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There are no Turkish ladies in Algiers, and but few Moorish to be seen in the streets; these are invariably old and ugly; and all you see of flesh and blood are the red ferret eyes, peeping over the tightly drawn yashmac.
Their wide Turkish trowsers are gathered at the ancles, the feet encased in handsomely embroidered slippers; and the eyes are painted as the Jews, but the line is prolonged from the forehead down the nose. Being completely clad in white, they look like so many tenants of the grave stalking through the streets in their winding-sheets. There is a vast concourse of negroes here—the most lazy, impudent rascals in the community. Freed from the yoke of the Algerines, and rejoicing under the cap of liberty, these fellows have become absolutely rude and insolent, taking pride in insulting their former masters on every occasion. They are mostly from the interior of Africa, and their tribes are distinguished by the difference of tattooing on their faces.
In our walk one day through the city, we were introduced to a notable personage—the ex-captain of an Algerine frigate, and the most daring pirate that had been known for many years.
He was an old man, and going about seemingly in great poverty, and told me, in the lingua Franca, he did not at all admire the present state of things under the French, and shrewdly concluded with the usual
Turkish sign of rolling the hands round each other, intimating that the course of events were moving
onward, and that the present state of things could not last. Chierology is a silent and expressive mode of communication among the Turks, and would be naturally expected to arrive at a great pitch of perfection in a town like this, whose walls had ears, and a word might gain the speaker the bowstring or impalement. Thus, two Algerines meeting in the morning, inquire after the state of affairs, by twisting the extended hand on the wrist rapidly up and down. If matters are well, the palm, in reply, is turned up; if ill, it is turned down, and the communicants pass on their different ways in silence.
The crescent, with an open hand, is engraven on white marble over every gate, battery, fort, and mosque in Algiers : underneath this, the sign of the double triangle, with a verse of the Koorán, or the name of Allah, in large Arabic characters, is to be seen. The terror of the evil eye is great—and its preventative, the pointing of the middle finger, much in use both by the people themselves, and engraven on the walls, and a text of the Koorán, or some such talismanic writing, is sewed up in the dress, or hung round the neck of the children, as “ gospels” are in Ireland.
It is much to be regretted that more has not been done to mark the habits and usages of this extensive nation, now fast crumbling into a débris that will be scarcely recognized amongst the strata of succeeding generations. Of this large territory-extending from the river Malua, on the west, to
DECAY OF THE KINGDOM.
Lacata, on the east, running in a parallel between the Mediterranean on the north, and the Atlas mountains and the Zahara, or Great Desert, separating it from the interior, five hundred miles in length, and varying in breadth from fifty to two hundred—the only parts now remaining in possession of its original owners are Tripoli and Tunis, and how long they will continue is
very uncertain. Many of their manners and customs differ from those of other Mohammadan nations—a mixture between the Turk and Arab, the Moor and the Bedawee. The present state of this country is but another proof of the downfall of the Ottoman empire, perhaps we may say, of Mohammadanism. In Egypt it is accomplishing by the introduction of Frank manners, customs, and literature, under that extraordinary man, Mohammad Alee. Persia is dwindling daily into insignificance; and the hardy, conquering soldiers of a Cresus, Xerxes, or Darius, are no longer to be found. As to the Porte itself, whose sultan is looked upon like the pope, as the prophet's successor, and Mohammad's vicegerent on earth, it is doubtful if the present boy be not the last; and even now, it is but the diplomacy of European powers that retains the kingdom in his hands, which keeps Russia at bay, and Ibrahim Basha from crossing the Hellespont, and knocking at the gates of Constantinople.
In 1732, Dr. Shaw calculated the population of Algiers at no less than 117,000 ; but this seems almost
incredible within so small a space. Before the conquest it was said to be 40,000, after the plague, which carried off 20,000. The census taken in 1833 makes it 23,753. It is now about 30,000, of which 7000 are French troops in garrison. The numbers are thus divided :— Military, 7,000; Moors, 2,185; Negroes, 1,874; Foreigners, 1,895; and, according to the French account, nearly 30,000 Turks were sent from Algiers after the conquest.
The Dey's palace-Executions—Moorish houses—Their Analogy to Syrian - The
British Consul-General – Political Agents - A market – Public works -- Culti-
-Colonization-Produce—Society—A ball—The Opera – Visit to a Mosque-