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England, and as Children they have the finest Complexions in the World; but at Thirty they become Wrinkled Old Women. For a Girl is often a Mother at Eleven, and a Grandmother at Twenty-two; and their Lives being generally as long as Europeans, these Matrons often live to see Children of many Generations. They are desperately Superstitious, and hang the Figure of an Open Hand round the Necks of their Children; and never an Algerine Pirate goes out of Port without such Hand painted on the Stern, as a counter Charm to an Evil Ese. Truly there are some Christian Folks not much less foolish in their Superstitions ; and Rich and Poor among the Neapolitans carry a forked bit of Coral about with thero, to conjure away this same Evil Eye, which they call Gettatura.
They have a kind of Monks called Marabutts, who are supposed to lead an Austere Life, and pass their lives in counting a Chaplet of Ninety-nine Beads; but who are, in truth, Impudent Beggars, Thieves, and Profligates. And this is pretty well the Character of the whole body of Algerines, from the Dey in his Palace to bis Father who sells Sheep's Trotters. There are a few Grave People, in no constant Employ (that is to say, they have made their Fortunes by Murder and Piracy, and are now Retired), who spend the day, either in conversing with one another at the Barbers' Shops, or at the Bazuars and Coffee-houses. But the greater part of the Moorish and Turkish Youth are the wildest of Gallants and Roysterers, and waste their time in the most unseemly Fandangoes.
Item.—These Marabutts are no better than the Mountebanks I have seen at the Carnival of Venice or at Southwark Fair. One Seedy Mustapha tells me that a neighbouring Marabutt had a solid Iron Bar, which, upon command, would give the same Report and do as much Mischief as a Piece of Cannon, At Seteef, too, there was one famous for Vomiting Fire; but the Renegado Banpwitz, who had seen him, assured me 'twas all a Trick; that his Mouth did certainly seem to be all in a Blaze, while he counterfeited Violent Agony; but that on close inspection it appeared that the Flames and Smoke with which he was surrounded arose from Tow and Sulphur, which he had contrived to kindle under bis Hyke. The most commendable thing I can find in the Algerine Character is the great respect they pay to their Dead. They don't cram 'em into stifling little Graveyards in the midst of crowded towns, as we do, to our injury and sbame; but have large Burial-grounds, at a good distance from their towns and villages. Each Family has a particular Part, walled in like a garden, where the Bones of their Ancestors bave remained undisturbed for many Generations. The Graves are all distinct and separate, and the space between is planted with Beautiful Flowers, bordered round with Stone, or paved over with Tiles. The Graves of the Great People are likewise distinguished by Square Rooms with Cupolas built over them, which, being kept constantly clean, whitewashed, and beautified, nevertheless continue like the Hypocrites, and are but Sepulchres full within of nothing but Dead Men's Bones.
It happened one fine Autumnal Afternoon, that, my Services as Cymbal - Player not being required until the Dey's Supper after Evening Prayers, I was wandering for mere Amusement in some of the least-frequented Streets of the City; which are here, for the sake of Shade, mere narrow Lanes, without any Pavement but Dust, and without a Door or Window from twenty yards to twenty yards. In fact they are but Passages between almost dead walls; the Houses themselves generally standing in the midst of the Gardens. Now I quitted the Street of Baba-zoun by the Street of the Shroffs, or Money-changers, designing to reach the Gate of the River; but the Streets are all so much alike that I lost my Way, and went blundering on from one Lane into another, till I almost despaired of finding my Road back again. I should be too late for the Dey's Supper, thought I; and although Jack Dangerous was never given to Trembling, I began to feel very uncomfortable concerning the Notice that Mahomet Bassa, who was never known to have Pity on any Human Being, Man, Woman, or Child, might take of my Absence. For these accursed Algerines are most cruel in their Punishments. Trials are very swift, and Sentence is always executed within half an hour afterwards. Small Offences are punished with the Bastinado, or the Rhinoceros Whip. For Clipping or Debasing the Public Coin the old Egyptian punishment of cutting off the Hands is inflicted ; although the Dey, in one of his Furies, has been known to have the Base Money melted, and poured down the Cuiner's Throat. If a Jew or a Christian is guilty of Murder, he is Burnt Alive without the gates of the City; but for the same Crime the Moors and Arabs are either Impaled, hung up by the Neck over the Battlements of the City, or thrown upon Hooks fixed upon the Walls below, where they sometimes hang in Dreadful Torments for Thirty and Forty hours together before they Expire. The Turks, however, out of respect for their Characters, are sent to the Aga's house, where they are either Bustinadoed or Strangled; and when the Women offend, they are not exposed to the populace, but are sent to a private House of Correction; or, if the Crime be Capital, they are sewn up in a Sack, carried out to Sea, and Drowned. And for especial Criminals is reserved the Extraordinary Barbarous punishment of Sawing Asunder; for which purpose they prepare two Boards, of the same length and breadth as the Unfortunate Person, and, having tied him betwixt them, begin sawing at the Head, and so proceed till he is divided into Halves. 'Tis said that Kardinash, a person who was not long since Ambassador at the Court of England, suffered in this wise merely for maintaining, in the face of the Dey, that the King of Great Britain had only One Wife.
All these Grim Probabilities did I revolve in my mind, as the Sun went on sinking, and I could meet no:hing but a few Rapscallion Boys that, when I strove to stammer out a few words of Arabic to ask my Way, laughed and jeered in their Impudent manner, and Aung handfuls of Dust at me. Just as I was losing all Patience, and determined to Knock at the first door I came to, and make my state known at all hazards, there came upon me at the corner of a street the Figure of a Woman, Muffed up, as 'tis their fashion, in her Hyke and Burnouse, so that I could only see her Eyes, which were smeared over with the usual Black Stuff, but which seemed to have somewhat of a Yellowish Cast. I started, as if she were a Ghost just risen from the ground; but indeed she had only just stepped out from a little Garden-door, that now stood Ajar. From the folds of her White Burnouse now came out a plump Hand, very Glossy, but very Black. She first laid her Finger on that part of her Hyke where her Mouth might be, to command me to Silence; then touched me on the Arm; then pointed to a Latticed Window high up in the wall, to give me to understand that some one had been Watching me from there; and then beckoned me to Follow her. I was wofully perplexed, and, thought I, “The Dey will have no Cymbals to bis Supper to-night, that's certain.” Still, it is never to be said that J. D. ever shirked an adventure that promised aught of Love or Peril ; and had it been into the jaws of a Lion, I must have followed the Negro Emissary. After all, I reasoned, I was a proper-looking Fellow, although no longer in my First Youth, and my hair beginning to Grizzle somewhat; but Love levels ranks, as my Lord Grizzle bas it in Tom Thumb; and I was, perhaps, not the first Frank Slave who was favoured by a beauteous Moorish Lady. A Moorish Beauty! Why, this might be, after all, a Princess, a Sultana, a Turkish Khanum! It turned out, however, far differently from what I had expected. Following the Slave, we quitted the street and passed through a Porch, or Gateway, which the Negress carefully locked after her. We now entered upon a Court, with Benches on either side, and paved very handsomely with Marble, covered in the middle with a rich Turkey Mat, and sheltered from the heat of the weather by a kind of Veil, expanded by Ropes from one side of the Parapetwall, or Lattice of the Flat Roof, to the other. So into a little Cloister running round this Court, and up a little winding stone Staircase into another Cloister or Upper Gallery. Then at a Door all covered with rich Filigree work in Gold and Colours did the Negress knock; and by and by a soft silvery Voice, of which the sound, somehow, made me start and tremble much more than that of the Old Knight of Malta had done, said a few words in Arabic, and we went in.
I found myself in a large square Apartment, with curious latticed Windows, through which the Evening Sunlight came, in the prettiest of patterns, and fell, like so many spangles disposed by an artful Embroiderer, upon the rich Carpet. A great Divan, or stuffed Bench of Crimson Damask, ran all round the room, with many soft pillows and shawls upon it; and on this Divan, upon the side opposite the door, sat an Eastern Lady, amazingly Dressed. She had laid aside her Hyke, which was of white silk gorgeously striped with gold and crimson Bars, and all dotted with Bullion Tassels, and sat in a tight-fitting jacket of Red Velvet, open in front, where you could see the Bosom of her Snowy Smock all blazing with Emeralds and Rubies. I had never seen so many of the latter kind of Jewels since the days of my Grandmother, in her Cabinet of Relics. Round her Waist was swathed a great Cash. merian Shawl, very rich and noble, and with a heavy Fringe; and from among the folds peeped out a little Poniard with a jewelled Hilt, and a knife with a Gold and Mother-of-pearl Haft to cut her Victuals. She wore loose Trowsers or Drawers of a very fine spun silk, covered with a raised pattern in gold tbread, that, as is the custom of the Moorish Women, were fastened at the Knee, and then fell in quite a torrent of Drapery down to her Ancles, nearly covering her pretty Feet. A sweet Fashion, and very Modest. As to the Feet themselves,—the smallest, sure, that mortal woman ever had,–I could, rapid as was my survey, see that she wore no Hose; but her tiny Toes were thrust into Slippers or Papowshes of blue velvet, all heightened and enriched with Gold Orris and Seed Pearls. On her head was a dainty little cap, of the Fez Pattern, but of velvet instead of cloth, jewelled ; and from it hung a monstrous Tassel of Gold, which reached half-way down the Back. As for lier Hair, it hung very nearly down to the ground, being all collected into one Lock, and bound and plaited with Ribbons; and being thus adorned, were tied close together above the Lock, the several corners of a Kerchief, made of thin flexible plates of Gold, cut through, and engraved in imitation of Lace. In one hand she held a great Fan, of Peacocks' Feathers, with a Mirror in the midst, and a handle of Gold, Emeralds, and Agate, that would have driven a Duke's-Place Jew crazy to look at; and in the other, — well, you know that Oriental Fashions are different from ours, and that the Paynim nations have the strangest of Manners and Customs,-I declare that in the other Hand- the dexter one-the Lady held the Tube of a Tobacco-pipe, the which she was smoking with great Deliberation and apparent Relish. But 'twas a very different Pipe to what we are in the habit of seeing in England — having a Bowl of fine Red Clay encrusted with Gems, a long straight tube of Cherry-wood, and a Mouthpiece of Amber studded with Precious Stones. This Pipe they call a Chibook, and they smoke it much as we do our common Clay things; but there's another, which they call a Nargilly, like the Hubble-bubble smoked by the proud Planters in the Dutch East Indies. With the Nargilly, the Smoke passes first through Rose-water, to purify it; and after passing through many snake-like coils of silk and wire tubing, the Smoker gulps it down bodily; so that it goes into his Lungs, and must make them as sooty as a foul Chimney. Many of the Turks are so handy at this nasty trick, that they can make the Smoke they have swallowed come out at their ears, eyes, and nostrils; but I envy them not such Mountebankery, and when I smoke my Pipe, am content to Blow a Cloud in a moderate and Christian manner.
I have kept you so long describing this Eastern Lady's Dress, that you must be growing impatient to know whether her Face matched in handsomeness with her Apparel ; but there was the Deuce of it; for while
I stood before her, staring and wondering over her splendid Habiliments, I could catch ne'er a glimpse of her Countenance, which was entirely concealed from view by the Veil they call a Formah, which is made of a very fine gauzy stuff, but painted in body-colour in a pattern so as to make it Opaque, and so artfully disposed as to hide the Face without shading any of the splendour of the Dress. And though I could not make out so much as the tip of the Lady's Nose, I had a queer sensation that she was looking at me, nay, even that her eyes were twinkling in a merry manner under her Veil. And so I remained Dumbfoundered, quite uncertain as to the kind of Adventure that had befallen me. Had some Moorish or Turkish Dame designed only to Divert herself at the expense of a poor Christian Slave? or was the Veiled Lady only some artful Adventuress of the Jewish, Armenian, or Cophtic Nation, of whom there were many here, affecting great magnificence in their Habits and Living ?
Full Ten Minutes had the Lady so gazed upon me, I staring stupidly at her, and the Negress continuing to enjoin me to silence by putting lier finger to her Lips. Then clapping her little hands together (I mean that the Lady did, for the Black Woman's were sad Paws), in tumbles from a little door at the side of the Divan a Negro Urchin about eight years of age, very richly clad, who at her command brings Pipes and Coffee; and, signs being made to me, I sat down on a couple of Pillows on the Ground, smoked a Chibook, emptied a Cup, not much bigger than an eggshell, of Coffee,-very Bitter and Nauseous here, for they give you the Dregs as well as the Liquor,-all the while staring at the Lady as though my Eyeballs would have started out of my Head. And by this time the Sun had quite gone down, and as there is but little Twilight in these parts, the Shade of Evening fell like a great black Pall over the Room; 80 the little Black Urchin came tumbling in again with a couple of Lamps, which he set down before the Divan. These cast a very soft and rosy Light, passing through folds of Pink Silk; and as soon as my eyes grew accustomed to 'em, I could see that the Lady had raised her Veil, that she was looking upon me with a pair of Dark, Roguish, Twinkling Orbs, and that I was sitting in the presence of my kind Protectress, Lilias.
“What think you of this for an Opera Habit, goodman Cerberus ?” cried she. “Is this not much better than the Ballet of Orpheus? And, goodness! what strange Accoutrement have you, too, got into ?”
When my first ecstasies of Joy and Amazement were over, I explained to my Dear Patroness the reasons (none of my own choosing) for appearing in such a Garb as I then wore ; telling her how I had been GalleySlave, and was now Cymbal Player, to the Unbelieving Dey of Algiers; and with great Humility did I ask after her Honoured Parent, and seek to know by wbat uncommon Accident she, the erst Ballet Dancer in the King's Opera House at Paris, had come to be the tenant of this Outlandish House, and arrayed in this Heathen Habit. She answered me with that Candour and Simplicity which I ever found characteristic of her. Old Mr. Lovell was still alive, and in Paris; and this is how his Daughter had