Manuscript of The Female Captive by Elizabeth Crisp nee Marsh (1735-1785)
The following was written by Miss Elizabeth Marsh, during her captivity in Barbary in the year 1756.
I resided with my parents at Minorca, previous to, and at the commencement of the war with France in the year 1756, which occasioned our removal to the Garrison of Gibraltar, from whence, being desirous of visiting my friends in England, and a favourable opportunity offering a ship, in which a friend of my family, [James Crisp Esqr] was going as Passenger, I embarked on the 29th of April. The ship was under convoy of one of His Majesty's Frigates, but we were unhappily deserted by her commander, soon after losing sight of the Garrison. When our captain perceived his intention of quitting his convoy, he carried all the sail he could, in order to keep up with the Kings ship, even to the danger of our lives.
On the 8th of May we were chaced by a vessel, which our captain, at first imagined to be a French Privateer, but she proved to be a Saffee Rover, which soon came up with us, and it seemed more prudent to wait for her, than endeavouring to escape, run a risqué of being very ill treated, if not put to death. The Moorish Commander instantly came on board, and enquired into the Number of Passengers, there being two others besides my friend Mr. Crisp, he desired that would go with him on board his ship, promising not to detain them more than half an hour. They accordingly went, and I made myself as easy as I could, until night came on, when fear seized my spirits at their not returning. I continued in that state until the morning, which brought on new affliction, for instead of seeing the Gentlemen, boats crowded with Moors came on board our ship, and the sailors were sent on board theirs. In this unhappy situation I remained three days, when I had the pleasure to see my friend return, who informed me of his having with great difficulty obtained leave of the commander of the cruiser to visit me for a few hours, telling him I was his sister. After the time elapsed, which had been granted, I was again thrown into great distress at this second separation, from the dread of being exposed to the Moors, who would have behaved very ill to me, had it not been for our ships steward. Soon after the next day appeared, the Moorish commander, and Officers came on board, bringing with them an interpreter who, in bad English informed me I must go with them, at which and the sea running very high, my mind was greatly terrified for we were at a considerable distance from the cruiser. When I got on board, I saw our sailors tied together but my friend, and the other passengers were at liberty. A cabin was allotted for us, which was so small as not to admit our standing upright - In this miserable place four people were to live, their provisions very bad, being a kind of paste resembling sage; called by the Moors Cuscussu. This was served for dinner and supper. Almonds and raisins were my only support.
On the 14th Land was seen, and soon after we were near to a town called Mamora. They fired two guns, and hoisted the colours. At 9 in the evening they came to an anchor in Saffee Road, when a number of boats came off with drums, and a sort of music which pleased those infidels though it struck me with the greatest terrors imaginable. I found this rejoicing was, as customary with them, to make acclamations of joy upon such occasions. We remained on board that night, and the next morning were ordered to our ship, to take what necessaries we though fit. I stayed in the boat, while my friend endeavoured to get my cloths, but he was only allowed to bring away a small quantity for present use, and our bedding. We then left the ship, but the tide was not permitting our going over the bar, we were obliged to come to anchor, and remain three hours, and my thirst intolerable. On crossing the bar, we were landed at a sandy beach, which was covered with thousands of moors, shouting and hallooing; and , my friend and I put upon mules, without saddles, with a man on each side to guard me from falling. In this manner we went two miles over a heavy sand, a band of music before us more dismal than a funeral drum, and repeated insults from the natives. The other passengers were on foot, and the sailors dragged along and treated with great severity. We proceeded to the Bashaw's, who received us with seeming concern, ordered his guards to conduct us to a place half a mile farther, and all the way a great noise of women's voices from the tops of the houses, which I was informed was a testimony of joy on the arrival of a Female Captive.
When we got to the habitation destined for us, a long passage presented itself to our view; at the end of which was a square ground floor with two rooms opposite each other, and a gallery at the top; but no words can express the wretchedness of it. The best apartment was for me, and the other passengers, the rest of our servants, and the ship's crew, and a strong guard at the door. Soon after, a slave brought some grapes, bread and a pitcher of water. In the evening I had a visit from the monster who brought me into that country, attended by some principal Moors of the place. He assured me we should have our liberty as soon as the Emperor's answer was returned from Morocco, to the letter he had sent. On the next day we had the pleasure of seeing two gentlemen, Merchants of New Saffee, one an English man, and therefore much concerned at our situation; the other French, who behaved with great civility to us all, and gave us hopes that His Imperial Highness's answer would be favorable, and that he would undoubtedly order us to be set at liberty. When these gentlemen left us, my apartment was crouded with men, women, and children; among the number, a nephew of the Moorish Captain, who endeavoured to separate us from our baggage with a view to plunder, but were prevented by my friend.
Our friends, the merchants, advised our writing to Gibraltar, offering to provide a person who should safely convey our letters; we accordingly passed the night in writing to my Father, and to the Governor of Gibraltar.
We had an invitation from the captain of the Port, and on our waiting on him the next day, found him sitting on a carpet; he rose on our entering the apartment, and handed me a cushion, conversed with my friend in Spanish; and then conducting me to the Apartment of the Ladies, introduced me to them, and retired.
One of them drew my attention. She was very tall and stout, with a broad flat face, very dark complexion, and long black hair; she wore a dress resembling a Clergyman's Gown, made of muslin and buttoned on the neck like the collar of a shirt, which reached her feet. She had bracelets on her arms and legs, and was extremely inquisitive and curious in examining my dress. I was than conducted to the room where the captain of the Port, and my friend were sitting. Preparations were made for supper, which was after the Moorish taste, and consisted of a dish of cuscussu with fowls, mixed with butter, and sugar. The other dishes were of fruit and sweetmeats. This honest Moor, for such I thought him, often expressed much concern at our misfortunes, and I believe would readily have rendered us his service; but though he was a man in a high station, did not dare openly to pity our distresses. From his abode, we hastened to our place of confinement, where I passed the night with many afflicting thoughts of what another day might produce; indeed my prepositions were not groundless, for before I had breakfasted, the Moorish captains nephew with a great number of others, came and insisted on placing us in another apartment, and having our baggage under guard, in the room we were in. This behaviour raised various conjectures. My friend endeavoured to prevent their deigns, but it only served to heighten their malice, and they redoubled their insults, which obliged us to acquiesce, and as every other means but patience, was wrested from us, we had recourse to the foreign remedy, in all calamities of life.
The room appointed for us, as I have already observed, was much the best in the prison, that which they chose to place us in, had one end of the ceiling open, occasioned by an earthquake, where I experienced great inconveniences from the Dews, and besides this inhumanity, orders were given that none of our friends should be admitted, and our servants were hindered from going to procure such necessities as we were in want of;- at the same time the rabble were permitted to enter our apartments at any hour. Being deprived of the company of our friends who had shewn us so many civilities, grieved me much; I tried what a Bride might do, which fortunately had the desired effect, and we were so happy as to see them the same evening. On the next morning, a Spanish Renegado came in great haste to inform us, that he heard there was a person of consequence hourly expected from Morocco, to conduct us safe on board our ship, but the intelligence soon proved false, by a letter from Monsieur Ray [the aforementioned French Gentleman's name.] acquainting us of a messenger being arrived from Morocco to attend us thither. We had but just got the information, when his approach was announced, and with him, the Governor of the Place, and several others, who told us we must prepare in five days for a journey to Morocco, and that he was one of the number to escort us; that his orders from His Imperial Highness were to travel gently on my account, resting in the day, and proceeding on in the night, that I might not be too much fatigued with the heat; but I was terrified beyond expression, which the messenger perceiving, flattered me with hopes that as soon as the Emperor had seen me [which I was made to believe was only what he wanted] I should be sent back immediately to Saffee, with liberty to leave Barbary. They then left us. And the almighty ordained that I should receive consolation from the fallacy of this Barbarian: but such is the human mind, that where there is the least glimmering of hope, we love to cherish it. A minor queen slave, who was at Saffee, treading for His Imperial Highness, was uncommonly affected at my situation, and of infinite service to us, both as interpreter, and a friend; He prevented our baggage from being plundered, and our receiving many insults, which undoubtedly would have been offered, but for his protection.
This may appear strange to those unacquainted with Christian slaves in that country, but the Mahometans hold them as sacred as the tombs of their saints from the ill usage of any but their master, the Prince. He told my friend I should be in less danger of any injury in Morocco, by his passing for my husband, than my brother. Mr Crisp replied, he imagined I should be intirely safe, but his appearing in the character he then did; and as he had been examined by the principal people at Saffee concerning the truth of it, it was then too late to alter. The conversation then stopped, and he left us, but his advice and the manner in which he had given it, greatly alarmed me: Tears gave me some relief, but I remained in a melancholy condition until the Dawn of the Day, when a severe shock of the earth gave a turn to my thoughts, and roused me from that state of despondence I had indulged the preceding night. We received a very kind invitation from Monsr. Ray to visit him at New Saffee before our departure, and we solicited the Moorish Admiral for a permission, which he readily agreed to, and we then asked if he would indulge us with our baggage, to which he likewise consented, but on applying to his nephew, and offering him a handsome present, he refused to deliver them, however, by offering a more considerable gratuity, we succeeded. Monsr. Ray, and his friends, provided us plentifully for the journey to Morocco, gave us a tent with necessaries belonging to it, and had a Man's saddle altered into a woman's after the Spanish fashion for me to ride on. On our quitting New Sallee, the gentlemen, attended by the Governor, walked out of the town with us to keep the grown, which was very great, in order; and when we were a quarter of a mile from the place we parted and mounted our mules; Mr Crisp, the other passengers, the captain and ship's company, on pack-saddles, myself on that Monsr. Ray had provided for me, but we had not proceeded many miles before I found it immensily uneasy; We stopped at seven in the evening on a large plain, when we were desired to fix our tent. Our trusty friend, the slave, accompanied us thus far, and I believe would gladly have remained with us, well knowing the many inconveniences we should be exposed to without his assistance. He seemed remarkably pensive, and observant of me, which I was displeased with, and thought his behaviour very improper, until I overheard a conversation he had with Mr Crisp to the following effect.
"I beg you excuse for the liberty I am going to take, and to be attentive to some advice I must offer concerning this young lady; as a Christian I cannot but be greatly afflicted at your misfortunes, but the danger the lady is exposed to, gives me inexpressible concern; I therefore hope you will be persuaded to comply with my instructions. The anxiety I am under, on her account, induced me to accompany you as far as this day's journey, and wish it were in my power to continue it with you, but as that cannot be done, I have determined once more to represent to you, how very necessary it is for her safety, that you should pass for her husband. I have been a slave to Cid Mahomel since the year 1750, and am not unacquainted with his temper, and inclinations; and such, I assure you, is his despotic power, that, if she is at all preserved from being detained in the Seraglio, it must be by the means above proposed".
Mr Crisp argued the impossibility of his acting this part, as he had hitherto assumed the character of my brother, but that difficulty was obviated by the slave's assuring him that he would undertake to settle the matter, namely, by writing a letter to John Arvona, a fellow slave at Morocco, and giving it to a moor of confidence that was in the caravan, advising his being as expeditious as possible, in order that he might be there a day or two before us: in his letter to the slave, he would desire him to acquaint the Prince that we had been mis-represented, for we were married, and going to settle in England; and he would give him at the same time instructions to spread that report in the Palace and City of Morocco. Mr Crisp seeing me affected by their conversation, prayed me to be assured of his friendship, and that no conduct of his shall ever give me the least cause of offence, that he only wished to preserve, and deliver me safe to the arms of my afflicted parents, and if I approved of what the slave advised, the other passengers, and seamen should be acquainted with it, that in case of an examination every one might be in the same story.
This sudden change shocked me greatly, and I could only answer with my tears; my heart was too deeply oppressed to give my opinion, or against it indeed I was unable to determine but as the arguments of the slave were very reasonable, I thought it most prudent to submit to their judgement, in fixing on what they thought most expedient in the present extremity. We sat up the remainder of the night settling the affair, and very early in the morning, the slave took leave, recommending me to the protection of providence, and the care of my friend. We mounted our mules, and took the road to Morocco; about noon we stopped at an old castle, called Seria, where we wee refreshed with eggs and milk, which were very acceptable. Soon after we left it, I had the misfortune to be thrown from my mule by which accident, thought I was on the point of being killed, our conductors, would not agree to stop a little time, for me to recover myself, but said we should pitch the tent early in the evening. My fall was occasioned by the fellow who led my mule, he owed me a grudge for complaining of him at Saffee, while he was one of our guards; I was therefore again re-seated, but in great pain. At night, our conductors, who were the principal people of near 300 left Mr Crisp, myself and a few sailors to the care of two men called Muleteers; what their intentions were by doing so, we could never learn, but it exposed us to great dangers, as the wild Arabs often surrounded us. We travelled many hours over dangerous Deserts, and the roarings of the different kinds of beasts in the mountains, filled us with terror; though at length we reached the caravan who were reposing themselves at the foot of a hill. They here permitted us to dismount, and I, being very ill, desired my friend to intreat them to consent that the tent might be pitched, but they would not allow it, as they should only rest an hour at that place, and set off again. They assured us however, that they would stop for the night at a castle 5 miles farther, though no castle was seen, or so much as a house, or a track, where no human foot had ever been. When we lost our way, as was often the case, our Muleteers fired a musquet, which the others answered, by this means we were enabled to follow them, but the howlings in the mountains, and dread of the Arabs, alarmed us greatly. We travelled all that night, and at 10 o'clock the next day, reached the caravan; they lifted me off my mule, but I could not stand, on account of the violence of the pain, in the side on which I fell. The Moorish Admiral observing that I was ill, ordered the tent to me pitched, and allowed me two hours to repose. When the time was expired, a messenger came to tell me, I must proceed; I told him they acted contrary to the Prince's orders, and probably would kill me before they reached Morocco. Mr Crisp asked the interpreter what was their reason for going at the rate they did; he answered that the Feast of the Ramedam was to begin in a few days, which occasioned their haste, and it being a high festival at Morocco, every one was desirous of being present at the same. The Admiral who brought me into that detested country, was applied to by Mr. Crisp, who intreated him to use his interest with the guards for leave to remain there that day; he promised to do every thing to oblige us, but we soon received a message, that our request could not be complied with, though I might depend upon their stopping at a Duary of town of tents, before night, when they would procure me such a machine as the Moorish women make use of, instead of a saddle on the road. We accordingly set of, and got to the Town of Tents, whereof we had been informed, and my saddle was changed for the machine aforementioned. It was placed across my Mule over a pack, and held a small mattrass; the Moorish women lie on it, as it may be covered close, but I sat with my feet on one side the mule's neck, and found it very proper to screen me from the Arabs who would not now offer to come near me, imagining I was one of their own country women going to Morocco; without such a machine, I could not have continued a journey on 300 miles in that country. At midnight we stopped, I suffered much for the want of good water, that they had with them being extremely nauseous, from it being put into the hides of hogs, tarred in the inside, but bad as it was, I often accepted of it to moisten my mouth. The tent being pitched, I should have had some rest, but the noise which the camels made, by reason of the heavy burdens these poor creatures are constrained to bear, debarred me of the comfort.
At day-break the caravan began to stir, the heat of the sun, as the day advanced was very great, which obliged our guards to stop at a large Town of Tents, where I purchased some water Melons, and distributed part of them among the sailors; but the crowd which surrounded us, shortened our stay, every one striving to get sight of me. Though the day had been so very hot, we were not allowed to stop until eleven o'clock at night; however it was an early hour for us, and gave me an opportunity of having some rest. At 3 o'clock in the morning, we were ordered to get ready and set out at 4. The roads were good till about noon, when we came to a large river about 200 yards over, and the water too deep and rapid, that the mules often swam, having lost the causeway. When we reached the opposite side, our guards had a tent pitched, In order to recover me from my fright and fatigue, at the foot of a prodigious mountain which we were to ascend; but the heat was too great for us to remain there the whole time our conductors intended. All the unfortunate captives, except myself were constrained to climb up the mountain, leaving their mules with the Moors, who took care of the camels; and I had a man to lead my mule, one on each side, and another behind:- Three hours were spent in getting up to the top, and I was very faint, the guards permitted the tents to be pitched, being under the necessity of indulging me with an hours rest. When they thought me sufficiently recovered, I was again seated on my mule; we set off immediately, and did not stop until 12 that night, when notwithstanding the fatigue I suffered, and the great dew that fell, our tent was not allowed to me pitched. We staid 'till 2 o'clock, and proceeded to another town of tents where we stopped and had our tent pitched in the middle of some hundreds of others, inhabited by Arabs, who instantly came tormenting us by their outrageous behaviours. Our guard finding them inclined to be rude to me, had the precaution to tell them I was going as a present to Cidi Mahomet, and this in some measure, protected me from those dangerous people. Our sailors surrounded me during our stay, which was not long, on account of the Arabs; who seemed determined to be mischievous; which extremely affrighting me, I intreated the Admiral to leave that place, which he accordingly did. A large party followed our caravan for miles, but as the roads were very heavy, they returned. The heat was almost intolerable, and steep rocks which we were obliged to pass over, continually presented themselves to our view; there was no appearance of a house, or a tree, but a large trach of country abounding with high mountains, At 12 o'clock that night, our guards informed us, that they should not make a long stay and therefore would not pitch the tents, as they intended to be in Morocco the following day. We however prevailed on them to indulge us with two hours respite; after which we proceeded over very rugged narrow roads, and between mountains which reached above the clouds, in which manner we travelled until 8 in the morning.
When we arrived at the river of Morocco, we stopped there for an hour and a half, and then advanced nearer the Capital, but we had a severe trial of our fortitude before we reached it; for when we were within 8 miles of the city, my tent was ordered to be pitched, and I received a message from the Moorish Admiral to change my dress. The meaning of this, according to the interpreter's explanation, was, that I should make fine cloaths, which I did not readily understand, but on further explanation, it was that they would have me dressed, in order to make some figure at going into Morocco. I intreated to be excused, acquainted them how very inconvenient it would be to unpack my baggage, and dress in such a place; but no intreaties had any effect, and I found it was their ambition to carry in adorned in this manner captives, who by appearance, seemed above the vulgar. As I found if in vain to contend. I had a trunk opened, and they fixed upon the cloathes I was to put on, which were new; but I wrapped up my head in a night cap, which almost covered my face, as I told they did not intend to let me wear a hat when I was ornamented, as they imagined, instead of being placed, as before, on my own mule, I was seated before Mr Crisp on his; and at the same time, one of the guards pulled off his hat and carried it away with him, which treatment amazed us extremely, but our astonishment increased when our fellow sufferers were made to dismount, and walk two and two, bareheaded, the sun being hotter than I had ever felt it. We had not proceeded far, when we were met by John Arvona, a Minorqueen slave, who was the Prince's Treasurer, and great confidant. He intended to have accompanied us into Morocco, and had brought with him a horse, for Mr Crisp to ride, but the Admiral, and Cruiser's company would not permit him to heave the mule he was on, upon which the slave returned.
The multitude was computed at about twenty thousand Horse and Foot, most of whom were armed, and attended us with shouts and hallooings. Parties of them continually ran backwards and forwards, loading and firing their musquets in our faces.
I was almost dead with grief and fatigue. My friend every moment expected we should be thrown from the mule. The Almighty, however whose watchful providence had defended me from innumerable dangers, continued his goodness, and supported me through the distress of that dismal day.
About noon we arrived at Morocco, when my friend and I were taken to an old castle, dropping to pieces with age; led up a number of stairs, and there left to our own reflections. We were seated on the floor, lamenting our miserable fate, when a French slave entered with some water, a loaf of bread, and melons, We remained in that place 'till 4 o'clock in the afternoon when the rest of the captives, and their guards assembled to take us from that horrible abode. I was so ill from fatigue, that they were obliged to carry me down the stairs, but placed be as before, on the mule, and we passed through the City, amidst a great concourse of people, to the Palace, which was 3 miles beyond the castle we had left. When we came to the gates, they stopped, and waited near two hours, his Imperial Highness came out, and received us in a public manner. He was mounted on a beautiful horse, with slaves on each side fanning off the flies, and guarded by a party of the Black Regiment. The Moorish Admiral and his crew first presented themselves to him,- falling on their knees, and kissing the ground; and as they arose, did the same to his feet, and retired. The Prince, then addressing himself to us, by means of his interpreter, informed us that the reason of being taken was on account of Captain Parker's insolent behaviour, having treated him in a very disrespectful, and rude manner, when Ambassador, some little time before, from the king of Great Britain. He assured us, however, that we were not slaves, but that he should detain us until the arrival of a Consul, and then dismissed us, upon which he returned through the gates. We were there upon conducted by a Jew to a house which had been provided for us in the Jewdery, which afforded a dismal prospect; it was a square ground floor, much like our confinement in Sallee, only with this addition, that the walls were covered with bugs and as black as soot. As soon as I perceive this, I begged, that my tent might be pitched in the court yard, which was accordingly done, and I intended to go early to rest, but an order came from the Palace for me to attend on His Imperial Highness. I would gladly have been excused, but as a slave was sent to wait on me, I was constrained to comply. My friend, being very uneasy, was unwilling I should go with the man, and intended to see me there himself, but the slave told him, his orders were, that none of the captives should accompany me. We then set out, and I was conveyed in at the garden door, which my companion locked, and put the key in his pocket. We walked through a part of the garden, which contained a number of statues. The next place we came to was a gate of curious workmanship, where stood two soldiers, who stopped me as I was going in; they directed the slave to tell me I could not pass without pulling of my shoes. For a long time I refused to comply, but finding there could otherwise be no admittance, I threw my shoes from me, - upon which the slave informed me that the Prince was esteemed a saint, and therefore a Christian, unless he was barefoot, could not be admitted into his Palace. Many more guards were to be passed before I could reach the apartment wherein His Imperial Highness was; but when I came there, I was received by him with great attention. Four of his ladies were with him, who seemed as well pleased, as he was himself, at seeing me; not that my appearance could prejudice them much in my favour, for I had put on my riding habit, and my face had suffered extremely by the scorching morning sun; which the Prince took notice of to the slave who attended me, saying that I had not been taken the care of which he had commanded, and he seemed highly offended. I should have been happy I have spoken Morisco, in acquainting him with the ill-treatment I had experienced on the road. I intreated the slave to mention it to the Prince, but he begged I would not desire him to do me this service, for if he did, the Moors would never be satisfied until they had his life.
The Ladies made many remarks on my dress, greatly recommended their own, and informed me to put it on, but I declined. One of the most agreeable of them, and who shewed me the greatest civility, was the daughter of an Englishman; who became a Renegado, and had married a Moorish woman; she took her bracelets off her arms and put them on mine, desiring I would wear them. The slave told me, that I might now take my leave whenever I please, which I did immediately, being very glad to retire. But my conductor instead of taking me to my lodgings, introduced me to another apartment, where I was soon followed by the Prince, who having seated myself on a cushion, inquired concerning the reality of my marriage with my friend. This enquiry was certainly unexpected, but though I positively affirmed, that I was really married, I could perceive he much doubted it, from his frequent interrogations as to the reality thereof. He likewise observed that it was customary for the English wives to wear a wedding ring; which the slave informed me of, and I answered that it was packed up, as I did not chuse to travel with it. The Prince finding I persisted in my story, questioned me no further, but gave me assurances of his esteem and protection; he said he should take a pleasure in obliging me, and ordering the slave to take particular care of me, he gave me leave to depart. We went with all haste to the garden gate where I found my faithful friend, and we soon got to our dismal habitation.
Amends, however, were speedily made for the inconveniences of the place, by the company of two gentlemen, [Merchants] who resided in that country, and had been so kind, as to leave their places of abode, in order to meet us at Morocco. John Arvona, the slave, soon after waited on me with a basket of fruit from his Imperial Highness, who had ordered him to enquire particularly concerning my health. It was strongly recommended to me by the gentlemen aforementioned, not to expose myself to the view of the populace, as the Prince had many spies to observe my actions, and if he should, by any unguarded event, discover the deceit I had made use of, I must undoubtedly be confined to the Seraglio, and so lost to my family. I therefore flatter myself that great allowances will be made for my present character, which though fictitious, gave me the greatest uneasiness, as it rendered me apprehensive that the ill-disposed part of the world would censure my conduct, but I had no reason to be under any apprehensions from the man, whom providence had allotted to be my protector, for his behaviour would always bear the most accurate inspection, and the attention he paid me was as to a sister, and a friend.
Another basket of fruit dressed with a variety of flowers was brought by Arvona from his Imperial Highness, with a message that he desired to see me, and had ordered him to wait on me to the Palace. I dressed myself and attended the slave, when, at the first gate I was obliged to leave my shoes under the care of the soldiers, and then hasten through the different apartments until we came to that where His Imperial Highness was. The slave then left me and a French lad who could be admitted into the apartments of the females, was sent for to interpret between us; the same ladies, who I had seen before, were at the other end of the room: He commanded a cushion to be placed near him, and I was desired to be seated thereon. He was dressed in a loose robe of muslin with a train of at least two yards on the floor, and under that was a pink satin vest, buttoned with diamonds. He had a small cap of the same satin as is vest, with a diamond button; wore bracelets on his legs, and slippers wrought with gold. His figure, altogether not disagreeable, and his address civil and easy; tall and of a tolerable good complexion, and appeared to be about five and twenty.
A low table, covered with a piece of muslin, edged with silver, was placed before him; and on that was an elegant waiter, containing a small tea kettle and lamp, and two cups and saucers, were as light as tin, and curiously japanned with green and gold, these I was told were presents from the Dutch. The tea was made in the kettle, and he presented me with a cup of it, which, as if came from his hand, I ventured to drink, tho' I should have refused it from the ladies for very good reasons. When the table was removed, I was introduced to a young prince, and princess, after which they retired, and a slave brought a great collection of rarities, and shewed them to me. I greatly admired every thing I saw, which seemed to please the Prince exceedingly; and he told me by means of the interpreter, that he did not doubt of me preferring in time, the palace, to the confined way of life I was then in, that I might always depend on his favours and protection; and that the curiosities I had seen, should be my own property. I thanked him for the honor he did me, but that as I was very happy in a husband, who was my equal in rank and fortune, I did not wish to change my situation in that respect; and whenever it was agreeable to him I would take my leave. He looked very stern at my answer, and made me no reply, but conversed a little while in Morisco; after which one of the ladies handed me other end of the room, and seated me before them. One of them in particular, observed me very much, and seemed out of temper; she was a large woman, but low in stature, of a sallow complexion, thick lipped, and had a broad flat face, with black eyes, the lashes whereof were painted of a deep red, her hair was black, combed back to her head, and hung down a great length in various ringlets, she had a large piece of muslin, edged with silver round her head, and raised high on the top; her ear-rings were extremely large. And the part which went through the ears was made hollow for lightness; she wore a loose dress much like the captain of the Port's wife at Sallee, only with the difference of a diamond button to the collar, and its being made of the finest muslin, her slippers were of blue satin, worked with silver, and she had bracelets on her arms and legs.
The lady, whose father, was as I have already mentioned, an Englishman, talked to me in Morisco, and was seemingly fond of me, and by her gestures, I imagined she wanted me to learn their language. I however asked the French boy what she was saying, who answered rien de consequence, and I therefore concluded that what she said related only to common conversation, and being desirous of obliging her in trifles, I imprudently repeated some words after her, but found, when too late, that I had renounced the Christian Religion, [though innocently,] by saying, that there is but one God, and Mahomet is his prophet. The Palace was immediately in the utmost confusion, and there was every sign of joy in all faces; I was surprised and affrighted, [though I knew not the cause thereof] which the prince perceiving, ordered the noise to cease, and at the same time spoke to the ladies. Who instantly left the room, taking me with them to an apartment, remote from that wherein we had been; - it was a large room, and crowded with women, but mostly Blanks. One of them spoke French, I asked her if the place we were in, were the Seraglio? She said it was a small part of it, and offered to shew me farther, but I would not venture myself out of sight of the door I had entered. An old slave brought some chocolate, but I declined taking it, for I had been cautioned against drinking anything they might offer me. After some time I began to be impatient and uneasy, at my being detained in that place, and intreated them to permit my departure; but instead of granting my request, they endeavoured to remove my anxiety, by assuring me that I should not remain much longer therein. I nevertheless continued my intreaties, though to no purpose, till a young lad came in, who was one that attended on the women; I addressed him in French, which fortunately for me, he understood; desiring him, to go with my respects to His Imperial Highness and acquaint him that I besought him, as I was very ill, to give me leave to depart. The boy cheerfully complied, and in less than a quarter of an hour an English Renagado came with a message from the Prince that I should attend him in a private apartment. I was shocked at the oddity of the message, but as it was my fate to be reduced to passive obedience, and non resistance, I followed the man through many squares, some of which were of white marble, and the pillars of mosaic work, with varieties of fountains that fell into basins, and lattices at top to keep out the sun, but such was my distressed situation, that it was out of my power to make any material remarks on the objects presented to my view. When we entered the apartments where the Prince was waiting to receive me, I was amazed at the elegant figure he made, being seated under a canopy of crimson velvet, richly embellished with gold; The room was large, well decorated and supported by Pillars of Mosaic work, and there was at the other end, a range of cushions, with gold tassels; and a Persian carpet on the floor. He commanded me and the English interpreter to draw near his person, when he conversed some time with the latter in Morisco; after which the man informed me that His Imperial Highness wished to know if I would become a Moor, and remain in his palace, desiring me to be convinces of his esteem, hoping that I would properly consider the advantages resulting from doing as he desired; and promising me every indulgence that he could possibly shew me. Though I was alarmed and even greatly terrified by these interrogations, I had the resolution to reply, that it was improper for me to change my sentiments in religious matters; and that consideration was intirely un-necessary to me, who was peremptorily determined to remain a Christian; but that I should ever retain the highest sense of the honor he had done me, and hoped for the continuance of his Highness's protection: - I could easily perceive that he was disgusted with my answer, from his remaining silent for some minutes, throwing off the mask he had hitherto worn, he cruelly informed me, that I had that very morning renounced the Christian faith, and turned Mahometan, and that no less a punishment that burning, was by their laws, inflicted on all who recant from or disclaimed their religion. The shock was severe, that it was with difficulty I supported myself from falling; and I invoked Heaven for assistance in my distress, they being excessively great, and no body near me that I knew; As soon as I was capable of making a reply, I assured the Prince, if I was an Apostate, it intirely proceeded from the fallacy of the French boy, and not from my own inclination but that, however if my death would give him any satisfaction, I no longer desired to avoid the last remedy to all my misfortunes; for living on the terms he proposed, would only add to my misery, and I therefore thought that the preservation of my life, did not deserve may care and attention. He seemed greatly perplexed by my resolute declaration; and though he continued his importunity; yet it was more with the air of a supplicant, than that of a sovereign,- though he was still inflexible in every thing I urged against that he proposed,- I therefore, on my knees, implored his compassion, and besought him to permit me to leave him for ever. My tears extremely affected him, and raising me up, and putting his hands before his face, he ordered that I should instantly be taken away. The man took me by the hand, and having hurried me as fast as possible to the gates, found it no easy matter to pass a great crowd which had assembled there. My worthy friend was on the other side with his hair all loose, and a distracted countenance demanding me as his wife, but the guards beat him down for striving to get in, and hallooing out,- No Christian, but a Moor tore all the plaits out of my cloaths, and my hair hung down about my ears. After a number of arguments he prevailed, and forced me from the woman, took me in his arms, and got out of their sight. On getting to our lodgings, my friend sent for a French Surgeon, a slave to his Imperial Highness, to bleed me, which news being carried to the Palace, the Prince, as we afterwards heard, was much concerned, Bleeding in that country being looked upon as very extraordinary, and never practiced but in cases of extremity. This was therefore a fortunate circumstance, as His Highness imagined it was occasioned by his behaviour. Three people that day ran great risques of their lives on my account; one of them by acquainting my friend what they were doing with me at the Palace, another, we were informed, was sent for, by the Prince, just after he had dismissed me; who ordered him, if I was not out of the gates; to bring me back to him, to which that good man answered that he had met me, with my Husband, near the lodgings. I am under the greatest obligations to this worthy slave, - who had substantial reasons for deceiving His Imperial Highness, as he well knew the fatal consequences of my returning to the Prince. On the next morning I got up very early, to see our friends the Merchants, who advised me to keep myself still in appearance ill, and not to admit any one to visit me but themselves. A visitor however presented himself, to whom it would have been impolite to have denied admittance. His name was Muli Dris, a Prince of the Blood. He was tall, of a sallow complexion and black eyes, and a great friend to the English. He conversed with my friend in Spanish, and when he went away, desired I would keep up my spirits, for he did not doubt that all would be well. One of our friends the Merchants, was breakfasting with me, and Mr. Crisp, when the latter received a massage from the Palace, commanding him and the other two Passengers, with the Master, and ships crew, to attend; and the two merchants were likewise to be made acquainted with it, that they might, in like manner, give their attendance. They all waited upon His Imperial Highness, when he told them that the reason of his sending for them, was to grant them liberty to proceed on their voyage, and that he would issue out proper Orders for their journey to Sallee, that notwithstanding the great indignities he had received from the late Ambassador from the King of England.- [It is said that when he had his audience of the Emperor, he was dressed quite en deshabille, with boots and spurs on, and spoke in very haughty terms-]
-and the further ill treatment he had met from the English, who had furnished his rebellious subjects with arms, and ammunition, he would set them an example of moderation, as well as justice, by permitting us to quit his dominions. The gentlemen, on their return, told me what has passed, and I thought myself very happy at the appearance of once more seeing my dear and disconsolate parents.
The next morning information was brought us that the Prince had altered his intention, who now determined we should go to Sallee. This greatly surprised us, and we found he had not been sincere in his first proposal, which was a double mortification, he having obliged the Gentlemen and the ships crew to sign a letter to Lord Tyrawley, Governor of Gibraltar, wherein he promised to release us, and this was immediately sent by express. But we imagined he had only done this to deceive out friends, and prevent their demanding our liberty. The next day however, the longed wished for dispatched were brought with proper guards, to attend us to Safee. Our baggage was ready to set out at 8 o'clock in the evening, we walked out of town, and met with no interruption, as the Moors were obliged to retire into the city at sun-set, and the Jews were easily kept at a distance by our guards. We mounted our mules, and soon after crossed the river of Morocco, and there rested for the night. One of our friends the merchants had dispatched some of our attendants before, to prepare the tents, and have our supper ready, which was a most comfortable change from that we had experienced on the road from Sallee. We set out early next morning, Mount Atlas, at the back of Morocco, with a chain of mountains about 30 miles before us. We stopped about noon, dined, and set off again in the evening, passed over a high mountain the top of which commanded a view of the Atlas, City of Morocco, and its extensive plains. We rested for the night, and at day-break set out again, and pitched the tents, though not until late, near a salt water lake, 3 miles long and two broad, which from November to April is a river, and the other months quite hard; esteemed a great curiosity, being 50 miles from the sea. On our journey, a number of wild Arabs alarmed us. We were soon met by a Governor, who with a party of soldiers, was going to command at a place a few miles distant, he accosted us in English, which he spoke well, having learnt the language, whilst Ambassador in England. He was very civil, and ordered his people to fire, by way of salute, but my friend desired he would forbid it as I had not been well, and he feared it might be too much for my spirits, which he immediately complied with.
We stopped about 3 miles before we reached Safee, where all the Christian Merchants had assembled to meet us, and brought some refreshments with them a little time was spent in ceremony, and then we proceeded to the gates of Safee, where we dismounted, on account of the great crowd, by mere curiosity there assembled, who obstructed our passage, and gave us much uneasiness and interruption. Having at length entered the house of one of the gentlemen who, as I mentioned before had left their abode to meet us at Morocco, my first thoughts were to return thanks to Providence for the happiness I then enjoyed, in being under the roof of those who professed the same faith as myself. In the morning the Governor of the place paid us a visit, and informed us of having received advices, that our stay was to be for 15 days, during which we were to be treated as free people, and in the interim he was to receive further orders, in relation to us. Part of this information was no way agreeable to me, who feared the Prince was undetermined with regard to our liberty. Whilst we were at dinner, a number of Moors surrounded the table, but I found it was customary for then to enter the houses of Christians, whenever they thought proper, and the owners could not prevent it. I put up all such letters as would have discovered my being a single woman, and delivered them to the care of one of these gentlemen. Mr Crisp procured me a plain gold ring from a Swedish Captain, which I locked in a trunk, expecting a search to be made in order to know whether I was really married to him, or only made pretence thereof; such precautions were necessary, in order to guard against the dangers to which I was exposed. I desired my friend to write to Arvona, at Morocco, to learn what had passed at the Palace after my departure, for I was ever in dread that his Imperial Highness would again send for me, having heard from undoubted authority, that I was not indifferent to him; and though he had discovered great condescension in permitting me to leave him, when it was in his power to detain me, yet I knew him to be an absolute Prince, and, therefore had great reason to be extremely uneasy. I had entertained great hopes of letters from my friends, the disappointment of which made me very unhappy, who very well knew how much they would be afflicted on my account, should they have heard the melancholy news of my being a prisoner in such a country. There, and many other reflections, kept me in perpetual misery, and I often wished to be taken from this world. We now received an unexpected visit from Arvona, who had been dispatched from Morocco, to guard some Spanish bull-dogs, which the friars, residing in Safee had ordered to be sent from Cadiz, and as a present from his Imperial Highness. Arvona, in my hearing, told me my friend in Minorqueen, that the Prince was very anxious on account of my health; that he had given orders for his being called up in the night, in order to talk with him concerning me; and that he frequently said he would have me again to Morocco, because Safee did not agree with my constitution. The Minorqueen slave added, that he much feared his Highnesses resolution, as permitting me to leave Barbary, would be of no long continuance, notwithstanding his determination on the day I left Morocco; and the reason for his apprehensions, was that the Prince being asked if he would not see the fair Christian before her departure, after a pause, replied No, lest I should be obliged to detain her. This honest man promised to supply as constantly with advices of what passed at the Palace, and then set out for Morocco. Arvona was no sooner gone, then I acquainted my friend that I overheard their conversation, which gave me the greatest uneasiness; but he, being equally concerned, intreated me to be as easy as possible; assuring me, that he would spare no pains to lighten my afflictions, and undergo any torments, rather that I should return to the prince. Another post came in, that brought no letters from any of my family; which greatly increased my sorrow, who dreaded their being intercepted, as they would have discovered my real name. But a Swedish Merchant of Safee came to inform me that he could with certainty affirm that an English Admiral, Sir Edward Hawke, was arrived at Gibraltar, from England who had ordered that the Portland Man of War, Captn. Maplesden, should be dispatched to demand us. This agreeable information, however gained little credit with me, who had been accustomed to this sort of deception, and even inured to disappointment. The gentleman, nevertheless, left me, to appearance, well satisfied with his having been the messenger of glad tidings. The same day I received a letter from one of our friends the merchants, who had been so kind to us, at Morocco, of which the following is an extract.
"It is with great impatience I have wait, till now in expectation that a courier might have offered for Safee, and have given me an opportunity of enquiring after you, and your friends health. When I reflect on the variety of events in the last month, they appear, at first as a dream, though I am soon afterward fully convinced of the reality of them. The fatal day at Morocco never occurs to my mind but with horror, and when I think how near you were being lost for ever, when the tyrant to use Phocyas's expression in the Siege of Damascus, would have sunk you down to infamy and perdition; it fixes a melancholy on me, that I am not capable of shaking off, for some time. Let me intreat you never to repeat a word in the language of the country, not even the most trifling; and always avoid the room when the Governors or principal Moors enter. Excuse this advice, for I can with great truth affirm, I shall be very uneasy until I hear you are gone from this country, and happily restored to your family and friends. In the mean time while you are obliged to remain in Barbary, endeavour to reconcile yourself to it; - reflect, that it is a misfortune you have no way brought upon yourself, nor have it in your power to remedy; have a firm trust in Providence and be assured virtue and innocence will ever be the peculiar care of the supreme disposer of all events, who is capable of extricating you from your present distresses, at a time when you may least expect it. You are, thank God, in the House of a wealthy honest man, who I am persuaded, will spare no pains to serve you; let this, in some measure, alleviate your grief, by considering how much more dreadful your situation had been - had you remained at Morocco. I long for the arrival of the General Post, that I may hear if you had any letters from Gibraltar; let me once more recommend you to keep up your spirits, and shed no useless tears. I will conclude with quoting you six lines from the Distressed Mother,
'Though plung'd in ills, and excercis'd in care,
yet never let the noble mind despair:
When press'd by dangers and beset with foes,
the Gods their timely succour, interpose;
And, when our Virtue sinks o'er whelmed with grief,
By unforseen expedients bring relief'.
The Friars who had been some time in Safee, for the benefit of the Spanish slaves, desired to be admitted to see me, as they were going to return to the garrison of Gibraltar. The superior of them staid some time longer than the others, as he had a great deal to say; and he took great pains to encourage us to submit cheerfully to the Divine Will. He likewise assured me, that he would see my family as soon as possible after his arrival, and parted from us with tears. I had observed that one of his companions delivered a letter to my friend, whose countenance was extremely altered by the reading thereof; and therefore, when they were gone, I desired to know its contents, as I was anxious, being certain it came from Morocco. I found it, however, a difficult matter to persuade him to grant my request; and he did not at last comply, until I promised not to afflict myself. The letter came from Arvona, which intimated that a Moor of some consequence [an enemy to the English] would shortly be sent by his Imperial Highness to Safee; it appeared from his manner of writing, that he was anxious for my preservation, as he intreated my friend to be particularly attentive to the most effectual measures to secure my safety; but his advise was un necessary, because the most affectionate parents could not have been more tenderly careful of me than he had ever been on all occasions I endeavoured to conceal my apprehensions, but Arvona's letter was never out of my mind, and produced many melancholy reflections, which almost deprived me of hope, our greatest blessing, as they had already extremely interrupted my tranquillity. A ship, a few days after, arrived from Holland, which brought two gentlemen, passengers, who as soon as they hear of my distress, paid a visit to me. One of them was a merchant, who had formerly resided in Santa Cruz, and was going to Morocco, with his companion, to solicit the favour and protection of the Prince, in order to re-establish a house in the said city. The gentlemen, had, as it was reported, formerly traded with great success in this place, and to the surprise of all, the prospects of adding yet more to his fortune had so strange an effect upon him, that the difficulties a Christian is exposed to, in that country, were overlooked by him, as matters of no importance, or consideration. These gentlemen informed me, that they had heard a messenger was come from Morocco, whose aversion to the English was implacable; and they therefore advised me to keep my chamber, it being believed his Imperial Highness had sent him to inspect into the conduct of me and my friend: - I was greatly obliged to them for their information, and they set out for Morocco. My room door was thrown open with great violence, as I pensively sat reflecting on the news I had heard, and a most forbidding object presented itself to my view. He, for several minutes, fixed his eyes upon me, without speaking a word; and his aspect was as furious as can possibly be imagined. He afterwards narrowly inspected the room, muttering to himself in his own language; and then giving me another terrifying look, he retired, pulling the door after him, as he had opened it before. I was struck with great horror at his wild appearance. And seemed riveted to my chair.
My friend was ignorant of this visit, who was walking with some gentlemen of the factory on the top of the house, and when he returned, I was, for some time incapable of acquainting him with what had happened to me. He immediately concluded, that this person was the messenger who had been expected; and it was soon after confirmed by one of the gentlemen of the factory who came to introduce the Danish Consul who was on the point of departing from Sallee and had desired to see me. This gentlemen expressed great concern for my illness, and recommending a person, who in his opinion, had some knowledge of physic, he obligingly sent him to me. My Doctor advised my being bled, but as I was diffident of his skill, I chose to defer bleeding to another opportunity. He soon visited me again, when he found my complaint was a dejection of spirits, and therefore the intended operation was laid aside.
The pleasing news we afterwards heard from Monsieur Ray, was the most successful Physician, whose letter from Sallee speedily restored me to health, it being sent to congratulate us on the arrival of a Man of war, but the weather being bad, they had not reached the shore.
I now began to entertain favourable hopes of once more seeing my dear parents, and with these pleasing anticipations, I retired to rest, but my repose was interrupted, in the night, by two shocks of the earth which continued a minute and a half.
The fright I was in, cannot be expressed and, before I was removed out of my room, a part of the ceiling was thrown down; the walls though of a prodigious thickness, were cracks in many places; and the subsequent noise may be compared to a carriage going speedily over a rough pavement, which ended with a tremendous explosion; the sky was serene; but the sea made a great roaring, and we afterwards heard the shipping had greatly suffered thereby. The next morning, when I was at breakfast with my friend, a letter came from Arvona, at Morocco, inclosing a copy of that which had been sent from Capt. Maplesden to the Prince, and was to this purpose: that he was come there in the name of Admiral Sir Edward Hawke, to know the reason for taking, and detaining our ship, passengers etcetera, in a time of peace; and it represented, in terms of respect, how much the king, his master, would esteem his justice in setting us at liberty, and that he might depend upon the treaty, which had been concluded, being inviolably maintained on the part of His Britannic Majesty. To this letter his Imperial Highness answered, that, at that juncture his cruiser was at sea, and consequently, his Admiral was unacquainted with any Peace being made; and on his return to Sallee, a report prevailed that his Ambassador had failed in his negotiation, which was the reason of his sending us to Morocco: that on our arrival, He [who always kept his word] had declared us free, as well as the ship and cargo; and likewise had ordered the crew back to Sallee, in order to refit the ship. That in the interim, myself and other passengers were sent to Safee to wait there until it was ready to proceed on her voyage. His Imperial Highness further declared, the he would, on his part, duly adhere to the Truce concluded; but if in the time stipulated, Peace was not ratified by the Court of England, he should regard it as a Declaration of War, and order his cruisers to make reprisals, and stop the communication between the Garrison of Gibraltar, and his Dominion, ending his letter with complaints against the English, for furnishing his rebellious subjects with arms and ammunition.
John Arvona, moreover, informed my friend that a Jew was to set out in a few days from Safee, with the answer to the Captain of the Man of War, and to negotiate affairs with him. The Prince, in his letter, said that we might either embark on board our King's ship, or return to Sallee, and continue our voyage in the merchant-man, though he knew the latter was impossible, as she was almost pulled to pieces, and his people were fitting out their cruisers with the materials; but had the case been otherwise, my strength was to much exhausted, by illness, and sorrow, to be in a condition to take so fatiguing a journey.
The Jew soon arrived from Morocco, and the very same day the Portland Man of War of 50 guns anchored in Safee Road. A boat was immediately sent on shore with our letters, and among the rest was one from my dear Father, encouraging me to keep up my spirits. My Friend also received a very obliging letter from Captain Maplesden, who advised out being in readiness, though we could not embark until the Jew went and returned from Morocco, intreating us to make ourselves easy, for he would do everything in his power to facilitate our enlargement. In five days, the Negotiator returned to Safee, with the joyful tidings, that we were to embark the following day, but the badness of the weather prevented any boats from going off, either would any gratuity tempt the Moors to venture with us, while the sea ran as high as it did. Indeed I cannot say that I was much flattered that I should be permitted to quit the Country, but Providence was pleased to change the situation of affairs in my favour; for early the next morning I was desired to get ready, as the weather would admit of our going. The sudden joy for this agreeable news oppressed my Spirits, and it was with difficulty my Friends recovered me to a state of tranquillity. The Gentlemen of the House attended me to the strand, where I returned my grateful thanks for their kindness, and we set off for the ship. I was in extreme dread, until we reached the Man of War, fearing a signal from the shore to order our return.
I was received by Captain Maplesden with the most friendly attention, and there were general expressions of joy at seeing me safe from the power of those who wished to detain me. Our conductors, after they were discharged, and had received a handsome present, returned to their detested shore.
Captain Maplesden was so good as to resign his State Room to me, and I cannot express the comfort I felt in having an apartment allotted to myself, after the cruel restraints I had been under in Barbary, and the uneasiness I had suffered on account of passing for what I really was not. I had besides, an additional satisfaction, namely, that of having it to acquaint my parents to whom they were indebted [next to Providence] for my preservation, as my friend had, in every respect, fulfilled the promise he had made to them. We cruised several days, and then arrived at Gibraltar to the unspeakable joy of my distressed parents, and it is easy to be imagined how happy I was on this occasion.
It was not long after my return that my Friend convinced me that his assiduity had proceeded from a stronger attachment, that of friendship, by a declaration he made to myself and family, of his love for me, and the unhappiness he was under at the thought of parting with me, but he flattered himself that the confidence that had already reposed in him, by trusting me to his care, with the esteem I had always professed for he, would be a means of removing every obstacle which might prevent his future happiness. I was not surprised at this declaration. His general good character, the gratitude I owed him, and my Father's desire, over balanced some other considerations; and we were married, and embarked shortly after for England".
Mr and Mrs Crisp both died in Bengal, leaving a son and a daughter, the former in the service of the East India Company, and the latter married to George Shee Esq. also in their service, and who retired from India, to settle in England in the year 1788.
End of M.S.
In another writing hand "James Crisp was &ldots; descended from Sir Nicholas Crisp, mentioned by Clarendon as a Baronet in the reign of King Charles 1st."
The above transcription was typed out by Peter Dowling from the manuscript which was kindly made available by Keith Harrison. Many thanks to both for making this possible.
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