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THE INHABITANTS OF ALGIERS
ter, through alleys so narrow that when a donkey and
man met each other the more gentle of the two would back down to the nearest doorway and let the other pass, is a novel experience. The streets and shops are full of men and boys, and an occasional woman closely veiled is seen, but the city is predominated, so far as the streets are concerned, by men.
In his “Fantasy of Mediterranean Travel," S. G. Bayne has given this view of the inhabitants of Algiers, in most of which sentiments all travelers can heartily concur: “This people is made up of many breeds. We saw thin, bandy-legged Arabs; fat, burly Turks; ramrod-like Bedouins; Kalougis with a complexion suggesting sole leather; Greeks with frilled petticoats; Romans, of course, with the toga; Kabeles with black hair and wearing a robe with a big gasbag; Moors with the duke's nose and spindle shanks; Mohammedans carrying bannocks with holes in them; and dragomen with 'bakshish' stamped on every department of their anatomy. But beneath the furtive glance and in the wicked eyes you see the cutthroat still lurking, awaiting the first opportunity to embark again in the trade that is close to their hearts, although the only active pirates here now are car-drivers. Every breed has its own outlandish costume, with a large range of startling colors in robes, turbans and slippers, but their shanks are bare, thin and brick red, an easy mark for flies.
A considerable percentage of their time is devoted to stamping their feet to shake off these pests, which somehow do not seem to know they are not wanted and keep the lazy rascals busy, thus preventing them from devoting the entire day to sleep and the worship of Allah. To round out the picture we must not forget the French Zouave Regiment—fine-looking men, with their elaborately frogged jackets, and trousers like big red bags, large enough to make balloons if filled with gas, and the whole topped off with a scarlet ‘swagger' fez with a tassel hanging down to the waist.”
When the Romans conquered Algeria the country, according to Pliny, was a valuable possession. In the fifth century of the Christian era the Vandals secured the country and the Arabs two hundred years later. For five centuries the princes of Arab blood made the northwestern coast of Africa the dread of every Mediterranean vessel. It is neither poetry nor proverb, but actual truth expressed in simple prose, to say that these pirates were “friends to the sea and enemies to all that sailed thereon.” Spain tried her hand. She paid a dear price for her temerity. France sent a fleet, but the chivalry of the empire followed the fate of Spain's brave men and the Knights of Malta who assisted them. The Algerians swept the coast of France with fire and sword, and Louis XIV. laid Algiers in ashes, but still piracy did not cease.
It remained for an American to stop the scourge of the Mediterranean. In June, 1815, Commodore Decatur forced the Dey at Algiers to release all Ameri
cans held in slavery. It had been customary to demand a ransom of $3,000 for captured Americans. As late as 1812 the United States paid $22,000 in tribute in a single year. When Commodore Decatur appeared in the harbor with the American fleet the Dey, realizing that the city was in danger of destruction, promised to make an exception in the case of America and not exact further tribute, but the wily Algerian asked as a special favor that in order not to lose prestige with other nations he might receive an annual gift of some powder. To this request the Commodore replied:
“If the Dey takes the powder he must take the balls, too.??
This was getting too much for his bargain, and American powder has not been exacted since that time.
In the following year, 1816, the English Parliament took steps to make the African States recognize the law of nations, and 12,000 Christian slaves were released. Not long after that Algeria became a French colony. It now boasts of a
It now boasts of a population of about 5,000,000 people, about 150,000 of whom live in Algiers and its suburbs, and two-thirds of this number are Europeans. . When one reaches the harbor he sees the mole of the penon, which was formerly a Spanish fort connected with the mainland by a stone breakwater, which it is said it took 30,000 Christian slaves three years to build.
The palace of Mustapha Pasha is a fine example of
NOVEL FORM OF MARTYRDOM
Moorish architecture, and is now used as a public library and museum. In it one sees many fine specimens of tiles and tapestries and statues recovered from ruined cities. One of the most attractive objects of
. interest is a plaster cast of the Christian martyr Geronimo writhing in death. Writers tell us that he was put alive into a block of concrete, which was afterward built into a wall of a fort. Fifty years later a Spanish writer named Hædo described the martyrdom in a book on Algeria, and while he located the exact place where the concrete block could be found, the story was believed to have little or no foundation. In 1853, when the walls of this particular fort were torn down, the block was found in the exact spot mentioned, and contained a perfect mold of the martyr's face and figure, showing even the cords with which his hands and feet had been bound. By filling the cavity with plaster-of-Paris the model was prepared which is now shown in the museum.
It is of interest to recall that Africa and not Rome gave rise to the development of Western Christianity. Tertullian, in the second century, Cyprian in the third, and Augustine in the fourth, among the stalwart leaders of the early Church, all belonged to Northern Africa, and the oldest Latin translation of the Bible, upon which Jerome founded his Vulgate Version, was made in Africa. The theology which claims Tertullian as its father and Augustine as its crowning glory was born on the southern and not the northern