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cakes or sweetmeats. Tea is so highly esteemed by the Moors, that they take it by very small and slow sips; and, as they drink a considerable quantity whenever it is introduced, the entertainment frequently lasts two hours.
When this ceremony was concluded, the prince ordered out his horse, which was a very beautiful young animal. The saddle was covered with rich velvet; 'the stirrups were of gold. The prince mounted, put his horse on full speed, rose up on the saddle and fired a musket, then stopped the animal instantaneously, and asked if we could do such things in England. He then ordered one of his attendants to catch a sheep in his grounds, and take it to my lodgings; wished I would visit him twice a day, during my stay in Marocco; and gallopped off.
Muley Yezzid, a late Emperor of Marocco, fired three times while galloping two hundred paces. He set out with one musket in his hand, another laid across his saddle, and the third balanced on his head. The first was fired immediately, and given to a soldier who ran by his side ; and the second and third were successively discharged, and given, in the same manner, almost in an instant of time.
The Moors frequently amuse themselves with riding with the utmost speed apparently against a wall, and a stranger would conclude that they must inevitably be dashed to pieces; when, just as the horse's head is upon the point of touching the wall, they stop him with the greatest accuracy. A common species of compliment is to ride violently up to a stranger, as if intending to trample him to death; then stop short, and fire a musket
THE WIVES OF THE EMPEROR.
in his face. I have experienced this mark of respect, and could have dispensed with the polite
friends. The most distinguished honour I received at Marocco was an oriler from the sultan to visit Lalla Zara, one of his wives, who was indisposed ; and I was conducted to that sacred depository of female beauty, his majesty's horem. The entrance is by a very large arched door, guarded, on the outside, by ten body guards. This leads to a lofty hall, in which is stationed an officer, with a guard of seventeen eunuchs. The emperor's order being delivered to this officer, I was immediately conducted, by one of the eunuchs, into the court to which some of the apartments of the women open. Here I found a motley groupe of concubines, seated in circles on the ground, and of slaves, employed in needlework, or in preparing cuscasoe. I was instantly surrounded by a crowd of patients; some informing me of their maladies, and others begging me to inform them of theirs; and it was not without great exertions on the part of the eunuch, that I was permitted to pass on to the apartment of Lalla Zara.
From the court I entered first, I passed through two or three similar ones before I arrived at the habitation of my intended patient, whom I found sitting, cross-legged, on a mattrass covered with fine linen; and twelve attendants, black and white, were sitting on different parts of the floor. A round cushion was placed for me near the lady, and I was desired to be seated.
Lalla Zara had been remarkable for her beauty and accomplishments, and had been a favourite wife of the emperor: the jealousy of her rivals had
been excited by this pre-eminence, and they had mixed poison with her food. The poison had not destroyed her life; but it had ruined her beauty, and left her in a state of hopeless debility. Without affording this unhappy lady any flattering hopes of a cure, I assured her that I would use every means in my power for the restoration of her health. Unlike the generality of Moorish females, she was affable, polite, and of a pleasing and interesting character.
I was going to take leave of Lalla Zara, when a female messenger appeared to request my attendance on Lalla Batoom, the first, and therefore the principal of the emperor's wives, and who bears the title of the Great Queen.
I found Lalla Batoom a perfect Moorish beauty; immoderately fat, with round and prominent cheeks, painted of a deep red, small black eyes, and a countenance wholly devoid of expression. To be fat is the grand criterion of Moorish beauty, and, to obtain this excellence, young women are fattened like fowls. The apartment of the queen had a much greater appearance of splendour than that of Lalla Zara, and the former had a whole square allotted to herself. Her complaint was a slight cold, occasioned by her desire to see the Christian physician; and when I had felt her pulse, and that of all the ladies in the room, they commented upon every part of my dress, and asked me a number of questions. Tea was then brought in. A small table, with four very short feet, supplied the place of a tea-board; the cups were about the size of walnut shells, and of the finest Chinese porcelain, and a very considerable number was drank.
THE WIVES OF THE EMPEROR.
When this visit was ended, I was conducted to the apartment of Lalla Douyaw, the favourite wife of the emperor, who was what would be termed in Europe a very fine and beautiful woman. She was a native of Genoa, and was, when only eight years of age, shipwrecked, with her mother, on the coast of Barbary, and became the emperor's captive. Her charms were even then so attractive that she was placed in the horem; and, after remaining there some time, and embracing the Muhamedan religion, she was first the Emperor's concubine, and then his wife. Her great beauty and mental endowments soon gained his best affections, which she ever after retained; and such was her influence over him, that when she solicited a favour, she never failed to obtain it, if she persevered in her request. When I saw her, she was about thirty years old. Her address was pleasing, and her behaviour courteous, and attentive. From her being able to read and write well the Arabic language, she was considered as a superior being by the other females of the horem. She, as well as Lalla Batoom, occupied a whole square; the other ladies had only a single room each.
Lalla Douyaw insisting upon my visiting her every time I came into the horem, and I frequently conversed with her an hour at a time; yet it was not without some apprehension of being discovered by the Emperor, who had given no order for my admission to one of his wives in the bloom of health and beauty.
The fourth wife of the Emperor, who was the daughter of an English renegado, I did not see, she being at Fas when I was at Marocco.
The horem forms a part of the palace, without any immediate communication with it, except a private door, used only by the Emperor himself. The apartments are all on the ground floor, of a square form, very lofty, and four of them inclose a spacious square court. In general they have no other light than what is admitted by large foldingdoors, which open into the court. The whole of the horem consists of about twelve of these courts, communicating with each other by narrow passages; each court is paved with blue and white tiles, and has a fountain in the centre. The women have free access to all.
The apartments are ornamented externally with beautifully carved wood; the inside is hung with rich damask; the floors are covered with fine carpets; and mattrasses are disposed, at different distances, for sitting or sleeping. The cieling is of wood, carved and painted ; the walls of some are ornamented with large looking-glasses; others have clocks and watches in gold cases.
Lalla Batoom, though the principal personage in the horem, had no controul over the other ladies. They were from sixty to a hundred in number, exclusive of their attendants and slaves. Though the Emperor came occasionally into the horem, it was more usual for him to send for those ladies, whose company he was desirous of having.
. At these times, they endeavoured to appear to the best advantage possible, and never ventured to offer any opinion in his presence, except by his approbation.
The dress of the ladies is a shirt, worn over linen drawers; the shirt having full, loose sleeves, hanging almost to the ground, the neck and breast open, and the edges neatly embroidered with gold.