Napoleon Series Archive 2015

Jaffa-"the industrious propagation of a story"

“We went to the house of the English Consul…in the midst of all his complaints against the French, not a single syllable ever escaped his lips respecting the enormities supposed to be committed, by means of Buonaparte’s orders or connivance, in the town and neighbourhood of Jaffa. As there are so many living witnesses to attest the truth of this representation, and the character of no ordinary individual is so much implicated in its result, the utmost attention will be paid here to every particular likely to illustrate the fact; and for this especial reason, because that individual is our enemy. At the time we were in Jaffa, so soon after the supposed transactions are said to have occurred, the indignation of our consul, and of the inhabitants in general, against the French, were of so deep a nature, that there is nothing they would not have said, to vilify Buonaparte, or his officers: but this accusation they never even hinted. Nor is that all. Upon the evening of our arrival at Jaffa, walking with Captain Culverhouse along the shore to the south of the town, in order to join some of our party who were gone in search of plants and shells, a powerful and most offensive smell, as from dead bodies, which we had before experience more than once, in approaching the town, caused us to hesitate whether we should proceed or return. At this moment the author observed the remains of bodies in the sand; and Captain Culverhouse, being in doubt whether they belonged to human bodies or to those of cattle, removed a part of the sand with his sword, and uncovered part of a hand and arm. Upon this, calling to our friends, we told them, what we had discovered; and returning to the consul’s house, asked him the cause of the revolting spectacle we had witnessed. He told us, that these were the remains of bodies carried thither during the late plague, for interment; but that the sea, frequently removing the sand which covered them, caused them to be thus exposed; and he cautioned us in future against walking that way, as the infection might possibly be retained not only by those bodies, but by the clothes and other things there deposited.”

Note, p. 391: “…Captain Culverhouse…came to London, and meeting the author in public company at table, asked him, with a smile, what he thought of the reports circulated concerning the massacre, &c. at Jaffa. The author answered by saying, that it had long been his intention to write to Captain Culverhouse upon the subject, and that it was very gratifying to him to find the purport of his letter so satisfactorily anticipated. Captain Culverhouse then, before the whole company present, expressed astonishment at the industrious propagation of a story, whereof the inhabitants of Jaffa were ignorant, and of which he had never heard a syllable until his arrival in England. The author knows not where this story originated; nor is it of any consequence to the testimony he thinks it now his duty to communicate.” –Clarke, Edward Daniel. Travels in various countries of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Part II, section II. Greece, Egypt, and the Holy Land. London: T. Cadell and W. Davies, 1810. p.391-2

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Jaffa-"the industrious propagation of a story"
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