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List Of Contents | Contents of Ali Pacha, by Dumas, Pere
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the retirement of his fairy-like palace by the lake he could enjoy
voluptuous pleasures to the full.  But already seventy-eight years
had passed over his head, and old age had laid the burden of
infirmity upon him.  His dreams were dreams of blood, and vainly he
sought refuge in chambers glittering with gold, adorned with
arabesques, decorated with costly armour and covered with the richest
of Oriental carpets, remorse stood ever beside him.  Through the
magnificence which surrounded him there constantly passed the gale
spectre of Emineh, leading onwards a vast procession of mournful
phantoms, and the guilty pasha buried his face in his hands and
shrieked aloud for help.  Sometimes, ashamed of his weakness, he
endeavoured to defy both the reproaches of his conscience and the
opinion of the multitude, and sought to encounter criticism with
bravado.  If, by chance, he overheard some blind singer chanting in
the streets the satirical verses which, faithful to the poetical and
mocking genius of them ancestors, the Greeks frequently composed
about him, he would order the singer to be brought, would bid him
repeat his verses, and, applauding him, would relate some fresh
anecdote of cruelty, saying, "Go, add that to thy tale; let thy
hearers know what I can do; let them understand that I stop at
nothing in order to overcome my foes!  If I reproach myself with
anything, it is only with the deeds I have sometimes failed to carry
out."

Sometimes it was the terrors of the life after death which assailed
him.  The thought of eternity brought terrible visions in its train,
and Ali shuddered at the prospect of Al-Sirat, that awful bridge,
narrow as a spider's thread and hanging over the furnaces of Hell;
which a Mussulman must cross in order to arrive at the gate of
Paradise.  He ceased to joke about Eblis, the Prince of Evil, and
sank by degrees into profound superstition.  He was surrounded by
magicians and soothsayers; he consulted omens, and demanded talismans
and charms from the dervishes, which he had either sewn into his
garments, or suspended in the most secret parts of his palace, in
order to avert evil influences.  A Koran was hung about his neck as a
defence against the evil eye, and frequently he removed it and knelt
before it, as did Louis XI before the leaden figures of saints which
adorned his hat.  He ordered a complete chemical laboratory from
Venice, and engaged alchemists to distill the water of immortality,
by the help of which he hoped to ascend to the planets and discover
the Philosopher's Stone.  Not perceiving any practical result of
their labours, he ordered, the laboratory to be burnt and the
alchemists to be hung.

Ali hated his fellow-men.  He would have liked to leave no survivors,
and often regretted his inability to destroy all those who would have
cause to rejoice at his death, Consequently he sought to accomplish
as much harm as he could during the time which remained to him, and
for no possible reason but that of hatred, he caused the arrest of
both Ibrahim Pasha, who had already suffered so much at his hands,
and his son, and confined them both in a dungeon purposely
constructed under the grand staircase of the castle by the lake, in
order that he might have the pleasure of passing over their heads
each time he left his apartments or returned to them.

It was not enough for Ali merely to put to death those who displeased
him, the form of punishment must be constantly varied in order to
produce a fresh mode of suffering, therefore new tortures had to be
constantly invented.  Now it was a servant, guilty of absence without
leave, who was bound to a stake in the presence of his sister, and
destroyed by a cannon placed six paces off, but only loaded with
powder, in order to prolong the agony; now, a Christian accused of
having tried to blow up Janina by introducing mice with tinder
fastened to their tails into the powder magazine, who was shut up in
the cage of Ali's favourite tiger and devoured by it.

The pasha despised the human race as much as he hated it.  A European
having reproached him with the cruelty shown to his subjects, Ali
replied:--

"You do not understand the race with which I have to deal.  Were I to
hang a criminal on yonder tree, the sight would not deter even his
own brother from stealing in the crowd at its foot.  If I had an old
man burnt alive, his son would steal the ashes and sell them.  The
rabble can be governed by fear only, and I am the one man who does it
successfully."

His conduct perfectly corresponded to his ideas.  One great
feast-day, two gipsies devoted their lives in order to avert the evil
destiny of the pasha; and, solemnly convoking on their own heads all
misfortunes which might possibly befall him, cast themselves down
from the palace roof.  One arose with difficulty, stunned and
suffering, the other remained on the ground with a broken leg.  Ali
gave them each forty francs and an annuity of two pounds of maize
daily, and considering this sufficient, took no further trouble about
them.

Every year, at Ramadan, a large sum was distributed in alms among
poor women without distinction of sect.  But Ali contrived to change
this act of benevolence into a barbarous form of amusement.

As he possessed several palaces in Janina at a considerable distance
from each other, the one at which a distribution was to take place
was each day publicly announced, and when the women had waited there
for an hour or two, exposed to sun, rain or cold, as the case might
be, they were suddenly informed that they must go to some other
palace, at the opposite end of the town.  When they got there, they
usually had to wait for another hour, fortunate if they were not sent
off to a third place of meeting.  When the time at length arrived, an
eunuch appeared, followed by Albanian soldiers armed with staves,
carrying a bag of money, which he threw by handfuls right into the
midst of the assembly.  Then began a terrible uproar.  The women
rushed to catch it, upsetting each other, quarreling, fighting, and
uttering cries of terror and pain, while the Albanians, pretending to
enforce order, pushed into the crowd, striking right and left with
their batons.  The pacha meanwhile sat at a window enjoying the
spectacle, and impartially applauding all well delivered blows, no
matter whence they came.  During these distributions, which really
benefitted no one, many women were always severely hurt, and some
died from the blows they had received.

Ali maintained several carriages for himself and his family, but
allowed no one else to share in this prerogative.  To avoid being
jolted, he simply took up the pavement in Janina and the neighbouring
towns, with the result that in summer one was choked by dust, and in
winter could hardly get through the mud.  He rejoiced in the public
inconvenience, and one day having to go out in heavy rain, he
remarked to one of the officers of his escort, "How delightful to be
driven through this in a carriage, while you will have the pleasure
of following on horseback!  You will be wet and dirty, whilst I smoke
my pipe and laugh at your condition."

He could not understand why Western sovereigns should permit their
subjects to enjoy the same conveniences and amusements as themselves.
"If I had a theatre," he said, "I would allow no one to be present at
performances except my own children; but these idiotic Christians do
not know how to uphold their own dignity."

There was no end to the mystifications which it amused the pacha to
carry out with those who approached him.

One day he chose to speak Turkish to a Maltese merchant who came to
display some jewels.  He was informed that the merchant understood
only Greek and Italian.  He none the less continued his discourse
without allowing anyone to translate what he said into Greek.  The
Maltese at length lost patience, shut up his cases, and departed.
Ali watched him with the utmost calm, and as he went out told him,
still in Turkish, to come again the next day.

An unexpected occurrence seemed, like the warning finger of Destiny,
to indicate an evil omen for the pacha's future.  "Misfortunes arrive
in troops," says the forcible Turkish proverb, and a forerunner of
disasters came to Ali Dacha.

One morning he was suddenly roused by the Sheik Yussuf, who had
forced his way in, in spite of the guards.  "Behold!" said he,
handing Ali a letter, "Allah, who punishes the guilty, has permitted
thy seraglio of Tepelen to be burnt.  Thy splendid palace, thy
beautiful furniture, costly stuffs, cashmeers, furs, arms, all are
destroyed!  And it is thy youngest and best beloved son, Salik Bey
himself, whose hand kindled the flames!"  So saying; Yussuf turned
and departed, crying with a triumphant voice, "Fire! fire! fire!"

Ali instantly ordered his horse, and, followed by his guards, rode
without drawing rein to Tepelen.  As soon as he arrived at the place
where his palace had formerly insulted the public misery, he hastened
to examine the cellars where his treasures were deposited.  All was
intact, silver plate, jewels, and fifty millions of francs in gold,
enclosed in a well over which he had caused a tower to be built.
After this examination he ordered all the ashes to be carefully
sifted in hopes of recovering the gold in the tassels and fringes of
the sofas, and the silver from the plate and the armour.  He next
proclaimed through the length and breadth of the land, that, being by
the hand of Allah deprived of his house, and no longer possessing
anything in his native town, he requested all who loved him to prove
their affection by bringing help in proportion.  He fixed the day of
reception for each commune, and for almost each individual of any
rank, however small, according to their distance from Tepelen,
whither these evidences of loyalty were to be brought.

During five days Ali received these forced benevolences from all
parts.  He sat, covered with rags, on a shabby palm-leaf mat placed.
at the outer gate of his ruined palace, holding in his left hand a
villainous pipe of the kind used by the lowest people, and in his

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