The Algerine captive; or, The life and adventures of Doctor Updike Underhill: six years a prisoner among the Algerines. [Three lines from Shakespeare] : Vol. I[-II]. : Published according to act of Congress.
Tyler, Royall, 1757-1826., Humphreys, David, 1752-1818, dedicatee.
Page  97


O'er trackless seas beneath the starless sky,
Or when thick clouds obscure the lamp of day,
The seaman, by the faithful needle led,
Dauntless pursues his devious destin'd course,
Thus, on the boundless waste of ancient time,
Still let the faithful pen unerring point
The polar truth.

AUTHOR'S Manuscript Poems.

Sketch of the History of the Algerines.

MUCH antiquarian lore might here be displayed, in determining wheth|er the state of Algiers was part of the ancient Mauritinia Massilia, or within the boundaries of the republic of Car|thage; and pages of fruitless research might be wasted, in precisely ascertaining the era, when that portion of the sea coast of Af|rica, Page  98 now generally known by the name of the Barbary * Shore, was subdued by the Romans, or conquered by the Vandals.

The history of nations like the biogra|phy of man, only assumes an interesting importance, when its subject is matured into vigour. To trace the infancy of the Page  99 old world, we run into childish prattle and boyish tales. Suffice it then to say, that the mixed multitudes, which inhabited this country, were reduced to the subjection of the Greek emperours by the arms of the celebrated Belisarius, and so continued, until the close of the seventh century, when they were subdued by the invinci|ble power, and converted to the creed of the ancient caliphs, the immediate suc|cessours of the prophet Mahomet, who parcelled the country into many subordi|nate governments, among which was that of Algiers; which is now bounded, on the north, by the Mediterranean; on the south, by mount Atlas, so familiar to the classic reader, and the chain of hills, which extends thence to the north east; on the west, by the kingdom of Morocco; * and, Page  100 on the east, by the state of Tunis. The state of Algiers is about five hundred miles in length, upon the coast of the Mediterranean, and from fifty to one hundred and twenty miles in breadth, and boasts about as large an extent of territo|ry, as is contained in all the United States proper, which lay to the north of Penn|sylvania including the same.

It was nine hundred years after the conquest of the caliphs, and at the begin|ning of the tenth century, that the Alge|rines, by becoming formidable to the Eu|ropeans, acquired the notice of the enlight|ened historian. About this time, two enterprizing young men, sons of a potter, of the island of Mytelene the ancient Lesbos, Page  101 called Horrie and Hayraddin, collect|ing a number of desperadoes, seized upon a brigantine and commenced pirates, making indiscriminate depredations upon the vessels of all nations. They soon augmented their force to a fleet of twelve gallies, beside small craft, with which they infested the sea coast of Spain and Italy, and carried their booty into the ports of Barbary, styling themselves the lords of the sea, and the enemies of all those, who sailed upon it. European nations were not then possessed of such established and formidable navies, as at the present day: even the English, who seem formed for the command of the sea, had but few ships of force. Henry the eighth built some ves|sels, which, from their unmanageable bulk, were rather suited for home defence than foreign enterprize; and the fleet of Elizabeth, which, in fifteen hundred and eighty eight, destroyed the Spanish. Ar|mada, was principally formed of ships, Page  102 chartered by the merchants, who were the general resource of all the maratime pow|ers. The fleet of these adventurers was therefore formidable; and, as Robertson says, soon became terrible from the straits of the Dardanelles to those of Gibralter. The prospects of ambition increase, as man ascends its summit. Horrie, the elder brother, surnamed Barbarossa, as some assert, from the red colour of his beard, aspired to the attainment of sove|reign power upon land; and a favourable opportunity soon offered of gratifying his pride. His frequent intercourse with the Barbary States induced an acquaintance with Eutimi, then king of Algiers, who was then at war with Spain, and had made several unsuccessful attacks upon a small fort, built by that nation on the Oran. In his distress, this king inconsiderately ap|plied to Barbarossa, for assistance, who readily embraced the invitation, and con|ducted himself like more modern allies. Page  103 He first assisted this weak king against his enemy, and then sacrificed him to his own ambition; for, leaving his brother Hay|raddin to command the fleet, he entered the city of Algiers, at the head of five thousand men, was received by the inhab|itants, as their deliverer, assisted them a|gainst the Spaniards, and then arrested and disarmed the principal people, secret|ly murdered the unsuspecting Eutimi, and caused himself to be proclaimed king of Algiers. Lavish of his treasures to his adherents, and cruelly vindictive to those, he distrusted, he not only establish|ed his government, but dethroned the neighbouring king of Temecien, and an|nexed his dominions to his own. But the brave Marquis de Comeses, the Span|ish governour of Oran, by the direction of the Emperour Charles the fifth, assisted the dethroned king; and, after defeating Barbarossa in several bloody battles, be|sieged him in Temecien, the capital of Page  104 that kingdom, where this ferocious ad|venturer was slain in attempting his es|cape, but sought his pursuers with a bru|tal rage, becoming the ferocity of his life. Upon the death of Barbarossa, his broth|er Hayraddin assumed the same name, and the kingdom of Algiers. This Bar|barossa is better known to the European annalist for rendering his dominions trib|utary to the Grand Seignior. He en|larged his power with a body of the Turk|ish soldiers; and, being promoted to the command of the Turkish fleet, he spread the fame of the Ottoman power through all Europe: for though obliged by the superiour power of the Emperour Charles fifth to relinquish his conquest of Tunis, which he had effected by a similar treach|ery, with which his brother had possessed himself of Algiers; yet his being the acknowledged rival of Andrew Doria, the first sea commander of his age, has laurelled his brow among those, who es|teem Page  105 glory to consist in carnage. This Barbarossa built a mole for the protection of the harbour of Algiers, in which, it is said, he employed thirty thousand chris|tian slaves, and died a natural death, and was succeeded by Hassan Aga, a renega|do from Sardinia, elected by the soldiers, but confirmed by the Grand Seignior, who, taking an advantage of a violent storm, which wrecked the navy of the Emperour Charles fifth, who had invaded his territories, drove that proud emperour from the coast, defeated the rear of his army, and captured so many of his sol|diers, that the Algerines, it is reported, sold many of their prisoners by way of contempt, at the price of an onion per head. Another Hassan, son to the sec|ond Barbarossa, succeeded and defeated the Spaniards, who invaded his domin|ions under the command of the Count de Alcandara, killed that nobleman, and took above twelve thousand prisoners. Page  106 But his successour, Mahomet, merited the most of his country, when, by ingratiat|ing himself with the Turkish soldiers, by incorporating them with his own troops, he annihilated the contests of these fierce rivals, formed a permanent body of brave, disciplined troops, and enabled his suc|cessour to renounce that dependence upon the Grand Seignior, to which the second Barbarossa had submitted.

In sixteen hundred and nine, the Al|gerines received a vast accession of strength and numbers from the emigrant Moors, whom the weak policy of Spain had driv|en to their dominions. Embittered by christian severity, the Moors flocked on board the Algerine vessels, and sought a desperate revenge upon all, who bore the christian name. Their fleet was said to consist, at this period, of upwards of forty ships, from two to four hundred tons burthen. Though the French with that gallantry, which distinguished them Page  107 under their monarchs, undertook to a|venge the cause of Europe and christian|ity; and, in sixteen hundred and sev|enteen, sent a fleet of fifty ships of war a|gainst them, who sunk the Algerine ad|miral and dispersed his fleet; yet this bold people were so elated, by their acces|sion of numbers and riches, that they committed wanton and indiscriminate outrage, on the person and property of all nations, violating the treaties made by the Grand Seignior, seizing the ships of those powers, with which he was in alli|ance, even in his own ports; and, after plundering Scandaroon in Syria, an Ot|toman city, they, in sixteen hundred and twenty three, threw off their depen|dence on the sublime Porte. In sixteen hundred and thirty seven, the Algerine rovers entered the British channel, and made so many captures that, it was con|jectured, near five thousand English were made prisoners by them; and, in the Page  108 same year, they dispatched Hall Pinchi|nin with sixteen gallies to rob the rich chapel of our lady of Loretto; which prov|ing unsuccessful, they ravaged the shores of the Adriatic, and so enraged the Ve|netians, that they fitted out a fleet of twenty eight sail, under the command of Admiral Cappello, who, by a late treaty with the Porte, had liberty to enter any of its harbours, to destroy the Algerine gal|lies. Cappello was ordered by the Ve|netians to sink, burn, and destroy, without mercy, all the corsairs of the enemy, and he bravely and successfully executed his commission. He immediately overtook and defeated Pinchinin, disabled five of his gallies; and, this Algerine retreat|ing to Valona and landing his booty, where he erected batteries for its defence, the brave Cappello manned his boats and small craft, and captured his whole fleet. In these actions, about twelve hun|dred Algerines were slain; and, what Page  109 was more pleasing, sixteen hundred chris|tian galley slaves set at liberty. History affords no instance of a people, so repeat|edly and suddenly recovering their loss|es, as the Algerines. Within a few years, we find them fitting out seventy sail of armed vessels, and making such daring and desperate attacks upon the commerce of nations, that the most haugh|ty maritime powers of Europe were more anxious, to shelter themselves under a treaty and pay an humiliating tribute, than to attempt nobly to reduce them to reason and humanity. But, after many ineffectual attempts had been made to unite the force of Europe against them, the gallant French, by the command of Louis fourteenth, again roused themselves to chasten this intractable race. In six|teen hundred and eighty two, the Mar|quis du Quesne, with a large fleet and several bomb ketches, reached Algiers; and, with his sea mortars, bombarded it so Page  110 violently that, he laid almost the whole city in ruins. Whether his orders went no further, or the vice admiral judged he had chastised them sufficiently, or wheth|er a violent storm drove his fleet from its moorings, does not appear. But it is cer|tain, that he left the city abruptly; and the Algerines, to revenge this insult, im|mediately sent their fleet to the coast of France, and took signal reparation.

The next year, Du Quesne cast anchor before Algiers with a larger fleet; and, for forty eight hours, made such deadly dis|charges with his cannon, and showered so many bombs over this devoted city, that the Dey sued for peace.

The French admiral with that gener|osity, which is peculiar to his nation, in|sisted, as an indispensable preliminary, that all the christian slaves should be sent on board his squadron, with Mezemorto the Dey's admiral, as a hostage for the performance of this preliminary article. Page  111 The Dey assembled his divan, or council of great officers, and communicated the French demands. Mezemorto immedi|ately collected the sailors, who had man|ned the ramparts, and with whom he was a favourite; and, accusing the Dey of cowardice, he so inflamed them that, be|ing joined by the soldiers, they murdered the Dey, and elected Mezemorto in his stead. This was a signal for re|newed hostility, and never was there a scene of greater carnage. The French seemed to have reserved their fire for this moment, when they poured such incessant vollies of red hot shot, bombs, and car|casses into the city, that it was nearly all in flames. The streets run blood, while the politic and furious Mezemorto, dread|ing a change in the public mind, and conscious that another cessation of arms would be attended with his death or de|livery to the French, ran furiously round the ramparts and exhorted the military to Page  112 their duty; and, to make his new sub|jects desperate, caused all the French slaves to be murdered; and, seizing the French consul, who had been a prisoner among them, since the first declaration of war, he ordered him to be tied hand and foot, and placed over a bomb mortar and shot into the air towards the French fleet. The French were so highly enraged, the sailors could scarce be prevented from attempting to land, and destroy this barbarous race. The vice admiral contented himself with levelling their fortifications, reducing the city to rubbish, and burning their whole fleet. A fair opportunity now present|ed of preventing the Algerines from again molesting commerce. If the European maritime powers had by treaty engaged themselves to destroy the first armed gal|ley of the Algerines, which appeared up|on the seas, and conjointly forbidden them to repair their fortifications; this peo|ple might ere this have from necessity Page  113 turned their attention to commerce; the miscreants and outcasts of other nations would have no longer found refuge a|mong them; and this people might at this time have been as celebrated for the peace|ful arts, as they are odious for the con|stant violation of the laws of nations and humanity. This was surely the com|mon interest of the European powers; but to talk of their common interest is idle. The narrow politics of Europe seek an individual not a common good; for no sooner had France humbled the Alge|rines than England thought it more for her interest to enter into a treaty with the new Dey, and, by way of douceur, sent to Algiers a ship load of naval and military stores, to help them to rebuild their navy and strengthen their fortresses; while France, jealous lest the affections of the monster Mezemorto, who barba|rously murdered their fellow citizens, should be attached to their rival the En|glish, Page  114 immediately patched up a peace with the Algerines upon the most favour|able terms to the latter; and, to conclude the farce, sent them another ship load of similar materials of superiour value to those, presented by the English. This, my readers, is a small specimen of Euro|pean policy.

The latest authentic account of any at|tack upon the Algerines was on the twen|ty third of June, one thousand seven hun|dred and seventy five; when the Span|iards sent the Count O'Rally with a re|spectable fleet, twenty four thousand land forces, and a prodigious train of artillery, to destroy the city. The count landed about two thirds of his troops, about a league and an half to the eastward of the city; but, upon marching into the coun|try, they were opposed by an immense army of natives. The Spaniards say, it consisted of one hundred and fifty thou|sand, probably exaggerated by their ap|prehensions. Page  115 This is certain, they had force sufficient, or superiour skill to de|feat the Spaniards, who retreated to their ships with the loss of thirteen cannon, some howitzers, and three thousand killed, be|sides prisoners; while they destroyed six thousand Algerines. No sooner had the treaty of Paris, in one thousand seven hundred and eighty two, completely lib|erated the United States from their de|pendence upon the British nation than that haughty, exasperated power, anxious to shew their late colonists the value of that protection, under which their vessels had heretofore navigated the Mediterra|nean, excited the Algerines to capture the shipping of the United States, who, following from necessity the policy of European nations, concluded a treaty with this piratical state on the fifth of Sep|tember, one thousand seven hundred and ninety five.

Thus I have delineated a sketch of Al|gerine Page  116 history from actual information, obtained upon the spot, and the best Eu|ropean authorities. This dry detail of facts will probably be passed over by those, who read for mere amusement, but the intelligent reader will, in this concise me|moir, trace the leading principles of this despotic government; will account for the avarice and rapacity of a people, who live by plunder; perceive whence it is that they are thus suffered to injure commerce and outrage humanity; and justify our executive in concluding, what some uninformed men may esteem, a hu|miliating, and too dearly purchased peace with these free booters.