« הקודםהמשך »
CLIMATE OF ALGIERS.
the former burial-ground of the Mohammadans, whose feelings have been much outraged by having their tombs and marabutts destroyed to form the material of the road.
With the climate of Algiers I was, I confess, disappointed. No doubt, in comparison with England, and the north of Europe generally, it is far superior ; but it cannot be spoken of as approaching, in any way, to that of Madeira or the Canaries. The daily temperature ranged during our stay from 57° at 9 A.m. to 63° at 3 P.M.; the average mean temperature during the day was about 60°; but the nights were cold, falling as low as 54° or 53° at 9 o'clock in the evening. The dews are very heavs, but the people all congratulate themselves upon the fineness of this season, rarely remembering a Christmas without heavy rain. In the summer, the heat rises from 850 to 90°, and it has been observed even as high as 100°, and when southerly winds prevail the climate is very trying ; the most wholesome are the north and west. The rainy season is November, and the coldest months January and February, when there frequently is a white frost on the ground in the mornings; but spring has already far advanced by the end of February, and from then to the end of June, the climate is said to be delightful.
The society and amusements, so necessary to an invalid, are not to be found here, and its present unsettled condition and want of accommodation render it by no means so attractive as other spots in the Mediterranean. You have not the same power of varying your climate as in those insular mountain countries I have already described, and the glare of the whitewashed houses is very disagreeable. I have no doubt, however, that if the French retain this country a few years longer, Algiers will be extolled as a place of repute for the invalid, especially when it possesses all the luxuries of France; besides being the only available spot on this part of the African side of the Mediterranean.
On the 26th, we crossed the bay to the river Haratoh, at the entrance to which the French have erected two forts. With much difficulty we forced the boat over the bar, and proceeded some way up this muddy stream, which was scarcely deep enough to float our yacht's gig in. The banks were clothed with underwood, willows, oleanders, reeds, and cacti ; and game of every kind was in the greatest abundance. We left our boat at a bridge some way up, and commenced our shooting excursion
A SHOOTING EXCURSION.
on the plain of Metijiah, that part of which bordering Algiers has been portioned out to the French, who so far from being able to cultivate, dare not even visit it without an armed escort! The marshes along the border literally swarm with snipe, which got up in flocks of hundreds ; but the walking was very fatiguing, being up to our knees in water, with a scorching sun overhead, and suffocated by the reeds and bushes around, which prevented us seeing twenty yards in any direction. There were red-legged partridges, larger than any I ever saw before ; plover in great quantity, a small bustard called poule de Carthage, and two descriptions of woodcock, a large and a small, bearing the same proportions to each other as the jack does to the common snipe. I inquired for, but could not hear of the double or solitary snipe being found in this part of the Barbary states. Prodigious flocks of starlings rise from the reeds ; flamingoes are occasionally got in the marshes; and I observed two or three specimens of the tinto negro here, as well as at Teneriffe, being, in all probability, a purely African bird; I saw two land-rails, and was informed that they did not emigrate. Teal, widgeon, and other waterfowl are in the greatest abundance. In the more upland country we met several chacals, (or jackals,) and also the ichneumon and porcupine ; the latter are considered a great delicacy, and exposed in the meat-markets, as at Rome. Wild boars abound in the thickets, but though we saw numerous tracks, we were not fortunate enough to meet with any. The greater part of the plain we passed over is covered with the yellow narcissus, as well as the squill and asphodel. While in the jungle, a herd of small cattle, with a fierce buffaloe aspect, started up, and completely surrounded me, bellowing loudly, pawing the ground, frisking their tails, and showing every disposition to mischief. Some Arabs in the neighbourhood, scarcely less savage in appearance, came providentially to my rescue, and beat them off. Probably no country in the world presents greater inducements to the sportsman than this. In addition to the minor game, there is said to be lion and panther shooting along the borders of the Atlas mountains, and wolves and hyenas are very common. The dromedary is a smaller and darker breed than that of the Canaries.
The rocks are chiefly micaceous schist, but the houses and public buildings are constructed principally of bricks; the French 160
ALGIERS UNDER THE FRENCH.
have, however, opened a quarry near the town. I was much struck with the ingenious manner in which the Algerines had constructed the mole. A number of large, square, wooden cases were filled with a concrete, composed of the finest mortar and stones, broken as small as those used in road-making. It remained in this state till it hardened, when the cases were removed, and the mass, which measured ten or twelve feet square, was left exposed to the air some time longer. Levers were then placed under it, and it was shoved down into the sea, without ever breaking.
It is time to ask ourselves the important questions—“What have the French done for Algiers ?—and how has its change of masters affected England ?” To the first, I think, every conscientious writer must answer, nothing. The eyes of Europe have been turned upon it for some time past, anxiously waiting the result of this vaunted conquest. The French, to be sure, have made a great noise about its capture, and their valuable possessions in the north of Africa ; but it is already beginning to appear, even to themselves, a bad speculation. No doubt they were called on to resent the insult offered to their consul, whom the Dey struck in the face with his fan, as well as other aggressions of the natives. But as to their expressions of philanthropy, and cant about abolishing slavery, it is sheer bombast and nonsense ; it being a well-known fact, that since our treaty in 1816, and subsequently enforced in 1823, there has been little or no Christian slavery in Algiers. They now have been in possession nearly eight years, during which time they have put a new lantern on the light-house-made one or two roads—widened a few of the streets—and erected a small pillar opposite the Lazaretto, to commemorate their glorious victory!! Confidence, however, has not been restored; there is no faith between the natives and the invaders; no intercourse whatever with the interior; and during the period of my visit, Abd-el-Kadir was on the hills with large bands of Arabs, threatening war unless he was allowed to have the American consul his political agent at Algiers—a trick worthy the wily Arab, who thus hoped to possess the means of ascertaining the French movements, without the chance in case of war) of his agent being obliged to depart. True it is, the towns of Boojeiah and Constantina have fallen into their hands, but are they in possession of the territories attached to
those places ? No; they have conquered the cities, but not colonized the country of Algiers. At the period of my visit, Achmet Bey, the powerful chief of Constantina, was still in existence, but his treasure (one of the greatest in the world) lay buried in the citadel of his late city, he having concealed it according to the method most approved here—by cutting off the head of the slave employed to bury it. The outlay of this colony is immense, nearly a million and a half annually—an army of 30,000 men, and an incalculable loss of life—without the return of a single franc. Even the coral fishery at Bona, one of the most valuable sources of profit, has been completely neglected ; and as yet (1844,) no return of any description has been received from this most favoured and fertile region.
By three ways could the conquest of Algiers have been made advantageous to France :
First—by opening a commerce with the interior. Secondly, by the improvement and colonization of this splendid country itself. And thirdly—by the improvement and better regulation of the coral fishery. But in no one of these have they succeeded. I shall not dwell on the atrocities committed on the inoffensive Jews and natives by the soldiery, during and since the siege. The horrors of war must always bring such, and the French have never been famed for their clemency; but nothing can justify their treatment of the people of Bona, whom they deserted, and left to the mercy of the Arabs and Kabyles, after persuading them to take up arms for France. There has not been a single manufactory established, and nothing done to better the condition or conciliate the good-will of the natives.
The French speak of the taking of Algiers as one of the proudest feats in the annals of their history. Let us now see how this was was effected, and that from the pen of their own historian,* who tells us that they fitted out an armament of 34,184 men ; and that the fleet consisted of 10 ships of the line, 24 frigates, 14 corvettes, 23 brigs, 9 gabanes, 8 bomb-boats, 4
* See the work published by Rozet, one of the officers engaged in the expedition, and now resident at Algiers. See also United Service Journal for 1830, which makes the estimate 11 ships of the line, 23 frigates, 23 brigs, 4 barges, 4 bombs, and 3 steamers, which seems quite under the mark.
THE CAMPAIGN OF 153).
sebooners, 7 steamers, and 357 transports. This fleet entered the bay in June, 1930, and landed the troops, mopposed, at a place called Sids-Ferruch, or Turretta-Chico, a small promontory some ten miles to the west of the town. The Agerines had a very inconsiderable force in the field, as the greater number of the Arabs and Bedawees, from want of pay and provisions, were totally disorganised, and returned to the mountains after a few days' service, while the Turkish army in the town and its vicinity did not at any time amount to 7,000 men. The Dey, an infatuated old man, offered comparatively little resistance, either relying upon the impregnability of his town, from the many assaults it had already successfully resisted-or worked on by his faith in predestination ; so that when asked by one of the consuls why he did not oppose the French landing, he returned for answer—" And if I did, how could I cut off all their heads ?”
The French advanced cautiously through the broken country to the town, through places where the Bedawee cavalry, the chief stay of an eastern army, could not be of any service. The works and redoubts thrown up over every inch of ground where they advanced, certainly speaks well for the caution of their leader. In about eighteen days after, they arrived near the city, and erected a battery opposite the Emperor's fort, one of the strongest works, and completely commanding the town, from which it is not half a mile distant. This was silenced after a few hours, and the thousand men it contained rushed tumultuously into the town, leaving it occupied by a couple of negroes, who gallantly sacrificed their own lives, and set fire to the magazine, which blew up with a tremendous explosion.
From that moment Algiers was in the power of the conquerors, as Fort L'Empereur and the neighbouring heights would have soon battered it to atoms. Indeed, one only wonders that the land-defences of this stronghold were so weak, as there is hardly a height in the neighbourhood by which it could not be commanded ; but a land attack was never expected, every such previous attempt having failed, principally owing to the obstacles presented by the coast itself, and the violence of the sea ; of which the unfortunate attempt of the emperor Charles V. is a well-known instance..
The Dey being at last persuaded of his imminent danger, sent in great perturbation for the English consul, who honestly told