The great traveller and explorer of the Nile at the very beginning of his career abroad. In 1763 Bruce was appointed the British Consul at Algiers, charged with studying the antiquities and ruins of the country as well as maintaining diplomatic relations. In fact, Bruce’s consular duties left almost no time for exploration, which he took up in earnest after he was relieved of his consular position in 1765.
The present letter is likely one of the first reports that Bruce sent back to Great Britain. It explains his preparations for resisting the assaults of Barbary Pirates on British property.
“There has been for these several days reports here that the Emperor of Morocco was putting out some Chebeques [war ships, usually mounted with 24 guns] to cruze upon the English And from Gibraltar it has been wrote that orders are come to bring all British subjects from the Moorish dominions & that a frigate has been stationed of Sallé Bar. I thought it my Duty in Case this should be true to speak to the Dey for leave to Export provisions to Mahon and Gibraltar should the Communications of those places with Theran be cut off. The King & principal Officers of the Government have assurd me that in the most Chearful manner that they will now & Every time Use supply & Assist these Garrisons as their own. … This Assurance the Dey Accompanied with Every Expression of Affection & Respect both for the King & For the Nation.”
Bruce makes a request for some assistance to be sent to him, claiming that such an attention would not only ease his burden but also flatter the Dey. “If there should be a War with Morocco & after it as it Can be but very short his Majesty should have occasion to send any person thither, I shall be much obliged to you.” Bruce also hopes that consular help would allow him to begin his travel and exploration: “It would give me an Opportunity of passing through a great part of the inland Country barely known at all. … A journey into the Inland parts of the Country … I am Every day more & more convinced would bring to light a Number of very Valuable Antiquities. Every Camp or Courier that is despatched from the Beys or Government near the borders of the desert Give accounts of Large Cities that still have Immense remains nearly Entire but Every day suffering from the Barbarity of the Moors or by the need the Turks have of the Stones for Forts. A renegade formerly a Spanish priest Assures me that two days from Constantine There is a City much Larger than Madrid. …”
2 pages (30.6 x 21.5 cm) on a bifolium, Algiers, 1 June 1763, to an unknown recipient, docketed on verso of integral blank “Algiers 1 June 1763 Consul Bruce”; a bit faded, some short fold separations.
Stock ID: 90627