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Spaniards from Oran. The Bey, as a reward for their services, gave them the usufruct of the territory of the Beni-Hamer, who were the allies of Spain, and settled them in the rich plain of the Melata, the Beni-Hamer, being obliged to remove to the other side of the mountain, sixteen leagues south of Oran. From this time forward the Douairs and the Zmélas became altogether instrumental to the will of the Turkish power; they were the whip which the conquerors brandished to chastise the rebel tribes, and to gatherin taxes; in a word, vassals who, in exchange for their military services, enjoyed certain immunities bringing large profits. They had become the marghzen of the province. This word in Arabic signifies magazine or arsenal; that is, the force on which authority depends to carry its purposes into execution.
In 1830, when French conquest destroyed the Turkish power, Mustapha was the cherif of the Douairs. He was the most considerable man amongst them, both by birth and by his personal qualities, for he was descended from Ouled-Aftan, an ancient house of the Mehal, the first conquerors of Africa, whom Turkish policy had taken into the Marghzen; and his reputation for uprightness
was so great that he was known by the name of Mustapha-el-Haq (Mustapha, the Justice). His word was regarded as the best guarantee. Never, indeed, did Mustapha violate it. He had promised fidelity to the Turk, and whilst the Dey preserved a shadow of authority he remained true to him ; and from the time he pledged his faith to us, he kept it loyally to the day of his death.
If you have ever seen the picture of Horace Vernet, Abraham and Agar, you have seen old Mustapha. There was in him the same majesty, the same grandeur; the aquiline nose, the white beard, the two eyes darting out lightning, and looking straight out like the eyes of an eagle ; his look fascinated; purpose, decision, and courage, were engraved on the features of the noble old man; and on beholding him, one felt convinced that death would strike him down before he would bend. And such was the character of his life, from the time when the Arab tribes of the province of Oran, delivered from the yoke that had weighed so heavily on them, abandoned themselves to disorder and anarchy. The Emperor of Morocco attempted at first to establish his authority; but on the representations of France, he recalled the envoys he had sent to
Mascara and Tlemcen. Mustapha and his Douairs had been the last to salute as sultan the Cheriff of the West; nevertheless, when in 1832, three t ibes, in order to re-establish order and security, had proclaimed the son of Mahiddin, El-HadjAbd-el-Kader, the chief of the country, Mustapha, in his pride of birth and race, would not consent to submit to a man of the Zaouia (a religious association); and after having twice beaten him whose power we established by the treaty of Desmichels, and seeing his offers to the French General repulsed, and all the losses he had inflicted on Abd-el-Kader repaired by the French, rather than bow before the new Sultan, he dismissed his tribes to the plain of Melata, commanding them to submit, and retired himself, with fifty thousand families devoted to him, into the Mechouard of Tlemcen (a fortified place) where the Coulouglis* were courageously defending themselves. In 1835, however, the Douairs made their submission to General Trézel ; and a year afterwards, Mustapha, set free by the occupation of Tlemcen, was again at the head of his brave cavaliers, and commenced rendering us those glorious services which merited, and have gained, the admiration of the whole army.
* Sons of Turks by Arab mothers.
All the old officers and soldiers of our African columns still speak with enthusiasm of the man of the white beard; and in their recital of past combats delight in describing how the majestic old Musselman, standing upright in his golden stirrups, his haiks floating in the wind, his eyes sparkling with ardour, would cry out whilst firing off the first gun, Ellog-el-goum (uncouple the goum), when all his bold band, eager to distinguish themselves in the sight of their renowned chief, would rush into the melée. "I have but two enemies," he would often say, “Satan and ElHadj-Abd-el-Kader." His joy, therefore, was great when in the month of July, 1842, the columns of General Lamoriciere, quitting for the first time the Tell, "his horse trod once more on the plateaux of the Sersous. The column advanced as far as the blue mountains, and bivouacked at the foot of Goudjila, where Abdel-Kader had concealed, as in an inaccessible hiding place, stores which had hitherto escaped our researches. Those who were on this expedition have often related the story of the old
chief ascending to the top of the mountain, and there, like a prophet of the early ages, charging the winds to bear these words to his enemy: “Son of Mahiddin, on this ground is inscribed no name of a Marabout like thee. Conquest has torn it from those whom I served all my life ; it belongs now to those who have taken it with a strong hand; it will never be restored to thee who had but stolen it. With my blood and all my might I have aided the French in retaking their property. A soldier, my obedience is due only to soldiers. I have led them to the gates of the Sahara. Now death may come, for justice will soon be done upon thy vain ambition."
A fortnight after this the Marghzen returned to Oran, and celebrated, with much pomp, a new marriage of their chief. Subsequently Mustapha's ardour decreased. His time for repose had .come, he cherished his young wife, and was unwilling to lose the life which he had hitherto risked so freely. Nevertheless, in the month of June, 1843, he was on horseback at the head of his goums, and, after a succesful razzia, fell, with the column of General Lamoriciere, on the spoils of the Smala, on which the Duc D’Aumale had just made a successful attack.