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ANCIENT REMAINS EXCAVATED.
to be made for the exaggeration of Oriental writers, it must not be forgotten that the ancients, when they had the funds, set no bounds to their expenditure on public buildings. Icosium was a colony with the Latin franchise, fixed in the midst of a Berber population, and doubtless endowed with lands which had been taken from these, and which they continued to cultivate as villeins. On the destruction of Roman civilisation, they naturally recovered possession; and it is probably their union with the Arab invaders that has given a peculiar character to the idiom spoken in Algiers and the immediate neighbourhood,-which, both in pronunciation and vocabulary, differs much from the Arabic of the country only a few miles off. The remains of the Roman town, whatever their extent eight hundred years ago, have since that time disappeared. Excavations occasionally bring to light a mosaic pavement, a stone chair, a hand-mill, or the fragment of a statue; and cut stones, obviously removed from their original position, are frequently seen in the foundations of Moorish buildings; but the only monument which seems to be remaining in situ is a bas-relief over a gateway in the island, in a style indicating a very late period of art.
The greater portion of the Moorish town is contained within the triangular area, which, rising from a base formed by the streets of Bab-el-Oued and Bab-Azoun, leans upon the steep hill immediately
THE FAUXBOURG BAB-AZOUN.
in face of the sea, the vertex of the triangle being formed by the Kazbah, or citadel, which stands at a height of nearly four hundred feet. The whole of this space lies within the Moorish walls, which still remain on the two upper sides of the triangle. One of them, that to the south-east, is still pierced by an ancient gateway; but the Water Gate and the Gate of Grief no longer remain. The latter received its name from the circumstance of offenders condemned to capital punishment being executed by throwing them on iron hooks which protruded from the walls by its side; and when the French marched into Algiers, they found rotting on the top the heads of the unfortunate crews of two brigs of war, which had formed part of their blockading squadron and been driven ashore in a storm. The gate itself was then cleared away, together with the Moorish buildings in the vicinity, and beyond it a new Fauxbourg has been since built, composed entirely of European houses. In this a handsome corn-market has been erected for the use of the agricultural tribes of the neighbourhood, who bring their produce thither; and strangers, whose time is limited, will see much in a small space by visiting it at an early hour in the morning, as well as a caravanserai which is immediately opposite. In the latter they will find a picturesque assemblage of camels, mules, and asses, laden with all kinds of produce, and natives of every variety of complexion, most
of them sleeping, a few smoking, and some calling in the aid of the native smith to repair the shoes of their animals. The form of these, as well as of the implements which are used, has, no doubt, remained the same for centuries; and it is very curious to watch the way in which the operator manages his fire so as to consume as little fuel-generally the root of the dwarf palm-as is possible in effecting his task.
Several streets rise from the level of the Rue Babel-Oued and Rue Bab-Azoun, converging more and more as they ascend the hill, until they meet in the immediate vicinity of the Kazbah. The steepness of the ascent would prevent the use of a carriage in these, even if they were wide enough to admit one; but, in point of fact, there is not one broader than the Rows of Yarmouth, and most are even narrower. The principal one, which bears the name of the Street of the Kazbah, is cut in steps. Lateral alleys here and there connect these main lines with one another; but the whole forms a labyrinth, out of which it is impossible for the puzzled European to find his way, except by remembering that if he mounts he will be sure in time to arrive at the citadel, and if he descends, no less certain ultimately to reach the sea. I do not believe that one person in a hundred, if conducted to the highest part of the town and then left to himself, would succeed in returning by the same
INTERIOR OF HOUSES.
course by which he had come. The sides of the streets are in general simply dead walls, with here and there a loop-hole above and a closed door below, the houses exhibiting no more individuality than the sheep of a flock. At the height of the first story, wooden corbels are sometimes seen supporting a second one, likewise with its dead wall, which approaches even nearer than the floor below to the opposite tenement. Sometimes, especially in the cross alleys, the houses actually meet at the top, and the street becomes a mere arch. As you toil along it for the first time, not without some feeling of uneasiness at observing yourself the only European among a crowd of strange figures, of whose language you do not understand a word, you perhaps meet a troop of asses loaded with baskets of sand, and followed by a half-naked savage, whose looks do him injustice if he would feel any scruple in felling you with the cudgel he is employing upon the wretched brutes from whose frantic rush you despair of escaping. Of course you conclude that you have taken a wrong turn, and got into a very disagreeable neighbourhood. But this is altogether an error. There is, perhaps, a door standing open in the invariable dead wall. Look in, and you will see a charming court, surrounded by an arcade of marble columns. In the middle is a fountain, or perhaps some beautiful tree, such as in England we only find in the hot-house of a millionaire.
SPLENDOUR OF INTERIORS.
Passing under the arcade on a tesselated floor, you find a staircase, of which both the stairs and walls are covered with encaustic tiles, and which conducts to an open gallery, likewise running round the court. From this you may enter the chambers of the mansion, not by opening a door, but by simply withdrawing a curtain which masks the approach to each; and in these you will see both the extent to which Oriental luxury can be carried, and the taste with which it adapts itself to the conditions of the climate. The floors are invariably of stucco or encaustic tiles : round the walls, which are painted in arabesques, run sofas covered with rich silk hangings and embroidered with gold. Elegantly carved tables stand here and there, covered with knick-knacks of native workmanship, such as gold or silver essence boxes, fans made of ostrich feathers, and ostrich eggs carved in devices or suspended in a network of twisted gold and silk thread. The main light comes through the door by which you have entered from the open gallery; sometimes there is no other whatever; but when there is it proceeds from a narrow slit culminating in an ogee arch, and filled with elaborate stone tracery, through which a single sunbeam finds its way in a fragmentary state. These windows are made like the embrasures in a fortification, and contracted on the outer face of the wall to the simple loopholes which strike the eye of a stranger.