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VISIT TO A MOSQUE.
longed, would meet at the ground. The floor was matted as well as the pillars, and a magnificent crimson carpet ran along the principal side—the centre of which was Kiblah (or mehrab)—the sacred spot—the holy of holies—a small semi-circular space like a niche left in the wall, matted and carpeted, but without any thing whatever within. No image, no ornament or decoration of any kind is in this place, which faces Mekeh, and where the immediate presence of the Deity is supposed to reside, and none enters its precincts. On the wall, on either side of this, are hung tablets, with verses of the Kooran or the name of Allah inscribed in large characters upon them; and beneath these sat two remarkable old moolahs reciting the Kooran. In front of them was a number of youths forming a semicircle, squatted on their toes and knees, repeating the responses in a loud though not unpleasing chime, prostrating themselves, and touching the ground with their foreheads, whenever they mentioned the name of Allah. Throughout the building were scattered individuals praying beside the pillars in deep devation. The chanting of the boys is kept up during the ramadan ; this latter is really a fast, a privation, compared with that of other religious sects, as from sunrise to sunset they never taste a morsel. They deny themselves the greatest luxury, that of smoking; nay even a pinch of snuff, or a drink of water, unless in a case of extreme urgency. The only ornaments of any description
within this building, were its numerous lamps, hung by chains from the roof, and a number of ostrich eggs, the usual adornment. They hold the second commandment to the letter, and the graven image of any thing having life is their greatest abhorrence. This has often accounted for the destruction of many a valuable antique, when mere wantonness has been attributed to them. An instance occurred to me in proof of this; I was informed by a friend of a handsome white marble bust, said to have been dug up here some time ago, and in possession of one of the Moors. I hastened to the spot and requested permission to see it, but its late owner told me that " thank Allah” he had just broken it up for lime. . The images in the French places of worship excite their contempt as well as their hatred ; and in speaking to us of the English and their religion they put their fore-fingers together, intimating that they are alike ; a compliment some of our divines would not be very willing to receive. They have no faith in the French, and the Turk being proverbial for doing what he says, they often quoted to us the Persian proverb—“An Englishman never tells a lie.”
The external architecture of the Algerine mosques is perfectly plain, and the minarets are simple square towers, without any of that beautiful stalactitelike adornment I afterwards saw in Egypt, and throughout the East
Nothing can exceed the incongruous mixture of
nations, tongues, people, and costumes, that Algiers at this moment presents. Turks, Moors, Arabs, Bedawees, Kabyles, Jews, and Negroes, of the former inhabitants; all huddled together with French, Spaniards, Germans, Italians, Maltese, Poles, and Genoese. The colour and expression of the different countenances vary from the fair French or German, to the tawny Bedawee or Kabyle, or the shining black of Timbuctoo. Perhaps no two nations more opposite in character could have come in contact with each other than the gay volatile Frenchman, and the grave, phlegmatic, taciturn Turk—the contrast reminds one of a monkey riding on a bear.
One day we visited Moostapha Basha, the son of the last Dey but one; he received us kindly, but is a silent old man, and seemed particularly cautious in speaking about the French. His house is one of the finest in Algiers, but his hareem being still in existence we were unable to procure admittance farther than the usual reception-room. The few Mohammadans of distinction here are difficult of access now, as during the ramadan they confine themselves to their houses,
to their houses, engaged in their devotions.
Port dues are very high, and the duty on English goods, in particular, is raised to eight and some even to sixteen per cent. Still we undersell all, and our manufactures, especially of soft goods, are preferred by the natives. I made accurate inquiry into this matter, and find that the French conquest has mate
rially injured the trade we formerly had here. Had the French made it a free port for even a few years, it would certainly have been much to the advantage both of the town and colony. But peculation is the order of the day ; each person in authority taking off what he can lay hold on. This may account, in some measure, for there having been no less than seven governors since the conquest seven years ago, and at this moment there are two French generals under arrest for exacting illegal taxes in the provinces ; and one has just arrived, and is now in prison, it is said for entering into a league with Achmet Bey to assist in restoring to him Constantina, the site of so much hidden wealth !! and it was only at the intercession of an Englishman that an officer was saved from the pillory, prior to being sent to the galleys for scraping silver off five franc pieces !!
The civil hospital is small and crowded to excess. The principal diseases now are intermittent fevers, caught from the miasma of the plains. It is of all types, quotidian, tertian, and quartertian, and sometimes what is called a pernicious or irregular rigour will carry off the patient suddenly. It is remarkable, that although some get well for the time being, and health seems perfectly restored, yet are they liable to relapses again and again, often after an interval of several months, and that without any fresh exposure
to infection. Diarrhæas, anasarca, subacute dropsies, and enormous enlarge
ment of the spleen, are the usual sequents of this disease, which is the principal epidemic of the country, and by which the French have lost great numbers, especially on the out-stations. The treatment consists in quinine, given in exceedingly large doses, even to twenty grains; and at times this has the effect of completely cutting short the malady. Continued fevers are fortunately of rare occurrence, and I did not see four cases of ophthalmia. Innoculation has been long practised by the natives. Some diseases have been introduced by the French, which were almost unknown before ; when these did occur they were of mild character, and the natives treated them on the purest antiphlogistic system, keeping the patients on raisins and water for thirty days. I learn that perfect success attended this practice.
The military hospital is an immense establishment, and beautifully situated in the former garden of the Dey, about a mile from the town, near the
Besides the numbers here suffering under the wounds and operations resulting from the late attack on Constantina, were many labouring under the fever of the plain. It was admirably clean, airy, and well regulated, and has around it the finest orange groves in this neighbourhood. A portion is set apart for the officers. The Sisters of Charity act as nurses, and are highly serviceable among the sick. "On my way to it the road led from Bab-elOuetta gate, through the former burial-ground of the Mohammadans, whose feelings have been much