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VISIT OF THE QUEEN.

465

retinue. After a short conversation, which was carried on in Italian, he asked her royal highness if she had a desire to visit his horem; and she having assented to the proposal, he gave her his hand, and she made a sign to her ladies to follow. The gentlemen were necessarily left behind.

The principal wife of the Bey met the Princess in a court surrounded by apartments, from whence she was introduced into a magnificent room, in which a number of women were assembled. They were loaded with gold, diamonds, and precious stones. Their ancles, which were without stockings, were, in some instances, encircled with chains of diamonds; their fingers were covered with splendid rings, except at the ends, which were coloured black. The greater number of the ladies were of a dark complexion; and it was observed that these were more beautiful than such as were fair.

The Princess of Wales, the Bey, and his principal wife, were seated on cushions. Some black slaves presented them with costly napkins embroidered with gold, while others sprinkled them with the finest essences. An exquisite collation, consisting of nearly two hundred dishes, prepared by an Italian lady, wife of the Bey's physician, was then served on gold; and, when this was ended, the Princess and her attendants were again perfumed. After this, the Bey ordered music. The musical performers at the court of Tunis were six old women, immoderately fat. They played on instruments, and afterwards one of them sung, with so loud and discordant a voice, that the relator of the story was under great temptation to laugh. The Princess with better feeling and

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better judgment, had the complaisance to listen with attention to the best music that could here be offered her, and to speak with approbation of the best attempt that could here be made to amuse her. The Bey seemed delighted with her satisfaction.

The two princes, who had been present during the whole time, begged her Royal Highness would condescend to visit their horems; and the eldest, who is now Bey of Tunis, took her hand, and led her to his own. This contained a greater number of ladies than that of his father; but, with the exception of his wife, who was a very beautiful woman, they were not, by any means, so richly dressed. They were, in general, enormously fat, too fat to rise without assistance, and the most bulky were esteemed the most beautiful.

A collation was here set before the Princess and her ladies, and they were again sprinkled with perfumes. The ladies of the horem crowded round them; and when the Princess rose to depart, they entreated her to be again seated, in so earnest à manner, that she could not refuse them; and it was not till she had made a visit of five hours that she quitted them. They then attended her into the court, where they took leave of her with the most affecting gestures.

Many of these ladies had been carried off from their parents when very young: some spoke Italian, but not well. The younger prince had entered his brother's horem unexpectedly, and they all appeared in great confusion ; but, recovering themselves, they went successively, and kissed the palm of his hand. His wife was also a very beautiful woman.

VISIT OF THE QUEEN.

467

The Princess of Wales made several short excursions during her visit to Tunis, for which the Bey provided her and her attendants with horses; and they usually passed the night at one or other of his country houses, where all things had been previously arranged for their reception. In one of these excursions, the Princess visited Carthage, where she saw the celebrated aqueduct which supplied the city with water; and, in another, Utica, where she looked in vain for Cato's house. The roads are said to have been so difficult that it required some resolution to pass them in a carriage with wheels; at one time the royal traveller having to descend a ladder of rock, and ford a river; at another, to pass over precipices; and at another, over fragments of stone so high that the carriage was lifted from the ground.

The Princess of Wales left Tunis on the 22d of April; and Hahmoud Bey was soon afterwards murdered by his eldest son, who is now the reigning sovereign.

The attendant of the Princess adds the following general information respecting Tunis :

The streets are narrow and dirty ; but it is customary to walk on the terrased roofs of the houses. Women of a certain rank never appear in the streets ; occasionally, though very rarely, women of a lower class are met with. They wear large cloaks (or rather hayks), and over the face two handkerchiefs, which are disposed in such a manner, that only the end of the nose, and a part of the eyes, can be discovered. The feet are exposed; a sole of wood only being worn under them. If a husband meet his wife in the street he cannot accost her.

A married woman is not allowed to converse with her male relations, not even with her brothers. She may look through wooden grated windows, and she does sometimes throw a note through one of them at the feet of a Christian, as he passes. The Moorish wives are said to have a decided liking for Christians,” which this tender-hearted waiting gentlewoman says " is perfectly pardonable." The savage Moorish husbands, however, are not so accommodating; for when this “pardonable preference” is detected, the Christian is immediately beheaded, and the lady with the “decided liking” is tied in a sack, and thrown into the sea.

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CHAPTER XXVII.

JOURNEY

TO TRIPOLI. ACCOUNT OF THE CITY

AND ITS INHABITANTS.

I

took leave of the Bey of Tunis with the acknowledgments usual on such occasions, and set out for Tripoli by land. The first part of this journey was to Gabs, by the way I had so lately returned. From Gabs I proceeded to the Island of Jerba, the termination of the state of Tunis, which is about thirty-six miles to the southward. On this part of the coast, I saw no tree, no bush, no verdure, except the short grass which forms the border before we enter the moving sands of the desert. The Wargumma and the Noile, or No.

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walli, two great tribes of Arabs, are masters of these deserts.

About four days journey short of Tripoli, I overtook the caravan going from Marocco to Mecca, under the conduct of the Emir Hage. The caravan consisted of about 3,000 men, and, as they said, of from 12 to 14,000 camels, some loaded with merchandize, others with water and provisions for the pilgrims. They were a disorderly, unarmed herd; and when my horsemen, though but fifteen in number, came up with them in the grey of the morning, they shewed great signs of trepidation, and were already flying in confusion. When informed who they were, their fears ceased, and, after the usual manner of cowards, they became extremely insolent.

On my arrival at Tripoli, I was conducted to the house which had been previously engaged for me; and at the end of three days, I was presented to the sovereign, who retains the title of Bashaw, while his eldest son is called the Bey. The word Bashaw, in its strict sense is only Vice-roy; being compounded of the two Persian words, Pa and Schah. My audience of the sovereign of Tripoli took place in a vast saloon, in which he was sitting on a small throne or elevated sofa, with his sons on each side, and a numerous court around him. My present being placed before him, he received me with grace and dignity.

The city of Tripoli, called by the inhabitants Tarables, is situated in latitude 32° 56' north, and longitude 13° 28' east. The sea washes it on three sides; and, on the fourth, a sandy plain, called the Messéah, divides it from the cultivated country. It is said to contain about 14,000 inhabitants.

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