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LIVRE:The Project Gutenberg EBook of Morocco, by S.L. Bensusan

1 Janvier 2009 , Rédigé par saladin Publié dans #Histoire et socièté

                                                                                               -7- SUITE
atures—quite childlike in many of their peculiarities.

The desert caravan trade is not what it was since the French occupied Timbuctoo and closed the oases of Tuat; but I saw some caravans arrive from the interior—one of them from the sandy region where Mons. Lebaudy has set up his kingdom. How happy men and beasts seemed to be. I never saw camels looking so contented: the customary sneer had passed from their faces—or accumulated dust had blotted it out. On the day when the market is held in the open place beyond the Bab al Khamees, there is another big gathering within the city walls by the Jamáa Effina. Here acrobats and snake-charmers and story-tellers ply their trade, and never fail to find an audience. The acrobats come from Tarudant and another large city of the Sus that is not marked in the British War Office Map of Morocco dated 1889! Occasionally one of these clever tumblers finds his way to London, and is seen at the music halls there.

I remember calling on one Hadj Abdullah when I was in the North, and to my surprise he told me he spoke English, French, German, Spanish, Turkish, Moghrebbin Arabic, and Shilha. "I know London well," he said; "I have an engagement to bring my troupe of acrobats to the Canterbury and the Oxford. I am a member of a Masonic Lodge in Camberwell." Commonplace enough all this, but when you have ridden out of town to a little Moorish house on the hillside overlooking the Mediterranean, and are drinking green tea flavoured with mint, on a diwan that must be used with crossed legs, you hardly expect the discussion to be turned to London music-halls.

Snake-charmers make a strong appeal to the untutored Moorish crowd. Black cobras and spotted leffa snakes from the Sus are used for the performance. When the charmer allows the snakes to dart at him or even to bite, the onlookers put their hands to their foreheads and praise Sidi ben Aissa, a saint who lived in Mequinez when Mulai Ismail ruled, a pious magician whose power stands even to-day between snake-charmers and sudden death. The musician who accompanies the chief performer, and collects the floos offered by spectators, works his companion into a condition of frenzy until he does not seem to feel the teeth of the snakes; but as people who should be well informed declare that the poison bags are always removed before the snakes are used for exhibition, it is hard for the mere Unbeliever to render to Sidi ben Aissa the exact amount of credit that may be due to him.


The story-teller, whose legends are to be found in the "Thousand Nights and a Night," is generally a merry rogue with ready wit. His tales are told with a wealth of detail that would place them upon the index expurgatorius of the Western world, but men, women, and children crowd round to hear them, and if his tale lacks the ingredients most desired they do not hesitate to tell him so, whereupon he will respond at once to his critics, and add love or war in accordance with their instructions. One has heard of something like this in the serial market at home. His reward is scanty, like that of his fellow-workers, the acrobat and the snake charmer, but he has quite a professional manner, and stops at the most exciting points in his narrative for his companion to make a tour of the circle to collect fees. The quality of the adventures he retails is settled always by the price paid for them.

It is a strange sight, and unpleasant to the European, who believes that his morality, like his faith, is the only genuine article, to see young girls with antimony on their eyelids and henna on their nails, listening to stories that only the late Sir Richard Burton dared to render literally into the English tongue. While these children are young and impressionable they are allowed to run wild, but from the day when they become self-conscious they are strictly secluded.

Throughout Marrakesh one notes a spirit of industry. If a man has work, he seems to be happy and well content. Most traders are very courteous and gentle in their dealings, and many have a sense of humour that cannot fail to please. While in the city I ordered one or two lamps from a workman who had a little shop in the Madinah. He asked for three days, and on the evening of the third day I went to fetch them, in company with Salam. The workman, who had made them himself, drew the lamps one by one from a dark corner, and Salam, who has a hawk's eye, noticed that the glass of one was slightly cracked.

"Have a care, O Father of Lamps," he said; "the Englishman will not take a cracked glass."

"What is this," cried the Lamps' Father in great anger, "who sells cracked lamps? If there is a flaw in one of mine, ask me for two dollars."

Salam held the lamp with cracked glass up against the light. "Two dollars," he said briefly. The tradesman's face fell. He put his tongue out and smote it with his open hand.

"Ah," he said mournfully, when he had admonished the unruly member, "who can set a curb upon the tongue?"[26]


[24] Mulai Rashed II.

[25] The royal umbrella.

[26] Cf. James iii. 8. But for a mere matter of dates, one would imagine that Luther detected the taint of Islam in James when he rejected his Epistle.





As to your slaves, see that ye feed them with such food as ye eat yourselves, and clothe them with the stuff ye wear. And if they commit a fault which ye are not willing to forgive, then sell them, for they are the servants of Allah, and are not to be tormented.

Mohammed's last Address.

In the bazaars of the brass-workers and dealers in cotton goods, in the bazaars of the saddlers and of the leather-sellers,—in short, throughout the Kaisariyah, where the most important trade of Marrakesh is carried on,—the auctions of the afternoon are drawing to a close. The dilals have carried goods to and fro in a narrow path between two lines of True Believers, obtaining the best prices possible on behalf of the dignified merchants, who sit gravely in their boxlike shops beyond the reach of toil. No merchant seeks custom: he leaves the auctioneers to sell for him on commission, while he sits at ease, a stranger to elation or disappointment, in the knowledge that the success or failure of the day's market is decreed. Many articles have changed hands, but there is now a greater attraction for men with money outside the limited area of the Kaisariyah, and I think the traffic here passes before its time.

The hour of the sunset prayer is approaching. The wealthier members of the community leave many attractive bargains unpursued, and, heedless of the dilals' frenzied cries, set out for the Sok el Abeed. Wool market in the morning and afternoon, it becomes the slave market on three days of the week, in the two hours that precede the setting of the sun and the closing of the city gates; this is the rule that holds in Red Marrakesh.

I follow the business leaders through a very labyrinth of narrow, unpaved streets, roofed here and there with frayed and tattered palmetto-leaves that offer some protection, albeit a scanty one, against the blazing sun. At one of the corners where the beggars congregate and call for alms in the name of Mulai Abd el Kader Ijjilalli, I catch a glimpse of the great Kutubia tower, with pigeons circling round its glittering dome, and then the maze of streets, shutting out the view, claims me again. The path is by way of shops containing every sort of merchandise known to Moors, and of stalls of fruit and vegetables, grateful "as water-grass to herds in the June days." Past a turning in the crowded thoroughfare, where many Southern tribesmen are assembled, and heavily-laden camels compel pedestrians to go warily, the gate of the slave market looms portentous.

A crowd of penniless idlers, to whom admittance is denied, clamours outside the heavy door, while the city urchins fight for the privilege of holding the mules of wealthy Moors, who are arriving in large numbers in response to the report that the household of a great wazeer, recently disgraced, will be offered for sale. One sees portly men of the city wearing the blue cloth selhams that bespeak wealth, country Moors who boast less costly garments, but ride mules of easy pace and heavy price, and one or two high officials of the Dar el Makhzan. All classes of the wealthy are arriving rapidly, for the sale will open in a quarter of an hour.

The portals passed, unchallenged, the market stands revealed—an open space of bare, dry ground, hemmed round with tapia walls, dust-coloured, crumbling, ruinous. Something like an arcade stretches across the centre of the ground from one side to the other of the market. Roofless now and broken down, as is the outer wall itself, and the sheds, like cattle pens, that are built all round, it was doubtless an imposing structure in days of old. Behind the outer walls the town rises on every side. I see mules and donkeys feeding, apparently on the ramparts, but really in a fandak overlooking the market. The minaret of a mosque rises nobly beside the mules' feeding-ground, and beyond there is the white tomb of a saint, with swaying palm trees round it. Doubtless this zowia gives the Sok el Abeed a sanctity that no procedure within its walls can besmirch; and, to be sure, the laws of the saint's religion are not so much outraged here as in the daily life of many places more sanctified by popular opinion.

On the ground, by the side of the human cattle pens, the wealthy patrons of the market seat themselves at their ease, arrange their djellabas and selhams in leisurely fashion, and begin to chat, as though the place were the smoking-room of a club. Water-carriers—lean, half-naked men from the Sus—sprinkle the thirsty ground, that the tramp of slaves and auctioneers may not raise too much dust. Watching them as they go about their work, with the apathy born of custom and experience, I have a sudden reminder of the Spanish bull-ring, to which the slave market bears some remote resemblance. The gathering of spectators, the watering of the ground, the sense of excitement, all strengthen the impression. There are no bulls in the torils, but there are slaves in the pens. It may be that the bulls have the better time. Their sufferings in life are certainly brief, and their careless days are very long drawn out. But I would not give the impression that the spectators here are assembled for amusement, or that my view of some of their proceedings would be comprehensible to them. However I may feel, the other occupants of this place are here in the ordinary course of business, and are certainly animated by no such fierce passions as thrill through the air of a plaza de toros. I am in the East but of the West, and "never the twain shall meet."

Within their sheds the slaves are huddled together. They will not face the light until the market

LIVRE:The Project Gutenberg EBook of Morocco, by S.L. Bensusan

1 Janvier 2009 , Rédigé par saladin Publié dans #Histoire et socièté




"Speaking of thee comforts me, and thinking of thee makes me glad."

Râod el Kartas.

The charm of Marrakesh comes slowly to the traveller, but it stays with him always, and colours his impressions of such other cities as may attract his wandering footsteps. So soon as he has left the plains behind on his way to the coast, the town's defects are relegated to the background of the picture his memory paints. He forgets the dirty lanes that serve for roads, the heaps of refuse at every corner, the pariah curs that howled or snapped at his horse's heels when he rode abroad, the roughness and discomfort of the accommodation, the poverty and disease that everywhere went hand in hand around him.

But he remembers and always will remember the city in its picturesque aspects. How can he forget Moorish hospitality, so lavishly exercised in patios where the hands of architect and gardener meet—those delightful gatherings of friends whose surroundings are recalled when he sees, even in the world of the West—

Groups under the dreaming garden trees,
And the full moon, and the white evening star.

He will never forget the Kutubia tower flanking the mosque of the Library, with its three glittering balls that are solid gold, if you care to believe the Moors (and who should know better!), though the European authorities declare they are but gilded copper. He will hear, across all intervening sea and lands, the sonorous voices of the three blind mueddins who call True Believers to prayer from the adjacent minarets. By the side of the tower, that is a landmark almost from R'hamna's far corner to the Atlas Mountains, Yusuf ibn Tachfin, who built Marrakesh, enjoys his long, last sleep in a grave unnoticed and unhonoured by the crowds of men from strange, far-off lands, who pass it every day. Yet, if the conqueror of Fez and troubler of Spain could rise from nine centuries of rest, he would find but little change in the city he set on the red plain in the shadow of the mountains. The walls of his creation remain: even the broken bridge over the river dates, men say, from his time, and certainly the faith and works of the people have not altered greatly. Caravans still fetch and carry from Fez in the north to Timbuctoo and the banks of the Niger, or reach the Bab-er-rubb with gold and ivory and slaves from the eastern oases, that France has almost sealed up. The saints' houses are there still, though the old have yielded to the new. Storks are privileged, as from earliest times, to build on the flat roofs of the city houses, and, therefore, are still besought by amorous natives to carry love's greeting to the women who take their airing on the house-tops in the afternoon. Berber from the highlands; black man from the Draa; wiry, lean, enduring trader from Tarudant and other cities of the Sus; patient frugal Saharowi from the sea of sand,—no one of them has altered greatly since the days of the renowned Yusuf. And who but he among the men who built great cities in days before Saxon and Norman had met at Senlac, could look to find his work so little scarred by time, or disguised by change? Twelve miles of rampart surround the city still, if we include the walls that guard the Sultan's maze garden, and seven of the many gates Ibn Tachfin knew are swung open to the dawn of each day now.

After the Library mosque, with its commanding tower and modest yet memorable tomb, the traveller remembers the Sultan's palace, white-walled, green-tiled, vast, imposing; and the lesser mosque of Sidi bel Abbas, to whom the beggars pray, for it is said of him that he knew God. The city's hospital stands beside this good man's grave. And here one pays tribute also to great Mulai Abd el Kader Ijjilalli, yet another saint whose name is very piously invoked among the poor. The mosque by the Dukala gate is worthy of note, and earns the salutation of all who come by way of R'hamna to Marrakesh. The Kaisariyah lingers in the memory, and on hot days in the plains, when shade is far to seek, one recalls a fine fountain with the legend "drink and admire," where the water-carriers fill their goat-skins and all beggars congregate during the hours of fire.

The Mellah, in which the town Jews live, is reached by way of the Olive Garden. It is the dirtiest part of Marrakesh, and, all things considered, the least interesting. The lanes that run between its high walls are full of indescribable filth; comparison with them makes the streets of Madinah and Kasbah almost clean. One result of the dirt is seen in the prevalence of a very virulent ophthalmia, from which three out of four of the Mellah's inhabitants seem to suffer, slightly or seriously. Few adults appear to take exercise, unless they are called abroad to trade, and when business is in a bad way the misery is very real indeed. A skilled workman is pleased to earn the native equivalent of fourteenpence for a day's labour, beginning at sunrise, and on this miserable pittance he can support a wife and family. Low wages and poor living, added to centuries of oppression, have made the Morocco Jew of the towns a pitiable creature; but on the hills, particularly among the Atlas villages, the People of the Book are healthy, athletic, and resourceful, able to use hands as well as head, and the trusted intermediary between Berber hillman and town Moor.


Being of the ancient race myself, I was received in several of the show-houses of the Mellah—places whose splendid interiors were not at all suggested by the squalid surroundings in which they were set. This is typical to some extent of all houses in Morocco, even in the coast towns, and greatly misleads the globe-trotter. There was a fine carving and colouring in many rooms, but the European furniture was, for the most part, wrongly used, and at best grotesquely out of place. Hygiene has not passed within the Mellah's walls, but a certain amount of Western tawdriness has. Patriarchal Jews of good stature and commanding presence had their dignity hopelessly spoilt by the big blue spotted handkerchief worn over the head and tied under the chin; Jewesses in rich apparel seemed quite content with the fineness within their houses, and indifferent to the mire of the streets.

I visited three synagogues, one in a private house. The approaches were in every case disgusting, but the synagogues themselves were well kept, very old, and decorated with rare and curious memorial lamps, kept alight for the dead through the year of mourning. The benches were of wood, with straw mats for cover; there was no place for women, and the seats themselves seemed to be set down without attempt at arrangement. The brasswork was old and fine, the scrolls of the Law were very ancient, but there was no sign of wealth, and little decoration. In the courtyard of the chief synagogue I found school-work in progress. Half a hundred intelligent youngsters were repeating the master's words, just as Mohammedan boys were doing in the Madinah, but even among these little ones ophthalmia was playing havoc, and doubtless the disease would pass from the unsound to the sound. Cleanliness would stamp out this trouble in a very little time, and preserve healthy children from infection. Unfortunately, the administration of this Mellah is exceedingly bad, and there is no reason to believe that it will improve.

When the Elevated Court is at Marrakesh the demand for work helps the Jewish quarter to thrive, but since the Sultan went to Fez the heads of the Mellah seem to be reluctant to lay out even a few shillings daily to have the place kept clean. There are no statistics to tell the price that is paid in human life for this shocking neglect of the elementary decencies, but it must be a heavy one.

Business premises seem clean enough, though the approach to them could hardly be less inviting. You enter a big courtyard, and, if wise, remain on your horse until well clear of the street. The courtyard is wide and cared for, an enlarged edition of a patio, with big store-rooms on either side and stabling or a granary. Here also is a bureau, in which the master sits in receipt of custom, and deals in green tea that has come from India via England, and white sugar in big loaves, and coffee and other merchandise. He is buyer and seller at once, now dealing with a native who wants tea, and now with an Atlas Jew who has an ouadad skin or a rug to sell; now talking Shilha, the language of the Berbers, now the Moghrebbin Arabic of the Moors, and again debased Spanish or Hebrew with his own brethren. He has a watchful eye for all the developments that the day may bring, and while attending to buyer or seller can take note of all his servants are doing at the stores, and what is going out or coming in. Your merchant of the better class has commercial relations with Manchester or Liverpool; he has visited England and France; perhaps some olive-skinned, black-eyed boy of his has been sent to an English school to get the wider views of life and faith, and return to the Mellah to shock his father with both, and to be shocked in turn by much in the home life that passed uncriticised before. These things lead to domestic tragedies at times, and yet neither son nor father is quite to blame.

The best class of Jew in the Mellah has ideas and ideals, but outside the conduct of his business he lacks initiative. He believes most firmly in the future of the Jewish race, the ultimate return to Palestine, the advent of the Messiah. Immersed in these beliefs, he does not see dirt collecting in the streets and killing little children with the diseases it engenders. Gradually the grime settles on his faith too, and he loses sight of everything save commercial ends and the observances that orthodoxy demands. His, one fears, is a quite hopeless case. The attention of philanthropy might well turn to the little ones, however. For their sake some of the material benefits of modern knowledge should be brought to Jewry in Marrakesh. Schools are excellent, but children cannot live by school learning alone.

Going from the Mellah one morning I saw a strange sight. By the entrance to the salted place there is a piece of bare ground stretching to the wall. Here sundry young Jews in black djellabas sat at their ease, their long hair curled over their ears, and black caps on their heads in place of the handkerchiefs favoured by the elders of the community. One or two women were coming from the Jewish market, their bright dresses and uncovered faces a pleasing contrast to the white robes and featureless aspect of the Moorish women. A little Moorish boy, seeing me regard them with interest, remarked solemnly, "There go those who will never look upon the face of God's prophet," and then a shareef, whose portion in Paradise was of course reserved to him by reason of his high descent, rode into the open ground from the Madinah. I regret to record the fact that the holy man was drunk, whether upon haschisch or the strong waters of the infidel, I know not, and to all outward seeming his holiness alone sufficed to keep him on the back of the spirited horse he bestrode. He went very near to upsetting a store of fresh vegetables belonging to a True Believer, and then nearly crushed an old man against the wall. He raised his voice, but not to pray, and the people round him were in sore perplexity. He was too holy to remove by force and too drunk to persuade, so the crowd, realising that he was divinely directed, raised a sudden shout. This served. The hot-blooded Barb made a rush for the arcade leading to the Madinah and carried the drunken saint with him, cursing at the top of his voice, but sticking to his unwieldy saddle in manner that was admirable and truly Moorish. If he had not been holy he would have been torn from his horse, and, in native speech, would have "eaten the stick," for drunkenness is a grave offence in orthodox Morocco.


They have a short way with offenders in Moorish cities. I remember seeing a man brought to the Kasbah of a northern town on a charge of using false measures. The case was held proven by the khalifa; the culprit was stripped to the waist, mounted on a lame donkey, and driven through the streets, while two stalwart soldiers, armed with sticks, beat him until he dropped to the ground. He was picked up more dead than alive, and thrown into prison.

There are two sorts of market in Marrakesh—the open market outside the walls, and the auction market in the Kaisariyah. The latter opens in the afternoon, by which time every little boxlike shop is tenanted by its proprietor. How he climbs into his place without upsetting his stores, and how, arrived there, he can sit for hours without cramp, are questions I have never been able to answer, though I have watched him scores of times. He comes late in the day to his shop, lets down one of the covering flaps, and takes his seat by the step inside it. The other flap has been raised and is kept up by a stick. Seated comfortably, he looks with dispassionate eye upon the gathering stream of life before him, and waits contentedly until it shall please Allah the One to send custom. Sometimes he occupies his time by reading in the Perspicuous Book; on rare occasions he will leave his little nest and make dignified way to the shop of an adool or scribe, who reads pious writings to a select company of devotees. In this way the morning passes, and in the afternoon the mart becomes crowded, country Moors riding right up to the entrance chains, and leaving their mules in the charge of slaves who have accompanied them on foot. Town buyers and country buyers, with a miscellaneous gathering of tribesmen from far-off districts, fill the bazaar, and then the merchants hand certain goods to dilals, as the auctioneers are called. The crowd divides on either side of the bazaar, leaving a narrow lane down the centre, and the dilals rush up and down with their wares,—linen, cotton and silk goods, carpets, skins or brassware, native daggers and pistols, saddles and saddle-cloths. The goods vary in every bazaar. The dilal announces the last price offered; a man who wishes to buy must raise it, and, if none will go better, he secures the bargain. A commission on all goods sold is taken at the door of the market by the municipal authorities. I notice on these afternoons the different aspects of the three classes represented in the bazaar. Shopkeepers and the officials by the gate display no interest at all in the proceedings: they might be miles from the scene, so far as their attitude is a clue. The dilals, on the other hand, are in furious earnest. They run up and down the narrow gangway proclaiming the last price at the top of their voices, thrusting the goods eagerly into the hands of possible purchasers, and always remembering the face and position of the man who made the last bid. They have a small commission on the price of everything sold, and assuredly they earn their wage. In contrast with the attitudes of both shopkeepers and auctioneers, the general public is inclined to regard the bazaar as a place of entertainment. Beggar lads, whose scanty rags constitute their sole possession, chaff the excited dilals, keeping carefully out of harm's way the while. Three-fourths of the people present are there to idle the afternoon hours, with no intention of making a purchase unless some unexpected bargain crosses their path. I notice that the dilals secure several of these doubtful purchasers by dint of fluent and eloquent appeals. When the last article has been sold and the crowd is dispersing, merchants arise, praise Allah, who in his wisdom sends good days and bad, step out of their shop, let down one flap and raise the other, lock the two with a huge key and retire to their homes.

I remember asking a Moor to explain why the Jews were so ill-treated and despised all over Morocco. The worthy man explained that the Koran declares that no True Believer might take Jew or Christian to be his friend, that the Veracious Book also assures the Faithful that Jews will be turned to pigs or monkeys for their unbelief, and that the metamorphosis will be painful. "Moreover," said the True Believer, who did not know that I was of the despised race, "do you not know that one of these cursed people tried to seize the throne in the time of the great Tafilatta?"

I pleaded ignorance.

"Do you not know the Feast of Scribes, that is held in Marrakesh and Fez?" he asked.

Again I had to make confession that, though I had heard about the Feast, I had never witnessed it.

"Only Allah is omniscient," he said by way of consolation. "Doubtless there are some small matters known to Nazarenes and withheld from us—strange though that may seem to the thoughtful.

"In the name of the Most Merciful—know that there was a ruler in Taza before Mulai Ismail—Prince of the Faithful, he who overcame in the name of God—reigned in the land. Now this ruler[24] had a Jew for wazeer. When it pleased Allah to take the Sultan and set him in the pavilion of Mother of Pearl appointed for him in Paradise, in the shadow of the Tuba tree, this Jew hid his death from the people until he could seize the throne of Taza for himself and ride out under the M'dhal.[25] Then Mulai Ismail protested to the people, and the Tolba (scribes) arranged to remove the reproach from the land. So they collected forty of their bravest men and packed them in boxes—one man in a box. They put two boxes on a mule and drove the twenty mules to the courtyard of the palace that the Jew had taken for himself. The man in charge of the mules declared he had a present for the Sultan, and the Unbeliever, whose grave was to be the meeting-place of all the dogs of Taza, gave orders that the boxes should be brought in and set before him. This was done, and the cursed Jew prepared to gloat over rich treasure. But as each box was opened a talib rose suddenly, a naked sword in his hand, and falling bravely upon the unbelieving one, cut his body to pieces, while Shaitan hurried his soul to the furnace that is seven times heated and shall never cool.


"Then the Father of the Faithful, the Ever Victorious," continued the True Believer, "decreed that the tolba should have a festival. And every year they meet in Marrakesh and Fez, and choose a talib who is to rule over them. The post is put up to auction; he who bids highest is Sultan for a week. He rides abroad on a fine horse or mule, under a M'dhal, as though he were indeed My Lord Abd-el-Aziz himself. Black slaves on either side brush away the flies with their white clothes, soldiers await to do his bidding, he is permitted to make a request to the true Sultan, and our Master has open ear and full hand for the tolba, who kept the Moghreb from the Unbelievers, the inheritors of the Fire, against whom Sidna Mohammed has turned his face."

I arrived in Marrakesh just too late to witness the reign of the talib, but I heard that the successful candidate had paid thirty-two dollars for the post—a trifle less than five pounds in our money, at the rate of exchange then current. This money had been divided among the tolba. The governor of Marrakesh had given the lucky king one hundred dollars in cash, thirty sheep, twenty-five cones of sugar, forty jars of butter, and several sacks of flour. This procedure is peculiar to the Southern capital. In Fez the tolba kings collect taxes in person from every householder.

The talib's petition to the Sultan had been framed on a very liberal scale. He asked for a home in Saffi, exemption from taxes, and a place in the custom-house. The Sultan had not responded to the petition when I left the city; he was closely beleaguered in Fez, and Bu Hamara was occupying Taza, the ancient city where the deed of the tolba had first instituted the quaint custom. My informant said there was little doubt but that his Shareefian majesty would grant all the requests, so the talib's investment of thirty-two dollars must be deemed highly profitable. At the same time I cannot find the story I was told confirmed by Moorish historians. No record to which I have had access tells of a Jewish king of Taza, though there was a Hebrew in high favour there in the time of Rasheed II. The details of the story told me are, as the American scribe said, probably attributable to Mr. Benjamin Trovato.

When the attractions of Kaisariyah palled, the markets beyond the walls never failed to revive interest in the city's life. The Thursday market outside the Bab al Khamees brought together a very wonderful crowd of men and goods. All the city's trade in horses, camels, and cattle was done here. The caravan traders bought or hired their camels, and there were fine animals for sale with one fore and one hind leg hobbled, to keep them from straying. The camels were always the most interesting beasts on view. For the most part their attendants were Saharowi, who could control them seemingly by voice or movement of the hand; but a camel needs no little care, particularly at feeding time, when he is apt to turn spiteful if precedence be given to an animal he does not like. They are marvellously touchy and fastidious creatures—quite childlike in many of their peculiarities.

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LIVRE:The Project Gutenberg EBook of Morocco, by S.L. Bensusan

1 Janvier 2009 , Rédigé par saladin Publié dans #Histoire et socièté

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I could do no more than deliver messages of consolation to the poor tribesmen, who sat in a semicircle, patient in the quivering heat. The old story of goodwill and inability had to be told again, and I never saw men more dejected. At the moment of leave-taking, however, I remembered that we had some empty mineral-water bottles and a large collection of gunmaker's circulars, that had been used as padding for a case of cartridges. So I distributed the circulars and empty bottles among the protection hunters, and they received them with wonder and delight. When I turned to take a last look round, the pages that had pictures of guns were being passed reverently from hand to hand; to outward seeming the farmers had forgotten their trouble. Thus easily may kindnesses be wrought among the truly simple of this world.

The market of Sidi B'noor is famous for its sales of slaves and horses,[15] but I remember it best by its swarm of blue rock-pigeons and sparrow-hawks, that seemed to live side by side in the walls surrounding the saint's white tomb. For reasons best known to themselves they lived without quarrelling, perhaps because the saint was a man of peace. Surely a sparrow-hawk in our island would not build his nest and live in perfect amity with pigeons. But, as is well known, the influence of the saintly endures after the flesh of the saint has returned to the dust whence it came.

The difference between Dukala and R'hamna, two adjacent provinces, is very marked. All that the first enjoys the second lacks. We left the fertile lands for great stony plains, wind-swept, bare and dry. Skeletons of camels, mules, and donkeys told their story of past sufferings, and the water supply was as scanty as the herbage upon which the R'hamna flocks fare so poorly. In place of prosperous douars, set in orchards amid rich arable land, there were Government n'zalas at long intervals in the waste, with wattled huts, and lean, hungry tribesmen, whose poverty was as plain to see as their ribs. Neither Basha nor Kaid could well grow fat now in such a place, and yet there was a time when R'hamna was a thriving province after its kind. But it had a warlike people and fierce, to whom the temptation of plundering the caravans that made their way to the Southern capital was irresistible. So the Court Elevated by Allah, taking advantage of a brief interval of peace, turned its forces loose against R'hamna early in the last decade of the nineteenth century. From end to end of its plains the powder "spoke," and the burning douars lighted the roads that their owners had plundered so often. Neither old nor young were spared, and great basketsful of human heads were sent to Red Marrakesh, to be spiked upon the wall by the J'maa Effina. When the desolation was complete from end to end of the province, the Shareefian troops were withdrawn, the few remaining folk of R'hamna were sent north and south to other provinces, the n'zalas were established in place of the forgotten douars, and the Elevated Court knew that there would be no more complaints. That was Mulai el Hassan's method of ruling—may Allah have pardoned him—and his grand wazeer's after him. It is perhaps the only method that is truly understood by the people in Morocco. R'hamna reminded me of the wildest and bleakest parts of Palestine, and when the Maalem said solemnly it was tenanted by djinoon since the insurrection, I felt he must certainly be right.

One evening we met an interesting procession. An old farmer was making his way from the jurisdiction of the local kaid. His "house" consisted of two wives and three children. A camel, whose sneering contempt for mankind was very noticeable, shuffled cumbrously beneath a very heavy load of mattresses, looms, rugs, copper kettles, sacks of corn, and other impedimenta. The wives, veiled to the eyes, rode on mules, each carrying a young child; the third child, a boy, walked by his father's side. The barley harvest had not been good in their part of the country, so after selling what he could, the old man had packed his goods on to the camel's back and was flying from the tax-gatherer. To be sure, he might meet robbers on the way to the province of M'touga, which was his destination, but they would do no more than the kaid of his own district; they might even do less. He had been many days upon the road, and was quaintly hopeful. I could not help thinking of prosperous men one meets at home, who declare, in the intervals of a costly dinner, that the Income Tax is an imposition that justifies the strongest protest, even to the point of repudiating the Government that puts it up by twopence in the pound. Had anybody been able to assure this old wanderer that his kaid or khalifa would be content with half the produce of his land, how cheerfully would he have returned to his native douar, how readily he would have—devised plans to avoid payment. A little later the track would be trodden by other families, moving, like the true Bedouins, in search of fresh pasture. It is the habit of the country to leave land to lie fallow when it has yielded a few crops.

There were days when the mirage did for the plain the work that man had neglected. It set great cities on the waste land as though for our sole benefit. I saw walls and battlements, stately mosques, cool gardens, and rivers where caravans of camels halted for rest and water. Several times we were deceived and hurried on, only to find that the wonder city, like the ignis fatuus of our own marshlands, receded as we approached and finally melted away altogether. Then the Maalem, after taking refuge with Allah from Satan the Stoned, who set false cities before the eyes of tired travellers, would revile the mules and horses for needing a mirage to urge them on the way; he would insult the fair fame of their mothers and swear that their sires were such beasts as no Believer would bestride. It is a fact that when the Maalem lashed our animals with his tongue they made haste to improve their pace, if only for a few minutes, and Salam, listening with an expression of some concern at the sad family history of the beasts—he had a stinging tongue for oaths himself—assured me that their sense of shame hurried them on. Certainly no sense of shame, or duty, or even compassion, ever moved the Maalem. By night he would repair to the kitchen tent and smoke kief or eat haschisch, but the troubles of preparing beds and supper did not worry him.


"Until the feast is prepared, why summon the guest," he said on a night when the worthy M'Barak, opening his lips for once, remonstrated with him. That evening the feast consisted of some soup made from meat tablets, and two chickens purchased for elevenpence the pair, of a market woman we met on the road. Yet if it was not the feast the Maalem's fancy painted it, our long hours in the open air had served to make it more pleasant than many a more elaborate meal.

We rode one morning through the valley of the Little Hills, once a place of unrest notorious by reason of several murders committed there, and deserted now by everything save a few birds of prey. There were gloomy rocks on all sides, the dry bed of a forgotten river offered us an uncomfortable and often perilous path, and we passed several cairns of small stones. The Maalem left his mule in order to pick up stones and add one to each cairn, and as he did so he cursed Satan with great fluency.[16]

It was a great relief to leave the Little Hills and emerge on to the plains of Hillreeli beyond. We had not far to go then before the view opened out, the haze in the far distance took faint shape of a city surrounded by a forest of palms on the western side, a great town with the minarets of many mosques rising from it. At this first view of Red Marrakesh, Salam, the Maalem, and M'Barak extolled Allah, who had renewed to them the sight of Yusuf ibn Tachfin's thousand-year-old city. Then they praised Sidi bel Abbas, the city's patron saint, who by reason of his love for righteous deeds stood on one leg for forty years, praying diligently all the time.

We each and all rendered praise and thanks after our separate fashions, and for me, I lit my last cigarette, careless of the future and well pleased.


[13] As the gnat settles he cries, "Habibi," i.e. "O my beloved." His, one fears, is but a carnal affection.

[14] I.e. Wives and children, to whom no Moor refers by name.

[15] It is said to be the largest market in the Sultan's dominions. As many as two thousand camels have been counted at one of the weekly gatherings here.

[16] The cairns are met frequently in Morocco. Some mark the place from which the traveller may obtain his first view of a near city; others are raised to show where a murder was committed. The cairns in the Little Hills are of the former kind.





Think, in this batter'd Caravanserai,
Whose portals are alternate Night and Day,
How Sultán after Sultán with his pomp
Abode his destined hour and went his way.
The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám.

There are certain cities that cannot be approached for the first time by any sympathetic traveller without a sense of solemnity and reverence that is not far removed from awe. Athens, Rome, Constantinople, Damascus, and Jerusalem may be cited as examples; each in its turn has filled me with great wonder and deep joy. But all of these are to be reached nowadays by the railway, that great modern purge of sensibility. Even Jerusalem is not exempt. A single line stretches from Jaffa by the sea to the very gates of the Holy City, playing hide-and-seek among the mountains of Judæa by the way, because the Turk was too poor to tunnel a direct path.

In Morocco, on the other hand, the railway is still unknown. He who seeks any of the country's inland cities must take horse or mule, camel or donkey, or, as a last resource, be content with a staff to aid him, and walk. Whether he fare to Fez, the city of Mulai Idrees, in which, an old writer assures us, "all the beauties of the earth are united"; or to Mequinez, where great Mulai Ismail kept a stream of human blood flowing constantly from his palace that all might know he ruled; or to Red Marrakesh, which Yusuf ibn Tachfin built nine hundred years ago,—his own exertion must convoy him. There must be days and nights of scant fare and small comfort, with all those hundred and one happenings of the road that make for pleasant memories. So far as I have been able to gather in the nine years that have passed since I first visited Morocco, one road is like another road, unless you have the Moghrebbin Arabic at your command and can go off the beaten track in Moorish dress. Walter Harris, the resourceful traveller and Times correspondent, did this when he sought the oases of Tafilalt, so also, in his fashion, did R.B. Cunninghame Graham when he tried in vain to reach Tarudant, and set out the record of his failure in one of the most fascinating travel books published since Eothen.[17]

For the rank and file of us the Government roads and the harmless necessary soldier must suffice, until the Gordian knot of Morocco's future has been untied or cut. Then perhaps, as a result of French pacific penetration, flying railway trains loaded with tourists, guide-book in hand and camera at the ready, will pierce the secret places of the land, and men will speak of "doing" Morocco, as they "do" other countries in their rush across the world, seeing all the stereotyped sights and appreciating none. For the present, by Allah's grace, matters are quite otherwise.

Marrakesh unfolded its beauties to us slowly and one by one as we pushed horses and mules into a canter over the level plains of Hillreeli. Forests of date-palm took definite shape; certain mosques, those of Sidi ben Yusuf and Bab Dukala, stood out clearly before us without the aid of glasses, but the Library mosque dominated the landscape by reason of the Kutubia tower by its side. The Atlas Mountains came out of the clouds and revealed the snows that would soon melt and set every southern river aflood, and then the town began to show limits to the east and west where, at first, there was nothing but haze. One or two caravans passed us, northward bound, their leaders hoping against hope that the Pretender, the "dog-descended," as a Susi trader called him, would not stand between them and the Sultan's camp, where the profits of the journey lay. By this time we could see the old grey wall of Marrakesh more plainly, with towers here and there, ruinous as the wall itself, and storks' nests on the battlements, their red-legged inhabitants fulfilling the duty of sentries. To the right, beyond the town, the great rock of Djebel Geelez suggested infinite possibilities in days to come, when some conqueror armed with modern weapons and a pacific mission should wish to bombard the walls in the sacred cause of civilisation. Then the view was lost in the date-palm forest, through which tiny tributaries of the Tensift run babbling over the red earth, while the kingfisher or dragon-fly, "a ray of living light," flashes over the shallow water, and young storks take their first lessons in the art of looking after themselves.

When a Moor has amassed wealth he praises God, builds a palace, and plants a garden; or, is suspected, accused—despotic authority is not particular—and cast into prison! In and round Marrakesh many Moors have gained riches and some have held them. The gardens stretch for miles. There are the far-spreading Augdal plantations of the Sultans of Morocco, in part public and elsewhere so private that to intrude would be to court death. The name signifies "the Maze," and they are said to justify it. In the outer or public grounds of this vast pleasaunce the fruit is sold by auction to the merchants of the city in late spring, when blossoming time is over, and, after the sale, buyers must watch and guard the trees until harvest brings them their reward.


We rode past the low-walled gardens, where pomegranate and apricot trees were flowering, and strange birds I did not know sang in the deep shade. Doves flitted from branch to branch, bee-eaters darted about among mulberry and almond trees. There was an overpowering fragrance from the orange groves, where blossom and unplucked fruit showed side by side; the jessamine bushes were scarcely less fragrant. Spreading fig-trees called every passer to enjoy their shade, and the little rivulets, born of the Tensift's winter floods to sparkle through the spring and die in June, were fringed with willows. It was delightful to draw rein and listen to the plashing of water and the cooing of doves, while trying in vain to recognise the most exquisite among many sweet scents.

Under one of the fig-trees in a garden three Moors sat at tea. A carpet was spread, and I caught a glimpse of the copper kettle, the squat charcoal brazier tended by a slave, the quaint little coffer filled no doubt with fine green tea, the porcelain dish of cakes. It was a quite pleasing picture, at which, had courtesy permitted, I would have enjoyed more than a brief glance.

The claim of the Moors upon our sympathy and admiration is made greater by reason of their love for gardens. As a matter of fact, their devotion may be due in part to the profit yielded by the fruit, but one could afford to forget that fact for the time being, when Nature seemed to be giving praise to the Master of all seasons for the goodly gifts of the spring.

We crossed the Tensift by the bridge, one of the very few to be found in Southern Morocco. It has nearly thirty arches, all dilapidated as the city walls themselves, yet possessing their curious gift of endurance. Even the natives realise that their bridge is crumbling into uselessness, after nearly eight centuries of service, but they do no more than shrug their shoulders, as though to cast off the burden of responsibility and give it to destiny. On the outskirts of the town, where gardens end and open market-squares lead to the gates, a small group of children gathered to watch the strangers with an interest in which fear played its part. We waited now to see the baggage animals before us, and then M'Barak led the way past the mosque at the side of the Bab el Khamees and through the brass-covered doors that were brought by the Moors from Spain. Within the Khamees gate, narrow streets with windowless walls frowning on either side shut out all view, save that which lay immediately before us.


No untrained eye can follow the winding maze of streets in Marrakesh, and it is from the Moors we learn that the town, like ancient Gaul of Cæsar's Commentaries, has three well defined divisions. The Kasbah is the official quarter, where the soldiers and governing officials have their home, and the prison called Hib Misbah receives all evil-doers, and men whose luck is ill. The Madinah is the general Moorish quarter, and embraces the Kaisariyah or bazaar district, where the streets are parallel, well cleaned, thatched with palm and palmetto against the light, and barred with a chain at either end to keep the animals from entering. The Mellah (literally "salted place") is the third great division of Marrakesh, and is the Jewish quarter. In this district, or just beyond it, are a few streets that seem reserved to the descendants of Mulai Ismail's black guards, from whom our word "blackguard" should have come to us, but did not. Within these divisions streets, irregular and without a name, turn and twist in manner most bewildering, until none save old residents may hope to know their way about. Pavements are unknown, drainage is in its most dangerous infancy, the rainy season piles mud in every direction, and, as though to test the principle embodied in the homoeopathic theory, the Marrakshis heap rubbish and refuse in every street, where it decomposes until the enlightened authorities who dwell in the Kasbah think to give orders for its removal. Then certain men set out with donkeys and carry the sweepings of the gutters beyond the gates.[18] This work is taken seriously in the Madinah, but in the Mellah it is shamefully neglected, and I have ridden through whole streets in the last-named quarter searching vainly for a place clean enough to permit of dismounting. Happily, or unhappily, as you will, the inhabitants are inured from birth to a state of things that must cause the weaklings to pay heavy toll to Death, the Lord who rules even Sultans.

I had little thought to spare for such matters as we rode into Marrakesh for the first time. The spell of the city was overmastering. It is certainly the most African city in Morocco to-day, almost the last survivor of the changes that began in the latter half of the nineteenth century, and have brought the Dark Continent from end to end within the sphere of European influence. Fez and Mequinez are cities of fair men, while here on every side one recognised the influence of the Soudan and the country beyond the great desert. Not only have the wives and concubines brought from beyond the great sand sea darkened the skin of the present generation of the Marrakshis, but they have given to most if not to all a suggestion of relationship to the negro races that is not to be seen in any other Moorish city I have visited. It is not a suggestion of fanaticism or intolerance. By their action as well as their appearance one knew most of the passers for friends rather than enemies. They would gratify their curiosity at our expense as we gratified ours at theirs, convinced that all Europeans are harmless, uncivilised folk from a far land, where people smoke tobacco, drink wine, suffer their women-folk to go unveiled, and live without the True Faith.

Marrakesh, like all other inland cities of Morocco, has neither hotel nor guest-house. It boasts some large fandaks, notably that of Hadj Larbi, where the caravans from the desert send their merchandise and chief merchants, but no sane European will choose to seek shelter in a fandak in Morocco unless there is no better place available. There are clean fandaks in Sunset Land, but they are few and you must travel far to find them. I had letters to the chief civilian resident of Marrakesh, Sidi Boubikir, British Political Agent, millionaire, land-owner, financier, builder of palaces, politician, statesman, and friend of all Englishmen who are well recommended to his care. I had heard much of the clever old Moor, who was born in very poor surroundings, started life as a camel driver, and is now the wealthiest and most powerful unofficial resident in Southern Morocco, if not in all the Moghreb, so I bade M'Barak find him without delay. The first person questioned directed us to one of Boubikir's fandaks, and by its gate, in a narrow lane, where camels jostled the camp-mules until they nearly foundered in the underlying filth, we found the celebrated man sitting within the porch, on an old packing-case.

He looked up for a brief moment when the kaid dismounted and handed him my letter, and I saw a long, closely-shaven face, lighted by a pair of grey eyes that seemed much younger than the head in which they were set, and perfectly inscrutable. He read the letter, which was in Arabic, from end to end, and then gave me stately greeting.

"You are very welcome," he said. "My house and all it holds are yours."

I replied that we wanted nothing more than a modest shelter for the days of our sojourn in the city. He nodded.

"Had you advised me of your visit in time," he said, "my best house should have been prepared. Now I will send with you my steward, who has the keys of all my houses. Choose which you will have." I thanked him, the steward appeared, a stout, well-favoured man, whose djellaba was finer than his master's. Sidi Boubikir pointed to certain keys, and at a word several servants gathered about us. The old man said that he rejoiced to serve the friend of his friends, and would look forward to seeing me during our stay. Then we followed into an ill-seeming lane, now growing dark with the fall of evening.

We turned down an alley more muddy than the one just left behind, passed under an arch by a fruit stall with a covering of tattered palmetto, caught a brief glimpse of a mosque minaret, and heard the mueddin calling the Faithful to evening prayer. In the shadow of the mosque, at the corner of the high-walled lane, there was a heavy metal-studded door. The steward thrust a key into its lock, turned it, and we passed down a passage into an open patio. It was a silent place, beyond the reach of the street echoes; there were four rooms built round the patio on the ground floor, and three or four above. One side of the tower of the minaret was visible from the courtyard, but apart from that the place was nowhere overlooked. To be sure, it was very dirty, but I had an idea that the steward had brought his men out for business, not for an evening stroll, so I bade Salam assure him that this place, known to the Marrakshis as Dar al Kasdir,[19] would serve our purposes.

A thundering knock at the gate announced a visitor, one of Sidi Boubikir's elder sons, a civil, kindly-looking Moor, whose face inspired confidence. Advised of our choice he suggested we should take a stroll while the men cleaned and prepared the patio and the rooms opening upon it. Then the mules, resting for the time in his father's fandak, would bring their burdens home, and we could enjoy our well-earned rest.


We took this good counsel, and on our return an hour later, a very complete transformation had been effected. Palmetto brooms, and water brought from an adjacent well, had made the floor look clean and clear. The warmth of the air had dried everything, the pack-mules had been relieved of their load and sent back to the stable. Two little earthen braziers full of charcoal were glowing merrily under the influence of the bellows that M'Barak wielded skilfully, and two earthen jars of water with palm leaves for corks had been brought in by our host's servants. In another hour the camp beds were unpacked and made up, a rug was set on the bedroom floor, and the little table and chairs were put in the middle of the patio. From the alcove where Salam squatted behind the twin fires came the pleasant scent of supper; M'Barak, his well-beloved gun at his side, sat silent and thoughtful in another corner, and the tiny clay bowl of the Maalem's long wooden kief pipe was comfortably aglow.

There was a timid knock at the door, the soldier opened it and admitted the shareef. I do not know his name nor whence he came, but he walked up to Salam, greeted him affectionately, and offered his services while we were in the city. Twenty years old perhaps, at an outside estimate, very tall and thin and poorly clad, the shareef was not the least interesting figure I met in Marrakesh. A shareef is a saint in Morocco as in every other country of Islam, and his title implies descent from Mohammed. He may be very poor indeed, but he is more or less holy, devout men kiss the hem of his djellaba, no matter how dirty or ragged it may be, and none may curse a shareef's ancestors, for the Prophet was one of them. His youthful holiness had known Salam in Fez, and had caught sight of him by Boubikir's fandak in the early afternoon. Salam, himself a chief in his own land, though fallen on evil days then and on worse ones since, welcomed the newcomer and brought his offer to me, adding the significant information that the young shareef, who was too proud to beg, had not tasted food in the past forty-eight hours. He had then owed a meal to some Moor, who, following a well-known custom, had set a bowl of food outside his house to conciliate devils. I accepted the proffered service, and had no occasion to regret my action. The young Moor was never in the way and never out of the way, he went cheerfully on errands to all parts of the city, fetched and carried without complaint, and yet never lost the splendid dignity that seemed to justify his claim to saintship.

So we took our ease in the open patio, and the shareef's long fast was broken, and the stars came to the aid of our lanterns, and when supper was over I was well content to sit and smoke, while Salam, M'Barak, the Maalem, and the shareef sat silent round the glowing charcoal, perhaps too tired to talk. It was very pleasant to feel at home after two or three weeks under canvas below Mediunah and along the southern road.

The Maalem rose at last, somewhat unsteadily after his debauch of kief. He moved to where our provisions were stocked and took oil and bread from the store. Then he sought the corner of the wall by the doorway and poured out a little oil and scattered crumbs, repeating the performance at the far end of the patio. This duty done, he bade Salam tell me that it was a peace-offering to the souls of the departed who had inhabited this house before we came to it. I apprehend they might have resented the presence of the Infidel had they not been soothed by the Maalem's little attention. He was ever a firm believer in djinoon, and exorcised them with unfailing regularity. The abuse he heaped on Satan must have added largely to the burden of sorrows under which we are assured the fallen angel carries out his appointed work. He had been profuse in his prayers and curses when we entered the barren pathway of the Little Hills behind the plains of Hillreeli, and there were times when I had felt quite sorry for Satan. Oblation offered to the house spirits, the Maalem asked for his money, the half due at the journey's end, sober enough, despite the kief, to count the dollars carefully, and make his farewell with courteous eloquence. I parted with him with no little regret, and look forward with keen pleasure to the day when I shall summon him once again from the bakehouse of Djedida to bring his mules and guide me over the open road, perchance to some destination more remote. I think he will come willingly, and that the journey will be a happy one. The shareef drew the heavy bolt behind the Maalem, and we sought our beds.

It was a brief night's rest. The voice of the mueddin, chanting the call to prayer and the Shehad,[20] roused me again, refreshed. The night was passing; even as the sonorous voice of the unseen chanted his inspiring "Allah Akbar," it was yielding place to the moments when "the Wolf-tail[21] sweeps the paling east."

I looked out of my little room that opened on to the patio. The arch of heaven was swept and garnished, and from "depths blown clear of cloud" great stars were shining whitely. The breeze of early morning stirred, penetrating our barred outer gates, and bringing a subtle fragrance from the beflowered groves that lie beyond the city. It had a freshness that demanded from one, in tones too seductive for denial, prompt action. Moreover, we had been rising before daylight for some days past in order that we might cover a respectable distance before the Enemy should begin to blaze intolerably above our heads, commanding us to seek the shade of some chance fig-tree or saint's tomb.

So I roused Salam, and together we drew the creaking bolts, bringing the kaid to his feet with a jump. There was plenty of time for explanation, because he always carried his gun, at best a harmless weapon, in the old flannel case secured by half a dozen pieces of string, with knots that defied haste. He warned us not to go out, since the djinoon were always abroad in the streets before daylight; but, seeing our minds set, he bolted the door upon us, as though to keep them from the Dar al Kasdir, and probably returned to his slumbers.


Beyond the house, in a faint glow that was already paling the stars, the African city, well-nigh a thousand years old, assumed its most mysterious aspect. The high walls on either side of the roads, innocent of casements as of glass, seemed, in the uncertain light, to be tinted with violet amid their dull grey. The silence was complete and weird. Never a cry from man or beast removed the first impression that this was a city of the dead. The entrances of the bazaars in the Kaisariyah, to which we turned, were barred and bolted, their guardians sat motionless, covered in white djellabas, that looked like shrouds. The city's seven gates were fast closed, though doubtless there were long files of camels and market men waiting patiently without. The great mansions of the wazeers and the green-tiled palace of Mulai Abd-el-Aziz—Our Victorious Master the Sultan—seemed unsubstantial as one of those cities that the mirage had set before us in the heart of the R'hamna plains. Salam, the untutored man from the far Riff country, felt the spell of the silent morning hour. It was a primitive appeal, to which he responded instantly, moving quietly by my side without a word.

"O my masters, give charity; Allah helps helpers!" A blind beggar, sitting by the gate, like Bartimæus of old, thrust his withered hand before me. Lightly though we had walked, his keen ear had known the difference in sound between the native slipper and the European boot. It had roused him from his slumbers, and he had calculated the distance so nicely that the hand, suddenly shot out, was well within reach of mine. Salam, my almoner, gave him a handful of the copper money, called floos, of which a score may be worth a penny, and he sank back in his uneasy seat with voluble thanks, not to us, but to Allah the One, who had been pleased to move us to work his will. To me no thanks were due. I was no more than Allah's unworthy medium, condemned to burn in fires seven times heated, for unbelief.

From their home on the flat house-tops two storks rose suddenly, as though to herald the dawn; the sun became visible above the city's time-worn walls, and turned their colouring from violet to gold. We heard the guards drawing the bars of the gate that is called Bab al Khamees, and knew that the daily life of Marrakesh had begun. The great birds might have given the signal that woke the town to activity.

Straightway men and beasts made their way through the narrow cobbled lanes. Sneering camels, so bulked out by their burdens that a foot-passenger must shrink against the wall to avoid a bad bruising; well-fed horses, carrying some early-rising Moor of rank on the top of seven saddle-cloths; half-starved donkeys, all sores and bruises; one encountered every variety of Moorish traffic here, and the thoroughfare, that had been deserted a moment before, was soon thronged. In addition to the Moors and Susi traders, there were many slaves, black as coal, brought in times past from the Soudan. From garden and orchard beyond the city the fruit and flowers and vegetables were being carried into their respective markets, and as they passed the air grew suddenly fragrant with a scent that was almost intoxicating. The garbage that lay strewn over the cobbles had no more power to offend, and the fresh scents added in some queer fashion of their own to the unreality of the whole scene.

To avoid the crush we turned to another quarter of the city, noting that the gates of the bazaars were opened, and that only the chains were left across the entrance. But the tiny shops, mere overgrown packing-cases, were still locked up; the merchants, who are of higher rank than the dealers in food-stuffs, seldom appear before the day is aired, and their busiest hours are in the afternoon, when the auction is held. "Custom is from Allah," they say, and, strong in this belief, they hold that time is only valuable as leisure. And, God wot, they may well be wiser herein than we are.

A demented countryman, respected as a saint by reason of his madness, a thing of rags and tatters and woefully unkempt hair, a quite wild creature, more than six feet high, and gaunt as a lightning-smitten pine, came down the deserted bazaar of the brass-workers. He carried a long staff in one hand, a bright tin bowl in the other. The sight of a European heightened his usual frenzy—

Across his sea of mind
A thought came streaming like a blazing ship
Upon a mighty wind.

I saw the sinews stand out on the bare arm that gripped the staff, and his bright eyes were soon fixed upon me. "You do not say words to him, sir," whispered Salam; "he do'n know what he do—he very holy man."

The madman spat on my shadow, and cursed profoundly, while his passion was mastering him. I noted with interest in that uncomfortable moment the clear signs of his epileptic tendencies, the twitching of the thumb that grasped the stick, the rigidity of the body, the curious working of certain facial muscles. I stood perfectly still, though my right hand involuntarily sought the pocket of my coat where my revolver lay, the use of which save in direst necessity had been a mad and wicked act; and then two peace-loving Moors, whose blue selhams of fine Manchester cloth proclaimed their wealth and station, came forward and drew the frenzied creature away, very gently and persuasively. He, poor wretch, did not know what was taking place, but moved helplessly to the door of the bazaar and then fell, his fit upon him. I hurried on. Moors are kindly, as well as respectful, to those afflicted of Allah.

We passed on our way to the Bab Dukala, the gate that opens out upon Elhara, the leper quarter. There we caught our morning view of the forest of date-palm that girdles the town. Moors say that in centuries long past Marrakesh was besieged by the men of Tafilalt, who brought dates for food, and cast the stones on the ground. The rain buried them, the Tensift nourished them, and to-day they crowd round Ibn Tachfin's ruinous city, 'their feet in water and their heads in fire.' 'Tis an agreeable legend.


Market men, half naked and very lean, were coming in from Tamsloht and Amsmiz, guiding their heavy-laden donkeys past the crumbling walls and the steep valley that separates Elhara from the town. Some scores of lepers had left their quarters, a few hiding terrible disfigurement under great straw hats, others quite careless of their deplorable disease. Beggars all, they were going on their daily journey to the shrine of Sidi bel Abbas, patron of the destitute, to sit there beneath the zowia's ample walls, hide their heads in their rags, and cry upon the passers to remember them for the sake of the saint who had their welfare so much at heart. And with the closing of the day they would be driven out of the city, and back into walled Elhara, to such of the mud huts as they called home. Long acquaintance with misery had made them careless of it. They shuffled along as though they were going to work, but from my shaded corner, where I could see without being seen, I noted no sign of converse between them, and every face that could be studied was stamped with the impress of unending misery.

The scene around us was exquisite. Far away one saw the snow-capped peaks of the Atlas; hawks and swallows sailed to and from Elhara's walls; doves were cooing in the orchards, bee-eaters flitted lightly amid the palms. I found myself wondering if the lepers ever thought to contrast their lives with their surroundings, and I trusted they did not. Some few, probably, had not been lepers, but criminals, who preferred the horrid liberty of Elhara to the chance of detection and the living death of the Hib Misbah. Other beggars were not really lepers, but suffered from one or other of the kindred diseases that waste Morocco. In Marrakesh the native doctors are not on any terms with skilled diagnosis, and once a man ventures into Elhara, he acquires a reputation for leprosy that serves his purpose. I remember inquiring of a Moorish doctor the treatment of a certain native's case. "Who shall arrest Allah's decree?" he began modestly. And he went on to say that the best way to treat an open wound was to put powdered sulphur upon it, and apply a light.[22] Horrible as this remedy seems, the worthy doctor believed in it, and had sent many a True Believer to—Paradise, I hope—by treating him on these lines. Meanwhile his profound confidence in himself, together with his knowledge and free use of the Koran, kept hostile criticism at bay.[23]

We turned back into the city, to see it in another aspect. The rapid rise of the sun had called the poorer workers to their daily tasks; buyers were congregating round the market stalls of the dealers in meat, bread, vegetables, and fruit. With perpetual grace to Allah for his gift of custom, the stall-keepers were parting with their wares at prices far below anything that rules even in the coast towns of the Sultan's country. The absence of my Lord Abd-el-Aziz and his court had tended to lower rates considerably. It was hard to realise that, while food cost so little, there were hundreds of men, women, and children within the city to whom one good meal a day was something almost unknown. Yet this was certainly the case.

Towering above the other buyers were the trusted slaves of the wazeers in residence—tall negroes from the far South for the most part—hideous men, whose black faces were made the more black by contrast with their white robes. They moved with a certain sense of dignity and pride through the ranks of the hungry freemen round them; clearly they were well contented with their lot—a curious commentary upon the European notions of slavery—based, to be sure, upon European methods in regard to it. The whole formed a marvellous picture, and how the pink roses, the fresh, green mint and thyme, the orange flowers and other blossoms, sweetened the narrow ways, garbage-strewn under foot and roofed overhead with dried leaves of the palm!


[17] "Moghreb-al-Acksa."

[18] Street cleaners are paid out of the proceeds of a tax derived from the slaughter of cattle, and the tax is known to Moorish butchers by a term signifying "floos of the throat."

[19] I.e. The Tin House.

[20] Declaration of Faith.

[21] The false dawn.

[22] The Sultan Mulaz-Abd-el-Aziz was once treated for persistent headache by a Moorish practitioner. The wise man's medicine exploded suddenly, and His Majesty had a narrow escape. I do not know whether the practitioner was equally fortunate.

[23] The doctors and magicians of Morocco have always been famous throughout the East. Nearly all the medicine men of the Thousand Nights and a Night including the uncle of Aladdin, are from the Moghreb.





"Speaking of thee comforts me, and thinking of thee makes me glad."

Râod el Kartas.

The charm of Marrakesh comes slowly to the traveller, but it stays with him always, and colours his impressions of such other cities as may attract his wandering footsteps. So soon as he has left the plains behind on his way to the coast, the town's defects are relegated to the background of the picture his memory paints. He forgets the dirty lanes that serve for roads, the heaps of refuse at every corner, the pariah curs that howled or snapped at his horse's heels when he rode abroad, the roughness and discomfort of the accommodation, the poverty and disease that everywhere went hand in hand around him.

But he remembers and always will remember the city in its picturesque aspects. How can he forget Moorish hospitality, so lavishly exercised in patios where the hands of architect and gardener meet—those delightful gatherings of friends whose surroundings are recalled when he sees, even in the world of the West—

Groups under the dreaming garden trees,
And the full moon, and the white evening star.

He will never forget the Kutubia tower flanking the mosque of the Library, with its three glittering balls that are solid gold, if you care to believe the Moors (and who should know better!), though the European authorities declare they are but gilded copper. He will hear, across all intervening sea and lands, the sonorous voices of the three blind mueddins who call True Believers to prayer from the adjacent minarets. By the side of the tower, that is a landmark almost from R'hamna's far corner to the Atlas Mountains, Yusuf ibn Tachfin, who built Marrakesh, enjoys his long, last sleep in a grave unnoticed and unhonoured by the crowds of men from strange, far-off lands, who pass it every day. Yet, if the conqueror of Fez and troubler of Spain could rise from nine centuries of rest, he would find but little change in the city he set on the red plain in the shadow of the mountains. The walls of his creation remain: even the broken bridge over the river dates, men say, from his time, and certainly the faith and works of the people have not altered greatly. Caravans still fetch and carry from Fez in the north to Timbuctoo and the banks of the Niger, or reach the Bab-er-rubb with gold and ivory and slaves from the eastern oases, that France has almost sealed up. The saints' houses are there still, though the old have yielded to the new. Storks are privileged, as from earliest times, to build on the flat roofs of the city houses, and, therefore, are still besought by amorous natives to carry love's greeting to the women who take their airing on the house-tops in the afternoon. Berber from the highlands; black man from the Draa; wiry, lean, enduring trader from Tarudant and other cities of the Sus; patient frugal Saharowi from the sea of sand,—no one of them has altered greatly since the days of the renowned Yusuf. And who but he among the men who built great cities in days before Saxon and Norman had met at Senlac, could look to find his work so little scarred by time, or disguised by change? Twelve miles of rampart surround the city still, if we include the walls that guard the Sultan's maze garden, and seven of the many gates Ibn Tachfin knew are swung open to the dawn of each day now.

After the Library mosque, with its commanding tower and modest yet memorable tomb, the traveller remembers the Sultan's palace, white-walled, green-tiled, vast, imposing; and the lesser mosque of Sidi bel Abbas, to whom the beggars pray, for it is said of him that he knew God. The city's hospital stands beside this good man's grave. And here one pays tribute also to great Mulai Abd el Kader Ijjilalli, yet another saint whose name is very piously invoked among the poor. The mosque by the Dukala gate is worthy of note, and earns the salutation of all who come by way of R'hamna to Marrakesh. The Kaisariyah lingers in the memory, and on hot days in the plains, when shade is far to seek, one recalls a fine fountain with the legend "drink and admire," where the water-carriers fill their goat-skins and all beggars congregate during the hours of fire.

The Mellah, in which the town Jews live, is reached by way of the Olive Garden. It is the dirtiest part of Marrakesh, and, all things considered, the least interesting. The lanes that run between its high walls are full of indescribable filth; comparison with them makes the streets of Madinah and Kasbah almost clean. One result of the dirt is seen in the prevalence of a very virulent ophthalmia, from which three out of four of the Mellah's inhabitants seem to suffer, slightly or seriously. Few adults appear to take exercise, unless they are called abroad to trade, and when business is in a bad way the misery is very real indeed. A skilled workman is pleased to earn the native equivalent of fourteenpence for a day's labour, beginning at sunrise, and on this miserable pittance he can support a wife and family. Low wages and poor living, added to centuries of oppression, have made the Morocco Jew of the towns a pitiable creature; but on the hills, particularly among the Atlas villages, the People of the Book are healthy, athletic, and resourceful, able to use hands as well as head, and the trusted intermediary between Berber hillman and town Moor.


LIVRE:The Project Gutenberg EBook of Morocco, by S.L. Bensusan

1 Janvier 2009 , Rédigé par saladin Publié dans #Histoire et socièté

                                                   -4- SUITE





With the brief gladness of the Palms, that tower and sway o'er seething plain,
Fraught with the thoughts of rustling shade, and welling spring, and rushing rain;
'Tis their's to pass with joy and hope, whose souls shall ever thrill and fill
Dreams of the Birthplace and the Tomb,—visions of Allah's Holy Hill.
The Kasidah.

We travel slowly, for the Maalem "father" of the pack-mules—guide, philosopher, and trusted companion—says that haste kills strong men, and often repeats a Moorish proverb which tells us that walking is better than running, and that of all things sitting still is best. If Salam and I, reaching a piece of level sward by the side of some orchard or arable land when the heat of the day has passed, venture to indulge in a brisk canter, the Maalem's face grows black as his eyes.

"Have a care," he said to me one evening, "for this place is peopled by djinoon, and if they are disturbed they will at least kill the horses and mules, and leave us to every robber among the hills." Doubtless the Maalem prophesied worse things than this, but I have no Arabic worth mention, and Salam, who acts as interpreter, possesses a very fair amount of tact. I own to a vulgar curiosity that urges me to see a djin if I can, so, after this warning, Salam and I go cantering every late afternoon when the Enemy, as some Moors call the sun, is moving down towards the west, and the air gets its first faint touch of evening cool. Fortunately or unfortunately, the evil spirits never appear however, unless unnoticed by me in the harmless forms of storks, stock-doves, or sparrow-hawks.


In this fertile province of the Dukala, in the little-known kingdom of the victorious Sultan, Mulai Abd-el-Aziz, there are delightful stretches of level country, and the husbandman's simplest toil suffices to bring about an abundant harvest. Unhappily a great part of the province is not in permanent cultivation at all. For miles and miles, often as far as the eye can see, the land lies fallow, never a farmhouse or village to be seen, nothing save some zowia or saint's tomb, with white dome rising within four white walls to stare undaunted at the fierce African sun, while the saint's descendants in the shelter of the house live by begging from pious visitors. Away from the fertility that marks the neighbourhood of the douars, one finds a few spare bushes, suddra, retam, or colocynth, a few lizards darting here and there, and over all a supreme silence that may be felt, even as the darkness that troubled Egypt in days of old. The main track, not to be dignified by the name of road, is always to be discerned clearly enough, at least the Maalem is never in doubt when stray paths, leading from nowhere to the back of beyond, intersect it.

At long intervals we pass a n'zala, a square empty space surrounded by a zariba of thorn and prickly pear. The village, a few wattled huts with conical roofs, stands by its side. Every n'zala is a Government shelter for travellers; you may pitch your tent within the four walls, and even if you remain outside and hire guards the owners of the huts are responsible for your safety, with their worldly goods, perhaps with their lives. I have tried the interior of the Moorish n'zalas, where all too frequently you must lie on unimagined filth, often almost within reach of camel-drivers and muleteers, who are so godly that they have no time to be clean, and I have concluded that the drawbacks outweigh the advantages. Now I pitch my tent on some cleaner spot, and pay guards from the village to stretch their blankets under its lee and go to sleep. If there are thieves abroad the zariba will not keep them out, and if there are no thieves a tired traveller may forget his fatigue.

On the road we meet few wayfarers, and those we encounter are full of suspicion. Now and again we pass some country kaid or khalifa out on business. As many as a dozen well-armed slaves and retainers may follow him, and, as a rule, he rides a well-fed Barb with a fine crimson saddle and many saddle cloths. Over his white djellaba is a blue selham that came probably from Manchester; his stirrups are silver or plated. He travels unarmed and seldom uses spurs—a packing needle serves as an effective substitute. When he has spurs they are simply spear-heads—sharp prongs without rowels. The presence of Unbelievers in the country of the True Faith is clearly displeasing to him, but he is nearly always diplomat enough to return my laboured greeting, though doubtless he curses me heartily enough under his breath. His road lies from village to village, his duty to watch the progress of the harvest for his overlord. Even the locusts are kinder than the country kaids. But so soon as the kaid has amassed sufficient wealth, the governor of his province, or one of the high wazeers in the Sultan's capital, will despoil him and sell his place to the highest bidder, and in the fulness of time the Sultan will send for that wazeer or governor, and treat him in similar fashion. "Mektub," it is written, and who shall avoid destiny?[11]


When the way is long and the sun hot, pack and saddle animals come together, keeping a level pace of some five miles an hour, and Salam or the Maalem beguiles the tedium of the way with song or legend. The Maalem has a song that was taught him by one of his grandfather's slaves, in the far-off days when Mulai Mohammed reigned in Red Marrakesh. In this chant, with its weird monotonous refrain, the slaves sing of their journey from the lands of the South, the terrors of the way, the lack of food and water. It is a dismal affair enough, but the Maalem likes it, and Salam, riding under a huge Tetuan hat, carrying my shot gun, in case some fresh meat should come along, and keeping watchful eye on the mules, joins lustily in the refrain. Salam has few songs of his own, and does not care to sing them, lest his importance should suffer in the native eyes, but he possesses a stock of Arabian Nights' legends, and quotes them as though they were part of Al Koran.

Now and again, in some of the waste and stony places beyond Dukala's boundaries, we come across a well, literally a well in the desert, with husbandmen gathered about it and drawing water in their goat-skin buckets, that are tied to long palmetto ropes made by the men of the neighbouring villages. The water is poured into flat, puddled troughs, and the thirsty flocks and herds drink in turn, before they march away to hunt for such scanty herbage as the land affords. The scene round these wells is wonderfully reminiscent of earliest Bible times, particularly so where the wandering Bedouins bring their flocks to water from the inhospitable territory of the Wad Nun and deserts below the Sus.

I note with pleasure the surprising dignity of the herdsmen, who make far less comment upon the appearance of the stranger in these wild places than we should make upon the appearance of a Moor or Berber in a London street.

The most unmistakable tribute to the value of the water is paid by the skeletons of camels, mules, sheep and goats that mark the road to the well. They tell the tale of animals beaten by the Enemy in their last stride. It is not easy for a European to realise the suffering these strange lands must see when the summer drought is upon the face of the earth. Perhaps they are lessened among the human sufferers by the very real fatalism that accepts evil as it accepts good, without grief and without gladness, but always with philosophic calm; at least we should call it philosophic in a European; superstitious fatalism, of course, in a Moor.


The earliest and latest hours of our daily journey are, I think, the best. When afternoon turns toward evening in the fertile lands, and the great heat begins to pass, countless larks resume their song, while from every orchard one hears the subdued murmur of doves or the mellow notes of the nightingale. Storks sweep in wide circles overhead or teach their awkward young the arts of flight, or wade solemnly in search of supper to some marsh where the bull-frogs betray their presence by croaking as loudly as they can. The decline of the sun is quite rapid—very often the afterglow lights us to our destination. It is part of the Maalem's duty to decide upon the place of our nightly sojourn, and so to regulate the time of starting, the pace, and the mid-day rest, that he may bring us to the village or n'zala in time to get the tent up before darkness has fallen. The little man is master of every turn in the road, and has only failed once—when he brought us to a large village, where the bulk of the inhabitants of outlying douars had attacked the Governor's house, with very little success, on the previous day, and were now about to be attacked in their turn by the Governor and his bodyguard. There had been much firing and more shouting, but nobody was badly hurt. Prudence demanded that the journey be resumed forthwith, and for three hours the Maalem kept his eyes upon the stars and cursed the disturbers of the land's peace. Then we reached the desired haven, and passed unscathed through the attacks of the native dogs that guarded its approaches.

The procedure when we approach a n'zala in the evening is highly interesting. Some aged headman, who has seen our little company approaching, stands by the edge of the road and declares we are welcome.[12] Salam or the Maalem responds and presents me, a traveller from the far country of the Ingliz, carrying letters to the great sheikhs of the South. The headman repeats his welcome and is closely questioned concerning the existing supplies of water, corn, milk, eggs, and poultry. These points being settled, Salam asks abouts guards. The strangers would sleep outside the n'zala: Can they have guards at a fair price? Three are promised for a payment of about sevenpence apiece, and then the headman precedes us and we turn from the main track to the place of shelter.

Instantly the village is astir. The dogs are driven off. Every wattled hut yields its quota of men, women, and children, spectral in their white djellabas and all eager to see the strangers and their equipment. The men collect in one group and talk seriously of the visit, well assured that it has some significance, probably unpleasant; the women, nervous by nature and training, do not venture far from their homes and remain veiled to the eyes. But the children—dark, picturesque, half-naked boys and girls—are nearly free from fear if not from doubt. The tattoo marks on their chins keep them safe from the evil eye; so they do not run much risk from chance encounter with a European. They approach in a constantly shifting group, no detail of the unpacking is lost to them, they are delighted with the tent and amazed at the number of articles required to furnish it, they refuse biscuits and sugar, though Salam assures them that both are good to eat, and indeed sugar is one of the few luxuries of their simple lives.


By the headman's direction our wants are supplied. The patriarch, with his long white beard and clear far-seeing eyes, receives the respect and obedience of all the village, settles all disputes, and is personally responsible to the kaid of the district for the order and safety of the n'zala. Three men come from the well, each bearing a big clay amphora of water that must be boiled before we drink it. One brings an ample measure of barley, costing about four shillings or a little more in English money, another bends under a great load of straw. Closely-veiled women carry small jars of milk and hand them to their lord, who brings them up to Salam and states the price demanded. Milk is dear throughout Morocco in the late spring and summer, for, herbage being scanty, cows are small and poor. Eggs, on the other hand, are cheap; we can buy a dozen for twopence or its equivalent in Spanish or Moorish money, and chickens cost about fivepence apiece. If Salam, M'Barak and the Maalem were travelling alone they would pay less, but a European is rarely seen, and his visit must be made memorable.

Provisions purchased, the tent up, mules and horses tethered together in full view of the tent, a great peace falls upon our little party. I am permitted to lie at full length on a horse rug and stare up at the dark, star-spangled sky; Salam has dug a little hole in the ground, made a charcoal fire, and begun to prepare soup and boil the water for coffee. The Maalem smokes kief in furtive manner, as though orthodox enough to be ashamed of the practice, while M'Barak prepares plates and dishes for the evening meal. Around, in a semicircle, some ten yards away, the men and boys of the village sit observing us solemnly. They have little to say, but their surprise and interest are expressed quite adequately by their keen unfailing regard. The afterglow passes and charcoal fires are lighted at the edge of most of the native huts, in preparation for the evening meal, for the young shepherds have come from the fields and the flocks are safely penned. In the gathering dusk the native women, passing through the smoke or by the flame of their fire, present a most weird picture, as it might be they were participating in a Witches' Sabbath. Darkness envelops all the surrounding country, hiding the road by which we came, sealing up the track we have to follow, striking a note of loneliness that is awesome without being unpleasant. With what we call civilisation hundreds of miles away, in a country where law and order are to be regarded more as names than facts, one has a great joy in mere living, intensified doubtless by long hours spent in the saddle, by occasional hard work and curtailed rest, and by the daily sight of the rising sun.

The evening meal is a simple affair of soup, a chicken, and some coffee to follow, and when it is over I make my way to the kitchen tent, where the men have supped, and send M'Barak with an invitation to the headman and his sons. The blessed one makes his way to the headman's hut, while Salam clears up the debris of the meal, and the Maalem, conscious that no more work will be expected of him, devotes his leisure to the combustion of hemp, openly and unashamed. With many compliments the headman arrives, and I stand up to greet and bid him welcome—an effort that makes heavy call upon my scanty store of Arabic. The visitors remove their slippers and sit at ease, while Salam makes a savoury mess of green tea, heavily sweetened and flavoured with mint. My visitors are too simply pious to smoke, and regard the Maalem with displeasure and surprise, but he is quite beyond the reach of their reproaches now. His eyes are staring glassily, his lips have a curious ashen colour, his hands are twitching—the hemp god has him by the throat. The village men turn their backs upon this degraded Believer, and return thanks to Allah the One for sending an infidel who gives them tea. Broadly speaking, it is only coast Moors, who have suffered what is to them the contamination of European influences, that smoke in Morocco.

Like the Walrus and the Carpenter, we talk of many things, Salam acting as interpreter. The interests of my guests are simple: good harvests, abundant rain, and open roads are all they desire. They have never seen the sea or even a big Moorish town, but they have heard of these things from travellers and traders who have passed their nights in the n'zala in times recent or remote, and sometimes they appeal to me to say if these tales are true. Are there great waters of which no man may drink—waters that are never at rest? Do houses with devils (? steam engines) in them go to and fro upon the face of these waters? Are there great cities so big that a man cannot walk from end to end in half a day? I testify to the truth of these things, and the headman praises Allah, who has done what seemed good to him in lands both near and far. It is, I fear, the headman's polite way of saying that Saul is among the prophets. My revolver, carefully unloaded, is passed from hand to hand, its uses and capacities are known even to these wild people, and the weapon creates more interest than the tent and all its varied equipment. Naturally enough, it turns the talk to war and slaughter, and I learn that the local kaid has an endless appetite for thieves and other children of shameless women, that guns are fired very often within his jurisdiction, and baskets full of heads have been collected after a purely local fight. All this is said with a quiet dignity, as though to remind me that I have fallen among people of some distinction, and the effect is only spoilt by the recollection that nearly every headman has the same tale to tell. Sultans, pretenders, wazeers, and high court functionaries are passed in critical review, their faults and failings noted. I cannot avoid the conclusion that the popular respect is for the strong hand—that civilised government would take long to clear itself of the imputation of cowardice. The local kaid is always a tyrant, but he is above all things a man, keen-witted, adventurous, prompt to strike, and determined to bleed his subjects white. So the men of the village, while suffering so keenly from his arbitrary methods, look with fear and wonder at their master, respect him secretly, and hope the day will come when by Allah's grace they too will be allowed to have mastery over their fellows and to punish others as they have been punished. Strength is the first and greatest of all virtues, so far as they can see, and cunning and ferocity are necessary gifts in a land where every man's hand is against his neighbour.


The last cup of green tea has been taken, the charcoal, no longer refreshed by the bellows, has ceased to glow, around us the native fires are out. The hour of repose is upon the night, and the great athletic villagers rise, resume their slippers, and pass with civil salutation to their homes. Beyond the tent our guards are sleeping soundly in their blankets; the surrounding silence is overwhelming. The grave itself could hardly be more still. Even the hobbled animals are at rest, and we enter into the enveloping silence for five or six dreamless hours.

The horses stir and wake me; I open the tent and call the men. Our guards rouse themselves and retire to their huts. The Maalem, no worse, to outward seeming, for the night's debauch, lights the charcoal. It is about half-past three, the darkness has past but the sun has not risen, the land seems plunged in heavy sleep, the air is damp and chill. Few pleasures attach to this early rising, but it is necessary to be on the road before six o'clock in order to make good progress before the vertical rays of the sun bid us pause and seek what shelter we can find. Two hours is not a long time in which to strike tents, prepare breakfast,—a solid affair of porridge, omelette, coffee, marmalade and biscuits,—pack everything, and load the mules. We must work with a will, or the multi-coloured pageant in the eastern sky will have passed before we are on the road again.

Early as it is we are not astir much before the village. Almost as soon as I am dressed the shepherd boys and girls are abroad, playing on their reed flutes as they drive the flocks to pasture from the pens to which they were brought at sundown. They go far afield for food if not for water, but evening must see their animals safely secured once more, for if left out overnight the nearest predatory tribesmen would carry them off. There is no security outside the village, and no village is safe from attack when there is unrest in the province. A cattle raid is a favourite form of amusement among the warlike tribes of the Moorish country, being profitable, exciting, and calculated to provoke a small fight.

A group of interested observers assembles once more, reinforced by the smallest children, who were too frightened to venture out of doors last night. Nothing disturbs the little company before we leave the camp. The headman, grave and dignified as ever, receives payment for corn, straw, chickens, milk, eggs, water, and guards, a matter of about ten shillings in English money, and a very large sum indeed for such a tiny village to receive. The last burden is fastened on the patient mules, girths and straps and belts are examined, and we pass down the incline to the main road and turn the horses' heads to the Atlas Mountains.


[11] "There happeneth no misfortune on the earth or to yourselves, but it is written in the Book before we created it: verily that is easy to Allah."—Al Koran; Sura, "The Tree."

[12] This courtesy is truly Eastern, and has many variants. I remember meeting two aged rabbis who were seated on stones by the roadside half a mile from the city of Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee. They rose as I approached, and said in Hebrew, "Blessed be he who cometh."





In hawthorn-time the heart grows bright,
The world is sweet in sound and sight,
Glad thoughts and birds take flower and flight,
The heather kindles toward the light,
The whin is frankincense and flame.
The Tale of Balen.

If you would savour the true sense of Morocco, and enjoy glimpses of a life that belongs properly to the era of Genesis, journey through Dukala, Shiadma, or Haha in April. Rise early, fare simply, and travel far enough to appreciate whatever offers for a camping-ground, though it be no more than the grudging shadow of a wall at mid-day, or a n'zala not overclean, when from north, south, east, and west the shepherd boys and girls are herding their flocks along the homeward way. You will find the natives kind and leisured enough to take interest in your progress, and, their confidence gained, you shall gather, if you will, some knowledge of the curious, alluring point of view that belongs to fatalists. I have been struck by the dignity, the patience, and the endurance of the Moor, by whom I mean here the Arab who lives in Morocco, and not the aboriginal Berber, or the man with black blood preponderating in his veins. To the Moor all is for the best. He knows that Allah has bound the fate of each man about his neck, so he moves fearlessly and with dignity to his appointed end, conscious that his God has allotted the palace or the prison for his portion, and that fellow-men can no more than fulfil the divine decree. Here lies the secret of the bravery that, when disciplined, may yet shake the foundations of Western civilisation. How many men pass me on the road bound on missions of life or death, yet serene and placid as the mediæval saints who stand in their niches in some cathedral at home. Let me recall a few fellow-wayfarers and pass along the roadless way in their company once again.


First and foremost stands out a khalifa, lieutenant of a great country kaid, met midmost Dukala, in a place of level barley fields new cut with the media luna. Brilliant poppies and irises stained the meadows on all sides, and orchards whose cactus hedges, planted for defence, were now aflame with blood-red flowers, became a girdle of beauty as well as strength. The khalifa rode a swiftly-ambling mule, a beast of price, his yellow slippers were ostentatiously new, and his ample girth proclaimed the wealthy man in a land where all the poor are thin. "Peace," was his salutation to M'Barak, who led the way, and when he reached us he again invoked the Peace of Allah upon Our Lord Mohammed and the Faithful of the Prophet's House, thereby and with malice aforethought excluding the infidel. Like others of his class who passed us he was but ill-pleased to see the stranger in the land; unlike the rest he did not conceal his convictions. Behind him came three black slaves, sleek, armed, proud in the pride of their lord, and with this simple retinue the khalifa was on his way to tithe the newly-harvested produce of the farmers who lived in that district. Dangerous work, I thought, to venture thus within the circle of the native douars and claim the lion's share of the hard-won produce of the husbandmen. He and his little company would be outnumbered in the proportion of thirty or forty to one, they had no military following, and yet went boldly forth to rob on the kaid's behalf. I remembered how, beyond Tangier, the men of the hills round Anjera had risen against an unpopular khalifa, had tortured him in atrocious fashion, and left him blind and hideously maimed, to be a warning to all tyrants. Doubtless our prosperous fellow-traveller knew all about it, doubtless he realised that the Sultan's authority was only nominal, but he knew that his immediate master, the Basha, still held his people in an iron grip while, above and beyond all else, he knew by the living faith that directed his every step in life, that his own fate, whether good or evil, was already assigned to him. I heard the faint echo of the greeting offered by the dogs of the great douar into which he passed, and felt well assured that the protests of the village folk, if they ventured to protest, would move him no more than the barking of those pariahs. The hawks we saw poised in the blue above our heads when small birds sang at sunsetting, were not more cheerfully devoid of sentiment than our khalifa, though it may be they had more excuse than he.

On another afternoon we sat at lunch in the grateful sombre shade of a fig-tree. Beyond the little stone dyke that cut the meadow from the arable land a negro ploughed with an ox and an ass, in flat defiance of Biblical injunction. The beasts were weary or lazy, or both, and the slave cursed them with an energy that was wonderful for the time of day. Even the birds had ceased to sing, the cicadas were silent in the tree tops, and when one of the mules rolled on the ground and scattered its pack upon all sides, the Maalem was too exhausted to do more than call it the "son of a Christian and a Jew."


Down the track we had followed came a fair man, of slight build, riding a good mule. He dismounted by the tree to adjust his saddle, tighten a stirrup thong, and say a brief prayer. Then, indifferent to the heat, he hurried on, and Salam, who had held short converse with him, announced that he was an emissary of Bu Hamara the Pretender, speeding southward to preach the rising to the Atlas tribes. He carried his life in his hands through the indifferently loyal southern country, but the burden was not heavy enough to trouble him. Bu Hamara, the man no bullets could injure, the divinely directed one, who could call the dead from their pavilion in Paradise to encourage the living, had bade him go rouse the sleeping southerners, and so he went, riding fearlessly into the strong glare that wrapt and hid him. His work was for faith or for love: it was not for gain. If he succeeded he would not be rewarded, if he failed he would be forgotten.

Very often, at morning, noon, and sunset, we would meet the r'kass or native letter-carrier, a wiry man from the Sus country, more often than not, with naked legs and arms. In his hand he would carry the long pole that served as an aid to his tired limbs when he passed it behind his shoulders, and at other times helped him to ford rivers or defend himself against thieves. An eager, hurrying fellow was the r'kass, with rarely enough breath to respond to a salutation as he passed along, his letters tied in a parcel on his back, a lamp at his girdle to guide him through the night, and in his wallet a little bread or parched flour, a tiny pipe, and some kief. Only if travelling in our direction would he talk, repaying himself for the expenditure of breath by holding the stirrup of mule or horse. Resting for three to five hours in the twenty-four, sustaining himself more with kief than with bread, hardened to a point of endurance we cannot realise, the r'kass is to be met with on every Moorish road that leads to a big city—a solitary, brave, industrious man, who runs many risks for little pay. His letters delivered, he goes to the nearest house of public service, there to sleep, to eat sparingly and smoke incessantly, until he is summoned to the road again. No matter if the tribes are out on the warpath, so that the caravans and merchants may not pass,—no matter if the powder "speaks" from every hill,—the r'kass slips through with his precious charge, passing lightly as a cloud over a summer meadow, often within a few yards of angry tribesmen who would shoot him at sight for the mere pleasure of killing. If the luck is against him he must pay the heaviest penalty, but this seldom occurs unless the whole country-side is aflame. At other times, when there is peace in the land, and the wet season has made the unbridged rivers impassable, whole companies of travellers camp on either side of some river—a silver thread in the dry season, a rushing torrent now. But the r'kass knows every ford, and, his long pole aiding him, manages to reach his destination. It is his business to defy Nature if necessary, just as he defies man in the pursuit of his task. He is a living proof of the capacity and dogged endurance still surviving in a race Europeans affect to despise.

We met slaves-dealers too from time to time, carrying women and children on mules, while the men slaves walked along at a good pace. And the dealers by no means wore the villainous aspect that conventional observers look to see, but were plainly men bent upon business, travelling to make money. They regarded the slaves as merchandise, to be kept in tolerably fair condition for the sake of good sales, and unless Ruskin was right when he said that all who are not actively kind are cruel, there seemed small ground on which to condemn them. To be sure, they were taking slaves from market to market, and not bringing Soudanese captives from the extreme South, so we saw no trace of the trouble that comes of forced travel in the desert, but even that is equally shared by dealers and slave alike.

The villages of Morocco are no more than collections of conical huts built of mud and wattle and palmetto, or goat and camel skins. These huts are set in a circle all opening to the centre, where the live-stock and agricultural implements are kept at night. The furniture of a tent is simple enough. Handloom and handmill, earthenware jars, clay lamps, a mattress, and perhaps a tea-kettle fulfil all requirements.

A dazzling, white-domed saint's shrine within four square walls lights the landscape here and there, and gives to some douar such glory as a holy man can yield when he has been dead so long that none can tell the special direction his holiness took. The zowia serves several useful purposes. The storks love to build upon it, and perhaps the influence of its rightful owner has something to do with the good character of the interesting young birds that we see plashing about in the marshes, and trying to catch fish or frogs with something of their parents' skill. Then, again, the zowia shelters the descendants of the holy man, who prey upon passers in the name of Allah and of the departed.

Beyond one of the villages graced with the shrine of a forgotten saint, I chanced upon a poor Moorish woman washing clothes at the edge of a pool. She used a native grass-seed in place of soap, and made the linen very white with it. On a great stone by the water's edge sat a very old and very black slave, and I tried with Salam's aid to chat with him. But he had no more than one sentence. "I have seen many Sultans," he cried feebly, and to every question he responded with these same words. Two tiny village boys stood hand in hand before him and repeated his words, wondering. It was a curious picture and set in striking colour, for the fields all round us were full of rioting irises, poppies, and convolvuli; the sun that gilded them was blazing down upon the old fellow's unprotected head. Gnats were assailing him in legions, singing their flattering song as they sought to draw his blood.[13] Before us on a hill two meadows away stood the douar, its conical huts thatched with black straw and striped palmetto, its zowia with minaret points at each corner of the protecting walls, and a stork on one leg in the foreground. It cost me some effort to tear myself away from the place, and as I remounted and prepared to ride off the veteran cried once more, "I have seen many Sultans." Then the stork left his perch on the zowia's walls, and settled by the marsh, clapping his mandibles as though to confirm the old man's statement, and the little boys took up the cry, not knowing what they said. He had seen many Sultans. The Praise to Allah, so had not I.


By another douar, this time on the outskirts of the R'hamna country, we paused for a mid-day rest, and entered the village in search of milk and eggs. All the men save one were at work on the land, and he, the guardian of the village, an old fellow and feeble, stood on a sandy mound within the zariba. He carried a very antiquated flint-lock, that may have been own brother to Kaid M'Barak's trusted weapon. I am sure he could not have had the strength to fire, even had he enjoyed the knowledge and possessed the material to load it. It was his business to mount guard over the village treasure. The mound he stood upon was at once the mat'mora that hid the corn store, and the bank that sheltered the silver dollars for whose protection every man of the village would have risked his life cheerfully. The veteran took no notice of our arrival: had we been thieves he could have offered no resistance. He remained silent and stationary, unconscious that the years in which he might have fulfilled his trust had gone for ever. All along the way the boundaries of arable land were marked by little piles of stones and I looked anxiously for some sign of the curious festival that greets the coming of the new corn, a ceremony in which a figure is made for worship by day and sacrifice by night; we were just too late for it. For the origin of this sacrifice the inquirer must go back to the time of nature worship. It was an old practice, of course, in the heyday of Grecian civilisation, and might have been seen in England, I believe, little more than twenty years ago.

Claims for protection are made very frequently upon the road. There are few of the dramatic moments in which a man rushes up, seizes your stirrup and puts himself "beneath the hem of your garment," but there are numerous claims for protection of another sort. In Morocco all the Powers that signed the Treaty of Madrid are empowered to grant the privilege. France has protected subjects by the thousand. They pay no taxes, they are not to be punished by the native authorities until their Vice-Consul has been cited to appear in their defence, and, in short, they are put above the law of their own country and enabled to amass considerable wealth. The fact that the foreigner who protects them is often a knave and a thief is a draw-back, but the popularity of protection is immense, for the protector may possibly not combine cunning with his greed, while the native Basha or his khalifa quite invariably does. British subjects may not give protection,—happily the British ideals of justice and fair-play have forbidden the much-abused practice,—and the most the Englishman can do is to enter into a trading partnership with a Moor and secure for him a certificate of limited protection called "mukhalat," from the name of the person who holds it. Great Britain has never abused the Protection system, and there are fewer protected Moors in the service or partnership of Britons throughout all Morocco than France has in any single town of importance.

If I had held the power and the will to give protection, I might have been in Morocco to-day, master of a house and a household, drawing half the produce of many fields and half the price of flocks of sheep and herds of goats. Few mornings passed without bringing some persecuted farmer to the camp, generally in the heat of the day, when we rested on his land. He would be a tall, vigorous man, burnt brown by the sun, and he would point to his fields and flocks, "I have so many sheep and goats, so many oxen for the plough, so many mules and horses, so much grain unharvested, so much in store. Give me protection, that I may live without fear of my kaid, and half of all I own shall be yours." Then I had to explain through Salam that I had no power to help him, that my Government would do no more than protect me. It was hard for the applicants to learn that they must go unaided. The harvest was newly gathered, it had survived rain and blight and locusts, and now they had to wait the arrival of their kaid or his khalifa, who would seize all they could not conceal,—hawk, locust, and blight in one.

At the village called after its patron saint, Sidi B'noor, a little deputation of tribesmen brought grievances for an airing. We sat in the scanty shade of the zowia wall. M'Barak, wise man, remained by the side of a little pool born of the winter rains; he had tethered his horse and was sleeping patiently in the shadow cast by this long-suffering animal. The headman, who had seen my sporting guns, introduced himself by sending a polite message to beg that none of the birds that fluttered or brooded by the shrine might be shot, for that they were all sacred. Needless perhaps to say that the idea of shooting at noonday in Southern Morocco was far enough from my thoughts, and I sent back an assurance that brought half a dozen of the village notables round us as soon as lunch was over. Strangely enough, they wanted protection—but it was sought on account of the Sultan's protected subjects. "The men who have protection between this place and Djedida," declared their spokesman, sorrowfully, "have no fear of Allah or His Prophet. They brawl in our markets and rob us of our goods. They insult our houses,[14] they are without shame, and because of their protection our lives have become very bitter."

"Have you been to your Basha?" I asked the headman.

"I went bearing a gift in my hand, O Highly Favoured," replied the headman, "and he answered me, 'Foolish farmer, shall I bring the Sultan to visit me by interfering with these rebels against Allah who have taken the protection from Nazarenes?' And then he cursed me and drove me forth from his presence. But if you will give protection to us also we will face these misbegotten ones, and there shall be none to come between us."


LIVRE:The Project Gutenberg EBook of Morocco, by S.L. Bensusan

1 Janvier 2009 , Rédigé par saladin Publié dans #Histoire et socièté

                                                                                                    -3- SUITE



Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote
        ✢         ✢         ✢         ✢         ✢
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages.
The Canterbury Tales.

We have rounded the north-west corner of Africa, exchanged farewell signals with our friend on Lloyd's station,—who must now return to his Spanish and Arabic or live a silent life,—and I have taken a last look through field-glasses at the plateau that held our little camp. Since then we have raced the light for a glimpse of El Araish, where the Gardens of the Hesperides were set by people of old time. The sun was too swift in its decline; one caught little more than an outline of the white city, with the minarets of its mosques that seemed to pierce the sky, and flags flying in the breeze on the flat roofs of its Consuls' houses. The river Lekkus showed up whitely on the eastern side, a rising wind having whipped its waters into foam, and driven the light coasting vessels out to sea. So much I saw from the good ship Zweena's upper deck, and then evening fell, as though to hide from me the secret of the gardens where the Golden Apples grew.

Alas, that modern knowledge should have destroyed all faith in old legend! The fabled fruits of the Hesperides turn to oranges in the hands of our wise men, the death-dealing dragon becomes Wad Lekkus itself, so ready even to-day to snarl and roar at the bidding of the wind that comes up out of the south-west, and the dusky maidens of surpassing loveliness are no more than simple Berber girls, who, whilst doubtless dusky, and possibly maidenly as ever, have not inherited much of the storied beauty of their forbears. In spite of this modern perversion of the old tale I find that the oranges of the dining-table have a quite rare charm for me to-night,—such an attraction as they have had hitherto only when I have picked them in the gardens of Andalusia, or in the groves that perfume the ancient town of Jaffa at the far eastern end of the Mediterranean. Now I have one more impression to cherish, and the scent of a blossoming orange tree will recall for me El Araish as I saw it at the moment when the shroud of evening made the mosques and the kasbah of Mulai al Yazeed melt, with the great white spaces between them, into a blurred pearly mass without salient feature.


You shall still enjoy the sense of being in touch with past times and forgotten people, if you will walk the deck of a ship late at night. Your fellow-passengers are abed, the watch, if watch there be, is invisible, the steady throbbing movement of the screw resolves itself into a pleasing rhythmic melody. So far as the senses can tell, the world is your closet, a silent pleasaunce for your waking dreams. The coast-line has no lights, nor is any other vessel passing over the waters within range of eye or glass. The hosts of heaven beam down upon a silent universe in which you are the only waking soul. On a sudden eight bells rings out sharply from the forecastle head, and you spring back from your world of fancy as hurriedly as Cinderella returned to her rags when long-shore midnight chimed. The officer of the middle watch and a hand for the wheel come aft to relieve their companions, the illusion has passed, and you go below to turn in, feeling uncomfortably sure that your pretty thoughts will appear foolish and commonplace enough when regarded in the matter-of-fact light of the coming day.

Dár el Baida, most Moorish of seaports, received us in the early morning. The wind had fallen, and the heavy surf-boats of the port could land us easily. We went on shore past the water-gate and the custom-house that stands on the site of the stores erected by the society of the Gremios Majores when Charles V. ruled Spain. Dár el Baida seemed to have straggled over as much ground as Tangier, but the ground itself was flat and full of refuse. The streets were muddy and unpaved, cobble stones strove ineffectually to disguise drains, and one felt that the sea breezes alone stood between the city and some such virulent epidemic as that which smote Tangier less than ten years ago. But withal there was a certain picturesque quality about Dár el Baida that atoned for more obvious faults, and the market-place afforded a picture as Eastern in its main features as the tired Western eye could seek. Camel caravans had come in from the interior for the Monday market. They had tramped from the villages of the Zair and the Beni Hassan tribes, bringing ripe barley for sale, though the spring months had not yet passed. From places near at hand the husbandmen had brought all the vegetables that flourish after the March rains,—peas and beans and lettuces; pumpkins, carrots and turnips, and the tender leaves of the date-palm. The first fruits of the year and the dried roses of a forgotten season were sold by weight, and charcoal was set in tiny piles at prices within the reach of the poorest customers.

Wealthy merchants had brought their horses within the shadow of the sok's[6] high walls and loosened the many-clothed saddles. Slaves walked behind their masters or trafficked on their behalf. The snake-charmer, the story-teller, the beggar, the water-carrier, the incense seller, whose task in life is to fumigate True Believers, all who go to make the typical Moorish crowd, were to be seen indolently plying their trade. But inquiries for mules, horses, and servants for the inland journey met with no ready response. Dár el Baida, I was assured, had nothing to offer; Djedida, lower down along the coast, might serve, or Saffi, if Allah should send weather of a sort that would permit the boat to land.


As it happened, Djedida was the steamer's next port of call, so we made haste to return to her hospitable decks. I carried with me a vivid impression of Dár el Baida, of the market-place with its varied goods, and yet more varied people, the white Arabs, the darker Berbers, the black slaves from the Soudan and the Draa. Noticeable in the market were the sweet stores, where every man sat behind his goods armed with a feather brush, and waged ceaseless war with the flies, while a corner of his eye was kept for small boys, who were well nigh as dangerous. I remember the gardens, one particularly well. It belongs to the French Consul, and has bananas growing on the trees that face the road; from beyond the hedge one caught delightful glimpses of colour and faint breaths of exquisite perfume.

I remember, too, the covered shed containing the mill that grinds the flour for the town, and the curious little bakehouse to which Dár el Baida takes its flat loaves, giving the master of the establishment one loaf in ten by way of payment. I recall the sale of horses, at which a fine raking mare with her foal at foot fetched fifty-four dollars in Moorish silver, a sum less than nine English pounds.

And I seem to see, even now as I write, the Spanish woman with cruel painted face, sitting at the open casement of an old house near the Spanish church, thrumming her guitar, and beneath her, by the roadside, a beggar clad, like the patriarch of old, in a garment of many colours, that made his black face seem blacker than any I have seen in Africa. Then Dár el Baida sinks behind the water-port gate, the strong Moorish rowers bend to their oars, their boat laps through the dark-blue water, and we are back aboard the ship again, in another atmosphere, another world. Passengers are talking as it might be they had just returned from their first visit to a Zoological Garden. Most of them have seen no more than the dirt and ugliness—their vision noted no other aspect—of the old-world port. The life that has not altered for centuries, the things that make it worth living to all the folk we leave behind,—these are matters in which casual visitors to Morocco have no concern. They resent suggestion that the affairs of "niggers" can call for serious consideration, far less for appreciation or interest of any sort.

Happily Djedida is not far away. At daybreak we are securely anchored before the town whose possession by the Portuguese is recorded to this hour by the fine fortifications and walls round the port. We slip over the smooth water in haste, that we may land before the sun is too high in the heavens. It is not without a thrill of pleasure that I hear the ship's shrill summons and see the rest of the passengers returning.


By this time it is afternoon, but the intervening hours have not been wasted. I have found the Maalem, master of a bakehouse, a short, olive-skinned, wild, and wiry little man, whose yellowed eyes and contracting pupils tell a tale of haschisch and kief that his twitching fingers confirm. But he knows the great track stretching some hundred and twenty miles into the interior up to Red Marrakesh; he is "the father and mother" of mules and horses, animals that brighten the face of man by reason of their superlative qualities, and he is prepared to undertake the charge of all matters pertaining to a journey over this roadless country. His beasts are fit to journey to Tindouf in the country of the Draa, so fine is their condition; their saddles and accoutrements would delight the Sultan's own ministers. By Allah, the inland journey will be a picnic! Quite gravely, I have professed to believe all he says, and my reservations, though many, are all mental.

In the days that precede departure—and in Morocco they are always apt to be numerous—I seek to enter into the life of Djedida. Sometimes we stroll to the custom-house, where grave and dignified Moors sit in the bare, barnlike office that opens upon the waste ground beyond the port. There they deliver my shot guns after long and dubious scrutiny of the order from the British Consulate at Tangier. They also pass certain boxes of stores upon production of a certificate testifying that they paid duty on arrival at the Diplomatic Capital. These matters, trivial enough to the Western mind, are of weight and moment here, not to be settled lightly or without much consultation.

Rotting in the stores of this same custom-house are two grand pianos and an electric omnibus. The Sultan ordered them, the country paid for them,—so much was achieved by the commercial energy of the infidel,—and native energy sufficed to land them; it was exhausted by the effort. If Mulai Abd-el-Aziz wants his dearly purchased treasure, the ordering and existence of which he has probably forgotten, he must come to Mazagan for it, I am afraid, and unless he makes haste it will not be worth much. But there are many more such shipments in other ports, not to mention the unopened and forgotten packing cases at Court.


The Basha of Djedida is a little old man, very rich indeed, and the terror of the entire Dukala province. I like to watch him as he sits day by day under the wall of the Kasbah by the side of his own palace, administering what he is pleased to call justice. Soldiers and slaves stand by to enforce his decree if need be, plaintiff and defendant lie like tombstones or advertisements of patent medicines, or telegrams from the seat of war, but no sign of an emotion lights the old man's face. He tempers justice with—let us say, diplomacy. The other afternoon a French-protected subject was charged with sheep-stealing, and I went to the trial. Salam acted as interpreter for me. The case was simple enough. The defendant had received some hundred sheep from plaintiff to feed and tend at an agreed price. From time to time he sent plaintiff the sad news of the death of certain rams, always among the finest in the flock. Plaintiff, a farmer in good circumstances, testified to the Unity of Allah and was content to pray for better luck, until news was brought to him that most of the sheep reported dead were to be seen in the Friday market fetching good prices. The news proved true, the report of their death was no more than the defendant's intelligent anticipation of events, and the action arose out of it. To be sure, the plaintiff had presented a fine sheep to the Basha, but the defendant was a French subject by protection, and the Vice-Consul of his adopted nation was there to see fair play. Under these circumstances the defendant lied with an assurance that must have helped to convince himself; his friends arrived in the full number required by the law, and testified with cheerful mendacity in their companion's favour. The Basha listened with attention while the litigants swore strange oaths and abused each other very thoroughly. Then he silenced both parties with a word, and gave judgment for the defendant. There was no appeal, though, had the defendant been an unprotected subject, the plaintiff's knife had assuredly entered into the final settlement of this little matter. But the plaintiff knew that an attack upon a French protégé would lead to his own indefinite imprisonment and occasional torture, to the confiscation of his goods, and to sundry other penalties that may be left unrecorded, as they would not look well in cold print. He knew, moreover, that everything is predestined, that no man may avoid Allah's decree. These matters of faith are real, not pale abstractions, in Morocco. So he was less discontented with the decision than one of his European brethren would have been in similar case—and far more philosophic regarding it.


Quite slowly we completed our outfit for the inland journey. Heaven aid the misguided Nazarene who seeks to accomplish such matters swiftly in this land of eternal afternoon. I bought an extraordinary assortment of what our American friends call "dry-goods" in the Jewish stores, from the very business-like gentlemen in charge of them. These all wore black gaberdines, black slippers, stockings that were once white, and black skull-caps over suspiciously shining love-locks. Most of the Jewish men seemed to have had smallpox; in their speech they relied upon a very base Arabic, together with worse Spanish or quite barbarous French. Djedida having no Mellah, as the Moorish ghetto is called, they were free to trade all over the town, and for rather less than a pound sterling I bought quite an imposing collection of cutlery, plate, and dishes for use on the road. It is true, as I discovered subsequently, that the spoons and forks might be crushed out of shape with one hand, that the knives would cut nothing rougher than Danish butter, and were imported from Germany with a Sheffield mark on them to deceive the natives, and that the plates and dishes were not too good to go with the cutlery. But nothing had been bought without bargaining of a more or less exciting and interesting sort, and for the bargaining no extra charge whatever was made. The little boxlike shops, with flaps that served as shutters, were ill-adapted for private purchase; there was no room for more than the owner inside, and before we had been at one for five minutes the roadway became impassable. All the idlers and beggars in that district gathered to watch the strangers, and the Maalem was the only one who could keep them at bay. Salam would merely threaten to cuff an importunate rogue who pestered us, but the Maalem would curse him so fluently and comprehensively, and extend the anathema so far in either direction, from forgotten ancestors to unborn descendants, that no native could stand up for long against the flashing eye, the quivering forefinger, the foul and bitter tongue of him. There were times, then and later on, when the Maalem seemed to be some Moorish connection of Captain Kettle's family, and after reflecting upon my experience among hard-swearing men of many nations, seafarers, land-sharks, beach-combers and the rest, I award the Maalem pride of place. You will find him to-day in Djedida, baking his bread with the aid of the small apprentice who looks after the shop when he goes abroad, or enjoying the dreams of the haschisch eater when his work is done. He is no man's enemy, and the penalty of his shortcomings will probably fall upon no body or soul save his own. A picturesque figure, passionate yet a philosopher, patiently tolerant of blinding heat, bad roads, uncomfortable sleeping quarters and short commons, the Maalem will remain alive and real in my memory long after the kaids and wazeers and other high dignitaries of his country are no more than dimly splendid shadows, lacking altogether in individuality.

I learned to enjoy Djedida by night. Then the town was almost as silent as our camp below Mediunah had been. The ramparts left by the Portuguese and the white walls of the city itself became all of a piece, indistinct and mysterious as the darkness blended them. Late camels coming into the town to seek the security of some fandak would pad noiselessly past me; weird creatures from the under-world they seemed, on whom the ghostlike Arabs in their white djellabas were ordered to attend. Children would flit to and fro like shadows, strangely quiet, as though held in thrall even in the season of their play by the solemn aspect of the surroundings. The market-place and road to the landing-stage would be deserted, the gates of the city barred, and there was never a light to be seen save where some wealthy Moor attended by lantern-bearing slaves passed to and from his house. One night by the Kasbah the voice of a watchman broke upon the city's silence, at a time when the mueddin was at rest, and it was not incumbent upon the faithful to pray. "Be vigilant, O guardians," he cried,—"be vigilant and do not sleep." Below, by my side, on the ground, the guardians, wrapped warm in their djellabas, dreamed on, all undisturbed.

By night, too, the pariah dogs, scavengers of all Mohammedan cities, roamed at their ease and leisure through Djedida, so hungry and so free from daintiness that no garbage would be left on the morrow. Moorish houses have no windows fronting the road—decency forbids, and though there might have been ample light within, the bare walls helped to darken the pathway, and it was wise to walk warily lest one should tumble over some beggar asleep on the ground.


On nights like these and through streets not greatly different, Harun al Raschid fared abroad in Baghdad and lighted upon the wonderful folk who live for all time in the pages of the Arabian Nights. Doubtless I passed some twentieth-century descendants of the fisher-folk, the Calendars, the slaves, and the merchants who move in their wonderful pageantry along the glittering road of the "Thousand Nights and a Night,"—the type is marvellously unchanging in Al Moghreb; but, alas, they spoke, if at all, to deaf ears, and Salam was ever more anxious to see me safely home than to set out in search of adventure. By day I knew that Djedida had little of the charm associated even in this year of grace with the famous city on the Tigris, but, all over the world that proclaims the inspiration of Mohammed, the old times come back by night, and then "a thousand years are but as yesterday."

Happily we were right below the area of rebellion. In the north, round Fez and Taza, there was severe fighting, spreading thence to the Riff country. Here, people did no more than curse the Pretender in public or the Sultan in private, according to the state of their personal feelings. Communication with the south, said the Maalem, was uninterrupted; only in the north were the sons of the Illegitimate, the rebels against Allah, troubling Our Lord the Sultan. From Djedida down to the Atlas the tribes were peaceful, and would remain at rest unless Our Master should attempt to collect his taxes, in which case, without doubt, there would be trouble.


He was a busy man in these days, was the Maalem. When he was not baking bread or smoking kief he was securing mules and bringing them for our inspection. To Mr. T. Spinney, son of the British Vice-Consul in Mazagan, we owed our salvation. A master of Moghrebbin Arabic, on intimate terms with the Moors, and thoroughly conversant with the road and its requirements, he stood between me and the fiery-tongued Maalem. This mule was rejected, that saddle was returned, stirrups tied with string were disqualified, the little man's claim to have all "the money in the hand" was overruled, and the Maalem, red-hot sputtering iron in my hands, was as wax in Mr. Spinney's. My good friend and host also found Kaid M'Barak,[7] the soldier, a tall, scorched, imperturbable warrior, who rode a brave horse, and carried a gun done up in a very tattered, old, flannel case tied with half a dozen pieces of string. The kaid's business was to strike terror into the hearts of evil men in return for a Moorish dollar a day, and to help with tent setting and striking, or anything else that might be required, in return for his food. He was a lean, gaunt, taciturn man, to whom twelve hours in the saddle brought no discomfort, and though he strove earnestly to rob me, it was only at the journey's end, when he had done his work faithfully and well. His gun seemed to be a constant source of danger to somebody, for he carried it at right angles to his horse across the saddle, and often on the road I would start to consciousness that the kaid was covering me with his be-frocked weapon. After a time one grew accustomed and indifferent to the danger, but when I went shooting in the Argan forest I left the blessed one in camp. He was convinced that he carried his gun in proper fashion, and that his duty was well done. And really he may have been right, for upon a day, when a hint of possible danger threatened, I learned to my amusement and relief that the valiant man carried no ammunition of any sort, and that the barrel of his gun was stuffed full of red calico.

Our inland tramp over, he took one day's rest at Mogador, then gathered the well-earned store of dollars into his belt and started off to follow the coast road back to Djedida. Perhaps by now the Basha has had his dollars, or the Sultan has summoned him to help fight Bu Hamara. In any case I like to think that his few weeks with us will rank among the pleasant times of his life, for he proved a patient, enduring man, and though silent, a not unedifying companion.

Among the strange stories I heard in Djedida while preparing for the journey was one relating to the then War Minister, Kaid Mahedi el Menebhi, some-time envoy to the Court of St. James's. In his early days Menebhi, though a member of the great Atlas Kabyle of that name, had been a poor lad running about Djedida's streets, ready and willing to earn a handful of floos[8] by hard work of any description. Then he set up in business as a mender of old shoes and became notorious, not because of his skill as a cobbler, but on account of his quick wit and clever ideas. In all Mohammedan countries a Believer may rise without any handicap on account of lowly origin, and so it fell out that the late Grand Wazeer, Ba Ahmad, during a visit to Djedida heard of the young cobbler's gifts, and straightway gave him a place in his household. Thereafter promotion was rapid and easy for Menebhi, and the lad who had loafed about the streets with the outcasts of the city became, under the Sultan, the first man in Morocco. "To-day," concluded my informant, "he has palaces and slaves and a great hareem, he is a Chief Wazeer and head of the Sultan's forces, but he still owes a merchant in Djedida some few dollars on account of leather he had bought and forgot to pay for when Ba Ahmad took him to Marrakesh."[9]


In the R'hamna country, on the way to the southern capital, we pitched our tents one night in a Government n'zala, or guarded camping-ground, one of many that are spread about the country for the safety of travellers. The price of corn, eggs, and chickens was amazingly high, and the Maalem explained that the n'zala was kept by some of the immediate family of Mahedi el Menebhi, who had put them there, presumably to make what profit they could. I looked very carefully at our greedy hosts. They were a rough unprepossessing crowd, but their wealth in sheep and goats alone was remarkable, and their stock was safe from molestation, for they were known to be relatives of the Sultan's chief minister, a man whose arm is long and hard-hitting. Since last autumn Menebhi has resigned his high office, reduced his household, manumitted many slaves, and gone on the great pilgrimage to Mecca, so it may be presumed that his relatives in the forsaken R'hamna country have lowered their prices. Yet, 'tis something to have a great wazeer for relative even though, for the time being, loss of favour has given him leisure for pious observances.

At length the evening came, when the last mule was selected, the last package made up, and nothing lay between us and the open road. Sleep was hard to woo. I woke before daylight, and was in the patio before the first animal arrived, or the sleepy porter had fumbled at the door of the warehouse where the luggage was stacked.

Morn in the white wake of the morning star
Came furrowing all the orient into gold,

and gave to the tops of walls and battlements a momentary tinge of rose colour, a sight well worth the effort demanded by early rising. Sparrow-hawks and pigeons were fluttering over their nests on the deserted battlements, a stork eyed me with solemn curiosity from the minaret of a near mosque, and only the earliest wayfarers were astir. How slowly the men seemed to do their work, and how rapidly the morning wore on. Ropes and palmetto baskets refused to fit at the last moment, two mules were restive until their "father," the Maalem, very wide awake and energetic, cursed their religion, and reminded them that they were the children of asses renowned throughout the Moghreb for baseness and immorality. One animal was found at the last moment to be saddle-galled, and was rejected summarily, despite its "father's" frenzied assurances. Though I had been astir shortly before three, and at work soon after four, it was nearly seven o'clock when the last crooked way had been made straight, the last shwarri[10] balanced, and the luggage mules were moving to the Dukala gate.

The crowd of curious onlookers then gave way, some few wishing us well on the journey. I daresay there were many among them, tied by their daily toil to the town, who thought with longing of the pleasant road before us, through fertile lands where all the orchards were aflower and the peasants were gathering the ripe barley, though April had yet some days to revel in. Small boys waved their hands to us, the water-carrier carrying his tight goat-skin from the wells set his cups a-tinkling, as though by way of a God-speed, and then M'Barak touched his horse with the spur to induce the bravery of a caracole, and led us away from Djedida. I drew a long breath of pleasure and relief; we were upon the road.


[6] The sok is the market-place.

[7] Kaid is a complimentary title—he was a common soldier. M'Barak means "the blessed one," and is one of the names usually set apart for slaves.

[8] Base copper coins, of which a penny will purchase a score.

[9] It is fair to say that this is no more than one of many stories relating to the great Wazeer's early days. Another says that he started life as a soldier. There is no doubt that he is a man of extraordinary talent.

[10] A pannier made of palmetto.


LIVRE:The Project Gutenberg EBook of Morocco, by S.L. Bensusan

1 Janvier 2009 , Rédigé par saladin Publié dans #Histoire et socièté






Over the meadows that blossom and wither
Rings but the note of a sea-bird's song,
Only the sun and the rain come hither
All year long.
The Deserted Garden.

Before us the Atlantic rolls to the verge of the "tideless, dolorous inland sea." In the little bay lying between Morocco's solitary lighthouse and the famous Caves of Spartel, the waters shine in colours that recall in turn the emerald, the sapphire, and the opal. There is just enough breeze to raise a fine spray as the baby waves reach the rocks, and to fill the sails of one or two tiny vessels speeding toward the coast of Spain. There is just enough sun to warm the water in the pools to a point that makes bathing the most desirable mid-day pastime, and over land and sea a solemn sense of peace is brooding. From where the tents are set no other human habitation is in sight. A great spur of rock, with the green and scarlet of cactus sprawling over it at will, shuts off lighthouse and telegraph station, while the towering hills above hide the village of Mediunah, whence our supplies are brought each day at dawn and sun-setting.

Two fishermen, clinging to the steep side of the rock, cast their lines into the water. They are from the hills, and as far removed from our twentieth century as their prototypes who were fishing in the sparkling blue not so very far away when, the world being young, Theocritus passed and gave them immortality. In the valley to the right, the atmosphere of the Sicilian Idylls is preserved by two half-clad goatherds who have brought their flock to pasture from hillside Mediunah, in whose pens they are kept safe from thieves at night. As though he were a reincarnation of Daphnis or Menalcas, one of the brown-skinned boys leans over a little promontory and plays a tuneless ghaitah, while his companion, a younger lad, gives his eyes to the flock and his ears to the music. The last rains of this favoured land's brief winter have passed; beyond the plateau the sun has called flowers to life in every nook and cranny. Soon the light will grow too strong and blinding, the flowers will fade beneath it, the shepherds will seek the shade, but in these glad March days there is no suggestion of the intolerable heat to come.


On the plot of level ground that Nature herself has set in position for a camp, the tents are pitched. Two hold the impedimenta of travel; in the third Salam and his assistant work in leisurely fashion, as befits the time and place. Tangier lies no more than twelve miles away, over a road that must be deemed uncommonly good for Morocco, but I have chosen to live in camp for a week or two in this remote place, in preparation for a journey to the southern country. At first the tents were the cynosure of native eyes. Mediunah came down from its fastness among the hilltops to investigate discreetly from secure corners, prepared for flight so soon as occasion demanded it, if not before. Happily Salam's keen glance pierced the cover of the advance-guard and reassured one and all. Confidence established, the village agreed after much solemn debate to supply eggs, chickens, milk, and vegetables at prices doubtless in excess of those prevailing in the country markets, but quite low enough for Europeans.

This little corner of the world, close to the meeting of the Atlantic and Mediterranean waters, epitomises in its own quiet fashion the story of the land's decay. Now it is a place of wild bees and wilder birds, of flowers and bushes that live fragrant untended lives, seen by few and appreciated by none. It is a spot so far removed from human care that I have seen, a few yards from the tents, fresh tracks made by the wild boar as he has rooted o' nights; and once, as I sat looking out over the water when the rest of the camp was asleep, a dark shadow passed, not fifty yards distant, going head to wind up the hill, and I knew it for "tusker" wending his way to the village gardens, where the maize was green.

Yet the district has not always been solitary. Where now the tents are pitched, there was an orange grove in the days when Mulai Abd er Rahman ruled at Fez and Marrakesh, and then Mediunah boasted quite a thriving connection with the coasts of Portugal and Spain. The little bay wherein one is accustomed to swim or plash about at noonday, then sheltered furtive sailing-boats from the sleepy eyes of Moorish authority, and a profitable smuggling connection was maintained with the Spanish villages between Algeciras and Tarifa Point. Beyond the rocky caverns, where patient countrymen still quarry for millstones, a bare coast-line leads to the spot where legend places the Gardens of the Hesperides; indeed, the millstone quarries are said to be the original Caves of Hercules, and the golden fruit the hero won flourished, we are assured, not far away. Small wonder then that the place has an indefinable quality of enchantment that even the twentieth century cannot quite efface.


Life in camp is exquisitely simple. We rise with the sun. If in the raw morning hours a donkey brays, the men are very much perturbed, for they know that the poor beast has seen a djin. They will remain ill-at-ease until, somewhere in the heights where Mediunah is preparing for another day, a cock crows. This is a satisfactory omen, atoning for the donkey's performance. A cock only crows when he sees an angel, and, if there are angels abroad, the ill intentions of the djinoon will be upset. When I was travelling in the country some few years ago, it chanced one night that the heavens were full of shooting stars. My camp attendants ceased work at once. Satan and all his host were assailing Paradise, they said, and we were spectators of heaven's artillery making counter-attack upon the djinoon.[1] The wandering meteors passed, the fixed stars shone out with such a splendour as we may not hope to see in these western islands, and the followers of the great Camel Driver gave thanks and praise to His Master Allah, who had conquered the powers of darkness once again.

While I enjoy a morning stroll over the hills, or a plunge in the sea, Salam, squatting at the edge of the cooking tent behind two small charcoal fires, prepares the breakfast. He has the true wayfarer's gift that enables a man to cook his food in defiance of wind or weather. Some wisps of straw and charcoal are arranged in a little hole scooped out of the ground, a match is struck, the bellows are called into play, and the fire is an accomplished fact. The kettle sings as cheerfully as the cicadas in the tree tops, eggs are made into what Salam calls a "marmalade," in spite of my oft-repeated assurance that he means omelette, porridge is cooked and served with new milk that has been carefully strained and boiled. For bread we have the flat brown loaves of Mediunah, and they are better than they look—ill-made indeed, but vastly more nutritious than the pretty emasculated products of our modern bakeries.

Bargain and sale are concluded before the morning walk is over. The village folk send a deputation carrying baskets of eggs and charcoal, with earthen jars of milk or butter, fresh vegetables, and live chickens. I stayed one morning to watch the procedure.

The eldest of the party, a woman who seems to be eighty and is probably still on the sunny side of fifty, comes slowly forward to where Salam sits aloof, dignified and difficult to approach. He has been watching her out of one corner of an eye, but feigns to be quite unconscious of her presence. He and she know that we want supplies and must have them from the village, but the facts of the case have nothing to do with the conventions of trading in Sunset Land.

"The Peace of the Prophet on all True Believers. I have brought food from Mediunah," says the elderly advance-guard, by way of opening the campaign.

"Allah is indeed merciful, O my Aunt," responds Salam with lofty irrelevance. Then follows a prolonged pause, somewhat trying, I apprehend, to Aunt, and struggling with a yawn Salam says at length, "I will see what you would sell."

She beckons the others, and they lay their goods at our steward's feet. Salam turns his head away meanwhile, and looks out across the Atlantic as though anxious to assure himself about the state of agriculture in Spain. At last he wheels about, and with a rapid glance full of contempt surveys the village produce. He has a cheapening eye.

"How much?" he asks sternly.


Item by item the old dame prices the goods. The little group of young married women, with babies tied in a bundle behind them, or half-naked children clinging to their loin-cloths, nods approval. But Salam's face is a study. In place of contemptuous indifference there is now rising anger, terrible to behold. His brows are knitted, his eyes flame, his beard seems to bristle with rage. The tale of prices is hardly told before, with a series of rapid movements, he has tied every bundle up, and is thrusting the good things back into the hands of their owners. His vocabulary is strained to its fullest extent; he stands up, and with outspread hands denounces Mediunah and all its ways. The men of the village are cowards; the women have no shame. Their parents were outcasts. They have no fear of the Prophet who bade True Believers deal fairly with the stranger within their gates. In a year at most, perhaps sooner, "Our Master the Sultan" will assuredly be among these people who shame Al Moghreb,[2] he will eat them up, dogs will make merry among their graves, and their souls will go down to the pit. In short, everything is too dear.

Only the little children are frightened by this outburst, which is no more than a prelude to bargaining. The women extol and Salam decries the goods on offer; both praise Allah. Salam assures them that the country of the "Ingliz" would be ruined if its inhabitants had to pay the prices they ask for such goods as they have to sell. He will see his master starve by inches, he will urge him to return to Tangier and eat there at a fair price, before he will agree to sacrifices hitherto unheard of in Sunset Land. This bargaining proceeds for a quarter of an hour without intermission, and by then the natives have brought their prices down and Salam has brought his up. Finally the money is paid in Spanish pesetas or Moorish quarters, and carefully examined by the simple folk, who retire to their ancestral hills, once more praising Allah who sends custom. Salam, his task accomplished, complains that the villagers have robbed us shamefully, but a faint twinkle in his eye suggests that he means less than he says.

Breakfast over, I seek a hillside cave where there is a double gift of shade and a wonderful view, content to watch the pageantry of the morning hours and dream of hard work. Only the goatherds and their charges suggest that the district is inhabited, unless some vessel passing on its way to or from the southern coast can be seen communicating with the signal station round the bend of the rocks. There a kindly old Scot lives, with his Spanish wife and little children, in comparative isolation, from the beginning to the end of the year.

"I've almost forgotten my own tongue," he said to me one evening when he came down to the camp to smoke the pipe of peace and tell of the fur and feather that pass in winter time. It was on a day when a great flight of wild geese had been seen winging its way to the unknown South, and the procession had fired the sporting instinct in one of us at least.


Mid-day, or a little later, finds Salam in charge of a light meal, and, that discussed, one may idle in the shade until the sun is well on the way to the West. Then books and papers are laid aside. We set out for a tramp, or saddle the horses and ride for an hour or so in the direction of the mountain, an unexplored Riviera of bewildering and varied loveliness. The way lies through an avenue of cork trees, past which the great hills slope seaward, clothed with evergreen oak and heath, and a species of sundew, with here and there yellow broom, gum cistus, and an unfamiliar plant with blue flowers. Trees and shrubs fight for light and air, the fittest survive and thrive, sheltering little birds from the keen-eyed, quivering hawks above them. The road makes me think of what the French Mediterranean littoral must have been before it was dotted over with countless vulgar villas, covered with trees and shrubs that are not indigenous to the soil, and tortured into trim gardens that might have strayed from a prosperous suburb of London or Paris. Save a few charcoal burners, or stray women bent almost double beneath the load of wood they have gathered for some village on the hills, we see nobody. These evening rides are made into a country as deserted as the plateau that holds the camp, for the mountain houses of wealthy residents are half a dozen miles nearer Tangier.[3]

On other evenings the road chosen lies in the direction of the Caves of Hercules, where the samphire grows neglected, and wild ferns thrive in unexpected places. I remember once scaring noisy seabirds from what seemed to be a corpse, and how angrily the gorged, reluctant creatures rose from what proved to be the body of a stranded porpoise, that tainted the air for fifty yards around. On another evening a storm broke suddenly. Somewhere in the centre rose a sand column that seemed to tell, in its brief moment of existence, the secret of the origin of the djinoon that roam at will through Eastern legendary lore.

It is always necessary to keep a careful eye upon the sun during these excursions past the caves. The light fails with the rapidity associated with all the African countries, tropical and semi-tropical alike. A sudden sinking, as though the sun had fallen over the edge of the world, a brief after-glow, a change from gold to violet, and violet to grey, a chill in the air, and the night has fallen. Then there is a hurried scamper across sand, over rocks and past boulders, before the path that stretches in a faint fading line becomes wholly obliterated. In such a place as this one might wander for hours within a quarter of a mile of camp, and then only find the road by lucky accident, particularly if the senses have been blunted by very long residence in the heart of European civilisation.


I think that dinner brings the most enjoyable hour of the day. Work is over, the sights of sea and shore have been enjoyed, we have taken exercise in plenty. Salam and his helpers having dined, the kitchen tent becomes the scene of an animated conversation that one hears without understanding. Two or three old headmen, finding their way in the dark like cats, have come down from Mediunah to chat with Salam and the town Moor. The social instinct pervades Morocco. On the plains of R'hamna, where fandaks are unknown and even the n'zalas[4] are few and far between; in the fertile lands of Dukala, Shiadma, and Haha; in M'touga, on whose broad plains the finest Arab horses are reared and thrive,—I have found this instinct predominant. As soon as the evening meal is over, the headmen of the nearest village come to the edge of the tent, remove their slippers, praise God, and ask for news of the world without. It may be that they are going to rob the strangers in the price of food for mules and horses, or even over the tent supplies. It may be that they would cut the throats of all foreign wayfarers quite cheerfully, if the job could be accomplished without fear of reprisals. It is certain that they despise them for Unbelievers, i.e. Christians or Jews, condemned to the pit; but in spite of all considerations they must have news of the outer world.

When the moon comes out and the Great Bear constellation is shining above our heads as though its sole duty in heaven were to light the camp, there is a strong temptation to ramble. I am always sure that I can find the track, or that Salam will be within hail should it be lost. How quickly the tents pass out of sight. The path to the hills lies by way of little pools where the frogs have a croaking chorus that Aristophanes might have envied. On the approach of strange footsteps they hurry off the flat rocks by the pool, and one hears a musical plash as they reach water. Very soon the silence is resumed, and presently becomes so oppressive that it is a relief to turn again and see our modest lights twinkling as though in welcome.

It is hopeless to wait for wild boar now. One or two pariah dogs, hailing from nowhere, have been attracted to the camp, Salam has given them the waste food, and they have installed themselves as our protectors, whether out of a feeling of gratitude or in hope of favours to come I cannot tell, but probably from a mixture of wise motives. They are alert, savage beasts, of a hopelessly mixed breed, but no wild boar will come rooting near the camp now, nor will any thief, however light-footed, yield to the temptation our tents afford.


We have but one visitor after the last curtain has been drawn, a strange bird with a harsh yet melancholy note, that reminds me of the night-jar of the fen lands in our own country. The hills make a semicircle round the camp, and the visitor seems to arrive at the corner nearest Spartel about one o'clock in the morning. It cries persistently awhile, and then flies to the middle of the semicircle, just at the back of the tents, where the note is very weird and distinct. Finally it goes to the other horn of the crescent and resumes the call—this time, happily, a much more subdued affair. What is it? Why does it come to complain to the silence night after night? One of the men says it is a djin, and wants to go back to Tangier, but Salam, whose loyalty outweighs his fears, declares that even though it be indeed a devil and eager to devour us, it cannot come within the charmed range of my revolver. Hence its regret, expressed so unpleasantly. I have had to confess to Salam that I have no proof that he is wrong.

Now and again in the afternoon the tribesmen call to one another from the hill tops. They possess an extraordinary power of carrying their voices over a space that no European could span. I wonder whether the real secret of the powers ascribed to the half-civilised tribes of Africa has its origin in this gift. Certain it is that news passes from village to village across the hills, and that no courier can keep pace with it. In this way rumours of great events travel from one end of the Dark Continent to the other, and if the tales told me of the passage of news from South to North Africa during the recent war were not so extravagant as they seem at first hearing, I would set them down here, well assured that they would startle if they could not convince. In the south of Morocco, during the latter days of my journey, men spoke with quiet conviction of the doings of Sultan and Pretender in the North, just as though Morocco possessed a train or telegraph service, or a native newspaper. It does not seem unreasonable that, while the deserts and great rolling plains have extended men's vision to a point quite outside the comprehension of Europe, other senses may be at least equally stimulated by a life we Europeans shall: never know intimately. Perhaps the fear of believing too readily makes us unduly sceptical, and inclined to forget that our philosophy cannot compass one of the many mysteries that lie at our door.

If any proof were required that Morocco in all its internal disputes is strictly tribal, our safe residence here would supply one. On the other side of Tangier, over in the direction of Tetuan, the tribes are out and the roads are impassable. Europeans are forbidden to ride by way of Angera to Tetuan. Even a Minister, the representative of a great European Power, was warned by old Hadj Mohammed Torres, the resident Secretary for Foreign Affairs, that the Moorish Administration would not hold itself responsible for his safety if he persisted in his intention to go hunting among the hills. And here we remain unmolested day after day, while the headmen of the Mediunah tribe discuss with perfect tranquillity the future of the Pretender's rebellion, or allude cheerfully to the time when, the Jehad (Holy War) being proclaimed, the Moslems will be permitted to cut the throats of all the Unbelievers who trouble the Moghreb. In the fatalism of our neighbours lies our safety. If Allah so wills, never a Nazarene will escape the more painful road to eternal fire; if it is written otherwise, Nazarene torment will be posthumous. They do not know, nor, in times when the land is preparing for early harvest, do they greatly care, what or when the end may be. Your wise Moor waits to gather in his corn and see it safely hoarded in the clay-lined and covered pits called mat'moras. That work over, he is ready and willing, nay, he is even anxious, to fight, and if no cause of quarrel is to be found he will make one.


Every year or two a party of travellers settles on this plateau, says the headman of Mediunah. From him I hear of a fellow writer from England who was camped here six years ago.[5] Travellers stay sometimes for three or four days, sometimes for as many weeks, and he has been told by men who have come many miles from distant markets, that the Nazarenes are to be found here and there throughout the Moroccan highlands towards the close of the season of the winter rains. Clearly their own land is not a very desirable abiding place, or they have sinned against the law, or their Sultan has confiscated their worldly goods, remarks the headman. My suggestion that other causes than these may have been at work, yields no more than an assertion that all things are possible, if Allah wills them. It is his polite method of expressing reluctance to believe everything he is told.

From time to time, when we are taking our meals in the open air, I see the shepherd boys staring at us from a respectful distance. To them we must seem no better than savages. In the first place, we sit on chairs and not on the ground. We cut our bread, which, as every True Believer knows, is a wicked act and defies Providence, since bread is from Allah and may be broken with the hand but never touched with a knife. Then we do not know how to eat with our fingers, but use knives and forks and spoons that, after mere washing, are common property. We do not have water poured out over our fingers before the meal begins,—the preliminary wash in the tent is invisible and does not count,—and we do not say "Bismillah" before we start eating. We are just heathens, they must say to themselves. Our daily bathing seems to puzzle them greatly. I do not notice that little Larbi or his brother Kasem ever tempt the sea to wash or drown them. Yet they look healthy enough, and are full of dignity. You may offer them fruit or sweetmeats or anything tempting that may be on the table, and they will refuse it. I fancy they regard the invitation to partake of Nazarene's food as a piece of impertinence, only excusable because Nazarenes are mad.

The days slip away from the plateau below Mediunah. March has yielded place to April. To-morrow the pack-mules will be here at sunrise. In the afternoon, when the cool hours approach, camp will be struck, and we shall ride down the avenue of cork trees for the last time on the way to "Tanjah of the Nazarenes," whence, at the week end, the boat will carry us to some Atlantic port, there to begin a longer journey.



[1] "Moreover, we have decked the lower heaven with lamps, and have made them for pelting the devils."—Al Koran; Sura, "The Kingdom."

[2] "The Far West", the native name for Morocco.

[3] One of the most charming of these houses is "Aidonia," belonging to Mr. Ion Perdicaris. He was seized there by the brigand Rais Uli in May last.

[4] Shelters provided by the Government for travellers.

[5] A.J. Dawson, whose novels dealing with Morocco are full of rare charm and distinction.





LIVRE:The Project Gutenberg EBook of Morocco, by S.L. Bensusan

1 Janvier 2009 , Rédigé par saladin Publié dans #Histoire et socièté

The Project Gutenberg EBook of Morocco, by S.L. Bensusan

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net

Title: Morocco

Author: S.L. Bensusan

Illustrator: A.S. Forrest

Release Date: August 13, 2005 [EBook #16526]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by Juliet Sutherland, Melissa Er-Raqabi and the
Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net.



painted by

described by

Transcriber's Note:

The following apparent printer's errors were changed:
from appearonce to appearance
from everthing to everything
from kindgom to kingdom
from "Tuesday market. to "Tuesday market."
Other inconsistencies in spelling have been left as in the original.



painted by

described by



"As I have felt, so I have written."



It has been a pleasant task to recall the little journey set out in the following pages, but the writer can hardly escape the thought that the title of the book promises more than he has been able to perform. While the real Morocco remains a half-known land to-day, this book does not take the traveller from the highroad. The mere idler, the wayfarer to whom Morocco is no more than one of many places of pilgrimage, must needs deal modestly with his task, even though modesty be an unfashionable virtue; and the painstaking folk who pass through this world pelting one another with hard facts will find here but little to add to their store of ammunition. This appeal is of set purpose a limited one, made to the few who are content to travel for the sake of the pleasures of the road, free from the comforts that beset them at home, and free also from the popular belief that their city, religion, morals, and social laws are the best in the world. The qualifications that fit a man to make money and acquire the means for modern travel are often fatal to proper appreciation of the unfamiliar world he proposes to visit. To restore the balance of things, travel agents and other far-seeing folks have contrived to inflict upon most countries within the tourist's reach all the modern conveniences by which he lives and thrives. So soon as civilising missions and missionaries have pegged out their claims, even the desert is deemed incomplete without a modern hotel or two, fitted with electric light, monstrous tariff, and served by a crowd of debased guides. In the wake of these improvements the tourist follows, finds all the essentials of the life he left at home, and, knowing nothing of the life he came to see, has no regrets. So from Algiers, Tunis, Cairo—ay, even from Jerusalem itself, all suggestion of great history has passed, and one hears among ruins, once venerable, the globe-trotter's cry of praise. "Hail Cook," he cries, as he seizes the coupons that unveil Isis and read the riddle of the Sphinx, "those about to tour salute thee."

But of the great procession that steams past Gibraltar, heavily armed with assurance and circular tickets, few favour Morocco at all, and the most of these few go no farther than Tangier. Once there, they descend upon some modern hotel, often with no more than twenty-four hours in which to master the secrets of Sunset Land.

After dinner a few of the bolder spirits among the men take counsel of a guide, who leads them to the Moorish coffee-house by the great Mosque. There they listen to the music of ghaitah and gimbri, pay a peseta for a cup of indifferent coffee, and buy an unmusical instrument or two for many times the proper price. Thereafter they retire to their hotel to consider how fancy can best embellish the bare facts of the evening's amusement, while the True Believers of the coffee-house (debased in the eyes of all other Believers, and, somewhat, too, in fact, by reason of their contact with the Infidel) gather up the pesetas, curse the Unbeliever and his shameless relations, and praise Allah the One who, even in these degenerate days, sends them a profit.

On the following morning the tourists ride on mules or donkeys to the showplaces of Tangier, followed by scores of beggar boys. The ladies are shown over some hareem that they would enter less eagerly did they but know the exact status of the odalisques hired to meet them. One and all troop to the bazaars, where crafty men sit in receipt of custom and relieve the Nazarene of the money whose value he does not know. Lunch follows, and then the ship's siren summons the travellers away from Morocco, to speak and write with authority for all time of the country and its problems.

With these facts well in mind, it seemed best for me to let the pictures suffice for Tangier, and to choose for the text one road and one city. For if the truth be told there is little more than a single path to all the goals that the undisguised European may reach.

Morocco does not change save by compulsion, and there is no area of European influence below Tangier. Knowing one highway well you know something of all; consequently whether Fez, Mequinez, Wazzan, or Marrakesh be the objective, the travel story does not vary greatly. But to-day, Marrakusha-al-Hamra, Red Marrakesh, is the most African of all cities in Morocco, and seemed therefore best suited to the purpose of this book. Moreover, at the time when this journey was made, Bu Hamara was holding the approaches to Fez, and neither Mequinez nor Wazzan was in a mood to receive strangers.

So it falls out that the record of some two or three hundred miles of inland travel is all that awaits the reader here. In time to come, when Morocco has been purged of its offences of simplicity and primitiveness, the tourist shall accomplish in forty-eight hours the journey that demanded more than a month of last year's spring. For Sunset Land has no railway lines, nor can it boast—beyond the narrow limits of Tangier—telegraphs, telephones, electric light, modern hotels, or any of the other delights upon which the pampered traveller depends. It is as a primeval forest in the hour before the dawn. When the sun of France penetrates pacifically to all its hidden places, the forest will wake to a new life. Strange birds of bright plumage, called in Europe gens d'armes, will displace the storks upon the battlements of its ancient towns, the commis voyageur will appear where wild boar and hyæna now travel in comparative peace, the wild cat (felis Throgmortonensis) will arise from all mineralised districts. Arab and Berber will disappear slowly from the Moroccan forest as the lions have done before them, and in the place of their douars and ksor there shall be a multitude of small towns laid out with mathematical precision, reached by rail, afflicted with modern improvements, and partly filled with Frenchmen who strive to drown in the café their sorrow at being so far away from home. The real Morocco is so lacking in all the conveniences that would commend it to wealthy travellers that the writer feels some apology is due for the appearance of his short story of an almost unknown country in so fine a setting. Surely a simple tale of Sunset Land was never seen in such splendid guise before, and will not be seen again until, with past redeemed and forgotten, future assured, and civilisation modernised, Morocco ceases to be what it is to-day.


July 1904.


By Cape Spartel 3
From Tangier to Djedida 21
On the Moorish Road 41
To the Gates of Marrakesh 57
In Red Marrakesh 77
Round about Marrakesh 101
The Slave Market at Marrakesh 121
Green Tea and Politics 139
Through a Southern Province 159
"Sons of Lions" 179
In the Argan Forest 199
To the Gate of the Picture City 217

List of Illustrations

1. In Djedida Frontispiece
facing page
2. A Shepherd, Cape Spartel 2
3. The Courtyard of the Lighthouse, Cape Spartel 4
4. A Street, Tangier 6
5. In Tangier 8
6. A Street in Tangier 10
7. A Guide, Tangier 12
8. The Road to the Kasbah, Tangier 14
9. Head of a Boy from Mediunah 16
10. The Goatherd from Mediunah 18
11. Old Buildings, Tangier 20
12. Moorish House, Cape Spartel 22
13. A Patriarch 24
14. Pilgrims on a Steamer 26
15. The Hour of Sale 28
16. Evening, Magazan 30
17. Sunset off the Coast 32
18. A Veranda at Magazan 34
19. A Blacksmith's Shop 36
20. A Saint's Tomb 40
21. Near a Well in the Country 42
22. Near a Well in the Town 44
23. Moorish Woman and Child 46
24. Evening on the Plains 48
25. Travellers by Night 52
26. The R'Kass 56
27. A Traveller on the Plains 58
28. The Mid-day Halt 60
29. On Guard 64
30. A Village at Dukala 68
31. The Approach to Marrakesh 72
32. Date Palms near Marrakesh 76
33. On the Road to Marrakesh 80
34. A Minstrel 84
35. One of the City Gates 86
36. A Blind Beggar 90
37. A Wandering Minstrel 94
38. The Roofs of Marrakesh 100
39. A Gateway, Marrakesh 104
40. A Courtyard, Marrakesh 108
41. A Well in Marrakesh 112
42. A Bazaar, Marrakesh 114
43. A Brickfield, Marrakesh 116
44. A Mosque, Marrakesh 120
45. A Water Seller, Marrakesh 124
46. On the Road to the Sôk el Abeed 126
47. The Slave Market 128
48. Dilals in the Slave Market 132
49. On the House-top, Marrakesh 138
50. A House Interior, Marrakesh 142
51. A Glimpse of the Atlas Mountains 146
52. A Marrakshi 150
53. Street in Marrakesh 154
54. An Arab Steed 158
55. A Young Marrakshi 162
56. Fruit Market, Marrakesh 164
57. In the Fandak 166
58. The Jama'a Effina 170
59. Evening in Camp 178
60. Preparing Supper 182
61. A Goatherd 186
62. Coming from the Mosque, Hanchen 190
63. Evening at Hanchen 198
64. On the Road to Argan Forest 202
65. The Snake Charmer 204
66. In Camp 206
67. A Countryman 208
68. Moonlight 212
69. A Moorish Girl 216
70. A Narrow Street in Mogador 218
71. Night Scene, Mogador 220
72. House Tops, Mogador 222
73. Selling Grain in Mogador 224
74. Selling Oranges 226

The Illustrations in this volume have been engraved in England by the Hentschel Colourtype Process.



1 Janvier 2009 , Rédigé par saladin Publié dans #JUIFS

CABEL Eytan (1959-). Originaire d’Israël (Roch Ha’ayin) de famille yéménite. Entrepre-neur en construction et homme politique, membre du Parti travailliste, il est député à la Kénésset (Parlement).

CABESSA Abraham (XVes.). Originaire d’Espagne. Dirigeant de la communauté des exilés d’Espagne à Marrakech, conseiller et ministre du sultan Mohammed Ech Cheikh, il utilisa son influence pour améliorer la situation des Juifs dans le Royaume.

CABEZA Chémouèl (XVIes.). Originaire du Maroc. Conseiller du chérif saadien.

CALEB Jacob (XIXe-XXes.). Originaire de Bulgarie (Plovdiv). Enseignant et défenseur de l’éducation sioniste, il fut attaqué par des notables et des administrateurs de l’Alliance Israélite Universelle pour ses positions politiques. Menacé d’être congédié, il continua à prôner ses idées dans les journaux et fut soutenu par d’autres enseignants de son école.

CAMHI Ovadia Acher (XXes.). Originaire d’Angleterre. Dirigeant communautaire, il fut secrétaire de la Fédération sépharade Mondiale qu’il contribua à développer.

CAPON Aaron (XXes.). Originaire de Grèce. Dirigeant communautaire, il fut l’un des fondateurs de la première communauté organisée du Mexique.

CAPON Augusto (1872-1944). Originaire d’Italie. Amiral, il mourut dans un camp de concentration nazi.

CAPRIOLO Pepita G. (1954-). Originaire d’Italie (Milan), installée à Montréal (Québec). Diplômée en Droit des universités d’Oxford et de McGill, elle est juge à la Cour supérieure du Québec.

CARASSO Emmanuel (XXes.). Originaire de Turquie. Dirigeant du Comité de l’union et du progrès (C.U.P.), il fut membre du mouvement des jeunes Turcs et député de Salonique au Parlement ottoman.

CARCASSONE Charly (XXes.). Originaire d’Algérie. Résistant, il fut l’un des fondateurs de la résistance juive oranaise contre le gouvernement de Vichy.

CARDOZO Aaron Nuñés (1762-1834). Originaire d’Angleterre (Gibraltar). Fournisseur de la marine royale anglaise et ami de l’Amiral Nelson, consul de Tunis et d’Alger, il contribua à la signature du traité de paix entre le Portugal et la Tunisie.

CARDOZO David Nuñes (1752-1835). Originaire des États-Unis. Il participa à la guerre d’Indépendance des États-Unis.

CARIGAL Raphael Haïm Itshak (1733-1777). Originaire de Palestine (Hébron). Émissaire, il voyagea à Curaçao, au Surinam, à Londres et aux États-Unis. Ami du président de l’Université Yale, il maintint avec lui une correspondance importante.

CARILLO Isaac (XVIIIes.). Originaire du Surinam. Planteur et homme d’affaires, il mena, avec Salomon du Plessis, une violente campagne contre le gouverneur Jan Jacob Mauricius et fut provisoirement expulsé de la colonie.

CARMONA Itshak (XIXes.). Originaire de Turquie. Financier et banquier à la Cour du sultan, dirigeant communautaire important et fondateur de yéchivot dans plusieurs villes du Moyen-Orient, il fut le dirigeant de l’organisation responsable de l’envoi de fonds aux communautés juives de Palestine. Lors de l’abolition des corps des Janissaires, il fut assassiné sur les ordres du sultan et sa fortune confisquée, ce qui mit la communauté juive dans de graves difficultés financières.

CARMONA Moché (XIXes.). Originaire de Turquie. Banquier, il établit une entreprise bancaire à Istanbul pendant le règne de Sélim III dont il fut le conseiller.

CARSINET Aaron (XVIIes.). Originaire du Maroc. Banquier, il fut aussi conseiller du sultan Moulay Ismaël.

CARVAJAL Abraham Israël Antonio Fernandés (ou Carvalhal) (1590?-1659). Originaire du Portugal (Fundao) de famille marrane, installé aux îles Canaries puis à Rouen et à Londres. Commerçant en vins et métaux précieux et fournisseur pour l’armée espagnole des Flandres, il renonça à son allégeance envers l’Espagne lors de la guerre entre l’Angleterre et l’Espagne. Il revint au judaïsme et fut le fondateur de la première synagogue déclarée à Londres en 1656.

CARVALHO Nuñes Emmanuel (XIXes.). Originaire d’Angleterre. Dirigeant spirituel de la communauté sépharade de Philadelphie, il publia un ouvrage sur la langue hébraïque.

CARVALLO Jules (XIXes.). Originaire de France. Ingénieur des ponts et chaussées, constructeur ferroviaire, il fut l’un des fondateurs et le premier président de la première organisation juive internationale, l’Alliance Israélite Universelle.

CASTIEL Judah (1934-). Originaire du Maroc (Ksar El-Kébir), installé au Québec (Montréal). Éducateur et dirigeant communautaire, il est président de la Fédération Sépharade du Canada et rédacteur en chef de La Voix Sépharade.

CASTRO Abraham (XVIes.). Originaire d’Espagne. Ministre des Finances d’Égypte, il avertit le sultan d’une conspiration fomentée par le Pacha Ahmad. Pour se venger, ce dernier menaça les Juifs égyptiens, mais il fut arrêté et exécuté avant de réaliser ses plans. Cet épisode donna lieu tous les 28 de Adar à la célébration du Pourim Mitsrayim (Pourim égyptien).

CASTRO Itshak (José de Lis) (1625?-1647). Originaire du Portugal, installé à Amsterdam puis à Bahia, il fut dénoncé à l’Inquisition pour avoir visité une synagogue à Recife. Arrêté, il fut brûlé vif. Son cas entraîna de nombreuses réactions parmi les Chrétiens et surtout parmi les Juifs. Des poèmes en hébreu et en espagnol lui furent dédiés.

CASTRO Léon (XXes.). Originaire d’Égypte. Président de l’Organisation sioniste du Caire, conseiller de Saad Zaghloul, un dirigeant nationaliste égyptien et directeur du journal La liberté, il prit position en faveur de l’indépendance de l’Égypte.

CATTAOUI BEY René (1896-?). Originaire d’Égypte. Homme d’affaires, érudit, président de la communauté juive du Caire et homme politique, il fut élu membre du Parlement.

CATTAOUI Joseph Aslan (1861-1942). Originaire d’Égypte. Industriel, dirigeant de la communauté juive du Caire, député, sénateur et ministre des Finances et des Communications, il participa comme délégué à la négociation pour l’indépendance de l’Égypte.

CAZÈS David (1851-1913). Originaire du Maroc (Tétouan). Écrivain, historien et enseignant rattaché à l’Alliance Israélite Universelle, il fonda et dirigea plusieurs écoles en Théssalie, Izmir, Tunis et Sfax. Installé à Buenos Aires et membre de l’Association de la colonisation juive fondée par le Baron de Hirsch, il est l’auteur de l’Essai sur l’histoire des Israélites de Tunisie, notes bibliographiques sur la littérature juive-tunisienne. Il contribua aussi à la Revue des Études Juives et à d’autres publications.

CAZÈS-BENATTAR Hélène (1900-?). Originaire du Maroc (Tanger), installée en France. Première femme avocate dans l’histoire du Maroc, elle fut impliquée dans les institutions de Casablanca et de Tanger. Elle dirigea le bureau du American Joint Distribution Committee qui vint en aide aux réfugiés juifs lors de la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Elle fonda à Paris l’Union pour la Promotion des Juifs du Maroc Vivant en France (UJPM).

CELEBONOVIC Jakov (XXes.). Originaire de Serbie. Dirigeant communautaire et président de la communauté sépharade de Belgrade, il était favorable à l’intégration complète des Juifs à la société yougoslave.

CHALOM Itshak (1886-1968). Originaire de Syrie (Alep), installé aux États-Unis. Commer-çant et philanthrope, dirigeant communautaire de New York, il contribua à des institutions éducatives orthodoxes et fut l’un des fondateurs de Otsar hatorah, une organisation qui fournit une éducation hébraïque à des milliers d’enfants juifs vivant dans les pays du Moyen-Orient et d’Afrique du Nord.

CHALOM Sylvain (1958-). Originaire de Tunisie, installé en Israël. Journaliste et homme politique, il est député à la Kénésset (Parlement).

CHALTIEL David (1903-1969). Originaire d’Allemagne (Hambourg). Soldat et diplomate israélien, il servit dans la Légion étrangère française avant de s’installer définitivement en Palestine. Il joignit la Haganah et établit le service de renseignement. Commandant de Jérusalem durant la Guerre d’Indépendance, il fut nommé général puis attaché militaire en France, au Bénélux et en Italie. Diplomate au Brésil et au Vénézuéla, il fut ambassadeur au Mexique, dans les îles des Caraïbes et en Hollande.

CHALTIEL Joseph (XXes.). Originaire d’Allemagne (Hambourg). Frère de David Chaltiel. L’un des derniers dirigeants de la com-munauté portugaise de Hambourg, il mourut, ainsi que sa famille, à Auschwitz.

CHEBABO Isaac (XIXes.). Originaire de Palestine. Il fonda à Tunis les éditions Angel qui publièrent les ouvrages majeurs du sionisme politique dont Auto-émancipation de Léo Pinsker; L’État juif de Théodore Herzl et Classe et Nation de Ber Borokhov.

CHEMLA Abraham (XIXes.). Originaire de Tunisie. Dirigeant communautaire, il attira l’attention, à travers sa correspondance, sur la détérioration de la situation des communautés juives et demanda aux organismes philan-tropiques juifs européens d’intervenir auprès de leurs gouvernements.

CHÉTRIT Simon (XXes.). Originaire du Maroc (Tafilalet), installé en Israël. Homme politique israélien, il est député travailliste.

CHIRQUI Adi (XIXes.). Originaire du Maroc. Commerçant important de Safi, il insuffla un dynamisme nouveau au port de Mogador.

CHIRQUI Mordékhaï (XVIIIes.). Originaire du Maroc (Marrakech). Dirigeant communautaire lors du règne de Moulay Yazid qui persécuta les Juifs marocains, il refusa de se convertir à l’Islam et fut brûlé dans un four à chaux alors que sa famille réussissait à s’enfuir.

CHIRQUI Yossef (XIXes.). Originaire du Maroc. Riche négociant de Tanger, interprète au Consulat de Suède, puis de France, il se fit connaître pour ses qualités de diplomate. Après sa mort, son fils Moché Chirqui fonda une synagogue qu’il nomma à la mémoire de son père Chéérit Yossef. Elle fut inaugurée lors de la visite historique de Sir Mosés Montéfiore à Tanger.

CHITRIT Méir (1948-). Originaire du Maroc, installé en Israël. Homme politique, membre de la coalition Likoud-Tsomet (partis nationa-listes), député à la Kénésset (Parlement), il a été maire de Yavneh et trésorier de l’Agence Juive.

CIVITA César (XXes.). Originaire d’Italie, installé en Argentine. Homme d’affaires, il dirige l’Editorial Abril, la plus grande société d’imprimerie de périodiques.

COHEN Albert (1946-). Né à Meknès, installé à Paris. Homme d’affaires, président-directeur général de ITO et dirigeant communautaire, il fut l’un des cofondateurs du Centre Rambam dont il est trésorier et promoteur de la Maison France-Israël à Paris.

COHEN BEN MAKNIN Méïr (XIXes.). Originaire du Maroc (Mogador). Commerçant et diplomate, il était proche de la Cour du sultan Moulay Abderrahman. Il fut administrateur des douanes aux ports de Mazagan et de Tanger et ambassadeur du Maroc en Angleterre.

COHEN Benjamin (XVIIIes.). Originaire des Pays-Bas. Marchand de tabac à Amersfoort, il donna l’asile à Guillaume V d’Orange chassé de La Haye lors de la guerre civile.

COHEN Chémouèl (XVIIes.). Marrane d’ori-gine portugaise, il s’installa à Amsterdam où il revint au judaïsme. Interprète du commandant de la flotte hollandaise qui conquit l’île de Curaçao contrôlée par les Espagnols, il participa également à la conquête de Recife au Brésil par les Hollandais. Installé à Curaçao, il aurait convaincu quelques autres Juifs des Pays-Bas de s’installer sur l’île.

COHEN David (XXes.). Originaire du Maroc (Meknès), installé en France. Dirigeant communautaire, fondateur du Centre Rambam à Paris, il est l’auteur de Passions marocaines, mémoires.

COHEN Élie (XXes.). Originaire d’Égypte, installé en Israël. Membre des services secrets israéliens, il réussit à pénétrer les hautes instances du gouvernement syrien, détenant ainsi des informations qu’il transmit à son pays,  avant d’être arrêté, torturé et pendu à Damas.

COHEN Lévi A. (1844-1888). Originaire du Maroc (Tanger). Avocat, commerçant et journaliste, il vécut à Mogador, en Angleterre et en France. Fondateur du second journal de Tanger et du premier journal de langue française au Maroc, Le Réveil du Maroc, correspondant des journaux juifs de Londres, The Jewish World et The Jewish Chronicle, il milita en faveur des Droits de l’homme et de ceux de la communauté juive.

COHEN Joseph (1943-). Originaire du Maroc (El-Jadida), installé au Québec (Montréal). Éditeur, il a publié plusieurs ouvrages sur l’histoire et la société québécoise et il est l’auteur d’une anthologie sur les Juifs de Debdou, inti-tulée Une nouvelle Séville en Afrique du Nord.

COHEN Maurice (1935-). Originaire du Maroc (Berkane), installé au Québec (Montréal). Premier sépharade à être élu au Québec. Conseiller municipal à Ville Saint-Laurent, une rue de cette municipalité porte son nom.

COHEN Ran (1937-). Originaire d’Irak, installé en Israël. Agriculteur et homme politique, membre du Meretz (gauche laïque), il est député à la Kénésset (Parlement).

COHEN-HADRIA Elie (1898-?). Originaire de Tunisie. Médecin, il fit une carrière politique dans le mouvement socialiste en Tunisie.

COHEN-SCALI Albert (XXes.). Originaire d’Algérie (Oran), installé en France. Adminis-trateur, il est président-directeur général de Rivoire et Carret.

COHEN-SOLAL Haïm (XIXes.). Originaire d’Algérie. Avec son frère, Jacob Cohen-Solal, il fut l’un des premiers imprimeurs juifs du Maghreb. Ensemble, ils publièrent la Haggadah de Pessah qu’on appellera plus tard la Haggadah d’Alger.

COHEN-TANNOUDJI Edmond (1900-1986). Originaire d’Algérie, installé en France. Exploitant de salles de cinéma en Afrique du Nord puis directeur-fondateur des Films Marceau-Cocinor, il a participé à plusieurs jurys de festivals. Dirigeant communautaire, président du Consistoire israélite de Paris, il a contribué au développement du réseau scolaire.

COHEN-TANNOUDJI Joshuah (XVIIIes.). Originaire de Tunisie. Caïd et receveur des finances, il fit imprimer à Tunis le Zerah’Itshak (La descendance d’Isaac) du rabbin Itshak Lombroso.

COHEN Yéhoudah (XVIIes.). Originaire d’Algérie. Dirigeant communautaire et diplomate, il participa à des négociations portant sur la paix et le commerce avec les Pays-Bas.

CONFINO Albert (1866-1958). Originaire de Bulgarie (Karnabat), installé en Iran puis en Algérie. Administrateur scolaire, il développa le réseau des écoles de l’Alliance Israélite Universelle à Ispahan, Constantinople, Alger et Tétouan.

CORCOS Abraham (XIXes.). Originaire du Maroc. Commerçant international, agent de la Banque Péreire au Maroc et consul des États-Unis à Mogador, il fut l’un des organisateurs de la visite historique de Sir Mosés Montéfiore au Maroc et il accompagna son hôte à l’audience accordée par le sultan à Marrakech.

CORCOS Haïm (XIXes.). Originaire du Maroc. Commerçant, financier et banquier des sultans du Maroc, il fut dirigeant de la communauté de Marrakech.

CORCOS Ichoua (1832-1929). Originaire du Maroc. Fils de Haïm Corcos. Dirigeant de la communauté de Marrakech et conseiller du pacha de la ville et de plusieurs sultans, il se prononça en faveur de l’ouverture d’une école de l’Alliance Israélite Universelle, malgré l’opposition de quelques rabbins.

CORCOS Léon (XIXes.). Originaire du Maroc (Mogador). Commerçant, il contribua au développement du système éducatif de sa communauté ainsi qu’à l’expansion de la ville d’Agadir.

CORCOS Maïmon (?-1799?). Originaire du Maroc. Dirigeant communautaire, il fut l’un des fondateurs de la communauté juive de Mogador.

CORCOS Stella (1857-1948). Originaire des États-Unis (New York). Elle fonda à Mogador une école privée de jeunes filles où l’anglais était la première langue. Elle lutta contre les influences protestantes dans la communauté juive.

CORIAT Itshak (XIXes.). Originaire du Maroc (Tétouan). Dirigeant communautaire de Mogador, il soutint sa ville natale lors de la guerre de 1860 entre le Maroc et l’Espagne.

CORONEL David Senior (1567?-1647). Originaire du Portugal de famille marrane, installé au Brésil hollandais. Commerçant et dirigeant de la communauté juive, la Congréga-tion Tsour Israël le choisit comme trésorier des fonds de la Terre Sainte.

CRÉMIEUX Adolphe (1796-1880). Originaire de France. Avocat, député, ministre de la Justice et administra-teur du Consistoire central et membre fondateur de l’Allian-ce Israélite Univer-selle, il défendit les droits des minorités juives en Europe, en Afrique du Nord et au Moyen-Orient. Il fit voter la loi qui faisait des Juifs algériens des citoyens français (Décret-Crémieux).

CURIEL Henri (XXes.). Originaire d’Égypte. Homme politique, il fut le cofondateur du Parti communiste égyptien.

CURIEL Moché (DA COSTA Geronimo Nuñes) (1620-1697). Originaire d’Italie (Florence), il grandit à Hambourg. Agent de la couronne portugaise en France, il développa le commerce avec le Portugal et ses colonies. Amateur d’art, il fut aussi dirigeant de la communauté amstellodamoise.


Un nouveau point de départ pour l'histoire de l'Atlantique central

1 Janvier 2009 , Rédigé par saladin

Un nouveau point de départ pour l'histoire de l'Atlantique central

Mohamed SahabiE-mail The Corresponding Author, a, Daniel AslanianE-mail The Corresponding Author, b and Jean-Louis OlivetCorresponding Author Contact Information, E-mail The Corresponding Author, b

a Laboratoire Géosciences marines, faculté des sciences d'El Jadida. BP 20, 24000, El Jadida, Maroc

b Département de recherches océanographiques–Géosciences marines, Ifremer, centre de Brest, 29280, Plouzané, France

26 Janvier 2004; 
accepté le: 2 Mars 2004. 
Available online 23 July 2004.


La première croûte océanique de l'Atlantique central est le plus souvent attribuée au Jurassique moyen. Notre reconstruction la situe à la fin du Sinémurien, soit environ 20 Ma plus tôt, différence capitale pour la modélisation des marges américaine et africaine. Cette révision, qui met fin à nombre de contradictions, est fondée sur la réinterprétation de deux éléments clés : l'équivalent africain de la East Coast Magnetic Anomaly, d'une part, l'extension des bassins à évaporites triasico-liasiques du Maroc et de Nouvelle-Écosse, d'autre part. L'article est consacré à cette réinterprétation et à ses conséquences en termes d'âge. Pour citer cet article : M. Sahabi et al., C. R. Geoscience 336 (2004).

The first oceanic crust in the central Atlantic is usually thought to have a Middle Jurassic age. The new interpretation of the two key parameters, the African homologue of the East Coast Magnetic Anomaly and the situation of the Triassic salt basin of Morocco and Novia Scotia, shows that this age was underestimated by about 20 Ma. In our kinematic reconstruction, the first oceanic crust begins at the Late Sinemurian. This difference in age is crucial for the evolution of those margins and we discuss here its consequences. To cite this article: M. Sahabi et al., C. R. Geoscience 336 (2004).

Mots-clé: Atlantique central; anomalie magnétique; bassin à évaporites; cinématique

Article Outline

Abridged English version
1. Introduction
2. Les structures de la marge américaine
2.1. La East Coast Magnetic Anomaly
2.2. Les bassins à évaporites
3. Les structures de la marge africaine
3.1. L'anomalie ouest-africaine (Fig. 3)
3.2. Une nouvelle interprétation de l'anomalie ouest-africaine
3.3. Les bassins à évaporites
4. Discussion
5. Conclusion


Corresponding Author Contact InformationCorresponding author. Auteur correspondant.

La femme de Mazagan renvoie à sa grand-mère Eugénie (1887-1951) la première de la famille Delanoë à venir s’installer au Maroc,

1 Janvier 2009 , Rédigé par saladin Publié dans #Bibliographie

« La Femme de Mazagan » de Nelcya Delanoë: Il était une fois la première femme médecin  Jeudi 29 Mai 2008
Abdelaziz Mouride

Ce livre comme son auteur, Nelcya Delanoë, mérite tout l’intérêt des chroniqueurs comme des lecteurs marocains, celui que l’on accorde généralement aux hommes et aux femmes dont l’histoire personnelle, et souvent celle de leur famille sur plusieurs générations, croise celle plus générale, de la société marocaine, sans compter qu’elle se déroule sur le sol marocain. C’est le cas de Nelcya Delanoë dont le père le docteur Guy Delanoë s’est illustré dans les années cinquante, en tant que Président de Conscience française, par son opposition à la présence française au Maroc.
Ce n’est pas de son père, cependant qu’il s’agit dans ce livre. La femme de Mazagan renvoie à sa grand-mère Eugénie (1887-1951) la première de la famille Delanoë à venir s’installer au Maroc, à Mazagan, El Jadida aujourd’hui, plus précisément en tant que médecin, dès 1913, à peine une année après l’installation du pays sous la tutelle française . née Rubenstein, d’une famille juive russo-polonaise, Eugénie avait quitté la tyrannie tsariste dès 1904 pour aller s’installer à Paris qu’elle a tant aimé. C’est en tant que citoyenne française que la doctoresse Eugénie Delanoë, la première femme médecin au Maroc, débarque à Mazagan, la ville dont elle passe toute sa vie, où elle était connu avec son mari , lui-même médecin, dans la population marocaine sous le nom « Monsieur et Madame Delanuit » , ou plus fréquemment encore sous la qualificatif « T’biba ». C’est à El Jadida également qu’elle est enterrée avec son mari.
Leur aura était tel que les deux rues attenantes à l’hôpital où les deux époux ont exercé, portent leurs noms depuis.
Nelcya Delanoë n’est pas à son premier essai. Ethnologue, professeur universitaire, Nelcya Delanoë, née au Maroc, a fait des études en France et aux Etats-Unis. Elle a également séjourné longtemps au Viet-Nam durant la guerre. On lui doit particulièrement un livre qui retrace la vie des soldats marocains de l’armée française qui ont rallié les vietnamiens. Il s’agit de « Poussière d’empire ». Un livre plutôt atypique comme d’ailleurs tous ses ouvrages essentiellement consacrés aux Amérindiens. On citera notamment « L’Entaille rouge, terre indiennes et démocratie américaine » paru en 1982 ; « les Indiens dans l’histoire américaine » entre autres livres.
« C’est vrai, mon désir a toujours été d’écrire des objets non-identifiés » -explique-t-elle dans un entretien. « Des objets qui rendent aussi compte de la façon dont le travail s’est fait, même s’il faut que cela passe, en effet, par la première personne. Mon objectivité passe par ma subjectivité - d’où ce que vous appelez la mise en scène des enquêtes. Et ma subjectivité doit passer par le filtre de l’objectif : les photos, la transcription d’entretiens, les archives. »
Tout est dit dans ces quelques phrases à propos de ce livre : La mise en scène de faits réels attestés par des documents mais racontés d’une manière romancée où l’auteur s’implique en tant que personnage sous le nom de Mélodie. C’est une technique qui permet en fait de faire d’une pierre deux coup : se raconter soi-même en racontant les autres. Ici l’autre, c’est la grand-mère Eugénie dont l’auteur suit la trace à travers des témoignages de personnes qui l’ont connu, mais aussi à travers des documents qu’elle a laissé dont des lettres et un livre qu’elle avait écrit sous le titre « Trente années d’activité médicale et sociale au Maroc » . Elle suit sa trace également sur les lieux de son passage, en France puis au Maroc et aux Etats-Unis où elle s’était rendue en 1945.
Paru en France la première fois en 1998, « La Femme de Mazagan » de Nelcya Delanoë, n’a pas eu l’écho qu’il mérite au Maroc. Aujourd’hui édité chez Eddif, dans la collection BAB, le livre est désormais disponible en librairie.

Qui est Guy Delanoé?

Native de Mazagan, Nelcya Delanoë est la fille du docteur Guy Délanoë, Président du mouvement Conscience française qui regroupe les libéraux français favorables à l’indépendance du Maroc et au retour du roi Mohamed V, injustement déposé et exilé à Madagascar.
Fils de médecins Pierre et Eugénie Delanoë, installé à Mazagan au lendemain de l’instauration du protectorat, Guy Delanoë, a été l’une des rares personnalités française à se ranger du côté du mouvement nationaliste marocain.
Il est l’auteur de trois ouvrages qui se rapportent à cette période :
-« Lyautey, Juin, Mohamed V, fin d’un protectorat »- Tome 1
-« La Résistance marocaine et le mouvement Conscience française »- Tome2
-« Retour du roi et l’indépendance retrouvée »- Tome 3
tombeau du Docteur Eugénie Délanoé.jpg (14.54 KB)


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