Residing there during several years, I acquired an excellent knowledge of the language, manners, and peculiar practices of the people, when I was at length prevailed upon to join a party of Oranese merchants, to whom I had been recommended, through Cattanio’s influence, by their king. They were men of approved worth and of the kindest manners, and with them I prepared to make a commercial tour through the country, visiting various regions of Africa, in which we discovered many great and populous cities.’In several of these countries we met with seminaries of instruction, with their regular professors of different sciences, paid and appointed by the people.
There are, moreover, different hospitals instituted for the relief of the impoverished and distressed, who are there supplied with a regular subsistence, it being a principle of their religion to bestow alms, as pleasing in the sight of God. And I solemnly aver that I have met with more instances of true charity and kindness’ from what are termed these uncivilized people than I ever had the good fortune to do among those who are called Christians. Among other splendid places, I visited a noble city, built in the age of King Mansor, who had likewise been supreme pontifex or high priest of Morocco.
Times of King Mans
Some of their national chronicles were here exhibited to me, composed in the Arabic character, which bore ample witness to the diligence with which they record the most remarkable public events. Being very well versed in the language, I amused myself with perusing various portions of them, but more particularly those relating to the times of King Mansor. I thence learned that among other amusements he was immoderately fond of the chase; and it one day so happened, that being on a hunting excursion, he was surprised by a terrific storm, which, with irresistible fury laying waste both com and woodlands, soon dispersed his courtiers on all sides in search of shelter.
Mistaking his way in the confusion which ensued, King Mansor, separated at length from his companions, wandered through the forest until nightfall, and such was the tempestuous raging of the winds, that, almost despairing of finding shelter, he checked his steed, doubtful which way he should venture to proceed. From the terrific darkness of the sky, relieved only by sheets of flashing light shooting across the far horizon, he was fearful of going farther, lest he should incur still greater danger, cither by riding into pitfalls or the deep marshes bordering the forest grounds.