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  135


Praetulerim scriptor delirus inersque videri,
Dum mea delectant mala me vel denique fallant.

HOR. Epis ii.

Done into English Metre.
I'd rather wield as dull a pen
As chatty B—or bungling Ben;
Tedious as Doctor P—nce, or rather
As Samuel, Increase, Cotton M—r;
And keep of truth the beaten track,
And plod the old cart rut of fact,
Than write as fluent, false and vain
A••oit Genet or Tommy Paine.

Marriages and Funerals.

IT is the privilege of travellers to exaggerate; but I wish not o avail myself of this prescriptive right. I had rather disappoint the curiosity of my readers by conciseness, than disgust them with untruths. I have no ambition to be Page  136 ranked among the Bruces and Chastel|reux of the age. I shall therefore endeav|our rather to improve the understanding of my reader, with what I really know, than amuse him with stories, of which my circumscribed situation rendered me necessarily ignorant. I never was at an Algerine marriage; but obtained some authentic information on the subject.

That extreme caution, which separates the sexes in elder life, is also attached to the youth. In Algiers, the young peo|ple never collect to dance, converse, or a|muse themselves with the innocent gaities of their age. Here are no theatres, balls, or concerts; and, even in the pub|lic duties of religion, the sexes never as|semble together. An Algerine courtship would be as disagreeable to the hale youth of New England, as a common bundling would be disgusting to the Mussulman. No opportunity is afforded to the young suitor to search for those nameless bewitch|ing Page  137 qualities and attentions, which attach the American youth to his mistress, and form the basis of connubial bliss; nor is the young Algerine permitted, by a thou|sand tender assiduities, to win the affec|tions of the future partner of his life. His choice can be only directed by the rank or respectability of the father of his intended bride. He never sees her face, until after the nuptial ceremony is per|formed; and even some days after she has been brought home to his own house. The old people frequently make the match, or, if it originates with the youth, he consides his wishes to his father or some respectable relation, who communi|cates the proposal to the lady's father. If he receives it favourably, the young couple are allowed to exchange some un|meaning messages, by an old nurse of the family. The bride's father or her next male kin, with the bridegroom, go before the Cadi and sign a contract of marriage, Page  138 which is attested by the relatives on each side. The bridegroom then pays a stip|ulated sum to the bride' father; the nup|tial ceremony is performed in private, and the bridegroom retires. After some days, the bride is richly arrayed, accom|panied by females, and conveyed in a covered coach or waggon, gaudy with flowers, to her husband's house. Here she is immediately immured in the wom|en's apartments, while the bridegroom and his friends share a convivial feast. After some ceremonies, the nature of which I could not discover, the bride|groom enters the women's apartment, and for the first time discovers whether his wife has a nose or eyes. Among the higher ranks, it is said, the bride, after the expiration of a month, goes to the public bath for women, is there receiv|ed with great parade, and loaded with presents by her female relations, as|sembled on the occasion. The bride|groom Page  139 also receives presents from his friends.

Within a limited time, the husband may break the contract, provided he will add another item to that already given, return his bride with all her parapherna|lia; and, putting the holy alcoran to his breast, assert that he never benefited him|self of the rights of an husband.

Notwithstanding the apparent restraint, the women are under, they are said to be attached to their husbands, and enjoy greater liberty than is generally conceiv|ed. I certainly saw many women in the streets, so muffled up, and so similar from their outward garment, that their nearest relatives could not distinguish one from another. The vulgar slaves conjecture that the women take great liberties in this general disguise.

Their funerals are decent but not os|tentatious. I saw many. The corps, car|ried upon a bier, is preceded by the priests, Page  140 chanting passages from the alcoran in a dolorous tone. Wherever the procession passes, the people join in this dirge. The relatives follow, with the folds of their turbans loosened. The bodies of the rich are deposited in vaults, those of the poor, in graves. A pillar of marble is erected over them, with an unblown rose carved on the top for the unmarried.

At certain seasons, the women of the family join a procession in close habits, and proceed to the tomb or grave, and a|dorn it with garlands of flowers. When these processions pass, the slaves are o|bliged to throw themselves on the ground with their faces in the dust, and all, of whatever rank, cover their faces.