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Notes on a Journey from Cornhill to Grand Cairo by William Makepeace Thackeray

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This etext was prepared by David Price, email ccx074@coventry.ac.uk
from the 1911 John Murray edition.

Notes on a Journey from Cornhill to Grand Cairo

by William Makepeace Thackeray



My Dear Lewis,

After a voyage, during which the captain of the ship has displayed
uncommon courage, seamanship, affability, or other good qualities,
grateful passengers often present him with a token of their esteem,
in the shape of teapots, tankards, trays, &c. of precious metal.
Among authors, however, bullion is a much rarer commodity than
paper, whereof I beg you to accept a little in the shape of this
small volume. It contains a few notes of a voyage which your skill
and kindness rendered doubly pleasant; and of which I don't think
there is any recollection more agreeable than that it was the
occasion of making your friendship.

If the noble Company in whose service you command (and whose fleet
alone makes them a third-rate maritime power in Europe) should
appoint a few admirals in their navy, I hope to hear that your flag
is hoisted on board one of the grandest of their steamers. But, I
trust, even there you will not forget the "Iberia," and the
delightful Mediterranean cruise we had in her in the Autumn of

Most faithfully yours,
My dear Lewis,
LONDON: December 24, 1845.


On the 20th of August, 1844, the writer of this little book went to
dine at the--Club, quite unconscious of the wonderful events which
Fate had in store for him.

Mr. William was there, giving a farewell dinner to his friend Mr.
James (now Sir James). These two asked Mr. Titmarsh to join
company with them, and the conversation naturally fell upon the
tour Mr. James was about to take. The Peninsular and Oriental
Company had arranged an excursion in the Mediterranean, by which,
in the space of a couple of months, as many men and cities were to
be seen as Ulysses surveyed and noted in ten years. Malta, Athens,
Smyrna, Constantinople, Jerusalem, Cairo were to be visited, and
everybody was to be back in London by Lord Mayor's Day.

The idea of beholding these famous places inflamed Mr. Titmarsh's
mind; and the charms of such a journey were eloquently impressed
upon him by Mr. James. "Come," said that kind and hospitable
gentleman, "and make one of my family party; in all your life you
will never probably have a chance again to see so much in so short
a time. Consider--it is as easy as a journey to Paris or to
Baden." Mr. Titmarsh considered all these things; but also the
difficulties of the situation: he had but six-and-thirty hours to
get ready for so portentous a journey--he had engagements at home--
finally, could he afford it? In spite of these objections,
however, with every glass of claret the enthusiasm somehow rose,
and the difficulties vanished.

But when Mr. James, to crown all, said he had no doubt that his
friends, the Directors of the Peninsular and Oriental Company,
would make Mr. Titmarsh the present of a berth for the voyage, all
objections ceased on his part: to break his outstanding
engagements--to write letters to his amazed family, stating that
they were not to expect him at dinner on Saturday fortnight, as he
would be at Jerusalem on that day--to purchase eighteen shirts and
lay in a sea stock of Russia ducks,--was the work of four-and-
twenty hours; and on the 22nd of August, the "Lady Mary Wood" was
sailing from Southampton with the "subject of the present memoir,"
quite astonished to find himself one of the passengers on board.

These important statements are made partly to convince some
incredulous friends--who insist still that the writer never went
abroad at all, and wrote the following pages, out of pure fancy, in
retirement at Putney; but mainly, to give him an opportunity of
thanking the Directors of the Company in question for a delightful

It was one so easy, so charming, and I think profitable--it leaves
such a store of pleasant recollections for after days--and creates
so many new sources of interest (a newspaper letter from Beyrout,
or Malta, or Algiers, has twice the interest now that it had
formerly),--that I can't but recommend all persons who have time
and means to make a similar journey--vacation idlers to extend
their travels and pursue it: above all, young well-educated men
entering life, to take this course, we will say, after that at
college; and, having their book-learning fresh in their minds, see
the living people and their cities, and the actual aspect of
Nature, along the famous shores of the Mediterranean.


The sun brought all the sick people out of their berths this
morning, and the indescribable moans and noises which had been
issuing from behind the fine painted doors on each side of the
cabin happily ceased. Long before sunrise, I had the good fortune
to discover that it was no longer necessary to maintain the
horizontal posture, and, the very instant this truth was apparent,
came on deck, at two o'clock in the morning, to see a noble full
moon sinking westward, and millions of the most brilliant stars
shining overhead. The night was so serenely pure, that you saw
them in magnificent airy perspective; the blue sky around and over
them, and other more distant orbs sparkling above, till they
glittered away faintly into the immeasurable distance. The ship
went rolling over a heavy, sweltering, calm sea. The breeze was a
warm and soft one; quite different to the rigid air we had left
behind us, two days since, off the Isle of Wight. The bell kept
tolling its half-hours, and the mate explained the mystery of watch
and dog-watch.

The sight of that noble scene cured all the woes and discomfitures
of sea-sickness at once, and if there were any need to communicate
such secrets to the public, one might tell of much more good that
the pleasant morning-watch effected; but there are a set of
emotions about which a man had best be shy of talking lightly,--and
the feelings excited by contemplating this vast, magnificent,
harmonious Nature are among these. The view of it inspires a
delight and ecstasy which is not only hard to describe, but which
has something secret in it that a man should not utter loudly.
Hope, memory, humility, tender yearnings towards dear friends, and
inexpressible love and reverence towards the Power which created
the infinite universe blazing above eternally, and the vast ocean
shining and rolling around--fill the heart with a solemn humble
happiness, that a person dwelling in a city has rarely occasion to
enjoy. They are coming away from London parties at this time: the
dear little eyes are closed in sleep under mother's wing. How far
off city cares and pleasures appear to be! how small and mean they
seem, dwindling out of sight before this magnificent brightness of
Nature! But the best thoughts only grow and strengthen under it.
Heaven shines above, and the humble spirit looks up reverently
towards that boundless aspect of wisdom and beauty. You are at
home, and with all at rest there, however far away they may be; and
through the distance the heart broods over them, bright and wakeful
like yonder peaceful stars overhead.

The day was as fine and calm as the night; at seven bells, suddenly
a bell began to toll very much like that of a country church, and
on going on deck we found an awning raised, a desk with a flag
flung over it close to the compass, and the ship's company and
passengers assembled there to hear the Captain read the Service in
a manly respectful voice. This, too, was a novel and touching
sight to me. Peaked ridges of purple mountains rose to the left of
the ship,--Finisterre and the coast of Galicia. The sky above was
cloudless and shining; the vast dark ocean smiled peacefully round
about, and the ship went rolling over it, as the people within were
praising the Maker of all.

In honour of the day, it was announced that the passengers would be
regaled with champagne at dinner; and accordingly that exhilarating
liquor was served out in decent profusion, the company drinking the
Captain's health with the customary orations of compliment and
acknowledgment. This feast was scarcely ended, when we found
ourselves rounding the headland into Vigo Bay, passing a grim and
tall island of rocky mountains which lies in the centre of the bay.

Whether it is that the sight of land is always welcome to weary
mariners, after the perils and annoyances of a voyage of three
days, or whether the place is in itself extraordinarily beautiful,
need not be argued; but I have seldom seen anything more charming
than the amphitheatre of noble hills into which the ship now came--
all the features of the landscape being lighted up with a wonderful
clearness of air, which rarely adorns a view in our country. The
sun had not yet set, but over the town and lofty rocky castle of
Vigo a great ghost of a moon was faintly visible, which blazed out
brighter and brighter as the superior luminary retired behind the
purple mountains of the headland to rest. Before the general
background of waving heights which encompassed the bay, rose a
second semicircle of undulating hills, as cheerful and green as the
mountains behind them were grey and solemn. Farms and gardens,
convent towers, white villages and churches, and buildings that no
doubt were hermitages once, upon the sharp peaks of the hills,
shone brightly in the sun. The sight was delightfully cheerful,
animated, and pleasing.

Presently the Captain roared out the magic words, "Stop her!" and
the obedient vessel came to a stand-still, at some three hundred
yards from the little town, with its white houses clambering up a
rock, defended by the superior mountain whereon the castle stands.
Numbers of people, arrayed in various brilliant colours of red,
were standing on the sand close by the tumbling, shining, purple
waves: and there we beheld, for the first time, the Royal red and
yellow standard of Spain floating on its own ground, under the
guardianship of a light blue sentinel, whose musket glittered in
the sun. Numerous boats were seen, incontinently, to put off from
the little shore.

And now our attention was withdrawn from the land to a sight of
great splendour on board. This was Lieutenant Bundy, the guardian
of Her Majesty's mails, who issued from his cabin in his long
swallow-tailed coat with anchor buttons; his sabre clattering
between his legs; a magnificent shirt-collar, of several inches in
height, rising round his good-humoured sallow face; and above it a
cocked hat, that shone so, I thought it was made of polished tin
(it may have been that or oilskin), handsomely laced with black
worsted, and ornamented with a shining gold cord. A little squat
boat, rowed by three ragged gallegos, came bouncing up to the ship.
Into this Mr. Bundy and Her Majesty's Royal mail embarked with much
majesty; and in the twinkling of an eye, the Royal standard of
England, about the size of a pocket-handkerchief,--and at the bows
of the boat, the man-of-war's pennant, being a strip of bunting
considerably under the value of a farthing,--streamed out.

"They know that flag, sir," said the good-natured old tar, quite
solemnly, in the evening afterwards: "they respect it, sir." The
authority of Her Majesty's lieutenant on board the steamer is
stated to be so tremendous, that he may order it to stop, to move,
to go larboard, starboard, or what you will; and the captain dare
only disobey him suo periculo.

It was agreed that a party of us should land for half-an-hour, and
taste real Spanish chocolate on Spanish ground. We followed
Lieutenant Bundy, but humbly in the providor's boat; that officer
going on shore to purchase fresh eggs, milk for tea (in place of
the slimy substitute of whipped yolk of egg which we had been using
for our morning and evening meals), and, if possible, oysters, for
which it is said the rocks of Vigo are famous.

It was low tide, and the boat could not get up to the dry shore.
Hence it was necessary to take advantage of the offers of sundry
gallegos, who rushed barelegged into the water, to land on their
shoulders. The approved method seems to be, to sit upon one
shoulder only, holding on by the porter's whiskers; and though some
of our party were of the tallest and fattest men whereof our race
is composed, and their living sedans exceedingly meagre and small,
yet all were landed without accident upon the juicy sand, and
forthwith surrounded by a host of mendicants, screaming, "I say,
sir! penny, sir! I say, English! tam your ays! penny!" in all
voices, from extreme youth to the most lousy and venerable old age.
When it is said that these beggars were as ragged as those of
Ireland, and still more voluble, the Irish traveller will be able
to form an opinion of their capabilities.

Through this crowd we passed up some steep rocky steps, through a
little low gate, where, in a little guard-house and barrack, a few
dirty little sentinels were keeping a dirty little guard; and by
low-roofed whitewashed houses, with balconies, and women in them,--
the very same women, with the very same head-clothes, and yellow
fans and eyes, at once sly and solemn, which Murillo painted,--by a
neat church into which we took a peep, and, finally, into the Plaza
del Constitucion, or grand place of the town, which may be about as
big as that pleasing square, Pump Court, Temple. We were taken to
an inn, of which I forget the name, and were shown from one chamber
and storey to another, till we arrived at that apartment where the
real Spanish chocolate was finally to be served out. All these
rooms were as clean as scrubbing and whitewash could make them;
with simple French prints (with Spanish titles) on the walls; a few
rickety half-finished articles of furniture; and, finally, an air
of extremely respectable poverty. A jolly, black-eyed, yellow-
shawled Dulcinea conducted us through the apartment, and provided
us with the desired refreshment.

Sounds of clarions drew our eyes to the Place of the Constitution;
and, indeed, I had forgotten to say, that that majestic square was
filled with military, with exceedingly small firelocks, the men
ludicrously young and diminutive for the most part, in a uniform at
once cheap and tawdry,--like those supplied to the warriors at
Astley's, or from still humbler theatrical wardrobes: indeed, the
whole scene was just like that of a little theatre; the houses
curiously small, with arcades and balconies, out of which looked
women apparently a great deal too big for the chambers they
inhabited; the warriors were in ginghams, cottons, and tinsel; the
officers had huge epaulets of sham silver lace drooping over their
bosoms, and looked as if they were attired at a very small expense.
Only the general--the captain-general (Pooch, they told us, was his
name: I know not how 'tis written in Spanish)--was well got up,
with a smart hat, a real feather, huge stars glittering on his
portly chest, and tights and boots of the first order. Presently,
after a good deal of trumpeting, the little men marched off the
place, Pooch and his staff coming into the very inn in which we
were awaiting our chocolate.

Then we had an opportunity of seeing some of the civilians of the
town. Three or four ladies passed, with fan and mantle; to them
came three or four dandies, dressed smartly in the French fashion,
with strong Jewish physiognomies. There was one, a solemn lean
fellow in black, with his collars extremely turned over, and
holding before him a long ivory-tipped ebony cane, who tripped
along the little place with a solemn smirk, which gave one an
indescribable feeling of the truth of "Gil Blas," and of those
delightful bachelors and licentiates who have appeared to us all in
our dreams.

In fact we were but half-an-hour in this little queer Spanish town;
and it appeared like a dream, too, or a little show got up to amuse
us. Boom! the gun fired at the end of the funny little
entertainment. The women and the balconies, the beggars and the
walking Murillos, Pooch and the little soldiers in tinsel,
disappeared, and were shut up in their box again. Once more we
were carried on the beggars' shoulders out off the shore, and we
found ourselves again in the great stalwart roast-beef world; the
stout British steamer bearing out of the bay, whose purple waters
had grown more purple. The sun had set by this time, and the moon
above was twice as big and bright as our degenerate moons are.

The providor had already returned with his fresh stores, and
Bundy's tin hat was popped into its case, and he walking the deck
of the packet denuded of tails. As we went out of the bay,
occurred a little incident with which the great incidents of the
day may be said to wind up. We saw before us a little vessel,
tumbling and plunging about in the dark waters of the bay, with a
bright light beaming from the mast. It made for us at about a
couple of miles from the town, and came close up, flouncing and
bobbing in the very jaws of the paddle, which looked as if it would
have seized and twirled round that little boat and its light, and
destroyed them for ever and ever. All the passengers, of course,
came crowding to the ship's side to look at the bold little boat.

"I SAY!" howled a man; "I say!--a word!--I say! Pasagero!
Pasagero! Pasage-e-ero!" We were two hundred yards ahead by this

"Go on," says the captain.

"You may stop if you like," says Lieutenant Bundy, exerting his
tremendous responsibility. It is evident that the lieutenant has a
soft heart, and felt for the poor devil in the boat who was howling
so piteously "Pasagero!"

But the captain was resolute. His duty was NOT to take the man up.
He was evidently an irregular customer--someone trying to escape,

The lieutenant turned away, but did not make any further hints.
The captain was right; but we all felt somehow disappointed, and
looked back wistfully at the little boat, jumping up and down far
astern now; the poor little light shining in vain, and the poor
wretch within screaming out in the most heartrending accents a last
faint desperate "I say! Pasagero-o!"

We all went down to tea rather melancholy; but the new milk, in the
place of that abominable whipped egg, revived us again; and so
ended the great events on board the "Lady Mary Wood" steamer, on
the 25th August, 1844.


A great misfortune which befalls a man who has but a single day to
stay in a town, is that fatal duty which superstition entails upon
him of visiting the chief lions of the city in which he may happen
to be. You must go through the ceremony, however much you may sigh
to avoid it; and however much you know that the lions in one
capital roar very much like the lions in another; that the churches
are more or less large and splendid, the palaces pretty spacious,
all the world over; and that there is scarcely a capital city in
this Europe but has its pompous bronze statue or two of some
periwigged, hook-nosed emperor, in a Roman habit, waving his bronze
baton on his broad-flanked brazen charger. We only saw these state
old lions in Lisbon, whose roar has long since ceased to frighten
one. First we went to the Church of St. Roch, to see a famous
piece of mosaic-work there. It is a famous work of art, and was
bought by I don't know what king for I don't know how much money.
All this information may be perfectly relied on, though the fact
is, we did not see the mosaic-work: the sacristan, who guards it,
was yet in bed; and it was veiled from our eyes in a side-chapel by
great dirty damask curtains, which could not be removed, except
when the sacristan's toilette was done, and at the price of a
dollar. So we were spared this mosaic exhibition; and I think I
always feel relieved when such an event occurs. I feel I have done
my duty in coming to see the enormous animal: if he is not at
home, virtute mea me, &c.--we have done our best, and mortal can do
no more.

In order to reach that church of the forbidden mosaic, we had
sweated up several most steep and dusty streets--hot and dusty,
although it was but nine o'clock in the morning. Thence the guide
conducted us into some little dust-powdered gardens, in which the
people make believe to enjoy the verdure, and whence you look over
a great part of the arid, dreary, stony city. There was no smoke,
as in honest London, only dust--dust over the gaunt houses and the
dismal yellow strips of gardens. Many churches were there, and
tall half-baked-looking public edifices, that had a dry,
uncomfortable, earth-quaky look, to my idea. The ground-floors of
the spacious houses by which we passed seemed the coolest and
pleasantest portions of the mansion. They were cellars or
warehouses, for the most part, in which white-jacketed clerks sat
smoking easy cigars. The streets were plastered with placards of a
bull-fight, to take place the next evening (there was no opera that
season); but it was not a real Spanish tauromachy--only a
theatrical combat, as you could see by the picture in which the
horseman was cantering off at three miles an hour, the bull
tripping after him with tips to his gentle horns. Mules
interminable, and almost all excellently sleek and handsome, were
pacing down every street: here and there, but later in the day,
came clattering along a smart rider on a prancing Spanish horse;
and in the afternoon a few families might be seen in the queerest
old-fashioned little carriages, drawn by their jolly mules and
swinging between, or rather before, enormous wheels.

The churches I saw were of the florid periwig architecture--I mean
of that pompous cauliflower kind of ornament which was the fashion
in Louis the Fifteenth's time, at which unlucky period a building
mania seems to have seized upon many of the monarchs of Europe, and
innumerable public edifices were erected. It seems to me to have
been the period in all history when society was the least natural,
and perhaps the most dissolute; and I have always fancied that the
bloated artificial forms of the architecture partake of the social
disorganisation of the time. Who can respect a simpering ninny,
grinning in a Roman dress and a full-bottomed wig, who is made to
pass off for a hero? or a fat woman in a hoop, and of a most
doubtful virtue, who leers at you as a goddess? In the palaces
which we saw, several Court allegories were represented, which,
atrocious as they were in point of art, might yet serve to attract
the regard of the moraliser. There were Faith, Hope, and Charity
restoring Don John to the arms of his happy Portugal: there were
Virtue, Valour, and Victory saluting Don Emanuel: Reading,
Writing, and Arithmetic (for what I know, or some mythologic
nymphs) dancing before Don Miguel--the picture is there still, at
the Ajuda; and ah me! where is poor Mig? Well, it is these State
lies and ceremonies that we persist in going to see; whereas a man
would have a much better insight into Portuguese manners, by
planting himself at a corner, like yonder beggar, and watching the
real transactions of the day.

A drive to Belem is the regular route practised by the traveller
who has to make only a short stay, and accordingly a couple of
carriages were provided for our party, and we were driven through
the long merry street of Belem, peopled by endless strings of
mules,--by thousands of gallegos, with water-barrels on their
shoulders, or lounging by the fountains to hire,--by the Lisbon and
Belem omnibuses, with four mules, jingling along at a good pace;
and it seemed to me to present a far more lively and cheerful,
though not so regular, an appearance as the stately quarters of the
city we had left behind us. The little shops were at full work--
the men brown, well-dressed, manly, and handsome: so much cannot,
I am sorry to say, be said for the ladies, of whom, with every
anxiety to do so, our party could not perceive a single good-
looking specimen all day. The noble blue Tagus accompanies you all
along these three miles of busy pleasant street, whereof the chief
charm, as I thought, was its look of genuine business--that
appearance of comfort which the cleverest Court-architect never
knows how to give.

The carriages (the canvas one with four seats and the chaise in
which I drove) were brought suddenly up to a gate with the Royal
arms over it; and here we were introduced to as queer an exhibition
as the eye has often looked on. This was the state-carriage house,
where there is a museum of huge old tumble-down gilded coaches of
the last century, lying here, mouldy and dark, in a sort of limbo.
The gold has vanished from the great lumbering old wheels and
panels; the velvets are wofully tarnished. When one thinks of the
patches and powder that have simpered out of those plate-glass
windows--the mitred bishops, the big-wigged marshals, the shovel-
hatted abbes which they have borne in their time--the human mind
becomes affected in no ordinary degree. Some human minds heave a
sigh for the glories of bygone days; while others, considering
rather the lies and humbug, the vice and servility, which went
framed and glazed and enshrined, creaking along in those old
Juggernaut cars, with fools worshipping under the wheels, console
themselves for the decay of institutions that may have been
splendid and costly, but were ponderous, clumsy, slow, and unfit
for daily wear. The guardian of these defunct old carriages tells
some prodigious fibs concerning them: he pointed out one carriage
that was six hundred years old in his calendar; but any connoisseur
in bric-a-brac can see it was built at Paris in the Regent Orleans'

Hence it is but a step to an institution in full life and vigour,--
a noble orphan-school for one thousand boys and girls, founded by
Don Pedro, who gave up to its use the superb convent of Belem, with
its splendid cloisters, vast airy dormitories, and magnificent
church. Some Oxford gentlemen would have wept to see the
desecrated edifice,--to think that the shaven polls and white gowns
were banished from it to give place to a thousand children, who
have not even the clergy to instruct them. "Every lad here may
choose his trade," our little informant said, who addressed us in
better French than any of our party spoke, whose manners were
perfectly gentlemanlike and respectful, and whose clothes, though
of a common cotton stuff, were cut and worn with a military
neatness and precision. All the children whom we remarked were
dressed with similar neatness, and it was a pleasure to go through
their various rooms for study, where some were busy at mathematics,
some at drawing, some attending a lecture on tailoring, while
others were sitting at the feet of a professor of the science of
shoemaking. All the garments of the establishment were made by the
pupils; even the deaf and dumb were drawing and reading, and the
blind were, for the most part, set to perform on musical
instruments, and got up a concert for the visitors. It was then we
wished ourselves of the numbers of the deaf and dumb, for the poor
fellows made noises so horrible, that even as blind beggars they
could hardly get a livelihood in the musical way.

Hence we were driven to the huge palace of Necessidades, which is
but a wing of a building that no King of Portugal ought ever to be
rich enough to complete, and which, if perfect, might outvie the
Tower of Babel. The mines of Brazil must have been productive of
gold and silver indeed when the founder imagined this enormous
edifice. From the elevation on which it stands it commands the
noblest views,--the city is spread before it, with its many
churches and towers, and for many miles you see the magnificent
Tagus, rolling by banks crowned with trees and towers. But to
arrive at this enormous building you have to climb a steep suburb
of wretched huts, many of them with dismal gardens of dry cracked
earth, where a few reedy sprouts of Indian corn seemed to be the
chief cultivation, and which were guarded by huge plants of spiky
aloes, on which the rags of the proprietors of the huts were
sunning themselves. The terrace before the palace was similarly
encroached upon by these wretched habitations. A few millions
judiciously expended might make of this arid hill one of the most
magnificent gardens in the world; and the palace seems to me to
excel for situation any Royal edifice I have ever seen. But the
huts of these swarming poor have crawled up close to its gates,--
the superb walls of hewn stone stop all of a sudden with a lath-
and-plaster hitch; and capitals, and hewn stones for columns, still
lying about on the deserted terrace, may lie there for ages to
come, probably, and never take their places by the side of their
brethren in yonder tall bankrupt galleries. The air of this pure
sky has little effect upon the edifices,--the edges of the stone
look as sharp as if the builders had just left their work; and
close to the grand entrance stands an outbuilding, part of which
may have been burnt fifty years ago, but is in such cheerful
preservation that you might fancy the fire had occurred yesterday.
It must have been an awful sight from this hill to have looked at
the city spread before it, and seen it reeling and swaying in the
time of the earthquake. I thought it looked so hot and shaky, that
one might fancy a return of the fit. In several places still
remain gaps and chasms, and ruins lie here and there as they
cracked and fell.

Although the palace has not attained anything like its full growth,
yet what exists is quite big enough for the monarch of such a
little country; and Versailles or Windsor has not apartments more
nobly proportioned. The Queen resides in the Ajuda, a building of
much less pretensions, of which the yellow walls and beautiful
gardens are seen between Belem and the city. The Necessidades are
only used for grand galas, receptions of ambassadors, and
ceremonies of state. In the throne-room is a huge throne,
surmounted by an enormous gilt crown, than which I have never seen
anything larger in the finest pantomime at Drury Lane; but the
effect of this splendid piece is lessened by a shabby old Brussels
carpet, almost the only other article of furniture in the
apartment, and not quite large enough to cover its spacious floor.
The looms of Kidderminster have supplied the web which ornaments
the "Ambassadors' Waiting-Room," and the ceilings are painted with
huge allegories in distemper, which pretty well correspond with the
other furniture. Of all the undignified objects in the world, a
palace out at elbows is surely the meanest. Such places ought not
to be seen in adversity,--splendour is their decency,--and when no
longer able to maintain it, they should sink to the level of their
means, calmly subside into manufactories, or go shabby in

There is a picture-gallery belonging to the palace that is quite of
a piece with the furniture, where are the mythological pieces
relative to the kings before alluded to, and where the English
visitor will see some astonishing pictures of the Duke of
Wellington, done in a very characteristic style of Portuguese art.
There is also a chapel, which has been decorated with much care and
sumptuousness of ornament--the altar surmounted by a ghastly and
horrible carved figure in the taste of the time when faith was
strengthened by the shrieks of Jews on the rack, and enlivened by
the roasting of heretics. Other such frightful images may be seen
in the churches of the city; those which we saw were still rich,
tawdry, and splendid to outward show, although the French, as
usual, had robbed their shrines of their gold and silver, and the
statues of their jewels and crowns. But brass and tinsel look to
the visitor full as well at a little distance,--as doubtless Soult
and Junot thought, when they despoiled these places of worship,
like French philosophers as they were.

A friend, with a classical turn of mind, was bent upon seeing the
aqueduct, whither we went on a dismal excursion of three hours, in
the worst carriages, over the most diabolical clattering roads, up
and down dreary parched hills, on which grew a few grey olive-trees
and many aloes. When we arrived, the gate leading to the aqueduct
was closed, and we were entertained with a legend of some
respectable character who had made a good livelihood there for some
time past lately, having a private key to this very aqueduct, and
lying in wait there for unwary travellers like ourselves, whom he
pitched down the arches into the ravines below, and there robbed
them at leisure. So that all we saw was the door and the tall
arches of the aqueduct, and by the time we returned to town it was
time to go on board the ship again. If the inn at which we had
sojourned was not of the best quality, the bill, at least, would
have done honour to the first establishment in London. We all left
the house of entertainment joyfully, glad to get out of the sun-
burnt city and go HOME. Yonder in the steamer was home, with its
black funnel and gilt portraiture of "Lady Mary Wood" at the bows;
and every soul on board felt glad to return to the friendly little
vessel. But the authorities of Lisbon, however, are very
suspicious of the departing stranger, and we were made to lie an
hour in the river before the Sanita boat, where a passport is
necessary to be procured before the traveller can quit the country.
Boat after boat laden with priests and peasantry, with handsome
red-sashed gallegos clad in brown, and ill-favoured women, came and
got their permits, and were off, as we lay bumping up against the
old hull of the Sanita boat; but the officers seemed to take a
delight in keeping us there bumping, looked at us quite calmly over
the ship's sides, and smoked their cigars without the least
attention to the prayers which we shrieked out for release.

If we were glad to get away from Lisbon, we were quite as sorry to
be obliged to quit Cadiz, which we reached the next night, and
where we were allowed a couple of hours' leave to land and look
about. It seemed as handsome within as it is stately without; the
long narrow streets of an admirable cleanliness, many of the tall
houses of rich and noble decorations, and all looking as if the
city were in full prosperity. I have seen no more cheerful and
animated sight than the long street leading from the quay where we
were landed, and the market blazing in sunshine, piled with fruit,
fish, and poultry, under many-coloured awnings; the tall white
houses with their balconies and galleries shining round about, and
the sky above so blue that the best cobalt in all the paint-box
looks muddy and dim in comparison to it. There were pictures for a
year in that market-place--from the copper-coloured old hags and
beggars who roared to you for the love of Heaven to give money, to
the swaggering dandies of the market, with red sashes and tight
clothes, looking on superbly, with a hand on the hip and a cigar in
the mouth. These must be the chief critics at the great bull-fight
house yonder by the Alameda, with its scanty trees, and cool
breezes facing the water. Nor are there any corks to the bulls'
horns here, as at Lisbon. A small old English guide who seized
upon me the moment my foot was on shore, had a store of agreeable
legends regarding the bulls, men, and horses that had been killed
with unbounded profusion in the late entertainments which have
taken place.

It was so early an hour in the morning that the shops were scarcely
opened as yet; the churches, however, stood open for the faithful,
and we met scores of women tripping towards them with pretty feet,
and smart black mantillas, from which looked out fine dark eyes and
handsome pale faces, very different from the coarse brown
countenances we had seen at Lisbon. A very handsome modern
cathedral, built by the present bishop at his own charges, was the
finest of the public edifices we saw; it was not, however, nearly
so much frequented as another little church, crowded with altars
and fantastic ornaments, and lights and gilding, where we were told
to look behind a huge iron grille, and beheld a bevy of black nuns
kneeling. Most of the good ladies in the front ranks stopped their
devotions, and looked at the strangers with as much curiosity as we
directed at them through the gloomy bars of their chapel. The
men's convents are closed; that which contains the famous Murillos
has been turned into an academy of the fine arts; but the English
guide did not think the pictures were of sufficient interest to
detain strangers, and so hurried us back to the shore, and grumbled
at only getting three shillings at parting for his trouble and his
information. And so our residence in Andalusia began and ended
before breakfast, and we went on board and steamed for Gibraltar,
looking, as we passed, at Joinville's black squadron, and the white
houses of St. Mary's across the bay, with the hills of Medina
Sidonia and Granada lying purple beyond them. There's something
even in those names which is pleasant to write down; to have passed
only two hours in Cadiz is something--to have seen real donnas with
comb and mantle--real caballeros with cloak and cigar--real Spanish
barbers lathering out of brass basins--and to have heard guitars
under the balconies: there was one that an old beggar was jangling
in the market, whilst a huge leering fellow in bushy whiskers and a
faded velvet dress came singing and jumping after our party,--not
singing to a guitar, it is true, but imitating one capitally with
his voice, and cracking his fingers by way of castanets, and
performing a dance such as Figaro or Lablache might envy. How
clear that fellow's voice thrums on the ear even now; and how
bright and pleasant remains the recollection of the fine city and
the blue sea, and the Spanish flags floating on the boats that
danced over it, and Joinville's band beginning to play stirring
marches as we puffed out of the bay.

The next stage was Gibraltar, where we were to change horses.
Before sunset we skirted along the dark savage mountains of the
African coast, and came to the Rock just before gun-fire. It is
the very image of an enormous lion, crouched between the Atlantic
and the Mediterranean, and set there to guard the passage for its
British mistress. The next British lion is Malta, four days
further on in the Midland Sea, and ready to spring upon Egypt or
pounce upon Syria, or roar so as to be heard at Marseilles in case
of need.

To the eyes of the civilian the first-named of these famous
fortifications is by far the most imposing. The Rock looks so
tremendous, that to ascend it, even without the compliment of
shells or shot, seems a dreadful task--what would it be when all
those mysterious lines of batteries were vomiting fire and
brimstone; when all those dark guns that you see poking their grim
heads out of every imaginable cleft and zigzag should salute you
with shot, both hot and cold; and when, after tugging up the
hideous perpendicular place, you were to find regiments of British
grenadiers ready to plunge bayonets into your poor panting stomach,
and let out artificially the little breath left there? It is a
marvel to think that soldiers will mount such places for a
shilling--ensigns for five and ninepence--a day: a cabman would
ask double the money to go half way! One meekly reflects upon the
above strange truths, leaning over the ship's side, and looking up
the huge mountain, from the tower nestled at the foot of it to the
thin flagstaff at the summit, up to which have been piled the most
ingenious edifices for murder Christian science ever adopted. My
hobby-horse is a quiet beast, suited for Park riding, or a gentle
trot to Putney and back to a snug stable, and plenty of feeds of
corn:- it can't abide climbing hills, and is not at all used to
gunpowder. Some men's animals are so spirited that the very
appearance of a stone-wall sets them jumping at it: regular
chargers of hobbies, which snort and say "Ha, ha!" at the mere
notion of a battle.


Our week's voyage is now drawing to a close. We have just been to
look at Cape Trafalgar, shining white over the finest blue sea.
(We, who were looking at Trafalgar Square only the other day!) The
sight of that cape must have disgusted Joinville and his fleet of
steamers, as they passed yesterday into Cadiz bay, and to-morrow
will give them a sight of St. Vincent.

One of their steam-vessels has been lost off the coast of Africa;
they were obliged to burn her, lest the Moors should take
possession of her. She was a virgin vessel, just out of Brest.
Poor innocent! to die in the very first month of her union with the
noble whiskered god of war!

We Britons on board the English boat received the news of the
"Groenenland's" abrupt demise with grins of satisfaction. It was a
sort of national compliment, and cause of agreeable congratulation.
"The lubbers!" we said; "the clumsy humbugs! there's none but
Britons to rule the waves!" and we gave ourselves piratical airs,
and went down presently and were sick in our little buggy berths.
It was pleasant, certainly, to laugh at Joinville's admiral's flag
floating at his foremast, in yonder black ship, with its two
thundering great guns at the bows and stern, its busy crew swarming
on the deck, and a crowd of obsequious shore-boats bustling round
the vessel--and to sneer at the Mogador warrior, and vow that we
English, had we been inclined to do the business, would have
performed it a great deal better.

Now yesterday at Lisbon we saw H.M.S. "Caledonia." THIS, on the
contrary, inspired us with feelings of respect and awful pleasure.
There she lay--the huge sea-castle--bearing the unconquerable flag
of our country. She had but to open her jaws, as it were, and she
might bring a second earthquake on the city--batter it into
kingdom-come--with the Ajuda palace and the Necessidades, the
churches, and the lean, dry, empty streets, and Don John,
tremendous on horseback, in the midst of Black Horse Square.
Wherever we looked we could see that enormous "Caledonia," with her
flashing three lines of guns. We looked at the little boats which
ever and anon came out of this monster, with humble wonder. There
was the lieutenant who boarded us at midnight before we dropped
anchor in the river: ten white-jacketed men pulling as one, swept
along with the barge, gig, boat, curricle, or coach-and-six, with
which he came up to us. We examined him--his red whiskers--his
collars turned down--his duck trousers, his bullion epaulets--with
awe. With the same reverential feeling we examined the seamen--the
young gentleman in the bows of the boat--the handsome young
officers of marines we met sauntering in the town next day--the
Scotch surgeon who boarded us as we weighed anchor--every man, down
to the broken-nosed mariner who was drunk in a wine-house, and had
"Caledonia" written on his hat. Whereas at the Frenchmen we looked
with undisguised contempt. We were ready to burst with laughter as
we passed the Prince's vessel--there was a little French boy in a
French boat alongside cleaning it, and twirling about a little
French mop--we thought it the most comical, contemptible French
boy, mop, boat, steamer, prince--Psha! it is of this wretched
vapouring stuff that false patriotism is made. I write this as a
sort of homily 'a propos of the day, and Cape Trafalgar, off which
we lie. What business have I to strut the deck, and clap my wings,
and cry "Cock-a-doodle-doo" over it? Some compatriots are at that
work even now.

We have lost one by one all our jovial company. There were the
five Oporto wine-merchants--all hearty English gentlemen--gone to
their wine-butts, and their red-legged partridges, and their duels
at Oporto. It appears that these gallant Britons fight every
morning among themselves, and give the benighted people among whom
they live an opportunity to admire the spirit national. There is
the brave honest major, with his wooden leg--the kindest and
simplest of Irishmen: he has embraced his children, and reviewed
his little invalid garrison of fifteen men, in the fort which he
commands at Belem, by this time, and, I have no doubt, played to
every soul of them the twelve tunes of his musical-box. It was
pleasant to see him with that musical-box--how pleased he wound it
up after dinner--how happily he listened to the little clinking
tunes as they galloped, ding-dong, after each other! A man who
carries a musical-box is always a good-natured man.

Then there was his Grace, or his Grandeur, the Archbishop of
Beyrouth (in the parts of the infidels), His Holiness's Nuncio to
the Court of Her Most Faithful Majesty, and who mingled among us
like any simple mortal,--except that he had an extra smiling
courtesy, which simple mortals do not always possess; and when you
passed him as such, and puffed your cigar in his face, took off his
hat with a grin of such prodigious rapture, as to lead you to
suppose that the most delicious privilege of his whole life was
that permission to look at the tip of your nose or of your cigar.
With this most reverend prelate was his Grace's brother and
chaplain--a very greasy and good-natured ecclesiastic, who, from
his physiognomy, I would have imagined to be a dignitary of the
Israelitish rather than the Romish Church--as profuse in smiling
courtesy as his Lordship of Beyrouth. These two had a meek little
secretary between them, and a tall French cook and valet, who, at
meal times, might be seen busy about the cabin where their
reverences lay. They were on their backs for the greater part of
the voyage; their yellow countenances were not only unshaven, but,
to judge from appearances, unwashed. They ate in private; and it
was only of evenings, as the sun was setting over the western wave,
and, comforted by the dinner, the cabin-passengers assembled on the
quarter-deck, that we saw the dark faces of the reverend gentlemen
among us for a while. They sank darkly into their berths when the
steward's bell tolled for tea.

At Lisbon, where we came to anchor at midnight, a special boat came
off, whereof the crew exhibited every token of reverence for the
ambassador of the ambassador of Heaven, and carried him off from
our company. This abrupt departure in the darkness disappointed
some of us, who had promised ourselves the pleasure of seeing his
Grandeur depart in state in the morning, shaved, clean, and in full
pontificals, the tripping little secretary swinging an incense-pot
before him, and the greasy chaplain bearing his crosier.

Next day we had another bishop, who occupied the very same berth
his Grace of Beyrouth had quitted--was sick in the very same way--
so much so that this cabin of the "Lady Mary Wood" is to be
christened "the bishop's berth" henceforth; and a handsome mitre is
to be painted on the basin.

Bishop No. 2 was a very stout, soft, kind-looking old gentleman, in
a square cap, with a handsome tassel of green and gold round his
portly breast and back. He was dressed in black robes and tight
purple stockings: and we carried him from Lisbon to the little
flat coast of Faro, of which the meek old gentleman was the chief

We had not been half-an-hour from our anchorage in the Tagus, when
his Lordship dived down into the episcopal berth. All that night
there was a good smart breeze; it blew fresh all the next day, as
we went jumping over the blue bright sea; and there was no sign of
his Lordship the bishop until we were opposite the purple hills of
Algarve, which lay some ten miles distant,--a yellow sunny shore
stretching flat before them, whose long sandy flats and villages we
could see with our telescope from the steamer.

Presently a little vessel, with a huge shining lateen sail, and
bearing the blue and white Portuguese flag, was seen playing a sort
of leap-frog on the jolly waves, jumping over them, and ducking
down as merry as could be. This little boat came towards the
steamer as quick as ever she could jump; and Captain Cooper roaring
out, "Stop her!" to "Lady Mary Wood," her Ladyship's paddles
suddenly ceased twirling, and news was carried to the good bishop
that his boat was almost alongside, and that his hour was come.

It was rather an affecting sight to see the poor old fat gentleman,
looking wistfully over the water as the boat now came up, and her
eight seamen, with great noise, energy, and gesticulation laid her
by the steamer. The steamer steps were let down; his Lordship's
servant, in blue and yellow livery (like the Edinburgh Review),
cast over the episcopal luggage into the boat, along with his own
bundle and the jack-boots with which he rides postilion on one of
the bishop's fat mules at Faro. The blue and yellow domestic went
down the steps into the boat. Then came the bishop's turn; but he
couldn't do it for a long while. He went from one passenger to
another, sadly shaking them by the hand, often taking leave and
seeming loth to depart, until Captain Cooper, in a stern but
respectful tone, touched him on the shoulder, and said, I know not
with what correctness, being ignorant of the Spanish language,
"Senor 'Bispo! Senor 'Bispo!" on which summons the poor old man,
looking ruefully round him once more, put his square cap under his
arm, tucked up his long black petticoats, so as to show his purple
stockings and jolly fat calves, and went trembling down the steps
towards the boat. The good old man! I wish I had had a shake of
that trembling podgy hand somehow before he went upon his sea
martyrdom. I felt a love for that soft-hearted old Christian. Ah!
let us hope his governante tucked him comfortably in bed when he
got to Faro that night, and made him a warm gruel and put his feet
in warm water. The men clung around him, and almost kissed him as
they popped him into the boat, but he did not heed their caresses.
Away went the boat scudding madly before the wind. Bang! another
lateen-sailed boat in the distance fired a gun in his honour; but
the wind was blowing away from the shore, and who knows when that
meek bishop got home to his gruel?

I think these were the notables of our party. I will not mention
the laughing ogling lady of Cadiz, whose manners, I very much
regret to say, were a great deal too lively for my sense of
propriety; nor those fair sufferers, her companions, who lay on the
deck with sickly, smiling female resignation: nor the heroic
children, who no sooner ate biscuit than they were ill, and no
sooner were ill than they began eating biscuit again: but just
allude to one other martyr, the kind lieutenant in charge of the
mails, and who bore his cross with what I can't but think a very
touching and noble resignation.

There's a certain sort of man whose doom in the world is
disappointment,--who excels in it,--and whose luckless triumphs in
his meek career of life, I have often thought, must be regarded by
the kind eyes above with as much favour as the splendid successes
and achievements of coarser and more prosperous men. As I sat with
the lieutenant upon deck, his telescope laid over his lean legs,
and he looking at the sunset with a pleased, withered old face, he
gave me a little account of his history. I take it he is in nowise
disinclined to talk about it, simple as it is: he has been seven-
and-thirty years in the navy, being somewhat more mature in the
service than Lieutenant Peel, Rear-Admiral Prince de Joinville, and
other commanders who need not be mentioned. He is a very well-
educated man, and reads prodigiously,--travels, histories, lives of
eminent worthies and heroes, in his simple way. He is not in the
least angry at his want of luck in the profession. "Were I a boy
to-morrow," he said, "I would begin it again; and when I see my
schoolfellows, and how they have got on in life, if some are better
off than I am, I find many are worse, and have no call to be
discontented." So he carries Her Majesty's mails meekly through
this world, waits upon port-admirals and captains in his old glazed
hat, and is as proud of the pennon at the bow of his little boat,
as if it were flying from the mainmast of a thundering man-of-war.
He gets two hundred a year for his services, and has an old mother
and a sister living in England somewhere, who I will wager (though
he never, I swear, said a word about it) have a good portion of
this princely income.

Is it breaking a confidence to tell Lieutenant Bundy's history?
Let the motive excuse the deed. It is a good, kind, wholesome, and
noble character. Why should we keep all our admiration for those
who win in this world, as we do, sycophants as we are? When we
write a novel, our great stupid imaginations can go no further than
to marry the hero to a fortune at the end, and to find out that he
is a lord by right. O blundering lickspittle morality! And yet I
would like to fancy some happy retributive Utopia in the peaceful
cloud-land, where my friend the meek lieutenant should find the
yards of his ship manned as he went on board, all the guns firing
an enormous salute (only without the least noise or vile smell of
powder), and he be saluted on the deck as Admiral Sir James, or Sir
Joseph--ay, or Lord Viscount Bundy, knight of all the orders above
the sun.

I think this is a sufficient, if not a complete catalogue of the
worthies on board the "Lady Mary Wood." In the week we were on
board--it seemed a year, by the way--we came to regard the ship
quite as a home. We felt for the captain--the most good-humoured,
active, careful, ready of captains--a filial, a fraternal regard;
for the providor, who provided for us with admirable comfort and
generosity, a genial gratitude; and for the brisk steward's lads--
brisk in serving the banquet, sympathising in handing the basin--
every possible sentiment of regard and good-will. What winds blew,
and how many knots we ran, are all noted down, no doubt, in the
ship's log: and as for what ships we saw--every one of them with
their gunnage, tonnage, their nation, their direction whither they
were bound--were not these all noted down with surprising ingenuity
and precision by the lieutenant, at a family desk at which he sat
every night, before a great paper elegantly and mysteriously ruled
off with his large ruler? I have a regard for every man on board
that ship, from the captain down to the crew--down even to the
cook, with tattooed arms, sweating among the saucepans in the
galley, who used (with a touching affection) to send us locks of
his hair in the soup. And so, while our feelings and recollections
are warm, let us shake hands with this knot of good fellows,
comfortably floating about in their little box of wood and iron,
across Channel, Biscay Bay, and the Atlantic, from Southampton
Water to Gibraltar Straits.


Suppose all the nations of the earth to send fitting ambassadors to
represent them at Wapping or Portsmouth Point, with each, under its
own national signboard and language, its appropriate house of call,
and your imagination may figure the Main Street of Gibraltar:
almost the only part of the town, I believe, which boasts of the
name of street at all, the remaining houserows being modestly
called lanes, such as Bomb Lane, Battery Lane, Fusee Lane, and so
on. In Main Street the Jews predominate, the Moors abound; and
from the "Jolly Sailor," or the brave "Horse Marine," where the
people of our nation are drinking British beer and gin, you hear
choruses of "Garryowen" or "The Lass I left behind me;" while
through the flaring lattices of the Spanish ventas come the clatter
of castanets and the jingle and moan of Spanish guitars and
ditties. It is a curious sight at evening this thronged street,
with the people, in a hundred different costumes, bustling to and
fro under the coarse flare of the lamps; swarthy Moors, in white or
crimson robes; dark Spanish smugglers in tufted hats, with gay silk
handkerchiefs round their heads; fuddled seamen from men-of-war, or
merchantmen; porters, Galician or Genoese; and at every few
minutes' interval, little squads of soldiers tramping to relieve
guard at some one of the innumerable posts in the town.

Some of our party went to a Spanish venta, as a more convenient or
romantic place of residence than an English house; others made
choice of the club-house in Commercial Square, of which I formed an
agreeable picture in my imagination; rather, perhaps, resembling
the Junior United Service Club in Charles Street, by which every
Londoner has passed ere this with respectful pleasure, catching
glimpses of magnificent blazing candelabras, under which sit neat
half-pay officers, drinking half-pints of port. The club-house of
Gibraltar is not, however, of the Charles Street sort: it may have
been cheerful once, and there are yet relics of splendour about it.
When officers wore pigtails, and in the time of Governor O'Hara, it
may have been a handsome place; but it is mouldy and decrepit now;
and though his Excellency, Mr. Bulwer, was living there, and made
no complaints that I heard of, other less distinguished persons
thought they had reason to grumble. Indeed, what is travelling
made of? At least half its pleasures and incidents come out of
inns; and of them the tourist can speak with much more truth and
vivacity than of historical recollections compiled out of
histories, or filched out of handbooks. But to speak of the best
inn in a place needs no apology: that, at least, is useful
information. As every person intending to visit Gibraltar cannot
have seen the flea-bitten countenances of our companions, who fled
from their Spanish venta to take refuge at the club the morning
after our arrival, they may surely be thankful for being directed
to the best house of accommodation in one of the most unromantic,
uncomfortable, and prosaic of towns.

If one had a right to break the sacred confidence of the mahogany,
I could entertain you with many queer stories of Gibraltar life,
gathered from the lips of the gentlemen who enjoyed themselves
round the dingy tablecloth of the club-house coffee-room, richly
decorated with cold gravy and spilt beer. I heard there the very
names of the gentlemen who wrote the famous letters from the
"Warspite" regarding the French proceedings at Mogador; and met
several refugee Jews from that place, who said that they were much
more afraid of the Kabyles without the city than of the guns of the
French squadron, of which they seemed to make rather light. I
heard the last odds on the ensuing match between Captain Smith's b.
g. Bolter, and Captain Brown's ch. c. Roarer: how the gun-room of
Her Majesty's ship "Purgatory" had "cobbed" a tradesman of the
town, and of the row in consequence. I heard capital stories of
the way in which Wilkins had escaped the guard, and Thompson had
been locked up among the mosquitoes for being out after ten without
the lantern. I heard how the governor was an old -, but to say
what, would be breaking a confidence: only this may be divulged,
that the epithet was exceedingly complimentary to Sir Robert
Wilson. All the while these conversations were going on, a strange
scene of noise and bustle was passing in the market-place, in front
of the window, where Moors, Jews, Spaniards, soldiers were
thronging in the sun; and a ragged fat fellow, mounted on a
tobacco-barrel, with his hat cocked on his ear, was holding an
auction, and roaring with an energy and impudence that would have
done credit to Covent Garden.

The Moorish castle is the only building about the Rock which has an
air at all picturesque or romantic; there is a plain Roman Catholic
cathedral, a hideous new Protestant church of the cigar-divan
architecture, and a Court-house with a portico which is said to be
an imitation of the Parthenon: the ancient religions houses of the
Spanish town are gone, or turned into military residences, and
masked so that you would never know their former pious destination.
You walk through narrow whitewashed lanes, bearing such martial
names as are before mentioned, and by-streets with barracks on
either side: small Newgate-like looking buildings, at the doors of
which you may see the sergeants' ladies conversing; or at the open
windows of the officers' quarters, Ensign Fipps lying on his sofa
and smoking his cigar, or Lieutenant Simson practising the flute to
while away the weary hours of garrison dulness. I was surprised
not to find more persons in the garrison library, where is a
magnificent reading-room, and an admirable collection of books.

In spite of the scanty herbage and the dust on the trees, the
Alameda is a beautiful walk; of which the vegetation has been as
laboriously cared for as the tremendous fortifications which flank
it on either side. The vast Rock rises on one side with its
interminable works of defence, and Gibraltar Bay is shining on the
other, out on which from the terraces immense cannon are
perpetually looking, surrounded by plantations of cannon-balls and
beds of bomb-shells, sufficient, one would think, to blow away the
whole peninsula. The horticultural and military mixture is indeed
very queer: here and there temples, rustic summer-seats, &c. have
been erected in the garden, but you are sure to see a great squat
mortar look up from among the flower-pots: and amidst the aloes
and geraniums sprouts the green petticoat and scarlet coat of a
Highlander. Fatigue-parties are seen winding up the hill, and busy
about the endless cannon-ball plantations; awkward squads are
drilling in the open spaces: sentries marching everywhere, and
(this is a caution to artists) I am told have orders to run any man
through who is discovered making a sketch of the place. It is
always beautiful, especially at evening, when the people are
sauntering along the walks, and the moon is shining on the waters
of the bay and the hills and twinkling white houses of the opposite
shore. Then the place becomes quite romantic: it is too dark to
see the dust on the dried leaves; the cannon-balls do not intrude
too much, but have subsided into the shade; the awkward squads are
in bed; even the loungers are gone, the fan-flirting Spanish
ladies, the sallow black-eyed children, and the trim white-jacketed
dandies. A fife is heard from some craft at roost on the quiet
waters somewhere; or a faint cheer from yonder black steamer at the
Mole, which is about to set out on some night expedition. You
forget that the town is at all like Wapping, and deliver yourself
up entirely to romance; the sentries look noble pacing there,
silent in the moonlight, and Sandy's voice is quite musical as he
challenges with a "Who goes there?"

"All's Well" is very pleasant when sung decently in tune, and
inspires noble and poetic ideas of duty, courage, and danger: but
when you hear it shouted all the night through, accompanied by a
clapping of muskets in a time of profound peace, the sentinel's cry
becomes no more romantic to the hearer than it is to the sandy
Connaught-man or the bare-legged Highlander who delivers it. It is
best to read about wars comfortably in Harry Lorrequer or Scott's
novels, in which knights shout their war-cries, and jovial Irish
bayoneteers hurrah, without depriving you of any blessed rest. Men
of a different way of thinking, however, can suit themselves
perfectly at Gibraltar; where there is marching and counter-
marching, challenging and relieving guard all the night through.
And not here in Commercial Square alone, but all over the huge Rock
in the darkness--all through the mysterious zig-zags, and round the
dark cannon-ball pyramids, and along the vast rock-galleries, and
up to the topmost flagstaff, where the sentry can look out over two
seas, poor fellows are marching and clapping muskets, and crying
"All's Well," dressed in cap and feather, in place of honest
nightcaps best befitting the decent hours of sleep.

All these martial noises three of us heard to the utmost advantage,
lying on iron bedsteads at the time in a cracked old room on the
ground-floor, the open windows of which looked into the square. No
spot could be more favourably selected for watching the humours of
a garrison town by night. About midnight, the door hard by us was
visited by a party of young officers, who having had quite as much
drink as was good for them, were naturally inclined for more; and
when we remonstrated through the windows, one of them in a young
tipsy voice asked after our mothers, and finally reeled away. How
charming is the conversation of high-spirited youth! I don't know
whether the guard got hold of them: but certainly if a civilian
had been hiccuping through the streets at that hour, he would have
been carried off to the guard-house, and left to the mercy of the
mosquitoes there, and had up before the Governor in the morning.
The young man in the coffee-room tells me he goes to sleep every
night with the keys of Gibraltar under his pillow. It is an awful
image, and somehow completes the notion of the slumbering fortress.
Fancy Sir Robert Wilson, his nose just visible over the sheets, his
night-cap and the huge key (you see the very identical one in
Reynolds's portrait of Lord Heathfield) peeping out from under the

If I entertain you with accounts of inns and nightcaps it is
because I am more familiar with these subjects than with history
and fortifications: as far as I can understand the former,
Gibraltar is the great British depot for smuggling goods into the
Peninsula. You see vessels lying in the harbour, and are told in
so many words they are smugglers: all those smart Spaniards with
cigar and mantles are smugglers, and run tobaccos and cotton into
Catalonia; all the respected merchants of the place are smugglers.
The other day a Spanish revenue vessel was shot to death under the
thundering great guns of the fort, for neglecting to bring to, but
it so happened that it was in chase of a smuggler: in this little
corner of her dominions Britain proclaims war to custom-houses, and
protection to free trade. Perhaps ere a very long day, England may
be acting that part towards the world, which Gibraltar performs
towards Spain now; and the last war in which we shall ever engage
may be a custom-house war. For once establish railroads and
abolish preventive duties through Europe, and what is there left to
fight for? It will matter very little then under what flag people
live, and foreign ministers and ambassadors may enjoy a dignified
sinecure; the army will rise to the rank of peaceful constables,
not having any more use for their bayonets than those worthy people
have for their weapons now who accompany the law at assizes under
the name of javelin-men. The apparatus of bombs and eighty-four-
pounders may disappear from the Alameda, and the crops of cannon-
balls which now grow there may give place to other plants more
pleasant to the eye; and the great key of Gibraltar may be left in
the gate for anybody to turn at will, and Sir Robert Wilson may
sleep in quiet.

I am afraid I thought it was rather a release, when, having made up
our minds to examine the Rock in detail and view the magnificent
excavations and galleries, the admiration of all military men, and
the terror of any enemies who may attack the fortress, we received
orders to embark forthwith in the "Tagus," which was to early us to
Malta and Constantinople. So we took leave of this famous Rock--
this great blunderbuss--which we seized out of the hands of the
natural owners a hundred and forty years ago, and which we have
kept ever since tremendously loaded and cleaned and ready for use.
To seize and have it is doubtless a gallant thing; it is like one
of those tests of courage which one reads of in the chivalrous
romances, when, for instance, Sir Huon of Bordeaux is called upon
to prove his knighthood by going to Babylon and pulling out the
Sultan's beard and front teeth in the midst of his Court there.
But, after all, justice must confess it was rather hard on the poor
Sultan. If we had the Spaniards established at Land's End, with
impregnable Spanish fortifications on St. Michael's Mount, we
should perhaps come to the same conclusion. Meanwhile let us hope,
during this long period of deprivation, the Sultan of Spain is
reconciled to the loss of his front teeth and bristling whiskers--
let us even try to think that he is better without them. At all
events, right or wrong, whatever may be our title to the property,
there is no Englishman but must think with pride of the manner in
which his countrymen have kept it, and of the courage, endurance,
and sense of duty with which stout old Eliott and his companions
resisted Crillon and the Spanish battering ships and his fifty
thousand men. There seems to be something more noble in the
success of a gallant resistance than of an attack, however brave.
After failing in his attack on the fort, the French General visited
the English Commander who had foiled him, and parted from him and
his garrison in perfect politeness and good-humour. The English
troops, Drinkwater says, gave him thundering cheers as he went
away, and the French in return complimented us on our gallantry,
and lauded the humanity of our people. If we are to go on
murdering each other in the old-fashioned way, what a pity it is
that our battles cannot end in the old-fashioned way too!

One of our fellow-travellers, who had written a book, and had
suffered considerably from sea-sickness during our passage along
the coasts of France and Spain, consoled us all by saying that the
very minute we got into the Mediterranean we might consider
ourselves entirely free from illness; and, in fact, that it was
unheard of in the Inland Sea. Even in the Bay of Gibraltar the
water looked bluer than anything I have ever seen--except Miss
Smith's eyes. I thought, somehow, the delicious faultless azure
never could look angry--just like the eyes before alluded to--and
under this assurance we passed the Strait, and began coasting the
African shore calmly and without the least apprehension, as if we
were as much used to the tempest as Mr. T. P. Cooke.

But when, in spite of the promise of the man who had written the
book, we found ourselves worse than in the worst part of the Bay of
Biscay, or off the storm-lashed rocks of Finisterre, we set down
the author in question as a gross impostor, and had a mind to
quarrel with him for leading us into this cruel error. The most
provoking part of the matter, too, was, that the sky was
deliciously clear and cloudless, the air balmy, the sea so
insultingly blue that it seemed as if we had no right to be ill at
all, and that the innumerable little waves that frisked round about
our keel were enjoying an anerithmon gelasma (this is one of my
four Greek quotations: depend on it I will manage to introduce the
other three before the tour is done)--seemed to be enjoying, I say,
the above-named Greek quotation at our expense. Here is the dismal
log of Wednesday, 4th of September: --"All attempts at dining very
fruitless. Basins in requisition. Wind hard ahead. Que diable
allais-je faire dans cette galere? Writing or thinking impossible:
so read 'Letters from the AEgean.'" These brief words give, I
think, a complete idea of wretchedness, despair, remorse, and
prostration of soul and body. Two days previously we passed the
forts and moles and yellow buildings of Algiers, rising very
stately from the sea, and skirted by gloomy purple lines of African
shore, with fires smoking in the mountains, and lonely settlements
here and there.

On the 5th, to the inexpressible joy of all, we reached Valetta,
the entrance to the harbour of which is one of the most stately and
agreeable scenes ever admired by sea-sick traveller. The small
basin was busy with a hundred ships, from the huge guard-ship,
which lies there a city in itself;--merchantmen loading and crews
cheering, under all the flags of the world flaunting in the
sunshine; a half-score of busy black steamers perpetually coming
and going, coaling and painting, and puffing and hissing in and out
of harbour; slim men-of-war's barges shooting to and fro, with long
shining oars flashing like wings over the water; hundreds of
painted town-boats, with high heads and white awnings,--down to the
little tubs in which some naked, tawny young beggars came paddling
up to the steamer, entreating us to let them dive for halfpence.
Round this busy blue water rise rocks, blazing in sunshine, and
covered with every imaginable device of fortification; to the
right, St. Elmo, with flag and lighthouse; and opposite, the
Military Hospital, looking like a palace; and all round, the houses
of the city, for its size the handsomest and most stately in the

Nor does it disappoint you on a closer inspection, as many a
foreign town does. The streets are thronged with a lively
comfortable-looking population; the poor seem to inhabit handsome
stone palaces, with balconies and projecting windows of heavy
carved stone. The lights and shadows, the cries and stenches, the
fruit-shops and fish-stalls, the dresses and chatter of all
nations; the soldiers in scarlet, and women in black mantillas; the
beggars, boat-men, barrels of pickled herrings and macaroni; the
shovel-hatted priests and bearded capuchins; the tobacco, grapes,
onions, and sunshine; the signboards, bottled-porter stores, the
statues of saints and little chapels which jostle the stranger's
eyes as he goes up the famous stairs from the Water-gate, make a
scene of such pleasant confusion and liveliness as I have never
witnessed before. And the effect of the groups of multitudinous
actors in this busy cheerful drama is heightened, as it were, by
the decorations of the stage. The sky is delightfully brilliant;
all the houses and ornaments are stately; castle and palaces are
rising all around; and the flag, towers, and walls of Fort St. Elmo
look as fresh and magnificent as if they had been erected only

The Strada Reale has a much more courtly appearance than that one
described. Here are palaces, churches, court-houses and libraries,
the genteel London shops, and the latest articles of perfumery.
Gay young officers are strolling about in shell-jackets much too
small for them: midshipmen are clattering by on hired horses;
squads of priests, habited after the fashion of Don Basilio in the
opera, are demurely pacing to and fro; professional beggars run
shrieking after the stranger; and agents for horses, for inns, and
for worse places still, follow him and insinuate the excellence of
their goods. The houses where they are selling carpet-bags and
pomatum were the palaces of the successors of the goodliest company
of gallant knights the world ever heard tell of. It seems
unromantic; but THESE were not the romantic Knights of St. John.
The heroic days of the Order ended as the last Turkish galley
lifted anchor after the memorable siege. The present stately
houses were built in times of peace and splendour and decay. I
doubt whether the Auberge de Provence, where the "Union Club"
flourishes now, has ever seen anything more romantic than the
pleasant balls held in the great room there.

The Church of St. John, not a handsome structure without, is
magnificent within: a noble hall covered with a rich embroidery of
gilded carving, the chapels of the different nations on either
side, but not interfering with the main structure, of which the
whole is simple, and the details only splendid; it seemed to me a
fitting place for this wealthy body of aristocratic soldiers, who
made their devotions as it were on parade, and, though on their
knees, never forgot their epaulets or their quarters of nobility.
This mixture of religion and worldly pride seems incongruous at
first; but have we not at church at home similar relics of feudal
ceremony?--the verger with the silver mace who precedes the vicar
to the desk; the two chaplains of my Lord Archbishop, who bow over
his Grace as he enters the communion-table gate; even poor John,
who follows my Lady with a coroneted prayer-book, and makes his
conge as he hands it into the pew. What a chivalrous absurdity is
the banner of some high and mighty prince, hanging over his stall
in Windsor Chapel, when you think of the purpose for which men are
supposed to assemble there! The Church of the Knights of St. John
is paved over with sprawling heraldic devices of the dead gentlemen
of the dead Order; as if, in the next world, they expected to take
rank in conformity with their pedigrees, and would be marshalled
into heaven according to the orders of precedence. Cumbrous
handsome paintings adorn the walls and chapels, decorated with
pompous monuments of Grand Masters. Beneath is a crypt, where more
of these honourable and reverend warriors lie, in a state that a
Simpson would admire. In the altar are said to lie three of the
most gallant relics in the world: the keys of Acre, Rhodes, and
Jerusalem. What blood was shed in defending these emblems! What
faith, endurance, genius, and generosity; what pride, hatred,
ambition, and savage lust of blood were roused together for their

In the lofty halls and corridors of the Governor's house, some
portraits of the late Grand Masters still remain: a very fine one,
by Caravaggio, of a knight in gilt armour, hangs in the dining-
room, near a full-length of poor Louis XVI., in Royal robes, the
very picture of uneasy impotency. But the portrait of De
Vignacourt is the only one which has a respectable air; the other
chiefs of the famous Society are pompous old gentlemen in black,
with huge periwigs, and crowns round their hats, and a couple of
melancholy pages in yellow and red. But pages and wigs and Grand
Masters have almost faded out of the canvas, and are vanishing into
Hades with a most melancholy indistinctness. The names of most of
these gentlemen, however, live as yet in the forts of the place,
which all seem to have been eager to build and christen: so that
it seems as if, in the Malta mythology, they had been turned into

In the armoury is the very suit painted by Caravaggio, by the side
of the armour of the noble old La Valette, whose heroism saved his
island from the efforts of Mustapha and Dragut, and an army quite
as fierce and numerous as that which was baffled before Gibraltar,
by similar courage and resolution. The sword of the last-named
famous corsair (a most truculent little scimitar), thousands of
pikes and halberts, little old cannons and wall-pieces, helmets and
cuirasses, which the knights or their people wore, are trimly
arranged against the wall, and, instead of spiking Turks or arming
warriors, now serve to point morals and adorn tales. And here
likewise are kept many thousand muskets, swords, and boarding-pikes
for daily use, and a couple of ragged old standards of one of the
English regiments, who pursued and conquered in Egypt the remains
of the haughty and famous French republican army, at whose
appearance the last knights of Malta flung open the gates of all
their fortresses, and consented to be extinguished without so much
as a remonstrance, or a kick, or a struggle.

We took a drive into what may be called the country; where the
fields are rocks, and the hedges are stones--passing by the stone
gardens of the Florian, and wondering at the number and
handsomeness of the stone villages and churches rising everywhere
among the stony hills. Handsome villas were passed everywhere, and
we drove for a long distance along the sides of an aqueduct, quite
a Royal work of the Caravaggio in gold armour, the Grand Master De
Vignacourt. A most agreeable contrast to the arid rocks of the
general scenery was the garden at the Governor's country-house;
with the orange-trees and water, its beautiful golden grapes,
luxuriant flowers, and thick cool shrubberies. The eye longs for
this sort of refreshment, after being seared with the hot glare of
the general country; and St. Antonio was as pleasant after Malta as
Malta was after the sea.

We paid the island a subsequent visit in November, passing
seventeen days at an establishment called Fort Manuel there, and by
punsters the Manuel des Voyageurs; where Government accommodates
you with quarters; where the authorities are so attentive as to
scent your letters with aromatic vinegar before you receive them,
and so careful of your health as to lock you up in your room every
night lest you should walk in your sleep, and so over the
battlements into the sea--if you escaped drowning in the sea, the
sentries on the opposite shore would fire at you, hence the nature
of the precaution. To drop, however, this satirical strain: those
who know what quarantine is, may fancy that the place somehow
becomes unbearable in which it has been endured. And though the
November climate of Malta is like the most delicious May in
England, and though there is every gaiety and amusement in the
town, a comfortable little opera, a good old library filled full of
good old books (none of your works of modern science, travel, and
history, but good old USELESS books of the last two centuries), and
nobody to trouble you in reading them, and though the society of
Valetta is most hospitable, varied, and agreeable, yet somehow one
did not feel SAFE in the island, with perpetual glimpses of Fort
Manuel from the opposite shore; and, lest the quarantine
authorities should have a fancy to fetch one back again, on a
pretext of posthumous plague, we made our way to Naples by the very
first opportunity--those who remained, that is, of the little
Eastern Expedition. They were not all there. The Giver of life
and death had removed two of our company: one was left behind to
die in Egypt, with a mother to bewail his loss, another we buried
in the dismal lazaretto cemetery.

* * *

One is bound to look at this, too, as a part of our journey.
Disease and death are knocking perhaps at your next cabin door.
Your kind and cheery companion has ridden his last ride and emptied
his last glass beside you. And while fond hearts are yearning for
him far away, and his own mind, if conscious, is turning eagerly
towards the spot of the world whither affection or interest calls
it--the Great Father summons the anxious spirit from earth to
himself, and ordains that the nearest and dearest shall meet here
no more.

Such an occurrence as a death in a lazaretto, mere selfishness
renders striking. We were walking with him but two days ago on
deck. One has a sketch of him, another his card, with the address
written yesterday, and given with an invitation to come and see him
at home in the country, where his children are looking for him. He
is dead in a day, and buried in the walls of the prison. A doctor
felt his pulse by deputy--a clergyman comes from the town to read
the last service over him--and the friends, who attend his funeral,
are marshalled by lazaretto-guardians, so as not to touch each
other. Every man goes back to his room and applies the lesson to
himself. One would not so depart without seeing again the dear
dear faces. We reckon up those we love: they are but very few,
but I think one loves them better than ever now. Should it be your
turn next?--and why not? Is it pity or comfort to think of that
affection which watches and survives you?

The Maker has linked together the whole race of man with this chain
of love. I like to think that there is no man but has had kindly
feelings for some other, and he for his neighbour, until we bind
together the whole family of Adam. Nor does it end here. It joins
heaven and earth together. For my friend or my child of past days
is still my friend or my child to me here, or in the home prepared
for us by the Father of all. If identity survives the grave, as
our faith tells us, is it not a consolation to think that there may
be one or two souls among the purified and just, whose affection
watches us invisible, and follows the poor sinner on earth?


Not feeling any enthusiasm myself about Athens, my bounden duty of
course is clear, to sneer and laugh heartily at all who have. In
fact, what business has a lawyer, who was in Pump Court this day
three weeks, and whose common reading is law reports or the
newspaper, to pretend to fall in love for the long vacation with
mere poetry, of which I swear a great deal is very doubtful, and to
get up an enthusiasm quite foreign to his nature and usual calling
in life? What call have ladies to consider Greece "romantic," they
who get their notions of mythology from the well-known pages of
"Tooke's Pantheon"? What is the reason that blundering Yorkshire
squires, young dandies from Corfu regiments, jolly sailors from
ships in the harbour, and yellow old Indians returning from
Bundelcund, should think proper to be enthusiastic about a country
of which they know nothing; the mere physical beauty of which they
cannot, for the most part, comprehend; and because certain
characters lived in it two thousand four hundred years ago? What
have these people in common with Pericles, what have these ladies
in common with Aspasia (O fie)? Of the race of Englishmen who come
wandering about the tomb of Socrates, do you think the majority
would not have voted to hemlock him? Yes: for the very same
superstition which leads men by the nose now, drove them onward in
the days when the lowly husband of Xantippe died for daring to
think simply and to speak the truth. I know of no quality more
magnificent in fools than their faith: that perfect consciousness
they have, that they are doing virtuous and meritorious actions,
when they are performing acts of folly, murdering Socrates, or
pelting Aristides with holy oyster-shells--all for Virtue's sake;
and a "History of Dulness in all Ages of the World," is a book
which a philosopher would surely be hanged, but as certainly
blessed, for writing.

If papa and mamma (honour be to them!) had not followed the faith
of their fathers, and thought proper to send away their only
beloved son (afterwards to be celebrated under the name of
Titmarsh) into ten years' banishment of infernal misery, tyranny,
annoyance; to give over the fresh feelings of the heart of the
little Michael Angelo to the discipline of vulgar bullies, who, in
order to lead tender young children to the Temple of Learning (as
they do in the spelling-books), drive them on with clenched fists
and low abuse; if they fainted, revive them with a thump, or
assailed them with a curse; if they were miserable, consoled them
with a brutal jeer--if, I say, my dear parents, instead of giving
me the inestimable benefit of a ten years' classical education, had
kept me at home with my dear thirteen sisters, it is probable I
should have liked this country of Attica, in sight of the blue
shores of which the present pathetic letter is written; but I was
made so miserable in youth by a classical education, that all
connected with it is disagreeable in my eyes; and I have the same
recollection of Greek in youth that I have of castor-oil.

So in coming in sight of the promontory of Sunium, where the Greek
Muse, in an awful vision, came to me, and said in a patronising
way, "Why, my dear" (she always, the old spinster, adopts this high
and mighty tone)--"Why, my dear, are you not charmed to be in this
famous neighbourhood, in this land of poets and heroes, of whose
history your classical education ought to have made you a master?
if it did not, you have wofully neglected your opportunities, and
your dear parents have wasted their money in sending you to
school." I replied, "Madam, your company in youth was made so
laboriously disagreeable to me, that I can't at present reconcile
myself to you in age. I read your poets, but it was in fear and
trembling; and a cold sweat is but an ill accompaniment to poetry.
I blundered through your histories; but history is so dull (saving
your presence) of herself, that when the brutal dulness of a
schoolmaster is superadded to her own slow conversation, the union
becomes intolerable: hence I have not the slightest pleasure in
renewing my acquaintance with a lady who has been the source of so
much bodily and mental discomfort to me." To make a long story
short, I am anxious to apologise for a want of enthusiasm in the
classical line, and to excuse an ignorance which is of the most
undeniable sort.

This is an improper frame of mind for a person visiting the land of
AEschylus and Euripides; add to which, we have been abominably
overcharged at the inn: and what are the blue hills of Attica, the
silver calm basin of Piraeus, the heathery heights of Pentelicus,
and yonder rocks crowned by the Doric columns of the Parthenon, and
the thin Ionic shafts of the Erechtheum, to a man who has had
little rest, and is bitten all over by bugs? Was Alcibiades bitten
by bugs, I wonder; and did the brutes crawl over him as he lay in
the rosy arms of Phryne? I wished all night for Socrates's hammock
or basket, as it is described in the "Clouds;" in which resting-
place, no doubt, the abominable animals kept perforce clear of him.

A French man-of-war, lying in the silvery little harbour, sternly
eyeing out of its stern portholes a saucy little English corvette
beside, began playing sounding marches as a crowd of boats came
paddling up to the steamer's side to convey us travellers to shore.
There were Russian schooners and Greek brigs lying in this little
bay; dumpy little windmills whirling round on the sunburnt heights
round about it; an improvised town of quays and marine taverns has
sprung up on the shore; a host of jingling barouches, more
miserable than any to be seen even in Germany, were collected at
the landing-place; and the Greek drivers (how queer they looked in
skull-caps, shabby jackets with profuse embroidery of worsted, and
endless petticoats of dirty calico!) began, in a generous ardour
for securing passengers, to abuse each other's horses and carriages
in the regular London fashion. Satire could certainly hardly
caricature the vehicle in which we were made to journey to Athens;
and it was only by thinking that, bad as they were, these coaches
were much more comfortable contrivances than any Alcibiades or
Cimon ever had, that we consoled ourselves along the road. It was
flat for six miles along the plain to the city: and you see for
the greater part of the way the purple mount on which the Acropolis
rises, and the gleaming houses of the town spread beneath. Round
this wide, yellow, barren plain,--a stunted district of olive-trees
is almost the only vegetation visible--there rises, as it were, a
sort of chorus of the most beautiful mountains; the most elegant,
gracious, and noble the eye ever looked on. These hills did not
appear at all lofty or terrible, but superbly rich and
aristocratic. The clouds were dancing round about them; you could
see their rosy purple shadows sweeping round the clear serene
summits of the hill. To call a hill aristocratic seems affected or
absurd; but the difference between these hills and the others, is
the difference between Newgate Prison and the Travellers' Club, for
instance: both are buildings; but the one stern, dark, and coarse;
the other rich, elegant, and festive. At least, so I thought.
With such a stately palace as munificent Nature had built for these
people, what could they be themselves but lordly, beautiful,
brilliant, brave, and wise? We saw four Greeks on donkeys on the
road (which is a dust-whirlwind where it is not a puddle); and
other four were playing with a dirty pack of cards, at a barrack
that English poets have christened the "Half-way House." Does
external nature and beauty influence the soul to good? You go
about Warwickshire, and fancy that from merely being born and
wandering in those sweet sunny plains and fresh woodlands
Shakspeare must have drunk in a portion of that frank artless sense
of beauty which lies about his works like a bloom or dew; but a
Coventry ribbon-maker, or a slang Leamington squire, are looking on
those very same landscapes too, and what do they profit? You
theorise about the influence which the climate and appearance of
Attica must have had in ennobling those who were born there:
yonder dirty, swindling, ragged blackguards, lolling over greasy
cards three hours before noon, quarrelling and shrieking, armed to
the teeth and afraid to fight, are bred out of the same land which
begot the philosophers and heroes. But the "Half-way House" is
passed by this time, and behold! we are in the capital of King

I swear solemnly that I would rather have two hundred a year in
Fleet Street, than be King of the Greeks, with Basileus written
before my name round their beggarly coin; with the bother of
perpetual revolutions in my huge plaster-of-Paris palace, with no
amusement but a drive in the afternoon over a wretched arid
country, where roads are not made, with ambassadors (the deuce
knows why, for what good can the English, or the French, or the
Russian party get out of such a bankrupt alliance as this?)
perpetually pulling and tugging at me, away from honest Germany,
where there is beer and aesthetic conversation, and operas at a
small cost. The shabbiness of this place actually beats Ireland,
and that is a strong word. The palace of the Basileus is an
enormous edifice of plaster, in a square containing six houses,
three donkeys, no roads, no fountains (except in the picture of the
inn); backwards it seems to look straight to the mountain--on one
side is a beggarly garden--the King goes out to drive (revolutions
permitting) at five--some four-and-twenty blackguards saunter up to
the huge sandhill of a terrace, as His Majesty passes by in a gilt
barouche and an absurd fancy dress; the gilt barouche goes plunging
down the sandhills; the two dozen soldiers, who have been
presenting arms, slouch off to their quarters; the vast barrack of
a palace remains entirely white, ghastly, and lonely; and, save the
braying of a donkey now and then (which long-eared minstrels are
more active and sonorous in Athens than in any place I know), all
is entirely silent round Basileus's palace. How could people who
knew Leopold fancy he would be so "jolly green" as to take such a
berth? It was only a gobemouche of a Bavarian that could ever have
been induced to accept it.

I beseech you to believe that it was not the bill and the bugs at
the inn which induced the writer hereof to speak so slightingly of
the residence of Basileus. These evils are now cured and
forgotten. This is written off the leaden flats and mounds which
they call the Troad. It is stern justice alone which pronounces
this excruciating sentence. It was a farce to make this place into
a kingly capital; and I make no manner of doubt that King Otho, the
very day he can get away unperceived, and get together the passage-
money, will be off for dear old Deutschland, Fatherland, Beerland!

I have never seen a town in England which may be compared to this;
for though Herne Bay is a ruin now, money was once spent upon it
and houses built; here, beyond a few score of mansions comfortably
laid out, the town is little better than a rickety agglomeration of
larger and smaller huts, tricked out here and there with the most
absurd cracked ornaments and cheap attempts at elegance. But
neatness is the elegance of poverty, and these people despise such
a homely ornament. I have got a map with squares, fountains,
theatres, public gardens, and Places d'Othon marked out; but they
only exist in the paper capital--the wretched tumble-down wooden
one boasts of none.

One is obliged to come back to the old disagreeable comparison of
Ireland. Athens may be about as wealthy a place as Carlow or
Killarney--the streets swarm with idle crowds, the innumerable
little lanes flow over with dirty little children, they are playing
and puddling about in the dirt everywhere, with great big eyes,
yellow faces, and the queerest little gowns and skull-caps. But in
the outer man, the Greek has far the advantage of the Irishman:
most of them are well and decently dressed (if five-and-twenty
yards of petticoat may not be called decent, what may?), they
swagger to and fro with huge knives in their girdles. Almost all
the men are handsome, but live hard, it is said, in order to
decorate their backs with those fine clothes of theirs. I have
seen but two or three handsome women, and these had the great
drawback which is common to the race--I mean, a sallow, greasy,
coarse complexion, at which it was not advisable to look too

And on this score I think we English may pride ourselves on
possessing an advantage (by WE, I mean the lovely ladies to whom
this is addressed with the most respectful compliments) over the
most classical country in the world. I don't care for beauty which
will only bear to be looked at from a distance, like a scene in a
theatre. What is the most beautiful nose in the world, if it be
covered with a skin of the texture and colour of coarse whitey-
brown paper; and if Nature has made it as slippery and shining as
though it had been anointed with pomatum? They may talk about
beauty, but would you wear a flower that had been dipped in a
grease-pot? No; give me a fresh, dewy, healthy rose out of
Somersetshire; not one of those superb, tawdry, unwholesome
exotics, which are only good to make poems about. Lord Byron wrote
more cant of this sort than any poet I know of. Think of "the
peasant girls with dark blue eyes" of the Rhine--the brown-faced,
flat-nosed, thick-lipped, dirty wenches! Think of "filling high a
cup of Samian wine;" small beer is nectar compared to it, and Byron
himself always drank gin. That man never wrote from his heart. He
got up rapture and enthusiasm with an eye to the public; but this
is dangerous ground, even more dangerous than to look Athens full
in the face, and say that your eyes are not dazzled by its beauty.
The Great Public admires Greece and Byron: the public knows best.
Murray's "Guide-book" calls the latter "our native bard." Our
native bard! Mon Dieu! HE Shakspeare's, Milton's, Keats's,
Scott's native bard! Well, woe be to the man who denies the public

The truth is, then, that Athens is a disappointment; and I am angry
that it should be so. To a skilled antiquarian, or an enthusiastic
Greek scholar, the feelings created by a sight of the place of
course will be different; but you who would be inspired by it must
undergo a long preparation of reading, and possess, too, a
particular feeling; both of which, I suspect, are uncommon in our
busy commercial newspaper-reading country. Men only say they are
enthusiastic about the Greek and Roman authors and history, because
it is considered proper and respectable. And we know how gentlemen
in Baker Street have editions of the classics handsomely bound in
the library, and how they use them. Of course they don't retire to
read the newspaper; it is to look over a favourite ode of Pindar,
or to discuss an obscure passage in Athenaeus! Of course country
magistrates and Members of Parliament are always studying
Demosthenes and Cicero; we know it from their continual habit of
quoting the Latin grammar in Parliament. But it is agreed that the
classics are respectable; therefore we are to be enthusiastic about
them. Also let us admit that Byron is to be held up as "our native

I am not so entire a heathen as to be insensible to the beauty of
those relics of Greek art, of which men much more learned and
enthusiastic have written such piles of descriptions. I thought I
could recognise the towering beauty of the prodigious columns of
the Temple of Jupiter; and admire the astonishing grace, severity,
elegance, completeness of the Parthenon. The little Temple of
Victory, with its fluted Corinthian shafts, blazed under the sun
almost as fresh as it must have appeared to the eyes of its
founders; I saw nothing more charming and brilliant, more graceful,
festive, and aristocratic than this sumptuous little building. The
Roman remains which lie in the town below look like the works of
barbarians beside these perfect structures. They jar strangely on
the eye, after it has been accustoming itself to perfect harmony
and proportions. If, as the schoolmaster tells us, the Greek
writing is as complete as the Greek art; if an ode of Pindar is as
glittering and pure as the Temple of Victory; or a discourse of
Plato as polished and calm as yonder mystical portico of the
Erechtheum: what treasures of the senses and delights of the
imagination have those lost to whom the Greek books are as good as

And yet one meets with very dull first-class men. Genius won't
transplant from one brain to another, or is ruined in the carriage,
like fine Burgundy. Sir Robert Peel and Sir John Hobhouse are both
good scholars; but their poetry in Parliament does not strike one
as fine. Muzzle, the schoolmaster, who is bullying poor trembling
little boys, was a fine scholar when he was a sizar, and a ruffian
then and ever since. Where is the great poet, since the days of
Milton, who has improved the natural offshoots of his brain by
grafting it from the Athenian tree?

I had a volume of Tennyson in my pocket, which somehow settled that
question, and ended the querulous dispute between me and
Conscience, under the shape of the neglected and irritated Greek
muse, which had been going on ever since I had commenced my walk
about Athens. The old spinster saw me wince at the idea of the
author of Dora and Ulysses, and tried to follow up her advantage by
farther hints of time lost, and precious opportunities thrown away.
"You might have written poems like them," said she; "or, no, not
like them perhaps, but you might have done a neat prize poem, and
pleased your papa and mamma. You might have translated Jack and
Jill into Greek iambics, and been a credit to your college." I
turned testily away from her. "Madam," says I, "because an eagle
houses on a mountain, or soars to the sun, don't you be angry with
a sparrow that perches on a garret window, or twitters on a twig.
Leave me to myself: look, my beak is not aquiline by any means."

And so, my dear friend, you who have been reading this last page in
wonder, and who, instead of a description of Athens, have been
accommodated with a lament on the part of the writer, that he was
idle at school, and does not know Greek, excuse this momentary
outbreak of egotistic despondency. To say truth, dear Jones, when
one walks among the nests of the eagles, and sees the prodigious
eggs they laid, a certain feeling of discomfiture must come over us
smaller birds. You and I could not invent--it even stretches our
minds painfully to try and comprehend part of the beauty of the
Parthenon--ever so little of it,--the beauty of a single column,--a
fragment of a broken shaft lying under the astonishing blue sky
there, in the midst of that unrivalled landscape. There may be
grander aspects of nature, but none more deliciously beautiful.
The hills rise in perfect harmony, and fall in the most exquisite
cadences--the sea seems brighter, the islands more purple, the
clouds more light and rosy than elsewhere. As you look up through
the open roof, you are almost oppressed by the serene depth of the
blue overhead. Look even at the fragments of the marble, how soft
and pure it is, glittering and white like fresh snow! "I was all
beautiful," it seems to say: "even the hidden parts of me were
spotless, precious, and fair"--and so, musing over this wonderful
scene, perhaps I get some feeble glimpse or idea of that ancient
Greek spirit which peopled it with sublime races of heroes and
gods; {1} and which I never could get out of a Greek book,--no, not
though Muzzle flung it at my head.


I am glad that the Turkish part of Athens was extinct, so that I
should not be baulked of the pleasure of entering an Eastern town
by an introduction to any garbled or incomplete specimen of one.
Smyrna seems to me the most Eastern of all I have seen; as Calais
will probably remain to the Englishman the most French town in the
world. The jack-boots of the postilions don't seem so huge
elsewhere, or the tight stockings of the maid-servants so Gallic.
The churches and the ramparts, and the little soldiers on them,
remain for ever impressed upon your memory; from which larger
temples and buildings, and whole armies have subsequently
disappeared: and the first words of actual French heard spoken,
and the first dinner at "Quillacq's," remain after twenty years as
clear as on the first day. Dear Jones, can't you remember the
exact smack of the white hermitage, and the toothless old fellow
singing "Largo al factotum"?

The first day in the East is like that. After that there is
nothing. The wonder is gone, and the thrill of that delightful
shock, which so seldom touches the nerves of plain men of the
world, though they seek for it everywhere. One such looked out at
Smyrna from our steamer, and yawned without the least excitement,
and did not betray the slightest emotion, as boats with real Turks
on board came up to the ship. There lay the town with minarets and
cypresses, domes and castles; great guns were firing off, and the
blood-red flag of the Sultan flaring over the fort ever since
sunrise; woods and mountains came down to the gulf's edge, and as
you looked at them with the telescope, there peeped out of the
general mass a score of pleasant episodes of Eastern life--there
were cottages with quaint roofs; silent cool kiosks, where the
chief of the eunuchs brings down the ladies of the harem. I saw
Hassan, the fisherman, getting his nets; and Ali Baba going off
with his donkey to the great forest for wood. Smith looked at
these wonders quite unmoved; and I was surprised at his apathy; but
he had been at Smyrna before. A man only sees the miracle once;
though you yearn over it ever so, it won't come again. I saw
nothing of Ali Baba and Hassan the next time we came to Smyrna, and
had some doubts (recollecting the badness of the inn) about landing
at all. A person who wishes to understand France or the East
should come in a yacht to Calais or Smyrna, land for two hours, and
never afterwards go back again.

But those two hours are beyond measure delightful. Some of us were
querulous up to that time, and doubted of the wisdom of making the
voyage. Lisbon, we owned, was a failure; Athens a dead failure;
Malta very well, but not worth the trouble and sea-sickness: in
fact, Baden-Baden or Devonshire would be a better move than this;
when Smyrna came, and rebuked all mutinous Cockneys into silence.
Some men may read this who are in want of a sensation. If they
love the odd and picturesque, if they loved the "Arabian Nights" in
their youth, let them book themselves on board one of the
Peninsular and Oriental vessels, and try one DIP into
Constantinople or Smyrna. Walk into the bazaar, and the East is
unveiled to you: how often and often have you tried to fancy this,
lying out on a summer holiday at school! It is wonderful, too, how
LIKE it is: you may imagine that you have been in the place
before, you seem to know it so well!

The beauty of that poetry is, to me, that it was never too
handsome; there is no fatigue of sublimity about it. Shacabac and
the little Barber play as great a part in it as the heroes; there
are no uncomfortable sensations of terror; you may be familiar with
the great Afreet, who was going to execute the travellers for
killing his son with a date-stone. Morgiana, when she kills the
forty robbers with boiling oil, does not seem to hurt them in the
least; and though King Schahriar makes a practice of cutting off
his wives' heads, yet you fancy they have got them on again in some
of the back rooms of the palace, where they are dancing and playing
on dulcimers. How fresh, easy, good-natured, is all this! How
delightful is that notion of the pleasant Eastern people about
knowledge, where the height of science is made to consist in the
answering of riddles! and all the mathematicians and magicians
bring their great beards to bear on a conundrum!

When I got into the bazaar among this race, somehow I felt as if
they were all friends. There sat the merchants in their little
shops, quiet and solemn, but with friendly looks. There was no
smoking, it was the Ramazan; no eating, the fish and meat fizzing
in the enormous pots of the cook-shops are only for the Christians.
The children abounded; the law is not so stringent upon them, and
many wandering merchants were there selling figs (in the name of
the Prophet, doubtless) for their benefit, and elbowing onwards
with baskets of grapes and cucumbers. Countrymen passed bristling
over with arms, each with a huge bellyful of pistols and daggers in
his girdle; fierce, but not the least dangerous. Wild swarthy
Arabs, who had come in with the caravans, walked solemnly about,
very different in look and demeanour from the sleek inhabitants of
the town. Greeks and Jews squatted and smoked, their shops tended
by sallow-faced boys, with large eyes, who smiled and welcomed you
in; negroes bustled about in gaudy colours; and women, with black
nose-bags and shuffling yellow slippers, chattered and bargained at
the doors of the little shops. There was the rope quarter and the
sweetmeat quarter, and the pipe bazaar and the arm bazaar, and the
little turned-up shoe quarter, and the shops where ready-made
jackets and pelisses were swinging, and the region where, under the
ragged awning, regiments of tailors were at work. The sun peeps
through these awnings of mat or canvas, which are hung over the
narrow lanes of the bazaar, and ornaments them with a thousand
freaks of light and shadow. Cogia Hassan Alhabbal's shop is in a
blaze of light; while his neighbour, the barber and coffee-house
keeper, has his premises, his low seats and narghiles, his queer
pots and basins, in the shade. The cobblers are always good-
natured; there was one who, I am sure, has been revealed to me in
my dreams, in a dirty old green turban, with a pleasant wrinkled
face like an apple, twinkling his little grey eyes as he held them
up to talk to the gossips, and smiling under a delightful old grey
beard, which did the heart good to see. You divine the
conversation between him and the cucumber-man, as the Sultan used
to understand the language of birds. Are any of those cucumbers
stuffed with pearls, and is that Armenian with the black square
turban Haroun Alraschid in disguise, standing yonder by the
fountain where the children are drinking--the gleaming marble
fountain, chequered all over with light and shadow, and engraved
with delicate arabesques and sentences from the Koran?

But the greatest sensation of all is when the camels come. Whole
strings of real camels, better even than in the procession of Blue
Beard, with soft rolling eyes and bended necks, swaying from one
side of the bazaar to the other to and fro, and treading gingerly
with their great feet. O you fairy dreams of boyhood! O you sweet
meditations of half-holidays, here you are realised for half-an-
hour! The genius which presides over youth led us to do a good
action that day. There was a man sitting in an open room,
ornamented with fine long-tailed sentences of the Koran: some in
red, some in blue; some written diagonally over the paper; some so
shaped as to represent ships, dragons, or mysterious animals. The
man squatted on a carpet in the middle of this room, with folded
arms, waggling his head to and fro, swaying about, and singing
through his nose choice phrases from the sacred work. But from the
room above came a clear noise of many little shouting voices, much
more musical than that of Naso in the matted parlour, and the guide
told us it was a school, so we went upstairs to look.

I declare, on my conscience, the master was in the act of
bastinadoing a little mulatto boy; his feet were in a bar, and the
brute was laying on with a cane; so we witnessed the howling of the
poor boy, and the confusion of the brute who was administering the
correction. The other children were made to shout, I believe, to
drown the noise of their little comrade's howling; but the
punishment was instantly discontinued as our hats came up over the
stair-trap, and the boy cast loose, and the bamboo huddled into a
corner, and the schoolmaster stood before us abashed. All the
small scholars in red caps, and the little girls in gaudy
handkerchiefs, turned their big wondering dark eyes towards us; and
the caning was over for THAT time, let us trust. I don't envy some
schoolmasters in a future state. I pity that poor little
blubbering Mahometan: he will never be able to relish the "Arabian
Nights" in the original, all his life long.

From this scene we rushed off somewhat discomposed to make a
breakfast off red mullets and grapes, melons, pomegranates, and
Smyrna wine, at a dirty little comfortable inn, to which we were
recommended: and from the windows of which we had a fine cheerful
view of the gulf and its busy craft, and the loungers and merchants
along the shore. There were camels unloading at one wharf, and
piles of melons much bigger than the Gibraltar cannon-balls at
another. It was the fig-season, and we passed through several
alleys encumbered with long rows of fig-dressers, children and
women for the most part, who were packing the fruit diligently into
drums, dipping them in salt-water first, and spreading them neatly
over with leaves; while the figs and leaves are drying, large white
worms crawl out of them, and swarm over the decks of the ships
which carry them to Europe and to England, where small children eat
them with pleasure--I mean the figs, not the worms--and where they
are still served at wine-parties at the Universities. When fresh
they are not better than elsewhere; but the melons are of admirable
flavour, and so large, that Cinderella might almost be accommodated
with a coach made of a big one, without any very great distension
of its original proportions.

Our guide, an accomplished swindler, demanded two dollars as the
fee for entering the mosque, which others of our party subsequently
saw for sixpence, so we did not care to examine that place of
worship. But there were other cheaper sights, which were to the
full as picturesque, for which there was no call to pay money, or,
indeed, for a day, scarcely to move at all. I doubt whether a man
who would smoke his pipe on a bazaar counter all day, and let the
city flow by him, would not be almost as well employed as the most
active curiosity-hunter.

To be sure he would not see the women. Those in the bazaar were
shabby people for the most part, whose black masks nobody would
feel a curiosity to remove. You could see no more of their figures

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