The Arabs are generally thin, meagre figures, though possessing expressive and sometimes handsome features; great violence of gesture and muscular action; irritable and fiery, they are unlike the dwellers in towns and cities; noisy and loud, their common conversational intercourse appears to be a continual strife and quarrel. They are, however, brave, eloquent, and deeply sensible of shame. Major Denham once knew an Arab of the lower class refuse his food for days together, because in a skirmish his gun had missed fire; to use his own words, "Gulbi wahr, (my heart aches,) Bin-dikti kadip hashimtui gedam el naz. (my gun lied, and shamed me before the people.)” Much has been said of their want of cleanliness; they may, however, be pronounced to be much more cleanly than the lower orders of people in any European country. Circumcision, and the shaving the hair from the head, and every other part of the body; the frequent ablutions, which their religion compels them to perform; all tend to enforce practices of cleanliness. Vermin, from the climate of their country, they, as well as every other person, must be annoyed with; and although the lower ranks have not the means of frequently changing their covering, for it can be scarcely called apparel, yet they endeavour to free themselves as much as possible from the persecuting vermin. Their mode of dress has undergone no change for centuries back, and the words of Fenelon will at this day apply with equal truth to their present appearance. “Leurs habits sont aises a faire, car en ce doux climat on ne porte qu’une piece d’etoffe fine et legere, qui n’est point taillee et que chacun met a long plis autour de son corps pour la modestie; lui donnant la forme qu’il veut.”
During the time that Major Denham had been occupied with transacting his business with the bashaw of Tripoli, Dr. Oudney and Lieutenant Clapperton had determined to make an excursion to the westward of Mourzouk, for the purpose of ascertaining the course of the rivers, and the local curiosities of the country. Accordingly on the 8th June 1822, Dr. Oudney, Lieutenant Clapperton, and Mr. Hillman, departed from Mourzouk, accompanied by Hadje Ali, brother of Ben Bucher, Ben Khalloom, Mahommed Neapolitan Mamelouk, and Mahomet, son of their neighbour Hadje Mahmud. It was their intention to have proceeded direct to Ghraat, and laboured hard to accomplish their object; obstacle after obstacle was, however, thrown in their way by some individuals in Mourzouk. Several came begging them not to go, as the road was dangerous, and the people not all under the bashaw’s control. They at length hired camels from a Targee, Hadge Said, but only to accompany them as far as the wadey Ghrurby.