Title: Letters From Egypt, 1863–65. [Electronic Edition]

Author: Duff Gordon, Lucie, Lady, 1821-1869.
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Title: Letters From Egypt, 1863–65.

Author: Lady Duff Gordon
File size or extent: xii, 371 p. 19 cm.
Publisher: Macmillan
Place of publication: London
Publication address:
16, BEDFORD STREET, COVENT GARDEN.
Publication date: 1865
Identifier: Fondren Library, Rice University, DT54 .D84
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Origin/composition of the text: 1865
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Letters From Egypt, 1863–65. [Electronic Edition]


Contents












LETTERS FROM EGYPT,
1863–65.

BY
MACMILLAN AND CO., London:

16, BEDFORD STREET, COVENT GARDEN.

1865.



JOHN EDWARD TAYLOR, PRINTER,
LITTLE QUEEN STREET, LINCOLN'S INN FIELDS.



LETTERS FROM EGYPT.

LETTERS FROM EGYPT.


v

PREFACE.

IN the short introduction to Lady Duff Gordon's
Letters from the Cape of Good Hope,
published last year, I used some expressions
which I am tempted to repeat here, because
their description of the qualities which characterized
those Letters, and the motives
which prompted their publication, apply, and
with still greater force, to those now submitted
to the public.
“It is the entire absence of the exclusive
and supercilious spirit which characterizes dominant
races; the rare power of entering into
new trains of thought, and sympathizing with
unaccustomed feelings; the tender pity for
the feeble and subject, and the courteous respect
for their prejudices; the large and purely

human sympathies,—these, far more than any
literary or graphic merits, are the qualities
which have induced the possessors of the few
following Letters to give them to the public.
“They show, (what letters from Egypt,
since received from the same writer, prove
yet more conclusively,) that even among so-called
barbarians are to be found hearts that
open to every touch of kindness, and respond
to every expression of respect and sympathy.
“If they should awaken any sentiments like
those which inspired them, on behalf of races
of men who come in contact with civilization
only to feel its resistless force and its haughty
indifference or contempt, it will be some consolation
to those who are enduring the bitterness
of the separation to which they owe their
existence.”
When I wrote those words, many of the
most interesting of the following letters were
not yet in existence; nor had I the assurance
I now have, that the character and spirit which
pervade them would fall in with the tastes
and opinions of the English public. Not only,

however, are the qualities which distinguished
the former letters still more remarkable in
these, but those qualities have excited general
sympathy and approbation.
They owe their existence to the same afflicting
circumstances as those from the Cape.
They were written under the influence of
dangerous disease, and in the dreariness of solitary
exile; far from all the resources which
civilized society offers to the suffering body
and the weary and dejected spirit; above all,
far from all the objects of the dearest affections.
All the wonders and enchantments of Egypt
would not have sufficed to fill so immense
a void, even to a mind so alive to them. Nothing
less than Humanity, in its most literal
and its largest sense,—not circumscribed
by race or religion, by opinions or customs,
but the purely human sympathy which binds
together those between whom no other tie
exists,—could have made life under such conditions
tolerable. But this expansive charity
is twice blessed; for if the miserable objects

of it have derived comfort from the pitiful and
helpful hand of the English-woman, she, on
her part, has found, in the interest they inspire
and in the consciousness of mitigating their
sufferings, some comfort under the privation
of all her natural occupations and enjoyments.
She has been requited, by grateful affection
and boundless confidence, and has had satisfactory
proofs that the ascendancy acquired
by kindness is far more complete than any
that can be obtained by force.
It is to this large and tolerant humanity that
the writer owes her power of under-standing
and interpreting thoughts and feelings unintelligible
to most Europeans; to see the point
at which the widely-severed but converging
rays of truth meet; to feel those touches of
nature which make the whole world kin. No
doubt her admiration of her Arab friends will
appear to many groundless or exaggerated,
and the indulgence with which she regards
some of their usages which are the least to
our taste, excessive. But her object was not
to blame, but to understand, and the first and

most indispensable requisite for understanding
is absolute impartiality. Nobody can understand
that which he approaches with feelings
of antipathy.
There are passages illustrative of the manners
and morals of Arabs which I at first determined
to omit; but further reflection convinced
me that to do so would be to rob this
little volume of much of its value. Of all the
problems which society seeks in vain to solve,
the most difficult by far are those which regard
the relations between the sexes, and it is
ridiculous to affect to treat of the condition of
a people without endeavouring to discover in
what way these most important problems present
themselves to its moral sense. The task
of civilizing and reforming (which we are so
ready to undertake) requires above all things
the power of regarding questions which lie at
the root of all human society in a spirit equally
remote from levity and antipathy. It may be,
however, that any allusion to subjects which
cynicism and corruption have given over to
the jester and the libertine may shock some

readers. To such, I have only to repeat that
these Letters, like their predecessors, were
written “to the two persons with whom of all
others the writer felt the least necessity for reserve;”
and that if anything were published
that ought to have been withheld, the one to
whom alone the selection was entrusted were
alone to blame.
In justification of the enthusiastic interest
with which the wretched condition of the
Arabs has inspired Lady Gordon, it might
be urged that she saw in them the relics of a
most ancient and noble race, once the possessor
of a high and distinct form of civilization,
now crushed under the same barbarian
force which destroyed the last remnants
of the civilization of Greece. But it needed
not the historical interest attached to Egypt
or to Arabia to awaken her profound and
passionate sympathy. It will hardly be imagined
that the writer of these Letters is incapable
of estimating the advantages, or enjoying
the pleasures of cultivated society; but
sympathy with the oppressed and indignation

against the oppressor are evidently more powerful
with her than any of the tastes or wants
of civilized life.
Such a disposition unquestionably subjects
the possessor to mistakes and deceptions.
Making every allowance, however, for generous
illusions in favour of the unfortunate, it
is clear, from the facts and conversations here
related, that qualities of a very high kind are
to be found among the Arabs, when they are
not debased and corrupted by contact with
cruel oppressors, or with the worst forms of
European civilization.
The Arabic proper names, and other words,
which occur in these Letters, have been corrected
by an eminent oriental scholar, who is
no less intimately acquainted with the people,
than with the language of Egypt. To his cordial
sympathy with the sentiments of the writer
regarding them, I believe I owe much of the
kind interest with which he has watched the
book through the press.
Nobody will be surprised to learn that the
writer distrusts her power of reproducing

what made so powerful an impression on her
own mind. “It was impossible,” she says,
“to express what I saw, and felt, and comprehended.”
And again, “All that can be said
appears poor to one who knows, as I do,
how curious, and interesting, and poetical the
country is.”
The publication of this volume has been
somewhat delayed, in the hope that a letter
might arrive relating the writer's departure
from her Egyptian home, and her voyage
down the Nile; but none has come, and it is
not thought expedient to wait longer. We
must, therefore, break off under the painful
impression of the scenes which have thrown
gloom and horror over the last days of her
residence at El-Uksur.

SARAH AUSTIN.

Weybridge,

May 25, 1865.

1

LETTERS FROM EGYPT.
LETTER I.

Port of Leghorn,

October 13, 1862.

I HEARD such reports of the dearness of Malta,
and of the beauty of Cairo at this season, that
I resolved to go at once to Cairo. We arrived
here yesterday evening, I found there was
time to go to Pisa, and had a delightful day.
The weather was delicious. It was a giorno di
festa
, and the devices to extract more money
on that plea were worth what they cost. The
vetturino at Pisa assured me, “Ah, cara signora!
siamo troppo sacrificati per il tarif.”
He called attention to his fine clothes, and
told how he had intended to “divertirsi con la
sua innamorata;—e lasciò tutto per mostrar
la città alla signora,”—all with such a coaxing
air that it was irresistible. The boatman who

brought me on board lamented that it was
already dark—bujo; that he was frightened,
and that the weather might change, and his
battello be wrecked (in the port). “Per l'amor
di Dio, datemi cinque o quattro franchi!” I
sternly refused, and in the same breath he implored
me to return with him next morning.
The Duomo, the Baptistery, and the Campo
Santo were quite a new world to me, and the
leaning tower is as lovely as it is odd. The
pictures by Andrea del Sarto alone are worth
the journey. I never was more delighted with
anything; and the people are so hand-some
and pleasant.
I found the climate at Marseilles very trying.
Since I have been at sea, I feel quite
differently. I had no idea it was so warm;
at sea now it is like the tropics,—not a chill
in the air. A French artist has given me a
letter to Lautner Bey, the Pasha's German
doctor, and to a ci-devant St. Simonian, an old
French painter turned Mussulman, and living
in Old Cairo. I hope he will show me a good
deal. We sail in an hour or two.

[Back to top]


3

LETTER II.

October 27, 1862,

Alexandria.

… I arrived here “all right,” having lost a
day by the giorno di festa at Leghorn, where
we shipped a curious motley crew;—French
singers and Italian dancers for Cairo; a Spanish
grandee, like Don Quixote; Algerines,
Egyptians, four Levantine ladies; and one
poor Parisienne—a nice person, but so put
out by the “méridionaux.” I represented England.
I was as comfortable in the boat as
French want of order will permit. I had a
cabin to myself, and the food was excellent,
and beds clean, though hard. But I found
the motion of the screw most distressing; it
became like the slow torture of the drop of
water.
I shall go on to Cairo in a few days. I am

dismayed at the noise and turbulence of the
people here, after the soft voices and gentle
ways of the Cape blacks. The weather is
beautiful at present, but threatens rain. It
is cool, but so bright after the dull South
of France. The difference of atmosphere between
Europe and Africa is wonderful; even
Malta wants the clearness of Egypt, and this
is far more misty than the Cape, but equally
beautiful in a different way. I was delighted
with Valetta, which seemed to me the most
beautiful town I ever saw;—all so handsome
and solid.
I am now going with the eldest Levantine
girl to Sa-eed Pasha's hareem, where she is
very intimate. She told the Princess that I
had been very kind to her at sea when she
was sick, and I was consequently invited to go
to see the hareem.
I am frightened at the dearness of everything
here. I found it quite impossible to get
on without a servant able to speak English.
The janissary of the American Consul-General
recommended to me a youth called Omar
(surnamed “the Father of sweets”), whom I
have taken. He is an enthusiast about the

Nile; and if Cairo has a cheap boat, Omar
will take it. I don't think I should get much
good out of life in an Eastern town; the dust
is intolerable, and the stuffiness in-doors very
unwholesome. There is none of the out-doors
existence which was so healthy at the Cape.
My cough is bad, but Omar says I shall lose it
and “eat plenty” as soon as I see a crocodile.
Yesterday I went with Mr. Thayer, the
American Consul-General, who is equally kind
and agreeable, and Hekekian Bey to see a
few palaces; oh, what ignoble, shabby-genteel!
One of them is merely a “Yankee notion”
brought piecemeal from New York, and
stuck up by the sea. I asked a poor lad at
work there for a piece of the bread (filthy
cakes, compounded of dirt, straw, and some
grain quite unknown to me) which the labourers
crouching about the half finished, half
ruined palace were eating, and gave him sixpence.
It was touching, the eagerness with
which he threw more and more and more into
the carriage to make up the value of such a
coin. Contrary to my expectation, I find no
begging here at all, only a great desire to be
paid the uttermost penny. Nor could I blame

even more than that in such a state of society.
When I find myself fleeced by Christian and
civilized men, shall not a poor Arab likewise
scrape a few faddahs off me? Allah forbid!
Neither are the voices so bad as I expected.
Every one bawls as loud as he can; but the
organe is deeper and less screeching than the
French or Italian. There is none of the pleasant
avenante manner and smiling look to
which I grew familiar at the Cape; but the
people are prodigiously handsome;—lads like
John of Bologna's Mercury, with divine legs,
and young women so lovely in their dirt and
scanty drapery; and among the Bedawee men
I have seen simply the two handsomest men
I ever beheld. Likewise the camels enchant
me, and the date-palms.
But on the other hand, all is profoundly
melancholy; the people's faces, the surface of
the country, the dirt, the horrible wretchedness,
the whacking of the little boys and girls
who do all the work which Irish hodmen do
with us. Such is my first impression of the
land of Egypt; but Omar's eager description
of Cairo and the Nile makes me expect something
much more agreeable. If we reach

Nubia, we are to take a present of salt from
Shaheen, J——'s nice red servant (for he is
in form and colour the exact likeness of a hieroglyphic
figure), to his parents; likewise to
give them money on his account, should they
need it. He has the dearest little brother,
who is for ever in the hall here, and the Bowwáb's
bench is the scene of incessant study.
An old whitebearded man teaches reading and
writing to Shaheen and a select circle of
friends, and Shaheen's white slate looks very
creditable indeed to my ignorant eye. The
children are mostly hideous here, and cry incessantly.
The donkey boy roared because
Omar proceeded to change the saddle, but
Shaheen tranquillized him with a cuff sufficient
to fell an ox; whereupon every one was
happy and pleased at once,—particularly the
donkey boy, which seemed odd to me. But
after cursing me and my saddle, he all at
once became intensely loving, and would hug
my feet and knees—an attention alike disinterested
and undesired.
In the hut under the bedroom window, a
poor woman is dying of consumption, which
seems to be very common here, judging from

the faces one sees and the coughs one hears;
a baby, too, is ill. The anxious distress of the
friends is very affecting, and quite contrary to
the commonplace talk about Eastern apathy,
hardness, etc. Their faces and behaviour
show ten times the feeling of the common
people in some parts of Europe; what is not
pleasant, is the absence of all brightness or
gaiety, even from young and childish faces.
The very blacks here can't get up so much as
a broad smile; a good laugh I have not yet
heard. A stronger contrast than my present
henchman, Omar, with his soft but anxious
eyes and supple figure, and my last year's
driver at the Cape, Choslullah, the world
could not afford. The Malay's sturdy figure and
beaming smile spoke independence as plainly
as possible, while these young men, Omar and
Shaheen, are more servile in look and gesture
than is pleasant to me.

[Back to top]


9

LETTER III.

Grand Cairo,

11th November, 1862.

I WRITE to you out of the real Arabian Nights.
Well may the Prophet (upon whom be peace!)
smile, when he looks down on Cairo. It is
a golden existence, all sunshine and poetry,
and, I must add, all kindness and civility. I
came up last Thursday by railway with the
American Consul-General, and had to stay at
Shepherd's Hotel; but I do little but sleep
there. Hekekian Bey, a learned old Armenian,
takes care of me every day, and the American
Consul is my sacrifice.
I went on Sunday to an Armenian christening,
and heard Sákneh, “the restorer of
hearts.” She is wonderfully like Rachel in person
and manner, and her singing is hinreissend
from expression and passion. There was a

grand fantasia. People feasted all over the
house, and in the streets. Arab music clanged,
women cried the Zaghareet, black servants
served sweetmeats, pipes, and coffee, and behaved
as if they belonged to the company, and
I was strongly under the impression that I was
at Noor-ed-Deen's wedding with the Wezeer's
daughter. Yesterday I went to Heliopolis
with Hekekian Bey and his wife, and visited
an Armenian country lady close by.
My servant Omar turns out a jewel. He
has discovered an excellent boat for the Nile
voyage; and I am to be mistress of a captain,
a steersman, eight men, and a cabin-boy, for
£25 a month. I went to Boolák, the port of
Cairo, and saw various boats, and admired the
way in which English travellers pay for their
insolence and caprices. Similar boats cost
people with dragomans from £50 to £65.
But then, “I shall lick the fellows,” etc. The
dragoman, I conclude, pockets the difference.
The owner of the boat, Seedee Ahmad el Berberee,
asked £30, whereon I touched my breast,
mouth, and eyes, and stated, through Omar,
that I was not, like other Inkeleez, made of
money, but would give £20. He then showed

me another boat at £20, very much worse, and
I departed (with fresh civilities) and looked
at others, and saw two more for £20, but neither
was clean, and neither had a little boat
for landing. Meanwhile, Seedee Ahmad came
after me, and explained that if I was not
like other Inkeleez in money, I likewise differed
in politeness, and had refrained from
abuse, etc. etc., and I should have the boat
for £25. It was so excellent in all its fittings,
and so much larger than the others, that I
thought it would make a great difference in
health; so I said if he would go before the
American Vice-Consul, and would promise all
he had said to me before him, it should be well.
The American Consul-General gives me letters
to every consular agent depending on him,
and two Coptic merchants of Girgeh and Kineh,
whom I met at the fantasia, have already
begged me to “honour their houses” I rather
think the agents, who are all Copts, will think
I am the Republic in person.
The weather has been all this time like a
splendid English August. There is no cold
here at night, as at the Cape; but the air is
nothing like so clear or bright. It was pleasant

to find that Hekekian Bey and the American
Vice-Consul exactly confirmed all that
Omar had told me about what I must take and
what it would cost; they thought I might perfectly
trust him. He put everything at just
one-fourth of what the Alexandrian English
told me, and even less. Moreover, he will cook
on board; the kitchen, which is a hole in the
bow where the cook must sit cross-legged,
would be impossible for a woman to crouch
down in. Besides, Omar will avoid everything
unclean, and make the food such as he may
lawfully eat. He is a pleasant, cheerful
young fellow, and I think he rather likes the
importance of taking care of me, and showing
that he can do as well as a dragoman at £ 12
a month. It is characteristic that he turned
his month's wages and the “£2 for a coat”
into a bracelet for his little wife before leaving
home. That is the Arab savings-bank.
I dined at Hekekian Bey's after the excursion
yesterday. He is a most kind, friendly
man, and very pleasant and cultivated. He
dresses like an Englishman, speaks English
like ourselves, and is quite like an uncle to me
already.

13

Omar took S——yesterday sight-seeing all
day, while I was away, into several mosques.
In one he begged her to wait a minute, while
he said a prayer. They compare notes about
their respective countries, and are great friends;
but he is quite put out at my not having provided
her with a husband long ago, as is one's
duty towards a “female servant,”—which here
always means a slave.
Of all the falsehoods I have heard about the
East, the assertion that women are old hags at
thirty is the greatest. Among the poor Felláh
women it may be true enough, but not nearly
so true as in Germany; and I have now seen
a considerable number of Levantine ladies
looking very handsome, or at least comely, till
fifty. The lady we visited yesterday was forty-eight,
and her daughter a good deal above
twenty. The mother was extremely handsome,
though very untidy; and the daughter, with
two children, the eldest of whom is four years
old, looked sixteen. I saw the same in four
or five cases at the fantasia. Sákneh, the Arab
Grisi, is fifty-five. Her face is ugly, I am told.
She was veiled, and we only saw her eyes
and glimpses of her mouth when she drank

water; but she has the figure of a leopard, all
grace and beauty, and a splendid voice of its
kind—harsh, but thrilling, like Malibran's.
I guessed her thirty, or perhaps thirty-five.
When she improvised, the finesse and elegance
of her whole manner were ravishing; and I
was on the point of shouting out “Máshá-alláh!”
as heartily as the natives. The eight younger
“A'limeh” (i.e. “learned women,” which we
English call Almeh, and think it an improper
word) were ugly, and screeched. Sákneh was
treated with great consideration and quite as
a friend by the Armenian ladies, with whom
she talked between her songs. She is a Muslimeh,
and very rich and charitable. She gets
at least fifty pounds for a night's singing.
It would be very easy to learn colloquial
Arabic, as they all speak with such perfect
distinctness that one can follow the sentences
and catch the words one knows as they occur.
I think I know forty or fifty words already.
The reverse of the brilliant side of the
medal in this country is sad enough;—deserted
palaces and crowded hovels, scarce good
enough for pigsties. “One day a man sees his
dinner, and one other day he sees none,” as

Omar observes; and the children are shocking
to look at from bad food, dirt, and overwork;
yet the little pot-bellied, blear-eyed wretches
grow up into noble young men and women
under all their difficulties. But the faces are
all sad, and rather what the Scotch call dour,
—not méchantes at all, but harsh, like their
voices; all their melody is in walk and gesture.
They are as graceful as cats, and the
women have exactly the “breasts like pomegranates”
of their poetry.
A tall Bedawee woman came up to us in
the field yesterday, to shake hands and look
at us. She wore a white sackcloth shirt and
veil, and nothing else. She asked Hekekian
a good many questions about me, looked at
my face and hands, but took no notice of my
rather smart gown which the village women
admired so much, shook hands again with the
air of a princess, wished me health and happiness,
and strode off across the graveyard like
a stately ghost. She was on a journey, all
alone; and somehow it was very solemn and
affecting to see her walking away towards
the desert in the setting sun, like Hagar. All
is so scriptural in the country here. S——

called out in the railroad, “There is Boaz sitting
in the cornfield;” and so it was; and
there he has sat for how many thousand
years! And in one war-song Sákneh sang as
Miriam, the prophetess, may have done when
she took a timbrel in her hand and went out
to meet the host.
Wednesday.—My contract was drawn up and
signed by the American Vice-Consul to-day,
and my Reyyis kissed my hand in due form;
after which I went to the bazaar and sat on
many a divan to buy the needful pots and pans.
The transaction lasted an hour. The copper
is so much per oka, the workmanship so much.
Every article is weighed by a sworn weigher,
and a ticket sent with it. More Arabian
Nights. The shopkeeper compares notes with
me about numerals, and is as much amused as
I. He treats me to coffee and pipes from a
neighbouring shop, while Omar eloquently depreciates
the goods, and offers half the value.
A waterseller offers a brass cup of water; I
drink, and give the huge sum of twopence,
and he distributes the contents of his skin to
the crowd (there is always a crowd) in my
honour. It seems I have done a pious act.

Finally, a boy is called to carry the batterie
de cuisine
, while Omar brandishes a gigantic
kettle which he has picked up, a little bruised,
for four shillings. The boy has a donkey,
which I mount astride, à l'Arabe, while the
boy carries all the copper things on his head.
We are rather a grand procession, and quite
enjoy the fury of the dragomans and other
leeches who hang on the English, at such
independent proceedings; and Omar gets reviled
for spoiling the trade, by being cook and
dragoman and all in one. We sail this day
week, and intend to get to the Upper Cataract
as soon as we can, and come leisurely back.
I went this morning with Hekekian Bey to
the two earliest mosques. We were accosted
most politely by some Arab gentlemen, who
pointed out remarkable things, and echoed my
lamentations at the neglect and ruin of such
noble buildings (which Hekekian translated to
them) most heartily. That of the Tooloon is
exquisite, noble, simple, and what ornament
there is, is the most delicate lacework and embossing
in stone and wood. This Arab architecture is even more lovely than our Gothic.
The mosque of the citadel (Mohammad Alee's)

(where the English broke the lamps) is like,
a fine modern Italian church; but Abbas
Pasha stole the alabaster columns, and replaced
them by painted wood. The mosque
of Sultan Hasan (early in our fourteenth century)
is, I think, the most majestic building
I ever saw, and the beauty of the details quite
beyond belief to European eyes; the huge
gates to his tomb are one mass of the finest
enamel ornaments, as you may discover by
rubbing the dirt off with your glove. No one
has said a tenth part enough of the beauty
of Arab architecture. The Hasaneeyeh is even
grander than a Gothic cathedral, and all is in
the noblest taste. The old Tooloon mosque
is an absolute jewel of perfection and purity,
perfectly simple and yet with details of guipure
and embroidery in stone which one wishes
to kiss—they are so lovely; but the roof has
fallen in, and the great court is the dwelling
of paupers.
The Tooloon is now a vast poor-house—
quousque tandem.?” I went into three of
their lodgings. Several Turkish families were
in a largo square room neatly divided into
little partitions with old mats hung on ropes.

In each were as many bits of carpet, mat, and
patchwork as the poor owner could collect, and
a small chest, and a little brick cooking-place
in one corner of the room, with three earthen
pipkins, for I don't know how many people;—
that was all. They possess no sort of furniture;
but all was scrupulously clean, and no bad
smell whatever. A little boy seized my hand,
and showed where he slept, ate and cooked,
with the most expressive pantomime. As
there were women, Hekekian could not enter,
but when I came out an old man told us they
received three loaves (cakes as big as sailors'
biscuits), four piastres a month (i.e. sixpence)
per adult, a suit of clothes a year, and on
festive occasions, lentil soup: such is the almshouse
here. A little crowd belonging to that
house had collected, and I gave sixpence to
an old man to be divided (!) among them all,
—ten or twelve people at least, mostly blind
or lame. The poverty wrings my heart. We
took leave with saláms and politeness, like
people of the best society.
I then turned into an Arab hut, stuck
against the lovely arches. I stooped low
under the door, and several women crowded

in. This was still poorer than the last; for there
were no mats or rags of carpet, a still
worse cooking place, and a sort of dog-kennel,
piled up of loose stones to sleep in; it contained
a small chest, and the print of human
forms on the stone floor. It was however
quite free from dirt, and perfectly sweet. I
gave the young woman who had led me in
sixpence, and here the difference between Turk
and Arab appeared. The division of this sum
created a perfect storm of noise, and we left
five or six Arab women outshrieking a whole
rookery. I ought to say, however, that no
one begged at all.
I suppose I shall be thought utterly paradoxical
when I deny the much talked-of dirt.
The narrow, dingy, damp, age-blackened, dust-crusted,
unpaved streets of Cairo are sweet as
roses compared to those of the “Centre of Civilization;”
moreover an Arab crowd does not
stink, even under this sun. I beg to say that
S——will take her oath of this, contrary as it
is to our most cherished illusions. They are
ragged, utterly slovenly, and covered with dust,
but they do wash their bodies, and they don't
diffuse that disgusting human odour which offends

one in the most civilized countries of
the continent. I have been in a poor boys'
school, in the most miserable of workhouses,
and in the huts of a village, and I declare that
they are sweeter far than anything in Europe
of that class, or even higher. The dirt is in
fact dust, not foulness.
Friday.—I went to-day on a donkey to a
mosque in the bazaar of what we call the
“arabesque” style, like the Alhambra. The
kibleh was very beautiful; and as I was admiring
it, Omar pulled a lemon out of his
breast and smeared it on the porphyry pillar
on one side of the arch, and then entreated me
to lick it. It cures all diseases. The old man
who showed the mosque pulled eagerly at my
arm to make me perform this absurd ceremony,
and I thought I should have been forced to do
it. The base of the pillar was clogged with
lemon-juice.
I then went to the Tombs of the Memlook
Sultans; one of the great ones had the most
beautiful arches and wondrous cupolas, but all
in ruins. There are scores of these noble buildings,
any one of which is a treasure, falling to
decay.

22

The next I went to, strange to say, was - in
perfect repair. I got off the donkey, and
Omar fidgeted and hesitated a little, and consulted
with a woman who had the key. As
there were no overshoes, I pulled my boots off,
and was rewarded by seeing the footprints of
Mohammad in two black stones, and a lovely
little mosque,—a sort of sainte chapelle. Omar
prayed with ardent fervour, and went out
backwards, saluting the Prophet aloud. To my
surprise, the woman was highly pleased with
sixpence, and did not ask for more. When
I remarked this, Omar said that no Frank
had ever been inside, to his knowledge. A
mosque-keeper of the sterner sex would not
have let me in.
I returned home through endless streets
and squares of Muslim tombs, those of the
Memlooks among them. It is very striking;
and it was getting so dark that I thought of
Noor-ed-Deen Alee, and wondered if a jinnee
would take me anywhere if I took up my
night's lodging in one of the comfortable little
cupola-covered buildings.
I must now finish my letter, as the mail
will close to-night. My Coptic friend has just

called in, to say that his brother expects me
at Kiné. I find nothing but civility and desire
to please.
My boat is the Zeenet-el-Bahreyn, and I
carry the English flag and a small American
distinguishing pennant, as a signal to my consular
agents. We sail next Wednesday.

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24

LETTER IV.

Boat off Imbábeh,

November 21, 1862.

WE embarked yesterday, and after the fashion
of eastern caravans, are abiding to-day
at a village opposite to Cairo. It is Friday, and
therefore it would be improper and unlucky to
set out on our journey. What one pays here
on the exchange is frightful,—four shillings
in the pound for Egyptian money; and no
other is of any use for butter, milk, eggs, etc.
The scenes on the river are wonderfully diverting
and curious; so much life and movement.
But the boatmen are sophisticated.
My crew have all sported new white drawers, in
honour of the Sitt Inkeleezeeyeh. Of course
compensation will be expected. Poor fellows
they are very well mannered and quiet in their
rags and misery, and their queer little humming
song is rather pretty,—“Ei-yá Mohammad,

ei-yá Mohammad,” ad infinitum, except
when one more energetic man cries “Yalláh!”
(oh God!) Omar is gone to Cairo to fetch one
or two more unconsidered trifles, and I have
been explaining the defects to be remedied
in the cabin door, broken window, etc. to my
Reyyis, with the help of six words of Arabic
and dumb show, which they understand and
answer with wonderful quickness.
The air on the river is certainly quite celestial
—totally unlike the damp chilly feeling of the
hotel and Frank quarter of Cairo. The Ezbekeeyeh,
or public garden, where all Franks live,
was a lake, I believe, and is still very damp.
I shall go up to the Second Cataract as fast
as possible, and return back at leisure. Hekekian
Bey came and spent the day on board
here yesterday, to take leave. He lent me
several books. Pray tell Mr. Senior what a
kindness his introduction to this excellent man
has been. It would have been rather dismal
in Cairo, if one could be dismal there, without
a soul to speak to. I was sorry to know
no Turks or Arabs, and have no opportunity
of seeing any but the tradesmen of whom I
bought my stores; but even that was very

amusing. The young man of whom I bought - my
fingáns was so handsome, elegant, and melancholy,
that I knew he must be the lover of
the Sultan's favourite slave.
How I wish you were here to enjoy all
this,—so new, so beautiful, and yet so familiar!
And you would like the people, poor
things! they are complete children, but amiable
children. I went into the village here,
where I was a curiosity, and some women took
me into their houses and showed me their
sleeping-place, cookery, poultry, etc., and a man
followed me to keep off the children; but no
baksheesh was asked for, which showed that
Europeans were rare there. The utter destitution
is terrible to see, though in this climate,
of course, it matters less. But the much-talked-of
dirt is simply utter poverty. The
poor souls are as clean as Nile mud and water
will make their bodies; and they have not a
second shirt, or any bed but dried mud.
My cough has been better now for five days,
without a bad return of it. It is the first reprieve
for so long. The sun is so hot,—a regular
broil (Nov. 21),—and all doors and windows
open in the cabin,—a delicious breeze!

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27

LETTER V.

Feshn,

Monday, November 30, 1862.

I HAVE now been enjoying this most delightful
way of life for ten days, and am certainly
better. I begin to eat and sleep, and cough
less.
My crew are a great amusement to me.
They are mostly men from the First Cataract
about Aswán,—sleek-skinned, gentle, patient,
merry black fellows. The little black Reyyis
is the very picture of good-nature, and full of
fun, “chaffing” the girls as we pass the villages,
and always smiling. The steersman is of
lighter complexion, also very cheery, but decidedly
pious. He prays five times a day, and
utters ejaculations to the apostle “Rasool”
continually. He hurt his ankle on one leg
and his instep on the other, with a rusty nail,
and they festered. I dressed them with poultices,

and then with lint and strapping, with
perfect success, to the great admiration of all
hands, and he announced how much better he
felt. “Praise be to God, and thanks without
end, O lady!” and every one echoed the thanks.
The most important person on board is the
“weled” (boy), Ahmad—the most merry, clever,
omnipresent little rascal, with an ugly pug-nosed
face, a shape like an antique Cupid liberally
displayed, and a skin of dark brown
velvet. His voice, shrill and clear, is always
heard above the rest; he cooks for the crew;
he jumps overboard with the rope, and gives
advice on all occasions; grinds the coffee with
the end of a stick in a mortar, which he holds
between his feet, and if I go ashore for a
minute, uses the same large stick to walk
proudly before me, brandishing it and ordering
every one out of the way. “Yá Ahmad”
resounds all day whenever anybody wants anything,
and the “weled” is always ready and
able. My favourite is Osmán, a tall, long-limbed
black, who seems to have stepped out
of a hieroglyphical drawing, shirt, skull-cap,
and all. He has only those two garments, and
how any one contrives to look so inconceivably

“neat and respectable,” as S——said, in that
costume is a mystery. He is always at work,
always cheerful, but rather silent; in short, the
able seaman, and steady respectable “hand,”
par excellence. Then we have Ez-Zankalonee,
from near Cairo,—an old fellow of white complexion,
Sand a valuable person; an inexhaustible
teller of stories at night and always ‘en train;
full of jokes, and remarkable for dry
humour, much relished by the crew. I wish
I understood the stories, which sound delightful,
all about Sultans and Efreets, with effective
“points,” at which all hands exclaim
“Máshá-alláh” or “ah!” (as long as you can
drawl it out). The jokes perhaps I may as
well be ignorant of. There is also a certain
Shereef, who does nothing but laugh and work,
and be obliging; helps Omar with one hand and
S——with the other, and looks like a great
innocent black child. The rest of the dozen
are of various colours, sizes, and ages, some
quite old, but all very quiet and well behaved.
We have had either dead calms or contrary
winds all the time, and the men have worked
very hard at the towing-rope. On Friday I
proclaimed a halt at a village in the afternoon

at prayer-time, for the pious Muslims to go to - mosque.
This gave great satisfaction, though
only five went,—the Reyyis, steersman, Zankalonee,
and two old men. The up-river men
never pray at all, and Osmán occupied himself
by buying salt out of another boat and storing
it to take to his family, as it is terribly dear
high up the river. At Benee-Suweyf we halted
to buy meat and bread. There is one butcher,
who kills a sheep a day. I walked about
the streets, escorted by Omar in front, and two
sailors with huge staves behind, and created
a sensation accordingly. It is a dull little
country town, with a wretched palace of Sa-eed
Pasha's.
On Sunday we halted at Bibeh, where I
caught sight of a large Coptic church, and
sallied forth to see whether they would let
me in. The road lay past the house of the
head man of the village, and there “in the
gate,” sat a patriarch surrounded by his servants
and his cattle. Over the gateway were
crosses, and queer constellations of dots more
like Mithraic symbols than anything Christian;
but Girgis was a Copt (Kubtee), though chosen
head of the Muslim village. He rose as I

came up, stepped out and salámed, then took
my hand and said I must go into his house
and enter the hareem before I saw the church.
His old mother, who looked a hundred, and
his pretty wife, were very friendly; but as I
had to leave Omar at the door, our talk soon
came to an end, and Girgis took me into the
divan, without the sacred precincts of the hareem.
Of course we had pipes and coffee, and
he pressed me to stay some days, and to eat
with him every day and to accept all his house
contained. I took the milk he offered and
asked him to visit me in the boat, saying I
must return before sunset, when it gets cold,
as I was ill. The house was a curious specimen
of a wealthy man's house. I could not
describe it if I tried; but I felt as if I were
acting a passage in the Old Testament.
We went to the church, which looked like
nine beehives in a box. Inside, the nine domes,
resting on square pillars, were very handsome;
Girgis was putting it into thorough repair at
his own expense, and it will cost a good deal, I
think, to repair and renew the fine old wood
panelling of such minute and intricate workmanship.
The church is divided by three

screens; one in front of the eastern three domes
is impervious, and conceals the Holy of Holies.
He opened the horse-shoe door for me to look
in, but explained that no hareem might cross
the threshold. All was in confusion, owing to
the repairs, which were actively going on, without
the slightest regard to Sunday; but he
took up a large bundle, kissed it, and showed
it to me; what it contained I cannot guess, and
I scrupled to inquire through a Muslim interpreter.
To the right of this sanctum is the tomb
of a Muslim saint, enclosed under the adjoining
dome. Here we went in. Girgis kissed the
tomb on one side, while Omar salámed it on
the other;—a pleasant sight! They were much
more particular about our shoes than in the
mosques. Omar wanted to tie handkerchiefs
over my boots, as at Cairo, but the priest objected,
and made me take them off and march
about in the brick and mortar rubbish in my
stockings. I wished to hear the service, but it
was not to be till sunset; and, as far as I could
make out, not different on Sunday to other
days. The hareem sit behind a third screen, the
furthest removed from the holy screen, where
also was the font, locked up, and shaped like

a Muslim tomb in little. (“Hareem” is used
here, just like the German Frauenzimmer, to
mean a respectable woman; Girgis spoke of
me to Omar as “hareem.”) The Copts have
but one wife, but they shut her up even closer
than the Arabs do. The children were sweetly
pretty, so unlike the Arab brats, and the
men very good-looking. They did not seem to
acknowledge me at all as a coréligionnaire,
and asked whether we of the English religion
did not marry our brothers and sisters.
The priest asked me to drink coffee at his
house, close by, and then I “sat in the gate,”
i. e. in a large sort of den, raised two feet from
the ground and matted; to the left of the
gate a crowd of Copts collected and squatted
about. Presently we were joined by the
mason who was repairing the church:—a fine,
burly, rough-bearded old Muslim, who told
how the Sheykh buried in the church of Bibeh
had appeared to him three nights running at
Cairo, and ordered him to leave his work and
go to Bibeh and mend his church; how he
came, and offered to do so without pay, if the
Copts would find the materials. He spoke
with evident pride, as one who had received

a divine command, and the Copts all confirmed
the story, and every one was highly gratified
by the miracle.
I asked Omar if he thought it was all true,
and he had no doubt of it; the mason he
knew to be a man in full work, and Girgis
added that for years he had tried to get a man
to come for the purpose without success. It
is not often that a dead saint contrives to be
equally agreeable to Christians and Muslims,
and here was the staunch old “true believer”
working away, in the sanctuary which they
would not allow an English fellow-christian
to enter!
While we sat hearing these wonders, the
sheep and cattle coming home at eve pushed in
between us. The venerable old priest looked
so like Father Abraham, and the whole scene
was so pastoral and biblical, that I felt quite
as if my wish to live a little while a few thousand
years ago had been fulfilled. They wanted
me to stay many days; and when I told them
I could not do that, Girgis said I must stop
at Feshn, where he had a fine house and garden,
and he would go on horseback and meet
me there, and would give me a whole troop

of Fellaheen to pull the boat up quickly.
Omar's eyes twinkled with fun as he translated
this, and said he knew the Sitt would cry out,
as she always did, about the Fellaheen, as if
she were hurt herself. He told Girgis that the
English customs did not allow people to work
without pay, which evidently seemed very absurd
to the whole party.

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36

LETTER VI.

Tuesday,

Gebel Sheykh Embarak.

I STOPPED last night at Feshn, but finding
this morning that my Coptic friends were not
expected till the afternoon, I would not spend
the whole day there, and came on still against
wind and stream. If I could speak Arabic, I
should have enjoyed a few days with Girgis
and his family immensely, in order to learn
their ideas a little; but Omar's English is too
imperfect to get beyond elementary subjects.
The thing that strikes me most is the tolerant
spirit that I find every-where. They say,
“Ah, it is your custom!” and express no sort of
condemnation; and Muslims and Christians
appear perfectly good friends, as my story of
Bibeh goes to prove. I have yet to see the
much-talked-of fanaticism; at present I have

not met with a symptom of it. There were
thirteen Coptic families at Bibeh, and also
a considerable Muslim population who had
elected Girgis their head man, and kissed his
hand very heartily as our procession moved
through the streets. Omar said he was a very
good man and much liked.
The villages look like slight elevations in
the mud banks, cut into square shapes. The
best houses have neither paint, whitewash,
plaster, bricks, nor windows, nor any visible
roofs; at first they don't give one the notion of
human dwellings at all, but soon the eye gets
used to the absence of all that constitutes a
house in Europe; the impression of wretchedness
wears off, and one sees how picturesque
they are with palm-trees, and tall pigeon-houses,
and here and there the dome over a
saint's tomb.
The men at work on the river-banks are of
exactly the same colour as the Nile mud, with
just the warmer hue of the blood circulating
beneath the skin. Prometheus has just formed
them out of the universal material at hand, and
the sun breathed life into them. Poor fellows!
even the boatmen, ragged crew as they are, say,

“Ah! Fellaheen!” with a contemptuous pity,
when they see me watch the villagers at work.
The other day four huge barges passed us,
towed by a steamer, and crammed with some
hundreds of the poor souls, who had been torn
from their homes to work at the Isthmus of
Suez or some palace of the Pasha's for a nominal
piastre (three halfpence) a day, finding
their own bread and water and cloak. One of
my crew, Abd-er-Rasool, a black savage whose
function it is to jump overboard whenever the
rope gets entangled or anything is wanted,
recognized some relations of his own from
a village close to Aswán. There was much
shouting, and poor Abd-er-Rasool looked very
mournful all day. It may be his turn next.
Some of the crew disloyally remarked that
they were sure the men there wished they
were working for a Sitt Inkeleeyeh, as Abd-er-Rasool
told them he was. Think, too, what
splendid pay it must be that the boat-owner
can give out of £25 a month to twelve men,
after taking his own profits,—the interest of
money being enormous!
When I call my crew black, don't think of
negroes. They are elegantly-shaped Arabs,

and all gentlemen in manners; and the black
is transparent, with amber reflets under it in
the sunshine; a negro looks blue beside them.
I have learned a great deal that is curious
from Omar's confidences; he tells me his domestic
affairs and talks about the women of his
family, which he would not do to a man.
He refused to speak to his brother, a very
grand dragoman who was with the Prince of
Wales. This man came up to us in the hotel
at Cairo and addressed Omar, who turned his
back on him. I asked the reason, and Omar
told me how his brother had a wife, “an old
wife,—been with him long time, very good
wife.” She had had three children, all dead;
all at once the dragoman, who is much older
than Omar, declared he would divorce her and
marry a young woman. Omar said, “No, don't
do that, keep her in your house as head of
your household, and take one of your two black
slave-girls as your hareem;” but the other
insisted, and married a young Turkish wife;
whereupon Omar took his poor old sister-in-law
to live with him and his own young wife,
and cut his grand brother dead.
See how characteristic! the urging his brother

to take the young slave-girl “as his hareem,”
like a respectable man;—that would
have been all right; but what he did was “not
good.” “I'll trouble you” (as Mrs.——used
to say) to settle these questions to every one's
satisfaction.
Omar's account of the household of his
other brother, a confectioner, with two wives,
was very curious. He and his wife and they
all live together; one of the brother's wives
has six children; three sleep with their own
mother, and three with their other mother,
and all is quite harmonious.

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41

LETTER VII.

Asyoot,

December 10, 1862.

I COULD not send a letter from Minyeh, where
we stopped and I saw a sugar manufactory,
and visited a gentlemanly Turk who superintends
the district,—the Mudeer. I heard a boy
singing a Zikr to a party of Darweeshes in a
mosque, and I think I never heard anything
more beautiful and affecting; ordinary Arab
singing is harsh and nasal, but it can be wonderfully
moving.
Since we left Minyeh we have suffered
dreadfully from the cold. The chickens died
of it, and the Arabs look blue and pinched.
Of course it is my weather. Never were such
cold or such incessant contrary winds known.
To-day was better, and Wassef, a Copt here,
lent me his superb donkey to go up to a tomb

on the mountain. The tomb is a mere cavern,
it is so defaced; but the view of beautiful
Asyoot standing in the midst of a loop of
the Nile was ravishing;—a green deeper and
brighter than that of England, crowds of graceful
minarets, a picturesque bridge, gardens,
palm-trees, then the river encircling the picture,
and beyond it, the barren yellow cliffs as
a frame all round that. At our feet a woman
was being carried to the grave, and the boys'
voices rang out the Koran, full and clear, as
the long procession, first white turbans and
then black veils and robes, wound along.
It is all a dream to me; you can't think
what an odd effect it produces to take up an
English book and read it, and then to look
up and hear the men cry “Yá Mohammad!”
“Bless thee, Bottom, how art thou translated!”
It is the reverse of all one's former life, when
one sat in England and read of the East; and
now I live in the real true Arabian Nights,
and don't know whether “I be I, as I suppose
I be,” or not. I am afraid you will have to
pay more for all this trash than it is worth,
but I may not be able to write again.

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43

LETTER VIII.

Thebes,

December 20, 1862.

I HAVE had a long dawdling voyage up here,
but I enjoyed it much, and have seen and heard
many curious things. I have only stopped
here for letters, and shall go on at once to
Wadee Halfeh, as the weather is very cold
still, and I shall be better able to enjoy the
ruins when I return about a month hence;
and shall certainly prefer the tropics just now.
The oldest Nile traveller never know so cold a
winter; it is like sharp English October weather,
with interludes of hot days.
I can't describe the kindness of the Copts.
The men whom, as I told you, I met at a
party at Cairo, wrote to all their friends and
relations to be civil to me. Wassef's attentions
consisted, first, in lending me his splendid

donkey, and accompanying me about all day.
Next morning arrived a procession, headed by
his clerk, a gentlemanly young Copt, and
consisting of five black slaves, carrying a
live sheep, a huge basket of the most delicious
bread, a pile of cricket-balls of creamy butter,
a large copper caldron of milk, and a cage of
poultry. I was confounded, and tried to give
a baksheesh to the clerk, but he utterly declined.
At Girgeh one Mishrehgi was waiting
for me, and was in despair because he had only
time to get a few hundred eggs, two turkeys, a
heap of butter, and a can of milk. At Kiné
one Eesa (Jesus) also lent a donkey, and sent me
three boxes of delicious Mecca dates, which
Omar thought stingy. Such attentions are very
agreeable here, where good food is hard to be
had, except as gift. They all made me promise
to see them again on my return, and to
dine at their houses; and Wassef wanted to
make a fantasia, and have dancing girls.
How you would love the Arab women in the
country villages! I wandered off the other day
alone while the men were mending the rudder,
and fell in with a troop of them carrying
jars. Such sweet, attractive beings, all smiles

and grace. One beautiful woman pointed to
the village, and made signs of eating, and took
my hand to lead me. I went with her, admiring
my companions as they walked. Omar
came running after, and wondered I was not
afraid. I laughed, and said they were much
too pretty and kind-looking to frighten any
one, which amused them exceedingly. They
all wanted me to go and eat in their houses,
and I had a great mind to it; but the wind
was fair and the boat waiting, and I bade my
beautiful friends farewell. They asked if we
wanted anything,—milk or eggs,—for they
would give it with pleasure; it was not their
custom to sell things, they said. I offered a
bit of money to a little naked child, but his mother
would not let him take it. I shall never
forget the sweet engaging creatures at that
little village, or the dignified politeness of an
old weaver whose loom I walked in to look
at, and who also wished to “set a piece of
bread before me.” It is the true poetical pastoral
life of the Bible in the villages where
the English have not been, and happily they
don't land at the little places. Thebes has
become an English watering-place. There are

now nine boats lying here, and the great object
is to “do the Nile” as fast as possible. It
is a race up to Wadee Halfeh or Aswán. All
the English stay here “to make Christmas,”
as Omar calls it; but I shall go on, and do my
Christmas devotions with the Copts at Esneh
or Edfoo. I found that their seeming disinclination
to let one attend their religious
services, arose from an idea that we English
would not recognize them as Christians.
I wrote home a curious story of a miracle.
I find I was wrong about the saint being a
Muslim (and so is Murray); he is no less than
Mar Girgih, our own St. George himself.
Why he selected a Muslim mason, I suppose
he knows best. In a week I shall be in Nubia.
Some year we must all make this voyage, you
would revel in it.
If in the street I led thee, dearest,
Though the veil hid thy face divine,
They who beheld thy graceful motion
Would stagger as though drunk with wine.
Nay, e'en the holy Sheykh, while praying
For guidance in the narrow way,
Must needs leave off, and on the traces
Of thine enchanting footsteps stray.

47

O ye who go down in the boats to Dunnyat,
Cross, I beseech ye, the stream to Budallah,
Seek my beloved, and beg that she will not
Forget me,—I pray and implore her by Allah!
Fair as two moons is the face of my sweetheart,
And as to her neck and her bosom—Máshá-alláh!
And unless to my love I am soon reunited,
Death is my portion; I swear it by Allah!
So sings Alee Asleemee, the most débraillé
of my crew, but a charming singer, and a good
fellow; his songs are all amatory, except one
comic one abusing the Sheykh-el-Beled, “May
the fleas bite him!” Horrid imprecation! as
I know to my cost; for, after visiting the Coptic
monks at Girgeh, I came home to the boats
with myriads. S——said she felt like Rameses
the Great, so tremendous was the slaughter
of the active enemy.

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48

LETTER IX.

Thebes,

11th February, 1863.

ON arriving here last night, I found your
letter. Pray write again forthwith to Cairo,
where I hope to stay a few weeks on my return.
A clever old dragoman whom I knew
at Philae, offers to lend me furniture for a lodging,
or a tent for the desert; when I hesitated,
he said he was very well off, and it was not his
business to let things, but only to be paid for
his services by rich people; that if I did not
accept it as he meant it, he should be quite
hurt. This is what I have met with from
everything Arab,—nothing but kindness and
politeness. I shall say farewell to Egypt with
real regret; among other things, it will be
a pang to part with Omar, who has been my
shadow all this time, and for whom I have

quite an affection, he is so thoroughly good
and amiable.
We have had the coldest winter ever known
in Nubia,—such bitter north-east winds;
but when the wind, by great favour, did not
blow, the weather was heavenly. If the millennium
does come, I shall take out a good
deal of mine on the Nile. At Aswán I had
been strolling about, in that most poetically
melancholy spot, the granite quarry of old
Egypt, and burying-place of Muslim martyrs;
and as I came homewards along the bank, a
party of slave merchants, who had just loaded
their goods for Sennár out of the boat upon
the camels, were cooking, and asked me to
dinner. And oh! how delicious it felt to sit
on a mat among the camels, and strange bales
of goods, and eat the hot, tough bread, and
sour milk and dates, offered with such stately
courtesy. We got quite intimate over our leather
cup of sherbet (brown sugar-and-water);
and the handsome jet-black men, with features
as beautiful as those of the young Bacchus,
described the distant lands in a way
which would have charmed Herodotus. They
proposed to me to join them, “they had food

enough;” and Omar and I were equally inclined
to go.
It is of no use to talk of the ruins. Everybody
has said, I suppose, all that can be said;
but Philae surpassed my expectations. No
wonder the Arab legends of Anas-el-Wugood
are so romantic! and Aboo-Sembel, and many
more. The scribbling of names is quite infamous;
beautiful paintings are defaced by
Tomkins and Hobson, but, worst of all, Prince
Pückler Muskau has engraved his and his
Ordenskreuz, in huge letters and size, on the
naked breast of that august and pathetic giant
who sits at Aboo-Sembel.
I have eaten many strange things with strange
people in strange places; dined with a respectable
Nubian family (the castor-oil was trying);
been to a Nubian wedding (such a dance I
saw!); made friends with a man much looked
up to in his place—Kalabsheh,—inasmuch as
he had killed several intrusive tax-gatherers
and recruiting-officers. He was very gentlemanlike
and kind, and carried me up a place so
steep I could not have reached it without his
assistance. By the bye, going up is nothing but
noise and shouting, but coming down is fine

fun. “Fantaseeyeh Keteer,” as my excellent
little Nubian pilot said. My sailors all prayed
away manfully, and were horribly frightened.
I confess my pulse quickened, but I don't think
it was fear.
Below the Cataract I stopped for a religious
fête, and went to the holy tomb with a
remarkably handsome and graceful darweesh;
—the true feingemacht, noble Bedawee type.
He took care of me through the people, who
never had seen a Frank woman before, and
crowded fearfully. The holy man pushed the
true believers unmercifully, to make way for
me. He was particularly pleased at my not
being afraid of the Arabs. I laughed, and
asked if he was afraid of us. “Oh no! he would
like to come to England. When there he
would work to eat and drink, and then sit and
sleep in the church.” I was positively ashamed
to tell my religious friend that, with us, the
“house of God” is not the home of the poor
stranger. I asked him to eat with me, but
was holding a preliminary Ramadán (it begins
next week), and could not; but he brought
his handsome sister, who was richly dressed,
and begged me to visit him, and eat of his

bread, cheese, and milk. Such is the treatment
one finds if one leaves the high-road and
the baksheesh-hunting parasites. There are
plenty of gentlemen, barefooted, and clad in
a shirt and cloak, ready to pay attentions
which you may return with a civil look and
greeting, and if you offer a cup of coffee and
a seat on the floor, you give great pleasure.
Still more if you eat the durah and dates,
or bread and sour milk, with an appetite.
At Kóm Omboo we met with a Rifáee darweesh,
with his basket of tame snakes. After
a little talk, he proposed to initiate me; and
so we sat down and held hands like people
marrying. Omar sat behind me and repeated
the words as my “wakeel.” Then the Rifáee
twisted a cobra round our joined hands, and
requested me to spit on it; he did the same,
and I was pronounced safe, and enveloped in
snakes. My sailors groaned, and Omar shuddered
as the snakes put out their tongues;
the darweesh and I smiled at each other like
Roman augurs. I need not say the creatures
were toothless.
It is worth while going to Nubia to see the
girls. Up to twelve or thirteen, they are neatly

dressed in a bead necklace, and a leather fringe,
four inches wide, round their loins; and anything
so absolutely perfect as their shapes, or
so sweetly innocent as their look, cannot be
conceived. The women are dressed in drapery,
like Greek statues, and their forms are as perfect;
they have hard, bold faces, but very handsome
hair, plaited like the Egyptian sculptures
and soaked with castor-oil. The colour of the
skin is rich sepia-brown, as of velvet with the
pile; very dark, and the red blood glowing
through it,—unlike negro colour in any degree.
My pilot's little girl came in the dress
mentioned above, carrying a present of cooked
fish on her head, and some fresh eggs. She
was four years old, and so clever! I gave her
a captain's biscuit and some figs; and the little
pet sat with her little legs tucked under her,
and ate it so daintily; she was very long over it,
and when she had done, she carefully wrapped
up some more biscuit in a little rag of a veil,
to take home. I longed to steal her, she was
such a darling. One girl of thirteen was so
lovely, that even the greatest prude must, I
think, have forgiven her sweet, pure beauty.
But the women, though far handsomer, lack

the charm of the Arab women; and the men,
except at Kalabsheh, and those from far up
the country, are not such gentlemen as the
Arabs.
I shall stay here ten days or so, and then
return slowly, to get to Cairo on the 20th of
March, the last day of Ramadán. I have seen
so much that, like M. de Conti, “Je voudrais
être levée pour l'aller dire.”
Pray write soon and tell me all about every
one. Omar wanted to hear all that the “big
gentleman” said about ‘weled’ and ‘bint’
(the boy and girl), and is much interested about
Eton. He thinks that the Abu-l-Wilád (father
of the children) will send a sheep to the
‘fikee’ who teaches his son.
I long to bore you with travellers' tales.
I have learned a new code of propriety altogether;
“Cela a du bon et du mauvais,” like
our own. When I said “my husband,” Omar
blushed, and gently corrected me; when my
donkey fell in the street, he cried with vexation,
and on my mentioning it to Hekekian
Bey, he was quite indignant. “Why you say
it, ma'am? that shame!”—a faux pas, in fact.
On the other hand, they mention with perfect

satisfaction and pleasure all that relates to
the great source of honour and happiness,
the possession of children. A very handsome
and modest young Nubian woman, wishing to
give me the best present she could, brought a
mat which she had made and which had been
her marriage bed. It was a gift both friendly
and honourable, and as such I received it.
Omar translated her message with equal
modesty and directness. He likewise gave me
a full description of his own marriage. I intimated
that English people were not accustomed
to some words he used, and might be
shocked; upon which he said, “Of course I
not speak my hareem to English gentleman,
but to good lady, can speak it.”
“Good bye, dear——” No, that is improper,
I must say, “Oh, my Lord,” or “Father of
my son!”

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56

LETTER X.

Luxor,

February 17, 1863.

IT has been piercingly cold here for the last
six or seven weeks, with only now and then a
mild day. At Wadee Halfeh I longed to go
on to Khartoom to get warm.
It is fine here now since yesterday, and
here I shall stay till it is warm enough to
venture down the river. In all other respects
my journey has been most successful, and, to
me, enchanting. My crew are dear, good, lazy
fellows, or rather, children; their ways amuse
me infinitely. Omar is one of the best servants
I ever saw, and a cordon bleu of a cook,
which is lucky, as I have taken to eating. I
have sat on many divans and eaten many
quaint things with many strange and pleasant
hosts. Shaheen's family (who are quite great

gentry in Nubia) gave me a dinner: first course,
baked durah and dates; second, leathery bread
and sour milk; third, durah and dates. Shaheen's
two sisters, Rayeh and Khadeegeh, are
very handsome; and his mother touched me
by her anxiety to know “if her son was good.”
They shewed me his two black slaves and his
baby, a very fine one. I presented a baksheesh,
but was loaded with presents in return,—a
lamb, dates, etc.
Today we had a fantasia on horseback; the
jereed-throwing and lance business are beautiful.
I think Philae a bit of paradise, and
Aswán is beautiful; the old burial-ground there
charmed me more than I can express.

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58

LETTER XI.

March 10, 1863.

I HAVE a superb illumination to-night, improvised
by Omar in honour of the Prince of
Wales's marriage, and consequently am writing
with flaring candles, my lantern being on
duty at the mast-head; and the men are singing
an epithalamium, and beating the Darabukkeh
as loud as they can. Omar wishes he
could know exactly when the Prince “takes
his wife's face,” that we might shriek for joy,
according to Arab fashion. I am all the better
for the glorious air of Nubia and the high-up
country. Already we are returning into misty
weather. Even Nubia is not so clear and
bright as the Cape, though the sun is more
stingingly hot.
I dined with a Coptic friend in the hareem,
and was pleased with their family life; poor

Waseef ate his boiled beans rather ruefully,
while his wife and I had an excellent dinner,
she being excused fasting on account of a
coming baby. The Coptic fast is no joke, neither
butter, milk, eggs, nor fish being allowed
for fifty-five days. They made S——dine with
us, and Omar was admitted to wait and interpret.
Waseef's younger brother waited on
him, like those in the Bible, and his clerk, a nice
young fellow, assisted. Black slaves brought
the dishes in, and capital the food was. There
was plenty of joking between the lady and
Omar about Ramadán, which he has broken,
and the Nasránee fast, and also about the
number of wives allowed,—the young clerk
hinting that he rather liked that point in
Islám. I have promised to spend ten or
twelve days at their house if ever I go up the
Nile again. I can't describe how anxiously
kind these people were to me; one gets such
a wonderful amount of sympathy and real
hearty kindness here.
A curious instance of the affinity of the
British mind for prejudice is the way in which
every Englishman I have seen scorns the
Eastern Christians; and it is droll enough, that

sinners like Mr. Kinglake and me should be
the only people to feel the tie of “the common
faith” (vide ‘EŌthen’). A very pious Scotch
gentleman wondered that I could think of entering
a Copt's house; adding, that they were
the publicans (tax-gatherers) of this country,—
which is true. I felt inclined to mention
that better company than he or I had
dined with publicans, and even sinners. The
Copts are evidently the ancient Egyptians,—
the slightly aquiline nose and long eye are
the very same as those in the profiles on the
tombs and temples, and also like the very
earliest Byzantine pictures. Du reste, the face
is handsome, but generally sallow and rather
inclined to puffiness, and the figure wants the
grace of the Arabs; nor has any Copt the
thorough-bred distingué look of the meanest
man or woman of good Arab blood. Their
feet are the long-toed, flattish foot of the
Egyptian statue, while the Arab foot is classically
perfect, and you could put your hand
under the instep. The beauty of the Ababdeh,
black, naked, and shaggy-haired, is quite marvellous;
I never saw such delicate limbs and
features, or such eyes and teeth.

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61

LETTER XII.

A few miles below Girgeh,

March, 1863.

I AM wonderfully better; the fine air of Nubia
seemed to suit me as well as that of Caledon.
It has the same merits, and the same drawback
of violent winds. Fancy that meat kept
ten and fourteen days, under a sun which
even I was forced to cover my head before!
In Cairo you must cook your meat in two
days, and in Alexandria as soon as it is killed,
—and the sun is nothing there. But in Nubia
I walked till I wore out my shoes and
roasted my feet, and was as dry as a chip;
in Nubia, and as low down as Kiné, below
Thebes some way; after that it alters, and,
though colder, I perspire again. In Cairo the
winter has been terribly cold and damp, as
the Coptic priest told me yesterday at Girgeh.

He had been there, and suffered much from
colds and coughs. So I don't repent the expense
of the boat, for I am all the money the
better, and really think of getting well.
Now that I know the ways of the country
(which Herodotus truly says is like no other),
I see that I might have gone and lived at
Thebes, or at Kiné, or Aswán, on next to nothing;
but then how could I know it? The
English have raised a mirage of false wants
and extravagance, which the servants of the
country of course, some from interest, and
some from mere ignorance, do their best to
keep up. As soon as I had succeeded in
really persuading Omar that I was not as rich
as a Pasha, and had no wish to be thought so,
he immediately turned over a new leaf as to
what must be had, and said, “Oh, if I could
have thought an English lady would have
eaten and lived and done the least like Arab
people, I might have hired a house at Kiné
for you, and we might have gone up in a clean
passenger-boat; but I thought no English could
bear it.” At Cairo, where we shall be on the
19th, Omar will get a lodging, and borrow a
few mattresses and a table and chair, and, as

he says, “keep the money in our pocket, instead
of giving it to the hotel.”
I hope you got a letter I wrote from Thebes,
telling you that I had dined with the “blameless
Ethiopians.” I have seen all the temples in
Nubia and down as far as I have come, and nine
of the tombs of Thebes. Some are wonderfully
beautiful,— Aboo-Sembel, Kalabsheh, Kóm
Omboo,—a little temple at El-Káb, lovely,—
all three at Thebes; and most of all, Abydus.
Edfoo and Dendarah are the most perfect, Edfoo
quite perfect, but far less beautiful. But the
most beautiful object my eyes ever saw is the
island of Philæ it gives one quite the supernatural
feeling of Claude's best landscapes,
only not the least like them. The Arabs say
that Anas-el-Wugood, the most beautiful of
men, built it for his most beautiful beloved,
and there they lived in perfect beauty and
happiness all alone. If the weather had not
been so cold while I was there, I should have
lived in the temple, in a chamber sculptured
with the mystery of Osiris's burial and resurrection.
Omar cleaned it out, and meant to
move my things there for a few days, but it was
too cold to sleep in a room without a door.

64

The winds have been extraordinarily cold
this year, and are so still. We have had very
little of the fine warm weather, and really
have been pinched with cold most of the
time. I had to wear all my thickest winter
clothes and wraps; on the shore, away from
the river, would be much better for invalids.
Mustafa Agha, the consular agent at Thebes,
has offered me a house of his up among
the tombs, in the finest air, if ever I want
it. He is very kind and hospitable indeed to
all the English who come there. I went into
his hareem, and liked his wife's manners very
much. It was cheering to see that she henpecked
her handsome old husband completely.
They had beautiful children, and his boy,
about thirteen or so, rode and played jereed
one day, when Abdallah Pasha had ordered
the people of the neighbourhood to shew that
exercise to General Parker. I never saw so
beautiful a performance. The old General and
I were quite excited, and he tried it, to the
great amusement of the Sheykh-el-Beled. The
Sheykh and young Hasan, and old Mustafa,
wheeled round and round like beautiful hawks,
and caught the palmsticks thrown at them as

they dashed round. It was superb; and the
horses were good, although the bridles and
saddles were rags and ends of rope, and the
men tatterdemalions.
A little below Thebes I stopped, and

walked inland to Koos, to see a noble old
mosque falling to ruin. Few English had ever
been there, and we were surrounded by a
crowd in the bazaar. Instantly five or six
tall fellows with long sticks, improvised themselves
as a body-guard, and kept the people
off, who however were perfectly civil, and only
curious to see such strange “hareem;” and
after seeing us well out of the town, evaporated
as quietly as they came, without a word.
I gave about tenpence to buy oil, as it is Ramadán,
and the mosque ought to be lighted;
and the old servant of the mosque kindly
promised me full justice at the day of judgment,
as I was one of those Nazarenes of
whom the Lord Mohammad has said that they
are not proud, and wish well to the Muslimeen.
Mohammad Alee Pasha had confiscated
all the lands belonging to the mosque, and allowed
three hundred piastres (not two pounds a
month) for all expenses. Of course the noble

old building, with its beautiful carving and
arabesque mouldings, must fall down. There
was a smaller one beside it, where the servant
declared that anciently forty women lived
unmarried and recited Koran,—Muslim nuns,
in fact. I intend to ask the Alim, for whom I
have a letter from Mustafa Agha, about such
an anomaly.
Some way above Belyeneh, Omar asked
eagerly for leave to stop the boat, as a great
sheykh had called to us, and we should inevitably
have some disaster if we disobeyed.
So we stopped, and Omar said, “Come and
see the sheykh, ma'am.” I walked off and presently
found about thirty people, including all
my own men, sitting on the ground round St.
Simeon Stylites, without the column. A hideous
old man, like Polyphemus, utterly naked, with
the skin of a rhinoceros all cracked with
the weather, sat there, and had sat night and
day, summer and winter, motionless for twenty
years. He never prays, he never washes, he
does not keep Ramadán, and yet he is a saint.
Of course I expected a good hearty curse from
such a man; but he was delighted with my
visit, asked me to sit down, ordered his servant

to bring me sugar-cane, asked my name, and
tried to repeat it over and over again; he was
quite talkative and full of jokes and compliments,
and took no notice of any one else.
Omar and my crew smiled and nodded, and all
congratulated me heartily. Such a distinction
proves my own excellence (as the sheykh
knows all people's thoughts), and is sure to
be followed by good fortune. Finally, Omar
proposed to say the Fat'hah, in which all
joined except the sheykh, who looked rather
bored by the interruption, and who desired
us not to go so soon unless I were in a hurry.
A party of Bedawees came up on camels,
with presents for the holy man, but he took
no notice of them and went on questioning
Omar about me, and answering my questions.
What struck me was the total absence of any
sanctimonious air about the old fellow; he
was quite worldly and jocose. I suppose he
knew that his position was secure, and thought
his dirt and nakedness were sufficient proofs
of his holiness. Omar then recited the Fat'hah
again, and we rose and gave the servant a few
faddahs. The saint takes no notice of this
part of the proceedings, but he asked me to

send him twice my handful of rice for his
dinner,—an honour so great that there was a
murmur of congratulation through the whole
assembly. I asked Omar how a man could
he a saint who neglected all the duties of a
Muslim, and I found that he fully believed
that Sheykh Seleem could he in two places at
once; that while he sits there on the shore,
he is also at Mecca performing every sacred
function, and dressed all in green. “Many
people have seen him there, ma'am; quite
true.”
From Belyeneh we rode on pack donkeys
without bridles, and only my saddle, to Abydus,
six miles through the most beautiful
crops ever seen. The absence of weeds and
blight is wonderful, and the green of Egypt,
where it is green, would make English green
look black. Beautiful cattle, sheep, and camels
were eating the delicious clover, while
their owners camped in reed huts, during the
time the crops are growing. Such a lovely
scene, all sweetness and plenty! We ate our
bread and dates in Osiris's temple, and a woman
offered us buffalo milk on our way home,
which we drank warm out of the huge earthen

pan it had been milked in. At Girgeh I
found my former friend Mishreghi absent, but
his servants told some of his friends of my
arrival, and about seven or eight big black
turbans soon gathered in the boat.
A darling little Coptic boy came with his
father, and wanted a “kitáb” (book) to write in.
So I made one out of paper and the cover of
my old pocket-book, and gave him a pencil. I
also bethought me of showing him a picture-book,
which was so glorious a novelty that he
wanted to go with me to my town, “Beled el-Inkeleez,”
where more such books were to be
found.

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70

LETTER XIII.

Asyoot,

March 8, 1863.

HERE I found letters telling me of Lord Lansdowne's
death. Of course I know that his time
was come; but the thought that I shall never
see his face again,—that all that kindness and
affection is gone out of my life, is a great
blow. No friend could leave such a blank to
me as that old and faithful one, though the
death of younger ones might be more tragic;
but so many things have gone with him into
the grave. Many, indeed, will mourn that kind,
wise, steadfast man. Antiqua fides. No one,
nowadays, will be so noble, with such unconsciousness
and simplicity. I have bought two
Coptic turbans to make a black dress out of. I
thought I should like to wear it for him—here,
where “compliment” is out of the question.

71

I also had so bad an account of J——that
I have telegraphed to Alexandria, and shall
go there if she is not much better. If she
is, I shall hold to my plan, and see Benee-Hasan
and the Pyramids on my way to Cairo.
I found my kind friend, the Copt Waseef,
who had the letters, kinder than ever. He
went off to telegraph to Alexandria for me,
and showed so much feeling and real kindness,
that I was quite touched; it is such a
contrast to the hardness of colonial ways.
I feel very much better; can walk four or
five miles. All this in spite of really cold
weather, in a boat where nothing shuts within
two fingers' breadth. I long to be back
again with my own people. Good Waseef
has just been here to see whether I did not
want money, or anything.
March 10.—No telegram, but Waseef has
just sent a letter now come with good news,
so I shall start at once with an easy heart. I
dined and spent the day with Waseef and his
hareem. Such an amiable, kindly household!
I was charmed with their manner to each
other, to the slaves and family. His brother,
as in patriarchal times, waited on us at table.

The slaves (all Muslims) told Omar what an
excellent master they had.
Waseef lent me £10, as my captain wants
money, and I am to repay it to his slave in
Cairo, who does business for him. He had
meant to make a dance fantasia for me, but
as I had not good news, it was countermanded

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73

LETTER XIV.

Cairo,

March 19, 1863.

AFTER leaving Asyoot, I caught cold. The
worst of going up the Nile is that you must
come down again, and find horrid fogs and
cold nights, with sultry days; so I did not
attempt Sakkárah and the Pyramids, but came
a day before my appointed time to Cairo.
Here in the town it is much warmer and
drier. …

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74

LETTER XV.

Cairo,

Friday, April 9, 1863.

I HAVE had a very severe attack of bronchitis,
and have gone through all the old long
tedious story of cough and utter weakness.
Omar wisely went for Hekekian Bey, who
came at once, bringing Deleo Bey, the surgeon-in-chief
to the Pasha's troops, and also
the doctor to the Hareem. He has been most
kind, coming two and three times a day. He
won't take any fee, under the pretext that he
is “officier du Pacha.” I must send him some
present from England. As to Hekekian Bey,
he is absolutely the good Samaritan; and
these Orientals do their kindnesses with such
an air of enjoyment to themselves, that it
seems quite a favour to let them wait upon
one. Hekekian comes in every day with his

handsome old face and a budget of news,—all
the gossip of the Sultan and his doings. I am
up to-day for the second time. The weather
has been chilly, and two days' rain! I am
waiting for a warm day to go out. I hear the
illuminations last night were beautiful. The
Turkish bazaar was gorgeous. To-morrow
the Mahmal goes. Think of my missing that
sight
I have a black slave—a real one. I looked
at her little ears, wondering they had not been
bored for rings. She fancied I wished them
bored. She was sitting on the floor, close at my
side, and in a minute she stood up, and showed
me her ear, with a great pin stuck through it,
“Is that well, lady?” The creature is eight
years old. The shock nearly made me faint.
What extremity of terror had reduced that
little mind to such a state? When she first
came, she tells me, she thought I should eat
her; now, her dread is that I shall leave her
behind. She sings a wild song of joy at
M——'s picture, and about the little Sitt.
She was sent from Khartoom a present to the
American Consul, who had no woman-servant
in his house. He fetched me to look at her,

and when I saw the terror-stricken creature
roughly pulled about by his cook and groom,
I said I would take her for the present. She
sings quaint little Kurdufán songs all day. She
had never seen a needle, and in a fortnight
she sews very neatly and quickly. She wails
aloud when Omar tells her she is not my slave.
She is very quiet and gentle, poor little savage!
but blacker than ebony. The utter slavishness
of the poor little soul quite upsets
me. She has absolutely no will of her own.
I am quite ready to do whatever is thought
best in the summer. Deleo Bey can give no
opinion, as he knows little but Egypt, and
thinks England rather like Norway, I fancy.
Only don't let me be put in a dreadful mountain
valley to inhale those dismallest of vapours.
I hear the drip, drip, drip of Eaux
Bonnes when I am chilly and oppressed in my
sleep.

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77

LETTER XVI.

Cairo,

April 13, 1863.

I HAVE been ill again. The fact is that the
spring in Egypt is very trying, and I came
down the river a full month too soon. People
do exaggerate so about the heat. To-day is
the first warm day we have had: till now I
have been shivering.
I have been out twice for a drive, and saw
the sacred Camel bearing the Holy Mahmal,
rest for its first station outside the town. No
words can describe the departure of the Holy
Mahmal and the pilgrims for Mecca. I sat for
hours in a Bedawee tent in a sort of dream.
It is the most beautiful sight of man and
beast, and colour and movement; and their
first encampment is in a glorious spot, among
the domes and minarets of the ruined tombs
of the Memlook Sultans.

78

It is a deeply-affecting sight, when one
thinks of the hardships all these men are prepared
to endure. Omar's eyes were full of
tears and his voice husky with emotion as he
talked about it, and pointed out the Mahmal
and the Sheykh-el-gemel who leads the Sacred
Camel, naked to the waist, with flowing hair.
I loitered about a long time admiring the
glorious “free people.” The Bedawee and the
Maghrabee and their noble-looking women
are magnificent, and the irregular Turkish and
Arab horsemen, so superior to the drilled cavalry,
are wildly picturesque. To see a Bedawee
and his wife walk through the streets
of Cairo is superb. Her hand resting on his
shoulder, and scarcely deigning to cover her
haughty face, she looks down on the Egyptian
veiled woman who carries the heavy burden
and walks behind her lord and master.
Muslim piety is so unlike what Europeans
think it: it is so full of tender emotions, so
much more sentimental than we imagine, and
it is wonderfully strong. I used to hear Omar
praying outside my door while I was so ill,
“O God, make her better!” “Oh, may God
let her sleep!” as naturally as we should say,

“I hope she will have a good night.” I found
great kindness here, Hekekian Bey came to
see me every day, and Deleo Bey, the doctor,
attended me with the utmost care and tenderness.
It had an odd, dreamy effect to hear
old Hekekian Bey and my doctor discoursing
in Turkish at my bedside. I shall always fancy
the good Samaritan in a tarboosh and white
beard and very long eyes.
The Sultan's coming is a kind of riddle. No
one knows what he wants. The Pasha has
ordered all the women of the lower classes to
keep indoors while the Sultan is here. Arab
women are outspoken, and might shout out
their grievances to the Great Sultan. I fear
I shall not see Sakkárah or the Pyramids, for
strength returns very slowly after such an illness
as I have had.
I am going to visit the old Muslim French
painter's family. He has an Arab wife and
grown-up daughters. He is a very agreeable
old man, and has a store of Arab legends;
I am going to persuade him to write them
down, and let me translate them into English.
The Sultan goes away to-day. He and his suite
have eaten nothing but what came from Constantinople;

even water to drink was brought.
I heard that from Hekekian Bey, who formerly
owned the eunuch who is now Kislar Azi to
the Sultan himself; so Hekekian had the honour
of kissing his old slave's hand.
If any one tries to make you believe any
nonsense about “civilization” in Egypt, laugh
at it. The real life and the real people are
exactly as described in that most veracious of
books, the ‘Thousand and One Nights.’ The
tyranny is the same, the people are not altered;
and very charming people they are. If
I could but speak the language, I could get
into Arab society through two or three different
people, and see more than many Europeans
who have lived here all their lives. The Arabs
are deeply alive to the least prejudice against
them; but when they feel quite safe on that
point, they rather like the amusement of a
stranger.
Omar devised a glorious scheme, if I were
only well and strong, of putting me in a tahktrawan
and taking me to Mecca in the character
of his mother, supposed to be a Turk.
To a European man of course it would be impossible,
but an enterprising woman might do

it easily with a Muslim confederate. Fancy
seeing the pilgrimage!
In a few days I must go down to Alexandria.
Thus do Arabs understand competition;
the owner of boats said that so few were
wanted, times were so bad on account of the
railway, etc. etc., that he must have double
what he used to have. In vain Omar argued
that this was not the way to get employment.
Máleysh! (never mind.) Is not that Eastern?
Up the river, where there is no railroad, I
might have it at half that rate. All you have
ever told me as most Spanish in Spain is in
full vigour here; and also I am reminded of
Ireland at every turn. The same causes produce
the same effects.
To-day the Khamaseen is blowing, and it is
decidedly hot: the heat is quite unlike that at
the Cape: this is close and gloomy,—no sunshine.
Altogether the climate is far less bright
than I expected; very inferior to that of the
Cape. Nevertheless I heartily agree to the
Arab saying, “He who has drunk the Nile
water will ever long to drink it again.” S——
says all other water after that of the Nile is
like bad small-beer compared to sweet ale.

82

When the Khamaseen is over, Omar insists
on my going to see the tree and the well
where Sittina Maryam (the Virgin Mary) rested
with Seyyidna Eesa in her arms during the
flight into Egypt. It is venerated by Christian
and Muslim alike, and is a great place
for feasting and holiday-making out of doors,
which the Arabs so dearly love.
It would be delightful to have you at Cairo.
Now I have pots and pans, and all things needful
for a house but a carpet and a few mattresses,
you could camp with me à l'Arabe.
How you would revel in old Masr-el-Kahirah,
peep up at lattice-windows, gape like a “Ghasheem”
(green one) in the bazaar, go wild in
the mosques, laugh at portly Turks and dignified
sheykhs on their white donkeys, drink
sherbet in the streets, ride wildly about on
a donkey, peer under black veils at beautiful
eyes, and feel generally intoxicated! I am
quite a good cicerone now of the glorious old
city. Omar is in rapture at the idea that
“Seedee-el-kebeer” (the great Master) might
come. Mashá-alláh! how our hearts would
be dilated!
It may amuse you to see what impression

Cairo makes. I ride along on my valiant donkey,
led by the stalwart Hasan, and attended
by Omar, and constantly say, “Oh, if our master
were here, how pleased he would be!”
(Husband is not a correct word). I went
out again to the tombs yesterday. Omar witnessed
the destruction of some of the most exquisite
buildings; the tombs and mosques of
the Memlook Sultans, which Saeed Pasha used
to divert himself with bombarding, for practice
for his artillery. Omar was then in the
boy-corps of camel artillery, now disbanded.
Thus the Pasha added the piquancy of sacrilege
to barbarism.
Our street and our neighbours would divert
you. Opposite lives a Christian dyer, who
must be a seventh brother of the admirable
Barber; he has the same impertinence, loquacity,
and love of meddling with everybody's
business. I long to see him thrashed, though
he is a constant comedy. The Arabs next-door,
and the Levantines opposite, are quiet enough;
but how do they eat all the cucumbers they
buy of the man who cries them every morning
as “fruit gathered by sweet girls in the
garden with the early dew”?

84

The more I see of the hack slums of Cairo,
the more in love I am with it. The dirtiest
lane of Cairo is far sweeter than the best
street of Paris. Here there is the dirt of negligence,
and the dust of a land without rain,
but nothing disgusting; and decent Arabs are
as clean in their personal habits as English
gentlemen. As to the beauty of Cairo, that
no words can describe: the oldest European
towns are tame and regular in comparison;
and the people are so pleasant. If you smile
at anything that amuses you, you get the
kindest, brightest smiles in return; they give
hospitality with their faces, and if one brings
out a few words, “Máshá-alláh! what Arabic
the Sitt Inkeleezeeyeh speaks!” The Arabs are
clever enough to understand the amusement
of a stranger, and to enter into it, and are
amused in turn, and they are wonderfully unprejudiced.
When Omar explains to me their
views on various matters, he adds, “The Arab
people think so; I not know if right.” And
the way in which the Arab merchants worked
the electric telegraph, and the eagerness of
the Fellaheen for steam-ploughs, are quite extraordinary.
They are extremely clever and

nice children, easily amused, and easily roused
into a fury, which lasts five minutes and leaves
no malice; and half the lying and cheating of
which they are accused, comes from misunderstanding
and ignorance. When I first took
Omar he was by way of ten or twenty pounds
being nothing for my dignity; but as soon as
I told him that the Master was a Bey who had
a salary but no baksheesh, he was as careful
as for himself. The Arabs see us come here
and do what only their greatest Pashas do,—
hire a boat to ourselves,—and of course think
our wealth boundless. The lying is mostly from
fright. They dare not suggest a difference of
opinion to a European, and lie to get out of
scrapes which blind obedience has often got
them into.
As to the charges of shopkeepers, that is
the custom; and the haggling, a ceremony
you must submit to. It is for the purchaser
or employer to offer a price and fix wages,—the
inverse of Europe. If you inquire the price,
they ask for something fabulous at random.
A few hundred pounds could be pleasantly
spent in the bazaars here. Carpets, gay blankets,
etc., are cheap and lovely. Cairo is the

Arabian Nights; there is a little Frankish varnish
here and there, but the government, the
people, all are unchanged since that most faithful
picture of manners was drawn.
The Christians are far more close and reserved
and backward than the Arabs, and they
have been so repudiated by Europeans that they
are doubly shy of us. The Europeans resent
being called “Nasráriee,” as a genteel Hebrew
gentleman may shrink from the word “Jew.”
But I said boldly, “I am a Nazarene, praise
be to God!” and found that it was much approved
by the Muslims as well as the Copts.
Curious things are to be seen here in religion:
Muslims praying at the tomb of Mar Girgis
(St. George), and at the resting-places of Sittina
Maryam and Seyyidna Eesa, and miracles
bran-new of an equally mixed description.
If you have any power over any artist, send
him to paint here; no words can describe
either the picturesque beauty of Cairo or the
splendid forms of the people in Upper Egypt,
and, above all, in Nubia. I was in raptures at
seeing how superb an animal man (and woman)
really is; my donkey-girl at Thebes, dressed
like a Greek statue, “Ward esh-Shám” (the

rose of Syria) was a feast to the eyes. And here
too, what grace and sweetness! and how good
is a drink of Nile water out of an amphora
held to your lips by a woman as graceful as
she is kindly! “May it benefit thee!” she
says, smiling with her beautiful teeth and
eyes.
The days of the beauty of Cairo are numbered:
the superb mosques are falling to decay,
the exquisite lattice-windows are rotting
away and replaced by European glass and
jalousies; only the people and the government
remain unchanged.

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88

LETTER XVII.

Alexandria,

May 12, 1863.

I HAVE been here a fortnight, but the climate,
although very warm, disagrees with me
so much that I am going back to Cairo at
once, by the advice of the French doctor of
the Suez Canal. I fancy I can stay at Cairo
a month perhaps, and then I hope to go home,
or, if not well enough for that, to go some
where in the south of Europe. I cannot at
all shake off the cough here. The American
Consul kindly lends me his nice little bachelor-house,
and I take Omar back again for the
job. It is very hot here, but with a sea-breeze
which strikes me like ice. Strong people enjoy
it, but it gives even J——cold in the head.
I am terribly disappointed at not being as
materially better as I hoped I should be, while

in Upper Egypt. I cannot express the longing
I have for home and my children, and how
much I feel the sort of suspense my illness
causes to you all. Perhaps Cairo will cure
this cough, and then I may venture home in
July. Next winter will cost very little, as all
my cooking things and boat-furniture are safe
at Cairo with my washerwoman, and Mustafa
will lend me a house at Thebes, and there
will be steamers up the Nile then; so I shall
save all the boat expenses, which are so great,
and shall live for nothing up there. When I
went yesterday to deposit my goods at the worthy
old woman's house, the neighbours seeing
me arrive on my donkey, followed by a cargo
of pots and pans, thought I was come to live
there, and came running out. I was patted
on the back and welcomed, and overwhelmed
with offers of service to help to clean my house,
etc. Of course all rushed upstairs, and my
washerwoman was put to a great expense in
pipes and coffee.
One must come to the East to understand
absolute social equality. As there is no education,
and no reason why the donkey boy who
runs beside me may not become a great man,

and as all Muslims are ipso facto brothers,
money and rank are looked on as mere accidents;
and my savoir vivre was highly thought
of, because I sat down with Fellaheen, and
treated every one alike, as they treat each other.
In Alexandria all that is changed; the European
ideas and customs have nearly extinguished
the Arab, and those which remain are
not improved by the contact. Only the Bedawee
preserve their haughty nonchalance. I
found the Maghrabee bazaar full of them when
I went to buy a white cloak, and was amused
at the way in which one splendid bronze figure,
who lay on the shop-front, moved one leg to
let me sit down. They grew interested in my
purchase, and assisted in making the bargain
and wrapping the long cloak round me, bedawee
fashion; and they, too, complimented
me on having the face of the “Arab,” which
means Bedawee. I wanted a little Arab dress
for R——, but could find none, as at her age
none are worn in the Desert.
I dined one day with Omar, or rather I ate
at his house, for he would not eat with me.
His sister-in-law cooked a most admirable dinner,
and every one was delighted. It was an

interesting family circle. There was a very
respectable elder brother, a confectioner, whose
eider wife was a black woman, a really remarkable
person. She speaks Italian perfectly,
and gave me a great deal of information, and
asked very intelligent questions. She ruled
the house, but as she had no children, he had
married a fair gentle-looking Arab woman,
who had five children, and all lived in perfect
harmony. Omar's wife is a fine handsome girl
of his own age, with very good manners, but
close on her lying-in, and looking fatigued.
She had been outside the door of the close
little court which constituted the house once
since her marriage. I now begin to under-stand
the condition of the women, and the
Muslim sentiments and maxims regarding
them. There is a good deal of chivalry in
some respects, and, in the respectable lower
and middle classes, the result is not so bad.
I suspect that among the rich, few are very
happy, but I don't know them, or anything of
the Turkish ways. I will go and see the black
woman again, and hear more; her conversation
was really interesting. I hope to see you
all before very long.

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92

LETTER XVIII.

Cairo,

May, 1863.

I ONLY stayed a fortnight at Alexandria, and
finding myself quite knocked up by the dampness
of the air, I came back here. Mr. Thayer,
the American Consul-General, who has been
my earthly providence in this country, has
lent me a little apartment which he has in
Cairo and does not use except in winter; it is
infinitely pleasanter than the hotel, and costs
much less. I had a most successful voyage up
to the Second Cataract, Wadee Halfeh, only
the winter was the coldest ever known in
Egypt, and I had many comfortless cold days
in the Etesian wind. As to interest and enjoyment,
I don't think Italy or Greece can equal
the sacred Nile, the perfect freshness of the gigantic
buildings, the beauty of the sculptures,

and the charm of the people. Two beautiful
young Nubian women visited me in my boat,
with hair in the little plaits finished off with
lumps of yellow clay, burnished like golden
tags, soft deep bronze skins, and lips and eyes
fit for Isis and Athor; their very dress and
ornaments were the same as those represented
in the tombs; and I felt inclined to ask them
how many thousand years old they were. In
their house, I sat on an ancient Egyptian
couch with the semicircular head-rest, and ate
and drank out of crockery which looked antique;
and they brought me dates in a basket
such as you see in the British Museum, and a
mat of the same sort. At Aswán I dined on
the shore with the “blameless Ethiopians,”
merchants from Soodán, black as ink and hand-some
as the Greek Bacchus. Most ancient of
all, though, are the Copts; their very hands
and feet are the same as those of the Egyptian
statues. The bas-reliefs in the tombs are accurate
representations of the country people
of the present day,—especially the Nubians
and Copts.
I was most kindly received by a Copt merchant
at Asyoot, and am to spend a week at

his hareem if ever I go up the Nile again;
everywhere his relations welcomed me and
gave me provisions. But generally they are a
reserved people, and acknowledge no connection
with other Christians.
Nothing is more striking to me than the
way in which one is constantly reminded of
Herodotus. Both the Christianity and the
Islam of this country are full of the ancient
practices and superstitions of the old worship.
The sacred animals have all taken service
with Muslim saints: at Minyeh, one of the
latter reigns over crocodiles. I saw the hole of
æsculapius's serpent at Gebel Sheykh Haradee;
and I fed the birds who used to tear the
cordage of the boats that refused to feed them,
and who are now the servants of Sheykh Nooneh,
and still come on board by scores for the
bread which no Reyyis dares to refuse them.
Bubastis has not lost her influence, and cats
are as sacred as ever: they are still fed in the
Kádee's court, at Cairo, at public expense, and
behave with singular decorum when the “servant
of the cats” serves their dinner.
Among gods, Amun Ra, the god of the sun,
and great serpent-slayer, calls himself Mar

Girgis (St. George), and Osiris holds his festivals
twice a year as notoriously as ever at
Tanta, in the Delta, under the name of Seyyidel-Bedawee.
The Fellah women offer sacrifices
to the Nile, and walk round ancient statues,
in order to have children.
These are a few of the ancient things, and
in domestic life are numbers more. The ceremonies
at births and burials are not Muslim,
but ancient Egyptian. The women wail
for the dead, as on the sculptures; a practice
which is directly contrary to the injunctions of
the Koran. All the ceremonies are pagan,
and would shock an Indian Muslim as much
as his objection to eat with a Christian shocks
an Arab.
This country is a palimpsest, in which the
Bible is written over Herodotus, and the Koran
over that. In the towns the Koran is most
visible; in the country, Herodotus. I fancy
this is most marked and most curious among
the Copts, whose churches are shaped like
the ancient temples; but they are so much
less accessible than the Arabs, that I know
less of their customs.
In Cairo, of course, one is more reminded of

the beloved ‘Arabian Nights,’—indeed Cairo
is the ‘Arabian Nights.’ I knew that christian
dyer who lives opposite to me, and is
always wrangling, from my infancy; and my
delightful servant Omar, Abu-l-Haláweh (the
father of sweets), is the type of all the amiable
jeunes premiers of the stories. I am privately
of opinion that he is Bedr-ed-Deen Hasan,—the
more, as he can make cream tarts,
and there was no pepper in them. Cream tarts
are not very good, but lamb stuffed with pistachio-nuts
fulfils all one's dreams of excellence,—and
dates and Nile water! they are excellent
indeed, especially together, like olives
and wine.
Next Friday the great Bairam begins, and
every one is buying sheep and poultry in preparation
for it: every poor Muslim eats meat
at the expense of his richer neighbours. It is
the day on which the pilgrims ascend Mount
Arafat at Mecca, to hear the sermon which
terminates the Hájj.
Next month is the Moolid-en-Nebbee, the
feast of the Prophet, and I hope to see that
too. I have been very fortunate in seeing a
great deal here, and getting to know a good

deal of the family life. I have been especially
civilly treated by darweeshes and pious people,
who might reasonably have cursed me. Even
a tremendous saint, a naked Fakeer, treated
me with the greatest distinction, and my crew
were delighted, and prophesied great blessings
for me. He had sat naked and motionless
twenty years on one spot, and looked like the
trunk of an old tree; but he had no pious airs,
and was rather jocose.
I hope to go home next month, as soon as
it gets too hot here, and is likely to be warm
enough in England.

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98

LETTER XIX.

Masr-el-Kahirah, (Cairo,)

May 21, 1863.

I HAVE just received your letter and Mrs.
K——'s, for which many thanks; but what
she recommends is just what does not suit me.
All those sea-coast places make me ill. Simon's
Bay, Alexandria, and, in a less degree, Cape
Town, all disagreed with me; while the dry
heat of Caledon and of Nubia seemed to give
me new life. Madeira, I am sure, would make
me ill. It is curious that it should be so,
while being at sea suits me so well; but it
is the contest between land and sea air which
is pernicious; and the warmer the climate,
the more sensible that is. There are poitrinaires
who thrive at Damietta even, but I am
not one of them. Dr. Aubert Roche told me
to go by the hygrometer, and I said I had discovered

that already, and carried a most faithful
one inside me;—worse luck!
I came here on Saturday night. To-day is
Wednesday, and I am already much better. I
have attached an excellent donkey and his
master, a delightful Hasan, to my household.
They live at the door, and Hasan cleans the
stairs and goes errands during the heat of the
day; and I ride out very early, at six or seven,
and again at five. The air is delicious now:
it is very hot for a few hours, but not stifling;
and the breeze does not chill one, as it does
at Alexandria. I live all day and all night
with open windows, and the plenty of fresh
warm air is the best of remedies. I can do no
better than stay here till the heat becomes
too great. I left little Zeyneb, my slave, at
Alexandria with J——'s maid, who quite loves
her, and who begged to keep her “for company,”
and also to help in their removal to the
new house. She clung about me, and made
me promise to come back to her, but was content
to stop with E——, whose affections she
of course returns. It was a pleasure to see her
so happy, and how she relished being “put to
bed,” with a kiss, by the maid. Her Turkish

master, whom she pronounces to be “battál”
(bad), called her “Salám-es-Seed” (the peace
of her master), but she said that in her own
village she used to be Zeyneb, and so we call
her. She has grown fatter, and, if possible,
blacker. The elder wife of Hegáb, the confectioner,
was much interested in her, as her fate
had been the same. She was bought by an
Italian, who lived with her till his death, when
she married Hegáb. She is a pious Muslimeh,
and invoked the intercession of Seyyidna Mohammad
for me, when I told her I had no intention
of baptizing Zeyneb by force, as had
been done to her.
The fault of my lodging here is the noise;
we are on the road from the railway, and there
is no quiet except in the few hot hours when
nothing is heard but the cool tinkle of the Sakka's
brass cups as he sells water in the street,
or perchance “Erksoos”—liquorice water,—or
Karroob and raisin sherbet. The “erksoos”
is rather bitter, and very good; I drink it a
good deal, for drink one must. A “gulleh”
of water is soon gone. A “gulleh” is a widemouthed
porous jar, and Nile water drunk
out of it, without the intervention of a glass,

is delicious. My lodging is very clean and
nice, but quite like a French “appartement,”
except the kitchen and other domestic arràngements,
which are Arab. Omar goes to market
every morning with a donkey (I went too, and
was much amused), and cooks, and in the
evening goes out with me, if I want him. I
told him I had recommended him highly, and
hoped he would get good employment; but
he declares that he will go with no one else
so long as I come to Egypt, whatever the difference
of wages may be. “The bread I eat
with you is sweet!” said he; a pretty little unconscious
antithesis to Dante. I have been
advising his brother, Hajjee Alee, to set up a
hotel at Thebes for invalids, and he has already
set about getting a house there; there
is one. Next winter there will be a steamer
twice a week to Aswán,—Juvenal's distant
Syene, where he died in banishment.
My old washerwoman sent me a fervent
entreaty through Omar that I would dine with
her one day, since I had made Cairo delightful
by my return. If one will only devour
these people's food they are enchanted,—they
like that much better than a present; so I

will “honour her house” some day. Good
old Hannah! she is divorced for being too fat
and old, and replaced by a young Turk, whose
family sponge on Hajjee Alee, and are condescending.
If I could afford it, I would have a sketch of
a beloved old mosque of mine, falling to decay,
and with three palm-trees growing in the
middle of it; indeed, I would have a book full,
for all is exquisite, and, alas! all is going. The
old Copt quarter is entamé, and hideous shabby
French houses, like the one I live in, are being
run up; and in this weather how much better
would be the Arab courtyard, with its mastabah
and fountain!
There is a quarrel now in the street; how
they talk and gesticulate, and everybody puts
in a word! A boy has upset a cake-seller's
tray. “Nál-abook!” (curse your father!) he
claims six piastres damages, and every one
gives an opinion, pro or contra. We all look
out of the windows. My opposite neighbour,
the pretty Armenian woman, leans out (baby
sucking all the time), and her diamond head-ornaments
and earrings glitter as she laughs
like a child. The Christian dyer is also very

active in the row, which, like all Arab rows,
ends in nothing,—it evaporates in fine theatrical
gestures and lots of talk. Curious! in the
street they are so noisy; and set the same men
down in a coffee-shop, or anywhere, and they
are the quietest of mankind. Only one man
speaks at a time,—the rest listen and never
interrupt; twenty men do not make the noise
of three Europeans.
—— is my near neighbour, and he comes
in, and we discuss the government. His heart
is sore with disinterested grief for the sufferings
of the people. “Don't they deserve to
be decently governed,—to be allowed a little
happiness and prosperity? they are so docile,
so contented; are they not a good people?”
Those were his words as he was recounting
some new iniquity. Of course, half these acts
are done under pretext of improving and civilizing,
and the Europeans applaud and say,
“Oh, but nothing could be done without forced
labour,” and the poor Fellaheen are marched
off in gangs like convicts, and their families
starve, and (who would have thought it?) the
population keeps diminishing. No wonder the
cry is, “Let the English Queen come and take

us.” You know that I don't see things quite
as our countrymen generally do, for mine is
another Standpunkt, and my heart is with the
Arabs. I care less about opening up the trade
with the Soodán, or about all the new railways,
and I should like to see person and property
safe, which no one's is here,—Europeans
of course excepted.
Ismaeel Pasha got the Sultan to allow him
to take 90,000 feddans of uncultivated land
for himself as private property. Very well.
But the late Viceroy granted, eight years ago,
certain uncultivated lands to a good many
Turks, his employés,—in hopes of founding a
landed aristocracy, and inducing them to spend
their capital in cultivation. They did so; and
now Ismaeel takes their improved land, and
gives them feddan for feddan of his new land
(which will take five years to bring into cultivation)
instead. He forces them to sign a
voluntary deed of exchange, or they go off to
Feyzóghloo,—a hot Siberia, whence none return.
I saw a Turk, the other day, who was
ruined by the transaction.
The Sultan also left a large sum of money
for religious institutions and charities, Muslim,

Jew, and Christian. None have received a
faddah. It is true, the Sultan and his suite
plundered the Pasha and the people here;
but, from all I hear, the Sultan really wishes
to do good. What is wanted here, is, hands
to till the soil; wages are very high; food, of
course, gets dearer, the forced labour inflicts
more suffering than before, and the population
will decrease yet faster. This appears to me
to be a state of things in which it is of no use
to say that public works must be made at any
cost. I dare say the wealth will be increased,
if, meanwhile, the people are not exterminated.
The nevery new Pasha builds a huge new palace,
whilst those of his predecessors fall to
ruin. Mohammad Alee's sons even cut down
the trees of his beautiful botanical garden, and
planted beans there; so money is constantly
wasted more utterly than if it were thrown
into the Nile, for then the Fellaheen would
not have to spend the time, so much wanted
for agriculture, in building hideous barrack-like
so-called palaces. What chokes me is,
to hear Englishmen talk of the stick being
“the only, way to manage Arabs,” as if there
could be any doubt that it is the easiest way

to manage anybody, where it can be used with
impunity.
Sunday, May 24.—I went to a large unfinished
new Coptic church this morning. Omar
went with me up to the women's gallery, and
was discreetly going back, when he saw me in
the right place; but the Copt women began to
talk to him, and asked questions about me all
the time I was looking down on the strange
scene below.
I believe they celebrate the ancient mysteries
still. The clashing of cymbals, the chanting
or humming, unlike any sound I ever
heard, the strange yellow copes covered with
stranger devices;—it was wunderlich. At the
end, every one went away, and I went down
and took off my shoes to go and look at the
church. While I was doing so, a side-door
opened and a procession entered: a priest,
dressed in the usual black robe and turban
of all Copts, carrying a trident-shaped sort of
candlestick, another with cymbals, a number
of little boys, and two young ecclesiastics of
some sort in the yellow satin copes (contrasting
queerly with the familiar tarboosh of common
life, on their heads); each of these carried

a little baby and a huge wax taper. They
marched round and round three times, beating
the cymbals furiously, and chanting a jigtune;
the dear little tiny boys marched just
before the priest, with a pretty little solemn
consequential air. Then they all stopped in
front of the sanctuary, and the priest untied a
sort of broad coloured tape which was round
each of the babies, reciting something in Coptic
all the time, and finally touched their
foreheads and hands with water. This is a
ceremony subsequent to baptism, after I don't
know how many days; but the priest ties and
unties the bands. Of what is this symbolical?—
I am at a loss to divine.
Then an old man gave a little round cake of
bread, with a cabalistic-looking pattern on it,
both to Omar and to me. A group of closely-veiled
women stood on one side of the aisle,
and among them the mothers of the babies,
who received them from the men in yellow
copes at the end of the ceremony. One of
these young men was very handsome, and as
he stood looking down and smiling on the
baby he held, with the light of the torch
sharpening the lines of his features, he would

have made a lovely picture. The expression
was sweeter than that of St. Vincent de Paul,
because his smile told that he could have
played with the baby as well as prayed for it.
In this country, one gets to see how much
more beautiful a perfectly natural expression
is than even the finest mystical expression
given by painters; and it is so refreshing that
no one tries to look pious. The Muslim looks
serious, and often warlike, as he stands at
prayer. The Christian just keeps his everyday
face. When the Muslim gets into a state
of devotional frenzy, he is too much in earnest
to think of making a face; it is quite
tremendous. I don't think the Copt has any
such ardours. But the scene of this morning
was all the more touching, that no one was
“behaving him or herself” at all. A little
acolyte peeped into the sacramental cup and
swigged off the drop left in it with the most
innocent air, and no one rebuked him, and
the quiet little children ran about in the sanctuary.
Up to seven, they are privileged; only
they and the priests and acolytes enter it. It
is a pretty commentary on the words, “Suffer
little children,” etc.

109

I am more and more annoyed at not being
able to ask questions for myself, as I do not
like to ask through a Muslim, and no Copts
speak any foreign language, or very, very few.
Omar and Hasan had been at five this morning
to the tomb of Sittina Zeyueb, one of the
grand-daughters of the Prophet, to “see her”
(Sunday is her day of reception), and say the
Fat'hah at her tomb.
Yesterday I went to call on pretty Mrs. W.
She is an Armenian, of the Greek faith, and
was gone to pray at the convent of St. George
(Mar Girgis), for the cure of the pains which a
bad rheumatic fever has left in her hands.
Now I have filled such a long letter, I hardly
know whether it is worth sending, and whether
you will be amused by my commonplaces
of Eastern life. To-day is Monday, 25th May,
and very hot. I doubt whether I shall stay
more than a fortnight longer here. I am
better as to my cough. I kill a sheep next
Friday, and Omar will cook a stupendous dish
for the poor Fellaheen, who are lying about
the railway-station waiting for work. That is
to be my Beyram, and Omar hopes great benefit
for me from the process.

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110

LETTER XX.

On board the ‘Venetian,’

June 15, 1863.

WE shall be at Malta to-morrow, Inshallah!
I feel much better since I have been at sea.
We left Alexandria on Thursday, and are very
comfortable, having the whole spacious ladies'
cabin to ourselves, and a very pleasant captain.
But we are laden to the water's edge,
and a gale in “the Bay” would be very wet,
rough work. We have had a breeze in our
teeth ever since we left, but very fine weather.
Omar shed some “manly tears,” like a great
baby, as he kissed my hand on board ship, and
prayed for me to “the Preserver.”

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111

LETTER XXI.

Marseilles,

September, 1863.

I WRITE quite in the dark, as there is a tremendous
thunderstorm going on, which I hope
will end the gale of wind. We sail to-morrow,
and only touch at Messina, so I shall not
write again till I arrive at Alexandria. We
are drowned here; what must it be on the
Rhône? Floods seem the order of the day,
even with old Father Nile. I hope Omar will
meet me, and see our luggage through the
custom-house and turbulent hammáls at Alexandria.
It is quite winter here now, though
not very cold, but so damp. I am glad I have
not delayed going back to Egypt any longer.

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112

LETTER XXII.

Alexandria,

Monday, October 19, 1863.

WE had a wretched voyage; good weather,
but such a pétaudière of a ship. I am competent
to describe the horrors of the middle-passage,—
hunger, suffocation, dirt, and such
canaille, high and low, on board. The only
gentleman was a poor Moor going to Mecca,
who stowed his wife and family in a spare
boiler on deck. I saw him washing his children
in the morning. “Que c'est dégoûtant!”
exclaimed a French spectator. If an Oriental
washes, he is a sale cochon. No wonder! A
delicious man who sat near me on deck, when
the sun came round to our side, growled between
his clenched teeth, “Voilà un tas d'intrigants
à l'ombre, tandis que le soleil me grille,
moi.”

113

But I was consoled, on arriving at noon on
Friday, by seeing J—— come in a boat to
meet me, looking as fresh and bright and merry
as ever she could look, and the faithful Omar
radiant with joy and affection. He has refused
an offer of a place as messenger with the mails
to Suez and back; and also to go with an English
lady at very high pay, which his brother
wanted him to do. But Omar said he could
not leave me. “I think my God give her to
me to take care of her; how then I leave her?
I can't speak to my God if I do bad things like
that.” He kisses your hand, and is charmed
with the knife you sent him, but far more that
my family should know his name and be satisfied
with my servant. Omar is gone to try to
get me a Dahabeeyeh, to go up the river, as
I hear the half-railway, half-steamer journey
is dreadfully inconvenient and fatiguing, and
the sight of the overflowing Nile is said to be
magnificent; so we shall be five or six days en
route
, instead of eight hours.
Zeyneb is much grown, and seems extremely
active and quick, but has grown rather loud
and rough, from being allowed to associate
with the Nubian man and boy, and to go out

without a veil, which I won't allow in my hareem.
However, she is as affectionate as ever,
and delighted at the idea of going with us.
Tuesday, October 20.
Omar has got a boat for £12, all ready furnished,
which is not more than the railway
would cost, now that half must be done per
steamer and a bit on donkeys or on foot.
Two and a half hours to sit grilling at noon
on the bank, and two miles to walk carrying
one's baggage, is no joke. I shall take Haggeh
Hannah in my boat, for the poor old soul
was moulue by her journey. I have bought
blankets here, but they are much dearer than
last year. Everything is almost doubled in
price, owing to the cattle murrain and the
high Nile. Such an inundation as this year's
was never known before. Does the blue god
resent Speke's intrusion on his privacy? it
will be a glorious sight, I believe. But the
damage to crops, and even to the last year's
stacks of grain and beans, is frightful,—one
sails away among the palm-trees, over the
submerged cotton-fields.
Ismaeel Pasha has been very active, but

there have been as many calamities in his
short reign as during Pharaoh's, and ill-luck
makes a man unpopular. The cattle murrain
is fearful, and is now beginning in Cairo and
Upper Egypt. I hear the loss reckoned at
twelve millions sterling in cattle. The gazelles
in the desert have it too, but not horses, asses,
or goats.
Omar apologized for the stupidity of the
Arabs in thinking that the dearness of all necessaries
was the fault of the government, and
was astonished to hear that many Europeans
were no wiser.

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116

LETTER XXIII.

Alexandria,

Monday, October 26, 1863.

I AM much the worse for the damp of this
place. On Thursday I shall get off, as the
boat will be clean. I have a funny little dahabeeyeh,
barely big enough to hold us; but I
am lucky to get that for twelve pounds.
I went to two hareems the other day, with
a little boy of Mustafa Agha's, and was much
pleased. A very pleasant Turkish lady pulled
out all her magnificent bedding and dresses for
me and was most amiable. At another, a superb
Arab, dressed in white cotton, with most
grande dame manners and unpainted face, received
me statelily. Her house would drive
you wild,—such enamelled tiles, covering the
panels of the walls, all divided by carved wood,
and such carved screens and galleries, all very

old and rather dilapidated, but magnificent,—
and the lady worthy of her house. A bold-eyed
slave-girl with a baby, put herself forward for
admiration, and was ordered to bring coffee,
with cool though polite imperiousness. None
of our great ladies can half crush a rival
in comparison; they do it too coarsely. The
quiet scorn of the beautiful pale-faced, black-haired
Arab was beyond any English powers.
Then it was fun to open the lattice and make
me look out on the “place,” and to wonder
what the neighbours would say at the sight of
my face and European hat. She asked about
my children, and blessed them repeatedly, and
took my hand very kindly in doing so, for
fear I should think her envious and fear her
eye, as she is childless.
I shall go to ——'s house; it is very bad,
but the hotel is worse, and I may find a better
on the spot. I heard of a good house at Boolak
for two pounds a month, but I don't think
that place is healthy with the receding Nile.
I am anxious to get up the river.

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118

LETTER XXIV.

Kafr ez-Zeiyát,

Saturday, October 31, 1863.

WE left Alexandria on Thursday about noon,
and sailed with a fair wind along the Mahmoodeeyeh
canal. My little boat flies like a
bird, and my men are a capital set of fellows,
bold and careful sailors. I have only seven
in all, but they work well, and at a pinch
Omar leaves the pots and pans, and handles a
rope or pole manfully. We sailed all night,
and passed the locks at Fum el-Mahmoodeeyeh
at four yesterday, and were greeted by old
Nile tearing down like a torrent. The river is
magnificent,—“seven men's height,” my Reyyis
says, above its usual pitch; it has gone down
five or six feet, and left a sad scene of havoc
on either side. However, what the Nile takes,
he repays with threefold interest, they say.
The women are at work rebuilding their mud

huts, and the men repairing the dykes. A
Frenchman told me he was on board a Pasha's
steamer, and they passed a flooded village
where two hundred people stood on their
roofs crying for help: would you, could you
believe it? they passed on and left them to
drown! Nothing but an eye-witness could
have made me believe such frightful cruelty.
All to-day we sailed in heavenly weather,—
a sky like nothing but its most beautiful self.
At the bend of the river, just now, we had a
grand struggle to get round, and got entangled
with a big timber-boat. My crew became
so vehement that I had to come out with an
imperious request to every one to bless the
Prophet. Next the boat nearly dragged the
men into the stream, and they pulled, and
hauled, and struggled, up to their waists in
mud and water; and Omar brandished his
pole, and shouted “Islám, el Islám!” which gave
a fresh spirt to the poor fellows, and round we
came with a dash and caught the breeze again.
Now we have put up here for the night, and
shall pass the railway bridge to-morrow. The
railway is all under water from hence up to
Tanta, eight miles, and in many places higher up.

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120

LETTER XXV.

Cairo,

Saturday, November 14, 1863.

HERE I am at last in my old quarters at Mr.
Thayer's house, after some trouble. The very
morning I landed, I was seized with violent
illness; however, I am now better. I arrived
at Cairo on Wednesday night, the 4th of November,
slept in the boat and went ashore
next morning.
The passage under the railway bridge at
Tanta (which is only opened once in two days)
was most exciting and pretty. Such a scramble
and dash of boats,—two or three hundred
at least! Old Zeydán, the steersman, slid
under the noses of the big boats with my little
cangia, and through the gates before they
were well open, and we saw the rush and confusion
behind us at our ease, and headed the

whole fleet for a few miles. Then we stuck,
and Zeydàn raged, but we got off in an hour,
and again overtook and passed all; and then
we saw the spectacle of devastation,—whole
villages gone, submerged and melted, mud to
mud; and the people, with their beasts, encamped
on spits of sand or on the dykes, in
long rows of ragged makeshift tents, while we
sailed over the places where they had lived;
cotton rotting in all directions, and the dry
tops crackling under the bows of the boat.
When we stopped to buy milk, one poor
woman exclaimed, “Milk! from where? Do
you want it out of my breasts?” However,
she took our saucepan and went to get some
from another family. No one refuses it if
they have a drop left, for they all believe the
murrain to be a punishment for churlishness
to strangers;—by whom committed, no one
can say. Nor would they fix a price, or ask
more than the old rate. But here everything
has doubled in price: meat was 4 1/2 guroosh,
now it is 8; eggs, etc., the same, and cotton
12 guroosh the pound. Yesterday I had
to buy mattresses for Omar and Zeyneb, and
loud were Omar's lamentations at the expense;

he was quite minded to sleep on the stones
rather than cost three napoleons for a bed;
that included, however, the pillow and bedstead,
made of palm sticks,—very light and
comfortable.
Zeyneb has been very good ever since she
has been with us. I think the little Nubian
boy led her into idleness and mischief. She
will soon be a complete “drago-woman,” for
she is fast learning Arabic from Omar and English
from us. At Alexandria she only heard
a sort of lingua franca of Greek, Italian, Nubian,
and English. She asked me, “How piccolo
bint?” (how is the little girl?)—a fine
specimen of Alexandrian.
On Thursday evening I rode up to the Abbáseeyeh,
and met áll the schoolboys going
home for their Friday. Such a pretty sight!
The little Turks on grand horses with velvet
housings, and two or three Sáises running by
their side; and the Arab boys fetched, some
by proud fathers on handsome donkeys, some
by trusty servants on foot, some by poor mothers
astride on shabby donkeys, and taking
up their darlings before them, some two and
three on one donkey, and crowds on foot,—

such a number of lovely faces! They were all
dressed in white European-cut clothes and
red tarbooshes.
Last night, we had a wedding opposite.
The bridegroom, a pretty little boy of thirteen
or so, with a friend of his own size—dressed,
like him, in a scarlet robe and turban,—on
each side, surrounded by men carrying tapers
and singing songs, and preceded by cressets
flaring, stepped along like Agag, slowly and
mincingly, and looked very shy and pretty.
My poor Hasan (donkey-driver) is ill. His
father came with the donkey for me, and kept
drawing his sleeve over his eyes, and sighing
so heavily, “Ya Hasàn meskeen! ya Hasan
Ibnee!” (O my son, my son!) and then in a
resigned tone, “Allah kereem” (God is merciful)!
I will go and see him this morning,
and have a doctor to him, “by force,” as Omar
says he is very bad. There is something
heart-rending in the patient helpless suffering
of these people.
Sunday.—Aboo Hasan reported his son so
much better that I did not go after him, having
several things to do, and Omar being
deep in cooking a festin de Baltazar, as I have

people to dinner. The weather is delicious,
much like what we had at Bournemouth in
the summer; but there is a great deal of sickness,
and I fear will be more, from people
burying dead cattle in their premises inside the
town. It costs a hundred guroosh to bury an
ox out of the town. All labour is rendered
scarce too, as well as food dear, and the streets
are not cleaned, and water is hard to get. My
Sakka comes very irregularly, and makes quite
a favour of supplying us with water. All this
must tell heavily on the poor. Hekekian's
wife had seventy-four head of cattle on her
farm; now one wretched bullock is left; of
the seven to water the house in Cairo, also one
only is left, and that is expected to die.
I have just been leaning out of the window
to see two Coptic weddings, very gay and pretty,
with lots of tapers and mesh'als (cressets).
The bride dressed in white, veiled, and blazing
with diamonds, was led by two men, and preceded
by very pretty music,—abyatees, with
harp, sackbut, and dulcimer, singing before her;
and attended by little girls, in scarlet habarahs,
as bridesmaids. It is gayer and less
stately than the Muslim wedding.

125

Monday, November 16.
I am much better since I have been in a
dry house. I have bought such a pretty cupboard
for my clothes for seven dollars (45
francs), all painted over like the old Arab
ceilings, in the colours and patterns of an
Indian shawl. They make chests of the same
work for from four to six dollars,—very handsome
and effective, and not ill put together.
Haggee Alee has just been here, and offers
me his tents if I like to go up to Thebes,
and not live in a boat, so that I may not be
dependent on the houses there, in case of any
hitch. I fancy I might be very comfortable
among the tombs of the kings, or in the valley
of Assaseef, with good tents. It is never cold
at all among the hills at Thebes, quite the contrary;
on the sunny side of the valley, you are
broiled and stunned with heat in January, and
in the shade it is heavenly. I shall rather
like the change from a boat life to a Bedawee
one, with my own sheep and chickens and
horses about the tent, and a small following of
ragged retainers, Moreover, it will be cheaper.

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126

LETTER XXVI.

Cairo,

November 21, 1863.

I AM very comfortably installed here, and
much better for the Cairo climate, after being
damaged by staying a fortnight at Alexandria.
There is terrible distress here, owing to the
cattle-disease, which makes everything nearly
double the usual price, and many things very
hard to get at all. The weather is lovely, much
like English summer, but finer; I shall stay on
till it gets colder, and then go up the Nile,
either in a steamer or a boat.
My poor donkey-driver, Hasan, is ill, and
his old father takes his place; he gave me a
fine illustration of Arab feeling towards women
to-day. I asked if Abd-el-Kádir were coming
here, as I had heard; he did not know, and
asked me if he were not “Akhul-Benát” (a

brother of girls)? I prosaically said, I did not
know if he had sisters. “The Arabs, O Lady!
call that man a ‘brother of girls,’ to whom
God has given a clean heart to love all women
as his sisters, and strength and courage to fight
for their protection.” Omar suggested a “thorough
gentleman” as the equivalent of Aboo
Hasan's title. European galimatias about “the
smiles of the fair,” etc., looks very mean beside
“Akhul-Benát.” Moreover they do carry it
somewhat into common life. Omar told me of
some little family tribulations, showing that
he is not a little henpecked.
Here is another story. A man married at
Alexandria and took home the daily provisions
for the first week; after that, he neglected it
for two days, and came home with a lemon
in his hand. He asked for some dinner, and
his wife placed the stool and the tray and the
washing-basin and napkin, and on the tray the
lemon cut in half. “Well, and the dinner?”
“Dinner!—you want dinner!—where from?
What man are you to want women, when you
don't keep them! I am going now to the
Kádee, to be divorced from you;” and she did.
The man must provide all necessaries for his

hareem, and if she has money or earns any,
she spends it in dress. If she makes him a
skull-cap or a handkerchief, he must pay for
her work. All is not roses for these Eastern
tyrants,—not to speak of the unbridled license
of tongue allowed to women and children.
Zeyneb hectors Omar, and I can't persuade
him to check her. “How I say anything to it,
that one child?” Of course the children are
insupportable,—and, I fancy, the women little
better.
A poor neighbour of mine lost his little boy
yesterday, ‘and came out into the street, as
usual, for sympathy. He stood under my window,
leaning his head against the wall, and
sobbing and crying till literally his tears wetted
the dust. He was too much grieved to tear off
his turban or to lament in form, but clapped
his hands and cried, “Oh, my boy! oh, my
boy!” The bean-seller opposite shut his shop;
the dyer took no notice, but smoked his pipe.
Some people passed on, but many stopped and
stood round the poor man, saying nothing, but
looking concerned. Two were well-dressed
Copts on handsome donkeys, who dismounted,
and all waited till he went home, when about

twenty men accompanied him with a respectful
air. How strange it seems to us to go out
into the street, and call on the passers-by to
grieve with one!
I was at the house of Hekekian Bey the
other day, when he received a parcel from
Constantinople from his former slave, now the
Sultan's chief eunuch. It contained a very fine
photograph of Shureyk Bey (that is his name),
whose face, though negro, is very intelligent
and of a charming expression; a present of
illustrated English books, and some printed
music composed by the Sultan Abdel-Azeez
himself. O tempora! O mores! one was a
waltz! Shureyk Bey was dressed in European
clothes too, all but the tarboosh.
The very ugliest and scrubbiest of street-dogs
has adopted me, like the Irishman who
wrote to Lord Lansdowne that he had selected
him as his patron; and he guards the house,
and follows me in the streets. He is rewarded
with scraps; and S— cost me a new tin
mug by letting the dog drink out of the old
one, which is used to scoop the water from the
jar; forgetting that Omar and Zeyneb could not
drink after the poor beast.

130

Monday.—I went yesterday to the port of
Cairo, Boolak, to see Hasaneyn Efendi about
boats. He was gone up the Nile, and I sat with
his wife,—a very nice Turkish lady, who
speaks English to perfection,—and heard all
sorts of curious things. The Turkish ladies.
are taking to stays! and the fashions of Constantinople
are changing with fearful rapidity.
Like all Eastern women that I have seen,
my hostess complained of indigestion, and said
she knew she ought to go out more and to
walk,—but custom! “E contro il nostro
decoro.”
I have seen Deleo Bey, who advises me not
to live in a tent; it is too hot by day, and too
cold by night. So I will take a boat conditionally,
with leave to keep it four months, or
to discharge it at Thebes if I find a lodging.
It is now a little fresh in the early morning,
but like fine English summer weather. I ride
on my donkey in a thin gown, and a thin white
cloak; but about the middle of next month
it will begin to get cold.
Tuesday evening.—Since I have been here,
my cough is nearly gone, and I am the better
for having good food again. Omar manages

to get good mutton, and as he is an excellent
cook, I have a good dinner every day, which I
find makes a great difference. I have also
discovered that some of the Nile fish is excellent:
the bayád, which is sometimes as
much as six or eight feet long and very fat, is
delicious, and I am told there are still better
kinds; the eels are very delicate and good too.
The worst is, that every thing is just double
last year's price, as of course no beef can be
eaten at all; and the draught oxen being dead,
labour is become dear as well. The high Nile
was a small misfortune compared to the murrain.
There is a legend about it, of course. A certain
Sheykh-el-Beled (bürgermeister) of some
place not named, lost his cattle, and being
rich, defied God; said he did not cart, and
bought as many more. They died too, and he
continued impenitent and defiant, and bought
on till he was ruined; and now he is sinking
into the earth bodily, though his friends dig
and dig around him without ceasing, night
and day.
It is curious, how like the Arab legends are
to the German; all those about wasting bread

wantonly are almost identical. If a bit is
dirty, Omar carefully gives it to the dog; if
clean, he keeps it in a drawer for making
bread-crumbs for cutlets; not a bit must fall
on the floor. In other things they are careless
enough; but das liebe Brod is sacred;
(vide Grimm's ‘Deutsche Sagen’). I am constantly
struck with resemblances to German
customs. A Fellah wedding is very like a
German Bauernhochzeit,—the firing of guns,
and the display of household goods, only on a
camel instead of a cart.
I have been trying to find a teacher of Arabic,
but it is very hard to find one who knows
any European language, and the consular dragomans
ask four dollars a lesson! I must wait
till I get to Thebes, where I think a certain
young Saeed can teach me. Meanwhile, I am
beginning to understand rather more, and to
speak a little.

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133

LETTER XXVII.

Cairo,

December 1, 1863.

IT is beginning to be cold, comparatively
cold, here; and I only await the result of my
inquiries about, possible houses at Thebes, to
hire a boat and depart.
Yesterday I saw a camel go through the
eye of a needle, i. e. the low-arched door of
an enclosure. He must kneel and bow his
head to creep through, and thus the rich man
must humble himself. See how a false translation
spoils a good metaphor, and turns a
familiar simile into a ferociously communist
sentiment.
I went to see poor Hasan, who is better,
but very weak. The whole family were much
pleased, and all had excellent manners. Hasan
himself is one of the most winning persons I

ever saw,—so gentle and courteous He is
going to give a great Khatmeh for his recovery,
and to kill the sheep for God and the poor,
which his father had bought for his wedding.
There are rumours of troubles at Jeddah,
and a sort of expectation of fighting somewhere
next spring. Even here, I think, people are
buying arms to a great extent; the gunsmiths'
bazaar looks unusually lively.
Zeyneb has turned sulky, in consequence of
the association at Alexandria with the Berber
servants, who have instilled religious intolerance
into her mind, poor child! I shall place
her in a respectable Muslim family before I
go. She is very clever, and may rise in life,
with all the accomplishments of sewing, washing,
etc., which she has now acquired. But we
are Christian dogs, and she despises us, and
Omar still more, I believe, for loving me. She
pretends not to be able to eat, because she
thinks everything is “pig.” There is no conceit
like black conceit. I am sorry her head
has been so turned, but I see it is incurable.
I suppose the Nubians thought it right to
preach Islám to her, and to neutralize our evil
teaching. I will offer her to Hekekian Bey,

and if she does not do there in a household
of black Muslim slaves, they must pass her on
to a Turkish house. To keep a sullen face
about me is more than I can endure, as I have
shown her every possible kindness. How much
easier is it to instil the bad part of religion than
the good! It is really a curious phenomenon
in so young a child. She waits capitally at
table, and can do most things, but she won't
move, if the fancy takes her, except when ordered,
and spends her time on the terrace.
One thing is, that the life is dull for a child,
and I think she will be happier in a larger and
more bustling house.
Omar performs wonders of marketing and
cooking. I have excellent dinners—soup,
fish, a petit plat or two, and a rôti, every day.
But butter and meat and milk are horribly
dear. I never saw so good a servant as Omar,
and such a nice creature,—so pleasant and
good. When I hear and see what other people
spend here in travelling and in living, and
what trouble they have, I say, “May God favour
Omar and his descendants!”
Wednesday, 3rd.—I stayed in bed yesterday
for a cold, and, I think, cured it. My next-door

door neighbour, a Coptic merchant, kept me
awake all night by auditing his accounts with
his clerk. How would you like to chant rows
of figures? He had just bought lots of cotton,
and I had to get into my door on Monday over
a camel's back—the street being filled with
bales.
I have sent a request to the French Consul-General,
M. Tastu, to let me live in the French
house over the temple at Thebes. It is quite
empty, and would be the most comfortable, indeed
the only comfortable one there. M. Tastu
is the son of the charming poetess of that name,
whom my mother knew at Paris.

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137

LETTER XXVIII.

Cairo,

December 17, 1863.

AT last, I shall be off in a few days. I have
had one delay after another. M. Tastu, the
French Consul, has very kindly lent me the
house at Thebes.
Boats are at a frightful price; nothing
under £35 to Thebes alone. But M. M——,
the agent to Haleem Pasha, is going up the
Nile to Esneh, and will let me travel in the
steamer which is to tow his dahabeeyeh. It
will be dirty, but it will cost nothing, and
take me out of this cold weather in five or
six days. I have brought divans, tables, prayer
carpets, blankets, a cupboard, a lovely old
copper handbasin and ewer, and shall live
in Arab style. The tables and four chairs are
the only concession to European infirmity.

138

December 22.
I wrote the above five days ago, since when
I have had no end of troubles. M. M— is
waiting in frantic impatience to set off, and so
am I; but Ismaeel Pasha keeps him from day
to day. The worry of depending on any one
in the East is beyond belief. To-morrow
morning, I am to know definitively whether I
am to sail in three or four days. It feels very
cold to me, though you would think it warm;
much like an English September. But the
want of fires makes one very chilly. For four
hours in the day the sun is hot, but the nights
are cold and sometimes damp
You would have laughed to hear me buying
a carpet yesterday. I saw an old broker with
one on his shoulder in the Hamzawee bazaar,
and asked the price. Eight napoleons. Then
it was unfolded and spread in the street, to
the great inconvenience of passers-by, just in
front of a coffee shop. I look at it superciliously,
and say, “Three hundred piastres, O
uncle! “The poor old broker cries out in despair
to the gentlemen sitting outside the coffee
shop: “O Muslims, hear that, and look at
this excellent carpet; three hundred piastre's!

by the faith, it is worth two thousand!” But
the gentlemen take my part, and one mildly
says, “I wonder that an old man as thou art
should tell us that the lady, who is a traveller
and a person of experience, values it at three
hundred. Thinkest thou we will give thee
more?” Then another suggests that “if the
lady will consent to give four napoleons, he
had better take them;” and that settles it.
Everybody gives an opinion here, and the
price is fixed by a sort of improvised jury.
Christmas Day, Evening.
At last my departure is fixed. I embark
to-morrow afternoon at Boolák, and we sail, or
steam rather, on Sunday morning quite early,
and expect to reach Thebes in eight days.
I heard a curious illustration of Arab manners
to-day. I met Hasan, the janissary of the
American Consulate, a very respectable, good
man. He told me had married another wife
since last year. I asked, What for?
It was the widow of his brother, who had
always lived in the same house with him, like
one family, and who died, leaving two boys.

She is neither young nor handsome, but he
considered it his duty to provide for her and
the children, and not let her marry a stranger.
So you see that polygamy is not always sensual
indulgence; and a man may thus practise
greater self-sacrifice than by talking sentiment
about deceased wives' sisters. I said, laughing,
to Omar, as we went on, that I did not think
the two wives sounded very comfortable. “Oh
no! not comfortable at all for the man, but
he take care of the woman; that is what is
proper. That is the good Muslim.”
I shall have the company of a Turkish
Efendi on my voyage,—a Commissioner of Inland
Revenue, in fact,—going to look after the
tax-gatherers in the Saeed. I wonder whether
he will be civil. An Englishman bred at
Constantinople is immensely astonished at the
civility of the Arabs, and at their not abusing
Christians. He says that it is not so at Constantinople,
where “unwashed infidel dog” is
a common salutation. He quite stared at
Omar buttoning my boots. Such a prodigious
condescension from a “True Believer” to a
Christian woman! His eating too with my
maid is more than a Turk would do, it seems.

S——is gone with a party of English servants
to the Virgin's tree, the great picnic frolic
of Cairene Christians, and, indeed, of Muslims
also at some seasons.
Omar is gone to a Khatmeh (a reading of the
Koran), at Hasan the donkey-boy's house. I
was asked, but am afraid of the night air. A
good deal of religious celebration goes on now,
the middle of the month of Regeb, six weeks
before Ramadán. I rather dread Ramadán, as
Omar is sure to be faint and ill, and everybody
else cross during the first five days or so; then
their stomachs get into training.
The new passenger-steamers have been promised
ever since the 6th, and will not now go
till after the races, the 6th or 7th of next
month. Fancy, the Cairo races! It is growing
dreadfully cockney here; I must go to
Timbuctoo.
And we are to have a railway to Mecca, and
take return tickets for the Haj—from all parts
of the world.

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142

LETTER XXIX.

Boolák,

evening, December 27, 1863.
On board a River steamboat.

AFTER infinite delays and worries, we are at
last on board and shall sail to-morrow morning.
After all was comfortably settled, Ismaeel
Pasha sent for all the steamers up to Er-Ródah,
near Minyeh; and, at the same time, ordered
a Turkish general to come up instantly somehow.
So Lateef Pasha, the head of the steamers,
had to turn me out of the best cabin; and if I
had not come myself and taken rather forcible
possession of the forecastle cabin, the servants
of the Turkish general would not have allowed
Omar to embark the baggage. He had been
waiting on the bank all the morning in despair.
But at four I arrived, and ordered the
hammáls to carry the goods into the fore-cabin,

and walked on board myself, where the Arab
captain pantomimically placed me in his right
eye and on the top of his head. Once installed,
my cabin has become a hareem, and I
may defy the Turkish Efendi with success. I
have got a good-sized cabin, with clean divans
round three sides for S——and myself. Omar
will sleep on deck, and cook where he can.
A poor Turkish lady is to inhabit a sort of
dust-hole by the side of my cabin. If she seems
decent, I will entertain her hospitably. There
is no furniture of any sort but the divan; and
we cook our own food, bring our own candles,
jugs, basins, beds, everything. If I were not
such a complete Arab, I should think it very
miserable; but, as things stand this year, I
think myself lucky it is no worse.
The promised passenger-boats go on being
promised, and that is all. They asked me £35
for a bad dahabeeyeh only to Thebes. The
rush of travellers is enormous. Luckily it is
a very warm night, and we can make our arrangements
unchilled. There is no door to
the cabin, so we nail up an old plaid; and as
no one ever looks into a hareem, it is quite
enough. The boat is not so clean as an

English, but very much less dirty than a French
one. All on board are Arabs; captain, engineer,
and men. An English Sitt is a novelty
on board, and the captain is unhappy that
things are not à la Franca for me. We are
to tow two dahabeeyehs. Only fancy the Queen
ordering all the river steamers up to Windsor!
At Minyeh the Turkish general leaves us, and
we shall have the boat to ourselves; so the
captain has just been down to tell me.
See what a strange combination of people
float on old Father Nile: two English women,
one Levantine (Madame M——), one Frenchman,
Turks, Arabs, Negroes, Circassians, and
men from Darfoor,—all in one party; perhaps
the other boats contain some other strange element.
There are seven women in the engine
room, among them a Bey's wife, who wanted
to share my cabin, but our good old captain
would not let her. The Turks are from Constantinople,
and can't speak Arabic, and make
faces at the muddy river-water, which, indeed,
I would rather have filtered.
I must now leave off and go to bed, for I
am tired with my day's scuffle, and with writing
on my knees.

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145

LETTER XXX.

On board the steamer, near Asyoot,

Sunday, January 3, 1864.

WE left Cairo last Sunday morning, and a
wonderfully queer company we were. I had
been promised all the steamer to myself; but
owing to Ismaeel Pasha's caprices, our little
steamer had to do the work of three; i. e. to
carry passengers, to tow M. M——'s dahabeeyeh,
and to tow the oldest, dirtiest, queerest
Nubian boat, in which the young son of the
Sultan of Darfoor, and the Sultan's envoy, a
handsome black of Dongola (not a negro),
had visited Ismaeel Pasha. The best cabin was
taken by a sulky old one-eyed Turkish Pasha,
so I had the fore-cabin, luckily a large one,
where I slept on one divan, S—— on the
other, and Omar at my feet. He tried sleeping

on deck, but the Pasha's Arnaouts were
too bad company, and the captain begged me
to “cover my face,” and let my servant sleep
at my feet. Besides, there was a poor old
asthmatical Turkish Efendi going to collect
the taxes, and many women and children in
the engine-room. It would have been insupportable,
but for the hearty politeness of the
Arab captain, a regular “old salt;” and, owing
to his attention and care, it was only very
amusing. At Benee-Suweyf, the first town
above Cairo—about seventy miles—we found
no coals; the Pasha had been up, and had
taken them all. So we kicked our heels on
the bank all day, with the prospect of doing
so for a week.
The captain brought H.R.H. of Darfoor to
visit me and begged me to make him hear
reason about the delay; as I, being English,
must know that a steamer could not go without
coals. H. R. H. was a pretty imperious
little nigger, about eleven or twelve, dressed
in a yellow silk kaftán and a scarlet burnus,
who cut the good old captain short by saying,
“Why, she is a woman, she can't talk to me!”
“Wallah! wallah! What a way to talk to

English Hareem!” shrieked the captain, who
was about to lose his temper. But I had a
happy idea, and produced a box full of French
sweetmeats, which altered the young prince's
views at once. I asked him if he had brothers;—
“Who can count them? they are like
mice.” He said that the Pasha had given
him only a few presents, and was evidently not
pleased. Some of his suite are the most formidable-looking
wild beasts in human shape
I ever beheld; bull-dogs and wild boars, black
as ink, red-eyed, and, ye gods! such jaws and
throats and teeth! others like monkeys, with
arms down to their knees. The Illyrian Arnaouts
on board our boat are revoltingly white,
like fish or drowned people,—no red in the
tallowy skin at all. There were Greeks also,
who left us at Minyeh (the second large town),
and the old Pasha left us this morning at Er-Ródah.
The captain at once ordered all my goods
into the cabin he had left, and turned out the
Turkish Efendi, who wanted to stay with us.
He said he was an old man and sick, and my
company would be agreeable to him; then he
said he was ashamed before the people to be

turned out by an Englishwoman. So I was
very civil, and begged him to pass the day
and to dine with me, which set all right; and
now, after dinner, he has gone off quite pleasantly
to the fore-cabin, and left me here. I
have a stern cabin, a saloon, and an anteroom;
and we are comfortable enough,—only the
fleas! Never till now did I know what fleas
could be. I send a dish from my table every
day henceforth to the captain; as I take the
place of the pasha, it is part of my dignity to
do so; and as I occupy the kitchen, and burn
the ship's coals, I may as well let the captain
dine a little at my expense. In the day I go
up and sit in his cabin on deck, and we talk
as well as we can without an interpreter. The
old fellow says he is sixty-seven, but does not
look more than forty-five. He has just the
air and manner of a seafaring man with us,
and has been wrecked four times,—the last,
in the Black Sea, during the Crimean war,
when he was taken prisoner by the Russians
and sent to Moscow, where he remained for
three years, until the peace. He has a charming
boy of eleven with him, and he tells me
he has twelve children in all, but only one

wife, and is as strict a monogamist as Dr.
Primrose; he told me he should not marry
again if she died; nor, he believed, would she
give him a successor.
There are a good many Copts on board
of a rather low class, and not pleasant. The
Christian gentlemen are very pleasant, but the
low are low indeed, compared to the Muslims;
and one gets a feeling of dirtiness about
them, when one sees them eat all among the
coals, and then squat down there and pull
out their beads to pray, without washing their
hands even. It does look nasty, when compared
to the Muslim coming up clean washed,
and standing erect and manly-looking to his
prayers. Besides, they are coarse in their
manners and conversation, and have not the
Arab respect for women. I only speak of the
common people, not of educated Copts. The
best fun is to hear the Greeks abusing the
Copts,—rogues, heretics, schismatics from the
Greek Church, ignorant, rapacious, cunning,
impudent, etc. etc.; in short, they narrate the
whole fable about their own sweet selves.
I am quite surprised to see how well the
men manage their work. The boat is nearly

as clean as an English boat, equally crowded,
could be kept, and the engine in beautiful order.
The head engineer, Ahmad Efendi, and indeed
the captain and all the crew, wear English
clothes, and use the universal “all right,” “turn
her head,” “forreh (full) speed,” “half speed,”
“stop her,” etc. I was diverted to hear “All
right, go ahead, el Fat' hah!” in one breath.
Here we always say the Fat'hah (first chapter
of the Koran, nearly identical with the Lord's
Prayer) on starting on a journey, concluding
a bargain, etc, etc. The combination was very
quaint.
Already the climate has changed: the air
is sensibly drier and clearer, and the weather
much warmer; and we are not yet at Asyoot.
I remarked last year that the climate changed
most at Kiné, forty miles below Thebes. The
banks are terribly broken and washed away
by the inundation; the Nile is even now far
higher than it was six weeks earlier last
year. At Benee-Suweyf, which used to be the
great cattle place, not a buffalo was left, and
we could not get a drop of milk; but since
we left Minyeh, we see them again, and I hear
the disease is not spreading up the river.

Omar told me that the poor people at Benee-Suweyf
were complaining of the drought and
of the prospect of scarcity, as they could no
longer water the land for want of oxen.
I paid ten napoleons passage-money, and
shall give four or five more as baksheesh, as I
have given a good deal of trouble with all my
luggage, bedding, furniture, provisions, etc.,
for four months, and the boat's people have
been more than civil—really kind and attentive
to us; but a bad dahabeeyeh would have
cost £40, so I am greatly the gainer. Nothing
can exceed the muddle, uncertainty, and carelessness
of the “administration” at Cairo: no
coals at the depôts; boats announced to sail,
and dawdling on for three weeks; no order,
and no care for anybody's convenience but the
Pasha's. But the subordinates on board the
boats do their work perfectly well. We go only
half as quickly as we ought, because we have
two very heavy dahabeeyehs in tow instead of
one; but no time is lost. As long as the light
lasts on we go, and start again as soon as the
moon rises.
The people on board have promoted me in
rank, and call me “El-Emeereh,” an obsolete

Arab title, which the engineer thinks is the
equivalent for “Ladysheep;” Sittee, he said,
was the same as “Missees.” I don't know
how he acquired his ideas on the subject of
English precedence.
Omar has just come in with coffee, and begs
me to give his best salám to his big master
and his little master and lady; and not to forget
to tell them he is their servant, and my
memlook (slave) “from one hand to the other”
(i.e. the whole body).
At Kiné we must try to find time to buy
two filters and some gullehs (water-coolers).
They are made there: at Thebes nothing can
be got.

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153

LETTER XXXI.

January 5, 1864.

WE left Asyoot this afternoon. The captain
had announced that we should start at ten
o'clock (four, Arab time), so I did not go
into the town, but sent Omar to buy food.
But the men of Darfoor all went off, declaring
that they would stop, and promising to cut off
the captain's head if he went without them.
Hasan Efendi, the Turk, was furious, and threatened
to telegraph his complaints to Cairo if
the boat did not go directly, and the poor captain
was in a sad predicament. He appealed to
me, peaceably sitting on the trunk of a palm-tree
with some poor Fellaheen (of whom more
anon). I uttered the longest sentence I could
compose in Arabic, to the effect that he was
captain, and while on the boat we were all
bound to obey him;

154

“Máshá-alláh! one English hareem is more
than ten men for sense; these Inkeleez have
only one word both for themselves and for
other people,—dughree-dughree (Right is
right). This Emeereh is ready to obey like a
memlook, and when she has to command—vhew!”
with a most expressive toss back of
the head.
The bank was crowded with poor Fellaheen,
who had been taken for soldiers, and sent to
await the Pasha's arrival at Girgeh. Three
weeks they lay there, and were then sent
down to Soohay. (The Pasha wanted to see
them himself, and pick out the men he liked.)
Eight days more at Soohay, then to Asyoot;
eight days more, and meanwhile Ismaeel Pasha
has gone back to Cairo, and the poor souls
may wait indefinitely, for no one will venture
to remind the Pasha of their trifling existence;
Wallah! wallah!
While I was walking on the bank with
Monsieur and Madame M——, who joined
me, a person came up, whose appearance puzzled
me, and saluted them. Don't call me a
Persian, when I tell you it was an eccentric
Bedawee young lady. She was eighteen or

twenty at most, dressed like a young man, but
small and feminine, and rather pretty, except
that one eye was blind. Her dress was handsome,
and she had women's jewels, and a
European watch and chain; her manner was
excellent, quite ungenirt, yet not the least impudent
or swaggering; and I was told—indeed
I could hear—that her language was beautiful,
—a thing much esteemed among Arabs.
She is unmarried, and fond of travelling, and of
men's society, being very intelligent; so she
has her dromedary and goes about quite alone.
No one seemed astonished, no one stared; and
when I asked if it was proper, our captain was
surprised. “Why not? If she does not wish
to marry, she can go alone; if she does, she
can marry. What harm? She is a virgin,
and free.” She expressed her opinions pretty
freely, as far as I could understand her. Madame
M—— had heard of her before, and
said she was much respected and admired.
Monsieur M—— had heard she was a spy of
the Pasha's; but the people on board the boat
here say that the truth is, that she went before
Saeed Pasha herself to complain of some
tyrannical Mudeer, who ground and imprisoned

the Fellaheen,—a bold thing for a girl to do.
Anyhow she seemed to me far the most curious
thing I have yet seen.
The weather is already much warmer; it is
nine in the evening, and we are steaming
along, and I sit with the cabin-window open.
To-day, for the first time, I pulled my cloak
over my head in the sun,—it was so stinging
hot,—quite delicious, and it is the 5th of January.
Our captain declares that during the
three years he was prisoner at Moscow and at
Bakshi Serai, he never saw the sun at all;—
hard lines for an Egyptian. Luckily we left all
the fleas behind us in the fore-cabin, for the
benefit of the poor old Turk, who, I hear,
suffers severely. The divans are all bran-new,
and the fleas must have come in the cotton
stuffing, for there are no live things of any
sort in the rest of the boat.
Girgeh, Thursday, January 7.
We have just put in here for the night.
To-day we took on board three convicts in
chains, two bound for Feyzóghloo,—one for
calumny and perjury, and one for manslaughter;
—hard labour for life in that climate will

soon dispose of them; the third is a petty thief
from Kiné, who has been a year in chains
in the custom-house of Alexandria, and is
now being taken back to be shown in his own
place in his chains. The causes célébres of
this country would be curious reading; their
manner of doing their crimes is so different
from ours. If I can get hold of any one who
can relate a few cases well, I will write them
down; Omar has told me a few, but he may
not know the details accurately.
I made further inquiry about the Bedawee
lady, who is older than she looks, for she
has travelled constantly for ten years. She
is rich, and much respected, and received in
all the best houses, where she sits with the
men all day and sleeps in the hareem. She
has been into the interior of Africa and to
Mecca, and, I hear, speaks Turkish, and is extremely
agreeable,—full of interesting information
about all the countries she has visited.
As soon as I can talk, I must try to find her
out; she likes the company of Europeans.
Here is a contribution to “folklore,” new
even to Lane, I think. When the coffeeseller
lights his stove in the morning he

makes two cups of coffee of the best, and
nicely sugared, and pours them out, all over
the stove, saying, “God bless, or favour, Sheykh
Shádhilee and his descendants.” The blessing
on the saint who invented coffee of course I
knew, and often utter, but the libation is new
to me. You see the ancient religion crops
up, even through the severe faith of Islam. If
I could describe all the details of an Arab, and
still more, of a Coptic wedding, you would
think I was relating the mysteries of Isis. At
one house I saw the bride's father looking
pale and anxious, and Omar said, “I think he
wants to hold his stomach with both hands
till the women tell him if his daughter makes
his face white;”—it was such a good phrase
for the sinking at heart of anxiety! It certainly
seems more reasonable that a woman's
misconduct should blacken her father's face
than her husband's.
There are a good many things about “hareem”
here, which I am barbarian enough to
think extremely good and rational. I heard
from an ear-witness a conversation which
passed between an old Turk of Cairo, and a
young Englishman, who politely chaffed him

about Muslim license. Upon this the venerable
Turk, who had been in Europe, asked
some questions as to the nature and number
of the Englishman's relations to women, which
the latter was wholly unable to answer.
“Well, young man,” said the Turk, “I am
old, and was married at twelve; and I have
seen, in all my life, seven women; four are
dead, and three are happy and comfortable
in my house. Where are all yours?” (As a
woman is never seen but by her husband or
possessor, the word has acquired another meaning.)
I find that the criminal convicted of calumny,
accused (together with twenty-nine
others, not in custody) the Sheykh-el-Beled
of his village, of murdering his servant, and
produced a basketful of bones as proof; but
the Sheykh produced the living man, and his
detractor gets hard labour for life. The proceeding
is characteristic of the childish ruse
of this country. I inquired whether the thief
who was dragged in chains through the streets
would be able to find work, and was told, “Oh,
certainly,—is he not a poor man? for the sake
of God every one will be ready to help him.”

An absolute uncertainty of justice naturally
leads to this result. Our captain was quite
shocked to find that in my country we did not
like to employ a returned convict.
Luxor, Monday.
We spent all the afternoon of Saturday at
Kiné, where I dined with the English consul,
a worthy old Arab, who also invited our captain,
and we sat round his copper tray on the
floor, and ate with our fingers, the Captain,
who sat next me, picking out the best bits with
his brown fingers and feeding me with them.
After dinner, the French consul, a Copt, sent
to invite me to a fantasia at his house, where
I found the M——s, the Mudeer and some
other Turks, and an ill-bred Italian. I was
glad to see the dancing-girls, but I liked old
Seyyid Ahmad's patriarchal ways much better
than the tone of the Frenchified Copt. At
first I thought the dancing queer and dull.
One girl was very handsome, but cold and uninteresting;
one who sang was also pretty and
engaging; but the dancing consisted of contortions,
more or less graceful,—very wonderful
as a gymnastic feat, but no more. But the

captain called out to one Lateefeh, an ugly,
clumsy-looking wench, to show the Sitt what
she could do, and then it was revealed to me.
The ugly girl started on her feet, and became
the “serpent of old Nile,”—the head, shoulders,
and arms eagerly bent forward, waist in
and haunches advanced on the bent knees,—
the posture of a cobra about to spring. I
could not call it voluptuous, any more than
Racine's ‘Phédre;’ it is “Vénus toute entière
à sa proie attachée,” and to me seemed tragic.
It is far more realistic than the fandango,
and far less coquettish, because the thing represented
is au grand sérieux,—not travestied,
gazé, or played with; and like all such things,
the Arab men don't think it the least improper.
Of course the girls do not commit any
indecorums before European women, except
the dance itself.
Seyyid Ahmad would have given me a fantasia,
but he feared I might have men with me;
he had had great annoyance from two Englishmen,
who behaved in such a manner to the
girls that he was obliged' to turn them out of
his house, after hospitably entertaining them.
Our procession home to the boat was very

droll: Madame M—— could not ride on an
Arab saddle, so I lent her mine and enfourchéd
my donkey; and away we went, with men running
before us with mesh'als (fire-baskets on
long poles) and lanterns, and the captain shouting
out “full speed” and such English phrases
all the way, like a regular old salt as he is.
We got here last night, and this morning
Mustafa Agha and the Názir came down to conduct
me up to my palace. I have such a big
rambling house, all over the top of the temple
of Khem; how I wish I had you and the children
to fill it! We had about twenty fellahs
to clean the dust of three years' accumulation,
and my room looks quite handsome with carpets
and a divan. Mustafa's little girl found
her way here when she heard I was come, and
it was so pleasant to have her playing on
the carpet with a doll and some sugar-plums,
and making a feast for Dolly on a saucer, arranging
the sugar-plums Arab fashion; such
a quiet little brown tot, curiously like R—,
with the addition of walnut juice. She was
extremely pleased with R——'s picture and
kissed it.
The view all round my house is magnificent

on every side; across the Nile in front, facing
N.W., and over a splendid expanse of green and
a range of distant orange-buff hills to the S.E.,
where I have a spacious covered terrace. It
is rough and dusty in the extreme, but will be
very pleasant. Mustafa came in just now to
offer me the loan of a horse, and to ask me to
go to the mosque a few nights hence, to see
the illumination in honour of a great sheykh,
a descendant of Seedee Hoseyn or Hasan. I
asked whether my presence might not offend
any Muslim, but he would not hear of such a
thing. The sun set while he was there, and
he asked if I objected to his praying in my
presence; on my replying in the negative, he
went through his four rek'ahs very comfortably
on my carpet.
My next-door neighbour (across the courtyard,
all filled with antiquities) is a nice little
Copt, who looks like an antique statue himself;
I shall voisiner with his family. He sent me
coffee as soon as I arrived, and came to help.
I am invited to El-Mutáneh, a few hours up
the river, to visit the M——s, and to Kiné
to visit Seyyid Ahmad, and also the head of
the merchants there, who settled the price of

a carpet for me in the bazaar, and seemed to
like me. He was just one of those handsome,
high-bred, elderly merchants, with whom a
story always begins in the Arabian Nights. A
very nice English couple gave me a break-fast
in their boat.
When I can talk, I will go and see an Arab
hareem. I asked Mustafa about the Arab
young lady; he spoke very highly of her,
and is to let me know if she comes here, and
to offer her hospitality from me; he did not
know her name. She is called “El Hajjeeyeh,”
the pilgrimess.
Thursday.
Now I am settled in my Theban palace it
seems more and more beautiful, and I am quite
melancholy that you cannot be here to enjoy it.
The house is very large, and has good thick
walls, the comfort of which we feel to-day, for
it blows a hurricane, but in-doors it is not
at all cold. I have glass windows and doors
to some of the rooms; it is a lovely dwelling.
Two funny little owls, as big as my fist, live
in the wall under my window, and come and
peep in, walking on tiptoe and looking inquisitive,

like the owls in the hieroglyphics, and
barking at me like young puppies; and a
splendid horus (the sacred hawk) frequents
my lofty balcony. Another of my contemplar
gods I sacrilegiously killed last night,—a whip
snake. Omar is rather in consternation, for
fear it should be “the snake of the house;”
for Islam has not dethroned the “Dii Lares
et tutelares.”
Some men came to mend the staircase,
which had fallen in, and which consists of
huge solid blocks of stone. One man crushed
his thumb, and I had to operate on it. It is
extraordinary how these people bear pain; he
never winced in the least, and went off thanking
God and the lady quite cheerfully. I have
been “sapping” at the “Alif Bay”—A B C
—to-day, under the direction of Sheykh Yoosuf,
a graceful, sweet-looking young man, with
a dark-brown face, and such fine manners in
his fellah dress,—a coarse brown woollen
shirt, a libdeh or felt skull-cap, and a common
red shawl round his head and shoulders.
Writing the wrong way is very hard work.
It was curious to see Sheykh Yoosuf
blush from shyness when he came in first;

it shows quite as much in the coffee-brown
Arab skin as in the fairest European,—quite
unlike that of the much lighter coloured mulatto
or Malay, who never change colour at all.
A photographer, who is living here, showed
me photographs done high up the White
Nile. One negro girl is so splendid, that I
must get him to do me a copy to send you.
She is not perfect like the Nubians, but so superbly
strong and majestic. If I can get hold
of a handsome Fellaheh here, I will get her
photographed, to show you in Europe what a
woman's breast can be, for I never knew it
before I came here; it is the most beautiful
thing in the world, and gloriously independent
of stays or any support.

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167

LETTER XXXII.

January 20, 1864.

WE have had a week of piercing winds, and
I have been obliged to stay in bed. To-day
was fine again, and I mounted old Mustafa's
cob pony and jogged over his farm with him,
and lunched on delicious sour cream and fateereh
at a neighbouring village, to the great
delight of the fellaheen. It was more biblical
than ever; the people were all relations of
Mustafa's, and to see Seedee Omar, the head
of the household, and the young men coming
in from the field, and the flocks and herds and
camels and asses, was like a beautiful dream.
All these people are of good blood, and a sort
of “roll of Battle” is kept for the genealogies
of the noble Arabs who came in with
Amr, the first Arab conqueror and lieutenant

of Omar. Not one of these brown men who
do not own a second shirt, would give his
brown daughter to the greatest Turkish Pasha.
This country noblesse is more interesting to
me by far than the town people, though
Omar, who is quite a cockney and piques himself
on being “delicate,” turns up his nose at
their beggarly pride, as Londoners used to do
at “barelegged Highlanders.” The air of perfect
equality (except as to the respect due to
the head of the clan) with which the villagers
treated Mustafa, and which he fully returned,
made it all seem so very gentlemanlike.
They are not so dazzled by a little show,
and are far more manly than the Cairenes. I
am already on visiting terms with the “county
families” resident near Luxor. The Názir
(magistrate) is a very nice person, and my
Sheykh Yoosuf, who is of the highest blood
(being descended from Abu-l-Hajjáj himself),
is quite charming.
There is an intelligent German here as
Austrian consul, who draws nicely. I went
into his house, and was startled by hearing a
pretty little Arab boy, his servant, say, “Soll
ich den Kaffee bringen?” What next? They

are all mad to learn languages, and Mustafa
begs me and S——to teach his little child,
Zeyneb, English.
Friday, January 22.
Yesterday, I rode over to Karnac with Mustafa's
Sais running by my side; glorious hot
sun and delicious air. To hear the Sais chatter
away, his tongue running as fast as his feet,
made me deeply envious of his lungs. Mustafa
joined me, and pressed me to go to visit
the sheykh's tomb for the benefit of my health,
as he and Sheykh Yoosuf wished to say a
Fat'hah for me; but I must not drink wine
that day. I made a little difficulty on the score
of difference of religion, but Sheykh Yoosuf,
who came up, said he presumed I worshipped
God and not stones, and that sincere prayers
were good anywhere. Clearly the bigotry
would have been on my side if I had refused
any longer, so in the evening I went with
Mustafa.
It was a very curious sight: the little
dome illuminated with as much oil as the
mosque could afford, over the tombs of Abu-l-Hajjáj
and his three sons. A magnificent

old man, like Father Abraham himself, dressed
in white, sat on a carpet at the foot of the
tomb; he was the head of the family of Abu-l-Hajjáj.
He made me sit by him, and was
extremely polite. Then came the Názir, the
Kádee, a Turk travelling on government business,
and a few other gentlemen, who all sat
down round us, after kissing the hand of the
old sheykh. Every one talked; in fact, it was
a soirée in honour of the dead sheykh. A
party of men sat at the further end of the
place, with their faces to the kibleh, and played
on a darabukkeh (sort of small drum stretched
over an earthenware funnel, which gives a peculiar
sound), a tambourine without bells, and
little tinkling cymbals (seggal), fitting on thumb
and finger (crotales), and chanted songs in
honour of Mohammad, and verses from the
Psalms of David. Every now and then, one of
our party left off talking, and prayed a little or
counted his beads. The old sheykh sent for
coffee and gave me the first cup,—a wonderful
concession; at last the Nazir proposed a
Fat'hah for me, which the whole group round
me repeated aloud, and then each said to me:
—“Our Lord God bless thee, and give thee

health and peace, to thee and thy family, and
take thee back safe to thy master and thy
children;” every one adding “Ameen” and giving
the salám with the hand. I returned it
and said, “Our Lord reward thee and all
people of kindness to strangers,” which was
considered a very proper answer.
After that we went away, and the worthy
Názir walked home with me to take a pipe
and a glass of sherbet and enjoy a talk about
his wife and eight children, who are all in
Fum-el-Bahr, except two boys at school in
Cairo. Government appointments are so precarious,
that it is not worth while to move his
family up here, as the expense would be too
heavy on a salary of £15 a month, with the
chance of recall any day.
I ought to add that in Cairo or Lower
Egypt, it would be quite impossible for a
Christian to enter a sheykh's tomb at all,—
above all on his birthday festival, and on the
night of Friday.
Friday, January 29.
The last week has been very cold here, the
thermometer 59° and 60°, with a nipping wind

and bright sun. I was obliged to keep my
bed for three or four days, as a palace without
doors or windows to speak of was very
trying, though far better than a boat. Yesterday
and to-day are better,—not much warmer,
but a different air. The Moolid (festival) of
the sheykh terminated last Saturday with a
procession, in which the new cover of his
tomb, and the ancient sacred boat, were carried
on men's shoulders; it all seemed to have
walked out of the royal tombs, only dusty and
shabby instead of gorgeous. These festivals
of the dead are such as Herodotus alludes to
as held in honour of “him whose name he dares
not mention;”—“him who sleeps in Philae,”
only the name is changed, and the mummy is
absent. For a fortnight every one who had a
horse and could ride, came and “made fantasia”
every afternoon for two hours before sunset,
and very pretty it was. The people here show
their good blood in their riding.
For the last three days, all strangers were
entertained with bread and cooked meat, at
the expense of the Luxor people. Every house
killed a sheep and baked bread. As I could
not do that for want of servants enough, I sent;

100 piastres (about twelve shillings) to the servants
of Abu-l-Hajjáj at the mosque, to pay for
the oil burnt at the tomb, etc. I was not well,
and in bed, but I hear that my gift gave great
satisfaction, and that I was again well prayed
for.
The Coptic bishop came to see me, but he
is a tipsy old monk. He sent for tea, alleging
that he was ill, so I went to see him, and
quickly perceived that his disorder was too
much arakee. He has a very nice black slave,
a Christian, who is a friend of Omar's, and
sent him a handsome dinner, all ready cooked;
among other things, a chicken stuffed with
green wheat was excellent. Omar constantly
gets dinners sent him,—bread, some dates, and
cooked fowls or pigeons, and fateereh with
honey, all tied up hot in a cloth. I gave an
old fellow a pill and dose some days ago, but
his dura ilia took no notice, and he came for
more and got castor oil. I have not seen him
since, but his employer, Fellah Omar, sent me
some delicious butter in return. I think it
shows great intelligence in these people that
none of them will any longer consult an Arab
hakeem, if they can get a European to physic

them. They now ask directly whether the
government doctors have been to Europe to
learn “hekmeh,” and, if not, they don't trust
them. For poor “savages” and “heathens”
this is not so stupid. I had to interrupt my
lessons from illness, but Sheykh Yoosuf came
again last night. I have mastered some things.
Oh, dear! what must poor Arab children suffer
in learning A, B, C! it is a terrible alphabet,
and the shekel, or points, are distracting.
You may conceive how much we are naturalized,
when I tell you I have received a serious
offer of marriage for S——. Mustafa Agha, the
richest and most considerable person here, has
requested me to “give her to him” for his
eldest son, Seyyid, a nice lad of nineteen or
twenty at most. He said, that of course, she
would keep to her own religion and her own
customs. I said she was too old, but they
think that no objection at all. She will have
to say that her father would not allow it, for
a handsome offer deserves a civil refusal.
S——'s proposals would be quite an ethnological
study. Mustafa asked what I should require
as dowry for her.
The young Englishmen to whom my mother

gave letters met me yesterday in the street.
I knew Mr. S—— from his likeness to his
mother. They were drawing the ruins. They
go up the river to-morrow, and I will give them
a dinner when they come down again, Arab
fashion, and let them eat with their fingers.
I have not knives and forks enough for more
than two people, so I will borrow a copper
tray and serve à I' Arabe.
I should like to give them a fantasia, but it
is not proper for a woman to send for the dancing-girls;
and as I am the friend of the
Mamoor Maohn (the police magistrate), the
Kádee, and the respectable people here, I cannot
do what is indecorous in their eyes. It is
quite enough that they tolerate my unveiled
face and my associating with men; that is “my
custom,” and they think no harm of it.
I am so charmed with my house that I
begin seriously to contemplate staying here all
the time; Cairo is so dear now, and so many
dead cattle are buried there, that I think I
should do better in this place. There is a
huge hall here, so large and cold now as to
be uninhabitable, which in summer would be
glorious. I could only afford a very poky

lodging in Cairo, and here I shall live for a
trifle in comfort and save the expense of boat
hire; moreover, the complete quiet would
suit me better than travelling. My dear old
captain of steamer No. 12 will bring me up
coffee and candles, and if I “sap,” and learn
to talk to the people, I shall have plenty of
company.
The cattle disease has not extended above
Minyeh to any great degree, and here there
has not been a case. Food is very good here,
at rather less than half Cairo prices even now;
in summer it will be half that. Mustafa urges
me to stay, and proposes picnics of a few days
over in the tombs, with his hareem, as a diversion.
I send you a photograph of my two beloved
lonely palm-trees on the river-bank just
above Philae. I send you also the seal and
names of Abraham and all the family buried
in the tomb of Machpelah. It is, of course, a
“hegáb” (talisman).

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177

LETTER XXXIII.

Sunday, February 7, 1864.

WE have had our winter pretty sharp for
three weeks, and everybody has had violent
colds and coughs,—the Arabs I mean. I have
been a good deal ailing, but have escaped any
violent cold altogether, and now the thermometer
is up to 64°, and it feels very pleasant.
In the sun it is always very hot, but that
does not prevent the air from being keen, and
chapping lips and noses, and even hands. It
is curious how a temperature which would
be summer in England makes one shiver at
Thebes; El-hamdu-lilláh, it is over now!
My poor Sheykh Yoosuf is in great distress
about his brother, also a young sheykh (i.e.
one learned in theology, and competent to
preach in the mosque). Sheykh Mohammad

is come home from studying in El-Azhar at
Cairo,—I fear, to die. I went with Sheykh
Yoosuf, at his desire, to see if I could help
him, and found him gasping for breath, and
very, very ill; I gave him a little soothing
medicine, and put mustard plasters on him,
and as they relieved him, I went again and repeated
them. All the family and a number
of neighbours crowded in to look on. There
he lay in a dark little den with bare mudwalls,
worse off, to our ideas, than any pauper
in England; but these people do not feel the
want of comforts, and one learns to think it
quite natural to sit with perfect gentlemen in
places inferior to our cattle-sheds. I pulled
some blankets up against the wall, and put
my arm behind Sheykh Mohammad's back, to
make him rest while the poultices were on
him; whereupon he laid his green turbaned
head on my shoulder, and presently held up
his delicate brown face for a kiss, like an affectionate
child. As I kissed him, a very pious
old moollah said “Bismiláh!” (In the name
of God!) with an approving nod, and Sheykh
Mohammad's old father (a splendid old man
in a green turban) thanked me with “effusion,”

and prayed that my children might always
find help and kindness. I suppose if I
confessed to kissing a “dirty Arab” in a hovel,
civilized people would execrate me; but it
shows how much there is in “Muslim bigotry,”
“unconquerable hatred of Christians,” etc.; for
this family are Seyyids (descendants of the Prophet),
and very pious. Sheykh Yoosuf does not
even smoke, and he preaches on Fridays.
I rode over to a village a few days ago, to
see a farmer named Omar; of course I had
to eat, and the people were enchanted at my
going alone, as they are used to see the English
armed and guarded. Seedee Omar, however,
insisted on accompanying me home, which is
the civil thing here. He piled a whole stack
of green fodder on his little nimble donkey,
and hoisted himself atop of it without saddle
or bridle, (the fodder was for Mustafa Agha,)
and we trotted home across the beautiful green
barley-fields, to the amazement of some European
young men who were out shooting.
We did look a curious pair certainly, with
my English saddle and bridle, habit, and hat
and feather, on horseback, and Seedee Omar's
brown shirt, bare legs, and white turban, guiding

his donkey with his chibouque; we were
laughing very merrily, too, over my blundering
Arabic.
To-morrow or next day, Ramadán begins, at
the first sight of the new moon; it is a great
nuisance, because everybody is cross. Omar
did not keep it last year, but this year he will;
and if he spoils my dinners, who can blame
him?
There was a wedding close by my house last
night, and about ten o'clock all the women
passed under my window, with cries of joy
—“EI Zaghareet,”—down to the river. I find
on inquiry, that in Upper Egypt, as soon as
the bridegroom has “taken the face” of his
bride and left her, the women take her down
to “see the Nile;” they have not yet forgotten
that the old god is the giver of increase,
it seems.
I have been reading Miss Martineau's book;
the descriptions are excellent, and it is true as
far as it goes; but there is the usual defect;—
to her, as to most Europeans, the people are
not real people, only part of the scenery. She
evidently knew and cared nothing about them,
and had the feeling of most English travellers,

that the differences of manners are a sort of
impassable gulf;—the truth being that their
feelings and passions are just like our own.
It is curious that all the old books of travels
that I have read mention the natives of strange
countries in a far more natural tone, and with
far more attempt to discriminate character,
than modern ones,—e.g. Carsten Niebuhr's
Travels here and in Arabia, Cook's Voyages,
and many others. Have we grown so very
civilized since a hundred years, that outlandish
people seem to us like mere puppets, and not
like real human beings? Miss Martineau's
bigotry against Copts and Greeks is droll
enough, compared to her very proper reverence
for “Him who sleeps in Philae,” and
her attack upon the hareems is outrageous.
She implies that they are scenes of debauchery.
I must admit that I have not seen a Turkish
hareem, and she apparently saw no other, and
yet she fancies the morals of Turkey to be superior
to those of Egypt. Very often a man
marries a second wife, out of a sense of duty,
to provide for a brother's widow and children,
or the like. Of course licentious men act
loosely here as elsewhere. “We are all sons

of Adam,” as Sheykh Yoosuf says constantly,
“bad-bad and good-good;” and modern travellers
show strange ignorance in talking of
foreign nations in the lump, as they nearly all
do.
Monday.—I have just heard that poor
Sheykh Mohammad died yesterday, and was,
as usual, buried at once. I had not been well
for a few days, and Sheykh Yoosuf took care
that I should not know of his brother's death.
He went to Mustafa Agha, and told him not
to tell any one of my house till I was better,
because he knew “what was in my stomach”
towards his family, and feared I should be made
worse by the news. And how often have I
been advised not to meddle with sick Arabs,
because they are sure to suspect a Christian of
poisoning those who die! I do grieve for the
graceful handsome young creature and his old
father. Omar was vexed at not knowing of his
death, because he would have liked to help to
carry him to the grave. These Saeedees are
much nicer than the Lower Egypt people;
they have good Arab blood in their veins, keep
pedigrees, and are more manly and independent,
and more liberal in religion. You would

like them much, they are such thorough gentlemen.
I am beginning to stammer out a little Arabic,
but find it horribly difficult; the plurals
are bewildering, and the verbs quite heart-rending.
I have at last learnt the alphabet,
and can write it quite tidily, but now I am in
a fix for want of a dictionary; I have written
to Hekekian Bey to buy me one in Cairo.
Sheykh Yoosuf knows not a word of English,
and Omar can't read or write, and has no notion
of grammar or of “word for word” interpretation,
and it is very slow work. When I
walk through the court of the mosque, I give
the customary coppers to the little boys who
are spelling away loudly under the arcade, with
a keen sympathy with their difficulties and
well-smudged tin slates. An additional evil is,
that the Arabic books printed in England, and
at English presses here, require a forty-horse
power microscope to distinguish a letter. The
ciphering is like ours, but with other figures;
and I felt very stupid when I discovered how
I had reckoned Arab fashion, from right to
left all my life, and never observed the fact.
However, it must be remarked that they cast

down a column of figures from top to bottom.
I am just called away by some poor men
who want me to speak to the English travellers
about shooting their pigeons. It is very
thoughtless, but it is in great measure the
fault of the servants and dragomans, who think
they must not venture to tell their masters
that pigeons are private property; I have a
great mind to put a notice on the wall of my
house about it. Here, where there are never
less than eight or ten boats lying for full three
months, the loss to the Fellaheen is serious,
and our Consul, Mustafa Agha, is afraid to say
anything. I have given my neighbours permission
to call the pigeons mine, as they roost
in flocks on my roof; and to go out and say
that the Sitt objects to her poultry being shot,
—especially as I have had them shot off my
balcony as they sat there.
I got a note from M. M—yesterday,
inviting me to go and stay at EI Mootaneh,
Haleem Pasha's great estate near Edfoo, and
offering to send his dahabeeyeh for me. I
certainly will go as soon as the weather is
decidedly hot; it is now very warm and

pleasant. If I find Thebes too hot as summer
advances, I must drop down and return to
Cairo, or try Suez, which I hear is excellent
in summer,—bracing desert air. But it is very
tempting to stay here;—a splendid cool house,
food extremely cheap,—about a pound a week
for fish, bread, butter, meat, milk, eggs, and
vegetables;—all grocery, of course, I brought
with me:—no trouble, rest and civil neighbours.
I feel very much disinclined to move
unless I am baked out, and it takes a good deal
to bake me. The only fear is the Khamaseen
wind. I do not feel very well; I don't
ail anything in particular, and have much less
cough; but I am so weak, and good for nothing.
I seldom feel able to go out, or do
more than sit in the balcony, on one side or
other of the house. I have no donkey here,
the hired ones are so very bad and so dear
but I have written to M. M—to try and
get me one at EI Mootaneh, and send it down
in one of Haleem Pasha's corn-boats. There is
no comfort like a donkey always ready. If I
have to send for Mustafa's horse, I feel lazy,
and fancy it is too much trouble, unless I can
go just when I want.

186

What dreadful weather you have had! We
felt the ghost of it here in our three weeks
of cold. Sometimes I feel as if I must go back
to you all, coûte qui coûte; but I know it
would be of no use to try it this summer. I
long for more news of you and my chicks.

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187

LETTER XXXIV.

February 12, 1864.

WE are in Ramadán now, and Omar really
enjoys a good opportunity of “making his
soul.” He fasts and washes vigorously, prays
his five times a day, and goes to mosque
on Fridays and is quite merry over it, and
ready to cook infidels' dinners with exemplary
good humour. It is a great merit in Muslims
that they are not at all grumpy over their
piety. Weather like that of Paradise has set
in since five or six days! I sit on my lofty balcony
and drink the sweet northerly breeze,
and look at the glorious mountain opposite,
and think if only you and the children were
here, it would be “the best o' life.” The
beauty of Egypt grows on one, and I think it
far more lovely this year than I did last.

188

My great friend the Maohn (he is not the
názir, who is a fat little pig-eyed Turk) lives
in a house which also has a superb view in
another direction, and I often go and sit “on
the bench,” i. e. the mastabah in front of his
house, and do what little talk I can, and see
the people come with their grievances. I
don't understand much of what goes on, as the
patois is broad and doubles the difficulty, or I
would send you a Théban police-report; but
the Maohn is very pleasant in his manner to
them, and they don't seem frightened.
We have appointed a very small boy our
bowwáb, or porter, or rather he has appointed
himself, and his assumption of dignity is quite
delicious; he has provided himself with a huge
staff, and he behaves like the most tremendous
janissary. He is about the size of a child of
five, and as sharp as a needle, and possesses the
remains of a brown shirt and a ragged kitchen
duster as turban. I am very fond of little
Ahmad, and like to see him doing tableaux
vivants
from Murillo, with a plate of broken
victuals. The children of this place have become
so insufferable about baksheesh, that I
have complained to the Maohn, and he will

assemble a committee of parents and enforce
better manners. It is only here, and just where
the English go. When I ride into the little
villages, I never hear the word, but am always
offered milk to drink; I have taken it two or
three times and not offered to pay, and the
people always seemed quite pleased.
Yesterday Sheykh Yoosuf came again, the
first time since his brother's death; he was evidently
deeply affected, but spoke in the usual
way, “It is the will of God, we must all die.”
I wish you could see Sheykh Yoosuf; I think
he is the sweetest creature in look and manner
I ever beheld,—so refined and so simple, and
with the animal grace of a gazelle. A high-bred
Arab is as graceful as an Indian, but quite
without the feline Geschmeidigkeit, or the look
of dissimulation; the eye is as clear and frank
as a child's. The Austrian consular agent
here, who knows Egypt and Arabia well, tells
me that he thinks many of them quite as good
as they look, and said of Sheykh Yoosuf, “Er
ist so gemüthlich
!”
There is a German here deciphering hieroglyphics,
Herr Dümmichen, a very agreeable
man, but he has gone across the river to live

at El-Kurneh. He has been through Ethiopia
in search of temples and inscriptions. I am to
go over and visit him, and see some of the
tombs again in his company, which I shall enjoy,
as a good interpreter is sorely wanted in
those mysterious regions.
I have just heard that a good donkey is en
route
in a boat from El Mootaneh; he will
cost between four and five pounds, and will
enable me to be about far more than I could
by merely borrowing Mustafa's horse, about
which I have scruples, as he lends it to other
lady-travellers. Little Ahmad will be my Sáis
as well as my doorkeeper, I suppose.
Mustafa Agha has acted as English consular
agent here for something like thirty years, and
is really the slave of the travellers. He gives
them dinners, mounts them, and does all the
disagreeable business of wrangling with the
Reyyis and dragomans for them, takes care of
their letters, makes himself a postmaster, sends
them out to the boats, and does all manner
of services for them, and, lastly, lends his
house for infidels to pray in on Sundays when
a clergyman is here. For this he has no remuneration
at all, except such presents as the

English think fit to make him, and I have seen
enough to know that they are not often large,
nor always gracefully given. The old fellow
at Kiné, who has nothing to do, gets regular
pay, and I think Mustafa ought to have something;
he is now old and somewhat infirm,
and has to keep a clerk to help him, and at
least his expenses ought to be covered. Please
say this to Mr. Layard from me, as my message
to him.
Tell my friends who desire to hear from me
that I have no news to send from hence; I
only know what wheat, barley, lentils, and sesame
fetch per ardebb, and how sugar-cane
rules. By the bye, I hear meat is ten piastres
(Is. 3d.) a pound in Cairo. Of course everything
will have risen in proportion.
February 14, 1864.
Yesterday we had a dust-storm from the desert;
it made my head heavy and made me
feel languid, but did not affect my chest at all.
To-day is a soft, grey day; there was a little
thunder this morning and a few, very few,
drops of rain, hardly enough for even Herodotus
to consider portentous. My donkey came

down last night and I tried him to-day, and he
is very satisfactory, though alarmingly small,
as the real Egyptian donkey always is; the big
ones are from the Hejaz. But it is wonderful
how the little creatures run along under one,
as easy as possible, and they have no will of
their own. I rode mine out to El-Karnak and
back, and he did not seem to think me at all
heavy. I could put him in my pocket, but
his vigour and spirit are amazing. When they
are overworked and over-galloped, they become
bad on the legs and easily fall. All those
for hire are quite stumped up, poor beasts!
they are so willing and docile that every one
overdrives them.
I have a letter for the Comte de Rougé, the
great Egyptologist, whose steamer has just come
down here; Mariette Bey is with him. I hope
they will turn out good company. I have seen
Lord and Lady S—, and several other English
travellers. One never hears people's names
here; so unless they like to call on me, the
boats come and go, and I don't know who is in
them. The Arab servants never know their
English masters' names, and never ask.
I am getting on with Arabic, but it is very

difficult; Sheykh Yoosuf is bent on making
an Alimeh of me, and teaching me to speak
elegantly with inflections, which are only used
by the learned. Meanwhile my vocabulary
increases slowly. Omar has not an idea of
translating; he learned English too young to
remember the process of learning, and he can
give no help because he talks too quick, and
rattles out such a heap of illustrative sentences
that one is bewildered.
February 18, 1864.
We have had strange weather; first a whole
wet day—not known for ten years—and three
days of hurricane from the south-west, with
an atmosphere of sand and dust—horrid!
I went the other day to a fantasia which Mustafa
Agha gave to young S—and Co., and
was much amused; there was one very good
dancer. Mariette Bey and M. de Rougé came
in with some dear old-fashioned English people,
whose naïve wonder was irresistibly comic.
A lady wondered how the women here could
wear clothes “so different from English females,
poor things!” but they were not malveillants,
only pitying and wonderstruck. What

surprised them most was to see me going
through the saláming ceremonies with Seleem
Efendi, the maohn, and our sitting down together
on his carpet.
Mustafa told Omar that he expected Fadl
Pasha, the Governor of all Upper Egypt, to
dinner, and asked him to go and help to arrange
the entertainment. Did not Omar bristle
up? “What! could his lady be left for
some hours without her servant, on account
of a Turkish pasha? Did not Mustafa know
that this was an Emeereh of the Inkeleez? No,
not for Efendeena (the Viceroy) himself would
he do such a thing! Wallah!” There is nothing
like an Arab servant for asserting his
master's or mistress's greatness, and I suspect
a little sly pleasure in defying a big Turk
from behind the protection of my dignity; for
Omar muttered something about high English
people not “making themselves big;” which
sounded like a covert reflection on those who
do.
A characteristic trait of manners was that
last night, Sheykh Yoosuf having stayed till
dark over my lesson, I asked him to “break-fast”
at my dinner; being now Ramadán, he

said quite simply, “Oh yes, but he could not
eat on a table with forks, so he would go
and eat with Omar, and come back to enjoy
my society.” This was not at all the slavish
feeling which made the chaplain of old prefer
the steward's room, but the genuine fraternité et
égalité
of this people. “All Muslims
are brothers,” says the Koran, and they
behave as such. Catch a Frenchman or American
doing such a thing so simply!
This weather is so depressing I hardly have
courage to write at all; it has been quite as bad
as a Cape south-easter. I never saw such an
atmosphere of sand and dust; no one could
stir out. Some women who tried to fetch
water had their pitchers blown off their heads.
I was very glad to be in a good house, and not
on a boat.

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196

LETTER XXXV.

El-Uksur,

February 19, 1864.

I HAVE only time for a few lines, to go down
by Mr. S—— and his companions to Cairo.
They are very good specimens of young Englishmen,
and are quite recognized here as
“belonging to the higher people,” because
they “do not make themselves big.”
We had a whole day's rain (which Herodotus
says is a portent here), and a hurricane
from the south, worthy of the Cape. I thought
we should have been buried under the drifting
sand. To-day is again heavenly. I saw Abdel-Azeez,
the chemist, in Cairo; he seemed a
very good fellow, and was a pupil of my old
friend M. Chevreul, and highly recommended
by him. Here I am out of all European
ideas.

197

The Sheykh-el-Arab (of the Ababdeh tribe),
who has a sort of town-house here, has invited
me out into the desert to the black tents, and
I intend to make a visit with old Mustafa
Agha. The Sheykh is identical in face with
A —— A ——, if the latter were painted dark
mahogany colour. There is a Roman well in
his yard, with a ghool in it. I can't get the
story from Mustafa, who is ashamed of such
superstitions, but I'll find it out.
I begin to feel all the time before me to be
away from you all very long indeed, but I do
think my best chance is a long spell of real
heat. I have got through this winter without
once catching cold at all to signify, and now
the fine weather is come. All my Egyptian
friends have such a great idea of the good to
be done by the summer, which they consider
the healthy season.
I am writing in Arabic, from Sheykh Yoosuf's
dictation, the dear old story of the Barber's
Brother, with the basket of glass. The
Arabs are so diverted at hearing that we all
know the Elf Leyleh wa-Leyleh, the ‘Thousand
Nights and a Night.’ The want of a
dictionary, with a teacher knowing no word of

English, is terrible; I don't know how I learn
at all.
The post is pretty quick up to this place; I
got your letter within three weeks, you see,

but I get no newspapers; the post is all on
foot, and can't carry anything so heavy. One
of my men of last year, Asgalanee, the steersman,
has just been to see me; he says his
journey was happier last year.
We have slain two snakes here, at several
times. A jackal was caught in the garden,
but let go again by fear and clumsiness. No
one here has the faintest idea of “pets.”
The thermometer in the cold antechamber
now is 67°, where no sun ever comes, and the
blaze of the sun is prodigious.
11 Ramadán.

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199

LETTER XXXVI.

El-Uksur,

February 26, 1864.

I HAVE your letter of the 3rd instant. You
would be amused to see Omar bring me a
letter, and sit down on the floor till I tell
him the family news; and then, “El-hamdu-lilláh!”
we are so pleased, and he goes off to
his pots and pans.
Lord and Lady S—— are here. The English
milord, extinct on the continent, has revived
in Egypt, and is greatly reverenced, and
usually much liked. “These high English
have mercy in their stomachs,” said one of
my last year's sailors, who came to kiss my
hand;—a pleasing fact in natural history.
“Fee wáhed lord!” (Here's a lord!) was Ahmad's
announcement of Lord S——.
I heard of ice at Cairo, and meat at famine

prices; so I will e'en stay here and grill at
Thebes. Marry come up, with your Thebes and
savagery! what if we do wear ragged brown
shirts! ‘tis manners make the man; and we
defy you to show better breeding. We are
now in the full enjoyment of summer weather;
there has been no cold for fully a fortnight,
and I am getting better every day. If the
heat does not overpower me, I feel sure it will
be very healing to my lungs. I sit out on my
glorious balcony, and drink the air from early
morning till noon, when the sun comes upon
it and drives me under cover. The thermometer
has stood at 64° for a fortnight or three
weeks, rising sometimes to 67°; but people in
the boats tell me it is still cold at night on
the river; up here, only a stone's throw from
the Nile, it is warm all night. I fear the loss
of cattle has suspended irrigation to a fearful
extent, and that the harvests of Lower Egypt
of all kinds will be sadly scanty. The disease
has not spread above Minyeh, or very slightly;
but, of course, cattle will rise in price here
also. Already food is getting dearer here;
meat and bread have risen considerably,—I
should say corn, for no baker exists here. I

pay a woman to grind and bake my wheat,
which I buy; and delicious bread it is.
It is impossible to say how exactly like the
early parts of the Bible every act of life is
here; and how totally new it seems when one
reads it on the spot here. Old Jacob's speech
to Pharaoh really made me laugh (don't be
shocked), because it is so exactly like what
a Fellah says to a Pasha, “Few and evil have
been my days,” etc. (Jacob being a most prosperous
man); but it is manners to say all
that. I feel quite kindly now towards Jacob,
whom I used to think ungrateful and discontented.
And when I go to Seedee Omar's farm
does he not say, “Take now fine meal and
bake cakes quickly,” and want to kill a kid?
Fateereh, with plenty of butter, is what the
“three men” who came to Abraham ate; and
the way in which Abraham's chief memlook,
acting as wekeel, manages Isaac's marriage
with Rebecca, is precisely what a man in his
position would now. All the vulgarized associations
with Puritanism, and abominable
little “Scripture tales and pictures,”—peel off
here, and the inimitably truthful representation
of life and character comes out; as, for

example, Joseph's tears, and his love for the
brother born of the same mother, which are
perfectly lifelike. Leviticus and Deuteronomy
are very heathenish, compared to the law of
the Koran, or to the early days of Abraham.
Don't think that Sheykh Yoosuf has “proposed
Islám” to me. He and M. de Rougé
were here last evening, and we had quite an
Arabic soirée. M. de Rougé speaks Arabic admirably,
quite like an Alim; and it was charming
to see Sheykh Yoosuf's pretty look of
grateful pleasure at finding himself treated
like a “gentleman and a scholar,” by two such
eminent Europeans (for by comparison with
Arab hareem I, of course, am a Sheykhah).
It is very interesting to see something of Arabs
who have read, and have the “gentleman”
ideas. Yoosuf is however superstitious; he told
me how some one down the river cured his
cattle with water poured over a “mus-haf” (a
copy of the Koran), and has hinted at writing
out a chapter for me to wear as a “hegáb,”
or amulet, for my health. (Yet he thinks
the Arab doctors of no use at all, who also
give verses of the Koran as charms.) He is
interested in the antiquities, and in M. de

Rougés work; and is quite up to the connection
between ancient Egypt and the books of
Moses. He was anxious to know if M. de
Rougé had found anything about Moosa
(Moses) or Yoosuf (Joseph). He produced a
bit of old Cufic manuscript, and consulted M.
de Rougé as to its meaning,—a pretty little
bit of flattery in an Arab alim to a Frenchman,
to which the latter was not quite insensible,
I saw.
Yoosuf's brother, the Imám, has lost his
wife, to whom he had been married twenty-two
years, and won't hear of taking another.
I was struck with the sympathy he expressed
with the English Sultana, since all the uneducated
people say, Why does she not marry
again? It is curious how refinement brings out
the same feelings under all “dispensations.”
If I go down to Cairo again I will get letters
to some of the Alim there, from Abd-el-Waris,
the Imám here, and I shall see what few Europeans
but Lane have seen. I think things have
altered since his days, and that men of that
class would be less inaccessible now than they
were then; and a woman who is old (Yoosuf
guessed me at sixty) and educated, does not

shock, and does interest them. All the Europeans
here are traders, and don't care to know
educated Arabs; if they see anything above
their servants, it is only Turks or Arab merchants.
Don't fancy I can speak at all decently
yet, but I understood a good deal, and
stammer out a little.
El-Uksur, March 1, 1864.
The glory of the climate now is beyond description,
and I feel better every day. I go
out as early as seven or eight o'clock on my
tiny black donkey, come in to breakfast at
about ten, and go out again at four. The
sun is very hot in the middle of the day, and
the people in boats say it is still cold at
night. In this large house I feel neither heat
nor cold.
An English traveller who brought a letter
to me came in while I was reading with
Sheykh Yoosuf, and persisted in ignoring his
existence in a manner which led me to draw
odious comparisons.
I want to photograph Yoosuf for you; the
feelings and prejudices and ideas of a cultivated
Arab, as I get at them little by little,

are curious beyond compare. It won't do to
generalize from one man, of course, but even
one gives some very new ideas. The most
striking thing is the sweetness and delicacy of
feeling, the horror of hurting any one (this
must be individual, of course; it is too good
to be general). I apologized to him two days
ago for inadvertently answering the “Salám
aleykum,” which he of course said to Omar on
coming in, and which is sacramental to Muslims.
Yoosuf blushed crimson, touched my
hand and kissed his own, and looked quite
unhappy.
Yesterday evening he walked in, and startled
me by a “Salám aleykee,” addressed to me;
he had evidently been thinking it over, —whether
he ought to say it to me, and came to the
conclusion that it was not wrong. “Surely it
is well for all the creatures of God to speak
peace (Salám) to each other,” said he. Now,
no uneducated Muslim would have arrived at
such a conclusion. Omar would pray, work,
lie, do anything for me, —sacrifice money even;
but I doubt whether he could utter “Salám
aleykum” to any but a Muslim. I answered
as I felt, —“Peace, O my brother, and God

bless thee!” It was almost as if a Catholic
priest had felt impelled by charity to offer the
communion to a heretic.
I observed that the story of the Barber was
new to him, and asked if he did not know the
Thousand and One Nights. No, he studied
only things of religion; no light amusements
were proper for an Alim of the religion.
Europeans did not know that, of course, as
our religion was to enjoy ourselves; but he
must not make merry with diversions, or music
or droll stories. (See the mutual ignorance
of all ascetics!) He has a little girl of six or
seven, and teaches her to write and read. No
one else, he believes, thinks of such a thing,
out of Cairo; there many of the daughters
of the Alim learn, —those who desire it.
His wife died two years ago, and six months
ago he married again a wife twelve years old!
(Sheykh Yoosuf is thirty, he tells us; he looks
twenty-two.) What a stepmother, and what a
wife! He can repeat the whole Koran without
book; it takes twelve hours to do it. He
has read the Towrat (the Old Testament), and
the Gospels (el Engeel), of course. “Every
Alim should read them: the words of Seyyidna

Eesa are the true faith: but Christians have
altered and corrupted their meaning. So we
Muslims believe. We are all the children of
God.” (I ask, if Muslims call themselves so,
or only the slaves of God?) “It is all one—
children or slaves. Does not a good man care
for both tenderly alike?” (Pray observe the
oriental feeling here. Slave is a term of affection,
not contempt; and remember the Centurion's
servant (slave), whom he loved.”) As
he acts as clerk to Mustafa, our consular agent,
and wears a shabby brown shirt or gown, and
speaks no English, I dare say he not seldom
encounters great slights from sheer ignorance.
In answer to the invariable questions about
all my family, I once told him that my father
had been a great Alim of the law, and that my
mother had got ready his written book, and put
his lectures in order, that they might be printed.
He was amazed first that I had a mother, as
he told me he thought I was fifty or sixty, and
immensely delighted at the idea. “God has
favoured your family with understanding and
knowledge. I wish I could kiss the sheykhah
your mother's hand. May God favour her!”
M——'s portrait (as usual) he admired fervently,

and said one saw his good qualities in
his face; —a compliment I could have fully returned,
as he sat looking at the picture with
affectionate eyes, and praying sotto voce for
“el ged'a, el gemeel” (the youth, the beautiful),
in the words of the Fat'hah, “Oh, give
him guidance, and let him not stray into the
paths of the rejected!” Altogether something
in Sheykh Yoosuf reminds me of Worsley.*
There is the same Seelenreinheit, with far
less thoughtfulness, and an additional childlike
innocence. I suppose some mediæval
monks may have had the same look, but no
Catholic I have ever seen looks so peaceful or
so unpretending. I see in him that easy familiarity
with religion which characterizes all
people who don't know what doubt means. I
hear him joke with Omar about Ramadán,
and even about Omar's assiduous prayers, and
he is a frequent and hearty laugher. I wonder
whether this gives you any idea of a character
new to you; it is so impossible to describe
manner, which gives so much of the impression
of novelty.
* Philip Stanhope Worsley, Esq., translator of the
Odyssey.—S.A.

209

My conclusion is the heretical one, that to
dream of converting here is absurd, and, I will
add, wrong. All that is wanted is more general
knowledge and education, and the religion
will clear and develope itself; the elements
are identical with those of Christianity,
encumbered, as that has been, with asceticism
and intolerance. The creed is simpler, and
there are no priests. I think the faith has
remained wonderfully rational, considering the
extreme ignorance of those who hold it. I
will add my maid's practical remark, —“The
prayers are a fine thing for a lazy people; they
must wash first, and the prayer is a capital
drill.” You would be amused to hear her,
when Omar does not wake in time to wash,
pray, and eat before daybreak now in Ramadán.
She knocks at his door, and acts as Muezzin,
—“Come, Omar, get up and pray, and have
your dinner.” (The evening meal is “breakfast,”
the morning one “dinner.”) Being a light
sleeper, she hears the Muezzin, which Omar
often does not, and passes on the “Prayer is
better than sleep,” —in a prose version.
Ramadán is a dreadful business; everybody
is cross or lazy—no wonder. The camel-men

quarrelled all day under my window yesterday,
and I asked what it was about: “All
about nothing, it is Ramadán with them,”
said Omar laughing,—“I want to quarrel with
some one myself, it is hot to-day and thirsty
weather.” Moreover, I think it injures the
health of numbers permanently. But of course
it is the thing of most importance in the eyes
of the people; there are many who never pray
at ordinary times, but few fail to keep Ramadán.
It answers to the Scotch Sabbath.
Friday.—My friend Seleem Efendi has just
been here talking about his own affairs and a
good deal of theology; he is an immense talker,
and I just put in “yes,” and “no,” and “very
true,” and learn “manners and customs.”
He tells me he has just bought two black
slave women, mother and daughter, from a
Copt, for about £35. 10s. the two. The mother
is a good cook, and the daughter is “for
his bed,” as his wife does not like to leave
Cairo and her boys at school there. He had
to buy the mother too, as the girl refused to
be sold without her. What would a ‘Southerner’
say to a slave with such a will of her
own? Poor Seleem! how the old body will

bully him if her daughter is lucky enough to
have a child! It does give one a sort of start
to hear a most respectable magistrate tell one
such a domestic arrangement. He added, that
it would not interfere with the “Sitt Kebeereh”
(the great lady), the black girl being
only a slave; and these people never think
they have children enough. Moreover, he said
he could not get on with his small pay without
women to keep house for him, which is
quite true here, and women are not respectable
in a man's house on any other terms.
Seleem was full of his purchase, and told it
over again to Omar, who remarked to me afterwards
that it was “rude” of him to talk to men
so. To me it was quite proper.
Seleem has a high reputation, and is said
“not to eat the people.” He is a hot Muslim,
and held forth much as a very superficial Unitarian
might do; evidently feeling considerable
contempt for the absurdities, as he thinks
them, of the “Copts” (he was too civil to say
“Christians”), but no hatred (and he is known
to show no partiality); only he cannot understand
how people can believe such nonsense.
He is a good specimen of the good, honest,

steady-going, man-of-the-world Muslim,—a
strong contrast to the tender piety of dear
Sheykh Yoosuf, who has all the feelings which
we call Christian charity in the highest degree,
and whose face is like that of “the beloved
disciple,” but no inclination whatever for doctrinal
harangues like worthy Seleem.
There is a very general idea among the Arabs
that Christians hate the Muslims; they attribute
to us the old Crusading spirit. It is only
lately that Omar has let us see him at prayers,
for fear of being ridiculed; but now he is
sure that is not so, I often find him praying in
the room where S——sits at work, which is
a clean, quiet place; and Yoosuf went and
joined him there yesterday evening, and gave
him some religious instruction, quite undisturbed
by S—— and her needlework. I am
continually complimented on not hating the
Muslims. Yoosuf promises me letters to some
Alim, in Cairo, when I go there again, that
I may be shown the Azhar (the great college).
Omar had told him that I refused to
go with a janissary from the Consul, for fear
of giving offence to any very strict Muslims,
which astonished him much. He says his

friends shall dress me in their women's clothes
and take me in. I asked whether as a concealment
of my religion? and he said no, only
there were hundreds of young men, and it
would be more “delicate,”—that they should
not stare and talk about my face.
Seleem told me a very pretty grammatical
quibble about “son” and “prophet” (à propos of
Christ), on a verse in the Gospel depending
on the reduplicative sign $$ (sheddeh) over one
letter. He was just as much put out when
I reminded him that the original was written
in Greek, as some of our amateur theologians
are if you say the Bible was not composed
in English. However, I told him that many
Christians in England, Germany, and America,
did not believe that Seyyidna Eesa is
God, but only the greatest of prophets and
teachers. He at once declared that that was
sufficient; that all such had “received guidance,”
and were not “among the rejected.”
How could they be, since such Christians
only believed the teaching of Eesa, which was
true, and not the falsifications of the priests
and bishops (the bishops always “catch it,”
as schoolboys say)?

214

I was curious to hear whether, on the strength
of this, he would let out any further intolerance
against the Copts; but he said far less,
and far less bitterly, than I have heard certain
Christians say of each other, and débitait the
most usual commonplace, common-sense arguments
on the subject. I fancy it would not
be very palatable to many Unitarians to be
claimed, “mir nichts, dir nichts,” as followers
of El Islám. But if people really wish to convert,
in the sense of improving, they must insist
on what the two religions have in common,
and not on the most striking points of difference.
That door is open, and no other.
March 7.
We have now settled into quite warm-weather
ways; no more going out at midday.
It is now broiling, and I have been watching
eight tall blacks swimming and capering about,
with their skins shining like otter's fur when
wet. They belong to a Gelláb, a slave-dealer's
boat, I see. The beautiful thing is to see men
and boys at work among the green corn. In
the sun their brown skins look like dark clouded
amber,—semi-transparent, so fine are they.

215

I have a friend, a farmer in a neighbouring
village, and am much amused at seeing country
life. It cannot be rougher, as regards material
comforts, in New Zealand or Central
Africa, but there is no barbarism or lack of
refinement in the manners of the people.
The fine sun and clear air are delicious and
reviving, and I mount my donkey early and
late, with little Ahmad trotting beside me. In
the evening comes my dear Sheykh Yoosuf,
and I blunder through an hour's dictation and
reading of the story of the Barber's fifth brother.
I presume that Yoosuf likes me, for I am
constantly greeted with immense cordiality by
graceful men in green turbans belonging, like
him, to the holy family of Sheykh Abu-l-Hajjáj.
They inquire tenderly after my health, and
pray for me, and hope I am going to stay among
them.
I received an ‘Illustrated News,’ with a print
of a ridiculous Rebekah at the well, from a
picture by Hilton. With regard to Eastern
subjects, two courses are open; to paint like
mediaeval painters, white people in European
clothes, or to come and see. Mawkish Misses,
in fancy dress, are not “benát el-Arab,” like

Rebekah; nor would a respectable man go
on his knees like an old fool before the girl
he was asking in marriage for the son of his
master.
Of all comical things, though, Victor Hugo's
‘Orientales’ is the funniest. Elephants at
Smyrna! Why not at Paris and London?
quelle couleur locale! Sheykh Yoosuf had a
good laugh over Hilton's Rebekah, and the
camels, more like pigs, as to their heads. He
said we must have strange ideas of the books
of Towrát (the Pentateuch) in Europe.
I rejoice to say that next Wednesday is Bai
ram, and to-morrow Ramadán “dies.” Omar
is very thin and yellow and head-achy, and
every one cross. How I wish I were going,
instead of my letter, to see you all; but it is
evident that this heat is the thing that does
me good, if anything will.

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217

LETTER XXXVII.

El-Uksur,

March 10, 1864.

YESTERDAY was Bairam, and on Tuesday evening
everybody who possessed a gun or a pistol
banged away, every drum and darabukkeh
was thumped, and all the children hallooed
Ramadán mat! Ramadán mat! “Ramadán is
dead,” about the streets. At daybreak Omar
went to the early prayer, a special ceremony
of the day; there were crowds of people;
so, as it was useless to pray and preach in
the mosque, Sheykh Yoosuf went out upon
a hillock in the burying-ground, where they
all prayed and he preached. Omar reported
the sermon to me as follows (it is all extempore):—
First Yoosuf pointed to the graves,—
“Where are all those people?” and to the ancient

temples, “Where are those who built
them? Do not strangers from a far country
take away their very corpses to wonder at?
What did their splendour avail them? etc. etc.
What, then, O Muslims, will avail that you
may be happy when that comes which will
come for all? Truly God is just, and will defraud
no man, and he will reward you if you
do what is right; and that is, to wrong no
man, neither in his person, nor in his family,
nor in his possessions. Cease then to cheat one
another, O men! and to be greedy; and do not
think that you can make amends by afterwards
giving alms or praying or fasting, or giving
gifts to the servants of the mosques. Benefits
come from God; it is enough for you if you do
no injury to any man, and, above all, to any
woman or little one!
Of course it was much longer, but this was the
substance, Omar tells me, and pretty sound morality
too methinks, such as might be preached
with advantage even in Exeter Hall. There
is no predestination in Islam, and every man
will be judged upon his actions. “Even unbelievers
God will not defraud,” says the
Koran. Of course a belief in meritorious

works leads to the same sort of superstition as
among Catholics;—the endeavour to “make
one's soul,” by alms, fastings, endowments, etc.;
therefore Yoosuf's stress upon doing no evil
seems to me very remarkable, and really profound.
After the sermon, all the company
assembled rushed on him to kiss his head and
his hands and his feet, and mobbed him so
fearfully that he had to lay about him with
the wooden sword which is carried by the officiating
Alim. Yoosuf came to wish me the
customary good wishes of the season soon
after, and looked very hot and tumbled, and
laughed heartily about the awful kissing he
had undergone. All the men embrace on
meeting at the festival of Bairam. The kitchen
is full of cakes, ring-shaped, which all
my friends have sent me, just such as we see
offered to the gods (Bairar) in the temples and
tombs, and such as my Malay friends at Capetown
gave me at “Labunan.”
I went to call on the Maohn in the evening,
and found a number of people all dressed in
their best. Half were Copts,—among them
a very pleasing young priest, who carried on
a religious discussion with Seleem Efendi,—

strange to say, with perfect good humour on
both sides.
A Copt came up with his farm labourer, who
had been beaten and the field robbed. The
Copt stated the case in ten words, and the
Maohn sent off a kawás with him to apprehend
the accused persons, who were to be tried
at sunrise and beaten, if found guilty, and
forced to make good the damage.
General —— called yesterday, a fine old blue-eyed
soldier; he found a group of Fellaheen
sitting with me, enjoying coffee and pipes
hugely. They all started up in dismay at the
entrance of such a grand-looking Englishman,
and got off the carpet, and they were much
gratified at our pressing them not to move or
disturb themselves. So we told them that in
our country the business of a farmer was looked
upon as very respectable, and that the General
would ask his farmers to sit and drink
wine with him. “Máshá-alláh, teiyib keteer!”
(it is the will of God, and most excellent!) said
Omar, my Fellah friend, and kissed his hand
to the General, quite affectionately.
We English are certainly liked here. Seleem
said yesterday evening, “that he had often had

to do business with them, and found them always
‘dughree’ (straight); men of one word
and of no circumlocutions, and unlike all the
other Europeans.” The fact is, that few but
decent English come here, I fancy; our scamps
go to the colonies, whereas Egypt is the sink
for all the iniquity of the south of Europe.
A worthy Copt here, one Todoros, took “a
piece of paper” for £20, in payment for antiquities
sold to an Englishman, and after the
Englishman was gone, brought it to me to ask
what sort of paper it was, and how he could get
it changed; or was he perhaps to keep it till
the gentleman sent him the money? It was a
circular note, which I had difficulty in explaining;
but I offered to send it to Cairo to the
bankers, and get it cashed; as to when he would
get the money, I could not say, as they must
wait for an opportunity to send up gold. I told
him to put his name on the back of the note,
and Todoros thought I wanted it as a receipt
for the money, which was yet to come, and was
going cheerfully to write me a receipt for the
£20 he was entrusting to me. Now a Copt is
not at all green where his pocket is concerned;
but they will take anything from the English.

222

Mr. Close told me, that when his boat sank
in the cataract, and he remained half dressed
on the rock without a farthing, four men came
and offered to lend him anything. While I
was in England last year, an Englishman, to
whom Omar acted as laquais de place, went
away, owing him seven pounds for things
bought for him. Omar had money enough to
pay all the tradespeople, and kept it secret,
for fear any of the other Europeans should say
“shame for the English;” he did not even tell
his own family. Luckily, the Englishman sent
the money by the next mail from Malta, and
the sheykh of the dragomans proclaimed it,
and so Omar got it; but he never would have
mentioned it otherwise.
This concealing of evil is considered very
meritorious, and where women are considered,
positively a religious duty. Le scandale est ce
qui fait l'offense
, is very much the notion in
Egypt, and I believe that very forgiving husbands
are commoner here than elsewhere.
The whole idea is founded on the verse in the
Koran, incessantly quoted, “The woman is
made for the man, but the man is made for
the woman.” Ergo, the obligations to chastity

are equal; and, as the men find it difficult, they
argue that the women do the same. I have
never heard a woman's misconduct spoken of
without a hundred excuses: perhaps her husband
had slave-girls; perhaps he was old or
sick, or she did not like him, or she could not
help it;—violent love comes “by the visitation
of God,” as our juries say. A poor young
fellow is now in the madhouse of Cairo, owing
to the beauty and sweet tongue of an English
lady, whose servant he was. “How could he
help it? God sent the calamity.”
If a dancing-girl repents, the most respectable
man may and does marry her, and no one
blames or laughs at him. I believe all this
leads to a good deal of irregularity, but certainly
the feeling is amiable. It is impossible
to conceive how startling it is to a Christian,
to hear the rules of morality applied with perfect,
impartiality to both sexes, and to hear
Arabs who know our manners, say that Europeans
are “hard upon their women,” and do
not fear God and conceal their offences. I
asked Omar, who is very correct in his notions,
whether, if he saw his brother's wife do
anything wrong, he would tell her husband.

(N.B., he can't endure her.) “Certainly not,”
he said, “I must cover her with my cloak.”
Of course any unchastity is wrong and “harám,”
but equally so in men and women. Seleem
Efendi talked in this strain, and seemed to incline
to greater indulgence towards women, on
the score of their ignorance and weakness.
Remember, I only speak of Arabs; I believe
the Turkish ideas are different, as is their
whole hareem system, and Egyptian manners
are not the rule for all Muslims.
Saturday, March 12, 1864.
I dined last night with Mustafa, who again
had the dancing-girls for some Englishmen to
see. Seleem Efendi got the doctor, who was
of the party, to prescribe for him all about his
ailments, as coolly as possible. He as usual
sat by me on the divan, and during the pause
in the dancing, called “El Maghribeeyeh,” the
best dancer, to come and talk to us. She
kissed my hand, sat on her heels before us,
and at once laid aside the professional gaillardise
of manner, and talked very nicely in very
good Arabic, and with perfect propriety, more
like a man than a woman; she seemed very

intelligent. What a thing we should think it,
for a worshipful magistrate to call up a girl of
that character to talk to a lady!
Yesterday, we had a strange and unpleasant
day's business. The evening before, I had my
pocket picked in El-Karnak by two men who
hung about me, one to sell a bird, the other
one of the regular “loafers” who hang about
the ruins to beg, and sell water or curiosities,
and who are all a lazy bad lot, of course. I
went to Seleem, who wrote at once to the
Sheykh-el-Beled of El-Karnak, to say that we
should go over next morning at eight o'clock
(two, Arab time), to investigate the affair, and
to desire him to apprehend the men.
Next morning Seleem fetched me, and Mustafa
came to represent English interests, and
as we rode out of El-Uksur, the Sheykh-el-Abab'deh
joined us with some of his tribe, with
their long guns or lances; he was a volunteer,
furious at the idea of a lady and a stranger
being robbed. It is the first time it has happened
here, they say, and the desire to beat
was so strong, that I went to act as counsel
for the prisoners. Every one was peculiarly
savage that it should have happened to me, a

person well known to be so friendly to “El-Muslimeen.”
When we arrived, we went into a square
inclosure, with a sort of cloister on one side,
spread with carpets, where we sat, and the
wretched fellows were brought in chains; to
my horror, I found they had been beaten already.
I remonstrated,—“What if you have
beaten the wrong men?” “Máleysh, we will
beat the whole village until your purse is
found.” I said to Mustafa, “This won't do;
you must stop this.” So Mustafa ordained,
with the concurrence of the Maohn, that the
Sheykh-el-Beled and the “Gefieh,” the keeper
of the ruins, should pay me the value of the
purse. As the people of El-Karnak are very
troublesome in begging and worrying, I thought
this would be a good lesson to the said sheykh
to keep better order, and I consented to receive
the money, promising to return it and to give
a napoleon over, if the purse comes back with
its contents (3 1/2 napoleons). The Sheykh-el-Abab'deh
harangued the people on their ill
behaviour to “Hareemát,” and called them
“Harámee” (rascals), and was very high and
mighty to the Sheykh-el-Beled.

227

Hereupon, I went away on a visit to a
Turkish lady in the village, leaving Mustafa
to settle. After I was gone, they beat eight
or ten of the boys who had mobbed me and
begged with the two men; Mustafa, who does
not like the stick, stayed to see that they were
not hurt, and so far it will be a good lesson
to them. He also had the two men sent over
to the prison here, for fear the Sheykh-el-Beled
should beat them again; and will keep them
here for a time.
So far so good; but my fear now is, that innocent
people will be squeezed to make up the
money, if the men do not give up the purse. I
have told Sheykh Yoosuf to keep watch how
things go, and if the men persist in the theft,
and don't return the purse, I shall give the
money to those whom the Sheykh-el-Beled will
assuredly squeeze, or else to the mosque of El-Karnak.
I cannot pocket it, though I thought
it quite right to exact the fine as a warning to
the El-Karnak mauvais sujets.
As we went home, the Sheykh-el-Abab'deh
(such a fine fellow he looks!) came up and rode
beside me and said, “I know you are a person
of kindness,—do not tell this story in this country;

if Efendeena (Ismael Pasha) comes to
hear it, he may ‘take a broom and sweep away
the village.”’ I exclaimed in horror, and
Mustafa joined in at once in the request, and
said, “The Sheykh-el-Arab says quite true; it
might cost many lives.” I shall not mention
it to any travellers.
The whole thing distressed me horribly. If
I had not been there, they would have been
beaten right and left, and if I had shown any
desire to have any one punished, evidently
they would have half killed the two men.
Mustafa behaved extremely well; he showed
sense, decision, and more humanity than I at
all expected of him. Pray do not forget my
request about him. It is he who has all the
trouble and work of the Nile boats, and he is
boundlessly kind and useful to the English,
and a real protection against cheating. Most
of the English to whom I have spoken are of
the same opinion.

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229

LETTER XXXVIII.

El-Uksur,

March 22, 1864.

THE whole of the European element has now
departed from Thebes, save one lingering boat
on the opposite shore, belonging to two young
Englishmen,—the same who lost their photographs
and all their goods by the sinking of
their boat in the cataract last year. They are
an excellent sample of our countrymen, kind,
well-bred, and straightforward.
I am glad my letters amuse you. Sometimes
I think they must breathe the unutterable
dulness of Eastern life,—not that it is dull
to me, a curious spectator, but how the men
with nothing on earth to do can endure it is a
wonder. I went yesterday evening to call on a
Turk at El-Karnak; he is a gentlemanlike man,
the son of a former mudeer who was murdered,

—I believe, for his cruelty and extortion. He
has a thousand feddáns (acres, or a little more)
of land, and lives in a mud house, larger, but
no better, than that of a Fellah, and with two
wives, and the brother of one of them; he
leaves the farm to his Fellaheen altogether, I
fancy. There was one book, a Turkish one; I
could not read the title-page, and he did not
tell me what it was. In short, there were no
means of killing time but the nargheeleh; no
horse, no gun,—nothing; and yet they don't
seemed bored. The two women are always
clamorous for my visits, and very noisy and
schoolgirlish, but apparently excellent friends,
and very good-natured. The gentleman gave
me a kuffeeyeh (thick head-kerchief for the
sun), so I took the ladies a bit of silk I happened
to have. You never heard anything like his
raptures over M——'s portrait. “Máshá-alláh!
it is the will of God! and, by God, he is like
a rose.” But I can't take to the Turks; I always
feel that they secretly dislike and think
ill of us European women, though they profess
huge admiration and pay personal compliments,
which an Arab very seldom attempts.
I heard Seleem Efendi and Omar discussing

English ladies one day lately, while I was inside
the curtain with Seleem's slave-girl, and
they did not know I heard them. Omar described
J——, and was of opinion that a man
who was married to her could want nothing
more. “By my soul, she rides like a Bedawee,
she shoots with the gun and pistol, rows
the boat; she knows many languages and what
is in their books; works with the needle like
an Efreet, and to see her hands run over the
teeth of the music-box (keys of the piano)
amazes the mind, while her singing gladdens
the soul. How, then, should her husband ever
desire the coffee-shop? Walláhee! she can
always amuse him at home. And as to my lady,
the thing is not that she does not know. When
I feel my stomach tightened, I go to the divan
and say to her, ‘Do you want anything—
a pipe or sherbet or so-and-so?’ and I talk till
she lays down her book and talks to me, and I
question her and amuse my mind; and, by
God! if I were a rich man and could marry one
English hareem like these, I would stand before
her and serve her like her memlook. You
see I am only this lady's servant, and I have
not once sat in the coffee-shop, because of the

sweetness of her tongue. Is it not true, therefore,
that the man who can marry such hareem
is rich more than with money?”
Seleem seemed disposed to think a little
more of good looks, though he quite agreed
with all Omar's enthusiasm, and asked if J——
were beautiful. Omar answered, with decorous
vagueness, that she was “a moon;” but
declined mentioning her hair, eyes, etc. (It is
a liberty to describe a woman minutely.) I
nearly laughed out at hearing Omar relate his
manoeuvres to make me “amuse his mind.” It
seems I am in no danger of being discharged
for being dull. On the other hand, frenchified
Turks have the greatest detestation of
femmes d'esprit.
The weather has set in so hot that I have
shifted my quarters out of my fine room to the
south-west, into a room with only three sides,
looking over a lovely green view to the north-east,
and with a huge sort of solid verandah,
as large as the room itself, on the open side;
thus I live in the open air altogether. The
bats and swallows are quite sociable; I hope
the serpents and scorpions will be more reserved.
“El-Khamáseen” (the fifty days) has begun,

and the wind is enough to mix up heaven
and earth, but it is not distressing, like the
Cape south-easter, and though hot, not choking
like the khamáseen in Cairo and Alexandria.
Mohammad brought me some of the
new wheat just now. Think of harvest in
March and April! These winds are as good
for the crops here as a “nice steady rain” is
in England. It is not necessary to water as
much when the wind blows strong.
As I rode through the green fields along the
dyke, a little boy sang, as he turned round on
the musically-creaking Sákiyeh (the water-wheel
turned by an ox), the one eternal Sákiyeh
tune. The words are ad libitum, and
my little friend chanted:—“Turn, O Sákiyeh,
to the right, and turn to the left; who will
take care of me if my father dies? Turn, O
Sákiyeh, etc. Pour water for the figs and the
grapes, and for the water-melons. Turn,” etc.
etc. Nothing is so pathetic as that Sákiyeh
song.
I passed the house of the Sheykh-el-Abab'deh,
who called out to me to take coffee. The
moon rose splendid, and the scene was lovely:
the handsome black-brown sheykh in dark

robes and white turban, Omar in a graceful
white gown and red turban, the wild Abab'deh
with their bare heads and long black ringlets,
clad in all manner of dingy white rags, and
bearing every kind of uncouth weapon in
every kind of wild and graceful attitude, and
a few little brown children quite naked, and
shaped like Cupids. And there we sat and
looked so romantic, and talked quite like ladies
and gentlemen about the merits of Sákneh and
Almás, the two great rival women singers of
Cairo. I think the sheykh wished to display
his experience of fashionable life.
The Copts are now fasting, and cross; they
fast fifty-five days for Lent (old style, no Coptic
style); no meat, fish, eggs, or milk, no exception
of Sundays, no food till after twelve
at noon, and no intercourse with the hareem.
The only comfort is plenty of arakee; and
what a Copt can carry discreetly is an unknown
quantity; one seldom sees them drunk,
but they imbibe awful quantities. They always
offer me wine and arakee, and can't think why
I don't drink it; I believe they suspect my
Christianity, in consequence of my preference
for Nile water. As to that though, they scorn,

all heretics (i. e. all Christians but themselves
and the Abyssinians) more than they do the
Muslims, and dislike them more. The procession
of the Holy Ghost question divides us
with the Gulf of Jehannum.
The gardener of this house is a Copt, such
a nice fellow! and he and Omar chaff one another
about religion with the utmost good
humour; indeed they seldom are touchy with
the Muslims. There is a pretty little man
called Meekaeel, a Copt, wakeel to M. M——;
I wish I could draw him, to show you a perfect
specimen of the ancient Egyptian race; his
blood must be quite unmixed. He came here
yesterday to speak to Alee Bey, the mudeer of
Kiné, who was visiting me (a splendid, handsome
Turk he is); so little Meekaeel crept in
to mention his little business under my protection,
and a few more followed, till Alee Bey
got tired of holding a Durbar in my divan,
and went away to his boat. You see the
people think the kurbáj is not quite so handy
in the presence of an English spectator.
The other day Mustafa Agha got Alee Bey
to do a little job for him;—to let the people
in the Gezeereh (the island), which is Mustafa's

property, work at a canal there, instead
of at the canal higher up, for the Pasha. Very
well; but down comes the Názir (the mudeer's
sub), and kurbájes the whole Gezeereh;
—not Mustafa, of course, but the poor Fellahs
who were doing his corvée instead of the Pasha's,
by the mudeer's order. I went to the
Gezeereh, and thought that the first-born in
every house were killed as of yore, by the crying
and wailing; when up came two fellows,
and showed me their bloody feet, which their
wives were crying over, as if for their death.
Wednesday.—Last night I bored Sheykh
Yoosuf with Antara and Aboo-Zeyd, maintaining
the greater valour of Antara, who slew
ten thousand men for the love of Ibla; (you
know Antar.) Yoosuf looks down on such
profanities, and replied, “What are the battles
of Antara and Aboo-Zeyd, compared with
the combats of our Lord Moses with Og, and
other infidels of might; and what is the love
of Antara for Ibla, compared to that of our
Lord Solomon for Balkees (Queen of Sheba),
or their beauty and attractiveness to that of
our Lord Joseph?” And then he related the
combat of Seyyidna Moosa with Og, and I

thought, “Hear, O ye Puritans!” and learn
how religion and romance are one, to those
whose manners and ideas are the manners and
ideas of the Bible, and how Moses was not
at all a gloomy fanatic, but a gallant warrior.
There is a Homeric character in the religion
here: the “Nebee,” the Prophet, is a hero like
Achilles, and like him, directed by God,—Allah
instead of Athene. He fights, prays, teaches,
makes love, and is truly a man, not an abstraction;
and as to wonderful events, instead of telling
one to shut one's eyes and gulp them down,
they believe them and delight in them, and
tell them to amuse people. Such a piece of
deep-disguised scepticism as credo quia impossibile
would find no favour here; “What is
impossible to God?” settles everything. In
short, Mohammad has somehow left the stamp
of romance on the religion, or else it is in the
blood of the people, though the Koran is prosy
and “common-sensical,” compared to the Old
Testament. I used to think Arabs intensely
prosaic, till I could understand a little of their
language; but now I can trace the genealogy
of Don Quixote straight up to some Sheykh-el-Arab.

238

A fine handsome woman with a lovely baby
came to see me the other day. I played with
the baby, and gave it a cotton handkerchief for
its head. The woman came again yesterday,
to bring me a little milk and some salad as a
present, and to tell me my fortune with date-stones.
I laughed, so she contented herself
with telling Omar about his family, which he
believed implicitly. She is a clever woman
evidently, and a great Sibyl here; no doubt,
she has faith in her own predictions. Superstition
is wonderfully infectious here, especially
that of the evil eye; which, indeed, is
shared by many Europeans, and even by some
English. The fact is, that the Arabs are so
impressionable and so cowardly about inspiring
any illwill, that if a man looks askance
at them it is enough to make them ill; and
as calamities are by no means unfrequent,
there is always some mishap ready to be laid
to the charge of somebody's “eye,” A part
of the boasting about property, etc., is politeness,
—so that one may not be supposed to be
envious of one's neighbour's nice things. My
Sakka (water-carrier) admired my bracelets
yesterday as he was watering the verandah

floor, and instantly told me of all the gold
necklaces and earrings he had bought for his
wife and daughters,—that I might not be uneasy
and fear his envious eye. He is such a
good fellow! For two shillings a month, he
brings up eight or ten huge skins of water
from the river a day, and never begs or complains,
is always merry and civil; I shall enlarge
his baksheesh.
A number of camels sleep in the yard under
my verandah; they are pretty and smell nice,?
but they growl and swear at night abominably.
I wish I could draw you an Egyptian
farmyard,—men, women, and cattle. But
what no one can draw is the amber light,—
so brilliant and so soft; not like the Cape sunshine
at all, but equally beautiful,—hotter
and less dazzling. There is no glare in Egypt
as in the south of France, and I suppose, in
Italy.
Thursday.—I went yesterday afternoon to
the island again, to see the crops and farmer
Omar's house and Mustafa's village; of course
we had to eat, and did not come home till the
moon had long risen. Mustafa's brother, Abd-er-Rahmán,
walked about with us,—a noble-looking

man, tall, spare, dignified, and active;
grey-bearded and hard-featured, but as
lithe and bright-eyed as a boy; scorning any
conveyance but his own feet, and quite dry,
while we ran down with perspiration. He was
like Boaz, ‘the wealthy gentleman-peasant; nothing
except the Biblical characters give any
idea of the rich Fellah. We sat and drank
new milk in a “lodge in a garden of cucumbers”
(the lodge is a neat hut of palm-branches),
and saw the moon rise over the
mountains and light up everything like a
softer sun. Here you see all colours as well
by moonlight as by day; hence it does not
look as brilliant as the Cape moon, or even
as I have seen it in Paris, where it throws
sharp black shadows and white light. The
night here is a tender, subdued, dreamy sort
of enchanted-looking day. Ya Leyl! ya Leyl!
ya Leyl, etc.
My Turkish acquaintance from El-Karnak
has just been here, and he boasted of his house
at Damascus, and invited me to go with him
after the harvest here; also of his beautiful wife
in Syria, and then begged me not to mention
her to his wives here. It is very hot now; what

will it be in June? It is now 86° in my shady
room at twelve o'clock, noon; it will be hotter
at two or three. But the mornings and evenings
are delicious. I am shedding my clothes
by degrees,—stockings are unbearable,—I feel
much stronger, too; the horrible feeling of exhaustion
has left me: I suppose I must have
salamander blood in my body to be made lively
by such heat.
Saturday.—This will go by Mr. B— and
Mr. C——, the last winter swallows. We went
together yesterday afternoon to the Tombs of
the Kings on the opposite bank; the mountains
were red-hot, and the sun went down into
Amenti all on fire. We met Herr Dümmichen,
the German who is living in the Temple of
Ed-Deyr-el-Bahree, translating inscriptions,
and went down Belzoni's tomb. Herr Dümmichen
translated a great many things for us
which were very curious, and I think I was
more struck with the beauty of the drawing
of the figures than last year. The face of the
goddess of the western shore, Amenti,—Athor
or Hecate,—is ravishing, as she welcomes the
king to her regions; Death was never painted
so lovely. The road is a long and most wild

one, truly through the valley of the shadow of
death; not an insect nor a bird.
Our moonlight ride home was beyond belief
beautiful. The Arabs who followed us were
extremely amused at hearing me interpret between
German and English, and at my speaking
Arabic. One of them had droll theories
about “Amellica”—as they always pronounce
it;—e. g. that the Americans are the Fellaheen
of the English; “they talk so loud.” “Was
the king very powerful, that the country was
called El Melekeh” (the queens)? I said, “No,
all are kings there; you would be a king like
the rest.” My friend disapproved of that utterly;
“If all are kings, they must all be taking
away every man the other's money;”—a delightful idea of the kingly vocation.
I wish I could send you my little Ahmad,
just of R——'s size, who “takes care of the
Sitt” when riding or walking. He is delicious,
so wise and steady, like a good little terrier.
When we landed on the opposite shore, I told
him to go back in the ferry-boat which had
brought over my donkey; a quarter of an hour
after I saw him by my side. The guide asked
why he had not gone as I told him. “Who

would take care of the lady?” said he. Of
course he got tired, and on the way home, seeing
him lagging, I told him to jump up behind
me en croupe, after the fellah fashion. I
thought the Arabs would never have done
laughing, and saying “Wallah” and “Másháalláh.”
Sheykh Yoosuf talked about the excavations;
he is shocked at the way in which the
mummies are kicked about; he said one boy
told him, as an excuse, that they were not
Muslims. Yoosuf rebuked him severely, and
told him it was “harám” (accursed) to do so
to any of the children of Adam.
The harvest is about to begin here, and the
crops are splendid this year; Old Nile pays
his damages. I went to Mustafa Agha's farm
two nights ago to drink new milk, and saw the
preparations for harvest,—baking bread, and
selecting a young bull to be killed for the
reapers,—all just like the Bible. I reckon it
will be Easter here in a fortnight. All eastern
Christendom adheres to the old style; the
Copts, however, have a reckoning of their own
—probably that of ancient Egypt.
It is not hot to-day; only 84° in a cool room.

The dust is horrid; with the high wind everything
is gritty, and it obscures the sun; but
the wind has no evil quality in it.
I am desired to eat a raw onion every day
during the Khamáseen, for health and prosperity.
This too must be a remnant of ancient
Egypt.

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245

LETTER XXXIX.

El-Uksur,

April 6, 1864.

I INTENDED to write by some boats now going
down;—the very last, with a party of Poles.
Hekekian Bey much advises me to stay here
the summer, and get my disease “evaporated.”
Since I wrote last the great heat has abated,
and we now have 76° to 80° with strong north
breezes up the river,—glorious weather! neither
hot nor chilly at any time.
The evening before last, I went out to the
threshing-floor to see the stately oxen treading
out the corn, and supped there with Abd-er-Rahmán
on roasted corn, sour cream, and
eggs, and saw the reapers take their wages,—
each a bundle of wheat, according to the work
he had done; a most lovely sight! The graceful
half-naked brown figures, loaded with

sheaves; some having earned so much that
their mothers or wives had to help them to
carry it; and little fawn-like stark-naked boys
trudging off so proud of their small bundles of
wheat or of hummuz (a sort of vetch, much
eaten, both green and roasted). The Sakka,
who has brought water for the men, gets a
handful from each, and drives home his donkey
with empty water-skins and a heavy load of
wheat; and the barber, who has shaved all
these brown heads on credit for this year past,
gets his pay, and every one is cheerful and
happy in their gentle, quiet way: here there
is no beer to make men sweaty, and noisy, and
vulgar. The harvest is the most exquisite pastoral
you can conceive: the men work seven
hours in the day (i. e. eight, with half-hours
to rest and eat), and seven more during the
night they go home at sunset to dinner, and
to sleep a bit, and then to work again,—
“these lazy Arabs!” The man who drives the
oxen on the threshing-floor gets a measure and
a half for his day and night's work (of threshed
corn, I mean). As soon as the wheat, barley,
addas (lentils), and hummuz are cut, we shall
sow durah of two kinds—common maize and

Egyptian—and plant sugar-cane, and, later,
cotton. The people work very hard, but they
eat well; and being paid in corn, they get the
advantage of the high price of corn this year.
In Lower Egypt there is really a famine, I fear.
I told you how my purse had been stolen,
and the proceedings thereanent. Well! Mustafa
asked me several times what I wished to be
done with the thief, who has spent twenty-one
days here in irons. With my absurd English
ideas of justice, I refused to interfere at all;
and Omar and I had quite a tiff, because he
wished me to say, “Oh! poor man, let him
go; I leave the affair to God.” I thought
Omar absurd;—it was I who was wrong. The
authorities concluded that it would oblige me
very much if the poor devil were punished
with “a rigour beyond the law;” and had not
Sheykh Yoosuf come and explained to me the
nature of the proceedings, the man would
have been sent up to the mines in Feyzoghloo
for life, out of civility to me. There
was no alternative between my forgiving him
“for the love of God,” or sending him to certain
death by a climate insupportable to these
people. Mustafa and Co. tried hard to prevent

Sheykh Yoosuf from -speaking to me, for fear
I should be angry and complain at Cairo, if
my vengeance were not wreaked on the thief;
but he said he knew me better, and brought
the procés-verbal to show me. Fancy my dismay.
I went to Seleem Efendi and to the
Kádee with Sheykh Yoosuf, and begged the
man might be let go and not sent to Kiné at
all. Having settled this, I said that I had
thought it right that the people of El-Karnak
should pay the money I had lost, as a fine for
their bad conduct to strangers, but that I did
not require it for the sake of the money, which
I would accordingly give to the poor of El-Uksur
in the mosque and in the church (great
applause from the crowd). I asked how many
were Muslim and how many Nasránee, in order
to divide the three napoleons and a half according
to the numbers. Sheykh Yoosuf awarded
one napoleon to the church, two to the mosque,
and the remaining half to the water-drinking
place, the Sebeel, which was also applauded.
I then said, “Shall we send the money for the
Nasránee to the Bishop?” but a respectable
elderly Copt said, “Máleysh, máleysh (never
mind), better' give it all to Sheykh Yoosuf;

he will send the bread to the church.” Then
the Kádee made me a fine speech, and said I
had behaved like a great Emeereh and one
that feared God; and Sheykh Yoosuf said he
knew the English had mercy in their stomachs,
and that I especially had Muslim feelings (as
we say, Christian charity).
Did you ever hear of such a state of administration of justice? Of course, sympathy
here, as in Ireland, is mostly with the “poor
man” in prison,—“in trouble,” as we say. I
find that accordingly a vast number of disputes
are settled by private arbitration, and
Yoosuf is constantly sent for to decide between
contending parties, who abide by his decision
rather than go to law; or else, five or six respectable
men are called upon to form a sort
of amateur jury, and to “settle the matter.”
In criminal cases, if the prosecutor is powerful,
he has it all his own way; if the prisoner
can bribe high, he is apt to get off. All the
appealing to my compassion was quite en régle.
Another trait of Egypt;—the other day we
found all our water-jars empty, and our house
unsprinkled; on inquiry, it turned out that the
Sakkas had all run away, carrying with them

their families and goods, and were gone no
one knew whither, in consequence of “some
persons having authority,” (one, a Turkish kawas),
having forced them to fetch water for
building purposes at so low a price that they
could not bear it. My poor Sakka is gone
without a whole month's pay,—two shillings,
—the highest pay by far given in El-Uksur.
I am interested in another story. I hear
that a plucky woman here has been to Kiné
and threatened the Mudeer that she will go to
Cairo, and complain to Efendeena himself of
the unfair drafting for soldiers;—her only son
is taken, while others have bribed off. She will
walk in this heat all the way, unless she succeeds
in frightening the Mudeer, which, as she
is of the more spirited sex in this country, she
may possibly do. You see these Saeedees are
a bit less patient than the Lower Egyptians:
the Sakkas can strike, and a woman can face
a Mudeer.
Provisions get dearer and scarcer here daily.
Food here is now about at London prices;
this does not distress the Fellaheen, as they sell
the corn dear; but in the large towns it must
be dreadful.

251

You would be amused at the bazaar (Es-Sook)
here: there is a barber, and on Tuesdays
some beads, calico, and tobacco are sold
for the market-people. The only artisan is a
jeweller. We spin and weave our own brown
woollen garments, and have no other wants;
but gold necklaces and nose- and earrings are
indispensable: it is the safest way of hoarding,
and happily combines saving with ostentation.
Can you imagine a house without beds, chairs,
tables, cups, glasses, knives,—in short, with nothing
but an oven, a few pipkins and water-jars,
and a couple of wooden spoons, and some
mats to sleep upon? Yet people are happy
and quite civilized who live so. An Arab cook,
with his fingers and one cooking-pot, will serve
you an excellent dinner quite miraculously.
The simplification of life possible in such a
climate is not conceivable, unless one has seen
it.
The Turkish ladies whom I visit at El-Karnak
have very little more. They are very fond of
me, and always want me to stay, and sleep in
my clothes on a mat, on a mud-divan,—poor
spoiled European that I am; but they are full
of pity and wonder at the absence of my

“master.” I made a sad slip of the tongue,
and said my “husband” (Góz), before Abd-er-Rafeea,
the master of the house. The ladies
laughed and blushed tremendously, and I felt
very awkward; but they turned the tables on
me in a few minutes by some questions they
asked quite coolly. They have lived all their
lives within less than a quarter of a mile of
the ruins of El-Karnak, and never have seen
them, or wished to see them.
The dragoman of the Polish boats has just
come to desire that my letters be ready in the
morning, as his people do not stay here; so I
must say farewell. I hardly know what I shall
have to do. If the heat does not turn out
overpowering, I shall stay here; if I cannot
bear it, I must go down, Mustafa Agha, I
believe, goes to England; I wish I could send
you Sheykh Yoosuf as a specimen of a genuine
Arab gentleman. Mustafa is somewhat
Europeanized.
I asked Omar if he could bear a summer
here—so dull for a young man fond of a little
coffee-shop and gossip; for that if he could
not, he might go down for a time and join me
again, as I could manage with some man here.

253

He absolutely cried, and kissed my hands, and
declared he was never so happy as with me;
and he could not rest if he thought I had not
all that I wanted. “I am your memlook, not
your servant; your memlook.” I really do believe
that these people sometimes love their
English masters better than their own people.
Omar certainly loves Cyril Graham like a very
dear relation, and he certainly has shown the
greatest fondness for me on all occasions.
Suleyman, the Coptic gardener, has given
me a little old Coptic cross of silver, rude but
pretty, as a charm; I will send it to R——
when I have a good chance.
Sheykh Yoosuf is to write my name in Arabic.
which I shall get engraved on a signet
at Cairo. It is the only valid signature here.

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254

LETTER XL.

April 7, 1864.

HARVESTING is going on, and never did I see,
in any dream, a sight so lovely as the whole
process;—the brown reapers, the pretty little
naked boys helping and hanging on the stately
bulls at the threshing floor. An acquaintance
of mine, one Abd-er-Rahmán, is Boaz; and as
I sat with him on the threshing-floor, I felt
quite puzzled as to whether I were really alive,
or only existing in imagination in the Book
of Ruth. It is such a keyf one enjoys under
palm-trees with such a scene. The harvest is
magnificent here; I never saw such heavy
crops. There is no cattle disease, but a good
deal of sickness among the people; I have to
practise very extensively, and often feel very
anxious, as I cannot refuse to go to the poor

souls and give them medicine, though with
sore misgivings all the while.
The more I see of my teacher, Sheykh
Yoosuf, the more pious, amiable, and good he
appears to me; he is intensely devout, and not
at all bigoted—a difficult combination;—and
moreover he is lovely to behold, and has the
prettiest and merriest laugh possible. It is
quite curious to see the mixture of a sort of
learning, and such perfect high breeding and
beauty of character, with utter ignorance and
great superstition.
I want dreadfully to be able to draw or
photograph. The group at the Sheykh-el-Abab'deh's
a few nights ago was ravishing;
all but my ugly hat and self: the black ringlets,
and dingy white drapery, and obsolete
weapons of the men—the graceful splendid
Sheykh, “black, but beautiful,” like the Shulamite
—I thought of Antar and Aboo-Zeyd.
The Khamáseen here is pleasant rather than
not—only the dust is horrid; but the wind is
not stifling, as it is down stream.
Thursday, April 14, 1864.
We have had a tremendous Khamáseen

wind, and now a strong north wind, quite fresh
and cool; the thermometer was 92° in the
Khamáseen, but it did me no harm. Luckily I
am very well, for I am worked hard, as a strange
epidemic has broken out, and I am the Hakeemeh
of El-Uksur. The Hakeem Bashi from
Cairo came up and frightened the people, telling
them it was catching; and Yoosuf forgot
his religion so far as to beg me not to be all
day in the people's huts. But Omar and I
despised the danger, I feeling sure it was
not infectious, and Omar saying, “Min Alláh.”
The people have stoppage of the bowels, and
die in eight days, unless they are physicked.
All who have sent for me in time have recovered;
thank God that I can help the poor
souls! It is harvest, and the hard work, and
the spell of intense heat, and the green corn,
beans, etc. etc., which they eat, bring on the
sickness. Then the Copts are fasting from all
animal food, and full of green beans, and salad,
and green corn. Mustafa tried to persuade
me not to give physic, for fear those who
died should pass for being poisoned; but both
Omar and I thought this only an excuse for
selfishness. Omar is an excellent assistant.

The Bishop tried to make money by hinting
that if I forbade my patients to fast, I might
pay for their indulgences.
One poor peevish little man refused the
chicken broth, and told me that we Europeans
had our heaven in this world. Omar
let out a “Kelb!” (dog!) But I stopped him,
and said, “O my brother, God has made the
Christians of England unlike those of Egypt,
and surely will condemn neither of us on that
account; mayest thou find a better heaven
hereafter than I now enjoy here!” Omar
threw his arms round me, and said, “O thou
good one! surely our Lord will reward thee
for acting thus with the meekness of a Muslimeh, and kissing the hand of him who
strikes thy face. (See how each religion
claims humility as its peculiar characteristic!)
Suleyman was not pleased at his fellow-Christian's
display of charity. It does seem
strange that the Copts of the lower class will
not give us the blessing, or thank God for our
health, as the Muslimeen do. Most of my patients
are Christians, and some are very nice
people indeed.
The people have named me Sitti Noor-âlâ-Noor.

A poor woman, whose only child, a',
young man, I was happy enough to cure when
dreadfully ill, kissed my feet, and asked by
what name to pray for me. I told her my
name meant “noor” (light, lux); but as that
was one of the names of God, I could not use
it. “Thy name is Noor-ala-Noor,” said a man
who was in the room; that means something
like “God is upon thy mind,” or “Light from
the light;” and “Noor-ala-Noor” it remains:
a combination of the names of God is quite
proper, like Abdallah, Abd-er-Rahmán, etc. etc.
I begged some medicines of a Polish Countess,
who went down the other day. When
all is gone, I don't know what I shall do. I
am going to try to make castor-oil: I don't
know how; but I shall try, and Omar fancies
he can manage it. The cattle disease has also
broken out desperately up in the Mudeeriat
of Esneh, and we see the dead beasts float
down all day; of course, we shall soon have
it here.
Sunday, April 17.
The epidemic seems to be over, but there is
still a great deal of gastric fever, etc., about.

The hakeem from Kiné has just been here,—
a pleasing, clever young man, speaking Italian
perfectly, and French extremely well; he is
the son of some fellah, of Lower Egypt, sent
to study at Pisa, and has not lost the Arab
gentility and elegance by a Frangee education.
We fraternized greatly, and the young hakeem
was delighted at my love for his people, and
my high opinion of their intelligence. He is
now gone to inspect the sick, and is to see me
again and give me directions. He was very
unhappy that he could not supply me with
medicines; none are to be bought above Cairo,
except from the hospital-doctors, who sell the
medicines of the government, as the Italian at
Asyoot did; but Alee Efendi is too honest for
that. The old Bishop paid me a visit of three
and a half hours yesterday, and, pour me tirer
une carotte, he sent me a loaf of sugar; so I
must send a present “for the church,”—to be
consumed in arakee. The old man was not
very sober, and asked for wine; I coolly told
him that it was “harám” (forbidden) to us to
drink during the day,—except with our dinner.
I never will give the Christians drink here;
and now they have left off pressing me to

drink spirits at their houses. The Bishop offered
to alter the hour of prayer for me, and
to let me into the “Heykel” (where women
must not go) on Good Friday, which will
be eighteen days hence; all of which I refused,
and said I would go on the roof of the
church, and look down through the window,
with the other hareem. Omar kissed the
Bishop's hand, and I said, “What! do you
kiss the hand of a Copt?” “Oh yes,” he answered,
“he is an old man, and a servant of
my God;—but dreadful dirty,” added Omar,
—and it was too true. His presence diffused
a fearful monastic odour of sanctity. A
bishop must be a monk, as the priests are
married.
Monday.—To-day Alee Efendi el-Hakeem
came again to tell me how he had been to try
to see my patients, and failed; all the families
declared they were well, and would not let him
in. Such is the deep distrust of everything
connected with the Government. They all
waited till he was gone away, and then came
again to me with their ailments. I scolded,
and they all said, “Wallah! ya Sitt, ya
Emeereh, that is the Bash Hakeem, and he

will send us off to the hospital at Kiné, and
there they would poison us; by thy eyes, do
not be angry with us, or leave off having compassion
on us, on this account.” I said, Alee
Efendi is an Arab, and a Muslim, and an
Emeer (gentleman), and he gave me good
advice, and would have given more, etc. etc.
All in vain! He is the Government doctor,
and they had rather die, and will swallow
anything from the Sitt Noor-âlâ-Noor. Here
is a pretty state of things!
I gave Sheykh Yoosuf four pounds for three
months' daily lessons in Arabic last night, and
had quite a contest to force it upon him.
“It is not for money, O lady!” and he coloured
crimson. He had been about with
Alee Hakeem, but could not get the people to
see him. The Copts, I fear, have a religious
prejudice against him, Alee, and indeed against
all heretics. They consider themselves and
the Abyssinians as the only true believers;
if they acknowledge us as brethren, it is for
money. I speak only of the low class, and of
the priests,—of course the educated merchants
think very differently. I had two priests, two
deacons, and the mother of one of them here

to-day, for physic for the woman. She was
very pretty and pleasing, miserably weak, and
reduced, from the long fast; I told her she
must eat meat, drink a little wine and take
cold baths, and gave her quinine. She will
take the wine and the quinine, but neither
eat nor wash. The Bishop tells them they
will die if they break the fast, and half the
Christians are ill from it. The one priest
spoke a little English; he fabricates false antiques
very cleverly, and is tolerably sharp.
But, oh heaven! it is enough to make one
turn Muslim, to compare these greasy rogues
with high-minded charitable Shurafa (noble-men)
like Sheykh Yoosuf. A sweet little
Copt boy, who is very ill, will be killed by
the stupid bigotry about the fast. My friend
Suleyman is much put out, and backs my exhortations
to the sick to break it. He is a
capital fellow, and very intelligent, and he
and Omar are like brothers; it is the priests
who do all they can to keep alive religious
prejudice,—luckily they are only partially
successful.
Mohammad has just heard that seventy-five
head of cattle are dead in El-Mootaneh. Here

only a few have died as yet, and Alee Hakeem
thinks the disease less virulent than in Lower
Egypt. I hope he is right; but the dead
beasts float down the river all day long.
Saturday, April 23.
Happily the sickness is going off. I have just
heard Suleyman's report as follows:—Hasan
Aboo-Ahmad kisses the Emeereh's feet, and
the bullets have cleaned his stomach, and he
has said the Fat'hah for the lady. The two
little girls who had diarrhœa are well. The
Christian dyer has vomited his powder, and
wants another. The mother of the Christian
cook who married the priest's sister has got
dysentery. The Hareem of Mustafa Aboo-Obeyd
has two children with bad eyes. The
Bishop had a quarrel, and scolded and fell
down, and cannot speak or move; I must go
to him. The young deacon's jaundice is better.
The slave girl of Khursheed Agha is sick, and
Khursheed is sitting at her head, in tears; the
women say I must go to her too. Khursheed
is a fine young Circassian, and very good to his
hareem.
That is all. Suleyman has nothing on earth

to do, and brings me a daily report; he likes
the gossip and the importance. The Reyyis of
a cargo-boat brought me up your Lafontaine
and almanac yesterday, and some newspapers
and books from Hekekian Bey; the papers
were very welcome, also a letter from P——.
I am very sorry he had not time to come here,
and study the splendid forms of the reapers
and camel-drivers. Sheykh Yoosuf is going
down to Cairo, to try to get back some of
the lands which Mohammad Alee took away
from the mosques and the Ulema without
compensation. He asked me whether R——
would speak for him to Efendeena or to Haleem
Pasha: what are the Muslimeen coming to?
As soon as I can read enough, he offers to
read in the Koran with me,—a most unusual
proceeding, as the “noble Koran” is not generally
put into the hands of heretics. But my
“charity to the people in sickness” is looked
upon by Abd-el-Wáris, the Imám, and by Yoosuf,
as a proof that I have “received direction,”
and am of those Christians of whom
Seyyidna Mohammad has said, “that they
have no pride, that they rival each other in
good works, and that God will increase their

reward.” There is no arrière-pensée of conversion,
—that they think hopeless.
Next Friday is the Gumha el-Kebeer (Great
or Good Friday) with the Copts, and the
prayers are in the daytime, so I shall go to
the church. Next moon is the great Bairam,
el-Eed el-Kebeer with the Muslimeen,—the
commemoration of the sacrifice of Isaac or
Ishmael (commentators are uncertain which);
and Omar will kill a sheep for the poor, for
the benefit of his baby, according to custom.
I have at length compassed the destruction
of mine enemy, though he has not written a
book. A fanatical Christian dog (quadruped),
belonging to the Coptic family who live on
the opposite side of the yard, hated me with
such virulent intensity, that not content with
barking at me all day long, he howled at me
all night, even after I had put out my lantern
and he could not see me in bed. Sentence of
death has been recorded against him, as he
could not be beaten into toleration. Meekaeel,
his master's son, has just come down from
El-Mootaneh, where he is the wekeel of M.
M——. He gives a fearful account of the
sickness there among men and cattle; eight

or ten deaths of men a day. Here we have
only four a day, at the most, in a population
of, I guess, some two thousand. Two hundred
and fifty head of cattle have died at El-Mootaneh.
Here a few calves are dead, but as
yet no full-grown beasts, and the people are
healthy again. I really think I did some service
by not showing any fear, and Omar behaved
manfully. Some one tried to put it
into Omar's head that it was “harám” to be
too fond of us heretics; but he consulted
Sheykh Yoosuf, who promised him a reward
hereafter for good conduct to me, and who
told me of it as a good joke, adding that he
was “rágil emeen,” the highest praise for
fidelity,—the sobriquet of the Prophet. Omar
kisses the hands of the Seedee el-Kebeer (the
great master), and desires his best salám to
the little master and the little lady, whose servant
he is. He asks if I too do not kiss Iskender
Bey's hand in my letter, as I ought to do
as his hareem; or whether I make myself
“big before my master,” like some Frangee
ladies he has seen. Yoosuf is quite puzzled
about European women, and a little shocked
at the want of respect to their husbands they

display. I told him that the outward respect
shown us by our men was our veil, and explained
how superficial the difference was.
He fancied that the law gave us the upper
hand.
Omar reports yesterday's sermon,—“On Toleration,”
it appears. Yoosuf took the text
of “Thou shalt love thy brother as thyself,
and never act towards him but as thou wouldst
that he should act towards thee.” I forget the
chapter and verse, but it seems he took the
bull by the horns, and declared all men to be
brothers,—not Muslimeen only,—and desired
his congregation to look at the good deeds
of others, and not at their erroneous faith; for
God is all-knowing (i.e. He only knows the
heart), and if they saw aught amiss, to remember
that the best men need say “Astaghfir
Allah” (I beg pardon of God) seven times a
day.
I wish the English could know how unpleasant
and mischievous their manner of
talking to their servants about religion is.
Omar confided to me how bad it felt to be
questioned and then to see the Englishman
laugh, or put up his lip and say nothing. “I

don't want to talk about his religion at all,
but if he talks about mine, he ought to speak
of his own too. You, my lady, say when I
tell you things, ‘that is the same with us,’ or,
that is different, or good or not good, in your
mind; and that is the proper way,—not to
look like thinking, all nonsense.”

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269

LETTER XLI.

Esneh,

Saturday, April 30, 1864.

ON Tuesday evening, as I was dreamily sitting
on my divan, who should walk in but my
cousin A——T——, on his way all alone, in
a big dahabeeyeh, to Edfoo!—so I offered to
go too, whereupon he said he would go on to
Aswán and see Philæ, as he had company;
and we went off to Mustafa to make a bargain
with his Reyyis for it. Thus, then, here
we are at Esneh. I embarked on Wednesday
evening, and we have been two days en route.
Yesterday we had the thermometer at 110°.
I was the only person awake all day in the
boat: Omar, after cooking, lay panting at my
feet on the deck; A——went fairly to bed
in the cabin; ditto S——. All the crew slept
on the deck. Omar cooked amphibiously,
bathing between every meal. The silence of

noon, with the white heat glowing on the river
which flowed like liquid tin, and the silent
Nubian rough boats floating down without a
ripple, was magnificent, and really awful. Not
a breath of wind as we lay under the lofty
bank. The Nile is not quite low, and I see
a very different scene from last year. People
think us crazy to go up to Aswán in May, but
I do enjoy it, and I really wanted to forget all
the sickness and sorrow in which I have taken
part. When I went to Mustafa's he said
Sheykh Yoosuf was ill, and I said, “Then I
won't go.” But Yoosuf came in with a sick
headache only. Mustafa repeated my words
to him, and never did I see such a lovely expression
in human face as that with which
Yoosuf said, “Eh, ya Sitt.” Mustafa laughed
and told him to thank me, and Yoosuf turned
to me and said in a low voice, “My sister
does not need thanks, save from God.” Fancy
a shereef, one of the Ulema, calling a Frangeeyeh
“sister”! His pretty little girl came
in and played with me, and he offered her to
me for M——. I cured Khursheed's Circassian
slave-girl; you would have laughed to see
him obeying my directions, and wiping his

eyes on his gold-embroidered sleeve. Then
the Coptic priest came for me to go to his
wife, who was ill; and he was in a great quandary,
because, if she died, he, as a priest, could
never marry again, as he loudly lamented before
her; but he was truly grieved, and I was
very happy to leave her convalescent.
Verily, we are sorely visited; the dead
cattle float down by thousands. M. M——
buried a thousand at El-Mootaneh alone, and
lost forty men. I would not have left El-Uksur,
but there were no new cases for four days before,
and the worst had been over for full ten
days. Two or three poor people brought me
new bread and vegetables to the boat, when
they saw me going, and Yoosuf came down
and sat with us all the evening, and looked
quite sad. Omar asked him why, and he said
“it made him think how it would seem when,
‘Inshá-alláh,’ I should be well, and should leave
my place empty at El-Uksur, and go back, with
the blessing of God, to my own place and my
own people;” whereupon Omar grew sentimental
too, and nearly cried.
I don't know how A——would have managed
without us, for he had come to Egypt

with two Frenchmen who had proper servants,
and who left the boat at Girgeh; and he
has only a wretched little dirty Cairene Copt,
who can do nothing but cheat a little. He
has been spoiled by an Italian education and
Greek associates, and thinks himself very
grand because he is a Christian. I wonder at
the patience and good-nature with which Omar
does all his work and endures all his insolence.
It really is becoming quite a calamity about
servants here. But neither he nor the other
men would tolerate what they thought an act
of disrespect to me. Ramadán half strangled
him; Omar called him dog, and asked him if
he was an infidel. All the men cursed him.
Omar sobbed with passion, saying that I was
to him “like the back of his mother,” “and
how dared Macarius take my name into his
dirty mouth?” The Copt afterwards tried to
complain of being beaten, but I signified to
him that he had better hold his tongue, for
that I understood Arabic; upon which he
sneaked off. A—— tells me that men not
fit to light Omar's pipe asked him £10 a
month in Cairo, and would not take less, and
he gives his Copt £6. I really feel as if I

were cheating Omar to let him stay on at £3;
but if I say anything, he kisses my hand and
tells me “not to be cross.”
Everything is enormously dear. The country
people do not suffer, but the town people
must be dreadfully pinched and starved.
Omar often looks grave, when he thinks of
what his wife must be paying now for her
living in Alexandria. It is really too hot
to write, and I feel given up to laziness and
to sitting on deck, looking at the river. I
have letters from Yoosuf to people at Aswán;
if I should want anything, I am to call on the
Kádee. We have a very excellent boat and a
good crew, and are very comfortable. When
the El-Uksur folks heard the “son of my uncle”
was come, they thought it must be my husband.
A——has been all along the Suez
Canal, and seen a great many curious things;
the Delta must be very unlike Upper Egypt,
from what he tells me.
The little Káfileh for Mecca left El-Uksur
about ten days ago; it was a pretty and touching
sight—three camels, five donkeys, and
about thirty men and women, several with
babies on their shoulders, all uttering the

Zagháreet (cry of joy). They will walk to
Kuseyr (eight days' journey with good camels),
babies and all. It is the happiest day of their
lives, they say, when they have scraped money
enough to make the hájj. This minute a poor
man is weeping beside our boat over a pretty
heifer decked with many Hegábs (amulets)
which have not availed against the sickness.
It is heartrending to see the poor beasts and
their unfortunate owners.
Some dancing-girls came to the boat just
now for cigars which A—— had promised
them, and to ask after their friend El Maghrabeeyeh,
the good dancer at El-Uksur, who, they
said, was very ill. Omar did not know anything
about her, and the girls seemed much
distressed; they were both very pretty, one
an Abyssinian. I must leave off to send this
to the post. It will cost a fortune, but you
won't grudge it.

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275

LETTER XLII.

El-Uksur,

May 15, 1864.

WE returned to El-Uksur the evening before
last, just after dark. The salute which Omar
fired with your old horse-pistols brought down
a host of people, and there was a chorus of
“El-hamdu-lilláh Sálimeh ya Sitt!” and such a
kissing of hands, and “Welcome home to your
place!” and “We have tasted your absence
and found it bitter!” etc. etc. Mustafa came
with letters for me, and Yoosuf, beaming with
smiles; and Mohammad, with new bread made
of new wheat, and Suleyman with flowers, and
little Ahmad rushing in wildly to kiss hands.
When the welcome had subsided, Yoosuf, who
stayed to tea, told me all the cattle were dead.
Mustafa lost thirty-four, and had three left;
and poor farmer Omar lost all—fifty-seven

head. The people are pretty well here; but
the distress in Upper Egypt will now be fearful.
Within six weeks all our cattle are dead.
They are threshing the corn with donkeys,
and men are turning the sákiyehs, and drawing
the ploughs, and in many places dying by scores,
of overwork and want of food. The whole
agriculture depended on the oxen, and they
are all dead. At El-Mootaneh, and the nine
villages around Haleem Pasha's estate, 24,000
head have died, and four beasts were left when
we were there, three days ago.
Well, I will recount my journey. We spent
two days and nights at Philæ. It was hot;
the basaltic rocks which enclose the river all
round the island were burning. S——and I
slept in the Osiris chamber, on the roof of the
temple, on our air-beds. Omar lay across the
doorway, to guard us; and A—— and his
Copt, with the well-bred sailor Ramadán, were
sent to bivouac on the Pylon. Ramadán took
the Hareem under his especial and most respectful
charge, and waited on us devotedly,
but never raised his eyes to our faces, or spoke
till spoken to. Philæ is six or seven miles
from Aswán, and we went on donkeys through

the beautiful village of the Cataract, and the
noble place of tombs of Aswán. Great was
the amazement of every one at seeing Europeans
so out of season; we were like swallows
in January to them. I could not sleep for the
heat in the room, and threw on an abbayeh,
and went and lay on the parapet of the temple.
What a night! what a lovely view! the stars
gave as much light as the moon in Europe,
and all but the Cataract was still as death,
and glowing hot, and the palm-trees were more
graceful and dreamy than ever. Then Omar
woke, and came and sat at my feet, and rubbed
them, and sang a song of a Turkish slave. I
said, “Do not rub my feet, O brother! that is
not fit for thee,” (it is below the dignity of a
free Muslim altogether to touch shoes or feet):
but he sang in his song, “The slave of the
Turk may be set free by money, but how shall
one be ransomed who has been paid for by
kind actions and sweet words?”
Then the day broke deep crimson, and I
went down and bathed in the Nile, and saw
the girls on the island opposite in their summer
fashions, consisting of a leathern fringe
round their slender hips,—divinely graceful!

—bearing huge saucer-shaped baskets of corn
on their stately young heads; and I went up
and sat at the end of the colonnade, looking
up into Ethiopia, and dreamed dreams of
“Him who sleeps in Philæ,” until the great
Amun-Ra kissed my northern face too hotly,
and drove me into the temple to breakfast
and coffee, and pipes and keyf; and in the
evening three little naked Nubians rowed us
about for two or three hours on the glorious
river in a boat made of thousands of bits of
wood, each a foot long, and between whiles
they jumped overboard and disappeared, and
came up on the other side of the boat.
Aswán was full of Turkish soldiers, who came
and took away our donkeys, and stared at our
faces most irreligiously. We returned from
Philá to our boat the third morning; and
S—— fainted after we got back, from a combination
of heat, fatigue, and cucumber for
supper. Omar came in, and cried over her
bitterly,—frightened out of his senses at seeing
a faint. She was all right again, next
day; but I was ill, and lay in bed; and Omar
did sick-nurse, and brought me pigeons boiled
with rice, which are esteemed medicinal.

When I refused to eat, he proceeded to pull
off tit-bits with his fingers, and to feed me
with them. I wished it had happened to
“a particular” Englishwoman just arrived. I
have got to prefer food with fingers—Arab
fingers I mean, which are washed fifty times a
day. I got well again directly, but did not
go ashore at Kóm Omboo or El-Káb,—only
at Edfoo, where we spent the day in the
temple, and at Esneh, where we tried to buy
sugar, tobacco, etc., and found nothing at all,
—even at Esneh, which is a chef-lieu, with a
mudeer. It is only in winter that there is anything
to be got for the travellers. We had to
get the Názir in Edfoo to order a man to sell
us charcoal. People do without sugar, and
smoke green tobacco, and eat beans, etc.; and
soon we must do likewise, for our stores are
nearly exhausted. We stopped at El-Mootaneh
and had a good dinner in the M——s'
handsome house there, and they gave us a loaf
of sugar.
Madame M—— described Rachel's stay
with them for three months at El-Uksur, in
my house, where they then lived. Rachel
hated it so that, on embarking to leave, she

turned back and spat on the ground, and
cursed the place inhabited by savages, where
she had been ennuyée à mort.
French women generally do not like the
Arabs, who, they say, are not at all “galants.”
As I write this, I laugh to think of galanterie
and Arab in one sentence, and glance at “my
brother” Yoosuf, who is sleeping on a mat,
quite overcome with the Simoom, which is
blowing, and the fast which he is keeping today
as the eve of the Eed el-Kebir.
This is the coolest place in the village; the
glass is only 98 1/2° now at 11 A.M., in the darkened
divan. The Kádee, the Maohn, and
Yoosuf came together to visit me, and when
the others went, Yoosuf lay down to sleep;
Omar is sleeping in the passage, S—— in
her own room. I alone don't sleep; but the
Simoom is terrible. A—— runs about sight-seeing
and drawing all day, and does not
suffer at all from the heat. I can't walk now,
as the sand blisters my feet. Last night I
slept on the terrace and was very hot. Today
at noon, the north wind sprang up and revived
us, though it is still 102° in my deewan.
My old great-grandfather (as he calls himself)

has come in for a pipe and coffee. He
was Belzoni's guide, and his eldest child was
born seven days before the French under
Bonaparte marched into El-Uksur. He is superbly
handsome and erect, and very talkative,
but only remembers old times, and takes me
for Madame Belzoni. He is grandfather to
Mohammad, the guard of this house, and great-great-grandfather
to my little Ahmad. His
grandsons have married him to a decent old
woman, to take care of him. He calls me
“my lady grand-daughter,” and Omar he calls
Mustafa, and we salute him as “Grandfather.”
I wish I could paint him, he is so grand to,
look at.
The Simoom has lasted nine days, and is
very trying; the tremendous sweating thins
us all. The glass keeps at 98°, which is very
pleasant with the north wind, but the Simoom
parches one; it is awful,—so dark and depressing.

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282

LETTER XLIII.

El-Uksur,

June 12, 1864.

I HAVE had an abominable toothache, which
was much aggravated by the Oriental custom,
namely, that all the beau monde of Thebes
would come and sit with me, and suggest remedies,
and look into my mouth, and make
quite a business of my tooth. Sheykh Yoosuf
laid two fingers on my cheek, and recited
verses from the Koran,—I regret to say, with
no effect, except that while his fingers touched
me the pain ceased. I find he is celebrated
for soothing headaches and other nervous
pains; I dare say he is an unconscious mesmerizer.
The other day, our poor Maohn was terrified
by a communication from Alee Bey (Mudeer
of Kiné), to the effect that he had heard

from Alexandria, that some one had reported
that the dead cattle had lain about in the
streets of El-Uksur, and that the place was pestilential.
The British mind at once suggested
a counter-statement, to be signed by the most
respectable inhabitants; so the Kádee drew it
up, and came and read it to me, and took my
deposition and witnessed my signature; and the
Maohn went his way rejoicing, in that “Kalám
el-Inkeleezeeyeh” (the words of the English-woman)
would utterly defeat Alee Bey. The
truth is, that the worthy Maohn worked really
hard, and superintended the horrible deadcattle
business in person, which is some risk,
and very unpleasant. To dispose of three or
four hundred dead oxen every day, with a very
limited staff of labourers, is no trifle; and if a
travelling Englishman smells one a mile off,
he abuses the “lazy Arabs.” The beasts could
not be buried deep enough, but all were carried
a mile off from the village. I wish some
of the dilettanti who stop their noses at us in
our trouble, had to see or to do what I have
seen and done.
June 17.—We have had four or five days of
such fearful heat, with a simoom, that I have

been quite knocked up, and literally could not
write; besides, I sit in the dark all day, and
am now writing in the dark. At night I go
out and sit in the Feshah, and can't have candles
because of the insects. I sleep out till
about six A.M., and then go in-doors till dark
again. This fortnight is the hottest time.
To-day the drop falls into the Nile at the
source, and it will now rise fast and cool the
country; it has risen one cubit, and the water
is green,—next month it will be blood-colour.
We can't sleep now under a roof at all, so now
we are as lazy as we can afford to be, and only
do what we must. The tooth does not ache
now, praise be to God! for I rather dreaded
the barber with his tongs, who is the sole
dentist here.
I was amused the other day by the entrance
of my friend the Maohn, attended by Osmán
Efendi, and his kawás and pipe-bearer, and
bearing a saucer in his hand, and wearing the
look, half sheepish, half elate, with which
elderly gentlemen in all countries announce
what he did; i.e. that his Gariyeh (black slave-girl)
was three months gone with child, and
longed for olives; so the respectable magistrate

had trotted all over the bazaar, and to the
Greek corn-dealers, to buy some, but for no
money were they to be had. So he hoped I
might have some, and that I would forgive the
request, as I of course knew that a man must
beg, or even steal for a woman under these
circumstances. I called Omar, and said, “I
trust there are olives for the honourable hareem
of Seleem Efendi; they are needed there.”
Omar immediately understood the case, and
exclaimed,— “Praise be to God! a few are
left; I was about to stuff the pigeons for dinner
with them; how lucky I had not done it!”
and then we belaboured Seleem with compliments.
“Please God, the child will be fortunate
to thee!” said I. Omar said, “Sweeten
my mouth, O Efendim, for did I not tell thee
God would give thee good out of this affair,
when thou boughtest her?” While we were
thus rejoicing over the possible little mulatto, I
thought how shocked a white christian gentleman
of our colonies would be at our conduct.
To make such a fuss about a black girl; he
give her sixpence! (under the same circumstances,
I mean,) he'd see her”—etc., and my
heart warmed to the kind old Muslim sinner (?)

as he took his saucer of olives, and walked
with them openly in his hand along the street.
Now the black girl is free, and can only leave
Seleem's house by her own goodwill; and probably
after a time she will marry, and he will
pay the expenses. A man cannot sell his slave
after he has made known that she is with
child by him, and it would be considered unmanly
to detain her if she should wish to go.
The child will be added to the other eight
who fill the Maohn's quiver at Cairo, and will
be exactly as well looked on, and have equal
rights, if it is as black as a coal.
A most quaint little half-black boy, a year
and a half old, has taken a fancy to me, and
comes and sits for hours gazing at me, and
then dances to amuse me; he is Mohammad,
our guard's son, by a jet-black slave of his, and
is brown-black, and very pretty. He wears a bit
of iron-wire in one ear, and iron rings round his
ankles, and nothing else; and when he comes
up, little Ahmad, who is his uncle, “makes him
fit to be seen” by emptying a pitcher of water
over his head, to rinse the dust off, in which,
of course, he had been rolling. That is equivalent
to a clean pinafore. You would want

to buy little Saeed, I know; he is so pretty
and jolly; he sings and dances, and jabbers
baby-Arabic, and then sits like a quaint little
idol, cross-legged, quite still for hours.
I am now writing in the kitchen, which is
the coolest place where there is any light at
all. Omar is diligently spelling words of sixs
letters, with a wooden spoon in his hand, and
a cigarette in his mouth; S—— lying on the
floor. I won't describe our costume; it is two
months since I have worn gloves or stockings,
and I think you would wonder at the “Fellahah”
who “owns you,”—so deep a brown are
my face, hands, and feet. One of the sailor's
in A——'s boat said, “See how the sun of the
Arabs loves her; he has kissed her so hotly
that she can't go home among her own people.”
Poor Suleyman's little boy is dead of smallpox;
luckily it has not spread. The fact is,
that vaccination is far more general here than
in Europe; very few neglect it. Suleyman
is grievously altered, so pale and thin. He
talked just like a Muslim. “Allah! Min
Allah! Maktoob!” (it is written!) You would
not know a Christian here at all by his talk,
or his feelings on religious matters.

288

I went last night to look at El-Karnak by
moonlight; the giant columns were overpowering,—I
never saw anything so solemn. On
our way back we met the Sheykh-el-Beled,
who ordered me an escort of ten men home.
Fancy me on my humble donkey, guarded
most superfluously by ten tall fellows, with,
oh! such spears and venerable matchlocks!
At Mustafa's house we found a party seated
before the door, and joined it. There was a
tremendous Sheykh-el-Islám from Tunis, a Maghrabee,
seated on a carpet, in state, receiving
homage. I don't think he liked the heretical
woman at all; even the Maohn did not
dare to be as polite as usual to me, but took
the seat above me, which I had respectfully
left vacant, next to the holy man. Mustafa
was in a perplexity,—afraid not to do the respectful
to me and fussing after the sheykh.
Just then Yoosuf came fresh out of the river,
where he had bathed and prayed; and then you
saw the real gentleman. He salámed the great
sheykh, who motioned to him to sit before
him, but Yoosuf quietly came round and sat
below me on the mat, leaned his elbow on my
cushion, and made more demonstrations of

regard for me than ever; and when I went,
came and helped me on my donkey. The holy
Sheykh went away to pray, and Mustafa hinted
to Yoosuf to go with him, but he only smiled,
and did not stir; he had prayed an hour before
down at the Nile. It was as if a poor
curate had devoted himself to a Papist under
the nose of a scowling Low Church Bishop.
Then came Osman Efendi, a young Turk,
with a poor devil accused in a distant village
of stealing a letter with money in it, addressed
to a Greek money-lender. The discussion was
quite general,—the man of course denying
all; but the Názir had sent word to beat him.
Then Omar burst out,—“What a shame to
beat a poor man on the mere word of a Greek
money-lender, who eats the people! The Názir
should not help him.” There was a Greek
present who scowled at Omar, and the Turk
gaped at him in horror. Yoosuf said with his
quiet smile, “My brother, thou art talking English,”
with a glance at me; and we all laughed,
and I said, “Many thanks for the compliment.”
All the village is in good spirits. The Nile
is rising fast, and a star of most fortunate character
has made its appearance,—so Yoosuf

tells me,—and portends a good year, and an
end to our afflictions. I am much better. I,
too, feel the rising Nile; it puts new life into
all things. The last fortnight or three weeks
have been very trying, with the simoom and
intense heat. I suppose I look better, for the
people here are for ever praising God about
my amended looks.

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291

LETTER XLIV.

June 26, 1864.

I HAVE just paid a singular visit to a political
détenu, or exile rather. Last night Mustafa
came in with a man in great grief, who said
his boy was very ill on board a kangeh, just
come from Cairo, and going to Aswán. The
watchman on the river-bank had told him that
there was an English “Sitt, who would not
turn her face from any one in trouble,” and
advised him to come to me for medicine. So
he went to Mustafa, and begged him to bring
him to me, and to beg the kawás (policeman) in
charge of El-Bedrawee (who was being sent in
banishment to Feyzoghloo), to wait a few hours.
The kawás (may he not suffer for his humanity!)
consented. The poor father described
his boy's symptoms, and I gave him a dose of

castor-oil, and said I would go to the boat in
the morning. El-Bedrawee was a Cairo merchant,
but living at Khartoom; he poured out
his sorrow in true Eastern style. “Oh! my
boy, and I have none but he! and how shall
I come before his mother, O lady, and tell
her, ‘Thy son is dead’?” So I comforted him,
and went this morning early to the boat. It
was a regular old Arab kangeh, lumbered up
with corn-sacks of matting, live sheep, etc.
etc.; and there I found a sweet graceful boy, of
fifteen or so, in a high fever. The oil had
not acted, so I sent for my medicine-chest, and
gave what I thought best. The symptoms
were the usual ones of the epidemic. His father
said he had visited a certain Pasha on the
way, and evidently meant that he had been
poisoned, or had the evil eye. I assured him
it was only the epidemic, and asked why he
had not sent for the doctor at Kiné. The old
story,—he was afraid: “God knows what a
Government doctor might do to the boy!”
Then Omar came in, and stood before El-Bedrawee,
and said, “O my master, why do
we see thee thus? I once ate of thy bread
when I was of the soldiers of Saeed Pasha, and

I saw thy riches and thy greatness; and what
has God decreed against thee?” So El-Bedrawee,
who is (or was) one of the wealthiest
men of Lower Egypt, and lived at Tanta, related
how Efendeena (Ismail Pasha) sent for
him to go to Cairo to the citadel, to transact
some business; and how he rode his horse up to
the citadel, and went in, and there the Pasha at
once ordered a kawás to take him down to the
Nile, and on board a common cargo-boat, and
to go with him, and to take him to Feyzoghloo.
Letters were given to the kawás to deliver to
every Mudeer by the way, and another dispatched
by land to the governor of Feyzoghloo,
with orders concerning El-Bedrawee. He
begged leave to see his son once more before
starting, or any of his family. “No, he must
go away at once, and see no one.” But luckily
a Fellah, one of his relations, had come after
him to Cairo, and had £700 in his girdle; he
followed El-Bedrawee to the citadel, and saw
him being walked off by the kawás, and followed
him to the river, and on board the
boat, and gave him the £700 which he had
in his girdle. The various Mudeers had been
civil to him, and friends in different places

had given him clothes and food. He had not
got a chain round his neck, nor fetters, and
was allowed to go ashore with the kawás, for
he had just been to the tomb of Abu-l-Haggág,
and had told that dead sheykh all his afflictions,
and promised, if he came back safe,
to come every year to his Moolid (fête), and
pay the whole expenses (i. e. feed all comers).
Mustafa wanted him to dine with him and
me; but the kawás could not allow it, and so
Mustafa sent him a fine sheep, and some bread,
fruit, etc. I made him a present of some quinine,
rhubarb pills, and sulphate of zinc for
eye-lotion.
Here, you know, we all go upon a more
than English presumption, and believe every
prisoner to be innocent, and a victim. As he
gets no trial, he never can be proved guilty.
Besides, poor old El-Bedrawee declared he
had not the faintest idea what he was accused
of, or how he had offended Efendeena. I listened
to all this in extreme amazement; and
he said, “Ah, I know you English manage
things very differently. I have heard all about
your excellent justice.” He was a stout, dignified-looking,
fair man, like a Turk, but talking

broad Lower Egypt Fellah talk, so that I
could not understand him, and had to get
Mustafa and Omar to repeat his words. His
father was an Arab, and his mother a Circassian
slave-girl, which gave the fair skin and
reddish beard. He must be over fifty, fat, and
not healthy. Of course, he is meant to die up
in Feyzoghloo, especially going at this season;
he was much overcome with the heat even here.
He owns (or owned, for God knows who has
it now!) twelve thousand feddáns of fine land
between Tanta and Sámánnood, and was enormously
rich. He consulted me a great deal
about his health, and I gave him certainly very
good advice. I cannot write what drugs a Turkish
doctor had furnished him with, to strengthen
him in the trying climate of Feyzoghloo. I
wonder, were they intended to kill him, or only
given in ignorance of the laws of health equal
to his own? After awhile, the pretty boy became
better, and recovered consciousness; and
his poor father, who had been helping me with
trembling hands and swimming eyes, cried for
joy, and said, “By God the Most High, if ever
I find any of the English poor or sick or afflicted
up in Feyzoghloo, I will make them know

that I, Aboo-Mohammad, never saw a face like
the pale face of the English lady bent over
my sick boy;” and then El-Bedrawee and his
Fellah kinsman, and all the crew, blessed me;
and the captain and the kawás said it was time
to sail. So I gave directions and medicine to
Aboo-Mohammad, and kissed the pretty boy,
and went out.
El-Bedrawee followed me up the bank, and
said he had a request to make,—“Would I
pray for him in his distress?” I said, “I am
not of the Muslimeen;” but both he and Mustafa
said, “Maleysh!” (never mind) for it was
quite certain I was not of the Mushrikeen, as
they hate the Muslimeen, and their deeds are
evil; but, blessed be God, many of the English
begin to repent of their evil, and to love the
Muslims, and abound in kind actions.” So we
parted in much kindness. It was a strange
feeling to me to stand on the bank and see
the queer savage-looking boat glide away up
the stream, bound to such far more savage
lands, and to be exchanging kind farewells,
quite in a homely manner, with such utter
“aliens in blood and faith.” “God keep thee,
lady!” “God keep thee, Mustafa!” Mustafa

and I walked home very sad about poor El-Bedrawee.
Friday, July 7.—It has been so intensely hot
that I have not had pluck to go on with my
letter, or indeed to do anything but lie on a
mat in the passage, with a minimum of clothes
quite indescribable in English. “El-hamdu-lilláh!”
laughs Omar, “that I see the clever
English people do just like the Jazy Arabs.”
The worst is, not the positive heat, which has
not been above 104°, and as low as 96° at
night, but the horrible storms of hot winds
which are apt to come on at night, and prevent
one's even lying down till twelve or one
o'clock. Thebes is bad in the height of summer,
on account of its expanse of desert, and
sand and dust. The Nile is pouring down
gloriously, but really as red as blood—more
crimson than a Herefordshire lane; and in the
far distance the reflection of the pure blue sky
makes it deep violet. It had risen five cubits a
week ago; we shall soon have it all over the
land here. It is a beautiful and inspiriting
sight to see the noble old stream as young and
vigorous as ever. No wonder the Egyptians
worshipped the Nile; there is nothing like it.

298

We have had all the plagues of Egypt this
year, only the lice are commuted for bugs,
and the frogs for mice; the former have eaten
me, and the latter have eaten my clothes. We
are so ragged! Omar has one shirt left, which
he has to wash every night. The dust, the
drenching perspiration, and the hard-fisted
washing of Mohammad's slave-woman destroy
everything. Then I cannot wear stockings or
any close-fitting garments; I go about in slippers
and a loose dress, and that is worn out.
I have just received a letter from you and
one from J——. Who could have imposed
upon her credulity by the story of Ulema at
a ball? Why, the bench of bishops in the
opera stalls would be more probable. An Alim
can't see dancing or hear music, and if the
Pasha forced them to go he has sinned fearfully;
it would be an abomination. Do you
know that if a Muslim “sins with his eye,” it
is as bad as if he had sinned altogether? He
must bathe all over before he can eat or pray.
I don't say all do it, but the Ulema would not
expose themselves to sin and scandal;—the
chief merchants and police people, à la bonne
heure
,—but the Ulema, who are “the men of

the law,” no! Mustafa intends to give you a
grand fantasia if you come, and to have the
best dancing-girls down from Esneh for you.
I have been “too lazy Arab,” as Omar calls
it, to go on with my Arabic lessons, and Yoosuf
has been very busy with law business connected
with the land and the crops. Every
harvest brings a fresh settlement of the land.
Wheat is selling at one pound the ardebb here
on the threshing-floor, and barley at a hundred
and sixteen piastres; I saw some Nubians
pay Mustafa that. He is in comic perplexity
about such enormous gains. You see it is rather
awkward for a Muslim to thank God for
dear bread; so he compounds by lavish almsgiving.
He gave all his Fellaheen clothes the
other day,—forty calico shirts and drawers.
Do you remember my describing an emancipirtes
Fräulein
at Asyoot? Well, the other
day I saw, as I thought, a nice-looking lad
of sixteen selling corn to my opposite neighbour,
a Copt. It was a girl. Her father has no
sons, and is infirm, so she works in the fields
for him, and dresses and does like a man; she
looked very modest, and was quieter in her
manner than the veiled women often are.

300

I can hardly bear to think of another year
without seeing the children. However, it is
lucky for. me that “my lines have fallen in
pleasant places;” so long a time at the Cape,
or any colony, would have become intolerable.
If I can afford it, I will go down to Cairo with
the Big Nile next month, or in September,
and await you there. Omar desires his salam
to his great master, and to that gazelle, Sitteh
R——.

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301

LETTER XLV.

El-Uksur,

August 13, 1864.

FOR the last month we have had a purgatory
of hot wind and dust, such as I never saw,
—impossible to stir out of the house; so, in
despair, I have just engaged a return boat, a
Gelegenheit, and am off to Cairo in a day or
two, where I shall stop till, “Inshalláh!” you
come to me. November is the pleasant time
in Cairo.
I am a “stupid, lazy Arab” now, having
lain on a mat in a dark stone passage for six
weeks or so; but my chest is no worse,—better,
I think,—and my health has not suffered at
all, only I am stupid and lazy. I had a pleasant
visit lately from a great doctor from Mecca,
a man so learned that he can read the Koran
in seven different ways, and also from a physician

of European hekmeh. Fancy my wonder
when a great Alim in gorgeous Hejazee dress
walked in and said, “Madame, tout ce qu'on
m'a dit de vous fait tellement l'éloge de votre
cœur et de votre esprit, que je me suis arrêté
pour tâcher de me procurer le plaisir de votre
connaissance.” A number of El-Uksur people
came in, to pay their respects to the great man,
and he said to me that he hoped I had not been
molested on account of my religion, and if I
had I must forgive it, as the people here were
so ignorant, and barbarians were bigots every-where.
I said, “The people of El-Uksur are
my brothers;” and the Maohn said, “True, the
Fellaheen are like oxen, but they are not such
swine as to insult the religion of a lady who
has served God among them like this one.
She risked her life every day.” “And if she
had died,” said the great theologian,” her place
was made ready among the martyrs of God, because
she showed more love to her brethren
than to herself.” Now, if this was humbug, it
was said in Arabic before eight or ten people,
by a man of great religious authority. Omar was
“in heaven “to hear his “Sitt” spoken of “in
such a grand way for the religion.” I believe

that a great change is taking place among the
Ulema; that Islam is ceasing to be a mere
party-flag, just as occurred with Christianity;
and that all the moral part is being more and
more dwelt on. My great Alim also said I
had practised the precepts of the Koran; and
then laughed and said, “I suppose I ought to
say, the Gospel; but what matters it? The
truth (el Hakk) is one, whether spoken by
our Lord Eesa or by our Lord Mohammad.”
He asked me to go to Mecca next winter
for my health, as it is so hot and dry there.
I found he had fallen in with El-Bedrawee
and the Khartoom merchant at Aswán. The
little boy was well again, and I had been outrageously
extolled by them. I have suffered
horribly from prickly heat, till I thought it
would end in erysipelas; but the Arabian doctor
told me to do nothing to it, to bear it
patiently, as he believed it would do my lungs
good; and I am sure he was right.
We are now sending off all the corn. I sat
the other evening on Mustafa's doorstep, and
saw the Greeks piously and zealously attending
to the divine command, to spoil the Egyptians.
Eight months ago, a Greek bought up

corn at sixty piastres the ardebb; (he foresaw
the Coptic tax-gatherer, like a vulture after a
crow;) now wheat is a hundred and seventy
piastres the ardebb here; and the Fellah has
paid three and a half per cent, per month besides,
—reckon the profit! Two men I know
are quite ruined, and have sold all they had.
The cattle disease forced them to borrow at
these ruinous rates, and now, alas! the Nile
is sadly lingering in its rise, and people are
very anxious.
Poor Egypt! or rather, poor Egyptians! Of
course I need not say that there is great improvidence
in those who can be fleeced, as they
are fleeced. Mustafa's household is a pattern
of muddling hospitality, and Mustafa is generous
and mean by turns. But what chance
have people like these, so utterly ignorant of
all that we call civilization, and so isolated as
the Upper Egyptians, against Europeans of unscrupulous
character? I now know the Fellaheen
pretty well, I think. I can't write more
in the wind and dust; I will write again from
Cairo. If you lived in “constant simoom,”
you would be as lazy.

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305

LETTER XLVI.

Cairo,

October 21,1864.

I RECEIVED your letter yesterday; I hope you
have heard I am better. My illness turned
out to be continued fever, not intermittent,
and ended in congestion of the liver, of course
aggravating the cough; but I am now “all
right” again, only rather weak. However, I
ride my donkey, and the weather has suddenly
become glorious, dry, and cool. (I rather
shiver with the thermometer at 79°; absurd,
is it not? but I got so used to real heat.)
I could not write about my departure from
El-Uksur, or my journey, for our voyage was
quite tempestuous after the first three days,
and I fell ill as soon as I was in my house. I
hired a boat for six purses (£18), which had
taken Greeks up to Aswán, selling groceries

and strong drinks; but the Reyyis would not
bring back their return-cargo of black slaves to
dirty the boat, and picked us up at El-Uksur.
We sailed at daybreak, having waited all
the day before, because it was an unlucky
day. As I sat in the boat, people kept coming
to ask very anxiously whether I should return,
and bringing fresh bread, eggs, and other
things, as presents; and all the quality came
to take leave, and hope, “Inshalláh!” I should
soon “come home to my village” safe, and
bring the Master, please God, to see them;
and then to say the Fat'hah, for a safe journey
and my health.
In the morning, the balconies of my house
were filled with a singular group, to see us
sail;—a party of wild black Abab'deh, with
their long Arab guns and flowing hair, a
Turk, elegantly dressed, Mohammad, in his
decorous brown robes and snow-white turban,
and several Fellaheen. As the boat
moved off, the Abab'deh blazed away with
their guns, and Osman Efendee with a sort
of blunderbuss; and as we dropped down the
river there was a general firing, even Todoros
(Theodore), the Coptic Ma'allim, popped off his

American revolver, Omar keeping up a return
with A——'s old horse-pistols, which are much
admired here on account of the excessive noise
they make. Poor old Ismaeen, who always
thought I was Madame Belzoni, and wanted
to take me to meet my husband up at Aboo-Sembel,
was in dire distress that he could not
go with me to Cairo. He declared he was
still “shedeed,”—strong enough to take care
of me, and fight. He is ninety-seven, and only
remembers what occurred fifty or sixty years
ago, in the old wild times; a splendid old man,
handsome, and erect. I used to give him coffee,
and listen to his long stories, which had won his
heart. His grandson, the quiet and rather stately
Mohammad, who is guard of the house I lived
in, forgot all his Muslim dignity, broke down
in the middle of his set speech, flung himself
on the ground, and kissed and hugged my
knees, and cried. He had got some notion of
impending ill-luck, I found, and was unhappy
at our departure, and the baksheesh failed to
console him. Sheykh Yoosuf was to come with
me, but a brother of his just then wrote word
that he was coming back from the Hejaz,
where he had been with the troops in which

he is serving his time. I was very sorry to
lose his company. Fancy, how dreadfully irregular
for one of the Ulema and a heretical
woman to travel together! What would our
bishops say to a parson who did such a
thing?
We had a lovely time on the river for three
days, and such moonlight nights! so soft and
lovely; and we had a sailor, who was as good
as an Alatee, or professional singer. He sang
religious songs, which, I observe, excite these
people more than love songs. One, which
began, “Remove my sins from before thy
sight, O God,” was really beautiful and
touching, and I did not wonder at the tears
which streamed down Omar's face. A very
pretty profane song ran thus;—” Keep the
wind from me, O Lord! I fear it will hurt
me” (wind means love, which is like the simoom).
“Alas! it has struck me, and I am
sick! Why do ye bring the physician? O
physician, put back thy medicine in the canister,
for only he who has hurt can cure me.”
N.B. The masculine pronoun is always used
instead of the feminine in poetry, out of decorum;
sometimes even in conversation.

309

23rd October.
I must send my letter to-day or to-morrow.
Yesterday I met a Saeedee, a friend of the
brother of the Sheykh of the wild Abab'deh,
and as we stood hand-shaking and kissing our
fingers in the road, some of the Anglo-Indian
travellers gazed with fierce disgust; the handsome
Hasan, being black, was such a flagrant
case of a “native.”
It is really heart-breaking to see what we
are sending to India now. The mail days are
dreaded; we never know when some brutal
outrage may possibly excite “Mussulman fanaticism.”
They try their hands on the Arabs,
in order to be in good training for insulting
Hindoos. The English tradesmen here complain
as much as any of the natives; and I, who,
to use the words of the Kádee of El-Uksur, am
“not outside the family” (of Ishmael, I presume),
hear what the Arabs really think. There
are also crowds,” like lice,” as one Mohammad
said, of low Italians, French, etc,; and I find
my stalwart Hasan's broad shoulders no superfluous
porte-respect” about the Frangee quarter.
Three times I have been followed and

insolently stared at (à mon áge!!), and once
Hasan had to speak. Imagine how dreadful to
Muslims! I have come to hate the sight of a
hat in this country.
Was I not a true prophet in what I wrote
from the Cape? … It seems that rumours
of the disputes in our Church have reached a
few people even here. They hope it will end
favourably; i. e. in our conversion to the true
faith (Islám). If God will, we shall yet” tear
off our outer garments in a mosque, and confess
there is no God but God.” How curious
it is to meet with precisely the same sentiment
attaching itself to hostile creeds!
The dearness of all things is fearful here; all
is treble at least what it was in 1862–63; but
wages have risen in proportion. A sailor, who
got 60 piastres a month, now gets 300. All is
at the same rate—clothes, rents, everything.
Cairo is dearer than London, and Alexandria
dearer still, I believe,—at all events, as to rent.
I can't write more now, though I have much
more to tell, but my eyes are very weak still.
Omar begs me to give you his best salám,
and say, Inshalláh, he will take great care of
your daughter, which he most zealously and

tenderly does. Lady——'s Italian courier despised
Omar's heathenish ignorance in preferring
to stay with me for half the wages he
could have got elsewhere. It quite confirmed
him in his contempt for the Arabs.
Let me say, by the bye, that I advise nobody
to bring a retinue to this country. Italian
couriers and French cooks are a perfect torment
in Egypt; they hate the country, make
difficulties, and find fault with everything. A
good English servant, of either sex, gets along
well; and, next best, a German. The Arabs
like and respect them, but they despise the
southern Europeans, whose faults are an exaggeration
of their own, and who are vulgar
into the bargain. Mind, I speak from the Arab
point de vue entirely. Also, people who “make
themselves big” must expect to pay for it, and
must not be out of humour at the cost.

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312

LETTER XLVII.

On the Nile,

Friday, December 23, 1864.

HERE I am again between Benee-Suweyf
and Minyeh, and already better for the clear
air of the river and the tranquil boat-life;
I will send you my Christmas salam from
Asyoot. Many thanks for your baksheesh of
the wine, which is very acceptable indeed.
While——was with me I had as much to do
as I was able to accomplish, and really could
not write, for I had not recovered from the
fever, and there was much to see and talk
about. I think he was amused, but I fear he
felt the Eastern life to be very poor and comfortless,
and was glad to get back to European
ways in Alexandria. I have got so used to
having nothing, that I had quite forgotten how
it would seem to a new-comer. The real evil

is the enormous cost of everything. Cairo is
twice as dear as London in many things, and I
expect to find even El-Uksur very expensive.
There are very few travellers this year, partly,
no doubt, in consequence of the cost of everything.
I am quite sorry to find how many of
my letters must have been lost from El-Uksur;
in future I will trust the Arab post, which
certainly is safer than English travellers.
Please to tell Dean Stanley that his old dragoman,
Mohammad Gazowee, cried with pleasure
when he told me he had seen “Sheykh
Stanley's” sister on her way to India, and the
little ladies “knew his name,” and shook hands
with him, which evidently was worth far more
than the baksheesh. I wondered who “Sheykh
Stanley” could be, and Mohammad (who is a
darweesh, and very pious) told me he was the
Gasees (priest) who was Imám (spiritual guide)
to the son of our Queen; “and, in truth,” said
he, “he is really a Sheykh, and one who
teaches the excellent things of religion. Why,
he was kind even to his horse; and it is of the mercies
of God to the English, that such a one
is the Imám of your Queen and Prince.”
“I said,” laughing, “how dost thou, a darweesh

among Muslims, talk thus of a Nazarene
priest?” “Truly, O Lady,” said he, “one
who loveth all the creatures of God, him God
loveth also; there is ho doubt of that.”
Is any one bigot enough to deny that Dr.
Stanley has done more for real religion in the
mind of that Muslim darweesh, than if he had
baptized a hundred savages out of one fanatical
faith into another? There is no hope
of a good understanding with Orientals until
Western Christians can bring themselves to
recognize what there is of common faith contained
in the two religions; the real difference
consists in all the class of notions and feelings
(very important ones no doubt) which we derive,
not from the Gospels, but from Greece
and Rome, and which of course are altogether
wanting here.
—— will tell you how curiously Omar illustrated
the patriarchal feelings of the East
by entirely dethroning me, to whom he is so
devoted, in favour of the “Master,” whom he
had never seen. “That our Master; we all eat
bread from his hand and he work for us.” Omar
and I were equal before our “Seedee.” He can
sit at his ease at my feet, but when the Master

comes in he must stand reverently, and gives
me to understand that I too must be respectful.
I have got the boat of the American Mission
at an outrageous price—£60, but I could
get nothing under; the consolation is that the
sailors profit, poor fellows! and get treble
wages. My crew are all Nubians; such a
handsome Reyyis and steersman, brothers! and
there is a black boy of fourteen or so, with
legs and feet so sweetly beautiful as to be
quite touching; at least I always feel those
lovely round young innocent forms to be somehow
affecting.
Our old boat of last summer (A—— T ——'s)
is sailing in company with us, and the stately
old Reyyis, Mubárak, hails me every morning
with the blessing of God and the peace of
the Prophet; and Alee Kubtán, my steamboat
captain, will announce our advent at Thebes.
He passed us to-day. The boat is a fine sailer,
but iron-built, and therefore noisy, and not
convenient. The crew encourage her with
“Get along, father of three!” because she has
three sails, whereas two is the usual number.
They are active, good-humoured fellows, my
men, but lack the Arab courtesy and simpatiche

ways. And then I don't like not understanding
their language, which is pretty, and sounds
like Caffre, rather bird-like and sing-song, instead
of the clattering, guttural Arabic. This
latter language I now speak tolerably for a
stranger, i. e. I can keep up a conversation;
I understand all that is said to me much better
than I can speak, and follow about half
what people say to each other. I bought a
very tolerable dictionary in Cairo, which is
a great help and comfort. When I see you,
Inshalláh, Inshalláh, next summer, I shall be
a good scholar, I hope.
Asyoot, December 29, 1864.
In haste. I am remarkably well, and the
weather very fine, though the wind is fitful
God bless you

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317

LETTER XLVIII.

El-Uksur,

January, 1865.

I DISPATCHED a letter for you by the Arab post
at Girgeh, as we had passed Asyoot with a
good wind; I hope you will get it. My crew
worked as I never saw men work; they were
paid to get to El-Uksur, and for eighteen days
they never rested nor slept, day or night, and
were all the time quite merry and pleasant. It
shows what powers of endurance these “lazy
Arabs” have when there is good money at the
end of a job, instead of the favourite panacea
of “stick.”
We arrived at midnight, and next morning
my boat had the air of being pillaged:
a crowd of laughing, chattering fellows ran
off to the house laden with, loose articles
snatched up at random,—loaves of sugar,

pots and pans, books, cushions,—all helter-skelter.
I feared breakages, but all was
housed safe and sound; the small boys, of
an age licensed to penetrate into the cabin,
went off with the oddest cargoes of dressing
things and the like; of baksheesh not one
word. “El-hamdu-lilláh salámeh” (thank God,
thou art in peace), and “Ya Sitt, ya Emeereh,”
till my head went round. Old Ismaeen fairly
hugged me, and little Ahmad clung close to
my side. I went up to Mustafa's house while
the unpacking took place, and breakfasted
there, and found letters from all of you, from
my dear mother, to my darling R,——, Sheykh
Yoosuf was charmed with her big hand-writing,
and said he thought the news in that
letter was the best of all. The weather was
intensely hot the two first days. Now it is
heavenly, a fine fresh air and gorgeous sunshine.
I brought two common Arab lanterns
for the tomb of Abu-1-Hajjáj, and his Moolid
is now going on. Omar took them and lighted
them up, and told me he found several people
who called on the rest to say the Fat'hah for
me.
I was sitting out yesterday with the people

on the sand, looking at the men doing fantasia
on horseback for the Sheykh, and a clever
dragoman of the party was relating about the
death of a young English girl whom he had
served, and so, de fil en aiguille, we talked
about the strangers buried here, and how the
bishop had extorted £100. I said, “Máleysh,
(never mind,) the people have been hospitable
to me while living, and they will not cease to
be so if I die, but will give me a tomb among
the Arabs.” One old man said, “May I not see
thy day, O Lady! and, indeed, thou shouldst be
buried as a daughter of the Arabs, though
we should fear the anger of thy Consul and
thy family; but thou knowest that, wherever
thou art buried, thou wilt assuredly lie in a
Muslim grave.”—“How so?” said I.—“Why,
when a bad Muslim dies, the angels take him
out of his tomb, and put one of the good from
among the Christians in his place.” This is
the popular expression of the doctrine that
the good are sure of salvation. Omar chimed
in at once: “Certainly, there is no doubt of it;
and I know a story that happened in the days
of Mohammad Alee Pasha which proves it.”
We demanded the story, and Omar began.

320

“There was once a very rich man of the
Muslims, so stingy, that he grudged everybody
even so much as ‘the bit of the paper inside
the date’ (Koran). When he was dying, he said
to his wife, ‘Go out and buy me a lump of
pressed dates;’ and when she had bought it,
he bade her leave him alone. Thereupon he
took all his gold out of his bash, and spread
it before him, and rolled it up, two or three
pieces at a time, in dates, and swallowed it,
piece after piece, until only three were left,
when his wife came in and saw what he was
doing, and snatched them from his hand.
Presently after he fell back and died, and was
carried out to the burial-place and laid in his
tomb. When the Kádee's men came to put
the seal on his property, and found no money,
they said, ‘O woman, how is this? We
know thy husband was a rich man, and behold,
we find no money for his children and slaves,
nor for thee.’ So the woman told what had
happened, and the Kádee sent for three other
of the Ulema, and they decided that after
three days she should go herself to her husband's
tomb and open it, and take the money
from his stomach. Meanwhile a guard was

put over the tomb, to keep away robbers.
After three days, therefore, the woman went,
and the men opened the tomb, and said, ‘Go
in, O woman, and take thy money.’
“So the woman went down into the tomb
alone. When there, instead of her husband's
body, she saw a box (coffin) of the boxes of the
Christians, and when she opened it she saw
the body of a young girl, adorned with many
ornaments of gold, necklaces, and bracelets,
and a diamond Kurs on her head, and over all
a veil of black muslin, embroidered with gold.
So the woman said within herself, ‘Behold, I
came for money, and here it is; I will take it,
and conceal this business for fear of the Kádee.’
So she wrapped up the whole in her melayeh
(a blue-checked cotton sheet, worn as a cloak),
and came out, and the men said, ‘Hast thou
done thy business? and she said, ‘Yes,’ and
returned home. In a few days, she gave the
veil she had taken from the dead girl to a
dellal (broker) to sell for her in the bazaar,
and the dellal went and showed it to the
people, and was offered a hundred piastres.
Now there sat in one of the shops of the merchants
a great Ma'allim, (Copt clerk), belonging

to the Pasha, and he saw the veil, and said,
‘How much askest thou? and the dellal
said, ‘O Hadrat-el-Ma'allim! (your Honour
the clerk,) whatever thou wilt.’ Then the
Ma'allim said, ‘Take from me these five hundred
piastres, and bring the person that gave
thee the veil to receive the money.’ So the
dellal fetched the woman, and the Copt, who
was a great man, called the police, and said,
‘Take this woman, and fetch my ass, and
we will go before the Pasha;’ and he rode in
haste to the palace, weeping and beating his
breast, and went before the Pasha, and said,
‘Behold, this veil was buried a few days ago
with my daughter, who died unmarried; and
I had none but her, and I loved her like
my eyes, and would not take from her her
ornaments; and this veil she worked herself,
and was very fond of it; and she was young
and beautiful, and just of the age to be married;
and behold, the Muslims go and rob the
tomb of the Christians, and if thou wilt suffer
this, we Christians will leave Egypt, and go
and live in some other country, O Efendeena!
(our Lord,) for we cannot endure this
abomination.’ Then the Pasha turned to the

woman, and said, ‘Woe to thee, O woman!
art thou a Muslimeh, and doest such wickedness?’
And the woman spoke, and told all
that happened, and how she sought money,
and finding gold, had kept it. So the Pasha
said, ‘Wait, O Ma'allim, and we will discover
the truth of this matter;' and he sent for
the three Ulema, who had desired that the
tomb should be opened at the end of three
days, and told them the case; and they said,
‘Open now the tomb of the Christian damsel,’
and the Pasha sent his men to do so; and
when they opened it, behold it was full of fire,
and within it lay the body of the wicked and
avaricious Muslim. Thus it was manifest to
all that on the night of terror the angels of
God had done this thing, and had laid the innocent
girl of the Christians among those who
have received direction, and the evil Muslim
among the rejected.”
Admire how rapidly legends arise here!
This story, which every body declared was quite
true, is placed no longer ago than in Mohammad
Alee Pasha's time.
There are hardly any travellers this year;
instead of a hundred and fifty or more boats,

perhaps twenty. A youth of fourteen, of Israelitish
race, has just gone up, travelling like
a royal prince in one of the Pasha's steamers,
having all his expenses paid, and crowds of
attendants. “All that honour to the money
of the Jew!” said an old Fellah to me, with a
tone of scorn. He has turned out his dragoman,
a respectable elderly man who is very
sick, paid him his bare wages, and given him
the munificent sum of six pounds to take him
back to Cairo. On board his boat he had
a doctor and plenty of servants, and yet he
abandons the man here on Mustafa's hands!
As I regret whatever tends to strengthen
prejudices, especially religious ones, I am very
sorry anything should occur to make the name
of Yahoodee stink yet more than it does in
the nostrils of the Arabs. I have brought Er-Rasheedee,
the sick man, to my house, as poor
Mustafa is already overloaded with strangers.
Mr. Herbert, the painter, went back to Cairo
from Farshoot below Kiné. So I have no
“Frangee “society at all; but Sheykh Yoosuf
and Sheykh Ibraheem, the Kádee, drop in to
tea very often, and as they are very agreeable
men, I am quite content with my company.

325

So far as manners go, no company can possibly
be better. Indeed, I must confess that
since I have become accustomed to the respectful
ways of well-bred Arabs to hareem,
I feel quite astonished at the manners of Englishmen.
And yet all the people here call
me “O sister!” and the poorest sit and talk
quite freely and easily, without any embarrassment
or constraint.
By the bye, I will tell you what I have
learned as to the tenure of land in Egypt,
which people are always disputing about, as
the Kádee laid it down for me.
The whole land belongs to the Sultan of
Turkey, the Pasha being his wekeel (representative),
nominally, of course, as we know.
Thus there are no owners, only tenants, paying
from a hundred piastres tareef (£1) down to
thirty piastres yearly per feddan (near about an
acre), according to the quality of the land, or
the favour of the Pasha when granting it. This
tenancy is hereditary to children, but not to
collaterals or ascendants, and it may be sold,
but in that case application must be made to
the Government (“el-meena”). If the owner or
tenant dies childless, the land reverts to the

Sultan, i.e. to the Pasha; and if the Pasha
chooses to have any man's land, he can take it
from him, with payment—or without. Don't
let any one tell you that I exaggerate, I have
known it happen: I mean the without; and
the man received feddán for feddán of desert
in return for his good land, which he had tilled
and watered.
To-morrow night is the great night of
Sheykh Abu-l-Hajjáj's moolid, and I am desired
to go to the mosque for the benefit of
my health, etc., and that my friends may say
a prayer for my children. The kind, hearty
welcome I found has been a real pleasure, and
every one was pleased, because I was glad to
come home to my “Beled—Beledee;” and
they all thought it so nice of my “master” to
have come so far to see me, because I was sick;
all but one Turk, who clearly looked with
pitying contempt on so much trouble taken
after a sick old woman.
I received your letter here. I did indeed
feel with you; I have never left off the habit
of thinking how I shall tell my father this
and that, and how such things would interest
him, and what he would say. The thought

comes, and with it the sadness, more often
than I can tell.
I have left my letter a long while. You
will not wonder, for after some ten days' fever,
my poor guest, Mohammad Er-Rasheedee, died
to-day. Two Prussian doctors gave me help
for the last four days, but went last night.
He sank to sleep quietly at noon, with his
hand in mine. A good old Muslim sat at his
head on one side, and I on the other. Omar
stood at his head, and his black slave-boy
Kheyr at his feet. We had laid his face towards
the Kibleh, and I spoke to him to see
if he were conscious, and when he nodded,
the three Muslims chanted the Islamee, “LaIláha,”
etc. etc., till I closed his eyes. The
“respectable men” came in by degrees, took
an inventory of his property, which they delivered
to me, and washed the body; and
within an hour and a half we all Went out to
the burial-place; I following among a troop
of women who joined us, to wail for “the
brother who had died far from ‘his place.”
The scene, as we turned in between the broken
colossi and pylones of the temple to go to the

mosque, was overpowering. After the prayer
in the mosque we went out to the graveyard,
—Muslims and Copts helping to carry the
dead, and my Frankish hat in the midst of
the veiled women; all so familiar and yet so
strange!
After the burial the Imám, Sheykh Abd-el-Waris,
came and kissed me on the shoulders;
and the Shereef, a man of eighty, laid his hands
on my shoulders and said:—“Fear not, my
daughter, neither all the days of thy life, nor
at the hour of thy death, for God leadeth thee
in the right way (sirát mustakeem).” I kissed
the old man's hand, and turned to go, but
numbers of men came and said, “A thousand
thanks, O our sister, for what thou hast done
for one among us!” and a great deal more.
Now the solemn chanting of the Fikees, and
the clear voice of the boy reciting the Koran
in the room where the man died, are ringing
through the house. They will pass the night
in prayer, and to-morrow there will be the
prayer of deliverance in the mosque. Poor
Kheyr has just crept in here for a quiet cry.
Poor boy! he is in the inventory, and to-morrow
I must deliver him up to “lea autorités,”

to be forwarded to Cairo with the rest of the
property. He is very ugly with his black face
wet and swollen, but he kisses my hand and
calls me his mother, “quite natural like.” You
see colour is no barrier between human beings
here.
The weather is glorious this year, and spite
of some fatigue and a good deal of anxiety,
I think I am really better. I never have felt
the cold so little as this winter, since my illness;
the chilly mornings and nights don't
seem to signify at all now, and the climate
seems more delicious than ever.
I am very sorry that the young traveller I
spoke of was so hard to Er-Rasheedee, and
that his French doctor refused to come and
see the dying man; such conduct naturally
makes bad blood here. The German doctors,
on the other hand, were most kind and helpful.
Tell young Mr. S——,* if you see him,
it was his dragoman who died in my house.
The Festival of Abu-l-Hajjáj was quite a
fine sight; not splendid at all,—au contraire,
but spirit-stirring; the flags of the Sheykh
borne by his family, chanting, and the men
* See page 196.

with their spears tearing about on horseback
in mimic fight. My acquaintance of last year,
Abd-el-Mutowwil, the fanatical sheykh from
Tunis, was there. At first he scowled at me;
then some one told him how Er-Rasheedee had
been left by his master, upon which he held
forth about the hatred of all unbelievers,
Jew or Christian, to the Muslims, and ended
by asking where the sick man was. A quiet
little smile twinkled in Sheykh Yoosuf's soft
eyes, and curled his silky moustache, as he
said demurely, “Your honour must go and visit
him at the house of the English lady.” I
am bound to say that the Pharisee “executed
himself” handsomely, for in a few minutes he
came up to me and took my hand, and even
hoped I should visit the tomb of Abu-l-Hajjáj
with him!!
Ramadán, February 7.
Since I wrote last I have been rather poorly,
—more cough and most wearing sleeplessness.
A poor young Englishman has died here,
at the house of the Austrian consular agent.
I was too ill to go to him; but a kind, dear
young Englishwoman, Mrs. Walker, who was

here with her family in a boat, sat up with him
three nights, and nursed him like a sister. A
young American lay sick at the same time in
the house; he is now gone down to Cairo, but
I doubt if he will reach it alive. The Englishman
was buried on the first day of Ramadán,
in the place where they bury strangers,
on the site of a former Coptic church. Archdeacon
Moore read the service; Omar and I
spread my old English flag over the bier, and
Copts and Muslims helped to carry the poor
stranger.
It was a most impressive sight: the party of
Europeans—all strangers to the dead, but all
deeply moved; the group of black-robed and
turbaned Copts, the sailors from the boats, the
gaily-dressed dragomans, several brown-shirted
Fellaheen, and the thick crowd of children—
all the little Abab'deh stark naked, and all behaving
so well; the expression on their little
faces touched me most of all. As Muslims,
Omar and the boatmen laid him down in the
grave; while the English prayer was read the
sun went down in a glorious flood of light
over the distant bend of the Nile. “Had he
a mother? he was young!” said an Abab'deh

woman to me, with tears in her eyes, and pressing
my hand in sympathy for that poor far-off
mother of such a different race.
I regret that so many of my letters have
been lost, but I can't replace them; I tried,
but it felt like committing a forgery. Passenger
steamers come now every fortnight,
but I have had no letters for a month, except
one of the 10th January, from ——, which
had been sent by private hand, and went to
Aswan, and then back by post. I have no
almanack, and have lost count of European
time; to-day is the 3rd of Ramadán, that is
all I know.
The poor black slave was sent back from
Kiné—God knows why; because he had no
money, and the Mudeer could not “eat off
him,” as he could off the money and goods,
he believes. In order to compensate me for
what he eats, he proposed to wash for me;
and you would be amused to see Kheyr, with
his coal-black face and filed teeth, doing laundry-maid
out in the yard. He fears Er-Rasheedee's
family will sell him, and hopes he
may fetch a good price “for his boy” (his master's son);
only, on the other hand, he would

so like me to buy him, and so his mind is disturbed:
meanwhile, the having all my clothes
washed clean is a great luxury.
The steamer is come, and I must finish in
haste.

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334

LETTER XLIX.

February, 1865.

M. PRéVOST-PARADOL is here for a few days,
and I am enjoying “a great indulgence of
talk,” as heartily as any nigger. He is a delightful
person. This evening he is coming
with Arakel Bey, his Armenian companion,
and I will invite a few Arabs to show him.
A little good European talk is a very agreeable
interlude to the Arab prosiness, or rather
enfantillage, on the part of the women.
M. Paradol is intoxicated with Egypt, yet
Egypt is not itself this year. All the land here,
which last year glowed in emerald verdure, is
now a dreary expanse of dry mud, brown and
desolate! The Nile is lower already than it
was at lowest Nile last July; it all ran away
directly this year, so that in many places there
will be no crops whatever.

335

There have been very few travellers this
year; indeed, none but a few Americans: one
Californian parson was a very nice fellow.
I paid Fadl Pasha a visit in his boat, and it
was just like a scene in the Middle Ages. In
order to amuse me, he called upon a horrid
little black boy of about four to do tricks like
a dancing dog, which ended in a performance
of the Muslim prayer. The little wretch was
dressed in a Stamboolee dress of scarlet cloth.
All the Arab doctors come to see me now
as they go up and down, and to give me a
help if I want it; some are very pleasant men.
Murad Efendi speaks German exactly like
a German. The old Sheykh-el-Beled of Erment,
who visits me whenever he comes here,
and has the sweetest voice I ever heard, complained
of the climate of Cairo. “There is
no sun there at all; it is no lighter or warmer
than the moon.” What do you think our sun
must be, now that you know what that of Cairo
is? We have had a glorious winter, like the
finest summer at home, only so much finer
The black slave, who was returned upon my
hands by the Mudeer of Kiné, is still here; it
seems no one's business to take him away, as

the Kádee did the money and goods; and so it
looks as if I should quietly inherit poor ugly
Kheyr, who is an excellent fellow, and of a
degree of ugliness quite transcendant. His
teeth are filed sharp, “in order to eat people,”
as he says; but he is the most good-humoured
creature in the world. It is evidently not my
business to send him to be sold in Cairo, so
I wait the event; meanwhile, he is a kind
of lady's-maid to me, and a very tolerable
laundryman. If nobody claims him, I shall
keep him at whatever wages may seem fit, and
he will subside into liberty. Du reste, the
Maohn here says he is legally entitled to his
freedom.
I fear my plan of a dahabeeyeh of my own
would be too expensive. The wages of common
boatmen are three napoleons a month.
I am very popular here, and the only Hakeem.
I have effected some brilliant cures,
and get lots of presents—eggs, turkeys, etc.
It is quite a pleasure to see the poor people;
instead of trying to spunge on one, they are
anxious to make a return for kindness. These
country-people are very good; a nice young
Circassian sat up with a dying Englishman, a

stranger, all night, because I had doctored his
wife.
I have also a pupil, Mustafa's youngest
boy, a sweet intelligent lad, who is pining
for an education. He speaks very well, and
reads and writes indifferently, but I never saw
a boy so wild to learn. I quite grieve, too,
over little Ahmad, forced to dawdle away his
time and his faculties here.

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338

LETTER L.

February 7th, 1865.

WE have delicious weather, and have had all
along. There has been no cold at all this
winter.
I have sought about for shells, and young
Mr. C—— tells me he has brought me a
few from the Cataract; but of snails, I can
hear no tidings, nor have I ever seen one;
neither can I discover that there are any
shells at all in the Nile mud. At the first
Cataract they are found sticking to the rocks.
The people here are very stupid about natural
objects that are of no use to them. As
with French badauds, the small birds are all
sparrows; and wild flowers there are none,
and only about five varieties of trees in all
Egypt. The Red Sea shells, I know, are
beautiful.

339

This is a sad year; all the cattle are dead.
The Nile is now as low as it was last July;
and the song of the men, watering with the
shadoofs, sounds sadly true, as they chant,
“Ana ga'án,” etc., “I am hungry, I am hungry
for a piece of dura bread,” sings one;
and the other chimes in, “Meskeen, meskeen!”
(Poor man! poor man!), or else they
sing a song about Seyyidna Eiyoob, “our Lord
Job,” and his patience. It is sadly appropriate
now, and rings on all sides, as the shadoofs
are greatly multiplied for lack of oxen
to turn the sákiyehs (water-wheels). All is
terribly dear, and many are sick from sheer
weakness, owing to poor food; and then I
hear fifty thousand men are to be taken to
work at the canal from Geezeh to Asyoot,
through the Fyoom. The only comfort is the
enormous rise of wages, which however falls
heavily on the rich.
If the new French Consul “knows not Joseph,”
and turns me out, I am to live in a new
house, which Sheykh Yoosuf is now building,
and of which he would give me the terrace, and
build three rooms on it for me.
If the Consul will let me stay on here, I

will leave my furniture, and come down straight
to Alexandria, en route for Europe. I know
all Thebes would sign a round-robin in my
favour, if they only knew how. I will leave
El-Uksur in May, and get to you towards the
latter part of June.
The Abab'deh have just been here, and propose
to take me, two months hence, to the Moolid
of Sheykh Abu-l-Hasan el-Shad'lee (the
coffee saint), in the Desert, three days' journey
from Edfoo. No English have ever been
there, they think, and all the wild Abab'deh
and Bishareeyeh go with their women and their
camels. It is very tempting, for I sleep very
ill, and my cough is harassing, and perhaps a
change like that might do me good.

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341

LETTER LI.

March 13, 1865.
Therm. 89° in my deewan at 4 P.M.

I HOPE your mind has not been disturbed
by any rumour of “battle, murder, and sudden
death” in our part of the world. A week
ago we heard that a Prussian boat had been
attacked, all on board murdered, and the boat
burnt; then that ten villages were in open
revolt, and that Efendeena (the Viceroy) himself
had come up and “taken a broom and
swept them clean;” i. e. exterminated the inhabitants.
The truth now appears to be, that a crazy
darweesh has made a disturbance; but I will
tell the story as I heard it.
He did as his father likewise did thirty
years ago, made himself “ism” (name) by repeating

one of the appellations of God, such as
“ya Lateef,” three thousand times every night
for three years, which rendered him invulnerable.
He then made friends with a Jinn, who
taught him many more tricks; among others,
that practised in England by the Davenports,
of slipping out of any bonds. He then deluded
the people of the Desert, giving himself
out as “El-Mahdi” (he who is to come with
the Lord Jesus, and to slay Antichrist at the
end of the world), and proclaimed a revolt
against the Turks. Three villages below Kiné,
Gow, Rahaeneel, and Bedu, took part in the
disturbance, upon which Fadl Pasha came up
with troops in steamboats, shot about a hundred
men, and devastated the fields. At first, we
heard a thousand were shot, now it is a hundred.
The women and children will be distributed
among other villages. The darweesh,
some say, is killed, others that he is gone off
into the Desert with a body of Bedawees, and
a few of the Fellaheen from the three ravaged
villages. Gow is a large place,—as large, I
think, as El-Uksur. The darweesh is a native
of Salameeyeh, a village close by here; and yesterday
his brother, one Mohammad et-Teiyib, a

very quiet man, and his father's father-in-law,
old Hajji Sultan, were carried off prisoners to
Cairo or Kiné, we don't know which. It
seems that the boat robbed belonged to Greek
traders, but none were hurt, I believe, and no
European boat has been molested. Baron
K—— was here yesterday with his wife, and
they saw all the sacking of the villages, and
said no resistance was offered by the people,
whom the soldiers were shooting down as they
ran, and they saw the sheep and cattle driven
off by the soldiers.
You need be under no alarm about me.
The darweesh and his followers could not
pounce on us, as we are eight good miles from
the Desert, i. e. the Mountain. So we must
have timely notice; and we have arranged that
if they appeared in the neighbourhood, the
women and children of the outlying huts,
and also any travellers in boats, should come
into my house, which is a regular fortress;
and we muster little short of seven hundred
men, able to fight (including El-Karnak).
Moreover, Fadl Pasha and the troops are at
Kiné, only forty miles off.
Three English boats went down stream today,

and one came up. Baron and Baroness
K——went up the river last night; I dined
with them and with the Copt who is their consular
agent here. She is very lively and pleasant.
A little boy here has fallen desperately in
love with her (he is twelve, and quite a boyish
boy, though a very clever one). He had put
on a turban to-day, on the strength of his
passion, to look like a man, and had neglected
his dress otherwise, as he said young men do
when they are sick of love. The lady is, I
imagine, about thirty. The fact is, she was
kind and amiable, and tried to amuse him, as
she would have done to a white boy, which
inflamed his susceptible heart. He asked me
if I had any medicine to make him white; he
little knows how very pretty he is with his
brown face. As he sat cross-legged on the carpet
at my feet, with his white turban and blue
shirt, reading aloud, he was quite a picture.
My little Ahmad, who is donkey-boy and
general little slave, the smallest, slenderest.
quietest little creature, has implored me to
take him with me to England, or to any “beled
Frangee,
” wherever I go. I wish R——
could see him; she would be so surprised at

his dark, brown little face, so “fein” and with
eyes like a dormouse. He is a true little
Arab; can run all day in the heat, sleeps on
the stones, and eats anything; quiet, gentle,
and noiseless, and fiercely jealous. If I speak
to any other boy, he rushes at him and drives
him away; while black Kheyr was in the
house, Ahmad suffered a martyrdom, and the
kitchen was the scene of incessant wrangle
about the coffee. Kheyr would bring me my
coffee, and Ahmad resented this usurpation of
his functions; of course quite hopelessly, as
Kheyr was a great, stout black of eighteen,
and poor little Ahmad not bigger than R——.
I am really tempted to adopt the vigilant, active
little creature. I will send this letter by
a steamer, which came up last night and goes
to-morrow. It brings a party of Russians to
see Thebes in two days!
Sheykh Yoosuf returned from a visit to Salameeyeh
last night. He tells me the darweesh,
Ahmad et-Teiyib, is not dead; he believes
that he is a mad fanatic and a communist.
He wants to divide all property
equally, and to kill all the Ulema and destroy
all theological teaching by learned men, and

to preach a sort of revelation or interpretation
of the Koran of his own. “He would break
up your pretty clock,” said Yoosuf, “and give
every man a broken wheel out of it; and so
with all things.”
One of the dragomans had been urging me
to go down the Nile, but Yoosuf laughed at
any idea of danger. He says the people here
have fought the Bedaween, and will not be
attacked by such a handful as are out in the
mountain now. Du reste, the Abu-l-Hajjajeeyeh
(family of Abu-l-Hajjáj), the Shurafa, will
“put their seal to it” that I am their sister,
and answer for me with a man's life. It would
be foolish to go down into whatever disturbance
there may be, alone, in a small country
boat, and where I am not known.
The Pasha himself, we hear, is at Girgeh,
with steamboats and soldiers; and if the slightest
fear should arise, steamers will be sent up
to fetch all the Europeans. What I grieve
over is the poor villagers, whose little property
is all confiscated; guilty and innocent, all alike
are involved in one common ruin.
I hear that there is great and general discontent
The Pasha's attempt to regulate the

price of food has had the usual results of such
attempts; and of course the present famine
prices are laid to his charge. I don't believe
in an outbreak; I think the people too much
accustomed to suffer and to obey; besides, they
have no means of communication, and the
steamboats can run up and down and destroy
them en détail, in a country which is eight
hundred miles long by from one to eight wide,
and thinly peopled. Only Cairo could do anything,
and everything is done to please the
Caireens at the expense of the Fellaheen.
The great heat has lasted these three days;
my cough is better, and I am grown fatter
again. The Nile is so low that I fancy six
weeks or two months hence I shall have to go
down in two little boats; even now the dahabeeyehs
keep sticking fast continually.
I have promised my neighbours to bring
back some seed-corn for them; the best English
wheat without a beard. All the wheat
here is bearded, and they are very desirous
to have some of ours. I long to bring them
wheelbarrows and spades and pickaxes. The
great folks get steam-engines, but the labourers
work with no better implements than their

bare hands and a rush basket, and it takes
six men to do the work of one who has good
tools.
I send you a pretty fragment of a tablet,
such as Joseph numbered his master's goods
on. It will serve as a paperweight.

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349

LETTER LII.

March, 1865.

“May the whole year be fortunate to thee!”
(The ‘compliments of the season.’)
Now is Bairam, I rejoice to say, and I have
lots of physic to make up for all the stomachs
damaged by Ramadán. I have persuaded the
engineer who was with Lord —— to take
my dear little pupil, Ahmad Ibn-Mustafa, to
learn the business at Fowler's engineering
shop at Leeds, instead of idling in his father's
house here. Mr. Fowler has kindly offered
to take him without a premium. I will give
the child a letter to you, in case he should
go to London. He is a good and intelligent
boy. It is very good-natured of Lord——
to take him.
He has been reading the Gospels with me

at his own desire. I refused, till I had asked
his father's consent. Sheykh Yoosuf, who
heard me, begged me by all means to make
him read them carefully, so as to guard him
against the heretical inventions he might be
beset with among the English “of the vulgar
sort.” What a dilemma for a missionary!
I sent down the poor black lad Kheyr with
Arakel Bey; he took leave of me with his
ugly face all blubbered, like a sentimental
hippopotamus. He said, “for himself he
wished to stay with me, but then what would
his boy (his little master) do? There was only
a stepmother, who would take all the money,
and who else could work for the boy?” Little
Ahmad was charmed to see Kheyr depart, of
whom he chose to be horribly jealous, and to
be wroth at all he did for me.
Now the Sheykh-el-Beled of Baidyeh has
carried off my watchman, and the Christian
Sheykh-el-Hárah, of our quarter of El-Uksur,
has taken the boy Yoosuf for the canal; the
former I successfully resisted, and got back
Mansoor, not indeed “incolumis,” for he had
been handcuffed and bastinadoed, in order to
make me pay two hundred piastres; but he

bore it like a man, rather than ask me for the
money, and was thereupon surrendered. But
the Copt will be a tough business; he will
want more money, and be more resolved to get
it. Veremos. I must, I suppose, go to the
Nazir at the canal (a Turk), and buy off my
donkey-boy.
I gave Lord —— an Arab dinner on a
grand scale, to meet all the notabilities at El-Uksur.
I think he was quite frightened at the
sight of the tray, and the Arab fashions and
company, and the black fingers in the dishes.
Yesterday was Bairam, and numbers of “hareera”
came in their best clothes to wish me a
happy year, and enjoyed themselves much with
sweet cakes, coffee, and pipes. Khursheed's
wife (whom I cured completely) looked very
handsome. Khursheed is a Circassian, a fine
young fellow, much shot and hacked about,
and with a Crimean medal. He is kawás here,
and a great friend of mine. He says, if ever I
want a servant, he will go with me anywhere,
and fight anybody, which I don't doubt in the
least. He was a Turkish memlook, and his
condescension in wishing to serve a Christian
woman is astounding. His fair face, and clear

blue eyes, and brisk, neat, soldier-like air, contrast
curiously with the brown Fellaheen. He
is like an Englishman, only fairer, and, like
Englishmen, too fond of the coorbaj. What
would you say if I appeared attended by a
memlook, with pistols, sword, dagger, carbine,
and coorbaj, and with a decided and imperious
manner,—the very reverse of the Arab
softness? Such a Muslim too! Prayers five
times a day, and extra fasts, besides Ramadán.
“I beat my wife,” said Khursheed; “oh, I
beat her well! she talked so much; and I am
like the English, I don't like many words.”
I was talking the other day with Yoosuf
about people trying to make converts, and
I uttered that eternal båtise, “Oh, they mean
well!” “True, O lady! perhaps they do
mean well, but God says in the noble Koran
that he who injures or torments those Christians
whose conduct is not evil, merely on account
of religion, shall never smell the fragrance
of the garden (paradise). Now, when
men begin to want to make others change
their faith, it is extremely hard for them not
to injure or torment them; and therefore I
think it better to abstain altogether, and to

wish rather to see a Christian a good Christian,
and a Muslim a good Muslim.”
No wonder a pious old Scotchman told me
that the truth which undeniably existed in the
Muslim faith was the work of Satan, and the
Ulema were his “meenisters.” That benign
saint, Yoosuf, a “meenister” of Satan! I really
think I have learnt some “Muslim humility,” for
I endured this harangue, and did not argue at
all. But, as Satan himself would have it, the
fikees were just then reading the Koran in
the hall; and Omar, who gave a khatmeh that
day at his own expense, came in and politely
offered the Scotchman some sweets prepared
for the occasion.
I have been really amazed at several instances
of English fanaticism this year. Why
do people come to a Muslim country with
such hatred “in their stomachs” as I have witnessed
three or four times?
I often feel quite hurt at the way in which
the people here thank me for what the poor at
home would turn up their noses at. I think
hardly a dragoman has been up the river since
Er-Rasheedee died, but has come to thank me
as warmly as if I had done himself some great

service, and many to give me some little present.
While the man was ill, numbers of the Fellaheen
brought eggs, pigeons, etc.,—even a turkey;
and food is worth money now, not as it used
to be (e. g., butter is three shillings a pound).
I am quite weary, too, of hearing, “Of all the
Frangee, I never saw one like thee!” Was
no one ever at all humane before? For, remember,
I give no money, only a little physic
and civility. How the British cottager would
“thank you for nothing!” and how I wish my
neighbours here could afford to do the same!
After much wrangling, Mustafa has got back
my boy Yoosuf, but the Christian Sheykh El
Hárah has made his brother pay two pounds,
whereat Mohammad looks very rueful. Two
hundred men are gone out of our village to
the works, and of course the poor hareem have
not bread to eat, as the men had to take all
they had with them.

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355

LETTER LIII.

El-Uksur,

March, 1865.

I DINED with Baroness —— one day, and
after dinner we invited several Arab Sheykhs
to come for coffee. The little Baronin won
all hearts by her pleasant vivacity, and to see
the dark faces glittering with merry smiles as
they watched her, was very droll.
Mustafa also gave us a capital dinner; the
two Abab'deh Sheykhs, the Sheykh of El-Karnak,
the Maohn, and Sheykh Yoosuf dined
with us. The Sheykh of El-Kanak took off
the lamb's head, and handed it to me in token of
the highest respect. He performed miracles of
eating, and I complimented him, in the words
of the popular song, on “doing deeds that
Antar did not.” After dinner, Baroness ——
showed the Arabs how ladies curtsey to the

Queen of England, upon which the Abab'deh
acted the ceremonial of presentation at the
Court of Darfoor, where you have to rub your
nose in the dust at the king's feet. Then we
went out with lanterns and torches, and the
Abab'deh danced the sword-dance for us. It is
performed by two men with round shields and
great straight swords. One dances a pas seul of
challenge and defiance, with prodigious leaps
and pirouettes, and Hah! Hah's! Then the
other enters, and a grand fight ensues. When
the handsome Sheykh Hasan bounded out, the
scene was really heroic. All his attitudes
were alike grand and graceful.
They wanted Sheykh Yoosuf to play the
Arab single-stick—“en-Nebboot,” and said he
was the best man hereabouts at it; but as his
sister died lately, he would not. One of them
expressed a great desire to learn “the fighting
of the English.” He little knows how he
would get pounded by English fists.
Another night I went to tea in Lord——‘s
boat. Their sailors gave a grand fantasia,
curiously like a Christmas pantomime. One
danced like a woman (Columbine), and there
was a regular Pantaloon, only “more so,” and

a sort of Clown in sheepskins and a pink mask,
who was duly tumbled about, and distributed
claques freely with a huge wooden spoon.
I am so used now to our poor, shabby life,
that it makes quite a strange impression on
me to see all the splendour which English travellers
manage to bring with them on board
their boats,—splendour which, two or three
years ago, I should not even have remarked.
And thus, out of my “inward consciousness”
(as Germans say), many of the peculiarities
and faults of the people of Egypt are explained
to me and accounted for.
The weather is now very unpleasant; the
winds have begun, and as all which last year
was green is now arid, the dust is beyond all
belief. I must move down as soon as I can.
Sheykh Hasan Abab'deh is going down in
his boat with a party, in twenty days or so, and
suggests that I should travel under his escort,
in case there should be any straggling robbers
about. I am not afraid, but if I hear in time
that no dahabeeyeh has been bought for me,
I may as well join Hasan. His party will be
six or eight guns, I believe. If there is no
dahabeeyeh and I do not go with Hasan, I will

send to Kiné for two small boats, each with
one cabin, so as to avoid the constant “sitzen
bleiben”
of a large boat in this extraordinarily
low Nile. It is now many cubits lower than
it was last year at its lowest, three months
later.
I intended, as I told you, to go this year
to the moolid of Sheykh-el-Shád'lee, out in
the Bisharee desert; but I fear it would delay
me too long, for the descent of the Nile will
be very tedious for want of water and consequently
of current, and from the violent north
winds having set in two months before their
time. “Inshallah, next year!” say my friends.
The Hajjees have just started from hence
to Koseir, some with camels and donkeys, but
most on foot. They are in very great numbers
this year. The women drummed and chanted
all night on the river-bank, and it was fine to see
fifty or sixty men in a line praying after their
Imám, with the red glow of the sunset behind
them. The prayer in common is quite a drill,
and very stately to see. There are always quite
as many women as men. One wonders how
they stand the march and the hardships.
My little Ahmad grows more pressing with

me to take him. I will take him to Alexandria,
I think, and leave him in J——‘s house, to
learn more home service. He is a dear little
boy, and very useful. I don't suppose his brother
will object, and he has no parents.
Ahmad Ibn-Mustafa also coaxes me to take
him with me to Alexandria, and try again to
get his father to send him to England. I wish
most heartily I could. He is an uncommon
child in every way, full of ardour to learn and
do something, and yet childish and winning
and full of fun. His pretty brown face is
quite a pleasure to me. His remarks on the
New Testament teach me as many things as
I can teach him. The boy is pious, and not
at all ill taught; he is much pleased to find
so many points of resemblance between the
teaching of the Koran and the “Engeel.” He
wanted me, in case Omar did not go with me,
to take him to serve me. Here there is no
idea of its being derogatory for a gentleman's
son to wait on an oldish person; and on one
who teaches him, it is positively incumbent.
He does all “menial offices” for his mother in
Alexandria, and always hands coffee, waits at
table, or helps Omar in anything, if I have

company; nor will he eat or smoke before me,
or sit till I tell him. It is like service in the
Middle Ages.
Mustafa asks whether the boy could be
put to school and kept in England for a hundred a year. Of course it must be a school
where no conversion would be attempted.
Mustafa is a strong Muslim, though so fond of
the English.

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361

LETTER LIV.

El-Uksur,

April 3rd, 1865.

IN my last letter to ——, I told how one
Ahmad et-Teiyib, a mad darweesh, had raised
a riot at Gow, below Kiné, and how a boat had
been robbed, and how we were all rather looking
out for a razzia and determined to fight
Ahmad and his followers. Then we called
them “harámee,” and were rather blood-thirstily
disposed towards them, and resolved
to keep order and protect our property. But
now we say “nás mesákeen,” and can only
bewail the misery which this outbreak has
brought on the unfortunate villagers. The
truth, of course, we shall never know. I can
only send you the rumours which reach me.
No doubt there is another version of this miserable
story current at Cairo and Alexandria,
and it may be that there are facts of which I

have not heard. But I live among the oppressed
race, and I cannot help it if the profound
compassion inspired by their fate makes
me lean to their side.
It seems that a Greek boat was plundered,
and the steersman killed; but I cannot make
out that anything was done by the “insurgents”
beyond going out into the desert to
listen to the darweesh's nonsense, and see “a
reed shaken by the wind.” The party that
robbed the boat was, I am told, about forty
strong. The most horrid stories are current
among the people, of the cruelties committed
on the wretched villagers by the soldiers;
and unhappily, past experience makes them
but too credible.
The worst thing is that every one believes
that the Europeans aid and abet, and all declare
that the Copts were spared to please the
Frangees. Mind, I am not telling you facts;
I only repeat what the people are saying.
One Mohammad, a most respectable, quiet
young man, sat before me on the floor the
other day, and told me the horrible details
he had heard from those who had come up
the river. “Thou knowest, O our lady, that

we are people of peace in this place; and
behold, now, if one madman should come,
and a few idle fellows go out to the Mountain
(desert) with him, Efendeena will send
his soldiers to destroy the place, and spoil
our poor little girls, and hang us: is that
right, O lady? And Ahmad-el-Berberee saw
Europeans with hats in the steamer with
Efendeena and the soldiers. Truly, in all the
world none are miserable like us Arabs. The
Turks beat us, and the Europeans hate us and
say ‘quite right.’ By God, we had better
lay our heads in the dust (die), and let the
strangers take our land and grow cotton for
themselves. As for me, I am tired of this
miserable life, and of fearing for my poor
little girls.” Mohammad was really eloquent,
and when he threw his meláyeh over his face
and sobbed, I am not ashamed to say that I
cried too.
I know very well that Mohammad was not
quite wrong in what he says of the Europeans.
I know the cruel old platitudes about governing
orientals by fear; I know all about “the
stick” and “vigour,” and all that. But I “sit
among the people,” and I know too that Mohammad

feels just the same as John Smith or
Tom Brown would feel in his place, and that
men who were exasperated against the rioters
in the beginning are now in much the same
humour as free-born Britons might be under
similar circumstances.
What is characteristic of this country and
people is, that a thing happening within a few
weeks and within sixty miles already assumes
a legendary character.
According to the popular belief the affair
began thus:—A certain Copt had a Muslim
slave-girl, who had read the Koran and who
served him. He wanted her to be his concubine,
and she would not, and went to Ahmad
et-Teiyib, who offered money for her to
her master. He refused it and insisted on his
rights, backed by the government, whereupon
Ahmad proclaimed a revolt, and the people,
tired of taxes and oppressions, said “we
will go with thee.” But Ahmad et-Teiyib is
not dead, and where the bullets hit him he
shows little marks like burns. He still sits in
the island, invisible to the Turkish soldiers,
who are still there. This is the only bit of
religious legend connected with the business.

365

Now for a little fact. The boat which
brought up the prisoners from Gow stopped
a mile above El-Uksur. I saw it, but the
prisoners were all below. The Sheykh of the
Abab'deh here has had to send a party of
his men to guard them through the desert.
When we came near the boat my companion
went on as far as the point of the island; I
turned back, after only looking at it from
the bank, and smelling the smell of a slaveship.
It never occurred to me, I own, that the
Bey on board had fled before a solitary woman
on a donkey, but so it was. He had given
orders not to let me come on board, and told
the captain to go a mile or two further, which
he did; the boat stopped three miles above
El-Uksur, and its dahabeeyehs had all their
things carried to that distance. There were
on board “a hundred prisoners less two”
(ninety-eight). Amongst them, the Mudeer
of Soohág, a Turk, in chains and wooden handcuffs
like the rest. The poor creatures are
dreadfully ill-used by the men who guard
them. There has been some disturbance up
at Esneh, and twelve men are gone down in
chains to Kiné, four of them having been concerned

in the riots, the rest only because they
are related to Ahmad et-Teiyib.
From Salaneeyeh, two miles above El-Uksur,
it is said that every man, woman, and child in
any degree akin to Ahmad et-Teiyib has been
taken in chains to Kiné, and no one here expects
to see one of them return alive. Some
are remarkably good men, I hear; and I have
heard men say, “If Haggee Sultan is killed and
all his family, we will never do a good action
any more, for we see it is of no use.”
It is more curious than you can conceive,
to hear all that the people say. It is just like
going back four or five centuries at least, but
with the admixture of the heterogeneous element
of steamers, electric telegraphs, etc.
There was a talk, I find, among the three
or four Europeans here, at the beginning of
the rumours of the revolt, of organizing a defence
amongst Christians only. Conceive what
a silly and gratuitous provocation! Religion
had nothing whatever to do with the affair;
and of course, the proper person to organize
defence was the Maohn; he and Mustafa and
others had indeed talked of using my house
as a castle, and defending that in case of a visit

from the rioters. I have no doubt the true
cause of the disturbance is the usual one—
hunger,—the high price of food. It was like
our Swing or bread riots,—nothing more, and
a very feeble affair too.
It is curious to see the travellers' gay dahabeeyehs
passing just as usual, and the Europeans
as far removed from all care or knowledge
of these distresses as if they were at
home. When I go and sit with the English,
I feel almost as if they were foreigners to me
too,—so completely am I now “Bint el-Beled”
(daughter of the country).
Altogether, we are most miserable here,—
all we Fellaheen. The country is a waste for
want of water, the animals are skeletons, the
people are hungry, the heat has set in like
June, and there is some sickness, and, above
all, the massacres at Gow have embittered all
hearts. There is no Zaghareet to be heard, and
all faces are sad and gloomy. I shall not
be surprised if there are more disturbances.
At first, as I told you, every one was furious
against Ahmad-et Teiyib and the insurgents;
but since they have been so frightfully dealt
with, of course we pity them and their poor

women and children. These “vigorous measures
“will cause the evil they are meant to
punish. You know I don't buy or sell, or
lend money, or even give it. So no one has
any interest in concealing his true feelings
from me, and the people talk to me wherever
I go. I wish “Efendeena” could hear a little
of what I hear. I have no doubt he is ignorant
of much that is done in his name.
I have just seen a man who was at Gow,
and who tells me fourteen hundred men were
decapitated, and a hundred were sent to Feyzoghloo
in the steamer. Ahmad et-Teiyib has
escaped. I think my informant is quite a
truthful man. He says that all these cruelties
were perpetrated by the local Pashas, and
that the Viceroy ordered the massacre to be
stopped as soon as he knew of it.

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369

LETTER LV.

El-Uksur,

Good Friday,
14th April, 1865.

THE version of the massacre here, current at
Alexandria, is quite curious to us.
I know well the Sheykh-el-Arab who helped
to catch the poor people, and I know also a
young Turk who stood by while Fadl Pasha
had the men laid down by ten at a time, and
chopped with the pioneers' axes. He quite admired
the affair (though a very good-natured
young fellow), and expressed a desire to do
likewise. The lowest computation of men,
women, and children killed is sixteen hundred.
M.M——reckons it at above two thousand.
I have seen with my eyes a second boat-load
of prisoners. I wish fervently the Viceroy knew

the deep exasperation which his subordinates
are causing. I do not like to repeat all that I
hear. What must it be, to force from all the
most influential men and the most devout
Muslims such a sentiment as this?—“We are
Muslims, but we should thank God to send
Europeans to govern us.” The feeling is
against the Turks, and not against Christians.
A Coptic friend of mine here has lost all
his uncle's family at Gow. All were shot
down, Copt and Arab alike.
As to Hajji Sultan, who lies in chains at
Kiné, a better man never lived, nor one more
liberal to Christians. Copts ate of his bread
as freely as Muslims. He lies there because he
is distantly related by marriage to Ahmad
et-Teiyib; or, to give the real reason, because
he is wealthy, and some enemy covets his
goods. All this could be confirmed to you by
M. M——. Perhaps I know even more of
the feelings of the people than he. I sit every
evening with some party or other of decent
men, and they speak freely before me.
I assure you I am in despair at all I see, and
if the soldiers do come, it will be worse than
the cattle disease. Are not the Cavasses bad

enough? Do they not buy in the market at
their own prices, and beat the Sakkas in sole
payment for the skins of water they take from
them by force?
Who denies it here? At Cairo things are
“kept sweet;” but here—Allah kereem! Of
course Efendeena hears the “smooth prophecies”
of the tyrants whom he sends up
here. When I wrote before, I knew nothing
certain; but now I have the testimony of
eye-witnesses. It is certain that an order from
the Viceroy did stop the slaughter of women
and children which Fadl Pasha was about to
perpetrate.
THE END.

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PRINTED BY
JOHN EDWARD TAYLOR, LITTLE QUEEN STREET,
LINCOLN'S INN FIELDS.




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Date: (unknown) (Electronic edition revised July 2006) . Author: Duff Gordon, Lucie, Lady, 1821-1869. (Electronic edition revised LMS).
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons attribution license.