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Embarek, were handed down from marabouts of celebrity. The stories current in the country relative to these families will more easily convey an idea of the singular influence exercised by these traditions, the authority of which is still so largely acknowledged among the Arabs. As to the history of Omar, it forms a curious chapter in the annals of Turkish policy, and affords an interesting illustration of the adventurous lives led by the rulers of the country previous to 1830.
The memoirs of the Ben-Yousefs, which are rather of a religious than a military character, still live among the people of this country. All will tell you of Si-Mohamed-ben-Yousef, the traveller who, four hundred years ago, came to end his days at Milianah. His high renown for wisdom and virtue quickly spread throughout the country, and from all quarters people flocked to him for his prayers or his advice. In exchange, each thought himself bound to offer him a present, and thus the man of heaven soon became possessed of all the riches of the earth, a reward, doubtless, for his virtues. Heaven had granted him the power of working miracles; he divined the truth, expressing it in rhymed sentences, which are still repeated among the tribes. At his death a magnificent sepulchre was erected over his remains,
and the veneration with which the ancestor was regarded is shown at the present day towards the lords of Milianah: the Ben-Yousefs born only to the family of the Embareks, the marabouts of Coléah, the most zealous servants of whom were among the tribe of the Hachems, not far from the town.
As in the case of the Ben-Yousefs also, a religious story hangs over their origin.
In 1580, a man of the tribe of the Hachems of the west, called Sidi-Embarek, left his tribe with two servants, and came to Milianah. At Milianah, as he was poor, he sent away his servants, who travelled down along the banks of the Cheliff, and founded the tribe of Hachems, which is still extant in the neighbourhood. As to SidiEmbarek, he betook himself to Coléah, and there engaged himself as a rhames, * under one Ismaël ; but Sidi-Embarek, instead of working, spent his time in sleep. Meanwhile, marvellous to relate, his yoke of oxen ploughed of their own accord, and with so good a will, that at the end of the day, they had done more work than all the others together. This prodigy was repeated to Ismaël, who willing to assure himself of the fact by the
* A kind of farmer, paying a rent of one-fifth in kind,
testimony of his own eyes, one day hid himself near the spot, and saw Embarek stretched under a tree while his oxen were ploughing. * Ismaël, falling immediately upon his knees, cried to him: “ Thou art the elect of God, it is I who am thy servant, and thou my master.” Then immediately conducting him home, he treated him with the most profound respect. His reputation for holiness was soon spread afar, and from all parts. the people came to solicit his prayers and bring him offerings. His wealth shortly became considerable, but his influence was greater still, and he was respected by the tribes themselves. The descendants of this holy personage were long looked upon as under the especial protection of Heaven, and in such skilful hands their power had continued considerable.
At the time of the war with the French, Ben Allall, chief of the Embareks, a revered marabout and illustrious warrior, was appointed by Abd-elKader Khalifat at Milianah, and his first exercise of power was to destroy the influence which the Omars had for many years past succeeded in wielding over the tribes.
The annals of the family of the Omars, are * Tradition adds, moreover, that the partridges even approached Si-Embarek in order to pick the vermin off him.
more curious still than those of the Ben-Yousefs and Si-Embareks. Their history* is connected with the making of one of those Turkish fortunes which, according to the Arab saying, are achieved by the strength of the arm, and the noble devotion of a woman, whose heroic courage twice restored the fallen greatness of her family, has in these later times invested it afresh with a character of grandeur.
The most celebrated of this family was one of that class of soldiers, each of whom on entering the army might say to himself:-“If it be written, I shall become a Pasha! Mehemet Ali, the same who became viceroy, having put in at Mételin on his way to Egypt, met Omar, + whose brother had for some years held a high post under the Pasha of Algiers. Mehemet Ali and Omar formed a friendship together, and set out in company to seek their fortunes, but no sooner had Omar reached Egypt than he received a letter from his brother Mohamed requiring his presence. The newly made friends parted, though not without a mutual oath that he who first succeeded should share his fortune with the other. At Oran where his brother had become the bey's Khalifat, Omar's handsome figure, his eye whose glance none could withstand, his long black moustachios, and his striking beauty, procured him the office of chaous. * Shortly afterwards, the daughter of a Turk of Milianah, by name Jemna, whom all cited as a marvel, became his wife. But Omar's prosperity was not lasting. His brother Mohamed, whose influence with the Pasha gave umbrage to the bey of Oran, was thrown into prison, and the bey ordered his execution. Omar was likewise dragged into his brother's dungeon. When the executioner entered, he was about to spring forward to defend his brother, but his brother restraining him said, “My hour of death is come, my child. It is not given to man to resist the power of the Highest ; I charge thee only to pray every day that he may choose thee as the avenger of my death, and remember that thou art the husband of my wife and the father of my children.” Thenceforth to compass this vengeance became the sole object of Omar's
* We owe our knowledge of the particulars of this history to the kindness of M. Roche, our consul at Tangiers, who was good enough to impart to me some of the results of his interesting investigations. I was myself well acquainted with the son of Omar here alluded to.
† He was born in 1775.