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MAY 31971 ]} 


^''1^/ry OF TO?*'"" 

( iii ) 


Clemens Lamping, the author of the first part of this 
little volume, is a young lieutenant in the Oldenburg 
service, who, tired of the monotonous life of a garrison, 
resigned his commission in Jvlj, 1839, and went to 
Spain to win his spurs under Espartero. Unfortunately 
he Avas detained by contrary winds, and arrived just as 
the treaty of Bergara had put an end to the war. 

After spending six months at Madrid in abortive 
attempts to join the army in Arragon, then the seat of 
war, he resolved to go to Africa, and take part in the 
French crusade against the infidels. He accordingly 
went to Cadiz, encountering many adventures on his 
way through La Mancha and Andaluzia, and thence 
to Algiers, where he entered the foreign legion as a 

After two years of danger and hardship, the author 
returned to Oldenburg, having lost many illusions, and 
gained some experience. His sovereign restored him to 


his former grade in the service of Oldenburg, where 
he sits at his ease by his own fireside, and relates his 
adventures to his friends. 

Lieutenant Lamping's Reminiscences are followed by 
the abridgement of a narrative of five months' captivity 
among the Arabs, by M. de France, a lieutenant in the 
French navy. The author modestly assures his readers 
tliat he is better skilled in the management of a ship 
than of his pen, and that his book would never have 
been published but at the request of his friends. It has 
nevertheless reached a second edition in France. 

L. D. G. 





Coleah— Arab Coffee-houses— The Hakim's — Court of Justice — Arab 
Women and Domestic Life — Marriages — False alarm— Sofi the 
Modem Hafiz — Grief for the departed glory of the Moors — Abu- 
beker's piety rewarded ••...... i 


Algiers— The Poetry of the Galleys— Bath— Palace at Mustapha 
Superieur— General Von Hulsen — I join the Foreign Legion — 
French colonisation in Africa — Hassan, the coffee-house keeper . 15 


Dschigeli — The Foreign Legion — Climate — Attack of the Kabyles on 
the Blockhouses — Massacre of a Kabyle Village — Samoom — Homeric 
Fight — Death of my Friend— Fort Duquesne — Formidable Starfish 
— Shipwreck — Engagement with the Kabyles — Escape of the Pri- 
soners — Burial of their Dead ...... 22 


Budschia — Monkeys — March to Buterback — General Bugeaud — 
Algiers — Lord Exmouth and th- Dey — Progress of civilization aid 
jollity among the Arabs of both sexes — Songs .... 34 


March to Delhi Ibrahim — Horrible scene — Blidah — Colonne Expedi- 
tionnaire — Dukes of Nemours and Aumale — Pass of the Col de 



Mussaia — Medeah — Arab burial-grounds — Marabout in the moun- 
tains — Taking of Callah — March through the Desert — Destruction 
of Abd-el-Kader's castle — Milianah — Night march — Sight of the 
Sea .... 41 


Arab Valour — Abd-el-Kader — Snakes — Burning the Crops — Roman 
Bridge — The Duke of Aumale falls sick — Plundering of a Kabyle 
Village — The Prisoners — The Queen's Tomb — Her royal crown — 
Inexpediency of turning the sword into a ploughshare . . .64 


Inspection of our Regiment — Military intendants — HSpital du Dei/ — 
Its inmates — Eastern Garden ....... 76 


Voyage to Mostaganem — Storm — Funeral at sea — Landing — Bivouac 
Matamon — Bey of Mostaganem — Arabic music — Captain Lievre — 
African spring — French and Arab Soldiers .... 79 




Life on board the brig — Expedition up the country — Am noosed by 
the Arabs — They contend for the pleasure of cutting off my head — 
Adda sends me to Abd-el-Kader — The head — Painful journey — Ar- 
rival at Abd-el-Kader's camp . . . . . . . O'j 


Reception at Abd-el-Kader's camp — Description of Abd-el-Kader 
— His tent — Unexpected meeting with M. Meurice — Abd-el-Kader's 
officers ........... 100 


Mem^ice's story — The camp and the soldiery — The Adventures of a 
German renegade — Arab horses — Prayers — The Sultan's band of 
music ........... 106 


French deserters — Sardinian prisoners — Their story — Letter to Algiers 
— Raising the camp — Abd-el-Kader — ^The only cannon — The Bey 
ofMostaganem — Return to El-Kaala . . . . . .113 


Method of cooling a tent — Abdel-Kader's munificence — Tribute paid 
in kind — A good dinner — Coffee — Supplies from Morocco— Letter 
from General Le'tang — Arab foray — Prisoners — The beautiful black 
slave girl . . . . . . . . . .1.0 


Revolt of Abd-el-Kader's uncle — His letter — Jews — Attack on the 
Beni-Flitas and Houledscherifs — Horrible execution of a prison *r — • 
Vermin — Tekedemta — Letter from the Arab prisoners at Marseilles 127 




Paiins of Tekedemta — Abd-el-Kadcr's schemes— Attempt to convert 
Hie — More tribute — Terms of Exchange — Tumblers and Singers — 
Eestoration of Tekedemta 134 


Marches— The five marabouts- Cards and chess— Night March— The 
Sultan's arrival at the camp— His wife— Female camp — Raka the 
cupbearer— Abd-el-Kader's Court of Justice . . .141 


Offers of exchange— Report of the death of the King i • France— Fes- 
tivities — Sham fight — Two French soldiers — M. Lanternier — 
Meurice gets worse — Baths at Mascara — Lanternier's prison — His 
wife and daughter sent to the Emperor of Morocco — Little Benedicto 149 


Prison at Mascara— Death of Meurice— Lanternier joins us— Four 
new prisoners— Their adventures— Our way of passing our time — 
Conversation of the Prisoners— Fourteen heads— The Italians . 15S 


Departure from Mascara — Striking scene — Milianah— Moussa the 
renegade— His lettei— The Rliamadau— Delays— The Bey of Mili- 
anah— Setting out for Algiers— The Bey's daughters— First sight o. 
Algiers— Fresh delays and disappointments — The Hakem's hos- 
pitality — Arrival at Algiers— Benedicto— The Arab prisoners at 
Marseilles IC5 



Coleah — Arab Coffee-houses — The Hakim's — Court of Justice — Auab 
Women aud Domestic Life— Marriages— False Alarm— Sofi the Modern 
Hafiz— Grief for the Departed Glory of the Moors — Abubeker's Piety 

Coleah, September, 1841. 
At last, my dear friend, after so many hardships and such various 
wanderings, I have leisure to write to you ; and I have much, 
very much, to tell. The events of my life have lately followed 
each otiier in such rapid succession, that the dangers and sor- 
rows of tlie noble, much-enduring Odysseus, nay, even the im- 
mortal adventures of the valiant Kiiight of La Mancha, are mere 
child's play in comparison with my own. 

Since the month of April we have scarce had time to take 
breath ; so rapidly did expedition follow expedition, and razzia 
razzia. The new Governor, Bugeaud, naturally enough wishes 
to show that he is equal to his post. His predecessor, Vallee, 
drew upon himself the imputation of indolence, but no one can 
deny to Bugeaud the possession of great energy and untiring 
activity. He encounters the Arabs with their own weapons, 
harassing tiiem with incessant attacks, and burning and plun- 
dering the whole country. We have made two very imi)ortant 
expeditions ; the first against Thaza, a strong fortress belonging 
to Abd-el-Kader, situated on the borders of the desert. After 
destroying this place, we returned through the iron gates (partes 
de J'er) to our own camp; tliis expedition occupied about four 



weeks. A few days afterwards M'e started again to throw provisions 
into INIilianali, and to lay waste the plains of the Chellif witli fire 
and sword. It was exactly harvest time. In order to cut off from 
the Bedouins all means of existence, it was of course necessary 
to drive away their cattle and to burn their corn. Before lou"- 
the wliole plain looked like a sea of fire, 

Tliese expeditions, sent out in the very hottest season of the 
year, Iiad such an effect upon the health of tlie soldiers, that the 
Governor was compelled to allow them a short rest. The regji- 
ment to which I belonged had scarcely a third part fit for 
service, the other two-tiiirds were either dead or in the liospital. 
"NVe were accordiuolv sent to Coleah to recruit our stren<>-t]i. 

You will have a tolerably correct idea of our recruiting quar- 
ters when I tell you that one day is passed on guard, another 
in reconnoitring the enemy for several hours, and the third in 
working at the dry ditch (a sort oi pendant to the great wall of 
China) intended to defend the plain of the ]\Ietidja against any 
sudden attacks of the Iladjutes. I assure you, however, that we 
think this life vastly agreeable, and consider ourselves as well off 
as if we were in Abraham's bosom. There was a time, indeed, 
when I should not have been quite so contented with my lot, but 
every thing is relative in this best of all possible worhls. 

Coleah is a true Arab town, which stands on tlie south-eastern 
declivity of the Saliel range of mountains, in a charming little 
nook, and is well supplied with water. 

We are only twelve leagues from Algiers ami about tliree 
from the sea, the proximity to which makes the place extremely 
healthy. The constant sea breeze renders the heat even of this 
season quite tolerable. 

At t.ur feet is stretchcfl tlie Vftst plain of the ]\Ietidja bounded 
by the blue hills of the lesser Atlas range. We are quartered 
in a fortified camp outside tiie town, on a small eminence whicli 
Cdmrnands it. Of course all tlie gates of the town and the 
market-place are guarded by our troops. My leisure hours, 
which, indeed, are not too many, are generally ji.i-scd in sainifer- 
ing aljout the streets. 

The inhabitants of Coleah are pure descendaiiis oi ilic Moors, 
and sfill retain some traces of their former refinement; you must 
not confound them with the Bedouins and Kabyles, who always 


liiive been, and still are the lowest in point of civilisation. I 
have nowhere found the Arab so polislied and so attractive as at 
Coleali, not even at Algiers and Oran ; in those towns, their 
intercourse with the French has called forth all their rapacity, 
and spoiled the simplicity of their manners. It is a remarkable 
fact that in all these towns near the sea the Spanish language 
is still spoken, of course in a most corrupt dialect ; a proof that 
some connection with Spain has constantly existed — often, no 
doubt, a very reluctant one on their parts : as in the reign of 
Charles V., who conquered great part of this coast. 

To me this is very welcome, as it enables me to talk with 
the Arabs ; it is not however easy to enter into conversation 
Avith them, as they are almost always silent and reserved towards 
strangers. In order to get them to talk it is necessary first to 
inspire confidence. 

All my spare time is passed in the Arab cofiee-house, the 
resort of the fas^hion and aristocracy of Coleah, and I have 
already succeeded in making some acquaintances. I have even 
obtained marks of evident goodwill from them by my earnest 
and sympathising attention to their singers and story-tellers, who 
never fail to attend the best coffee-houses. 

The clerk of the Ilakim (the chief magistrate"* is a great 
friend of mine. He is an exceedingly well-informed man, and 
with you he would be called " Mr. Secretary." He knows the 
whole Koran by heart, besides a host of Persian poems. 

Like everv^ man of sense he is exceedingly modest, lamenting 
his ignorance, and inqtiiring diligently into our European habits 
and manners. I have occasionally had tiie pleasure of seeing my 
friend Ben Jussuf (for that is his name) occupietl in the fulfil- 
ment of his duties as clerk. Every Friday is kept by the Arabs 
as a holiday on which markets are held and judgments given. 
On tliis day the Hakim sits in the public place before the great 
coffee-house, and holds his court ; on his right hand stands his 
clerk who commits his judgments to paper, and on his left the 
executioner who inflicts the punishments awarded by the Hakim 
on the spot. This generally consists in some fifty or hundred 
strokes of the bastinado, and sometimes even in death ; the latter, 
however, only for political offences, such as treasonable corre- 
spondence with the enemy, &c. Should the case be doubtful, tlu- 



Hakim orders a certain number of strokes of the bastinado to be 
given to both parties, and takes to himself the object of contention, 
generally a sheep or a donkey — a ])rocee(ling only differing from 
our own inasmuch as it lias the great advantage of being more 
summary. If any one is too profuse in liis excuses, the Hakim suys 
to the executioner, " Give my comrade (among tlie Arabs every 
one is a comrade) some thirty strokes of the bastinado, to teach 
liim not to confuse me any more with his ingenious evasions." 
In this country, you see, an advocate's fees would not be very 

Coleah is held in great reverence by the Arabs as it contains 
Abd-el-Kader's vault, in which are deposited the bodies of 
several members of his family. The French have spared this 
tmnb, in consideration of which Abd-el-Kader has vowed 
never to attack the town or its immediate neiglibourliood. 

The Hakim belongs to the family of tlie Emir, and is very 
rich : tlie sheath and handle of his yataghan are of pure gold, 
and his horses the finest I ever saw. He is the ideal of a noble 
Arab — terrible to his enemies, hospitable and muniHcent 
to his friends, and especially charitable to the poor. I 
have seen him during the great fast, when the Maliomedans 
may eat nothing till after sunset, call together some thirty 
beggars every evening before his door, bring tliem fooii, and 
wait upon them himself with the lielp of lus tlirec grown 
up sons. 

The beggars feasted upon kuskussu (porridge made with 
barley meal) and ])aked mutton with great dignity and grace; 
and wlien they were satisfied they rose, kissed the Hakim on the 
shoidders and cheeks, and departed. The most contradictory 
(|ualities are often unitetl in the Arab nature — harshness and 
l)enevolence, cruelty and generosity, rapacity and mut)ifi(!enre : 
we should beware how we condemn them witliout furtlicr know- 
ledge of their character, and we must on no account measure 
them by our Christian and European standard. 

The great fast of tlie Maliomedans. which lasts forty days, 
began a fvw days ago. During all this time the Arabs eat 
nothins: during the whole flay, and are especially enjoined l)y 
'he Prf)pliet to be constant in devotion and to give freely to the 
poor : — tainl the Arab is a verj- strict observer of all his religious 


duties. Three times a day, at the hours of sunrise, mid-day, 
and sunset, tlie loud voice of the marabout, or priest, is heard 
from the minaret of the mosque sununoning- tlie faithful to 

The moment the Arab liears the call of the marabout lie 
throws himself upon the earth, wherever he may chance to be, 
and touches the ground witli his brow, then rising' again he 
stretches his arms toward heaven with liis face turned in the 
direction of Mecca. His white flowing bernouse and his lono: 
beard give him a venerable and patriarclial air. Thus, surely, did 
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob worship their God. The Arab has 
no hesitation in performing his devotions in the presence of the 
crowd, and is totally without either the false shame or the re- 
ligious hypocrisy of an European. 

Most Mahomedans wear a rosary of beads, which tliey tell 
while repeating sentences out of the Koran ; to this is usually 
appended a large brass comb, with which they comb their 
beards during their orisons with the most solemn earnestness. 
Tlie impression produced by this on Eluropeans is highly comical, 
but to the Mahomedan it seems natural enough, as any puri- 
fication of the body, such as combing and washing, are to him 
in themselves religious acts. 

They are by no means behind us in superstition, and fre- 
quently hang, as an amulet round the neck of a favourite horse, a 
leathern bag containing some verses out of the Koran, to protect 
them from evil machinations. 

The Arab is great and admirable at the hour of death. I 
have seen many Arabs die, but never did I see one beg his life 
or utter any unmanly comjjlaint. AVhen his hour is come he 
recommends his soul to 3Ialioincd, and dies. 

They have physicians only for external injuries or for fevers 
incidental to the climate : when one of them is attacked by an 
internal disorder or by the decrepitude of age, his relations 
quietly leave him to his fate, and no one troubles his head about 
him again. 

It was but a few days ago that I saw an Arab die thus on the 
threshold of his own house : he had already lain there some 
days with his bernouse drawn over his head. "When he fell the 


approach of death he exclaimed with a loud voice, '• Mahoiued ! 
Mahomed ! " and died. 

The burial is conducted much in the same manner as with us. 
The corpse, rolled in a mantle, and with the face uncovered, is 
borne to the grave by four men. The priest who walks before 
it sings a song to which the others respond in chorus : but 
tlieir song is cheerful, and their step quick ; for the departed 
has quitted the hardsliips and sorrows of this life, and now rests 
in Paradise beside a shady fountain, served by women whose 
beauty is unfading. 

After the corpse has been lowered into it, the tomb is carefully 
bricked up, in order to prevent the jackals and hyaena.s from 
scratcliing up the body. Tlie mourners then sit round the grave, 
and one of the near relations of the deceased gives to every one 
present a piece of bread and some fruit. 

The fair sex is not altogether fair here, at least in my opinion. 
No one can deny tliat the Arab women have graceful figures 
and regular features, but tliey want those essential requisites of 
beauty — a soul and individual expression. They arc all exactly 
alike, and their faces express but two passions — love and hate ; 
all nicer shades of feeling are wanting. How, indeed, would 
it be possible for them to acquire intellectual or bodily culti- 
vation, when the greater part of their time is spent seated cross- 
legged grinding corn in a Jiand-mill, or asleep? 

The married women are seldom seen out of their houses, and 
then only closely veiled. The young girls, on the contrary, are 
to be found eveiy morning at sunrise outside the gate of the 
town, standing by the fountain, at which they assemble witli 
stimejarson their shoulders, to fetch water for the day's con- 
siunption. This truly Eastern scene calls to mind Rebecca at 
the well, drawing water for her father's flocks. 

If a stranger a.sks a daughter of the town to give him a draught 
of wafer (alni(t), the niaiden readies him the jar with a kindly 
nod ; but wlien he has slaked liis tldrst she pours away the re- 
main(U'r and draws fresh water, for the lips of the infidel have 
polluted it. 

The Arab women wear a white woollen trarment confined under 


tlie breast by a girdle, and a white cloth twisted ruuiid the lKa<l. 
Their ornaments generally consist in rings in their ears and on 
their ankles, which are invariably naked. One cannot deny the 
efficiency of this graceful manner of calling attention to the 
beauty of their feet, which are truly exquisite. These rings, 
among women of tiie lower class, are of silver ; among those of 
the higher class (and here, as in every other countrj-, there are 
distinctions of class), they are of gold. 

A few days ago my friend Ben Jussuf invited me to go with 
him to his house. I, of course, seized with joy this opportunity 
of seeing him in his domestic circle. 

He knocked at the door, which is invariably kept shut by day 
and by night in all Arab houses, a woman shortly appeared and 
inquired who was there ; at Ben Jussuf's ans\>er the door was 
opened, but when the woman saw me with her liusband she in- 
stantly concealed her face, and was about to run away ; my friend, 
however, commanded her to remain. She Mas his wife, and 
besides her he had two others, who were seated cross-legged in 
the court, one of them grinding corn in a hand-mill, the other 
combing the hair of a boy about five or six years old. I 
should have guessed them all three to be at least forty, but Ben 
Jussuf assured me that they were all under five-and-twenty ; 
their faces and figures were withered, and the bloom of youth 
quite gone, their eyes alone still retained their fire. At twenty 
the Arab women begin to fade, and at thirty they are old matrons. 

They all seemed to live in perfect harmony, and the manner 
of the women towards their lord and master was obliging even to 
servilitv. To judge by appearances, it must be easier to keep 
house with three wives than with one ; perhaps the rule '• divide 
et impera" holds good in love as well as in politics, I must 
however confess that I do not envy the ^Nlahomedan gentlemen 
their frigid joys, nor do they seem to find much satisfaction in 
them themselves. 

The women here are mere slaves ; of that chivalrous homage 
paid by the Spanish Moors to their women no traces are left save 
in the songs and poems of the Arabs. 

The children are educated by women up to their seventh 
year ; on reaching that age the boy is put in possession of a bei- 


nouse ami a pony, aiul is no longer allowed to eat with tiie 
women ; should hisfatiier be away he has supreme authority over 
tiie whole houseiiold, not excepting his own mother. 

The manner of arranging a marriage is very simple among 
the Arabs. A man takes a sum of money or any article of value, 
and offers it to whomsoever he happens to meet with, saying, 
" Comrade ! I hear you have a marriageable daughter, give her 
to me as a wife, and take this as a marriage gift." If the other 
thinks the match a suitable one, he replies, '• Yes : here she is, 
take her with you ;" and the marriage is concluded. The lather 
must, however, warrant her to be a maid ; and if the husband 
finds she is not, he takes her home next morning and demands las 
present back again. 

Yesterday we made one of the most interesting reconnoitring 
expeditions in which I have been engaged. These expeditions 
occupy several hours, and are undertaken for the purpose of 
driving the Iladjutes out of the rayons of the blockhouses, and 
the gardens belonging to the town. The Iladjutes inhabit the 
vSahel mountains to the westward of Coleah, and are notoriously 
the most thimish set of fellows in all Africa. They are the 
people who, on the 1st of May, cut otf the heads of about forty 
of our regiment at Delhi Ibrahim. 

We set out before sunrise, and marched down towards the 
IMetidja. I was detached on one side with a dozen others, to search 
the thicket with which all this country is covered. We followed a 
track trodden by wild boasts, for a Inmian foot rarely wanders in this 
place. We suddenly emerged into an open space of about tliirty 
square feet, and as we stepped out of the thicket a large jianther 
stood before us, at about twenty feet distance, and gazed at us 
with a look of nungled wonder and indignation as though he 
would say, " What seek ye in my kingdom ?" AVe, however, 
ai)|)caled to the right of the strongest— two or three muskets 
were instantly levelled anil discliargcd at him, but with one 
bound the panther disjippeared among the bushes. A ball or two 
must have reached him, but if they do not happen to hit him 
on the head, which is his only tender point, he takes no lice<l of 
them. These beasts, and still more hya-nas and jackals, abound 


in this district, as is shown from the ridiculously small price 
which is asked by the Arabs for the skins of these animals. 

The Arab chiefs consider tlie skin of the tiger and the panther 
as one of their principal ornaments. The head of the animal is 
generally fastened to the saddle-bow, (the head and teeth are 
essential,) and the skin waves to and fro with every motion of the 
horse, so that at a distance one might almost imagine that some 
wild beast had just taken a deadly spring upon the rider. 

But to return to my reconnoitring expedition. On coming near 
the plain we turned westward, to pass the gorge in which Coleah 
lies. As there is no lack of Mater here, the most abundant 
vegetation prevails, and we were delighted and astonished at the 
extreme richness of the scene. The luxuriant aloe sends up its 
blossoms to a height of twenty feet, and a species of sedgy rush 
grows as high as a moderate house. 

From thence we turned towards our dry ditch, which is nearly 
finished, and climbed past it up to the very top of the cliain of 
mountains, from whence the sea is visible. Here we found plenty 
of fruit trees, on some of which the fruit was quite ripe ; the 
jtomegranates and the figs were delicious. In this spot the 
commander ordered his troops to halt. After the necessary 
precautions had been taken, we were allowed to gather the fruit, 
and were soon scattered about the gardens in all directions, filling 
our shackos and pocket handkerchiefs. 

After plucking some fine pomegranates, I lay down under a 
shady pomegranate tree, and looked out over the sea. 

I could clearly discern on the blue surface of the sea a ship 
whose prow was directed towards Europe, and whose sails were 
filled by a favourable breeze ; the thought involuntarily occurred 
to me, " Would I were on board tliat ship, sailing towards my 
own home." This indeed looks a little like home-sickness, but 
I know not why any one should be ashamed of the feeling. 
Even Odysseus, the wisest of mortals, was not ashametl to weep 
aloud, and to long after his paternal hearth, his wife, and his 
child ; and why should not I— who am the least wise of men 
— honestly confess that there are moments wlien I also long for 
those who are dear to me ? Besides, I have seen nearly all there 
is to see in Algeria, the future can but be a repetition of the past. 

10 THE FRENCH IN ALGIERS. [chap. i. 

I was on the point of beginning a touching monologue — a 
failing I have long been subject to— when I was startled out of 
my dreams by several shots, and a cry of ^^ Aux armes ! Anx 
arines .'" We all ran to our muskets, and were ready in a mo- 
ment, but the alarm proved a false one. Some twenty Iladjutes, 
who were lying in ambuscade behind a neighbouring hill, had 
fired several shots at our sentinels, who thought a considerable 
force must be concealed there. But the moment we showed 
ourselves the Iladjutes fled towards the open country, chased by 
a squadron of our horse : the Arabs, however, got clear off, and 
the only damage done was to ray monologue, and to the ripe 
pomegranates which I threw away in the hurrj- and confusion. 
It was not till about nine o'clock, just before the oppressive 
heiit of tiie day, that we returned to Coleali. 

The chief wealth of the inhabitants of this town consists in 
large herds of cattle and fruit-tree gardens ; it is surrounded by 
the most magnificent fruit trees as far as the eye can reach. The 
figs and pomegranates are now ripe, and we feast on them luxu- 
riously. I say we, for the most complete community of goods 
prevails among the Arabs and ourselves. The soldier and the 
beggar are born communists. I must say, however, that the 
Arabs do not seem much to relish this same communism, for we 
have several times missed some of our soldiers ; it is true we 
found them again in the gardens, but without their heads. 

The fruit here is at times extremely dangerous to the head, 
and when eaten immoderately, it is equally injurious to the sto- 
mach ; this Ls particularly the case with the figs which produce 
violent thirst, and if this is allayed with draughts of water 
fever and diarrha-a are the inevitable consequences. The fig 
trees bear fruit three times a year, but one of the crops is 
usually of inferior quality : the natives generally g-ather this crop 
and press it into large cakes; when dry these are exceedingly 
wholesome, and form, throughout the year, a favourite dish 
at tlie Arab's table. The pomegranate is a delicious fruit, 
and much less unwholesome. 'J'he oranges are so wholesome 
that any one may eat twenty a day with impunity. Unfortu- 
nately it is not till jN'ovember that they are ripe. 

The wild laurel grows in great quantities near the town, 
and attains a very considerable height ; I can boast of having 


tastetl the fruit of the laurel as well as its leaf. It is about 
the size of a strawberry and very sweet. The sig^ht of a 
laurel tree always recalls to my mind that noble Roman folded 
in his imperial mantle, with the laurel wreathed round his bald 
head. Time was when I would have given the last drop of my 
blood for but one leaf from tliis same laurel wreath ; but I l!a\ e 
now begun to perceive that when one is no emperor but a mere 
corporal of voltigeurs the laurel is only good in soup. 

All Arabs of any education or wealth assemble at the coffee- 
house. To them it supplies the place of theatres and concerts, 
balls and tea-parties. There they spend the whole day, some- 
times staying till past midnight. Tlie coffee-house, like almost 
all other houses in the south, is built round a square court 
paved with white marble, in the middle of which plays a fount- 
ain. Round the court are two rows of pillars supporting the 
women's apartments ; the rooms all look into the court : on the 
outside nothing is to be seen but high dismal walls, for tlie 
Arab does not choose tliat inquisitive eyes should peer into his 
holy of holies. 

The vine or ivy is generally trained up the hou.^e so as to 
shade the whole court, and keep out the oppressive rays of the 
sun. Under tins natural arcade the sons of Islmiael sit on soft 
carpets lazily splashing with their naked feet in the water wliich 
flows from the fountain over the marble tloor. 

Here they imbibe coffee, sherbet, songs, and tales : in short, 
it is a foretaste of Paradise. The coffee is not bad, only that 
they drink it black and have the bad taste to reckon the groun'ds 
the best part of the coffee. Before the slave hands one the 
cup, he stirs it with a reed for fear the dregs should sink to the 

The Arab is a passionate lover of music and poetrj- : the 
coffee-houses are, therefore, never without their poets and storj-- 
tellers. Their songs are monotonous, and they accompany them 
with the mandoline, as in Andalusia. Coleah possesses tlie best 
story-teller and singer in all Africa, so celebrated for the melody 
of his voice as to be called the second Hafiz. 

I must confess that fame has not said too much in his favour. 
His name is Sofi ; at the a^e of thirteen he had the misfortune 

12 THE FRENCH I\ ALGIERS. [chap, l 

to lose a leg in an encounter with the Hadjutes, and since that 
time he has devoted himself entirely to singing and poetry. 1 
never saw an Arab wliose countenance wore so noble an expres- 
sion, or whose features so clearly reflected the feelings of his 
soul. He does not usually come to the coffee-house till after 
sunset : as soon as he is seated the Arabs place themselves in a 
half-circle round him, with their eyes attentively fixed upon 
him. After striking a few notes on the mandoline, he began 
one day to recite a ballad of the great deeds and of the downfall 
of the Moorish kings. It was always the same measure, the 
same tune, sung now in a louder, now in a lower tone, and 
one would have expected its monotony to weary the hearers : 
but not so ; the longer one listened, the more fascinating it 
became. First he sang the conquest of Spain, the battle of 
Xeres, and the death of Don IJodrigo. He then struck the 
cords of the mandoline more loudly, and sang the victories of 
Abd-el-Rahman, and the pomp and glory of Cordova, till the 
eyes of his liearers glistened. V>y slow degrees the notes became 
softer, and his voice trembled as he sang the death of the Aben- 
cerrages, and the shumefnl flight of Boabdil, the last king of 
Granada. The sounds of his mandoline died away, the Arabs 
hung their heads upon their breasts, and the pipes fell from their 

Tlie unfeigned grief of the Moors touched me to tlie heart. 
I told my friend I'en Jussuf, who sat next to me, that I had 
visited the scenes of their former greatness, the palace of their 
kings — the Alluunbra, and the mosque of Cordova, the Kaaba 
of the west. 

Scarcely liad he told this to the otiiers, when they crowded 
ro\ind me begging me to tell all I had seen, and I tiius became 
an involuntary storj'-teller, with l>en Jussuf for my interpreter. 
I gave them an account of the grandeur and beauty of the 
mosque of Cordova, its thirteen hundred columns, and the tombs 
of their kings. I described to tliem the Alhambra, the marble 
lions who keep watch at tlie ])alace gates, the splendid hall 
where the Al)encerrages held tlieir f'eii^ts, and where they 
were barbarously murdered. T told tliem that I myself had 
.«»een the traces of their noble blood whicli time itself had been 
unable to efface from the polishetl marble floor. 


Overcome by the remembrance of the tragical fate of their 
most heroic race, the Arabs covered their faces with their 
bernouses. " Young man." said the Ilakini, kissing my forehead. 
"■ tliank the Prophet that he liath vouchsafed to thee the sight of 
these marvels." 

After a pause the Ilakiui said, •• Friend Sofi, know you not 
gome pleasant storj- which may dissipate the melancholy of our 
comrades, who still sit with drooping heads?" and Sofi, without 
further entreaty, began the following tale. 

" Far beyond Milianah, on tiie banks of the Mina, there once 
lived an Emir, on whom Allah had bestowed eveiy blessing-. 
His life was pure and blameless. He gave the fourth part of all 
he possessed to the poor, and the hour of prayer was more wel- 
come to him than the hour of feasting. This Emir, whose name 
was Abubekr, had a mare which he loved above all other 
things ; she was wliite, without spot or blemish, and more swift 
than the wind of the desert, and she could travel for three days 
without drinking a single drop of water. One evening before 
sun set, Abubekr stood by the brook cleaning his favourite mare. 
He washed lier neck and her haunches, addressing her by the 
most endearing names, and the mare looked in his face with her 
soft expressive eyes as though slie understood ever}' word he said. 
At this moment the marabout called the hour of prayer from the 
minaret, but Abubekr heard him not. At last the sun sank 
down behind mount Alias, and the Emir knew that the hour 
of prayer was past. In despair he cast himself upon the ground 
and cried, ' Woe is me, I have forgotten thee, O Lord the 
creator, for the creature ; have mercy upon me, and graciously 
accept this sacrifice as a token of my repentance.' Having saiil 
this, he took his spear and plunged it into the breast of his mare, 
and she fell to the earth and died. Sorrowful, but conscious of 
havinq^ done aright, Abubekr returned to his dwelling, folded his 
bernouse about him, aud slept. And Allah appeared to 
him in a dream and spake to him thus, ' Abubekr, I have 
proved thy heart, and have seen tliat thou walkest before 
nae justly. I desire not the sacrifices of the just, but 
their gDod deeds, for I am gracious. Arise, thy mare liveth.' 
The Emir started up rejoicing and liastened to the door — there 
steed his darling mare, and neighed joyfully at the sight of him. 


Abubekr prostrated liimself and touched the dust with his fore- 
head, exclaiming-, ' Allah, thy wisdom is infinite, but thy mercy 
is yet greater tiian tliy wisdom !' " 

Farewell. Next week our regiment vill march to Algiers, 
whence it will embark for Oran. 

This letter is accompanied by a brief account of my adven- 
tures from the day on which I landed in Africa until now. 



Algiers — The Poetry of the Galleys — Bath — Palace at Miistapha Superienr — 
General Von Hulsen — I join the Foreign Legion — French Colonisation in 
Africa — Hassan, the Cofiee-house Keeper. 

Mustapha Superieur, August, 1840. 
TVe came in sight of the coast of Africa on the 8th of August 
at nine in the morning. This was the second time I had 
seen it : the first was in the straits of Gibraltar. But I now 
beheld it with far different feelings. I was about to tread 
the land of the Bedouin and of the Kabj'le in the full enjoyment 
of my strength and liberty — perhaps never to return. 

The first step in life is a man's own choice, the second is 
no longer within his control but subject to foreign and often 
hostile influences. 

You may well shake your head, dear friend, reproach me 
as usual with Quixotism, and wonder how it is that the ex- 
perience gained in Spain has not cooled my ardour. I allow it is 
cooled, but not chilled. I have still ardour enough left to venture 
— a true Don Quixote of the nineteenth centurj' — a crusade for 
civilisation and freedom. Forward, then, and let me pass the 
Rubicon, without hesitation. 

The steamboat strove onwards with might and main, the coast 
rose higher out of the sea every moment, and before very long the 
glorious bay in m hich lies Algiers, and the Sahel range of moun- 
tains lay clear before us. The town itself is built in the shape of 
an amphitheatre on the declivity of the Sahel hills, and when seen 
from a distance looks like a huge white pyramid, for the town 
forms a triangle the highest point of wliich is crowned by the 
Casabah — the former residence of the Dey. The bay presents 
an enchanting: scene for a few miles eastward of Algiers. The 

16 THE FRENCH IN ALGIERS. [chap. n. 

sides of the niouiitaiiis are crowded witli beautiful gardens and 
villas built in the noble Moorish style. On the very ridge of the 
Sahel is a semicircular chain of fortified camps and blockhouses 
intended to protect this fruitful district against the inroads ot 
the r>erbers. The harbour is so small that only a few ships can 
ride there, and the greater part are compelled to lie at aiiclior 
outside in the roads. We had scarce dropped one anchor uhen a 
nuniber of small boats surrounded the sliip to convey us asiiore, 
Tlie rowers were galley slaves who, in a melancholy air, kept 
time to the stroke of their oars. The subject of the song was as 
follows: — "An aged galley slave, with the faded ribbon of tlie 
legion of honour on his breast, stands on the pier and looks 
gloomily down upon the sea as though he would fathom its 
depths with his chains. A Marshal of France passes by and seea 
the ribbon on his breast. ' Where,' he asks, ' did you deserve it ?' 
The slave answers gloomily, ' I won it in such a battle ;' and 
the Marshal recognises the man who once saved his life. Fillerl 
\vith gratitude, he entreats the pardon of the king for tiie 
unhappy prisoner, and it is granted." 'J'liis song made an inde- 
lible impression on my mind, and convinced me that even the 
gallevs Jiave a poetry of their own. 

The lower part of tiie town which surrounds the port lias 
already acquired a completely European character. The streets 
of Babazoun and of the Marine are as handsome and as elegant 
as the Boulevards of Paris. Tlie upper town retains its Arab 
colour, and is exclusively inliabited by Moors and Jews. Tiie 
streets are so narrow that it is witii dilKculty that two horses can 
pass in them ; and the Aral)s have no kind of carriages. I was be- 
yond measure surprised at the motley crowd with which I suddenly 
found myself surrounded, and fancied that I must be in a 
querade ; Arabs and Frenchmen, .lews and Italians, Spaniards 
and Negroes were mixed in picturesque confusion. Next door 
to an elegant French milliner, an Aral) barber w.'is sliaving tlie 
iicads of his fellow-countrj-men, and an Italian restaurant, who 
extolled his maccaroni to every passer-by, was the neighbour of a 
]\[oorish slipper-maker. Everything wore a martial aspect, troops 
were landing, and horse-soldiers galloping about the streets; 
in short, I soon perceived that the gay scene around nie was no 
carnival nuTrv-niakinsr. 


In order to get rid of the uncomfortable feelings left by a sea 
voyage I wished to take a bath, and asked the first man I met 
where one was to be found. A good-natured, talkative French- 
man pointed out a Moorish bath to me in the very next street 
and on my way thither told me his whole life and adventures, 
en passant, which I have been so fortunate as to forget. Tjje 
bath was excellent, and cost only one franc from first to last. 
After bathing me for some time in lukewarm Mater, a couple of 
sturdy Arabs scrubbed me with brushes and kneaded me with 
their fists in such a manner that I expected the fellows would 
break every bone in my body. They next rubbed me with per- 
fumed oil, wrapped me in a bernouse, and gave me a cup of 
black coffee and a pipe ; the latter was lost upon me, as I do not 
smoke. I departed feeling like one newly born, and resumed my 
ramble about the streets. After wandering about for some time 
without any settled purpose, I began to feel a certain longing 
after I knew not what, an inward yearning which I would fain 
have satisfied ; at last, just as I was passing the shop of an Italian 
restaurant which sent forth a most seductive odour of fried fish, 
the happy thought struck me that I perhaps was hungry. I 
accordingly went in and ordered a dish of fish, which made their 
appearance very well fried in oil, and a bottle of Spanish wine. 
My sensations were soon so agreeable that I forgot all my good 
and evil fortunes, nay, almost even the reason of my presence 
here. As the restaurant, a Neapolitan, also let lodgings, I 
hired a room there for a few days, to reconnoitre the ground 
a little before taking any further steps. 

After having satisfied my curiosity for the present with looking 
at this strange scene, I went out at the gate Babazoun (Eastern 
gate) towards Mustapha Superieur, M'hich was formerly the 
palace of the Dey's son, but now serves for a depot of the Foreign 
Legion. It is built on a declivity of the Sahel, about a league 
from Algiers, and is surrounded by most exquisite fruit gar- 
dens. Traces of the former splendor of this palace still remained, 
notwithstanding the ravages of the soldiery. It is built round 
two large courts, the smaller of which is adorned with sixty- 
four marble columns supporting most splendid rooms, which 
were formerly inhabited by the Prince's seraglio, but are now 


15 THE FRENCH IN ALGIERS. [chap. ii. 

Mirm-il into workshops for a whole company of shoemakers and 

As soon as possible I presented myself before General Von 
Hulsen, who commanded the Foreign Legion, and related my 
former life to him. After quietly listening to my story and my 
detei'mination to enter the Legion as a volunteer, he plainly told 
me that I was about to commit a great piece of folly and to sacri- 
fice my iiealth and life to no purpose. His words have proved but 
too true ; but, unfortunately, I am not one of tliose who can profit 
by the experience of others : I must see everything with my own 
eyes and touch everything with my own hands. The General, 
seeing that I was determined to stay, promised to protect me as 
far as lay in his power. 

L'nfortunately he was killed tliree months after, while we were 
tlirowing provisions into Fonchik : fiir too soon for me and for the 
Legion. He belonged to the Pomeranian family Yon Hulsen, 
and had served in the French army under Napoleon. 

Hulsen's was a true German character, bold and straightfor- 
ward even to roughness ; he was the only one who liad the courage 
to protect the interests of the Foreign Legion against the French 
general ofliicers. 

I was asked whetlier I knew how to load and fire, and on my 
replying in the affirmative, I was, without further question, trans- 
ferred to tlie third battalion of tlie Legion, at that moment quar- 
tered at Dschigeli, for w hicli spot a transjjort was to sail in a few 
days. Until then I was my own master, and employed these 
few, and possibly last hours of liberty in strolling about tiie town 
and the surrounding countrj' to satisfy my curiosity. Although 
these were tlie iiottest and most unhealthy months of the year, 
I did not find the heat nearly so oppressive as 1 iiad expected. 
The wliole northern (h'clivity of tlie Sahel mountains enjoys a 
temperate and agreeable climate, owing to its proximity to the 
pea. We hear of scarcely any illness here. 

The whole coast, from Algiers as far as the fortified camp of 
Kouba, was formerly inhaliifed by the most weaUiiy Turks and 
floors, who spent Iiere in Oriental ease and voluptuous idleness 
the riclies they obtained by ])iracy. Their country houses, built 
in a noble style of Moorish architecture, are proofs of the wealth 


of their former possessors. These are still in good repair, and are 
inhabited by Frenchmen and Spaniards who have bought them 
for a trifle for the sake of the gardens of fruit and vegetables. 
The soil is wonderfully productive owing to the numerous springs 
which rise in the mountains and water the ground througliout 
the year. Traces are still found both of the Roman and the 
Moorish metliod of irrigation. The bold arclies of the Romans 
have long since fallen to decay, while the modest and simple 
earthen pipes of the Moors, which creep below tlie surface of the 
earth, still convey a fresh and plentiful supply of water. The^^e few 
square miles on the Sahel form nearly the whole of the boasted 
French colony in Africa ; cafes and canteens are their only pos- 
sessions beyond the fortified camps and the range of the block- 
houses, even near the largest towns, such as Medeah, IMilianah, 
Mascara, &c., and these are only supported by the military, and 
may therefore be said to draw their resources from France. 

During the first years of the French occupation a considerable 
tract of the plains of Metidja came under cultivation. But tlie 
bad policy and worse system of defence of the French soon 
ruined tlie colonists. One morning, in the year 1839, Abd-el- 
Kader and his hordes poured down from the lesser Atlas range 
and destroyed everything with fire and sword. Those who 
escaped death were dragged into captivity. Since then the 
colonists have lost all confidence in the Government, and it 
will be very long before they recover it. 

Agriculture requires perfect security of property and. aljove 
all, personal security. Setting aside the precarious condition of 
the colonists, the French are thoroughly bad settlers, and only 
knov/ how to set up cafes. The few good agriculturists to be 
found here are either Germans or Spaniards. It is remarkable 
that the Spaniards, who in their own country are so lazy that they 
had rather starve than work, are here the very best agricultural 
labourers. Their diligence and economy almost amount to 

My favourite walk is to the Plane Tree cafe, so called from 
a group of beautiful plane trees which overshadow it. A plen- 
tiful spring of water gushes out of a rock close by, and tumbles 
down the hill on its wav to the sea ; so that nothing is wanting 

c 2 

20 THE FUENCn IX ALGIEKS. [chap. ii. 

to tlie enjoyment of an inhabitiint of the t-outli. The house 
stands under Mustapha Superieur and affords a magnificent 
view over the sea and the bay of Algiers. On this spot some 
dozen Turks and Arabs dream away the greater part of their 
lives. Tlie owner of the cafe is an old Turk who formerly 
served among the mamelukes of the Dey. He parsed some 
years of his life a prisoner in Spain, where, besides corrupt and 
broken Spanish, he learned to drink and swear. It was comical 
enough to hear this " malignant and lurbaned Turk" introduce 
a caramha between every other word. He told me some 
very remarkable facts relating to the Dey's government. It 
seems that the tribes could only be kept in any obedience 
by means of a strong body of cavalry continually scouring the 
country. Whenever a tribe delayed the payment of its tribute 
the mamelukes came down upon them in the dead of the night, 
cut down all the men and carried off the women and cattle. He 
was by no means satisfied with the French mode of warfare and 
maintained that they ought to have more cavalry, and tliat the 
infantry, for which he entertained a profound contempt, were far 
too slow in their movements. *' Tho first thing in war," said he, 
with a volley of Spanish oaths, " is quickness : the French always 
arrive too late." You see that my friend the Turk is a very 
distinguislied strategist ; and I almos* think it must have been 
from him that Bugeaud afterwards took the hint of the razzia 
and the cnlonne mohilc. 

The old greybeard is a devoted admirer of Spanish women 
and Spanish wine; when talking of either his eyes sparkled. 
He generally k(j)t a keg of IMalat^a hidden in his house and took 
a good pull at it from time to time. "When in a good humour 
he gave me a wink and we drank to the health of the Spanisli 
women. He thoroughly despised his Arab guests, whom he 
called "brutos" (beasts), who were fit for nothing but to count 
their beads and smoke their ])ipes. 

You j)erc<'ive that my friend Hassan is a freethinker, wlio 
has shaken oflT all the restraints of the Koran. Had the Arabs 
8nspecte<l this but for a moment, they would have spat in his 
face, and never set foot over his threshold again ; for they are 
Btrict observers of their reliifious duties. 


As we are under orders to start at a moment's notice for 
Dschigeli, I took leave of the Turk yesterday. He gave me his 
blessing and a glass of Malaga, recommending me, above all 
things not to trust those dogs of Arabs, and to beware of eating 
figs and drinking water. 

To-morrow we embark on board a steamer bound for Bona. 

22 THE FUENCII IN ALGIERS. [chap. hi. 


Dschigeli — The Foreign Legion — Climate — Attack of the Kabyles on the 
Blockhouses— Massacre of a Kabyle Village — Samoom — Homeric Fight 
— Death of my Friend — Fort Duquesne — Formidable Starfish — Shipwreck 
— Engagement with the Kabyles — Escape of the Prisoners — Burial of th. ir 

Dschigeli, August, 25. 
"NVe reached Dschigeli on the lath, after a most prosperous 
voyage of thirty-six hours, which incliuied a short stay at 

During the summer the surface of the Mediterranean is al- 
most always as smooth as a mirror. Tiie blue transparent water 
looks so gentle and harmless that one can scarce believe in 
the terrific pow ers which slumber in its bosom. In the later 
autumn it entirely alters its character ; storms, and frequently 
even hurricanes, render the African coasts the most danjierous in 
the world ; the more so, since the whole territory occupied by 
the French does not contain a single safe and capacious harbour 
of refuge. Last year, the French lost in tlie roads before Stora, 
a sliort distance from hence, no less than forty vessels in one 

The Goveriuncnt has endeavoured to j'cmcdy this evil by 
constructing artificial harbours, and has, at an enormous cost, 
^somewhat enlarged that of Algiers by sinking blocks of stone 
and a species of cement into tliesea; but of course little can be 
( Hi'cted in this nmnncr. 

Dschigeli, which also lias only a small roadstead, is built on a 
rock rising out of the sea ; it belongs to the province of Con- 
Btaiitina and lies between Budschia and Philippeville. It is in- 
habited by Turks and Arabs, who forujerly drove a tliriving 
trade in piracy. Although the town looks like a mere heap of 
8tones, it is said still to contain niucli hidden treasure. The 
eoldiers are already hoping for an ()ntl)reak among the population 


wliich may art'ord them an excuse for pillaging tiie town. This 
does not, however, seem very likely, as the Arabs are on very 
good terms with the garrison, and not without reason, for the 
Kabyles who dwell in the neighbouring mountains would not 
treat them so well as the French do. 

The whole district between Algiers and Dschigeli, along wliich 
runs the high range of the Aphronne mountains, is the proper 
country of the Kabyles. 

The French possess no more of it than what they have 
enclosed within a line of blockhouses, that is, about half a square 
mile. Our battalion, the third of the Foreign Legion, forms the 
whole o-arrison : it is commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Picolou, 
a Frenchman. Like the rest of the Legion, this battalion is 
composed of men of all nations and all ranks : Spaniards and 
Italians, Germans and Belgians, Dutchmen and Poles, only no 
Eno-lish. Most of them have joined the service out of mere folly, 
some from political or civil offences, and a few from misfortune. 

These men are for the most part brutal and undisciplined, but 
ready to encoimter anything. They form a band who, under an 
ener"-etic leader, might do great things. Like all hirelings, our 
corps has much of the character of Wallenstein's camp. At first 
I thought that my fate was a very tragical one, but even this 
comfort was soon taken from me. There is not one among us 
who has not the historj- and adventures of his life to tell, and the 
worst of all is that one is forced to confess that there is nothing 
tragical which has not its comic side. I may safely assert that 
I have heard more biographies in one day here than are to be 
found in all Plutarch. 

Nearly all the commissions in the Legion are held by French- 
men who look upon tliis as a short cut to advancement. 
Among the officers are also a few Poles and Swiss ; the 
latter of w^hom have joined the service since the revolution of 
July. But, in general, it is very difficult for a foreigner to 
attain to the rank of an officer. 

Although Dschigeli lies under nearly the same latitude as 
Algiers. i°t is far hotter and more unhealthy. Nearly half the 
garrison is rendered unfit for service by fever, which makes the 
duty of those who are well doubly severe. The oppressive heat 

24 THE FRENCH IN ALGIERS. [chap. hi. 

has a very remarkable effect upon all new comers, whose strength 
leaves them from day to day ; and men, as strong as lions before, 
creep about with pale yellow faces and with voices as small as 
those of children. Every morning before daybreak seven or 
eight corpses are secretly carried out of the town. Hitherto 
1 have resisted the influence of tlie climate, but I take more 
care of mj-self tiian the rest, and do not indulge in eating 
fruit, «S;c. The first rule of health is to follow as nearly as pos- 
sible the manner of life of the natives of foreign countries, for 
one may fairly presume that they have good reasons for adliering 
to particular customs from generation to generation. Most 
inhabitants of tlie north of Europe ruin tlieir health by persist- 
ing in the same habits abroad which they follow in their own 

September, 1 840. 

"We spend alternately fourteen days in the town, and fourteen 
in the blockhouses : the latter is by far the most interesting. The 
blockiiouses, placed in a semicircle on the heiglits surrounding 
.he town, are built of oak planks imported from France and 
of sufficient tliickness to turn a bullet. They are generally two 
stories higli, and are protected by a wall and a ditcli. The 
largest are provided with two cannons and some wall-pieces, 
which are of great service. 

To prevent time from hanging heavy on our hands, our 
frienfls tiie Kabyles come down from tlie neighbouring mountains 
to pay their respects to us. They greet us from afar with a tor- 
rent of friendly epithets, such as '' hahluf" (swine), &c., wliich is 
quickly followed by a shower of balls. We are no less civil in 
our turn, allowing them to approach within a short distance, 
wiien we treat them to a volley of musketry and a few discharges 
from the field-pieces ; whereupon they usually retire somewhat 
tranrpiillized but still velicment in abuse. "We of ccjurse have 
much tlie best of it behind our walls and ditciies, but from time 
to time some of us are wounded or killed. 

A few days ago they attacked us with unusual fury and per- 
tinacity. Some time before sunrise we saw a large party of 


Kabyles coining down from the mountains : as far as the eve could 
reach the place swarmed with white bernouses. Ever)' blockhouse 
was attacked at the same moment. Our well-directed fire was 
insufficient to keep oif an enemy which pressed upon us in dense 
masses, and in a moment they were close under the walls. Here 
they could no longer do us any damage with their shots ; but in 
their rage they tlirew huge stones over the walls upon our heads. 
AVe made a rapid retreat into our blockhouses and barricadoed 
the doors. In one moment the Kabyles climbed the outer walls, 
and attempted in their blind fury to storm the blockhouses. 
Some of them tried, but in vain, to throw the cannon over the 
walls ; and they now had the worst of the fight. 

The half of our party who were in the upper story removed 
a plank which \\as left loose for the purpose, and poured their 
fire down upon tlie lieads of the Kabyles, while some cannoneers 
who were with us threw a number of hand-grenades, of which 
we had good store, among them. This was rather more than 
they could bear, and they dispersed in all directions, yelling fear- 
fully ; they however carried off their dead and wounded, for the 
Mohamedan never leaves his comrades in tiie hands of the foe. 
They did not repeat their visit for several days after this. 
The Kabyles, who are a strong and courageous race, inhabit 
fixed dwellings, and employ themselves in agriculture as well as 
in cattle-breeding. They always fight on foot, armed with a yata- 
ghan and a long rifle which will carry almost as far as our wall- 

They hardly ever attack by night, for one of the precepts of 
the Koran is — neither to wander nor to wage war by night, 
and this they pretty scrupulously obey ; and indeed they are alto- 
gether far better Mohamedans than we are Christians. 

I need not add that on these occasions every one does his duty, 
for each fights for that which he most values, namely his head. He 
who falls into the hands of the Kabyles is born under no 
lucky planet — his head is instantly cut off and borne away 
as a trophy. 

The Commandant marched up into the mountains one night with 
the whole garrison, to chastise the Kabyles for their insolence. 
We started at midnight under the guidance of some Arabs w ho 


knew the country and marched, without stopping and in deep 
silence, up hill and down dale until just before daybreak, Mhen 
the crowing of cocks and the baying of dogs gave us notice that 
we were close upon a tribe. We were ordered to halt, and two 
companies with a few field-pieces were left behind on an eminence. 

After a short rest we started again, and the first glimmer of 
light showed the huts of the tribe straight before us. An old 
Kabyle was at that moment going out with a pair of oxen to 
plough ; as soon as he saw us he uttered a fearful howl and 
fled, but a few well-directed shots brought him down. In one 
moment the grenadiers and voltigeurs, who were in advance, 
broke through the hedge of prickly pear Avhich generally sur- 
rounds a Kabyle village, and the massacre began. Strict orders 
had been given to kill all the men and only to take the women 
and children prisoners : for we followed the precept of " an eye 
for an eye, a tooth for a tooth." 

A few men only reeled half awake out of their huts, Init most 
of them still lay fast asleep ; not one escaped death. The women 
and children rushed, howling and screaming, out of their burning 
huts in time to see their husbands and brothers butchered. One 
young woman with an infant at her breast started back at the 
sight of strange men exclaiming " Mohamed ! Mohamed !" and 
ran into her burning hut. Some soldiers sprang forward to 
save her, but the roof had already fallen in and she and her 
child perished in the flames. 

We then returned with our booty, and it was high time, for other 
tribes of Kabyles came flocking together from every side, at- 
tracted by the noise. We were forced to retreat in such haste that 
we left the greater part of the cattle behind. The fire of the com- 
panies we had stationed in our rear with the field-jiicces at last 
gained us time to breathe. We however had but few killed and 

A few days after, a deputafinn was sent by the survivors with 
proposals for the exchange of the women and children against 
cattle, which w.'is accejited. It is a point of honour with the 
Kabyles not to leave their women .and children in the enemies' 
hands. They most conscientiously ransomed even the old 
women whom we would willingly have given them gratis. 


For several days we have been suffering severely from the 
wind of the desert (samooni) which prevails here during the 
months of August and September. This wind is scorching and 
impregnated with minute particles of sand. At its approach all 
are filled with terror, large drops of sweat stand on one's brow, 
and tlie only means of escape is to lie flat on one's face and to 
hold one's breath. Those who inhale the air die in twenty 

Fortunately the samoom only lasts from a quarter of an hour 
to twenty minutes, but it returns several times a day. During 
its prevalence all hostilities cease ; for the natives and the very 
wil i beasts are subject to its influence. When surprised by this 
wind during a march, all instantly halt. Camels, horses, and 
mules, instinctively turn their backs to the wind and hold their 
noses close to the ground until the danger is past. 

The day before yesterday we had a hot encounter with 
the Kabyles, after a fashion truly Homeric, in defence of our 
oxen. Our company was ordered to escort the cattle, which are 
numerous, to the water. 

The incessant heat had already dried up all the fountains and 
springs within the line of tb.e blockhouses, so that we were forced 
to drive the cattle beyond it to a stream whicli flows from the 
mountains and never fails. We advancerl as usual en tiralleurs 
to cover the watering-place, but we had scarcely reached the 
further side of the stream when we were greeted on all sides by 
yells and bullets. The Kabyles had hidden themselves in the 
brushwood close by, and occupied an eminence opposite to us. In 
order to make use of our strongest weapon, tlie bayonet, which 
is much dreaded by the Kabyles, we advanced up the hill with 
levelled bayonets and took it at the first attack. But scarce 
had we reached the top when we received a heavy fire from all 
sides, the Kabyles having surrounded us in a semicircle. In a 
moment we had several killed and wounded and were forced to 
retreat faster tlian we had a(lvanced, the Kabyles pressing 
furiously on our rear. The commanding officer exclaimed : 
" Sauvez les blesses I Sauvez les blesses ! " 

A non-commissioned officer close beside me had been shot 

28 THE FREN'CH IN ALGIERS. [chap. hi. 

through tlic jaw ; he had completely lost his senses, and was 
reeling round and round like a drunken man. I seized him 
under the arm and dragged liini towards the nearest blockhouse 
into which tlie company retreated. We were the very last, and 
the Kabyles yelled wildly close behind us while their bullets 
w histlcd in our ears ; I was not hit however, and succeeded in 
bringing my charge safely home, conscious of having done my 
duty as a soldier and as a man. We had but just reached the 
blockhouse wlien the Commandant Supcrieur ciime up m ith a re- 
inforcement of several companies, and sent us all out again 
to rescue tlie cattle, which by this time had all but fallen into 
the enemy's hands. The beasts were so deeply engaged in the 
noble occupation of drinking that it was almost impossible 
to move tliem from the spot. 

We now repulsed the Kabyles, and at length the horsemen 
succeeded in driving off the cattle. After tliis we came to a 
sort of tacit understanding with the enemy to leave eacli other 
in peace at the stream, for they too had to water their cattle 
there and might have been seriously incommoded by us from the 

This wa-s my first battle in the open field, and I cainiot say 
that it made much impression upon me. INIy imagination had 
pictured tlie teiTors of the scene so vividly to me tiiat the 
reality fell far short of it. I was moreover prepared for it l)y 
all manner of perils which I had encountered by land and by 
sea. I have frequently observed that men of lively imagination 
(and accordingly most southerns) have a greater dread of fancied 
than of real dangers. Before the decisive moment arrives they 
have exiiausted all the terrors of death and are prejiared for 
the worst. The cold phlegmatic northern, on the contrary, goes 
with greater coolness into battle, but often finds it worse than 
lie expected. 

I liave suflered a severe loss ; the only friend I liad found here 
died a few days ago. Similar tastes and a like fate had drawn 
MS fogetlier. lie was of a good family at Berlin, as the higli 
cultivation of his mind sufficiently proved ; but an unfijrtunate 


longing for excitement and adventure had driven him from 
home. I am convinced that he died of home-sickness. He had 
never served before, and could not, therefore, brook this brutal 
and savage life so well as I could, and a fever hastened his 
death. He had written to his father for money to ol)taiii his 
discharge, under the conviction that he could not endure his 
life here, and was in the daily expectation of an answer. His 
imagination already transported him back to his family ; but 
he grew weaker every day and at length had to be carried to 
the hospital, where I visited him daily when my turn of ser- 
vice did not prevent me. Wlien I went yesterday and inquired 
after him, one of the attendants pointed to his bed : on 
approaching it I found him dead. No one, not even his next 
neighbour, had heard him die. He was buried next morning 
with no kind of ceremony, and I followed him to the grave 
alone. It is well for him that he is at peace ! His spirit was too 
gentle to bear the sight of all this cruelty and wretchedness. 
One must case one's heart in triple brass to bear existence herp 
at all. 

Since the 1st of December our company has been quartered 
in Fort Duquesne, which stands upon the sea and defends the 
south-eastern side of the town. This fort is built upon a rock 
rising so abruptly from the sea that a few half-bastions towards 
the land are sufficient for its defence. A wooden shed has been 
erected to shelter the garrison from the weather. 

We are uncommonly well off here, for the duty is not severe : 
most of our time is spent in fishing. The coasts of Africa 
abound with various sorts of fish which, to us at least, appear 
excellent ; but indeed many circumstances combine to make us 
think so. A small kind of oyster, which is also met with in 
Spain, and sea-hedgehogs are particularly abundant. "We only 
have to take them off" the rocks, to open and eat them. 

The starfish too are common here, and I have a strange 
tale to tell of one. During the month of August the soldiers 
were in the habit of bathing in the sea everj"^ evening, and from 
time to time several of them disappeared, no one knew how. 
Bathing was in consequence strictly forbidden, in spite of whicli 
several men went into the water one evening ; suddenly one of 


them screamed for help, and when several others rushed to his 
assistance they found that a huge starfish had seized him by the 
leg with four of its limbs, whilst it clung to the rock by the 
fifth. The soldiers brought the monster home with them, and 
out of revenge they broiled it alive and ate it. This adventure 
sufiiciently accounted for the disappearance of the other soldiers. 

The rainy season, which generally lasts three or four months, 
has ah'eady set in accompanied by huri-icanes of extraordinary 
violence, which fortunately last but a short time, though indeed 
quite long enough to cause the death and ruin of coimtless 
sailors. A few days ago a vessel was dashed to pieces against 
the very rock upon which the fort stands. It turned out to be 
a French merchant brig, which had anchored in the roads to 
avoid the raging of the elements. Another night, while I was 
on watch, the stoi'm increased by degrees to a perfect hurricane ; 
the rain came down in torrents, and the darkness was such that it 
was impossible to see a yard before one's face. In a moment 
the wooden shed was unroofed, and the waves dashed over the 
very top of the rock. Next morning the fragments of a vessel 
lay at our feet ; the roaring of the wind and waves had en- 
tirely overpowei'ed the crash of the shipwreck. Every soul on 
board had perished except a little dog which stood Met and 
trembling on a jutting clitf and was with diiiiculty induced to 
come to us : lie appeared to be still expecting his master. 

The iNIediterranean has scarce any tide, but the north or south 
wind afiects the ebb or flow on the African coast though only 
to the depth of a few feet. After a few days of calm its blue 
waters are so clear that the fish and seaweed, some luuidred 
feet below, look as though one might touch them. Tliere is a 
peculiar cliarm in thus looking down into the secrets of Neptune's 
kingdom. I often lie for hours on a jutting cliflf", watching the 
crowd of fish sporting below, and the tortoises, those drones of 
the sea, lazily biusking on tiie surface of the waves. 

My mind involuntarily reverted to my childhood, and to my 
mother's story of the enchanfe<i prince whom a beautiful mermaid 
imprisoned in her crj'stal palace deep under the sea. After 
a hundred years, which passed like a few months, the charm was 
broken and the prince returned upon the earth to asct-nd the 
throne of his forefathers. But, alas ! all wa^i changed — his race 


was extinct and there was none that knew him ; he himself had 
long since forgotten the language of men. Then he longed to 
return to his crj^stal prison and cast himself headlong into 
the waves. 

At times I can scarce refrain from following the example of 
the enchanted prince and going to lead a harmless peaceful life 
with the fish, far from the rapacious envious race of men. But 
even this were vain, for under the water too there is strife, and 
greediness, and ambition — every thing, in short, save calumny. 

February, 1841. 

For nearly two months we have not once been disturbed by the 
Kabyles, and we should have enjoyed a state of the most tranquil 
peace and content had it not been for the fleas. These blood- 
thirsty monsters are indeed the most terrible enemies we have in 
Africa — nothing can protect us from their liostilities. I assure 
you that Kabyles and panthers, nay, even tight boots, or a bad 
conscience, are not to be compared to them. They are worst in 
the wooden barracks and the blockhouses. One must be worn out 
with fatigue in order to sleep there at all, and then one wakes 
covered from head to foot with specks of blood. 

On the night of the 4th of February, contrary to their usual 
custom, the Kabyles paid us a very well-meant visit. "We lay 
in pur barracks, not dreaming of any danger, when we were 
awakened at eleven o'clock at night by repeated shots, and by some 
bullets which came through the deal boards of our barracks. 
In an instant we were dressed ; each man snatched up his 
musket, and went out. The shots came from a rock to the west- 
ward of the town and only separated from it by a small arm of 
the sea. By some strange neglect no blockhouse had been built 
on this spot, which commanded the town. The Kabyles had 
stolen through the line of blockhouses in the dark, and from 
this rock they now fired into the town with their long rifles with 
some eflTect. The companies soon fell into rank. Lieutenant- 
Colonel Picolou, a cool determined officer, made his appearance 
immediately, and placed all the sentinels of the town on a bat- 
tery exactly opposite the rock, to answer the fire of the Kabyles 
and thus to make them believe that the whole garrison was 

32 THE FRENCH IN ALGIERS. [chap. hi. 

there : in the meantime we marched out at tlie gate in perfect 
silence, reached the rock unobserved, and fell .suddenly upon 
their rear. At the very moment when they saw us and raised 
their wild howl, we gave them a volley and charged them with 
the bayonet. As the Kabyles are totally unacquainted with the 
use of it, they could offer us no effectual resi.stance although tliey 
were double our number. Those who were not killed threw them- 
selves into the sea, for, being mostly good swimmers, they chose 
rather to trust to the tender mercies of the waves than to ours. 
But even the very elements conspired against them. The sea was 
very rough, and the waves dashed the poor felloM's to pieces against 
the rocks. But few escaped to tell the mournful talc to 
their kinsfolk. We remained on the rock till the following 

We had only taken three prisoners, for in the heat of the 
skirmish the soldiers cut down every one. Some, indeed, had 
even cut off" the heads of the wounded with their own yataghans. 
The Comnumdant Superieur rewarded these heroes with five franc 
pieces, and stuck the heads over the city gates, where they re- 
mained until the stench became intolerable. Truly I almost begin 
to think that we have learned more of the barbarous manners 
of the Kabyles, than they of our humanity and civilisation. 

In two days, a few old men belonging to the almost annihilated 
tribe came to implore peace and the permission to remove and 
bury their dead, which latter request was granted. They also 
wished to ransom the three prisoners, one of whom was the son 
of their ciiief, and offered forty oxen for them, but the Com- 
mandant demanded eighty and the negotiators were forced to 
depart without them. Greatly to the annoyance of the Com- 
matidant and the astonishment of us all, one fine day tlie pri- 
soners harl disajipcared. They had been confined in a dry cistern 
close to the sea and had, with inconceivable difficulty, worked 
their way through to it in one night, let themselves down into 
the M'ater by means of their long woollen girdles, and swum 
to the other side. This was no sliglit matter, as the coast is 
tolerably distant and one of the prisoners had his thigh shattered 
by a bullet. They thenoscajjed safely through all the outposts. 
For eight whole days the Kabyles kept coming to fetch the dead 
bodies of their relations. Their joyful songs contrasted sadly 


with their melancholy faces. They were entirely crushed by 
this last blow, which they looked upon as a chastisement from 
Allah, because they had transgressed his command to wage no 
war by night. Most of the corpses had to be fished up out of 
the sea. 

I watched them one morning at this employment. The 
Kabyles stood round a body they had just found, and drew the 
mantle from otF the head. Scarce had an old Kabyle seen the 
features of the corpse, than he turned away his face to hide his 
tears ; perhaps it was his son. And the soldiers who stood by 
jeered him ! 

Truly war is wild work ; especially a war to the knife, such as 
this. It is lucky for us that custom renders us indifferent to 
our own dangers and miseries, but then we often grow equally 
indifferent to the woes of others. 

March, 1841. 

"We have just heard that we are to have a new Governor ; no 
other than General Bugeaud who made the treaty with Abd-el- 
Kader, at Tafna. He is a vigorous, enterprising man, and great 
things are expected from him. 

An expedition into the interior against the Bedouins is talked 
of, in which we are to take part ; and we have already received 
orders to embark in a steamer for Algiers in a few days. Well, 
I shall not be sorry to make acquaintance with those houseless, 
wanderin"' sons of the desert. 



Budschia — ^lonkeys — Alarch to Euterback — General Bugeaud — Algiers — 
Lord Exmouth and the Dcy — Progress of Civilisation and Jollity among 
the Arabs of both Sexes — Songs. 

Buterback, April, 1841. 
"Wk reached the bay of Algiers in the evening of the 29th of 
IMarch. The voyage was favourable, but I cannot say that it 
was pleasant ; six hundred of us were squeezed together on the 
deck of a steamer. I am perfectly convinced that a pickled 
herring has more space allotted to it in the barrel than a soldier 
on board a French steamboat. In the Mediterranean, troops are 
always conveyed on deck, in the steamers at least. 

The air here is mild enough for this, even in winter ; but 
during the often-continued rains, one sometimes cannot help 
sitrhincr for one's own fireside. 

The coast is uninteresting all the way from Dschigeli to Algiers. 
There is nothing to be seen but hills — some covered with brush- 
wood, and others quite bare. There are but few valleys or streams, 
and scarce any human dwellings. 

Near Budscliia you discover from the sea a beautiful and 
fruitful vale watered by tlic river Summam. This is occupied 
bv some of the most powerful Kabyle tribes, which give a good 
deal of trouble to the French garrison at Budschia. The town 
stands on an eminence commanding the mouth of the river and 
great part of the valley, and is enclosed by a line of block- 
liouses. Budschia is one of the oldest towns in Africa, as is 
provefl by a Roman fort in tolerable preservation, and the 
remains of walls. There is a small bay here which affords gotMl 
anchorage for vessels and protection against the south and west 


A species of monkey, as large as a pointer, abouuds in these 
mountains. While we lay at anchor in the roadstead for a few 
hours, we had ample opportunity of observing the conduct of 
several families of these apes on a neighbouring rock. Curiosity 
drew many of them very near to us, and we were vastly amused 
by their strange antics ; but as soon as any on board made the 
motion of shooting they skipped away, evidently well aware of 
its meaninor. In one moment the fond mothers flung: their sons 
across their backs, and disajjjjearefl behind the rocks. It is very 
difficult to get at these monkeys, as they live in caves which no 
human foot can reach, and their whole system of defence is 
excellent ; their service of sentinels is as regularly organised 
as that of the Kabyles. 

At about five leagues from Algiers the Atlas mountains gra- 
dually recede and give place to the great plain of Metidja, 
which is watered by the Arrasch and the Messafren. This plain 
is divided from the mountain in a peculiarly abrupt manner ; it 
has not the undulating surface of other valleys, but is as flat as 
a table from the foot of the Atlas to the base of the Sahel range. 
The Metidja, varj^ing from three to five leagues in breadth, forms 
a semicircle of about fifteen leagues, and touches the sea twice, 
at Maiso7i Carree, and just below Cherchell. It would be one 
of the most fruitful districts in the world if it had but more 
water ; but the rivers get low even in the month of June, and 
the earth is so parched by the rays of the sun that all vegetation 
withers, and only begins to revive in October with the autumn 
rains. Close to the foot of tlie mountain and near the river, 
where the soil is kept moist by artificial means, the earth yields 
two crops of corn and three of vegetables in the year. 

We landed immediately and marched the same evening to 
Buterback, whence I now have the honour of writing to you. 
Buterbaek was formerly the castle of a Moorish grandee ; 
it stands on the topmost ridge of the Sahel, not far from the 
camp of Kouba. We have a glorious view of the sea on one 
side, and of the Metidja and the lesser Atlas on the otlier. 
Nearly every evening we see, on the Atlas mountains, the watch- 
fires of the wandering Bedouins, with whom we hope soon to 
make a nearer acquaintance. We are already preparing for a 
grand expedition into the interior. 

D 2 

36 THE FKENCH IN ALGIERS. [chap. tv. 

The new Governor, Bugeaud, is determined, it is said, either to 
subjugate or destroy all the hostile tribes. The greatest excite- 
ment prevails. Fresh troops are landed ever}- day. The Foreign 
Legion has been reorganised : the four battalions of infantry are 
increased to six, and divided into two regiments. Our battalion, 
the third of the first regiment, is commanded by Colonel Von 
Mollenbeck who has succeeded Colonel Von Hulsen. Our new 
Colonel is a German who has been long in the French service. 
He is brave, but seventy years of age is too old for expeditions 
in Africa. Our regiment has got new muskets with percussion 
locks instead of the old ones. 

The Governor came a few days ago to inspect us, and was 
very gracious. He appears to be about fifty, and has an air of 
erreat determination and coolness. He is of the middle size and 
strongly built ; his face is much sun-burnt, but pleasing ; and he 
would be taken for younger than he is, did not his snow-white 
hair betray l»is age. Bugeaud b a man of restless activity, and 
keeps every one on the alert by his continual presence. At 
three ever)- morning he gives audience, to which all who have 
any complaint to make are admitted. Expeditions are to be 
made from several different quarters at once ; one from Oran, 
another from Mostaganem. and a third from hence. The Governor 
will probably lead the expedition from Oran himself, and ours 
will be commanded by General Baraguai d'Hilliers, whom the 
soldiers call the Stumped Arm, because he lost the use of his left 
arm by a shot. 

It is said that we sliall stay here some time longer, and a short 
rest will indeed be most welcome to us. "When not on duty. I 
wander about in the neighbourhood, for within the range of the 
blockhouses one is tolerably safe. Everj- inch of soil is most 
carefully cultivated, chiefly by Spaniards and Arabs ; there are 
also a few Germans who sell the produce of their labour, 
generally fruit and vegetables, for high prices at Algiers. The 
Germans, who are chiefly from Al>atia and Rhenish Bavaria, do 
very well, as they need only work one quarter the time they 
would do in their own countrj- to secure an existence. Wher- 
ever there b water they can grow three crops of vegetables in 
the year, especially of potatoes which cost more here than figs 
and oranjjes. 

;hai-. iv.] the FRENCH IX ALGIERS. 37 

The day before yesterday I paid my friend Hassan a visit at 
♦he Plane Tree caje, which is only a mile or two from Buter- 
t)ack. He was greatly rejoiced to see me again. We retired 
to his little garden behind the house, and, with a smile, he 
brought out a few bottles of Malaga, which we proceeded to 
pour down our throats wliilst Me sat on the ground after the 
Eastern fashion conversing most philosophically. I had to re- 
count to him all my adventures at Dscliigeli, which caused him 
to stroke his beard fiercely, whilst he muttered one caramba 
after another. 

I have been several times to Algiers, which is about a league 
and a half from Buterback, to take a nearer view of the curiosi- 
ties there. 

The upper, which is the old part of the town, bears a striking 
resemblance to the old Moorish cities of Andaluzia, such as 
Cordova and Eccija. The streets are very narrow, and the houses 
have but few windows looking into the streets, and those ievf 
are defended by close gratings. All the houses are built round 
a spacious court, which, in the dwellings of the rich, is paved 
with marble and adorned with a fountain. The only differ- 
ence is, that the Spanish cities were evidently built during the 
most flourishing times of the Moors, as the style of the 
houses in Spain is far grander and more ornate than of those in 

Algiers contains a population of about forty or fifty thousand 
souls, two-thirds of which are Jews and Arabs, and the rest 
Frenchmen, Spaniards, and Italians. The habits of the Jews 
differ but little from those of the Arabs, and one may still per- 
ceive that they are children of the same forefatlier. But the sons 
of Ishmael now seem disposed to consider themselves as the lawful 
descendants of Abraham, and to treat the Jews as bastards. 'I'he 
Jews are distinguishable from the Arabs by their gayer clothes, 
and the unveiled faces of their women. The Jewesses are far more 
beautiful than the Arab women, because they are not treated as 
mere domestic animals, and therefore have an air of greater 
refinement. Their dress is simple but pleasing, usually a blue 
or brown garment confined under the with a girdle ; 

38 THE FRENCH IN ALGIERS. [< hap. iv. 

their long black, hair is held together by a circlet of gold or 
silver, or by a ribbon ; their arms and feet are bare. Their deep 
jet-bhick eyes are wonderfully beautiful, and though their intense 
brilliancy is somewhat softened by tlie long silken eyelashes, 
3'et woe to him who looks too ileeply into them. 

I toiled through the narrow streets up to the Casabal), the 
fonner residence of the Dey, the road to which is so steep thi t 
steps had to be cut in it. As I did not know the shortest patli, 
it was at least two hours before I reachal the top. 

The Casabah stands on a plateau commanding the whole town. 
Gloomy-looking battlemented walls surround the palace, and 
are so high, as entirely to conceal the building within them ; 
one fine tall palm tree alone overtops the wall. The palace 
contains a beautiful marble court and some splendid rooms, in 
which two French battalions are now quartered. 

The Casabah itself is commanded by a fort built by Charles 
V. on a height above the town. Tlie French were fortunate 
enough to carry this fort by a coup de main, whereupon the 
Casabah and the town were forced to capitulate. Tiie Dey was 
living there in tiie most perfect security ; all his treasures were 
deposited in the palace, and he was convinced tliat tiie high walls 
of the city would defy all the endeavours of the French to take 
what had already baffled the English and the Dutch. 

The English, under Lord Exmouth, had taken one of the 
forts upon the sea, which they evacuated after twenty-four hours' 
possession, upon a treaty witii the Dey. It is still called Fort 
Vinyt-qiiatre lit itrrs. 

At the time of the French occupation, Algiers was strongly 
fortified ; besides the thick ramparts, which in some places are 
double, the town was defended by several bastions and three forts, 
which were in a very good state of defence. INIore especially 
the batteries on the sea, which protect the harbour, were ex- 
ceedingly strong, and the French have since made cotisiderable 
additions to all the fortifications. The town itself, however, 
from its shape and position, must always remain exposed to a 
bombardment from the sea. The Turks cared but little for this 
contingency, partly herauM? the town contained but few handsome 
bouses, and piirtly because most of the i/iliabitants were Jewg and 


Arabs. The Dey is said to have asked the Englisli Consul, after 
its bombardment by Lord Exmouth, liow much it had cost us ; 
and on hearing it put at some millions (of francs?) he frankly 
replied, that he would willingly have done it himself for half 
the sum. 

After satisfying my curiosity here, I went into the lower 
town, and on turning down a fresh street I was met by the 
sound of a mandoline and of singing, accompanied by peals of 
laughter, which issued from the second story of one of the houses ; 
the songs were Arab, the laughter might be Arab, French, or 
German, I knew not M'hich, but at all events it was most heartj-. 
Of course I walked in, ascended the stairs, and found myself in 
the midst of a mixed company of Arabs, Jews, Frenchmen, and 
Italians, all seated together on cushions against the walls of a 
spacious room. 

On a sort of platform near the window sat two Arabs singing, 
with two Arab girls beside them accompanying their songs on 
the mandoline. They were at that moment singing a love song, 
the constant burthen of which was " Nanina"; the whole company 
was in the most joyous mood. Every man had one or more bottles 
of wine before him, and it seemed as if they had all drunk repeated 
bumpers. I was astonished at this wonderful advance in civilis- 
ation and good fellowship. On either side of me I saw Arabs 
filled with wine, and Arab women with unveiled faces, returning 
the wanton glances of Christians with still more wanton eyes. 
Truly this change does honour to the French. 

I sat down by an Arab soldier of the French allied cavalry, 
whose burning cheek betrayed that he had transgressed the 
commandment of the Prophet. He immediately drank to me 
in the most familiar manner, saying, with a laugh, " Scherap 
buenOjjaide." (The wine is good, comrade.) ^^ J3ueno," an- 
swered I ; for it was generous Spanish wine, such as is chiefly 
drunk here. He then asked me in broken French, whether the 
women of Europe were equal to its wine ? As in duty bound, 
I answered in the affirmative, and described to him the charms 
and the excellence of my countrywomen until my Arab friend 
seemed well inclined to visit Europe. But when I told him that 
Allah bestowed but one wife on us Europeans, he shook his 

40 THE FRENCH IN ALGIERS. [chap. iv. 

lioad, saying, " MacaschS (Nay, nay.) By this time it -vvas 
late, and as I had to be at Buterbaek before night I took my 
leave. The gate Bal^azoim was soon far behind me, and 
T hastened on towards my destination, for the sun was fast 
declining towards the sea ; but the boisterous laughter, and the 
long-drawn burthen of "Na-ni-na" were ringing in my ears 
the whole way home 



March to Delhi Ibrahim— Horrible Scene— Blidah—Co/onHe E.rpedilioniintre 
—Dukes of Nemours aud Aumale— Pass of the Col de Mussaia— Medeah— 
Arab Burial Grounds — Marabout in the Mountains — Taking of Callah — 
March through the Desert —'Destruction of Abd-el-Kader's Castle — 
Milianah — Night March — Sight of the Sea. 

Duera, May, 1841. 
Our battalion has been eight daj-s at Duera, a fortified camp 
on the southern declivity of the Sahel, and we expect every 
moment to start on some great expedition. But even here we 
do not want occupation ; for nearly every day we have to escort 
a transport of provisions, intended for Blidah, from Delhi Ibra- 
him to Buffarik. 

Buffarik is another fortified camp and small village, which 
stands on the river Arrasch in the middle of the plain of 
Metidja. The soil is very productive, but the air so unhealthy 
that the village has been depopulated more than once. 

"We also frequently have to reconnoitre the neighbourhood, 
and to clear it of the Hadjutes. These fellows live in the western 
part of the Sahel, and are notorious for their audacious robberies 
which they are so bold as to extend to within a few leagues of 
Algiers. A few days ago they gave us a strong instance of their 
daring. On the 1st of May, just as we were going to hear 
mass, in honour of the saint's-day of Louis Philippe, two of the 
native gendarmes maures, who are employed as guides, came 
gallopping up at full speed, their horses' flanks bleeding with 
the spur, and made some communication to the Commander of 
the camp. A general march was immediately sounded, and in 


tlie course of five minuter; our battalion was on its -vvay towards a, 
blockhouse to tlie left of Delhi Ibraliini. There was no beaten 
track, and we had to force our way througli brushwood as high 
as ourselves with, which the mountains are almost everywiiere 
covered — by no means an agreeable occupation. AVe had 
marched about two leagues and a half without stopping, at a 
pace more like a trot than a walk, when we reached a blockhouse 
occupied by a company of the first battalion of our regiment. 
Here we halted. Lieutenant Colonel Picolou exchanged a few 
words with the officer in command at the blockhouse, and we 
started again immediately. After crossing a deep ravine about 
a mile beyond the blockhouse, the horsemen at the head of our 
advanced guard suddenly drew up and their horses snorted and 
refused to advance. On coming up with thein, we s^aw tlie cause. 
About fifty dead l)odies, all naked and headless, were scattered 
about. This massacre had evidently but just taken place, as the 
blood was still streaming from their necks. 

vSome thirty Iladjutes had lured the Captain in command of 
the blockhouse, a Swiss of the name of Miiller, to leave it in 
pursuit of them, at the head of fifty of the garrison. At his 
approach the Iladjutes retreated across the ravine, and he was 
imprudent enough to follow them to a spot where he could 
receive no assistance from the blockhouse. He had scarcely 
reached the other side of the ravine when he was surrounded 
by above six hundred well-mounted Iladjutes. Captain Mfillcr 
and his haudfid of men defended tliemseives to the last; many of 
tlieni were separated and cut down singly ; but their leader and 
about half of his people instantly formed into a square, and 
resolved to sell their lives as dearly as possible. Their de- 
struction was of course inevitable; and their bodies still lay as 
they fell, side 1)y side, and there was not *)ne among tiieni that 
harl not received sevenil wounds. The number of dead and 
wounded horses scattered around showed how bravely they had 
fought. The Hafijutes had, a.s usual, carriefl away their fallen 
comra<les. Of the fifty soldiers who had left the l)lockhouse one 
only escaperl who, having been wounded at the beginning of the 
fi'_'ht, had fallen among some thick brushwood, where he had 
lain concealed until the departure of the Hadjutes. He had thus 


been a spectator of the whole of this horrid scene, and had been 
forced to look on whilst the Hadjutes massacred his comrades 
and finally cut off their heads, which they bore away as trophies 
lianging to their saddle bows. ^ 

It cannot be denied that Captain Miiller caused the destruc- 
tion of his company by his rashness, but he paid for his fault with 
his life. Peace be to his ashes, for he met his death like a man. 
This scene of blood made a deep impression on me, as on all 
my comrades, whose countenances were some burning with rage 
and thirst for revenge, and others pale with terror and disgust. 
The corpses were immediately buried on the spot, the blockhouse 
garrisoned by a fresh company, and we marched back again. 

During the whole way home I did not hear a single song nor 
one coarse jest, of which there were generally no lack ; even the 
roughest and most hardened characters were shaken by that 
which they had just seen.* Every one reflected that the fate of 
their comrades might one day be their own. 

The blockhouse is about three leagues from Algiers, and 
one from Delhi Ibrahim ; so you may judge tolerably well of 
what is meant by the French territory. 

Blidah, June. 
On the sixth of May we left Duera for Blidah, the rendezvous 
appointed for the troops which were to form the colonne expe- 
ditiofinaire. For several days troops of every description, and an 
infinite number of mules laden with provisions had been passing 
through Duera. 

* We are tempted to quote from " Two Years Before the Mast," a passage 
describing the effect produced by the sad spectacle of a man overboard : — 
"Death is at all times solemn, but never so much so as at sea; a man dies 
on shore, his body remains with his friends, and ' the mourners go about 
the streets ;' but when a man falls overboard at sea and is lost, there is a sud- 
denness in the event, and a difficulty in realizing it, which gives it an air of 
awful mystery. * * * All these things make such a death particularly 
solemn, and the eflfect of it remains upon the crew for some time. There 
ts more kimlness shown b'j the officers to the Qrctv, and bij the crew to one another. 
There is more quietness und seriousness. The oath and the hud /avgh are (/one." 
— Pa<je 12, — Trans. 

44 THE FRENCH l.V AI,GIEKS. [chap v. 

Alter a march of two liour.s we left tlie Saliel mountains and 
descended into the plains of Metidja, where we proceeded, much 
at our ease, along a broad road wliich had been made as far 
as Blidah for the traffic of waggons. The lesser Atlas ap- 
peared to lie so close before us that we expected to arrive in a 
few hours at Blidah, the end of our day's march, wiiich lies at 
the foot of that range. But the great height of the mount- 
ains deceived us, and it was noon before we readied Buffarik 
which is only half way ; here we rested lor two hours. Towards 
evening Ave at last saw Blidah just before us. A thick grove of 
orange trees had till then concealed it from our sight. The 
white cupolas of the numerous mosques, lighted up by the last 
rays of the setting sun, rose from among the bright green foliage 
of the oranges. 

By tlie time we reached the town it was nearly dark, and we 
bivouacked under some old olive trees. I lay all niglit in a sort 
of waking dream and found it impossible to sleep. The soft air 
of the south, the intoxicating perfume of the orange flowers, the 
death-like stillness, rarely disturbed by the neighing of horses 
and the challenge of the sentinels — all this had such a magical 
effect on my senses, that I felt as though I was in the midst of 
one of the Arabian nights — it was not till near morning tliat I 
fell asleep, and when I awoke the sun was already high in the 
heavens. As we were to wait there a whole day for the arrival 
of the cavalry, I did not fail to take a nearer view of Blidah, 
which the Arabs justly call the Paradise of Africa. The town lies 
at the very foot of the Atlas, and for miles westward tliere extends 
a beautiful orange grove, the largest I ever saw, not even ex- 
cepting that of Seville. Eastward, on the slope of the mountain, 
are fig and olive trees, interspersed with cedars which rival those of 
3Iount Lebanon. Plentiful streams of water gush out of a ravine, 
and are conveyed in niunerous channels through the streets of 
the town. The Arab sits beneath the arcade of his house, pro- 
tected from the rays of tlie sun. bathing his feet in the cool spring 
water, and Allah and the I'rophet for his existence ; and 
well he may, for his days glide tranquilly on, like the brook at 
Ids feet. Doubts and inwanl .struggles are unknown to him ; the 
Arab has but one God, one sword, and one horse, and wants 
nothing; more. 


In good and evil fortune he equally says, " The will of Allah 
be done," and bows his head to the dust. "When I compared 
mvself, a restl ss son of the north, to this Arab, truly, for the 
first lime in my life, I was envious. But I soon reflected that it 
is impossible to retrace the path I have entered, and that, at the 
entl of the dangers and difficulties which beset it, I too may rest 
beside a cool spring under a spreading tree. 

In the plain, not very far to the west of Blidah, are the 
remains of a wall which evidently surrounded a town of consider- 
able size. There is a tradition that it was destroyed by the 
;js ormans. I could never learn its name. 

On the next morning at sunrise the whole column, consisting 
of about twelve thousand men, was in marching order, and 
the Governor, who had arrived with the cavalry the day 
before, entrusted the command to General Baraguai d'Hilliers, 
and returned to Algiers from whence he was to proceed to 

Our cavalry consisted, in several squadrons of the native 
gendarmes maures, besides a regiment and a half of French 
chasseurs d'Afrique; the latter were all mounted on native 
horses, as European horses are quite worn out in the first 
half-year. The fourth regiment of chasseurs, Mho had just 
arrived from Bona, were mounted on Tunis horses which the 
Dey had sold to the French for a ven,- moderate price ; and 
nothino- can be imagined more beautiful than this regiment. A\ e 
had besides several field-pieces ; for granades and grape-shot do 
more execution among masses of cavalrj- than round-shot : each 
piece was served by four men and drawn by four mules. In the 
plain they were drawn by two mules, but in the mountain 
districts they were taken to pieces, and one mule carried the 
barrel, another tiie carriage, and the other two the ammunition. 
It requires only a few minutes to take the cannon to pieces and 
to put it together again. 

We crossed the plain as far as the foot of the Col de Mussaia, 
which is about four leagues from Blidah, in tiiree columns, sur- 
rounded by flying squadrons of French and native horse. The 
baggage, which was considerable, vas placed in the middle. 

Besides what was loaded on mules, each soldier carried nine 
lays' provisions, consisting of ship-biscuit, rice, coffee, and sugar. 

4fi THE FRENCH IX ALGIERS. [chap. v. 

Bread aiul wine are not given on a campaign, owing to tiic very 
limited means of transport, for it would be impossible to use 
watj-o-ons, and the number of mules and donkeys required to carry 
the provisions for a marcli of five weeks is great enough as it is. 
Cattle are driven, and during an expedition each soldier is allowed 
double rations, that is, one pound of meat daily. 

Besides his provisions, which are replaced from time to time, 
each soldier carries sixty rounds of ammunition, and a linen sack 
intowliich he creeps at night, and which stands him in stead of 
both an upper and under sheet. His only outer garment is the 
^VQ}' capote, wliicli protects him against tiie summer's heat and the 
winter's rain ; his stock of shirts is usually limited to the one on 
his back, which he washes in the first stream near his bivouac, 
and which is considered dry in ten minutes. The French set but 
little store by other articles of dress, but before they set out on 
a march they take care that each soldier be provided with a 
pair of good shoes ; for shoes and arms are the first necessaries of 
the soldier on active service. One may almost say, that to be 
Avell shod is even more essential than to be well armed ; fox the 
soldier can make no use of his weapons until he has reached the 
field of battle. The bravest troops are useless if they arrive too 
late, or leave one-tliird or half of their men lagging beiiind. It 
is impossible to lay too much stress upon the good marching 
order of the soldier. Marshal Saxe used to say, " C'est 
dans les jamhes qiiest tout le secret des manoeuvres et des 
combats: ccst aiu: jambes ffuil faut s'appliquer f' and he Mas 
quite right. 

The Dukes of Nemours and Aumalc were with the column ; 
the first as Brigadier-General, the latter as Lieutenant-Colonel of 
the twenty-fourth regiment of the line; both are tall and well 
made. The Duke of Nemours generally wears the uniform of the 
chasseurs d' A f'rit/ite, which suits him athnirably, and follows the 
African fashion of wearing a tliick beard round his moutli 
and chin ; liis younger brother has not yet followed this laudable 
example, most likely for the best of all reasons. 

They are both much respected by the army as brave oflficers ; 
and, indeed, they do their duty, on all occasions, even better than 
the other superior oflicers. The Duke of Nemours, li(j\vever, in 
not so much beloved as the Duke of Orleajis, as he is thought 



proud and aristocratic, whether justly or not I had no oppor- 
tunity of telling-. 

The enemy did not attempt to molest us in the plain, although 
near the hills to our left we had constant glimpses of the white 
bernouses of the Bedouins, wlio, though too weak to make a 
regular attack, followed the column like jackals, and fell upon 
all tliat lagged too far in the rear. 

For two years the Metidja has lain waste, but it is still covered 
with ruined dwellings and self-sown corn-fields, the traces of 
former cultivation. 

With the exception of a few groups of olive trees, little wood 
is to be seen here ; only the banks of a small stream called the 
Schiffa, are covered with laurels. We rested for some hours at 
the foot of the Col de Mussaia, before the column began to 
ascend the mountain. 

This is the only pass in all this part of the lesser Atlas. 
The defiles in this narrow pass had been occupied by a few 
battalions of infantrj* the day before, as, without this precaution, 
the Bedouins might have crushed the whole army by merely 
throwing blocks of stone down the perpendicular rocks upon the 
troops defiling along the narrow path below. 

The mountain scenerj' here is most wildly romantic : on the 
left are towering rocks, on the right a dizzy precipice ; as far as 
tlie eye can reach there is nothing but tall brushwood, w ith a few 
olive trees and cedars wherever the soil is deep enough. No trace 
of human habitations was to be seen, the place appeared to be the 
abode of vultures and jackals, both of which abound. However, 
we afterwards learnt that the huts of the Kabyles are thickly 
scattered in all the defiles and glens, but they are so small and 
dingy as not to be visible from a distance. 

From the foot of the Col de Mussaia up to its highest point is 
fully seven hours' march ; and as the day was intensely hot, we 
shed many a drop of sweat. 

Our battalion, which was the only one of the Foreign Legion 
engaged in this expedition, formed the rear guard, and we did 
not reach the top of tlie mountain until long after sunset. 

The other troops had already encamped for the night, and we 
were sent on as out-posts to the Fontaine de la Croix, a full 
league furtlier, on the other declivity of the mountain. We went 

48 THE FKEXCH IN ALGIERS. [ciiai>. v. 

forward, limping and cnrsing. To make matters still worse, a 
guide was sent with us who did not know the way. At length, 
some tune past midnight, the sound of rushing waters announced 
to us that we had reached our destination. This Fontaine de la 
Croix derives its name from a huge cross cut into the living 
rock, probably by the Spaniards, as a pious memorial of their 
conquest. We had not much time for rest, iis the signal for 
marching was given before sunrise. We were now the first oi 
t lie advanced guard, and on we went, up hill and down dale. The 
Bedouins made an attempt to fire upon the column in a large 
olive grove, through which we had to pass at the foot of the 
Col, but our scouts and sharp-shooters soon drove them off. 


We reached Medeah, the end of our day's march, before noon. 
Tliis city, one of the oldest in Africa, stands on a plateau, which 
terminates on two sides in an abrupt precipice, and is therefore 
easily defended. The town is surrounded by the most splendid 
fruit gardens ; a Roman aqueduct still in good preservation, con- 
veys water to it from a neighbouring mountain, and proves the 
high antiquity of the town. It is inhabited by Jews and Arabs, 
who seem devoted to the French — a tlisposition greatly encou- 
raged by the presence of a French garrison of two battalions. 
JMedeah was formerly the capital of tiie Beylick of Titteri, and 
the residence of tiie Dey. 

We pitched our tents close to the town, beside a brook, where 
exquisite oranges, out of a garden close by, offered us some 
compensation for the fatigues we had undergone. 

In spite of pot-ifive commands to the contrary, the soldiers 
proceeded to cut down the orange and almond trees for fuel, 
although there were plenty of large olive trees in the neighbour- 
hood ; but destruction is the proper element of the soldier. 

Our bivouac usually forms a perfect square, modified of course 
by the gmund ; the infantry, who are outside, lie in double file 
behind their piled anus. Kach battalion sends out one coinpaiiy 
as an advanced post, and another company remains within the 
lines as a jiicket. The baggage, artillery, and cavalry, are placed 
in the middle. The cavalry do not furuish any out-posts, aa 


horsemen, especially in broken gi'ound, are too much exposed to 
the fire of the Bedouins and Kabj'les, who steal singly towards us. 
Tlie infantry, on tlie contrary, can more pasilyhide themselves, 
and by laying their faces close to the ground can hear the 
slightest sound. Tiiis is essential, as the Bedouins and Kabyles 
creep on all fours lilve wild beasts and fall upon single outposts, 
or shoot them from a distance when they can see them ; for 
which reason tlie outposts change their ground after dark, to 
deceive the enemy. They generally draw back a little, leaving 
their watch-fires burning, which enables tliem to see whatever 
passes between them and the fire. To our great satisfaction we 
stayed the whole of the next day at Medeah, as the General liad 
directed many military stores and other matters to be forwarded 
thither. As it was Sunday, a solemn mass was celebrated on an 
eminence in the middle of the camp, by a priest who accom- 
panied us, and who afterwards preached a verj'^ edifying sermon 
on peace. We m ere unfortunately so far from tlie priest that 
we heard nothing of the whole mass but an occasional solemn 
strain of military music. 

We started next morning before sunrise, and continued our 
route due south. We marched several days without exchanging 
a single shot with the Bedouins. Our road lay always up or 
down hill ; the heat was excessive and our marclies were at the 
rate of from four to six leagues a-day. 

In Africa it is, of course, impossible to say where or when 
the troops are to bivouac, as it depends upon finding wood and 
water. In case of need the wood can be dispensed with, as there 
is almost always enough to be found for cooking ; but water is 
absolutely necessar)' for tlie cattle and the beasts of burden, which 
die if they get none after a long march ; men can bear the want 
of it better. Of course, the General has several native guides 
who know the country, which is the more essential as the French 
have never been in this part of Africa before. 

Had we not seen well-cultivated corn, barley, and rice fields 
in the valleys, we should have supposed tliat the whole of this 
district was uninhabited. As far as our cavalry scoured the 
country they found no traces of human beings save a few 
miserable little hovels made of rushes and skins of beasts, ^^■hicll 

50 THE FRENCH IN ALGIERS. [chap. v. 

we should have thought too wretched for a dog to live in. The 
owners, of course, were nowhere to be found. In former days 
this tract of country must have been thickly peopled, judging 
from the cemeteries which we saw from time to time. These 
were generally near tiie tomb of a marabout, and of enormous 
extent : they might truly be called cities of the dead. The 
graves were all exactly alike ; no distinction seemed to exist 
among the dead. All were carefully covered with masoniy, to 
keep tlie jackals from scratching up the bodies ; and indeed no one 
can wonder that the Bedouins should wish to rest undisturbed in 
death after such restless wandering lives. Each graxe was 
marked by a large upright stone, but no date told the dying day 
of him who lay beneath it, no escutcheon proclaimed liis birth 
and descent. 

The Bedouins, who are nomadic here as elsewhere, are too 
poor to buy tents, and accordingly they build for themselves in 
a few days the wretched hovels I have already mentionefl. And 
the French make war upon these wretched houseless tribes ! 
Truly, they might as well march against the jackals. 

The Bedouins had placed vedettes on the tops of all the mount- 
ains to give notice of our approach. We could distinctly perceive 
on the distant hills, single horsemen in white bernouses who 
retreated as we drew near them. 

"We were now in the province of Titteri, among the mountains 
of the second Atlas range, which at this point is not divided by 
any considerable rivers or valleys from the lesser Atlas. It is 
impossible to tell where the one ceases and the other begins : all 
is mountain. Farther west, on the contrary, the extensive plain 
watered by the SchcUif forms the natural division. 

After several days' march the mountains which had hitherto 
been covered with mere bru.shwood became more wooded and 
romantic in their a])|)earance. "SVe passed through immense 
forests of olives, firs, and jiujipers, the latter of which grew to a 
consificrable height. A great fire must have rafj*^! in one part of 
the forest, as nearly all the trees about it were black and charred. 
Some of them, however, still had so much vital power left that 
they had shot out afresh at toj). Our column followt^l a caravan 
track through the wood. 

It is remarkable tliat on tlie very highest i)oiut of all these 


mountains there stands a marabout. These marabouts are at th.e 
same time the temples and the mausoleums of the Bedouin priests, 
who are also called marabouts. They are rsualh' small, — from 
thirty or forty feet square, — sumlounted by a cupola, and com- 
monly built of rough stone ar.d whitewashed. Thus these house- 
less children of tlie desert, who have no abiding-place for 
themselves, yet build a house for their God. 

One day our company was detached in order to cover the right 
flank ; we were separated as sharp-shooters, and our road lay 
near one of these marabouts. The door was open, and curiosity 
impelled me and a few others to enter. We stepped in, and saw 
an old man in a white bernouse prostrate on the groiuid praying. 
It was indeed a spot well fitted for prayer and meditation ; here, 
on the graves of his forefathers, so near to heaven, everything 
proclaimed the transitory nature of earthly things and the great- 
ness and majesty of the Eternal. 

As some of us approached him and made a noise, the priest 
arose and motioned us back with his hand, saying, " JS'o bueno 
Romis" (not well Christians). We involuntarily drew back. 
The whole appearance of this man was that of an inspired pro- 
phet. AYe afterwards joked about it, but no one could conceive 
how this man came to be in a place so far from all human habi- 
tations. The Arabs and Bedouins call all Christians and Euro- 
peans by the name of Romis, i. e. Romans. 

I do not know whether the jackals are particularly numerous 
in this district, or whether it is that they follow our column, but 
every evening after sunset they serenade us most melodiously. 
The jackal is not unlike our European fox, but it feeds chiefly or. 
corp.>;es and carrion, and is therefore dangerous only to ihe dead. 

It is curious that the hoarse croaking bark of the hyajna is 
always heard together with the howling of the jackal. The na- 
tives assert that every pack of jackals is led by a hyaeiLa. These 
serenades are not very enlivening. But though the howling of 
hyaenas and jackals was my regular lullabye, and my knapsack 
my only pillow, I did not sleep a whit the less soundly after a 
good day's march. 

By degrees the country grew more and more desert and tree- 
less. The hills were bare and the valleys afforded but little water, 
and that little was fet'd. The streams were already dried up ; 

E 2' 


in the deepest places a little water was still standing-, but it was 
so bitter that it could scarcely be used for cooking. It was only 
here and there that we found fresh springs. "NVe suffered cruelly 
from heat and tliirst : each man filled his flask every morning, but 
tiie water was soon drunk during a forced march, and it is not 
every one that knows how to make the most of it. During the 
first part of the day as little as possible should be drunk, and 
even later a very small quantity, and tiiat only while at rest ; 
much drinking merely heats and weakens. When we halted at 
mid-day and found water we generally made some cofllee, which 
even without sugar or milk was most refreshing. Before start- 
ing in the morning we usually drink coffee, in which we soak our 
biscuit. In tiie evening we make soup of the meat which is given 
out ; so, you see, we cannot be accused of gluttony at any rate. 
But, indeed, this heat takes away all appetite, and one longs for 
nothing but a shady tree and a gushing fountain ; all else is 

It is strange to see the efforts made by every creature when 
we are coming near a spring or a brook to reach it quickly. 
The weary faces of the soldiers resume their animation ; the 
horses and mules who smell the water half a league off begin to 
neigh : and on reaching the water both men and beasts plunge 
into it, to satisfy their l)nrning tiiirst. General orders and sen- 
tinels are of no avail ; what is j)unishment or even death to the 
soldier at such a nu)ment ! lie would much rather die by a 
bullet than by thirst. IMost of them lose all self-control, and 
drink till tlu'vare literally full. I have seen some of them drink 
with a small tin can called a fjuart, which each soldier carries 
hanging to his l)utton-liolc, as much as five or six })intsata time. 
It is extraordinary that more do not die of it ; but the water is 
generally warmed by the sun, and llie subsequent marching 
brings on profuse perspiration. 

Here, where one would least expect (o find human l)cings, the 
Bedouins have begun to show tiiemselves in great nvnnbers, and 
to attack tlic flanks and the rear of the colunm, Perliaps they 

ciiAP. v.l THE FRENCH I\ ALGIERS. 5.? 

have been retreating' before us all tliis time, and now that we 
draw near the lesser desert they are determined to retreat no 
further, ^y degrees their numbers increased, and without offer- 
ing any resistance to the head of the column they hovered round 
us all day, greeting ns with wild yells of " Lu, lu" which pro- 
bably meant '• Allah." 

They gallop without any order, and singly, to within eighty or a 
hundred paces of our sharp shooters, and discharge their rifles at 
full speed. The horse then turns of his own accord, and the rider 
loads his piece as he retreats ; and this is repeated again and 
again all day long. 

The Bedouins never wait for a close encounter hand to hand 
when charged by our cavalry ; they disperse in all directions, but 
instantly return. The only difference between them and the 
Numidians, of whom Sallust says. " They fight flying, and retreat, 
only to return more numerous than before," is, that the Kumi- 
dians of old fouglit with bows and the Bedouins have rifles. 

This kind of fighting is equally dangerous and fatiguing to us. 
It is no joke to be firing in all directions from sunrise till sunset, 
and to march at the same time, for we seldom halt to fight at 
our ease. The General only orders a halt when the rear -guard 
is so fiercely attacked as to require reinforcement. Any soldier 
of tlie rear-guard who is Avounded or tired lias the pleasant pro- 
spect of falling into the hands of the Bedouins and having his 
head cut off by them. One comfort is, that tliis operation is 
speedily performed : two or three strokes with the yataghan are 
a la-sting cure for all pains and sorrows. 

There are, it is true, a certain number of mules and litters to 
carry the sick and wounded ; but on so long an expedition as 
this the number of the sick increases to such a degree tliat in 
the end every means of conveyance is overloaded. The only 
resource, then, is to unload the provision mules, and to distribute 
rations for eight or ten days more among the soldiers. In tlie 
end, however, both men and mules are dead beat, and every one 
must shift for himself. It requires long habit, and much suffer, 
ing, before a man can bear to see his comrades butchered before 
his eyes without being able to help then). 

For several successive days we were attacked with such per- 
tinacity by the Bedouins, and their allies the Kaybles, that we 


supposed we must be coming upon their den, and so indeed i, 
turned out. One evening, after a hot forced march, we saw on a 
mountain toj), which formed a plateau, a great heap of stones 
which we knew to be a town. In two liours we were close upon 
it. Our battalion and several others climljed tlie steep liill, in 
order to enter the town from above, wliile the rest of the column 
attacked it from below. "We were driving the IJedouins before 
us all the time. At length we reached the walls, which were 
low and battleraented, but to our astonishment no one appeared 
to defend them, and the gates stood w ide open. Suspecting a 
stratagem, some of us climbed to the top of the walls to look 
into the town. Tlie nest was empty, and the birds flown ; as 
usual we had come just too late. The whole column poured 
into the town, which was I think called Callah, and the soldiers 
eagerly ransacked the houses. Tiie owners could not have been 
gone long, for the kuskussu on the hearth was still hot. A few 
fowls, cats, and lambs, which the Kabyles had left behind in their 
jmrry, and two rusty cannons, were all tlie spoil. A far greater 
uod-send was a fine spring of water near the city gates. Here 
we made up for the thirst we had endured all day. 

After taking as much wood as was wanted to cook our supper, 
we set fire to the town. We then bivouacked on an eminence at 
a distance, Avhere we slept as soundly as if we had performed 
some glorious action. 

The soldiers began to grow impatient ; we were now close to 
the lesser desert, without apiiarently being a bit the nearer to 
Abd-el-Kader's castle, wliicli was the object of the expeditio)i. 
They began as usual to invent the most extraordinary theories, 
some asserting that the General had sold us to Abd-el-Kader, 
others that we were in a few days to figlit a battle against tlie 
Emperor of Morocco, although we were then further from 
Morocco than from Algiers. 

The Lesser Desert. 
One morning before leaving our bivouac, we were ordered to 
{ill our kettles with water, and to carry some Avood upon our 
knapsacks, as we should have to pass the night in the desert. 


After two hours' march the desert lay before us, and a most 
cheerless prospect did it afibrd. To the south nothing uas 
to be seen but an undulating surface of shifting sand : on the 
east and west alone, the Atlas range was still visible. 

The palm grows better than any other tree in this scorching 
soil ; but it was only from time to time that we found one, and 
then so stunted and withered was it that it could afford no shelter 
to the weary wanderer. The palm is seldom found in groups, 
generally single, or at most in twos and threes, for which 
reason the natives call the palm tree the hern)it. 

AVe had of course no idea ho%v far the desert might extend, 
and felt as desolate and fearful as the young sailor who for tiie 
first time sees his native shore fade from his siglit. To our 
great joy we soon turned westward, always following the track 
of a caravan. The march was excessively fatiguing, as no 
breath of air tempered the burning heat under which we toiled 
along, up to the ancles in sand. I was so tired, that I could have 
exclaimed with King Kichard, " A horse ! a horse ! my kingdom 
for a liorse." Towards evening we reached a spot which the 
Bedouins had but lately quitted, as we saw by the traces of tents 
and herds. To our great joy we found several deep cisterns 
containing some water, not indeed fit to drink, but good enough 
for cattle and for cooking. These cisterns are filled during the 
rainy season, and some water remains in them till far into the 
summer. Next day we turned still more to the west, and 
towards evening we reached the foot of the mountains, where 
we bivouacked beside a brook, whose vaters had called forth 
luxuriant vegetation. We were not a little rejoiced to escape 
from the accursed desert. Many of us had already bidden adieu 
to life, and fancied tliat we saw our bones lie bleaching or. 
the burning sand. 

Tlie green banks of this small stream where we lay seemed 
to us a perfect paradise. On the following morning we followei! 
the course of the brook upwards with more than usual speed, 
Dreceded at some distance by the cavalry, whence we supposefl 
something must be in store for us. Towards mid-day some 
Bedouius showed themselves one by one on our rigiit flank, and 
discharged their rifles at the column. As the wiiole body of 
cavalry had been sent forward, sharp-shooters were detached, who 


succeeded in keeping the Bedouins at a respectful distance. By 
degrees, liowever, they came in greater numbers, and grew 
bolder, so that our sliarpshooters liad to be constantly reinforced 
and relieved. It is most fortunate for us tliat tiie Bedouins have 
such a holy horror of the bayonet. The sharp-shooter may feel 
perfectly secure against an attack Iiaud to hand with the 
yataglian from any single Bedouin. 

They confine themselves to swearing and shooting at him, 
both always at full gallop ; and as the aim of a liorseman is far 
less certain than tliat of a foot soldier, the sliarp-shooter has the 
advantage. The Bedouins fight hand to hand only wlien they 
are greatly superior in numbers, or when a small band is cut otf 
from the main body ; then, indeed, tlie danger is very great. 


Towards evening we at length saw on a height before us 
the castle of Abd-el-Iva(h;r. tlie object of our expedition. It was 
a large square building in tiie European style, surrounded with 
high walls. 

Close to it blazed a village wiiieh the Bedoiiins liad fired 
M'ith tlieir own liands. The cavalry had taken the castle with- 
out a single blow, for the Arabs had just deserted it. 

Every soul had fled, leaving nothing but bare walls. "We had 
again arrived too late, and I tiiought of the words of my friend 
Hassan, "Quickness is the soul of war." I am convinced that 
we are very deficient in cavaliy, more especially in native horse- 
men, who know every hole and corner in the defiles, and whose 
horses can scramble anywhere. Our cavalry is not nearly 
strong enough to act for several days independently of infantry 
and artiller}\ Possibly, too, the General was not particularly 
well served by his spies and guides, or some one of those thousand 
accidents may have occurred which cause the failure of even the 
best laid jdaiis. 

"We l)ivouaeked immediately under tlie c;istle walls, for it was 
late, aiul both men and horses were too tired to pursue the 
enemy. "We all rushed into the castle to see the inside, and, if 


possible, to piiiiuler; hut nothing was left except a good many 
sheepskins and a few carpets. 

The whole con.stniction of the castle plainly showed tliat it 
had been biult under the direction of European architects. The 
rooms of the Emir alone were arranged in the Arabian manner. 
The European prisoners had been confined in the vaults below, 
where we found the names of people of all nations written on 
the walls. Some bewailed that we should come too late, and 
that they were to be transferred to some other dungeon, they 
knew not w here. Many prisoners of condition had been shut up 
there ; among others, a French Sous I/itendanf, who had been 
seized by a horde of Bedouins near Duera, not far from 
Algiers. This man was afterwards sent back without ransom, 
upon the intercession of the Bishop of Algiers, who wrote to 
Abd-el-Kader about him. It is but just to add, that the pri- 
soners of Abd-el-Kader, who were subsequently released, said that 
he had treated them very humanely. It is true that they worked 
at his buildings, but they had enough to eat, and were not 
beaten. As soon however as the Emir was gone on a distant 
expedition, they were shamefully ill-used, and after a hard 
day's work got only a iiandful of barley and a little oil, — a poor 
repast for those accustomed to the strong meat of the north. 
I have since met with a Dutchman who had passed three 
years in this slavery, at the end of which he was exchanged : 
hunger and misery had rendered him completely imbecile. He 
had lost all sense of taste and smell, and swallowed indis- 
criminately everything that was jilaced before him, whether 
good or bad. 

We stayed here the following day to rest. The cavalry went out 
to reconnoitre whether any of the Bedouins still lay hidden in the 
defiles and valleys, but returned without having found any traces 
of them. These people have a peculiar art of driving away 
large herds of cattle with incredible rapidity. The engineers 
completely destroyed the castle by blowing up the walls, and 
setting all the wood that was in it on fire. 

To the great joy of us all, a march back to Milianah was 
ordered. But before reaching the plains of the Schellif Ave 
liad to cross the arm of the Uanseris mountains, at the cost of 
infinite sufierin": and fatigue. 

53 THE FKEN'CII IN ALGIERS. [chap. v. 

On tlie second day we came to a defile, at least tive lca'u,iies in 
length, and so narrow that in many places we had to march in 
sinirlfc file. On either hand rose lofty and precipitous rocks, 
Mhicli the infantry were forced to occupy and defend. 

Before daybreak these positions were taken without much 
difficulty, for the Bedouins had already deserted them. The 
infantry and cavalry, posted on the heights on either .side of the 
pass, covered the advance of the column, and the main body and 
the artillery began to defile through ; this took so much time 
that the head of the column had already debouclied before the 
rear had begun to move. It is scarcely conceivable how, w itii 
the column drawn out over at least five leagues of ground, we 
escaped without a mishap. 

Considerable masses of cavalry showed themselves on our right 
flank, and made several attacks on us, but all so feeble atid imcon- 
nected that they were easily repulsed. We bivouacked upon a 
•plateau on the side of the defile, but the rear-guard did not reach 
the spot until late in the evening. In a few days more we reached 
the Schellif, which the natives call the great river,— a name it by 
no means deserves at this place, where it is .'^niall and insignifi- 
cant ; but the youthful impetuosity with which it das^hes over 
rocks and hollows gives promise of its future size. We followed 
its course for several days, marching sometimes on the right, 
sometimes on the left baidc, on account of the narrowness of the 
valley ; and having no pontoons with us, we had tiie pleasure of 
wading through the stream several times a day. 

The rivers in Africa are seldom so deep as not to be fordable ; 
but the health of the soldiers is destroyed by constantly marching 
in wet clothes, more especially in tiie morning and evening when 
they do not soon dry. I am convinced that many illnesses, par- 
ticularly fevers and diarrhrca, are brought on by this. I'esides, 
the soldiers' feet suffer terribly from the softening of the skin and 
the hardening of the shoes. 

Piy dint of .>^couring the cdunfrj in all directions, our cavalry 
at last succeeded in .<uri)ri>ing a tribe an»l taking two or tiiree 
jirisoners and a few hundred shcej), whicii barely supplied us with 
meat for one day. It was fortunate that we had such a (jiiantity 
of live stock with us, for we must otherwise have died of Iiunger. 
As it wa.s, our poor oxen were grown so thin, owing to forced 


marches and want of food, that Pharaoh's lean kine vonld have 
seemed fat in comparison. 

By-and-by we reached the end of the Uanseris mountains, 
wliere the valley of the Schellif widens into an extensive plain 
which we found covered with corn, although no tents or huts 
were to be seen. As the wheat and barley were still too green 
to burn, the column deployed to its utmost breadth, so as at 
all events to trample down the crops as much as possible. 


The further side of tlie plain is skirted by the lesser Atlas 
range, on the southern declivity of which stands Milianah, whose 
white walls and mosques we distinctly saw from afar. 

Towards evenings we reached the foot of these mountains, and 
bivouacked immediately under Milianah. On tlie followiiig day, 
%\ hatever anununition and provisions we had remaining, about, 
eight days' supply, were sent into the town. Immediately above 
IMilianah is the highest point of the lesser Atlas, and the town is 
built half way up tlie mountain, on o, plateau, which falls abruptly 
on three sides. This was formerly the residence of Abd-el-Kader, 
who showed great judgment in the choice of a spot so easily de- 
fensible and commanding the fruitful plain of the Schellif. A 
beautiful clear stream which gushes out of a hollow above the 
town, runs through the streets, and serves to work the powder 
mills and manufa'jtories established by Abd-el-Kader. 

In 1840, when the war broke out between Abd-el-Kader 
and the French, Milianah was besieged and taken by the latter. 
One half of the besiegers assailed the town from below, while the 
rest having succeeded in planting some caniion on a height com- 
manding the town, poured their shot down upon it. When Abd- 
el-Kader saw that he could hold the place no longer, he deter- 
mined to retreat by the only gate which was still free, and first 
rode sword in hand through the streets, cutting down every one 
tliat would not follow him. Nearly all etlected their retreat in 
safety, and most of the families settled on the northern slope 
of the lesser Atlas. The town contains few buildings worth 

on THE FRENCH IN ALGIERS. [chap. y. 

lookintj at, except the palace of the Emir. Tlie Frencli have 
repaireil and considerably strengthened the fortifications of the 

With Milianah Abd-el-Kader lost the valley of tiie Schellif, 
and was compelled to retire as far as the Miiia. He transported 
his wives and children and his most valued property to Teke- 
dempta, a rocky fastness in the greater Atlas, beyond IMascara. 

From ]Milianah the column marched towards the Col de 
Mussaia, whicli we had to pass again. Kext morning, when 
we were still about twenty leagues from this accursed Col, 
General Changarnier was sent in advance with four battalions of 
infantry, of which ours was one, some cavalry, and a few field- 
pieces to occupy the positions in the pass. Those who were not 
in good walking order were left behind with the column. We 
started at four in the morning, and marched the whole day, only 
halting for ten minutes at a time, till we reached the Plateau dcs 
Reguliers, (so called from Abd-el-Kader's regular troops, who 
often encamp there,) which lies at the foot of the Col. Evening 
had already begun to close in. The day had been excessivelj' hot, 
and the forced march had fatigued us so mucli, that it was abso- 
lutely necessan,' to halt and to give the soldiers time to cook their 
soup and to recover a little. In two hours we were to start 
afresii. The soldiers were indignant at such an unusually long 
and rai)icl march, and railed at tlie harshness and cruelty of the 
General, who they said sacrificed his men to a mere caprice. 

The soldiers, of course, could not see the need for such excess- 
ive haste ; some poor fellows moreover had been left on the 
road for want of mules to carry them. I several times lieard tlie 
exclamation, " I wish that the Bedouins would grow out of the 
grounrl by millions and put an end to us all." The fatigues and 
hardships of tliis kind of war at last produce perfect indlHer- 
ence to life, which becomes a mere burden. Indeed it is an 
old saying, " That nothing is better calculated to render the 
soldier careless of danger than fatigue and privation." 

When Sylla was made commander of the Roman forces against 
Mithridates, he found the Roman legions so enervated by ease 
and luxury that they were afraid to foce the enemy ; but Sylla 
workini them and niarclied tliem about till they besouglit him to 
lead them to battle. He then attacked the enemy and i)eat tiiem. 


General Changarnier, who eomniauded us, is kncnvii by tlie 
whole army as a brave soldier who exacts the very utmost from 
others as well as from himself, and who accordingly most often 
succeeds in his enterprises. He is more feared than loved by the 
men ; who say, " C'est un homme dur ce Changarnier." He 
appears to be a few years above fifty, powerfully built, but with a 
head somewhat weather-beaten by the storms of life. He has been 
figiiting in Africa ever since the first occupation. 

After two hours' rest, when night had completely closed in, we 
started again in perfect silence, and left our watch-fires burning 
to make the enemy believe that we were going to bivouac on the 
plateau ; we wound up the mountain, which is far steeper on this 
side than even on the other. This night was one of the most 
painful of my whole life. The oppressive heat and forced 
march had so exhausted us that we marched more asleep than 
awake, and were only roused by striking our feet against a stone, 
or our noses against the knapsack of the man before us. From 
time to time we were reminded of our danger bj' the order 
'■'■Serrez ! serrez /" and indeed it was necessary to keep close, for 
whoever lagged behind was lost. We all dropped down asleep 
during the short stoppages which inevitably took place at the 
difficult passages ; and without doubt we left behind us many 
sleepers, who Mere not perceived by the rear-guard and instantly 
fell a prey to the Bedouins. About four o'clock in tiie morning 
we passed the Fontaine de la Croix, wliere we bivouacked on our 
former march ; thus we still had a league to march before 
reaching the highest point of the Col. From this spot the 
battalions separated, in order to ascend the various heights. By 
five we were at the top, almost without firing a shot. 

These positions are so iinpregnable that the Bedouins could have 
driven us back merely with stones if tliey had had any resolution. 
I am convinced that the Kabyles of Budschia and Dschigeli 
would have sent us home in a fine plight. As we had to wait 
for the arrival of the main body, we established ourselves on the 
mountain top as well as we could. Greatly to our annoyance, 
however, no water was to be found in the neighbourhood, and 
we were obliged to fetch it a wh.ole league from the Fontaine 
de la Croix. 

Towards mid-day, when the fog cleared off, we discovered 


the blue Mediterranean beyond the plain of Metidja and the 
Sahel mountains. We greeted it as our second home, witii loud 
cheers and cries of " Land," for the sea was to us what the 
harbour is to tlie sailor after a long and perilous voyage. From 
this point, one of the highest of the lesser Atlas, we enjoyed the 
most glorious prospect. On one side we saw the vast plain of 
Metidja and the sea beyond it ; on the other, several small 
valleys, where pastures still green proved the fr\iitfulness of the 
soil. In one of these little valleys we espied a few huts and a 
flock of sheep graziTiu;- in peaceful ignorance of their danncer. 
This time the poor iiiliabitants of the hovels were protected by 
their poverty : had the prey been better worth taking, a division 
of cavalry would soon have been down upon them. 

The sharp and broken outlines of the mountains and the dark 
foliage of the olives, pines, and cedars, which clothe their sides, 
give a singularly wild and sombre character to the Atlas range. 
The air at this height is sharp and piercing even in summer; and 
while we could scarcely breathe for tiie heat below, we here 
buttoned our capotes up to our very chins. This appeared to be 
the land of vultures and eagles, which soared and screame«l 
around us by hundreds, apparently highly offended at their 
unexpected guests. They came so near to us tliat several of 
them were sliot by the soldiers with split bullets ; but they were 
a perverse and stiff-necked generation, which even when mortally 
wounded difl not cease from biting and clawing. 

The main body arrived towards evening, and on the following 
moniing we continued our march towards the INIctidja, with 
great alacrity and good humour. Our knapsacks were liglit, 
and the prospect of making up at Rlidali for the liardships we 
had undergone infused new life into all of us. 

At noon we were already at the foot of the motuitains, and a 
few hours later the mosques and orange groves of Blidali lay 
before us. 

It was indeed hiu^h time for us to return to the camp, for the 
number of sick had increased frightfully of late ; horses, mules, 
and donkeys were all overloaded with tliem, and many a one 
who would long since have been giviMi over by the |)I)ysicians in 
Kuropo still crawlefl in our ranks. Our shoes and clothes were 
in rags ; many even had wound pieces of ox hide about their 


feet in default of slioes. AVe bivouacked close by the town on tlie 
bank of a small brook.- All the people in the town came out to see 
us and to convince tliemselves that we were still alive, for it had 
been reported several times that the column was utterly destroyed. 
They lifted up their hands in amazement at our deplorable 
appearance ; and it was only on comparing ourselves with these 
sleek and well-fed citizens that we perceived how wild and wretched 
we looked, and that our faces were dingy yellow, and our bodies 
dried up like so many mummies. I am convinced, that except on 
the persons of the attendants on the sick, and some of the superior 
officers, not even Shylock himself could have cut one pound of 
flesh out of the whole column. 

Arabs, Jews, and Christians vied with each other in offering 
us wine, fruit, bread, &c., at very sufficient prices, for in Africa 
nothing is gratis. 

All discipline was now at an end : the officers were soon dis- 
persed among the various cxifea and restaurants, and the soldiers 
bought as much bread, fruit, and wine as they could get for 
their few sous, and seated themselves under the first shady tree 
tliey could find, where they drank till all the miseries of life 
were forTOtten. 



Arab Valour — Abd-el-Kader — Snakes — Buiuinjj the Crops — Roman Bridge — 
The Duke of Auniale falls sick — I'luudering of a Kabyle \ illage — The 
Prisoners — Tlie Queen's lomb— Her Royal Crown — Inexpediency of 
turning the Sword into a Ploughshare. 

After stopping eight days to repair the state of otir arms and 
shoes, the column marched again to provision Milianah. and to 
lay waste the plains of the Scliellif with fire and sword. All the 
cavalry, save two squadrons, were dismounted, and their horses 
loaded with all sorts of provisions, rice, meal, coHee, sugar, &c. 
As we left Blidati rather late, we were forced to pass the night 
on this side of tlie Col de Mussaia, in an olive grove at the foot 
of the mountain. In all my life I never saw so many small birds 
as in this grove ; it wai> positively alive with them. Tiiey twittered 
and warbled in all tongues ; the bullfinciies especially delighted 
me with a melody so like that which they sing in my own 
countrv, tliat I fancied I recognised some old acquaintances 
among tliem. 'J'lie soldiers contrived to catch a number of 
young birds, who, dreaming of no danger Iiad ventured out of 
their nests, and to cook them for supper. 

On the following day we ascended tlie Col ; not indeed without 
fatigue, but with infinitely less than the first time, for we were 
already steeled by habit. We l)ivoiiacked ou tiie Plateau des 
Rrf/tiUrrs, at the opposite foot of the mountain. 

We reached the plains of the Scliellif in two days without 
molestation. The heat began to be intolerable to us in this region, 
bare of trees, and surrounded by higli mountains, which shut out 
every breath of air. Towards mid-day we could scarcely breathe, 
and many of our iiuml)er perished from thirst and fatigue, some 
died oil the sj)ot ; tiicy suddenly fell down backwards, foiiniingat 
the mouth, and clenching their hands convulsively, and in ten 


minutes they were deafl. To add to our distresses, a body of 
three or four thousand Arab horsemen appeared on our left flank, 
headed by Abd-el-Kader in person. "\Ve were in the most awk- 
Mard position in the world ; all our cavalry, save two squadrons, 
was dismounted, and the column scattered over a space of at least 
two leagues. I am convinced that if Abd-el-Kader liad made a de- 
termined attack upon us at that moment he might have ainiiiiilated 
the whole column. Instead of this, only a few irregular parties 
of horsemen galloped towards us, discharged their rifles, and re- 
treated. Once or twice a considerable number of Arabs assem- 
bled together, as if preparing to attack us. But our General im- 
mediately ordered some grenades to be thrown among them out of 
a few field-pieces, and the whole body was scattered like chafl" 
before the wind. This want of resolution in our enemies was 
extraordinar)-, for Abd-el-Kader must have known our position, 
and even if he had not a single spy, he could perceive it with his 
own eyes. "SVe saw him several times within nmsketshot, gallop- 
ing about with his attendants, to give orders. I believe that tliis 
inaction was owing to no Avant of courage or cai>acity in him, 
but to the character of the Bedouins, and to their peculiar mode 
of warfare, which nothing can induce them to alter. They never 
attack en masse, except when tiiey can overwhelm the enemy 
with their numbers. By this practice the Bedouins have drawn 
upon themselves the reproach of cowardice from the French : 
whether with justice is not for me to decide; but I think tliat 
much misrht be said on behalf of the Bedouins. 

It is quite true that they have no courage collectively. The 
reason is, that they want those ties by whicli masses are held to- 
gether, — a higher degree of civilisation, and a leading idea, — 
either love of a common country, or religious enthusiasm. The 
former is unknown to the Bedouin, whose tribe is his country, and 
v/hose next neighbour is often his bitterest foe : he is never, like 
the Arab, deeply imbued with religion ; to him Allah is a mere 
god of plundering and murder. To these causes is added the cus- 
tom of a tliousand years ; these tribes have known no other mode of 
warfare since the days of the ZS'umidians. The Bedouin conception 
of bravery and of cowardice is totally unlike ours. He sees no 
cowardice in retreating before a superior force, and returning to 
tlie charge at a more favourable opportunity, but necessary pru- 



ilence — a quality which stands as high in his estimation as valour. 
The Bedouin would never shrink from the European in single 
combat, and frequently surpasses him in endurance of priva- 
tions, and even of death, which he meets with the resignation of 
a philosopher. 

We afterwards heard that Abd-el-Kader had endeavoured by 
every means in his power to induce the cldefsto make a regular and 
organised attack upon the column, but all in vain. That very 
evening we reached the foot of the mountains just below Milianah, 
and the favourable moment for attacking us was past, 

Abd-el-Kader is a handsome man of about thirty-seven or tliirty- 
eiiirlit. Although dressed in the common Bedouin bernouse and 
turban, he was easily distinguishable from his attendants by tiie 
splendor of his arms and of his horses. Even from a distance I 
thought I could trace on his dark and bearded countenance the 
intrepidity and religious enthusiasm by which he is distinguished, 
Ilis bearing was proud and noble. I could not help watching this 
man with a certain degree of admiration, for he alone is tlie soul 
of the whole resistance to the French ; without him no three 
tribes would act in common. I heartily wished him a better 
fate ; for his lot will be either to fall in battle, or to be betrayed 
by his friends, like Jugurtiia, to whom he may well be com- 
pared, although to equal courage and perseverance he unires an 
elevation of character not ascribed to the Numidian of old by 
historians, who indeed were nowise impartial. 

Abd-el-Kader has strictly forbidden his soldiers to kill tiie 
prisoners in cold blood, and in order to put a stop to this practice 
among the Bedouins, he pays ten Si)atiisli dollars for every living 
captive. The Emir recei ed an almost Huropean cikication 
fiom Ids father, wlio was a marabout Idgidy venerated by the 
people, and who lived for several years in Italy, where he became 
acquainted with European habits and manners. 

Abd-el-Kader exereises great influence over both the Bedouins 
and the Arabs, from being their eeclesiastieal as well as temporal 
ruler: he is the Khaleefeh (Vicegerent of tlie Prophet), 1 have 
seen one of the Arabs of our own allied cavalry reverentially 
touch the earth with his brow on hearing the name of Abd-el- 
Kader ; but his veneration would nowise have deterred him from 
uiurdenngor taking prisoner the Khaleefeh and his \vli(dezemala. 


Tlie column bivouacked at the foot of the mountain, where we 
had one whole day's rest, while the provisions and ammunition 
intended for jNIilianah were being carried up into tlie town. 
It was the turn of our company to furnish outposts, — a service 
which recurred every sixth day, and I was sent with twelve 
others to the outermost line. 

At the foot of these mountains there is an abundance of water 
such as is rarely seen in Asia. Streams gushed out of the ravines 
and covered the surrounding country with the most luxuriant vege- 
tation. There was an equal abundance of snakes, which we could 
well have spared. "We had established ourselves behind a clump 
of wild olives to protect ourselves from the scorching rays of the 
sun, and I had formed a sort of small arbour and lain down under 
it to sleep, so as to be fresh for the night, when of course rest 
was out of the question. Scarce had I fallen asleep when I was 
roughly shaken and called by my name. I jumped up and seized 
my arms, thinking that at the very least Abd-el-Ivader and his 
whole army were upon us, when my comrades showed me a huge 
snake coiled up behind my knapsack. It gazed enquiringly at 
us with its wise-looking eyes, and glided away into the bushes 
as soon as we attempted to seize it. We now held a council of 
war ; for although the snake had as yet behaved with great pro- 
priety, we thougiit the presence of such guests during the night 
hiirhlv unwelcome. We accordingly resolved to set fire to the 
brushwood, and before long it was in a blaze. Presently our 
friend slipped out in haste and tried to take refuge in some 
bushes close by ; but we fell upon it with sabres and muskets, 
and one of us at last succeeded in pinning it to the earth with his 
bayonet just behind the head. The creature hisserl and lashed 
fiercely with its tail, but all in vain, its lajst hour was come. Its 
head was severed with a sabre from its body, which continued to 
move for several hours. When we left the spot in the morning 
the chief matador hung the snake round his neck as a trophy, 
and it was so long as nearly to touch the ground on both sides, 
so that it measured eight or nine feet at least. 

We had not marched far over some marshy ground covered with 
rushes and withered grass, when the battalions just before us sepa- 
rated as if by word of command, and another snake darted in long 
curves down the middle. We instantly made way for it to pass. 


68 THE FRENCH IN ALGIERS. [cmaf. vi. 

The snake seemed in a great hurrj' and instantly disappeared 
among the rushes. One of the chief discomforts of Africa is the 
number of creeping things, poisonous as well as harmless, and of 
wild beasts. They are all, however, far less dangerous to man 
than is generally supposed. At any rate botiies of men have 
nothing to fear from them, as they invariably retreat before an 
advancing column. They only attack human beings when urged 
by the utmost necessity, either of self-defence or of hunger. I 
can only remember two instances of solitary sentinels being 
attacked and torn in pieces in the niglit by hyaenas, which are 
indeed the most dangerous of all animals, as they kill for the 
mere pleasure of killing, and not from hunger. There is also a 
great plenty of lizards, scorpions, tarantulas, and all such vermin. 
The scorpions generally lurk under the small stones ; and great 
care should always be taken in lying down to sleej), not to move 
them and thus disturb the scorpions, which miglit tlien crawl over 
one's hands or face and sting them. Land tortoises abound in 
tlie marshy spots where the soldiers hunt for them during the 
marcli and eat them for supper. They atlbrd an excellent soup 
and their flesh is as tender as chicken. 

We marched only about two leagues and then bivouacked on 
the further bank of the Schellif, in the very mithlle of a fine 
wheat field. The whole left bank, as far as the foot of the mount- 
ains, was covered with wheat and barley just ripe for the sickle. 

"VVe saw nothing more of Abd-el-Kader, who had marched 
westward along tiie left bank of the Scliellif the day before witii 
all his cavalry. From our bivouac we could trace his route by 
the clouds of dust. He, pr(>l)ably, perceived tliat lie had missed 
tiie favourable op))ortuinty of attacking us. 

Tlie column remained three days on the same spot, diligently 
f-mployed in cutting as much corn as possible, and in con- 
veying it t> Milianah on every available horse, mule, and 
donkey in the camit. The harvest was so abundant as to sup- 
ply tlie town for a wliole year. On tlie fourtli day we followed 
the course of the .Scliellif, burning tlie standing corn as we 
went. We did not, like Samson, set fire to the corn fields of 
the Philistines by driving into them three hundred foxes, with 
burning torches tied to their tails. We had the advantage 
of the experience of ages, and the noble inventions of modern 


times over the Israelite hero. Lucifer matches were distri- 
buted among the rear-guard, with wliich the crops were fired. 
■\Ve were once verj' near sutieriog from this proceeding. Some 
rovin? Arabs had thoughtlessly set fire to the corn on one side 
of the column : tlie wind blew from that quarter, and in a moment 
the wliole column was enveloped in flames. Fearful disorder 
ensued, the terrified beasts of burden ran in all directions, and 
the smoke was so thick as to prevent our seeing the troops before 
us. A resolute enemy might at that moment have cut the whole 
column to pieces. 

After a march of two days we crossed back again to the right 
bank of the Schellif, over the only bridge we ever found in 
the interior of Africa. It had five arclie^, and appeared to be 
Roman, was built of hewn stone, and as perfect as if only finished 
yesterday. At the distance of one day's march beyond this bridge 
the valley of the Schellif becomes exceedingly narrow ; the river 
pent between high mountains, rushes like a torrent : ten or twelve 
leagues further the valley again widens into a plain. 

We bivouacked upon a plateau on the right bank of the river. 
The heights around us were covered with wild olives and dwarf 
oaks, and the valleys with the finest ripe corn. As the General 
had reason to suspect that we were near some rich Kabyle tribes, 
we remained on this spot for several days, during which the 
cavalry and some chosen bodies of infantrj^ made excursions into 
tlie surrounding country every morning before dawn, and re- 
turned triumpliant and loaded with booty even,- day. 

During all this time the number of sick increased fearfully : 
the forced marches, the excessive heat, and the quantity of meat 
which the soldiers ate without any other food but bad sea-biscuit, 
undermined their health. Diarrhoea and fever prevailed in every 
division. The mules were soon so loaded that many who could 
no longer drag themselves along were rejected and left to die on 
the road. 

The troops were so thoroughly disheartened that many of the 
soldiers destroyed themselves for fear of fiilling into the hands of 
the Bedouins. One of our battalion, who had been ill for some 
time, actually killed himself on a day of rest. On the pretext of 
cleaning his musket he went down to the river side and blew out 
his brains. 

70 THE FRENCH IN ALGIERS. [chap. vi. 

From tliis point we turned back by tlie same route, across the 
bridi^e and along the left bank of the Sciiellif, and then following 
the foot of the mountains, we resumed our incendiary labours. 
This time, however, we were not left so entirely unmolested, for 
on the second day Abd-el-Kader's horsemen galloped down from 
the mountains and attacked the right flank and tiie rear of the 
column with so much vigour, that the General was obliged to 
halt several times in order to send reinforcements to tiie rear- 
guard. Tims, with tlie thermometer at 100", in a plain entirely 
bare of trees, the July sun darting its scorching rays full upon 
our heads, we had to return the incessant fire of the Bedouins, 
enveloped in the smoke and flames of the burning corn, and with- 
out a drop of water to quench our thirst ! Truly, if purgatory be 
half so hot. one year's penance would suftice to wijie out more 
sins than I iiave committed in all my life. 

Tlie Be(U)uins pursued us as far as tlie eastern boundary of the 
plain, where they left us by degrees. Tlie number of the sick 
jiad increased so terribly that the General now resolved to send 
them to Blidah, and then to march with the rest of the column 
into the mountains of Chercliell. Among the sick was the Duke 
of Aumale, who iiad been carried in a litter for several days, 
and, indeed, this was probably the true reason for sending the 
sick to the hospital. General Bedeau, who had been made 
Marechal-Je-Camp during this expedition, commanded the convoy 
of sick. The Duke of Aumale* succeeded General Bwleau in 
the command of the 17th light regiment, wliich had distin- 
guisiied itself honourably in every expedition. 

From this point the column marched t© Medeah in one day, 
a distance of at least sixteen leagues. We stayed two days in that 
town to rest the weary soldiers. 

Our cavalry liad the good fortune to surprise a hostile tribe 
concealed in a neighbouring valley, and to take a great number 
of cattle. On leaving Medeah we crossed the main ridge of the 
lesser Atlas to the westward of the Col de Mussaia, through some 
defiles which took the whole day to pass. We had not, how- 

* The Duke of Aumale has since made his entry info Paris at the head of 
this rcpiment. 'Tis a pity that it was not then in the same plight to which it 
was reduced by this exj>edition, that the Parisians might have formed some 
idea of what the war in Africa really is. 


ever, such a height to cliinb as at the CoL "We followed 
the course of a mountain torrent which forms several con- 
siderable waterfalls. Tiie iieights on either side were covered 
^\ it h the finest pine and olive trees, and the whole scene was 
wildly beautiful. 

We reached the northern slope of the lesser Atlas on the 
second evening, and bivouacked in a small olive grove. Directly 
after midnight our cavalry started in deep silence, and the rest 
of the column followed before daybreak. "We marched west- 
ward into the mountains, lietween Milianah and Cherchell, the 
abode of several considerable Kabyle tribes, among which the 
Beni-]Manasser is the most powerful. "We marched veiy rapidly, 
only halting ten or fifteen minutes at a time, till four o'clock r.M., 
V hen we heard several shots just before us, which re-echoed a 
thousand times among the high mountains. As we concluded 
that our cavalry were already engaged with the hostile tribes, we 
hastened our march, and were soon met in a valley by a tribe 
of Kabyles, — men, women, and children, and countless herds of 
cattle, flying before our cavalrj-. After a short resistance, most of 
the men able to bear arms, — some on horseback, and some on 
foot, — fled in all directions, and hid themselves in the mountains. 
The old men, women and children, and twelve or fifteen thousand 
head of beasts, consisting of sheep, goats, two thousand cows, 
and a few camels, fell into our hands. Many of the goats had 
four horns. 

As our bivouac was not far from some Kabyle villages, we of 
course went to look at them. Tliey lay almost hidden at the foot 
of the mountains, and high hedges of prickly pear surrounded and 
nearly concealed from sigiit the low huts built of rough stone, 
and covered with a flat roof of rushes. Most of tliese hovels 
had already been set on fire by our cavalry. Some of the soldiers 
searched the burning huts at the peril of their lives, but found 
nothing save a few sheep skins, a pot of honey, and some cats, who 
seemed unwilling to leave their homes. 

"We made a sortie on each of the two following days, but came 
too late on both. The tribes were informed of what had hap- 
pened, and we found nothing but their emjity huts. 

72 THE FKENCH IN ALGIERS. [ciiu'. vi. 

The prisoners, chiefly old men, women and children, were 
driven with the cattle, under a special guard, in the middle 
of the column; it was heart-rending to see women and cliildren, 
unaccustomed to walking and barefooted, compelled to follow the 
rapid march of the colmnn, over rocks and briars. Their feet 
were soon torn and bleeding, and tliey dragged tliemselves along 
M'ith the greatest difficulty. They seldom made any complaint : 
only when one of their number dropped from fatigue, and was 
left behind, they all uttered a loud wail. 

"We now left the mountain and turned back towards tlie plains 
of the Metidja, wliere we encountered all the horrors of an 
African summer. Eveiy trace of vegetation had disai)pcared ; the 
burning sun liad so parched the soil that it was full of clefts 
large enough for a man to hide in. The dark green of the few 
scattered olive trees was changed to a dirty yellow ; in sliort, a 
northern winter with its snowy mantle, is a cheering sight when 
compared to the desert and melancholy aspi^ct of an African 

During the summer months the nights are as cold as the days 
are hot ; the change of temperature is felt at sunset, and towards 
daybreak a heavy dew falls, as penetrating as rain, and very 
dangerous to the health ; it frequently produces diseases of the 
eyes which end in blindness. The natives invariably draw their 
bernouses over their heads at night to protect them from the bad 
effects of the dew ; we have adopted tliis custom, and the sol- 
diers seldom lie down at night without a cap or a handkerchief 
over their f;;ces. 

We marched towards Blidah across the plain at the foot of the 
Sahel mountains. This ridge of the chain is low at this point ; 
it is highest near Algiers. It contains most beautiful and fruitful 
vales, in which are forsaken gardens and villas which once 
belonged to the Moors. The heights are covered with dwarf oaks 
and other shrubs wliich shelter numbers of wild boars, smaller 
and less fierce than those of Europe : the soldiers often kill (hem 
with their bayonets. The natives assert that the Spaniards 
brought tliese unclean animals into the country out of spite. As 
swine are an abomination to the Mahomedan, and may not be 


eaten, the breed rapidly. The strongest expres.sion of 
contempt that an Arab can use to an European is " Haluf." 

At about tliree leagues from Coleah, on some high table land in 
the Sahel mountains, stands a gigantic African moiniment, wliich 
both the Arab and the French call the Queen's Tomb. It is in 
the form of a marabout, built of rough stone, and has every 
appearance of great antiquity. The natives attach the following 
legend to it. Once upon a time a Spanish Queen landed on this 
coast with an army of fifvy thousand men, in order to conquer the 
country ; but even at her landing an evil omen foretold her failure : 
as she left her vessel the crown fell from her head into the sea, and 
could never be found again. A great battle was fought on the 
very spot where the marabout now stands, the Queen was beaten 
and destroyed with her wliole army, and the tomb was raised by the 
Arabs as a memorial of their victory. The Arabs still seek the 
lost crown on this coast, and it is said that from time to time pearls 
of prodigious size and beauty are found upon the beach. Some 
of the better informed among the Arabs have told me that the 
monument contains graves of the Kumidian Kings, which seems 
rather more probable : at any rate it is of liigh antiquitj". Nor do 
I remember to have read of any Spanish or other Queen who 
ever invaded this countr}-. 

Not ver}' far from Blidah, we came upon several French 
regiments of the line bivouacking on the plain, and at work 
upon a ditch and breastwork which the Governor had com- 
manded to be thrown up the whole way from the sea to Blidah, — 
a distance of ten leagues, — in order to protect the Metidja from 
the attacks of the Bedouins. The ditch is about ten feet deep 
by twenty wide, with a breastwork in proportion, strengthened 
with palisades ; small blockhouses are built at intervals of a 
thousand paces to command the ditch. 

This work will very much impede, if it does not totally pre- 
vent, the nocturnal forays of the Bedouins ; it will, at any 
rate, put a stop to their coming on horseback, and in great 
troops. If a few should even steal in on foot between the 
blockhouses, they would not be able to drive away their prey, 

74 THE FRENCH IN ALGIERS. [chap. vi. 

such as cattle, ike, wliich is tlieir chief object. The completion 
of this eightli wonder of the world is much to be desired, for the 
protection of the lives and properties of the unfortunate colonists 
in the plain, and as an inducement to others to settle there, for 
colonisation has made very little progress hitherto. Buffarik, a 
small village chiefly inhabited by Germans, is the only colony 
in the plain. 

Coleah, Duera, and Delia Ibrahim are the only colonies of any 
importance in the Sahel, and even tliere the whole colonisation 
consists of cafe'!, canteens, and a few kitchen gardens. 

At Coleah they have begim to form a colony of old worn out 
soldiers, but I have great doubts of its success. These veterans, 
it is true, have the double advantage of being tolerably well 
used to the climate and of knowing how to conduct themselves 
with prudence and coolness when attacked by the enemy ; on 
the other hand, an old soldier generally makes a very bad 
peasant, and is ten times more patient of the dangers and hard- 
ships of war than of daily work witli spade and plough. He 
usually takes unto himself some profligate woman not at all 
likely to attach him to his home, and then of course, neglects his 
farm, and soon dissipates the small sum allowed him by the 
Government, and the end of it all is. that he sells his oxen 
and his plougli, turns off his female companion and enlists for a 
few years more. And now the old fellow wlio used to curse the 
service heartily, finds it quite a decent and comfortable way of 
life, and it is amusing to hear with what indignation he speaks 
of the life of a colonist. 

The only means of establishing a permanent colony in Africa 
would be for the Frencli (iovernnient to send over, at some 
expense it is true, a numl)er of real agricultural families from 
the north of France, or, better still, from Germany. The 
sotithern Frenchmen arc totally unfit for colonists. The only 
kind of agriculture which they would be able to pursue with 
any jirrifit is the cultivation of the grai)e, and this is strictly 
prohibited, for fear of injuring the mother countrj*. Hitherto 
the Government never seems to have been really in earnest 
about the colonisation of Africa. 


The column returned to Algiers tiirough Blidah, BufFarik, 
and Duera. From Algiers we are to be distributed into summer 
quarters : winter quarters do not exist here. One battalion is 
to be sent, for the present, to Mustaplia Superieur, the depot of 
tiie Foreig!! Legion ; and we sliall soon go to Coleah, a town in 
tlie Sahel mountains, in a most healthy situation, to recruit after 
our fatigues and losses. 



Inspection of our Regiment — Military Iiitendants — Hupital du Dey — Its 
Inmates — Eastern Garden. 

Algiers, September, 1841. 
Our regiment has lain eight days under the walls of Algiers, 
between the Casabah and Fort V Hmpercur, on the very highest 
point of the whole town. Home Mooden sheds have been assigned 
to us as quarters. 

We marched hither from Coleah in two days without great 
exertion : and are in daily expectation of embarking to join 
the column at Mostaganem. 

A few clays ago our regiment was inspected by the Militarv 
Intendant and the Inspector-General, wliose duty it is to examine 
the state of tlie troops every three months : but as we have been 
constantly in active service, this is the first time since I have 
joined the Legion that a review has taken place. These officers 
are supposed to assure themselves that the troops and materials 
of war are in efficient condition, and to see tliat the men have 
everything to which they are entitled. The whole affair is 
however a mere formality. The two gentlemen walk through 
tlie ranks, look at tlie reports, and ask here and there a soldier 
whether ho has any complaints to make : after which they get into 
tlieir carriage, com]iIiiiicntitig the Commander in the most flatter- 
ing terms, on tlieachniralile condition of his regiment. llocla- 
mations made by the soldiers are satisfied in the most summary 
manner by arrest for groundless complaints. There is unfortu- 
nately often cause enough for complaint in all the regiments, 
but the means of appeal are so complicated that a soldier has the 
greatest difficulty in making his grievance known. Any com- 
missioned or non-commissioned officer who ventured to assist him 
Mould never be forgiven, and must give up all hopes of advance- 


iiient as long as he lives. Kothiug is so odious to the French as 
a reclameur. 

I do not think that the Military Inteiidants answer the purpose 
for which they were intended, — that of preventing abuses. If 
the soldiers have no confidence in their superior officers, they will 
have still less in these Intendants, who are not at all more in- 
flillible, and who in case of any abuse only go shares with tlie 
former. At all events the Intendants are universally hated by 
the soldiers. They are generally sent here by favour and pro- 
tection, to recruit their broken fortunes ; as the Roman Praetors 
and Proconsuls were sent into the conquered provinces. They 
know nothing of the soldiers, and care notliing about them. 
That their office is a very lucrative one, is sufficiently proved by 
the luxurious lives which most of them lead. A harem of 
women of all nations, balls and dinners, compensate these gen- 
tlemen for the want of the Parisian salons. 

I walked to the great hospital called V Hopital du Dey to visit 
a sick friend. This building stands on the western side of the 
city, in tlie gardens formerly belonging to the Dey, and its posi- 
tion on the slope of the Sahel, open to the refreshing sea breeze, 
is equally healthy and delightful. The Dey's palace is converted 
into apartments for sick officers, and for those connected with 
the administration of the hospital, while as many as fifty or sixty 
wooden sheds have been erected in the vast garden, and constitute 
the actual hospital. These are capable of containing eight thou- 
sand men, and yet they are sometimes insufficient for the number 
of sick who pour in from all sides. They are well built ana pro- 
vided with beds, but not solid enough to keep out the heat of 
summer. The treatment and care of the patients are not bad for 
Africa. The soldiers, indeed, complain that they are starved, and 
that all their diseases are doctored with rice water and tisane ; 
but these are good remedies for diarrhoea and fe\ers, which are 
the prevailing disorders. Besides, discontent is one of the cha- 
racteristics of the soldier. At any rate, the hospitals are much 
improved since Bugeaud's arrival. In several places they have 
begun to build strong massive hospitals, to replace the wooden 
sheds; and the frequent personal visits of the Governor have 
done much towards abolishing tlie prevailing abuses and the 
rousrh treatment of the surgeons. 

78 THE FRENCH IN ALGIERS. [chap. vii. 

"With considerable dilHculty I found my friend, who was al- 
ready convalescent ; as he was just starting for a walk along the 
winding paths of the garden, I accompanied him. Every thint-; 
had been done here to satisfy the southern longing after shade 
and water. Eartiien pipes conveyed the freshest water the 
whole way from the mountains to various parts of tiie garden in 
which it gushed forth, and thick winding alleys of magnificent 
orange and almond trees afibrded the most refx'cshing shade. 
All the sick who were able to leave their beds were assembled in 
these shady walks enjoying the cool sea breeze ; this host oi 
ghostlike beings crawling slowly along in their grey capotes and 
white night-caps had a most singular api)earance ; their glazed 
eyes looked sadly out of their sallow emaciated faces, all of 
which bore traces of misery, and most of melancholy and home- 

It was easy to guess the character and station of tlie in- 
valids from the nature of their conversation or amusements. 
Some lay on the gro<md playing at cards or with dice : these 
were old veterans who had long given up all idea of a peaceable 
domestic life, and whose only object was to kill time- 
Others walked up and down relating their exploits and occa- 
sit>tuilly criticizing their generals and officers; — tliese still had a 
.Remnant of enthusiasm for their calling. Others acrain sat on 
the benches around with drooping heads, and talked of their 
/ homes and of the mistresses they liad left behind. Several times I 
heard the mournful exclamation, " iT/a belle France ^^ Poor 
devils! many of them will never see fair France again. 

I took leaveof my friend with a melancholy feeling, niethought 
I had, like Odysseus, gone down living into the world of 



Voyage to Mostaganem — Storm — Funeral at Sea — Landing — Bivouac — 
Matamon — Bey of Mostaganem — Arabic Music— Captain Lievre — African 
Spring — French and Arab Soldiers. 

Mostaganem, October, 1841. 
Ox the 4th instant our battalion went on board a brig-of-war, of 
fourteen o-uns, which was to take us from Algiers to Mostaga- 
nem. 'SYe sailed under the most favourable auspices : a gentle 
easterly breeze filled our sails and we soon lost sight of Algiers. 
At noon we passed La Torre Chica where the French landed 
in 1830, and from whence they marched upon Algiers. It 
is the best landing-place on the whole coast. Towards even- 
ing when we were nearly opposite Cherchell the wind fell and 
was succeeded by a dead calm wliich lasted all night. The night 
was such as can only be seen and felt on the Mediterranean : tlie 
air was so warm that I could not endure the heat between decks, 
and accordingly brought up my blanket and lay down upon 
deck. The sky was deep blue and tlie stars seemed larger and 
nearer to me than I had ever seen them before. The ship floated 
like a nutsliell on the boundless and glassy surface of the sea. 

This ominous calm was followed by a fearful storm. The day 
broke with the most threatening appearances : tlie sun rose blood- 
red and evidently with no good intentions. Is umbers of sea fowl 
gathered round the ship screeching with hunger ; a quantity of 
small fish sprang terror-stricken out of the water, in which they 
were pursued by the larger ones ; and on reaching the surface 
they were instantly devoured by the gulls : for even the brute crea- 
tion acknowledges but one right — that of the strongest. In the 
distance we saw a shoal of porpoises tumbling head over heels to- 
wards the south-west. These signs made the old sailors shake 
their heads and prophecy a bad night ; — nor were they deceived. 

80 THE FRENCH IN ALGIERS. [chap. viii. 

Towards evening we saw the sea heaving from the south-west, as 
if urged by some unknown power. The Captain ordered the 
sails to be shortened, and at tlie shrill whistle of the boatswain 
some twenty sailors ran up the rigging. The top-sails were 
scares reefed before the storm was upon us. Tlie sliip reeled so 
much under the shock of tiie gale that our masts nearly touched 
tlie water : a loud crack was suddenly heard, and one of the sails 
Hew like a seagull through the air ; the bolt-ropes had given way. 
The good ship now righted. In a moment all but a try-sail was 
made snug, and the head of the vessel was turned to meet the 

We retreated before the beating waves, but only step by step, 
like a brave warrior. By this time night had closed in with a 
sky as dark and dreary as old chaos ; the sea alone was bright 
and clear, as if the better to show its yawning depths. At one 
moment the ship hovered on the top of a towering wave, and at 
the next she plunged so deep that the first rolling wave tlireat- 
ened to swallow us up. 

I leaned against the mast, holding by a rope for fear of beiiig 
washed overboard, entranced by the sight of the raging sea, and 
astonished at its beauty. Beautiful as is the sea in repose, it is far 
more beautiful in anger. Tlie calm fills us with dreary melan- 
choly, while tlie storm inspires us with the full feeling of our own 
power and activity. In such moments as these I never think of 

On tlie following morning we saw the Balearic Isles just be- 
hind us, and were losing ground. The dark olive woods of the 
island of ^Mijorca rose higher and higher out of tlie sea, and we 
had the agreeable prospect of becoming very closely acquainted 
with the ja.iged rocky shore of the island, and of trying the 
hardness of our skulls against that of its stones. 

Most fortunately the storm somewhat abated, and the wiml 
veered round to the northward, so that we could set a few of our 
sails and steer our old course towards Mostaganem. 

Although the north wind favoured us, we made very little way 
that day, as the sea ran very liigh from the south-west and the 
ship laliourefl violently and was tossed like a ball on the ocean. 
During the night the sea went down a little, and we continued 
our course with a moderate north-wiiid. 


One of our battalion died tliis morning- : the body was lashed 
upon a board and lowered into the sea without further ceremony. 
" Vois tu, Pierre, comme il nous regarded' said an old sailor 
to one of his messmates, pointing to the already distant corpse. 
" To be sure," answered the other " they all do so as long as the 
ship is in sight." I looked after him, and true enough, each 
time the dead man rose and sunk with the waves, he turned his 
pale face towards the vessel. No class of men are more super- 
stitious than sailors, unless indeed it be soldiers. 

Towards evening we saw the coast of !Mostaganem, and on the 
top of a high rock the town with its fort and surrounding block- 
houses. Mostaganem has no proper harbour, only a roadstead 
which cannot be used except in calm weather. It was night when 
we cast anchor, and as the sea was then smooth and might possibly 
become rough, the captain sent us ashore in his boats. As lie was 
assisted in this operation by several larger boats which came from 
the shore, the battalion was soon landed. It was too late to march 
up to the town, so we took up our well-known quarters in the 
Hotel a la Belle EtoUe. Our bed was soon made ; every one 
wrapped himself as well as he could in ids blanket, laid his head 
on his knapsack, and was soon lulled to sleep by the regular 
murmur of the waves. 

In a short time I woke again ; the deepest silence reigned 
around me, and the stars looked down upon me as bright and 
calm and cheerful as if they had never known grief, nor troubled 
themselves in the least about the miseries of the unfortunate 
dAvellers upon earth. The solemn silence of nature was only 
broken by the chafing of the waves against the rocks. I lay and 
watched wave after wave break at my feet, till I gradually sunk 
into a most pleasing reverie. In spite of all the hardships and 
distresses it has inflicted upon me, — in spite of sea biscuit and 
sea sickness, I still love the sea. When a boy, my secret and 
favourite scheme was to build me a castle on the sea shore, therein 
to end my days, and at last to die like the king of Thule : 

" There drank the old carouser 
His last — last spirit's glow, 
Then flung the hallowed wiue cup 
Down to the flood below. 

6-2 THE FHI';NC[1 in ALGH:KS, [chap. VIII. 

" He saw it falling, filling. 

And sinking in the main ; 
For him — his eyes were sinking — 
He never drank again."* 

That was indeed a jovial and glorious death ! I could not 
wish a better. 

After daybreak we marclied to Mostaganeni, wliich stands half 
a league from the sea, and took up our quarters in some wooden 
sheds under the walls of Matamor. 

Matamor is a small Moorish fort built on a rock commanding 
the town. Here the Spaniards formerly won a great victory over 
the Moors, and thence the name Matamoros (kill the Moors). 

Mostaganem is separated from this fort by a considerable 
brook, which rises at about two leagues up the mountain. The 
town is accessible only from the south, by one solitary gate ; on 
every other side it is surrounded by a deep ravine at the bottom 
of which roars a mountain torrent, or by lofty and precipitous 
walls of rock. It would therefore seem easy enough to defend 
Mostaganem against any attack, but unfortunately Fort IMatamor, 
which should protect the town, itself needs protection, as it is com- 
manded by a neighbouring iieight, and its walls are not of sufficient 
strengtli to resist heavy ordnance ; and thus it was that the French 
obtained possession first of the fort and subsequently of tiic town. 

Mostaganem contains four or five thousand inhabitants, Arabs, 
Spaniards and Jews, besides the French regiment in garrison. 
The town must formerly have been much larger, as is shown by 
the number of ruins scattered without the walls ; but, with tlie 
exception of a few mosques, there is no building of any import- 
ance. Tlie former citadel, the Ca-^bah, is in ruins, and is only 
garrisoned by some fifty or sixty pairs of storks wlio have founded 
a colony on the extensive walls. 

Almost as much Spanish is spoken here as French or Arabic. 
Nearly all tlie natives speak a corrupt Spanish, a kind o{ lingua 
franai, which prevails in all the towns on the coast of Africa. 
The younger generation, however, — boys from 10 to 14 — 

• I have borrowed these lines from a translation of Goethe's well-known 
ballad, " Der Kimig in Thule," by the Kev. Dr. Hawtrey, published in his 
" Auswahl von Goethe's Lyrischen Gedichten.' ■ -7V«fl*. 


speak French with tolerable fluency, but somewhat marred by 
their deep guttural tone. The ease with which Arabs and 
Bedouins continue to imitate whatever they have but once seen 
or heard is very remarkable. Nature seems to Iiave bestowed 
tiiis gift of imitation on half-savage nations to compensate them 
for the want of original invention. 

The General lives in the town, where some of the best 
houses have been arranged for him and his staff; the troops 
are quartered in wooden siieils, j)artly in tiie town and partly 
under the walls of IMatamor. Tliese sheds would hold as 
many as fifteen thousand men, but the actual number is nine 
thousand, including the allied cavalry, which is composed of 
from two to three thousand Arabs and Bedouins under the com- 
mand of a native leader, called the Bey of 3Iostaganem. He is 
a fine handsome man of about forty, and w;is formerly a friend and 
devoted adherent of Abd-el-Kader, in wliich capacity he gave 
the French much trouble. He once proposed to Abd-el-Kader 
to make an attempt to recover his lost town of Mascara which, 
the French had taken and then left, ill provisioned and worse 
garrisoned : the Emir did not enter into the sciieme with suf- 
ficient alacrity to please the Bey wlio denounced Abd-el-Kader 
as a coward, and threatened to desert Iiimand to join the French. 
This was no sooner said than done. He and his two or three thou- 
sand horsemen went over to the French, and he has been their 
most faithful ally ever since. The General treats him with the 
greatest distinction, and his own people reverence him as a prince. 
He never goes out without a considerable suite ; on his left 
rides a marabout, and on his right the officer whose duty is to 
shelter him from the sun with a huge yellow umbrella ; he is pre- 
ceded by musicians beating the tam tarn, a large drum, accom- 
panied by pipes and cymbals. They always play the same tune, 
which seems to be a triumphal march, discorflant enough to 
European ears, but delightful to Arab ones. The moment tiie tam 
tam sounds, the Arabs rock themselves to and fro in their saddles 
with pleasure ; and I must confess, that diabolical as I thought 
this music at first, I grew fond of it in time, and something 
seemed wanting to me if the Arab march was not played on 
entering or leaving the bivouac ; so true is it that old familiar 
tunes affect us most powerfully. Most lil^ely it is less the music 



itself than the crowdof images and recollections wliich it awakens 
in our minds that exercises sucli magic pow er over us. For this 
reason every regiment should have a march of its own, to be played 
on particular occasions, as is the case with most regiments here. 
"When the well-known tones of the regimental march strike upon 
the ear of the weary and exhausted men, the effect is magical : their 
wan faces brighten up, their muscles acquire fresh strength, and 
they march forwards with renewed vigour, perhaps even hum- 
ming a song. 

It is said that the French Government pays the Bey as much 
as forty thousand francs a year for his services. Each Arab 
soldier receives a franc a day, out of which he has to maintain 
himself and his horse ; besides this pay he has his share of the 
razzia money. The booty made on these expeditions is distributed, 
or should be so legally, among the officers and soldiers according 
to their rank ; but the common soldiers complain, and perhaps 
not quite without reason, that tlie higher powers are apt to 
keep the lion's share for themselves. The Bey and the superior 
officers lodge in the town; the rest of the Arab cavalry is 
encamped without the walls on the southern side of the brook. 
Each soldier has his own tent, where his wife or wives manage 
his household ; his horse stands picketed and usually ready 
saddled at his door, both sunnner and winter. A few minutes 
suffice to prepare this body of cavalry for action. At the 
sight of the colours flying on the top of the mosque, and at 
the sound of the tarn tarn, the Arabs jump on their horses and fol- 
low their leader. A few flays ago a report wiis suddenly spread that 
Abd-el-Kader had seized our cattle at pasture in a valley about a 
league hence ; the general march was beat, the colours were hoisted 
on the top of the mosque, and the warlike tani tarn was 
sounded. In one moment all were under arms, and each division 
marched as it was ready : the Arabs started off singly and 
galloped to the scene of action, spuring their bleeding horses to 
their utmost speed ; they swung their long rifles round their 
heads as if they iiad been javelins, crying aloud, " Plianlasia ! 
VlianLasia !" in their joy and eagerness for battle. It is not 
possible to conceive a wilder or more beautiful picture of war. 
Before we could reach the spot, panting and heated from 
running, the action was over. Our herds and their guards had 


been attacked by a few bold robbers belonging to a neighbouring 
tribe, avIio had fled at tlie approach of our Arab cavalry : a chase 
ensued, but without success, for the robbers were as well mounted 
as their pursuers, and had a considerable start and no inconsider- 
able fear in their favour. 

Most of our Arab horsemen are mounted on Bedouin 
horses, which are a neglected variety of the Barbary breed ; they 
are small and lean, but of wonderful speed and endurance : 
with very short intervals of rest they can keep up a sort of long- 
gallop up and down hill, over any sort of broken ground for the 
whole day, and they are as sure-footed as goats. 

The Arabs ride with matchless boldness down the precipitous 
and broken sides of the mountains. Often, when we have been 
pursued by the enemy and left them as we thought on the very 
top of the mountain, in a few minutes we have been astonished 
by their bullets whistling about our ears. 

Besides the Bey's horsemen, several considerable tribes of 
Arabs and Bedouins near Mostaganem and Oran have submitted 
to the French, and come daily to the town with their camels 
and horses to bring fruit, corn, vegetables, cattle, &c., to market. 
They cannot fail to discover in time that they derive the most 
solid advantages from the French dominion, under which their 
lives and properties are far more secure than they ever were 
before, and their produce is trebled in value. The latter cir- 
cumstance they are especially able to appreciate, for, barbarians 
as they are, they well know the value of money ; indeed, I never 
sav/ men so rapacious as the Bedouins ; perhaps their avarice is 
called forth by the contact with Europeans. 

It is highly entertaining to see the soldiers haggling with 
the Bedouins for fruit, eggs, &c. The soldier comes with the 
full intention of overreaching the Bedouin (lui tirer une carotte), 
and of robbing him by force or fraud, of a fowl or of some 
eggs, for in Africa everj-thing is a lawful prize. The Bedouin, 
on the other hand, who most likely has been cheated two or 
three times before, stands resolutely on the defensive and never 
parts with anything until the money is paid into his hand. This 
provokes abuse, in which, however, the Bedouin far excels even the 
Frenchman, and blows not unfrequently follow ; but the Bedouin 

86 THE FRENCH I\ ALGIERS. [chap. viir. 

would rather lose his life than the sinallest fraction of his pro- 
perty, and the fight continues till a Sergent de police comes up 
and puts an end to it. 

The hundreds of Bedouins mounted on camels and horses, and 
the quantity of Arab cavalry interspersed with sokiiersin various 
luiiforms, give a very peculiar air to Mostaganem. It is a perfect 
picture of a camp, where in spite of want, misery, and of danger 
past, present, and future, the childish, careless joyousness of the 
soldiers is everywhere apparent. 

About a league from here is Fort jNIassagran, famous for the 
heroic defence by Captain Lievre. I have heard an account of 
this whole affair from eye-witnesses, and am fully persuaded that 
the defence was one of the most gallant actions of the whole war, 
althoughit was somewliat exaggerated by the French newspapers. 
The fort, the walls of which are tolerably higli and strong, stands 
on a plateau which falls precipitously on the northern side, 
rendering the fort inaccessible in that quarter. The village of 
Massagran lies somewhat lower down and could only be de- 
fended indirectly. 

Captain Lievre had luider him a hundred and fifty 
discipluiaires and a few cannon, while for several days in 
succession the fort was assailed by a host of six or eight thousand 
Bedouins, on foot and on horseback, who made several attempts to 
carry the place by storm. All their attacks were repulsed with 
the most determined coolness, until at length the fort was relieved 
by troops sent from ]Mostaganem. It is true that tlie g-arrison 
had the advantage of higii walls and some artillery, but any 
one who knows how powerfully so overwhelming a mass of 
assailants affects men's minds, can estimate the extraordinary 
experience and intrepidity required in order to retain thorough 
.self-possession. Tlie wliole company of di^r.iplinaires who had 
foruKid the garrison, were innnediately reinstated among the regi- 
ments of tlie line, and eacli soldier received a medal struck for the 
occasion. Caj)tain Lievre was made a Commandatit and received 
tlie cross of the Legion of Honour. 

Commandant Lievre has the reputation of a I)rave and dis- 
tinguished ofl'icer ; he commatided a battalion of th(> fifty-third 
regiment, (if I am not mistaken,) which formed part of our 


colonne mobile, and of almost every expedition up to July 

Mostaganem and Oran have been for centuries the ports to 
which all the caravans from the interior of Africa have come 
to exchange their produce with that of the north. The towns of 
Mascara and Tlenicen, which are but a few days' march from 
lience, served them as resting-places and warehouses ; and they 
have lost the source of their wealth and importance since the 
French occupation has driven the caravan trade to Morocco. 

The district soutli of Mostaganem may be called the home of 
the Bedouins, if indeed these wanderers have a home. There 
the richest and most powerful tribes fix their tents, sow and reap 
their corn, and feed their flocks, purposes for which the countrj'- 
is well adapted. The large plains between Mostaganem, Mascara, 
and Oran, and the fertile valleys of the Schellif and the Mina, 
afford these nomades excellent pasture for their numerous herds, 
and an unlimited run for their horses and camels. During the 
whole winter, and till the month of June, which is their harvest 
time, the Bedouins camp in these places ; but when the heat 
has burnt up whatever pasture was left, they retreat into the 
valleys and defiles of the Atlas, w^here food of some sort, though 
scanty, is still to be found for their flocks and herds. 

Many of the tribes near Mostagiinem and Oran have submitted 
to the French ; thanks to the zeal and activity of General 
Lamoriciere, the Governor of the province of Oran. They prefer 
paying a moderate tribute and feeding their herds in peace, to 
seeino- their property, their wives and their children continually 
exposed to the unexpected attack of a colonne mobile. 

Middle of October. 
Nature is just beginning to shake off" the lethargy produced 
by the deadly, parching lieat of summer. A few rainy days are 
sufficient to call into existence, as it were by magic, the most 

* I saw, at Paris, a caricature of the defence of Massagran. A hare, in 
full unifoi'm, stands on the walls in the act of devouring several Bedouins ; 
thousands more are at the foot of the wall, filled with horror and amazement 
at this unheard-of proceeduig. Underneath is written — 
" Lc Lievre est un fameux lapin." 

88 THE FRENCH IN ALGIERS. [chap. viii. 

luxuriant vegetation : the richest verdure haa sprung up beneath 
the withered grass, the leaves of the trees liave lost their sickly 
yellow hue, the buds liave begun to burst, and the birds to sing 
their spring songs. In short, this is the African spring, but I 
must assert my preference for the real spring in Germany. 

The revival of natuie in the north is more powerful and all- 
pervading, tliough not so sudden. In a northern climate every 
creature greets with a more lieartfelt gratitude the glorious 
freshness and beauty of the woods and fields when their icy winter 
clothing has been stripped off by the returning sun. A more 
joyful thrill runs through us when the first lark rises towards 
heaven, pouring out its shrill hymn of praise, and the confiding 
s\vallow builds her nest under tlie eaves of our houses. It is 
far different here : it is true the song of the birds still pleases me, 
and the green carpet of nature is refreshing to my eyes. But not 
as in Europe. It may be, indeed, that the change does not lie 
in nature but in myself: the experience of a few hard years 
has, perliaps, Ijlunted my feelings, and made me less capable of 
enjoying her beauties. 

The burst of vegetation was strongest in the valley which 
divides the fort from the town, and which is watered by a stream. 
Every inch of ground there is turned to the profit of man : mag- 
nificent fruit trees, pomegranates, figs, and oranges, and tlie most 
various vegetables cover the ground, and Spaniards, xirabs, Jews, 
and Frenchmen are diligently employed in cultivating the fruitful 
soil. The soldier alone tliinks this manual labour beneath his 
dignity, and lies at full lengtli under a shady fig tree smoking a 
cigar and drinking his last sou's-worth of Spanisli wine. Others 
are washing their sliirts and gaiters at the brook : " 3Iort de 
ma vie" cries one ; " IIow much better my Suzette would wash 
the*e shirts !" Anotlier l)itterly regrets the three sous he has 
expended in soap, which migiit have been so much better laid out 
on a pint of Spanish wine. Tliese sallies produce general and 
joyous laughter. Poor fellows ! these few days of rest and relax- 
ation can scarce be grufiged them. 

The cavalry of tlie Boy, wjiolie at a little distance in strange, 
picturesque groups, form a remarkable contrast to the active, 
restless European soldiers. The Arab lies whole days before his 
tent, wrapped in his bernousc and leaning his head on his hand. 


His horse inlands ready saddled, listlessly hanging his head almost 
to the ground, and occasionally casting sympathising glances on 
his master. The African might then be supposed phlegmatic 
and passionless, but for the occasional flash of his wild dark 
eye, whicli gleams from under his bushy brows. His rest is 
like that of the NumFdian lion which, when satisfied, stretches 
itself beneath a shady palm tree, — but beware of waking him. 
Like the beasts of the desert and forest, and like all nature in his 
own land, the Arab is hurried from one extreme to the other, — 
from the deepest repose to the most restless activity. At the first 
sound of the tam tam his foot is in the stirrup, his hand on his 
rifle, and he is no longer the same man. Pie rides day and night, 
bears everj'^ privation, and braves every danger, in order to make 
a prize of some sheep, or ass, or of some enemy's head. Such 
men as these are hard to conquer, and harder still to govern : 
■were they united into one people, they would form a nation 
which could not only repulse the French but bid defiance to the 
whole world. Unhappily for them every tribe is at enmity with 
the rest ; and this must ultimately lead to their destruction, for 
the French have already learnt to match African against African, 





By M. a. DE FRANCE, 




Life on board the brig — Expedition up the country — Am noosed by the 
Arabs — They contend for the pleasureof cutting off my head — Adda sends 
me to Abd-el-Kader — The head — Painful journey — Arrival at Abd-el- 
Kader's camp. 

The brig Loiret had lain off Arzew for five months : I was 
serving on board this vessel commanded by Lieutenant Roland de 
Chabert. It is easy to conceive the diilness of our life on a desert 
coast devoid of all interest or amusement. Our only pleasure was 
a walk upon the beach, and even that was necessarily confined 
within the outposts, as the Arabs were incessantly lurking about 
the few houses which the French have built at Arzew, watching 
for an opportunity to carry off the cattle. They had already tried 
more than one coiip-de-main, but hitherto had always been repulsed 
with loss. 

On the llth of August, 1836, we received orders to be ready 
next day, with forty of our crew, to reconnoitre a well about two 
leagues beyond our outposts, accompanied by part of the garrison. 
I was one of those selected to form part of the expedition, and 
went to bed at midnight, after my watch, overjoyed at the 
thoughts of next day's excursion up the country. 

On the 12th, at four in the morning, M. Eoland de Chabert, 
the Commander of the Loiret, Dr. Clinchard, M. Bravois, and 
myself, with forty of our crew, all armed, went on shore, and 
found Captain Reveroni, the Commandant of the place, who 
informed us, that General Letang had given orders to suspend 
the expedition till he could send us reinforcements. 

As we had made all the necessary arrangements on board for 
our campaign, which we expected would occupy the whole day, 
we determined to turn our freedom to account. 

94 niE FKENCII IN ALGIEKS. [chap. i. 

The Commander and the officers of the Loiret proposed to go 
and pick up the balls, which our gunners had fired in yesterday's 
practice. We consulted the Commandant as to the fea-sibility of our 
scheme, and the danger we might incur in going beyond the 
outposts. M. Reveroni approved very much of our resolution, 
and assured us that there would be no danger in passing the 
outposts, provided we did not go too far. "We accordingly took 
leave of M. Reveroni, and advanced into the plain : at about a 
hundred yards beyond the outposts we halted, and stationed some 
of our men on a heiglit to give the alarm in case we were 
surprised by tlie Arabs. Having taken this precaution, we began 
to seek for our balls, and to measure the range of our guns ; I 
was thus occupied, at a distance of about two musket-shots from 
the rest of tlie troop with the Commander, Dr. Clinchard, and 
two sailors, when suddenly I espied a partridge close at hand, 
and after pointing it out to Dr. Clinchard, I ran after it, taking 

I had gone only a few steps, when a troop of Arabs suddenly 
poured out of a ravine, came down upon us at full gallop and 
surrounded us on all sides. They advanced towards me, crj'- 
ing, ^^ Semi f Semi!" (Friemh I Friends!) Deceived by these 
exclamations, I turnefi to explain them to the Doctor, wlien 
one of the Arabs snatched at the musket which I hehi in 
my hand ; this showed me tlieir real intentions, and I instantly 
fired at the Arab who had tried to seize the musket, and 
broke his shouhler. lie dropped his gun, which was loaded, 
and was forced to throw his arm round the neck of his 
horse to prevent falling off. I darted at tlie gun, but two 
Arabs took aim at my head, and as I turned away to avoid 
their fire, one ball gave me a slight wound on the head, and the 
other passed through my shirt and grazed my breast. 

I had not lost siglit of tlie wounded Arab's gun, and stooped 
again to pick it up, when sonictiiing rougli sli|)ped over my face; 
I raised my hands to it, and felt a ropt; round my neck ; at tlie 
same moment, a violent jerk brought me to the ground, and an 
Arab, who had the other end of the rope fastened to his saddle- 
bow, set off at full fpillop. 

My cries and entrfaties were all in vain, the Anib spurred on 
his horse, and I was dragged half strangled through rocks and 


briars. Tliis horrible torture lasted some minutes, until the horse 
was forced by steep and stony ground to slacken his pace, when 
I got on my feet again. In spite of the wounds with which my 
face, hands, and legs were covered, and the stunning effects of 
such a sliock, I still had strength to seize the cord so as to 
keep myself from being strangled, and to run forward and catch 
hold of the horse's tail. 

But as soon as the other Arabs, who had been dispersed by 
the sailors sent to our assistance, rejoined their companions, I 
was loade<l with abuse and stripped nearly naked. Our misfor- 
tune had been seen from the brig, which immediately fired upon 
the Arabs : but everj' shot cost me a fresh shower of blows, and 
the horse to which I was tied took fright at the noise and started 
forward, and I again fell to the ground ; the Arabs ran after me 
beating me all the time, and if by chance I succeeded in getting- 
on my feet, my pitiless persecutor set off again at a gallop, 
casting looks of contempt upon me. 

The incessant galloping of the horse and the violent jerks of 
the cord which dragged and rolled me among the rocks and 
briars, leaving a track of blood behind me — the abuse and the 
blows of the Arabs, lasted a quarter of an hour: this sounds 
but a short time, but it seemed very long to me. 

As soon as the Arabs thought themselves out of reach of pur- 
suit, they halted in order to cut off my head. The rope was 
taken off my neck, my hands bound behind my back, and I was 
tied to a dwarf palm tree. I was so tired, that I lay down upon 
the ground perfectly indifferent to the fate which I knew awaited 
all prisoners taken by the Arabs. I had but one sad tliought, of 
my family and my poor sister, but this was soon driven away by 
the near approach of death and the animated scene in which I, 
though chained and silent, was the principal person. 

A violent discussion had arisen among the Arabs : they bran- 
dished their sabres over my head, and each claimed the pleasure 
of cutting it off, all crjing at once, " I took him, I have a right 
to cut off his head ;" and each to prove the truth of his asser- 
tion showed a fragment of my shirt or of my coat. The Arabs 
were already taking aim at one another, and exclaiming, " I ought 
to cut off his head, and I will kill you if you don't let me enjoy 
my rights," when a horseman galloped up and threw into my 


lap tiie head of Jonquie, one of the sailors; as I turned away 
in disgust at this horrible spectacle, I saw the Arab whom I had 
wounded lying on the ground about fifty paces off. He could 
scarcely sujjport hinrtself, and was endeavouring to aim at me with 
a pistol which he held in his left hand. But horsemen were 
every instant passing to and fro before him, and he dropped his 
hand, patiently awaiting the favorable moment to fire. 

I was expecting the enfl of tiiis horrible discussion with some 
impatience, when the arrival of another horseman changed the 
determination of the Arabs. This was Adda, a spy of Abd-el- 
Kader, who had often visited us at Arzew, where he feigned an 
intention of establishing himself, and allayed any suspicion we 
might entertain of him by assuring us that his frequent visits 
were for the purpose of selecting some favourable spot for the 
settlement of his tribe. Delighted at the good-will he manifested 
towards us, we had frequently invited him to dinner. But the 
traitor had far different designs. He made use of his visits to 
mark the exact spot to which our cattle were driven : he had 
determined to seize them, and it was witli that o))ject that he 
had hidden himself in the ravine with, tlie troop winch liad taken 
me prisoner, 

When Adda saw them furiously disputing who should kill 
me. he exclaimed that I was an officer, and that Abdel-Kader 
would give tliem mucli more for my head if it was left upon 
my shoulders, and would willingly replace the tliree horses 
they had lost if I were taken to him alive. 

But the Arabs still continued to brandish their yataghans over 
my head, with the most horrible imprecations against tlie dog of 
a Christian. 

Adda userl still stronger arguments ; and when the dying Arab 
had been removed, it was decided tliat I should l)e presented 
alive to Abd-el-Kader, wlio was to choose the manner of my 
death, after paying my ransom and replacing the horses wjiich 
our men had shot. 

I was then released from the tree, and a rope was passed 
through the cord wiiich Iminid my arms. An Arab took hold 
of either end, and we started for Old Arzew. 

After a march of two hours we reached Old Arzew. I vas 
worn out with fatif.,ue and suffering— naked, wounded, covered 
with dust and sweat, and dying of thirst: and I expected that 


my body Mould be left without burial at Arzew, while my head 
would serve to adorn Abd-el-Kader's tent. 

As I was with the advanced guard of the Arabs, I was one of 
tlie first to arrive at Old Arzew. I threw myself upon the 
ground beside a fountain, and counted the troop wliich had 
attacked us as it defiled past me : there were about two hundred 
men. T\'e halted fur a quarter of an hour to rest the horses and to 
let the men eat a little. I was unable to swallow anytliing but a 
few figs and a little water, and had just dropped asleep when the 
chief gave the signal for departure, and I started under a guard 
of twenty-seven horsemen. 

Just as we were setting off, an Arab brought me a straw hat 
w ith poor Jonquie's head in it, and bade me carry it. I refused, 
and was instantly assailed on all sides by blows and abuse, and 
cries of '• Carrj' the head, dog of a Christian." 

" I will die first," -said I, throwing myself on the ground ; and 
the Arabs were about to dispatch me with the butt ends of their 
rifies, when Adda, who was very anxious to deliver me alive to 
Abd-el-Kader, interposed. The head was hung to the saddle- 
bow of one of the Arabs, and after venting their ill-humour on 
me by more blows, we started. 

During our journey across the plain of Macta, we stopped at 
three successive wells, where several Arabs of the neighbouring 
tribes met us and drew water for our men and horses. I went 
towards the well to drink, but the Arab who held the bucket 
spat in my face, saying, " This water is not for a dog of a 
Christian like thee." 

I made no answer, and went on to the next well, but there too 
the Arab who was drawing water spat in my face, and said, 
" This water is not for a dog of a Christian like thee." 

Again I bore it witli patience, but the Arab at the third well, 
not content with spitting in my face and addressing the same 
compliment to me as his predecessors had done, dashed a bucket 
full of water in my face. I was bathed in perspiration, and no 
doubt such treatment would have brouglit on an inflammation in 
my chest if I had had time to be ill. As it was, I shivered and 
threw myself on tiie ground, (always my last resource,) crying 
" You may kill me if you please ; I will not move another step, 
I am dying of thirst." This was no more than the truth, for 



jiiy tdiiuiic and my mouth were like a piece of dry cork, and 1 
was fainting from thirst. At length Adda went himself, drew 
some water and brought it to me. 

We resumed our journey through a country in which the barley 
harvest was going on, and every time we passed any Arabs at 
work in the fields or a party of horsemen, my guards called out 
" Come and see the Christian dog ;" and they all came and spat 
in my face, and fired off tlieir muskets close to my iiead, so that 
the balls whizzed about my ears. I must confess that these 
demonstrations of joy alarmed me a good deal until I got used 
to them. 

During tlie course of our day's journey we had to ford several 
rivers ; but tiiough I was often up to my middle in the water, 
these barbarians would not allow me to take a little in the |)alm 
of my hand, till at last, in spite of tiieir threats and blows, I flung 
myself down in the bed of the river and drank deep draughts ; 
this refreshed me but for a sliort time, and at every fresh river I 
had to. resort to tlie same expedient. 

At length I fell, exhausted with fatigue. It was tiiree o'clock, 
and I had walked since five in the morning, and my feet were 
torn and bleeding. The Arabs mounted me on one of their liorses, 
but in a quarter of an hour tlie owner of it dragged me off its 
back by my leg. I walked for t\\o Iiours more, and then rode 
again. At length we arrived about nightfall at the camp of the 
Borgiil tribe. 

Here I was exposed to tlie blows, insults, and spittings of men, 
women, anrl children. A tent was pitched for my guards into 
wliich I was I)ut lialf achuitted, and I lay on the earth beyond 
the carpet. 

Our j>arty had cliickens boiled with kuskussu for supper, 
which they ate voraciously ; I should have been very glad of 
a bit, but they considered me unworthy of such a dainty, and 
flung me a handful of kuskussu, which I could not swallow, as 
it was flry anrl bad, and my tliroat was so sore. 

After supper the Aral)s returned my shirt to nie and .sent a 
negro to put irons on my feet. My legs were so swollen that 
the pain of forcing the irons to shut brotight tears into my eyes : 
this treatment M'aa as useless as it was cruel, for I was not able to 
stand, nuicli less to run away. 1 stretclied myself on tlie bare 


ground and slept soundly till the next morning, \\ hcu the brutal 
negro woke me by giving a violent shake to the irons on my feet, 
V. liich hurt me dreadfully. 

I endeavoured to rise but instantly fell again ; my feet were 
lacerated and swollen, and all my wounds ached with cold and 
fatigue. The Arabs seeing that if they compelled me to walk I 
should soon expire by the road side, at length gave me a horse to 
ride, and we continued our journey towards Abd-el-Ivader's camp, 
which was not above ten leagues off. But for fear I should be too 
comfortable they hung poor Jonquie's head at my saddle-bow : it 
was already in a state of putrefaction, and the Arabs seeing the 
horror and loathing with which it inspired me, amused them- 
selves by piercing it with their swords and yataghans to 
increase the smell by exposing the brains to the action of the sun 
and air. 

We were travelling the road from Mascara to Mostaganem, 
and my heart beat for joy at thesiglit of the tracks of the Frencli 
cannon. I hoped that we might fall in with some French out- 
post, and for a moment I forgot all my misery, and even the 
putrid and bloody head before me, and fancied myself on board 
the brig and in the arms of my friends and relations, or firing a 
broadside at the Arabs. I was rather roughly waked out of my 
reverie by a shower of blows which the Arabs gave me in order 
to hasten my horse's pace. In a few miinites I urged the animal 
on, and imme<Uately they beat me violently, crying, " A 
Christian dog like thee may not dare to strike the horse of an 

We continued our journey in this manner for six hours, at the 
end of which the Arabs began to sliout for joy, and Adda told 
me that we had reached Abd-el-Kader's camp, which is close 
to the town of Kaala. It was not without emotion that I passed 
the first tents of the man who was to decide mv fate. 

100 THE FRENCH IN ALGIERS. [cnsr. ii. 


Arrival at Abd-el-Kadcr's camp — His reception — Description of Abd-cl-Kader 
— His tent — Unexpected meeting -with JI. Meurice — Abd-el-Kader's 

Abd-el-Kadei{*s camp stood in a grove of fig trees, on tlie 
road from Mascara to iMostaganem, and the tracks of tlie wheels 
of tlie French artillery were still visible in the very midst of it. 
On arriving at tiie first tent my guards forced me to dismount, 
and in a moment I was surrounded by a host of Arabs of every 
age and both sexes, shouting and screaming — " Son of dog," 
" Dog of a Christian," " Cut off his head," &c., with the usual 
accompaniment of blows and spitting. 

Presently the chaous came to my rescue, and by dint of 
vigorous blows they at last succeeded in delivering me from the 
hands of these savages, and conducted me to Abd-el-Kader's tent. 
My first reception in the camp had not been of a kind fitted to 
dispel the fears with which I went into his presence. But as 
soon as Abfl-el-Kader saw the pallor of my face he smiled and 
motioned me to sit, saying, " As long as thou art with me 
fear neither insult nor ill usage." 

Emboldened by this gracious reception I asked him for some- 
thing to drink, a.s, tliaiiks to my guards, I had not drank since 
the day before. Abd-el-Kader immediately ordered me to be 
conducted to the tent whicli served as a store-house, and there I 
received a melon, some grapes, white bread, and water. The 
melon was so good, the water so cool, and Abd-el-Kader's man- 
ner had been so humane, that my hopes and my appetite revived. 
After devouring the melon and drinking a whole jar of water, I 
was again led into the Sultan's presence. His tent is the most 
magnificent in tlie camp: it is thirty feet long and eleven feet 
liigh ; the inside is lined witli hangings of various colours, covered 
with arabesques and crescents in rcfi, blue, green, and yellow. A 


woollen curtain divides it into two unequal parts, in the further- 
most and smaller of which is a mattress on which the Sultan 
sleeps. At the further end is a small entrance for the service 
of the tent and the slaves especially attached to the person of the 
Sultan : these are Ben Abu and Ben Faka, of whom I shall have 
to say more hereafter. During- the day the tent remains open 
and accessible to all. 

On the ground in one corner lie four silken flags rolled up : 
tliese are borne before Abd-el-Kader on every march by four 
horsemen ; the first flag, belonging to the cavalry, is red ; the 
second, that of the infantry, has a horizontal yellow stripe 
between tvvo blue ones ; the third, two horizontal stripes — one 
green and the other white ; and the fourth is half red and half 
yellow. Every Friday these flags are unfurled in front of the 
Sultan's tent. There is also a small mattress covered with a 
carpet, on which lie two red silk cushions ; at each end of the 
mattress is a chest, and behind it two other chests ; the whole is 
then covered with a carpet and forms Abd-el-Kader's sofa : the 
chests contain his clothes and money. A carpet is spread on 
the ground for strangers. These things, togetlier with a high 
footstool, covered with red silk, which serves the Sultan as a 
horseblock, constitutes all the furniture of the vSultan's tent. 
The tent is always guarded by thirty negroes, who are never 
relieved and have no other bed than the earth. A good many 
chaous are always in attendance, ready to obey the commands of 
their ruler. 

I will now endeavour to describe a man of whom at present 
very little is known. From all that I had heard, I expected to 
find a bloodthirsty barbarian, always ready to cut off heads : my 
expectations were false indeed. 

Abd-el-Kader is twenty-eight years of age and very small, his 
face is long and deadly pale, his large black eyes are soft and 
languishing, his mouth small and delicate, and his nose rather 
aquiline ; his beard is thin but jet black, and he wears a small mus- 
tachio, which gives a martial ciiaracter to his soft and delicate 
face, and becomes him vastly. His hands are small and exquisitely 
formed, and his feet equally beautiful ; the care he takas of 
them is quite coquetish : he is constantly washing them, and 
paring and filing his nails with a small knife with a beautifully- 

102 THE FKEN'CII I.N ALGIERS. [chap. ii. 

carved mother-of-pearl handle, which he holds all the while 
as he .sits crouching on Ids cushions with his toes clasped 
between liis fingers. 

His dress is distinguished by the most studied simplicity ; there 
is not a vestige of gold or embroidery on any part of it. lie 
wears a shirt of very fine linen, the seams of which are covered 
with a silk braid terminating in a small silk, tassel. Over the 
shirt is a haick, and over the liaick two v. hite bernouses ; the 
uppermost garment is a black bernouse. A few silk tassels are 
tlie only ornaments about his dress ; lie wears no arms in his 
girdle, his head is shaved, and covered by three or four scull-caps 
one within tlie other, over which he draws the hood of his bernouse. 

Abd-el-Kader's father, vho died about two years ago, was a 
marabout called jNIahadin, who by means of his fortune, his 
intelligence, and his character for sanctity, had acquired very 
great fame and influence among the Arabs. Twice in his life 
he had made the pilgrimage to !Mecca, and prostrated himself 
before the tomb of the Propiiet. In his second journey he was 
accompanied by liis son, wlio was but eiglit years old. Young as 
he was, Abd-el-Kader acquired a great deal of useful experience, 
and learned Italian : he could already read and write Arabic. 
After returning from their pious journey, Mahadin instructed 
his son in the difiicult study of tiie Koran, and at the same time 
tauglit him the conduct of afiairs. 

As soon as we had concluded a peace with tlie Arabs after 
the taking of Algiers, Abd-el-Kader employed himself in ex- 
citing the tribes to revolt, in feeding and exasperating their 
animosity towards us, in stirring up their religious fanaticism, and 
above all in endeavouring to obtain the sovereign power over them. 
This, the talent, the energy, the bravery, and the cunning of the 
young marabout soon procured for him ; he quickly became their 
chief, and is now their Sultan. 

The second time that I went to the Sidtan's lent he was seated 
on some cushions with his Secretaries and some marabouts 
crouching in a semicircle on either side of him : his smilitig and 
graceful countenance contra-sted charmingly with the stujiid savage 
faces around idm. The Chief Secretary first attracted my attention 
by his Tartuff'e expression, and the rogue has always persuaxled 
Abd-el-Kader to ask a large sum for my ransom. 


The Sultan, with a smile of the greatest kindness, bade me 
be seated, and asked me, in Arabic, my name and where I A\as 
taken, and on my answering his questions, told me to fear 
nothing so lonq: as I was vith him. 

He then began to talk about our Generals who have commanded 
in Africa, and was verj' curious to know what had become of them 
all. On hearing the name of General Trezel, he flew into a 
violent rage, and cried, '' He was author of all our misfortunes ; it 
was he who broke the peace and caused such endless disasters !" 
I saw that he alluded to the battle of Tafna, by which General 
Bugeaud made up for the defeat at Macta, where we lost 
five hundred men. 

'' How many horsemen did you lose at Tafna ?" asked I. 

" How many ?" cried he, furiously. " How many? "What is 
that to thee ? The Arabs were not killed at Tafna as the French 
were at Macta ; you have never retrieved my great victor}' over 
vou there. Five hundred of our men did not return from 

Now as the Arabs are the greatest liars in the world, one may 
fairly presume that General Bugeaud killed at least twelve hun- 
dred of them at Tafna ; but I took very good care to make no fur- 
ther remark ; and after a few moments of silence the Sultan smiled 
again and said — 

" Dost thou desire anything more to-day ?" 

" I am quite naked, give me some clothes," said I, and imme- 
diately, at a sign from Abd-el-Kader, I was taken to the store 
tent and furnished with a scull-cap, a very thin haick, a shirt, 
and a pair of slippers : my trowsers were also returned to roe 
and I put them on, though all in rags, as no others were to 
be had. 

No sooner was I dressed, than I was accosted by a man, or 
rather a phantom, wrapped in a ragged haick, pale and ema- 
ciated, with a long uncombed beard, naked chest and meagre 
legs, and every appearance of having endured long and cruel 
miserj' ; a smile lit up his wan dejected countenance as he said — 

" Don't you recognise me. Sir?" 

" No, Sir, I am not aware that T ever saw you before," said I. 

" Oh, that is because I have suffered so much since we met. I 
hear that you are a prisoner, and for your sake 1 am very sorry 

104 THE FICENCII IN ALGIERS. [chap. ii. 


for it, for you do not yet know all the torments that await you ; 
but I cannot conceal from you the joy your presence gives me. 
I shall no longer be alone ; I shall have a companion who will 
share my sufferings, and to wliom I can talk of my country and 
of my sorrows, and I shall suffer less. But have you really fur- 
gotten me, ]M. De France ? I met you at dinner at M. Lafont's." 

" At M. Lafont's ? Good heavens ! are you M. Meurice ?" 

The unfortunate man wrung my hand, and his eyes filled with 
tears. I said everything I could think of to encourage and 
cheer liim ; but while I talked hopefully and gladly, my thoughts 
were occupied with poor Meurice's wretched appearance : his 
face disfigured by pain, his extreme thinness, the feebleness of 
his limbs, and the dejection of his spirits, gave me the idea of a 
dying man. When I saw him at M. Lafont's dinner at Algiers, 
he was a stout healthy man of about forty, good-looking, lively, 
and agreeable ; but ill-usage and suffering had stupiffed liini, 
destroyed all his energy and powers of mind, and unhinged his 
whole frame ; he was now weak, credulous, almost imbecile, lie 
had endured unheard-of tortures which I had escaped, and he had 
not, like me, been inured to hardships and privations bv a sailor's 

The tent in which we were lodged was as large as that of 
Abd-el-Kader, but not nearly so handsome : it served as a general 
magazine for victuals and ammunition. Near it was another which 
was used as the Sultan's kitchen, and wliere, besides, all the barley 
and kuskussu for the troops was kept. A third tent contained 
all sorts of military stores and clothing, and the provisions of oil 
and butter. 

An old negro, called Ben Faka, was the governor of our tent : 
he was formerly a slave of Abd-el-Kader's father ; he has known 
the Sultan from his birth, and is extremely attached to him ; with 
us he would be called the Conunissary General. 

The Sultan's Treasurer is Ben Abu his old tutor : he has the 
care of Abd-el-Karler's tent and treasure during the battle, and 
enjoys his entire confidence. Ben Abu stammers, owing to a 
shot which carried away half his teeth and half his tongue. He 
and Ben Faka are charged with the especial care of the Sultan's 
person. The Commander of the troops is called I\Iilud-ben- 
Arrach : he is always grave and solemn, and never smiles. His 


Lieutenant is an Arab called Muftar. who has especial command 
over the horse. During the peace INIuftar frequently came to 
Oran, Avliere he saw the manoeuvres of the French cavalry, and 
he has been trj-inp^ ever since to discipline Iiis Arabs in the same 
manner but totally without success, as the Arabs can never un- 
derstand the possibility of keeping the line while charging at 
full speed. 

I took care to impress the features of these different officers on 
my memory, in tlie hope that 1 might one day have an oppor- 
tunity of repaying them their blows, insults, and odious persecu- 
tions with lashes, and the most cruel among them with bullets. 

The Sultan has in his camp about two hundred and fifty horse- 
men and five hundred foot soldiers, who are paid and clothed at 
his expense ; among the Arabs the cavalry are lodged in the 
centre of the camp, surrounded and guarded by the infantry. The 
Califah, or General-in-Chief, is encamped near Tlemsen with as 
many more, and it is with this handful of men that Abd-el- 
Kader drives all the neisrhbouring tribes to battle. 

10« THE FRENCH IN ALGIEKS. [chap, hi, 


Meurice's storj- — The camp and the soldiery — The adventures of a German 
renegade — Arab horses — Prayers — The Sultan's band of music. 

Meurice begged me to give him an account of my capture ami 
subsequent adventures. I had just finished it, and requested to 
liear his story in return, when a negro brought us some Icuskussu 
for supper. It was quite (\<irk, and he lit a taper of yeHow wax, 
about the size of a farthing rusliliglit, stuck it on a bit of stick 
which he poked into the earth, and bade us lie down. We 
stretched ourselves upon the bare ground and the negro went 

I wish I were as well skilled in the management of my 
])en as in that of a vessel, so that I might be able to bring 
vividly before my readers a picture of the dark savage tent 
filled with strange-looking packages, and in it the two 
prisoners lying on the ground ; INIeurice, pale and livid, with his 
long matted beard and dim eyes, telling in a sad and weary 
voice, the unhappy adventure which had suddenly snatched him 
from a life of case and enjoyment, and plunged him into the most 
frightful and degrading misery. I will give his story, as nearly 
as I can remember, in his own words. 

" I was compelled," said he, *' to leave Paris after the Revo- 
lution of 1830, by losses in trade. I settled at Algiers with my 
young wife, and exercised the profession of a land surveyor, in 
which I had plenty of employment. My life, though rather 
monotonous, was very agreeable, thanks to Clarissa's incessant 
attentions to my comfort, anfl to her charming disposition. Poor 
thing ! she is so pretty, so amiable, you shall read her letters. 
Alas ! perhaps I may never see her again. 

" On the 2oth of April, 18.3fi, T had l)een to inspect an estate 
near the IMetidja. and was returning in c()nij)any with M, jNIuller, 
a civil engineer, M. D and his sister. I ,was on horseback. 


M. Muller on a mule, and M. and Mile. D in a carriage. 

On a sudden we were surrounded by a troop of Arabs : we were 

all totally unarmed, except M. D , who had a gun ; but he 

was so terrified, tiiat without even firing it ofij he darted out of 
the carriage, took to his heels and hid himself in a marsh, 
where the horsemen could not follow him. M. Muller received 
a ball in his thigh which hurt hira severely, and was instantly 

taken prisoner. The Arabs next seized Mile. D and 

endeavoured to force her to comply with their brutal desires, but 
threats, blows, and pistols held to her breast, failed to overcome 
lier heroic resistance, and the noble girl was actually cut to 
pieces before our eyes without uttering a single cry. 

" The Arabs dragged M. Muller and myself away with them, 
but were soon obliged to leave M. Muller behind with the 
i lad jutes, seeing that he must inevitably sink under the fatigues 
of the journey. He was soon exchanged for three Arab 
prisoners. They resolved to sell me to Abd-el-Kader, and set 
out to join him at his camp. I was exposed" to every possible 
kind of ill-usage on the road, blows, threats, insults, and de- 
grading tortures of every kind. To give you one instance among 
many : — At the camp of one of the tribes on the plain, the Arabs 
stripped me entirely naked, tied my hands behind my back and 
fastened me to a tree, whereupon tiie women and children amused 
themselves the whole day with flinging stones at me and smearing 
my face with the most loathsome filth ; you can form no idea of 
my sufferings, the intolerable stench of the filth, the incessant 
blows inflicted by the stones they threw at me ; the children who 
pinched and bit my thighs all combined to make my torments 

"After staying some time at Mascara we went to Abd-el-Kader's 
camp, which was then in the neighbourhood of Tafna. The 
Sultan received me kindly and bought me of my captors. He 
was very melancholy and completely cast down by his recent 
defeat by General Bugeaud at Shikak. He had confidently pre- 
dicted his own victor)', founding his prophecy upon a passage of 
the Koran, which foretold the defeat of the Christians during 
the seventh year of their settlement in Africa. 

'• Defeat destroyed all his influence ; the Arabs forsook their 

108 THE FRENCH IN ALGIERS. [chap. hi. 

Sultan and denied his autliority ; several of the tribes declared 
that they would no longer fight under his orders, but would under- 
take their own defence. They fled in all directions and de- 
stroyed everything that lay in their way ; they did not even respect 
Ab(l-el-Kader's camp, where they cut off and carried away half 
his tent and pillaged the provisions. It is a great pity that we 
had no light cavalry at tliat time, for it would have enabled us 
to seize Abd-el-Kader's camp. 

" Immediately after this defeat, the Sultan threw himself into 
Mascara with fifty horse and a hundred foot, all inliabitants of the 
town and the sole remnants of his army. A report of a counter- 
march of General Bugeaud's had spread a panic. Abd-el-Kader's 
stores were pillaged, and he would never have recovered the blow 
but for the subsidies of all kinds which he constantly receives 
from Muley Abd-el-Rachman, Emperor of Morocco, without 
whose assistance he would be utterly unable to support an army. 

" "When he saw that the Arabs, who but the day before had 
blindly submitted to his command, were now prepared to shake 
off his authority, the Sultan knew that the prisoners who re- 
mained in his camp were doomed to destruction. lie resolved to 
save them, and commanded the thirty negroes wlio guard his tent 
to escort M. Lanternier a colonist, his wife a woman of forty, 
his daughter a lovely girl of fifteen, a German lady of about forty, 
another of about twenty who was taller and as handsome as 
Mile. Lanternier, and my self, as far as Droma,and to protect us 
from the violence or the insults of the tribes we should pass 
on our way. 

" We started full of gratitude towards Abd-el-Kader, and of con- 
fidence in our negro guard, but scarcely had we gone five hundred 
yards, when the negroes suddenly halted, seized M. Lanternier. 
and myself, and bound us to a treewitli our hands tied behind our 
backs. The scene wliich we were then compelled to witness is too 
hideous to describe ; suffice to say, that the four wretched women 
became the victims of the brutal desires of our negro guard. 
Even now I often hear in my sleep our imprecations and cries 
of rage, the howls of the savages, anrl the sobs of the wretched 
women. Such is the obedience shown to tlie commands of the 
pov/erfnl Abd-el-Kader. 


•' On arriving at Droma, M. Lanternier and I were tlirown 
into a loathsome dungeon, and the four half-dead despairing 
women into another. 

" On the 3Ist July, Abd-el-Kader sent for me to Mascara, and 
tlience to his camp ; iiis manner to\vards me was as kind as before, 
and he again promised me a speedy release by exchange ; he also 
desired me to send for my wife, adding the most solemn protes- 
tations, and for a moment the desire of seeing her again almost 
overcame me, but when I imagined her exposed to blows, threats, 
and insults, I immediately abandoned the selfish idea of draging 
my Clarissa into the misery I was then enduring, and 1 re- 
fused the Sultan's offer with many thanks. He tlien told me his 
motive for sending for me from Droma, and dictated to me 
several letters to Algiers and to Oran. I have only been in the 
camp a fortnight, and I am far better off here than in the prisons 
of Droma, or the tents of the tribes. The Sultan puts some 
restraint upon the hatred of the Arabs towards the Christians, 
and now your presence will console me under my misfortunes. 
Besides, you will easily gain the goodwill of Abd-el-Kader, and 
thus alleviate our hardships, and the Governor will be anxious to 
ransom you, and your deliverance will entail mine. And now 
good night, if you are cold draw near to me and we shall keep 
each other warm." 

We were a\^akened very early next morning by the roll of 
a drum very* ill beaten ; I instantly rose and spent the whole 
day in wandering about the camp, and observing the habits and 
the discipline of Abd-el-Kader's soldier)'. 

The tents of the infantry are pitched in a circle whicli en- 
closes those of the cavalry ; each tent contains fifteen or twenty 
men whose horses are tethered outside with ropes lied round 
their fore-feet. 

The Sultan's tent stands in the verj- centre of the camp Avith 
an open space before it for his horses and those of his attendants : 
he always has eight or ten liorses ready for his own use. A 
stidight avenue is left from the front of his tent to the very edge 
of the camp where a cannon Lj placed witii its muzzle turned 
towards the plain. This is the Sultan's wliole artillery, and in 
very bad order it is. When I was there it was mounted on a 
broken French carriage, and the touch-hole was so large that 

no THE FRENCH in ALGIERS. [cHAr. ni. 

the powder Hew out fiom it in a perfect stream of fire, and burned 
the hands of the Arabs wlio fired it. It was only used for 
salutes and rejoicings. Close to tlie cannon is the gunner's tent. 
Behind Abd-el-Kader's tent is that of the muleteers, and round 
it are picketed tlie mules wliich carry the bagga^^e. 

Kear tlie kitchen tent are a hundred camels which carry tlie 
barley and tlie biscuits for the sohliers, and a flock of sheep and 
goats, one of which is given to each tent every Friday. Each 
tent furnishes two men every night to guard the camp, — one 
watches from sunset till midnight, tlie other from midnight till 
daybreak. During the day there are no guards. 

As soon as it dawns the drumbeats and the watch is relieved. 
A small quantity of detestable biscuit, full of dust and straw, is 
given to each soldier, and the horsemen give a measure of barley 
to their horses ; they only let them drink once a day at five 
o'clock, P.M. At four p.m. the soldiers have a meal of boiled 
barley, and the chiefs of kuskussu. 

The soldiers have notliing whatever to do, except that from 
time to time the Aga of the infantry, following the example of 
Muftar, endeavours to teach them the drill, in which he was 
formerly assisted by a German deserter from our Foreign Le"-ion. 

The adventures of this German are strange enough. For a year 
after his desertion he was employed by Abdel-Kader to drill 
his infantrj^, but in spite of his zeal and fidelity in the service of 
his new master, he every day heard the Arabs say that they 
would shoot him in the first battle, for that they would not sub- 
mit to be oonmian(h'd by a Christian hound. The German who 
did not think i)roper to await tlie execution of these threats, took 
advantage of the peace to go to Oran and present himself to our 
General. But the General wishing to conciliate Abd-el-Kader, 
wrote to inform him that he might send for the deserter and do 
with him as he pleased. Accordingly some chaous were sent to 
Oran, the deserter was given tip to them, and they bound him and 
dragged him oH'. On the road they fell in with some French 
soldiers who were mending it, and the poor fellow began to call 
out lustily, " Help, my friends ! you surely won't let these rascals 
carry off your comrade who has fought them with you : help ! 
they are going to cut off my head." Hereupon the soldiers 
threw down their pickaxes, snatched iij) their muskets, and would 


certainly liave effected a rescue but for a gendarme wlio was sent 
to protect the chaous against any attempt of the kind. 

The poor fellow was taken to Mascara where he lay in cliains 
a whole year. In his exasperation at the conduct of the French 
authorities he turned Mussulman, and was let out of prison ; he 
refused to resume his employment of drill-sergeant, and took to 
manufacturing gunpowder at Mascara, but finding this trade in- 
sufficient for his support he went to Morocco, froni wlience he 
hopes to go to Italy. 

Since then the Aga has laboured to teach his rasged and 
unruly soldiers himself, but with very small success : the little 
ragamuffins in the streets of Paris go through the exercise far 
better than Abd-el-Kader's soldiers. 

The Arab cavalrj^ now wear a red jacket and Turkish trowsers 
of the same colour, with a haick and a bernouse over them, and 
slippers on their feet ; they have a rifle, a sabre, and a dozen 
cartridges in a box slung over the shoulder with a belt, which 
never leaves them. Their saddles are made of wood, Avith a loose 
cover of morocco leather, and so high before and behind that 
t]:e rider sits as in a box ; the stirrup leathers are very short 
and the stirrups very large, with sharp points which serve for 
spurs : they, however, wear spurs besides, which are mere 
iron spikes about eight or ten inches long. Only the horses 
belonging to merchants and destined for long journeys are shod, 
but none of Abd-el-Kader's. The horsemen put six or eight 
coarse blankets on their horses' backs to keep the wooden saddle 
from wounding them. In spite of this precaution, however, 
nearly all the Arab horses are galled on the back : they are 
never groomed but merely have some water dashed all over 
them when they are taken to drink ; they are exposed by day and 
by night to rain, heat, and cold ; and accordingly an Arab horse 
seldom lasts more than six years. 

The infantry wear a woollen vest, Turkish trowsers, a 
black jacket with a hood, and slippers : like tiie cavalry, they have 
a rifle, a cartridge box, and a knife at their girdle ; the richest 
among them add to this a dagger, pistols, and a yataghan. 

In the camp as well as in all other places tlie Arabs pray six 
times a day, — at three, six, and eight in the morning, at noon, and 
at four and eight in tlie evening: at the hours of devotion the 

112 THE FRENCH IN ALGIERS. [ciiap.iii 

marabouts turn to the four cardinal points and call the faitlii'ul 
to prayer with a slow and solemn voice, saying " God is God, 
and Mahomed is his prophet ; come and worship them." A 
marabout tlien recites the prayer in each tent. The faithful 
beufin by rubbing their hands and faces with ; they respond to 
every act of devotion of the marabout with an inclination at 
the words " God is great," and kiss the ground in token of 
humility ; as soon as the prayer is ended they wash their faces. 

The band plays three times a day before Abd-el-Kader's tent : 
three musicians standing, play the hautboy, three others, also 
standing, beat tlie tambourine with a stick, and three seated on 
the ground, play with small sticks upon bowls covered with goat- 
skin. Their repertoire is very scanty. I never heard more than 
three tunes, which they perform till the Sultan is tired and 
dismisses them by a sign. 

Each chief has a coffee-maker in his retinue. These coffee- 
makers erect a tent to wliich the Arabs go to drink coffee and 
smoke very bad green tobacco. 



French deserters — Sardinian prisoners — Their story — Letter to Algiers — 
Raising the camp — Abd-el-Kader — The only cannon — The Bey of 
Mostaganem — Return to El-Kaala. 

Meurice and I were not the only Europeans in the camp, there 
were three Sardinian prisoners and two French deserters. The 
latter described to me in the strongest terms the misery they had 
to endure. In spite of their goodwill and their services the 
Arabs nearly starved them to death and treated them with the 
utmost contempt. They bitterly repented having forsaken their 
flag, and would have been overjoyed to return to it could they 
have been assured against being sliot. One of the deserters, called 
Jean Mardulin, had rendered all kinds of good offices to Meurice ; 
and indeed the poor fellow well deserved pardon, for the cruel 
treatment of the Arabs had punislied him quite enough for 
his desertion. 

The three Sardinian prisoners appeared more wretched still. 
I begged one of them to give me an account of the manner in 
which he and his two companions liad fallen into the hands of 
the Arabs, which he did as follows, after we had stretched our- 
selves on the ground in the tent. 

" Early in July 1836 the three Sardinian coral boats the St. 
John Baptist, the Conception, and the Jesus and Mary, arrived 
at a small uninhabited island or rather rock, situated at a few 
thousand yards from the sliore between Cherchell and Mosta- 
ganem, near which the owner of the St. John Baptist and the 
Conception had discovered a rich bank of coral. We all three 
served as coral fishers on board these vessels. On arriving at the 
little island we found two barks, one stranded and the other 
afloat, the latter was manned by six Moors from Cherchell whom 
we had formerly known at Algiers. 

" We were delighted to fall in with people we knew, and im- 


Ill THE FRENCH IN ALGIERS. [chai'. iv. 

mediately asked the Moors wliether we had anything- to fear from 
the Arabs at Tenez. The Moors told us we need fear nothing, 
as the Arabs had no boats of their own and could not get to the 
island ; they might, indeed, the Moors said, make use of their 
boats to come and attack us if they found out what we were 
doing ; and in order to prevent any danger of such an event 
the Moors promised not to leave the island all the time our 
fishery lasted, on condition that we should supply them with 
provisions. We closed with their offer without hesitation, as 
we thought we had honest men to deal with, and had often 
taken a pipe and a cup of coffee with them at Algiers. Accord- 
ingly we shared our biscuit and brandy with them and began our 
fishery, which proved so abundant that in five days we had 
already got nearly a hundred pounds' worth of coral. We told 
the Moors how well pleased we were with the success of our 
fishery, and from that moment their manner was no longer so 
friendly towards us, and their faces betrayed agitation and 

" Angelo Floria, the master of the St. Jolm Baptist, was the 
first to remark the change that had taken place in the Moors, 
whose prolonged stay on a desert rock had already excited his sus- 
picions. He had long frequented this coast, and knew how much 
he had to be on his guard against the Arabs : he therefore warned 
us not to trust our pretended friends too implicitly. Floria's 
warning made a deep impression on the crews of the three boats, 
and on the morning of the sixth day we all resolved to leave our 
anchorage under the island and to withdraw to the westward of 
the Cape of Tenez, where we knew of a safe anchorage. Un- 
fortunately the wind rose during the day, and the Conception 
and the Jesus and Mary were unable to double the cape and 
forced to return to the island. The master of the St. John 
Baptist had reached the anchorage, but when he found that the two boats did not join him he came back to the island to 
look for them. Meanwhile, after anchoring the Conception 
and the Jesus and Mary, some of us landed on the island, where 
we were immediately as.sailed by a shower of balls, and a troop 
of Arabs, who had been brought by the Moors from Tenez, 
rushed upon us, brandishing their yataghans. Laurentio 
Figari, the master of the Jesus and Mary, was the first who fell 


by their shot, and his head was instantly cut oif with a yataghan. 
My two fellow-prisoners, a little boy, and myself fell into the 
hands of tlie Arabs. I received eight wounds from their 
yataghans while endeavouring to revenge myself on the rascals 
who had so basely betrayed us. The rest of the crew jumped 
into the sea and were shot by the Arabs, who then pillaged and 
burnt the Jesus and Mary and the Conception. 

"After sharing the plunder, the Arabs set out for Tenez. 
They halted about half way and deliberated whether they should 
kill us or not ; after a long discussion they determined to take us 
alive to Abd-el-Kader, in hopes of getting some more money 
from him. 

" We stopped two days at Tenez, where the generous kindness 
of tlie inhabitants made up for the sufferings and privations of 
our journey. The Kait of Tenez visited us continually, and 
asked us numberless questions about the coral fishery : our 
account of it amused him very much, and he took great interest 
in our fate, and prevented the Arabs from beating us. I shall 
never forget the kindness of the women of Tenez, who never left 
me the ^\ hole time I was there, nor ceased from rubbing my 
M'ounds with butter and honey ; they also gave us white bread 
and fruit, and overwhelmed the poor little boy with caresses. I 
could hardly believe that I was not at Genoa, instead of in a 
heathen country, so great was their charity. 

" "We left Tenez on the third day and soon arrived at Abd-el- 
Ivader's camp, where we have been prisoners for a month. We 
do not know whether we shall be ransomed or exchanged, 
and we suflPer continual misery and ill-usage, notwithstanding 
which my wounds are quite healed, and we all three hope 
that, with the assistance of the Blessed Virgin and the French 
Governor, we shall in the end recover our freedom and return 

" Abd-el-Kader sent the little boy to his wife, who is just as 
kind to him as the Arabs are cruel to us men. The Arab 
women will soon coax the poor child into forgetting the 
Blessed Virgin, his own country, and his mother, and they will 
teach him their prayers and make a Mahomedan of him. We 
have not seen him since we came here, but, perhaps, when 
Abd-el-Kader shifts his camp we may meet him somewhere. 



" I hope, Sir, that when you write to the Generals at Oran or 
Algiers you will not forget to say a word in favour of us three poor 

I assured them that I would say as mucli for tlieni as for 
myself, whereupon they took tlieir leave. 

1 had already asked the Sultan's permission to write to Algiers 
and Oran, to acquaint the authorities with my captivity, and n)y 
arrival at Abd-el-Kader's camp. At eight o'clock that evening 
I was conducted to his tent, where he gave me his own pen, made 
of a reed, a bit of coarse paper about the size of my hand, and 
his inkstand, which was made of brass, of an oblong shape, witii 
an inkbottle at one end and a drawer for tiie pens at the other. 
A slave brought a brass candlestick, such as stand on the altar 
of a village church in France. I lay on the ground, and with the 
Sultan's jewel-box for a table, I wrote one letter to Admiral 
Dufresne, and another to General Rapatel, describing the 
sufferings of Abd-el-Kader's captives, and entreating them to 
negotiate our exchange as quickly as possible. I then delivered 
the two letters to Abd-el-Kader, who promised to forward them 
next day. 

We were awakened very early in the morning by tlie chief of 
Dur tent shouting, " Dogs of Christians, sons of dogs, got up ! 
the tent is coming down, for the Sultan has ordered the camp to 
be raised." Scarce were the words out of his mouth than the 
whole tent came tumbling down upon Meurice and myself This 
was one of tlie thousand i)leasantries m ith wlucli the Arabs con- 
tinually entertained us. We were still struggling to disentangle 
ourselves from the tent, in which we lay caught like fish in a 
net, when a drum beat the reveille, which was followed in a few 
minutes by the signal of march for the infantry, which accord- 
ingly started. The camels, mules, and pack horses were imme- 
diately loatied with all tlie eamj) efiuijjage, stowed in jiaiuiiers 
woven of the leaves of tiie dwarf palm. A third beat of the 
drum gave the signal of departure to the muleteers and camel 
drivers. Meurice and I were placed in the centre of tins de- 
tatclnnent, which M'as under the command of Ben Faka. In 
obedience to the Sultan's order, we were mounted on the 
two muhs whieli carry Abd-el-Kader's own coffers ; the Italian 
sailors were worse uli',— they rode on camels. Among the 


baggage I observed eight very ill-joined chests; these contained 
the reserve cartridges. 

Whenever the camp is raised Abd-el-Kader, who, like every 
other Arab, begins his prayers at three in the morning, does not 
cease from them until all the other tents are struck, and it is time 
for the slaves to strike his, he then quits it, and seats himself at a 
short distance on a silken cushion surrounded by the marabouts 
and chiefs. Meanwhile the horsemen assemble, and place them- 
selves in a line on his right hand, witli Muftar at their head, 
and the thirty negro slaves are drawn up in a line on las left. 
The chiefs and the marabouts next mount their horses, and 
as soon as the baggage has passed the limits of what was the 
camp, a slave comes forward leading the Sultan's horse, fol- 
lowed by another bearing the footstool which he uses as a horse- 

Abd-el-Kader's favourite horse is a magnificent black chai ger ; 
he is the best rider I ever saw amona^ the Arabs ; and as his le^s 
are disproportionately short for the length of his body, the 
Arab fashion of short stirrups, by concealing this defect, sets off 
his figure to great advantage, and his appearance on horseback 
is at once graceful and imposing. As soon as the Sultan is 
mounted, the chiefs give the signal of departure ; the nine mu- 
sicians ride at the head of the column, followed by eight Arabs 
bearing long rifles in red cloth cases ; I have often asked leave to 
examine them, but the Arabs always answered, " They are the 
arms of the Sultan ; a dog of a Christian like thee is not worthy 
to behold them." Next come four more horsemen bearing the 
four flags which I have already described, and then Abd-el- 
Kader, in the centre of a line of horsemen : behind him are the 
thirty negroes, and they are followed by all the rest of the 
cavalry pell mell. The Arabs never set out on an expedition 
until the sun has risen. 

JNo order or discipline is kept on their marches ; thus, if a 
soldier sees a fruit tree or a solitary tent he leaves the line to 
strip the one or pillage the other. 

Two strangely-harnessed mules, more lean and broken-winded 
than hackney coach horses, drag the solitary cannon. Not a day 
passes on which it is not overturned and half buried in the mud. 
I hope, for the sake of the poor gunners, that it will at last 

118 THE FRENCH IN ALGIERS. [cuap.iv. 

be left behind fast stuck, which will save them a vast deal of 
useless trouble and burning of their fingers. 

We left El Kaala on the 17th of August, and reached the plain 
of jNIostaganeni at one o'clock the same day, where we encamped, 
at a distance of ft)ur leagues from the town. The Arabs always 
turn their tents witii the opening towards the east, and such 
accuracy do they acquire by habit, that at whatever time they 
pitch their tents they are invariably greeted by the first rays of 
the rising sun. Ben Faka determines the situation of the camp, 
and superintends in person the erection of the Sultan's tent and 
the watering of the ground all about it. These arrangements 
are scarcely completed when the screeching of the music 
announces the approach of Abd-el-Kader. A number of horse- 
men detatch themselves from the main body, which they precede 
by about ten minutes, and gallop to the camp, wliere they sud- 
denly wlieel round, and return at full speed to meet the advancing 
column, aiming their rifles full at the Sultan all the while. 
When they are within shot of him they turn their guns a little 
aside, and send their bullets whistling about his ears. This salute 
goes on till he is within the camp, when the horsemen range 
themselves in a line on the right of the tent, and the thirty ne- 
groes on the left, the band plays as loud as ever it can, and tlie 
cannon announces the arrival of Abd-el-Kader to the neighbour- 
ing tribes : the Sultan makes his horse prance along the line 
formed by his cavalry, and glances proudly around him, two 
slaves open the curtains of the tent, the horse rears and neighs 
violently as he enters it and tramples upon the carpet, while 
the Arabs stand in open-mouthed admiration of the grace and 
activity of their Sultan ; the fiiithful Ben Faka offers his back 
to assist his lord in dismounting, and a slave leads away the 
horse and walks him up and down before the tent for ten 
minutes ; the niarabf)nts and chiefs surround Abd-el-Kader, who 
orders the drums to beat, upon whicli the ranks are broken and 
men and horses repair to the tents, which the baggage attendants 
have already pitched for them. 

The chiefs of the neighbouring tribes on hearing the sound of 
tlie cannon liasten to ])ny their respects to the Sidtan ; they crowd 
))ell UK'Il into his tent, rush upon Al)d-el-Kader, wlio is seated on 
his sofa, and kiss his hand, the IkjocI furnied by tlie foliis of his 


haick. a'ul the skirts of his bernouse ; in return he makes the 
motion of kissing their hands. 

On this occasion very few of the neighbouring Arabs came to 
salute liini. a^s most of them were allied with the French ; and 
in the evening only a little kuskussu was brought to feed his 

In the middle of the night the drums beat a reveille, every- 
body jumped up, and the report was spread that Ibrahim, Bey 
of Mostaganem, had made a sortie with his troops, and was 
about to attack Abd-el-Kader. The Sultan left the camp at the 
head of all his cavalry to reconnoitre the movements of the Bey. 
I lay down behind a package, very indifferent to all the confusion 
and excitement which prevailed in the camp, and slept soundly 
wliile poor 3Ieurice vainly sought forme in all directions, and at 
last, fancving I had made my escape, was in perfect despair, and 
wandered about mentally accusing me of unkiudness, until I 
awoke and put an end to his distress. 

Abd-el-Kader returned to the camp at daybreak, without 
having fallen in with Ibrahim, and brought back the news that 
the French troops had left Oran four days before. As he was by 
no means reassured as to the Bey's movements, he ordered the 
camp to be raised, and by eleven o'clock the same morning we 
were back again within five minutes' walk of El-Kaala. 

The inhabitants of the town, whose resources were already 
exhausted by the support of his troops, were so ill-pleased at the 
Sultan's return that none of them came to pay their respects to him-, 
and the Turks living in the town fled into the mountains carrj-ing 
with them all their money. As soon as the Sultan became aware 
of their disaffection, he repaired to Kaala with fifty horsemen, 
and soon returned with a cargo of carpets and other articles 
which had been taken by main force from the most refractory of 
the citizens, who now fired a salute to testify the joy they felt at 
the Sultan's presence, while their goods were being distributed 
before Abd-el-Kader's tent. 



Method of cooling a tent — Ahdel-Kader's munificence — Tribute paid in 
kind — A good dinner — Coifee — Supplies from Morocco — Letter from 
General Letang — Arab foray — Prisoners — The beautiful black slave 

On the 23rfl of August, at five in the morning, we again left 
Kaala, and marched nortiiv.ard ; after a march of seven liours, we 
encamped on the very edge of the plain of Mostaganem, near the 
river Scheliff. Our camp stood in a grove of ilexes and gum 
trees on the top of a mountain, commanding;- the plain ; just 
such a spot as was selected by knights of old to build their 
castles on, for the better convenience of robbing travellers, 
oppressing their serfs, and defending themselves against their 

Abd-el-Kader's tent was pitched near a fresh and abundant 
spring, and the weather being oppressively hot, Zaka, the 
Sultan's cup-bearer, ordered the slaves to dig two little channels 
to convey the water to the tent, wliere it was received into trenches 
immediately under the hangings, which were raised just enough 
to admit a current of air cooled by the water which surrounded 
the tent, and gave it the appearance of an island. 

I am too poor a hand at my pen, to attempt a description of the 
beautiful and fertile plain whicii lay at our feet covered with 
crops of various kinds, fruit trees, lierds, flocks and tents. In 
spite of my position I could not help sharing the general satis- 
faction inspired by this delightful scene which promised such 
plentiful supplies to the troops. Abd-el-Kader, in a fit of gener- 
osity and good humour, sent me twelve jjieces of eight nionssounes 
eacli, (almost four shillings.) which 1 was to share with iMeurice. 
Tliis munificent and pul)li<; manifestation of goodwill raised my 
spirits, and filled me with the hope of a speedy deliverance, whicli 
was strengthened by the knowledge that the Arabs, whom General 
Bugeaud had carried as prisoners to Marseilles, were as impatient 
as myself to be restored to freedom and to their country. 


In the inoniing a supply of melons, peaches, figs, and grapes 
arrived at the camp, and we feasted on what fell to our share ; 
the grapes were better than the very best in France. I spent 
a few hours in wandering about and admiring the beauty of 
the sceneiy, and then stretched myself in the shade and in- 
dulged in a reverie, out of which I was awakened at about four 
in the afternoon by the arrival of all the surrounding tribes, who 
came to bring their subsidies.' Each tribe was preceded by its 
Kait, on horseback and armed only with a stick, then came all 
the tribe — men, women, and children, two and two, bearing 
on their heads dishes filled with kuskussu ; the richest Arabs 
walked apart from the line carr}-ing whole sheep, spitted and 
roasted on a stake. When they had reached Abd-el-Kader's 
tent, the chief of each tribe stepped forward and informed him 
that they had brought the tribute, the Arabs set their dishes on 
the ground before the tent and thrust the points of the spits on 
Avhich the sheep were impaled into the ground. These dishes of 
kuskussu crowned, some with honey, some with hard eggs, some 
with raisins, others with boiled fowls or quarters of mutton, wore 
a most varied and tempting appearance. The Arabs then rushed 
into the tent to present their respects to the Sultan, while several 
of them took advantage of the confusion to steal the viands 
spread upon the earth, and it was only by the most vigorous 
application of their sticks that the Kaits could succeed in main- 
taining tolerable order. Abd-el-Kader then cast a glance upon 
the dishes disposed before his tent, and Ben Faka distributed 
them among the troops. 

When the Sultan had finished his repast, Ben Faka, who 
always serves it, brought the remains to our tent. A piece of 
leather was spread in the centre of the carpet, and a dish of 
kuskussu which had been begun by the Sultan was placed upon 
it. Ben Faka and several marabouts squatted in a circle roimd the 
leathern tablecloth, and began to devour the kuskussu and a sheep 
which we had for supper, without any bread, tearing the mutton 
with their fingers, and throwing the bones and scraps back into 
the dish, as the Sultan had done before them, AVhen they had 
eaten their fill, the dish passed into third hands, and formed 
the supper of Abd-el-Kader's slaves, who gnawed the bones and 
scraps of meat like so many dogs. During this last stage of the 

122 THE FKEXCll IN ALGILKS. [chap. v. 

repast Ben Faka calletl Meurice and me and threw us a piece 
of meat, wliicli we ate in the Arab fashion with our fingers and 
witliont bread : he also bestowed upon us a handful or so of 
kuskussu. The water was brought in goat skins, and all the 
guests drank out of the same bowl which was never washed. I 
need not add that the prisoners were always served last. In 
spite of all this we thought our dinner excellent, and in order 
wortliily to conclude a repast in "which we had eaten meat, I 
asked Ben Faka's leiive to have coffee brought to us. 

" Coffee for a Christian hound ! " said he ; " and who is to 
pay for it ? " 

" Did not the Sultan give me six pieces (two shillings), this 
morning? " replied I ; " and shall I not whenever I am exchanged 
proclaim his munificence to my fellow-countrymen ? " 

Tiiese words softened the hard heart of Ben F'aka, and he 
ordered his coffee-maker to bring us some coffee. He then besan 
to boast to us of the power and the wealth of his master and of 
his own influence with him, and exhibited, with the greatest 
pride, a snuff-box with a little mirror in the lid, — a treasure wiiich 
excited indescribable envy and admiration among all the Arabs 
who were present. AVe soon perceived that the drift of his con- 
versation was to induce us to solicit his protection and to offer 
him presents, and poor Meurice, Avho was always on the watch 
for an opportunity of conciliating his tormentors, immediately 
promised to send him a gold snuff-box from Algiers as soon as he 
was set free. 'J'he delight of this Arab minister of finance, and 
his promises of kindness to the dog of a Christian, may easily 
be conceived. 

The slave of Ben Faka's coffee-maker interrupted our conver- 
sation by bringing the coffee in two little earthenware cups on 
a tin tray : the cups have no handles, but are fixed in small brass 
saucers; the coffee seemed to me delicious — it was served with 
the grounds ; and the two cups sweetened with brown sugar, and 
a couple of pipes to smoke, cost a penny. 

F2ven now I cannot think of that day without emotion : it was 
so unlike all the rest of my captivity ; we suffered neither ill 
usaijc, cold, nor iiunger ; the weather was beautiful, we had plenty 
of fruits, and Abd-el-Kader and Ben p^aku were even kind to 
u.i : in short, to us it was a day of j)ositive enjoyment. 


It lias been asserted that Abd-el-Kader received no supplies 
from Morocco ; this statement is contradicted by facts which I 
myself Avitnessed. On the 7th of August, 1 836, a convoy arrived 
at the Sultan's camp, from Morocco, bringing flints, scull-caps, 
slippers, trowsers, and cloaks enough for six hundred men. On the 
loth of August there came fifteen camels loaded Avith powder 
and ball, also from Morocco. On the 25th of August Abd-el- 
Kader received from Morocco a store of biscuits and saltpetre. 
Everj' time that these supplies arrived at the camp the Arabs 
testified the greatest joy and exultation, and received the chief 
of the convoy with the same honours that they pay to Abd- 

On the 28th of August two Arab spies came to the camp, 
one of them bringing a number of gun-fiints which he had bought 
at Oran, and the other some despatches entrusted to him by the 
French authorities at Tlemsen for the Commandant at Oran, and 
to which he was to take back an answer. 

Abd-el-Kader unsealed them, and having sent for Meurice, 
ordered him to read them. Meurice obeyed, and the Sultan 
resealed and sent them on to their address. 

A few days after, the same Arab filling the double office of 
courier to the French and spy to Abd-el-Kader, returned to the 
camp with the answer from General Letang the Commandant 
of Oran, to the Commandant of Tlemsen. Abd-el-Kader sent 
for me, and after very carefidly unsealing General Letang's 
letters, he ordered me to read them aloud. In them the General 
informed the Commandant of Tlemsen, that he had returned 
from his expedition against the Beni Amers, having achieved it 
without striking a single blow, and that he had plundered the 
silos * of the Arabs. 

The officers of the brig Loiret, added General Letang, were 
foolish enough to go out shooting at Arzew, and Lieutenant De 
France fell into the hands of the Arabs. 

I took very good care not to read the first part of the letter, 
but only what related to myself. 

* The Arab subterraneous granaries and barns, ■which are careful ly covered 
■with lime, and excavated ■with so much art as fo exclude all moisture, and 
preserve the contents for yeai-s ; the only access to them is through a fuunel- 
shaped hole at the top, barely large enough to admit a man. 

124 THE FIIE.N'CII IN ALGIERS. [chap. v. 

" Is tliat all ? " said the Sultan ; " surely thou hast deceived 
me ? " 

" Read it yourself," said I, " and you will see." 
I was certain he could not read French, although he speaks it 
jiretty well. I was then dismissed, and on returning to the tent 
1 informed Meurice of what had just liappened ; and it M'as 
fortunate for me that I did so, for scarce had I finished my story 
when a marabout came in and summoned him to appear before 
the Sultan, and had he read what I had passed over, no doubt 
the chaous would soon have disal)led me from ever telling that 
Abd-L'1-Kader opens tlie despatches of our generals. 

On the 29th of August the camp was again broken up, and 
after a march of six hours we halted on tlie banks of the Ouet 
^lina, a narrow but very rapid stream which rises to the east of 
Tekedemta and falls into tlie Schellif at about six leagues from 
the coast. The Schellif, which is the principal river of the 
countrj', rises among the mountains to the south of Milianah, 
runs from east to west, and falls into the sea near Cape Ivi, 
between the Cape of Tenez and the Gulf of Arzew. 

Ben Faka placed the camp on a hill adjoining the chain of 
mountains which overlooks the western part of the plain of 
!RIilianah. The site was as beautiful as the one we had just left : 
not far from our tent was a lofty cascade, the waters of 
wiiich fell into the plain below, where they soon disappeared. 
If tliey were received in a basin and thence carried in small 
cliannels over the ])lain, tiie parched earth would soon be changed 
into green meadows which would afford far better food for the 
cows and horses of the Arabs than the weeds and briars which 
they are now forced to eat ; and the harvests of wheat and barley 
would be very abundant; for though the Aral) plough only 
scratches the very surface of the eartli. I have seen one grain of 
wheat produce six or eiglit stalks. This province generally has 
very few trees, but the mountains which surround it are covered 
witli ilexes and gum trees. 

Abd-el-Kader laid a double tax upon the surrounding tribes 
to ptiiiish them for having given a favourable reception to 
Ibrahim, IJey of Mostaganem. Every day tlie horsemen l)rought 
to the camp great booty in horses, sheep, and oxen ; and in 


Abd-el-Kader's tent the whole day ^vas passed in counting the 
money wliich had been seized : tliis does not imply that the sums 
were immense, but that the Arabs count over their money ten or 
fifteen times. The Chief Secretary, Avhom by virtue of his office 
I am bound to consider as the most enlightened man in the camp, 
used frequently to come into our tent, and crouching behind a 
bale of goods, entirely hidden under his haick, count and 
recount his money for hours together. 

In spite of the most stringent measures and of the zeal displayed 
by the Kaits in collecting tJie tribute, it was hard to make the 
Arabs pay it, and Abd-el-Kader sent a party of horsemen to 
their tents, who returned in the evening laden Mith every kind of 
booty, and driving before them herds of horses, cattle, sheep, 
women, children, and negroes. 

At the news of the arrival of these prisoners a number of 
Arabs came to the camp, in order to see whether they might not 
be able to buy a few negroes, or a woman or so, a bargain. If, 
after casting a rapid glance over the slav^es who were crouching 
on the ground, the buyer saw one whose appearance struck his 
fancy, he made him rise and examined all his limbs, as we 
examine a horse or a bull, made him open his mouth, and, if it 
was a woman, pressed her breasts to see whether there was milk 
in them. The unfortunate wretches bore it all with the most 
perfect indifference, and when the bargain was struck, they 
followed their new masters with an air of utter insensibility. 

Among the prisoners for sale who were in our tent, was a 
beautiful black girl of about fourteen ; she had large soft black 
eyes, lips like coral, and teeth like the pearls set in the handle of 
a yataghan ; her legs were like those of a race horse, and her feet 
and hands smaller than those of a Spanish woman ; her shape was 
perfect, and tlie slenderness of her waist contrasted beautifully 
with the fulness of her hips ; for the poor girl, contrary to the 
custom of the women of this country', had confined her white 
haick ronnd her middle with a red worsted cord. Her beauty 
and the fineness and cleanliness of her dress clearly showed that 
she had been the property of wealthy people. The poor girl laid 
herself on the ground beside me, weeping and lamenting, and 
refused the food that was offered to her. 

Seeing her so beautiful and so unhappy, I tried to comfort her ; 

126 THE FRENCH IN ALGIERS. [chap. v. 

but slie si\\(\, '' 1 was so happy in the tent from wliich they robbed 
me, and now I shall be made to sleep outside with the horses : I 
shall have no kuskussu to eat, and I shall wear a torn and dirty 
haick ;" and she wept again. 

Before long, a chief of tiie Garrabas came into the tent : he had 
brought the iiead of a French soldier wiiom he had surprised 
that morning in a field near Mostaganem, so that he was welcome 
in the camp. He was rich and wanted to buy slaves. At the 
sight of the young negress his eyes brightened with pleasure, 
and he ordered her to rise. The slave obeyed, she was subjected 
to the most minute examination and found faultless. The 
Garraba turned to Ben Faka, and said, " Fifty boutjous ? " 

" I must have eighty boutjous (10/.) for her," said Ben Faka. 

" She is not worth them." 

" Did'st thou ever see so beautiful a negress ? — Open thy mouth." 

The slave obeyed. 

" Look, what teeth ! there is not one missing ! — Walk." 

Tiie slave walked. 

" What hips ! what a firm and graceful step ! She is a virgin 
too. — Open thy haick and thy shift." 

The slave did as she was commanded. 

" Press iier breasts ; she has no more milk than a new-born 
lamb. Don't weep slave, or the chaous shall dry thy tears with 
his stick." 

Tiie girl wiped her eyes. 

" pjighty boutjous." 

" Sixty. She is not strong ; she will not be able to carry the 
dung out of the stable." 

" In two years she ^^■ill carry the dung of all the horses 
belonging to thy tent. Eighty boutjous." 

" Seventy." 

"Her hands are delicate; she has never worked. Eighty 
boutjous. Yea or nay ? the Sultan waits for me." 

The Garral)a paid tliem and bade his slave follow him ; the 
poor girl left the tent fixing on me her eyes bathed in tears. I 
saw the Garraba stop at the Sultan's tent to receive the price 
of tlie Frenchman's head, ami in a few minutes they left the 
camp, and I lost siglit of the poor black girl. 



Revolt of Abd-el-Kader's uncle — His letter — Jews — Attack on the Beni-Flitas 
aud Houledscherifs — Horrible execution of a prisoner — Vermin — Teke- 
demta — Letter from the Arab prisoners at Marseilles. 

On the 2nd of September the courier from Tlemsen brought 
several letters which Abd-el-Kader opened, read, sealed, and 
sent to their destination. 

The energetic measures taken by Abd-el-Kader against the 
neiglibouring tribes had failed in reducing them to complete sub- 
mission ; they only waited fi)r an opportunity to shake off his 
authority. One of Abd-el-Kader's uncles, a marabout, declared 
himself independent of the Sultan, and refused to pay the tribute : 
he was immediately joined by the Beni-Flitas and Houledscherifs, 
two numerous, rich, and powerful tribes which inhabit a part 
of the country watered by the Ouet Mina and the adjoining 
mountains. They refused any longer to acknowledge Abd-el- 
Kader as their Sultan, and submitted to the authority of his 

The Sultan again sent a party of horsemen to claim the tribute 
from his uncle, who instead of paying it, sent the following 
answer : — 

" Thou wert nothing before the coming of the French ; thou 
wert nothing until thou hadst made a peace with those unbelievers. 
I was greater and holier than thou ; and it was in tlie hope of 
usurping my authority, O Abd-el-Kader, that thou madest a 
treaty with the Christians ; to them thou owest thy greatness and 
thy power. "WTien thou thoughtest thyself great enough, thou 
brakest the treaty with the French, and now thou wilt that we 
should acknowledge thee as our Sultan. But I have ever been 
greater and holier than thou, and never will I bow before thee. 
Neither will I pay the tribute which thy horsemen demand in 
thy name." 

128 THE FKENCII IN ALGIERS. [chap. vi. 

This letter, of which I remember only the most striking 
passages, tlirew Abd-el-Kader into a state of melancholy and 
indecision which lasted several days, and spread general con- 
sternation in the camp. Tlie Arabs saw witli horror tliat they 
would perhaps be compelled to turn their weapons against their 
brethren, and they felttliata civil war among tiiemselves would 
secure for ever the dominion of tlie Frencli. 

Abd-el-Kader sent courier upon courier to his uncle to per- 
suade him to submission, but the marabout was deaf to all his 
arguments, and always returned the same answer—" I have 
ever been greater and holier than thou, Abd-el-Kader, and 
never will I acknowledge tliee as my Sultan. Send no more 
horsemen unto me for 1 will not pay tribute to thee." While 
these negotiations were going on, Abd-el-Kader called together 
all the tribes on tlie banks of tlie Ouet Mina and the Schellif, but 
they were nnwilling to involve themselves in hostilities with 
their neighbours. Scarce a hundred horsemen answered the 
summons, and nearly all took flight after the first day : 
those who remained were watched and kept within the camp. 

Desertion Iiad already begun among the Sultan's regular 
troops, and a spirit of bitter discontent and depression reigned 
throughout the camp. Several of the tribes, when threatened 
by Abd-el-Kader, replied that tliey knew the way to Mostaganem, 
and tliat if he molested them tiiey would go and place themselves 
under the protection of the French. 

Hereupon Abd-el-Kader seized the principal chiefs : four of 
them were kept in the camp with their feet in irons ; four others, 
chained togetiier by the neck, were thrown into prison at 

On the 8th of Septemlior a troop of horsemen brought nine .Tews 
whom they had seized in the environs of Mostaganem, and the 
heads of three Turks whom they liad killed. The Jews had been 
cruelly treated by the Arabs ; they were chained together by the 
throat, their feet were torn and l)ruised, and their bodies covered 
witli wounds. AVhen they were lirought before the Sultan they 
resorted to a lie, (if indeed it be a lie to deceive an enemy in 
order to save one's life.) and said that when the French took 
Mostaganem they had fled to Mascara with their families and their 
po&sc.ssions, that the French had forced tiiem to return to Mosta- 


ganem, and that tliey were again trying to escape to JIascara 
when the horsemen seized them. The Sultan upon hearing this 
bade them send for their property and their families, and return to 
iNIiiscara ; adding, that if they obeyed, no harm should befall 
them, but if not, that their heads should keep company with 
those of the three Turks. 

'' Abd-el-Kader is great, powerful, and holy," said the poor 
Jews ; " and we will go and dwell in Mascara with our wives, 
our children, and our goods." 

The three Turks' heads and that of the French soldier which the 
Garraba had brought, were exhibited in front of the Sultan's tent 
for two days ; on the third the children had them to play with, after 
which they were thrown outside the camp to the birds of prey. 

On the morning of the lOthof September Abd-el-Kader started, 
with all his forces and the solitary cannon, to attack the Flilas and 
Houledscherifs, leaving one man to each tent to guard the camp. 
The insurgent tribes, who were prepared for an attack, had 
already sent their women, children, and cattle up into the 
mountains, and the Sultan found them drawn up in order of 
battle on the high mountain which skirts the plain of Milianah, 
at the marabout nearest to theOuetMina and the Schellif. The 
fight lasted the whole day, and the cannon was fired seven or 
eight times, loaded with stones in default of balls. In the evening 
Abd-el-Kader returned to the camp, bringing back twelve dead 
and eight wounded. I never could obtain any precise account of 
the result of the battle, but the dejection of the Sultan and his 
troops plainly showed that they had not been victorious. The 
horsemen brought back five heads and drove before them a troop 
of women and children who had not been able to reach the mount- 
ains : the unfortunate creatures were all thrown into the prisons 
of INIascara. One man had been taken alive : he was brought 
before the Sultan as soon as the latter had dismounted. 

" Thou wert taken among the rebels?" 

" I was." 

" What hast thou to say in thy defence ?" 

" I was compelled to fight against thee." 

" Thou shouldest then have fled to my camp." 

•' But"- 

*' Enouofh." 

130 THE FRENCH IN ALGIERS. [chap. vi. 

Abd-el-Kader raised liis hand, and the unhappy man was 
dragged away by the cliaous. One of the chaous had lost his 
son in the battle, and had seen his head hanging to tlie saddle- 
bow of a Beni-Flita : with tears and lamentations he now implored 
the other chaous to grant him the favour of putting the prisoner 
to death with his own unaided hand. He at last obtained it, and 
immediately rushed upon the Beni-Flita, and cut off iiis hands 
and feet with his yataghan. The cliildren shouted for joy at this 
horrid sight, and the revengeful father watched with delight the 
hideous contortions of the victim who rolled in the dust at his feet, 
siirieking with rage and pain, and imploring his tormenter to cut 
off his head. When the Beni-Flita at length fainted from loss 
of blood, the chaous passed a rope round his middle, and dragged 
him by it outside the enclosure of the camp ; the children brought 
together a quantity of brushwood and dry brandies, and set fire 
to them, and on this pile the chaous threw the still living 

It was night, and the flames threw a lurid glare upon the dark 
tents: the piercing shrieks of the Beni-Flita long sounded 
through the camp. I covered my head with my haick, and 
groaned when I thought that only a few leagues from this savage 
camp were the outposts of a noble and generous nation. 

Witiiin a few days of my arrival at Abd-el-Kader's camp I 
was covered with the lice with which the Arabs are infested The 
Sultan himself in the midst of the most serious discussion picks 
them off his haick, rolls them gravely between his finger and 
thumb, and throws them upon the carpet. These vermin are of 
a monstrous size, white with a black stripe along the back, which 
swells with the bloo<l they suck from their unhaiipy victims. 
Fortunately for us, they did not much frequent our hair and 
beards, but they laid their eggs in the seams of our clothes, and 
were hatched upon us in myriads. The Arabs are so used to them 
that they treated us with the gi-eatest scorn when they saw our 
efforts to rid ourselves of tlie>e tormenters. One day we asked 
Abd-el-Kader to allow us to batiie in the Ouet Mina, in order to 
wash off the vermin and the dust with which our bodies were 
covered. The Sultan granted our request, and sent one of his 
negroes to protect us against the Arabs. I cannot describe the 
pleasure of stretching our weary and heated limbs in the clear 


cool water ; but in two days the dust and the lice were as bad as 
ever. We slept on tlie bare ground, and as the nights were 
intensely cold we crept close to each other, but as soon as the 
blood began to circulate at all in our benumbed bodies the lice 
resumed their attacks, and we again sought the cold to escape 
from their intolerable pricking. 

On the day after the battle, the 11th of September, the camp 
was raised at daybreak, and from sunrise till three o'clock, p.m., 
we marched towards the south-east along horrible roads, over 
mountains covered with gum trees, beeches, junipers, and ilexes. 

Ben Faka pitched the camp on a fine plateau, from whence we 
could see the traces of the habitations of the Beni-Flitas, who 
had joined Abd-el-Kader's uncle. As soon as the usual salute 
had been fired, the horsemen, without even giving their horses 
time to breathe, started in all directions, to plunder the silos of 
the Beni-Flitas. They soon returned laden with wheat, barley, 
and straw, but no roast mutton or kuskussu was brought that 

When Abd-el-Kader found that all the inhabitants of the 
district had left it and joined the refractory marabout in the 
mountains, and that he was in danger of wanting provisions, he 
determined to move the camp again, and accordingly we 
marched for some days through a perfectly deserted countr}^ 

At length, on the 1 7th of September, after a southward march 
of eight hours, we came to an inhabited district. A few tribes 
brought some horses and a little money to the Sultan, but these 
supplies were few and scanty. An Arab came from Mascara 
with the news that General Letang had left Oran, and that the 
Garrabas had taken a great number of cattle and sheep from 
the Douairs. The loss sustained by the Douairs caused great 
rejoicing in our camp, and the horsemen galloped about firing 
their ritles in honour of the victorious Garrabas. 

On the 19tli of September the tents were again struck, and 
after five hours' march Ben Faka halted on the slope of a mountain 
just below a marabout which was flanked by a tower at each 
corner. The surrounding country was well peopled, and (he 
fields covered with wheat and barley. From the heights above us, 
one could see the tents of the tribes dotted about the ^\o.m and 
the slope of the mountain. 


At about six hours' inarch from tliis place are the ruins of the 
ancient city of Tekedemta, which Abd-el-Kader had long wished 
to rebuild ; and, with the view of obtaining I'rom tiie neighbouring 
tribes provisions and assistance of all kinds towards this under- 
taking, he now remitted to them the payment of tribute, at the 
same time telling the Kaits that he should expect to receive 
at Tekedemta all that they would otherwise have brought to 
him now. 

Next day, the 20th of September, Me left the marabout with the 
four towers and marched to the neighbourhood of Tekedemta. 
While the troops were employed in preparing the tents, Abd- 
el-Kader mounted a fresh horse, and went to visit the ruins, 
accompanied by a few marabouts. 

We were now in the midst of high mountains covered with 
gum trees, l)eeches, ilexes, and junipers, wliich by their size and 
number clearly proved that it was very long since the Arabs 
inhabited this country ; for they soon destroy all the trees within 
their reach, partly by the quantity of wood which they use both 
for cooking and for the bonfires which tliey burn all niglit to 
keep off the wild beasts and to warm the sentinels, and partly by 
their custom of clearing a path through the forest by setting fire 
to the trees as they stand. 

Several Moors from Mascara arrived on the same day as our- 
selves, with fifty asses carrying baskets, pickaxes, shovels, and 
all kinds of implements for building, and as soon as the Sultan 
returned to the camp, he dispatched all the muleteers and some 
of his negroes to clear the ground on which the ancient Casabah 
of Tekedemta had stood. On the following day he sent a number 
of soldiers to go on witli the clearing and to build a redoubt. 

All tiiese workmen were unpaid, and ill-will and discontent 
soon appeared among tiiem, they went gnunbling to their work, 
and the Sultan was forced to superintend them in person, or 
nothing was done. 

On the 26th an Arab courier brought Abd-el-Kader a letter from 
the prisoners wlio had been taken at Trara-Sickak by General 
Biigcaud and conveyed to France. The contents of tlie letter 
produced a groat sensation, and joy was painted on every face. 
The Sultan sent for me, and said, " I have received a letter 
from my Arabs at Marseilles; the Cliristians treat them kindly." 



" How then," said I, " can a Sultan so great and holy as 
thou suffer us to be treated so ill ? The nights are cold among 
these mountains, and whilst thy Arabs at Marseilles sleep on 
g-ood mattresses, wrapped in warm blankets, we have not even a 
rug to lie upon at night." 

Abd-el-Kader smiled graciously, and sent for Ben Faka, whom 
he conmianded to give us whatever we asked for, and first of all 
a rug to sleep on at night. 

134 Till-: rPvENCII IN ALGIERS. ichai'. \n. 


Ruins of Tekedeinta — Abd-el-Kader's schemes — Attempt to convert me — 
More tribute — Terms of exchange — Tumblers and Singers — Restoration 
of Tekedemta. 

On the morning of the 29th I beg-ged the Sultan to allow 
Meurice and myself to go and see the ruins of Tekedemta, and 
the works carried on there by his troops. He told us to go 
without fear, and ordered one of his negroes to accompany us. 
We accordingly started, and after walking for half an hour we 
reached the ruins of Tekedemta. The ground on which the cify 
stood is \ery broken and without a trace of vegetation ; part of 
the wall of a fort was still standing, it was about ten feet thick at 
the base, and a few feet from the ground it fell back to the thick- 
ness of about seven feet. The wall was defended by nine towers, 
the foundations of which were still to be seen : they were without 
the line of the wall, but joined to it. The whole enclosure is 
one thousand eight hundred feet long, by one thousand one 
liundred and fifty feet broad. The remains within the fort prove 
that it was filled with streets, shops, and houses. On a hill a 
few hundred yards from the citadel, may be traced the founda- 
tion of the ancient Casabah or Bey's palace, surrounded by 
fortifications : on these foundations Abd-el-Kader is going to 
build a new one. At the foot of the hill, about ten minutes' 
walk from these ruins, flows the Ouet Mina. Tlie site of the 
town is commanded by lofty mountains on every side, except 
towarfls the west, where a gentle ascent leads uj) to it. A road 
runs from hence to Mascara. 

After examining the ruins, we went towards a redoubt which 
Abd-el-Kadcr was constructing at a distance of two hundred 
yards to the eastward of the Casal)ali, and tliere we found the 
JSultan with his Chief Secretary, lien Abu, and .Alilnd-Ben-Arrach, 
reclining on the earth, Avhich had been thrown up in digging a 


ditch. There was nothing in his costume to distinguish him 
from the common labourers : he wore a huge hat plaited of the 
leaves of the dwarf palm tree, with brims full three feet in cir- 
cumference fastened with a worsted cord and tassels to the crown, 
which was at least a foot and a half high and pointed at the 

He greeted us kindly, and motioned us to sit beside him : 
encouraged by this gracious reception I ventured to ask him 
what were his projects in rebuilding Tekedemta. 

" My predecessors, who dwelt in this city," replied he, "ruled 
from Tunis to ^Morocco, and I will restore it to its ancient splen- 
dour ; I will gather together the tribes in this place, where we 
shall be secure from the attacks of the French, and when all my 
forces are collected I will descend from this steep rock like a 
vulture from his nest, and drive the Christians out of Algiers, 
Oran and Bona : if, indeed, you were content with those three 
cities I would suffer you to remain there, for the sea is not mine 
and I have no ships ; but you want our plains and our inland 
cities and our mountains ; nay, you even covet our horses, our 
tents, our camels, and our women, and you leave your own 
country to come and take that in which Mahomed has placed his 
people. But your Sultan is not a saint and a horseman as I am, 
and vour horses will stumble and fall on our mountains, for they 
are not sure-footed like our horses, and your soldiers will die of 
sickness, and those whom the pestilence has spared will fall by 
the bullets of the Arab horsemen, for you are dogs who never 
pray to God." 

I made no reply to tliis pompous harangue, but went to look 
at the works. The men were digging a ditch to enclose an area 
of about fifty square yards : they carried the earth which they ■ 
duo- out towards the spot on which the redoubt was to stand, as 
we do in throwing up blockhouses. This fort was intended to 
receive a garrison for the protection of the workmen. It stands 
on a slope and is commanded by the ruins of the ancient 
citadel and by a hill, so that even witliout cannon the garrison 
might easily be forced to evacuate. 

After taking a cursory view of these works, we returned to 
the ruins of the citadel, still accompanied by the negro, who 
could not understand what pleasure we could find in walking 

136 THE FRENCH IN ALGIERS. [chap. vir. 

about among- old stones, and who kept muttering that we were 
*' dogs" and " asses" all the time that we were exploring. 

At sunset we returned to the camp, where we heard a great 
uproar, and soon discovered a crowd of Arabs fighting and 
struggling in the midst of a dense cloud of dust : they were all 
rolling on the gromid and wrestling together, screaming, swear- 
ing, and abusing each other, while tlie chaous were showering 
blows to the right and to the left upon them. 

We hastened to our tent somewhat alarmed at the scuffle, and 
on asking the cause of it, we heard that the chaous had been 
distributing barley among tlie horsemen, and fliat a few measures 
had been left over: the Arabs instantly rushed upon them, and 
in tiieir efforts to seize a few handfuls of barley they made tlie 
riot we had seen. 

I was sitting in the tent waiting for supper, when one of Abd- 
el-Kader's cousins, a marabout, hastily entered. " I am sent 
by the Sultan," said he, '' to ask whether thou wilt embrace the 
true faith and remain among us, and to tell tliee that if thou 
Milt, he will make thee as powerful as himself." 

I replied, that I wished to return to my own people. 

" Thou shalt have women, horses, arms, and plenty of powder, 
and thou shalt be as rich, as g-reat. and as uowerful as the Sultan 

" Tf," said I, " tlie Sultan will give me the command of a ship 
I will become a Mahomedan, and I will go to the coast of 
Cherchell to fish for coral with the Italian prisoners, and we will 
enrich the Sultan." 

I suppose tlie marabout guessed where 1 should really go if 
my conditions were accepted, for he left the tent without saying 
another word. 

While we were at the ruins, the tribes who dwelt at half a 
day's march from Tekedemta had brouglit kuskussu and a 
roasteil sheep, and the people of Milianah, all kinds of fruit. 
Ben Faka regaled us sumptuously with wiiite bread, fruit, and 
a roast leg of mutton. The white loaves were brought to 
tlie camp every day by the tril)es, and were the only pay given 
to Abd-el-Kader's workmen. 

Just as I was ending my splendid repast, Ben Faka came to me 
with Abd-el-Kader's command to go his tent. I hastened to obey 


tlie summons, full of the hope of liberty. The Sultan ^ecei^•ed 
me as usual, with enquiries after my health, after which he 
commanded me to write to General Eapatel, and to ask him 
whether he would give in exchange for me tliree of the Arab 
prisoners at Marseilles, to be selected by Abd-el-Kader. I 
refused to Avrite unless the Sultan would at the same time name 
a ransom for my fellow-prisoners, and for Lanternier and the 
four women at Droma. After a very long discussion he agreed 
to exchange Meurice, the three Italians and myself, against 
twenty Arabs, but he refused to give up the women at all, and as 
I knew that poor Lanternier would not thank me for separating 
him from his wife and daughter I did not mention him in ray 
letter to the General. When I had finished it the Sultan asked 
me whether I would not write to my family, and perceiving my 
hesitation, he assured me that I might Mrite without fear for 
that no one should read my letter. I accordingly put both let- 
ters into the same cover, sealed them with a huge seal, and saw 
the Sultan give them to a man from Milianah, with orders 
to take them straight to Algiers. 

I returned to the tent in high spirits to tell Meurice what I 
had done ; the poor fellow laughed, wept, and thanked me all at 
once : we talked of our country and of our friends, and promised 
to stand by each other in good as well as in evil fortune, for we 
already looked upon our deliverance as certain. "We were about 
to lie down to sleep, full of these delightful thoughts, when 
we found that our rug was gone. I should have complained 
to Abd-el-Kader, but he was at his prayers, so we were forced to 
stretch ourselves on the bare ground. The cold was piercino-, 
and in the middle of the night a violent storm came on, so that 
before morning we were soaked to the skin. 

On the 29th, Abd-el-Kader sent Milud-Ben-Arrach with the 
cavalrj- towards Mostaganem to reconnoitre, and gave us leave to 
revisit the ruins of Tekedemta. Some of the workmen were 
carting stones to build the Casabah, others preparing clay to serve 
as mortar, and others again finishing the redoubt. The neigh- 
bouring tribes came everj^ day with provisions and oxen laden 
with wood, and a party of Moors was sent to burn lime at the 
nearest spot at which it could be found, about half a day's 
journey from Tekedemta. At about a hundred and fifty paces 


to the east of the Casabah, some soldiers were busied in clearin'ja 
very large old vaulted cistern, which Abd-el-Kader has since 
turned into a general ammunition store ; in order to avert 
suspicion, he has bricked up the door and built a sort of guard- 
room on the top. The tools were all very bad, with the excep 
tion of a few picks and shovels that had been stolen from us. 
The ditch varied in breadth and depth, and the slopes were 
uneven ; and although the redoubt stood on a declivity, there was 
no opening to carry off the \\ ater ; the earth was only bound toge- 
ther with branches of gum tree and oleander, and as the winters are 
very severe in these mountains it is more than probable that by 
this time the rain has washed the slopes into the ditch and that 
the Sultan's redoubt is reduced to a heap of mud. 

We saw the three Italians at work here, upon which I 
expostulated with the Sultan, and represented to him that they 
were sailors and not labourers, and that moreover he was not at 
war with the nation to which they belonged ; but he replied that 
they must earn their food, and that he was at war m ith ever)- 
nation, for that as he had no seaports their friendship was usele.'« 
to him, and that he was the greatest and most powerful of al' 
Sultans, and feared no one. 

On returning to the camp we found that a party of tumblers 
had arrived tliere and were performing for the amusement of the 
soldiers, who watched them with great attention. But we had 
other diversions besides this ; every evening an Arab croviching 
in front of Abd-el-Kader's tent, sang for hour after hour. I 
never could catch all the words, but the following phrases were 
constantly repeated to a monotonous tune — 

" The Sidlan is great, but Mahomed is yet greater." 
" 'J'he Sultan is very great, he is generous, brave, and holy.' 
" Tlie marabouts of Mecca are veiy great and holy." 
'• The Sultan has fine horses ; the Sultan has many horses, and 
they are all excellent." 

*• Tlie Sultan has immense treasures and nuuli powder." 
" The Arabs have fruitful plains ; lliey have mountains covered 
with trees, and many rivers How from them." 
" We have beautiful women." 

"Our horses are fleet: no other horses can keep up with 



" Our camels are ^ ei y strong- ; we have great herds of cattle 
and sheep." 

" Our guns are very good." 

" We have powder — plenty of powder." 

" Let us pray that all Christian dogs may perish." 

" Plenty of powder." 

The soldiers flocked round the singer and listened with deep 
interest to tliis patriotic and religious hymn. 

A marabout, a friend of Ben Faka's, came nearly every even- 
ing to our tent, and sang for hours in the same style ; but his 
voice was so harsh and shrill, and the burden of his song so 
tedious, that one of our chief annoyances was the having our ears 
assailed for such a length of time by his deafening psalmody. 

On the 2nd of October it froze even within the tents in tliis 
mountainous region, and there was no grass left for the camels 
near Tekedemta ; accordingly the Sultan sent them to the table 
land to the southward where there was excellent pasture. Tliese 
mountains abound in game of every kind, which the soldiers 
caught and ate unknown to Abd-el-Kader. The market esta- 
blished by the Sultan at Tekedemta is well supplied with 
game, and with fish from the Ouet Mina which is full of them, 
and of a sort of tortoise which lives in the mud and is equally 
disagreeable to the taste and the smell, whereas the land tortoises, 
which are nearly as numerous, are delicious when properly 

Abd-el-Kader carried on the works at the redoubt with great 
ardour ; fifty workmen were constantly employed upon them. To 
celebrate the inauguration of the new Tekedemta, the Sultan 
liad the cannon brought to the redoubt, where it was loaded with 
stones and fired oflf three times, but so unskilfully that the stones 
flew into the midst of the camp to the great peril both of man 
and beast. At each discharge the marabouts and the workmen 
cried out '" The Sultan is great ! " 

Abd-el-Kader has since sent seven cannons from Mascara to 
Tekedemta: they were old Spanish six and eiglit pounders, which 
had all been spiked, and were mounted on very bad carriages of 
Arab manufacture. Fifteen or twenty families have emigrated 
from Mascara to Tekedemta, at the Sultan's command : but it 
will not be easy to induce the whole population of Mascara to 

140 THE FRENCH IN ALGIERS. [chap. vii. 

leave tlieir liabitations and to settle in a cold, unhealthj' spot to 
which all provisions must be fetched on mules from the distance 
of a day's journey, and where they consequently are verj^ dear. 
Ahd-el-Kader liopes to breathe new life into tliese remains of 
past greiitness and splendor, but the descendants of the men 
who founded and built this city are unable to tell tlie prisoner or 
the traveller so much as the very name of the Sultans who 
had their capital in these mountains. 





Marches — The five marabouts — Cards and chess — Night march — The Sul- 
tan's arrival at the camp — His wife — Female camp — Zaka the cup- 
bearer — Abd-el-Kader's Court of Justice. 

On tlie 30th of September, at sunrise, Abd-el-Kader gave the 
signal of departure. After a march of two hours we reached 
a desert country ; the road was extremely bad, and frequently 
broken by ravines. To our left ran a long chain of wooded 
mountains, which we had not yet left behind us, when Ben Faka 
ordered a halt, and pitched the camp on the banks of the 
Ouet Mina. 

The next day, the 1st of October, whilst I was watching the 
negroes who were taking down the Sultan's tent and loading it 
on the mules, I saw Ben Faka with three haicks under his arm, 
followed by three Italian prisoners, I went towards them and asked 
whither they were going, but before they had time to answer me 
Ben Faka, in a voice broken by rage, commanded me to leave 
them, and to mount my mule. I was struck with a sinister pre- 
sentiment as to the fate of the three unhappy prisoners. From 
afar I saw Ben Faka give them the haicks, of which they 
had long stood in need, as they had nothing to wear but their 
ragged shirts. My three companions in misfortune then took the 
road to Tekedemta. The Sultan sent them to the works there, 
and it was only by his especial orders that Ben Faka had given 
them the haicks. At Tekedemta the poor fellows were exposed 
to every kind of privation and ill usage ; one of them sunk under 
it. The two survivors afterwards gave me an account of their 
sufferings, which would appear incredible to any one who did not 
know the Arabs as well as I do. This separation was most pain- 
ful to me; we had endured together hunger, cold, insults, and 
blows ; we had talked together of our sorrows, our hopes, and 
our hatred of the Arabs. 



We started at daybreak, and marched eastward, still keeping 
tlie chain of mountains on our left. After a march of three 
hours, Ben Faka pitched the camp on the left bank of the Ouet 
Miua, upon a plateau covered with empty silos. Not a tent or 
even a single Arab was to be seen : the horsemen were obliged to 
ride for three or four hours in search of barley for their horses. 

On the 4th of October we again struck our camp, and marched 
to within half a league of the wooded mountains I have mentioned 
above. I^en Faka pitched the camp on a small plain by the 
side of a stream wliicli runs into the Ouet Mina. This plain is 
uncultivated, and in the winter it is so overflowed by the Ouet 
Mina as to look like a lake. It is covered with shrubs resem- 
bling the sweet briar, which bear a fruit like the medlar, only- 
smaller, and containing a kernel. Like all the shrubs of this 
country, these swarm with large white snails and slugs enough 
to feed an army for some days. Next day we continued our 
march westward, bearing a few degrees to the north. We 
quitted the banks of the Ouet Mina, but the wooded mountain 
was still to our left. 

After six hours' march we halted on a plateau covered with 
heaps of stones which looked like the ruins of a town : but 
Abd-el-Kader and his marabouts told us they had ne\er heard of 
the existence of one on that spot. 

On the 6th of October, after a march of two hours, the camp 
was pitched on a plateau at the eastern extremity of the plain 
of IMa.'^cara, at a place called Teknifil. Near it, on five hillocks, 
stand five marabouts. Here we heard that the French had .sent 
an expedition from Oran, and that General Letang was march- 
ing on El-Borgj, a village two leagues to the north of Teknifil. 
Abd-el-Kader innuediately went to El-Borgj with all his cavalry, 
and forced the iiihal)itants to abandon it. Next day the baggage, 
the flocks, the women, and children of tlie Borgia tribe were 
scattered about the plain, and orders were likewise sent to the 
inhabitants of Ma.scara, which is four leagues from Teknifil, to 
abandon the place. We stayed at Teknifil a fortnight, during 
which time Abd-el-Kader gathered together all the tribes that 
remained faithfid to him, and when his army amounted to five 
or six thousand he followed the French to the plains of Macta. 
Every day couriers arrived at the camp with false news, either 


that the French were surrounded ou all sides, or that they had 
been cut to pieces by the Sultan. The Arabs announced the news 
to us, and accompanied it by blows, abuse, and menaces of death. 
Moreover, we were half starved, and the hopes with which 
Ab(l-fl-Kader's kindness had inspired us were now turned into 

Our days seemed long and gloomy : the Arabs maltreated us, 
and separated Meurice and me from the coral fishers. We had 
talked so long of our hopes, our home, and our families, that 
these subjects were quite worn out. At last, in order to pass the 
time, I set to work to make a chess board and a pack of cards. 
I stole a board from one of the pov/der chests (which it was my 
great amusement to water, at the risk of my life), and divided it 
into squares : I then cut some chess men out of branches oi 
oleander : I also stole a few slieets of paper, for which Ben 
Faka l)eat me with a stick, and made a pack of cards of them. 
jMv knaves were jockeys with pipes in their mouths, and red, 
green, and white jackets ; the queens were ladies dressed in the 
European fashion, — one with a bonnet, another with a foulard, 
another with hair dressed a la Chinoise, and the fourth with long 
ringlets in the English style ; the kings had huge crowns on 
their heads. Ben Faka and Ben Abu, who had tlie care of Abd- 
el-Kader's tent during his absence, sent Meurice and me to 
guard it during great part of the day ; for Christians and slaves 
as we were, they trusted us far more than the Arabs. The 
cushions and the sofa had been removed, and we were especially 
commanded to touch nothing in the tent, as the touch of a 
Christian would defile anything belonging to the Sultan. We 
lay on the carpet of this august and holy dwelling, and played 
at chess and picquet. The marabouts, in spite of their horror 
of any representation of the human face or figure, were struck 
Avith admiration at the accuracy with which I had copied the 
European costume in mj' knaves and queens. They were very 
anxious to understand the game of picquet, and overpowered us 
"wirh questions about every card we played. Their cards are 
quite different to ours, and I have seen draughts in their ca.'es 
but no chess boards, though one day when Abd-el-Kader saw me 
playing at chess with Meurice, he said, " My grandfather used 
sometimes to play with pieces like those on a draught board." 

144 THE FRENCH IN ALGIERS. [chap, viir. 

On tlie 20th of October, after a liakof fourteen days at the five 
marabouts, during wliich time we were exposed to threats, blows, 
and cruel privations, the tents were struck. A courier arrived 
at the camp, in the middle of the night, with the news that the 
French were marching towards Oran, and that the Sultan would 
be at Mascara on the morning of the 21st. In spite of tlie 
lateness of the hour (it was midnight) Ben Faka ordered the 
troops and the baggage to set out. There was a thick fog, and 
M'e suffered cruelly from the cold and damp, which I am sure laid 
the seeds of the illness under which poor Meurice finally sank. 
Bleurice and I were mounted on the mules which carried the 
Sultan's coffers. Each quarter of an hour we heard the voice 
of Ben Faka calling through the darkness, " France ! Meurice ! 
are you on your mules ?" " Yes." " Don't get down, and above 
all don't change with any of the horsemen." " Never fear." 
Ben Faka's uneasiness was not without cause: he was responsible 
for any disorder tliat might happen during the march, and he 
was always afraid that if we quitted our mules the soldiers of 
the escort would pillage the Sultan's treasure ; for dogs and 
Christians as we were, Ben Faka knew that we were more trust- 
worthy than the jMoud Arab warriors. With the first rays of 
the sun, we arrived with all the treasure safe at the pretty 
town of Mascara. 

The camp was pitched at the foot of the mountain which bounds 
the plain of Mascara on the north. A little stream, whose banks 
were covered with oleanders, ran through the midst of it. Mascara 
stands in the centre of a mountain gorge, on a steep and precipi- 
tous hill ; the white and cheerful-looking houses are surrounded 
by a perfect grove of fig trees, and a few graceful pojilars and 
slender minarets rise like lances among them. The view was so 
charming that I stole a sheet of paper and went outside the camp 
to sketch it. But I had scarce begun, when a mounted chaous 
rode up to me and gave me a blow with his stick. To avoid a 
repetition of it, I ran back to the tent with my niifinishiMJ skotcii. 
A courier brought the news of Alxl-el-Kader's arrival at tiie 
camp, and the infantry instantly armed and went about ten 
minntp^s' march towards Mascara, where it drew up in two lines. 
Presently the cavalry arrived at fidl gallop, and was drawn up 
by Muftar in two l)odies behind the infantry. As soon as 


el-Kader had passed them, tlie last soldiers, botli Iiorse and foot, 
quitted the line, and ran to place themselves in two rows before 
his tent. As he entered it, three discharges of cannon from 
Mascara annonnced the Saltan's return to the neighbouring 
tribes. Tlie soldiers kept up a constant firing- in honour of the 
great victory whicli the Sultan had gained over the French. 

All that day the camp was in a state of great confusion ; horse- 
men belonging to the adjacent tribes were continually coming and 
going, and feeding their horses in the camp : this, added to the 
cries of joy and exultation, and the incessant galloping and firing 
of the soldiers, pro(hiced an indescribable tumult and clamour. 

At sunset Abd-el-Kader mounted his horse, accompanied by 
a few marabouts and the thirty negroes, and rode to his wife's 
tent, w hich is pitched three or four miles to the south of Mas- 
cara, on a spot near which Abd-el-Kader has a garden and a 

The chiefs who accompany the Sultan also have tents for their 
wives and families at tiie same place, where there is a sort of 
female camp. That inhabited by Abd-el-Kader's wife is woven 
of black camel hair. 

Tlie Sultan is said to be a most tender husband, and his con- 
duct proves the truth of the repori, for he has not a single con- 
cubine. His wife is verj' pretty ; her tall slender figure is seen 
to great advantage under the graceful folds of her haick, which 
is girded round her middle with a red worsted cord. The Arabs 
usually like large fat women, but Abd-el-Kader's taste is dif- 
ferent. Though often absent from his wife for three or four 
montiis at a time, his attachment to her remains unchanged. 
Even from the banks of the Ouet Mina he frequently sent her 
presents of fruit, butter, honey, and other rarities. He has had 
one daughter by her ; and though it was asserted that she was 
delivered of a boy on the very day on which the French entered 
Mascara, I do not believe it; for if Abd-el-Kader really had 
a son I am sure tlie Arabs would have told me so. Durinor 


the nigiit the thirty negroes keep watch round the tent that 
nothing may disturb the repose of Abd-el-Kader and his wife ; 
and during their absence from the camp, a guard of foot soldiers 
supplies their place around the Sultan's tent. 

In the middle of the night a man peeped cautiously out of the 

Itc. THE FKENCII IN ALGIERS. [chap. viii. 

Sultan's tent, darted out, and tried to make his escape ; but the 
sentinels who were not asleep seized him. It was Zaka, an 
old negro slave, and Abd-el-Kader's cujj-bearer. He had long 
been used to take advantage of" the moments during which the 
Sultan left his tent to enter it and rob his treasure. The thirty 
negroes, either blinded by the confidence with which his higli 
functions inspired him, or unwilling to denounce their comrade, 
had never stopped him, although tiiey had frequently seen him 
leave the tent at undue hours, and during the absence of the 
Sultan. But the Arab soldiers were much less accommodatinsr ; 
and when Abd-el-Kailer returned to the camp at sunrise they 
brought Zaka before him, together with several sultani (a silver 
coin) found on his person. 

The cotfee-sellers deposed, that Zaka had for a long time 
been in tlie habit of spending a great deal of money in their 
booths, and of treating his friends there daily. Ilaicks, ber- 
nouses, yataghans, and splendid pistols were found in his tent; 
and every one knew that his means were small and uncertain. 
Abd-el-Kader ordered him to be put in irons for an unlimited 
time ; and he was brought to our tent, and placed under the 
guard of his friend Ben Faka. As the punishment promised 
to last very long, the chaous struck a nail through the bar which 
joins the irons, instead of securing it with a padlock. 

Ben Faka was presently summoned to his duties in Abd-el- 
Kader's tent ; and after his departure Zaka crept to the further 
extremity of the tent, threw himself on the ground like a man 
overcome with fatigue, and pretended to sleep. Meurice watched 
all his movements with great attention, " The negro is trying to 
osca|)e," said he. " He is asleep," I replied ; " besides, both his 
feet are hampered." " Say rather, he is pretending to sleep," 
answered Meurice ; *' only watch his ])roceedings." Zaka took 
down a rille which he laid across two bales ; he then pulled ofi' his 
black bernouse, hung it over the gun, and crouched down behind 
it. I left the tent, and .soon after saw him slowly cross the camp, 
wrapped in his white haick, and hiding his face. As soon as he 
had reached the limits of the camp he took to his heels, and soon 
disappeared among tlie fig trees on the mountain. 

Wlien Ben Faka returned to the tent, and found that tlic 
prisoner for whom he was personally responsible had escaped, iio 


flew into a violent pa:»sion, and loaded us with blows and abuse, 
for not having prevented Zaka's flight. A hundred horsemen 
mounted immediately, and rode in all directions in pursuit of him. 
Ben Faka was anxious to conceal the escape of Zaka from the 
Sultiin, as he hoped that the fugitive would be retaken before the 
news of his flight could reach Abd-el-Kader. But the horsemen 
had not returned when a chaous summoned him into the presence 
of the Sultan. As Ben Faka was going towards the tent he 
met Zaka in the midst of an escort of horsemen, with his hands 
tied behind his back ; he took possession of his prisoner, and 
went with him to the Sultan's tent. AVithout further enquirv, 
the Sultan condemned Zaka to be put in irons for an indefinite 
time, and to receive six hundred blows a day with a stick, for 
three successive days ; two hundred at seven in the morning, two 
hundred at noon, and two hundred at night ; in all one thousand 
eight hundred blows in three days. Zaka was instantly brought 
before our tent, and laid flat upon his face ; two of his friends 
held the skirts of his bernouse, whi^e the chaous administered to 
him the first two hundred blows. 

The important post which Zaka had filled, joined to his muni- 
ficence, had gained him many friends, to whose zeal he now 
entirely owed his life. He could not possibly have survived the 
one thousand eight hundred blows well laid on, but the chaous 
took care not to hit very hard, and the Arabs who held the skirts 
of his bernouse stretched them so tight, as considerably to deaden 
the force of the blows. When the chaous had administered 
the first two hundred, Zaka was brought into our tent, where 
his friends busied themselves in kneading and chafing his whole 
body, and in warming him; and Ben Faka, who now remembered 
nothing but his former friendship, loaded him with attentions and 
gave him coffee. By degrees Zaka recovered, but he was not 
released from his irons, and at the time of my departure he was 
still stretched upon the ground, vainly expecting each day the 
Sultan's order for his release. 

The Sultan administers justice in a ver\' simple and expedi- 
tious manner. The contending parties are brought to his tent, 
\\ here the accuser first inakes his complaint ; the witnesses, if 
there be any, are then examined, after which the accused makes 
his d>jfence. Both accusation and defence, like all Arab ex- 

I. 2 

148 THE FRENCH IN ALGIERS. [chap. viii. 

plaiiatiuiis, are loiig-wintled and clamorous. "When tiie plead- 
inj^s are at an end, the Sultan tlecides singly, and witliout appeal. 
Without saying- a word, he condemns the guilty to any kind of 
punishment by signs to the chaous. He raises his hand, and the 
accused is carried to prison ; he holds it out horizontally, and 
tlie accustKl is led beyond the limits of the camp, and his head 
is cut off by the chaous ; he bends his hand towards the earth, 
and the accused is dragged away and bound, laid flat upon the 
earth, and beaten with a stick. The Sultan usually determines 
the number of blows ; if he omits to do so, it is left to the 
discretion of the chaous. 

INIost of the complaints and accusations are of thefts, a crime 
exceedingly common among the Arabs, and generally treated 
with great leniency, especially by Abd-el-Kader, who is neither 
cruel nor vindictive. 



Offers of exchange — Report of the I'eath of the King of France — Festivities 
— Sham fight — Two French soldiers — M. Lauteruicr — JNIeurice gets 
worse — Baths at Mascara — Lanternier's prison — His wife and daughter 
sent to the Emperor of Morocco — Little Benedicto. 

One evening at sunset, when Meurice and I returned to our 
tent, after spending the day in a garden near the camp, Ben 
Faka told me that the Sultan desired to see me. I went to his 
tent, where he gave me two letters, one for Meurice and the 
other from General Rapatel for myself. I opened the latter, 
and informed the Sultan of its contents, which were to this 
eifect : General Rapatel offered Abd-el-Kader the choice of ten 
Arab prisoners, in exchange for the six Frenclunen and Italians, 
and ten others in exchange for Mahomed Ben Hussein, the ex- 
Bey of Medeah ; adding, that the Euro])ean prisoners might be 
sent at once to some French town, and that Abd-el-Kader should 
receive the Arabs in exchange for them immediately upon their 
return from Marseilles. 

At this sentence Abd-el-Kader smiled, and said " You shall 
go as soon as my Arabs arrive at the camp." 

The Bey of Medeah, wlio was our ally, had been taken prisoner 
by the Bey of Milianah, loaded with chains, and thrown into 
the dungeons of Ouchda, a town on the frontier of Morocco, 
wliere he still languishes, exposed to the most cruel treatment, 
and in constant danger of being starved to death by his inhuman 

After consulting the marabouts who surroiuided him, Abd-el- 
Kader ordered me to write word, that he demanded twenty 
prisoners in exchange for the six Europeans, and that he would 
g'we up the Bey of Medeah in exchange for all the prisoners at 
Marseilles. I remonstrated with him on the unreasonableness 
of his terras, and suggested tliat he should split the difference, 
and take fifteen Arabs as ransom for us. To this he ay-reed, and 

150 THE FKENCH IN ALGIERS. [chaimx. 

I wrote to the General and to my family. As I was sealing the 
letters, Abd-el-Kader said, that lie hoped I had written all tliat 
I wished to say ; and that I should not be deterred by fear of his 
displeasure from writing anything that I saw, or from expressing 
any opinion upon his manner of treating his prisoners ; " For," 
said he, " a Sultan so great and holy as I fears no one upon 

1 hastened to take Meurice his wife's letter, and to inform him 
of the favourable dispositions of Abd-el-Kader ; and I had the 
satisfaction of seeing him fall asleep with a smile on his face. 
1 crept close to him to warm his frozen limbs ; but the night 
was so cold, that in the morning when we wanted to rise 
INIeurice's legs were beimmbed, and he was forced to lie upon the 
ground. All his blood had rushed to his head, which caused him 
the most violent pain. At about eleven o'clock. I carried him out 
into the sunshine, in hopes that the warmth might do him good. 

On the 28th of October Abd-el Kader received a letter from 
Morocco, announcing the death of the King of France. I 
believe that the Kniperor of Morocco meant Charles X., but 
Abd-el-Kader thought it was Louis Philippe, and immediately 
spread a report that the King of the French had been assas- 
sinated, that a civil war had broken out in France, and that all 
tlie troops stationed at Algiers were about to be recalled. 

This news excited universal joy ; the troops prepared to 
celebrate the retreat of tiie French in a manner worthy of the 
greatness of the occasion, and three whole days were spent in 
festivities, both at Mascara and in the camp. These consisted 
chiefly in sham fights, in which the first division of cavalry, 
dressed in bluejackets and red trowsers, and without haicks or 
bernouses, represented the French, and were iieaded by Abd-el- 
Kader ; the second, with their flowing haicks and bernouses, 
were the Arabs. Tiie two troops were drawn up at a consider- 
able distance from each other. 

Abd-el-Kader first delaclied ten of his French corps as skir- 
mishers, who were met by the same mimber of the opposite 
party. Tlie assailants on I)oth sides started at a foot's pace, and 
by degrees urged on tiieir liorses to a gallop. When they were 
within five-and-twcnty paces of each other, they shouted " Ah ! 
ah I ah !'' fired ofl" their rifles, waved Iheir haicks and bernouses, 


drew their sabres, and acted a fight hand to hand. Ten more liorsc- 
men were then detached from each troop, and galloped into tlie 
midst of the melee, whereupon the first two bands retreated to 
their respective posts, while the others continued the fight. 
Sometimes the forty horsemen kept up the struggle, until the 
arrival of fresh auxiliaries on one side turned the chances against 
the other, who then retreated at full gallop, brandishing their 
sabres, firing off their rifles, and uttering loud cries. Then 
a pursuit was acted, till both parties had galloped enough, and 
returned to their stations. At one moment the confusion became 
excessive ; the melee was thick and violent, bernouses fluttered, 
sabres flashed, and a cloud of dust concealed the combatants, 
whose fierce wild shouts rung in our ears. Suddenly the drums 
on both sides beat the recall, and tlie chiefs restored order ; the 
horsemen gave a few moments of rest to their horses, and then 
the racing and stniggliug, the strange evolutions and single 
combats began again with as much vehemence as ever. 

This military spectacle invariably terminates with the defeat 
of the French. "When Abd-el-Kader thinks it time to put an 
end to the exercises, he plunges into the thick of the melt^e ; 
two Arabs then seize his horse by the bridle, one on each side, 
and lead the Sultan away captive to his tent, amid shouts of 
triumph and enthusiasm. Abd-el-Kader, casting around him 
proud glances on his followers wrapt in admiration of his 
warlike grace, makes his horse prance and rear till it stands 
upright, while the Sultan smiles complacently, as much as to say 
" Am not I a horseman indeed ? " 

" And so you are, my fine Sultan," said I to myself; " but you 
would not be quite so cock-a-hoop on an English saddle, for 
all that." 

On the third and last day of this warlike exhibition Ben Faka 
came to me with a swaggering air and said, " There has been a 
battle at Tlemsen ; the Kalifah has beaten the French, and taken 
a great number of prisoners, whom he is going to send to the 
Sultan, so you will soon have plenty of companions." 

" I believe," said I, " that you are as much deceived now ah 
you were when you told me that Ahmed Bey had taken Bona." 

Meanwhile, poor Meurice got worse everj' day, and I spent 
most of my time in rubbing his aching limbs, and in endea^•ouring 

152 THE FKENCH IN ALGIERS. [chap. ix. 

to warm liis frozen legs and feet against my breast, and to relieve 
the burning pain in iiis head, by wetting my hands, and then 
laying them on his forehead. I was thus occupied when Ben 
Faka returned to the tent, and said to me with an insulting laugh, 
'• Come and look at the Ciiristian prisoners whom the Kiilifah 
took at Tlemsen, and has sent to the Sultan." 

I left the tent without answering lien Faka, and saw two 
unfortunate soldiers, half naked, barefooted, and in a state of 
indescribable wretchedness, whom the chaous were driving along 
with their sticks, just as a butcher goads the tired beasts to the 
slaughter-house. They halted before the Sultan's tent, and I 
attempted to approach, in order to question them, but was imme- 
diately driven away by the chaous. 

I went back to Meurice, and was telling him what had passed 
when Ben Faka brougiit the two new prisoners into our tent, and 
gave each of them a haick. I beckoned them to draw near, and 
asked them their names, the regiments to which they belonged, 
and where they came from. 

" My name is Bourgeois," replied the first ; " I am an old 
soldier in the eleventh, and my comrade Fleury is an ex-soldier 
of the sixty -sixth ; we both belong to the battalion at Tlemsen." 

" Has tliere been a fight there then ? " said I. 

" None whatever. Sir. I will tell you how it was. The 
Bedouins had pressed hard upon the town for some time, and no 
provisions could be brought to market, and so you see the garrison 
was put upon short conmions. One's appetite grows with eating, 
they say ; but I assure yon it grows much faster with an empty 
stomach ; and one morning, when Fleury and I were more sharp 
set than usual, we bethought ourselves that we would go and 
forage like the Bedouins. There were plenty of fruit trees out- 
side the town, and so, without more ado, we went out to make a 
meal off them. After eating our fill, we were going back to the 
town again ; but we had reckoned without our host. The Be- 
douins caught us like larks in a snare ; and not content with having 
taken us prisoners, they have given us the straj)pado tiie whole 
way. They say, to be sure, that A\bd-el-Kader has given orders 
to take as many prisoners as possible, and not to cut their heads 
off, and I suppose that is the only reason why ours are still upon 
our shoulders ; but they have treateil us brutally. However, now 


that we are come to Abd-el-Kader's royal palace, as you may- 
say, I hope we shall not be quite so ill-used. But, Lieutenant, 
if you write to the Governor please don't forget just to speak a 
word for Bourgeois and Fleury, for these quarters are not at all 
to our liking." 

I assured my fellow-sufferers that I would not forget them ; 
and that very evening, with Abd-el-Kader's permission, I wrote to 
inform General Rapatel of their arrival, and to ask for six Arab 
prisoners in exchange for them. 

Our new companions fully sympathised in my anxiety about 
Meurice's health, and forgot their own sufferings to assist me in 
nursing him. 

On tiie next morning Ben Faka, in the same conceited and 
scornful tone in wliich he had announced the arrival of the 
prisoners from Tlemsen, informed me that another prisoner was 
beinor broug-ht before the Sultan. 

We went outside the tent, where we saw a French prisoner led 
past us. He was about fifty years of age ; a long beard and thick 
moustache of a light color.r hung dirtj'^ and matted over his 
naked breast ; a ragged shirt covered his shoulders, wliich, with a 
pair of soldiers trowser's full of holes, and a grey hat all crushed 
and battered, completed his costume. The blood which droppe<! 
from the wounds on his feet and legs marked his path. A noisy 
and cruel escort of children, which had followed him from the 
outskirts of the town, never ceased from tormenting him witli 
blows, or with throwing stones : clotted black gore dropped from 
several deep cuts in his head. I endeavoured to get near him, 
for Meurice, whom we had brought out in front of the tent, 
had recognised M. Lanternier, but the chaous drove me back 
with tiieir sticks, and the prisoner was hurried past us, and 
dragged before Abd-el-Kader, amid the acclamations of the 

■ At the sight of this unhappy man Abd-el-Kader was touched 
with pity, and ordered Ben Faka to give him a haick and a pair 
of slippers, and to conduct him to our tent. But the chaous who 
had escorted him exclaimed, that the Christian dog had refused 
to obey their orders, and that he ought therefore to be sent to 
pri.^on. In vain did the unhappy man implore Abd-el-Kader's 
mercy, and lament his separation from his wife and daughter 

154 THE FRENCH IN ALGIERS. Ichap. ix. 

in the most heart-rending words. Abd-el-Kader, unmoved by his 
antjuish, commanded the chaous to take liim to the prison at 
Mascara, but to keep him separate from the Arab prisoneis, who 
might otherwise ill-use him. 

The unfortunate man was about to renew his entreaties for 
mercy, but his mouth was stopped by a blow. He passed before 
our tent, but we were not allowed to address to him a single 
word of consolation. As he passed ns his eyes filled with tears, 
and anguish and despair were painted in his countenance. He 
slackened his pace for a moment to look at us ; but the chaous 
beat him, and the children attacked him with abuse and with 
stones, one of which made a deep wound in his head — the blood 
gushed forth in a torrent, and the poor victim staggered ; but his 
pitiless tormentors drove him on before them. I withdrew into 
the tent to hide my tears, and was soon followed by the other 
prisoners : we all wept together. 

Meurice's state became more alarming every day. Bourgeois 
and Fleury chafed his limbs, and laid rags soaked in cold water 
upon his burning temples, whilst I went to tlietont of Ik'ii Faka's 
coffee-maker, whore I heated his slippers and some of his rags, 
which I placed upon his legs and feet while still hot. "With 
inconceivable difficulty we made him some barley-water, but he 
drank it with disgust, because it was not sweetened. He wished 
to go to Mascara, to take a vapour batli, which he fancied wouhl 
cure him ; and I accordingly oljtained an interview with Abd- 
el-Kader, and asked his permission to allow me to accomjjany him 
thither, which he granted for the next day. I then asked him 
for some sugar for Meurice, which he immediately ordered Ben 
Faka to give me. 

Next morning Abd-el-Kader lent us one of his baggage mules 
and a negro called Hassan, to take Meurice to Mascara. I led 
the mule by the bridle, and Hassan got up behind the sick man, 
and supported him in his arms. We were also accompanied by the 
army surgeon, callwi Tusses, who had studied medicine at Tunis, 
thoiitrh not to much purpose, for he was extremely ignorant. 

I went into the batli with INIeurice. and undressed him. for 
he was imable to move. I had intended to take a bntli myself, 
but the dirt and stench of the place made it impossible to me. 
I then went to the Kait of ]\Iascara, and asked leave to see 


JM. Laiiteniier, which the Kait refused. On hearing my disap- 
pointnit'iit, Hassan told me that he would go and find out his 
prison, and conduct me to it. I returned to Meurice in the mean- 
time, and found him in a state of perfect despair, as the Arabs 
liad refused to shampoo him, for fear of defiling tliemselves by 
touching a Christian. Fortunately Jean Marduliu, a French 
deserter, came to his assistance, and shampooed him as veil as he 
was able : he then dressed him, and wrapped him in two or three 
rugs, w hich the Sultan had given him for the purpose. Mean- 
while I went to fetch Tussis, w ho was to bleed the sick, man ; but 
Tussis referred me to a barber, who spoke pretty good Spanish. 
When I had explained to him what I wanted, he took his basin 
and razor, a glass, fire, and paper, and followed us to the baths. 
He first shaved the back of ileurice's head, made several incisions 
in it with the razor, and then covered it with a glass, under 
which he placed several pieces of lighted paper. The blood 
flowed freely, and Meurice found himself somewhat relieved. 
Tussis watched his proceedings with gieat attention, and seemed 
to me to be taking a lesson in practical surgery, whilst he affected 
to consider the operation of too little importance for the exercise 
of his own skill. 

TVe were now ordered to leave the bath, as the time appro- 
priated to the women was come. Mardulin and I wrapped 
Meurice in the rugs from head to foot, and carried him to the 
hospital, where we left him to sleep till it was time to return to 
the camp. I liad been very hot in the bath, and on leaving it I 
felt a chill. As soon as Meurice was asleep I went out into the 
public square, and laid myself upon the ground in the sun. 
Before long I saw Hassan, who beckoned to me mysteriously to 
follow liim. We crossed the square, and stopped before a house, 
the door of which was open. " That," said he, " is Lanter- 
nier's prison ; but take care you are not caught, or you will 
be beaten." 

I have already said, that the door of the house was open ; 
within it was an iron grating. At the distance of about two 
feet (/. e. the thickness of the wall) was another door, with 
a second iron grating, within which were crowded the Arab 
prisoners with no air or light but what the grating admitted. 
Between the two gratings, like a wild beast in a cage, was Lan- 

].3{) THE FRENCH IN ALGIERS. [chap. i:c 

ternier, crouching on the ground, covered with rags, pale and 
emaciated. The dirt and disorder in his person, and tlie expres- 
sion of stupid despondency in his countenance, showed what he 
must have endured. His eyes glared with a sort of feverish 

I drew near, and told him wlio 1 was. He described to me 
liis misfortimes, the sufferings of his w-ife and daughter, the 
ill-usao-e he had received from the chaous. He said that his 
prison was horrible ; that it was only cleaned once a week ; and 
that at niglit, when the outer door was shut, he was almost suf- 
focated by the stench of the inner room, from w liich lie was only 
separated by the grating ; that he received no food but a bit of 
barley cake in the morning, and a handful of boiled barley at 
night ; and that he must have died of hunger, but for the kind- 
ness of Mardulin, who brought liim a bit of white bread and some 
snuff every morning. He implored me to intercede for him with 
Abd-el-Kader, that he might be allowed to go to the camp to the 
other Christian prisoners. 

The sentinel now began to look at me suspiciously, and I de- 
parted, overwhelmed with grief. My mental sufferings, combined 
witii the chill which had seized me on coming out of tlie bath 
made me ill, and I followed the mule, on which Hassan had placed 
^leurice, with tottering steps. When I awoke next morning, I 
wa.s as ill as Meurice ; my legs were frozen, my head ached vio- 
lently, and I was unable to stand. Bourgeois was indefatigable in 
rendering eveiy assistance in his power to both of us. 

On the 2nd of November some Arabs brought from IMascara 
three of the frames upon which are stretched the haicks which 
hide the Moorish women when they travel in panniers on the 
backs of mules. We heard that these were intended to conceal 
Lanternier's wife and daugiiter and tiie two German women, wliom 
Abd-el-Kader was going to send as a present to jNIuley Abd-el- 
Rachman, Emperor of Morocco. These three frames were each 
balanced by chests, destined to contain five wild beasts, which, 
together witli tlie women, some ostriches, and some carpets, con- 
stituted tlie Sultan's present to the Emperor. 

One mornintr, when Abd-el-Kader returned from his wife's 
tent, which he visited every night, he brought back with him 
Benedicto, the little Italian sailor-boy, who had been living among 


the women for several uiontlis. The poor child was very beautiful, 
and reniarliably intelligent. The Arab women had been verj' 
kind to him, in spite of which he had been left without any other 
covering than the sliirt he wore when taken prisonet. He liad 
entirely forgotten his mother and his country, and already spoke 
Arabic better than Italian. When we asked him where his motlier 
was, he pointed to the women's tents ; if we enquired what was 
his religion, he said he was a Mahomedan ; he recited the Ma- 
homedan prayer perfectly ; and the Arab soldiers, who petted 
him very nuich, often made him repeat it fifteen or twenty times 
in succession. 

I had heard that the Sultan intended to remove his camp on 
the 26th to the neighbourhood of Tlemsen, I therefore asked 
leave to speak to him, and, on obtaining it, was carried into his 
presence. I again besought him to send Meurice to Gran, 
and assured luni that if he did not, the unhappy man would 
be dead in a week. Abd-el-Kader replied witli liis usual smile, 
" If he is so ill as you say, the journey to Oran would kill him : 
but, instead of following my camp, you shall remain at Mascara, 
where you shall be lodged in a comfortable house till you can 
be exchanged." Pie then ordered Ben Faka to give each of us a 
haick, and a little vest for the child. I returnefl to the tent over- 
whelmed with grief, and poor ileurice, wh.-j had flattered himself 
with the hopes of returning to Oran, read the cruel disappoint- 
ment in my face, and began to bewail his misfortunes, and to 
inveigh against Abd-el-Kader's barbarity. I tried to comfort 
liim with the prospect of being slieltered, warmed, and fed at 
Mascara, and pi'otected against the brutality of the Arabs ; but 
he answered, " It is all too iate !" hid liis head under his haick, 
and hiy on the ground stupified by misery. 



Prison at Mascara — Death of Meurice — Lanternier joins us — Four new 
prisoueis — Their adventures — Our way of passing our time — Conversa- 
tion of the prisoners — Fourteen lieads — The Italians. 

DuuiNG tlie afternoon of the oth a mule was brought to convey 
Meurice to Mascara, and I asked for another for myself; but 
in spite of my illness it was refused me. I revenged myself by 
pouring several pitchers of water into the chests containing 
cartridges which stood in our tent ; and I flatter myself that I 
watered them so thoroughly as to prevent their ever being of 
much use to my persecutors. 

I had no sooner accomplished my revenge than Ben Faka 
returned with the Kait of IMascara who was to escort us to 
the town, and we immediately started, accompanied by Fleury, 
Bourgeois, and little Benedicto. I was so oveqjowered by 
illness and fatigue that at length even the Kait took pity on me, 
and seeing that I was totally unable to walk, ordered Bourgeois 
and Fleury to lift me up on the nude behind Meurice. 

The Kait conducted us to a small house next door to that in 
which he administers justice, and informed us that this was to be 
our dwelling. It consisted of two small rooms on the ground 
floor, and one above which was accessible only by an external 
staircase in tiie court. We took up our quarters in the upper 
room, as it seemed rather less damp than the others. It was quite 
bare of any sort of furniture, and received a little light and a 
good deal of cold wind through two loop-holes looking into the 
court. A plank about three feet wide, fixed against the wall, 
.•seemed intended to serve as a bed. 

The Kait gave us a piece of an old camel hair tent and two 
rugs to covcT us. The two soldiers had the tent, and Meurice 
and I the rugs. 

The Sidtan's artillery' was just passing through Ma.scara on its 
road to 'i'ckedemta, and Jean 3Iardulin who belonged to it, came 
to visit us ; he found us so ill and miserable that he proposed to 


stay and take care of us, — an offer which we accepted with joy 
and gratitude. He had scraped together a little money, which he 
generously placed at our disposal. 

Meurice begged for an interview with Lanternier, but the Kait 
replied, that he had received strict orders from Abd-el-Kader 
not to allow him to communicate with the other prisoners. We, 
however, sent him a share of our rations every day by Mardulin. 

So far were we from recovering our health that I had now 
entirely lost the use of mj' legs, and my headaches daily increased 
in violence. I begged the Kait twenty times to let me be bled ; 
and at length he sent me the same barber who had operated on 
]\Ieurice. The barber cupped me on the back of my head, which 
relieved me very much. 

On the morning of the 12th the weather was detestable, the 
rain fell in torrents, and we suffered even more than usual from 
cold and damp. Meurice stretched out his hand towards me, as 
we lay side by side ; I took it, and asked him how he felt. He 
replied that he was no better and felt very cold. I crept closer 
to him and offered him my haick ; but he refused it, saying that 
he did not suffer more than the day before, but that he felt he had 
not long to live. " You," said he, '• are young and strong ; you 
will return to Algiers, where you will see my wife — poor Clarisse ! 
tell her how much I loved her, and tiiat my last thought was of 
her." He then covered his head with his haick, and for half an 
hour uttered not a single groan. At the end of that time I took 
hold of his arm and asked him how he felt : he made no answer, 
and I uncovered his face — he was dead. 

I will not attempt to describe the feelings whicii crowded upon 
me as I lay with Meurice's body by my side. Night was come, 
and I called the other prisoners, and bade them examine whether 
our poor companion was really dead. They went to fetch the 
Kait, who, now that it was too late, ordered a fire fur us. Had 
this been granted us a few days earlier, Meurice miglit have been 
saved. Bourgeois and Mardulin undressed the body, rolled it in 
a rug, and laid it in the opposite corner of the room. They gave 
me his clothes. The vermin on the haick were so thick that it 
stood on end ; but misery by degrees blunts all our sensibilities, 
both moral and physical. I rolled myself in his clothes, and at 
I-.-ast was warmer. 

160 THE FRENCH IN ALGIERS [chap. x. 

The iit'xt afternoon Manlulin and Bourgeois, assisted by a 
conple of Jews, whom tiie Kait had appointed for the purpose, 
removed the body. They dug a hole just outside the wall of the 
town, on the road to El Borgj, sew^ed the bofly in a ragged piece 
of old haick,and buried it there. 

The weather that night was terrific ; the rain fell in torrents, 
and the wind blew a perfect gale ; nevertheless, at sunrise an Arab 
came to inform the Kait that the corpse of the Christian Mas half 
out of the earth. In spite of the weather the Arabs had dug up 
the body, in order to steal the ragged piece of haick in which 
IVIardulin had sewn it. The Kait affected to be very angn^, and 
promised us that he would punish tiie thieves ; but he made no 
attempt to discover them. Manlulin iiimiediately went to the 
spot where he had buried IMeurice, enlarged the hole, and re- 
placed in it our unfortunate companion, whom these barbarians 
would not suffer to rest in peace, even after death. 

AVIienAbd-el-Kader heard of Meurice's death, he sent the most 
positive orders that we were to have everything we might want ; 
and the Kait asked me what I wished for. I asked for three 
fowls, and for permission for Lanternier to join us. As the Kait 
wisiied to keep me alive, I obtained both my requests. It is im- 
possible to de.'^cribe the joy of poor Lanternier, who inuuediately 
set about curing me by continued and violent friction and the 
application of red-hot bricks to my legs, which were so completely 
benumbed titat even when the skin wa.s burnt I did not feel it. 

All this time the Sultan was encamped to the .south of Oran, 
at a place where tliere are several marabouts and some mineral 
springs. He had sent Mihul-ben-Arrach with the cavalry to 
Milianaii to collect tril)ute from the Iladjutes of the neighbouring 
tribes. lie was to iiave gone among the Iladjutes himself (hiring 
the month of September, but had been prevented by the revolt of 
the Ik'ui-Kiitas. 

I heard one day that a courier had arrived with letters from 
Algiers, which he had delivered tr) the Kait. I got Bourgeois 
and Mardulin to carry me to his house, though certainly nothing 
of less importance Mould have inducefl me to be thus dragged 
across the juiblic place of Ma.scara. Tlie Kait w;is touched with 
pity at my deplorable condition. He told me that the courier 
brought a letter from Algiers, Mhicli, no doubt, Mould effect my 



deliverance. I asked to see it, and my joy was inexpressible ou 
beholding General Rapatel's seal. Guess, then, what was my 
disappointment when the Kait told me tliat he dared not open 
it, bat would send it at once to the Sultan, and tiiat Fleury 
should accompany tlie courier in onler to read it, as I was too 
weak and ill to bear the fatigue of the journey. 

Just as the courier was about to start, four new prisoners 
arrived ; these were Monsieur Pic a settler, his German servant 
formerly a chasseur, a disciplinaire, and Madame Laurent a 
canliniere. 31. Pic's servant, wlio had received a ball in his hip, 
was left at AJascara, wliile tlie Kait sent his three companions to 
the Sultan with the courier and Fleury. I especially charged the 
latter to ask the Sultan to exchange the four new prisoners against 
the four Arabs who were to have served as ransom for Meurice. 

On the 18th thirty Beni-Amers, — men, women, and cliildren, 
arrived at Mascara, loaded with chains. They had been taken on 
the road to Oran, whither tliey were going to place themselves 
under the protection of the French. Abd-el-Kader ordered the 
two chiefs to be hung as an example to others: the rest were 
thrown into prison. 

Fleurj' returned to Mascara with the other prisoners and a 
soldier called Devienne, who had been taken by the Arabs near 
Tlemsen. The Arabs who escorted them told them that they 
must take off' the haicks which had been given to them by the 
Bey of Milianah, and appear before the Sultan in their Christian 
dresses. The prisoners obeyed, and the haicks ilisappeared. 

After questioning the prisoners, and rewarding tlie Arabs who 
had broui>-iit them, Abd-el-Kader •>ave each of tliem two bits of 
money, and bade them fear nothing. Fleury then read the letter 
in which the Governor agreed to give fifteen Arabs in exchange 
for the six Christians, and the Sultan promised to send us all to 
Algiers at once. He also sent his command to tlie Kait to clothe 
us all afresh with red trowsers and new haicks, which the latter 
executed as far as he was able, but the Sultan's store contained 
but one piece of cloth, which was only sufficient for three pairs of 

The Kait promised that we sliould set out for Algiers as 
soon as the two Italian piiscners, Crescenso and Francesco, had 
arrived from Tekedemta, whither he had already sent to fetch them. 


'lliat ex ciiiiii;, when we were all assembled, I begged the four new 
prisoners to tell us !io\v tlicy liad fallen into the hands of tlie 

i\I. Pic and his servant were going towanis Buffarik with a 
cartload of sand, when some Arabs rode towards them, crying 
'' Run ! run ! " Thinking that the Arabs meant this as a friendly 
warning to them to escape from some impending danger, the ser- 
vant took to his heels, and M. Pic wjus about to follow him when the 
Arabs fired at them, and wounded tlie servant in the hip. They 
then took the horse out of the cart, mounted their two prisoners 
upon it, and carried them to the Bey of Milianah. 

The dhciplinaire was returning rather drunk, from a merry- 
making at a blockhouse near Butiarik, when he was surprised by 
some Arabs, who took him to their tribe near the Queen's Tomb.* 

Madame Laurent, in company with Madame Laforet anotiier 
rantiniere, was going to Mahelma to see Iier husband, when they 
were seized and carried to the tents of the same tribe ; where fdr 
two months tiiey were subjected to every sort of horrible ill usage, 
under which they botli fell sick, and Madame Laforet soon 

^Madame Laurent got worse and worse, and at last her master 
sold iier to another Arab, who kept her for two months, at the 
end of which time, finding her as ill as ever and utterly unable to 
work, he took her to the Bey of IMilianah. 

T]\Q (ll^riplinaire with \\\\on\ shv h<ul never 1)een allowed to 
have any connnuuication, had also fallen sick and was carried to 
the Bey. 

On their arrival at Mascara, these prisoners were in the most 
abject state of misery and dirt. Fleury cut of!" IVIadame Laurent's 
lon<4 hair wliich was covered with vermin, and she l)ou<i:^lit a comb 
with the money the Sidtan had given her. The Kait lodged her 
with his women, but she soon returned to us in a rage, as the 
.\rab women liad struck and ini^ulted her, and she was forced to 
take refuge from their malice with us. 

Our days were passed in the following: manner. At <laybreak 

Marduliu woke us, li<rhted the fire, and went to market to buy 

with his own savings figs, eggs, and white brearl for us, and 

snutr for yi. Lantcrnicr. We then hreakfasfcd ; after which 

• Vide page 7.3. 


we cleaned tlie liousse by turns. AVhen the weather was fine we 
went to sit upon the terrace of tlie Castibah, and hunted the vermin 
on our clothes : only M. Pic's servant, whose wound did not 
heal, stayed within. 

One day, while I was discussing with Mardulin how to obtain 
from the French Government his pardon and permission to return — 
a favour he so well deserved for Ids devotion and kindness to us, we 
overheard the followins;' conversation among the other prisoners. 
They were talking about their return to Algiers: and in spite of 
their rags and vermin they had forgotten their miserable condition, 
and already fancied themselves free. " I hope, gentlemen,'' said 
M. Pic " that when you pass through BufFarik on your return to 
Algiers, you will do me the honour of stopping to breakfast with 
me. Madame Pic will be extremely flattered by the compliment, 
and should any confusion reign in the meal, be so good, gentle- 
men, as not to attribute it to the slightest indifference on our 
part to the comfort of our guests, but to the joy which will 
no doubt disturb my wife, who of course believes me to be 
dead, and will feel considerable emotion at our meeting." 

" Gentlemen," began M. Lanternier, " I will not be outdone ; 
you nmst all give me tlie pleasure of your company at dinner at 
my village of Adel-Ibrahim. It is true, I am old, but to 
celebrate the day of our release I will take care that not even 
the youngest among you shall eat and drink more than 1." 

"Ah ro," broke in Madame Laurent ; " I trust, gentlemen, that 
I need not put up with the disgrace of being unable to offer 
you any civility. But first, I wish to know if there is a carriage 
road from Buflarik to Algiers." 

" Petite mere," answered the deserter, " you shall have a car 
whereon to make your triumphal entry into Algiers." 

" Be quiet you rogues, — I shall have the honour of receiving 
you at my canteen, and of offering each of you a glass of wine. 
The celebrated and unfortunate captives of the Bedouins shall 
have the privilege of drinking whatever they please gratis, like 
in the Champs Elysees on the birthday of Louis XVIIL I shall 
have the honour of waiting upon you myself, gentlemen ; and I 
beg you to believe that my dress will be more carefidly arranged 
and composed of better materials tlian it is at this present, most 
amiable and unfortunate captives of the barbarians." 

3t 2 

1(54 THE FRENCH IN ALGIERS. [chap. x. 

'" Long live Madame Laurent !" exclaimed all the prisoners at 
once ; " the amiable captives will all assemble at your canteen at 
Algiers." "And at night," added M. Lanternier, "we will all 
^;up together with due honours." "And you, Lieutenant," said 
Madame Laurent turning to me, *' will you do us the honour to 
be of the party ?" " Certa.iu\y , petite mere" replied I ; " and long 
live Madame Laurent." 

This is but one specimen of the conversations which con- 
tinually arose on this subject. 

After taking a few turns on the terrace we returned to our 
house, and as soon as the evening began to close in. Bourgeois 
brought the kitchen fire into our room in a chafing dish, and one 
of the soldiers went to fetch our supper and oil for our lamp at 
the house to which he was directed by one of the Kait's slaves ; 
for the irdiabitants of the town were forced to supply us by 
turns : meanwhile some of the party smoked, and others played 
at cards or chess with those I had manufactureil. AVhen we had 
eaten our kuskussu we called on M. Lanternier for a story, and 
listened with the deepest interest to Tom Thumb, Little Red 
Riding Ilood, the Sleeping Beauty in the Wood, or some other 
fairy tale, which he told with great fluency and grace. The 
fli.sciplinairc, who had a very fine voice, sang Provencal songs 
with great ta.ste and feeling. One by one we fell asleep, and thus 
ended our day. 

One afternoon our talk was interrupted by the noise of cannon 
and nuiskets, and of tunniltuous voices. "We went out to discover 
the cause, and were shocked at seeing tlie lieads of fourteen 
slaughtered Spaliis which thecliiklren were kicking about before 
thedoor of our house. They were afterwards put into a sack and sent 
to adorn Abd-el-Kader's tent. This hideousspectacle made me sick. 

On the24tli,two of the Italian fishermen, Crescenso and Fran- 
cc.>co, arrived from Tekedemta : Berthoumiau had <iied of cold 
and ill usa;;e, and had Inen l)uried there. Tlie account of their 
sufferings was terril)le. Their first enquiry was after little 
Benedicto, but the boy did not remember his friends or his 
country'; only when they mentioned his mother Maria he seemed 
to feel some emotion and his memory to revive. " My mother," 
said the bnv, " is there," pointing towards the tent of Abd-el- 
Ivader's wife; and a\^ay he ran to play with the Aral; children. 



Departure from Mascara— Striking scene— Milianah—^roussa the renegade— 
His letter — The Rhamadan— Delays— The Bey of Milianah— Setting out 
for Algiers— The Bey's daughters— First sight of Algiers— Fresh delays 
and disappointments — The Hakem's hospitality — Arrival at Algiers — 
Benedicto — The Arab prisoners at Marseilles. 

The next day the Kait of Mascara announced to us that we a^ ere 
soon to proceed to Algiers, and that he had received orders from 
Abd-el-Kader to clothe us, which he accordinglj- did. The 
following morning we started amid the threats and insults of the 
women, children, and inhabitants of the town, and took Bene- 
dicto with us by force. The Kait had the cruelty to send Mar- 
dulin out of the way, so that we could not press the hand of one 
who had been our benefactor during our stay at Mascara. 

TVe had scarce left the town when the Kait ordered a halt and 
counted us over three seAcral times: we were twelve Christian 
prisoners and three deserters : four of the prisoners were compelled 
to walk for want of mules, but were to ride by turns with the 
others. Together with several Jews and Arabs who had joined our 
caravan, we formed a body of forty, conducted by a Kait from the 
neighbourhood of Mascara, and guarded by one of Abd-el-Kader's 
horsemen. The Kait then left us after having enjoined upon the 
chief of the escort to treat us well. 

Soon after mid-day we saw the village of EI-Borgj, but we made 
a detour to avoid it, as it was market day, and the Kait feared we 
might fall victims to the hatred and fur\' of tlie assembled Arabs : 
;is it w;is, the women and children came running towards us, and 
loaded us with threats and abuse. Towards night, after travel- 
ling over various hills, rocks and brushwood, through a savage 
and uncultivated countrj', we reached a little village at a few 
leagues from the falls of the Guet Mina. The situation of this 
village at the foot of a mountain near several strean.s is delicious; 


rhododeiulrons, poplars, almond, fig, peach, and apricot trees, 
cover the wliole plain, and the gardens are kept fresh and green 
by a plentiful supply of water. 

After some delay we were ushered into a sort of stable, and 
when the marabout had recited a prayer some excellent kuskussu 
was brought to us. We passed a bad night owing to the smoke. 
On tiie following day, in about four hours, we reached the village 
of a tribe on tlie banks of the Ouet Mina, where we procured 
some food : we then continued our journey towards the Scliellif, 
avoiding the mountains inhabited by the Beni-Flitas who had 
shaken ()ff Abd-el-Kader's authority. Al'ter several days' forced 
march over a rough country, the tired mules stumbling at every 
step and the men on foot suffering acutely, we reached a small 
village governed by an Aga of the plain of IMilianah : we entered 
a large house in the public square, the inside of which was one 
vast hall, evidently intended for the reception of travellers. 

At one end mats were spread on the ground for our accom- 
modation, at the other several Arabs sitting cross-legged on rich 
carpets were j)reparing coffee. Presently the slaves brought in 
some splendid cushions and a handsome divan, more magnificent 
than those belonging to Abd-el-Kader. The Aga, sumptuously 
dressed, entered, accompanied by our Kait, the young marabout, 
and several chiefs, and they began to drink coffee and smoke 
long pipes. 

I went towards him and said that I was ill, and also a woman 
who was witii us, and begged him to give us some coffee ; upon 
which he not only ordered his slaves to bring us two cups, but 
sent Madame Laurent and Benedicto to his wife, who treated 
them with the utmost kindness. 

The iiall v/hich we occupied presented a mo^t picturesque and 
striking scene. In one corner were the Christian prisoners 
sitting round a large fire, talking over their miseries and their 
suflferings, their livid faces plainly telling the torments they hail 
endured : many Mere occui)ied in dressing their wounds and sores ; 
occasionally plaintive murmurs and confused groans were audible 
from among them. A few paces from us, on gorgeous silken 
cushions, the Arabs reclined in a circle round the Aga, M'ho looked 
like a Sultan in his splendid dress : these were drinking coffee and 
smoking. Tiie Hickering liglit made their pale faces look fiercer 


and wilder than usual. They were discussing the projects of 
Abd-el-Kader, and occasionally, when the conversation turned 
upon the Christians, their eyes flashed, rage deformed their 
countenances, and one might fancy that one saw before one some 
of those nomade tribes who in former ages overran Christian 
Europe, defiling the churches and monasteries by planting the 
crescent on their steeples and towers. 

At the hour of prayer the young marabout rose and recited it : 
the Arabs listened with deep devotion ; and from my corner I 
gazed upon the strange and imposing scene. We then had some 
kuskussu and half a roasted sheep. 

This delicious repast and a good night's rest greatly restored 
our exhausted frames, and we quitted with regret a village at 
which we had been so hospitably treated. Next day we reached 
Milianah. AVe received the usual treatment from the Arab popu- 
lace, but were at length safely lodged in the house in which the 
Bey delivers judgment. The house consisted of three small 
rooms on the ground floor : in one of these the slaves prepared 
the Bey's coffee ; the second served as a prison for those Arabs 
who had taken arms for the French, some of whom were in irons, 
and others confined in circular blocks of wood which prevented 
them even from rising ; the third room, which was dark, cold, 
and damp, was our prison. Our food was bad, and we suffered 
much from the exposure to damp and cold. Bourgeois, who 
until now had been in good health, fell ill, and our days Avere 
passed in rubbing him. The long journey too had irritated the 
wound of M. Pic's servant, which began to be most offensive. 

We had been assured that we should start for Algiers after 
three days' stay at Milianah, and this had kept us from giving way 
to despondency. But when the time fixed for our departure went 
by, the future appeared to us in the most gloomy colours, despair 
seized upon our minds, and disease and misery wasted our bodies. 

The Kait affected not to understand Abd-el-Kader's directions, 
and ordered me to write to Algiers to announce the death of 
Meurice and Berthoumiau, and that two other Christian prisoners 
would be liberated in their stead. These delays drove us to 
despair, and we looked forward with impatience to the arrival of 
the Bey of Milianah, who might perhaps hasten our deliverance : 
but, he never came. 


In the midst of these torments we one day received the visit 
of a deserter, whose life and position amonj? the Arabs are too 
curious to be passed over. 

I had seen this man before, but have delayed until now to 
mention him, in order to present this episode as a whole. "Wiiile 
Abd-el-Kader was encamped on the borders of the Ouet Mina, a 
handsome man, dressed in the uniform of the Spahis, and without 
a bernouse, passed our tent, making his horse prance. The Arabs 
pointed him out to us, saying, " lie is a Christian." 

Shortly afterwards a negro came and told us tliat Mou*sa, the 
Christian, desired to speak Mith us. As we did not wisli to have 
any dealings with deserters we told the negro that if Moussa 
wished to speak with us he must come here, as we were not free to 
go where we liked. 

Scarce had the negro left us, when a tall man with a long 
flowing beard and an insolent bearing came to us, saying, *' I am 
amazed that dogs of Christians such as you refuse to come when 
one so great and powerful as Moulin sends for you. Has not 
my flime reached you ; and know you not that your fate is in my 
hands ?" On my assuring him that I did not know him, he re- 
plied, " I am Moulin : four years ago I quitted the French, and I 
now command tlie armies of the Sultan. It is I who lead tliem 
to victory and carry terror and destruction into the ranLs of the 
Christian dogs. I am he who returns from every battle witli 
the heads of four Frenchmen whom I liave killed with my own 
hand hanging at my sathlle-bow." 

" I\Iy dear Sir," replied I, '' you must imagine, to judge by your 
styleofconversafion, that yon are talking to idiots." "What do you 
say, you wretch?" " I say that our soldiers still believe in the ex- 
istence of 3IouIin whose name even now inspires them with terror, 
for after an infamous desertion he wa.s distingnislied for courage. 
But he has been deaf) for years, and we do nut believe in giiosts." 

" I tell you, do-r of a Ciiristian, that I am Moulin ; I have 
taken the name of Moussa since I have become one of the faith- 
ful, anfl my power and authority know no bounds. I am now 
goinnr to the tent of my friend Abd-el-Kader to determine vour 

While this conversation was going on my poor friend Meurice, 
who was then ali\c, told me that he had attentively observed tiie 

CHAP. XI.] THE FRENCii IN Algiers; uo 

deserter's features, and that they were familiar to him at Paris. 
He begged me next time he came to turn the conversation to 
Paris, in order that he might observe the impression this pro- 

Next day Moussa presented himself with the same presump- 
tuous assurance ; and after a great deal of vapouring on his part 
I asked him if he still persisted in passing for xMoulin. " Dog 
of a Christian, you are most obstinate. Have not the French 
soldiers after a battle related that the Arab battalions were com- 
manded by the terrible Moulin ?" AVe then began to talk about 
Paris, in praise of which Moussa was most eloquent. " Do I 
know Paris?" cried he ; '* it is the place where I was born : and 
the theatres ! I went to them every night, more especially to 
the Odeon." 

" The Odeon !" said Meurice, with more heat than I had 
ever seen him exhibit. " The Odeon ! You are an impostor ; 

you are neither ISIoulin nor Moussa, but M . I know you 

well. You used to come every evening to the director's box at 
the Odeon : many's the time you have sat on my knee as a child, 
and your sister was then a charming actress. My name, Sir, 
is Meurice." 

Moussa was struck dumb at this vehement apostrophe, and 
Meurice continued, '' I have never seen you since, but I have 
heard of you ; you grew up a good-for-nothing fellow, and entered 
first the cavalry and then the infantry: in each your restless temper 
drew upon you the reprimands of your superiors ; till at length 
you engaged in the Bataillon d" Afriqiic, and then in the Spahis, 
whose uniform you still wear. I heard of your desertion in the 
prisons of Mascara. You may call yourself Moussa, but your 
name before your infamous apostacy was the one I pronounced : 
I do not repeat it out of regard to your family." 

'• I can deny nothing, Sir," said Moussa, with despair painted 
in his face. " I am miserable ; but believe me that it was only 
the vexations I endured which determined me to desert. I long 
resisted the unfortunate idea, but I could not bend to injustice ; 
and if I have done amiss I now expiate my faults most cruelly." 

We talked in this strain for some time, and Moussa appeared 
truly penitent, insomuch that we forgot his crimes and his im- 
pudence in our interest in his regrets and sufferings. From this 

170 THE FRENCH IN ALGIERS. [chap. xi. 

time forward I did not see him again, as Abd-el-Kader presented 
him with a horse, a sabre, and a rifle, and sent him to the Had- 
jutes, among whom he had lived since his desertion. 

One day during my captivity at Mascara, Moussa came to 
visit me. I felt some pleasure at seeing him, and told him Iiow 
miserable we were. lie promised to do eveiytliing in his power, 
tellin"- me that he commanded the cavalry of the Hadjutes, and 
that he was then on his way to Abd-el-Kader, whom he would 
press on the subject of our exchange. He added that he liad 
saved some money, and hoped to escape to the coast of Spain. 
Meanwhile he sent me some bread and a shirt, whicli I accepted, 
as I imagined that he w-as still repentant. It so happened 
that during his absence a Hadjute had told me that he himself 
had, in the affair of the 3rd November, cut off' the heads of tliree 
Frencli officers of the Spahis, which I must have seen at Mas- 
cara. At this moment Monssa came to take leave of us, saying 
he had been able to do but little for us, but that on his return he 
would give us everything we could desire, as Abd-el-Kader would 
jiay him handsomely for tiie three French officers whom he had 
kilU'd. and whose heads lie liad sent inm. adding that we should hear 
of him at Algiers, as he h id written Ins name with the ])oint of his 
sword on tlie back of one of the officers wliose head he had cut off". 

We could not restrain our indignation on hearing this wretch 
invent lie after lie, and boast of the mischief he had done to our 
countrymen. After loading him with o{)probrious epithet-^, we 
called bark the Hadjute, and told liim that IVFonssa boasted of 
having cut off those very heatjs widch he, the Hadjute, claimal 
as his prize. " What !" exclaimed the Hadjute ; " you say you 
have cut off'tiie heads of the three officers? Moussa, you lie in 
your throat. Ynu cut off" the heads of Christians; you area 
coward and a bragrrart. You fled when we encountered the 
Cliristians. You fled, dog that you are, although before the 
battle you boasted of yr)ur courage and prowess : you are a 
thief and a rascal." Tiien turning to us, he said — "What! 
did he say lie wa-s going to the Sultan, to his friend Abd-el- 
Kader ? His frifiid, indeed ! 'I'he Sultan has .sent for him, not 
to loarl him with favours, but to call him to account for the 
horsp, the rifle, and Jhe liernousc wiiicli he gave him. and which 
this fellow sold at lilid.ih, and then got drunk with the money." 


'• Sooner or later I will have my revenge," said Moussa, as Me 
forced him out of our prison. A few minutes afterwards a negro 
brought me a letter from Moussa to the following effect : — 

'• As I do not choose that a dog of a Christian, such as you, 
should keep anything that once belonged to so great and power- 
ful a Mussulman as myself, I herewith command you to return 
by the bearer tlie siiirt which I gave you yesterday. I am going 
to my friend Abd-el-Kader, and shall do my best to have your 
head cut off. At any rate, if I arrive too late to prevent your 
being exchanged, you will never see your friends, as I have given 
orders to have you all seized as soon as you have passed Buflarik. 

'■ Upon which I give you my word of honour. 


'• Commander in- Chief of the Suitan's armiea.'' 

This letter excited the laughter of my companions, and we 
burnt the shirt which the rascal demanded in such insolent and 
haughty terms. 

We never saw the rogue again, but heard that the Bey of 
Milianah had sent him to Abd-el-Kader, under the guard of two 
soldiers, charged with several offences, anil with having sold the 
horse, the bernouse, and the rifle, which had been given him by 
the Sultan, who, doubtless, condemned him to that death he so 
richly deserved for his various crimes. 

The fast of Rhamadan at lengtli induced the Bey to return to 
Milianah ; but his presence brought no alleviation to our suf- 
ferings. Our jailer made the fast a pretext for depriving us of 
our daily allowance of boiled barley, and giving us notliing but 
half a barley cake each. The weather continued bitterly cold, 
with continual snow and sleet ; and .our dungeon was so dark 
that we were unable even to catch the vermin that infested it. 
"SVe at length grew quite desperate, and most of us felt convinced 
that the Sultan had sent us to die of colil and hunger in the 
prisons of Milianah, and that he had never intended to release 
or exchange us. Fleurj', Bourgeois, Crescenso, M. Lanternier, 
and the German servant, lay on the cold bare earth sick of the 
fever, and their groans and delirious ravings sounded most horrible 
in the darkness of our dungeon. 

One morning a canopy was raised in front of our prison : magni- 

172 THE FRENCEI IN ALGIERS. [chap. xr. 

ficeiit carpets were spread, upon which were laid cushions covered 
witli gorgeous brocade ; and before long the Bey came and 
seated himself upon them, in order to distribute the pay to his 
soldiers. Some slaves spread a large round skin of morocco 
leather at his feet, and emptied several bags of money upon it, 
after which the soldiers were called up by name, and each in 
succession received his pay. 

Mahadin-el-lIadj-el-Schir-ben-!Moubarek Boy of iVIilianah, is 
a man of about forty. He is taller than Abd-el-Kader ; his face 
is long, his eyes small, his lips thick, and his beard grizzled. He 
M-ore a haick, and a bernouse of beautiful crimson and azure 
cloth, embroidered with silk and gold, and ornamented with gold 
tassels. A superb yataghan glittered at his side. His officers, 
who stood in a row on either side of him, were all dressed in red 
vests and trowsers and white bernouses. 

"When I perceived that the Bey did not ca-st a single glance 
upon our prison, and appeared to have forgotten our very 
existence, I came before him, with General Kapatel's letters in 
my hand, and represented to him tiie misery we endured, and 
how opjiosed liis cruel treatment of us was to Abd-el-Kader's 
generous intentions. The Bey answered me with plenty of iine 
promises : he then departed, and we heard no more of him. At 
length a Hadjute came to announce that we were to start for the 
place at whicii the jirisoncrs were to be exchanged, and in less 
than half an hour tiie list of names of those selected to leave 
Miliauah that verj- day was brought to us. It included Madame 
Laurent, M. Lanternier, Crescenso, Francesco, Benedicto, and] f. 

The weather was terrible; a thick snow was continually 
fallin"-. M. Lanternier was so ill that lie was unable even to 
stand, and nuisl infallildy have drop])ed dead from his mule 
in a few iiours. We therefore resolved to leave him, and to take 
M. Pic's German servant instead, who, though exceedingly 
ill from the effects of his wound, was able to sit upon his mule. 
We started amid the groans and lamentations of our fellow- 
prisoners, and the frantic complaints of Lanternier. 

A few days after our departure M. Lanternier sunk under 
his illness, and was buried outside the gates of Milianaii. 

We stopped before the palace of the liey, who was sitting in 



the court. He called me to him, and desired me to press General 
Rapatel to hasten the exchange of tlie other prisoners at the rate 
of three Arabs for every Christian. '• If,'' said he, " these terms 
are complied with, I will leave your outposts alone for a time ; 
if not, my Iladjutes and I will not suffer them to rest in peace a 
single day." 

Madame Laurent and Benedicto were waiting for us before the 
Bey's palice: their condition had been very different from ours. 
They told us that the Bey liad two charming daughters, wliose 
kindness was equal to their beauty, and who liatl never ceased 
from paying them every sort of attention. At Madame Laurent's 
request these amiable girls had frequently sent us provisions, but 
the slaves who were ordered to take them to us had eaten them 
themselves. AVe all mounted our nmles except Crescenso, who 
was obliged to follow on foot, and we quitted the town amidst the 
jeers and yells of the populace, who shouted after us " There go 
the Christian dogs." 

At length we were on our way towards home : the day of our 
release drew near; but this moment to which we had looked forward 
with so much impatience failed to excite in us the joy we had ex- 
pected to feel. Sickness and misery had so completely exhausted 
our strength and spirits, that we could think of nothing but the 
sufferings and fatigue of the present moment. We travelled the 
Avhole of the day over mountains covered with ilexes, gum trees, 
and cypresses ; the roads were detestable, and it never ceased 
from snowing. We made no halt until evening, when we 
arrived at a tribe in tlie mountains to the west of the plain of 
the Metidja. The Commander of our escort, one of the officers 
of the Bey of Milianah, conducted us to a mud hovel. A large 
fire was lighted, at which we dried our clothes, which were com- 
pletely wetted by the snow. The Arabs of the surrounding tribes 
crowded to look at us, and to torment us with blows and abuse. 
They forced little Benedicto to repeat the Mahometlan prayer 
to every new comer, and tlie poor child had to say it at least 
two hundred times that night : they then commanded us to do the 
same, and beat us violently when we refused. 

The poor German, whose wound was gangrened, suffered 
most from the inhumanity of these people who kicked and struck 
him on his wound. 'We dared not remonstrate against the 

174 THE FRENCH IN ALGIERS. [chap. xr. 

wanton cruelty of these Arabs, who would have been too glad 
of a pretext to kill us all on the spot. After torturing us for 
about four hours they left us, and some detestable kuskussu was 
brought for our supper. I asked for some butter and honey to 
dre.'js the poor German's wounds, but it was refused. "We lav 
down and endeavoured to sleep, but found it impossible ; and 
Francesco and I lay concerting plans of revenge upon the Arab 
prisoners at Marseilles, and lamenting the hard fate of the com- 
panions we had lost. 

We left this inhospitable tribe before daybreak without break- 
fasting, on account of the Rliamadan. Bj^ eleven o'clock we iiad 
reached the plain of the Metidja, and our guide pointed out to us 
on the horizon the position of vVlgiers. Tiiis sight inspired me witli 
fresh courage. I gave up my mule to Crescenso, wlio was weary 
with v/-alking, and my haick to Francesco. 

Tiie plain of the Metidja was covered with water ; in many 
places it was up to our knees. INIy slippers were in a very bad 
state, and I soon left tliem sticking in the mud, and iiad to con- 
tinue my journey barefooted. After a march of two hours we 
arrived at Blidah ; our leader made us halt at the gates of the 
town, while he went to fetch the Ilakem, a governor appointed 
by the Frencli. ]»ut the Ilakem was gone to BufFarik, to see 
whether the Arab prisoners who were to be exchanged for tis 
had arrived, and tiie inliabitants of the town not only refused to 
allow us to enter it, but drove us away Mitli blows and abuse ; 
and the Kait of tlie ITadjutes sent us to tlie tribe of the Beni- 
!Messaous, halfway up the Atlas, wIutc we rcniaincd two davs 
txposcfl to every sort of ill-treatment. 

.•\t the end of that time we were brought back lo Blidah in 
perfect despair; we found that the; Ilakem had returned from 
Buffarik, and he received us with great hospitality. Jladame 
Laurent and Benedicto were lodged with the Ilakem's wives ; 
the other pri.soners remained in the room in which we had been 
received at first, and the Ilakem .sent a chaous to invite me to 
sup with him. The codkcry was very different from that in 
Abd-el-Kader's camp, and for the first time I discovered that 
many of the Arab dishes, when well prepared, are excellent. 

After supper the Ilakem retired, leaving the Kait of the 
Hadjntes and myself to sleep in the room where we had supped. 


I rolled myst'If in a ruir ami was fast asleep in a moment, but I 
was presently awakened by the Kait, wiio came and seated him- 
self by my side, and tried to persuade me to desert my country 
and to remain with him. He offered me the usual inducenienta 
of fine horses, beautiful women, rich clothes, and splendid arras, 
and above all, plenty of powder. I was too tired to answer him 
anything but " Good night : do let me sleep." 

At eight o'clock next morning the Hakem came in and asked 
me whether I was satisfied with his reception. On my answer 
ing in the affirmative, he eagerly pressed me to persuade the 
Governor to raise his salary. 

Three mules were prepared for Madame Laurent, the German, 
and Francesco, with Benedicto behind him : Crescenso and I 
followed on foot. This last journey was as fatiguing and painful 
as any previous one ; it rained the wliole day, and Benedicto 
cried with cold. As for us, the outposts of Buffarik were before 
us, and we felt nothing but joy. 

I will not attempt to describe the reception I met with from 
my brother officers, nor my subsequent illness, nor how delightful 
it was to be nursed by my countrymen. Francesco, Madame 
Laurent, the German, and Crescenso were sent to the hospital at 
Algiers, where they lay ill for some time. The other prisoners 
were soon released, except the wife and daughter of M. 
Lanternier, and the two German women who are still in the 
possession of the Emperor of Morocco. I obtained Mardulin's 
pardon, and contrived to communicate it to him : he escaped from 
Mascara with some orange merchants of Blidah, and is now 
enrolled among the Spahis. 

As I was on the point of embarking for France I lieard 
myself greeted on the quay, and on turning round I saw Bene- 
dicto dressed in a new suit of clothes. " AVhere are you going, 
Benedicto?" said I. '• To my mother Maria, who has sent me 
these fine clothes ; I am going on board with Francesco and 
Crescenso to sail to Genoa, where she is waiting for me." 

On arriving at Marseilles, I hastened to visit the Arab prisoners, 
with the full intention of repaying them some of the cruelty I 
had enchired from their countrymen. I however confined my 
revenge to inviting two of them to dinner : one, who was a mara- 

!7(j THE FRENCH IN ALGIERS. [chap. xi. 

bout, would not eat, because of tlie Rhainadaii ; but the other ate 
and drank wine and brandy like any Christian. He pressed nie 
to return to his country, where he promised to give me quantities 
of horses and sheep, to receive me into his tent as his giaest, and 
to watch over me while I slept. After dinner I took him to the 
theatre, and ended by conducting him home to his barracks and 
hel])ing him to bed, for he had transgressed the law of the Pro- 
phet, and was drunk. 

rJiE i:M>. 

I.)n.l..ii : I'rintod by W. Clowes and S<.ns, Duke Street, Slamford SUci.t. 

DT Duff -Gordon, Lucie (Austin) 

294. The French in Algiers