Mr. Mathews to Mr. Fish.
Tangier, December 30, 1876. (Received February 12, 1877.)
Sir: I have the honor to inform you that the Sultan has at last settled in his capital at Fez, after several months of activity in subduing most of his revolted and warlike tribes in the neighborhood of the French frontier of Algeria, which especially gave him great trouble. It is commonly believed that in the first engagements the Sultan’s troops lost heavily, according to some native authorities as many as ten thousand men; and it is further added that nothing but the imperial artillery saved the Sultan’s force from total destruction. As the force in the field could not have been more than fifteen thousand men, it is needless to say that his majesty cannot have met with so heavy a loss; but that is the manner in which news is reported here, where we have no special correspondents, no letters from the seat of war, and no press.
The disturbances are owing to the ever-increasing exactions of His Majesty’s governors and sheiks. The assassination of Hamem Ben Aliio, lieutenant-governor of our neighboring province of Anjera, last October, illustrates the condition of the country.
The governor of the Pashalic had been compelled by orders from the Sultan, to give the last turn to the screw of official exaction; but this last turn of the screw broke the thread not only of the screw but of his life.
Having thrown into prison a number of the inhabitants, in the hope of extracting from them some further increment of already onerous taxation, the friends of his victims surrounded the governor’s residence, and after some parley at the gate, where one of his adherents was killed, the lieutenant-governor, upon the assurance that he would not be harmed, was induced to venture forth, when he was instantly dispatched.
Three weeks before this event the governor of Tangier, with eight thousand Moorish troops, encamped in the above district, and levied a fine of $20,000 from the tribe of Anjera, by order of the Sultan, on account of their late insurrection against the governor of said district.
On the 23d ultimo a salute of twenty-one guns was fired from the batteries of Tangier in honor of the victory gained by the Sultan over the rebel tribe of Gayiatta, near the town of Tazo. A letter addressed by the Sultan to this Pasha was publicly read in the mosque, announcing the success of the imperial troops. No former Sultan of Morocco had ever penetrated into the mountainous district of Gayiatta.
The conflict between this warlike tribe and the Sultan’s army was a very serious affair, and had nearly resulted in the retreat of the latter. A number of Kaids, or chiefs in the Sultan’s army, have been killed, and the horse ridden by His Majesty was severely wounded. The rebels were finally repulsed. A castle or stronghold of the tribe, and a number of villages were destroyed, and the Sultan’s army encamped on the summit of the hills of Gayiatta.
The Sultan’s expedition to the Riff territory was most successful.
On his march from the latter place toward Meguinez, on his way to [Page 431]the capital, he brought under subjection the rebellious tribes of Zaida and Azamor, and they have sent their contingent of cavalry to join the imperial army.
The tribe of Benigoosfet, in the province of Larache, was also severely chastised.
The Moorish embassy which was sent by the Emperor to return the visit of the English, French, and Italian representatives which those functionaries paid him at his court last summer, arrived at Tangier, on board the Italian man-of-war Conte de Cavour, on the 12th ultimo, returning from their visits to the Courts of Saint James, France, and Italy. The Moorish mission was composed of Sid Hadj Mohamed Elzebdy, ambassador; Sid Dris Elzaidy and Sid Ben Nasser Ghannan, first and second secretaries, and six other members.
They were received with much kindness and attention by Her Majesty the Queen, who was accompanied by their Royal Highnesses Princess Beatrice and Prince Leopold, in the drawing-room, where the ambassador presented a letter from the Sultan of Morocco to Her Majesty.
At Paris, President MacMahon had a grand review of the troops in their honor, and a like compliment was paid to them by King Victor Emmanuel at Borne. In return for the presents sent to the Emperor, through their representatives at Tangier on their visit to Fez, the Sultan sent as a present ten magnificent Arabian horses to the President of the French Republic, and six horses to King Victor Emmanuel, besides a valuable assortment of Moorish manufactures like those sent to the English court.
Last month twenty-five men of Askar, or new regular troops of the Sultan of Morocco, including two Kaids and two Mukuddams, who are to learn the principles of military discipline at Gibraltar, were sent to that fortress. These men will afterwards return to their own country, where they will be employed in drilling and disciplining the regular levies which the Sultan has established to enforce and maintain order in his dominions among the warlike and turbulent tribes who have been such a thorn in the side of every ruler in this country. The men seem young and very intelligent, and no doubt they will be found of the greatest service in effecting the object desired after a course of instruction in a regimental barrack-yard. They are now attached to the Fourth (King’s Own) Regiment of British infantry, stationed at Gibraltar.
It is evident that the ideas of the present Sultan are progressive, and tend to the advancement and improvement of his people and dominions, the state of which he seems determined to witness with his own eyes whilst his desire to strictly carry out his engagements entered into with foreign powers is amply evidenced by the speedy means he has ordered to be taken to punish the officials and inhabitants of the Anjera district, who had offered impediments to the Spanish governor of Ceuta, when passing through their territory not long since.
I must contradict, in full, the statement which was published in the Spanish paper, the Época, that the Moors are becoming excited about the Turkish question, and that uneasiness is felt by the Europeans in this country in consequence. This is altogether a “canard,” as the Moors are not troubling themselves about the Eastern affairs in any way, nor is there any excitement whatever among Europeans residing in the Empire of Morocco.
Yesterday the new French envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to the court of Morocco, Monsieur Le Sourd, landed at Tangier, from the French vessel of war Cassard, to replace Monsieur Tissot, who has been transferred to Athens.[Page 432]
The Sultan will be visited this spring by the representatives of Germany, Spain, Portugal, and France.
The weather has been, and still is, very tempestuous on these coasts, causing many shipwrecks of vessels of various nationalities; fortunately among them we have none of our own flag to lament.
I have, &c.,