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Sam Pepys – His Diary: Tales Of Algiers

Diarist Samuel Pepys meets with sea captains and they tell tales of Algiers and the manner of the life of slaves there!

Friday 8 February 1661

At the office all the morning. At noon to the Exchange to meet Mr. Warren the timber merchant, but could not meet with him. Here I met with many sea commanders, and among others Captain Cuttle, and Curtis, and Mootham, and I, went to the Fleece Tavern to drink; and there we spent till four o’clock, telling stories of Algiers, and the manner of the life of slaves there! And truly Captn. Mootham and Mr. Dawes (who have been both slaves there) did make me fully acquainted with their condition there: as, how they eat nothing but bread and water. At their redemption they pay so much for the water they drink at the public fountaynes, during their being slaves. How they are beat upon the soles of their feet and bellies at the liberty of their padron. How they are all, at night, called into their master’s Bagnard; and there they lie. How the poorest men do use their slaves best. How some rogues do live well, if they do invent to bring their masters in so much a week by their industry or theft; and then they are put to no other work at all. And theft there is counted no great crime at all. Thence to Mr. Rawlinson’s, having met my old friend Dick Scobell, and there I drank a great deal with him, and so home and to bed betimes, my head aching.

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