Travels Through The Empire Of Morocco By John Buffa




LONDON:  1810.


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LONDON: 1810.


My motives for publishing this volume of Travels, will be best explained by a detail of the circumstances which gave rise to my journey to Morocco. In 1805, I was serving in the capacity of Physician to His Majesty's Forces, at the Depot Hospital in the Isle of Wight; whence, by dexterous management of the Army Medical Board[*], I was removed, and placed upon half-pay, in June of that year. At this period, it occurred to Mr. Turnbull, Chairman of the Committee of Merchants trading to the Levant, that it would be of advantage to the public, were the offices of Garrison Surgeon of Gibraltar, and Inspecting Medical Officer of the ships doing quarantine, which were then united in the person of Mr. Pym, separated and made distinct appointments; and he was pleased to think that, from my local knowledge, and other circumstances, I should be a proper person to fill the latter of these offices. This was also the opinion of His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent, Governor of the garrison. Representations were accordingly made on the subject, to the then Secretary of State for the War and Colonial Department, Lord Castlereagh; and it was so fully understood that the proposition had been assented to on his part, that an order was issued from the Transport Board, to provide a passage for myself and family to Gibraltar. There I waited some months, in the expectation that the commission would be sent after me, but in vain. In the mean time, I received a communication from Mr. Mattra, British Consul General at Tangiers, requesting that I would cross over to Barbary, and attend His Excellency the Governor of Larache, First Minister of the Emperor of Morocco, then labouring under a dangerous illness. It was on my return from this journey, that I found a letter from Mr. Turnbull (See Appendix, No. III. p. 227), stating that my old friends of the Medical Board had been at their usual work of persecution, and by their scandalous misrepresentations to the new Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, Mr. Windham, had succeeded in preventing the appointment which His Royal Highness the Governor of Gibraltar had been graciously pleased to design for me.

During my residence in Barbary it was my good fortune to gain the approbation and friendship of the Emperor of Morocco, and of the principal Officers of his Court, by which I was enabled to give facilities to the procuring of fresh provisions for our Navy, and render to my country other services, not strictly in the line of my profession. (See the various documents at the end of Appendix.) Having succeeded in restoring the Governor of Larache to health, and performed some other cures, acceptable to the Emperor of Morocco, I considered the objects for which I had crossed over to Barbary accomplished, and returned to Gibraltar, after having received the most flattering marks of distinction, both from the Imperial Court, and from Lord Collingwood, Commander of the British fleet in the Mediterranean. The letter of the Emperor of Morocco to His Majesty (Appendix, No. X. p. 239) is an ample proof of the disposition of that prince in my favour.

Finding the principal aim of my voyage to Gibraltar frustrated by the machinations of the Medical Junta, whom I have already stated as ever active in mischief, I determined to return to England. The letter of the Emperor of Morocco to His Majesty, and a general certificate, couched in the strongest terms of approbation, and signed by all the principal merchants of Gibraltar, I thought were documents, which, added to my correspondence with Lord Collingwood, and the officers of his fleet, would not fail to have procured me a favourable reception, and some attention to my claims.

But the letter of the Emperor of Morocco, as it still remains unanswered, I cannot but believe has never been presented to His Majesty. Nay, the pressing solicitations, with which I have since been honoured on the part of the Emperor of Morocco, through his principal Minister, to return to that country, I have hitherto been obliged to delay answering, that I might not, on the one hand, insult, by evasive or false replies, a government from which I had experienced such friendship and respect; or, on the other hand, be compelled, by a true statement, to compromise my own.

The principal design of publishing this account of my journey to the Barbary States, is to shew the good policy, on the part of this country, of keeping upon terms of strict amity with the government of Morocco. The neglect, which, on this occasion, has been evinced of the Emperor's letter, I cannot but consider, in a public point of view, as extremely reprehensible, independently of the private injury it has occasioned to myself. Whether this neglect arose from the misrepresentations of the Army Medical Board, or from those of any other persons, I will not pretend to determine; but in any case, a most censurable disregard, even of the forms of civility, towards a Prince, who, however we may affect to despise his influence in the great political scale, has it always in his power materially to promote or to impede the interests of this country in the Levant, must attach to some quarter or other.

[*] As the members of that body are expected shortly to be dismissed from their situations, I think it right, lest at any future period injustice should be done to innocent individuals, by confounding them with the guilty, here to state that Sir Lucas Pepys, Bart. Mr. Thomas Keate, and Mr. Francis Knight, Apothecaries, at present compose the body illegally calling themselves the Army Medical Board, whose conduct for a great many years has brought disgrace and disaster on that important department. For a detail of their conduct, see "An Analytical View of the Medical Department of the British Army, by Charles Maclean, M.D." 8vo.

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