The Author is carried to the sacred College of the Mussulman Priest: The Mortifi|cations and Austerities of the Mahometan Recluse. The Mussulman mode of Pros|elyting.
THE next day, an order came from the Mufti to my master, who receiv|ed the order, touched his forehead with the tefta respectfully, and directed me to be instantly delivered to the Mollah. I was carried to the college, a large gloomy building, on the outside; but, within the walls, it was an earthly paradise. The Page 47 stately rooms, refreshing baths, cooling fountains, luxuriant gardens, ample lar|ders, rich carpets, downy sofas, and silken mattresses, offered with profusion all those soft excitements to indolent pleasure, which the most refined voluptu|ary could desire. I have often ob|served that, in all countries, except New England, those, whose profession it is to decry the luxuries and vanities of this world, some how or other, con|trive to possess the greatest portion of them.
Immediately upon my entering these sa|cred walls, I was carried to a warm bath, into which I was immediately plunged; while my attendants, as if emulous to cleanse me from all the filth of errour, rub|bed me so hard with their hands and flesh brushes, that I verily thought they would have flayed me. While I was relaxed with the tepid, I was suddenly plunged into a contiguous cold bath. I confess I Page 48 apprehended dangerous consequences, from so sudden a check of such violent perspiration; but I arose from the cold bath highly invigorated. * I was then an|ointed in all parts, which had been ex|posed to the sun with a preparation of a gum, called the balm of Mecca. This ap|plication excited a very uneasy sensation, similar to the stroke of the water pepper, Page 49 to which "the liberal shepherds give a grosser name." In twenty four hours, the sun browned cuticle peeled off, and left my face, hands, legs, and neck as fair as a child's of six months old. This balm the Algerine ladies procure at a great expense, and use it as a cosmetic to heighten their beau|ty.
After I had been clothed in the drawers, slippers, loose coat, and shirt of the country, if shirt it could be called, which neck had none; with a decoction of the herb hen|na, my hands and feet were tinged yel|low: which colour, they said, denoted purity of intention. I was lodged and fed well, and suffered to amuse myself, and recover my sanity of body and mind. On the eleventh day, as I was reclining on the margin of a retired fountain, re|flecting on my dear native country, I 〈◊〉 joined by the Mollah. He was 〈…〉 of about thirty years of age, of 〈…〉 pleasing countenance and 〈…〉Page 50 He was born at Antioch, and educated a christian of the Greek church. He was designed by his parents for a pre|ferment in that church, when he was cap|tured by the Algerines, and almost imme|diately, conformed to the mussulman faith; and was in high esteem in the sa|cred college of the priests. As he spoke latin and some modern languages fluent|ly, was well versed in the bible and chris|tian doctrines, he was often employed in proselyting the European slaves, and prided himself in his frequent suc|cess.
He accosted me with the sweetest mod|ulation of voice; kindly inquired after my welfare; begged to know if my lodg|ing, dress, and fare, were agreeable; as|suring me that, if I wished to alter either, in such a manner as to bring them nearer to the fare and modes of my native country, and would give my directions, they should be obeyed. He requested me to appoint Page 51 a time, when we might converse upon the great subject of religion. He observed that he wished me free from bodily indis|position, and that the powers of my mind would recover their activity. He said, the holy faith, he offered to my embraces, disdained the use of other powers than ra|tional argument; that he left to the church of Rome, and its merciless inquisitors, all the honour and profit of conversion by faggots, dungeons, and racks. He made some further inquiry, as to my usage in the college, and retired. I had been so long accustomed to the insolence of do|mestic tyranny; so often groaned under the whip and burthen; so often been buffetted, spurned and spit upon, that I had steeled my mind against the sorce and terrour, I anticipated from the Mollah; but was totally unprepared for such ap|parent candour and gentleness. Though I viewed his conduct as insidious, yet he no sooner retired than, overcome by his Page 52 suavity of manners, for the first time I trembled for my faith, and burst into tears.