THE ALGERINE CAPTIVE.
The Author is carried into Algiers: Is brought before the Dey: Description of his Person, Court and Guards: Man|ner of selecting the Tenth Prisoner.
WE saluted the castle with seven guns, which was returned with three, and then entered within the im|mense Page 14 pier, which forms the port. The prisoners, thirty in number, were con|veyed to the castle, where we were re|ceived with great parade by the Dey's troops or cologlies, and guarded to a heavy strong tower of the castle. The Portuguese prisoners, to which nation the Algerines have the most violent an|tipathy, were immediately, with every mark of contempt, spurned into a dark dungeon beneath the foundations of the tower, though there were several mer|chants of eminence, and one young no|bleman, in the number. The Spaniards, whom the Dey's subjects equally detest, and fear more, were confined with me in a grated room, on the second story. We received, the same evening, rations sim|ilar to what, we understood, were issued to the garrison. The next day, we were all led to a cleansing house, where we were cleared from vermin, our hair cut short, and our beards close shaved; thence Page 15 taken to a bath, and, after being well bathed, we were clothed in coarse linen drawers, a strait waistcoat of the same without sleeves, and a kind of tunic or loose coat over the whole, which, with a pair of leather slippers, and a blue cotton cap, equipped us, as we were informed, to appear in the presence of the Dey, who was to select the tenth prisoner from us in person. The next morning, the dragomen or interpreters, were very bu|sy in impressing upon us the most pro|found respect for the Dey's person and power, and teaching us the obeisance nec|essary to be made in our approaches to this august potentate. Soon after, we were paraded; and Captain Hamed presented each of us with a paper, written in a base kind of Arabic, describing, as I was in|formed, our persons, names, country, and conditions in life; so far as our captors could collect from our several examina|tions. Upon the back of each paper was Page 16 a mark or number. The same mark was painted upon a flat oval piece of wood, somewhat like a painter's palette, and sus|pended by a small brass chain to our necks, hanging upon our breasts. The guards then formed a hollow square. We were blind folded until we passed the fortifications, and then suffered to view the city, and the immense rabble, which surrounded us, until we came to the palace of the Dey. Here, after much military parade, the gates were thrown open, and we entered a spacious court yard, at the upper end of which the Dey was seated, upon a eminence, covered with the richest carpeting fringed with gold. A circular canopy of Persian silk was raised over his head, from which were suspended curtains of the richest embroidery, drawn into festoons by silk cords and tassels, enriched with pearls. Over the eminence, upon the right and left, were canopies, which almost vied in Page 17 riches with the former, under which stood the Mufti, his numerous Hadgi's, and his principal officers, civil and military; and on each side about seven hundred foot guards were drawn up in the form of a half moon.
The present Dey, Vizier Hassen Ba|shaw, is about forty years of age, five feet ten inches in height, inclining to corpulen|cy, with a countenance rather comely than commanding; an eye which betrays sagacity, rather than inspires awe: the latter is sufficiently inspired by the fierce appearance of his guards, the splen|dour of his attendants, the grandeur of his court, and the magnificence of his at|tire. He was arrayed in a sumptuous Turkish habit. His feet were shod with buskins, bound upon his legs with dia|mond buttons in loops of pearl; round his waist was a broad sash, glittering with jew|els, to which was suspened a broad scim|itar, the hilt of which dazzled the eye Page 18 with brilliants of the first water, and the sheath of which was of the finest velvet, studded with gems and the purest gold. In his scarf was stuck a poignard and pair of pistols of exquisite workmanship. These pistols and poignard were said to have been a present from the late unfortu|nate Louis the sixteenth. The former was of pure gold, and the value of the work was said to exceed that of the pre|cious mettle two hundred times. Upon the Dey's head was a turban with the point erect, which is peculiar to the roy|al family. A large diamond crescent shone conspicuous in the front, on the back of which a socket received the quills of two large ostrich feathers, which wav|ed in graceful majesty over his head. The prisoners were directed by turns to approach the foot of the eminence. When within thirty paces, we were made to throw ourselves upon the earth and creep towards the Dey, licking the dust as Page 19 a token of reverence and submission. As each captive approached, he was com|manded to rise, pull of his slippers, and stand with his face bowed to the ground, and his arms crossed over his breast. The chieux or secretary then took the paper he carried and read the same. To some the Dey put questions by his drog|oman, others were dismissed by a slight nod of his head. After some consulta|tion among the chief men, an officer came to where the prisoners were pa|raded, and called for three by the num|ber, which was marked on their breasts. The Dey's prerogative gives him the right to select the tenth of all prisoners; and, as the service or ransom of them constitutes one part of his revenue, his policy is to choose those, whose friends or wealth would be most likely to en|rich his coffers. At this time, he select|ed two wealthy Portuguese merchants, and a young nobleman of the same na|tion, Page 20 called Don Juan Combri. Im|mediately after this selection, we were car|ried to a strong house, or rather prison, in the city, and there guarded by an of|ficer and some of the crew of the Rover, that had taken us. The remainder of us being considered as private prop|erty, another selection was made by the captain and owners of the Rover; and all such, as could probably pay their ransom in a short time, were removed into a place of safety and suffered only a close confinement. The remnant of my companions being only eleven, consisted of the Negro slave, five Portuguese, two Spanish sailors, an Italian fiddler, a Dutch|man from the Cape of Good Hope, and his Hottentot servant. As we could prof|fer no probability of ransom we were re|served for another fate.
AUTHOR'S Manuscript Poems.
The Slave Market.
ON the next market day, we were stripped of the dress, in which we appeared at court A napkin was wrapped round our loins, and a coarse cloak thrown over our shoulders. We were then exposed for sale in the market place, which was a spacious square, inclos|ed by ranges of low shops, in different sections of which were exposed the va|rious articles intended for sale. One section was gay with flowers; another exposed all the fruits of the season. Grapes, dates, pomegranates, and orang|es Page 22 lay in tempting baskets. A third was devoted to sallads and pot herbs; a fourth to milk and cream. Between every section was a small room, where those, who come to market, might occa|sionally refresh themselves with a pipe of tobacco, a cud of opium, a glass of sher|bet, or other cooling liquors. Sherbet is composed of lemons, oranges, sugar, and water. It is what we, in New England, call beverage. In the centre of the mar|ket, an oblong square was railed in, where the dealers in beasts and slaves exposed their commodities for sale. Here were camels, mules, asses, goats, hares, dromedaries, women and men, and all other creatures, whether for appetite or use; and I observed that the purchasers turned from one article to the other, with equal indifference. The women slaves were concealed in a latticed shop, but the men were exposed in open view in a stall, situated between those appropriated Page 23 to the asses and to the kumrah, a wretch|ed looking, though serviceable animal in that country, propagated by a jack upon a cow. I now discovered the reason of the alteration in our dress; for, as the people here, no more than in New En|gland, love to buy a pig in the poke, our loose coats were easily thrown open, and the purchaser had an opportunity of ex|amining into the state of our bodies. It was astonishing to observe, how critically they examined my muscles, to see if I was naturally strong; moved my limbs in va|rious directions, to detect any latent lameness or injury in the parts; and struck suddenly before my eyes, to judge by my winking, if I was clear sighted. Though I could not understand their language, I doubt not, they spoke of my activity, strength, age, &c. in the same manner, as we at home talk in the swop of a horse. One old man was very crit|ical in his examination of me. He made Page 24 me walk, run, lie down, and lift a weight of about sixty pounds. He went out, and soon returned with another man. They conferred together, and the second was more critical in his examination than the first. He obliged me to run a few rods, and then laid his hand suddenly to my heart, to see, as I conjecture, if my wind was good. By the old man I was pur|chased. What the price given for me was, I cannot tell. An officer of the mar|ket attested the contract, and I was oblig|ed by the master of the shop, who sold me upon commissions, for the benefit of the concerned in the Rover, to lie down in the street, take the foot of my new mas|ter, and place it upon my neck; making to him, what the lawyers call, attornment. I was then seized by two slaves, and led to the house of my new master.
Perhaps the free citizen of the United States may, in the warmth of his patriot|ism, accuse me of a tameness of spirit, in Page 25 submitting to such gross disgrace. I will not justify myself. Perhaps I ought to have asserted the dignity of our nation, in despite of bastinadoes, chains, or even death itself. Charles the twelfth of Swe|den has however been stigmatized by the historian, as a madman, for opposing the insulting Turk, when a prisoner, though assisted by nearly two hundred brave men. If any of my dear countrymen censure my want of due spirit, I have only to wish him in my situation at Algiers, that he may avail himself of a noble opportunity of suffering gloriously for his country.
The Author Dreameth whilst Awake.
THE higher his rank in socie|ty, the further is man removed from na|ture. Grandeur draws a circle round the great, and often excludes from them the finer feelings of the heart. The wretch|ed are all of one family; and ever regard each other as brethren. Among the slaves of my new master, I was received Page 27 with pity, and treated with tenderness, bordering upon fraternal affection. They could not indeed speak my language, and I was ignorant of theirs; but, by dividing the scanty meal, composing my couch of straw, and alleviating my more rugged la|bours, they spake that universal language of benevolence, which needs no linguist to interpret.
It is true, I did not meet, among my fellow slaves, the rich and the noble, as the dramatist and the novelist had taught me to expect. To betray a weakness I will confess that, sometime after I was captured, I often suffered fancy to cheat me of my "weary moments," by por|traying those scenes, which had often a|mused me in my closet, and delighted me on the stage. Sometimes, I even contem|plated with pleasure the company and converse of my fellow slaves. I expected to find them men of rank at least, if not of learning. I fancied my master's cook Page 28 an English lord; his valet an Italian duke; his groom a knight of Malta; and even his foot boy some little lively French marquis. I fancied my future master's head gardener, taking me one side, pro|fessing the warmest friendship, and telling me in confidence that he was a Spanish Don with forty noble names; that he had fallen in love with my master's fair daughter, whose mother was a christian slave; that the young lady was equally charmed with him; that she was to rob her father of a rich casket of jewels, there being no dishonour in stealing from an infidel; jump into his arms in boy's clothes that very night, and escape by a vessel, already provided, to his native country. I saw in imagination all this accomplished. I saw the lady descend the rope ladder; heard the old man and his servants pursue; saw the lady carried off breathless in the arms of her knight; arrive safe in Spain; was present at the Page 29 lady's baptism into the catholic church, and at her marriage with her noble deliv|erer. I was myself almost stifled with the caresses of the noble family, for the part I had borne in this perilous adventure; and in fine married to Donna some body, the Don's beautiful sister; returned into my own country, loaded with beauty and riches; and perhaps was aroused from my reverie by a poor fellow slave, whose ex|treme ignorance had almost blunted the sensibility of his own wretchedness.
Indeed, so sweet were the delusions of my own fancy, I am loth to destroy the innocent gratification, which the read|ers of novels and plays enjoy from the works of a Behn and a Colman; but the sober character of the historian compels me to assure my readers that, whatever may have happened in the sixteenth cen|tury, I never saw during my captivity, a man of any rank, family, or fortune a|mong the menial slaves. The Dey, as I Page 30 have already observed, selecting his tenth prisoner from those, who would most probably afford the richest ransom, those concerned in the captures are influenced by the same motive. All, who may be expected to be ransomed, are deprived of this liberty, it is true; but fed, clothed, and never put to manual labour, except as a punishment for some actual crime, or attempting to recover their lib|erty. The menial slaves are generally composed of the dregs of those nations, with whom they are at war; but, though my fellow slaves were grossly illiterate, I must do them the justice to say, they had learned well the kinder virtues: those vir|tues, which schools and colleges often fail to teach, which, as Aristotle well observes, are like a flame of fire. Light them up in whatever climate you will, they burn and shine ever the same.
Account of my Master Abdel Melic: de|scription of his House, Wife, Country House, and severe Treatment of his Slaves.
THE name of my master was Abdel Melic. He had been former|ly an officer in the Dey's troops, and, it was said, had rendered the Dey's father some important service in an insurrection, and was therefore highly respected; though at that time he had no publick employ|ment. He was an austere man; his nat|ural severity being probably encreased by his employment as a military officer. I Page 32 never saw the face of any other person in his family, except the male slaves. The houses of the Algerines are nearly all up|on the same model; consisting of a building towards the street of one or two stories, which is occupied by the master and male domes|tics, and which is connected by a gallery up|on the ground, if the house is of one story; if of two, the entrance is above stairs, to a building of nearly the same size behind, which has no windows or lattices at the side, but only looking into a garden, which is always surrounded by a high wall. In these back apartments 〈◊〉 women are lodged, both wives and slaves. My mas|ter had a wife, the daughter of a princi|pal officer in the Dey's court, and, to my surprise, had only one. I found it to be a vulgar errour, that the Algerines had gen|erally more. It is true they are allowed four by their law; but they generally find, as in our country, one lady sufficient for all the comforts of connubial life; and Page 33 never take another, except family alliance or barrenness renders it eligible or nec|essary. The more I became acquainted with their customs, the more was I struck with their great resemblance to the pa|triarchical manners, described in holy writ. Concubinage is allowed; but few respectable people practise it, except for the sake of heirs. With the Algerines the barrenness of a RACHEL is sometimes compensated to the husband, by the fertil|ity of a BILHAH. After I had lived in this town house about three weeks, dur|ing which time I was clothed after the fashion of the country, my master moved, with his whole family, to a country house on the river Saffran. Our journey, which was about twelve miles, was per|formed in the evening. Two carriages, resembling our travelling waggons, con|tained the women. Only the bodies of them were latticed, and furnished with cur|tains to cover them in the day time, which Page 34 were rolled up in the evening. Two slaves preceded the carriages. Abdel Melic followed on horseback, and I ac|companied a baggage waggon in the rear. When we arrived at the country house, the garden gates were thrown open, and the carriages with the women entered. The men were introduced to the front apartments. I found here several more slaves, equally ignorant and equally attentive and kind towards me, as those I had seen in the town. The next day, we were all set to work in digging for the foundation of a new wall, which was to enlarge our master's gardens. The weath|er was sultry. The soil below the surface was almost a quicksand. I, un|used to hard labour, found my strength soon exhausted. My fellow slaves, com|passionating my distress, were anxious, by changing places with me, to render my share of the labour less toilsome. As we had our stint for the whole party staked Page 35 out to us every morning, it was in the power of my kind fellow labourers to fa|vour me much. Often would they re|quest me, by signs, to repose myself in the shade, while they encouraged each other to perform my share of the task. After a while, our master came to inspect the work; and, conceiving that it did not progress as fast as he wished, he put an overseer over us, who, finding me not so active as the rest, first threatened and then struck me with his whip. This was the first disgraceful blow I had ever received. Judge you, my gallant, freeborn fellow citizens, you, who rejoice daily in our federal strength and independence, what were my sensations. I threw down my spade with disdain, and retired from my work, lowering indignation upon my in|sulting oppressor. Upon his lifting his whip to strike me again, I flew at him, collared him, and threw him on his back. Then, setting my foot on his breast, I Page 36 called upon my fellow slaves to assist me to bind the wretch, and to make one glo|rious effort for our freedom. But I called in vain. They could not com|prehend my language; and, if they could, I spoke to slaves, astonished at my pre|sumption, and dreading the consequences for me and themselves. After their first astonishment, they ran and took me gent|ly off from the overseer, and raised him with the greatest respect. No sooner was he upon his feet than, mad with rage, he took up a mattoc; and, with a violent blow upon my head, levelled me to the ground. I lay senseless, and was awak|ened from my stupor by the severe lashes of his whip, with which the dastardly wretch continued to beat me, until his strength failed. I was then left to the care of my fellow slaves, who could only wash my wounds with their tears. Com|plaint was immediately made to my mas|ter, and I was sent to work in a stone Page 37 quarry about two miles from the house. At first, I rejoiced in escaping the malice of this merciless overseer, but soon found I had made no advantageous exchange. I was surrounded by the most miserable objects. My fellow labourers had been put to this place, as a punishment for do|mestic crimes, or for their superiour strength, and all were obliged to labour equally hard. To break hard rocks with heavy mauls, to transport large stones upon our backs up the craggy sides of the quarry, were our common labours; and to drink water, which would have been delicious, if cold, and to eat black barley bread and onions, our daily fare; while the few hours, allotted to rest upon our flinty beds, were disturbed by the tormenting insects, or on my part by the more tor|menting dreams of the dainties of my fa|ther's house. There is a spring under a rock upon my father's farm, which we called the cold spring, from which we us|ed Page 38 to supply our family with water, and prided ourselves in presenting it as a re|freshing beverage, in summer, to our visit|ors. How often, after working beyond my strength, on a sultry African day, in that horrid quarry, have I dreamed of dipping my cup in that cold spring, and fancied the waters eluding my taste as I raised it to my lips. Being presented with a tumbler filled from this spring, af|ter my return, in a large, circle of friends, the agonies I had suffered came so forci|bly into my recollection, that I could not drink the water, but had the weakness to melt into tears.
How naturally did the emaciated prod|igal, in the scripture, think upon the bread in his father's house. Bountiful Father of the Universe, how are com|mon blessings of thy providence despised. When I ate of the bread of my father's house, and drank of his refreshing spring, no grateful return was made to him or Page 39 thee. It was amidst the parched sands and flinty rocks of Africa that thou taughtest me, that the bread was indeed pleasant, and the water sweet. Let those of our fellow citizens, who set at nought the rich blessings of our federal union, go like me to a land of slavery, and they will then learn how to appreciate the value of our free government.
The Author is encountered by a Renegado: Struggles between Faith, the World, the Flesh, and the Devil.
AS I was drooping under my daily task, I saw a young man habited in the Turkish dress, whose clear skin and florid cheek convinced me he was not a native of the country; whose mild air and manners betrayed nothing of the fe|rocity of the renegado. The stile of his turban pronounced him a Mahometan; but the look of pity, he cast towards the Page 41 christian slaves, was entirely inconsistent with the pious hauteur of the mussulman; for christian dog is expressed as strongly by the features as the tongue of him, they call a true believer. He arrested my atten|tion. For a moment I suspended my la|bour. At the same moment, an unmer|ciful lash, from the whip of the slave driv|er, recalled my attention to my work, and excited his, who was the cause of my neg|lect. At his approach, the slave driver quitted me. The stranger accosted me, and in good English commisserated my distresses, which, he said, he should de|plore the more, if they were remediless. When a man is degraded to the most ab|ject slavery, lost to his friends, neglected by his country, and can anticipate no rest but in the grave, is not his situation rem|ediless, I replied? Renounce the Chris|tian, and embrace the Mahometan faith; you are no longer a slave, and the de|lights of life await you, retorted he. You Page 42 see me. I am an Englishman. For three years after my captivity, like you, I groaned under the lash of the slave driv|er; I ate the scanty morsel of bitterness, moistened with my tears. Borne down by the complicated ills of hunger and severe labour, I was carried to the infir|mary for slaves, to breathe my last, where I was visited by a Mollah or Mahometan priest. He pitied the misfortunes of a wretch, who, he said, had suffered a cruel existence, in this life, and had no rational hopes of exchanging it for a better, in the world to come. He opened the great truths of the mussulman faith. By his assistance I recovered my health, and was received a|mong the faithful. Embraced and protect|ed by the rich and powerful, I have now a house in the city, a country residence on the Saffran, two beautiful wives, a train of domestics; and a respectable place in the Dey's customs defrays the expense. Come, added he, let me send Page 43 my friend, the Mollah, to you. He will remove your scruples, and, in a few days, you will be as free and happy as I am. I looked at him with astonishment. I had ever viewed the character of an a|postate as odious and detestable. I turn|ed from him with abhorrence, and for once embraced my burthen with pleasure. Indeed I pity you, said he. I sorrow for your distresses, and pity your preju|dices. I pity you too, replied I, the tears standing in my eyes. My body is in slave|ry, but my mind is free. Your body is at liberty, but your soul is in the most abject slavery, in the gall of bitterness and bond of iniquity. You have sold your God for filthy lucre; and "what shall it profit you, if you gain the whole world and lose your own soul, or what shall a man give in ex|change for his soul." I respect your prej|udices, said the stranger, because I have been subject to them myself. I was born in Birmingham in England, and educated a Page 44 rigid dissenter. No man is more subject to prejudice than an Englishman, and no sec|tary more obstinately attached to his tenets than the dissenter. But I have conversed with the Mollah, and I am convinced of the errours of my education. Converse with him likewise. If he does not convince you, you may glory in the christian faith; as that faith will be then founded on ra|tional preference, and not merely on your ignorance of any other religious system. Suggest the least desire to converse with the Mollah, and an order from the Mufti will come to your master. You will be clothed and fed at the public expense; be lodged one month in the college of the priest; and not returned to your labours, until the priest shall declare you incorrigible. He then left me. The heat increased, and my strength wast|ed. The prospect of some alleviation from labour, and perhaps a curiosity to hear what could be said in favour of so Page 45 detestably ridiculous a system, as the Mahometan imposture, induced me, when I saw the Englishman again, to signify my consent to converse with the Mollah.
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.
The Author confereth with a Mollah or Mahometan Priest: Defendeth the Verity of the Christian Creed, and resigns his Body to Slavery, to preserve the Freedom of his Mind.
UPON the margin of a refresh|ing fountain, shadowed by the fragrant branches of the orange, date, and pome|granate, for five successive days I main|tained the sacred truths of our holy relig|ion, against the insidious attack of the mussulman priest. To be more perspic|uous, I have condensed our conversation, Page 54 and, to avoid useless repetition, have as|sumed the manner of a dialogue.
Born in New England, my friend, you are a christian purified by Calvin. Born in the Campania of Rome, you had been a papist. Nursed by the Hindoos, you would have entered the pagoda with reverence, and worshipped the soul of your ancestor in a duck. Educated on the bank of the Wolga the Delai Lama had been your god. In Chi|na, you would have worshipped Tien, and perfumed Confucius, as you bowed in adoration before the tablets of your an|cestors. Cradled with the Parsees of In|dostan, you had adored fire, and trembled with pious awe, as you presented your rice and your ghee to the adorable cock and dog.
A wise man adheres not to his religion, because it was that of his ancestors. He will examine the creeds of other nations, compare them with his own, and hold fast that, which is right.
You speak well. I will bring my religion to the test. Compare it with the—the—
Speak out boldly. No ad|vantage shall be taken. You would say, with the Mahometan imposture. To de|termine which of two revealed religions is best, two inquiries are alone necessary. First, which of them has the highest proof of its divine origin, and which inculcates the purest morals: that is, of which have we the greatest certainty that it came from God, and which is calculated to do most good to mankind.
True. As to the first point, our bible was written by men divinely in|spired.
Our alcoran was written by the finger of the Deity himself. But who told you, your bible was written by men divinely inspired.
We have received it from our ancestors, and we have as good evidence Page 56 for the truths it contains, as we have in profane history for any historical fact.
And so have we for the alco|ran. Our sacred and profane writers all prove the existence of such a prophet as Mahomet, that he received the sacred vol|ume from the hand of Gabriel, and the traditions of our ancestors confirm our faith.
We know, the christian reli|gion is true, from its small beginnings and wonderful increase. None but Deity himself could have enabled a few illiterate fishermen to spread a religion over the world, and perpetuate it to posterity.
Your argument I ••ow to be forcible, but grant us also the use of it. Mahomet was an illiterate camel driver. Could he, who could not read nor write, have published a book, which for its ex|cellence has astonished the world? Would the learned of Medina and Mecca have become his disciples? Could Omar and Page 57 Abubeker, his successours, equally illiterate, have become the admiration of the world? If you argue from the astonishing spread of your faith, view our prophet, born five hundred and sixty nine years, and dating the promulgation of his doctrine six hun|dred and twenty years after the birth of your prophet. See the extensive coun|tries of Persia, Arabia, Syria, Egypt, all rejoicing in its benign influence. See our holy faith pouring its divine rays of light into Russia, and Tartary. See it received by enlightened Greece, raising its crescent through the vast Turkish em|pire, and the African states. See Pales|tine, and Jerusalem the birth place of your prophet, filled with the disciples of ours. See Asia and Africa, and a great part of Europe acknowledging the unity of God, and the mission of his prophet. In a word, view the world. See two ma|hometans of a religion, which arose six hundred and twenty years after yours, to one Page 58 christian, computing those of all denomi|nations, and then give your argument of the miraculous spread of religion its due weight.
My blood boiled to hear this infidel vaunt himself thus triumphantly against my faith; and, if it had not been for a prudence, which in hours of zeal I have since had cause to lament, I should have taken vengeance of him upon the spot. I restrained my anger, and observed, our religion is supported by miracles.
So is ours; which is the more remarkable, as our great prophet de|clared, he was not sent into the world to work miracles, but to preach the unity of the first cause, the resurrection of the dead, the bliss of paradise, and the tor|ments of the damned. Yet his whole life was a miracle. He was no sooner born than, with a voice, like the thundering of Heronon, he pronounced the adorable creed to his mother and nurses: I profess Page 59 that there is only one God, and that I am his apostle. He was circumcised from all eternity; and, at the same hour, a voice of four mighty angels was heard proclaiming from the four corners of the holy house. The first saying, proclaim the truth is risen, and all lies shall return into hell. The second uttering, now is born an apostle of your own nation, and the Omnipotent is with him. The words of the third were, a book full of illustrious light is sent to you from God; and the fourth voice was heard to say, O Maho|met, we have sent thee to be a prophet, apostle, and guide to the world.
When the sent of God was about three years old, the blessed child retired into a cave, at the basis of mount Uriel; when the archangel Gabriel, covering his face with his wings, in awful respect approach|ed him saying, Bismillahi Rrahmani Rrha|himi; in the name of the one Almighty, Compassionate, and Merciful, I am sent to Page 60 pluck from thy heart the root of evil; for thy prayers have shaken the pillars of e|ternal decree. The infant prophet said, the will of thy Lord and mine be done. The archangel, then opened his bosom with a lancet of adamant, and, taking out his heart, squeezed from it the black drop of original sin; and, having restored the heart, sunk gently into the bosom of the Houri.
Do you wish for more miracles? Hear how the prophet, in the dark night, pass|sed the seven heavens upon the sacred mule; of the mighty angel he saw, of such astonishing magnitude, that it was twelve thousand days journey in the space be|tween his eye brows; of the years he pent in perusing the book of destiny; and how he returned, so speedily that, the mattress was not cold, and he recovered the pitcher at his bed side, which he had overset at his departure, so that not one drop of water was lost. Contrast these Page 61 with those of your prophet. He then vented a volume of reproach horrible to hear, and too blasphemous to defile my paper.
Our religion was disseminated in peace; yours was promulgated by the sword.
My friend, you surely have not read the writings of your own histo|rians. The history of the christian church is a detail of bloody massacre: from the institution of the christian thundering le|gion, under Constantine the great, to the expulsion of the Moors out of Spain by the ferocious inquisition, or the dragoon|ing of the Hugonots from France, under Louis the great. The mussulmen never yet forced a man to adopt their faith. When Abubeker, the caliph, took a chris|tian city, he forbore to enter a principal church, as he should pray in the temple of God; and, where he prayed, the build|ing would be established as a mosque by Page 62 the piety of the faithful. The compan|ions and successours of the apostle conquer|ed cities and kingdoms, like other nations. They gave civil laws to the conquered, according to the laws of nations; but they never forced the conscience of any man. It is true, they then and we now, when a slave pronounces the infallible creed, immediately knock off his fet|ters and receive him as a brother; be|cause we read in the book of Zuni that the souls of true believers are bound up in one fragrant bundle of eternal love. We leave it to the christians of the West In|dies, and christians of your southern plan|tations, to baptize the unfortunate Af|rican into your faith, and then use your brother christians as brutes of the des|ert.
Here I was so abashed for my country, I could not answer him.
But you hold a sensual par|adise.
So the doctors of your church tell you; but a sensual heaven is no more imputable to us than to you. When the Most Holy condescends to reveal him|self to man in human language, it must be in terms commensurate with our con|ception. The enjoyment of the Houri, those immortal virgins, who will attend the beatified believer; the splendid pa|vilions of the heavens, are all but types and significations of holy joys too sub|lime for man in flesh to conceive of. In your bible, I read, your prophet refers to the time, when he should drink new wine in his father's kingdom. Now would it be candid in me to hastily brand the heav|en of your prophet as sensual, and to rep|resent your faithful in bliss as a club of wine bibbers?
But you will allow the pre|eminence of the morality of the sacred scriptures.
Your scriptures contain many Page 64 excellent rules of life. You are there taught to be kindly affectionate one to|wards another; but they recommend the use of wine, and do not forbid gaming. The alcoran, by forbidding in express terms the use of either, cuts from its fol|lower the two principal sources of disqui|et and misery. Read then this spotless book. There you will learn to love those of our faith, and not hate those of any other. You will learn the necessity of being vir|tuous here, that you may be happy and not miserable hereafter. You will learn re|signation to the will of the Holy One; because you will know, that all the events of your life were, in the embryo of time, forged on the anvils of Divine Wisdom. In a word, you will learn the unity of God, which, notwithstanding the cavil of your divines, your prophet, like ours, came into the world to establish, and every man of reason must believe. You need not renounce your prophet. Him we re|spect Page 65 as a great apostle of God; but Ma|homet is the seal of the prophet. Turn then, my friend, from slavery to the de|lights of life. Throw off the shackles of education from your soul, and be wel|come to the joys of the true believer. Lift your finger to the immensity of space, and confess that there is one God, and that Mahomet is his apostle.
I have thus given a few sketches of the manner of this artful priest. After five days conversation, disgusted with his fa|bles, abashed by his assurance, and almost confounded by his sophistry, I resumed my slave's attire, and sought safety in my former servitude.
COKE ON LITTLETON, Lib. iii. Sec. 268.
The Language of the Algerines.
THE very day, I was dismissed from the college of the priests, I was re|turned to my master, and the next morn|ing sent again to labour in the quarry. To my surprise, no harsh reflections were made upon, what these true believers must have stiled, my obstinate prejudice against the true faith; for I am sensible that my master was so good a mussulman as to have rejoiced in my conversion, though it might affect his purse. I experienced Page 67 the extremest contumely and severity; but I was never branded as a heretic. I had by this time acquired some knowl|edge of their language, if language it could be called, which bad defiance to modes and tenses, appearing to be the shreds and clippings of all the tongues, dead and living, ever spoken since the creation. It is well known on the sea coasts of the Mediterranean by the name of LINGUA FRANCA. Probably it had its rise in the awkward endeavours of the natives to converse with strangers from all parts of the world, and the vulgar people, calling all foreigners Franks, supplied its name. I the more readily acquired this jargon, as it contained many Latin derivatives. If I have conjectured the principle, upon which the Lingua Franca was originally formed, it is applied through all stages of its existence: every person having good right to introduce words and phrases from his vernacular tongue, and which, with Page 68 some alteration in accent, are readily a|dopted.*
This medley of sounds is generally spoken, but the people of the higher rank pride themselves in speaking pure Arabic. My conference with the Mol|lah was effected in Latin, which the priest pronounced very differently from the learned president and professors of Har|vard college, but delivered himself with fluency and elegance.
AUTHOR'S Manuscript Poems.
The Author plans an Escape.
I FOUND many more slaves at work in the stone quarry, than when I Page 70 quitted it; and the labours and hard fare seemed, if possible, to be augmented. The ease and comfort, with which I lived for some weeks past, had vitiated my appetite, softened my hands, and relaxed my whole frame, so that my coarse fare and rugged labours seemed more insupportable. I nauseated our homely food, and the skin peeled from my hands and shoulders. I made what inquiries I could, as to the interiour geography of the country, and comforted myself with theh ope of escape; conceiving it, under my desperate circum|stances, possible to penetrate unobserved the interiour country, by the eastern boundaries of the kingdom of Morocco, and then pass on south west, until I struck the river Sanaga, and coursing that to its mouth I knew would bring me to some of the European settlements near Goree or Cape Verd. Preparatory to my intend|ed escape I had procured an old goat's skin, which to make into something like a Page 71 knapsack, I deprived myself of many hours of necessary sleep; and of many a scanty meal to fill it with provisions. By the use of my Lingua Franca and a lit|tle Arabic, I hoped to obtain the assist|ance of the slaves and lower orders of the people, through whom I might journey. The only insurmountable difficulty in my projects was to elude the vigilance of our overseers. By a kind of roll call the slaves were numbered every night and morning, and at meal times: but, very fortunate|ly, a probable opportunity of escaping unnoticed soon offered. It was announced to the slaves that in three days time there would be a day of rest, a holiday, when they would be allowed to recreate them|selves in the fields. This intelligence diffused general joy. I received it with rapture. I doubled my diligence in my preparations; and, in the afternoon pre|vious to this fortunate day, I contrived to place my little stock of provisions under Page 72 a rock at a small distance from the quarry. At sunset we were all admitted to bathe, and I retired to my repose with bright hopes of freedom in my heart, which were suc|ceeded by the most pleasing dreams of my native land. That Beneficent Being, who brightens the slumbers of the wretched with rays of bliss, can alone express my raptures, when, in the visions of that night, I stepped lightly over a father's thresh|hold; was surrounded by congratulating friends and faithful domestics; was press|ed by the embraces of a father; and with holy joy felt a mother's tears moisten my cheek.
Early in the dawn of the morning, I was awakened by the congratulations of my fellows, who immediately collected in small groups, planning out the intended amusements of the day. Scarce had they portioned the little space alloted to ease, according their various inclinations, when an express order came from our Page 73 master that we should go under the im|mediate direction of our overseers, to a plain, about five miles distance, to be present at a publick spectacle. This was a grievous disappointment to them, and more especially to me. I buoyed up my spirits however with the hopes that, in the hurry and crowd, I might find means to escape, which, although I knew I could not return for my knapsack, I was resolved to attempt, having a little millet and two onions in my pocket.
The Author present at a Public Specta|cle.
WE were soon paraded and marched to the plain, to be amused with the promised spectacle, which, notwith|standing it might probably frustrate my attempts for freedom, I anticipated with a pleasing curiosity. When we arrived at the plain, we found, surrounding a spot, fenced in with a slight railing, a large concourse of people, among whom I could discern many groups of men, whose hab|its and sorrow indented faces shewed them to be of the same miserable order with us. In the midst of this spot there was a frame Page 75 erected, somewhat resembling the stage of our pillories; on the centre of which a pole or strong stake was erected, sharpened at the end and pointed with steel. While I was perplexing myself with the design of this apparatus, military music was heard at a distance; and soon after a strong party of guards approached the scaffold, and soon mounted upon the stage a mis|erable wretch, with all the agonies of de|spair in his countenance, who I learned from his sentence, proclaimed by a pub|lic crier, was to be impailed alive for at|tempting to escape from bondage. The consciousness that I had been, one mo|ment before, meditating the same act, for which this wretch was to suffer so cruel|ly, added to my feelings for a fellow crea|ture, excited so strong a sympathy for the devoted wretch, that I was near faint|ing.
I will not wound the sensibility of my humane fellow citizens, by a minute de|tail Page 76 of this fiend like punishment. Suf|fice it to say that, after they had stripped the sufferer naked, except a cloth around the loins, they inserted the iron pointed stake into the lower termination of the vertebrae, and thence forced it up near his back bone, until it appeared between his shoulders; with devilish ingenuity contriv|ing to avoid the vital parts. The stake was then raised into the air, and the suf|fering wretch exposed to the view of the assembly, writhing in all the contortions of insupportable agony. How long he lived, I cannot tell, I never gave but one look at him: one was enough to appal a New England heart. I laid my head on the rails, until we retired. It was now obvious,▪ it was designed by our master, that this horrid spectacle should operate upon us as a terrifying example. It had its full effect on me. I thought no more of attempting an escape; but, during our return, was miserably tor|mented Page 77 least my knapsack and provisions should be found and adduced against me, as evidence of my intent to desert. Hap|pily for me, I recovered them the next day, and no suspicions of my design were entertained
The Author feels that he is indeed a Slave.
I NOW found that I was in|deed a slave. My body had been en|thralled, but the dignity of a free mind remained; and the same insulted pride, which had impelled me to spurn the vil|lain slave driver, who first struck me a disgraceful blow, had often excited a sur|ly look of contempt upon my master, and the vile instruments of his oppression; but the terrour of the late execution, with Page 79 the unabating fatigue of my body, had so depressed my fortitude, that I trembled at the look of the overseer, and was meanly anxious to conciliate his favour, by at|tempting personal exertions beyond my ability. The trite story of the insurgent army of the slaves of ancient Rome, be|ing routed by the mere menaces and whips of their masters, which I ever scep|tically received, I now credit. A slave myself, I have learned to appreciate the blessings of freedom. May my country|men ever preserve and transmit to their posterity that liberty, which they have bled to obtain; and always bear it deep|ly engraven upon their memories, that, when men are once reduced to slavery, they can never resolve, much more achieve, any thing, that is manly, virtu|ous, or great.
Depression of spirits, consequent upon my blasted hope of escape, coarse fare, and constant fatigue reduced me to a mere Page 80 skeleton: while over exertion brought on an haemoptysis or expectoration of blood, and menaced an approaching hectic; and soon after, fainting under my bur|then, I was taken up and conveyed in a horse litter to the infirmary for slaves, in the city of Algiers.
HERE I was lodged comforta|bly, and had all the attention paid me, which good nurses and ignorant physi|cians could render. The former were men, who had made a vow of poverty, and whose profession was to attend the couches of the sick; the latter were more ignorant than those of my own country, who had amused me in the gayer days of life. They had no theory nor any system|atic practice; but it was immaterial to me. I had cast my last anxious thoughts upon Page 82 my dear native land, had blessed my af|fectionate parents, and was resigned to die.
One day as I was sunk upon my bed, after a violent fit of coughing, I was a|wakened from a doze, by a familiar voice, which accosted me in Latin. I opened my eyes and saw at my side, the Mol|lah, who attempted to destroy my faith. It immediately struck me that his purpose was to tempt me to apostatize in my last moments. The religion of my country was all I had left of the many blessings, I once enjoyed, in common with my fellow citizens. This rendered it doubly dear to me. Not that I was insensible of the excellence and verity of my faith; no. If I had been exposed to severer agonies than I suffered, and had been flattered with all the riches and honours, these infidels could bestow, I trust I should never have foregone that faith, which assured me for the mise|ries, I sustained in a cruel separation from Page 83 my parents, friends, and intolerable slave|ry, a rich compensation in that future world, where I should rejoin my beloved friends, and where sorrow, misery, or slavery, should never come. I judged uncandidly of the priest. He accosted me with the same gentleness, as when at the college, commiserated my deplorable situation, and, upon my expressing an a|version to talk upon religion, he assured me that he disdained taking any advan|tage of my weakness; nor would attempt to deprive me of the consolation of my faith, when he feared I had no time left to ground me in a better. He recom|mended me to the particular care of the religious, who attended the sick in the hos|pital; and, having learned in our former conferences that I was educated a phy|sician, he influenced his friend the direc|tor of the infirmary to purchase me, if I regained my health, and told him I would be serviceable, as a minor assistant. If Page 84 any man could have effected a change of my religion, it was this priest. I was charmed with the man, though I abom|inated his faith. His very smile exhiler|ated my spirits and infused health; and, when he repeated his visits, and communi|cated his plan of alleviating my distresses, the very idea, of being freed from the op|pressions of Abdel Melic, made an ex|change of slavery appear desirable. I was again attached to life, and requested him to procure a small quantity of the quinquina or jesuits bark. This excel|lent specific was unknown in the infirma|ry; but, as the Algerines are all fatalists, it is immaterial to the patient, who is his physician, and what he prescribes. By his kindness the bark was procured, and I made a decoction, as near to Huxham's, as the ingredients I could procure would admit, which I infused in wine; no bran|dy being allowed, even for the sick. In a few weeks, the diagnostics, were favoura|ble, Page 85 and I recovered my pristine health; and, soon after, the director of the hos|pital purchased me of my late master, and I was appointed to the care of the medi|cine room, with permission to go into the city for fresh supplies.
The Author's Practice as a Surgeon and Physician, in the City of Algiers.
MY circumstances were now so greatly ameliorated that, if I could have been assured of returning to my native country in a few years, I should have es|teemed them eligible. To observe the customs, habits, and manners of a people, of whom so much is said and so little known at home; and especially to notice the medical practice of a nation, whose ancestors have been spoken of with re|spect, in the annals of the healing art, was highly interesting.
Page 87 After a marked and assiduous atten|tion of some months to the duties of my office, I acquired the confidence of my superiours so far, that I was sometimes sent abroad in the city to examine a pa|tient, who had applied for admission into the infirmary; and sometimes the physi|cians themselves would condescend to consult me. Though they affected to despise my skill, I had often the gratifica|tion of observing that they administered my prescriptions with success.
In surgery they were arrant bunglers. Indeed, their pretensions to knowledge in this branch were so small that my superiour adroitness scarce occasioned envy. Ap|plications, vulgarly common in the Unit|ed States, were there viewed with admira|tion. The actual cautery was their only method of staunching an external hemor|rhage. The first amputation, I operated, drew all the principal physicians around me. Nothing could equal their surprize, Page 88 at the application of the spring tourni|quet, which I had assisted a workman to make for the occasion, except the taking up of the arteries. My friend the Mollah came to congratulate me on my success, and spread my reputation wherever he visited. A poor creature was brought to the hospital with a depressed fracture up|on the os frontis, sunk into a lethargy, and died. I proposed trepanning, but found those useful instruments unknown in this country. By the care of the di|rector, I had a set made under my direc|tion; but, after having performed upon a dead, I never could persuade the Alge|rine faculty to permit me to opperate up|on a living subject. What was more a|musing, they pretended to improve the aid of philosophy against me, and talked of the weight of a column of air press|ing upon the dura mater, which, they said, would cause instant death. Of all follies the foppery of learning is the most Page 89 insupportable. Professional ignorance and obstinacy were not all I had to con|tend with. Religious prejudice was a constant impediment to my success. The bigotry of the Mahometan differs essen|tially from that of the Roman catholic. The former is a passive, the latter an ac|tive principle. The papist will burn infidels and heretics; the Mussulman never torments the unbeliever, but is more tenaciously attached to his own creed, makes his faith a principle in life, and never suffers doubt to disturb, or reason to overthrow it. I verily believe that, if the alcoran had declared, that the earth was an immense plain and stood still, while the sun performed its revolution round it, a whole host of Gallileos, with a Newton at their head, could not have shaken their opinion, though aided by all the demonstrative powers of experiment|al philosophy.
I was invited by one of the faculty to Page 90 inspect the eyes of a child, which had lost its sight about three years; I proposed couching, and operated on the right eye with success. This child was the only son of an opulent Algerine, who, being inform|ed that an infidel had restored his son to sight, refused to let me operate on the other, protesting that, if he had known that the operator was an unbeliever, his son should have remained blind, until he opened his eyes upon the Houri of para|dise. He sent me however a present of money, and offered to make my fortune, if I would abjure the christian faith and embrace Ismaelism, which, he said, he believed, I should one day do: as he thought that God never would have de|creed that I should restore his son to sight, if he had not also decreed that I should be a true believer.
FRAGMENT OF ANCIENT POETRY.
Visits a sick Lady.
MY reputation increased, and I was called the learned slave; and, soon after, sent for to visit a sick lady. This was very agreeable to me; for, during my whole captivity, I had never yet seen the face of a woman; even the female chil|dren being carefully concealed, at least Page 92 from the sight of the vulgar. I now an|ticipated much satisfaction from this visit, and hoped that, through the confi|dence, with which a tender and success|ful physician seldom fails to inspire his patient, I should be able to acquire much useful information upon subjects of do|mestic concern, impervious to travellers. Preparatory to this visit, I had received a new and better suit of clothes than I had worn, as a present from the father of the young lady. A gilt waggon came to the gate of the hospital, which I entered with our principal physician, and was drawn by mules to a country house, a|bout five miles from the city, where I was received by Hadgi Mulladin, the fa|ther of my patient, with great civility. Real gentlemen are the same in all coun|tries. He treated us with fruit and sher|bet; and, smiling upon me, after he had presented a bowl of sherbet to the princi|pal physician, he handed me another Page 93 bowl, which to my surprise I found fill|ed with an excellent Greek wine, and archly inquired of me how I liked the sherbet. Hadgi Mulladin had travel|led in his youth, and was supposed to have imbibed the libertine principles of the christian, as it respected wine. This was the only instance, which came to my knowledge, of any professed Mussulman indulging himself with wine or any strong liquor; and it was not unnoticed by the principal physician, who afterwards grave|ly told me that Hadgi Mulladin would be undoubtedly damned for drinking wine; would be condemned to perpetual thirst in the next world, while the black spirit would present him with red hot cups of scalding wine. Exhilirated by the wine and the comparitively free manners of this Algerine, I was anxious to see my patient. I was soon gratified. Being in|troduced into a large room, I was left a|lone nigh an hour. A side door was Page 94 then opened, and two eunuchs came for|ward with much solemnity and made signs for me to retire to the farthest part of the room, as if I had been infested with some malignant disorder. They were, in about ten minutes, followed by four more of the same sex, bearing a species of couch, close covered with double curtains of silk, which they set down in the midst of the room; and every one drew a broad scimitar from his belt, flourishing it in the air, inclined it over his shoulder, and stood guard at every corner of the couch, While I was wondering at this parade, the two first eunuchs retired and soon re|turned; the one bearing an ewer or bason of water, the other a low marble stand, and some napkins in a China dish. I was then directed to wash my feet; and, an|other bason being produced, it was signi|fied that I must wash my hands, which I did three times. A large thick muslin veil was then thrown over my head, I was Page 95 led towards the couch, and was pre|sented with a pulse glass, being a long glass tube graduated and terminated be|low with a hollow bulb, and filled with some liquid, which rose and fell like spir|its in the thermometer. This instrument was inserted through the curtains, and the bulb applied to the pulse of my patient, and the other extremity put un|der my veil. By this I was to form my opinion of her disorder, and prescribe a remedy; for I was not allowed to ask any questions or even to speak to, much more see the lady, who was soon reconveyed to her apartment. The two first eunuchs now marched in the rear, and closed and fastened the doors carefully after them. After waiting alone two hours or more, I was called to give my advice; and never was I more puzzled. To confess igno|rance would have ruined my reputation, and reputation was then life itself. The temptations to quackery were powerful Page 96 and overcame me. I boldly pronounced her disease to be an intermittent fever, prescribed venesection, and exhibited some common febrifuge, with directions to throw in the bark, when the fever ceased. My prescriptions were attended with ad|mirable success; and, if I had conformed to their faith, beyond a doubt, I might have acquired immense riches. But I was a slave, and all my gains were the property of my master. I must do him the justice to say that, he permitted me to keep any particular presents, that were made to me. Frequent applications were made to the director for my advice and assistance to the diseased; and, though he received generally my fee, yet it was sufficiently gratifiying to me to be permit|ted to walk abroad, to amuse myself, and obtain information of this extraordinary people, as much of which, as the prescrib|ed limits of this little work will admit, I shall now lay before my readers.
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.
AUTHOR'S Manuscript Poems.
Description of the City of Algiers.
I CANNOT give so particular a description of this city, as I could wish, or my readers may desire. Perhaps no town contains so many places impervious to strangers. The interiour of the Dey's palace, and the female apartment of every house are secluded even from the natives. No one approaches them but their respec|tive masters, while no stranger is permitted to inspect the fortifications; and the mosques, or churches, are scrupulously guarded from the polluted steps of the un|believer. A poor slave, branded as an infi|del, Page 118 would obtain only general information from a residence in the midst of them.
Algiers is situated in the bay of that name, and built upon the sea shore, an eminence, which rises above it, and which naturally gave the distinction of the up|per and lower city. Towards the sea, it is strengthened with vast fortifications, which are continued upon the mole, which secures the port from storms and assaults. I never perambulated it, but should judge that, a line drawn from the west arm of the mole, and extended by land, until it terminated on the east, com|prehending the buildings, would measure about two miles. It contains one hun|dred and twenty mosques, two hundred and twenty public baths, and innumera|ble coffee houses. The mosques are large stone buildings, not lofty in propor|tion to their extent on the ground, and have usually erected, upon their corners, small square towers or minarets, whence Page 119 the inferiour priests call the people to prayers. The baths are convenient buildings, lighted on the top, provided with cold and warm waters, which you mingle at your pleasure, in small marble cisterns, by the assistance of brass cocks. Every bather pays two rials at his en|trance, for which he is accommodated with a dressing room, contiguous to the bathing cistern, towels, flesh brushes, and other conveniences, a glass of sherbet, and an assistant, if he chooses. The coffee houses or rooms are generally piazzas, with an opening over them, projecting from the front of the houses into the streets. Here the inhabitants delight to loll, to drink sherbet, sip coffee, and chew opium, or smoak tobacco, steeped in a decoction of this exhilarating drug.
I have already sketched a description of the houses, and shall only add, that the roofs are nearly flat with a small declivity to cast the rain water into spouts. Al|giers Page 120 is tolerably well supplied with spring water, conveyed in pipes from the back country; but the Algerines, who are im|moderately attached to bathing, prefer rain water, as best adapted to that use, considering it a luxury in comparison with that, obtained from the springs or sea.
The inhabitants say, Algiers contains twenty thousand houses, one hundred and forty thousand believers, twenty two thousand Jews, and six thousand christian slaves. I suspect, Algerine vani|ty has exaggerated the truth; but I can|not contradict it. Immediately before the census of the inhabitants of the Unit|ed States, I am told, persons, who possess|ed much better means of calculation, mis|rated the population of the principal towns most egregiously.
The Government of the Algerines.
IT has been noticed that Hay|raddin Barbarossa, in the beginning of the sixteenth century, rendered his kingdom tributary to the Grand Seignior; and that, in the year one thousand six hundred and twenty three, the Algerines threw off their dependence on the sublime Porte. Since that time, the Turkish court have made several attempts to reduce the Al|gerines to their subjection; and, by sid|ing with the numerous pretenders to the regency, so common in this unstable gov|ernment, they have, at times, apparently effected their design: while the Alge|rines, by assassinating or dethroning those Page 122 princes, whose weakness or wants have in|duced them to submit to extraneous power, have reduced their dependence on the sub|lime Porte to a mere name. At present, the Grand Seignior, fearful of losing the very shadow of authority, he has over them, contents himself with receiving a tribute al|most nominal; consisting chiefly of a present, towards defraying the expenses of the annual canopy, which is sent to a|dorn the prophet's tomb at Medina: while, on the other hand, the Algerines, dread|ing the Grand Seignior's interference in their popular commotions, allow the sub|lime Porte to confirm the election of their Dey, and to badge his name, by affixing and terminating it with those of the prin|cipal officers of the Turkish government. Hence the present Dey, whose real name is Hassan, is styled Vizier, which is also the appellation of the Grand Seignior's first minister. As Bashaw, which ter|minates the Dey's name, is the Turkish Page 123 title of their viceroys and principal com|manders, he makes war or peace, negoti|ates treaties, coins money, and performs every other act of absolute independence.
Nor is the Dey less independent of his own subjects. Though he obtains his office frequently by the election of a fu|rious soldiery, and wades to the regency through the blood of his predecessor; yet he is no sooner invested with the insignia of office, than, an implicit reverence is paid to his commands, even by his fero|cious electors; and, though he often summons his divan or council of great of|ficers, yet they are merely advisory. He conducts foreign affairs, at his own good pleasure; and, as to internal, he knows no restraint, except from certain local cus|toms, opinions, and tenets, which he himself venerates, in common with his meanest subjects. Justice is administered in his name. He even determines controver|sies in his own person, besides being sup|posed Page 124 virtually present in the persons of his cadis or judges. If he inclines to in|terfere in the determination of a suit, upon his approach, the authority of the cadis cease, and is merged in that of the Dey. Some customs have been intimated, which restrain the Dey's despotism. These re|late principally to religion, property, and females. He will not condemn a priest to death; and, although up|on the decease of a subject, his landed property immediately escheats to the reigning Dey, yet he never seizes it, in the life of the possessor; and, when a man is executed for the highest crime, the females of his family are treated with respect; nay, even in an insurrection of the sol|diery, when they murdered their Dey, neither they nor his successour violat|ed the female apartments of the slain. A mere love of novelty in the soldiery, the wish to share the largesses of a new sovereign, the policy of his courtiers, Page 125 the ambition or popularity of his officers or children, have not unfrequently caus|ed the dethroning of the Dey; but the more systematic cause of his being so frequently dethroned shall be noticed in our next chapter.
THE Dey's revenue is stated by writers at seven hundred thousand dollars per annum. If the limits of this work would permit, I think I could prove it under rated, from a view of his expenditures. It arises from a slight tax up|on his subjects, a tribute from some Moors and tribes of Arabs, in the interiour country; a capitation tax upon the Jews; prizes taken at sea; presents from foreign powers, as the price of peace; annual sub|sidies from those nations, with whom he is in alliance; and customary presents made by his courtiers on his birth day, Page 127 To these may be added sums, squeezed from his Bashaws in the government of the interiour provinces, and from the Jews, as the price of their protection. With these supplies he has to support the mag|nificene of his court, defray the expense of foreign embassies, pay his army, supply his navy, and repair his fortifications; and, by frequent gratuities, if he is not ve|ry successful and popular, support his in|terest among those, who have the power to dethrone him. His proportion of the prizes, captured at sea, and the concilia|tory presents, made by the commercial powers, are the principal sources of his revenue. It is obviously the policy of the Dey, by frequently enfringing his treaties, to augment his finances, by new captures or fresh premiums for his friendship. A pacific Dey is sure not to reign long; for, beside the disgust of the formidable body of sailors, who are emulous of employ, when the reigning Dey has once gone Page 128 through the routine of seizing the vessels, receiving the presents, and concluding treaties with the usual foreign powers, he finds that the annual payments, secured by treaties, are insufficient for the main|tenance of his necessary expenditures; and is therefore constrained frequently to declare war as a principle of self pres|ervation. I have been told, the present Dey condescended to explain these prin|ciples to an American agent in Algiers, and grounded his capturing the Ameri|can shipping upon this necessity. I must, said the Dey, be at war with some nation, and yours must have its turn. When the Dey, from a pacific disposition or dread of foreign power, is at peace with the world, the disgusted sailor and avaricious soldier join to dethrone him; having established it, as a maxim, that all treaties expire with the reigning Dey, and must be renewed with his successour. This is undoubredly the Page 129 true source whence spring those fre|quent and dreadful convulsions, in the regency of Algiers.
AUTHOR'S Manuscript Poems.
The Dey's Forces.
THERE are but few vessels actually belonging to the Dey's navy. He has many marine officers, who rank in the sea service; but, except on great expeditions, are permitted to command the gallies of private adventurers; and it is these picaroons, that make such dread|ful depredations on commerce. I can give but a slender account of his land forces. Those in established pay are said to amount to about eight thousand foot, and two thousand Moorish horse. To Page 131 these may be added four thousand inhab|itants of the city, who enrol themselves as soldiers, for protection in military tu|mults, receive no pay, but are liable to be called upon to man the fortifications in emergency, insurrection, or invasion. Perhaps there are more of this species in the provinces. The horse are cantoned in the country round the city, and do du|ty by detachments at the palace. Three thousand foot are stationed in the fortifi|cations, and marshalled as the Dey's guards. The residue of the land forces are distributed among the Bashaws to o|verawe the provinces. But the princi|pal reliance, in case of invasion, is the vast bodies of what may be styled mili|tia, which the Bashaws, in case of emer|gency, lead from the interiour country.
AUTHOR'S Manuscript Poems.
Notices of the Habits, Customs, &c. of the Algerines.
THE men wear next to their bodies a linen shirt, or rather chemise, and drawers of the same texture. Over their shirt a linen or silk gown, which is girded about their loins by a sash, in the choice of which they exhibit much fancy. In this dress their legs and lower extrem|ity of their arms are bare. As an outer garment, a loose coat of coarser materials is thrown over the whole. They wear turbans, which are long pieces of muslin Page 133 or silk curiously folded, so as to form a cap comfortable and ornamental. Slip|pers are usually worn, though the sol|diers are provided with a sort of buskin, resembling our half boots. The dress of the women, I am told, for I never had the pleasure of inspecting it very critical|ly, resembles that of the men, except that their drawers are longer, and their out side garment is like our old fashioned riding hoods. When the ladies walk the streets, they are muffled with bandages or hand|kerchiefs of muslin or silk over their faces, which conceals all but their eyes; and, if too nearly inspected, will let fall a large vail, which conceals them intirely. The men u|sually set cross legged upon mattresses, laid upon low seats at the sides of the room. They loll on cushions at their meals; and, after their repasts, occasionally indulge with a short slumber. I have such a lauda|ble attachment to the customs of my own country, that I doubt whether I can Page 134 judge candidly of their cookery or mode of eating. The former would be unpal|atable and the latter disgusting to most A|mericans; for saffron is their common seasoning. They cook their provisions to rags or pap, and eat it with their fin|gers, though the better sort use spoons. Their diversions consist in associating in the coffee houses, in the city, and, in the country, under groves, where they smoke and chat, and drink cooling not inebri|ating liquors. Their more active amuse|ments are riding and throwing the dart, at both which they are very expert. They sometimes play at chess and drafts, but never at games of chance or for mon|ey; those being expressly forbidden by the alcoran.
HOR. Epis ii.
Done into English Metre.
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.
AUTHOR'S Manuscript Poems.
The Religion of the Algerines: Life of the Prophet Mahomet.
IN describing the religious ten|ets of the Algerines, the attention is im|mediately drawn to Mahomet or Ma|homed, the founder of their faith.
This fortunate impostor, like all other great characters in the drama of life, has been indignantly vilified by his oppo|nents, and as ardently praised by his ad|herents. I shall endeavour to steer the middle course of impartiality; neither influenced by the biggoted aversion of Page 142 Sales and Prideaux, or the specious praise of the philosophic Boulanvilliers.
Mahomet was born in the five hun|dred and sixty ninth year of the christian era. He was descended from the Coreis, one of the noblest of the Arabian tribes. His father, Abdalla, was a man of moder|ate fortune, and bestowed upon his son such an education as a parent in confined, if not impoverished circumstances, could confer. The Turks say, he could not write; because they pride themselves in decrying letters, and because the pious among them suppose his ignorance of let|ters a sufficient evidence of the divine o|riginal of the book, he published, as re|ceived from and written by the finger of Deity.
But when the Arabian authors record, that he was employed as a factor by his un|cle Abutileb, there can little doubt remain but that he was possessed of all the litera|ry acquirements, necessary to accomplish Page 143 him for his business. He has been stig|matized as a mere camel driver. He had the direction of camels it is true. The merchandize of Arabia was trans|ported to different regions by carri|vans of these useful animals, of a troop of which he was conductor; but there was as much difference between his station and employment, and that of a common camel driver, as between the supercargo of an India ship in our days, and the seaman before the mast. In his capacity of factor, he travelled into Syr|ia, Palestine, and Egypt; and acquired the most useful knowledge in each coun|try. He is represented as a man of a beautiful person, and commanding pres|ence. By his engaging manners and re|markable attention to business, he became the factor of a rich Arabian merchant, after whose death he married his widow, the beautiful Cadija, and came into the lawful possession of immense wealth, which Page 144 awakened in him the most unbounded ambition. By the venerable custom of his nation, his political career was con|fined to his own tribe; and, the patri|archal being the prominent feature of the Arabian government, he could not hope to surmount the claims of elder families, even in his own tribe, the genealogies of which were accurately preserved. To be the founder and prophet of a new re|ligion would secure a glorious preemi|nence, highly gratifying to his ambition, and not thwarting the pretensions of the tribes.
Mankind are apt to impute the most profound abilities to sounders of religious systems, and other fortunate adventurers, when perhaps they owe their success more to a fortunate coincidence of circum|stances, and their only merit is the sa|gacity to avail themselves of that tide in the affairs of men, which leads to wealth and honour. Perhaps there never was a Page 145 conjuncture more favourable for the in|troduction of a new religion than that, of which Mahomet availed himself. He was surrounded by Arian christians, whose darling creed is the unity of the Deity, and who had been persecuted by the Athenasians into an abhorrence of almost every other christian tenet: by Jews, who had fled from the vindictive Emperour Adrian, and who, too willful|ly blind to see the accomplishment of their prophecies in the person of our Sa|viour, in the midst of exile were ready to contemn those prophecies, which had so long deluded them with a Messiah, who nev|er came: and by Pagans, whose belief in a plurality of gods made them the ready proselytes of any novel system; and the more wise of whom were disgusted with the gross adsurdities of their own mythol|ogy. The system of Mahomet is said to have been calculated to attach all these. To gratify the Arian and the Jew, he Page 146 maintained the unity of God; and, to please the Pagans, he adopted many of their external rites, as fastings, washings, &c;. Certain it is, he spoke of Moses and the patriarchs, as messengers from heaven, and that he declared Jesus Christ to be the true Messias, and the exemplary pat|tern of a good life, a sentiment critically expressing the Arian opinion. The sto|ries of Mahomet's having retired to a cave with a monk and a Jew to compile his book; and falling into fits of the epi|lepsy, persuading his disciples that these sits were trances in order to propagate his system more effectually, so often related by geography compilers, like the tales of Pope Joan and the nag's head consecra|tion of the English bishops, are fit only to amuse the vulgar. It is certain, he seclud|ed himself from company and assumed an austerity of manners, becoming the reformer of a vicious world. In his re|tirement, he commenced writing the al|coran. Page 147 His first proselytes were of his own family, the next, of his near rela|tives. But the tribe of Corei were so fa|miliar with the person and life of Maho|met that they despised his pretensions; and, fearful lest what they styled his mad enthusiasm should bring a stigma upon their tribe, they first attempted to reason him out of his supposed delusion; and, this failing, they sought to destroy him. But a special messenger of heaven, who, Mahomet says, measured ten million fur|longs at every step, informed him of their design, and he fled to Medina, the inhab|itants of which, being already prepossessed in favour of his doctrine, received him with great respect. *
Page 148 He soon inspired them with the most implicit confidence in the divinity of his mission, and confirmed their faith by dai|ly portions of the alcoran, which he de|clared was written by the finger of God, and transmitted to him immediately from heaven by archangels, commissioned for that important purpose. He declared himself the Sent of God, the sword of his almighty power, commissioned to enforce the unity of the divine essence, the unchangea|bleness of his eternal decrees, the future bliss of true believers, and the torment of the damned, among the nations. He boldly pronounced all those who died fighting in his cause, to be entitled to the glory of martyrs in the heavenly paradise; and, availing himself of some of the an|tient seuds among the neighbouring tribes, caused his disciples in Medina to wage war upon their neighbours, and they invariably conquered, when he headed their troops. The tribe of Corei Page 149 flattered by the honours, paid their kins|man, and confounded by the repeated reports of his victories, were soon prose|lyted, and become afterwards the most enthusiastic supporters of his power. In six hundred and twenty seven, he was crowned sovereign at Medina, like the divine Malchisedec uniting in his person the high titles of prophet and king. He subdued the greater part of Arabia, and obtained a respectable footing in Syria. He died at Medina in the year six hun|dred and thirty three, and in the sixty fourth year of his age. European writ|ers, who have destroyed almost as many great personages by poison as the French have with the guillotine, have attributed his death to a dose administered by a monk. But when we consider his ad|vanced age and public energies, we need not recur to any but natural means for the cause of his death.
AUTHOR'S Manuscript Poems.
The Sects of Omar and Ali.
UPON the decease of the prophet, his followers were almost con|founded. They could scarce credit their senses. They fancied him only in a swoon, and waited in respectful silence until he should again arise to lead them to conquest and glory. His more con|fidential friends gathered around the corpse; and, being impressed with the policy of immediately announcing his successour, they held a fierce debate upon the subject. In the alcoran, they found no direction for the election, nor any suc|cessour to the caliphate pointed out. Page 151 They agreed to send for his wives and confidential domestics. The youngest of his wives produced some writings, containing the precious sayings of the prophet, which, she said, she had collect|ed for her own edification. To these were afterwards added such observations of the prophet, as his more intimate associ|ates could recollect, or the policy of those in power invent. These were annexed to the alcoran, and esteemed of equal au|thority. This compilation was called the book of the companions of the apos|tle. In the writings, produced by his fa|vourite wife, the prophet had directed his great officers to elect his successour from among them, and assured them that a portion of his own power would rest up|on him. Abubeker, a friend and relative, and successful leader of the forces of the Prophet, by the persuasions of those a|round, immediately entered the public mosque; and, standing on the steps of Page 152 the desk, from which the prophet used to deliver his oracles, he informed the mul|titude that God had indeed called the prophet to paradise, and that his kingly authority and apostolic powers rested up|on him. To him succeeded Omar and Osman: while the troops in Syria, con|ceiving that Ali, their leader, was better entitled to succeed than either, elevated him also to the caliphate, though he refus|ed the dignity until he was called by the voice of the people to succeed Osman. Hence sprang that great schism, which has divided the Mussulman world; but, though divided, as to the successour of the prophet, both parties were actuated by his principles and adhered to his creed. Omar and his successours turned their arms towards Europe; and, under the name of Saracens or Moors, possessed themselves of the greater part of Spain and the Mediterranean isles: while the friends of Ali, establishing themselves as Page 153 sovereigns, made equal ravages upon Persia, and even to the great peninsula of India.
The Algerines are of the sect of Omar, which, like many other religious schisms, differs more in name, than in any funda|mental point of creed or practice from that of Ali. The propriety of the trans|lation of the alcoran into the Persian lan|guage, and the succession of the caliphate seem the great standards of their respec|tive creeds.
The Faith of the Algerines.
THE Algerine doctors assert, that the language of the alcoran is so in|effably pure, it can never be rendered into any other tongue. To this they candidly impute the miserable, vitiated translations of the christians, who they charge with having garbled the sacred book, and degraded its sublime alegories and metaphors into absurd tales. This is certain, the portions, I have heard chanted at funerals and quoted in con|versation, ever exhibited the purest mo|rality Page 155 and the sublimest conceptions of the Deity. The fundamental doctrine of the alcoran is the unity of God. The evil spirit, says the koran, is subtly deluding men, into the belief that there are more gods than one, that in the confusion of deities he may obtain a share of devo|tion; while the Supreme Being, pitying the delusions of man, has sent Abraham, Moses, Soliman, breathed forth the Mes|sias of the christian in sigh of divine pity, and lastly sent Mahomet, the seal of the prophets, to reclaim men to this es|sential truth. The next fundamental points in the Mussulman creed are a be|lief in the eternal decrees of God, in a resurrection and final judgment to bliss or misery. Some hold with christians that the future punishment will be infinite, while others suppose that, when the souls of the wicked are purified by fire, they will be received into the favour of God. They adhere to many other points of Page 156 practical duty: such as daily prayers, fre|quent ablutions, acts of charity and severe fastings; that of rhammadin, is the principal, which is similar to the catholic lent, in abstin|ence, for the penitent abstains only from a particular kind of food, while he gluts himself with others perhaps more lus|cious. The alcoran also forbids games of chance, and the use of strong liquors; inculcates a tenderness for idiots, and a respect for age. The book of the com|panions of the apostle enjoins a pilgrim|age to his tomb, to be made by the true believers once at least in their lives: but though they view the authority, which enjoined this tedious journey divine, yet they have contrived to evade its rigour by allowing the believer to perform it by proxy or attorney.
Upon the whole, there does not appear to be any articles in their faith, which in|cite them to immorality or can counte|nance the cruelties, they commit. Neither Page 157 their alcoran nor their priests excite them to plunder, inslave or torment. The former expressly recommends charity, justice, and mercy towards their fellow men. I would not bring the sacred vol|ume of our faith in any comparative view with the alcoran of Mahomet; but I cannot help noticing it as extraordinary, that the Mahometan should abominate the christian on account of his faith, and the christian detest the Mussulman for his creed; when the koran of the former acknowledges the divinity of the christian Messias, and the bible of the latter com|mands us to love our enemies. If each would follow the obvious dictates of his own scripture, he would cease to hate, abominate, and destroy the other.
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.
An Algerine Law Suit.
AN officer of police parades the city at uncertain hours, and in all di|rections, accompanied by an executioner and other attendants. The process of his court is entirely verbal. He examines into all breaches of the customs, all frauds, especially in weights and measures, all sudden affrays, disputes concerning per|sonal property, and compels the perfor|mance of contracts. He determines causes on the spot, and the delinquent is punished in his presence. The usual punishments, he inflicts, are fines, beating on the soles of the feet, dismemberment Page 166 of the right hand; and, it is said, he has a power of taking life; but, in such case, an appeal lies to the Dey. If complaint is made to him of the military, the priests or officers of the court navy, or customs, or against persons attached to the families of the consuls, envoys, or other represen|tatives of foreign powers, upon suggestion, the cause is immediately reported to the Dey, who hears the same in person, or deputes some officer of rank to determine it, either from the civil, military, or re|ligious orders, as the nature of the cause may require. In fact, this officer of pol|ice seldom judges any cause of great im|portance. The object of his commission seems to be the detection and punish|ment of common cheats, and to suppress broils among the vulgar; and, as he has the power to adapt the punishment to the enormity of the offence, he often exer|cises it capriciously, and, sometimes, ludi|crously. I saw a baker, who, for selling Page 167 bread under weight, was sentenced to walk the public market, three times each day, for three days in succession, with a small loaf, attached by a ring to each of his ears; and to cry aloud at short distances "bread for the poor." This excited the resentment of the rabble, who follow|ed him with abundance of coarse ridicule. Besides this itinerant judge, there are many others, who never meddle with suits, unless they are brought formally before them, which is done by mere ver|bal complaint; they send for the parties and witnesses, and determine almost as summarily as the officer of police. I confess that, when I left the United States, the golden fee, the lengthy bill of cost, the law's delay, and the writings of Hones|tus, had taught me to view the judicial proceedings of our country with a jaun|diced eye; and, when I was made ac|quainted with the Algerine mode of dis|tributive justice, I yearned to see a cause Page 168 determined in a court, where instant de|cision relieved the anxiety, and saved the purses of the parties; and where no long winded attorney was suffered to perplex the judge with subtle argument or musty precedent. I was soon delighted with an excellent display of summary justice. Observing a collection of people upon a piazza, I leaned over the rails, and dis|covered that an Algerine cadi or judge had just opened his court. The cadi was seated cross legged on a cushion with a slave, with a whip and batten on one side; and another with a drawn scimitar on the other. The plaintiff came forward and told his story. He charged a man, who was in custody, with having sold him a mule, which he said was sound, but which prov|ed blind and lame. Several witnesses were then called, who proved the con|tract and the defects of the mule. The defendant was then called upon for his defence. He did not deny the fact, but Page 169 pleaded the law of retaliation. He said, he was a good Mussulman, performed all the rites of their holy religion, had sent a proxy to the prophet's tomb at Medina, and maintained an idiot; that he never cheated any man before, but was justified in what he had done, for, ten years before, the plaintiff had cheated him worse in the sale of a dromedary, which proved broken winded. He proved this by sev|eral witnesses, and the plaintiff could not deny it. The judge immediately order|ed the mule and the money paid for it to be produced. He then directed his at|tendants to seize the defendant, and give him fifty blows on the soles of his feet for this fraud. The plaintiff at every stroke applauded the cadi's justice to the skies; but, no sooner was the punishment inflicted, than, by a nod from the judge, the exulting plaintiff was seized and re|ceived the same number of blows with the batten for the old affair of the broken Page 170 winded dromedary. The parties were then dismissed, without costs, and the judge ordered an officer to take the mule, sell it at publick outcry, and distribute the product, with the money deposited, in alms to the poor. The officer proceeded a few steps with the mule, and, I thought, the court had risen, when the cadi sup|posing one of the witnesses had prevari|cated in his testimony called back the of|ficer, who had charge of the mule, order|ed the witness to receive twenty five blows of the batten, and be mounted on the back of the mule, with his face to|wards the tail, and be thus carried through the city, directing the mule to be stopped at every corner, where the culprit should exclaim; "before the en|lightened, excellent, just, and merciful cadi Mir Karchan, in the trial of Osman Beker and Abu Isoul, I spoke as I ride." The people around magnified Mir Kar|chan for this exemplary justice; and I Page 171 present it to my fellow citizens. If it is generally pleasing, it may be easily intro|duced among us. Some obstinate peo|ple may be still attached to our customary modes of dispensing justice, and think that the advocates we fee, and the prece|dents they quote, are but guards and en|closures round our judges, to prevent them from capriciously invading the rights of the citizens.
A Mahometan Sermon.
I ONCE had an opportunity of approaching unnoticed the window of one of the principal mosques. After the customary prayers, the priest pronounced the following discourse with a dignified elocution. It was received by his audi|ence with a reverence, better becoming christians than infidels. It undoubtedly suffers from translation and the fickleness of my memory; but the manner, in which it was delivered, and the energy of many of the expressions made so strong an im|pression, that I think I have not material|ly Page 173 varied from the sentiment. I present it to the candid reader, as a curious speci|men of their pulpit eloquence; and as, perhaps, conveying a more satisfactory idea of their creed, than I have already attempted, in the account I have given of their religion. The attributes of Deity were the subject of the priest's discourse; and, after some exordium, he elevated his voice and exclaimed:
GOD ALONE IS IMMORTAL. Ibra|ham and Soliman have slept with their fathers, Cadijah the first born of faith, Ayisha the beloved, Omar the meek, Omri the benevolent, the companions of the apostle and the Sent of God himself, all died. But God most high, most holy, liveth forever. Infinities are to him, as the numerals of arithmetic to the sons of Adam; the earth shall vanish be|fore the decrees of his eternal destiny; but he liveth and reigneth forever.
Page 174 GOD ALONE IS OMNISCIENT. Mi|chael, whose wings are full of eyes, is blind before him, the dark night is unto him as the rays of the morning; for he noticeth the creeping of the small pismire in the dark night, upon the black stone, and apprehendeth the motion of an atom in the open air.
GOD ALONE IS OMNIPRESENT. He toucheth the immensity of space, as a point. He moveth in the depths of o|cean, and mount Atlas is hidden by the sole of his foot. He breatheth fragrant odours to cheer the blessed in paradise, and enliveneth the pallid flame in the pro|foundest hell.
GOD ALONE IS OMNIPOTENT. He thought, and worlds were created; he frowneth, and they dissolve into thin smoke; he smileth, and the torments of the damned are suspended. The thun|derings Page 175 of Hermon are the whisperings of his voice; the rustling of his attire causeth lightning and an earthquake; and with the shadow of his garment he blot|teth out the sun.
GOD ALONE IS MERCIFUL. When he forged his immutable decrees on the anvil of eternal wisdom, he tempered the miseries of the race of Ismael in the foun|tains of pity. When he laid the founda|tions of the world he cast a look of be|nevolence into the abysses of futurity; and the adamantine pillars of eternal jus|tice were softened by the beamings of his eyes. He dropt a tear upon the embryo miseries of unborn man; and that tear, falling through the immeasurable lapses of time, shall quench the glowing flames of the bottomless pit. He sent his prophet into the world to enlighten the darkness of the tribes; and hath prepared the pa|vilions of the Houri for the repose of the true believers.
Page 176 GOD ALONE IS JUST. He chains the latent cause to the distant event; and binds them both immutably fast to the fitness of things. He decreed the unbe|liever to wander amidst the whirlwinds of errour; and suited his soul to future tor|ment. He promulgated the ineffable creed, and the germs of countless souls of believ|ers, which existed in the contemplation of Deity, expanded at the sound. His justice refresheth the faithful, while the damned spirits confess it in despair.
GOD ALONE IS ONE. Ibraham the faithful knew it. Moses declared it a|midst the thunderings of Sinai. Jesus pronounced; it and the messenger of God, the sword of his vengeance, filled the world with immutable truth.
Surely there is one God, IMMORTAL, OMNICIENT, OMNIPRESENT, OMNIPO|TENT, most MERCIFUL, and JUST; and Mahomet is his apostle.
Page 177 Lift your hands to the eternal, and pronounce the ineffable, adorable creed: THERE IS ONE GOD, AND MAHOMET IS HIS PROPHET.
Of the Jews.
I HAVE thus given some succinct notices of the history, government, relig|ion, habits, and manners of this ferocious race. I have interspersed reflections, which, I hope, will be received by the learned with candour; and shall now re|sume the thread of my more appropriate narrative.
By unremitted attention to the du|ties of my office and some fortunate operations in surgery, I had now so far ingratiated myself with the director and physicians of the infirmary, that I was al|lowed to be absent any hours of the day, when my business in the hospital permit|ted, without rendering any especial reason Page 179 for my absence. I wandered into all parts of the city, where strangers were permitted to walk, inspected every object I could, without giving umbrage. I some|times strayed into that quarter of the city, principally inhabited by Jews. This cun|ning race, since their dispersion by Ves|pasian and Titus, have contrived to compensate themselves for the loss of Pa|lestine, "by engrossing the wealth, and ten the luxuries of every other land; and, wearied with the expectation of that heavenly king," who shall repossess them of the holy city, and put their enemies be|neath their feet, now solace themselves with a Messiah, whose glory is enshrined in their coffers. Rigidly attached to their own customs, intermarrying among themselves, content to be apparently wretched and despised, that they may wal|low in secret wealth; and secluded, in most countries, from holding landed prop|erty, and in almost all from filling offic|es Page 180 of power and profit, they are gener|ally received as meet instruments to do the mean drudgery of despotic courts. The wealth, which would render a sub|ject too powerful, the despot can trust with an unambitious Jew; and confide secrets, which involve his own safety to a miserable Israelite. whom he can annihi|late with a nod. The Jews transact al|most all the Dey's private business, be|sides that of the negotiations of merchants. Nay, if an envoy from a foreign power comes to treat with the Dey, he may have the parade of a public audience; but, if he wishes to accomplish his embassy, he must employ a Jew: and, it is said, the Dey himself shares with the Jew the very sums paid him for his influence with this politic despot. The Jews are also the spies of the Dey, upon his subjects at home, and the channels of intelligence from foreign powers. They are there|fore allowed to assemble in their syna|gogues; Page 181 and have frequently an influence at the court of the Dey, with his great officers, and even before the civil judge, not to be accounted for from the morality of their conduct. Popular prejudice is generally against them; and the Dey of|ten avails himself of it by heavy amerce|ments for his protection. In the year one thousand six hundred and ninety, he threatened to extirpate the whole race in his dominions, and was final|ly appeased by a large contribution they raised and offered as an expiation of a supposed offence. It was commonly reported, that the Jews in Algiers, at that time, had procured a christian child, which they privately purified with much ceremony, fattened and prepared for a sac|rifice, at their feast of the passover, as a substitute for the paschal lamb. This horrid tale, which should have been de|spised for its absurdity and inhumanity, the Dey affected to credit. He ap|pointed Page 182 several Mahometan priests to search the habitations of the Jews, imme|diately before the feast of the passover, who, discovering some bitter herbs and other customary preparations for the fes|tival, affected to have found sufficient evidence against them; and the mob of Algiers, mad with rage and perhaps in|flamed by the usurious exactions of par|ticular Jews, rushed on furiously to pillage and destroy the wretched descendants of Jacob. Two houses were demolished, and several Jews assassinated before the arrival of the Dey's guards, who quickly dispersed this outrageous rabble. The Dey, who desired nothing less than the destruction of so useful a people, was soon appeased by a large present, and declared them innocent: and, such is the power of despotic governments, that the Jews were soon received into general fa|vour; and the very men, who, the day Page 183 before, proceeded to destroy the whole race, now saw, with tame inaction, sev|eral of their fellows executed for the at|tempt.
The arrival of other American Captives.
RETURNING from a jaunt into the city, I was immediately com|manded to retire to my room, and not to quit it, till further orders, which it was impracticable to do, as the doors were fas|tened upon me. The next morning my provisions were brought me, and the doors again carefully secured. Surprised at this imprisonment, I passed many rest|less hours in recurring to my past con|duct, and perplexing myself in searching for some inadvertent offence, or in dread|ful apprehension, lest the present impris|onment should be a prelude to future and Page 185 more severe punishment. The stone quar|ry came to my imagination in all its hor|rours, and the frowns of Abdel Melic again pierced my soul. I attempted in vain to obtain from the slave, who brought me provisions, the cause of my confinement. He was probably ignorant; my solici|tations were uniformly answered by a melancholy shake of the head. The next day, the director of the hospital ap|peared. To him I applied with great earnestness; but all the information he would give was, that it was by the Dey's order I was confined; and that he, with the physicians and my friend the Mollah were using all their influence to obtain my release. He counselled me to amuse myself in preparing and compound|ing drugs, and promised to see me again, as soon as he could bring any good news. About a week after, an officer of the court, with a city judge, entered my apartment, and informed me of the cause of my im|prisonment. Page 186 From them I learned, that several American vessels had been cap|tured; and, it was suspected, I had been conversing with my countrymen; and, from my superiour knowledge of the coun|try, I might advise them how to escape. If a man is desirous to know how he loves his country, let him go far from home; if to know how he loves his countrymen, let him be with them in misery in a strange land. I wish not to make a vain display of my patriotism, but I will say, that my own misfortunes, upon this intelligence, were so absorbed in those of my unfortunate fel|low citizens, thus delivered over to chains and torment, many of them perhaps sep|arated from the tenderest domestic con|nexions and homes of case, that, I thought, I could again have willingly en|dured the lashes of the slave driver, and sink myself beneath the burthens of slave|ry, to have saved them from an Algerine captivity. I could readily assure the Page 187 Dey's officers, that I had not conversed with my miserable countrymen; but, while I spake, the idea of embracing a fellow citizen, a brother christian, per|haps some one, who came from the same state, or had been in the same town, or seen my dear parents, passed in rapid suc|cession, and I was determined, betide what would, to seek them the first opportunity. We were soon joined by the Mollah, who repeatedly assured my examiners, that, though an infidel, I might be believed. By his solicitation, I was to be released; but not until I would bind myself by a solemn oath, administered after the chris|tian manner, that I would never speak to any of the American slaves. When this oath was proposed, I doubted whether to take it; but, recollecting that, if I did not, I should be equally debarred from seeing them, and suffer a grievous con|finement, which could do them no ser|vice, I consented and bound myself never Page 188 directly or indirectly to attempt to visit or converse with my fellow citizens in sla|very. It was, at the same time, intimat|ed to me, that for the breach of this oath I might expect to be impaled alive.—Often, when I have drawn near the places of their confinement and labours, I have regretted my submitting to this oath, and once was almost tempted to break it, at seeing Captain O'Brien at some distance.
The Author commences Acquaintance with Adonah Ben Benjamin, a Jew.
AFTER I had taken this oath, the officers departed, and I was liberated. I was now more cautious in my rambles, avoided the notice of the Mussulmen in|habitants, and made more frequent vis|its to that part of the city, inhabited by Jews and foreigners. Refreshing myself with a glass of sherbet in an inferiour room, I was accosted by an old man, in mean attire, with a pack of handkerchiefs and some remnants of silk and muslins on his back. He asked me, if I was not the learned slave, and requested me to visit a sick son. I immediately resolved Page 190 to go with him; rejoicing that Providence, in my low estate, had left me the power to be charitable. We traversed several streets and stopped at the door of a house, which, in appearance, well suited my conductor. It had but two windows towards the street, and those were closed up with rough boards, the cracks of which were stuffed with rags and straw. My conductor looked very cautiously about, and then, taking a key from his pocket, opened the door. We passed a dark en|try, and, I confess, I shuddered, as the door closed upon me, reflecting that, per|haps, this man was employed to decoy me to some secret place, in order to assas|sinate me, by the direction of my supe|riours, who might wish to destroy me in this secret manner. But I had but little time for these gloomy reflections; for, opening another door, I was startled with a blaze of light, let into apartments splen|didly furnished. My conductor now as|sumed Page 191 an air of importance, requested me to repose myself on a silken couch, and retired. A young lady, who was veiled, of a graceful person and pleasing address, soon brought a plate of sweet|meats and a bottle of excellent wine. The old man soon reappeared; but, so changed in his habit and appearance, I could scarce recognize him. He was now arrayed in drawers of the finest lin|en, an embroidered vest, and loose gown of the richest Persian silk. He smiled at my surprise, shook me by the hand, and told me that he was a Jew; assuring me, that he was with his brethren under the protection of the Dey. The outward appearance of his house, and the mean|ness of his attire abroad were, he said, ne|cessary to avoid envy and suspicion. But come, said he, I know all about you; I can confide in you. Come refresh yourself with a glass of this wine;—nei|ther Moses nor your Messiah forbid the Page 192 use of it. We ate of the collation, drank our wine liberally; and then he in|troduced me to his son, whom I found labouring under a violent ague. I ad|ministered some sudorifics, and left direc|tion for the future treatment of my pa|tient. Upon my departure, the Jew put a zequin into my hand, and made me promise to visit his son again; request|ing me to seat myself in the place, he had found me, at the same hour, the next day but one afterwards; and, in passing through the dark entry, conjured me not to mention his domestic style of living. The name of this Jew was Adonah Ben Benjamin. I visited his son, according to appointment, and found him nearly re|stored to health. The father and son both expressed great gratitude; but the former told me he would not pay me for this visit in silver or gold, but with some|thing more valuable, by his advice. Come and see me sometimes; I know Page 193 this people well, and may render you more service than you expect. I after|wards visited this Jew frequently, and from him obtained much information. He told me, in much confidence, that soon after I was taken, a Jew and two Algerines made a tour of the United States, and sent home an accurate account of the American commerce; and that the Dey was so impressed with the idea of our wealth, that he would never permit the American slaves to be ransomed under a large premium, which must be accom|panied with the usual presents, as a pur|chase of peace, and an annual tribute. Expressing my anxiety to recover my freedom, he advised me to write to some of the American agents in Europe. I accordingly addressed a letter to William Carmichael, Esq charge des affairs from the United States at the court of Mad|rid, representing my deplorable circum|stances, and the miserable estate of my Page 194 fellow prisoners; praying the inter|ference of our government, stating the probable mode of access to the Dey, and enclosing a letter to my parents. This my friend, the Jew, promised to convey; but, as I never received any answer from Mr. Carmichael, and my letters never found the way to my friends, I conclude, from the known humanity of that gen|tleman, my letters miscarried.
Some time after, I heard that the Unit|ed States had made application, through Mr. I amb, for the redemption of their citizens, and I had hopes of liberty; in|tending, if that gentleman succeeded in his negotiations, to claim my right to be ransomed, as an American citizen, but his proposals were scouted with con|tempt. I have sometimes heard this gentleman censured for failing to accom|plish the object of his mission, but very unjustly; as I well remember that I, who was much interested in his success, never Page 195 blamed him at the time; and, I know, the ransom, he offered the Dey, was rid|iculed in the common coffee houses, as extremely pitiful. The few Algerines, I conversed with, affected to represent it as insulting. It was reported, that he was empowered to offer only two hun|dred dollars per head for each prisoner indiscriminately, when the common price was four thousand dollars per head for a captain of a vessel, and one thousand four hundred for a common fore mast sailor. When this unsuccessful attempt failed, the prisoners were treated with greater severity; doubtless with a design to af|fright the Americans into terms, more advantageous to the Dey.
Finding my hopes of release from the applications of my country to fade, I consulted the friendly Jew, who advised me to endeavour to pay my own ransom, which, he said, might be effected with my savings from my practice by the media|tion Page 196 of a rich Jew, his relation. I ac|cordingly put all my savings into Adonah Ben Benjamin's hands, which amounted to two hundred and eighty dollars, and resolved to add to it all I could procure. To this intent I hoarded up all I could obtain; denying myself the slender re|freshments of bathing and cooling liq|uors, to which I had been for some time accustomed. The benevolent Hebrew promising that, when I had attained the sum requisite, within two or three hun|dred dollars, he himself would advance the remainder, no miser was ever more engaged than I to increase my store. After a tedious interval, my prospects brightened surprisingly. Some fortunate operations, I performed, obtained me valuable presents; one to the amount of fifty dollars. My stock, in the Jew's hands, had increased to nine hundred dollars; and, to add to my good fortune, the Jew told me, in great confidence, that, Page 197 from the pleasing account of the United States, which I had given him, for I al|ways spake of the privileges of my native land with fervour, he was determined to remove with his family thither. He said he would make up the deficiency in my ransom, and send me home by the first European vessel, with letters to a Mr. Lopez, a Jew, who, he said, lived in Rhode Island or Massachusetts, to whom he had a recommendation from a relation, who had been in America. To Mr. Lo|pez he intended to consign his property. He accordingly procured his friend, whose name I did not then learn, to agree about my ransom. He concluded the contract at two thousand dollars. My friends in the hospital expressed sorrow at parting with me; and making me some pecunia|ry presents, I immediately added them to my stock, in the hands of the Jew. In order to lessen the price of my ransom, the contractor had told my master that Page 198 he was to advance the money, and take my word to remit it, upon my return to my friends. This story I confirmed. I went to the Jew's house, who honestly produced all my savings; we counted them together, and he added the remain|der, tying the money up in two large bags, We spent a happy hour, over a bottle of his best wine: I, in anticipating the pleas|ure my parents and friends, would receive in recovering their son, who was lost, and the Jew in framing plans of commerce in the United States, and in the enjoyment of his riches in a country, where no des|pot should force from him his honest gains; and, what added to my enjoyment, was the information that a vessel was to sail for Gibraitar in two days, in which, he assured me, he would procure me a passage. I returned to the hospital, ex|ulting in my happy prospects. I was quite beside myself with joy. I capered and danced as merrily, as my youthful ac|quaintance Page 199 at a husking. Sometimes I would be lost in thought, and then burst suddenly into loud laughter. The next day towards evening, I hasted to the house of my friend the Jew, to see if he had en|gaged my passage, and to gratify myself with conversing upon my native land. Being intimate in the family, I was en|trusted with a key of the front door. I opened it hastily, and passing the entry, knocked for admittance at the inner door, which was soon opened. But, instead of the accustomed splendour, all was gloo|my; the windows darkened, and the fam|ily in tears. Poor Adonah Ben Benja|min had, that morning, been struck with an apoplexy, and slept with his fathers. I soon retired as sincere a mourner as the nearest kindred. I had indeed more rea|son to mourn than I conceived; for, up|on applying to his son for his assistance in perfecting my freedom, which his good fa|ther had so happily begun, he professed Page 200 the utmost ignorance of the whole tranf|action; declared that he did not know the name of the agent, his father had employ|ed, and gave no credit to my account of the monies I had lodged with his father. I described the bags. He cooly answer|ed, that the God of his father Abraham had blessed his father Adonah with many such bags. I left him, distracted with my disappointment. Sometimes I deter|mined to relate the whole story to the di|rector of the hospital, and apply for legal redress to a cadi; but the specimen I had of an Algerine law suit deterred me. I had been so inadvertent, as to counte|nance the story that a Jew was to advance the whole sum for me. If I had been a Mussulman, I might have attested to my story; but a slave is never admitted as an evidence in Algiers, the West Indies, or the Southern States. The disappoint|ment of my hopes were soon known in the hospital, though the hand Adonah Page 201 Ben Benjamin had in the contract re|mained a secret. The artful Jew, who had contracted for my ransom, fearing he should have to advance the money him|self, spread a report that I was immensely rich in my own country. This coming to the ears of my master, he raised my ransom to six thousand dollars, which the wily Israelite declining to pay, the con|tract was dissolved. From my master I learned his name, and waited upon him, hoping to obtain some evidence of Ado|nah's having received my money, at least so far as to induce his son to restore it. But the Jew positively declared that Adonah never told him other, than that he was to advance the cash himself. Thus, from the brightest hopes of freedom, I was re|duced to despair; my money lost; and my ransom raised. I bless a merciful God that I was preserved from the des|perate folly of suicide. I never attempt|ed my life; but, when I lay down, I oft|en Page 202 hoped that I might never awake again, in this world of misery. I grew dejected and my flesh wasted. The physicians recommended a journey into the country, which my master approved; for, since the report of my wealth in my native land, he viewed my life as valuable to him, as he doubted not my friends would one day ransom me at an exorbitant premium.
The Author, by Permission of his Master, travels to Medina, the burial Place of the Prophet Mahomet.
THE director soon after pro|posed, that I should attend some mer|chants, as a surgeon in a voyage and journey to Medina, the burial, and Mec|ca the birth, place of the prophet Ma|homet; assuring me, that I should be treated with respect, and indeed find some agreeable companions on the tour, as sev|eral of the merchants were infidels, like myself, and that any monies I might ac|quire, by itinerant practice, should be my own. I accepted this proposal with pleas|ure, Page 204 and was soon leased to two Mussul|man merchants, who gave a kind of bond for my safe return to my master. I had cash advanced me to purchase medicines, and a case of surgeon's instruments, which I was directed to slow in a large leather wallet. I took a kind leave of my pat|rons in the hospital, who bestowed ma|ny little presents of sweetmeats, dates, and oranges. I waited upon the good Mollah, who presented me with fifty dol|lars. I have charity to believe that this man, though an apostate, was sincere in his faith in the Mahometan creed. He pressed my hand at parting, gave me ma|ny salutary cautions, as to my conduct during the voyage; and said, while the tears started in his eyes, my friend, you have suffered much misfortune and mis|ery in a short life; let me conjure you not to add the torments of the future to the miseries of the present world. But, added he, pausing, who shall alter the de|crees Page 205 of God? I flatter myself, that the scales of natal prejudice will yet fall from your eyes, and that your name was numbered among the faithful from all eternity.
Our company consisted of two Alge|rine merchants, or factors, twenty pilgrims, nine Jews, among whom was the son of my deceased friend Adonah, and two Greek traders from Chios, who carried with them several bales of silks and a quantity of mastic, to vend at Scanda|roon, Grand Cairo and Medina. We took passage in a Xebec; and, coast|ing the African shore, soon passed the ru|ins of antient Carthage, the Bay of Tu|nis; and, weathering cape Bona, and steering south easterly, one morning hove in sight of the Island of Malta, inhabited by the knights of that name, who are sworn enemies of the Mahometan faith. I could perceive, that the sight of this island gave a sensible alarm to the crew Page 206 and passengers. But the captain, or rather skipper, who was a blustering, rough renegado, affected great courage and swore that, if he had but one can|non on board, he would run down and give a broad side to the infidel dogs. His bravery was soon put to the test; for, as the sun arose, we could discern plainly an armed vessel bearing down upon us. She overhauled us fast, and our skipper conjectured she bore the Maltese colours. All hands were now summoned to get out some light sails, and several oars were put out, at which the brave skipper tugged as lustily as the meanest of us. When the wind lulled and we gained of the ves|sel, he would run upon the quarters of the Xebec, and hollow; "Come on, you christian dogs, I am ready for you," I have some doubts, whether the vessel ever noticed us. If she did, she despised us; for she tacked and stood to the south west. This was no sooner perceived by Page 207 our gallant commander, than he ordered the Xebec to lay too, and swore, that he would pursue the uncircumcised dogs, and board them; but he first would pru|dently ask the approbation of the passen|gers, who instantly determined one and all that their business was such, that they must insist upon the captain's making his best way to port. The captain consent|ed, but not without much grumbling at his misfortune, in losing so fine a prize; and declared that, when he landed his passengers, he would directly quit the port and renew the chase. After a smart run, we dropt anchor in the port of Alex|andria, called by the Turks Scandaroon. This is the site of the antient Alex|andria, founded by Alexander the great; though its present appearance would not induce an opinion of so magnificent a founder. It lies not far from the wester|most branch of the river Nile, by which, in ancient day, it was supplied with wa|ter. Page 208 The antiquarian eye may possibly observe, in the scattered fragments of rocks, the vestiges of the ruins of its an|tient grandeur; but a vulgar traveller, from the appearance of the harbour, chok|ed with sand, the miserable buildings, and more wretched inhabitants of the town, would not be led to conclude that this was the port, which rose triumphant on the ruins of Tyre and Carthage. We here hired camels; and, being joined by a number of pilgrims and traders, collect|ed from various parts of the Levant, we proceeded towards Grand Cairo, the pres|ent capital of Egypt; and, after travel|ling three days, or rather three nights, for we generally reposed in the heat of the day, which is severe from one hour after the sun's rising until it sets, we came to a pretty town on the west bank of the Nile, called Gize, and hence passed over on rafts to the city of Grand Cairo, called by the Turks Almizer; the suburbs of which Page 209 extend to the river, but the principal town commences its proper boundaries, at about three miles east of the Nile. I was now within a comparatively short distance of two magnificent curiosities, I had ever been desirous of beholding. The city of Jerusalem was only about five day's journey to the south east, and I had even caught a glimpse of the pyra|mids near Gize. I went with my mas|ters and others to see a deep stoned pit, in the castle, called Joseph's well; and said to have been dug by the direction of that patriarch. I am not antiquarian enough to know the particular style of Joseph's well archite|cture; but the water was sweet and extremely cold. The Turks say that Potiphar's wife did not cease to persecute Joseph with her love, after he was released from prison, and advanced to power; but the patriarch, being warned by a dream to dig this well, and invite her to drink of the water, which she had no Page 210 sooner done, but one cup of it so effectu|ally cooled her desires, that she was ever afterwards an eminent example of the most frigid chastity. In Grand Cairo, we were joined by many pilgrims from Palestine, and the adjacent countries. The third day, our carivan, which con|sisted of three hundred camels and drom|edaries, set out for Medina, under the convoy of a troop of Mamaleuk's guards, a tawny, raw boned, ill clothed people. Some of the merchants, and even pilgrims made a handsome appearance in person, dress, and equipage. I was myself well mounted upon a camel, and carried with me only my leather wallet of drugs, which I dispensed freely among the pilgrims; my masters receiving the ordinary pay, while I collected many small sums, which the gratitude of my patients added to the usual fee. We passed near the north arm of the red sea, and then pursued our journey south, until we struck the same Page 211 arm again, near the place where the learned Wortley Montague has con|cluded the Israelites, under the conduct of Moses, effected their passage. The breadth of the sea here is great, and the waters deep and turbulent. The infidel may sneer, if he chooses; but, for my own part, I am convinced beyond a doubt, that, if the Israelites passed in this place, it must have been by the miraculous in|terposition of a divine power. I could not refrain from reflecting upon the in|fatuated temerity, which impelled the E|gygtian king to follow them. Well does the Latin poet exclaim; Quem Deus vult perdere, prius dementat. We then travelled east, until we came to a small village, called Tadah. Here we filled many goat skins with water, and laded our camels with them. In addition to my wallet, I received two goat skins or bags of water upon my camel. The weight, this useful animal will carry, is Page 212 astonishing; and the facility and promp|titude, with which he kneels to receive his rider and burthen, surprising. We now entered the confines of Arabia Petrea, very aptly denominated the rocky Ara|bia; for, journeying south east, we passed over many ridges of mountains, which appeared of solid rocks, while the vallies and plains between them were almost a quicksand. Not a tree, shrub, or vegeta|ble is to be seen. In these vallies, the sun poured intolerable day, and its re|flections from the land were insupport|able. No refreshing breeze is here felt. The intelligent traveller often fears the rising of the wind, which blows such sultry gales, that man and beast oft|en sink beneath them, "never to rise again" or, when agitated into a tempest drive the sand with such tumultuous vio|lence, as to overwhelm whole caravans. Such indeed were the stories told me, as I passed these dreary plains. The only Page 213 inconvenience, I sustained, arose from the intense heat of the sun, and the chills of the night, which our thin garments were not calculated to exclude. On the third day, after we left Tadah, the water, which we transported on our camels, was nearly expended. These extraordinary animals had not drank but once, since our departure. Near the middle of the fourth day, I observed our camels snuff the air, and soon set off in a brisk trot, and just before night brought us to wa|ter. This was contained in only one deep well, dug, like a reversed pyramid, with steps, to descend on every side, to the depth of one hundred feet; yet the sagacity of the camel had discovered this water at perhaps twenty miles distance. So my fellow travellers asserted; but I have since thought, whether these camels, from frequently passing this desert coun|try, did not discover their approach to water, rather from the eye, noting familiar Page 214 objects, than the actual scenting the water itself. A horse that has journeyed the whole day, will quicken his step at night, when, upon a familiar road, within some miles of an accustomed stable. Our es|cort delighted in the marvellous. Many a dreadful story did they tell of pois|onous winds and overwhelming sands; and of the fierce wandering Arabs, who captured whole caravans, and eat their prisoners. Many a bloody battle had they fought with this cruel banditti, in which, according to their narratives, they always came off conquerours. Fre|quently were we alarmed, to be in read|iness to combat their savage free booters; though I never saw but two of the wild Arabs, in the whole of our journey. They joined us at a little village, east of Islamboul, and accosted us with great ci|vility. They were dressed in blue frocks, girded round the waste with particolour|ed sashes, in which were stuck a pistol Page 215 and a long knife. Their legs were bare, and sheepskin caps covered their heads. Their complexions were sallow, but their garments and persons were clean. In|deed, their dress and address evinced them to be of a more civilized race than our guards, who affected to treat them with lofty hauteur; and, when they departed, assured us that they were spies, and that an attack from their countrymen might now be apprehended with certainly; if, said the leader of our escort, they are not ter|rified by finding you under our protec|tion.
The Author is blessed with the Sight and Touch of a most holy Mahometan Saint.
WHEN we were within one day's journey of Medina, we halted for a longer time than usual; occasioned, as I found, by the arrival of a most holy saint. As I had never seen a saint, be|ing bred, in a land, where even the re|lics of these holy men are not preserved, for I believe all New England cannot produce so much as a saint's rotten tooth or toe nail, I was solicitous to see and converse with this blessed personage. I soon discovered him, in the midst of a|bout fifty pilgrims, some of whom were devoutly touching their foreheads with Page 217 the hem of his garment, while others, still more devout, prostrated themselves on the ground, and kissed the prints of his footsteps in the sand. Though I was as|sured, that he was filled with divine love, and conferred felicity on all, who touched him; yet, to outward appearance, he was the most disgusting, contemptible object, I had ever seen. Figure to yourselves, my readers, a little decrepit, old man, made shorter by stooping, with a counte|nance, which exhibited a vacant stare, his head bald, his finger and toe nails as long as hawks' claws, his attire squalid, his face, neck, arms, and legs begrimed with dirt and swarming with vermin, and you will have some faint idea of this Mussulman saint. As I was too reasonable to expect that holiness existed in a man's exteriour, I waited to hear him speak; anticipating, from his lips, the profoundest wisdom, delivered in the honied accents of the saints in bliss. At length he spake; and Page 218 his speech betrayed him, a mere idiot. While this astonished me, it raised the respect of his admirers, who estimated his sanctity in an inverse ratio to the weak|ness of his intellects. If they could have ascertained, that he was born an idiot, I verily believe, they would have adored him; for the Mahometans are taught by their alcoran, that the souls of saints are often lodged in the bodies of idiots; and these pious souls, being so intent on the joys of paradise, is the true reason, that the actions of their bodies are so little suited to the manners of this world. This saint however did not aspire to the sanctity of a genuine idiot; though, I fancy, his modesty injured his prefer|ment, for he certainly had very fair pre|tensions. It was resolved, that the holy man should go with us; and, to my great mortification and disgust, he was mount|ed behind me on the same camel; my Mahometan friends probably conceiving, Page 219 that he would so far communicate his sanctity by contact, as that it might affect my conversion to their faith. Whatever were their motives, in the embraces of this nausseous being, with the people prostrat|ing themselves in reverence on each side, I made my entry into the city of Medina.
EDWARDS on Religious Affections.
The Author visits the City of Medina: Description of the Prophet's Tomb, and principal Mosque.
MEDINA Tadlardh, errone|ously called Medina Talmabi, is situated in Arabia Deserta, about forty five miles east from the borders of the red sea. To this place, as has been before related, the prophet sled, when driven from Mecca his birth place; and here he was buried, and his remains still are preserved, in a silver cussin, ornamented with a golden crescent, enriched with jewels, covered with cloth of gold, supported upon silver tassels, and shadowed by a canopy, embroidered with Page 221 silk and gold thread upon silver tissue. This canopy is renewed annually, by the bashaw of Egypt; though other bashaws, and great men among the Turks, often assist in the expense, or augment the value of the yearly present, by silver lamps and other ornaments. The whole are con|tained in a magnificent mosque, in which are suspended innumerable gold and sil|ver lamps, some of which are kept contin|ually burning, and all are lighted on cer|tain public occasions; and even upon the approach of some dignified pilgrim. I had not acquired sufficient holiness, from my blessed companion, to be permitted to enter this sanctified building. The Ara|bians are profusely extravagant, in the ti|tles they bestow on the city of Medina; calling it the most holy, most renowned, most excellent city; the sanctuary of the blessed fugitive; model of the refulgent city in the celestial paradise; and some of the great vulgar suppose, that when Page 222 the world shall be destroyed, this city, with the prophet's remains, will be trans|ported by angels, with all its inhabitants, to paradise. We tarried there but a few hours, as the great object of the devotions of the pilgrims was Mecca. Pilgrim|ages are performed to both places; but those to Medina are not indispensably necessary; being directed by the book of the companions of the apostles, while those to Mecca are enjoined by the alco|ran itself. The former are supposed meritorious, the latter necessary to salva|tion. I had the curiosity to inquire re|specting the prophet's cossin being sus|pended in the air by a load stone, and was assured that this was a mere christian obloquy, as no pretensions of any such suspension were ever made.
The Author visits Mecca: Description of the Al Kaaba, or House of God.
BEING freed from my blessed companion, I had an agreeable journey from Medina to Mecca, which is the most antient city in all Arabia; situated about two hundred miles south east of Medina, twenty one degrees and forty five minutes north latitude, and one hundred and sixteen degrees east longitude, from Philadelphia, according to late American calculations. I saw the great mosque in the centre of Mec|ca, which it is said, far surpasses in grandeur that of Sancta Sophia in Constantinople. It certainly is a very august building, the roof of which is refulgent; but even the Page 224 inhabitants smiled at my credulity, when I observed that I had read it was covered with plated gold. This mosque contains within its limits the grand object of the Mussulman's pilgrimage; the Al Kaaba, or house of God, said to have been built by the hands of the patriarch Abraham; to confirm which the Arabian priests shew a black stone, upon which they say Abraham laid his son Isaac, when he had bound him in preparation for his intend|ed sacrifice. This stone and building were great objects of veneration, before the mission of the prophet, and he artfully availed himself of this popular prejudice, in rendering the highest respect to the holy house, in his life time, and enjoin|ing upon his followers, without distinc|tion among males, to visit it once in their lives. The advent of the prophet was said to be announced from the four cor|ners of the house, which exhibit the four cardinal points. Few pilgrims are per|mitted Page 225 to enter this sacred, venerable building; but, after travelling, some of them perhaps a thousand miles, they are content to prostrate themselves in the courts, which surround it. Few Mahom|etans perform this pilgrimage in person; those who do are highly respected. This pilgrimage was enjoined, by the prophet, to be performed in person; but, when he laid this injunction, it is not probable he anticipated the extensive spread of his doctrines. So long as his disciples were limited by the boundaries of Arabia, or had only extended them|selves over a part of Syria, this pious journey was practicable and easy; but, when the crescent rose triumphant on the sea coast, and most of the interiour of Af|rica, when it shone with splendour in Persia, Tartary, and Turkey, and even adorned the Moorish minarit in Spain, actual pilgrimage was deemed impractica|ble; and the faithful were allowed to Page 226 visit the Kaaba by deputy. The inge|nuity of more modern times has alleviated this religious burthen still further, by al|lowing the deputy to substitute other at|tornies under him. Thus for example: the pious Mussulman in Belgrade will employ a friend at Constantinople, who will empower another friend at Scanda|roon to procure a confidential friend at Grand Cairo to go in the name of him at Belgrade, and perform his pilgrimage to Mecca. Certificates of these several sub|stitutions are preserved, and the lazy Mussulman hopes by this finesse to reap the rewards of the faithful in paradise.
AUTHOR'S Manuscript Poems.
The Author returns to Scandaroon: Finds Adonah's Son sick: His Contrition: Is restored to Health.
AFTER tarrying sixteen days at Mecca, during which time my masters fasted, prayed, performed their devotions at the Kaaba, and sold their merchandize, we retraced the same rout to Scandaroon. Here we found the son of Adonah Ben Benjamin, who had been detained in this place by sickness, so weakened from a tedious slow fever that his life was despair|ed of. He expressed great joy, at our re|turn, Page 228 and begged my professional assistance; assuring me, that he esteemed his present disorder a judicial punishment from the God of his fathers, for the injury he had done me; candidly confessing, that he knew of his father's having received my money, which he would restore upon our return to Algiers, if I would effect his re|covery. He prevailed upon my masters that I should abide in the house with him, during their absence, as they were engaged upon a trading tour to a place called Ginge, upon the river Nile. I exerted all my skill, both as a physi|cian and nurse. Perhaps my atten|tion in the latter capacity, assisted by his youth, was of more service than my pre|scriptions. Be that as it may, he recov|ered rapidly, and in ten days was able to walk the streets; but I could not help noticing with sorrow, that as his strength increased, his gratitude and promises to refund my money decreased.
The Gratitude of a Jew.
ONE day, walking on the beach, the Jew looked me steadily in the face; and, laying his hand upon my shoul|der, said I owe you my life, I owe you money, which you cannot oblige me to pay. You think, a Jew will always de|ceive in money matters. You are mistak|en. You shall not wait for your pay in Algiers; I will pay you here in Alexan|dria. I owe you one thousand dollars on my father's account. Now, what do you demand for restoring me to health? Nothing replied I, overjoyed at his prob|ity; restore me my money, and you are welcome to my services. This must not Page 230 be, said the son of Adonah, I have done wickedly, but mean not only to pay you, but satisfy my own conscience. I will allow you in addition to the one thousand dollars, two thousand more for your assist|ance, as a physician; and then will ad|vance three thousand more, which I will take your word to repay me, when you are able. I was astonished. I seized his hand and felt his pulse, to discover if he was not delirious. His pulse were regu|lar, and I knew his ability to perform his promise. We will meet here on the morrow, and I will pay you. I met him the next day, and he was not ready to make payment. I now began to doubt his promises, and blame myself for the de|lusions of hope. By his appointment I met him the third day, on a retired part of the beach, westward from the port. We now saw a man approaching us. That man, said the Jew, will pay you. You well understand, my friend, that your Page 231 ransom is fixed at six thousand dollars. Now, whoever gives you your liberty, really pays you that sum. I have engag|ed the person, who is approaching, and who is the master of a small vessel, to transport you to Gibraltar, whence you may find your way home. The man now joined us and confirmed the words of the Jew, for whom he professed a great friend|ship. It was concluded, that I should come to that spot immediately after dark, where I should find a small boat waiting to carry me on board the vessel. The master of the vessel declaring, that he run a great risk, in assisting in my escape; but was willing to do it out of commisera|tion for me, and friendship for the Jew; and reminded me, that I had better pack up all my property, and bring it with me. I hastened home with the Jew, and collect|ed all the property I could with propriety call my own; which consisted of a few clothes, and to the amount of three hun|dred Page 232 and twenty dollars in cash. As soon as it was dark, the Jew accompanied me to the beach, and then took an affection|ate leave of me, presenting me with the value of ten dollars, as a loan, gravely re|marking, that now I owed him three thou|sand and ten dollars, which he hoped I would transport to him as soon as I arriv|ed in America. The Jew quitted me, and I soon discovered the approach of the boat, which I slept into with a light heart, congratulating myself, that I was a|gain A FREE MAN. The boat soon row|ed along side of a vessel, that was laying to for us. I jumped on board, and was directly seized by two men, who bound me and hurried me below deck; and, af|ter robbing me of all my property, left me in the dark to my own reflections. I had been so long the sport of cruel fortune, that these were not so severe, as my sym|pathising readers may conjecture. Re|peated misfortunes blunt sensibility. I Page 233 perceived that I had been played a vil|lanous trick, and exchanged a tolerable slavery, for one perhaps more insupporta|ble; but should have been perfectly re|signed to my fate, if the dread of being returned to Algiers and suffering the dreadful punishment, already related, had not presented itself. In the morning, I requested to see the captain; and, by his orders, was brought upon deck; to my surprise, it was not the same person who had decoyed me on board. I was con|founded. I intended to have expostu|lated; but could I tell a stranger, a man, who appeared a Mussulman by his garb, that I was a runaway slave? While I was perplexing myself what to say, the man, who had decoyed me on board, appeared. He was a passenger, and claimed me as his slave, having purchased me, as he said, for four hundred zequins of a Jew, my for|mer master, and meant to carry me with him to Tunis. I was now awakened to Page 234 all the horrours of my situation. I dar|ed not irritate my new master by contra|dictions, and acquiesced in his story in dumb despair. On the eighth day, after we departed from Scandaroon, the vessel made cape Bona, and expected soon to anchor in the port of Tunis. My master had a Portuguese slave on board, who slept in the birth with me. He spoke a little broken English, having been for|merly a sailor on board a vessel of that nation. He gave me the most alarming apprehensions of the cruelty of our mas|ter, but flattered me by saying that the Tunise in general were more mild with their slaves than the Algerines, and allow|ed a freer intercourse with the European merchants; and, by their interference, we might obtain our liberty. While my fellow slave slept, I lay agonizing with the dread of entering the port of Tunis. Often did I wish that some friendly rock or kindly leak would sink me, and my Page 235 misfortunes, in perpetual oblivion; and I was nigh being gratified in my despe|rate wishes; for, the same night, a tre|mendous storm arose, and the gale struck us with such violence, that our sails were instantly flittered into rags. We could not shew a yard of canvass, and were o|bliged to scud under bare poles. The night was excessively dark; and, to in|crease our distress, our ballast shifted and we were obliged to cut away our masts by the board, to save us from foundering. The vessel righted, but being strong and light, and the hatchways being well se|cured, our captain was only fearful of being driven on some christian coast. The next night, the wind lulled; and the morning after, the sun arose clear, and we found ourselves off the coast of Sar|dinia, and within gun shot of an armed vessel. She proved to be a Portuguese frigate. To the confusion and dismay of our captain and passenger, and to the great Page 236 joy of myself and fellow slave. The frig|ate hoisted her colours, manned her boats, and boarded us. No sooner was his na|tional flag displayed, than the overjoyed Portuguese ran below and liberated me from my fetters, hugged me in raptures, and hauling me upon deck, the first man we met was our master, whom he saluted with a kick, and then spit in his face. I must confess that this reverse of fortune made me feel for the wretched Mussul|man, who stood quivering with apprehen|sions of instant death; nor could I refrain from preventing the Portuguese from a|venging himself for the cruelties, he had suffered, under this barbarian. The boats soon boarded us, and secured the cap|tain and crew, whom they treated with as much bitter contempt, as my fellow had exercised toward our late master. This poor fellow soon introduced me to his countrymen, with a brief account of my country and misfortunes.
THE Portuguese officers treat|ed me with politeness; and, when they were rifling the vessel, requested me to select my property from the plunder. I was then sent on board the frigate. The captain expressed much joy, at being the means of my deliverance, and told me, that the Portuguese had a sincere regard for the Americans; and that he had re|ceived express orders to protect our com|merce from the Barbary corsairs. The prisoners were brought on board and confined below; and, after every thing valuable was taken from the prize, the ship stood for the straits of Gibraltar, Page 238 leaving a boat to fire the Tunise vessel. I never received more civility than from the officers of this frigate. In compliment to them, I was obliged to throw my Ma|hometan dress over the ship's side; for they furnished me with every necessary, and many ornamental articles of Europe|an clothing. The surgeon was particu|larly attentive. I lent him some assistance among the sick, his mate being unwell; and, among other presents, he gave me a handsome pocket case of surgical instru|ments. After a pleasant voyage, we an|chored in port Logos, in the southern extremity of Portugal. Here I received the agreeable intelligence, that the Unit|ed States were about commencing a trea|ty with the Dey of Algiers, by the agen|cy of Joseph Donaldson, jun. Esq which would liberate my unhappy fellow citi|zens, and secure the American commerce from future depredations. Without landing, I had the good fortune to ob|tain Page 239 a passage on board an English mer|chantman, bound for Bristol, Captain Joseph, Joceline, commander. We had a prosperous voyage to the land's end; and, very fortunately for me, just off the little isle of Lundy, spake with a brigan|tine, bound to Chesapeak Bay, Captain John Harris, commander. In thirty two days, we made Cape Charles, the north chop of the Chesapeak, and I pre|vailed upon the captain to set me on shore; and, on the third day of May, one thousand seven hundred and ninety five, I landed in my native country, after an absence of seven years and one month; about six years of which I had been a slave. I purchased a horse, and hastened home to my parents, who received me as one risen from the dead. I shall not attempt to describe their emotions, or my own raptures. I had suffered hunger, sickness, fatigue, insult, stripes, wounds, and every other cruel injury; and was Page 240 now under the roof of the kindest and ten|derest of parents. I had been degraded to a slave, and was now advanced to a citizen of the freest country in the universe. I had been lost to my parents, friends, and country; and now found, in the em|braces and congratulations of the former, and the rights and protection of the latter, a rich compensation for all past miseries. From some minutes I preserved, I com|piled these memoirs; and, by the solici|tations of some respectable friends, have been induced to submit them to the pub|lic. A long disuse of my native tongue, will apologize to the learned reader for any inaccuracies.
I now mean to unite myself to some a|miable woman, to pursue my practice, as a physician; which, I hope, will be at|tended with more success than when es|sayed with the inexperience and giddi|ness of youth. To contribute cheerfully to the support of our excellent govern|ment, Page 241 which I have learnt to adore, in schools of despotism; and thus secure to myself the enviable character of an useful physician, a good father and worthy FEDERAL citizen.
My ardent wish is, that my fellow cit|izens may profit by my misfortunes. If they peruse these pages with attention they will perceive the necessity of uniting our federal strength to inforce a due respect among other nations. Let us, one and all, endeavour to sustain the general gov|ernment. Let no foreign emissaries in|flame us against one nation, by raking in|to the ashes of long extinguished enmity or delude us into the extravagant schemes of another, by recurring to fancied grati|tude. Our first object is union among ourselves. For to no nation besides the United States can that antient saying be more emphatically applied; BY UNIT|ING WE STAND, BY DIVIDING WE FALL.