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

Part 3 out of 8

public worship. A "Masjid" is any place of prayer, private or public.
From "Masjid" we derive our "Mosque": its changes on the road to Europe
are almost as remarkable as that described in the satiric lines,-
"Alfana vient d'equus, sans doute,
Mais il faut avouer aussi,
Qu en venant de la jusqu'ici
Il a bien change sur la route."
[FN#14] So called, because supposed to contain relics of Hasan and
Husayn, the martyred grandsons of Mohammed. The tradition is little
credited, and the Persians ostentatiously avoid visiting the place.
"You are the first 'Ajami that ever said the Fatihah at this holy
spot," quoth the Mujawir, or guardian of the tomb, after compelling me,
almost by force, to repeat the formula, which he recited with the
prospect of a few piastres.
[FN#15] This is becoming the fashion for young Egyptians, who will
readily receive a pair of common green persiennes in exchange for fine
old windows of elaborately carved wood. They are as sensible in a
variety of other small matters. Natives of a hot climate generally wear
slippers of red and yellow leather, because they are cool and
comfortable: on the banks of the Nile, the old chaussure is gradually
yielding to black shoes, which blister the feet with heat, but are
European, and, therefore, bon ton. It must, however, be confessed that
the fine old carved wood-work of the windows was removed because it was
found to be dangerous in cases of fire.
[FN#16] Irreligious men neglect this act of propriety. There are many
in Egypt who will habitually transgress one of the fundamental orders
of their faith, namely, never to pray when in a state of religious
impurity. In popular Argot, prayer without ablution is called Salat
Mamlukiyah, or "slaves' prayers," because such men perform their
devotions only in order to avoid the master's staff. Others will touch
the Koran when impure, a circumstance which highly disgusts Indian
[FN#17] An "adviser," or "lecturer,"-any learned man who, generally in
the months of Ramazan and Muharram, after the Friday service and
sermon, delivers a discourse upon the principles of Al-Islam.
[FN#18] Amongst them is a foundation for Jawi scholars. Some of our
authors, by a curious mistake, have confounded Moslem Jawa (by the
Egyptians pronounced Gawa), with "Goa," the Christian colony of the
[FN#19] Cairo was once celebrated for its magnificent collections of
books. Besides private libraries, each large Mosque had its
bibliotheca, every MS. of which was marked with the word "Wakf"
(entailed bequest), or "Wukifa l'Illahi Ta'ala" (bequeathed to God
Almighty). But Cairo has now for years supplied other countries with
books, and the decay of religious zeal has encouraged the unprincipled
to steal and sell MSS. marked with the warning words. The Hijaz, in
particular, has been inundated with books from Egypt. Cairo has still
some large libraries, but most of them are private property, and the
proprietors will not readily lend or give access to their treasures.
The principal opportunity of buying books is during the month Ramazan,
when they are publicly sold in the Azhar Mosque. The Orientalist will,
however, meet with many disappointments; besides the difficulty of
discovering good works, he will find in the booksellers, scribes, et
hoc genus omne, a finished race of scoundrels.
[FN#20] Lane (Mod. Egyptians) has rectified Baron von
Hammer-Purgstall's mistake concerning the word "Azhar"; our English
Orientalist translates it the "splendid Mosque." I would venture to
add, that the epithet must be understood in a spiritual and not in a
material sense. Wilkinson attributes the erection of the building to
Jauhar al-Kaid, general under Al-Moaz, about A.D. 970. Wilson ascribes
it partly to Al-Moaz the Fatimite (A.D. 973), partly to his general and
successor, Al-Hakim (?).
[FN#21] Wakf, property become mortmain. My friend Yacoub Artin declares
that the whole Nile Valley has parcel by parcel been made Wakf at some
time or other, and then retaken.
[FN#22] If I may venture to judge, after the experience of a few
months, there is now a re-action in favour of the old system. Mohammed
Ali managed to make his preparatory, polytechnic, and other schools,
thoroughly distasteful to the people, and mothers blinded their
children, to prevent their being devoted for life to infidel studies.
The printing-press, contrasting in hideousness with the beauty of the
written character, and the contemptible Arabic style of the various
works translated by order of government from the European languages,
have placed arms in the hands of the orthodox party.
[FN#23] Finding the Indian Riwak closed, and hearing that an endowment
still belonged to it, I called twice upon the Shaykh or Dean, wishing
to claim the stipend as a precedent. But I failed in finding him at
home, and was obliged to start hurriedly for Suez. The Indians now
generally study in the Sulaymaniyah, or Afghan College.
[FN#24] As the attending of lectures is not compulsory, the result is
that the lecturer is always worth listening to. May I commend this
consideration to our college reformers at home? In my day, men were
compelled to waste-notoriously to waste-an hour or two every morning,
for the purpose of putting a few pounds sterling into the pocket of
some droning Don.
[FN#25] The would-be calligrapher must go to a Constantinople Khwajah
(schoolmaster), and after writing about two hours a day regularly
through a year or two, he will become, if he has the necessary
disposition, a skilful penman. This acquirement is but little valued in
the present day, as almost nothing is to be gained by it. The Turks
particularly excel in the ornamental character called "Suls." I have
seen some Korans beautifully written; and the late Pasha gave an
impetus to this branch of industry, by forbidding, under the plea of
religious scruples, the importation of the incorrect Korans cheaply
lithographed by the Persians at Bombay. The Persians surpass the Turks
in all but the Suls writing. Of late years, the Pashas of Cairo have
employed a gentleman from Khorasan, whose travelling name is "Mirza
Sanglakh" to decorate their Mosques with inscriptions. I was favoured
with a specimen of his art, and do not hesitate to rank him the first
of his age, and second to none amongst the ancients but those Raphaels
of calligraphy, Mir of Shiraz, and Rahman of Herat. The Egyptians and
Arabs, generally speaking, write a coarse and clumsy hand, and, as
usual in the East, the higher the rank of the writer is, the worse his
scrawl becomes.
[FN#26] The popular volumes are, 1. Al-Amsilah, showing the simple
conjugation of the triliteral verb; 2. Bisi'a, the work of some unknown
author, explaining the formation of the verb into increased infinities,
the quadrilateral verb, &c.; 3. The Maksu'a, a well-known book written
by the great Imam Abu' Hanifah; 4. The "Izzi," an explanatory treatise,
the work of a Turk, "Izzat Effendi." And lastly, the Marah of Ahmad
al-Sa'udi. These five tracts are bound together in a little volume,
printed at the government establishment. Al-Amsilah is explained in
Turkish, to teach boys the art of "parsing"; Egyptians generally
confine themselves in Al-Sarf to the Izzi, and the Lamiyat al-Af'al of
the grammarian Ibn Malik.
[FN#27] First, the well-known "Ajrumiyah" (printed by M. Vaucelle), and
its commentary, Al-Kafrawi. Thirdly, the Alfiyah (Thousand Distichs) of
Ibn Malik, written in verse for mnemonic purposes, but thereby rendered
so difficult as to require the lengthy commentary of Al-Ashmumi. The
fifth is the well-known work called the Katr al-Nida (the Dew Drop),
celebrated from Cairo to Kabul; and last of all the "Azhari."
[FN#28] I know little of the Hanafi school; but the name of the
following popular works were given to me by men upon whose learning I
could depend. The book first read is the text, called Marah al-Falah,
containing about twenty pages, and its commentary, which is about six
times longer. Then comes the Matn al-Kanz, a brief text of from 35 to
40 pages, followed by three long Sharh. The shortest of these,
"Al-Tai," contains 500 pages; the next, "Mulla Miskin," at least 900;
and the "Sharh Ayni" nearly 2000. To these succeeds the Text
"Al-Durar," the work of the celebrated Khusraw, (200 pages), with a
large commentary by the same author; and last is the Matn Tanwir
Al-Absar, containing about 500 pages, and its Sharh, a work upwards of
four times the size. Many of these books may be found-especially when
the MS. is an old one-with Hashiyah, or marginal notes, but most men
write them for themselves, so that there is no generally used
collection. The above-mentioned are the works containing a full course
of theological study; it is rare, however, to find a man who reads
beyond the "Al-Kanz," with the shortest of its commentaries, the
[FN#29] He begins with a little text called, after the name of its
author, Abu Shuja'a of Isfahan, and proceeds to its commentary, a book
of about 250 pages, by Ibn Kasim of Ghazzah (Gaza). There is another
Sharh, neatly four times larger than this, "Al-Khatib"; it is seldom
read. Then comes Al-Tahrir, the work of Zakariya al-Ansari,-a
celebrated divine buried in the Mosque of Al-Shafe'i,-and its
commentary by the same author, a goodly MS. of 600 pages. Most students
here cry: "Enough!" The ambitious pass on to Al-Minhaj and its
commentary, (1600 pages). Nor need they stop at this point. A man may
addle his brains over Moslem theology, as upon Aristotle's schoolmen,
till his eyesight fails him-both subjects are all but interminable.
[FN#30] The three best known are the Arbain al-Nawawi, and the
Sahihayn-"the two (universally acknowledged to be) trustworthy,"-by
Al-Muslim and Al-Bokhari, celebrated divines. The others are Al-Jami'
al-Saghir, "the smaller collection," so called to distinguish it from a
rarer book, Al-Jami' al-Kabir, the "greater collection"; both are the
work of Al-Siyuti. The full course concludes with Al-Shifa, Shamail,
and the labours of Kazi Ayyaz.
[FN#31] Two Tafsirs are known all over the modern world. The smaller
one is called Jalalani ("the two Jalals," i.e. the joint work of Jalal
al-Siyuti and Jalal al-Mahalli), and fills two stout volumes octavo.
The larger is the Exposition of Al-Bayzawi, which is supposed to
contain the whole subject. Some few divines read Al-Khazin.
[FN#32] To conclude the list of Moslem studies, not purely religious.
Al-Mantik (or logic) is little valued; it is read when judged
advisable, after Al-Nahw, from which it flows, and before Ma'ani Bayan
(rhetoric) to which it leads. In Egypt, students are generally directed
to fortify their memories, and give themselves a logical turn of mind,
by application to Al-Jabr (algebra). The only logical works known are
the Isaghuji (the [Greek text] of Porphyry), Al-Shamsiyah, the book
Al-Sullam, with its Sharh Al-Akhzari, and, lastly, Kazi Mir. Equally
neglected are the Tawarikh (history) and the Hikmat (or philosophy),
once so ardently cultivated by Moslem savans; indeed, it is now all but
impossible to get books upon these subjects. For upwards of six weeks,
I ransacked the stalls and the bazar, in order to find some one of the
multitudinous annals of Al-Hijaz, without seeing for sale anything but
the fourth volume of a large biographical work called al-Akd al-Samin
fi Tarikh al-Balad al-Amin.
The 'Ilm al-'Aruz, or Prosody, is not among the Arabs, as with us, a
chapter hung on to the tail of grammar. It is a long and difficult
study, prosecuted only by those who wish to distinguish themselves in
"Arabiyat,"-the poetry and the eloquence of the ancient and modern
Arabs. The poems generally studied, with the aid of commentaries, which
impress every verse upon the memory, are the Burdah and the Hamziyah,
well-known odes by Mohammed of Abusir. They abound in obsolete words,
and are useful at funerals, as on other solemn occasions. The Banat
Su'adi, by Ka'ab al-Ahbar (or Akhbar), a companion of the Apostle, and
the Diwan 'Umar ibn Fariz, a celebrated mystic, are also learned
compositions. Few attempt the bulky volume of Al-Mutanabbi-though many
place it open upon the sofa,-fewer still the tenebrous compositions of
Al-Hariri; nor do the modern Egyptians admire those fragments of
ancient Arab poets, which seem so sweetly simple to the European ear.
The change of faith has altered the national taste to such an extent,
that the decent bard must now sing of woman in the masculine gender.
For which reason, a host of modern poetasters can attract the public
ear, which is deaf to the voices of the "Golden Song."
In the exact sciences, the Egyptian Moslems, a backward race according
to European estimation, are far superior to the Persians and the
Moslems of India. Some of them become tolerable arithmeticians, though
very inferior to the Coptic Christians; they have good and simple
treatises on algebra, and still display some of their ancestors'
facility in the acquisition of geometry. The 'Ilm al-Mikat, or
"Calendar-calculating," was at one time publicly taught in the Azhar;
the printing-press has doomed that study to death.
The natural sciences find but scant favour on the banks of the Nile.
Astronomy is still astrology, geography a heap of names, and natural
history a mass of fables. Alchemy, geomancy, and summoning of fiends,
are pet pursuits; but the former has so bad a name, that even amongst
friends it is always alluded to as 'Ilm al-Kaf,-the "science of K," so
called from the initial letter of the word "Kimiya." Of the state of
therapeutics I have already treated at length.
Aided by the finest of ears, and flexible organs of articulation, the
Egyptian appears to possess many of the elements of a good linguist.
The stranger wonders to hear a Cairene donkey-boy shouting sentences in
three or four European dialects, with a pronunciation as pure as his
own. How far this people succeed in higher branches of language, my
scanty experience does not enable me to determine. But even for
students of Arabic, nothing can be more imperfect than those useful
implements, Vocabularies and Dictionaries. The Cairenes have, it is
true, the Kamus of Fayruzabadi, but it has never been printed in Egypt;
it is therefore rare, and when found, lost pages and clerical errors
combined with the intrinsic difficulty of the style, exemplify the
saying of Golius, that the most learned Orientalist must act the part
of a diviner, before he can perform that of interpreter. They have
another Lexicon, the Sihah, and an abbreviation of the same, the Sihah
al-Saghir (or the lesser), both of them liable to the same objections
as the Kamus. For the benefit of the numerous students of Turkish and
Persian, short grammars and vocabularies have been printed at a cheap
price, but the former are upon the model of Arabic, a language
essentially different in formation, and the latter are mere strings of
As a specimen of the state of periodical literature, I may quote the
history of the "Bulak Independent," as Europeans facetiously call it.
When Mohammed Ali, determining to have an "organ," directed an officer
to be editor of a weekly paper, the officer replied, that no one would
read it, and consequently that no one would pay for it. The Pasha
remedied this by an order that a subscription should be struck off from
the pay of all employes, European and Egyptian, whose salary amounted
to a certain sum. Upon which the editor accepted the task, but being
paid before his work was published, he of course never supplied his
subscribers with their copies.
[FN#33] Would not a superficial, hasty, and somewhat prejudiced
Egyptian or Persian say exactly the same thing about the systems of
Christ Church and Trinity College?
[FN#34] And when the man of the world, as sometimes happens, professes
to see no difference in the forms of faith, or whispers that his
residence in Europe has made him friendly to the Christian religion,
you will be justified in concluding his opinions to be latitudinarian.
[FN#35] I know only one class in Egypt favourable to the English,-the
donkey boys,-and they found our claim to the possession of the country
upon a base scarcely admissible by those skilled in casuistry, namely,
that we hire more asses than any other nation.
[FN#36] The story is, that Mohammed Ali used to offer his flocks of
foreigners their choice of two professions,-"destruction," that is to
say, physic, or "instruction."
[FN#37] Of this instances abound. Lately an order was issued to tax the
villages of the Badawin settled upon the edge of the Western desert,
who, even in Mohammed Ali's time, were allowed to live free of
assessment. The Aulad 'Ali, inhabitants of a little village near the
Pyramids, refused to pay, and turned out with their matchlocks, defying
the Pasha. The government then insisted upon their leaving their
houses, and living under hair-cloth like Badawin, since they claimed
the privileges of Badawin. The sturdy fellows at once pitched their
tents, and when I returned to Cairo (in December, 1853), they had
deserted their village. I could offer a score of such cases, proving
the present debased condition of Egypt.
[FN#38] At Constantinople the French were the first to break through
the shameful degradation to which the ambassadors of infidel powers
were bribed, by 300 or 400 rations a day, to submit. M. de Saint Priest
refused to give up his sword. General Sebastiani insisted upon wearing
his military boots; and the Republican Aubert Dubajet rejected the
dinner, and the rich dress, with which "the naked and hungry barbarian
who ventured to rub his brow upon the Sublime Porte," was fed and
clothed before being admitted to the presence, saying that the
ambassadors of France wanted neither this nor that. At Cairo, M.
Sabatier, the French Consul-general, has had the merit of doing away
with some customs prejudicial to the dignity of his nation. The next
English envoy will, if anxious so to distinguish himself, have an
excellent opportunity. It is usual, after the first audience, for the
Pasha to send, in token of honour, a sorry steed to the new comer. This
custom is a mere relic of the days when Mohammed the Second threatened
to stable his charger in St. Peter's, and when a ride through the
streets of Cairo exposed the Inspector-general Tott, and his suite, to
lapidation and an "avanie." To send a good horse is to imply
degradation, but to offer a bad one is a positive insult.
[FN#39] As this canal has become a question of national interest, its
advisability is surrounded with all the circumstance of unsupported
assertion and bold denial. The English want a railroad, which would
confine the use of Egypt to themselves. The French desire a canal that
would admit the hardy cruisers of the Mediterranean into the Red Sea.
The cosmopolite will hope that both projects may be carried out. Even
in the seventh century Omar forbade Amru to cut the Isthmus of Suez for
fear of opening Arabia to Christian vessels. As regards the feasibility
of the ship-canal, I heard M. Linant de Bellefonds-the best authority
upon all such subjects in Egypt-expressly assert, after levelling and
surveying the line, that he should have no difficulty in making it. The
canal is now a fact. As late as April, 1864, Lord Palmerston informed
the House of Commons that labourers might be more usefully employed in
cultivating cotton than in "digging a canal through a sandy desert, and
in making two harbours in deep mud and shallow water." It is, however,
understood that the Premier was the only one of his Cabinet who took
this view. Mr. Robert Stephenson, C.E., certainly regretted before his
death the opinion which he had been induced to express by desire.
[FN#40] There are at present about eighteen influential Shaykhs at
Cairo, too fanatic to listen to reason. These it would be necessary to
banish. Good information about what goes on in each Mosque, especially
on Fridays, when the priests preach to the people, and a guard of
honour placed at the gates of the Kazi, the three Muftis, and the
Shaykh of the Azhar, are simple precautions sufficient to keep the
Olema in order.
[FN#41] These Rakaiz Al-'Usab, as they are called, are the most
influential part of the immense mass of dark intrigue which Cairo, like
most Oriental cities, conceals beneath the light surface. They
generally appear in the ostensible state of barbers and dyers.
Secretly, they preside over their different factions, and form a kind
of small Vehm. The French used to pay these men, but Napoleon,
detecting them in stirring up the people, whilst appearing to maintain
public tranquillity, shot eighteen or twenty (about half their number),
and thereby improved the conduct of the rest. They are to be managed,
as Sir Charles Napier governed Sind,-by keeping a watchful eye upon
them, a free administration of military law, disarming the population,
and forbidding large bodies of men to assemble.



AT length the slow "month of blessings" passed away. We rejoiced like
Romans finishing their Quaresima, when a salvo of artillery from the
citadel announced the end of our Lenten woes. On the last day of
Ramazan all gave alms to the poor, at the rate of a piastre and a half
for each member of the household-slave, servant, and master. The next
day, first of the three composing the Bayram or Id[FN#1] (the Lesser
Festival), we arose before dawn, performed our ablutions, and repaired
to the Mosque, to recite the peculiar prayer of the season, and to hear
the sermon which bade us be "merry and wise." After which we ate and
drank heartily; then, with pipes and tobacco-pouches in hand, we
sauntered out to enjoy the contemplation of smiling faces and street

The favourite resort on this occasion is the large cemetery beyond the
Bab al-Nasr[FN#2]-that stern, old, massive gateway which opens upon the
Suez road. There we found a scene of jollity. Tents and ambulant
coffee-houses were full of men equipped in their-anglice

[p.116]-"Sunday best," listening to singers and musicians, smoking,
chatting, and looking at jugglers, buffoons, snake-charmers,
Darwayshes, ape-leaders, and dancing boys habited in women's attire.
Eating-stalls and lollipop-shops, booths full of playthings, and sheds
for lemonade and syrups, lined the roads, and disputed with swings and
merry-go-rounds the regards of the little Moslems and Moslemahs. The
chief item of the crowd, fair Cairenes, carried in their hands huge
palm branches, intending to ornament therewith the tombs of parents and
friends. Yet, even on this solemn occasion, there is, they say, not a
little flirtation and love-making; parties of policemen are posted,
with orders to interrupt all such irregularities, with a long cane; but
their vigilance is notoriously unequal to the task. I could not help
observing that frequent pairs, doubtless cousins or other relations,
wandered to unusual distances among the sand-hills, and that sometimes
the confusion of a distant bastinado struck the ear. These trifles did
not, however, by any means interfere with the general joy. Every one
wore something new; most people were in the fresh suits of finery
intended to last through the year; and so strong is personal vanity in
the breasts of Orientals, men and women, young and old, that from Cairo
to Calcutta it would be difficult to find a sad heart under a handsome
coat. The men swaggered, the women minced their steps, rolled their
eyes, and were eternally arranging, and coquetting with their
head-veils. The little boys strutting about foully abused any one of
their number who might have a richer suit than his neighbours. And the
little girls ogled every one in the ecstacy of conceit, and glanced
contemptuously at other little girls their rivals.

Weary of the country, the Haji and I wandered about the city, paying
visits, which at this time are like new-year calls in continental
Europe. I can describe the

[p.117]operation of calling in Egypt only as the discussion of pipes
and coffee in one place, and of coffee and pipes in another. But on
this occasion, whenever we meet a friend we throw ourselves upon each
other's breast, placing right arms over left shoulders, and vice versa,
squeezing like wrestlers, with intermittent hugs, then laying cheek to
cheek delicately, at the same time making the loud noise of many kisses
in the air.[FN#3] The compliment of the season is, "Kull'am antum bil
khayr"-"Every year may you be well!"-in fact, our "Many happy returns
of the day!" After this come abundant good wishes, and kindly
prophecies; and from a "religious person" a blessing, and a short
prayer. To complete the resemblance between a Moslem and a Christian
festival, we have dishes of the day, fish, Shurayk, the cross-bun, and
a peculiarly indigestible cake, called in Egypt Kahk,[FN#4] the
plum-pudding of Al-Islam.

This year's Id was made gloomy, comparatively speaking, by the state of
politics. Report of war with Russia, with France, with England, who was
going to land three million men at Suez, and with Infideldom in
general, rang through Egypt, and the city of Mars[FN#5] became
unusually martial. The government armouries, arsenals, and
manufactories, were crowded with kidnapped workmen. Those who purposed
a pilgrimage feared forcible detention. Wherever men gathered together,
in the Mosques, for instance, or the coffee-houses, the police

[p.118]closed the doors, and made forcible capture of the able-bodied.
This proceeding, almost as barbarous as our impressment law, filled the
main streets with detachments of squalid-looking wretches, marching to
be made soldiers, with collars round their necks and irons on their
wrists. The dismal impression of the scene was deepened by crowds of
women, who, habited in mourning, and scattering dust and mud over their
rent garments, followed their sons, brothers, and husbands, with cries
and shrieks. The death-wail is a peculiar way of cheering on the
patriot departing pro patria mori, and the origin of the custom is
characteristic of the people. The principal public amusements allowed
to Oriental women are those that come under the general name of
"Fantasia,"-birth-feasts, marriage festivals, and funerals. And the
early campaigns of Mohammed Ali's family in Syria, and Al-Hijaz having,
in many cases, deprived the bereaved of their sex-right to "keen" for
the dead, they have now determined not to waste the opportunity, but to
revel in the luxury of woe at the live man's wake.[FN#6]

Another cloud hung over Cairo. Rumours of conspiracy were afloat. The
Jews and Christians,-here as ready to take alarm as the English in
Italy,-trembled at the fancied preparations for insurrection, massacre,
and plunder. And even the Moslems whispered that some hundred
desperadoes had resolved to fire the city, beginning with the bankers'
quarter, and to spoil the wealthy Egyptians. Of course H.H. Abbas Pasha
was absent at the time, and, even had he been at Cairo, his presence
would have been of little use: the ruler can do nothing

[p.119]towards restoring confidence to a panic-stricken Oriental nation.

At the end of the Id, as a counter-irritant to political excitement,
the police magistrates began to bully the people. There is a standing
order in the chief cities of Egypt, that all who stir abroad after dark
without a lantern shall pass the night in the station-house.[FN#7] But
at Cairo, in certain quarters, the Azbakiyah[FN#8] for instance, a
little laxity is usually allowed. Before I left the capital the licence
was withdrawn, and the sudden strictness caused many ludicrous scenes.

If by chance you (clad in Oriental garb) had sent on your lantern to a
friend's house by your servant, and had leisurely followed it five
minutes after the hour of eight, you were sure to be met, stopped,
collared, questioned, and captured by the patrol. You probably punched
three or four of them, but found the dozen too strong for you. Held
tightly by the sleeves, skirts, and collar of your wide outer garment,
you were hurried away on a plane of about nine inches above the ground,
your feet mostly treading the air. You were dragged along with a
rapidity which scarcely permitted you to answer strings of questions
concerning your name, nation, dwelling, faith, profession, and self in
general,-especially concerning the present state of your purse. If you
lent an ear to the voice of the charmer that began by asking a crown to
release you, and gradually came down to two-pence half-penny, you fell
into a simple trap; the butt-end of a musket applied a posteriori,
immediately after the transfer of property, convicted you of wilful
waste. But if, more sensibly, you pretended to have forgotten your
purse, you

[p.120]were reviled, and dragged with increased violence of shaking to
the office of the Zabit, or police magistrate. You were spun through
the large archway leading to the court, every fellow in uniform giving
you, as you passed, a Kafa, "cuff," on the back of the neck. Despite
your rage, you were forced up the stairs to a long gallery full of
people in a predicament like your own. Again your name, nation,-I
suppose you to be masquerading,-offence, and other particulars were
asked, and carefully noted in a folio by a ferocious-looking clerk. If
you knew no better, you were summarily thrust into the Hasil or
condemned cell, to pass the night with pickpockets or ruffians,
pell-mell. But if an adept in such matters, you insisted upon being
conducted before the "Pasha of the Night," and, the clerk fearing to
refuse, you were hurried to the great man's office, hoping for justice,
and dealing out ideal vengeance to your captors,-the patrol. Here you
found the dignitary sitting with pen, ink, and paper before him, and
pipe and coffee-cup in hand, upon a wide Diwan of dingy chintz, in a
large dimly-lit room, with two guards by his side, and a semi-circle of
recent seizures vociferating before him. When your turn came, you were
carefully collared, and led up to the presence, as if even at that
awful moment you were mutinously and murderously disposed. The Pasha,
looking at you with a vicious sneer, turned up his nose, ejaculated
"'Ajami," and prescribed the bastinado. You observed that the mere fact
of being a Persian did not give mankind a right to capture, imprison,
and punish you; you declared moreover that you were no Persian, but an
Indian under British protection. The Pasha, a man accustomed to
obedience, then stared at you, to frighten you, and you, we will
suppose, stared at him, till, with an oath, he turned to the patrol,
and asked them your offence. They all simultaneously swore-by
Allah!-that you had been found without a lantern, dead-drunk, beating
respectable people,

[p.121]breaking into houses, invading and robbing harims. You openly
told the Pasha that they were eating abominations; upon which he
directed one of his guards to smell your breath,-the charge of
drunkenness being tangible. The fellow, a comrade of your capturers,
advanced his nose to your lips; as might be expected, cried "Kikh,"
contorted his countenance, and answered, by the beard of
"Effendina[FN#9]" that he perceived a pestilent odour of distilled
waters. This announcement probably elicited a grim grin from the "Pasha
of the Night," who loves Curaçoa, and who is not indifferent to the
charms of Cognac. Then by his favour, for you improved the occasion,
you were allowed to spend the hours of darkness on a wooden bench, in
the adjacent long gallery, together with certain little parasites, for
which polite language has no name.[FN#10] In the morning the janissary
of your Consulate was sent for: he came, and claimed you; you were led
off criminally; again you gave your name and address, and if your
offence was merely sending on your lantern, you were dismissed with
advice to be more careful in future. And assuredly your first step was
towards the Hammam.

But if, on the other hand, you had declared yourself a European, you
would either have been dismissed at once, or sent to your Consul, who
is here judge, jury, and jailor. Egyptian authority has of late years
lost half its prestige. When Mr. Lane first settled at Cairo, all
Europeans accused of aggression against Moslems were, he tells us,
surrendered to the Turkish magistrates. Now, the native powers have no
jurisdiction over strangers,

[p.122]nor can the police enter their houses. If the West would raise
the character of its Eastern co-religionists, it will be forced to push
the system a point further, and to allow all bona-fide Christian
subjects to register their names at the different Consulates whose
protection they might prefer. This is what Russia has so "unwarrantably
and outrageously" attempted. We confine ourselves to a lesser
injustice, which deprives Eastern states of their right as independent
Powers to arrest, and to judge foreigners, who for interest or
convenience settle in their dominions. But we still shudder at the
right of arrogating any such claim over the born lieges of Oriental
Powers. What, however, would be the result were Great Britain to
authorise her sons resident at Paris, or Florence, to refuse attendance
at a French or an Italian court of justice, and to demand that the
police should never force the doors of an English subject? I commend
this consideration to all those who "stickle for abstract rights" when
the interest and progress of others are concerned, and who become
somewhat latitudinarian and concrete in cases where their own welfare
and aggrandisement are at stake.

Besides patients, I made some pleasant acquaintances at Cairo. Antun
Zananire, a young Syrian of considerable attainments as a linguist,
paid me the compliment of permitting me to see the fair face of his
"Harim." Mr. Hatchadur Nury, an Armenian gentleman, well known in
Bombay, amongst other acts of kindness, introduced me to one of his
compatriots, Khwajah Yusuf, whose advice was most useful to me. The
Khwajah had wandered far and wide, picking up everywhere some scrap of
strange knowledge, and his history was a romance. Expelled from Cairo
for a youthful peccadillo, he started upon his travels, qualified
himself for sanctity at Meccah and Al-Madinah, became a religious
beggar at Baghdad, studied French at Paris, and finally settled

[p.123]down as a professor of languages,[FN#11] under an amnesty, at
Cairo. In his house I saw an Armenian marriage. The occasion was
memorable: after the gloom and sameness of Moslem society, nothing
could be more gladdening than the unveiled face of a pretty woman. Some
of the guests were undeniably charming brunettes, with the blackest
possible locks, and the brightest conceivable eyes. Only one pretty
girl wore the national costume;[FN#12] yet they all smoked chibuks and
sat upon the Diwans, and, as they entered the room, they kissed with a
sweet simplicity the hands of the priest, and of the other old
gentlemen present.

Among the number of my acquaintances was a Meccan boy, Mohammed
al-Basyuni, from whom I bought the pilgrim-garb called "Al-Ihram" and
the Kafan or shroud, with which the Moslem usually starts upon such a
journey as mine. He, being in his way homewards after a visit to
Constantinople, was most anxious to accompany me in the character of a
"companion." But he had travelled too much to suit me; he had visited
India, he had seen Englishmen, and he had lived with the "Nawab Balu"
of Surat. Moreover, he showed signs of over-wisdom. He had been a
regular visitor, till I cured one of his friends of an ophthalmia,
after which

[p.124]he gave me his address at Meccah, and was seen no more. Haji
Wali described him and his party to be "Nas jarrar" (extractors), and
certainly he had not misjudged them. But the sequel will prove how der
Mensch denkt und Gott lenkt; and as the boy, Mohammed, eventually did
become my companion throughout the Pilgrimage, I will place him before
the reader as summarily as possible.

He is a beardless youth, of about eighteen, chocolate-brown, with high
features, and a bold profile; his bony and decided Meccan cast of face
is lit up by the peculiar Egyptian eye, which seems to descend from
generation to generation.[FN#13] His figure is short and broad, with a
tendency to be obese, the result of a strong stomach and the power of
sleeping at discretion. He can read a little, write his name, and is
uncommonly clever at a bargain. Meccah had taught him to speak
excellent Arabic, to understand the literary dialect, to be eloquent in
abuse, and to be profound at Prayer and Pilgrimage. Constantinople had
given him a taste for Anacreontic singing, and female society of the
questionable kind, a love of strong waters,-the hypocrite looked
positively scandalised when I first suggested the subject,-and an
off-hand latitudinarian mode of dealing with serious subjects in
general. I found him to be the youngest son of a widow, whose doting
fondness had moulded his disposition; he was selfish and affectionate,
as spoiled children usually are, volatile, easily offended and as
easily pacified (the Oriental), coveting other men's goods, and profuse
of his own (the Arab), with a matchless intrepidity of countenance (the
traveller), brazen lunged, not more than half brave, exceedingly
astute, with an acute sense of honour, especially where his

[p.125]relations were concerned (the individual). I have seen him in a
fit of fury because some one cursed his father; and he and I nearly
parted because on one occasion I applied to him an epithet which,
etymologically considered, might be exceedingly insulting to a
high-minded brother, but which in popular parlance signifies nothing.
This "point d'honneur" was the boy Mohammed's strong point.

During the Ramazan I laid in my stores for the journey. These consisted
of tea, coffee, loaf-sugar, rice, dates, biscuit, oil, vinegar,
tobacco, lanterns, and cooking pots, a small bell-shaped tent, costing
twelve shillings, and three water-skins for the Desert.[FN#14] The
provisions were placed in a "Kafas" or hamper artistically made of palm
sticks, and in a huge Sahharah, or wooden box, about three feet each
way, covered with leather or skin, and provided with a small lid
fitting into the top.[FN#15] The

[p.126]former, together with my green box containing medicines, and
saddle-bags full of clothes, hung on one side of the camel, a
counterpoise to the big Sahharah on the other flank; the Badawin, like
muleteers, always requiring a balance of weight. On the top of the load
was placed transversely a Shibriyah or cot, on which Shaykh Nur
squatted like a large crow. This worthy had strutted out into the
streets armed with a pair of horse-pistols and a sword almost as long
as himself. No sooner did the mischievous boys of Cairo-they are as bad
as the gamins of Paris and London-catch sight of him than they began to
scream with laughter at the sight of the "Hindi (Indian) in arms,"
till, like a vagrant owl pursued by a flight of larks, he ran back into
the Caravanserai.

Having spent all my ready money at Cairo, I was obliged to renew the
supply. My native acquaintances advised me to take at least eighty
pounds sterling, and considering the expense of outfit for Desert
travelling, the sum did not appear excessive. I should have found some
difficulty in raising the money had it not been for the kindness of a
friend at Alexandria, John Thurburn, now, I regret to say, no more, and
Mr. Sam Shepheard, then of Shepheard's Hotel, Cairo, presently a landed
proprietor near Rugby, and now also gone. My Indians scrutinised the
diminutive square of paper[FN#16]-the

[p.127]letter of credit-as a raven may sometimes be seen peering, with
head askance, into the interior of a suspected marrow-bone. "Can this
be a bona-fide draft?" they mentally inquired. And finally they
offered, politely, to write to England for me, to draw the money, and
to forward it in a sealed bag directed "Al-Madinah." I need scarcely
say that such a style of transmission would, in the case of precious
metals, have left no possible chance of its safe arrival. When the
difficulty was overcome, I bought fifty pounds' worth of German dollars
(Maria Theresas), and invested the rest in English and Turkish
sovereigns.[FN#17] The gold I myself carried; part of the silver I
sewed up in Shaykh Nur's leather waistbelt, and part was packed in the
boxes, for this reason,-when Badawin begin plundering a respectable
man, if they find a certain amount of ready money in his baggage, they
do not search his person. If they find none they proceed to a bodily
inspection, and if his waist-belt be empty they are rather disposed to
rip open his stomach, in the belief that he must have some peculiarly
ingenious way of secreting valuables. Having passed through this
trouble I immediately fell into another. My hardly-earned Alexandrian
passport required a double visa, one at the Police office, the other at
the Consul's. After returning to Egypt, I found it was the practice of

[p.128]who required any civility from Dr. Walne, then the English
official at Cairo, to enter the "Presence" furnished with an order from
the Foreign Office.

I had neglected the precaution, and had ample reason to regret having
done so. Failing at the British Consulate, and unwilling to leave Cairo
without being "en regle,"-the Egyptians warned me that Suez was a place
of obstacles to pilgrims,[FN#18]-I was obliged to look elsewhere for
protection. My friend Haji Wali was the first consulted; after a long
discussion he offered to take me to his Consul, the Persian, and to
find out for what sum I could become a temporary subject of the Shah.
We went to the sign of the "Lion and the Sun," and we found the
dragoman,[FN#19] a subtle Syrian Christian, who,

[p.129]after a rigid inquiry into the state of my purse (my country was
no consideration at all[FN#20]), introduced me to the Great Man. I have
described this personage once already, and he merits not a second
notice. The interview was truly ludicrous. He treated us with exceeding
hauteur, motioned me to sit almost out of hearing, and after rolling
his head in profound silence for nearly a quarter of an hour,
vouchsafed the information that though my father might be a Shirazi,
and my mother an Afghan, he had not the honour of my acquaintance. His
companion, a large old Persian with Polyphemean eyebrows and a mulberry
beard, put some gruff and discouraging questions. I quoted the verses

"He is a man who benefits his fellow men,
Not he who says ‘why?' and ‘wherefore?' and ‘how much?'"

upon which an imperious wave of the arm directed me to return to the
dragoman, who had the effrontery to ask me four pounds sterling for a
Persian passport. I offered one. He derided my offer, and I went away
perplexed. On my return to Cairo some months afterwards, he sent to say
that had he known me as an Englishman, I should have had the document
gratis,-a civility for which he was duly thanked.

At last my Shaykh Mohammed hit upon the plan. "Thou art," said he, "an
Afghan; I will fetch hither the principal of the Afghan college at the
Azhar, and he, if

[p.130]thou make it worth his while," (this in a whisper) "will be thy
friend." The case was looking desperate; my preceptor was urged to lose
no time.

Presently Shaykh Mohammed returned in company with the principal, a
little, thin, ragged-bearded, one-eyed, hare-lipped divine, dressed in
very dirty clothes, of nondescript cut. Born at Maskat of Afghan
parents, and brought up at Meccah, he was a kind of cosmopolite,
speaking five languages fluently, and full of reminiscences of toil and
travel. He refused pipes and coffee, professing to be ascetically
disposed: but he ate more than half my dinner, to reassure me, I
presume, should I have been fearful that abstinence might injure his
health. We then chatted in sundry tongues. I offered certain presents
of books, which were rejected (such articles being valueless), and the
Shaykh Abd al-Wahhab having expressed his satisfaction at my account of
myself, told me to call for him at the Azhar Mosque next Morning.

Accordingly at six P.M. Shaykh Mohammed and Abdullah Khan,[FN#21]-the
latter equipped in a gigantic sprigged-muslin turband, so as to pass
for a student of theology,-repaired to Al-Azhar. Passing through the
open quadrangle, we entered the large hall which forms the body of the
Mosque. In the northern wall was a dwarf door, leading by breakneck
stairs to a pigeon-hole, the study of the learned Afghan Shaykh. We
found him ensconced behind piles of musty and greasy manuscripts,
surrounded by scholars and scribes, with whom he was cheapening books.
He had not much business to transact; but long before he was ready, the
stifling atmosphere drove us out of the study, and we repaired to the
hall. Presently the Shaykh joined us, and we all rode on to the
citadel, and waited in a Mosque till the office hour struck. When the
doors were opened we went into the

[p.131]"Diwan," and sat patiently till the Shaykh found an opportunity
of putting in a word. The officials were two in number; one an old
invalid, very thin and sickly-looking, dressed in the Turco-European
style, whose hand was being severely kissed by a troop of religious
beggars, to whom he had done some small favours; the other was a stout
young clerk, whose duty it was to engross, and not to have his hand

My name and other essentials were required, and no objections were
offered, for who holier than the Shaykh Abd al-Wahhab ibn Yunus
al-Sulaymani? The clerk filled up a printed paper in the Turkish
language, apparent1y borrowed from the European method for spoiling the
traveller; certified me, upon the Shaykh's security, to be one
Abdullah, the son of Yusuf (Joseph), originally from Kabul, described
my person, and, in exchange for five piastres, handed me the document.
I received it with joy.

With bows, and benedictions, and many wishes that Allah might make it
the officials' fate to become pilgrims, we left the office, and
returned towards Al-Azhar. When we had nearly reached the Mosque,
Shaykh Mohammed lagged behind, and made the sign. I drew near the
Afghan, and asked for his hand. He took the hint, and muttering, "It is
no matter!"-"It is not necessary!"-"By Allah it is not required!"
extended his fingers, and brought the "musculus guineorum" to bear upon
three dollars.

Poor man! I believe it was his necessity that consented to be paid for
the doing a common act of Moslem charity; he had a wife and children,
and the calling of an Alim[FN#22] is no longer worth much in Egypt.

My departure from Cairo was hastened by an accident. I lost my
reputation by a little misfortune that happened in this wise.

[p.132]At Haji Wali's room in the Caravanserai, I met a Yuzbashi, or
captain of Albanian Irregulars, who was in Egypt on leave from
Al-Hijaz. He was a tall, bony, and broad-shouldered mountaineer, about
forty years old, with the large bombe brow, the fierce eyes, thin lips,
lean jaws, and peaky chin of his race. His mustachios were enormously
long and tapering, and the rest of his face, like his head, was close
shaven. His Fustan[FN#23] was none of the cleanest; nor was the red
cap, which he wore rakishly pulled over his frowning forehead, quite
free from stains. Not permitted to carry the favourite pistols, he
contented himself with sticking his right hand in the empty belt, and
stalking about the house with a most military mien. Yet he was as
little of a bully as carpet knight, that same Ali Agha; his body showed
many a grisly scar, and one of his shin bones had been broken by a
Turkish bullet, when he was playing tricks on the Albanian hills,-an
accident inducing a limp, which he attempted to conceal by a heavy
swagger. When he spoke, his voice was affectedly gruff; he had a sad
knack of sneering, and I never saw him thoroughly sober.

Our acquaintance began with a kind of storm, which blew over, and left
fine weather. I was showing Haji Wali my pistols with Damascene barrels
when Ali Agha entered the room. He sat down before me with a grin,
which said intelligibly enough, "What business have you with
weapons?"-snatched the arm out of my hand, and began to inspect it as a
connoisseur. Not admiring this procedure, I wrenched it away from him,
and, addressing myself to Haji Wali, proceeded quietly with my
dissertation. The captain of Irregulars and I then looked at each
other. He cocked his cap on one side, in token of excited pugnacity. I
twirled my moustachios to display a kindred emotion. Had he been armed,
and in Al-Hijaz,

[p.133]we should have fought it out at once, for the Arnauts are
"terribili colla pistola," as the Italians say, meaning that upon the
least provocation they pull out a horse-pistol, and fire it in the face
of friend or foe. Of course, the only way under these circumstances is
to anticipate them; but even this desperate prevention seldom saves a
stranger, as whenever there is danger, these men go about in pairs. I
never met with a more reckless brood. Upon the line of march Albanian
troops are not allowed ammunition; for otherwise there would be half a
dozen duels a day. When they quarrel over their cups, it is the fashion
for each man to draw a pistol, and to place it against his opponent's
breast. The weapons being kept accurately clean, seldom miss fire, and
if one combatant draw trigger before the other, he would immediately be
shot down by the bystanders.[FN#24] In Egypt these men,-who are used as
Irregulars, and are often quartered upon the hapless villagers, when
unable or unwilling to pay taxes,-were the terror of the population. On
many occasions they have quarrelled with foreigners, and insulted
European women. In Al-Hijaz their recklessness awes even the Badawin.
The townspeople say of them that, "tripe-sellers, and bath-servants, at
Stambul, they become Pharaohs (tyrants, ruffians,) in Arabia." At
Jeddah the Arnauts have amused themselves with firing at the English
Consul, Mr. Ogilvie, when he walked upon his terrace. And this
man-shooting appears a favourite sport with them: at Cairo numerous
stories illustrate the sang froid with which they used to knock over
the camel-drivers, if any one dared to ride past their barracks. The
Albanians vaunt their skill in using weapons, and their pretensions
impose upon Arabs as well as Egyptians; yet I have never found them
wonderful with any arm

[p.134](the pistol alone excepted); and our officers, who have visited
their native hills, speak of them as tolerable but by no means
first-rate rifle shots.

The captain of Irregulars being unhappily debarred the pleasure of
shooting me, after looking fierce for a time, rose, and walked
majestically out of the room. A day or two afterwards, he called upon
me civilly enough, sat down, drank a cup of coffee, smoked a pipe, and
began to converse. But as he knew about a hundred Arabic words, and I
as many Turkish, our conversation was carried on under difficulties.
Presently he asked me in a whisper for "'Araki."[FN#25] I replied that
there was none in the house, which induced a sneer and an ejaculation
sounding like "Himar," (ass,) the slang synonym amongst fast Moslems
for water-drinker. After rising to depart, he seized me waggishly, with
an eye to a trial of strength. Thinking that an Indian doctor and a
temperance man would not be very dangerous, he exposed himself to what
is professionally termed a "cross-buttock," and had his "nut" come in
contact with the stone floor instead of my bed, he might not have drunk
for many a day. The fall had a good effect upon his temper. He jumped

[p.135]patted my head, called for another pipe, and sat down to show me
his wounds, and to boast of his exploits. I could not help remarking a
ring of English gold, with a bezel of bloodstone, sitting strangely
upon his coarse, sun-stained hand. He declared that it had been
snatched by him from a Konsul (Consul) at Jeddah, and he volubly
related, in a mixture of Albanian, Turkish, and Arabic, the history of
his acquisition. He begged me to supply him with a little poison that
"would not lie," for the purpose of quieting a troublesome enemy, and
he carefully stowed away in his pouch five grains of calomel, which I
gave him for that laudable purpose. Before taking leave he pressed me
strongly to go and drink with him; I refused to do so during the day,
but, wishing to see how these men sacrifice to Bacchus, promised
compliance that night. About nine o'clock, when the Caravanserai was
quiet, I took a pipe, and a tobacco-pouch,[FN#26] stuck my dagger in my
belt, and slipped into Ali Agha's room. He was sitting on a bed spread
upon the ground: in front of him stood four wax candles (all Orientals
hate drinking in any but a bright light), and a tray containing a basin
of stuff like soup maigre, a dish of cold stewed meat, and two bowls of
Salatah,[FN#27] sliced cucumber, and curds. The "materials" peeped out
of an iron pot filled with water; one was a long, thin, white-glass
flask of 'Araki, the other a bottle of some strong

[p.136]perfume. Both were wrapped up in wet rags, the usual

Ali Agha welcomed me politely, and seeing me admire the preparations,
bade me beware how I suspected an Albanian of not knowing how to drink;
he made me sit by him on the bed, threw his dagger to a handy distance,
signalled me to do the same, and prepared to begin the bout. Taking up
a little tumbler, in shape like those from which French postilions used
to drink la goutte, he inspected it narrowly, wiped out the interior
with his forefinger, filled it to the brim, and offered it to his
guest[FN#28] with a bow. I received it with a low salam, swallowed its
contents at once, turned it upside down in proof of fair play, replaced
it upon the floor, with a jaunty movement of the arm, somewhat like a
pugilist delivering a "rounder," bowed again, and requested him to help
himself. The same ceremony followed on his part. Immediately after each
glass,-and rapidly the cup went about,-we swallowed a draught of water,
and ate a spoonful of the meat or the Salatah in order to cool our
palates. Then we re-applied ourselves to our pipes, emitting huge
puffs, a sign of being "fast" men, and looked facetiously at each
other,-drinking being considered by Moslems a funny and pleasant sort
of sin.

The Albanian captain was at least half seas over when we began the
bout, yet he continued to fill and to drain without showing the least
progress towards ebriety. I in vain for a time expected the bad-masti
(as the Persians call it,) the horse play, and the gross facetiae,
which generally

[p.137]accompany southern and eastern tipsiness. Ali Agha, indeed,
occasionally took up the bottle of perfume, filled the palm of his
right hand, and dashed it in my face: I followed his example, but our
pleasantries went no further.

Presently my companion started a grand project, namely, that I should
entice the respectable Haji Wali into the room, where we might force
him to drink. The idea was facetious; it was making a Bow-street
magistrate polk at a casino. I started up to fetch the Haji; and when I
returned with him Ali Agha was found in a new stage of "freshness." He
had stuck a green-leaved twig upright in the floor, and had so turned
over a gugglet of water, that its contents trickled slowly, in a tiny
stream under the verdure; whilst he was sitting before it mentally
gazing, with an outward show of grim Quixotic tenderness, upon the
shady trees and the cool rills of his fatherland. Possibly he had
peopled the place with "young barbarians at play;" for verily I thought
that a tear "which had no business there" was glistening in his stony

The appearance of Haji Wali suddenly changed the scene. Ali Agha jumped
up, seized the visitor by the shoulder, compelled him to sit down, and,
ecstasied by the old man's horror at the scene, filled a tumbler, and
with the usual grotesque grimaces insisted upon its being drunk off.
Haji Wali stoutly refused; then Ali Agha put it to his own lips, and
drained it, with a hurt feeling and reproachful aspect. We made our
unconvivial friend smoke a few puffs, and then we returned to the
charge. In vain the Haji protested that throughout life he had avoided
the deadly sin; in vain he promised to drink with us to-morrow,-in vain
he quoted the Koran, and alternately coaxed, and threatened us with the
police. We were inexorable. At last the Haji started upon his feet, and
rushed away, regardless of any thing but escape,

[p.138]leaving his Tarbush, his slippers, and his pipe, in the hands of
the enemy. The host did not dare to pursue his recreant guest beyond
the door, but returning he carefully sprinkled the polluting liquid on
the cap, pipe, and shoes, and called the Haji an ass in every tongue he

Then we applied ourselves to supper, and dispatched the soup, the stew,
and the Salatah. A few tumblers and pipes were exhausted to obviate
indigestion, when Ali Agha arose majestically, and said that he
required a troop of dancing girls to gladden his eyes with a ballet.

I represented that such persons are no longer admitted into
Caravanserais.[FN#29] He inquired, with calm ferocity, "who hath
forbidden it?" I replied "the Pasha;" upon which Ali Agha quietly
removed his cap, brushed it with his dexter fore-arm, fitted it on his
forehead, raking forwards, twisted his mustachios to the sharp point of
a single hair, shouldered his pipe, and moved towards the door, vowing
that he would make the Pasha himself come, and dance before us.

I foresaw a brawl, and felt thankful that my boon companion had
forgotten his dagger. Prudence whispered me to return to my room, to
bolt the door, and to go to bed, but conscience suggested that it would
be unfair to abandon the Albanian in his present helpless state. I
followed him into the outer gallery, pulling him, and begging him, as a
despairing wife might urge a drunken husband, to return home. And he,
like the British husband, being greatly irritated by the unjovial
advice, instantly belaboured with his pipe-stick[FN#30] the first person

[p.139]he met in the gallery, and sent him flying down the stairs with
fearful shouts of "O Egyptians! O ye accursed! O genus of Pharaoh! O
race of dogs! O Egyptians!"

He then burst open a door with his shoulder, and reeled into a room
where two aged dames were placidly reposing by the side of their
spouses, who were basket-makers. They immediately awoke, seeing a
stranger, and, hearing his foul words, they retorted with a hot volley
of vituperation.

Put to flight by the old women's tongues, Ali Agha, in spite of all my
endeavours, reeled down the stairs, and fell upon the sleeping form of
the night porter, whose blood he vowed to drink-the Oriental form of
threatening "spiflication." Happily for the assaulted, the Agha's
servant, a sturdy Albanian lad, was lying on a mat in the doorway close
by. Roused by the tumult, he jumped up, and found the captain in a
state of fury. Apparently the man was used to the master's mood.
Without delay he told us all to assist, and we lending a helping hand,
half dragged and half carried the Albanian to his room. Yet even in
this ignoble plight, he shouted with all the force of his lungs the old
war-cry, "O Egyptians! O race of dogs! I have dishonoured all
Sikandariyah-all Kahirah-all Suways.[FN#31]" And in this vaunting frame
of mind he was put to bed. No Welsh undergraduate at Oxford, under
similar circumstances, ever gave more trouble.

"You had better start on your pilgrimage at once,"

[p.140]said Haji Wali, meeting me the next morning with a "goguenard"

He was right. Throughout the Caravanserai nothing was talked of for
nearly a week but the wickedness of the captain of Albanian Irregulars,
and the hypocrisy of the staid Indian doctor. Thus it was, gentle
reader, that I lost my reputation of being a "serious person" at Cairo.
And all I have to show for it is the personal experience of an Albanian

I wasted but little time in taking leave of my friends, telling them,
by way of precaution, that my destination was Meccah via Jeddah, and
firmly determining, if possible, to make Al-Madinah via Yambu'.
"Conceal," says the Arab's proverb, "Thy Tenets, thy Treasure, and thy

[FN#1] Festival. It lasts the three first days of Shawwal, the month
immediately following Ramazan, and therefore, among Moslems,
corresponds with our Paschal holidays, which succeed Lent. It is called
the "Lesser Festival," the "Greater" being in Zu'l Hijjah, the
[FN#2] In Chap. V. of this Volume, I have mentioned this cemetery as
Burckhardt's last resting-place.
[FN#3] You are bound also to meet even your enemies in the most
friendly way-for which mortification you afterwards hate them more
cordially than before.
[FN#4] Persian.
[FN#5] With due deference to the many of a different opinion, I believe
"Kahirah" (corrupted through the Italian into Cairo) to mean, not the
"victorious," but the "City of Kahir," or Mars the Planet. It was so
called because, as Richardson has informed the world, it was founded in
A.D. 968 by one Jauhar, a Dalmatian renegade before mentioned, when the
warlike planet was in the ascendant.
[FN#6] "There were no weeping women; no neighhours came in to sit down
in the ashes, as they might have done had the soldier died at home;
there was no Nubian dance for the dead, no Egyptian song of the women
lauding the memory of the deceased, and beseeching him to tell why he
had left them alone in the world to weep."-(Letter from Widdin, March
25, 1854, describing a Turkish soldier's funeral.)
[FN#7] Captain Haines wisely introduced the custom into Aden. I wonder
that it is not made universal in the cities of India, where so much
iniquity is perpetrated under the shadow of night.
[FN#8] The reason being that respectable Europeans, and the passengers
by the Overland Mail, live and lodge in this quarter.
[FN#9] "Our lord," i.e. H.H. the Pasha. "Kikh" is an interjection
noting disapproval, or disgust.-"Fie!" or "Ugh!"
[FN#10] Shortly after the Ramazan of 1853, the Consul, I am told,
obtained an order that British subjects should be sent directly from
the police office, at all hours of the night, to the Consulate. This
was a most sensible measure.
[FN#11] Most Eastern nations, owing to their fine ear for sounds, are
quick at picking up languages; but the Armenian is here, what the
Russian is in the West, the facile princeps of conversational
linguists. I have frequently heard them speak with the purest accent,
and admirable phraseology, besides their mother tongue, Turkish,
Arabic, Persian, and Hindustani, nor do they evince less aptitude for
acquiring the Occidental languages.
[FN#12] It has been too frequently treated of, to leave room for a
fresh description. Though pretty and picturesque, it is open to the
reproach of Moslem dressing, namely, that the in-door toilette admits
of a display of bust, and is generally so scanty and flimsy that it is
unfit to meet the eye of a stranger. This, probably the effect of
secluding women, has now become a cause for concealing them.
[FN#13] He was from the banks of the Nile, as his cognomen, al-Basyuni
proves, but his family, I was told, had been settled for three or four
generations at Meccah.
[FN#14] Almost all the articles of food were so far useful, that they
served every one of the party at least as much as they did their owner.
My friends drank my coffee, smoked my tobacco, and ate my rice. I
bought better tea at Meccah than at Cairo, and found as good sugar
there. It would have been wiser to lay in a small stock merely for the
voyage to Yambu', in which case there might have been more economy. But
I followed the advice of those interested in setting me wrong. Turks
and Egyptians always go pilgrimaging with a large outfit, as notably as
the East-Indian cadet of the present day, and your outfitter at Cairo,
as well as Cornhill, is sure to supply you with a variety of
superfluities. The tent was useful to me; so were the water-skins,
which I preferred to barrels, as being more portable, and less liable
to leak. Good skins cost about a dollar each; they should be bought new
and always kept half full of water.
[FN#15] This shape secures the lid, which otherwise, on account of the
weight of the box, would infallibly be torn off, or burst open. Like
the Kafas, the Sahharah should be well padlocked, and if the owner be a
saving man, he does not entrust his keys to a servant. I gave away my
Kafas at Yambu', because it had been crushed during the sea-voyage, and
I was obliged to leave the Sahharah at Al-Madinah, as my Badawi
camel-shaykh positively refused to carry it to Meccah, so that both
these articles were well nigh useless to me. The Kafas cost four
shillings, and the Sahharah about twelve. When these large boxes are
really strong and good, they are worth about a pound sterling each.
[FN#16] At my final interview with the committee of the Royal
Geographical Society, one member, Sir Woodbine Parish, advised an order
to be made out on the Society's bankers; another, Sir Roderick
Murchison, kindly offered to give me one on his own, Coutts & Co.; but
I, having more experience in Oriental travelling, begged only to be
furnished with a diminutive piece of paper, permitting me to draw upon
the Society. It was at once given by Dr. Shaw, the Secretary, and it
proved of much use eventually. It was purposely made as small as
possible, in order to fit into a talisman case. But the traveller must
bear in mind, that if his letters of credit be addressed to Orientals,
the sheet of paper should always be large, and grand-looking. These
people have no faith in notes,-commercial, epistolary, or diplomatic.
[FN#17] Before leaving Cairo, I bought English sovereigns for 112, and
sold them in Arabia for 122 piastres. "Abu Takahs," (pataks, or Spanish
pillar-dollars), as they are called in Al-Hijaz, cost me 24 piastres,
and in the Holy City were worth 28. The "Sinku" (French five franc
piece) is bought for 22 piastres in Egypt, and sells at 24 in Arabia.
The silver Majidi costs 20 at Cairo, and is worth 22 in the Red Sea,
and finally I gained 3 piastres upon the gold "Ghazi" of 19. Such was
the rate of exchange in 1853. It varies, however, perpetually, and in
1863 may be totally different.
[FN#18] The reason of this will be explained in a future chapter.
[FN#19] The Consular dragoman is one of the greatest abuses I know. The
tribe is, for the most part, Levantine and Christian, and its
connections are extensive. The father will perhaps be interpreter to
the English, the son to the French Consulate. By this means the most
privy affairs will become known to every member of the department,
except the head, and eventually to that best of spy-trainers, the
Turkish government. This explains how a subordinate, whose pay is L200
per annum, and who spends double that sum, can afford, after twelve or
thirteen years' service, to purchase a house for L2,000 and to furnish
it for as much more. Besides which, the condition, the ideas, and the
very nature of these dragomans are completely Oriental. The most timid
and cringing of men, they dare not take the proper tone with a
government to which, in case of the expulsion of a Consul, they and
their families would become subject. And their prepossessions are
utterly Oriental. Hanna Massara, dragoman to the Consul-General at
Cairo, in my presence and before others, advocated the secret murder of
a Moslem girl who had fled with a Greek, on the grounds that an
adulteress must always be put to death, either publicly or under the
rose. Yet this man is an "old and tried servant" of the State. Such
evils might be in part mitigated by employing English youths, of whom
an ample supply, if there were any demand, would soon be forthcoming.
This measure has been advocated by the best authorities, but without
success. Most probably, the reason of the neglect is the difficulty how
to begin, or where to end, the Augean labour of Consular reform.
[FN#20] In a previous chapter I have alluded to the species of
protection formerly common in the East. Europe, it is to be feared, is
not yet immaculate in this respect, and men say that were a list of
"protected" furnished by the different Consulates at Cairo, it would be
a curious document. As no one, Egyptian or foreigner, would, if he
could possibly help it, be subject to the Egyptian government, large
sums might be raised by the simple process of naturalising strangers.
At the Persian Consulate 110 dollars-the century for the Consul, and
the decade for his dragoman-have been paid for protection. A stern fact
this for those who advocate the self-government of the childish East.
[FN#21] Khan is a title assumed in India and other countries by all
Afghans, and Pathans, their descendants, simple as well as gentle.
[FN#22] A theologian, a learned man.
[FN#23] The stiff, white, plaited kilt worn by Albanians.
[FN#24] Those curious about the manners of these desperadoes may
consult the pages of Giovanni Finati (Murray, London, 1830), and I will
be answerable that he exaggerates nothing.
[FN#25] Vulgarly Raki, the cognac of Egypt and Turkey. Generically the
word means any spirit; specifically, it is applied to that extracted
from dates, or dried grapes. The latter is more expensive than the
former, and costs from 5 to 7 piastres the bottle. It whitens the water
like Eau de Cologne, and being considered a stomachic, is patronised by
Europeans as much as by Asiatics. In the Azbakiyah gardens at Cairo,
the traveller is astonished by perpetual "shouts" for "Sciroppo di
gomma," as if all the Western population was afflicted with sore
throat. The reason is that spirituous liquors in a Moslem land must not
be sold in places of public resort; so the infidel asks for a "syrup of
gum," and obtains a "dram" of 'Araki. The favourite way of drinking it,
is to swallow it neat, and to wash it down with a mouthful of cold
water. Taken in this way it acts like the "petit verre d'absinthe."
Egyptian women delight in it, and Eastern topers of all classes and
sexes prefer it to brandy and cognac, the smell of which, being
strange, is offensive to them.
[FN#26] When Egyptians of the middle classes call upon one another, the
visitor always carries with him his tobacco-pouch, which he hands to
the servant, who fills his pipe.
[FN#27] The "Salatah" is made as follows. Take a cucumber, pare, slice
and place it in a plate, sprinkling it over with salt. After a few
minutes, season it abundantly with pepper, and put it in a bowl
containing some peppercorns, and about a pint of curds. When the dish
is properly mixed, a live coal is placed upon the top of the compound
to make it bind, as the Arabs say. It is considered a cooling dish, and
is esteemed by the abstemious, as well as by the toper.
[FN#28] These Albanians are at most half Asiatic as regards manner. In
the East generally, the host drinks of the cup, and dips his hand into
the dish before his guest, for the same reason that the master of the
house precedes his visitor over the threshold. Both actions denote that
no treachery is intended, and to reverse them, as amongst us, would be
a gross breach of custom, likely to excite the liveliest suspicions.
[FN#29] Formerly these places, like the coffee-houses, were crowded
with bad characters. Of late years the latter have been refused
admittance, but it would be as easy to bar the door to gnats and flies.
They appear as "foot-pages," as washerwomen, as beggars; in fact, they
evade the law with ingenuity and impunity.
[FN#30] Isma'il Pasha was murdered by Malik Nimr, chief of Shendy, for
striking him with a chibuk across the face. Travellers would do well to
remember, that in these lands the pipe-stick and the slipper disgrace a
man, whereas a whip or a rod would not do so. The probable reason of
this is, that the two articles of domestic use are applied slightingly,
not seriously, to the purposes of punishment.
[FN#31] Anglice, Alexandria, Cairo, and Suez,-an extensive field of



SHAYKH NASSAR, a Badawi of Tur (Mount Sinai,) being on his way
homewards, agreed to let me have two dromedaries for the sum of fifty
piastres, or about ten shillings, each.[FN#1] Being desirous to set out
with a certain display of respectability, I accepted these terms: a man
of humble pretensions would have travelled with a single animal, and a
camel-man running behind him. But, besides ostentation, I wanted my
attendant to be mounted, that we might make a forced march in order to
ascertain how much a four years' life of European effeminacy had
impaired my powers of endurance. The reader may believe the assertion
that there are few better tests than an eighty-four mile ride in
mid-summer, on a bad wooden saddle, borne by a worse dromedary, across
the Suez Desert. Even the Squire famed for being copper-sheeted might
not have disdained a trial of the kind.

I started my Indian boy and heavy luggage for Suez two days before the
end of the Id,-laden camels generally taking fifty-five or sixty hours
to do the journey, and I spent the intermediate time with Haji Wali. He
advised me to mount about 3 P.M., so that I might arrive at Suez on the
evening of the next day, and assisted me

[p.142]in making due preparations of water, tobacco, and provisions.
Early on the morning of departure the Afghan Shaykh came to the
Caravanserai, and breakfasted with us, "because Allah willed it." After
a copious meal he bestowed upon me a stately benediction, and would
have embraced me, but I humbly bent over his hand: sad to relate,
immediately that his back was turned, Haji Wali raised his forefinger
to a right angle with the palm (chaff), and burst into a shout of
irreverent laughter. At three o'clock Nassar, the Badawi, came to
announce that the dromedaries were saddled. I dressed myself, sticking
a pistol in my belt, and passing the crimson silk cord of the "Hamail"
or pocket Koran over my shoulder, in token of being a pilgrim. Then
distributing a few trifling presents to friends and servants, and
accompanied by the Shaykh Mohammed and Haji Wali, I descended the
stairs with an important gait. In the courtyard squatted the camels,
(dromedaries they could not be called,) and I found that a second
driver was going to accompany us. I objected to this, as the extra
Badawi would, of course, expect to be fed by me; but Nassar swore that
the man was his brother, and as you rarely gain by small disputes with
these people, he was allowed to have his own way.

Then came the preparatory leave-takings. Haji Wali embraced me
heartily, and so did my poor old Shaykh, who, despite his decrepitude
and my objections, insisted upon accompanying me to the city gate. I
mounted the camel, crossed my legs before the pommel-stirrups are not
used in Egypt[FN#2]-and, preceding my friend, descended

[p.143]the street leading towards the Desert. As we emerged from the
huge gateway of the Caravanserai all the bystanders, except only the
porter, who believed me to be a Persian, and had seen me with the
drunken captain, exclaimed, "Allah bless thee, Y'al-Hajj,[FN#3] and
restore thee to thy country and thy friends!" And passing through the
Bab al-Nasr, where I addressed the salutation of peace to the sentry,
and to the officer commanding the guard, both gave me God-speed with
great cordiality[FN#4]-the pilgrim's blessing in Asia, like the old
woman's in Europe, being supposed to possess peculiar efficacy. Outside
the gate my friends took a final leave of me, and I will not deny
having felt a tightening of heart as their honest faces and forms faded
in the distance.

But Shaykh Nassar switches his camel's shoulder, and appears inclined
to take the lead. This is a trial of manliness. There is no time for
emotion. Not a moment can be spared, even for a retrospect. I kick my
dromedary, who steps out into a jog-trot. The Badawin with a loud
ringing laugh attempt to give me the go-by. I resist, and we continue
like children till the camels are at their speed, though we have
eighty-four miles before us, and above us an atmosphere like a furnace
blast. The road is deserted at this hour, otherwise grave Moslem

[p.144]travellers would have believed the police to be nearer than
convenient to us.

Presently we drew rein, and exchanged our pace for one more seasonable,
whilst the sun began to tell on man and beast. High raised as we were
above the ground, the reflected heat struck us sensibly, and the glare
of a macadamized road added a few extra degrees of caloric.[FN#5] The
Badawin, to refresh themselves, prepare to smoke. They fill my chibuk,
light it with a flint and steel, and cotton dipped in a solution of
gunpowder, and pass it over to me.[FN#6] After a few puffs I return it
to them, and they use it turn by turn. Then they begin to while away
the tedium of the road by asking questions, which passe-temps is not
easily exhausted; for they are never satisfied till they know as much
of you as you do of yourself. They next resort to talking about
victuals; for with this hungry race, food, as a topic of conversation,
takes the place of money in happier lands. And lastly, even this
engrossing subject being exhausted for the moment,

[p.145]they take refuge in singing; and, monotonous and droning as it
is, their Modinha has yet an artless plaintiveness, which admirably
suits the singer and the scenery. If you listen to the words, you will
surely hear allusions to bright verdure, cool shades, bubbling rills,
or something which hereabouts man hath not, and yet which his soul

And now while Nassar and his brother are chaunting a duet,-the refrain

"W'al arz mablul bi matar,"
"And the earth wet with rain,"-

I must crave leave to say a few words, despite the triteness of the
subject, about the modern Sinaitic race of Arabs.

Besides the tribes occupying the northern parts of the peninsula, five
chief clans are enumerated by Burckhardt.[FN#7] Nassar, and other
authorities at Suez, divided them into six, namely:-

1. Karashi, who, like the Gara in Eastern Arabia, claim an apocryphal
origin from the great Koraysh tribe.
2. Salihi, the principal family of the Sinaitic Badawin.
3. Arimi: according to Burckhardt this clan is merely a sub-family of
the Sawalihahs.
4. Sa'idi. Burckhardt calls them Walad Sa'id and derives them also
from the Sawalihahs.
5. Aliki ; and lastly, the
6. Muzaynah, generally pronounced M'zaynah. This clan claims to be an
off-shoot from the great Juhaynah tribe inhabiting the coasts and inner
barrens about Yambu'. According to oral tradition, five persons, the
ancestors of the present Muzaynah race, were forced by a blood-feud to
fly their native country. They landed at the Shurum,[FN#8] or
creek-ports, and have now spread themselves

[p.146]over the Eastern parts of the so-called "Sinaitic" peninsula. In
Al-Hijaz the Muzaynah is an old and noble tribe. It produced Ka'ab
al-Ahbar, the celebrated poet, to whom Mohammed gave the cloak which
the Ottomans believe to have been taken by Sultan Salim from Egypt, and
to have been converted under the name of Khirkah Sharif, into the
national Oriflamme.

There are some interesting ethnographical points about these Sinaitic
clans-interesting at least to those who would trace the genealogy of
the great Arabian family. Any one who knows the Badawin can see that
the Muzaynah are pure blood. Their brows are broad, their faces narrow,
their features regular, and their eyes of a moderate size; whereas the
other Tawarah[FN#9] (Sinaitic) clans are as palpably Egyptian. They
have preserved that roundness of face which may still be seen in the
Sphinx as in the modern Copt, and their eyes have that peculiar size,
shape, and look, which the old Egyptian painters attempted to express
by giving to the profile, the form of the full, organ. Upon this
feature, so characteristic of the Nilotic race, I would lay great
stress. No traveller familiar with the true Egyptian eye,-long,
almond-shaped, deeply fringed, slightly raised at the outer corner and
dipping in front like the Chinese,[FN#10]-can ever mistake it. It is to
be seen in half-castes, and, as I have before remarked, families
originally from the banks of the Nile, but settled for generations in
the Holy Land of Al-Hijaz, retain the peculiarity.

I therefore believe the Turi Badawin to be an impure

[p.147]race, Syro-Egyptian,[FN#11] whereas their neighbour the Hijazi
is the pure Syrian or Mesopotamian.

A wonderful change has taken place in the Tawarah tribes, whilome
pourtrayed by Sir John Mandeville as "folke fulle of alle evylle
condiciouns." Niebuhr notes the trouble they gave him, and their
perpetual hankering for both murder and pillage. Even in the late
Mohammed Ali's early reign, no governor of Suez dared to flog, or to
lay hands upon, a Turi, whatever offence he might have committed within
the walls of the town. Now the Wild Man's sword is taken from him,
before he is allowed to enter the gates,[FN#12] and my old
acquaintance, Ja'afar Bey, would think no more of belabouring a Badawi
than of flogging a Fellah.[FN#13] such is the result of

[p.148]Mohammed Ali's vigorous policy, and such the effects of even
semi-civilisation, when its influence is brought to bear direct upon

To conclude this subject, the Tawarah still retain many characteristics
of the Badawi race. The most good-humoured and sociable of men, they
delight in a jest, and may readily be managed by kindness and courtesy.
Yet they are passionate, nice upon points of honour, revengeful, and
easily offended, where their peculiar prejudices are misunderstood. I
have always found them pleasant companions, and deserving of respect,
for their hearts are good, and their courage is beyond a doubt. Those
travellers who complain of their insolence and extortion may have been
either ignorant of their language or offensive to them by assumption of
superority,-in the Desert man meets man,-or physically unfitted to
acquire their esteem.

We journeyed on till near sunset through the wilderness without ennui.
It is strange how the mind can be amused by scenery that presents so
few objects to occupy it. But in such a country every slight
modification of form or colour rivets observation: the senses are
sharpened, and the perceptive faculties, prone to sleep over a confused
mass of natural objects, act vigorously when excited by the capability
of embracing each detail. Moreover, Desert views are eminently
suggestive; they

[p.149]appeal to the Future, not to the Past: they arouse because they
are by no means memorial. To the solitary wayfarer there is an interest
in the Wilderness unknown to Cape seas and Alpine glaciers, and even to
the rolling Prairie,-the effect of continued excitement on the mind,
stimulating its powers to their pitch. Above, through a sky terrible in
its stainless beauty, and the splendours of a pitiless blinding glare,
the Samun[FN#14] caresses you like a lion with flaming breath. Around
lie drifted sand-heaps, upon which each puff of wind leaves its trace
in solid waves, flayed rocks, the very skeletons of mountains, and hard
unbroken plains, over which he who rides is spurred by the idea that
the bursting of a water-skin, or the pricking of a camel's hoof, would
be a certain death of torture,-a haggard land infested with wild
beasts, and wilder men,-a region whose very fountains murmur the
warning words "Drink and away!" What can be more exciting? what more
sublime? Man's heart bounds in his breast at the thought of measuring
his puny force with Nature's might, and of emerging triumphant from the
trial. This explains the Arab's proverb, "Voyaging is victory." In the
Desert, even more than upon the ocean, there is present death: hardship
is there, and piracies, and shipwreck, solitary, not in crowds, where,
as the Persians say, "Death is a Festival";-and this sense of danger,
never absent, invests the scene of travel with an interest not its own.

Let the traveller who suspects exaggeration leave the Suez road for an
hour or two, and gallop northwards over the sands: in the drear
silence, the solitude, and the fantastic desolation of the place, he
will feel what the Desert may be.

And then the Oases,[FN#15] and little lines of fertility-

[p.150]how soft and how beautiful!-even though the Wady al-Ward (the
Vale of Flowers) be the name of some stern flat upon which a handful of
wild shrubs blossom while struggling through a cold season's ephemeral
existence. In such circumstances the mind is influenced through the
body. Though your mouth glows, and your skin is parched, yet you feel
no languor, the effect of humid heat; your lungs are lightened, your
sight brightens, your memory recovers its tone, and your spirits become
exuberant; your fancy and imagination are powerfully aroused, and the
wildness and sublimity of the scenes around you stir up all the
energies of your soul-whether for exertion, danger, or strife. Your
morale improves; you become frank and cordial, hospitable and
single-minded: the hypocritical politeness and the slavery of
civilisation are left behind you in the city. Your senses are
quickened: they require no stimulants but air and exercise,-in the
Desert spirituous liquors excite only disgust. There is a keen
enjoyment in mere animal existence. The sharp appetite disposes of the
most indigestible food;

[p.151]the sand is softer than a bed of down, and the purity of the air
suddenly puts to flight a dire cohort of diseases. Hence it is that
both sexes, and every age, the most material as well as the most
imaginative of minds, the tamest citizen, the parson, the old maid, the
peaceful student, the spoiled child of civilisation, all feel their
hearts dilate, and their pulses beat strong, as they look down from
their dromedaries upon the glorious Desert. Where do we hear of a
traveller being disappointed by it? It is another illustration of the
ancient truth that Nature returns to man, however unworthily he has
treated her. And believe me, when once your tastes have conformed to
the tranquillity of such travel, you will suffer real pain in returning
to the turmoil of civilisation. You will anticipate the bustle and the
confusion of artificial life, its luxury and its false pleasures, with
repugnance. Depressed in spirits, you will for a time after your return
feel incapable of mental or bodily exertion. The air of cities will
suffocate you, and the care-worn and cadaverous countenances of
citizens will haunt you like a vision of judgment.[FN#16]

As the black shadow mounted in the Eastern sky,[FN#17] I turned off the
road, and was suddenly saluted by a figure rising from a little hollow
with an "As' Salamu 'alaykum" of truly Arab sound.[FN#18] I looked at
the speaker for a moment without recognising him. He then advanced with
voluble expressions of joy, invited me to sup, seized

[p.152]my camel's halter without waiting for an answer, "nakh'd[FN#19]"
it (i.e. forced it to kneel), led me hurriedly to a carpet spread in a
sandy hollow, pulled off my slippers, gave me cold water for ablution,
told me that he had mistaken me at a distance for a "Sherif" (or
Prince) of the Arabs, but was delighted to find himself in error; and
urged me to hurry over ablution, otherwise that night would come on
before we could say our prayers. It was Mohammed al-Basyuni, the Meccan
boy of whom I had bought my pilgrim-garb at Cairo. There I had refused
his companionship, but here for reasons of his own-one of them was an
utter want of money,- he would take no excuse. When he prayed, he stood
behind me,[FN#20] thereby proving pliancy of conscience, for he
suspected me from the first of being at least a heretic.

After prayer he lighted a pipe, and immediately placed the snake-like
tube in my hand; this is an argument which the tired traveller can
rarely resist. He then began to rummage my saddle-bags; he drew forth
stores of provisions, rolls, water-melons, boiled eggs, and dates, and
whilst lighting the fire and boiling the coffee, he managed to
distribute his own stock, which was neither plentiful nor first-rate,
to the camel-men. Shaykh Nassar and his brother looked aghast at this
movement, but the boy was inexorable. They tried a few rough hints,
which he noticed by singing a Hindustani couplet that asserts the
impropriety of anointing rats' heads with jasmine oil. They suspected
abuse, and waxed cross; he acknowledged this by deriding them. "I have
heard of Nasrs and Nasirs and Mansurs, but may Allah spare me the

[p.153]mortification of a Nassar!" said the boy, relying upon my
support. And I urged him on, wanting to see how the city Arab treats
the countryman. He then took my tobacco-pouch from the angry Badawin,
and in a stage-whisper reproved me for entrusting it to such thieves;
insisting, at the same time, upon drinking all the coffee, so that the
poor guides had to prepare some for themselves. He improved every
opportunity of making mischief. "We have eaten water-melon!" cried
Nassar, patting its receptacle in token of repletion. "Dost thou hear,
my lord, how they grumble?-the impudent ruffians!" remarked
Mohammed-"We have eaten water-melon! that is to say, we ought to have
eaten meat!" The Badawin, completely out of temper, told him not to
trust himself among their hills. He seized a sword, and began capering
about after the fashion of the East-Indian school of arms, and boasted
that he would attack single-handed the whole clan, which elicited an
ironical "Allah! Allah!" from the hearers.

After an hour most amusingly spent in this way, I arose, and insisted
upon mounting, much to the dissatisfaction of my guides, who wished to
sleep there. Shaykh Nassar and his brother had reckoned upon living
gratis, for at least three days, judging it improbable that a soft
Effendi would hurry himself. When they saw the fair vision dissolve,
they began to finesse: they induced the camel-man, who ran by the side
of Mohammed's dromedary, to precede the animal-a favourite manoeuvre to
prevent overspeed. Ordered to fall back, the man pleaded fatigue, and
inability to walk. The boy Mohammed immediately asked if I had any
objection to dismount one of my guides, and to let his weary attendant
ride for an hour or so. I at once assented, and the Badawin obeyed me
with ominous grumblings. When we resumed our march the melancholy Arabs
had no song left in them; whereas Mohammed chaunted vociferously, and

[p.154]bad Hindustani and worse Persian till silence was forcibly
imposed upon him. The camel-men lagged behind, in order to prevent my
dromedary advancing too fast, and the boy's guide, after dismounting,
would stride along in front of us, under pretext of showing the way.
And so we jogged on, now walking, then trotting, till the dromedaries
began to grunt with fatigue, and the Arabs clamoured for a halt.

At midnight we reached the Central Station, and lay down under its
walls to take a little rest. The dews fell heavily, wetting the sheets
that covered us; but who cares for such trifles in the Desert? The moon
shone bright;[FN#21] the breeze blew coolly, and the jackal sang a
lullaby which lost no time in inducing the soundest sleep. As the
Wolf's Tail[FN#22] showed in the heavens we arose. Grey mists floating
over the hills northwards gave the Dar al-Bayda,[FN#23] the Pasha's
Palace, the look of some old feudal castle. There was a haze in the
atmosphere, which beautified even the face of Desolation. The swift
flying Kata[FN#24] sprang in noisy coveys from the road, and a stray
gazelle paced daintily over the stony plain. As we passed by the
Pilgrims' tree, I

[p.155]added another rag to its coat of tatters.[FN#25] We then invoked
the aid of the holy saint Al-Dakruri[FN#26] from his cream-coloured
abode, mounted our camels, and resumed the march in real earnest. The
dawn passed away in its delicious coolness, and sultry morning came on.
Then day glared in its fierceness, and the noontide sun made the plain
glow with terrible heat. Still we pressed onwards.

At 3 P.M. we turned off the road into a dry water-course, which is not
far from No. 13 Station. The sand was dotted with the dried-up leaves
of the Datura, and strongly perfumed by "Shih," a kind of Absinthe
(Artemisia),[FN#27] the sweetest herb of the Desert. A Mimosa was
there, and although its shade at this season is little better than

[p.156]a cocoa tree's,[FN#28] the Badawin would not neglect it. We lay
down upon the sand, to rest among a party of Maghrabi pilgrims
travelling to Suez. These wretches, who were about a dozen in number,
appeared to be of the lowest class; their garments consisted of a
Burnus-cloak and a pair of sandals; their sole weapon a long knife, and
their only stock a bag of dry provisions. Each had his large wooden
bowl, but none carried water with him. It was impossible to help
pitying their state, nor could I eat, seeing them hungry, thirsty, and
way-worn. So Nassar served out about a pint of water and a little bread
to each man. Then they asked for more. None was to be had, so they
cried out that money would do as well. I had determined upon being
generous to the extent of a few pence. Custom, as well as inclination,
was in favour of the act; but when the alms became a demand, and the
demand was backed by fierce looks and a derisive sneer, and a kind of
reference to their knives, gentle Charity took the alarm and fled. My
pistols kept them at bay, for they were only making an attempt to
intimidate, and, though I took the precaution of sitting apart from
them, there was no real danger. The Suez road, by the wise regulations
of Mohammed Ali, has become as safe to European travellers as that
between Hampstead and Highgate; and even Easterns have little to fear
but what their fears create. My Indian servant was full of the dangers
he had run, but I did not believe in them. I afterwards heard that the
place where the Maghrabis attempted to frighten what they thought a
timid Turk was notorious for plunder and murder. Here the spurs of two
opposite hills almost meet upon the plain, a favourable ground for
Badawi ambuscade. Of the Maghrabis

[p.157]I shall have more to say when relating my voyage in the Pilgrim
Ship: they were the only travellers from whom we experienced the least
annoyance. Numerous parties of Turks, Arabs, and Afghans, and a few
East-Indians[FN#29] were on the same errand as ourselves. All, as we
passed them, welcomed us with the friendly salutation that becomes men
engaged in a labour of religion.

About half an hour before sunset, I turned off the road leftwards; and,
under pretext of watering the dromedaries, rode up to inspect the fort
Al-'Ajrudi.[FN#30] It is a quadrangle with round towers at the gateway
and at the corners, newly built of stone and mortar; the material is
already full of crevices, and would not stand before a twelve-pounder.
Without guns or gunners, it is occupied by about a dozen Fellahs, who
act as hereditary "Ghafirs," (guardians); they were expecting at that
time to be reinforced by a party of Bashi Buzuks-Irregulars from Cairo.
The people of the country were determined that an English fleet would
soon appear in the Red Sea, and this fort is by them ridiculously
considered the key of Suez. As usual in these Vauban-lacking

[p.158]lands, the well supplying the stronghold is in a detached and
distant building, which can be approached by an enemy with the greatest
security. Over the gate-way was an ancient inscription reversed; the
water was brackish, and of bad quality.[FN#31]

We resumed our way: Suez now stood near. In the blue distance rose the
castellated peaks of Jabal Rahah and the wide sand-tracts over which
lies the land-route to Al-Hijaz. Before us the sight ever dear to
English eyes,-a strip of sea gloriously azure, with a gallant steamer
walking the waters. On the right-hand side the broad slopes of Jabal
Mukattam, a range of hills which flanks the road all the way from
Cairo. It was at this hour a spectacle not easily to be forgotten. The
near range of chalk and sandstone wore a russet suit, gilt where the
last rays of the sun seamed it with light, and the deep folds were
shaded with the richest purple; whilst the background of the higher
hills, Jabal Tawari, generally known as Abu Daraj (the Father of
Steps), was sky-blue streaked with the lightest plum colour. We drew up
at a small building called Bir Suways (Well of Suez); and, under
pretext of watering the cattle, I sat for half an hour admiring the
charms of the Desert. The eye never tires of such loveliness of hue,
and the memory of the hideousness of this range, when a sun in front
exposed each gaunt and barren feature, supplied the evening view with
another element of attraction.

It was already night when we passed through the tumbling six-windowed
gateway of Suez; and still remained the task of finding my servant and
effects. After

[p.159]wandering in and out of every Wakalah in the village, during
which peregrination the boy Mohammed proved himself so useful that I
determined at all risks to make him my companion, we accidentally heard
that a Hindi had taken lodgings at a hostelry bearing the name of
Jirjis al-Zahr.[FN#32] On arriving there our satisfaction was
diminished by the intelligence that the same Hindi, after locking the
door, had gone out with his friends to a ship in the harbour; in fact,
that he had made all preparations for running away. I dismounted, and
tried to persuade the porter to break open the wooden bolt, but he
absolutely refused, and threatened the police. Meanwhile Mohammed had
found a party of friends, men of Al-Madinah, returning to the
pilgrimage after a begging tour through Egypt and Turkey. The meeting
was characterised by vociferous inquiries, loud guffaws and warm
embraces. I was invited to share their supper and their dormitory,-an
uncovered platform projecting from the gallery over the square court
below,-but I had neither appetite nor spirits enough to be sociable.
The porter, after much persuasion, showed me an empty room, in which I
spread my carpet. That was a sad night. My eighty-four mile ride had
made every bone ache; I had lost epidermis, and the sun had seared
every portion of skin exposed to it. So, lamenting my degeneracy and
the ill effects of four years' domicile in Europe, and equally
disquieted in mind about the fate of my goods and chattels, I fell into
an uncomfortable sleep.

[FN#l] The proper hire of a return dromedary from Cairo to Suez is
forty piastres. But every man is charged in proportion to his rank, and
Europeans generally pay about double.
[FN#2] The tender traveller had better provide himself with a pair of
stirrups, but he will often find, when on camel back, that his legs are
more numbed by hanging down, than by the Arab way of crossing them
before and beneath the pommel. He must, however, be careful to inspect
his saddle, and, should bars of wood not suit him, to have them covered
with stuffed leather. And again, for my part, I would prefer riding a
camel with a nose-ring,-Mongol and Sindian fashion,-to holding him, as
the Egyptians do, with a halter, or to guiding him,-Wahhabiwise,-with a
[FN#3] "O pilgrim!" The Egyptians write the word Hajj, and pronounce
Hagg. In Persia, India, and Turkey, it becomes Haji. These are mere
varieties of form, derived from one and the same Arabic root.
[FN#4] The Egyptians and Arabs will not address "Salam" to an infidel;
the Moslems of India have no such objection. This, on the banks of the
Nile, is the revival of an old prejudice. Alexander of Alexandria, in
his circular letter, describes the Arian heretics as "men whom it is
not lawful to salute, or to bid God-speed."
[FN#5] It is Prince Puckler Muskau, if I recollect rightly, who
mentions that in his case a pair of dark spectacles produced a marked
difference of apparent temperature, whilst travelling over the sultry
sand of the Desert. I have often remarked the same phenomenon. The
Arabs, doubtless for some reason of the kind, always draw their
head-kerchiefs, like hoods, far over their brows, and cover up their
mouths, even when the sun and wind are behind them. Inhabitants of the
Desert are to be recognised by the net-work of wrinkles traced in the
skin round the orbits, the result of half-closing their eyelids; but
this is done to temper the intensity of the light.
[FN#6] Their own pipe-tubes were of coarse wood, in shape somewhat
resembling the German porcelain pipe. The bowl was of soft stone,
apparently steatite, which, when fresh, is easily fashioned with a
knife. In Arabia the Badawin, and even the townspeople, use on journeys
an earthen tube from five to six inches shorter than the English
"clay," thicker in the tube, with a large bowl, and coloured
yellowish-red. It contains a handful of tobacco, and the smoker emits
puffs like a chimney. In some of these articles the bowl forms a
rectangle with the tube; in others, the whole is an unbroken curve,
like the old Turkish Meerschaum.
[FN#7] See Wallin's papers, published in the Journals of the Royal
Geographical Society.
[FN#8] Shurum, (plural of Sharm, a creek), a word prefixed to the
proper names of three small ports in the Sinaitic peninsula.
[FN#9] Tawarah, plural of Turi, an inhabitant of Tur or Sinai.
[FN#10] This feature did not escape the practised eye of Denon. "Eyes
long, almond-shaped, half shut, and languishing, and turned up at the
outer corner, as if habitually fatigued by the light and heat of the
sun; cheeks round, &c.," (Voyage en Egypt). The learned Frenchman's
description of the ancient Egyptians applies in most points to the Turi
[FN#11] "And he" (Ishmael) "dwelt in the wilderness of Paran," (Wady
Firan?) "and his mother took him a wife, out of the land of Egypt,"
(Gen. xxi. 21). I wonder that some geographers have attempted to
identify Massa, the son of Ishmael, (Gen. xxv. 14), with Meccah, when
in verse 18 of the same chapter we read, "And they" (the twelve
princes, sons of Ishmael) "dwelt from Havilah unto Shur." This asserts,
as clearly as language can, that the posterity of, or the race typified
by, Ishmael,-the Syro-Egyptian,-occupied only the northern parts of the
peninsula. Their habitat is not even included in Arabia by those
writers who bound the country on the north by an imaginary line drawn
from Ras Mohammed to the mouths of the Euphrates. The late Dr. J.
Wilson ("Lands of the Bible"), repeated by Eliot Warburton ("Crescent
and Cross"), lays stress upon the Tawarah tradition, that they are Benu
Isra'il converted to Al-Islam, considering it a fulfilment of the
prophecy, "that a remnant of Israel shall dwell in Edom." With due
deference to so illustrious an Orientalist and Biblical scholar as was
Dr. Wilson, I believe that most modern Moslems, being ignorant that
Jacob was the first called "prince with God," apply the term
Benu-Isra'il to all the posterity of Abraham, not to Jews only.
[FN#12] In 1879 the Gates of Suez are a thing of the past; and it is
not easy to find where they formerly stood.
[FN#13] In the mouth of a Turk, no epithet is more contemptuous than
that of "Fellah ibn Fellah,"-"boor, son of a boor!" The Osmanlis have,
as usual, a semi-religious tradition to account for the superiority of
their nation over the Egyptians. When the learned doctor, Abu Abdullah
Mohammed bin Idris al-Shafe'i, returned from Meccah to the banks of the
Nile, he mounted, it is said, a donkey belonging to one of the Asinarii
of Bulak. Arriving at the Caravanserai, he gave the man ample fare,
whereupon the Egyptian, putting forth his hand, and saying, "hat"
(give!) called for more. The doctor doubled the fee; still the double
was demanded. At last the divine's purse was exhausted, and the
proprietor of the donkey waxed insolent. A wandering Turk seeing this,
took all the money from the Egyptian, paid him his due, solemnly kicked
him, and returned the rest to Al-Shafe'i, who asked him his
name-"Osman"-and his nation-the "Osmanli,"-blessed him, and prophesied
to his countrymen supremacy over the Fellahs and donkey boys of Egypt.
[FN#14] From Samm, the poison-wind. Vulgar and most erroneously called
the Simoon.
[FN#15] Hugh Murray derives this word from the Egyptian, and quoting
Strabo and Abulfeda makes it synonymous with Auasis and Hyasis. I
believe it to be a mere corruption of the Arabic Wady [Arabic text] or
Wah. Nothing can be more incorrect than the vulgar idea of an Arabian
Oasis, except it be the popular conception of an Arabian Desert. One
reads of "isles of the sandy sea," but one never sees them. The real
"Wady" is, generally speaking, a rocky valley bisected by the bed of a
mountain torrent, dry during the hot season. In such places the Badawin
love to encamp, because they find food and drink,-water being always
procurable by digging. When the supply is perennial, the Wady becomes
the site of a village. The Desert is as unaptly compared to a "sandy
sea." Most of the wilds of Arabia resemble the tract between Suez and
Cairo; only the former are of primary formation, whereas the others are
of a later date. Sand-heaps are found in every Desert, but sand-plains
are a local feature, not the general face of the country. The
Wilderness, east of the Nile, is mostly a hard dry earth, which
requires only a monsoon to become highly productive: even where
silicious sand covers the plain, the waters of a torrent, depositing
humus or vegetable mould, bind the particles together, and fit it for
the reception of seed.
[FN#16] The intelligent reader will easily understand that I am
speaking of the Desert in the temperate season, not during the summer
heats, when the whole is one vast furnace, nor in winter, when the
Sarsar wind cuts like an Italian Tramontana.
[FN#17] This, as a general rule in Al-Islam, is a sign that the Maghrib
or evening prayer must not be delayed. The Shafe'i school performs its
devotions immediately after the sun has disappeared.
[FN#18] This salutation of peace is so differently pronounced by every
Eastern nation that the observing traveller will easily make of it a
[FN#19] To "nakh" in vulgar, as in classical, Arabic is to gurgle "Ikh!
ikh!" in the bottom of one's throat till the camel kneels down. We have
no English word for this proceeding; but Anglo-Oriental travellers are
rapidly naturalising the "nakh."

[FN#20] There are many qualifications necessary for an Imam-a leader of
prayer; the first condition, of course, is orthodoxy.
[FN#21] "The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night,"
(Psalm cxxi. 6). Easterns still believe firmly in the evil effects of
moonlight upon the human frame,-from Sind to Abyssinia, the traveller
will hear tales of wonder concerning it.
[FN#22] The Dum i Gurg, or wolf's tail, is the Persian name for the
first brushes of grey light which appear as forerunners of dawn.
[FN#23] Dar al-Bayda is a palace belonging to H.H. Abbas Pasha. This
"white house" was formerly called the "red house," I believe from the
colour of its windows,-but the name was changed, as being not
particularly good-omened.
[FN#24] The Tetrao Kata or sand-grouse, (Pterocles melanogaster; in
Sind called the rock pigeon), is a fast-flying bird, not unlike a grey
partridge whilst upon the wing. When, therefore, Shanfara boasts "The
ash-coloured Katas can only drink my leavings, after hastening all
night to slake their thirst in the morning," it is a hyperbole to
express exceeding swiftness.
[FN#25] I have already, when writing upon the subject of Sind, alluded
to this system as prevalent throughout Al-Islam, and professed, like
Mr. Lane, ignorance of its origin and object. In Huc's travels, we are
told that the Tartars worship mountain spirits by raising an "Obo,"-dry
branches hung with bones and strips of cloth, and planted in enormous
heaps of stones. Park, also, in Western Africa, conformed to the
example of his companions, in adding a charm or shred of cloth on a
tree (at the entrance of the Wilderness), which was completely covered
with these guardian symbols. And, finally, the Tarikh Tabari mentions
it as a practice of the Pagan Arabs, and talks of evil spirits residing
in the date-tree. May not, then, the practice in Al-Islam be one of the
many debris of fetish-worship which entered into the heterogeneous
formation of the Saving Faith? Some believe that the Prophet permitted
the practice, and explain the peculiar name of the expedition called
Zat al-Rika'a (place of shreds of cloth), by supposing it to be a term
for a tree to which the Moslems hung their ex-voto rags.
[FN#26] The saint lies under a little white-washed dome, springing from
a square of low walls-a form of sepulchre now common to Al-Hijaz,
Egypt, and the shores and islands of the Red Sea. As regards his name
my informants told me it was that of a Hijazi Shaykh. The subject is by
no means interesting; but the exact traveller will find the word
written Takroore, and otherwise explained by Sir Gardner Wilkinson.
[FN#27] Called by the Arabs Shih [Arabic text], which the dictionaries
translate "wormwood of Pontus." We find Wallin in his works speaking of
Ferashat al-shih, or wormwood carpets.
[FN#28] We are told in verse of "a cocoa's feathery shade," and sous
l'ombre d'un cocotier. But to realise the prose picture, let the home
reader, choosing some sultry August day, fasten a large fan to a long
pole, and enjoy himself under it.
[FN#29] On a subsequent occasion, I met a party of Panjabis, who had
walked from Meccah to Cairo in search of "Abu Tabilah," (General
Avitabile), whom report had led to the banks of the Nile. Some were
young, others had white beards-all were weary and wayworn; but the
saddest sight was an old woman, so decrepit that she could scarcely
walk. The poor fellows were travelling on foot, carrying their wallets,
with a few pence in their pockets, utterly ignorant of route and road,
and actually determined in this plight to make Lahore by Baghdad,
Bushir, and Karachi. Such-so incredible-is Indian improvidence!
[FN#30] Upon this word Cacography has done her worst-"Haji Rood" may
serve for a specimen. My informants told me that Al-'Ajrudi is the name
of a Hijazi Shaykh whose mortal remains repose under a little dome near
the fort. This, if it be true, completely nullifies the efforts of
Etymology to discern in it a distinct allusion to "the overthrow of
Pharaoh's chariots, whose Hebrew appellation, ‘Ageloot,' bears some
resemblance to this modern name."
[FN#31] The only sweet water in Suez is brought on camel back from the
Nile, across the Desert. The "Bir Suez" is fit for beasts only; the
'Uyun Musa (Moses' Wells) on the Eastern side, and that below Abu
Daraj, on the Western shore of the Suez Gulf, are but little better.
The want of sweet water is the reason why no Hammam is found at Suez.
[FN#32] The "George": so called after its owner, a Copt, Consular Agent
for Belgium. There are 36 Caravanserais at Suez, 33 small ones for
merchandise, and 3 for travellers; of these the best is that of Sayyid
Hashim. The pilgrim, however, must not expect much comfort or
convenience, even at Sayyid Hashim's.

[p.160]CHAPTER IX.


EARLY on the morning after my arrival, I arose, and consulted my new
acquaintances about the means of recovering the missing property. They
unanimously advised a visit to the governor, whom, however, they
described to be a "Kalb ibn kalb," (dog, son of a dog,) who never
returned Moslems' salutations, and who thought all men dirt to be
trodden under foot by the Turks. The boy Mohammed showed his savoir
faire by extracting from his huge Sahara-box a fine embroidered cap,
and a grand peach-coloured coat, with which I was instantly invested;
he dressed himself with similar magnificence, and we then set out to
the "palace."

Ja'afar Bey,-he has since been deposed,-then occupied the position of
judge, officer commanding, collector of customs, and magistrate of
Suez. He was a Mir-liwa, or brigadier-general, and had some reputation
as a soldier, together with a slight tincture of European science and
language. The large old Turk received me most superciliously, disdained
all return of salam, and, fixing upon me two little eyes like gimlets,
demanded my business. I stated that one Shaykh Nur, my Hindi servant,
had played me false; therefore I required permission to break into the
room supposed to contain my effects. He asked my profession. I replied
the medical. This led him to inquire if I had any medicine for the
eyes, and

[p.161]being answered in the affirmative, he sent a messenger with me
to enforce obedience on the part of the porter. The obnoxious measure
was, however, unnecessary. As we entered the Caravanserai, there
appeared at the door the black face of Shaykh Nur, looking, though
accompanied by sundry fellow-countrymen, uncommonly as if he merited
and expected the bamboo. He had, by his own account, been seduced into
the festivities of a coal-hulk, manned by Lascars, and the vehemence of
his self-accusation saved him from the chastisement which I had
determined to administer.

I must now briefly describe the party of Meccah and Madinah men into
which fate threw me: their names will so frequently appear in the
following pages, that a few words about their natures will not be

First of all comes Omar Effendi,-so called in honour,-a Daghistani or
East-Circassian, the grandson of a Hanafi Mufti at Al-Madinah, and the
son of a Shaykh Rakb, an officer whose duty it is to lead
dromedary-caravans. He sits upon his cot, a small, short, plump body,
of yellow complexion and bilious temperament, grey-eyed, soft-featured,
and utterly beardless,-which affects his feelings,-he looks fifteen,
and he owns to twenty-eight. His manners are those of a student; he
dresses respectably, prays regularly, hates the fair sex, like an Arab,
whose affections and aversions are always in extremes; is "serious,"
has a mild demeanour, an humble gait, and a soft, slow voice. When
roused he becomes furious as a Bengal tiger. His parents have urged him
to marry, and he, like Kamar al-Zaman, has informed his father that he
is "a person of great age, but little sense." Urged moreover by a
melancholy turn of mind, and the want of leisure for study at
Al-Madinah, he fled the paternal domicile, and entered himself a pauper
Talib 'ilm (student) in the Azhar Mosque. His disconsolate friends and
afflicted relations sent a confidential man to fetch him home, by

[p.162]force should it be necessary; he has yielded, and is now
awaiting the first opportunity of travelling gratis, if possible, to

That confidential man is a negro-servant, called Sa'ad, notorious in
his native city as Al-Jinni, the Demon. Born and bred a slave in Omar
Effendi's family, he obtained manumission, became a soldier in
Al-Hijaz, was dissatisfied with pay perpetually in arrears, turned
merchant, and wandered far and wide, to Russia, to Gibraltar, and to
Baghdad. He is the pure African, noisily merry at one moment, at
another silently sulky; affectionate and abusive, brave and boastful,
reckless and crafty, exceedingly quarrelsome, and unscrupulous to the
last degree. The bright side of his character is his love and respect
for the young master, Omar Effendi; yet even him he will scold in a
paroxysm of fury, and steal from him whatever he can lay his hands on.
He is generous with his goods, but is ever borrowing and never paying
money; he dresses like a beggar, with the dirtiest Tarbush upon his
tufty poll, and only a cotton shirt over his sooty skin; whilst his two
boxes are full of handsome apparel for himself and the three ladies,
his wives, at Al-Madinah. He knows no fear but for those boxes.
Frequently during our search for a vessel he forced himself into
Ja'afar Bey's presence, and there he demeaned himself so impudently,
that we expected to see him lamed by the bastinado; his forwardness,
however, only amused the dignitary. He wanders all day about the bazar,
talking about freight and passage, for he has resolved, cost what it
will, to travel free, and, with doggedness like his, he must succeed.

Shaykh Hamid al-Samman derives his cognomen, the
"Clarified-Butter-Seller," from a celebrated saint and Sufi of the
Kadiriyah order, who left a long line of holy descendants at
Al-Madinah. This Shaykh squats upon a box full of presents for the
"daughter of his paternal uncle"

[p.163](his wife), a perfect specimen of the town Arab. His poll is
crowned with a rough Shushah or tuft of hair[FN#1]; his face is of a
dirty brown, his little goatee straggles untrimmed; his feet are bare,
and his only garment is an exceedingly unclean ochre-coloured blouse,
tucked into a leathern girdle beneath it. He will not pray, because he
is unwilling to take pure clothes out of his box; but he smokes when he
can get other people's tobacco, and groans between the whiffs,
conjugating the verb all day, for he is of active mind. He can pick out
his letters, and he keeps in his bosom a little dog's-eared MS. full of
serious romances and silly prayers, old and exceedingly ill written;
this he will draw forth at times, peep into for a moment, devoutly
kiss, and restore to its proper place with the veneration of the vulgar
for a book. He can sing all manner of songs, slaughter a sheep with
dexterity, deliver a grand call to prayer, shave, cook, fight; and he
excels in the science of vituperation: like Sa'ad, he never performs
his devotions, except

[p.164]when necessary to "keep up appearances," and though he has sworn
to perish before he forgets his vow to the "daughter of his uncle," I
shrewdly suspect he is no better than he should be. His brow crumples
at the word wine, but there is quite another expression about the
region of the mouth; Stambul, where he has lived some months, without
learning ten words of Turkish, is a notable place for displacing
prejudice. And finally, he has not more than a piastre or two in his
pocket, for he has squandered the large presents given to him at Cairo
and Constantinople by noble ladies, to whom he acted as master of the
ceremonies at the tomb of the Apostle.

Stretched on a carpet, smoking a Persian Kaliun all day, lies Salih
Shakkar, a Turk on the father's, and an Arab on the mother's side, born
at Al-Madinah. This lanky youth may be sixteen years old, but he has
the ideas of forty-six; he is thoroughly greedy, selfish, and
ungenerous; coldly supercilious as a Turk, and energetically avaricious
as an Arab. He prays more often, and dresses more respectably, than the
descendant of the Clarified-Butter-Seller; he affects the
Constantinople style of toilette, and his light yellow complexion makes
people consider him a "superior person." We were intimate enough on the
road, when he borrowed from me a little money. But at Al-Madinah he cut
me pitilessly, as a "town man" does a continental acquaintance
accidentally met in Hyde Park; and of course he tried, though in vain,
to evade repaying his debt. He had a tincture of letters, and appeared
to have studied critically the subject of "largesse." "The Generous is
Allah's friend, aye, though he be a Sinner, and the Miser is Allah's
Foe, aye, though he be a Saint," was a venerable saying always in his
mouth. He also informed me that Pharaoh, although the quintessence of
impiety, is mentioned by name in the Koran, by reason of his
liberality; whereas Nimrod, another monster of iniquity, is only
alluded to, because

[p.165]he was a stingy tyrant. It is almost needless to declare that
Salih Shakkar was, as the East-Indians say, a very "fly-sucker.[FN#2]"
There were two other men of Al-Madinah in the Wakalah Jirgis; but I
omit description, as we left them, they being penniless, at Suez. One
of them, Mohammed Shiklibha, I afterwards met at Meccah, and seldom
have I seen a more honest and warm-hearted fellow. When we were
embarking at Suez, he fell upon Hamid's bosom, and both of them wept
bitterly, at the prospect of parting even for a few days.

All the individuals above mentioned lost no time in opening the
question of a loan. It was a lesson in Oriental metaphysics to see
their condition. They had a twelve days' voyage, and a four days'
journey before them; boxes to carry, custom-houses to face, and
stomachs to fill; yet the whole party could scarcely, I believe, muster
two dollars of ready money. Their boxes were full of valuables, arms,
clothes, pipes, slippers, sweetmeats, and other "notions"; but nothing
short of starvation would have induced them to pledge the smallest

Foreseeing that their company would be an advantage, I hearkened
favourably to the honeyed request for a few crowns. The boy Mohammed
obtained six dollars; Hamid about five pounds, as I intended to make
his house at Al-Madinah my home; Omar Effendi three dollars; Sa'ad the
Demon two-I gave the money to him at Yambu',-and Salih Shakkar fifty
piastres. But since in these lands, as a rule, no one ever lends coins,
or, borrowing, ever returns them, I took care to exact service from the
first, to take two rich coats from the second, a handsome pipe from the
third, a "bala" or yataghan from the fourth, and from the fifth an
imitation Cashmere shawl. After which, we sat down and drew

[p.166]out the agreement. It was favourable to me: I lent them Egyptian
money, and bargained for repayment in the currency of Al-Hijaz, thereby
gaining the exchange, which is sometimes sixteen per cent. This was
done, not so much for the sake of profit, as with the view of becoming
a Hatim,[FN#3] by a "never mind" on settling day. My companions having
received these small sums, became affectionate and eloquent in my
praise: they asked me to make one of their number at meals for the


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