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nor have hindered the little Christian dogs from running close to the bed-side of the patient. The Moorish ladies were not handsome; their faces were too heavy, though not ill cut; and their hair is very ugly, being plaited in long tails, and the front locks cut short, like a charity child's, and reaching mid-day down the cheek. Their dress had also a tawdry effect: in rich stuffs of woollen or silk it might have been handsome, but in thin materials the folds crumple and look shabby. I remember particularly one young lady in full pink muslin trousers, and thinking how far she was from realizing our Oriental dreams of feminine beauty and costume. The truth is, that many of the staple articles of Moorish
dress now come from Lyons and Manchester! I have no
doubt that the pink muslin trousers wercnative to the latter unpicturesque locality; and I have seen gay handkerchiefs of woollen and cotton sold in the bazaars of Tunis, which were undoubtedly due to the same ingenious looms.
The lady traveller who cares to penetrate into the inner life of those mysterious houses of Algiers, of which I have endeavoured to give my readers an external impression, should cultivate acquaintance with Madame Luce, than whom no Algerine resident will be found more intelligent and polite. Madame Luce is a stout, sunny-faced French woman, who has opened a school where more than a hundred little Moresques are learning reading, especially French writing, arithmetic, and various kinds of. needlework and embroidery. She inhabits a fine old Moorish house, in the very heart of Algiers, and the story of her life is as romantic as its achievements are remarkable. She came to the colony thirty years ago, and was at first a private governess; but as time went on, and she realised the social degradation of the women of Moorish families, she set her heart on founding a school for the education of little Moorish girls. Her facilities were indeed few. She had acquired the Arabic language, and was intimate in several Mussulman households; but she was poor, and a widow (her name was then Madame Allix), and the enterprise was entirely novel. Government had already established schools for instructing native boys in French, under a system by which each scholar received two francs a month for attendance: but these institutions were not flourishing. The Mahometans entertained a great dread of religious proselytism, more particularly if Catholic priesthood had any share in the work. As to the girls, nobody ever thought of them, except in such cases (rare, and only connected with charity,) in which they fell under the eye of the Sisters of Charity.
Madame Luce (I use her present name to avoid confusion) began her scheme of action in 1845 (fifteen years after the conquest),by endeavouring to persuade theMoorish fathers and mothers to entrust their little girls to her for a few hours a day, that they might be taught to read and write French and to sew neatly—an accomplishment in which Moresques arc as deficient as in Latin and mathematics. She coaxed and entreated, made solemn promises not to interfere with the religion of the children—without which assurance, and its being believed, she would not have got one pupil—and at length, by tact, energy, and a few presents, she got together four little girls—such little girls, if they were like the present scholars whom I saw—dressed in full trousers and jackets, their hair twisted into long pigtails behind, and tightly bound with green ribbon, a-top of which were little caps of velvet, embroidered with gold thread. The nails of their little hands were tinged with henna, and their legs, perfectly bare from the knee to the ankle, were finished off with anklets and slippers—stockings being apparently unknown. Imagine four young objects thus attired, densely ignorant, and choked up with prejudices, brought to her swaddled up in veils by their mothers or an old servant, either of which would be equally invisible, save for a slit under the brow, permitting two black eyes to pick their way up and down the labyrinthine streets. Upon these four she set to work without delay; and by degrees, as a rumour of the school spread from household to household, by means doubtless of the morning calls which the Moorish ladies make from house to house, by stepping, like cats, from roof to roof, the school increased to thirty or forty pupils. Madame Luce then applied to the local Government for the same support which it afforded to schools for boys, on the plea that it was in vain to try and civilize the population of Algiers, while the mothers of the next generation were left in ignorance and degradation. But the Algerine officials could not be brought to see any good in educating women; and though they complimented Madame Luce on her energy, they declined giving her any money. What was to be done? Her slender purse was exhausted, and the expenses were heavy; the children had to be bribed to come, the poorer ones to be helped with food and clothes. Then there was the hire of the school-room and the purchase of school books; and though her moral aims were answering, she could not make both ends meet, and there seemed no resource but to close the school,—and on New Year's Day, 1846, the school was closed. This undaunted woman then actually resolved on a trip to Paris, across nine hundred miles of sea and land; and she straightway pawned her little plate, her trinkets, and a gold thimble given her by a friend, and started off for the capital, which she reached early in February, and there she at once memorialised the Minister of War, visited the most influential deputies, and by dint of indefatigable repro sentations saw daylight break upon the sympathizing official mind. The Parisian authorities behaved handsomely, defrayed the cost of her journey, and urged her to return at once to her work, promising aid. She obeyed, and reached Algiers in June, where she reopened her school amidst great rejoicings from parents and children. 13ut seven months elapsed before the Home Government really fulfilled its promises, and she had often much ado to meet expenses from day to day. The Cure of Algiers gave her a little money and much sympathy; and Comte Guyot, a man high in office, helped her from his private purse; and at length, in the beginning of 1847, the dark days were over: her school was fairly adopted by Government, its expenses were defrayed, and a proper salary allotted to herself. In 1857 the school numbered 120 pupils of all ages, from four years old to eighteen. I visited it three times. On the first occasion the children were eating their dinners, which they had brought with them; on the second^ they were all writing—some making pothooks in large text, and others writing from French dictation, in a small, bad, running hand. The main object is to teach them French, so as to put them in communication with Europeans; and the Arabic race display a remarkable facility in acquiring that language. I have heard Moors speak it with the most perfect case and the purest accent. The third time the whole school was sewing—making white towels and green cotton frocks. Madame Luce pays great attention to the sewing, and to such industrial education as she can find means to impart, for the Mahometan woman has no means of gaining a respectable livelihood by her own exertions; and this deficiency is a grievous plague-spot in society, as may be easily conceived. At the Great Exposition in Paris, in 1855, Madame Luce gained a first and second class medal for work done in her establishment. Among the specimens was a set of dolls, carefully dressed in native costume, many of which were executed by a poor deaf and dumb girl, whose lot, but for Madame Luce, would have been deplorable. The school possesses a Moorish assistant, who has passed a regular examination and taken out her diploma. Tins young woman dresses in French costume, except when she walks out with her mother, in conformity with whose feelings she then wears a veil.
I must now draw my reminiscences to a close. They have been presented in a desultory form, yet will, perhaps, carry my readers in imagination to the wild and beautiful colony, which will for ever remain deeply impressed on the memory of one who has once beheld it. I have spoken only of Algiers itself, but I had a cursory view of a considerable extent of country. In company with a lady, who has since married and taken up her permanent residence in the neighbourhood of the town, I travelled by diligence sixty miles into the interior. Our first day's journey led us oyer the broad plain of the Meltidja, which separates the Atlas mountains from the Sahel—a range of hills bordering upon the coast. This plain, a hundred miles in length, and from thirty to forty in breadth, was once the granary of Rome: it is now a vast tract of desolate land, overgrown by dwarf palm, where the colon is struck down by deadly malaria, if he neglect, in the slightest degree, the minute precautions enjoined by medical advice. Occasionally the diligence rumbles heavily past a hooded Arab, tending a flock of sheep or small brown cattle, wandering at will upon the trackless turf. Such was the Chaldean shepherd who watched the stars in the plains by night, such was Moses when he sojourned forty years in the wilderness, and David, when as yet an uncrowned boy he kept his father's flocks. From age to age this eastern people, close kindred to the great nations of antiquity, sacred and profane, have presented their aspects and their customs unchanged. They preceded the Roman civilization, and remain watching their cattle now that the Roman civilization has passed away from the face of the land! It will take the partial sacrifice of a generation of colonists to redeem the land over which the Arabs have so long wandered at will. I have seen one hundred men lying in the malaria ward of the civil hospital at Algiers, and the disease, though not considered infectious, is of so deadly a nature, that the constitution, once impregnated with its fatal poison, is usually broken for life.
At Blidah, a small garrison town at the foot of the Atlas, we slept the first night. The mountains rise to a sublime wall, parallel with the length of the vast plain, barring out the interior of Africa from the rest of the world. Our second day's journey took us to the farthest point inland to which we penetrated, to Medeah, a town high up in the mountains, gained by a long day's ascent up a road which rivalled the Simplon for grandeur and engineering perfection; but, instead of coming, as among the Italian Alps, to a fair and fertile descent, we reached at sunset a billowy table land, and a strongly fortified town, and the remains of a Roman aqueduct pressed into service as part of the wall. How clear and yellow shone the western light through tho double arches as we drove into the town!
On this excursion I was out nearly a week; and later in the year, when I had left Algiers, my friends penetrated ten days' journey inland, as far as the " Great Cedar Forest." My homeward route lay along the coast to Tunis, and from thence across to Genoa, in a rolling tub miscalled a steamer, being no other than that famous vessel the " Cagliari," which some months later set Europe in a ferment, heing seized first by Italian insurgents, and afterwards by the Neapolitan government—to the great trouble of the poor old captain, and of " Watt and Davis," the sturdy British engineers.
I landed successively at Bougia, at Philippeville, and at Bona— outposts of French civilization. How bright and lovely was Bona on that sunny Sunday morning! the church bells ringing sweetly once more over that wild African shore, once the bishopric of St. Augustine.
At Tunis—which, liko Morocco, must eventually fall under European domination—I found a low, flat-roofed town, built on a plain about ten miles from ancient Carthage: the streets were soft with fathomless dust; the sun poured fiercely down in a blinding blaze on the 17th of March; and the few European residents were quarrelling among themselves with a scandalous intensity, only to be excused by their being nine days' post from London, and having little or nothing to do, and not a book-shop of any sort in the town.
One night only I slept in the quaint Moorish inn kept by a French landlord, and sailed for Italy the next day at noon. It was in the tender mists of a soft yellow sunset that the beautiful hills of Africa faded away from my yearning eyes.
SUNNY DAYS AT OXFORD.
A Pleasant thought was that of Mrs. Beecher Stowe, when she entitled the recollections of her first visit to the "old world,"—that region "outre-mer," so full of attractions in its hoar antiquity, to the inhabitant of newly-found America—" Sunny Memories;" for such indeed are the thoughts that arise when we call to mind some scene, not only marked by great natural beauty, but by crowded associations of the suggestive and picturesque past. Among many such memories, one now rises vividly before us,—the "sunny" days which wc some time ago spent in Oxford.
"Oxford! only fifty-five miles from London by the old stage-coach road, and within a two hours' journey now," cry tourists, who can see nothing at all worth looking at unless five hundred miles from their own doors. "Oxford !" contemptuously repeats the admirer of all that is modern. "Oxford!" the hereditary abode, as Gibbon declared, of