Slike strani

any of the oases of the Desert, as suggested by M. Gossellin and others.”

The variety of position assigned by ancient writers to these fairy scenes, is referrible, perhaps, not to any precise geographical data, but to the operation of certain secret propensities deeply lodged in the human breast. There arises involuntarily in the heart of man a longing after forms of being, happier and more beautiful than any presented by the creation before him-bright scenes, which he seeks and never finds in the circuit of real existence. But imagination easily creates them, in that dim boundary which separates the known from the unknown world. In the first discoveries of any such region, novelty usually produces an exalted state of the imagination and passions, under the influence of which every object is painted in brighter colours than those of nature. Nor does the illusion cease when a fuller examination proves that, in the place thus assigned, no such beings or objects exist. The soul, as long as it remains possible, still clings to its fond chimeras. It quickly transfers them to the yet unknown region beyond ; and, when driven from thence, discovers others still more remote in which it can take refuge. Thus we observe these enchanted spots successively retreating before the progress of discovery, yet finding, in the farthest advance that ancient knowledge ever made, some more distant position to which they could fly.*

Having laid before our readers all the more interesting notices which respect this fine country, originally colonized by the Greeks, and long possessed by the subjects of Rome and Grand Cairo, we proceed to give a brief account of the provincial capital itself and its more immediate dependances.

* Gossellin, Géographie Ancienne. Malte Brun, Histoire de la Géographie, quoted in Historical Account of Discoveries and Travels in Africa, vol. i., p. 7.


Tripoli and its immediate Dependances. Ancient Limits of the

Pachalic-Great Syrtis seldom visitedDella Cella and the Beecheys–Ghimines-Forts and RuinsTabilba-Remains of a Castle-Curious Arch-Braiga, a Seaport, and strongly garrisoned-Thought to be the ancient Automala--Sachrin, the southern Point of the Gulf-Shape of the Bay-Cato, Lucan, and Sallust-Muktar-HudiaLinoof--Mahiriga--Fortress-Tower of Bengerwad-Supposed to be that of Euphrantás—Charax-Medinet Sultan-Shuaisha-Hamed Garoosh-Zaffran-Habits of the Natives -Their Dress—The Aspis of Ancient Writers-Giraff-Cape Triero-Mesurata-Sali-marshes-Gulf of Zuca—Lebida Ruins-Narrative of Captain Smyth--Tagiura--FertilityTripoli–Appearance-Tripoli believed to be of Moorish origin-Old Tripoli destroyed by the Saracens-Opinion of Leo Africanus, Favourable Judgment formed by Mr.'BlaquièreMoral Character of the Tripolines--Statement by the Author of Tully's Letters-Description of Tripoli by Captain Beechey--Pacha's Castle-Mosques-Triumphal Arch-Inhabitants divided into Moors and Arabs-Manner in which the Turks spend their time-Peculiar Mode of conducting Conversation-Bedouins—Their Dress and Manners—The Pianura or Fertile Plain-Visit to the Castle-Magnificence of the Apartments-Pacha's principal Wife-Mode of Salutation-Refreshments-History of Tripoli–Knights of MaltaRajoot Rais--Admiral Blake-Sir John Narborough--Major Eaton-Revolution by Hamet the Great The Atrocities which attended it-Fezzan-Siwah-Augila-MaraboutsScene witnessed by Captain Lyon-Drunkenness—Languages spoken at Tripoli,

The proper limits of this pachalic, towards the east, might perhaps be fixed with perfect accuracy at the border of the desert which separates it from Cyrenaica and the minor dependances of Egypt. It is true that the territory of Barca, including all the fine lands which lie along the coast, is at present subjected to the ruler of Tripoli, whose authority is partially acknowledged to the very extremity of Marmarica.

But it is not less manifest, at the same time, that the ancient boundaries of the Carthaginian State, of which the three cities, Orea, Leptis, and Sabrata, made a part, did not extend beyond the remoter verge of the Great Syrtis--the point marked by the romantic legend of the Philæni—where the provinces governed by Cyrene may be conceived to have begun.

The dreary space which intervenes between the eastern termination of the Gulf and Cape Mesurata has been seldom trodden in modern times by the foot of a European. Della Cella, the medical gentleman whose work has been so often quoted, attended the son of the pacha on an expedition to the Bay of Bomba ; accompanying the army during the whole of their march across the Desert, and sharing deeply in the sufferings and privations which are inseparable from such an undertaking. Captain Beechey, also, with his brother and two other officers, performed, at a somewhat later period, a similar journey; having been appointed by the Admiralty to examine the line of coast from Tripoli to Derna, and if possible to Alexandria. Although the travellers, in both instances, proceeded from west to east, we shall, according to the plan already adopted, arrange our details as if advancing from Bengazi towards the capital ; after which, conceiving that the connexion with Egypt, on which we have founded our scheme, shall have been sufficiently consulted, we will commence our description at the seat of each respective government,

Ghimines, then, is the first station southward of Bengazi which presents any thing worthy of attention. There are found the remains of several ancient forts, some of which must have been constructed on a peculiar plan. They are built of large stones of very unequal size, put together without any cement, and made to fit into one another in the manner which has been called Cyclopian. Their form is a square with the angles rounded off, and some of them are filled with earth, well beaten down, to within six or eight feet of the top, the upper part of the wall being left as a parapet to the terrace thus composed in the interior. In the centre of this artificial mound are sometimes observed the traces of buildings, the roofs of which must have been higher than the outer walls ; and a space seems in all cases to have been left between these central chambers and the parapet, in which

the garrison might place themselves when defending the fort. An opening like a window was noticed in one of the castles, which may have been used for drawing up those who entered it, as there was no other inlet whatever. The most of these structures have been surrounded with a trench, on the outer side of which there is generally a low wall strongly built with large stones. Some of them, which have been excavated in the solid rock, are of considerable depth and width; and, in one instance, chambers were observed carefully dug in the sides of the trench. In this case, the ditch is about twentyfive feet broad and fifteen deep, the fortress itself being 125 in length and ninety in width. The form is quadrangular; and in the centre of each of its sides is a projection, sloping outward from the top, twenty feet in length by twelve, which appears to have served at once as a tower and buttress.

No object of much consequence appears between Ghimines and Tabilba, supposed to be the site of what Ptolemy calls the “ Maritimæ Stationes." Here are found the remains of a castle ; and on the hill just above it are the ruins of a very strong fortification connected with it by a wall five feet thick, carried quite round the precipice on which it is erected. This was defended on the side towards the land by fosse thirty feet wide, dug out in the solid stone. The interior of the rock on which the castle stands has been excavated into numerous galleries and chambers, which seem to have answered the purpose of barracks. In one of these are several Greek inscriptions, written with ink on the walls, in what may be called the running-hand of the Lower Empire. In other parts were tombs likewise fabricated in the solid mass, some of which were entered by a quadrangular well, after the manner of those common in Egypt. In the wall fronting the south was observed, among the rubbish which encuinbered it, part of an arch, constructed without a keystone, of square blocks arranged so as to touch each other at the bottom, and having the interstices above filled with a very durable cement. Examples of similar arches were found in various parts of the Syrlis, as well as of the Cyrenaica, denoting the great antiquity of the buildings to which they are attached.

Proceeding along the coast, amid various ruins and saltwater lakes, the traveller reaches Braiga, a seaport town. Judging from the remains of several spacious fortresses, we may conclude that this at one time must have been a strongly-garrisoned place. In a subterranean chamber were seen the representation of a ship and of a palm-tree, sketched on the surface of the cement, which is still as smooth and perfect as the day it was first wrought. The ground about this excavation, and indeed the whole neighbourhood, was strewed with fragments of pottery and glass; among which was picked up a brass coin of Augustus Cæsar in very good condition. On the contiguous hills, too, are the vestiges of sundry forts of the usual quadrangular form, and constructed of large stones very regularly shaped-all proving that Braiga must have been a military station of considerable importance. Captain Beechey is disposed to identify it with the Automala of Strabo, although he admits that its position does not precisely coincide

with the description given by the great geog: rapher, who places it at the most southern point of the gulf, from which it is now distant a few miles. But, except this town, as he justly remarks, there are no ruins on that part of the coast which can be supposed to represent the ancient Automala, the remains of which could not, in any circumstances, have entirely disappeared.

Sachrin is, properly speaking, the bottom of the gulf; and few parts of the world, we are told, could present so truly desolate and wretched an appearance as its shores in this neighbourhood are found to exhibit. Marsh, sand, and barren rocks alone meet the eye, and not a single human being, or a trace of vegetation, is to be seen in any direction. The stillness of the night was not broken even by the howlings of the jackal or hyena; “ and it seemed,” says Captain Beechey, " as if all the animated portion of creation had agreed in the utter hopelessness of inhabiting it to any advantage.'

The form assumed by the southern point of the gulf, or Greater Syrtis, is very different from that commonly represented in maps. Instead of the narrow inlet in which it is usually made to terminate, there was seen a wide extent of coast, sweeping due east and west, with as little variation as possible. The chart ascribed to Ptolemy is the only one extant which approaches to any thing like the actual line of the shore ; and every step which modern geographers have receded from this authority, has been a step farther from the truth. It is deserving of remark, however, that though the shape of the bay at its southern extremity has been very

« PrejšnjaNaprej »