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Preface

(_underscores_ denote italics)

I

Having begun my book with the statement that Morocco still lacks a
guide-book, I should have wished to take a first step toward remedying
that deficiency.

But the conditions in which I travelled, though full of unexpected and
picturesque opportunities, were not suited to leisurely study of the
places visited. The time was limited by the approach of the rainy
season, which puts an end to motoring over the treacherous trails of the
Spanish zone. In 1918, owing to the watchfulness of German submarines in
the Straits and along the northwest coast of Africa, the trip by sea
from Marseilles to Casablanca, ordinarily so easy, was not to be made
without much discomfort and loss of time. Once on board the steamer,
passengers were often kept in port (without leave to land) for six or
eight days; therefore for any one bound by a time-limit, as most
war-workers were, it was necessary to travel across country, and to be
back at Tangier before the November rains.

This left me only one month in which to visit Morocco from the
Mediterranean to the High Atlas, and from the Atlantic to Fez, and even
had there been a Djinn's carpet to carry me, the multiplicity of
impressions received would have made precise observation difficult.

The next best thing to a Djinn's carpet, a military motor, was at my
disposal every morning; but war conditions imposed restrictions, and the
wish to use the minimum of petrol often stood in the way of the second
visit which alone makes it possible to carry away a definite and
detailed impression.

These drawbacks were more than offset by the advantage of making my
quick trip at a moment unique in the history of the country; the brief
moment of transition between its virtually complete subjection to
European authority, and the fast approaching hour when it is thrown open
to all the banalities and promiscuities of modern travel.

Morocco is too curious, too beautiful, too rich in landscape and
architecture, and above all too much of a novelty, not to attract one of
the main streams of spring travel as soon as Mediterranean passenger
traffic is resumed. Now that the war is over, only a few months' work on
roads and railways divide it from the great torrent of "tourism"; and
once that deluge is let loose, no eye will ever again see Moulay Idriss
and Fez and Marrakech as I saw them.

In spite of the incessant efforts of the present French administration
to preserve the old monuments of Morocco from injury, and her native
arts and industries from the corruption of European bad taste, the
impression of mystery and remoteness which the country now produces must
inevitably vanish with the approach of the "Circular Ticket." Within a
few years far more will be known of the past of Morocco, but that past
will be far less visible to the traveller than it is to-day. Excavations
will reveal fresh traces of Roman and Phenician occupation; the remote
affinities between Copts and Berbers, between Bagdad and Fez, between
Byzantine art and the architecture of the Souss, will be explored and
elucidated, but, while these successive discoveries are being made, the
strange survival of mediaeval life, of a life contemporary with the
crusaders, with Saladin, even with the great days of the Caliphate of
Bagdad, which now greets the astonished traveller, will gradually
disappear, till at last even the mysterious autocthones of the Atlas
will have folded their tents and silently stolen away.


II

Authoritative utterances on Morocco are not wanting for those who can
read them in French, but they are to be found mainly in large and often
inaccessible books, like M. Doutté's "En Tribu," the Marquis de
Segonzac's remarkable explorations in the Atlas, or Foucauld's classic
(but unobtainable) "Reconnaissance au Maroc", and few, if any, have been
translated into English.

M. Louis Châtelain has dealt with the Roman ruins of Volubilis and M.
Tranchant de Lunel, M. Raymond Koechlin, M. Gaillard, M. Ricard, and
many other French scholars, have written of Moslem architecture and art
in articles published either in "France-Maroc," as introductions to
catalogues of exhibitions, or in the reviews and daily papers. Pierre
Loti and M. André Chevrillon have reflected, with the intensest visual
sensibility, the romantic and ruinous Morocco of yesterday, and in the
volumes of the "Conférences Marocaines," published by the French
government, the experts gathered about the Resident-General have
examined the industrial and agricultural Morocco of tomorrow. Lastly,
one striking book sums up, with the clearness and consecutiveness of
which French scholarship alone possesses the art, the chief things to be
said on all these subjects, save that of art and archaeology. This is M.
Augustin Bernard's volume, "Le Maroc," the one portable and compact yet
full and informing book since Leo Africanus described the bazaars of
Fez. But M. Augustin Bernard deals only with the ethnology, the social,
religious and political history, and the physical properties, of the
country; and this, though "a large order," leaves out the visual and
picturesque side, except in so far as the book touches on the always
picturesque life of the people.

For the use, therefore, of the happy wanderers who may be planning a
Moroccan journey, I have added to the record of my personal impressions
a slight sketch of the history and art of the country. In extenuation of
the attempt I must add that the chief merit of this sketch will be its
absence of originality. Its facts will be chiefly drawn from the pages
of M. Augustin Bernard, M. H. Saladin, and M. Gaston Migeon, and the
rich sources of the "Conférences Marocaines" and the articles of
"France-Maroc." It will also be deeply indebted to information given on
the spot by the brilliant specialists of the French administration, to
the Marquis de Segonzac, with whom I had the good luck to travel from
Rabat to Marrakech and back; to M. Alfred de Tarde, editor of
"France-Maroc"; to M. Tranchant de Lunel, director of the French School
of Fine Arts in Morocco; to M. Goulven, the historian of Portuguese
Mazagan, to M. Louis Châtelain, and to the many other cultivated and
cordial French officials, military and civilian, who, at each stage of
my journey, did their amiable best to answer my questions and open my
eyes.


NOTE


In the writing of proper names and of other Arab words the French
spelling has been followed.

In the case of proper names, and names of cities and districts, this
seems justified by the fact that they occur in a French colony, where
French usage naturally prevails, and to spell _Oudjda_ in the French
way, and _koubba_, for instance, in the English form of _kubba_, would
cause needless confusion as to their respective pronunciation. It seems
therefore simpler, in a book written for the ordinary traveller, to
conform altogether to French usage.


Edith Wharton

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