Slike strani







Ancient History. Contrast between the present and ancient Condition of the Bar. bary States-View of ancient Manners—Remains of former Magnificence-Revolutions in that Country at once sudden and entire-Countries comprehended in Barbary-Division, according to Herodotus-Origin of the term Barbary-Opinion of Leo Africanus–Emigrants from Asia and Arabia-Monuments which denote an Eastern People--Colonies from Tyre -Foundation of Carthage - Supposed Extent of her Territory -Remark of Polybius-Carthaginians encouraged Agriculture-Various Tribes subject to Carthage, or in Alliance with her-The History of Carthage for a long time includes that of all the Barbary States-First Attempt on Sicily and Sardinia-Ambitious Views of the Carthaginians—Provoke the. Resentment of Alexander the Great-First Punic War-Carthage besieged-Second Punic War-Character of Hannibal --Scipio invades the Carthaginian Territory--Hannibal recalled-Is defeated at Zama-Third Punic War- Fall of Carthage-History of Jugurtha-Subdued by the RomansMarius and Sylla-Pompey and Cæsar-Conclusion.

In entering upon a description of the Barbary States, the mind naturally turns, in the first instance, to a comparison of their actual condition, morally and politically considered, with the civilization to which they formerly attained under more enlightened governors. The contrast thus presented

is rendered still more striking by a reference to the literaturo and science of Europe, of which the elements were, in many cases, derived from the northern shores of Africa; as well when the Phænicians extended their power to the Pillars of Hercules, as when the lieutenants of the Caliph exercised authority over the mixed tribes who were compelled to acknowledge their dominion.

Nowhere, indeed, is the effect of wise institutions more clearly distinguished than at the point whence the philosophical eye marks the difference which prevails on the opposite sides of the Mediterranean. From the mountains of Spain the spectator may comprehend, at one glance, the abode of nations which, though in geographical position not farther distant than a voyage of a few hours, are nevertheless, in respect of religion, learning, and all the arts and feelings of social life, removed from one another by the lapse of man, centuries. In passing the narrow channel which separates these two quarters of the globe, the traveller finds himse's carried back to the manners and habits of ages long past, and sees, as it were, a revival of scenes which must have attracted the notice of the earliest historians of the human

On the one hand, he beholds an order of men who, like the patriarchs of Arabia, are still engaged with the occupations of the pastoral state, living in tents, and sustaining themselves on the produce of their flocks. On the other, he may see a community devoting their cares to the pursuits of traffic, and, like the ancient Ishmaelites, carrying the commodities of foreign lands across their wide deserts; thereby connecting, in the bonds of commercial intercourse, the remotest nations of the Old World. In a third section of Northern Africa, his attention will be drawn to numerous tribes who, adopting partially the usages of both the other classes, refuse to abide by either; but, like the descendants of Esau, with their hands lifted against every man who crosses their path, esteem it their highest honour to impose tribute and enrich themselves on spoil.

Nor is the contrast less remarkable, when the present aspect of the country is compared with the magnificence and cultivation which adorned it during several ages. In no other region of the earth has the food of time committed ravages so extensive and deplorable, obliterating nearly all the traces of improvement, and throwing down the noblest


works of art. Amid the sand, accordingly, which covers the remains of ancient towns, are to be seen the finest specimens of architectural skill, mingled with the relics of a taste and luxury which distinguished the later years of the Roman empire. The fields, which once bore the most abundant crops, are now either deformed by the encroachments of the Desert, or overgrown with useless weeds and poisonous shrubs ; while baths, porticoes, bridges, theatres, and triumphal arches, have mouldered into ruins, or sunk under the hands of the barbarous inhabitants.

No people, once civilized, retain so few marks of having risen above savage life as the present Moors and Arabs of Barbary. All other nations, however depressed with regard to power, wealth, and science, continue to exhibit some proofs of their former greatness, and to vindicate, at least by their recollections and desires, the rank which their ancestors enjoyed in ancient times. The Jews, the Egyptians, the Greeks, and the Romans, though now little more than the nominal representatives of distinguished empires, cherish the memory of what they were; extol the exploits of their fathers, and admire their works ; hoping even to restore their fortunes and to emulate their fame in a more auspicious age. But the rude tribes of Africa are strangers to all such ennobling sentiments. They know not that their country was one of the first seats of government and commerce, and took the lead, at an early period, in all the attainments which exalt human nature, and confer the highest blessings on society. They forget that Carthage held long suspended between herself and Rome the scales of universal dominion; that her provinces were opulent and enlightened; that she could boast of renowned sages and learned fathers of the church; and that some of her towns were on a footing of equality with the most celebrated in antiquity. Ignorant, moreover, of the history of those monuments which still give an interest to their wild shores and dreary plains, they even make haste to deface every thing whereon ingenuity has been lavished, and to remove every token which might serve as an evidence that men more polished than themselves had occupied their cities or ploughed their fields.

These facts will appear less inexplicable, when it is called to mind that the revolutions in Barbary have, for the most part, been not only sudden and complete, but that, being brought about by nations that had very little in common with those which they subdued, an entire change was introduced as often as new masters assumed the government. The Saracens, for example, who marched under the banners of Mohammed, had no respect for the institutions of the Romans, whether conveyed thither from Italy or from the shores of the Ægean Sea. On the contrary, those fierce warriors felt themselves impelled by religious zeal to root out whatever had been planted by Christians--to demolish the edifices in which they had worshipped—to destroy the emblems of their faith—and to treat with scorn every usage which could be traced to the hated Nazarenes. The barbarians who humbled the European portion of the empire, yielded their reverence, and even their belief, to the magnificent and imposing ritual of the Church. Their own tenets were so ill defined, and rested on principles so extremely vague, that they were easily capable of amalgamating with any other system which simply recognised the doctrine of a Divine Providence, and the sanctions of a future state, as the reward of the good and the punishment of the guilty. But the disciples of the Koran were not allowed to make terms with the professors of any rival creed. An acknowledgment of their prophet, as an inspired messenger sent by Heaven, was ever held as a condition indispensable to the enjoyment of security, and even of those ordinary privileges in life, without which man may be said to forfeit all the advantages of associating with his fellow-creatures. Hence the irruption of the Arabian host produced, on the face of Upper Africa, effects hardly less violent and universal than if a second deluge had swept over it. The past could not have been more profoundly forgotten, and the labours of former generations could scarcely have more entirely disappeared.

The countries included under the general description of Barbary, of which it is our intention in the present work to give an account, may be conveniently understood as extending from the Desert of Barca on the east to Cape Nun on the west; a space which comprehends the Cyrenaica, Tripoli, Tunis, Algiers, and Morocco, and embraces more than 2,000 miles of coast. It is true, that the first of the districts now specified is not usually attached to the Barbary States, being more closely connected with Egypt, both by its historical relations and its natural affinity. But as the celebrated towns, composing the Pentapolis of ancient authors, were not described in our volume on the kingdom of the Pharaohs, we have thought it expedient to introduce them here, in order that we may fully complete our undertaking, and lay before the readers of the Library all that is known respecting the great continent of Africa. The breadth of the territory which thus falls under our notice varies very much at different parts, according to the proximity of the sandy waste by which it is bounded on the south; and this uncertainty is still farther increased by the occasional movements of the Sahara itself, which, so far from being permanently fixed, is found from time to time invading the cultivated lands.

According to Herodotus, the north of Africa is divided into three regions, which he distinguishes into inhabited land, the wild beast country, and the desert; an arrangement strictly corresponding to the modern classification of Barbary, properly so called; the Blaid el Jerid, or region of dates; and the Sahara. The first section contains Mauritania, Numidia, the territory of Carthage, Cyrenaica, and Marmarica ; that is, the northern parts of the present kingdoms of Morocco, Algiers, Tunis, Tripoli, and Barca. It was not without reason that the father of history conferred upon this extensive tract the epithet of habitable ; for, though at certain parts its continuity is broken by the approach of the sands, it is, generally speaking, uncommonly productive. By the Romans, indeed, it was, next to Egypt, esteemed their granary ; and its abundant returns long enabled the Carthaginiars to maintain armies able to cope with the conquerors of Europe.

Beyond this favoured region a chain of mountains runs across the continent, beginning at the shores of the Atlantic, and reaching to the boundaries of Egypt. The whole line, it is true, has not been examined by recent travellers; but the opinions of the ablest geographers favour the conclusion that, though it occasionally sinks to the level of the Desert, the range may be distinctly traced from the neighbourhood of the Nile to the Western Ocean. Its loftiest and broadest part, bearing the name of Atlas, occupies the southern provinces of Morocco and Algiers; and in this vicinity, where water abounds, there are many wild beasts—the ground of the distinction attributed to it by Herodotus. The later Greek and Roman writers called it Getulia ; and it is celebrated by their posts as the native haunt of savage animals.

« PrejšnjaNaprej »