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noose, with the hood kept over the head, and bound round with a rope of camel's hair, which, as far as this extensive tribe wanders over the desert, is their distinguishing dress. They are a most ferocious looking race of men, generally of large size, and well made, with swarthy complexions, and straight noses ; but although muscular, they are remarkably lean, the flesh being as if dried up by the tanning influence of a powerful sun. Their black beards are short and grisly, and their eyes of extreme brilliancy, and cunning expression. The occasional visit of a few of this nomadic race, is at present the only communication the French have with the interior, so that but for the supplies of the mother country, the garrison positively would starve. After any little fracas with the natives who come thus far, and the soldiery, the market is quite deserted for several days, and the merest necessaries are obliged to be imported from Marseilles.
These Arabs are the true descendants of Ishmael, and the very signification of the word Bedawee is a fulfilment of the prophetic denunciation, “a man dwelling in a tent.” These children of the desert, in common with the other Arabs of Africa, are a resentful race, and when offended by the French intruders, frequently revenge it by sending a present to the governor of Frenchmen's heads; fifteen of which, tied up in a sack, have been left at one of the gates in a night! None of the natives are allowed to carry arms, and although I believe it is a necessary precaution, I regretted it much, for picturesqueness sake, as a Turk or Moor looks only half-dressed without his yatigan, pistols, and dagger, peeping out of the jewel-studded girdle.
The Kabyles, or Berbers, from whom the country takes the name of Barbary, are the true aborigines. They are the worst class here-low, mean, deceitful, and despised equally by all; they have been, for a series of years, the principal cultivators of the land, and vast numbers are now to be found in the city, where they generally act as porters. Their garments consist of a simple flannel tunic, reaching to the knees, a girdle, and the red turboosh, unadorned by a turban. They live chiefly in hordes, scattered over the plain, inhabiting gurbies or huts, formed of hurdles, daubed with mud; and they do not wander like the Bedawees. They have still preserved the language, and a certain degree of national character, under the Carthaginians and Romans, the Vandals, Saracens, and Turks; and the character of the Numidian answers, with little variation, throughout the
successive conquests of a Belisarius, a Barbarossa, and a Count de Bourmont.
“ In person,” says Dr. Percival Lord, “they are of the middle height; their complexion a clear brown, often verging on black, from constant exposure to the weather ; their hair dark and smooth, in some rare cases fair: they are all thin, but extremely powerful and nervous; their slender body is symmetrically formed, and presents a gracefulness and elegance, such as is now only met with in ancient statues. Their head is more globular than that of the Arabs; their features less prominent, but still sufficiently well marked ; the whole air has something wild, and even fierce; they are extremely active, and very intelligent."*
There are no Turkish ladies in Algiers, and but few Moorish females to be seen in the streets; these are invariably old and ugly; and all that you are permitted to see of flesh and blood are their red ferret eyes, peeping over the tightly drawn yashmac, or face-cover. Their wide Turkish trowsers are gathered tight round the ancles, the feet are encased in handsomely embroidered slippers; and the eyes are painted as the Jews, but the line is prolonged from the forehead down on 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 very 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. In the course of conversation he told me that 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
. For further particulars concerning the Berber race and their language, see Appendix, F.
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 naturally be expected to arrive at a great pitch of perfection in a town like this, whose walls had ears, and where a word might gain the speaker the bowstring or impalement. Thus, two Algerines meeting in the morning, inquired after the state of affairs, by twisting the extended hand on the wrist rapidly up and down. If matters were well, the palm in reply was turned up; if ill, it was turned down, and the communicants passed on their different ways in silence. The crescent, with an open hand, is engraven on a white marble slab over every gate, battery, fort, and mosque in Algiers : underneath this, the masonic sign of the double triangle, with a verse of the Koorán, or the name of Allah, in large Arabic characters, is invariably to be seen. The terror of the evil eye is also very great—and its preventative, the pointing of the middle finger, is much used by the people, and is moreover engraven on the walls ;--and a text of the Koorán, or some talismanic writing, is generally sewed up in the dress, or hung round the necks 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 recognised amongst the strata of succeeding generations. Of this large territoryextending from the river Malua, on the west, to 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 towards the south ; five hundred miles in length, and varying in breadth from fifty to two hundred
—the only parts now remaining in possession of their original owners are Tripoli and Tunis, and how long they will continue is very uncertain. Many of their manners and customs differed from those of other Mohammedan nations-being a mixture between the Turk and Arab, the Moor and the Bedawee.*
• To those who would be further informed upon the history and past condition of this most interesting country, I cannot too strongly recommend the perusal of the work of the late lamented Dr. Percival B. Lord, r Algiers, with potes of the neighbouring states of Barbary.” London. 1835. 146
POPULATION OF ALGIERS.
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 Alée. Persia is daily dwindling into insignificance ; and the hardy, conquering soldiers of a Cyrus, 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 be not the last ; and even now, it is but the diplomacy of European powers that maintains the kingdom in his hands, which keeps Russia at bay, and Ibrahim Basha from crossing the Hellespont, and knocking at the gates of Constantinople.*
Those who have at all considered, or have even been engaged in computing the numerical force of any country, must be aware of the many difficulties by which the subject is surrounded, and upon what slender data writers express their opinions on matters concerning population, and similar statistical investigations. I give, therefore, the following abstract of the number and the varieties of the inhabitants of this country, as they have been set forth by the most competent authorities, or were assured to me by creditable persons at the period of my visit in 1837.
In 1732 Dr. Shaw calculated the population of the city of Algiers at no less than 117,000 ; but this seems almost incredible within so small a space. Before the conquest, and after the plague, which carried off 20,000, it was said to be 40,000. The census taken in 1833 makes it 23,753. It is now about 30,000, of which 7,000 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 total population of the Algerine state is said to have amounted to
* Four years have now passed over us since the above passage was first printed ; and during that time we have had ample proof that, but for “the diplomacy of European powers,” Ibrahim Basha, with his conquering Syrian army, would have crossed the Hellespont, and Mohammad Alée bave sailed through the Bosphorus with the very navy of his sultan.
1,870,000, independent of the negroes, about the period of the French conquest. They were thus divided : Moors and Arabs, chiefly agriculturists and artisans, 1,200,000; Wandering Arabs and Bedawees, 400,000; Berbers, or Kabyles, 200,000 ; Jews, 30,000 ; Turks and Renegadoes, 20,000 ; and Kolooglies, their descendants, 20,000.*