Studio: international art — 11.1897

Page: 181
DOI issue: DOI article: DOI Page: Citation link:
License: Free access  - all rights reserved Use / Order
1 cm
Tangier as a Sketching Ground

of kneeling camels unveiling their sleepy eyes and
gazing round them with that look of unspeakable
disgust of beasts who have toiled since the deluge,
as who should say, " Since Abraham we have borne
your burdens through countless deserts, and their
sands are not more ungrateful than are you men
who have bestridden and belaboured us all these
ages and rob our very stomachs when you thirst."

And through all the murmur of many chaffering
tongues, there is the persistent wail of the music
of the east and the bell of the water-seller, while
above our heads is the sun, and at our feet a purple

Let us pass under the archway by the mosque.
The shade is pleasant and there is a measured
cadence of children's voices ; through a doorway
we can see a number of small shaven crowns,
little Moslems in many-coloured gelawbs, their
dark eyes roving round searching for mischief and
delight, and their lips repeating verses from the
Koran which a board-school teacher in a white
turban reads from the holy book—verily, the world
is everywhere much of a piece.

In the mysterious gloom of another chamber
just beyond, I remember there was wont to sit an
ancient white bearded man, paled and almost
transparent with age. He waited there for
corpses ! It was his business to wash and prepare
them for the grave, and so he sat and awaited the
doom of mortals. There are people who might not

care to choose this as a calling; not lively enough
forsooth, and yet there is much to be said for
this blanched elder's occupation—it was certain
beyond the calculations of an insurance office ; it
was more tranquil than that of a custodian of a
gallery of old masters ; he injured no man, and
importuned no man's custom. Perhaps the soul
of him was nourished and uplifted in the grey
gloom of his surroundings, when the dispossessed
corpse of what was some wealthy man was brought
to him for his offices. He was the chamberlain
of the great Leveller, the groom-in-waiting upon
Death ; he saw that all, gentle and simple, who
passed into that dim kingdom did so with befitting

But I hear you say that all this is literary busi-
ness, and has nothing for a painter. Perhaps so,
and yet not altogether.

But it is the country round Tangier, or rather
I should say Tangier and its surroundings, that
would give you the keenest pleasure. The beauti-
ful bay curves graciously towards Gibel Moussa,
the sands are a thoroughfare for the country
people, whereon there are for ever passing to and
fro foot passengers and most various beasts of
burden, horses, camels, mules, asses, and women;
the white haiks glittering brightly against the
shimmering blue of the sea, which does not disdain
twice each day to cleanse and water this noble

fee ft

Was ' - M


loading ...