Abbildungen der Seite

bic translation of the New Testament, which I had with me, was eagerly read, and the only exceptions made to it were, that Christ was called the Son of God, and that St. Paul had omitted to announce the coming of Muhamed, which these people believe was foretold by our Saviour, and erased by the Apostle. There are in Mourzouk a few copies of some of the Thousand and One Tales; and the Voyages of Sindbad the Sailor, are as fully accredited as the Koran itself.

The following is a translation of a song of the Arabs of Fezzan :

“ Here I am, well mounted on a horse whose ears are like pens, who runs like an antelope, and knows none but his master. My new red cap

becomes me well, my sword is sharp, my pistols are well cleaned, and my belt shines in the sun. As the heart of a pigeon beats when she is robbed of her young, so will the heart of my love beat for me when she sees me. She will not allow the dog to bark, and she will leave the tent as if in search of wood. If her kinsmen see her with me, she shall not remain under their displeasure; I will lift her on my horse, and fly with her; for my steed has ears like pens, he runs like an antelope, and knows none but his master. My new red cap becomes me well, my sword is sharp, my pistols are well cleaned, and my belt shines in the sun."

The soul of the Arab appears in these lines. Like a European lover, he derives some conseqnence from his new red cap; but his horse and his arms are his pride, and his gallantry consists in carrying off the lady by force.

Mourzouk is in latitude 25° 54' north, longitude 15° 52' east.

[blocks in formation]

From the 4th of May to the 17th, the thermometer, at two o'clock in the afternoon, was from 101 to 110 degrees. From the 17th of May to the 12th of June, it was at the same hour, from 113° to nearly 129'. The highest it ever reached was August the 11th and September the 1st, when it was at 1330,

[blocks in formation]

In July many parties of Tuarick from Kashna, Agades, and Graat, came to Mourzouk, with slaves and merchandise. They were tall, straight, and handsome, and had an air of independence and pride. Their skin, where kept covered, was as white as that of many Europeans; where exposed to the sun it was of a dark brown. On their faces they wore a cotton covering, which descended from the middle of the nose to the breast. They gave no other reason for this custom than that their fathers did so; but their fathers probably did so to prevent their inhaling the sand of the deserts. Many of these people wore shirts and kaftans of the skins of antelopes, well prepared, and neatly sewed together. Their sandals were of black leather, curiously embroidered on the inside of the sole, and fastened to the feet with scarlet thongs. Each man carried a whip, a sword, a dagger, a light elegant spear, and generally a musket. The spear was sometimes of iron, inlaid with brass, and

sometimes of wood, highly ornamented. They never salute by kissing the hand; not even that of the Sultan of Fezzan, but they take his hand and shake it ; and then retire, holding themselves erect, and looking him steadily in the face. Their language is the Berebber, the original tongue of northern Africa, and they believe it was spoken by Noah. Their religion is that of Muhamed; but their knowledge of the Prophet and his language is limited to La Allah ila Allah Shed wa Muhamed Rassuls Allah: There is no God but God, and bear witness that Muhamed is the Prophet of God.

Some of the tribes of the Tuarick are constantly at war with the states of Soudan, and are much dreaded by the black men. The tribe nearest to Fezzan is that of Graat, a walled town, ten days from Mourzouk, seven west by south from Sebha, twenty east from Gadames, and twenty from Tuat. Graat is built partly on a plain, and partly on the side of a steep hill. The Sheik of Graat is called Sultan, and receives a revenue from the settled inhabitants, who are called Gratia ; but the Tuarick are, in general, wanderers, and pay him no homage. There is annually at Graat a great market, to which traders resort from Soudan, Fezzan, Gadames, and other countries; and all pay a duty which is called safety money, to the Tuarick. The people of Graat have little corn of their own; but they procure it from Mourzouk, in exchange for slaves, gold, and other articles. Five or six miles from Graat is a walled town called El Berkaat, famous for the quantity and excellence of the grapes produced in its vicinity. The Gratia allow strangers to converse with their wives and daughters; they are said to be fat and handsome, but modest.

[blocks in formation]

Agades is a large district, having a town of the same name, which is in the road to Bornoo. It is thirty-six summer, or forty-five winter days from Mourzouk, and twenty from Bornoo. It is a larger town than Mourzouk. The inhabitants are Tuarick. The country is governed by a Sheik, who is considered as great a man as the Sultan of Fezzan.

Gadames is fifteen days journey, or about 250 miles, south-west of Tripoli, and eight days journey from the town of Iddri in the Wadey Shaiti. It was formerly independent; but, a few years ago, it was taken by the son of the Bashaw of Tripoli, and it is now tributary to this sovereign. The natives are Arabs; they trade to Timbuctoo, and there are few who do not speak the language of that country and the Tuarick. It is here that the merchants assemble who are going to Timbuctoo or Tuat.

Two tribes live in Gadames; the town, which is surrounded by a large wall, being divided by a broad wall, running from east to west, through the centre. In the middle of this is a gate. Formerly the inhabitants of the two towns were continually at war with each other, and now they have sometimes dangerous quarrels. No intermarriages take place between them; and an accidental visitor from one town rarely escapes insult from the people of the other. The streets are covered in, and are so dark that, at sun-set, a person is unable to find his way without a lamp. The houses are of mud, and have no upper-story, but they are good. The northern half of the circle is called Benewaleed; the southern Benewazeed.

I suspect that, in these instances, as in those of Beni Abbas and Benioleed in Tripoli, the appellation of the people has been applied to the town; and that these several places are the residence of the Beni Abbas, the Beni Waleed, and the Beni Wazed ; that is the sons of Abbas, Waleed, and Wazed.

In the southern town of Gadames is a spring of fresh and warm water, which is distributed, through five channels, to both towns, and their outer circle of gardens and date-trees. Each part has its proper allowance; and, when one has received it, the channel is dammed up, and the water is conducted to another. Persons are deputed from both towns, to regulate the proper distribution. .

These communities present a curious picture of human nature. A spring is found in the desert, and, as springs afford the means of subsistence, two friendly tribes take possession of it, and build their residence near its waters. Human beings have failings and faults; proximity discovers them to each other; offence is given and taken; neighbours quarrel and fight. Yet the spring cannot be forsaken, and they live as enemies and strangers. Had either party been the stronger, the weaker would have been driven into the desert, and Gadames would have been only one town. Each has its Sheik, and both are now appointed by the Bashaw of Tripoli.

During my stay at Mourzouk, a kafilah of Arabs, Tripolines, and Tibboo, arrived from Bornoo, bringing with them 1,400 slaves. I saw them enter the town, and it was, indeed, a piteous spectacle. The legs and feet of these unfortunate captives were swelled to an enormous size, and their bodies emaciated. They were sinking under loads of firewood; and little children, worn

« ZurückWeiter »