THE SHAREEFA OF WAZAN.*
THE Life of the Shareefa. of Wazan is interesting from many different points of view. When it is remembered thab this lady is by birth an Englishwoman, and that she was brought up in the house of her father, the Governor of the Surrey County Gaol, her marriage with one of the holiest. men of the Mohammedan world presents a problem of extra- ordinary psychological interest. Further, since the year 1874 the Shareefa has lived in Morocco, an Eastern wife among' Eastern women, yet unsecluded owing to her English birth.. No wonder, then, that she has many curious facts to com- municate as to the manners and• customs of her adopted country. Finally the Shareefa, in a most ingenuous and unemotional manner, recounts the ghostly visitations of hem- dead father-in-law to this earth, visitations which seem to surprise no one in Morocco, and by which his English daughter-in-law was only faintly alarmed. With this wealth of entertaining material before one it is difficult to select passages for comment. It mist, however, be at once acknow- ledged that the Shareefa has no particular literary talent : her English is not always impeccable and her accounts of erients are sometimes more than a little muddled. On the other hand she is distinguished for one supremely excellent quality —she is never dull. Even the later pages, in which the domestic differences between herself and the Shareef are touched on, do not deserve the dismal adjective ; and the primitive method of the Moors, which was adopted by her husband's household, that of attempting to poison any one whose presence is unacceptable, certainly saved the Shareefa from monotony during the last period of her husband's life.
Of all these sources of interest the one which is far the most enticing to the student of human nature is the psychological problem of how life must look to the eyes of a typical Englishwoman of ordinary education married to personage whose sanctity is by no means h.fgs in his own country than that of the Pope in Rome. The Shareefa is apparently a member of the Church of England, and she . • mu Lilo Story. By Emily, Shareefa of Pitman, Edited for Mine. de Wazarr by S. L. Beneuean, Author of " Merotam," dm With a Preface by R. B..
Cunningham Graham. London : Edward Arnold. 112s. Bd. net.] •
certainly exhibits true Christian charity in her outlook on her husband's holiness. Her predominant emotion seems to be one of pleasure that the Shareef can do so much for the poor people of Morocco; and thougle the crowding and the pushing, the dust, the heat, and the noise of her journeys with the Shareof seem appalling, she meets them with a most perfect equanimity, nay, more, with joy that her husband should be able to confer so much help on a population ordinarily not too happy. All the same her journeys must have been terribly hard work, and the " zahrits," or cries of joy with which the Shareef was always acclaimed, would deafen most ordinary English ears. On the occasion of the marriage of the Shareef's daughter by another mother, Lalla Heba, a great journey from Tangier to Wazan was undertaken. The Shareef was obliged to go on first to prepare a fitting reception for the bride and her procession, and here is an account of how the unhappy Shareefa had to cope with the problem of starting off the bride and her escort and of the procession into Wazan :— " The Tangier ladies came in contingents to take leave of Lalla Reba. She was an immense favourite among them, and one and all brought wedding presents. Never shall I forget the hurry and scramble to get off. I thought all was arranged quite nicely, but to start some thirty Moorish women on a journey is a matter no European can ever understand. There is no idea of order. The excitement makes them beside themselves. They will squabble about nothing at a critical moment, and you never get one mounted on saddle or pack but what she will find fault with her seat a few minutes after. Perhaps some have never ridden before, and at the first movement of the mule will come a cropper in a most undignified manner. Then, when the litter was brought to the door for Lalla Hoba to travel in with a maid of honour, the doorway being well draped to prevent her being seen, the mem- bers of the household fell to tears and lamentations, many expressing real sorrow, while others joined in with hysterical cries. Once the cortege made a move the zahrits ' was heard from the house, and was taken up by outsiders far along the route. Muley Mohammed had strict orders to be in Wazan on the afternoon of the third day. I think we left on a Saturday at a.m., reaching Wazan the following Monday at 2 p.m. Such a hurried journey ! The children did a part of it on pack saddles with a Moor to guard them, so they could enjoy a sleep when desired. The enthusiasm displayed by the different villagers en route was most hearty, and various presents in kind, mostly cows and sheep, wore offered. Muley Mohammed, the Shareef's second son, led the cavalcade, and all had to keep up in the best way they could. I suppose we were about 200 souls all told. The Shareef met us about an hour's journey from Wazan with a brilliant retinue of Shorfa and the powder was made to speak as only Wazannis know how io do that portion of the welcome. From Tangier to Wazan they had not been remiss in their efforts to make as much noise as possible, and the wonder is that serious accidents did not occur, for they ram into the guns large measures of gunpowder, without regard to the capacity. I should think about 2,000 people were assembled in Wazan. One was jammed in on all sides. Personally, I felt my horse being led forcibly, and saw the Shareef beckoning to 1118. Amid shouting and screaming I reached him. 'Now follow me,' ho said. 'The children will be safe and enjoy the scene.' Wo slipped in among some gardens and over hedges at such a pace that only a few retainers kept up with us, and they, poor creatures! were completely exhausted when we arrived at the Sultan's garden, which was to be my quarters during my visit to the holy city of Wazan. I was at a loss to grasp the melon of this extra- ordinary race for life, and, as usual, my imagination conjured up all sorts of impossible things. I was off my horse before I knew where I was, so to speak, and to the Shareef's 'Come quickly' I rushed along, up a staircase on to a roof, where a lovely pstnorama was before me—all Wazan, and yonder the bride-elect's proces- sion with wavering banners, native music, and the multitudes in gala costume As for powder-play it never ceased."
While visiting Wazau. the Shareefa took the opportunity of going to pay formal visits to her husband's three divorced wives. They received her with varying degrees of cordiality.
The lady whom she calls "Divorcée No. 2" was, in fact, any-. thing but cordial, but "Divorcée No. 3" welcomed her English supplanter with extreme friendliness, and the reader cannot help feeling that only Mr. Bernard Shaw could do justice to the conversation which must have ensued. Alas ! the unfor- tunate Lalla Hobe, did not enjoy her happiness long, as she died, tenderly nursed by the Shareefa, after the birth of her baby. The account of the funeral procession is extremely impressive, and the reader will have much sympathy for Lalla Heba,.
Naturally the Shareefa is a past-mistress in all the domestic arts of Morocco, and she gives delightful accounts of many points of household management. She states that the Moors are exceedingly particular as regards cleanliness in their cookery, and she describes in great detail the ceremonial pro- cess of tea-making. The present writer, having in Morocco partaken of tea made exactly in this manner and thoroughly flavoured with mint, can testify that the decoction is truly abominable ; and, indeed, has the same opinion with regard to " coua-cous," the staple dish of the Moors. The Shareefa's visit to the Riff country about the year 1886 is full of topical interest in these days, and the account of the trouble they had with their baggage camels is very entertaining.
"I think we were five days in this province, so to speak. The last encampment near Melilla was in a very pretty valley. Hero a camel with the kitchen utensils ran away down the slope, just before we reached our quarters. To see that big ungainly animal running for all he was worth with the Arabs after him, shouting, fivstioulating, and making such an uproar, consequently frighten- ing the poor beast more and more, was more than comical. Finally ho arrived on the plain in the valley, when an attempt was made to catch him. I never knew that a camel could buck something like a horse, but this one did, and at each fling a saucepan, coffee- pot, or perhaps a plate would go flying in the air. It looked like the expiring efforts of a set piece at a firework exhibition. The animal would stand still RS though defying every ono, and when the Arabs wished to close in, it commenced its gyrations, to the extermination almost of our pots and pans. Anything so funny I never witnessed in my life, and every one laughed till they could laugh no more."
We cannot resist quoting the Shareefa's account of the first apparition of her father-in-law. The ghost is so well authenticated that it might seem well for the Society for Psychical Research to investigate the subject.
"It was while my husband was away on one of these shooting expeditions that X beheld an apparition. Both children slept in my room when their father was absent. The younger was rest- less in his cot at my side. The elder was in my bed. About 1.80 a.m. I was dozing, and thought I would just give another look at the child. Finding him in a nice sleep I thought I could settle down, when all at once a bright star seemed to be hovering over the chimney-piece. I had put out the candle and only a night-light remained. I looked again, and this light moved toward the foot of my bed, gliding along quite slowly, and then stopped. I looked again, trembling from head to foot, when suddenly the form of a man appeared. It was a venerable face, with a long white beard. Tho body was wrapped in a white garment, draped over the shoulders (' balk ' is the Moorish name) ; the forehead and head were indistineishable, as though a mist surrounded them. I took the baby into my bed and covered both children and myself under the bedclothes: I wanted to call out, but feared to awaken the children. Then a little courage came to me, so I peeped to see if there was really anything, when I saw the appari- tion pass through the locked door. After it had disappeared, I lighted the candle and made a tour of inspection, which revealed nothing. I could not sleep, and was very glad when daylight appeared. I told no ono, fearing to scare my English nurse, and not knowing how the Moors would take my statement. When the Shareof returned from his hunting expedition I related all that had happened, naturally expecting him to sympathize with me, but, instead, in a very calm way he replied, 'Oh, did you see him? It is my father. I often see him, so don't be alarmed if he comes another time.' A few nights after I was translating Hohlf's book on Wazan, and the Shareef had fallen asleep, when the same apparition again occurred. I called my husband to look, for- getting his injunction not to speak unless spoken to. All he did was just to look and turn over, and soon he was fast asleep."
There are very many other parts of the Shareefa's auto- biography which are worthy of quotation. The account of the thousands of babies she has vaccinated ; of the home sanctuary which every Shareef has to maintain; of her two boys, their education and their subsequent marriages—all those are interesting matters to which it would be pleasant to direct the reader's attention, but perhaps enough has been said to send him direct to the book. As to the Shareefa herself, she tells us that her marriage is by no means a subject of regret to her in spite of its rather unfor- tunate ending. If she, the chief person concerned, can say this, no one else has any right to cavil. She has done an enormous amount to lighten the physical burdens of Moorish womanhood, and it is to be hoped that her useful life may be prolonged in Tangier, so that she may continue to teach her fellow women the rudiments of hygiene and physiology.