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FROM EGYPT TO SYRIA.
Departure from Egypt-Course of the Romulus frigate, in her Voyage to St. John d'Acre-Djezzar Pacha-Importance of the Port of Acre-Druses-Interview with Djezzar—its ConsequencesClimate of Acre-Shores of the Mediterra** *mean-Present State of the City-its former Condition-Remains of ancient Buildings-Medals of Acre and of Sidon— Attack upon the Long Boat of the Romulus-Appeal to the Pacha-his Conduct upon that occasion—Further interview with Djezzar-Commerce of Acre.
POON Wednesday morning, June 24th, the Romulus having made the signal for sailing, we left the Braakel, and were received by Captain Culverhouse upon his quarter deck, at eleven o'clock. At half past eleven the ship's crew weighed anchor. At twelve, the island of Aboukir, or Nelson's island, bore west, distant five miles.* Our observation of latitude at that time was 31° 26', the ship's course being northeast, and the wind northwest and by north. An officer, Mr. Paul, came on board from the Foudroyant, as second lieutenant of the Romulus. At three, P. M. the point of Rosetta bore southwest and by south, distant five leagues. At six, cape Brule bore south of us, distant five leagues; the Romulus steering east and half north. This day we sailed, upon the average, about seven miles an hour. At noon, Fahrenheit's thermometer indicated 78°.
Thursday, June the 25th. It had been calm all night. About eight A. M. a light breeze sprung up from the E. s. E. and we 10were compelled to steer s. s. W. south, and s. s. E. until twelve o'clock. Then found our latitude to be 31° 43'. Nothing more occurred worth notice this day.
Friday, June the 26th. At ten this morning a strange sail appeared, bearing s. E. and by south; the Romulus then steering east, and half south. At eleven, bore up, and made sail toward her. Ship's latitude at noon 31° 48'. At half past
For the sake of greater precision, the author has detailed the observations as taken from the ship's logbook. The navigation of this part of the Mediterranean being little known, these may, perhaps, not be without utility.
one fired, a gun, and brought to the strange vessel. At twó o'clock boarded her. She proved to be a Turkish brig from Gaza bound to Damiata, with ammunition, &c. for the Turkish army. At half past two dismissed her, and bore up again.
Saturday, June the 27th. At five this morning discerned the haze over the coast of Syria, and at seven A. M. made the land from the mast head, bearing east and by south. At eight, light breezes and clear weather; observed two strange sail bearing s. E. At noon, saw the town of Jaffa, bearing east, distant five or six miles. Latitude observed, 31o 59'. Found no bottom in seventy-five fathoms water. At one P. M. the extremes of the land visible bore N. E. and by north, and s. w. and by south. At five, Jaffa lay to the s. E. distant four leagues and a half. At half past seven the northernmost extremity of the land bore N. E. half east, distant seven leagues.
Sunday, June the 28th. At half past five this morning saw the land in the s. E. quarter. At ten made the coast more distinctly. At noon, the extremes visible bore northeast and south. A sail appeared close in with the shore. Latitude 32° 40'. At sun set, observed the point of mount Carmel, called cape Carmel, bearing east by south, half south, distant six leagues. Also cape Blanco,* bearing north; the extremes of the land being northeast and south. Stood off and on all
Monday, June the 29th. At six A. M. cape Carmel bore s. E. by east, distant only four leagues. At half past eight, a calm; let down the boats to tow the ship ahead. Sent the jolly boat and master to take the soundings. At half past nine, a. M. came to anchor in the bay of Acre, in five fathoms water; cape Carmel bearing s. w. and by south, and the town of Acre, north. Fired a salute of twenty-one guns, which was returned from the fort in a most irregular manner. At noon, got out the launch, and moored with the current to the northeast. Coming into the bay, we found a shoal; soundings varying instantly from eleven to five fathoms. The town of Caipha s. w. and by south, distaut five miles; cape Blanco N. N. E.; and the centre of the town of Acre, N. E. by south.
Soon after we arrived, we went ou shore with the captain, to visit Djezzar Pacha, whom Baron de Tott found at Acre,
A part of Mount Libanus.
and described as a horrible tyrant* about twenty years prior to our coming. Having acted as interpreter for Captain Culverhouse, in all his interviews with this extraordinary man, and occasionally as his confidential agent, when he was not himself present, I had favourable opportunities of studying Djezzar's character. At that time, shut up in his fortress at Acre, he defied the whole power of Turkey, despised the Vizier, and derided the menaces of the Capudan Pacha: although he always affected to venerate the title and the authority of the Sultan. His mere nanie carried terror with it over all the Holy Land, the most lawless tribes of Arabs expressing their awe and obeisance, whensoever it was uttered. As for his appellation, Djezzar, as explained by himself, it signified butcher ; but of this name, notwithstanding its avowed allusion to the slaughters committed by him, he was evidently vain. He was his own minister, chancellor, treasurer and secretary; often his own cook and gardener; and not unfrequently both judge and executioner in the same instant. Yet there were persons who had acted, and still occasionally officiated, in these several capacities, standing by the door of his apartment; some without a nose, others without an arm, with one ear only, or one eye;
marked men," as he termed them; persous bearing signs of their having been instructed to serve their master with fidelity. Through such an assemblage we were conducted to the door of a small chamber, in a lofty part of his castle, overlooking the port. A Jew, who had been his private secretary, met us, and desired us to wait in an open court or garden before this door, until Djezzar was informed of our coming. This man, for some breach of trust, had been deprived of an ear and an eye at the same time. At one period of the pacha's life, having reason to suspect the fidelity of his wives, he put seven of them to death with his own hands. It was after his return from a pilgrimage to Mecca; the Janissaries, during his absence, having obtained access to the charem. If his history be ever written, it will have all the air of a romance. His real name is Achmed. He was a native of Bosnia, and speaks the Sclavonian language better than any other. It is impossible to give
* De Tott says, that he immured alive a number of persons of the Greek communion, when he rebuilt the walls of Berytus, now called Berooty, to defend it from the invasion of the Russians. The heads of those unfortunate victims were then to be seen. Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 316. ed. Lond. 1785.
† Many wretched objects, similarly disfigured, might be observed daily in the streets of Acre.
even a detail of his numerous adventures here. At an carly period of his life, he sold himself to a slave merchant in Constantinople; and being purchased by Ali Bey, in Egypt, he rose from the humble situation of a Mamluke slave, to the post of governor of Cairo. In this situation, he distinguished him. self by the most rigorous execution of justice, and realized the stories related of oriental caliphs, by mingling, in disguise, with the inhabitants of the city, and thus making himself master of all that was said concerning himself, or transacted by his officers.* The interior of his mysterious palace, inhabited by his women, or, to use the oriental niode of expression, the charem of his seraglio, is accessible only by himself. Early in every evening he regularly retired to this place, through three massive doors, every one of which he closed and barred with his own hands. To have knocked at the outer door after he had retired, or even to enter the seraglio, was an offence that would have been punished with death. No person in Acre knew the number of his women, but from the circumstance of a certain number of covers being daily placed in a kind of wheel or turning cylin der, so contrived as to convey dishes to the interior, without any possibility of observing the person who received them.f He had from time to time received presents of female slaves; these had been sent into his charem, but, afterward, whether they were alive or dead, no one knew except himself. They entered never to go out again; and, thus immured, were cut off from all knowledge of the world, except what he thought proper to communicate. If any of them were ill, he brought a physician to a hole in the wall of the charem, through which the sick person was allowed to thrust her arm; the pacha himself holding the hand of the physician during the time her pulse was examined. If any of them died, the event was kept as secret as when he massacred them with his own hands; and this, it was said, he had done in more than one instance. Such stories are easily propagated, and as readily believed; and it is proba
Djezzar himself; together with the He has generally been known only Volney described his pachalic, in interior parts of Syria. (See Trav. in
*The author received this information from fact of his having been once governor of Caïro. from his situation as pacha of Seïde and Acre. 1784, as the emporium of Damascus and all the Egypt and Syria, vol. ii. p. 181. Lond. 1787) The gates of his frontier towns had regular guards (Ibid. p. 183.) His cavalry amounted to nine hundred Bosnian and Arnaut horsemen. By sea, he had a frigate, two galiots, and a xebeck. His revenue amounted to four hundred thousand pounds. (Ibid. p. 182.) His expenses were principally confined to his gardens, his baths, and his women. In his old age he grew
† He possessed eighteen white women in 1784; and the luxury allowed them, according to Volney, was most enormous. (Ibid. p. 269.) This may be doubted; extravagance of any kind, except in cruelty, being inconsistent with Djezzar's character.
ble that many of them are without foundation. We must however admit the truth of the terrible examples he made after his return from Mecca, in consequence of the infidelity of his women. From all the information we could obtain, he considered the female tenants of his charem as the children of his family. When he retired, he carried with him a number of watcha papers he had amused himself by cutting with scissars during the day, as toys to distribute among them; neither could there be any possible motive of cruelty, even in the worst of tyrants, toward such defenceless victims. He was above sixty years old at the time of our arrival, but vain of the vigour he still retained at that advanced age. He frequently boasted of his extraordinary strength; and used to bare his arm, in order to exhibit his brawny muscles. Sometimes, in conversation with strangers, he would suddenly leap upright from his seat, to show his activity. He has been improperly considered as Pacha of Acre. His real pachalic was that of Seïde, anciently called Sidon; but, at the time of our arrival, he was also Lord of Damascus, of Berytus, Tyre, and Sidon; and, with the exception of a revolt among the Druses, might be considered master of all Syria. The seat of government was removed to Acre, ou account of its port, which has been at all times the key to Palestine. The port of Acre is bad: but is better than any other along the coast. That of Seide is very insecure, and the barbour of Jaffa worse than any of the others. The possession of Acre extended his influence even to Jerusalem. It enables its possessor to shut up the country, and keep its inhabitants in subjection. All the rice, which is the staple food of the people, enters by this avenue; the Lord of Acre may, if so it pleases him, cause a famine to be felt even over all Syria. Here then we have a clue to the operations of the French, in this, as well as in every other part of the world. They directed every effort toward the possession of Acre, because it placed the food of all the inhabitants of this country in their power, and, consequently, its entire dominion. It is a principle of policy, which even Djezzar Pacha, with his propensity for truisms, would have deemed it superfluous to insist upon, that the key of a public granary is the mightiest engine of military operation. Hence we find Acre to have been the last place from which the christians were expelled in the Holy Land; and hence its tranquil possession, notwithstanding the insignificant figure it makes in the map of this great continent, is of more importance than the greatest armies, under the most victorious leader, ever