Sail for Tetuan - Appearance of the Coast - Enter the Boosega River - Curious Towers of Defence - Custom-house-Female Dress - Enter Tetuan over a Road of unlevelled Rock - Disagreeable Streets - Well received by the Governor - Public Markets - Socco - An Auction Market.

Tetuan; March 14th, 1806

One of His Majesty's brigs having been appointed to convey me either to Tangiers or Tetuan, the wind blowing due west, we sailed for this port. As the ship drew near the shore, I had a full view of this wild coast. The tops of the lofty mountains are prodigious barren rocks, while their base is interspersed with broom and box. The hills and dales are covered with myrtles of various kinds, assuming different shades of lovely green. The towers and castles, which are of a delicate whiteness, rising in the midst of these groves of myrtles, render the scene interesting. The plaster made use of in the erection of these towers is, of itself, extremely white; but the Moors are not satisfied with this, and they add a whitewash of lime.

The towers are harmless as fortifications, since, for want of skill in the manufacture of gunpowder, the Moors are very deficient in that necessary article. No present therefore is more acceptable to them than a few cartridges of it.

After firing two or three guns by way of signal to the Vice-consul, announcing my arrival, as the Captain had directions only to put me on shore, and to proceed to sea immediately to join Lord Collingwood's fleet, my baggage was put into a large Moorish boat, and I entered the river Boosega (commonly called St. Martin) in the Captain's barge. This river is defended by a castle of singular construction, the entrance to which is by means of a ladder to a door in the upper story, and which ladder is occasionally drawn up. The four angles of the building are finished with small turrets, capped with clumsy domes, and having several ports for cannon. Near this place many of the Emperor's gallies anchor, and winter.

Having proceeded a considerable way up the river, we landed at another castle, called the Custom-house. On my landing, I was received by the Vice-consul (an opulent Jew, and a native of Barbary), accompanied by the commanding officer and his troop. They conducted me to the Custom-house, which is built of stone, and whitewashed, arid, at a distance, appears to very great advantage. We entered this public building by an arched gateway, and proceeded through a winding passage into a quadrangle, in the centre of which is a well of excellent water. Near the well was an arcade, shaded by a grape-vine, to which I was conducted, and there placed in an old arm-chair. The Vice-consul and the Moorish commandant seated themselves cross-legged, upon mats spread upon the floor, and dinner, consisting of roasted fowls and fried sardinias, was immediately served.

After dinner my baggage was put upon mules, and a saddle-horse was brought for me. This animal was perfectly white, and loaded with an enormous saddle, which had a large peak before and behind, covered with a scarlet cloth, and furnished with a pair of stirrups of a curious form, much resembling a coal-scuttle; but, outre as this appeared, I assure you, I found myself very comfortably seated, and perfectly secure from falling. Thus equipped, we set forward for Tetuan, accompanied by a Moorish officer and twelve horsemen.

Whips are not in fashion in this country, and their place is supplied by two long ends of the bridle, cut to a point; but the horses, though very spirited, are perfectly under command, and need neither whip nor spur.

The town of Tetuan is seen at a great distance, from being built, like Tangiers, on the declivity of a high hill, and the houses being whitewashed. The road from the Custom-house is abominably bad; it lies across a wearisome, barren plain, surrounded by craggy mountains. Here and there, indeed, may be seen a small fertile spot, covered with cattle, sheep, and goats, and occasionally a well, encompassed by a wall of broad flat stones, capable of affording a seat to a dozen people. On approaching the city, however, the country appears more cultivated, luxuriant, and rich.

The figures of some common women, apparently employed in agricultural occupations, struck me with surprise, as their dress was quite different from any I had seen when in this country before. On their head they wore a straw hat, of an enormous circumference; under this was a piece of white cloth extending over the forehead to the eyes; and immediately below this another, which reached as far down as the chin; their eyes peeping through the intermediate space. Their bodies were enveloped in a coarse haik, a species of serge of their own manufacture.

Upon entering the city gate, one of my guards took hold of my bridle, and conducted me over innumerable rocks, to the Jewish town. The surface of the ground being an uneven rock, which every where remains unlevelled, the streets consist of abrupt ascents and descents, even worse than those of Larache; they are also extremely narrow and dirty; and as the houses have no windows towards the streets, you in fact pass along between two dead walls, almost suffocated by a hot and fetid atmosphere.

When we reached the house of the Vice-consul, I was presented with a glass of aguardiente, for refreshment. After having passed the evening in the company of a numerous party of Barbary Jews, I retired to bed; and in the morning I waited on the Governor, to pay my respects to him. On our way thither, I was not a little surprised to see our Vice-consul pull off his slippers as we passed the mosques, and walk bare-footed. I soon learned, that the Jews are compelled to pay this tribute of respect, from which Christians are exempt, although they do not escape very frequent insults when walking through the city.

We found His Excellency sitting cross-legged on a tiger-skin, smoking his pipe, under a niche in one of the courts of his mansion. He received me with great politeness, and assured me that every thing should be arranged to render my journey to Larache safe and agreeable. Both, the Governor and his secretary asked me numberless questions respecting the laws and manners of the English; to all of which I gave short and general answers.

As we returned from the castle we passed through a street of unusual breadth, on each side of which were the shops of the merchants. I thence proceeded to take a general survey of the city; examining the different places allotted to people engaged in various branches of trade, and the manufactories of silk, carpets, and mats; and afterwards went to the public markets for meat, poultry, vegetables, cattle, sheep, horses, and mules. They are in spacious squares, and are exceedingly well stocked. I next went to see the Socco, which is a place appointed for the sale of several articles of wearing apparel as well as all sorts of goods, by public auction. The auctioneer walks backwards and forwards, exhibiting the commodities for sale, and bawling out the different prices offered. We returned, through several intricate streets, to the Jews' quarters, much fatigued, and worried with the impertinence and curiosity of the inhabitants.