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THE Communication between the two continents of Europe and Africa is at the present time as easy and as regular as that between England and Belgium was twenty years ago. Twice a week, on Tuesdays and Saturdays, excellent steamers belonging to the Messageries Impériales leave Marseilles for Algiers. Besides these, a steamer belonging to a private French company leaves each port every Thursday. These latter vessels are not quite so speedy as the packetboats, as they are built to carry merchandise, and consequently they enjoy less popularity with the travelling public. In one of them, however, I embarked on the 31st of December, 1857. The sky was clear, and the sea like a mill-pond; a balmy breeze, such as one is favoured with on a fine early September day in England, blew gently from the



south-west, and the barometers predicted the continuance of calm weather. Under such circumstances, no one who has ever experienced sea-sickness will hesitate to choose a bátiment de commerce just about to put to sea in preference to the prospect of a mail steamer forty-eight hours later. At one o'clock the Kabyle passed the Marseilles lighthouse, carrying twelve or fourteen deck and second cabin passengers, but only myself in the chief cabin. I was well content to accept the dulness of my solitary state in consideration of the comfort incident to being the sole candidate for a berth, although the fineness of the weather rendered the advantages of the position less conspicuous than might have been the case. The accommodation was in every respect quite as good as that on board the mail-boats, and the captain, an intelligent, courteous, and apparently skilful scaman, made our tête-à-tête dinners and breakfasts as pleasant as could be desired, and furnished me with several pieces of information which I found very useful when I first landed in Africa.

While watching the receding shore of Europe with that interest which exile, although only for a few months, invariably inspires, I was surprised by a phenomenon which at the instant appeared very strange, although a few minutes' reflection dispelled all astonishment. As the hills surrounding Marseilles disappeared, they were succeeded by what seemed to

at sea.



be high cliffs coming down to the water's edge. We were at the time some five and thirty miles from the land, and the appearance was not unlike that of the English cliffs when one is six or seven miles out I thought at first there must be some optical delusion, but on taking the bearings carefully, and referring to the map, the mystery was explained. The "cliffs" were the high Alpine summits, covered with their eternal snows, distant from the deck of the steamer more than one hundred miles. From my point of view, the whole space really intervening between the sea horizon and these summits had vanished away, and they themselves appeared thrown forward, as it seemed, quite near. They continued, especially two of them, growing higher and higher, slightly illuminated, half an hour after the upper edge of the sun had sunk in the sca, and it was not till five o'clock that they altogether disappeared. Had the steamer left Marseilles an hour earlier, they would no doubt have been visible at even a greater distance. At nine o'clock on new year's morning we sighted Minorca, and during the day were passing through the channel which separates that island from Majorca. While about two leagues off the former, we were met by the packet from Algiers, the first vessel we had seen since quitting the shores of France, as the ordinary course of ships proceeding up or down the Mediterranean lies to the south of the Balearic islands.



At sunset we lost sight of Majorca, being then about one hundred and fifty miles from Algiers, in the harbour of which we dropped our anchor at nine o'clock, on the 2d of January, after a prosperous voyage of forty-four hours.

The town of Algiers, on approaching it from the north, looks at a distance as if it stood on a kind of platform let down from a high range of hills behind. This apparent peninsula is the Sahel, a mountainous boss, which immediately backs the town, and the high range behind is the Northern or Lesser Atlas, as it is commonly although not very properly called. Between the Sahel and the Atlas is an extensive plain, the Metidja, the concealment of which from the eye of a spectator approaching the land causes the optical deception just noticed. I had heard a great deal of the beauty of the coup d'œil, and was a little disappointed at not recognising at once the truth of the Arab comparison of Algiers to a diamond set in a frame of emerald. But that idea, as I afterwards found, was suggested by the distant view of the town from the east, when the dazzling white of the houses, all massed together, contrasts strikingly with the luxuriant vegetation of early spring. Neither the direction in which I had approached, nor the season of the year, allowed the production of this effect. The houses in the immediate neighbourhood of the sea are all built by the French in the style



of architecture to which they are accustomed, with large windows opening on the street, and green blinds outside, as different as possible from the whitewashed wall, pierced with one or two loopholes, which characterises the external appearance of the Moorish dwellings. The aspect of the hills around seemed very little different from the opposite shore of the Mediterranean; but they were studded with white specks of villages and country houses as far as the eye could reach, and, not being aware that many of these were ruins, I concluded that I was about to enter a thickly peopled and prosperous country. A number of boats, each with a barefooted Moor in it, surrounded the steamer; and as soon as the official of the Sanitary Board, whose visits are not dispensed with in any case, had pronounced a favourable verdict, I was conveyed in one to the neighbourhood of the Porte de la Marine, and landed on the quay amid a crowd which seemed, both to eye and ear, composed of every nation under heaven. Half-naked negroes from Biskra, and swarthy Arabs from the more immediate neighbourhood, contended with figures in European costume, but of no lighter complexion, for the honour of carrying my portmanteau, and urged their respective claims in Arabic, Spanish, Italian, Provençal, and English. A single Frenchman appeared,-the commissionaire of the hotel to which I was bound. Making myself over to the

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