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not, but through fear, give a single bullock to save the British navy from starving, they must remain in slavery, and carry disgraceful ideas of the British nation into the mind of every one who hears of their situation." p. 77, 78.
Bating the "bitter draught" of slavery itself, the wretchedness of exile, and the shameful usage which both sexes sometimes experience, the working and domestic slaves at Tunis are not, upon the whole, particularly ill-treated. More than usual, it is said, have lately renegaded, especially among the subjects of the Sicilian king. The French, much to their credit, have procured the release of every slave, subject to the countries which have fallen under their power. No wonder, then, if the Sicilians be ready to welcome those on their island, by whom their parents, brothers, husbands, wives, and children, may once more be restored to their native land!'
The regular revenues of the Bey, besides extortion from the rich while living, the almost universal seizure of their property. when they die, and the profits upon his mercantile pursuits, are not supposed to exceed six millions of piasters; they arise from tithes of oil, grain, &c. the sale of licences for the exportation of those articles, and the importation of wine and spirits; the customs annually let by auction; the sale of monopolies, and places; a tax on the Jews; and the sale of slaves. A considerable treasure is supposed to be accumulated, but the expenditure is thought, of late, to have exceeded the revenue.
In describing the customs and prejudices of the Moors, Mr. M. mentions that extensively prevailing sentiment, the dread of the envious or "evil eye," of which a particular account will be found in our review of Mr. Thornton's Travels.* He also mentions the apprehension of fatal consequences from sitting thirteen at table. They have a traditionary prophecy, that their country will be conquered on a Friday at the noon-time of prayer, by a people dressed in red, which they sometimes apprehend, and Mr. Macgill cordially hopes, will be the English; at that hour, therefore, the gates of their cities are constantly kept locked. Their Arabian faith is a good deal tinctured with heathenism.
« Previously to the marching of their armies, the astrologers of the country are employed to watch the rising of a particular star. Should it rise clear, they augur good, discharge their artillery, and plant the standard, round which their camp is to be formed; but should the star, rise obscured by clouds, or by a fog, they reckon the omen to be evil, and defer the planting of the standard until another day. When the camp breaks up, which is formed near the Bey's palace, where every thing is prepared for the march; a pair of black bulls are sacrificed
Vol M. p. 770.
as the commander passes. After this, victory is expected to crown his endeavours: and the "loo-loo-loo," of the spectators proves that their good wishes accompany their friends." p. 87, 88.
It is extraordinary that Mr. Macgill should not know that this is the name of " Alla," repeated with great rapidity.
"The Moors (he says) appear to be less jealous of their wives than the Turks are. In Turkey, the fair sex are guarded by eunuchs; in Tunis, they have none, nor can the women be said to be guarded at all. They are served by Christian slaves, and, which is curious, they fear less to be seen by Christians than by Mussulmans. It is quite uncommon for a Moorish lady to cover herself, either before a Christian slave or a Jew. Does this arise from the contempt with which Christian slaves and Jews are considered?". p. 89.
"A plurality of wives is allowed in Barbary, as well as in all Mahometan countries. A man here may possess four wives, and as many concubines as he can maintain. It seldom happens, however, that a Moor has more than two wives at the same time; but the ceremony of divorcing them is so simple, that he may change as often as he finds it convenient." p. 91.
"The Moors show great respect to their dead relations. On holidays, they are to be seen praying at their tombs, which are kept clean and white-washed; and any infidel who should dare to pass over them, would certainly suffer a severe punishment from the enraged enthu siasts. Their tombs are not adorned with the solemn cypress, like those of the Mahometans in Turkey; but small temples for prayer are often built over them.
"In Barbary, the fine arts are totally abandoned; and like all other ignorant Mahometans, the Moors seek to destroy every vestige of ancient grandeur which remains in their country. Every piece of fine marble which they find in any way wrought, is broken to pieces by them; as they judge from its great weight, that it may contain money. Statues or reliefs, seldom escape mutilation from the same idea, and also from their abhorrence of idolatry; to which purpose they imagine the statues may have originally been appropriated. They have no paintings in their houses; and the extreme jealousy of the government, renders it unsafe for any one to paint openly in the country.
"Their music is of the most barbarous kind. The braying of an ass is sweeter than their softest note, whether vocal or instrumental.” p. 91, 92.
The following custom is one of the most whimsical instances of human caprice that we ever met with.
"The Tunisines have curious custom of fattening up their young ladies for marriage. A girl after she is betrothed, is cooped in a small room. Shackles of silver and gold are put upon her ankles and wrists, as a piece of dress. If she is to be married to a man who has discharged, despatched, or lost a former wife, the shackles which the former wife wore, are put upon the new bride's limbs; and she is fed
until they are filled up to the proper thickness. This is sometimes no easy matter; particularly if the former wife was fat, and the present should be of a slender form. The food used for this custon), worthy of barbarians, is a seed called drough; which is of an extraordinary fattening quality, and also famous for rendering the milk of nurses rich and abundant. With this seed and their national dish "cuscusu,” the bride is literally crammed, and many actually die under the spoon."
The politics of Tunis, as of most other places, are affected by two predominant and rival interests, the English and French: the latter, ever since the revolution, is said to be on the decline. No art is omitted, on the part of the French government, to sustain and strengthen it; and among these, a splendid account of the achievements of Bonaparte, has been printed in the Turkish language, and circulated with great industry; but according to Mr. M. it has not obtained much credit. The maritime superiority of the English, their good faith, the necessity of resorting to Malta for the sale of Tunisine produce and the purchase of all sorts of supplies, and the steady, discreet conduct of the present consul, are stated to have rendered the English interest more powerful than at any preceding period, and decidedly superior to that of any other power. Mr. Macgill's recommendation, to adopt a bolder and more manly policy, in negociating with these petty barbarians, and to establish the consulate on a more extended and respectable footing, has the concurrence of several other writers, and appears highly worthy of attention. The transactions of Great Britain, in this respect, have proved how difficult it is for a commercial nation not to be mean. Since the trade of Tunis has been chiefly carried on with Malta, our people find great benefit from the terms of their treaty, which allows them to import goods from any country under any flag, at a trifling duty of 3 per cent. on the nominal or tariff value, while the French pay 8 per cent. on what they import under any flag, or from any country but their own. A copy of the British tariff is inserted in the volume. The trade of the Barbary states has. greatly declined; but that of Tunis is the most flourishing. The causes Mr. M. discovers for this decline, are the insecurity of property under a tyrannical and unprincipled government, the granting monopolies, and the interference of the prince himself, and his creatures, in the mercantile pursuits. These circumstances must certainly have checked the increase of the trade; but, as they have been long in operation, they can hardly be said to have occasioned its decline, which may more naturally be attributed to the destruction of French commerce by the war. The Bey has had the wisdom, after the example of more enlightened countries, to prohibit the exportation of corn for the purpose of preventing famine; in other words to discourage its growth.
Mr. Macgill has put together some useful information respecting the currency, weights, and measures of Tunis, as compared with those of other countries. The Spanish dollar is worth at par 31 Tunisine piasters. The principal exports are corn, oil, wool, hides, wax, dates, senna, madder, coral, a small quantity of excellent oil of roses, some ostrich feathers, and the manufactures of woolen stuffs, morocco leather, soap, and the noted crimson caps-which are made on a peculiar plan which Mr. M. describes-are composed chiefly of Spanish wool-and ornamented with a tassel of blue silk. The shepherds, in some parts, drive about their flocks for some days previous to the shearing, so as to load the fleece with sand, and almost double its apparent weight! The export of woolens is chiefly to Turkey and the Levant. Some valuable instructions are given to traders, relative to the articles of import most in request at Tunis, and the mode of supplying them to advantage. In spite of Mahamed, 1000 pipes of wine are annually drank in that capital; the Bey grants his tascare or licence for the introduction of it, under the pretence of its being vinegar.
We hardly need add any commendation of this respectable little book. If it had been rather more extended, by illustrations of the domestic habits and political erudition of the Tunisines, it would have been still more valuable; and possibly Mr. Macgill may possess materials to avail himself of this hint, in case a second edition should be required.
FROM THE LITERARY PANORAMA.
Childe Harold's Pilgrimage-a Romaunt, by Lord Byron. 4to. Murray,
WHATEVER gratuitous bays formerly bound the temples of a man of rank and influence who condescended to court the Muses, it cannot be said that, in latter times, noble authors have been much indulged with unearned wreaths. From the days of Pope, it has been the fashion to identify inanity of composition with the very sound of a title. That irritable satirist having ridiculed the attempts of a weak man of fashion, and stamped the character with an effeminate name, Paul Whitehead, the feeble imitator of Pope's measure and manner, and after him others, generalized the poison of the satire; and, to be nobly born, was quite enough to exclude a writer from Parnassus. Whether this illiberal sentiment, diffused throughout the writings of petty critics and minor poets, has had any effect in smothering poetical genius among the nobility, or whether the all-absorbing vortex of politics to
which youth destined to public life, are directed, weakens at once that desire and the power of ascending the sacred hill, it is a fact that the last century has scarcely produced a titled poet, whose works are likely to interest posterity. As statemen, political writers, and literary men, there have not been wanting in that period, distinguished characters among the nobility; but, with the exception of George, Lord Lyttelton, we distinguish no poet. When the noble author of the poem before us, yielding to the laudable ambition of becoming a successful votary of the Muses, ventured, while yet a boy, to put forth his tender leaves of hope, and published his primitia,* he was assailed on every side. Some of the Reviewers were not content with attacking his Juvenile poems: they rummaged the receptacles of calumny, converted youthful eccentricity, into grave error, personally abused, and insultingly advised him. He that is born a poet, far from being overwhelmed by such attacks, rises the stronger from the opposition. It has been the lot of the loftiest names in the Temple of Fame. Lord B. did not treat these trite insults with silent contempt: while his volume of poems which had drawn them upon him, was going through a second edition, he prepared his revenge, and, before he was of age to take his seat in the House of Peers, he published a Satire on the Poetasters and Reviewers of the day, of which the lash possesses a keenness, and the versification a nerve not surpassed, and rarely equalled, since the day of Pope. That work being noticed in a former number of the PANORAMA, when it first appeared, we shall not here repeat our opinion of it.t It has gone through many editions, and is very generally known.
We have risen from the perusal of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage,' delighted, and confirmed in our opinion, that Lord B. is a genuine poet of the highest order. In declaring this, however, we do not mean to say, that the poem now under consideration, is regular and perfect; but, that it manifests the writer's genius to be equal to any poetical task on which he may think proper to employ his time and talents.
The author entitles his poem a Romaunt consistently with the measure, (Spencer's) and with the phraseology which he has thought proper to adopt, but to which his matter can scarcely be allowed to give it a right. A Romaunt, or Romance, requires fictitious characters, conducted through a progress of wild adventures: it deals in involvements and extrications, in vivid passions, in alternate joy and wo: in short, it is a tale in verse, a species of composition, the taste of former times, neglected in the brilliant era of poetry, but which has lately been very much in vogue. This is not the character of Lord B's poem. He has, indeed,
Compare Panorama, Vol. III. p. 273. Vol. XI. [Lit. Pan. March 1812.]