Mr. Mathews to Mr. Evarts.
Tangier, September 30, 1878. (Received November 14.)
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your dispatches numbered 133 and 134.
The state of affairs in Morocco is unchanged, and the state of health is still very unsatisfactory. The need for help is very great, and the appalling misery of the situation has been rather under than over estimated. What is to become of the starving poor in Morocco during the winter and until a good harvest is secured is a question of vital importance to this population, and deserving the serious consideration at least of the countries connected by commercial ties with this empire.
It is hoped that the fact of so little having been done by the Sultan’s Government for the relief of the starving people may have no weight in the scale of charity, but that all may subscribe according to their means; for if preventives are not taken, the mortality, particularly at the western ports, must be excessive. At Mogador, where, up to this time, famine has been most felt, the scenes of distress are fearful to behold. Numbers from the interior daily arrive; the weakest, worn out by travel, find at the town gates, or wherever overtaken by the grim hand of death, a release from their lingering agonies; the strongest are relieved by a committee, who distribute the funds generously contributed by sympathetic hearts in England in response to an appeal from a London relief committee. A few benevolent people in Gibraltar have also subscribed, but much more aid is required.
The soup-kitchens established at Mogador under the supervision of Mr. Johnston, honorable secretary to the London committee of the “Morocco Famine Relief Fund,” commenced on the 19th ultimo giving ashua, a kind of gruel, daily, and have fed from 1,400 to 3,000 people every afternoon. The ashua is composed of flour, rice, and water, as well as a certain quantity of meat thrown in to increase the nutriment. The gruel is served in basins holding a pint, and is most comforting to the starving poor, and far more suited to them in their weak condition than bread. The expense of the kitchen at present is from $400 to $500 per month. Each bowl of soup costs the fund a fraction over a farthing.
The poor are at present totally without shelter. Among the country people in town there are as many as 30, and sometimes 40, deaths a day. These are almost confined to new-comers, the crucial time being the first [Page 693] few days after arrival. Many of them have exhausted their energies on the long, famished journey, and die of sheer weakness as soon as they reach a resting place. In town the mortality is high; abdominal typhus carries off its victims after a few hours’ illness, while small-pox is telling dreadfully, particularly on young people.
At the port of Sam a relief committee commenced by distributing warm food, provided by local subscriptions, daily to some 600 poor. The number of recipients amounts now to nearly 2,000, and it is impossible that the committee can meet the increasing appeals without assistance. It is calculated that during the last three months over 2,000 people have died from hunger, small-pox, and other diseases.
At Mazagan the consular corps offered to the governor to raise subscriptions to relieve the poor in the place, estimated at 1,000 without resources. The governor not offering his co-operation, no steps are likely to be taken. Cholera has commenced its ravages, notwithstanding all the precautions adopted against it.
At Casablanca the news that Europeans were raising funds for the poor attracted to the place 1,500 half-starved natives, whose presence, unprepared for, may in a no slight degree have contributed to the virulence of the epidemic there.
When the cholera broke out at this port it was generally believed that it was only a slight disease attributable to the feast of Ramadan, but after a few days it attacked Europeans also, and by degrees it developed to such an extent that as many as 103 deaths occurred in one day. When a Moor is attacked he is given cold water, and naturally, after suffering for a day or two, falls a victim. There is a saint named Sidi Beliot to whom they convey every unfortunate rustic who is attacked. The only treatment the Saint adopts is to lay the patient in the open air, without hardly any covering, and to administer frequent doses of cold water, consequently the patient dies after much suffering. But for their religious prejudices I believe that half of them could be saved. You may judge how matters are conducted in this country. I will only mention that the garments used by the Moors who have fallen victims to the cholera, instead of being burned, are at present sold by public auction at the Socos (public markets). As to the mode of burying, I can only state that at present it is impossible to pass by the cemeteries on account of the effluvia from so many corpses buried at a depth of only one foot and a half, and the protests against these irregularities, made to the government by the vice-consuls, have been fruitless.
The number of cholera cases and small-pox began to be registered at Casablanca on the 7th instant, and the deaths since have been as follows:
|17||62||9||In 21 days||904||246|
One thousand one hundred and fifty deaths by cholera and small pox is alarming, considering that Casablanca contains a population, together with the new arrivals, of about 6,000 souls.
Cases of cholera have been reported near Rabat and at Beinhasen, Ducalla, and Sherarda, where the disease is committing ravages.
From Fez it is reported that the malady is again prevalent there.
Cholera has also been reported to prevail at Sharfet-Akab, about six miles south of Tangier. It is likely the disease will likewise visit this town, as we had lately several suspicious cases, some terminating in typhoid fever, the two last cases proving fatal.
I have, &c.,