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CASTLE OF GOURIANA.
over one of the subterraneous passages, in a mode common in these mountains. The entrance to the turret is from the roof of the passage. The turret is usually two or three stories high, and the ascent from one story to another is by treading on sticks fixed in the walls, and forcing the body through a hole cut in the upper floor. The building receives no light, except from holes large enough to admit the muzzle of a musket, which are left at certain distances.
On the following day the mountains separated, and left a deep, romantic valley. Figs, olives, and vines, were flourishing on the heights, in every spot which had sufficient soil to nourish them. After a march of seven hours we reached the castle of Gouriana, a large edifice built with rough stone, with turrets at the angles, embrasures for cannon, and loop-holes for mus. quetry. This fortress was provided with five or şix pieces of ordnance; but it may be doubted whether the Bashaw had any officer daring enough to fire them. My chowse was here a man of great importance ; for, being in the service of the Bey, the Arabs kissed his hands and brought him presents. Some prisoners having been recently put to death in the room in which we slept, it was said to be haunted. This idea is not peculiar to the mountains of Gouriana, but it varies its form according to the other notions of those among whom it prevails; and what, in Britain, would have been a ghost, was here a goule, or evil spirit.
On the seventh day our road lay first through passes in the mountains; afterwards on a bar. ren, stoney plain; and having made a day's journey of twenty-five miles, on an east-southeast course, we encamped in a small valley among some bushes. The place was said to be frequented by plundering Arabs; but my chowse having laid muskets and pistols near his head, and taken two bottles of wine within it, slept soundly, without fear of an attack.
On the eighth day, the country, during a journey of thirty miles, presented one unvaried scene of desolation; and, on the ninth, a march of twenty-five brought us to Benioleed. I computed the whole distance from Tripoli at about 170 miles.
The town of Benioleed is in latitude 31° 46' north, longitude 14° 10' east; it is situated on each side of a ravine, or deep valley, which we had frequently coasted on our approach to it. The houses are built with rough stone; none were more than eight feet in height, and all had a ruinous appearance. The water is excellent, and is drawn from wells from one to two hundred feet in depth. The inhabitants are Arabs, a fine handsome race of people ; but reduced by the oppression of the Bashaw to a miserable state of poverty. They are supposed to amount to 2,000. A weekly market is held at Benioleed, to which the necessaries of life are brought with fear, lest their owners should be thought too rich.
Date and olive trees are flourishing here; corn is sown in the country to the eastward, and, when it is ripe, the owners go in bodies to bring it home. In the rainy season, the torrents rush down with such impetuosity from the sides of the hills, into the wadey, or ravine, that men and ani. mals have been drowned in the night, before they
OPINIONS OF THE ARABS.
had time to escape. It was said that the water, at some times, rose so high as to cover the tallest olivetrees growing in the wadey.
I returned to Tripoli by a nearer route than that which had conducted me to Benioleed ; leaving the mountains of Gouriana on my left, and passing through winding defiles at their foot. This march occupied only four days, and I estimated the distance at something less than a hundred miles.
The opinions of the Arabs we met with on this excursion afforded me some amusement. The name given to the Atlantic Ocean, which is called the Sea of Darkness, had led them to imagine that it had neither sun nor moon, and that the ships of the Europeans found their way upon it by means of large lanthorns which they carried with them. They could not conceive how we could avoid falling from our islands, and rolling into the sea; or how we could have sufficient
space upon them for our animals to graze. That my country did not produce dates, they heard with great commiseration. Buonaparte, or, as the Arabs called him, Bono barto, was held in high estimation among them, because they had been told that his revenue was 200,000 dollars an hour, and that he sat upon a throne of gold.
At Tripoli an opportunity presented itself of re-visiting Fezzan; and as it offered to my view some ground I had not yet trodden, it was not to be neglected.
In the year 1714 the King of Fezzan was brought prisoner to Tripoli by the first independent Bashaw, Hamed the Great. He was detained two years, and then released, on condition of paying an annual tribute of fifty slaves and ten pounds of gold-dust. By degrees this was reduced to an occasional present of a few slaves, and a pound or two of gold-dust; and in 1811, Muhamed el Mukni, collector of the tribute, having persuaded the Bashaw that, if he were established as the sove. reign of Fezzan, he should remit a much larger tribute, took with him an armed force, reached Mourzouk undiscovered, caused the Sultan and the principal Shereefs to be strangled, and assumed the government of the kingdom. This man was now at Tripoli, and was soon to return, and I obtained permission to accompany him.
On the 24th of March I pitched my tent on the desert beyond the Messeah, with the household slaves of Mukni, and two of his women. These ladies travelled on camels, and had over them a light frame of wood, covered with scarlet cloth, which prevented them from being seen. They
JOURNEY TO FEZZAN.
were both black. One was called Zaitoon, or Olive tree; the other, Zeman Donya, Time of the World. The next day we were joined by Mukni, and his son Yusuf, a boy about eight years of age, splendidly dressed: they were preceded by flags and music, and attended by about fifty horsemen in gay apparel. After these, arrived Lilla Fatima, the wife of Sheik Barood, the conductor of the kafilah, and the manager of Mukni's affairs.
On the 30th we reached Benioleed, where we rested two days, and I received an intimation that the beautiful Lilla Fatima would have no objection to see me.
I immediately paid her a visit. She veiled herself on my entrance; but at my request, she gratified me with a view of her face, which was fair, and highly rouged. Her neck, arms, and legs were covered with tattoed flowers, circles, open hands, the names of God, and her friends. A number of thin women of the country sat round her, and viewed her with astonishment, declaring that the Lilla was beautifully and excessively fat; a truth I could not dispute, for she was a monstrous mass of human flesh, and her face was very handsome. The lady invited me to sit by her, and one of the first questions she asked me was, whether the ladies in my country were as fat and as beautiful as herself. I complimented her, as I truly might, by saying that I had never seen one half so fat; but I did not think myself bound to answer the other part of her question. After some time I was sprinkled with rose-water, and took my leave.
On the 2d of April we left Benioleed, and on the 6th, having travelled in a south-east direction, we arrived at the well of Bonjem, the northern