Page:Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London, Volume 1 (2nd edition).djvu/179

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Geographical Notice of the Empire of Marocco.

Goitre is unknown among them; their language unintelligible to our interpreter, nor, generally speaking, did they understand Arabic. We couversed through the medium of the scheik of the Jews residing in this valley, and obtained correctly some hundred words of their language; they dwell in cottages, built of rough stones and mud, with slightly sloping slate roofs; their chief occupation is hunting; mix very little with the Arabs and Moors of the plan; wherever their valley afforded a spot of ground it was enclosed and cultivated; to us, they were hospitable and generous. In each village are many Jewish families, who have fled hi&er to avoid the degradation and taxation to which they are liable in the cities; this valley contains ten villages, between four and five thousand inhabitants, one-fourth of which are Jews. Saltpetre is found here, and good gunpowder made. Copper-mines are said to have been worked at the upper end of the valley. How little is known of the central recessed of the Atlas! Doubtless these valleys are all inhabited by a race of men probably us unmixed as any existing, of whom nothing is known, hardly even a few words of their language! Here is a field for an inquiring mind.

But to proceed: for two more hours continued ascending; ground covered with scanty herbage and stunted cedar; reached the limit of snow, and continued some distance above, till finding the thawing snow giving way under our feet and our guides declaring they would no longer accompany us, we reluctantly halted, and gazed on the highest peaks, still far beyond our reach, the space between us and them one mass of untrodden snow. Our barometer here showed an elevation of six thousand four hundred feet. The mountain on which we stood was of hard red sand-stone, strata running in an east and west direction, dip 10° south; we had thus only passed limestone[1], micaceous schist, and sand-stone, only transition and secondary rocks; no traces of the primitive, except


  1. This formation, it is believed, is of secondary limestone, and probably is generally diffused throughout the skirts of the Atlas, forming the basis of all the lower ranges of the mountains to the height, perhaps, of three or four thousand feet. Of marble we saw nothing in our journey, except in some of the buildings in Marocco; and, after much inquiry could not decide, from the ignorance or apathy of the Moors, whence it came, but it is believed from Italy. The great columns and pillars of white marble yet existing in this country are between Faz and Mekinez, and described as the ruins of a triumphal arch and temple; but resso-antico and other ancient marbles, which have been, historically, almost proved to have come from Mauritania, we could hear nothing.

    Of the age of Atlas it would be difficult to form a conjecture; but if the very plausible theory of M. Elie de Beaumont be correct, Atlas is of later date than the range of Erzgebirge in Saxony and the Cote d'or in Burgundy,—than the Pyrenees and the Apennines,—than the gigantic Mount Blanc and the south-western Alps, and probably coeval with Mont Gothard and the central Alps, the Caucasus, the Balkan, and the mighty range of Himaleh in Asia—that is, judging from the Alps in Switzerland of a comparatively recent date, or elevated since the deposition of both secondary and tertiary strata.