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Travels In Arabia by John Lewis Burckhardt

Part 8 out of 9

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confiscated the property of all the hadjys and foreigners who died here,
withheld the surra brought from Constantinople by the Hadj, from the
people for whom it was destined, and amassed great wealth. Instances are
recorded of tyranny and brutality which cover his name with infamy. A
rich old widow, with her daughter, having arrived at Medina, from
Constantinople, to visit the tomb, he seized on her, and compelled her
to marry him; two days after, she was found dead, her property was
seized by him; and a short time after he forced the daughter to yield to
his embraces. Many complaints were made at Constantinople against this
man, but the Sultan had not power enough to dispossess him; and whenever
the caravan arrived from Syria, Hassan el Kalay showed

[p.394] so imposing an attitude, that its chiefs could attempt nothing
against him. He threw great obstacles in their way; and it is generally
ascribed to him, that the last caravan from Damascus, which attempted to
perform the journey after the Wahaby conquest, was obliged to return to

When the Wahabys began to make inroads into the Hedjaz, and to direct
their forces against Medina, the conduct of Hassan became still more
violent. During the two or three years which preceded the capture of the
town, he set no bounds to his oppressions, and was often seen to inflict
the severest punishments upon persons who happened to be laughing among
themselves when he passed by, pretending that his limping gait was the
cause of their mirth. During the night shops were robbed by the Arabs in
his service, who patrolled the streets in large parties, and no justice
could be obtained against them. When he saw the impossibility of holding
the town longer against the Wahabys, after all the surrounding Bedouins,
and Mekka itself, had surrendered, he gave up the place to Saoud, on
condition that he should be continued in his command; this was promised,
and the promise was kept: a Wahaby garrison was then placed in the
castle; the Aga el Haram, with all the Turks residing in Medina, were
obliged to leave the town, where he had been for several years a mere
shadow; and Hassan el Kalay remained governor under the Wahabys. Being
now unable to act with the same injustice as he had before done, he
affected the greatest zeal for the new religion, and oppressed the
inhabitants, by enforcing upon them, with the most scrupulous severity,
the precepts of the Wababy creed. Saoud showed much less respect for
Medina than he had done for Mekka: the income of the latter town was
left, as it was, in the hands of the Sherif, and the inhabitants were
exempted from the zekat, or tribute, which the other Wahaby subjects
paid to the chief, who here abandoned his right in favour of Ghaleb. The
same conciliatory system was not observed at Medina: the inhabitants,
who had never before known what imposts were, except the payment of some
trifling land-tax, found themselves grievously oppressed; and Hassan el
Kalay, with the tax-gatherers of Saoud, enforced the taxes with the
utmost rigour.

[p.395] The Hadj caravans now ceased; few pilgrims arrived by way of
Yembo; Saoud, soon after, prohibited the passage to the town to all
Turkish pilgrims; and the surra or stipends were of course withheld.
Under these circumstances the Medinans felt most heavily the pressure of
the times, and became exasperated against the Wahabys. Some further
details on the subject will be found in my account of Mohammed Aly's

When Mohammed Aly first prepared an expedition against the Hedjaz, a
strong garrison was placed in Medina, consisting principally of warlike
Bedouins from Nedjed and the southern provinces, under the command of
Medheyan, whom Saoud had named Sheikh of the tribe of Harb. Hassan el
Kalay showed great zeal for the common cause; and, after the first
defeat of Tousoun Pasha at Djedeyde, was confirmed in his situation at
Medina; but when Tousoun returned a second time with a larger force,
Hassan, foreseeing his success, entered into secret negotiations with
him, and received the promise of being continued in his office, provided
he would facilitate the capture of the town by the Osmanlys. On their
arrival before its gates, he joined them, and was received by Ahmed
Bonaparte, the Turkish commander, with distinguished honours; the town
was soon after attacked, and the castle taken by capitulation: but after
the Wahaby party was totally suppressed in these parts, both Medheyan,
to whom safe-conduct had been promised, and Hassan el Kalay, were
seized, put in chains, and sent by way of Cairo to Constantinople, where
they experienced the fate which, the latter at least, well merited,
though his crimes can never excuse the treachery of those who seized

Soon after the above events, the Aga el Haram, a Kislar Agassi of Sultan
Selym, returned, and partly recovered his authority; but the real
command was now in the hands of the Turkish governor. Towards the end of
the year 1814, Tousoun Pasha came here as governor, preparatory to his
intended attack upon Nedjed; and here I found him on my arrival. His
government was not bad, because his intentions were good, and he was
liked by the inhabitants for his

[p.396] generosity and devotion; but his proceedings were foolish
enough: he frightened away the Bedouins, by seizing their camels; he
thus cut off the supplies from the town, created a general want of every
kind of provision, and other necessaries; and his soldiers then soon
began to commit excesses, which he neglected to suppress by punishment.
After Tousoun's departure, his father, Mohammed Aly, arrived here in
April, 1815, and with his more experienced judgment immediately took the
proper measures for repairing the errors of his son.

Medina now continues under the government of a Turkish commander; a post
filled for a few months by the Scotchman, Thomas Keith, or Ibrahim Aga,
whom I have mentioned as being the treasurer of Tousoun Pasha. The Aga
el Haram keeps about sixty or eighty soldiers, a motley crew of Turks,
Arabs, Moggrebyns, and people of Medina; and all ecclesiastical affairs,
and the pecuniary business of the mosque, are left in his hands. Next to
him in importance stands the Kadhy, who, in the time of the Wahabys, had
been obliged to retire. The Sheikh of the Sherifs, or Sadat, continues
to enjoy great respect, as well as several other Sheikhs of the town;
and I believe, after all, that the Medinans dislike their present
masters, the Turks, less than any other class of the people of the
Hedjaz, although they certainly have not yet been cordially reconciled
to them.

Prior to the Wahaby invasion, the Sherif of Mekka kept an officer here
of inferior rank, to receive some trifling duties upon vegetables,
flesh, and other provisions brought to market; the only tax of the kind
paid by the Medinans, and the last remnant of the jurisdiction once
enjoyed by the Sherif of Mekka over Medina, and which, in later times,
has been entirely lost. Sherif Ghaleb had no authority here whatever;
but I believe, though I am not quite sure, that he still assumed the
nominal superiority, or the title of Chief of Medina; and that Medina
was supposed by the Porte to form part of the Hedjaz, under the command
of the Sherif of Mekka.

Several respectable Arabian writers affirm, that Medina forms a part of
Nedjed, and not of the Hedjaz, situated as it is on the eastern side of
the great chain; and this opinion seems to be well founded,

[p.397] if the natural boundary be considered; but, in the common
acceptation of the word on the coast, and at Mekka and Medina, the
latter town is supposed to form part of the Hedjaz, although the
Bedouins of the interior give quite a different meaning to this


I FOUND the climate at Medina, during the winter months, much colder
than that of Mekka. Snow is unknown here, though I heard that some old
people remembered to have seen it in the neighbouring mountains. The
rains have no fixed period in winter, but fall at intervals, and usually
in violent storms, which last for one day, or perhaps two days, only:
sometimes a whole winter passes without more than one fall of rain,
excepting a few light showers; the consequence of which is a general
dearth. The Medinans say, that three or four gushes of rain are
necessary to irrigate their soil; the water of the torrents then
inundating many parts of the country, especially the pasturing grounds
of the Bedouins. Uninterrupted rains for a week, or longer, such as
often occur in Syria, are quite unknown here; and after every gush of
rain, which lasts for twenty-four hours, the sky clears up, and the
finest spring weather prevails for several weeks. The last storms are
usually in April, but occasional showers are not unfrequent even in the
middle of summer.

The Medinans, and many foreigners, assert, that the summer-heat is
greater here than in any other part of the Hedjaz: I was not able to
judge myself. I have already stated that the saline nature of the soil
and water, the stagnant pools of rain-water round the town, and perhaps
the exhalation and vapours produced by the thick date-groves

[p.399] in its neighbourhood, render the air of Medina little favourable
to health.

Fevers are the most common disease, to which many of the inhabitants
themselves are subject, and from which strangers who remain here any
time seldom escape, especially in spring. Yahya Effendi, the physician
of Tousoun Pasha, assured me, when I was sick, that he had eighty
persons ill of fever under his care; and it appeared that he was more
fortunate in their cure than in mine. The fevers are almost all
intermittent, and attended after their cure by great languor: relapses
are much dreaded. When I went out after my recovery, I found the streets
filled with convalescents, whose appearance but too clearly showed how
numerous were my fellow-sufferers in the town. If not cured within a
certain time, these fevers often occasion hard swellings in the stomach
and legs, which are not removed without great difficulty. The Medinans
care little about this intermittent fever, to which they are accustomed,
and with them it seldom proves fatal; but the case is otherwise with
strangers. In some seasons it assumes an epidemic character, when as
many as eighty persons are known to have died in one week; instances of
this kind, however, seldom happen.

Dysenteries are said to be rare here. Bilious complaints, and jaundice,
are very common. There appears to be in general a much greater mortality
here than in any other part of the East that I have visited. My lodgings
were very near to one of the principal gates of the mosque, through
which the corpses were carried when prayers were to be said over them;
and I could hear, from my sick bed, the exclamations of "La illah il
Allah," with which that ceremony was accompanied. During my three
months' confinement one funeral at least, and often two, passed every
day under my window. If we reckon on the average three bodies per day
carried into the mosque through this gate, as well as the others,
besides the poor Arabs who die in the suburbs, and over whose bodies
prayers are said in the mosque situated in the Monakh, we shall have
about twelve hundred deaths annually, in this small town, the whole
population of which, I believe

[p.400] to be at most from sixteen to twenty thousand; a mortality which
cannot be repaired by births, and would long ago have depopulated the
place, did not the arrival of foreigners continually supply the loss. Of
this population I reckon about ten or twelve thousand for the town
itself, and the rest for the suburbs.


April 21st. 1815. OUR small caravan assembled in the afternoon near the
outer gate of the town, and at five o'clock P.M. we passed through the
same gate by which I entered, on my arrival, three months ago. Then I
was in full health and spirits, and indulging the fond hopes of
exploring unknown and interesting parts of the Desert on my return to
Egypt; but now, worn down by lingering disease, dejected, and
desponding, with no more anxious wish than to reach a friendly and
salubrious spot, where I might regain my health. The ground leading to
the town on this side is rocky. About three quarters of an hour distant,
the road has a steep short descent, hemmed in by rocks, and is paved, to
facilitate the passage of caravans. Our direction was S.W. by S. In one
hour we came to the bed of a torrent called Wady el Akyk, which during
the late rains had received so copious a supply from the neighbouring
mountains, that it had become like a deep and broad river, which our
camels could not attempt to pass. As the day was fine, we expected to
see it considerably diminished the next morning, and therefore encamped
on its banks, at a place called El Madderidje. Here is a small ruined
village, the houses of which were well built of stone, with a small
birket or reservoir, and a ruined well close by. Its inhabitants
cultivate some fields on the bank of Wady Akyk, but the incursions of
the Bedouins had obliged them to retire.

[p.402] Wady Akyk is celebrated by the Arabian poets. [Samhoudy says,
that this torrent empties itself into the same low ground called El
Ghaba, or Zaghaba, to the west of Medina, in the mountains where all the
torrents in this neighbourhood discharge themselves. He says also, that
on the banks of this torrent, eastward, stood the small Arab
fortification called Kasr el Meradjel; and from thence towards Ghaba the
torrent crosses a district called El Nakya. About five miles distant
from Medina was a station of the Hadj, called Zy'l Haleyfe, situated on
the banks of Wady Akyk, with a small castle and a birket, which was
rebuilt in A.H. 861. Perhaps this Madderidje is meant by it.] On its
banks stand a number of ashour trees, which were now in full flower. We
were accompanied thus far by a number of people from Medina, in
compliment to one of the Muftis of Mekka, who had been on a visit to the
town, and was now returning to his home, intending to leave our caravan
at Szafra. He had several tents and women with him. My other fellow-
travellers were petty merchants of Medina going to await at Djidda the
arrival of the Indian ships, and a rich merchant from Maskat, whom I had
seen at Mekka, where he was on the pilgrimage: he had ten camels to
carry his women, his infant children, his servants, and his baggage; and
he spent, at every station, considerable sums in charity. He appeared,
in every respect, a liberal and worthy Arab.

April 22nd. The torrent had decreased, and we crossed it in the
afternoon. We rode for an hour in a narrow valley, following the torrent
upwards. At the end of an hour and half we left the torrent: the plain
opened to the east, and is here called Esselsele; our road over it was
in the direction W.S.W. The rocks spread over the plain were calcareous.
At the end of three hours and a half we again entered the mountain, and
continued in its vallies, slowly descending, for the whole night. At the
break of day we passed the plain called El Fereysh, where I had encamped
the day before I reached Medina; and alighted, after a march of twelve
hours and a half, in the upper part of Wady es Shohada. [The distances of
this journey do not exactly agree with those given in coming to Medina;
but I prefer stating them as I found them noted down in my journal.]

April 23rd. We had no sooner deposited our baggage than a

[p.403] heavy rain set in, accompanied with tremendous peals of thunder
and flashes of lightning. The whole Wady was flooded in a moment, and we
expected that it would be necessary to pass the whole day here. I found
shelter in the tent of the merchant of Maskat. In the afternoon the
storm ceased. At two P.M. we started, and at the end of an hour passed
the tombs of the Martyrs or Shohada, the followers of Mohammed, forty of
whom, it was said, lie buried there. We continued slowly descending in
the Wady, mostly in the direction S.S.W. At the top of Wady Shohada, the
granite rocks begin, the upper ranges of that chain being calcareous. At
the end of five hours we issued from the Wady. In the night we passed
the plains of Shab el Hal and Nazye; and, after a march of thirteen
hours and a half, encamped in the mountains, in the wide valley called
Wady Medyk, which lies in the road from Nazye to Djedeyde, two hours
distant from the former, and which we had passed at night in my former
journey. I heard that in these mountains between Medina and the sea, all
the way northward, mountain-goats are met with, and that leopards are
not uncommon.

April 24th. A few Arabs of Beni Salem here sow some fields with durra,
which they irrigate by means of a fine spring of running water issuing
from a cleft in the mountains, where it forms several small basins and
pretty cascades--the best water I had drank since leaving the mountains
of Tayf. We started from hence in the afternoon, and encountered more
heavy rain from mid-day to sun-set. In the caravan were several sick and
convalescents, especially women, who were all complaining. I had had a
strong attack of fever during the night, which returned to-day, and
lasted till I reached Yembo. It was particularly distressing to me,
being accompanied by profuse perspiration during the night, followed by
shivering fits towards day-break; and as the caravan could not halt on
my account, I had no opportunity to change my linen. We were, moreover,
obliged to encamp upon wet ground; and as the number of camel-drivers
was very small, considering the quantity of baggage, I could not avoid
assisting to load, my own Bedouin being one of the most ill-natured and
lazy fellows I ever met with among people of his nation.

[p.404] We rode in the winding valley for two hours and a half, to El
Kheyf, the beginning of Wady Djedeyde, where the chief of the Turkish
post stationed there inquired for news from head-quarters: he had been a
whole fortnight without hearing what was done at Medina. During the
whole Turkish campaign in the Hedjaz, no regular couriers had been any
where established. Tousoun Pasha was often left for months at Medina,
ignorant of the state of the army under his father; and even the latter
usually received his intelligence from Mekka and Djidda by ordinary
conveyances of caravans; expresses were seldom despatched, and still
less any regular communication established over land between Cairo and
Mekka. Not merely in this respect, but in many other details of warfare,
the best Turkish commanders show an incredible want of activity or
foresight, which causes the surprise even of Bedouins, and must expose
their operations to certain failure whenever they encounter a more
vigilant enemy with no disparity of force.

The camp of the soldiers at Kheyf was completely inundated, and the
whole breadth of the wady covered with a rapid stream of water. Without
stopping any where we passed Djedeyde at the end of three hours and a
half, and further on Dar el Hamra, where the inhabitants had cultivated
several new plantations, since I passed this way in January. The copious
rains were a sure prognostic of a plentiful year, and the ever-recurring
questions put to our guides by the people they passed on the road were,
whether such and such a spot in the upper country was well drenched with
rain. In seven hours we came to Szafra. The party from Mekka that was
with us, separated here, having hired their camels only thus far, from
whence they intended to take others for the journey to Mekka; and those
which had carried them thus far, followed our party to Yembo. All those
camels which are engaged in the transport and carriage between the coast
and Medina, belong to the Beni Harb tribe.

We remained a few minutes only, about midnight, at Szafra, to drink some
coffee in one of the shops, and then continued our road to the westward
of the route by which I reached Szafra in coming from Mekka. Thick date-
plantations form an uninterrupted line on both

[p.405] sides of the narrow valley in which we slowly descended. After
nine hours and a half we passed a village called El Waset, built among
the date-groves, and having extensive gardens of fruit-trees in its
vicinity. At every step water is found in wells or fountains. A little
beyond this village we left the valley to the right, and took our way up
a steep mountain, this being a nearer road than that through the valley.
The route over the mountain was rocky and steep; our guides obliged us
to walk, and it was with difficulty that I mustered strength sufficient
to reach the summit; from thence we descended by a less rough declivity,
and, after twelve hours' march, again fell into the road in the valley,
near a small village called Djedyd. The mountain we had crossed has the
name of Thenyet Waset. The valley we had left to our right takes a
western circuitous tour, and includes several other villages, of which I
heard the following mentioned: Hosseynye, (nearest to Waset); then,
lower down, Fara and Barake, in the vicinity of Djedyd. Below Waset the
the valley is considered as belonging to Wady Beder, and above it to
Szafra. Djedyd has very few date-trees and fields; it stands upon a
plain, through which the torrent passes, after having irrigated the
upper plantations of the wady. We continued on this plain for one hour,
direction S. 50 W. After a thirteen hours' march we entered a chain of
mountains, extending westward, the same which I have mentioned in my
journey to Medina, as branching out westward from the great chain near
Bir-es'-Sheikh. Our road lay in a broad sandy valley, with little
windings, which brought us, after a very fatiguing march of fourteen
hours and a half, to Beder.

April 25th. Beder, or as it is also called, Beder Honeyn, is a small
town, the houses of which are built either of stone or mud, and of
better appearance, although less numerous, than those of Szafra. It is
surrounded by a miserable mud wall, ruined in many places. A copious
rivulet flows through the town, which rises in the ridge of mountains we
had just passed, and is conducted in a stone channel: it waters
extensive date-groves, with gardens and fields on the south-west side of
the place; and, although at a distance from its source,

[p.406] is still somewhat tepid. El Assamy, the historian of Mekka, says
that El Ghoury, Sultan of Egypt, built a fine reservoir at Beder, for
the Hadj; but I did not see it, and am ignorant whether it be yet in

Beder is situated in a plain bounded towards the N. and E. by steep
mountains; to the S. by rocky hills, and to the W. by hills of moving
sand. The Hadj caravans usually make this a station; and we found the
place where they had encamped just by the gate of the town, four months
ago, still covered with carcases of camels, rags of clothes, and remains
of broken utensils, &c. Beder is famous in Arabian history for the
battle fought here by Mohammed, in the second year of the Hedjra, with a
superior force of the Koreysh Arabs, who had come in aid of a rich
caravan expected from Syria, which Mohammed intended to waylay on this
spot. Although very ill, I walked out with the Maskat hadjys, to inspect
the field of battle, to which we were guided by a man from Beder. To the
south of the town, about one mile distant, at the foot of the hills, are
the tombs of the thirteen followers and friends of the Prophet, who fell
by his side. They are mere heaps of earth, enclosed by a row of loose
stones, and are all close together. The Koreysh, as our guide explained
to us, were posted upon the hill behind the tombs, while Mohammed had
divided his small force into two parts, with one of which he himself
advanced in the plain against the enemy, and the reserve was entrusted
to Aly ibn Aby Taleb, with orders to take his post upon the sand-hill on
the western side. The battle could not be won without the interposition
of heaven; and three thousand angels, with Gabriel at their head, were
sent to Mohammed's assistance. The above-mentioned thirteen persons were
slain in the first onset. The Prophet, hard pressed, hid himself behind
a large rock, which opened miraculously to admit him, and enabled him to
reach his reserve; he then made a second attack, and with the heavenly
auxiliaries was victorious, not losing another man, although seventy of
his adversaries were killed on the spot. A handful of stones, or dust,
which he (or according to the Koran, which God) threw towards his
enemies, caused them to fly. After he had forced their position, he
rested a little upon

[p.407] a stone, which, sensible of the honour, forthwith assumed the
form of a seat. The rock and the stone are shown; and, at all events
answer one good purpose, which is to excite the visiter's charity
towards the poor of Beder, who assemble at it whenever a caravan
arrives. The position of Aly's troop upon the distant hill, that of the
party of Mohammed close to the enemy, and the plain beyond that hill,
where the caravan from Syria pursued its route during the battle, are
made to explain the passage of the Koran, which alludes to it thus; "You
were on the nearer side of the valley, and they on the further side, and
the caravan was below," (Sur. 8.): but I could not well understand that
passage, according to the usual interpretation; and rather believe that
by the word rukb, which is taken here as synonymous with caravan, the
party of horsemen under Aly must be understood, whose position, although
upon a hill, was, with relation to Beder, a low one, the ground
descending slightly. Several small domes, which had been erected here,
were ruined by the Wahabys. In returning to the village, we walked, on
its south side, into the mosque called Mesdjed el Ghemame, built on the
spot where Mohammed once sat exposed to the sun's rays, and prayed to
God for a cloud which might overshadow him; this was immediately
granted; and the mosque derives its name from the cloud. It is better
built and more spacious than might be expected in such a poor place.

The market of Beder is furnished with the same articles as that of
Szafra. Some water-melons, the produce of the gardens, were offered for
sale. The Maskat merchant purchased, without my knowledge, five pounds
of Mekka balsam, all that remained in the market, which he intended for
a present to the Imam of Maskat. It was in the same adulterated state as
that I had formerly seen at Szafra. The inhabitants of Beder are chiefly
Bedouins of the tribe of Sobh, belonging to Harb, some of whom have
become settlers here. Others only have their shops here, and return
every evening to the tents of their family in the neighbouring
mountains. Beder being a place much frequented by Bedouins and
travellers, the houses are in great request, and a small shop in the
market pays as much as twenty

[p.408] dollars a year rent. Some Sherif families are also established
here, to whom the Hadj pays at passing considerable stipends.

In the evening several hundred camels belonging to Bedouins came to be
watered at the rivulet, escorted principally by women, who freely
entered into conversation with us. The Beni Harb established at
Djedeyde, Szafra, and Beder, give their daughters in marriage to
strangers, and even to settlers; and a few Turkish soldiers, attracted
by the beauty of some Bedouin girls, had fixed themselves here, and
married them: one of them, an Arnaut, who spoke good Arabic, and had
been accustomed from his youth to the wild life of warlike mountaineers,
intended to follow his young wife to the mountain. In the neighbouring
mountains are immense numbers of the eagle (rakham); hundreds of them
were constantly hovering about us; and some actually pounced down, and
carried off the meat from our dishes.

April 26th. We had remained here the whole of yesterday. Some people of
Beder kept watch at night over our caravan, for which they received a
small compliment. This place abounds with robbers, and we were encamped
outside the gate of the town. We left Beder in the evening, and took a
direction N. 45 W. After proceeding for three quarters of an hour, we
came to the ridge of sand-hills above mentioned, the highest summit of
which is called Goz Aly, in memory of the position occupied there by
Aly, during the battle of Beder. We crossed these hills for half an hour
with difficulty, the sands being very deep, and then descended into the
great western plain, extending as far as the sea, which is reached from
Beder in one night's march, at a small harbour, south of Yembo, called
Bereyke, much frequented by shipping. The plain, which we entered in the
direction W. 1 N. is overgrown with shrubs. During our night-march we
saw the fires of different Bedouin encampments. We met two negro
pilgrims, who had started from Yembo by themselves, and were in great
distress for water: we gave them both meat and drink, and directed them
towards the Bedouin encampments. Without a compass, these enterprising
travellers find their route across deserts: the direction of the road is
shown to them at starting, and they pursue it in a straight line by

[p.409] night and by day, until they arrive at the destined spot. After
a ride of ten hours from Beder, we encamped at the break of day in a
part of the plain, where low acacia-trees grow, called adheyba.

April 27. I found myself in a very low state this morning. Violent
vomiting and profuse sweats had rendered the last night one of the most
disagreeable nights I passed in my travels. A quarrel with my guide,
about victuals, further increased my fever to-day, to which perhaps the
late relaxation of my nerves through illness contributed. To our right,
northwards, about six hours distant, a chain of high mountains extends
towards the sea. Nearer to us a lower ridge takes the same direction.
The plain upon which we encamped is sandy, covered with small pebbles
and petrosilex. We set out after mid-day. Four hours and a half,
direction N.W. by N., trees and shrubs are no longer seen; a few saline
shrubs only indicate the proximity of the sea; and a little further on,
the ground becomes covered with a salt crust, while the air is strongly
impregnated with sea-vapours. At the end of seven hours and a half, we
again found some trees in the plain, interspersed with salt-increased
spots. At fourteen hours, having travelled the whole night over bad
ground, we saw Yembo at sun-rise; and after a ride of fifteen hours and
a half, at a very slow pace, we reached the gate of the town: just
before it we crossed an inlet of the harbour, it being then low water,
but which extends to a considerable distance inland at high tide.

[p.410] YEMBO.

IT was with some difficulty that I could find a room in one of the
okales or khans of the town, which were filled with soldiers, who had
received permission to return to Cairo, after their last expedition
against the southern Wahabys, and had come here from Djidda and Mekka;
and, besides them, there were many hadjys, who, after their return from
Medina, intended to embark for Suez or Cosseir. Among the latter was the
lady of Mohammed Aly Pasha, who had arrived from Medina; for the
transport of whose escort, suite, and baggage, four ships were in a
state of preparation. After having deposited my baggage in an airy room,
on the terrace of an okale, I walked towards the harbour, to inquire
about a passage to Egypt. This, I soon understood, it was impossible to
obtain at present. Positive orders had been given, that none should
embark but soldiers, who had already engaged three or four ships, then
ready to sail; and of whom upwards of fifteen hundred, including many
Turkish hadjys, who passed for soldiers, being armed and dressed like
them, were still waiting for conveyances.

While I was sitting in a coffee-house near the harbour, three funerals
passed at short intervals; and upon expressing my surprise at this, I
learned that many people had died within these few days of feverish
complaints. I had heard, when at Beder, that a bad fever prevailed at
Yembo, but then paid little attention to the report. During the rest of
the day I saw several other funerals, but had not the slightest

[p.411] idea to what so many deaths were to be attributed, till night,
when I had retired to my room up-stairs, which overlooked a considerable
part of the town; I then heard, in every direction, innumerable voices
breaking out in those heart-rending cries which all over the Levant,
accompany the parting breath of a friend or relative. At that moment the
thought flashed upon my mind, that it might be the plague: I attempted,
in vain, to dispel my apprehensions, or at least to drown them in sleep;
but the dreadful cries kept me awake the whole night. When I descended
early in the morning into the okale, where many Arabs were drinking
their coffee, I communicated to them my apprehensions; but had no sooner
mentioned the word plague, than they called me to order, asking me if I
was ignorant that the Almighty had for ever excluded that disorder from
the holy territory of the Hedjaz? Such an argument admits of no reply
among Moslims; I therefore walked out, in search of some Greek
Christians, several of whom I had seen the day before, in the street,
and from them I received a full confirmation of my fears. The plague had
broken out ten days ago: it had been raging at Cairo with the greatest
fury for several months; and at Suez a large part of the population had
died: from that port two ships laden with cotton stuffs had carried it
to Djidda, and from thence it was communicated to Yembo. No instance of
the plague had ever before been witnessed in the Hedjaz, at least none
within the memory of man; and the inhabitants could with difficulty
persuade themselves that such an event had occurred, especially at a
time when the holy cities had been reconquered from the Wahabys. The
intercourse with Egypt had not at any time been greater than now, and it
was, therefore, no wonder that this scourge should be carried to the
Hedjaz. While ten or fifteen people only died per day, the Arabs of the
town could not believe that the disease was the plague, although the
usual appearance of the biles upon the bodies of the infected, and the
rapid progress of the disorder, which seldom lasted more than three or
four days, might have been convincing proofs. In five or six days after
my arrival the mortality increased; forty or fifty persons died in a
day, which, in a population of five or six thousand, was a terrible
mortality. The inhabitants now felt a panic: little disposed to submit

[p.412] as patiently to the danger as the Turks do in every other part
of the East, the greater part of them fled into the open country, and
the town became deserted; but the disease followed the fugitives, who
had encamped close together; and thus finding no remedy to the evil,
many of them returned. They excused their flight by saying, "God in his
mercy sends this disease, to call us to his presence; but we are
conscious of our unworthiness, and feel that we do not deserve his
grace; therefore, we think it better to decline it, for the present, and
to fly from it:" an argument which I heard frequently repeated. Had I
been myself in full strength, I should, no doubt, have followed their
example and gone into the Desert; but I felt extremely weak, and
incapable of any exertions. I thought also that I might escape the
disease, shut up in my insulated room, and indulged moreover the hope of
a speedy passage to Egypt; in the latter, however, I was deceived. By
making a few presents, and a little bribery, I might perhaps have found
means to embark forthwith; but the vessels now ready to sail were
crowded to excess, and full of diseased soldiers, so that a stay in the
infected town was to be preferred to a departure by such a conveyance.
Some days after, I learnt that a small open boat, free from troops, was
ready to sail for Cosseir, and I immediately agreed for a passage on
board it; but its sailing was delayed from day to day, until the
fifteenth of May, when I finally left Yembo, after a stay of eighteen
days in the midst of the plague.

It was, perhaps, my own bad state of health, and the almost
uninterrupted low fever under which I laboured, that preserved me; for,
notwithstanding all my care, I was many times exposed to infection. The
great street of Yembo was lined with sick, in the very agonies of death,
asking for charity; in the yard of the okale where I lived, an Arab was
dying; the master of the okale lost a sister and a son in his own
family, and related to me, as he sat on my carpet, how his son died the
preceding night in his arms. The imprudence of my slave likewise
counteracted all my measures of precaution. Having missed him for
several days early in the morning, I inquired the cause of his absence,
when he told me that he had gone to assist in washing the dead bodies.
The poor who died during

[p.413] the night were exposed in the morning upon biers, on the sea-
shore, to be washed before the ceremony of praying over them in the
mosque; and my slave thought it meritorious to join in this office,
which had devolved upon several negro pilgrims, who happened to be at
Yembo. I desired him to remain at home, for the future, at that hour, to
prepare my breakfast; but I was as little able to prevent his walking
out at other times, as I could myself dispense with that duty; and one
could scarcely pass the bazar without touching infected people, or at
least those who had been in close contact with them.

The sense of the danger which then threatened me is much greater, now
that I find myself far removed from it, than I felt it at the time.
After the first four or five days, I became tolerably familiarized with
the idea of the plague, and compared the small numbers who died every
day with the mass of the remaining inhabitants. The great many cases of
persons remaining in full health, notwithstanding the closest connexion
with the deceased, considerably removed the apprehensions of the malady
being communicated by infection; and example works so powerfully on the
mind, that when I saw the number of foreigners then in the town quite
unconcerned, I began to be almost ashamed of myself for possessing less
courage than they displayed. The disease seemed, however, to be of the
most malignant kind; very few of those who were attacked, escaped, and
the same was observed at Djidda. The Arabs used no kind of medicine; I
heard of a few people having been bled, and of others having been cured
by applying a drawing-plaster to the neck; but these were rare
instances, which were not imitated by the great mass. As it is the
custom to bury the dead in a very few hours after decease, two instances
occurred during my stay at Yembo, of persons supposed dead being buried
alive: the stupor into which they fell when the disorder was at a
crisis, had been mistaken for death. One of them gave signs of life at
the moment they were depositing him in the grave, and was saved: the
body of the other, when his tomb was re-opened several days after his
burial, to admit the corpse of a near relation, was found with bloody
hands and face, and the winding-sheet torn, by the unavailing

[p.414] efforts he had made to rise. On seeing this, the people said,
that the devil, being unable to hurt his soul, had thus disfigured his

The governor of Yembo took great care that the exact amount of the
mortality in the town should not be known; but the solemn exclamations
of "La illaha ill' Allah," which indicate a Moslim funeral, struck the
ear from every side and quarter of the town, and I counted myself forty-
two in one day. To the poor the plague becomes a real feast; every
family that can afford it, kills a sheep on the death of any of its
members, and the day after, the men and women of the whole neighbourhood
are entertained at the house. The women enter the apartments, embrace
and console all the females of the family, and expose themselves every
moment to infection. It is to this custom, more than any other cause,
that the rapid dissemination of the plague in Mohammedan towns must be
ascribed; for when the disease once breaks out in a family, it never
fails of being transmitted to the whole neighbourhood.

It is a common belief among Europeans, and even eastern Christians, that
the Mohammedan religion forbids any precautionary measures against the
plague; but this is erroneous. That religion forbids its followers from
avoiding the disease if it has once entered a town or country; but it
warns them at the same time, not to enter any place where the plague
rages: and it accordingly forbids individuals to shut themselves up in a
house, and to cut off all communication with the rest of the infected
town, because this is the same as flying from the plague; but it favours
measures of quarantine, to prevent the importation of the disease, or
its communication to strangers upon their arrival. The belief in
predestination, however, is so deeply and universally rooted in the
minds of the eastern nations, that not the slightest measures of safety
are any where adopted. The numberless extraordinary instances of the
disease sparing those who have come into closest contact with it,
confirm them in their opinion that it is not epidemic; and their prophet
Mohammed has declared to them, "that the plague is caused by the demon's
hostile attack upon mankind," and that "those who die of it are
martyrs." The universal opinion

[p.415] prevails among Moslims, that an invisible angel of death, armed
with a lance, touches the victims he destines for the plague, whom he
finds out in the most hidden recesses. The trunk of a palm-tree lay in
one of the streets of Yembo, and it had been observed that many people
who had stepped over it, had soon after been seized with the plague; it
was therefore believed that the demon had there taken his favourite
stand, to wound the passer-by; and therefore the Arabs took a circuitous
road, to avoid their foe, although they were persuaded that he was
light-footed and could overtake them wherever they went.

That the Christians and Franks escape the disease by shutting themselves
up in their houses, affords but a feeble proof to the contrary.
Imprudence, and the tardy adoption of these measures, always cause a
slight mortality even among them; and such cases are afterwards adduced
in proof of the folly of attempting to oppose the decrees of Providence.
Besides, there are many Christians in the East, who follow Turkish
maxims, and, impressed with the same notions of predestination, think it
superfluous to take any steps for their safety. Turks trifle with so
many of the prescribed duties of their religion, that it might not,
perhaps, be difficult, in this instance, to make them adopt rational
opinions; and the more so, as the Koran is silent upon this head: but no
private measures can be adopted, and rigidly observed, as long as every
individual, almost, is convinced in his own mind of their folly and
inefficacy. If this were not universally the case, the Turks themselves
would, long ago, have found means of resorting to prophylactics, in
spite of their religious doctrines; as the Arabs now did in the Hedjaz;
and their olemas would have furnished them with fetwas, and quotations
from the law, in favour of what their good sense might have led them to
adopt. In the Hadyth, or sacred traditions, a saying of Mohammed is
recorded: "Fly from the leprous, as thou flyest from the lion."

The case is different, respecting the means of preventing the plague
from being imported, or to establish regular quarantines. This is a
measure depending entirely upon the government. The most fanatic and
orthodox Muselmans, those of the Barbary states, have adopted this
system; and the laws of quarantine are as strictly enforced in their

[p.416] harbours, as they are in the European ports on the northern
shores of the Mediterranean. That a similar system has not been
introduced into Turkey is matter of deep concern, and may be attributed
rather to motives of interest, than to bigotry. Constantinople, and the
ports of the Archipelago, I have not visited myself; but I know that it
would be easy for the governors of Syria, and still more for the
governor of Egypt, to use their authority in introducing a system of
quarantine on the coast, without any dread of opposition from their
subjects. The governments of Syria, however, must be guided in such
matters by the Porte, and would hardly attempt to establish quarantine,
without the authority of their sovereign: but Mohammed Aly has often
acted directly contrary to the orders of the Porte, even in matters
affecting his sovereign's pecuniary interest; and we may believe that it
is not solely the fear of displeasing his master, which has prevented
him from listening to the frequent friendly advice and representations
made to him on this subject by European powers; and, at the same time,
his loose religious principles are too well known, to suppose that
bigotry restrains him from yielding to their solicitations.

While for four succeeding years, from 1812 to 1816, the plague has every
spring made ravages in Egypt, Mohammed Aly himself, with his family and
principal officers, have been shut up in their palaces with scrupulous
care; thus offering infinitely more scandal to the people than they
would have done by the establishment of quarantine regulations. Wishing,
however, to be considered by Europeans as a liberally-thinking man,
devoid of any prejudices, he had really given orders, in 1813 and 1814,
to establish a quarantine at Alexandria; but the shameful manner in
which it was conducted, clearly proved that he had no sincere wish to
guard his subjects from the horrors of infection; and the whole scheme
was soon after abandoned. My own inquiries, and the opinion of many
Turks themselves, who judge of the measures of their own government much
better than is generally supposed, have led me to believe, that the
Grand Signior, as well as his Pashas, tolerate the plague in their
dominions, because the numerous deaths fill their purses: with respect
to Egypt, I hold this to be indisputably the secret cause. The
commercial towns of Cairo, Alexandria,

[p.417] and Damietta, are crowded with foreign merchants, and other
strangers from all quarters of the East are established there: according
to the law, the property of all persons who have no near heirs to claim
it, falls to the Beit el Mal; a treasury, formerly destined for purposes
beneficial to the subjects, but now entirely at the private disposal of
the governors. The increased mortality thus causes great sums to fall
into their hands. The prefect of every quarter of the town must, under
the heaviest penalties, inform the government of any stranger or
individual without heirs who dies within his district; and not only is
the property of such people seized, but even that of those persons whose
heirs, although known, are absent in foreign countries, and to whom no
other privilege is granted, in return, than that of addressing their
unavailing claims to the same governor, who converts the income of the
Beit el Mal to his own use. The most flagrant injustice is committed
with respect to the property of deceased persons, as well during the
plague as at other times; and the Kadhy, with a whole train of olemas,
officers, and people in inferior employments, share in the illegal
spoil. In the same manner the property of military officers, and of many
soldiers, is sequestrated at their death. Upon a moderate calculation,
the plague this year in Egypt, which carried off in the city of Cairo
alone from thirty to forty thousand, added twenty thousand purses, or
ten millions of piastres, to the coffers of the Pasha, a sum large
enough to stifle any feelings of humanity in the breast of a Turk. That
the population has diminished, and consequently the regular revenues
suffered, is a reflection which a Turkish governor never makes, who
calculates merely the immediate consequences of an event; and, provided
he be safe himself, and his wealth increasing, cares little for the fate
of his subjects. As the plague seldom visits the open country, and
therefore does not deprive the soil of its labourers, its effects are
less dreaded by the Pasha. He will never be convinced that policy, as
well as humanity, dictates a removal of the causes of plague, until he
has seen a whole province depopulated, and the fields which yield him
his revenues deserted. [The little care taken by the government in Egypt
for preserving the lives of the subject is evinced in an equally strange
manner, by the neglect with which the small-pox is treated; a disease
that makes as great ravages in Upper Egypt as ever the plague could do,
which, itself seldom visits those southern provinces. The numerous
representations made to Mohammed Aly for the introduction of vaccination
have been of no avail, though, if he had chosen to inquire, he might
have known that in 1813, in the small town of Esne alone, upwards of two
hundred and fifty persons, adults and children, fell victims to the
small-pox, the violence of which is much greater in these climates than
in Europe.]

[p.418] It should seem as if Constantinople and Cairo were the great
receptacles of plague in the East, communicating it mutually to each
other, and to the neighbouring countries. How far the joint and
energetic representations of European powers might induce the Grand
Signior to adopt measures of safety for his capital, and to insure by
that means the safety of the population of European Turkey and Anatolia,
I am unable to decide; but I have little doubt, that a firm remonstrance
from the English government would induce the Pasha of Egypt to obey the
call of humanity, and thus benefit Egypt, as well as Syria and the
English possessions in the Mediterranean.

The ravages of the plague were still more deplorable at Djidda than at
Yembo; as many as two hundred and fifty persons died there per day.
Great numbers of the inhabitants fled to Mekka, thinking to be safe in
that sacred asylum; but they carried the disease with them, and a number
of Mekkans died, although much less in proportion than at Djidda. Even
the Kadhy of Djidda, an Arab, made his escape to Mekka, with all his
olemas; but Hassan Pasha, then governor of the holy city, ordered him,
under pain of death, to return immediately to his post; and he died on
the road. The principal marketstreet of Djidda was quite deserted, and
numbers of families were entirely destroyed. As a great many foreign
merchants were then in Djidda, their property considerably increased
Mohammed Aly's treasure; and I heard from eye-witnesses, that the only
business then done in the town was the transport of corpses to the
burial-ground, and that of the deceased's valuable property to the house
of the commandant. Medina remained free from the plague, as did the open
country between Yembo and Djidda.

I shall mention here a particular custom of the Arabs. When the

[p.419] plague had reached its height at Yembo, the Arab inhabitants led
in procession through the town a she-camel, thickly covered with all
sorts of ornaments, feathers, bells, &c. &c.: when they reached the
burialground, they killed it, and threw its flesh to the vultures and
the dogs. They hoped that the plague, dispersed over the town, would
hasten to take refuge in the body of the camel, and that by slaughtering
the victim, they would get rid at once of the disease. Many of the more
sensible Arabs laughed at this; but it was so far of some use, that it
inspired the lower classes with courage.

The town of Yembo is built on the northern side of a deep bay, which
affords good anchorage for ships, and is protected from the violence of
the wind by an island at its entrance. The ships lie close in shore, and
the harbour is spacious enough to contain the largest fleet. The town is
divided by a creek of the bay into two parts; the largest division is
called exclusively Yembo; the other, on the western side, bears the name
of El Kad, and is principally inhabited by seafaring people. Both
divisions have the sea in front, and are enclosed on the other sides by
a common wall, of considerable strength, better built than those of
Djidda, Tayf, and Medina. It is flanked by many towers and was erected
by the joint labour of the inhabitants themselves, as a defence against
the Wahabys, the ancient wall being ruined, and enclosing only a part of
the town. The new wall comprises an area almost double the space
occupied by habitations, leaving between it and the latter, large open
squares, which are either used as burial-grounds, encamping-places for
caravans, for the exercising of troops, or are abandoned as waste
ground. The extent of the wall would require a large garrison to defend
it at all points; the whole armed population of Yembo is inadequate to
it: but Eastern engineers always estimate the strength of a
fortification by its size; and with the same view a thick wall and deep
ditch have been lately carried along the outskirts of the old town of
Alexandria, which it would require at least twenty-five thousand men to

Yembo has two gates towards the east and north; Bab el Medina, and Bab
el Masry. The houses of the town are worse built than those

[p.420] of any other town in the Hedjaz. Their structure is so coarse,
that few of the stones with which they are built have their surfaces
hewn smooth. The stone is calcareous, full of fossils, and of a glaring
white colour, which renders the view of the town particularly
distressing to the eyes. Most of the houses have only a ground-floor.
Except three or four badly-built mosques, a few half-ruined public
khans, and the house of the governor on the sea-side, (also a mean
building), there is no large edifice in the place.

Yembo is a complete Arab town; very few foreigners are settled here: of
Indians, who have such numerous colonies at Mekka, Djidda, and Medina,
two or three individuals only are found as shopkeepers; all the
merchants being Arabs, except a few Turks, who occasionally take up a
temporary residence. Most of the inhabitants belong to the Bedouin tribe
of Djeheyne, in this neighbourhood, (which extends northward along the
sea-shore), many of whom have become settlers: several families of
Sherifs, originally from Mekka, have mixed with them. The settlers in
this town, or, as they are called, the Yembawys, continue to live and
dress like Bedouins. They wear the keffie, or green and yellow striped
silk handkerchief, on the head, and a white abba on their shoulder, with
a gown of blue linen, or coloured cotton, or silk stuff, under it, which
they tie close with a leathern girdle. Their eating, and whole mode of
living, their manners and customs, are those of Bedouins. The different
branches of the Djeheyne tribe established here have each their sheikh:
they quarrel with each other as often as they might do if encamping in
the open country, and observe the same laws in their hostilities and
their blood-revenge as the Bedouins.

The principal occupation of the Yembawys is trade and navigation. The
town possesses about forty or fifty ships, engaged in all branches of
the Red Sea trade, and navigated by natives of the town, or slaves. The
intercourse between Yembo and Egypt is very frequent. Many Yembawys are
settled at Suez and Cosseir, and some at Cairo and Kenne in Upper Egypt,
from whence they trade with their native place. Others trade with the
Bedouins of the Hedjaz, and on the shores of the Red Sea, as far
Moeyleh, and exchange in their encampments the

[p.421] provisions brought to Yembo from Egypt, for cattle, butter, and
honey, which they sell again at a great profit upon their return to the

The people of Yembo are less civil, and of more rude and sometimes wild
behaviour, than those of Djidda or Mekka, but, on the other hand, their
manners are much more orderly, and they are less addicted to vice than
the latter, and enjoy, generally, over the Hedjaz, all the advantages of
a respectable name. Although there are no individuals of great wealth in
the town, every body seems to enjoy more ease and plenty than even at
Mekka. Almost all the respectable families of Yembo have a country-house
in the fruitful valley called Yembo el Nakhel, or Gara Yembo, or Yembo
el Berr, about six or seven hours' distance from. hence, at the foot of
the mountains, in a N.E. direction. It is similar to the valleys of
Djedeyde [There is a road, of difficult passage, from Yembo el Nakhel to
Djedeyde, over the mountains to the north of the great road.] and
Szafra, where date-trees grow, and fields are cultivated. It extends
about seven hours in length, and contains upwards of a dozen hamlets,
scattered on the side of the mountain. The principal of these is
Soueyga, the market-place, where the great Sheikh of the Djeheyne
resides, who is acknowledged as such by the Bedouins of that tribe, as
well as by the people of Yembo.

The valley of Yembo is cultivated exclusively by Djeheyne, who have
either become settlers, and remain there the whole year, or keep a few
labourers in their plantations, while they themselves remain encamped in
the mountain, and reside in the valley only at the time of the date-
harvest, when all the Yembawys who possess gardens there, likewise
repair for a month to the same place. All kinds of fruits are cultivated
there, with which the market of Yembo is supplied. The houses, I heard,
are built of stone, and of a better appearance than those of Djedeyde.
The Yembawys consider this valley as their original place of abode, to
which the town and harbour belong as a colony. The Egyptian Hadj route
passes by Yembo el Nakhel, from whence it makes one night's journey to
Beder: this caravan, therefore, never touches the

[p.422] harbour of Yembo, although many individuals of it, in returning
from Mekka, take from Mastoura the road to Yembo, to transact some
business in the town, and rejoin the caravan at one day's journey north
of Yembo.

The trade of Yembo consists chiefly in provisions: no great warehouses
of goods are found here; but, in the shops, some Indian and Egyptian
articles of dress are exposed for sale. The ship-owners are not, as at
Djidda, merchants, but merely carriers; yet they always invest their
profits in some little mercantile speculation. The transport trade to
Medina occupies many people, and all the merchants of that town have
their agents among the Arabs of Yembo. In time of peace, the caravan for
Medina starts every fortnight; lately, from the want of camels, it
departed only every month. There are often conveyances by land for
Djidda and Mekka, and sometimes for Wodjeh and Moeyleh, the fortified
stations of the Egyptian caravan on the Red Sea. The people of Yembo are
very daring smugglers, and no ship of theirs enters the harbour without
a considerable part of its cargo being sent on shore by stealth, to
elude the heavy duties. Parties of twenty or thirty men, well armed,
repair to the harbour at night, for this purpose, and if detected, often
resist the custom-house officers by open force.

The skirts of the town are entirely barren, no trees or verdure are
seen, either within or without the walls. Beyond the salt-ground, next
to the sea, the plain is covered with sand, and continues so as far as
the mountains. To the N.E. is seen a high mountain, from whence the
great chain takes a more western course towards Beder. I believe this to
be the mountain of Redoua, which the Arabian geographers often mention.
Samhoudy places it at one day's journey from Yembo, and four days from
Medina. About one hour to the east of the town is a cluster of wells of
sweet water, called Aseylya, which are made to irrigate a few melon-
fields. Bedouins sometimes encamp there; at this time a corps of Turkish
cavalry had pitched their tents near these wells.

In the town are several wells of brackish water, but no cisterns. The
supply of water for drinking is obtained from some large cisterns,

[p.423] at about five minutes' walk from the Medina gate, where the
rainwater is collected. Small canals have been dug across the
neighbouring plains, to convey the streams of rain-water to these
cisterns. They are spacious, well-cased, subterranean reservoirs, and
some of them large enough to supply the whole town for several weeks.
They are the property of private families, whose ancestors built them,
and who sell the water, at certain prices, fixed by the governor, who
also exacts a tax from each of them. The water is excellent, much better
than that of any other town of the Hedjaz, where the inhabitants are not
industrious enough to form similar cisterns. When the winter-rains fail,
the inhabitants of Yembo suffer severely, and are obliged to fill their
water-skins at the distant wells of Aseylya.

Yembo was formerly annexed to the government of the Sherif of Mekka, who
ought to have divided the receipts at the custom-house with the Turkish
Pasha of Djidda. Ghaleb appropriated it entirely to his own treasury,
and kept here a vizier, or governor, with a guard of about fifty or
sixty men. He appears to have had little other authority than that of
collecting the customs, while the Arabs of the town were left to the
government of their own Sheikhs, and enjoyed much greater liberty than
the people of Mekka and Djidda. The powerful tribe of Djeheyne was not
to be trifled with by the Sherif; and whenever a man of Yembo was
unjustly persecuted, he flew to his relations in the Desert, who
retorted the oppression upon some of the Sherif's people or caravans
until the matter was compromised.

When Saoud, the Wahaby chief, attacked the northern parts of the Hedjaz,
his first endeavours were to reduce the two great Bedouin tribes Beni
Harb and Beni Djeheyne to submission; which was greatly facilitated by
the hatred and animosity that had always existed between those tribes,
who were frequently at war with each other. After the Djeheyne had
surrendered, and Yembo el Nakhel had received a garrison of Wahaby
soldiers, Saoud attacked Yembo, for the first time, in 1802, with a
considerable force, which remained encamped before it for several weeks,
and repeatedly attempted to carry it by assault. After his retreat, the
Yembawys built the new strong wall round

[p.424] the town, by order of the Sherif, who made them bear the whole
expense of the work. After Sherif Ghaleb himself had submitted to the
superior power of Saoud, who took possession of Mekka, Yembo still held
out for some months; and it was not till a strong army was preparing to
attack it, and the Vizier himself had fled, that the Yembawys sent a
messenger to Saoud, and capitulated, adopting at the same time his
creed. The Wahabys did not place a garrison in the town; the Sherif
continued to keep his governor there: but the Wahaby tax-gatherers came;
and the inhabitants, who, except customhouse duties, had never before
been subject to any imposts, found the government of the Wahabys press
very heavily upon them.

In the autumn of 1811, when the Turkish army under Tousoun Pasha
effected its first landing near the town, the Yembawys were very willing
to shake off the government both of the Sherif and the Wahabys; and the
officers of Ghaleb and Saoud then in the town fled, and, after a
trifling show of resistance, the two first days, by Ghaleb's commander,
who had but a few soldiers with him, and who soon saw that the spirit of
the inhabitants was wholly against fighting, the town opened its gates,
and experienced some slight injuries from the disorderly Turkish
soldiers. Since that time Yembo has been garrisoned by them, and was
made the commissariat depot of the Turkish army employed against the
enemy in the neighbourhood of Medina. The soldiers, being at a distance
from the Pasha, or his son, behaved with much more irregularity than
they dared to do either at Djidda or Mekka. Every Bimbashy, or commander
of a company, who landed here with his soldiers, assumed, during his
stay, the government of the town; while the real governor, Selym Aga,
who had but a few soldiers under him, was often reduced to a mere
cipher. Several affrays happened during my stay, and the inhabitants
were extremely exasperated. A Turkish officer shot, with his pistol, in
the open street in mid-day, a young Arab, to whom he had for some time
been making infamous proposals; he committed this murder with the
greatest composure, in revenge for his refusal, and then took refuge in
the quarters of a Bimbashy, whose soldiers were called out

[p.425] to defend him against the fury of the populace. The relations of
the Arab hastened to Medina to ask the life of the aggressor from
Mohammed Aly Pasha; I left Yembo before the affair was settled.

The Yembawys are all armed, although they seldom appear so in public,
and they carry usually a heavy bludgeon in their hand. A few of them
keep horses; the Djeheyne established at Yembo el Nakhel have good
breeds of Nedjed horses, though in small numbers. Asses are kept by
every family, to bring water to the town. The want of servants and day-
labourers is felt here still more than in the other towns of the Hedjaz.
No Yembawy will engage in any menial labour, if he has the smallest
chance of providing for his existence by other means. Egyptian peasants,
left on this coast after their pilgrimage, and obliged to earn money for
their passage home, engage themselves as porters and labourers, bring
wood, water, &c. I have seen a piastre and a half paid to a man for
carrying a load the distance of five hundred yards from the shore to a

Yembo is the cheapest place in the Hedjaz with regard to provisions; and
as it possesses good water, and appears to be in a much more healthy
situation than Djidda, a residence in it might be tolerable, were it not
for the incredible quantity of flies that haunt this coast. No person
walks out without a straw fan in his hand to drive off these vermin; and
it is utterly impossible to eat, without swallowing some of them, which
enter the mouth the moment it is opened. Clouds of them are seen passing
over the town; they settle even upon the ships that sail out of the
harbour, and remain on board during the whole voyage.


I EMBARKED at Yembo on the morning of the 15th of May, in an open
sambouk, or large boat, bound to Cosseir, there to load with corn; the
Reys or master was the son of the owner, a native of Yembo. I had agreed
for my own and my slave's passage from hence to Cosseir at five dollars,
two dollars being the usual charge paid by hadjys, and one dollar by
poor people and servants. The government allowed the ship-owners only
half a dollar per head for the transport of soldiers. As the partner of
the commander of Yembo had a share in this boat, it was allowed to
proceed without soldiers, and the Reys had told me that there were only
a dozen Arab passengers on board. In making me pay two dollars more than
the usual fare, he had agreed to let me have a small place behind the
steerage to myself. When I came on board, however, I found that I had
been deceived; above thirty passengers, principally Syrians and
Egyptians, were crowded together in the boat, with about ten sailors.
The Reys, his younger brother, the pilot, and the steward, had
established themselves in the place behind the helm for which I had
agreed. To revisit Yembo, the abode of death, was not advisable; and as
I saw no appearance of plague on board, I submitted to my lot without
any unavailing dispute. We immediately set sail, keeping close in shore.
In the evening I saw that my situation was much worse than I had
suspected it to be when I came on board; in the hold were lying half a

[p.427] sick people, two of whom were in a violent delirium; the Reys's
young brother, who had his seat close to me, was paid to attend the
sick; one of them died on the following day, and the body was thrown
overboard. Little doubt remained of the plague being actually in the
ship, though the sailors insisted that it was a different malady. On the
third day, the boy, the Reys's brother, felt great pains in his head,
and, struck with the idea of the plague, he insisted on being set on
shore. We were then in a small bay; the Reys yielded to his entreaties,
and agreed with a Bedouin on shore to carry him back on his camel to
Yembo. He was landed, and I am ignorant of his fate. The only precaution
I could take against infection, was to place my baggage round me, so as
to form an insulated spot in which I had just room enough to sit at my
ease; but notwithstanding this, I was compelled to come in contact every
moment with the ship's company. Very luckily the disease did not spread;
we had only another death, on the fifth day from our departure, though
several of the passengers were seized with the malady, which I cannot
possibly affirm to have been the plague, as I did not examine the
corpses, but every thing led me to that belief. The continual sea-
sickness and vomiting of the passengers were, perhaps, to them a
salutary operation of nature. As to myself, I was in a very low state of
health the whole of the voyage, and frequently tormented with my ague,
which was increased by the utter want of comforts on board. I had taken
a disgust to all food, excepting broths: whenever we entered a port, I
bought a sheep of the Bedouins, in order to have a dish of soup; and by
distributing the meat among the ship's people, I obtained their good-
will, so that in every instance I was well treated by them; and could
command their assistance whenever I stood in need of it, either to raise
a temporary awning every morning, or to fill my water-skins on shore.

The navigation is here the same as what I have already described in my
voyage from Sowakin to Djidda. We went into a harbour every evening,
never sailing during the night, and started again at day-break. If it
was known that no small creek or harbour lay before us, near enough to
be reached before sun-set with the then existing wind, we sometimes
stopped at an anchoring-place soon after mid-day. Unfortunately,

[p.428] the ship's boat had been carried away by a heavy sea, in a
preceding voyage; we therefore could seldom get on shore, excepting at
places where we found other vessels, whose boats we took, as we usually
anchored in deep water. The sailors showed as great cowardice here, as
those of Sowakin on a former occasion. Whenever it blew fresh, the sails
were taken in; the dread of a storm made them take shelter in a harbour,
and we never made longer courses than from twenty-five to thirty-five
miles per day. A large square cask of water was the only one on board,
and contained a supply for three days for the ship's crew only. The
passengers had each his own water-skin; and whenever we reached a
watering-place, the Bedouins came to the beach, and sold us the contents
of their full skins. As it sometimes happens that the ships are becalmed
in a bay distant from any wells, or prevented from quitting it by
adverse winds, the crew is exposed to great sufferings from thirst, for
they have never more on board their boats than a supply for three or
four days.

For the first three days we steered along a sandy shore, here entirely
barren and uninhabited, the mountains continuing at a distance inland.
At three days' journey by land and by sea from Yembo, as it is generally
computed, lies the mountain called Djebel Hassany, reaching close to the
shore; and from thence northward the lower range of the mountains are,
in the vicinity of the beach, thinly inhabited throughout by Bedouins.
The encampments of the tribe of Djeheyne extend as far as these
mountains: to the north of it, as far as the station of the Hadj called
El Wodjeh, or as it is also pronounced, El Wosh, are the dwelling-places
of the Heteym Bedouins. In front of Djebel Hassany are several islands;
and the sea is here particularly full of shoals and coral rocks, rising
nearly to the surface; from the various colours of which, the water,
when viewed from a distance, assumes all the hues of the rainbow. In
spring, after the rains, some of these little islands are inhabited by
the Bedouins of the coast, who there pasture their cattle as long as
food is found: they have small boats, and are all active fishers. They
salt the fish, and either carry it in their own boats to Yembo and
Cosseir, or sell it to the ships which pass. One of these islands,
called El Harra, belongs to

[p.429] the Beni Abs, once a powerful Bedouin tribe, but now reduced to
a few families, who live mixed with the Beni Heteym, and, like them, are
held in great disrepute by all their neighbours. Upon another island
stands the tomb of a saint, called Sheikh Hassan el Merabet, with a few
low buildings and huts round it, where a Bedouin family of the Heteym
tribe is stationary, to whom the guardianship of the tomb belongs. The
course of the Arab ships being usually close by this island, the crews
often despatch a boat with a few measures of corn to those people, or
some butter, biscuits, and coffee-beans, because they consider Sheikh
Hassan to be the patron of these seas. When we sailed by, our Reys made
a large loaf of bread, which he baked in ashes, and distributed a morsel
of it to every person on board, who eat it in honour of the saint, after
which we were treated by him with a cup of coffee.

In general, the Arab sailors are very superstitious; they hold certain
passages in great horror; not because they are more dangerous than
others, but because they believe that evil spirits dwell among the coral
rocks, and might possibly attract the ship towards the shoal, and cause
her to founder. For the same reason they observe the constant practice
of throwing, at every meal, a handful of dressed victuals into the sea,
before they sit down themselves to the repast; saying that the
inhabitants of the sea must also have their morsel, otherwise they will
impede the vessel's course. Our Reys once forgot this tribute; but on
recollecting it, he ordered a fresh loaf to be baked, and threw it into
the sea.

We met every day, during this voyage, ships coming from Egypt, and often
lay in the same bay with three or four of them, in the evening. On such
occasions quarrels frequently happen about water; and ships are often
obliged to wait one or two days before the Bedouins bring a sufficient
supply down to the coast. Butter, milk, honey, sheep, goats, salt fish,
firewood, thin branches of the shrub Arak, of which the Arabians make
their tooth-brushes, and which the Bedouins collect on this coast, are
every where to be had in plenty, and are generally exchanged for corn or
tobacco. These Bedouins are daring robbers, and often swim to the ships
during the night, to watch for the opportunity

[p.430] of pilfering. The water on the whole coast is bad, except at
Wodjeh and at Dhoba. Wodjeh, which is usually reckoned at three days'
journey northward from Djebel Hassany, is a castle on the Hadj route,
about three miles inland. Close by it is excellent spring water; and
there are likewise copious wells of tolerable water in the vicinity of
the small bay which serves as a harbour to the castle, and is therefore
called Mersa el Wodjeh. Some Moggrebyn soldiers garrison the castle,
which was said to be well stocked with provisions. Several of them were
married to Bedouin women, and carried on a trifling trade in provisions
with the ships that pass.

The neighbouring mountains of Wodjeh are inhabited by the Bedouin tribe
of Bily. To the north of Wodjeh, and about two days' journey south of
Moeyleh, lies the anchorage of Dhoba, renowned for its excellent wells.
The anchoring-place is in a large bay, one of the best harbours on this
coast, and the wells are about half an hour's distance inland, under a
grove of palm and Doum date-trees. The route of the Egyptian Hadj passes
here; and for its convenience, a birket, or reservoir, has been
constructed. The ships that sail from Cosseir to Yembo generally make
this point, and continue from thence their coasting voyage southwards.
North of Dhoba two days, lies the castle and small village of Moeyleh,
in the territory of the Howeytat and Omran Bedouins. We passed it at a
distance; but I could see considerable plantations of date-trees near
the shore. What is called the castle, appears to be a square building,
upon the plain close by the water-side. The position of Moeyleh is
distinguishable from afar by the high mountain just behind it; three
pointed summits of which, overtopping the rest, are visible sixty to
eighty miles off: I was told that in clear winter days they could be
distinguished, from Cosseir, at the moment of sun-rise. Moeyleh is the
principal position on this coast from Akaba down to Yembo. Its
inhabitants, who are for the greater part Bedouins, become settlers,
carry on a trade in cattle and fish with Tor and Yembo, and their market
is visited by numerous Bedouins of the interior of the country. It is
the only place on this coast where a regular market is kept, and where
provisions are always to be found, and thus often affords timely relief
to ships detained on their

[p.431] passage by contrary winds. Provisions being very dear in the
Hedjaz, and very cheap in Egypt, ships, on leaving the Hedjaz harbours
for Cosseir or Suez, never lay in more than is absolutely necessary; but
the passage, which is usually calculated by them at twenty days, very
often lasts a month, and sometimes even two months.

From off Moeyleh, the point of the peninsula of Sinai, called Ras Abou
Mohammed, is clearly distinguished. Ships bound from Yembo to Cosseir
generally make this promontory, or one of the islands lying before it,
and thence steer south to Cosseir. They do this, in order to take
advantage of the northerly winds that blow in these parts of the Red Sea
for nine months of the year; and they prefer the tedious, but safer mode
of a coasting voyage, during which they often enjoy a land-breeze, to
the danger and fatigue of beating up, in open sea, against the wind, or
of standing straight across from Djidda or Yembo to the African coast;
with the harbours of which, south of Cosseir, very few Red Sea pilots
are acquainted, and of the Bedouin inhabitants of which they all
entertain great fears.

On reaching Ras Mohammed, they anchor near one of the small islands, or
go into the harbour called Sherm, where they wait till a fair wind
springs up, which usually carries them to Cosseir in one or two days.

As for ourselves, we had not during the whole voyage any sort of
disagreeable occurrence, though the wind, which was seldom fair, obliged
us once to remain three days at the same anchorage; and I often expected
the vessel to be wrecked, on seeing the pilot steer among the shoals in
shore: a practice in which these people have acquired great experience,
and in which they display as much boldness as they do cowardice in the
open sea.

After twenty days' voyage we reached the neighbourhood of Ras Abou
Mohammed, on the 4th of June: the boat was secured for the night with
grapplings to some coral rocks, leeward of a small island ahead of the
promontory; the pilot intending to strike across the next morning.

As I knew that Bedouins were always to be found in the harbour of Sherm,
to transport passengers by land to Tor or Suez, I wished to be set on
shore here. The road from hence to Cairo was much shorter

[p.432] than by way of Cosseir; and my low state of health rendered it
desirable to leave the vessel where I had not the slightest
accommodation, and where the fears of the plague had not yet subsided,
though no person had died on board during the last fortnight. For the
sum of four dollars given to the Reys, and one to the pilot, they were
kind enough to go a little out of their course, and on the following
morning, the 5th of June, we entered the harbour of Sherm.

Sherm is about four or five hours distant from the point called Ras Abou
Mohammed, and is a good and spacious harbour, with anchorage for large
ships; it lies at the entrance of the gulf of Akaba, and is the best
harbour on the west side of that gulf. Under the name Sherm, or Sheroum,
(the plural,) are included two harbours half a mile distant from each
other, both equally good; but the southern is the most frequented. As a
copious well is near, these harbours are often visited by ships coming
from and going to the Hedjaz; and passengers who wish to save themselves
a voyage up the Gulf of Suez, (which during the prevalence of the
northerly winds is often of long duration,) land here, and are carried
by the Bedouins upon camels to Tor and Suez. These Bedouins, living up
in the mountains, see the ships from afar, and on their arrival hasten
to the coast to offer their services. In former times, when the Pashas
of Egypt exercised but a nominal power over the neighbouring Bedouins,
the Arabs of Tor were much dreaded by the crews of ships; they enforced
from them regular tributes whenever they entered their harbours, and
conducted themselves in a very oppressive manner. At present, Mohammed
Aly, through the means of the commander at Suez, has succeeded in
overawing these Bedouins; their conduct is now very friendly, and
travelling with them is perfectly safe: but if a ship happens to be
wrecked on their coasts, or on the islands near them (no unfrequent
occurrence), they still assert their ancient right of plundering the

In the evening a ship came in, laden with soldiers, which left Yembo six
days before us; the commander of the soldiers, and four or five of his
party, were set on shore, to proceed by land to Cairo, and both vessels
continued their voyage the next morning for Cosseir.

[p.433] There was no difficulty in obtaining camels; more than thirty
were ready to be hired; and we started, on the evening of our arrival,
in two parties, the one in advance composed of the soldiers, and the
other, at about two hours' distance behind, composed of myself and
slave, and two fellow passengers, men of Damascus, who were glad of this
opportunity of shortening their journey home. We rode this evening about
one hour and a half in a valley, and then rested for the night.

On the 6th of June we continued our road in barren valleys, among steep
rocks, mostly of granite, till we halted, about noon, under a projecting
rock that afforded us some shade. The Bedouins went to fetch water from
a place up in the western mountains, called El Hamra, which proved to be
of excellent quality. A poor woman with two goats lived in the valley
quite alone. Among the Bedouins themselves the most perfect security
prevails in this district, which is interrupted only by the scandalous
behaviour of the Turkish soldiers who pass this way. I knew these men
well from repeated experience, and therefore had declined joining their
party. When we continued our route towards evening, we met on the road
one of the Bedouin boys who served as camel-drivers to the party before
us. His camel, upon which one of the soldiers was mounted, had not been
able to keep up with the others, and its rider, furious at this delay,
had drawn his sabre, and cut the animal to make it move at a quicker
pace: when the boy remonstrated and seized the halter, he also received
a cut on the shoulder; and as he persisted in keeping his hold, the
ruffian discharged his gun at him; the boy then ran off, and waited for
our coming up. At a few miles' distance we heard from afar the soldier's
loud cursing, and found him walking behind the camel. As I expected an
affray, I had loaded my gun and pistols. When he saw me riding in front
of our people, he immediately ran towards me, and cried out to me in
Turkish to descend and to change camels with him. I laughed at him, and
told him in Arabic I was no fellah, to be addressed in that manner. In
the usual style of those soldiers, who think that every person who is
not a soldier must yield to their commands, he then turned towards my
slave and ordered him to alight, swearing

[p.434] that he would shoot one of us, if we did not obey. On hearing
this I took up my gun, and assured him that it was loaded with good
powder, and would send a bullet to his heart better than his would to
mine. During this altercation his camel had strayed a little into the
valley, and fearing for his baggage, he ran after it, and we rode on.
Not being able to follow us in the sands, he discharged his gun at me,
from a distance, which I immediately answered, and thus the battle
ended. Farther on we came up with his companions, who had alighted. I
told them, that their friend behind was embarrassed with his camel, upon
which they dispatched one of their Bedouins to fetch him, while I myself
rode on, and encamped that night in a side valley out of the road, where
the Bedouin boy again joined us, not wishing to be seen by the other

We now conducted our journey in such a manner as not to fall in again
with the soldiers; but two days after I met the man again at Tor. The
governor of Suez was then there, to whom I might have addressed my
complaints: this he was afraid of, and therefore walked up to me with a
smiling countenance, and said he hoped that no rancour subsisted between
us; that as to the shot he fired, it was merely for the purpose of
calling his companions to assist him with his camel. In reply, I assured
him that my shot had quite a different object, and that I was sorry it
had missed; upon which he laughed and went away. There are not on earth
more insolent, haughty, and at the same time vile and cowardly beings
than Turkish soldiers: wherever they expect to meet with no resistance,
they act in the most overbearing, despotic manner, and think nothing of
killing an inoffensive person, in the slightest fit of passion; but when
they meet with a firm resistance, or apprehend any bad consequences from
their conduct, there is no meanness to which they will not immediately
submit. During my journey through Egypt from Cairo to Assouan, the whole
of which was performed by land, I had several similar rencontres with
soldiers; and I must lay it down as a rule for travellers, constantly to
treat these fellows with great hauteur, as the most trifling
condescension is attributed by them to fear, and their conduct becomes
intolerable. We travelled this day about nine hours.

[p.435] June 7th. We continued our course in valleys for about two hours
and a half, when we came to a high mountain, where I was obliged to
dismount. It was with great difficulty that I could reach the summit,
for my strength was exhausted; and I had been shivering with a fever
the whole preceding night. It took us about two hours and a half to pass
the mountain, and to descend into the valley on the other side. From the
top we had a fine view of the Gulf of Akaba. The upper part of this
mountain is granite, and its lower ridges gruenstein. In the afternoon we
issued from this chain into the western plain, which declines slowly
towards the sea of Suez, and encamped in it after a ride of about ten

June 8th. We reached Tor, in about three hours and a half from our
resting-place. Here we found every thing in a great bustle. The lady of
Mohammed Aly Pasha, whom I had met with at almost every station on this
journey, had arrived here from Yembo a few days before, and, as it blew
strong from the north, had come on shore, that she might proceed by land
to Suez. The governor of Suez and Mustafa Beg, her own brother, one of
the Pasha's principal officers, had come to meet her, and her tents were
pitched close by the little village of Tor. From four to five hundred
camels were required to transport her suite and soldiers to Suez, and as
that number could not soon be prepared, she had already been waiting
here a whole week.

I had intended to stop at Tor a few days, merely to recover sufficient
strength for my journey to Cairo; but when I learned that the plague was
still at Suez, as well as at Cairo, I changed my plan, and determined to
wait here some weeks, till the season for the disease should be passed.
I soon found, however, that a residence at Tor was not very agreeable.
This little village is built in a sandy plain, close to the beach,
without any shelter from the sun; a few date-plantations are at some
distance behind it. The houses are miserable, and swarms of flies and
mosquitoes choke up the avenues of every dwelling. I remained at Tor for
the night; and having heard from the Bedouins that at one hour's
distance was another small village, in an elevated situation, with
abundance of gardens and excellent water, I resolved to take up my
quarters there.

[p.436] It is surrounded by a half-ruined wall: the remains of a small
castle are seen, said to have been constructed by Sultan Selym I., who
fortified all the outposts of his empire. The French intended to rebuild
it, but they left Egypt before the work was begun. Two small villages,
about a mile distance, on both sides of Tor, are inhabited by Arabs,
while in Tor itself none reside but Greeks, consisting of about twenty
families, with a priest, who is under the Archbishop of Mount Sinai.
They earn their livelihood by selling provisions to the ships that
anchor here to take in water, which abounds in wells, and is of a good
quality. Provisions are here twice as dear as at Cairo; and the people
of Tor have their own small boats, in which they sail to Suez for those
provisions. Were it not for the passage of Turkish soldiers, they would
be rich, as they live very parsimoniously; but the rapacity of a few of
these men often deprives them, in a single day, of the profits they have
earned during a whole year. No garrison is kept here by the Pasha.

June 9th. In the morning I rode over the ascending plain to the above-
mentioned village, which is called El Wady, after having laid in a
sufficient stock of provisions at Tor. I easily found a lodging, and was
glad to see that my expectations of the site of this village were not
disappointed: it consists of about thirty houses, built in gardens, and
among date-trees, almost every house having its own little garden. I
hired a small half-open building, which I had covered with dateleaves,
and enjoyed the immediate vicinity of a shady pleasure-ground, where
grew palm, nebek, pomegranate, and apricot trees. A large well, in the
midst of them, afforded a supply of excellent water, and I had nothing
more to wish for at present. The people of the village, who are for the
greater part Bedouins become settlers, could not suspect any motive I
might have for residing here, as they saw that I was scarcely able to
stand upon my legs: they treated me, in consequence, kindly; and little
presents of meat and other provision, which I distributed among them,
soon insured their good-will, and I had every reason to be satisfied
with their conduct. Thus enjoying complete repose, and the good mountain
air of this village, which lies so much higher than Tor, my strength
soon returned.

[p.437] For the last four years, since I had left the society of my
friends Mr. Barker and Mr. Masseyk, and the delightful gardens of
Aleppo, I had not found myself so comfortable as I did here; and even
the first day that I passed in this retreat produced a visible
improvement in my health. As I thought that slight exercise might be
useful, I rode over to the Hammam, a warm bath, round the corner of the
mountain, situated to the north of Tor, and about half an hour distant
from El Wady. Several warm springs issue from the calcareous mountain,
the principal of which has a roof built over it, and is visited by all
the surrounding Bedouins. Some half-ruined buildings, probably as old as
the demolished castle of Tor, offered, in former times, accommodation to
the visiters. The water is of a moderate heat, and appears to be
strongly impregnated with nitre. Close by the springs are extensive
date-plantations. I have never seen a richer and more luxurious growth
of palm-trees than in this place; they form so thick a wood, that it is
difficult to find one's way through it. These plantations belong to the
Bedouins of the peninsula, who come here with their families at the
date-harvest. The largest grove, however, is the property of the Greek
priests of Mount Sinai, one of whom lives in an insulated tower in the
midst of it, like a hermit, for he is the only constant resident in the
place. The fear of the Bedouins keeps him shut up for months in this
tower the entrance to which is by a ladder; and a waterman, who provides
him every week with a supply of water, is the only individual who
approaches him. The priest is placed here as gardener of the convent;
but experience shows the inefficacy of all attempts to protect the trees
from the pilfering Bedouins, and they have therefore given up the fruit
to the first comer: so that this grove, the produce of which often
amounts to the value of four or five thousand piastres, becomes public

I had some difficulty in providing myself with flesh-meat at Wady: sheep
are very scarce in the whole peninsula, and no Arab is inclined to sell
what he has. A flock had been sent from Suez to Tor, for the supply of
Mohammed Aly's lady and her suite. I was obliged to pay twelve piastres
here for a small kid.

[p.438] The second week's residence at El Wady considerably improved my
health. I was not thoroughly recovered, but only wished., at present, to
acquire sufficient strength for the journey to Cairo, where the means of
a complete cure might be found. I was the more inclined to hasten my
departure, as it was said that all the Bedouins who had camels to spare,
and had not given them up for the transport of the Pasha's women, were
soon to leave this neighbourhood, with loads of coals for Cairo, when I
should find it difficult to procure beasts of transport. I had been for
eighteen months without any letters from Europe, and felt impatient to
reach Cairo, where I knew that many awaited me. I knew too, that the
plague would have nearly subsided by the time of my arrival, as about
the end of June it always yields to the influence of the hot season. I
therefore engaged two camels from hence to Cairo, for which I paid
twelve dollars.

The Arabs of these parts have established particular transport customs:
of those who inhabit this peninsula, the tribe of Sowaleha is entitled
to one half of the transport, and the other half is shared by the two
tribes of Mezeyne and Aleygat. As I wanted two camels, one was to be
furnished to me by a Sowaleha, and the other either by a Mezeyne or
Aleygat. If no individuals of those three tribes happen to be present,
the business is easily settled with one of them, and the others have no
after claim; but if several of them are on the spot, quarrels always
arise among them, and he who conducts the traveller is obliged to give
to the others a small sum of money, to silence their claims. The same
custom or law marks out certain limits, which when the traveller and his
guide have once passed, the countrymen of the latter have no more claims
for the transport. The limit from Tor, northward, is half way between
Tor and Wady. The Bedouin who had carried me from Tor to Wady passed
this limit by stealth, none of his friends knowing of it: they pursued
when they saw us on the road; but we had passed the limits before they
came up with us, and I had thus fallen to the lot of this guide; when,
on inquiring at Wady for a new guide to Cairo, I was told that no person
could take the transport upon himself, without the knowledge or
permission of the Bedouin

[p.439] who had brought me to Wady from Tor, and upon whose camel I had
once crossed the limits. The man was therefore sent for, and as his own
camels were not present, he ceded his right to another for two dollars;
and with the latter I departed. These quarrels about transport are very
curious, and sometimes very intricate to decide: in the mean while the
traveller remains completely passive, but there is not much danger of
imposition, for the amount of the hire is always publicly known, and one
dollar is the largest sum he can lose.

I left Wady on the 17th of June. Our road lay upon an elevated plain,
bounded on the east by the high summits of the Sinai mountains, and on
the west by a low ridge of calcareous hills, which separate the plain
from the sea, and run parallel with it for about five or six hours. This
plain, which is completely barren, and of a gravelly soil, is called El
Kaa, and is in bad repute with the Bedouins, from having no springs, and
being extremely hot, from the nature of its position. Thus I found it
myself. During this day we suffered much from one of the hottest winds I
ever remember to have experienced. We alighted during the mid-day hours
in the open plain, without finding any tree to afford shade. A Bedouin
cloak, fastened to four poles, was erected as a tent, barely sheltering
me from the sun, while my two guides and my slave wrapped themselves in
their mantles, and lay down and slept in the sun. Instead of causing
perspiration, the hot air of the Semoum chokes up every pore; and in the
evening I again had the ague, which continued from hence, in irregular
fits, till I arrived at Cairo. We encamped this night in El Kaa.

June 18th. We entered, in the morning, Wady Feiran, followed it down
towards the sea, and then continued along shore for the rest of the day,
till we reached the neighbourhood of the well called El Merkha, in front
of the bay which bears the name of Birket Faraoun.

June 19th. From Merkha we again proceeded along shore, then entered the
Wady Taybe, leaving to our left the mountains, which reach close to the
shore, and in the midst of which lies the bath, called Hamam Seydna
Mousa. Taybe is a valley full of trees, which were now withered for want
of rain. Having reached its top, we

[p.440] continued over a high plain, passed Wady Osayt, and slept that
night in Wady Gharendel.

June 20th. Passing by the brackish spring of Howara, we crossed a barren
plain, reached Wady Wardan at mid-day, and encamped in the evening at
Wady Seder. Our days' journeys were very long, and we travelled some
hours during the night, that we might reach Suez in time to join the
caravan, which was preparing there to conduct the Pasha's women to
Cairo. As I shall speak in detail of this road in the journal of my
visit to Mount Sinai, I forbear entering here into any particulars: the
remarks I now made were, besides, very superficial.

June 26th. [sic] In the morning we passed Ayoun Mousa, and reached Suez
in the afternoon. The caravan was just preparing to depart, and we
started with it in the evening. There was a strong guard, and altogether
we had about six hundred camels. We travelled the whole night without
interruption, and on the morning of

June 22nd alighted at the place called El Hamra, the Hadj station
between Cairo and Adjeroud. The ladies of the Pasha had brought two
carriages with them from the Hedjaz, in which they had travelled all the
way from Tor to Suez, the road being every where of easy passage. Two
more carriages were sent for them from Cairo to Suez, one of which, an
elegant English barouche, was drawn by four horses: they got into these
at Suez, and quitted them occasionally for splendid litters or
palanquins, carried by mules. We started again in the evening, and,
travelling the whole night, reached Birket el Hadj on the morning of the
23rd, having thus made the whole journey from Tor in six days; a forced
march which, from the heat of the season, had fatigued me extremely. At
the Birket El Hadj the caravan was met by many grandees from Cairo: the
ladies of the Pasha intended to encamp there for a few days among the
date-groves. Being unable myself, from weakness, to proceed on the same
day, (although Cairo is but four hours distant,) I slept here, and
entered the city on the morning of the 24th of June, after an absence
from thence of nearly two years and a half. I found that two letters,
which I sent

[p.441]here from Medina, had not been received, and my acquaintances had
supposed me lost. The plague had nearly subsided; some of the
Christians had already re-opened their houses; but great gloom seemed to
have overspread the town from the mortality that had taken place.

The joy I felt at my safe return to Cairo was considerably increased by
flattering and encouraging letters from England; but my state of health
was too low to admit of fully indulging in the pleasures of success. The
physicians of Cairo are of the same set of European quacks so frequently
found in other parts of the Levant: they made me swallow pounds of bark,
and thus rendered my disease worse; and it was not till two months after
that I regained my perfect health at Alexandria, whither I had gone to
pay a visit to Colonel Missett, the British resident in Egypt, who had
already laid me under so many obligations, and to whose kind attentions,
added to regular exercise on horseback, more than to any thing else, I
was indebted for my recovery. A delightful journey, in the winter
months, through Lower Egypt, and by the Lake Menzaleh, restored me to my
wonted strength, which I am happy to say has never since experienced any

[p.443] APPENDIX.

[p.445] APPENDIX.

No. I.

Stations of the Pilgrim Caravan, called the "Hadj el Kebsy," through the
mountainous country between Mekka and Sanaa in Yemen.


1st day. Shedad; some coffee-huts.

2. Kura, a small village on the summit of the mountain so called.

3. Tayf.

4. Abbasa, in the district of the Thekyf Arabs.

5. Melawy Djedara, district of the Beni Sad Arabs.

6. Mekhra, district of the Naszera Arabs. The principal village of the
Beni Sad tribe is Lagham, and of the Naszera tribe, Sour; distant one
day N. of the farthest limits of Zohran. In this district is also the
fortified village of Bedjeyle.

7. Esserrar, of the Thekyf Arabs.

8. Berahrah, on the N. extremity of Zohran, a district inhabited by
Arabs of the same name. This Zohran is one of the most fertile countries
in the mountainous chain, although its villages are separated from each
other by intervals of barren rock. It is inhabited by the Zohran tribes
of Beni Malek and Beni Ghamed. The Zohran chief, Bakhroudj, having
bravely resisted Mohammed Aly Pasha, was taken by surprise, in March
1815, and cruelly cut to pieces by that Turkish general's order.

9. Wady Aly, in the same district.

10. Meshnye, on the S. borders of Zohran.

11. Raghdan, a market-place of the Ghamed Arabs.

12. Korn el Maghsal, of the Ghamed Arabs.

13. Al Zahera, of the same Arabs. These two tribes of Zohran and Ghamed
possess the Hedjaz (viz. the mountains) and adjoining districts in
Tehama, or the Western plain [p.446] towards the sea, as well as the
Eastern upper plain. The chief place of the Ghamed tribe is Mokhowa, a
town not to be confounded with Mokha.

14. El Roheyta, of the powerful tribe of Shomran.

15. Adama, of the Shomran Arabs.

16. Tabala, of the Shomran Arabs, who extend over both sides of the
mountains in the W. and E. plain.

17. El Hasba, market of the Shomran Arabs.

18. El Asabely, a village of the Asabely tribe.

19. Beni Shefra, a market-place of the tribe so called, formerly united
with the Asabelys, but formed by the Wahaby chief into a distinct tribe.

20. Shat Ibn Aryf.

21. Sedouan: this place and Shat Ibn Aryf are inhabited by Arabs of the
tribe called Ahl Aryef.

22. El Matsa.

23. Ibn Maan, which with El Matsa belong to the Ibn Katlan Arabs.

24. Ibl, in the territory of the powerful tribe of Asyr.

25. Ibn el Shayr, of the Asyr tribe.

26. Dahban, of the Kahtan Arabs, one of the most powerful tribes of the
Eastern Desert.

27. Derb Ibn el Okeyda, a wady inhabited by the Refeydha tribe, who
belong to the Asyr. They are strong in horses.

28. Derb Selman, of the Refeydha tribe.

29. Wakasha, of the Abyda Arabs. In the district of Abyda is the town of
Aryn, in a very fertile territory. From Aryn southward the Arabs keep on
the mountains a few camels, but many sheep and goats, and are what the
Bedouins call Shouawy, or Ahl Shah, or Ahl Bul.

30. Wady Yaowd, of the Abyda Arabs.

31. Howd Ibn Zyad, of the Abyda Arabs.

32. Thohran, a district and market-place of the tribe of Wadaa.

33. Keradb, of the Wadaa tribe.

34. Roghafa, of the Sahhar Arabs.

35. Dohyan, of the Sahhar Arabs.

36. Sada, of the Sahhar tribe. From Sada the caravan, or Hadj el Kebsy,
takes its departure; it is so called from the Emir, or chief of the
Hadj, who is styled Kebsy. The pilgrims from all the interior parts of
Yemen assemble at Sada: it is a large town, but much decayed, famous in
Arabia Felix as the birth-place of Yabya Ibn Hosseyn, chief promoter of
the sect of Zeyd, which has numerous adherents in that country. Of late
a new saint has appeared at Sada; he is called Seyd Ahmed, and is much
revered by the Zyoud, or sect of Zeyd, who entitle him Woly, or Saint,
even during his life. Sada is governed by Arabs: the Wahaby influence
extended thus far. From Sada towards Sanaa the country is inhabited by
Arabs, under the dominion of the Imam of Sanaa.

37. Aashemye, of the Sofyan tribe.

38. A market-place, or Souk, of the Bekyl Arabs.


39. Another market-place of the same tribe. The Bekyl and Hashed Arabs
of this district serve in the army of the Imam of Sana; many of them go
to India, and are preferred by the native princes there to any other
class of soldiers: Tipoo Saheb had several hundred of them in his
service. They generally embark at Shaher, in Hadramaut; and their chief
destination at present is Guzerat and Cutch.

40. Ghoulet Adjyb, of the Hashed Arabs.

41. Reyda, of the Omran Arabs.

42. Ayal Sorah, of the Hamdan tribe.

43. Sanaa. From Mekka to Sanaa, forty-three days' very slow travelling:
for most of the pilgrims perform the whole journey on foot.

No. II.

Of the country through which the Kebsy pilgrims travel, and the
extraordinary customs of some Arabian tribes.

THE route of this pilgrimage lies wholly along the mountains of the
Hedjaz and Yemen, having the Eastern plain on one side, and Tehama, or
the sea-coast, on the other. The road often leads through difficult
passes on the very summit of the mountains. Water abounds, in wells,
springs, and rivulets: the entire tract of country is well peopled,
although not every where cultivated, enclosed fields and trees being
only found in the vicinity of water. There is a village at every station
of the Hadj: most of these villages are built of stone, and inhabited by
Arab tribes, originally of these mountains, and now spread over the
adjoining plains. Some are very considerable tribes, such as Zohran,
Ghamed, Shomran, Asyr, and Abyda, of whom each can muster from six to
eight thousand firelocks: their principal strength consists in
matchlocks. Horses are but few in these mountains; yet the Kahtan,
Refeydha, and Abyda tribes, who likewise spread over the plain, possess
the good Koheyl breed. This country produces not only enough for the
inhabitants, but enables them to export great quantities of coffee-
beans, corn, beans, raisins, almonds, dried apricots, &c.

It is said that the coffee-tree does not grow northward beyond Meshnye,
in the Zohran country; the tree improves in quality southward: the best
coffee is produced in the neighbourhood of Sanaa. Grapes abound in these
mountains. Raisins constitute a common article of food with the Arabs,
and are exported to the towns on the sea-coast, and to Djidda and Mekka,
where a kind of wine is made from them, as follows:--The raisins are put

[p.448] earthen jars, which are then filled with water, buried in the
ground, and left there for a whole month, during which the fermentation
takes place. Most other fruits are cultivated in these mountains, where
water is at all times abundant, and the climate temperate. Snow has
sometimes fallen, and water been frozen as far as Sada. The Arabs
purchase their cotton dresses in the market-places of Tehama, or on the
coast: the passing pilgrims sell to them a few drugs, spices, and
needles, and proceed on their way in perfect security, at least since
the Wahabys have subjugated the whole country, by overpowering, after
many sanguinary battles, the hostile Sheikhs, who were forced to pay an
annual tribute.

Most of the Arab tribes south of Zohran belong to the sect of Zeyd: they
live in villages, and are chiefly what the Arabs call Hadhar, or
settlers, not Bedouins; but as they keep large herds of cattle, they
descend, in time of rain, into the Eastern plain, which affords rich
pasturage for cows, camels, and sheep. They procure clothes, drugs,
utensils, &c. from the sea-ports of Yemen, where they sell dried fruits,
dates, honey, butter, coffee-beans, &c. With the Bedouins of the Eastern
plain they exchange durra for cattle. The Spanish dollar is current
among them; but in their markets all things are valued by measures of
corn. The dress of these Bedouins generally consists in cotton stuffs
and leather.

Before the Wahabys taught them the true Mohammedan doctrines, they knew
nothing more of their religion than the creed, La Illaha ill' Allah, wa
Mohammed rasoul Allah, (There is no God but God, and Mohammed is the
prophet of God); nor did they ever perform the prescribed rites. The El
Merekede, a branch of the great Asyr tribe, indulged in an ancient
custom of their forefathers by assigning to the stranger, who alighted
at their tents or houses, some female of the family to be his companion
during the night, most commonly the host's own wife; but to this
barbarous system of hospitality young virgins were never sacrificed. If
the stranger rendered himself agreeable to his fair partner, he was
treated next morning with the utmost attention by his host, and
furnished, on parting, with provisions sufficient for the remainder of
his journey: but if, unfortunately, he did not please the lady, his
cloak was found next day to want a piece, cut off by her as a signal of
contempt. This circumstance being known, the unlucky traveller was
driven away with disgrace by all the women and children of the village
or encampment. It was not without much difficulty that the Wahabys
forced them to renounce this custom; and as there was a scarcity of rain
for two years after, the Merekedes regarded this misfortune as a
punishment for having abandoned the laudable rites of hospitality,
practised during so many centuries by their ancestors.

That this extraordinary custom prevailed in the Merekede tribe, I had
often heard during my travels among the Syrian Bedouins, but could not
readily believe a report so inconsistent with our established notions of
the respect in which female honour is held by the Arabs; but I can no
longer entertain a doubt on the subject, having received, both at Mekka
and Tayf, from various persons who had actually witnessed the fact, most
unequivocal evidence in confirmation of the statement.

Before the Wahaby conquest it was a custom among the Asyr Arabs, to take
their marriageable daughters, attired in their best clothes, to the
public market, and there, walking before them, to cry out, Man yshtery
el Aadera? "Who will buy the virgin?" The match,

[p.449] sometimes previously settled, was always concluded in the
market-place; and no girl was permitted to marry in any other manner.

I heard that tigers and wolves abound in these mountains, but that there
are not any lions. The Arabs have here a fine breed of mules and asses.

No. III.

Route from Tayf to Sanaa.

This itinerary was communicated to me by a poor man who had travelled
with his wife, in 1814, from Sada to Mekka. He was a native of some
place near Sanaa; and as the pilgrimage or Hadj el Kebsy had been for
some years interrupted, and he could not afford a passage by sea to
Djidda, he undertook this route, which is practicable even in these
critical times to those who can pass unsuspected in the character of
pilgrims. He was every where treated with hospitality. On his arrival at
a village he proceeded to the Mesdjed or mosque, and recited some
chapter of the Koran: the Arab inhabitants then inquired who he was, and
supplied him with plenty of flour, milk, raisins, meat, &c. He was never
stopped by robbers until he reached the advanced posts of Mohammed Aly's
Turkish army; there he was plundered by some soldiers of all his
provisions. He could not mark exactly each day's journey, because he
loitered about from one settlement to another, waiting often several
days that he might have companions on the road. The journey occupied him
altogether three months. He supported himself at Mekka by singing,
during the night, before the houses of wealthy pilgrims, some verses in
honour of the propbet and of the pilgrimage. His route was as follows:--

El Tayf--Beni Sad, Arabs--Naszera, Arabs--Begyle (or Bedjele), a market-
place--Rebah, a market-place--El Mandak, in the Zohran country--El Bekaa,
in the Zohran country--Raghdan, in the district of the Ghamed Arabs--
Ghamed, Arabs--Sollebat, inhabited by Ghamed Arabs and those called
Khotham, a very ancient tribe that flourished in the beginning of Islam--
Shomran, Arabs--Bel Korn--Ibn Dohman, an Arab tribe so called--Ibn el
Ahmar, another Arab tribe--Ibn el Asmar, an Arab tribe--The country here
is called after the inhabitants, which my informer had not forgotten,
although he did not always recollect the names of the villages through
which he passed in the districts of each tribe--Asyr; this tribe is now
united with the three former under one head--The Asyr chief, El Tamy,
proved the steadiest antagonist of Mohammed Aly: his principal residence
was the strong castle of El Tor, situated upon a high level surrounded
by mountains; he

[p.450] had also a smaller castle, called El Tobab, with a town, from
four to five days' journey distant from Gonfode on the sea-coast.

In the Asyr district, the pilgrim passed the villages called Shekrateyn,
Ed-dahye, Shohata, and Ed-djof. So far the road had always been on the
very summit of the mountain: the traveller henceforward continuing along
the valleys composing the lower chain of hills that intersect the
Eastern plain.

Refeydha, Arabs--Abyda, Arabs--Harradja, a town in the district of the
Senhan Arabs; which also contains the fertile wady called Raha--Homra, a
place inhabited by the Senhan Arabs: at one day's journey eastward is
Wady Nedjran, belonging to the tribe of Yam-Thohran, inhabited by the
Wadaa tribe: this place is high in the mountain, but the Wadaa occupy
also the low valleys--Bagem, a tribe of Arabs: eastward of them resides
the powerful tribe of Kholan Arabs--Dohhyan, of the Sahhar tribe-Sada:
from Sada the most usual stages to Sanaa are Beit Medjahed--Djorf--Kheywan
and Houth, two places in the district of the Hashed tribe--Zybein,--Omran-
Sanaa-Seven days from Sada to Sanaa.

No. IV.

Notices respecting the Country south of Mekka.

I HAVE already described the road from Mekka to Tayf. Four hours distant
from Tayf, in a S.E. direction, is Lye, a wady with a rivulet, fine
gardens, and many houses on the borders of the stream. About two hours
S. of Lye, in the mountain, stands the celebrated castle of Byssel,
built by the late chief of all the Hedjaz Arabs, Othman el Medhayfe, who
was taken prisoner near it in autumn 1812. Here Mohammed Aly Pasha, in
January 1815, fought his decisive battle with the united Wababy forces.
From Lye the road leads over mountains for about two hours, and then
descends into the great Eastern plain, where, at a distance of seven or
eight hours from Lye, and twelve from Tayf, lies the small town of
Kolakh: here were the head-quarters of the Turkish army for several
months in 1814. It is an open place, without trees or enclosures, with
many water-pits. It lies from Tayf in the direction of E.S.E. About Lye
and Kolakh, live the Arabs of the Ossama tribe, who form part of the
great Ateybe tribe. Between Kolakh and Taraba, off the straight road,
lies Abyla, once the residence of the great chief Medhayfe. By Kolakh
passes the most frequented road from Nedjed to Zohran, and from thence
to the sea-ports of Yemen. Continuing over the plain from Kolakh in a
more southern direction for about eighteen hours, we come to the town of
Taraba, as the people of Tayf and Mekka call it, or Toroba according

[p.451] to the Bedouin pronunciation. A soldier who possessed a watch
told me that he had counted three hours on the march between Tayf and
Taraba. This is a considerable town, as large as Tayf, and remarkable
for its plantations, that furnish all the surrounding country with
dates; and famous for its resistance against the Turkish forces of
Mohammed Aly, until January 1815, when its inhabitants were compelled to
submit. Taraba is environed with palm-groves and gardens, watered by
numerous rivulets; near it are some inconsiderable hills, at the foot of
which the Arabs cultivate durra and barley: the inhabitants are of the
Begoum tribe, and their Sheikh is Ibn Korshan. One Ghalye, the widow of
a deceased Sheikh, had immortalised her name by devoting her property to
the defence of the town, and taking an active part in the council of the
chiefs. The country about Taraba, and thence to Kolakh, is inhabited by
the Ateybe Arabs, the most numerous of the Hedjaz tribes. The Begoums
had enclosed Taraba with a wall, and constructed some towers: at present
a Turkish garrison is stationed here, this being a principal position
and the grand thoroughfare between Nedjed and Yemen.

Pursuing the road from Taraba southwards to the east of the great chain
of mountains, over an uneven ground intersected by many wadys, we come,
at two days from Taraba, to the town of Ranye, inhabited by the Arab
tribe of Sabya, whose Sheikh is Ibn Katnan, a personage distinguished
for his bravery in the campaign against the Pasha's Turkish troops.
Three or four days from Ranye is the town of Beishe, the intermediate
space being peopled by the Beni Oklob tribe. Beishe, the most important
position between Tayf and Sanaa, is a very fertile district, extremely
rich in date-trees. The Turkish army of Mohammed Aly, with its followers
and allied Bedouins, amounting in all to ten or twelve thousand men,
found here sufficient provisions for a fortnight's halt, and for a
supply on their march of several days towards the south. The Arabs
entitle Beishe the key of Yemen: it lies on one of the great roads from
Nedjed to Yemen; and it was said that heavy-laden camels from Mekka to
Yemen could not come by any other way, and that on the sea-shore beyond
Beishe is an easy passage westward through the great chain of mountains.
At Beishe many battles were fought between Sherif Ghaleb and Saoud the
Wahaby general, who being victorious erected two castles in the
neighbourhood, and gave them in charge to Ibn Shokban, whom he also made
chief of the Beni Salem tribe, the inhabitants of Beishe, who could
furnish from eight to ten thousand matchlocks. Ibn Shokban afterwards
gallantly opposed the Turkish army. I believe that in former times the
Sherifs of Mekka possessed at least a nominal authority over all the
country, from Tayf to Beishe. In Asamy's history we find many instances
of the Sherifs residing occasionally at Beishe, and having in their army
auxiliaries of the Beni Salem tribe.

Beishe is a broad valley, from six to eight hours in length, abounding
with rivulets, wells, and gardens. The houses here are better than those
of Tayf, and irregularly scattered over the whole tract. The principal
castle is very strong, with substantial and lofty walls, and surrounded
by a ditch. About three or four days' journey to the E. and S.E. of
Beishe, the plain is covered with numerous encampments of the Kahtan
Arabs, one of the most ancient tribes, that flourished long before
Mohammed, in the idolatrous ages. Some of these Beni Kahtan emigrated to
Egypt, where the historian Mesoudi knew them as inhabitants of Assouan.
The Wahabys found great difficulty in subduing this tribe, which,

[p.452] subsequently became attached to the conquerors, and still
continues so. The Beni Kahtan possess excellent pasturage, and breed
many fine horses: the vast number of their camels have become proverbial
in Arabia. The tribe is divided into two main branches, Es Sahama, and
El Aasy. In December 1814 the Kahans made an incursion towards Djidda,
and carried off the whole baggage of some Turkish cavalry, stationed to
protect the road between Djidda and Mekka: large parties of them
sometimes pasture their cattle in the province of Nedjed.

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