Ali Bey

, an adventurer, who acted a most distinguished part against the Ottoman empire in the last century, was born in Natolia in 1728, and received at his birth the name of Joseph. His father was a Greek priest, of a distinguished family, who educated him with great care, designing him to succeed him: but, at thirteen years of age, Joseph being hunting in a neighbouring forest, robbers fell on his company, and carried him off to Grand Cairo: here he was sold to Ibrahim, a lieutenant of the janisaries, who had him circumcised, clothed him in the dress of the mamalukes, and called him Ali: he gave him masters in the Turkish and Arabic languages, and in horsemanship, and, by kind treatment, made him by degrees satisfied with his new station. In a course of years, he succeeded in these languages, shewed wonderful dexterity in the use of his arms, and became so dear to his master, that he raised him rapidly in his household, and created him a cachef or governor, at the age of twenty-two.

In this station, he manifested his equity and good administration of justice, improved the discipline of the mamalukes, and laid the foundation of his future greatness. Here he gained the favour of the pasha Rahiph, who, discovering his merit, became his protector. He remained several years in this station, until his patron Ibrahim was elected emir al hagi, or prince of the caravan, who took him with him to escort the pilgrims: in their march they were attacked by the Arabs; Ali fell upon them at the head of the mamalukes, repulsed the enemy, and killed a great number on the spot. On his return, several tribes being collected were determined to avenge their defeat: the young cachef gave them battle, and obtained a signal victory. Ibrahim did justice to the services of his lieutenant in full council, and proposed to create him a sangiak, which, after some opposition, was accomplished.

Become now one of the members of the republic, he never forgot his obligations to his patron. In 1758, the emir al hagi was murdered by the party of Ibrahim the | Circassian. From this moment, All meditated vengeance he concealed his resentment, and employed all the resources of his mind to arrive at the post of scheik elbalad, the first dignity of the repuhlic. In 1763 he attained that post; and soon after revenged the blood of his patron, by sacrificing Ibrahim the Circassian with his own hand. This action raised him up numerous enemies; the sangiaks, attached to the party of the Circassian, conspired against him; he was on the point of being murdered, but saved himself by flight, and repaired to Jerusalem. Having gained the esteem of the governor of that city, he thought himself in safety; but his enemies, fearing him even in exile, wrote to the Porte to demand his death, and orders were immediately sent to the governor to strike off his head. Fortunately, Rahiph, his old friend, was one of the divan, and gave him notice to fly from Jerusalem: Ali therefore anticipated the arrival of the capigi bachi, and took refuge with scheik Daker, prince of St. John of Acre. This old man received him with open arms, was not long in discovering the merit of his new guest, and from that moment loaded him with caresses; he exhorted him to bear adversity with courage, flattered his hopes, soothed his sorrows, and made him taste of pleasures even in his disgrace. Ali Bey might have passed his days happily with scheik Daker; but ambition would not permit him to remain inactive; he carried on a secret correspondence with some of the sangiaks attached to his interest. The prince of Acre, on his part, wrote to his friends at Grand Cairo, and urged them to hasten the recal of the schiek elbalad. While this was going on, Rahiph, now grand vizir, procured him to be invited to return to Grand Cairo, and resume his dignity: he set off immediately, and was received with the acclamations of the people. On all sides the storm was gathering around him: all those who were offended at the murder of Ibrahim the Circassian, were constantly laying snares for him; they only waited a favourable opportunity: the death of Rahiph, which happened in 1763, furnished them with it; they threw off the mask, and declared openly against him. He escaped into Arabia Felix, visited the coasts of the Red Sea, and once more took refuge with the scheik of Acre, who received him with the same tenderness. Whilst he was there, the sangiaks of the party of the Circassian persecuted those who were devoted to the interests of Ali. This imprudence | opened the eyes of the majority; they perceived that they were the dupes of a few ambitious men; and, to strengthen their party, recalled the scheik elbalad, and promised to support him with all their power: he set otf immediately. Ou his return to Grand Cairo, in 1766, All held a council: he represented to them that moderation had only excited the friends of Ibrahim to revenge, that nothing but flight would have saved him from their plots; and that to secure the common safety, these turbulent spirits must be sacrificed. The wholeassembly applauded this resolution, and the next day they took otf the heads of fottr of them. This execution insured the tranquillity of Ali: he saw himself at the head of the government, and, in the space of six years, raised sixteen of his mamalukes to the dignity of beys, and one of them to that of aga of the janisaries.

Supreme chief of the republic, he adopted every measure to render his power durable: not content with increasing his mamalukes to 6000, he took into pay 10,000 mograbi: he also caused his troops to observe the most rigid discipline, and, by continual exercise, made them good soldiers. He attached the young men of his household to him, by the paternal attention he paid to their education; and above all by bestowing favours and rewards on those who were the most worthy. His party became so powerful, that such of his colleagues as were not his friends dreaded his power, nor dared to thwart his projects. Believing his authority established on a solid basis, he turned his attention to the welfare of his people: the Arabs, dispersed over the deserts, and on the frontiers of Egypt, committed ravages not to be suppressed by a fluctuating government: he declared war, and sent against them bodies of cavalry, which beat them everywhere, and drove them back into the depth of their solitudes. Egypt began to respire, and agriculture, encouraged, flourished once more in that rich country. Having rendered the chief of each village responsible for the crimes of the inhabitants, he punished them until the authors of the offence were delivered into the hands of justice. In this manner, the principal citizens looked after the public safety; and, for the first time since the commencement of the Turkish empire, the traveller and merchant could pass through the whole extent of the kingdom without the apprehension of art insult.

The scheik elbalad unfortunately accumulated favours oit | Mohammed Abou Dahab, a traitor, who secretly aspired to the sovereign power. The sangiaks bribed him to put the scheik out of the way; but fearing for his own Jife, he deferred it, and kept the gold, and to increase the confidence of his friend, he discovered the conspiracy.

In 1768 the Russians declared war against the Porte: the scheik sent 12,000 men to serve in the Turkish army. Even this circumstance of duty was made use of to his disadvantage; and it was represented at Constantinople, that these troops were designed to serve in the Russian army: the calumny was credited, and a capigi, with four attendants, sent to take off his head. All had intelligence by his friends, and dispatched a confident, with 12 mamalukes, who seized the capigi and his attendants, took from them their order, and put them to death. The whole will shew us by how precarious a tenure life is held in the Ottoman empire. The scheik, possessed of this order, assembled the chiefs, and laid before them the despotism of the Ottoman court. This had the desired effect; sixteen of the beys exclaimed that war ought to be declared against the grand signior. The Turkish pasha was ordered to quit fcgypt, and the scheik secured the assistance of the prince of Acre.

Ali levied two armies; of one he gave the command to his brother Abou Dahab, to attack Arabia Felix, and the interior provinces; the other, to Ismae’I, to attack the maritime towns: he also equipped a good fleet for the Red Sea. Mean time, he remained at home, attentive to th internal police of the kingdom. He reformed the customhouse, granted immunities to the European merchants, encouraged commerce, protected the caravans, and the inland merchants; nor was he long before he reaped the fruits of his wise administration; Egypt was relieved, the public safety established, and agriculture encouraged.

Mean time, Abou Dahab conquered Yemen, deposed the scheriff of Mecca, and substituted in his place emir Abdalla; who, to pay his court to Ali, gratified him with the title of sultan of Egypt. Ismae’I made himself master of all the towns on the eastern shore of the Arabian gulf.

In 1771, Ali sent Abou Dahab with 40,000 men to attempt the conquest of Syria, and wrote to count Orloff, the Russian admiral, then at Leghorn, making him large offers to form an alliance with him. The count in return thanked him, wished him success, and made him great | promises, which were never realised. He also negotiated with Venice, promising to assist her to retake her possessions from the Turks; but the republic declined this bold enterprise. In the mean time Abou Dahab took some towns of Syria, and drove the Ottomans before him; but he had long meditated the ruin of Ali, his patron and his friend, and had accepted the command of the army, in order to gain it to his interest. Having secured them, he erected the standard of rebellion, withdrew the garrisons from the conquered places, and re-entered Egypt. Not daring to attack the capital, he kept along the Red Sea, crossed the deserts, and entered Upper Egypt. His revolt was now manifest; he gained the beys who commanded there, and marched towards Cairo. Ali repented his placing the command in the hands of a traitor. He collected an army, which he entrusted to Ismatjl bey, who likewise betrayed him and joined Abou Dahab. Upon this, Ali, by the advice of his friends, determined to retire to St. John of Acre. He wrote to count Orloff for assistance; and in the middle of the night, accompanied by the beys his friends, and 7,000 troops, he left Cairo, and tied across the deserts. He reached Gaza, but from agitation of mind was taken very ill: in this situation the venerable scheik Daker came to visit him, consoled him that his condition was not desperate, and that the Russian squadron was at hand. With this consolation, and the assistance of a Russian physician, in a few weeks he recovered.

A Russian squadron appearing before Acre, he wrote again to count Orloff for assistance, and sent also an ambassador to the empress. In August 1772, Ali took Yaffa and Rama. These successes inspired him with the hope of returning to Cairo. The chiefs of the janisaries in that capital also invited him to do so; and therefore collecting the garrisons of the conquered towns, he began his march with 52,250 mamalukes, 3,400 mograbi, and 650 horse. Abou Dahab met him with 12,000 men, and was defeated. Abou, by instilling into the minds of the Mahomruedans, that Ali designed to abolish their religion, and introduce Christianity, procured an army of 20,000 men. The janisaries, however, refused to join him. Ali was unprepared for this event; he abandoned himself to despair, and fell dangerously ill. His friends advised him to retire to St. John of Acre, but he declared he would sooner perish than retreat aw inch. On the 13th of April, 1773, the armies met. | Both parties charged with fury, and notwithstanding the inferiority of Ali’s troops, they had at first the advantage; but the mograbi, corrupted hy the promises of Abou Dahab, deserted, and the fortune of the day was changed. Most of Ali’s friends fell round him; the survivors pressed him to retire, but he replied, that his hour was come. The mamalnkes bravely perished with their arms in their hands. Ali slew two soldiers who attempted to sieze him; and the lieutenant of Abou Dahab advancing, Ali, though wounded with two balls, shot him with a pistol. He fought with the utmost bravery, but, being beat down by the stroke of a sabre, was seized and carried to the tent of the conqueror, where he died of his wounds eight days after.

Ali was of the middle size, his carriage noble, and his character open and generous: he possessed an insurmountable courage, and a lofty genius. He died the victim of an ill-placed friendship. Had Russia availed herself of his offers, she might have secured to herself the commerce of Arabia. He was only 45 years of age when he died. The Egyptians long mourned his loss; and saw themselves again plunged into all the miseries from which he had delivered them. 1

1 Volney’s Travels in Syria and Egypt. Seward’s Anecdotes, vol. II. p. 450. History of the Revolt of Ali Bey, 1783, 8vo.