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

Part 4 out of 8

future, overwhelmed me with questions, insisted upon a present of
sweetmeats, detected in me a great man under a cloud,-perhaps my claims
to being a Darwaysh assisted them to this discovery,-and declared that
I should perforce be their guest at Meccah and Al-Madinah. On all
occasions precedence was forced upon me; my opinion was the first
consulted, and no project was settled without my concurrence: briefly,
Abdullah the Darwaysh suddenly found himself a person of consequence.
This elevation led me into an imprudence which might have cost me dear;
aroused the only suspicion about me ever expressed during the summer's
tour. My friends had looked at my clothes, overhauled my medicine
chest, and criticised my pistols; they sneered at my copper-cased
watch,[FN#4] and remembered having seen a compass at Constantinople.
Therefore I imagined they would think little about a sextant. This was
a mistake. The boy Mohammed, I

[p.167]afterwards learned,[FN#5] waited only my leaving the room to
declare that the would-be Haji was one of the Infidels from India, and
a council sat to discuss the case. Fortunately for me, Omar Effendi had
looked over a letter which I had written to Haji Wali that morning, and
he had at various times received categorical replies to certain
questions in high theology. He felt himself justified in declaring, ex
cathedra, the boy Mohammed's position perfectly untenable. And Shaykh
Hamid, who looked forward to being my host, guide, and debtor in
general, and probably cared scantily for catechism or creed, swore that
the light of Al-Islam was upon my countenance, and, consequently, that
the boy Mohammed was a pauper, a "fakir," an owl, a cut-off one,[FN#6]
a stranger, and a Wahhabi (heretic), for daring to impugn the faith of
a brother believer.[FN#7] The scene ended with a general abuse of the
acute youth, who was told on all sides that he had no shame, and was
directed to "fear Allah." I was struck with the expression of my
friends' countenances when they saw the sextant, and, determining with
a sigh to

[p.168]leave it behind, I prayed five times a day for nearly a week.

We all agreed not to lose an hour in securing places on board some
vessel bound for Yambu'; and my companions, hearing that my passport as
a British Indian was scarcely en regle, earnestly advised me to have it
signed by the governor without delay, whilst they occupied themselves
about the harbour. They warned me that if I displayed the Turkish
Tazkirah given me at the citadel of Cairo, I should infallibly be
ordered to await the caravan, and lose their society and friendship.
Pilgrims arriving at Alexandria, be it known to the reader, are divided
into bodies, and distributed by means of passports to the three great
roads, namely, Suez, Kusayr (Cosseir), and the Hajj route by land round
the Gulf of al-'Akabah. After the division has once been made,
government turns a deaf ear to the representations of individuals. The
Bey of Suez has an order to obstruct pilgrims as much as possible till
the end of the season, when they are hurried down that way, lest they
should arrive at Meccah too late.[FN#8] As most of the Egyptian high
officials have boats, which sail up the Nile laden with pilgrims and
return freighted with corn, the government naturally does its utmost to
force the delays and discomforts of this line upon strangers.[FN#9] And
as those who travel by the Hajj route must spend money in the Egyptian
territories at least fifteen days longer than they would if allowed to

[p.169]embark at once from Suez, the Bey very properly assists them in
the former and obstructs them in the latter case. Knowing these facts,
I felt that a difficulty was at hand. The first thing was to take
Shaykh Nur's passport, which was en regle, and my own, which was not,
to the Bey for signature. He turned the papers over and over, as if
unable to read them, and raised false hopes high by referring me to his
clerk. The under-official at once saw the irregularity of the document,
asked me why it had not been vise at Cairo, swore that under such
circumstances nothing would induce the Bey to let me proceed; and, when
I tried persuasion, waxed insolent. I feared that it would be necessary
to travel via Cosseir, for which there was scarcely time, or to
transfer myself on camel-back to the harbour of Tur, and there to await
the chance of finding a place in some half-filled vessel to
Al-Hijaz,-which would have been relying upon an accident. My last hope
at Suez was to obtain assistance from Mr. West, then H.B.M.'s
Vice-Consul, and since made Consul. I therefore took the boy Mohammed
with me, choosing him on purpose, and excusing the step to my
companions by concocting an artful fable about my having been, in
Afghanistan, a benefactor to the British nation. We proceeded to the
Consulate. Mr. West, who had been told by imprudent Augustus Bernal to
expect me, saw through the disguise, despite jargon assumed to satisfy
official scruples, and nothing could be kinder than the part he took.
His clerk was directed to place himself in communication with the Bey's
factotum; and, when objections to signing the Alexandrian Tazkirah were
offered, the Vice-Consul said that he would, at his own risk, give me a
fresh passport as a British subject from Suez to Arabia. His firmness
prevailed: on the second day, the documents were returned to me in a
satisfactory state. I take a pleasure in owning this obligation to Mr.
West: in the course of my wanderings, I have often

[p.170] received from him open-hearted hospitality and the most
friendly attentions.

Whilst these passport difficulties were being solved, the rest of the
party was as busy in settling about passage and passage-money. The
peculiar rules of the port of Suez require a few words of
explanation.[FN#10] "About thirty-five years ago" (i.e. about 1818
A.D.), "the ship-owners proposed to the then government, with the view
of keeping up freight, a Farzah, or system of rotation. It might be
supposed that the Pasha, whose object notoriously was to retain all
monoplies in his own hands, would have refused his sanction to such a
measure. But it so happened in those days that all the court had ships
at Suez: Ibrahim Pasha alone owned four or five. Consequently, they
expected to share profits with the merchants, and thus to be
compensated for the want of port-dues. From that time forward all the
vessels in the harbour were registered, and ordered to sail in
rotation. This arrangement benefits the owner of the craft ‘en depart,'
giving him in his turn a temporary monopoly, with the advantage of a
full market; and freight is so high that a single trip often clears off
the expense of building and the risk of losing the ship-a sensible
succedaneum for insurance companies. On the contrary, the public must
always be a loser by the ‘Farzah.' Two of a trade do not agree
elsewhere; but at Suez even the Christian and the Moslem shipowner are
bound by a fraternal tie, in the shape of this rotation system. It
injures the general merchant and the Red Sea trader, not only by

[p.171] perpetuating high freight,[FN#11] but also by causing at one
period of the year a break in the routine of sales and in the supplies
of goods for the great Jeddah market.[FN#12] At this moment (Nov.
1853), the vessel to which the turn belongs happens to be a large one;
there is a deficiency of export to Al-Hijaz,-her owner will of course
wait any length of time for a full cargo; consequently no vessel with
merchandise has left Suez for the last seventy-two days. Those who have
bought goods for the Jeddah market at three months' credit will
therefore have to meet their acceptances for merchandise still
warehoused at the Egyptian port. This strange contrast to free-trade
principle is another proof that protection benefits only one party, the
protected, while it is detrimental to the interests of the other party,
the public." To these remarks of Mr. Levick's, I have only to add that
the government supports the Farzah with all the energy of
protectionists. A letter from Mr. (now Sir) John Drummond Hay was
insufficient to induce the Bey of Suez to break through the rule of
rotation in favour of certain princes from Morocco. The recommendations
of Lord Stratford de Redcliffe met with no better fate; and all Mr.
West's good will could not procure

[p.172]me a vessel out of her turn.[FN#13] We were forced to rely upon
our own exertions, and the activity of Sa'ad the Demon. This worthy,
after sundry delays and differences, mostly caused by his own
determination to travel gratis, and to make us pay too much, finally
closed with the owner of the "Golden Thread.[FN#14]" He took places for
us upon the poop,-the most eligible part of the vessel at this season
of the year; he premised that we should not be very comfortable, as we
were to be crowded with Maghrabi pilgrims, but that "Allah makes all
things easy!" Though not penetrated with the conviction that this would
happen in our case, I paid for two deck passages eighteen Riyals[FN#15]
(dollars), and my companions seven each, whilst Sa'ad secretly entered
himself as an able seaman. Mohammed Shiklibha we were obliged to leave
behind, as he could not, or might not afford the expense, and none of
us might afford it for him. Had I known him to be the honest,
true-hearted fellow he was-his kindness at Meccah quite won my heart-I
should not have grudged the small charity.

[p.173]Nothing more comfortless than our days and nights in the
"George" Inn. The ragged walls of our rooms were clammy with dirt, the
smoky rafters foul with cobwebs, and the floor, bestrewed with kit, in
terrible confusion, was black with hosts of cockroaches, ants, and
flies. Pigeons nestled on the shelf, cooing amatory ditties the
live-long day, and cats like tigers crawled through a hole in the door,
making night hideous with their caterwaulings. Now a curious goat, then
an inquisitive jackass, would walk stealthily into the room, remark
that it was tenanted, and retreat with dignified demeanour, and the
mosquitos sang Io Paeans over our prostrate forms throughout the
twenty-four hours. I spare the reader the enumeration of the other
Egyptian plagues that infested the place. After the first day's trial,
we determined to spend the hours of light in the passages, lying upon
our boxes or rugs, smoking, wrangling, and inspecting one another's
chests. The latter occupation was a fertile source of disputes, for
nothing was more common than for a friend to seize an article belonging
to another, and to swear by the Apostle's beard that he admired it,
and, therefore, would not return it. The boy Mohammed and Shaykh Nur,
who had been intimates the first day, differed in opinion on the
second, and on the third came to pushing each other against the wall.
Sometimes we went into the Bazar, a shady street flanked with poor
little shops, or we sat in the coffee-house,[FN#16] drinking hot
saltish water tinged with burnt bean, or we prayed in one of three
tumble-down old Mosques, or we squatted upon the pier, lamenting the
want of Hammams, and bathing in the tepid sea.[FN#17] I presently came
to the conclusion that

[p.174]Suez as a "watering-place" is duller even than Dover. The only
society we found, excepting an occasional visitor, was that of a party
of Egyptian women, who with their husbands and families occupied some
rooms adjoining ours. At first they were fierce, and used bad language,
when the boy Mohammed and I,-whilst Omar Effendi was engaged in prayer,
and the rest were wandering about the town,-ventured to linger in the
cool passage, where they congregated, or to address a facetious phrase
to them. But hearing that I was a Hakim-bashi-for fame had promoted me
to the rank of a "Physician General" at Suez-all discovered some
ailments. They began prudently with requesting me to display the
effects of my drugs by dosing myself, but they ended submissively by
swallowing the nauseous compounds. To this succeeded a primitive form
of flirtation, which mainly consisted of the demand direct. The most
charming of the party was one Fattumah[FN#18], a plump-personed dame,
fast verging upon her thirtieth year, fond of a little flattery, and
possessing, like all her people, a most voluble tongue. The refrain of
every conversation was "Marry me, O Fattumah! O daughter! O female
pilgrim!" In vain the lady would reply, with a coquettish movement of
the sides, a toss of the head, and a flirting manipulation of her

[p.175]"I am mated, O young man!"-it was agreed that she, being a
person of polyandrous propensities, could support the weight of at
least three matrimonial engagements. Sometimes the entrance of the male
Fellahs[FN#19] interrupted these little discussions, but people of our
respectability and nation were not to be imposed upon by such husbands.
In their presence we only varied the style of conversation-inquiring
the amount of "Mahr," or marriage settlement, deriding the cheapness of
womanhood in Egypt, and requiring to be furnished on the spot with
brides at the rate of ten shillings a head.[FN#20] More often the
amiable Fattumah-the fair sex in this country, though passing frail,
have the best tempers in the world-would laugh at our impertinences.
Sometimes vexed by our imitating her Egyptian accent, mimicking her
gestures, and depreciating her country-women,[FN#21] she would wax
wroth, and order us to be gone, and stretch out her forefinger-a sign
that she wished to put out our eyes, or adjure Allah to cut the hearts
out of our bosoms. Then

[p.176]the "Marry me, O Fattumah, O daughter, O female pilgrim!" would
give way to Y'al Ago-o-oz! (O old woman and decrepit!) "O daughter of
sixty sires, and fit only to carry wood to market!"-whereupon would
burst a storm of wrath, at the tail of which all of us, like children,
starting upon our feet, rushed out of one another's way. But-"qui se
dispute, s'adore"-when we again met all would be forgotten, and the old
tale be told over de novo. This was the amusement of the day. At night
we men, assembling upon the little terrace, drank tea, recited stories,
read books, talked of our travels, and indulged in various
pleasantries. The great joke was the boy Mohammed's abusing all his
companions to their faces in Hindustani, which none but Shaykh Nur and
I could understand; the others, however, guessed his intention, and
revenged themselves by retorts of the style uncourteous in the purest

I proceed to offer a few more extracts from Mr. Levick's letter about
Suez and the Suezians. "It appears that the number of pilgrims who pass
through Suez to Meccah has of late been steadily on the decrease. When
I first came here (in 1838) the pilgrims who annually embarked at this
port amounted to between 10,000 and 12,000, the shipping was more
numerous, and the merchants were more affluent.[FN#22] I have
ascertained from a special register kept in the government archives
that in the Moslem year 1268 (A.D. 1851-52) the exact number that
passed through was 4893."

"In 1269 A.H. (A.D. 1852-53) it had shrunk to 3136. The natives assign
the falling off to various causes, which
[p.177]I attribute chiefly to the indirect effect of European
civilisation upon the Moslem powers immediately in contact with it. The
heterogeneous mass of pilgrims is composed of people of all classes,
colours, and costumes. One sees among them, not only the natives of
countries contiguous to Egypt, but also a large proportion of Central
Asians from Bokhara, Persia, Circassia, Turkey, and the Crimea, who
prefer this route by way of Constantinople to the difficult, expensive
and dangerous caravan-line through the Desert from Damascus and
Baghdad. The West sends us Moors, Algerines, and Tunisians, and Inner
Africa a mass of sable Takrouri,[FN#23] and others from Bornou, the
Sudan,[FN#24] Ghadamah near the Niger, and Jabarti from the

"The Suez ship-builders are an influential body of men, originally
Candiots and Alexandrians. When Mohammed Ali fitted out his fleet for
the Hijaz war, he transported a number of Greeks to Suez, and the
children now exercise their fathers' craft. There are at present three
great builders at this place. Their principal difficulty

[p.178]is the want of material. Teak comes from India[FN#26] via
Jeddah, and Venetian boards, owing to the expense of camel-transport,
are a hundred per cent. dearer here than at Alexandria. Trieste and
Turkey supply spars, and Jeddah canvas: the sail-makers are Suez men,
and the crews a mongrel mixture of Arabs and Egyptians; the Rais, or
captain, being almost invariably, if the vessel be a large one, a
Yambu' man. There are two kinds of craft, distinguished from each other
by tonnage, not by build. The Baghlah[FN#27] (buggalow), is a vessel
above fifty tons burden, the Sambuk (a classical term) from fifteen to
fifty. The shipowner bribes the Amir al-Bahr, or port-captain, and the
Nazir al-Safayn, or the captain commanding the government vessels, to
rate his ship as high as possible; if he pay the price, he will be
allowed nine ardebs to the ton.[FN#28] The number of ships belonging to
the port of Suez amounts to 92; they vary from 25 to 250 tons. The
departures in A.H. 1269 (1852 and 1853) were 38, so that each vessel,
after returning from a trip, is laid up for about two years. Throughout
the passage of the pilgrims,-that is to say, during four months,-the
departures average twice a week; during the remainder of the year from
six to ten vessels may leave the port. The homeward trade is carried on
principally in Jeddah bottoms, which are allowed to convey goods to
Suez, but not to take in return cargo there: they must not interfere
with, nor may they partake in any way of the benefits of the rotation

[p.179]"During the present year the imports were contained in 41,395
packages, the exports in 15,988. Specie makes up in some manner for
this preponderance of imports: a sum of from L30,000 to L40,000, in
crown, or Maria Theresa, dollars annually leaves Egypt for Arabia,
Abyssinia, and other parts of Africa. I value the imports at about
L350,000; the export trade to Jeddah at L300,000 per annum. The former
consists principally of coffee and gum-arabic; of these there were
respectively 17,460 and 15,132 bales, the aggregate value of each
article being from L75,000 to L80,000, and the total amount L160,000.
In the previous year the imports were contained in 36,840 packages, the
exports in 13,498: of the staple articles-coffee and gum-arabic-they
were respectively 15,499 and 14,129 bales, each bale being valued at
about L5. Next in importance comes wax from Al-Yaman and the Hijaz,
mother-of-pearl[FN#30] from the Red Sea, sent to England in rough,
pepper from Malabar, cloves brought by Moslem pilgrims from Java,
Borneo, and Singapore,[FN#31] cherry pipe-sticks from Persia and
Bussora, and Persian or Surat ‘Timbak' (tobacco). These I value at
L20,000 per annum. There were also (A.D. 1853) of cloves 708 packages,
and of Malabar pepper 948: the cost of these two might be L7,000. Minor
articles of exportation are,-general spiceries (ginger, cardamons,

[p.180] &c.); Eastern perfumes, such as aloes-wood, attar of rose,
attar of pink and others; tamarinds from India and Al-Yaman, Banca tin,
hides supplied by the nomade Badawin, senna leaves from Al-Yaman and
the Hijaz, and blue chequered cotton Malayahs (women's mantillas),
manufactured in southern Arabia. The total value of these smaller
imports may be L20,000 per annum."

"The exports chiefly consist of English and native ‘grey domestics,'
bleached Madipilams, Paisley lappets, and muslins for turbands; the
remainder being Manchester prints, antimony, Syrian soap, iron in bars,
and common ironmongery, Venetian or Trieste beads, used as ornaments in
Arabia and Abyssinia, writing paper, Tarbushes, Papushes (slippers),
and other minor articles of dress and ornament."

"The average annual temperature of the year at Suez is 67° Fahrenheit.
The extremes of heat and cold are found in January and August; during
the former month the thermometer ranges from a minimum of 38° to a
maximum of 68°; during the latter the variation extends from 68° to
102°, or even to 104°, when the heat becomes oppressive. Departures
from these extremes are rare. I never remember to have seen the
thermometer rise above 108° during the severest Khamsin, or to have
sunk below 34° in the rawest wintry wind. Violent storms come up from
the south in March. Rain is very variable[FN#32]:

[p.181] sometimes three years have passed without a shower, whereas in
1841 torrents poured for nine successive days, deluging the town, and
causing many buildings to fall."

"The population of Suez now numbers about 4,800. As usual in Mohammedan
countries no census is taken here. Some therefore estimate the
population at 6,000. Sixteen years ago it was supposed to be under
3,000. After that time it rapidly increased till 1850, when a fatal
attack of cholera reduced it to about half its previous number. The
average mortality is about twelve a month.[FN#33] The endemic diseases
are fevers of typhoid and intermittent types in spring, when strong
northerly winds cause the waters of the bay to recede,[FN#34] and leave
a miasma-breeding swamp exposed to the rays of the sun. In the months
of October and November febrile attacks are violent; ophthalmia more
so. The eye-disease is not so general here as at Cairo, but the
symptoms are more acute; in some years it becomes a virulent epidemic,
which ends either in total blindness or in a partial opacity of the
cornea, inducing dimness of vision, and a permanent weakness of the
eyes. In one month three of my acquaintances lost their sight.
Dysenteries are also common, and so are bad boils, or rather ulcers.
The cold season is not unwholesome, and at this period the

[p.182] pure air of the Desert restores and invigorates the heat-wasted

"The walls, gates, and defences of Suez are in a ruinous state, being
no longer wanted to keep out the Sinaitic Badawin. The houses are about
500 in number, but many of the natives prefer occupying the upper
stories of the Wakalahs, the rooms on the ground floor serving for
stores to certain merchandise, wood, dates, cotton, &c. The Suezians
live well, and their bazar is abundantly stocked with meat and
clarified butter brought from Sinai, and fowls, corn, and vegetables
from the Sharkiyah province; fruit is supplied by Cairo as well as by
the Sharkiyah, and wheat conveyed down the Nile in flood to the capital
is carried on camel-back across the Desert. At sunrise they eat the
Fatur, or breakfast, which in summer consists of a ‘fatirah,' a kind of
muffin, or of bread and treacle. In winter it is more substantial,
being generally a mixture of lentils and rice,[FN#35] with clarified
butter poured over it, and a ‘kitchen' of pickled lime or stewed
onions. At this season they greatly enjoy the ‘ful mudammas' (boiled
horse-beans),[FN#36] eaten with an abundance of linseed oil, into which
they steep bits of bread. The beans form, with carbon-generating
matter, a highly nutritive diet, which, if the stomach can digest
it,-the pulse is never shelled,-gives great strength. About the middle
of the day comes ‘Al-Ghada,' a light dinner of wheaten bread, with
dates, onions or cheese: in the hot season melons and cooling

[p.183] fruits are preferred, especially by those who have to face the
sun. ‘Al-Asha,' or supper, is served about half an hour after sunset;
at this meal all but the poorest classes eat meat. Their favourite
flesh, as usual in this part of the world, is mutton; beef and goat are
little prized.[FN#37]"

The people of Suez are a finer and fairer race than the Cairenes. The
former have more the appearance of Arabs: their dress is more
picturesque, their eyes are carefully darkened with Kohl, and they wear
sandals, not slippers. They are, according to all accounts, a turbulent
and somewhat fanatic set, fond of quarrels, and slightly addicted to
"pronunciamentos." The general programme of one of these latter
diversions is said to be as follows. The boys will first be sent by
their fathers about the town in a disorderly mob, and ordered to cry
out "Long live the Sultan!" with its usual sequel, "Death to the
Infidels!" The Infidels, Christians or others, must hear and may happen
to resent this; or possibly the governor, foreseeing a disturbance,
orders an ingenuous youth or two to be imprisoned, or to be caned by
the police. Whereupon some person, rendered influential by wealth or
religious reputation, publicly complains that the Christians are all in
all, and that in these evil days Al-Islam is going to destruction. On
this occasion the speaker conducts himself with such insolence, that
the governor perforce consigns him to confinement, which exasperates
the populace still more. Secret meetings are now convened, and in them
the chiefs of corporations assume a prominent position. If the
disturbance be intended by its main-spring to subside quietly, the
conspirators are allowed to take their own way; they will drink
copiously, become lions about midnight, and recover their hare-hearts
before noon next

[p.184] day. But if mischief be intended, a case of bloodshed is
brought about, and then nothing can arrest the torrent of popular
rage.[FN#38] The Egyptian, with all his good humour, merriment, and
nonchalance, is notorious for doggedness, when, as the popular phrase
is, his "blood is up." And this, indeed, is his chief merit as a
soldier. He has a certain mechanical dexterity in the use of arms, and
an Egyptian regiment will fire a volley as correctly as a battalion at
Chobham. But when the head, and not the hands, is required, he notably
fails. The reason of his superiority in the field is his peculiar
stubborness, and this, together with his powers of digestion and of
enduring hardship on the line of march, is the quality that makes him
terrible to his old conqueror, the Turk.[FN#39]

[FN#1] When travelling, the Shushah is allowed to spread over the
greatest portion of the scalp, to act as a protection against the sun;
and the hair being shaved off about two inches all round the head,
leaves a large circular patch. Nothing can be uglier than such tonsure,
and it is contrary to the strict law of the Apostle, who ordered a
clean shave, or a general growth of the hair. The Arab, however, knows
by experience, that though habitual exposure of the scalp to a burning
sun may harden the skull, it seldom fails to damage its precious
contents. He, therefore, wears a Shushah during his wanderings, and
removes it on his return home. Abu Hanifah, if I am rightly informed,
wrote a treatise advocating the growth of a long lock of hair on the
Nasiyah, or crown of the head, lest the decapitated Moslem's mouth or
beard be exposed to defilement by an impure hand. This would justify
the comparing it to the "chivalry-lock," by which the American brave
facilitates the removal of his own scalp. But I am at a loss to
discover the origin of our old idea, that the "angel of death will, on
the last day, bear all true believers, by this important tuft of hair
on the crown, to Paradise." Probably this office has been attributed to
the Shushah by the ignorance of the West.
[FN#2] "Makhi-chus," equivalent to our "skin-flint."
[FN#3] A well-known Arab chieftain, whose name has come to stand for
generosity itself.
[FN#4] This being an indispensable instrument for measuring distances,
I had it divested of gold case, and provided with a facing carefully
stained and figured with Arabic numerals. In countries where few can
judge of a watch by its works, it is as well to secure its safety by
making the exterior look as mean as possible. The watches worn by
respectable people in Al-Hijaz are almost a1ways old silver pieces, of
the turnip shape, with hunting cases and an outer etui of thick
leather. Mostly they are of Swiss or German manufacture, and they find
their way into Arabia via Constantinople and Cairo.
[FN#5] On my return to Cairo, Omar Effendi, whom I met accidentally in
the streets, related the story to me. I never owned having played a
part, to avoid shocking his prejudices; and though he must have
suspected me,-for the general report was, that an Englishman, disguised
as a Persian, had performed the pilgrimage, measured the country, and
sketched the buildings,-he had the gentlemanly feeling never to allude
to the past. We parted, when I went to India, on the best of terms.
[FN#6] Munkati'a-one cut off (from the pleasures and comforts of life).
In Al-Hijaz, as in England, any allusion to poverty is highly offensive.
[FN#7] The Koran expressly forbids a Moslem to discredit the word of
any man who professes his belief in the Saving Faith. The greatest
offence of the Wahhabis is their habit of designating all Moslems that
belong to any but their own sect by the opprobrious name of Kafirs or
infidels. This, however, is only the Koranic precept; in practice a
much less trustful spirit prevails.
[FN#8] Towards the end of the season, poor pilgrims are forwarded
gratis, by order of government. But, to make such liberality as
inexpensive as possible, the Pasha compels ship-owners to carry one
pilgrim per 9 ardebs (about 5 bushels each), in small, and 1 per 11 in
large vessels.
[FN#9] I was informed by a Prussian gentleman, holding an official
appointment under His Highness the Pasha, at Cairo, that 300,000 ardebs
of grain were annually exported from Kusayr to Jeddah. The rest is
brought down the Nile for consumption in Lower Egypt, and export to
[FN#10] The account here offered to the reader was kindly supplied to
me by Henry Levick, Esq. (late Vice-Consul, and afterwards Post-master
at Suez), and it may be depended upon, as coming from a resident of 16
years' standing. All the passages marked with inverted commas are
extracts from a letter with which that gentleman favoured me. The
information is obsolete now, but it may be interesting as a specimen of
the things that were.
[FN#11] The rate of freight is at present (1853) about forty shillings
per ton-very near the same paid by the P. and O. Company for coals
carried from Newcastle via the Cape to Suez. Were the "Farzah"
abolished, freight to Jeddah would speedily fall to 15 or 16 shillings
per ton. Passengers from Suez to Jeddah are sometimes charged as much
as 6 or even 8 dollars for standing room-personal baggage forming
another pretext for extortion-and the higher orders of pilgrims,
occupying a small portion of the cabin, pay about 12 dollars. These
first and second class fares would speedily be reduced, by abolishing
protection, to 3 and 6 dollars. Note to Second Edition.-The "Farzah," I
may here observe, has been abolished by Sa'id Pasha since the
publication of these lines: the effects of "free trade" are exactly
what were predicted by Mr. Levick.
[FN#12] The principal trade from Suez is to Jeddah, Kusayr supplying
Yambu'. The latter place, however, imports from Suez wheat, beans,
cheese, biscuit, and other provisions for return pilgrims.
[FN#13] My friends were strenuous in their exertions for me to make
interest with Mr. West. In the first place, we should have paid less
for the whole of a privileged vessel, than we did for our wretched
quarters on the deck of the pilgrim-ship; and, secondly, we might have
touched at any port we pleased, so as to do a little business in the
way of commerce.
[FN#14] Afterwards called by Sir R. F. Burton the "Golden Wire."-ED.
[FN#15] For the "Sath," or poop, the sum paid by each was seven Riyals.
I was, therefore, notably cheated by Sa'ad the Demon. The unhappy women
in the "Kamrah," or cabin, bought suffocation at the rate of 6 dollars
each, as I was afterwards informed, and the third class, in the "Taht,"
or amidships and forward, contributed from 3 to 5 Riyals. But, as usua1
on these occasions, there was no prix fixe; every man was either
overcharged or undercharged, according to his means or his necessities.
We had to purchase our own water, but the ship was to supply us with
fuel for cooking. We paid nothing extra for luggage, and we carried an
old Maghrabi woman gratis for good luck.
[FN#16] We were still at Suez, where we could do as we pleased. But
respectable Arabs in their own country, unlike Egyptians, are seldom to
be seen in the places of public resort. "Go to the coffee-house and
sing there!" is a reproach sometimes addressed to those who have a
habit of humming in decent society.
[FN#17] It was only my prestige as physician that persuaded my friend
to join me in these bathings. As a general rule, the Western Arabs
avoid cold water, from a belief that it causes fever. When Mr. C. Cole,
H.B.M.'s Vice-Consul, arrived at Jeddah, the people of the place,
seeing that he kept up his Indian habits, advised him strongly to drop
them. He refused; but unhappily he soon caught a fever, which confirmed
them all in their belief. When Arabs wish to cool the skin after a
journey, they wash with a kind of fuller's earth called "Tafl," or with
a thin paste of henna, and then anoint the body with oil or butter.
[FN#18] An incrementative form of the name "Fatimah," very common in
Egypt. Fatimah would mean a "weaner"-Fattumah, a "great weaner." By the
same barbarism Khadijah becomes "Khaddugah"; Aminah, "Ammunah"; and
Nafisah, "Naffusah," on the banks of the Nile.
[FN#19] The palmy days of the Egyptian husband, when he might use the
stick, the sword, or the sack with impunity, are, in civilised places
at least, now gone by. The wife has only to complain to the Kazi, or to
the governor, and she is certain of redress. This is right in the
abstract, but in practice it acts badly. The fair sex is so unruly in
this country, that strong measures are necessary to coerce it, and in
the arts of deceit men have here little or no chance against women.
[FN#20] The amount of settlement being, among Moslems as among
Christians, the test of a bride's value,-moral and physical,-it will
readily be understood that our demand was more facetious than
[FN#21] The term Misriyah (an Egyptian woman) means in Al-Hijaz and the
countries about it, a depraved character. Even the men own unwillingly
to being Egyptians, for the free-born never forget that the banks of
the Nile have for centuries been ruled by the slaves of slaves. "He
shall be called an Egyptian," is a denunciation which has been
strikingly fulfilled, though the country be no longer the "basest of
[FN#22] In those days merchants depended solely upon the native trade
and the passage of pilgrims. The pecuniary advantage attending what is
called the Overland transit benefits chiefly the lowest orders,
camel-men, sailors, porters, and others of the same class. Sixteen
years ago the hire of a boat from the harbour to the roadstead was a
piastre and a half: now it is at least five.
[FN#23] This word, says Mansfield Parkyns (Life in Abyssinia), is
applied to the wandering pilgrim from Darfur, Dar Borghu, Bayarimah,
Fellatah, and Western Africa. He mentions, however, a tribe called
"Tokrouri," settled in Abyssinia near Nimr's country, but he does not
appear to know that the ancient Arab settlement in Western Africa,
"Al-Takrur," (Sakatu?) which has handed down its name to a large
posterity of small kingdoms, will be found in Al-Idrisi (1. climate, 1.
section,); but I do not agree with the learned translator in writing
the word "Tokrour." Burckhardt often alludes in his benevolent way to
the "respectable and industrious Tekrourys." I shall have occasion to
mention them at a future time.
[FN#24] The Sudan (Blackland) in Arabia is applied to Upper Nubia,
Senaar, Kordofan, and the parts adjacent.
[FN#25] Not only in Ghiz, but also in Arabic, the mother of Ghiz, the
word "Habash," whence our "Abyssinians," means a rabble, a mixture of
people. Abyssinian Moslems are called by the Arabs "Jabarti."
[FN#26] There is no such thing as a tree, except the date, the
tamarisk, and the mimosa on the western shores of the Red Sea.
[FN#27] This word, which in Arabic is the feminine form of "Baghl," a
mule, is in Egypt, as in India, pronounced and written by foreigners
"buggalow." Some worthy Anglo-Indians have further corrupted it to
[FN#28] "The ardeb, like most measures in this country of commercial
confusion, varies greatly according to the grain for which it is used.
As a general rule, it may be assumed at 300 lbs."
[FN#29] Return Arab boats, at any but the pilgrim season, with little
difficulty obtain permission to carry passengers, but not cargo. Two
gentlemen, in whose pleasant society I once travelled from Cairo to
Suez,-M. Charles Didier and the Abbe Hamilton,-paid the small sum of
1000 piastres, (say L10) for the whole of a moderate sized "Sambuk"
returning to Jeddah.
[FN#30] Mother-of-pearl is taken to Jerusalem, and there made into
chaplets, saints' figures, and crucifixes for Christian pilgrims. At
Meccah it is worked into rosaries for the Hajis. In Europe, cabinet and
ornamental work cause a considerable demand for it. Some good pearls
are procurable in the Red Sea. I have seen a drop of fair size and
colour sold for seven dollars.
[FN#31] I was told at Meccah that the pilgrimage is attended by about
2000 natives of Java and the adjoining islands.
[FN#32] The following popular puerilities will serve to show how fond
barbarians are of explaining the natural by the supernatural. The
Moslems of Egypt thus account for the absence of St. Swithin from their
drought-stricken lands. When Jacob lost his Benjamin, he cursed the
land of Misraim, declaring that it should know no rain; Joseph on the
other hand blessed it, asserting that it should never want water. So
the Sind Hindus believe that Hiranyakasipu, the demon-tyrant of Multan,
finding Magha-Raja (the Cloud King) troublesome in his dominions, bound
him with chains, and only released him upon his oath not to trouble the
Unhappy Valley with his presence. I would suggest to those Egyptian
travellers who believe that the fall of rain has been materially
increased at Cairo of late, by plantations of trees, to turn over the
volumes of their predecesors; they will find almost every one
complaining of the discomforts of rain. In Sind it appears certain that
during the last few years there has been at times almost a monsoon;
this novel phenomenon the natives attribute to the presence of their
conquerors, concerning whom it cannot be said that they have wooded the
country to any extent.
[FN#33] This may appear a large mortality; but at Alexandria it is said
the population is renewed every fourteen years.
[FN#34] During these North winds the sandy bar is exposed, and allows
men to cross, which may explain the passage of the Israelites, for
those who do not believe the Legend to be a Myth. Similarly at Jeddah,
the bars are covered during the South and bare during the North winds.
[FN#35] This mixture, called in India Kichhri, has become common in
Al-Hijaz as well as at Suez. "Al-Kajari" is the corruption, which
denotes its foreign origin, and renders its name pronounceable to Arabs.
[FN#36] Beans, an abomination to the ancient Egyptians, who were
forbidden even to sow them, may now be called the common "kitchen" of
the country. The Badawin, ho believe in nothing but flesh, milk, and
dates, deride the bean-eaters, but they do not consider the food so
disgusting as onions.
[FN#37] Here concludes Mr. Levick's letter. For the following
observations, I alone am answerable.
[FN#38] The government takes care to prevent bloodshed in the towns by
disarming the country people, and by positively forbidding the carrying
of weapons. Moreover, with a wise severity, it punishes all parties
concerned in a quarrel, where blood is drawn, with a heavy fine and the
bastinado de rigueur. Hence it is never safe, except as a European, to
strike a man, and the Egyptians generally confine themselves to
collaring and pushing each other against the walls. Even in the case of
receiving gross abuse, you cannot notice it as you would elsewhere. You
must take two witnesses,-respectable men,-and prove the offence before
the Zabit, who alone can punish the offender.
[FN#39] NOTE TO THIRD (1873) EDITION.-I revisited Suez in September,
1869, and found it altered for the better. The population had risen
from 6,000 to 20,000. The tumble-down gateway was still there, but of
the old houses-including the "George Inn," whose front had been
repaired-I recognised only four, and they looked mean by the side of
the fine new buildings. In a few years ancient Suez will be no more.
The bazars are not so full of filth and flies, now that pilgrims pass
straight through and hardly even encamp. The sweet water Canal renders
a Hammam possible; coffee is no longer hot saltish water, and presently
irrigation will cover with fields and gardens the desert plain
extending to the feet of Jabal Atakah. The noble works of the Canal
Maritime, which should in justice be called the "Lesseps Canal," shall
soon transform Clysma into a modern and civilised city. The railway
station, close to the hotel, the new British hospital, the noisy Greek
casino, the Frankish shops, the puffing steamers, and the ringing of
morning bells, gave me a novel impression. Even the climate has been
changed by filling up the Timsch Lakes. Briefly, the hat is now at home
in Suez.
NOTE TO FOURTH (1879) EDITION.-The forecast in the last paragraph has
not been fulfilled. I again visited Suez in 1877-78; and found that it
had been ruined by the Canal leaving it out of line. In fact, another
Suez is growing up about the "New Docks," while the old town is falling
to pieces. For this and other Egyptian matters, see "The Gold Mines of
Midian" (by Sir Richard Burton).

[p.186]CHAPTER X.


THE larger craft anchor some three or four miles from the Suez pier, so
that it is necessary to drop down in a skiff or shore-boat.

Immense was the confusion at the eventful hour of our departure.
Suppose us gathered upon the beach, on the morning of a fiery July day,
carefully watching our hurriedly-packed goods and chattels, surrounded
by a mob of idlers, who are not too proud to pick up waifs and strays;
whilst pilgrims are rushing about apparently mad; and friends are
weeping, acquaintances are vociferating adieux; boatmen are demanding
fees, shopmen are claiming debts; women are shrieking and talking with
inconceivable power, and children are crying,-in short, for an hour or
so we stand in the thick of a human storm. To confound confusion, the
boatmen have moored their skiff half a dozen yards away from the shore,
lest the porters should be unable to make more than double their fare
from the Hajis. Again the Turkish women make a hideous noise, as they
are carried off struggling vainly in brawny arms; the children howl
because their mothers howl; and the men scold and swear, because in
such scenes none may be silent. The moment we had embarked, each
individual found that he or she had missed something of vital
importance,-a pipe, a child, a box, or a water-melon; and naturally all
the servants were in the bazars, when

[p.187] they should have been in the boat. Briefly, despite the rage of
the sailors, who feared being too late for a second trip, we stood for
some time on the beach before putting off.

>From the shore we poled to the little pier, where sat the Bey in
person to perform a final examination of our passports. Several were
detected without the necessary document. Some were bastinadoed, others
were peremptorily ordered back to Cairo, and the rest were allowed to
proceed. At about 10 A.M. (6th July) we hoisted sail, and ran down the
channel leading to the roadstead. On our way we had a specimen of what
we might expect from our fellow-passengers, the Maghrabi.[FN#1] A boat
crowded with these

[p.188] ruffians ran alongside of us, and, before we could organise a
defence, about a score of them poured into our vessel. They carried
things too with a high hand, laughed at us, and seemed quite ready to
fight. My Indian boy, who happened to let slip the word "Muarras,"
narrowly escaped a blow with a palm stick, which would have felled a
camel. They outnumbered us, and they were armed; so that, on this
occasion, we were obliged to put up with their insolence.

Our Pilgrim Ship, the Silk al-Zahab, or the "Golden Wire," was a
Sambuk, of about 400 ardebs (fifty tons), with narrow, wedge-like bows,
a clean water-line, a sharp keel, and undecked, except upon the poop,
which was high enough to act as a sail in a gale of wind. She carried
two masts, raking imminently forwards, the main being considerably
larger than the mizzen; the former was provided with a huge triangular
latine, very deep in the tack, but the second sail was unaccountably
wanting. She had no means of reefing, no compass, no log, no sounding
lines, no spare ropes, nor even the suspicion of a chart: in her
box-like cabin and ribbed hold there was something which savoured of
close connection between her model and that of the Indian Toni,[FN#2]
or "dug-out."

[p.189] Such, probably, were the craft which carried old Sesostris
across the Red Sea to Deir; such were the cruisers which once every
three years left Ezion-Geber for Tarshish; such the transports of which
130 were required to convey AElius Gallus, with his 10,000 men.
"Bakhshish" was the last as well as the first odious sound I heard in
Egypt. The owner of the shore-boat would not allow us to climb the
sides of our vessel before paying him his fare, and when we did so, he
asked for Bakhshish. If Easterns would only imitate the example of
Europeans,-I never yet saw an Englishman give Bakhshish to a soul,-the
nuisance would soon be done away with. But on this occasion all my
companions complied with the request, and at times it is unpleasant to
be singular. The first look at the interior of our vessel showed a
hopeless sight; Ali Murad, the greedy owner, had promised to take sixty
passengers in the hold, but had stretched the number to ninety-seven.
Piles of boxes and luggage in every shape and form filled the ship from
stem to stern, and a torrent of Hajis were pouring over the sides like
ants into the East-Indian sugar-basin. The poop, too, where we had
taken our places, was covered with goods, and a number of pilgrims had
established themselves there by might, not by right.

Presently, to our satisfaction, appeared Sa'ad the Demon, equipped as
an able seaman, and looking most unlike the proprietor of two large
boxes full of valuable merchandise. This energetic individual instantly
prepared for action. With our little party to back him, he speedily
cleared the poop of intruders and their stuff by the simple process of
pushing or rather throwing them off it into the pit below. We then
settled down as comfortably as we could; three Syrians, a married Turk
with his wife and family, the Rais or captain of the vessel,

[p.190] with a portion of his crew, and our seven selves, composing a
total of eighteen human beings, upon a space certainly not exceeding
ten feet by eight. The cabin-a miserable box about the size of the
poop, and three feet high-was stuffed, like the hold of a slave ship,
with fifteen wretches, children and women, and the other ninety-seven
were disposed upon the luggage or squatted on the bulwarks. Having some
experience in such matters, and being favoured by fortune, I found a
spare bed-frame slung to the ship's side; and giving a dollar to its
owner, a sailor-who flattered himself that, because it was his, he
would sleep upon it,-I instantly appropriated it, preferring any
hardship outside, to the condition of a packed herring inside, the
place of torment.

Our Maghrabis were fine-looking animals from the deserts about Tripoli
and Tunis; so savage that, but a few weeks ago, they had gazed at the
cock-boat, and wondered how long it would be growing to the size of the
ship that was to take them to Alexandria. Most of them were sturdy
young fellows, round-headed, broad-shouldered, tall and large-limbed,
with frowning eyes, and voices in a perpetual roar. Their manners were
rude, and their faces full of fierce contempt or insolent familiarity.
A few old men were there, with countenances expressive of intense
ferocity; women as savage and full of fight as men; and handsome boys
with shrill voices, and. hands always upon their daggers. The women
were mere bundles of dirty white rags. The males were clad in
"Burnus"-brown or striped woollen cloaks with hoods; they had neither
turband nor tarbush, trusting to their thick curly hair or to the
prodigious hardness of their scalps as a defence against the sun; and
there was not a slipper nor a shoe amongst the party.
Of course all were armed; but, fortunately for us, none had anything
more formidable than a cut-and-thrust dagger about ten inches long.
These Maghrabis travel in hordes under

[p.191] a leader who obtains the temporary title of "Maula,"-the
master. He has generally performed a pilgrimage or two, and has
collected a stock of superficial information which secures for him the
respect of his followers, and the profound contempt of the heaven-made
Ciceroni of Meccah and Al-Madinah. No people endure greater hardships
when upon the pilgrimage than these Africans, who trust almost entirely
to alms and to other such dispensations of Providence. It is not
therefore to be wondered at that they rob whenever an opportunity
presents itself. Several cases of theft occurred on board the "Golden
Wire"; and as such plunderers seldom allow themselves to be baulked by
insufficient defence, they are accused, perhaps deservedly, of having
committed some revolting murders.

The first thing to be done after gaining standing-room was to fight for
greater comfort; and never a Holyhead packet in the olden time showed a
finer scene of pugnacity than did our pilgrim ship. A few Turks, ragged
old men from Anatolia and Caramania, were mixed up with the Maghrabis,
and the former began the war by contemptuously elbowing and scolding
their wild neighbours. The Maghrabis, under their leader, "Maula Ali,"
a burly savage, in whom I detected a ridiculous resemblance to the Rev.
Charles Delafosse, an old and well-remembered schoolmaster, retorted so
willingly that in a few minutes nothing was to be seen but a confused
mass of humanity, each item indiscriminately punching and pulling,
scratching and biting, butting and trampling, with cries of rage, and
all the accompaniments of a proper fray, whatever was obnoxious to such
operations. One of our party on the poop, a Syrian, somewhat
incautiously leapt down to aid his countrymen by restoring order. He
sank immediately below the surface of the living mass: and when we
fished him out, his forehead was cut open, half his beard had
disappeared, and a fine sharp set

[p.192] of teeth belonging to some Maghrabi had left their mark in the
calf of his leg. The enemy showed no love of fair play, and never
appeared contented unless five or six of them were setting upon a
single man. This made matters worse. The weaker of course drew their
daggers, and a few bad wounds were soon given and received. In a few
minutes five men were completely disabled, and the victors began to
dread the consequences of their victory.

Then the fighting stopped, and, as many could not find places, it was
agreed that a deputation should wait upon Ali Murad, the owner, to
inform him of the crowded state of the vessel. After keeping us in
expectation at least three hours, he appeared in a row-boat, preserving
a respectful distance, and informed us that any one who pleased might
quit the ship and take back his fare. This left the case exactly as it
was before; none would abandon his party to go on shore: so Ali Murad
rowed off towards Suez, giving us a parting injunction to be good, and
not fight ; to trust in Allah, and that Allah would make all things
easy to us. His departure was the signal for a second fray, which
in its accidents differed a little from the first. During the previous
disturbance we kept our places with weapons in our hands. This time we
were summoned by the Maghrabis to relieve their difficulties, by taking
about half a dozen of them on the poop. Sa'ad the Demon at once rose
with an oath, and threw amongst us a bundle of "Nabbut"-goodly ashen
staves six feet long, thick as a man's wrist, well greased, and tried
in many a rough bout. He shouted to us "Defend yourselves if you don't
wish to be the meat of the Maghrabis!" and to the enemy-"Dogs and sons
of dogs! now shall you see what the children of the Arab are." "I am
Omar of Daghistan!" "I am Abdullah the son of Joseph!" "I am Sa'ad the
Demon!" we exclaimed, "renowning it" by this display of name and
patronymic. To do our enemies justice, they showed no

[p.193] sign of flinching; they swarmed towards the poop like angry
hornets, and encouraged each other with cries of "Allaho akbar!" But we
had a vantage-ground about four feet above them, and their palm-sticks
and short daggers could do nothing against our terrible quarterstaves.
In vain the "Jacquerie," tried to scale the poop and to overpower us by
numbers; their courage only secured them more broken heads.

At first I began to lay on load with main morte, really fearing to kill
some one with such a weapon; but it soon became evident that the
Maghrabis' heads and shoulders could bear and did require the utmost
exertion of strength. Presently a thought struck me. A large earthen
jar full of drinking water,[FN#3]-in its heavy frame of wood the weight
might have been 100 lbs.,-stood upon the edge of the poop, and the
thick of the fray took place beneath. Seeing an opportunity, I crept up
to the jar, and, without attracting attention, rolled it down by a
smart push with the shoulder upon the swarm of assailants. The fall
caused a shriller shriek to rise above the ordinary din, for heads,
limbs, and bodies were sorely bruised by the weight, scratched by the
broken potsherds, and wetted by the sudden discharge. A fear that
something worse might be coming made the Maghrabis slink off towards
the end of the vessel. After a few minutes, we, sitting in grave
silence, received a deputation of individuals in whity-brown Burnus,
spotted and striped with what Mephistopheles calls a "curious juice."
They solicited peace, which we granted upon the condition that they
would pledge themselves to keep it. Our heads, shoulders, and hands
were penitentially kissed, and presently the fellows returned to bind
up their hurts in dirty

[p.194] rags. We owed this victory entirely to our own exertions, and
the meek Omar was by far the fiercest of the party. Our Rais, as we
afterwards learned, was an old fool who could do nothing but call for
the Fatihah,[FN#4] claim Bakhshish at every place where we moored for
the night, and spend his leisure hours in the "Caccia del
Mediterraneo." Our crew consisted of half a dozen Egyptian lads, who,
not being able to defend themselves, were periodically chastised by the
Maghrabis, especially when any attempt was made to cook, to fetch
water, or to prepare a pipe.[FN#5]

At length, about 3 P.M. on the 6th July, 1853, we shook out the sail,
and, as it bellied in the favourable wind, we recited the Fatihah with
upraised hands which we afterwards drew down our faces.[FN#6] As the
"Golden Wire" started from her place, I could not help casting one
wistful look upon the British flag floating over the Consulate. But the
momentary regret was stifled by the heart-bounding which prospects of
an adventure excite, and by the real pleasure of leaving Egypt. I had
lived there a stranger in the land, and a hapless life it had been: in
the streets every man's face, as he looked upon the Persian, was the
face of a foe. Whenever I came in contact with the native
officials,[FN#7] insolence marked the

[p.195] event; and the circumstance of living within hail of my
fellow-countrymen, and yet finding it impossible to enjoy their
society, still throws a gloom over the memory of my first sojourn in

The ships of the Red Sea-infamous region of rocks, reefs, and
shoals-cruise along the coast by day, and at night lay-to in the first
cove they find; they do not sail when it blows hard, and as in winter
time the weather is often stormy and the light of day does not last
long, the voyage is intolerably slow.[FN#8] At sunset we stayed our
adventurous course; and, still within sight of Suez, comfortably
anchored under the lee of Jabal Atakah, the "Mountain of
Deliverance,[FN#9]" the butt-end of Jabal Joshi. We were now on classic
waters. The Eastern shore was dotted with the little grove of
palm-trees which clusters around the Uyun Musa, or Moses' Wells; and on
the west, between two towering ridges, lay the mouth of the valley
(Badiyah, or Wady Tawarik, or Wady Musa) down which, according to
Father Sicard,[FN#10] the Israelites fled to

[p.196] the Sea of Sedge.[FN#11] The view was by no means deficient in
a sort of barbarous splendour. Verdure there was none, but under the
violet and orange tints of the sky the chalky rocks became heaps of
topazes, and the brown-burnt ridges masses of amethyst. The rising
mists, here silvery white, there deeply rosy, and the bright blue of
the waves,[FN#12] lining long strips of golden sand, compensated for
the want of softness by a semblance of savage gorgeousness.

Next morning (7th July), before the cerulean hue had vanished from the
hills, we set sail. It was not long before we came to a proper sense of
our position. The box containing my store of provisions, and, worse
still, my opium, was at the bottom of the hold, perfectly
unapproachable; we had, therefore, the pleasure of breaking our fast on
"Mare's skin,"[FN#13] and a species of biscuit, hard as a stone and
quite as tasteless. During the day, whilst insufferable splendour
reigned above, the dashing of the waters below kept my nest in a state
of perpetual drench. At night rose a cold, bright moon, with dews
falling so thick and clammy that the skin felt as though it would never
be dry again. It is, also, by no means pleasant

[p.197] to sleep upon a broken cot about four feet long by two broad,
with the certainty that a false movement would throw you overboard, and
a conviction that if you do fall from a Sambuk under sail, no mortal
power can save you. And as under all circumstances in the East, dozing
is one's chief occupation, the reader will understand that the want of
it left me in utter, utter idleness.

The gale was light that day, and the sunbeams were fire; our crew
preferred crouching in the shade of the sail to taking advantage of
what wind there was. In spite of our impatience we made but little way:
near evening time we anchored on a tongue of sand, about two miles
distant from the well-known and picturesque heights called by the Arabs
Hammam Faraun,[FN#14] which-

"like giants stand
To sentinel enchanted land."

The strip of coarse quartz and sandstone gravel is obviously the
offspring of some mountain torrent; it stretches southwards, being
probably disposed in that direction by the currents of the sea as they
receive the deposit. The distance of the "Hammam Bluffs" prevented my
visiting them, which circumstance I regretted the less as they have
been described by pens equal to the task.

That evening we enjoyed ourselves upon clean sand, whose surface,
drifted by the wind into small yellow waves, was easily converted by a
little digging and heaping up, into the coolest and most comfortable of
couches. Indeed, after the canescent heat of the day, and the tossing
of our ill-conditioned vessel, we should have been contented with
lodgings far less luxurious. Fuel was readily collected, and while some
bathed, others

[p.198] erected a hearth-three large stones and a hole open to
leeward-lit the fire and put the pot on to boil. Shaykh Nur had
fortunately a line; we had been successful in fishing; a little rice
also had been bought; with this boiled, and rock-cod broiled upon the
charcoal, we made a dinner that caused every one to forget the sore
grievance of "Mare's skin" and stone-hard biscuit. A few Maghrabis had
ventured on shore, the Rais having terrified the others by threatening
them with those "bogies," the Badawin-and they offered us
Kuskusu[FN#15] in exchange for fish. As evening fell, we determined,
before sleeping, to work upon their "morale" as effectually as we had
attacked their physique. Shaykh Hamid stood up and indulged them with
the Azan, or call to prayers, pronounced after the fashion of
Al-Madinah.[FN#16] They performed their devotions in lines ranged
behind us as a token of respect, and when worship was over we were
questioned about the Holy City till we grew tired of answering. Again
our heads and shoulders, our hands and knees,[FN#17] were kissed, but
this time in devotion, not in penitence. My companions could scarcely
understand half the rugged words which the Maghrabis used,[FN#18] as
their dialect was fresh from the

[p.199] distant Desert. Still we succeeded in making ourselves
intelligible to them, vaunting our dignity as the Sons of the Prophet,
and the sanctity of our land which should protect its children from
every description of fraud and violence. We benignantly promised to be
their guides at Al-Madinah, and the boy Mohammed would conduct their
devotions at Meccah, always provided that they repented their past
misdeeds, avoided any repetition of the same, and promised to perform
the duties of good and faithful pilgrims. Presently the Rais joined our
party, and the usual story-telling began. The old man knew the name of
each hill, and had a legend for every nook and corner in sight. He
dwelt at length upon the life of Abu Zulaymah, the patron saint of
these seas, whose little tomb stands at no great distance from our
bivouac place, and told us how he sits watching over the safety of
pious mariners in a cave among the neighbouring rocks, and sipping his
coffee, which is brought in a raw state from Meccah by green birds, and
prepared in the usual way by the hands of ministering angels. He showed
us the spot where the terrible king of Egypt, when close upon the heels
of the children of Israel, was whelmed in the "hell of waters,[FN#19]"
and he warned us that next day our way would be through breakers, and
reefs, and dangerous currents, over whose troubled depths, since that
awful day, the Ifrit of the storm has never ceased to flap his sable
wing. The wincing of the hearers proved that the shaft of the old man's
words was sharp; but as night was advancing, we unrolled our rugs, and
fell asleep upon the sand, all of us happy, for we had fed and drunk,

[p.200]-the homo sapiens is a hopeful animal-we made sure that on the
morrow the Ifrit would be merciful, and allow us to eat fresh dates at
the harbour of Tur.

Fair visions of dates doomed to the Limbo of things which should have
been! The grey dawn (8th July) looked down upon us in difficulties. The
water is deep near this coast; we had anchored at high tide close to
the shore, and the ebb had left us high and dry. When this fact became
apparent, a storm was upon the point of breaking. The Maghrabis, but
for our interference, would have bastinadoed the Rais, who, they said
with some reason, ought to have known better. When this phase of
feeling passed away, they applied themselves to physical efforts. All
except the women and children, who stood on the shore encouraging their
relatives with shrill quaverings, threw themselves into the water; some
pushed, others applied their shoulders to the vessel's side, and all
used their lungs with might and main. But the "Golden Wire" was firmly
fixed, and their exertions were too irregular. Muscular force failed,
upon which they changed their tactics. At the suggestion of their
"Maula," they prepared to burn incense in honour of the Shaykh Abu
Zulaymah. The material not being forthcoming, they used coffee, which
perhaps accounts for the shortcomings of that holy man. After this the
Rais remembered that their previous exertions had not begun under the
auspices of the Fatihah. Therefore they prayed, and then reapplied
themselves to work. Still they failed. Finally, each man called aloud
upon his own particular saint or spiritual guide, and rushed forward as
if he alone sufficed for the exploit. Shaykh Hamid unwisely quoted the
name, and begged the assistance, of his great ancestor, the
"Clarified-Butter-Seller"; the obdurate "Golden Wire" was not moved,
and Hamid retired in momentary confusion.

It was now about nine A.M., and the water had risen

[p.201] considerably. My morning had been passed in watching the influx
of the tide, and the grotesque efforts of the Maghrabis. When the
vessel showed some symptoms of unsteadiness, I arose, walked gravely up
to her, ranged the pilgrims around her with their shoulders to the
sides, and told them to heave with might when they heard me invoke the
revered name of my patron saint. I raised my hands and voice; "Ya Piran
Pir! Ya Abd al-Kadir Jilani[FM#20]" was the signal. Each Maghrabi
worked like an Atlas, the "Golden Wire" canted half over, and, sliding
heavily through the sand, once more floated off into deep water. This
was generally voted a minor miracle, and the Effendi was respected-for
a day or two.

The wind was fair, but we had all to re-embark, an operation which went
on till noon. After starting I remarked the natural cause which gives
this Birkat Faraun-"Pharaoh's Bay,"-a bad name. Here the gulf narrows;
and the winds, which rush down the clefts and valleys of the lofty
mountains on the Eastern and Western shores, meeting tides and
counter-currents, cause a perpetual commotion. That day the foam-tipped
waves repeatedly washed over my cot, by no means diminishing its
discomforts. In the evening, or rather late in the afternoon, we
anchored, to our infinite disgust, under a ridge of rocks, behind which
lies the plain of Tur. The Rais deterred all from going on shore by
terrible stories about the Badawin that haunt the place, besides which
there was no sand to sleep upon. We remained, therefore, on board that
night; and, making sail early the next morning, we threaded through
reefs and sand-banks about noon into the intricate and dangerous
entrance of Tur.

Nothing can be meaner than the present appearance of the old Phoenician
colony, although its position as a

[p.202] harbour, and its plentiful supply of fruit and fresh water,
make it one of the most frequented places on the coast. The only
remains of any antiquity-except the wells-are the fortifications which
the Portuguese erected to keep out the Badawin. The little town lies
upon a plain that stretches with a gradual rise from the sea to the
lofty mountain-axis of the Sinaitic group. The country around
reminded me strongly of maritime Sind; a flat of clay and sand, clothed
with sparse turfs of Salsolae, and bearing strong signs of a
(geologically speaking) recent origin. The town is inhabited
principally by Greek and other Christians,[FN#21] who live by selling
water and provisions to ships. A fleecy cloud hung lightly over the
majestic head of Jabal Tur, about eventide, and the outlines of the
giant hills stood "picked out" from the clear blue sky. Our Rais,
weather-wise man, warned us that these were indications of a gale, and
that, in case of rough weather, he did not intend to leave Tur. I was
not sorry to hear this. We had passed a pleasant day, drinking sweet
water, and eating the dates, grapes, and pomegranates, which the people
of the place carry down to the beach for the benefit of hungry
pilgrims. Besides which, there were various sights to see, and with
these we might profitably spend the morrow. We therefore pitched the
tent upon the sand, and busied ourselves with

[p.203] extricating a box of provisions: the labour was rendered
lighter by the absence of the Maghrabis, some of whom were wandering
about the beach, whilst others had gone off to fill their bags with
fresh water. We found their surliness insufferable; even when we were
passing from poop to forecastle, landing or boarding, they grumbled
forth their dissatisfaction.

Our Rais was not mistaken in his prediction. The fleecy cloud on Tur's
tops had given true warning. When morning (9th July) broke, we found
the wind strong, and the sea white with foam. Most of us thought
lightly of these terrors, but our valorous captain swore that he dared
not for his life cross in such a storm the mouth of ill-omened Akabah.
We breakfasted, therefore, and afterwards set out to visit Moses' Hot
Baths, mounted on wretched donkeys with pack-saddles, ignorant of
stirrups, and without tails, whilst we ourselves suffered generally
from boils, which, as usual upon a journey, make their appearance in
localities the most inconvenient. Our road lay northward across the
plain towards a long narrow strip of date ground, surrounded by a
ruinous mud wall. After a ride of two or three miles, we entered the
gardens, and came suddenly upon the Hammam. It is a prim little Cockney
bungalow, built by Abbas Pasha of Egypt for his own accommodation;
glaringly whitewashed, and garnished with diwans and calico curtains of
a gorgeous hue. The guardian had been warned of our visit, and was
present to supply us with bathing-cloths and other necessaries. One by
one we entered the cistern, which is now in an inner room. The water is
about four feet deep, warm in winter, cool in summer, of a
saltish-bitter taste, but celebrated for its invigorating qualities,
when applied externally. On one side of the calcareous rock, near the
ground, is the hole opened for the spring by Moses' rod, which must
have been like the "mast of some tall

[p.204] Ammiral[FN#22]"; and near it are the marks of Moses' nails-deep
indentations in the stone, which were probably left there by some
extinct Saurian. Our Cicerone informed us that formerly the
finger-marks existed, and that they were long enough for a man to lie
in. The same functionary attributed the sanitary properties of the
spring to the blessings of the Prophet, and, when asked why Moses had
not made sweet water to flow, informed us that the Great Lawgiver had
intended the spring for bathing in, not for drinking. We sat with him,
eating the small yellow dates of Tur, which are delicious, melting like
honey in the mouth, and leaving a surpassing arriere gout. After
finishing sundry pipes and cups of coffee, we gave the bath-man a few
piastres, and, mounting our donkeys, started eastward for the Bir
Musa,[FN#23] which we reached in half an hour. It is a fine old work,
built round and domed over with roughly squared stones, very like what
may be seen in some rustic parts of Southern England. The sides of the
pit were so rugged that a man could climb down them, and at the bottom
was a pool of water, sweet and abundant. We had intended to stay there,
and to dine al fresco, but the hated faces of our companions, the
Maghrabis, meeting us at the entrance, nipped that project in the bud.
Accordingly we retired from the burning

[p.205] sun to a neighbouring coffee-house-a shed of palm leaves kept
by a Tur man, and there, seated on mats, we demolished the contents of
our basket. Whilst we were eating, some Badawin came in and joined us,
when invited so to do. They were poorly dressed, and all armed with
knives and cheap sabres, hanging to leathern bandoleers: in language
and demeanour they showed few remains of their old ferocity. As late as
Mohammed Ali's time these people were noted wreckers, and formerly they
were dreaded pirates: now they are lions with their fangs and claws

In the even, when we returned to our tent, a Syrian, one of our party
on the poop, came out to meet us with the information that several
large vessels had arrived from Suez, comparatively speaking, empty, and
that the captain of one of them would land us at Yambu' for three
dollars a head. The proposal was tempting. But presently it became
apparent that my companions were unwilling to shift their precious
boxes, and moreover, that I should have to pay for those who could not
or would not pay for themselves,-that is to say, for the whole party.
As such a display of wealth would have been unadvisable, I dismissed
the idea with a sigh. Amongst the large vessels was one freighted with
Persian pilgrims, a most disagreeable race of men on a journey or a
voyage. They would not land at first, because they feared the Badawin.
They would not take water from the town people, because some of these
were Christians. Moreover, they insisted upon making their own call to
prayer, which heretical proceeding-it admits five extra words-our
party, orthodox Moslems, would rather have died than have permitted.
When their crier, a small wizen-faced man, began the Azan with a voice

"in quel tenore
Che fa il cappon quando talvolta canta,"

we received it with a shout of derision, and some, hastily

[p.206] snatching up their weapons, offered him an opportunity of
martyrdom. The Maghrabis, too, hearing that the Persians were Rafaz
(heretics) crowded fiercely round to do a little Jihad, or Fighting for
the Faith. The long-bearded men took the alarm. They were twice the
number of our small party, and therefore they had been in the habit of
strutting about with nonchalance, and looking at us fixedly, and
otherwise demeaning themselves in an indecorous way. But when it came
to the point, they showed the white feather. These Persians accompanied
us to the end of our voyage. As they approached the Holy Land, visions
of the "Nabbut" caused a change for the better in their manners. At
Mahar they meekly endured a variety of insults, and at Yambu' they
cringed to us like dogs.

[FN#1] Men of the Maghrab, or Western Africa; the vulgar plural is
Maghrabin, generally written "Mogrebyn." May not the singular form of
this word have given rise to the Latin "Maurus," by elision of the
Ghayn, to Italians an unpronounceable consonant? From Maurus comes the
Portuguese "Moro," and our "Moor." When Vasco de Gama reached Calicut,
he found there a tribe of Arab colonists, who in religion and in
language were the same as the people of Northern Africa,-for this
reason he called them "Moors." This was explained long ago by Vincent
(Periplus, lib. 3), and lately by Prichard (Natural History of Man). I
repeat it because it has been my fate to hear, at a meeting of a
learned society in London, a gentleman declare, that in Eastern Africa
he found a people calling themselves Moors. Maghrabin-Westerns,-then
would be opposed to Sharkiyin, Easterns, the origin of our "Saracen."
From Gibbon downwards many have discussed the history of this word; but
few expected in the nineteenth century to see a writer on Eastern
subjects assert, with Sir John Mandeville, that these people "properly,
ben clept Sarrazins of Sarra." The learned M. Jomard, who never takes
such original views of things, asks a curious question:-"Mais comment
un son aussi distinct que le Chine [Arabic text] aurait-il pu se
confondre avec le Syn [Arabic text] et, pour un mot aussi connu que
charq; comment aurait-on pu se tromper a l'omission des points?" Simply
because the word Saracens came to us through the Greeks (Ptolemy uses
it), who have no such sound as sh in their language, and through the
Italian which, hostile to the harsh sibilants of Oriental dialects,
generally melts sh down into s. So the historical word
Hashshashiyun-hemp-drinker,-civilised by the Italians into "assassino,"
became, as all know, an expression of European use. But if any one
adverse to "etymological fancies" objects to my deriving Maurus from
"Maghrab," let him remember Johnson's successfully tracing the course
of the metamorphosis of "dies" into "jour." An even more peculiar
change we may discover in the word "elephant." "Pilu" in Sanscrit,
became "pil" in old Persian, which ignores short final vowels; "fil,"
and, with the article, "Al-fil," in Arabic, which supplies the place of
p (an unknown letter to it), by f; and elephas in Greek, which is fond
of adding "as" to Arabic words, as in the cases of Aretas (Haris) and
Obodas (Obayd). "A name," says Humboldt, "often becoming a historical
monument, and the etymological analysis of language, however it may be
divided, is attended by valuable results."
[FN#2] The Toni or Indian canoe is the hollowed-out trunk of a
tree,-near Bombay generally a mango. It must have been the first step
in advance from that simplest form of naval architecture, the
"Catamaran" of Madras and Aden.
[FN#3] In these vessels each traveller, unless a previous bargain be
made, is expected to provide his own water and firewood. The best way,
however, is, when the old wooden box called a tank is sound, to pay the
captain for providing water, and to keep the key.
[FN#4] The "opener"-the first chapter of the Koran, which Moslems
recite as Christians do the Lord's Prayer; it is also used on occasions
of danger, the beginnings of journeys, to bind contracts, &c.
[FN#5] These Maghrabis, like the Somalis, the Wahhabis of the desert,
and certain other barbarous races, unaccustomed to tobacco, appeared to
hate the smell of a pipe.
[FN#6] The hands are raised in order to catch the blessing that is
supposed to descend from heaven upon the devotee; and the meaning of
drawing the palms down the face is symbolically to transfer the
benediction to every part of the body.
[FN#7] As is the case under all despotic governments, nothing can be
more intentionally offensive than the official manners of a superior to
his inferior in Egypt. The Indians charge their European
fellow-subjects with insolence of demeanour and coarseness of language.
As far as my experience goes, our roughness and brusquerie are mere
politeness compared with what passes between Easterns. At the same time
it must be owned that I have seen the worst of it.
[FN#8] It was far safer and more expeditious in Al-Adrisi's day (A.D.
1154), when the captain used to sit on the poop "furnished with
numerous and useful instruments"; when he "sounded the shallows, and by
his knowledge of the depths could direct the helmsman where to steer."
[FN#9] In the East it is usual, when commencing a voyage or a journey,
to make a short day's work, in order to be at a convenient distance for
returning, in case of any essential article having been forgotten.
[FN#10] A Jesuit missionary who visited the place in A.D. 1720, and
described it in a well-known volume. As every eminent author, however,
monopolises a "crossing," and since the head of the Suez creek, as is
shown by its old watermark, has materially changed within no very
distant period, it is no wonder that the question is still sub judice,
and that there it will remain most probably till the end of time. The
Christians have two equally favourite lines: the Moslems patronise one
so impossible, that it has had attractions enough to fix their choice.
It extends from Zafaran Point to Hammam Bluffs, ten miles of deep water.
[FN#11] The Hebrew name of this part of the Red Sea. In a communication
lately made to the Royal Geographical Society, I gave my reasons for
believing that the Greeks borrowed their Erythraean Sea from the Arabic
"Sea of Himyar."
[FN#12] Most travellers remark that they have never seen a brighter
blue than that of the Red Sea. It was the observation of an early age
that "the Rede Sea is not more rede than any other sea, but in some
place thereof is the gravelle rede, and therefore men clepen it the
Rede Sea."
[FN#13] Jild al-Faras (or Kamar al-Din), a composition of apricot
paste, dried, spread out, and folded into sheets, exactly resembling
the article after which it is named. Turks and Arabs use it when
travelling; they dissolve it in water, and eat it as a relish with
bread or biscuit.
[FN#14] "Pharaoh's hot baths," which in our maps are called "Hummum
Bluffs." They are truly "enchanted land" in Moslem fable: a volume
would scarcely contain the legends that have been told and written
about them. (See Note 1, p. 10, ante.)
[FN#15] One of the numerous species of what the Italians generally call
"Pasta." The material is wheaten or barley flour rolled into small
round grains. In Barbary it is cooked by steaming, and served up with
hard boiled eggs and mutton, sprinkled with red pepper. These Badawi
Maghrabis merely boiled it.
[FN#16] The Azan is differently pronounced, though similarly worded by
every orthodox nation in Al-Islam.
[FN#17] The usual way of kissing the knee is to place the finger tips
upon it, and then to raise them to the mouth. It is an action denoting
great humility, and the condescending superior who is not an immediate
master returns the compliment in the same way.
[FN#18] The Maghrabi dialect is known to be the harshest and most
guttural form of Arabic. It owes this unenviable superiority to its
frequency of "Sukun," or the quiescence of one or more
consonants;-"K'lab," for instance, for "Kilab," and "'Msik" for
"Amsik." Thus it is that vowels, the soft and liquid part of language,
disappear, leaving in their place a barbarous sounding mass of
[FN#19] Burckhardt mentions the Arab legend that the spirits of the
drowned Egyptians may be seen moving at the bottom of the sea, and
Finati adds that they are ever busy recruiting their numbers with
shipwrecked mariners.
[FN#20] I thus called upon a celebrated Sufi or mystic, whom many
East-Indian Moslems reverence as the Arabs do their Prophet. In
Appendix I the curious reader will find Abd al-Kadir again mentioned.
[FN#21] Those people are descendants of Syrians and Greeks that fled
from Candia, Scios, the Ionian Islands, and Palestine to escape the
persecutions of the Turks. They now wear the Arab dress, and speak the
language of the country, but they are easily to be distinguished from
the Moslems by the expression of their countenances and sometimes by
their blue eyes and light hair. There are also a few families calling
themselves Jabaliyah, or mountaineers. Originally they were 100
households, sent by Justinian to serve the convent of St. Catherine,
and to defend it against the Berbers. Sultan Kansuh al-Ghori, called
by European writers Campson Gaury, the Mamluk King of Egypt, in A.D.
1501, admitted these people into the Moslem community on condition of
their continuing the menial service they had afforded to the monks.
[FN#22] Adam's forehead (says the Tarikh Tabari) brushed the skies, but
this height being inconvenient, the Lord abridged it to 100 cubits. The
Moslems firmly believe in Anakim. Josephus informs us that Moses was of
"divine form and great tallness"; the Arabs specify his stature,-300
cubits. They have, moreover, found his grave in some parts of the
country S.E, of the Dead Sea, and make cups of a kind of bitumen called
"Moses' Stones." This people nescit ignorare-it will know everything.
[FN#23] "Moses' Well." I have no argument except the untrustworthy
traditions of the Badawin, either for or against this having been the
identical well near which Moses sat when he fled from the face of
Pharaoh to the land of Midian. One thing is certain, namely, that in
this part of Arabia, as also at Aden, the wells are of a very ancient

[p.207]CHAPTER XI.


ON the 11th July, 1853, about dawn, we left Tur, after a pleasant halt,
with the unpleasant certainty of not touching ground for thirty-six
hours. I passed the time in steadfast contemplation of the web of my
umbrella, and in making the following meteorological remarks.

Morning.-The air is mild and balmy as that of an Italian spring; thick
mists roll down the valleys along the sea, and a haze like
mother-o'-pearl crowns the headlands. The distant rocks show Titanic
walls, lofty donjons, huge projecting bastions, and moats full of deep
shade. At their base runs a sea of amethyst, and as earth receives the
first touches of light, their summits, almost transparent, mingle with
the jasper tints of the sky. Nothing can be more delicious than this
hour. But as

"les plus belles choses
Ont le pire destin,"

so lovely Morning soon fades. The sun bursts up from behind the main, a
fierce enemy, a foe that will force every one to crouch before him. He
dyes the sky orange, and the sea "incarnadine," where its violet
surface is stained by his rays, and he mercilessly puts to flight the
mists and haze and the little agate-coloured masses of cloud that were
before floating in the firmament. The atmosphere is so clear that now
and then a planet is visible. For the two

[p.208] hours following sunrise the rays are endurable; after that they
become a fiery ordeal. The morning beams oppress you with a feeling of
sickness; their steady glow, reflected by the glaring waters, blinds
your eyes, blisters your skin, and parches your mouth: you now become a
monomaniac; you do nothing but count the slow hours that must "minute
by" before you can be relieved.[FN#1]

Midday.-The wind, reverberated by the glowing hills is like the blast
of a lime-kiln. All colour melts away with the canescence from above.
The sky is a dead milk-white, and the mirror-like sea so reflects the
tint that you can scarcely distinguish the line of the horizon. After
noon the wind sleeps upon the reeking shore; there is a deep stillness;
the only sound heard is the melancholy flapping of the sail. Men are
not so much sleeping as half-senseless; they feel as if a few more
degrees of heat would be death.

Sunset.-The enemy sinks behind the deep cerulean sea, under a canopy of
gigantic rainbow which covers half the face of heaven. Nearest to the
horizon is an arch of tawny orange; above it another of the brightest
gold, and based upon these a semi-circle of tender sea-green blends
with a score of delicate gradations into the sapphire sky. Across the
rainbow the sun throws its rays in the form of giant wheel-spokes
tinged with a beautiful pink. The Eastern sky is mantled with a purple
flush that picks out the forms of the hazy Desert and the sharp-cut
Hills. Language is a thing too cold, too poor, to express the harmony
and the majesty of this hour, which is as evanescent, however, as it is
lovely. Night falls rapidly, when suddenly the appearance of the
Zodiacal Light[FN#2] restores

[p.209] the scene to what it was. Again the grey hills and the grim
rocks become rosy or golden, the palms green, the sands saffron, and
the sea wears a lilac surface of dimpling waves. But after a quarter of
an hour all fades once more; the cliffs are naked and ghastly under the
moon, whose light falling upon this wilderness of white crags and
pinnacles is most strange-most mysterious.

Night.-The horizon is all darkness, and the sea reflects the white
visage of the night-sun as in a mirror of steel. In the air we see
giant columns of pallid light, distinct, based upon the indigo-coloured
waves, and standing with their heads lost in endless space. The stars
glitter with exceeding brilliance.[FN#3] At this hour are

"-river and hill and wood,
With all the numberless goings on of life,
Inaudible as dreams";

while the planets look down upon you with the faces of smiling friends.
You feel the "sweet influence of the Pleiades." You are bound by the
"bond of Orion." Hesperus bears with him a thousand things. In
communion with them your hours pass swiftly by, till the heavy dews
warn you to cover up your face and sleep. And with one look at a
certain little Star in the north, under which lies all that makes life
worth living through-surely it is a venial superstition to sleep with
your eyes towards that Kiblah!-you fall into oblivion.

Those thirty-six hours were a trial even to the hard-headed Badawin.
The Syrian and his two friends fell ill. Omar Effendi, it is true, had
the courage to say his

[p.210] sunset prayers, but the exertion so altered him that he looked
another man. Salih Shakkar in despair ate dates till threatened with a
dysentery. Sa'ad the Demon had rigged out for himself a cot three feet
long, which, arched over with bent bamboo, and covered with cloaks, he
had slung on to the larboard side; but the loud grumbling which
proceeded from his nest proved that his precaution had not been a cure.
Even the boy Mohammed forgot to chatter, to scold, to smoke, and to
make himself generally disagreeable. The Turkish baby appeared to be
dying, and was not strong enough to wail. How the poor mother stood her
trials so well, made every one wonder. The most pleasant trait in my
companions' characters was the consideration they showed to her, and
their attention to her children. Whenever one of the party drew forth a
little delicacy-a few dates or a pomegranate-they gave away a share of
it to the children, and most of them took their turns to nurse the
baby. This was genuine politeness-kindness of heart. It would be well
for those who sweepingly accuse Easterns of want of gallantry, to
contrast this trait of character with the savage scenes of civilisation
that take place among the "Overlands" at Cairo and Suez.[FN#4] No
foreigner could be present for the first time without bearing away the
lasting impression that the sons of Great Britain are model
barbarians.[FN#5] On board the "Golden Wire" Salih Shakkar was the sole
base exception to the general geniality of my companions.

As the sun starts towards the West, falling harmlessly upon our heads,
we arise, still faint and dizzy, calling for water-which before we had
not the strength

[p.211] to drink-and pipes, and coffee, and similar luxuries. Our
primitive kitchen is a square wooden box, lined with clay, and filled
with sand, upon which three or four large stones are placed to form a
hearth. Preparations are now made for the evening meal, which is of the
simplest description. A little rice, a few dates, or an onion, will
keep a man alive in our position; a single "good dinner" would justify
long odds against his seeing the next evening. Moreover, it is
impossible in such cases to have an appetite-fortunately, as our store
of provisions is a scanty one. Arabs consider it desirable on a journey
to eat hot food once in the twenty-four hours; so we determine to cook,
despite all difficulties. The operation, however, is by no means
satisfactory; twenty expectants surround the single fire, and there is
sure to be a quarrel amongst them every five minutes.

As the breeze, cooled by the dew, begins to fan our parched faces, we
recover our spirits amazingly. Songs are sung; tales are told; and
rough jests are bandied about till, not unfrequently, Oriental
sensitiveness is sorely tried. Or, if we see the prospect of storm or
calm, we draw forth, and piously peruse, a "Hizb al-Bahr." As this
prayer is supposed to make all safe upon the ocean wave, I will not
selfishly withhold it from the British reader. To draw forth all its
virtues, the reciter should receive it from the hands of his Murshid or
spiritual guide, and study it during the Chillah, or forty days of
fast, of which, I venture to observe, few Sons of Bull are capable.

"O Allah, O Exalted, O Almighty, O All-pitiful, O All-powerful, Thou
art my God, and sufficeth to me the knowledge of it! Glorified be the
Lord my Lord, and glorified be the Faith my Faith! Thou givest Victory
to whom Thou pleasest, and Thou art the Glorious, the Merciful! We pray
Thee for Safety in our goings forth and our standings still, in our
Words and our Designs, in our

[p.212] Dangers of Temptation and Doubt, and the secret Designs of our
Hearts. Subject unto us this Sea, even as Thou didst subject the Deep
to Musa" (Moses), "and as Thou didst subject the Fire to Ibrahim[FN#6]"
(Abraham), "and as Thou didst subject the Iron to Daud[FN#7]" (David),
"and as Thou didst subject the Wind and the Devils and Jinnis and
Mankind to Sulayman[FN#8]" (Solomon), "and as Thou didst subject the
Moon and Al-Burak to Mohammed, upon whom be Allah's Mercy and His
Blessing! And subject unto us all the Seas in Earth and Heaven, in Thy
visible and in Thine invisible Worlds, the Sea of this Life, and the
Sea of Futurity. O Thou who reignest over everything, and unto whom all
Things return, Khyas! Khyas! Khyas[FN#9]!"

And lastly, we lie down upon our cribs, wrapped up in thickly padded
cotton coverlets; we forget the troubles of the past day, and we care
nought for the discomforts of that to come.

Late on the evening of the 11th July we passed in sight of the narrow
mouth of Al-'Akabah, whose famosi rupes are a terror to the voyagers of
these latitudes. Like the Gulf of Cambay, here a tempest is said to be
always brewing, and men raise their hands to pray as they cross it. We
had no storm that day from without, but a fierce one was about to burst
within our ship. The essence of Oriental discipline is personal respect
based upon fear. Therefore it often happens that the commanding

[p.213] if a mild old gentleman, is the last person whose command is
obeyed,-his only privilege being that of sitting apart from his
inferiors. And such was the case with our Rais. On the present
occasion, irritated by the refusal of the Maghrabis to stand out of the
steerman's way, and excited by the prospect of losing sight of shore
for a whole day, he threatened one of the fellows with his slipper. It
required all our exertions, even to a display of the dreaded
quarter-staves, to calm the consequent excitement. After passing
Al-'Akabah, we saw nothing but sea and sky, and we spent a weary night
and day tossing upon the waters, our only exercise; every face
brightened as, about sunset on the 12th July, we suddenly glided into
the mooring-place.

Marsa (anchorage) Damghah,[FN#10] or rather Dumayghah, is scarcely
visible from the sea. An islet of limestone rock defends the entrance,
leaving a narrow passage to the south. It is not before he enters that
the mariner discovers the extent and the depth of this creek, which
indents far into the land, and offers 15 to 20 feet of fine clear
anchorage which no swell can reach. Inside it looks more like a lake,
and at night its colour is gloriously blue as Geneva itself. I could
not help calling to mind, after dinner, the old school lines

"Est in secessu longo locus; insula portum
Efficit objectu laterum; quibus omnis ab alto
Frangitur, inque sinus scindit sese unda reductos."

Nothing was wanted but the "atrum nemus." Where however, shall we find
such luxuries in arid Arabia?

The Rais, as usual, attempted to deter us from landing, by romancing
about the "Bedoynes and Ascopards," representing them to be "folke
ryghte felonouse and foule and of cursed kynde." To which we replied by
shouldering our Nabbuts and scrambling into the cock-boat

[p.214] On shore we saw a few wretched-looking beings, Juhaynah[FN#11]
or Hutaym, seated upon heaps of dried wood, which they sold to
travellers; and three boat-loads of Syrian pilgrims who had preceded
us. We often envied them their small swift craft, with their double
latine sails disposed in "hare-ears" which, about eventide in the far
distance, looked like a white gull alighting upon the purple wave; and
they justified our jealousy by arriving at Yambu' two days before us.
The pilgrims had bivouacked upon the beach, and were engaged in
drinking their after-dinner coffee. They received us with all the
rights of hospitality, as natives of Al-Madinah should everywhere be
received; we sat an hour with them, ate a little fruit, satisfied our
thirst, smoked their pipes, and when taking leave blessed them. Then
returning to the vessel we fed, and lost no time in falling asleep.

The dawn of the next day saw our sail flapping in the idle air. And it
was not without difficulty that in the course of the forenoon we
entered Wijh Harbour, distant from Dumayghah but very few miles.
Al-Wijh is also a natural anchorage, in no way differing from that
where we passed the night, except in being smaller and shallower and
less secure. From this place to Cairo the road is safe. The town is a
collection of round huts meanly built of round stones, and clustering
upon a piece of elevated rock on the northern side of the creek. It is

[p.215] distant about six miles from the inland fort of the same name,
which receives the Egyptian caravan, and which thrives, like its port,
by selling water and provisions to pilgrims. The little bazar, almost
washed by every high tide, provided us with mutton, rice, baked bread,
and the other necessaries of life at a moderate rate. Luxuries also
were to be found: a druggist sold me an ounce of opium at a Chinese

With reeling limbs we landed at Al-Wijh,[FN#12] and finding a large
coffee-house above and near the beach, we installed ourselves there.
But the Persians who preceded us had occupied all the shady places
outside, and were correcting their teeth with their case knives; we
were forced to content ourselves with the interior. It was a building
of artless construction, consisting of little but a roof supported by
wooden posts, roughly hewn from date trees: round the tamped earthen
floor ran a raised bench of unbaked brick, forming a diwan for mats and
sleeping-rugs. In the centre a huge square Mastabah, or platform,
answered a similar purpose. Here and there appeared attempts at long
and side walls, but these superfluities had been allowed to admit
daylight through large gaps. In one corner stood the apparatus of the
"Kahwahji," an altar-like elevation, also of earthen-work, containing a
hole for a charcoal fire, upon which were three huge coffee-pots
dirtily tinned. Near it were ranged the Shishas, or Egyptian hookahs,
old, exceedingly unclean, and worn by age and hard work. A wooden
framework, pierced with circular apertures, supported a number of
porous earthenware gullehs (gargoulettes, or monkey jars) full of cold,
sweet water; the charge for each was, as usual in Al-Hijaz, five paras.
Such was the furniture of the cafe, and the only relief to the
barrenness of the view was a fine mellowing atmosphere composed of
smoke, steam,

[p.216] flies, and gnats in about equal proportions. I have been
diffuse in my description of the coffee-house, as it was a type of its
class: from Alexandria to Aden the traveller will everywhere meet with
buildings of the same kind.

Our happiness in this Paradise-for such it was to us after the "Golden
Wire"-was nearly sacrificed by Sa'ad the Demon, whose abominable temper
led him at once into a quarrel with the master of the cafe. And the
latter, an ill-looking, squint-eyed, low-browed, broad-shouldered
fellow, showed himself nowise unwilling to meet the Demon half way. The
two worthies, after a brief bandying of bad words, seized each other's
throats leisurely, so as to give the spectators time and encouragement
to interfere. But when friends and acquaintances were hanging on to
both heroes so firmly that they could not move hand or arm, their
wrath, as usual, rose, till it was terrible to see. The little village
resounded with the war, and many a sturdy knave rushed in, sword or
cudgel in hand, so as not to lose the sport. During the heat of the
fray, a pistol which was in Omar Effendi's hand went off-accidentally
of course-and the ball passed so close to the tins containing the black
and muddy Mocha, that it drew the attention of all parties. As if by
magic, the storm was lulled. A friend recognised Sa'ad the Demon, and
swore that he was no black slave, but a soldier at Al-Madinah-"no
waiter, but a Knight Templar." This caused him to be looked upon as
rather a distinguished man, and he proved his right to the honour by
insisting that his late enemy should feed with him, and when the other
decorously hung back, by dragging him to dinner with loud cries.

My alias that day was severely tried. Besides the Persian pilgrims, a
number of nondescripts who came in the same vessel were hanging about
the coffee-house; lying down, smoking, drinking water, bathing and
picking their teeth with their daggers. One inquisitive man

[p.217] was always at my side. He called himself a Pathan (Afghan
settled in India); he could speak five or six languages, he knew a
number of people everywhere, and he had travelled far and wide over
Central Asia. These fellows are always good detectors of an incognito.
I avoided answering his question about my native place, and after
telling him that I had no longer name or nation, being a Darwaysh, I
asked him, when he insisted upon my having been born somewhere, to
guess for himself. To my joy he claimed me for a brother Pathan, and in
course of conversation he declared himself to be the nephew of an
Afghan merchant, a gallant old man who had been civil to me at Cairo.
We then sat smoking together with "effusion." Becoming confidential, he
complained that he, a Sunni, or orthodox Moslem, had been abused,
maltreated, and beaten by his fellow-travellers, the heretical Persian
pilgrims. I naturally offered to arm my party, to take up our cudgels,
and to revenge my compatriot. This thoroughly Sulaymanian style of
doing business could not fail to make him sure of his man. He declined,
however, wisely remembering that he had nearly a fortnight of the
Persians' society still to endure. But he promised himself the
gratification, when he reached Meccah, of sheathing his Charay[FN#13]
in the chief offender's heart.

At 8 A.M.} on the 14th July we left Al-Wijh, after passing a night,
tolerably comfortable by contrast, in the coffee-house. We took with us
the stores necessary, for though our Rais had promised to anchor under
Jabal Hassani that evening, no one believed him. We sailed among ledges
of rock, golden sands, green weeds, and in some places through yellow
lines of what appeared to me at a distance foam after a storm. All day
a sailor sat upon the masthead, looking at the water, which was
transparent as blue glass, and shouting out the direction. This
precaution was somewhat stultified by the roar of voices, which never

[p.218] failed to mingle with the warning, but we wore every half hour,
and we did not run aground. About midday we passed by Shaykh Hasan
al-Marabit's tomb. It is the usual domed and whitewashed building,
surrounded by the hovels of its guardians, standing upon a low flat
island of yellow rock, vividly reminding me of certain scenes in Sind.
Its dreary position attracts to it the attention of passing travellers;
the dead saint has a prayer and a Fatihah for the good of his soul, and
the live sinner wends his way with religious refreshment.

Near sunset the wind came on to blow freshly, and we cast anchor
together with the Persian pilgrims upon a rock. This was one of the
celebrated coral reefs of the Red Sea, and the sight justified
Forskal's emphatic description-luxus lususque naturae. It was a huge
ledge or platform rising but little above the level of the deep; the
water-side was perpendicular as the wall of a fort; and, whilst a
frigate might have floated within a yard of it, every ripple dashed
over the reef, replenishing the little basins and hollows in the
surface. The colour of the waves near it was a vivid amethyst. In the
distance the eye rested upon what appeared to be meadows of brilliant
flowers resembling those of earth, only far brighter and more lovely.
Nor was this Land of the Sea wholly desolate. Gulls and terns here swam
the tide; there, seated upon the coral, devoured their prey. In the
air, troops of birds contended noisily for a dead flying fish,[FN#14]
and in the deep water they chased a shoal, which, in fright and hurry
to escape the pursuers, veiled the surface with

[p.219] spray and foam. And as night came on the scene shifted,
displaying fresh beauties. Shadows clothed the background, whose
features, dimly revealed, allowed full scope to the imagination. In the
forepart of the picture lay the sea, shining under the rays of the moon
with a metallic lustre; while its border, where the wavelets dashed
upon the reef, was lit by what the Arabs call the "jewels of the
deep[FN#15]"-brilliant flashes of phosphoric light giving an idea of
splendour which Art would vainly strive to imitate. Altogether it was a
bit of fairyland, a spot for nymphs and sea-gods to disport upon: you
might have heard, without astonishment, old Proteus calling his flocks
with the writhed conch; and Aphrodite seated in her shell would have
been only a fit and proper climax for its loveliness.

But-as philosophically remarked by Sir Cauline the Knyghte-

"Every whyte must have its blacke,
And every sweete its soure-"

this charming coral reef was nearly being the scene of an ugly
accident. The breeze from seaward set us slowly but steadily towards
the reef, a fact of which we soon became conscious. Our anchor was not
dragging; it had not rope enough to touch the bottom, and vainly we
sought for more. In fact the "Golden Wire" was as disgracefully
deficient in all the appliances of safety, as any English merchantman
in the nineteenth century,-a circumstance which accounts for the
shipwrecks and for the terrible loss of life perpetually occurring
about the Pilgrimage-season in these seas. Had she struck upon the
razor-like edges of the coral-reef, she would have melted

[p.220] away like a sugar-plum in the ripple, for the tide was rising
at the time. Having nothing better to do, we began to make as much
noise as possible. Fortunately for us, the Rais commanding the
Persian's boat was an Arab from Jeddah; and more than once we had
treated him with great civility. Guessing the cause of our distress, he
sent two sailors overboard with a cable; they swam gallantly up to us;
and in a few minutes we were safely moored to the stern of our useful
neighbour. Which done, we applied ourselves to the grateful task of
beating our Rais, and richly had he deserved it. Before noon, when the
wind was shifting, he had not once given himself the trouble to wear;
and when the breeze was falling, he preferred dosing to taking
advantage of what little wind remained. With energy we might have been
moored that night comfortably under the side of Hassani Island, instead
of floating about on an unquiet sea with a lee-shore of coral-reef
within a few yards of our counter.

At dawn the next day (15th July) we started. We made Jabal
Hassani[FN#16] about noon, and an hour or so before sunset we glided
into Marsa Mahar. Our resting-place resembled Marsa Dumayghah at an
humble distance; the sides of the cove, however, were bolder and more
precipitous. The limestone rocks presented a peculiar appearance; in
some parts the base and walls had crumbled away, leaving a coping to
project like a canopy; in others the wind and rain had cut deep holes,
and pierced the friable material with caverns that looked like the work
of art. There was a pretty opening of backwood at the bottom of the

[p.221] cove; and palm trees in the blue distance gladdened our eyes,
which pined for the sight of something green. The Rais, as usual, would
have terrified us with a description of the Hutaym tribe that holds
these parts, and I knew from Welsted and Moresby that it is a debased
race. But forty-eight hours of cramps on board ship would make a man
think lightly of a much more imminent danger.

Wading to shore we cut our feet with the sharp rocks. I remember to
have felt the acute pain of something running into my toe: but after
looking at the place and extracting what appeared to be a bit of
thorn,[FN#17] I dismissed the subject, little guessing the trouble it
was to give me. Having scaled the rocky side of the cove, we found some
half-naked Arabs lying in the shade; they were unarmed, and had nothing
about them except their villainous countenances wherewith to terrify
the most timid. These men still live in limestone caves, like the
Thamud tribe of tradition; also they are Ichthyophagi, existing without
any other subsistence but what the sea affords. They were unable to
provide us with dates, flesh, or milk, but they sold us a kind of fish
called in India "Bui": broiled upon the embers, it proved delicious.

After we had eaten and drunk and smoked, we began to make merry; and
the Persians, who, fearing to come on shore, had kept to their
conveyance, appeared proper butts for the wit of some of our party: one
of us stood up and pronounced the orthodox call to prayer, after which
the rest joined in a polemical hymn, exalting the virtues

[p.222] and dignity of the first three Caliphs.[FN#18] Then, as general
on such occasions, the matter was made personal by informing the
Persians in a kind of rhyme sung by the Meccan gamins, that they were
the "slippers of Ali and the dogs of Omar." But as they were too
frightened to reply, my companions gathered up their cooking utensils,
and returned to the "Golden Wire," melancholy, like disappointed
candidates for the honours of Donnybrook.

Our next day was silent and weary, for we were all surly, and heartily
sick of being on board ship. We should have made Yambu' in the evening
but for the laziness of the Rais. Having duly beaten him, we anchored
on the open coast, insufficiently protected by a reef, and almost in
sight of our destination. In the distance rose Jabal Radhwah or
Radhwa,[FN#19] one of the "Mountains of Paradise[FN#20]" in which
honoured Arabia abounds. It is celebrated by poetry as well as by piety.

"Did Radhwah strive to support my woes,
Radhwah itself would be crushed by the weight,"

says Antar.[FN#21] It supplies Al-Madinah with hones. I heard much of
its valleys and fruits and bubbling springs, but afterwards I learned
to rank these tales with the superstitious legends which are attached
to it. Gazing at its bare and ghastly heights, one of our party, whose
wit was soured by the want of fresh bread, surlily remarked that such a
heap of ugliness deserved ejection from heaven,-an irreverence too
public to escape general denunciation. We waded on shore, cooked there,

[p.223] passed the night; we were short of fresh water, which, combined
with other grievances, made us as surly as bears. Sa'ad the Demon was
especially vicious; his eyes gazed fixedly on the ground, his lips
protruded till you might have held up his face by them, his mouth was
garnished with bad wrinkles, and he never opened it but he grumbled out
a wicked word. He solaced himself that evening by crawling slowly on
all-fours over the boy Mohammed, taking scrupulous care to place one
knee upon the sleeper's face. The youth awoke in a fiery rage: we all
roared with laughter; and the sulky Negro, after savouring the success
of his spite, grimly, as but half satisfied, rolled himself, like a
hedgehog, into a ball; and, resolving to be offensive even in his
forgetfulness, snored violently all night.

We slept upon the sands and arose before dawn (July 17), determined to
make the Rais start in time that day. A slip of land separated us from
our haven, but the wind was foul, and by reason of rocks and shoals, we
had to make a considerable detour.

It was about noon on the twelfth day after our departure from Suez,
when, after slowly beating up the narrow creek leading to Yambu'
harbour, we sprang into a shore-boat and felt new life when bidding an
eternal adieu to the vile "Golden Wire."

I might have escaped much of this hardship and suffering by hiring a
vessel to myself. There would then have been a cabin to retire into at
night, and shade from the sun; moreover, the voyage would have lasted
five, not twelve, days. But I wished to witness the scenes on board a
pilgrim ship,-scenes so much talked of by the Moslem palmer
home-returned. Moreover, the hire was exorbitant, ranging from L40 to
L50, and it would have led to a greater expenditure, as the man who can
afford to take a boat must pay in proportion during his lan

[p.224] journey. In these countries you perforce go on as you begin: to
"break one's expenditure," that is to say, to retrench expenses, is
considered all but impossible. We have now left the land of Egypt.

[FN#1] The reader who has travelled in the East will feel that I am not
exaggerating. And to convince those who know it only by description, I
will refer them to any account of our early campaigns in Sind, where
many a European soldier has been taken up stone dead after sleeping an
hour or two in the morning sun.
[FN#2] The Zodiacal Light on the Red Sea, and in Bombay, is far
brighter than in England. I suppose this is the "after-glow" described
by Miss Martineau and other travellers: "flashes of light like
coruscations of the Aurora Borealis in pyramidal form" would exactly
describe the phenomenon. It varies, however, greatly, and often for
some days together is scarcely visible.
[FN#3] Niebuhr considers that the stars are brighter in Norway than in
the Arabian deserts; I never saw them so bright as on the Neilgherry
[FN#4] Written in the days of the vans, which preceded the Railway.
[FN#5] On one occasion I was obliged personally to exert myself to
prevent a party of ladies being thrust into an old and bad transit-van;
the ruder sex having stationed itself at some distance from the
starting-place in order to seize upon the best.
[FN#6] Abraham, for breaking his father's idols, was cast by Nimrod
into a fiery furnace, which forthwith became a garden of roses. (See
Chapter xxi. of the Koran, called "the Prophets.")
[FN#7] David worked as an armourer, but the steel was as wax in his
[FN#8] Solomon reigned over the three orders of created beings: the
fable of his flying carpet is well known. (See Chapter xxvii. of the
Koran, called "the Ant.")
[FN#9] These are mystic words, and entirely beyond the reach of
dictionaries and vocabularies.
[FN#10] In Moresby's Survey, "Sherm Demerah," the creek of Demerah. Ali
Bey calls it Demeg.
[FN#11] See "The Land of Midian (Revisited)" for a plan of
Al-Dumayghah, and a description of Al-Wijh (al-Bahr) These men of the
Beni Jahaynah, or "Juhaynah" tribe-the "Beni Kalb," as they are also
called,-must not be trusted. They extend from the plains north of
Yambu' into the Sinaitic Peninsula. They boast no connection with the
great tribe Al-Harb; but they are of noble race, are celebrated for
fighting, and, it is said, have good horses. The specimens we saw at
Marsa Dumayghah were poor ones, they had few clothes, and no arms
except the usual Jambiyah (crooked dagger). By their civility and their
cringing style of address it was easy to see they had been corrupted by
intercourse with strangers.
[FN#12] It is written Wish and Wejh; by Ali Bey Vadjeh and Wadjih;
Wodjeh and Wosh by Burckhardt; and Wedge by Moresby.
[FN#13] The terrible Afghan knife.
[FN#14] These the Arabs, in the vulgar tongue, call Jarad al-Bahr, "sea
locusts"; as they term the shrimp Burghut al-Bahr, or the sea-flea.
Such compound words, palpably derived from land objects, prove the
present Ichthyophagi and the Badawin living on the coast to be a race
originally from the interior. Pure and ancient Arabs still have at
least one uncompounded word to express every object familiar to them,
and it is in this point that the genius of the language chiefly shows
[FN#15] The Arab superstition is, that these flashes of light are
jewels made to adorn the necks and hair of the mermaids and mermen.
When removed from their native elements the gems fade and disappear. If
I remember right, there is some idea similar to this among the Scotch,
and other Northern people.
[FN#16] The word Jabal will frequently occur in these pages. It is
applied by the Arabs to any rising ground or heap of rocks, and,
therefore, must not always be translated "Mountain." In the latter
sense, it has found its way into some of the Mediterranean dialects.
Gibraltar is Jabal al-Tarik, and "Mt. Ethne that men clepen Mounte
Gybelle" is "Monte Gibello,"-the mountain, par excellence.
[FN#17] It was most probably a prickle of the "egg-fruit," or Echinus,
so common in these seas, generally supposed to be poisonous. I found it
impossible to cure my foot in Al-Hijaz, and every remedy seemed to make
it worse. This was as much the effect of the climate of Arabia, as of
the hardships and privations of a pilgrimage. After my return to Egypt
in the autumn, the wound healed readily without medical treatment.
[FN#18] Abu Bakr, Omar, and Osman.
[FN#19] I have found both these forms of writing the word in books;
Moresby, or rather Mr. Rassam, erroneously spells it "Ridwah."
[FN#20] In a future chapter, when describing a visit to Mt. Ohod, near
Al-Madinah, I shall enter into some details about these "Mountains of
[FN21] The translator, however, erroneously informs us, in a footnote,
that Radhwah is a mountain near Meccah.



THE heat of the sun, the heavy dews, and the frequent washings of the
waves, had so affected my foot, that on landing at Yambu' I could
scarcely place it upon the ground. But traveller's duty was to be done;
so, leaning upon my "slave's" shoulder, I started at once to see the
town, whilst Shaykh Hamid and the others of our party proceeded to the

Yanbu'a al-Bahr, Yambu' or Fountain of the Sea,[FN#1] identified, by
Abyssinian Bruce, with the Iambia village of Ptolemy, is a place of
considerable importance, and shares with others the title of "Gate of
the Holy City." It is the third quarter of the caravan road[FN#2] from
Cairo to Meccah; and here, as well as at Al-Badr, pilgrims frequently
leave behind them, in hired warehouses, goods too heavy to be
transported in haste, or too valuable to risk in dangerous times.
Yambu' being the port of Al-Madinah,

[p.226] as Jeddah is of Meccah, is supported by a considerable
transport trade and extensive imports from the harbours on the Western
coasts of the Red Sea; it supplies its chief town with grain, dates,
and henna. Here the Sultan's dominion is supposed to begin, whilst the
authority of the Pasha of Egypt ceases; there is no Nizam, or Regular
Army, however, in the town,[FN#3] and the governor is a Sharif or Arab
chief. I met him in the great bazar; he is a fine young man of light
complexion and the usual high profile, handsomely dressed, with a
Cashmere turband, armed to the extent of sword and dagger, and followed
by two large, fierce-looking Negro slaves leaning upon enormous Nabbuts.

The town itself is in no wise remarkable. Built on the edge of a
sunburnt plain that extends between the mountains and the sea, it
fronts the northern extremity of a narrow winding creek. Viewed from
the harbour, it is a long line of buildings, whose painful whiteness is
set off by a sky-like cobalt and a sea-like indigo; behind it lies the
flat, here of a bistre-brown, there of a lively tawny; whilst the
background is formed by dismal Radhwah,

"Barren and bare, unsightly, unadorned."

Outside the walls are a few little domes and tombs, which by no means
merit attention. Inside, the streets are wide; and each habitation is
placed at an unsociable distance from its neighbour, except near the
port and the bazars, where ground is valuable. The houses are roughly
built of limestone and coralline, and their walls full of fossils
crumble like almond cake; they have huge

[p.227] hanging windows, and look mean after those in the Moslem
quarters of Cairo. There is a "Suk," or market-street of the usual
form, a long narrow lane darkened by a covering of palm leaves, with
little shops let into the walls of the houses on both sides. The cafes,
which abound here, have already been described in the last chapter;
they are rendered dirty in the extreme by travellers, and it is
impossible to sit in them without a fan to drive away the flies. The
custom-house fronts the landing-place upon the harbour; it is managed
by Turkish officials,-men dressed in Tarbushes, who repose the livelong
day upon the Diwans near the windows. In the case of us travellers they
had a very simple way of doing business, charging each person of the
party three piastres for each large box, but by no means troubling
themselves to meddle with the contents.[FN#4] Yambu' also boasts of a
Hammam or hot bath, a mere date-leaf shed, tenanted by an old Turk,
who, with his surly Albanian assistant, lives by "cleaning" pilgrims
and travellers. Some whitewashed Mosques and Minarets of exceedingly
simple form, a Wakalah or two for the reception of merchants, and a
saint's tomb, complete the list of public buildings.

In one point Yambu' claims superiority over most other towns in this
part of Al-Hijaz. Those who can afford the luxury drink sweet
rain-water, collected amongst the hills in tanks and cisterns, and
brought on camelback to the town. Two sources are especially praised,
the Ayn al-Birkat and the Ayn Ali, which suffice to supply the whole
population: the brackish water of the wells is confined to coarser
purposes. Some of the old people here, as at Suez, are said to prefer
the drink to which

[p.228] years of habit have accustomed them, and it is a standing joke
that, arrived at Cairo, they salt the water of the Nile to make it


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