Mr. Mathews to Mr. Fish.
Tangier, September 17, 1873. (Received October 13.)
Sir: I beg to announce the death of His Majesty Sidi Mohamed, Sultan of Morocco, which event took place about noon on the 11th instant, at his second capital, the city of Morocco. The deceased Emperor [Page 39] was born in 1803, and succeeded to the throne on the death of his father, Mulay Abderrahraan Ben Hisham, in 1859, the dynasty having ruled over the empire of Morocco since the deposition of the Meronites in 1516. The eldest son of the late monarch, Mulay Hassan, whose age is thirty-six years, was at once proclaimed Sultan at the city of Morocco, without opposition, being the will and request of the late Sultan; but there is at the present moment some doubt whether the Fez and Mequinez people, who are supposed to be in favor of Mulay Ismael, (second son of the late Emperor, and at present viceroy of Fez, the first capital of the empire,) and also of Mulay El Abbas, brother of the late Sultan, who commanded the Moorish armies in their war against the Spaniards in 1859–’60, will support the choice made at the second capital. According to Mohammedan law, Mulay El Abbas is the rightful heir to the throne. It they do not, serious disturbance may be expected, as already there are rumors to this effect. Naturally, in a barbarous and uncivilized country like Morocco, such an important event as the death of the Emperor cannot be expected to pass off without some disturbances; villages, markets, and even towns may be pillaged, roads may be rendered unsafe for ordinary travelers, and there is already a temporary check to business, and in the interior they have refused already in some towns to pay gate-duties. On the occasion of the deaths of former Sultans even the seaports have been attacked by the Kabyles, and on the death of the late Sultan’s father the seaport of Masagaw was attacked by the Arabs.
A joint appeal has been made to the pacha of this province by the representatives of foreign nations residing in Tangier, to remind him of the responsibility which rests upon him in case the neighboring Kabyles should attempt to attack this town, where about fifteen hundred of the inhabitants are Christians, subjects and citizens of foreign nations.
The pacha has already armed about four hundred Riffiaas and Moors of confidence with as many flint-lock muskets, and has distributed in patrols outside the city walls to prevent a surprise, and arrest any disturbers of the peace; he had adopted terrible measures against robbers. Yesterday an Arab who stole a sheep was chained and tied to a donkey and flogged on his bare back through the streets of Tangier, the culprit at the same time being forced to repeat in a loud voice the nature of the crime for which he was so severely chastised; and this morning a mountaineer was tied with a rope around his neck and dragged through the streets to jail, where the soldiers plunged him more dead than alive. These awful punishments no doubt keep in check the turbulent inclination of these wild tribes.
The British, French, Italian, and Spanish representatives have already written to their respective admirals and governments for men-of-war to make their appearance at the various ports of Morocco, and already a British and a Spanish gunboat arrived here yesterday on their way to the western coast. As for Tangier, I believe that if the mountaineers have the audacity to attack the town, we will be able to give them a warm reception.
Several Christian families have already, for fear, embarked for Gibraltar.
I am, &c.,