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Of the tribe of reptiles, in Marocco, the most remarkable is the famous Boa Constrictor :
The Boah, or desert Snake, is an enormous monster, from twenty to eighty feet long, as thick as a man's body, and of a dingy colour: this inhabitant of Sahara is not venomous, though it is not less destructive the Arabs (speaking of it figuratively,) affirm, that as it passes along the desert it fires the ground with the velocity of its motion. It is impossible to escape it; it will twist itself round an ox, and after crushing its bones, will swallow it gradually, after which it lies supinely on the ground two or three days, unable to proceed till the animal be digested. Two of these monsters stationed themselves near the road from Marocco to Terodant, near to the latter city, a few years since; one of them was killed, the other, remained there several days, and prevented travellers from passing the road; they were both young ones, being about twenty feet long. Various stories are related by the Arabs of Sahaia respecting the Boahs; but they are mostly ingenious fables, originally intended to. inculcate some moral truth, or trait of human nature, which, by the embellishments of tradition, added to the credulity of the Arabs, are now related as facts. Without speaking of all the various kinds of serpents which are either timid, harmless, or not venomous, I must observe, that
The Domestic Serpents claim some attention. In the city of Marocco these animals abound; there is scarcely a house without its domestic serpent, which is sometimes seen moving along the roofs of the apartments; they are never molested by the family, who would not hurt them on any consideration, conceiving them a benediction on the household; they have been known to suck the breasts of wo men whilst asleep, and retire without offering any further injury. They are so susceptible as to be sensible of enmity towards them, and it is thought imprudent to incur their displeasure; for this reason the inhabitants of Marocco treat them kindly, and as members of the fa-. mily, not wishing to disturb an animal that claims the rights of hos pitality by settling in their house."
The Population of the Empire of Marocco considerably exceeds the amount which has hitherto been supposed, being fifteen millions. The principal cities are, Fas, (commonly called Fez,) containing 380,000 inhabitants; Marocco, the Imperial residence, 270,000; and Mequinas, 110,000.- Next to these in population is Terodant, an inland town with 25,000 inhabitants; and, on the coast, Rabat, 25,000; Sallee, 18,000; Tetuan, 16,000; Saffy, 12,000; and Mogodor, 10,000.
The City of Marocco is situated in a fertile plain, interspersed with groves of lofty palm trees, and bounded on the East by the snowy mountains of Atlas, distant from the city about thirty miles. It was built in 1052, and bears marks of having been more extensive and flourishing in former ages than it is at present. The ruins of decayed houses encumber the
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streets, and form an impediment to cleanliness. rounded by very thick walls, made of a cement of lime and sandy earth, put in cases, and beaten together with square rammers. The atmosphere here is very healthy, the Atlas mountains defending the city from the Shume or hot wind' of the desert. Marocco is properly, the capital of the southern division of the Empire; and the capital of the northern division is Mequinas, which city stands in a beautiful valley about sixty miles inland from Sallee: but its interior is not equal to the environs, the streets not being paved, and mud consequently accumulating in the rainy season. The inhabitants are extremely hospitable; their manners are mild; and the beauty of the women is renowned throughout the Empire.
Fas, or Fez, is both more populous and more antient than either of the cities which we have mentioned, having been founded in the year 786. In opulence, however, it is not equal to them. The houses have flat roofs, covered with terras, on which the inhabitants spread carpets in summer to enjoy the cool breezes of the evening; they are large buildings; and in the centre of each is an open quadrangle surrounded by a gallery, which communicates with the stair-case, and into which the doors of the different apartments open. The principal houses have cisterns under them, to hold the water used in the baths. In the city are nearly two hundred caravanseras, or inns, each three stories high, and containing between fifty and a hundred apartments but in these apartments consists the whole accommodation afforded by the inn-keeper, the traveller carrying his own bedding along with him, and buying his provisions out of doors. Each trade or profession has a separate department of the city assigned to it. In one quarter are seen the offices of notaries; in another, stationers; in a third, shoemakers; here is a fruit market, and there are wax chandlers. -Terodant is an antient town, situated to the southward, in the province or kingdom of Suse, of which it was formerly the capital. It has considerably decreased in population, and is now famous only for the manufacture of saltpetre, and of leather.
All these towns are in the interior of the country. The principal places on the coast, commencing from the North, are Tetuan, Ceuta, Tangier, Sallee, Rabat, Azamor, El Woladia, Saffy, Mogodor, and Agadeer, or Santa Cruz. Tetuan is convenient as a naval station, where a fleet may lie in safety while watering and victualling; Ceuta belongs to Spain; Tangier affords a supply of provisions to Gibraltar, and a station to Moorish pirates; Sallee is a walled town, but with a decaying harbour; Rabat, in its neighbourhood, a REY. OCT. 1809. O
populous place with some trade; Azamor, a healthy town, but ill adapted to trade; El Woladia, a spacious harbour, the entrance to which ought to be improved; Saffy, an unhealthy place in a confined situation. The next harbour is that of Mogodor, a town subsisting entirely by commerce, and built with more regularity than any other place in the Empire. It is fortified, and capable of making considerable resistance either on the land or the sea-side. The houses being all of stone, and white, the town has a beautiful appearance from a distance. It is the principal commercial port of the Moors on the Atlantic, and the only one which maintains a regular inter course with Europe. To the southward of Mogodor is Agadeer, or Santa Cruz, the last port in the Emperor's dominions, with a safe and capacious roadstead. It might be a place of great trade with the interior of Africa, were it not a part of the tyrannical policy of the government of Marocco to discourage this town, on account of its distance from their influence. Beyond Santa Cruz, says Mr. Jackson, we find no port that is frequented by shipping, but a tract of coast which holds out great encouragement to commercial enterprize, and on which secure establishments might be effected.
National Manners.-The inhabitants of the Empire of Marocco may be divided into four classes, Moors, Arabs, Berebbers, and Shelluhs. They are thus described by Mr. Jackson :
The Moors are the descendants of those who were driven out of Spain; they inhabit the cities of Marocco, Fas, Mequinas, and all the coast towns, as far southward as the province of Haha. Their language is a corrupt Arabic intermixed with Spanish.
The Arabs have their original stock in Sahara, from whence they emigrate to the plains of Marocco, whenever the plague, famine, or any other calamity depopulates the country so as to admit of a new colony, without injuring the territory of the former inhabitants. These Arabs live in tents, and speak the language of the Koran, somewhat corrupted. They are a restless and turbulent people, con tinually at war with each other: in one province a rebellious kabyle, or clan, will fight against a neighbouring loyal one, and will thus plunder and destroy one another, till, fatigued by the toils of war, they mutually cease, when, the next year perhaps, the rebellious clan will be found fighting for the Emperor against the former loyal one, now become rebellious. This plan of setting one tribe against another is an act of policy of the Emperor, because if he did not, in this manner, quell the broils continually breaking out amongst them, he would be compelled, in order to preserve tranquillity in his domi nions, to employ his own army for that purpose, which is generally occupied in more important business.
The Berebbers inhabit the mountains of Atlas north of the city of Marocco, living generally in tents; they are a robust, nervous people, having a language peculiar to themselves, which differs more from
the Arabic, or general language of Africa, than any two languages of Europe differ from each other; it is probably a dialect of the ancient Carthaginian. In travelling through the Berebber Kabyles of Ait Imure, and Zemure Shelluh, I noticed many who possessed the old Roman physiognomy. The general occupation of these people is husbandry, and the rearing of bees for honey and wax.
The Shellubs inhabit the Atlas mountains, and their various branches south of Marocco; they live generally in towns, and are, for the most part, occupied in husbandry like the Berebbers, though differing from them in their language, dress, and manners; they live almost entirely on (Assoua) barley-meal made into gruel, and barley roasted or granulated, which they mix with cold water, when travelling this is called Zimeta. They occasionally indulge in cuscasoe, a nutritive farinaceous food, made of granulated flour, and afterwards boiled by steam, and mixed with butter, mutton, fowls, and vegetables. Many families among these people are reported to be descended from the Portuguese, who formerly possessed all the ports on the coast; but who, after the discovery of America, gradually withdrew thither.'
The Moorish dress resembles that of the ancient patriarchs, as represented in paintings; that of the men consists of a red cap and turban, a (Kumja) shirt, which hangs outside of the drawers, and comes down below the knee, a (Caftan) coat, which buttons close before, and down to the bottom, with large open sleeves; over which, when they go out of doors, they throw carelessly, and sometimes elegantly, a hayk or garment of white cotton, silk, or wool, five or six yards long, and five feet wide: the Arabs often dispense with the caftan, and even with the shirt, wearing nothing but the hayk.'—
The people of this empire being born subjects of an arbitrary des pot, they may be said to have no established laws; they know no other than the will of the prince, and if this should deviate, as it sometimes does, from the moral principles laid down in the Koran, it must be obeyed. Where the Emperor resides, he administers justice, in person, generally twice, and sometimes four times a week, in the (M'shoire) place of audience, whither all complaints are carried: here access is easy; he listens to every one, foreigners or subjects, men or women, rich or poor; there is no distinction, every one has a right to appear before him, and boldly to explain the nature of his case; and although his person is considered as sacred, and established custom obliges the subject to prostrate himself and to pay him rather adoration than respect, yet every complainant may tell his story without the least hesitation or timidity; indeed, it any one is abashed, or appears diffident, his cause is weakened in proportion. Judgment is always prompt, decisive, plausible, and generally cor.
Whatever may be the kind of justice thus administered to those who have little to lose, it is clear that a tribunal, in which the will of the judge forms the law, must be replete with danger to those whose property is an object of temptation. Accordingly, the Emperor exercises an absolute despotism over his
Bashaws and Alkaids, who in their turn domineer with equal rapacity over his subjects at large; and when they learn, by means of their spies, that an individual has acquired considerable property, they contrive a cause of accusation for the purpose of extorting money from him. Such a mode of government is fatal to all virtue among the people. It renders them suspicious, deceitful, and cruel; strangers to every social tie, and even to the affections of kindred; the father distrusting the son, and the son fearing the father. The vices of sensuality are carried to a great excess among them; and so far are they from having any consciousness of their degradation and ignorance, compared with other nations, that they consider themselves as the first people in the world, and contemptuously term all others barbarians. Happily, however, exceptions to this general character may be found, many individuals giving evidence of feelings above the ordinary level of their countrymen; and fortitude under adversity is a characteristic possessed by this nation in a high degree. The Moor may be said never to despair; no bodily suffering, no calamity, makes him complain; he is resigned in all things to the will of God, and waits in patient hope for an amelioration of his condition.
Hereditary distinctions are unknown among the Moors; by birth they are all equal; and they admit no difference of rank except such as is derived from official employments, on the resignation of which the occupant mixes again with the common class of citizens. Mr. Jackson thus represents their
The Moors are, for the most part, more cleanly in their persons, than in their garments. They wash their hands before every meal, which, as they use no knives or forks, they eat with their fingers: half a dozen persons sit round a large bowl of cuscasoe, and, after the usual ejaculation (Bismillah) "In the name of God!" each person puts his hand to the bowl, and taking up the food, puts it by a dexterous jerk, into his mouth, without suffering his fingers to touch the lips. However repugnant this may be to our ideas of cleanliness, yet the hand being always washed, and never touching the mouth in the act of eating, these people are by no means so dirty as Europeans have sometimes hastily imagined. They have no chairs or tables in their houses, but sit cross-legged on carpets and cushions; and at meals, the dish or bowl of provisions is placed on the floor.
The women are, not less cleanly than the men; for besides performing the usual ablutions before and after meals, they wash their face, hands, arms, legs, and feet, two or three times a day, which contributes greatly to heighten their beauty. The poorer classes, however, look deplorable, and excite disgust. The faces of the old women appear shrivelled, from the immoderate use of cosmetics and paint during their youth.'