Page images
PDF
EPUB

be superfluous and impertinent to add long shots at the rear-guard. Four another line of evidence. A comment venerable elders bring two yoked oxen may be appropriate. "Is it not in token of submission. In general, Montesquieu," says Mr Borrer, “ in the inhabitants have disappeared. his Esprit des Lois, who observes— Their deserted towns appear, in the • The right of conquest, thongh a ne- distance, by no means inferior to many cessary and legitimate right, is an French and Italian villages. The unhappy one, bequeathing to the con- marshal will not permit exploring queror a beavy debt to humanity, only parties, for fear of ambuscade. Night to be acquitted by repairing, as far as arrives, and passes without incident possible, those evils of which he has of note. At three in the morning, been the cause'?—and Montesquieu the camp is aroused by hideous was a wise man, and a Frenchman!” yells. A sentinel has fired at a horse

Dismissing this branch of the sub- thief and broken his leg, and now, ject, let us see how the Duke of Isly mindful of the ten francs, tries to made " the powder speak” in Kaby- cut off the head of the wounded man, lia, and try our hand at a rough who objects and screams. A bayonet sketch, taking the loan of Mr Borrer's thrust stops his mouth, and the bill on colours. A strong body of French Bugeaud is duly severed. The next troops--the 8000 have been increased, day is passed in skirmishing with the since departure, by several battalions Beni-Abbez, the most numerous tribe and some spahis—are encamped in a of the valley of the Souman, but not rich valley, cutting down the unripe a very warlike one-s0 says the wheat for the use of their horses, Colonist; and, indeed, they offer but whilst, from the surrounding heights, slight resistance, although they, or the Kabyles gloomily watch the un- some other tribes, make a firm and scrupulous foragers. “Now soft- determined attack upon the French winged evening,'” as Mr Dawson outposts in the course of that night. Borrer poetically expresses himself, There is more smoke than bloodshed; " hovers o'er the scene, chasing from but the Kabyles show considerable woodlands and sand-rock heights the pluck, burn a prodigious number of gilded tints of the setting sun." In cartridges, and make no doubt they other words, it gets dark—and shots have nearly “rubbed out” the Chrisare heard. The patives, vexed at the tians; in which particular they are liberties taken with their crops, harass rather mistaken — the French, not the outposts. Their bad powder and choosing to leave their camp, having overloaded guns have no chance quietly lain down, and allowed the against French muskets. “In the Berber lead to fly over them. At last name of the Prophet, HEADS !" Bu- the assailants' ammunition runs low, geaud the Merciful pays for them ten and they retire, leaving a sprinkling francs a-piece. Four are presented of dead. Mr Borrer quotes the Koran. to him before breakfast. The pre- " • Those of our brothers who fall in mium is to make the soldiers alert defence of the true faith, are not dead, against horse-stealers. Ten francs but live invisible, receiving their nourbeing a little fortune to a French riture from the hand of the Most soldier, whose pay in hard cash is two High,' says the Prophet.” Nourriture or three farthings a-day, Mr Borrer is not quite English, at least with that suspects the heads are sometimes orthography; but no matter for Mr taken from shoulders where they have Borrer's Gallicisms, which are many. a right to remain. An Arab is always We rush with him into the Kabyle an Arab, whether a horse-stealer or a fire. Here be sits, halted amongst mere idler. But no matter a few the olive-trees, philosophically lightmore or less. Day returns; the co- ing his pipe, the bullets whistling lumn marches; the Kabyles show about his ears, whilst he admires the little of the intrepidity, in defence of sang froid of a pretty vivandière, their hearths and altars, attributed to seated astride upon her horse, and them by M. Bugeaud and others. jesting at the danger. The column Their horsemen fly before a platoon advances—the Kabyles retreat, fightof French cavalry; the infantry limiting, pursued by the French shells, their offensive operations to cowardly which they hold in particular horror, and call the bowitzer the twice-firing and the fat of the land for themselves? cunnm. The object of the advance is But stay-there is still a town to take, vo destroy the towns and villages of the last, the strongest, the refuge of the Beni-Abbez, the night-attack upon the women and of the aged. Its defence his bivouac affording the marshal a is resolute, but at last it falls. * Ra.. prewxt. The villages are surrounded vished, murdered, barnt, hardly a with still walls of stones and mod, child escaped to tell the tale. A crowned with strong thorny fences, few of the women fied to the ravines and having hedges of prickly pear around the village ; bat troops swept growing at their base ; and the gaunt the brushwood; and the stripped and burnooked warriors make good fight mangled bodies of females might there through loop-holes and from the ter- be seen. ... One vast sheet of races of their houses. But resistance flame crowned the height, which an is soon overcome, and the narrow hour or two before was ornamented streets are crowded with Frenchmen, with an extensive and opulent village, ravishing, massacring, plundering; nó crowded with inhabitants. It seemed regard to sex or age; outrage for every to have been the very emporium of woman-the edge of the sword for all. commerce of the Beni-Abbez; fabrics

"Upon the floor of one of the of gunpowder, of arms, of haiks, chambers lay a little girl of twelve or burnooses, and different stuffs, were fourteen years of age, weltering in there. The streets boasted of numegore, and in the agonies of death : an rous shops of workers in silver, accursed ruffian thrust his bayonet workers in cord, venders of silk, &c." into her. God will requite him. . . All this the soldiers pillaged, or the When the soldiers had ransacked the fire devoured; then the insatiable dwellings, and smashed to atoms all flames gained the corn and olive trees, they could not carry off, or did not and converted a smiling and prosperthink worth seizing as spoil, they ous district into a black and barren heaped the remnants and the mat- waste. Bugeaud looked on and protings together and fired them. As I nounced it good, and his men declared was hastily traversing the streets to the country “well cleaned out," and regain the outside of the village, dis- vaunted their deeds of rapine and gusted with the horrors I witnessed, violence. “I heard two ruffians flames burst forth on all sides, and relating, with great gusto, how many torrents of fire came swiftly gliding young girls had been burned in one down the thoroughfares, for the flames house, after being abused by their had gained the oil. An instant I brutal comrades and themselves." turned-the fearful doom of the poor Out of consideration for his readers, concealed child and the decrepid Mr Borrer says, he writes down but mother flashing on my mind. It was the least shocking of the crimes and too late.

The unfortunate atrocities he that day witnessed. Kabyle child was doubtless consumed We have no inclination to transcribe a with her aged parent. How many tithe of the horrors he records, and others may have shared her fate!" at sight of which, he assures us, the

At noon, the atmosphere is laden blood of many a gallant French officer with smoke arising from the numerous boiled in his veins. He mentions no burning villages. From one spot nine attempt on the part of these compasmay be counted, wrapped in flames. sionate officers to curb the ferocity of There is merry-making in the French their men, who had not the excuse of camp. Innumerable goatskins, full previous severe sufferings, of a long of milk, butter, figs, and flour, are and obstinate resistance, and of the produced and opened. Some are loss of many of their comrades, to consumed ; more are squandered and allege in extenuation of their savage strewn upon the ground. Let the violence. History teaches us that, in Kabylo dogs starve! Have they certain circumstances, as, for instance, not audaciously levelled their long after protracted sieges, great exposure, guns at the white headed warrior and a long and bloody fight, soldiers and his followers, who asked nothing of all nations are liable to forget disbut submission, thee passage through cipline, and, maddened by fary, by the country, cora-fields for their horses, suffering and excitement, to despise the admonitions and reprimands of treatment of prisoners is not mild. the chiefs-nay, even to turn their On the evening of the 1st June, some weapons against those whom for years men straggled from the French they have been accustomed to respect bivouac, and were captured. " It .and implicitly obey. But there is no was said that from one of the outposts such excuse in the instance before the Kabyles were seen busily engaged us. A pleasant military promenade in roasting their victims before a large through a rich country, fine weather, fire upon a neighbouring slope; but abundant rations, and just enough whether this was a fact or not, I never skirmishing to give zest to the whole learned." It was possibly true. affair, whose fighting part was ex. Escoffier tells us how one of his fellowceeding brief, as might be expected, prisoners, a Jew named Wolf, who when French bayonets and artillery fell into the hands of Moorish shepwere opposed to the clumsy guns and herds, was thrown upon a blazing irregular tactics of the Beni-Abbez pile of faggots; and although we sus-we find nothing in this picture pect the brave trumpeter, or his histoto extenuate the horrible cruelties rian, of occasional exaggeration, there enacted by the conquerors after their are grounds for crediting the autheneasily achieved victory. Their whole ticity of this statement. As to Mr loss, according to their marshal's Borrer, he guarantees nothing but bulletin, amounted to fifty-seven killed what he sees with his own eyes, the and wounded. This included the loss camp being, he says, full of blagueurs, in the night-attack on the camp. In or tellers of white lies. The invenfact, it was mere child's play for tions of these mendacious gentry are the disciplined French soldiery; and not always as innocent as he appears Mr Borrer virtually admits this, by ap- to think them. Imaginary cruelties, plying to the affair General Castellane's attributed to an enemy, are very apt expression of a man-hunt. He then, with to impose upon credulous soldiers, and no good grace, endeavours to find an to stimulate them to unnecessary excuse for his campaigning comrades. bloodshed, and to acts of lawless " The ranks of the French army in revenge. Many a village has been Africa are composed, in great mea. burned, and many an inoffensive peasure, of the very scum of France." sant sabred, on the strength of such They have condemned regiments in lying fabrications.

In Africa espeAfrica, certainly; the Foreign Legion cially, where the lex talionis seems are reckless and reprobate enough; fully recognised, and its enforcement we dare say the Zouaves, a mixed confided to the first straggler who corps of wild Frenchmen and tamed chooses to fire a house or stick an Arabs, are neither tender nor scrupu- Arab, the blagueurs should be handed lous; but these form a very small por- over, in our opinion, to summary tion of the hundred thousand French punishment. On the advance of the troops in Africa, and there is little French column, a soldier or two, picking and choosing amongst the line straying from the bivouac to bathe or regiments, who take their turn of ser- fish, had here and there been shot by vice pretty regularly, neither is there the lurking Kabyles. On its return, reason for considering the men who go" I was somewhat surprised," Mr to Algeria to be greater scamps than Borrer remarks,“ to observe, in the those who remain in France. So this wake of the column, flames bursting will not do, Mr Borrer : try another forth from the gourbies (villages) left tack. “The only sort of excuse for in our rear. It was well known that the horrors committed by the soldiery the tribe upon whose territory we in Algeria, is their untamed passions, were riding had submitted, and that and the fire added to their natural their sheikh was even riding at the . ferocity by the atrocious cruelties so head of the column.” None could exoften committed by the Arabs upon plain the firing of the villages. The their comrades in arms, who have sheikh, indignant at the treachery of been so unhappy as to fall into their the French, set spurs to his mare, power.” This is more plausible, al- and was off like the wind. The conthough it is a query who began the flagration was traced to soldiers of the system of murderous reprisals. Arab rear-guard, desirous to revenge their

sum.

[ocr errors]

comrades, picked off on the previous with characteristic stubbornness, in the march. We are not told that the teeth of public opinion, of the French crime was brought home to the per- government, of common sense, and petrators, or visited upon them. If even of possibility. He proposed to it was, Mr Borrer makes no mention take, during ten years, one hundred and of the fact, but passes on, as if the twenty thousand recruits from the conburning of a few villages were a trifle scription, and to settle them in Africa, scarce worth notice. How were the with their wives. He estimated the Kabyles to distinguish between the expense of this scheme at twelve milacts of the private soldier and of the lions sterling. His opponents stated epauleted chief? Their submission its probable cost at four times that had just been accepted, and friendly

Whichever estimate was corwords spoken to them: their sheikh rect, it is not worth while examining rode beside the gray-haired leader of the plan, which for a moment was the Christians, and marked the appa- entertained by a government comrent subordination of the white-faced mission, but has since been comsoldiery, Suddenly a gross violation pletely abandoned. It presupposes occurred of the amicable understand- an extraordinary and arbitrary stretch ing so recently come to. How per- of power on the part of the governsuade them that the submissive and ment that should adopt such a disciplined soldiers they saw around system of compulsory colonisation. them would venture such breach of We are surprised to find Mr Borrer faith without the sanction or conni- inclined to favour the exploded plan. vance of their commander ? The General Lamoricière (the terrible offence is that of an insignificant sen- Bour-à-boi of the Arabs,*) proposed tinel, but the dirt falls upon the beard to give premiums to agriculturists of Bugeaud; and confidence in the settling in Algeria, at the rate of promises of the lying European is twenty-five per cent of their expenses thoroughly and for ever destroyed. of clearing, irrigation, construction,

A colony, whose mode of acquisi- and plantation. But M. Lamoricière tion and of government, up to the -a very practical man indeed, with present time, reflects so little credit his sabre in his fist, and at the head upon French arms and administratorsof his Zouaves—is a shallow theorist ought certainly to yield pecuniary in matters of colonisation. The staff results or advantages of some kind, of surveyors, valuers, and referees which, in a mercenary point of view, essential to carry out his project, would might balance the account. France alone have been a heavy additional surely did not place her reputation charge on the unprofitable colony. for humanity and justice in the hands “ M. Lamoricière,

says M. Des. of Marshal Bugeaud and of others of jobert, was one of the warmest adhis stamp, without anticipating some vocates of the occupation of Bougie,” sort of compensation for its probable (a seaport of Kabylie,) "and partly deterioration. Such expectations have directed, in 1833, that fatal expedihitherto been wholly unfulfilled ; and tion.” (Fatal, M. Desjobert means, we really see little chance of their by reason of its subsequent cost in probable or speedy realisation. The men and money. The town was colony is as unpromising, as the colo- taken by a small force on the 29th nists are inapt to improve it. The September 1833.) “ The soldiers fact is, the work of colonisation has were then told that their mission was not begun. The French are utterly agricultural rather than military, that at a loss how to set about it. All they would have to handle the pick kinds of systems have been proposed. and the spade more frequently than Bugeaud has had his—that of military the musket. The unfortunates have colonisation, which he maintained, certainly handled pick and spade; but

“General Lamoricière habitually carries a stick. This has procured him, from the Arabs, the name of the Père-au-băton, (the father with the stick :) Bour-d-boi. One of his orderly officers, my friend and comrade Captain Bentzman, gives Araouah as the proper orthography of Bour-à-boi. We have followed Escoffier's pronunciation.” -Captivité d'Escofier, vol. i. p. 30.

66

*

it was to dig in that immense cemetery Algeria. And now the odious English which, each day, swallows up their cottons are an obstacle to the procomrades. Already, in 1836, General sperity of the colony. To sell a few d'Erion, ex-governor of Algiers, de- more bales of French calicoes and manded the evacuation of Bougie, crates of French hardware, the wise which had devoured, in three years, men at Paris put an effectual check three thousand men and seven millions upon the progress of African agriculof francs." The demand was not ture. Here, if anywhere, free-trade complied with, and Bougie has con- might be introduced with advantage; tinned to consume more than its quota in common necessaries, at any rate, of the six thousand men at which M. and for a few years, till the country Desjobert estimates the average an- became peopled, and the colonists had pul loss, by disease alone, of the overcome the first difficulties of their African army. Bougie has not position. It would make very little fourished under the tricolor. In for difference to Rouen and Lyons, whilst mer times a city of great riches and to the settlers it would practically importance, it still contained several work more good than would have been thousand inhabitants when taken by dope them by M. Lamoricière's subthe French. At the period of Mr vention, supposing this to have been Borrer's visit, it reckoned a popula- adopted, and that the heavily-taxed tion of five hundred, exclusive of the agriculturist of France—in many parts garrison of twelve hundred men. To of which country land pays but two return, however, to the systems of and a half or three per cent -- had colonisation. When the generals had consented to pay additional imposts for had their say, it was the turn of the the benefit of the agriculturist of Alcommissions; the commission of geria. In the beginning, the notion Africa, that of the Chamber of of the French government was, that Deputies, &c. There was no lack of its new conquest would colonise itself projects; but none of them answered. unassisted ; that there would be a The colonial policy of the Orleans natural and steady flow of emigrants government was eminently short from the mother country. In any sighted. This is strikingly shown in case this expectation would probably Mr Borrer's 14th chapter, “A Word have proved fallacious-at least it upon the Colony.” Of the fertile plain would never have been realised to the of the Metidja, containing about a extent anticipated ; but the small enmillion and a half acres of arable and couragement given to such emigration, pasture land, a very small portion is rendered it utterly abortive. The cultivated. The French found a gar- "stream" of settlers proved a mere den; they have made a desert. “Be- dribble. Security and justice, Mr fore the French occupation, vast tracts Thiers said, were all that France owed which now lie waste, sacrificed to her colony. Even these two things palmetta and squills, were cultivated were not obtained, in the full sense of by the Arabs, who grew far more corn the words. The centralisation system than was required for their own con- weighed upon Algeria. Everything sumption; whereas now, they grow was referred to Paris. Hence interbarely sufficient: the consequence of minable correspondence, and delays which is, that the price of corn is enor- innumerable. In the year 1846, Mr mous in Algeria at present." Land Borrer says, twenty-four thousand is cheap enough, but labour is dear, despatches were received by the civil because the necessaries of life are so. administration from the chief bureau Instead of making Algiers a free port, in the French capital, in exchange for protection to French manufactures is twenty-eight thousand sent. Instead the order of the day, and this has of imparting all possible celerity to driven Arab commerce to Tunis and the administrative forms requisite to Morocco. Rivalry with England, the establishment of emigrants, these the feverish desire for colonies and for must often wait a year or more before the supremacy of the seas-must un- they are put in possession of the land questionably be ranked amongst the granted. Meanwhile they expend motives of the tenacious retention their resources, and are enervated by of such an expensive possession as idleness and disease. The climate of

« PreviousContinue »