Meet us on:
Entire Site
    Try our fun game

    Dueling book covers…may the best design win!

    Random Quote
    "I loathe people who keep dogs. They are cowards who haven't got the guts to bite people themselves."

    Subscribe to Our Newsletter

    Follow us on Twitter

    Never miss a good book again! Follow Read Print on Twitter

    Chapter 6

    • Rate it:
    Launch Reading Mode Next Chapter
    Chapter 7
    Previous Chapter


    It is not too much to say that General Lyautey has twice saved Morocco
    from destruction: once in 1912, when the inertia and double-dealing of
    Abd-el-Hafid abandoned the country to the rebellious tribes who had
    attacked him in Fez, and the second time in August, 1914, when Germany
    declared war on France.

    In 1912, in consequence of the threatening attitude of the dissident
    tribes and the generally disturbed condition of the country, the Sultan
    Abd-el-Hafid had asked France to establish a protectorate in Morocco.
    The agreement entered into, called the "Convention of Fez," stipulated
    that a French Resident-General should be sent to Morocco with authority
    to act as the Sultan's sole representative in treating with the other
    powers. The convention was signed in March, 1912, and a few days
    afterward an uprising more serious than any that had gone before took
    place in Fez. This sudden outbreak was due in part to purely local and
    native difficulties, in part to the intrinsic weakness of the French
    situation. The French government had imagined that a native army
    commanded by French officers could be counted on to support the Makhzen
    and maintain order, but Abd-el-Hafid's growing unpopularity had
    estranged his own people from him, and the army turned on the government
    and on the French. On the 17th of April, 1912, the Moroccan soldiers
    massacred their French officers after inflicting horrible tortures on
    them, the population of Fez rose against the European civilians, and for
    a fortnight the Oued Fez ran red with the blood of harmless French
    colonists. It was then that France appointed General Lyautey
    Resident-General in Morocco.

    When he reached Fez it was besieged by twenty thousand Berbers. Rebel
    tribes were flocking in to their support, to the cry of the Holy War,
    and the terrified Sultan, who had already announced his intention of
    resigning, warned the French troops who were trying to protect him that
    unless they guaranteed to get him safely to Rabat he would turn his
    influence against them. Two days afterward the Berbers attacked Fez and
    broke in at two gates. The French drove them out and forced them back
    twenty miles. The outskirts of the city were rapidly fortified, and a
    few weeks later General Gouraud, attacking the rebels in the valley of
    the Sebou, completely disengaged Fez.

    The military danger overcome. General Lyautey began his great task of
    civilian administration. His aim was to support and strengthen the
    existing government, to reassure and pacify the distrustful and
    antagonistic elements, and to assert French authority without irritating
    or discouraging native ambitions.

    Meanwhile a new Mahdi (Ahmed-el-Hiba) had risen in the south.
    Treacherously supported by Abd-el-Hafid, he was proclaimed Sultan at
    Tiznit, and acknowledged by the whole of the Souss. In Marrakech, native
    unrest had caused the Europeans to fly to the coast, and in the north a
    new group of rebellious tribes menaced Fez.

    El-Hiba entered Marrakech in August, 1912, and the French consul and
    several other French residents were taken prisoner. El-Hiba's forces
    then advanced to a point half way between Marrakech and Mazagan, where
    General Mangin, at that time a colonial colonel, met and utterly routed
    them. The disorder in the south, and the appeals of the native
    population for protection against the savage depredations of the new
    Mahdist rebels, made it necessary for the French troops to follow up
    their success, and in September Marrakech was taken.

    Such were the swift and brilliant results of General Lyautey's
    intervention. The first difficulties had been quickly overcome; others,
    far more complicated, remained. The military occupation of Morocco had
    to be followed up by its civil reorganization. By the Franco-German
    treaty of 1911 Germany had finally agreed to recognize the French
    protectorate in Morocco; but in spite of an apparently explicit
    acknowledgment of this right, Germany, as usual, managed to slip into
    the contract certain ambiguities of form that were likely to lead to
    future trouble.

    To obtain even this incomplete treaty France had had to sacrifice part
    of her colonies in equatorial Africa; and in addition to the uncertain
    relation with Germany there remained the dead weight of the Spanish
    zone and the confused international administration of Tangier. The
    disastrously misgoverned Spanish zone has always been a centre for
    German intrigue and native conspiracies, as well as a permanent obstacle
    to the economic development of Morocco.

    Such were the problems that General Lyautey found awaiting him. A long
    colonial experience, and an unusual combination of military and
    administrative talents, prepared him for the almost impossible task of
    dealing with them. Swift and decisive when military action is required,
    he has above all the long views and endless patience necessary to the
    successful colonial governor. The policy of France in Morocco had been
    weak and spasmodic; in his hands it became firm and consecutive. A
    sympathetic understanding of the native prejudices, and a real affection
    for the native character, made him try to build up an administration
    which should be, not an application of French ideas to African
    conditions, but a development of the best native aspirations. The
    difficulties were immense. The attempt to govern as far as possible
    through the Great Chiefs was a wise one, but it was hampered by the
    fact that these powerful leaders, however loyal to the Protectorate,
    knew no methods of administration but those based on extortion. It was
    necessary at once to use them and to educate them; and one of General
    Lyautey's greatest achievements has been the successful employment of
    native ability in the government of the country.


    The first thing to do was to create a strong frontier against the
    dissident tribes of the Blad-es-Siba. To do this it was necessary that
    the French should hold the natural defenses of the country, the
    foothills of the Little and of the Great Atlas, and the valley of the
    Moulouya, which forms the corridor between western Algeria and Morocco.
    This was nearly accomplished in 1914 when war broke out.

    At that moment the home government cabled the Resident-General to send
    all his available troops to France, abandoning the whole of conquered
    territory except the coast towns. To do so would have been to give
    France's richest colonies[A] outright to Germany at a moment when what
    they could supply--meat and wheat--was exactly what the enemy most

    [Footnote A: The loss of Morocco would inevitably have been followed by
    that of the whole of French North Africa.]

    General Lyautey took forty-eight hours to consider. He then decided to
    "empty the egg without breaking the shell", and the reply he sent was
    that of a great patriot and a great general. In effect he said: "I will
    give you all the troops you ask, but instead of abandoning the interior
    of the country I will hold what we have already taken, and fortify and
    enlarge our boundaries." No other military document has so nearly that
    ring as Marshal Foch's immortal Marne despatch (written only a few weeks
    later): "My centre is broken, my right wing is wavering, the situation
    is favorable and I am about to attack."

    General Lyautey had framed his answer in a moment of patriotic
    exaltation, when the soul of every Frenchman was strung up to a
    superhuman pitch. But the pledge once made, it had to be carried out,
    and even those who most applauded his decision wondered how he would
    meet the almost insuperable difficulties it involved. Morocco, when he
    was called there, was already honeycombed by German trading interests
    and secret political intrigue, and the fruit seemed ready to fall when
    the declaration of war shook the bough. The only way to save the colony
    for France was to keep its industrial and agricultural life going, and
    give to the famous "business as usual" a really justifiable application.

    General Lyautey completely succeeded, and the first impression of all
    travellers arriving in Morocco two years later was that of suddenly
    returning to a world in normal conditions. There was even, so complete
    was the illusion, a first moment of almost painful surprise on entering
    an active prosperous community, seemingly absorbed in immediate material
    interests to the exclusion of all thought of the awful drama that was
    being played out in the mother country, and it was only on reflection
    that this absorption in the day's task, and this air of smiling faith in
    the future, were seen to be Morocco's truest way of serving France.

    For not only was France to be supplied with provisions, but the
    confidence in her ultimate triumph was at all costs to be kept up in the
    native mind. German influence was as deep-seated as a cancer: to cut it
    out required the most drastic of operations. And that operation
    consisted precisely in letting it be seen that France was strong and
    prosperous enough for her colonies to thrive and expand without fear
    while she held at bay on her own frontier the most formidable foe the
    world has ever seen. Such was the "policy of the smile," consistently
    advocated by General Lyautey from the beginning of the war, and of which
    he and his household were the first to set the example.


    The General had said that he would not "break the egg-shell"; but he
    knew that this was not enough, and that he must make it appear
    unbreakable if he were to retain the confidence of the natives.

    How this was achieved, with the aid of the few covering troops left him,
    is still almost incomprehensible. To hold the line was virtually
    impossible: therefore he pushed it forward. An anonymous writer in
    _L'Afrique Française_ (January, 1917) has thus described the manoeuvre:
    "General Henrys was instructed to watch for storm-signals on the front,
    to stop up the cracks, to strengthen weak points and to rectify doubtful
    lines. Thanks to these operations, which kept the rebels perpetually
    harassed by always forestalling their own plans, the occupied territory
    was enlarged by a succession of strongly fortified positions." While
    this was going on in the north, General Lamothe was extending and
    strengthening, by means of pacific negotiations, the influence of the
    Great Chiefs in the south, and other agents of the Residency were
    engaged in watching and thwarting the incessant German intrigues in the
    Spanish zone.

    General Lyautey is quoted as having said that "a work-shop is worth a
    battalion." This precept he managed to put into action even during the
    first dark days of 1914, and the interior development of Morocco
    proceeded side by side with the strengthening of its defenses. Germany
    had long foreseen what an asset northwest Africa would be during the
    war; and General Lyautey was determined to prove how right Germany had
    been. He did so by getting the government, to whom he had given nearly
    all his troops, to give him in exchange an agricultural and industrial
    army, or at least enough specialists to form such an army out of the
    available material in the country. For every battle fought a road was
    made;[A] for every rebel fortress shelled a factory was built, a harbor
    developed, or more miles of fallow land ploughed and sown.

    [Footnote A: During the first year of the war roads were built in
    Morocco by German prisoners, and it was because Germany was so
    thoroughly aware of the economic value of the country, and so anxious
    not to have her prestige diminished, that she immediately protested, on
    the absurd plea of the unwholesomeness of the climate, and threatened
    reprisals unless the prisoners were withdrawn.]

    But this economic development did not satisfy the Resident. He wished
    Morocco to enlarge her commercial relations with France and the other
    allied countries, and with this object in view he organized and carried
    out with brilliant success a series of exhibitions at Casablanca, Fez
    and Rabat. The result of this bold policy surpassed even its creator's
    hopes. The Moroccans of the plain are an industrious and money-loving
    people, and the sight of these rapidly improvised exhibitions, where the
    industrial and artistic products of France and other European countries
    were shown in picturesque buildings grouped about flower-filled gardens,
    fascinated their imagination and strengthened their confidence in the
    country that could find time for such an effort in the midst of a great
    war. The Voice of the Bazaar carried the report to the farthest confines
    of Moghreb, and one by one the notabilities of the different tribes
    arrived, with delegations from Algeria and Tunisia. It was even said
    that several rebel chiefs had submitted to the Makhzen in order not to
    miss the Exhibition.

    At the same time as the "Miracle of the Marne" another, less famous but
    almost as vital to France, was being silently performed at the other end
    of her dominions. It will not seem an exaggeration to speak of General
    Lyautey's achievement during the first year of the war as the "Miracle
    of Morocco" if one considers the immense importance of doing what he did
    at the moment when he did it. And to understand this it is only needful
    to reckon what Germany could have drawn in supplies and men from a
    German North Africa, and what would have been the situation of France
    during the war with a powerful German colony in control of the western

    General Lyautey has always been one of the clear-sighted administrators
    who understand that the successful government of a foreign country
    depends on many little things, and not least on the administrator's
    genuine sympathy with the traditions, habits and tastes of the people. A
    keen feeling for beauty had prepared him to appreciate all that was most
    exquisite and venerable in the Arab art of Morocco, and even in the
    first struggle with political and military problems he found time to
    gather about him a group of archaeologists and artists who were charged
    with the inspection and preservation of the national monuments and the
    revival of the languishing native art-industries. The old pottery,
    jewelry, metal-work, rugs and embroideries of the different regions were
    carefully collected and classified, schools of decorative art were
    founded, skilled artisans sought out, and every effort was made to urge
    European residents to follow native models and use native artisans in
    building and furnishing.

    At the various Exhibitions much space was allotted to these revived
    industries, and the matting of Salé, the rugs of Rabat, the embroideries
    of Fez and Marrakech have already found a ready market in France,
    besides awakening in the educated class of colonists an appreciation of
    the old buildings and the old arts of the country that will be its
    surest safeguard against the destructive effects of colonial expansion.
    It is only necessary to see the havoc wrought in Tunisia and Algeria by
    the heavy hand of the colonial government to know what General Lyautey
    has achieved in saving Morocco from this form of destruction also.

    All this has been accomplished by the Resident-General during five years
    of unexampled and incessant difficulty; and probably the true
    explanation of the miracle is that which he himself gives when he says,
    with the quiet smile that typifies his Moroccan war-policy: "It was easy
    to do because I loved the people."



    Owing to the fact that the neglected and roadless Spanish zone
    intervened between the French possessions and Tangier, which is the
    natural port of Morocco, one of the first preoccupations of General
    Lyautey was to make ports along the inhospitable Atlantic coast, where
    there are no natural harbours.

    Since 1912, in spite of the immense cost and the difficulty of obtaining
    labour, the following has been done:

    _Casablanca._ A jetty 1900 metres long has been planned: 824 metres
    finished December, 1917.

    Small jetty begun 1916, finished 1917--length 330 metres. Small harbour
    thus created shelters small boats (150 tons) in all weathers.

    Quays 747 metres long already finished.

    16 steam-cranes working.

    Warehouses and depots covering 41,985 square metres completed.

    _Rabat._ Work completed December, 1917.

    A quay 200 metres long, to which boats with a draught of three metres
    can tie up.

    Two groups of warehouses, steam-cranes, etc., covering 22,600 square

    A quay 100 metres long on the Salé side of the river.

    _Kenitra._ The port of Kenitra is at the mouth of the Sebou River, and
    is capable of becoming a good river port.

    The work up to December, 1917, comprises:

    A channel 100 metres long and three metres deep, cut through the bar of
    the Sebou.

    Jetties built on each side of the channel.

    Quay 100 metres long.

    Building of sheds, depots, warehouses, steam-cranes, etc.

    At the ports of Fedalah, Mazagan, Safi, Mogador and Agadir similar plans
    are in course of execution.



    1912 1918
    Total Commerce Total Commerce
    Fcs 177,737,723 Fcs 386,238,618

    Exports Exports
    Fcs 67,080,383 Fcs 116,148,081


    National roads 2,074 kilometres
    Secondary roads 569 "


    622 kilometres


    1915 1918

    Approximate area Approximate area
    21,165 17 hectares 1,681,308 03 hectares


    1. Creation of French courts for French nationals and those under French
    protection. These take cognizance of civil cases where both parties, or
    even one, are amenable to French jurisdiction.

    2. Moroccan law is Moslem, and administered by Moslem magistrates.
    Private law, including that of inheritance, is based on the Koran. The
    Sultan has maintained the principle whereby real property and
    administrative cases fall under native law. These courts are as far as
    possible supervised and controlled by the establishment of a Cherifian
    Ministry of Justice to which the native Judges are responsible. Special
    care is taken to prevent the alienation of property held collectively,
    or any similar transactions likely to produce political and economic

    3. Criminal jurisdiction is delegated to Pashas and Cadis by the Sultan,
    except of offenses committed against, or in conjunction with, French
    nationals and those under French protection. Such cases come before the
    tribunals of the French Protectorate.


    The object of the Protectorate has been, on the one hand, to give to the
    children of French colonists in Morocco the same education as they would
    have received at elementary and secondary schools in France; on the
    other, to provide the indigenous population with a system of education
    that shall give to the young Moroccans an adequate commercial or manual
    training, or prepare them for administrative posts, but without
    interfering with their native customs or beliefs.

    Before 1912 there existed in Morocco only a few small schools supported
    by the French Legation at Tangier and by the Alliance Française, and a
    group of Hebrew schools in the Mellahs, maintained by the Universal
    Israelite Alliance.

    1912. Total number of schools 37
    1918. " " " " 191

    1912. Total number of pupils 3006
    1918. " " " " 21,520

    1912. Total number of teachers 61
    1918. " " " " 668

    In addition to the French and indigenous schools, sewing-schools have
    been formed for the native girls and have been exceptionally successful.

    Moslem colleges have been founded at Rabat and Fez in order to
    supplement the native education of young Mahometans of the upper
    classes, who intend to take up wholesale business or banking, or prepare
    for political, judicial or administrative posts under the Sultan's
    government. The course lasts four years and comprises: Arabic, French,
    mathematics, history, geography, religious (Mahometan) instruction, and
    the law of the Koran.

    The "Ecole Supérieure de la langue arabe et des dialectes berbères" at
    Rabat receives European and Moroccan students. The courses are Arabic,
    the Berber dialects, Arab literature, ethnography, administrative
    Moroccan law, Moslem law, Berber customary law.


    The Protectorate has established 113 medical centres for the native
    population, ranging from simple dispensaries and small native
    infirmaries to the important hospitals of Rabat, Fez, Meknez, Marrakech,
    and Casablanca.

    Mobile sanitary formations supplied with light motor ambulances travel
    about the country, vaccinating, making tours of sanitary inspection,
    investigating infected areas, and giving general hygienic education
    throughout the remoter regions.

    Native patients treated in 1916 over 900,000
    " " " " 1917 " 1,220,800

    Night-shelters in towns. Every town is provided with a shelter for the
    indigent wayfarers so numerous in Morocco. These shelters are used as
    disinfection centres, from which suspicious cases are sent to quarantine
    camp at the gates of the towns.

    _Central Laboratory at Rabat._ This is a kind of Pasteur Institute. In
    1917, 210,000 persons were vaccinated throughout the country and 356
    patients treated at the Laboratory for rabies.

    _Clinics for venereal diseases_ have been established at Casablanca,
    Fez, Rabat, and Marrakech.

    More than 15,000 cases were treated in 1917.

    _Ophthalmic clinics_ in the same cities gave in 1917, 44,600

    _Radiotherapy._ Clinics have been opened at Fez and Rabat for the
    treatment of skin diseases of the head, from which the native children
    habitually suffer.

    The French Department of Health distributes annually immense quantities
    of quinine in the malarial districts.

    Madame Lyautey's private charities comprise admirably administered
    child-welfare centres in the principal cities, with dispensaries for the
    native mothers and children.
    Next Chapter
    Chapter 7
    Previous Chapter
    If you're writing a Edith Wharton essay and need some advice, post your Edith Wharton essay question on our Facebook page where fellow bookworms are always glad to help!

    Top 5 Authors

    Top 5 Books

    Book Status
    Want to read

    Are you sure you want to leave this group?