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THE PEOPLE OF ALGERIA; THEIR…

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THE PEOPLE OF ALGERIA; THEIR HABITS AND CUSTOMS. The following is an extract from the special cor- respondent of the Daily Telegraph, who has been sent over to Algeria to record the events connected with the Emperor's visit there. He says :â "The hundred mayors, the jive hundred members of the municipal councils, the prefects and sub-prefects, the intendants and directors, the chiefs of this and the chiefs of that who have been in due course presented to the Sovereign since his arrival, who have presented him with the keys of towns that have gates in number sufficient to set his Majesty'up in business as a lock- smith who have harangued him and sung interminable variations in their official pteans on the solitary air Yive l'Empereur Vive I'lmperatrice! Yive le Prince Imperial! who have assured Agamemnon, King of Men, that he is Jupiterâwho have declared that, now he has condescended visit Algeria, the colony may go to sleep for ever in the slumber of beatitude all these worthy folks belong more or less to the type of the 'old Al,rarians' I have depicted. They are quite as much at home at Algiers or at Oran as at Tarasoon or Arcis-snr-Aube. How clean and pretty the town of Oran is; how trim the houses; how well planted the environs; what charming villas there are round about; how industrious and prosperous are the in- habitants Well, all this had to be conquered once upon a time, first from the wilderness, next from the wild beasts, lastly from the Indians. How many of the earlier colonists had their heads chopped off, or, worse, were gashed in pieces or tortured at slow fire by the bloody lavages ? The other day the mayor of an Algerian town presented to his Majesty as a kind of phenomenal heroine a paor little girl of fifteen, whose parents had been murdered, and who her- self had been shamefully maltreated by the natives. The Emperor received 'her paternally, and appeared horrified at the recital of tie outrages committed upon har.. I knew nothing of those atrocities he exclaimed. '.Nothing has been told me about them.' Of course atrocities do not enter into the official programme of ecstatic Royalty; but they are, nevertheless, among the commonest fea- tures of colonisation. In the smoko of' how many' thousand Indian wigwams have hnng the golden- haired scalps of Anglo-Sason women and ohildren F No country was ever yet wrested by a civilised from a barbarous peoplesrtthocKv the burning down-cfi-houses, the chopping off of heads, and the maltreatment of 1 the feeble and unprotected and in many instances i. i°1V1 have been guilty of atrocities 8.9 exe- S erable as tnose committed by savages. 'Bat,' i contend the dogmatists,_ 'the Arabs, although barbarous in inany of their usuages, have a certain kind of civilisation. Moreover, they are three kind of civilisation. Moreover, they are three millions strong, among vhera can be reckoned, at the lowest computation, tbrle hundred thousand muskets and yataghans, with soUiers as brave as any French- man to wield them. We do not wish to extirpate them as the Anglo-Saxom have extirpated the North American Indians. We vish to live in peace with them, to civilise them, anc to convert them into loyal subjects of the Empero- Napoleon.' The theory is admirable, bat how is it to be put into prac- tice ? What is meant by' civilising' the Arabs-that word which is perpetually in the mouth of every Frenchman you meet ? Civilisation, from a French point of view, means hats, oats, boots, table cChdte dinners, cafés chantants, nuaked balls in Carnival time, wigs, hair dye, kid ghms, bonnets, paintings in oil and water colours, quadrillts and polkas, overtures to &4miramide and pois pourris from the Africaine, the Pompes Fv/nebres, dominoes and piquet, the novels of MM. Feydeau and Flangogues, and the Code NapoléJD. I am not aware of icy other considerable elements in French civilisation, ave, perhaps, grand hotels, the songs of MademoiselleTheresa, rolls on the drum, the dem'i-monde, and the A.cademy of Inscrip- tions and Belles Lettres. What on earth is the Arab to do with French civilisation ? He won't wear hats, or coats, or boots. He eats with lis fingers. He has his cctfes cli/zntanis; but then only one song, and that one five thousand years old, is sung night after night to the music of one lute, one tambourine, and one timbrel, all dating from the time whm Miriam exulted I in the sinking of the horse and hig rider in Egypt's dark sea. The Pompes Funebres concern him not. He observes no dark ceremonial of sorrow. You may see an Arab funeral every day in the cemeteries of Algiers. When a true believer dies, they diess him in his best burnous, pop him into an opm chest gaily painted, and cover all save his face with carpets, or silken stuffs, or dirty rags, according to the rank of the deceased; and then six sturdy fellows hoist this bier on their shoulders, and scamper away with it as fast as ever their legs will carry them to the burying- ground. Arrived there, the corpse is turned out of the chest on the ground and denuded. Then a pro. fessional person comes with soap and water, and a handful of flax, and scrubs the dead man all over, and then, uncoffined and un shrouded, he is hidden away in the bosom of his pitying mother eatth, and the painted chest serves for somebody else who dies next day. To civilise the Arab in an undertaking sense, you must give him men in rusty black, with cocked hats and red noses, coffins, palls, and black velvet draperies, with his cipher, nine or none, emblazoned thereon to say nothing of wax candies, holy water, incense, cross bearers, a priest, and two or three choristers. These undertaking paraphernalia are all more or less connected with the religion of civilisation, and that religion is Christianity. The Arab believes in his heart of hearts tha,t the Christian is an infidel and a dog. Do you wish to civilise him with regard to mar- riage ? His customs, which are his religion, enforce the inclaustration of women at home, or their con- cealment under a veil when abroad. There can be no courtship. The Mahometan girl is sold to a man she has never seen. As for quadrilles and polkas, the only Moorish women who dance in public are public women. As for novels, the Araks, not being priests, schoolmasters, or scribes, are not given either to reading or to writing, and their only acquaintance with fiction is derived from a few scandalous excerpts from the "Arabian Nights" ârelated by professional storytellers in the coffee- houses, or from the blackguard performances of the puppet-show called Karagheus, corrupted by the French into Oaragousscâthe Arab Panch. If you offer the Arab the Code Napoleon, he tells you that the Koran is enough for him. He has a demi- monde of his own and in lieu of frequenting a grand hotel he retires to a caravanserai, where he sups off half a pancake, a draught of sour milk, and a handful of dates, and wrapping himself up in a camel'a-hair cloak, goes to sleep on a floor of baked mud. This is what the Arab really is, and these are the alternatives which the French offer him."

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