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  158


O here; quae res
Nec modum habetneque consilium ratione modoque
Tractari non vult.

HOR. Sat. 3, Lib. ii.

Why do not the Powers in Europe sup|press the Algerine Depredations? is a Question frequently asked in the United States.

I ANSWER, that this must be effected by a union of the European mari|time powers with the Grand Seignior; by a combination among themselves; or by an individual exertion of some particular state. A union of the European powers with the Grand Seignior most probably would be attended with success; but this is not to be expected; as it never can be the interest of the sublime Porte to Page  159 suppress them, and the common faith of the Mussulman has more influence in uniting its professors than the creed of the christian, to the disgrace of the latter: and, as the Grand Seignior's dominion over the Algerines is little more than nominal, he is anxious to conciliate their favour by affording them his protection; considering prudently, that though in|tractable, they are still a branch of the Mussulman stock. Provoked by their insults, he has sometimes withdrawn his protection, as was the case, when he by treaty with the Venetians permitted their fleet to enter the Ottoman ports, for the express purpose of destroying the Alge|rine gallies; but, it is obvious, the sublime Porte meant merely to chastise not to ruin them.

In the Grand Seignior's wars with the Europeans, the piratical states have ren|dered signal services, and he himself not unfrequently receives valuable douceurs Page  160 for exerting his supposed influence over them, in favour of one or another of the contending powers of Europe. In the siege of Gibraltar by the Spaniards, dur|ing the late American war, that garrison received frequent supplies of provision from the Barbary Shore; but, by the ap|plication of Louis XVI. to the sublime Porte, the Grand Seignior influenced the Barbary states to prohibit those supplies; and the English consul was dismissed from one of them with the most pointed marks of contempt. While the Grand Seign|ior reaps such solid advantages from them, it is absurd to predicate upon his cooperation against them; neither can a union of the European powers be more fully anticipated. Jealousy as often actu|ates mighty nations, as weak individuals. Whoever turns the pages of history with profit, will perceive that sordid passion is the impulse of action to the greatest states. Commercial states are also actu|ated Page  161 by avarice, a passion still more bane|ful in its effects. These excite war, and are the grand plenipotentiaries in the ad|justment of the articles of peace. Hence it is, that, while every European power is solicitous to enrich and aggrandize itself, it can never join in any common project, the result of which, it is jealous, may ad|vantage its neighbour; and is content to suffer injury, rather than its rival should share in a common good. Hence it is, that christian states, instead of uniting to vindicate their insulted faith, join the cross and the crescent in unholy alliance, and form degrading treaties with piratical powers; and, as the acme of political folly, present those very powers, as the purchase of their friendship, weapons to annoy themselves in the first war, that their avarice or caprice shall wage. But, if ever a confederacy of the European powers should be formed against the Al|gerines, experience affords us but slender Page  162 hopes of its success; for, I will venture to assert, that from the confederacy of Ahab and Jehoshaphat, when they went up to battle to Ramoth Gilead, to the treaty of Philnitz, there never was a combination of princes or nations, who, by an actual union of their forces, attained the object of their coalition. If the political finger is pointed to the war of the allies of Queen Anne, and the conquests of the Duke of Marlborough, as an exception, I likewise point to the distracting period, when that conqueror was superceded by the Duke of Ormond, and the treaty of Utrecht will confirm the opinion I have advanced.

The detail of the history of the Alge|rines evinces, that the arms of individual states can be attended with no decisive success. Indeed, the expense of an effi|cacious armament would defray the price of the Dey's friendship for years; and the powers of Europe submit to his in|sults and injuries from a principle of e|conomy. Page  163 An absolute conquest of the Algerine territory cannot be effected but by invasion from the interiour, through the cooperation of the Grand Seignior or the assistance of the other Barbary states. The former I have shewn cannot be pred|icated, and the latter, for obvious rea|sons, is as little to be expected. A per|manent conquest of the city and port of Algiers cannot be effected, without the subjection of the interiour country. Tem|porary though spirited attacks, upon that city and port, have never answered any salutary purpose. They may be com|pared to the destruction of our seaports, in our revolutionary war. The port at|tacked bore so small a proportion to the whole, that its destruction rather served to irritate, than to weaken or subjugate. It should be considered, likewise, that the houses of the Algerines are built of slight and cheap materials; that upon the ap|proach of an enemy the rich effects of the inhabitants are easily removed in|land, Page  164 while nothing remains but heavy fortifications to batter, and buildings, which can be readily restored, to destroy. The following anecdote will shew how sensible the Algerines themselves are of these advantages. When the French vice admiral, the Marquis de Quesne, made his first attack on Algiers, he sent an officer with a flag on shore, who magnifi|ed the force of his commander, and threat|ened to lay the city in ashes, if the de|mands of the marquis were not immedi|ately complied with. The Dey, who had, upon the first approach of the ene|my, removed the aged, the females and his richest effects, coolly inquired of the officer how much the levelling his city to ashes would cost. The officer, think|ing to encrease the Dey's admiration of the power of the Grand Monarque, an|swered, two millions of livres. Tell your commander, said the Dey, if he will send me half the money I will burn the city of ashes myself.