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FRENCH AND ENGLISH ADMIRALS.
him that further resistance was impossible, and that the town must surrender. At the Dey's earnest solicitation he became the mediator; a carte blanche was forwarded through him to Bourmont, and signed by him next morning; and the French entered Algiers on the 5th of July, 1830, the Dey being allowed to remove all his personal property, amounting, it is said, to about £2,000,000 in jewels and specie. How far the property of more private individuals was respected, I shall not now say. On the Dey's departure, he presented his gold-sheathed yatagan to our consul, Mr. St. John, for his valuable services.
So far for the land attack. In the meantime the immense armament I have described was cruising in the bay, but never once ventured within range of the batteries; and although it kept up a fire, few shots ever reached the shore. “ The whole French army," writes Mr. Lord, “who, from the heights they occupied, were spectators of the entire manæuvre, cried shame on their pusillanimity.” This so emboldened the Algerines, that they sent out a couple of brigs, and two or three rotten schooners and feluccas, to attack the whole French fleet. Their going out was an instance of extraordinary daring-perhaps we might say of infatuation ; but what was still more wonderful, they came back safe and sound; so that the whole damage done by the French fleet was, according to their own official documents, estimated at seven francs and a half! And for this the admiral Duperré was made a peer of France! As Ries Omar, who commanded in the Mohammadan fleet, said to me, “An English frigate would have blown us out of the water.” The contrast is so forcible, and the result so different, that I could not help looking back on Lord Exmouth's gallant attack on this place—when the spanker-boom of the old Queen Charlotte actually knocked the pipe from the mouth of one of the Turkish artillerymen, who was sitting at a gun, fuse in hand, at the tremendous mole battery ;-and with the Dutch fleet, sustaining one of the hottest fires ever known for upwards of six hours ;- and when he had destroyed all the stores, ships, and batteries, and was knocking the town about the Dey's ears, and every thing was in his power, what was his answer to the terms of capitulation offered by the Dey: “England does not war for cities, and is unwilling to visit your personal cruelties upon the inoffensive inhabitants.”
Animosity against the French was long cherished here, and the
ADVANTAGES OF ALGIERS.
want of faith in that people was instanced so long back as 1720, in the answer of Mahomet Basha to the French consul, and which reply tells also the condition and education of an Algerine Dey“My mother sold sheep's feet, and my father sold neats' tongues, but they would be ashamed to expose for sale so worthless a tongue as thine.”
I think I have shown that the present condition of affairs here has injured English commerce. We are now at peace with France, and long may we continue to cherish the present feelings of amity towards so brave and enlightened a nation ; there is, however, a possibility of our being again at war, and then Algiers would be a very dangerous post in the Mediterranean; and if it be true that the French have long coveted Port Mahon, in the island of Minorca, standing midway between this place and Marseilles, their position would be doubly dangerous, as a line of communication would be then formed across this part of the Mediterranean, thus separating Gibraltar from Malta, our two most important stations, and materially interrupting our communication with India, whether by the Red Sea or the Euphrates.
With all this, Algiers has its use. The soirees at Paris sing the praises of Mareschal Bourmont; it forms a pabulum for public excitement, so necessary to the existence of a Frenchman; and may serve to keep down the fever of another revolution. It is the “ refugium peccatorum” of all France ; its wonders swell the pages of the Revue Afrique, and it gives something more to think about than inventing infernal machines, or cutting the throat of the citizen-king, to say nothing of its influence on the all-important subject of dress, as appears from a late number of the Petit Courier des Dames, which observes, that “the taste of the Parisian dandies is more warlike than that of the ladies, the favourite colours being 'Abd-el Kader,' 'sand of the desert, and 'gris d'Afrique.'”.
This great conquest reminds me strongly of the story of the canny Scot, who, having sold a horse to his friend, and the money being paid, was requested to tell the purchaser if he had any faults, “Why, he has gotten but jist twa,” said he ; "the first is, that when tumed out to graze, he's no very easily cacht.” “Oh! as to that,” replied the friend, “I can easily manage itbut the other ?” “Why, the other is, that when he is catched, he's no worth a bawbee."
In concluding the few observations I made during my short stay in this delightful country, I must say, that the foregoing remarks are not dictated in an unfriendly spirit; my only feeling is that of regret, that where so wide, so inviting a field for improvement was opened, so little has been effected; but the prospect, however imperfect, of civilizing this country, is cheering; science will, no doubt, be benefitted, the collections of the Jardin des Plants enriched, and means may be afforded to reach the interior, or penetrate beyond the Atlas, a region which, in a great measure, is still to us a terra incognita.
The Coast of Sicily-Marsala-Quarantine~Medusæ—Their powers of sight-Cuvier-A dolphin hunt-Arrival at Malta—Harbour of La Valetta-Departure from Malta-CandiaShores of Egypt.
DECEMBER 28.—We stood across the bay, and bade farewell to Algiers. As the evening of the first of January approached, we neared the coast of Sicily, which at some distance appeared a collection of separate islands, the extreme lowness of the shore in some places between the mountains giving rise to this delusion. We were now beginning to experience the exhilarating influence of a warmer atmosphere, and to witness and appreciate the glowing beauties of a Claude Lorraine sky, and the varying tints of a Mediterranean sunset. The lower animals seemed to feel the animation imparted by returning spring, as the sea was now alive with myriads of its many-hued mollusca, that during the noon-tide heat rose to the surface; and at night the crest of every wave was fringed with the metallic lustre of phosphoric light.
The island of Maretimo and the town of Marsala we passed within view, and shaped our course towards Malta, but during the next two days the whole appearance of the weather changed ; the sky became clouded, dark, and louring, and the wind cold and variable.
On the morning of the 3rd, the wind was “ dead on end," after which it came on to blow so hard that, although nearly half-way to Malta, we were forced to run back, and anchor in the roadstead of Marsala, to escape the fury of a blast which seemed as if each wayward sister had risen from her Scottish heath, and sent a wind to drive us from our course.
Viewed from our present position, this place had a cold, bleak appearance, probably increased by the effects of the late gale.
A good harbour is much wanting here, and could be formed without incurring any very great expense, by raising and joining the present break-water to the shore opposite the wharf.
The vessels lying here were mostly English, engaged in the wine trade, which is the only commerce of the place. Wishing to visit the town and the neighbouring quarries, we applied for permission to land. After some hours' delay a board of health, composed of the butchers, bakers, and barbers of the town, made their appearance at the lazaretto, and hearing that we had but just arrived from Barbary, appeared particularly horrified at the thought of admitting so much plague and pestilence amongst them, and consequently imposed a quarantine of twenty-one days upon us; at the same time, each member of the board kindly informed us of his trade or occupation, and solicited our patronage during our captivity. We procured some provisions, and remained at anchor, ready to go to sea the moment the wind favoured.
As far as I have yet seen or heard, I know of few stations that offer a greater field of interest and profit to the marine naturalist, than Marsala and the coast of Sicily generally. Today (Jan. 4) the water is literally swarming with medusæ of all shapes and colours, but more particularly the beautiful pink and blue rhizostomata. These extraordinary animals surrounded the vessel in such quantities, that several could be captured at one haul of a bucket. By the alternate expansion and contraction of their umbrella-shaped tops, they progress through the water in a slanting direction, generally about a foot from the surface; but what struck me as remarkable was, that they possess an undoubted perception of objects even at some distance ;* for in swimming or floating around us, they with great caution avoided
* The acalephæ, in which this sense was most apparent, were the cyanea labiche ; and this perception of objects arose not only from the percussion of the water, by any thing thrown into it, but also from any piece of rope or pole held steadily in their way. Professor Ehrenberg has already shown that certain modifications of eyes exist in other members of the medusa family, particularly the medusa aurita. In all probability, these creatures possess the very first and simplest form of optical apparatus; and in some of this tribe Müller has demonstrated an eye composed of an expanded nerve, vitrious humour, and a choroid coat.