Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

NO. VII.-SATURDAY, APRIL 4, 1807.

LETTER

FROM MUSTAPHA RUB-A-DUB KELI KHAN,

to Asem Hacchem, principal slave-driver to his

highness the bashaw of Tripoli.

I promised in a former letter, good Asem, that I would furnish thee with a few hints respecting the nature of the government by which I am held in durance. Though my inquiries for that purpose have been industrious, yet I am not per fectly satisfied with their results; for thou mayest casily imagine that the vision of a captive is overshadowed by the mists of illusion and prejudice, and the horizon of his speculations must be limited indeed. I find that the people of this country are strangely at a loss to determine the nature and proper character of their government. Even their dervises are extremely in the dark as to this

particular, and are continually indulging in the most preposterous disquisitions on the subject; some have insisted that it sayors of an aristocracy; others maintain that it is a pure democracy ; and a third set of theorists declare absolutely that it is nothing more nor less than a mobocracy, The latter, I must confess, though still wide in error, have come nearest to the truth. You of course must understand the meaning of these different words, as they are derived from the ancient greek language and bespeak loudly the verbal poverty of these poor infidels who cannot utter a learned phrase without laying the dead languages under contribution. A man, my dear Asem, who talks good sense in his native tongue, is held in tolerable estimation in this country; but a fool, who clothes his feeble - ideas in a foreign or antique garb, is bowed down to as a literary prodigy. While I conyersed with these people in plain english ; I was but little attended to; but the moment I prosed away in greek, every one looked up to me with veneration as an oracle.

Although the dervises differ widely in the particulars above-mentioned, yet they all agree in torming their goverment one of the most pacific in the known world. I cannot help pitying their ignorance and smiling, at times, to see into what

ridiculous errors those nations will wander who are unenlightened by the precepts of Mahomet, qur divine prophet, and uninstructed by the five hundred and forty-nine books of wisdom of the immortal Ibrahim Hassan al Fusti. To call this nation pacific ! most preposterous ! it reminds me of the title assumed by the sheck of that murderous tribe of wild arabs, that desolate the valleys of Belsaden, who styles himself star OF COURTESYBEAM OF THE MERCY SEAT !

The simple truth of the matter is, that these people are totally ignorant of their own true character; for, according to the best of my observation, they are the most warlike, and I must say, the most savage nation that I have as yet discovered among all the barbarians. They are not only at war, in their own way, with almost every nation on earth, but they are at the same time engaged in the most complicated knot of civil wars that ever infested any poor unhappy country on which ALLA has denounced his malediction !

To let thee at once into a secret, which is unknown to these people themselves, their government is a pure unadulterated LOGOCRACY, or government of words. The whole nation does every thing viva voce, or by word of mouth ; and in this manner is one of the most military nations in ex

from his wearing red breeches. It is true the nation have long held that color in great detestation, in consequence of a dispute they had some twenty years since with the barbarians of the british islands. The color, however, is again rising into fayor, as the ladies have transferred it to their heads from the bashaw's body. The true reason, I am told, is, that the bashaw absolutely refuses to believe in the deluge, and in the story of Balaam's ass ;-maintaining that this animal was never yet permitted to talk except in a genuine logocracy; where, it is true, his voice may often be heard, and is listened to with reverence, as “the voice of the sovereign people.” Nay, so far did he carry his obstinacy, that he absolutely invited a professed antideluvian from the gallic empire, who illuminated the whole country with his principles and his nose. This was enough to set the nation in a blaze ;-every slang-whanger resorted to his tongue or his pen ; and for seven years have they carried on a most inhuman war, in which volumes of words have been expended, oceans of ink hare been shed ; nor has any mercy been shown to age, sex, or condition. Every day have these slangwhangers made furious attacks on each other, and upon their respective adherents ; discharging their heavy artillery, consisting of large sheets, loaded

[ocr errors]

with scoundrel! villain! liar! rascal! numskull! nincompoop! dunderhead! wiseacre ! blockhead! jackass ! and I do swear, by my beard, though I know thou wilt scarcely credit me, that in some of these skirmishes the grand bashaw himself has been wofully pelted! yea, most ignominiously pelted !-and yet have these talking desperadoes escaped without the bastidado!

Every now and then a slang-whanger, who has a longer head, or rather a longer tongue than the rest, will elevate his piece and discharge a shot quite across the ocean, levelled at the head of the emperor of France, the king of England, or, wouldst thou believe it, oh! Asem, even at his sublime highness the bashaw of Tripoli ! these long pieces are loaded with single ball, or langrage, as tyrant! usurper! robber ! tyger! monster! and thou mayest well suppose they occasion great distress and dismay in the camps of the enemy, and are marvellously annoying to the crowned heads at which they are directed. The slang-whanger, though perhaps the mere champion of a village, having fired off his shot, struts about with great self-congratulation, chuckling at the prodigious bustle he must have occasioned, and seems to ask of every stranger, “ well, sir, what do they think

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »