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CULTIVATION OF SUGAR.
anything but a luxury. The sugar-cane may also be seen. It is a favourite idea of enthusiastic Algerians to establish sugar plantations in Biskra and the neighbouring oases, and cultivate them by means of negroes redeemed from the warlike tribes further south. This proceeding is strenuously advocated in the newspapers of Algiers on motives of humanity, as being an admirable device for preventing the murder of prisoners of war; and the astounding ignorance of the principles of political economy which prevails in Algeria allows one to indulge the charitable hope that the writers of the articles may be in earnest.
But of all the contents of the Jardin d'Essai the most pleasing to the ordinary visitor is an avenue composed of date palms and dwarf palms alternately. It presents the appearance of a beautiful colonnade of about 450 yards long. I was struck with the ample clusters of dates hanging from the trees. Large yellow stalks rise up among the leaves all round, and bending over divide into a profusion of bunches. The fruit, however, does not ripen satisfactorily north of the Atlas, and the dates with which the market of Algiers is supplied all come from Biskra. Almost all the camels which one sees have been employed in bringing them.
After proceeding as far as "Le Ruisseau," a point on the road where a brook coming from the hills is employed in turning a mill, the road takes a more
LINE OF MILITARY CAMPS.
southerly direction, and begins to ascend the Sahel by graduated terraces, like those of the Birkadem and the Dely Ibrahim routes, until it reaches Kouba, a village between six and seven miles from Algiers. Here, again, an excellent view of the town and harbour is obtained. In the early part of the French occupation, the safety of the immediate neighbourhood was secured by a line of fortified camps, at Kouba, Birkadem, Dely Ibrahim, and Tixerain, a place between the two last named. The routes already described connected Algiers directly with the first three, and their communication with one another was effected by a cross road of a less elaborate construction. This still exists between Kouba and Birkadem; but Tixerain is now left in the rear of a more extended line, which goes as far south as Saoula, and then, turning to the north-west, passes through Drahria to Dely Ibrahim. It is quite practicable for wheeled carriages until near Drahria, when its condition becomes as bad as that of one of the fen tracks in Cambridgeshire. This probably arises from the circumstance of a fortified camp (which subsequently became a village) having been established still further to the south, at Douera. The maintenance of the roads within the new line of communication becoming unnecessary, money was no longer spent in keeping them up; and in Algeria no route survives neglect for any length of time.
The village of Saoula is almost exclusively inhabited by Spaniards, whose constitutions offer greater resistance than those of the French to the fevers which still prevail and which at first decimated the settlers. The population of Drahria is also mainly Spanish, but there are some few French among them, one of whom keeps a café, although he himself is a farmer. The day I visited the village the whole population, my host included, were at work in the fields, with the exception of one man who took my horse. The wife of the café-keeper seemed a very intelligent and active She had come to Africa as lady's-maid to an officer's wife, and had married a fellow-servant. Her husband had been offered some land as a concession, but preferred to rent what he held, which was ready cleared and in a healthy situation. She seemed perfectly contented, and was loud in her praises of the fertility of the soil, which produces not only cereals and garden-stuff, but very fair wine. The village was originally surrounded with a loop-holed wall, but the security of the last ten years has caused this to disappear, leaving only the town gates still standing to testify to its former necessity.
On the site of the camp at Kouba a large church of a very imposing character is in course of erection. It stands on elevated ground, and is built with a cupola. Fortunately, in the immediate neighbourhood is a quarry of stone well adapted for architectural
FAILURE OF AGRICULTURAL COLONY.
purposes. This church is to form a part of the great diocesan seminary for the clergy, and is connected with a missionary college of the Pères Lazaristes and a school conducted by the sisters of the religious order of St. Vincent de Paul. The whole of these establishments are at present in a provisional state, the buildings intended for their reception being yet far from completion.
About a mile from the camp an agricultural village was established by the Duke de Rovigo, and a few houses still remain; but the attempt entirely failed, after it had given rise to steps which were highly prejudicial to the relations between the French and the natives. The panic produced in Algiers by the invasion, and still more by the arbitrary measures which followed it, not only caused many of the Moorish inhabitants of the town to emigrate, but induced several of the agricultural Arabs of the vicinity to abandon their lands. It happened just at this time that 500 or 600 Germans and Swiss, who had come to Havre with the design of crossing to America, suddenly changed their minds and proceeded to Algiers, where they arrived for the most part in a state of destitution. The Duke thought this an excellent opportunity for attempting the establishment of an agricultural colony, and made choice of Dely Ibrahim and Kouba for the experiment. At Kouba there was a farm belonging to a sequestrated mosque, and at
DISGRACEFUL CONDUCT OF LAND JOBBERS.
Dely Ibrahim some lands which had been held by the now suppressed janissaries. Taking these properties as the foundation of his scheme, he increased them by seizing the abandoned lands in the neighbourhood; leaving it at the same time free to the owners of these to establish their claims and obtain some compensation. The consequences of this rash step showed themselves immediately. The natives, despairing of any substantial justice, sold their rights for the merest trifle to Europeans, who made use of their purchase solely for the purpose of compelling the Government to buy off their opposition to its measures. some officials took advantage of the opportunity for enriching themselves afforded by a measure which issued in the irritation of the natives, the corruption of their masters, and the destruction of the poor colonists. Twenty per cent. of these perished from want and misery before their location was effected, in spite of the aid of the state, which was extended to them to the amount of more then £8,000. The Duke was so annoyed at the ill success of his experiment that he had an official notice published, prohibiting any colonist from landing in Algiers if not in possession of sufficient funds to maintain himself for a twelvemonth. "Unhappily," says a contemporary witness of what followed, "there was still free access to the colony for land-jobbers and lawyers, money-lenders and prostitutes!"