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

Part 3 out of 4


It took an hour or more to get our little caravan into marching
order, to accommodate all the packs to the horses, the horses to
the riders; to see the ladies comfortably placed in their litter,
with a sleek and large black mule fore and aft, a groom to each
mule, and a tall and exceedingly good-natured and mahogany-coloured
infidel to walk by the side of the carriage, to balance it as it
swayed to and fro, and to offer his back as a step to the inmates
whenever they were minded to ascend or alight. These three
fellows, fasting through the Ramazan, and over as rough a road, for
the greater part, as ever shook mortal bones, performed their
fourteen hours' walk of near forty miles with the most admirable
courage, alacrity, and good-humour. They once or twice drank water
on the march, and so far infringed the rule; but they refused all
bread or edible refreshment offered to them, and tugged on with an
energy that the best camel, and I am sure the best Christian, might
envy. What a lesson of good-humoured endurance it was to certain
Pall Mall Sardanapaluses, who grumble if club sofa cushions are not
soft enough!

If I could write sonnets at leisure, I would like to chronicle in
fourteen lines my sensations on finding myself on a high Turkish
saddle, with a pair of fire-shovel stirrups and worsted reins, red
padded saddle-cloth, and innumerable tags, fringes, glass-beads,
ends of rope, to decorate the harness of the horse, the gallant
steed on which I was about to gallop into Syrian life. What a
figure we cut in the moonlight, and how they would have stared in
the Strand! Ay, or in Leicestershire, where I warrant such a horse
and rider are not often visible! The shovel stirrups are deucedly
short; the clumsy leathers cut the shins of some equestrians
abominably; you sit over your horse as it were on a tower, from
which the descent would be very easy, but for the big peak of the
saddle. A good way for the inexperienced is to put a stick or
umbrella across the saddle peak again, so that it is next to
impossible to go over your horse's neck. I found this a vast
comfort in going down the hills, and recommend it conscientiously
to other dear simple brethren of the city.

Peaceful men, we did not ornament our girdles with pistols,
yataghans, &c., such as some pilgrims appeared to bristle all over
with; and as a lesson to such rash people, a story may be told
which was narrated to us at Jerusalem, and carries a wholesome
moral. The Honourable Hoggin Armer, who was lately travelling in
the East, wore about his stomach two brace of pistols, of such
exquisite finish and make, that a Sheikh, in the Jericho country,
robbed him merely for the sake of the pistols. I don't know
whether he has told the story to his friends at home.

Another story about Sheikhs may here be told a propos. That
celebrated Irish Peer, Lord Oldgent (who was distinguished in the
Buckinghamshire Dragoons), having paid a sort of black mail to the
Sheikh of Jericho country, was suddenly set upon by another Sheikh,
who claimed to be the real Jerichonian governor; and these twins
quarrelled over the body of Lord Oldgent, as the widows for the
innocent baby before Solomon. There was enough for both--but these
digressions are interminable.

The party got under way at near four o'clock: the ladies in the
litter, the French femme-de-chambre manfully caracoling on a grey
horse; the cavaliers, like your humble servant, on their high
saddles; the domestics, flunkeys, guides, and grooms, on all sorts
of animals,--some fourteen in all. Add to these, two most grave
and stately Arabs in white beards, white turbans, white haicks and
raiments; sabres curling round their military thighs, and immense
long guns at their backs. More venerable warriors I never saw;
they went by the side of the litter soberly prancing. When we
emerged from the steep clattering streets of the city into the grey
plains, lighted by the moon and starlight, these militaries rode
onward, leading the way through the huge avenues of strange
diabolical-looking prickly pears (plants that look as if they had
grown in Tartarus), by which the first mile or two of route from
the city is bounded; and as the dawn arose before us, exhibiting
first a streak of grey, then of green, then of red in the sky, it
was fine to see these martial figures defined against the rising
light. The sight of that little cavalcade, and of the nature
around it, will always remain with me, I think, as one of the
freshest and most delightful sensations I have enjoyed since the
day I first saw Calais pier. It was full day when they gave their
horses a drink at a large pretty Oriental fountain, and then
presently we entered the open plain--the famous plain of Sharon--so
fruitful in roses once, now hardly cultivated, but always beautiful
and noble.

Here presently, in the distance, we saw another cavalcade pricking
over the plain. Our two white warriors spread to the right and
left, and galloped to reconnoitre. We, too, put our steeds to the
canter, and handling our umbrellas as Richard did his lance against
Saladin, went undaunted to challenge this caravan. The fact is, we
could distinguish that it was formed of the party of our pious
friends the Poles, and we hailed them with cheerful shouting, and
presently the two caravans joined company, and scoured the plain at
the rate of near four miles per hour. The horse-master, a courier
of this company, rode three miles for our one. He was a broken-
nosed Arab, with pistols, a sabre, a fusee, a yellow Damascus cloth
flapping over his head, and his nose ornamented with diachylon. He
rode a hog-necked grey Arab, bristling over with harness, and
jumped, and whirled, and reared, and halted, to the admiration of

Scarce had the diachylonian Arab finished his evolutions, when lo!
yet another cloud of dust was seen, and another party of armed and
glittering horsemen appeared. They, too, were led by an Arab, who
was followed by two janissaries, with silver maces shining in the
sun. 'Twas the party of the new American Consul-General of Syria
and Jerusalem, hastening to that city, with the inferior consuls of
Ramleh and Jaffa to escort him. He expects to see the Millennium
in three years, and has accepted the office of consul at Jerusalem,
so as to be on the spot in readiness.

When the diachylon Arab saw the American Arab, he straightway
galloped his steed towards him, took his pipe, which he delivered
at his adversary in guise of a jereed, and galloped round and
round, and in and out, and there and back again, as in a play of
war. The American replied in a similar playful ferocity--the two
warriors made a little tournament for us there on the plains before
Jaffa, in the which diachylon, being a little worsted, challenged
his adversary to a race, and fled away on his grey, the American
following on his bay. Here poor sticking-plaster was again
worsted, the Yankee contemptuously riding round him, and then
declining further exercise.

What more could mortal man want? A troop of knights and paladins
could have done no more. In no page of Walter Scott have I read a
scene more fair and sparkling. The sober warriors of our escort
did not join in the gambols of the young men. There they rode
soberly, in their white turbans, by their ladies' litter, their
long guns rising up behind them.

There was no lack of company along the road: donkeys numberless,
camels by twos and threes; now a mule-driver, trudging along the
road, chanting a most queer melody; now a lady, in white veil,
black mask, and yellow papooshes, bestriding her ass, and followed
by her husband,--met us on the way; and most people gave a
salutation. Presently we saw Ramleh, in a smoking mist, on the
plain before us, flanked to the right by a tall lonely tower, that
might have held the bells of some moutier of Caen or Evreux. As we
entered, about three hours and a half after starting, among the
white domes and stone houses of the little town, we passed the
place of tombs. Two women were sitting on one of them,--the one
bending her head towards the stone, and rocking to and fro, and
moaning out a very sweet pitiful lamentation. The American consul
invited us to breakfast at the house of his subaltern, the
hospitable one-eyed Armenian, who represents the United States at
Jaffa. The stars and stripes were flaunting over his terraces, to
which we ascended, leaving our horses to the care of a multitude of
roaring ragged Arabs beneath, who took charge of and fed the
animals, though I can't say in the least why; but, in the same way
as getting off my horse on entering Jerusalem, I gave the rein into
the hand of the first person near me, and have never heard of the
worthy brute since. At the American consul's we were served first
with rice soup in pishpash, flavoured with cinnamon and spice; then
with boiled mutton, then with stewed ditto and tomatoes; then with
fowls swimming in grease; then with brown ragouts belaboured with
onions; then with a smoking pilaff of rice: several of which
dishes I can pronounce to be of excellent material and flavour.
When the gentry had concluded this repast, it was handed to a side
table, where the commonalty speedily discussed it. We left them
licking their fingers as we hastened away upon the second part of
the ride.

And as we quitted Ramleh, the scenery lost that sweet and peaceful
look which characterises the pretty plain we had traversed; and the
sun, too, rising in the heaven, dissipated all those fresh
beautiful tints in which God's world is clothed of early morning,
and which city people have so seldom the chance of beholding. The
plain over which we rode looked yellow and gloomy; the cultivation
little or none; the land across the roadside fringed, for the most
part, with straggling wild-carrot plants; a patch of green only
here and there. We passed several herds of lean, small, well-
conditioned cattle: many flocks of black goats, tended now and
then by a ragged negro shepherd, his long gun slung over his back,
his hand over his eyes to shade them as he stared at our little
cavalcade. Most of the half-naked countryfolks we met had this
dismal appendage to Eastern rustic life; and the weapon could
hardly be one of mere defence, for, beyond the faded skull-cap, or
tattered coat of blue or dirty white, the brawny, brown-chested,
solemn-looking fellows had nothing seemingly to guard. As before,
there was no lack of travellers on the road: more donkeys trotted
by, looking sleek and strong; camels singly and by pairs, laden
with a little humble ragged merchandise, on their way between the
two towns. About noon we halted eagerly at a short distance from
an Arab village and well, where all were glad of a drink of fresh
water. A village of beavers, or a colony of ants, make habitations
not unlike these dismal huts piled together on the plain here.
There were no single huts along the whole line of road; poor and
wretched as they are, the Fellahs huddle all together for
protection from the other thieves their neighbours. The government
(which we restored to them) has no power to protect them, and is
only strong enough to rob them. The women, with their long blue
gowns and ragged veils, came to and fro with pitchers on their
heads. Rebecca had such an one when she brought drink to the
lieutenant of Abraham. The boys came staring round, bawling after
us with their fathers for the inevitable backsheesh. The village
dogs barked round the flocks, as they were driven to water or

We saw a gloomy, not very lofty-looking ridge of hills in front of
us; the highest of which the guide pointing out to us, told us that
from it we should see Jerusalem. It looked very near, and we all
set up a trot of enthusiasm to get into this hill country.

But that burst of enthusiasm (it may have carried us nearly a
quarter of a mile in three minutes) was soon destined to be checked
by the disagreeable nature of the country we had to traverse.
Before we got to the real mountain district, we were in a manner
prepared for it, by the mounting and descent of several lonely
outlying hills, up and down which our rough stony track wound.
Then we entered the hill district, and our path lay through the
clattering bed of an ancient stream, whose brawling waters have
rolled away into the past, along with the fierce and turbulent race
who once inhabited these savage hills. There may have been
cultivation here two thousand years ago. The mountains, or huge
stony mounds environing this rough path, have level ridges all the
way up to their summits; on these parallel ledges there is still
some verdure and soil: when water flowed here, and the country was
thronged with that extraordinary population, which, according to
the Sacred Histories, was crowded into the region, these mountain
steps may have been gardens and vineyards, such as we see now
thriving along the hills of the Rhine. Now the district is quite
deserted, and you ride among what seem to be so many petrified
waterfalls. We saw no animals moving among the stony brakes;
scarcely even a dozen little birds in the whole course of the ride.
The sparrows are all at Jerusalem, among the housetops, where their
ceaseless chirping and twittering forms the most cheerful sound of
the place.

The company of Poles, the company of Oxford men, and the little
American army, travelled too quick for our caravan, which was made
to follow the slow progress of the ladies' litter, and we had to
make the journey through the mountains in a very small number. Not
one of our party had a single weapon more dreadful than an
umbrella: and a couple of Arabs, wickedly inclined, might have
brought us all to the halt, and rifled every carpet-bag and pocket
belonging to us. Nor can I say that we journeyed without certain
qualms of fear. When swarthy fellows, with girdles full of pistols
and yataghans, passed us without unslinging their long guns--when
scowling camel-riders, with awful long bending lances, decorated
with tufts of rags, or savage plumes of scarlet feathers, went by
without molestation--I think we were rather glad that they did not
stop and parley: for, after all, a British lion with an umbrella
is no match for an Arab with his infernal long gun. What, too,
would have become of our women? So we tried to think that it was
entirely out of anxiety for them that we were inclined to push on.

There is a shady resting-place and village in the midst of the
mountain district where the travellers are accustomed to halt for
an hour's repose and refreshment; and the other caravans were just
quitting this spot, having enjoyed its cool shades and waters, when
we came up. Should we stop? Regard for the ladies (of course no
other earthly consideration) made us say, "No!" What admirable
self-denial and chivalrous devotion! So our poor devils of mules
and horses got no rest and no water, our panting litter-men no
breathing time, and we staggered desperately after the procession
ahead of us. It wound up the mountain in front of us: the Poles
with their guns and attendants, the American with his janissaries;
fifty or sixty all riding slowly like the procession in

But alas, they headed us very soon; when we got up the weary hill
they were all out of sight. Perhaps thoughts of Fleet Street did
cross the minds of some of us then, and a vague desire to see a few
policemen. The district now seemed peopled, and with an ugly race.
Savage personages peered at us out of huts, and grim holes in the
rocks. The mules began to loiter most abominably--water the
muleteers must have--and, behold, we came to a pleasant-looking
village of trees standing on a hill; children were shaking figs
from the trees--women were going about--before us was the mosque of
a holy man--the village, looking like a collection of little forts,
rose up on the hill to our right, with a long view of the fields
and gardens stretching from it, and camels arriving with their
burdens. Here we must stop; Paolo, the chief servant, knew the
Sheikh of the village--he very good man--give him water and supper-
-water very good here--in fact we began to think of the propriety
of halting here for the night, and making our entry into Jerusalem
on the next day.

A man on a handsome horse dressed in red came prancing up to us,
looking hard at the ladies in the litter, and passed away. Then
two others sauntered up, one handsome, and dressed in red too, and
he stared into the litter without ceremony, began to play with a
little dog that lay there, asked if we were Inglees, and was
answered by me in the affirmative. Paolo had brought the water,
the most delicious draught in the world. The gentlefolks had had
some, the poor muleteers were longing for it. The French maid, the
courageous Victoire (never since the days of Joan of Arc has there
surely been a more gallant and virtuous female of France) refused
the drink; when suddenly a servant of the party scampers up to his
master and says: "Abou Gosh says the ladies must get out and show
themselves to the women of the village!"

It was Abou Gosh himself, the redoubted robber Sheikh about whom we
had been laughing and crying "Wolf!" all day. Never was seen such
a skurry! "March!" was the instant order given. When Victoire
heard who it was and the message, you should have seen how she
changed countenance; trembling for her virtue in the ferocious
clutches of a Gosh. "Un verre d'eau pour l'amour de Dieu!" gasped
she, and was ready to faint on her saddle. "Ne buvez plus,
Victoire!" screamed a little fellow of our party. "Push on, push
on!" cried one and all. "What's the matter?" exclaimed the ladies
in the litter, as they saw themselves suddenly jogging on again.
But we took care not to tell them what had been the designs of the
redoubtable Abou Gosh. Away then we went--Victoire was saved--and
her mistresses rescued from dangers they knew not of, until they
were a long way out of the village.

Did he intend insult or good will? Did Victoire escape the odious
chance of becoming Madame Abou Gosh? Or did the mountain chief
simply propose to be hospitable after his fashion? I think the
latter was his desire; if the former had been his wish, a half-
dozen of his long guns could have been up with us in a minute, and
had all our party at their mercy. But now, for the sake of the
mere excitement, the incident was, I am sorry to say, rather a
pleasant one than otherwise: especially for a traveller who is in
the happy condition of being able to sing before robbers, as is the
case with the writer of the present.

A little way out of the land of Goshen we came upon a long stretch
of gardens and vineyards, slanting towards the setting sun, which
illuminated numberless golden clusters of the most delicious
grapes, of which we stopped and partook. Such grapes were never
before tasted; water so fresh as that which a countryman fetched
for us from a well never sluiced parched throats before. It was
the ride, the sun, and above all Abou Gosh, who made that
refreshment so sweet, and hereby I offer him my best thanks.
Presently, in the midst of a most diabolical ravine, down which our
horses went sliding, we heard the evening gun: it was fired from
Jerusalem. The twilight is brief in this country, and in a few
minutes the landscape was grey round about us, and the sky lighted
up by a hundred thousand stars, which made the night beautiful.

Under this superb canopy we rode for a couple of hours to our
journey's end. The mountains round about us dark, lonely, and sad;
the landscape as we saw it at night (it is not more cheerful in the
daytime), the most solemn and forlorn I have ever seen. The
feelings of almost terror with which, riding through the night, we
approached this awful place, the centre of the world's past and
future history, have no need to be noted down here. The
recollection of those sensations must remain with a man as long as
his memory lasts; and he should think of them as often, perhaps, as
he should talk of them little.


The ladies of our party found excellent quarters in readiness for
them at the Greek convent in the city; where airy rooms, and
plentiful meals, and wines and sweet-meats delicate and abundant,
were provided to cheer them after the fatigues of their journey. I
don't know whether the worthy fathers of the convent share in the
good things which they lavish on their guests; but they look as if
they do. Those whom we saw bore every sign of easy conscience and
good living; there were a pair of strong, rosy, greasy, lazy lay-
brothers, dawdling in the sun on the convent terrace, or peering
over the parapet into the street below, whose looks gave one a
notion of anything but asceticism.

In the principal room of the strangers' house (the lay traveller is
not admitted to dwell in the sacred interior of the convent), and
over the building, the Russian double-headed eagle is displayed.
The place is under the patronage of the Emperor Nicholas; an
Imperial Prince has stayed in these rooms; the Russian consul
performs a great part in the city; and a considerable annual
stipend is given by the Emperor towards the maintenance of the
great establishment in Jerusalem. The Great Chapel of the Church
of the Holy Sepulchre is by far the richest, in point of furniture,
of all the places of worship under that roof. We were in Russia,
when we came to visit our friends here; under the protection of the
Father of the Church and the Imperial Eagle! This butcher and
tyrant, who sits on his throne only through the crime of those who
held it before him--every step in whose pedigree is stained by some
horrible mark of murder, parricide, adultery--this padded and
whiskered pontiff--who rules in his jack-boots over a system of
spies and soldiers, of deceit, ignorance, dissoluteness, and brute
force, such as surely the history of the world never told of
before--has a tender interest in the welfare of his spiritual
children: in the Eastern Church ranks after Divinity, and is
worshipped by millions of men. A pious exemplar of Christianity
truly! and of the condition to which its union with politics has
brought it! Think of the rank to which he pretends, and gravely
believes that he possesses, no doubt!--think of those who assumed
the same ultra-sacred character before him!--and then of the Bible
and the Founder of the Religion, of which the Emperor assumes to be
the chief priest and defender!

We had some Poles of our party; but these poor fellows went to the
Latin convent, declining to worship after the Emperor's fashion.
The next night after our arrival, two of them passed in the
Sepulchre. There we saw them, more than once on subsequent visits,
kneeling in the Latin Church before the pictures, or marching
solemnly with candles in processions, or lying flat on the stones,
or passionately kissing the spots which their traditions have
consecrated as the authentic places of the Saviour's sufferings.
More honest or more civilised, or from opposition, the Latin
fathers have long given up and disowned the disgusting mummery of
the Eastern Fire--which lie the Greeks continue annually to tell.

Their travellers' house and convent, though large and commodious,
are of a much poorer and shabbier condition than those of the
Greeks. Both make believe not to take money; but the traveller is
expected to pay in each. The Latin fathers enlarge their means by
a little harmless trade in beads and crosses, and mother-of-pearl
shells, on which figures of saints are engraved; and which they
purchase from the manufacturers, and vend at a small profit. The
English, until of late, used to be quartered in these sham inns;
but last year two or three Maltese took houses for the reception of
tourists, who can now be accommodated with cleanly and comfortable
board, at a rate not too heavy for most pockets.

To one of these we went very gladly; giving our horses the bridle
at the door, which went off of their own will to their stables,
through the dark inextricable labyrinths of streets, archways, and
alleys, which we had threaded after leaving the main street from
the Jaffa Gate. There, there was still some life. Numbers of
persons were collected at their doors, or smoking before the dingy
coffee-houses, where singing and story-telling were going on; but
out of this great street everything was silent, and no sign of a
light from the windows of the low houses which we passed.

We ascended from a lower floor up to a terrace, on which were
several little domed chambers, or pavilions. From this terrace,
whence we looked in the morning, a great part of the city spread
before us:- white domes upon domes, and terraces of the same
character as our own. Here and there, from among these whitewashed
mounds round about, a minaret rose, or a rare date-tree; but the
chief part of the vegetation near was that odious tree the prickly
pear,--one huge green wart growing out of another, armed with
spikes, as inhospitable as the aloe, without shelter or beauty. To
the right the Mosque of Omar rose; the rising sun behind it.
Yonder steep tortuous lane before us, flanked by ruined walls on
either side, has borne, time out of mind, the title of Via
Dolorosa; and tradition has fixed the spots where the Saviour
rested, bearing his cross to Calvary. But of the mountain, rising
immediately in front of us, a few grey olive-trees speckling the
yellow side here and there, there can be no question. That is the
Mount of Olives. Bethany lies beyond it. The most sacred eyes
that ever looked on this world have gazed on those ridges: it was
there He used to walk and teach. With shame and humility one looks
towards the spot where that inexpressible Love and Benevolence
lived and breathed; where the great yearning heart of the Saviour
interceded for all our race; and whence the bigots and traitors of
his day led Him away to kill Him!

That company of Jews whom we had brought with us from
Constantinople, and who had cursed every delay on the route, not
from impatience to view the Holy City, but from rage at being
obliged to purchase dear provisions for their maintenance on ship-
board, made what bargains they best could at Jaffa, and journeyed
to the Valley of Jehoshaphat at the cheapest rate. We saw the tall
form of the old Polish Patriarch, venerable in filth, stalking
among the stinking ruins of the Jewish quarter. The sly old Rabbi,
in the greasy folding hat, who would not pay to shelter his
children from the storm off Beyrout, greeted us in the bazaars; the
younger Rabbis were furbished up with some smartness. We met them
on Sunday at the kind of promenade by the walls of the Bethlehem
Gate; they were in company of some red-bearded co-religionists,
smartly attired in Eastern raiment; but their voice was the voice
of the Jews of Berlin, and of course as we passed they were talking
about so many hundert thaler. You may track one of the people, and
be sure to hear mention of that silver calf that they worship.

The English mission has been very unsuccessful with these
religionists. I don't believe the Episcopal apparatus--the
chaplains, and the colleges, and the beadles--have succeeded in
converting a dozen of them; and a sort of martyrdom is in store for
the luckless Hebrews at Jerusalem who shall secede from their
faith. Their old community spurn them with horror; and I heard of
the case of one unfortunate man, whose wife, in spite of her
husband's change of creed, being resolved, like a true woman, to
cleave to him, was spirited away from him in his absence; was kept
in privacy in the city, in spite of all exertions of the mission,
of the consul and the bishop, and the chaplains and the beadles;
was passed away from Jerusalem to Beyrout, and thence to
Constantinople; and from Constantinople was whisked off into the
Russian territories, where she still pines after her husband. May
that unhappy convert find consolation away from her. I could not
help thinking, as my informant, an excellent and accomplished
gentleman of the mission, told me the story, that the Jews had done
only what the Christians do under the same circumstances. The
woman was the daughter of a most learned Rabbi, as I gathered.
Suppose the daughter of the Rabbi of Exeter, or Canterbury, were to
marry a man who turned Jew, would not her Right Reverend Father be
justified in taking her out of the power of a person likely to hurl
her soul to perdition? These poor converts should surely be sent
away to England out of the way of persecution. We could not but
feel a pity for them, as they sat there on their benches in the
church conspicuous; and thought of the scorn and contumely which
attended them without, as they passed, in their European dresses
and shaven beards, among their grisly, scowling, long-robed

As elsewhere in the towns I have seen, the Ghetto of Jerusalem is
pre-eminent in filth. The people are gathered round about the
dung-gate of the city. Of a Friday you may hear their wailings and
lamentations for the lost glories of their city. I think the
Valley of Jehoshaphat is the most ghastly sight I have seen in the
world. From all quarters they come hither to bury their dead.
When his time is come yonder hoary old miser, with whom we made our
voyage, will lay his carcase to rest here. To do that, and to claw
together money, has been the purpose of that strange long life.

We brought with us one of the gentlemen of the mission, a Hebrew
convert, the Rev. Mr. E-; and lest I should be supposed to speak
with disrespect above of any of the converts of the Hebrew faith,
let me mention this gentleman as the only one whom I had the
fortune to meet on terms of intimacy. I never saw a man whose
outward conduct was more touching, whose sincerity was more
evident, and whose religious feeling seemed more deep, real, and

Only a few feet off, the walls of the Anglican Church of Jerusalem
rise up from their foundations on a picturesque open spot, in front
of the Bethlehem Gate. The English Bishop has his church hard by:
and near it is the house where the Christians of our denomination
assemble and worship.

There seem to be polyglot services here. I saw books of prayer, or
Scripture, in Hebrew, Greek, and German: in which latter language
Dr. Alexander preaches every Sunday. A gentleman who sat near me
at church used all these books indifferently; reading the first
lesson from the Hebrew book, and the second from the Greek. Here
we all assembled on the Sunday after our arrival: it was affecting
to hear the music and language of our country sounding in this
distant place; to have the decent and manly ceremonial of our
service; the prayers delivered in that noble language. Even that
stout anti-prelatist, the American consul, who has left his house
and fortune in America in order to witness the coming of the
Millennium, who believes it to be so near that he has brought a
dove with him from his native land (which bird he solemnly informed
us was to survive the expected Advent), was affected by the good
old words and service. He swayed about and moaned in his place at
various passages; during the sermon he gave especial marks of
sympathy and approbation. I never heard the service more
excellently and impressively read than by the Bishop's chaplain,
Mr. Veitch. But it was the music that was most touching I
thought,--the sweet old songs of home.

There was a considerable company assembled: near a hundred people
I should think. Our party made a large addition to the usual
congregation. The Bishop's family is proverbially numerous: the
consul, and the gentlemen of the mission, have wives, and children,
and English establishments. These, and the strangers, occupied
places down the room, to the right and left of the desk and
communion-table. The converts, and the members of the college, in
rather a scanty number, faced the officiating clergyman; before
whom the silver maces of the janissaries were set up, as they set
up the beadles' maces in England.

I made many walks round the city to Olivet and Bethany, to the
tombs of the kings, and the fountains sacred in story. These are
green and fresh, but all the rest of the landscape seemed to me to
be FRIGHTFUL. Parched mountains, with a grey bleak olive-tree
trembling here and there; savage ravines and valleys, paved with
tombstones--a landscape unspeakably ghastly and desolate, meet the
eye wherever you wander round about the city. The place seems
quite adapted to the events which are recorded in the Hebrew
histories. It and they, as it seems to me, can never be regarded
without terror. Fear and blood, crime and punishment, follow from
page to page in frightful succession. There is not a spot at which
you look, but some violent deed has been done there: some massacre
has been committed, some victim has been murdered, some idol has
been worshipped with bloody and dreadful rites. Not far from hence
is the place where the Jewish conqueror fought for the possession
of Jerusalem. "The sun stood still, and hasted not to go down
about a whole day;" so that the Jews might have daylight to destroy
the Amorites, whose iniquities were full, and whose land they were
about to occupy. The fugitive heathen king, and his allies, were
discovered in their hiding-place, and hanged: "and the children of
Judah smote Jerusalem with the edge of the sword, and set the city
on fire; and they left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all
that breathed."

I went out at the Zion Gate, and looked at the so-called tomb of
David. I had been reading all the morning in the Psalms, and his
history in Samuel and Kings. "Bring thou down Shimei's hoar head
to the grave with blood," are the last words of the dying monarch
as recorded by the history. What they call the tomb is now a
crumbling old mosque; from which Jew and Christian are excluded
alike. As I saw it, blazing in the sunshine, with the purple sky
behind it, the glare only served to mark the surrounding desolation
more clearly. The lonely walls and towers of the city rose hard
by. Dreary mountains, and declivities of naked stones, were round
about: they are burrowed with holes in which Christian hermits
lived and died. You see one green place far down in the valley:
it is called En Rogel. Adonijah feasted there, who was killed by
his brother Solomon, for asking for Abishag for wife. The Valley
of Hinnom skirts the hill: the dismal ravine was a fruitful garden
once. Ahaz, and the idolatrous kings, sacrificed to idols under
the green trees there, and "caused their children to pass through
the fire." On the mountain opposite, Solomon, with the thousand
women of his harem, worshipped the gods of all their nations,
"Ashtoreth," and "Milcom, and Molech, the abomination of the
Ammonites." An enormous charnel-house stands on the hill where the
bodies of dead pilgrims used to be thrown; and common belief has
fixed upon this spot as the Aceldama, which Judas purchased with
the price of his treason. Thus you go on from one gloomy place to
another, each seared with its bloody tradition. Yonder is the
Temple, and you think of Titus's soldiery storming its flaming
porches, and entering the city, in the savage defence of which two
million human souls perished. It was on Mount Zion that Godfrey
and Tancred had their camp: when the Crusaders entered the mosque,
they rode knee-deep in the blood of its defenders, and of the women
and children who had fled thither for refuge: it was the victory
of Joshua over again. Then, after three days of butchery, they
purified the desecrated mosque and went to prayer. In the centre
of this history of crime rises up the Great Murder of all . . .

I need say no more about this gloomy landscape. After a man has
seen it once, he never forgets it--the recollection of it seems to
me to follow him like a remorse, as it were to implicate him in the
awful deed which was done there. Oh! with what unspeakable shame
and terror should one think of that crime, and prostrate himself
before the image of that Divine Blessed Sufferer!

Of course the first visit of the traveller is to the famous Church
of the Sepulchre.

In the archway, leading from the street to the court and church,
there is a little bazaar of Bethlehemites, who must interfere
considerably with the commerce of the Latin fathers. These men
bawl to you from their stalls, and hold up for your purchase their
devotional baubles,--bushels of rosaries and scented beads, and
carved mother-of-pearl shells, and rude stone salt-cellars and
figures. Now that inns are established--envoys of these pedlars
attend them on the arrival of strangers, squat all day on the
terraces before your door, and patiently entreat you to buy of
their goods. Some worthies there are who drive a good trade by
tattooing pilgrims with the five crosses, the arms of Jerusalem;
under which the name of the city is punctured in Hebrew, with the
auspicious year of the Hadji's visit. Several of our fellow-
travellers submitted to this queer operation, and will carry to
their grave this relic of their journey. Some of them had engaged
as servant a man at Beyrout, who had served as a lad on board an
English ship in the Mediterranean. Above his tattooage of the five
crosses, the fellow had a picture of two hearts united, and the
pathetic motto, "Betsy my dear." He had parted with Betsy my dear
five years before at Malta. He had known a little English there,
but had forgotten it. Betsy my dear was forgotten too. Only her
name remained engraved with a vain simulacrum of constancy on the
faithless rogue's skin: on which was now printed another token of
equally effectual devotion. The beads and the tattooing, however,
seem essential ceremonies attendant on the Christian pilgrim's
visit; for many hundreds of years, doubtless, the palmers have
carried off with them these simple reminiscences of the sacred
city. That symbol has been engraven upon the arms of how many
Princes, Knights, and Crusaders! Don't you see a moral as
applicable to them as to the swindling Beyrout horseboy? I have
brought you back that cheap and wholesome apologue, in lieu of any
of the Bethlehemite shells and beads.

After passing through the porch of the pedlars, you come to the
courtyard in front of the noble old towers of the Church of the
Sepulchre, with pointed arches and Gothic traceries, rude, but rich
and picturesque in design. Here crowds are waiting in the sun,
until it shall please the Turkish guardians of the church-door to
open. A swarm of beggars sit here permanently: old tattered hags
with long veils, ragged children, blind old bearded beggars, who
raise up a chorus of prayers for money, holding out their wooden
bowls, or clattering with their sticks on the stones, or pulling
your coat-skirts and moaning and whining; yonder sit a group of
coal-black Coptish pilgrims, with robes and turbans of dark blue,
fumbling their perpetual beads. A party of Arab Christians have
come up from their tents or villages: the men half-naked, looking
as if they were beggars, or banditti, upon occasion; the women have
flung their head-cloths back, and are looking at the strangers
under their tattooed eyebrows. As for the strangers, there is no
need to describe THEM: that figure of the Englishman, with his
hands in his pockets, has been seen all the world over: staring
down the crater of Vesuvius, or into a Hottentot kraal--or at a
pyramid, or a Parisian coffee-house, or an Esquimaux hut--with the
same insolent calmness of demeanour. When the gates of the church
are open, he elbows in among the first, and flings a few scornful
piastres to the Turkish door-keeper; and gazes round easily at the
place, in which people of every other nation in the world are in
tears, or in rapture, or wonder. He has never seen the place until
now, and looks as indifferent as the Turkish guardian who sits in
the doorway, and swears at the people as they pour in.

Indeed, I believe it is impossible for us to comprehend the source
and nature of the Roman Catholic devotion. I once went into a
church at Rome at the request of a Catholic friend, who described
the interior to be so beautiful and glorious, that he thought (he
said) it must be like heaven itself. I found walls hung with cheap
stripes of pink and white calico, altars covered with artificial
flowers, a number of wax candles, and plenty of gilt-paper
ornaments. The place seemed to me like a shabby theatre; and here
was my friend on his knees at my side, plunged in a rapture of
wonder and devotion.

I could get no better impression out of this the most famous church
in the world. The deceits are too open and flagrant; the
inconsistencies and contrivances too monstrous. It is hard even to
sympathise with persons who receive them as genuine; and though (as
I know and saw in the case of my friend at Rome) the believer's
life may be passed in the purest exercise of faith and charity, it
is difficult even to give him credit for honesty, so barefaced seem
the impostures which he professes to believe and reverence. It
costs one no small effort even to admit the possibility of a
Catholic's credulity: to share in his rapture and devotion is
still further out of your power; and I could get from this church
no other emotions but those of shame and pain.

The legends with which the Greeks and Latins have garnished the
spot have no more sacredness for you than the hideous, unreal,
barbaric pictures and ornaments which they have lavished on it.
Look at the fervour with which pilgrims kiss and weep over a tawdry
Gothic painting, scarcely better fashioned than an idol in a South
Sea Morai. The histories which they are called upon to reverence
are of the same period and order,--savage Gothic caricatures. In
either a saint appears in the costume of the middle ages, and is
made to accommodate himself to the fashion of the tenth century.

The different churches battle for the possession of the various
relics. The Greeks show you the Tomb of Melchisedec, while the
Armenians possess the Chapel of the Penitent Thief; the poor Copts
(with their little cabin of a chapel) can yet boast of possessing
the thicket in which Abraham caught the Ram, which was to serve as
the vicar of Isaac; the Latins point out the Pillar to which the
Lord was bound. The place of the Invention of the Sacred Cross,
the Fissure in the Rock of Golgotha, the Tomb of Adam himself--are
all here within a few yards' space. You mount a few steps, and are
told it is Calvary upon which you stand. All this in the midst of
blaring candles, reeking incense, savage pictures of Scripture
story, or portraits of kings who have been benefactors to the
various chapels; a din and clatter of strange people,--these
weeping, bowing, kissing,--those utterly indifferent; and the
priests clad in outlandish robes, snuffling and chanting
incomprehensible litanies, robing, disrobing, lighting up candles
or extinguishing them, advancing, retreating, bowing with all sorts
of unfamiliar genuflexions. Had it pleased the inventors of the
Sepulchre topography to have fixed on fifty more spots of ground as
the places of the events of the sacred story, the pilgrim would
have believed just as now. The priest's authority has so mastered
his faith, that it accommodates itself to any demand upon it; and
the English stranger looks on the scene, for the first time, with a
feeling of scorn, bewilderment, and shame at that grovelling
credulity, those strange rites and ceremonies, that almost
confessed imposture.

Jarred and distracted by these, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre,
for some time, seems to an Englishman the least sacred spot about
Jerusalem. It is the lies, and the legends, and the priests, and
their quarrels, and their ceremonies, which keep the Holy Place out
of sight. A man has not leisure to view it, for the brawling of
the guardians of the spot. The Roman conquerors, they say, raised
up a statue of Venus in this sacred place, intending to destroy all
memory of it. I don't think the heathen was as criminal as the
Christian is now. To deny and disbelieve, is not so bad as to make
belief a ground to cheat upon. The liar Ananias perished for that;
and yet out of these gates, where angels may have kept watch--out
of the tomb of Christ--Christian priests issue with a lie in their
hands. What a place to choose for imposture, good God! to sully
with brutal struggles for self-aggrandisement or shameful schemes
of gain!

The situation of the Tomb (into which, be it authentic or not, no
man can enter without a shock of breathless fear, and deep and
awful self-humiliation) must have struck all travellers. It stands
in the centre of the arched rotunda, which is common to all
denominations, and from which branch off the various chapels
belonging to each particular sect. In the Coptic chapel I saw one
coal-black Copt, in blue robes, cowering in the little cabin,
surrounded by dingy lamps, barbarous pictures, and cheap faded
trumpery. In the Latin Church there was no service going on, only
two fathers dusting the mouldy gewgaws along the brown walls, and
laughing to one another. The gorgeous church of the Fire
impostors, hard by, was always more fully attended; as was that of
their wealthy neighbours, the Armenians. These three main sects
hate each other; their quarrels are interminable; each bribes and
intrigues with the heathen lords of the soil, to the prejudice of
his neighbour. Now it is the Latins who interfere, and allow the
common church to go to ruin, because the Greeks purpose to roof it;
now the Greeks demolish a monastery on Mount Olivet, and leave the
ground to the Turks, rather than allow the Armenians to possess it.
On another occasion, the Greeks having mended the Armenian steps
which lead to the (so-called) Cave of the Nativity at Bethlehem,
the latter asked for permission to destroy the work of the Greeks,
and did so. And so round this sacred spot, the centre of
Christendom, the representatives of the three great sects worship
under one roof, and hate each other!

Above the Tomb of the Saviour, the cupola is OPEN, and you see the
blue sky overhead. Which of the builders was it that had the grace
to leave that under the high protection of Heaven, and not confine
it under the mouldering old domes and roofs, which cover so much
selfishness, and uncharitableness, and imposture?

We went to Bethlehem, too; and saw the apocryphal wonders there.

Five miles' ride brings you from Jerusalem to it, over naked wavy
hills; the aspect of which, however, grows more cheerful as you
approach the famous village. We passed the Convent of Mar Elyas on
the road, walled and barred like a fort. In spite of its strength,
however, it has more than once been stormed by the Arabs, and the
luckless fathers within put to death. Hard by was Rebecca's Well:
a dead body was lying there, and crowds of male and female mourners
dancing and howling round it. Now and then a little troop of
savage scowling horsemen--a shepherd driving his black sheep, his
gun over his shoulder--a troop of camels--or of women, with long
blue robes and white veils, bearing pitchers, and staring at the
strangers with their great solemn eyes--or a company of labourers,
with their donkeys, bearing grain or grapes to the city,--met us
and enlivened the little ride. It was a busy and cheerful scene.
The Church of the Nativity, with the adjoining convents, forms a
vast and noble Christian structure. A party of travellers were
going to the Jordan that day, and scores of their followers--of the
robbing Arabs, who profess to protect them (magnificent figures
some of them, with flowing haicks and turbans, with long guns and
scimitars, and wretched horses, covered with gaudy trappings), were
standing on the broad pavement before the little convent gate. It
was such a scene as Cattermole might paint. Knights and Crusaders
may have witnessed a similar one. You could fancy them issuing out
of the narrow little portal, and so greeted by the swarms of
swarthy clamorous women and merchants and children.

The scene within the building was of the same Gothic character. We
were entertained by the Superior of the Greek Convent, in a fine
refectory, with ceremonies and hospitalities that pilgrims of the
middle ages might have witnessed. We were shown over the
magnificent Barbaric Church, visited of course the Grotto where the
Blessed Nativity is said to have taken place, and the rest of the
idols set up for worship by the clumsy legend. When the visit was
concluded, the party going to the Dead Sea filed off with their
armed attendants; each individual traveller making as brave a show
as he could, and personally accoutred with warlike swords and
pistols. The picturesque crowds, and the Arabs and the horsemen,
in the sunshine; the noble old convent, and the grey-bearded
priests, with their feast; and the church, and its pictures and
columns, and incense; the wide brown hills spreading round the
village; with the accidents of the road,--flocks and shepherds,
wells and funerals, and camel-trains,--have left on my mind a
brilliant, romantic, and cheerful picture. But you, dear M-,
without visiting the place, have imagined one far finer; and
Bethlehem, where the Holy Child was born, and the angels sang,
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill
towards men," is the most sacred and beautiful spot in the earth to

By far the most comfortable quarters in Jerusalem are those of the
Armenians, in their convent of St. James. Wherever we have been,
these Eastern quakers look grave, and jolly, and sleek. Their
convent at Mount Zion is big enough to contain two or three
thousand of their faithful; and their church is ornamented by the
most rich and hideous gifts ever devised by uncouth piety. Instead
of a bell, the fat monks of the convent beat huge noises on a
board, and drub the faithful in to prayers. I never saw men more
lazy and rosy than these reverend fathers, kneeling in their
comfortable matted church, or sitting in easy devotion. Pictures,
images, gilding, tinsel, wax candles, twinkle all over the place;
and ten thousand ostrichs' eggs (or any lesser number you may
allot) dangle from the vaulted ceiling. There were great numbers
of people at worship in this gorgeous church: they went on their
knees, kissing the walls with much fervour, and paying reverence to
the most precious relic of the convent,--the chair of St. James,
their patron, the first Bishop of Jerusalem.

The chair pointed out with greatest pride in the church of the
Latin Convent, is that shabby red damask one appropriated to the
French Consul,--the representative of the King of that nation,--and
the protection which it has from time immemorial accorded to the
Christians of the Latin rite in Syria. All French writers and
travellers speak of this protection with delightful complacency.
Consult the French books of travel on the subject, and any
Frenchman whom you may meet: he says, "La France, Monsieur, de
tous les temps protege les Chretiens d'Orient;" and the little
fellow looks round the church with a sweep of the arm, and protects
it accordingly. It is bon ton for them to go in processions; and
you see them on such errands, marching with long candles, as
gravely as may be. But I have never been able to edify myself with
their devotion; and the religious outpourings of Lamartine and
Chateaubriand, which we have all been reading a propos of the
journey we are to make, have inspired me with an emotion anything
but respectful. "Voyez comme M. de Chateaubriand prie Dieu," the
Viscount's eloquence seems always to say. There is a sanctified
grimace about the little French pilgrim which it is very difficult
to contemplate gravely.

The pictures, images, and ornaments of the principal Latin convent
are quite mean and poor, compared to the wealth of the Armenians.
The convent is spacious, but squalid. Many hopping and crawling
plagues are said to attack the skins of pilgrims who sleep there.
It is laid out in courts and galleries, the mouldy doors of which
are decorated with twopenny pictures of favourite saints and
martyrs; and so great is the shabbiness and laziness, that you
might fancy yourself in a convent in Italy. Brown-clad fathers,
dirty, bearded, and sallow, go gliding about the corridors. The
relic manufactory before mentioned carries on a considerable
business, and despatches bales of shells, crosses, and beads to
believers in Europe. These constitute the chief revenue of the
convent now. La France is no longer the most Christian kingdom,
and her protection of the Latins is not good for much since Charles
X. was expelled; and Spain, which used likewise to be generous on
occasions (the gifts, arms, candlesticks, baldaquins of the Spanish
sovereigns figure pretty frequently in the various Latin chapels),
has been stingy since the late disturbances, the spoliation of the
clergy, &c. After we had been taken to see the humble curiosities
of the place, the Prior treated us in his wooden parlour with
little glasses of pink Rosolio, brought with many bows and
genuflexions by his reverence the convent butler.

After this community of holy men, the most important perhaps is the
American Convent, a Protestant congregation of Independents
chiefly, who deliver tracts, propose to make converts, have
meetings of their own, and also swell the little congregation that
attends the Anglican service. I have mentioned our fellow-
traveller, the Consul-General for Syria of the United States. He
was a tradesman, who had made a considerable fortune, and lived at
a country-house in comfortable retirement. But his opinion is,
that the prophecies of Scripture are about to be accomplished; that
the day of the return of the Jews is at hand, and the glorification
of the restored Jerusalem. He is to witness this--he and a
favourite dove with which he travels; and he forsook home and
comfortable country-house, in order to make this journey. He has
no other knowledge of Syria but what he derives from the prophecy;
and this (as he takes the office gratis) has been considered a
sufficient reason for his appointment by the United States
Government. As soon as he arrived, he sent and demanded an
interview with the Pasha; explained to him his interpretation of
the Apocalypse, in which he has discovered that the Five Powers and
America are about to intervene in Syrian affairs, and the
infallible return of the Jews to Palestine. The news must have
astonished the Lieutenant of the Sublime Porte; and since the days
of the Kingdom of Munster, under his Anabaptist Majesty, John of
Leyden, I doubt whether any Government has received or appointed so
queer an ambassador. The kind, worthy, simple man took me to his
temporary consulate-house at the American Missionary Establishment;
and, under pretence of treating me to white wine, expounded his
ideas; talked of futurity as he would about an article in The
Times; and had no more doubt of seeing a divine kingdom established
in Jerusalem than you that there would be a levee next spring at
St. James's. The little room in which we sat was padded with
missionary tracts, but I heard of scarce any converts--not more
than are made by our own Episcopal establishment.

But if the latter's religious victories are small, and very few
people are induced by the American tracts, and the English
preaching and catechising, to forsake their own manner of
worshipping the Divine Being in order to follow ours; yet surely
our religious colony of men and women can't fail to do good, by the
sheer force of good example, pure life, and kind offices. The
ladies of the mission have numbers of clients, of all persuasions,
in the town, to whom they extend their charities. Each of their
houses is a model of neatness, and a dispensary of gentle
kindnesses; and the ecclesiastics have formed a modest centre of
civilisation in the place. A dreary joke was made in the House of
Commons about Bishop Alexander and the Bishopess his lady, and the
Bishoplings his numerous children, who were said to have
scandalised the people of Jerusalem. That sneer evidently came
from the Latins and Greeks; for what could the Jews and Turks care
because an English clergyman had a wife and children as their own
priests have? There was no sort of ill will exhibited towards
them, as far as I could learn; and I saw the Bishop's children
riding about the town as safely as they could about Hyde Park. All
Europeans, indeed, seemed to me to be received with forbearance,
and almost courtesy, within the walls. As I was going about making
sketches, the people would look on very good-humouredly, without
offering the least interruption; nay, two or three were quite ready
to stand still for such an humble portrait as my pencil could make
of them; and the sketch done, it was passed from one person to
another, each making his comments, and signifying a very polite
approval. Here are a pair of them, {2} Fath Allah and Ameenut
Daoodee his father, horse-dealers by trade, who came and sat with
us at the inn, and smoked pipes (the sun being down), while the
original of the above masterpiece was made. With the Arabs outside
the walls, however, and the freshly arriving country people, this
politeness was not so much exhibited. There was a certain tattooed
girl, with black eyes and huge silver earrings, and a chin
delicately picked out with blue, who formed one of a group of women
outside the great convent, whose likeness I longed to carry off;--
there was a woman with a little child, with wondering eyes, drawing
water at the Pool of Siloam, in such an attitude and dress as
Rebecca may have had when Isaac's lieutenant asked her for drink:-
both of these parties standing still for half a minute, at the next
cried out for backsheesh: and not content with the five piastres
which I gave them individually, screamed out for more, and summoned
their friends, who screamed out backsheesh too. I was pursued into
the convent by a dozen howling women calling for pay, barring the
door against them, to the astonishment of the worthy papa who kept
it; and at Miriam's Well the women were joined by a man with a
large stick, who backed their petition. But him we could afford to
laugh at, for we were two and had sticks likewise.

In the village of Siloam I would not recommend the artist to
loiter. A colony of ruffians inhabit the dismal place, who have
guns as well as sticks at need. Their dogs howl after the
strangers as they pass through; and over the parapets of their
walls you are saluted by the scowls of a villanous set of
countenances, that it is not good to see with one pair of eyes.
They shot a man at mid-day at a few hundred yards from the gates
while we were at Jerusalem, and no notice was taken of the murder.
Hordes of Arab robbers infest the neighbourhood of the city, with
the Sheikhs of whom travellers make terms when minded to pursue
their journey. I never could understand why the walls stopped
these warriors if they had a mind to plunder the city, for there
are but a hundred and fifty men in the garrison to man the long
lonely lines of defence.

I have seen only in Titian's pictures those magnificent purple
shadows in which the hills round about lay, as the dawn rose
faintly behind them; and we looked at Olivet for the last time from
our terrace, where we were awaiting the arrival of the horses that
were to carry us to Jaffa. A yellow moon was still blazing in the
midst of countless brilliant stars overhead; the nakedness and
misery of the surrounding city were hidden in that beautiful rosy
atmosphere of mingling night and dawn. The city never looked so
noble; the mosques, domes, and minarets rising up into the calm
star-lit sky.

By the gate of Bethlehem there stands one palm-tree, and a house
with three domes. Put these and the huge old Gothic gate as a
background dark against the yellowing eastern sky: the foreground
is a deep grey: as you look into it dark forms of horsemen come
out of the twilight: now there come lanterns, more horsemen, a
litter with mules, a crowd of Arab horseboys and dealers
accompanying their beasts to the gate; all the members of our party
come up by twos and threes; and, at last, the great gate opens just
before sunrise, and we get into the grey plains.

Oh! the luxury of an English saddle! An English servant of one of
the gentlemen of the mission procured it for me, on the back of a
little mare, which (as I am a light weight) did not turn a hair in
the course of the day's march--and after we got quit of the ugly,
stony, clattering, mountainous Abou Gosh district, into the fair
undulating plain, which stretches to Ramleh, carried me into the
town at a pleasant hand-gallop. A negro, of preternatural
ugliness, in a yellow gown, with a crimson handkerchief streaming
over his head, digging his shovel spurs into the lean animal he
rode, and driving three others before--swaying backwards and
forwards on his horse, now embracing his ears, and now almost under
his belly, screaming "yallah" with the most frightful shrieks, and
singing country songs--galloped along ahead of me. I acquired one
of his poems pretty well, and could imitate his shriek accurately;
but I shall not have the pleasure of singing it to you in England.
I had forgotten the delightful dissonance two days after, both the
negro's and that of a real Arab minstrel, a donkey-driver
accompanying our baggage, who sang and grinned with the most
amusing good-humour.

We halted, in the middle of the day, in a little wood of olive-
trees, which forms almost the only shelter between Jaffa and
Jerusalem, except that afforded by the orchards in the odious
village of Abou Gosh, through which we went at a double quick pace.
Under the olives, or up in the branches, some of our friends took a
siesta. I have a sketch of four of them so employed. Two of them
were dead within a month of the fatal Syrian fever. But we did not
know how near fate was to us then. Fires were lighted, and fowls
and eggs divided, and tea and coffee served round in tin panikins,
and here we lighted pipes, and smoked and laughed at our ease. I
believe everybody was happy to be out of Jerusalem. The impression
I have of it now is of ten days passed in a fever.

We all found quarters in the Greek convent at Ramleh, where the
monks served us a supper on a terrace, in a pleasant sunset; a
beautiful and cheerful landscape stretching around; the land in
graceful undulations, the towers and mosques rosy in the sunset,
with no lack of verdure, especially of graceful palms. Jaffa was
nine miles off. As we rode all the morning we had been accompanied
by the smoke of our steamer, twenty miles off at sea.

The convent is a huge caravanserai; only three or four monks dwell
in it, the ghostly hotel-keepers of the place. The horses were
tied up and fed in the courtyard, into which we rode; above were
the living-rooms, where there is accommodation, not only for an
unlimited number of pilgrims, but for a vast and innumerable host
of hopping and crawling things, who usually persist in partaking of
the traveller's bed. Let all thin-skinned travellers in the East
be warned on no account to travel without the admirable invention
described in Mr. Fellowes's book; nay, possibly invented by that
enterprising and learned traveller. You make a sack, of calico or
linen, big enough for the body, appended to which is a closed
chimney of muslin, stretched out by cane hoops, and fastened up to
a beam, or against the wall. You keep a sharp eye to see that no
flea or bug is on the look-out, and when assured of this, you pop
into the bag, tightly closing the orifice after you. This
admirable bug-disappointer I tried at Ramleh, and had the only
undisturbed night's rest I enjoyed in the East. To be sure it was
a short night, for our party were stirring at one o'clock, and
those who got up insisted on talking and keeping awake those who
inclined to sleep. But I shall never forget the terror inspired in
my mind, being shut up in the bug-disappointer, when a facetious
lay-brother of the convent fell upon me and began tickling me. I
never had the courage again to try the anti-flea contrivance,
preferring the friskiness of those animals to the sports of such a
greasy grinning wag as my friend at Ramleh.

In the morning, and long before sunrise, our little caravan was in
marching order again. We went out with lanterns and shouts of
"yallah" through the narrow streets, and issued into the plain,
where, though there was no moon, there were blazing stars shining
steadily overhead. They become friends to a man who travels,
especially under the clear Eastern sky; whence they look down as if
protecting you, solemn, yellow, and refulgent. They seem nearer to
you than in Europe; larger and more awful. So we rode on till the
dawn rose, and Jaffa came in view. The friendly ship was lying out
in waiting for us; the horses were given up to their owners; and in
the midst of a crowd of naked beggars, and a perfect storm of
curses and yells for backsheesh, our party got into their boats,
and to the ship, where we were welcomed by the very best captain
that ever sailed upon this maritime globe, namely, Captain Samuel
Lewis, of the Peninsular and Oriental Company's Service.


[From the Providor's Log-book.]

Bill of Fare, October 12th.

Mulligatawny Soup.
Salt Fish and Egg Sauce.
Roast Haunch of Mutton.
Boiled Shoulder and Onion Sauce.
Boiled Beef.
Roast Fowls.
Pillau ditto.
Haricot Mutton.
Curry and Rice.

French Beans.
Boiled Potatoes.
Baked ditto.
Damson Tart. Rice Puddings.
Currant ditto. Currant Fritters.

We were just at the port's mouth--and could see the towers and
buildings of Alexandria rising purple against the sunset, when the
report of a gun came booming over the calm golden water; and we
heard, with much mortification, that we had no chance of getting
pratique that night. Already the ungrateful passengers had begun
to tire of the ship,--though in our absence in Syria it had been
carefully cleansed and purified; though it was cleared of the
swarming Jews who had infested the decks all the way from
Constantinople; and though we had been feasting and carousing in
the manner described above.

But very early next morning we bore into the harbour, busy with a
great quantity of craft. We passed huge black hulks of mouldering
men-of-war, from the sterns of which trailed the dirty red flag,
with the star and crescent; boats, manned with red-capped seamen,
and captains and steersmen in beards and tarbooshes, passed
continually among these old hulks, the rowers bending to their
oars, so that at each stroke they disappeared bodily in the boat.
Besides these, there was a large fleet of country ships, and stars
and stripes, and tricolours, and Union Jacks; and many active
steamers, of the French and English companies, shooting in and out
of the harbour, or moored in the briny waters. The ship of our
company, the "Oriental," lay there--a palace upon the brine, and
some of the Pasha's steam-vessels likewise, looking very like
Christian boats; but it was queer to look at some unintelligible
Turkish flourish painted on the stern, and the long-tailed Arabian
hieroglyphics gilt on the paddle-boxes. Our dear friend and
comrade of Beyrout (if we may be permitted to call her so), H.M.S.
"Trump," was in the harbour; and the captain of that gallant ship,
coming to greet us, drove some of us on shore in his gig.

I had been preparing myself overnight, by the help of a cigar and a
moonlight contemplation on deck, for sensations on landing in
Egypt. I was ready to yield myself up with solemnity to the mystic
grandeur of the scene of initiation. Pompey's Pillar must stand
like a mountain, in a yellow plain, surrounded by a grove of
obelisks as tall as palm-trees. Placid sphinxes brooding o'er the
Nile--mighty Memnonian countenances calm--had revealed Egypt to me
in a sonnet of Tennyson's, and I was ready to gaze on it with
pyramidal wonder and hieroglyphic awe.

The landing quay at Alexandria is like the dockyard quay at
Portsmouth: with a few score of brown faces scattered among the
population. There are slop-sellers, dealers in marine-stores,
bottled-porter shops, seamen lolling about; flys and cabs are
plying for hire; and a yelling chorus of donkey-boys, shrieking,
"Ride, sir!--Donkey, sir!--I say, sir!" in excellent English,
dispel all romantic notions. The placid sphinxes brooding o'er the
Nile disappeared with that shriek of the donkey-boys. You might be
as well impressed with Wapping as with your first step on Egyptian

The riding of a donkey is, after all, not a dignified occupation.
A man resists the offer at first, somehow, as an indignity. How is
that poor little, red-saddled, long-eared creature to carry you?
Is there to be one for you, and another for your legs? Natives and
Europeans, of all sizes, pass by, it is true, mounted upon the same
contrivance. I waited until I got into a very private spot, where
nobody could see me, and then ascended--why not say descended, at
once?--on the poor little animal. Instead of being crushed at
once, as perhaps the rider expected, it darted forward, quite
briskly and cheerfully, at six or seven miles an hour; requiring no
spur or admonitive to haste, except the shrieking of the little
Egyptian gamin, who ran along by asinus's side.

The character of the houses by which you pass is scarcely Eastern
at all. The streets are busy with a motley population of Jews and
Armenians, slave-driving-looking Europeans, large-breeched Greeks,
and well-shaven buxom merchants, looking as trim and fat as those
on the Bourse or on 'Change; only, among the natives, the stranger
can't fail to remark (as the Caliph did of the Calenders in the
"Arabian Nights") that so many of them HAVE ONLY ONE EYE. It is
the horrid ophthalmia which has played such frightful ravages with
them. You see children sitting in the doorways, their eyes
completely closed up with the green sickening sore, and the flies
feeding on them. Five or six minutes of the donkey-ride brings you
to the Frank quarter, and the handsome broad street (like a street
of Marseilles) where the principal hotels and merchants' houses are
to be found, and where the consuls have their houses, and hoist
their flags. The palace of the French Consul-General makes the
grandest show in the street, and presents a great contrast to the
humble abode of the English representative, who protects his
fellow-countrymen from a second floor.

But that Alexandrian two-pair-front of a Consulate was more welcome
and cheering than a palace to most of us. For there lay certain
letters, with post-marks of HOME upon them; and kindly tidings, the
first heard for two months:- though we had seen so many men and
cities since, that Cornhill seemed to be a year off, at least, with
certain persons dwelling (more or less) in that vicinity. I saw a
young Oxford man seize his despatches, and slink off with several
letters, written in a tight neat hand, and sedulously crossed;
which any man could see, without looking farther, were the
handiwork of Mary Ann, to whom he is attached. The lawyer received
a bundle from his chambers, in which his clerk eased his soul
regarding the state of Snooks v. Rodgers, Smith ats Tomkins, &c.
The statesman had a packet of thick envelopes, decorated with that
profusion of sealing-wax in which official recklessness lavishes
the resources of the country: and your humble servant got just one
little modest letter, containing another, written in pencil
characters, varying in size between one and two inches; but how
much pleasanter to read than my Lord's despatch, or the clerk's
account of Smith ats Tomkins,--yes, even than the Mary Ann
correspondence! . . . Yes, my dear madam, you will understand me,
when I say that it was from little Polly at home, with some
confidential news about a cat, and the last report of her new doll.

It is worth while to have made the journey for this pleasure: to
have walked the deck on long nights, and have thought of home. You
have no leisure to do so in the city. You don't see the heavens
shine above you so purely there, or the stars so clearly. How,
after the perusal of the above documents, we enjoyed a file of the
admirable Galignani; and what O'Connell was doing; and the twelve
last new victories of the French in Algeria; and, above all, six or
seven numbers of Punch! There might have been an avenue of
Pompey's Pillars within reach, and a live sphinx sporting on the
banks of the Mahmoodieh Canal, and we would not have stirred to see
them, until Punch had had his interview and Galignani was

The curiosities of Alexandria are few, and easily seen. We went
into the bazaars, which have a much more Eastern look than the
European quarter, with its Anglo-Gallic-Italian inhabitants, and
Babel-like civilisation. Here and there a large hotel, clumsy and
whitewashed, with Oriental trellised windows, and a couple of
slouching sentinels at the doors, in the ugliest composite uniform
that ever was seen, was pointed out as the residence of some great
officer of the Pasha's Court, or of one of the numerous children of
the Egyptian Solomon. His Highness was in his own palace, and was
consequently not visible. He was in deep grief, and strict
retirement. It was at this time that the European newspapers
announced that he was about to resign his empire; but the quidnuncs
of Alexandria hinted that a love-affair, in which the old potentate
had engaged with senile extravagance, and the effects of a potion
of hachisch, or some deleterious drug, with which he was in the
habit of intoxicating himself, had brought on that languor and
desperate weariness of life and governing, into which the venerable
Prince was plunged. Before three days were over, however, the fit
had left him, and he determined to live and reign a little longer.
A very few days afterwards several of our party were presented to
him at Cairo, and found the great Egyptian ruler perfectly

This, and the Opera, and the quarrels of the two prime donne, and
the beauty of one of them, formed the chief subjects of
conversation; and I had this important news in the shop of a
certain barber in the town, who conveyed it in a language composed
of French, Spanish, and Italian, and with a volubility quite worthy
of a barber of "Gil Blas."

Then we went to see the famous obelisk presented by Mehemet Ali to
the British Government, who have not shown a particular alacrity to
accept this ponderous present. The huge shaft lies on the ground,
prostrate, and desecrated by all sorts of abominations. Children
were sprawling about, attracted by the dirt there. Arabs, negroes,
and donkey-boys were passing, quite indifferent, by the fallen
monster of a stone--as indifferent as the British Government, who
don't care for recording the glorious termination of their Egyptian
campaign of 1801. If our country takes the compliment so coolly,
surely it would be disloyal upon our parts to be more enthusiastic.
I wish they would offer the Trafalgar Square Pillar to the
Egyptians; and that both of the huge ugly monsters were lying in
the dirt there side by side.

Pompey's Pillar is by no means so big as the Charing Cross trophy.
This venerable column has not escaped ill-treatment either.
Numberless ships' companies, travelling cockneys, &c., have affixed
their rude marks upon it. Some daring ruffian even painted the
name of "Warren's blacking" upon it, effacing other inscriptions,--
one, Wilkinson says, of "the second Psammetichus." I regret
deeply, my dear friend, that I cannot give you this document
respecting a lamented monarch, in whose history I know you take
such an interest.

The best sight I saw in Alexandria was a negro holiday; which was
celebrated outside of the town by a sort of negro village of huts,
swarming with old, lean, fat, ugly, infantine, happy faces, that
nature had smeared with a preparation even more black and durable
than that with which Psammetichus's base has been polished. Every
one of these jolly faces was on the broad grin, from the dusky
mother to the india-rubber child sprawling upon her back, and the
venerable jetty senior whose wool was as white as that of a sheep
in Florian's pastorals.

To these dancers a couple of fellows were playing on a drum and a
little banjo. They were singing a chorus, which was not only
singular, and perfectly marked in the rhythm, but exceeding sweet
in the tune. They danced in a circle; and performers came trooping
from all quarters, who fell into the round, and began waggling
their heads, and waving their left hands, and tossing up and down
the little thin rods which they each carried, and all singing to
the very best of their power.

I saw the chief eunuch of the Grand Turk at Constantinople pass by-
-(here is an accurate likeness of his beautiful features {2})--but
with what a different expression! Though he is one of the greatest
of the great in the Turkish Empire (ranking with a Cabinet Minister
or Lord Chamberlain here), his fine countenance was clouded with
care, and savage with ennui.

Here his black brethren were ragged, starving, and happy; and I
need not tell such a fine moralist as you are, how it is the case,
in the white as well as the black world, that happiness (republican
leveller, who does not care a fig for the fashion) often disdains
the turrets of kings, to pay a visit to the "tabernas pauperum."

We went the round of the coffee-houses in the evening, both the
polite European places of resort, where you get ices and the French
papers, and those in the town, where Greeks, Turks, and general
company resort, to sit upon uncomfortable chairs, and drink
wretched muddy coffee, and to listen to two or three miserable
musicians, who keep up a variation of howling for hours together.
But the pretty song of the niggers had spoiled me for that
abominable music.


We had no need of hiring the country boats which ply on the
Mahmoodieh Canal to Atfeh, where it joins the Nile, but were
accommodated in one of the Peninsular and Oriental Company's fly-
boats; pretty similar to those narrow Irish canal boats in which
the enterprising traveller has been carried from Dublin to
Ballinasloe. The present boat was, to be sure, tugged by a little
steamer, so that the Egyptian canal is ahead of the Irish in so
far: in natural scenery, the one prospect is fully equal to the
other; it must be confessed that there is nothing to see. In
truth, there was nothing but this: you saw a muddy bank on each
side of you, and a blue sky overhead. A few round mud-huts and
palm-trees were planted along the line here and there. Sometimes
we would see, on the water-side, a woman in a blue robe, with her
son by her, in that tight brown costume with which Nature had
supplied him. Now, it was a hat dropped by one of the party into
the water; a brown Arab plunged and disappeared incontinently after
the hat, re-issued from the muddy water, prize in hand, and ran
naked after the little steamer (which was by this time far ahead of
him), his brawny limbs shining in the sun: then we had half-cold
fowls and bitter ale: then we had dinner--bitter ale and cold
fowls; with which incidents the day on the canal passed away, as
harmlessly as if we had been in a Dutch trackschuyt.

Towards evening we arrived at the town of Atfeh--half land, half
houses, half palm-trees, with swarms of half-naked people crowding
the rustic shady bazaars, and bartering their produce of fruit or
many-coloured grain. Here the canal came to a check, ending
abruptly with a large lock. A little fleet of masts and country
ships were beyond the lock, and it led into THE NILE.

After all, it is something to have seen these red waters. It is
only low green banks, mud-huts, and palm-clumps, with the sun
setting red behind them, and the great, dull, sinuous river
flashing here and there in the light. But it is the Nile, the old
Saturn of a stream--a divinity yet, though younger river-gods have
deposed him. Hail! O venerable father of crocodiles! We were all
lost in sentiments of the profoundest awe and respect; which we
proved by tumbling down into the cabin of the Nile steamer that was
waiting to receive us, and fighting and cheating for sleeping-

At dawn in the morning we were on deck; the character had not
altered of the scenery about the river. Vast flat stretches of
land were on either side, recovering from the subsiding
inundations: near the mud villages, a country ship or two was
roosting under the date-trees; the landscape everywhere stretching
away level and lonely. In the sky in the east was a long streak of
greenish light, which widened and rose until it grew to be of an
opal colour, then orange; then, behold, the round red disc of the
sun rose flaming up above the horizon. All the water blushed as he
got up; the deck was all red; the steersman gave his helm to
another, and prostrated himself on the deck, and bowed his head
eastward, and praised the Maker of the sun: it shone on his white
turban as he was kneeling, and gilt up his bronzed face, and sent
his blue shadow over the glowing deck. The distances, which had
been grey, were now clothed in purple; and the broad stream was
illuminated. As the sun rose higher, the morning blush faded away;
the sky was cloudless and pale, and the river and the surrounding
landscape were dazzlingly clear.

Looking ahead in an hour or two, we saw the Pyramids. Fancy my
sensations, dear M -: two big ones and a little one -

! ! !

There they lay, rosy and solemn in the distance--those old,
majestical, mystical, familiar edifices. Several of us tried to be
impressed; but breakfast supervening, a rush was made at the coffee
and cold pies, and the sentiment of awe was lost in the scramble
for victuals.

Are we so blases of the world that the greatest marvels in it do
not succeed in moving us? Have society, Pall Mall clubs, and a
habit of sneering, so withered up our organs of veneration that we
can admire no more? My sensation with regard to the Pyramids was,
that I had seen them before: then came a feeling of shame that the
view of them should awaken no respect. Then I wanted (naturally)
to see whether my neighbours were any more enthusiastic than
myself--Trinity College, Oxford, was busy with the cold ham:
Downing Street was particularly attentive to a bunch of grapes:
Figtree Court behaved with decent propriety; he is in good
practice, and of a Conservative turn of mind, which leads him to
respect from principle les faits accomplis: perhaps he remembered
that one of them was as big as Lincoln's Inn Fields. But, the
truth is, nobody was seriously moved . . . And why should they,
because of an exaggeration of bricks ever so enormous? I confess,
for my part, that the Pyramids are very big.

After a voyage of about thirty hours, the steamer brought up at the
quay of Boulak, amidst a small fleet of dirty comfortless cangias,
in which cottons and merchandise were loading and unloading, and a
huge noise and bustle on the shore. Numerous villas, parks, and
country-houses had begun to decorate the Cairo bank of the stream
ere this: residences of the Pasha's nobles, who have had orders to
take their pleasure here and beautify the precincts of the capital;
tall factory chimneys also rise here; there are foundries and
steam-engine manufactories. These, and the pleasure-houses, stand
as trim as soldiers on parade; contrasting with the swarming,
slovenly, close, tumble-down, Eastern old town, that forms the
outport of Cairo, and was built before the importation of European
taste and discipline.

Here we alighted upon donkeys, to the full as brisk as those of
Alexandria, invaluable to timid riders, and equal to any weight.
We had a Jerusalem pony race into Cairo; my animal beating all the
rest by many lengths. The entrance to the capital, from Boulak, is
very pleasant and picturesque--over a fair road, and the wide-
planted plain of the Ezbekieh; where are gardens, canals, fields,
and avenues of trees, and where the great ones of the town come and
take their pleasure. We saw many barouches driving about with fat
Pashas lolling on the cushions; stately-looking colonels and
doctors taking their ride, followed by their orderlies or footmen;
lines of people taking pipes and sherbet in the coffee-houses; and
one of the pleasantest sights of all,--a fine new white building
with HOTEL D'ORIENT written up in huge French characters, and
which, indeed, is an establishment as large and comfortable as most
of the best inns of the South of France. As a hundred Christian
people, or more, come from England and from India every fortnight,
this inn has been built to accommodate a large proportion of them;
and twice a month, at least, its sixty rooms are full.

The gardens from the windows give a very pleasant and animated
view: the hotel-gate is besieged by crews of donkey-drivers; the
noble stately Arab women, with tawny skins (of which a simple robe
of floating blue cotton enables you liberally to see the colour)
and large black eyes, come to the well hard by for water: camels
are perpetually arriving and setting down their loads: the court
is full of bustling dragomans, ayahs, and children from India; and
poor old venerable he-nurses, with grey beards and crimson turbans,
tending little white-faced babies that have seen the light at
Dumdum or Futtyghur: a copper-coloured barber, seated on his hams,
is shaving a camel-driver at the great inn-gate. The bells are
ringing prodigiously; and Lieutenant Waghorn is bouncing in and out
of the courtyard full of business. He only left Bombay yesterday
morning, was seen in the Red Sea on Tuesday, is engaged to dinner
this afternoon in the Regent's Park, and (as it is about two
minutes since I saw him in the courtyard) I make no doubt he is by
this time at Alexandria, or at Malta, say, perhaps, at both. Il en
est capable. If any man can be at two places at once (which I
don't believe or deny) Waghorn is he.

Six o'clock bell rings. Sixty people sit down to a quasi-French
banquet: thirty Indian officers in moustaches and jackets; ten
civilians in ditto and spectacles; ten pale-faced ladies with
ringlets, to whom all pay prodigious attention. All the pale
ladies drink pale ale, which, perhaps, accounts for it; in fact the
Bombay and Suez passengers have just arrived, and hence this
crowding and bustling, and display of military jackets and
moustaches, and ringlets and beauty. The windows are open, and a
rush of mosquitoes from the Ezbekieh waters, attracted by the wax
candles, adds greatly to the excitement of the scene. There was a
little tough old Major, who persisted in flinging open the windows,
to admit these volatile creatures, with a noble disregard to their
sting--and the pale ringlets did not seem to heed them either,
though the delicate shoulders of some of them were bare.

All the meat, ragouts, fricandeaux, and roasts, which are served
round at dinner, seem to me to be of the same meat: a black
uncertain sort of viand do these "fleshpots of Egypt" contain. But
what the meat is no one knew: is it the donkey? The animal is
more plentiful than any other in Cairo.

After dinner, the ladies retiring, some of us take a mixture of hot
water, sugar, and pale French brandy, which is said to be
deleterious, but is by no means unpalatable. One of the Indians
offers a bundle of Bengal cheroots; and we make acquaintance with
those honest bearded white-jacketed Majors and military Commanders,
finding England here in a French hotel kept by an Italian, at the
city of Grand Cairo, in Africa.

On retiring to bed you take a towel with you into the sacred
interior, behind the mosquito curtains. Then your duty is, having
tucked the curtains closely around, to flap and bang violently with
this towel, right and left, and backwards and forwards, until every
mosquito should have been massacred that may have taken refuge
within your muslin canopy.

Do what you will, however, one of them always escapes the murder;
and as soon as the candle is out the miscreant begins his infernal
droning and trumpeting; descends playfully upon your nose and face,
and so lightly that you don't know that he touches you. But that
for a week afterwards you bear about marks of his ferocity, you
might take the invisible little being to be a creature of fancy--a
mere singing in your ears.

This, as an account of Cairo, dear M-, you will probably be
disposed to consider as incomplete: the fact is, I have seen
nothing else as yet. I have peered into no harems. The magicians,
proved to be humbugs, have been bastinadoed out of town. The
dancing-girls, those lovely Alme, of whom I had hoped to be able to
give a glowing and elegant, though strictly moral, description,
have been whipped into Upper Egypt, and as you are saying in your
mind-- Well, it ISN'T a good description of Cairo: you are
perfectly right. It is England in Egypt. I like to see her there
with her pluck, enterprise, manliness, bitter ale, and Harvey
Sauce. Wherever they come they stay and prosper. From the summit
of yonder Pyramids forty centuries may look down on them if they
are minded; and I say, those venerable daughters of time ought to
be better pleased by the examination, than by regarding the French
bayonets and General Bonaparte, Member of the Institute, fifty
years ago, running about with sabre and pigtail. Wonders he did,
to be sure, and then ran away, leaving Kleber, to be murdered, in
the lurch--a few hundred yards from the spot where these
disquisitions are written. But what are his wonders compared to
Waghorn? Nap massacred the Mamelukes at the Pyramids: Wag has
conquered the Pyramids themselves; dragged the unwieldy structures
a month nearer England than they were, and brought the country
along with them. All the trophies and captives that ever were
brought to Roman triumph were not so enormous and wonderful as
this. All the heads that Napoleon ever caused to be struck off (as
George Cruikshank says) would not elevate him a monument as big.
Be ours the trophies of peace! O my country! O Waghorn! Hae tibi
erunt artes. When I go to the Pyramids I will sacrifice in your
name, and pour out libations of bitter ale and Harvey Sauce in your

One of the noblest views in the world is to be seen from the
citadel, which we ascended to-day. You see the city stretching
beneath it, with a thousand minarets and mosques,--the great river
curling through the green plains, studded with innumerable
villages. The Pyramids are beyond, brilliantly distinct; and the
lines and fortifications of the height, and the arsenal lying
below. Gazing down, the guide does not fail to point out the
famous Mameluke leap, by which one of the corps escaped death, at
the time that His Highness the Pasha arranged the general massacre
of the body.

The venerable Patriarch's harem is close by, where he received,
with much distinction, some of the members of our party. We were
allowed to pass very close to the sacred precincts, and saw a
comfortable white European building, approached by flights of
steps, and flanked by pretty gardens. Police and law-courts were
here also, as I understood; but it was not the time of the Egyptian
assizes. It would have been pleasant, otherwise, to see the Chief
Cadi in his hall of justice; and painful, though instructive, to
behold the immediate application of the bastinado.

The great lion of the place is a new mosque which Mehemet Ali is
constructing very leisurely. It is built of alabaster of a fair
white, with a delicate blushing tinge; but the ornaments are
European--the noble, fantastic, beautiful Oriental art is
forgotten. The old mosques of the city, of which I entered two,
and looked at many, are a thousand times more beautiful. Their
variety of ornament is astonishing,--the difference in the shapes
of the domes, the beautiful fancies and caprices in the forms of
the minarets, which violate the rules of proportion with the most
happy daring grace, must have struck every architect who has seen
them. As you go through the streets, these architectural beauties
keep the eye continually charmed: now it is a marble fountain,
with its arabesque and carved overhanging roof, which you can look
at with as much pleasure as an antique gem, so neat and brilliant
is the execution of it; then, you come to the arched entrance to a
mosque, which shoots up like--like what?--like the most beautiful
pirouette by Taglioni, let us say. This architecture is not
sublimely beautiful, perfect loveliness and calm, like that which
was revealed to us at the Parthenon (and in comparison of which the
Pantheon and Colosseum are vulgar and coarse, mere broad-shouldered
Titans before ambrosial Jove); but these fantastic spires, and
cupolas, and galleries, excite, amuse, tickle the imagination, so
to speak, and perpetually fascinate the eye. There were very few
believers in the famous mosque of Sultan Hassan when we visited it,
except the Moslemitish beadle, who was on the look-out for
backsheesh, just like his brother officer in an English cathedral;
and who, making us put on straw slippers, so as not to pollute the
sacred pavement of the place, conducted us through it.

It is stupendously light and airy; the best specimens of Norman art
that I have seen (and surely the Crusaders must have carried home
the models of these heathenish temples in their eyes) do not exceed
its noble grace and simplicity. The mystics make discoveries at
home, that the Gothic architecture is Catholicism carved in stone--
(in which case, and if architectural beauty is a criterion or
expression of religion, what a dismal barbarous creed must that
expressed by the Bethesda meeting-house and Independent chapels
be?)--if, as they would gravely hint, because Gothic architecture
is beautiful, Catholicism is therefore lovely and right,--why,
Mahometanism must have been right and lovely too once. Never did a
creed possess temples more elegant; as elegant as the Cathedral at
Rouen, or the Baptistery at Pisa.

But it is changed now. There was nobody at prayers; only the
official beadles, and the supernumerary guides, who came for
backsheesh. Faith hath degenerated. Accordingly they can't build
these mosques, or invent these perfect forms, any more. Witness
the tawdry incompleteness and vulgarity of the Pasha's new temple,
and the woful failures among the very late edifices in

However, they still make pilgrimages to Mecca in great force. The
Mosque of Hassan is hard by the green plain on which the Hag
encamps before it sets forth annually on its pious peregrination.
It was not yet its time, but I saw in the bazaars that redoubted
Dervish, who is the master of the Hag--the leader of every
procession, accompanying the sacred camel; and a personage almost
as much respected as Mr. O'Connell in Ireland.

This fellow lives by alms (I mean the head of the Hag). Winter and
summer he wears no clothes but a thin and scanty white shirt. He
wields a staff, and stalks along scowling and barefoot. His
immense shock of black hair streams behind him, and his brown
brawny body is curled over with black hair, like a savage man.
This saint has the largest harem in the town; he is said to be
enormously rich by the contributions he has levied; and is so
adored for his holiness by the infatuated folk, that when he
returns from the Hag (which he does on horseback, the chief Mollahs
going out to meet him and escort him home in state along the
Ezbekieh road), the people fling themselves down under the horse's
feet, eager to be trampled upon and killed, and confident of heaven
if the great Hadji's horse will but kick them into it. Was it my
fault if I thought of Hadji Daniel, and the believers in him?

There was no Dervish of repute on the plain when I passed; only one
poor wild fellow, who was dancing, with glaring eyes and grizzled
beard, rather to the contempt of the bystanders, as I thought, who
by no means put coppers into his extended bowl. On this poor
devil's head there was a poorer devil still--a live cock, entirely
plucked, but ornamented with some bits of ragged tape and scarlet
and tinsel, the most horribly grotesque and miserable object I ever

A little way from him, there was a sort of play going on--a clown
and a knowing one, like Widdicombe and the clown with us,--the
buffoon answering with blundering responses, which made all the
audience shout with laughter; but the only joke which was
translated to me would make you do anything but laugh, and shall
therefore never be revealed by these lips. All their humour, my
dragoman tells me, is of this questionable sort; and a young
Egyptian gentleman, son of a Pasha, whom I subsequently met at
Malta, confirmed the statement, and gave a detail of the practices
of private life which was anything but edifying. The great aim of
woman, he said, in the much-maligned Orient, is to administer to
the brutality of her lord; her merit is in knowing how to vary the
beast's pleasures. He could give us no idea, he said, of the wit
of the Egyptian women, and their skill in double entendre; nor, I
presume, did we lose much by our ignorance. What I would urge,
humbly, however, is this--Do not let us be led away by German
writers and aesthetics, Semilassoisms, Hahnhahnisms, and the like.
The life of the East is a life of brutes. The much maligned
Orient, I am confident, has not been maligned near enough; for the
good reason that none of us can tell the amount of horrible
sensuality practised there.

Beyond the Jack-pudding rascal and his audience, there was on the
green a spot, on which was pointed out to me a mark, as of blood.
That morning the blood had spouted from the neck of an Arnaoot
soldier, who had been executed for murder. These Arnaoots are the
curse and terror of the citizens. Their camps are without the
city; but they are always brawling, or drunken, or murdering
within, in spite of the rigid law which is applied to them, and
which brings one or more of the scoundrels to death almost every

Some of our party had seen this fellow borne by the hotel the day
before, in the midst of a crowd of soldiers who had apprehended
him. The man was still formidable to his score of captors: his
clothes had been torn off; his limbs were bound with cords; but he
was struggling frantically to get free; and my informant described
the figure and appearance of the naked, bound, writhing savage, as
quite a model of beauty.

Walking in the street, this fellow had just before been struck by
the looks of a woman who was passing, and laid hands on her. She
ran away, and he pursued her. She ran into the police-barrack,
which was luckily hard by; but the Arnaoot was nothing daunted, and
followed into the midst of the police. One of them tried to stop
him. The Arnaoot pulled out a pistol, and shot the policeman dead.
He cut down three or four more before he was secured. He knew his
inevitable end must be death: that he could not seize upon the
woman: that he could not hope to resist half a regiment of armed
soldiers: yet his instinct of lust and murder was too strong; and
so he had his head taken off quite calmly this morning, many of his
comrades attending their brother's last moments. He cared not the
least about dying; and knelt down and had his head off as coolly as
if he were looking on at the same ceremony performed on another.

When the head was off, and the blood was spouting on the ground, a
married woman, who had no children, came forward very eagerly out
of the crowd, to smear herself with it,--the application of
criminals' blood being considered a very favourable medicine for
women afflicted with barrenness,--so she indulged in this remedy.

But one of the Arnaoots standing near said, "What, you like blood,
do you?" (or words to that effect). "Let's see how yours mixes
with my comrade's." And thereupon, taking out a pistol, he shot
the woman in the midst of the crowd and the guards who were
attending the execution; was seized of course by the latter; and no
doubt to-morrow morning will have HIS head off too. It would be a
good chapter to write--the Death of the Arnaoot--but I shan't go.
Seeing one man hanged is quite enough in the course of a life. J'y
ai ete, as the Frenchman said of hunting.

These Arnaoots are the terror of the town. They seized hold of an
Englishman the other day, and were very nearly pistolling him.
Last week one of them murdered a shopkeeper at Boulak, who refused
to sell him a water-melon at a price which he, the soldier, fixed
upon it. So, for the matter of three-halfpence, he killed the
shopkeeper; and had his own rascally head chopped off, universally
regretted by his friends. Why, I wonder, does not His Highness the
Pasha invite the Arnaoots to a dejeuner at the Citadel, as he did
the Mamelukes, and serve them up the same sort of breakfast? The
walls are considerably heightened since Emin Bey and his horse
leapt them, and it is probable that not one of them would escape.

This sort of pistol practice is common enough here, it would
appear; and not among the Arnaoots merely, but the higher orders.
Thus, a short time since, one of His Highness's grandsons, whom I
shall call Bluebeard Pasha (lest a revelation of the name of the
said Pasha might interrupt our good relations with his country)--
one of the young Pashas being rather backward in his education, and
anxious to learn mathematics, and the elegant deportment of
civilised life, sent to England for a tutor. I have heard he was a
Cambridge man, and had learned both algebra and politeness under
the Reverend Doctor Whizzle, of--College.

One day when Mr. MacWhirter, B.A., was walking in Shoubra Gardens,
with His Highness the young Bluebeard Pasha, inducting him into the
usages of polished society, and favouring him with reminiscences of
Trumpington, there came up a poor fellah, who flung himself at the
feet of young Bluebeard, and calling for justice in a loud and
pathetic voice, and holding out a petition, besought His Highness
to cast a gracious eye upon the same, and see that his slave had
justice done him.

Bluebeard Pasha was so deeply engaged and interested by his
respected tutor's conversation, that he told the poor fellah to go
to the deuce, and resumed the discourse which his ill-timed outcry
for justice had interrupted. But the unlucky wight of a fellah was
pushed by his evil destiny, and thought he would make yet another
application. So he took a short cut down one of the garden lanes,
and as the Prince and the Reverend Mr. MacWhirter, his tutor, came
along once more engaged in pleasant disquisition, behold the fellah
was once more in their way, kneeling at the august Bluebeard's
feet, yelling out for justice as before, and thrusting his petition
into the Royal face.

When the Prince's conversation was thus interrupted a second time,
his Royal patience and clemency were at an end. "Man," said he,
"once before I bade thee not to pester me with thy clamour, and lo!
you have disobeyed me,--take the consequences of disobedience to a
Prince, and thy blood be upon thine own head." So saying, he drew
out a pistol and blew out the brains of that fellah, so that he
never bawled out for justice any more.

The Reverend Mr. MacWhirter was astonished at this sudden mode of
proceeding: "Gracious Prince," said he, "we do not shoot an
undergraduate at Cambridge even for walking over a college grass-
plot.--Let me suggest to your Royal Highness that this method of
ridding yourself of a poor devil's importunities is such as we
should consider abrupt and almost cruel in Europe. Let me beg you
to moderate your Royal impetuosity for the future; and, as your
Highness's tutor, entreat you to be a little less prodigal of your
powder and shot."

"O Mollah!" said His Highness, here interrupting his governor's
affectionate appeal,--"you are good to talk about Trumpington and
the Pons Asinorum, but if you interfere with the course of justice
in any way, or prevent me from shooting any dog of an Arab who
snarls at my heels, I have another pistol; and, by the beard of the
Prophet! a bullet for you too." So saying he pulled out the
weapon, with such a terrific and significant glance at the Reverend
Mr. MacWhirter, that that gentleman wished himself back in his
Combination Room again; and is by this time, let us hope, safely
housed there.

Another facetious anecdote, the last of those I had from a well-
informed gentleman residing at Cairo, whose name (as many copies of
this book that is to be will be in the circulating libraries there)
I cannot, for obvious reasons, mention. The revenues of the
country come into the august treasury through the means of farmers,
to whom the districts are let out, and who are personally
answerable for their quota of the taxation. This practice involves
an intolerable deal of tyranny and extortion on the part of those
engaged to levy the taxes, and creates a corresponding duplicity
among the fellahs, who are not only wretchedly poor among
themselves, but whose object is to appear still more poor, and
guard their money from their rapacious overseers. Thus the Orient
is much maligned; but everybody cheats there: that is a melancholy
fact. The Pasha robs and cheats the merchants; knows that the
overseer robs him, and bides his time, until he makes him disgorge
by the application of the tremendous bastinado; the overseer robs
and squeezes the labourer; and the poverty-stricken devil cheats
and robs in return; and so the government moves in a happy cycle of

Deputations from the fellahs and peasants come perpetually before
the august presence, to complain of the cruelty and exactions of
the chiefs set over them: but, as it is known that the Arab never
will pay without the bastinado, their complaints, for the most
part, meet with but little attention. His Highness's treasury must
be filled, and his officers supported in their authority.

However, there was one village, of which the complaints were so
pathetic, and the inhabitants so supremely wretched, that the Royal
indignation was moved at their story, and the chief of the village,
Skinflint Beg, was called to give an account of himself at Cairo.

When he came before the presence, Mehemet Ali reproached him with
his horrible cruelty and exactions; asked him how he dared to treat
his faithful and beloved subjects in this way, and threatened him
with disgrace, and the utter confiscation of his property, for thus
having reduced a district to ruin.

"Your Highness says I have reduced these fellahs to ruin," said
Skinflint Beg: "what is the best way to confound my enemies, and
to show you the falsehood of their accusations that I have ruined
them?--To bring more money from them. If I bring you five hundred
purses from my village, will you acknowledge that my people are not
ruined yet?"

The heart of the Pasha was touched: "I will have no more
bastinadoing, O Skinflint Beg; you have tortured these poor people
so much, and have got so little from them, that my Royal heart
relents for the present, and I will have them suffer no farther."

"Give me free leave--give me your Highness's gracious pardon, and I
will bring the five hundred purses as surely as my name is
Skinflint Beg. I demand only the time to go home, the time to
return, and a few days to stay, and I will come back as honestly as
Regulus Pasha did to the Carthaginians,--I will come back and make
my face white before your Highness."

Skinflint Beg's prayer for a reprieve was granted, and he returned
to his village, where he forthwith called the elders together. "O
friends," he said, "complaints of our poverty and misery have
reached the Royal throne, and the benevolent heart of the Sovereign
has been melted by the words that have been poured into his ears.
'My heart yearns towards my people of El Muddee,' he says; 'I have
thought how to relieve their miseries. Near them lies the fruitful
land of El Guanee. It is rich in maize and cotton, in sesame and
barley; it is worth a thousand purses; but I will let it to my
children for seven hundred, and I will give over the rest of the
profit to them, as an alleviation for their affliction.'"

The elders of El Muddee knew the great value and fertility of the
lands of Guanee, but they doubted the sincerity of their governor,
who, however, dispelled their fears, and adroitly quickened their
eagerness to close with the proffered bargain. "I will myself
advance two hundred and fifty purses," he said; "do you take
counsel among yourselves, and subscribe the other five hundred; and
when the sum is ready, a deputation of you shall carry it to Cairo,
and I will come with my share; and we will lay the whole at the
feet of His Highness." So the grey-bearded ones of the village
advised with one another; and those who had been inaccessible to
bastinadoes, somehow found money at the calling of interest; and
the Sheikh, and they, and the five hundred purses, set off on the
road to the capital.

When they arrived, Skinflint Beg and the elders of El Muddee sought
admission to the Royal throne, and there laid down their purses.
"Here is your humble servant's contribution," said Skinflint,
producing his share; "and here is the offering of your loyal
village of El Muddee. Did I not before say that enemies and
deceivers had maligned me before the august presence, pretending
that not a piastre was left in my village, and that my extortion
had entirely denuded the peasantry? See! here is proof that there
is plenty of money still in El Muddee: in twelve hours the elders
have subscribed five hundred purses, and lay them at the feet of
their lord."

Instead of the bastinado, Skinflint Beg was instantly rewarded with
the Royal favour, and the former mark of attention was bestowed
upon the fellahs who had maligned him; Skinflint Beg was promoted
to the rank of Skinflint Bey; and his manner of extracting money
from his people may be studied with admiration in a part of the
United Kingdom. {3}

At the time of the Syrian quarrel, and when, apprehending some
general rupture with England, the Pasha wished to raise the spirit
of the fellahs, and relever la morale nationale, he actually made
one of the astonished Arabs a colonel. He degraded him three days
after peace was concluded. The young Egyptian colonel, who told me
this, laughed and enjoyed the joke with the utmost gusto. "Is it
not a shame," he said, "to make me a colonel at three-and-twenty;
I, who have no particular merit, and have never seen any service?"
Death has since stopped the modest and good-natured young fellow's
further promotion. The death of--Bey was announced in the French
papers a few weeks back.

My above kind-hearted and agreeable young informant used to
discourse, in our evenings in the Lazaretto at Malta, very
eloquently about the beauty of his wife, whom he had left behind
him at Cairo--her brown hair, her brilliant complexion, and her
blue eyes. It is this Circassian blood, I suppose, to which the
Turkish aristocracy that governs Egypt must be indebted for the
fairness of their skin. Ibrahim Pasha, riding by in his barouche,
looked like a bluff jolly-faced English dragoon officer, with a
grey moustache and red cheeks, such as you might see on a field-day
at Maidstone. All the numerous officials riding through the town
were quite as fair as Europeans. We made acquaintance with one
dignitary, a very jovial and fat Pasha, the proprietor of the inn,
I believe, who was continually lounging about the Ezbekieh garden,
and who, but for a slight Jewish cast of countenance, might have
passed any day for a Frenchman. The ladies whom we saw were
equally fair; that is, the very slight particles of the persons of
ladies which our lucky eyes were permitted to gaze on. These
lovely creatures go through the town by parties of three or four,
mounted on donkeys, and attended by slaves holding on at the
crupper, to receive the lovely riders lest they should fall, and
shouting out shrill cries of "Schmaalek," "Ameenek" (or however
else these words may be pronounced), and flogging off the people
right and left with the buffalo-thong. But the dear creatures are
even more closely disguised than at Constantinople: their bodies
are enveloped with a large black silk hood, like a cab-head; the
fashion seemed to be to spread their arms out, and give this
covering all the amplitude of which it was capable, as they leered
and ogled you from under their black masks with their big rolling

Everybody has big rolling eyes here (unless, to be sure, they lose
one of ophthalmia). The Arab women are some of the noblest figures
I have ever seen. The habit of carrying jars on the head always
gives the figure grace and motion; and the dress the women wear
certainly displays it to full advantage. I have brought a complete
one home with me, at the service of any lady for a masqued ball.
It consists of a coarse blue dress of calico, open in front, and
fastened with a horn button. Three yards of blue stuff for a veil;
on the top of the veil a jar to be balanced on the head; and a
little black strip of silk to fall over the nose, and leave the
beautiful eyes full liberty to roll and roam. But such a costume,
not aided by any stays or any other article of dress whatever, can
be worn only by a very good figure. I suspect it won't be borrowed
for many balls next season.

The men, a tall, handsome, noble race, are treated like dogs. I
shall never forget riding through the crowded bazaars, my
interpreter, or laquais-de-place, ahead of me to clear the way--
when he took his whip, and struck it over the shoulders of a man
who could not or would not make way!

The man turned round--an old, venerable, handsome face, with
awfully sad eyes, and a beard long and quite grey. He did not make
the least complaint, but slunk out of the way, piteously shaking
his shoulder. The sight of that indignity gave me a sickening


Back to Full Books