Journey to Larache - Annual Socco of St. Martin - No Christian permitted to witness it - Express Order for that Purpose in the Author's Favour - Specimen of native medical Skill - Reception at Larache - Complain of the Impositions of Governor Ash-Ash - Comparative Tariff - Effect the Renewal of the old Tariff with increasing Advantages.


Before I introduce you a second time to the Governor, or relate my reception from him, I must beg leave to give you a description of my journey hither. Methinks I hear you say, "That is unnecessary, as, no doubt, it was much the same as before." No such thing, I assure you; for, in the first place, my style of travelling was infinitely superior, being provided, by the Moorish Governor, with a double guard, and having also eleven mules allowed me to carry my baggage, which, with two muleteers, my interpreter, and servant, made no despicable appearance. I had, besides, to contend with very stormy weather, which gave the country quite a different aspect. From incessant rains, the rivers had overflowed, and nearly the whole of the country was under water, which rendered our journey not only difficult but dangerous. We were obliged to halt for two days, near a village, till the waters subsided; and during this time we feasted on fine fresh-water fish, and wild fowl. On the third day we proceeded; and here I must not omit an occurrence which served still further to give me an insight into the general character of this once powerful people.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, some would say, who weighed the perils I had to encounter in the accomplishment of my wishes) I passed, on the day the inhabitants were meeting, the annual Socco of St. Martin, so called from its being held at the place whence the river of that name takes its source. I did not pass immediately over the spot, but so near, that I could perceive a multitude of people assembled together. To obtain a better view of what they were about, notwithstanding the representations of my conductors, that no Christian was suffered to be present at this fair, I proceeded towards the crowd; but before I could reach the place, I was assailed by hundreds of people, who saluted me with such a discharge of stones, and even some fire-arms, that I was extremely glad to make good my retreat, which, with the aid of my guard, I effected, without sustaining any injury.

Enraged at being thus foiled in my attempt, I hit upon a plan the most likely to succeed in gratifying my curiosity; which was, to send the Serjeant to the Cadi, to insist upon going up to the fair, and threatening to complain to the Emperor if he refused me. This had the desired effect. A deputation was ordered by the Cadi, with assurances that I was welcome among them. Accordingly, I repaired once more, to the scene of action.

The great show of cattle, sheep, &c. exposed for public sale, by men and women half naked, first attracted my attention; which was however soon diverted from them to a Moorish juggler, and a rope-dancer, the latter performing several feats of great muscular strength. The people had formed a complete circle, sitting cross-legged round the rope-dancer. He was making a good collection, when the arrival of a celebrated tweeb (the native term for a physician) spoiled his sport. At the sound of an instrument somewhat resembling a horn, they all started up, and flocked to the standard of this professor of the healing art, leaving the poor rope-dancer to finish his performance, or not, as he pleased. I found this new constellation to be a doctor of high renown, and a reputed saint, who lived in a neighbouring village, and who, as was his custom, had condescended to honour this annual meeting with his presence; selling and dispensing his medicines, arid at the same time performing surgical and dental operations.

In order to have a full view of this Moorish Esculapius, I approached as closely as the multitude collected round him would allow. He was attended by a negro slave, and two disciples. Ere long, four Moors brought a poor emaciated wretch, to obtain advice and relief from this redoubtable doctor. The unfortunate man was unable, from his reduced state, to stand. Having examined the eyes, tongue, and face of his patient, he made a solemn pause, and appeared to deliberate very profoundly, at length, he decided upon blood-letting ad deliquium, and immediately took from his patient eighteen ounces of blood; nor would he, in all probability, have stopped there, had the strength of the poor man allowed him to continue; but having brought on a syncope, he was obliged to desist. The arm was tied up with a handkerchief; the doctor received his fee from one of his patient's relatives; and the patient was left entirely to the efforts of nature in his favour. For humanity's sake, I afforded him every assistance in my power, and, after much difficulty, succeeded in restoring him to his senses; but he was so weakened by the absurd treatment he had experienced, as to have no chance of surviving the day. As the multitude firmly believed him to be quite dead, this apparent resuscitation astonished the people beyond measure; and from this circumstance supplies of every kind of provision were poured in on me, from all quarters.

Soon after the above scene, a young woman presented herself, afflicted with a violent tooth-ache. The doctor, after his usual deliberation, resolved to extract the dolent tooth; and taking a string from his box, he fastened it round the tooth, and by a sudden jerk (which, from its force, I expected would have brought away jaw and all), he drew it out. The poor girl bore the operation with exemplary patience and fortitude; and having satisfied the sapient doctor, she retired.

Whilst I was thus occupied in observing the wonderful proceedings of this singular practitioner, an uproar in another part of the fair attracted my notice. Curiosity prompted me to inquire into its cause, and I found it was occasioned by a wild mountaineer, who had been detected in the act of stealing a Moorish garment. He was seized, and taken before the Cadi, who ordered him the bastinado immediately; which was inflicted with such severity, that I could not forbear interceding for the fellow. The Cadi kindly remitted part of the punishment, and the culprit was set at liberty.

Finding nothing else likely to compensate my longer stay, I summoned my suite, and proceeded on my journey, reflecting on the mutability of all earthly prosperity, which was so strongly exemplified in the history of the Moorish nation. The scene I had just left, argued such a small remove from absolute barbarism, that, more than once, I could not avoid exclaiming: "Are these the descendants of those people, who, for so many centuries, gave laws to the greater part of Spain, and subjected whole provinces to their dominion? But those times are past, and, 'like the baseless fabric of a vision,' left 'not a wreck behind'."

After a journey of six days (which might have been performed in three, but for the delays I have spoken of), we arrived here. His Excellency the Governor, and his suite, came out to meet me. He embraced me very cordially, and conducted me to the castle, where I was served with a sumptuous collation. The Governor being in hourly expectation of the orders of his Sovereign to repair to court, has his route made out, and has requested me to keep myself in readiness to depart at an hour's notice.

I have received several letters by express, from, our Consul-general, complaining of Governor Ash-Ash, who has refused granting the regular supplies to our fleet, and the garrison of Gibraltar. From the character I have given you of this man, in a former letter, you will feel less astonished, when I inform you of his shameful conduct. His rapacity and avarice are unbounded. He refuses the regular supplies, insisting upon an additional duty being paid, besides the enormous one already imposed, on articles furnished to the English, contrary to the tariff established by treaty. Accordingly, I laid the following copy of the original tariff before His Excellency, and subjoined the imposition of Ash-Ash. Order to be observed by the British Vice-consuls, at Tetuan and Tangiers, respecting the English.

                     Spanish Dollars 
    Cows, calves, and oxen, whether 
      stall-fed or not, per head 5 now 25

                     Cobs. Cobs. 
    Sheep and goats, per ditto 2 - 7 
    Fowls, per dozen 1 - 6 
    Lemons and oranges, per thousand 1 - 5 
    Eggs, Per ditto 1 - 5 
    Dates, per quintal 4 - 8 
    Orange-trees, each 1 - 2 
    Figs, raisins, almonds, nuts, rhubarb, 
       oil, honey, soap, olives, 
       and red pepper, per quintal 2 - 12 
    Wheat, barley, oats, rice, and bean, 
       per measure 1 - 6 
    Straw, by the nett 1/4 - 1 
    Pomegranates, amber-wood, %c., per quintal 1 - 4 
    Bees-wax and candles, per ditto 14 - 26 
    Ostrich feathers, per lb. 2 - 16 
    Ivory, copper, sandrach, chohob, 
       and gum arabic, per quintal 5 - 15 
    Indigo, per ditto 1 - 10 
    Goat skins, per quintal 4 - 8 
    Beef ditto, per ditto 3 - 6 
    Lion and tiger ditto, each 4 - 12 
    Common tanned leather,per quintal 1 - 5 
    Morocco ditto free - 5 
    Wool and hemp, per quintal 3 - 6 
    All shoes and slippers,per hundred pair 4 - 10 
    Moorish caps, per ditto 4 - 10 
    Mats, each 1 - 5 
    Mules, ditto 10 - 50 
    Asses, ditto 5 - 10 
    Silk alhaiks, ditto 2 - 5 
    Haiks of other kinds, ditto 1 - 3

This is a correct translation of the agreement, and tariff, settled eleven years ago, between the present Emperor Muley Solyman, and the late Consul-general Mr. Matra. Having laid this before His Excellency, I was so fortunate as to prevail on him to request the Emperor to renew it, and to grant an increase of fresh provisions, during the war, to the fleet off Cadiz, and to the garrison of Gibraltar.

It is impossible to doubt for a moment, at at whose instigation it was that Ash-Ash behaved in this infamous manner. It is certainly the interest of the French nation to prevent, if possible, our receiving supplies from Barbary; consequently we cannot wonder that every means should be employed to accomplish this end, and Ash-Ash is certainly the fittest instrument, from his hatred to the English: fortunately, however, he is not a free agent. My friend, and the friend of the English, the good Governor of this place, referred the whole to the Emperor, who has very satisfactorily adjusted every thing to our advantage, and the mortification of the French Consul, and his tool.

At the same time that His Excellency received the answer from the Emperor to the above-mentioned application, a letter arrived, requiring his immediate attendance at Fez; from which place you shall again hear from me.