Page images
[blocks in formation]

those one enjoys in skirting the gulf of Spezzia. But the softness of the soil has here, as almost everywhere in Algeria, been fatal to the preservation of the route, which is so injured by the rains that a humane man will be tempted to get out of his carriage in going up hill, and a prudent one in going down, at a dozen different places. It descends on the shore, at a little distance outside the fortifications on the north side of the town, close by the military hospital which has been already mentioned. The other road runs southward for four or five miles, till it strikes the highway from Algiers to Cheragas, Staoueli, and Koleah, which is one of the very best in the whole country.

Returning from Bouzarieh to Algiers by this route, the traveller will nearly follow the course of the French army, when, after the action of the 29th of June, they proceeded to invest the Fort of the Emperor. Very soon after reaching the highway, he will pass through El Biar, a collection of houses not altogether unlike an English village. There are several villas in the immediate neighbourhood, and it is a favourite resort of the Algerine aristocracy. A mile further, and the Fort of the Emperor is seen on the right hand,—the key of Algiers, which lies at its feet, and could be destroyed from it with perfect ease. It is now a strong fortification, but at the time of the invasion was merely an oblong square, with a large round tower in the middle, and a double wall on the



south side, altogether devoid of outworks, although dominated by higher hills in the immediate neighbourhood. On two of these, opposite to the south and the west sides of the fort, the French constructed their batteries of attack. The trenches were commenced on the 30th of June, and on the 4th of July, at four o'clock in the morning, fire was opened simultaneously on the south side from a battery of six guns, and on the west from ten guns, two howitzers, and four mortars. At eight o'clock the Turkish fire, which at first had been very vigorous, began to slacken; at ten it was silenced, the guns of the fort nearly all dismounted, and the parapets entirely destroyed. General Lahitte, who conducted the siege, now gave the order to lay the guns for making a breach, when suddenly a terrible explosion was heard, and a thick cloud of smoke enveloped the fort. The Turks, unable to resist the attack of the invaders, had retired to the Kazbah after laying a train to the magazine of the Fort. As soon as this was ascertained, the French scaled the walls; and by means of only two field-pieces, assisted by the fire of three Turkish guns that remained uninjured, speedily silenced Fort Bab-Azoun, from which, as well as from the Kazbah, a fire had been kept up on them during the attack on the Fort of the Emperor. They then established themselves on a mamelon-the site of the Fort of the Tagarins-situated less than



200 yards from the Kazbah, and were proceeding to form communications between this and the Fort of the Emperor, when the Dey sent his chief secretary, Mustapha, to the French general, with an offer to pay the expenses of the expedition, and to satisfy the whole of the French demands upon him as the price of peace. Bourmont replied that the surrender of Algiers was a necessary preliminary of any negotiation, and the secretary returned, after making the extraordinary proposition to the French general to assassinate the Dey and set up the Finance Minister (a patron of his own) in his place. From the new sovereign, he asserted, the French would obtain a better bargain than the existing one had proposed.

It was now eleven o'clock at night; the terrified people, fearing that the town would be taken by storm and plundered, tumultuously demanded a capitulation; and at half-past one in the morning, two new messengers arrived, one of whom was a Moor that had long resided in Marseilles. They were presently followed by the chief secretary, this time accompanied by the English Consul. A capitulation was drawn up, and accepted by the Dey; and by noon the next day,-only three weeks after the landing at Sidi Ferudje,—the French army occupied the citadel and town of Algiers, which they have ever since retained.




THE beautifully-traced road by which the traveller descends from the Fort of the Emperor to the Fauxbourg Bab-Azoun (the southern extremity of Algiers), was constructed by the army under the Duke de Rovigo (General Savary) during his short administration of the province in 1832. In its formation, as well as in that of the esplanade outside the Bab-elOued, it was necessary to destroy a Moorish cemetery; and this proceeding, which under any circumstances would have shocked Mahometan feelings, was conducted with such disregard of all decency, that even the French civilians were scandalized. No provision was made for the re-interment of the partially decomposed remains; and when the engineer's line passed, as was often the case, through the middle of a grave, one half of the skeleton was left exposed to view in the bank, while the other part was carted away with the earth that had to be removed, to form an embankment a little further off.



Another branch of the road descends upon the esplanade just mentioned, and is no less admirable as a work of engineering. It was finished by General Voirol, the great road-maker among the governors of Algeria, in the year 1834; and then, for the first time, it became possible to make the circuit of Algiers in a wheeled carriage. The descent in both these branches is at the uniform pitch of one in twenty, and great pains have been taken to provide means for carrying off the water which falls in the rainy season. General Voirol extended this road southwards for nearly fifteen miles beyond the point where its two branches meet, through the villages of Dely Ibrahim and Douera, to the very verge of the plain of the Metidja, at an Arab settlement called Ouled-Mendil. It was subsequently prolonged as far as Blidah, on the other side of the plain; and the part constructed by Voirol is undoubtedly the best, as well as the most important, of all the Algerian routes.

Another road, no less admirably traced, but in worse condition, quits Algiers by the Bab-Azoun, and winds up the Sahel through the village of Mustapha, a charming situation, where some of the principal French functionaries have country houses, which are for the most part old Moorish villas. Mustapha is only about a mile and a half from Algiers. The plain which lies beneath, between the hill and the sea, is partly occupied by some cavalry barracks, in which

« PreviousContinue »