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active and diversified. This improvement in point of atmospherical properties, and the fruitfulness which usually attends them, may be ascribed to the great elevation of the ridge that intersects this part of the African continent; the summits of which, frequently covered with snow, arrest the progress of the clouds and condense them into rain.
The city, which gives its name to the whole kingdom, rises in the form of an amphitheatre at the extremity of a fortified anchoring-ground. The tops of the houses, says Joseph Pitts, in his simple manner, " are all over white, being flat, and covered with lime and sand, as floors. The upper part of the town is not so broad as the lower part, and, therefore, at sea it looks just like the topsail of a ship. It is a very strong place, and well fortified with castles and guns. There are seven castles
without the walls, and two tiers of guns in most of them. But in the greatest castle, which is on the mole without the gate, there are three tiers of guns, many of them of an extraordinary length, carrying fifty, sixty, yea eighty pound shot. Besides all these castles, there is at the higher end of the town, within the walls, another castle with many guns. And, moreover, on many places towards the sea are great guns planted. Algiers is well walled, and surrounded with a great trench. It hath five gates, and some of these have two, some three, other gates within them, and some of them plated all over with thick iron. So that it is made strong and convenient for being what it is—a nest of pirates."*
The annexed view is taken from the seashore, a little to the south of the city, and represents the wall which encompasses the town, together with the port, the mole, and certain marine defences.
Perhaps the appearance of this singular place, when viewed from the sea, is still more striking. The white buildings rising in successive terraces have an imposing effect; while the numerous country-mansions scattered over a circle of hills, amid groves of olive, citron, and banana-trees, present a peaceful and rural landscape very opposite in its character to that of a nation of pirates. But on entering the city the charm entirely dissolves. The streets are so extremely nar.
* A True and Faithful Account of the Religion and Manners of the Mohammedans, pp. 7 8.
row that in scme of them three persons can scarcely walk abreast. This strange style of building is adopted on account of its affording a better shade from the rays of the sun, and more protection in case of earthquakes, by one of which Algiers suffered severely in 1717. The pathway being concave, and rising on each side, the greatest inconvenience results both to men and animals in passing through the town; and, accordingly, when you meet a person on horseback, you are obliged to stand close by the houses to escape from being trampled under foot.
There are nine great mosques and fifty smaller ones within the walls; three principal schools, and several bazaars. Its finest public buildings are those of the five cassarias, which serve as barracks for the soldiery. The dey's palace has two fine courts, surrounded with spacious galleries, surmounted by two rows of marble columns; its internal ornaments consist chiefly of mirrors, clocks, and carpets. There are sundry taverns kept in the city by Christian slaves, which are often frequented even by the Turks and Moors. The population has been variously estimated, on the authority of different writers, who must have formed their estimates on very vague grounds. Salamé thinks there are 20,000 houses, and that the circuit of the walls is not less than four miles, thereby affording a basis on which we might raise an exaggerated computation as to the number of inhabitants. Shaw, who reduces the extent of the city to the circumference of a mile and a half, relates, that it is supposed to contain about 2,000 Christian slaves, 15,000 Jews, and 100,000 Mohammedans.*
It is observed by Pananti, that though there are taverns in Algiers, there is no convenience in them for sleeping; so that those who enter it from the country are obliged to lodge with some friend, while European merchants hire apartments in the houses of Jews. The immediate vicinity of the town, he remarks, is understood to contain about twenty thousand vineyards and gardens; the beauty of these environs being in no respect inferior to that of Richmond, Chantilly, or Fiesole. Its effect, however, is much lessened when we reflect on the people into whose possession so fine a country has falien. The landscape is truly delightful if viewed only
* Pananti, Narrative of a Residence in Algiers, p. 114. Travels in Barbary, vol. i., p. 33.
with a passing and rapid glance; but when the eye rests upon it, the barrenness and aridity of many spots are disclosed, showing the contempt of its barbarous inhabitants for agriculture, the place of which they endeavour to supply by dedicating themselves to war and plunder.*
When Dr. Shaw, about a hundred years ago, resided at Algiers, the walls were weak and of little defence, unless where they were farther secured by some additional fortification. The port, we may subjoin on the same authority, is of an oblong figure, 130 fathoms in length and eighty broad. The Round Castle at the mouth of the harbour, built by the Spaniards when they were masters of the island, and the two large batteries, were said to be bomb-proof, and had each of them their lower embrasures furnished with thirty-six pounders. The guns were of brass, and their carriages and other appendages in good order. The battery of the Mole Gate, upon the eastern angle of the city, was mounted with several long pieces of ordnance, one of which had seven cylinders three inches in diameter. Half a furlong to the southwest of the harbour was the battery of the Fishers' Gate, which, consisting of a double row of cannon, commanded the entrance into the port and the roadstead before it. But none of these fortifications were assisted either with mines or advanced works ; and as the soldiers whose duty it was to defend them could not be brought to a course of regular discipline, a few resolute battalions, protected by a small fleet, would have found little difficulty in reducing the whole and expelling the garrisons.
The descriptions given by Pitts and Shaw, early in the last century, are confirmed by the actual condition of the place when attacked by the French and English. Salamé, who in 1816 attended the British admiral as interpreter, and who was allowed to visit the capital in person, inserts in his narrative the following details :-“On the north side, about a mile from the town, there is a small castle and several batteries, the last of which is joined to the walls of the city. In this quarter they do not fear any thing, because there is not water enough for anchorage nor for landing. From this wall to the mole there are several batteries more, because this dem
* Narrative, &c., p. 115.