Prior to the Wahaby invasion, the Sherif of Mekka kept an officer here of inferior rank, to receive some trifling duties upon vegetables, flesh, and other provisions brought to market; the only tax of the kind paid by the Medinans, and the last remnant of the jurisdiction once enjoyed by the Sherif of Mekka over Medina, and which, in later times, has been entirely lost.
The latter now complained greatly of the heavy taxation imposed by the Wahabys, and said that, besides the money they were obliged to pay into Saoud's treasury, the chief of all the Wahaby Sheikhs of the Hedjaz, Othman el Medheyfe, had extorted from them many additional sums.
The fields were assessed, not by their produce in corn, but in dates, the number of date-trees in every field being usually proportionate to the fertility of the soil, and also to its crop of grain. From every erdeb of dates the Wahaby tax-gatherers took their quota either in kind or in money, according to the market-price they then bore.
This country, in fact, is not only the seat of the Wahaby government, but seems the most important of the interior districts of Arabia, from its fertility and population, its central position, and facility of intercourse with other provinces.
In this country there is also a most excellent breed of horses, so remarkable that the finest blood Arabs are properly denominated Kheyl Nedjade, or Nedjed horses. But the Wahaby power has caused a diminution of this breed; for many Arabs have sold their best horses in foreign parts, lest they should be forced to attend the Wahaby chief, who, in his wars, frequently required cavalry.
These considerations retarded the departure of caravans for Medina. Towards the end of December, the inhabitants were alarmed by a false report of the arrival of a Wahaby force, by the way of the seacoast, from the south: soon after, in the first days of January, 1815, Mohammed Aly set out from Mekka. He met the Wahaby army, four days after, at Byssel, in the neighbourhood of Tayf, where he gained
The miserable state of this cemetery must have existed prior to the Wahaby conquest, and is to be ascribed to the niggardly minds of the towns-people, who are little disposed to The whole place is a confused accumulation of heaps of earth, wide pits, rubbish, without a single regular tomb-stone.
Saoud showed much less respect for Medina than he had done for Mekka: the income of the latter town was left, as it was, in the hands of the Sherif, and the inhabitants were exempted from the zekat, or tribute, which the other Wahaby subjects paid to the chief, who here abandoned his right in favour of Ghaleb.
The people of Nedjed pass continually through this district in search of coffee-beans, and during the Wahaby dominion there was no other intercourse between Yemen and the northern provinces of Arabia. This country seldom enjoys peace, the mountaineers being hostile to the pastoral inhabitants of the low districts, and often at variance among themselves.
At present the spirit of the Medinans is more pacific; and the few horses yet kept when the Wahabys captured the town, were immediately sold by their owners, to escape the military conscription to which principally the horsemen in the Wahaby dominions were subjected. Some of the richer families kept mules, and also dromedaries.