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which a traveller would have walked there within the memory of living man. The old Moors who sit crossed legged on their shopboards, muttering anathemas against the “son of a dog" who bargains and pays double price for their silks and slippers, saw sights and heard sounds at which our Christian flesh would quiver on its bones, and are the inheritors of the ugly traditions of 300 years of piracy. These Moors must not be confounded with the Turks; Moors are the native town population ; they are domiciled Arabs, but their blood is not pure. The Turks who were conquered and expelled in 1830, were a race foreign to Algeria, and during their long dominion never really amalgamated with the population. It is said, that when the Fort l'Empereur which commands the town gave way, and Algiers itself (being utterly defenceless when its outworks were in possession of the invaders) capitulated to the French General, a stipulation was made and enforced that no private house should be entered,-otherwise a universal sack would have been inevitable, as the Mahometans would have fought to the death before allowing their women to be seen. The Turks filed out of the military quarters of the town, and the French filed in ; Algiers itself being otherwise undisturbed ; and the Moors who sat in their shops that day, drinking coffee, smoking their pipes, and reciting their devotions as usual, never even turned their heads to look! It cannot be denied that they have gained by the exchange of masters, for the atrocious stories one hears of the administration of injustice under the Deys, are enough to make the blood run cold.
The town itself is one of the most singular places the imagination can conceive, and would well repay the trouble of a photographer. I tried in vain to get good photographs when there; there were none to be had, except one great panoramic view, taken not from the sea, but from one of the higher buildings, and in which the violent foreshortening therefore precluded any just estimate of its extraordinary plan. "Red Algiers" is built upon one of a range of steep hills which drop close upon the margin of the sea. Those hills which immediately command the town are from 120 to 480 feet in height, but they rise behind it in a great mass, of which the highest point is 1,230 above the level of the sea. The lower eminences are composed of granite and sandy gravel, of a reddish brown colour; hence, probably, the epithet "red" applied to it in olden times. They are traversed by deep ravines, rich in vegetation; gullies, each of which is a water-course in the wet season, and where immense ferns, bulbous plants, and flowering shrubs nestle under the olive and the ilex and many other trees, among which the lentisk figures prominently. The day I landed I was taken a walk up one of these gullies; it had
been raining heavily on shore the previous night, and the vegetation was of a blazing green, if I may be allowed to use such an expression. I was so dizzy with four days' rolling on the Mediterranean in the stormy season, that I could hardly see; but a confused perception filled my mind during that week that everything was bigger, steeper, greener, and more rejoicing at Algiers than elsewhere, and this impression was fully confirmed by my after experience of what is called the “rainy season.” Now, on just such a hill as those which rise in rugged loveliness on each side of the town, is the town itself built; not the slightest compromise has been attempted with the surrounding geology. There is, indeed, a narrow strip of ground between the hill and the port large enough for a wide “Place du Governement," and two streets shooting east and west along the sea. On this strip the Romans built their “ Icosium,” and Roman antiquities have been discovered while digging for foundations. But when this is once crossed, in less than five minutes, straight before you, rises the hill. Is it possible that the immense population of Algiers live up there? Yes, there they live much like puffins in a rock. But how can any vehicle go up and down? The answer is easy; no vehicle can get up or down. You may drive along the bottom of Algiers to the foot of a street, and there begin your ascent; or you may wind up the magnificent French road outside the town till you come down upon it from above, and begin your descent; but if you wish to ride about in the midst of that labyrinth of streets, you must sit upon a donkey, and not scream or faint when your donkey trots up and down steps which are quite steep enough to shake Christian nerves. Neither must you be alarmed if you come in sudden and violent contact with other donkeys, loaded with vegetables and fruit, and driven at full speed by barelegged Arabs, shouting and screaming at the top of their lungs.
The town, then, may be generally and not unfairly described as being chiefly up and down steps, the lateral streets being the only flat surface to be seen; the ascending ones varying between a slope that breaks off into a flight of stairs, and a slope that only takes away your breath. Between these narrow alleys (no wider in their widest parts than Paternoster Row) the houses, closely packed and wedged together, rise step upon step, terrace upon terrace. The court of a Moorish dwelling being generally in the interior of the square of rooms, no space is lost, as in our modern towns; a voyager in a balloon, looking down upon Algiers, would see these courts dotting the town like the cells of a honeycomb, or the spots of an immense backgammon board ; but from below they are of course invisible, and from above they are so much foreshortened, that the eye can only perceive the ones immediatel
contiguous to the house on which the spectator is standing; while to the pedestrian, who threads the private streets, it is for all intents and purposes as if he were burrowing through a white rock. I say the private streets, because those which are filled with shops are of course animated enough ; but the dwelling-houses present a dead front, only broken by their doors, and a few little slits in the walls above; varied occasionally by a window, out of which, if you see a handsome feminine head emerge, tressed with coils of black hair, and adorned with two pretentious black eyes, conclude she is a Jewess, and not the wife or daughter of a good Mussulman. The rooms in these houses look into covered galleries running round the interior court—an arrangement similar to that of monastic cloisters. They are cool in summer-in any other climate they would be horribly damp in winter; but the sun of Algiers does not allow these courts to be the unwholesome wells they would be with us. When the bright rains of January and February dash down through the centre of the house, they splash the galleries, and form a little lake in the sunken marble of the court; but before many hours are over, out comes the warm sunshine, and the wet disappears as if by magic. The court of the house in which we lived, a mile from the town, was roofed over with glass—made into an immense skylight-in deference to European prejudices in favour of dwellings being accommodated with tops ; and when the storms came down on this skylight, we could not hear each other speak. I have seen the hills covered with a sheet of spluttering water, which gathered into rivulets, and rushed down in a torrent over the main roads, till it seemed as though the solid land must be washed away; and a couple of hours later, everything smiling and blossoming like an English July. Such is an Algerine winter. To return, however, to the town itself. The opposite houses, not content with planting their bases so closely that two laden donkeys could not trot abreast, jut out, in second and third storeys, supported by picturesque slanting rafters, till they very frequently meet overhead, in one block; and the street pursues its way, tunneling under them, and displaying ugly opportunities for a stab in the dark, especially as it is apt to wind and twist like a snake, affording dark corners where vision is not very clear in the daytime. When one stumbles on a doorstep, abutting right on to one of these holes, the imagination darts back fifty years with a shudder, and recalls the slaves let out to private Moors, who might have been tortured to death in these inscrutable houses without any man saying nay. But the arm of French law is very strong, and it is wonderful to see how the savage populations are held in check, although the dwellings are now as ever almost impregnable to civilized influence. I was told
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by medical men that the greatest difficulties exist in procuring the registration of children, or collecting any of the materials of knowledge which are summed in a census. A most absurd disproportion exists in the official lists of the number of female births as compared to male ; for, when they found that French law was enforced in regard to inheritance, the Moors were gradually induced to register their boys—but girls were thought unworthy of such public recognition. Great struggles have also taken place over the question of vaccination, with most imperfect success : small-pox still devastates the people. Infectious fevers are from a like cause very fatal, the admission of medical authorities into the households being greatly objected to. I remember hearing that on the occasion of some epidemic (I think it was the cholera) the French government forced the Moors to admit inspectors and physicians; but so far were they from being able to effect a permanent eradication of the prejudice, that, the immediate danger being passed, a deputation of " chief men” among the Mahometans waited on the French General to beg that the intrusion on their privacy might be discontinued. This would be less to be regretted, had the natives any wise medical ideas of their own ; but they have not. The “ Arabian leech,” who figures so largely in our modern historical novels, appears to be a mythical character in Algiers; for, except in the matter of washing, neither medical nor sanitary law obtain recognition. I once went with a party of ladies and two children to visit the harem of a Moorish family living in our neighbourhood, at Moustapha Infèrieure. After sitting some time in an upstairs room, cross-legged on cushions, talking amiable trifles to a bevy of young and old women (wives to different members of a Cadi's domestic circle), we passed, on our way to the house-door, into a long room where sat a majestic paterfamilias, also cross-legged, and reading the Koran. At the end of this room was a sick person (I suppose a child) in bed, and a woman sitting at the head. Nobody warned us away ; but when our children were fairly in the room, the sight of illness alarmed their French mamma, who hurried them away, while an impression flew round our circle that the disease was small-pox. For a few days we were all singularly uncomfortable; for we had an invalid in our own household to whom infection of any sort would at that time have been a serious risk. But in a few days this fear at least was dissipated, for the little French children broke out with the measles. This occurrence always struck me as a striking instance of Moorish carelessness; and I feel very sure, from many things I heard when in Algiers from French medical men, that it might just as well have been small-pox as not; the Cadi and his family would not have taken any better precaution, 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 were native 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 aequaintance 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 Lace (I use her present name to avoid confusion) began her scheme of action in 1845 (fifteen years after the conquest), by endeavouring to persuade the Moorish fathers and mothers
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