Here Are Quarters Specially Devoted To The
Aristocratic Landed Proprietors, And Others To The Busy Merchants.
Shereefs are the genuine nobles, or seigneurs of Nefta, from among whom
the Bey is wont to choose the Governors of the city.
The complexion of
the population is dark, from its alliance with Negress slaves, like most
towns advanced in the Desert. The manners of the people are pure. They
are strict observers of the law, and very hospitable to strangers.
Captain B., however, thought that, had he not been under the protection
of the Bey, his head would not have been worth much in these districts.
Every traveller almost forms a different opinion, and frequently the
very opposite estimate, respecting the strangers amongst whom he is
sojourning. A few Jewish artizans have always been tolerated here, on
condition of wearing a black handkerchief round their heads, and not
mount a horse, &c. Recently the Bey, however, by solemn decrees, has
placed the Jews exactly on the same footing of rights and privileges as
the rest of his subjects.
Nefta is the intermediate _entrepot_ of commerce which Tunis pours
towards the Sahara, and for this reason is called by the Arabs, "the
gate of Tunis;" but the restrictive system established by the Turks
during late years at Ghadumes, has greatly damaged the trade between the
Jereed and the Desert. The movement of the markets and caravans takes
place at the beginning of spring, and at the end of summer. Only a
portion of the inhabitants is devoted to commerce, the rich landed
proprietory and the Shereefs representing the aristocracy, lead the
tranquil life of nobles, the most void of care, and, perhaps, the
happiest of which contemplative philosophy ever dreamed.
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