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

Notes of an Overland Journey Through France and Egypt to Bombay by Miss Emma Roberts

Part 2 out of 4

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.5 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.

performing at the time of our entrance, and seating ourselves in one
of the side chapels until it should be over, we were at its conclusion
accosted by a priest, who, finding that we did not speak Italian, sent
another person to show the beauties of the church. Some Maltese ladies
greeted us very courteously, and though, perhaps, we would rather have
wandered about alone, indulging in our own recollections of the past,
we could not help being pleased with the attentions which were paid

Upon returning to our inn, we met a gentleman with whom we were
slightly acquainted, who, upon learning that I had a letter to Sir
Henry Bouverie, the governor, recommended me to deliver it in person,
the palace being close at hand. Our party met with a very courteous
reception, and we were happy in the opportunity thus afforded of
seeing the palace, which showed remains of former grandeur far
more interesting than any modern improvements could have been. One
apartment, in particular, hung round with tapestry, which, though
brought from France 135 years ago, retains all the brilliancy of its
original colouring, pleased us exceedingly.

There are some good paintings upon the walls; but the armoury is the
most attractive feature in the palace. It consists of one splendid
apartment, running the whole length of the building, and makes a very
imposing appearance; the arms of various periods being well arranged.
The collection of ancient weapons was not so great as I had expected;
still there were very interesting specimens, and an intelligent
corporal, belonging to one of the Queen's regiments, who acted as
_Cicerone_, gave us all the information we could require.

Some of our party had the curiosity to visit the cemetery of the
Capuchin convent, in which the monks who die, after having undergone
a preserving process, are dressed in the habit of the order, and
fastened up in niches; when the skeletons, from extreme age, actually
fall to pieces, the skulls and bones are formed into funeral trophies
for the decoration of the walls; and the whole is described as a most
revolting and barbarous spectacle. The last occupant was said to have
departed this life as late as 1835, adding, by the comparative newness
of his inhumation, to the horrors of the scene.

The influence of the priesthood, though still very great, is
represented to be upon the decline; they have lately, however,
shown their power, by retarding the progress of the building of the
Protestant church, to which the Dowager Queen Adelaide so munificently
subscribed. All the workmen employed are obliged to have dispensations
from the Pope, and every pretext is eagerly seized upon to delay the
erection of the edifice. At present, the Protestant community, with
few exceptions, are content to have service performed in an angle of
the court-yard of the palace, formerly a cellar and kitchen, but now
converted into an episcopal chapel and vestry-room. The members of
the society have a small chapel, not adequate to the accommodation of
those who desire to attend it, belonging to the Methodist persuasion;
but its minister is afraid to encounter the difficulties and delays
which would be consequent upon an attempt to enlarge it. There is a
public library adjoining the palace, originally formed by the knights,
but considered now to be more extensive than valuable.

The period which I spent upon the island was too brief to allow me to
make any inquiries respecting its institutions, the novelties of
the scene engaging my attention so completely, that I could give no
thought to anything else. The shops and _cafes_ of La Valetta have a
very gay appearance, and the ingenuity of the inhabitants is displayed
in several manufactures; the black lace mittens, now so fashionable,
being particularly well made. Table-linen, also of superior quality,
may be purchased, wrought in elegant patterns, and, if bespoken, with
the coat-of-arms or crest worked into the centre or the corners. In
the fashioning of the precious metals, the Maltese likewise excel,
their filagree-work, both in gold and silver, being very beautiful:
the Maltese chains have long enjoyed a reputation in Europe, and other
ornaments may be purchased of equal excellence.

To the eye of a stranger, Malta, at this period of the year (the end
of September), seems bare and destitute of verdure; yet, from the
quantity of every kind of vegetables brought to market, it must be
amazingly productive. The growth of cotton, lately introduced into
Egypt, has been injurious to the trade and manufactures of Malta, and
the attempt to supply its place with silk failed. In the opinion of
some persons, the experiment made had not a fair trial. The mulberry
trees flourished, and the silk produced was of an excellent quality;
but the worms did not thrive, and in consequence the design was
abandoned. Inquiry has shown, that the leaves from old trees are
essential to the existence of the silk-worm, and that, had the
projectors of the scheme been aware of a fact so necessary to be
known, they would have awaited the result of a few more years, which
seems all that was necessary for the success of the undertaking.
How many goodly schemes have been ruined from the want of scientific
knowledge upon the part of their projectors, and how frequently it
happens that a moment of impatience will destroy the hopes of years!

Fruit is cheap, plentiful, and excellent at Malta, the figs and grapes
being of very superior quality, while the island affords materials for
the most luxurious table. The golden mullet and the _Becca fica_ are
abundant; and all the articles brought to market are procurable at
low prices. I can scarcely imagine a more agreeable place to spend a
winter in, and I promise myself much gratification in the sojourn of
a few weeks at this delightful island upon my return to England. I can
very strongly recommend Durnsford's Hotel as a place of residence, the
accommodation being excellent and the terms moderate. In remaining any
time, arrangement may be made for apartments and board, by which means
the rate of living is much cheaper, while the style is equally good.

There is an opera at Malta, in which performances of various degrees
of mediocrity are given. The gay period to a stranger is that of the
carnival; but, at other times, the festivals of the church, celebrated
in this isolated place with more of the mummeries of Roman Catholicism
than obtain in many other countries professing the same faith, afford
amusement to the lovers of the grotesque.

Though the thermometer at Malta seldom rises to 90 deg., yet the heat in
the sultry season is very great. Every person, who is in the habit of
studying the glass, becomes aware of the difference between the heat
that is actually felt and that which is indicated by instruments; and
in no place is this discrepancy more sensibly experienced than Malta,
in which the state of the winds materially affects the comfort of the
inhabitants. A good authority assures us, that "the heat of Malta
is most oppressive, so much so, as to justify the term 'implacable,'
which is often applied to it. The sun, in summer, remains so long
above the horizon, and the stone walls absorb such an enormous
quantity of heat, that they never have sufficient time to get
cool; and during the short nights, this heat radiates from them so
copiously, as to render the nights, in fact, as hot as the days, and
much more oppressive to the feelings of those who are accustomed
to associate the idea of coolness with darkness. I have seen the
thermometer, in a very sheltered part of my house, steadily maintain,
during the night, the same height to which it had arisen in the day,
while I marked it with feelings of incalculably increased oppression,
and this for three successive weeks in August and September, 1822."

At Malta, we were recommended, in consequence of the unsettled state
of affairs between Mehemet Ali and the European powers, to proceed
forthwith to Egypt, and though strongly tempted to prolong my stay in
the island, I thought it advisable to make the best of my way to the
Red Sea, and defer the pleasure, which a more protracted residence
promised, until my return in the ensuing year. Lieut. Goldsmith, our
kind commandant of the _Megara_, called upon us, according to promise,
to conduct us on board the new steamer, the _Volcano_, the vessel
appointed to carry the mails on to Alexandria. This ship was in
quarantine, and it was consequently necessary to take some precautions
in going on board. We proceeded, in the first instance, to a police
station, where we took a second boat in tow, and a _guadiano_, an
official appointed to see that no persons transgress the rules and
regulations of the port instituted for the preservation of health.

Upon getting alongside of the _Volcano_, our baggage was placed in
this boat; Miss E. and myself were then handed in, and cast adrift, to
my great astonishment; for not having had any previous intimation of
the method to be pursued, I was not at all prepared to hold on, as I
believe it is called, without assistance. Miss E., however, who was
more observant, hooked her parasol into one of the ropes, which
she subsequently caught. We were now to be taught a new lesson--the
extreme nonchalance with which the officers of a Government steamer
treat the passengers who have the misfortune to choose these boats
instead of making the voyage on board merchant vessels. Some minutes
elapsed before any notice was taken of us, or any assistance afforded
in getting up our baggage; our own people being obliged to look on
and do nothing, since, had they touched the ship, they would have been
obliged to perform eighteen days of quarantine.

Upon reaching the deck, we requested that our baggage might be taken
down into the ladies' cabin, in order that we might get our small
dormitories put to rights before the rest of the passengers came on
board; but, though it could have made no earthly difference to the
people employed, we met with a refusal, and the whole was deposited in
the grand saloon, already encumbered with luggage, every quarter of an
hour adding to the heap and the confusion, and the difficulty of each
person recognizing the identical carpet-bag or portmanteau that he
might claim as his property.[A]

Among our new fellow-passengers there was a young English gentleman,
who intended to travel into Syria, and who, though looking scarcely
twenty, had already spent some years in foreign countries. He was very
modest and unassuming, and both agreeable and intelligent; and, having
had a good deal of conversation together, I was sorry to lose sight of
him at Alexandria.

We had also one of Mehemet Ali's _proteges_ on board, a young
Egyptian, who had been educated at the Pasha's expense in England,
where he had resided for the last ten years, latterly in the
neighbourhood of a dock-yard, in order to study the art of
ship-building. This young man was a favourite with those persons on
board who could make allowances for the circumstances in which he had
been placed, and who did not expect acquirements which it was almost
impossible for him to attain. His natural abilities were very good,
and he had cultivated them to the utmost of his power. Strongly
attached to European customs, manners, and institutions, he will lose
no opportunity of improving the condition of his countrymen, or of
inducing them to discard those prejudices which retard the progress
of civilization. He was naturally very anxious concerning his future
destiny, for the Pasha's favour is not always to be depended upon,
while the salary of many of the appointments which he does bestow is
by no means adequate to the support of men whom his liberality has
enabled to live in great respectability and comfort in England. Our
new acquaintance also felt that, in returning to his friends and
relatives, he should shock all their prejudices by his entire
abandonment of those customs and opinions by which they were still
guided; he grieved especially at the distress which he should cause
his mother, and determined not to enter into her presence until he had
assumed the national dress, and could appear, outwardly at least, like
an Egyptian.

The weather, during our short voyage, was remarkably favourable,
although it got rather too warm, especially at night, for comfort.
There are, however, great alleviations to heat in the Mediterranean
steamers. The ladies can have a wind-sail in their cabin, which,
together with the air from the stern windows, renders the temperature
at all times very delightful. They enjoy another advantage in having
a light burning all night, a comfort which cannot be too highly
appreciated, since darkness on board ship increases every other

We left Malta on the evening of the 25th, and arrived at Alexandria
early in the morning of the 30th. Every eye was strained to catch the
first view of the Egyptian coast, and especially of the Pharos, which
in ancient time directed the mariners to its shores; but the great
object of attraction at this period consisted of the united fleets,
Turkish and Egyptian, which rode at anchor in the port. Our steamer
threaded its way amid these fine-looking vessels, some of which we
passed so closely, as to be able to look into the cabin-windows. To
my unprofessional eye, these ships looked quite as efficient as any
warlike armament of the same nature that I had yet seen. They all
appeared to be well kept, and in good order, while the sailors were
clean, neatly dressed, and actively engaged, some in boats, and others
performing various duties. Though steamers are now very common sights,
we in turn attracted attention, all eyes being directed to our deck.

Our Egyptian fellow-passenger was especially interested and agitated
at his approach to his native shore, and the evidences which he saw
before him of the power and political influence of the Pasha. From a
gentleman who came on board, we learned that an apprehension had
been entertained at Alexandria of the arrival of a hostile fleet from
Europe, in which event a collision would in all probability have
taken place. Mehemet Ali, it was said, was so foolishly elated by
his successes, and by the attitude he had assumed, as to be perfectly
unaware of his true position, and of the lesson which he would
receive, should he persist in defying the remonstrances of his
European allies. It was also said, that nothing but the favour
shown by the French cabinet to the Pasha had hitherto prevented the
commencement of hostilities, since the British Government, taking the
view of its representative at Constantinople, felt strongly inclined
to proceed to extremities. I merely, of course, state the rumour that
prevailed; whether they carried the slightest authority or not, I do
not pretend to determine.

Alexandria, from the sea, presents a very imposing appearance; long
lines of handsome buildings, apparently of white stone, relieved by
green Venetian blinds, afford evidence of increasing prosperity, and
a wish to imitate the style of European cities. There is nothing,
however, in the landing-place worthy of the approach to a place of
importance; a confused crowd of camels, donkeys, and their drivers,
congregated amidst heaps of rubbish, awaited us upon reaching the
shore. We had been told that we should be almost torn to pieces by
this rabble, in their eagerness to induce us to engage the services of
themselves or their animals. Accustomed as we had been to the attacks
of French waiters, we were astonished by the indifference of the
people, who very contentedly permitted us to walk to the place of our

The lady-passengers, who arrived in the steamer, agreed to prosecute
the remainder of the journey in company; our party, therefore,
consisted of four, with two servants, and a baby; the latter a
beautiful little creature, of seven months old, the pet and delight of
us all. This darling never cried, excepting when she was hungry, and
she would eat any thing, and go to any body. One of the servants
who attended upon her was a Mohammedan native of India, an excellent
person, much attached to his little charge; and we were altogether a
very agreeable party, quite ready to enjoy all the pleasures, and to
encounter all the difficulties, which might come in our way.

Having formed my expectations of Alexandria from books of travels,
which describe it as one of the most wretched places imaginable, I was
agreeably disappointed by the reality. My own experience of
Mohammedan cities had taught me to anticipate much more of squalor and
dilapidation than I saw; though I confess, that both were sufficiently
developed to strike an European eye. We wended our way through
avenues ancle-deep in sand, and flanked on either side with various
descriptions of native houses, some mere sheds, and others of more
lofty and solid construction. We encountered in our progress several
native parties belonging to the respectable classes; and one lady,
very handsomely dressed, threw aside her outer covering, a dark silk
robe, somewhat resembling a domino, and removing her veil, allowed us
to see her dress and ornaments, which were very handsome. She was
a fine-looking woman, with a very good-natured expression of

[Footnote A: The author followed up these remarks with others, still
more severe, upon the treatment which she and her fellow-travellers
experienced on board this vessel; but as these remarks seem to have
caused pain, and as Miss Roberts, without retracting one particle of
her statements, regretted that she had published them, it has been
deemed right to omit them in this work.]


* * * * *


* * * * *

Description of Alexandria--Hotels--Houses--Streets--Frank
Shops--Cafes--Equipages--Arrangements for the Journey to
Suez--Pompey's Pillar--Turkish and Arab Burial-grounds--Preparations
for the Journey to Cairo--Embarkation on the Canal--Bad accommodation
in the Boat--Banks of the Canal--Varieties of Costume in
Egypt--Collision during the night--Atfee--Its wretched appearance--The
Pasha--Exchange of Boats--Disappointment at the Nile--Scarcity of
Trees--Manners of the Boatmen--Aspect of the Villages--The Marquess
of Waterford--The Mughreebee Magician--First sight of the
Pyramids--Arrival at Boulak, the Port of Cairo.

There are several excellent hotels at Alexandria for the accommodation
of European travellers. We were recommended to Rey's, in which we
found every comfort we could desire. The house is large and handsome,
and well situated, being at the end of a wide street, or rather
_place_, in which the more wealthy of the Frank inhabitants reside,
and where there are several houses belonging to the consuls of
various nations. These latter are usually detached mansions, of a
very handsome description, and one especially, facing the top, will be
magnificent when finished.

All the houses in this quarter are very solidly constructed, lofty,
and with flat roofs. The ground-floor seems to be appropriated to
merchandize, or as domestic offices, the habitable apartments being
above. The windows are supplied with outside Venetian blinds, usually
painted green, which, together with the pure white of the walls, gives
them a fresh and new appearance, which I had not expected to see. In
fact, nothing could exceed the surprise with which I viewed a street
that would have excited admiration in many of our European capitals.
It will in a short time be embellished by a fountain, which was
erecting at the period of my visit: could the residents get trees
to grow, nothing more would be wanting to render it one of the
most superb avenues of the kind extant; but, a few inches below the
surface, the earth at Alexandria is so completely impregnated
with briny particles, as to render the progress of vegetation very
difficult at all times, and in some places impossible.

This portion of the city is quite modern; near it there is a more
singular and more ancient series of buildings, called the _Okella_;
a word, I believe, derived from _castle_. This consists of one large
quadrangle, or square, entered by gateways at different sides. A
terrace, approached by flights of steps, extends all round, forming
a broad colonnade, supported upon arches. The houses belonging to the
Franks open upon this terrace; they are large and commodious, but the
look-out does not equal that from the newer quarter; the quadrangle
below exhibiting any thing rather than neatness or order. Goods and
utensils of various kinds, donkeys, camels, and horses, give it the
appearance of the court of a native serai, though at the same time
it may be said to be quite as well kept as many places of a similar
description upon the continent of Europe. The Frank shopkeepers have
their establishments in a narrower avenue at the end of the wide
street before-mentioned. Here are several _cafes_, apparently for the
accommodation of persons to whom the hotels might be too expensive;
some of these are handsomely fitted up in their way: one, especially,
being panelled with shewy French paper, in imitation of the Gobelins
tapestry. I was not sufficiently near to discern the subject, but
when lighted, the colours and figures produced a very gay effect.
I observed a considerable number of druggists' shops; they were
generally entirely open in front, so that the whole economy of the
interior was revealed to view. The arrangements were very neat; the
various articles for sale being disposed upon shelves all round.
We did not make any purchases either here or in the Turkish bazaar,
which, both morning and evening, was crowded with people. Several very
good houses in the European style were pointed out to us as belonging
to Turkish gentlemen, high in office and in the receipt of large

We had ordered dinner at seven o'clock, for the purpose of taking
advantage of the cool part of the day to walk about. We confined our
peregrinations to the Frank quarter and its immediate neighbourhood,
and were amused by the singular figures of other European pedestrians
whom we met with, but whose peculiar country it was difficult to
discover by their dress. Several gentlemen made their appearance on
horseback, but we did not see any females of the superior class. Two
English carriages, filled with Turkish grandees, dashed along with
the recklessness which usually distinguishes native driving; and other
magnates of the land, mounted upon splendid chargers, came forth in
all the pride of Oriental pomp. Having sufficiently fatigued ourselves
with walking ancle-deep in dust and sand, we returned to our hotel,
where we found an excellent dinner, which, among other good things,
comprehended a dish of Beccaficos.

As I had not intended to reach Alexandria so soon, neither Miss E.
nor myself had given notice of our approach; consequently, there was
nothing in readiness. We had, notwithstanding, hoped to have found
a boat prepared, a friend in London having promised to mention the
possibility of our being in Egypt with the mails that left Marseilles
on the 21st; but this precaution had been neglected, and the
gentleman, who would have provided us with the best vessel procurable,
was too busy with duties which the arrival of the steamer entailed
upon him to do more than express his regret that he could not devote
his whole attention to our comfort. In this emergency, we applied to
Mr. Waghorn, who, in the expectation that I might wish to remain at
Alexandria, had most kindly prepared an apartment for my reception
at his own house. The aspect of affairs, however, did not admit of
my running any risks, and I therefore determined to proceed to Suez
without delay. Under these circumstances, he did the best that the
nature of the case permitted; assured me that I should have his own
boat, which, though small, was perfectly clean, when we got to the
Nile, and provided me with all that I required for the passage. Mrs.
Waghorn also recommended a servant, whose appearance we liked, and
whom we instantly engaged for the trip to Suez.

I had brought letters to the consul-general, and to several residents
in Alexandria, who immediately paid me visits at our hotel. Colonel
Campbell was most particularly kind and attentive, offering one of the
government janissaries as an escort to Cairo; an offer which we most
readily accepted, and which proved of infinite service to us. We had
no trouble whatever about our baggage; we left it on board, under the
care of the trusty black servant. One of the officers of the ship, who
had distinguished himself during the voyage by his polite attention to
the passengers, had come on shore with us; he sent to the vessel for
our goods and chattels, took our keys and the janissary with him to
the custom-house, and we had speedily the pleasure of seeing them come
upon a camel to the door of the hotel, the fees charged, and the hire
of the animal, being very trifling. There was a large apartment on one
side of the gateway, in which those boxes which we did not desire to
open were deposited, the door being secured by a good lock; in fact,
nothing could be better than the whole arrangements of the hotel. It
was agreed that as little time as possible should be lost in getting
to Suez, and we therefore determined to prosecute our journey as early
in the afternoon of the next day as we could get every thing ready.
Donkeys were to be in waiting at daylight, to convey the party to
Pompey's Pillar, and we retired to rest, overcome by the fatigue and
excitement we had undergone. It was sufficiently warm to render it
pleasant to have some of the windows open; and once or twice in the
night we were awakened by the furious barking of the houseless and
ownerless dogs, which are to be found in great numbers throughout
Egypt. In the day-time the prevailing sound at Alexandria is the
braying of donkeys, diversified by the grunts and moans of the almost
equally numerous camels.

Engravings have made every inquiring person well acquainted with the
celebrated monument which goes by the name of "Pompey's Pillar," and
the feelings with which we gazed upon it are much more easily imagined
than described. It has the advantage of standing upon a rather
considerable elevation, a ridge of sand, and below it are strewed vast
numbers of more humble memorials of the dead. The Turkish and the Arab
burial-grounds spread themselves at the feet of the Pillar: each
grave is distinguished by a mound of earth and a stone. The piety of
surviving relatives has, in some places, forced the stubborn sand
to yield proofs of their affectionate remembrance of the deceased;
occasionally, we see some single green plant struggling to shadow
the last resting-place of one who slept below; and if any thing were
wanting to add to the melancholy of the scene, it would have been the
stunted and withering leaves thus mournfully enshrouding the silent
dead. There is something so unnatural in the conjunction of a scanty
vegetation with a soil cursed with hopeless aridity, that the gardens
and few green spots, occurring in the neighbourhood of Alexandria,
detract from, instead of embellishing, the scene. Though pleasant
and beautiful as retreats to those who can command an entrance, these
circumscribed patches of verdure offend rather than please the eye,
when viewed from a distance.

The antiquities of Egypt have been too deeply studied by the erudite
of all Christian countries, for an unlearned traveller to entertain
a hope of being able to throw any additional light upon them. Modern
tourists must, therefore, be content with the feelings which they
excite, and to look, to the present state of things for subjects of
any promise of interest to the readers of their journals.

After breakfast, we received a visit from the Egyptian gentleman who
had been our fellow-passenger. He brought with him a friend, who, like
himself, had been educated in England, and who had obtained a good
appointment, together with the rank of a field officer, from the
Pasha. The manners of the gentleman were good; modest, but not shy.
He spoke excellent English, and conversed very happily upon all
the subjects broached. Our friend was still in doubt and anxiety
respecting his own destination. Mehemet Ali had left Alexandria for
one of his country residences, on the plea of requiring change of air;
but, in reality, it was said, to avoid the remonstrances of those who
advocated a policy foreign to his wishes. The new arrival could not
present himself to the minister until he should be equipped in an
Egyptian dress. The friend who accompanied him gave us the pleasing
intelligence, that a large handsome boat, with ladies' cabin detached,
and capable of carrying forty passengers, had been built by the
merchants of Alexandria, and when completed--and it only wanted
painting and fitting up--would convey travellers up the canal to
Atfee, a distance which, towed by horses, it would perform in twelve
hours. Small iron steamers were expected from England, to ply upon the
Nile, and with these accommodations, nothing would be more easy and
pleasant than a journey which sometimes takes many days to accomplish,
and which is frequently attended with inconvenience and difficulty.

We found that Mrs. Waghorn had provided Miss E. and myself with beds,
consisting each of a good mattress stuffed with cotton, a pillow of
the same, and a quilted coverlet, also stuffed with cotton. She lent
us a very handsome canteen; for the party being obliged to separate,
in consequence of the small accommodation afforded in the boats, we
could not avail ourselves of that provided by the other ladies with
whom we were to travel, until we should all meet again upon the
desert. As there may be a danger of not meeting with a canteen,
exactly suited to the wants of the traveller, for sale at Alexandria,
it is advisable to procure one previously to leaving Europe; those
fitted up with tin saucepans are necessary, for it is not easy
to carry cooking apparatus in any other form. We did not encumber
ourselves with either chair or table, but would afterwards have
been glad of a couple of camp-stools. Our supplies consisted of tea,
coffee, wine, wax-candles (employing a good glass lanthorn for a
candlestick), fowls, bread, fruit, milk, eggs, and butter; a pair of
fowls and a piece of beef being ready-roasted for the first meal. We
also carried with us some bottles of filtered water. The baggage of
the party was conveyed upon three camels and a donkey, and we formed a
curious-looking cavalcade as we left the hotel.

In the first place, the native Indian servant bestrode a donkey,
carrying at the same time our beautiful baby in his arms, who wore a
pink silk bonnet, and had a parasol over her head. All the assistance
he required from others was to urge on his beast, and by the
application of sundry whacks and thumps, he soon got a-head. The
ladies, in coloured muslin dresses, and black silk shawls, rode in
a cluster, attended by the janissary, and two Arab servants also on
donkey-back; a gentleman, who volunteered his escort, and the owners
of the donkeys, who walked by our sides. As I had never rode any
animal, excepting an elephant, until I landed at Alexandria, I did not
feel perfectly at home on the back of a donkey, and therefore desired
Mohammed, our new servant, to give directions to my attendant to
take especial care of me. These injunctions he obeyed to the letter,
keeping close at my side, and at every rough piece of road putting
one hand on the donkey and the other in front of my waist. I could
not help shrinking from such close contact with a class of persons not
remarkable for cleanliness, either of garment or of skin; but the poor
fellow meant well, and as I had really some occasion for his services,
and his appearance was respectable, I thought it no time to be
fastidious, and could not help laughing at the ridiculous figure I

We passed some fine buildings and baths; the latter very tempting in
their external appearance, and, according to general repute, excellent
of their kind. When we came to the gate of the wall of Alexandria, we
encountered a funeral procession returning from the cemetery close to
Pompey's Pillar. They were a large party, accompanied by many women,
who, notwithstanding their grief, stopped to gratify their curiosity,
by a minute inspection of our strange persons, and still stranger
garb. We were all huddled together in the gateway, which, the walls
being thick, took a few minutes to pass through, and thus had an
opportunity of a very close examination of each other; the veils of
the women, however, prevented us from scanning their countenances very
distinctly; and as we passed on, we encountered a herd of buffaloes,
animals quite new to Miss E., who had never seen one even as a
zoological specimen. We passed the base of Pompey's Pillar, and
through the burying-grounds; and in another quarter of an hour came
to the banks of the canal, and got on board the boat, which had been
engaged to take us to Atfee.

In the whole course of my travels, I had never seen any thing so
forlorn and uncomfortable as this boat. The accommodation destined for
us consisted of two cabins, or rather cribs, opening into each other,
and so low in the roof as not to permit a full-grown person to stand
upright in either. Some attempt had been formerly made at painting and
carving, but dirt was now the predominant feature, while the holes and
crannies on every side promised free egress to the vermin, apparently
long tenants of the place. Although certain of remaining the night
upon the canal, we would not suffer our beds to be unpacked; but,
seating ourselves upon our boxes, took up a position near the door, in
order to see as much as possible of the prospect.

The banks of the canal are very luxuriant; but, lying low, are
infested with insects of various kinds; musquitoes came on board
in clouds, and the flies were, if possible, more tormenting; it is,
therefore, very desirable to get out of this channel as speedily as
possible. We saw the vessel, a fine, large, handsome boat, which
had been mentioned to us as building for the purpose of conveying
passengers to Atfee; consequently, should the political questions now
agitating be amicably settled, and Egypt still continue to be a
high road for travellers to India, the inconveniences of which I now
complain will soon cease to exist.

We passed some handsome houses, built after the European fashion, one
of which we were told belonged to the Pasha's daughter, the wife of
the dufturdar; it was surrounded by gardens, but had nothing very
imposing in its appearance. We came also upon an encampment of the
Pasha's troops, which consisted of numerous small round tents, huddled
together, without the order displayed by an European army. The men
themselves, though report speaks well of their discipline, had not the
soldierlike look which I had seen and admired in the native troops
of India. The impossibility of keeping their white garments clean, in
such a country as Egypt, is very disadvantageous to their appearance,
and it is unfortunate that something better adapted to withstand
the effects of dust should not have been chosen. The janissary who
accompanied us, and who was clothed in red, had a much more military
air. He was a fine-looking fellow, tall, and well-made; and his dress,
which was very becoming, was formed of fine materials. Our servant
Mohammed had also a pleasing countenance, full of vivacity and good
humour, which we found the general characteristics of the people of
Egypt, especially those immediately above the lower class, and who
enjoyed any degree of comfort.

There are several varieties of costume worn in Egypt, some consisting
of long gowns or vests worn over the long trowser. The military dress,
which was that worn by the janissary and our servant, is both graceful
and becoming. It is rather difficult to describe the nether garment,
which is wide to the knee, and very full and flowing behind; added to
this, the janissary wore a light pantaloon, descending to the ancle;
but Mohammed, excepting when he encased them in European stockings,
had his legs bare: the waistcoat and jacket fit tight to the shape,
and are of a tasteful cut, and together with a sash and the crimson
cap with a dark blue tassel, almost universal, form a picturesque and
handsome dress. That worn by our servant was made of fine blue
stuff, embroidered, or rather braided, at the edges; and this kind
of ornament is so general, that even some of the poorest fellahs, who
possess but one coarse canvas shirt, will have that garnished with
braiding in some scroll-pattern.

There was not much to be seen on the banks of the Mahmoudie: here and
there, a priest at his devotions at the water-side, or a few miserable
cottages, diversified the scene. We encountered, however, numerous
boats; and so great was the carelessness of the navigators, that we
had considerable difficulty in preventing a collision, which, but for
the good look-out kept by the janissary, must have happened more
than once. Whenever the breeze permitted, we hoisted a sail; at other
times, the boatmen dragged the boat along; and in this manner we
continued our voyage all night. We regretted much the absence of
moonlight, since, the moment the day closed, all our amusement was at
an end. Cock-roaches, as large as the top of a wine-glass, made
their appearance; we heard the rats squeaking around, and found the
musquitoes more desperate in their attacks than ever. The flies with
one accord went to sleep, settling in such immense numbers on the
ceiling immediately over my head, that I felt tempted to look for a
lucifer-match, and put them all to death. The expectation, however,
of leaving the boat early the next morning, deterred me from this
wholesale slaughter; but I had no mercy on the musquitoes, as,
attracted by the light, they settled on the glasses of the lanthorn.

It was a long and dismal night, the only accident that occurred
being a concussion, which sent Miss E. and myself flying from our
portmanteaus. We had run foul of another boat, or rather all the
shouting of the Arab lungs on board our vessel had failed to arouse
the sleepers in the craft coming down. At length, the day dawned,
and we tried, by copious ablution and a change of dress, to refresh
ourselves after our sleepless night.

Finding that we wanted milk for breakfast, we put a little boy, one of
the crew, on shore, in order to procure some at a village; meanwhile,
a breeze sprung up, and we went on at so quick a rate, that we thought
we must have left him behind. Presently, however, we saw the poor
fellow running as fast as possible, but still careful of his pannikin;
and after a time we got him on board. In accomplishing this, the boy
was completely ducked; but whether he was otherwise hurt, or
this catastrophe occurring when out of breath or fatigued with
over-exertion, I do not know; but he began to cry in a more piteous
manner than could be justified by the cause alleged, namely, the
wetting of his only garment, an old piece of sacking. I directed
Mohammed to reward his services with a piastre, a small silver coin
of the value of 2-1/2d.; and never, perhaps, did so trifling a sum
of money produce so great an effect. In one moment, the cries
were hushed, the tears dried, and in the contemplation of his
newly-acquired riches, he lost the recollection of all his troubles.

It was nearly twelve o'clock in the day before we reached Atfee; and
with all my previous experience of the wretched places inhabited by
human beings, I was surprised by the desolation of the village at
the head of the canal. The houses, if such they might be called, were
huddled upon the side of a cliff; their mud walls, covered on the top
with a few reeds or a little straw, looking like the cliff itself. A
few irregular holes served for doors and windows; but more uncouth,
miserable hovels could not have been seen amongst the wildest savages.
Some of these places I perceived had a small court-yard attached, the
hut being at the end, and only distinguishable by a poor attempt at a
roof, the greater part of which had fallen in.

We were here obliged to leave our boat; landing on the opposite side
to this village, and walking a short distance, we found ourselves
upon the banks of the Nile. The place was in great confusion, in
consequence of the actual presence of the Pasha, who, for himself
and suite, we were told, had engaged every boat excepting the one
belonging to Mr. Waghorn, in which the mails, entrusted to him, had
been put. As it was impossible that four ladies, for our friends had
now joined us, with their European female servant and the baby, could
be accommodated in this small vessel, we despatched our janissary,
with a letter in the Turkish language to the governor of Atfee, with
which we had been provided at Alexandria, and we were immediately
politely informed that the best boat attainable should be at our

The Pasha had taken up his quarters at a very mean-looking house, and
he soon afterwards made his appearance in front of it. Those who
had not become acquainted with his person by portraits, or other
descriptions, were disappointed at seeing a common-looking man, short
in stature, and very plainly clad, having formed a very different idea
of the sovereign of Egypt. Not having any proper introductions, and
knowing that the Pasha makes a great favour of granting an audience to
European ladies, we made no attempt to address him; thus sacrificing
our curiosity to our sense of decorum. There was of course a great
crowd round the Pasha, and we embarked for the purpose of surveying it
to greater advantage.

Our boat was moored in front of a narrow strip of ground between the
river and a large dilapidated mansion, having, however, glass windows
in it, which bore the ostentatious title of _Hotel du Mahmoudie._
This circumscribed space was crowded with camels and their drivers;
great men and their retainers passing to and fro; market people
endeavouring to sell their various commodities, together with a
multitudinous collection of men, dogs, and donkeys. I observed that
all the people surveyed the baby as she was carried through them, in
her native servant's arms, with peculiar benignity. She was certainly
a beautiful specimen of an English infant, and in her pretty white
frock, lace cap, and drawn pink silk bonnet, would have attracted
attention anywhere; such an apparition the people now assembled
at Atfee had probably never seen before, and they were evidently
delighted to look at her. She was equally pleased, crowing and
spreading out her little arms to all who approached her.

The smallness of the boat rendered it necessary that I should open
one of my portmanteaus, and take out a supply of clothes before it was
sent away; while thus occupied, I found myself overlooked by two or
three respectably-clad women, who were in a boat, with several men,
alongside. I did not, of course, understand what they said, but by
their gestures guessed that they were asking for some of the strange
things which they saw. I had nothing that I could well spare, or that
I thought would be useful to them, excepting a paper of needles, which
I put into one of their hands, through the window of the cabin. The
envelope being flourished over with gold, they at first thought that
there was nothing more to be seen, but being directed by signs to
open it, they were in ecstasy at the sight of the needles, which they
proceeded forthwith to divide.

We now pushed off, and found that, in the narrow limits to which we
were confined, we must only retain our carpet-bags and dressing-cases.
The small cabin which occupies the stern was surrounded on three sides
with lockers, which formed seats, but which were too narrow to hold
our beds; moveable planks, of different dimensions, to suit the shape
of the boat, fitted in, making the whole flush when requisite, and
forming a space amply wide enough for our mattresses, but in which
we could not stand upright. To our great joy, we found the whole
extremely clean, and in perfect repair, so that we could easily submit
to the minor evils that presented themselves.

We had found Mohammed very active, attentive, and ready in the
departments in which we had hitherto employed him, but we were
now about to put his culinary abilities to the test. He spoke very
tolerable English, but surprised us a little by inquiring whether we
should like an Irish stew for dinner. A fowl was killed and picked in
a trice, and Mohammed had all his own way, excepting with regard to
the onions, which were, in his opinion, woefully restricted. A fowl
stewed with butter and potatoes, and garnished with boiled eggs, is
no bad thing, especially when followed by a dessert of fresh dates,
grapes, and pomegranates. A clerk of Mr. Waghorn's, an European, who
had the charge of the mails, went up in the boat with us; but as we
could not possibly afford him any accommodation in our cabin, his
situation at the prow must have been very uncomfortable. He was
attended by a servant; there were ten or twelve boatmen, which,
together with Mohammed and the janissary, completely crowded the deck,
so that it was impossible for them all to lie down at full length.

I have not said a word about the far-famed river, which I had so long
and so anxiously desired to see; the late inundations had filled it
to the brim, consequently it could not have been viewed at a more
favourable period; but I was dreadfully disappointed. In a flat
country, like Lower Egypt, I had not expected any thing beyond
luxuriance of vegetation; but my imagination had been excited by ideas
of groves of palms. I found the date trees so thinly scattered, as to
be quite insignificant as a feature in the scene, and except when we
came to a village, there were no other.

The wind being strong, we got on at first at a rapid rate, and as we
carried a press of sail, the boat lay over completely, as to put the
gunwale (as I believe it is called) in the water. We looked eagerly
out, pleased when we saw some illustration of old customs with which
the Bible had made us acquainted, or when the janissary, who was
an intelligent person, pointed to a Bedouin on the banks. Miss E.
flattered herself that she had caught sight of a crocodile, and as she
described the huge jaws of some creature gaping out of the water,
I thought that she was right, and envied her good fortune: however,
afterwards, being assured that crocodiles never make their appearance
below Cairo, I was convinced that, unaccustomed to see animals
belonging to the Bovine group in a foreign element, she had taken
the head of a buffalo emerging from the river, for one of the classic
monsters of the flood. When weary of looking out, without seeing any
thing but sky and water, and a few palm trees, I amused myself with
reading Wordsworth, and thus the day passed away.

When evening came, we seated ourselves in front of the cabin, outside,
to enjoy the sunset, and after our loss of rest on the preceding
night, slept very comfortably. The next morning at noon, we had
accomplished half the distance to Cairo, having some time passed every
boat we saw upon the river. Arriving at a village, Mr. Waghorn's agent
determined upon going on shore, and carrying the mails on the backs of
donkeys, in order to ensure their arrival at Suez time enough to
meet the steamer. He had been assured that we had passed the boat
containing the Government mails in the night, but had not been able to
ascertain the fact himself. I think it necessary to mention this, as
a proof of the indefatigable endeavours made by Mr. Waghorn to ensure
the speediest method of transit.

As the people had worked very hard, we directed Mohammed to purchase
some meat for them in the bazaar, in order that they might indulge in
a good meal; we also took the opportunity of purchasing a supply of
eggs, fowls, and fruit, lest we should fall short before we reached
Cairo. The fowls were so small, that, having our appetites sharpened
by the fresh air of the river, we could easily manage one between us
for breakfast, and another at dinner. We did not make trial of the
unfiltered waters of the Nile, not drinking it until it had deposited
its mud. Though previously informed that no beverage could be
more delightful than that afforded by this queen of rivers in its
unsophisticated state, I did not feel at all tempted to indulge; but
am quite ready to do justice to its excellence when purified from the
grosser element.

We were much pleased with the alacrity and good humour of our boatmen,
and the untiring manner in which they performed their laborious
duties. When a favouring breeze allowed them to rest, they seldom
indulged in sleep, but, sitting round in a ring upon the narrow deck,
either told stories, or were amused by the dancing of one of the
group, who, without changing his place, contrived to shift his feet
very vigorously to the music of his own voice, and that of two sticks
struck together to keep the time. They frequently used their oars in
parts of the river where they could not find a towing-path, and when
rowing, invariably accompanied their labours with a song, which,
though rude, was not unpleasant. The breeze, which had hitherto
favoured us, dying away, the poor fellows were obliged to work
harder than ever, dragging the boat up against the stream: upon these
occasions, however, we enjoyed a very agreeable degree of quietude,
and were, moreover, enabled to take a more accurate survey of the
river's banks. Living objects were not numerous, excepting in the
immediate vicinity of the villages. I was delighted when I caught
sight of an ibis, but was surprised at the comparatively small
number of birds; having been accustomed to the immense flocks which
congregate on the banks of Indian rivers.

Our arrival at a village alone relieved the monotony of the landscape.
Some of these places were prettily situated under groves of dates
and wild fig trees, and they occasionally boasted houses of a decent
description; the majority were, however, most wretched, and we were
often surprized to see persons respectably dressed, and mounted upon
good-looking donkeys, emerge from streets and lanes leading to the
most squalid and poverty-stricken dwellings imaginable. The arrival of
a boat caused all the beggars to hasten down to the river-side;
these chiefly consisted of very old or blind persons. We had provided
ourselves with paras, a small copper coin, for the purpose of giving
alms to the miserable beings who solicited our charity, and the poor
creatures always went away well satisfied with the trifling gift
bestowed upon them.

Every morning, the janissary and the Arab captain of the boat came to
the door of the cabin to pay their respects; with the latter we could
not hold much communication, as he did not speak a word of English; we
were, nevertheless, excellent friends. He was very good-humoured,
and we were always laughing, so that a bond of union was established
between us. He had once or twice come into such close contact with
some of our crockery-ware, as to put me in a fright, and the comic
look, with which he showed that he was aware of the mischief he had
nearly done, amused me excessively. He was evidently a wag, and from
the moment in which he discovered the congeniality of our feelings,
when any droll incident occurred, he was sure to look at us and laugh.

The janissary spoke very tolerable English, and after sunset, when we
seated ourselves outside the cabin-door, he came forward and entered
into conversation. He told us that a quarrel having taken place
between the boatmen of a small vessel and the people of a village, the
former came on board in great numbers in the night, and murdered six
of the boatmen; and that on the affair being represented to the Pasha,
he sent three hundred soldiers to the village, and razed it to the
ground. He said that he had been in the service of several English
gentlemen, and had once an opportunity of going to England with a
captain in the navy, but that his mother was alive at that time, and
when he mentioned his wishes to her, she cried, and therefore he
could not go. The captain had told him that he would always repent not
having taken his offer; but though he wished to see England, he was
glad he had not grieved his mother. He had been at Malta, but had
taken a dislike to the Maltese, in consequence of a wrong he had
received, as a stranger, upon his landing.

Amongst the noblemen and gentlemen whom he had served, he mentioned
the Marquess of Waterford. We asked him what sort of a person he was,
and he immediately replied, "A young devil." Mohammed, who had been
in various services with English travellers, expressed a great desire
to go to England; he said, that if he could once get there, he would
"never return to this dirty country." Both he and the janissary
apparently had formed magnificent ideas of the wealth of Great
Britain, from the lavish manner in which the English are accustomed to
part with their money while travelling.

We inquired of Mohammed concerning the magician, whose exploits Mr.
Lane and other authors have recorded. At first, he did not understand
what we meant; but, upon further explanation, told us that he thought
the whole an imposture. He said, that when a boy, about the age of the
Arab captain's son, who was on board, he was in the service of a lady
who wished to witness the exhibition, and who selected him as the
medium of communication, because she said that she knew he would
tell her the truth. The ceremonies, therefore, commenced; but though
anxiously looking into the magic mirror, he declared that he saw
nothing: afterwards, he continued, "A boy was called out of the
bazaar, who saw all that the man told him." But while Mohammed
expressed his entire disbelief in the power of this celebrated person,
he was not devoid of the superstition of his creed and country, for
he told us that he knew of another who really did wonderful things. He
then asked us what we had called the Mughreebee whom we had described
to him: we replied, a magician; and he and the janissary repeated
the word over many times, in order to make themselves thoroughly
acquainted with it. In all cases, they were delighted with the
acquisition of a new word, and were very thankful to me when I
corrected their pronunciation. Thus, when the janissary showed me what
he called _kundergo_, growing in the fields, and explained that it
made a blue dye, and I told him that we called it _indigo_, he never
rested until he had learned the word, which he repeated to Mohammed
and Mohammed to him. I never met with two more intelligent men in
their rank of life, or persons who would do greater credit to their
teachers; and brief as has been my intercourse with the Egyptians, I
feel persuaded, that a good method of imparting knowledge is all that
is wanting to raise them in the scale of nations.

During our progress up the river, I had been schooling myself,
and endeavouring to keep down my expectations, lest I should be
disappointed at the sight of the Pyramids. We were told that we should
see them at the distance of five-and-thirty miles; and when informed
that they were in view, my heart beat audibly as I threw open the
cabin door, and beheld them gleaming in the sun, pure and bright
as the silvery clouds above them. Far from being disappointed, the
vastness of their dimensions struck me at once, as they rose in
lonely majesty on the bare plain, with nothing to detract from their
grandeur, or to afford, by its littleness, a point of comparison.
We were never tired of gazing upon these noble monuments of an age
shrouded in impenetrable mystery. They were afterwards seen at less
advantage, in consequence of the intervention of some rising ground;
but from all points they created the strongest degree of interest.

We had a magnificent thunder-storm just as it was growing dark, and
the red lightning lit up the pyramids, which came out, as it were,
from the black masses of clouds behind them, while the broad waters
of the Nile assumed a dark and troubled aspect. The scene was sublime,
but of short duration; for the tempest speedily rolled off down the
river; when, accompanied by a squall and heavy rain, it caught several
boats, which were obliged to put into the shore. We did not experience
the slightest inconvenience; and though the latter part of the voyage
had been protracted from want of wind, arrived at the port of Boulak
at half-past nine on the second evening of our embarkation.


* * * * *


* * * * *

Arrival at Boulak--Description of the place--Moolid, or Religious
Fair--Surprise of the People--The Hotel at Cairo--Description of
the City--The Citadel--View from thence--The City--The
Shops--The Streets--The interior of the Pasha's
Palace--Pictures--Furniture--Military Band--Affray between a Man and
Woman--Indifference of the Police to Street Broils--Natives beaten
by Englishmen--Visit to an English Antiquary--By-ways of
the City--Interior of the Houses--Nubian
Slave-market--Gypsies--Preparations for Departure to Suez--Mode
of driving in the Streets of Cairo--Leave the City--The Changes in
travelling in Egypt--Attractions of Cairo.

It was half-past nine o'clock, on the evening of the 4th of October,
1839, that we arrived at the port of Boulak. We expected to find some
person in waiting to give us the pass-word, and thus enable us to
get into Cairo, the gates of the city being closed at nine o'clock.
Depending upon the attendance of the hotel-keeper at Cairo, who had
been apprised of our approach, we had not put the janissary on shore,
as we ought to have done, at the British Consul's country-house, who
would have furnished us with a talisman to pass the gates. We sent
Mohammed and the janissary on shore, to see what could be done.
Including the voyage up the canal, Miss E. and myself had passed (we
could not say slept) three nights on board a boat, the first without
an attempt at repose, the two latter lying down in our dressing-gowns
upon thin mattresses, stretched upon hard boards; we, therefore, could
not very easily relinquish the endeavour to procure a bed during
the time which would intervene between the period (an hour before
day-light) in which the gates of the city would be open.

I had a letter to the British Consul, which I gave Mohammed, telling
him to try the effect of bribery upon the guardians of the city.
During his absence, the Arab captain, feeling that we were left
under his protection, came and seated himself beside us, outside the
cabin-door. We conversed together without understanding each other's
language; he had nothing to offer us except snuff, of which we each
took a pinch, giving him in return, as he refused wine, a pomegranate,
to which I added a five-franc piece from the remains of my French
money. If any thing had been wanting to establish a good understanding
between us, this would have accomplished it. The rais, or captain,
took my hand in his, and pressed his own to his lips, in token of
gratitude; and when upon the return of Mohammed he perceived that I
was rather nervous at the idea of crossing the plank from the boat to
the shore, he plunged at once into the water to assist me over it.
The janissary brought word that there was a moolid, or religious fair,
held at the opposite end of the city, and that if we would make a
circuit of three miles round the walls, we might enter Cairo that
night, as the gate was left open for the convenience of the people
in the neighbourhood. Mohammed had aroused a donkey-man of his
acquaintance, who was in attendance, with a youth his son, and two
donkeys. To the boy was entrusted the care of the lanthorn, without
which no person is allowed to traverse the streets after nightfall,
and mounting, we set forward.

The streets of Boulak are narrow, but the houses appear to be lofty
and substantially built. We were challenged by the soldiers at the
gates, but allowed to pass without farther inquiry. The ride round
the walls at night was dreary enough, over broken ground, occupied
by bandogs barking at us as we passed. We met occasionally groups of
people coming from the fair, who gave us the welcome intelligence that
the gates were still open, and, pushing on, we came at length to the
entrance, an archway of some magnitude. Upon turning an angle of this
wall, we suddenly emerged upon a very singular scene. The tomb of
the saint, in whose honour the moolid was held, was surrounded by
devotees, engaged in the performance of some religious rite. Around,
and in front, throughout the neighbouring streets, gleamed a strong
illumination, produced by an assemblage of lamps and lanthorns
of various kinds. Some of the shops boasted handsome cut-glass
chandeliers, or Argand lamps, evidently of European manufacture;
others were content with a circular frame, perforated with holes,
in which all sorts of glass vessels, wine-glasses, tumblers,
mustard-pots, &c., were placed, filled with oil, and having several

The articles displayed for sale at the fair were, as far as we could
judge from the hasty glances we cast as we passed along, good of
their kind, and of some value; the confectioners' shops made a gay
appearance with their variously-coloured sweetmeats, piled up in
tempting heaps, and we saw enough of embroidery and gold to form a
very favourable idea of the taste and splendour of the native dress.

We were, of course, objects of great surprise and curiosity; the
sudden appearance of two European ladies, the only women present, at
eleven o'clock at night, riding on donkeys through the fair, could not
fail to create a sensation. Our boy with the lanthorn walked first,
followed by the janissary, who, flourishing his silver stick, made
room for us through the crowd. Had we not been accompanied by this
respectable official, we should scarcely have dared to venture in such
a place, and at such a period. Mohammed and the donkey-man attended
at the side of Miss E. and myself, and though some of the people could
not help laughing at the oddity of our appearance, we met with no
sort of insult or hinderance, but made our way through without the
slightest difficulty, much more easily, in fact, than two Arabs in
their native costume, even if attended by a policeman, would have
traversed a fair in England.

The scene was altogether very singular, and we thought ourselves
fortunate in having had an opportunity of witnessing a native fair
under such novel circumstances. We could scarcely believe that we were
in a Mohammedan city, noted for its intolerance, and could not help
feeling grateful to the reigning power which had produced so striking
a change in the manners and conduct of the people. Upon leaving the
fair, we turned into dark streets, dimly illumined by the light of the
lanthorn we carried; occasionally, but very seldom, we met some
grave personage, preceded also by a lanthorn, who looked with great
astonishment at our party as we passed. At length we came to the door
of our hotel, and having knocked loudly, we were admitted into the
court-yard, when, dismounting, we proceeded up a flight of stone steps
to a verandah, which led into some very good-sized apartments. The
principal one, a large dining-room, was furnished at the upper end
in the Egyptian fashion, with divans all round; it was, however, also
well supplied with European chairs and tables, and in a few minutes
cold turkey and ham, and other good things, appeared upon the board.

Being the first arrivals from the steamer, we had to answer numerous
questions before we could retire to bed. Upon asking to be conducted
to our chamber, we were shown up another flight of stone stairs,
leading to a second and much larger verandah, which was screened off
in departments serving as ante-chambers to the bed-rooms. There was
sufficient space on the terraces of this floor, for the descent of a
few steps led to another platform, to afford a walk of some extent,
but of this we were not aware until the morning. We found a very
comfortable two-bedded room, supplied with glass windows, and
everything belonging to it in excellent repair, and apparently free
from vermin; most thankfully did we lie down to enjoy the repose which
our late exertions had rendered so needful.

Our trusty Mohammed had engaged donkeys for us the next day, and
promised to take us to every place worth seeing in the city. We were
strongly tempted to visit the Pyramids, but were deterred by the
danger of losing the steamer at Suez, and by the difficulties of the
undertaking. We were told that the Nile was not sufficiently flooded
to admit of our approach in a boat, and that we should be up to the
donkey's knees in mud if we attempted to go upon the backs of those
animals. We, therefore, reluctantly relinquished the idea, and
contented ourselves with what we could see of Cairo.

Our first visit was directed to the Citadel, a place which, I do not
scruple to say, was to me quite as interesting as any of the monuments
of ancient art that Egypt contains. The remains of ages long past, and
whose history is involved in unfathomable obscurity, excite our wonder
and admiration, and fill us with an almost painful curiosity to draw
aside the veil which time has thrown around them, and to learn secrets
that all the learning of man has hitherto been unable to unfold.
The citadel of Cairo, on the contrary, has been the theatre of
comparatively recent events; it is filled with recollections of the
hero whose exploits, narrated by the most eloquent pens, have charmed
us in our childhood, and still continue to excite interest in our
breasts--the Sultan Saladin. Here are the remains of a palace which he
once inhabited, and here is a well which bears his name. Who could sit
under the broken pillars of that roofless palace, or drink the water
from the deep recesses of that well, without allowing their thoughts
to wander back to the days of the Crusades, those chivalric times, in
which love, and war, and religion, swayed the hearts and the actions
of men; when all that was honoured and coveted was to be found in a
soldier of the cross, and when half-frantic enthusiasts, pursuing the
vainest of hopes, the recovery of the Holy Land, brought away with
them what they did not go to seek, the arts, and learning, and science
of the East! The janissary, who was with us, pointed out the direction
in which Damietta now stands, and I was instantly filled with a desire
to see Damietta, of which I had heard and read so much.

The most exciting romance of Oriental history is to be found amid the
deserts that surround Egypt; and even if the most spirit-stirring tale
of all, the _Talisman_, had not been written, the scenes in which our
own lion-hearted Richard figured, and which witnessed the exploits of
the Templars and the knights of St. John of Jerusalem, could not fail
to create the highest degree of pleasurable feeling in minds capable
of enjoying such brilliant reveries of the past. The Citadel of Cairo
is also fraught with the recollections of an event which startled
all Europe within the memory of many of the present generation--the
massacre of the Mamelukes. We were shown the broken cleft in the
wall from which the only one of the devoted men who escaped urged his
gallant horse; it was, indeed, a fearful leap, and we gazed upon,
the spot and thought of the carnage of that dreadful hour with an
involuntary shudder.

The Citadel of Cairo has less the air of a regular fortification than
any place of arms I ever recollect to have entered; it is, however,
I believe, exceedingly strong by nature, the situation being very
commanding. I regretted that I could not look upon these things with
a professional eye, and that I had no military authority at hand to
refer to. Near to the ruins of Saladin's palace, the Pasha is now
constructing a mosque, which, when finished, will be one of the most
splendid temples of the kind in all the Moslem land. It is to be lined
and faced with marble, very elegantly carved, but it will take three
years to complete it, and should any circumstances occur to delay the
work during the lifetime of the present ruler of Egypt, the chances
seem much in favour of its never being completed at all. Mounting on
the embrasure of one of the guns, I feasted my eyes upon one of the
finest and most interesting views I had ever beheld. The city, with
its minarets, towers, kiosks, and stately palm-trees, lay at my feet,
displaying, by its extent, the solidity, loftiness, and magnificence
of its buildings, its title to the proud name of "Grand Cairo."
Beyond, in one wide flood of silver, flowed the Nile, extending far as
the eye could reach along a plain verdant with its fertilizing waters.
To the left, the tombs of the caliphs spread themselves over a desert
waste, looking, indeed, like a city of the dead. These monuments,
though not equalling in size and grandeur the tombs which we find in
India, are very striking; they are for the most part surmounted by
cupolas, raised upon lofty pillars, with the spaces open between. Upon
one of these buildings we were shown a vessel in the form of a boat,
which upon a certain festival is filled with grain and water, for the
service of the birds.

The Pyramids, which rise beyond the City of Tombs, are not seen to
advantage from this point, an intervening ridge of sand cutting off
the bases, and presenting the pinnacles only to view; but the whole of
the landscape, under the clear bright atmosphere of an Egyptian sky,
is of so exquisite a nature, that the eye can never tire of it, and
had I been detained as a prisoner in the Pasha's dominions, I might
have become reconciled to my fate, had I been confined in a situation
which commanded this splendid prospect.

About the middle of the day we again sallied forth, the streets of
Cairo being so narrow that the sun is completely shut out, and shade
thus afforded at noon. The air was not unpleasantly warm, and we
suffered no inconvenience, excepting from the crowd. Mounted upon
donkeys, we pushed our way through a dense throng, thrusting aside
loaded camels, which scarcely allowed us room to pass, and coming
into the closest contact with all sorts of people. The perusal of
Mr. Lane's book had given me a very vivid idea of the interior of the
city, though I was scarcely prepared to mingle thus intimately with
its busy multitude.

We had some shopping to execute, or rather we had to pay for some
purchases made by Mohammed for us in the morning, and to return that
portion of the goods sent for inspection that we did not intend to
keep. We liked the appearance of the shops, which, in all cases of the
more respectable kind, were well stocked, whole streets being devoted
to the sale of one particular branch of merchandize. A long avenue
was occupied by saddlers and the sellers of horse-furniture; another
displayed nothing but woollen cloths; a third was devoted to weapons
of every description, &c. &c. The wax-chandlers reminded me very much
of those in England, being decorated in a similar manner, while the
display of goods everywhere was much greater than I had ever seen in
Eastern cities, in which for the most part merchandize of the best
description is hidden in warehouses, and not to be found without deep

The greater number of the streets are covered in with matting in
rather a dilapidated state, and having many holes and crevices for the
admission of air; this gives to the whole a ragged appearance, and we
were told that the Pasha had determined not to allow in future awnings
of these frail and unsightly materials. The Frank quarter, which is
much better contrived, is the model for subsequent erections. This
avenue has a roof of wood sufficiently high to allow of a free
circulation of air, and having apertures, at regular distances near
the top, to admit the light. The streets in this part of Cairo are
wider than usual, and the shops appear to be large and convenient.

All sorts of European manufactures are to be found here, for the most
part at reasonable prices. The gentlemen who proposed to cross the
desert purchased Leghorn hats of very good quality, and admirably
adapted, from their size, lightness, and durability, for Indian wear.
Wearied, at length, with the confusion and bustle of the streets,
we took again the road to the Citadel, being exceedingly desirous to
feast our eyes with the sunset view.

After gazing long and earnestly upon a scene which, once beheld, can
never be forgotten, we gladly accepted the offer of Mohammed to
show us into the interior of the Pasha's palace, a large irregular
building, having no great pretensions to architectural beauty, and
mingling rather oddly the European with the Oriental style. Ascending
a broad flight of steps, we passed through a large kind of guard-room
to the state-apartments. These were of rather a singular description,
but handsome and well adapted to the climate. A third portion,
consisting of the front and part of the two sides of each room, was
entirely composed of windows, opening a few feet from the ground,
and having a divan running round, furnished in the usual manner with
pillows at the back. The windows of some of these apartments opened
upon gardens, laid out in the English taste and full of English
flowers; others commanded the finest prospects of the city and the
open space below. Round these rooms, at the top, forming a sort
of cornice, were pictures in compartments or panels, one series
consisting of views of the Pasha's palaces and gardens, another of the
vessels of war which belong to him, and more especially his favourite
steam-boat, of which there are many delineations. There is nothing
that more strongly exhibits the freedom with which Mehemet Ali has
thrown off the prejudices of the Moslem religion, than his permitting,
contrary to its established principles, the representation of objects
natural and artificial, which, both in painting and sculpture, is
strictly forbidden. Much cannot be said for the execution of these
pictures, which seem to have been the work of a native artist; but
they become exceedingly interesting as proofs of the decline of a
religion so completely opposed to the spread of knowledge, and to all
improvement in the moral condition of its followers.

The furniture in the Pasha's palace, though in a great measure limited
to carpets and cushions, is very handsome. The divans are covered with
rich brocade, figured satin, damask, or cut velvet. The attendants
drew aside, with great pride, the curtains which concealed the
looking-glasses, evidently fancying that we had never beheld mirrors
of such magnitude in our lives. I observed that the chandeliers in
some of the apartments did not match each other, but the whole was
very creditable to the taste and spirit of the owner. Below them was a
handsome apartment entirely lined with marble, and apparently designed
as a retreat for the hot weather, the floor being divided into two
parts--the one ascended by a step, in which the family might repose
upon cushions; the other scooped into basins, with a fountain to play
in the centre: the water either had not as yet been laid on, or the
season did not render it necessary. Near to this apartment was
the Pasha's bed-chamber, a fine room, also lined with marble, and
containing a fire-place, which in the warm weather revolved upon a
pivot, and was concealed in a recess made on purpose in the wall. The
bathing-rooms, close at hand, were of the most beautiful description,
the principal apartment and the antechamber having roofs which might
serve as models for all erections of the kind. These were fretted
in small compartments, light being admitted by a thick piece of
ground-glass in the centre of each, thus securing the utmost privacy,
together with one of the most beautiful methods of lighting possible.

While we were still sitting in the Pasha's palace, the military band
of the garrison began to play upon the parade-ground immediately
below. Mohammed, who seemed to be quite at home, conducted us to an
apartment which overlooked this space, opened one of the windows, and
requested us to seat ourselves upon the cushions, where we remained
for some time, listening to the well-known French airs played in the
court-yard of the palace of a Turkish prince! The band was not a
very large one, but the performers had been well-taught, and the
wind-instruments produced in such a situation a very animating effect.
They marched up and down the parade-ground, occasionally relieved by
the drums and fifes also playing French music. The performers were
clothed in white, like the men belonging to the ranks, and had the
same soiled appearance, it being impossible to keep white garments
pure in the dust of Egyptian cities.

The sun was now completely down, and we returned to our hotel, where,
to our great joy, we found our two female friends, who had not been
able to reach Boulak until many hours after our landing. We
had ordered dinner at seven o'clock, in the hope that our
fellow-passengers in the steamer would come up, and according to our
calculations, several dropped in. The possibility of getting to the
Pyramids was again discussed; the greater number of the gentlemen
determined at least to try, but we thought it best to avoid all danger
of missing the _Berenice_, and the ladies, adhering to their original
intention, determined to cross the desert together. We passed a most
agreeable evening, telling over our voyage up the Nile, and upon
retiring to my chamber, I regretted that it would be the last I should
for some time spend in Cairo.

Nothing can be more quiet than the nights in a city where all the
inhabitants retire after dark to their own homes, the streets being
perambulated by few persons, and those of the soberest description;
but with the sun, a scene of bustle and noise ensues, which
effectually prevents repose. The windows of my apartment looked out
upon a narrow street, in which the ground-floors were, as it is usual,
composed of shops, while several persons, having vegetables or grain
to sell, were seated upon the ground. The hum of human voices,
the grunting of the camels, and the braying of donkeys, kept up an
incessant din, and therefore some minutes elapsed before my attention
was attracted by a wordy war which took place beneath my window.
Hastily arraying myself in my dressing-gown, and looking out, I saw a
man and woman engaged in some vehement discussion, but whether caused
by a dispute or not, I could not at first decide. They both belonged
to the lower class, and the woman was meanly dressed in a blue
garment, with a hood of the same over her head, her face being
concealed by one of those hideous narrow black veils, fastened across
under the eyes, which always reminded me of the proboscis of an
elephant. Her hands were clasped upon the arms of the man just above
the elbow, who held her in the same manner, and several people were
endeavouring to part them, as they struggled much in the same manner
which prevails in a melodrame, when the hero and heroine are about
to be separated by main force. I thought it, therefore, probable that
they were a loving couple, about to be torn asunder by the myrmidons
of the law. Presently, however, I was set right upon this point, for
the man, seizing a kind of whip, which is generally carried in Cairo,
and flogging off his friends, dashed the poor creature on the ground,
and inflicted several severe strokes upon her prostrate body, not one
of the by-standers attempting to prevent him. The woman, screaming
fearfully, jumped up, and seizing him again, as if determined to gain
her point, whatever it might be, poured forth a volley of words, and
again the man threw her upon the ground and beat her most cruelly, the
spectators remaining, as before, quite passive, and allowing him to
wreak his full vengeance upon her.

Had I been dressed, or could I have made my way readily into the
street, I should have certainly gone down to interpose, for never did
I witness any scene so horrible, or one I so earnestly desired to
put an end to. At length, though the pertinacity of the woman was
astonishing, when exhausted by blows, she lay fainting on the ground,
the man went his way. The spectators, and there were many, who looked
on without any attempt to rescue this poor creature from her savage
assailant, now raised her from the earth. The whole of this time, the
veil she wore was never for a moment displaced, and but for the brutal
nature of the scene, it would have been eminently ridiculous in the
eyes of a stranger. After crying and moaning for some time, in the
arms of her supporters, the woman, whom I now found to be a vender of
vegetables in the street, told her sad tale to all the passers-by
of her acquaintance, with many tears and much gesticulation, but at
length seated herself quietly down by her baskets, though every bone
in her body must have ached from the severe beating she had received.
This appeared to me to be a scene for the interference of the police,
who, however, do not appear to trouble themselves about the protection
of people who may be assaulted in the street.

I afterwards saw a drunken Englishman, an officer of the Indian
army, I am sorry to say, beat several natives of Cairo, with whom
he happened to come in contact in the crowd, in the most brutal and
unprovoked manner, and yet no notice was taken, and no complaint
made. It was certainly something very unexpected to me to see a Frank
Christian maltreating the Moslem inhabitants of a Moslem city in which
he was a stranger, and I regretted exceedingly that the perpetrator
of acts, which brought disgrace upon his character and country, should
have been an Englishman, or should have escaped punishment. No sooner
have we been permitted to traverse a country in which formerly it was
dangerous to appear openly as a Christian, than we abuse the privilege
thus granted by outrages on its most peaceable inhabitants. I regret
to be obliged to add, that it is but too commonly the habit, of
Englishmen to beat the boat-men, donkey-men, and others of the poorer
class, whom they may engage in their service. They justify this
cowardly practice--cowardly, because the poor creatures can gain no
redress--by declaring that there is no possibility of getting them to
stir excepting by means of the whip; but, in most cases, all that I
witnessed, they were not at the trouble of trying fairer methods:
at once enforcing their commands by blows. The comments made by the
janissary and our own servant upon those who were guilty of such
wanton brutality showed the feeling which it elicited; and when upon
one occasion Miss E. and myself interposed, declaring that we would
not allow any person in our service to be beaten, they told us not to
be alarmed, for that the rais (captain of the boat), who was an Arab,
would not put up with ill-treatment, but had threatened to go on shore
at the next village with all his men.

An English gentleman, long resident in Cairo, had done me the honour
to call upon me on the day after my arrival, and had invited me to
come to his house, to see some mummies and other curiosities he had
collected. Accompanied by two of my female friends, and escorted by a
gentleman who was well acquainted with the topography of the city,
we set out on foot, traversing blind alleys and dark lanes, and thus
obtaining a better idea of the intricacies of the place than we could
possibly have gained by any other means. Sometimes we passed under
covered ways perfectly dark, which I trod, not without fear of
arousing some noxious animal; then we came to narrow avenues, between
the backs of high stone houses, occasionally emerging into small
quadrangles, having a single tree in one corner. We passed a house
inhabited by one of the superior description of Frank residents,
and we knew that it must be tenanted by a European by the handsome
curtains and other furniture displayed through its open windows.
Turning into a street, for the very narrow lanes led chiefly along
the backs of houses, we looked into the lower apartments, the doors of
which were usually unclosed, and here we saw the men at their
ordinary occupations, and were made acquainted with their domestic
arrangements. At length we arrived at a court, which displayed a door
and a flight of steps at the corner. Upon knocking, we were admitted
by an Egyptian servant, who showed us up stairs into a room, where we
found the master of the house seated upon one of the low stools which
serve as the support of the dinner-trays in Egypt, the only other
furniture that the room contained being a table, and the customary
divan, which extended all round. Coffee was brought in, served in
small China cups; but all the coffee made in Egypt was too like the
Nile mud for me to taste, and warm and fatigued with a walk through
places from which the fresh air was excluded, I felt myself unequal
to make the trial now.

Our friend's collection of antiquities appeared to be very valuable;
but I had been at the opening of a mummy-case before, and though
interested by the different articles which his researches had brought
to light, was more so in the examination of his house. It was very
oddly arranged, according to the ideas formed in Europe, many of the
rooms looking like lanthorns, in consequence of their having windows
on the stairs and passages, as well as to the street. This was
probably caused by a desire to secure a free circulation of air, but
it at the same time destroyed every idea of privacy, and therefore
looked exceedingly uncomfortable. There were glass-windows to several
of the apartments, but the house exhibited considerable quantities of
that wooden trellice-work, represented in Mr. Lane's book. Nothing,
indeed, can be more accurate than his descriptions; the English
inhabitants of Cairo say that, reading it upon the spot, they cannot
detect a single error; the designs are equally faithful, and those who
study the work carefully may acquire the most correct notion of the
city and its inhabitants.

The apartments at the top of the house opened, as usual, upon a rather
extensive terrace or court, but the surrounding wall was too high to
admit of any prospect; both here, and in a similar place at our hotel,
persons walking about could neither see their neighbours nor be seen
by them. We, therefore, gained nothing by climbing so high, and I was
disappointed at not obtaining any view of the city. I tried in each
place to make acquaintance with an Egyptian cat, but I found the
animal too shy. I noticed several, which seemed to be domestic pets;
they were fine-looking creatures of the kind, and I fancied larger
than the common English cat, but the difference, if existing at all,
was very slight. I returned home, so much fatigued with my walk, as
to be unable to go out again, especially as we were to start at four
o'clock for the desert.

Two of the ladies of the party, not having completed their purchases
at the bazaars, went out upon a shopping excursion, and passing near
the Nubian slave-market, were induced to enter. Christians are not
admitted to the place in which Circassian women are sold, and can
only obtain entrance by assuming the Turkish dress and character. My
friends were highly interested in one woman, who sat apart from the
rest, apparently plunged into the deepest melancholy; the others
manifested little sorrow at their condition, which was not, perhaps,
in reality, changed for the worse: all eagerly scrambled for some
pieces of money which the visitors threw amongst them, and the
sight was altogether too painful for Christian ladies to desire to
contemplate long.

They were much more amused by some gipsies, who were anxious to show
their skill in the occult science. Upon the morning after our arrival,
Miss E., who was always the first upon the alert, accepted the escort
of a gentleman, who conducted her to a neighbouring shop; while making
some purchases, a gipsy came and seated herself opposite, and by way
of showing her skill, remarked that the lady was a stranger to Cairo,
and had a companion, also of her own sex, who pretended to be a
friend, but who would prove treacherous.

As we had ridden through the fair together on the preceding evening,
it did not require any great effort of art to discover that two Frank
ladies had arrived at Cairo; but in speaking of treachery, the gipsy
evidently wished to pique the curiosity of my friend, and tempt her to
make further inquiry. Much to my regret, she did not take any notice
of the fortune-teller, whose words had been repeated by the gentleman
who had accompanied her, and who was well acquainted with the language
in which they were spoken. I should like to have had a specimen of the
talents of a modern scion of this race, in the country in which the
learned have decided that the tribe, now spread over the greater part
of the world, originated.

The arrival of the _Berenice_ at Suez had been reported the evening
before, and the mails had been brought to Cairo in the coarse of
the night. All was, therefore, bustle and confusion in our hotel;
gentlemen hourly arriving from the Nile, where they had been delayed
by squalls and contrary winds, or snatching a hasty meal before they
posted off to the Pyramids. Our camels and donkeys had been laden
and despatched to the outskirts of the city, to which we were to be
conveyed in a carriage.

I had observed in the court-yard of the hotel an English-built
equipage, of the britschka fashion, with a dark-coloured hood, for,
whatever might have been its original tint, it had assumed the
common hue of Egypt; and I found that two spirited horses were to be
harnessed to the vehicle, which was dragged out into the street for
our accommodation. A gentleman volunteered his services as coachman,
promising that he would drive carefully, and we accordingly got in,
a party of four, taking the baby along with us. Although the horses
kicked and plunged a little, I did not fancy that we could be in any
danger, as it was impossible for them to run away with us through
streets so narrow as scarcely to be passable, neither could we have
very easily been upset. I, therefore, hoped to have enjoyed the drive
amazingly, as it promised to afford me a better opportunity than I
had hitherto possessed of seeing Cairo, seated at my ease, instead
of pushing and jostling through the crowd either on foot or upon
a donkey. The gentleman, however, bent upon showing off, would not
listen to our entreaties that the grooms should lead the horses, but
dashed along, regardless of the danger to the foot-passengers, or the
damage that the donkeys might sustain.

So long as we proceeded slowly, the drive was very agreeable, since
it enabled me to observe the effect produced by our party upon the
spectators. Many sat with the utmost gravity in their shops, scarcely
deigning to cast their eyes upon what must certainly have been a
novel sight; others manifested much more curiosity, and seemed to be
infinitely amused, while heads put out of the upper windows showed
that we attracted some attention. My enjoyment was destined to be very
brief, for in a short time our coachman, heedless of the mischief that
might ensue, drove rapidly forward, upsetting and damaging every thing
that came in his way. In vain did we scream and implore; he declared
that it was the fault of the people, who would not remove themselves
out of danger; but as we had no _avant-courrier_ to clear the road
before us, and our carriage came very suddenly upon many persons, I
do not see how they could have managed to escape. At length, we drove
over an unfortunate donkey, which was pulled down by a piece of iron
sticking from the carriage, and thus becoming entangled in the load he
bore. I fear that the animal was injured, for the poor boy who drove
him cried bitterly, and though we (that is, the ladies of the party)
would gladly have remunerated him for the damage he might have
sustained, neither time nor opportunity was permitted for this act of
justice. On we drove, every moment expecting to be flung out against
the walls, as the carriage turned round the corners of streets placed
at right angles to each other. At length, we succeeded in our wish to
have the grooms at the horses' heads, and without further accident,
though rendered as nervous as possible, passed through the gate of
the city. We drove forward now without any obstacle through the
Necropolis, or City of Tombs, before-mentioned, and I regretted
much that we had not left Cairo at an earlier hour, which would have
permitted us to examine the interiors.

The desert comes up to the very walls of Cairo, and these tombs rise
from a plain of bare sand. I observed some gardens and cultivated
places stretching out into the wilderness, no intermediate state
occurring between the garden and the arid waste in which vegetation
suddenly ceased. We might have performed the whole journey across the
desert in the carriage which had brought us thus far, but as one of
the ladies was a little nervous, and moreover thought the road too
rough, I readily agreed to choose another mode of conveyance; in fact,
I wished particularly to proceed leisurely to Suez, and in the manner
in which travellers had hitherto been conveyed.

The mighty changes which are now effecting in Egypt, should nothing
occur to check their progress, will soon render the track to India so
completely beaten, and so deeply worn by wheels, that I felt anxious
to take advantage of the opportunity now offered to traverse the
desert in a more primitive way. I disliked the idea of hurrying
through a scene replete with so many interesting recollections. I had
commenced reading the _Arabian Nights' Entertainment_ at the age of
five years; since which period, I had read them over and over again
at every opportunity, finishing with the last published number of the
translation by Mr. Lane. This study had given me a strong taste for
every thing relating to the East, and Arabia especially. I trust that
I am not less familiar with the writings of the Old and New Testament,
and consequently it may easily be imagined that I should not find
three days in the desert tedious, and that I felt anxious to enjoy to
the uttermost the reveries which it could not fail to suggest.

In parting with our friend and the carriage, he declared that he
would indemnify himself for the constraint we had placed upon him, by
driving over two or three people at least. Fortunately, his desire
of showing off was displayed too soon; we heard, and rejoiced at
the tidings, that he upset the carriage before he got to the gate of
Cairo. Two or three lives are lost, it is said, whenever the Pasha,
who drives furiously, traverses the city in a European equipage. That
he should not trouble himself about so mean a thing as the life or
limb of a subject, may not be wonderful; but that he should permit
Frank strangers to endanger both, seems unaccountable.

No Anglo-Indian resident in either of the three presidencies thinks
of driving a wheel-carriage through streets never intended for
such conveyances. In visiting Benares, Patna, or any other of the
celebrated native cities of India, elephants, horses, palanquins,
or some other vehicle adapted for the occasion, are chosen. It,
therefore, appears to be the more extraordinary that English people,
who are certainly living upon sufferance in Egypt, should thus
recklessly expose the inhabitants to danger, to which they are not
subjected by any of their own people under the rank of princes.
Nothing can be more agreeable or safe than a drive across the desert,
and probably the time is speedily approaching in which the rich
inhabitants of Cairo will indulge, as they do at Alexandria, in the
luxury of English carriages, and for this purpose, the streets and
open spaces best adapted for driving will be improved and widened.

I cannot take leave of Cairo without paying the tribute due to the
manner in which the streets are kept. In passing along the narrow
lanes and avenues before-mentioned, not one of the senses was shocked;
dust, of course, there is every where, but nothing worse to be seen at
least; and the sight and smell were not offended, as at Paris or even
in London, when passing through the by-ways of either. Altogether, if
I may venture to pronounce an opinion, after so short a residence, I
should say that, if our peaceful relations with Egypt should continue
to be kept up, in no place will travellers be better received or
entertained than in Cairo.


* * * * *


* * * * *

Equipage for crossing the Desert--Donkey-chairs--Sense of calmness and
tranquillity on entering the Desert--Nothing dismal in its
aspect--The Travellers' Bungalow--Inconvenient construction of these
buildings--Kafila of the Governor of Jiddah and his Lady--Their
Equipage--Bedouins--Impositions practised on Travellers--Desert
Travelling not disagreeable--Report of the sailing of the
Steamer--Frequency of false reports--Ease with which an infant of
the party bore the journey--A wheeled carriage crossing the
Desert--Parties of Passengers from Suez encountered--One of Mr. Hill's
tilted Caravans--Difficulty of procuring water at the Travellers'
Bungalow--A night in the Desert--Magnificent sunrise--First sight
of the Red Sea and the Town of Suez--Miserable appearance of the
latter--Engagement of a Passage to Bombay.

We found the equipages in which we were to cross the desert waiting
for us at the City of Tombs. They consisted of donkey-chairs, one
being provided for each of the females of the party, while my
friend Miss E. had also an extra donkey, with a saddle, to ride upon
occasionally. Nothing could be more comfortable than these vehicles;
a common arm-chair was fastened into a sort of wooden tray, which
projected in front about a foot, thereby enabling the passenger to
carry a small basket or other package; the chairs were then slung by
the arms to long bamboos, one upon either side, and these, by means
of ropes or straps placed across, were fastened upon the backs
of donkeys, one in front, the other, behind. Five long and narrow
vehicles of this kind, running across the desert, made a sufficiently
droll and singular appearance, and we did nothing but admire each
other as we went along. The movement was delightfully easy, and the
donkeys, though not travelling at a quick pace, got on very well. Our
cavalcade consisted besides of two stout donkeys, which carried the
beds and carpet-bags of the whole party, thus enabling us to send the
camels a-head: the three men-servants were also mounted upon donkeys,
and there were three or four spare ones, in case any of the others
should knock up upon the road. In this particular it is proper to
say that we were cheated, for had such an accident occurred, the
extra-animals were so weak and inefficient, that they could not have
supplied the places of any of those in use. There were eight or ten
donkey-men, and a boy; the latter generally contrived to ride, but the
others walked by the side of the equipages.

In first striking into the desert, we all enjoyed a most delightful
feeling of repose; every thing around appeared to be so calm
and tranquil, that, especially after encountering the noises and
multitudes of a large and crowded city, it was soothing to the mind
thus to emerge from the haunts of men and wander through the vast
solitudes that spread their wastes before us. To me there was nothing
dismal in the aspect of the desert, nor was the view so boundless as I
had expected.

In these wide plains, the fall of a few inches is sufficient to
diversify the prospect; there is always some gentle acclivity to be
surmounted, which cheats the sense with the expectation of finding
a novel scene beyond: the sand-hills in the distance also range
themselves in wild and fantastic forms, many appearing like
promontories jutting out into some noble harbour, to which the
traveller seems to be approaching. Nor were there wanting living
objects to animate the scene; our own little kafila was sufficiently
large and cheerful to banish every idea of dreariness, and we
encountered others much more picturesque.

Soon after losing sight of the tombs, we came upon a party who
had bivouac'd for the night; the camels, unladen, were, with their
burthens, placed in a circle, and the people busily employed in
preparing their evening meal. Other evidences there were, however, to
show that the toils of the desert were but too frequently fatal to the
wretched beasts of burthen employed in traversing these barren wastes;
the whitened bones of camels and donkeys occurred so frequently, as to
serve to indicate the road.

Our first stage was the shortest of the whole, and we came to the
rest-house, or travellers' bungalow, just as night closed in, and long
before I entertained any idea that we should have been able to reach
it, travelling as we did at an easy walk. The bungalow was not yet
completed, which we found rather an advantage, since it seems to
be exceedingly questionable whether the buildings erected for the
accommodation of travellers on the track to Suez will be habitable
even for a few hours in the course of another year. The funds of the
Steam-committee have been lamentably mismanaged in this instance.
However, there being no windows, we were enabled to enjoy the fresh
air, and the room we occupied, not having been long whitewashed, was
perfectly clean.

Nothing can have been worse planned than the construction of these
houses. The only entrance is in front, down a narrow passage, open at
the top, and having apartments on either side, the two in front
being sleeping-rooms for travellers, with a kitchen and other offices
beyond, and at the back of all a stable, which occupies the whole
width of the building. The consequence is, that all the animals, biped
and quadruped, inhabiting the stable, must pass the traveller's
door, who is regaled with the smell proceeding from the said stable,
cook-rooms, &c.; all the insects they collect, and all the feathers
from the fowls slaughtered upon the spot; the plan being, when parties
arrive, to drive the unhappy creatures into the house, kill and pluck
them immediately.

The persons in care of these bungalows are usually a mongrel sort of
Franks, who have no idea of cleanliness, and are regardless of the
most unsavoury odours. The furniture of the rooms consisted of a deal
table and a moveable divan of wicker-work, while another, formed of
the same solid materials as the house, spread in the Egyptian fashion
along one side. Upon this Miss E. and myself laid our beds; our two
other lady friends, with the infant and female attendant, occupying
the opposite apartment. We concluded the evening with tea and supper,
for which we were amply provided, having cold fowls, cold ham,
hard-boiled eggs, and bread and fruit in abundance. Wrapped up in our
dressing-gowns, we passed a very comfortable night, and in the morning
were able to procure the luxury of warm water for washing with.

Having discovered that the people of the hotel at Cairo had forgotten
to put up some of the articles which we had ordered, and being afraid
that our supplies might fail, we had sent Mohammed back for them. He
did not rejoin us until eight o'clock the following morning, just
as we had begun to grow uneasy about him; it appeared that, although
apparently well acquainted with the desert, having crossed it many
times, he had missed the track, and lost his way, and after wandering
about all night, was glad to meet with a man, whom he engaged as a
guide. The poor fellow was much exhausted, but had not omitted to
bring us a bottle of fresh milk for our breakfast. We desired him to
get some tea for himself, and he soon recovered; his spirits never
forsaking him.

In consequence of these delays, it was rather late, past nine o'clock,
before we set forward. I had provided myself with a pair of crape
spectacles and a double veil, but I speedily discarded both; the crape
fretted my eye-lashes, and would have produced a greater degree of
irritation than the sand. A much better kind are those of wire, which
tie round the head with a ribbon, and take in the whole eye. Though
the sun was rather warm, its heat was tempered by a fresh cold air,
which blew across the desert, though not strongly enough to lift the
sand; we, therefore, travelled with much less inconvenience than is
sustained upon a turnpike-road in England in dusty weather. I could
not endure to mar the prospect by looking at it through a veil, and
found my parasol quite sufficient protection against the rays of the

The kafila, which we had passed the preceding evening, overtook us
soon after we started. It consisted of a long train of camels, and
belonged to the native governor of Jiddah, who was proceeding to that
place with, his wife and family, a native vessel being in waiting
at Suez to take him down the Red Sea. We saw several females wrapped
closely from head to foot in long blue garments, mounted upon these
camels. The governor's wife travelled in a sort of cage, which I
recognised immediately, from the description in Anastatius. This
vehicle is formed of two rude kinds of sophas, or what in English
country phrase would be called settles, canopied overhead, and with a
resting place for the feet. They are sometimes separated, and slung on
either side of a camel; at other times joined together, and placed on
the top, with a curtain or cloth lining, to protect the inmates from
the sun, and secure the privacy so necessary for a Mohammedan lady.
The height of the camels with their lading, and this cage on
the summit of all, give an extraordinary and almost supernatural
appearance to the animal as he plods along, his head nodding, and his
whole body moving in a strange ungainly manner.

Occasionally we saw a small party of Bedouins, easily distinguished by
the fierce countenances glaring from beneath the large rolls of cloth
twisted over their turbans, and round their throats, leaving nothing
besides flashing eyes, a strongly developed nose, and a bushy beard,
to be seen. One or two, superior to the rest, were handsomely
dressed, armed to the teeth, and rode camels well-groomed and richly
caparisoned; wild-looking warriors, whom it would not have been
agreeable to meet were the country in a less tranquil state.

To the present ruler of Egypt we certainly owe the security now
enjoyed in passing the desert; a party of ladies, having only three
servants and a few donkey-drivers, required no other protection,
though our beds, dressing-cases, and carpet-bags, to say nothing of
the camels laden with trunks and portmanteaus a-head, must have been
rather tempting to robbers by profession. The Pasha is the only
person who has hitherto been able to oblige the Sheikhs to respect the
property of those travellers not strong enough to protect themselves
from outrage. It is said that occasionally these Bedouins, when
desirous of obtaining water, make no scruple of helping themselves to
the supplies at the bungalows; the will, therefore, is not wanting to
commit more serious depredations. Consequently, in maintaining a good
understanding with Egypt, we must likewise endeavour to render its
sovereign strong enough to keep the neighbouring tribes in awe.

Having made a slight refection on the road, of hard-boiled eggs,
bread, grapes, and apples, we came up at mid-day to a rest-house,
where it was determined we should remain for an hour or two, to water
the donkeys, and afford them needful repose, while we enjoyed a more
substantial luncheon. Our companions were so well satisfied with the
management of Mohammed, who conducted the whole line of march, that
they sent their Egyptian servant forward to order our dinner at the
resting-place for the night. We found, however, that advantage had
been taken of Mohammed's absence the preceding evening, and of the
hurry of the morning's departure, to send back some of the animals we
had engaged and paid for, and to substitute others so weak as to be
perfectly useless. We were likewise cheated with regard to the water;
we were told that the camel bearing the skins, for which we had paid
at Cairo, had been taken by mistake by two gentlemen travelling in
advance, and as we could not allow the poor animals to suffer, we of
course purchased water for them. This was no doubt an imposition, but
one for which, under the circumstances, we had no remedy.

Upon reaching the bungalow, we again came up with the kafila that we
had seen twice before; the wife of the governor of Jiddah, with
her women, vacated the apartment into which we were shown, when we
arrived; but her husband sent a message, requesting that we would
permit her to occupy another, which was empty. We were but too happy
to comply, and should have been glad to have obtained a personal
interview; but having no interpreter excepting Mohammed, who would
not have been admitted to the conference, we did not like to make the
attempt. From the glance which we obtained of the lady, she seemed
to be very diminutive; nothing beyond height and size could be
distinguishable under the blue envelope she wore, in common with her
women: some of the latter occasionally unveiled their faces, which
were certainly not very attractive; but others, probably those who
were younger and handsomer, kept their features closely shrouded.

Again betaking ourselves to our conveyances, we launched forth into
the desert, enjoying it as much the second day as we had done the
first. I entertained a hope of seeing some of the beautiful gazelles,
for which Arabia is famous; but not one appeared. A pair of birds
occasionally skimmed over the desert, at a short distance from
its surface; but those were the only specimens of wild animals we
encountered. The skeletons of camels occurred as frequently as before;
many nearly entire, others with their bones scattered abroad, but
whether borne by the winds, or by some savage beast, we could not
learn. Neither could we discover whether the deaths of these poor
animals had been recent or not; for so short a time only is required
in Eastern countries for the insects to anatomize any animal that
may fall in their way, that even supposing that jackalls and hyaenas
should not be attracted to the spot, the ants would make quick work
even of so large a creature as a camel.

There were hills in the back ground, which might probably shelter
vultures, kites, and the family of quadrupeds that feed upon offal,
and much did I desire to mount a high trotting camel, and take a
scamper amongst these hills--obliged to content myself with jogging
soberly on with my party, I was fain to find amusement in the
contemplation of a cavalcade, the like of which will probably not
be often seen again. Our five vehicles sometimes trotted abreast,
affording us an opportunity of conversing with each other; but more
frequently they would spread themselves all over the plain, the guides
allowing their beasts to take their own way, provided they moved
straight forward. Occasionally, a spare donkey, or one carrying the
baggage, would stray off in an oblique direction, and then the drivers
were compelled to make a wide detour to bring them in again. Once
or twice, the ropes slipped, and my chair came to the ground;
fortunately, it had not to fall far; or a donkey would stumble and
fall, but no serious accident occurred; and though one of the party,
being behind, and unable to procure assistance in righting the
carriage, was obliged to walk a mile or two, we were all speedily in
proper trim again. Towards evening, the easy motion of the chair, and
the inclination I felt to close my eyes, after staring about all day,
caused me to fall asleep; and again, much sooner than I had expected,
I found myself at the place of our destination.

Either owing to a want of funds, or to some misunderstanding, the
bungalow at this place, which is considered to be nearly midway across
the desert, had only been raised a few inches from the ground; there
were tents, however, for the accommodation of travellers, which we
infinitely preferred. The one we occupied was of sufficient size to
admit the whole party--that is, the four ladies, the baby, and its
female attendant. There were divans on either side, to spread the beds
upon, and the openings at each end made the whole delightfully cool.

We found Ali, the servant sent on in the morning, very busy
superintending the cookery for dinner, which was performed in the open
air. The share of bread and apples given to me upon the road I now
bestowed upon my donkeys, not having reflected at the time that
the drivers would be glad of it; so the next day, when the usual
distributions were made, I gave the grapes, &c. to the donkey-men,
who stuffed them into their usual repository, the bosoms of their blue
shirts, and seemed very well pleased to get them.

The adjoining tent was occupied by two gentlemen, passengers of the
_Berenice_; their servant, a European, brought to some of our people
the alarming intelligence that the steamers would leave Suez in the
course of a few hours, and that our utmost speed would scarcely permit
us to arrive in time. Distrusting this information, we sent to inquire
into its truth, and learned that no danger of the kind was to be
apprehended, as the steamer required repair, the engines being out of
order, and the coal having ignited twice on the voyage up the Red Sea.

Whatever may be the cause, whether from sheer misconception or
an intention to mislead, it is almost impossible to rely upon any
intelligence given concerning the sailing of vessels and other
events, about which it would appear very possible to obtain authentic
information. From the time of our landing at Alexandria, we had been
tormented by reports which, if true, rendered it more than probable
that we should be too late for the steamer appointed to convey the
Government mails to Bombay. Not one of these reports turned out to be
correct, and those who acted upon them sustained much discomfort in
hurrying across the desert.

We were, as usual, rather late the following morning; our dear little
play-thing, the baby, bore the journey wonderfully; but it seemed very
requisite that she should have good and unbroken sleep at night, and
we found so little inconvenience in travelling in the day-time, that
we could make no objection to an arrangement which contributed so much
to her health and comfort. It was delightful to see this lovely little
creature actually appearing to enjoy the scene as much as ourselves;
sometimes seated in the lap of her nurse, who travelled in a chair,
at others at the bottom of one of our chairs; then in the arms of
her male attendant, who rode a donkey, or in those of the donkey-men,
trudging on foot; she went to every body, crowing and laughing all the
time; and I mention her often, not only for the delight she afforded
us, but also to show how very easily infants at her tender age--she
was not more than seven months old--could be transported across the

After breakfast, and just as we were about to start upon our day's
journey, we saw what must certainly be called a strange sight--a
wheeled carriage approaching our small encampment. It came along like
the wind, and proved to be a phaeton, double-bodied, that is, with a
driving-seat in front, with a European charioteer guiding a pair of
horses as the wheelers, while the leaders were camels, with an Arab
riding postillion. An English and a Parsee gentleman were inside, and
the carriage was scarcely in sight, before it had stopped in the midst
of us. The party had only been a few hours coming across. We hastily
exchanged intelligence; were told that the _Berenice_ had lost all
its speed, being reduced, in consequence of alterations made in the
dock-yard in Bombay, from twelve knots an hour to eight, and that the
engines had never worked well during the voyage up.

During this day's journey, we met several parties, passengers of the
steamer, coming from Suez. One lady passed us in a donkey-chair, with
her daughter riding a donkey by the side; another group, consisting
of two ladies and several gentlemen, were all mounted upon camels,
and having large umbrellas over their heads, made an exceedingly odd
appearance, the peculiar gait of the camel causing them to rise and
fall in a very singular manner. At a distance, their round moving
summits looked like the umbrageous tops of trees, and we might fancy
as they approached, the lower portion being hidden by ridges of sand,
that "Birnam Wood was coming to Dunsinane."

The monotony usually complained of in desert travelling cannot be very
strongly felt between Cairo and Suez, for though there is little else
but sand to be seen, yet it is so much broken and undulated, that
there is always some diversity of objects. The sand-hills now gave
place to rock, and it appeared as if many ranges of hills stretched
out both to the right and left of the plains we traversed; their crags
and peaks, piled one upon the other, and showing various colours, rich
browns and purples, as they stood in shade or sunshine. Greenish tints
assured us that vegetation was not quite so seamy upon these hills
as in the desert they skirted, which only showed at intervals a few
coarse plants, scarcely deserving the name. It has been said, that
there is only one tree between Cairo and Suez; but we certainly
saw several, though none of any size; that which is called, _par
excellence_, "the tree," affording a very poor idea of timber.

We made a short rest, in the middle of the day, at a travellers'
bungalow; and just as we were leaving it, one of Mr. Hill's caravans
arrived--a tilted cart upon springs, and drawn by a pair of horses;
it contained a family, passengers by the _Berenice,_ consisting of a
gentleman and his wife, two children and a servant. We conversed with
them for a few minutes, and learned that they had not found the
road very rough, and that where it was heavy they added a camel as a

At this place we found some difficulty in purchasing, water for
the donkeys; competition in the desert is not, as in other places,
beneficial to the traveller. By some understanding with the Steam
Committee, Mr. Hill has put his people into the bungalows; and they,
it appears, have orders not to sell water to persons who travel under
Mr. Waghorn's agency. If the original purpose of these houses was to
afford general accommodation, the shelter which cannot be refused
is rendered nugatory by withholding the supplies necessary for the
subsistence of men and cattle. We procured water at last; but every
thing attainable at these places is dear and bad.

We arrived, at rather an early hour, at our halting place for the
night; and as we considered it to be desirable to get into Suez as
speedily as possible, we agreed to start by three o'clock on the
following morning. Just as we had finished our evening meal, three
gentlemen of our acquaintance, who had scrambled across the desert
from the Pyramids, came up, weary and wayworn, and as hungry as
possible. We put the best that we had before them, and then retired
to the opposite apartment. But in this place I found it impossible to
stay; there was no free circulation of air throughout the room, and
it had all the benefit of the smell from the stable and other

Leaving, therefore, my companions asleep, and wrapping myself up in
my shawl, I stole out into the passage, where there were several Arabs
lying about, and not without difficulty contrived to step between
them, and to unfasten the door which opened upon the desert. There
was no moon, but the stars gave sufficient light to render the scene
distinctly visible. A lamp gleamed from the window of the apartment
which I had quitted, and the camels, donkeys, and people belonging
to the united parties, formed themselves into very picturesque groups
upon the sand, constituting altogether a picture which could not fail
to excite many agreeable sensations. The whitened bones of animals
perishing from fatigue and thirst, while attempting to cross the arid
expanse, associated in our minds with privation, toil, and danger,
told too truly that these notions were not purely ideal; but here
was a scene of rest and repose which the desert had never before
presented; and mean and inconvenient as the building I contemplated
might be, its very existence in such a place seemed almost a marvel,
and the imagination, kindling at the sight, could scarcely set bounds
to its expectations for the future. In the present frame of my mind,
however, I was rather disturbed by the indications of change already
commenced, and still to increase. I had long desired to spend a night
alone upon the desert, and without wandering to a dangerous distance,
I placed a ridge of sand between my solitary station and the objects
which brought the busy world to view, and indulged in thoughts of
scenes and circumstances which happened long ago.

According to the best authorities, we were in the track of the

Book of the day: