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

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Israelites, and in meditations suggested by this interesting portion
of Bible history, the time passed so rapidly, that I was surprised
when I found the people astir and preparing for our departure. My
garments were rather damp with the night-dews, for, having left some
of my friends sleeping upon my fur cloak, I had gone out more lightly
attired than perhaps was prudent. I was not, therefore, sorry to find
myself warmly wrapped up, and in my chair, in which I should have
slept very comfortably, had Hot the man who guided the donkeys taken
it into his head to quarrel with one of his comrades, and to bawl out
his grievances close to my ear. My wakefulness was, however, amply
repaid by the most glorious sunrise I ever witnessed. The sky had been
for some time obscured by clouds, which had gathered themselves in a
bank upon the Eastern horizon. The sun's rays started up at once,
like an imperial crown, above this bank, and as they darted their
glittering spears, for such they seemed, along the heavens, the
clouds, dispersing, formed into a mighty arch, their edges becoming
golden; while below all was one flush of crimson light. Neither at sea
nor on land had I ever witnessed any thing so magnificent as this,
and those who desire to see the god of day rise in the fulness of his
majesty must make a pilgrimage to the desert.

We made no stay at the rest-house, which we reached about nine o'clock
in the morning; and here, for the last time, we saw the governor of
Jiddah and his party, winding along at some distance, and giving life
and character to the desert. The fantastic appearance of the hills
increased as we advanced; the slightest stretch of fancy was alone
necessary to transform many into fortresses and towers, and at length
a bright glitter at a distance revealed the Red Sea. The sun gleaming
upon its waters shewed them like a mirror, and soon afterwards the
appearance of some low buildings indicated the town of Suez.

I happened to be in advance of the party, under the conduct of one of
the gentlemen who had joined us on the preceding evening; I therefore
directed Mohammed to go forward, to announce our approach; and either
the sight of the Red Sea, or their eagerness to reach a well-known
spring of water, induced my donkeys to gallop along the road with me;
a fortunate circumstance, as the day was beginning to be very sultry,
and I felt that I should enjoy the shelter and repose of a habitation.
As we went along, indications of the new power, which had already
effected the easy transit of the desert, were visible in small patches
of coal, scattered upon the sand; presently we saw a dark nondescript
object, that did not look at all like the abode of men, civilized
or uncivilized; and yet, from the group hovering about an aperture,
seemed to be tenanted by human beings. This proved to be an old
boiler, formerly belonging to a steam-vessel, and appearing, indeed,
as if some black and shapeless hulk had been cast on shore. The well,
which had attracted my donkeys, was very picturesque; the water flowed
into a large stone trough, or rather basin, beneath the walls of a
castellated edifice, pierced with many small windows, and apparently
in a very dilapidated state. Those melancholy _memento moris,_ which
had tracked our whole progress through the desert, were to be seen
in the immediate vicinity of this well. The skeletons of five or six
camels lay in a group within a few yards of the haven which they had
doubtless toiled anxiously, though so vainly, to reach. I never could
look upon the bones of these poor animals without a painful feeling,
and in the hope that European skill and science may yet bring forward
those hidden waters which would disarm the desert of its terrors.
It is said that the experiment of boring has been tried, and failed,
between Suez and Cairo, but that it succeeded in the great desert;
some other method, perhaps, may be found, if the project of bringing
water from the hills, by means of aqueducts, should be too expensive.
We heard this plan talked of at the bungalow, but I fear that, in the
present state of Egypt, it is very chimerical.

This was now our fourth day upon the desert, and we had not sustained
the smallest inconvenience; the heat, even at noon, being very
bearable, and the sand not in the least degree troublesome. Doubtless,
at a less favourable period of the year, both would prove difficult
to bear. The wind, we were told, frequently raised the sand in clouds;
and though the danger of being buried beneath the tombs thus made, we
had reason to believe, was greatly exaggerated, yet the plague of sand
is certainly an evil to be dreaded, and travellers will do well
to avoid the season in which it prevails. The speed of my donkeys
increasing, rather than diminishing, after we left the well, for they
seemed to know that Suez would terminate their journey, I crossed the
intervening three miles very quickly, and was soon at the walls of the

Distance lends no enchantment to the view of Suez. It is difficult to
fancy that the few miserable buildings, appearing upon the margin
of the sea, actually constitute a town; and the heart sinks at the
approach to a place so barren and desolate. My donkeys carried me
through a gap in the wall, which answered all the purposes of
a gateway, and we passed along broken ground and among wretched
habitations, more fit for the abode of savage beasts than men. Even
the superior description of houses bore so forlorn and dilapidated
an appearance, that I actually trembled as I approached them, fearing
that my guide would stop, and tell me that, my journey was at an end.

Before I had time to make any observations upon the place to which I
was conducted, I found myself at the foot of a flight of steps, and
reaching a landing place, saw another above, and Mohammed descending
to meet me. I followed him to the top, and crossing a large apartment,
which served as dining and drawing room, entered a passage which led
to a light and certainly airy bed-chamber; for half the front wall,
and a portion of one of the sides, were entirely formed of wooden
trellice, which admitted, with the utmost freedom, all the winds of
heaven, the sun, and also the dust. There was a mat upon the floor,
and the apartment was whitewashed to the rafters, which were in good
condition; and upon Mohammed's declaration that it was free from rats,
I felt an assurance of a share of comfort which I had dared not expect
before. There were two neat beds, with musquito-curtains, two tables,
and washing apparatus, but no looking-glass; an omission which I could
supply, though we had dispensed with such a piece of luxury altogether
in the desert. Well supplied with hot and cold water, I had enjoyed
the refreshment of plenteous ablutions, and nearly completed my
toilet, before the arrival of the friends I had so completely
distanced. I made an attempt to sit down to my desk, but was unable
to write a line, and throwing myself on my bed full dressed, I fell
asleep in a moment, and enjoyed the deepest repose for an hour, or
perhaps longer.

I was awakened by my friend, Miss E., who informed me that the purser
of the _Berenice_ was in the drawing-room, and that I must go to him
and pay my passage-money. I was not, however, provided with the means
of doing this in ready cash, and as the rate of exchange for the
thirty pounds in sovereigns which I possessed could not be decided
here, at the suggestion of one of my fellow-passengers, I drew a
bill upon a banker in Bombay for the amount, eighty pounds, the sum
demanded for half a cabin, which, fortunately, I could divide with
the friend who had accompanied me from England. This transaction so
completely roused me, that I found myself equal to the continuation
of the journal which I had commenced at Cairo. I despatched also the
letter with which I had been kindly furnished to the British Consul,
and was immediately favoured by a visit from him. As we expressed
some anxiety about our accommodation on board the steamer, he
politely offered to take us to the vessel in his own boat; but to
this arrangement the purser objected, stating that the ship was in
confusion, and that one of the best cabins had been reserved for us.
With this assurance we were accordingly content.

We arrived at Suez on Wednesday, the 9th of October, and were told to
hold ourselves in readiness to embark on Friday at noon. We were not
sorry for this respite, especially as we found our hotel, which was
kept by a person in the employment of Mr. Waghorn, more comfortable
than could have been hoped for from its exterior. The greatest
annoyance we sustained was from the dust, which was brought in by a
very strong wind through the lattices. I endeavoured to remedy this
evil, in some degree, by directing the servants of the house to nail
a sheet across the upper portion of the perforated wood-work. The
windows of our chamber commanded as good a view of Suez as the place
afforded; one at the side overlooked an irregular open space, which
stretched between the house and the sea. At some distance opposite,
there were one or two mansions of much better appearance than the
rest, and having an air of comfort imparted to them by outside
shutters, of new and neat construction. These we understood to be the
abodes of officers in the Pasha's service. Mehemet Ali is said to
be extremely unwilling to allow English people to build houses
for themselves at Suez; while he freely grants permission to their
residence at Alexandria and Cairo, he seems averse to their settling
upon the shores of the Red Sea. Mr. Waghorn and Mr. Hill are,
therefore, compelled to be content to fit up the only residences at
their disposal in the best manner that circumstances will admit. I
had no opportunity of forming any opinion respecting Mr. Hill's
establishment, but am able to speak very well of the accommodation
afforded by the hotel at which we sojourned.

Judging from the exterior, for the desert itself does not appear to
be less productive than Suez, there must have been some difficulty in
getting supplies, notwithstanding we found no want of good things at
our breakfast and dinner-table, plenty of eggs and milk, fowl and fish
being supplied; every article doing credit to the skill of the
cook. Nor was the cleanliness that prevailed, in despite of all the
obstacles opposed to it, less worthy of praise: the servants were
civil and attentive, and the prices charged extremely moderate. All
the guests of the hotel of course formed one family, assembling daily
at meals, after the continental fashion. The dining-room was spacious,
and divided into two portions; the one ascended by a step was
surrounded by divans, after the Egyptian fashion, and here were books
to be found containing useful and entertaining knowledge. A few stray
numbers of the _Asiatic Journal_, half a dozen volumes of standard
novels, files of the _Bombay Times_, and works illustrative of ancient
and modern Egypt, served to beguile the time of those who had
nothing else to do. Meanwhile, travellers came dropping in, and the
caravanserai was soon crowded.


* * * * *


* * * * *

Travellers assembling at Suez--Remarks on the Pasha's
Government--Embarkation on the Steamer--Miserable accommodation in the
_Berenice_, and awkwardness of the attendants--Government Ships not
adapted to carry Passengers--Cause of the miserable state of the Red
Sea Steamers--Shores of the Red Sea--Arrival at Mocha--Its appearance
from the Sea--Arrival at Aden--Its wild and rocky appearance on
landing--Cape Aden--The Town--Singular appearance of the Houses--The
Garrison expecting an attack by the Arabs--Discontent of the
Servants of Europeans at Aden--Complaints by Anglo-Indians against
Servants--Causes--Little to interest Europeans in Aden.

Amongst the travellers who came dropping in at the hotel, was
the Portuguese governor of Goa and his suite, consisting of four
gentlemen, the private and public secretaries, an aide-de-camp, and
the fourth holding some other appointment. They came by the French
steamer, which had left Marseilles on the day of our departure. The
governor, a fine old soldier, and a perfect gentleman, proved a
great acquisition to our party; and knowing the state of Goa, and the
disappointment he would in all probability sustain upon arriving at
the seat of his government in the present low condition to which it
is reduced, we could not help feeling much interested in his welfare.
This gentleman, who inherited the title of baron, and was moreover
an old general officer, had mixed in the very best society, and was
evidently well acquainted with courts and camps; he spoke several
languages, and in the course of his travels had visited England. His
retinue were quiet gentlemanly men, and the young aide-de-camp, in
particular, made himself very agreeable.

There were two other travellers of some note at Suez, who had put up
at Hill's Hotel; one, an American gentleman, who had come across the
desert for the purpose of looking at the Red Sea. I saw him mounted
upon a donkey, and gazing as he stood upon the shore at the bright but
narrow channel, so interesting to all who have read the history of the
Israelites, with reverential feelings. I felt a strong inclination
to accost him; but refrained, being unwilling to disturb his reveries
with what he might have thought an impertinent interruption. It was
evidently a last look, for he was veiled for the journey, and at
length, tearing himself away, he turned his donkey's head, and
struck into the desert. The other traveller was a young Scotsman,
who proposed to go as far as Aden in the _Berenice_, on his way to
Abyssinia, trusting that a residence of some months in Egypt would
enable him to pass for a Turk. He had no very precise object in view,
but intended to make an attempt to explore the sources of the Nile.

There was nothing in Suez that could make a longer stay desirable, and
we quitted it without regret. My journey through Egypt had been much
too rapid for me to presume to give any decided opinion concerning
the strongly agitated question respecting the merits of the Pasha's
government. It is very evident that he has not learned the most
instructive lesson of political economy, nor has yet understood that
the way to render himself powerful is to make his subjects rich;
nevertheless, though his exactions and monopolies may be felt at
present as very serious evils, yet, in establishing manufactories, and
in embodying a national force, there can be no doubt that he has sown
the seeds of much that is good; and should his government, after
his death, fall into the hands of people equally free from religious
prejudices, we may reasonably hope that they will entertain more
enlarged and liberal views, and thus render measures, now difficult
to bear, of incalculable advantage to the future prosperity of the

The British Consul politely offered to conduct myself and my female
friends on board the steamer; he accordingly called for us, and I
bade, as I hoped, a last adieu to Suez, it being my wish and intention
to return home by way of Cosseir. Previous to our embarkation, a
series of regulations had been placed in our hands for the engagement
of passages in the Honourable Company's armed steamers, with
instructions to passengers, &c.

Upon repairing to our cabin, Miss E. and myself were surprised and
disappointed at the miserable accommodation it afforded. The three
cabins allotted to the use of the ladies had been appropriated, in two
instances, to married couples, and we were obliged to put up with one
of smaller size, which had the additional inconvenience of opening
into the public saloon. There were no Venetian blinds to the door,
consequently, the only means of obtaining a free circulation of air
was to have it open. A locker with a hinged shelf, which opened like
a shutter, and thus afforded space for one mattress to be placed upon
it, ran along one side of the cabin, under the port-hole, but the
floor was the only visible means of accommodation for the second
person crammed by Government regulation into this den. There was not
a place in which a wash-hand basin could be put, so awkwardly were
the doors arranged, to one of which there was no fastening whatsoever.
Altogether, the case seemed hopeless, and as cock-roaches were walking
about the vessel by dozens, the prospect of sleeping on the ground
was anything but agreeable, especially with the feeling that we were
paying at the rate of four pounds a day for our accommodation.

We were, however, compelled to postpone our arrangements, by a summons
to dinner; and in the evening, when repairing again to the cabin, I
found my mattress placed upon two portmanteaus and a box. Of course,
no attention was paid to the inequalities of the surface, and I
endeavoured, by folding my fur cloak and a thick dressing-gown
under my sheet, to render this miserable apology for a bed tenable.
Hitherto, our berth-places in the Government-steamers had been very
comfortable; though small, they answered the purpose of sleeping and
of washing, while the larger cabin into which they opened, and which
was set apart for the ladies, enabled us all to complete our toilets
without inconvenience. A sail had been hung before the door by way of
curtain, but the heat was still difficult to bear, and we found that
we had adventured upon the Red Sea at least a month too soon. The next
morning, the captain, hearing that I had, as might have been
expected, passed a wretched night, kindly sent his cot for my future
accommodation; after the second night, however, the servants thinking
it too much trouble to attend to it properly, the ropes gave way, and
it came down. The cabin being much too small to allow it to remain
hanging all day, I at first trusted to the servants to put it up at
night; but, after this accident, and finding them to be incorrigibly
stupid, lazy, and disobliging, I contented myself with placing the cot
upon two portmanteaus, and thus forming a bed-place. Subsequently, one
of the passengers having kindly adjusted the ropes, Miss E. and myself
contrived to sling it; a fatiguing operation, which added much to the
discomforts of the voyage. The idea of going upon the quarter-deck, or
writing a letter, which might perhaps be handed up to Government, to
make a formal complaint to the captain, was not to be thought of, and
seeing the impossibility of getting any thing properly done by the
tribe of uncouth barbarians dignified by the name of servants, the
only plan was to render myself quite independent of them, and much did
we miss the activity, good humour, and readiness to oblige manifested
by our Egyptian attendant, Mohammed. Where a wish to please is
evinced, though wholly unattended by efficiency in the duties
undertaken by a servant, I can very easily excuse awkwardness,
forgetfulness, or any other fault; but the wretched half-castes, who
take service on board the Government steamers, have not even common
civility to recommend them; there was not a passenger in the vessel
who did not complain of the insults to which all were more or less

Where the blame lay, it is difficult to state exactly; no one could be
more kind and obliging than the captain, and it was this disposition
upon his part which rendered us all unwilling to worry him with
complaints. The charge of a steamer in the Red Sea seems quite enough
to occupy the commandant's time and attention, without having the
comforts of seven or eight-and-twenty passengers to look after; but
these duties might have been performed by a clever and active steward.
Whether there was a personage on board of that designation, I never
could learn; I asked several times to speak with him, but he never in
a single instance attended the summons.

We had no reason to complain of want of liberality on the part of the
captain, for the table was plentifully supplied, though the cooks,
being unfortunately most worthy of the patronage of that potentate who
is said to send them to our kitchens, generally contrived to render
the greater portion uneatable. The advantage of rising from table with
an appetite is one which I have usually tried on board ship, having
only in few instances, during my numerous voyages, been fortunate
enough to find food upon which I dared to venture.

The more I have seen of government ships, the more certain I feel that
they are not adapted to carry passengers. The authorities appear to
think that people ought to be too thankful to pay an enormous price
for the worst species of accommodation. The commandants have not
been accustomed to attend to the minutiae which can alone secure the
comfort of those who sail with them, while the officers, generally
speaking, endeavour to show their contempt of the service in which
they are sent, against their inclination, by neglect and even rudeness
towards the passengers.

While on board the _Berenice_, the following paragraph in a Bombay
newspaper struck my eye, and as it is a corroboration of the
statements which I deem it to be a duty to make, I insert it in this
place. "The voyager (from Agra) must not think his troubles at an
end on reaching Bombay, or that the steam-packets are equal to the
passenger Indiaman in accommodation. In fact, I cannot conceive how a
lady manages; we have, however, five. There are only seven very small
cabins, into each of which two people are crammed; no room to swing
cats. Eight other deluded individuals, of whom I am one, are given to
understand that a cabin-passage is included in permission to sleep on
the benches and table of the cuddy. For this you pay Rs. 200 extra.
The vessel is dirty beyond measure, from the soot, and with the
difficulty of copious ablution and private accommodation, is almost
worse, to a lover of Indian habits, than the journey to Bombay from
Agra upon camels. No civility is to be got from the officers. If they
are not directly uncivil, the passengers are luckier than we have
been. They declare themselves disgusted with passenger ships, but do
not take the proper way of showing their superiority to the duty."

The only officer of the _Berenice_ who dined at the captain's table
was the surgeon of the vessel, and in justice to him it must be
said, that he left no means untried to promote the comfort of the
passengers. It is likewise necessary to state, that we were never
put upon an allowance of water, although, in consequence of late
alterations made in the dockyard, the vessel had been reduced to
about half the quantity she had been accustomed to carry in iron tanks
constructed for the purpose. Notwithstanding this reduction, we
could always procure a sufficiency, either of hot or cold water, for
ablutions, rendered doubly necessary in consequence of the atmosphere
of coal-dust which we breathed. Not that it was possible to continue
clean for a single hour; nevertheless, there was some comfort in
making the attempt.

There were eight cabins in the _Berenice_, besides the three
appropriated to ladies; these were ranged four on either side of
the saloon, reaching up two-thirds of the length. The apartment,
therefore, took the form of a T, and the upper end or cross was
furnished with horse-hair sofas; upon these, and upon the table, those
passengers slept who were not provided with cabins. Many preferred the
deck, but being washed out of it by the necessary cleaning process,
which took place at day-break, were obliged to make their toilettes
in the saloon. This also formed the dressing-place for dinner, and the
basins of dirty water, hair-brushes, &c. were scarcely removed from
the side-tables before the party were summoned to their repast. The
preparations for this meal were a work of time, always beginning at
half-past one; an hour was employed in placing the dishes upon the
table, in order that every thing might have time to cool.

The reason assigned for not putting Venetian blinds to the cabin-doors
was this: it would injure the appearance of the cabin--an appearance
certainly not much improved by the dirty sail which hung against our
portal. The saloon itself, without this addition, was dingy enough,
being panelled with dark oak, relieved by a narrow gilt cornice, and
the royal arms carved and gilded over an arm-chair at the rudder-case,
the ornaments of a clock which never kept time. All the servants, who
could not find accommodation elsewhere, slept under the table; thus
adding to the abominations of this frightful place. And yet we were
congratulated upon our good fortune, in being accommodated in the
_Berenice_, being told that the _Zenobia_, which passed us on our way,
had been employed in carrying pigs between Waterford and Bristol, and
that the _Hugh Lindsay_ was in even worse condition; the _Berenice_
being, in short, the crack ship.

Every day added to the heat and the dirt, and in the evening, when
going upon deck to inhale the odours of the hen-coops, the smell was
insufferable. When to this annoyance coal-dust, half an inch deep,
is added, my preference of my own cabin will not be a subject of
surprise. With what degree of truth, I cannot pretend to say, all
the disagreeable circumstances sustained on board the _Berenice_ were
attributed to the alterations made in the docks. Previously to these
changes, we were told, the furnaces were supplied with coal by a
method which obviated the necessity of having it upon deck, whence the
dust was now carried all over the ship upon the feet of the persons
who were continually passing to and fro.

Occasionally, we suffered some inconvenience from the motion of the
vessel, but, generally speaking, nothing more disagreeable occurred
than the tremulous action of the engines, an action which completely
incapacitated me from any employment except that of reading. The only
seats or tables we could command in our cabin consisted of our boxes,
so that being turned out of the saloon at half-past one, by the
servants who laid the cloth for dinner, it was not very easy to make
an attempt at writing, or even needle-work. Doubtless the passengers
from Bombay could contrive to have more comforts about them. It was
impossible, however, that those who had already made a long overland
journey should be provided with the means of furnishing their cabins,
and this consideration should weigh with the Government when taking
money for the accommodation of passengers. Cabins ought certainly to
be supplied with bed-places and a washing-table, and not to be left
perfectly dismantled by those occupants who arrive at Suez, and who,
having previously fitted them up, have a right to all they contain.

The miserable state of the Red Sea steamers, of course, often
furnished a theme for conversation, and we were repeatedly told that
their condition was entirely owing to the jealousy of the people of
Calcutta, who could not endure the idea of the importance to which
Bombay was rising, in consequence of its speedy communication with
England. Without knowing exactly where the fault may lie, it must be
said that there is great room for improvement. In all probability, the
increased number of persons who will proceed to India by way of the
Red Sea, now that the passage is open, will compel the merchants, or
other speculators, to provide better vessels for the trip. At present,
the price demanded is enormously disproportioned to the accommodation
given, while the chance of falling in with a disagreeable person in
the commandant should be always taken into consideration by those who
meditate the overland journey. The consolation, in so fine a vessel
as the _Berenice_, consists in the degree of certainty with which
the duration of the voyage may be calculated, eighteen or twenty days
being the usual period employed. In smaller steamers, and those of a
less favourable construction, accidents and delays are very frequent;
sometimes the coal is burning half the voyage, and thus rendered
nearly useless to the remaining portion, the vessel depending entirely
upon the sails.

During the hot weather and the monsoons, the navigation of the Red
Sea is attended with much inconvenience, from the sultriness of the
atmosphere and the high winds; it is only, therefore, at one season
of the year that travellers can, with any hope of comfort, avail
themselves of the route; it must, consequently, be questionable
whether the influx of voyagers will be sufficiently great to cover the
expense of the vessels required. A large steamer is now building
at Bombay, for the purpose of conveying the mails, and another is
expected out from England with the same object.

The shores of the Red Sea are bold and rocky, exhibiting ranges of
picturesque hills, sometimes seceding from, at others approaching, the
beach. A few days brought us to Mocha. The captain had kindly promised
to take me on shore with him; but, unfortunately, the heat and the
fatigue which I had sustained had occasioned a slight attack of fever,
and as we did not arrive before the town until nearly twelve o'clock,
I was afraid to encounter the rays of the sun during the day. We could
obtain a good view of the city from the vessel; it appeared to
be large and well built, that is, comparatively speaking; but its
unsheltered walls, absolutely baked in the sun, and the arid waste on
which it stood, gave to it a wild and desolate appearance.

We were told that already, since the British occupation of Aden, the
trade of Mocha had fallen off. It seldom happens that a steamer passes
down the Red Sea without bringing emigrants from Mocha, anxious to
establish themselves in the new settlement; and if Aden were made
a free port, there can be little doubt that it would monopolize the
whole commerce of the neighbourhood. The persons desirous to colonize
the place say, very justly, that they cannot afford to pay duties,
having to quit their own houses at a loss, and to construct others,
Aden being at present destitute of accommodation for strangers. If,
however, encouragement should be given them, they will flock thither
in great numbers; and, under proper management, there is every reason
to hope that Aden will recover all its former importance and wealth,
and become one of the most useful dependencies of the British crown.

We were to take in coals and water at Aden, and arriving there in the
afternoon of Saturday, the 19th of October, every body determined to
go on shore, if possible, on the ensuing morning. By the kindness of
some friends, we had palanquins in waiting at day-break, which were
to convey us a distance of five miles to the place now occupied
as cantonments. Our road conducted us for a mile or two along the
sea-shore, with high crags piled on one side, a rugged path, and rocks
rising out of the water to a considerable distance. We then ascended
a height, which led to an aperture in the hills, called the Pass.
Here we found a gate and a guard of sepoys. The scenery was wild, and
though nearly destitute of vegetation--a few coarse plants occurring
here and there scarcely deserving the name--very beautiful.

It would, perhaps, be too much to designate the bare and lofty cliffs,
which piled themselves upwards in confused masses, with the name of
mountains; they nevertheless conveyed ideas of sublimity which I had
not associated with other landscapes of a similar nature. The Pass,
narrow and enclosed on either side by winding rocks, brought us at
length down a rather steep declivity to a sort of basin, surrounded
upon three sides with lofty hills, and on the fourth by the sea.

Cape Aden forms a high and rocky promontory, the most elevated portion
being 1,776 feet above the level of the sea. This lofty headland, when
viewed at a distance, appears like an island, in consequence of
its being connected with the interior by low ground, which, in the
vicinity of Khora Muckse, is quite a swamp. Its summits assume the
aspect of turretted peaks, having ruined forts and watch-towers on
the highest elevations. The hills are naked and barren, and the valley
little better; the whole, however, presenting a grand, picturesque,
and imposing appearance. The town of Aden lies on the east side of the
Cape, in the amphitheatre before mentioned. A sketch of its history
will be given, gathered upon the spot, in a subsequent paper, the
place being sufficiently interesting to demand a lengthened notice;
meanwhile a passing remark is called for on its present appearance.

At first sight of Aden, it is difficult to suppose it to be the
residence of human beings, and more especially of European families.
The town, if such it may be called, consists of a few scattered houses
of stone, apparently loosely put together, with pigeon-holes for
windows, and roofs which, being flat, and apparently surrounded by a
low parapet, afford no idea of their being habitable. It is difficult
to find a comparison for these dwellings, which appeared to be
composed of nothing more than four walls, and yet, to judge from the
apertures, contained two or more stories. The greater number were
enclosed in a sort of yard or compound, the fences being formed of
long yellow reeds; the less substantial dwellings were entirely made
of these reeds, so that they looked like immense crates or cages for
domestic fowls.

My palanquin at length stopped at a flight of steps hewn out of
the rock; and I found myself at the entrance of a habitation,
half-bungalow, half-tent; and certainly, as the permanent abode
of civilized beings, the strangest residence I had ever seen. The
uprights and frame-work were made of reeds and bamboos, lined with
thin mats, which had at one time been double; but the harbour thus
afforded for rats being found inconvenient, the outer casing had been
removed. Two good-sized apartments, with verandahs all round, and
dressing and bathing-rooms attached, were formed in this way; they
were well carpeted and well furnished, but destitute both of glass
windows and wooden doors; what are called in India _jaumps_, and
chicks of split bamboo, being the substitutes.

Government not yet having fixed upon the site for the station intended
to be established at Aden, none of the European inhabitants have
begun to build their houses, which, it is said, are to be very
solidly constructed of stone; at present, they are scattered, in Gipsy
fashion, upon the rocks overlooking the sea, and at the time of the
year in which I visited them they enjoyed a delightfully cool breeze.
What they would be in the hot weather, it is difficult to say. The
supplies, for the most part, come from a considerable distance, but
appear to be abundant; and when at length a good understanding shall
have taken place between the British Government and the neighbouring
sheikhs, the markets will be furnished with every thing that the
countries in the vicinity produce.

The garrison were prepared, at the period of our arrival, for the
outbreak which has since occurred. It is melancholy to contemplate the
sacrifice of life which will in all probability take place before the
Arabs will be reconciled to the loss of a territory which has for
a long time been of no use to them, but which, under its present
masters, bids fair to introduce mines of wealth into an impoverished
country. The Pasha of Egypt had long cast a covetous eye upon Aden,
and its occupation by the British took place at the precise period
requisite to check the ambitious designs of a man thirsting for
conquest, and to allay the fears of the Imaum of Muscat, who,
naturally enough, dreaded encroachments upon his territory.

Aden had hitherto agreed very well with its European residents. The
sepoys, servants, and camp-followers, however, had suffered much both
from mental and bodily ailments. They were deprived of their usual
sources of amusement, and of their accustomed food, and languished
under that home-sickness, which the natives of India feel in a very
acute degree. The greater number of servants were discontented, and
anxious to return to their native country. This natural desire upon
their part was highly resented by their masters, who, instead of
taking the most obvious means of remedying the evil, and employing
the natives of the place, who appeared to be tractable and teachable
enough, abused and threatened to beat the unfortunate people,
convicted of what self-love styles "ingratitude."

In a very clever work, I have seen the whole sum of the miseries of
human life comprised in one word, "servants;" and until we can procure
human beings with all the perfections of our fallen nature, and none
of our faults, to minister to our wants and wishes, the complaint,
so sickening and so general, and frequently so unjust, will be
reiterated. Anglo-Indians, however, seem to be more tormented by these
domestic plagues than any other set of people. The instant a stranger
lands upon Asiatic ground, we hear of nothing else. It is considered
to be polite conversation in the drawing-room, aid delicate-looking
women will listen with the greatest complacence to the most brutal
threats uttered by their male associates against the wretched people
whom hard fate has placed about their persons. By some mischance,
these very individuals are equally ill-served at home, the greater
number who return to England being either rendered miserable there, or
driven back to India in consequence of the impossibility of managing
their servants. As far as my own experience goes, with the exception
of the people in the _Berenice_, who were not in the slightest degree
under the control of the passengers, or, it may be said, attached to
them in any way, I have always found it easy, both at home and abroad,
to obtain good servants, at least quite as good as people, conscious
of the infirmities of humanity in their own persons, have a right to
expect. My simple rule has been, never to keep a person who did not
suit me, and to treat those who did with kindness and indulgence. The
system has always answered, and I am probably on that account the less
inclined to sympathize with persons who are eternally complaining.

There may be some excuse at Aden for the conversation turning upon
domestic matters of this kind, and perhaps I do the station injustice
in supposing that they form a common topic. With the exception of
those persons who take pleasure in the anticipation of the improvement
of the surrounding tribes, there is very little to interest European
residents in this arid spot. Should, however, the hopes which many
enlightened individuals entertain be realized, or the prospect of
their fulfilment continue unclouded, those who now endure a dreary
exile in a barren country, and surrounded by a hostile people, will
or ought to derive much consolation from the thought, that their
employment upon a disagreeable duty may prove of the utmost benefit to
thousands of their fellow-creatures. It is pleasant to look forward to
the civilization of Abyssinia, and other more remote places, by means
of commercial intercourse with Aden.


* * * * *


* * * * *

Commanding situation of Aden--Its importance in former times--But few
remains of its grandeur--Its facilities as a retreat for the piratical
hordes of the Desert--The loss of its trade followed by reduction
of the population--Speculations as to the probability of ultimately
resisting the Arabs--Exaggerated notions entertained by the Shiekhs of
the wealth of the British--Aden a free Port would be the Queen of the
adjacent Seas--Its advantages over Mocha--The Inhabitants of Aden--The
Jews--The Banians--The Soomalees--The Arabs--Hopes of the prosperity
of Aden--Goods in request there--Exports--Re-embarkation on the
Steamer--Want of attention--Makallah--Description of the place--Its
products--The Gazelle--Traveller in Abyssinia--Adventurous English
Travellers--Attractions of the Arab life--Arrival at Bombay.

Wretched and miserable as the appearance of Aden must be deemed at
the present moment, its commanding situation rendered it of great
importance in former times. During the reign of Constantine, it was an
opulent city, forming one of the great emporia for the commerce of
the East. The sole remains of the grandeur it once boasted consists of
about ninety dilapidated stone houses, the greater number of dwellings
which seem to shelter its scanty population being nothing more than
huts rudely constructed of reeds. These wretched tenements, huddled
together without the slightest attempt at regularity, occupy the
crater of an extinct volcano. Unrelieved by trees, and assimilating
in colour with the arid soil and barren hills rising around, they
scarcely convey an idea of the purpose for which they are designed.

A stranger, entering Aden, finds it difficult to believe that he is in
the midst of an inhabited place, the houses appearing to be fewer in
number, and more insignificant, than a closer inspection proves them
to be. No splendid fragment, imposing in its ruin, records the glory
and opulence of the populous city, as it existed in the days of
Solyman the Magnificent, the era from whence it dates its decline. The
possession of Aden was eagerly contended for by the two great powers,
the Turks and the Portuguese, struggling for mastery in the East, and
when they were no longer able to maintain their rivalry, it reverted
into the hands of its ancient masters, the Arabs. The security
afforded by its natural defences, aided by the fortifications, the
work of former times, rendered it a suitable retreat for the piratical
hordes of the desert. The lawless sons of Ishmael could, from this
stronghold, rush out upon the adjacent waters, and make themselves
masters of the wealth of those adventurers who dared to encounter the
dangers of the Red Sea.

With the loss of every thing approaching to good government, Aden lost
its trade. The system of monopoly, which enriches the sovereign at the
expense of the subject, speedily ends in ruin. The superior classes of
the inhabitants were either driven away, in consequence of the tyranny
which they endured, or, reduced to a state of destitution, perished
miserably upon the soil, until at length the traces of former
magnificence became few and faint, the once flourishing city falling
into one wide waste of desolation. The remains of a splendid aqueduct,
which was at the first survey mistaken for a Roman road; a solitary
watch-tower, and a series of broken walls, alone attest the ancient
glories of the place.

Previous to the occupation of the British, the population of Aden
scarcely exceeded six hundred souls; it is now, independently of the
garrison, more nearly approaching to a thousand, and of these the
principal number are Jews, who, together with about fifty Banians,
have contrived to amass a little of what, by comparison, may be called
wealth. The trade of Aden, for a long time before we obtained our
present possession, was very trifling, the imports consisting of a few
English cotton cloths, together with lead, iron, and tin, which
were brought by Buglas on their way to Mocha; rice, dates, and small
numbers of cattle, likewise, coming from neighbouring places; while
the exports were limited to a little coffee, millet, and a few drugs.

At the period of my visit to Aden, the garrison were in almost
momentary expectation of an attack from the Arabs, who had gathered
to the amount of five thousand in the neighbourhood, and kept the new
occupants continually upon the alert. Of course, in such a state of
affairs, great differences of opinion existed respecting the ultimate
fate of this interesting place. Many acute persons consider the
project of colonizing a barren spot, surrounded by hostile tribes, by
a handful of soldiers from India, chimerical, especially in the teeth
of predictions which have for so long a period been fulfilled to the
letter. It is stated that the Imaum of Muscat asked, in astonishment,
whether we were mad enough to contemplate the subjugation of the
Arabs, the sons of his father Ishmael; since we could not be so
ignorant of our own Scriptures as not to know that their hands were to
be eternally against every man, and every man's hand against theirs.
But, although the Arabs should continue hostile, while we are masters
of the sea, and can strengthen Aden so completely upon the land-side,
as to render it, what many people believe it can be made, a second
Gibraltar, we have a wide field for commercial speculation in the
opposite coast of Africa.

Aden is, at present, a very expensive possession, and the long period
which has elapsed since our occupation, without preparations
having been commenced for a permanent residence, has occasioned an
apprehension that it may be ultimately abandoned. Many persons are,
however, sanguine in the hope that, as soon as scientific men have
decided upon the best site for a cantonment, buildings will be erected
for the reception of the garrison. These, it is confidently expected,
will be upon a grand scale, and of solid construction. The greater
portion of the materials must be brought from distant places, and
already some of the European inhabitants are conveying from Bombay
those portable houses which are commonly set up during the cold season
on the Esplanade, and which will afford a great improvement upon
the dwellings of bamboos, reeds, and mats, which at present form
the abodes of the officers of this establishment. It has been
satisfactorily ascertained, that the clearing out and repairing the
old tanks and wells will be sufficient to secure an ample supply of
water for a very extensive population, the report of those gentlemen
employed in analyzing its quality being highly favourable.

A little allowance must, of course, be made for the sanguine nature of
the expectations formed by persons whose imaginations are dazzled by
the splendid visions of the future arising before them; still, enough
appears to have been demonstrated to justify a strong hope that there
are no serious difficulties in the way of our permanent occupation of
a place which we have succeeded in rescuing from Arab tyranny. It will
be long, perhaps, before the neighbouring sheikhs will consent to an
amicable arrangement with the British authorities of Aden, for they
at present entertain the most exaggerated notions of the wealth of its
new possessors.

The English, with their usual thoughtless improvidence, threw about
their money so carelessly, that, soon after their arrival, every
article of household consumption doubled and trebled in price,
the remuneration for labour rising in proportion. This improvident
expenditure has had the effect of making the people discontented.
Imagining our resources to be inexhaustible, they do not know how much
to ask for their commodities or their services, and it will require
great firmness and discretion, on the part of the persons in
authority, to settle the fair price for both. The erection of new
houses, which are called for by nearly every fresh arrival, even in
their present light construction, serves very materially to enrich the
inhabitants of Aden, the natural consequence being an increase of the
industrious portion of the population, while it may be confidently
expected that the commencement of superior works will attract a
superior class of persons to the place.

The present Resident is a strenuous advocate for the abolition of all
duties, at least for a time; and should the representations made
by him, and other persons well acquainted with the character and
resources of the surrounding countries, succeed in inducing the
Government of India to render Aden a free port, it would soon become
the queen of the adjacent seas. The town of Senna is only at the
distance of seven or eight days' journey for camels and merchandize.
The coffee districts are actually nearer to it than to Mocha, and
the road equally safe and convenient; other large towns in Yemen
are within an easy journey, and the rich and populous places in the
province of Hydramut are open for its trade.

The mountains to the north of Aden produce gums, frankincense, and
coffee, which would soon find their way to so promising a market. Its
harbour being immediately to the north of Barbar, vessels during the
north-eastern monsoon would reach it with the produce of Africa in
twenty-four hours, returning with British and Indian produce in the
same time. All the exports of Hanall, and other large interior towns
on the opposite coast, consisting of coffee, gums, myrrh, hides,
elephants' teeth, gold dust, ostrich feathers, &c, would be conveyed
to Aden, to be exchanged for piece goods, chintzes, cutlery, and rice;
all of which would find a ready market. The manufactures of India
and of Great Britain would thus be very extensively introduced, there
being good reason to believe that they would be largely purchased in
the provinces of Yemen and Hydramut.

Amongst the great advantages which Aden possesses over Mocha, is the
situation of its harbour, which may be entered by a ship or boat at
any period of the year, and quitted with the same facility: whereas
its rival port is so difficult of access in the months of March,
April, and May, that boats are sometimes six, seven, or eight days
getting to the straits, a distance of forty miles only. These are
considerations worthy of the attention of merchants, the length of the
voyage not being the sole source of annoyance, since vessels taking
cargoes at Aden save the great wear and tear occasioned in their
return down the Red Sea.

Perhaps, considering the difficulty of conciliating the semi-barbarous
tribes in the neighbourhood, the trade and population of Aden have
increased as much as we could reasonably hope; but when peace shall at
length be established, it will doubtless attract merchants and Banians
from Surat, as well as all other adjacent places. If at this moment
our expectations have not been completely answered, we have at least
the satisfaction of knowing that, besides having saved the Red Sea
from the encroachments of the Pasha of Egypt, we have anticipated
a rival power, which has already derived greater advantage from our
supineness, with regard to our Eastern possessions, than is desirable.

The Americans, during 1833-4-5, had a small squadron looking all about
for a spot which they could turn to good account. Socotra, from its
convenient position between Africa and Arabia, proved a point of
attraction, and had not Capt. Haines, of the Indian Navy, promptly
taken possession, in the name of Great Britain, they would in all
probability have succeeded in effecting a settlement. With their usual
attention to the interests of their commerce, the Americans have a
resident permanently stationed at Zanzibar, and have made advantageous
arrangements with the Imaum of Muscat, whereby the trade with the
United States has greatly increased; American ships are constantly
arriving, with piece-goods, glass-ware, &c, and returning with
profitable cargoes, the produce of Africa.

The inhabitants of Aden appear to be a peaceable race, generally well
affected to the government, from which they cannot fail to derive
advantage. The Jews, as I have before mentioned, are the most
important, both in consequence of their number and of their superior
wealth; they belong to the tribe of Judah, and are very industrious,
being the manufacturers of the place.

It is by the Jews and their families, the females assisting, that a
coarse kind of cloth, employed for their own garments, and also sold
to strangers, is spun and woven. This cloth is in much esteem
amongst the Arabs: when prepared for them, it is dyed blue, sometimes
ornamented with red borders, indigo being employed, together with
extracts from other plants. The women generally wear a single loose
garment, covering the head with a handkerchief when they leave the
house; they do not, however, conceal their faces. Previous to the
occupation of Aden, the Jewesses were remarkable for the propriety of
their manners, but as they are esteemed handsome, and moreover attract
by their good temper and intelligence, it is to be feared that they
will meet with many temptations to depart from the decorum they have
hitherto maintained. Like their sex and peculiar race, they are
fond of ornaments, adorning themselves with large silver ear-rings,
bracelets, necklaces, and armlets. Hitherto, whatever wealth they
possessed, they were obliged to conceal, the Arabs proving very severe
and oppressive masters; their prospects are now brightening, and they
have already shown a disposition to profit by the new order of things,
having opened shops in the bazaar, and commenced trading in a way they
never ventured upon before.

Nor is it in spinning and weaving alone that the Jews of Aden excel;
artizans in silver and copper are to be found amongst them, together
with stone-cutters, and other handicrafts-men. They have a school for
the education of their male youth, the females not having yet enjoyed
this advantage, in consequence of the intolerance of the Arabs, who
view with prejudiced eyes every attempt to emancipate women from the
condition to which they have been so long reduced.

The means of instruction possessed by the Jews of Aden are not very
extensive, a few printed Bibles and MS. extracts forming the whole
of their literature. It has been thought that missionaries would here
find a fair field for their exertions; but, unfortunately, the most
promising places in the East are, by some mistake, either of ignorance
or ambition, left wholly destitute of Christian teachers. While the
pledges of Government are compromised in India, and its stability
threatened, by the daring attempts to make converts at the
presidencies, and other considerable places, where success is
attended with great noise and clamour, many portions of the Company's
territories, in which much quiet good might be effected, are left
entirely without religious aid.

The Banians, though small in number, rank next to the Jews in
importance, and are, perhaps, more wealthy; they are not, however,
so completely identified with the soil, for they do not bring their
families with them when emigrating to Aden from the places of their
birth. The greater number come from Cutch, arriving at an early period
of life, and with the craft that usually distinguishes them, studying
the character of the Arabs, and making the most of it. They are not
esteemed such good subjects to the new government as the Jews, their
expectations of benefit from a change of masters, in consequence of
their having proved the chief gainers heretofore, being less sanguine.

The Soomalees are natives of Barbora, and are in number about two
hundred. They employ themselves in making baskets, mats, and fans,
from the leaves of a species of palm-tree; they are not so active and
industrious as the Jews, but the younger portion, if brought up in
European families, might, with the advantage of good tuition, become
useful as servants and labourers. They are Mohamedans, but not very
strict, either in their religious or moral principles, violating oaths
sworn upon the _Koran_, and cheating and thieving whenever they can.
The love of money, however, is a strong stimulus to improvement, and
where it exists, or can be created, the case is far more hopeful than
when the wants and desires are both limited. The Soomalee women are
reckoned handsome, though in that respect they cannot compare with the
Jewesses, their complexions being much darker and their hair coarse;
they have tall, well-proportioned figures, and are as attentive to
their dress and appearance as their poverty will admit. The Arabs are
the least prepossessing of all the inhabitants of Aden, and it will
be long before any confidence can be placed in them. They religiously
conceal their women, and are a bigoted, prejudiced race, disaffected
of course to the new government, and shy of intercourse with the
British occupants.

That the hopes entertained of the prosperity of Aden have not been
more speedily realized, may be attributed to the prevalent belief that
its new masters could not maintain their ground against the hostile
Arabs of the neighbourhood. It is the opinion of a competent judge,
that, "as soon as the inhabitants of distant countries feel convinced
that our occupation of Aden is intended to be a _permanent_, and not a
temporary measure, they will establish agencies there under our flag,
in preference to any other, and open an extensive traffic." The same
authority states that "it is the opinion of the Banians and Arabs,
that Aden _will regain_ her former commercial renown."

With respect to the goods at present in requisition, or likely to meet
a sale, at Aden, we learn from the report above quoted, that "of the
manufactures of Europe, coloured handkerchiefs and hardware are
only in demand, though longcloths are procurable and are sometimes
purchased by the Arabs; but these articles are priced so high, as to
prevent any great consumption of them. From what I observed of the
Arab disposition and taste, I certainly believe that coloured cotton
goods of _fast_ colours, and of patterns similar to those elsewhere
specified, if offered at rates somewhat reasonable, would in a very
short period meet with an extensive sale, and be rapidly introduced
into common use amongst the Arabs of the interior. The novelty of the
experiment would at first induce the Arabs to become purchasers, when,
finding the articles _good_, it is but reasonable to anticipate an
extensive demand. The colours should be particularly attended to, for
the certainty of obtaining goods of _fast colours_ would alone ensure
the articles in question a speedy sale. The handkerchiefs that have
already been introduced into Aden are of the worst sort relative
to colour, generally becoming after two or three washings white, or
nearly so; thus it cannot be wondered at if these goods meet with but
a poor demand."

The ravages committed by the army of the Pasha of Egypt, in the
fertile districts of the neighbourhood of Aden, have been prejudicial
to the interests of the new settlement, and perhaps so long as the
hope of plunder can be entertained by the petty princes, who rule
the adjacent districts, they will be unwilling to wait for the
slower advantages derivable from commerce. The apparently reckless
expenditure of the British residents, and the princely pay given to
the soldiers of the garrison, have offered so dazzling a prospect
of gain, that they (the native chiefs) will have some difficulty in
abandoning the hope of making themselves masters, at a single blow, of
all the treasure brought to their shores. It is said that some Turks,
deserters from Mehemet Ali, who took refuge in Aden, upon being made
acquainted with the amount of pay given to the British troops, and the
regularity with which it was issued, exclaimed, "God is great, and the
English are immortal!"

During the proper seasons, Aden is well supplied with fruit; its trade
in honey and wax might become very important, the adjacent countries
yielding abundance of both, and of so fine a quality, as to compete
with the produce of the hives of the Mediterranean. Drugs are
procurable in equal abundance, together with perfumes and spices. The
European inhabitants are, of course, compelled to send to Bombay
for those luxuries which habit has rendered necessary; the constant
communication with the presidency renders them easily procurable,
while the intercourse with India and England, by means of the
steamers, relieves the monotony which would otherwise be severely

I could have spent two or three days with great pleasure at Aden,
inquiring into its early history, present condition, and future
prospects, and regretted much when a summons reached me to depart. We
entertained a hope that the steamer would come round and take us off
at the northern point; however, we were obliged to return the way we
came. There are, and have been since its occupation, several English
ladies living at Aden, but whether they have not shown themselves
sufficiently often to render their appearance familiar, or the
curiosity of the people is not easily satisfied, I cannot say; but I
found myself an object of great attention to the women and children.

The sun having declined, the whole of the population of Aden seemed to
be abroad, and many well-dressed and good-looking women were seated on
the rude steps and broken walls of the stone houses before-mentioned.
As they saw me smiling upon them, they drew nearer, salaamed, and
laughed in return, and appeared to examine my dress as closely as
the open doors of the palanquin would permit. Some of the very little
children turned away in horror from a white face, but the greater
number seemed much pleased with the notice taken of them. While
waiting a few minutes for my party, my bearers wanted to drive them
away, but this I would not permit, and we carried on a very amicable
intercourse by signs, both being apparently mutually delighted
with each other. Their vivacity and good-humour made a favourable
impression upon my mind, and I should like to have an opportunity
of becoming better acquainted with them, feeling strongly tempted to
proceed to Aden on my return to England in a sailing vessel, and await
there the arrival of a steamer to convey me up the Red Sea to Cosseir
or to Suez.

I was offered a present of a milch-goat at Aden, but not being able to
consult with the captain of the _Berenice_ concerning its introduction
on board, I did not like to allow the poor creature to run any risk
of neglect. Its productiveness would soon have diminished on board a
steamer, and it was so useful in a place like Aden, that I could not
feel justified in taking it away for my own gratification. I obtained,
however, a bottle of milk, and when I got on board, having dined
early, and being moreover exhausted with my journey, as I was only
recovering from an attack of fever, I wished to have some tea. This
was too great an indulgence to be granted by the petty authorities
who ruled over the passengers. Unfortunately, upon leaving Suez, I
had given away all my tea to my servant, Mohammed, who was fond of it,
nothing doubting that I should be able to procure as much as I pleased
on board the steamer. The refusal was the more provoking, as there was
plenty of boiling water ready, and I had humbly limited my request to
a spoonful of tea. Under the circumstances, I was obliged to content
myself with milk and water: had the captain or the surgeon of the
vessel been at hand, I should doubtless have been supplied with every
thing I wanted, but in their absence, it was impossible to procure a
single article. Upon one occasion, while tea was serving, a passenger
in the saloon asked for a cup, and was told to go upon deck for it.

I also procured a supply of soda water at Aden. I had suffered much
from the want of this refreshing beverage during my fever, the supply
taken on board having been exhausted on the voyage up. The passengers
down the Red Sea have the disadvantage of sailing with exhausted
stores. It seems hardly fair to them, especially in cases of illness,
that the whole of any particular article should be given to the people
who embark at Bombay, they having a right to expect that, as they pay
the same price, a portion should be reserved for their use.

On the second day after our departure from Aden--that is, the 22nd
of October--we arrived at Makallah. It was mid-day before the vessel
ceased to ply her engines, and though invited to go on shore, as
we could not penetrate beyond the walls of the town, we thought it
useless to exchange our cabins for a hot room in the mansion of its
ruler. The town of Makallah, which forms the principal commercial
depot of the south-west of Arabia, is built upon a rocky platform of
some length, but of very inconsiderable width, backed by a perfect
wall of cliffs, and bounded in front by the sea. It seems tolerably
well built for an Arabian town, many of the houses being of a very
respectable appearance, two or more stories in height, and ornamented
with small turrets and cupolas: the nakib, or governor's residence, is
large, with a high square tower, which gives it the air of a citadel.

There is not a tree or shrub to be seen, the absence of vegetation
investing the place with a character of its own, and one that
harmonizes with the bold and bare rocks which bound the coast on
either side. We were told that, between two ranges of hills close to
the entrance of the town, a beautiful green valley occurred, watered
by delicious springs, and shaded by date-trees. Had we arrived at
an early period of the morning, we might have spent the day on this
delightful place, proceeding to it on the backs of camels or donkeys,
or even on foot; but it being impossible to get thither while the
sun was in full power, we were obliged to content ourselves with a
description of its beauties.

Although a very good understanding exists between our Government and
that of Makallah, which has for some time been a depot of coal for the
use of the steamers, it is not advisable for visitors to proceed very
far from the town without protection. A midshipman belonging to the
Indian navy having gone on shore for the purpose of visiting the
valley before-mentioned, and straying away to some distance, attracted
by the beauty of the scenery, was suddenly surrounded by a party of
Bedouins, who robbed him of all he possessed, cutting off the buttons
from his clothes, under the idea that they were of gold--an impression
which obtains all over the coast, and which inspired the people who
made the last assault upon Aden with the hope of a rich booty.

The population of Makallah is estimated at about 4,600 people, of
various tribes and countries, the chief portion being either of the
Beni Hassan and Yafai tribes, together with Banians, Kurachies, and
emigrants from nearly all parts of the adjacent coasts. It carries
on rather a considerable trade in gums, hides, and drugs, which, with
coffee, form the exports, receiving in return iron, lead, manufactured
cloths, earthenware, and rice, from Bombay, and all the productions of
the neighbouring countries, slaves included, in which the traffic is
said to be very great.

The gentlemen who went on shore purchased very pretty and convenient
baskets, wrought in various colours, and also quantities of
sweetmeats, which are much in esteem in India; these are composed of
honey and flour, delicately made, the honey being converted into a
soft kind of paste, with a coating of the flour on the outside.
These sweetmeats were nicely packed in straw baskets, of a different
manufacture from those before-mentioned, and were very superior to
the common sort which is brought from the coast in small coarse
earthenware basins, exceedingly unattractive in their appearance.

The interior of the country is said to be very beautiful, abundantly
watered by refreshing springs, and shaded by groves of date-trees.
Amongst its animal productions, the most beautiful is the gazelle,
which, properly speaking, is only to be found in Arabia; a delicate
and lovely creature, with the soft black eye which has been from time
immemorial the theme of poets. The gazelle is easily tamed, becoming
in a short time very familiar, and being much more gentle, as well as
more graceful, than the common antelope. Its movements are the most
airy and elegant imaginable. It is fond of describing a circle in
a succession of bounds, jumping off the ground on four legs, and
touching it lightly as it wheels round and round. At other times, it
pirouettes upon the two fore feet, springing round at the same time
like an opera-dancer; in fact, it would appear as if Taglioni, and all
our most celebrated _artistes_, had taken lessons from the gazelle,
so much do their _chefs-d'oeuvre_ resemble its graceful motions.
When domesticated, the gazelle loves to feed upon roses, delighting
apparently in the scent as well as the taste. It is the fashion in the
East to add perfume to the violet, and I found these gazelles would
eat with much zest roses that had been plentifully sprinkled with
their extract, the _goolabee paanee_, so greatly in request. The
gazelle is also very fond of crisply-toasted bread, a taste which must
be acquired in domestication. It is a courageous animal, and will come
readily to the assault, butting fiercely when attacked. In taking a
gazelle away from Arabia, it should be carefully guarded against cold
and damp, and if not provided with water-proof covering to its feet,
would soon die if exposed to the wet decks of a ship.

We had lost at Aden our fellow-passenger, whom I have mentioned as
having assumed the Turkish dress for the purpose of penetrating
into the interior of Abyssinia. He depended, in a great measure, for
comfort and safety, upon two native priests, whom he had brought with
him from Cairo, and who, in return for his liberality, had promised
all the protection and assistance in their power. He left us with
the good wishes of all the party, and not without some fears in the
breasts of those who contemplated the hazards which he ran. Young and
good-looking, he had, with pardonable, but perhaps dangerous, vanity,
studied the becoming in his costume, which was composed of the very
finest materials. His long outer garment, of a delicate woollen
texture, was lined throughout with silk, and the crimson cap, which
he wore upon his head, was converted into a turban by a piece of gold
muslin wound round it. He expected nothing less than to be plundered
and stripped of this fine apparel, and it will be well for him should
he escape with life. The adventure and the romance of the undertaking
possessed great charms, and he talked, after spending some years in
a wild and wandering career, of sitting down quietly in his paternal
halls, introducing as many of the Egyptian customs as would be
tolerated in a Christian country.

A short residence in Cairo proves very captivating to many Englishmen;
they like the independent sort of life which they lead; their perfect
freedom from all the thralls imposed by society at home, and, when
tired of dreaming away existence after the indolent fashion of
the East, plunge into the surrounding deserts, and enjoy all the
excitement attendant upon danger. Numerous anecdotes were related to
me of the hardships sustained by young English travellers, who, led by
the spirit of adventure, had trusted themselves to the Bedouins, and,
though escaping with life, had suffered very severely from hunger,
thirst, and fatigue. I have no reason to doubt the veracity of one of
these enterprising tourists, who assured me that he had passed through
the holy city of Mecca. According to his account, he had made friends
with an Arab boy, who offered to afford him a glimpse of the city,
provided he would consent to pass rapidly through it, at an early hour
in the morning. Accordingly, disguised in Mohamedan garb, and mounted
upon a camel, they entered and quitted it at opposite ends, without
exciting curiosity or remark. Of course, he could see nothing but the
exterior of the houses and mosques, only obtaining a partial view of
these; but, considering the difficulty and peril of the undertaking,
the pleasure of being able to say that he had succeeded in an
achievement which few would be daring enough to attempt, was worth
running some risks.

Notwithstanding the intolerant spirit generally manifested by the
Arabs, those English strangers who embrace their way of life for a
time frequently attach them very strongly to their persons, obtaining
concessions from them which could scarcely be expected from a
people so bigoted in their religious opinions, and entertaining so
contemptible an opinion of those who are followers of other creeds. In
spite of the faults of his character--for he is frequently deceitful,
treacherous, cruel, and covetous--the Arab of the desert is usually
much respected by the dwellers in towns. His independent spirit
is admired by those who could not exist without the comforts and
conveniences of life, which he disdains. It is no uncommon sight,
either at Cairo or Alexandria, to see a handsome young Bedouin,
splendidly attired, lodging in the open street by the side of his
camel, for nothing will persuade him to sleep in a house; he
carries the habits of the desert into the city, and in the midst of
congregated thousands, dwells apart.

We, who merely crossed the desert from Cairo to Suez, could form
little idea of the pleasures which a longer sojourn and more extended
researches would afford--the poetry of the life which the Arab leads.
Nothing, I was told, could exceed the enjoyments of the night, when,
after a day of burning heat, the cool breezes came down from elevated
valleys, occurring between the ranges of hills which I had observed
with so much interest. This balmy air brings with it perfumes wafted
from sweet-scented flowers, which spring spontaneously in the green
spots known to the gazelle, who repairs to them to drink. Although
the dews are heavy, the Arab requires no more protection than that
afforded by his blanket, and he lies down under the most glorious
canopy, the broad vault of heaven with its countless spangles, no
artificial object intervening throughout the large circle of that wide
horizon. Here, his ablutions, prayers, and evening-meal concluded,
he either sinks into profound repose, or listens to the tales of
his companions, of daring deeds and battles long ago, or the equally
interesting though less exciting narratives of passing events; some
love-story between persons of hostile tribes, or the affection of a
betrothed girl for a stranger, and its melancholy consequences.

Notwithstanding the slight estimation in which the sex is held by the
fierce and jealous Arab--jealous more from self-love than from any
regard to the object that creates this feeling--there is still much of
the romantic to be found in his domestic history. English travellers,
who have acquired a competent knowledge of the language, may collect
materials for poems as tragical and touching as those which Lord Byron
loved to weave. I could relate several in this place, picked up by my
fellow-travellers, but as they may at some period or other desire
to give them to the public themselves, it would be scarcely fair to
anticipate their intention.

We now began to look out with some anxiety for the arrival of the
steamer at Bombay, speculating upon the chances of finding friends
able to receive us. As we drew nearer and nearer, the recollection of
the good hotels which had opened their hospitable doors for us in
the most unpromising places, caused us to lament over the absence of
similar establishments at the scene of our destination. Bombay has
been aptly denominated the landing-place of India; numbers of persons
who have no acquaintance upon the island pass through it on their way
to Bengal, or to the provinces, and if arriving by the Red Sea, are
totally unprovided with the means of making themselves comfortable in
the tents that may be hired upon their landing.

A tent, to a stranger in India, appears to be the most forlorn
residence imaginable, and many cannot be reconciled to it, even
after long custom. To those, however, who do not succeed in obtaining
invitations to private houses, a tent is the only resource. It seems
scarcely possible that the number of persons, who are obliged to
live under canvas on the Esplanade, would not prefer apartments at a
respectable hotel, if one should be erected for the purpose; yet it
is said that such an establishment would not answer. Bombay can never
obtain the pre-eminence over Calcutta, which it is so anxious to
accomplish, until it will provide the accommodation for visitors which
the City of Palaces has afforded during several years past. However
agreeable the overland journey may be, it cannot be performed without
considerable fatigue.

The voyage down the Red Sea, in warm weather especially, occasions
a strong desire for rest; even those persons, therefore, who are so
fortunate as to be carried off to friends' houses, immediately upon
their arrival, would much prefer the comfort and seclusion of a
hotel, for the first day or two at least. The idea of going amongst
strangers, travel-soiled and travel-worn, is anything but agreeable,
more particularly with the consciousness that a week's baths will
scarcely suffice to remove the coal-dust collected in the steamers of
the Red Sea: for my own part, I contemplated with almost equal alarm
the prospect of presenting myself immediately upon the termination of
my voyage, or of being left, on the charge of eight rupees _per diem_,
to the tender mercies of the vessel.

We entered the harbour of Bombay in the evening of the 29th of
October, too late to contemplate the beauty of its scenery, there
being unfortunately no moon. As soon as we dropped anchor, a scene of
bustle and excitement took place. The boxes containing the mails were
all brought upon deck, the vessel was surrounded with boats, and the
first news that greeted our ears--news that was communicated with
great glee--was the damage done by fire to the _Atalanta_ steamer.
This open manifestation, by the officers of the Indian navy, of
dislike to a service to which they belong, is, to say the least of it,
ill-judged. A rapid increase in the number of armed steam-vessels may
be calculated upon, while the destruction of half of those at present
employed would scarcely retard the progress of this mighty power--a
power which may alter the destinies of half the world. The hostility,
therefore, of persons who cannot hope by their united opposition to
effect the slightest change in the system, becomes contemptible.

It is a wise proverb which recommends us not to show our teeth unless
we can bite. To expose the defects of steamers, may produce their
remedy; but to denounce them altogether, is equally useless and
unwise, since, however inconvenient they may be, no person, with
whom despatch is an object, will hesitate to prefer them to a
sailing-vessel; while every officer, who takes the Queen's or the
Company's pay, should consider it to be his duty to uphold the service
which tends to promote the interests of his country.


* * * * *


* * * * *

Contrast between landing at Bombay and at Calcutta--First feelings
those of disappointment--Aspect of the place improves--Scenery of the
Island magnificent, abounding with fine Landscapes--Luxuriance and
elegance of the Palms--Profusion and contrast of the Trees--Multitude
of large Houses in Gardens--Squalid, dirty appearance of the
Native Crowd--Costume of the Natives--Inferior to the Costume of
Bengal--Countenances not so handsome--The Drive to the Fort--The
Burrah Bazaar--Parsee Houses--"God-shops" of the Jains--General use
of Chairs amongst the Natives--Interior of the Native Houses--The
Sailors' Home--The Native Town--Improvements--The Streets animated
and picturesque--Number of Vehicles--The Native Females--The Parsee
Women--The Esplanade--Tents and Bungalows--The Fort--The China
Bazaar--A Native School--Visit to a Parsee Warehouse--Seal ornamental
China-ware--Apprehension of Fire in the Fort--Houses fired by
Rats--Illumination of Native Houses--Discordant noise of Native
Magic--The great variety of Religions in Bombay productive of
lamp-lighting and drumming.

The bunder, or pier, where passengers disembark upon their arrival in
Bombay, though well-built and convenient, offers a strong contrast
to the splendours of Chandpaul Ghaut in Calcutta; neither are the
bunder-boats at all equal in elegance to the budgerows, bohlias, and
other small craft, which we find upon the Hooghley. There is nothing
to indicate the wealth or the importance of the presidency to be
seen at a glance; the Scottish church, a white-washed building of no
pretensions, being the most striking object from the sea. Landward, a
range of handsome houses flank so dense a mass of buildings, occupying
the interior of the Fort, as to make the whole appear more like a
fortified town than a place of arms, as the name would denote. The
tower of the cathedral, rising in the centre, is the only feature in
the scene which boasts any architectural charm; and the Esplanade,
a wide plain, stretching from the ramparts to the sea, is totally
destitute of picturesque beauty.

The first feelings, therefore, are those of disappointment, and it
is not until the eye has been accustomed to the view, that it becomes
pleased with many of the details; the interest increasing with the
development of other and more agreeable features, either not seen at
all, or seen through an unfavourable medium. The aspect of the place
improved, as, after crossing the Esplanade or plain, the carriage
drove along roads cut through palm-tree woods, and at length, when I
reached my place of destination, I thought that I had never seen any
thing half so beautiful.

The apartments which, through the kindness of hospitable friends, I
called my own, commanded an infinite variety of the most magnificent
scenery imaginable. To the left, through a wide vista between two
hills, which seemed cleft for the purpose of admitting the view, lay
the placid waters of the ocean, land-locked, as it were, by the
bold bluff of distant islands, and dotted by a fairy fleet of
fishing-boats, with their white sails glittering in the sun. In front,
over a beautifully-planted fore-ground, I looked down upon a perfect
sea of palms, the taller palmyras lifting their proud heads above the
rest, and all so intermingled with other foliage, as to produce the
richest variety of hues. This fine wood, a spur of what may be termed
a forest further to the right, skirted a broad plain which stretched
out to the beach, the bright waters beyond expanding and melting
into the horizon, while to the right it was bounded by a hilly ridge
feathered with palm-trees, the whole bathed in sunshine, and forming
altogether a perfect Paradise.

Every period of the day, and every variation in the state of the
atmosphere, serve to bring out new beauties in this enchanting scene;
and the freshness and delicious balm of the morning, the gorgeous
splendour of mid-day, the crimson and amber pomps of evening, and the
pale moonlight, tipping every palm-tree top with silver, produce an
endless succession of magical effects. In walking about the garden and
grounds of this delightful residence, we are continually finding
some new point from which the view appears to be more beautiful than
before. Upon arriving at the verge of the cleft between the two hills,
we look down from a considerable elevation over rocky precipitous
ground, with a village (Mazagong) skirting the beach, while the
prospect, widening, shows the whole of the harbour, with the high
ghauts forming the back-ground.

Turning to the other side, behind the hill which shuts out the sea,
the landscape is of the richest description--roads winding through
thick plantations, houses peeping from embowering trees, and an
umbrageous forest beyond. The whole of Bombay abounds with landscapes
which, if not equal to that from Chintapooglee Hill, which I have,
vainly I fear, attempted to describe, boast beauties peculiarly their
own, the distinguishing feature being the palm-tree. It is impossible
to imagine the luxuriance and elegance of this truly regal family as
it grows in Bombay, each separate stage, from the first appearance
of the different species, tufting the earth with those stately crowns
which afterwards shoot up so grandly, being marked with beauty. The
variety of the foliage of the coco-nut, the brab, and others,
the manner of their growth, differing according to the different
directions taken, and the exquisite grouping which continually occurs,
prevent the monotony which their profusion might otherwise create,
the general effect being, under all circumstances, absolutely perfect.
Though the principal, the palm is far from being the only tree, and
while frequently forming whole groves, it is as frequently blended
with two species of cypress, the peepul, mango, banian, wild cinnamon,
and several others.

In addition to the splendour of its wood and water, Bombay is
embellished by fragments of dark rock, which force themselves through
the soil, roughening the sides of the hills, and giving beauty to
the precipitous heights and shelving beach. Though the island is
comparatively small, extensively cultivated and thickly inhabited,
it possesses its wild and solitary places, its rains deeply seated
in thick forests, and its lonely hills covered with rock, and thinly
wooded by the eternal palm-tree; hills which, in consequence of
the broken nature of the ground, and their cavernous recesses, are
difficult of access. It is in these fastnesses that the hyenas find
secure retreats, and the Parsees construct their "towers of silence."

There is little, or indeed nothing, in the scenery that comes under
the denomination of jungle, the island being intersected in every
part with excellent roads, macadamized with the stone that abounds
so conveniently for the purpose. These roads are sometimes skirted by
walls of dark stone, which harmonize well with the trees that
never fail to spread their shade above; at others, with beautiful
hedge-rows, while across the flats and along the Esplanade, a
water-course or a paling forms the enclosures.

The multitude of large houses, each situated in the midst of gardens
or ornamented grounds, gives a very cheerful appearance to the roads
of Bombay; but what the stranger on his first arrival in India is
said to be most struck with is, the number and beauty of the
native population. Probably, had I never seen Bengal, I might
have experienced similar delight and astonishment; but with the
recollections of Calcutta fresh in my mind, I felt disappointed.

Accustomed to multitudes of fine-looking well-dressed people, with
their ample and elegant drapery of spotless white muslin, I could not
help contrasting them with the squalid, dirty appearance of the
native crowd of Bombay. Nor is it so easy at first to distinguish the
varieties of the costume through the one grand characteristic of dirt;
nor, with the exception of the peculiar Parsee turban, which is very
ugly, the Persian cap, and the wild garb of the Arab, do they differ
so widely as I expected. For instance; the Hindus and Mohamedans are
not so easily recognized as in Bengal. The vest in ordinary wear,
instead of being fitted tightly to the figure, and having that
peculiarly elegant cut which renders it so graceful, seems nothing
more than a loose bed-gown, coarse in materials and tasteless in
shape: this forms the most common costume. The higher classes of
Parsees wear an ample and not unbecoming dress; the upper garment
of white cambric muslin fits tightly to the waist, where it is bound
round with a sash or cummurbund of white muslin; it then descends in
an exceedingly full skirt to the feet, covering a pair of handsome
silk trowsers. A Parsee group, thus attired, in despite of their mean
and unbecoming head-dress, make a good appearance.

The Arabs wear handkerchiefs or shawls, striped with red, yellow, and
blue, bound round their heads, or hanging in a fanciful manner over
their turbans. The Persian dress is grave and handsome, and there
are, besides, Nubians, Chinese, and many others; but the well-dressed
people must be looked for in the carriages, few of the same
description are to be seen on foot, which gives to a crowd in Bengal
so striking an appearance. In fact, a Bengallee may be recognized at
a glance by his superior costume, and in no place is the contrast more
remarkable than in the halls and entrances of Anglo-Indian houses. The
servants, if not in livery--and it is difficult to get them to
wear one, the dignity of caste interfering--are almost invariably
ill-dressed and slovenly in their appearance. We see none of the
beautifully plaited and unsullied white turbans; none of the fine
muslin dresses and well-folded cummurbunds; the garments being
coarse, dirty, scanty, and not put on to advantage. Neither are the
countenances so handsome or the forms so fine; for though a very
considerable degree of beauty is to be found of person and feature
amid many classes of Parsees, Jews, Hindus, and Mohamedans, it is not
so general as in Bengal, where the features are usually so finely cut,
and the eyes so splendid.

Nevertheless, although my admiration has never been so strongly
excited, and I was in the first instance greatly disappointed, every
time I go abroad I become more reconciled to this change, and more
gratified by the various objects which attract my attention; and there
are few things that please me more than a drive to the Fort.

It is very difficult, perhaps impossible, to convey any idea of
the lively scene which is presented in this excursion, or the great
variety of features which it embraces. Enclosures sprinkled over with
palm-trees, and filled with a herd of buffaloes, occur close to a
farm-house, which looks absolutely English; then we come to a
cluster of huts of the most miserable description, occupying some low
situation, placed absolutely on the ground, and scantily thatched with
palm branches; stately mansions now arise to view, and then there is
a row of small but apparently comfortable dwellings, habitations being
thickly scattered over fields and gardens, until we reach what has
been denominated the Black Town, but which is now generally known as
the Burrah Bazaar. This is now a broad street, and, without exception,
one of the most curious places I have ever beheld. It is said to have
been much improved during late administrations, and, forming the high
road to the Fort, is the avenue most frequented in the native town
by Europeans. The buildings on either side are very irregular, and of
various descriptions; some consist of ranges of small shops, with
a story above in a very dilapidated and tumble-down condition. Then
comes a row of large mansions of three floors, which look very much
like the toy baby-houses constructed for children in England, the
windows being so close together, and the interiors so public;
others intervene, larger, more solid, and irregular, but exceedingly

Most of the better kind of houses are ascended by a flight of
steps, which leads to a sort of verandah, formed by the floor above
projecting over it, and being supported by wooden pillars or other
frame-work in front. In the Parsee houses of this kind, there is
usually a niche in this lower portion for a lamp, which is kept always
burning. In some places, the houses are enclosed in courtyards, and
at others a range of dwellings, not very unlike the alms-houses in
England, are divided from the road by a low wall, placed a few yards
in the front, and entered at either end by gateways. These houses have
a very comfortable appearance, and the shading of a few palm-trees
completes a rather pretty picture. There are two mosques, one on
either side of this street, which are handsomely constructed, and
would be great embellishments to the scene, were they not so painfully

A peculiar class of Hindus, the Jains, have also what have not been
inappropriately termed "god-shops," for they certainly have not the
slightest appearance of temples. These pagodas, if they may be so
styled, are nothing more than large houses, of three floors, with
balconies running in front, the heavy wooden frame-work that supports
them being painted a dark dingy red, and the walk adorned with
representations of deities, executed in a variety of colours, and of
the most nondescript character. The interiors appear to be decorated
in the same manner, as they are seen through the open windows and by
the light of many lamps suspended from the ceilings. The ringing
of bells, and the full attendance of priests and worshippers of an
evening, show the purpose to which these houses are dedicated, and
superstition is here exhibited in its most revolting aspect, for there
is no illusion to cheat the fancy--no beautiful sequestered pagoda,
with its shadowing trees and flower-strewed courts, to excite poetical
ideas--all being coarse, vulgar, and contemptible.

Great numbers of artizans are to be seen at work in their respective
shops in this bazaar, copper-smiths particularly, who seem an
industrious race, toiling by lamp-light long after the day has
completely closed. There are also _caravanserais_ and _cafes_, where
the country and religion of the owner may be known by the guests
congregated about his gate. Groups of Persians are seen seated on the
outside smoking; the beautiful cats, which they have brought down
for sale, sporting at their feet. A few yards farther on, the Arab
horse-dealers, in front of their stables, are equally conspicuous, and
it is easy to perceive, by the eager glances with which some of these
men survey the English carriages bearing fair freights of ladies
along, that they have never visited an European settlement before.

My former visit to India enabling me to observe the differences
between two of our presidencies, I was particularly struck, on my
arrival at Bombay, with the general use of chairs among the natives;
none but the very meanest description of houses seem to be entirely
destitute of an article of furniture scarcely known in the native
habitations of Bengal; and these seats seem to be preferred to
the more primitive method of squatting on the ground, which
still prevails, the number of chairs in each mansion being rather
circumscribed, excepting in the best houses, where they abound. Sofas
and divans, though seen, are not so common as in Egypt, and perhaps
the divan, properly speaking, is not very usual.

The cheapness of oil, and in all probability the example shown by the
Parsees, render lamps very abundant. The common kind of hall-lamp of
England, of different sizes and different colours, is the prevailing
article; these are supplied with a tumbler half-filled with water,
having a layer of oil upon the top, and two cotton-wicks. As I lose
no opportunity whatever of looking into the interiors of the native
houses, I have been often surprised to see one of these lamps
suspended in a very mean apartment of a cottage, boasting few other
articles of furniture, which, nevertheless, in consequence of its
cleanliness, and the excellence of the light afforded, possessed
an air of comfort. In fact, many of the houses, whose exteriors are
anything but promising, are very well fitted up in the inside; many
of the apartments are panelled with wood, handsomely carved, and have
ceilings and floors of the same, either painted of a dark colour, or
highly polished. In the evening, the windows being all open, and the
lamps lighted, a foil view may be obtained of these apartments.

Many of the houses appear to be kept entirely for show, since in
all my peregrinations I have never seen any human being in the upper
chambers, although illuminated every night. In others, there can be
no doubt concerning the fact of their having inhabitants, since the
owners do not scruple to go to bed with the windows open and the lamps
burning, not disturbed in their repose by the certainty of being seen
by every passer-by, or by the noise and bustle of the street.

The bazaar ends at the commencement of the Esplanade, in a large
building, wooden-fronted, of a circular form, and not unhandsome,
which is decorated with a flag upon the roof, and is called "The
Sailors' Home." Its verandahs and open windows often display our
jovial tars enjoying themselves in an asylum which, though evil has
been spoken against it, is said to be well-conducted, and to prevent a
very thoughtless class of persons from falling into worse hands.

The native town extends considerably on either side of the principal
avenue, one road leading through the coco-nut gardens, presenting a
great variety of very interesting features; that to the left is more
densely crowded, there being a large and well-frequented cloth bazaar,
besides a vast number of shops and native houses, apparently of
considerable importance. Here the indications shown of wealth and
industry are exceedingly gratifying to an eye delighting in the sight
of a happy and flourishing population. There are considerable spaces
of ground between these leading thoroughfares, which, by occasional
peeps down intersecting lanes, seem to be covered with a huddled
confusion of buildings, and, until the improvements which have
recently taken place, the whole of the town seems to have been nearly
in the same state.

The processes of widening, draining, pulling down, and rebuilding,
appear to have been carried on very extensively; and though much,
perhaps, remains to be done in the back settlements, where buffaloes
may be seen wading through the stagnant pools, the eye is seldom
offended, or the other senses disagreeably assailed, in passing
through this populous district. The season is, however, so favourable,
the heat being tempered by cool airs, which render the sunshine
endurable, that Bombay, under its present aspect, may be very
different from the Bombay of the rains or of the very hot weather. The
continual palm-trees, which, shooting up in all directions, add grace
and beauty to every scene, must form terrible receptacles for malaria;
the fog and mist are said to cling to their branches and hang round
them like a cloud, when dispersed by sun or wind elsewhere; the very
idea suggesting fever and ague.

Though, as I have before remarked, the contrast between the muslined
millions of Bengal and the less tastefully clad populace of Bombay is
unfavourable, still the crowds that fill the streets here are animated
and picturesque. There is a great display of the liveliest colours,
the turbans being frequently of the brightest of yellows, crimsons, or

The number of vehicles employed is quite extraordinary, those of the
merely respectable classes being chiefly bullock-carts; these are of
various descriptions, the greater number being of an oblong square,
and furnished with seats across (after the fashion of our taxed
carts), in which twelve persons, including women and children, are
frequently accommodated. It is most amusing to see the quantity of
heads squeezed close together in a vehicle of this kind, and the
various contrivances resorted to in order to accommodate a more than
sufficient number of personages in other conveyances, not so well
calculated to hold them. Four in a buggy is a common complement, and
six or nine persons will cram themselves into so small a space, that
you wonder how the vehicle can possibly contain the bodies of all the
heads seen looking out of it. The carts are chiefly open, but there
are a few covered _rhuts_, the conveyances probably of rich Hindu or
Mohamedan ladies, who do not content themselves, like the Parsees,
with merely covering their heads with the veil.

Young Parsee women of the better class are frequently to be seen in
carriages with their male relations, nor do they object to appear
publicly in the streets following wedding processions. They are the
only well-dressed or nice-looking women who drive or walk about the
streets or roads. The lower classes of females in Bombay are the most
unprepossessing people I ever saw. In Bengal, the _saree_, though
rather too scanty, is a graceful costume, and at a little distance
appears to be a modest covering. Here it is worn very differently, and
without the slightest attempt at delicacy or grace, the drapery being
in itself insufficient, and rendered more offensive by the method of
its arrangement.

The Parsee women are, generally speaking, of fair complexions, with
small features, and a very sweet expression of countenance; many
of them are exceedingly pretty, and they all dress gracefully and
becomingly. Very respectable females of this class are to be seen
walking about, showing by their conduct that propriety of behaviour
does not consist in seclusion, or the concealment of the face.

There is an innate delicacy and refinement about Parsee women which
commands respect, and their value is known and acknowledged by
their male relatives, who treat them with a degree of deference and
consideration which is highly creditable to both parties. Though the
men are found in service in every European family, they do not allow
their wives and daughters to become domestics to foreigners, and they
are only permitted to become servants to their own people. The higher
classes of natives have adopted European equipages, and are the owners
of the handsomest carriages and horses in Bombay. Chariots, barouches,
britschkas, and buggies, appear in great numbers, filled with
Mohamedan, Hindu, or Parsee gentlemen. The less fashionable use the
palanquin carriage, common in Bengal, but which at this place is
called a _shigram_; these are often crammed full of servants and

Upon emerging from the bazaar, we enter upon the wide plain called the
Esplanade. To the left, across an extensive parade-ground, appears the
Fort, which is seen to the best advantage from this point; the walls
are low, and afford an ample view of a range of three-storied houses,
having verandahs all the way up, called Rampart Row, and from which
one or two very splendid mansions stand out conspicuously. To the
right, there is a whole encampment of tents, these canvas dwellings
being the sole refuge for the destitute. They may be hired in any
number and of every degree of elegance, none, however, quite reaching
to the refinements of Bengal, or being supplied with glass doors and
windows. Beyond the tents, and quite close to the beach, is the
space allotted for the temporary bungalows erected during the cold
season--singular places, which will be more fully described under the
head of Anglo-Indian residences. In front, and close to the warf or
bunder, are immense irregular piles of cotton in bales, which at a
distance appear like fortifications, and upon a nearer approach assume
somewhat of a picturesque air.

The Fort is surrounded on the land-side with a moat, and is entered
through some very shabby gateways. The interior of this extensive work
presents a busy, bustling scene; its numerous houses being arranged
with some degree of regularity in streets and open places. Those
who content themselves, however, with driving through the European
portion, will have very little idea of the true character of the
place. Rampart Row--the avenues leading into a large open space, in
which stand the cathedral, the town-hall, the mint, a cavalry
barrack, &c.--and the immediate environs, are composed of lofty,
well-constructed houses, some standing a little apart in courtyards,
and others with a narrow platform in front, ascended by steps, and
roofed by the story above. This, as I have previously stated, is the
general method of building in Bombay. These streets have somewhat of
an European, though not an English, air, but are for the most part
tenanted by natives, who may be seen at the windows of every floor,
and who apparently are better lodged, at least according to our idea,
than the same class in Calcutta. In this part of the Fort there
are several shops, or rather warehouses, for the sale of European
goods--dingy places, having a melancholy assortment of faded articles
in dim glass cases, freshness and variety in the merchandize depending
upon shipping arrivals.

Earthenware, glass, and cutlery, are abundant; but, altogether, there
is nothing at present to compare with the first-rate establishments of
Calcutta--such as Tulloh's, for instance--the whole style being dirty
and slovenly. A very civil native, named Muncherjee, who calls
himself a milliner, has, I am informed, very frequently well-chosen
investments to dispose of, but upon my visits I have seen nothing
wearable in the shape of bonnets and caps. An English milliner resides
in his neighbourhood, who possesses both skill and taste, and makes
up her silks and gauzes after the best French models; but necessarily,
perhaps, the purchases made at her rooms are rather expensive.

There is quite enough of bustle and animation in this quarter of the
Fort to engage the attention, but it seems silent and deserted when
compared with the crowd of the more exclusively native portions.
Here the streets literally swarm with life--men, women, children, and
bullocks, filling them almost to suffocation. Ranges of open shops
appear on each side, raised a foot or two from the ground, the
occupant being seated upon a ledge in front, in the midst of
his wares. Here, too, immense quantities of English glass and
crockery-ware are exhibited, which may be purchased at a much cheaper
rate than in shops styled, _par distinction_, European.

One or two opportunities offering for a visit to what is called the
China Bazaar, I gladly availed myself of them, and was much amused,
as the carriage made its slow way through the multitudes that thronged
the streets, to observe the employments of the people, buying,
selling, manufacturing their goods, or, for want of something else to
do, dragging little children in carts, which, by some contrivance, ran
back across the floor of the narrow apartment, and were then impelled
forward again by means of a string. This I found to be a favourite
occupation, and I never in any place saw more fondness manifested
towards children by their parents than in Bombay, or a greater desire
to associate them in all their amusements. At length, the carriage
stopped at a gateway, and upon alighting, I found myself in the midst
of a crowd of little children--an infant school, in fact, composed
indiscriminately of boys and girls. They were, generally speaking,
very pretty, and all well-dressed, many being adorned with very
handsome jewels.

The pedagogue--a Parsee, and rather a young man--with the barbarity
common to his class, was in the act of inflicting corporal punishment
upon a poor little creature, whom he beat upon the feet (ornamented,
by the way, with rich anclets) with a rod of split bamboo. I commanded
him to forbear, but speaking half in English and half in Hindustanee,
made myself better understood by look and gesture than by words. The
unhappy infant seemed to know that I interfered in its behalf, for
it gazed upon me with a piteous but grateful expression; it could not
have been more than three years old, and was really very pretty
and interesting in its tears. It was evidently the child of wealthy
parents, being dressed in a silk shirt embroidered and trimmed with
silver, a cap of the same upon its head, and numerous jewels besides.
The whole of the Lilliputian assembly uttered their lesson as I
passed, all raising their voices at the same time, and rendering it, I
imagine, rather difficult to determine whether each pupil repeated his
or her part correctly.

I would fain have lingered for a few minutes, but my attendants
officiously showing the way, I walked across a paved yard and up two
flights of steps to the shop of which I came in search, which was kept
by a good-looking Parsee. The trade of this person was designated
as that of a _bottlee wallah_, which being literally rendered means
'bottle-fellow,' but, according to a more free translation, a dealer
in glass, lamps, candlesticks, preserved meats in tin-cases, &c. &c.
I found a vast stock of the articles most in request in Indian
housekeeping, such as wall-shades, and all descriptions of earthen and
hard-ware, all of which he sold at very moderate prices, but having
executed the part of my commission which related to candlesticks, I
was unable to find the more _recherche_ articles of which I came in

I had been told that a great variety of ornamental china, the real
product of the Celestial Empire, was to be seen in the native shops
in Bombay. Though showy in appearance, this sort of china is of little
value, except to mark how much the manufacture has degenerated since
Europeans have learned to make their own teacups. I wished to obtain
a few specimens, but could not succeed. My friend, the bottlee wallah,
though very civil, could not afford me the information I required,
nor have I yet been able to obtain it. I have seen some handsome jars,
plates such as are used in England for the deposit of visitors' cards,
&c., which were purchased for a few annas, and have been told that
I might procure any quantity I pleased, but the where is still a

All the information obtainable in Bombay must be fished out in an
extraordinary manner, both natives and Europeans seeming to make it a
rule never to commit themselves by a direct reply to any question;
in every single instance, up to the present time, I have always, upon
making an inquiry, been referred to somebody else. Neither do I
find the same zeal manifested in the servants, which amounts to
officiousness on the other side of India. I have sent them to purchase
the china, but can get nothing but rubbish, knowing all the while that
there are plenty of a better description to be had.

Upon my return, the bottlee wallah accompanied me to the carriage in
waiting, and as I paused to notice some of the children in the school,
introduced me to a group of his own sons and daughters, well decked
out in jewels, and otherwise richly dressed. The instruction given at
these schools I understood to be merely oral, the repetition of a few
verses, intended rather to pass away the time and keep the children
out of mischief, than as a foundation of more useful studies. I
hope that the system will be improved, for the pupils seemed to be
extremely intelligent, and capable of better things.

Returning home, I passed several shops, in which the artizans of a
very beautiful manufacture, peculiar to Bombay, were at work. Desks,
dressing-cases, work-boxes, card-cases, ink-stands, and a variety of
other ornamental fancy articles, are made of sandal-wood, covered and
inlaid with ivory, ebony, and a material resembling silver. They copy
the best patterns, and produce exceedingly elegant appendages for
the drawing or dressing-room tables. A desk, handsomely fitted up and
lined with velvet, is sold for seven or eight pounds; large ink-stands
and blotting books for twenty rupees, and card-cases for six or eight.

It is impossible, while perambulating the Fort of Bombay, to avoid
a feeling of apprehension concerning a catastrophe, which sooner or
later seems certain to happen, and which nothing short of a miracle
appears to prevent from taking place every night; I mean the
destruction of the whole by fire. All the houses are constructed of
the most combustible materials, and the greater number belonging to
the native quarter are thatched. Though contrary to law, many of the
warehouses contain gunpowder, while the immense quantity of oil
and spirits stored up in them would render a conflagration, once
commenced, most fearful. Few or no precautions seem to be taken by the
natives against fire. There are lights burning in every room of every
house, fires are continually made outside, whence a single spark
might set the whole in flames; and added to these dangers, are the
prejudices of the great number of the inhabitants, whose religious
feelings would prevent them from making the slightest endeavour to
stay the progress of the element which they worship. Nor would the
destruction of property be the sole danger. It is terrible to think
of the fearful risk of life in a place in which escape would be so
difficult. The gates of the Fort are few in number, and of narrow
dimensions; a new one is now constructing, probably with some view
to an emergence of the kind. The natives, upon the occasion of its
proposal, evinced their readiness to assist in the execution of a plan
so advantageous to the place of their abode, and immediately advanced
half the sum which this necessary improvement would cost--namely,
thirty thousand rupees--which were subscribed and paid into the
treasury in the course of a week.

In 1803 or 1804, a very destructive conflagration actually took place
in the Fort of Bombay, and upon that occasion, in order to save the
castle, which did then, and does now, contain an immense quantity of
gunpowder, the authorities were obliged to bring out cannon to batter
down the surrounding houses, for the purpose of arresting the progress
of the flames. When the place was rebuilt, many salutary regulations
were made to prevent the recurrence of so great a calamity, and could
all the plans of Government have been accomplished, the danger which
now threatens Bombay would have been very considerably lessened; but
it was found impossible to carry out all the objects contemplated,
in consequence of the great value of the property which they would

The land within the walls of the Fort has become in a great measure
private property, and the convenience of its contiguity to the harbour
is so great, and the natives entertain so strong an idea of security
in a residence in a fortified place, however disqualified to resist
a hostile force, that nothing would prevail upon them to relinquish
their houses. The higher classes are well aware of the hazards they
incur, but, like the dwellers in the neighbourhood of a volcano, are
unwilling to quit a place endeared to them by long residence, though
they know not the hour in which they may be buried beneath its smoking
ruins. There are only a few Europeans who continue to inhabit the
Fort, but it must contain a very considerable portion of the property
of those merchants who have their offices and warehouses within its
walls. The British authorities have taken all the precautions in
their power, the fire-engines have been placed in a state of greater
efficiency than heretofore, while, should an extensive fire take
place, everything that European strength and skill could accomplish
would be attempted.

Amongst the various accidents to which houses in Bombay are subjected,
the one to be most apprehended, that of fire, is often brought about
by rats. They will carry off a lighted candle at every convenient
opportunity, setting fire to dwellings by this means. They have been
also known to upset tumblers containing oil, which is thus spread
abroad and likely to be ignited by the falling wick. It is, perhaps,
impossible totally to exterminate this race of vermin, which in the
Fort set cats completely at defiance, but something might be done to
keep the population down. I have been told that there are places in
the more crowded portion rendered perfectly impassable at night in
consequence of the effluvia arising from the immense quantities of
musk rats, which, together with the common sort, and bandicoots of an
incredible size, abound, the narrow close lanes being apparently
built for the purpose of affording accommodation to vermin of every
description. Nevertheless, some of the native houses of the Fort would
form very agreeable residences to persons accustomed to the utmost
refinement. Being exceedingly lofty, the upper apartments have the
advantage of every breeze that blows, while the views both of sea and
land are splendid.

The immense size of these houses, and the elegance of their
decorations, evince the spirit and wealth of their owners; they become
absolutely beacons at night, in consequence of the frequency and the
extent of their illuminations. Numerous are the occasions, either of
holidays or other rejoicings, in which the natives of Bombay light
up their houses; rows of lamps hung along the wide fronts of the
verandahs, upon every floor, produce a good effect, which is often
heightened by the flood of light poured out of apartments decorated
with chandeliers and lamps of every description.

In passing through the bazaar at night, every third or fourth house
is lit up upon some festive occasion; one favourite and very pretty
method consists of a number of small lamps, arranged to resemble
bunches of grapes, and hung up in the trees of a court-yard. Sometimes
in the evening, a sort of market is held in the native town beyond
the Esplanade, and every stall is profusely lighted; the hawkers,
who carry about their goods in a more humble way upon their heads in
baskets, have them stuck with candles, and the wild shadowy effects
produced, amid the quaint buildings thus partially lighted, afford a
continual phantasmagoria.

They must be destitute of imagination, indeed, who cannot find
pleasure in the contemplation of the night-scenes of Bombay, either
from its native crowds, or the delicious solitudes of its sylvan
shades. The ear is the only organ absolutely unblest in this sunny
island, the noises being incessant, and most discordant; the shrieking
of jackals by night is music compared to that from native instruments,
which, in the most remote places, are continually striking up:
the drums, trumpets, bells, and squeaking pipes, of a neighbouring
village, are now inflicting their torments upon my distracted brain
in the most barbarous manner possible. The exertions of the performers
never appear to relax, and by night or day, it is all the same; they
make themselves heard at any distance, parading along the roads for
the sole purpose, it should seem, of annoying the more peaceable
inhabitants. Certainly, the sister arts of music and painting have
yet to make their way in India, the taste for both being at present
perfectly barbarous.

The European bands, when playing on the Esplanade, attract a very
considerable number of natives; but whether congregated for the
purpose of listening to the music, or merely for the sake of
passing the time, seems very doubtful. A few, certainly, manifest
a predilection for "concord of sweet sounds," and no difficulty is
experienced by band-masters in recruiting their forces from natives,
the boys learning readily, and acquitting themselves very well
upon instruments foreign to the country. There is, however, no
manifestation at present of the spread of a refined taste, and many
years will probably elapse before any thing like good music will be
common in this part of Asia.

The great variety of religions extant in Bombay, each being
distinguished by numerous festivals, all celebrated in the same
manner--that is, by noise and illuminations--sufficiently accounts
for the perpetual recurrence of lamp-lighting and drumming in all
directions. Every week brings round the anniversary of some day of
rejoicing of the Mohamedans, Hindus, Parsees, Jews, Roman Catholics,
or Armenians, and Bombay may therefore be said to present one
universal holiday. Passing the other evening one of the handsomest
pagodas in the island, an oblong square building of yellow stone,
with a mitre-shaped tower at one end, I was surprised by the number
of European carriages in waiting. The exterior had all the air of
a Christian church, the situation beautiful, a platform of rock
overlooking the sea; and I could not help indulging the hope, that the
substitution of chariots and buggies for palanquins and _rhuts_ would
lead to the introduction of a purer and better creed.


* * * * *


* * * * *

Bombay the rising Presidency--Probability of its becoming the Seat of
Government--The Anglo-Indian Society of Bombay--Style of Living--The
Gardens inferior to those of Bengal--Interiors of the Houses more
embellished--Absence of Glass-windows an evil--The Bungalows--The
Encamping-ground--Facility and despatch of a change of
residence--Visit to a tent entertainment--Inconveniences attending a
residence in tents--Want of Hotels and Boarding-houses--Deficiency of
public Amusements in Bombay--Lectures and _Conversaziones_ suggested,
as means of bringing the native community into more frequent
intercourse with Europeans--English spoken by the superior classes
of natives--Natives form a very large portion of the wealth and
intelligence of Bombay--Nothing approaching the idea of a City to be
seen--The climate more salubrious than that of Bengal--Wind blows hot
and cold at the same time--Convenience a stranger finds in so many
domestic servants speaking English--Their peculiar mode of speaking
it--Dress of servants--Their wages--The Cooks--Improved by Lord
Clare--Appointments of the tables--The Ramoosee Watchmen--Their
vociferations during the night--Fidelity of the natives--Controversy
concerning their disregard of truth.

Comparisons are so frequently both unfair and invidious, that I had

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