Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

A Visit to the Holy Land by Ida Pfeiffer

Part 5 out of 6

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.7 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

fortunately knew something of the latter language, and I begged him
to tell my guide to take me to the Austrian consulate. This was
done, and my troubles concluded.

A ride of three quarters of an hour in a very broad handsome street,
planted with a double row of a kind of acacia altogether strange to
me, among a crowd of men, camels, asses, etc., brought me to the
town, the streets of which are in general narrow. There is so much
noise and crowding every where, that one would suppose a tumult had
broken out. But as I approached, the immense mass always opened as
if by magic, and I pursued my way without hindrance to the
consulate, which lies hidden in a little narrow blind alley.

I went immediately to the office, and presented myself to the
consul, with the request that he would recommend me a respectable
inn of the second class. Herr Chamgion, the consul, interested
himself for me with heartfelt kindness; he immediately despatched a
kavasse to an innkeeper whom he knew, paid my guide, and recommended
the host strongly to take good care of me; in short, he behaved
towards me with true Christian kindliness. His house was ever open
to me, and I could go to him with any petition I wished to make. It
is a real pleasure to me to be able publicly once more to thank this
worthy man.

I had been furnished with a letter of recommendation to a certain
Herr Palm. The consul kindly sent at once for this gentleman, who
soon appeared, and accompanied me to the inn.

I requested Herr P. to recommend me a servant who could either speak
Italian or French, and afterwards to tell me the best method to set
about seeing the lions of the town. Herr P. very willingly
undertook to do so; and after the lapse of an hour, the dragoman had
already been found, and two asses stood before the door to carry me
and my servant through the whole town.

The animated bustle and hum of business in the streets of Cairo is
very great. I can even say that in the most populous cities of
Italy I never saw any thing I could compare to it; and certainly
this is a bold assertion.

Many of the streets are so narrow, that when loaded camels meet, one
party must always be led into a by-street until the other has
passed. In these narrow lanes I continually encountered crowds of
passengers, so that I really felt quite anxious, and wondered how I
should find my way through. People mounted on horses and donkeys
tower above the moving mass; but the asses themselves appear like
pigmies beside the high, lofty-looking camels, which do not lose
their proud demeanour even under their heavy burdens. Men often
slip by under the heads of the camels. The riders keep as close as
possible to the houses, and the mass of pedestrians winds
dexterously between. There are water-carriers, vendors of goods,
numerous blind men groping their way with sticks, and bearing
baskets with fruit, bread, and other provisions for sale; numerous
children, some of them running about the streets, and others playing
before the house-doors; and lastly, the Egyptian ladies, who ride on
asses to pay their visits, and come in long processions with their
children and negro servants. Let the reader further imagine the
cries of the vendors, the shouting of the drivers and passengers,
the terrified screams of flying women and children, the quarrels
which frequently arise, and the peculiar noisiness and talkativeness
of these people, and he can fancy what an effect this must have on
the nerves of a stranger. I was in mortal fear at every step, and
on reaching home in the evening felt quite unwell; but as I never
once saw an accident occur, I at length accustomed myself to the
hubbub, and could follow my guide where the crowd was thickest
without feeling uneasy.

The streets, or, as they may be more properly called, the lanes of
Cairo, are sprinkled with water several times in the day; fountains
and large vessels of water are also placed every where for the
convenience of the passers-by. In the broad streets straw-mats are
hung up to keep off the sun's rays.

The richer class of people wear the Oriental garb, with the
exception that the women merely have their heads and faces wrapped
in a light muslin veil; they wear also a kind of mantilla of black
silk, which gives them a peculiar appearance. When they came riding
along, and the wind caught this garment and spread it out, they
looked exactly like bats with outstretched wings.

Many of the Franks also dress in the Oriental style; the Fellahs go
almost naked, and their women only wear a single blue garment.

Here, as throughout all the East, the rich people are always seen on
horseback. I was not so much pleased with the Egyptian as with the
Syrian horses, for the former appeared to me less slim and
gracefully built.

The population of Cairo is estimated at 200,000, and is a mixed one,
consisting of Arabs, Mamelukes, Turks, Berbers, Negroes, Bedouins,
Christians, Greeks, Jews, etc. Thanks to the powerful arm of
Mehemet Ali, they all live peacefully together.

Cairo contains 25,000 houses, which are as unsightly and irregular
as the streets. They are built of clay, unburnt bricks, and stones,
and have little narrow entrances; the unsymmetrical windows are
furnished with wooden shutters impenetrable to the eye. The
interiors are decorated like the houses in Damascus, but in a less
costly style; neither is there such an abundance of fresh water at
Cairo.

The Jews' quarter is the most hideous of all; the houses are dirty,
and the streets so narrow that two persons can only just push by
each other. The entire town is surrounded by walls and towers,
guarded by a castle, and divided into several quarters, separated
from each other by gates, which are closed after sunset. On the
heights around Cairo are to be seen some castles from the time of
the Saracens.

As I rode to and fro in the town, my guide suddenly stopped, bought
a quantity of bread, and motioned me to follow him. I thought he
was going to take me to a menagerie, and that this bread was
intended for the wild animals. We entered a courtyard with windows
all round reaching to the ground, and strengthened with iron bars.
Stopping before the first window, my servant threw in a piece of
bread; what was my horror when I saw, instead of a lion or tiger, a
naked emaciated old man rush forth, seize the bread, and devour it
ravenously. I was in the mad-house. In the midst of each dark and
filthy dungeon is fixed a stone, with two iron chains, to which one
or two of these wretched creatures are attached by an iron ring
fastened round the neck. There they sit staring with fearfully
distorted faces, their hair and beard unkempt, their bodies
emaciated, and the marrow of life drying up within them. In these
foul and loathsome dens they must pine until the Almighty in his
mercy loosens the chains which bind them to their miserable
existence by a welcome death. There is not _one_ instance of a
cure, and truly the treatment to which they are subjected is
calculated to drive a half-witted person quite mad. And yet the
Europeans can praise Mehemet Ali! Ye wretched madmen, ye poor
fellahs, are ye too ready to join in this praise?

Quitting this abode of misery, my dragoman led me to "Joseph's
well," which is deeply hewn out of the rock. I descended more than
two hundred and seventy steps, and had got half-way to the bottom of
the gigantic structure. On looking downward into its depths a
feeling of giddiness came over me.

The new palace of Mehemet Ali is rather a handsome building,
arranged chiefly in the European style. The rooms, or rather the
halls, are very lofty, and are either tastefully painted or hung
with silk, tapestry, etc. Large pier-glasses multiply the objects
around, rich divans are attached to the walls, and costly tables,
some of marble, others of inlaid work, enriched with beautiful
paintings, stand in the rooms, in one of which I even noticed a
billiard-table. The dining-hall is quite European in its character.
In the centre stands a large table; two sideboards are placed
against one side of the wall, and handsome chairs stand opposite.
In one of the rooms hangs an oil-painting representing Ibrahim
Pasha, {236} Mehemet Ali's son.

This palace stands in the midst of a little garden, neither
remarkable for the rarity of the plants it contains, nor for the
beauty of their arrangement. The views from some of the apartments,
as well as that from the garden, are very lovely.

Opposite the palace a great mosque is being built as a mausoleum for
Mehemet Ali. The despot probably reckons on having some years yet
to live, for much remains to be done before the beautiful structure
is completed. The pillars and the walls of the mosque are covered
with the most splendid marble, of a yellowish-white colour.

The before-mentioned buildings, namely, Joseph's well, the palace
and gardens, and the mosque, are all situate on a high rock, to
which a single broad road leads from Cairo. Here we behold a
threefold sea, namely, of houses, of the Nile, and a sea of sand, on
which the lofty Pyramids rise in the distance like isolated rocks.
The mountains of Mokattam close the background, and a number of
lovely gardens and plantations of date-palms surround the town.
With one glance we can behold the most striking contrasts. A wreath
of the most luxurious vegetation runs round the town, and beyond
lies the dreary monotony of the desert. The colour of the Nile is
so exactly similar to that of the sand forming its shores, that at a
distance the line of demarcation cannot be traced.

On my way homewards I met several fellahs carrying large baskets
full of dates, and stopped one of them, in order to purchase some of
this celebrated fruit. Unfortunately for me, the dates were still
unripe, hard, of a brick-red colour, and so unpalatable that I could
not eat one of them. A week or ten days afterwards I was able to
procure some ripe ones; they were of a brown colour like the dried
fruit, the tender skin could easily be peeled off, and I liked them
better than dried dates, because they were more pulpy and not so
sweet. A much more precious fruit, the finest production of Egypt
and Syria, almost superior to the pine-apple in taste, is the
banana, which is so delicate that it almost melts in the mouth.
This fruit cannot be dried, and is therefore never exported. Sugar
melons and peaches are to be had in abundance, but their flavour is
not very good. I also preferred the Alexandrian grape to that of
Cairo.

The bazaars, through which we rode in all directions, displayed
nothing very remarkable in manufactures or in productions of nature
and art.

From first to last I spent a week at Cairo, and occupied the whole
of my time from morning till night in viewing the curiosities of the
town.

I only saw two mosques, that of Sultan Hassan and of Sultan Amru.
Before I was permitted to enter the first of these edifices, they
compelled me to take off my shoes, and walk in my stockings over a
courtyard paved with great stones. The stones had become so heated
by the solar rays, that I was obliged to run fast, to avoid
scorching the soles of my feet. I cannot give an opinion touching
the architectural beauty of this building, which is built in such a
simple style that none but a connoisseur would discover its merits.
I was better pleased with the mosque of Sultan Amru, which contains
several halls, and is supported on numerous columns. The mosques in
Cairo struck me as having a more ancient and venerable appearance
than those of Constantinople, while the latter, on the other hand,
were larger and more elegant.

I also visited the island of Rodda, which is worthy the name of a
beautiful garden. It lies opposite to old Cairo, on the Nile, and
is said to be a favourite walk of the townspeople, though I was
there twice without meeting any one. The garden is spacious, and
contains all kinds of tropical productions: here I saw the sugar-
cane, which greatly resembles the stem of the Indian maize; the
cotton-tree, growing to a height of five or six feet; the banana-
tree, the short-stemmed date-palm, the coffee-tree, and many others.
Flowers were also there in quantities which must be cultivated with
great care in the hot-houses of my native country. The whole of
this collection of plants is very tastefully arranged, and shines
forth in the height of luxuriant beauty. It is customary to lay the
entire island under water every evening by means of artificial
canals. This system is universally carried out throughout the
Egyptian plantations, and is, in fact, the only method by which
vegetation can be preserved in its freshest green in spite of the
burning heat. The care of this fairy grove is entrusted to a German
ornamental gardener; unfortunately I was informed of this fact too
late, otherwise I should have visited my countryman and requested an
explanation of many things which appeared strange to me.

In the midst of the garden is a beautiful grotto, ornamented within
and without by a great variety of shells from the Red Sea, which
give it a most striking appearance. At this spot, towards which
many paths lead, all strewed with minute shells instead of gravel,
Moses is said to have been found in his cradle of bulrushes(?).
Immediately adjoining the garden we find a summer residence
belonging to Mehemet Ali.

The well shewn as that into which Joseph was thrust by his brethren
lies about two miles distant from the town, in a village on the road
to Suez. Half a mile off a very large and venerable sycamore-tree
was pointed out to me as the one in the shade of which the holy
family rested on their way to Egypt; and a walk of another quarter
of a mile brings us to the garden of Boghos Bey, in the midst of
which stands one of the finest and largest obelisks of Upper Egypt:
it is still in good condition, and completely covered with
hieroglyphics. The garden, however, offers nothing remarkable. The
ancient city of Heliopolis is said to have been built not far off;
but at the present day not a vestige of it remains.

The road to this garden already lies partly in the desert. At first
the way winds through avenues of trees and past gardens; but soon
the vast desert extends to the right, while beautiful orange and
citron groves still skirt the left side of the path. Here we
continually meet herds of camels, but a dromedary is a rare sight.

EXCURSION TO THE PYRAMIDS OF GIZEH.

August 25th, 1842.

At four in the afternoon I quitted Cairo, crossed two arms of the
Nile, and a couple of hours afterwards arrived safely at Gizeh. As
the Nile had overflowed several parts of the country, we were
compelled frequently to turn out of our way, and sometimes to cross
canals and ride through water; now and then, where it was too deep
for our asses, we were obliged to be carried across. As there is no
inn at Gizeh I betook myself to Herr Klinger, to whom I brought a
letter of recommendation from Cairo. Herr K. is a Bohemian by
birth, and stands in the service of the viceroy of Egypt, as musical
instructor to the young military band. I was made very welcome
here, and Herr Klinger seemed quite rejoiced at seeing a visitor
with whom he could talk in German. Our conversation was of
Beethoven and Mozart, of Strauss and Lanne. The fame of the bravura
composers of the present day, Liszt and Thalberg, had not yet
penetrated to these regions. I requested my kind host to shew me
the establishment for hatching eggs that exists at Gizeh. He
immediately sent for the superintendent, who happened however to be
absent, and to have locked up the keys. In this place about 8000
eggs are hatched by artificial warmth during the months of March and
April. The eggs are laid on large flat plates, which are
continually kept at an equal temperature by heat applied below the
surface: they are turned several times during the day. As the
thousands of little chickens burst their shells, they are sold, not
by number or weight, but by the measure. This egg-hatching house
has the effect of rendering poultry plentiful and cheap.

After chatting away the evening very pleasantly I sought my couch,
tired with my ride and with the heat, and rejoicing at the sight of
the soft divan, which seemed to smile upon me, and promise rest and
strength for the following day. But as I was about to take
possession of my couch, I noticed on the wall a great number of
black spots. I took the candle to examine what it could be, and
nearly dropped the light with horror on discovering that the wall
was covered with bugs. I had never seen such a disgusting sight.
All hopes of rest on the divan were now effectually put to flight.
I sat down on a chair, and waited until every thing was perfectly
still; then I slipped into the entrance-hall, and lay down on the
stones, wrapped in my cloak.

Though I had escaped from one description of vermin, I became a prey
to innumerable gnats. I had passed many uncomfortable nights during
my journey, but this was worse than any thing I had yet endured.

However, this was only an additional inducement for rising early,
and long before sunrise I was ready to continue my journey. Before
daybreak I took leave of my kind host, and rode with my servant
towards the gigantic structures. To-day we were again obliged
frequently to go out of our route on account of the rising of the
Nile; owing to this delay, two hours elapsed before we reached the
broad arm of the Nile, dividing us from the Libyan desert, on which
the Pyramids stand, and over which two Arabs carried me. This was
one of the most disagreeable things that can be imagined. Two large
powerful men stood side by side; I mounted on their shoulders, and
held fast by their heads, while they supported my feet in a
horizontal position above the waters, which at some places reached
almost to their armpits, so that I feared every moment that I should
sit in the water. Besides this, my supporters continually swayed to
and fro, because they could only withstand the force of the current
by a great exertion of strength, and I was apprehensive of falling
off. This disagreeable passage lasted above a quarter of an hour.
After wading for another fifteen minutes through deep sand, we
arrived at the goal of our little journey.

The two colossal pyramids are of course visible directly we quit the
town, and we keep them almost continually in sight. But here the
expectations I had cherished were again disappointed, for the aspect
of these giant structures did not astonish me greatly. Their height
appears less remarkable than it otherwise would, from the
circumstance that their base is buried in sand, and thus hidden from
view. There is also neither a tree nor a hut, nor any other object
which could serve to display their huge proportions by the force of
contrast.

As it was still early in the day and not very hot, I preferred
ascending the pyramid before venturing into its interior. My
servant took off my rings and concealed them carefully, telling me
that this was a very necessary precaution, as the fellows who take
the travellers by the hands to assist them in mounting the pyramids
have such a dexterous knack of drawing the rings from their fingers,
that they seldom perceive their loss until too late.

I took two Arabs with me, who gave me their hands, and pulled me up
the very large stones. Any one who is at all subject to dizziness
would do very wrong in attempting this feat, for he might be lost
without remedy. Let the reader picture to himself a height of 500
feet, without a railing or a regular staircase by which to make the
ascent. At one angle only the immense blocks of stone have been
hewn in such a manner that they form a flight of steps, but a very
inconvenient one, as many of these stone blocks are above four feet
in height, and offer no projection on which you can place your foot
in mounting. The two Arabs ascended first, and then stretched out
their hands to pull me from one block to another. I preferred
climbing over the smaller blocks without assistance. In three
quarters of an hour's time I had gained the summit of the pyramid.

For a long time I stood lost in thought, and could hardly realise
the fact that I was really one of the favoured few who are happy
enough to be able to contemplate the most stupendous and
imperishable monument ever erected by human hands. At the first
moment I was scarcely able to gaze down from the dizzy height into
the deep distance; I could only examine the pyramid itself, and seek
to familiarise myself with the idea that I was not dreaming.
Gradually, however, I came to myself, and contemplated the landscape
which lay extended beneath me. From my elevated position I could
form a better estimate of the gigantic structure, for here the fact
that the base was buried in sand did not prejudice the general
effect. I saw the Nile flowing far beneath me, and a few Bedouins,
whom curiosity had attracted to the spot, looked like very pigmies.
In ascending I had seen the immense blocks of stone singly, and
ceased to marvel that these monuments are reckoned among the seven
wonders of the world.

On the castle the view had been fine, but here, where the prospect
was bounded only by the horizon and by the Mokattam mountains, it is
grander by far. I could follow the windings of the river, with its
innumerable arms and canals, until it melted into the far horizon,
which closed the picture on this side. Many blooming gardens, and
the large extensive town with its environs; the immense desert, with
its plains and hills of sand, and the lengthened mountain-range of
Mokattam,--all lay spread before me; and for a long time I sat
gazing around me, and wishing that the dear ones at home had been
with me, to share in my wonder and delight.

But now the time came not only to look down, but to descend. Most
people find this even more difficult than the ascent; but with me
the contrary was the case. I never grow giddy, and so I advanced in
the following manner, without the aid of the Arabs. On the smaller
blocks I sprang from one to the other; when a stone of three or four
feet in height was to be encountered, I let myself glide gently
down; and I accomplished my descent with so much grace and agility,
that I reached the base of the pyramid long before my servant. Even
the Arabs expressed their pleasure at my fearlessness on this
dangerous passage.

After eating my breakfast and resting for a short time, I proceeded
to explore the interior. At first I was obliged to cross a heap of
sand and rubbish; for we have to go downwards towards the entrance,
which is so low and narrow that we cannot always stand upright. I
could not have passed along the passage leading into the interior if
the Arabs had not helped me, for it is so steep and so smoothly
paved that, in spite of my conductor's assistance, I slid rather
than walked. The apartment of the king is more spacious, and
resembles a small hall. On one side stands a little empty
sarcophagus without a lid. The walls of the chambers and of the
passages are covered with large and beautifully polished slabs of
granite and marble. The remaining passages, or rather dens, which
are shown here, I did not see. It may be very interesting for
learned men and antiquarians thus to search every corner; but for a
woman like myself, brought hither only by an insatiable desire to
travel, and capable of judging of the beauties of nature and art
only by her own simple feelings, it was enough to have ascended the
pyramid of Cheops, and to have seen something of its interior. This
pyramid is said to be the loftiest of all. It stands on a rock 150
feet in height, which is invisible, being altogether buried in sand.
The height of the vast structure is above 500 feet. It was erected
by Cheops more than 3000 years ago, and 100,000 men are said to have
been employed in its construction for twenty-six years. It is a
most interesting structure, built of immense masses of rock, fixed
together with a great deal of art, and seemingly calculated to last
an eternity. They look so strong and so well preserved, that many
travellers will no doubt repair hither in coming generations, and
continue the researches commenced long ago.

The Sphynx, a statue of most colossal dimensions, situate at no
great distance from the great pyramid, is so covered with sand that
only the head and a small portion of the bust remain visible. The
head alone is twenty-two feet in height.

After walking about and inspecting every thing, I commenced my
journey back. On the way I once more visited Herr Klinger,
strengthened myself with a hearty meal, and arrived safely at Cairo
late in the evening. Here I wished to take my little purse out of
my pocket, and found that it was gone. Luckily I had only taken one
collonato (Spanish dollar) with me. No one can imagine what
dexterity the Bedouins and Arabs possess in the art of stealing. I
always kept a sharp eye upon my effects, and notwithstanding my
vigilance several articles were pilfered from me, and my purse must
also have been stolen during this excursion. The loss was very
disagreeable to me because it involved that of my box-key. I was,
however, fortunate in finding an expert Arabian locksmith, who
opened my chest and made me a new key, on which occasion I had
another opportunity of seeing how careful it is necessary to be in
all our dealings with these people to avoid being cheated. The key
locked and unlocked my box well, and I paid for it; but immediately
afterwards observed that it was very slightly joined in the middle,
and would presently break. The Arab's tools still lay on the
ground; I immediately seized one of them, and told the man I would
not give it up until he had made me a new key. It was in vain that
he assured me he could not work without his tools; he would not give
my money back, and I kept the implement: by this means I obtained
from him a new and a good key.

CHAPTER XVI.

Christian churches at Cairo--The Esbekie-square--Theatre--Howling
dervishes--Mashdalansher, the birthday of Mahomet--Procession and
religious ceremony--Shubra--Excursion through the desert to Suez--
Hardships of the journey--Scenes in the desert--The camel--Caravans--
Mirage--The Red Sea--Suez--Bedouin camp--Quarrel with the camel-
driver--Departure for Alexandria.

I visited many Christian churches, the finest among which was the
Greek one. On my way thither I saw many streets where there can
hardly have been room for a horseman to pass. The road to the
Armenian church leads through such narrow lanes and gates, that we
were compelled to leave our asses behind; there was hardly room for
two people to pass each other.

On the other hand, I had nowhere seen a more spacious square than
the Esbekie-place in Cairo. The square in Padua is perhaps the only
one that can compare with it in point of size; but this place looks
like a complete chaos. Miserable houses and ruined huts surround
it; and here and there we sometimes come upon a part of an alley or
an unfinished canal. The centre is very uneven, and is filled with
building materials, such as stones, wood, bricks, and beams. The
largest and handsomest house in this square is remarkable as having
been inhabited by Napoleon during his residence at Cairo: it is now
converted into a splendid hotel.

Herr Chamgion, the consul, was kind enough to send me a card of
invitation for the theatre. The building looks like a private
house, and contains a gallery capable of accommodating three or four
hundred people; this gallery is devoted to the use of the ladies.
The performers were all amateurs; they acted an Italian comedy in a
very creditable manner. The orchestra comprised only four
musicians. At the conclusion of the second act the consul's son, a
boy of twelve years, played some variations on the violin very
prettily.

The women, all natives of the Levant, were very elegantly dressed;
they wore the European garb, white muslin dresses with their hair
beautifully braided and ornamented with flowers. Nearly all the
women and girls were handsome, with complexions of a dazzling
whiteness, which we rarely see equalled in Europe. The reason of
this is, perhaps, that they always stay in their houses, and avoid
exposing themselves to the sun and wind.

The following day I visited the abode of the howling dervishes, in
whom I took a lively interest since I had seen their brethren at
Constantinople. The hall, or rather the mosque, in which they
perform their devotions is very splendid. I was not allowed here to
stand among the men as I had done at Constantinople, but was
conducted to a raised gallery, from which I could look down through
a grated window.

The style of devotion and excitement of these dervishes is like that
I had witnessed at Constantinople, without being quite so wild in
its character. Not one of them sank exhausted, and the screeching
and howling were not so loud. Towards the end of their performance
many of the dervishes seized a small tambourine, on which they beat
and produced a most diabolical music.

In the slave-market there was but a meagre selection; all the wares
had been bought, and a new cargo of these unfortunates was daily
expected. I pretended that I wished to purchase a boy and a girl,
in order to gain admittance into the private department. Here I saw
a couple of negro girls of most uncommon beauty. I had not deemed
it possible to find any thing so perfect. Their skin was of a
velvety black, and shone with a peculiar lustre. Their teeth were
beautifully formed and of dazzling whiteness, their eyes large and
lustrous, and their lips thinner than we usually find them among
these people. They wore their hair neatly parted, and arranged in
pretty curls round the head. Poor creatures, who knows into what
hands they might fall! They bowed their heads in anguish, without
uttering a syllable. The sight of the slave-market here inspired me
with a feeling of deep melancholy. The poor creatures did not seem
so careless and merry as those whom I had seen on the market-place
at Constantinople. In Cairo the slaves seemed badly kept; they lay
in little tents, and were driven out, when a purchaser appeared,
very much in the manner of cattle. They were only partially clothed
in some old rags, and looked exhausted and unhappy.

During my short stay at Cairo one of the chief feasts of the
Mahommedans--namely, the Mashdalansher, or birthday of the Prophet--
occurred. This feast is celebrated on a great open space outside
the town. A number of large tents are erected; they are open in
front, and beneath their shelter all kinds of things are carried on.
In one tent, Mahommedans are praying; in another, a party of
dervishes throw themselves with their faces to the ground and call
upon Allah; while in a third, a juggler or storyteller may be
driving his trade. In the midst of all stood a large tent, the
entrance to which was concealed by curtains. Here the "bayaderes"
were dancing; any one can obtain admission by paying a trifling sum.
Of course I went in to see these celebrated dancers. There were,
however, only two pairs; two boys were elegantly clothed in a female
garb, richly decorated with gold coins. They looked very pretty and
delicate, so that I really thought they were girls. The dance
itself is very monotonous, slow, and wearisome; it consists only of
some steps to and fro, accompanied by some rather indecorous
movements of the upper part of the body. These gestures are said to
be very difficult, as the dancer must stand perfectly still, and
only move the upper part of his person. The music consisted of a
tambourine, a flageolet, and a bagpipe. Much has been written
concerning the indecency of these dances; but I am of opinion that
many of our ballets afford much greater cause of complaint. It may,
however, be that other dances are performed of which the general
public are not allowed to be spectators; but I only speak of what is
done openly. I would also by far prefer a popular festival in the
East to a fair in our highly-civilised states. The Oriental feasts
were to me a source of much enjoyment, for the people always behaved
most decorously. They certainly shouted, and pushed, and elbowed
each other like an European mob; but no drunken men were to be seen,
and it was very seldom that a serious quarrel occurred. The
commonest man, too, would never think of offering an insult to one
of the opposite sex. I should feel no compunction in sending a
young girl to this festival, though I should never think of letting
her go to the fair held at Vienna on St. Bridget's day.

The people were assembled in vast numbers, and the crowd was very
great, yet we could pass every where on our donkeys.

At about three o'clock my servant sought out an elevated place for
me, for the great spectacle was soon to come, and the crushing and
bustle had already reached their highest pitch. At length a portly
priest could be descried riding along on a splendid horse; before
him marched eight or ten dervishes with flags flying, and behind him
a number of men, among whom were also many dervishes. In the midst
of the square the procession halted; a few soldiers pushed their way
among the people, whom they forced to stand back and leave a road.
Whenever the spectators did not obey quickly, a stick was brought
into action, which soon established order in a most satisfactory
manner.

The procession now moved on once more, the standard-bearers and
dervishes making all kinds of frantic gestures, as though they had
just escaped from a madhouse. On reaching the place where the
spectators formed a lane, the dervishes and several other men threw
themselves down with their faces to the ground in a long row, with
their heads side by side. And then--oh horror!--the priest rode
over the backs of these miserable men as upon a bridge. Then they
all sprang up again as though nothing had happened, and rejoined the
advancing train with their former antics and grimaces. One man
stayed behind, writhing to and fro as if his back had been broken,
but in a few moments' time he went away as unconcernedly as his
comrades. Each of the actors in this scene considers himself
extremely fortunate in having attained to such a distinction, and
this feeling even extends to his relations and friends.

SHUBRA.

One afternoon I paid a visit to the beautiful garden and country-
house of the Viceroy of Egypt. A broad handsome street leads
between alleys of sycamores, and the journey occupies about an hour
and a half. Immediately upon my arrival I was conducted to an out-
building, in the yard belonging to which a fine large elephant was
to be shewn. I had already seen several of these creatures, but
never such a fine specimen as this. Its bulk was truly marvellous;
its body clean and smooth, and of a dark-brown colour.

The park is most lovely; and the rarest plants are here seen
flourishing in the open air, in the fulness of bloom and beauty,
beside those we are accustomed to see every day. On the whole,
however, I was better pleased with the garden at Rodda. The palace,
too, is very fine. The ceilings of the rooms are lofty, and richly
ornamented with gilding, paintings, and marble. The rooms
appropriated to the viceroy's consort are no less magnificent; the
ascent to them is by a broad staircase on each side. On the ground-
floor is situate the favourite apartment of the autocrat of Cairo,
furnished in the style of the reception-halls at Damascus. A
fountain of excellent water diffuses a delicious coolness around.
In the palace itself we find several large cages for parrots and
other beautiful birds. What pleased me most of all was, however,
the incomparable kiosk, lying in the garden at some distance from
the palace. It is 130 paces long and 100 broad, surrounded by
arcades of glorious pillars. This kiosk contains in its interior a
large and beautiful fountain; and at the four corners of the
building are terraces, from which the water falls in the form of
little cataracts, afterwards uniting with the fountain, and shooting
upwards in the shape of a mighty pillar. All things around us, the
pavilion and the pillars, the walls and the fountain, are alike
covered with beautiful marble of a white or light-brown colour; the
pavilion is even arranged so that it can be lighted with gas.

From this paradise of the living I rode to the abode of the dead,
the celebrated "world of graves," which is to be seen in the desert.
Here are to be found a number of ancient sepulchres, but most of
them resemble ruins, and to find out their boasted beauty is a thing
left to the imagination of every traveller. I only admired the
sepulchre of Mehemet Ali's two sons, in which the bones of his wife
also rest: this is a beautiful building of stone; five cupolas rise
above the magnificent chambers where the sarcophagi are deposited.

The petrified date-wood lies about eight miles distant from Cairo; I
rode out there, but did not find much to see, excepting here and
there some fragments of stems and a few petrifactions lying about.
It is said that the finest part of this "petrified wood" begins some
miles away; but I did not penetrate so far.

During my residence in Cairo the heat once reached 36 degrees
Reaumur, and yet I found it much more endurable than I had expected.
I was not annoyed at all by insects or vermin; but I was obliged to
be careful not to leave any provisions in my room throughout the
night. An immense swarm of minute ants would seize upon every kind
of eatable, particularly bread. One evening I left a roll upon the
table, and the next morning found it half eaten away, and covered
with ants within and without. It is here an universal custom to
place the feet of the tables in little dishes filled with water, to
keep off these insects.

EXCURSION TO SUEZ.

It had originally been my intention to stay at Cairo a week at the
furthest, and afterwards to return to Alexandria. But the more I
saw, the more my curiosity became excited, and I felt irresistibly
impelled to proceed. I had now travelled in almost every way, but I
had not yet tried an excursion on a camel. I therefore made inquiry
as to the distance, danger, and expense of a journey to Suez on the
Red Sea. The distance was a thirty-six hours' journey, the danger
was said to be nil, and the expense they estimated at about 250
piastres.

I therefore hired two strong camels, one for me, the other for my
servant and the camel-driver, and took nothing with me in the way of
provisions but bread, dates, a piece of roast meat, and hardboiled
eggs. Skins of water were hung at each side of the camels, for we
had to take a supply which would last us the journey and during our
return.

If we ride every day for twelve hours, this journey occupies six
days, there and back. But as I was unable to depart until the
afternoon of the 26th, and was obliged to be in Alexandria at latest
by the 30th, in order not to miss the steamer, I had only four days
and a half to accomplish it in. Thus this excursion was the most
fatiguing I had ever undertaken.

At four in the afternoon I rode through the town-gate, where the
camels were waiting for us; we mounted them and commenced our
journey.

The desert begins at the town-gates, but for the first few miles we
have a sight of some very fruitful country on the left, until at
length we leave town and trees behind us, and with them all the
verdure, and find ourselves surrounded on all sides by a sea of
sand.

For the first four or five hours I was not ill-pleased with this
mode of travelling. I had plenty of room on my camel, and could sit
farther back or forward as I chose, and had provisions and a bottle
of water at my side. Besides this, the heat was not oppressive; I
felt very comfortable, and could look down from my high throne
almost with a feeling of pride upon the passing caravans. Even the
swaying motion of the camel, which causes in some travellers a
feeling of sickness and nausea like that produced by a sea-voyage,
did not affect me. But after a few hours I began to feel the
fatigues and discomforts of a journey of this kind. The swinging
motion pained and fatigued me, as I had no support against which I
could lean. The desire to sleep also arose within me, and it can be
imagined how uncomfortable I felt. But I was resolved to go to
Suez; and if all my hardships had been far worse, I would not have
turned back. I summoned all my fortitude, and rode without halting
for fifteen hours, from four in the afternoon until seven the next
morning.

During the night we passed several trains of camels, some in motion,
some at rest, often consisting of more than a hundred. We were not
exposed to the least annoyance, although we had attached ourselves
to no caravan, but were pursuing our way alone.

From Cairo to Suez posts are established at every five or six hours'
journey, and at each of these posts there stands a little house of
two rooms for the convenience of travellers. These huts were built
by an English innkeeper established at Cairo; but they can only be
used by very rich people, as the prices charged are most exorbitant.
Thus, for instance, a bed for one night costs a hundred piastres, a
little chicken twenty, and a bottle of water two piastres. The
generality of travellers encamp before the house, and I followed the
same plan, lying down for an hour in the sand while the camels ate
their scanty meal. My health and bodily strength are, I am happy to
say, so excellent, that I am ready after a very short rest to
encounter new fatigues. After this hour of repose I once more
mounted my camel to continue my journey.

August 27th.

It may easily be imagined that the whole scene by which we are here
surrounded has over it an air of profound and deathlike stillness.
The sea, where we behold nothing but water around us, presents more
of life to divert the mind. The very rushing and splash of the
wheels, the bounding waves, the bustle of bending or reefing sails,
and the crowding of people on the steamer, brings varied pictures to
temper the monotony around. Even the ride through the stony deserts
which I had traversed in Syria has not so much sameness, for there
we at least hear the tramp of the horse and the sound of many a
rolling stone; the traveller's attention is, besides, kept
continually on the stretch in guiding each step that his horse
takes, to avoid the risk of a fall. But all this is wanting in a
journey through a sandy desert. No bird hovers in the air, not a
butterfly is here to gladden the eye, not even an insect or a worm
crawls on the ground; not a living creature is, in fact, to be seen,
but the little vultures preying on the carcasses of fallen camels.
Even the tread of the heavy-footed camel is muffled by the deep
sand, and nothing is ever heard but the moaning of these poor
animals when their driver forces them to lie down to take off their
burden; most probably the exertion of stooping hurts them. The
driver beats the camel on the knee with a stick, and pulls its head
towards him by a rope fastened to it like a halter. During this
operation the rider must hold very fast in order not to fall off,
for suddenly the creature drops on its fore-knees, then on its hind
legs, and at length sits completely down on the ground. When you
mount the animal again, it becomes necessary to keep a vigilant eye
upon him, for as soon as he feels your foot on his neck he wishes to
rise.

As I have already said, we see nothing on this journey but many and
large companies of camels, which march one behind the other, while
their drivers shorten the way with dreary inharmonious songs. Half-
devoured carcasses of these "ships of the desert" lie every where,
with jackals and vultures gnawing at them. Even living camels are
sometimes seen staggering about, which have been left to starve by
their masters as unfit for further service. I shall never forget
the piteous look of one of these poor creatures which I saw dragging
itself to and fro in the desert, anxiously seeking for food and
drink. What a cruel being is man! Why could he not put an end to
the poor camel's pain by a blow with a knife? One would imagine
that the air in the vicinity of these fallen animals was poisoned;
but here this is less the case than it would be in more temperate
regions, for the pure air and the great heat of the desert rather
dry up than decompose corpses.

From the same cause our piece of roast beef was still good on the
fifth day. The hard-boiled eggs, which my servant packed so
clumsily that they got smashed in the very first hour, did not
become foul. Both meat and eggs were shrunk and dried up. On the
third day the white bread had become as hard as ship-biscuit, so
that we had to break it up and soak it in water. Our drinking water
became worse day by day, and smelt abominably of the leathern
receptacles in which we were compelled to keep it. Until we reached
Suez our poor camels got not a drop to drink, and their food
consisted of a scanty meal of bad provender once a day.

At eight in the morning we set off once more, and rode until about
five in the afternoon. At about four I suddenly descried the Red
Sea and its shores. This circumstance delighted me, for I felt
assured that we should reach the coast in the course of another
hour, and then our laborious journey to Suez would be accomplished.
I called to my servant, pointed out the sea to him, and expressed my
surprise that we had sighted it so soon. He maintained, however,
that what I beheld was not the sea, but a fata morgana. At first I
refused to believe him, because the thing seemed so real. But after
an hour had elapsed we were as far from the sea as ever, and at
length the mirage vanished; and I did not behold the real sea until
six o'clock on the following morning, when it appeared in exactly
the same way as the phantom of the previous evening.

At five in the afternoon we at length halted. I lay down on the
earth completely exhausted, and enjoyed a refreshing sleep for more
than three hours, when I was awakened by my servant, who informed me
that a caravan was just before us, which we should do well to join,
as the remainder of our road was far less safe than the portion we
had already traversed. I was at once ready to mount my camel, and
at eight o'clock we were again in motion.

In a short time we had overtaken the caravan, and our camels were
placed in the procession, each beast being tethered to the preceding
one by a rope. It was already quite dark, and I could barely
distinguish that the people sitting on the camels before me were an
Arab family. They travelled in boxes resembling hen-coops, about a
foot and a half in height, four feet in length, and as many broad.
In a box of this kind two or three men sat cross-legged; many had
even spread a light tent over their heads. Suddenly I heard my name
called by a female voice. I started, and thought I must be
mistaken, for whom in the world could I meet here who knew my
Christian name? But once more a voice cried very distinctly, "Ida!
Ida!" and a servant came up, and told me that some Arab women, who
had made the voyage from Atfe to Cairo in company with me, were
seated on the first camel. They sent to tell me that they were on
their way to Mecca, and rejoiced to meet me once more. I was indeed
surprised that I should have made such an impression on these good
people that they had not forgotten my name.

To-night I saw a glorious natural phenomenon, which so surprised me
that I could not refrain from uttering a slight scream. It may have
been about eleven o'clock, when suddenly the sky on my left was
lighted up, as though every thing were in flames; a great fiery ball
shot through the air with lightning speed, and disappeared on the
horizon, while at the same moment the gleam in the atmosphere
vanished, and darkness descended once more on all around. We
travelled on throughout the whole of this night.

August 28th.

At six o'clock this morning we came in sight of the Red Sea. The
mountain-chain of Mokattam can be discerned some time previously.
Some way from Suez we came upon a well of bad, brackish water.
Notwithstanding all drawbacks, the supply was eagerly hailed. Our
people shouted, scolded, and pushed each other to get the best
places; camels, horses, asses, and men rushed pell-mell towards the
well, and happy was he who could seize upon a little water. There
are barracks near this well, and soldiers are posted here to promote
peace--by means of the stick.

The little town of Suez lies spread out on the sea-shore, and can be
very distinctly seen from here. The unhappy inhabitants are
compelled to draw their supplies either from this well, or from one
on the sea-coast four miles below Suez. In the first case the water
is brought on camels, horses, or asses; in the second it is
transported by sea in boats or small ships.

The Red Sea is here rather narrow, and surrounded by sand of a
yellowish-brown hue; immediately beyond the isthmus is the
continuation of the great Libyan Desert. The mountain-range of
Mokattam skirts the plain on the right, from Cairo to the Red Sea.
We quite lose sight of this range until within the last ten or
twelve hours before reaching Suez. The mountains are of moderate
elevation and perfectly bare; but still the eye rests with pleasure
on the varied forms of the rocks.

[Illustration 8. Isthmus of Suez. ill8.jpg]

After an hour's rest beside the well, we were still unable to
procure water for our poor beasts, and hastened, therefore, to reach
the town. At nine in the morning we were already within its walls.
Of the town and its environs I can say nothing, excepting that they
both present a very melancholy appearance, as there is nowhere a
garden or a cluster of trees to be seen.

I paid my respects to the consul, and introduced myself to him as an
Austrian subject. He was kind enough to assign me a room in his own
house, and would on no account permit me to take up my quarters in
an inn. It was a pity that I could only converse with this
gentleman by means of a dragoman; he was a Greek by birth, and only
knew the Arabic language and his own. He is the richest merchant in
Suez (his wealth is estimated at 150,000 collonati), and only
discharges the functions of French and Austrian consul as an
honorary duty.

In the little town itself there is nothing remarkable to be seen.
On the sea-coast they shewed me the place where Moses led the
children of Israel through the Red Sea. The sinking of the tide at
its ebb is here so remarkable that whole islands are left bare, and
large caravans are able to march through the sea, as the water only
reaches to the girths of the camels, and the Arabs and Bedouins even
walk through. As it happened to be ebb-tide when I arrived, I rode
through also, for the glory of the thing. On these shores I found
several pretty shells; but the real treasures of this kind are
fished out of the deep at Ton, a few days' journey higher up. I saw
whole cargoes of mother-of-pearl shells carried away.

I remained at Suez until four in the afternoon, and recruited my
energies perfectly with an excellent dinner, at which tolerably good
water was not wanting. The consul kindly gave me a bottle, as
provision for my journey. He has it fetched from a distance of
twelve miles, as all the water that can be procured in the
neighbourhood tastes brackish and salt. In the inn a bottle of
water costs two piastres.

The first night of my homeward journey was passed partly in a
Bedouin encampment and partly on the road, in the company of
different caravans. I found the Bedouins to be very good, obliging
people, among whom I might wander as I pleased, without being
exposed to injury. On the contrary, while I was in their encampment
they brought me a straw-mat and a chest, in order that I might have
a comfortable seat.

The homeward journey was just as monotonous and wearisome as that to
Suez, with the additional fact that I had a quarrel with my people
the day before its termination. Feeling exceedingly fatigued by a
lengthened ride, I ordered my servant to stop the camels, as I
wished to sleep for a few hours. The rascals refused to obey,
alleging that the road was not safe, and that we should endeavour to
overtake a caravan. This was, however, nothing but an excuse to get
home as quickly as possible. But I was not to be frightened, and
insisted that my desire should be complied with, telling them
moreover that I had inquired of the consul at Suez concerning the
safety of the roads, and had once more heard that there was nothing
to fear. Notwithstanding all this they would not obey, but
continued to advance. I now became angry, and desired the servant
once more to stop my camel, as I was fully determined not to proceed
another step.

I told him I had hired both camels and men, and had therefore a
right to be mistress; if he did not choose to obey me, he might go
his way with the camel-driver, and I would join the first caravan I
met, and bring him to justice, let it cost me what it would. The
fellow now stopped my camel, and went away with the other and the
camel-driver. He probably expected to frighten me by this
demonstration, and to compel me to follow; but he was vastly
mistaken. I remained standing where I was, and as often as he
turned to look at me, made signs that he might go his way, but that
I should stay. When he saw how fearless and determined I was, he
turned back, came to me, made my camel kneel down, and after helping
me to alight, prepared me a resting-place on a heap of sand, where I
slept delightfully for five hours; then I ordered my things to be
packed up, mounted my camel, and continued my journey.

My conduct astonished my followers to such a degree, that they
afterwards asked me every few hours if I wished to rest. On our
arrival at Cairo the camel-driver had not even the heart to make the
customary demand for backsheesh, and my servant begged pardon for
his conduct, and hoped that I would not mention the difference we
had had to the consul.

The maximum temperature during this journey was 43 degrees Reaumur,
and when it was perfectly calm I really felt as if I should be
stifled.

This journey from Cairo to Suez can, however, be accomplished in a
carriage in the space of twenty hours. The English innkeeper
established at Cairo has had a very light carriage, with seats for
four, built expressly for this purpose; but a place in this vehicle
costs five pounds for the journey there, and the same sum for the
return.

On the following day I once more embarked on board an Arabian vessel
for Alexandria. Before my departure I had a terrible quarrel with
the donkey-driver whom I usually employed. These men, as in fact
all fellahs, are accustomed to cheat strangers in every possible
way, but particularly with coins. They usually carry bad money
about with them, which they can substitute for the good at the
moment when they are paid, with the dexterity of jugglers. My
donkey-driver endeavoured to play me this trick when I rode to the
ship; he saw that I should not require his services any more, and
therefore wished to cheat me as a parting mark of attention. This
attempt disgusted me so much that I could not refrain from
brandishing my whip at him in a very threatening manner, although I
was alone among a number of his class. My gesture had the desired
effect; the driver instantly retreated, and I remained victor.

My reader would do me a great wrong by the supposition that I
mention these circumstances to make a vaunt of my courage; I am sure
that the fact of my having undertaken this journey alone will be
sufficient to clear me from the imputation of cowardice. I wish
merely to give future travellers a hint as to the best method of
dealing with these people. Their respect can only be secured by the
display of a firm will; and I am sure that in my case they were the
more intimidated as they had never expected to find so much
determination in a woman.

CHAPTER XVII.

Return to Alexandria--Egyptian burials--Catacombs of Alexandria--
Viceroy's palace--Departure from Alexandria--The steamer Eurotas--
Candia--Syra--Paros and Antiparos--The Morea--Fire on board--Malta--
Quarantine--St. Augustine's church--Clergymen--Beggars--Costumes--
Soldiers--Civita Vecchia.

September 5th.

At five o'clock in the evening of the 2d of September I commenced my
journey back to Alexandria. During the fortnight I remained at
Cairo the Nile had continued to rise considerably, and the interest
of the region had increased in proportion. In three days' time I
arrived safely at Alexandria, and again put up at Colombier's. Two
days had still to elapse before the departure of the French steam-
vessel, and I made use of this time to take a closer survey of the
town and its environs.

On my arrival at Alexandria I met two Egyptian funerals. The first
was that of a poor man, and not a soul followed the coffin. The
corpse lay in a wooden box without a lid, a coarse blanket had been
spread over it, and four men carried the coffin. The second funeral
had a more respectable air. The coffin, indeed, was not less rude,
but the dead man was covered with a handsome shawl, and four
"mourning women" followed the body, raising a most dolorous howl
from time to time. A motley crowd of people closed the procession.
The corpse was laid in the grave without the coffin.

The catacombs of Alexandria are very extensive, and well worth a
visit. A couple of miles from them we see the celebrated plain on
which the army of Julius Caesar was once posted. The cistern and
bath of Cleopatra were both under water. I could, therefore, only
see the place where they stood.

The viceroy's palace, a spacious building inclining to the European
style, has a pleasing effect. Its interior arrangement is also
almost wholly European.

The bazaar contains nothing worthy of remark. The arsenal looks
very magnificent when viewed from without. It is difficult to
obtain admission into this building, and you run the risk of being
insulted by the workmen. The hospital has the appearance of a
private house.

I was astonished at the high commission which is here demanded on
changing small sums of money. In changing a collonato, a coin very
much used in this country, and worth about two guilders, the
applicant must lose from half a piastre to two piastres, according
to the description of coin he requires. If beshliks {261} are
taken, the commission charged is half a piastre; but if piastres are
wanted, two must be paid. The government value of a collonato is
twenty piastres; in general exchange it is reckoned at twenty-two,
and at the consulate's at twenty-one piastres.

DEPARTURE FROM ALEXANDRIA.

September 7th.

At eight o'clock in the morning I betook myself on board the French
steam-packet Eurotas, a beautiful large vessel of 160-horse power.
At nine o'clock we weighed anchor.

The weather was very unfavourable. Though it did not rain, we
continually had contrary winds, and the sea generally ran high. In
consequence we did not sight the island of Candia until the evening
of the third day, four-and-twenty hours later than we should have
done under ordinary circumstances.

Two women, who came on board as passengers to Syra, were so
violently attacked by sea-sickness, that they left the deck a few
hours after we got under way, and did not reappear until they landed
at Syra. A very useful arrangement on board the French vessel is
the engagement of a female attendant, whose assistance sometimes
becomes very necessary. Heaven be praised, I had not much to fear
from the attacks of sea-sickness. The weather must be very bad--as,
for instance, during our passage through the Black Sea--before my
health is affected, and even then I recover rapidly. During our
whole voyage, even when the weather was wretched, I remained
continually on deck, so that during the day-time I could not miss
seeing even the smallest islet. On

September 10th,

late in the evening, we discovered the island of Candia or Crete,
and the next morning we were pretty close to it. We could, however,
distinguish nothing but bare unfruitful mountains, the tallest among
which, my namesake Mount Ida, does not look more fertile than the
rest. On the right loomed the island of Scarpanto. We soon left it
in our wake, and also passed the Brothers' Islands, and many others,
some of them small and uninhabited, besides separate colossal rocks,
towering majestically into the sea. Soon afterwards we passed the
islands Santorin and Anaph.

The latter of these islands is peculiarly beautiful. In the
foreground a village lies at the foot of a high mountain, with its
peak surmounted by a little church. On the side towards the sea
this rock shoots downwards so perpendicularly, that we might fancy
it had been cut off with a saw.

Since we had come in sight of Candia, we had not been sailing on the
high seas. Scarcely did one island vanish from our view, before it
was replaced by another. On

September 11th,

between three and four in the morning, we reached Syra. The
terrible contrary winds with which we had been obliged to contend
during almost the whole of our passage had caused us to arrive a day
behind our time, to make up for which delay we only stayed half a
day here, instead of a day and a half. This was a matter of
indifference to those of us who were travelling further, for as we
came from Egypt, we should not have been allowed in any case to
disembark. Those who landed here proceeded at once to the
quarantine-house.

Syra possesses a fine harbour. From our vessel we had a view over
the whole town and its environs. An isolated mountain, crowned by a
convent and church, the seat of the bishop, rises boldly from the
very verge of the shore. The town winds round this mountain in the
form of several wreaths, until it almost reaches the episcopal
buildings. The background closes with the melancholy picture of a
barren mountain-chain. A lighthouse stands on a little neighbouring
island. The quarantine establishment looks cheerful enough, and is
situate at a little distance from the town on the sea-shore.

It was Sunday when we arrived here; and as Syra belongs to Greece, I
here heard the sound of bells like those of Mount Lebanon, and once
more their strain filled me with deep and indescribable emotion.
Never do we think so warmly of our home as when we are solitary and
alone among strange people in a far-distant land!

I would gladly have turned aside from my route to visit Athens,
which I might have reached in a few hours; but then I should once
more have been compelled to keep quarantine, and perhaps on leaving
Greece the infliction would have to be borne a third time, a risk
which I did not wish to run. I therefore preferred keeping
quarantine at Malta, and having done with it at once.

On the same day at two o'clock we once more set sail. This day and
the following I remained on deck as much as possible, bidding
defiance to wind and rain, and gazing at the islands as we glided
past one after another. As one island disappeared, another rose in
its place. Groups of isolated rocks also rose at intervals, like
giants from the main, to form a feature in the changing panorama.

On the right, in the far distance, we could distinguish Paros and
Antiparos, on the left the larger Chermian Isles; and at length we
passed close to Cervo (Stag's Island), which is particularly
distinguished by the beauty of its mountain-range. Here, as at
Syra, we find an isolated mountain, round which a town winds almost
to its summit.

September 12th.

As I came on deck to-day with the sun, the mainland of the Morea was
in sight on our right,--a great plain, with many villages scattered
over its surface, and a background of bare hills. After losing
sight of the Morea we sailed once more on the high seas.

This day might have had a tragical termination for us. I was
sitting as usual on deck, when I noticed an unusual stir among the
sailors and officers, and even the commander ran hastily towards me.
Nevertheless I did not dare to ask what had happened; for in
proportion as the French are generally polite, they are proud and
overbearing on board their steamers. I therefore remained quietly
seated, and contented myself with watching every movement of the
officers and men. Several descended to the coal-magazine, returning
heated, blackened by the coals, and dripping with water. At length
a cabin-boy came hurrying by me; and upon my asking him what was the
matter, he replied in a whisper, that fire had broken out in the
coal-room. Now I knew the whole extent of our danger, and yet could
do nothing but keep my seat, and await whatever fate should bring
us. It was most fortunate for us that the fire occurred during the
daytime, and had been immediately discovered by the engine-man.
Double chain-pumps were rigged, and the whole magazine was laid
under water,--a proceeding which had the effect of extinguishing the
flames. The other passengers knew nothing of our danger; they were
all asleep or sitting quietly in the cabins; the sailors were
forbidden to tell them what had happened, and even my informant the
cabin-boy begged me not to betray him. We had three hundredweight
of gunpowder on board.

September 14th.

We did not come in sight of land until this evening, when the goal
of our journey appeared.

MALTA.

We cast anchor in the harbour of Lavalette at seven o'clock.

During the whole of our journey from Alexandria the wind had been
very unfavourable; the sea was frequently so agitated, that we could
not walk across the deck without the assistance of a sailor.

The distance from Alexandria via Syra to Malta is 950 sea-miles. We
took eight days to accomplish this distance, landing only at Syra.
The heat was moderate enough, seldom reaching 28 or 29 degrees
Reaumur.

The appearance of Malta is picturesque; it contains no mountains,
and consists entirely of hills and rocks.

The town of Lavalette is surrounded by three lines of
fortifications, winding like steps up the hill on which the town
lies; the latter contains large fine houses, all built of stone.

September 15th.

This morning at eight o'clock we disembarked, and were marched off
to keep quarantine in the magnificent castle of the Knights of St.
John.

This building stands on a hill, affording a view over the whole
island in the direction of Civita Vecchia. We found here a number
of clean rooms, and were immediately supplied with furniture,
bedding, etc. by the establishment at a very reasonable charge. Our
host at once despatched to every guest a bill of fare for breakfast
and dinner, so that each one can choose what he wishes, without
being cheated as to the prices. The keepers here are very obliging
and attentive; they almost all know something of Italian, and
execute any commission with which they are entrusted punctually and
well. The building for the incarcerated ones is situate on an
elevated plateau. It has two large wings, one on each side, one
story high, containing apartments each with a separate entrance.
Adjoining the courtyard is the inn, and not far from it the church;
neither, however, may be visited by the new-comers. The requisite
provisions are procured for them by a keeper, who takes them to the
purchasers. The church is always kept locked. A broad handsome
terrace, with a prospect over the sea, the town of Lavalette, and
the whole island, forms the foreground of the picture. This terrace
and the ramparts behind the houses form very agreeable walks. The
courtyard of our prison is very spacious, and we are allowed to walk
about in it as far as a statue which stands in the middle. Until
ten o'clock at night we enjoy our liberty; but when this hour
arrives, we are sent to our respective rooms and locked up. The
apartments of the keepers are quite separate from ours.

The arrangements of the whole establishment are so good and
comfortable, that we almost forget that we are prisoners. What a
contrast to the quarantine-house at Alexandria!

If a traveller receives a visitor, he is not separated from his
guest by ditches and bars, but stands only two steps from him in the
courtyard. The windows here are not grated; and though our clothes
were hung on horses to air, neither we nor our effects were smoked
out. If it had not been for the delay it caused, I should really
have spent the eighteen days of my detention here very pleasantly.
But I wished to ascend Mount Etna, and was a fixture here until the
2d of October.

October 1st.

The quarantine doctor examined us in a very superficial manner, and
pronounced that we should be free to-morrow. Upon this a boisterous
hilarity prevailed. The prisoners rejoiced at the prospect of
speedy release, and shouted, sang, and danced in the courtyard. The
keepers caught the infection, and all was mirth and good-humour
until late in the night.

October 2d.

At seven o'clock this morning we were released from thraldom. A
scene similar to that at Alexandria then took place; every one
rushed to seize upon the strangers. It is here necessary that the
traveller should be as much upon his guard as in Egypt among the
Arabs, in the matters of boat-fares, porterage, etc. If a bargain
is not struck beforehand, the people are most exorbitant in their
demands.

A few days before our release, I had made an arrangement with an
innkeeper for board, lodging, and transport. Today he came to fetch
me and my luggage, and we crossed the arm of the sea which divides
Fort Manuel from the town of Lavalette.

A flight of steps leads from the shore into the town, past the three
rows of fortifications rising in tiers above each other. In each of
these divisions we find streets and houses. The town, properly
speaking, lies quite at the top; it is therefore necessary to mount
and descend frequently, though not nearly so often as at
Constantinople. The streets are broad and well paved, the houses
spacious and finely built; the place of roofs is supplied by
terraces, frequently parcelled out into little flower-beds, which
present a very agreeable appearance.

My host gave me a tiny room, and meals on the same principle--coffee
with milk morning and evening, and three dishes at dinner-time; but
for all this I did not pay more than forty-five kreutzers, or about
one shilling and sixpence.

The first thing I did after taking up my quarters here was to hasten
to a church to return thanks to the Almighty for the protection He
had so manifestly extended to me upon my long and dangerous journey.
The first church which I entered at Lavalette was dedicated to St.
Augustine. I was particularly pleased with it, for since my
departure from Vienna I had not seen one so neatly or so well built.
Afterwards I visited the church of St. John, and was much struck
with its splendour. This building is very spacious, and the floor
is completely covered with monumental slabs of marble, covering the
graves of the knights. The ceiling is ornamented with beautiful
frescoes, and the walls are sculptured from ceiling to floor with
arabesques, leaves, and flowers, in sandstone.

All these ornaments are richly gilt, and present a peculiarly
imposing appearance. The side-chapels contain numerous monuments,
mostly of white marble, and one single one of black, in memory of
celebrated Maltese knights. At the right-hand corner of the church
is the so-called "rose-coloured" chapel. It is hung round with a
heavy silk stuff of a red colour, which diffuses a roseate halo over
all the objects around. The altar is surrounded by a high massive
railing. Two only of the paintings are well executed--namely, that
over the high altar, and a piece representing Christ on the cross.
The pillars round the altar are of marble; and at each side of the
grand altar rise lofty canopies of red velvet fringed with gold,
reaching almost to the vaulted cupola.

The uncomfortable custom of carrying chairs to and fro during
church-time, which is so universal throughout Italy, begins already
at Malta.

The predilection for the clerical profession seems to prevail here,
as it does throughout Italy; I could almost say that every fifteenth
person we meet either is a clergyman or intends to become one.
Children of ten or twelve years already run about in the black gown
and three-cornered hat.

The streets are handsome and cleanly kept, particularly the one
which intersects the town; some of them are even watered. The
counters of the dealers' shops contain the most exquisite wares; in
fact, every where we find indications that we are once more on
European ground.

When we see the Fachini here, with their dark worked caps or round
straw hats, their short jackets and comfortable trousers, with
jaunty red sashes round their waists, and their bold free glance,--
when we contrast them with the wretched fellahs of Egypt, and
consider that these men both belong to the same class in society,
and that the fellahs even inhabit the more fruitful country, we
begin to have our doubts of Mehemet Ali's benignant rule.

The governor's palace, a great square building, stands on a
magnificent open space; next to it is the library; and opposite, the
chief guard-house rears its splendid front, graced with pillars.
The coffee-houses here are very large; they are kept comfortably and
clean, particularly that on the great square, which is brilliantly
illuminated every evening.

Women and girls appear dressed in black; they are usually accustomed
to throw a wide cloak over their other garments, and wear a mantilla
which conceals arms, chest, and head. The face is left uncovered,
and I saw some very lovely ones smiling forth from the black
drapery. Rich people wear these upper garments of silk; the cloaks
of the poorer classes are made of merino or cheap woollen stuffs.

It was Sunday when I entered Lavalette for the first time. Every
street and church was thronged with people, all of whom were neatly
and decently dressed. I saw but few beggars, and those whom I met
were less ragged than the generality of their class.

The military, the finest I had ever seen, consisted entirely of tall
handsome men, mostly Scotchmen. Their uniforms were very tasteful.
One regiment wore scarlet jackets and white linen trousers; another,
black jackets and shoulder-knots,--in fact, the whole uniform is
black, with the exception of the trousers, which are of white linen.

It seemed much more the fashion to drive than to ride here. The
coaches are of a very peculiar kind, which I hardly think can be
found elsewhere. They consist of a venerable old rattling double-
seated box, swinging upon two immense wheels, and drawn by a single
horse in shafts. The coachman generally runs beside his vehicle.

October 3d.

To-day I drove in a carriage (for the first time since my departure
from Vienna, a period of six months and a half) to Civita Vecchia,
to view this ancient town of Malta, and particularly the celebrated
church of St. Peter and St. Paul. On this occasion I traversed the
whole length of the island, and had an opportunity of viewing the
interior.

Malta consists of a number of little elevations, and is intersected
in all directions by excellent roads. I also continually passed
handsome villages, some of them so large that they looked like
thriving little towns. The heights are frequently crowned by
churches of considerable extent and beauty; although the whole
island consists of rock and sandstone, vegetation is sufficiently
luxurious. Fig, lemon, and orange trees grow every where, and
plantations of the cotton-shrub are as common as potato-fields in my
own country. The stems of these shrubs are not higher than potato-
plants, and are here cultivated exactly in the same way. I was told
that they had been stunted this year by the excessive drought, but
that in general they grew a foot higher.

The peasants were every where neatly dressed, and live in commodious
well-built houses, universally constructed of stone, and furnished
with terraces in lieu of roofs.

CIVITA VECCHIA

is a town of splendid houses and very elegant country-seats. Many
inhabitants of Lavalette spend the summer here, in the highest
portion of the island.

The church of St. Peter and St. Paul is a spacious building, with a
simple interior. The floor is covered merely with stone slabs; the
walls are white-washed to the ceiling, but the upper portion is
richly ornamented with arabesques. A beautiful picture hanging
behind the high altar represents a storm at sea. The view from the
hall of the convent is magnificent; we can overlook almost the
entire island, and beyond our gaze loses itself in the boundless
expanse of ocean.

Near the church stands a chapel, beneath which is St. Paul's grotto,
divided into two parts: in the first of these divisions we find a
splendid statue of St. Paul in white marble; the second was the
dungeon of the apostle.

Not far from this chapel, at the extremity of the town, are the
catacombs, which resemble those at Rome, Naples, and other towns.

During our drive back we made a little detour to see the gorgeous
summer-palace and garden of the governor.

The whole excursion occupied about seven hours. During my residence
in Malta the heat varied from 20 to 25 degrees Reaumur in the sun.

CHAPTER XVIII.

The steamer Hercules--Syracuse--Neapolis--Ruins--Catanea--Convent of
St. Nicholas--Messina--The Duke of Calabria--Palermo--The royal
palace--Church of St. Theresa--St. Ignazio--Catacombs of the
Augustine convent--Skeletons--Olivuzza --Royal villa "Favorite"--St.
Rosalia--Brutality of the Italian mob--Luxuriant vegetation--Arrival
at Naples.

October 4th.

At eight o'clock in the evening I embarked on board the Sicilian
steamer Hercules, of 260-horse power, the largest and finest vessel
I had yet seen. The officers here were not nearly so haughty and
disobliging as those on board the Eurotas. Even now I cannot think
without a smile of the airs the captain of the latter vessel gave
himself. He appeared to consider that he had as good a right to be
an admiral as Bruys.

At ten o'clock we steamed out of the harbour of Lavalette. As it
was already dark night, I went below and retired to rest.

October 5th.

When I hurried on deck this morning I found we were already in sight
of the Sicilian coast, and--oh happiness!--I could distinguish green
hills, wooded mountains, glorious dells, and smiling meadows,--a
spectacle I had enjoyed neither in Syria, in Egypt, nor even at
Malta. Now I thought at length to behold Europe, for Malta
resembles the Syrian regions too closely to favour the idea that we
are really in Europe. Towards eleven o'clock we reached

SYRACUSE.

Unfortunately we could only get four hours' leave of absence. As
several gentlemen among the passengers wished to devote these few
hours to seeing all the lions of this once rich and famous town, I
joined their party and went ashore with them. Scarcely had we
landed before we were surrounded by a number of servants and a mob
of curious people, so that we were almost obliged to make our way
forcibly through the crowd. The gentlemen hired a guide, and
desired to be at once conducted to a restaurateur, who promised to
prepare them a modest luncheon within half an hour. The prospect of
a good meal seemed of more importance in the eyes of my fellow-
passengers than any thing else. They resolved to have luncheon
first, and afterwards to take a little walk through the city.

On hearing this I immediately made a bargain with a cicerone to shew
me what he could in four hours, and went with him, leaving the
company seated at table. Though I got nothing to eat to-day but a
piece of bread and a few figs, which I despatched on the road, I saw
some sights which I would not have missed for the most sumptuous
entertainment.

Of the once spacious town nothing remains but a very small portion,
inhabited by 10,000 persons at most. The dirty streets were every
where crowded with people, as though they dwelt out of doors, while
the houses stood empty.

Accompanied by my guide, I passed hastily through the new town, and
over three or four wooden bridges to Neapolis, the part of ancient
Syracuse in which monuments of the past are seen in the best state
of preservation. First we came to the theatre. This building is
tolerably well preserved, and several of the stone seats are still
seen rising in terrace form one above the other. From this place we
betook ourselves into the amphitheatre, which is finer by far, and
where we find passages leading to the wild beasts' dens, and above
them rows of seats for spectators; all is in such good condition
that it might, at a trifling expense, be so far repaired as to be
made again available for its original purpose. Now we proceeded to
the "Ear of Dionysius," with which I was particularly struck. It
consists of a number of chambers, partly hewn out of the rock by
art, partly formed by nature, and all opening into an immensely
lofty hall, which becomes narrower and narrower towards the top,
until it at length terminates in an aperture so minute as to be
invisible from below. To this aperture Dionysius is said to have
applied his ear, in order to overhear what the captives spoke.
(This place is stated to have been used as a prison for slaves and
malefactors.) It is usual to fire a pistol here, that the stranger
may hear the reverberating echoes. A lofty opening, resembling a
great gate, forms the entrance to these rocky passages. Overgrown
with ivy, it has rather the appearance of a bower than of a place of
terror and anguish. Several of these side halls are now used as
workshops by rope-makers, while in others the manufacture of
saltpetre is carried on. The region around is rocky, but without
displaying any high mountains. I saw numerous grottoes, some of
them with magnificent entrances, which looked as though they had
been cut in the rocks by art. In one of these grottoes water fell
from above, forming a very pretty cataract.

During this excursion the time had passed so rapidly that I was soon
compelled to think, not of a visit to the catacombs, but of my
return on board.

I proceeded to the sea-shore, where the Syracusans have built a very
pretty promenade, and was rowed back to the steamer.

Of all the passengers I was the only one who had seen any thing of
Syracuse; all the rest had spent the greater part of the time
allowed them in the inn, and at most had been for a short walk in
the town. But they had obtained an exceedingly good dinner; and
thus we had each enjoyed ourselves in our own way.

At three o'clock we quitted the beautiful harbour of Syracuse, and
three hours brought us to

CATANEA.

This voyage was one of the most beautiful and interesting that can
be imagined. The traveller continually sees the most charming
landscapes of blooming Sicily; and at Syracuse we can already descry
on a clear day the giant Etna rearing its head 10,000 feet above the
level of the sea.

At six in the evening we disembarked; but those going farther had to
be on board again by midnight. I had intended to remain at Catanea
and ascend Mount Etna; but on making inquiries I was assured that
the season was too far advanced for such an undertaking, and
therefore resolved to set sail again at midnight. I went on shore
in company with a Neapolitan and his wife, for the purpose of
visiting some of the churches, a few public buildings, and the town
itself. The buildings, however, were already closed, though the
exteriors promised much. We could only deplore that we had arrived
an hour too late, and take a walk round the town. I could scarcely
wonder enough at the bustle in the crowded squares and chief
streets, and at the shouting and screaming of the people. The
number of inhabitants is about 50,000. The two chief streets,
leading in different directions from the great square, are long,
broad, and particularly well paved with large stone slabs: they
contain many magnificent houses. The only circumstance which
displeased me was, that every where, even in the chief streets, the
people dry clothes on large poles at balconies and windows. This
makes the town look as though it were inhabited by a race of
washerwomen. I should not even mind so much if they were clean
clothes; but I frequently saw the most disgusting rags fluttering in
front of splendid houses. Unfortunately this barbarous custom
prevails throughout the whole of Sicily; and even in Naples the
hanging out of clothes is only forbidden in the principal street,
the Toledo: all the other streets are full of linen.

Among the equipages, which were rolling to and fro in great numbers,
I noticed some very handsome ones. Some were standing still in the
great square, while their occupants amused themselves by looking at
the bustle around them, and chatted with friends and acquaintances
who crowded round the carriages. I found a greater appearance of
life here than either at Naples or Palermo.

The convent of St. Nicholas was unfortunately closed, so that we
could only view its exterior. It is a spacious magnificent
building, the largest, in fact, in the whole town. We also looked
at the walks on the sea-shore, which at our first arrival we had
traversed in haste in order to reach the town quickly. Beautiful
avenues extend along each side of the harbour; they are, however,
less frequented than the streets and squares. We had a beautiful
moonlight night; the promontory of Etna, with its luxurious
vegetation, as well as the giant mountain itself, were distinctly
visible in all their glory. The summit rose cloudless and free; no
smoke came from the crater, nor could we discover a trace of snow as
we returned to our ship. We noticed several heaps of lava piled
upon the sea-shore, of a perfectly black colour.

Late in the evening we adjourned to an inn to refresh ourselves with
some good dishes, and afterwards returned to the steamer, which
weighed anchor at midnight.

October 6th.

We awoke in the harbour of Messina. The situation of this town is
lovely beyond description. I was so charmed with it that I stood
for a long time on deck without thinking of landing.

A chain of beautiful hills and huge masses of rock in the background
surround the harbour and town. Every where the greatest fertility
reigns, and all things are in the most thriving and flourishing
condition. In the direction of Palermo the boundless ocean is
visible.

I now bade farewell to the splendid steamer Hercules, because I did
not intend to proceed direct to Naples, but to make a detour by way
of Palermo.

As soon as I had landed, I proceeded to the office of the merchant
M., to whom I had a letter of recommendation. I requested Herr M.
to procure me a cicerone as soon as possible, as I wished to see the
sights of Messina, and afterwards to continue my journey to Palermo.
Herr M. was kind enough to send one of his clerks with me. I rested
for half an hour, and then commenced my peregrination.

From the steamer Messina had appeared to me a very narrow place, but
on entering the town I found that I had made quite a false estimate
of its dimensions. Messina is certainly built in a very straggling
oblong form, but still its breadth is not inconsiderable.

I saw many very beautiful squares; for instance, the chief square,
with its splendid fountain ornamented with figures, and a bas-relief
of carved work in bronze. Every square contains a fountain, but we
seldom find any thing particularly tasteful. The churches are not
remarkable for the beauty of their facades, nor do they present any
thing in the way of marble statues or finely executed pictures.

The houses are generally well built, with flat roofs; the streets,
with few exceptions, are narrow, small, and very dirty. An
uncommonly broad street runs parallel with the harbour, and
contains, on one side at least, some very handsome houses. This is
a favourite place for a walk, for we can here see all the bustle and
activity of the port. Several of the palaces also are pretty; that
appropriated to the senate is the only one which can be called fine,
the staircase being constructed entirely of white marble, in a
splendid style of architecture: the halls and apartments are lofty,
and generally arched. The regal palace is also a handsome pile.

In the midst of the town I found an agreeable public garden. The
Italians appear, however, to choose the streets as places of
rendezvous, in preference to enclosures of this kind; for every
where I noticed that the garden-walks were empty, and the streets
full. But on the whole there is not nearly so much life here as at
Catanea. In order to obtain a view of the whole of Messina and its
environs I ascended a hill near the town, surmounted by a Capuchin
convent; here I enjoyed a prospect which I have seldom seen
equalled. As I gazed upon it I could easily imagine that an
inhabitant of Messina can find no place in the world so beautiful as
his native town.

The promontory against which the town leans is clothed with a carpet
of the brightest green, planted with fruit-trees of all kinds, and
enlivened with scattered towns, villages, and country seats.
Beautiful roads, appearing like white bands, intersect the mountains
on every side in the direction of the town. The background is
closed by high mountains, sometimes wooded, sometimes bare, now
rising in the form of alps, now in the shape of rocky masses. At
the foot of the hills we see the long-drawn town, the harbour with
its numerous ships, and beyond it groups of alps and rocks. The
boundless sea flows on the spectator's right and left towards
Palermo and Naples, while in the direction of Catanea the eye is
caught by mountains, with Etna towering among them.

The same evening I embarked on board the Duke of Calabria, for the
short trip of twelve or fourteen hours to Palermo. This steamer has
only engines of 80 horse-power, and every thing connected with it is
small and confined. The first-class accommodation is indeed pretty
good, but the second-class places are only calculated to contain
very few passengers. Though completely exhausted by my long and
fatiguing walk through Messina, I remained on deck, for I could not
be happy without seeing Stromboli. Unfortunately I could
distinguish very little of it. We had started from Messina at about
six o'clock in the evening, and did not come in sight of the
mountain until two hours later, when the shades of night were
already descending; we were, besides, at such a distance from it
that I could descry nothing but a colossal mass rising from the sea
and towering towards heaven. I stayed on deck until past ten
o'clock in the hope of obtaining a nearer view of Stromboli; but we
had soon left it behind us in the far distance, with other islands
which lay on the surface like misty clouds.

October 7th.

To-day I hastened on deck before sunrise, to see as much as possible
of the Sicilian coast, and to obtain an early view of Palermo. At
ten o'clock we ran into the harbour of this town.

I had been so charmed with the situation of Messina that I did not
expect ever to behold any thing more lovely; and yet the remembrance
of this town faded from my mind when

PALERMO

rose before me, surrounded by magnificent mountains, among which the
colossal rock of St. Rosalia, a huge slab of porphyry and granite,
towered high in the blue air. The combination of various colours
unites with its immense height and its peculiar construction to
render this mountain one of the most remarkable in existence. Its
summit is crowned by a temple; and a good road, partly cut out of
the rock, partly supported on lofty pillars of masonry, which we can
see from on board our vessel, leads to the convent of St. Rosalia,
and to a chapel hidden among the hills and dedicated to the same
saint.

At the foot of this mountain lies a gorgeous castle, inhabited, as
my captain told me, by an English family, who pay a yearly rent of
30,000 florins for the use of it. To the left of Palermo the
mountains open and shew the entrance into a broad and transcendently
beautiful valley, in which the town of Monreal lies with magical
effect. Several of these gaps occur along the coast, affording
glimpses of the most lovely vales, with scattered villages and
pretty country-seats.

The harbour of Palermo is picturesque and eminently safe. The town
numbers about 130,000 inhabitants. Here, too, our deck was crowded
with Fachini, innkeepers, and guides, before the anchor was fairly
lowered. I inquired of the captain respecting the price of board
and lodging, and afterwards made a bargain with a host before
leaving the ship. By following this plan I generally escaped
overcharge and inconvenience.

Arrived at the inn, I sent to Herr Schmidt, to whom I had been
recommended, with the request that he would despatch a trustworthy
cicerone to me, and make me a kind of daily scheme of what I was to
see. This was soon done, and after hurrying over my dinner I
commenced my wanderings.

I entered almost every church I passed on my way, and found them all
neat and pretty. Every where I came upon picturesque villas and
handsome houses, with glass doors instead of windows, their lower
portion guarded by iron railings and forming little balconies. Here
the women and girls sit of an evening working and talking to their
heart's content.

The streets of Palermo are far handsomer and cleaner than those of
Messina. The principal among them, Toledo and Casaro, divide the
town into four parts, and join in the chief square. The streets, as
we pass from one into another, present a peculiar appearance, filled
with bustling crowds of people moving noisily to and fro. In the
Toledo Street all the tailors seem congregated together, for the
shops on each side of the way are uniformly occupied by the votaries
of this trade, who sit at work half in their houses and half in the
street. The coffee-houses and shops are all open, so that the
passers-by can obtain a full view of the wares and of the buyers and
sellers.

The regal palace is the handsomest in the town. It contains a
gothic chapel, richly decorated; the walls are entirely covered with
paintings in mosaic, of which the drawings do not display remarkable
taste, and the ceiling is over-crowded with decorations and
arabesques. An ancient chandelier, in the form of a pillar, made of
beautiful marble and also covered with arabesques, stands beside the
pulpit. On holydays an immense candle is put in this candlestick
and lighted.

I wished to enter this chapel, but was refused admittance until I
had taken off my hat, like the men, and carried it in my hand. This
custom prevails in several churches of Palermo. The space in front
of the palace resembles a garden, from the number of avenues and
beds of flowers with which it is ornamented. Second in beauty is
the palace of the senate, but it cannot be compared with that at
Messina.

The town contains several very handsome squares, in all of which we
find several statues and fountains.

Foremost among the churches the Cathedral must be mentioned; its
gothic facade occupies one entire side of a square. A spacious
entrance-hall, with two monuments, not executed in a very fine style
of art, leads into the interior of the church, which is of
considerable extent, but built in a very simple style. The pillars,
two of which always stand together, and the four royal monuments at
the entrance, are all of Egyptian granite. The finest part of the
church is the chapel of St. Rosalia on the right, not far from the
high altar; both its walls are decorated with large bas-reliefs in
marble, beautifully executed: one of these represents the
banishment of the plague, and the finding of St. Rosalia's bones. A
splendid pillar of lapis-lazuli, said to be the largest and finest
specimen of this stone in existence, stands beside the high altar.
The two basins with raised figures at the entrance of the church
also deserve notice. The left side of the square is occupied by the
episcopal palace, a building of no pretensions.

Santa Theresia is a small church, containing nothing remarkable
except a splendid bas-relief in marble, representing the Holy
Family, which an Englishman once offered to purchase for an immense
sum. The neighbouring church of St. Pieta, on the contrary, can be
called large and grand. The facades are ornamented with pillars of
marble, the altar is richly gilt, and handsome frescoes deck the
ceiling. St. Domenigo, another fine church, possesses, my cicerone
assured me, the largest organ in the world. If he had said the
greatest _he had seen_, I could readily have believed him.

In St. Ignazio, or Olivazo, near a minor altar at one side, we find
a painting representing the Virgin and the infant Jesus. The
sacristan persisted that this was a work of Raphael's. The
colouring appeared to me not quite to resemble that of the great
master, but I understand too little of these things to be able to
judge on such a subject. At any rate it is a fine piece. A few
steps below the church lies the oratory, which nearly equals it in
size, and also contains a handsome painting over the altar. "St.
Augustine" also repays the trouble of a visit; it displays great
wealth in marble, sculptures, frescoes, and arabesques. "St.
Joseph" is also rich in various kinds of marble. Several of its
large columns have been made from a single block. A clear cold
stream issues from this church.

I have still to notice the lovely public gardens, which I visited
after dining with the consul-general, Herr Wallenburg. I cannot
omit this opportunity of gratefully mentioning the friendly sympathy
and kindness I experienced on the part of this gentleman and his
lady. To return to the gardens,--the most interesting to me was the
botanical, where a number of rare trees and plants flourish famously
in the open air.

The catacombs of the Augustine convent are most peculiar; they are
situate immediately outside the town. From the church, which offers
nothing of remarkable interest, a broad flight of stairs leads
downwards into long and lofty passages cut in the rock, and
receiving light from above. The skeletons of the dead line the
walls, in little niches close beside each other; they are clothed in
a kind of monkish robe, and each man's hands are crossed on his
chest, with a ticket bearing his name, age, and the date of his
death depending therefrom. A more horrible sight can scarcely be
imagined than these dressed-up skeletons and death's-heads. Many
have still hair on the scalp, and some even beard. The niches in
which they stand are surmounted by planks displaying skulls and
bones, and the corridors are crowded with whole rows of coffins,
their inmates waiting for a vacant place. If the relations of one
of the favoured skeletons neglect to supply a certain number of wax-
tapers on All-Saints' day, the poor man is banished from his
position, and one of the candidates steps in and occupies his niche.

The corpses of women and girls are deposited in another compartment,
and look as though they were lying in state in their glass coffins,
dressed in handsome silks, with ornamental coifs on their heads,
ruffs and lace collars round their necks, and silk shoes and
stockings, which however soon burst, on their feet. A wreath of
flowers decks the brow of each girl, and beneath all this ornament
the skull appears with its hollow eyes--a parody upon life and
death.

Whenever any one wishes to be immortalised in this way, his friends
and relations must pay a certain sum for a place on the day of his
burial, and afterwards bring wax-tapers every year. The body is
then laid in a chamber of lime, which remains for eight months
hermetically closed, until the flesh has been entirely eaten away;
then the bones are fastened together, dressed, and placed in a
niche.

On All-Saints' day these corridors of death are crowded with gazers;
friends and relations of the deceased resort thither to light
candles and perform their devotions. I was glad to have had an
opportunity of seeing these audience-halls of the dead, but still I
rejoiced when I hastened upwards to sojourn once more among the
living.

From here I drove to Olivuzza, to view the Moorish castle of Ziza,
celebrated for the beauty of its situation and of the region around.
Not far from the old castle stands a new one, with a garden of much
beauty, containing also a number of fantastic toys, such as little
grottoes and huts, hollow trees in which secret doors fly suddenly
open, disclosing to view a nun, a monk, or some figure of the kind,
etc. Here I still found a species of date-tree growing in the open
air; but the fruit it bears is very small, and never becomes
completely ripe: this was the last date-tree I saw.

The royal villa "Favourite," about a mile from the town, is situated
in a lovely spot. It is built in the Chinese style, with a quantity
of points, gables, and little bells; its interior is, however,
arranged according to European design, in a rich, tasteful, and
artistic manner. We linger with pleasure in the rooms, each of
which offers some attractive feature. Thus, for instance, one
apartment contains beautiful fresco paintings; another, life-size
portraits of the royal family in Chinese costume; in a third, the
effects of damp on walls and ceiling are so accurately portrayed
that at first I was deceived by the resemblance, and regretted to
find a room in such a condition among all the pomp and splendour
around. One small cabinet is entirely inlaid with little pieces of
all the various kinds of marble that are to be found in Sicily. The
large tables are made of petrified and polished woods, etc. Besides
these minor attractions, a much greater one exists in the splendid
view which we obtain from the terraces and from the summit of the
Chinese tower. I found it difficult to tear myself from
contemplating this charming prospect; a painter would become
embarrassed by the very richness of the materials around him. Every
thing I had seen from on board here appeared before my eyes with
increased loveliness, because I here saw it from a higher position,
and obtained a more extended view.

An ornamental garden lies close to the palace. It is flagged with
large blocks of stone, between which spaces are left for earth.
These beds are parcelled out according to plans, bordered with box a
foot in height, and arranged so as to form immense leaves, flowers,
and arabesques; while in the midst stand vases of natural flowers.
The park fills up the background; it consists merely of a few
avenues and meadows, extending to the foot of Mount Rosalia.

This mountain I also ascended. The finest paved street, which is
sufficiently broad for three carriages to pass each other, winds in
a serpentine manner round the rocky heights, so that we can mount
upwards without the slightest difficulty.

The convent is small and very simply constructed; the courtyard
behind it, on the contrary, is exceedingly imposing. It is shut in
on all sides by steep walls of rock, covered with clinging ivy in a
most picturesque manner. On the left we find a little grotto
containing an altar. In the foreground, on the right, a lofty gate,
formed by nature and beautified by art, leads into a chapel
wonderfully formed of pieces of rock and stalactites. A feeling of
astonishment and admiration almost amounting to awe came upon me as
I entered. The walls near the chief altar are overgrown with a kind
of delicate moss of an emerald-green colour, with the white rock
shining through here and there; and in the midst rises a natural
cupola, terminating in a point. The extreme summit of this dome
cannot be distinguished; it is lost in obscurity. Here and there
natural niches occur, in which statues of saints have been placed.
To the left of the high altar I saw the monument of St. Rosalia,
beautifully executed in white marble. She is represented in a
recumbent posture, the size of life; the statue rests on a pedestal
two feet in height. In the most highly-decorated or the most
gorgeous church I could not have felt myself more irresistibly
impelled to devotion than in this grand temple of nature.

From the 15th to the 18th of July in every year a great feast is
held in honour of St. Rosalia, the patron saint of the city, in the
town and on the mountain. On these days a number of people make a
pilgrimage to the grotto above described, where the bones of the
saint were found at a time when the plague was raging at Palermo.
They were carried with great pomp into the town, and from that
moment the plague ceased.

The road from the convent to the temple, built on the summit of a
rock, and visible to the sailors from a great distance, leads us for
about half a mile over loose stones. Its construction is extremely
simple, and not remarkable in any way. In former times its summit
was decked by a colossal statue of the saint. This fell down, and
the head alone remained unmutilated. Like the statue, the fane is
now in ruins, and its site is only visited for the sake of the
beautiful view.

On our way back to the convent, my guide drew my attention to a spot
where a large tree had stood. Some years before, a family was
sitting quietly beneath its shade, partaking of a frugal meal, when
the tree suddenly came crashing down, and caused the death of four
persons.

The excursion to St. Rosalia's Hill can easily be made in four or
five hours. It is usual to ride up the mountain on donkeys; these
animals are, however, so sluggish, compared with those of Egypt,
that I often preferred dismounting and proceeding on foot. The
Neapolitan donkeys are just as lazy.

I wished still to visit Bagaria, the summer residence of many of the
townspeople. One morning I drove to this lovely spot in the company
of an amiable Swiss family. The distance from Palermo is about two
miles and a half, and the road frequently winding close to the sea,
presents a rich variety of beautiful pictures.

We went to view the palace of Prince Fascello: the proprietor
appears, however, seldom to reside here, for every thing wears an
air of neglect. Two halls in this building are worthy of notice;
the walls of the smaller one are covered with figures and ornaments,
beautifully carved in wood, with pieces of mirror glass placed
between them. The vaulted ceiling is also decorated with mirrors,
some of which are unfortunately already broken.

The walls of the larger hall are completely lined with the finest
Sicilian marble. Above the cornices the marble has been covered
with thin glass, which gives it a peculiar appearance of polish.
The immense ceiling of the great hall is vaulted like that of the
smaller one, and completely covered with mirrors, all of them in
good preservation. Both apartments, but particularly the large one,
are said to have a magical effect when lighted up with tapers.

I spent a Sunday in Palermo, and was much pleased at seeing the
peasants in their festive garb, in which, however, I could discover
nothing handsome; nor, indeed, any thing peculiar, save the long
pendent nightcaps. The men wear jackets and breeches, and have the
before-mentioned caps on their heads; the dress of the women is a
spencer, a petticoat, and a kerchief of white or coloured linen
round the head and neck.

The common people appeared to be neither cleanly nor wealthy. The
rich are dressed according to the fashions of London, Paris, and
Vienna.

In all the Sicilian towns I found the mob more boisterous and
impudent than in the East, and frequently it was my lot to witness
most diabolical quarrels and fights. It is necessary to be much
more on one's guard against theft and roguery among these people
than among the Arabs and Bedouins. Now I acknowledge how falsely I
had judged the poor denizens of the East when I took them for the
most thievish of tribes. The people here and at Naples were far

Book of the day: