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FOR FEBRUARY, 1848.
A BRIEF SKETCH OF ABD-EL-KADER. The recent submission of this extraordinary African has excited an interest so vivid, that a brief sketch of him may not be considered unattractive, though possibly it may be late ; yet even still it may in some degree engage attention, or gratify curiosity,--the more so as the details are not generally accessible, and few particulars concerning his personal history have yet transpired.
The deposed chieftain, though his features do not indicate it, is an •Arab of pure descent. His father, Mahi-Aden, was a redoubted leader of a western tribe, and his mother, Zorah-Sidih, is said to have been a woman not only of high caste and rare ability, but also one of the few cultivated females whom Arabia in modern days has produced. She is supposed to have indulged even a penchant for the Belles Lettres; and most of the nerve and vigour which her heroic son possessed was undoubtedly derived from her, his father being a personage of no remarkable enterprise or intelligence. Abd-el-Kader thus presents another to the numerous instances already on record, illustrative of the remark that great talents are in general derived from the mother. Napoleon, Sir Walter Scottwho, we believe, made the observation,--and a host of others might be named if not foreign to the purpose. Abd-el-Kader, the most recent exemplification of it
, was born at Mascarah, on the western coast of Africa, in the year 1808; and from the hour of his nativity, if future reports are to be credited, he was a remarkable child. The peasants throughout the vast range of the northern shore of that division of the globe yet declare and believe that a halo surrounded his head at birth; and though the rumour probably is to be traced to his subsequent celebrity, he appears to have been from his infancy considered as a “holy child,” especially designed by the Prophet for great events.
“ Allah! il Allah! blessed be the Prophet!” resounded throughout the harem at his birth; and it is said that the dervishes of the province announced him as the promised child who was to effect the deliverance of the Faithful. He was consequently educated with peculiar care. Several of the modern languages were familiar to him in his infancy; and at twelve years of age he commenced studying statesmanship. His father, from this period, appears to have been neglected in the household ; and when he afterwards became entangled with the Bey of the province at Oran, it was to his son's address that he owed his liberation. The Emir who there presided is said to have been so struck with the youth's intelligence and courage, that he complied with their request, and permitted them to retire to Alexandria.
Mehemet Ali then, as now, governed Egypt; and his vigour and lofty character are said to have made a profound impression on the young Abd-el-Kader, as well as imbued him with a vehement desire to attempt restoring the nationality of his countrymen. The West of Africa was then, as recently, in a state of anarchy; and order was no sooner temporarily restored than again threatened by the inburst of the French. It was in 1830, after Algiers had fallen, that Abd-el-Kader and his father, by the aid of the Pacha, again reappeared in their native country; and the sire being too old or infirm to comply with the desire of
VOL. III.—No. 1,390.
He had pre
the people to assume the post of their leader, the appointment, by his recommendation, devolved upon the son.
This was in 1831 or 1832, when Abd-el-Kader was in the twenty-third or twenty-fourth year of his age; and he immediately evinced all the inherent powers of a general. His quiet, resolute, aspect impressed adherents with hope -his prompt and vigorous measures struck opponents with fear. viously been distinguished by a bold attack on a French detachment, in which, though repulsed, he had displayed equal courage and address, and it soon became evident that he was to be the most formidable opponent the invaders had yet had to encounter. The Dey of Algiers, in the estimation of the natives, had pusillanimously deserted his post, and they disadvantageously contrasted his conduct with the young Emir's
, who, though he had his horse shot under him and was severely injured by its fall, immediately returned to the attack. All the attachment and the prestige which, notwithstanding his barbarities and blunders, had been previously entertained for the chief of the piratical city, were consequently transferred to Abd-el-Kader, and the natives henceforth followed him with confidence implicit.
Their trust and their hope were not misplaced. Since the days of Jugurtha Africa has not produced such a leader. He immediately made the ablest arrangements, military and political ; and while thousands flocked to his banner, induced partly by prophetical predictions, but still more by his already acquired reputation, his father and others preached a new holy war, and the whole country was speedily in revolt. Abd-el-Kader directed his attention in the first instance against a few tribes who had opposed his elevation, and on their reduction he concentrated all his energies against the French.
It were idle now to recapitulate his first encounters. In the course of the years 1832—33 he frequently attacked the enemy, with varied success, being sometimes defeated, but oftener victorious. It was not, however, till towards the end of the latter year that he became generally known to the French, when, having made a vehement inroad to recover the body of a nephew who had been slain in a skirmish preceding, he was noted for the vigour and audacity of his attack. He was unsuccessful ; but his opponents had reason to remember his fiery assault and resolute courage. His peculiar head-dress, sharp sword, and admirable horsemanship, were ever afterwards held by them in respectful recollection, though they at first felt inclined to ridicule the former- a handkerchief or turban, arranged in the form of a cap, and which, descending on his neck in thick folds, amply protected it against any strokes of the scimitar, a weapon which the Arabs mostly use, as well as broke the shock of many a sabre-thrust aimed at him in the melée. The soldiers soon became aware that this outre dress surmounted the arm and the strength of a man; and De Michel, the French general who then commanded, after several similar rencontres, was glad to propose or acquiesce in a pacific convention, in the year 1834.
Abd-el-Kader employed the interval in subduing some of the native chiefs, who resisted his evident design to erect an extensive and independent sultanship in Africa ; and the knowledge or suspicion of this intent, in the following year, induced the French to excite them against his authority; Abd-el-Kader became aware of this; and the truce, to the satisfaction of all parties, was consequently broken early in 1835. But the resumption of hostilities proved less favourable to the Emir than the French. He had scarcely subdued the hostile chiefs Sideh-Aribeh and Ben-Ismael, when the French under General Trezel were on him ; and the subsequent advance of Marshal Clauzel,' in overwhelming force, threatened effectually to crush him. The Arabs, also, encouraged or bought over by the French, deserted him ; a force of a thousand foot-soldiers, disciplined and, it is said, officered by Frenchmen who had entered his service for the purpose during the recent peace, abandoned him in a body; and the lately-vanquished chiefs being reinforced afresh, the condition of the Emir soon became desperate. He with difficulty escaped from his capital, Mascarah, and had the mortification immediately to find it in flames. Trezel followed
advantage with savage barbarity; most of Abd-el-Kader's adherents were either induced to desert him or were destroyed; and the hunted Emir was soon reduced to solitude-almost to despair. For a moment he felt inclined to abandon all as hopeless and return to Egypt; but the voice of patriotism-perhaps of ambition, and the innate sense he appears to have entertained of his destiny, prevailed ; and, courageous again, he resolved to renew the struggle.
A few of his own men who had escaped the French rejoined him; others who had been cajoled and deceived by the invaders, repaired to his standard ; and he was soon again in a condition to take the field. His wife, and mother, and sister, whom he had with difficulty preserved in the recent wreck of his fortune, were again conveyed to a place of safety; and with a few adherents he watched, and as soon as an opportunity occurred, assailed an exploring column of the French. Clauzel, who had imagined all opposition subdued, soon found his advance arrested, and communications menaced. It was near Tafnah where this unexpected interruption occurred; and the marshal, finding the route blocked up, retraced his course. But he was not permitted to do so with impunity; Abd-el-Kader assailed him in flank, sometimes even threatened him in front, again appeared in his rear; whether he advanced, or retrograded, or remained still, continually harassed him; and after numerous sanguinary encounters, ultimately compelled him to fall back upon his original position at Tlem
Abd-el-Kader pursued his advantage. The tribes of the desert having been attracted to his banner by the sound of his recent achievements, he, early in April, deemed himself sufficiently strong to attack the enemy under General D' Arlages; but his strength being inadequate, he was repulsed with considerable loss. Ten days later, however, having meanwhile been reinforced, he renewed the attempt, and eventually blocked up the French so effectually, that Bugeaud, with a strong division, was obliged to march to their relief. This was the first occasion that the renowned French sabreur came in contact, as a commander, with Abd-el-Kader; and the impetuosity of his attack, with his overwhelming numbers, enabled him to gain a decisive triumph. He forced the Arab chief, first to raise the siege of Tafnah, where D'Arlages had taken refuge, and ultimately to abandon that of Tlemceen, in which Cavaignac, who afterwards acquired a reputation so sinister, had been for some time rigorously blockaded. A few actions of minor importance followed, and the forces of Abd-el-Kader again deserting him as rapidly as they had assembled, he was soon once more reduced to his former solitary condition.
But, energetic and indefatigable, he had, ere the spring of the following year, again assembled such a force, as to be able not only to reduce the tribes to his control, but to endanger the safety of Letaing-another general, who had been sent to hold him in check. An overture for peace was accordingly made him, and a treaty concluded towards the end of May. Tlemceen and Tafnah, with two provinces for which he had disputed, were abandoned to him in terms of this convention. But the French retained a few detached points which gave rise to future discord. Bugeaud, too, had again arrived upon the scene; and the Emir having by his alleged haughty conduct especially offended one of the marshal's friends, who had been employed to conduct the recent negotiation, a pretext for future quarrel was soon established. While the Emir was absent, chastising some distant tribes, insurrection was fomented in his territories at home; and when, notwithstanding this, he again triumphed, and threatened to be in a position more formidable than ever, Bugeaud considered it advisable that no time should be lost in strangling his rising power. Several disputes accordingly occurred; and at last, in 1839, when the Emir had ten thousand regular, and nearly double the number of undisciplined troops under his command, it was deemed prudent to find some means of checking his increasing ascendancy. Some wretched pretence for aggression was quickly discovered. The fiery marshal took the field, and the murderous campaigns of 1840—41 followed. The Emir, not slow to meet him, came in conflict with the French at Thenia, Medea, and Miliana, from all of which, though apparently defeated, he invariably arose more powerful than ever. Lamoriciere, however, had, in the mean time reduced his capital, Mascarah; and Changanier, with Bedeau, two other French generals, subdued some insurgent tribes who were approaching to his aid. Tlemceen, also, an important position, had been taken by the latter; and every resource being thus cut off, Abd-el-Kader was under the necessity of seeking shelter within the territories of the Emperor of Morocco.
The war in this exhausted empire followed. The Emir, though he arrived stripped and a fugitive in the dominions of Morocco, found means to enlist Abdħeramann in his cause. The emperor is said to have been engaged by Abd-el-Kader's piety, reputation, and address; his profound appearance of resignation and submission to the will of the Prophet; but more probably he was induced to welcome him as one able to aid him against his formidable neighbours, the French. Bugeaud followed the Emir into his new asylum, and the battles of Isly, Tangiers, and the foolish affair of Prince Joinville at Mogador supervened. 'Abd-el-Kader gallantly distinguished himself in the two former; but in vain. The worn-out empire and its obsolete forces were unable to contend with disciplined troops, and, as a condition of peace, he was once more driven from his refuge to seek shelter in his old retreat of Algeria.
The government of Louis Philippe pow surmised they would crush him ; one or two of the princes were despatched from Toulon in expectation of securing the easy triumph of taking him ; but the indomitable Emir again found means to resume hostilities, and within a year of these vaunted victories he was threatening the French position at Taras. Danger was impending; the princes were recalled ; and to Bugeaud was entrusted the duty of meeting him. This, however, was no easy task. Within a period incredibly short the Emir overran the whole confines of Algeria, and the French marshal had no sooner arrived to assail him at one point, than he found his still more alert opponent had threatened him on another. Those menaces were repeated so long and so often that
many began to doubt the existence of an Abd-el-Kader. He was supposed to be but a phantom of the imagination, designed to afford an excuse for the maintenance of a large army in Africa ; and even the marshal himself pronounced him imprenable.
A moment, and the prospects of Abd-el-Kader looked brighter than ever. His reputation, extraordinary career, and the superstitious opinion attached to his name, induced even the inhabitants of Morocco to prefer him to their own Sultan; and for a time it seemed probable he would shake the other on his throne. This appeared especially imminent after the Emir's memorable exploits in the Saharah, when, with comparatively small resources, he kept the whole African forces of France in check. But it was the prelude of his downfal. The jealousy excited in the Emperor of Morocco's mind was sedulously fostered by the emissaries of Louis Philippe, and gave rise, first to the withdrawal of the aid which Abderhamann had long in secret extended, and ultimately to his taking the field against him. Abd-el-Kader himself had imparted new energy and discipline to the exhausted forces of Morocco, and his own weapons were now turned against him. After a struggle of two years, during which he was more the enemy of Morocco than of the French, he fell by the power of the former; and, to escape the usual penalty of defeat, in its barbarous code, he threw himself into the hands of the French prince.
It is confidently believed that large sums were profusely supplied by Louis Philipre to accomplish this result, with the view of obtaining eclât for the prince and affording support, if possible, to the dynasty; but the Duke D'Aumale seems to have acted in a manner to frustrate the design, and to deprive himself as well as the Government of any claim to popularity. By the latest accounts from Africa, in the “ Moniteur Algerien,” it appears that this prince, who has scarcely ever seen a shot fired except on parade, caused or permitted the fallen chieftain of a hundred combats to uncover his feet before entering the French presence-chamber, and deprived him of his favourite horse as a
pledge of submission ; while the Government at home have treated the captive hero
with still more indignity.
In addition to the other claims he presents to attraction, Abd-el-Kader is said to be a poet of no mean order, and to be attached to philosophic pursuits. In the language of his country he is described as possessing a tongue sweeter than the nightingale's, and a mind more profound than the sea. His figure is slender, and in action was generally half veiled ; his appearance is modest, and address subdued. His hands and feet are singularly small and delicate ; but his features, as already mentioned, do not disclose the pure caste of a high-bred Arab. Several Europeans who have been in his camp speak highly of his temper and affability. His eyes are large and soft, denoting little of the fire that reigns within. His face, though slightly marked with the small-pox, and ruffled, is feminine in its aspect; and altogether in his quiet contemplative appearance there is little to indicate that he is one of the fiercest spirits that ever spurred across a field. He is unquestionably the greatest man whom his country has produced since the days of Jugurtha; and we cannot believe that his bright career is yet at an end. The government of Louis Philippe may, in defiance of treaties, detain him at present from the East, and immure him in some fortress in the North, but he will, in all probability, survive its fall.
A DREAM IN ST. PAUL'S CATHEDRAL.
BY MRS. BUSHBY. I stood within yon sacred pile,
Hushed was the organ's latest peal, Beneath its lofty dome,
When hark! a gentle strain And gazed along each vaulted aisle, Of soothing melody did steal On many a sculptured tomb.
Around the hallowed fane, The great, the glorious, and the good Like the angel voices from the sky, (So by frail mortals deemed)
That sang our Saviour's birth, In marble forms around me stood,
And chaunted “Glory to God on high, Such as in life they seemed.
Peace and goodwill on earth!" But the warrior grasped a bloodless sword, And though this chaunt was still the same, And the poet's eye was dim,
It seemed to breathe along, And the patriot-ah, no glowing word
As if from distant spheres it came,
In echo's faintest song.
Passion to grief gave place ;
In hell's own slaves some grace.
Oh! guilt-bound souls ! what bitter woe, Its sacred peals around,
To catch these blissful strains; Till the bannered walls above seemed rent Then back to Satan's depths to go, With the soul-inspiring sound.
Where gloomy horror reigns. And as the solemn music swelled
Each living statue seemed to bend
In reverence to that hymn;
In one confusion dim.
From other worlds was o'er;
As lifeless as before.
Reflection's earnest power ;
Of Death's approaching hour.
And these no idle tale;
While thought may yet prevail.