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than the route. The scenery is something between that of Herefordshire and North Wales, the colouring of the sandstone rock and the rich vegetation reminding one of the former, and the precipitous character of the mountain forms of the latter. Wherever there is sufficiently flat space for trees to take root, the ravines are richly wooded; but in most parts there is room for only the lentisque. The narrowest part of the gorge is just above a post station where a little brook, called the Ruisseau des Singes from the large number of monkeys which haunt it, falls into the Chiffa. Here the perpendicular walls of rock are a very few yards apart, and it requires some nerve to sit in a carriage while passing along the narrow road which overhangs the abyss below; although, as the horses which draw you wear no blinkers, you have an additional security for yourself in their natural instincts. Still, one wishes for a parapet, which is in general dispensed with, as its existence would involve the widening the road, and the extreme steepness of the rocks necessitates the removal of many tons of their sides for every additional inch of road-way. The greatest danger, however, arises not from the narrowness of the route, but from the softness of the rock out of which it is cut. Long after rain, streamlets spring here and there from the sides of the cutting, and it is no easy matter to dispose of these, and get them across the twenty feet or so which intervene between the bottom of the



cliff from which they issue and the ravine, without their doing mischief by the way. After every shower, in spite of all provision which has been made, the margin of the road is full of large notches cut by the running waters, like those which the knife of an idle school-boy leaves in the edge of his desk. The cantonniers are on the look-out for these gaps, and build them up with a pile of large flat stones, which are soon ground into a condition of stability by the passing traffic. Some rain had fallen the night before I left Médéah, and the wheels of the coach, while descending the terraces of the gorge, passed over several of these corbel-like patches where two days before the road had been apparently quite sound. If there were to be any remission of diligence on the part of the watchers, the most fearful accidents might happen, and no intelligence of the particulars would reach the world. Down would go horses, carriage, and traveller, into the bed of the Chiffa, far away from any European habitation. In the course of the day, some Arab fishermen or shepherds would perhaps light upon the wreck, when in their quiet impassive way they would collect the fragments of harness and ironwork, with the remark "Allah kerim" (God is merciful), and leave the mutilated corpses to be devoured by the jackals.

On leaving the gorge of the Chiffa, carobs, almond trees, and wild olives of great size are seen. After quitting the valley of the river altogether, the road

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continues to ascend in a general westerly direction, and attains its highest point about half a mile before arriving at Médéah. I estimated the col over which we passed at about 2,961 feet above the level of the sea, and 2,490 above Blidah. Soon after leaving

the valley of the Chiffa, at about 1,900 feet above the sea level, the soil assumes a rather mud-like character, and continues to present this appearance for nearly a mile. I observed the same phenomenon on the way from Oran to Maskara, in the western province, at nearly the same height above the sea, and apparently of about the same thickness, viz. 150 or 160 feet. It also appeared on the road into Great Kabylie, but at a much lower elevation, viz. not more than 850 feet. I was told, in the case of that at Maskara, that the soil was considerably impregnated with salt. This I had no means of ascertaining; to the eye the appearance was that of simple mud, exactly like the deposit through which the South-Eastern Railway is carried in the neighbourhood of New Cross, the loose texture of which caused an accident on a large scale when the line was first opened, and necessitated the expenditure of much money to prevent a recurrence of the mischief.

Médéah, which is placed just on the southern incline of the first ridge of the Atlas, is a military position of considerable importance to the conquerors. They have occupied it permanently since 1840; but it



had been in their hands three times before. The events of that year and of 1839 showed that, so long as it remained under the Arabs, there could be no permanent security for the settlers in the Metidja, or even for those in the Phaz of Algiers. On the 2d of November, 1839, the Duke d'Orleans entered Algiers at the head of an army which, under the guidance of Marshal Valée, had performed the feat of marching from Constantine by land, through the pass of the Biban, or Iron Gates. This exploit was only intended, like the fortification of Paris by M. Guizot, "faire un effet moral," and it was achieved by the co-operation of the commandant of Bougie, who had been instructed to make some movements to draw upon himself the attention of the native tribes that would otherwise have opposed the transit of the army. But although the success was as empty as that of the celebrated German campaign of Caligula, the enthusiasm was as great. The whole of the soldiers were feasted in public on the esplanade of the Bab-el-Oued; the conquest of Algeria was proclaimed complete; a palm branch, plucked (as was said) at the gorge of the pass, was presented in the name of the army to the Duke; and the official newspapers declared that the time of difficulty was at last at an end, and France about to receive the glorious recompense of her labours. The Duke returned to Paris at the conclusion of these festivities, and three days after

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wards, on the 10th of November, the war broke out, which in a couple of months swept every European settler out of the Metidja, and obliged the French to draw in their outposts, and devote all their strength to the maintaining four fortified camps,* the communication of which with one another and with Algiers was continually interrupted. The plain was invaded simultaneously from the east, west, and south. In the first-mentioned quarter, the Kabyles, keeping the forts of Fonduck and Kara-Mustapha blockaded, advanced as far as Birkadem and the Jardin d'Essai. Blidah was so distressed for want of provisions, that many of the native inhabitants, although well affected to the French, were expelled from the town, as the sole alternative of their dying of hunger. In the spring of 1840 the French had collected a sufficient force to resume the offensive, and on the 12th of May a pitched battle with Abdel-Kader resulted in giving them the possession of Médéah, which they entered on the 17th, and found deserted of all its inhabitants. The present town is almost entirely new. It consists of extensive barracks, a military hospital, which makes up about 500 beds, and a few houses, the whole surrounded by a loophole enceinte. The ancient aqueduct which supplied the town with water still exists, but it is the only

* These were L'Arbâ, Blidah, Fonduck, and Kara-Mustapha, about four miles to the east-north-east of Fonduck.

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