Page images



disposal of this functionary, and freighting two Maltese with my baggage, I mounted the ascent which, no long time back, had been trodden by thousands of Christian captives; assured the Custom-house officer at the top that I was importing no eggs, poultry, bread, fruit, or other article subject to octroi; and after a walk of about five minutes under arcades something like those of the streets in Bern, emerged upon a handsome place, on the opposite side of which I recognised the Hotel d'Orient. This had attracted my attention from the deck of the Kabyle by its obviously good situation and its name blazoned in letters of two feet long upon the cornice of its façade. I found, however, that the "hotel" only commenced with the third story of the edifice, that there were no bedrooms lower than the fourth, and that on this all were occupied; and I was obliged to content myself with a small chamber and dressing-room on the fifth floor, which, in fact, consisted of a few apartments built above the original roof of the house. In three or four days, however, the departure of some guests placed a good-sized room on the floor below at my disposal, and in it I found myself sufficiently comfortable to remain for two months.

The paucity of good hotel accommodation is a serious drawback to Algiers as a residence for invalids, especially where the lungs are supposed to be affected. The Hotel d'Orient is in the best situation, and the

[blocks in formation]

rooms are airy and with an excellent aspect. Mine looked to the East, across the bay, upon Cape Matifou. Beyond this appeared the point of land behind which lay Dellys and the hills of the Great Kabylie, among which rose one or two peaks of Djerjera, the highest summits of the Northern Atlas, covered with eternal snow. In front was the harbour of Algiers, and just to the left the rock, once an island and now connected with the main by a causeway of stone, on which the lighthouse stands. Immediately below I looked down on the Place Royale, an irregular shaped esplanade, of which the side towards the sea, closed only by a dwarf balustrade, serves as the rendezvous of the trading community, as well as the promenade of the fashionables of Algiers. Here a new comer finds an ample fund of amusement for the trouble of only looking out of his window. Arabs in their white bournouses, Jews in their bagging knee-breeches and blue-black turbans, Moorish women enveloped in white veils and white trowsers, leaving no part of their persons visible but the eyes and the stockingless feet, are mixed up in a dense throng with cloaked Spaniards, Zouaves, French officers, and ladies in the newest Parisian costume. A military band plays in the Place two or three days in the week, and troops are often paraded there. But these attractions are soon more than compensated by the fatigue of having to mount so high, which in



some cases of ailment would be impossible. But in this respect the Hotel de la Régence and the Maison Garnie, over the Café d'Apollon, which alone are equal to the Hotel d'Orient in situation, are no better. The Hotel de Paris is well managed and the charges reasonable; but there is not an apartment in it from which a view of the sea can be obtained. It is, however, less lofty than the others. A new house, the Hotel de l'Europe, is clean, and for a decided invalid is perhaps the most to be recommended; but the charges are very high, and the situation inconvenient. An Englishman of the name of Thurgar has likewise established a boarding-house about a mile out of the town. Nowhere, however, as far as I could learn, would an invalid find the comforts that await him in the towns of Southern Europe which are resorted to for the sake of their climate. The best course for such a one would be to bring with him one or two confidential servants, and to hire a furnished house in the neighbourhood. Apartments are rare, but they also are to be had occasionally in good situations. I would recommend any Englishman in want of them to state his need to M. Lary, a pâtissier in the Rue Bab-Azoun, whose skill in his art is only surpassed by his civility and attention to his customers, and from whom they will gain information of any rooms likely to be vacant. The porter at the Hotel de la Régence likewise keeps



a list of lodgings to be let, and so do some of the shopkeepers in the town; but a good deal of caution is requisite before engaging anything, especially if the hirer has a lady in his party.

There is usually a great deal of rain at Algiers during the months of November, December, January, and February; in the present year the two latter months followed the ordinary rule. In January there were sixteen, and in February seventeen days upon which rain fell. But of these there were very few in which it was not possible to take exercise out of doors for a considerable time. A storm generally gives some notice of its approach if the barometer is consulted. I never found the aneroid which I used-one constructed by Lerebour and Secretan of Paris-fail to give me warning, although it did once or twice raise a false alarm. It was my habit to observe it, and the dry and wet bulbs of a psychrometric thermometer by the same manufacturers, four times a day, at 8 A.M. and 2, 6, and 11 P.M.; and I soon became enough of a weather-prophet to take long walks and rides in the neighbourhood without ever getting more than one wetting, which after all I should have escaped had I not unfortunately had a sluggish horse, and forgotten to put on spurs on leaving home. There is very little of the drizzling wet weather to which we are accustomed in England. The rain, when it falls at all, falls in pailfuls, ploughing deep furrows



in the soft friable stone of the steep hills which surround Algiers, and washing away the unmetalled roads which wind up them. On a level, the immediate result is the production of a deep soft mud, in which one sinks above the ankles. But a very few hours of sun dry up the soil, and a day or two converts the mud to dust. Between the periods of storm rains, too, there is generally an interval of two or three days of quite settled weather; and during these, excursions may be made to a distance of thirty or thirty-five miles even by a valetudinarian. Before the end of February I had crossed the Metidja in four different directions, and had traversed on foot or on horseback every portion of the Sahel, the hilly country of the Littoral, which separates the Metidja from the sea. The temperature of the atmosphere was that of an English May or June. On most days I could sit writing or reading in my room with the window open without feeling in the least chilly, although there was no carpet, and nothing to keep my feet from the stuccoed floor but a small mat made of the halfa-grass. The greatest observed height of the thermometer in my apartment during the month of January was 62° Fahrenheit, the lowest 54°, and the greatest variation in any one day only 7°. This occurred on the 5th of the month; and on no other day did the variation amount to 5°. In February the greatest observed height was 66°, the lowest 56°, and

« PreviousContinue »