Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London/Volume 1/Geographical Notice of the Empire of Morocco
X.—Geographical Notice of the Empire of Marocco. By Lieutenant Washington, R.N.Read 11th and 25th April, 1831.
Of the empire of Marocco, the principal cities and the manners and customs of its inhabitants have been often described; but of the geography of the country, of the positions of the different towns, of the line of sea=coast, of the course of its rivers, of the height of its mountains and elevated plains, and of its geological structure and general features, our knowledge is very imperfect.
A brief but accurate notice of such information as was obtained in n journey to and from the city of Marocco and the Atlas mountains, and during a residence of one moth in the capital in the winter of 1829–30, is contained in the following pages.
The party destined to form the mission to Marocco assembled, in the beginning of November, at the hospitable British consulate at Tangier, which town, situated on a steep acclivity rising at once from the beach, presents its eastern and not unpleasing aspect to a bay about three miles wide. It is surrounded by mouldering walls, round and square towers every sixty paces, and three strong gates. Its defenses towards the sea are two batteries, one above the other, on the south side of the sea-gate. Directly in front of the landing place, high on the wall, are about twelve guns; to north, in a circular battery commanding the bay, about twenty guns of all calibres, mounted on clumsy Moorish carriages, which would not stand fire for ten minutes; crowning all, to the north, is an old and extensive castle, L'Kassbah, and the residence of the governor. On the land side, ruined walls and a ditch are the only defences. The gates are shut at sunset, and a watch is kept by night.
El Jamāa Kibeer, or principal mosque, is large and rather handsome. Its smā or tower, placed at the north-west angle, lofty, and wrought in coloured tesselated work; as is also the pavement of the mosque, round which stands a colonnade of low pillars, with a fountain in the centre.
The streets, except the main street which crosses the town irregularly from the sea to the land gate, are narrow and crooked. The houses low, with fiat tops, except those of the European consuls, which are many of them good.
In an open space about the middle of the main street there is a vegetable and fruit market. But the principal one, Sōk el Wāhad, is held on Sunday, outside the western gate, and well supplied with poultry, game, vegetables, dates, fruits. &c. Meat is good and cheap.
This town is the residence of a bashaw, whose territory extends about twenty-five miles to the southward.
Outside the walls are some productive gardens belonging to the different consuls resident here, who are sufficient to form a very agreeable society. From a terrace in that of the Swedish consul is an extensive and pleasing view over the town of Tangier and its bay at your feet; the distant peaks of the Lesser Atlas in the south-east; and to the north, across the dark blue waters of the Straits, the coast of Spain, from the memorable Cape Trafalgar, to the rock of Gibraltar. The anchorage in the bay is very tolerable, except in strong north-west winds. Were the mole rebuilt, the remains of which are still visible under water, the landing on the beach would be always secure. The ruins of old Tangier, possibly ancient Tingis, and a Roman bridge, are yet standing at the southern part of the bay. Four small batteries, of about six guns each, defend the sand-hills around the shores.
Population of Tangier, from 7000 to 8000, including 1500 Jews, who are the chief artisans.
Itinerary, 1st day, November 9, 1829.
The British embassy, consisting of a party of officers, the interpreter, a motley group of Moors, Arabs, and Jews, as muleteers and servants, escorted by a body of Moorish cavalry, accompanied by the Bashà of the province with his troops, and all the European consuls, to do honour to the mission, left Tangier. the road leading in a south direction, over a sandy soil, through the productive gardens that surround the town; then through an undulating country, over rounded schistose hills, about three hundred feet high; mica slate, with veins of foliated quartz, occurring rarely; direction, north-west and south-east; dip of strata, 75° to south-west; and covered with scanty herbage; passing occasionally an Arab village of a few hovels, fenced by a hedge of aloes and prickly pear, or Indian fig; here and there a patch of Guinea corn, otherwise no signs of cultivation; at eight miles reached our first encampment, a well-chosen spot in a valley, surrounded by an amphitheatre of hills, the distant ranges in the south-east quarter stretching far away towards Cape Negro. We arrived at dusk, and found the tents ready pitched; and when, shortly after, the broad full moon rose above the mountains in the east, the scene was beautiful and picturesque indeed. On each side of the round handsome tent of our Moorish leader, Sidi Mohammed, striped blue and white, and surmounted by a gilt globe, were the other tents, forming a circle, with the Arabs and baggage in the centre; camels, horses, and mules piqueted around; here and there a group of Moors, their swarthy faces lighted up by the watch-fires over which they were leaning; and when the Moslems began their chaunt of the Slāt el Ashar, or evening prayer, it completed a scene that we had all read descriptions of in our youthful days, but which none of the party had seen realized till this moment.
Itinerary, 2d day, November 10.
Shortly before dawn of day roused by the manly voice of our chief joining with all his troops in his morning prayers; and such was the practice, not only this morning, but ever after on the journey. Be the weather what it would—rain and storm, or fine and calm—long before day were the Musselims prostrate on the earth, chaunting the prescribed chapter of their sacred Korān.
Road to-day in a S. by W. direction 10 miles, over the well-wooded hill Dāhr Acclaou; cork, wild olive, droo, myrtle, heath, broom, palmetto, &c.; masses of rifted sandstone scattered about in wild confusion; soil, gravelly clay. From summit of this hill (500 feet), which is a western spur of the northern branch of the Lesser Atlas, an extensive view of bold mountain scenery in the east and north-east, even to Ape's Hill and the rock of Gibraltar, of Cape Spartel in the north, and of the wanderings of two rivers in the plain beneath, which join round the foot of this hill, and flow into the Atlantic Ocean at three miles west. Forded the Wād Meshra'l Shef, (or stony ford,) and encamped on an elevated plain (400 feet) at a tepid spring of water called Sanȳa d'Ulad S'baida; passed five Arab villages, one coubba, or saint's tomb.
Itinerary, 3d day, November 11.
Marched 10 miles S., through a valley about eight miles wide, with many springs; bounded on the west by a hilly tract (500 feet), forming the sea-coast, distant about four miles; on the east by a range of bulky mountains (2500 feet) called Djibbel Habeeb (beloved hill); soil, light clay; little or no cultivation; a few fields of drà, or Guinea corn; passed four Arab villages, three coubbas, or sanctoria; encamped at entrance of Fas y Rechan (valley of myrtle): About two leagues east-north-east of this spot stands a curious rock, called L'Ooted, or pegrock, from description, like those we are accustomed in England to call Druidical.
Itinerary, 4th day November 12.
Course S. 16 miles: first four over a plain of myrtle; then through a narrow valley half a mile broad, winding in a south and south-east direction, hence called the Camel's Neck; the latter part, over a plain of coarse herbage; soil, light clay and sand, with sandstone boulders; and through a wood of fine cork-trees, being the eastern extremity of El Arāish forest. Encamped within two miles of Al Kantra (the bridge); scene of action between the Moors and Portuguese in 1578, where Don Sebastian, who has tho privilege of occasionally re-appearing, lost his life and crown. We thoroughly examined, sketched, measured and noted down this bridge, which is in good preservation, and still crosses Wad el M'Hazen. In the valley through which runs this river, and on its banks, the palms Christi, and various other shrubs; fine corn land to-day; rich alluvial soil; wild artichokes, thistles, &tc.; a few patches of Guinea corn; hills to the west, forming sea-coast, wooded; several flocks of sheep; ten Arab villages; three coubbas, surrounded with wild olive and fig; some deserted gardens; several springs and wells.
Itinerary, 5th day, November 13.
Course S.S.E. 10 miles, fine open country; soil, light loam; greater cultivation; much more populous; herds of cattle, horses, mules, flocks of sheep; passed ten Arab villages; three coubbas, dazzling white, embosomed in wild olive and fig plantations, forming a pretty contrast. From a rising-ground, beautiful view of the town of
Al Ksar (Kibeer), situated in a fiat tract of rich, partially wooded meadow-land, through which meanders in a west-north-west direction, the river
L'Khos, a rapid but yellow stream; at this season of the year the channel about one hundred yards wide; the plain to the south-east bounded by beautiful mountain scenery. Conspicuous by its singular conical form is the peak of Sarsar, at the foot of which, said to be inhabited by Shereeffs, is the town of Wazen.
Al Ksar, situated on the northern bank of river, distant half a mile, surrounded by orchards and gardens of orange, pomegranate, and palm, in great luxuriance; was built by Jacob, son of the mighty Al Mansor (the victorious), about the end of the twelfth century, and connected in history with the wars of Granāda. The town is surrounded by old and ruinous walls of herring-bone brick-work and tapia, battlements loop-holes, and small square towers, fifty paces apart, about one mile and a half in circumference. Rode through the streets; counted fourteen mosques, many of which were lighted up and spacious; streets narrow, and at intervals arched across; houses remarkable for having ridged roofs of tile—the only town in Barbary.
Al Kaisseria, or Bazaar, contains a few mean shops; no business doing; sōcs (markets) and fondacs (inns) deserted and lifeless. Population about eight thousand, of which five hundred may be Jews; but doubtless it had been much more populous. Some little trade in salt, which is procured from the neighbouring hiils. The weather at this season was deliciously fine; the early rains had fallen, an the air was mild—more like spring than the approach of winter; the nights heavenly, but especially this night was calm, still, and serene; every star in the heavens distinctly visible; Venus, as a globe of liquid fire, gradually declining in the west; nought to break the stillness but the occasional bark of the watch-dog, or the drowsy note of the Arab drum from the distant tents, whose inhabitants passed away the tedious hours of night by reciting their wild tale of war and love.
Itinerary, 6th and 7th days, November 14, 15.
Course S. W. 9 miles, W. by S. 12; over ground a succession of valleys, and low ranges of hills; one a mamillary range of two hundred feet, soil deep clay, and hi!ls of gravel; boulders of ferruginous clay-stone; dried up thistles, and plants like fennel, called el clagh (gum ammoniac); several beds of mountain streams, east and west direction. At entrance of great plan of Mamōra, two tumuli; herds of cattle. As we enter the grazing country, Arab villages change into douars, or circular encampments of from twenty to thirty tents, seventeen of which we passed, and five coubbas. Approaching the Atlantic, sea visible from the height.
Itinerary, 8th day, November 16.
Course S. W. 11 miles; reached the northern extremity of the large lake, twenty miles long by one and a half broad, of fresh water, called Murja Ras ed Dora (or lake with the winding head), covered with wild-fowl; its western bank only a mile and a half from the Atlantic, separated by a range of sand-hills about two hundred and fifty feet high, covered with coarse herbage, and which rise about three-quarters of a mile from the western shore of the lake along which our road leads; soil light and sandy; forest of el clagh (gum ammoniac); some plants ten feet high, stem five inches thick; such are the annuals in this prolific country. Five coubbas, ten douars on eastern bank of lake, a few trees, and herds of cattle.
Itinerary, 9th day, November 17.
Rode about 13 miles S. W., along the margin of the lake, in which are several islands with saints' tombs, insular spots being here, as elsewhere, sacred to holy purposes. Lake covered with wild-fowl of all sorts—widgeon, wild-duck, snip, curlew, water-hens, dabchicks, herons, cormorants, besides plover and peewits: it produces fine eels; soil light, sandy; coarse herbage; little or no cultivation; no wood; herds of cattle on opposite bank of lake; distant mountains in the east, bounding the great plain of Msharrah Roumella; passed fifteen douars: four coubbas to-day.
Itinerary, 10th day, November 18.
S.W. by S. 11 miles. Lake loses itself in a marshy stream; country becomes hilly—highest five hundred feet; soil gravelly and sandy; colocynth and coarse herbage; pass two coubbas, nine douars, three springs; from summit of these hills of sandstone basis, view of the
Wād Seboo, winding in the boldest sweeps imaginable, through a rich and varied plain, far as the eye can reach; descended a steep bank covered with broom, myrtle, juniper; crossed the river, about four hundred yards wide; a bar of sand, a quarter of a mile from its outlet, extends almost across, and nearly dry at low water spring tides; inside from three to four fathoms water; rise of tide seven or eight feet; a good spring of water one hundred yards distant from the northern bank of the river opposite the town. Rode through the town of
Mehedīa, situated on a height of about ten feet, on the southern bank of the river, and distent one mile from the sea: when formerly in the possession of the Portuguese it was a place of some consequence, as the ruins of handsome fountains, arches, and churches attest; its fortifications also were respectable; a double wall, if not a ditch, on the south-western side; a long low battery defended the beach and entrance of river, and the citadel commanded the whole; at present eight guns mounted are its sole defence. The town now contains from three to four hundred inhabitants, chiefly fishermen, who subsist by the sale of shebhel, an excellent fish, much like salmon, which is caught here in great abundance. Water communication exists between this city and Fās, but is not taken advantage of.
Itinerary, 11th day, November 19.
Course S.S.W. 16 miles, through a narrow, deep valley; lake on right three miles long; on it four birds like swans, white bodies and necks, red feathers on the side, wings tipped with black, called by the Moors El Boch 'Hhamar, a variety (pink) of the anas casarca. Succession of hills and dales; one mile and a half from sea; soil light; sandstone basis; to the east the extensive forest of
Mamōra, said to cover eighty miles of country; on what authority is doubtful; the only traveller who appears to have passed through this forest describes it 'as a wood of holm oak, almonds, lentiscs, and large willows, through which he journeyed in-a few hours.' Lions and wild boars, of which we saw traces, are its inhabitants. Passing under an aqueduct extending one mile south-east, its arches thirty feet high, eight wide, four thick—of masonry, and of antiquity, though it is difficult to say of what construction—but in good repair; enter the town of
Slā, or Sallée, once the terror of the seas, so renowned for its rovers, whose daring exploits reached even to our own coasts of Christendom; whose city and port were a constant scene of riot, and bustle, and activity—now, ruined, still, and lifeless: such are the fruits of ignorance, despotism, and Mohammedanism. The present town, built on a sandy point, extending to the sea, forming the north-eastern bank of the river, is about half a mile in length by a quarter in breadth, surrounded by walls thirty feet high, and square towers every fifty paces. Its defences, a long battery of twenty guns, facing the sea, a round fort at entrance of the river, and a gun or two on the gates. The mosques, arches, and fountains in the city, as we rode through it, showed traces of beautiful sculpture, and of great antiquity; streets narrow, and houses sombre, like all Moorish towns. Population about ten thousand, of which five hundred may be Jews; with apparently little or no occupation. The river
Bu Regreb, formed by the junction of the Weroo and Bu Regreb, is here about five hundred yards broad, when full. The bar, about one-eighth of a mile from entrance, runs almost across in a west-south-west direction, with three or four feet on it at low water, leaving a channel at each end; the Moors use the eastern; rise of tide nine or ten feet; inside, the harbour is quite sheltered, with water for a frigate. The imperial dockyard is here; a corvette on the stocks, destined to be launched when the freshes from the mountains, in the spring, force a passage over the bar. Several ferry-boats, three or four small traders, an Austrian prize, and few fishing-boats, give an animation to this river quite uncommon to the Moors. The town of
Rabātt, standing on the south-western side of the river, fifty or sixty feet above its level, on banks of crumbling sand-stone. As seen from the opposite shore, the grouping of minarets, palm-trees, ruined walls, and old mosques, crowned by its venerable and battlemented kassbah, across a broad full river, is very picturesque. A curtain of five hundred yards, facing the sea, flanked by two circular batteries of twelve guns each, about as many more in the kassbah, or citadel, and a small battery overlooking the river at the south-western end of the town, form its sea defence. On the land side a strong wall, thirty feet high; square towers every fifty paces—of tapia-work, and angles of masonry. The town extends three-quarters of a mile in length, by one-third in breadth, and walled orchards of about two hundred acres reach along the banks of the river towards the ruined mosque, and lofty tower, one hundred and fifty feet in height, called by the Moors
Smā Hassan—the most conspicuous object, standing two hundred and twenty-feet above the level of the river, and the first by which this coast would be recognised in approaching from sea, as it must be visible from the deck of a frigate six or seven leagues. We counted here ten mosques, besides the mausoleum of a sultan, and that of the hero of Moorish Africa, the mighty Al Mansor. The main street of the town, which runs parallel to the river, contains the principal shops, not very attractive; the markets abundantly supplied with vegetables and fruit; orange orchards, vineyards and cotton plantations, are extensive; the fruits excellent, though grown on a light sandy soil. Moorish population may be eighteen thousand; Jews, three thousand: the former appear wealthy; the latter, if so, dare not show it. The Jewesses certainly the prettiest in the empire. Millāh, or Jews' quarter, filthily dirty, but they are the chief artisans. One mile south-east of the town are the ruins of the Roman or Carthaginian town,
Shella. We were shown Roman coins said to have been dug up there. Sala was a place of note formerly, and, according to D'Anville, the limit of the Roman station on this coast. The river now called Bu Regreb, was the boundary of the ancient Mauritania.
Itinerary, 12th and 13th days, November 23, 24.
Leaving Rabātt, travelled 28 miles in a W.S.W. diction; the first eleven miles by the side of a well-constructed aqueduct, partly above, partly under ground, which abundantly supplies the town with excellent water; soil light and sandy; a palmetto desert. At seven miles passed the ruined village and high tower of
Tomara, distant about three miles from coast. In second day's journey crossed seven streams running into the sea, distant about one mile on our right; soil, light and sandy; palmetto and various bulbous roots; traces of wild boar; last few miles well wooded with wild olive, droo, palm, &c.; two Arab villages, and two tombs passed to-day; encamped under the walls of the deserted town of
El Mansorīa, a square of one hundred and fifty paces, enclosing an Arab village; the tower of the mosque (eighty feet) stands one hundred and eighty feet above the sea, from which it is distant a short mile, and would be visible six leagues from the deck of a frigate. Coast rocky and iron bound.
Itinerary, 14th day, November 25.
Course S.W. by W. 15 miles, through an undulating country, covered with a forest of underwood, as yesterday, and on our return in the spring, the ground enamelled with flowers as a carpet; soil, light sand and gravel; basis, clay slate; dip, 45° east, as observed on the banks of two streamlets crossed to-day; sea distant three-quarters of a mile; passed two Arab villages—two saints' tombs. At six miles from El Mansorīa, stands the almost deserted town of
Fidallah, situated on the limit of a fine corn plain, at three-quarters of a mile from the sea, intended as a magazine for grain before Mogador was built; a walled square, of about two hundred and fifty paces, now encloses a respectable mosque, the ruins of European merchants' houses, and an Arab encampment; possibly three hundred inhabitants, Moors, Arabs, and Jews; half a mile to the westward, a rocky peninsula point, projecting one mile east-north-east, forms a sandy bay a mile and a half deep, offering a fair and well-sheltered roadstead to small merchant-ships.
Itinerary, 15th day, November 26.
W.S.W. 16 miles along the coast; sea distant three-quarters of a mile; soil, sandy; basis, sand-stone; no wood; herds of cattle; passed two tombs, one Arab encampment, two springs, one streamlet to-day.
Dar el Beida, a small walled town of half a mile square, standing on the beach, and on a point projecting north-north-east half a mile, forming a small bay three-quarters of a mile deep; a roadstead well sheltered from westerly winds, and protected by a few pieces of cannon. This town also was built for the exportation of corn, and was long in possession of the Portuguese; the towers of three mosques, and several good European-built houses, showed themselves over the battlements of the walls; many palm trees and numerous gardens surround the town; water in abundance. Population probably seven hundred, including Jews.
Itinerary, 16th and 17th days, November 27, 28.
S.W. by W. 33 miles, through a varied, undulating country; soil improving; fine loam; many gardens; a small forest of droo, a beautiful evergreen tree, much resembling the arbutus in leaf and blossom, bearing a brown berry, which affords a coarse kind of oil for burning; signs of cultivation; many ploughs at work; large plantations of 'hhenna, the first seen on the journey; several springs; herds of cattle; flocks of sheep and goats; passed eleven Arab camps—six tombs of saints. From rising ground gained sight of the windings of the river.
Oom-erbegh (mother of herbage), which, rising in the Atlas, separating the provinces of Fās and Tedla, forming the boundary between Temsena and Ducaila, and flowing through deep banks of sandy clay; about one hundred and fifty paces wide here; falls into the sea; on its south-western bank, one mile and a half from its outlet, stands the town
Azamōr.—Its tapia-built walls, a mile and a half in circuit, and crumbling to ruin, are, as it were, machicolated with storks' nests; its defence is a few guns pointed seawards; but a bar of sand across the mouth of the river, almost dry at low water, is its safeguard from any attack except by boats;—and a barrier to trade. The town is dull and lifeless; streets narrow and filthily dirty; provisions, fish, vegetables, and fruit, abundant and good. Population may be three thousand, including Jews. At the south-eastern angle of the town is a suburb containing a mosque and a sanctuary. The county around open; no wood; but well cultivated, and many gardens; soil, fine loam; large plantations of 'hhenna, a field of which, of about six or eight acres, the Kaïd told us was worth to him about 100l annually, producing, by irrigation three crops a year.
Itinerary, 18th day, December 1.
Leaving Azamōr, ascended through a hilly country; soil, light loam; signs of greater cultivation, gardens, &c.; several wells and springs; passed ten Arab camps, two villages, with trees, &c., at seven miles; a fine view of the town bearing west four miles, called
Mazagān, situated on a peninsular point projecting north about one mile, and forming the western limit of a sandy bay about one mile and a half, affording a good roadstead for small vessels, the point of Azamōr sheltering it to the north-east. The town well built by the Portuguese, who abandoned it in 1770, and respectably defended towards the sea by several redoubts. It enjoys some little commerce, excellent water, and good supplies. Population, two thousand. about three miles to the south-westward of this place, on the sea-coast, are the ruins called
Tett (signifying, in Arabic, Titus). It has been suggested that it might have been founded by the Carthaginians! Encamped in the valley at the back of the high land forming Cape Blanco.
Itinerary, 19th day, December 2.
Course S.W. by S. 16 miles; road now quits the sea-coast, and assumes a more direct course towards the capital, across a series of elevated plains or table lands, stretching to the foot of Atlas, to which we ascend by three great steps. Enter the province of Ducaila, celebrated for its breed of horses, and its woollen manufactory, in the shape of sulhams, 'haicks, carpets, &c.; soil of the plain, light loam, covered with stones, flint, &c.; eight Arab camps; five tombs; several springs and wells; much cultivation; gardens; fields of Indian corn; a few scattered palm-trees, otherwise no wood; ascended by a rocky road, hard sandstone basis, about three hundred feet, on to an elevated plain, reaching to the horizon, except in the south-east quarter, where is a solitary hill, called Gibbel 'Khaddār (or green mountain), much resembling the 'lone Soracte,' rising in the Campagna di Roma.
Itinerary, 20th and 21st days, December 3, 4.
Course S.S.W. 14 miles, over an open plain, rather ascending; soil, light loam, stony: stunted palm; palmetto; a few flocks of sheep; herds of cattle; ten Arab encampments; seven saints' tombs;—from summit of plain caught first glimpse of
Atlas;—At sunset splendid view of the snowy peaks of the long looked for Atlas, which we now see in all their glory lighted up by the western sun; an extensive plain in every direction, and apparently reaching to their feet; the masses of snow before us are magnificent, but detached, as seen from this distance, upwards of a hundred miles; the whole group bounding the arc of the horizon between south-east by south, and south by west; the highest isolated peak south-south-east.
Itinerary, 22d and 23d days, December 5, 6.
S.E. by S. 30 miles; still journeying over an extensive plain far as the eye can reach; at times not a tree nor a building, except a solitary saint's tomb, to break the level. Seeing a horseman or tall camel on the horizon is like meeting a ship at sea; first his head, then his body, then the animal on which he rides, is visible. Soil of the plain, light loam, occasionally sandy and gravelly; palmetto and colocynth occurring in swampy spots; fine grass occasionally; patches of Guinea corn; gardens; twelve tombs; twenty Arab encampments; the tents now take the form of bee-hives, and are usually rudely thatched with straw. Passed a large market to-day, held in the midst of the great plain; camels, horses, mules, asses, rude implements of husbandry, coarse woollen manufactures, corn, vegetables, fruit, dates, almonds, 'hhenna, &c., exposed for sale; snowy peaks of Atlas beautifully silvered by the meridian sun; encamped at the foot of a semi-circular range of small hills, varying from one hundred to one hundred and fifty feet; gravel; on summit of one of the highest stands the ruin of a building named
Gherando, either a fort or watch-tower; circular, and apparently fifty feet high by twenty in diameter; none of the peasantry could say when or why constructed. From camp, eighteen saints' tombs in sight.
Itinerary, 24th and 25th days , December 7, 8.
Course S.E. by S. 40 miles; read gradually ascends, about two hundred feet, through a broken hilly country of clay-slate, on to the plain of Stairs, extending about twelve miles; then again ascends two hundred feet on to a second plain, seventeen miles in extent, named
Peira—basis of clay-slate; soil at times sandy, then decomposed slate; many stones; fragments of quartz; flints; much agate embedded in crystallized quartz; some very beautiful specimens; and covered with palmetto and coarse herbage; with a thorny tree, about twenty feet high, bearing a dark yellow berry, called sidra nebach, the rhamnus infectorius, (or yellow-berried buckthorn.) Encamped at the foot of a range of hills, varying from five to twelve hundred feet in height; schistose, with veins of quartz; strata in a north by east and south by west direction, dip 75°; forming the northern boundary of the plain of Marocco; during our ride across these two plains, not a hut to be seen except at our night's encampment, and but one spring of water; herds of gazelles and wild boar.
Itinerary, 26th day, December 9.
Course S. by E. 12 miles; ascending about two hundred feet, between hills of micaceous schist; torrent bed fringed with Spanish broom, sidra nebach, and acacia; road stony, boulders of iron, stone, &c., and flints. On debouching from this rocky defile, the imperial city, with its buildings, its mosques, its minarets, and lofty tower, in a large plain, in the midst of a forest of palms, backed by the eternal snows of Atlas, rising to the height of eleven thousand feet, and brought forward in striking relief from the deep blue sky behind them—burst on our view. While we gazed with delight on this beautiful prospect, our 'Moorish leader, on first sight of Marocco, halted his troops, and one and all offered up prayers for the health of the sultan their master, and thanksgiving for the happy termination of their journey; encamped for the night under the shade of the palm trees; the contrast striking between this emblem of tropical and burning climes, and the snowy mountains, now rising almost immediately above our heads; at sunset many of the peaks still lighted up, while all below lies buried in one mass of shadow.
Itinerary, 27th day, December 10.
Cross the river Tensift, at Al Kantra, a bridge of thirty pointed arches, and continue over a perfectly level plain, through a forest of palms, towards the city; accompanied by the sultan's guards, all in white clothing, and the whole of the troops and male population of Marocco, not less than forty thousand persons; spirited charging of cavalry; firing of guns and crackers; barbarous music; incessant shouting; bawling, and piercing screams of women! in short, suffice it to say, every honour that could be offered, attended us as we advanced.—At high noon—at the moment the white flags were waving from the summits of the minarets, and the loud and deep voice of the Mueddin was heard from the lofty towers of the mosques, calling on the faithful Musselims to acknowledge that 'there is no God but one God, and that Mohammed is his Prophet'—did we unbelieving Nazarenes enter the imperial city of Marocco. An abrupt turn brought us to our quarters, in a vast garden, 'at once silent, shaded, verdant, and cool,' and where we were at full liberty to take our repose.
The plain of Marocco extends in an east and west direction, between a low range of schistose hills to the north, and the lofty Atlas to the south, about twenty-fve miles wide, and apparently a dead flat to the foot of the mountains, which rise abruptly to the hight of eleven thousand feet, their peaks covered with snow. This plain, which has no limit as far as the eye can reach east or west, lying about fifteen hundred feet above the level of the sea, the soil of a light sandy loam, with numerous rolled stones of crystallized quartz, agates, flints, porphyry, a green stone, cornelions, &c. &c., is, generally. speaking, covered with low brushwood of the thorny plant called sidra nebach, or buckthorn; the banks of the streamlets fringed with oleanders in great beauty, while to the north of the city is a forest of palm-trees and olives. The river
Tensift, springing from the northern hills about forty miles eastward of the city, flows along at their base about four miles north of Marocco, and joined by several streamlets from Atlas, reaches the Atlantic fifteen miles south of Saffy, nearly one hundred miles distant; the river is shallow, but rapid; the channel here about three hundred yards wide, but fordable, except in the spring, in almost all places. The
City of Marocco, lying on the northern side of this. rich plain, is surrounded by a strongly built, machicolated wall of tapia-work, thirty feet high, with foundations of masonry; square towers about every fifty paces; the whole nearly six miles in circuit, entered by eleven strong double gates. But this vast area is far from being generally covered with buildings; it comprises large gardens, and open spaces from twenty to thirty acres in extent; the Sultan's
Palace stands on the south of the city, facing the Atlas, outside the main wall; but enclosed within walls of equal strength, is a large space of about fifteen hundred yards long, by six hundred wide, divided into squares laid out in gardens, round which are detached pavilions, forming the imperial residence; the floors of the rooms tessellated with various coloured tiles; otherwise quite plain; a mat, a small carpet at one end, and some cushions, form the furniture.
Mosques within the city are nineteen, two emdrasas or colleges, and one hospital; the principal of these called
El Koutubīa, stands alone in a deserted space of twenty or thirty acres, conspicuous above all by its lofty square tower, rising to the height of two hundred and twenty feet, without diminishing, thus producing a striking and singular effect—divided into seven stories, and its height apparently about seven times its diameter: this tower is similar to, and said to be coeval with the Smā Hassān at Rabbātt, and the Giralda at Seville, built towards the end of the twelfth century. (Only be it remembered that the present superstructure of the tower of Seville is Saracenic, and raised by Christians on the Moorish foundations in the thirteenth century.) On the summit of the tower is a small turret in the shape of a lantern, whence it derives the name Smā el Fanār. The body of the mosque, though large, is an irregular building, and insignificant when contrasted with the lofty tower by which it is surmounted.
Beni Yüsef, next in height, and in age, though modernized and well painted, has a college of tālebs (or seekers, i. e. students) attached to it; a saint's tomb stands opposite its south door, formed of three arches, surmounted by a cupola, delicately wrought with rich Saracenic tracery.
El Moazīn, said to be the most ancient, is very large, and has several courts opening into each other; the Moorish horseshoe arches highly sculptured, intersecting in various directions, have a rich effect; attached to this mosque are gates, said to be those of Seville, the triumph of the mighty Al Mansōr.
Bel Abbās, patron saint of the city; mausoleum: sanctuary mosque, and hospital containing one thousand five hundred patients. Its style of building, a pavilion, surmounted by a cupola covered with green and varnished tiles.
Emdrasa dēl Emshīa.—College and mosque, stands near the south wall of the city; here are the sepulchres of the sultans of the Molūc Saidīa dynasty, once adorned with statues and busts, now, thanks to the bigotry of a rigid Moslem emperor, entirely effaced.
Fountains.—Several of these have traces of delicate sculpture, especially one near the mosque El Moazin, called
Shrub-ū-Shoof, ('drink and admire,') which has a cornice of white marble, shewing evident remains of former beauty.
Gates.—Of the eleven gates of the city, now open, that entering the palace, called
Bēb e'Rōm, is by far the best specimen of architecture to be seen; a Moorish horseshoe arch, (which, however false in principle, is not unpleasing to the eye.) richly sculptured in Arabesque work, in imitation of shoe-nails, &c. &c.: its name would imply that it was the work of Europeans, or—of Romans! the same word being used for both.
Streets of Marocco are narrow and irregular, seldom wider than lanes in Europe, in many eases connected across by arches and gates, possibly as a defence in case of attack; several open spaces, which cannot be called squares, used as market-places, &c.; the
Houses, usually one story, fiat roof and terrace, the side towards the street plain and whitewashed; here and there a narrow opening, not deserving the name of a window, none of which are glazed; but the interior disposition is much like the Spanish; rooms opening into a court, sometimes surrounded with arcades, and a fountain in the centre; many of the doors of cypress-wood, highly sculptured; the rooms long and narrow, owing probably to their want of timber; no windows, no fires, no furniture, except a mat and a cushion or two.
Al Kaisserīa, or Bazaar, is a long range of shops, or rather stalls, covered in from the weather, and divided into compartments; exposed for sale, were silk scarfs, shaw]s, and handkerchiefs, from Fas; Sulhams, haicks; gellabīas, and carpets, from Ducalia; cloth, linen, hardware, tea and sugar, from London! almonds, raisins, 'hhenna, and al kohol, from Suse; very fine corn, caravances, beans, &c., from Shragna; very luscious dates, from Taftlet; and abundance of boots, slippers, saddles, coarse pottery, mats, cord, &c., of domestic manufacture; and embroidery in gold and silver, in which they particularly excel.
Markets.—There are two or three; the principal is called
Sōk el Khamīse, held near the north gate of the city, and, as its name denotes, on a Thursday; well supplied with home manufactures; outside the gate is the market for camels, horses, mules, horned cattle, sheep, &c., but no great show; not much bustle except in the sale of horses. which is by auction—the auctioneer pacing the animal rapidly to and fro, and vociferating the last price named.
Tan-yard.—Visited, and thoroughly examined a large one, said to employ one thousand five hundred persons! Great want of order and arrangement; the process of dyeing was gone through for our satisfaction, and, in spite of dirt and slovenliness, a bright yellow colour was produced which is considered inimitable in Europe. The
Millāh, or Jews' quarter, is a walled enclosure of about a mile and a half in circuit, at the south-eastern angle of the city; populous but filthily dirty; all the Jews pay a capitation tax to the sultan, and are treated with the greatest contempt; we were offered for sale by the Scheik of the Jews and a Rabbi, the only copy of the New Testament in Hebrew and Spanish, the last relic of the Spanish hospicio that once existed within these walls. Mohammedanism, with its withering influence, reigns undisturbed. Population cannot exceed one hundred thousand, perhaps not above eighty thousand, including five thousand Jews; the women rarely showing themselves in the streets makes it difficult to estimate, but here are traces of a much greater population. The dreadful plague, and more dreadful famine, that visited this country a few years since, have committed fearful ravages; not half the space within the gates is now inhabited; mined walls and tenantless houses meet one at every turn; nothing flourishes but vegetation, which, even in the months of December and January, is rife and luxuriant—its springing freshness forming a striking contrast to the mouldering walls around.
Aqueducts.—Extensive under-ground aqueducts surround the town; some ten or twelve feet deep, but chiefly in ruins; they reach across the plain to the foot of Atlas, in many cases twenty miles in extent; evident signs of a more numerous population, and far greater cultivation of the arts.
Cemeteries.—Several large cemeteries outside the walls, both to the north and south, but especially to the east of the city is one upwards of a hundred acres in extent; war, plague, and famine, have thickly tenanted them.
Gardens.—The sultan has three large gardens, of about fifteen acres in extent, within the city, and two of about twenty acres each two miles distant from the walls, through all which we rode.
Jenān en Nīl, so called from the abundance of water with which it is supplied, certainly not on account of containing the productions of the country of the Nile, as it has no exotics whatever.
Jenān el Afia (or prosperity), destined to the use of the sultanas.
Janān el 'Hassīra, remarkable for its ripe grapes, about two miles east of the city.
Semelalīa, about two miles to the north-west of the Ducaila gate; fine olive plantations; and the residence of Don Juan Badia during his stay in this country in 1804.
The quarters allotted to the British .mission during its residence of a month in Marocco was one of the sultan's gardens, at tho south-west angle of the city, called
Sebt el Mahmōnīa, covering an extent of fifteen acres, planted in the wilderness style, with every variety of fruit-tree—olive, orange, pomegranate, citron, mulberry, walnut, peach, apple, pear, vine, &c.; with cedar, poplar, acacia, rose, myrtle, jasmin—forming a luxuriant and dense mass of foliage only broken by the solemn cypress and more stately palm, and through which nothing was to be seen but the snowy peaks of Atlas rising almost immediately above our heads, and the tall tower of the principal mosque distant about a quarter of a mile. Nought but the playfulness of gazelles, and the abundant trickling of water in every direction, to break the stillness of this delightful spot, combining everything to be desired in a burning clime.—silence, shade, verdure, and fragrance. But, as a contrast to the bounded view of our garden, the terraced roof of our house commanded a view over the city, the extensive plain boundless to the east and west, and the whole dahir, or belt, of the Atlas, girding, as it were, the country from the south-west to the north-east with a band of snow; and few days passed during our stay in Marocco that we did not spend the hours of sunrise and sunset gazing on this striking and beautiful object, noting its masses and peaks of snow, and deploring that this mighty range, combining, within one day's journey, every variety of climate, from the torrid to the frigid zone, and offering such a field to the naturalist, the geologist, and the botanist, should still remain unexplored, and present an impassable barrier to civilization.
Viewed from Marocco, the snowy range of Atlas bounds the horizon from east to south-west. At this season of the year, (January, 1830) the transition immediate from the wooded to the snowy zone;—the formation inclines more towards sharp ridges and points than to Alpine peaks. The highest of these points, visible from the city, bore south-south-east, distant twenty-seven miles; two other remarkable masses, forming sugar-loaves, south-east by east and south-east, called by the Moors Glaoui—a high ridge from south to south-east. It is remarkable that neither Moor nor Arabs have any distinguishing name for the Atlas. It is usually called Djibbel Telj, or snowy mountains, or takes the name of the province or district, as Djibbel Tedla; Djibbel Misfywa. The word Atlas is not known: whence is it derived? May it not be a Greek corruption of the Libyan or Berebber word, Adrar, or Athraer, signifying mountain?—Many of these heights were measured trigonometrically, on a base of seventeen miles, the highest of which, named by the Moors
Miltsin, stands in the district called Misfywa, in latitude 31° 12’ N., 27 miles S., 20° E. of Marocco, and was found to be eleven thousand four hundred feet above the level of the sea. This is below the limit of perpetual snow assigned by Humboldt (Personal Narr., vol. i., p. 261); yet but once in twenty years had these summits been seen free from snow.
It is more than probable that these are not the highest summits of the Atlas range, which will possibly be found in the province of Tedla, about the source of the two great rivers Oom-erbegh and Mulwia, which, from the best information, appear to spring from opposite sides of the same mountain; but this is conjecture. Till measured in 1830, the height of no snowy peak of Atlas was ever ascertained—at least none such is on record—but there is on record a conjecture hazarded, as to their height, by Mr. Jackson, and proved, by quotations from Asiatic Transactions, &c., to be correct. Jackson's statement is—'that these mountains, which lie south-east of Marocco, are seen at sea twenty miles to the westward of Mogadore, and therefore at a distance of two hundred and forty-five miles, and consequently must have an elevation of twenty-nine thousand six hundred and ten feet.' That these peaks might be visible from Mogadore, from which they bear east by south a hundred and twenty miles, is very possible; but it so happens that the highest peak visible from Mogadore bears south-east (true), and consequently must be part of the range clearly in sight to the south-west of Marocco, and distant only seventy miles from that place, and certainly-inferior in height to those peaks south-east of this city. Thus does a distance of two hundred and forty-five miles dwindle to seventy, and the unassuming but actual height of eleven thousand four hundred feet must take the place of the astounding elevation of twenty-nine thousand six hundred and ten feet!
On reference to the Astronomical Journal, there appear upwards of one hundred sights for determining the longitude of the city. Distances between moon and sun; moon, and stars east and west of her; and altitudes of the moon when in the prime vertical,— the mean of the results of which give the longitude of our garden at the south-west angle of the city:—
Long. 7° 30′ W. of Greenwich.
Lat. 31° 37′ 20″ N. Mean of about 20 mer. alts. of the sun.
Var. 20½° westerly,—by numerous observations by Schmalcalder's compass.
The remarkable stillness of the air in this plain must be noticed. Morning and evening generally a dead calm; light winds during the day; little or no rain, and this in the months of December and January; atmosphere usually clear.
|Mean height of bar. at Marocco, observed by two bars. reduced to mean temp. of 50° Fahr. Dec. and Jan. 1830||Inches||Showing an elevation of 1450 ft. above the level of the sea.|
|Greatest height, Dec. 26, 1829||28.590||Fine weather, wind NE.|
|Least do. Dec. 20||28.250||Rain, wind S., cumulus and lightning in S.W.|
|Mean temp. of Fahrenheit's therm. in the shade between 6 a.m. and 6 p,m.||56½°|
|Highest, Dec. 21, 1829||64°, wind S. W.|
|Lowest, Dec. 27||40° daylight, N.E.|
|Highest in sun, Dec. 18||118° at 2 p.m., calm|
The inhabitants of this country may be divided into six classes—Moors, Arabs, Shellūhs, Berēbers, Jews, and Negroes.
The Moors, degenerate race of noble ancestors, are the descendants of those who were driven out of Spain when the conquest of Granada by Ferdinand and Isabella, and the flight of Boabdii el Chico, put an end to the Moorish dynasty in that country; these chiefly inhabit the towns, fill the high offices under government, and form the military; their language, the Mogreb, or occidental Arabic, intermixed with Spanish.
The Arabs, originally from the desert, overspread the plains, living in tents usually pitched in a circle, hence called Douars, and following a pastoral life. When the soil is unproductive, the herbage scanty, or their tents so full of fleas and vermin, that they can no longer rest in quiet, they decamp and seek another spot, a spring of water, or a saint's tomb, generally influencing the selection. The Arabs are hospitable, and when they promise may be trusted; yet, otherwise, they are great thieves. They are a hardy race, slightly made, and under the middle size; the girls, when young, are pretty; the women frightfully ugly, owing to exposure and hard work, as all demotic duties (a wide range in this country) fall upon them. Their language is the Koreish, or Arabic of the Kōran, though much corrupted.
Berēbers and Shellūhs inhabit the mountain range of Atlas; the former the north-eastern part, as far as the province of Tedla, the latter thence to the south-west; they live chiefly in villages of houses built of stones and mud, with slate roofs, occasionally in tents, and even in caves: their chief occupation is that of huntsmen, yet they cultivate the ground and rear many bees. Their mode of life renders them more robust and active than their neighbours of the plains; they are probably the aborigines of this country, direct descendants of Ham, and have been driven to the mountains by the incursions of the Arabs and Moors; their language has no resemblance to the Arabic, though many words of that language are in common use among the natives. It has long been a disputed point whether the Shellūh and Berēber are the same language: Jackson, who lived many years at Mogadore and Santa Cruz, declares they are not, and gives a specimen of eighteen words in the two languages, to show there is not the smallest resemblance. Of these eighteen words have found five, in two different Berēber vocabularies, to the the same as in the Shellūh dialect. During our visit to the Atlas, we wrote down from the mouth of a native Shellūh, who had passed all his life there, some hundred words of that idiom. On our return home, finding that the British and Foreign Bible Society had lately acquired a translation of part of the Scriptures into one of the dialects of northern Africa, I applied to them, who most liberally showed me their vocabulary, which proved to be compiled from a manuscript in Berēber language; upon comparing thia with my own made among the Shellūhs, I found twenty words, in common use, exactly alike, a catalogue of which I subjoin:—
|Call (to)||Tsāta||Kerar (imp)||Ir-kerah|
|Dates||Tamar||Tene Icayn||Teene Icayn|
These two languages cannot be very dissimilar, in fact I have little doubt that they are dialects of the same; further examination is necessary, and a knowledge of the circumstances under which the translation was formed; but if, as I strongly suspect to be the case, a vocabulary derived from a native of one of the Kabyles or clans, which inhabit Atlas south-east of Algiers, and that from a native of the mountains south of Marocco, prove to be the same, we shall have obtained a key to a language spoken throughout the mighty range of Atlas, and extending from Baheereh on the banks of the Nile, to Cape Noon on the Atlantic Ocean, a distance of more than two thousand miles; nay more, there is every reason to believe that the Berēber is the native idiom of all northern Africa, it is the language of the Mozabies; the Wadrēgans; the Wurgelans; the Tuaryks; and Berēber words may be traced on the confines of Egypt and Abyssinia.
Jews are in this country, as elsewhere, a living proof of the literal fulfilment of that prophecy delivered more than three thousand years ago,—'Lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations.'—Numbers xxiii. 9; and although ignorant of the existence of such a command, the Moors have strictly and literally complied with it, obliging them to live in a particular quarter of their cities. The Jews are a very numerous and serviceable body; they are the chief mechanics, interpreters, &c., and the medium through which all commercial business is carried on with Europeans; they are also obliged to submit to the most menial offices, as servants, porters, scavengers, &c. Despised and insulted by the Moors, whom they cheat on all occasions, they have no redress, but must submit to be abused, struck, nay, to be stoned by a Mussulman child, against whom, if a Jew lift up his hand, he will infallibly lose it; if passing a mosque, he must take off his slippers; if he meet any of the emperor's household, even the old negresses, the late imperial concubines, the Jew must doff his slippers, and stand close to the wall till they pass; to such a state of degradation are the people chosen of God, the descendants of Abraham, brought in this country. Yet such persons are our official interpreters, nay more, our consular agents; as for repeating a message on terms of equality to an emperor. or a spirited remonstrance if necessary, they dare not for their lives. The
Negroes, who not very numerous, are slaves, and here, as in more civilized countries, are articles of traffic; yet they sometimes reach stations of great importance, and gain their freedom; and thus even in benighted, barbarian Africa, that foulest stain on a nation's fame—is not half so black as in enlightened, Christian Europe:—the negro's character stands high for fidelity, the sultan's body-guard, the only standing army, is chiefly composed of these: it is now not above five thousand strong; but under Muley Ishmael is said to have reached one hundred thousand. The
Government of this country is absolutely despotic; the sultan is the head of the church and state, which are inseparable; Mohammedanism is their
Religion, and some of its bigoted tenets are rigidly enforced by the present possessor of the throne; in their religious duties, such as prescribed prayers, ablutions, &c., the Moors are very strict, even on a journey; they look on Christians as of no religion, and not without reason, since at Tangier. the residence of the European and American corps diplomatique, comprising ten or twelve consuls, with their attachés and dependants, there is but one Roman Catholic priest (Spanish it is believed); the six Protestant representatives, and their families, have not even the shadow of a minister of religion. Their
Laws, the will of a despot, who in the capital administers justice in person; in the provinces the kalifa or bashaw faithfully copies the despotism of his imperial master; yet judgment is generally correct, and always prompt; the ruling principle appears to be—keep the people poor, and they will not rebel. The
Revenue is derived from taxes paid in kind, one-tenth of corn, and one-twentieth of cattle; a capitation tax on all Jews, and fines on districts where crimes have been committed; but the revenue is uncertain, nay, often must be levied by force from some of the Arab tribes; the whole may amount to a million sterling. The
Military are a sort of militia called out when required; they receive no pay, but are furnished with a horse, and, when those of the provinces visit the capital, with a trifling present. The only standing army is the sultan's body-guard, before-mentioned; all the soldiers carry long muskets, which they use with great dexterity, firing at full gallop; they are hardy, sleeping usually on the ground without any extra covering, even in cold wet nights; but they are not formidable, as they have no idea of the advantage of moving in masses; if their first charge is not decisive, they must be easily routed; many of them are good marksmen; the management of artillery in the field is beyond their comprehension. The
Education of the youth is confined to learning the Korān, which they are taught by rote in the schools, and the management of a horse and fire-arms.
Music is almost unknown; a rude pipe and more barbarous drum are in use, but after listening a long time no pretensions to harmony could be discovered, except among the Shellūh mountaineers, why'songs were plaintive and pleasing.
The Moors are generally a fine-looking race of men, of the middle stature, though at first sight their loose flowing dress gives them the appearance of large men; after middle age they become corpulent, both men and women, owing to their inactive life. They have usually good teeth; complexion of all shades, owing to their intercourse with the negroes, and we remarked the darker the colour generally the finer men, and more determined characters; the women, who are pretty when young, blacken their eye-lashes and eye-brows with al kahol, (lead ore,) and stain the tips of their fingers (as do also some of the men, the fops of this country it is presumed) with 'hhenna, which is far from adding to their beauty, being of a deep orange colour. The
Dress of the Moors is picturesque and graceful; a shirt, with large sleeves, and drawers of ample dimensions, of white linen, over which by many is worn a kaftan, with short sleeve, buttoned to the shape, of bright yellow, or light blue cloth; a many-coloured silk sash round the waist, over thhis a white.
Haïck, a long light woollen, cotton, or silk mantle worn as the Roman toga, and at times a sort of cloak, with a hood, called a
Sulhām, of blue, yet more generally of white casimere; a red cap, round which is wound some white muslin so as to form a turban, and slippers or boots of yellow Marocco leather; the haïck is worn by women as well as men, often the only garment, and at times so fine as to be transparent; the women always wear red slippers, and neither men nor women wear stockings. A
Jellabīa is a coarse serviceable garment, made of worsted, and worn by the poorer people, and cannot be better represented than by making a hole in the bottom of a sack for the head, and cutting the lower corners off for arm-holes.
The Jews are not allowed to wear colours; a black bornoos, black cap, and black slippers, mark their degradation.
The usual food throughout the county is a dish called Kūscăsū, composed of mutton or fowls stewed with a few vegetable, served up in a large fiat earthenware pan, filled to overflowing with granulated pasta, forming a savoury and nutritious dish; this is placed on the ground, round which sit cross-legged half-a-dozen persons; chairs, tables, knives, forks, spoons, and plates, are superfiuities unknown.
Coffee is not used. Tea very generally; at all hours of the day it is presented to visiters, otherwise water is the only beverage.
The Moors do not smoke tobacco, but take a great deal of snuff; they occasionally smoke the leaves of the Hashīsha (or hemp-plant), which appears to have much the soothing quality of opium, producing pleasing intoxication; they also make a sort of confection of the seed of this plant, called Kèef, which has the same properties, and to the use of which they are much addicted. The characteristics of the Moor are idleness, apathy, pride, ignorance, and sensuality—though living in the most deplorable state of ignorance, they look with contempt on all others, terming them barbarians. Their bigotry, too, is excessive; on our journey to Marocco, a party of travellers that we met, after saluting the chief of our escort, said to him, 'God preserve you from the contamination of the Kaffirs.' On such occasions it is brought home to us with double force, how thankful should we Europeans be for the blessed light of Christianity. The sensuality of the Moors knows no bounds; the laws of nature cannot restrain it; the constant and often repeated application to the medical officer attached to the mission was for stimulating drugs and cordials, even after their noxious qualities were pointed out;—decrepit old men, with one foot in the grave, would have given half their fortune for a few hours of invigorated youth. The day is usually lounged away in idleness:—except for the military exercise of Lab el Barōd (literally, playing powder), which consists in charging at full gallop, firing their guns, and stopping short, they seldom move from their lethargic state of apathy or drowsiness; yet with these vices they are hospitable and possessed of great fortitude under misfortune; 'Allah brā,' 'God made it so,' is their support under all afflictions. The people are generally healthy and long lived; the Climate is unquestionably good, yet leprosy, ophthalmia, elephantiasis, hydrocele, and the venereal disease, are not uncommon; their remedies are simple, their whole materia medica consisting in a few herbs; but rite dreadful scourge of this country, the plague, visits them nearly every twenty years, nor will they be induced to take any precautions against it.
Locusts also commit fearful ravages, occasionally devouring every green leaf, and leaving the ground over which they have passed absolutely barren. But the pride of the Moor is his
Horse, and often, indeed, it is an animal of great beauty; has more stuff in him than the Andalusian jennet, probably owing to finer pasturage; his action and shape also differ; he does not raise his feet so high, and advances more; neither does he pace, but his usual step is a long walk; nor slip in his quarters as the Spanish horse; and is sure-footed even when galloping over rough ground, as we often proved, hunting both wild boar and gazelles. The horses usually stand from fourteen to fifteen hands high, of every colour; the most beautiful we remarked were chestnut and black; though the latter not common; flowing mane and tails, which they never dock, but when young shave the tail, giving it an absurd appearance; we measured the main of a chestnut horse two feet and a half long, the tail sweeping the ground; they seldom begin to ride them till four years old, nor do they ride the mares. In the interior of the country a good horse may sometimes be bought for one hundred Spanish dollars (twenty guineas), though with difficulty, and cannot be exported without an order from the emperor. On a journey the Barbary horse starts unfed and without water; at the end of it is piqueted, unbridled, never unsaddled; given as much water as he can drink, then barley and broken straw thrown down on the ground as far before him as he can reach by stretching out his neck; thus he rarely or never lies down, nor gets any sleep, yet is very spirited; broken wind is rare; they are often tender-footed, and much shaken in the shoulders from the sudden stop, even at full gallop, which is constantly practised.
The audience with the sultan;—the interchange of presents,—namely, our choicest works of art, such as chronometers and telescopes, for the fiercest beasts of nature, as tigers, hyænas, wolves,—the honours paid to the British mission, &c., fall not within the limits of a geographical sketch.—To proceed then to the Atlas.
January 7, 1830.
Bade adieu to our earthly paradise, the garden of El Mahmōnīa, and journeyed across the plain, in a south-east direction, towards the Atlas; soil, light, sandy loam, covered with rolled stones, and shrubs of the buckthorn and tirnet (resembling a gooseberry bush); several brooks of water, fringed with oleanders; large plantations of olives, and ruined aqueducts crossing the plain in various directions. At sixteen miles, entered a valley of the Atlas, winding in a south direction, and following the course of a mountain torrent; encamped for the night about two thousand four hundred feet above the level of the sea, and one thousand feet above the plain, commanding a splendid view of the city, the whole plain of Marocco, and the winding of the fiver, losing itself in the western horizon.
At daylight, struck our tents, and set forward by a sharp ascent; a brawling torrent in the valley below us; its banks well wooded with olive, carooba, walnut, acacia, cedar—the finest timber we had vet seen in the country, though not very large—and profusion of oleanders, stunted palms and rose-trees; cheered and enlivened on our march by the shouts of the Shellūh huntsmen, re-echoed from rock to rock, in their endeavours to rouse the game; each turn of the road disclosing fresh beauties in the valley, and a more boundless view of the plain and city of Marocco, its various, mosques glittering in the morning sun; basis of road, limestone; soil, stiff clay; stony; boulders of limestone, sandstone, agate, flint, porphyry, gneiss, greenstone, and cornelian; on brow of hill a range of limestone, fissures vertical, resembling a pile of gigantic tombstones, artificially placed; passed several villages, perched in the most romantic situations, and inhabited by the free Shellūhs, the aborigines of these mountains.
After about three hours' ascent, the paths becoming narrow, and intricate, we dismounted, left our Moorish escort, and put ourselves under the guidance of the Shelluh mountaineers—our only directions, pointing to the snowy peaks above our heads; still ascending through a forest of carooba, olive, cedar, walnut, &c., overrun by wild vines, and the hop-plant in great luxuriance; the scenery now becoming truly romantic; abrupt, sterile, sand-stone mountains rising on each side of us; the valley, not a quarter of a mile broad, through which rushed a brawling torrent five hundred feet below us, with the mountain path at times on the very brink of the precipice, while, before us, the snowy peaks appeared to recede as we climbed.
At noon, halted on the summit of a conical schistose hi!l, much decomposed at surface; strata, east and west; dip, 30° north-east, for a meridional observation, which gave our latitude 31° 25½′ N.,—the first ever perhaps taken in the Atlas. Our barometers here showed four thousand six hundred feet above the sea.
While making our observations we were surrounded by the native Shellūhs, who gazed with astonishment at our persons—our dress, particularly the gilt buttons; they silently looked at the compass, the spy-glass, the barometer, as things far beyond their comprehension; but when the quicksilver was poured out for an artificial horizon, they burst out into an exclamation of mingled astonishment and admiration, but no incivility, no rudeness: the contrast between the apathy of the Moors and the intelligence and curiosity of these primitive mountaineers, is striking; they have an air of freedom about them unknown in the plains; well-formed, athletic men, not tall, not marked features, and light complexions. Goitre is unknown among them; their language unintelligible to our interpreter, nor, generally speaking, did they understand Arabic. We couversed through the medium of the scheik of the Jews residing in this valley, and obtained correctly some hundred words of their language; they dwell in cottages, built of rough stones and mud, with slightly sloping slate roofs; their chief occupation is hunting; mix very little with the Arabs and Moors of the plan; wherever their valley afforded a spot of ground it was enclosed and cultivated; to us, they were hospitable and generous. In each village are many Jewish families, who have fled hi&er to avoid the degradation and taxation to which they are liable in the cities; this valley contains ten villages, between four and five thousand inhabitants, one-fourth of which are Jews. Saltpetre is found here, and good gunpowder made. Copper-mines are said to have been worked at the upper end of the valley. How little is known of the central recessed of the Atlas! Doubtless these valleys are all inhabited by a race of men probably us unmixed as any existing, of whom nothing is known, hardly even a few words of their language! Here is a field for an inquiring mind.
But to proceed: for two more hours continued ascending; ground covered with scanty herbage and stunted cedar; reached the limit of snow, and continued some distance above, till finding the thawing snow giving way under our feet and our guides declaring they would no longer accompany us, we reluctantly halted, and gazed on the highest peaks, still far beyond our reach, the space between us and them one mass of untrodden snow. Our barometer here showed an elevation of six thousand four hundred feet. The mountain on which we stood was of hard red sand-stone, strata running in an east and west direction, dip 10° south; we had thus only passed limestone, micaceous schist, and sand-stone, only transition and secondary rocks; no traces of the primitive, except a boulder of granite or rather of gneiss in the valley below, and veins of foliated quartz in the schistose hills; besides, the tendency of the formation is to table-land, ridges, and rounded summits, not to sharp or Alpine peaks; neither did we on our route through the country, see any trace of volcanic agency, nor is there anything in the outline of Atlas indicating the former existence of a crater. Returned to our camp at night.
On a hill five hundred feet above our camp are ruins of a city, now called Tassremoot, apparently of great extent; walls of unhewn limestone and mortar, baths, vaults, &c. All the information we could gain from the natives was, that it was formerly a Christian or Roman city, and tradition attaches to it the same tale as that of the taking of Troy, which, substituting mules laden with treasure, for the wooden horse, was distinctly related to us by a Shellāh huntsman, who, pointing to a certain spot in the wall, said, 'And there stood Bāb el 'Ghraddār,' or 'traitor's gate,' which name it bears to this day!
After three nights spent in the Atlas, at dawn of the following day began to descend on our return to the plain; passed a basin formed by hills about five hundred feet in height, presenting a remarkable appearance; strata of lime running north-east and south-west, dip about 70° to south-east, and which, following the undulation of the hills, gave to the north-west slope the resemblance of a series of crescents rising one above another. Again reach the regions of palm, oleanders, rose-trees, &c.; on gaining the plain turn east-north-cast, along the foot of a range of hills called the
Arina range, which presents a striking feature even as seen from Marocco; basis of lime; strata east and west, dip 20° to the south-east; its north-western face precipitous, five hundred feet high, and deeply channelled with water-courses, and having dark red clay, possibly metallic, between the strata of lime. Road turns north across the plain; soil light clay; ground covered with cornelians, agates, &c.; traversing numerous streamlets gushing from all the vallies of the Atlas; their margins rife with vegeta- tion; cross the fiver Tensift, and lose sight 0f the tall tower of the mosque of El Kŏŏtabīa, which, towering as a light-house far above the level line of verdure formed by the tops of the palm-trees around Marocco, had hitherto been our beacon across the plain. Encamped close under the eastern extremity of the schistose range of hills, forming the northern limit of the plains and at the source of the river Tensift. The schistose hilts, varying from five to eight hundred feet in height, assume eyery variety of shape; truncated cones, pyramidal, pine-apple, sugar-loaf, &c.; one of which was covered with masses of gneiss, or cross-grained granite, abounding with black mica; many of these blocks were several tons weight. How got they there? If granite, the nearest granite mountains are at the distance of twenty-five or thirty miles. Can they be boulders? They had rather the appearance of roughly quarried masses of four or five feet square.
January 11, 12, 13.
Left the plain of Marocco, and, Btriking. through the schistose hills, again came on the extended plain which we had crossed forty miles to the westward, on our journey to the capital; soil, fine loam; irrigated and well cultivated; a three days' journey of about fifty miles in a north-north-east direction, over this great plain, brought us to the banks of the river
Oom-erbegh, at the ford called Meshra el 'Khalluf, or ford of wild boar, many of which we hunted and killed during our day's journey; the river here is not rapid; about one hundred and fifty yards broad, and fordable; it flows through banks of deep soil. During these fifty miles passed but twelve Arab encampments, and six saints' tombs; much less population, but which may be accounted for by the land being destined to pasturage; herds of cattle, flocks of sheep and goats.
January 15 to 21.
A journey of seventy miles across a series of plains, in a north-west direction, brings the traveller from the banks of the Oom-erbegh to the sea coast at Fidallah; the former part of the plain gravelly; a palmetto desert, but the latter part a fine rich. soil; thinly peopled and little cultivation; but as the spring in this climate draws on, nature teems with life; the ground rich in bulbs, flowers, &c., enamelled as a carpet, with iris, crocus, daffodil, narcissus, lotus, lupins, African marigolds, &c., in full bloom; that gigantic annual also, the gum ammoniac plant, like fennel, already putting forth its shoots and feathery leaves. Thirty-three Arab encampments and twenty saints' tombs passed in five days' journey.
At twenty miles north of the Oom-erbegh, encamped at a spot which still bears the name of
Kaisār—name and tradition agree in pointing out this spot as of ancient times. We traced the foundation of a building whose north side was two hundred and fifty paces long; round towers at the corners; walls five feet thick, of rough unhewn limestone and mortar, but level with the ground; other foundations are visible to a great extent; a well and conduits leading to the spring. The writer has great pleasure in being able to give the remarks on this station, of a very intelligent friend, (to whose kindness he is indebted for having accompanied this mission,) and whose opinion as an antiquary and an acute observer, is valuable. 'No coins could be produced, although their weight in gold was offered;
' still it was asserted that many had been found; that this has been
' a Mauritanian or Roman station is not improbable; extensive
' ruins certainly exist, near a fine spring of water, in a rich corn
' plain, and about half way between the present cities of Fas and
' Marocco, in nearly a direct line, and a very probable situation
' for a connecting station between those two cities, or whatever
' existed on their sites. On the following day, about twelve miles
' north of this spot, remarked several tumuli; on riding up to
' examine, found two of them circular, about twenty feet high,
' and one hundred feet in diameter, and one long barrow; on
' questioning the peasants who were ploughing the ground at their
' base, and inquiring whether there were any ruins near here. they
' replied, "that a city, called Caria, had sunk into the ground;
' that many well-built wells were in the neighbourhood; that coins
' had been found which they described as of brass, of the size of a
Spanish dollar, and an inscription of straight sticks and dots."
Can this be other than the Roman denarius?'
The Jewish Rabbi, Shalōm Ezzowi, who lies buried at Kaisār, is said to have been one who escaped from the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, and as such was rendered due homage by the Rabbi and Jews of our party.
Halted for two days hunting in a fine open country at the
Kassbah dēz Zettāt, a walled square of two hundred and fifty paces, containing about five hundred inhabitants, Moors and Jews. In one morning's sport, roused and hunted nine wild boars, several foxes, hares, &c. Gradually ascending from the immense plains of Ducaila, till we reach their western limit, and again hear the welcome roaring of the Atlantic, which we had lost sight of for seven weeks, and arrive on the sea-coast, close to Fidallah; retrace our old road by Rabātt Mehedīa, &c., till we reach the northern end of the great lake, when we continue northwards, passing through a small forest of cork, which is named after
Dar el Krisi, and along the eastern margin of the small lake
Muley Buselham; soil light sandy loam, richly covered with herbage; passed twelve Arab camps; eight saints' tombs to-day.
Twelve miles in a north direction, over rather a sandy soil, little cultivated, and skirting the cork forest of E! Araish, about two leagues in extent, brings us to the town of
El Arāïsh, situated on an abrupt declivity of sand-stone, on the southern bank of the river E! Kōs, at its outlet into the Atlantic; the town walled; a ditch on the land side, and crowned by a citadel; its sea-defences also are strong; a battery of thirteen guns half a mile west of the town, and a venerable castle, with concave flanks and orillons, at the entrance of the river. This town is a picturesque ruin; Christian foundations, desecrated by Moslem superstructures; the principal mosque was a Roman Catholic Church. Here was formerly the residence of the European consuls, and their deserted hours still line the Marina, commanding a fine view of the port and of the Atlantic; the town is fast falling to decay; population may be four thousand, including Jews; some little commerce in charcoal, &c.; supplies abundant; a fine spring of water on the northern shore, very convenient for watering shipping. The river
El Kōs, signifying a bow, and so named from its winding, may be traced through a beautiful valley far away to the eastward; its banks fertile, with many gardens, which fully justify the name of the town, 'El Arāïs,' signifying 'the Flower Garden;' an inscription over the walls, on the sea-gate, which we decyphered with some trouble, testifies that this place was taken from the Moors, and fortified by the Spaniards in 1610. A bar of sand lies in a N. by E., S. by W. direction, about two cables length from the point of the river, and on which are sixteen feet water, on spring tides, but within is a fair port for frigates, about three-quarters of a mile long, by a quarter broad, formed by the last winding or sea-reach of the river. Here were lying the two Moorish eighteen-gun brigs of war, the sultan's navy, which the Austrians attempted to burn in June, 1829, and, as is well known, failed, from gross ignorance of seamanship and gunnery;—they suffered severely:—we walked over the field of battle—a sandy point, under which twenty-six of their bodies lie buried; their heads were paraded for a short time on the line wall, then pickled and sent to the sultan; many of their bodies were impaled, and the Moors amused theme!yes by practicing ball-firing at them as targets!
Laving El Arāïsh, road continues for ten miles along the beach; crossing ten streams running into the sea; hills at a quarter of a mile distant, varying from three to four hundred feet high, covered with herbage;—little wood. At six miles reach a bluff projecting cliff, named
Haffa el beïda (or White Cliff), from four to five hundred feet high, of a fine white claystone, its fissures or strata north and south, dip 70° to the east. Four miles further quit the beach, and ascend the hills, covered with droo, palmetto, &c.; from summit, an extensive view of the line of coast towards Cape Spartel, and across the straits to the ever-memorable Cape of Trafalgar; descend to the shore, and reach the small town of
Arzilla, a walled square of a quarter of a mile, situated on the open beach; facing the sea are planted a few guns; the wall built by the Portuguese; many of the houses still preserve the pointed roof; population may be one thousand; country around varied and pretty.
At three mi!es along the beach, ford the fiver Ayasha, and the ascend the elevated plain, and reach our former camp at Sanya d'Ulad Sbaida, where, after a delay of three days, waiting for the river
Meshra al Shef to become fordable, resumed our old road; and on the 6th of February, after a three months' absence, were again warmly welcomed to the British consulate at Tangier.
On reviewing the tract of country we had passed over, notice must be taken of the tendency to table-land observable throughout. Generally speaking, all the elevations present one level; the plains rise by three great steps to the mountains; and the two great rivers, the Seboo and the Oom-erbegh, appear to divide the country into three partitions: of these the norther, or that from the Straits of Gibraltar to the latitude of Fez, (excepting the northern spur of the mountains,) to judge from the bold swaps of the rivers and the lakes, is nearly a level to the foot of Atlas. From the Seboo to the river Oom-erbegh, the country dips considerably towards the west, and still more so from this latter fiver to the plain of Marocco; throughout these plains there is great want of wood; even on the skirts of the Atlas the timber does not reach any great size, nothing that we saw to justify Pliny's account of timer speaking of Mauritania, lib. v.
But we cannot fail to be struck by the extraordinary capabilities of the soil; from the foot of Atlas to the shores of the Atlantic, one vast corn plain. Give but direction to the waters, which are not wanting, and abundance would speedily follow. It is mortifying see such blessings spurned by a bigoted and fanatic government—land covered with weeds that might give food to millions.
Surely some effort should be made to open a trade with this country; the consumption of a population of five or six millions, even though they be Moors and Arabs, must be of importance to European nations, but especially to a country so essentially commercial as Great Britain.
A few words must be said of the map. Travelling along the coast of the Atlantic from Cape Spartel to Cape Blanco, a distance of two hundred and fifty miles, generally within one mile of the sea, and often along the beach, a sailor's attention would naturally be directed to endeavour to fix the line of the coast, to effect which no opportunity was lost; not less than one hundred bearings were taken, solely for the purpose of fixing points and headlands accurately, and which were invariably transferred to paper before going to bed. The rough track contained in fourteen sheets, on the scale of half an inch to a mile, will exemplify this. These sheets have been connected, corrected by astronomical observations, and reduced to a small scale. The windings of the river Seboo are from a sketch of Colonel Harding, R.E., who accompanied a mission to Fās in 1825. The points of the northern coast from Tofiño and the Admiralty charts; for the south-western parts of the coast obligations are due to the liberality and kindness of Captain Beaufort, hydrographer, for allowing the use of the late Captain Boteler's observations. With such help there is no hesitation in asserting that the present is by far the most correct map hitherto completed of the empire of Marocco.
- Cactus Opuntia (Kermuse d'Ensarrah, i. e., Christian fig.)
- The word durrah, or dhurrah pronounced rapidly, in the Moghrebine fashion. It is a kind of sorghum or millet.
- It will be remarked that this Journal is simply geographical. During a journey of some hundred miles in this little known country, of course much other valuables information was gained, which it is hoped will soon be laid before the public.
- Jackson's estimate of the population in this country is, generally speaking, too exaggerated to require contradiction.
- In examining the map of Don Juan Badia (Ali Bey), in Marocco (tho only one that has any pretensions to accuracy), it muss be allowed that where he actually did make observations, he is generally correct; but in compiling his map mistakes have arisen, possibly through the carelessness of the editor. It is not wished to detract form a work that undoubtedly has great merit, but facts must be stated clearly.
1. Al Ksar is placed 4′, or 16″ of time east of Tangier, it should be four miles west of Tangier.
2. The difference of longitude between Cape Spartel and El Araish is assumed at a mile and a half, it should be fifteen miles.
3. El Arāïsh is placed seven miles and a half west of Tangier; it should be eighteen miles and a half. These mistakes occur within fifty miles of the point he started from. As for his plan of the city of Marocco, it must have been drawn at Paris from recollection, so unlike is it to the original.
- Ali Bey.
- Lawsonia inermis.
- The various names of this town are worth remarking. In 1506, when first built, named by the Portuguese Castillo Real; afterwards Magazān; in 1507, by the Moors owing to the vicinity of a saint's tomb, Burija; in 1769, when besieged by the sultan Sidi Mohammed, Ma'edūma (let it be destroyed); and in 1770, when captured, by imperial proclamation (the New) or Jdeida. This may account for mistakes in nomenclature and position, which we see even in the best charts and maps.
- The clear-sighted people of this empire, it is believed, do not wish their country to be surveyed. They should not canonize so many of their idiots, or build so many saints' tombs; for did an observer wish to select stations for a trigonometrical survey of their plains, nothing could have been better placed than these sanctuaries, and which it is a point of their religion to keep in good preservation.
- See Plan of City.
- See Jackson's Marocco.
- But description ts not sufficient. Happily, a very correct outline of Atlas, a panoramic view of the city of Marocco, with many other characteristic and spirited sketches of scenery in that country, were made during our journey by a friend and intelligent fellow-traveller, Mr. W. H. Smith. R.A., and which sketches, it is hoped, will soon be made public.
- Jackson's Shabeeny, pp. 92, 3, and 4. London, 1820.
- This is noticed to correct mistakes, not from a desire of criticising Mr. Jackson's work, which is unquestionably the most useful on this country. He spoke the Occidental Arabic, or Mo'greb, fluently, and without which no intimate knowledge can be gained, independently of the marked contempt evinced by the Moors and Arabs for those who do not speak their language.
- Calculated by the table of M. Oltmanns, inserted in the 'Annuaire' of 1830.
- In Mr. Washington's MS. a list of ascertained geographical positions within the empire of Marocco, with the authorities on which they respectively rest, is here introduced, for which see map.
- My authorities for the Berēber are 'Hodgson and the Berebber Language' published in the American Philosophical Transactions, vol. iv., and another compiled by a Frenchman, long resident at Algiers, I believe M. Venture. See Appendix to Langlès' French Translation of Hornemann's Travels.
When these papers were read brfore the Society, it was asserted that these languages were not alike; in the conversation that arose after the reading was finished a contrary opinion was expressed, and it was intimated that Mr. Barrow (who is of the highest authority in any point connected with Africa) thought differently, upon which further inquiry was made—the result is given above.
- Mr. Williams, R.A., who, by his readiness to give advice and assistance to the natives on all occasions, kept them in good humour, and was enabled to obtain much information.
- Al kharob, i.e. ceratonia siliqua.
- This formation, it is believed, is of secondary limestone, and probably is generally diffused throughout the skirts of the Atlas, forming the basis of all the lower ranges of the mountains to the height, perhaps, of three or four thousand feet. Of marble we saw nothing in our journey, except in some of the buildings in Marocco; and, after much inquiry could not decide, from the ignorance or apathy of the Moors, whence it came, but it is believed from Italy. The great columns and pillars of white marble yet existing in this country are between Faz and Mekinez, and described as the ruins of a triumphal arch and temple; but resso-antico and other ancient marbles, which have been, historically, almost proved to have come from Mauritania, we could hear nothing.
Of the age of Atlas it would be difficult to form a conjecture; but if the very plausible theory of M. Elie de Beaumont be correct, Atlas is of later date than the range of Erzgebirge in Saxony and the Cote d'or in Burgundy,—than the Pyrenees and the Apennines,—than the gigantic Mount Blanc and the south-western Alps, and probably coeval with Mont Gothard and the central Alps, the Caucasus, the Balkan, and the mighty range of Himaleh in Asia—that is, judging from the Alps in Switzerland of a comparatively recent date, or elevated since the deposition of both secondary and tertiary strata.
- As also to that of Sir Thomas Fellowes, C.B., Captain of his Majesty's ship Dartmouth, who kindly took upon himself the responsibility of giving him leave of absence from this ship then lying in Gibraltar Bay; nor is the writer unmindful of the cheerfulness with which his brother officers volunteered to do his share of duty while he was wandering in Africa.