Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

sorrow.

slaves. Hence one of its pompous titles, Bafios os Esclavos, which without gilding the pill quite so much, may be plainly rendered by the simple word prison. Every fibre trembled, and our limbs tottered under us, as we traversed the horrid receptacle. The first words which escaped the keeper after our entrance were," whoever is brought into this house, becomes a slave.” He might as well have added.

Lasciate ogni speranza, voi, che' utrate !* • In passing through the dark and filthy court yard, we were surrounded by a multitude of slaves, bearing about them all the signs of i abandoned sufferers. They were ragged, lank, and haggard, with

the head drooping, eyes sunk and distorted, cheeks imprinted by the furrows of proiracted wretchedness, which seem to have withered the soul, and by destroying the finer impulses of their nature, left no trace of pity for the sufferings of others, so that we passed without the slightest manifestation of that sympathy so naturally expected in such a situation. Exhausted by long confinement, and wrapt up in a sense of their own melancholy fate, our appearance was viewed with a stupid indifference, unaccompanied by any fellow feeling. During the

few intervals unoccupied in the public works they remained shut up, 2 wandering about, like pallid spectres, in this house of darkness, and

' • Our ascent up the prison staircase, was not unlike that of a malefactor, when mounting the scaffold; but as some indulgence is generally granted to condemned criminals, the keeper treated us during the first day, with particular attention and respect; inviting us into his own apartment, and insisting that we should partake of his dinner, thus making up for the anxiety and fasting of the preceding day. There were at the table, besides myself and fellow passengers, three slaves, who had been many years in captivity, and were persons of birth and education. Amongst the rest was Signor Artemate of Trieste, who possessed a mind adorned by education, and a character formed by long reflection, and adversity, with the truest ingredients of friendship. In reciprocal misfortune the consoling voice was not long silent. Like Attilius Regulus, we also were in servitude, 'on that very shore which saw the Roman hero perish for his country ; happily if like him, we could evince the same intrepidity of soul, and firmness of character.'-p. 69.

It is impossible to read such details as the preceding, and those which immediately follow it, without a feeling of the deepest comiciseration for the numbers of unfortunate beings who have languished away their existence under circumstances such as our Author describes, wherein personal sufferings have been aggravated by mental refinement, and resignation to the will of heaven imbittered by reflections on the cruelty of countrymen and relations, who could suffer them thus to pass their days in sla

[ocr errors]

Ye heirs of hell
Here bid at once your ling’ring hopes farewell.

BOYD.

very, not only without making even an effort in their behalf, but often, it is to be feared, in the actual enjoyment of the very property, which, if properly applied, would effect the liberation of its rightful owners. of this description is the following instance.

« On another occasion the situation of a still more unfortunate slave, was equally calculated to excite my indignation and sympathy. He was sorrowfully seated under an old wall: at his feet there lay an immense load, under which he seemed to have sunk; his visage was pallid and meagre; with looks full of wildness, and eyes fixed on the ground, all expressing strong signs of premature age, brought op by grief and sufferings; raising his head he seemed to become more agitated, and striking his breast and forehead several times, deep sighs seemed to relieve his mind from some internal paroxysm of despair. “ What can be the matter my friend,” said I, addressing myself to this unfortunate wretch. " Why all these signs of misery and distress?” " Poor Christians,” he replied " there is no help for them in this world! and their groans are not heard in heaven. " I was born in Na. ples, but what country have I! Nobody assists me; I am forgotten by all. I was noble, rich, and illustrious, in the place of my birth; see how wretchedness and slavery can change the face of man. It is now eleven years since my sufferings began, during which time I have in vain solicited the assistance of relatives and fellow-creatures, but all to no purpose, there being no longer any one on whom I can place hope or reliance. To whom therefore can I turn my eyes for support? What have I done to deserve so much oppression and sufferings ?'

The inducement of such a frame of mind as this, is one effect of the power of ailliction, which, more than any other, ought to

be deprecated, and guarded against. Unfortunate indeed is he, 1. whom sorrows irritate rather than correct, and pitiable above all

others, the hapless being who, at once, finds himself forsaken by man, and in his despair estranges himself froin God! Fortunately for Signor Pananti, he was not doomed to experience, personally, the evils of which he was sufficiently agonized by witnessing the effects in others. By the indefatigable exertions of his friends, the Chevalier Rossi and his wife, and the benevolent co-operation of Mr. Macdonnel, the English Consul, whose character appears to be an epitome of all that is desirable in so important an official character, as the Representative of a Nation ought to be considered, the delightful words, “Ti sta franco!" “ You are free !” were pronounced to him, just after he had worn the badge of slavery long enough to allow him to form some estimate of its degrading and paralyzing powers over all the best energies of mail. The circumstance of a slave's liberation, without ransom, so immediately after bis captivity, was almost unique in the apnals of Algiers, and Signor Pananti's account of his feelings on the occasion, is marked with all the vi

p. 91.

[ocr errors]

לי

vacity and eloquence of the country which gave him birth. The first check to his transports arose from his being obliged to leave his companions under circumstances so different from his own; the next, from finding that though restored to liberty, he was deprived of every thing else, except what he immediately inherited from nature. His clothes, money, books, and merchandize, were all gone, past recal; and even his manuscripts, those precious treasures of the learned and ingenious, who so seldom possess any more negotiable kind of wealth, were likewise spoiled by the hands of the barbarians, and he mourns over them with the fondness of a parent, or a lover, calling upon all who have, like him, placed their chief enjoyment in the luxury of intellectual refinement, to lament with him in his loss. Still, however, like Fenelon, who, when told that his books were destroyed by fire, replied, “ I should have derived no profit from them if they had not “ taught me patiently to bear with their loss,” he eyinces in his very mode of grieving for them, how much he retains, in retaining the cheerful spirits under which they had -probably been composed. He finds out that every thing in this world is liable to be lost, and he makes out a humorous catalogue, among which he gives no undue importance to his own effusions: he is well known as an author in his native country, and his Editor, who has proved himself an adequate judge, bears testimony to the ingenuity and merit of his performances. Mr. Blaquiere likewise confirms the truth of our Author's statements respecting the condition of the slaves in Algiers, saying indeed that instead of being overcharged, they present only a small part of the evils to which these ill-fated beings are subjected ; yet what additional miseries can be thought of in such a picture as the following!

. No sooner is any one declared a slave, than he is instantly stripped of his clothes, and covered with a species of sack-cloth: he is also generally left without shoes or stockings, and often obliged to work bare-headed, in the scorching rays of an African sun. Many suffer their beard to grow as a sign of mourning and desolation, while their general state of filth is not to be conceived. Some of these wretched beings are destined to make ropes and sails for the squadron : these are constantly superintended by keepers who carry whips, and frequently extort money from their victims, as the price of somewhat less rigour in the execution of their duty; others belong to the Dey's household ; and many are employed by the rich Moors, who may have bought them at market, in the lowest drudgery of domestic employment. Some, like the beasts of burthen, are employed in carrying stones and wood, for any public buildings that may be going on these are usually in chains, and justly considered as the worst among their oppressed brethren. What a perpetuity of terrors, series of anguish, and monotonous days must not theirs be! without a bed to lie on, raiment to cover them, or food to support.

[ocr errors]

seasons.

nature! Two black cakes, like those already alluded to, and throwe down, as if intended for dogs, is their principal daily sustenance, and had it not been for the charity of a rich Moor, who left a legacy for that purpose, Friday, the only day they are exempted from work, would have seen them without any allowance whatever. Shut up at night in the prison, like so many malefactors, they are obliged to sleep in the open corridor, exposed to all the inclemency of the

In the country they are frequently forced to lay in the open air; or, like the Troglodite of old, shelter themselves in caverns. Awoke at day-light, they are sent to work with the most abusive threats, and, thus employed, become shortly exhausted under the weight and severity of their keepers' whips. Those destined to sink wells, and clear sewers, are for whole weeks obliged to be up to their middle in water, respiring a mephitic atmosphere: others employed in quarries, are threatened with constant destruction, which often comes to their relief. Some attached to the harness in which beasts of the field are also yoked, are obliged to draw nearly all the load, and never fail to receive more blows than their favoured companion, the ass, or mule. Some are crushed under the falling of buildings, whilst others perish in the pits into which they are sent to be got

rid of. It is usual for one and two hundred slaves to drop off, in the year, for want of food, inedical attendance, and other necessaries; and woe to those who remain, if they attempt to heave a sigh, or complain in the hearing of their inexorable master. The slightest offence or indiscretion is punished with two hundred blows on the soles of the feet, or over the back; and resistance to this shocking treatment is often punished with death.

• When in marching, a poor slave is exhausted by sickness, fatigue, and the cruelty of his usage, he is inhumanly abandoned on the highroad to be insulted by the natives, and trod under foot by the passengers. They frequently return from the mountains, with the blood trickling from their limbs, which are, with their whole body, covered with scars and bruises. One evening, towards dark, I was called to by a hoarse voice: On drawing nearer I beheld an unhappy being stretched on the ground, foaming at the mouth, and with the blood bursting from his nose and eyes. I had scarcely stopt, struck with horror and apprehension, when, in a faint voice, the word “ Christian ! Christian!” was repeated. “ For Heaven's sake have pity on my sufferings, and terminate an existence which I can no longer

" Who are you?” was my reply: “ I am a slavo," said the poor creature, " and we are all badly treated! An Oldak of the militia, who was passing this way, and happening to be near me at the time, exclaimed, in an angry tone, Dog of a Christian, how dare you stop the road, when one of the faithful passes?'. This was followed by a blow and a kick, which threw me down a height of several feet, and has left me in this condition.'»

The number of the victims of different nations who were captured on the same cruise as that in which our Author and his companions were made prisoners, amounted to two hundred. This was about two years before Lord Exmouth's attack upon

[ocr errors]

support!”

[ocr errors]

Algiers, but by the successful issue of that enterprise, our readers will be glad to hear that our Author's friends, as well as several hundred other captives, were set at liberty. We believe that there are none who will not be better pleased that this blessing should be insisted upon as a right, than that it should be purchased, as it had been before, by way of favour; for surely it is equally impolitic and servile for Britain to pay tribute to these merciless pirates, in the form of ransom, thus acknowledging their right to traffic in human flesh, and to break with impunity the most solemn leagues, for the observance of which, more civilized nations think themselves bound to stand hostages to each other. That the States of Barbary know the advantage of good faith, where their own interests are concerned, may be pretty clearly seen by the readiness with which, in spite of their natural distrust and hatred of each other, they can enter into such arrangements as they think necessary to enable them to carry on their de. testable system of piracy, without fear of incurring the chastisement which outraged justice and humanity call so loudly for, and wbich we would hope will be determined upon, by the Sovereigns who meet together professedly for the advantage of Europe, unless they adopt the opinion communicated, by way of consolation to our Author, by the Guardian Basha, that

slavery is the natural state of man, that all depends on the (law of the strongest ; on circumstances and necessity. It is well for what remains of the liberty and happiness of Europe, that this Guardian Basha bad not the honour to be born of any of the race who have a legitimate right to give their opinions on the government of their fellow-creatures, and to enforce them, by dint of arms, where they may not happen to be deemed sufficiently palatable without.

Signor Pananti has given as minute an account, of the present state of Algiers, as his own observations, and the best information he could procure, enabled him to form; and though from the extreme jealousy of the Moors with respect to their interior, and the absolute nature of their government, which renders any appearance of minute inqairy into its organization a very dangerous exercise of curiosity, not much new matter can be expected; yet the smallest addition is valuable concerning the internal situation of a country which is, as it at present stands, of far more consequence to Europe, than all the unexplored regions of Africa, which by that principle so common in human nature, of overlooking, the present for a distant and uncertain good, bave excited sg. much greater, and so disproportionate an interest. The most valuable of our Author's remarks are those which are more im: mudiately his own, on the agriculture, tra le, and productions of Algiers. His account also of its military force will be found inVol. X. N.S.

2 Q

« ForrigeFortsett »