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over its beautiful bay; it is almost of a pyramidal form, very concentrated, and, with its flat and regular roofs, looks like a succession of white marble terraces, with here and there a swelling mosque dome, or a tapering minaret. This was the seat of Oriental luxury and art; but, when the greater robber drove out the lesser, its pleasant places were all defiled; the fountains were choked up, the porcelain floors were broken, the palm-trees cut down, and the gardens trampled into wildernesses. Richly did the land deserve a scourge, and never yet were found fitter ministers of wrath than those who visited it.
The French anchored in the bay in June, 1830, and landed their troops without resistance, some miles to the westward of the city. All the previous attacks having been made by sea, this landing was wholly unexpected. Having thrown up some batteries, commanding the town, and some entrance having been effected, the Dey capitulated, and the French entered Algiers on the 5th of July. Since then they have held it at the expense of ten thousand lives and about forty millions of francs annually, in return for which it does not pay one sou of revenue, and exhibits as much colonial appearance as a hollow square of infantry on the field of battle.
We showed our colors in passing, a compliment which the fort did not condescend to return, and then stood out to sea against a heavy gale of wind.*
We must hurry past Tunis and desolate Carthage, but "not in silence pass Calypso's isle." The appearance of this little paradise is far more suitable to its former than its present destination. It contains all the beauties of a continent in miniature: little mountains with craggy summits, little valleys with cascades and rivers, lawny meadows and dark woods, trim gardens and tangled vineyards, silvery sands and craggy shores, all within a circuit of five or six miles. In our eyes it was still the enchanted island, and in our ears the faint sounds that came to us over the sunny sea were of shepherd's lute or woman's
The reader will find some useful notions of Algiers in Wild's well-written "Narrative." Prince Pückler Muskau has given some amusing narrative and information on this subject. though the latter cannot be depended on, it may serve to direct inquiry.
song; but a fat gentleman in green spectacles called it Pantellaria, and declared it was the Botany Bay of Naples !
One or two uninhabited little islands, that seem to have lost their way, speck the sea between this pleasant penal settlement and Gozo, a rival claimant for the doubtful honor of Calypso's isle. Narrow straits separate this from the adjoining rock, which represents the island of Malta.
Adieu to Malta-and adieu,
Whom every sea, and clime, and shore,
AFTER a couple of hours' coasting, we entered a watery ravine of battery-crowned cliffs, and came to anchor in the Grand Harbor.
La Valetta is a sort of Hybrid between a Spanish and an Eastern town; most of its streets are flights of steps, to which the verandahs are like gigantic banisters. Its terraced roofs restore to the cooped-up citizens nearly all the space which was lost by building upon; and there are probably not less than five hundred acres of promenadable roof in, or rather on the city. The church of San Giovanni is very gorgeous, with its vaulted roof of gilded arabesque, its crimson tapestries, finely carved pulpits, and its floor, which seems one vast escutcheon. It is a mosaic of knightly tombs, on which the coats of arms are finely copied in colored marble and precious stones. The chapel of the Madonna in the Eastern aisle is guarded by massive silver rails, which escaped French rapacity through the cunning of a priest, who painted them wood-color. Amidst all this wealth and splendor, the proudest and most chivalric ornament of the cathedral is a bunch of old rusty irons, suspended on the crimson tapestry. They are the keys of Rhodes, which the Order, overcome, but unconquered, carried away with them from their ancient seat, the bulwark of Christendom.
The hotels of the different nations (or Tongues, as they were
called), are palaces that bear testimony to the taste and power of their former proprietors. The principal are the Auberges de Castile, and de Provence; and the palace of the Grand Master, now that of the British governor. The others are converted into barracks; and probably the costumes of their olden time did not differ more from one another than those of its present military occupants the dark green of the rifleman, the scarlet uniform of the 88th, and the varied garb of the Highlander, "all plaided and plumed in his tartan array." Every costume of Europe, Asia, and Africa, is to be met with in the streets, which swarm with the most motley and picturesque population. The brilliant sunshine gives an almost prismatic effect to every object, from the gorgeously clad Turk to the beautiful fish, streaked with every color in the rainbow; quantities of fruit and vegetables are ranged on tables along the pavé; and roguish-looking little children persecute you with flowers.
The principal dress of the natives is a bright blue cotton shirt, with a colored scarf round the waist, and a scarlet or blue cap hanging down behind, containing all their worldly goods. These last seemed to me to consist for the most part of a comb and a needle and thread. I speak of the poorer class, who generally sleep in the streets, and wear their clothes like their skins. They are a swarthy, stunted race, of very indifferent character, but with great vivacity and intelligence in their glistening eyes.
The population in both town and country abounds in a proportion eight times as great as that of England.* Being very frugal and industrious, they are just able to keep themselves alive at present; but what is to become of them a few years hence, Sir Patrick Stuart and Malthus only know. The celibacy enjoined to the knights produced its usual licentious results; and the Order bequeathed its morals to the present inhabitants-a legacy which does not tend to diminish their number.
Many of the women are very beautiful, combining the gazelle eye of the east with the rich tresses of the north, and the statuesque profile of Greece and Italy. Their peculiar head-dress, the onnella, contributes not a little to the effect of their beauty. This
* 130,000 within a circuit of sixty miles.
is a black silk scarf, worn over the head like a veil, but gathered in on one side, so as not to eclipse the starry eyes which it seems always endeavoring to cloud over. The old aristocracy, proud and poor, form a society among themselves, to which the English are seldom admitted. Nothing can be more melancholy-looking than the high-walled enclosures scattered over the island, in which they maintain their exclusiveness and morgue in not undignified poverty.
Valetta is the most warlike-looking town in the world; the glitter of uniforms is never out of your eyes, the blast of the bugle and the roll of the drum are never out of your ear. The citizens have their only walks upon ramparts, their drives along covered ways, and their very gardens are in the fosses; instead of curbstones there are old cannon; and, if you want to dismount, you tie your horse's bridle to an anchor. The Grand Harbor is crowded with stately ships of war, among which, gaily painted boats, with high prows quaintly carved, are perpetually darting.
After visiting the handsome and well-furnished library and the armory, I ascended one of the flat roofs, to obtain a view of the island. It is like a heap of limestones broken by the roadside for Macadamizing purposes, with here and there a bit of something green in their interstices; nevertheless, the islanders contrive to squeeze wine, and corn, and oil, out of the sticks and stones that here represent the trees and fields of other countries. After taking a bird's-eye view of the rock, I rode to Citta Vecchia, to inspect that ancient seat of the Order, and the neighboring catacombs. We passed over, and through fortifications of extraordinary strength, to form which, excavations have been made in the solid rock, that dwarf the boasted Catacombs of Rome. The pretty gardens of Florian partly shelter the open space between these and the outer line of fortifications.
Thence we passed through what would be the dreariest country I ever beheld, but for the brilliant sunshine always smiling over it. Scarcely a particle of vegetation shaded the brown, burning rock. Almost all the soil upon the island has been brought from Sicily, and is retained in little trays or shelves of terraces, built up with dull grey stones. We rode by the side