8th. The plateau of Mourzuk, consisting of shallow valleys, ridges of low sandstone hills, and naked flats, or plains, sometimes of sand, at others covered with pebbles and small stones.
All these zones beyond the Atlas are visited by only occasional showers, or are entirely without rain, the vegetation depending upon irrigation from wells. I do not go into further detail on this subject, because, although our line of route was new, this stretch of country is tolerably well known to the geographical reader.
I have omitted to mention, or to lay much stress on the fact, that we were unable to procure sufficient camels at Tripoli to convey our goods all the way to Mourzuk. We were compelled to leave three camel-loads behind, in the first place, at Gharian; these were subsequently got on to Kaleebah, and thence to Mizdah: but there the influence of Izhet Pasha’s circular letter entirely failed to procure for us three extra camels, and we were compelled to push on to Mourzuk, leaving part of our goods in the oasis. This circumstance caused me a great deal of annoyance, both on the route and after our arrival, for it was a long time before we got in all our baggage. However, it at last arrived, and the delay only served to illustrate the difficulty of procuring conveyance in these dismal countries, and to lead us into considerable expense.
The Oasis of Fezzan—Population—Ten Districts—Their Denomination and Condition—Sockna—Honn—Worm of the Natron Lakes—Zoueelah—Mixed Race—Improvements in Mourzuk—Heavy Ottoman Yoke—Results of the Census—Amount of Revenue—Military Force—Arab Cavaliers—Barracks—Method of Recruiting—Turkish System superior to French—Razzias—Population of Mourzuk—Annual Market—Articles of Traffic—Acting-Governor and his Coadjutors—Story of a faithless Woman—Transit Duties in Fezzan—Slave Trade—Sulphur in the Syrtis—Proposed Colony from Malta.
The Pashalic of Fezzan, although it occupies a considerable space upon the map—advancing like a peninsula from the line of Barbary countries into the Sahara—is in reality a very insignificant province. From all that I can learn, its entire population does not exceed twenty-six thousand souls, scattered about in little oases over a vast extent of country. It is, in fact, a portion of the Sahara, in which fertile valleys occur a little more frequently than in the other portions. Immense deserts, sometimes perfectly arid, but at others slightly sprinkled with herbage, separate these valleys; and are periodically traversed by caravans, great and small, which in the course of time have covered the country with a perfect network of tracks.