Sketch of the History of Morocco - Road from Tangiers - Simplicity of the Peasants - Moors hospitable - Arrive at a Village - The ancient Zelis - Public Accommodations - Much infested with Vermin - Arzilla, a ruinous walled Town - Arrive at Larache.

Larache, January 1806.

Before I proceed to give you the particulars of my journey to this place, I shall fulfil tho promise I made you in my last.

The present empire of Morocco is properly the Mauritania Tingitania of the Romans, as the Mauritania Caesariensis comprised Algiers, Tripoli, and Tunis; and was so called from the Emperor Claudius.Tingitania was not decidedly reduced to a Roman province till after the death of Bocchus. Augustus afterwards gave the two Mauritanias, and a part of Getulia, to the younger Juba, as a remuneration for the loss of his father's kingdom (Numidia). Ptolemy, his son, by Cleopatra (daughter of Antony and Cleopatra), succeeded him. In his reign, the Moors of this country were induced to revolt by a Numidian named Tacfarinas, who had served in the Roman army, and who, at the head of a set of barbarians accustomed to every species of robbery, assisted the revolt he had excited.

After a variety of successes and defeats, they were completely routed by Dolabella, the Roman General, and a body of Mauritanians sent to his assistance by Ptolemy, This conquest contributed to establish peace for a short time in these provinces; but at the death of Ptolemy (who was treacherously cut off by Caius), they again revolted, when Claudius first fixed a Roman army in Mauritania. His generals, though not without difficulty, succeeded in restoring tranquillity, which scarcely met with any interruption till the latter end of the fifth century, when the declining state of the Roman power favoured another revolt, in which the Moors entirely shook off the yoke of the Romans, assisted by the Vandals, under Genseric, who overran Africa, and obtained possession of most of the maritime towns. The Vandals were expelled in the seventh century by the Saracens, under the Caliphs of Bagdad, a ferocious and warlike race of Arabs, who, from conquest to conquest, had extended and removed their seat of government from Medina to the city of Damascus; thence to Cufa, and from the latter place to Bagdad; where they established their Caliphate authority.

Flushed with their success, and burning with the hopes of plunder, in the conquest of countries more fertile and richer, but less warlike than their own, they extended their arms as far as the westernMauritania. This country then remained for some time subject to the Caliphs of Bagdad, and was governed by their lieutenants, a set of cruel, arbitrary, and rapacious men.

The distance from the seat of government, and the oppressive manner in which the Caliphs ruled, excited universal commotion in this part, and considerably diminished their authority. Their generals, far from suppressing, openly encouraged these tumults, and severally aspired to the sovereignty. In the midst of these intestine broils, Edris, a descendant of Mahomet, fled into Mauritania, to avoid the persecutions of the Caliph Abdallah, who, to ensure the succession to his own family, had caused the kinsmen of Edris to be put to death. Edris first settled in a mountain, between Fez and Mequinez, called Zaaron, where he soon gained the confidence of the Moors. He preached the doctrine of Mahomet, and, by degrees, succeeded in establishing it throughout the country. These people, fond of novelty, and extremely susceptible of fanaticism, readily embraced a faith so well suited to their manners and inclinations. They elected him their chief, and invested him with supreme power; which he employed in reducing the Arab generals. From that time, the characters of the Moors and Arabs gradually blended, so that in after-ages, among the generality of them, scarcely any distinction can be traced.

As it is foreign to my present purpose to carry you farther into the ancient history of this country, I shall proceed to give you tho particulars of my journey to this town. I left Tangiers, escorted by a guard, consisting of a serjeant and six horsemen, accompanied by an interpreter, and my few servants. We rode for several hours, alternately through gardens and woods: the former full of fruit-trees; such as orange, lemon, fig, pomegranate, apple, pear, and cherry trees. The scene became every moment more interesting. As we advanced, the country assumed a variety almost indescribable. The contrast was every where infinitely striking. At one instant the eye was presented with fine corn-fields, meadows, and high hills; nay, mountains, cultivated to the very summits, are covered with immense flocks of sheep, and herds of cattle; while the vallies conveyed to the imagination an idea of the fertile plains of Arcadia; the simple manners of the Moors, who tend these flocks and herds, still further inducing one to believe them the happy, peaceful people, the poets feign the Arcadian swains to have been. On the other hand are huge mountains, bleak and barren, inaccessible to man, and scarcely affording food to the straggling wild goats that venture to browse on them.

There is a degree of simplicity in the behaviour of the peasants, so widely different from these who inhabit the towns, that it is impossible to suppose them the same race of men. From the great affinity between the manners and customs of these country Moors, and the Scenite Arabs, the inhabitants of Arabia Deserta, we may naturally infer that they must have derived those habits from the latter.

They reside in villages composed of tents to the number of forty or fifty, which they remove at pleasure; when the pasture fails in one valley, they strike their tents, and seek another, where they remain till the same necessity impels them to quit that in its turn. This was precisely the custom of the Arabes Scenitae. The vast plains of sand with which Arabia Deserta abounds, were occasionally interspersed with fertile spots, which appeared like little islands. These we're rendered extremely delightful by fountains, rivulets, palm-trees, and most excellent fruit. The Arabs, with their flocks, encamped on some of them, and when they had consumed every thing there, they retired to others. Their descendants, the present Bedoweens, continue the practice to this day. The name given to this kind of village is the same as that of the Arabs just mentioned, which is Dow-war, or Hbyma.

The families of the Moorish peasants appear to be very numerous, as I observed that each tent was quite full. They flocked out as I passed, to gratify their curiosity in seeing a Massarane (for so they denominate a Christian). Yet, notwithstanding their antipathy to all Christians, I was received with the greatest hospitality by these followers of Mahomet. They seemed to vie with each other in presenting the bowl of butter-milk, which they consider as a great delicacy, and. indeed, an offering of peace.

In the centre of a plain, about eight hours journey from Tangiers, we halted, and refreshed ourselves. After allowing my serjeant and guard to perform their ablutions, and say their prayers, we proceeded on our journey, and arrived, very late in the evening, at a village on the banks of a large river, which, from its situation, I imagine to be the Zelis, or Zelia, of the ancients, and which, by its annual inundation, fertilizes and enriches the country to such a degree, that, with very little labour, it produces abundant crops of all kinds of grain, particularly of wheat and barley.

A number of rivulets have their source in those mountains, which, joining others in their course, at length form pretty considerable rivers; and these, meeting with obstacles from the projecting rocks over which they pass, produce most beautiful natural cascades, which, precipitating themselves into the plains, preserve so great a moisture in the soil, that it is covered with a continual verdure.

There are no public inns for the accommodation of travellers on the road; but the Emperor has caused stone buildings to be erected, at certain distances, as substitutes. These buildings are not so good as many of the stables in England; they resemble the sheds, made, by farmers, to-give shelter to their cattle in tempestuous weather: yet, miserable as they were, I was glad to accept the offer of a night's lodging in one of them, not having provided myself with a tent.

The Cadi of the village conducted us to this delectable abode, which we found already occupied by six Moorish wanderers, who, in the Emperor's name, were ordered to turn out, and make room for me and my suite. Supper was brought me by the Cadi; it consisted, of boiled rice and milk, and some fresh-water fish, tolerably well dressed. When I had partaken of this homely repast, I prepared myself for rest, of which I stood in great need from the fatigues of the day; but, alas! my evil genius had determined otherwise; it seemed as if all the fleas and bugs in His Imperial Majesty's dominions had been collected, to prevent my closing my eyes; or it was, possibly, a legacy bequeathed, me by my predecessors. Be that as it may, I found them such very troublesome companions, that I preferred the night air to the prospect of being devoured before morning; I therefore wrapped myself up in a thick blanket, and slept, unmolested, in the open air, till after daybreak, when I found myself sufficiently refreshed to pursue my journey. Crossing the river, we passed through a ruinous walled town, called Arzilla, commanded by an Alcaid, under the Governor of Larache. This, which is a maritime town, lies at the mouth of the above river, and was, according to Strabo, Pliny, and others, a Phoenician colony ; it was afterwards successively in the hands of the Romans, Vandals, Arabs, and occupied by Aphonso, King of Portugal, surnamed theAfrican. It was abandoned by the Portuguese in 1471, when it fell under the power of the kings of Morocco.

I observed several ruins in this town and its vicinity, but could not stay to inspect them, It is inhabited by Moors and Jews, and is surrounded by gardens abounding with lemon, orange, and grape trees. On the evening of the same day we reached this place. I shall defer the account of my reception here, and the state in which I found the Governor, till my next.