The lustful turk
Emily Barlow to Sylvia Carey
Portsmouth, Crown Hotel 18 June 1814
Dearest Sylvia We arrived here early this morning after a most melancholy journey.
Time alone can remove the painful impressions which the appearance of poor Henry created as we parted. Never shall I forget the picture of despair he exhibited. Do all you can to comfort him, tell him although I obey my mother's and my uncle's wishes, still my heart in every clime will be true to him. Poor Eliza did everything in her power on the road to this place to amuse my wounded feelings, but it was beyond the extent of her artless sophistry to remove the weight that pressed upon my heart. Oh, Sylvia! how cruel is the sacrifice exacted in our obedience to our parents; how happy had I been if this uncle of mine had never existed! My mother, my friend, my lover-all, all I hold dearsacrificed to the prospect of possessing this uncle's wealth. Heaven knows how fondly I dwelt upon the hopes of shortly becoming the happy wife of your brother, you may guess (but I pray that you may never feel) the anguish caused by such a separation. But it is decided. I can now only supplicate heaven for a speedy return.
On our arrival we found the captain of the Indiaman anxiously expecting us. The wind having been fair for some hours, if we had not appeared as we did, he would have sailed without us; truly happy should I have been if he had; and if I had known that a trifling delay on the road would have prevented our departure, I most certainly would have created it.
Adieu, my dear Sylvia, a long adieu. The boat waits to convey us on board at the Momerbank, as the captain calls it Farewell, Sylvia, comfort poor Henry, when I think of him I feel what it is impossible to describe.
Your unhappy friend,
Ali, Dey of Algiers, to Muzra, Bey of Tunis 20 September 1814.
Muzra, thy friend greets thee, with thanks for thy late present I allude to the Grecian maid (for so she was) you sent me with the treasure. The bearer of this dispatch has (be care of a pair of beautiful stallions which I lately captured from a tribe of Askulites; they made an inroad into a part of my territories from the desert, but I came upon them by surprise, and properly chastised their presumption: not more than a hundred escaped out of two thousand; indeed I was in no humour to spare them, they having disturbed me in a scene of pleasure, for which mere could be no pardon, but more of this hereafter. The Grecian slave, I rejoice to say again, I found a pure maid; her virginity I sacrificed on the Beiram feast of our Holy Prophet To cull her sweet flower, I was obliged to infuse an opiate in her coffee. Again, and again, I thank you for the present-her beauties are indeed luxurious; in her soft embraces I find a sure solace from my anxieties of state, but how strange it is, Muzra, that these slaves, whose destinies depend on our will, rarely give that fervent return to our pleasure so absolutely necessary to the full voluptuous energy of enjoyment It is true nature will always exert its power over the softer sex, and they frequently give way to its excitement, but the pleasure they experience is merely animal. Thus it is with Zena (so I have named your present): even in the height of our ecstasies, a cloud seems to hang on her beauteous countenance, clearly indicating that it is nature, not love, that creates her transport. This knowledge considerably diminishes the enjoyment her beauties afford me, yet still she has become extremely necessary to my pleasures.
Although the novelty of her charms has gone by, the certainty of having cropped her virgin rose has created a lasting interest in my bosom, which the dissolving lustre and modest, bashful expression of her eyes daily increases-indeed her charms frequently entice me from the arms of another beauty, whom I may say for these last two months I have continually enjoyed without me least abatement of my ardouron the contrary, my appetite seems to increase by what I feed on. It is true when I think of the pensive charms of Zena I devote a few hours to her arms, but she only acts like the whetstone to the knife, and sends me back to the embraces of my English slave with redoubled vigour and zest. In my next dispatch I will give you an account of my becoming possessed of this girl, who has so enchanted thy friend's desires. May our Prophet have thee in his holy keeping.
Sylvia Carey to Emily Barlow
London, 19 June
Fare thee well, dear Emily, and a safe voyage is the nightly prayer of your now lonely friend. I received your letter of yesterday, and hope you will receive this before you sail. Poor Henry has only been once out of his room since your departure. I will not shock you with an account of his wretchedness, but be assured nothing will be left undone to relieve his sufferings, though I tremble for the result; your mother saw him today, she was much shocked at his dejection; but I trust time will do much, and that you may yet be happy in the possession of each other. The providence that separates may again join.
It is useless to despond. Take every opportunity of writing to us, by every ship you meet on your passage! God bless you.
(This letter Emily never received, the ship having sailed before it arrived at Portsmouth.)
Emily Barlow to Sylvia Carey
Algiers, 24 July 1814
Dearest Sylvia-I think I see the expression of surprise you experience on perceiving my letter dated from this place. Oh, God, Sylvia, to what a wretched fate has the intended kindness of my uncle devoted your miserable unfortunate friend. Pity me, Sylvia; pity my wretchedness.
You have no doubt heard of the cruel treatment experienced by females who are unfortunate enough to fall into the power of these barbarous Turks, particularly those who have any pretensions to beauty; but it is utterly impossible for you, Sylvia, to conjecture anything like my sufferings since we parted. I shudder with agony when I look back to what I have been forced to undergo. Pity me, my dear friend. My tears blot out the words nearly as quick as I write them.