Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

ing at Mequinez, was, whether the emperor was stirring, and in a good or bad humour? As this prince was a great admirer of architecture, and employed many thousands in works of that kind, if he did not approve the plan of the performance, it was usual for him to show the delicacy of his taste, by demolishing the building, and putting to death all that had a hand in it. I have heard but of one instance of his mercy; which was shown to the master of an English vessel. This, our countryman, presented him with a curious hatchet, which he received very graciously; and, asking him whether it had a good edge, tried it upon the donor, who, slipping aside from the blow, escaped with the loss only of his right ear; for old Muley, upon second thoughts, considered it was not one of his own subjects, stopped his hand, and would not send him to paradise. I cannot quit this article of his tenderness for the lives of his people, without mentioning one of his queens, whom he was remark ably fond of; as also a favourite prime minister, who was very dear to him. The first died by a kick of her lord the king, when she was big with child, for having gathered a flower as she was walking with him in his pleasure garden. The other was bastinadoed to death by his majesty; who, repenting of the drubs he had given him when it was too late, to manifest his esteem for the memory of so worthy a man, executed the surgeon that could not cure him.

This absolute monarch was as notable a guardian of the fortunes, as of the lives, of his subjects. When any man among his people grew rich, in order to keep him from being dangerous to the state, he used to send for all his goods and chattels. His governors of towns and provinces, who formed themselves upon the example of their grand monarque, practised rapine, violence, extortion, and all the arts of despotic government in their respective districts, that they might be the better enabled to make him their yearly presents. For the greatest of his viceroys could oply propose to

himself a comfortable subsistence out of the plunder of his province, and was in certain danger of being recalled or hanged, if he did not remit the bulk of it to his dread sovereign. That he might make a right use of these prodigious treasures, which flowed into him from all parts of his wide empire, he took care to bury them under ground, by the hands of his most trusty slaves, and then cut their throats, as the most effectual method to keep them from making discoveries. These were his ways and means for raising money, by which he weakened the hands of the factions, and, in any case of emergency, could employ the whole wealth of his empire, which he had thus amassed together in his subterraneous exchequer.

As there is no such thing as property under an arbitrary government, you may learn what was Muley Ishmael's notion of it from the following story. Being upon the road, amidst his life-guards, a little before the time of the Ram-feast, he met one of his alcaids at the head of his servants, who were driving a great flock of sheep to market. The emperor asked whose they were: the alcaid answered, with profound submission, "They are mine, O Ishmael, son of Elcherif, of the line of Hassan.' Thine! thou son of a cuckold,' said this servant of the Lord, 'I thought I had been the only proprietor in this country;' upon

which he run him through the body with his lance, and very piously distributed the sheep among his guards, for the celebration of the feast.

His determinations of justice between mạn and man were, indeed, very summary and decisive, and generally put an end to the vexations of a law-suit

, by the ruin both of plaintiff and defendant. Travellers have recorded some samples of this kind, which may give us an idea of the blessings of his administration. One of his alcaids, complaining to him of a wife, whom he had received from his majesty's hands, and, therefore, could not divorce her, that she used to pull him by the beard; the emperor, to redress this grievance, ordered his beard to be plucked up by the roots, that he might not be liable to any more such affronts. А country farmer having accused some of his negro guards for robbing him of a drove of oxen, the emperor readily shot the offenders; but afterwards demanding reparation of the accuser, for the loss of so many brave fellows, and, finding him insolvent, compounded the matter with him by taking away his life. There are many other instances of the same kind. I must observe, however, under this head, that the only good thing he is celebrated for, during his whole reign, was the clearing of the roads and highways of robbers, with which they used to be very much infested. But his method was to slay man, woman, and child, who lived within a certain distance from the place where the robbery was committed. This extraordinary piece of justice could not but have its effect, by making every road in his empire unsafe for the profession of a freebooter.

I must not omit this emperor's reply to Sir Cloudsly Shovel, who had taken several of his subjects, by way of reprisal, for the English captives that were detained in his dominions. Upon the admiral's offering to exchange them on very advantageous terms, this good emperor sent him word,' the subjects he had taken were poor men, not worth the ransoming; and that he might throw them overboard, or' destroy them otherwise as he pleased.

Such was the government of Muley Ishmael, the servant of God, the emperor of the faithful, who was courageous in the way of the Lord, the noble, the good.'

To conclude this account, which is extracted from the best authorities, I shall only observe, that he was a great admirer of his late most Christian Majesty. In a letter to him, he compliments him with the title of 'Sovereign arbiter of the actions and wills of his people.' And in a book published by a Frenchman, who was sent to bim as an ambassador, is the following passage: *He is absolute in his states, and often compares him

self to the Emperor of France, who, he says, is the only person that knows how to reign like himself, and to make his will the law.'

This was that emperor of France, to whom the person, who has a great mind to be king of these realms, owed his education, and from whom he learned his notions of government. What should hinder one, whose mind is so well seasoned with such prepossessions, from attempting to copy after his patron, in the exercise of such a power; especially considering that the party who espouse his interest, never fail to compliment a prince that distributes all his places among them, with unlimited power on his part, and unconditional obedience on that of his subjects.

No. 11. FRIDAY, JANUARY 27.

Honi soit qui mal y pense. By our latest advices, both from town and country; it appears, that the ladies of Great Britain, who are able to bear arms, that is, to smile or frown to any purpose, have already begun to commit hostilities upon the men of each opposite party. To this end we are assured, that many of them on both sides exercise before their .glasses every morning; that they have already cashiered several of their followers as mutineers, who have contradicted them in some political conversations; and that the Whig ladies, in particular, design, very soon, to have a general review of their forces, at a play bespoken by one of their leaders. This set of ladies, indeed, as they daily do duty at court, are much more expert in the use of their airs and graces than their female antagonists, who are most of them bred in the country: so that the sisterhood of loyalists, in respect of the fair malecontents, are like an army of regular forces, compared with a raw undisciplined militia.

It is to this misfortune in their education that we may ascribe the rude and opprobrious language with which the disaffected part of the sex treat the present royal family. A little lively rustic, who hath been trained up in ignorance and prejudice, will prattle treason a whole winter's evening, and string together a parcel of silly seditious stories, that are equally void of decency and truth. Nay, you sometimes meet with a zealous matron who sets up for the pattern of a parish, uttering such invectives as are highly misbecoming her, both as a woman and a subject. In answer, therefore, to such disloyal termagants, I shall repeat to them a speech of the honest and blunt Duke du Sully to an assembly of popish ladies, who were railing very bitterly against Henry the Fourth, at his accession to the French throne; 'Ladies,' said he, ‘you have a very good king, if you know when you are well. However, set your hearts at rest, for he is not a man to be scolded or scratched out of his kingdom.'

But as I never care to speak of the fair sex, unless I have an occasion to praise them, I shall take my leave of these ungentle damsels; and only beg of them, not to make themselves less amiable than nature designed them, by being rebels to the best of their abilities, and endeavouring to bring their country into bloodshed and confusion. Let me, therefore, recommend to them the example of those beautiful associates, whom I mentioned in my eighth paper, as I have received the particulars of their behaviour from the person with whom I lodged their association.

This association, being written at length, in a large roll of the finest vellum, with three distinct columns for the maids, wives, and widows, was opened for the subscribers near a fortnight ago. Never was a subscription for å raffling or an opera more crowded. There is scarce a celebrated beauty about town that you may not find in one of the three lists; insomuch,

« ForrigeFortsæt »