Sudden Departure from Fez - Arrive at Mequinez - Attend the Emperor - Melancholy Catastrophe - Expedition against wild Beasts - Extensive Palaces - Seraglio - Visit a Haram - Founders of the City - A fortified Town - Inhabitants - Jewish Town - Rich Attire of the higher Orders - Numerous Market-places - Furniture - Saints' Houses - Imperial Field Sports - Pack of Greyhounds - Abundance of Game.


No doubt, my dear D - - , you will be very much surprised to observe my letter dated from this place. I assure you I had not the most distant idea, when I wrote last, of removing so suddenly from Fez. On the evening of the same day that I dispatched my letter to you, as I was preparing for rest, an express arrived from the Emperor, begging me to repair hither without delay. Concluding that nothing less than life or death depended on my speedy arrival, I accordingly renounced the pleasures of the drowsy god for a very uneasy seat on the back of a mule, and at midnight set off for this place, leaving my baggage and attendants to follow in the morning. I rode very fast all night, and arrived here about nine o'clock the next day. When I dismounted, I was so extremely stiff, that it was with the utmost difficulty I could stand; I was most dreadfully fatigued, and stood in very great need of repose; but waving all selfish considerations, I thought only of being serviceable, and therefore lost no time in waiting on the Emperor. He received me in the kindest and most flattering manner, and expressed great pleasure at seeing me; but I found my patient's case not so very urgent as I had imagined; a few hours delay would not have endangered the life of any human being, and it would have saved one, some aching bones. However, after dispatching the case in point as expeditiously as possible, I soon made amends for my deprivation, by indulging in a little longer repose than usual, and on awaking I felt myself quite refreshed, and rather pleased than otherwise at finding myself thus suddenly at Mequinez; for having before passed the road more leisurely, and observed every thing worthy of remark, I did not so much regret that my journey had been performed during the night.

I have been four days here, and yesterday I was called upon to attend the captain of a band of huntsmen, who were that morning returned from an expedition, in which they lost three of their companions, and only succeeded in saving their chief, and bringing him to this place, by little short of a miracle. He has been lacerated in a most dreadful manner; his head is nearly scalped, and part of the integuments of his arms and back inverted. His condition is certainly dangerous; but, as he is a young and healthy subject, I do not despair of effecting his recovery.

I have learned the following particulars of this melancholy catastrophe. About fifty resolute young men marched hence, all armed and well stocked with ammunition and provisions, and accompanied by a mountaineer, who acted as guide. Their primary object was to destroy six young lions, that had committed terrible devastation in one of their villages; compelled the inhabitants to flee precipitately; and themselves remained sole masters of the citadel. After a march of three days, they arrived at the scene of action, and succeeded in destroying those lions; but hearing that there were more in the neighbourhood, they prepared to encounter them also. By order of this young man, who was chief of the company, they separated in five divisions, and repaired to different posts on the borders of the forest, to wait the arrival of the lions. They had not remained long, ere the terrific roar of these animals commenced, the sound approached nearer and nearer to their place of concealment, and one of the lions passed close to a party, and received the fire of their pieces; the animal darted upon them in return, before they could charge again, and three unfortunate men fell victims to his rage. The creature finding he had more enemies to contend with, and his wounds beginning to smart, retreated to a cover, where he sat licking them, and meditating another attack. He was on the point of springing on the captain, who had approached nearer to him than the rest, when the young man discharged his musket, the contents of which entered, and dislocated, the lower jaw of the enraged animal. The instant the youth had fired, he retreated with the utmost precipitation towards his companions, but his foot unfortunately slipping, he fell prostrate between two stones: in which position the lion assailed him; and being unable to tear him in pieces with his teeth, in consequence of the wound in his jaw, he made use of his tremendous paws, and would undoubtedly have destroyed him, but for the timely assistance of his comrades. The animal was so intent on the destruction of his enemy, that he received a close fire from two muskets, the muzzles of which nearly touched him. He no sooner found himself mortally wounded, than, raising the almost lifeless man in both paws, he dashed him on the ground, and fell dead by his side.

The man received a very severe contusion on his bead, which deprived him of sense for some time, and is what I dread the most in his case. His wounds were dressed by his companions in the best manner they could, and he was brought hither. The Emperor has very liberally rewarded him and his party, and made a handsome provision for the widows and children of those poor fellows who fell in the expedition. I sincerely hope this man may recover to enjoy the munificence of his Sovereign.

I have most excellent quarters here, contiguous to one of the palaces, and am allowed to walk or ride in the Imperial gardens, which are very extensive. The Emperor's palaces here, are much upon the same plan, with those at Fez, but larger. One of them is about three miles in circumference. All the apartments are on the ground floor, and are large long rooms, about twenty feet in height, receiving air from two folding doors which open into a square court, with a portico round, embellished with colonnades. The walls of the rooms are faced with glazed tiles, and the floors paved with the same, which gives an air of coolness and neatness, so desirable in this warm climate.

The seraglio of the Emperor, and indeed the harams of men of less rank, are sacred. No strangers are admitted, and it is profanation in a man to enter; but as a tweeb, I am privileged, and enjoy a liberty, never granted before. The day after my arrival, His Excellency the Sheik called upon me, and requested me to go home with him. He informed me that he had been assured, in the most positive manner, by all the doctors, and female attendants, that his wife had a dead child in her, and that nothing less than a miracle of their great Prophet could save her. The poor man was very much agitated while giving me this account. I find she is his favourite wife, and no wonder, for she is a very lovely woman. Upon examination, I found that what they imagined to be a dead child, is a protuberant hardness in the region of the liver, extending nearly all over the abdomen. The tumefaction was considered as a case of pregnancy; and she having considerably passed her time, the child was thought to be dead within her. I have begun a course of medicine, which I flatter myself will entirely eradicate the disorder.

My stay was so very short, when I was here before, that I could give you no account of the town, &c. The city of Mequinez is in the kingdom of Fez, and thirty miles from the capital of that name. The dynasty of Mequinez were the founders of this town, which they erected upon the ruins of the old one. Stephanus takes notice of it, by the name of Gilda, and says, that it was a place of great note. Marmol also asserts, that the present Mequinez answers in every respect to the ancient Gilda. It was considerably enlarged by Muley Ishmael, who (as well as several other Moorish princes, successively) defended himself in this place, against the attacks of the mountaineers. Several lines of circumvallation and intrenchments are still to be seen.

It is surrounded with walls, and fortified by two bastions; but has no artillery. It contains about one hundred thousand inhabitants; twenty-five thousand of whom are Jews, who have a town of their own, irregularly fortified, and guarded by a strong force, under the direction of an Alcaid, who is styled the Governor of the Jews.

There is not the smallest difference, in the construction of these houses, from those of Fez; though the inhabitants differ very materially. The men are of a short, thick, muscular make, and swarthy complexion, with long black beards and black eyes. The women are excessively handsome, and remarkably fair; nor are they devoid of neatness and elegance in their dress. They improve the beauty of their eyes with paint.

The Moorish inhabitants of this city are all militia-men, entirely at the disposal of the Emperor. They are excellent horsemen, expert at the sword and lance; and with fire-arms most admirable marksmen. They are generally considered barbarous and ferocious.

The people of distinction go about richly attired, having much gold and silver on their clothes. They take great pains in cleaning their teeth, combing their long beards, and keeping their nails pared extremely close.

The streets of this town are not paved; and the soil being clay, they must be very disagreeable in winter; for, after a heavy shower of rain, they are almost impassable from the accumulation of mud in every quarter. The market-places, with which this place abounds, are long, narrow, arched or covered streets, with small shops on each side, superintended by a Cadi, and an officer under him, for the purpose of collecting the duties on the sale of goods, &c. The chief furniture of the houses consists of beautiful carpets, cushions, and mattresses, upon which they sit and lie.

In and about the neighbourhood of this place are several saints' houses, near which no Christian, nor Jew, is allowed to pass. The most remarkable is the hospitium of Sidi-el-Marti.

The Emperor's favourite diversions, while here, are shooting and hunting, in both of which I am told he excels. He keeps a large pack of greyhounds, as fine as any I have seen in England. His pleasure-grounds, and park, in the vicinity of this town, abound in all kinds of game, hares, rabbits, and deer, and in wild boars and foxes.