Sfax and Djerba 
are considered the best in the Eegency. The grey- 
hounds of Sfax are noted. A gentleman here has one, 
for which the Arabs have offered him forty sheep in 

We watched them make the curious rude pack 
saddles for camels — generally from wood which had a 
natural fork. We came to the outer city through an 
old arched gate, and entered a foudouk where dyers 
had established themselves. Here deep crimson and 
blue stuffs were hanging up to dry: while camels 
were waiting to transport them to the Djerid, and 
devouring grass to pass the time. Bakkoush's raids 
upon the crowd were capital : mumbling and gesticu- 
lating, he fell upon them as if to devour them alive. 

We passed the mosque of Djemma '1 Bou Shouisha, 
— an aged building, where the whitewash of centuries 
had so encrusted and accumulated, that it looked as if 
thickly sugared, or covered with pure white snow. 
Stalactites of whitewash hung from each brick mould- 
ing and projection. Near this were blacksmiths and 
sickle makers, beating those thin crescent-shaped blades 
out of glowing iron. The high old city walls have 
machicolated battlements and square turrets at intervals. 
Above the forts floated the blood-red flag which is 
hoisted on the Mohammedan Sabbath. 

Near the walls is a village of blacks, similar to that 


described near Tripoli, and very African looking. 
Prowling dogs hang about the traveller's ankles, and 
he is fortunate who has Bakkoush for an escort. This 
extraordinary man explained with incredible facility 
the features of the surrounding country. He drew my 
attention to the numerous marabouts' tombs — to the 
great plain extending ever so far to the south — to the 
Sahara, in fact. He described to me the figs, almonds, 
peaches, olives, and pistachio nuts with wliich the 
environs of Sfax richly abound. How the country for 
half-a-day's journey round is full of gardens and fruits, 
till you reach the pasture lands of the Bedouins. This 
was all in dumb show, but there was no misunderstanding 
it. Wine is made here from excellent grapes : cucum- 
bers are plentiful, and so are bananas. As to olives, 
which are taxed by the tree — every third tree being 
exempt — the district has paid to the Bey's government 
at the rate of a hundred and sixty thousand piastres 
a year. 

The extent of the gardens of Sfax is immense : 
there are no less than twelve thousand of them about 
the city. There is not a really poor man in Sfax : each 
one has his ' garden ' outside the walls, if only con- 
taining a fig tree and half-a-dozen olive trees. The 
man who comes to beg for bread has his country seat, 
though it may be only a dozen yards square. 

Bakkoush told me he had lately returned from 

170 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xv. 

Ghabs or Tacape. T^kahh, curiously enough, was about 
the only sound he could utter. Here he had found, 
in digging among the ruins, old engraved stones and 
a beautiful statue of a woman. Bakkoush and I formed 
plans for an expedition to T'kabh. The Arabs of the 
country are unspoiled and uncorrupted, being honest, 
peacefid, and hospitable — coming rarely into contact 
with the Europeans and coast races. 

It is not twenty-seven years since caravans used to 
arrive in June regularly at Tunis from Tomboukto, 
Ghadames, Wadai, and the interior, via Sfax and Susa, 
bringing slaves, ivory, gold dust, and ostrich feathers. 
The English Envoy, however, using his influence with 
Ahmed Bey, who was himself a humane man, obtained 
the emancipation of all slaves within reach : and slave- 
holders were compelled to issue them teskeras, or let- 
ters of discharge. Mr. Carleton received at one time in 
his house sixty poor creatures thus released, but left with- 
out means of support. Only a few months ago a black 
slave was brought to Sfax, but he was set free by the 
governor at the instance of our vice-consul. 

As we passed through one of the city gates, we had 
to make room for a caravan of camels coming from 
the interior. Every few weeks caravans depart for the 
towns of Toozr in the Djerid, Nafta, and Tebessa in 
Algeria, carrying English manufactures, and returning 
with dates, blankets, burnouses, wool, wax, &c. From 


Ghadames they come no longer. Some attribute the 
change to the impolicy of the Beys, others to the sup- 
pression of the slave trade. Within the inner gateway, 
among the shops of the wool carders, was a lively scene 
— a street auction. Men were striding to and fro, and 
crying : Fine shawl for sale ! who will buy ? Excellent 
silk, and going for an old song ! Boots ! Is no one 
prudent enough to buy of me these admirable boots ? 
A ring ! In the name of the Prophet ! Of the very 
purest silver, and beautified with a costly carnelian 
stone ! Offered for six piastres ! I seized the merchant 
by the arm and took the ring, which was old silver of 
Mecca work. How much ? I asked. Six piastres. I 
told Perruquier to stay and buy it for five piastres. 
Monsieur can't do that, he said : the auction price is 
six piastres, and a slight augmentation has to be made. 
So Perruquier and I bought the ring for six piastres and 
one karoub; and it now adorns the scarf of a popular 
and estimable member of society, who imagines that it 
is worth at least a golden twenty-five-piastre piece. 

We watched them spin the silk and wool for haiks 
and for the djubba — a garment of singular picturesque- 
ness, common to the Barbary towns, but I believe 
originating in Sfax. It is a plain, square-cut loose 
robe, like the abbah of Egypt, but open only at the 
breast, and there ornamented, as well as round the 
neck, with silk embroidery. 

172 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xv. 

The material — often in alternate bands of silk and 
delicate wool— is generally of an indigo blue, faced 
with amber-coloured embroidery, or of a deep chocolate 
red faced with green. 

The bazaars proper are cool, and vaulted with round 
arches, while the little shops are recessed in the white- 
washed walls. 

We came to the Djemma '1 Kebir — one of the finest 
mosques in Barbary. It has a great court paved with 
marble : but, standing in a poor and crowded quarter, 
it makes no appearance externally. Horseshoe arches 
of pure white marble contain doors beautifully carved. 
Its floors are covered with straw-coloured matting. It 
was the Mohammedan Sabbath. In the huge vaulted 
prayer chamber — of which the great doors were open 
on to the street — knelt hundreds of Moors, with white 
and green turbans, in ranks as even as soldiers. As the 
Imaum's voice resounded. Oh ye who believe, bless and 
greet our Lord Mohammed ! they fell upon their faces, 
chanting after him the praise of Allah and their 
Prophet. Their prostrations were as even as their 
ranks. The sight was interesting and impressive, but 
the Moors about us showed some impatience and dis- 
pleasure, so we sauntered on. 

Why has the Englishman come to Sfakkus ? Perru- 
quier was asked constantly in the bazaars, and what is 
he writing in the book ? Oh, true believers, PeiTuquier 


would say, do not marvel if there arise from his visit 
a baboor in the midst of your city — a swift fire carriage 
which shall be as the Prophet's carpet to you, and shall 
transport you to Tunis in a twinkling. 

When Perruquier confessed to this story, which went 
all through the bazaars, I asked him to subdue his 
natural aptitude for untruth, as I had no wish to come 
to the country of the Moors as an impostor. 

In the vegetable market we saw baskets full of date 
seed on white stalks, exposed for sale. Beyond this 
quarter is the fish market, near which stands the prison. 
There is a small mosque adjoining the prison, so we 
could not enter. There are but few prisoners now : one 
is there under singular circumstances. A rich Moor 
owed a Christian of Sfax three thousand piastres. A 
poor Jew, clerk to the Christian, went two days ago 
with a receipt to the Moor's house to ask payment. 
Come into the house, and I will pay thee, said the 
Moor : and taking him into the room, he fell upon him 
with a knife, and stabbed him repeatedly. 

On the day of my arrival at Homs, a shocking 
murder took place : on the day of my return to Tripoli 
a second : immediately before I reached Tunis another : 
and on the eve of our arrival at Sfax, a fourth. I hope 
that nothing unfair will be inferred from these circum- 

Outside of the bazaars, which are decent enough. 

174 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xv. 

are squalid open streets, below the average in cleanliness 
of ordinary Moorish towns. We could not move without 
considerable crowd. Indeed, the Sfaxins are the most 
appreciative people I have met in Barbary. 

We went to the silversmiths' quarter, and sat among 
them for two hours, securing old enamelled beads, pure 
silver earrings in beautiful simple work, small silver 
gilt beads like peas, and great cubic beads like huge 
dice, gilded and enamelled. The Sfaxins rejoice very 
much in enamelled ornaments, and we found numerous 
examples of their work. Bakkoush was a sincere en- 
joyment : the unfailing clearness of his gestures or 
glances and the rapidity of his intelligence were a 
study. A glance at me and a tap upon his pocket 
meant. There are nimble fingers about, gentle tra- 
veller. The silversmiths would offer me rings, bracelets, 
or engraved stones, and Bakkoush — who has a perfect 
genius for antique stones — by a momentary change of 
expression would approve or condemn them. The vice- 
consul's dragoman, who was willing and useful in the 
bargaining, was an imbecile compared with Bakkoush. 

Balikoush had made of old stones a study and a 
trade, and he was distracted when he told me of the 
pocketful he had brought from T'kabh : and sold only 
a week before. Next year we would go together to 
Djerba and Ghabs, the islands of Serkenis, and the great 
plain inland, and come back with asses' loads of them. 


Any Moor who might be disposed to haggle or waste 
time was quickly disposed of. Bakkoush, after having 
it valued by the Amin of the bazaar, would seize the 
silver object, thrust my money into the Moor's hand, 
and push him out of the bazaar — threatening him with 
loud inarticulate mutterings. 

The dragoman had a cast in his eye, and, as we sat 
bargaining at the entrance of a dark little shop, Bak- 
koush sat beside him. The dragoman turning his 
head for an instant, Bakkoush shot a momentary glance 
at me with a terrific squint. In the same second the 
expression had vanished, and as the dragoman turned, 
Bakkoush was rolling up a cigarette wit h a solemn and 
impassive face. These flashes of humour and intelli- 
gence were irresistibly funny. In one moment Perru- 
quier and his self-sufficiency shone out from the mute's 
face, in the next came a passing caricature of the silver- 
smith talking to us. At times Bakkoush would take 
my hand and place it on his heart as a mark of friend- 

By many people in Tunisia this remarkable man is 
regarded as a clever impostor, as less of a buffoon than 
a spy, who pretends this infirmity in order to gain access 
and information in the Bey's interests. That he carries 
information about, it may be, but nothing could be 
more unfair than to suspect his muteness to be assumed. 
Mr. Carleton has known him deaf and dumb for thirty 

176 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xy. 

years, and if any fair reader will endeavour to feign 
dumbness for thirty hours, she will support me in 
stating that to carry on the imposition for thirty years 
is beyond the capabilities of our poor weak nature. 

I was introduced at Sfax to an elderly dervish of 
ragged and hairy appearance, who takes an imbecile 
delight in the English Union Jack. When Mr. Wood 
came to Sfax many years ago in an English ship of war, 
the elderly dervish danced wildly about. Has the flag 
come ? Has the flag come ? he cried. What flag ? 
said the consul-general. Why, the English flag! cried 
the elderly dervish, shedding tears of delight : I know 
no other flag. We have known people who made pets 
of spiders, wolves, toads, and even of cats : who senti- 
mentalise over a plant, a solitary column, or dote upon 
old flint implements and hawthorn blue china pots : if 
this old boy had had a craze for postage stamps, or 
even for portraits of other people's ancestors, we should 
only say we have known people equally misguided ; but 
to go silly about a flag, to dance and dream about it, is 
very original and creditable for a Sfaxin who has not 
had the artificial advantages of civilisation. It may 
be guessed that I did not tell this elderly saint that I 
had laid up in my portmanteau a deep blue silk Union 
Jack, lest he should cling fondly to me, and oblige me 
to take him home to England, or to give over the flag 
to him. 


We went to see some conical stacks of esparto grass 
ready for shipment, which were impervious to rain, and 
to a cannon-ball. To strike one of them with the foot 
was like kicking at a wall. We strongly recommend 
them to armies. By the shore, close under the walls, 
is a marabout of very modest pretensions. It appears 
that the saint being what I suppose no other marabout 
on record has been, bashful and self-depreciatory, de- 
clined on his deathbed to have anything more elaborate 
than this simple white box and dome erected to his 

After this we saw down by the water's edge, near 
some villanous Maltese craft, six lengths of red granite 
columns. I knew them at once, though a Moorish stone- 
mason had already chiselled over the surface of one. 
I asked where they had come from. A Maltese captain 
had brought them from Horns, where he had paid 
twenty-five piastres for them : and had sold them here 
for a hundred piastres each. I was assured that some of 
the harder and finer ones are worth as much as six hun- 
dred piastres, but those must be of uncommon length. 
They are taken, Marcus Antoninus Pius ! into the 
oil mills, where they are invaluable for crushing the 
olives, and will wear for generations. 

We did not see the pirate who brought them, or I 
should have committed, or desired Perruquiertoxjommit, 
an impriidence. Sfax is a city which has itself dis- 

178 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xt. 

creditable antecedents. It is believed to have been 
constructed from the materials of the famous Thainse 
or Thense of antiquity, ten miles south-west of Sfax : 
and so complete was the plundering, that there is 
hardly a vestige of hewn stone to be found at Thainae. 
It was shameful to see the noble shafts with the gloss 
of eighteen centuries upon them ground and sliced into 
crushers of the ignoble olive. There are numbers of 
them in Susa. This accounts for the total disappearance 
of many a noble ruin throughout Barbary, and will 
account for the disappearance of many more, unless the 
authorities are urged in their own interests to prevent 
it. Near these melancholy ruins of Lebda lay quanti- 
ties of soft stone, pure white, brought from Mehdia. 

We watched them building Arab louds, shallow, 
long, half-decked boats, much used by the Kerkeni in 
tunny and sponge fishing. There are on the islands of 
Kerkeneh upwards of a thousand of these boats. The 
vice-consul, finding I had brought away no sponges as 
souvenirs of my visit to Sfax, insisted upon hurrying 
to his house and bringing me several specimens, three 
of Jershish, one of Serkenis, and one of Djerba. 
There were on the quay great oil jars, brought from the 
south side of the Djerid, where the clay is highly suit- 
able for pottery. These were of a huge size, beautiful 
in form, and they cost six piastres each. 

The heavy rain of last night was a godsend to the 


Sfaxins. I trust it was general, and extended to Tripoli 
where the poor Arabs were praying for it weeks before, 
and would be half ruined if it failed. I found an Eng- 
lish engineer at Sfax, and made his acquaintance under 
the discreditable circumstances of having opened on the 
voyage some newspapers directed to him. He was 
engineer on board the Bey's corvette El Bashir. 

V 2 

i8o THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xvi. 


Embark on Corsica — Privations — Facts about Sfax— Sail for the North 
— Sponges of the Lesser Syrtis — The Oulad Azim — Octopi — Sponge 
Culture and Chicken Manufacture— Mehdia — Sardines — Arab Ceme- 
tery — Port of Mehdia — Turris Hannibalis — Relics of El Djem — A 
Moslem Companion — Monastir — Collectors — Susa. 

We put off to the steamer. Our waterproofs were no 
longer necessary in the dry cold evening, the wind had 
fallen, the sun set, and the city looked cold and white. 
We made friends with a green-turbaned Moor, who lay 
at his ease in the bottom of the boat, with his head 
resting affectionately upon an anisette cask. This 
descendant of the Prophet had one eye and a good- 
natured face. He had some successful oil works, and 
was no doubt a heavy importer of ruins. I told him, 
what had only then occurred to me, that I had not 
eaten a mouthful for eight hours and a half. The 
scherif not only begged me to eat with him on the spot, 
but to share his food all the way to Susa. I told Perru- 
quier to say that under the circumstances I would say 
nothing to the Imam about the liqueur butt on which he 
was reposing. Aniseed grows plentifully in the Regency, 
both here and near Tunis. 


When I appeared in the cabin of the Corsica, 
much reduced by fasting, and told the steward how 
hungry I was, he began to swear magnificent oaths 
at society in general, and went out of the cabin with 
a ^acrrRRRAMENTO that rolled like thunder. Eight 
hours and a half I (in a voice like a twenty-four- 
pounder gun). Cospetto ! not a mouthful of bread even ! 
Cento mila maledizioni ! and he strode to the galley 
and ordered an ample meal to be made ready. Then 
he came and watched me solicitously, thrusting dishes 
upon me and murmuring over my hardships. 

The city of Sfax with three suburbs contains about 
thirty-five thousand inhabitants. The Islands of Ker- 
keneh, eighteen miles away, have a population of twelve 
thousand. The principal manufactures of the Sfaxins 
are woollen cloths, blankets, burnouses, &c., which are 
sent on a large scale to Alexandria and other parts of 
the East, towels with which they supply the vapour 
baths for the whole Kegency, scarfs for Moorish and 
Jewish women, yellow slippers for the surrounding 
Arab tribes. They are excellent dyers. 

The Sfaxins are an industrious race. The same 
individuals are merchants, traders, weavers, husband- 
men, fishermen, caravanists, according to occasion. 
Sfax has an independent governor, under the Prime 
Minister's sole control, and this simplicity of responsi- 
bility contributes to the facility of settling disputes 

i82 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xm. 

between Europeans and natives. The anchorage of 
Sfax is the safest in the Regency, from which cir- 
cumstance the Bey's little flotilla winters here. It 
is the only place on the coast where there is a tide, 
which rises about four and a half feet. 

Mahhras has had great rain-water cisterns, said to 
have been built by Ibn Aghlab, Khalif of Kairwan, 
for whose memory the people of this country have a great 
esteem and veneration. He was author of many similar 
beneficent works in various parts of the Winter circuit. 
At Mahhras some beautiful square marble columns were 
found by Dr. Shaw, but they have since disappeared. 
This southern extremity of the district is distant from 
Sfax about thirty-five miles. Here a French vice- 
consul has been lately nominated, and English vessels 
occasionally ship esparto. 

The droll old Leo writes : Of the town of Asfachus. 
It is compassed with most high and strong wals, and 
was in times past very populous ; but nowe it containeth 
but three or fewer hundred families, and but a fewe 
shops. Oppressed it is both by Arabians and by the 
King of Tunis. All the inhabitants are either weauers, 
marriners, or fishermen. They take great store of fishes 
called by them spares, which word signifieth nought in 
the Arabian and Barbarian, much lesse in the Latine 
toong. Their apparell is base and some of them traffike 
in Egypt and Turkie. 


We passed the night at anchor in the roads of 
Sfax, the steam winch rattling up to a late hour. In 
the morning we were on our way northward : the soft 
warm sun was shining upon the deck, and the air from 
the Barbarj shore blew deliciously upon us. The coast 
line to our left was low and hazy. Among the palms 
stood the marabout of Sidi Mansour — the Victorious. 
We were heading for the Islands of Kerkeneh, of which 
the palm trees and fish weirs were visible. 

A thin tall Jew was on board, in a black jacket and 
dress, and with the deep blue cotton turban worn by his 
race. As he sat by me on deck, he began to talk in ex- 
cellent Italian. He was on his way to Tunis, to give evid- 
ence, poor fellow : for the murdered Jew was his brother. 

All along the Tunis coast are sponges, but not suffi- 
ciently numerous to repay their collecting. Towards 
Sidi Mansour are numerous sponges, but of too light a 
texture to serve for much. To our right, on ttie banks 
of Kerkeneh, which extend twenty miles seaward, are 
small but fine sponges, the best on the coast of Tunis. 
Unfortunately, the currents are so strong that it is 
almost impossible to fish for them. A sponge merchant 
told me that in twenty years he never recollected 
sponges so dear as now : they cost twice the usual price. 
To cleanse them, half-a-dozen are attached to a stake in 
the sea : if the sponges are young, for one night, if old 
and the crust is hard, for three days, that the current 

i84 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xvi. 

may wash them to and fro. They are then well trodden, 
and when the Kerkeni has sufiBciently lacerated his feet 
with the gravel and saline incrustations, the sponges 
are replaced in the water. Eventually the crust is 
pared off with a knife, and the sponges are stuffed com- 
pactly into a sack. The Kerkeneh sponges grow in 
water from ten to fifteen feet deep, and in parts as 
clear as crystal : the Benghasi sponges, which are 
closer and finer, in much greater depths, perhaps fifteen 
to twenty fathoms. The Kerkeneh fishermen, I was 
told, spread oil in rings upon the water, that they may 
see through the little smooth circle down to the bottom. 
They also use a kind of tube in the form of a telescope, 
then spear the sponge with harpoons. 

There come to Kerkeneh every year from Trapani 
Sicilian boats : this year eighteen came, together with 
thirteen Greek boats : two years ago more than a hun- 
dred Grreek boats came, but they have now gone to 
Benghasi, where the results are more profitable. I was 
told that a merchant this year gave nearly twenty-five 
thousand pounds for the yield of Benghasi sponges. 

The Grreek sponge fishers have the reputation of 
the utmost skilfulness in using the harpoon. It is re- 
ported that they are in the habit of discharging one 
harpoon, then a second, striking it on its head and in- 
creasing its impetus, then a third to strike the second. 

If the reader doubts this, he will probably disbe- 


lieve what I shall relate to him on excellent authority. 
On the coast of Norway the puffin hunters come in 
search of those astute birds : and, finding a cavern on 
the face of a cliff containing a puffin family, let down 
a cord having a hook at its end. The head of the 
family, imagining the hook is intended for him, lays 
hold of it, and, as he disappears slowly out of the 
cavern, the second puffin lays hold of his tail, the third 
lays hold of the second's tail, and so on, till the whole 
family, strung like beads, are hauled up to the top of 
the cliflF.i 

P^ifty miles south of Sfax, on the uninhabited island 
of Serkenis, otherwise kaown as Kneiss, there grow 
enormous quantities of sponges, and in the lagoons on 
the mainland also : but mineral springs in the neigh- 
bourhood stain and rust the sponges, and render them 
good for nothing. At Zwara Zwara, a double village 
midway from Tripoli to Jershish, grow black sponges. 
On the banks of Jershish (Zarzis), under the lee of 
Djerba, are quantities of sponges, and sixty or seventy 
boats are employed in fishing them. They are superior 
to those of Djerba and Kerkeneh, and resemble those of 
Benghasi. Djerba has a considerable trade in sponges. 
On her last voyage the Corsica brought thence three 
hundred sacks, weighing thirty to forty pounds each. 
They are cheaper than the Kerkeneh sponges. 
* HartvAg's Polar World, p. 114. 

i86 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xvi. 

In the winter the Djerban fishers use harpoons ; in 
the summer they dive. They are famous divers : in- 
deed, I was solemnly assured that individuals of a cer- 
tain village lying eighteen miles from the island, Oulad 
Azim — Children of Azim — can remain under water 
for an hour and a half to two hours. This is their 
profession : they do nothing else. I should think not. 
In the winter and stormy weather they rest, to avoid 
injuring their lungs. They descend to depths of twenty 
or thirty fathoms, and remain there till they collect a net 
full of sponges, whicli they uproot by the hand : they 
pursue the fishes, and catch them in holes among the 
rocks : indeed, two of them, this spring, entered a cave, 
whereupon the fishes came in such numbers that the 
divers could not get out, and were drowned. 

If the reader asks whether I believe this, I would 
ask what is the benefit of travel if we learn nothing 
but what we know at home. I would refer him to the 
unimpeachable Perruquier, who was present, and be- 
lieved every word of the above. He assured me, at the 
same time, that he had timed with his watch in his 
hand a diver at Groletta, who remained under water for 
six minutes. Perruquier gave me his name, to remove 
any doubt I might have. The old Spanish chronicler, 
Fray Agapida, says : None but light and inconsiderate 
minds hastily reject the marvellous. To the thinking 
mind the whole world is enveloped in mystery. 


The Kerkeneh shallows abound with fish. The 
natives of the seven island villages, a sober and indus- 
trious race, catch, in the labyrinths of palm rod palisades, 
enormous quantities of polypi. All round the smooth 
and shallow shores of the Syrtis these creatures abound : 
some of them are of an enormous size. They are 
capital eating, and the natives devour them greedily : 
the greater part are shipped to the Levant for use on 
fast days. The natives string earthen jars together, 
and lower them into the water. The octopus, thinking 
he has found a good thing, a home ready made for him, 
settles down in the jar, sometimes with several others. 
They are attracted by white substances, and bright 
stones are placed in the water to beguile them. 

At Lesina, in Dalmatia, a Mr. Bucchik has made 
very interesting experiments in sponge farming. Cut- 
ting up a sponge, he attaches the pieces to the interior 
of a perforated chest, which he lowers into the sea. 
The sponges begin to grow, they are examined from 
time to time, and at the end of five or six years are 
found to attain a considerable size. We regard this 
experiment with interest and satisfaction, looking for- 
ward to a time when everybody will rear his own 
sponges, and when instead of ferneries or aquaria in our 
rooms, and mignonette or geraniums in our bedroom 
windows, we shall be able to watch the growth of the 
sponge. We do not believe it is yet satisfactorily 


established whether the sponge is vegetable or animate ; 
and, as we should always as a matter of choice incline 
to the less probable, we even anticipate the moral cul- 
ture of the sponge. 

We feel that science is fast outstripping the often 
dilatory and disappointing routine of nature. We 
cannot disregard, as reflective travellers, the circum- 
stances of chicken manufacture by oven in Egypt, and 
by steam in Holland : of the culture of mushrooms in 
cellars, and of mustard and cress in flannel and water : 
of the imiversal acclimatisation of species: of the fifty 
means and contrivances by which seasons are anticipated. 

In one year there have been hatched in Egypt 
eighteen million chickens from twenty-six million 
eggs. We consider this as peculiarly suggestive and 
interesting : economical of much valuable time to the 
mature poultry, who can go on laying as fast as they 
please, while their proprietor attends to the hatching. 
It is our belief that some such system of production 
might be more widely applied : and we look forward 
to a more certain and perennial state of things, such 
as may enable us to have snowballing and sledging in 
the summer, and when roses will blossom in the frost. 
This would be something like civilisation. 

All day we steamed against a head wind. We 
passed the town of Shebba, then the site of the ancient 
Salectum, and cast anchor at three in the afternoon off" 


An Austrian gentleman, who had sailed with us 
from Tunis, kindly put off to meet me in a boat. We 
went to the sardine establishment, of which he is 
manager. It is a private undertaking, and if fairly 
treated ought to be successful. The operations com- 
mence in April, when thirty or forty Sicilian boats 
come to fish. The year's exports vary from seven to 
ten thousand barrels of one hundred pounds each. The 
sardines are rather large, about the size of those we 
condemn in England as being pilchards or herrings. 
In the first year five boats came ; last year forty-five 
came. The company, however, having confidingly 
made advances to certain of the boats, have seen them 
no more. 

- The salt they import is subject, I was told, to a 
duty of ten piastres a ton. In addition to this they have 
to buy from the government, at a hundred piastres a 
ton, as many tons of salt as they import : but this 
salt is valueless, and has only tainted the fish when 
they have used it. They cannot resell it, for the 
government has the monopoly of sale. It was hand- 
somely proposed that they might pay eighty piastres a 
ton without taking the salt, but they preferred to take 
it and give it away. This seems hard and discouraging. 

The obliging Austrian and an Italian gentleman, 
who had also sailed in the Corsica, accompanied me 
into the town. There is a great Saracenic gateway : 


the streets are poor, there are no proper bazaars : the 
whitewashed houses, save where they have some old 
shaft or capital imbedded in them, are quite uninterest- 
ing: the people and dogs are inquisitive. We went 
round under the ruined walls to the beach, and behind 
the mosque found a marble tombstone of a knight of 
St. John, dated 1563. I was told that there were many 
of them in the mosque. The coat of arms had the 
cross of Malta and two dolphins. 

We went out of the town to the rocks by the sea, 
passing through a Mohammedan cemetery, which re- 
sembled a rabbit warren more than anything else. The 
cement and whitewash had crumbled away from many 
a tomb, leaving skulls, bones, and dust exposed to sight. 
On the top of the ridge extending seaward there stands 
an old but remodelled castle : beneath it lies the ancient 
port of Africa. This is a basin hewn in the rock, 
measuring about a hundred by fifty yards, into which 
the sea water still enters to a depth of several feet. 
The entrance, as broad as a city gate, was defended by 
masonry and a tower : it is not now practicable, the 
Spaniards having blown it up when they evacuated 
Mehdia. If, however, the fallen masonry were removed, 
and the dock cleared out, at a moderate expense it 
might still be made to contain half the sandals on the 
coast of Barbary. There are remains of a secret gate 
leading from the tower to the water's edge. When the 


Spaniards destroyed the place, they massacred, it is 
said, twelve hundred Mussulmans, and carried nine 
thousand into slavery. 

We went on farther to the brow of the promontory 
where the citadel, Turris Hannibalis, once stood. 
Under our feet were dark deep vaults and reservoirs, 
having small round apertures cut in the rock. These 
were the cisterns and granaries, and must have been 
very spacious. The rock echoed hollowly under our 
feet, and the surf beat dismally upon the point. It is 
said there is a practicable underground passage running 
a considerable way inland. That such existed, and 
once served the Eomans as an access to the citadel, is 
very possible : but whether it would have been practic- 
able for us to get a long way inland through it, we did 
not stay to inquire. It was cold enough in the twilight 
on the promontory, with the melancholy sea all round us, 
without getting let down into the bowels of a cavern, 
or slipping into some glacial cistern. I offered to help 
to let anyone else down, and wait till I heard him touch 
the bottom, but nothing came of it. 

It was from this point that that fine soldier Han- 
nibal is said to have embarked for Egypt, after his 
fortune's star had set. All round the hill were tombs. 
Many of them had a little cup-shaped hollow on the 
slab. When the rain falls and fills the cup, the little 
birds, say the Moors, come to drink ; thus the good 

192 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xvi. 

works of the departed follow him. The dogs yelped 
hungrily, as we passed through the Arab town, and went 
to look at some lamps brought from El Djem. One 
was of red clay, with the figure of Victory driving a 
four-horsed chariot : the other of grey clay, bearing a 
stag in the central hollow. Both lamps were well pre- 
served and interesting. 

The Corsica was not to have sailed until six in the 
morning ; but the excellent skipper agreed at my re- 
quest to get under way by three o'clock, and at early 
morning we were off Monastir. A Sfaxin had shared the 
saloon with me — a well-dressed, pleasantly-mannered 
Moslem in a green turban, who ate my biscuits and took 
his coffee with me without restraint. He seemed to be 
without prejudice, and treated me with much courtesy. 
The Sfaxins are distinguished, even above the Tu- 
nisians, perhaps, for their grace and pleasantness. 
These Moors, like the Spaniards, will invite you to 
share their food : will make long and ceremonious in- 
quiries in saluting you. They have all the politeness 
of the Spanish beggar, who addresses his comrade as 
Senor y Caballero. A Tunisian private soldier or 
shopkeeper is always, Sidi Ali, Sidi Mohammed. 
Another friend of mine on board was a tall Monastiri, 
very civil and entertaining. There was also the descen- 
dant of the Prophet who had come from Sfax, so I was 
in excellent company. 


We bad sailed from Mehdia at half-past two. The 
skipper, Pietro Molinari, had not been to bed at all, 
and had made the engineer crowd on additional steam. 
The horses I had telegraphed for to Susa were waiting 
on the beach at Monastir : but as my luggage was on 
board, and there were one or two things to do, I sent 
Perruquier on shore, to follow to Susa by land with the 
horses, while I stayed on the Corsica. My acquaintance 
of Monastir begged me to go and stay with him for 
three days — two days — one day — half a day — two 
hours : he was so civil that I was quite sorry I couldn't 
go. If the Englishman, he said to Perruquier, could 
speak a little better Arabic, we should not let him away 
from the Eegency. 

In the delicious calm morning we turned out of 
Monastir roads and steamed to Susa. The Corsica is 
a purely Italian steamer, from the captain to the cook- 
ing. The latter was at first difficult to master, but we 
became cosmopolitan in travelling, and I have only 
drawn the line at garlic, of which the revolting taste is 
too rarely absent. This nauseous and abominable herb 
ought to be exterminated, even at the sacrifice of a 
religious war upon the garlic-eaters. It is impossible 
to. travel far abroad without recognising that in certain 
respects England is far behind other countries: for 
instance, in the habit and facility of eating with the 
knife. Half-way from Monastir to Malta lie the 

194 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xvi. 

Pelagie Islands, Linosa and Lampedusa, almost due 

One small circumstance on the Corsica rather dis- 
quieted Perruquier and me. We noticed, but did not 
name it to anybody, that the electro-plate which came 
to table was marked Baltischer Lloyd. We did not see 
what an Italian navigation company ought to have to do 
with spoons belonging to the Baltic Lloyd. We have 
always been of opinion that to collect is not to rob, it 
is to carry out a principle : and, so long as it is confined 
to chalices, reliquaries, silver ornaments, old books, or 
embroidery, and such like, that any necessary steps for 
the purpose are justifiable. We never condemned 
the First Napoleon's collections from the art galleries 
of his neighbours, but we wonder that, after Perru- 
quier's unsuccessful defence of Paris, Grermany did not 
ask for some of them back again. 

We soon anchored in the roads of Susa, and I landed 
and went to the vice-consulate, to see if the escort were 
ready. Mr. and Mrs. Dupuis received me most kindly : 
their servants ascertained that the soldiers were at my 
disposal, and we only awaited Perruquier's arrival to start 
for Kairwan. He was so long that we half fancied he 
must havefallen into the Kiver Gimmal, which sometimes 
overflows its banks and interrupts the road from Monas- 
tir : but eventually he arrived, condemning the horses as 
unfit to carry us to Kairwan. The Maltese muleteer 


who ovmed them, and bore the classic name of Severio 
Valentino, was disposed to be unreasonable, but after a 
little exercise of consular authority he provided better 
horses. One of Julius Caesar's generals, Ventidius 
Bassus, before he joined the army, gained his living by 
keeping mules and horses for hire. 

Mr. Dupuis took me to see some finely sculptured 
stones lately fo!md in excavating. One block of white 
marble, probably brought from Italy, contained a 
fine group. On a chariot with small wheels, bearing 
on the front of it a Triton blowing his trumpet, stood 
a consul in his robes, having a baton in his hand. Behind 
the chariot sat a half-naked captive, an African, with a 
broad deep torso and muscular arms : the upper part 
of the head was missing. The background was smoothly 
chiselled : indeed, the whole work had been carefully and 
spiritedly done, and no doubt represented some Eoman 
success in Barbary. Fragments of a horse's flank, a 
shield and greaves, and a delicately carved cornice had 
been found in the same place. Such finds are constant 
here : the Kegency teems with traces of its fii-st colonists. 

The mounted soldiers who were to be our guards 
arrived, and I took leave of our hospitable representative. 
We stopped in the street to let an Arab funeral pass — 
every man whom it met or passed leaving his occupa- 
tion according to the Arab custom, and accompanying it 
to the gate of the city. 

o 2 



Of the Great Citie of Cairaoan — Hutmen — Hucba — Muse — Conquest of 
Andaluzia and Castilia — Site of Kairwan — Decline — Dr. Shaw on 
Kairw4n and its Mosque — Origin of Name — Its Sacrodness and Ex- 
clusiveness — Plans and Preparations — A Eeeommendation — Outfit 
— Disappointment. 

Of the Gh'eat Citie of Cairaoan. 

' The famous citie of Cairaoan, otherwise called Carven, 
was founded by Hucba, who was sent generall of an 
armie out of Arabia Deserta, by Hutmen the thirde 
Mahumetan Califa. Hucba persuaded tlie citizens of 
Tunis that no armie or garrison ought to remaine in any 
sea towne, wherefore he built another citie called 
Cairaoan. Vnto which citie the armie marched from 
Tunis, and in the roome thereof other people were sent 
to inhabite. From the Mediterran Sea this citie is 
distant six and thirtie, and from Tunis almost an hun- 
dred miles ; neither was it built (they say) for any other 
purpose, but onely that the Arabian armie might 
securely rest therein with all such spoiles as they woone 
from the Barbarians and the Numidians. He enuironed 


it with most impregnable walles, and built therein a 
sumptuous temple, supported with stately pillers. The 
dominions of Cairaoan began woonderfully to increase. 

' The citie of Cairaoan standeth vpon a sandie and 
desert plaine, which beareth no trees nor yet any come 
at all. Come is brought thither from Susa, from Mon- 
aster, and from Mahdia, all which townes are within the 
space of forty miles. About twelve miles from Cairaoan 
standeth a certain mountaine called Gueslet, where 
some of the Komaines' buildings are still extant : this 
mountaine aboundeth with springs of water and carobs, 
which springs runne downe to Cairaoan, where otherwise 
they should have no water but such as is kept in ces- 
ternes. \N'ithout the wals of this citie raine water is to 
be found in certain cesternes onely till the beginning 
of lune. 

' In sommer time the Arabians vse to resort vnto 
the plaines adioining vpon this towne, who bring great 
dearth of come and water, but exceeding plentie of dates 
and flesh with them, and that out of Nuraidia, which 
region is almost an hundred threescore and ten miles 
distant. In tliis citie for certaine yeeres the studie of 
the Mahumetan lawe mightilie flourished, so that here 
were the most famous lawyers in all Africa. It was at 
length destroied, and replanted againe with news inha- 
bitants, but it coulde neuer attaine vnto the former 
estate. At this present it is inhabited by none but leather- 

198 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xvii. 

dressers, who sende their leather vnto the cities of Nu- 
midia, and exchange it also for the cloth of Europe. 
Howbeit they are so continually oppressed by the King of 
Tunis that now they are brought vnto extreme miserie.' 

Dr. Shaw considers that Kairwan occupies the site 
of the Roman Vicus Augusti, though he gives no clear 
grounds for saying so. The geographer Thuanus iden- 
tifies it wrongly with Curubis, Kurba, a maritime 
village towards the Gulf of Hammamet : but in attri- 
buting its first origin to the Mohammedan prince of 
Barbary, be is nearer to the truth than Dr. Shaw. ' The 
Calipha,' he says, ' of Africa had his seat of government 
at Caruan, a city built by Oklibah Ibn Nafi in tlie 
Cyrenaica, after various victories gained over the Arabs : 
for that the name signifies Cairo or Kahira — victory.' 

There seems to have been some confusion on this 
point in the mind of Thuanus. For Kairwan is not 
in the Cyrenaica, and yet ^^jj^ Kayrawan — more 
commonly El Krenneh — is the Arabic name for Cyrene.' 
Leo Africanus and Dr. Shaw regard the name Kairwan 
as identical with ^^^jlf karwdn, caravan — and ori- 
ginally signifying the place where the Arabs had their 
rendezvous. This word ^}^»^ karawda, also signifies 
a crane or stork. Leo writes Cairaouan ; Sir Grenville 
Temple calls the city Kairwan, Kairvan, El Kirwan, 
\J^ij^^ without suggesting any origin for the name. 
' Catafago. 


Guerin follows Ebn Khaldoun and Nowairi in writ- 
ing Cairouan. Colonel Playfair, an excellent Arabic 
authority, writes Kerouan ^J'if'- in Tripoli the 
common pronunciation of the name is Keerwan : while 
in the city itself, among the educated natives with 
whom I came in contact, the name was strongly pro- 
nounced Kdyrawan. 

It is conceivable that Okhbah the Saracen, who 
had just overrun the Cyrenaica — then full of magnifi- 
cent buildings, which he gave over to destruction or 
carried away piecemeal — should have given to his 
new and splendid city a name which would recall the 
glories of Kayrawan. Of the remains in which 
Kairwan is still rich, many noble shafts and capitals 
were transported from Cyrene. 

Dr. Shaw says : ' We have several fragments of the 
ancient architecture at this place, and the Great Mosque 
is accounted the most magnificent as well as the most 
sacred in the Barbary States. It is supported by 
an almost incredible number of granate Pillars. The 
Inhabitants told me, for a Christian is not permitted to 
enter the mosques of the Mahometans, that there are no 
fewer than five Hundred : yet, among the great Variety 
of Columns and the ancient Materials used in this large 
and beautiful Structure, I could not be informed of one 
single Inscription. The Inscriptions likewise which I 
found in other places of the City were either filled up 
with Cement or else defaced by the Chissel.' 

200 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xvii. 

The city's present character is much what it has 
loeen for centuries. Its buildings circumscribed, and 
still too large for its shrunken population : its trade 
decaying, and now restricted to some few objects of 
manufacture, such as carpets and leather articles, and 
to the supply of the Arabs of the plain, who come 
to buy or barter for copper utensils, boots, and saddlery. 
Forty thousand strong, they come to encamp in the 
plain, of which they and the natives of Kairwan cul- 
tivate portions. The population is said to be, of the 
city fifteen thousand, and of the suburbs five thousand 
— both, I am satisfied, excessive estimates. 

Temple says : ' Kairwan is, as is well known, a 
sacred or holy town, the present hotbed of all the 
bigotry of Mohammedanism in Africa. The traveller 
who wishes to enter within its walls must take upon 
himself all the risks of the enterprise.' 

' Our promenades through the town were managed 
with the greatest mystery, and the Kaid at first posi- 
tively refused to let us walk out, except after sunset. 
After further difficulties he appointed an officer to 
attend us, making us promise not to stare about too 
much, take notes or drawings, or speak in any 
European language. Disguised in Arab dress, we 
paraded through the town, observing a dignified silence 
and a steady solemn pace. More than one walk we were 
not allowed to take, as I was told that if we were 


known to be Christians v?hilst walking about, we miglit 
be torn to pieces by the infuriated populace.' 

M. Guerin writes in 1860: 'Though Tunis has 
been for long ages the political capital, Kairwan has 
always remained in the mind of the masses the religious 
capital of the country. 

' It is the Holy City par excellence, where the 
Crescent reigns undividedly. For twelve centuries no 
minister of the gospel has entered it. 

' Though singularly fallen from its ancient splendour, 
Kairwan is, after Tunis, one of the most populous towns 
in the Regency. What above all distinguishes it is the 
sacred prestige with which it is invested : a character 
due to its origin, to the sanctity of its chief mosque, 
the great number of its shrines and tombs, and to the 
inviolability of its proper ground. 

' Situated in nearly the heart of Tunisia, it has never 
been attacked by Christian troops, as the coast towns 
have so often been. No Christian has ever had the 
right, I do not say of establishing himself in it, but 
even of penetrating thither, except by a quite special 
favour. Jews have been entirely excluded, so that it 
has remained virgin to the contact of any Faith but 
that of its fovmder Okhbah. 

' Hence the sort of holy and mysterious aureole with 
which the Mussulman religion surrounds it. Caravans 
which resort thither from all parts of the Regency 

202 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xvii. 

come to steep themselves in some measure in Islamism : 
its Great Mosque — whose stones, according to popular 
tradition, which the Imams keep up among the masses, 
came miraculously to place themselves in the spots 
they now occupy — is ceaselessly visited with deep rever- 
ence by the adepts of the Koran. The shrines of its 
saints are equally the object of constant pilgrimage. All 
this maintains in the mind of the populace a fanaticism 
which nothing hitherto has succeeded in weakening. 

' The Bey himself, when at rare intervals he delivers 
an amar to a Christian, has not the right to impose 
the infidel's presence upon the inhabitants : his order, 
absolute elsewhere, is here a simple prayer, a pure 
letter of recommendation. The Christian who bears 
it, when he approaches Kairwan, must halt at some 
distance from its walls, and despatch one of his escort 
to show the Bey's letter to the governor of the city. 

' The governor assembles the council, and if they 
agree that the stranger recommended by the Bey shall 
be admitted, an escort is sent out to bring him in : his 
entry has always perforce a certain solemnity. Even 
the presence of the governor, who would accompany 
me wherever I went, did not protect me from all in- 

' I need hardly' say that I was unable to enter the 
mosque : I could barely make the exterior circuit of 
the quadrilateral which it forms: and even then the 


sheikhs and shaoushes of my escort urged me to hasten 
my steps, and not to cast too attentive an eye on this 
religious monument, one of the most venerated of Is- 
lamism, for fear of exciting annoyance and insult among 
the inhabitants.' 

Mr. Wood, the consul-general, in his report for 
1875, writes: ' Kairwan is considered so holy a place 
that no Christians or Jews are allowed within its walls, 
and a traveller must be accompanied by a government 
escort for protection.' 

The reader will recognise that Kairwan is, or was, 
a place of consideration and an enjoyable object for a 
visit, and will make allowance for the interest with which 
I prepared for the journey. I was anxious to go privately, 
disguised as an Arab, choosing a familiar dress of Bar- 
bary : to stain my face, neck, arms, and ankles : to travel 
to Susa, and there seek out some native willing to ac- 
company me, tempted by the price of gold. At Susa I 
should buy or hire a horse to carry myself and bundle, 
the native accompanying me on foot, and answering all 
questions put to us. We should contrive to reach the 
city towards the Tnughreb or sunset, shortly before the 
gates would close, and enter in the twilight. 

On approaching, the native should mount the 
horse, while I, carrying the bundle, should walk behind 
or beside him as his servant. Once inside, I should 
probably feel exceedingly alarmed : we should seek 

204 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xtii. 

some caravanserai, avoid conversation, and roll our- 
i^elves up in a corner to sleep. As there would be a 
moon at the time, we should rise and make the circuit of 
the city, entering the Great Mosque for midnight prayer. 
Very early on the following morning we should sally 
forth again, muffled, according to the Arab habit, 
about the face, until the atmosphere should become 
warm. In the heat of the day, if possible during 
some market, when the crowd's attention would be 
distracted, we would traverse the bazaars : I calculated 
upon their being dark and vaulted. 

The chief risk would lie in the infernal inquisitive- 
ness and gossiping of the bazaars, and in the fear that 
my native might fail in readiness on an emergency. 
There was a risk, too, in the fanaticism of those religious 
buffoons, the Marabouts, who in a sacred city like this 
were sure to abound. A genuine Marabout is a kind 
of irresponsible Kalendar. A Kalendar is a Moham- 
medan wandering monk, who abandons all to the exer- 
cise of his profession. Kairwan, I was also assured, 
was a spot of refuge for criminals and the escaped 
rascality of tlie seaport towns. Six feet of height and 
grey eyes are not strict characteristics of an African or 
Asiatic : but the chances would be in my favour, and 
a little tact and adroitness ought to be enough to 
keep one out of predicament's. 

I prepared a note-book on which to record my 


impressions of Kairwan : and went into diligent train- 
ing for writing in my pocket, in the breast of my coat, 
or behind my back. I had it carefully ruled with lines 
in relief, so that I could feel my way along with a 
pencil between the lines, and, by returning to any given 
spot on the page, avoid writing twice over the same spot. 
To provide further against chances I had obtained 
from a Persian Mussulman a most friendly recom- 
mendation, under the name of Abdul Malek, to 
Mussidmans in general. The writer's translation ran 
thus : — 

' In the name of the Omnipotent, that we utter his 
name with zele and fervant lips, Him our Creator, the 
Compassionate, Bless He be ! We the undersigned 
(then follow the writer's name and description) do 
declare that the bearer of the present our beloved friend 
the son of a very distinguished family amongst us — 
whose name is Mirza Abdul Malek, an accomplished 
young gentleman of good society and birth belonging to 
a family of first- water — wishing to visit the Beylik of 
Tunis and its adjacent towns, etc : — We the said Vekil 
insisted upon the said gentleman to take with him this 
our declaration in the Arabic tongue : that he may 
spread and shew during his journey to all our esteemed 
Mussulman brethren, with whom he may come in con- 
tact : and especially to those higti dignitaries in towns 
— and others who are chiefs of tribes, etc. for the pur- 

2o6 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xvii. 

pose of shewing him their hospitality and protection : 
as also to recommend him to others in power in case of 

' Such favours shall not be forgotten from our heart. 
Moreover to one who deserves esteem and respect : in 
conclusion we pray for his journey and return : with 
our greetings and Moslem Salamat, in the name of all 
the people of Iran.' 

Date, etc. 

The letter itself was a most beautiful example of 
the flowing Arabic character, and ought to carry much 
weight in a country where many people can neither 
read nor write. 

After this came the question of complexion. This 
was a more intricate question than male readers would 
fancy. After diligent investigation I found that there 
was no choice between a powder whose transient pro- 
perties were at the mercy of every sneeze and finger- 
mark : and walnut-stain, which would yield a good 
lasting tint, and expose me in travelling home to the 
suspicions of every passport officer and gendarme, and 
perhaps to disowning by my friends. 

Fair hair being irreconcilable with walnut skin, the 
hair must be thrown in with the arms, feet, and neck, 
and stained too. So I went to a chemist and asked 
confidently for a large bottle of walnut juice to stain 


my face. The chemist said he had none, adding that I 
was no doubt aware the colour would last for some 
weeks. I said I was afraid it would. He then asked 
whether a powder would do, such as was used in 
most private theatricals, and lasting fairly through an 
evening. I said that the play in which I was to take 
part would last for several days at least, and I saw that 
the chemist regarded me as about to evade the ends of 

I sought a seedsman, in the hope of getting some 
dried walnut leaves. He kept none, and didn't believe 
anyone else did. I might get some by waiting till the 
summer, when the leaves were on the trees. As it was 
not satisfactory to me to wait till the summer, I went to 
a chemical colour manufacturer, and, oppressed with a 
natural bashfulness — increased by the consciousness that 
I was leaving the country under suspicious circumstances 
— asked for a brown dye which would last for several 
days, but not for several weeks. Fancy dress ball, sir ? 
he said. Yes, fancy dress, I said. Try this powder, 
he said ; it will wear through the evening. I said I 
had to wear my dress for some days, and probably to 
sleep in it : and, seeing the chemical colour manufac- 
turer did not believe me, I went sadly away. 

I came to a dyer's, and asked him to give me the 
best thing for dyeing myself brown. We never sell our 
colours, the dyer said : everything must be dyed on the 

2o8 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xvii. 

premises. It was not convenient to me to get dyed on 
the premises, so I went to a theatrical barber and wig 
maker. He had no idea where I could find walnut 
juice. Besides, he said, it won't come off your hands 
or head till the skin wears off. I was on the point of 
telling him that that was not of much consequence, as I 
was going to a place where the head itself might come 
off in a day or two : but the idea seemed so dark and 
sanguinary, that I was afraid he might get me watched 
by the police. Eventually I bought from him a 
hair dye and some chocolate-coloured cosmetic : and 
as I hesitated to carry on this compromising sort of 
search any longer, I started on my travels in despair. 

Sitting in the hotel at Marseilles on the day of our 
sailing, drinking strong coffee, a profound idea came 
into my head : I smeared my hands experimentally 
with coffee — a rich brown — and felt that it would be 
a success. The scent was strong, but not inappro- 

The reader will understand how, after anticipating 
a certain amount of enjoyable excitement and mischief, 
I was sensible of extreme disappointment on learning 
that I could go to Kairwan with an escort of soldiers, 
and under the protection of government, and how I 
was saddened on receiving the following kind note 
from Mr. Wood, on the morning of my departure from 


* My dear Sir : I beg to enclose a letter addressed 
to the Governor of Kairwan by the Prime Minister, 
and to inform you that telegraphic instructions have 
been sent to the Sub-Grovernor of Susa to furnish you 
with an escort. I will also telegraph to our Vice- 
Consul at that port: and I beg to suggest that, on 
approaching the city and before entering it, one of the 
Ispahis should go forward with the letter to the 
Governor, that he may make arrangements for your 



Departure from Susa — The Sahel — Bedouins — A Discovery in Natural 
History— Drought — M'seken — The Great Plain — Footprints of Pil- 
grims — The Great Minar — The Walls — Enter Kairw^n — Observa- 
tions — Maledictions. 

We swung out of Susa very early in the day in spite of 
some lost time. The landscape consisted of a succession 
of rolling hillocks and brushwood : we saw old Arab 
buildings, among them a curiously buttressed cistern, 
and traversed olive woods which had been cleared of 
their undergrowth for firewood. The country around 
us was the Sahel, a province extending from the fou- 
douk of Birloubuita, forty-five miles north of Susa, to 
twenty miles south of Susa, and stretching from the 
seacoast twenty miles inland to the mountains we can 
faintly see in front of us. 

Its almost exclusive product is the olive : the vil- 
lage of Hergla — the name sounds very like Heraclea — 
sixteen miles to the north of Susa — is noted for the 
purest oil in the Regency. The health of the inhabit- 
ants of the Sahel is vigorous : the air is fresh and whole- 
some in every village. 


We saw the white domes of Zawi a mile away to our 
left amoDg olive woods, and, passing gardens and hedges 
of prickly pear and olives, came among the houses and 
mud walls of Moureddin, one hour and a half distant 
from Susa. We met a flock of lambs in the village — 
more perfect than even Syrian lambs, with black faces 
and feet, and lovely fleece. We saw a piece of an old 
column in reduced circumstances — once in a temple, 
now an olive crusher. We shuddered at the filthy black 
pools where, within a few yards of the house, the re- 
fuse liquid from the oil mills is collected. We reached 
a cistern in which we had counted upon refilling our 
barada : and, our muleteers having emptied those ves- 
sels in anticipation, we became suddenly exposed to the 
apprehensions of thirst. 

We reached considerable olive groves, protected by 
hedges of dove-coloured thorn. Across the rough sandy 
track at short intervals were channels to carry the rain- 
water, dug by some poor Arab, anxious to lose no drop 
of what was Hfe to his crop, and for which this season 
his labour had been in vain. In places the way became 
rocky. We overtook armed Bedouins with white camels 
travelling to Kairwan, and met numerous camels and 
asses laden with esparto for the seaport of Susa. 

On the great plain, sweeping away to the moun- 
tains of Oussalat, were the squat brown tents of the 
Bedouins. To the north we could see the fine peaks of 

p 'i 

212 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap, xviii. 

Zagbwan — known to the Eomans as Zeugis — and of 
Djebel Resass. We were travelling towards the mugh- 
reb, the sunset. 

Our shaoushes were fine-looking men, dressed hand- 
somely and in excellent taste : one with a red djubba, 
a white haik about his head and shoulders, a dark blue 
burnous, and bare brown ankles. The other wore a 
chocolate-coloured djubba, with pale green embroidery, a 
white haik, and light blue burnous. They were mounted 
on mules, the best of all beasts for Eastern travelling, 
where trotting is fatiguing and galloping often im- 
possible. The swift ambling pace of the mule takes 
the traveller over the ground at a surprising rate. A 
shdoush is a serjeant, commanding perhaps fifteen 
or twenty Bedouin tents. They are the mounted gen- 
darmes of the interior. 

The clouds gathered overhead and a few drops of 
rain fell. We asked one of our guards if it were going 
to rain. I don't know — God knows, he said quietly, as 
if any speculation by him would be irreverent. Near 
the Bedouin tents on the plain were occasional patches 
of corn, which slightly cheered the landscape. 

One or two mongrel greyhounds came to snarl at us. 
These are used for hunting the jackal. This amusing 
beast, whose cry resembles an infant's wail, is found in 
numbers in the Sahel. When got into a corner it be- 
comes plucky enough, and fights like a dog. Gazelles, 


too, are plentiful here, and even between Susa and 
Moureddin they are seen grazing like goats. They are 
hunted with horses and greyhounds, and are difficult to 
catch. The young gazelles are easily tamed, and become 
very domestic. The fox, too, exists in numbers on the 
plain : the Arabs eat its flesh and consider it excellent. 

Then there are hedgehogs and porcupines, especially 
towards El Knais, five miles to the left of our road. 
They are hunted, so the shaoushes told me, with dogs, 
at night, and are capital food — very fortifying. This 
prickly pork is not forbidden by the Koran. Some 
porcupines weigh as much as twenty pounds, Perru- 
quier said. He added that they are hard to catch alive, 
as they are not amusing to take hold of. Also that 
you might knock a porcupine about the head with a 
hammer, and he not think anything of it ; but he is 
very tender and sensitive above his legs and feet, where 
one blow will disable him. The porcupine runs fast, 
almost as fast as a dog. The dogs know them well, 
and don't fancy them, but dance round yelping and 
snarling. Sportsmen in search of partridge on Djebel 
Kesass often chance upon porcupines. I was told that a 
hedgehog will readily attack and kill a snake. Seizing 
him by the body, it holds him, while the snake in his 
frantic writhing, teais himself to pieces on the hedge- 
hog's bristles. 

We saw a prodigious worm or caterpillar nearly 

214 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xvin. 

as long as a porcupine, and with thirteen or fourteen 
hundred legs, so Perruquier said. We agreed that he 
must be very nearly the largest worm in the world : and 
as neither the shaoushes nor I had ever read of this 
caterpillar in natural history books, we believed him to 
be something quite new, and gave him the name of 
Eruca Perruquiensis. Besides the above creatures, 
there abound on the plain of Kairwan hares, partridge, 
and quail ; so that a sportsman or naturalist should have 
a good time here. 

After travelling for two hours and a half we sighted 
the Lake Sidi el Hani, or Lake of Kairwan — a con- 
siderable sheet of water, three miles distant — but we 
soon lost sight of it among hillocks and rising ground. 
In another hour we saw on a hill, darkly covered with 
Barbary fig, the double marabout of Sidi el Hani. 
Eound the western and southern shores of the lake 
stretch the tents of the Oulad Zlass. This lake is fed 
by drainage and rain : its waters are brackish. There 
are only three considerable streams in all the Sahel — the 
Wadi Gimmal, into which we had formed unjustified 
hopes of Perruquier's having fallen — the Wadi Hamam, 
which we shall cross on our journey northward from 
Kairwan — and the Wadi Hamdun. 

What with the scanty natural supply of water and 
the precariousness of the rainfall, the failure of the 
crops in the Sahel is lamentably frequent. This and 


other causes have contributed to the dwindling away 
of the population from two hundred thousand to barely 
half that number. 

Within nine miles of Susa is a noted town of the 
Sahel — a sort of miniature Kairwan — M'seken by name, 
proverbial for the jealousy, bigotry, and exclusiveness 
of its inhabitants. Not many years ago the inhabitants 
attempted to murder two Maltese, but the town was 
fined and the ringleaders were punished. The shaoushes 
said there was no longer any danger in visiting it, and 
our muleteer had been more than once within its walls. 

After four hours and a half of quick travelling, we 
saw some white buildings and a minaret among trees— 
rather hazy and low in the plain. Beyond rose a grey 
serrated range of mountains, and the sun was declining 
behind them. It was the Holy City of Kairwan. We 
could see herds of camels grazing on the plain, and 
blue smoke rising from the Bedouin tents. The hills 
grew darker as the sun sank, the plain grew purple, 
the stillness of evening was coming on, and we won- 
dered if we could arrive before the gates were closed. 
Fortunately the twilight is long on this vast plain and 
its exceeding level surface, extending as it does from 
Zaghwan to the borders of the Djerid. 

The track became enormously broad ; the hard dry 
mud was impressed with countless hoof and footmarks. 
The caravans and pilgrims of centuries had used it. The 

2i6 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap, xtiii. 

city disappeared from time to time, as we traversed 
hollows where the horses' feet sank in still liquid mud. 
We could hear the bleating of the lambs in the darlc 
brushwood enclosures of the Bedouin douars, and wild 
forms looked out from the low black tents. We drew 
rapidly nearer, and the city began to develop itself. We 
could see to the right, outside the city, a great garden 
and a white-domed mosque among its trees. The sha- 
oushes told me it was the garden of the late Kaid. 

The city walls were brownish yellow, with crenellated 
outline : to the right, above a long smooth stretch of 
wall, rose the tower of the most sacred building in all 
Africa — thc' shrine of the veneration, fanaticism, and 
bigotry of twelve centuries. In form this minar recalled 
those of Cordova and Seville, but it was more squat. It 
seemed to be of brownish brick for a great part of its 
height, and of a creamy white above. Everything was 
very silent, no hum came from the city. The Bedouins 
had lighted great fires on either side of the track, and 
thick smoke rose from them. We could distinguish shep- 
herds with a flock of sheep ascending the slope in front 
of the eastern gate, and entering the city by the dark 
round arch. We could distinguish the brown bricks 
in the city wall, and above the crenellated parapet the 
yellow houses, domes, and minarets. 

We advanced rapidly, leaving to om- right a large 
white-domed marabout, to our left a sloping hill 


covered thickly with Barbary fig. To the right, below 
the city walls, extended wide gardens of the same dull 
green shrub. Among the figs to the left was another 
marabout, its dome fluted like a water-melon. By this 
time we were close to the city walls, and the tall half- 
round towers which project at even distances round it. 
It was a long, high wall, very complete and erect still, 
like the Great Wall of Damascus or the Moorish wall 
of Cordova. The domes of the mosques rising above it 
had convex flutings. 

We saw no people about save the shepherds enter- 
ing the eastern gate. We left this to our right hand, 
passing round for some distance under the wall, and 
between the wall and a great enclosure with cemented 
floor. This was a cistern, measuring maybe a hundred 
and fifty yards by a hundred yards, to collect the rain- 
water on which the city depends — but it was empty 
now, and as dry as a threshing-floor. Occasionally 
rain-water fails in the summer, and is not unlikely to 
do so this year. There were some buildings of attob, or 
mud, outside the city wall : and here we came among 
the inhabitants. One look back over the great dull 
plain behind, and we were in a suburb of Kairwan. 

There were strange looks cast at us, but we passed 
quietly on to the gate Bab el Djuluddin and entered 
the crowd. I had been cautioned not to approach the 
city till soldiers should be sent out : but one shaoush 

2i8 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xvni. 

we had outridden, and there seemed nothing gained by 
loitering outside for him. The remaining shaoush I 
sent on to the Kaid's house to carry the Prime Minis- 
ter's letter and my respects, while Perruquier and I 
sat among the crowd. 

There were the customary groups of men and boys 
idling at the close of day, and they came to see what 
evil chance had brought Christians among them — per- 
haps the first they had seen in their city. They stared 
at us, wondering who we were and what the deuce we 
wanted. Wonder gave place to superstition. What 
has Allah sent the unbeliever here for ? they asked one 
another. I understood the ordinary forms of Arab com- 
pliment, such as kaU), khanztr, kqflr, and Perruquier 
translated the rest while I wrote them down in my note 
book. The dog ! a white-robed man said, how dare he 
come into our city ? Then they began to grow angry, 
and some of them scowled and spat at us from a dis- 
tance. May the good God suffer the walls to fall and 
crush him ! a man said. 

They drew nearer. Some among them were quiet 
and respectful, but others seemed almost unable to 
contain themselves. The Kaid has gone to the Castle 
to vifeit the soldiers, said a Moor with a grey beard. 
Your shaoush has followed liim, and he will soon be 
back to receive you. We were close to the Kaid's 
house, and could not present ourselves till he was ready 


to receive us, it being contrary to Oriental etiquette 
and law to do so. A boy, after examining me for some 
time, brought up a companion. See, he said, the Infi- 
del's hat ; is it made of wood ? It was a round- topped 
black felt hat, and the young Moors were possibly cal- 
culating its brick- proof capacity. No one, however, 
raised a stone, and we sat tranquilly among them. 
There is a cheerful omen, said my interpreter. A man 
who had not spoken before looked at us and said. 
They will never leave the city. Inshallah! said his 
nearest neighbour : Please Grod ! 

Our reception was about as cordial as Linnaeus' wel- 
come by an old woman in Lapland, who addressed him 
with mingled pity and reserve in the following words : 
' thou poor man ! what hard destiny can have brought 
thee hither to a place never visited by anyone before ? 
This is the first time I ever beheld a stranger. Thou 
miserable creature I how did'st thou come, and whither 
wilt thou go ? ' 

The soldier had been gone for half an hour, and we 
still sat among the crowd. I told Perruquier to give a 
handful of tobacco to a youth near, to see what he would 
do. Dou't touch it ! roared his companions ; it is pol- 
luted with swine's flesh. Their unatfected dislike and 
contempt were novel and interesting, and their insults 
were so conscientiously and heartily oSered that we 
could only receive them with good nature. They were 

220 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap, xviii. 

more to relieve their utterers' feelings than to pro- 
voke us. 

It was enjoyable to have reached the city, untrodden 
as it had been, save at rare intervals, by Christian feet 
for twelve centuries — the shrine which its inhabitants 
had contrived to keep sealed and almost unpolluted by 
foreigners and unbelievers. Strangers had come at 
distant intervals, but disguised and careful in manner. 
Here were two of the dogs in their ordinary native dress, 
sitting where they had no right to sit, and smiling at 
the hardest things they could say. Curse them ! they 
would break out now and then — the swine ! 

Hasn't he a very large head ? asked one little boy. 
Yes, and an ill-disposed countenance, said another. 
What can Allah's piu-pose be ? I wrote down word for 
word as they spoke, and the act of writing puzzled and 
annoyed them more. At length our soldier reappeared. 
As we turned our backs the crowd raised a howl of 
execration. They had hoped that after delivering our 
message to the Ka'id we would leave Kairwan. Chris- 
tians in the city ! they yelled. Malediction ! 



The Year of the Hejreh 1292— The Kaid's House— Sidi Mohammed 
el Mour&bet — Hospitality — A Pervert — Supper a I'Arabe — Fana- 
tical Mosquito — Visit the Kai'd — The Bazaars — Curiosity and Pre- 
cautions — The Tunis Gate — A Horse Sale — My Bodyguard — Progress 
to Citadel— Soldiers— Civility— The Walls— Rough Usage. 

It was the twenty-fifth day of the month of Safar, in 
the year 1292. Thank goodness I had got away from 
the nineteenth century at last. Here was a refuge from 
telegraphs, railways, hotels, and financial commissions. 
We pulled up and alighted at the house of the governor, 
Sidi Mohammed el Mourabet. A pleasant-looking man, 
stout and grey-haired, stood at the open door and wished 
me Marhdba, Welcome. 

I went in with him. We passed through a large 
anteroom into a hall with grated windows. There were 
divans at the sides and end of the room, which was 
rather empty otherwise. The walls were tiled like the 
floor, and the wooden ceiling was painted in gaudy 
colours. Several attendants followed us in and stood 
respectfully about. My host made me sit beside him, 
and I told Perruquier to express my sorrow for having 
inconvenienced him at so short a notice. He shook me 

222 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap, xviii. 

kindly by the hand, assuring me that it gave him muoli 
pleasure to see me, and that he would do his best to 
make my visit agreeable. It was not the governor 
himself, but his brother, Miralai or Colonel Mohammed 
el Mourabet, a member of one of the oldest families in 
Kairwan, a mild amiable man, who was suffering from 

He told Perruquier that any arrangement I might 
be pleased to wish for should be immediately made» 
and that he was to be informed of any desire of mine, 
that to the best of his ability it might be gratified. 
He said his brother, the Ferik or General, was absent in 
the Djerid, collecting the revenues, and that he would 
be sorry to have missed the chance of entertaining any- 
one recommended by General Kh aired din. He was 
expected back in Kairwan in ten days. 

The Kaid — for in his brother's absence my host 
acted as such — asked if I would prefer remaining in his 
house or occupying one by myself : assuring me that either 
arrangement would be equally convenient and gratifying 
to him. Believing this plan would cause less restraint 
to both of us, I told Perruquier to say that I should 
enjoy staying with the Kaid very much, but that I 
should enjoy staying by myself more than I should, 
enjoy staying with him. 

The Kaid ordered rooms to be prepared in a house 
hard by, and went out himself to see to the arrange- 


ments, leaving his attendants and Perruquier with me 
in the reception room. 

In Kairwan, I had been told, was a renegado, a 
Frenchman, who had adapted Islamism, and who occu- 
pied himself in instructing the Raid's children. His 
perversion had taken place in Tunis, but he was shy or 
jealous of his new faith, and to avoid comment or 
curiosity he had sought refuge in the sacred city of 
the Moors. His habits and dress differed, I was told, in 
no way from those of the Moors about him, and he was 
imwilling to be identified. He was probably some shop- 
keeper or barber, I fancied, who had changed his faith 
to serve some small private interest. 

When we came in sight of Kairwan, I instructed 
Perruquier to seek out the Frenchman and become as 
friendly as possible with him, and I provided him with a 
quantity of expensive tobacco with which to conciliate 
the renegade's rugged spirit. Our deep purpose was to 
obtain, by the means of tobacco and napoleons, drawings 
and measurements of the mosque, which it was said to 
be almost certain death for a Christian to approach. 
Perruquier, who had a ready intelligence, was to invite 
liim to the cafe, and between the coffee, the tobacco, 
and the napoleons to form a quick and valuable friend- 
ship. The renegado had spent some months in Tunis 
prior to his change of faith, and was well known by 
sight to Perruquier. He was to cough when the rene- 

224 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xix. 

gado should make his appearance : and then Perruquier 
and I rubbed our hands and thought we had prepared 
a good bait to catch the renegado. 

As we sat in the lamp light there came in a dear 
little boy, plump and jolly, about three or four years 
old. Without any hesitation he came up and sat on 
my knee, and when I gave him a yellow rose from my 
coat he was very pleased, and we grew very friendly. 
Quite frank and at home, he sat with me for a quarter 
of an hour, and told me that his father was the governor 
and that my host was his uncle. When it was time for 
him to go to bed, he kissed me, and said, May your 
sleep be sweet, and may you rise up with happiness ! 

The attendants had left, and we sat for some time 
longer in the empty room. I asked Perruquier to 
ascertain what the projects were for our food and lodg- 
ing. I will ask for a glass of water, he said, and enter 
into conversation with one of the servants. I'he servant 
went in good faith for the water, and then told us that 
dinner was already prepared, and that my rooms were 
being put in order. 

The attendants of the Kaid returned. A tall, in- 
tellectual-looking man, with a white turban, an ordinary 
Arab cloth dress in good taste, and a beard closely 
cut in the Arab fashion, advanced to one of the tapers 
and lighted a cigarette, while the light fell upon his 
features. Perruquier coughed. It was the Frenchman. 


A man of perfect Oriental manner and composure, he 
was one of the last in the room one would have picked 
out as a European. 

Soon the Kaid returned, and, taking me by the hand, 
led the way to my new quarters. Here was a suite of 
three small comfortable rooms, furnished with divans 
and mattresses, and in the inner room the Kaid and I 
took our seats, awaiting the supper. The Mudabbir, or 
Minister, sat near us, a well-bred man, dressed in pale 
grey cloth with silk braiding, and having a close-pointed 
grey beard and sharp features. For twenty years he 
had never left Kairwan : had not travelled as far as Susa. 
He is. an example of the life of the rest of the inhabit- 
ants of this city. For twelve centuries shut up and 
insensible to the progress of the outer world, they have 
no ambitions or curiosity, no enterprise, and relatively 
little information. The great world has been rolling on 
while the Moors of Kairwan, anxious only to be left 
alone and to maintain the exclusiveness of their shrine 
and city, have slumbered on, unconscious of outer 
changes of thought and circumstance. 

Empires have risen and fallen, new continents have 
been discovered and peopled: the map of the world 
and the whole system of civilisation have changed, but 
Kairwan has been indiflferent to it all. The source from 
which issued many kingdoms, both on this continent 
and in Europe, Kairwan has remained practically un- 


226 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xix. 

affected by their destinies. Her ancient splendour has 
in great measure disappeared ; her independence and 
exclusiveness have alone prevented her complete decay. 
Keduced in size and wealth, Kairwan is still an intact 
holy Moorish city. 

I was getting desperately hungry, and if the ser- 
vants had not come to announce supper I should have 
devoured the Kaid himself, for all I know. It was the 
year 1292, and I don't suppose 1 should have minded. 
The worthy gentleman led me to the table and wished 
me a good appetite. Near me sat my interpreter, and 
at the other end of the table sat — after much persuasion 
— the shaoushes who had escorted me from Susa. They 
wished, poor fellows, to wait till I had finished, but I 
saw no prospect of being finished for hours, and made 
them join us. The Kaid had sent numerous attendants 
and a handsome array of dishes from his own kitchen. 

After supper the Kaid and Mudabbir sat with me and 
we had a long chat. In the course of it the Kaid was 
called out, and he returned leading by the hand a mild- 
faced, pleasant yoimg Moor, who saluted me cordially 
and then affectionately kissed the Mudabbir. It was the 
Kaid's son, who had just arrived from Tunis by horse, 
having travelled the distance in two days. He had 
been studying the Mohammedan law in Tunis, and had 
not seen his father for many months. Tlie Mudabbir's 
family had been in Kairwan, he told me, for six hundred 


years : the Kaid's family almost since the city's found- 
ation. They were of the famous sect who once go- 
verned Moorish Spain. El Mourabet or Almoravide — 
the name signifies one devoted to the Faith, as either 
warrior or saint. Sidi Mohammed el Mourabet is 
Governor of Kairwan, of the Sahel and the Djerid. 

The chief religious functionaries here are the Bashi 
Mufti, two Muftis, and a Kadi. The Oujak, or corps 
of Hambas, are commanded by an Agha, a Kahia, a 
Khogia, and a Bashi Shaoush. In former times the Kaid 
of Kairwan was almost absolute. Within a century — 
in the reign of Hamouda Pasha — the Kaid had a dis- 
honest baker of the city thrown into his own oven ; and 
when the Bey sent to remonstrate with him, the Kaid 
simply replied that he had shown a good example. 
The Kaid wished me good night, the Mudabbir did the 
same. The shaoushes, who never left me night or day, 
slept in the outer room. Delightful soft mattresses were 
spread for me on the floor, and I fell asleep and dreamt 
that I was the Scherif with a green turban who dis- 
covered the cofFee plant on the mountains of Yemen, in 
the year of the Flight 700. 

I had not slept for many hours when I awoke, 
harassed by a single fanatical mosquito. The lights 
were out, and Perruquier was snoring near the door. I 
will not attempt to describe the variety and ingenuity 
of the schemes I formed for catching this mosquito. 

Q 2 

228 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xix. 

Sometimes it seemed that he was within my grasp, and 
I arose with a light heart to squeeze him against the 
wall, but he always eluded me. Sometimes I simulated 
sleep and listened to his guarded hum while he watched 
me. Sometimes I struck my face a violent blow, will- 
ing to sacrifice everything to despatch the mosquito, 
but to no purpose. Eventually the mosquito defeated 
me, and I buried my head under the soft quilt. 

I will cite for the reader's benefit a recipe copied 
from one of the most worthy and popular English 
papers. The writer of it had suffered grievously from 
mosquito bites, and had hit upon the following remedy : 
Oil of pennyroyal, 2 dr. ; oil of cedar, 2 dr. ; glacial 
acetic acid, ^ dr. ; pure carbolic acid, 1 dr. ; camphor, 
3 dr. ; castor oil, 3 oz. He thinks this should be effec- 
tual. I should think so too. It ought to kill an 
elephant. The reader had better suspend his purchase 
of this preparation till I have completed certain che- 
mical studies upon this subject. One of the chief in- 
gredients I intend using is nitro-glycerine, and the 
preparation is to be called the Annihilator. 

On the second day I was awakened early by the 
punctual Perruquier, and found that the Kaid's servants 
had already prepared breakfast for me. It was an ex- 
cellent Eastern meal, ending with a dish of assida, a 
kind of flour porridge eaten with honey, usually offered 
to parting guests. Whether this was a delicate hint on 


the part of the Raid's cook, suggested by the ravages 
made upon the supper, I don't know, but I had no 
intention of leaving for at least a day or two. After 
breakfast the attentive and hospitable Kaid, with his 
officers, called : and after a visit of ceremony, which I 
had previously instructed Perruquier to frame some 
delicate excuse for cutting short, we all went downstairs 
into the street together. The Kaid led me to his own 
house : we smoked a cigarette together, then we issued 
from his door. He accompanied me for a few yards, as 
far as an archway crossing the street, and then at my 
request left me with the soldiers and attendants. 

There were two or three members of the Raid's 
household, in turbans and long robes, white stockings 
and yellow shoes ; my handsomely dressed shaoushes 
from Susa, Perruquier, and several soldiers. Surrounded 
by this bodyguard, I made an imposing progress through 
the city. They watched me jealously, clearing a path 
and thrusting aside individuals disposed to be too for- 
ward or curious. They seemed to feel much more 
anxious than I did, and appeared to contemplate the 
possibility of my attracting stones or a knife. Probably 
the man who might succeed in reaching the Infidel with 
either would be entitled to the thanks of his spiritual 
advisers and deserve well of his city. 

The people were dressed much as in Tunis, but not 
so richly or tastefully. They wore turbans and aftans. 

230 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xix. 

sometimes the burnous, and more frequently the djubba, 
as in ,Sfax. They were mightily curious, and some of 
them rather insolent and angry. What in the name of 
Grod does he want here? they would ask, starting up from 
their occupations to crowd round the soldiers, who care- 
fully kept them at a distance. We passed on our left 
a small white mosque, that of the Bey, with a square 
tower. On each side of the tower, at one third of the 
height from the top, ran an inscription in brick stand- 
ing in bold relief. It was in quaint square old type, 
and probably either conveyed the title of the mosque, or 
else the Confession of Faith — There is but the one God. 
I was sorry to be too ignorant to read it, and quite 
ashamed of Perruquier, who is half a native. He said he 
couldn't read those particular characters, but when I 
questioned him searchingly afterwards, he confessed that 
he could not read any Arabic characters at all. So I 
cannot help regarding Perruquier as a fraud. 

In a wide space in the street near the entrance to 
the bazaars was a sort of market place, where there were 
provision shops, and money changers, from whom we 
got some small money. There were grocers' shops, with 
esparto baskets full of beans, seeds, and roots ; copper- 
smiths who left their red copper vessels and hammers 
to look at the stranger. This street was tolerably broad 
for a Moorish city. We passed butchers' shops, black- 
smiths', and others, having a little arcade of pillars 

CH4P. xrx. THE TUNIS GATE. 131 

running in front of them. At length we came to the 
Bab el Tunes, or Tunis Gate. The curiosity was general : 
a throng of idlers accompanied us, kept at bay by the 
faithful bodyguard. 

The Gate is a tower, having a Moorish horseshoe 
archway of alternate black and white marble, with a red 
keystone : its sides are faced with beautiful old marble 
pillars. A running scroll of ornament and inscription 
frames the arch, and the angles above it contain lovely 
arabesque designs. Above the first arch is a second, 
moulded in the wall, and overhead is the crenellated 
parapet of the wall. The whole gate forms, as almost 
every one of the city gates forms, a fine example of 
the best Mauresque design. In front of the gate were the 
customary loungers of every Oriental city, and by the 
wayside sat three blind beggars. This was the moment, 
I said to Perruquier, for doing the handsome thing : and 
Perruquier with munificence placed some copper in the 
hand of each beggar. 

Beyond the outer doorway of the tower, which has 
a plain horseshoe arch in red and white stone, runs a 
tolerably broad passage, taking a turn to the left, and 
lined with shops of gunsmiths or armourers, and old iron 
and implement stores. Then comes another arch with 
beautiful inscribed lintels of white marble, and we 
emerge into an outer market place under the walls, 
where country produce is sold and fairs are held. Here 

234 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xix. 

was an animated scene : there were carpet sellers with 
their goods thrown over their shoulders, calling out for 
buyers : sellers of fodder heaped up on the ground, 
baskets of red chiles, esparto panniers of vegetables, 
pottery from Nablus : white-robed Arabs from the 
country, and Bedouins with goats for sale. 

One Bedouin had a young horse : three hundred and 
fifty piastres he wanted for it. It was a thin and weedy- 
looking beast, but Perruquier fancied it. If Monsieur 
would lend me the three hundred and fifty piastres, he 
said, I would feed the horse up and gain a hundred and 
fifty piastres on the purchase. Young and inexperienced 
in the world's wiles as I was, it still occurred to me that 
were I to advance Perruquier the money, the chances 
were that it might be a clear gain to him of five hun- 
dred piastres ; so I commenced running the horse down. 
I assured him that the animal was feeble, misshapen, 
and very likely to become subject to stringhalt and the 
strangles. This alarmed Perruquier, and he concluded 
not to make a bid, much to the dissatisfaction of the 
crowd, who thought it just like Christians to look at a 
horse and decline to buy it. What, then, do they want 
here, the unbelievers ? was the talk of the outer market. 

We strolled from spot to spot, the faithful army, 
formed in a hollow square, always on the watch. Eound 
the outer market place were small houses and one or 
two foudouks. We went out and watched a simple but 


efficient apparatus for making esparto ropes. They 
are used by the Barbary seamen, and also by the boat- 
men of Italy and Sicily, being very good substitutes 
for hempen ropes. They are worth ten pounds a ton. 
Those which are exported from Susa are excellent, those 
of Tripoli not so good or carefully made. We saw mats, 
too, made of esparto : some stout and rough like hemp 
or cocoanut mats, others thin, delicate, and in pretty 
patterns. Among the Bedouins we saw the huge flap- 
ping straw hat of the Djerid and Wadai, decorated with 
ostrich feathers. It takes from the Arab dress much of 
its grace and dignity. 

"SVe passed from one group to another, examining 
and making notes of everything, and watching with 
amusement the various shades of expression on the 
faces. The bodyguard were very unceremonious — men 
and boys were thrust on one side as if their gaping or 
scowling were injurious to me. We returned past the 
gunsmiths and through the gates, turning to the left, 
and passing along the streets to the old Kasbah. Men 
and boys would stop and turn to join the procession. 
The guards seized one by the arm. Pass on, they said : 
thou hast seen his face, it is enough for thee. 

The Kasbah, now called the Keshlah, is a rectangular 
fort, having a large open coiu± and low barracks round 
it. We went in without restraint among the soldiers. 
At the gate was the Kaid's son, who saluted me 

234 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. cha.p. xix. 

with the courtesy of his family. All round the quad- 
rangle were groups of soldiers, some idling about, 
others under arms and doing musketry drill. Many 
were Arabs from their tribes in their own picturesque 
attire. An officer approached in uniform with the star 
of the Nischan Iftikhar on his breast : he received me 
civilly and begged me to look round. My guards ex- 
plained who I was, and how kindly the First Minister 
had recommended me. The Kaimakam led me to the 
military gate of the Keshlah, which was bound and 
faced with iron, and the soldiers threw it open. 

Beyond it lay the open plain, and towards the suburb 
Sayiha Jebliyeh, among the trees of the late Governor's 
garden, stood a white mosque and the College of 
Kairwan. To the right, a mile away from this, lay the 
little village of Dar al Mana — House of the Obstacle or 
Prohibition — beyond which point Jews are forbidden 
to approach the city. I asked the Kaimakam if I might 
note down all I saw. Certainly, he said. He called a 
soldier to him from the detachment at drill. You did 
not present arms as the stranger entered, he said. See 
that you do it as he goes out. As we passed, the soldiers 
stood to their arms, and their guns went up with a rattle. 
Round a cistern in the quadrangle lay skins and kegs for 
water. The garrison were being replaced by troops 
from the Bardo, who had just arrived. The officer 
wished me a civil farewell, accompanying me into the 


street, and we moved on in the direction of the Great 

All round, within the city walls, runs an empty 
street, with houses here and there demolished, to make 
waste places, no doubt for the purpose of giving free 
circulation round the fortifications. Where they were 
to any extent ruinous, the walls were being repaired 
and plastered. They were constructed of small brown 
bricks, measuring in section three inches and a half 
by two inches — there being no stone or quarries in the 
neighbourhood. Through the bricks ran, in places, 
lines of tile or white bricks, apparently for no other 
purpose than ornament. 

At times in our progress a man or a boy would allow 
himself to use the offensive word Kafir ! Unbeliever ! 
in a mocking voice, or boldly call out Kalh\ Dog! 
Then two or three soldiers would go for him, and cuff 
or beat him till he howled. Sometimes they would 
drive him into a corner and stone him. I remonstrated 
with them now and then, representing that the punish- 
ment was in excess of the offence. Let him leave us to 
deal with them, they said to Perruquier, if he wants to 
be safe. 



The Great Mosque — Sketches — The Khasinah — Decaying City — Its 
Former Size^The Bazaars — Slippers— Marabouts — The Mosques — 
Tombs of the Saints— Curiosity — An Aspiration — The Suburbs — 
Djemma '1 Zituna — Yahudi — Postern Gate. 

We saw over the low roofs the great tower of the 
mosque, and in a few more paces came upon the famous 

In the north-eastern angle of the city, in a wing of 
the city, in fact — which without it would not be far 
from the form of a hexagon — stands the great quad- 
rangle of the mosque. 

It is in a clear space of ground, withdrawn from 
the confusion of the narrow streets, and distant from 
the city walls round it perhaps fifty or a hundred yards. 
On the north-west side nothing stands between the 
mosque and the walls. On the north-east side stands a 
collection of little houses or huts : on a portion of the 
south-east side are a few small houses and washhouses. 
The south-west side has a tolerably broad lane, with 
houses on the opposite side. The mosque enclosure is 
a high level wall, flanked by massive buttresses with 


sloping tops. The northern and southern walls are each 
adorned by two handsome domed tower gateways, and 
two plainer entrances, also in towers, rising above the 
level of the wall. At the eastern end of the quadrangle 
rises from a hexagon the dome of the Mihrdb : from the 
west wall rises the solid and imposing Minar. Every- 
thing, save the lower portion of the tower, was snowy 
white, standing out against the blue cloudless sky. 
This was the mosque of Kairwan — the shrine and tomb 
of its founder, Okhbah ibn Aghlab, and the spot chosen 
from its sanctity as the last resting place of the Kings 
of Tunis. 

I began by making a sketch of the north-west eleva- 
tion, and the Minar rising about midway along the wall. 
This massive erection, measuring ten yards on each side 
of the base, runs up with a slight taper to a height of 
about sixty feet, in brownish brick. Eound a gallery 
here runs a line of round-headed crenellations. From 
this platform rises, perhaps twenty feet, a smaller tower, 
with arched panels, and having a porch from which 
the mueddins issue on to the gallery. Eound the 
parapet of this upper tower were attached a number of 
black objects, which proved to be lanterns. The birth- 
day of the Prophet, Leylet al Moolid, was approach- 
ing, and the devout Moors of Kairwan were making 
ready for it. There rose from the second platform a 
little tower of belfry form, with an arch open to each 

238 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xx. 

of the four winds, and through which the sky appeared. 
A cornice of brickwork supported the plain fluted dome, 
and from its centre rose a tapering pinnacle, with the 
Crescent of Islam upon its summit. 

As I was sketching, some people approached. Kafir ! 
one cried, whereupon he was stoned by the guards. 
Some children passing stopped to look at me. Are you 
not ashamed, cried the Hambas, to stare at the guest 
of the Kaid ? The bodyguard was reinforced by two 
soldiers, and kept the lane clear, turning people back, 
while I moved on and sketched the south-west face of 
the mosque. 

The domed gateways had delicate marble columns, 
with acanthus capitals, let into them. Of the four 
entrances on this side, only that by the Great Porch was 
habitually open. There was a small door for the 
mueddins in the blank wall. Down the opposite side of 
the lane ran houses, the doors of which were studded in 
designs with nails, and having in front of them small 
sloping platforms of tesselated brick. 

I sketched the south-east end of the mosque. It was 
a high and solid wall, strengthened by buttresses. It 
had been recently restored, plastered, and whitewashed. 
From the centre rose the fluted dome of Okhbah's sacred 
Mihrab. In the centre panel of the hexagon supporting 
it, was a rose window with coloured glass. To the left of 
the Mihrab, and projecting thirty feet from the wall, 


were the porch and entrance of tlie Bashi Mufti, the 
high priest of the district. The northern side of the 
mosque had a general resemblance to that of the 

Having gained a general idea of the exterior, and 
after a leisurely scrutiny of the interior through the 
wide open doors, we moved on towards the bazaars. At 
the south-eastern angle of the mosque there stood 
facing it an ancient mosque. El Khasinah or the store, 
with a colonnaded court. It was used as a lime store 
then, and half a dozen perspiring negroes were carrying 
sacks of lime and whitewashing themselves with the 
dust. Shall we go in ? I asked the soldiers. No, they 
said ; it was once a mosque. 

We proceeded through the mean and shabby 
quarter which lies between the mosque and the ba- 
zaars, the Arbat Medineh, or Quarter of the ]Mosque» 
At almost every comer and angle of the walls were 
columns with beautiful heads, of grey granite, and of 
marble, grey, red, and white. The number of columns 
in Kairwan was simply surprising : every interior we 
looked into, every com mill or magazine, seemed to have 
rare old pillars carrying its vaulted roof. The houses 
generally were poor, and many of them decaying. 
Kairwan, like Cordova, is still too large for its shrunken 

The legend is that, eleven hundred years ago, the 

240 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xx. 

city contained thirty quarters, each as large as the pre- 
sent city. One might travel for a whole day without 
reaching the farther side of it. So vast was it, that 
children used to carry a small label of wood or silver, 
given them by their parents, with the name of their 
quarter engraved upon it, that they might not go astray. 
Another legend says the city was a square, measuring 
eighteen miles in every direction. (!) 

We passed Dar el Kaid, the house of , the late Grover- 
nor, a large building, with a gallery across its front, and a 
tiled roof supported on grey marble pillars. We came 
to the bazaars, and strolled slowly from one to another. 
They were vaulted in brickwork, and were cool and 
dark. We saw the Soukh el Sarajim, whence come the 
slippers of canary-coloured morocco leather for which 
the city has been famous for centuries, and which it 
taught Cordova the art of working. The dye of the 
Kairwan workers is said to be unrivalled : but I think 
that nowadays they get their colours from Tunis, where 
I saw slippers made fully as good in colour and better 
in shape. I have heard on good authority that they 
import the leather from France and Italy. 

We went to the woollen bazaar, where they sell the , 
white and grey barracan — the prevailing outer garment 
of Barbary. In the calm, quiet alleys of the cotton 
and silk bazaars were well-dressed respectable citizens. 
Unlike those of Tunis, the costumes of Kairwan were of a 


predominating white colour, very becoming to dark 
countenances. Many a striking group I saw in the 
quiet vaulted passages : some of the faces were placid 
and indifferent, others curious and surprised. We 
saw but few women : they are scarcer in the streets of 
Kairwan than in any of the Oriental cities. 

Every now and then appeared a marabout or saint, 
only half clad perhaps, and carrying a drum to make a 
fool of himself with. These were the most likely folks 
to attempt to make my visit unpopular, guided as 
these creatures are neither by religion nor by reason. 
Hungry predatory fanatics, or else drivelling idiots, they 
commit the grossest follies and excesses imder the plea 
of sanctity or inspiration, and are tolerated to an in- 
conceivable extent by the best classes of Moslems. 
This is one of the weakest features in the powerful and 
impressive Faith of Islam. 

We came to the Djemma '1 Barota, in the grocers' 
bazaar. There are in Kairwan six mosques of a con- 
siderable size : and almost countless smaller places of 
worship and saints' or dervishes' tombs : in some 
streets one might pass a dozen within fifty yards. The 
chief mosque is, of course, Sidina Okhbah — Djemma '1 
Kebir — the Great Mosque. Then comes Djemma '1 
Zituna, the Mosque of the Olive Tree, outside the city 
wall, facing the Bab el Djedid, or New Gate. Next is 
the Djemma '1 Telatha Biban, or the Three Gates. Then 


242 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xx. 

Djemma '1 Bey, the only Hanefite mosque in Kairwan, 
and which stands in the Soukh. Facing it, and behind 
the stuff bazaar, is Djemma '1 Malek. Lastly, Sidi Bou 
Aissa, where scorpion, glass, and cactus eating take place 
on holy days. 

In the streets leading to the Great Mosque are 
marabouts' and saints' tombs — scarcely distinguishable 
as such — to a surprising extent. Grreat numbers of 
holy and devout people came to lay their bones in the 
religious capital of the Moors, and many were canonised. 
Besides, in a city devoted so long to religion, it is 
natural that pious and learned men should collect, that 
over a space of a dozen centuries their places of sepulture 
should multiply enormously, and that tombs of the 
faithful should cluster near them. There exist still, 
though in a ruinous state, the tombs of the Aghlabites, 
the conquerors of Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, and Crete ; 
they are among the most venerated monuments of Kair- 
wan. The tomb of Schanoun, the great Kairwan theolo- 
gian, who died in the year a.d, 862, is also to be seen. 

We passed from street to street, continuing the 
object of much curiosity and some remark. A quiet, 
respectable woman, closely veiled, as she went by said 
something in a gentle voice. There is a good-natured 
wish at last, I said, turning to Perruquier. Do you 
know what she said ? he asked. She prayed that the 
Great God might not inscribe your name in His book. 


There are weavers, in the quiet bye streets, who 
make haiks and barracans of undyed wool : and near 
them are charcoal burners and sellers of firewood. We 
went out by the Bab el Djedid, and rambled among the 
suburbs, which are poor and small, and of which the 
gardens seem to produce nothing but prickly pear. 

There are two chief suburbs, Sayiha Jeblieh to the 
north, and Sayiha Kubliyeh to the south. These are 
simply mean and scattered collections of small mud 
houses, and the estimate of inhabitants attributed to 
them, five thousand, must be twofold what they contain. 
The outer cities, or suburban annexes, Kaccadah, 
Abassiyeh, and Mansourah, have disappeared. 

We went to the marabout of Sidi Abou el Awib, 
which has a melon-shaped dome. Here lies El Awib, 
the companion and bosom friend of Mohammed, with 
three hairs of the Prophet's beard placed upon his heart. 
In Tunis I was told he was the Prophet's barber, and 
that he was buried in the Grreat Mosque. Then to the 
Mosque of Sidi Amir Abada. At the sides of its ruinous 
plaster archway are two very old columns indeed. This 
marabout or mosque has six domes. The streets at this 
south-west angle of the town are especially dirty and 
decaying. In the city walls the plaster has half fallen 
from the small flat bricks. This is the Arbat Kharfan, 
or Quarter of the Aged, where the aged of Kairwan, I 
was told, used to live. There are three other quarters, 

B 2 

244 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xx. 

Arbat el Mar, or Bazaar Quarter : Arbat el Medineh, or 
Quarter of the Mosque : and Arbat el Bey, the Quarter 
near the Mosque of the Olive Tree. 

We went to the Mosque of the Olive Tree. It has 
on each face of its square Minar an inscription as 
follows : — 

each face, if I am not mistaken, the same, executed in 
characters of raised brick, and forming a rather remark- 
able band round the tower. I have already mentioned 
the similar decoration of Djemma 1 Bey. Col. Playfair, 
a very high authority, who saw them shortly afterwards, 
tells me the above are in no sense intelligible charac- 
ters. I am satisfied he suspects me of haying copied 
them incorrectly. The city wall resembles at the same 
time those of Damascus and of the Kremlin. The 
crenellations are narrow, and rise perhaps three feet 
above the parapet : the bricks are as often red as 

What did that pretty little boy say just now ? I 
asked Perruquier. He said, May you be seized with 
some irritable disease ! Roumi ! Yahudi ! hissed some 
others. Foreigner ! Jew ! One boy who took a plea- 
sure in thus mocking us is not likely to take a pleasure 
in it when the next Eoumi comes to Kairwan, for one 
of the soldiers took him by the ears and throat, lifted 


him up, and flung him on the ground. Yahudi is a 
term of special contempt. The dislike of the Mussul- 
man for the Jew is very curious — more strong than 
his dislike for the Christian. The Christian has power, 
which the Mohammedan recognises, and perhaps 
admires : but the Jew seems to have no qualities that 
command his respect. In many respects similar — both 
Oriental races, inhabiting the same regions, and thrown 
much together — the Mohammedan seems to have no 
affinity or sympathy with the Jew. Nowhere is this 
more noticeable than in the old capital of the Jews. 

We went through a khaukhat, one of the postern 
doors through the walls. Low winding passages, like 
the entrance to a tomb, five feet in height, they are 
barely of width to admit a man. Each angle is faced 
with a marble pillar, worn smooth by passers through. 
Tlie khaukhat is never closed or guarded by day or 
night, imless in times of disturbance : and when next 
we go to Kairwan in disguise, we will go in the evening 
and pass in quietly by one of the khaukh. There are 
three of them in all — one to the right, on entering, of 
the Bab el Tunes : one called the khaukhat of the 
Kharfan Quarter, near the southern angle of the city : 
and a third to the right of the Bab el Djuluddin. 




Moorish Calendar — Chronicles of the City -Okhbah — Conquest of 
Spain — Ibn Aghlab — The City's Decline. 

An Arabic Calendar, published in this Eegency, gives 
the following as among the facts in their annals con- 
sidered most noteworthy by the Moors : — 

Memoi'oble circumstances anteinor to the Hejra. 


Creation of Adam 6212 

The Flood 3974 

First King of Egypt 3548 

Birth of Abraham 2580 

Conquest of Egypt by the Persians 1108 

Conquest of Egypt by Alexander the Great . . . 91G 

„ „ the Romans 612 

Birth of Christ 582 

Discovery of Glass . . . . . . . . 484 

Construction of Santa Sofia, at Constantinople . . . 334 

Year of the War of the Elephant, being the year in which 
the Prophet was bom 

Memorable facts subsequent to the Hejra. 

Ilejra of the Prophet, which corresponds to July 12, a.d. 622 
Death of the Propliet . 
Khalifat of Abou Bekr 

„ Omar 

Foundation of Bussora 
Capture of Damascus under Omar 
„ Egypt „ 





Khalifat of Osman . . 

Conquest of Africa .... 

First Siege of Constantinople 

Building of first Mosque in Constantinople 

Commencement of the Walls of Kairwan 

First Mussulman Coinage . 

Capture of Carthage .... 

Conquest of Andalusia 

Completion of the Walls of Kairwan . 

Extinction of the Companions of the Prophet in Africa 

Dynasty of Molahabites in Africa 

„ Aghlabites „ „ . 

„ Fatimites j> »> • 

„ Obeidites „ ,, . 

Foundation of the Russian Empire 

Dynasty of the Sanhagites . 

Foundation of City of Algiers 

Dynasty of Saljukites .... 

Death of Ibu Raschik of Kairwan, author of 

Dynasty of the Ajubites 

Conquest of Syria by Saladin 

Dynasty of Ilafsites .... 

Commencement of Ottoman Dynasty . 

Taking of Constantinople 

Siege of Vienna by Suliman I. 

Death of the last of the Abassides 

Death of Dragut Pasha at Malta 

Succession of Hussein Ben Ali — founder 
dynasty — to the throne of Tunis . 

the work 


of the reigning 

These are the Chronicles of Kairwan. 
In the year of the Hejra 27, Abdallah, grandson of 
Abou Sarh, with twenty thousand Companions of the 

248 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xxi. 

Prophet, invaded Africa, devastating its northern 
provinces as far as Numidia : and eventually accepting 
from the inhabitants three hundred talents of gold as 
the price of his withdrawal. 

After seven years the Saracens returned and estab- 
lishe(i themselves in those regions of Barbary : in tlie 
year 45, or a.d. 667, the Emir briefly known as Okhbah 
ben Nafi ben Abdallah ben Kais el Fahhri was ap- 
pointed by the Khalif Othman governor of the newly 
acquired provinces. 

Okhbah chose this spot as the site of his capital — 
being central for warlike operations, and secure from 
maritime attacks ; and here he laid the foundations of 
a magnificent city. In the year 677 Okhbah was re- 
called, and his envious successor, after attacking 
Western Barbary, returned to destroy and raze Kairwan. 

In 684 Okhbah returned to power, and swept the 
country as far as the Grreat Ocean, into which he 
plunged with his horse, declaring that the sea alone 
could stop his career. Following his troops, whom he 
had sent back to Kairwan, he was slain in an ambush, 
with three hundred Companions of the Prophet, by 
Kassila, king of the Berbers. Kassila then occupied 
Kairwan, and established his government and laws. 
These aboriginals, Touaregs and others, who still exist 
in the Atlas and mountainous districts of Barbary, are re- 
garded by the Arabs as direct descendants of Ham by 
Canaan. Long preceding the Saracen invaders in this 


country, they have witnessed its successive changes 
without losing their individuality by intermarriage or 
their independence by war. 

In 689 the Khalif Abd el Maiek proclaimed a holy 
war: Zohair ben Kais entered Africa, met Kassila at 
Oss in the neighbourhood of Kairwan, and in a mur- 
derous battle the Berber king was killed. Zohair soon 
returned to Damascus. I went, he said to the Khalif, 
to fight in the holy war, and I fear the seductions of 
the pleasures of the world. Intercepted by the Byzan- 
tine fleet on his way to retirement in Egypt, Zohair 
was slain by the Infidels. May God shed on him the 
treasures of His mercy : adds Ebn Khaldoun, the 
Arabic chi-onicler, who tells the story. 

Zohair's successor in Barbary was Hassan ben Nou- 
man, who, after setting out from Kairwan to assault 
and destroy Carthage, was overthrown by the Berber 
queen Kahina, and driven into Cyrene. Hassan, 
reinforced, marched against Kahina. What do the 
Arabians want ? said the queen to her army. To 
occupy cities, and take, the gold and silver they contain, 
whilst we want but fields and pastures : I see no means 
of stopping them but to so ravage the country that 
they will have no motive for seizing it. 

This policy was carried out without hesitation. 
Barbary, which had l)een a succession of towns and 
villages from Tangier to Tripoli, was laid waste. 
The unlucky inhabitants, it is not to be wondered at. 


threw themselves, at the first opportunity, into the 
arms of the Saracens. In a great battle the heroic 
Kahina was killed, the Berber power was crippled, 
the tribes submitted to the kharadj or capitation tax, 
and agi-eed to furnish a contingent of twelve thousand 

In 708 Musa ibn Noseir was appointed, by El 
Mansour — the Sword of God — governor of the Mugh- 
reb. This warlike Emir, setting out from the capital, 
reduced Numidia, Mauritania, and the country of the 
restless Berbers. 

Then comes the greatest chapter in the book of his- 
tory of the Moors, the feat of the natives of Kairwan, 
with which this city's history is wrapped up, and with- 
out which its sketch would be incomplete. Julian, the 
Gothic chief, governor of Barbary, and since known as 
the Apostate, invited the Arabian Emir to invade Spain, 
that fertile country where the Gothic kings had reigned 
and prospered for two centuries and a half. Among 
the warriors of Kairwan was a gaunt, swarthy, one-eyed 
veteran, scarred with wounds, and revelling in the love 
of war. Tarik departed on a voyage of discovery, and 
his report so inflamed Musa's enthusiasm, that he wrote 
from Kairwan to the Khalif in these words : A new land 
spreads itself out and invites our conquest : it equals 
Syria in its fertility and climate, Yemen in its temper- 
ature, India in its fruits and flowers, and Cathay in its 


precious minerals. What is to prevent this glorious 
land from becoming the inheritance of the Faithful ? 
God is great, cried the Khalif on reading this : and 
Mohammed is his Prophet. Then he authorised Musa 
to undertake the conquest. 

One dark night, as Irving so well relates, Tarik 
conveyed his soldiers from Tangier to Tarifa, where he 
burned his ships. How shall we escape, cried his fol- 
lowers, if fortune should be against us ? There is no 
escape for the coward, replied the one-eyed Emir : and 
the brave man thinks of none. But how shall we return 
to our homes? Your homes, said Tarik, are before 
you. Tarik assaulted and took the rock of Gribraltar. 
Signior, wrote its Gothic defender to Koderick : 
the legions of Africa are upon us, but whether they 
come from heaven or earth I know not. They seem 
to have fallen from the clouds, for they have no ships. 

Then followed the battle of the Guadalete, one 
of the most bloody and decisive on record. Tarik 
inspired his troops by the account of a revelation of 
Mohammed. Fear not, Tarik, the Prophet had said: 
I will be with thee on the morrow. The field was 
strewn with the flower of Gothic chivalry, Roderick 
disappeared, the Gothic power was extinguished, and 
Spain lay open to the Moors of Kairwan. 

The turbaned horsemen, with their flashing scime- 
tars, overran the peninsula, reducing fortresses and 

252 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xxi. 

annexing vast provinces. The honest, fearless, and 
noble Tarik forbade wanton plunder and cruelty. 
Soldiers of Mohammed, he said, spare the vanquished : 
spoil not the poor and unresisting. All this was bitter 
news to the Emir of Kairwan — where were his African 
successes in the blaze of Tarik's victories? So he 
wrote to Al Mansour, without naming Tarik : The 
battles have been terrible as the day of Judgment, but 
])y the aid of Allah we have gained the victory. 

Leaving his son Abd el Aziz to govern Kairwan, he 
hastened to share in the glory of the conquest of the 
land of the Groths. Tarik meantime had reached Gra- 
nada and its Vega, destined to be for ages the earthly 
Paradise of the Moors. Cordova, the ancient Kurtuba 
of the Phoenicians — the birthplace of that most wonder- 
ful of all philosophers, Seneca — had fallen : Toledo 
had been betrayed by the Jews, Tarik had subdued the 
mountains of the Sun and Air : and Seville was the 
only great city of the South which remained for Musa 
to capture. 

What a devil of a man, said the citizens, when 
they saw Musa's grey beard, to undertake such a siege 
when on the verge of the grave ! Surely the city can 
hold out longer than the life of this old man ? Abd el 
Aziz arrived with a reinforcement from Kairwan, and 
Seville fell. The spoil of the city was rich and vast. 

Musa then followed Tarik to Toledo, and a bitter 


quarrel ensued. Musa taunted Tarik with his reckless- 
ness and wilfulness, and deprived him of his command. 
I have done the best I could to serve God and the 
Khalif, said the blunt Tarik, whose one eye burned like 
fire : my conscience acquits me, and my sovereign will 
do me justice. 

The Moorish armies under Musa and Tarik, whom 
the Khalif reinstated, then subdued the districts of the 
Ebro, the Pyrenees, and captured the cities of Saragossa, 
Barcelona, and Narbonne. Musa's self-glorification was 
unspeakable ; he became renowned throughout Islam as 
the great Conqueror of the West. His quarrels with 
Tarik continuing, the Khalif summoned both of them to 
Damascus. The single minded Tarik set out at once : 
Musa first established his three sons as governors of 
Cordova, Tangier, and Kairwan, and departed to 
Damascus with a vast collection of slaves, retainers, and 

Tarik became the idol of the Damascenes, and Musa 
for his jealousy and selfishness, in spite of his great 
qualities, fell into disgrace. He was even scourged, and 
thrown into prison. He received one day the news of 
the simultaneous murder of his three sons, and died 
broken-hearted. Abd el Aziz had given proofs of a 
large and generous mind : he had recognised the true 
means of making secure the conquests of Islam, 
namely the establishment of just institutions and of 

254 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xxi. 

the pursuits of peace. On these solid principles the 
Moorish Empire in Spain was founded ; it endured for 
seven hundred and seventy-eight years, and gathered 
strength, wealth, and glory beyond measure. 

Abd el Kahman, Khalif of Cordova, was seized with 
a mighty ambition to conquer Graul. Under renowned 
chiefs the army of the Crescent entered France, and 
marched with fearful rapidity upon Bordeaux. Sacking 
that city, it proceeded, after a bloody encounter on the 
Dordogne river, into Touraine : and in the year 7 ! 3 of 
Our Lord, or little more than thirty years after Tarik 
had set forth from Kairwan, the Standard of the Pro- 
phet floated from the ramparts of Tours. 

Between Tours and Poictiers, the Frank king 
Charles Martel met the Saracens, and in a battle — 
one of the most solemn and prodigious in history, last- 
ing seven whole days — the tide of Moslem invasion 
was broken. Abd el Eahman more prudently turned 
his mind to thoughts of peace, and the magnificence of 
Cordova became his monument. 

In the year of Eedemption 756, the city had 
attained such a size, wealth, and splendour that, as 
Richard Ford's delightful book says, the description of 
it reads like an Aladdin's tale. Its glory, accumulated 
under seventeen successive Sultans, culminated in the 
eleventh century. It contained three hundred mosques, 
nine hundred baths, and six hundred caravanserais. 


Among its million of inhabitants were philosophers, 
poets, physicians, chemists, astronomers, mathema- 
ticians, engineers, architects : this patient, ingenious 
race had acquired a refinement and culture scarcely 
ever surpassed. At this time the provinces of Cordova, 
Catalonia, and Murcia were one vast garden. Granada 
had half a million of inhabitants, and its Red Palace 
was one of the marvels of the age. 

Then came civil wars. Ibn Abdallah, son of a lamp- 
lighter of the Mosque of Kairwan, persuading the 
Moors to regard him as a saint, incited the new faction 
of Almohades against the governing sect of the Almora- 
vides. The Spanish monarchs were not slow to profit 
by this : they organised a crusade against the ci\dlisers 
of western Europe. 

The Grand Soldan, the head of Islam, was vexed 
at these constant assaults upon the flower of the Faith- 
ful, and wrote to remonstrate with the Catholic mon- 
arch. He uttered, says an old Spanish chronicler, 
opinions savouring of damnable heresy : for he observed 
that although the Moors were of a diflFerent sect, they 
ought not to be nialtreated without just cause. 

In the year 1235 St. Ferdinand captured the im- 
perial city of Cordova, and inflicted the first heavy 
blow on the Moorish power in Europe. 

Twelve years later Seville fell, having been for 
nearly five centuries and a half in the hands of the 


Moors : and in the following century the capture of 
Granada completed the downfall of one of the most 
religious, enlightened, ingenious, chivalrous, and indus- 
trious races that ever established themselves in Europe. 

Much was due to the example of the parent city 
Kairwan, the type on which Cordova was founded, and 
the source from whence she derived much of her learn- 
ing and culture. What Cordova became, Kairwan had 
been : and, in the refinement and intelligence of the 
existing inhabitants of this country, we can recognise 
traces of that high but almost vanished civilisation. 
Kairwan must have been a 'wonderful city: Cordova 
and Grranada are noble in their ruins. 

The last days of the Moors in Spain are inexpressibly 
sad. Distracted by civil wars, torn from their famous 
strongholds, the cities they had created, and the rich 
lands so dear to them, they made a last stand in the 
city of Granada. The iron ring of Christian armies 
closed in upon them : the Moors fought as they had 
always fought, but now it was for their own existence, 
for the scenes of their infancy, their glories, and their 
homes — and it was in vain. , 

Broken-hearted, the king, the viziers, and the nobles 
exclaimed, Allah Akhbar ! God is great : the will of 
God be done ! and they went to the Spanish monarchs 
and resigned their last hold on Spain. Exiled, perse- 
cuted, tortured, they drifted sadly over into Africa. 


The thread of the chronicle recommences with 
Musa's successor. The Berbers having, some years 
after Musa's death, defeated the Khalif 's army in the 
Mughreb, Kolthoum ben Ayad was sent to the seat of 
government in Kairwan, where he collected his army. 
He was slain in battle in the West, his Syrians fled 
into Spain, and the Africans and Egyptians took refuge 
in Kairwan. 

The Berbers, soon after this, were beaten at Gabes, 
but rallying again, three hundred thousand strong, they 
attacked Handhalah, Emir of Kairwan, under the walls 
of this city. When the citizens and warriors saw the 
vast army of the Khouaridj, or Touaregs, they fell to 
praying. Encouraged, they fell upon the Africans at 
the dawn of day, and, routing them with awful carnage, 
slew, it is said, no less than a hundred and ninety 

In 748 Handhalah was supplanted by Abd el Eah- 
man, and retired into Syria. The new Emir made a 
successful raid against the Berbers of Tlempen, and in 
the year 757 he despatched expeditions against Sicily 
and Sardinia. Picking a quarrel with his sovereign 
El Mansour, Abd el Rahman declared himself inde- 

Assembling the people in the Great Mosque here, 
he presented himself in sandals and a robe called khazz : 
and mounting the membar he praised God and the 


258 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xxi. 

Prophet, while he cursed the Khalif. He declared El 
Mansour's injustice and tyranny: and, flinging off his 
sandals, said it was thus he repudiated his suzerainty. 
Calling for the khilat, or black robe of investiture granted 
by the Abassides or Black Khalifs — the Ommiades were 
the White, and the Fatimites the Green Khalifs, so 
called from the colour of their own robes and those of 
the members of their court — Abd el Rahman had it 
burnt. He proclaimed these acts throughout the 
Mughreb. For two years only was his ambition grati- 
fied : he was assassinated by his two brothers. 

Elyas, one of them, and Habib, Abd el Eahman's 
son, succeeded him. Dividing the kingdom, Elyas 
chose the province of Kairwan, and sent in his submis- 
sion to El Mansour. Upon this, Habib marched 
against Kairwan, took it, and slew Elyas in single 
combat. Why, said Habib, should so many of our 
faithful subjects perish in our quarrel ? Let us fight 
alone. If I die, I shall rejoin my father: if I kill 
thee, I shall avenge him. 

These Emirs were mere Mohammedans, and knew 
no better. Their Most Christian Majesties nowadays, 
with the advantages of eleven centuries of civilisation, 
when they covet a neighbour's territory, enter it with 
God's name upon their lips, and, sending their soldiers 
to be slaughtered, withdraw their own sacred persons 
out of harm's way. 


Habib being defeated by the Berbers, the people of 
Kairwan offered the city and its sovereignty under the 
Khalif to Ibn Djamil the Berber, who refused it. He 
did not refuse, however, to ravage the city, sack the 
mosques and pollute them. He was eventually killed 
in the Aures Mountains by Habib, whom he had pur- 
sued thither. 

Kairwan, its provinces, and all Saracen Barbary in 
763 fell into the power of the Werfadjoumah and their 
chief Abd el Malek. When the garrison of the city 
issued to defend it, Arabs who were in the Berber army 
cried to their countrymen to join them. 

Only a thousand Moors of Kairwan, among the most 
renowned for their religion and uprightness, remained 
faithful to the Kadi, and died fighting at his side. 
Conducting their government with gross cruelty, the 
Werfadjoumah were driven out. 

El Mansour sent El Aghleb ibn Salem to restore 
peace in the Mughreb, but he was killed in battle and 
replaced by Omar ben Hafs. During his absence at 
Tobna, which he was fortifying, the indomitable 
Berbers seized Kairwan. Omar ben Hafs had recourse 
to his wealth, and, by distributing large bribes among 
the chief insm-gents, succeeded in demoralising their 

The next incident in the city's history was its siege 
for eight months by Abou Hatem, chief of the Ibadhieh, 


26o THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xxx. 

with a hundred and thirty thousand men. Omar, bent 
on victory or death, made a furious sortie and lost his 
life. The long siege had reduced the city's treasury to 
the last dirhem, the granaries to their last sack, and the 
inhabitants to the necessity of eating dogs and beasts of 
burden. The Africans destroyed the city walls, burned 
the gates, and retired to the Atlas. 

El Mansour sent Yezid ibn Hatem to restore order, 
with sixty thousand Arabian warriors, who defeated the 
Africans in the Country of Palms, giving them no quar- 
ter. Yezid proved himself an able and just administrator. 
He rebuilt the Great Mosque, established numerous 
bazaars, and assigned to each trade a distinct quarter : 
in fact, remodelled and half rebuilt the city. 

On his death, Eouh ibn Hatem, his brother, 
governor of Palestine, came to replace him, and, 
thanks to Yezid's policy, he had a tranquil administra- 
tion up to his death. When Yezid was sent to the 
Mughreb, and Kouh to govern the Sind, it was said to 
the Khalif, Surely there is no chance of these brothers 
being buried together. However, Kouh and Yezid 
sleep side by side in this city. 

After many bloody disputes, Horthomah ruled next 
in Kairwan, a mild and conciliatory Emir, who built, a 
year after his arrival, the great Castle of Monastir. He 
is said to have built the sea-wall of Tripoli. He re- 
ceived Haroun el Reschid's permission to retire to 


Irak : and his successor was driven by insurgents out 
of the province. 

Ibrahim ibn el Aghlab, who had established himself 
as independent ruler of Zab and Tobna, made his appear- 
ance, and recovered Kairwan from the insurgents. He 
wrote to the Khalif, offering, on condition of his appoint- 
ment as hereditary Emir of Kairwan, to forego the yearly 
subvention from Egypt of a hundred thousand dinars, 
and to contribute, instead, forty thousand dinars. El 
Eeschid accepted these conditions, and Ibrahim be- 
came the founder of the dynasty of the Aghlabites. 

Mohammed ibn Mokatil, mortified at his displace- 
ment by El Aghlab, endeavoured to recommend his 
own cause to the Khalif. Why, said the Commander 
of the Faithful to him, should I prefer thee to El 
Aghlab, to entrust to thee again the government of 
Africa? Is it because of his bravery and thy cow- 
ardice, his strength and thy weakness, his submissive- 
ness to my will, and thy spirit of revolt ? 

El Aghlab built, close to the western side of Kair- 
wan, the fortress city of Abassiyeh, which he inhabited 
with his comt. No traces of this kind of Moorish Es- 
corial or Bardo, save the reservoirs, remain. The name 
Abassiyeh is frequently found on coins of the period 
of the Black Khalifs. 

Arabic geographical works describe five spots bear- 
ing the name of Abassiyeh. A sand-hill near Mecca, a 

262 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xxi. 

town of Upper Egypt, a quarter of the city of Baghdad, 
a town near Koufa, and lastly the city built in the 
environs of Kairwan by El Aghlab. 

This stronghold became the habitual abode of the 
Aghlabites, who reigned here in great magnificence. 
Here Ibrahim, after he had established the Faith of 
Islam throughout the Mughreb, constituted himself 
Khalif of the West, and received the envoys of Charle- 
magne, who came to -solicit permission to carry to 
Europe the body of St. Cyprian, buried near Carthage. 

Ibrahim had his armoury and treasures removed by 
night to this palace, and surrounded himself with a 
bodyguard of trusted Saracens and Berbers. On dis- 
content arising among the Africans, he quieted them 
with money. He pardoned the citizens of Tripoli, who 
had revolted, and shut up their governor in a mosque. 

In 817 Amran of Tunis took the city of Kairwan, 
and invested the city of Abassiyeh during a whole year. 
Amran tried to suborn the Kadi, and induce him to sur- 
render the Khalif, but the governor was incorruptible. 

The Moors of Tripoli revolted twice in the succeeding 
years, and El Aghlab only succeeded in subduing them 
by engaging mercenary forces from among the Berbers. 
After a reign of twelve years and a half, the first of the 
Khalifs of Kairwan died. His son and successor, Ab- 
dallah, treated the citizens so cruelly that a santon 
prayed publicly to heaven for his destruction. Ab- 


dallah was promptly seized with ulcer in the ear and 

His brother, Ziadet Allah, ascended the throne, a man 
of harsh and intemperate mind, unlike his politic father, 
and who shed his soldiers' blood on the slightest pre- 
text. El Mansour, chief of Tabnada, took Kairwan, and 
shut up Ziadet Allah in the royal city, but by a desperate 
sally the Berber was routed. Ziadet then destroyed the 
walls and gates of the city to punish the citizens, who 
had shown themselves sympathetic to Mansour : some 
say he was foolish enough to destroy also the bazaars. He 
almost demolished, but afterwards restored, the Mosque. 

After various successes in Barbary, the Khalif sent 
an expedition to Sicily, which met the Byzantines and 
routed them. Subsequently the Saracens had to "be 
succoured by a fleet of three hundred vessels. 

The wars of Ziadet and his successors in Sicily and 
on the Italian peninsula present very monotonous fea- 
tures. They resulted in the annihilation of Byzantine 
power in the island. 

Abou Ibrahim had a passion for building. He con- 
structed of stone and lime no less than ten thousand 
strongholds in the Khalifat of Kairwan, giving them 
gates of iron. He also enlisted Ethiopians in his army, 
in which he took a great interest. Mohammed, who 
took his place, lost various places in Spain, but captured 

264 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xxi. 

Civil wars were of constant occurrence during the 
next reigns. In 877 Ibrahim ibn Ahmed, a dignified^ 
just, and firm ruler, pacified the country. He built on 
the coast of Africa a succession of towers, so that fire 
signals could be transmitted from Ceuta to Alexandria 
in a single night. He also surrounded Susa, the seaport 
of Kairwan, with a wall. 

In 885 he laid the foundations of the suburban city 
Raccadah, and in the same year took up his residence in 
it. This town had a circuit of fourteen thousand cubits : 
no purer air, more agreeable climate, or richer soil existed 
in Africa. The Moors used to say that in Raccadah one 
was happy without cause, and gay without motive. 

A number of emancipated slaves having revolted 
and seized the old citadel, they were disarmed : some 
were scourged to death, some crucified, and others im- 
mured for life in the dungeons of Kairwan. Shortly 
after this a severe drought occurred: and, in the la- 
mentable famine resulting from it, the inhabitants in 
some instances devoiired one another. 

In later life Ibrahim's generous qualities disappeared, 
and he became a cruel, senseless tyrant. Surrounded 
by disaffected subjects, he shut himself up with his 
bodyguard of blacks in Raccadah, which he fortified 
with a deep trench. 

His army took Tunis from certain insurgents and 
were on the point of putting twelve hundred prisoners 


to death : news of the victory, however, reaching Ibra- 
him, in a note fastened under a bird's wing, he sent for 
the prisoners, and had them paraded in triumph through 
the city of Kairwan. In a fit of exultation over one of 
his triumphs, Ibrahim cried : WTiy did not the Almighty 
witness in person so complete and glorious a victory ? 
One of his acts was to crucify Mohammed, governor of 
Tripoli, whom he had hated from childhood for his good 
qualities and profound learning. 

Ibrahim, who one day had lost his napkin, put to 
death for that circumstance three hundred servants. 
He was seized with a black sickness which daily excited 
him to fresh mm-ders : his servants, wives, and children 
were butchered, tortured, burnt : the story seems a 
hideous romance, but it is well authenticated. 

His grandson, Ziadet Allah, murdered his father, 
brothers, and uncles, and, taking alarm at a rising of 
the Berbers, fled from Raccadah with his family and 
treasures into Egypt. He died of poison : and, says the 
Moorish historian, thus was extinguished the family 
of the Aghlabites and their glory eclipsed : God alone 
is Eternal. 

Wars with Morocco occupied much of the next cen- 
tiu-y. Sicily continued an object of contention. Obeid 
Allah, the first of the Green Khalifs who reigned in 
Kairwan, amongst other feats pillaged Sfax and 
attacked Tripoli. He ravaged Lombardy, took Genoa. 

266 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xxt. 

and Sicily in the next fifty years became practically an 
independent Moorish state. 

After 1086 Islam ceased to dominate in the island : 
but Roger, Count of Sicily, by his able and considerate 
administration, establishing equal faith and rights, 
caused the first real imion between the East and the 
West, the Crescent and the Cross : Islamism and 
Christianity being equally tolerated and practised. 

From this period the glories of Kairwan begin to fade, 
and its history becomes subservient to that of the Moorish 
Khalifat in Spain. At one time it was destroyed by 
Yussuf, sovereign of Morocco : at another governed by 
Mehdi, the restor«^r of Afrikieh, the False descendant of 
the Prophet. Sometimes allied with the Cordovans, 
sometimes with the Emirs of Grranada, Kairwan — 
which had given birth to both those glorious kingdoms, 
furnished them with warriors, saints, artists, and learned 
men, had taught them to conquer and to civilise, to ex- 
tract wealth and use it in erecting temples to the glory 
of God, and palaces for men's glory such as the world 
had never seen — Kairwan, the mother city, the cradle 
and shrine of Islam in Africa, began gradually to decay. 

When the iNIoors at length lost those noble posses- 
sions in Europe, in this old sacred city and its provinces 
they found a refuge : and here they wait with the keys 
of their ancestors' homes in Spain, till their destiny 
becomes fulfilled. 


We hear incidentally of the city in the sixteenth 
century, when Dragut of Tripoli conspired with the 
Ulemas of the Great Mosque against the King, and 
entering the city by night put him to death : but 
the real history of Kairwan ended with the dynasty of 
the Fatimites, or towards the close of Saxon days in 

They have all vanished now, Fatimites and Aghlab- 
ites. Black Khalifs and White, Raccadah and Abassiyeh, 
the great city's wealth and palaces : only the solemn old 
Mosque remains, in the spot where Okhbah first placed 
it, with its Kibleh still pointing to the Prophet's 
city, which preceded it as a sanctuary only by forty 
years. Lo, says the Moorish historian, resignedly, at 
the close of his chronicle, God is He who rules the 
nights and the days. 



The Frenchman — Servants — Soldiers — Ride round "Walls — A fine 
Barb — The African Mecca — -The Haj — The Kaid's Predecessors — 
Colleges — The Renegade of Kairwan. 

I HAD on the second day an interview with the French- 
man. He had volunteered a few remarks to Perruquier 
in French, explaining that he had been partly educated 
in France : and one afternoon he came into my room and 
began to talk on various subjects in indifferent French. 
He made an unnecessary apology for his familiarity 
with the language, and his little slips and defects in 
grammar were most amusing. He became very friendly, 
and talked in a most interesting way of Kairwan and 
its customs. He promised to find for me an old native of 
Kairwan, a barber, who should take me to every comer 
of the city : and who, having been employed some time 
in the French Consulate in Tunis and lived in Algeria, 
could speak tolerable French. In course of time the 
barber, Hassan ben Ali, presented himself, a bright, 
friendly old fellow, strongly resembling the Moor in 
the frontispiece, who assured me that nothing inside or 
outside of the city should escape me. 


The Frenchman — Sidi Haji Mohammed — to whom 
I suggested with delicacy the possibility of getting a 
plan of the mosque, told me rather coldly that the 
Moslem injunction for the mosque was to pray and 
not to look about. Besides, in the Great Mosque was 
written up a warning against counting, or measuring 
its proportions : whoever should do so would lose his 
sight. There was no irony in the Frenchman's manner 
as he spoke, but I wondered how far he was convinced 
of this. To tiu-n the subject, which was getting on to 
delicate ground, he explained how warm the Prime 
Minister's recommendation had been, and what a high 
regard he entertained for Greneral Khaireddin. 

After an elaborate Oriental meal sent by the Kaid's 
orders, that worthy gentleman came in and paid me a 
visit. My rooms were comfortable, very simply fur- 
nished, and numerous well-dressed attendants would 
loiter in from time to time. In Moorish households 
many servants attach themselves merely for the sake of 
their food, and receive no remuneration. All dishes 
appearing first on the master's table, the number and 
extent of them there appears surprising. 

Soldiers in Kairwan and the capital have, or rather 
used to have, a precarious remuneration. Their pay 
was very moderate, and sometimes they didn't receive 
it punctually. When I was first in Tunis, for example, 
it was about eighteen months in arrears. So the 

270 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xxii. 

nominal amount of six piastres or three shillings per 
month might almost be regarded as an income of 
six piastres a year. Matters of this kind, however, 
are slightly better managed now : but what with 
irregular pay and their allowance of coarse black por- 
ridge, the poor soldiers do rather badly. They are 
often to be seen knitting or doing some little kind of 
work : and on our first visit to Tunis, the most active 
and enterprising assistant we had in the pursuit of old 
curiosities, was a soldier who temporarily excused him- 
self from duty. 

The necessaries of life are not dear here or in 
Tunis — the prices being publicly fixed by the amins of 
the bazaars from time to time. So the poorer classes 
get things at their proper value — such as meat, bread, 
vegetables, oil, eggs, butter, cheese, honey, besides all 
kinds of fruit which are sold by weight, such as apricots 
and plums. Fish, fresh butter, fowls, and groceries are 
not sold by weight, and are a matter of bargain. 

The Kaid asked me what I should like to do with 
myself on the second day : and, as I expressed a wish to 
ride round the city, he had three horses brought to the 
door at the appointed time — one for Perruquier, one for 
the Raid's servant, and one for myself. Perruquier 
had the Raid's son's horse : mine was the Raid's own, 
a splendid iron-grey Barb, with a cream-coloured 
embroidered saddle-cloth over the high peaked Arab 


saddle, and so powerful and spirited that I felt he 
could have fled with me to the Desert whenever he 
pleased. Perruquier's horse was also a fine grey, with 
red velvet trappings and gold embroidery. 

We sallied forth by the Bab el Djuluddin, and rode 
to the westward all through the suburbs or outer 
villages of Kairwan. There is a noticeable want of 
fruit and flowers : the utmost efforts of the gardeners 
seem to result in nothing but prickly pear. Indeed, my 
personal belief is that if date seed, poppy seed, and 
pumpkins were sown in these gardens of Kairwan, they 
would all come up as prickly pear. The houses are poor 
and unimportant without exception. It was a glorious, 
hot afternoon. We had no soldiers with us : our two 
shaoushes remained in the house to sleep, the lazy 

There was but little life outside the walls, and we 
passed from one spot to another without exciting more 
than a passing interest. We rode between mud walls 
and prickly pear hedges and over dust heaps, keeping 
the city to our right hand. Beyond the green of the 
enclosures stretches, north, south, and west, the vast 
plain, skirted in all directions save the seaward by 
mountains. We passed the Mosque of the Olive Tree, 
the outer market place, the Bab el Tunes, the Keshlah 
and its gate : then a long straight reach of wall 
. broken midway by a ruined fort: past waste ground, 

272 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xxii. 

and — what is generally but little better — a Moham- 
medan burial place. We rounded the towers at the 
north-east and eastern angles of the city, within which 
points lies the Grreat Mosque, with its far-seen Minar : 
then up the long turreted curving south-east wall, and 
past the Bab el Khaukh to the Bab el Djuluddin, whence 
we had issued to make the circuit. 

Kairwan is, and always has been, a city of pilgrim- 
age : and in the Mohammedan faith seven journeys 
thither still rank with one to Mecca, and equally entitle 
the pilgrim to the name of Haji. Thus Perruquier and 
I have the right to regard ourselves as '143 of a Haji 
each, which circumstance affords us a certain satisfac- 
tion. The green turbans of the Prophet's descendants 
are tolerably plentiful in Kairwan, but not so thick as 
in Sfax. There are probably more openings for amass- 
ing piastres in Sfax, and the Scherifs forsake the sleepy 
and half dead city of Kairwan. In spite of the advan- 
tage of a local Mecca, numbers of pilgrims travel from 
Barbary to Arabia. The caravan which used to traverse 
Tripoli and the deserts of Cyrene is a thing of the past, 
and the Faithful travel on the deck'' of a markab ndr 
all the way to Djeddah : then on camels or on foot 
till they see the flickering lightning playing over the 
Prophet's tomb at Medina, or till they kneel to drink 
of the sacred well in the Great Mosque of Mecca. 

The evening was very cold, and we discovered during 


dinner that the windows of our dining-room were not 
glazed. We no longer wondered at the freshness percep- 
tible to the backs of our necks and tops of our heads on 
the previous evening. The Kaid's servants brought in 
on long trays numerous dishes having basket covers, 
decorated with coloured cloth, such as I saw the black 
women working at Tripoli. We had soup, cold fowl, 
roast mutton, roast veal with herbs, sausages stuffed with 
herbs, assida, a kind of flour porridge eaten with honey, 
kouskousou, rice pudding scented with otto of roses, 
and of course water to drink. 

The Kaid came in as usual to spend the evening, 
and we had a long amusing talk about Kairwan. I 
asked him if his grandfather were not Sidi Othman el 
Mourabet. He said. Yes, with surprise. I asked if 
Sidi Othman had not a fine stud of horses and other 
animals in his stable. The Kaid asked Perruquier how 
it was possible for me to have learnt these things. I 
told him that in England we were compelled to employ 
ourselves diligently in reading, especially about other 
people and other countries, for fear we should become 
grossly ignorant : that with many of us it was a matter 
of pride to be extremely well acquainted with our 
neighbours' affairs, and, that our ladies strove to antici- 
pate one another in the dissemination of news. He 
wondered at this. 

I put one or two historical questions to the Kaid, 

274 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xxii. 

rather beyond his scope, which so alarmed the genial man 
that he fairly stampeded, wishing me a pleasant night's 
rest. Afterwards the Mudabbir came in, a good-looking, 
well-informed man. He told me that the once famous 
colleges of Kairwan are declining, though there is still a 
very creditable theological college near Dar al Mana, 
the mosque there belonging to it. Kairwan became 
the principal seat of the study of the Mohammedan law 
and doctrine. The educational institutions were re- 
nowned throughout Islam. They were magnificently 
endowed, and from their libraries came some of the 
Oriental MSS. most valuable in Europe, and unobtain- 
able elsewhere. These magnificent libraries of the 
Early Middle Ages are dispersed, but there remain in 
the city great numbers of curious manuscripts and 
books, many theological, and even books of travel 
illustrated. With a little patience some might be got. 

Most Arabic scholars know, but I did not know 
before, that when a boy is set to learn the Koran he 
commences with the Fatthah, or first chapter. Then lie 
goes to the last chapter, then to the last but one, and 
so on backwards through the book, the chapters in- 
creasing in length up to the second chapter, which is 
the longest. 

I was sitting on one of the divans, writing, when the 
Frenchman — or, as I ought to call him, Sidi Hamet el 
Haji — came in, and, looking to see that no one else was 


present, sat down cross-legged on the carpet in front of 
me, and thus addressed me in the purest French : You 
were astonished, sir, this morning to hear such good 
French spoken in Kairwan. I can hardly say that I 
was, but I said that the circumstance had filled me with 

"Well, sir, he went on, I have perceived from your 
conversation that you are un homme d'intelligence et 
de ccBur — the worthy Sidi Hamet was not un homme de 
penetration — and I desire to make to you a communi- 
cation which I have made to no one before. Know that 
I am a European, a Frenchman, I may almost say half 
an Englishman, for I come from Normandy, the home 
of our common ancestors. My family — he went on 
rapidly and with emotion — are still living in Normandy, 
for all I know. My father was a banker and connected 
by marriage with a large manufacturer of Rouen. I 
studied in Paris, and took the degree of Bachelier es 
lettres. Owing to circumstances, into which I need not 
enter, I attached myself to the monastery of La Trappe, 
remaining there for three years. At La Grande Char- 
treuse I also spent some short time. I cannot describe 
to you how those few years' experiences shook and 
uprooted my faith in Christianity and Catholicism, or 
how great are the meanness, the hypocrisy, the impos- 
ture of such a system. Sickened and disillusioned 
with this mockery of religion, I left my coimtry, 

T 2 

276 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xxii. 

resolved to seek some simpler, purer way to another 

Forgive me, he said, interrupting himself, if I have 
said anything which can hurt your feelings or convictions. 
I came to Tunis. I was received by the Prime Minis- 
ter, the distinguished and successful Khaireddin, who 
himself came to the Eegency a Christian of the Grreek 
Church. He treated me generously and as a friend, 
and I have become attached to him as a father. Under 
his auspices, and after anxious consideration and pre- 
paratory study, I resolved to adopt the P"'aith of Islam. 
I gained sufficient acquaintance with the Arabic tongue, 
and in Tunis was formally admitted a Mussulman. 

I came directly to Kairwan, and yours is the first 
European face I have seen here. I resolved to wipe 
out and forget the old life with its associations, and to 
devote myself to the study of my new faith and of the 
philosophy of life. Determined to abandon everything 
that could suggest or recall the past, I became simply 
and purely a Mussulman. In habits, in dress, and even 
in thought, my wishes, my associations, my affections, 
have become Mohammedanised. I am surrounded by 
friends who have given me evidences of the truest 
affection, such as I did not before believe the Arab 
mind capable of. My happiness is consulted, and I see 
about me examples of philosophy and true religion. 

I occupy myself in instructing the Raid's children, 

CHAP. xxii. A DREAM OF LIFE. 277 

to whom I have become fondly attached, and now for 
the first time in my life I have learnt to realise what 
happiness is. I live in the most absolute calm and 
tranquillity of mind, unruffled by circumstances : the 
past is blotted out — all I ask for the present is peace. 
My life is to me the realisation of practical philosophy. 
I have nothing to disturb the peace of the mind or. the 
balance of the intellect. 

My perversion was the cause of astonishment to 
many, and each one endeavoured to invent some motive 
for it. According to one, it was the fulfilment of an 
ambition. But where is there room for ambition in 
Kairwan ? According to another I was attracted by the 
sensual features of the social life and religious faith of 
the Mohammedans, but on adopting the Faith I made 
a vow of chastity and poverty. Should I be offered a 
wife I would not refuse one, but I want neither riches 
nor pleasures. I want the philosophical enjoyment of 
a quiet spirit. 

I have tired you, he said, stopping. On the con- 
trary, I said, what you have told me is very interest- 
ing and remarkable. I asked whether he thought he 
found in the Mussulman faith any higher inspirations 
than in that of Jesus Christ. I do not, he said ; it is in 
the practice of their faith that Christians fall short, as 
compared with Mussulmans : and the imposing extra- 
vagances which have grown up under the auspices of 

278 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xxii. 

the priesthood — I speak of my native country — have 
rendered the worship of Christ a theatrical mockery. 
The influence established by ignorant and intriguing 
men over the minds of their flocks is unjustifiable, and 
the result is mere superstition. In the Koran there is 
sufficient to take a man to heaven, if he follows its 
precepts and his own conscience. 

I asked if he had any curiosity to hear of his family 
or friends. Absolutely none, he answered. None to 
hear of events in the outer world ? None whatever. 
Had he the curiosity to hear of my experiences and 
return home ? No, he said, politely : not even that ; I 
wish to know of nothing outside of this city. I will 
not for anything risk the distraction of my thoughts or 
the absorbing of my interest. One thing I ask : should 
you ever write an account of your travels in this country, 
send me, I beg, a copy of the book. And should it be 
in my power at any time hereafter to receive here, pro- 
tect, and serve any friend of yours, believe me I will not 
fail to do so. 

He rose to go, and I accompanied him. I will not 
forget you, he said, though we may not meet here 
again. We are both travelling along the same road, I 
said. Yes, he added, and let us hope that it will lead 
us to where we may meet hereafter. Esperons. He 
grasped my hand on the doorstep, and went out into the 


He had spoken with such energy and conviction, 
and so much as a cultivated and intellectual man, that 
it was impossible not to be struck. The perversion of 
some barber or shopkeeper, such as I expected to find 
in the apostate of Kairwan, would surprise no one. 
Some small mercenary motive might have explained it : 
but this was a man brought up in the so-called centre 
of the intellect of Europe, and it was hard to believe 
him actuated by anything short of conviction. 

It is of course easy to suggest reasons. Emulation 
of a career such as Khaireddin's, a Circassian by birth, 
brought as a slave to Tunis, and now the most in- 
fluential man in the Eegency. It might be an ambition 
to advance to eminence in the Mussulman religion, 
where it is clear his eloquence and force would power- 
fully impress the worshippers in the mosques. Who 
knows ? he might aim at the foundation of a new 
sect, a compromise, or a Christian-Mohammedanism, 
combining what he might consider the advantages in 
both Faiths. He might have chosen this as the only 
means of studying in its completeness the Faith of 

But, whatever views he might have, he was too 
clever a man to work without a purpose : and the ear- 
nestness with which he was mastering the doctrines of 
his new creed might excuse the suggestion that tranquil- 
lity of mind and forgetfulness of the past were not the 

28o THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xxii. 

only things aimed at. I confess he impressed me, by 
his intelligence as well as by his good breeding and 
friendliness. Such was the Eenegade of Kairwan, a 
man of whom I should not be surprised to hear in 
Barbary at some time hereafter. 




The Bazaars— A Bai-gain — Mosque of the Three Gates — TomLs — 
Measure the Great Mosque — Fanaticism — Details of Exterior — 
Sacred Well of KafAyat — The Minar — The Courtyard — The Prayer 
Chamber — Its Interior — Columns of the Great Mosque — An 
Intrigue — Writing on the Wall. 

There was still much to do in the city : to map out and 
sketch — subject to the popular will — the Gi'eat Mosque, 
and to make a plan of the city walls. It would have 
been unseemly, too, to leave Kairwan without any 
souvenir, so I started with the old barber, Hassan ben 
Ali, for the bazaars. We went to the shop of Haji 
Hamouda, amtn of the bazaar, near Djemma '1 Barota, 
where carpets, woollen stuffs, silks, &c., were sold. Ha- 
mouda was also amin of the jewel and silver trade, which 
seemed to be almost privately conducted in Kairwan. 
Owing to the absence of Jews and Christians, there is 
not a silversmith's shop to be seen, and the absence of 
ornaments, rings, &c., is quite noticeable. The carpets 
of Kairwan are celebrated for their fineness and beauty : 
they are, however, made solely by women, and it is 
consequently impossible to see the process. The finest 

282 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS, chap, xxiii. 

carpets sold in the bazaars of Tunis are those made in 

In the little shop of the amin I toot my seat, and 
Hamouda, a well-dressed, good-looking, and courteous 
man, bade the crowd stand at a little distance. He 
found me a handsome pair of old bracelets, with the 
silver-mark of Tripoli upon them, and a silver earring 
of picturesque form. A man came up to offer me a 
few old Eoman coins, which I said I was willing to buy. 
He then told me he had a great many more in his 
handkerchief : and, as the crowd was growing a little 
forward, we withdrew to the Kaid's stables, which were 
close by. The Moor showed me a bag containing more 
than a hundred and twenty Eoman coins, several of 
silver, and was satisfied with what I gave him for 
them. He told me that he had been collecting them 
among the neighbouring ruins during the last twenty 

We went off through the streets beyond the bazaars 
and came to a soap manufactory, a dark building below 
stairs, where were tanks full of melting grease and oil. 
Tlie barber, who should be a good judge, told me the 
soap was excellent. We saw it in all stages, from the 
boiling down to the cooling and cutting into slabs. 
Then we rambled down an unfrequented-looking street 
to the barber's shop, a neat, clean little cupboard, where 
were small hand-glasses stuck round the walls. It 


faced an open space close to the Djemma '1 Telatha 
Biban, or Mosque of the Three Gates : and we next 
visited that beautiful old building, probably of the 
thirteenth centuiy, externally by far the most strikinj^ 
in Kairwan. 

It has a plain facade, with a triple gateway, the 
arches of which are supported by marble columns. 
The windows are double arched, the single minaret is 
poor and cramped. What tiles there are, are of the 
beautiful Oriental green melting into blue, in delicate 
patterns. But the chief feature is the rare old carved 
stonework, which gives it the air of the front of a fine 
old Crusaders' church. It runs above and about the 
arches, extending across the front in broad bands of 
successive text and ornament, in solid deep beautiful 
chiselling. First a line of running foliage two feet in 
depth, then a band of Kufic or early Arabic characters, 
free and bold, then a row of alternate panels of carving, 
each containing a single rose or a leaf pattern. Then 
text and carvings alternately, and finally the moulding 
and corbels of the cornice. The carving is of the 
finest, and the designs are most rich. The front was 
well worth sketching, but too elaborate for a rapid draw- 
ing, so we moved on to the Mosque of Kader Awi. Round 
the white minaret ran the broad text I have described 
on the Mosque of the Olive Tree. 

We saw the marabout of Sidi Mohammed '1 Awani, 

284 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS, chap. xxin. 

with a white melon dome, and with the jambs of its 
doorway minutely carved in a coarse cream-coloured 
marble. On either side of these uprights are tiled sur- 
faces. We saw tombs of saints by the dozen : many of 
them seemed simply placed in houses which had been 
long tenantless : for there was little to indicate beyond 
the little flag, or the grated window through which the 
sarcophagus could be seen, that they were other than 
dwellings of the living. 

We came by a quiet lane to the Grreat Mosque, where 
we spent two or three hours in measuring and sketch- 
ing. The soldiers, a few of whom had joined us, barred 
the approaches, and warned off or threw down in- 
truders. Ma rnaleh ! not good ! the people would say, 
as they saw the unbeliever taking the proportions of 
their sacred building. The sun shining in the cloud- 
less blue sky fell upon the dazzling white walls of the 
mosque, and perspiration stood on the soldiers' dark 
faces. The great doors of the courtyard and of the 
prayer chamber were wide open, and there were so few 
worshippers inside, and so few people at hand, that I 
should probably have entered but for fear of compro- 
mising the soldiers, and of making any further rambles 
about the city risky and perhaps impossible. As I saw, 
too, pretty clearly all I wanted, it would have been an 
idle satisfaction to go in for the sake of saying I had 
been there. 



Before starting for Kairwan, Mr. Wood told me 
how a little Jewish boy, a few months before, was 
playing with some companions in the bazaars of Tunis. 
A Moorish boy took the Jew's cap, and ran off with it 
through the courtyard of the Mosque of the Olive Tree. 
Quite heedlessly the lad ran after him to recover his 
cap, and as he came out by the opposite door he was 
put to death. Tunis is much Europeanised, and the 
inhabitants are relatively enlightened and liberal. 

I was walking one day with Perruquier past an 
arcaded gallery of the same mosque near the grocers' 
bazaar. A few gracefully dressed Tunisians sat in the 
gallery. I said something to them, and they smiled. 
I am coming up, I said playfully, pointing to the stone 
staircase. In an instant the Sltniles vanished, and a 
shopkeeper behind me sprang growling from his seat. 
Perruquier explained that I was not quite so simple : 
and when I drew my finger across my throat to suggest a 
violent death, and shook my head, they laughed again. 

At the southern angle of the mosque wall was 
built in a charming little white marble column, having 
a capital of acanthus of hart's tongue form : but one- 
half of the capital having been broken off, it had been re- 
placed by another acanthus head with saw edges, like a 
swordfish's snout. Outside the south-west door of the 
prayer chamber lay a beautiful fallen capital, now used 
as a seat, of white and bluish marble, the decoration 

286 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS, chap, xxiii. 

being of a highly ornate fretted acanthus. I com- 
menced the measurement of the south-east end, which 
extends eighty-five yards in length. It is the wall of 
the prayer chamber itself. Midway along it is the 
porch of the Grand Mufti, the spiritual governor of 
Kairwan. He is, in one sense, of more consequence 
than the Kaid, who on state occasions goes to visit him. 
His antechamber stands out from the building, and none 
but the Muftis have access by this way to the mosque. 
Above this porch there rises from the prayer chamber its 
only dome, that over the sacred old Mihrdb of Okhbah. 
The sides of the mosque measure each one hundred 
and forty yards. At a distance of thirty yards from 
the eastern angle of the prayer chamber stands the 
finest of the entrance ^towers. It has an outer horse- 
shoe arch, and an inner one which contains the door 
opening direct into the prayer chamber. The exterior 
is a finely proportioned piece of Saracenic work : it has 
a row of arched panels along the upper portion of 
its sides, and the dome and interiors of arches are in 
plaster fretwork. In the angle it forms with the great 
wall stands the marabout, a simple white domed cube, 
of a holy woman, Lilla Rahanna. Forty yards from the 
southern angle there is in the wall a pattern of diamond 
form in slightly projecting bricks. This is the mark 
of the limit of the chamber of prayer, or rather of the 
colonnade which runs across its front. 


Almost midway along the north-east wall stands the 
sacred well of Kafayat, or It is enough. It was here 
before the city existed : its water was used in the build- 
ing of the walls, and in times of drought it has served 
— and is still said to suffice — for the wants of the whole 
district. Five years ago, when rain failed, the well, I 
was told, maintained its character, and all Kairwan 
drank of it. It is enclosed by a low circular wall, of a 
yard and a half in height, built of rough stone. The 
aperture measures ten feet across, being faced with 
pieces of aged marble shafts, yellow, red, and white, 
worn into deep channels and furrows. A rusty iron 
frame serves as a lowering apparatus. This well is said 
to communicate with the holy spring at Mecca : indeed 
a pilgrim who once let his drinking cup fall into Zem- 
zem, found it in Kafayat on his way homeward ! The 
only other well in Kairwan is that called Bir el Bey. 

As in the south-west wall, there are four gateways 
in the north-east wall, of an interesting Saracenic style : 
but only the principal one is used. At the northern 
angle is a pink marble column, let into the masonry. 

The north-west end, measuring seventy-five yards, 
or ten yards less than the opposite end, has rising from 
it the great Minar. The brick and plaster of this 
massive tower are defaced by marks of gunshot, fired 
by the Government troops during the insurrection, 
when they retook the city from the insurgents. A 

288 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS, chap, xxiii. 

rusty gun, possibly from the same interesting period, 
lies at the foot of the Mlnar. There is an opening near 
the tower — communicating with underground cisterns 
in the courtyard — by which, in case of overflow, the 
water can escape. On either side of the Minar, within 
the enclosure, is a store room. Within the southern 
colonnade, entered by a private door from the street, 
is the chamber of the Mueddins. Facing the southern 
angle, and near the main entrance, is a bath, entered 
by a plain doorway faced with marble, where the Faith- 
ful come to wash and pray before entering the mosque. 

The prayer chamber occupies the south-east end of 
the enclosure, running across the building eighty-five 
yards, and measuring about forty yards from the Mihrah 
to the wall facing it. The two great porches open 
directly into it on either side, having heavy wooden 
doors, unpainted, and with large rusty ornamented iron 

This leaves a quadrangle, measuring a hundred 
yards, by eighty in average width. Bound this runs 
the double colonnade, about thirty feet wide, consisting 
of two rows of grey marble columns in pairs, carrying a 
simple roof. The courtyard is paved with white and 
grey marble, defaced and broken in places, and a little 

In the arcade which runs along the front of the prayer 
chamber facing the quadrangle, the arches are double, 




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rising one upon another, as in the Mezquita of Cordova, 
and supported by fine old columns of various propor- 
tions and colours. Pillars of rich colours flank each 
of the three doorways under this arcade. Some are of 
old dusty red marble, fluted ; others of various colours. 
The doors are beautifully inlaid and arabesqued in 
elaborate patterns, and have decorative hinges. 

The interior of the prayer chamber is imposing and 
fine. Nine ranks of nineteen massive columns each, 
many of them dark marble, many of white marble 
with rich Corinthian capitals, and exceedingly fine and 
old, carry the whitewashed double arches of the roof. 
The walls are whitewashed, and on the floor are mats 
of straw. Some parts of the vaulting were being re- 
stored, and where wooden supports were giving way 
they were being replaced by iron. The dome of the 
Mihrab is vaulted in stone. It took a whole week to 
pierce a hole for the staple to carry the lamp. The 
lamps of the mosque are series of large iron rings, 
diminishing upwards, and carrying, in numerous little 
glass cups, the oil and wicks. 

There were no ostrich eggs — the symbols, as the 
genial author of My Winter on the Nile says, of that 
credulity which can swallow any tradition. In the 
eastern angle stands the Kubbeh or Chamber of the 
Tomb, containing, I was told, manuscripts and old 
weapons. The Kibleh or Shrine, is faced with rare old 


290 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xxni. 

red marble pillars. The Memhar is of dark wood, 
elaborately carved. The last rebuilding took place in 
827, and in the year 1082 El Bekri stated the number 
of the columns in the mosque to be four hundred and 
fourteen. I believe this to be near the truth. I reck- 
oned the total number of columns in the prayer 
chamber at one hundred and seventy-one : in the court 
about two hundred and forty-four : in all four hundred 
and fifteen. On the exterior of the building and en- 
closure are about twenty. 

The great dim interior was fine and striking after 
the glare of the sun, and the few Moors kneeling at 
their prayers were probably very fervently asking their 
lord Mohammed for a malediction upon the Christian 
dog at the door. 

I was curious to confirm my calculation of the 
number of columns in the mosque, and one evening, 
calling the old barber into my room, I thus com- 
menced : Barber, it is said that none has yet counted 
the columns in Sidina Okhbah. That is true : it is for- 
bidden. Traveller : Thou, who hast lived among the 
Koumi and learned their tongue, art free from supersti- 
tion. Barber : True, traveller ! Traveller : Dost thou 
know a man in Kairwan willing to bring me the number 
of those columns ? Barber : It is written on the wall in 
the Great Mosque, Cui'sed be he who shall count these 
columns, for he shall lose his sight. Traveller (indirectly) : 

CHAP, xxiii. A WARNING. 291 

The Franks reward services. Barber : It may not be, the 
danger is too great. Traveller : The curse would not 
fall upon him who counted but the ranks of columns : 
so many ranks from east to west, and so many ranks 
from south to north. Barber (after some hesitation) : 
It is forbidden to regard the columns at all. Traveller : 
The curse does not apply to the arches and the vaulting 
above the columns. Barber (stroking his beard) : That 
might be. It is true there is no mention of the arches. 
Traveller : Is it understood ? Barber : Wallah ! 

And then the old ass went straight to the Mufti of 
the mosque, the Scherif Hamuda, and blated out what 
he was going to do. My son, said the Scherif, beware. 
It mil bring good neither to the stranger nor to thee. 
One man attempted it and lost his sight : and a second 
and a third did the same. Be warned, and leave the 
matter alone. 

V 2 

292 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS, chap. xxiv. 


Foundation of Kairwin — Its Mosque and Kibleh — Its Vicissitudes — 
Cordova — Constructions — Raccadah — The Last of the Aghlabites — 
The New Mecca. 

When Okhbah ibn Nafi had formed the resolution of 
building Kairwan, he led his followers, among whom 
were eighteen Companions of the Prophet, to the spot 
he had chosen, in a deep forest where no path existed. 
What ! they said, when he asked them to set to work : 
wouldst thou make us build a city in the heart of a 
pathless forest : and should we not have to fear wild 
beasts of all kinds and snakes ? 

Okhbah then cried aloud : ye serpents and 
savage beasts, know that we are the Companions of 
God's Prophet ! Withdraw from the spot we have 
chosen : any of you that we may find hereafter will be 
put to death. 

The Mussulmans then saw with wonder during the 
entire day, the wild animals and venomous reptiles 
withdrawing and carrying off their young, a miracle 
which converted many Berbers to Islam. They say 
that for forty years afterwards not a snake or scorpion 
was seen. 


Okhbah then made the circuit of the spot, offering 
prayers to God that science and wisdom might prosper 
there : that it might be inhabited alone by God-fearing 
men and those serving Him with love : finally, that the 
city might be preserved from the assaults of the powers 
of this world. Then they traced the streets and tore 
up the trees. 

The first care of Okhbah was to choose the position 
of the citadel and the mosque : the former is said to 
have comprehended the site of the ancient Phoenician 
fortress Camounia. There was much variety of opinion 
regarding the Kibleh, it being rightly believed that 
the inhabitants of Africa would adopt the Kibleh of 
this mosque : and Okhbah was urged to determine its 
position with the greatest care. 

The Arabians remained long engaged in observing 
the rising of the sun and of the stars, in summer and 
winter, without coming to a determination. Okhbah, 
becoming imeasy, addressed himself to the Most High 
for inspiration. One night, during sleep, he had a 
vision, and a voice from on high addressed him in these 
words : — 

thou ! beloved of the Master of the worlds, when 
the morning is come, take the sacred Standard upon thy 
shoulder : thou wilt hear the Tekbir sound in front of 
thee while none other can hear it ; the spot where the 
chant shall end is that which must be chosen for the 

294 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xxiv. 

Kibleh : there the throne of the Imam must be placed. 
God Most High will protect this city and this mosque. 
His religion shall be established upon solid bases, and 
till the consummation of time unbelievers shall there 
be humiliated. 

At these words Okhbah arose from sleep, bewildered 
at such a revelation : he perfonned his ablutions, and 
repaired to the still unbuilt mosque to pray, accom- 
panied by the chief inhabitants. As soon as the dawn 
came he prostrated himself, and hearing before him the 
Tekbir sounding, asked those about him if they heard 
it too. They replied, No. 

He took the Standard upon his shoulder, and fol- 
lowed the sound of the voice. It ceased when he reached 
this spot, where now stands the pulpit of the Imam. 
Immediately he planted his banner, and cried : Hence- 
forth this is the spot whither ye shall turn in prayer. 

The palaces, mosques, and habitations rose with 
rapidity : the enclosure measured three thousand six 
hundred fathoms, and it was completed in the year 
677. Inhabitants jQocked thither from all parts, and it 
rapidly became a powerful capital. 

The accuracy of the site of this Kibleh is regarded 
as such that the Imam — turning neither to right nor 
to left to allow for possible inaccuracy — turns direct to 
the Kibleh. 

EI Bekri says the mosque was razed, all but the 


Mihrab, and rebuilt by Hassan ibn Nouman in the 
year 69 of the Hejra. He embellished the Mihrab, 
transporting thither the two superb columns, which 
still exist, of red stone marked with yellow stains, 
once taken from the ruins of a Christian church, and 
for which the Byzantine Emperor had in vain offered 
their weight in gold. 

The legend in Kairwan is that no person guilty of 
mortal sin can pass between these columns. In the 
Mosque of Omar there is a similar tradition, Paradise 
being forbidden to him who cannot pass his body 
between a certain pair of columns. 

In 727, the mosque was reconstructed on a vaster 
scale. Fifty years later, Yezid ibn Hatem demolished 
and rebuilt it, sparing the Mihrab as before : and when 
in 827, Ziadet Allah ibn Ibrahim razed it, for the third 
time, and was preparing to destroy the Mihrab, it was 
objected to him that all his predecessors had spared 
Okhbah's work. He then preserved and masked it with 
a wall, rebuilding and remodelling the rest of the mosque. 

This was upwards of a thousand years ago, and in 
spite of time and wars this sacred old building has 
never since been destroyed by Mohammedans or dese- 
crated by Christians. 

When Abd el Rahman III. declared himself indepen- 
dent Khalif of the West, Imam, and Commander of the 
Faithful, he resolved to build a mosque in Cordova, 

296 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xxiv. 

grander and more magnificent than any other. In the 
year 778 he commenced it, assisting with his own hands 
in the work, and in twenty-five years it was completed. 
Its court measured a hundred and thirty-five yards by 
seventy, its prayer chamber a hundred and thirty-five 
by a hundred and twenty. 

Twelve hundred columns of rare marble, taken, like 
those of the Kairwan mosque, from Grreek and Eoman 
ruins, divided the prayer chamber into nineteen naves 
and twenty-nine aisles. The columns were brought from 
Nimes and Narbonne, Seville and Tarragona, some 
from Carthage : while others, together with glorious 
mosaics, were sent from Byzantium. 

The massive buttressed walls of the Mezquita, as 
the mosque was called — from mesgad, to prostrate 
oneself in prayer — were penetrated by nineteen gates : 
the Puerta del Perdon, the most beautiful of all, 
opening on to the Court of Orange Trees. The chapel, 
or recess of the Mihrab, the abode of the Spirit of 
Grod, which held the Alkoran — the sacred book 
written by the hand of Othman, covered with gold, 
pearls, rubies, and chained to the desk of aloe wood — 
was, and still is, indescribably rich and beautiful. 
Eound the small octagonal chapel, the Kibleh, where 
the Grod of Islam used to reveal his presence, the 
Faithful iised, as in the Kaba of Mecca, to crawl 
seven times. 


In the Maksurah — the privileged enclosure where 
the Khalif, the Muftis, and Imams alone could enter — 
stood the throne of El Mansour, on wheels, carved in 
precious woods with figures and images, under a spe- 
cial dispensation from the Khalif — the sculpture of 
images being forbidden by the Mohammedan law. 

Such was the temple built by the Moors of Kair- 
wan, sixty years after their establishment in those rich 
plains of Cordova. The mosque surpassed those of El 
Aksa, of Kairwan, and of Mecca in beauty, and ranked 
next to them in sanctity. A pilgrimage thither was 
regarded as one to Mecca or to Kairwan. The Mosque 
of Seville, modelled to a certain extent on the Mezquita, 
was completed four centuries later, and only forty years 
before the Christians took Cordova. Its sacred Minar — 
the Giralda — measured fifty feet across at the base, 
and rose to the height of two hundred and fifty feet. 

The proportions of this and of the Mezquita rather 
dwarf the imposing and venerable Shrine of Okhbah 
and its Minar. But in the prayer chamber at Cor- 
dova, the relatively small size and corresponding crowd- 
ing of the eleven hundred columns and their arches, 
take a little from the space and dignity which cha- 
racterise the older mosque here. No doubt Kairwan 
never endowed its mosque so lavishly as did Cordova, 
but its proportions and space render it both solemn and 

29S THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xxiv. 

The treasures of Kairwan were at one time of count- 
less value. Tarik found at Toledo twenty-five crowns 
of the Grothic kings, of fine gold, garnished with 
jacinths, amethysts, diamonds, and other precious 
stones. He also found at the city of Medina Celi an 
inestimable table, which had formed part of the spoil 
taken from Eome by Alaric King of the Groths. It 
was composed of a single emerald possessed of talis- 
manic properties — wrought by genii, so it was said, for 
King Solomon the Wise. 

Musa found at Seville, among other sacred spoils, 
a cup made of a single pearl, brought by an early King 
of Spain from the Temple of Jerusalem, at its destruc- 
tion by Nebuchadnezzar. 

The foresaide two captaines Tarik and Muse, says 
Leo, with all good successe proceeded euen to Castilia, 
and sacked the citie of Toledo : where, amongst much 
other treasure, they founde many reliques of the saints, 
and the very same table whereat Christ sate with his 
blessed Apostles : which being covered with pure gold 
and adorned with great store of precious stones, was 
esteemed to be woorth halfe a million of ducates : and 
this table Muse carrying with him, as if it had beene 
all the treasure in Spain, returned with his armie over 
the sea, and bent his course toward Cairaoan. 

Ziadet Allah ibn Ibrahim, after thirteen troubled 
years, finding himself in tranquil possession of Africa, 


set himself to repair by peaceful labours the evils of 

He used to say that he had been permitted to 
accomplish four things which entitled him to Divine 
mercy on the day of Judgment. To rebuild the great 
mosque at a cost of eighty-six thousand dinars, in lieu 
of that built by Yezid ibn Hatem : to build the bridge 
of Abou el Kebi, and the castle of the Marabouts at 
Susa : finally, to appoint so worthy a Kadi as Ahmed 
ibn Mahriz. 

Among the numerous constructions due to Abou 
Ibrahim Ahmed, Nowairi cites : the reservoirs at the 
Tunis Gate, the porches and cupola of the Great Mosque, 
the cisterns of the Abou Eebi Gate, the mosque of 
Tunis, the walls of Susa, and the great reservoirs of 

These were his last work : he was very ill while 
they were yet unfinished. At last a vase of water was 
brought him from thence. Praised be God ! he cried, 
who has suffered me to see this work completed. He 
died, says the chronicler, after these words : it was one 
Tuesday, the tenth of the month Dhi '1 Kaada, 249. 
He was only twenty-nine years old. 

The Aghlabites are still held in gratefid remem- 
brance throughout this country for the similar works 
they established in many different spots. 

From the circumstance that the great reservoirs re- 

3do THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS, chap. xxit. 

ferred to lie to the western side of the city and within 
a short distance of the city wall, we can gather that 
the city or palace of the Abassiyeh extended westward 
from the neighbourhood of the present Tunis Grate. 

' Outside the walls of Kairwan,' says El Bekri, ' are 
fifteen cisterns built by Hescham and other princes : 
the greatest, however, by Abou Ibrahim Ahmed, gTand- 
son of Aghlab. They stand near the Tunis Gate, are 
of circular form, and very considerable. 

' In the centre of the chief cistern stands an octa- 
gonal tower crowned by a pavilion with four gates. On 
the south side of the reservoir wall there abut vast 
colonnades. To the west of the same reservoirs, which 
receive the waters of the winter torrent Wad el 
Merkelil, Ziadet Allah built a palace: and to the 
north a beautiful pond.' 

These works were executed with extreme magnifi- 
cence. They are the only monuments of the Aghlabites' 
work that remain : their necessity has been their safe- 
guard. Only certain of them have been kept in proper 
repair, the requirements of the city being much reduced. 
El Bekri found in this province of Afrikieh two monu- 
ments which were unequalled by anything else, these 
reservoirs of the Aghlabites, and the palace city of 

I think it possible that in the considerable traces 
of buildings, extending upon rising ground eastward 


from the north-east angle of Kairwan, and along an old 
watercourse or trench — possibly that dug by Ibrahim — 
we may look for the site of Eaccadah. 

Such a position would be in full view of the great 
shrine, whose finest porch lies in this direction, of the 
once rich plain to the northward, and of the refreshing 
sight of the mountains of Oussalat. It would also have 
been an outlying fortress on the road from the coast, 
and the cistern Elmawahel would have supplied it. 

Moorish writers refer to a third royal city outside the 
walls of Kairwan, known as Mansourah. It may have 
been one of the suburbs, possibly the present Dar al Mana. 

This is the story of the escape of Abou Modhar 
Ziadet Allah, the last of the Aghlabites. Word was 
brought him to Eaccadah that his army, under the 
Emir Ibrahim, had been routed. Idle and voluptuous, 
he had lost all hold upon his citizens' loyalty, and feared 
to tell them the truth. 

Sending to the prisons of Eaccadah, he had nume- 
rous prisoners executed, and their heads paraded through 
the city as trophies of a great victory. Meantime, he 
secretly and precipitately prepared for flight. News of 
his army's defeat had reached him after midday prayer : 
before the mueddin's cry to evening prayer was heard, 
he had left Eaccadah with his family and treasures — 
his household following by torchlight — and all taking 
the direction of Egypt. 

302 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS, chap. xxiv. 

When the truth became known, Eaccadah was pil- 
laged, the palaces ravaged, and the very soil of the 
gardens — which might have concealed treasure — was 
turned over during six whole days. Ibrahim returning 
found his master fled and the inhabitants in a tumult. 
Vainly he urged them to join him in the defence of the 
city, to provide him with either money or soldiers. 

We are not valiant in war, Ibrahim ! they said 
candidly, neither will we trust thee with our riches. 
If the bravest warriors and the resources of the public 
treasury could not bring thee victory, there is no chance 
of success with us and our private means. As Ibrahim 
scornfully upbraided them, they commenced to stone 
him: but he escaped and fled to Tripoli, where he 
joined the last of the Aghlabites. 

When the gentle and pious Handhalah resigned the 
government of Kairwan, he called together the Kadi 
and the more notable citizens. Opening the public 
treasury he took out one thousand dinars, which he 
counted before them. Be witnesses, he said, that I 
have taken from the city only what is necessary for my 

Bruce says : ' There is a tradition among the natives 
of Alexandria that it has often been in agitation to 
retire to Rosetta or Cairo : but divers saints have 
assured them that Mecca being destroyed — as it must 
be, they think, by the Russians — Alexandria is then to 


become the Holy Place, and that Mahomet's body is to 
be transported thither : that when that city is destroyed, 
the sanctified reliques are to be transferred to Cairouan 
in the kingdom of Tunis. Lastly, from Cairouan they 
are to come to Kosetta, and there to remain till the 
consummation of all things, which will not then be far 

304 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xxv. 


The Gate of Greengages — Measure the City — Ruined Bastion— Call 
to Prayer — The Citadel — A Mob — Leylet al Moolid — Elma 
wahel — Imprecations — Form of City — An Incident — Opinion of the 
Bazaars — Prepare to Leave — Farewell to the Kaid — Last Night in 

I WENT to make a plan of the city walls, round which 
we had already gone twice. Traversing the Quarter of 
the Mosque, we issued on foot from the city by the Bab el 
Khaukh, or Gate of the Greengages — like all the others 
a double arch in a tower. The inner gate is a lofty 
horseshoe arch supported by two marble columns : the 
capital of one is a beautifully carved thistle-shaped 
acanthus. Outside the columns, jambs of white and grey 
marble carried a lintel of the same. Above the arch 
was a tablet in white marble, engraved with the names 
of the gate and its builder and the date of its construc- 
tion. Beyond the vaulted chamber or passage, the 
outer archway is similar in form. On its left side is a 
yellow stone column having an acanthus head in marble, 
which does not belong to it. Facing it is a red mai'ble 
column. This is the finest of the city gates. 


Within this gate, and extending along the ramparts 
towards the Bab el Djuluddin, lies the Dyers' Quarter — 
a succession of low, flat houses, with their doors and 
walls and the ground in front of them stained deeply in 
red and blue. The gates of Kairwan are five : the 
Bab el Khaukh, on the eastern side: the Bab el Dju- 
luddin, facing to the south-east : the Bab el Djedid, to 
the south : the Bab el Tunes and the Bab el Keshlah, to 
the west. 

"We passed along the city walls, taking the angles 
and measurements as we went. The wall runs in a 
sloping curve, with half-round towers at intervals, till 
it reaches the eastern angle and turns suddenly to the 
north-west. The space outside here is waste land, having 
one or two marabouts, a small powder magazine, prickly 
pear bushes, and, running towards the east, traces either 
of the old wall of the greater city of centuries ago, or 
of the outer city, Raccadah. From the square tower at 
this angle the wall runs two hundred and fifty yards in a 
straight line to the north angle, where is another square 
tower. This face of the city wall looks over a few mud 
walls and hedges of prickly pear, but no dwellings. 

The wall now turns to the south-west and runs six 
hundred yards straight to the Keshlah. Midway along 
the great wall are the ruins of a vaulted mud and brick- 
work bastion, projecting sixty yards from it. On its 
platform are a few old rusty guns, and in the city wall 


3o5 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xxv. 

at its back are the traces of a gate which once led to 
the fort, but is bricked up now. 

We sat down to rest in the fort, looking over the 
wide plain which lost itself in haze to the northward. 
Beyond the college and by the trees of the late Kaid's 
garden, two miles off, we could trace the course of the 
river Eoumel. Doubtless the city once extended thither, 
for the Moors were too intelligent to avoid such a blessing 
as a river : they were admirable hydraulic engineers. 

It was hard to picture round these dilapidated 
walls and on this lonely plain the vast and populous 
city of old — to recall, in these wastes of mud walls and 
melancholy prickly pear, the splendour and luxury 
which made this spot the wonder of Africa. Palaces, 
gardens, treasure houses, colleges, shrines, fortresses, 
were here, peopled with the intellectual and mighty 
race, the illustrious Moors. 

As we rested, there came from the great minaret 
the high tenor call of the Mueddin. There was some- 
thing plaintive in the cry from the decayed city on this 
golden afternoon : it seemed like a lament for the lost 
glories of Granada, of Cordova, and of Kairwan. 

At the foot of the walls, and among the tombs of 
the little ruinous cemetery, we found the ice plant 
growing freely, all covered with its transparent glo- 
bules. "We should recommend it to the camels of 
Kairwan on such a glowing day as this. 

3tan0irrt/ii Ar<7^ J'.Mta^* 

Loniiozi: JoKn Marr«)r,jUbenDarle Str««t. 


We moved on to the Keshlah, of which the quad 
rangle projects eighty yards from the main wall, and 
which is entered by the gate I have before referred to. 
The wall then turns to the south for five hundred yards, 
making a sudden bend at the Tunis gate, and half en- 
compassing the outer market place. 

The appearance of an Infidel in his ordinary dress, 
with a large sheet of paper, on which he was recording 
his measurements of their venerated wall, caused dis- 
satisfaction among the people : and they began to 
collect round me. I had sent Perruquier and one sol- 
dier to the silversmith's to get the bracelets, the other 
soldier and the old barber remaining with me. As we 
went on the Moors followed, not liking the proceeding. 
First there was a crowd of fifty, then of a hundred : 
finally I had a mob of a hundred and fifty marching in 
silence on my heels. Whenever I halted, to make the 
measurement from tower to tower or to take an angle, 
they halted too. The whole thing was exceedingly 

First went the old barber, thea the soldier, then I, 
then the mob. At a sudden pause they would almost 
run over one another, and come crowding to look over 
one another's shoulders, wondering what the tall lunatic 
in the F'rank dress was about. Every now and then 
came a murmur suggestive of the Arabic word for brick- 
bats, and I still think that if one of them had picked 


3o8 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xxv. 

up a stone, many more would have done the same. 
It seemed a droll thing to be marching round the 
walls of an old sacred city in Barbary, with a crowd 
of men about me, satisfied in their consciences that I 
had no right to be there, and yet none of them molest- 
ing me. The boys and youths were disposed to grow 
insulting. We traversed in this way the broad southern 
end of the city : the wall is turreted at intervals, 
the so-called suburbs lying under it to our right. We 
passed the Mosque of the Olive Tree, the Bab el Djedid, 
the Miauhhat of this quarter, and rounded the south- 
east angle near the Bab el Djuluddin. 

From this gate the walls curve gently round to the 
Bab el Khaukh. We passed the great dry reservoirs, 
mentioned already, to our right hand. Of these the 
Arab historian Abulfeda writes : 'Incolap urbis Kairwan 
bibunt aquam pluvialem quas hyemali tempore colligitur 
in piscina magna dicta Elmawahel, id est cistenaa.' They 
are used for prayer gatherings on the solemn feast days, 
such as that of L'Hayd Saghir, the three days' rejoicing 
after Ramadhan — or the Leylet al Moolid, the anniver- 
sary of both the Prophet's birth and death. This occurs 
on the twelfth day of the month of Rabia Awwal — 
corresponding this year to our April 18. As the Arabic 
months revolve through the year, like the precession of 
the equinoxes — only they retrograde, and accomplish 
their circle in thirty-three years and a half — the Pro- 


phet could never have known with any accuracy, unless 
he kept an astrologer, when his birthday was to come 

Here the crowd, who had fancied I would enter by 
the Gate of Skins, which would lead me to the Raid's 
house, began to think that I was not going to stop, 
but circumambulate the walls without end. They 
began to draw back and curse or insult me : and when 
I had gone fifty yards further they stopped and raised 
a cry, a kind of groan and yell in one, which their 
pent-up feelings gave a remarkable vigour to. This 
encom-aged passers-by, and they too cried and hooted : 
KaU) ! Khansir ! Kafir ! Yahudi ! There would have 
been no satisfaction in putting twenty or thirty to death 
where all were equally interested : and I reflected, too, 
that I had no special African evangelising mission which 
would have justified me in making war on my own 
account — so I went tranquilly on, and terminated my 
labours where I had begun. 

We entered by the beautiful Gate of the Greengages 
and returned by the Dyers' Quarter to the Raid's house. 
I have no doubt that the crowd fully expected me round 
again later, like the sun, and that they waited for my 
next revolution, with little piles of stones and fragments 
of brick and mortar laid by. 

Sir GrenviUe Temple says : ' The city is surrounded 
by a crenellated wall, and its suburbs by another : it 

310 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xxv. 

seems to form a square.' He makes a mistake — not a 
common event with him — for the suburbs are sur- 
rounded by no wall : indeed, they are so poor that 
no one would ever think them worth surrounding 
with a wall. As to the form of the city, it is a little 
squarer than a tomato, but not so square as a pear. 
I found the total circuit of the walls to be about 
three thousand five hundred yards : when Moez ibn 
Badis rebuilt them in 444 of the Hejra, their measure 
was eleven thousand yards. 

I found Perruquier at the Kaid's, in a state of high 
excitement. He had been threatened in the bazaars, 
and had to escape to the house. I at first wondered at 
the success and celerity of his flank movement, but 
afterwards recollected that he had served in the Mobile 
Guard during the defence of Paris. But for the ex- 
perience acquired in the exercise of his military pro- 
fession, the ex-Mobile might have fallen a victim to the 
immortal principle of the pursuit of knowledge — a 
principle to which I was ready to sacrifice his life, and 
he mine. 

Anecdote. — Perruquier, having in his boyhood re- 
ceived some slight instruction in the form of drill, was 
out one day during the siege with several comrades, 
going through musketry drill. Present arms 1 said 
the corporal. You are wrong, he said, as Perruquier 
presented arms in a manner that seemed unusual : do it 


again. I shan't, said Perruquier — you are wrong your- 
self. Perruquier was brought before the adjutant. You 
are disobedient ? said the adjutant. The corporal 
doesn't know how to present arms, said Perruquier. Let 
me see you both do it, said the adjutant. You are 
appointed caporal instructeur, he said to Perruquier : 
Corporal, you may return to the ranks. 

It appears that, as Perruquier sat in the bazaars, a 
fanatic with a drum made his appearance, and at the 
sight of the Kafir went off into uncontrollable hysterics. 
jNIalediction ! he yelled. Christians in our city I There 
is no justice. Grod will punish us. A curse on them ! 
A curse on them ! 

The caporal instructeur had other information too. 
He had heard of a vast subterranean city, thirty-six kilo- 
metres from Kairwan, forming large mounds and con- 
taining vaulted chambers. We called in the attendants, 
who confirmed all he said. They had not been there, but 
were satisfied the underground city existed. Finally 
two men came in who had been there. The city was 
called Ain el Hammam, or the Well of the Bath. On 
second thoughts its extent was not great, and, on ques- 
tioning, it was possible the buried city might represent 
a series of cisterns or baths. It happens that eight 
leagues or nearly thirty-six kilometres from Kairwan, 
there are the warm baths of Hammam Truzza — the 
Turzo of Ptolemy — where are hot springs, much fre- 

312 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap, xxv, 

qiiented formerly by Moors from all the Eegency. They 
are described as vaulted chambers full of sulphureous 

It appeared there was in the bazaars a pretty 
generally favourable opinion regarding my visit. He 
may be a worthy Infidel, the Moors said, whom it has 
pleased the Prophet to send here, that he may see our 
faith and be converted. The Kaid and Mudabbir came to 
pay a farewell visit. The Mudabbir told me that there 
was no wish for a telegraph line to Kairwan. That 
from Susa was not distant, and news came quite fast 
enough for the Holy City of the Mughreb. A railway 
would, of the two, be less unwelcome. 

The Kaid asked me when I wished to leave. I 
said. Three hours before sunrise on the following day. 
The gates are not opened until six, he said : but I will 
order them to be kept open for you. Eventually we 
decided to send the cattle to a foudouk near the outer 
market, and to pass out ourselves by the khaukhat of 
the Bab el Tunes. The Kaid asked what escort I 
should like. I said I cared for none. He insisted : 
said it was necessary, that he was responsible for my 
safety, and at last I agreed to take two horsemen. 
I will write an acknowledgment, he said, which I beg 
you, for my satisfaction, to hand to the soldiers when 
you send them back. Take them as far as Tunis if 
you like. 


After expressing many kind and hospitable wishes 
the Kaid rose to go. He took me by the hand, and we 
walked to the door together. He would scarcely allow 
me to accompany him downstairs : and when we wished 
one another good-bye, the warm-hearted, genial man 
threw his arms round my neck and kissed me re- 

We called in the two shaoushes of Susa, the old 
barber, the soldiers who guarded me in the city, the 
house servants, and all who had done me any service, 
and made them suitable gifts. Then we lay down for a 
short night's rest — the last night in the singular city of 



Issue from the City — Traverse the Plain — Camp of Bedouins — Inter- 
view -with Bedouin Ladies — Halt under Olive Trees — Ruined Tomb — 
Nablus — Hammamet — The Foudouk of Birloubuita — The Dakkhul 
Promontory — ^The Lead Mountain — Suleiman — Gulf of Tunis — flam- 
mam '1 Anf — Rhades — Enter Tunis. 

It was a quarter past two when Perruquier awakened 
me and lighted the candles. The packing was soon 
done. Our sergeants, sleeping in the outer chamber, I 
awakened, to wish them good-bye and to give them an 
acknowledgment of my safety for the Grovernor of 
Susa. A servant lighted us downstairs, and we went 
out. It was moonlight, and the stars shone faintly 
as we passed through the silent street. "We came to 
the Jchaukhat of the Bab el Tunes, and, stooping, 
passed through the wicket. We saw nothing of the 
horses, which were to have been waiting for us here, 
and the servant's shout re-echoed from the wall. 
Everything was very quiet. The grass market was 
empty, and we began to think it not impossible that 
the horses had left for Susa. 

We had had a slight misapprehension with Severio 
Valentino, the muleteer. He had been understood to 


say that unless I started on the previous evening lie 
would not take me to Birloubuita : and I was under- 
stood to say in reply that unless he started whenever I 
pleased, somebody was likely to take him to the Kaid's 
prison in the Keshlah. After this, Severio explained 
that no malice was intended. Perruquier and the 
servant set ofif to hammer at the doors of the various 
foudoiik and to shout : and it seemed rather a foolish 
occupation to be here at three o'clock in the morning 
imder the dark high walls of Kairwan. The footsteps 
died away: it was very cold, and all I could hear 
vms the wind whistling in the muzzle of my gun. At 
last the horses were found : the gates of a foudouk 
were thrown open : two shaoushes on horseback 
galloped up : a few Arabs, muffled up and bearing 
lanterns, came out to see us start, and we set off from 
Kairwan at a rapid trot. 

After an hour we came to a low ruined bridge 
across the Wadi Kantara, so broken and dilapidated 
that, but for its moral effect, it might as well not have 
been there. Mists were rising from the low marshy 
ground and old river bed on either side of it, and water 
stood in pools among the rushes. We traversed the 
low plains of the Bilad Souatir, the shaoushes, with 
their white hooded cloaks and guns, riding in front of 
us. We left to our right a range of low hills. Presently 
a shaoush's horse fell with him, not hurting him much, 

3i6 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xxvi. 

however. Shaoush, perhaps, not much accustomed to 
night expeditions, and caught napping. After three 
hours we pulled up. I handed to the soldiers the 
Raid's receipt for my body, a backshish, and, sending a 
message of thanks to the Kaid, dismissed them. 

The daylight had been advancing for some time, 
the sun rose, and we pushed merrily on. After four 
hours and a quarter we traversed the dry bed of the 
Wadi Beni, the clay banks of which were all baked and 
cracked by the sun. Kound us stretched broad fields 
of long-eared barley, glistening in the sun and shiver- 
ing in the wind. We met a caravan of Arabs, with 
camels laden with pottery from Nablus — dishes, vessels, 
pots, jars, and bottles, all slung in nets from the pack- 
saddles. One Arab wore the prodigious straw hat 
common in the Djerid. 

After five hours and a half, the track turned off 
sharply towards the coast : we were still in the great 
plain of Kairwan. We passed to our left hand the ruins 
of Djebel '1 Emfida. There was a Bedouin douar near 
the track, hedged in by a rough thorn fence : and 
camels were browsing among the barley. The country 
became rather richer, and the crops were considered 
worthy of protection by scarecrows — such scarecrows, 
however, that the Barbary wild fowl must be far 
simpler than our worldly-minded and predatory crows. 

After six hours and a half we passed — half a mile to 


its right — the marabout of Sidi Takrofma, with two 
domes. To the left of the road stood a small ruined 
building of rough stones. Four miles to our right we 
could see a white building on the Susa road, not far 
from the coast. Soon we turned to the northward. To 
the left stood a ruin, and a marabout, in form like a 
Syrian tent — Sidi Wahid Allah. To the right of the 
track lay a low pool or swamp. Bedouins met us, 
driving a flock of black goats, kids with coats silky 
as spaniels', and a herd of dun cattle. The Arabs' 
faces were almost black with exposm-e. Half a mile 
further stood a douar of twelve tents. 

Shortly after this we pulled up at a round cistern 
containing a few feet of water. A Bedouin family were 
grouped round it. The women had tattooed chins, and 
one wore a neck ornament which I should have liked 
to buy, but, alas ! I had scarcely any money lefl. The 
girls were not tattooed : one had a pretty face and dark 
eyes. I gave them all the small money I had, and they 
were very pleased. After ascertaining whence I came 
and whither I was going, they inquired whether I had 
a wife. "When they heard that I was not blessed with a 
mother-in-law, they wished me a wife with immense 
black eyes. As we moved on they wished me repeat- 
edly a fortunate journey, and hoped that their saint, 
the servant of the One God, might take me under his 
especial protection. 

, 3i8 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS, chap. xxvi. 

After seven hours we sighted the blue and stormy 
Mediterranean, about four miles to our right. We 
saw a few marabouts, and passed, a mile to our left, 
the Sisters of Kuda — three round-backed hills, over 
which the strong wind was chasing black shadows. 
We approached two olives, the first trees we had seen 
since leaving Kairwan, and threw ourselves down for 
a rest and food. Perruquier went off with the gun. 
After a single discharge he returned, and when I asked 
afterwards whether he had hit anything, he said he had 
killed a lark. I asked what he had done with the 
body. This Barbary Samoyede had plucked and eaten 
it warm. 

There stood, a quarter of a mile from the track, a 
small ruined building, with remains of others : beside 
it, to the right, were stones and evidences of buildings 
strewn about. The olive trees were tossing their 
branches in the strong wind blowing from the sea, 
which cooled and refreshed us. Twenty English 
miles yet lay before us. After an hour's rest we set 
off again, the horses going well and all the better for 
the halt. We passed quantities of oleander growing in 
shrubs of considerable size. To our right lay a long 
stretch of yellow sand, and patches of turf so level that 
Perruquier, the muleteer, and I might have had an ex- 
cellent game of lawn tennis if there had been more 
time to spare. There came past, from time to time, a 

CHAP. xxTi. MENARAH. 3»9 

caravan of camels — some having loads of palm baskets 
and brushes closely packed upon their humps. 

After nine hours and a half we reached a curious 
round tower on rising ground, built in brick and faced 
with yellow stone in horizontal ribs, standing alternately 
in and out, and giving it the form of a strongly-bound 
coffer dam. Shaw says that two leagues west by south 
from Hammamet was Menarah, a large mausoleum, 
twenty yards in diameter, built like a cylindrical 
pedestal, with a vault beneath : several small altars, 
supposed by the Moors to have been lamps for mariners, 
stood on the cornice. No altars remain now, but the 
building stands in sight of the sea, and might well have 
served as a tomb and beacon. Half a mile to the right 
were yellow ruinous buildings. 

In front we could see the snowy town of Ham- 
mamet — the Dove — the ancient Heraclea, the frontier 
town of the inland district or Zeugitania, and the last 
town northward of the seacoast Province of Byzacium. 
A mile from the shore and a few miles east of Ham- 
mamet, lies the industrious and thriving little town of 
Nablus — close to the site of the ancient Neapolis — 
which sends its pottery into many parts of the Regency. 

Hammamet was distant about three miles from our 
halting place. We could see its brown castle by the 
water, the white houses sloping up the hill behind it 
among a dark stretch of lemon woods. A steamer lay 

320 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. chap. xxvi. 

at anchor loading lemons, which form the principal 
export of the town, and which go all the way to 
America. We had entered upon the Susa road ; there 
was far more traffic than on the plain, and very thank- 
fully we trotted into the courtyard of the white Foudouk 
of Birloubuita, about fifty- five miles distant from 

We started in good time, having sent the Susa 
horses back, and travelling with those which had been 
sent from Tunis to meet me. We left the Dakkhul 
promontory to our right, and made almost due north- 
ward for Suleiman, passing for miles through brush- 
wood and juniper bushes, over a sandy track, and gra- 
dually ascending. We came up among the hills : in 
the fields little goldfinches in yellow and brown plumage 
were fluttering about. Perruquier was pleased to see 
the chardonnerets in such numbers : he said they sang 
well in cages. I wondered whether they sang better in 
cages than out of them, and whether Perruquier would 
sing well in a cage. 

Two hours from the Foudouk brought us near the 
village of Kroumbeliyeh and the olive woods through 
which it is approached. It has a moderate-sized 
mosque. We passed trees of the caroub or locust, 
bushes of oleander and of yellow broom in blossom. 
The Arabs use the charcoal of the oleander wood, mixed 
with tobacco, and apply it as a fomentation in cases of 


rheumatism. In the momitains of the Dakkhul, to our 
right, there used to be many wild boars : the orchilla 
weed also grows plentifully there. Perhaps I shall be 
doing the reader a service by explaining that this weed 
is used as a dyeing material. 

To our left, seven miles away, we saw the massive 
peak of the Lead Mountain, Djebel Eesass, towering 
above the hills. Two miles and a half to our right, 
low down on the plain, was the little white town of 
Suleiman, with five minarets. It lies on the Wadi 
Khalifa, and is inhabited by descendants of Anda^- 
lusian Moors, who, I believe, still retain in a great 
measure the Spanish language. We can see Cape Car- 
thage now, twelve miles off, and the white patch upon 
it — Sidi Bou Said. After three hours' journey we 
approached the southern shore of the Grulf of Tunis. 
We passed fields of aniseed, and hawthorn in blossom, 
with its sweet English scent. Not a very wholesome 
scent, the Moors think, for a sleeping room, and likely 
to cause headache. There were ruins to the right and 
left of the road : by the former stood a single palm tree. 

The dwarf palm grows freely about. This country 
is strewn with ruins : its population and resources must 
have been immense. In another half-hour come more 
ruins to the left. Beyond an olive wood, and in the 
side of the steep hill are great caverns, once quarries, 
hewn in the yellow stone. We can tell our distances 


322 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS, chap, xxvi, 

easily : the telegraph poles are placed just a hundred 
metres apart. We see the Island of Zembra now, away 
to the north-west. Grreat numbers of camels pass us, 
many of them muzzled — biters, no doubt. We round 
a spur of the hills on our left, and reach, after having 
travelled rapidly for four hours and a half, the little 
white town of Hammam '1 Anf, the Ba ^h of the Nose or 

Through it runs a fair road. What I have hitherto 
called a road, was a simple horse or waggon track over 
the hills or plain. The' Bey and Greneral Khaireddin 
have country houses here. The road is one evidence 
of the career Tunis has entered upon — one of progress, 
which is likely to be as materially profitable as artis- 
tically fatal. In half an hour from Hammam '1 Anf 
we reached the Eiver Milianeh, a constant stream, which 
we crossed by a stone bridge. We passed the large 
Foudouk of Shoukh el Ehades, the ancient Ades, where 
Eegulus defeated the Carthaginian Hanno. To our 
left were the hills where Hanno was simple enough to 
post his elephantry, and the hard-headed Eoman pro- 
fited by his error. The journey came to an end after 
travelling forty-five miles from Birloubuita. We 
entered Tunis by the Bab Aliwa an hour after sunset. 

CHAP. xxvn. A BATH. 323 


A Hammam^A. Negotiation — Leave Tunis — Footsteps of Bruce — A 
Touch of Nature — Sad News —The Last of Perruquier — Cape Car- 
thage — The Malta Channel — A Swell — Cagliari — Amphitheatre — 
Antiquarian Museum — A Visit from Sards — The Colony of Tunis — 
Leghorn — An Incident — Genoa — Paris. 

After a good night's rest I rose early, and, lightly clad, 
made for the baths. Entering the dim and steaming 
chamber, I went to the dressing room, where, propped 
up against the wall, and swathed mummy-like in 
numberless towels, were two benevolent-looking Mos- 
lems enjoying the repose. Hullo, said one of them, 
it's Mr. Eae. This Mussulman was Colonel Playfair. 
He was refreshing himself after his journey with Dr. 
Playfair and Lord Kingston to Zaghwan, which had 
been a great success. 

I was led away into the hot chamber. In this 
cheerful apartment, of which the temperature stood at 
I am afraid to say what, for fear I should be suspected 
of untruth, and of which the steam I inhaled seemed 
to scald my interior, were cells. One of these I 
shared with half a dozen of the most prodigious cock- 
roaches on record. It is clear the cockroach needs 


324 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS, chap, xxvir. 

steam to bring him on, and then he develops finely. 
At table d'hote I asked a pleasant Englishman with 
whom I had had many conversations before leaving 
for Sfax, whether the English bank established here was 
likely to be a failure. Well, I hope not, he said : I am 
the manager. 

In the street leading from the consulate to the 
bazaar I met a Moor. I knew his face well : he had 
more than once offered me confidentially, as a good 
thing, some antiques in carnelian, of recent Neapolitan 
work. He now held out two or three rings. Yes, I 
said : very handsome, I have seen them already — Italian. 
No, no ! he exclaimed. These are, but not this ! pick- 
ing out a Sard intaglio set in gold, with the figure of 
Hector bearing off the arms of Patroclus. Traveller 
(dissembling) : Italian — (hands back ring). Mer- 
chant (seizing his beard) : Mashallah, no ! Traveller : 
Two francs ! Merchant : Seventy francs ! Traveller : 
Five francs I Merchant (making as though about to 
hurry away) : Sixty-five. Traveller : Twenty. Mer- 
chant (returning) : Sixty. Eventually I gave him 
three Tunisian gold pieces, worth about fifteen francs 
each, and was very glad to get the ring. 

This is an immense charm in Oriental life, this 
uncertainty, this competition of intelligences at each 
point. It is an e very-day training in insight, self- 
control, command of feature, in estimating expression 


as a clue to thoughts in others, in judging of the best 
expression for concealing thoughts in yourself, and in 
tact with which to take advantage of manner and ad- 
mission. The repose in an Oriental's countenance, 
especially when he is departing from the truth, is cre- 
ditable and worthy of example. We are too fussy and 
emotional, and allow our expression and words to be- 
tray our meaning : thus we fall an easy prey to the 
self-possessed Oriental. And yet we call him a heed- 
less, thriftless fatalist. 

One story told of Bakkoush in Tunis, was this. 
Many years ago, one of the Bey's ministers, in a 
thoughtless moment, promised him the order of the 
Nischan. Upon going to claim it, he was refused. 
Bakkoush intimated that he was willing to accept either 
the order or a sum of money, but that failing both he 
must complain to the Bey. Eventually his feelings 
were assuaged by a handsome present. This is not so 
good as the story of the Grerman soldier who had dis- 
tinguished himself in the war with France. He was 
offered his choice of the Iron Cross or twenty-five 
thalers in money. He asked the intrinsic value of the 
Iron Cross. They told him about four thalers. Well, 
he said, I tell you what I will do : I will take the Iron 
Cross and twenty-one thalers. 

I prepared to leave Tunis. Colonel Playfair, his 
brother, and Lord Kingston were to sail in the Corsica 

326 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS, chap. xxvn. 

for Susa : and there commence their journey by land 
into the interior. I will make no excuse for referring 
to the result of this journey in the shape of an in- 
teresting and valuable work. Travels in the Footsteps 
of Bruce. Bruce was the pioneer, but his journal was 
never published : his drawings have only now been 
brought to light, and we mpy consider the journeys of 
Bruce and Colonel Playfair as one. The drawings of 
the ruins as they existed a hundred years ago, and 
the account of their present state, link the past with 
the present, and form an admirable archaBological 
picture of perhaps the most interesting region in 
Northern Africa. Colonel Playfair's previous wander- 
ings through the Provinces of Algeria in the track of 
Bruce had been most extensive and laborious : those 
on which he and his genial companion were now em- 
barking represented a circuit of some hundreds of miles 
through this Regency. 

From Susa the travellers proceeded to El Djem, whose 
Amphitheatre rivals that of Rome : thence to Kairwan, 
whither I had only preceded them by a fortnight. From 
Hammam Truzza to Sbaitla, Hammada, Zanfour, Te- 
boursouk, El Baja, and finally through the untravelled 
region of the lawless frontier tribe, the Khomair, inta 
Algeria. Conciliated by good-humoured amusement, 
and by Lord Kingston's unfailing precision as a shot, 
the Khomair were taken by storm with a pot of jam. 


They would hardly part with the travellers. They 
offered them lands, wives, sheep, and begged to be 
allowed at least to escort them to the end of their 
journey. There are little weaknesses which make 
the whole world akin. Chocolate is the way to one 
person's heart, green figs to another's : black currants are 
the high road to the affections of the rugged Khomair. 
I may be allowed, to express a hope that his journey 
will tempt the author of Mr. Murray's Gruide to Al- 
geria to make known in a similarly interesting way 
the byeways, cities, and ruins of this adjoining province 
of Barbary. 

A year after this I was grieved to hear from Mr. Bury, 
an English merchant well known in the Eegency, that 
the poor Arabs of the Sahel were starving. Eain, as had 
been anticipated and dreaded, absolutely failed. The 
crops of com, olives, and vegetables came to nothing. 
Poor creatures, men, women, and children, roamed 
like caravans of shadows up- and down the country, 
seeking for work and for food. Unless the Government, 
as they readily can, take such matters up, this terrible 
affliction, too probably, will be followed in a year or 
two by typhus or some other deadly scourge. 

We all went down by train to Goletta and put off to 
our respective steamers, which were to sail at the same 
time. Perruquier came into the cabin, and I gave him 
a tolerably good character — a better character, I am 

328 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS, chap. xxvn. 

bound to say, than he strictly deserved — and dismissed 
him. Apart from his merits, I could not help after- 
wards regarding this recommendation as thrown away : 
for by the side of Perruquier's recommendations of him- 
self to future travellers, mine could only sound mean 
and flat. 

We steamed out of Tunis Bay, under the cliffs of 
Cape Carthage, sighted the palms and buildings of 
Biserta, and ere nightfall were out in the Malta 
Channel. The Lombardia lurched and swung in the 
heavy swell from the gale of the previous days : and 
the saloon was soon emptied of passengers. In the 
morning we were moored in the little harbour of 

There had sat opposite to me at dinner, and had 
strutted about the deck till it grew too rough, a swell : 
an Italian swell, of the highest Tuscan order. His 
wristbands of snowy linen covered his hands to his 
knuckle-joints, and were fastened by prodigious solitaire 
buttons bearing a coronet. The cuffs barely left room 
to display a diamond ring. His finger-nails were on 
the same scale as the cuffs, and would have been the 
envy of a mandarin : between the two longest he 
generally carried a cigarette. Upon his nose he wore 
daintily a double eyeglass. His collars were tall and 
vast, so that he could barely put his hat on : in fact, 
everything about him was on the same imposing scale. 

CHAP. xxvn. CAGLIARI. 329 

The heels of his boots were tall and tapering : he saun- 
tered with his toes well turned out. His clothing in- 
clined rather towards the English fashion, and when on 
deck he was not himself till he bore on his head an enor- 
mous roimd Highlander's bonnet, standing well up, and 
having a large red tuft in the centre. 

This picturesque creature invited me to go and 
spend the day with him on shore, and we strolled 
together up the steep streets of this sort of seedy and 
decaying Malta. The fortifications, apart from the 
natural strength of the place, are of little value. The 
panorama from a terrace garden above is very beautiful. 
We came to the post office, and my companion took 
from his pocket a pocket book decorated with a coronet. 
Do me the pleasure, he said to the clerk, to look for 
a letter addressed to the Conte Bianco. When the 
clerk handed him his letter, his bow and smile were 
beautiful. Grazie tante ! Thanks, so many ! he said. 
This was his favourite expression to anybody from 
whom we asked our way or anything else. Grazie 
tante, I take, therefore, to be a term in use among the 
more select nobility of Italy. 

I took him to lunch, and he protested with much 
elegance against my paying. We went to a glove shop, 
and he was in despair because the provincial shop- 
keeper had only gloves with three buttons, whereas, as 
he told me, he never wore any with less than four. I 

33tt THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS, chap. xxvn. 

took him past the barracks, where some recruits were 
hard at drill, down to the Eoman Amphitheatre, near 
the Convent of the Capuchins. The Conte Bianco was 
less at home here than on the pavements of the town, 
and we did not stay longer than was necessary. We 
went again through the streets, to the Cathedral, and 
to one or two silversmiths' who sold peasants' filigree 
ornaments. Then, as a little of this entertaining idiot 
went a long way, I gave him the slip and came on 
board the Lombardia. 

I went to the Museum in the afternoon, which is 
a creditable little collection of gold work, very early 
iron ornaments, local Phoenician scarabsei, lamps in red 
white and black clay, some of them doubled-necked : 
many Sard idols in bronze, very rude and extravagant 
in form, like Mexican gods : some vast cinerary or grain 
jars, and pointed wine jars : many small urns in glass 
and earthenware, some containing bones and ashes, 
enclosed in earthen urns. There were old Phoenician 
glass vessels of all forms and in marvellous colours : 
Homan mosaic, sculptures, marbles inscribed in Latin 
and Phoenician characters, and many old gems. Sar- 
dinia is rich in ruins, tombs, stone monuments, and all 
those good things which make an antiquary's mouth 
water, and bring into the antiquary's face that look of 
languor which betrays the internal workings of his 


After dinner, as we sat on deck, there came on board 
four of the most primitive and simple peasants in the 
world, dressed after the manner of the Sards in black 
jackets, snowy white shirts, long tasseled tarbooshes, 
and having their faces closely shaved. One peasant, 
who must have been of a considerable age, wore 
a cloak of unwashed sheepskin. As they came on 
board they made low bows to me, whom they took to 
be the spirited proprietor of the steamer, and asked if 
they might look round. I took off my hat, and said 
with affability that they were very welcome : then they 
went about the deck softly, like cats on a new carpet, 
with a surprised and innocent smile. They examined all 
the objects on deck, and their questions were frank 
and void of compliment. 

Contadino : Where does this thing come from ? 
Traveller : From Tunis. Contadino : Tunis belongs to 
Emmanuele ? Traveller : Not yet — by and by. Con- 
tadino : Ah, good. What's this ? Traveller : A compass, 
to guide the ship. Contadino : That's odd — I don't 
believe it. WTiat's this ? Traveller : The rudder wheel, 
to turn the ship with. Contadino : I don't think so 
much of that. What are you ? — turning to a young 
Tunisian in native dress — a boy or a girl ? Tunisian 
blushes. Contadino, holding him up to ridicule : What 
a dress ! I don't think much of him. What's that 
thing ? Traveller : An Italian book. Contadino, 

332 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS, chap. xxVil 

examining the book upside down, and noticing the 
defaced paper cover : A book, eh ? I don't think much 
of it. Their grateful bows when they took their leave 
were splendid : and on the whole they were a great 

Talking of Tunis, there is a Cagliari newspaper, 
which bears the title of Avvenire di Sardegna e 
Corriere della Colonia di Tunisi, which is not a bad 
example of effrontery. There is a strong feeling, not 
always confessed, among the Italians for the annex- 
ation of Tunis. An ancient province, which their an- 
cestors were the first to colonise, and which bears at 
every point the traces of those early settlers — geogra- 
phically situated almost adjacent to their kingdom — 
connected by conomerce, and containing a greater number 
of their countrymen, as settlers, than of any other Euro- 
pean race — it does not seem an unnatural aspiration. 
When the Fiat Lux comes in the East, and the time 
arrives for making things comfortable in the Mediter- 
ranean; when Constantinople is secured to Turkey, 
Egypt allotted to England, Tripoli to Germany, Syria 
to France : the moment will have arrived for gracefully 
handing over Tunisia to Italy. 

The Lomhardia was loading numerous bales of cork, 
with which the island abounds. The sun had set two 
hours before, and we sat on deck chatting in the lantern 
light. At midnight we sailed, and by daylight were 


well along the coast. It is far less fine than the neigh- 
bouring island of Corsica, along which we coasted in 
the afternoon and night. At early morning we were at 
anchor in the harbour of Livorno. As the Lombardia 
was not to sail for G-enoa before midnight, I transferred 
my effects to the Pyroscafo Galileo Galilei, lying 
alongside of us, which would sail at ten in the 

I went on shore to get a newspaper, which had been 
rather a scarce object of late. There was a good and 
characteristic incident in the Gazzetta cU Livorno. 
Two gentlemen had met and quarrelled in a cafe. 
B had said that A was a rogue and adventurer : A 
had pulled B's nose. B challenged A to a duel. A, 
being a married man with a family, refused to go out. 
B sent Baron C and Captain D to A to provoke him 
into accepting the challenge, without success. Here- 
upon the Baron and Captain wrote a letter to the Gaz- 
zetta. After recapitulating with candour what had taken 
place, they went on to say : We therefore hereby declare 
that Sig. A is a dastard, devoid of the principles of 
honour, and that Sig. B, who has behaved as a man of 
courage and rectitude, issues from the affair with spot- 
less honour. These gentlemen add their names in full : 
Baron C, &c., &c. ; Capt. D, Commandante of so-and- 
so, in the service of S.M. il Re d' Italia. Had I not 
lost the newspaper, I should have been happy to repro- 

334 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS, chap, xxvii. 

duce their names, as a further advertisement for two 
gentlemen anxious to be known as cowardly bullies 
and abettors of assassination. Thank Heaven, English- 
men don't thus understand the meaning of the word 

The Pyroscafo Galileo Galilei, a fine, powerful 
paddle steamer, steamed out along the coast in the warm 
haze of a Mediterranean morning. In the afternoon we 
entered the crowded and inconvenient harbour of 
Grenoa. I left Genoa at midnight by the International 
Mail train. 

It was a warm and lovely day as we approached 
the Alps. At Chambery were the willow trees and 
poplars of that beautiful valley : and among the fruit 
trees and their rich blossom, watching the swift-rush- 
ing river and splendid ring of mountains, were the 
first French gendarmes. They cannot be Eepublicans, 
those men of stately aspect, and magnificent uniforms 
which grow not old nor shabby. Those padded bosoms 
must hide Imperialist hearts — those cocked hats can 
be the emblems of neither Liberty, Equality, nor Fra- 
ternity. We passengers slept peacefully through the 
night, and the International Mail train shot into the 
Lyons terminus at Paris within five minutes of its 
appointed time. 

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