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Bruce
Bruce
99

dependence upon Balugani and appropriation of the latter's work. He arrived at Algiers on 15 March 1763.

The Algerine consulate was a post of danger and difficulty at all times, and Baba Ali, the dey to whom Bruce was accredited, though not devoid of a certain barbaric magnanimity, was even more ferocious and impracticable than the generality. The injudicious recall of Bruce's predecessor at the dey's demand had greatly encouraged the latter's insolence. Bruce's presents were judged insufficient, and with great public spirit he advanced more than 200l from his own pocket, 'rather than, in my time, his majesty should lose the affections of this people.' These affectionate corsairs, in fact, were not without grounds of complaint. Blank passports, intended, when duly filled up, to exempt English ships from capture as belonging to a friendly power, had fallen into the hands of the French, who, to damage their enemy's credit, had sold them to nations at war with Algiers. The English, finding their passes thus invalidated, had issued written papers, which the Algerines could not read, and of course disregarded. Bruce had need of all his courage and address. The two years and a quarter during which he held office passed in a series of disputes with the Algerine ruler, which frequently involved him in great danger, but in which he usually triumphed by his undeviating firmness. At length, in August 1765, finding that no assistant was likely to be given him, he resigned his appointment, and departed on an archaeological tour through Barbary, fortified by the protection of the old dey, who secretly admired his spirit. With the aid of his draughtsman and a camera obscura, he made a great number of most elaborate and beautiful drawings of the remains of Roman magnificence extant in the now uninhabited desert. These drawings, which were exhibited at the Institute of British Architects in 1837, are partly in the possession of his descendants, and partly in the royal collection at Windsor. Colonel Playfair finds them to be for the most part virtually in duplicate, but taken from slightly different points of view; one copy probably by Bruce, the other, distinguished by the introduction of conventional ornaments, probably by Balugani. Colonel Playfair's own elaborate work has superseded the imperfect account published by Bruce himself, but his researches have impressed him with the fullest conviction of the accuracy and conscientiousness of his predecessor, in whose delineations he has discovered only one error. The most important ruins visited and sketched by Bruce were those at Tebessa, Spaitla, Tamugas, Tisdrus, and Cirta. After more than a year's travel through Barbary, at the close of which he underwent great danger from famine and pestilence at Bengazi, Bruce embarked at Ptolemeta for Candia, was shipwrecked, cast helpless on the African coast, beaten and plundered by the Arabs, and contracted an ague from his immersion, which he could never entirely shake off. His drawings had fortunately been placed in safety at Smyrna. Having, after a considerable delay at Bengazi, made his way to Crete, and partially got rid of his ague and fever, he proceeded with indomitable spirit to Syria, sketched the ruins of Palmyra and Baalbec, and, after hesitating whether he should not go to Tartary to observe the transit of Venus, arrived in Egypt in July 1768. Having conciliated Ali Bey, the chief of the Mameluke rulers of Egypt, by his real skill in medicine and supposed knowledge of astrology, and thus obtained recommendatory letters to the sheriff of Mecca, the naib of Masuah, Ras Michael the Abyssinian prime minister, and other chieftains and potentates, and being also provided with a monition to the Greeks in Abyssinia from their patriarch in Egypt, Bruce sailed up the Nile to Assouan, visited the ruins of Karnak and Luxor, and embarked at Cosseir for a voyage on the Red Sea. He proceeded to the Straits of Babelmandeb, retraced his course to Jidda, and crossed from thence to Masuah, the port of Abyssinia, where he landed on 19 Sept. 1769. The place, inhabited by a mongrel breed of African savages and Turkish janissaries, was little better than a den of assassins. It had, however one honest inhabitant, Achmet, the nephew of the naib or governor, who took Bruce's part and saved his life, powerfully aided by the fame of a salute which his countrymen had fired in his honour when he quitted Jidda, and by his credentials to the Abyssinian ras, whose wrath the naib had already provoked, and whom he feared to offend further. Bruce ultimately quitted the Red Sea coast on 15 Nov., bound for Gondar, the capital of Abyssinia. He reached his destination on 14 Feb. 1770, after a toilsome march, in which he experienced great difficulties from scantiness of provisions, from the transport of his heavy instruments, and from altercations with petty chiefs on the road. In his march he witnessed the barbarous Abyssinian custom of eating raw meat cut from the living animal, which he brought such undeserved discredit upon himself by relating; and visited the ruins of Axum, his imperfect description of which is more justly open to criticism. It was nearly 150 years since any European had visited Abyssinia, except Poncet, the French surgeon, towards