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FRENCH CONQUERORS AND COLONISTS.
The extraordinary deficiency re- after mad theories and empty names, cently exhibited by a great Continen- and riding down, in the furious chase, tal nation in two qualities eminently its own prosperity and respectaprized by Englishmen-in common bility. consistency, namely, and in common We repeat, then, that these great sense-has cast into the shade all pre- follies of to-day eclipse the minor ones vious shortcomings of the kind, mak- of yesterday. When we see France ing them appear remote and trivial. destroying, in a few weeks, her comA people of serfs, ruled for centuries merce and her credit, and doing herwith an iron rod, pillaged for their self more harm than as many years masters' profit, and lashed at the will repair, we overlook the fact, that slightest murmur, were excusable if, for upwards of fifteen years she has on sudden emancipation from such annually squandered from three to five galling thraldom, their joyful gambols millions sterling upon an unproducexceeded the limits prescribed by pub- tive colony in North Africa. France lic decorum, and by a due regard to used not to be petty in her wars, or their own future prosperity. They paltry in her enterprises. If she was might be forgiven for dancing round sometimes quarrelsome and aggresmaypoles, and dreaming of social per- sive, she was wont at least to fasten fection. It would not be wonderful on foes worthy of her power and reif they had difficulty in immediately sources. Since 1830 she has deroreplacing their expelled tyrants by a gated in this particular. A complicacapable and stable government, and tion of causes-the most prominent if their brief exhilaration were suc- being the vanity characteristic of ceeded by a period of disorganisation the nation, the crooked policy of and weakness. Such allowances can- the sovereign, and the morbid love of not be made for the mad capers of fighting bequeathed by the warlike republican France. The deliverance period of the Empire-has kept France is inadequate to account for the en- engaged in a costly and discreditable suing delirium. The grievances swept contest, whose most triumphant reaway by the February revolution, and sults could be but inglorious, and in which patience, prudence, and mode- which she has decimated her best ration, could not have failed ultimate- troops, and deteriorated her ancient ly to remove-as thoroughly, if less . fame, whilst pursuing, with unworthy rapidly-were not so terrible as to jus- ferocity and ruthlessness, a feeble and tify lunacy upon redress. Neverthe- inoffensive foe. This is no partial or less, since then, the absurdities com- malicious view of the character of the mitted by France, or at least by Paris, Algerine war. Deliberately, and after are scarcely explicable save on the due reflection, we repeat, that France supposition of temporary aberration has gravely compromised in Africa of intellect. Unimaginative persons her reputation as a chivalrous and have difficulty in realising the panor- clement nation, and that she no ama of events, alternately sanguin- longer can claim-as once she was ary and grotesque, lamentable and wont to do-to be as humane in vicludicrous, spread over the last ten tory as she is valiant in the fight. months.
Europe the portion of For proof of this we need seek no it, that is to say, which has not been further than in the speeches and bitten by the same rabid and mis- despatches of French generals, of men chievous demon- has looked on, in who themselves , have served and utter astonishment, at the painful commanded in Africa. We will judge spectacle of a leader of its civilisation France by the voices of her own sons, galloping, with Folly on its crupper, of those she has selected as worthiest
A Campaign in the Kabylie. By Dawson BORRER, F.R.G.S., &c. London, 1848.
to govern her half-conquered colony, he took little pains to cloak his system, and to marshal ber legions against a and is too great a blunderer to have handful of Arabs. More than one of succeeded, had he taken more. A these officers testify, voluntarily or man of greater presumption than unwittingly, to the barbarity of the capacity, his audacity, obstinacy, and system pursued in Africa. What unscrupulousness knew no bounds. said General Castellane, in his well- Before this African man-hunt, as M. known speech in the Chamber of Castellane calls it, he was unknown, Peers, on the 4th July 1845? “We except as the Duchess de Berry's have reduced the country by an jailer, as the slayer of poor Dulong, arsenal of axes and phosphorus and as a turbulent debater, whose matches. The trees were cut down, noisy declamation, and occasional ofthe crops were burned, and soon the fences against the French language, mastery was obtained of a population were a standing joke with the newsreduced to famine and despair.” And papers. A few years elapse, and we elsewhere in the same speech : “Few find him opposing his stubborn will to soldiers perish by the hand of the that of Soult, then minister at war, and enemy in this war-a sort of man-hunt successfully thwarting Napoleon's old on a large scale, in which the Arabs, lieutenant. This he was enabled to ignorant of European tactics, having do mainly by the position he had no cannon-balls to exchange against made himself in Africa. He had ours, do not fight with equal arms." ridden into power and importance on Monsieur A. Desjobert, long a deputy the shoulders of the persecuted Arabs, for the department of the Lower Seine, by a system of razzias and villageis the author of a volume, and of seve- burning, of wholesale slaughter and ral pamphlets, upon the Algerine ques. relentless oppression. Brighter far tion. In the most recent of these we were the laurels gathered by the lieutefind the following remarkable note:- nant of the Empire, than those plucked “In February 1837, General Bugeaud by Louis Philippe's marshal amidst said to the Arabs, You shall not the ashes of Bedouin douars and the plough, you shall not sow, nor lead corpses of miserable Mussulmans, slain your cattle to the pasture, without in defence of their scanty birthright, our permission. Later, he gives the of their tents, their flocks, and the following definition of a razzia: “A free range of the desert.
Poor was sudden irruption, having for its object the defence they could make against to surprise the tribes, in order to kill their skilful and disciplined invaders; the men, and to carry off the women, slight the loss they could inflict in children, and cattle.' In 1844, he requital of the heavy one they sufcompletes this theory, by saying to fered. Again we are obliged to M. the Kabyles, 'I will penetrate into Desjobert for statistics, gathered from your mountains, I will burn your reports to the Commission of Credits, villages and your crops, I will cut and from Marshal Bugeaud's own downy fruit-trees.' (Proclamation bulletins. From these we learn that of the 30th March.) În 1846, ren- the loss in battle of the French armies, dering an account of his operations during the first ten years of the occuagainst Abd-el-Kader, he says to the pation of Algeria, was an average of authorities of Algiers, “The power one hundred and forty men per of Abd-el-Kader consists in the re- annum. In the four following years, sources of the tribes; hence, to ruin eight hundred and eighty-five men his power, we must first ruin the perished. The capture of Constantine Arabs; therefore have we burned cost one hundred men, the muchmuch, destroyed much.' (From the vaunted affair of the Smala nine, the Akhbar newspaper of February 1846.)" battle of Isly TWENTY-SEVEN! We These are significant passages in the well remember, for we chanced to be mouth of a general-in-chief. Pre. in Paris at the time, the stir produced sently, when we come to details, we in that excitable capital by the battle shall show they were not thrown of Isly. No one, unacquainted with away upon his subordinates. The the facts, would have doubted that extermination of the Arabs was al. the victory was over a most valiant ways the real aim of Marshal Bugeaud; and formidable foe. People's mouths
were filled with this revival of the after the defeat of the Moors, joined military glories of Gaul. Newspapers Abd-el-Kader. The Emir and his and picture-shops, poets and painters, Arabs took no part in the affair. combined to celebrate the exploit and “I deserted, with several of my sound the victors' praise. One en- comrades, during the night-march graving de circonstance, we remember, stolen by the French upon the Moors. represented a sturdy French foot- We sought the emperor's son in his soldier, trampling, like Gulliver, a camp, and informed him of the movehost of Lilliputian Moors, and car- ment making by the French column. rying a score of them over his shoulder, The emperor's son had our horses spitted on his bayonet. Out of my taken away, and gave orders not to way!" was the inscription beneath lose sight of us. Then he said to us:the print—" Les Français seront tou- 6. Let them come, those dogs of jours les Français." Horace Vernet, Christians; they are but thirteen colourist, by special appointment, to thousand strong, and we a hundred the African campaign, pictorial chro- and sixty thousand : we will receive nicler of the heroic feats of the house them well.' militant of Orleans, prepared his best "The day was well advanced bebrushes, and stretched his broadest fore the Moors perceived the French. canvass, to immortalise the marshal Then the emperor's son ordered his and his men. After a few days, two horsemen to mount and advance. dingy tents and an enormous umbrella The French marched in a square. were exhibited in the gardens of the They unmasked their artillery, and Tuileries; these were trophies of the the guns sent their deadly charge of fight—the private property of Mo- grape into the ranks of the Moors, hammed - Abderrhaman, the van- who immediately took to flight, and quished prince of Morocco, the real the French had nothing to do but merit of whose conquerors was about to sabre them.” as great as that of an active tiger “The Moors,” says M. Alby, “had who gloriously scatters a numerous fine horses and good sabres; but their flock of sheep. From one of several muskets were bad; and the men, books relating to Algeria, now upon softened by centuries of peace and our table, we will take a French prosperity, smoking keef * and eating officer's account of the affair of Isly. copiously, might be expected to run, The story of Escoffier, a trumpeter as they did, at the first cannonwho generously resigned his horse to shot.” his dismounted captain, bimself fall- It is hard to understand how the ing into the hands of the Arabs, whose loss of the French should have aprisoner he remained for about eigh- mounted to even the twenty-seven men teen months, is told by M. Alby, an at which it is stated in their general's officer of the African army. Although bulletin. Did M. Bugeaud, unwilling a little vivid in the colouring, and to admit the facility of his triumph, comprising two or three very tough slay the score and seven with his “yarns," —due, we apprehend, to the goosequill?' But if the victory was imagination of trumpeter or author- easily won, on the other hand, it was its historical portion professes to be, largely rewarded. For having driven and probably is, correct; and, at any before him, by the very first volley rate, there can be no reason for sus- from his guns, a horde of overfed barpecting the writer of depreciating his barians, enervated by sloth and narcountrymen's achievements, and un- cotics, and total strangers to the derstating their merits. The account tactics of civilised warfare, the marof the battle, or rather of the chase, shal was created a duke! Shade of for fighting there was none, is given Napoleon! whether proudly lingering by a deserter from the Spahis, who, within the trophy-clad walls of the
The Moors smoke the leaves of hemp instead of tobacco. This keef, as it is called, easily intoxicates, and renders the head giddy. Abd-el-Kader forbade the use of it, and if one of his soldiers was caught smoking keef, he received the bastinado. Captivité d'Escoffer, vol. i. p. 221.
Invalides, or passing in spectral re- give an unfavourable notion of his view the dead of Austerlitz and Boro- heart, to those who do not accept our dino, suspend your lonely walk, curb lenient interpretation of his coldyour shadowy charger, and contem- blooded style. The traits he sets down, plate this pitiable spectacle ! You, and which are no more than will be too, gave dukedoms, and lavished found in many French narratives, even crowns, but you gave them for despatches, and bulletins, show how services worth the naming. Ney and well the Franco-African army carry the Moskwa, Massena and Essling, out the merciful maxims of Bugeaud. Lannes and Montebello, are words Mr Borrer, a geographer and antithat bear the coupling, and grace a quary, passed seventeen months in coronet. The names of the places, Algeria ; and during his residence although all three recall brilliant vic- there, in May 1846, a column of eight tories, are far less glorious in their thousand French troops, commanded associations than the names of the by the Duke of Isly in person, marched men. But Bugeaud and Isly! against the Kabyles," that mysteri. What can we say of them? Truly, ous, bare-headed, leathern - aproned thus much-they, too, are worthy of race, whose chief accomplishment was each other.
said to be that of being crack-shots,' When reviewing, about two years their chief art that of neatly roasting ago, Captain Kennedy's narrative of their prisoners alive, and their chief travel and adventure in Algeria, virtue that of loving their homes." It we regretted he did not speak out may interest the reader to hear a raabout the mode of carrying on the thermore explicit account of this singuwar, and about the prospects of Alge- lar people, who dwell in the mountains rine colonisation; and we hinted a that traverse Algeria from Tunis to suspicion that the amenities of French Morocco-an irregular domain, whose military hospitality, largely extended limits it is difficult exactly to define in to a British fellow-soldier, had in- words. The Kabyles are, in fact, the duced him, if not exactly to cloak, at highlanders of North Africa, and they least to shun laying bare, the errors hold themselves aloof from the Arabs and mishaps of his entertainers. We and Europeans that surround them. cannot make the same complaint of concerning them, we find some diverthe very pretty book, rich in vig. sity in the statements of Mr Borrer, nettes and cream-colour, entitled, and of an anonymous Colonist, twelve A Campaign in the Kabylie. Mr years resident at Bougie, whose pamBorrer, whom the Cockneys, contemp- phlet is before us. Of the two, the tuous of terminations, will assuredly Frenchman gives them the best charconfound with his great gipsy cotem- acter, but both agree as to their porary, George Borrow of the Bible, industry and intelligence, their fruhas, like Captain Kennedy, dipped gality and skill in agriculture. They his spoon in French messes. He are not nomadic like the Arabs, but has ridden with their regiments, and live in villages, till the land, and tend sat at their board, and been quartered flocks. Dwelling in the mountains, with their officers, and received kind- they have few horses, and fight chiefly ness and good treatment on all hands; on foot. Divided into many tribes, and therefore any thing that could they are constantly quarreling and be construed into malicious comment fighting amongst themselves, but they would come with an ill grace from his forget their feuds and quickly unite to pen. But it were exaggerated deli- repel a foreign foe. Predisposed by cacy to abstain from stating faets, his character," says the Colonist, " to and these he gives in all their naked- draw near to civilisation, the Kabyle Dess; generally, however, allowing attaches himself sincerely to the civithem to speak for themselves, and lised man when circumstances estabadding little in the way of remark or lish a friendly connexion between them. opinion. In pursuance of this system, He is still inclined to certain vices he relates the most horrible instances inherent in the savage ; but of all the of outrage and cruelty with a matter- Africans, he is the best disposed to live of-fact coolness, and an absence alike in friendship and harmony with us, of blame and sympathy, that may which he will do when he shall find
himself in permanent contact with the Desjobert, and a variety of pamphletEuropean population.” This is not eers and newspaper writers, attacked, the general opinion, and it differs with argument, ridicule, and statistics, widely from that expressed by Mr the party known as the Algérophiles, Borrer. But the Colonist had his own who made light of difficulties, scoffed views, perhaps his own interests, to at expense, and predicted the prosfurther. He wrote some months pre- perity and splendour of French Africa. vious to the expedition which Mr Algeria, according to them, was to Borrer accompanied, and which was become the brightest gem in the citithen not likely to take place, and he zen-crown of France.
These sanstrongly advocated its propriety-ad- guine gentlemen were met with facts mitting, however, that public opinion and figures. During 1846, said the in France was greatly opposed to a anti-Algerines, your precious colony military incursion into Kabylia. Him- will have cost France 125,000,000 of self established at Bougie, of course francs. And they proved it in black in some description of commerce, the and wbite. There was little chance necessity of roads connecting the coast of the expense being less in following and the interior was to him quite years. Then came the loss of men. evident. A good many of his coun- În 1840, said M. Desjobert, giving trymen, whose personal benefit was chapter and verse for his statements, not so likely to be promoted by cause- 9567 men perished in the African way-cutting in Algeria, strongly de- hospitals, out of an effective army of precated any sort of road-making that 63,000. Add those invalids who died was likely to bring on war with the in French hospitals, or in their Kabyles. France began to think she homes, from the results of African was paying too dear for her whistle. campaigning, and the total loss is She looked back to the early days of moderately stated at 11,000 men, or the Orleans dynasty, when Marshal more than one-sixth of the whole Clausel promised to found a rich and force employed. Out of these, only powerful colony with only 10,000 227 died in action. The thing seemed
She glanced at the pages of hopeless and endless. What do we the Moniteur of 1837, and there she get' for our money ? was the cry. found words uttered by the great What is our compensation for the Bugeaud in the Chamber of Deputies. decimation of our young men ? “Forty-five thousand men and one France can better employ her sons, good campaign," said the white-headed than in sending them to perish by warrior, as the Arabs call bim, " and African fevers. What do we gain by in six months the country is pacified, all this expenditure of gold and and you may reduce the army to blood ?-The unreasonable mortals ! twenty thousand men, to be paid by Had they not gained a Duke of Isly imposts levied on the colony, con- and a Moorish pavilion ? M. Dessequently costing France nothing." jobert surely forgets these inestimable Words, and nothing more—mere wind; acquisitions when he asks and anthe greatest bosh that ever was uttered, swers the question—" What remains even by Bugeaud, who is proverbial of all our victories? A thousand bulfor dealing largely in that flatulent letins, and Horace Vernet's big piccommodity. Nine years passed away, tures." and the Commission of the Budget “ How many times," says the same “ deplored a situation which com- writer, “has not the subjection of the pelled France to maintain an army of Arabs been proclaimed! In 1844, more than 100,000 men upon ihat General Bugeaud gains the battle of African territory.” (Report of M. Isly. Are the Arabs subdued ? Bignon of the 15th April 1846, p. • When the Arabs appear before 237.) Bugeaud himself had mightily the judges who dispose of life and changed his tone, and declared that, to death, they confess their faith, and keep Algiers, as large an army would proclaim their hatred of us; and be essential as had been required to when we are simple enough to tell conquer it. Lamoricière, a great them that some of their race are deauthority in such matters, confirmed voted to us, they reply, “Those lie the opinion of his senior. Monsieur to you, through fear, or for their own