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Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al-Madinah and Meccah by Sir Richard Francis Burton

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This etext was produced by William Thierens and Robert Sinton.




K.C.M.G., F.R.G.S., &c., &c., &c.


"Our notions of Mecca must be drawn from the Arabians; as no unbeliever
is permitted to enter the city, our travellers are silent."-Gibbon,
chap. 50.




[p.xii] [Arabic text]

Dark and the Desert and Destriers me ken,
And the Glaive and the Joust, and Paper and Pen.




AFTER my beloved husband had passed away from amongst us, after the
funeral had taken place, and I had settled in England, I began to think
in what way I could render him the most honour. A material Monument to
his memory has already been erected by his countrymen in the shape of a
handsome contribution to the beautiful Mausoleum-tent in stone and
marble to contain his remains; but I also hoped to erect a less
material, but more imperishable, Monument to his name, by making this
unique hero better known to his countrymen by his Works, which have
hitherto not been sufficiently known, not extensively enough published,
and issued perhaps at a prohibitive price. Viewing the long list of
Works written by him between 1842 and 1890, many of which are still
unpublished, I was almost disheartened by the magnitude of the work,
until the Publishers, Messrs. Tylston and Edwards, fully appreciating
the interest with which the British Public had followed my husband's
adventurous career and fearless enterprise, arranged to produce this
uniform Memorial Edition at their own expense.

[p.xvi]Mr. Leonard Smithers, a man of great literary talent and of
indefatigable energy, who admired and collaborated with my husband in
the traduction of Latin Classics for two years before he died, has also
kindly volunteered to be my working assistant and to join with me in
the editing.

My part is to give up all my copyrights, and to search out such papers,
annotations, and latest notes and corrections, as will form the most
complete work; also to write all the Prefaces, and to give every
assistance in my power as Editress.

The Memorial Edition commences with the present "Pilgrimage to
Al-Madinah and Meccah," which will be followed at intervals by others
of my husband's works. Since this "Memorial Edition" was arranged, and
the Prospectus issued, I have parted with the Copyright of my husband's
famous translation of the "Arabian Nights" to the Publishers, and they
are arranging to bring out that work at an early date, and as nearly as
possible uniform in appearance with the Memorial Edition.

The ornamentations on the binding are, a figure of my husband in his
Arab costume, his monogram in Arabic, and, on the back of the book, the
tent which is his tomb.

Both the publishers and myself have to thank Mr. Smithers for the
infinite trouble he has taken in collating the first, second, third and
fourth editions of the ĎPilgrimage' with Sir Richard's own original
annotated copies. All the lengthy notes and appendices of the first
edition have been retained, and these are supplemented by the notes and
appendices in the later editions, as well as by the author's MS. notes.
He has adopted Sir Richard's latest and

[p.xvii]most correct orthography of Arabic words, and has passed the
sheets through the press. Following my husband's plan in "The Thousand
Nights and a Night," he has put the accents on Arabic words only the
first time of their appearance, to show how they ought to be; thinking
it unnecessary to preserve throughout, what is an eyesore to the reader
and a distress to the printer. So it is with Arabic books,-the accents
are only put for the early student; afterwards, they are left to the
practical knowledge of the reader. All the original coloured
illustrations of the first edition, and also the wood engravings of the
later issues, are reproduced for the first time in one uniform edition.
The map and plans are fac-similies of those in the latest (fourth)
edition. In fact, everything has been done to make this book worthy of
its author and of the public's appreciation.

For those who may not know the import of "A Pilgrimage to Al-Madinah
and Meccah," in 1853, they will not take it amiss when I say that there
are Holy Shrines of the Moslem world in the far-away Desert, where no
white man, European, or Christian, could enter (save as a Moslem), or
even approach, without certain death. They are more jealously guarded
than the "Holy Grail," and this Work narrates how this Pilgrimage was
accomplished. My husband had lived as a Dervish in Sind, which greatly
helped him; and he studied every separate thing until he was master of
it, even apprenticing himself to a blacksmith to learn how to make
horse-shoes and to shoe his own horses. It meant living with his life
in his hand, amongst the strangest and wildest companions, adopting
their unfamiliar manners, living for nine months in the hottest and
most unhealthy climate, upon

[p.xviii]repulsive food; it meant complete and absolute isolation from
everything that makes life tolerable, from all civilisation, from all
his natural habits; the brain at high tension, but the mind never
wavering from the role he had adopted; but he liked it, he was happy in
it, he felt at home in it, and in this Book he tells you how he did it,
and what he saw.

Sir Richard Burton died at the age of 70, on the 20th October, 1890.
During the last 48 years of his life, he lived only for the benefit and
for the welfare of England and of his countrymen, and of the Human Race
at large. Let us reverently raise up this "Monument," aere perennius,
to his everlasting memory.

May 24, 1893.


AFTER a lapse of twenty-five years, a third edition of my Pilgrimage
has been called for by the public, to whom I take this opportunity of
returning thanks. Messrs. Mullan have chosen the very best opportunity.
My two publications concerning the Khedival Expeditions to Midian ("The
Gold Mines of Midian," and "The Land of Midian Revisited"), are, as I
have stated in the Preface, sequels and continuations of this
Pilgrimage from which the adventures forming their subject may be said
to date.

The text has been carefully revised, and the "baggage of notes" has
been materially lightened.[FN#1] From the Appendix I have removed
matter which, though useful to the student, is of scant general
interest. The quaint and interesting "Narrative and Voyages of
Ludovicus Vertomannus, Gentleman of Rome," need no longer be read in
extracts, when the whole has been printed by the Hakluyt Society. (The
Travels of Ludovico di Varthema in Egypt, Syria, Arabia Deserta and
Arabia Felix, in Persia, India, and Ethiopia, A.D. 1503 to 1508.
Translated from the original Italian edition of 1510, with a Preface by
John Winter Jones, Esq., F.S.A., and edited,

[p.xx]with notes and an Introduction, by George Percy Badger, late
Government Chaplain in the Presidency of Bombay. London.) On the other
hand, I have inserted after the Appendix, with the permission of the
author, two highly interesting communications from Dr. Aloys Sprenger,
the well-known Orientalist and Arabist, concerning the routes of the
Great Caravans. My friend supports his suspicions that an error of
direction has been made, and geographers will enjoy the benefit of his
conscientious studies, topographical and linguistic.

The truculent attacks made upon pilgrims and Darwayshes call for a few
words of notice. Even that learned and amiable philanthropist, the late
Dr. John Wilson of Bombay ("Lands of the Bible," vol. ii., p. 302)
alludes, in the case of the Spaniard Badia, alias Ali Bey al-Abbasi, to
the "unjustifiable fanciful disguise of a Mohammedan Pilgrim." The
author of the Ruddy Goose Theory ("Voice of Israel from Mount Sinai")
and compiler of the "Historical Geography of Arabia" has dealt a foul
blow to the memory of Burckhardt, the energetic and inoffensive Swiss
traveller, whose name has ever been held in the highest repute. And now
the "Government Chaplain" indites (Introduction, p. xxvii.) the
following invidious remarks touching the travels of Ludovico di
Varthema-the vir Deo carus, be it remarked, of the learned and laical
Julius Caesar Scaliger:

"This is not the place to discuss the morality of an act involving the
deliberate and voluntary denial of what a man holds to be truth in a
matter so sacred as that of Religion. Such a violation of conscience is
not justifiable by the end which the renegade (!) may have in view,
however abstractedly praiseworthy it may be; and even granting that his
demerit should be gauged by the amount of knowledge which he possesses
of what is true and what false, the conclusion is inevitable, that
nothing short of utter ignorance of the precepts of his faith, or a

[p.xxi]conscientious disbelief in them, can fairly relieve the
Christian, who conforms to Islamism without a corresponding persuasion
of its verity, of the deserved odium all honest men attach to apostasy
and hypocrisy."

The reply to this tirade is simply, "Judge not; especially when you are
ignorant of the case which you are judging." Perhaps also the writer
may ask himself, Is it right for those to cast stones who dwell in a
tenement not devoid of fragility?
The second attack proceeds from a place whence no man would reasonably
have expected it. The author of the "Narrative of a Year's Journey
through Central and Eastern Arabia" (vol. i., pp. 258-59) thus
expresses his opinions:-

"Passing oneself off for a wandering Darweesh, as some European
explorers have attempted to do in the East, is for more reasons than
one a very bad plan. It is unnecessary to dilate on that moral aspect
of the proceeding which will always first strike unsophisticated minds.
To feign a religion which the adventurer himself does not believe, to
perform with scrupulous exactitude, as of the highest and holiest
import, practices which he inwardly ridicules, and which he intends on
his return to hold up to the ridicule of others, to turn for weeks and
months together the most sacred and awful bearings of man towards his
Creator into a deliberate and truthless mummery, not to mention other
and yet darker touches,-all this seems hardly compatible with the
character of a European gentleman, let alone that of a Christian."

This comes admirably a propos from a traveller who, born a Protestant,
of Jewish descent, placed himself "in connection with," in plain words
took the vows of, "the order of the Jesuits," an order "well-known in
the annals of philanthropic daring"; a popular preacher who declaimed
openly at Bayrut and elsewhere against his own nation, till the
proceedings of a certain Father Michael

[p.xxii]Cohen were made the subject of an official report by Mr.
Consul-General Moore (Bayrut, November 11, 1857); an Englishman by
birth who accepted French protection, a secret mission, and the
"liberality of the present Emperor of the French"; a military officer
travelling in the garb of what he calls a native (Syrian) "quack" with
a comrade who "by a slight but necessary fiction passed for his
brother-in-law[FN#2]"; a gentleman who by return to Protestantism
violated his vows, and a traveller who was proved by the experiment of
Colonel (now Sir Lewis) Pelly to have brought upon himself all the
perils and adventures that have caused his charming work to be
considered so little worthy of trust. Truly such attack argues a
sublime daring. It is the principle of "vieille coquette, nouvelle
devote"; it is Satan preaching against Sin. Both writers certainly lack
the "giftie" to see themselves as others see them.

In noticing these extracts my object is not to defend myself: I
recognize no man's right to interfere between a human being and his
conscience. But what is there, I would ask, in the Moslem Pilgrimage so
offensive to Christians-what makes it a subject of "inward ridicule"?
Do they not also venerate Abraham, the Father of the Faithful? Did not
Locke, and even greater names, hold Mohammedans to be heterodox
Christians, in fact Arians who, till the end of the fourth century,
represented the mass of North-European Christianity? Did Mr. Lane
neverconform by praying at a Mosque in Cairo? did he ever fear to
confess it? has he been called an apostate for so doing? Did not Father
Michael Cohen prove himself an excellent Moslem at Wahhabi-land?

The fact is, there are honest men who hold that Al-Islam,

[p.xxiii]in its capital tenets, approaches much nearer to the faith of
Jesus than do the Pauline and Athanasian modifications which, in this
our day, have divided the Indo-European mind into Catholic and Roman,
Greek and Russian, Lutheran and Anglican. The disciples of Dr. Daniel
Schenkel's school ("A Sketch of the Character of Jesus," Longmans,
1869) will indeed find little difficulty in making this admission.
Practically, a visit after Arab Meccah to Angle-Indian Aden, with its
"priests after the order of Melchisedeck," suggested to me that the
Moslem may be more tolerant, more enlightened, more charitable, than
many societies of self-styled Christians.

And why rage so furiously against the "disguise of a wandering
Darwaysh?" In what point is the Darwaysh more a mummer or in what does
he show more of betise than the quack? Is the Darwaysh anything but an
Oriental Freemason, and are Freemasons less Christians because they
pray with Moslems and profess their belief in simple unitarianism?

I have said. And now to conclude.

After my return to Europe, many inquired if I was not the only living
European who has found his way to the Head Quarters of the Moslem
Faith. I may answer in the affirmative, so far, at least, that when
entering the penetralia of Moslem life my Eastern origin was never
questioned, and my position was never what cagots would describe as in
loco apostatae.

On the other hand, any Jew, Christian, or Pagan, after declaring before
the Kazi and the Police Authorities at Cairo, or even at Damascus, that
he embraces Al-Islam, may perform, without fear of the so-called Mosaic
institution, "Al-Sunnah," his pilgrimage in all safety. It might be
dangerous to travel down the Desert-line between Meccah and Al-Madinah
during times of popular excitement; but the coast route is always safe.
To the "new Moslem," however, the old Moslem is rarely

[p.xxiv] well affected; and the former, as a rule, returns home
unpleasantly impressed by his experiences.

The Eastern world moves slowly-eppur si muove. Half a generation ago
steamers were first started to Jeddah: now we hear of a projected
railroad from that port to Meccah, the shareholders being all Moslems.
And the example of Jerusalem encourages us to hope that long before the
end of the century a visit to Meccah will not be more difficult than a
trip to Hebron.

Ziyadeh hadd-i-adab!


London, 31st March, 1879.

[Arabic text]


The interest just now felt in everything that relates to the East would
alone be sufficient to ensure to the author of "El Medinah and Meccah"
the favourable consideration of the Reading Public. But when it is
borne in mind that since the days of William Pitts of Exeter (A.D.
1678-1688) no European travellers, with the exception of
Burckhardt[FN#3] and Lieut. Burton,[FN#4] have been able to send us
back an account of their travels there, it cannot be doubted but that
the present work will be hailed as a welcome addition to our knowledge
of these hitherto mysterious penetralia of Mohammedan superstition. In
fact, El Madinah may be considered almost a virgin theme; for as
Burckhardt was prostrated by sickness throughout the period of his stay
in the Northern Hejaz, he was not able to describe it as satisfactorily
or minutely as he did the Southern country,-he could not send a plan of
the Mosque, or correct the popular but erroneous ideas which prevail
concerning it and the surrounding city.

The reader may question the propriety of introducing

[p.xxvi]in a work of description, anecdotes which may appear open to
the charge of triviality. The author's object, however, seems to be to
illustrate the peculiarities of the people-to dramatise, as it were,
the dry journal of a journey,-and to preserve the tone of the
adventures, together with that local colouring in which mainly consists
"l'education d'un voyage." For the same reason, the prayers of the
"Visitation" ceremony have been translated at length, despite the
danger of inducing tedium; they are an essential part of the subject,
and cannot be omitted, nor be represented by "specimens."

The extent of the Appendix requires some explanation. Few but literati
are aware of the existence of Lodovico Bartema's naive recital, of the
quaint narrative of Jos. Pitts, or of the wild journal of Giovanni
Finati. Such extracts have been now made from these writers that the
general reader can become acquainted with the adventures and opinions
of the different travellers who have visited El Hejaz during a space of
350 years. Thus, with the second volume of Burckhardt's Travels in
Arabia, the geographer, curious concerning this portion of the Moslem's
Holy Land, possesses all that has as yet been written upon the subject.

The editor, to whom the author in his absence has intrusted his work,
had hoped to have completed it by the simultaneous publication of the
third volume, containing the pilgrimage to Meccah. The delay, however,
in the arrival from India of this portion of the MS. has been such as
to induce him at once to publish El Misr and El Medinah. The concluding
volume on Meccah is now in the hands of the publisher, and will appear
in the Autumn of the present year. Meanwhile the Public will not lose
sight of the subject of Arabia. Part of El Hejaz has lately been
inspected by M. Charles Didier, an eminent name in French literature,
and by the Abbe Hamilton,-persuaded, it is believed, by our author to

[p.xxvii]visit Taif and Wady Laymum. Though entirely unconnected with
the subjects of Meccah and El Medinah, the account of the Sherif's
Court where these gentlemen were received with distinction, and of the
almost unknown regions about Jebel Kora, will doubtless be welcomed by
the Orientalists and Geographers of Europe.

Mr. Burton is already known by his "History of Sindh." And as if to
mark their sense of the spirit of observation and daring evinced by him
when in that country, and still more during his late journeyings in
Arabia and East Africa, the Geographical Society, through their learned
Secretary, Dr. Norton Shaw, have given valuable aid to this work in its
progress through the press, supplying maps where necessary to complete
the illustrations supplied by the author,-who, it will be perceived, is
himself no mean draughtsman.

It was during a residence of many years in India that Mr. Burton had
fitted himself for his late undertaking, by acquiring, through his
peculiar aptitude for such studies, a thorough acquaintance with
various dialects of Arabia and Persia; and, indeed, his Eastern cast of
features (vide Frontispiece, Vol. II.) seemed already to point him out
as the very person of all others best suited for an expedition like
that described in the following pages.

It will be observed that in writing Arabic, Hindoostannee, Persian, or
Turkish words, the author has generally adopted the system proposed by
Sir William Jones and modified by later Orientalists.[FN#5] But when a
word (like Fatihah for Fat-hah) has been "stamped" by general popular
use, the conversational form has been

[p.xxviii]preferred; and the same, too, may be said of the common
corruptions, Cairo, Kadi, &c., which, in any other form, would appear
to us pedantic and ridiculous. Still, in the absence of the author, it
must be expected that some trifling errors and inaccuraci[e]s will have
here and there have crept in. In justice to others and himself, the
Editor, however, feels bound to acknowledge, with much gratitude, that
where such or even greater mistakes have been avoided, it has been
mainly due to the continued kindness of an Eastern scholar of more than
European reputation,-who has assisted in revising the sheets before
finally consigning them to the printer.

Let us hope that the proofs now furnished of untiring energy and
capacity for observation and research by our author, as well as his
ability to bear fatigue and exposure to the most inclement climate,
will induce the Governments of this country and of India to provide him
with men and means (evidently all that is required for the purpose) to
pursue his adventurous and useful career in other countries equally
difficult of access, and, if possible, of still greater interest, than
the Eastern shores of the Red Sea.


Hampton Court Palace,

June, 1855.



I DO not parade your name, my dear Colonel, in the van of this volume,
after the manner of that acute tactician who stuck a Koran upon his
lance in order to win a battle. Believe me it is not my object to use
your orthodoxy as a cover to my heresies of sentiment and science, in
politics, political economy and-what not?

But whatever I have done on this occasion,-if I have done any
thing,-has been by the assistance of a host of friends, amongst whom
you were ever the foremost. And the highest privilege I aim at is this
opportunity of publicly acknowledging the multitude of obligations owed
to you and to them. Accept, my dear Colonel, this humble return for
your kindness, and ever believe me,

The sincerest of your well wishers,


[FN#1] These omitted notes and appendices have all been restored to the
present Edition.
[FN#2] The brother-in-law, Barakat J'rayj'ray, has since that time
followed suit: educated at the Jesuit college of Mu'allakah (Libanus)
he has settled as a Greek Catholic priest at the neighbouring town of
[FN#3] In 1811.
[FN#4] Captain Sadlier is not mentioned, as his Frankish dress
prevented his entering the city.
[FN#5] The orthography of Eastern words has been revised for this
Edition by Mr. Leonard C. Smithers, from Sir R. F. Burton's MS.
Corrections, and in accordance with the orthography of Sir Richard's
most recent Oriental Work, "The Book of the Thousand Nights and a

[p.1]PART I.




A few Words concerning what induced me to a Pilgrimage.

IN the autumn of 1852, through the medium of my excellent friend, the
late General Monteith, I offered my services to the Royal Geographical
Society of London, for the purpose of removing that opprobrium to
modern adventure, the huge white blot which in our maps still notes the
Eastern and the Central regions of Arabia. Sir Roderick I. Murchison,
Colonel P. Yorke and Dr. Shaw, a deputation from that distinguished
body, with their usual zeal for discovery and readiness to encourage
the discoverer, honoured me by warmly supporting, in a personal
interview with the then Chairman of the then Court of Directors to the
then Honourable East India Company, my application for three years'
leave of absence on special duty from India to Maskat. But they were
unable to prevail upon the said Chairman, the late Sir James Hogg,
who,[FN#1] remembering the fatalities which of late years have befallen
sundry soldier-travellers in the East, refused his sanction, alleging
as a reason[FN#1]

[p.2]that the contemplated journey was of too dangerous a nature. In
compensation, however, for the disappointment, I was allowed the
additional furlough of a year, in order to pursue my Arabic studies in
lands where the language is best learned.

What remained for me but to prove, by trial, that what might be
perilous to other travellers was safe to me? The "experimentum crucis"
was a visit to Al-Hijaz, at once the most difficult and the most
dangerous point by which a European can enter Arabia. I had intended,
had the period of leave originally applied for been granted, to land at
Maskat-a favourable starting-place-and there to apply myself, slowly
and surely, to the task of spanning the deserts. But now I was to
hurry, in the midst of summer, after a four years' sojourn in Europe,
during which many things Oriental had faded away from my memory,
and-after passing through the ordeal of Egypt, a country where the
police is curious as in Rome or Milan-to begin with the Moslem's Holy
Land, the jealously guarded and exclusive Harim. However, being
liberally supplied with the means of travel by the Royal Geographical
Society; thoroughly tired of "progress" and of "civilisation;" curious
to see with my eyes what others are content to "hear with ears,"
namely, Moslem inner life in a really Mohammedan country; and longing,
if truth be told, to set foot on that mysterious spot which no vacation
tourist has yet described, measured, sketched and photographed, I
resolved to resume my old character of a Persian wanderer,[FN#2] a
"Darwaysh," and to make the attempt.

[p.3]The principal object with which I started was this: to cross the
unknown Arabian Peninsula, in a direct line from either Al-Madinah to
Maskat, or diagonally from Meccah to Makallah on the Indian Ocean. By
what "Circumstance, the miscreator" my plans were defeated, the reader
will discover in the course of these volumes. The secondary objects
were numerous. I was desirous to find out if any market for horses
could be opened between Central Arabia and India, where the studs were
beginning to excite general dissatisfaction; to obtain information
concerning the Great Eastern wilderness, the vast expanse marked Rub'a
al-Khai (the "Empty Abode") in our maps; to inquire into the
hydrography of the Hijaz, its water-shed, the disputed slope of the
country, and the existence or non-existence of perennial streams; and
finally, to try, by actual observation, the truth of a theory proposed
by Colonel W. Sykes, namely, that if tradition be true, in the
population of the vast Peninsula there must exist certain physiological
differences sufficient to warrant our questioning the common origin of
the Arab family. As regards horses, I am satisfied that from the
Eastern coast something might be done-nothing on the Western, where the
animals, though thorough-bred, are mere "weeds," of a foolish price and
procurable only by chance. Of the Rub'a al-Khali I have heard enough,
from credible relators, to conclude that its horrid depths swarm with a
large and half-starving population; that it abounds in Wadys, valleys,
gullies and ravines, partially fertilised by intermittent torrents;
and, therefore, that the land is open to the adventurous traveller.
Moreover, I am satisfied, that in spite of all geographers, from
Ptolemy to Jomard, Arabia, which abounds in fiumaras,[FN#3] possesses

[p.4]a single perennial stream worthy the name of river;[FN#4] and the
testimony of the natives induces me to think, with Wallin, contrary to
Ritter and others, that the Peninsula falls instead of rising towards
the south. Finally, I have found proof, to be produced in a future part
of this publication, for believing in three distinct races. 1. The
aborigines of the country, driven like the Bhils and other autochthonic
Indians, into the eastern and south-eastern wilds bordering upon the
ocean. 2. A Syrian or Mesopotamian stock, typified by Shem and Joktan,
that drove the Indigenae from the choicest tracts of country; these
invaders still enjoy their conquests, representing the great Arabian
people. And 3. An impure Syro-Egyptian clan-we personify it by Ishmael,
by his son Nabajoth, and by Edom, (Esau, the son of Isaac)-that
populated and still populates the Sinaitic Peninsula. And in most
places, even in the heart of Meccah, I met with debris of heathenry,
proscribed by Mohammed, yet still popular, while the ignorant observers
of the old customs assign to them a modern and a rationalistic origin.

I have entitled this account of my summer's tour through Al-Hijaz, a
Personal Narrative, and I have laboured to make its nature correspond
with its name, simply because "it is the personal that interests
mankind." Many may not follow my example;[FN#5] but some

[p.5]perchance will be curious to see what measures I adopted, in order
to appear suddenly as an Eastern upon the stage of Oriental life; and
as the recital may be found useful by future adventurers, I make no
apology for the egotistical semblance of the narrative. Those who have
felt the want of some "silent friend" to aid them with advice, when it
must not be asked, will appreciate what may appear to the uninterested
critic mere outpourings of a mind full of self.[FN#6]

On the evening of April 3, 1853, I left London for Southampton. By the
advice of a brother officer, Captain (now Colonel) Henry Grindlay, of
the Bengal Cavalry,-little thought at that time the adviser or the
advised how valuable was the suggestion!-my Eastern dress was called
into requisition before leaving town, and all my "impedimenta" were
taught to look exceedingly Oriental. Early the next day a "Persian
Prince," accompanied by Captain Grindlay, embarked on board the
Peninsular and Oriental Company's magnificent screw steamer "Bengal."

[p.6]A fortnight was profitably spent in getting into the train of
Oriental manners. For what polite Chesterfield says of the difference
between a gentleman and his reverse-namely, that both perform the same
offices of life, but each in a several and widely different way-is
notably as applicable to the manners of the Eastern as of the Western
man. Look, for instance, at that Indian Moslem drinking a glass of
water. With us the operation is simple enough, but his performance
includes no fewer than five novelties. In the first place he clutches
his tumbler as though it were the throat of a foe; secondly, he
ejaculates, "In the name of Allah the Compassionate, the Merciful!"
before wetting his lips; thirdly, he imbibes the contents, swallowing
them, not sipping them as he ought to do, and ending with a satisfied
grunt; fourthly, before setting down the cup, he sighs forth, "Praise
be to Allah"-of which you will understand the full meaning in the
Desert; and, fifthly, he replies, "May Allah make it pleasant to thee!"
in answer to his friend's polite "Pleasurably and health!" Also he is
careful to avoid the irreligious action of drinking the pure element in
a standing position, mindful, however, of the three recognised
exceptions, the fluid of the Holy Well Zemzem, water distributed in
charity, and that which remains after Wuzu, the lesser ablution.
Moreover, in Europe, where both extremities are used indiscriminately,
one forgets the exclusive use of the right hand, the manipulation of
the rosary, the abuse of the chair,-your genuine Oriental gathers up
his legs, looking almost as comfortable in it as a sailor upon the back
of a high-trotting -the rolling gait with the toes straight to the
front, the grave look and the habit of pious ejaculations.

Our voyage over the "summer sea" was eventless. In a steamer of two or
three thousand tons you discover

[p.7]the once dreaded, now contemptible, "stormy waters" only by the
band-a standing nuisance be it remarked-performing

"There we lay
All the day,
In the Bay of Biscay, O!"

The sight of glorious Trafalgar[FN#7]| excites none of the sentiments
with which a tedious sail used to invest it. "Gib" is, probably, better
known to you, by Theophile Gautier and Eliot Warburton, than the
regions about Cornhill; besides which, you anchor under the Rock
exactly long enough to land and to breakfast. Malta, too, wears an old
familiar face, which bids you order a dinner and superintend the iceing
of claret (beginning of Oriental barbarism), instead of galloping about
on donkey-back through fiery air in memory of St. Paul and White-Cross
Knights. But though our journey might be called monotonous, there was
nothing to complain of. The ship was in every way comfortable; the
cook, strange to say, was good, and the voyage lasted long enough, and
not too long. On the evening of the thirteenth day after our start, the
big-trowsered pilot, so lovely in his deformities to western eyes, made
his appearance, and the good screw "Bengal" found herself at anchor off
the Headland of Clay.[FN#8]

Having been invited to start from the house of a kind friend, John W.
Larking, I disembarked with him, and

[p.8]rejoiced to see that by dint of a beard and a shaven head I had
succeeded, like the Lord of Geesh, in "misleading the inquisitive
spirit of the populace." The mingled herd of spectators before whom we
passed in review on the landing-place, hearing an audible
"Alhamdolillah"[FN#9] whispered "Muslim!" The infant population spared
me the compliments usually addressed to hatted heads; and when a little
boy, presuming that the occasion might possibly open the hand of
generosity, looked in my face and exclaimed "Bakhshish,"[FN#10] he
obtained in reply a "Mafish;"[FN#11] which convinced the bystanders
that the sheep-skin covered a real sheep. We then mounted a carriage,
fought our way through the donkeys, and in half an hour found
ourselves, chibuk in mouth and coffee-cup in hand, seated on the diwan
of my friend Larking's hospitable home.

Wonderful was the contrast between the steamer and that villa on the
Mahmudiyah canal! Startling the sudden change from presto to adagio
life! In thirteen days we had passed from the clammy grey fog, that

[p.9]of industry which kept us at anchor off the Isle of Wight, through
the loveliest air of the Inland Sea, whose sparkling blue and purple
haze spread charms even on N. Africa's beldame features, and now we are
sitting silent and still, listening to the monotonous melody of the
East-the soft night-breeze wandering through starlit skies and tufted
trees, with a voice of melancholy meaning.

And this is the Arab's Kayf. The savouring of animal existence; the
passive enjoyment of mere sense; the pleasant languor, the dreamy
tranquillity, the airy castle-building, which in Asia stand in lieu of
the vigorous, intensive, passionate life of Europe. It is the result of
a lively, impressible, excitable nature, and exquisite sensibility of
nerve; it argues a facility for voluptuousness unknown to northern
regions, where happiness is placed in the exertion of mental and
physical powers; where Ernst ist das Leben; where niggard earth
commands ceaseless sweat of face, and damp chill air demands perpetual
excitement, exercise, or change, or adventure, or dissipation, for want
of something better. In the East, man wants but rest and shade: upon
the banks of a bubbling stream, or under the cool shelter of a perfumed
tree, he is perfectly happy, smoking a pipe, or sipping a cup of
coffee, or drinking a glass of sherbet, but above all things deranging
body and mind as little as possible; the trouble of conversations, the
displeasures of memory, and the vanity of thought being the most
unpleasant interruptions to his Kayf. No wonder that "Kayf" is a word
untranslatable in our mother-tongue![FN#12]

"Laudabunt alii claram Rhodon aut Mytelenen."

Let others describe the once famous Capital of

[p.10]Egypt, this City of Misnomers, whose dry docks are ever wet, and
whose marble fountain is eternally dry, whose "Cleopatra's
Needle"[FN13] is neither a needle nor Cleopatra's; whose "Pompey's
Pillar" never had any earthly connection with Pompey; and whose
Cleopatra's Baths are, according to veracious travellers, no baths at
all. Yet it is a wonderful place, this "Libyan suburb" of our day, this
outpost of civilisation planted upon the skirts of barbarism, this
Osiris seated side by side with Typhon, his great old enemy. Still may
be said of it, "it ever beareth something new[FN#14];" and Alexandria,
a threadbare subject in Bruce's time, is even yet, from its perpetual
changes, a fit field for modern description.[FN#15]

[p.11]The better to blind the inquisitive eyes of servants and
visitors, my friend, Larking, lodged me in an out-house, where I could
revel in the utmost freedom of life and manners. And although some
Armenian Dragoman, a restless spy like all his race, occasionally
remarked voila un Persan diablement degage, none, except those who were
entrusted with the secret, had any idea of the part I was playing. The
domestics, devout Moslems, pronounced me an 'Ajami,[FN#16] a kind of
Mohammedan, not a good one like themselves, but, still better than
nothing. I lost no time in securing the assistance of a Shaykh,[FN#17]
and plunged once more into the intricacies of the Faith; revived my
recollections of religious ablutions, read the Koran, and again became
an adept in the art of prostration. My leisure hours were employed in
visiting the baths and coffee-houses, in attending the bazars, and in
shopping,-an operation which hereabouts consists of sitting upon a
chapman's counter, smoking, sipping coffee, and telling your beads the
while, to show that you are not of the slaves for whom time is made; in
fact, in pitting your patience against that of your adversary, the
vendor. I found time for a short excursion to a country village on the
banks of the canal; nor was an opportunity of seeing "Al-nahl," the
"Bee-dance;" neglected, for it would be some months before my eyes
might dwell on such a pleasant spectacle again.
"Delicias videam, Nile jocose, tuas!"

Careful of graver matters, I attended the mosque, and visited the
venerable localities in which modern Alexandria abounds. Pilgrimaging
Moslems are here

[p.12]shown the tomb of Al-nabi Daniyal (Daniel the Prophet),
discovered upon a spot where the late Sultan Mahmud dreamed that he saw
an ancient man at prayer.[FN#18] Sikandar al-Rumi, the Moslem Alexander
the Great, of course left his bones in the place bearing his name, or,
as he ought to have done so, bones have been found for him. Alexandria
also boasts of two celebrated Walis-holy men. One is Mohammed
al-Busiri, the author of a poem called Al-Burdah, universally read by
the world of Islam, and locally recited at funerals and on other solemn
occasions. The other is Abu Abbas al-Andalusi, a sage and saint of the
first water, at whose tomb prayer is never breathed in vain.

It is not to be supposed that the people of Alexandria could look upon
my phials and pill-boxes without a yearning for their contents. An
Indian doctor, too, was a novelty to them; Franks they despised,-but a
man who had come so far from East and West! Then there was something
infinitely seducing in the character of a magician, doctor, and fakir,
each admirable of itself, thus combined to make "great medicine." Men,
women, and children besieged my door, by which means I could see the
people face to face, and especially the fair sex, of which Europeans,
generally speaking, know only the worst specimens. Even respectable
natives, after witnessing a performance of "Mandal" and the Magic
mirror[FN#19], opined that the stranger was a holy man, gifted

[p.13]with supernatural powers, and knowing everything. One old person
sent to offer me his daughter in marriage; he said nothing about
dowry,-but I thought proper to decline the honour. And a middle-aged
lady proffered me the sum of one hundred piastres, nearly one pound
sterling, if I would stay at Alexandria, and superintend the
restoration of her blind left eye.

But the reader must not be led to suppose that I acted "Carabin" or
"Sangrado" without any knowledge of my trade. From youth I have always
been a dabbler in medical and mystical study. Moreover, the practice of
physic is comparatively easy amongst dwellers in warm latitudes,
uncivilised peoples, where there is not that complication of maladies
which troubles more polished nations. And further, what simplifies
extremely the treatment of the sick in these parts is the undoubted
periodicity of disease, reducing almost all to one type-ague.[FN#20]
Many of the complaints of tropical climates, as medical men well know,
display palpably intermittent symptoms little known to colder
countries; and speaking from individual experience, I may safely assert
that in all cases of suffering, from a wound to ophthalmia, this
phenomenon has forced itself upon my notice. So much by way of excuse.
I therefore considered myself as well qualified for the work as if I
had taken out a buono per l'estero diploma at Padua, and not more
likely to do active harm than most of the regularly graduated young
surgeons who start to "finish" themselves upon the frame of the British

After a month's hard work at Alexandria, I prepared to assume the
character of a wandering Darwaysh; after

[p.14]reforming my title from "Mirza"[FN#21] to "Shaykh"
Abdullah.[FN#22] A reverend man, whose name I do not care to quote,
some time ago initiated me into his order, the Kadiriyah, under the
high-sounding name of Bismillah-Shah:[FN#23] and, after a due period of
probation, he graciously elevated me to the proud position of a
Murshid,[FN#24] or Master in the mystic craft. I was therefore
sufficiently well acquainted with the tenets and practices of these
Oriental Freemasons. No character in the Moslem world is so proper for
disguise as that of the Darwaysh. It is assumed by all ranks, ages, and
creeds; by the nobleman who has been disgraced at court, and by the
peasant who is too idle to till the ground; by Dives, who is weary of
life, and by Lazarus, who begs his bread from door to door. Further,
the Darwaysh is allowed to ignore ceremony and politeness, as one who
ceases to appear upon the stage of life; he may pray or not, marry or
remain single as he pleases, be respectable in cloth of frieze as in
cloth of gold, and no one asks him-the chartered vagabond-

[p.15]Why he comes here? or Wherefore he goes there? He may wend his
way on foot alone, or ride his Arab mare followed by a dozen servants;
he is equally feared without weapons, as swaggering through the streets
armed to the teeth. The more haughty and offensive he is to the people,
the more they respect him; a decided advantage to the traveller of
choleric temperament. In the hour of imminent danger, he has only to
become a maniac, and he is safe; a madman in the East, like a notably
eccentric character in the West, is allowed to say or do whatever the
spirit directs. Add to this character a little knowledge of medicine, a
"moderate skill in magic, and a reputation for caring for nothing but
study and books," together with capital sufficient to save you from the
chance of starving, and you appear in the East to peculiar advantage.
The only danger of the "Mystic Path"[FN#25] is, that the Darwaysh's
ragged coat not unfrequently covers the cut-throat, and, if seized in
the society of such a "brother," you may reluctantly become his
companion, under the stick or on the stake. For be it known, Darwayshes
are of two orders, the Sharai, or those who conform to religion, and
the Bi-Sharai, or Luti, whose practices are hinted at by their own
tradition that "he we daurna name" once joined them for a week, but at
the end of that time left them in dismay, and returned to whence he

[FN#1] "Remembering . . . . reason," afterwards altered by the author
to "much disliking, if fact must be told, my impolitic habit of telling
political truths, (in 1851 I had submitted to the Court of Directors
certain remarks upon the subject of Anglo-Indian misrule: I need hardly
say that the publication was refused with many threats), and not
unwilling to mortify my supporter (his colleague, Colonel W. Sykes),
refused his sanction, alleging as a no-reason," et seq.
[FN#2] The vagrant, the merchant, and the philosopher, amongst
Orientals, are frequently united in the same person.
[FN#3] In a communication made to the Royal Geographical Society, and
published in the 24th vol. of the Journal, I have given my reasons for
naturalising this word. It will be used in the following pages to
express a "hill water-course, which rolls a torrent after rain, and is
either partially or wholly dry during the droughts." It is, in fact,
the Indian "Nullah, or Nala."
[FN#4] "In provinciis Arabum, ait Ibn Haukal, nullus dignoscitur
fluvius, aut mare quod navigia ferat." This truth has been disputed,
but now it is generally acknowledged.
[FN#5] A French traveller, the Viscount Escayrac de Lanture, was living
at Cairo as a native of the East, and preparing for a pilgrimage when I
was similarly engaged. Unfortunately he went to Damascus, where some
disturbance compelled him to resume his nationality. The only European
I have met with who visited Meccah without apostatising, is M.
Bertolucci, Swedish Consul at Cairo. This gentleman persuaded the
Badawin camel men who were accompanying him to Taif to introduce him in
disguise: he naÔvely owns that his terror of discovery prevented his
making any observations. Dr. George A. Wallin, of Finland, performed
the Hajj in 1845; but his "somewhat perilous position, and the filthy
company of Persians," were effectual obstacles to his taking notes.
[FN#6] No one felt the want of this "silent friend," more than myself;
for though Eastern Arabia would not have been strange to me, the
Western regions were a terra incognita. Through Dr. Norton Shaw,
Secretary to the Royal Geographical Society, I addressed a paper full
of questions to Dr. Wallin, professor of Arabic at the University of
Helsingfors. But that adventurous traveller and industrious Orienta1ist
was then, as we afterwards heard with sorrow, no more; so the queries
remained unanswered. In these pages I have been careful to solve all
the little financial and domestic difficulties, so perplexing to the
"freshman," whom circumstances compel to conceal his freshness from the
prying eyes of friends.
[FN#7] "Then came Trafalgar: would that Nelson had known the meaning of
that name! it would have fixed a smile upon his dying lips!" so says
the Rider through the Nubian Desert, giving us in a foot note the
curious information that "Trafalgar" is an Arabic word, which means the
"Cape of Laurels." Trafalgar is nothing but a corruption of Tarf
al-Gharb-the side or skirt of the West; it being the most occidental
point then reached by Arab conquest.
[FN#8] In Arabic "Ras al-Tin," the promontory upon which immortal
Pharos once stood. It is so called from the argile there found and
which supported an old pottery.
[FN#9] "Praise be to Allah, Lord of the (three) worlds!" a pious
ejaculation, which leaves the lips of the True Believer on all
occasions of concluding actions.
[FN#10] "Bakhshish," says a modern writer, "is a fee or present which
the Arabs (he here means the Egyptians, who got the word from the
Persians through the Turks,) claim on all occasions for services you
render them, as well as for services they have rendered you. A doctor
visits a patient gratis-the patient or his servant will ask for a
bakhshish (largesse); you employ, pay, clothe, and feed a child-the
father will demand his bakhshish; you may save the life of an Arab, at
the risk of your own, and he will certainly claim a bakhshish. This
bakhshish, in fact, is a sort of alms or tribute, which the poor Arab
believes himself entitled to claim from every respectable-looking
[FN#11] Mafish, "there is none," equivalent to, "I have left my purse
at home." Nothing takes the Oriental mind so much as a retort
alliterative or jingling. An officer in the Bombay army (Colonel
Hamerton) once saved himself from assault and battery by informing a
furious band of natives, that under British rule "harakat na hui,
barakat hui," "blessing hath there been to you; bane there hath been
[FN#12] In a coarser sense "kayf" is app1ied to all manner of
intoxication. Sonnini is not wrong when he says, "the Arabs give the
name of Kayf to the voluptuous relaxation, the delicious stupor,
produced by the smoking of hemp."
[FN#13] Cleopatra's Needle is called by the native Ciceroni "Masallat
Firaun," Pharaoh's packing needle. What Solomon, and the Jinnis and
Sikandar zu'l karnain (Alexander of Macedon), are to other Moslem
lands, such is Pharaoh to Egypt, the "Caesar aut Diabolus" of the Nile.
The ichneumon becomes "Pharaoh's cat,"-even the French were bitten and
named it, le rat de Pharaon; the prickly pear, "Pharaoh's fig;" the
guinea-worm, "Pharaoh's worm;" certain unapproachable sulphur springs,
"Pharaoh's bath;" a mausoleum at Petra, "Pharaoh's palace;" the mongrel
race now inhabiting the valley of the Nile is contemptuously named by
Turks and Arabs "Jins Firaun," or "Pharaoh's Breed;" and a foul kind of
vulture (vultur percnopterus, ak baba of the Turks, and ukab of Sind),
"Pharaoh's hen." This abhorrence of Pharaoh is, however, confined to
the vulgar and the religious. The philosophers and mystics of Al-Islam,
in their admiration of his impious daring, make him equal, and even
superior, to Moses. Sahil, a celebrated Sufi, declares that the secret
of the soul (i.e., its emanation) was first revealed when Pharaoh
declared himself a god. And Al-Ghazali sees in such temerity nothing
but the most noble aspiration to the divine, innate in the human,
spirit. (Dabistan, vol. iii.)
[FN#14] [Greek text] "Quid novi fert Africa?" said the Romans. "In the
same season Fayoles, tetrarch of Numidia, sent from the land of Africa
to Grangousier, the most hideously great mare that was ever seen; for
you know well enough how it is said, that ĎAfrica always is productive
of some new thing.'"
[FN#15] Alexandria, moreover, is an interesting place to Moslems, on
account of the prophecy that it will succeed to the honours of Meccah,
when the holy city falls into the hands of the infidel. In its turn
Alexandria will be followed by Kairawan (in the Regency of Tunis); and
this by Rashid or Rosetta, which last shall endure to the end of time.
[FN#16] A Persian as opposed to an Arab.
[FN#17] A priest, elder, chieftain, language-master, private-tutor,
&c., &c.
[FN#18] The Persians place the Prophet's tomb at Susan or Sus,
described by Ibn Haukal (p. 76). The readers of Ibn Batutah may think
it strange that the learned and pious traveller in his account of
Alexandria (chap. 2.) makes no allusion to the present holy deceased
that distinguish the city. All the saints are now clear forgotten. For
it is the fate of saints, like distinguished sinners, to die twice.
[FN#19] The Mandal is that form of Oriental divination which owes its
present celebrity in Europe to Mr. Lane. Both it and the magic mirror
are hackneyed subjects, but I have been tempted to a few words
concerning them in another part of these volumes. Meanwhile I request
the reader not to set me down as a mere charlatan; medicine in the East
is so essentially united with superstitious practices, that he who
would pass for an expert practitioner, must necessarily represent
himself an "adept."
[FN#20] Hence the origin, I believe, of the Chronothermal System, a
discovery which physic owes to my old friend, the late Dr. Samuel
[FN#21] The Persian "Mister." In future chapters the reader will see
the uncomfortable consequences of my having appeared in Egypt as a
Persian. Although I found out the mistake, and worked hard to correct
it, the bad name stuck to me; bazar reports fly quicker and hit harder
than newspaper paragraphs.
[FN#22] Arab Christians sometimes take the name of "Abdullah," servant
of Allah-"which," as a modern traveller observes, "all sects and
religions might be equally proud to adopt." The Moslem Prophet said,
"the names most approved of God are Abdullah, Abd-al-rahman (Slave of
the Compassionate), and such like."
[FN#23] "King in-the-name-of-Allah," a kind of Oriental
"Praise-God-Barebones." When a man appears as a Fakir or Darwaysh, he
casts off, in process of regeneration, together with other worldly
sloughs, his laical name for some brilliant coat of nomenclature rich
in religious promise.
[FN#24] A Murshid is one allowed to admit Murids or apprentices into
the order. As the form of the diploma conferred upon this occasion may
be new to many European Orientalists, I have translated it in Appendix
[FN#25] The Tarikat or path, which leads, or is supposed to lead, to



THE thorough-bred wanderer's idiosyncracy I presume to be a composition
of what phrenologists call "inhabitiveness" and "locality" equally and
largely developed. After a long and toilsome march, weary of the way,
he drops into the nearest place of rest to become the most domestic of
men. For a while he smokes the "pipe of permanence"[FN#1] with an
infinite zest; he delights in various siestas during the day, relishing
withal deep sleep during the dark hours; he enjoys dining at a fixed
dinner hour, and he wonders at the demoralisation of the mind which
cannot find means of excitement in chit-chat or small talk, in a novel
or a newspaper. But soon the passive fit has passed away; again a
paroxysm of ennui coming on by slow degrees, Viator loses appetite, he
walks about his room all night, he yawns at conversations, and a book
acts upon him as a narcotic. The man wants to wander, and he must do
so, or he shall die.

After about a month most pleasantly spent at Alexandria, I perceived
the approach of the enemy, and as nothing hampered my incomings and
outgoings, I surrendered. The world was "all before me," and there was
pleasant excitement in plunging single-handed into its chilling depths.
My Alexandrian Shaykh, whose heart

[p.17]fell victim to a new "jubbah," which I had given in exchange for
his tattered za'abut[FN#2] offered me, in consideration of a certain
monthly stipend, the affections of a brother and religious refreshment,
proposing to send his wife back to her papa, and to accompany me, in
the capacity of private chaplain to the other side of Kaf.
[FN#3] I politely accepted the "Bruderschaft," but many reasons induced
me to decline his society and services. In the first place, he spoke
the detestable Egyptian jargon. Secondly, it was but prudent to lose
the "spoor" between Alexandria and Suez. And, thirdly, my "brother" had
shifting eyes (symptoms of fickleness), close together (indices of
cunning); a flat-crowned head, and large ill-fitting lips; signs which
led me to think lightly of his honesty, firmness, and courage.
Phrenology and physiognomy, be it observed, disappoint you often
amongst civilised people, the proper action of whose brain upon the
features is impeded by the external pressure of education, accident,
example, habit, and necessity. But they are tolerably safe guides when
groping your way through the mind of man in his so-called natural
state, a being of impulse, in that chrysalis condition of mental
development which is rather instinct than reason.

Before my departure, however, there was much to be done.

The land of the Pharaohs is becoming civilised, and unpleasantly so:
nothing can be more uncomfortable than its present middle state,
between barbarism and the reverse. The prohibition against carrying
arms is rigid as in Italy; all "violence" is violently denounced; and

[p.18]being deemed cruel, the most atrocious crimes, as well as those
small political offences, which in the days of the Mamluks would have
led to a beyship or a bow-string, receive fourfold punishment by
deportation to Fayzoghlu, the local Cayenne. If you order your peasant
to be flogged, his friends gather in threatening hundreds at your
gates; when you curse your boatman, he complains to your consul; the
dragomans afflict you with strange wild notions about honesty; a
Government order prevents you from using vituperative language to the
"natives" in general; and the very donkey boys are becoming cognisant
of the right of man to remain unbastinadoed. Still the old leaven
remains behind: here, as elsewhere in the "Morning-land," you cannot
hold your own without employing the voie de fait. The passport system,
now dying out of Europe, has sprung up, or rather has revived, in
Egypt, with peculiar vigour.[FN#4] Its good effects claim for it our
respect; still we cannot but lament its inconvenience. By we, I mean
real Easterns. As strangers-even those whose beards have whitened in
the land-know absolutely nothing of what unfortunate natives must
endure, I am tempted to subjoin a short

[p.19]sketch of my adventures in search of a Tazkirah, or passport, at

Through ignorance which might have cost me dear but for friend
Larking's weight with the local authorities, I had neglected to provide
myself with a passport in England, and it was not without difficulty,
involving much unclean dressing and an unlimited expenditure of broken
English, that I obtained from H.B.M's Consul at Alexandria a
certificate, declaring me to be an Indo-British subject named Abdullah,
by profession a doctor, aged thirty, and not distinguished-at least so
the frequent blanks seemed to denote-by any remarkable conformation of
eyes, nose, or cheek. For this I disbursed a dollar. And here let me
record the indignation with which I did it. That mighty Britain-the
mistress of the seas-the ruler of one-sixth of mankind-should charge
five shillings to pay for the shadow of her protecting wing! That I
cannot speak my modernised "civis sum Romanus" without putting my hand
into my pocket, in order that these officers of the Great Queen may not
take too ruinously from a revenue of seventy millions! O the meanness
of our magnificence! the littleness of our greatness!

My new passport would not carry me without the Zabit or Police
Magistrate's counter-signature, said H.B.M.'s Consul. Next day I went
to the Zabit, who referred me to the Muhafiz (Governor) of Alexandria,
at whose gate I had the honour of squatting at least three hours, till
a more compassionate clerk vouchsafed the information that the proper
place to apply to was the Diwan Kharijiyah (the Foreign Office). Thus a
second day was utterly lost. On the morning of the third I started, as
directed, for the Palace, which crowns the Headland of Clay. It is a
huge and couthless shell of building in parallelogrammic form,
containing all kinds of public offices in glorious confusion, looking
with their glaring

[p.20]white-washed faces upon a central court, where a few leafless
wind-wrung trees seem struggling for the breath of life in an eternal
atmosphere of clay-dust and sun-blaze.[FN#5]

The first person I addressed was a Kawwas[FN#6] or police officer, who,
coiled comfortably up in a bit of shade fitting his person like a robe,
was in full enjoyment of the Asiatic "Kayf." Having presented the
consular certificate and briefly stated the nature of my business, I
ventured to inquire what was the right course to pursue for a visa.

They have little respect for Darwayshes, it appears, at Alexandria.

M'adri-"Don't know," growled the man of authority, without moving any
thing but the quantity of tongue absolutely necessary for articulation.

Now there are three ways of treating Asiatic officials,-by bribe, by
bullying, or by bothering them with a dogged perseverance into
attending to you and your concerns. The latter is the peculiar province
of the poor; moreover, this time I resolved, for other reasons, to be
patient. I repeated my question in almost the same words. Ruh! "Be
off," was what I obtained for all reply. But this time the questioned
went so far as to open his eyes. Still I stood twirling the paper in my
hands, and looking very humble and very persevering, till a loud Ruh ya
Kalb! "Go, O dog!" converted into a responsive curse the little speech
I was preparing about

[p.21]the brotherhood of Al-Islam and the mutual duties obligatory on
true believers. I then turned away slowly and fiercely, for the next
thing might have been a cut with the Kurbaj,[FN#7] and, by the hammer
of Thor! British flesh and blood could never have stood that.

After which satisfactory scene,-for satisfactory it was in one sense,
proving the complete fitness of the Darwaysh's costume,-I tried a dozen
other promiscuous sources of information,-policemen, grooms, scribes,
donkey-boys, and idlers in general. At length, wearied of patience, I
offered a soldier some pinches of tobacco, and promised him an Oriental
sixpence if he would manage the business for me. The man was interested
by the tobacco and the pence; he took my hand, and inquiring the while
he went along, led me from place to place, till, mounting a grand
staircase, I stood in the presence of Abbas Effendi, Naib or deputy to
the Governor.

It was a little, whey-faced, black-bearded Turk, coiled up in the usual
conglomerate posture upon a calico-covered diwan, at the end of a long,
bare, large- windowed room. Without deigning even to nod the head,
which hung over his shoulder with transcendent listlessness and
affectation of pride, in answer to my salams and benedictions, he eyed
me with wicked eyes, and faintly ejaculated "Min ent[FN#8]?" Then
hearing that I was a Darwaysh and doctor-he must be an Osmanli
Voltairean, that little Turk-the official snorted a contemptuous snort.
He condescendingly added, however, that the proper source to seek was
"Taht," which, meaning simply "below," conveyed to an utter stranger
rather imperfect information from a topographical point of view.

At length, however, my soldier guide found out that

[p.22]a room in the custom-house bore the honourable appellation of
"Foreign Office." Accordingly I went there, and, after sitting at least
a couple of hours at the bolted door in the noon-day sun, was told,
with a fury which made me think I had sinned, that the officer in whose
charge the department was, had been presented with an olive branch in
the morning, and consequently that business was not to be done that
day. The angry-faced official communicated the intelligence to a large
group of Anadolian, Caramanian, Bosniac, and Roumelian Turks,-sturdy,
undersized, broad-shouldered, bare-legged, splay-footed, horny-fisted,
dark-browed, honest-looking mountaineers, who were lounging about with
long pistols and yataghans stuck in their broad sashes, head-gear
composed of immense tarbushes with proportionate turbands coiled round
them, and bearing two or three suits of substantial clothes, even at
this season of the year, upon their shoulders.

Like myself they had waited some hours, but they were not so patient
under disappointment: they bluntly told the angry official that he and
his master were a pair of idlers, and the curses that rumbled and
gurgled in their hairy throats as they strode towards the door sounded
like the growling of wild beasts.

Thus was another day truly orientally lost. On the morrow, however, I
obtained permission, in the character of Dr. Abdullah, to visit any
part of Egypt I pleased, and to retain possession of my dagger and

And now I must explain what induced me to take so much trouble about a
passport. The home reader naturally inquires, Why not travel under your
English name?

For this reason. In the generality of barbarous countries you must
either proceed, like Bruce, preserving the "dignity of manhood," and
carrying matters with a high hand, or you must worm your way by
timidity and

[p.23]subservience; in fact, by becoming an animal too contemptible for
man to let or injure. But to pass through the Moslem's Holy Land, you
must either be a born believer, or have become one; in the former case
you may demean yourself as you please, in the latter a path is ready
prepared for you. My spirit could not bend to own myself a Burma,[FN#9]
a renegade-to be pointed at and shunned and catechised, an object of
suspicion to the many and of contempt to all. Moreover, it would have
obstructed the aim of my wanderings. The convert is always watched with
Argus eyes, and men do not willingly give information to a "new
Moslem," especially a Frank: they suspect his conversion to be feigned
or forced, look upon him as a spy, and let him see as little of life as
possible. Firmly as was my heart set upon travelling in Arabia, by
Heaven! I would have given up the dear project rather than purchase a
doubtful and partial success at such a price. Consequently, I had no
choice but to appear as a born believer, and part of my birthright in
that respectable character was toil and trouble in obtaining a

Then I had to provide myself with certain necessaries for the way.
These were not numerous. The silver-mounted dressing-bag is here
supplied by a rag containing a Miswak[FN#11] or tooth-stick, a bit of
soap and a comb, wooden, for bone and tortoiseshell are not,
religiously speaking, correct. Equally simple was my wardrobe; [p.24]a
change or two of clothing. It is a great mistake to carry too few
clothes, and those who travel as Orientals should always have at least
one very grand suit for use on critical occasions. Throughout the East
a badly dressed man is a pauper, and, as in England, a pauper-unless he
belongs to an order having a right to be poor-is a scoundrel. The only
article of canteen description was a Zemzemiyah, a goat-skin water-bag,
which, especially when new, communicates to its contents a ferruginous
aspect and a wholesome, though hardly an attractive, flavour of
tanno-gelatine. This was a necessary; to drink out of a tumbler,
possibly fresh from pig-eating lips, would have entailed a certain loss
of reputation. For bedding and furniture I had a coarse Persian
rug-which, besides being couch, acted as chair, table, and oratory-a
cotton-stuffed chintz-covered pillow, a blanket in case of cold, and a
sheet, which did duty for tent and mosquito curtains in nights of
heat.[FN#12] As shade is a convenience not always procurable, another
necessary was a huge cotton umbrella of Eastern make, brightly yellow,
suggesting the idea of an overgrown marigold. I had also a substantial
housewife, the gift of a kind relative, Miss Elizabeth Stisted; it was
a roll of canvas, carefully soiled, and garnished with needles and
thread, cobblers' wax, buttons, and other such articles. These things
were most useful in lands where tailors abound not; besides which, the
sight of a man darning his coat or patching his slippers teems with
pleasing ideas of humility. A dagger,[FN#13] a brass inkstand and

[p.25]stuck in the belt, and a mighty rosary, which on occasion might
have been converted into a weapon of offence, completed my equipment. I
must not omit to mention the proper method of carrying money, which in
these lands should never be entrusted to box or bag. A common cotton
purse secured in a breast pocket (for Egypt now abounds in that
civilised animal, the pick-pocket!), contained silver pieces and small
change.[FN#14] My gold, of which I carried twenty-five sovereigns, and
papers, were committed to a substantial leathern belt of Maghrabi
manufacture, made to be strapped round the waist under the dress. This
is the Asiatic method of concealing valuables, and one more civilised
than ours in the last century, when Roderic Random and his companion
"sewed their money between the lining and the waist-band of their
breeches, except some loose silver for immediate

[p.26]expense on the road." The great inconvenience of the belt is its
weight, especially where dollars must be carried, as in Arabia, causing
chafes and discomfort at night. Moreover, it can scarcely be called
safe. In dangerous countries wary travellers will adopt surer

A pair of common native Khurjin, or saddle-bags, contained my wardrobe;
the bed was readily rolled up into a bundle; and for a medicine
chest[FN#17] I bought a pea-green box with red and yellow flowers,
capable of standing falls from a camel twice a day.

[p.27]The next step was to find out when the local steamer would start
for Cairo, and accordingly I betook myself to the Transit Office. No
vessel was advertised; I was directed to call every evening till
satisfied. At last the fortunate event took place: a "weekly
departure," which, by the bye, occurred once every fortnight or so, was
in orders for the next day. I hurried to the office, but did not reach
it till past noon-the hour of idleness. A little, dark gentleman-Mr.
Green-so formed and dressed as exactly to resemble a liver-and-tan
bull-terrier, who with his heels on the table was dosing, cigar in
mouth, over the last "Galignani," positively refused, after a time,-for
at first he would not speak at all,-to let me take my passage till
three in the afternoon. I inquired when the boat started, upon which he
referred me, as I had spoken bad Italian, to the advertisement. I
pleaded inability to read or write, whereupon he testily cried Alle
nove! alle nove!-at nine! at nine! Still appearing uncertain, I drove
him out of his chair, when he rose with a curse and read 8 A.M. An
unhappy Eastern, depending upon what he said, would have been precisely
one hour too late.

Thus were we lapsing into the real good old East-Indian style of doing
business. Thus Anglo-Indicus orders his first clerk to execute some
commission; the senior, having "work" upon his hands, sends a junior;
the junior finds the sun hot, and passes on the word to a "peon;" the
"peon" charges a porter with the errand; and the porter quietly sits or
doses in his place, trusting that Fate will bring him out of the
scrape, but firmly resolved, though the shattered globe fall, not to
stir an inch.

The reader, I must again express a hope, will pardon the length of
these descriptions,-my object is to show him how business is carried on
in these hot countries. Business generally. For had I been, not
Abdullah the Darwaysh, but a rich native merchant, it would have been

[p.28]the same. How many complaints of similar treatment have I heard
in different parts of the Eastern world! and how little can one realise
them without having actually experienced the evil! For the future I
shall never see a "nigger" squatting away half a dozen mortal hours in
a broiling sun patiently waiting for something or for some one, without
a lively remembrance of my own cooling of the calces at the
custom-house of Alexandria.

At length, about the end of May (1853) all was ready. Not without a
feeling of regret I left my little room among the white myrtle blossoms
and the rosy oleander flowers with the almond smell. I kissed with
humble ostentation my good host's hand in presence of his servants-he
had become somewhat unpleasantly anxious, of late, to induce in me the
true Oriental feeling, by a slight administration of the bastinado-I
bade adieu to my patients, who now amounted to about fifty, shaking
hands with all meekly and with religious equality of attention; and,
mounted in a "trap" which looked like a cross between a wheel-barrow
and a dog-cart, drawn by a kicking, jibbing, and biting mule, I set out
for the steamer, the "Little Asthmatic."

[FN#1] The long pipe which at home takes the place of the shorter
chibuk used on the road.
[FN#2] The jubbah is a long outer garment, generally of cloth, worn by
learned and respectable men. The za'abut is a large bag-sleeved black
or brown coloured robe made of home-spun woollen, the garb of the
peasant, the hedge-priest, and the darwaysh.
[FN#3] The mountain which encircles the globe, according to the sacred
geography of the Moslems. To "go to Kaf" is equivalent to our "go to
Jericho," or-somewhere else.
[FN#4] Sir G. Wilkinson, referring his readers to Strabo, remarks that
the "troublesome system of passports seems to have been adopted by the
Egyptians at a very early period." Its present rigours, which have
lasted since the European troubles in 1848 and 1849, have a two-fold
object; in the first place, to act as a clog upon the dangerous
emigrants which Germany, Italy, and Greece have sent out into the
world; and secondly, to confine the subjects of the present Pasha of
Egypt to their fatherland and the habit of paying taxes. The
enlightened ruler (this was written during the rule of Abbas Pasha)
knows his own interests, and never willingly parts with a subject
liable to cess, at times objecting even to their obeying pilgrimage
law. We, on the other hand, in India, allow a freedom of emigration, in
my humble opinion, highly injurious to us. For not only does this
exodus thin the population, and tend to impoverish the land, it also
serves to bring our rule into disrepute in foreign lands. At another
time I shall discuss this subject more fully.
[FN#5] The glare of Alexandria has become a matter of fable in the
East. The stucco employed in overlaying its walls, erected by
Zul-karnayn, was so exquisitely tempered and so beautifully polished,
that the inhabitants, in order to protect themselves from blindness,
were constrained to wear masks.
[FN#6] The word literally means "a bowman, an archer," reminding us of
"les archers de la Sainte Hermandade," in the most delicious of modern
fictions. Some mis-spell the word "Kawas," "Cavass," and so forth!
[FN#7] A whip, a cravache of dried and twisted hippopotamus hide, the
ferule, horsewhip, and "cat o' nine tails" of Egypt.
[FN#8] For "man anta?" who art thou?
[FN#9] An opprobrious name given by the Turks to their Christian
converts. The word is derived from burmak, "to twist, to turn."
[FN#10] During my journey, and since my return, some Indian papers
conducted by jocose editors made merry upon an Englishman "turning
Turk." Once for all, I beg leave to point above for the facts of the
case; it must serve as a general answer to any pleasant little fictions
which may hereafter appear.
[FN#11] A stick of soft wood chewed at one end. It is generally used
throughout the East, where brushes should be avoided, as the natives
always suspect hogs' bristles.
[FN#12] Almost all Easterns sleep under a sheet, which becomes a kind
of respirator, defending them from the dews and mosquitoes by night and
the flies by day. The "rough and ready" traveller will learn to follow
the example, remembering that "Nature is founder of Customs in savage
countries;" whereas, amongst the soi-disant civilised, Nature has no
deadlier enemy than Custom.
[FN#13] It is strictly forbidden to carry arms in Egypt. This, however,
does not prevent their being as necessary-especially in places like
Alexandria, where Greek and Italian ruffians abound-as they ever were
in Rome or Leghorn during the glorious times of Italian "liberty."
[FN#14] In the Azhar Mosque, immediately after Friday service, a fellow
once put his hand into my pocket, which fact alone is ample evidence of
[FN#15] As a general rule, always produce, when travelling, the
minutest bit of coin. At present, however, small change is dear in
Egypt; the Sarrafs, or money-changers, create the dearth in order to
claim a high agio. The traveller must prepare himself for a most
unpleasant task in learning the different varieties of currency, which
appear all but endless, the result of deficiency in the national
circulating medium. There are, however, few copper coins, the pieces of
ten or five faddah (or parahs), whereas silver and gold abound. As
regards the latter metal, strangers should mistrust all small pieces,
Turkish as well as Egyptian. "The greater part are either cut or
cracked, or perhaps both, and worn down to mere spangles: after taking
them, it will not be possible to pass them without considerable loss."
Above all things, the traveller must be careful never to change gold
except in large towns, where such a display of wealth would not arouse
suspicion or cupidity; and on no occasion when travelling even to
pronounce the ill-omened word "Kis" (purse). Many have lost their lives
by neglecting these simple precautions.
[FN#16] Some prefer a long chain of pure gold divided into links and
covered with leather, so as to resemble the twisted girdle which the
Arab fastens round his waist. It is a precaution well known to the
wandering knights of old. Others, again, in very critical situations,
open with a lancet the shoulder, or any other fleshy part of the body,
and insert a precious stone, which does not show in its novel purse.
[FN#17] Any "Companion to the Medicine Chest" will give, to those that
require such information, the names of drugs and instruments necessary
for a journey; but it must be borne in mind that hot countries require
double quantities of tonics, and half the allowance of cathartics
necessary in cold climates. Sonnini, however, is right when he says of
the Egyptian fellahs, that their stomachs, accustomed to digest bread
badly baked, acrid and raw vegetables, and other green and unwholesome
nourishment, require doses fit only for horses. Advisable precautions
are, in the first place, to avoid, if travelling as a native, any signs
of European manufacture in knives, scissors, weights, scales and other
such articles. Secondly, glass bottles are useless: the drugs should be
stowed away in tin or wooden boxes, such as the natives of the country
use, and when a phial is required, it must be fitted into an etui of
some kind. By this means, ground glass stoppers and plentiful cotton
stuffing, the most volatile essences may be carried about without great
waste. After six months of the driest heat, in Egypt and Arabia, not
more than about one-fourth of my Prussic acid and chloroform had
evaporated. And, thirdly, if you travel in the East, a few bottles of
tincture of cantharides-highly useful as a rubefacient, excitant, et
cetera-must never be omitted. I made the mistake of buying my drugs in
England, and had the useless trouble of looking after them during the
journey. Both at Alexandria and Cairo they are to be found in
abundance, cheaper than in London, and good enough for all practical



IN the days of the Pitts we have invariably a "Relation" of Egyptian
travellers who embark for a place called "Roseet" on the "River Nilus."
Wanderers of the Brucean age were wont to record their impressions of
voyage upon land subjects observed between Alexandria and Cairo. A
little later we find every one inditing rhapsodies about, and
descriptions of, his or her Dahabiyah (barge) on the canal. After this
came the steamer. And after the steamer will come the railroad, which
may disappoint the author tourist, but will be delightful to that
sensible class of men who wish to get over the greatest extent of
ground with the least inconvenience to themselves and others. Then
shall the Mahmudiyah-ugliest and most wearisome of canals-be given up
to cotton boats and grain barges, and then will note-books and the
headings of chapters clean ignore its existence.

I saw the canal at its worst, when the water was low; and I have not
one syllable to say in its favour. Instead of thirty hours, we took
three mortal days and nights to reach Cairo, and we grounded with
painful regularity four or five times between sunrise and sunset. In
the scenery on the banks sketchers and describers have left you nought
to see. From Pompey's Pillar to the Maison Carree, Kariom and its
potteries, Al-Birkah[FN#1] of the night birds, Bastarah

[p.30]with the alleys of trees, even unto Atfah, all things are
perfectly familiar to us, and have been so years before the traveller
actually sees them. The Nil al-Mubarak itself-the Blessed Nile,-as
notably fails too at this season to arouse enthusiasm. You see nothing
but muddy waters, dusty banks, a sand mist, a milky sky, and a glaring
sun: you feel nought but a breeze like the blast from a potter's
furnace. You can only just distinguish through a veil of reeking
vapours the village Shibr Katt from the village Kafr al-Zayyat, and you
steam too far from Wardan town to enjoy the Timonic satisfaction of
enraging its male population with "Haykal! ya ibn Haykal! O Haykal!-O
son of Haykal[FN#2]!" You are nearly wrecked, as a matter of course, at
the Barrage; and you are certainly dumbfoundered by the sight of its
ugly little Gothic crenelles.[FN#3] The Pyramids of Khufa and Khafra

[p.31]and Cephren) "rearing their majestic heads above the margin of
the Desert," only suggest of remark that they have been remarkably
well-sketched; and thus you proceed till with a real feeling of
satisfaction you moor alongside of the tumble-down old suburb "Bulak."

To me there was double dulness in the scenery: it seemed to be Sind
over again-the same morning mist and noon-tide glare; the same hot wind
and heat clouds, and fiery sunset, and evening glow; the same pillars
of dust and "devils" of sand sweeping like giants over the plain; the
same turbid waters of a broad, shallow stream studded with sand-banks
and silt-isles, with crashing earth slips and ruins nodding over a kind
of cliff, whose base the stream gnaws with noisy tooth. On the banks,
saline ground sparkled and glittered like hoar-frost in the sun; and
here and there mud villages, solitary huts, pigeon-towers, or watch
turrets, whence litt1e brown boys shouted and slung stones at the
birds, peeped out from among bright green patches of palm-tree,
tamarisk, and mimosa, of maize, tobacco, and sugar-cane. Beyond the
narrow tongue of land on the river banks lay the glaring, yellow
Desert, with its low hills and sand slopes, bounded by innumerable
pyramids of Nature's architecture. The boats, with their sharp bows,
preposterous sterns, and lateen sails, might have belonged to the
Indus. So might the chocolate-skinned, blue-robed peasantry; the women
carrying progeny on their hips, with the eternal waterpot on their
heads; and the men sleeping in the shade or following the plough, to
which probably Osiris first put hand. The lower animals, like the
higher, were the same; gaunt, mange-stained camels, muddy buffaloes,
scurvied donkeys, sneaking jackals, and fox-like dogs. Even the
feathered creatures were perfectly familiar to my eye-

[p.32]paddy birds, pelicans, giant cranes, kites and wild water-fowl.

I had taken a third-class or deck-passage, whereby the evils of the
journey were exasperated. A roasting sun pierced the canvas awning like
hot water through a gauze veil, and by night the cold dews fell raw and
thick as a Scotch mist. The cooking was abominable, and the dignity of
Darwaysh-hood did not allow me to sit at meat with Infidels or to eat
the food which they had polluted. So the Pilgrim squatted apart,
smoking perpetually, with occasional interruptions to say his prayers
and to tell his beads upon the mighty rosary; and he drank the muddy
water of the canal out of a leathern bucket, and he munched his bread
and garlic[FN#4] with a desperate sanctimoniousness.

The "Little Asthmatic" was densely crowded, and discipline not daring
to mark out particular places, the scene on board of her was motley
enough. There were two Indian officers, who naturally spoke to none but
each other, drank bad tea, and smoked their cigars exclusively

[p.33]like Britons. A troop of the Kurd Kawwas,[FN#5] escorting
treasure, was surrounded by a group of noisy Greeks; these men's gross
practical jokes sounding anything but pleasant to the solemn Moslems,
whose saddle-bags and furniture were at every moment in danger of being
defiled by abominable drinks and the ejected juices of tobacco. There
was one pretty woman on board, a Spanish girl, who looked strangely
misplaced-a rose in a field of thistles. Some silent Italians, with
noisy interpreters, sat staidly upon the benches. It was soon found
out, through the communicative dragoman, that their business was to buy
horses for H. M. of Sardinia: they were exposed to a volley of
questions delivered by a party of French tradesmen returning to Cairo,
but they shielded themselves and fought shy with Machiavellian
dexterity. Besides these was a German, a "beer-bottle in the morning
and a bottle of beer in the evening," to borrow a simile from his own
nation; a Syrian merchant, the richest and ugliest of Alexandria; and a
few French house-painters going to decorate the Pasha's palace at
Shubra. These last were the happiest of our voyagers,-veritable
children of Paris, Montagnards, Voltaireans, and thoroughbred
Sans-Soucis. All day they sat upon deck chattering as only their lively
nation can chatter, indulging in ultra-gallic maxims, such as "on ne
vieillit jamais a table;" now playing ecarte for love or nothing, then
composing "des ponches un peu chiques;" now reciting adventures of the
category "Mirabolant," then singing, then dancing, then sleeping, and
rising to play, to drink, talk, dance, and sing again. One chaunted:

"Je n'ai pas connu mon pere
Ce respectable vieillard.
Je suis ne trois ans trop tard," &.;

Whilst another trolled out:

"Qu'est ce que je vois?
Un canard en robe de chambre!"

[p.34]They being new comers, free from the western morgue so soon
caught by Oriental Europeans, were particularly civil to me, even
wishing to mix me a strong draught; but I was not so fortunate with all
on board. A large shopkeeper threatened to "briser" my "figure" for
putting my pipe near his pantaloons; but seeing me finger my dagger
curiously, though I did not shift my pipe, he forgot to remember his
threat. I had taken charge of a parcel for one M. P-, a student of
Coptic, and remitted it to him on board; of this little service the
only acknowledgment was a stare and a petulant inquiry why I had not
given it to him before. And one of the Englishmen, half publicly, half
privily, as though communing with himself, condemned my organs of
vision because I happened to touch his elbow. He was a man in my own
service; I pardoned him in consideration of the compliment paid to my

Two fellow-passengers were destined to play an important part in my
comedy of Cairo. Just after we had started, a little event afforded us
some amusement. On the bank appeared a short, crummy, pursy kind of
man, whose efforts to board the steamer were notably ridiculous. With
attention divided between the vessel and a carpet-bag carried by his
donkey boy, he ran along the sides of the canal, now stumbling into
hollows, then climbing heights, then standing shouting upon the
projections with the fierce sun upon his back, till everyone thought
his breath was completely gone. But no! game to the backbone, he would
have perished miserably rather than lose his fare: "patience and
perseverance," say the wise, "got a wife for his Reverence." At last he
was taken on board, and presently he lay down to sleep. His sooty
complexion, lank black hair, features in which appeared beaucoup de
finesse, that is to say, abundant rascality, an eternal smile and
treacherous eyes, his gold[FN#6] ring, dress

[p.35]of showy colours, fleshy stomach, fat legs, round back, and a
peculiar manner of frowning and fawning simultaneously, marked him an
Indian. When he awoke he introduced himself to me as Miyan Khudabakhsh
Namdar, a native of Lahore: he had carried on the trade of a shawl
merchant in London and Paris, where he had lived two years, and, after
a pilgrimage intended to purge away the sins of civilised lands, he had
settled at Cairo.

My second friend, Haji Wali, I will introduce to the reader in a future
chapter; and my two expeditions to Midian have brought him once more
into notice.[FN#7]

Long conversations in Persian and Hindustani abridged the tediousness
of the voyage, and when we arrived at Bulak, the polite Khudabakhsh
insisted upon my making his house my home. I was unwilling to accept
the man's civility, disliking his looks; but he advanced cogent reasons
for changing my mind. His servant cleared my luggage through the
custom-house, and a few minutes after our arrival I found myself in his
abode near the Azbakiyah Gardens, sitting in a cool Mashrabiyah[FN#8]
that gracefully projected over a garden, and sipping the favourite
glass of pomegranate syrup.

As the Wakalahs or Caravanserais were at that time full of pilgrims, I
remained with Khudabakhsh ten days or a fortnight. But at the end of
that time my patience was thoroughly exhausted. My host had become a
civilised man, who sat on chairs, who ate with a fork, who talked
European politics, and who had learned to admire, if not to understand,
liberty-liberal ideas! and was I not flying from such things? Besides
which, we English have a

[p.36]peculiar national quality, which the Indians, with their
characteristic acuteness, soon perceived, and described by an
opprobrious name. Observing our solitary habits, that we could not, and
would not, sit and talk and sip sherbet and smoke with them, they
called us "Jangli"-wild men, fresh caught in the jungle and sent to
rule over the land of Hind.[FN#9] Certainly nothing suits us less than
perpetual society, an utter want of solitude, when one cannot retire
into oneself an instant without being asked some puerile question by a
companion, or look into a book without a servant peering over one's
shoulder; when from the hour you rise to the time you rest, you must
ever be talking or listening, you must converse yourself to sleep in a
public dormitory, and give ear to your companions' snores and
mutterings at midnight.[FN#10]

The very essence of Oriental hospitality, however, is this family style
of reception, which costs your host neither coin nor trouble. I speak
of the rare tracts in which the old barbarous hospitality still
lingers. You make one more at his eating tray, and an additional
mattress appears in the sleeping-room. When you depart, you leave if
you like a little present, merely for a memorial, with your
entertainer; he would be offended if you offered it him openly as a
remuneration, and you give

[p.37]some trifling sums to the servants. Thus you will be welcome
wherever you go. If perchance you are detained perforce in such a
situation,-which may easily happen to you, medical man,-you have only
to make yourself as disagreeable as possible, by calling for all manner
of impossible things. Shame is a passion with Eastern nations. Your
host would blush to point out to you the indecorum of your conduct; and
the laws of hospitality oblige him to supply the every want of a guest,
even though he be a detenu.

But of all Orientals, the most antipathetical companion to an
Englishman is, I believe, an East-Indian. Like the fox in the fable,
fulsomely flattering at first, he gradually becomes easily friendly,
disagreeably familiar, offensively rude, which ends by rousing the
"spirit of the British lion." Nothing delights the Hindi so much as an
opportunity of safely venting the spleen with which he regards his
victors.[FN#11] He will sit in the presence of a

[p.38]magistrate, or an officer, the very picture of cringing
submissiveness. But after leaving the room, he is as different from his
former self as a counsel in court from a counsel at a concert, a sea
captain at a club dinner from a sea captain on his quarter-deck. Then
he will discover that the English are not brave, nor clever, nor
generous, nor civilised, nor anything but surpassing rogues; that every
official takes bribes, that their manners are utterly offensive, and
that they are rank infidels. Then he will descant complacently upon the
probability of a general Bartholomew's Day in the East, and look
forward to the hour when enlightened Young India will arise and drive
the "foul invader" from the land.[FN#12] Then he will submit his
political opinions nakedly, that India should be wrested from the
Company and given to the Queen, or taken from the Queen and given to
the French. If the Indian has been a European traveller, so much the
worse for you. He has blushed to own,-explaining, however , conquest by
bribery,-that 50,000 Englishmen hold 150,000,000 of his compatriots in
thrall, and for aught you know, republicanism may have become his idol.
He has lost all fear of the white face, and having been accustomed to
unburden his mind in

"The land where, girt by friend or foe,
A man may say the thing he will,"-

he pursues the same course in other lands where it is exceedingly
misplaced. His doctrines of liberty and

[p.39]equality he applies to you personally and practically, by not
rising when you enter or leave the room,-at first you could scarcely
induce him to sit down,-by not offering you his pipe, by turning away
when you address him; in fact, by a variety of similar small affronts
which none knows better to manage skilfully and with almost impalpable
gradations. If-and how he prays for it!-an opportunity of refusing you
anything presents itself, he does it with an

"In rice strength,
In an Indian manliness,[FN#13]"

say the Arabs. And the Persians apply the following pithy tale to their
neighbours. "Brother," said the leopard to the jackal, "I crave a few
of thy cast-off hairs; I want them for medicine;[FN#14] where can I
find them?" "Wa'llahi!" replied the jackal, "I don't exactly know-I
seldom change my coat-I wander about the hills. Allah is
bounteous,[FN#15] brother! hairs are not so easily shed."

Woe to the unhappy Englishman, Pasha, or private soldier, who must
serve an Eastern lord! Worst of all, if the master be an Indian, who,
hating all Europeans,[FN#16]
[p.40]adds an especial spite to Oriental coarseness, treachery, and
tyranny. Even the experiment of associating with them is almost too
hard to bear. But a useful deduction may be drawn from such
observations; and as few have had greater experience than myself, I
venture to express my opinion with confidence, however unpopular or
unfashionable it may be.

I am convinced that the natives of India cannot respect a European who
mixes with them familiarly, or especially who imitates their customs,
manners, and dress. The tight pantaloons, the authoritative voice, the
pococurante manner, and the broken Hindustani impose upon them-have a
weight which learning and honesty, which wit and courage, have not.
This is to them the master's attitude: they bend to it like those
Scythian slaves that faced the sword but fled from the horsewhip. Such
would never be the case amongst a brave people, the Afghan for
instance; and for the same reason it is not so, we read, with "White
Plume," the North American Indian. "The free trapper combines in the
eye of an Indian (American) girl, all that is dashing and heroic in a
warrior of her own race, whose gait and garb and bravery he emulates,
with all that is gallant and glorious in the white man." There is but
one cause for this phenomenon; the "imbelles Indi" are still, with few
exceptions,[FN#17] a cowardly and slavish people, who would raise
themselves by depreciating those superior to them in the scale of
creation. The Afghans and American aborigines, being chivalrous races,
rather exaggerate the valour of their foes, because by so doing they
exalt their own.[FN#18]

[FN#1] Villages notorious for the peculiar Egyptian revelry, an
undoubted relic of the good old times, when "the most religious of men"
revelled at Canopus with an ardent piety in honour of Isis and Osiris.
[FN#2] "Haykal" was a pleasant fellow, who, having basely abused the
confidence of the fair ones of Wardan, described their charms in
sarcastic verse, and stuck his scroll upon the door of the village
mosque, taking at the same time the wise precaution to change his
lodgings without delay. The very mention of his name affronts the brave
Wardanenses to the last extent, making them savage as Oxford bargees.
[FN#3] The Barrage is a handsome bridge,-putting the style of
architecture out of consideration,-the work of French engineers,
originally projected by Napoleon the First. It was intended to act as a
dam, raising the waters of the Nile and conducting them to Suez, the
salt lakes, and a variety of other places, through a number of canals,
which, however, have not yet been opened. Meanwhile, it acts upon the
river's trunk as did the sea of old upon its embouchures, blocking it
up and converting the land around it to the condition of a swamp.
Moreover, it would have cleaned out the bed by means of sluice gates,
forming an artificial increase of current to draw off the deposit; but
the gates are wanting, so the piers, serving only to raise the soil by
increasing the deposit of silt, collect and detain suspended matter,
which otherwise would not settle. Briefly, by a trifling expenditure
the Barrage might be made a blessing to Egypt; in its present state it
is a calamity, an "enormous, cruel wonder," more crushing to the people
than were the pyramids and sphinxes of old.
[FN#4] Those skilled in simples, Eastern as well as Western, praise
garlic highly, declaring that it "strengthens the body, prepares the
constitution for fatigue, brightens the sight, and, by increasing the
digestive power, obviates the ill-effects arising from sudden change of
air and water." The traveller inserts it into his dietary in some
pleasant form, as "Provence-butter," because he observes that, wherever
fever and ague abound, the people, ignorant of cause but observant of
effect, make it a common article of food. The old Egyptians highly
esteemed this vegetable, which, with onions and leeks, enters into the
list of articles so much regretted by the Hebrews (Numbers, xi. 5;
Koran, chap. 2). The modern people of the Nile, like the Spaniards,
delight in onions, which, as they contain between 25 and 30 per cent.
of gluten, are highly nutritive. In Arabia, however, the stranger must
use this vegetable sparingly. The city people despise it as the food of
a Fellah-a boor. The Wahhabis have a prejudice against onions, leeks,
and garlic, because the Prophet disliked their strong smell, and all
strict Moslems refuse to eat them immediately before visiting the
mosque, or meeting for public prayer.
[FN#5] A policeman; see Chap. I.
[FN#6] The stricter sort of Moslems, such as the Arabs, will not wear
gold ornaments, which are forbidden by their law.
[FN#7] See "The Gold Mines of Midian," and "The Land of Midian
(Revisited)," by Sir R. F. Burton.
[FN#8] The projecting latticed window, made of wood richly carved, for
which Cairo was once so famous. But they are growing out of fashion
with young Egypt, disappearing before heating glass and unsightly green
[FN#9] Caste in India arises from the peculiarly sociable nature of the
native mind, for which reason "it is found existing among sects whose
creeds are as different and as opposite as those of the Hindu and the
Christian." (B. A. Irving's Prize Essay on the Theory and Practice of
Caste.) Hence, nothing can be more terrible to a man than expulsion
from caste; the excommunication of our feudal times was not a more
dreadful form of living death.
[FN#10] With us every man's house is his castle. But caste divides a
people into huge families, each member of which has a right to know
everything about his "caste-brother," because a whole body might be
polluted and degraded by the act of an individual. Hence, there is no
such thing as domestic privacy, and no system of espionnage devised by
rulers could be so complete as that self-imposed by the Hindus.
[FN#11] The Calcutta Review (No. 41), noticing "L'Inde sous la
Domination Anglaise," by the Baron Barchou de PenhoŽn, delivers the
following sentiment: "Whoever states, as the Baron B. de P. states and
repeats, again and again, that the natives generally entertain a bad
opinion of the Europeans generally, states what is decidedly untrue."
The reader will observe that I differ as decidedly from the Reviewer's
opinion. Popular feeling towards the English in India was "at first one
of fear, afterwards of horror: Hindus and Hindis (Moslems) considered
the strangers a set of cow-eaters and fire-drinkers, tetrae beluae ac
molossis suis ferociores, who would fight like Iblis, cheat their own
fathers, and exchange with the same readiness a broadside of shots and
thrusts of boarding-pikes, or a bale of goods and a bag of rupees."
(Rev. Mr. Anderson-The English in Western India.) We have risen in a
degree above such a low standard of estimation; still, incredible as it
may appear to the Frank himself, it is no less true, that the Frank
everywhere in the East is considered a contemptible being, and
dangerous withal. As regards Indian opinion concerning our government,
my belief is, that in and immediately about the three presidencies,
where the people owe everything to and hold everything by our rule, it
is most popular. At the same time I am convinced that in other places
the people would most willingly hail any change. And how can we hope it
to be otherwise,-we, a nation of strangers, aliens to the country's
customs and creed, who, even while resident in India, act the part
which absentees do in other lands? Where, in the history of the world,
do we read that such foreign dominion ever made itself loved?
[FN#12] This was written three years before the Indian Mutiny. I also
sent into the Court of Directors a much stronger report-for which I
duly suffered.
[FN#13] In the Arabic "Muruwwat," generosity, the noble part of human
nature, the qualities which make a man.
[FN#14] "For medicine," means for an especial purpose, an urgent
[FN#15] "Allah Karim!" said to a beggar when you do not intend to be
[FN#16] Read an account of Tipu Sahib's treatment of his French
employes. If Rangit Singh behaved better to his European officers, it
was only on account of his paramount fear and hatred of the British.
The Panjabi story of the old lion's death is amusing enough, contrasted
with that Anglomania of which so much has been said and written. When
the Sikh king, they declare, heard of our success in Afghanistan-he had
allowed us a passage through his dominions, as ingress into a deadly
trap-his spirits (metaphorically and literally) failed him; he had not
the heart to drink, he sickened and he died.
[FN#17] The Rajputs, for instance, "whose land has ever been the focus
of Indian chivalry, and the home of Indian heroes."
[FN#18] As my support against the possible, or rather the probable,
imputation of "extreme opinions," I hold up the honoured name of the
late Sir Henry Elliot (Preface to the Biographical Index to the
Historians of Mohammedan India). "These idle vapourers (bombastic
Babus, and other such political ranters), should learn that the sacred
spark of patriotism is exotic here, and can never fall on a mine that
can explode; for history will show them that certain peculiarities of
physical, as well as moral organisation, neither to be strengthened by
diet nor improved by education, have hitherto prevented their ever
attempting a national independence; which will continue to exist to
them but as a name, and as an offscouring of college declamations."



THE "Wakalah," as the Caravanserai or Khan is called in Egypt, combines
the offices of hotel, lodging-house, and store. It is at Cairo, as at
Constantinople, a massive pile of buildings surrounding a quadrangular
"Hosh" or court-yard. On the ground-floor are rooms like caverns for
merchandise, and shops of different kinds-tailors, cobblers, bakers,
tobacconists, fruiterers, and others. A roofless gallery or a covered
verandah, into which all the apartments open, runs round the first and
sometimes the second story: the latter, however, is usually exposed to
the sun and wind. The accommodations consist of sets of two or three
rooms, generally an inner one and an outer; the latter contains a
hearth for cooking, a bathing-place, and similar necessaries. The
staircases are high, narrow, and exceedingly dirty; dark at night, and
often in bad repair; a goat or donkey is tethered upon the different
landings; here and there a fresh skin is stretched in process of
tanning, and the smell reminds the veteran traveller of those closets
in the old French

[p.42]inns where cat used to be prepared for playing the part of jugged
hare. The interior is unfurnished; even the pegs upon which clothes are
hung have been pulled down for fire-wood: the walls are bare but for
stains, thick cobwebs depend in festoons from the blackened rafters of
the ceiling, and the stone floor would disgrace a civilised prison: the
windows are huge apertures carefully barred with wood or iron, and in
rare places show remains of glass or paper pasted over the framework.
In the court-yard the poorer sort of travellers consort with tethered
beasts of burden, beggars howl, and slaves lie basking and scratching
themselves upon mountainous heaps of cotton bales and other merchandise.

This is not a tempting picture, yet is the Wakalah a most amusing
place, presenting a succession of scenes which would delight lovers of
the Dutch school-a rich exemplification of the grotesque, and what is
called by artists the "dirty picturesque."

I could find no room in the Wakalah Khan Khalil, the Long's, or
Meurice's of native Cairo; I was therefore obliged to put up with the
Jamaliyah, a Greek quarter, swarming with drunken Christians, and
therefore about as fashionable as Oxford Street or Covent Garden. Even
for this I had to wait a week. The pilgrims were flocking to Cairo, and
to none other would the prudent hotel keepers open their doors, for the
following sufficient reasons. When you enter a Wakalah, the first thing
you have to do is to pay a small sum, varying from two to five
shillings, for the Miftah (the key). This is generally equivalent to a
month's rent; so the sooner you leave the house the better for it. I
was obliged to call myself a Turkish pilgrim in order to get possession
of two most comfortless rooms, which I afterwards learned were
celebrated for making travellers ill; and I had to pay eighteen
piastres for the key and eighteen ditto per mensem for

[p.43]rent, besides five piastres to the man who swept and washed the
place. So that for this month my house-hire amounted to nearly four
pence a day.

But I was fortunate enough in choosing the Jamaliyah Wakalah, for I
found a friend there. On board the steamer a fellow-voyager, seeing me
sitting alone and therefore as he conceived in discomfort, placed
himself by my side and opened a hot fire of kind inquiries. He was a
man about forty-five, of middle size, with a large round head closely
shaven, a bull-neck, limbs sturdy as a Saxon's, a thin red beard, and
handsome features beaming with benevolence. A curious dry humour he
had, delighting in "quizzing," but in so quiet, solemn, and quaint a
way that before you knew him you could scarcely divine his drift.

"Thank Allah, we carry a doctor!" said my friend more than once, with
apparent fervour of gratitude, after he had discovered my profession. I
was fairly taken in by the pious ejaculation, and some days elapsed
before the drift of his remark became apparent.

"You doctors," he explained, when we were more intimate, "what do you
do? A man goes to you for ophthalmia: it is a purge, a blister, and a
drop in the eye! Is it for fever? well! a purge and kinakina (quinine).
For dysentery? a purge and extract of opium. Wa'llahi! I am as good a
physician as the best of you," he would add with a broad grin, "if I
only knew the Dirham-birhams,[FN#1]-drams and drachms,-and a few
break-jaw Arabic names of diseases."

Haji Wali[FN#2] therefore emphatically advised me to

[p.44]make bread by honestly teaching languages. "We are
doctor-ridden," said he, and I found it was the case.

When we lived under the same roof, the Haji and I became fast friends.
During the day we called on each other frequently, we dined together,
and passed the evening in a Mosque, or some other place of public
pastime. Coyly at first, but less guardedly as we grew bolder, we
smoked the forbidden weed "Hashish,[FN#3]" conversing lengthily the
while about that world of which I had seen so much. Originally from
Russia, he also had been a traveller, and in his wanderings he had cast
off most of the prejudices of his people. "I believe in Allah and his
Prophet, and in nothing else," was his sturdy creed; he rejected
alchemy, jinnis and magicians, and truly he had a most unoriental
distaste for tales of wonder. When I entered the Wakalah, he
constituted himself my cicerone, and especially guarded me against the
cheating of trades-men. By his advice I laid aside the Darwaysh's gown,
the large blue pantaloons, and the short shirt; in fact all connection
with Persia and the Persians. "If you persist in being an 'Ajami," said
the Haji, "you will get yourself into trouble; in Egypt you will be
cursed; in Arabia you will be beaten because you are a heretic; you
will pay the treble of what other travellers do, and if you fall sick
you may die by the roadside." After long deliberation about

[p.45]the choice of nations, I became a "Pathan.[FN#4]" Born in India
of Afghan parents, who had settled in the country, educated at Rangoon,
and sent out to wander, as men of that race frequently are, from early
youth, I was well guarded against the danger of detection by a
fellow-countryman. To support the character requires a knowledge of
Persian, Hindustani and Arabic, all of which I knew sufficiently well
to pass muster; any trifling inaccuracy was charged upon my long
residence at Rangoon. This was an important step; the first question at
the shop, on the camel, and in the Mosque, is "What is thy name?" the
second, "Whence comest thou?" This is not generally impertinent, or
intended to be annoying; if, however, you see any evil intention in the
questioner, you may rather roughly ask him, "What may be his maternal
parent's name?"-equivalent to enquiring, Anglice, in what church his
mother was married,-and escape your difficulties under cover of the
storm. But this is rarely necessary. I assumed the polite, pliant
manners of an Indian physician, and the dress of a small Effendi (or
gentleman), still, however, representing myself to be a Darwaysh, and
frequenting the places where Darwayshes congregate. "What business,"
asked the Haji, "have those reverend men with politics or statistics,
or any of the information which you are collecting? Call yourself a
religious wanderer if you like, and let those who ask the object of
your peregrinations know that you are under a vow to visit all the holy
places in Al-Islam. Thus you will persuade them that you are a

[p.46]man of rank under a cloud, and you will receive much more
civility than perhaps you deserve," concluded my friend with a dry
laugh. The remark proved his sagacity; and after ample experience I had
not to repent having been guided by his advice.

Haji Wali, by profession a merchant at Alexandria, had accompanied
Khudabakhsh, the Indian, to Cairo on law-business. He soon explained
his affairs to me, and as his case brought out certain Oriental
peculiarities in a striking light, with his permission I offer a few of
its details.

My friend was defendant in a suit instituted against him in H.B.M.'s
Consular Court, Cairo, by one Mohammed Shafi'a, a scoundrel of the
first water. This man lived, and lived well, by setting up in business
at places where his name was not known; he enticed the unwary by artful
displays of capital; and, after succeeding in getting credit, he
changed residence, carrying off all he could lay hands upon. But
swindling is a profession of personal danger in uncivilised countries,
where law punishes pauper debtors by a short imprisonment; and where
the cheated prefer to gratify their revenge by the cudgel or the knife.
So Mohammed Shafi'a, after a few narrow escapes, hit upon a prime
expedient. Though known to be a native of Bokhara-he actually signed
himself so in his letters, and his appearance at once bespoke his
origin,-he determined to protect himself by a British passport. Our
officials are sometimes careless enough in distributing these
documents, and by so doing they expose themselves to a certain loss of
reputation at Eastern courts[FN#5]; still Mohammed Shafi'a

[p.47]found some difficulties in effecting his fraud. To recount all
his Reynardisms would weary the reader; suffice it to say that by
proper management of the subalterns in the consulate, he succeeded
without ruining himself. Armed with this new defence, he started boldly
for Jeddah on the Arabian coast. Having entered into partnership with
Haji Wali, whose confidence he had won by prayers, fastings, and
pilgrimages, he openly trafficked in slaves, sending them to Alexandria
for sale, and writing with matchless impudence to his correspondent
that he would dispose of them in person, but for fear of losing his
British passport and protection.

Presently an unlucky adventure embroiled this worthy British subject
with Faraj Yusuf, the principal merchant of Jeddah, and also an English
protege. Fearing so powerful an adversary, Mohammed Shafi'a packed up
his spoils and departed for Egypt. Presently he quarrels with his
former partner, thinking him a soft man, and claims from him a debt of
L165. He supports his pretensions by a document and four witnesses, who
are ready to swear that the receipt in question was "signed, sealed,
and delivered" by Haji Wali. The latter adduces his books to show that
accounts have been settled, and can prove that the witnesses in
question are paupers, therefore, not legal; moreover, that each has
received from the plaintiff two dollars, the price of perjury.

[p.48]Now had such a suit been carried into a Turkish court of justice,
it would very sensibly have been settled by the bastinado, for Haji
Wali was a respectable merchant, and Mohammed Shafi'a a notorious
swindler. But the latter was a British subject, which notably
influenced the question. The more to annoy his adversary, he went up to
Cairo, and began proceedings there, hoping by this acute step to
receive part payment of his demand.

Arrived at Cairo, Mohammed Shafi'a applied himself stoutly to the task
of bribing all who could be useful to him, distributing shawls and
piastres with great generosity. He secured the services of an efficient
lawyer; and, determining to enlist heaven itself in his cause, he
passed the Ramazan ostentatiously; he fasted, and he slaughtered sheep
to feed the poor.

Meanwhile Haji Wali, a simple truth-telling man, who could never master
the rudiments of that art which teaches man to blow hot and to blow
cold with the same breath, had been persuaded to visit Cairo by
Khudabakhsh, the wily Indian, who promised to introduce him to
influential persons, and to receive him in his house till he could
provide himself with a lodging at the Wakalah. But Mohammed Shafi'a,
who had once been in partnership with the Indian, and who possibly knew
more than was fit to meet the public ear, found this out; and, partly
by begging, partly by bullying, persuaded Khudabakhsh to transfer the
influential introductions to himself. Then the Hakim[FN#6]
Abdullah-your humble servant-appears upon the scene: he has travelled
in Feringistan, he has seen many men and their cities, he becomes an
intimate and an adviser of the Haji, and he finds out evil passages in
Mohammed Shafi'a's life. Upon which Khudabakhsh ashamed, or rather

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